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listened attentively to its utterances, can hardly fail to have discovered the existence of defective and erroneous views of the Gospel as a system of moral and religious truth and duty. Let us see how far this fact may assist us in our enquiry. He who undertakes either jo defend, or question the truths of the Gospel, is expected to hold correct views of its nature and design. It does not always follow that we thoroughly understand it, because of our practised ability to talk fluently of it. Readiness of speech may characterise a man on any of the multiplied subjects of human inquiry, without the possession of very accurate or extensive knowledge. It would not be difficult to find some among the leaders of the infidel party lamentably deficient in their views of the Gospel. Taking the working classes en masse, this ignorance exists to an almost incredible extent. Notions abound, but very little knowledge. Opinions are rife, but well ascertained conclusions, carefully and calmly wrought out, are exceedingly rare. An actual experience of "the truth as it is in Jesus,” is not presumed, nay, in some cases is even repudiated. The very men who will endeavour to verify facts in physical science by experiment, will unblushingly dogmatise in morals and religion, without having sought an acquaintance with the first principles of the system they condemn. Do we need wonder that from such causes the views held by many of the people, as to the real nature and claims of the Gospel, are little better than miserable caricatures ? There is a large class who profess to hold no distinctive opinions beyond the affirmation that Christianity is a system of priestcraft, and maintained in existence by "pious fraud." With some, the most rigid interpretation of Calvinism is affirmed as the popular exposition of the Gospel among Christians. Complete and comprehensive views of Deity are almost unheard of. The God of the Bible is either represented as an inexorable tyrant and judge, or as a weak and foolishly indulgent parent. His moral government is made to contrast unfavourably with His paternal character, and the ministers of religion are charged with preaching a malignant God, when they affirm and defend the Atonement of Christ. Such are a sample of the views, held by many of those who have set themselves most resolutely to oppose the Gospel. And we are sorry to add, that many who take the name of Christian, are chargeable with the propagation of such sentiments among the people. Nor is the matter much improved, in reference to many of those who have been brought more directly under Christian influences and teaching. They have been so accustomed to hear the terms government, justice, debt, grace, faith, and such like, iterated and reiterated without any distinct perception of their meaning, and bearing in the Christian scheme of redemption, that at last, some of them have turned aside, either wearied or disgusted, and most probably have settled down among the number of the indifferent.
We shall not surely be charged with censoriousness, if we affirm that for much of this the ministry is undoubtedly to blame. cases, we fear, the trumpet has given an uncertain sound. We are far from concluding that the entire blame rests here; but let us not attempt to conceal from ourselves the fact, that large numbers of the people are, in this respect, what we have made them ; and, if their views of the Gospel are not so enlarged and correct as we could have wished, is it too much to enquire, whether there may not have been some defect in our mode of communicating the truth / We speak now of those who have been brought, more or less, within the reach of Christian teaching. It is evident that for some years past, the mode we have adopted in our public ministrations has been far from popular with the mass of the people.
Account for it as we may, the fact itself is beyond the reach of successful contradiction. The ministry has lacked interest and power. The doctrines and
In too many
duties of the Christian religion have not been presented in all that harmony and consistency necessary to clear conceptions of the Gospel scheme of salvation. With some the polemical has held undue prominence over the practical ; while others have preached the practical to the almost entire neglect of the doctrinal. The relation between truth and duty, head and heart, grace and knowledge, has not been clearly defined and enforced. The truth has been presented too much in parts, until many of the unthinking have mistaken a part for the whole, and thus failed to comprehend the completeness and perfection of the religion of the Bible. Thus one-sided views of the Deity, his works and his ways, are held and propagated, while their possessors are no sooner brought into direct contact with the floating mass of infidel sentiment among the workshops of the land, than they become as "reeds shaken" with the wind.
But beside all this, is it too much to affirm that our expositions of the Gospel have lacked breadth and comprehensiveness ? In some instances they have been narrowed to so fine a point, that from such definitions it would be exceedingly difficult to say what the Gospel is, or what it includes. It might well make angels weep to hear men claiming divine authority expound a few peculiar dogmas as the Gospel ; and denounce in fierce invective their terrible anathemas against all who do not pronounce their Shibboleth. With others the Gospel is no more than the maintenance of two or three doctrines held in common by the great mass of professing Christians. There is much talk of preaching the Gospel, which merely intends the defence of Sectarian orthodoxy. Far be it from us to set lightly by “the form of sound words.” None can hold more tenaciously than we do, that, other things being equal, the healthiness of the life will be in proportion to the soundness of the faith. But the Gospel is not so much the embodiment of one or two truths, as it is the truth. It includes everything bearing on the moral and spiritual development of the
It is God's goodwill” to a sinful world. It is forgetful of nothing that relates to the present and future of man's requirements. The defect of which we complain may have partly originated here. We have thought too much of the Gospel through the Creed, and hence have failed to comprehend the Gospel as our Creed. We have thus put the human in place of the divine, and made the things of heaven square with those of earth. It is thus that God's great message to man has been confined too much to the sanctuary and the closet. We seem to have been afraid of the wind blowing upon it, and bave nursed it within doors as a sickly child. The people have not been brought so frequently into contact with it as a thing of every-day life, equally adapted to the busy pursuits of the countinghouse and the workshop-the hours of relaxation as well as the periods of study. For want of this better acquaintance, many view it as a piece of superior class legislation, admirably suited to man while surrounded with the comforts and elegancies of life, but unfitted to meet the poor afflicted conditions of humanity. It is thus that the Gospel is misapprehended, and many turn from it either with indifference or disgust.
If our people are to be permanently impressed for good, it is most essential they should be furnished with right views of the Gospel. The day has gone by when mere rhapsody could be substituted for calm reason, and animal excitement occupy the place of holy earnestness. The man needs something more than mere strength of lungs who would in this day lead on the bannered hosts of God, and win the world for Christ. It is in vain to hope for any improvement in the thinking and feeling of our people, but in proportion to the increased clearness and power of our teaching. The crowds that wait on our ministry need nourishing food, and it will not do merely to throw among them the bones of controversy, The toiling artizan on his one day of rest needs words that are “spirit
and life”; he wants something that he can take with him while called to do battle with the stern realities of every-day duties. If we would defend him from danger, we must not clothe him with the miserably scant garments of sectarianism, but with the whole armour of God.” It must be our endeavour to form men, and not the mere creatures of a sect. We must enforce the duties of Christian life as the result of Christian faith. We must be careful, “as wise master builders," to secure a good foundation, in order to the stability and permanence of the structure we seek to erect. In a word, we must endeavour to educate our people ; to make them mentally strong and morally good. Only by such a course can we hope to retain those we have, and gather within the fold of Christ the multitudes who wander as sheep having no shepherd.
(To be continued.)
YOUTHFUL ZEAL AND DILIGENCE IN THE CAUSE
OF CHRIST.. One of the few facts of which we possess a knowledge is, that we are all hastening to the grave. This should be borne' in remembrance, and allowed to have its appropriate influence upon our lives. As servants of Christ, we should frequently consider, that with life our opportunities of usefulness will terminate. The grave is no scene of activity. The dead have retired from their labours, and they cannot return to accomplish what they have neglected, or to complete or improve aught in which they were engaged when they were called away. Thus, to supplement the labour of our life's short day is not allowed us. We must work while it is day : the night cometh when no man can work.” How judicious, how salutary and important, therefore, is the admonition, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.'
Since life is so short, we ought to endeavour by habitual diligence to accomplish much. He who lives for the salvation of souls, is the last man on earth who should allow himself to waste an hour." Let the short and fleeting hours be appreciated and improved. Let the morning of life pass in the earnest, cheerful, and unremitting performance of the duties of religion, and thus the foundation be laid for a whole life of Christian activity. Happy would it be, if each youth that reads these lines were, in reference to the day of life, heartily to join in the prayer of the poet
" So like the sun would I fulfil
The business of the day;
March on my heavenly way.” How often, in consequence of early remissness, the whole life is wasted. How important it is that young persons should accustom themselves to improve the fragments of time, for time, like money, may be squandered in trifles. Let them ponder the sentiment of Dr. Young, “Moments make the year, and trifles life.” If we take care of minutes, we shall not have to mourn over the loss of days, months, and years. Dear reader, be careful to improve the precious moments of thy transitory life. Say unto God, “So teach me to number my days, that I may apply my heart to the study and practice of true piety.” It is painful to consider that many, in a lifetime of threescore and ten, or fourscore years, do little or no good. Though their stay among ineu is thus protracted, when they depart they are unmissed and unlamented. On the other hand, it is astonishing how much good is done by some in one-half, yea, in some cases, in one-third that time. It is delightful to consider how rich in good works some die at an ealy age. It is sometimes our pleasure to see an individual who, as Shakspeare says, has—
" Made use and fair advantage of his days;
His years but young, but his experience old;
His head upmellow'd, but his judgment ripe." There are some among the spirits of the just enjoying a pre-eminent degree of felicity, and shining with pre-eminent glory, who have left youthful bodies on earth. Their eminence is the consequence of their having zealously laboured for the extension of the kingdom of the Redeemer, and for the promotion of the glory of God, whilst on earth. Their stay here was brief, but their fruit abundant. Their years were few, but their labours many. They were wont to glide from one pious work to another, allowing no pause for idleness. When remonstrated with, their reply was like that of their indefatigable Exemplar, “ Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business ?” They strove to imitate “Jesus of Nazareth, who went about doing good.” They nobly sustained the glorious enterprise for the world's salvation, and fell in the field with glory in their souls. Now they are with Jesus, “ they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.” And now
" Who thinks, where blest they reign above the sky,
Their crowns too radiant, or their thrones too high?
Adjourning to the time that never came.
PICTURES OF WAR.
WAR.-It would have proved a striking part of a vision presented to Adam, the day after the death of Abel, to have brought before his eyes half a million of men crowded together in the space of a square
mile. When the first father had exhausted his wonder on the multitude of his offspring, he would then naturally inquire of his angelic instructor for what purposes so vast a multitude had assembled, and for what common end ? How horrified we may suppose him to be on being told, “They are there to murder each other; they are all Cains; not an Abel amongst them !”
HORRORS OF WAR.—It has been estimated by Dr. Thomas Dick, that, since the creation of the world, fourteen thousand millions of beings have fallen in the battles which man has waged against his fellow-creature
If this amazing number of men were to bold each other by the hand, at arm's length, they would extend over 14,583,333 miles of ground, and would encircle the globe on which we dwell some hundreds of times ! If we allow the weight of a man to be, on an average, one hundred weight (and that is, if anything, below the mark), we shall come to the conclusion, that 6,250,000 tons of human flesh have been mangled, disfigured, gashed, and trampled under foot. The calculation will appear more striking when we state, that if the forefingers only of every one of those fourteen thousand millions of beings were to be laid out in a straight line, they would reach more than 600,000 miles beyond the moon, and that if a
person were to undertake to count the number, allowing nineteen hours a day, and seven days to the week, at the rate of 6,000 per hour, it would occupy that person 336 years; and, awful is the consideration, 350,000 pipes of human blood have been spilt in battles! Who would not exclaim with Bishop Hall, “Give me the man who can devise how to save troops of men from killing; his name shall have room in my calendar. There is more true honour in a civic garland for the preserving of one subject, than in a laurel for the victory over many enemies.” Or, with Bishop Taylor, "If men were only subject to Christ's law, then could they never go to war with each other!"
PHYSICAL COURAGE AT A DISCOUNT.-Is not the bravery of the bravest outdone even by the brutes ? When the soldier has vigorously assaulted the enemy, when though repulsed he still returns to the conflict, when, þeing wounded, he still brandishes his sword, till it drops from his grasp by faintness and death-he surely is brave. What, then, is the moral rank to which he has attained ? He has attained to the rank of a bull-dog. The dog, too, vigorously assails his enemy; when tossed into the air, he returns into the conflict ; when gored he still continues to bite, and yields not his hold until he is stunned or killed. Contemplating bravery as such, there is not a man in Britain or in Europe whose bravery entitles him to praise which he must not share with the combatants of a cock-pit.Jonathan Dymond.
THE PEN AND THE SWORD ARE NOT FRIENDS.—The sword of the warrior was taken down to brighten ; it had not been long out of use. The rust was rubbed, but there were spots that would not go out—they were of blood. The
pen took advantage of the first breath of air to move a little further off. "Thou art right,” said the sword, “I am a bad neighbour.” “ I fear thee not,” said the pen ; "I am more powerful than thou art, but love not thy society.” “I exterminate," said the sword. “And 'I perpetuate,” answered the pen ; " where are thy victories, if I record them not ? Even where thou shalt one day be--in the lake of oblivion.”
NAPOLEON'S HOUSE AT SAINT HELENA.—Bonaparte's house at Long. wood, Saint Helena, is now a barn ; the room he died in, is a stable ; and where the imperial body lay in state may be found a machine for grinding
THE RECOVERY OF THE WANDERER. I WAS standing by the side of my mother, under the spacious porch of the church, Union-street, Glasgow, awaiting the hour for afternoon service. A holy calm hung over the city; no discordant noise broke the solemn stillness of the day of rest and worship ; scarcely a whisper was heard in the assembly of waiting worshippers who crowded the broad pavement on which I stood. All seemed profoundly impressed with the solemn and sacred character of the day, the place, and the occasion which had called them together. It was, in short, a Sabbath in the land of Knox and Chalmers. I had been in this position, probably ten or fifteen minutes, when I observed two young men turn a corner, and walk towards the church. They were dressed in their working clothes, unshaven and dirty, and slightly intoxicated. As they passed the church-door, they assumed a swaggering, irreverent gait, laughed, and finally commenced singing a profane song. Some of the bystanders expressed their horror at the occurrence, others wondered what had become of the police; but my mother turned to me, and said, “Follow those two young men, and invite them to a seat in our pew.”
I soon overtook them, and delivered my mother's message. One laughed