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Parish Papers
By Norman MacLeod, D.D. (1863)

Memoir of Norman MacLeod, D.D.
Minister of Barony Parish, Glasgow; one of Her Majesty's Chaplains; Dean of The Chapel Royal; Dean of The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of The Thistle.

[You might like to read the above book to learn more about him]

As Their Pastor.



1. What is Christianity?
2. Who was Jesus Christ?
3. What can we Believe if we do not thus Believe in Jesus?
4. What if Christianity is not True?

1. The Judge
2. Who are to be Judged?
3. "The Books shall be Opened,"
4. Results of Judgment

1. Our Physical Life in Heaven
2. Our Intellectual Life
3. Our Devotional Life
4. Our Social Life
6. Our Active Life





1. Their Need
2. Objections to Revivals






Advices on Entering a New Year





This question refers to a matter of fact. I do not ask whether the
Christian religion is true, but only, What is the Christian religion?
What is that religion which has existed for eighteen centuries; which
is professed by Christendom; and which has been more precious than
life itself to millions who have died in its faith, and is so still to
millions who possess it as their peace and joy?

But how are we to obtain a satisfactory reply to this question? Are
we to examine the opinions of all the various "churches," "sects," or
"bodies," professing Christianity, in order to determine what it is
they profess? If we adopted such a process of investigation as this,
I believe we would reach, by a longer road, the very same point which
may be reached by a shorter and more satisfactory process.

For I suppose it will be admitted that the Christian religion is what
Jesus Christ and His apostles taught, and that we may rely upon the
information conveyed to us in the New Testament as to the sum and
substance of that teaching.

I do not even insist, as essential to my argument, upon the
inspiration of Scripture, according to any theory whatever of that
doctrine; but assume only that we have in the New Testament a true
account of the teaching of Jesus Christ and His apostles, and that
we are able, therefore, to ascertain from its pages what their
Christianity was as an historical fact, with as much certainty,
surely, as we can learn from the Koran what Mohammedanism was as
taught by Mohammed, or from any work of philosophy what were the
opinions of its author.

Now, if we read the New Testament with ordinary attention, we must,
I think, be struck by one feature which is repeated in almost every
page, and is manifestly the all-pervading spirit and life of its
teaching,--that is, the peculiar place which Christ occupies in
relation to all other persons mentioned there. This person, Jesus
Christ, whoever He was, stands out prominently before every other
teacher of Christian truth. The apostles speak of Him, point to
Him, plead for Him, labour for Him. He is not the greatest Teacher
merely among themselves, but the only Teacher, and they but His
scholars, who glory in having nothing of their own to impart, and in
being ministers, "stewards," only of what they have received from Him
their Master. The subject of all their preaching is this Person--not a
system of morality, or doctrines, or truths, apart from, but embodied
in Him who was the Truth and the Life--Jesus Christ. The text of
all their teaching is, "God forbid that we should know anything among
you save Jesus Christ." In order to see this, take up any epistle, and
mark how often the name of Jesus Christ appears as the ever-present
thought, the centre of every idea.

Again, consider how this Person is inseparably connected with every
motive, every duty, every joy and hope of the Christian as he is
described in the New Testament. Christian love is there, not love
merely in the abstract, (if such is in any case possible,) but love to
Jesus Christ, and to all men because "in Christ" The grand question
proposed is, "Lovest thou ME?" Christian obedience is not obedience
merely to a code of moral precepts, but to Jesus Christ and "His
commandments." Christian faith is not faith in "mysteries," or things
unseen, or truths revealed, though such faith may be Christian, but
its essence is faith in Jesus Christ the living Person; the supreme
command being, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ." The Christian's
hope is "hope in Christ;" his joy, "joy in Christ;" his peace, "peace
in Christ;" his labour, "labour in Christ;" his strength, "strength in
Christ;" his life, "life in Christ;" his death, "death in Christ;" his
immortality, "rising in Christ;" his salvation, "salvation through
Christ;" and his heaven, "to be with Christ!" On the other hand, all
that is evil and disastrous to the soul is summed up in being "without
Christ." To reject Christ, not to believe in Christ, to be enemies of
Christ, to despise Christ, to be ignorant of Christ, to lose Christ,
to be commanded at the last to depart from Christ--these are the
characteristics of the wicked and lost: for "there is no other name
given among men whereby man can be saved than the name of Jesus

You will observe that I am not at present discussing what Christ has
done for us, but what, as a matter of fact, Jesus Christ claimed from
us and from all men, and recognised to be the religion which He came
to establish upon earth. I repeat it, therefore, that whether these
claims were founded on fact or fiction, whether the religion which He
taught was true or false, in accordance with, or opposed to, the will
of God, that nevertheless its sum and substance is supreme love to
Jesus Christ.

Now, if this, or anything even approaching to this, is true, my reader
will, I am sure, acknowledge that it is not possible to separate
Christ from the Christianity of the New Testament. The person and the
"religion" become, in fact, identical--so far at least that both must
be received or rejected. That a code of morals may be extracted from
the New Testament, and Jesus himself, as its centre, be put aside, is
quite possible; or that the character of Jesus may be recognised as
a perfect example of what He taught, a living embodiment of His
"beautiful precepts," is also possible, without recognising His claim
to the supreme love and unlimited obedience of every human being; but
the question still remains, whether this "philosophic" or "rational"
system--this Christianity is really the Christianity taught by
Christ, or by Peter, Paul, and John? I do not argue as to which
"religion," "system," or "Christianity" is the best, but ask only a
question of fact, Which do you candidly believe to be the Christianity
of the New Testament? If you hesitate ere you reply to this question
of historical fact, open again the New Testament, with a manly
resolution to examine it, and obtain information, and ask its
pages, What is Christianity? Read even such passages as the
following:--John x., xiv., and xv.; Acts. first four chapters; the
Epistles to the Ephesians and Philippians--portions of Scripture which
may be read almost in an hour or two. You do not require to master the
whole world of truth which is there revealed, but only to notice the
Sun of that world; and say, is it not faith in Jesus, love to Jesus,
obedience to Jesus as to no one else in the universe except to God

I at once frankly express my earnest conviction that this, if true,
involves the truth of what are recognised to be the other "peculiar"
doctrines or facts of Christianity--such as the divine, as well as
holy and perfect character of the Person so loved;--His atoning work,
as the grandest expression of His love to us, and that which most
of all kindles love in us to Him;--the teaching of the Holy Spirit,
through whom alone we, who are spiritually blind, can so perceive the
spiritual character and glory of Jesus as to admire and love Him;--and
prayer, by which we can hold actual, personal intercourse with, and
thus come to know and love Jesus more and more from experience: these,
I say, and other doctrines appear to me to be involved in the very
idea that Christianity is supreme love to Jesus Christ. But I shall
not consider any of them except one, the first and all-important, the
very pillar and ground of the truth--viz., the divinity of Christ's
Person. Let us therefore inquire--



A more important question cannot be proposed for our consideration!
Who is this, I ask with absorbing interest, whom I am commanded
to honour as I honour the living God? Who is this who claims my
unreserved faith, my unlimited obedience, my devoted love? Who is this
who promises to pardon my sins through faith in His blood; to purify
and perfect my nature through faith in His power? Who is this in whom
I am to abide in life; into whose hands I am to commit my spirit, and
the spirits of all who are dear to me, in the hour of death; whose
voice is to call me forth from the grave when He comes again, and who
is finally to judge me, and to determine my eternal condition?

That Jesus Christ does make those claims upon us, and those promises
to us, is certain; and it is equally certain that they have been, and
are, joyfully acquiesced in by the Christian Church. The question,
then, which I have proposed for your consideration, is confessedly one
of equal importance with the truth of Christianity. We cannot, with
sincerity and intelligence, profess a willingness to examine into the
nature of the Christian religion, much less profess faith in it, and
yet reject the consideration of the question regarding the Person of
Jesus Christ as being unimportant or unnecessary.

But before proceeding further in this inquiry, let me remind you, and
be myself reminded, of the moral importance of truthfulness. I do
not allude to the truthfulness which despises all hypocrisy in word,
and seeks to maintain with sacred care an exact harmony between what
is believed in the heart, and confessed with the lip; or which boasts,
perhaps, of the honesty that never conceals a creed, however offensive
its doctrines may be to others. Let us not undervalue this kind of
honesty when real. But, alas! how often is it only apparent, while
the real feeling is selfish vanity craving notoriety, or moral
indifference which is insensible to the pain of either the existence
or confession of unbelief. And thus where that truthfulness of
character exists, which cannot give to others a false impression
of what is really believed, how often is there wanting the kind of
truthfulness, so much rarer and more difficult to attain, so much
nobler and more important to possess, which seeks to harmonise not
only profession with belief, but belief with truth itself. For it is
in the innermost sanctuary of the spirit, into which no human eye
can penetrate, and where truth, as a holy messenger sent from God,
presents herself, seeking for admission to dwell there, and take
possession of the soul's temple for ever,--it is there that the
reality of a man's truthfulness, sincerity, and honesty must be tried
and decided upon by the all-seeing Judge, who can alone search the
heart. How do we deal there with what claims to be truth? With what
spirit do we listen to her voice? With what care do we examine her
credentials? These are questions settled in the secret of our own
personal experience; and just as the process of investigation is
conducted before the eye of conscience, can it be determined whether
or not we are really honest. But as sure as there is in us a genuine
truthfulness of spirit, it will, by a divine instinct, recognise truth
when revealed. Like a string rightly tuned by God, the truthful soul
will strike an harmonious chord with the note of truth wherever it
sounds. The "single" eye will perceive the light from whatever quarter
it shines. When, therefore, I ask my readers to consider, with
sincerity and honesty, the teaching of the Scriptures regarding the
Person of Jesus Christ, I crave from them that kind of honesty which
is evidenced by the whole tone and spirit with which they deal with
what professes to come from God, and what, therefore, claims their
faith because it is true, and their love because it is good.

I. Consider this question in the light of His own teaching. By this
I mean, read the Gospels, and from all Jesus said regarding Himself,
say what impression did He intend to convey as to His own person.
Remember I am not asserting the truth of His claims, but proposing
merely to inquire into what His claims as a matter of fact were, in so
far as we may fairly gather these from His own words. Nor do I dispute
the possibility of giving a different meaning to His words, for I
know, and most gladly acquiesce in the righteousness of the fact, that
revelation is not demonstration, which necessarily overcomes even
the truth-hater, but such evidence as by its nature may satisfy the
truth-seeker. The criticism which is essential for our inquiry is that
which will receive, and not give a meaning. With such a principle,
let the readers peruse any one Gospel--especially the Gospel of St
John--and in the presence of God say, Was it the intention of Jesus
himself to teach that He was human only, or that He was divine also?

Now, to illustrate what I mean, and to aid the reader to follow out
this first branch of Scripture evidence for himself, let us look, for
example, at the Sermon on the Mount. This wonderful portion of our
Lord's teaching is most frequently referred to by those who profess
to admire the precepts of the gospel, but not its "doctrines," and to
accept of Jesus as a teacher of morality, though rejecting Himself as
divine. Yet is it possible to hear that sermon even without perceiving
a consciousness on the part of the speaker of an authority, a power,
a dignity, which, belonged to no mere creature? This is not so much
brought forward in distinct doctrinal statements, but is assumed
by Him, as that which gave to fact and doctrine all the additional
authority which could be afforded by the lips of one who had come from
God. Consider such words, for instance, as the following:--"Not every
one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of
heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in
thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done
many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew
you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Marvellous words indeed!
Who is this, we naturally ask after hearing them, who at the general
judgment is to be addressed by "many?" How should He be thought of
at all amidst the awful solemnities of that day, and be singled out
and appealed to as one of such authority and power? Who is this that
is addressed as "Lord, Lord?" What "name" is this in which many
prophesied, and by which many were able to cast out devils, and to do
marvellous works? Who is this that utters the sentence, "Depart from
me?" and who is He that such a sentence should be an object of
dread, yea, the very climax of human woe? He who uttered these words
was a poor man indeed, a Jewish artisan, at that moment seated on a
grassy hill surrounded by many as poor and unknown as Himself! But did
He wish to give the impression that He was nothing more? "The
people were astonished at His doctrine, for He taught as one having
authority, and not as the scribes." No wonder! For what scribe--what
teacher--what apostle--what mere man who ever lived had authority to
utter such words as those we have just read! (Read also in connexion
with this, Matt. xxv. 31-46.)

Almost every chapter in the Gospels contains similar assumptions,
on the part of Jesus, of a dignity which was divine. Think of the
following assertions from the Gospel of John, every portion of which
is irradiated by the glory of His person:--"The Father loveth the Son,
and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the
Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall
not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." "For as the
Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son
quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath
committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the
Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son
honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say
unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me,
hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is
passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour
is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son
of God; and they that hear shall live." "Philip saith unto him, Lord,
shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I
been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he
that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then,
Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and
the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of
myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works."
"Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you
into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he
shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it
unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine; therefore said
I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you." "These
words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father,
the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give
eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life
eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus
Christ, whom thou hast sent."

Again I ask, What impression regarding His own dignity were such words
as these intended to convey Consider them, and give an answer to God.

2. Consider Christ's Person as it was seen by His enemies and
friends. Now, I bid you observe how both received from His words the
very impression which I assume He intended to convey by them.

His enemies did so, and alleged that He claimed to be Divine in the
strictest sense of that word; accordingly they attempted to stone
Him, and in the end put Him to death on the very ground that He was
a blasphemer. "Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty
years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily,
verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM." "I and my Father
are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus
answered them. Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for
which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying,
For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy; and because
that thou, being a man, makest thyself God." "If I do not the works
of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me,
believe the works; that ye may know and believe that the Father is
in me, and I in him. Therefore they sought again to take him: but he
escaped out of their hand." "The Jews answered him, We have a law,
and by our law he ought to die,[A] because he made himself the Son of
God." "And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou
nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held
his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure
thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ,
the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless,
I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the
right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high
priest rent his clothes, saying. He hath spoken blasphemy; what
further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his
blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of
death. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others
smote him with the palms of their hands."

[Footnote A: "And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall
surely be put, to death, and all the congregation shall certainly
stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when
he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death."--LEV.
xxiv. 16.]

Nor did the friends of Jesus endeavour to undeceive His accusers.
They did not say, "You have misunderstood His meaning! He is not
guilty of such blasphemy! He is a man like us, and does not claim to
be one with God, as you understand Him to do." Instead of this, they
too recognised His claims as divine, and worshipped, loved, served,
and preached Him accordingly. I will return to this part of the
subject afterwards. I remind only the reader of it in passing.

But before the force of such teaching as this of our Lord's can in any
degree be appreciated, two things should be borne in mind: one is, the
previous training of the Jewish nation with reference to the being and
character of God; and the other is, the moral character of Jesus.

As to the first of those points, remember only how, from the very
beginning, God had revealed Himself--that men might know the One
living and true God; and worship and serve Him alone with heart, soul,
and strength. This was the lesson of all lessons. This was the mighty
theme of all God's teaching and training of His people, from Adam to
Christ, by patriarchs, kings, and prophets; by national blessings and
national judgments; by captivities and restorations. On the other
hand, the sin of all sins was idolatry; rot the bowing down to stocks
or stones merely, but the giving, in any degree, that glory to another
which belonged exclusively to the One living and true God. Had not
their whole history been determined by their adherence to God, or
their falling away to idolatry? Enter, then, into the Jewish mind with
reference to this training, think how hallowed God's name was above
every other name--how enshrined it was in the very holy of holies of
the national faith, and how it had become so only after a discipline
of much suffering, prolonged through many centuries, until at last
idolatry had been banished on the return from Babylon;--think! of this
while you read those utterances I have quoted of a Jew to Jews. Do you
wonder that they called Him a blasphemer? for so, indeed, He certainly
was unless He was Divine.

But could such a one have been a blasphemer? Was it morally possible
that He could have uttered what He did about Himself, unless it was
true? To establish His high claims, it might be sufficient to appeal
to His miracles, and assert that no such works of power and love could
have been done but by one who verily had God with him; as He himself
said,--"Believe me for the very works' sake. If I do not the works of
my Father, believe me not." Or I might appeal to the witness God gave
to His Son at His baptism, on the Mount of Transfiguration, and, above
all, when He raised Him from the dead, and thereby declared "Him to be
the Son of God with power." But, putting aside all this evidence, I
ask you to contemplate the moral character of Jesus, and say, Is
it not as impossible that such a person could have spoken untruly or
blasphemously regarding God, as that God himself can be aught else
than true and holy? Do not let us evade this awful question of
Christ's character--He was an impostor unless he was Divine! Either
Christ never uttered those things regarding Himself which are here
recorded, and so the history which we have assumed as true is false
in fact; or, having uttered them, He spoke falsehood, and was a
blasphemer, or spoke the truth, and was Divine. To deny the Divinity
of His Person is to deny the truth of His character.

If any man replies that those sayings of Christ may be interpreted
differently, then I ask, What impression did Christ intend to give?
If He was a mere creature, how could He have used language to which it
was possible to give such an interpretation as would imply Divinity?
Only imagine any other man on earth daring so to speak that his
language could, with difficulty be interpreted as not necessarily
implying his assumption of Divine attributes! But Jesus certainly did
so speak, and did give this impression to friend and foe; and He
has left the same impression, in the form of a living faith, more
indelibly on the mind of the Church than if it were engraven with a
pen of iron on the rock for ever. If this impression is blasphemy. He
himself, and none else, is to blame for having given it to the world.

3. Consider Christ's Person as it was seen by the apostles. What did
they believe regarding Him? Yea or nay, did they recognise Him as

While quoting from their writings, I beg my readers to keep in mind
the previous education of these remarkable men, in what may be termed
the grand fundamental principle of the Mosaic legislation,--viz., the
worship of the one living and true God.

But, remembering this, let us hear some of the things said by the
apostles about Jesus of Nazareth.

We shall begin with Paul. His education was, if I may so speak,
intensely Jewish. He was "a Hebrew of the Hebrews." "After the
strictest sect of his religion, he lived a Pharisee." So devoted was
he to "the religion of his fathers," so entirely one in his views of
Christianity with the priesthood and men of authority, both civil and
ecclesiastical, in Judea, that he thus describes his feelings with
reference to Jesus:--

"I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary
to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem:
and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received
authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death,
I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every
synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and, being exceedingly mad
against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities," (Acts xxvi.

Paul had never seen Jesus while He lived on earth; yet suddenly, and
to the utter astonishment of friends and foes, he becomes a believer
in His name, and ever after, for thirty years, until his death,
preaches that name as the only one given whereby men can be saved.
Now, what did Paul say of the dignity of this Person? A full reply to
this question can be given only by reading his epistles, and there
seeing how saturated they are with the Divine Presence of Jesus in
every thought, every doctrine, every command, and every hope; and how
His name occupies a place which that of no mere creature could occupy
without manifest blasphemy; and how his own past, present, and future
were seen by him in the light of Christ, without whom he would have
been most miserable. But a very few passages, out of many, may be
selected from two or three of his shortest letters, to illustrate his
teaching. In writing to the Philippians, he says:--

"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal
with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the
form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being
found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient
unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath
highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven,
and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue
should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
Father," (Phil. ii. 6-11.)

To the Colossians he writes:--

"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be
partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath,
delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into
the kingdom of his dear Son; in whom we have redemption through his
blood, even the forgiveness of sins: who is the image of the invisible
God, the first-born of every creature: for by him were all things
created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and
invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities,
or powers; all things were created by him, and for him: and he is
before all things, and by him all things consist: and he is the head
of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the first-born from
the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence: for it
pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell: and (having
made peace through the blood of his cross) by him to reconcile all
things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth,
or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated, and
enemies in your minds by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy, and
unblameable, and unreproveable in his sight," (Col. i. 12-22.)

Once more, when addressing Hebrews, he says:--

"God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past
unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto
us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom
also he made the worlds; who, being the brightness of his glory, and
the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word
of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the
right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the
angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than
they," (Heb. i. 1-4.)

Could Paul, I ask, have written in such language as this, or anything
approaching to this, unless he believed Christ to have been divine,
in the fullest sense of that word? But believing this with all his
heart, his whole life and preaching were consistent with such a
belief. He preached Jesus as the Person whom all men were to love and
obey as God, confide and rejoice in as in God, and to whom they were
to commit themselves, both soul and body, for time and for eternity,
as to God. What he wished others to do, he himself did. For what was
the source and strength of his life? "The life I live in the flesh, I
live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for
me." "I live; yet not I, Christ lives in me." "I can do all things
through Christ that strengtheneth me." What was the one object of his
holy ambition? "That I may win Christ." What was his heaven? "To be
with Christ." And after thirty years passed in His service, and after
having endured such sufferings as never fell to the lot of one man, so
far from uttering the language of disappointment or regret, as of one
whose early convictions had not stood the test of experience, but had
failed to sustain him when most needed, he thus writes, with calm
confidence and perfect peace, in his old age, and from a prison, to
his dear friend and follower Timothy:--

"For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not
ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is
able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."
"Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ
Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses,
the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach
others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of
Jesus Christ." "But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do
the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am
now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I
have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the
faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,
which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and
not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." "At
my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray
God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord
stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be
fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered
out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every
evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom
be glory for ever and ever. Amen," (2 Tim. i. 12, ii. 1-3, iv. 5-8,

Was that man an idolater and blasphemer,--the dupe of his own
fancy,--deceived in his faith and hopes,--or was he the ignorant
deceiver of others?

