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“ A soul immortal, spending all her fires,
To waft a feather or to drown a fly.” Equally important is the inquiry, What will be the results of my existence ? It is evident that there should be some results as the fruits of a man's life. If we think of time, of mental energies, of physical powers, of golden opportunities, and of a boundless field of labour, we must admit that some returns should be rendered for these. How sad it would be if, when the Lord cometh to take account of the talents committed to us, we can only say, “ There thou hast that is thine;” still more sad if, having wasted the talent, we have nothing at all to show. Suppose our existence were to terminate now, what would be its results ? One reader might say, I have acquired wealth and respect among my fellow-men. Another, I have cultivated my intellect, am acquainted with various sciences, and literature has opened for me her richest stores. A third, I have toiled hard to get my daily bread, and to support my dependants. But all who could merely answer thus would find that the results of their life were little more than chaff, nothing which would abide the scrutiny of the last day. If, on the contrary, we can say, I have laboured for God, I have exerted my energies in his service, I have sown the seed of truth in the sabbath school, have been the means of bringing sinners to the cross; here am I and the children thou hast given me,—this will be fruit which remaineth to eternal life, these are the results which will call forth the welcome, “Well done, good and faithful servant ; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things : enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” To accomplish such results, to carry out such aims, involves much at which flesh shrinks, and that is difficult and self-denying; but surely this question should cheer amid despondency, and should reprove in indolence :“ What is the chaff to the wheat ? ” The inquiry may also be applied to the personal character of every man. There are various passages alike in the Old and New Testaments in which the people of God are spoken of as wheat, and the wicked as chaff. To show the care which the Almighty takes of his people, it is promised, “ I will sift the house of Israel like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth,” Amos ix. 9. In the parable of the tares the direction is given, “Gather the wheat into my barn;" and in reference to the completion of the mediatorial scheme, it is said, “ The harvest of the earth is ripe," Rev. xiv. 15. With regard to the wicked it is declared,
They are as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the storm carrieth away,” Job xxi. 18. “They shall be as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney,” Hos. xiii. 3. These passages, and the whole tenor of the scripture, plainly teach that the sincere, the holy children of God, all who are reconciled to him through Christ, and who live as becometh the gospel, are valuable, are cared for, shall be preserved; but that the ungodly, the nominal Christian, the false professor, the hypocrite, the formalist, the man who knows the truth but who has never felt the power of it: that all these are but as worthless chaff. It may also be inferred from these passages, that although now the wheat and the chaff are mingled, they will soon be separated, and that their destiny will be determined. Their present commixture necessarily results from the divine arrangement and from the imperfection of human character. The process of winnowing takes place only partially; the wheat and the tares grow together ; and in all communities, even the holiest and the best, there is the counterfeit mingled with the real. Nor should the fact be overlooked that there is peculiar danger of this at the present time, when a profession of piety is accounted creditable rather than otherwise. If, in the days of the church's distress, when the believers were proscribed, and persecuted, and accounted the offscouring of all things, there were false professors, how much greater is the danger now! Never was the caution more needed, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked.” “ He seeth not as man seeth : and the things which are highly esteemed among men are abominable in his sight,” Luke xvi. 15. But if the wheat and chaff are mingled now, it is only until the time of harvest, the day of winnowing, arrive. It was predicted respecting Jesus, by his forerunner, John the Baptist, that with “a fan in his hand he would throughly purge his floor,” Matt. iii. 12, plainly implying the fact, which is too evident to be questioned, that “his floor," the church, needs purging, and that all are not Israel who are of Israel.
This separation will take place on the day of final judgment. He who on earth was known as the Man of sorrows, the Friend of sinners, will come in his glory, and all his holy angels with him. “He shall sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats," Matt. xxv. 31, 32. On that day no one will be able to elude the summons, or to screen himself from the Judge's all-searching eye. Every cloak of self-righteousness or of formal profession will be
stripped off, all excuses will be in vain, and the countless varieties of human character will all be grouped under the two great classes of the righteous and the wicked—the wheat and the chaff. Every secret will be revealed, every ground of confidence will be tested, and the hail will sweep away the refuge of lies. This separation will be followed by a righteous reward. “He shall gather the wheat into his garner, and burn the chaff with fire unquenchable." Everything but the true, the genuine, shall be destroyed; and while the disciples of Christ, those who have believed on him to the saving of the soul, and proved the sincerity of their faith by a holy and consistent life, are welcomed into the joy of the Lord, the wicked shall receive that sentence which shall not only exclude them from heaven, but banish them to the prison-house of despair.
