Dr. McLaren of Manchester
A Sketch by E. T. McLaren (1911) (pdf)
O LORD, having boldness to enter into Thy holy presence through
the blood of Jesus, we implore the aid of Thy Spirit as the
Spirit of prayer and supplication. May He help our infirmities,
and make intercession for us according to Thy will, that we may
worship Thee, the Father of our spirits, in spirit and in truth.
HYMN, or Psalm xliii. 3-5.
ON this day, the first of days,
God the Father’s name we praise;
Who, creation’s Fount and spring,
Did the world from darkness bring.
On this day th’ Eternal Son
Over death his triumph won;
On this day the Spirit came
With his gifts of living flame.
Oh! that fervent love to-day
May in every heart have sway,
Teaching us to praise aright
God the source of life and light.
Father, who didst fashion me
Image of thyself to be,
Fill me with thy love divine,
Let my every thought be thine.
JEREMIAH XXV. 1-14.
THE word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of
Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of
Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of
Babylon; 2. The which Jeremiah the prophet spake unto all the
people of Judah, and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
saying, 3. From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon
king of Judah, even unto this day (that is the three and
twentieth year), the word of the Lord hath come unto me, and I
have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not
hearkened. 4. And the Lord hath sent unto you all his servants
the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not
hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear. 5. They said, Turn ye
again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your
doings, and dwell in the land that the Lord hath given unto you
and your fathers for ever and ever; 6. And go not after other
gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me not to
anger with the works of your hands, and I will do you no hurt.
7. Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith the Lord; that ye
might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands to your
own hurt. 8. Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, because ye
have not heard my words, 9. Behold, I will send and take all the
families of the north, saith the Lord, and Nebuchadressar the
king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this
land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these
nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make
them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.
10. Moreover, I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the
voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of
the bride, and sound of the millstones, and the light of the
candle. 11. And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an
astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon
seventy years. 12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years
are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and
that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of
the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations. 13. And I
will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced
against it, even all that is written in this book, which
Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations. 14. For many
nations and great kings shall serve themselves of them also; and
I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according
to the works of their own hands.
HEARKEN unto the voice of our cry, our King and our God; for
unto Thee will we pray. Many and strong are the foes which seek
after our souls to destroy them; deliver us, O Lord, from our
enemies: we flee unto Thee to hide us. Teach us to do Thy will,
for Thou art our God; Thy spirit is good, lead us into the land
of uprightness. Quicken us, O Lord, for Thy name’s sake; for Thy
righteousness' sake, bring our souls out of trouble.
Our iniquities, O Lord, are gone up over our heads, and the cry
of our trespass has reached unto the heavens. We cherish no
thought that is not mixed with sin, nor do we ever render Thee
any service which is wholly pure from self-love. O blot out as a
thick cloud all our transgressions, and as a cloud our sins; for
Thou hast redeemed us. We thank Thee that Thy sinless Son was
made sin for us; we bless Thee that the Light of the world
submitted to darkness in our stead, that the Life of all things
died on our behalf, that the Almighty became as weakness, and
the King of kings a servant of servants, to redeem our ruined
race. At Thy footstool, O Father of mercy, we humbly bow: with
no plea but that Christ hath died for our offences and risen
again for our justification, we entreat Thy pardon. Deny it not,
O God, lest we be counted with those that go down into the pit,
and be as men that have no strength, and who are cut off from
Thy hand for ever.
The thought of Thy superabounding mercy toward us,
notwithstanding all our unworthiness, may well fill our hearts
with adoring gratitude and praise. When we were held in hopeless
captivity by the law of sin and of death, from which we could do
nothing to relieve ourselves, Thou didst bring us out of
darkness and the shadow of death, and didst break our bands in
sunder. O that we could praise Thee as we ought for Thy
goodness, and for Thy wonderful works unto us the children of
men. Even when we perverted Thy gifts to the service of our own
sinful hearts, and the gratification of every passing thought,
Thou, O Lord, didst not withdraw them, but didst bless us still.
Humbly and most thankfully do we acknowledge that Thy ways are
not as our ways, nor Thy thoughts as our thoughts.
And now, O Father, we beseech Thee to be with us this day,
giving us a child-like faith and trust in Thy blessed grace and
guidance, in Thy heavenly counsel, and in Thy mighty protection.
Consecrate us all with the blessed influences of Thy Holy
Spirit, causing us to rejoice in the gladness of Thy people, and
to glory with Thine inheritance. Make the gospel of Thy grace to
come into our souls with the demonstration of Thy Spirit and
with power. O send forth Thy light and Thy truth everywhere
among the assemblies of Thy people, to gladden and to guide
them; and among those who forsake Thy sanctuary and profane Thy
holy day, to turn them from the error of their ways, unto Thy
worship and service. Make all those who bear Thy Son’s name to
be living epistles, testifying by lives of charity and welldoing
that they have passed from death unto life, and therefore, love
These, and all our prayers, we offer in and through Him who has
taught us to say, Our Father, &c. Amen.
THE CHURCH IN THE HOUSE.
O LORD, seeing that our life is even a vapour that appeareth for
a little time, and then vanisheth away; so teach us to number
our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom, and may be
found of Christ in peace, without spot, and blameless, at His
glorious appearing to judge the world. Amen.
