« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
spell which had bound them in a region of bright illusions. Such a dream as that related was really an insight into the true world, which lies around and beyond the immortal creatures whom God places on this earth only for a little while; the experience which troubled her was actually a waking up to a consciousness of what she had been as insensible to before, as the sleeper can be to the outward .creation; and the very colouring of her singular dream, the incongruous idea of being asked in heaven to “unite in a dance,” shows how the current of thought is guided by the heart's predilections, and how thoroughly many minds are imbued with the influence of those particular pleasures and gaieties which so commonly prerail in fashionable circles of society. The scenery of the dream was very beautiful—the city and palace of pure light,—and it was clearly made up of images drawn from the last chapters of Revelation. Perhaps it was the revival of the memory of those scripture descriptions of the heavenly world which she had heard in her childhood, and which often since had been suggested to her mind by her sisters, or by the services of religious worship, in which, with all her dissipation, she might sometimes unite. Whatever the immediate origin of her dream might be, this is certain, that the substance of it embodied these great truths,—that heaven is open to all those who are fitted to enter it; that the fitness consists in a sympathy with those who are there, and with the Lord of the place; and that none are excluded but those who say, “I will not join in its service and its joys, for I know them not.” The gospel calls us to heaven. The Spirit and the Bride say, Come! Jesus Christ, who died for us on the cross, and thus opened the kingdom to all believers, earnestly invites us to come within it, and to join the nations of them that are saved. But a new heart is wanted; the love of the world and sin must be cast out; the love of God, and Christ, and holiness must take its place. That new heart is promised; our Saviour is our Creator ; and he says— He who has both power and love,—“A new heart and a right spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.” And with this promise before us, and the gate of heaven open, most plain it is that if we are not at last included amongst its inhabitants it will be entirely our own fault. “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life,” were the words of Christ to some in the days of his flesh; they also explain the cause, as it will be seen at the last day, why any are shut out from the realms of everlasting joy. To creatures like ourselves, who must live for ever in the world to come, the truth shadowed forth in the imagery of the foregoing dream is of unspeakable importance and interest Let the reader, then, carefully ponder it. To dismiss from one's regards what so intimately concerns us in our highesi relations is madness in the extreme. It is not cant; it is not enthusiasm ; it is not any fanatical delusion; but it is just sober sense and calm reason to look these things in the face, as God our Maker sets them before us in the book which he incontestably proves is the record of his will. To put that aside with some gay remark is cant; to give to time the supreme regard which we owe to eternity is enthusiasm; and to live, as people of fashion, destitute of religion, are living, is the grossest fanatical delusion. If this tract should fall into the hands of
persons, most affectionately are they entreated to listen to the words of rational counsel and scripture instruction. To be prepared for death, by having a mind and spirit in harmony with the world of light and love, is surely a matter of the first consideration. How this preparation can be secured, it is the express purpose of the gospel to explain. Acceptance with God, and a renewed moral nature, are the things requisite. We can be accepted of the righteous Lord, who rules the whole universe, only through faith in that blessed Mediator, who has died to expiate our offences; we can be renewed only through the gracious power of that Spirit, whom Christ promised to send into the church; who has dwelt in the hearts of all true believers ever since; and who is now not far from any one of
These are not simply points of human opinion, but they are truths distinctly taught by God himself. We are not here getting into the regions of recondite theological speculation; we are merely stating the first principles, the primary elements of the gospel of our Lord and Saviour. Let them be seriously and devoutly pondered. It is surely worth while to seize time from common engagements, and devote it to the express consideration of the inquiry, What am I in the sight of the searcher of hearts ? what are my prospects in reference to the judgment day ? and where shall I be in eternity ? When we shall wake up hereafter to the realities of the now invisible world, we shall find that dealing with such questions was no idle reverie ; that faith in the everlasting gospel of man's salvation was no dream. Amidst some of the most beautiful scenery in the North of Scotland, on the banks of the river Beauly, which flows through the county of Inverness into the inland basin of the Moray Firth, there stands an old-fashioned building, called the Castle of Erchless. The waters there are deep and quiet, very different from their rapid and noisy course lower down; while the landscape presents many features of Alpine grandeur. “Sharp serrated-ridges cross the course of the traveller, and seem to forbid further advance; the woody zone above is diminished in breadth and height; while the mountain summits shoot up far beyond, their whole detail of streams, precipices, and snowcovered corries, coming at the same time more distinctly into
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON: AND W. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGA.
London: J. & W. RIDER, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close.
The ancient edifice, with its lofty walls, quaint gables, and small round towers, projecting, oriel-fashion, at the angles here and there, is a very picturesque accessory to the noble scene, while it tells of other days, when the Scotch Laird could not live so peacefully as at present, but was oft disturbed by clannish wars, and by deeds of personal violence. A pathway leads up a hill, in the neighbourhood of wild woods and dashing cataracts, to a level summit, encircled by ancient trees, where stands a simple and unpretending obelisk, bearing at its base the following inscription :
“ To the memory of Alexander William Chisholm, who entered into glory on the 8th September, 1838, aged 28, this monument is erected by his most attached brother. To an affectionate and amiable disposition he united the sterling characteristics of active benevolence and truly christian piety. His memory will long be cherished in the grateful hearts of the many whose spiritual welfare he so earnestly sought to promote, and to whose temporal welfare he ever liberally ministered. Short was his day upon earth; but in it he fulfilled • life's great end ;' and is gone, not to death, but to enjoy the crown of life, to which he became heir by a lively faith through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour. Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his ; for blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.”
