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And, moreover, not only is there reason to think, that this present time finds itself bounden to each individual existing by common bounds; but the dispensations of Providence teach us, that this time is bound to all times, and bears important relationship to the first ages of the world; and not only so, but may in its sequences claim its full character, as is seen in connexion with the unborn ages of futurity. So that we who stand on this present brief moment, and cannot see the end from the beginning, may not be able to understand, how the infinite mind is
“From seeming evil, still educing good,
And better thence again, and better still,
But without staying to urge any further observations on our thoughtful friend, we may remark the fact, that it is a part of the divine government of the world, that vice is punished with terrible certainty and fearfulness; but that notwithstanding this ordinace, many individuals, by repenting of the course which brought on them evil disasters, are saved from much pain.
And, again, we find ourselves open to the just observation, that in many instances repentance is of no avail; that where a man has indulged in a long career of folly, and where he has only committed one rash act, repentance is often too late to afford any mitigation of the penalties already incurred; that the law must have its course.
And here we are at a loss for a reply: It is true that there are such cases, as those urged on our consideration; and from them it follows, that as we are under a government in which repentance is sometimes too late, what guarantee have we that in a future state, under the same governor, we may not find the severe and distressing influence of our moral dere
lictions mar our happiness, and destroy all hopes of high and noble action ?
In vain we look into the constitution of the worldin vain we, in sorrow of heart, put the question to the everlasting hills, and the silvery pensive stars; the stillness of the first, and sad quick twinkling of the last, sympathize with our despair. And our final conclusion is this, “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God, on them which fall severity; but towards thee, goodness, if thou continue in goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” There is no voice beneath the skies then that can solve our doubt. No authority which can proclaim the intentions of the infinite God, with respect to his fallen and sinful creatures.
Our only hope is in the revelations of the Great Creator himself. To Him we must come with our dark and hungry fears,-of Him we must seek the answer to the all-important question, Is there any forgiveness for the sinner? On the far distant past we hear the soft gentle murmur; it grows with the ages; at length, in no uncertain tones, it speaks out the great answer,—the heart of humanity trembles with the grandness of the message, and in its Saviour's arms its throbbings cease; the suffusions of joy steal through every sensation, for “God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last times spoken unto us by his Son."
We come then to another fact. Did Christ speak the truth? If Christ can be convicted of uttering rash assertions, the hopes of all good men--nay of the best men-men, whose existence in this world has been the glory of humanity, have been fallacious ; and we must return again to the miserable twilight of our former uncertainty.
Here two points arise. First, that to all great minds, the interior must trust, before it can as
certain their truthfulness. This is well illustrated by the confidence which the less informed sailor places in the nautical skill of his captain. If the seamen of Columbus had not implicitly trusted to his guidance, they could never have discovered the truth of his assertions, about the existence of another continent. Again; if we would prove the good qualities of any friend, we must trust him. If the master would be certain of the honesty of his servant, he must trust him in the first instance, and run the risk of being robbed; otherwise, he will never know if his servant be honest or not. We may easily conceive how these illustrations may serve to shew the dependant faith, the confiding belief, we must put in the Son of God, before we can be sure of the veracity of bis doctrines.
As Christ has said, “If any man will do his will he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself.” This is the first and principal method of becoming convinced that Christ spake the words of truth.
In the second place. If there be any one great event, which, altogether at variance with the usual and expected course of things, nevertheless, happens according to the prediction of the person who asks for our confidence, it would be a great inducement of belief in his general honesty. And where a great number of these events were predicted, and were all realized according to prediction, it would afford a general presumption of truthfulness, which nothing short of direct proof to the contrary could overthrow. We need not mention the several instances in the life of Christ, in point. One we will particularize—the prophecy that He should rise again. A fact so well authenticated, that even De Witte and others of the small school who resolve it into myth, cannot deny the sufficiency of the evidence. For these reasons, then, we turn to what Christ has said, with lively hope and cheerful expectancy. And the contrite spirit which
is desirous of knowing the mind of God, will, in the blessed Gospel of the Son of God, find that peace
and refreshment which no other source can supply.
We remember the gentle Saviour, after He had been praying in a certain place, his face lit up with the radiance of divine wisdom, and his eye filled with the majestic dignity of the inspiration of a great truth, teaches his disciples to pray. Among the supplications there is this one: “ And forgive us our sins; for we forgive every one that is indebted to us." And for further illustrations, He puts to them the simple question, “ If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone-how much more," He proceeded to say, “shall your heavenly Father give good things to them that ask Him."
On another occasion, when the quick and sensitive Peter inquires of his Lord, the forbearance he ought to exercise with respect to the transgressions of his brother; he is told, that not only ought he to forgive his brother seven times, but seventy times seven. And immediately afterwards, the Great Teacher endeavours to impress on their minds a sense of the manifold mercies of God, by reminding them that, “ If ye forgive one another your trespasses, so shall your Heavenly Father forgive you your trespasses."
And as the imperfections of man cling not to his Maker, how perfect and glorious must be his forgive
It is no wonder to the man whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sin is covered, that the "peace of God passeth understanding."
We arrive, therefore, at this conclusion, that all manner of sin shall be forgiven unto the sons of men. This is a grand fact, which those who believe in Christ gladly receive.
But again, two important topics suggest themselves. How is this forgiveness obtained ? Is it given to all indiscriminately, or only to a chosen few ? And how can God be just, and yet receive into his favour those
who have transgressed the laws which He has declared shall be obeyed? These we must defer to another paper. In the meantime, let us look into the other teachings of Christ on the subject, and we shall see how sublime is this dogma of Christianity, worthy alike of God and of man. Keeping this in mind, we rejoice that the light afflictions which sin has entailed on us in this world, are but for a moment, and look forward to the cheerful prospect of the eternal weight of glory which awaits the forgiven spirit in another state.
8. G. J.
THE CROSS AND THE CROWN.
BENEATH an aged tree which grows beside a murmuring stream, I sat one summer's day, now reading in the book which lay upon my knee, and then gazing into the clear, still depths beneath. The leafy shadows slept peacefully on the mossy bank, and the sweet song of birds came on the wings of every fragrant breeze. I had been studying the vision of the loved Apostle in the Desert Isle; and I thought that ere now his troubles were over, and he had long since joined the glorious band of those who stand around the throne clad in white robes, and with palms of victory in their hạnds. And I thought of the many rough and thorny ways through which tried servants of God have passed to their eternal rest. At first, confused memories of the sufferings of the Army of Martyrs, and of their bitter conflicts, came before my mind's eye, like the vague outlines of some half-remembered dream; by degrees they assumed greater distinctness, till at last, they stood out from the darkness of the past, pictures clear and well defined of the persecuted Church's history through all ages.