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Of all failures in life, then, his is most to be deplored who stops short of daily loving intercourse with his God and Father—who either does not say his prayers, even in form, or who contents himself with the words and gestures of devotion; who satisfies himself with a mere show of coming to the mercy-seat, while his actual thoughts, his own spirit, have made no real approach to the Divine presence. Such an one lives in a world of illusions. He can never know where he is, nor why he is any where. The merest shows of good seem to him great realities ; all that is substantial passes before him unnoticed and unknown. O what a moment will that be when he first lifts a waking eye upon his God, upon the changeless objects of an eternal state! O that he could now be persuaded to seek his God and Saviour, to find them, and secure their favour, to gain admission to their presence as a child, with liberty to return when he will, or rather to dwell with them for ever! The Gospel has taught us to dwell in heavenly places in Christ, (Eph. ii. 6.) even while our hands are busy upon
LETTER FROM ABROAD.
It is not easy to describe one's feelings on first setting foot on a foreign land. Every thing that is dear at home seems doubly valued, while all that is seen as one moves from place to place, only tends to confirm and increase the conviction, that England is highly favoured indeed above all the other nations of the earth. Yes; happy, happy England—with all its national faults and transgressions. May we never have the bulwark of our national piety removed from our defence, or have all that constitutes our national and peculiar excellence diluted and worn out by that spirit of liberalism and religious indifference which unhappily prevails.
I little dreamt that I should ever leave my own loved country; but, at the call of health, I left Ramsgate for Ostend on the 1st of September; and the hope that my wanderings may turn to good account amongst my readers, forms some little relief to the anxiety of a far-distant separation from home, with all its endearments and duties. No one can have any correct idea of what Popery really is, till he comes into a country in which it takes the lead, and is seen in its full and constant practice. I have gone into the leading churches in one town after another; and if the mind has been struck with the splendour and beauty of the architecture, how every feeling of delight has been checked and withered by beholding, in every place the people, with the name of Christian, "given to idolatry”! And in what other terms can we speak of a religion
which makes the worship paid to the Virgin even more prominent than that which is given to the Son, blessed for evermore.
At Ghent, and Antwerp, and Brussels, the most conspicuous images are those of the Virgin. At Antwerp it was the last of the eight days' feast of the Virgin, and the crowd of worshippers were assembled before a figure of the Virgin as large as life, decked in the richest brocaded silk, with a profusion of costly jewels, and a silver crown, while the Saviour was placed at her side like a large doll, in gaudy attire. The most earnest supplications were going forward to the Virgin, the people all fondly and heartily responding. The Mariolatry of Popery is one of its most fatal and unscriptural characters. What an insult to the Saviour-to his divine power--to his infinite love-to think that he needs the interference of any human being whatever to procure his favour! And yet the Virgin is prayed to as o the queen of heaven," and entreated to "command" her Son to shew mercy. What an offence! What an awful mistake is this! I know not one Scripture that seems to give even a shadow of excuse for prayer to the Virgin Mary: but I know several in which our blessed Lord did all that human language was capable of, to shew that Mary, his mother, was no more in his esteem than any other human being. What a pity that such energy of devotion should be so misdirected. Blessed be God! we are taught, that through Christ, we have access by one Spirit unto the Father—that we have one Advocate with the Father-Jesus Christ the Righteous. And to this one living way, in all its blessed fulness and suffering, let us cling, till it lead us into the glorious presence of our Saviour in heaven.
