« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
cases of repentance on a death-bed, as satisfactory, and in which I had as much confidence as in any that I have known among those in health, prior to the evi. dence of a good life. And why should it be supposed that a gracious God will never manifest his power and grace in the conversion of a sinner on a sick-bed. If this should once be ad. mitted as a principle, it would be worse than useless for a minister of the gospel, or any other pious person, to visit an unconverted sinner, when on a sick-bed; or to give any answer to his most anxious inquiry, “ What shall I do to be saved ?" I recollect to have heard a preacher from the pulpit solemnly aver that there was no instance in the Bible of the conversion of an aged sinner. This is another ultraism, which has no good foundation, One of the most remarkable cases of the conversion of an exceeding great sinner, recorded in the sacred Scriptures, is of an aged man. I refer to the late repentance of king Manasseh. There is no man, of whom mention is made in the sacred volume, to whom a worse character is given, as one that exceeded the worst of the heathen in his abominable idolatries : “ Moreover, Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to the other." It is true, it is not expressly said, that his repentance occurred in his old age, but it may, with strong probability, be inferred from the history, 2 Chron. xxxiii.
If, among my readers, there should be
a very different aspect from what it does when viewed by the light of nature; both as it relates to the sinner and the saint. In regard to the former, we are taught in the volume of truth, " that death was introduced by the transgression of man.” The penalty of the original law given to man was, “in the day thou eatest thereof, (that is, of the forbidden fruit,) thou shalt surely die.”' And when man became guilty, the sentence was denounced, “dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return,” the execution of which penalty has been going on from that day to this, sweeping off generation after generation, until almost every part of the earth is filled with dust which once constituted the bodies of men. Even reason, when so. berly consulted, would indicate that death comes as the punishment of sin; for otherwise the transition from one state of existence to another, would not, under the government of a good God, be attended with so much pain and fear. But, what reason discovers only in dim perspective, revelation writes as with a sunbeam ; “ The wages of sin is death,” “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; so death hath passed on all men, for that all have sinned."
On the other hand, true believers are now delivered from the curse of the law, and consequently from death, as it is a curse. We may say, therefore, that the righteous shall never taste death ; for Christ, the Lord, hath solemnly averred, “If a man keep my sayings, he shall never see death." Accordingly, the inspired writers of the New Testament commonly speak of the decease of Christians as a “sleep.” “They that sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him." “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed." And of Stephen it is said, when he “kneeled down, and said with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge, he fell asleep.” But when the word death is retained, it must be understood to have a new sense in relation to the children of God. It is death despoiled of its sting. It is the outward appearance of death, while its nature is entirely changed; so changed, that the curse is converted into a blessing. That which is a rich gain cannot be a curse ; but to the sincere follower of Christ, " To die is gain." That which may be lawfully an object of ardent desire, cannot be of the nature of
tent, I would earnestly and affectionately exhort them not 'to despair of God's mercy; there still may be hope in their case. My dear fellow-sinners, there is nothing in God's word which excludes you from salvation, unless you voluntarily and obstinately exclude yourselves, by a rejection of the overture of reconciliation. Christ says to you, as much as others, “Ye will not come unto me that you may have life.”
I find that I shall be under the necessity of claiming the old man's privilege of rambling from one subject to another; and, in writing to the aged, I hope I shall be excused for my prolixity in this letter. I have not fulfilled my own purpose, either as to the subject, matter, or length; and the consequence will be the infliction of another epistle. But before I conclude this, I wish to say, that death, viewed in the light of Scripture, exhibits
a penalty or curse; but Paul had a de. sire to depart and be with Christ; and the same desire has been felt by thousands since,
But to cut the matter short, death is placed in the category of the richest blessings. “For all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours." The true Christian, then, has no reason to be appalled at the necessity of entering this darkly-shaded valley.
Dear Friends, if we only approach, holding up the torch of revelation by faith, the dismal gloom which has gathered over the tomb will be immediately dissipated. Faith looks beyond this darkness, and across this valley, and beholds a celestial city, the new Jerusalem.