Moreover, let it be remembered that with this mighty truth, as with a
hammer, Paul went forth to destroy the idolatries of the world, and
gave them such blows, that in Europe they finally tottered and fell.
But did he then only substitute one idolatry for another?--did he
preach to Greece and Rome love and obedience to a man, a better man,
possibly, than any of the persons whom they worshipped, but still a
mere creature like themselves? Hear Paul's memorable and glorious
words to the Athenians, and believe this if you can;--

"Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars-hill, and said, Ye men of
Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For
as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this
inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship,
him declare I unto you. God, that made the world, and all things
therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in
temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as
though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath,
and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to
dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times
before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should
seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him,
though he be not far from every one of us: for in him we live, and
move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said,
For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring
of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or
silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. And the times of
this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to
repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge
the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof
he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from
the dead," (Acts xvii. 22-31.)

If from Paul we turn to the other apostles, we shall recognise in them
the same convictions regarding the person of Jesus. Let us hear, for
example, some of the declarations of the apostle John:--

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the
Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things
were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was
made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the
light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There
was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a
witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might
believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that
Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh
into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by
him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own
received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power
to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of
the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt
among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten
of the Father,) full of grace and truth," (John i. 1-14.)

"But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the
Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through
his name," (John xx. 31.)

"And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an
understanding, that we may know him that is true; and we are in him
that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and
eternal life," (1 John v. 20.)

"Jesus Christ, who is the faithful Witness, and the first-begotten
of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that
loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made
us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and
dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and
every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all
kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. I am
Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which
is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." "I was in the
Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a
trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last." "And I
turned to see the voice that spake with me. And, being turned, I saw
seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks
one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot,
and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs
were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame
of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a
furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his
right hand seven stars; and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged
sword; and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And
when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand
upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am
he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore,
Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death," (Rev. i. 5-8, 10,

Could John have written such things of a mere man? Could a pious Jew
have done so without conscious blasphemy? It is in vain to reply that
I have quoted much of this from a vision. But would he have dared to
record such a vision, unless he believed Jesus to have been Divine?

I am compelled, therefore, to admit that the apostles believed Jesus
of Nazareth to have been a Divine Person. I am not asserting, at
present, that what they believed was true in fact, but only that they
in fact believed this to be true.

And here I might inquire, whether there was anything in their personal
knowledge of Christ which could have suggested such a thought to those
men. We have seen that the grand lesson of their education as Jews
was, "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shalt
love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, and
with all thy might." Whatever other faith or worship did not harmonise
with this was deadly idolatry. It is true that, with the exception of
Paul, all the apostles had seen Jesus in the flesh, and John specially
pleads for His humanity, and presses it home with every form of
expression. "That," says he, "which we have heard, which we have seen
with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled,
of the Word of life." But if we lay aside all supernatural and
miraculous evidences of our Lord's person, what was there in His life
which could have produced this impression, or awakened this strange
conviction of His divinity? Not surely His lowly birth, nor the long
years in which He was known only as the carpenter's son; not the
sorrow and grief with which He was familiar, or the real though
sinless infirmities to which He was subject; not the reception He met
with from His countrymen, or the death by which His short earthly
career was ended! What was there in an earthly life so intensely
human, to convince such true, thoughtful, godly men as the apostles
that this man was one with the Holy One of Israel, the Almighty
Creator of the heavens and the earth? Yet such was the conviction
of John, who leant upon His bosom at the Last Supper, watched Him in
Gethsemane, beheld Him in the judgment-hall, and stood by Him at the
cross! Such was the faith of Paul also who never saw Him in the
flesh, or ever heard His voice while He tabernacled among men.
If, however, the alleged supernatural facts in the Bible are
true,--including the gift of the Spirit who was to "glorify"
Jesus,--we can easily account for those convictions, but not

And let me here notice in passing, how beautifully harmonious the
facts of this Person's life were as a man, yet also as "Emmanuel, God
with us!" These, when "called to remembrance," were such as must have
confirmed and established the faith of the apostles. If there were
evidences of a humility belonging to Him as the Son of man, there were
equal evidences of a dignity which belonged to Him as the Son of God.
He was born of the Virgin Mary, yet by Divine power. "The Holy Ghost,"
said the angel Gabriel to His mother, "shall come upon thee, and the
power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy
thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." He
was brought forth in a stable, and laid in a manger, but wise men from
the East, guided by a star, came to worship Him, and to present Him
with kingly offerings, while the hosts of heaven announced His birth
with songs of rejoicing. He was baptized of John, yet a voice from
heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
During His life, while He submitted to every trial and temptation to
which, humanity was liable, "that in all things He might be like His
brethren," yet never was evidence wanting of a dignity and glory which
were divine. He was hungry, but fed thousands; wearied and asleep
amidst the storm, but He rebuked the winds and waves, so that there
was a great calm; He was tempted of the devil for forty days, but
Satan did homage to His dignity, by offering Him as a bribe the
kingdoms of the world, while His grandeur was revealed in the
command, "Get thee behind me, Satan." He was so poor that pious women
ministered to Him of their substance, and so sorrowful that He often
wept; yet He dried the tears of thousands, healed all who came to Him
of every disease, and by a word of power raised the dead, from their
bed, from their bier, and even when corruption had begun to do its
loathsome work. He had His days of darkness, when He could say, "Now
is my soul troubled;" yet a voice from heaven even then witnessed to
His glory. He washed the feet of His disciples, yet it was at the very
moment when, "knowing that God had given all things into his hands,
that he came from God, and went to God." He died and was buried,
but though, during all the hours which marked that saddest of all
tragedies, there were signs of human woe and weakness, as if "Himself
He could not save," yet what signs of dignity and superhuman majesty!
For He was addressed on the cross as a King by a dying criminal, and
as a King He promised to save him; while the darkened sky, the
rending rocks, and all the august circumstances which attended His
humiliation, proclaimed, with the centurion, "Truly this was the Son
of God!" He lay in the grave, and His body received the tears and
affectionate ministrations of attached friends; but an angel descended
and rolled away the stone; the Roman guard became as dead men; "the
Lord was risen indeed!" and He appeared to His disciples, and so
overcame the unbelief of Thomas by His very presence, bearing the
marks of His human sufferings, that the doubter fell down and
"worshipped Him," saying, "My Lord, and my God!" Jesus remained on
earth for forty days, and we still "behold the man." He conversed
familiarly with His apostles, ate and drank with them, and instructed
them in the things pertaining to His kingdom: but He ascended to
heaven before their eyes, while angels announced His second coming;
and soon the descent of the Holy Ghost, with the great ingathering to
the Church which followed, testified to the truth of the apostolic
preaching, that Jesus was the Son of God, and that all power was
given to Him in heaven and on earth!

Now, in all this eventful history, there was that very combination
of earth and heaven, of the human and superhuman, which received an
interpretation from the fact only of Christ's divine and human nature,
and which, along with Christ's own words, and the teaching of His
Spirit, made the apostles accept the doctrine with profound conviction
and deep joy; although, without some such overwhelming evidence, the
very thought must have been to them a blasphemous idolatry. They
believed, because they had sufficient grounds, from facts, for their
belief. We cannot, therefore, think that those who rejected the claims
of Jesus, and executed Him as a blasphemer, were right, and that the
apostles, who acknowledged Him as one with God, were wrong, or that
their faith will ever be put to shame!

We have thus considered the Person of Jesus in the light of His own
teaching, as that too was understood at the time, both by enemies
and friends, and also in the light of the faith and teaching of His

4. But there is yet another aspect in which we may view this
question--viz., the faith and views of the Christian Church.

As to the faith of the Church, using that word as expressing its
creed, it is historically certain that since the days of the
apostles till the present time, this doctrine has formed a sine
qua non of the creed of the whole Church, whether called Popish,
Protestant, Greek, Armenian, Nestorian, &c.--of every branch, in
short, with the exception of the Unitarians. Amidst all differences,
the millions of professing Christians have agreed from age to age in
this article. No theological strifes or angry passions, no dissents or
reformations, have disturbed this truth as the foundation-stone of the
Temple. Now, if Christ is not a divine person, it follows that the
Christian Church is one huge institution of idolatry. We do not,
observe, attempt as Christians to conceal our faith in Christ's
divinity, or to modify it so as to escape, if possible, such an
imputation. We necessarily accept this conclusion, unless our faith
is grounded on fact. We boldly declare that we believe in Jesus of
Nazareth; love Him, trust Him, obey Him, as we do God Almighty, and
with the same degree of faith and reverence. In the one name of the
Father, Son, and Spirit, we have been baptized, and that name we
honour as One, ascribing equal glory to each Person in the Godhead.
Such a creed as this may startle some and offend others, but it is
nevertheless the creed which is and has been the faith of universal
Christendom, which millions with ourselves believe unhesitatingly, and
confess as boldly as they do their faith in the being of God. Now what
we assert is, that if Jesus was a mere man, or was not "God manifest
in the flesh," we and all Christians so believing are idolaters in
the strictest sense of that word. Our churches are idol temples where
a dead man is worshipped; our ministers idol priests, who ever preach
and commemorate this man, pray to him, sing praises to him, and
consecrate generation after generation to his service; our people
commit their souls and bodies to the keeping of this man for time and
eternity, and all their hopes are inseparably connected with him as
their Lord;--while amidst this universal defection of the human race,
this wide-spread idolatry which has taken possession of the most
cultivated and intellectual nations, and threatens to overrun the
world and absorb all other idolatries into itself, there appears but
a trifling number who maintain the pure light of theism, and preserve
the truth of God unsullied for the coming, and it is to be hoped,
therefore, for better, ages of the world. And who are these? Jews,
Deists, and Unitarians. On these depend the world's hopes of its ever
becoming regenerated by a theology of truth regarding God. Now, does
it seem probable, we ask, under the government of God, that these have
discovered the truth on such a fundamental fact in religion, while
universal Christendom for eighteen centuries has believed a lie?--and
such a lie! As a question of probability, what weight can we attach to
this testimony, balanced not against numbers merely, but numbers along
with the intellect, culture, and character of those who have believed
in, derived their soul's good from, and perilled their soul's
existence upon, Christ's divinity?[A]

[Footnote A: Mr Greg in his Essays, which at first appeared in the
Edinburgh Review, admits this alternative. His language is, "To
a philosophic inquirer there will appeal little doubt that
Trinitarianism and idolatry--the worship of Christ as God, the
worship of saints, the worship of the golden calf, have one common
origin, the weakness of human imagination and the unspirituality of
human intellect."--Vol. i., p. 61. Mr Greg also says, in a note to
the above--"To accept the orthodox view of the Christian Revelation,"
(i.e., Christ's divinity,) "is to our apprehension to deny the divine
origin of the Jewish religion." But was not "the view" of Jesus
himself and His apostles the "orthodox" one? And did they deny the
divine origin of the Jewish religion? Who is right--Mr Greg or----?]

Consider also, as I have suggested, the effect produced by such a
faith when real upon the religious ideas regarding God of all who
really hold it. On the supposition, for example, that the Christian's
faith in Jesus is vain--that he is worshipping, loving, serving a
creature, or a mere creation of his own mind, instead of the only
living and true God,--how can we account for the actual results of a
faith so false and blasphemous upon his ideas regarding God?

It is not denied that a vast body of men and women in every age have
had sincere faith in Jesus as God, and loved Him with their whole
soul. Now, what effect has such faith upon their views of God, and
their feelings towards the Supreme Creator and Upholder of all things
whom "pure Theists" profess alone to worship? Has this faith in Jesus
as divine had the effect of producing false impressions of God on the
Christian's heart; of exciting low and degrading views of His being
and attributes, lowering as it were the Majesty of the heavens from
His throne, bringing Him to the level of our every-day humanity, and
presenting Him to the mind and imagination in an aspect which inspires
no reverence? Or has it not had the very opposite effect, and that,
too, just in proportion as the worshipper has apprehended the oneness,
in His divine nature, of the Son with the Father? Has not God, then,
appeared more glorious and majestic than ever; His throne more
elevated above every other throne; His glory more visible in heaven
and earth? Can any Jew, we ask, however devout, appreciate more fully
than a Christian the Old Testament descriptions of the unity and
perfections of Jehovah, or prostrate himself with a more simple,
undivided, and confiding heart before the God of Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob? Can the synagogue sing David's psalms with more truth than the
church? or does Unitarianism withdraw any veil which conceals the
perfections of God as Creator, Ruler, or Father, from the eyes of him
who has intense and undying faith in Jesus as the Eternal Son? Oh!
where on earth can we find more exalted and pure thoughts of the one
living and true God, as revealed in nature and in the Old Testament,
profounder admiration of His character, or deeper reverence for His
will, than among Christians who love and honour the Son even as they
love and honour the Father? But how is this to be accounted for if
they believe a lie? How has an idolatry, a baseless and profane
hero-worship, had this remarkable moral power of producing such true
and spiritual views of God, as all men must admit to be most worthy?
and producing, too, we dare to add, such strong faith and affectionate
reverence towards this God, as exist in no other human bosoms? Is it
possible that the true God can be thus apprehended and loved through
a medium so false as idolatry? On the supposition, however, but on no
other, that Jesus is really one with God, the knowledge and love of
the Son must necessarily lead to this very knowledge and love of the
Father. "He that seeth me, seeth the Father also." "If ye had known
me, ye should have known my Father also." "Ye believe in God, believe
also in me."

5. Consider, again, the Person of Christ, not only in the light of
Christian character generally, but with the addition of Christian
knowledge as to its cause. It will surely be admitted that, to
whatever extent the term Christian has been misapplied as indicating
character, and in however many cases it has been unworthily or only
formally assumed, yet it includes within its widest embrace the best
men and women this earth possesses, or has ever possessed. There is
a certain kind of character which all men whose moral sense is not
blunted recognise as the culminating point and perfection of humanity.
They may not themselves attempt to realise it, or they may deem it
unattainable, but nevertheless the idea of what constitutes a good
or perfect man is no sooner presented to their minds than conscience
accepts it as that which ought to be. Now, it is admitted even by
the atheist that such an idea is embodied in the historical character
of Jesus Christ, and in the life, consequently, of every man just in
proportion as he possesses His Spirit, obeys His precepts, and walks
in His steps. But there are, and have been in every age, persons who
have done this, if not in a perfect, yet in a more perfect degree than
by any others among mankind. Or supposing it were admitted, for the
sake of argument, that, so far as we had the means of judging, there
has occasionally appeared, without faith in Christ, a certain product
of character, apparently as pure, lofty, self-denying, loving, and
devoted to God as any which ever professed to owe its origin to Jesus
Christ; yet, where has there been on earth such a body of living
persons as those Christians who, within the bosom of the universal
Church, during eighteen centuries, have manifested that kind of
character which all men profess to admire and reverence? In vain one
tries to conceive the flowers of moral beauty and glory that have
sprung up within the garden of Christendom! Being rooted in the earth,
they may have been soiled, indeed, by its dust, but they yet expanded
in loveliness to the sky, and sent forth a fragrance to the air,
peculiar to the plants raised by the Great Husbandman. Number, if you
can, the saints of the Christian Church; the young and old, the poor
and rich, who in every age and clime have been truthful, simple,
sincere, patient, forgiving, and compassionate; who have enjoyed an
inward life of peace with God, maintained an outward conduct, and
possessed a reality of abiding love to their Father in heaven and to
their brethren on earth peculiar to themselves. Their lives have been
a blessing to the world, and a happiness to their own hearts;
their deathbed has been freed from the fears of a dark future, and
brightened by the pure prospect of continued life and joy. The
Christian Church, and the Christian Church alone, contains such
characters; and these are the lights of our homes, the salt of the
earth, and the only security of the world's progress.

Now, to what is this great result owing? How is this product of
character, which is affecting the world's history, and gradually
leavening the whole lump of humanity, to be accounted for? What power
has originated it, or by what has it been sustained? Who are more
entitled to give a reply to such questions than Christians themselves?
They alone can know by what motives, they have been actuated, by what
strength supported, and by what hopes animated. Ask them, then, and
what will be their reply? Each and all will but echo the words of
Paul, as expressing the secret of their life: "I live, yet not I,
but Christ liveth in me; and the life I live in the flesh I live
through faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for
me." "The love of Christ constraineth us," "I thank Christ Jesus,
our Lord, who hath enabled me." "The Lord stood with me, and
strengthened me." "The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work,
and preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom, to whom be glory for ever
and ever!" "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth
me." This is the experience of the living Church of Christ, of all
lands, and of all time,--the creed of each genuine believer; of the
early martyr and mediaeval saint; of the pious Protestant and Papist;
of the cultivated Christian philosopher and the half-taught Christian
negro; of the young man who has overcome the wicked one, and of
the old patriarch who departs in peace, because his eyes have seen
salvation; of the Christian Greenlander who died yesterday, and of the
sweet Christian girl who died to-day, leaving the bosom of her mother
for the bosom of her God; of each and all the ten thousand times ten
thousand who have so lived and died, with one conviction of truth the
strongest in their minds; that whatever strength, peace, or good they
possess as true life, they owe all to the One source of life,--the
Lord Jesus Christ! What are we to conclude from these unparalleled
facts, which can no more be denied than the realities of human history
or of human experience? Have all Christians been deceived? Have they
been believing a lie, and has this great life of life in them been
sustained by a delusion? Is there no such person as Jesus Christ, the
Lord of life, the living Saviour of sinners? Is this not a fact but a
fiction? Can it be that the moral government of God exists, and yet
that it admits of such a moral anomaly as this,--the regeneration of
human character by a falsehood! Impossible! I say it with deepest
reverence,--as sure as there is a God of truth, impossible! The
Christian Church has not been deceived. Unbelievers in Jesus have
not had the light of truth given them, while those who have loved
and served Him have been permitted to walk in the darkness of
intellectual untruth and in the vain belief of an idol! Jesus is
Divine as well as human. "He was, and is, and liveth for evermore!"



If all this evidence is insufficient to prove the Divine nature of
Jesus Christ, it may be well to consider on what religious fact or
truth we can fall back, as being based upon surer evidence, and
affording, therefore, a surer ground of faith and hope.

1. On what part of Christ's "work" on earth can we fall back? We can
no more recognise God the Father as truly revealing Himself in
Jesus as his co-eternal Son; and the whole light and life of such a
revelation in Christ, as hitherto seen and received by the apostles
and the Christian Church, is for ever extinguished and destroyed. We
can no more believe Jesus as our Prophet, when we do not accept the
very truths to which He gave most prominence: nor can we trust Him
as our King, when we believe Him to have been a mere man only, who
neither possesses nor could wield power adequate to govern the
world: nor can we trust Him as our Priest, for in Him is no longer
manifested the love of God in sending His own Son to be a propitiation
for the sins of the world. And who, we may add, will believe in a Holy
Spirit as a Divine Person, whose very work is represented by Jesus to
be that of convincing the world of sin "because it believes not in
Him," as "glorifying Him," and taking of His things to shew them to
the spirits of men?

2. Can we, then, accept of Christ as a perfect example? How is this
possible? For remember, it was the example of one who is assumed to
be a man like ourselves, but yet a man who never, by one act of
contrition or confession, acknowledged the existence of personal sin
or defect of any kind; a man rarely endowed, and yet who never once
expressed gratitude to God for His rich and varied gifts; a man who
prayed indeed to God, yet as one who was His equal, and who in His
last hours uttered such words as these--"All mine are thine, and thine
are mine! Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, may
be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory!" Can
we, sinners, follow this example, as that of "our model man, in
everything?" Dare we closely follow a life like this, and then end it
by voluntarily giving ourselves up as a ransom "for the remission of
the sins of many?"

3. Can we even retain the character of Jesus? The atheist admits
that Jesus was the greatest man who ever lived on earth. A worshipper
of heroes says of Him in his Hero Worship,--"The greatest of
all heroes is one whom I do not name here." The character of this
wonderful Being has indeed been generally recognised as a bright spot
amidst the world's darkness; as the only perfect model of goodness
ever seen on earth--yea, as moral beauty itself! But unless the
history we possess of Jesus is untrue, and He was, therefore, no
historical but a mere ideal person,--or if He was a real person, as
represented in the gospel, yet not divine,--we cannot defend His
character without losing our own. For we have seen how He certainly
represented Himself as one with God,--as one who alone knew God and
truly revealed Him,--as one who demanded the same honour and love from
man as were due to God,--who required men to be willing to part with
their dearest friends, even life itself, rather than with Him,--who
asserted His right to assign to mankind their eternal destinies
according to the relationship in which each man stood to Him,--who,
when standing before an earthly judge, crowned with thorns, insulted
by the rabble, with every sign of weakness, and as if literally
forsaken by God and man, did not abate one jot or tittle of His
claims, but asserted them in all their magnitude, announcing His
return to the world in glory as its mighty Judge; and much more to the
same effect. Now, can any man, we ask, of common honesty defend such
a character as this from the charge of wilful imposition and daring
blasphemy, unless what He asserted was true? With reference to all the
good words or deeds which His professed friends may claim for Him,
yet so long as He falsely claims to be divine, we are constrained to
reject Him, as the Jews did, and to say with them, "For a good work we
stone thee not, but because thou, being a man, makest thyself God!"
It is not possible, therefore, to fall back on Christ's character, if
we reject Christ's divinity; for His character was manifest untruth,
and His claims an unprincipled deception!