This theme, fraught with the deepest solemnity, has a direct personal bearing upon all. The Christian who has the brightest hope, and who can say with humble confidence, “I know in whom I have believed,” must not refuse the inquiry, “Is there no chaff-nothing that is false or unreal—about me? He will be the first to suspect himself, and will present the prayer of the psalmist in sincerity, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: : try me, and know my thoughts : and see if there be any wicked
in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” But in all probability these pages will be read by some who will frankly acknowledge that for the solemn scrutiny of the last great day they are unprepared. They have hitherto lived to themselves—they have cared little about their spiritual interests, and have postponed serious thought to venient season.” That season may never arrive ; now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation. To-morrow the storm of the divine wrath may burst upon you in all its fury; you may find, when too late, that
have bartered away your hopes of heaven for the pleasures of a day. The door of mercy is still open ; if, convinced of your danger, you ask with the jailor at Philippi, “ What must I do to be saved ?” you are pointed to Calvary, and told, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved.”
Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power,
Be saved to sin no more.”
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON:
a more con
Before taking possession of a mansion in Cornwall, A. TEsq., had buried the wife of his youth ; and he, and an only and lovely daughter, named Leila, lived in comparative seclusion from the world. He knew no happiness independent of his child, for all his enjoyment consisted in promoting her interest and gratification. She was, indeed, the very being to excite the most tender lavishment of paternal love. Beauty surrounded her as a mantle, but her cultivated mind and amiable disposition threw around her an influence superior to any of the short-lived fascinations of the body. In her conduct and manner there was a freshness of innocence, and a winning abandonnement, which could not fail to arrest the interest of every
beholder. She was highly accomplished, and could read and write several languages with fluency. The idol of her fond father, he loved her tenderly; a feeling which she as tenderly reciprocated. Being of the seed of Abraham, he had educated her in the strictest principles of the Jewish ritual, and felt the most intense satisfaction in witnessing her early seriousness and devotion. To her religion he thought her an ornament.
But although she had never read a word of the gospel, and although the absurdities of the Talmud had formed the basis of her religious education, yet she soon found that to a soul bound for eternity it was a serious thing to live, and that those who have to do with the “Searcher of hearts ”must ponder well “ the paths of their feet.” When seventeen years of age, she formed a series of resolutions for the regulation of her conduct, and, as her biographer truly says, “ the mind which could make, and act upon them, must have had in it all the elements of greatness and efficiency: it must have possessed a character deservedly esteemed and revered."
When in her eighteenth year, in company with her father, she visited the Holy Land. Her account of the countries through which she journeyed, their scenery and historical associations, are depicted in her journal with a beauty and affectionate tenderness which only a mind highly gifted could have done, and by one belonging to the seed of Abraham, who felt she was viewing her fathers' sepulchrès.
Before Leila left Cornwall a new era had begun to dawn in her spiritual history. God was leading her in a way that she knew not, and without the help of, man. Her spirit was weighed down under a deep sense of God's goodness, and her own guilt; she longed to get near him, to enjoy a sense of his favour, crying, “O that I knew where I might find him; that I might come even to his seat !” The Lord heard these cries, and answered them in his own way. .“ I have also determined," she writes, “to read the book which the Christians call the New Testament. They profess that prophecies in the Old Testament are clearly fulfilled in the New. I intend to see what ground they take. It is true I have heard much, and read much, of the awful character of that work. I am told that a fearful curse rests upon the reading of it. I cannot think this to be true, where it is intended to increase a knowledge of the difference between the Jew and the Christian. Besides, shall I not be a better Jew for reading it ? Will it not assist to imbue my mind with the proofs of the dreadful mistakes which the Christians commit? I cannot doubt that I am right.” The results of these investigations led her to a knowledge of the true Messiah, as her Saviour and Friend.
After being baptized, she made a public profession of her faith in Christ at his own table ; but this was all done, as the reader will have observed, unknown to her father. On her return to England, one of her first objects was “to find a company of simple, earnest Christians," and this she found in a small village about three miles from her father's residence, the nearest place of christian worship. Being aware that her attendance there would call down her father's severe displeasure, her visits for a time were solely by night; and when there, she sat closely veiled. The way to the place of worship was through a long, dreary, and solitary lane ; but, at all hours, when it was possible for her to be present at the services, Leila might be found, unattended, wending her way among the gloomy trees. Her natural timidity was painful, and her dread of walking alone at night unconquerable, until now that an earnest desire for the salvation of her soul made her superior to any bodily fear. In her own pleasing way she says, “ I was dreadfully frightened during my first essays in the dark: I usually ran the very utmost of the distance that I could, my agitation and terror of mind being, during the whole time, indescribable. Hurrying in this manner, the whole distance from our house to the house of God was frequently done in a few minutes over half an hour; but, by prayer, all was removed, and although I continued to be just as fearful of going anywhere else, yet I could always go to and return without the slightest perturbation of mind, feeling quite sure that my Father would give me his protection."
Her own soul was now at rest, but her anxiety for her father amounted to agony. She distinctly saw the dangers attending her own condition, and the sufferings that probably awaited him when the whole facts were revealed. But the living flame