And how shall I speak of my first Sabbath abroad? It was a lovely, cloudless morning, and I was sitting in my room at Cologne, between seven and eight o'clock, enjoying something of that calm and peaceful repose which always seems to belong to this blessed day, when a band of music struck up in the gardens of the hotel where I was, and played for above an hour. There was no English Church in Cologne; and how, under such circumstances, is the clear, Scriptural service of our Protestant Church endeared to our hearts, when, in a foreign land, or on a sick bed, we may hold communion with our distant flock or absent friends! On going out of the hotel, I was horrified to see the entire disregard of the Sabbath all around. The shops in the town were all open, and the market-place filled, not only with vegetables and other eatables
, but with all kinds of merchandize, just like a common market day. Thankful, indeed, did I feel that in England, at all events, we have not arrived at this; and God grant that we never may! There is a public decency and outward observance of the Sabbath, which is England's highest honour: may it never be tarnished by the toleration of the age. We may differ in our opinions as to what may, or what may not, be done on the Lord's Day; but there can be no difficulty in condemning all that directly forbids serious thought, and seeking for that “preparation of the heart" which cometh from the Lord, to welcome and enjoy His presence within our own souls. With all my efforts to abstract myself from earth, and soar aloft, what could I do, while the band was playing beneath my windows? And if the tea gardens of London are to be regarded as rational and becoming places for the Sabbath evening, and the music is to be introduced as probably superseding something worse, what becomes of the savour of the precious ordinances of the Church, and where can be the influence of the pulpit instruction? So, again: if the shops may be open, just as on other days, what means the Sabbath as a day of rest from wonted occupationfor the express purpose of “ labouring to enter into that rest which remaineth"? I had heard of music, and open shops, and public pastimes, on the Lord's Days' evenings abroad, but I was not prepared to find this Sabbath desecration commencing with the early morning. The music in the cathedral at Cologne is very fine; but there is no reading of the Holy Scriptures in Popish churches as in our dear Church of England. There is no conducting of the services in a language understood by the people. There is the sprinkling of holy water, and the fumes of incense, and the bowings of the priests before the altar, with their gaudy and varied dresses of brocaded silk, and muslin, and lace, but there is wanting every thing that is calculated to bring men under a right Scriptural influence, and to lead them to the knowledge of Him who is the way, the truth, and the life.” Then, the importance attached to relics is one of the absurdities of Popery, and the mischief which it engenders is very serious.
My readers have heard enough of the Holy Coat exhibited at Treves. Just before we arrived at Aix la Chapelle, 40,000 persons had assembled to gaze upon the “chemise" of the Virgin. Every church has its chest of relics, which are made a fruitful source of gain to the priests. I saw the shrine of “the Three Kings” at Cologne. In a chest studded with the most costly jewels, worth an enormous sum of money, are contained three skulls, which are said to be those of the wise men of the East, who came to worship the Saviour. A lock of the Virgin's hair is also shewn in the same place. Oh! if we did not read of such things as “strong delusion” leading men to “believe a lie," we should be at a loss to think how rational beings could embrace a system of religion so absurd, and so contrary to common sense, as well as to every semblance of Scriptural character and authority. Let no one think that Popery is changed, and that such things as I have seen and described are only its extravagancies. I have referred to nothing but what is a fundamental and generally-accredited part of Popery. In these wily and dangerous days, you will meet with many persons who will tell you that Popery is not that faulty system which many suppose ; that “it is only the abuse of the system of Popery which leads men to do so and so."
But Popery is unchanged and unchanging,
The worship of the Virgin is a standing principle in the Romish Churcb-it would not be Popery without it. Oh! beware of the crafty devices of men. Try every thing in the balances of the sanctuary. Keep close to your Bibles, and pray that you may not be beguiled by “philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." (Col i. 8.)
SUPPORT IN DEATH.
The Spirit glorifies in the death of the believer. In that last, closing, trying moment, when life is brought to a fine point, and on that point is suspended an eternal world of glory, Jesus stands by the departing soul. Heart and flesh are failing—the world fades upon the eye-reason wanders—the hand returns not affection's last grasp—the cheek feels not the scalding tear that falls upon it-external objects, once so fond and pleasing, affect no more: but Jesus is there, walking through the dark valley, side by side with the receding spirit ; yea, he is bearing it up in his arms, and is carrying it over the flood gently and safely in his bosom. How many saints io dying have been privileged with all the strength of their powers to testify, “Christ is with me in the valley”? The eternal Spirit in this awful moment has applied afresh the atoning blood-he has wrapped around the spotless righteousness—he has fed with the hidden manna-he has spoken the comforting promise ; in a word, he has testified of Jesus. Oh, what anticipations of heaven, what transporting joys, what untold glory, what visions of God have now burst upon the soul! How one has longed to die with them!
“Death is not terrible,” said Halyburton, when dying in an ecstacy; “ it is unstinged, the curse of the fiery law is done away ; I bless his name, I have found him; I am taken up in blessing him; dying, rejoicing in the Lord; I long to be in the promised land ; I wait for thy salvation; how long ! Come, sweet Lord Jesus, take me by the hand; what means he to stay so long ? I am like to faint for delay; I could not believe that I could have borne, and borne cheerfully, this rod so long. This is a miracle-pain without pain--and this is not a fancy of a man disordered in his brain, but of one lying in full composure. Oh, blessed that ever I was born! Oh, if I were where he is ! and yet, for all this, God's withdrawing from me would make me as weak as water. I am wonderfully helped beyond the power of nature; though my body be suficiently afflicted, yet my spirit is untouched. In the Mediator, Christ Jesus, there is all the fulness of the godhead, and it will never run out. When I fall so low that I am not able to speak, I'll show you a sign of triumph, when I am near glory, if I be able.” This he did by elevating his hands and clapping them together, when speechless and just departing.
Janeway declared, in his last sickness, “I am His, a mercy quite above the fears of death, and am going unto Him whom
I love above life. Oh, that I could let you know what I now feel! Oh, that I could show you what I see! Oh, that I could now express the thousandth part of that sweetness which I now find in Christ! You little think what a Christ is worth upon a death-bed. Oh! the glory, the unspeakable glory that I behold! My heart is full, my heart is full! Christ smileswould you keep me from my crown?
The arms of
my blessed Saviour are open to embrace me; the angels stand ready to carry my soul into his bosom! You would not have the heart to detain me if you could see what I see!"
Dr. Goodwin said, “I am going to the Three Persons with whom I have held communion : they have taken me, I did not take them. I shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye; all my corruptions I shall be rid of in a moment !” Then alluding to the eleventh of Hebrews, he said, “ All these died in faith ; I could not have imagined I should ever have had such a measure of faith in this hour; no, I could never have imagined it; my love abides in strength. Is Christ divided ? No; I have the whole of his righteousness; Christ can not love me better than he doth; I think I can not love Christ better than I do; I am swallowed up in God; soon I shall be for ever with the Lord !”
John Knox thus spoke in dying—" That day is now at hand which I have so often and so intensely longed for; in which I shall be dissolved, and be with Christ. O my friends, wait on the Lord, and death will not be terrible! I have a certain persuasion in my own heart that Satan shall not be permitted to return, or molest me any more in my passage to glory; but that I shall now, without any pain of body or agony of mind, sweetly and peacefully ex. change this wretched life for that which is through Christ Jesus.”
Rutherford said, “ I shall shine, I shall see Him as he is, and all the fair company with him, and shall have my large share. I have gotten the victory; Christ is holding forth his arms to embrace
I have had my fears and faintings; but as sure as ever he spake to me in his word, his Spirit witnessed to my heart, saying, . Fear not.' A few moments before breathing his last, he exclaimed, “How I feel, I believe, I enjoy, I rejoice, I feed on manna, I have angels' food; my eyes will see my Redeemer ; • I know that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth,”” and then expired, saying, “ Glory, glory dwelleth in Emanuel's land.”
Mr. Holland, overwhelmed with a vision of glory on his deathbed, asked whether the candles had been lighted: he was told it was the sunshine :-" Sunshine," said he, “nay, it is my Saviour's shine. Oh! tell at my funeral God deals favourably with man; whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell, God knoweth; but I see things unutterable ;” and in this rapture he fell asleep.
And how shall we describe the last moments of the seraphic Payson ? to go and stand by his dying bed seemed more like a visit to the land of Beulah than to the place where the “ king of terrors" was waging his last conflict. It is to stand “quite on the verge of heaven. Listen to the dying saint: “ The celestial city is full in