4. Can we preserve the character of the apostles? That, too, has
hitherto been considered worthy of our respect and regard. Never did
men leave such a record of moral teaching, and such an impress of a
holy life behind them, a life so pure, wise, loving, so suited,
in every respect, to bless mankind, and to make a heaven below in
proportion as it is received. In these men we can detect no trace of
avarice, ambition, or selfish aims of any kind. They lived, laboured,
and died, that the world should become better and happier, and they
have so far succeeded that civilisation can never more be separated
from their names. But what was the substance of their teaching, and
the one grand object of their existence? I again reply, without fear
of contradiction, it was to persuade mankind to trust and love Jesus
Christ as God! The first Christian teacher who died a martyr's death
resigned his spirit into the hands of this Jesus, as his Lord in
glory; and the last and oldest apostle who first knew Him as his
friend, represented Him as the Alpha and the Omega, the King of kings
and Lord of lords. But if He was not this, how can the character of
those teachers be defended? As Jews they could not be ignorant of
the being and attributes of God, nor as men of the earthly life and
history of Jesus; yet they professed to preach Jesus as divine, and
to work miracles in His name! They could not possibly have been
themselves deceived, and must therefore, if their faith was vain,
have attempted to deceive others. Common sense rejects every other
explanation. Anyhow, they were the successful heralds of an idolatry
which, we may boldly affirm, will never leave the world, and of a
blasphemy whose praises will never be silent on earth. Their character
must perish with that of their Master!

5. What, then, have we left us? The morality of the New Testament?
No! for all that is peculiar to its morality are the duties which
spring out of the assumed relationship of Jesus to mankind. The gospel
morality of supreme love to Jesus becomes immorality, if Jesus is
not one with God. Prayer to Christ, personal communion with Christ,
personal attachment to Christ, hymns of praise to Christ, abiding
through faith in Christ, advancing the kingdom of Christ, labouring
for Christ and keeping His commandments--in one word, that whole
life of the Christian towards God and man, every portion of which is
permeated by Christ as the sunlight fills the atmosphere, can never be
separated from the morality of the New Testament.

Nor can we any longer rely upon Old Testament facts, or on anything
there revealed regarding God, as distinct from what could have been
discovered without such a revelation, if our faith has been shaken in
the facts and the characters of the New Testament. He who can reject
the Christ of the New Testament, must necessarily reject the God of
the Old; and he who cannot rely on the apostles, cannot possibly rely
upon the prophets. All must be given up, and the Bible become a mere
curious record of falsehood.

6. Is this all? Enough one would think! But can we even fall back on
God? What evidence has any man of the existence of a living personal
God, stronger than what he possesses of a living personal Saviour? Can
any revelation of God during the past, and recorded in history, be
received as worthy of credit, if this alleged history of Jesus is
rejected as unworthy? If the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
is not the only living and true God, where is the true God to be
found? If Jesus neither knew Him truly, nor truly revealed Him, who
can do either? And when, moreover, we have thus lost faith in the
character of Jesus and of His apostles, from what better evidence of
moral character or moral design on earth can we henceforth reason
upwards as to the moral character of a Divine Being?

In what position do we thus find ourselves? The Church of Christ must
be given up as a great falsehood, a huge idolatry, a society of weak,
deluded, or bad men. The character of its early founders, and the
Person to whom it owes its name, must, for the same reason, be
abandoned. The Old Testament can form but a feeble barrier to the
flood which has thus swept away the New, with all which has arisen out
of the assumed truth of its history. And thus each man, cut off from
the past, is left to discover a God for himself, from evidence which,
to satisfy him, must necessarily be more overwhelming than that which
he rejects, and on which the faith of the Christian Church has rested
for eighteen centuries. Can any man be satisfied with such a basis of
religion as this? Having rejected God as revealed in Jesus, can he
peril his soul in peace on the God discovered by himself? Having fled
from Christianity as a religion whose foundations are insecure, can he
repose with confidence in the building which he himself has reared?
Or, if he moves at all, must he not gradually slide into universal
scepticism, and conclude that, since he cannot believe in Jesus,
he can believe in no one else,--that if deceived by Him he may be
deceived by all,--that if there is no such Person as the Divine Son,
there is no such Person as the Divine Father,--that if he must be
without Christ, he must necessarily be without God!

He may, indeed, in such a case, profess to believe in a God; but is
He the living and true God, or one who is but the product of his own
mind, the shadow cast by his own human spirit? Oh! hear the words of
Him who is truth itself: "Ye believe in God, believe also in me;" "All
things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son
but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and
he to whom the Son will reveal him;" "Come unto me, all ye that labour
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!" May the Lord's last
prayer be answered in us: "Father, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also
may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he
may give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is
life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus
Christ, whom thou hast sent."



Now to prove the Christian religion untrue, or to prove that the
evidences on which it rests are insufficient, is a more difficult task
than some of its opponents appear to imagine, if we may judge from the
boastful language in which they record their supposed achievements.

Let it never be forgotten, that the Christian religion is founded upon
certain alleged historical facts that must be disposed of before it
falls.[A] The holy temple of a loving soul filled with the glory of
Christ is spiritual, but it is nevertheless based upon facts as on
foundation-stones, the chief corner-stone being Jesus Christ the
personal Saviour, "who was dead and is alive, and liveth for
evermore!" Without these facts Christianity could not exist. The duty,
for example, of supremely loving and devotedly serving Jesus
Christ, implies the truth of other facts, such as the fulfilment of
prophecies, miracles, the life and character of Jesus, His atoning
death, resurrection, &c., all of which establish His claims to our
faith. But in addition to these, and as their evidence also and
result, there is the experience of the whole living Church, derived
from faith in Jesus as the resurrection and the life.

[Footnote A: Neander, in his preface to his "Life of Christ," quotes
from Niebuhr what he calls "the golden words of one of the greatest
minds of modern times." "The man," says Niebuhr, "who does not hold
Christ's earthly life, with all its miracles, to be as properly and
really historical as any event in the sphere of history, and who
does not receive all points in the Apostles' Creed with the fullest
conviction, I do not conceive to be a Protestant Christian. As for
that Christianity which is such according to the fashion of the
modern philosophers and pantheists,--without a personal God, without
immortality, without an individuality of man, without historical
faith,--it may be a very subtle philosophy, but it is no
Christianity at all. Again and again have I said that I know not what
to do with a metaphysical God, and that I will have no other but the
God of the Bible, who is heart to heart."]

But before Christianity can be destroyed, it is absolutely necessary
to destroy the evidences of those historical facts on which it rests.
This, as I have said, is no easy task. There are many high walls, many
encircling lines of defence around the old fortress, each and all of
which must be taken, ere the citadel itself can be reached and laid
in ruins. Now this has never yet been done. The enemy has made many
attacks during the last eighteen centuries, and on several occasions
the last grand assault which was to decide the long campaign has been
threatened. Every method has been adopted which critical skill could
apply, which the most subtle genius could invent, and the most
untiring perseverance execute; but, in spite of all, "the strong
city," with "salvation for walls and bulwarks," still remains strong
as ever. For, to drop all metaphor, in whatever way we may account for
it, the fact is undeniable, that Christianity, in the form of supreme
love to Jesus Christ as the Son of God, not only survives, but in no
age of the world's past history has it been so strongly rooted in the
convictions and affections of so many men, nor has it ever been given
such promise of filling the whole earth.

Let us suppose, however, for the sake of argument, that by some
process hitherto undiscovered, Christianity, as the religion of
supreme love to this living Person, Jesus Christ, is at last proved to
be a fiction; that the millennium of infidelity has arrived; that the
religion taught by Christ and His apostles has become as dead to the
world as that of Buddh or Confucius is now to the mind of Europe; that
our Christian churches, like the heathen temples of Greece or Rome,
remain but as monuments of a superstition long ago exploded by the
light of science and philosophy; that all those supernatural Christian
facts and truths, which like a mighty firmament of stars, now cluster
around the name of Jesus, have departed as lights from the visible
universe; that Christian truth is as silent before the world as Christ
himself was when He stood before Herod, and answered him nothing;
until even the wailing cry has ceased of the last desponding and
disconsolate believer on earth, "They have taken away my Lord, and
I know not where to find him!" Well, then, the work is done! The
energetic teachers of the propaganda of unbelief have accomplished
their long-cherished purpose, and the professors of an earnest and
devoted faith in Christ have perished, leaving no memorial behind them
except their "curious books," or their hoary tombstones, which record
their old faith in Him as the resurrection and the life.

When such a crisis as this has at last arrived, the world will surely
pause, and count the fruits of victory. Wise men will then doubtless
consider with an earnest spirit what has been gained to humanity by
this tremendous revolution in all those opinions and ideas cherished
during so many ages; and the well-wishers of mankind will examine the
spoils which the conquerors have ready for enriching the poor and
needy as the result of this triumph over a religion that was clung to
by the best and noblest men with a tenacity overcome only when earth
was old, and time was well-nigh ending. But may we not now anticipate
such a solemn review, by asking those who are wishful to destroy
Christianity, what they intend to put in its place when their object
is accomplished. If they have anything else to give us, let us know
what it is, that we may see and judge if it is better than the old
religion; if it is better suited to meet the wants of man in every
period and condition of his varied life; if it is likely to do better
work on earth, and produce better fruit; if its truth rests on better
evidence, and if, in short, it is such a gift from heaven that angels
with songs of joy might announce this new gospel of peace on earth,
and this new message of good-will to man. Strange to say, such
questions, though often asked, have hitherto remained unanswered. If
there be a something better in store for us than what we profess, the
blissful secret has not yet been revealed. Infidelity, often so loud
in attacking Christianity, is silent as a god of iron or brass when we
ask at its shrine. If I give up faith in Christ, what wouldest thou
have me be and do, and how live and rejoice as an immortal being?

What, then, I again ask, would be lost and gained on both sides after
the war, in the event of Christianity being destroyed? We Christians
know full well what we would gain and lose;--we know that we would
gain nothing, and lose everything! We would lose all which we
most love in the universe of God,--all which makes us rejoice in
existence,--all which enables us to look at the past, present, and
future with perfect peace; and of all men we would be most miserable!
It is true that in regard to many an object of affection, it may be

"Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all!"

But not so in regard to our love of Jesus Christ. Better never to
have seen that glory filling the heavens and earth, and making life a
constant thanksgiving and praise, than, after having seen it, to be
persuaded by any witchery that it was all a dream--a fiction of the
imagination--a ghostly superstition--which it is wisdom to banish from
the memory. For once we have lost Jesus Christ as our ever-living,
ever-present, all-sufficient Friend and Saviour, what are we to do?
Can we contentedly fall back upon our own being, or upon any other
person, and live on "without Christ in the world!" Or are we in those
circumstances to be told that we may still have comfort in "religion
without the supernatural," and rejoice in "the eternal and essential
verities of morality!" Only think of it, Christians! The living man,
the light and hope of the family, is murdered; but a disciple of pure
science and calm philosophy enters it, and tells its agonised members
that it is folly and ignorance to indulge in such grief, for science
has analysed their friend, and preserved in a series of neat phials,
which they may easily carry about with them, all his constituent
elements, his "essentials," his carbon, his silica, this and that
gas--everything, in short, which made up the substance of him whom
they were accustomed to call their beloved; therefore they may
"comfort one another with these words!" And thus would the enemy of
Christianity presume to comfort us with his "essentials," when our
living Lord is gone! Comfort indeed!

"Comfort? comfort scorn'd by devils! this is truth the poet sings,
That a sorrow's crown of sorrow is remembering happier things!"

But what can the unbeliever himself expect to gain by its destruction?
"I have nothing to do with consequences," may be his reply, "but with
truth only; let every lie be tested and exposed, whatever may be the
real or imaginary gain or loss to myself or others." Brave words! with
which we have the deepest sympathy; for if they are the utterance of
a truly sincere heart, they evidence belief, and not unbelief; they
assume that there is an order and government in the universe, which
is on the side of truth, and that we may therefore, at all hazards,
discover what is true, and cling to it in the full assurance of
faith,--that ultimately the right and true are in harmony with all
that is worth loving and worth living for. Amen! we say from
our heart. At the same time, it is well to look at some of the
consequences which the destruction of Christianity would involve even
to him who destroys it.

It is obvious, for example, that should it cease to exist to us as
a reality, other realities would remain irrespective of our belief.
Existence would remain, and it may be one as eternal as the life of
God; sorrow and suffering would remain, to gnaw the heart, darken the
world, and cast deep shadows over a life which must end with that
dread event, death, and the passing away of ourselves and of all we
have from the memories of mankind as if we had never been--and whither
I Worst of all, sin would remain--dark, mysterious, and terrible
sin! And "obstinate questionings" would remain to disturb and perplex
the mind in moments of earnest and silent thought. Men would still
ask, What if we are responsible to God for this whole inner and outer
life of ours, with its beliefs, purposes, and actions? What if sin
and its consequences continue beyond the grave, with no remedy there
unless found here? What if there is no possible happiness but in
fellowship of spirit and character with God; and what if this is
morally impossible for us to attain without a Saviour and Sanctifier
What, in short, if all the evils which Christianity professes to
deliver us from remain as facts in our history, just as diseases
remain though the aid of the physician, who reveals their nature, and
who offers to cure them, is rejected? or, as a vessel remains a wreck
in the midst of the breakers after the life-boat which comes to save
the crew is dismissed? or, as the lion remains after the telescope
is flung aside which revealed his coming, and revealed also the only
place of safety from his attack? For it is obvious that Christianity
does not create the evils and dangers from which it offers to deliver
us, and that these must remain as facts should it be proved a fiction.
So far, then, the infidel has gained nothing by the overthrow of our
religion. "Except truth!" does he exclaim? Yet, I again repeat it,
truth in its negative form only, as destroying supposed falsehoods,
but not in its positive form as establishing something to rest upon.

Is there any other conceivable gain, then, which would accrue to the
unbeliever by his supposed success? Does he wish, for example, to
relieve oppressed souls of some great burden which crushes them?
But what alleged truths or doctrine of Christianity, if blotted out
to-morrow from the circle of belief, would ease a single soul, while
it would unquestionably be an irreparable loss to millions? Would a
God be more acceptable, and appear with greater moral beauty, who was
different from the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? Would He
be more attractive to our hearts if He did not forgive our sins fully
and freely, or if forgiveness was not offered through such Divine
self-sacrifice? Would it be a relief to our moral being to be freed
from the privilege or duty of supremely loving Jesus Christ? Would it
lighten our hearts to be freed from the burden of having communion
with Him in prayer? Would we have more security for light, life,
strength, holiness, peace, or comfort, if there was no such Person
revealed as the Spirit of God, who freely imparts His aid to all?
Would it be glad tidings to hear that men were not to be born again,
nor to repent, nor to deny themselves, nor to do God's will, but their
own? What is there which a good man would gain by the destruction of
the Christian religion!

I have one question more to suggest with reference to the duty of an
unbeliever towards us as Christians, and it is this, Why should he
disturb our faith, or, as he might term it, our superstition? If he
retorts by asking why we should disturb his unbelief, our answer is
ready--because we wish with our whole soul to share with him the
blessings which God our common Father has for him as well as for
us; because we truly lament the loss to our brother who refuses the
eternal good which he may now enjoy with the whole family of God;
because we love our God, and his God and Saviour, and desire our
brother to know and to love them too; because it is so unjust, so
selfish, so hateful, not to love and obey such a glorious Person as
Jesus Christ, who knows us, loves us, and has died to gain our hearts!
These are some of the reasons, rudely and roughly stated, why we
desire, with all our heart, that every man should believe in Jesus
Christ. But if any man, for any reason which may be beyond our
understanding or sympathy, desires to destroy this faith in all that
is most precious to us, then I ask, not in Christ's name,--for it is
unnecessary to appeal to Him,--but in the name of common sense and
common philanthropy, why he should not only labour to do this, but to
do it without apparently any apprehension of the untold misery which
he must occasion if he succeeds in his attempt? Do not tell us, with a
boast, that "the truth must be spoken, come what may!" Be it so; but
surely the kind of truth which must be spoken must ever regulate the
manner in which it is spoken? Again, I bid you picture to yourselves a
person entering a family whose members were rejoicing in the thought
of a father's return, and announcing the intelligence of that father's
death, with a smile of pity or a sneer of contempt at their ignorant
happiness! Imagine such a one professing to be actuated by a mere love
of truth! Oh! if the terrible duty has been laid upon any one with a
human heart, of announcing to others intelligence which, if true, must
leave a blank to them in the world that can never be filled up, what
tender sympathy, what genuine sorrow becomes him who breaks the heavy
tidings! And such ought to be the feelings of every man who, from
whatever cause, feels called upon to announce that the Christian
religion is false. If he must make known that terrible fact to
believers in Jesus; if he must tell them that the supposed Source of
all their life and joy has no existence, and that their faith in Him
is vain, let this be done with the solemnity and the sorrow which a
true brotherly sympathy would necessarily dictate. If the missionaries
of Christianity are warranted in preaching their gospel with joy, the
missionaries of an infidelity which professes only to destroy and
not to build up, should go forth on their dreadful vocation with the
feeling of martyrs, and with no other notes of triumph than sounds of
lamentation and woe! For if Christianity is false, we are "yet in our
sins, all who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished, and we are
of all men most miserable!"


There is no "fact of the future" more clearly revealed in Scripture,
or more certainly believed in by the Christian Church, than that "God
hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness
by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance
unto all men in that he hath raised him from the dead."

No doubt this fact is denied or explained away by many modern critics.
But it would be difficult to say what revealed fact, from Genesis to
Revelation, is admitted by them, or what things may now be "most
surely believed among us." We retain our first faith in the future
judgment, and shall endeavour to look at it in a practical rather than
in a speculative light.

There is, indeed, among mankind a general anticipation of a coming
time when the mystery of God's providence will be cleared up, and His
righteousness displayed in the final judgment to be then passed on the
evil and on the good. What the human race are led to anticipate, as
likely to occur hereafter, from the many unsettled questions here
between man and his brother, and between man and his God, Scripture
reveals to us as certain.

While, however, every Christian believes in the coming of Jesus to
judge the world as firmly as he does in the fact of His having risen
from the dead, there seems to us to be very inadequate conceptions in
the minds of many as to the designs of this day, or the ends which it
is fitted to accomplish in the kingdom of God.

It is hastily assumed, for example, that the day of judgment will be
short as the period included between an earthly sunrise and sunset;
and that, during this brief interval, the dead shall rise, and be
judged before the throne of Jesus Christ, along with fallen angels. It
is accordingly asked, with doubt and wonder, what good can be gained,
or what purpose served, by this summoning those whose doom has long
been sealed to appear at the bar of Jesus, and there to receive a
formal sentence? If Judas goes to his own place, and Stephen to the
arms of his Redeemer; if the wicked rich man departs to the burning
flame, and Lazarus to the bosom of Abraham; if Satan and his angels
have long ago experienced the horrors of a state which they know to be
unchangeable, because they are themselves unchanged; what conceivable
reason can there be for appointing a day in which all the wicked and
the righteous are to be assembled, only to receive their respective
sentences of condemnation or acquittal?

I know not how such questions can be answered by those who suppose the
day of judgment to be nothing more than one on which Jesus Christ will
publicly declare what the eternal fate of His creatures is to be for
ever; without any trial beyond that which has already taken place in
the court of each man's conscience, and in the presence of the living

We at once admit that the difficulty, or impossibility even, of
answering such questions, is no adequate reason for our denying any
fact clearly revealed in Scripture which may suggest them. But if
these belong, not to the fact itself, but to what appears to us to be
a wrong interpretation of it; if a different view is freed from
such difficulties, without others, more numerous and serious, being
evolved; if the information afforded by Scripture is to be received as
authentic; and if, moreover, while keeping strictly to the letter
of Scripture, it is more in harmony with the grand ends to be
accomplished by the kingdom of Christ, and discloses more of the glory
of the great King, surely a presumption is thereby afforded in favour
of its truth, though, perhaps, at first sight it may interfere with
preconceived opinions.

Instead, then, of the day of judgment being a day of twenty-four hours
merely for the passing of a righteous sentence upon the good or bad,
it seems to us to be clearly revealed in Scripture that it will be a
period of time long enough for the peaceful and orderly ongoing of
all its august proceedings;--when Jesus Christ will summon to His
immediate presence all who have been the subjects of His mediatorial
kingdom, or have been placed under His authority for accomplishing the
purposes of His reign;--when each person will be tried in the presence
of the assembled universe, and his true relationship to his King must
be proved upon evidence minute, sifting, and unquestionable;--in one
word, when the whole government of the Mediator, from the beginning
till the end of time, over men, angels, and devils, shall be fully
disclosed, and its excellence manifested to the confusion of the
wicked, the joy of the righteous, and the glory of the Triune God!