Though much indebted to John Bunyan, one of the most fertile geniuses the world ever produced, I cannot easily forgive him for making the passage over Jordan to Canaan so very difficult for Christian. If he had carried out the allegory, he would have turned the swelling waves backward, and have shown a dry path across the stream ; for no sooner had the priests, who carried the ark of testimony, dipped their feet in the brim of the river, than "all the Israelites passed over on dry ground." But, after all, perhaps, the honest tinker drew his picture from the life; for as Christians seldom enjoy in life the comfort provided for them, so it is analogous that in death they should want that comfort, to which in Christ they are entitled.
BY A YOUNG MINISTER LATELY DECEASED, *
ON JOHN XIV, 1, 2.
In my father's
" Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me.
house are many mansions."
There is a kind of friendship which hardly deserves the name. It is all warmth and sincerity when nothing but profession is required of it; but as soon as its active good services are called for, it shrinks away with a shameful con: sciousness that it never in good earnest designed to bestir itself. Real friendship, on the other hand, is comparatively dormant, until the sorrow or suffering of its object calls it forth in a degree of vigour and of ardour, which even he who fully trusted in its sincerity, could scarcely, ere he saw it put to the trial, have ventured to ascribe to it. Such was the friendship of the Saviour. He had loved his own which were in the world, from the beginning, and now that their hearts were troubled, and they most needed his affection, he loved them still, and he loved them to the end. But even genuine friendship is sometimes weakened, at least in its practical force, by personal suffering. The heart that used to beat with active sympathy to
wards others, becomes at length scarce able to heave itself under its own burden. That, then, must be a friendship of no common order, which can survive in its practical strength the exhaustion produced in the mind by struggling with its own afflictions. And such was the friend. ship of Jesus. But a little before this, the language which his own unshared agony wrung from his heart was, “Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say?" And the hour of darkness was every moment closing and thickening around him. Yet even in these appalling circumstances, the alarm and sorrow of his disciples could not escape his notice, or want his efforts to allay them. It was when his own heart was troubled, and he knew not what to say, that he uttered the consolatory language we are about to illustrate. “Let not your hearts," &c.
Is it possible friendship can rise yet higher ? Suppose, then, that he in whose breast it glows is, while in the act
• The Rev. John H. Gardner, late of Whithorn, who died the 10th of April, 1833.
of expressing it, not suffering merely, but suffering for the sake and for the fault of those he loves and is consoling, a fault committed directly against him self, and accompanied with every circumstance of heinousness and aggravation, and then we have the idea of a love strong as death-a love that passeth knowledge." But such alone is a correct idea of his affection, who said to his alarmed and sorrowing disciples, " Let not your hearts be troubled," &c.
The expression “ troubled,” was originally borrowed from the agitation of the sea in a tempest, and means that painful excitement of the mind, produced by an unusual degree of terror, or of grief, or of both these passions combined. And if we reflect on the present circumstances of our Lord's disciples, we shall not be surprised at the trouble of heart, the painful agitation of mind, which it was the object of this consolatory address to allay. The affairs of their master were manifestly coming to their crisis, and that crisis seemed to them one of a very dark and forbidding aspect. His countenance, his conversation, his deportment always solemn and impressive, became so now to a most alarming extent. Hardly did he utter a word which did not carry to their minds some idea of danger, or disappointment. He spoke of his going away, and they scarcely knew whither. He spoke of being delivered into the hands of the civil powers, and doomed to an excruciating and degrading death; they as yet but ill understood why. He had just been predicting, also, very strange things respecting themselves ;-that one of them should betray him into the hands of his murderers; that another of them should repeatedly and solemnly disavow connexion with him, and that all of them, instead of sharing, as they now felt confident they should do, every event in his fortunes, though they should do it with the certainty of being dragged along with him into calamity and death, should, in the very hour of his agony, seek refuge in an ignominious retreat. And when he did not speak in this manner, the reason appeared to them to be, not that any relieving ray of hope had begun to shoot itself across the gloominess of his pros. pects, but because the strugglings of his soul were now too mysterious and too agonizing to be uttered except by groaning in spirit.