HYMN, or Psalm lxxi. 15-18.
IN vain the erring world enquires
For some substantial good;
While earth confines their low desires,
They live on airy food.
Illusive dreams of happiness
Their eager thoughts employ:
They wake, convinced their boasted bliss
Is visionary joy.
Not all the good which earth bestows
Can fill the craving mind;
Its highest joys have mingled woes,
And leave a sting behind.
Grant, O my God, this one request --
O be thy love alone
My ample portion ! -- here I rest,
For heaven is in the boon.
ECCLESIASTES XII. 1-7.
REMEMBER now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the
evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt
say, I have no pleasure in them; 2. While the sun, or the light,
or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds
return after the rain: 3. In the day when the keepers of the
house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves,
and the grinders cease, because they are few, and those that
look out at the windows be darkened; 4. And the doors shall be
shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low; and
he shall rise up at the voice of a bird; and all the daughters
of musick shall be brought low: 5. Also when they shall be
afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and
the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a
burden, and desire shall fail; because man goeth to his long
home, and the mourners go about the streets: 6. Or ever the
silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the
pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the
cistern: 7. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was;
and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
2 PETER III.
THIS second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both
which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2. That
ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the
holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the
Lord and Saviour: 3. Knowing this first, that there shall come
in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4. And
saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the
fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the
beginning of the creation. 5. For this they willingly are
ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old,
and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6.
Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water,
perished: 7. But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the
same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day
of judgement and perdition of ungodly men. 8. But, beloved, be
not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as
a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9. The Lord
is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count
slackness; but is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any
should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10. But
the day of the Lord shall come as a thief in the night; in the
which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the
elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the
works that are therein, shall be burnt up. 11. Seeing then that
all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons
ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness; 12.
Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God,
wherein the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the
elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13. Nevertheless we,
according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth,
wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14. Wherefore, beloved, seeing
that ye look for such things, be diligent, that ye may be found
of him in peace, without spot, and blameless: 15. And account
that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our
beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto
him, hath written unto you: 16. As also in all his epistles,
speaking in them of these things: in which are some things hard
to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable
wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own
destruction. 17. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye now these
things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the
error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness; 18. But
grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
(Addressed specially to the Young.)
“AND THE KING SAID UNTO BARZILLAI, COME THOU OVER WITH ME, AND I
WILL FEED THEE WITH ME AT JERUSALEM. AND BARZILLAI SAID UNTO THE
KING, HOW LONG HAVE I TO LIVE, THAT I SHOULD GO UP WITH THE KING
UNTO JERUSALEM? I AM THIS DAY FOURSCORE YEARS OLD; AND CAN I
DISCERN BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL? CAN THY SERVANT TASTE WHAT I EAT
OR WHAT I DRINK? CAN I HEAR ANY MORE THE VOICE OF SINGING MEN
AND SINGING WOMEN? . . . LET THY SERVANT, I PRAY THEE, TURN BACK
AGAIN, THAT I MAY DIE IN MINE OWN CITY, AND BE BURIED BY THE
GRAVE OF MY FATHER AND OF MY MOTHER.” -- 2 Sam. xix. 33-37.
ONE word of explanation is all that is necessary, in order to
feel the full force and beauty of this little story. King David,
in the rebellion of his beloved and treacherous Absalom, has
been driven from the monarchy, his crown is in peril, a price is
set upon his head; he crosses the Jordan into the wild
desert-like regions on the other side, and, whilst old friends
are dropping away from him in their haste to worship the rising
sun, two or three of the more simple loyal chieftains of that
half-barbarous country -- Barzillai among them -- bring to him,
in the time of his necessity, seasonable supplies for himself
and his men. And then, when the tide turns, and poor Absalom is
hung up there in the oak tree by the hair; and everybody is
flocking back, fawning at the feet of the man they had been
cursing -- his stanch old friend, Barzillai, comes out to meet
him again on his triumphant return, and attends him a little way
across Jordan, till he fairly stands on the soil of his
recovered kingdom. The king offers to carry the aged chief to
court, and bring him to honour there. But the old man answers in
the language we have selected for our text. Now, I take these
words for the sake of the picture of old age which they give us.
Clearness and quickness of intellect are gone; all taste for the
pleasures and delights of sense is gone; ambition is dead;
capacity for change is departed. What is left? The old man lives
in the past and in the future. The early child-love for the
father and mother, who hung over his cradle eighty years ago,
remains fresh. He cannot “hear any more the voice of singing men
and singing women;” but he can hear, stealing through almost a
century, the old tones, thin and ghost-like, of the dear ones
whom he first learned to love. The furthest past is fresh and
vivid, and in memory of it is half his life. Also he looks
forward familiarly and calmly to the very near end, and thinks
much of death. That thought keeps house with him now, and is
nearer to him than the world of living men is. Thus, one half of
his life is memory, and the other half is hope; and all his
hopes are now reduced and simplified to one -- the hope to die,
and then to be laid down and go to sleep again beside his father
and mother. And so he returns to his city, and passes out of our
I address young people chiefly, in this sermon: Why should I
speak to you about old age? It is because some of you will come
to that. Some of you, perhaps, will have to die young; the most
of you will come to middle age and maturity; and to some of you
silver hairs will be granted, and you may see your children’s
children. And what I want to put before you now is the lesson of
what life -- if life be spared -- is sure to do to you; that
upon these certainties I may build the old, old appeal,
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the
evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt
say, I have no pleasure in them.”
