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UNITED PRESBYTERIAN MAGAZINE,
FOR OCTOBER, 1853.
“My people doth not consider.”
Tre want of consideration is as serious and as dangerous as the want of knowledge. The man who sees a precipice before him, or a deep chasm at his feet, and, in a fit of abstraction, fails to observe the difference between the empty void and the solid ground, will fall over as certainly, and be injured as severely, as if he had been wholly deprived of vision. The foolish virgins, though they knew that the cry "the bridegroom cometh "might at any moment be raised, are shut out from the marriage feast as inexorably as if they had all along been in deepest ignorance of their position. Many people say they know what is right-they have been trained by religious parents—have been taught to read the Scriptures—have their book-shelves stored with excellent books, and have every Sabbath been listening to intelligent and enlightening preaching; but what though all this were true, if they will not reflect on what has been taught them? The discoverers of new truth are admired and talked of; but measured by the standard of usefulness, they who can induce their neighbours to think seriously on what they know already, will probably benefit society more than the most brilliant inventors are ever likely to do.
It is a great truth, and too little considered, that the soul of man is immortal. The very nature of the soul-an active, thinking, restless, principle—its boundless capacity of progress—its feelings implanted in it by the great Creator, specially its horror of annihilation, and “this pleasing hope—this fond desire and longing after immortality"; the analogy of external creation which furnishes examples of change and improvement remarkably like that implied in the resurrection of the body—these considerations alone, if they do not absolutely shut up to the conclusion that the soul cannot die, at least shut out any contrary conclusion as a resting place for a rational mind, This doctrine, however, the word of God plainly affirms, and every professing Christian acknowledges. But is the great truth duly considered? When, for example, a child is born into the world, is it sufficiently remembered, that
YOL, VII, NO. X.
in that birth, an existence has begun which shall never terminate, world without end—that a stream of life has started forth, which shall run on and on into eternity? If an heir is born to some great estate, there is rejoicing among the tenants and retainers ; bonfires are kindled, and the feast spread, to show how much the event is appreciated. How little of such interest is shown, when the simple fact is heard of that one is born an heir of immortality! Is it enough thought of by parents when training their children, that they are educating for eternity? Is it not often forgotten by Sabbath teachers, when they are apt to lose patience with dull or obstinate or careless scholars, —that they are striving for souls which shall never cease to be? When professing Christians are so busy from morn till night, and from Sabbath to Sabbath in the business of this world—that they cannot allow their soul an hour's rest for calm and serious spiritual reflection, do they consider that the spirit which stirs within them, and for which they are labouring so little, is a deathless principle, which will survive the wreck of ages and the crash of worlds ? Surely, if the fact were earnestly pondered and practically dealt with, there would be less fretfulness about momentary troubles-less anxiety about worldly hopes-less absorption of the heart in worldly concerns; and that there is so much of these even among the professing people of God, is too plain evidence, that if, in respect to this doctrine of immortality, God's people hath known-God's people hath not considered.
Another truth too seldom considered, is, that a day of righteous judgment awaits our world. There is in the human mind, an innate sense which looks to some future great transaction for clearing up and rectifying much that is obscure and wrong in the state of society. This confiding sense of justice being derived from our Creator, we conclude, that He who gave it must be a holy and righteous being. Then we see enough within us and around us, to satisfy our minds, that God is great in wisdom and power, able to execute what his holy nature demands. But with this might and this love of right together, on the part of the Sovereign ruler, there is still much iniquity permitted in the world. The groanings of the oppressed—the boasting of oppressors—the triumphs of successful cunning—the reeking dens of licentiousness, and other sights and sounds equally revolting, continue from day to day to defy the power and mock the rectitude of the great God. Shall they so continue for ever? Can we explain why Almighty justice permits thern even for a day, except on the supposition that a time is coming when all will be set to right, and the balance of this world's affairs finally adjusted? But this conclusion of enlightened reason is confirmed by holy
God hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness; and according to this righteous judgment shall be our doom, brightening into seraphs in the presence of the Lamb, or blackening into fiends with the devil and his angels, through everlasting ages. This is the truth of God; is it considered ? It is admitted into our creeds; is it admitted into our hearts and lives? There is a professing Christian tormenting himself day and night, because some one, as he thinks, has not done him justice, and ready to move heaven and earth, that justice may be done him. Could he be so plagued and worried with such cares, were he to remember that a day is coming, when all that is wrong shall be infallibly rectified? Here is one taking an unrighteous advantage of his neighbour, because the act is allowed by law, or because there is no probability of detection ; could he do this wickedness if he reflected that he is one day to be confronted with his neighbour before a righteous judge who knows the whole case ? There is one neglecting some social duty on the ground that others neglect it, and that he would get little credit for attending to it; could he reason in this way, if he considered that the Christian's reward is awaiting him at the great assize? This impatience of providence—this secret and self-condemned sin—this apologizing for the neglect of known and felt duty, all resolve themselves into a want of considering-or, as it is practically, a want of believing
the doctrine of a judgment to come.