Difficulties will, no doubt, be suggested by the view we have thus
so briefly stated, as well as by the others I have been obliged to
discard. But instead of attempting to remove these, I shall at present
pass them by, leaving them to be tacitly and satisfactorily answered
by the positive truth regarding the judgment, which I shall now
endeavour to establish.


The Judge will be Jesus Christ:--

"We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ."

"Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, at his
appearing and kingdom."

"The day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ."

"The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the

Now, there are several reasons discernible by us why Jesus Christ
should thus be "appointed to judge the world."

1. From the constitution of His person. As God, He is possessed of
omniscience to discern every thought and intent of the heart; unerring
wisdom and unsullied righteousness to try every case; with omnipotent
power and sovereign authority to execute every sentence. On the other
hand, as "the Son of man," He will appear in His human nature, for
"every eye shall see Him." This "same Jesus" said the angels at His
ascension, "who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in
like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." Men will be judged by
one who is their Brother, "who, in all points, was tried like one of
us;" "who in all things was made like His brethren."

2. Another reason why Jesus Christ will direct all the proceedings of
the day of judgment, arises from the peculiar relationship in which,
as the only Mediator between God and man, He stands to the human race.
Let us dwell for a moment upon this point.

We are informed in Scripture, that Jesus Christ is the Creator of
this world:--

"All things were made by him." "He was in the world, and the world
was made by him." "God who created all things by Jesus Christ." "All
things were created by him and for him."

He is also Governor of the world:--

"God raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in
the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might,
and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world,
but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his
feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church which
is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."

To accomplish the various ends of this glorious government, He is
King of nature; all the elements of nature which can in any way
affect the history or destiny of the human race being directed and
controlled by Him. "The winds and the seas obey Him;" pestilence and
famine, the volcano and the hurricane, are ministers of His, that
do His pleasure. He is the King of providence; armies and fleets,
conquests and invasions, discoveries and inventions, migrations and
settlements,--all are under the government of His wise and omnipotent
sceptre. He is the King of grace; the gifts and graces of the Holy
Spirit are dispensed to the persons and in the measure which seem best
to Him. Finally, He is the King of angels and devils; so that
their power and agency, in relation to the human family, are either
controlled or guided by Him.

Now, this kingdom of Jesus Christ, which began with the history of the
world at least, will one day be resigned into the hands of God. "Then
cometh the end," says the apostle, "when he shall have delivered up
the kingdom to God the Father, that God may be all in all." But ere
that end comes, the Mediator himself will, as we suppose; disclose the
history of His kingdom to the assembled universe. He will make known
"His ways and acts" towards the children of men. He will meet friend
and foe, and disclose the real history of each person who ever lived,
from the first moment of his birth to the moment of his trial; and of
each family, and city, and kingdom, from their rise till their final
extinction in the dust; and thus the universe shall know how His
government over human affairs, in all ages and climes, has been
conducted; and in what manner His authority and power over all things
for His Church has been exercised; that it may be known on evidence,
whether He is indeed worthy to have received such honour and power in
the great and universal kingdom of Jehovah!

3. But there seems also a fitness in Jesus being the Judge, from His
peculiar relationship to the Church. "He created all things, that
unto principalities and powers might be known by the Church the
manifold wisdom of God." And He is now, in virtue of what He has
done as a Priest, the Head over all things for the Church as a King.
"Because he humbled himself, God hath highly exalted him." The grand
end of His whole mediatorial reign is, "that unto God might be glory
in the Church by Christ Jesus." But the work of Jesus Christ as
Mediator will not have terminated, nor will He have received His full
joy and reward, until He raises His people from their graves, and
gathers His elect from the four winds of heaven; and opens the Book
of Life, and from this biographical record adduces evidence of the
reality of their loyalty, and of their love to the King; and reveals
the glory of all His dealings towards them in every age:--until, in
one word, the living Church, of which He is the Head, which "He loved"
and "purchased with His own blood," and "sanctified and cleansed with
the washing of the water of His word," shall be presented to Himself,
not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but holy and without
blemish. His judgment of the Church will be the consummation of His
mediatorial glory, and the fulness of His reward.

As to the time when Jesus Christ shall judge the world, we are
ignorant. "Of that day knoweth no man, not even the angels." We know
only that it will come suddenly--"as a thief in the night"--upon the
whole world; and that "we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be
changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last
trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised
incorruptible, and we shall be changed."

No words of man can venture upon any description of the appearance of
the Judge, or the accompaniments of that great and terrible day of
the Lord. But here are a few Scripture statements descriptive of this
solemn scene:--

"For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his
angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works,"
(Matt. xvi. 27.)

"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then
shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of
man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he
shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall
gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven
to the other," (Matt. xxiv. 30, 31.)

"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are
alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them
which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with
a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God:
and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and
remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet
the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord," (1 Thess.
iv. 15-17.)

"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall
be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking
vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of
our Lord Jesus Christ," (2 Thess. i. 7, 8.)

"But the day of the Lord will 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 burned up," (2 Pet. iii. 10.)

"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose
face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place
for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and
the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book
of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were
written in the books, according to their works. 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," (Rev. xx. 11-13.)


We reply, men and fallen angels.

"We must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ." If the
government of Jesus Christ over men is to be revealed on that day, it
is clear that all men, without exception, must be judged. So linked,
indeed, is the history of each man with that of others,--as, for
instance, the tempter with the tempted, the oppressed with the
oppressor, the teacher with the taught, the child with the parent;--so
necessarily is each man's condition and character affected by that of
all who have gone before him, up to his first parents;--so truly do
all human beings make up one race, one family, from the life of
each being more or less connected with that of all, that the knowledge
of the real history of even one man, almost implies an examination
into the real history of the whole human race. And we shall possess,
for the first time, a true history of the whole world, when we truly
understand the history of each person, family, and kingdom in it; and
so also shall we possess the true history of each individual part,
only when we know its relationship to the great whole; and the history
of events, when we perceive what bearing they have had on the kingdom
of Jesus Christ, whose history is that of the world.

It has been questioned how far the sins of the people of God, which
have been for ever pardoned, are to be revealed at judgment. But we
see no reason whatever why this should not be the case, and every
reason why it should. We might, beforehand, have thought it more
likely that God would not have recorded in the Bible, and exposed in
the light of all coming ages, the sins of His most eminent servants,
as those of Abraham, Moses, David, of Peter, or of Paul. But He has
told the whole truth regarding them for our warning and instruction;
and so will the whole truth be told regarding every saint at judgment,
"that no flesh may glory in His presence;" and that the reality of the
wickedness of the old man may be proven, as well as the reality of the
holiness of the "new man created in Christ Jesus unto good works." And
what saint can be unwilling to have revealed what he was, that so the
glorious love of God's Spirit may be made the more manifest, as the
sole cause of what he has become, and will continue to be for ever and

Fallen angels shall also be judged upon that day: "For God spared not
the angels that sinned, but cast them, down to hell, and delivered
them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment," "And
the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own
habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness,
unto the judgment of the great day." Under what dispensation those
beings first sinned against God, we cannot tell. All we know from
the information given us by God is, that they have been permitted to
exercise their power in this world, on the side of evil, ever since
the creation of man. Satan, the adversary, the tempter, the enemy, who
is the head of these principalities and powers, has been a "liar and
murderer from the beginning;" and in every age and clime, he and his
wicked spirits have advanced the kingdom of darkness with indomitable
perseverance, untiring energy, ceaseless hate, and "all deceivableness
and unrighteousness in them that perish." Fallen angels having thus
taken so dreadful a part in the history of Christ's kingdom, and being
responsible for all they do, shall be tried at judgment; and what a
revelation must their trial be of the character, the hellish plots and
machinations of those enemies of Jesus Christ and His Church!

We have already alluded to the individuality of the examination at
the last day,--how "every one of us must give an account of himself
to God;" and "receive the things done in his body, according to what
he hath done, whether good or evil;" and also, how each fact must
be brought to light upon evidence whose truth cannot be questioned.
Upon that day, mere assertions will not be sufficient to establish the
right or the wrong condition of any one before the judgment-seat. The
universe must know the truth! Evidence must, therefore, be adduced
which will "convince all;" and that evidence, too, will be sifted.
Before sentence is passed, overwhelming proof will demonstrate the
righteous ground on which each individual must take his place among
those on the left hand or on the right. Let us see if we can discover
any sources of evidence for the detection and discrimination of


1. The Book of Providence will be opened.--In this book has been
recorded, and from its pages can be shewn, by Jesus Christ, everything
which has been done to us, and for us, by Himself, since the hour of
our birth till that of our death. Every temporal mercy or
spiritual blessing--every advice given by ministers, relations,
or friends--every Sabbath which dawned upon us--every stirring of
conscience within us--every visitation of sickness or domestic
affliction--every item, in short, of that immense sum of things which,
in His providence or by His grace, was given us each successive hour
of life, and which was intended to mould our characters according to
the will of God;--all shall be revealed at judgment, that the universe
may know what Jesus Christ, the King, has really done for each one of
His subjects, and what each subject has been, and done, in relation to

2. The Book of Memory shall be opened.--An awful volume! It seems
almost certain that anything once known to us must for ever abide in
memory, and can never be absolutely and for ever lost. Out of sight it
may be, but never really out of mind. It may appear to be dead, though
it only sleeps, ready to start into vigorous life when touched by some
hand which can reach it in the dim mysterious recess where it lies
concealed. It is thus, before returning, after a long absence, to the
home of our early life, we are unable to discover any page in the
volume of our memory inscribed with more than a few incidents which
filled up those early years of gladness. Every page seems a blank, or
its records, if not obliterated, can hardly be traced. But when we
do return, what a magic influence is exercised by every tree, rock,
and stream, and by the old home itself with which these were once
inseparably associated! The history of days and years now glow with
the vividness of first impressions, where, until now, all was so
indistinct and illegible. Old familiar voices ring in our ears,
beloved faces of the old dead gaze upon us as of yore, and their forms
flit before our moist eyes. But were not these things all the while
in our memory, although unnoticed by us until called forth by fitting
circumstances? And have we not seen evidence of the same mysterious
life of the past within us, when in extreme old age a second childhood
awakens all the incidents of the first; when memory, like a flash of
lightning, irradiates the sky, otherwise dark and wintry, revealing
the scenes of early days, which were before quite forgotten? More
wonderful still--it is certain that things once known, which in
health were as lost to memory as if they had never been, are suddenly
recalled, and appear in all their former life and freshness, when
fever touches the brain with her delirious hand. The sick man, in his
ravings, speaks perhaps a language known only in his infancy, and
recalls incidents belonging to a period which was a total blank in his
recollections during days of robust health. And what does all
this prove but the momentous truth, that anything which once was
done,--anything which we have ever thought, uttered, or known, or
was ever inscribed in the book of memory,--remains there engraven in
characters more permanent than those which, cut deep in the hoary
monuments of Egypt, have outlived teeming centuries of human history?
Darkness may cover the page, but by a vivid and mysterious flash every
letter is illuminated. That flash may be only some trifle, such as a
note of music--the tone of some voice--

"The subtle smell which spring unbends,
Dread pause abrupt of midnight winds,--
An echo or a dream!"

And thus may it be at judgment; by the extension of the same kind of
power, may our whole life, in its minutest details, pass before our
eyes,--each minute of it delivering its own history of word or deed,
of things done or things received,--and each recognised as true by the
possessor of them all. Accordingly, every man is now, whether he
wills it or not, unconsciously writing or daguerreotyping his own
biography;--his whole life forming a work of more importance, to
himself at least, than any other in the universe,--each volume a year,
each chapter a month, each day or hour a page. At judgment memory will
read the whole, and be compelled to feel that every word is true. It
is strange, too, how rapid--reasoning from analogy--such a review may
be, without diminishing from its distinctness. States of being, or
successive acts, which occupied long periods of time, may very rapidly
be recalled in all their minute features. In moments of sudden peril,
when death seemed approaching, how frequently have men told us that
they beheld, in a twinkling of an eye, the great features of their
whole life like a panorama passing before their mind's eye! And thus
at judgment, clear, yet rapid--intensely real and vivid, yet sudden as
light--may the life of the boy, and the man, and the patriarch, from,
the first till the last moment of conscious and responsible existence
upon earth, be presented to the mind with a self-evidencing power of
truth, which cannot, which dare not, be denied or resisted! Jesus
Christ will speak to the man from within the man, and, with
irresistible power, say to him, "Son, remember!"

3. The Book of Conscience shall be opened.--This will afford
abundant evidence, when read along with the books of memory and
providence, of the witness in every man's soul for the moral
government of God, and that ever accused or excused his life. That
tremendous power which has dogged the murderer in his flight,
following him across the seas, tracking him to his refuge in some
solitary island or savage wilderness,--that presence which, like an
evil spirit from another world, has disturbed the guilty in the midst
of his festivities, or sat heavily on his soul, brooding over him in
his slumbers as a horrible nightmare, until he has started up in the
agony of despair,--that judge which has made kings tremble on their
thrones, and ruffians shiver in their silent cells,--that awful voice
will be allowed then to speak out with the power, as well as with the
authority, that belong to it. It will pass judgment upon all the facts
in each man's life, which shall then, for the first time, be fully and
fairly submitted to its inspection; and each page in memory's book
will find a corresponding page in the book of conscience, on that "day
when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ," A thousand
excuses will be silenced by it, and false hopes crushed, and a fiery
law go forth to destroy all the coverings which the deceitful heart
now draws over its own wilful and desperate wickedness.

4. "Another book will be opened, which is the Book of Life"--In
that book are inscribed the characters of all God's people, and the
evidence of the reality of their faith in Christ and obedience to Him.
"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord: Yea, saith the Spirit, that
they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them!"
These works, which are the evidence, results, and rewards of faith,
are recorded by that same Spirit through whose power alone the soul
has lived, believed, and been enabled to bring forth such fruit to the
praise of the glory of God by Jesus Christ. In the book of life will
be found recorded by the omniscient Holy Spirit of Truth, that secret
life of every saint which was "hid with Christ in God." Then shall be
revealed the reality of their repentance and inward renewal of soul;
the sincerity of their love to God and to His people; their secret
prayers, thanksgivings, confessions, intercessions, and holy communion
with God; their plans, longings, and sacrifices for the spread of the
gospel, and for the glory of God upon earth; their deeds of charity
for Christ,--every prison they entered, every naked one they clothed;
the hungry they fed, or the offences forgiven by them from love to
Him who forgave them;--that whole character, in short, which is the
result of union with Christ, will be evidenced to the universe from
what is recorded of it in the Lamb's Book of Life.

And is there not another book, even "the Book," which may also be
opened at judgment as a witness for the Triune God in His dealings
with mankind? How many millions of men have possessed the Bible, and
acknowledged it as the word of God! Who, therefore, among them, will
be able to plead ignorance of any truth--any duty--any danger--any
promise--the knowledge of which could essentially affect their eternal
salvation? True, they may never have opened the Bible, or have refused
to believe it, or have despised and rejected its warnings, counsels,
and reproofs; but the Bible was nevertheless given them, and their
very ignorance may be their crime. Or, if not ignorant, but only
"hating knowledge," and "not choosing the fear of the Lord,"--their
condemnation is, that they preferred the darkness to the light,
because their deeds were evil? Oh, what a witness will that Book be
against the slothful, the wilfully ignorant and unbelieving!

Are these sources of evidence not sufficient wherewith to determine,
to the conviction of the universe, each man's character at the
judgment of the great day? Should more be required, many other
witnesses may be summoned, if necessary, before the white throne.
Satan and wicked spirits are ready to accuse the sinner, and to prove
how he yielded to temptation, became habit and repute in sin, and a
willing and active instrument for destroying others. True, Satan is a
liar; but is this testimony a lie? Can these accusations, if false,
be disproved? Can Christ be appealed to either as to their falsehood,
or for exculpatory evidences of genuine repentance or new life? And
holy angels, too, are there, who will be able to testify as to whether
this man ever gave them joy as a true penitent, was the object of
their ministrations as an heir of salvation, or known to them as a
fellow-worker in Christ's kingdom upon earth. Relations, friends,
neighbours, church-members, are also there to tell, at Christ's
bidding, what was the manner of his life in the family, in society, or
in the "household of God." What has this man as a father, husband, or
child, done? What example did he set? What temper and conduct did he
manifest at home? What was his influence as a companion? Did he
lead to hell or heaven? What did Christians find him to be as a
fellow-Christian? Was he cruel and covetous, slothful and indifferent,
uncharitable and censorious; or loving, zealous, and self-denying,
the author of peace and lover of concord, a friend and brother? Oh!
surely, even now we can easily see how there can be no want of means
at the great day of judgment, by which, without any revelation from
the unerring and all-seeing Judge himself, each man's character may be
searched and known to its inmost depths, and in all its minute details
be revealed.

And now, reader, before we proceed, let us here entreat of you to
examine your present life. We ask, whether you think it possible that
it can afford any evidence upon that day of sincere love to Jesus
Christ?--anything which can warrant the Judge to say to you, "Well
done, good and faithful servant?"--anything in your aims, wishes,
purposes, pursuits, endeavours, which evidence the existence in the
least degree of that kind of life which is the result of being born
and sanctified by God's Spirit, and cannot otherwise be accounted for?

How many shrink from that examination now, which must take place
then! But is it not wiser to know your sins, and see your danger
now, when the one can be pardoned, and the other averted, than, for
the first time, to awake to a sense of both, when your sins can never
more, as far as man can discover, be removed, and your danger, if
real, must end in ruin? We have many foreshadowings of judgment
revealed to us by Christ; and we have the unavailing pleadings of
those who desire to be recognised as among His friends. "Lord,
Lord!" cry some, "open to us!" These are not infidels, but professed
believers in Christ's supreme authority. "Lord, hast thou not taught
in our streets?--open to us!" is the plea of those who heard the truth
spoken, it may be by Jesus personally; of those, at least, who had
the privilege, and did not neglect it, of hearing the word preached.
"Lord, have we not eaten and drunk in thy presence?--open to us!"
appears to others sufficient evidence of friendship for the Redeemer,
and such as might be urged by those who followed Him in Judea, and
saw His person, heard His words, yea, sat at meat with Him as "His
familiar friends." "Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in
thy name cast out devils, and done many wonderful works?--open to us!"
Thus could Judas have pleaded; and many a man, perhaps, who had the
gift of miracles without the grace of God; or many more who have had
rare gifts of talent, genius, eloquence, which have done good to
others, in spite of their own selfish motives; and who, by many
wonderful works, have cast out "evil possessions" of wicked principles
and practices from others, while evil, nevertheless, possessed
themselves. And with as imposing claims many too may seek admittance
to God's kingdom, because they "gave their goods to feed the poor, or
their bodies to be burned." Yet, to each and all such pleadings, Jesus
represents himself as saying, "I know you not! Depart from me, all ye
workers of iniquity!" But if so, we ask you, reader, what evidence of
Christian life can you adduce better or more satisfactory than all
this? Nothing, be assured, will be accepted which does not prove a
right spirit, or, in other words, the existence in the soul of love
to Jesus Christ in some form or other. "LOVEST THOU ME?" will be the
grand question, the truthful reply to which will determine our real
state on that great day. Hence, while the evidence of doing wonderful
works, or of giving our body to be burned, is rejected as worthless,
inasmuch as the one proves only the existence of power, and the other
of what may be but a sacrifice to self, and not to the Saviour,--yet
the gift of a cup of cold water to a disciple for the sake of the
Master, will suffice to open the doors of heaven, because affording
evidence of the heart which loves Jesus, and for which heaven has been
prepared. "Come, ye blessed of my Father! Inasmuch as ye have done it
unto the least of my disciples, ye have done it unto me!" "If any man
love not the Lord Jesus Christ; let him be accursed!"

We need not add that we have assumed that the persons thus judged have
had full opportunities of knowing and serving Jesus as their Lord.


What shall the results be of such a searching, impartial, and
conclusive investigation into the history of mankind? Some of these we
may, perhaps, be permitted to anticipate.

The proceedings of the day of judgment will answer all the
accusations of Christ's enemies.