I. In the first place, then, looking at this picture of old age,
we gather this simple thought: Life as it goes on, is sure to
rob us gradually of our interest in earthly things. “Can I
discern between good and evil any more?” says the old man. That
does not refer to conscience but you will find that, in the Old
Testament generally, the phrase, “discerning between good and
evil,” applies rather to what we should call judgment or
understanding. A gradual dimness or feebleness, or at least a
want of mobility and elasticity, has come over the mind of the
old man; can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink?” All
the things that please the senses have lost their power of
delighting, if not altogether, yet to a great extent. And more
than that -- ambition is deadening too. “What do I care to go up
to Jerusalem, to go even to court? The hills of Gilead are
better for me than that; I will stop where I am!” Sixty years
ago he would have been glad to have the offer, but he has found
out that in much wisdom is much sorrow; he has found out that
“the world passeth away and the lust thereof;” and he has found
out that ambition and advancement are but hollow things after
all. And so, with his dim old eyes, he looks past them and
through them; and says, Let me alone; I don’t care about those
things any more!”
Now, I do not mean to say that that is what all people come to;
but this certainly is true -- you will never be so enthusiastic
again as you are in your youth; you will never feel as if the
world was so full of a boundless treasury of joys and delights,
as you do in the budding freshness of your early days. There is
a glory in everything to the young man’s and to the young
woman’s eye, not so much belonging to the objects themselves, as
reflected on them from the unworn buoyant heart that opens to
receive the new experiences of unfolding life. You have but
stepped across the threshold into life. Like a child waking from
sleep, and running into some fair garden, the first moment is
all bright and beautiful to you. You have your sorrows, I well
know, and your times of dark and deep despair, which, perhaps,
are as sad and dark as those of the more experienced in the
vanities of this life. But, on the whole, thank God! all young
things are happy and lithe in their early life, and you amongst
I speak here, then (following the guidance of the passage before
us), mainly to three classes. I make my appeal, first, to those
of you, who, stung by a true and lofty Ambition, are seeking to
gain wisdom and knowledge -- to intermeddle with all truth, to
know the causes and reasons of things, and to order, in your
thoughts, this confused and chaotic world that lies all round
about you, into something like a system and a whole. All honour
to you for it. But young man, thinker, student, reader, to whom
truth is the loftiest word, wisdom the grandest thought, whose
spirit is yearning “to follow knowledge like a sinking star,
beyond the furthest bounds of human thought,” -- let me give you
a caution. The well of truth is not a fountain. Though it is the
divinest, perhaps, of created occupations, all but one excepted,
to learn and to think, and ever to be piecing together that
which we know not by that which we do know -- that is not enough
for you. You will tire of it. Knowledge, wisdom, has its pains
and its limitations. As the days creep on, you will find that
life is something more than a library; that there is something
else to be done in the world than to know; that a man with a
brain and nothing else is a monster; and that precious
sympathies, and human loves, and large duties, are all neglected
and tossed aside, when once the overmastering, unbridled
diseased love of knowledge has marked you for its own. Ah! who
knows in how many ways it is true, “the wisdom of this world is
foolishness with God?” Learn, study, think, task your mind on
knotty and difficult subjects; but, oh! remember to purify your
consciences; remember this fact -- you are a sinner, and a wise
sinner may be none the less a lost sinner after all! “With all
thy getting, get understanding;” and above all, remember that a
time will come -- here, perhaps -- yonder, certainly -- when
“tongues shall cease, knowledge shall pass away,” favourite
subjects will begin to seem “flat, stale, and unprofitable;” and
the wise man, who is nothing more, will wake up to understand
that, with all his wisdom, he is a fool. “Can thy servant
discern any more between good and evil?”
Then, again, there is another class to whom these words point an
appeal. I speak to some, who, in the flush of their early days,
and the buoyancy of the strong new life that is in them, feel as
if the delights that can be felt, and tasted, and handled, were
the grand things that they had come to inherit. And my appeal to
you, dear friends, is still more emphatic, I am not speaking now
only to persons who, in the pursuit of sensuous pleasure, step
across the golden limit of morality and of duty, and plunge
themselves into the seething pool of sin. There will be a word
to say to them presently. But I appeal, rather, to the far wider
class, to whom life in its outward forms, the delights of life,
are, thus far, sufficing. And, my friend, if God, in his grace
and mercy, keep you in this world for a few more years, when the
sinews begin to get relaxed, and the palate insensible, and the
hand hard and horny and rheum and mist begin to creep over the
eyes, and the brain works sluggishly, and all the physical
powers show tokens of giving out, what will you have of it all?
“He that soweth to the flesh shall, of the flesh, reap
corruption.” There is no evading that law. You cannot go on
living in sensuous delights for ever. Excess in these soon tells
on the physical frame. They soon pall on the jaded sense, which
needs a stronger stimulus each time, and each time receives a
less gratification: and if nothing else will check you, days are
coming “when there will be no more pleasure in them.” Ay, and
the faster you gallop, the sooner you will come to that point!