When the disciples were once literally
"tossed with a tempest," upon the sea of Galilee, and their vessel was fast filling with the waves, the Saviour arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea, and straightway there was a great calm. The world of mind is as subject to his control as the world of matter is; and it was in the same spirit of conscious omnipotence that he now breathed over the agitated bosoms of his followers, and said to their agitated passions, Peace, be still.
What is reliance on God? It is something which in its very nature goes to the expelling of fear and sorrow from the heart, and that exactly in proportion to the degree in which itself finds admission. It is the assurance that God is for us. It is the soul's consciousness that it rests on the arm which sustains the universe. And “ if God be for us, who can be against us." What trouble of heart is compatible with the conviction, were it but firmly rooted in the mind, that though earth and hell combine their power to overwhelm and destroy us, there is a power on our side, when brought into collision with which, all created energy together is but fax before the fire, or chaff before the whirlwind. What painful agitation of mind is consistent with the persuasion, were that persuasion but perfect, that however dark and stormy the circumstances be through which we are now passing, there is an eye of omniscience and love, which penetrates all these tempestuous and shifting scenes, and makes us the objects of his tender vigilance, and will never withdraw that vigilance till it has seen us safely landed on that shore of tranquillity and peace, where all is as visibly happy as it is actually secure. “ Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon thee." Alas! that that persuasion should be ever imperfect. And yet if it exist at all, it cannot materially alter for the better the aspect of the calamitous or perilous circumstances in which we are involved. . . . .
Whatever be the sufferings and griefs of the present state to which the Christian is subjected, there is in the future world a glory, “ an exceeding and eternal weight of glory," which is more than sufficient to balance his present “light affliction, which is but for a moment." “In my Father's house are many mansions."
It is but little, indeed, of that mysterious world that has been revealed to us, and we may not safely attempt to draw
aside a veil, which the Divine hand has left his Elder Brother, of the whole family in undrawn. Yet should it not be enough heaven, and of the joy of meeting, and for the weary traveller who is journeying mingling with them all, and a hope will homewards, to know that the dim and spring up within him, that will carry cloudy-looking objects, which his eye him triumphantly forward, and make with difficulty fixes upon in the distance, him bear down all the barriers and diffi. are the mountains of his native land; culties of the way, and rise superior to that within these shadowy outlines are fatigues and discouragements, “mountthe house of his Father, the family of ing up with wings as an eagle, running, his Brother, his own destined everlasting and yet not being weary, walking, and yet home. Let him but think of his Father, not being faint."
TAE present state and future pros. pects of the kingdom of Madagascar cannot be regarded with indifference by the friends of missionary enterprise. The recent affecting intelligence from that country has produced a deep impression, not only in the London Missionary Society, but among all denomi. nations of professing Christians. The friends of missions cannot contemplate, without emotion, the antagonist powers of light and darkness, truth and error, as they appear in conflict on that unhappy island ; but they entertain no fear or apprehension with regard to the final issue of the contest. They know that their cause is the cause of God, of truth, of holiness; and is, therefore, destined to prevail; they know that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church ;" and the concurrent testimony of ecclesiastical history, and missionary experience, demonstrate the fact, that where the Gospel has been assailed by persecution, on its first introduction, either into the dark villages of our own country, or the still darker regions of heathenism, that in those places its afterprogress has generally been more signal, its succeeding triumphs more splendid. Like a majestic river, it has borne down every barrier designed to arrest its progress, and has fertilized the country through which it has passed.