The government of Jesus Christ is hated and opposed here. This fact,
alas! in human history, cannot be denied. We do not speak of Satan and
his angels, who war against the Lord, nor even of His unconscious foes
among the heathen; but only of those men who possess the Bible, and
all the means of knowing the will of their Divine King. Yet how many
among them are His open and avowed enemies. There is not one feature
of His character which men do not blaspheme,--not one act of His
government at which they do not cavil. He is alleged to be unrighteous
in His commands; unfair in His treatment of mankind; unwise in
His arrangements; unfaithful in His words; and even vindictive,
unmerciful, implacable in His judgments, and in no respect worthy
of man's love and obedience. Jesus of Nazareth--believed in by the
Church, known and loved by all its living members--is still "despised
and rejected of men." Nor are His enemies ashamed to speak out their
thoughts, and openly to scorn and ridicule Him; asserting that He has
no right to govern them or the world,--and thus "denying the Lord that
bought them." Now, as on the day of His crucifixion, a rabble of all
ranks, talents, and professions, cry, "Away with this fellow;" while
they demand in His stead some Barabbas "hero" of their own to worship.
There is often manifested an opposition to Christianity which assumes
the aspect of personal hatred. We do not at all allude in these pages
to the sincere, reverential man, who doubts, questions, argues,
opposes, sifts, denies, rejects, while endeavouring, with an honest
mind, to discover and believe the truth, whatever that may be; nor
to the sadness of spirit of one who wishes "the glad tidings" to be
true, but cannot arrive at a conclusion so desirable for his own good
and peace, as well as for that of society; nor to the effects of a
peculiar constitutional temperament which has a tendency first to
doubt and invest everything with darkness, and then endeavours in
vain to dispel what itself creates. But when we speak of infidels and
unbelievers, we speak of ungodly men who dislike the truth of God,
and who manifest this dislike in their triumph when any supposed error
in the life or the doctrines of Jesus Christ is detected, or any evil
(for which He is held responsible) is exposed in His followers, and
who keep an ample mantle of charity for those who disbelieve, but none
for those who believe in Jesus Christ as their only Saviour.

This opposition to the government of God through Jesus Christ has not
been a temporary outburst by a few only. The kingdom of Satan has
existed here since the fall of man, side by side with Christ's
kingdom, and opposed it in every age and clime. The kingdom of
holiness and peace has never entered the soul of any living man,
without first meeting, and then overcoming, enmity and ill-will by the
power of truth and love. It has never entered a single country on the
surface of the globe without terrible combats being fought again and
again, in which the best soldiers and noblest subjects of the Great
King have "had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover,
of bonds and imprisonments." "We will not have the Lord to reign over
us!" has been everywhere the awful battle-cry; and the conflict rages
now as fiercely as it did in any age of the world! Nor, moreover,
has this opposition been given by uncivilised savages; but men of
knowledge and of genius have dedicated all the powers of their mind to
the dread task of ridding the world of the Redeemer's sceptre. What
they have thought, they have spoken; what they have spoken, they have
written and recorded in books, that their influence might extend
beyond their own immediate circle and their own time, and that other
nations and other generations might know what they thought of the
Saviour,--how sincerely they themselves despised and rejected Him, and
desired all others to do the same. What is every infidel publication
but an accusation against Jesus Christ, a protest against His
government, and an attempt to rouse the world to join in the
rebellion? "They take counsel together against the Lord and his
Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away
their cords from us!"

And this hatred to Christ will continue till the end of the world: for
we read, that "in the last days will come scoffers." Nay, it
is quite possible that accusations against Him are, and shall be,
maintained by the wicked up till the very hour of judgment. For, even
as the criminal before his trial will feed his pride, and soothe his
conscience, by denying every charge alleged against him, or by blaming
every one but himself; so it may be that the wicked, after death, will
continue to cast the blame upon the Saviour, for all they are and have
been, even when they can no longer doubt the reality of His existence
or government.

And will Jesus ever answer those accusations? Why should He? you
perhaps exclaim. His character, you say, cannot be affected in
the estimation of the good by anything which the enemies of all
righteousness can urge against it. His throne can no more be shaken by
the puny attacks of men or devils than the everlasting mountains can
be disturbed by the storm-blasts which howl around them. What more,
then, is needed, than to shut up the wicked in a prison-house, through
whose adamantine walls the accusing cry can never pierce, and whose
doors are for ever barred by the holy decree of the Almighty? Ah! were
it so, even this thought might possibly gratify pride and enmity,
could a condemned, though not judged spirit for ever carry with
it a conviction of having waged a war in which power alone had
conquered weakness, and might trampled upon right; and that all its
charges remained unanswered and unanswerable! But let no one presume
upon this. It is true that Jesus Christ now, as when on earth He stood
before His enemies, "answers nothing." Do not misunderstand this awful
silence! You "marvel greatly" that He works no miracle to satisfy your
doubts, or you deny His power of doing so, and therefore you imagine,
that because He replies not to your accusations, He either hears them
not, cares not for them, or cannot meet them. But be assured, a day is
appointed when the question between you and Him will be fairly tried.
Unbelievers of all ranks, and whatever be their ability, will have
an opportunity of re-stating their case, and of proving the truth
of their accusations--if they can. Let none suppose that Jesus will
shrink from such an investigation. Every utterance is reported for
review at judgment; every book is kept for that day. It is not the
method of the divine government to put down its enemies by mere
physical power, as if the question between God and man was indeed one
of strength and weakness, and not rather of right and wrong. The Lord
will indeed answer his enemies; but He will do so by the irresistible
power of truth, and the omnipotent force of righteousness. He will
crush and overwhelm them; but it will be in their own conscience, and
in their own estimation. He will expel them from whatever refuge of
lies they may vainly attempt to seek for shelter, and expose them to
the full blaze of principle, until their inmost souls echo the dread
sentence of "GUILTY," which must be pronounced upon them, while they
stand "speechless" amidst the assembled universe, and before the
omniscient and holy Judge of all the earth. "He is coming with ten
thousand of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to CONVINCE
all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they
have ungodly committed, and of all their HARD SPEECHES which ungodly
sinners have spoken against Him!"

Do we address one who is a professed unbeliever in the truth, or
rather, who "believes a lie,"--that there is no Saviour? We ask such
a one to consider what the certain, or even probable consequences
will be to him, if all we have said is nevertheless true? What if you
shall see Jesus Christ face to face, and have your whole outer and
inner history, as it is known to God, minutely revealed to your own
mind, and to the assembled jury of the universe? Will your thinking,
or saying, that the whole is a fiction, make it so? Will your scoff at
God's revelation of the future prevent the dead from rising, or the
Judge from appearing? Will a foolish jest, or a proud callousness, or
a subtle argument, or a brave indifference to what others fear, enable
you, on the resurrection morning, to shut your ears against the sound
of the last trump, or to disobey the summons of the Son of God to rise
from the tomb, and to appear before Him? And if no unbelief can change
the will of God, or make that false which He proclaims to be true, nor
alter His prescribed order in things to come, no more than it can do
His present order in the starry heavens,--what can you say to Jesus
Christ in your own defence? How can you, in consistency with His Word,
so justify your own opinions and conduct, as to make it possible for
Him to say to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into
the joy of thy Lord?" But, blessed be God! the same Word of truth
which condemns the sinner, and shuts out all hope of safety to him,
while in his state of unbelief and ungodliness, invites him, and
commands him, to come out of that state, and to share the life which
is in Christ for every man. We cannot repeat it too often that Jesus
offers immediate pardon and life through faith in His blood, to the
chief of sinners--to the oldest and most bitter enemy which He has
upon earth! Jesus offers His Spirit to every man, to enlighten
his understanding, renew his will, and spiritualise his taste and
affections, and shed abroad the love of God in his heart; so that even
thou, whoever thou art, mayest yet love, and be loved by, Jesus Christ
and His saints for ever and ever! "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,
and THOU shalt be saved!" But should His long-suffering patience,
and abundant mercy, and rich love, fail to gain your heart,--should
you "prefer darkness to light," and "remain in unbelief," and live
and die without Him,--how can you escape? Is it not righteous that you
should walk in the darkness which you love, and be separated from your
Saviour and His people, whom you dislike, and be permitted "to eat of
the fruit of your own way, and be filled with your own devices?"
On "the great and terrible day of the Lord," you will, alas! be
"convinced" that the sentence pronounced upon you by the Saviour, of
"Depart from me!" is but an echo of what your own heart is now saying
to Him! Hear, I beseech you, the words of warning which God now
addresses to you, in order that you may, in time, "flee from the wrath
to come!" "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the
knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation,
which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law
died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer
punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden
under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant,
wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite
unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance
belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The
Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the
hands of the living God," (Heb. x. 26-31.)

But let us further inquire, What shall be its results with reference
to the righteous?

1. The righteous will then fully understand the excellence of Christ's
government over themselves.

How profoundly mysterious, as yet, to ourselves, is our own individual
history! If we attempt to gather up the past, and to trace the whole
way along which we have journeyed, with the innumerable windings of
the path, and all the dark valleys through which it has led, the
rugged places it has passed over, or the many lofty hills up which it
has ascended,--how endless, how perplexing does it appear! If, again,
we try to measure the various powers which have helped to make us what
we are, or to weigh the number and relative importance of all the
things which have combined to produce the present result of character
within, and of circumstances without us,--how soon are we lost amidst
the mass of the infinite items which make up the sum of even our
little history. How inadequate are all our attempts to solve the
problems without number which every year suggests. Why, for example,
has this or that happened? Wherefore this sorrow or that joy?--why
such changes of place or of fortune?--why the loss of old friends or
the gift of new ones?--why--But the questions are endless, and
never can be answered till judgment. It is true, that we are often
privileged to see very clearly the reason of many of Christ's
dealings with us here. He shews us His ways as well as His
acts--treating us as "friends" who "know what their Lord doeth." The
wheel of Providence often makes its revolutions in so short a period
that we see the whole movement. It was thus in the case of Abraham.
The mystery of God's command was resolved after three days on Mount
Moriah. Thus, too, the darkness of family grief and of a distant
Saviour, which brooded over the household of Bethany, was dispelled,
and vanished before bright sunshine, at the cry, "Lazarus, come
forth!" But it is not always thus; and though it would be so more
frequently if we waited more patiently upon God and considered His
ways, yet, at best, but a small fraction of our life is understood
here. Moreover, our own history is so interlaced with the history of
others, that what is more properly theirs, in some degree is ours
also. Can Moses, for instance, yet fully comprehend his own life in
its relation to the Jewish nation, whose fate is still involved in
darkness? Can any one of the saints of old, whose deeds and words are
recorded in God's Book, and are telling every day and hour upon the
history of mankind, and must continue to do so till time shall be no
more, comprehend what they really have done on earth? Must not the end
of all things come before they understand the place and the work their
Lord assigned to them? And so is it with the humblest believer. He
is a part of a great whole; and to understand how Jesus has governed
Himself as a part, he must be able to see his own life in relation to
the great whole. But each Christian who has walked by faith, and held
fast his confidence in Christ, will then also have revealed how the
Lord has governed him, and all that He has done to him and for him,
and what He has enabled him to be and to do on earth. The sackcloth
and ashes of every patient Job will be turned into garments of
praise; and the lamentations of every mourning Jeremiah into songs of
gladness: and in adoring wonder and unutterable joy, every head will
be bowed down, every crown cast at Christ's feet, and every heart
will feel, and mouth confess, "He hath done all things well!" What an
amazing disclosure will this be of the wisdom and love with which our
gracious Lord has assigned to each servant his lot,--given to each
"his work," and so prepared all things for him in the world, and so
made all things work together for his good, that "the fruit has been
holiness, and the end everlasting life!"

2. But the Christian will also behold at judgment the excellence of
Christ's government over others, and over the whole world.

If we are such mysteries to ourselves, and if we cannot as yet truly
write our own biographies, how much more perplexing to us is the
personal history of any other in his relation to the Redeemer! How
impossible to discover the reasons of all, or of any, of Christ's
providential dealings with him, or to read aright any one day in his
life! Was it possible for Job's friends to interpret, at the time,
Job's sufferings? God alone could have corrected Jacob when, in the
dark night of his sorrow, yet just before the daybreak of his joy
in Egypt, he cried, "Joseph is not, Simeon is not, and will ye take
Benjamin away?--all these things are against me!" Daniel in the
lions' den, or the three young men in the furnace, with a wicked king
in peace upon the throne; John the Baptist in the dungeon, with Herod
in the banquet hall; Stephen falling asleep beneath the shower of
cruel stones, and Saul gazing complacently at the murderers' clothes
laid at his feet:--these, and a thousand other such incidents in human
history, are, to beholders, involved in a portion of that darkness
which hung over the cross of Christ itself, at the time, a mystery of
mysteries to all who witnessed its agonies! But when, from the history
of persons, we rise to the contemplation of the history of cities,
countries, and nations; or ascend to a still higher region in order to
take in, if possible, the history of the human race from age to age;
and to comprehend what Jesus Christ has done for it, and how He
has governed it,--how much more profound is the darkness! If, for
instance, we endeavour to form any estimate of the effect which has
been produced upon the character and destiny of mankind by the present
structure of the physical earth, with its mountains, seas, rivers,
winds, and climate--the house which Jesus Christ has built and
furnished for His creatures; by the famines and pestilences, wars and
conquests, migrations and settlements, arising out of circumstances
more or less controlling man, and beyond his will; as well as by all
that has come, as it were, directly from Jesus, through His Church,
from Eden till this present hour;--how infinite to us is the field
of observation! "O the depth of the riches both of the knowledge and
wisdom of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past
finding out!" We gaze upon those majestic wheels of His providence,
some of which take whole cycles to revolve, and "their wings are so
high, that they are dreadful!" It is so, for example, with the history
of Israel, which, commencing with Abraham, when earth was young, four
thousand years ago, is still moving on as a distinct stream flowing
amidst the waters of the great ocean, yet never mingling with them,
though nearing the unfathomable gulf where all is still.

But "what we know not now, we shall know hereafter," upon the great
"day of the revelation of Jesus Christ," when, in the light of
unerring truth, the history of each man, and of the whole race, will
be seen, and for the first time understood. "Now we know in part, but
then we shall know even as we are known." Every question which here
perplexes or pains the thoughtful and conscientious inquirer, will be
fully answered. The secret and hitherto hidden springs of actions will
be laid bare, and their remotest results disclosed. We shall apprehend
the real life--the true philosophy--of history. Then will the
government of Jesus Christ over the whole family of man, and every
individual member of it, be seen--what it has always by His Church
believed--to have been one of righteousness, wisdom, and love.

3. Need I add, as the last grand result of judgment, that the Triune
God will be glorified?

God the Father will be glorified! The prayer of Christ shall then
be fulfilled: "Father, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify
thee!" The doxology of the apostle will be realised: "To him be glory
by the Church through Christ Jesus throughout all ages!" That glory
will be seen in His having committed the government of the world to
Jesus Christ. Then will be understood, as it never was before, how
"God so loved the world in giving His only-begotten Son" to be its
Creator and Governor, and the Prophet, Priest, and King of His Church.

God the Son will be glorified! Every event and act in His great
mediatorial kingdom will shew the grandeur of His character. The whole
world's history will be as a mirror, full of the light of this Sun of
Righteousness,--reflecting the greatness of His power, the depths of
His wisdom, the beauty of His holiness, and the riches of His grace.
He will "be glorified, too, in His saints." Each believer will not
only be a living monument of what Christ has done, but, as a child
of God, will also be in his character an image of what Christ the
first-born is!

God the Spirit will be glorified when the results are made manifest
of all He has done for and in the Church, and of all which men have
received from this Teacher, Sanctifier, and Comforter! If many will
have cause to mourn upon that day because they have resisted and
grieved Him by their wilful impenitency and wickedness, what a
multitude, greater than any man can number, will adore Him for the
spiritual ignorance in the ways of God which He dispelled,--the
all-sufficient strength for duty and trial, for life and death,
which He imparted,--the holy love which He shed abroad upon their
hearts,--the good fruit which by His aid they produced in their
lives,--the calm peace which He gave to their consciences,--the
prayers heard and answered by God which He prompted,--and the joy
unspeakable to which He often raised their souls!

Thus will the proceedings of the great day of judgment, without one
single exception, reveal to the intelligent universe the glory of
God,--Father, Son, and Spirit,--as displayed in the government of the
world through Jesus Christ.

Oh, how can we form an adequate conception of the overpowering effect
which the revelations of this eventful period in the history of the
universe must necessarily produce upon the saints and just men made
perfect, and upon the innumerable company of angels, who, with intense
interest and profound intelligence, watch the proceedings before the
immaculate throne of the Son of man! As age after age passes in
solemn review, and as each succeeding era, beneath the light of
investigation, emerges out of the darkness in which it had hitherto
been wrapped,--as city after city, and kingdom after kingdom, from
their early beginnings, onwards through centuries of advancement in
power and influence, till their final silence in the dust, are all
reproduced in their living reality,--we may conceive how the awful
interest in the world's trial must deepen itself in every bosom, and
intelligent eyes must gleam with a brighter intelligence, and admiring
souls burn with a profounder and holier admiration, as they are
enabled to perceive how, over all this earth, to them hitherto so dark
and cloudy, Jesus had ever reigned with unclouded splendour, as the
sun reigns in the calm heavens, and pours down his beams of light from
a region far above the tempestuous sky. And we can, in some degree,
conceive how their lips should ever and anon give birth to accents of
heartfelt praise, as a deep moral order and beauty are seen growing
up, evolving out of the chaos of history, even as a holy temple might
rear itself from what seemed to the eye of sense to be the very "lines
of confusion, and stones of emptiness." We can imagine, too, when this
long day of wondrous disclosures is about to terminate, and its sun to
set for ever over the old order of things, how the joy of this great
assemblage should reach at last its climax, and have a fulness of
glory in it never before experienced; until, as judgment ended, and
the whole government of their blessed Lord was disclosed, their sense
of the grandeur and infinite majesty of His character and ways should
be such as to call forth from ten thousand times ten thousand ecstatic
souls, as the grand verdict of the universe, those bursts of praise:
"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and
wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." "Great and
marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy
ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and
glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come
and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest."

Such are a few of the more obvious results of a day of judgment. But
who will dare to deny that these may possibly be extended to other
worlds and other orders of beings, and be made influential for the
good and happiness of the universe throughout limitless ages, and be
the means of impressing unfallen yet peaceable creatures, with a more
profound sense of the glory of God and the unchangeableness of His
government? We ourselves possess an experience somewhat analogous to
this, in the fact of God's righteous dealings with another order
of beings--the fallen angels--having been revealed to us for our
instruction and warning; and thus, for aught we know, the transactions
of the coming day of judgment may, in whole or in part, form such a
living record of God's government by Jesus Christ, as may be revealed
to millions, of whose existence and circumstances we are as yet
ignorant, and be to them for ever as a great Bible, for their warning,
comfort, and instruction in righteousness.

We have now brought our thoughts upon "judgment" to a conclusion. May
they suggest others more worthy of the theme to all who may peruse
them! We have tried to view it in the light of Scripture statement;
yet feeling deeply conscious of how dimly and inadequately we perceive
and judge of the awful future; of God's relationship to the human
family; and of the manner in which the only wise and merciful God will
apply the eternal principles of justice (which is but love dealing
with sin) to the infinite varieties of human character, or to the
circumstances of each human being. Questions innumerable suggest
themselves, which we cannot answer now, but which will be answered
then, regarding the heathen, and regarding millions who have lived and
died without knowing or loving Jesus Christ; doubtless we shall all
then be amazed at our own ignorance and sin, and overwhelmed by the
majestic glory and excellence of God in Christ. But whatever the
results of that day may be, one thing is certain, that they will
afford satisfaction and joy unutterable to just and good men, yea, to
every human being who has any real sympathy with Him whose "name is

But let us never forget that every day of our lives is a day of
judgment, in which Christ is searching our hearts and judging our
lives, condemning the evil and blessing the good, and seeking to
separate the one from the other. If we are able to welcome Him as our
judge and deliverer in our present day, we shall be able to do so also
on "the last day."

I conclude with these words:--

"For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every
one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath
done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the
Lord, we persuade men."

"And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be
the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the
Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known
and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that
dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love
made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment:
because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love;
but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that
feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him because he first
loved us."

"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake
you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of
the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us
not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that
sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in
the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on
the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of
salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain
salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether
we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort
yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."

"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep
his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall
bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be
good, or whether it be evil."


It is obviously impossible to treat a subject so vast and so
profoundly interesting as this within the limits of a Parish Paper,
except in the most cursory and superficial manner. Yet I am induced to
make the attempt, in order, if possible, to impress my readers with
such ideas of our life in heaven as are more in accordance with the
nature of man and the Word of God, than, I am inclined to think,
obtain among many sincere Christians, who accordingly are deprived of
encouragements in duty, comforts in sorrow, and bright hopes to cheer
them amid the world's darkness, which they might otherwise possess.

Let us inquire, then, in what shall consist the believer's happiness
in God's presence.

Now, it will greatly aid us in answering this question regarding our
true life in eternity, if we first consider what constitutes our true
life in time, or what would constitute our perfect happiness now, if
in the full enjoyment of all our mental and bodily powers, and if, in
the best possible circumstances, we perfectly fulfilled upon earth
God's purpose in our creation.

In endeavouring to solve this question, I remark that our perfection
consists in the gratification of every part of our many-sided nature.
Thus, for instance, enjoyment might be derived through our senses,
though the intellect was comparatively weak, and our moral being
depraved; or from the exercise of our intellectual or spiritual
nature, while the body suffered from pain: or delight might be poured
through all those channels, but yet if we were doomed to be solitary
beings, without any companion or friend with whom to communicate or
share our gladness, or were prevented from expressing our thoughts and
desires by action, the result in either of these supposed cases would
not be perfect happiness. But, on the other hand, if we can imagine a
man with his whole nature in a state of perfect health, each portion
demanding and obtaining its appropriate nourishment, and with all his
powers beautifully balanced and in perfect harmony with the plan of
God, "according to the effectual working of the measure in every
part,"--the senses ministering to the most refined tastes,--the
intellect full of light in the apprehension of truth, and strong
in its discovery,--the moral being possessing perfect holiness and
unerring subjection to the will of God,--the love of society able
to rest upon fitting objects, and to find a fall return for its
sympathies in suitable companionships, while ample scope was afforded
for activity by congenial labour;--then would such a state be
perfection or fulness of joy in God's presence here below. I do not,
of course, allege that every part of our being has the same capacity
to afford us joy, or that the flood can pour itself into the soul with
the same fulness through each of these channels, as if, for instance,
we depended in the same degree for enjoyment upon our sentient as we
do upon our intellectual or moral nature. All I mean to assert is,
that whatever proportion may come through each, God has so made us,
that perfect joy is derived only through all. Such is man's actual
constitution as he came from the hands of his Maker; and such would
have been his happiness had he remained unfallen. Placed, as Adam was,
in a material world so rich in sources of physical happiness, with
an intellect capable of unlocking the countless treasures of
science,--with a nature pure and spotless, delighting in the excellent
God,--with society begun with woman as a helpmeet for him, and
with the active labour required "to dress and keep" his earthly
paradise,--he possessed, in such perfect adaptations, a heaven upon
earth. And had perfect man been translated to another region, we
cannot conceive his joy thereby to become essentially different in
kind, though different in degree, supposing him to remain the same
being, and to possess the same human nature. Now, man's fall has not
altered this principle. Sin is a perversion of human nature, not its
annihilation; a disorder of its powers, not their destruction. Nor is
restoration by Jesus Christ the gift of a different constitution, as
if He made us something else than human beings, but the renovation of
the old constitution after its original type. It is making the "old
man," diseased, bent down, paralysed, deaf, blind, the "new man," with
frame erect, limbs strong, eyes and ears open, and all his powers
fresh and vigorous for immortality; and, therefore, that which would
constitute the happiness of man were he perfect on earth, will be
his happiness, though in a higher degree, when he is made perfect in
heaven. This supposition, I repeat, only assumes the fact that we
shall be the same persons for ever; that human nature will never
cease to be human nature, or be changed into a different species of
existence, no more than Jesus Christ, the Head of His Church, will
ever cease to be what He is--"the man Christ Jesus," with a human
body and a human soul, "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever."

There is another way in which I might describe the nature of our
future life, although I shall base my remarks on the principles now
stated. We must admit that the perfection of our being is fellowship
with God the Father in the possession of that spirit of son-ship which
was revealed in Jesus Christ the Son of God and the Son of man. This,
and this alone, must insure fellowship with Him in His character and
joy. We shall consequently rejoice in all that He rejoices in--as far
as this is possible for creatures. Thus, if He rejoices in the glory
of His own Being, as Father, Son, and Spirit, so shall we; if He
rejoices in all His works, so shall we; if He rejoices in what He
does, in what He knows, in what He purposes, so shall we; if He
rejoices in the communion of holy and happy men and angels, so shall
we. In one word, if "our chief end is to glorify God," when that
end is fulfilled, we shall "enjoy Him for ever." And this was our
Saviour's prayer when He said, "The glory Thou hast given me I have
given them, that we may be one!"

But as those two lines of thought would lead practically to the same
conclusion, it seems to me that the nature of our future life will be
best understood by most of my readers if I endeavour to shew "what we
shall be," according to the arrangement already proposed.

Let us, then, meditate on the glorious supply which God has provided
for filling up every part of this our complex nature in heaven.



Speaking of the materialism of heaven, Dr Chalmers truly says:--"The
common imagination that many have of paradise on the other side of
death, is that of a lofty, aerial region where the inmates float on
ether, or are mysteriously suspended upon nothing; where all the warm
and felt accompaniments which give such an expression of strength, and
life, and colour to our present habitation, are attenuated into a sort
of spiritual element, that is meagre, and imperceptible, and wholly
uninviting to the eye of mortals here below; where every vestige of
materialism is done away with, and nothing left but certain unearthly
scenes that have no power of allurement, and certain unearthly
ecstasies with which it is impossible to sympathise," The
sensitiveness with which many thus shrink from almost alluding to the
physical element of enjoyment in heaven, because it is unworthy to be
compared with the spiritual glory that is to be revealed, arises, no
doubt, from the half suspicion that there is some necessary connexion
between materialism and sin; thus forgetting that the body, and the
outward world which ministers to it, are God's handiworks as well as
the soul; and that it is He himself who has adjusted their relative
workings. And surely it is quite unnecessary to remind you at any
length how exquisitely God has fashioned our physical frame, as the
medium of communication with the outer material world. The nostrils
inhale the sweet perfumes which scent the breezy air, and rise as
incense from the flowers that cover the earth. By the eye the soul
perceives the glories of the summer sky, and searches for its midnight
stars; recognises splendour of colour, and beauty of form; gazes
on the outspread landscape of fertile field and hoary mountain, of
stream, forest, ocean, and island; and contemplates that world of
profounder interest still, the human countenance, of beloved parent,
child, or friend, strong with the power of elevated thought, sublime
with the grandeur of moral character, or bright with all the sunshine
of winning emotion. The ear, too, is the magic instrument which
conveys to the soul all the varied harmonies of sound, from the choirs
of spring, and the other innumerable minstrelsies of nature, as well
as from the higher art of man, that soothe, elevate, and solemnise. It
is true, indeed, that there are grosser appetites of the body which
many pervert so as to enslave the spirit; thus abusing by gluttony,
drunkenness, and every form of sensuality, what God the merciful and
wise has intrusted to man to be used for wise and merciful ends. But
even here there is already perceptible a marked difference between
those appetites and the more refined tastes alluded to; inasmuch
as the former are found in their abuse to be, strictly speaking,
unnatural, and destructive of man's happiness; and even in their
legitimate use they decay with advancing years, thus proving that
the stamp of time is upon them as on things belonging to a temporary
economy; whereas such tastes as those that enjoy the beautiful in
nature or in art, for example, abide in old age with a youthful
freshness, and more than a youthful niceness of discernment; and so
afford a presumption that they are destined for immortality. To the
aged saint "the trees clap their hands, the little hills rejoice, and
the mountains break forth into singing;" and when the earth is empty
of every other sentient pleasure, it is in the beauty of its sights
and sounds, still full to him of the glory of his God.

And so must it be for ever! The glorified saint is not "unclothed,"
but "clothed upon." He inhabits "a house not made with hands, eternal
in the heavens." The future body is called a "spiritual body" to
express, I presume, its pure and immortal essence; for though it will
be somehow related to the present body,--as the risen is related to
the sown grain which has perished through corruption,--it must be
changed into a new and higher form. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit
the kingdom of God." "We shall all be changed." "He shall change our
vile bodies, and fashion them like to His own glorious body." It is in
this new body, once sown in weakness, corruption, and mortality, but
raised at length in power, incorruption, and immortality, no more to
suffer, and no more to die, that we shall tread upon the new earth,
gaze on the new heavens, and walk in the paradise of our God.

And who can tell what sources of refined enjoyment, through the medium
of the spiritual body, are in store for us in God's great palace of
art, with its endless mansions and endless displays of glory! Well may
we say of such anticipated pleasures what good Izaak Walton says of
the singing of birds: "Lord, if Thou hast provided such music for
sinners on earth, what hast Thou in store for Thy saints in heaven!"
For if this little spot of earth is full of scenes of loveliness to us
inexhaustible; if, contemplating these in a body buoyant with health
and strength, we feel it is joy even to live and breathe; and if when,
seeing God in them all, the expression of praise rises to the lips,
"Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast Thou made them all:
the earth is full of Thy riches!"--oh, what visions of glory may be
spread before the wondering eye throughout the vast extent of the
material universe, comprehending those immense worlds which twinkle
only in the field of the largest telescope, and vanish into the far
distance in endless succession; and what sounds may greet the ear from
the as yet unheard music of those spheres; while, for aught we know,
other means of communication may be opened up to us, with objects
ministering delight to new tastes; and sources of sentient enjoyment
discovered which do not exist here, or elude the perception of our
present senses. Add to all this our deliverance from those physical
evils and defects which are now the causes of so much pain, and
clog so terribly the aspiring soul. For how affected are we by the
slightest disorganisation of our bodily frame! A disturbance in some
of the finer parts of its machinery, which no science can discover or
rectify; a delicate fibre shadowed by a cloud passing over the sun; or
a nerve chilled by a lowering of the temperature of the atmosphere,
will tell on the most genial temper, relax the strongest intellect,
and dim the brightest imagination; while other physical causes, quite
as mysterious, can make reason reel and lunacy become ascendant. The
very infirmities of old age; the constant toil required to satisfy
our cravings for food and raiment; the wounds and bruises the body
receives, and which agonise it, and the deformity which so often
disfigures it, cramping the spirit within a narrow and iron
prison-house--these form a terrible deduction from that joy which we
are capable of deriving even now through the medium of our physical
organisation. Such evils cannot here be rectified. They are the
immediate, or more remote consequences of man's iniquity; and under
Christ belong to that education by which bodily suffering is made the
means of disciplining the soul for immortality. But in the new heavens
and the new earth the body will no longer experience fatigue in
labour, or be subject to hurtful influences from the elements, nor
ever grow old; but be glorious and beautiful as the risen body of
Jesus Christ! "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and
there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither
shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
I wonder not, indeed, that Paul should exclaim along with those who
had the first-fruits of the Spirit, "Even we ourselves groan within
ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our

With these bright hopes let us who are now alive seek to glorify God
in the body which is to be glorified together with Christ. "The body
is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body." "Know ye not that your
bodies are the members of Christ?" "Know ye not that your bodies are
temples of the Holy Ghost? If any man defile that temple, him will God
destroy." "When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye
also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which
are upon the earth." Let us honour the body as a holy thing; and
beware how we put the chains of slavery upon it, or from our
selfishness expose it to hunger and nakedness. Let us endeavour even
to make art, that ministers to our sense of the beautiful, minister
also to our sense of the true and good; and ever speak to us of God
as seen in His works; or in "His ways among the children of men." And
finally, as we contemplate the body of a departed saint, let us behold
it in the light of this revelation. Let the grave in which it lies
no longer be associated in our thoughts with the worm and corruption
only, and with all the sad memorials and revolting symbols of
mortality. Let the voice of Him who is the resurrection and the life
be heard in the breeze that bends the grass which waves over it, and
His quickening energy be seen in the beauteous sun which shines upon
it; and while we hear the cry, "Dust to dust," let us remember that
the "very dust to Him is dear;" and that when He appears in His glory,
He will repair and rebuild that ruined temple, and fashion it in glory
and in beauty like His own!



Let us consider the joy which God has provided for our intellects
during our immortal life in heaven.

There are many dear saints of God who have little sympathy with those
who associate happiness with the pursuit or possession of intellectual
truth. These persons, perhaps, have had themselves such weak
intellectual capacities, as made the acquisition of knowledge
impossible for them beyond its simplest elements; or their minds
have been stunted in early years from want of education; or in the
providence of God they have been made "hewers of wood and drawers of
water," rather than intellectual princes among the people. Yet let
none of us who are so ignorant, and who as yet think and speak like
children, be discouraged by a conscious sense of our weak intellectual
grasp and scanty information; but rather rejoice with Christ in
the dispensation by which God reveals Himself not to talent but to
goodness; not to the giant intellect but to the babe-like spirit: "I
thank thee, O Father, that thou hast hid these things from the wise
and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes!"

God has, nevertheless, made the acquisition of truth by the intellect
a source of supreme delight. You well know how every field in nature
has been searched, and every quarter of the globe ransacked, and many
days and nights of patient intellectual toil consumed by men who have
endured incredible labour, supported by no other motive than their
love of knowledge. The immediate joy which is experienced by a great
discoverer when a new fact or truth flashes on his mind is to others
almost inconceivable. We read that when Newton, after years of
difficulty, was just about to step on the summit of that mountain from
which he knew he was to hear such intellectual music as never before
had sounded in the mind of man, and to catch a glimpse of the
hitherto unseen glory of that new ocean of truth which he alone had

"He was the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea!"--

his joy was so great that he was overcome by his emotions, and wept!
This passion of acquiring knowledge is not the least remarkable fact
recorded of Solomon. We are told that "he spake of trees, and of
beasts, and of creeping things." He himself says of God, "He hath made
things beautiful in time: also He hath put it into man's heart to
survey the world, and to find out the work that God maketh from the
beginning to the end." "When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and
to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is
that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:) then I beheld
all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done
under the sun; because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he
shall not find it; yea, though a wise man think to know it, yet shall
he not be able to find it." There was in all this no doubt "vanity and
vexation of spirit," for the attempt was vain to find satisfaction
for the soul in the knowledge of things themselves apart from the
knowledge of a personal God, or in any truth rather than in Him who is
true. And therefore many, perceiving how intellect is often allied
to ungodliness, and fails of itself to insure either goodness or
happiness, are disposed to refuse to it the high place which God has
assigned to it in the soul, and to suspect the reality of the exalted
delight which He has designed His saints and angels to enjoy in its
exercise. But while the deifiers of mere intellect are ever reminded
that it alone cannot deify, but may be abused so as to demonise man,
yet let those who slight it remember also that it is the head without
whose inventive genius or directing skill the strong arms of labour
would be idle. Let the man of material wealth or material power
recollect that it is the wealth of science and the power of mind,
possessed perhaps by unknown and lonely students who have all their
lifetime been struggling to obtain their daily bread, and to snatch
"the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table," which have created
our manufactures, filled our warehouses, crossed our oceans, healed
our diseases, and reared the fabric of law and government.

And God, who has made the intellect the source of delight to the
individual, and of good to society here, will surely perfect it
hereafter. Whatever its capacity may be, it shall then be filled to
its utmost limit; and be characterised by a clearness, vigour, and
precision, unknown here to the greatest thinkers. All barriers to its
progress shall be removed, which were occasioned here by the mortal
body, the poor culture, the little time, the few opportunities, the
weak or sinful prejudices; so that the poorest saint will shine there
as the sun in its strength! And with this increased power of knowing,
how inconceivably increased must be our sources of knowledge; how
boundless is the field which supplies them; how inexhaustible the
treasures it contains; how unlimited the time for gathering them;
how helpful the society that will sympathise with and join in our
pursuits! No one surely imagines that on entering heaven we can at
once obtain perfect knowledge--perfect, I mean, not in the sense of
accuracy, but of fully possessing all that can be known. This is
possible for Deity only. For it may be asserted with confidence that
Gabriel knows more to-day than he knew yesterday. Nor is it difficult
for us to conceive how, throughout eternity, and revelling with
freedom throughout God's universe, we may be occupied by the
contemplation of new and endless displays of the inexhaustible wisdom
and power of God in His works; and see more and more into the life of
all things; and continually read new volumes of that great book of
nature and of truth, whose first letters we are now learning with
difficulty to spell. And could we ever succeed in gathering together
the present treasures of all worlds, why may not new and varied
creations for ever renew the universe, and grander displays be made of
the glory and majesty of the Creator? Besides all this, must not the
ways of God, as well as His works, and the wonders of His moral
government, extending over all His creatures, and over all worlds,
and throughout all ages, afford inexhaustible subjects wherewith to
exercise the intellect of man? Is not every truth, too, with which we
are already acquainted linked to another and a higher truth? And if
so, when shall we reach the end of that awful chain which is in the
hand of God? But though for ever we shall thus dive deeper and deeper
into the divine mind, never, never can we sound its unfathomable
depths. Though we shall ascend for ever from one intellectual height
to another in the eternal range of thought, we shall approach, yet
never reach, that unseen throne on which is seated the I Am, the
Comprehender of all truth, the Solver of all mysteries, but who
Himself, though known, because revealed to us in His eternal Son and
loved as our Father, must ever, as the absolute One, be the mystery

From the few glimpses which we obtain in Scripture of angelic life, we
may infer that the understanding of the works and ways of God forms no
small part of its joy. We read of the sons of God crowding round the
earth, and we hear those morning stars singing for joy, as they behold
the commencement of this new theatre of wonders added to those with
which they were already acquainted. I doubt not that these high
intelligences watched with intensest interest the progress of the
world's formation, and beheld order and beauty growing out of chaotic
darkness and confusion, and during the incalculable ages of the past,
before man himself appeared upon the scene, gazed with wonder on the
successive creations of animal and vegetable life, whose remains we
now see buried in their rocky sepulchres. We know, too, the deeper
interest which the angelic host have taken in this world since it
became the abode of man. They are acquainted with all its inhabitants,
and have seen the mystery of God's providence here unfolding itself
from age to age. A great multitude of them hovered over the hills of
Bethlehem at that great era when "unto us a Child was born, and unto
us a Saviour was given, who was Christ the Lord;" and in sympathy with
God and man they ascribed "glory to God in the highest," because of
the "peace" which was proclaimed to earth, and of the "good-will"
which was expressed towards man. We know also how they have taken an
active share under Jesus the King, in advancing the affairs of His
kingdom, both by punishing the wicked, and ministering to the heirs of
salvation. And to put it beyond a doubt that scope is given even here
for the exercise of the intellect of the angels, we are distinctly
informed that all the marvellous history now proceeding in this world
had a direct reference in its original design to their progressive
education: "For God created all things by Jesus Christ, to the intent
that now unto principalities and powers might be known by the church
the manifold wisdom of God." There are indeed things even here "which
angels desire to look into!"

And though the redeemed from earth are not yet revealed to us as
being engaged in intellectual pursuits, nevertheless two of them have
revisited the earth and appeared in the old land of their sojourning
in visible form, and bearing the names of Moses and Elias, so familiar
to the Church of God, and have spoken in language intelligible to the
children of men, and upon a subject of all the most absorbing in its
interest to the Church above and below--the decease which Christ was
to accomplish at Jerusalem!

But I dare not enlarge on this part of my subject, however inviting it
may be. Let me only implore of you to consecrate your intellects to
God's service; and glorify Him in "soul and spirit" as well as in
"body." Reverence Truth in every department, as it is the expression
of the mind and will of God, and seek it in humility, and with a deep
sense of your responsibility as to how you search and what you
believe. And surely it is an elevating and comforting thing to know,
with reference to those who on earth were adorned by God with high
intellects, cultivated with care, and sanctified for their Master's
service; who thirsted for truth, and relished its acquisition with
peculiar delight, and the more so when it led them directly to Him who
is Truth itself, and enabled them the better to behold His glory, that
their powers are now finding ample field for their exercise, and can
orb themselves around without a limit. Not therefore with sadness but
with joy we can turn from beholding the dead unmeaning eye of the
lifeless body, through which the noble mind once shone with mild
intellectual lustre, and contemplate the same mind rising over the
everlasting hills, amidst the fresh unsullied brightness of a new-born
day, and advancing for ever without a cloud amidst the endless glories
of the upper sky.

One other suggestion as to duty in connexion with this part of our
subject: take a peculiarly tender, sympathising, and thoughtful care
of those who are deprived of the noble gift of intellect, and who in
God's providence may be cast on your mercy. Walk by faith towards
them. See them not as they are, but as they shall be. Act as you would
wish to have done when you meet them in that world of light where we
shall no longer see through a glass darkly, and where even he who
seems exceeding fierce shall sit at the feet of Jesus, meek as a
child, and in his right mind. Thank God, "there shall be no night



Our joy in heaven will, above all, be derived from the perfection of
our moral being. We shall be "without fault before the throne of God."
"He shall present us to Himself without spot, or blemish, or wrinkle,
or any such thing."

Truly and beautifully has Sir Thomas Browne said,--"There is no
felicity in what the world adores: that wherein God himself is
happy, the holy angels are happy, and in whose defect the devils are
unhappy--that dare I call happiness; whatsoever else the world terms
happiness, is to me an apparition or neat delusion, wherein there is
no more of happiness than the name." Following out this thought, let
us reverently inquire in what chiefly consists the joy of God, or what
especially constitutes His glory. Now, He is glorious in that creative
mind by which things are made so wisely with reference to the end
which each has to serve; and made so beautiful and grand in their
sculptured forms and harmonious colours. He surveys all His works, and
rejoices in them as "very good." He is glorious also in that miracle
of a wondrous providence by which without a miracle the wants of
all the endless worlds of His creatures are supplied; and by which
responsible persons also are created and trained to glorify and enjoy
Himself for ever. But while perfection beams in every feature of the
Divine mind, His glory, His joy, is in His character. Not His power,
but the character which wields the power; not His wisdom, but that
which His character accomplishes by it; not His majestic sovereignty,
but that majestic character which stamps His reign as one of right and
therefore of might, commanding, irresistible. This is the glory which
He made to pass before the eyes of Moses when upon the mount; which
shone in the face of Jesus Christ the Holy One of God; and which fills
the souls of the rapt seraphim when they cry, "Holy, holy, holy, is
the Lord God of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory!" Thus God
is happy and most blessed because He is "glorious in holiness," or, in
one word, because "His name is Love."

And in what, moreover, does the happiness of the angels consist, but
in sharing this life of God? These bright ones, indeed, experience joy
in contemplating His works of creation and redemption, and have been
glad in acquiring truth throughout many ages; but the atmosphere which
they breathe, the light in which they dwell, is love. They are happy
not merely in what they hear, or see, or know of the things of God,
but chiefly in what they are towards God himself. They know Him, and
this is life eternal.

And, finally, it is in the defect of this in which devils are unhappy.
For Satan, as he "goes to and fro in the earth, and in walking up and
down in it," may hear those sounds of loveliness which delight our
ears, but they are no music to his jarring and discordant spirit; and
he may behold those sights of loveliness which delight our eye, but he
does so as the prowling lion who perceives no grandeur in the glorious
mountains which echo to his savage roar. Nor does the exercise of his
subtle intellect afford him joy, because it is not in harmony with
truth, nor with the God of truth; but is as a "wandering star, to
which is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever." And therefore,
though he is a king, he is king of darkness, and carries hell in his
own bosom, whether he moves among the beauteous bowers of Eden, or
dwells for days upon earth, in the wilderness, in the holy temple, or
on the high mountain, with even God manifest in the flesh beside him.
He has no holiness, no love, and therefore no peace or joy.

And thus does our joy depend on our fellowship with God in character.
Other things may be, this must be, if we are to be happy. Other
things are required to give our joy fulness; this is essential to
give it existence. For the body may be deprived of all pleasurable
sensation, and the intellect unable to grapple with the simplest
problem, "in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and those
that look out at the windows are darkened, and the daughters of music
are brought low,"--yet the light of joy may still shine in the soul,
so long as the mind can discern that "God is," and the heart feel that
"God is love." Not, therefore, in the gratification of his sentient
tastes; nor in the certainties of pure intellect; nor in science,
which "can put forth its hand and feel from star to star;" nor even in
the exercise of that genius--so like His own creative power!--whose
contrivances change the aspect of the world, and whose glorious
flights can speed to airy regions "which no fowl knoweth nor the
vulture's eye hath seen:" not in those outer courts of God's great
temple has the Father willed that His immortal children shall find
their true life, but in the holy of holies only of His own immediate
presence, and in the possession of the spirit of life and of love
which is in His first-born Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. And this was
the glory and joy which Jesus himself manifested on earth, when "He
had no place to lay his head;" and was "despised and rejected of men;"
and His "countenance was marred like no man's;" when He carried His
cross; and revealed to us that true life which He died to obtain, and
rose from the dead to impart to us by His Spirit. He did not come
to teach us to become artists, orators, or men of mere intellectual
cultivation, capable of creating a hero-worship. The race who
built Nineveh and Thebes, or produced the artists, orators, poets,
historians, or the world--conquerors of Greece and Rome, needed no
such teaching as this. But He came to reveal to men--who, whatever
else they knew, did not know their Maker, but "changed the truth of
God into a lie"--that eternal life of love which was with the Father,
so that in its possession they might have fellowship with the Father,
with the Son, and with one another, and in this way only have His own
joy fulfilled in themselves. He taught us to follow Him, "with all
lowliness and meekness," and thus "to walk worthy of God who hath
called us to His kingdom and glory!"

I have dwelt, perhaps, at unnecessary length upon this part of my
subject, yet I am anxious to quicken in you the conviction of what you
cannot doubt, that our moral nature can be satisfied only with God's
likeness. So is it now; so will it be for ever. The sweet peace which
the believer enjoys in God here; the elevating delight he experiences
from contemplating His character, and saying, "My Father, let Thy name
be hallowed! let Thy kingdom come! let Thy will be done!"--his joy in
the possession of the graces of the Christian life, are not foretastes
only, but earnests also, and pledges of the coming fulness, the
first-fruits of the approaching harvest. "We shall be like Him!"
Oh blessed consummation, before which everything else vanishes in
comparison! Our souls cleansed from every stain of guilt, and made
white in the blood of the Lamb; and washed, too, from all the
pollution of sin with the waters of regeneration and the renewing of
the Holy Ghost, shall be "faultless," "not having spot, or wrinkle, or
any such thing." The pure and holy God resting on us as His own work
through His Son and Spirit, shall rejoice in that work as perfect;
and every redeemed soul will be as a mirror in whose transparent
depths the Divine glory is seen reflected. Oh comforting and exalting
thought! that the weakest and most imperfect, yet true child of God,
who possessed any real faith or real love, is thus at last "glorified
together with Christ"--their confessions of sin for ever over; their
sense of their own emptiness lost in a sense of Christ's fulness;
their ardent longings for unsullied holiness gratified as no faith or
foretaste here realised, even feebly, in their hours of most pious
fervour! Should it not delight us to think of even one whom we have
known and loved really possessing such joy as this; and ought we not
to give united thanks to God for their happiness with God, even while
we sorrow for their loss to ourselves during our earthly pilgrimage?



Man is a social as well as a sentient, intellectual, and moral
being; and as such he will have joy in the presence of God in heaven.
We are made for brotherhood. It was in reference to this original
craving of the heart for society that God said of man when he came
perfect from His hands, "It is not good for him to be alone." The fact
of solitariness is, indeed, unknown in God's intelligent and moral
universe. With reverence, I remark, that God has existed as Father,
Son, and Spirit, three Persons in the unity of the Godhead. We cannot,
indeed, conceive of God, whose name is love, existing from eternity
without a person like Himself as an object of His love. Certain it
is, however, that for the creature to have joy in himself alone, is
impossible. Isolation would, in time, produce insanity. The heart will
lavish its affection upon the lowest forms of animal creation, or
upon ideal beings, rather than feed upon itself. But there can be
no solitude to him who knows there is a God, nor who possesses any
religion; for religion is love to God. And even where the society of
men is shunned, and solitude fled to by the weary, this is often,
after all, but an unconscious protest in favour of brotherhood; the
bitterness of one who, having sought it from men in vain, feels as if
robbed of his brother's affections, which he had a right to possess as
a portion of his inheritance.

But while God has planted in every breast this passion for congenial
society, and has supplied to so great an extent its want by the family
institution into which we are born in our early years, and by the
"troops of friends" who accompany us during our pilgrimage, and by the
fellowship of the Christian Church, in proportion as that fellowship
is not a mere name, but expresses the intention of Christ in gathering
His people into a society,--there are, nevertheless, innumerable
drawbacks here to anything like its full gratification. Take away the
time consumed in the necessary and often absorbing labour of life, and
during the unavoidable separations and partings from those we know
and love, how little is left for the cultivation here of the truest
friendships. We are, moreover, severed as yet by death from all
congenial minds among past generations, and from those who are yet to
come. Of the many now alive whose hearts would beat to ours, could we
only meet and know them, how few can stand together on the small space
allotted to us on the earth's surface. Then, again, of those whom we
know best and love best on earth, and who know and love us best too,
oh, what mutual ignorance must necessarily exist of innumerable
thoughts and feelings lying deep clown in our inner man, half hidden,
half revealed, even to ourselves, but altogether incommunicable and
unutterable by word or sign to others! We may at times be conscious
that we stand with them on the same lofty summit, and gaze on the
same prospect, but the atmosphere is too rare to permit of any heard
communication between us. And thus in no case can there be, not the
meeting, but that blending of soul with soul by which one being,
without losing his individuality, seems completed in the being of
another. Add to all this the granite walls that rise up between us
during our wanderings in this desert--the differences, not only from
intellect, pursuits, rank, education, but also from character, and
those sins and infirmities of which all more or less partake, such as
pride, vanity, prejudice, envy,--one and all making sad drawbacks from
the fulness of joy which we are capable of deriving even now from
intelligent and holy society. We are made to realise this fact in
reading the history of the holiest society that ever was on earth,
that of Jesus Christ and His apostles. Only three years together,
often separated during this brief period by dark nights, stormy seas,
long journeys, and the sin and ignorance OR their part which made Him
exclaim, "Nevertheless I am not alone, for the Father is with me,"
intimating that, without this Divine sympathy, He was indeed alone in
His joys and in His sorrows amidst His brethren. After His departure,
how soon were the apostles scattered, and how seldom did they meet!
For years Paul was not acquainted with any of them, and possibly never
met them all, while he was quite unknown by face to many of those
Christian churches who read his letters, and revered his name. The
apostle John complains that he could not communicate to his friends
the many things he had to say by pen and ink, and longs for personal
intercourse. "I trust," he says, "to come unto you and speak face to
face, that our joy might be full." Ah, there is no tabernacling here
with Jesus, nor yet with Moses or Elias! But such a dispensation is
no doubt wise. It marks the condition of those who have no continuing
city here, but who look for one to come. It also greatly helps to
weaken, on the one hand, our tendency to idolise the creature, and to
strengthen, on the other, our faith in God, who abideth for ever, and
thus to unite us to one another, both now and in the end, more truly
than we ourselves as yet understand. But, nevertheless, the joy from
Christian intercourse experienced here is among the most precious
gifts of God, and its value is enhanced by the prophecy which it
contains of the glorious future. Union is the gospel watchword; it
is the grand result of redemption; for holy union is holy love, the
drawing of heart to heart, because all are drawn by one Spirit,
through one Saviour, to one God, a union which is to be perfectly
realised in our future social state, when we shall be fellow-citizens
with the saints in the heavenly Jerusalem.

Now, consider what ample resources heaven affords for the cultivation
of the social affections among those of the highest intellect, taste,
and moral worth in God's universe, "But ye are come unto Mount Sion,
and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an
innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of
the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of
all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the
mediator of the new covenant." Here we have summed up the society in
our future home.

We shall there enjoy the society of the angels. We know about those
holy beings, but we do not know themselves as yet. But how often does
it happen to us in regard to our earthly friends, that those who are
unknown to us in our early years even by name, become in our latter
years indissolubly bound up with our history and our joy? And thus the
angels, whom on earth we have never seen, will, nevertheless, when the
manhood of our being is reached, become our intimate friends and dear
companions for ever. Let us not forget, however, that the angels know
each saint on earth more intimately than the saints themselves are
known by their nearest friends. "For are they not all ministering
spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of
salvation?" But this fact suggests another analogy between our social
relationships with men and angels,--viz., that as earthly friends who
have been acquainted with ourselves and our family history during
the forgotten days of infancy, are met by us, in after-years, not as
strangers, but with feelings of sympathy and intimacy akin to those
awakened by old kindred; even so will the saint, on reaching heaven,
find God's angels to be, not strangers, but old friends who have known
all about him from the day of his birth until the hour of his death.
It is true that these high and holy ones belong to a different order
of beings from ourselves, and this, we might be disposed to think,
must prevent the possibility of their sympathising with us. But let us
remember, that while in material forms there is no one common abiding
type, by which, for example, the vegetable, beast, bird, or fish are
formed; yet that it is quite otherwise with intellectual and moral
beings, who are all necessarily made like God, and therefore like
one another. And, finally, though we might conjecture that beings
possessed of such vast stores of knowledge, the accumulated wealth
of ages, and of such high and glorious intellects, would necessarily
repel our approaches by the awe they would inspire in a child of earth
when with all his ignorance he enters heaven, yet let our confidence
be restored by remembering the fact, that in them, as in the great
Jehovah, all majesty and wisdom become attractive when combined with,
and directed by love. The love which enables us to cling to the
Almighty and love Him as a Father, will enable us to meet the angels
in peace, and to love them as brethren. And thus I am persuaded that
a saint on earth, compassed about as he is with his many infirmities,
would even now feel more "at home," so to speak, with angels, because
of their perfect sympathising love, than with most of his fellow-men,
because of their remaining pride and selfishness.

But "just men made perfect" also form apart of the society above.
Their number is daily increasing. Day by day unbroken columns are
passing through the golden gates of the city, and God's elect are
gathering from the four winds of heaven. There are no dead saints; all
are alive unto God, and "we live together with them."

But I further remark in reference to all this glorious society, that
there shall be perfect union among its members. That union will not
be one of sameness; for there can be no sameness either in the past
history, or in the intellectual capacity of any of its members. How
vast must be the difference for ever between the history of Gabriel,
the thief on the cross, the apostle Paul, and the child who died on
its first birthday! There is, moreover, every reason to believe that
each person must retain his own individual features of mind and
peculiarities of character, there as well as here. All the stars will
shine in brilliancy, and sweep in orbits more or less wide around the
great centre, but "each star differeth from another star in glory."
Yet this want of sameness is what will produce the deepest harmony,
such as one sees in the blending of different colours, or hears in
the mingling of different notes. And I repeat it, the bond of this
perfectness must be the same in heaven as on earth--love. For it is
love which unites exalted rank to lowly place, knowledge to ignorance,
and strength to weakness; thus bringing things opposite into an
harmonious whole. See accordingly how the love which dwelt in "God
manifest in the flesh," poured itself into the lowest depths of
humanity, and met men far down to lift them high up; so that at the
very moment, for instance, when Jesus was intensely conscious of His
dignity, "knowing that he came from God and went to God," He even then
shewed how inseparable was true love from true grandeur, for we read
that "knowing" this, "He rose from supper and girded Himself with a
towel, and washed His disciples' feet!" And as Jesus in the might of
the same Divine affection bridged over the gulf which separated man
from Himself and His Father, drawing the impure to Him the Holy One,
that they might become holy; and the ignorant to Him the All-knowing,
that they might become truly wise;--so shall the same Divine love
include within its vast embrace all in heaven, from God seated on the
throne down through the burning ranks of cherubim and seraphim till
it reaches the once weeping Magdalene, and the once sore-stricken
Lazarus, and the infant who has but the hour before left the bosom
of its weeping mother! HOW glorious, again, is the thought that the
poorest saint here--the most ignorant, the most despised, the most
solitary and unknown--shall not only admire and love, but be himself
the object of admiration and of love on the part of the highest spirit
there. For the King who is not ashamed to call the poorest "brethren,"
will, in His adornments of their mind and heart, as well as of outward
form, bestowed "according to His riches," make them in all things like
Himself, and fit to move in regal grandeur with all saints and angels
in the royal palace of his God. "Fear not, little flock; it is your
Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

After what has been said, it is unnecessary to prove what I have
assumed as so evidently true; I mean the future recognition of our
Christian friends. It is almost as unreasonable to ask for proofs of
this as for the probable recognition of friends in a different part
of the country after having been separated from one another during a
brief interval of time. What! shall memory be obliterated, and shall
we forget our own past histories, and therefore lose the sense of our
personal identity, and be ignorant of all we have been and done as
sinners, and of all we have received and done as redeemed men? or,
knowing all this, shall we be prevented from communicating our
histories to others? Shall beloved friends be there whom we have known
and loved in Christ here; with whom we have held holy communion; with
whom we have laboured and prayed for the advancement of Christ's
kingdom; and with whom we have eagerly watched for His second
coming,--and shall we be unable throughout eternity, either to
discover their existence or associate with them in the New Jerusalem?
Are the apostles now ignorant of each other? Did Moses and Elias
issue out of a darkness which mutually concealed them in heaven, and
recognising one another for the first time amidst the light on Tabor's
hill, did they then return into darkness again? Oh, what is there in
the whole Word of God,--what argument derived from, our experience of
the blessings of Christian fellowship,--what in the character of God
or His dealings with man,--what in His promises of things to come laid
up for those who love Him, that could have suggested such strange,
unworthy, false, and dreary thoughts of the union, or rather disunion,
of friends in their Father's home! Tell me not that special affection
to Christian brethren, from whatever causes it may arise, is
inconsistent with unfeigned love to all, and with absorbing love to
Jesus. It is not so here, and never can be so from the nature of holy
love, and was not so in Christ's own case when He the Perfect One
lived amongst us. With supreme love to God, "He loved His church
and gave Himself for it;" with love to His church He yet loved the
disciples as "His own;" while again within this circle one of these
was specially the loved one; and beyond it "He loved Martha and Mary
and Lazarus!" Tell me not that it is enough to know that our friends
are in glory. I know this now in regard to some of them, as surely as
I know anything beyond the grave; yet my heart yearns to meet them
"with the Lord," and I bless Him that He permits me to comfort myself
with the hope of doing so. Nor let it be alleged as an insuperable
objection to all this anticipated happiness, that knowledge of the
saved would imply knowledge of the lost, and that this would balance
the pleasure we hope for, by the great pain by which we, it is
assumed, must thus be compelled to endure. For even admitting that
such knowledge would be possessed at all, which is very doubtful; yet
surely, at the worst, this is a strange way of escaping pain from the
knowledge that some are lost, by taking refuge in the ignorance of any
being saved! I shall not prove this further, but express my joy in
heartily believing that we shall resume our intercourse with every
Christian friend; that remembering all the past, and reading it for
the first time aright, because reading in the full light of revealed
truth, we shall know and love as we never knew and loved here; and
shall sit down at that glorious intellectual, moral, and social feast,
not with ideal persons and strangers, but with Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob, with Peter, Paul, and John, and with every saint of God!

But I have not as yet spoken of one friend there who will be the
centre of that bright society--"Jesus the Mediator of the new
covenant!" "I will take you to Myself," is the blessed promise. "We
shall see Him as He is," is the longed-for-vision. "We shall be like
Him," is the hoped-for perfection. To know, to love, to be in all
things like Jesus, and to hold communion with Him for ever--what "an
exceeding weight of glory!" Jesus will never be separated personally
from His people; nor can they ever possibly separate their character,
their joy, or their safety from His atoning death for them on earth,
or from His constant life for them in heaven. It is the Lamb who shall
lead them to living fountains of waters; and the Lamb upon the throne
who shall still preside over them. The Lamb shall be the everlasting
light of the New Jerusalem; and "Worthy is the Lamb!" will be its
ceaseless song of praise. Beyond this I cannot go. In vain I endeavour
to ascend in thought higher than "God manifest in the flesh," even to
the Triune Jehovah who dwelleth in the unapproachable light of His own
unchangeable perfections; and seek to catch a glimpse of that beatific
vision which, though begun here in communion with God, is there
enjoyed by "the spirits of just men made perfect," "according to
His fulness," and therefore in a measure which to us passeth all
understanding. But if any real spiritual intercourse with Jehovah is
now "joy unspeakable;" if the hunger of the soul to possess more,
fails often from its intensity to find utterance for its wants in
words, what must it be to dwell in His presence in the full enjoyment
of Himself for ever! There are saints who have experienced this
blessedness upon earth to a degree which was almost too much for them
to bear; and there are some who have had glories flashed upon them as
if snatched from the light beyond, just as the soul was loosening from
the ligaments of the body, and preparing itself for flight from the
prison-house to its own home--strange moments when things beyond were
seen by the eye closing on the weary world, and overpowering bliss was
experienced by the chilling heart. And if men, sinful men, yea, dying
men, can behold such visions of joy even while dwelling in tabernacles
of clay that are crumbling around them, what is the measure of that
bliss which fills the souls of those redeemed ones at this moment in
the temple above, in perfectly knowing and enjoying God, Father, Son,
and Holy Ghost! May the Lord give us all grace to love on earth such
as we may hope to meet in heaven; and if we cannot as yet enjoy the
communion of angels, may we seek for, and enjoy, the communion of



It is unnecessary to do more than remind you how labour is essential
here to our happiness. Rest from fatigue is indeed enjoyment; but
idleness from want of occupation is punishment. Nor is this fact a
part of our inheritance as sinners. Fatigue and pain of body from
exertion may be so, but not exertion itself. Perfect and unfallen man,
as I have already reminded you, was placed in the garden of Eden "to
dress and to keep it." And this is what we would expect as the very
appointment for a creature made after the image of Him who is ever
working, and who has imbued every portion of the universe with the
spirit of activity. For nothing in the world of nature lives for
itself alone, but contributes its portion of good to the welfare of
the whole. And man, as he becomes more godlike, rejoices more and more
in the dispensation by which he is enabled to be a fellow-worker with
his Father, and is glad in being able to give expression by word or
deed to what he knows and admires.

And if all this holds true of man now, what reason have we for
doubting that it shall hold true of man for ever? Why should this
inherent love of action, and delightful source of enjoyment, so
refined and elevated, be annihilated? and what shadow even of
probability have we for supposing that the heaven revealed in
Scripture is a world the occupations of whose inhabitants must for
ever be confined to mere ecstatic contemplation?

