Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

* unity is strength;” but there can be no practical unity where there is a lack of mutual respect, and how can there be mutual respect where men have not self-respect enough to do each their proper share of work ? It is thus that we act and re-act on each other, either for good or evil; our vices as well as our virtues, our failings as well as our excellencies, tell upon our fellow-men. My lack of duty acts unfavourably and discouragingly on my brother, whereas my faithful service stimulates his zeal, and binds him to me by the cords of respect and affection. For our brethren's sake, then, as well as our own, we have need to be diligent in the Master's work, and we shall have to answer not only for our own lack of service, but also for the hindrance and discouragement of others which our evil example may have induced. But, on the other hand, thrice blessed is the spirit of unity in connection with God's cause, for it pre-supposes the self-respect which begets mutual respect, and leads us on to love for each other; and where this state of feeling exists it brings down God into our midst, who will pour out His own blessing and love upon the fruitful soil of united and loving hearts.

In our efforts to extend God's cause, let us ever be guided by the prin. ciples of justice and equity. In the present day too many neglect to support their own Church and minister, while they freely support any erratic movement to which they owe nothing, and over which they have no control, whereas equity demands that first of all our own Church and household of faith be duly supported by us. By all means let our hearts be as wide as the world, only let us take care first of all to look well at home. Further, an unjust spirit of parsimony leads many professed supporters of God's cause to leave the financial burdens to others, while they themselves neglect or refuse to bear their own share. And this evil is not confined to any one denomination.

During a somewhat long experience of Church work, not only in our own beloved community, but what I have observed in other denomi. nations also, some really appalling facts bearing on this point have come to my knowledge; facts that have forced on me the conviction that one great obstacle to the revival of God's cause in the present day is this spirit of unjust parsimony which too many of His professed followers display. Let the example of our dear Saviour guide us in this matter, for while there was the most lavish expenditure on His part for a good cause, that expenditure was all at His own cost. “He gave Himself, that we might live." And do we need encouragement to persevere ? That encourage ment is to be found in the history of God's dealings with His people, where we shall find ample evidence that God is ever ready to command His blessing upon those who labour in His cause, and that He will even work miracles rather than the work should be stopped or hindered. But we are often told that the age of miracles is passed. It is presumptuous to say this, but let it be granted, and what then? Divine power, which is beyond all miracles, has not ceased; that power has always been operating in our world, and is as potent and as present now as ever, and when it takes the form of blessing on the efforts of God's people to extend His cause, then moral miracles are seen, far transcending in spiritual grandeur and importance any interruption of natural laws, for then the

drunkard is reclaimed; the voluptuary leads a clean and pure life; the thief steals no more; hard, selfish, and worldly hearts are softened and purified; the blasphemer now sings praises to God; despair gives place to hope, and self-condemnation to a blessed sense of peace and pardon; the miserable are filled with joy; broken hearts are bound up; and the slaves of sin and Satan have their fetters struck off, and enter into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Moral miracles, miracles of grace, will never cease, for when God's power enters the domain of conscience, and operates in the sphere of spiritual life, then it is that men's souls are saved, their lives are purified, and they themselves become co-workers with God in the redemption of the world. The great end of all Christian enterprise, and of all Church-life and extension is, that God may be glorified in pouring out His blessing upon His people, making them the instruments in His hands of reclaiming the wanderers, and saving the lost. And for that end God's power is ever waiting to be displayed ; let His people arise, and by labouring and praying, in season and out of season, let them make their place too strait for them, and then the power of God will not only give them a larger place, but will also give them the souls to fill it, until, in its turn, even that larger place shall become too strait for them, and thus the glorious work shall go on, and on, and on, until all the world shall be saved.

W. G. D. “Men die in darkness at your side,

Without a hope to cheer the tomb;
Take up the torch, and wave it wide,

The torch that lights time's thickest gloom.
“ Toil on, faint not, keep watch, and pray;

Be wise the erring soul to win ;
Go forth into the world's highway,

Compel the wanderer to come in."
-Bonar.

WARM Hearts Wanted. “ We need men of cool heads, but warm hearts, to tell of the love of Jesus," was the appeal sent home by some Chinese converts the other day. This is what the Church needs—what the world needs—"men of warm hearts.” “I would ye were hot,” is the Master's cry. If we are to succeed we must be on fire about it. Dr. Arnott, of Edinburgh, tells us of his being at a railroad station one day, and wearied of waiting for the train to move, he asked one of the men what the trouble was.

“Is there a want of water ?
“Plenty of water, sir," was the prompt reply, “but its no' bilin'."

That's the trouble with the Church to-day. There is abundance of machinery, the engine is all in order, the train is made up, the men are at their posts—there's "plenty of water, but it's no' bilin'.” The great motive power is wanting. We need to heap on the fuel of sound doctrine, not shavings of sentiment, which make a big blaze only to go out as quickly, but the solid logs of fundamental truth-chunks, if you will. But we need yet more the fire-to be baptized with the Holy Ghost as with fire.

THE CHURCH IN THE SCHOOL.