The author who made it his business in England to sublimate and
spiritualize voluptuousness, said, when he was about thirty,
“Man delights me not, nor woman neither.” It did not take him
eighty years to come to Barzillai’s place; he could not “taste
what he ate or drank,” and “the voice of singing men and singing
women” was no delight to the jaded, palled senses of the wild
voluptuary. Take care!
Lastly, in this part of my subject, here is an appeal pointed to
you who are making your object in life self-advancement. The
glittering prize looks wonderfully less glittering when you come
to stand with one foot groping out from the solid land of life
into the misty sea of death. Four-score years taught this man,
that it was not worth while to be at the trouble of going to
Jerusalem, for all that a court could give. And it might be as
well for you and for all of us, to learn that lesson before
experience, for it would save us many a bitter disenchantment.
The lesson, then, of the whole is just this: do not sell your
souls to objects which in their true nature are transient; but
as you have got to live for ever, take an everlasting portion
for our portion, and make an everlasting Friend for your friend.
Make Christ your love, your joy, your trust. Go to Him, young
man, young woman, little child, old man, and all, go to Him with
our heart in your hand, and trust Him for this mercy, and rely
upon his sacrifice for your forgiveness, and upon his grace for
our salvation and then, “when heart fails,” and no longer is the
understanding quick to discern between good and evil, it shall
be wise “to know the Lord;” and when flesh fails, and sense is
no longer a minister of delight, God will be the strength of
your heart, and your portion for ever more.
II. There is another feature of old age which comes out here,
upon which we may also found a similar lesson: Life will
certainly rob you of the power of change. This poor old man felt
that he could not go up to Jerusalem. He is too old to be
transplanted. He had been bred upon the mountain side, and
brought up amongst his flocks; and he could not fit into a
court. But,” says he, “there is my boy, ‘behold thy servant
Chimham; let him go over with my lord the king, and do to him
what shall seem good unto thee.” The lad is young enough to be
moulded; take him with you, and put the kindness that you want
to do to the father upon the son’s head; because I am too old to
Ay, that is a sad solemn truth for many a man -- too old to
change! God be thanked, there is no point on this side of death
where the great change of all is absolutely impossible. But yet
whilst this is true, and whist all life is the region within
which we may accept the gospel, yet it is also true that, if you
let your early days pass also true that, if you let your early
days pass by without giving your heart to Christ, you are
running a terrible risk, and it certainly will be an infinitely
harder thing for you to come back to Him in your maturer age.
When the clay is soft, touch it with a straw, and the mark will
remain; but when it is burned into brick, hammer it with iron
and you will only break it. You are at the time of life when
habits are made. That strange and awful power of habit may
become your deadliest enemy, or your best friend. You may get
into the habit of wrong-doing, and then it clings to you like a
cleaving, leprous curse; or you may make custom an ally of all
goodness, and habit the guardian shield around all righteousness
and holiness and faith. You are making your characters every
moment. You are not only living in these young days of yours,
but you are settling how you are going to live in all the time
that comes after.
You say to yourself, perhaps, “I’ll have my fling; I’ll sow my
wild oats; I’ll wait a little while; time enough yet; and then
when I get steady and grave, and middle-aged, I’ll begin to
think about being a Christian!” Perhaps you will; I do not say
you will not, but I am quite sure of this, that you will find it
a dreadfully harder task. Whilst you delay, the forming-time of
your life is slipping away. Whilst you delay, you are getting
into habits of evil, and of rejecting God’s love. Whilst you
delay, you are hardening your conscience. Whilst you delay, you
are weakening the power of the gospel upon you. You are loading
the dice, so as to make it a million chances to one against your
ever changing. You may, you may, but in all probability you will
not. The experience of a good many years now has taught me this,
that for one man that truly turns to God after he is five and
twenty or thirty years old, there are a hundred that intended to
do it when they were children, and put it off for a little
while, and let the time slip, and at last -- at last -- fell
into the desperate thought, “The time is gone! I’m too old to
change now.” I have little hope that middle-aged men who are not
Christians will ever become so; and I turn to you, dear young
friends, plastic and flexible, who can shape habits, who are
making your characters, who have not the clog of years of
rejection on your feet, with the entreaty, “Will you not from
this time say, “My Father, thou art the guide of my youth.’”
III. Once more, Life will certainly deepen early memories. It is
very beautiful to see how this old man, who was living, as we
said, half in the future, was living the other half in the early
We have all seen instances of the same sort, how, when people
begin to lose the power of remembrance, the thing that goes out
of their memories last, is the thing that was put in their
first. When all the strife and sorrow of middle age are gone,
and when all the turbulence of youth is forgotten, the childish
days remain; and as with Barzillai, the father’s and mother’s
faces are found imprinted, never to be erased, on the heart of
the grey-headed child. I remember once seeing an old Christian
man dying, who forgot all the years of activity (he had been a
preacher of the gospel) and of faithful service, forgot all the
sorrows and disappointments of his poverty-pinched life, and
remembered only his boyish days, and babbled on his death-bed
the old names that he had learned at his mother’s knee. The
eastern sky often catches on its tints a pale rose tint from the
setting sun, whilst all the upper heavens are colourless and
dull. Just so, life at the end looks toward the beginning, and
we remember best our youthful days. Well, then, do not lay up in
your hearts now things that will torture you then. Young men in
our great commercial cities! tempted by companions, tempted by
loneliness, tempted to prove your manhood and liberty by
indulging in forbidden things, do not you do what would rack
your fathers’ and mothers’ hearts if it were told at home! If
you do, it will be the bitterest, blackest memory that you have
(should you ever come to be an old man and a father yourself),
that you brought the silver hairs of your father, and the deep
tenderness of a mother's heart, with a burden of added sorrow,
to their grave.