Such a monument, in such a place, cannot but awaken pensive feelings; and so affecting an instance of early mortality must tend to impress one with a sense of the uncertainty of life, and to proclaim the necessity of being prepared for the eternal change which awaits us all. But the distinguished reputation of a name, and the public position of any person who bore it, must give additional interest to any sepulchral inscriptions we may read; and when it is remembered that he whom those simple words so truly describe was no other than “ The Chisholm,” whose singular appellation many will recollect having noticed in the newspapers a few years ago, in the reports of parliamentary debate and political discussion, the obelisk will attract from the visitor deeper attention, and he will be prepared to listen to some account of the private spiritual history of a man not unknown to fame. To those who knew him only from the public prints, The Chisholm would appear only as an honest politician and eloquent speaker ; many, better acquainted with him from less common sources, might be aware of his beneficence; but memoirs published of him since his death, containing letters filled with expressions of his most deeply cherished and sacred sentiments, show him to have been a partaker of spiritual life, through the rich grace of God, and a beautiful example of the holy and peaceful fruits of the gospel, in the experience of a believer. His simple history is full of lessons to the young, to those who are distinguished by rank and wealth, and to such as mingle in the exciting scenes of public life; indeed, to all.
He was the head of a clan that may be traced back to very ancient times, called the “Siosalach," or Chisallech, and from the circumstance of his chieftainship derived his name. He was born at Castle Hill, near Inverness, on the 15th of February, 1810, and was one of the numerous beautiful proofs of the strong influence of maternal discipline. How many have owed to their mother not only their natural being, but almost all that in after-life made that being a blessing. The Chisholm's mother taught him the scriptures; she inculcated upon him early lessons of piety, such as he was able to bear; and that not in hard, dry forms, but in a manner which taught him to feel that the religion of Jesus is a religion of love. He once, in reading aloud to his fond parent, lighted on the words, “All that mother could do for son, or parent for child, she did for me,” when, flinging down the book, he threw his arms round her neck, and cried with tears, “My dearest mother, this is what you
have done for me !" She became a widow when the boy was only seven years old; a melancholy circumstance, which every loving son of a widowed mother knows has no small effect in heightening affection. He was sent to Eton, and his letters thence breathe an exquisite strain of filial love, and show the workings of true evangelical sentiments in his youthful mind. He was then conscious of his sinfulness before God; but there was a budding hope of divine acceptance through the redemption of Christ associated with his deep concern, and it found utterance in these lines :
“Can I dare lift up mine eyes? Can I dare approach thy throne ?
Shall I from the dust arise ? Who shall for my sins atone ?
The Lamb shall for my sins atone; His blood for all was shed." And, more than this, language is employed which indicates that at that early age, when he was not more than thirteen, he had a clear view of the way of salvation, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit of God, together with the justifying effect of Christ's righteousness and death. Nor was he, at that period, the subject of mere sentimental feelings in reference to religion ; he showed that he had learned to practise some very noble and self-denying duties. A measure of right and power, according to the law of Scotland, is conceded to a minor, on his attaining age
of fourteen, such as does not belong to English minors. The young Chisholm at that time began the performance of legal and responsible acts, by taking on him at once the pecuniary liabilities of his father, and by reducing the rents of his tenantry. In reference to these noble deeds he observed, with singular elegance and aptness, in allusion to his classical studies, “My tutor showed me once a passage in Virgil, where he introduces Anchises, in a conversation with Æneas in the shades below, urging that, perhaps, other nations might be able to surpass Rome in the fine arts, and in matters of elegance and taste ; but that it ought to be his business, after having conquered nations, to pity those who had been overcome, while it brought down their pride. We should endeavour, my dearest mamma, whatever may be our destination, not to be outdone in our sentiments by the heathen Virgil, nor wanting in munificence and liberality to the other petitioners who are mentioned in the petition," --referring to applications made for remission of rent.
It should be stated, that with this deep conscientiousness and great generosity there was not allied anything stern, severe, or morbid, but a peculiarly sensitive temperament, and an exuberance of animal spirits. He was a frank and open-hearted youth, full of playful imagination. His history seems to have been a practical refutation of that ignorant slander on religion, that it is the companion of melancholy, repulsive, and antisocial dispositions.
In 1828 he entered at Cambridge, where, through manifold temptations, his character passed a severe ordeal. How far his heart was affected by it at the time we are unable to say; but subsequent letters, in which he reviews the past, indicate that he considered himself at that time to have been in a very different state of mind from that to which, through the grace of