A third truth supremely important, and too little considered, is, that God is an all-present and all-seeing witness of human conduct. It results from the spiritual nature and supreme authority of God, that He must be every where ; for if we suppose a place where He is not, we leave room, so to speak, for one to defy Him; that is, for a rival god. But without dwelling on the evidence from natural reason, it is enough in addressing professing Christians to affirm the fact as one taught in the divine word, that God is omnipresent -that no distance can remove from Him-that no darkness hides from Him ---that to his all-penetrating vision, the darkness and the light are both alike always. But is this truth considered ? Is it a constant, pervading, operating persuasion even with professing Christians ? Here is one who has suffered wrong at the hands of his fellow-men ; the wrong has been repeated, and there is no probability of his obtaining redress ; he is sad and downcast, as if justice had left the earth. Does he reflect that God sees him, and that God never looks with more approval upon his children, than when He sees them bravely bearing up against difficulty, and boldly breasting the wave of opposition raised by ungodly men ! There is one who would be ashamed that certain godly neighbours should see him doing certain actions, mingling in certain company, returning home at a certain hour of the night; but if these things can be done without discovery, they give him little concern. Now, does he consider that God sees through the dark cloud ?
Does he remember that God's eye was on him at the time, when, as he congratulates himself, he was unseen by his virtuous neighbours ? What a different course would be pursued by multitudes who profess to believe in the all-present and all-observing God, if they would consider what they know, and realize practically the sentiment, “ Thou God seest me.
A fourth truth well known, yet too seldom thought of, is that man--every man-must very soon die. No fact is more generally or more freely admitted than this, that when a few short days have passed, there shall be nothing more of us in the earth than a mass of putrefying clay. On this point every child is now proof against the arrow of temptation before which the mother of us all fell, when Satan said to her, “ Thou shalt not surely die.” But if men know this, do they consider it? Do they look
the world as a scene from which they are soon to part, and upon its affairs as that in which they shall soon have no more interest, and upon its wealth as something of which they shall not be able to claim the minutest part of the smallest fraction ? If these things are considered, why that universal scramble for riches? Why that deference to the possessors of mere wealth? Why that disconsolate regret when riches have taken wings and flown away? Why so much more anxiety and study to qualify children for gaining wealth in this world, than to fit them for laying up treasures in heaven? Satan knows well that he cannot conceal from men the fact that they must needs die : but if he cannot help their knowing it, he hinders them from considering it, and in either way he triumphs. To number their days, as a question in arithmetic, is an easy task. Some threescore years and ten, or four-score years, make up the whole amount. But to consider the number; to see the consequences of its smallness; to learn the lessons which flow from it; this is the attainment of few in comparison, and needs a divine teaching.
Many other solemn, unconsidered truths, will suggest themselves in this train of reflection. That all men are sinners; that God hates sin; that hell is prepared for the destruction of the impenitent; that the Son of God died to save from this doom all who believe in him ; that God is willing and waiting to give his Spirit, as the spirit of faith, love, and repentance, to them who seek it; that the Christian's time in this world is infinitely precious as a season for promoting the kingdom of God among men; or, to sum up all in one comprehensive statement, " That the word of God is true;" how commonly these things are admitted ! how widely they are known ! how little they are considered !
In turning to the pages of a magazine, readers expect something new ; it will satisfy us if, in the observations now offered, we are found to have advanced not a single novelty, provided we induce reflection on old familiar truths. Men have often travelled far to see wonderful sights, leaving unvisited scenes far more wonderful lying near their own door. So is it with the pursuit of scriptural knowledge. People have perplexed themselves with inquiries into abstruse and hidden subjects, when more interesting and more important questions within their reach remained unexplored. We have sought to stir up by way of remembrance, and would close with one brief counsel--THINK !