Published at the request of the Sunday School Convention of the

Manchester District.

when He says,

Our Church activities are directed, at present, to evangelisation of adults rather than to the Christian instruction of the young. It would be better if our Churches had as their habit the devotion of their energies to the instruction of children in New Testament doctrine and duty rather than to the evangelisation of the masses of adults that have broken with Christ and His Church. In the present destitute and perilous condition of the masses of our brothermen, I cannot depreciate the devotion of Church activity to home evangelisation. If every Church had, as it might have, a practical method of habitually and systematically evangelising a well-defined district-the district in which each Church is located—we should bring nearly all the masses of our towns and cities under the saving influences of Christianity. Foreign evangelisation is a work in which every Church is bound to take a part. This is a duty enjoined upon all Christians by our Prince and Saviour. In spite of the difficulties, and cost, and sacrifices, and vastness of the work of converting the world, it is our duty to undertake it because our divine Lord has said we must. When He says “Go,” we must go;

“Do this,” we must do it. I do not wish, therefore, to lighten our sense of the obligation of our Churches to evangelise all nations in putting before you Christian education of children as the chief means of salvation which should be used by us all. Godly education, as it is set forth in the Old Testament and the New, does not appear to me to have its due place in the activities and aims of our Churches. This subject, as it appears in the Book of God, is a very wide one, and I have not time to do more than make distinctive one of its many parts.

In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul gives to Christian fathers -to fathers who are in the Lord—this injunction: "nurture them;' that is, your children ; "in the chastening and admonition of the

This Epistle was written "to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful which are in Christ Jesus.” In these "saints” and “ faithfuls

were included not only the “fathers” in the Lord directly addressed, but the “ children” that the Apostle says should be nurtured in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.” They were a part of the Church at Ephesus. A great fact, which appears in many forms all through the Scriptures, is, that the religious standing of parents conditions that of their children. Children on the same religious footing as their parents is assumed

Lord."

and asserted in numerous and diversified forms in the Book of God. In the covenant God made with Abraham his children were included. God said to Abraham, “I will establish my covenant between Me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and thy seed after thee.”

Many exceeding great and precious promises are given unto fathers and their children. Peter, in his first sermon at Pentecost, said, “ For to you is the promise and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” In the New Testament there are four clear accounts, if not five, of families being baptized because the heads of those families believed and were baptized. In the other cases of baptism recorded in the Acts and Epistles, two of them had no families (I now refer to the baptism of the Eunuch and of Paul), and the rest—there are only three more-were promiscuous crowds which were baptized on the spot where they believed. In the first Epistle to the Corinthians and the seventh chapter, we have a remarkable application of the principle of an old Jewish law, that the children of one Jewish parent were Jews. Paul employs this principle to quiet the scruples of some of the married converts of the Church of Corinth in respect to continuing to live together if both husband and wife were not Christians. “If," says Paul, “any brother hath an unbelieving wife, and she is content to dwell with him, let him not leave her. And the woman which hath an unbelieving husband, and he is content to dwell with her, let her not leave her husband. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the husband : hence were your children unclean, but now are they holy.” “The Apostle,” says Neander, “is here treating of the sanctifying influence between parents and children, by which the children of Christian parents are distinguished from the children of those who are not Christians, and in virtue of which they may in a certain sense be termed holy, in contrast with the unclean.” The chief principle here is, as elsewhere, the religious position of parents conditions that of children; the Church standing of parents determines that of their children. This principle, like a thread of gold, runs through the whole web of Scripture. Of children, says Paul, “ to parents in the Lord,” “nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.” But the word I wish to emphasise is the preposition “in.” Our general method, at present, is to bring into this chastening and admonition, into this godly nurture, by the conversion of our children after they have reached a condition of responsible personality and conscious guilt. Union of adults with Christ by preaching Christ is the chief evangelistic aim of our Churches. The Scriptures teach that in Christian nurture children should grow. Nurture not for, nor with a view to, but nurture in the chastening and admonition of the Lord. “ Of the Lord,” that which comes from Christ Himself, is distinctive of Him, and peculiar to Him, as the spirit and substance of chastening and admonition must be the sphere and element of our children's life and growth and being. “Nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.” This is the New Testament form of the Old Testament injunction, “ Train up a child in the way he should go.” “I doubt not to affirm,” says Baxter, " that a godly education is God's first and ordinary appointed means for the begetting of actual faith and other graces in the children of believers."

But my concern is with the scholars of our Sunday-schools. They belong, by their relation to Christ, to the kingdom of heaven; and many of them by baptism to His visible Church. That they are the subjects of the kingdom of heaven shines out with the clearness of a sunbeam in the Scriptures of the New Testament. The Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke narrate a beautiful story which most definitely declares children to be subjects of the kingdom of heaven. We will read a part of the story as given by Mark : “ And they brought unto Him little children that He 'should touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, He was moved with indignation, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto Me; forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. ... And He took them in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands upon them.” “Of such is the kingdom of heaven ;” that is, they themselves, and all like unto them. “Little children,” or “ babes," as Luke calls them, are the subjects of the kingdom of heaven and the type of all other subjects. This is most manifestly the import of the Saviour's words. To explain them to mean that children are typical of the subjects of the kingdom of God, but not themselves subjects, is to me tortuous and torturing. The use of the term “such ” in Scripture makes it certain that whoever else are included in it, it must include those persons of whom it speaks. In dealing with this point, Dr. Stacey writes: “ When the Jews cried out against Paul, · Away with such a fellow from the earth,' their malice had for its object not such a one as Paul but Paul himself. When speaking of the rapture into Paradise of a man in Christ, the Apostle states, “I knew such a one caught up to the third heaven,” the allusion is not to some other of like character, but to the very individual named. When commending Epaphroditus to the Philippians, he says, · Receive him in the Lord and hold such in reputation,' he means not another resembling him, but the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »