Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

TO OUR READERS.

Ar the close of another year we present our salutations to our readers in circumstances peculiarly impressive. Prominent periods are like prominent points of observation, from which we are led to look to the coming or the past, according as the field of view before or behind presents objects of interest and attraction. Veiled as the future is from human ken, the hopes and promptings of our nature lead men to indulge in the prospects of to-morrow, forming resolutions to redeem their lost opportunities by increased diligence hereafter, and to indemnify themselves for the disappointments that have befallen them by visions of coming prosperity. There are times, however, when the events that are passing over us possess a character of such momentousness as to arrest and absorb attention. Our view of things becomes retrospective. Our lessons are those of experience. Our anxiety still trembles, or our gratitude still glows, with the fresh recollection of the mighty vicissitudes which we have seen.

Never, certainly, within the memory of the living generation, has a year of change elapsed so big with vicissitudes and revolutions as that which is drawing to a close. Empires have been shaken, thrones subverted, and social changes hurried on with a rapidity and to an extent that have had no parallel in the history of nations.

"Watchman, what of the night?" The politician is at his wits' end in attempting to answer. His maxims of state craft are belied by facts. He is out of his reckoning in all his calculations. The vessel whose course he directed has refused to obey the helm; a mighty ground-swell mocks his skill, long practised in trimming the sails for ordinary weather; and he hastens to desert his oft abused and bootless charge, like a man of might who cannot find his hands in the day of battle. It is to be feared that few of those who are reaping the bitter fruits of their own misgovernment, understand the retributive lessons which He who is governor among the nations is proclaiming to the kings of the earth. Oh, that men were wise!

Awed as the christian observer is by the signs of the times, it is he alone who is in a condition to discern them. Amidst the turmoil of politics he recognises the hand of the Supreme Disposer, whose way is in the whirlwind and in the storm. In his view of second causes, he takes into account the omnipotent energy, the presiding mind, that rules over all. His first care is to see the hand of his father in the course of events. With this recognition of a supreme and special providence, he learns to possess his soul in patience, and to wait on the Lord: Not, however, with the waiting of indolence, but in the attitude of confiding serenity, combined with the activities of present duty, answerably to the character of the times.

How loudly are we called on to give praise to the God of heaven for peace within our borders! Many and great as are the social evils

iv

which it becomes us to lament, and to labour to rectify, assuredly revolution is not the cure. And with such change we well know no man will be forward to intermeddle, who seriously and wisely seeks the weal of the land. So immense is the preponderance of civil, political, and religious privilege which we enjoy, that "whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord." As citizens, then, let us remember, in all our aims at improvement, and protests against abuse, that we have the character of christian citizens to maintain, and unspeakable advantages for which to be thankful. It is in this spirit we shall most surely advance to greater liberty, and to the example of better things.

Moreover, God hath shown to the churches, in such a way as he has not done to the world, the things that must shortly come to pass. And is not the more sure word of prophecy given us that we may take heed to it? If we do indeed attend to the prophetic word, and not to the visions of our own fancy in the interpretation of it, the study cannot but prove elevating and tranquillizing, as well as awe-inspiring, seeing that, amidst all commotions and mutations, it fixes the heart on God. The book of prophecy, too, points to a scene beyond, where peace shall be as a river, and righteousness as the waves of the sea.

For this state of things the church has a summons to prepare; to prepare the world-to prepare herself. To the church is this grace given, that she should hold forth among the tossed and troubled nations the torch of truth, the olive-branch of peace; and strive to have the mass of society leavened with righteous principles, and the elements of moral and spiritual reform.

For this holy service, the church must be pure, her members keeping themselves unspotted from the world; zealous, for the work is great, and fitted to call into action every faculty of the soul; enterprising, for much remains to be done, and that in the way of aggression on long-established evils, and on hitherto uninvaded provinces of Satan's kingdom; devout, as as well as liberal in spirit, for God gives the increase-of Him are all things, and he will be enquired of for this, that he may establish and make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

In the proper action of the church every man has his place-a curse is denounced against those who come not to the help of the Lord. United as one man, and animated by one spirit, even the spirit of holy love and of self-devotedness, the church shall be terrible as an army with banners, and shall overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of his testimony.

To aid in this great cause, however inadequately, according to the grace that is given to us, we shall account our happiness and reward. As journalists, we shall endeavour to bring tidings of things that concern the kingdom of Messiah-to witness for the truth-to inculcate the duties peculiar to the times-and to contribute our mite towards the discussion and settlement of questions affecting the welfare of our fellow-men, and the glory of Him to whom, in all things and for ever, be glory in the highest.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

THE CHURCH CHRIST'S BODY.

tom and of sexan & done BY THE REY, WILLIAM LINDSAY, Dø, dun lab tog at bak

2202 01 2010s zrode denar telt egyb similitudes employTHERE are many ed in Scripture to describe the intimacy of the union subsisting between Christ and his people. That which His founded upon the human body, and exhibits the Saviour as the head while his followers are the members, is a very striking one, and teaches important lessons. The following ideas seem to be the leading ones 9suggested by this figure, viz. that connexion with the head, regular Lexercise, and mutual assistance, are, necessary to the vitality and growth of the members.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Now, the same holds good of the body of Christ, which is his church. Each individual member of that church partakes of the life of the body, simply in virtue of being connected with the head. There is no member of the church who has spiritual life independently in himself; and there is no member of the church who could retain spiritual life for a moment if he were separated from Christ. Our natural life, our health of body, our soundness of mind, are blessings which we possess in common with mass of mankind; but we are all naturally destitute of spiritual life; and it is only when we are savingly united to Christ, that that state of heart is produced in which the life of the soul consists. There must be a vital connexion between us and Christ the head, otherwise we are not members of his mystical body, nor have ever known what spiritual life is.

Connexion with the head is the e head is the first requisite. If we look to the body of man, upon which the similitude bunder consideration is grounded, we e perceive that the connexion of all the different members with the head is indispensable to their vitality and growth. The remotest extremities of the body derive, through the nervous Bisystem which originates in the brain, those supplies of vital influence which And what is the nature of the contoare alike necessary to their life, their nexion which subsists between a true bstrength, and power of motion. They member of Christ's body and Christ have no independent life of their own, hissible church? This memberIs it simply in Let a limb be severed from the body, and it speedily becomes a putrid mass. ship undoubtedly ought, in all cases, Or even let the nerves which connect to be the outward sign of a real union it with the head be cut or paralysed, to Christ; but on account, both of and it soon becomes shrivelled, and the deceitfulness of the human heart, Joses all power of spontaneous action. and of man's want of power to judge the body a useless, i It hangs upon the body a apo the heart of his neighbour, there can pendage. podził odt al violę od java for Brite way $18 HE H be no question that the outward sign

[ocr errors]

NO. I. VOL. II.

A

[ocr errors]

is often allowed to exist, where the inward blessing is unknown. There may be connexion with the visible church; nay, there may be considerable reformation of conduct, and the appearance of much interest in religious matters, while still the heart is a stranger to God; and the true description of us may be, that we are dead in trespasses and sins. Let no man conclude that he is a member of Christ's body, simply because he has been admitted to the privileges of the church. Does not the scripture tell us of men who have a name to live, while they are dead? Now, such have no more connexion with the body of Christ, than an arm or a leg that is tied on with a string, has with the body of man.

We

Oh, let us never forget that there must be a vital union between our souls and Christ! Having our hearts opened, like Lydia, by the power of the Holy Ghost, to attend to those things which are spoken to us in scripture, we must have faith in the validity of Christ's sacrifice; and, receiving him as all our salvation and all our desire, as at once the source of our hope and the Lord of our lives, we become members of his mystical body. We are united to him by faith. And there takes place a continual transmission of influence from him as the head to us as the members. live by the faith of the Son of God; and we could no more live dissevered from Christ, than a limb could live dissevered from the body. It is true we see not the influence that comes down from Christ and enters into the heart of every believer it is a mysterious and invisible power. But let no man deride it on this account, until he is able to explain how the mind operates through the brain upon the nerves of sensation and motion, so as to produce effects upon the body corresponding to its will. The whole body is interlaced with muscles, exactly fitted to their various positions; and the anatomist can trace the nu

:

merous nerves which, proceeding from the head, are distributed through every limb to connect these muscles with the brain: but it utterly transcends his power to explain, how, when I simply will to lift my arm, this act of the mind instantly operates upon the nerve, and the nerve upon the muscle. The influence that connects an act of the will with a motion of the arm, is as profound a mystery as the wide circle of nature's works embraces. When the objector, therefore, has solved this mystery in his own body, it will be time enough for us to consider how far it is a valid objection to the spiritual influence exerted by Christ upon the members of his mystical body, that it is mysterious and invisible. Meanwhile, we must insist upon regarding this very mysteriousness as quite in harmony with all the plans and proceedings of God.

Again, regular exercise is necessary to the growth and vitality of the members of Christ's body.

Let us recur to the physical constitution of man, upon which the figurative language under consideration is grounded. It is not enough to ensure the soundness and growth of any limb, that it be connected with the body, that its muscles have nerves inserted into them, that its arteries and veins receive and send back the circulating tide of life. More than this is necessary: the limb must be exercised. It is a law of our nature, that the exercise of our powers is necessary to their development. And the more the muscles of the body are brought into play, provided only you do not overstrain them, the greater elasticity, and soundness, and strength will they acquire: the very bones of the race-horse become like flint, and his sinews like whip-cord: the arm of the rower becomes a knotted congeries of muscle. The superabundant activity of the young is the means provided by the wise arrangements of God for promoting their growth.

A

the

very

How swiftly the boy bounds along, and with what unwearied earnestness does he give himself to play! Nay, infant in his mother's arms stretches out his little feet and dances with joy. So indispensable, indeed, is exercise or motion to the growth of the body, that if you could suppose any limb of a child to be wholly prevented from moving from the day of his birth, it would speedily become paralysed.

Now the same holds good of the members of Christ's body, which is his church. The first condition of vitality and growth is a real connection with Christ, the living head; but there must also be, following this and springing out of it, the regular discharge of all the duties which Christ has enjoined. Spiritual exercise is indispensable to the growth of the soul in holiness. Let no man suppose that, because he has believed in Christ, and is a member of his body, therefore his character will, of its own accord, and without any effort on his part, undergo a saving transformation. No Christian grace will flourish unless opportunities be sought for its regular and daily exercise. So far is there from being any thing like a spontaneous growth of holy emotions in the soul, that, in consequence of the remaining power of sin, there is rather a constant tendency to their diminution; and, in order to make any progress towards spiritual strength, in opposition to this tendency, there is even a greater need of effort and exercise than in the case of the body, which has a natural tendency to grow. If exercise be needed to develop the strength of a limb, much more is it needed to develop the power of a Christian grace. Who are the men that will grow in spiritual strength, that will advance from one degree of grace unto another, until they reach the measure of the stature of a perfect man in Christ? Those who spend their days in comparative indolence, who have no deep searchings of heart

with respect to their spiritual state, who are satisfied with the smallest amount of effort that will just keep their credit with the world? No, verily. But those who give all diligence to make their calling and election sure, who seek to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, who leave behind them the things that are past, and press forward to those that are before. So indispensable is constant effort to progress in holiness, that if you could suppose any true Christian to relinquish the pursuit of it, his christianity would wither and die. This was Paul's belief. For that eminent saint, who could say, for me to live is Christ, for me to die is gain, thus describes his conduct: I therefore so run not as uncertainly, so fight I not as one that beateth the air; but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."-1 Cor. ix. 26, 27.

Oh, let us imitate the diligence of the apostle Paul! If constant effort and constant watchfulness were necessary to him for his own individual salvation, can they be less so to you? If he felt that, to promote his growth in holiness, it was needful he should labour with unremitting zeal, can you fancy that feeble and desultory efforts will suffice to fit you for glory? Are you already so greatly superior to Paul, that, with less fear of the consequences than he had, you may now take your ease, and be less attentive to Christian duties? Oh, is not the very opposite the case? Have you not more reason to question your stability than Paul had? Have you not more reason to dread, that after all your professions you may yet be cast away? In every department of christian duty, therefore, be zealous. Be attentive to all the means which Christ has appointed for promoting your growth in holiness. Shun what-ever the blessed gospel condemns ;

« AnteriorContinua »