TEN DAYS IN TIPPERARY: OR, NOTES AND OBSERVA
TIONS ON THE IRISH MISSION.
BY ONE OF THE HUNDRED.
For the sake of some of our readers, it may be well to explain that, in the spring of the present year, a paper was read in London, by the Rev. Dr Steane, to the friends of the Evangelical Alliance, proposing a special mission of one hundred ministers to some chosen district of Ireland, to preach the Gospel, chiefly in the open air, on week day and Sabbath day, for the. space of one month. The proposal was approved and adopted, and measures were forthwith set on foot for its execution. The month of August was the one fixed upon, and Connaught the province originally intended as the sphere of operation, because there, it was believed, the ministers would be kindly received, and their plan carried out with comfort, and some hope of
For reasons which it is not necessary here to state, the field of labour was suddenly changed from the west to the south-a change which had a great influence on the mission,—but which the writer is fully persuaded has been, and will yet be, overruled for much good.
It is proper to premise, that no one is responsible for the sentiments contained in this paper, save the writer of it; nor does he wish in the slightest degree to compromise the friends who projected the mission, or to reflect on any one.
His object is simply to state facts and events as they occurred, that, if possible, the scheme may appear in its true light. Be it observed, also, that reference is made, all but exclusively, to the experience of the Tipperary section, which, however, it is thought, may be taken as a tolerably fair sample of the whole.
Arrived in Dublin, the brethren were sent down in little bands of eight,
to the districts marked out for them, there to be subdivided as circumstances might dictate. They started, doubtless, with fear and trembling, to the stronghold of Irish popery, yet not without hope that they would be allowed to speak to the people in the house and by the wayside. But the project had been made public, and the priests being forewarned were also forearmed. They organized a general and fierce opposition, and excited the people to the highest pitch of fury. During the first week of the mission, the riots at Limerick and Clonmel had taken place, and considerable alarm prevailed about the safety of the missionaries.
Of the wilful misrepresentations and gross falsehoods published in the Roman Catholic press, and especially in the “ Limerick Reporter,” concerning the speech and deportment of the missionaries, we have not time, and scarcely patience, to speak. Were it not that wrong impressions respecting our prudence might rest on the minds of some friends at home, these false statements should be passed over in silence. Suffice it to say here, that not a single controversial sentence was uttered, and that Mr Dickenson at Limerick, instead of being “ heard patiently for twenty-five minutes, until he made an indecent assault on the blessed Virgin,” never named the Virgin at all, and was assailed by the fiendish yell of the mob before he had finished the reading of his text!
After the riots at Limerick and Clonmel, the question in the committee rooms in Dublin for twenty-four hours was, “ Shall we proceed to occupy the other stations, and, as far as possible, work out our plan ?” It was at length unanimously resolved that we should ; and then the question was put, Who will go to Tipperary? Eight immediately stood up, of whom the writer was one. Next morning, with no small measure of anxiety, and after earnest prayer for divine direction, we set forth, followed silently by friends who found it inexpedient to show any sign of recognition, because both they and we were tracked and pointed out by priestly spies, some of whom followed us to our destination. Four of our number went to the town of Tipperary, and other four to Cahir, a few miles farther to the south-east. The Cahir subdivision found comfortable lodging under the roof of a kind Christian lady; and a large room, used as a place of worship by the Plymouth Brethren, was placed at our service for the holding of meetings. We imagined that the lines had fallen to us in a pleasant place ; and so in some respects they had ; for the town and its environs are beautiful,reminding us of our own Bridge of Allan ; the soil is proverbial for its fertility, and the climate is remarkably fine. Only man is vile.” We soon discovered this. Scarcely had we seated ourselves in our lodgings, when in walked the sub-inspector of police, and, after stating that the priest was running about much excited, asked if we intended to preach in the open air,-assuring us that, if we made the attempt, he could not guarantee the peace of the town, or our safety, and that he would require the aid of at least forty men to shield us from the fury of the mob. We gave him our assurance that we would not preach in the open air without sending him previous notice, and he left us. We then sallied forth, two and two, in different directions, to survey the beauties of the place, dreading no danger. But we were mistaken. First we heard some emphatic mutterings—then cries and yells—and then a volley of stones flew past us. Our two brethren met the same reception in a different quarter of the town.
The friendly greetings which met us in the lovely town of Cahir were of the following fashion :-“We need no devils here-go back to hell where you came from.” “ You are come to preach the Gospel—the devil prosper ye.” “ If you