But the persecution and martyrdom of the pious and sainted Rafaravavy, has excited, in no ordinary degree, the emo tions and sympathy of the Christian public; she indeed resisted unto blood; she held the beginning of her confidence stedfast unto the end ; she suffered the loss of all things, yea, even of life itself, that she might win Christ, and be found
in him. Behold her, (but what imagination can portray the closing scene,) behold her, like her Divine Master, betrayed by her friends, and ridiculed by her enemies, approaching the place of execution; see her calm, peaceful, serene, resigned; listen to her exhortations to the officers and the crowd to believe in Christ, while her latest breath ascends in prayer to heaven for blessings on her murderers. Behold, also, an exhibition of the undi. minished efficacy, the undying energy, of the religion of the cross. The same grace that cheered and supported righteous Abel, the first martyr, cheers and supports her; the same prospects that animated him, animates her; she could by faith, like pious Stephen, see heaven opened, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, ready to receive her departing spirit. Oh! who can tell the peace, the joy, the happiness, the heaven, that was poured into her soul in that hour ? Who can describe the kind and ministering spirits that surrounded her ? They soothed her sorrows, they strengthened her faith, they wiped away her tears, they watched her last pangs, and agonies of dissolving nature; and with a chariot of fire conveyed her happy and emancipated spirit to the smile, and the bliss, and the welcome, and the home of her Saviour, as soon as her savage and relentless persecutors had dismissed it from its frail and earthly tabernacle. But she now enjoys a repose which her enemies cannot disturb, she has now entered a region where persecution cannot annoy, and where sin and suffering cannot follow her; she has been faithful unto death, and is now wearing the crown of life. She has joined the noble army of martyrs, she is
united to that bright and glorious throng more; neither shall the sun light on “ which came out of great tribulation, them, nor any heat. For the Lamb and have washed their robes, and made which is in the midst of the throne shall them white in the blood of the Lamb. feed them, and shall lead them unTherefore are they before the throne of . to living fountains of waters : and God of God, and serve him day and night in shall wipe away all tears from their his temple: and he that sitteth on the eyes." throne shall dwell among them. They
A FRIEND OF MISSIONS. shall hunger no more, neither thirst any Henley on Thames.
A WELSH APPEAL
To the Editor of the Evangelical Magazine. Rev. Sir,-I VENTURE to address my ours, in Wales, be of the same spirit ! countrymen, the Welsh people; and While its various articles of intelligence especially my dear brethren in the mi. and reviews of books, help us to discover nistry, who are in the habit of receiving the spirit of the times, it instructs us in your very valuable periodical, in refer- the Principality how to co-operate with ence to its claims for more general sup- our brethren, in exertion and prayer all port at their hands. I do feel grieved, over the world. and am truly ashamed when I think how But this is not all-the advertisements few of the Evangelical Magazine are which are circulated with it, must prove of sold in Wales! How few, I must be incalculable service in a commercial point excused saying--and yet how many of of view. And all at the cheap price of sixpoor, aged, and pious widows in Wales pence! Why, it appears to me that the are annually assisted by the funds which portraits, so well and so expensively got its sale supplies! Oh it is a blessed up, are worth more than this! book! There is not in the world such a Dear brethren in the Principality, publication ; gladdening, as it does, by what shall we do to aid in the sale of the help it affords, so many holy women, this Magazine ? I humbly beg to proand assisting them in the struggles of pose, that each of us should double our life on their way to heaven!
efforts, by procuring each an additional But apart from this, where can so much purchaser, and so order two every month excellent matter be had at so cheap a rate ? instead of one or twice as many. In How gratifying and edifying the perusal all our congregations there are some who of the lives of great and holy men, which understand English, or who need to be it records! What plain yet useful and instructed and improved in English ; and powerful treatises on theological sub in this publication instruction and imjects it supplies! What a noble stand provement are well combined. I could does it make for orthodox principles ! say more, but time and space forbid. How much of an evangelical spirit and “I speak as unto wise men, judge ye temper pervades its pages,-excluding, what I say." as it does, idle and unprofitable disputes,
I remain, yours truly, and introducing only that which is truly
EVAN DAVIES. useful! Oh, what a good pattern of May 4, 1838. holy temper for all periodicals! May
THE FALL OF BABYLON.
For the Evangelical Magazine.
Which made thee mistress of a conquer'd world?