Oh! there are many of us, I am sure, who can remember things in
our childish past that, a hundred times since,we would have
given the world that we had not done, when we think of the
loving dead faces to which we once brought tears. Children!
children of many prayers, children of Christian parents, cast
upon the world now, and shaping your course, lay this to heart,
and resolve that you will not heap upon your souls memories of
profligacy, memories of wickedness, memories of godlessness,
memories of disobedience, that will burn with baleful light when
many other things are forgotten in your aging hearts!
And more than that, let Christ come to you now with his promises
of peace and of pardon, and beginning to be His now, believing
in His love and resting in His mighty work, lay up for
yourselves the treasure of a youth which, with all its
imperfections and with all its sins, was yet a youth of belief
in the Lord Jesus Christ; that when the days come in which the
present is nothing, and memory is half your being, you may
remember then a long course of humble dependence upon God, and
be able to say in the retrospect of it all, “I, thy servant,
feared God from my youth.”
IV. Last of all, Life will more and more confine our hopes and
vision to the grave. This man’s hopes are all, as I said,
dwindled down into one -- the hope to die, and be laid in the
burial place of his father and mother. Quietly familiar with the
end, he waited for it patiently. Will you, will you, dear young
friends, take that blessed Saviour for your Saviour; that if God
spare your lives to those quiet days, at the end of a long
course you, with like tranquillity -- as a traveller that has
packed his goods and got his cloak on, and has nothing to do but
to walk up and down the dock-side till the ship is ready -- may
be able to feel, “I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait,” and I
am ready to go when He will. There is nothing in the whole world
more beautiful than the calm tranquillity of an aged Christian
waiting till his change come. Whether the understanding be
bright to the end or clouded and darkened, whether the flesh and
sense fail or keep strong, it does not matter much. And what
solemn sweet beauty there is in the calm close of such a life
which goes down so slowly, like the lingering midsummer sun
living in softened light in the western heaven, out of which it
has set, long after it has risen in the ampler sky of the other
Let Jesus guide you, and it will be all well. Then, like some
river that rises up among the hills, and comes at first leaping
and sparkling down the valley sides, infantine in its thin rill,
and jubilant in its quick march; and then gradually, as it gets
into the plain, moving more slowly and more sedately, broader
and deeper and calmer, and doing work amongst the “haunts of
men,” and carrying merchandise on its hospitable bosom, and
gliding on at last, never so calm as when it is just opening
into the sea, and blending its waters with the shoreless ocean;
so our life will roll on: and though it may lose much of its
early brightness, and pass through man scenes of hard toil, will
be come deeper and worthier as it becomes calmer and slower, and
will then be fairest when the rolling of the great waters into
which it is soon to flow begins to be heard; and then, with a
little sock and jar, you will mingle with the broad ocean, and
dwell in God for evermore! Then shaking off the oppression of
weariness, and age, and weakness, and decay, you the first born
of heaven and the youngest angel before the throne, will renew
your youth, and enter upon a being in which the buoyancy and
novelty and irrepressible spring, and endless hope of early
days, shall more than come back to you again. The lesson of
lessons is, “Fear God and keep His commandments; for this is the
whole of man.” “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” and if you
die young you will be ripe enough for heaven, and if you linger,
till you are old you will pass into His presence, and be young
again there for ever.
-- ALEXANDER MACLAREN, B.A.
THE CHILDREN’S SERVICE.
THROUGH WHAT PERILS PAUL PASSED ON HIS WAY TO ROME.
Paul Preaching at Athens
The painting from which the engraving is made is by Sir James
AT the time when it had been resolved to send Paul to the
emperor in Rome, there came a merchant-ship into the harbour of
Caesarea, belonging to the town of Adramyttium. As this vessel
was to sail along the coast of Asia, it was thought to offer a
good opportunity for sending the apostle so far on his journey.
So a centurion, with soldiers under his command, was directed to
take charge of Paul and his companions, along with other
prisoners; and to go on board, and sail to some convenient port
where another ship might be met with on her way to Italy. A
short time brought them to Myra, and there a corn ship was found
that had come from Egypt, laden with grain, and was going on to
Rome. The centurion, accordingly, put Paul and the rest aboard
this vessel, and she proceeded on her voyage.
At first the progress of the ship was very slow, the wind
blowing from the west and keeping it back. At length, by
yielding to its force, and taking a round-about course, the
sailors managed to bring their vessel to a place on the south
side of the island of Crete, where they had to stay so long that
the time for safe sailing had passed for that year. Here it was
that Paul warned the captain of the ship and others on board,
that if they put to sea again, the voyage would be very
dangerous. But the harbour at Fair Havens, where the ship now
was, was not a convenient place to be all winter in; and the
shipmaster and the owner of the vessel were both resolved to try
and get to another port in Crete further to the west. So one day
when a soft south wind was blowing, they thought a favourable
time for accomplishing their purpose had come, and they gave
orders to set sail. Away they sped, lightly and happily at
first, keeping near to the coast, and hoping soon to reach the
safe harbour where they could spend the winter. But though it
was not afar off, they were not then to see it. For all of a
sudden, a strong wind, blowing quite fiercely, came down from
the land, and struck the ship till it reeled in the blast. All
the sailors could do was vain, to enable the vessel to make
head-way in the storm; and they had just to let her drive before
the tempest. Away the ship went like a helpless thing, and the
seamen began to think that she would be driven ere long into a
very dangerous part of the sea, known as the Quicksands. They
set themselves in every way they could to lessen their peril.
They got into the boat with hard work, and passed ropes round
the body of the ship, girding it firmly, to make it stronger.
They afterwards put the sails so, that they could let the ship
lie to. Then they began to lighten it by heaving a number of
things out into the sea; for valuable as property was, it was
nothing to hundreds of lives. After a day or two they lightened
it yet more, by throwing overboard the spare tackling and gear.
All this while the wind blew as fiercely as ever, and continued
to do so day after day. The whole crew, with passengers and
soldiers, were at length in despair. They had not seen sun, or
moon, or star for many days, and the storm had never abated,
while the ship had been drifting away to the west, they could
not tell how far. They had not the least hope now of being
saved, and had not heart enough even to take food.
But just when they were all in this state, Paul had one night a
visit from an angel, sent by God to tell him that he need have
no fear, for he was to stand before Caesar, and that for his
sake God would spare also all the lives on board. No doubt Paul
had prayed for God’s help, and for the two hundred and
seventy-six persons that were in all the ship and now God grants
him his desire. Next morning Paul told his vision to the people,
and assured them that not a man of them would be drowned. He
said he quite believed God that it would be as he had said: the
ship would be lost, and they would be cast on an island, but not
one life would perish.
The sailors were a good deal cheered by what Paul had said no
doubt; but the storm still blew. At last, on the fourteenth
night of the hurricane, they thought they must be coming near
land. So, having found that it was really so, by sounding the
depth of the sea, and seeing that it was growing less, they cast
four anchors out of the ship, and began to wait anxiously for
the light of day. At this time the seamen behaved ill. They
lowered the boat, and pretending to be preparing for casting
additional anchors, they were going to get into the boat and
leave the ship. But Paul told the Roman officer about their
preparations, and said that, unless they continued on board, the
rest would perish. On that the centurion ordered the soldiers to
cut the ropes, and the boat fell into the sea. At length the
morning dawned, and Paul standing forth before the whole company
took some food; and giving thanks to God, he began to eat in
their presence entreating them to do the same. His words and
example put heart into them, and they took some food also, and
began to be cheerful and in good hope. When their meal was
ended, the daylight was now clear, and they set themselves to
run the ship into a little opening in the land, where they could
see a gently sloping beach, hoping that it might go aground
there. So they threw the cargo of wheat into the sea, to make
the vessel as light as possible; then raised the anchors, and
spread the mainsail, and untied the helm, and made for the
shore. They did not succeed, however, in their aim. Before they
could reach the little creek, the ship went aground at a point
where two seas met; and though the fore part stuck fast, the
under part was broken to pieces. But the centurion, refusing for
Paul’s sake to kill the prisoners, took command, and ordered
those who could swim to throw themselves into the sea, and make
for land, Afterwards, by the use of boards and other fragments
of the ship, those who could not swim were floated safe to
shore, and as Paul had said, not one of all the crew or
passengers was lost.
The island on the shore of which the shipwrecked company were
now standing under heavy rain, they knew now to be called Melita.
It is generally believed to be the same as modern Malta; and the
very place where the shipwreck took place may be said to be well
known. The people on the island were very kind to Paul and the
rest. They gathered a large bundle of firewood, and made a huge
fire, and asked them all to come near. It was when this was
being done that a striking circumstance happened. A venomous
viper had been gathered along with the sticks from the woods.
When the fire began to burn, and the creature felt the heat, it
darted out, and fastened on Paul’s bare hand, as he stood near
warming himself. The people seeing this, and knowing that the
snake was a poisonous one, and observing that Paul was a
prisoner, said to themselves, This man is no doubt a murderer;
he has escaped the sea, but the gods are pursuing him, and have
sent the viper to kill him. Meanwhile, Paul shook off the beast
into the fire, and felt no harm. When the people saw that after
a time he stood there quite well, without a trace of hurt about
him, they changed their minds, and said he was a god. We need
not doubt, however, that the good apostle would teach them that
he was just a man like themselves, and would preach Christ to
them. Paul staid for three months at Malta, and performed a
great many miracles of healing; and was so much liked by the
people, that when he and his companions left in another ship to
go to Italy, they quite loaded them with presents. The voyage
was safely accomplished, and then a short journey by land
brought Paul to Rome. There he was kept a prisoner; staying,
however, in his own hired house, watched by a soldier, for two
years, having numerous opportunities of preaching the gospel. He
was set free after appearing before the emperor, and made
journeys to tell men about Jesus. At last, however, he was made
prisoner in Rome again, brought before Nero a second time, and
condemned to die. And one day they took him from his dungeon out
through the city gates, and an executioner beheaded him. His
soul went to Jesus, whom he had so loved and served. He had
fought a good fight; he had finished his course; he had kept the
faith; and he was now called home to receive his crown.
QUESTIONS FROM THE BIBLE STORY.
1. From what harbour did a merchant-ship once sail to be caught
in a storm which in the end became calm in a moment?
2. Where do we read of wind sweeping down upon an inland sea,
from the hills round about it, and raising the water into great
waves that nearly sunk a boat?
3. In what psalm have we a description of a storm at sea, with
the rolling waves and staggering sailors?
4. When was there a great famine which a prophet foretold would
be followed in a day by great plenty?
5. Was this the only time that Paul suffered ship-wreck?
6. What king of Judah was it that sent ships to sea to bring
gold from Ophir, but they never reached the place?
7. Where is it said that God blew with his winds, and many
persons perished in the waters of the sea?
8. Who was it that was carried from sea to shore by a strong
9. What special miracle do we read of as performed by Paul while
he was staying in Malta?
10. What promise of Christ was literally fulfilled by the
incident of Paul’s being bitten by the serpent, without any harm
ANSWERS to the foregoing may be found by consulting the
following chapters. -- Jonah i.; Matt. viii.; Ps. cvii.; 2 Kings
vii.; 2 Cor. xi.; 1 Kings xxii.; Ex. xv.; Jonah ii.; Acts
xxviii.; Mark xvi.
O LORD, Thou hast made heaven and earth, and sea, and all that
is in them. Thou art the Lord of winds and waves, sending forth
storms and hushing them to calm again according to Thy will.
Thou seest at the very moment all the ships that are at sea, and
all the dangers to which any of them may be exposed. O God,
bless all sailors that brave the perils of the deep. Teach them
to see Thee in the wondrous things they meet with. In storms may
they trust Thee, and pray to Thee, and do Thou graciously hear
them, and preserve their lives. O God, we pray that wherever
ship-wrecked persons may be cast, they may receive kindness and
help. May we be preserved from the dangers which encompass us on
land, and ever feel truly thankful for the fatherly care with
which Thou watchest over us day by day. Amid all perils may we
seek to Thee for safety; under all trials may we find in Thee
help and comfort. Under the covert of Thy wings do Thou hide us,
so shall we ever be in security and peace. May we, who, wherever
we live, are like people on a voyage, be all brought safely at
last into the harbour of Thy love in heaven. This we ask in the
name of our Lord Jesus, whose voice once calmed a storm, whose
steps were once on the billowy waters, and whose word the winds
and seas still obey. To Him be glory for ever. Amen.
THE EVENING SERVICE
FATHER of mercies, let our prayer come up before Thee as
incense, and the lifting up of our hands as the evening
sacrifice. Thou knowest our wants; give, O Lord, grace and
glory, and withhold no good thing from us: for this our prayer
we present in the name of Him whom Thou hearest always. Amen.
HYMN, or Psalm xxiii.
O GOD, unseen yet ever near,
Thy presence may we feel;
And, thus inspired with holy fear,
Before thine altar kneel.
Here may thy faithful people know
The blessings of thy love,
The streams that through the desert flow,
The manna from above.
We come, obedient to thy word,
To feast on heavenly food;
Our meat, the body of the Lord,
Our drink, his precious blood.
Thus may we all thy words obey,
For we, O God, are thine;
And go rejoicing on our way,
Renewed with strength divine.
JOHN XIX. 31-42.
THE Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, on the
sabbath-day (for that sabbath-day was an high day), besought
Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be
taken away. 32. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of
the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. 33.
But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already,
they brake not his legs: 34. But one of the soldiers with a
spear pierced his side, and forthwith came thereout blood and
water. 35. And he that saw it bear record, and his record is
true; and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
36. For these things were done, that the scripture should be
fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. 37. And again
another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they
pierced. 38. And after this, Joseph of Arimethea (being a
disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews), besought
Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate
gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
39. And there came also Nicodemus (which at the first came to
Jesus by night), and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about
an hundred pound weight. 40. Then took they the body of Jesus,
and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of
the Jews is to bury. 41. Now in the place where he was crucified
there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein
was never man yet laid. 42. There laid they Jesus therefore,
because of the Jews’ preparation-day; for the sepulchre was nigh
I CORINTHIANS XV. 1-20
MOREOVER, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I
preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye
stand; 2. By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what
I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain: 3. For I
delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how
that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4.
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day
according to the scriptures; 5. And that he was seen of Cephas,
then of the twelve: 6. After that he was seen of above five
hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto
this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7. After that he was
seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8. And last of all he
was seen of me also, as one born out of due time. 9. For I am
the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an
apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10. But by the
grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed
upon me was not in vain: but I laboured more abundantly than
they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11.
Therefore, whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye
O GOD, humbly and reverently we again come into Thy presence,
beseeching Thee to bless us, and we shall be blessed. Give us a
firm and stable faith in Him who is the way unto the Father. May
we trust him with all our confidence, and love Him with all our
hearts; and seeing that he hath bought us so that we are not our
own, may we regard all our time below as too short to show our
gratitude by a conversation becoming the gospel. Amid all our
goings out and in, may we ever remember that we are strangers
and pilgrims here, and so be looking and waiting for a better,
even a heavenly country. May we be found upon our watchtower
until our Master comes; and seeing that we know not whether He
shall come at evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the
morning, may we so watch and pray, that whensoever he cometh He
may not find us sleeping.
O God, who knowest our infirmities, we beseech Thee to grant us
such a portion of the good things of this life as may be best
fitted to prepare our immortal souls for heaven. We ask of Thee
neither poverty nor riches, but a new heart and a right spirit.
Suffer us not to be elated to pride by prosperity, nor cast down
to despair by adversity. Keep every one of us from the shame of
the ungodly and the doom of the scorner, and the peril of
unrepented sin, and from all that defileth and maketh a lie.
Dispose us unto humility, faith, and fervency; unto purity of
motive and singleness of purpose; unto charity and
brotherly-kindness and deeds of love to the brethren for
Christ’s sake; yea, whatsoever things are pure and honest and
lovely and of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there
be any praise, let us think on these things.
May the services of the sabbath be abundantly blessed unto us,
and unto all who have been engaged in them. May those who are
weakened by doubt do Thy will, and so learn that Christ’s
doctrine is of God. Confirm in the truth all those who are
halting between two opinions; and enable all Thy people to show
by their holy example that, though they are in the world, they
are not of it. Extend the kingdom of Thy Son, until from the
rising of the sun to the going down thereof Thy name shall be
great among the Gentiles. Unite in the fellowship of charity and
good works all branches of Thy church in our land. Weaken the
influence of those which hinder the progress of Thy cause, and
greatly prosper those whose prosperity causeth Thy kingdom to
come. May all iniquity, as ashamed, hide its head, and truth and
righteousness and peace prevail to the uttermost ends of the
And now, O God, we commend all who are this house, and all our
dear friends and kindred, unto Thy holy and merciful care.
Through the night defend us from all danger, and after a
peaceful and refreshing sleep, grant that we may awake in the
morning prepared for all Thou hast prepared for us. These our
humble prayers we beseech Thee to hear, for Christ’s sake, unto
whom be glory for ever. Amen.
MORNING AND EVENING MEDITATIONS.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good
understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise
endureth for ever.
Then one of them, a lawyer, asked, tempting him and saying,
Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all
thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Ps. cxi. 10. Matt. xxii. 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40.
I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in
faithfulness hast afflicted me.
Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort,
according to thy word unto thy servant.
Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy
law is my delight.
My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.
Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?
For I am become like a bottle in the smoke: yet do I not forget
Quicken me after thy loving-kindness; so shall I keep the
testimony of thy mouth.
Ps. cxix. 75, 76, 77, 81, 82, 83, 88.
Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I
will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord.
And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and
shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee; and
thou shalt know that the Lord of the hosts hath sent me unto
And the Lord shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land,
and shall choose Jerusalem again.
Be silent O all flesh, before the Lord, for he is raised up out
of his holy habitation.
Zech. ii. 10, 11, 12, 13.
Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the
wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.
And I will give her the vineyards from thence, and the valley of
Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the
days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the
land of Egypt.
And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt
call me Ishi, and thou shalt call me no more Baali.
And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth
thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgement, and in
loving-kindness, and in mercies.
Hos. ii. 14, 15, 16, 19.
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was
given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded
or the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God; and they lived
and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and
hell delivered up the dead which were in them; and they were
judged every man according to their works.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the
Rev. xx. 4, 13, 14.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from
God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;
Having the glory of God; and her light was like unto a stone
most precious, even like a jasper-stone, clear as crystal.
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to
shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb
is the light thereof.
And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light
of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and
honour into it.
Rev. xxi. 2, 11, 23, 24.
The soul that sinneth it shall die. The son shall not bear the
iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the
iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be
upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that
he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he
shall save his soul alive.
Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his
transgressions which he hath committed, he shall surely live, he
shall not die.
O house of Israel, are not my ways equal?
Ezek. xviii. 20, 27, 28, 29.
But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and
committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations
that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness
that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that
he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them
shall he die.
When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and
committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he
hath done shall he die.
Ezek. xviii. 24, 26.
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth;
fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection,
evil-concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through
the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even
as he is pure.
Adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
Col. iii 5. Rom. viii. 13. 1 John iii. 3. Tit. ii. 10.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did
beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye
reconciled to God.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we
might be made the righteousness of God in him.
If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for
the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part
he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
2 Cor v. 20, 21. 1 Pet. iv. 14.
Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the
time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious
stones, wood, hay, stubble:
Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall
declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire
shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
If any man’s work abide which he hath built there-upon, he shall
receive a reward.
1 Tim. vi. 19. 1 Cor. iii. 11, 12, 13, 14.
Fear not; for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the
east, and gather thee from the west.
I, even I, am he that comforteth you.
Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and
your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently
unto me, and eat that which is good, and let your soul delight
itself in fatness.
Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall
live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the
sure mercies of David.
And the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose
Isa. xliii. 5. Isa. li. 12. Isa. lv. 2, 3. Zech. i. 17.
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