This cannot be! Such a heaven has not been prepared for man. Arguing
from analogy, the presumption is that those mental and moral habits
which have been acquired with so much difficulty, and at so much
expense in this present world, will not be cast away as useless in the
next, but find there such scope for their exercise as cannot possibly
be afforded to them within their present limited sphere of action. But
this presumption is immensely strengthened by what we know of the life
of the angels, to which I have more than once alluded, as it bears so
much upon the several topics discussed by us. These angels "excel in
strength;" and they "do His commandments, and hearken to the voice of
His word." As "ministers of His," they "do His pleasure." They are
represented to us as ever actively employed as messengers of peace or
of woe. They have destroyed armies and cities; delivered captives;
comforted the disconsolate; and are represented as the future reapers
of the earth's harvest. All this proves, at least, that the sinless
perfection and happiness of heaven are not inconsistent with a life
of busy labour; and that though God can dispense with the services of
either men or angels, yet, as they cannot be happy without rendering
such services to Him, He, in accordance with His untiring, ungrudging
benevolence, satisfies this desire of their nature as created by
Himself. Let it be remembered also, that men have acquired a wider
experience than even angels, by reason of that very sin which might be
supposed to render them less fit for the exalted services of heaven.
For the very storms and vicissitudes of earth have given a form and a
strength to those "trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord,"
that could not have been acquired amidst the sunny skies and balmy air
of the heavenly paradise. The saints of God have learned lessons here
of patience, endurance, self-denial, and faith, that could not have
been learned there. Like old soldiers, they have been trained by long
campaigns and terrible combats with the enemy. On earth and not in
heaven are Marthas and Maries with whom we can weep; and prodigals
whom we can receive back; and saints in sickness, in prison, or in
nakedness, whom we can visit, soothe, and clothe. And therefore is
earth a noble school by reason of its very sins and sorrows. It is
asked, indeed, in triumph, What employments can there be in heaven
for saints? This question I cannot answer. The how employed, and
where, must be as yet mere conjecture. But who will be so bold as
to deny, that in the new heavens and in the new earth, there may be
employment for even those powers--such as inventive genius--which
might seem to be necessarily confined to this our temporary scene? If
we are through a bodily organisation to be for ever united to matter,
why may not science and art be called into exercise then as well as
now, in order to make it minister to our wants or desires? And even
as regards the noble creations of artistic genius, why should the
supposition be deemed as unworthy of the most exalted and spiritual
views of heaven, that man may for ever be a fellow-worker with the
Divine Artist who fills the universe with His own endless creations
of beauty and magnificence? And can it be that our moral habits and
Christian graces shall never be called into exercise in works and
labours of love among orders of beings of whom as yet we know nothing?
Countless worlds may be teeming with immense populations, and who
knows but such worlds may be continually added to the great family
of God. And if throughout the endless ages of eternity, or in any
province of God's boundless empire, there should ever be found
some responsible beings who are tempted to depart from God by the
machinations of wicked men or evil spirits,--permitted, then, it may
be, as well as now, to use all their powers in the service of sin and
against the kingdom of God,--and who being thus tempted shall require
warning or support to retain them in their allegiance;--or if there
be found others who are struggling in an existence, which, however
glorious, demands patience, fortitude, and faith in Jehovah; if there
are now in other worlds, or ever shall appear any persons who need
such ministrations as can be afforded only by those educated in the
wonderful school of Christ's Church;--then can I imagine how God's
saints from earth may have glorious labours given them throughout
eternity, which they alone, of all the creatures of God, will be able
to accomplish, when every holy habit acquired here can be put to noble
uses there. I can conceive patience needed to overcome difficulties;
and faith to trust the living God amidst evolutions of His providence
that baffle the understanding; and indomitable courage, untiring zeal,
gentle love, heavenly serenity and intense sympathy, yea, even the
peculiar gifts and characteristics of each individual;--all having
their appropriate and fitting work given them. "Now abideth faith,
hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
And what immense joy will be experienced in each saint thus finding an
outlet for his love, and exercise for his knowledge, and full play for
his every faculty, in that "house of many mansions," with all God's
universe around and eternity before him! I borrow the language of
the great and good Isaac Taylor, who has written so eloquently and
convincingly on this subject:--"There labour shall be without fatigue,
ceaseless activity without the necessity of repose, high enterprise
without disappointment, and mighty achievements which leave behind no
weariness or decay;--where 'they that wait upon the Lord shall renew
their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall
run, and not be weary; shall walk, and not faint.'"

Let this thought teach us to labour in harmony with the will of God;
so that we may never run counter to His wishes or His laws, but, both
in the material and spiritual world, ever seek to be "fellow-workers"
with Himself.

Let it also comfort us when we see "such a one as Paul the aged" fall
asleep after his day of toil: and strengthen us to bow our heads
in meekness when we hear of the young man full of zeal and ardour,
apparently fully equipped for God's service, suddenly cut down; or the
self-sacrificing missionary, who seems to have spent his strength in
vain, perish with no one in the wilderness to give him burial. Oh,
think not that the work of the old saint who loved it so well, till
the last hour of his existence, is ended for ever; or that the labours
of younger brethren so unfinished here, shall never be resumed
hereafter, and that all this preparation of years has been a
mere abortion, a mockery and delusion! Believe it not! No day of
conscientious study for Christ's sake has been spent in vain; no
habit of industry or self-denial acquired for Christ's sake has been
acquired in vain; nor will the burning zeal to do something for Him
who died for them be ever lost in darkness or put to shame. Soul,
spirit, and body, will yet do their work for which they have been
so exquisitely adapted, and so carefully trained. He who has been
"faithful over a few things will be made ruler over many things;" and
"he who has been faithful in a very little, shall have authority
over ten cities!"

Finally, this future life in heaven will be expressed in praise.
What are the ordinary ideas entertained by many excellent Christians
of this heavenly work, or the manner in which it is to be performed,
would be painful to describe. But perhaps it is not too much to say
that the heaven of many is little more than a grand, eternal act of
worship by singing psalms of praise. No doubt the chief work of
heaven is praise; for praise is but the necessary expression of love,
admiration, joy. In what way this praise is to be expressed I know
not: whether in the spontaneous exercise of individual souls, "singing
as they shine" with hymned voice, and fashioned instrument of golden
harp or angelic trump; or only by the rapt gaze of a spirit absorbed
in "still communion;"--and whether in heaven as on earth there may be
great days of the Lord on which the sons of God, gathered from afar,
will come specially before the exalted Redeemer, when their joy,
uttered by outbursts of harmony, shall wake the amphitheatre of the
skies with impassioned hallelujahs,--who can as yet tell! But it
must be that each soul in heaven being for ever full of love, will
for ever be full of praise. Every new sight of grandeur or of beauty,
and every new contrivance of the Creator's wisdom or power, will but
prompt the beholder to praise the wondrous Creator. Every intellectual
height reached in the infinite progress of the soul, onward and
upward, must awe it into a profounder sense of the glory of the great
Intelligence. Every active pursuit will swell the tide of gratitude
and praise to Him the ceaseless worker, in whom all persons and things
"live, move, and have their being;"--while the loving and holy soul,
ever consciously dwelling in Him who is everywhere present, must
derive from increasing knowledge of, and communion with the infinite
and glorious One, a source of exulting, endless praise--praise which
will be intensified by the sympathy and song of the great minds and
great hearts of the "innumerable company of angels," and of "just men
made perfect!" But if in that voiceful temple any one song of praise
will, more than any other, issue from a deeper love, or express a
deeper joy, that must be the song of the redeemed! For that is a "new
song" never heard before by the angels in the amplitudes of creation,
and which the strange race of mankind alone can sing; for there are
peculiar notes of joy in that song which they alone can utter; and in
their memories alone can echo old notes of sadness that have died away
in the far distance. And what shall be their feelings, what their
song, as they gaze backwards on the horrible kingdom of darkness, from
whose chains and dungeons they have been delivered; and trace all the
mysterious steps by which their merciful and wise Saviour led them
safely through danger, temptation, and trial, and through the valley
of death, until He bid them welcome with exceeding joy! What their
feelings, what their song, as they look around and contemplate the new
scene and the exalted society into which He has brought them, and meet
the responsive gaze of radiant saints and of old familiar friends!
What their feelings, and what their song, as they gaze forward, and
with "far-stretching views into eternity" see no limit to their
"fulness of joy;" knowing that nothing can lessen it, but that
everything must increase it through eternal ages;--that the body can
never more suffer pain, or be weakened by decay;--that the intellect
can never more be dimmed by age, nor marred by ignorance;--that the
spirit can never more be darkened by even a passing shadow from the
body of sin;--that the will can never for a moment be mastered, nor
even biased by temptation;--that the heart can never be chilled by
unreturned kindness;--that the blessed society can never be diminished
by death, nor divided in spirit, but that, along with saints and
angels, all God's works shall be seen, all His ways known, all His
plans and purposes fulfilled, all His commands perfectly obeyed, and
Himself perfectly enjoyed for ever and ever! And then, at what might
seem to be the very climax of their joy, to behold Jesus! And, seeing
Him, to remember the lowly home in Bethlehem; the once humble artisan
of Nazareth; and the sufferer, "who was despised and rejected of men,"
"the man of sorrows, who was acquainted with grief;" and the tempted
one, who for forty days was with the devil in the wilderness;--seeing
Him, to remember Gethsemane with its trembling hand and cup of
agony; the judgment-hall and Calvary with their horrors of blood, of
blasphemy, and mystery of woe;--seeing Him, to see all this history of
immeasurable love not only recorded in the glory of every saint above,
but embodied in the very person of that Saviour, and in that human
form which was "wounded and bruised for our iniquities," and in that
human soul that was sorrowful unto death, in order that He might be
able to pour into the hearts of lost and ruined men all the fulness of
His own blessedness and joy! What shall be the feelings, what the song
of the redeemed, as all this bursts on their enraptured gaze! Oh,
blind discoursers are we of such ineffable glory! Children-dreamers
are we about this as yet unrevealed vision! What are all our thoughts
but "fallings from us, vanishings" from "creatures walking among
worlds not realised!" But let us pray more and more that the "God
of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto us the
spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; the eyes of
our understanding being enlightened; that we may know what is
the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His
inheritance in the saints;" for though "eye hath not seen, nor ear
heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which
God hath prepared for them that love Him," yet "God hath revealed
them unto us by His Spirit!"


The subject of future punishment is one the consideration of which
gives mental pain. We naturally shrink from it, would prefer to leave
it alone, and to think, as we say, of something else.

But the question won't leave us alone, and we must think about it. It
forces itself on our notice, and that, too, in our most thoughtful and
sober moments. We cannot read the Scriptures without the dark vision
passing before our eyes with more or less gloom. Conscience whispers
to us about it. It recurs to our thoughts amidst the penitential
confessions and earnest prayers of public worship. The theme is
constantly discussed in works and periodicals widely read, and not
even professedly theological.

There are few, we presume, who will assert that every man, whatever
his character may be when he leaves the world, shall after death
immediately pass into glory, and be received into fellowship with God
and His saints. With such a belief earnestly entertained, suicide
would cease to be an evidence of insanity, and murder would become

Most men are prepared rather to believe, apart altogether from any
Scripture statements on this momentous subject, that punishment of
some kind or other must be awarded to crime at last, and in some
degree proportionate to the character of the criminal,--that somewhere
or other, by some means or other, not yet discovered or revealed,
reformation if at all possible must necessarily be effected in order
that peace and happiness may be secured. Man's undying sense of
righteousness, and what ought to be, is not satisfied by the
prosperity which, in spite of every drawback, so frequently attends
the most selfish and unprincipled villain to his grave. Like the
Psalmist, we all are disposed to exclaim when contemplating such
histories, "As for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had
well-nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the
prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death, and
their strength is firm; neither are they plagued like other men....
Their eyes stand out with fatness; they have more than their heart can
wish.... And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge with
the Most High?"

But when we open the Word of God, it is impossible for any honest
man to deny, that whether its teaching be true or false, the fact of
future punishment is an essential portion of what is taught. By no
conceivable perversion of the words of Christ, so often repeated on
this subject, and by no interpretation of His parables, can it be
denied that it was His intention to give the very impression which the
universal Church has received, that there is a "wrath to come," and a
state of being which to some is "cursed," and so very dreadful that,
with reference to one of His own disciples, who is called "the son of
perdition," the Saviour said that it would have "been good for that
man had he never been born."

I must presume that this general statement regarding the teaching of
Christ himself, not to speak of that of His apostles, requires no
proof to any one who has ever read the Gospels. Punishment of some
kind awaits the wicked after death. Yet if this much is admitted, we
have surely already reached a conclusion which ought to fill with the
most solemn awe the mind of every man who has any reverence for the
Divine authority of Jesus Christ; or who even believes that He who
represented Himself as saying, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into
everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels,"--"Depart from
me, I know you not, all ye workers of iniquity," and who narrated such
a parable as that of the rich man and Lazarus, was one incapable of
all exaggeration or evil passion, and one who possessed the only
perfect love which was ever manifested in humanity. The apostles, who
express in language as strong and unhesitating the certainty and dread
nature of future punishment, were men also who, more than any who have
ever lived, loved their fellow-men, wept like their Divine Master for
their sins, and devoted their lives, with untiring unselfishness, to
rescue them from present evil and future woe. Now, if this be so far a
true, if not a full, representation of the teaching of Christ and
His apostles on this momentous theme, I may be permitted to put
two questions of a practical and personal kind to my reader. One
is,--Whether the knowledge of the character, apart from the authority,
of Jesus and His apostles, who spoke in such language of the future
history of some men in another world, ought not to make us pause with
becoming self-distrust and reverence, if disposed to exclaim against
the possibility of so terrible an ending as a thing "unjust,"
"revengeful," and "revolting to benevolence?" Who are we, what have
we been, or what have we done for our fellow-men, that we should thus
presume to have a more tender regard for their well-being than
the Lord Jesus Christ or His apostles had, and to be incapable of
entertaining or of uttering such "harsh thoughts" as they did about
their future state?

The other question which I would humbly suggest for consideration is
this:--What is your real belief in reference to man's future state?
Have you any faith in our Lord's teaching? Any firm practical
conviction in the fact of future punishment? After you have made
every possible deduction from the weight of Scripture testimony, and
explained away every metaphor, parable, and dogmatic statement to the
lowest possible point short of absolute denial of their truth in any
fair sense of their meaning,--may I beg of you to consider what, or
how much, remains to be firmly believed as the truth of God? For it
does appear to me that there exists a wide-spread callousness and
indifference, an ease of mind, with reference to the fate hereafter of
ungodly men, which cannot be accounted for except on the supposition
that all earnest faith is lost in either the dread possibilities of
future sin or of its future punishment. Men seem to have made up their
minds that they have nothing to fear in the next world, whatever they
believe, whatever they are, or whatever they do in this. We are,
verily, not incapable of experiencing fear, but in a vast number of
cases we are great cowards, in spite of all our bravery,--cowards when
there is nothing actually present to alarm us; and each one of us
seeks to his very utmost to keep danger or suffering far away from
himself or from those he loves. Accordingly, the possible or
near approach of mere bodily pain, or of domestic sorrow, or the
anticipated loss of money--not to speak of such horrors as public
disgrace from loss of character, imprisonment, transportation as
a felon, or execution as a criminal--would induce thoughtfulness,
anxiety, wretchedness. Yet, strange to say, the very same persons who
would tremble for such calamities as these, treat with indifference a
coming punishment, which cannot, even in their own estimation, be less
terrible, and which, as sure as Christ's words are true, they may
themselves, because of their present character, be liable at any hour
to enter upon and endure.

But many of those readers, who, up to this point, may heartily
sympathise with me in my feeble efforts to quicken a more earnest
thoughtfulness on this subject, will be disposed to avoid its further
consideration. I would not blame them for so feeling. God knoweth I
have no wish to "dogmatise" on this subject, but to approach it with
real sympathy for the difficulties, the pains, the perplexities, which
the noblest, the truest, and the most reverential have experienced
when they have attempted really to believe in it What chiefly induces
me to submit a few thoughts upon a theme so solemn, is the "dogmatism"
and unworthy views of God which are attributed to all of us who cannot
discover sunrise beyond the gloom; and the conviction also that a
more thorough belief in the clanger of sin, as well as its inherent
vileness, and a wholesome "terror of the Lord," would tend to
"persuade men" to entertain with more earnestness the deliverance
promised in the gospel.

The idea which many have formed of punishment is that of a mere
arbitrary annexation of a certain amount of suffering in the next
world to a certain amount of crime committed in this--so many stripes
for so many sins; and, as if obvious injustice were inflicted on men,
by threatening them with coming woe for present wickedness, they
exclaim, "Surely such sins as these do not deserve such punishment as
that!" But if sin itself, by an eternal moral necessity, carries with
it its own punishment, even as the shadow accompanies the substance,
then the real question in regard to the possible ending of future
suffering is merged in the deeper one of the possible ending of future
sin. And if so, what evidence have we from any one source to inspire
the hope, that the man who enters the next world loving sin, and
therefore suffering punishment as its necessary result, will ever
cease to sin, and thereby cease to suffer? It must, remember, be
admitted as an indisputable fact, that life eternal can only co-exist
with a right state of the soul. "This is life eternal, to know thee
and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." Up to the moment in which the
spirit turns with filial confidence and obedience to God, there cannot
be a cessation either in the curse that must rest upon enmity and
disobedience, or in the pain which must be produced by so terrible a
malady. Some time or other, be it near or remote, in one year or in a
million, there must be repentance in the sinner, a turning away from
sin and to God, as the only possible means of bridging over the
otherwise impassable gulf that separates the bad from the good, or
hell from heaven. There is no salvation for man but from sin; there is
no restoration for him but to love.

But if this change in the sinner is not accomplished in this world,
what evidence have we that it can be accomplished in any place of even
limited punishment? In what conceivable way, we ask with deepest
awe, is a moral and responsible being, who ends this life and begins
another at enmity to God, rejecting Christ, disbelieving the gospel,
dead in trespasses and in sins, hateful and hating, selfish and
vile,--in what way is he to be made holy after death, and before
entering heaven, by a temporary discipline of mere suffering?

We are here considering the possible future of one only who knows the
gospel of the grace of God, and we ask, what advantages will such an
one possess elsewhere for the attainment of piety that are denied him
here? If all that God has done to gain his heart has so far failed up
till the hour of his death, that he is morally unfit by his habits or
even desires for the society of God and His people, what appliances
can we conceive of more likely to influence the will and gain the
affections in a prison-house set apart for the reformation of the
impenitent? Can the sinner expect to meet, in this supposed place of
punishment and consequent reformation, more loving friends to win him
by such solemn counsels and tender ministrations as earth did not
afford? Does he anticipate daily returning mercies and sources of
enjoyment more rich and varied than those possessed here, in order to
bring him back to God? Will he possess a healthier body, a happier
home, holier society, a more beauteous world with fairer skies and
brighter landscapes, or any of those innumerable blessings which have
such a tendency to tame and soften the rudest nature? Shall means of
grace be afforded more powerfully calculated to enlighten the mind,
convince the understanding, influence the will, or draw the affections
of the heart towards God? Shall Sabbaths of more peaceful rest dawn
upon the troubled heart, or sacraments of more healing virtue be
administered? Can retreats be secured where God's Word may be read
and prayer enjoyed with more undisturbed repose? Will the gospel be
preached more faithfully, and a people be found more loving and pious
to assemble for public or private worship? Can a Saviour be offered
more able or willing to save, and the Spirit of God be poured down
upon the burning soil in more plenteous or life-giving pentecostal
showers? Is this how men picture to themselves the place in which they
expect to atone for past sins by limited suffering? Impossible!
They are thinking of a world better and more glorious than the
present;--not of a hell, but of a heaven!

Even if such a place were prepared for the impenitent and wicked, what
conceivable security is there that a new mind and spirit would be
the necessary result of those new and enlarged benefactions? We
must assume that the power of sinning remains, otherwise man's
responsibility would cease, and punishment thereby become mere
cruelty. If sin is thus possible, then why may not the sinner indulge
there in the same selfishness, disobedience, and rebellion which
characterised him here? Why may it not be with him as with many a man
who loves sin in the low haunts of profligacy and crime, but loves it
not the less when brought into circumstances of greater comfort and
among society of greater godliness? But should it be otherwise,
and the supposed place of future punishment have none of those
advantages,--and we are forced by the necessity of the case to assume
their absence, at least for a limited period, and to admit, in some
form or other, the presence of a dread and mysterious sorrow,--we
ask again, on what grounds is it concluded that this anticipated
punishment shall itself possess a healing virtue to produce, some time
or other, that love to God which, up till the hour of death, has never
been produced in the sinner? Men attach, perhaps, some omnipotent
power to mere suffering, and imagine that if hatred to sin and love to
God are all that is needed, then a short experience of the terrific
consequences of a godless past must insure a godly future. Why do
they think so? This is not the effect which mere punishment generally
produces on human character. Its tendency is not to soften, but to
harden the heart,--to fill it not with love, but with enmity. It
cannot fail, indeed, to make the sufferer long for deliverance from
the pain; but it does not follow that he thereby longs for deliverance
from the sin which causes the pain, and for the possession of the good
which alone can remove it. It is certainly not the case in this
world, that bad men are always disposed to repent and turn to God in
proportion as they suffer from their own wilfulness, and become poor
from idleness, broken in health from dissipation, alienated from human
hearts by their selfishness, or pass, with a constantly increasing
anguish, through all the stages of outcasts from the family; dwellers
among the profligate; companions in crime; occupiers of prisons;
members of convict gangs, till the scaffold with its beam and drop
ends the dreadful history. Such punishment as this, constantly dogging
the crime which at first created it and ever preserves it, only makes
the heart harder, fans the passions into a more volcanic fire,
and possesses the soul with a more daring recklessness and wilder
desperation. And arguing from this experience, to which men appeal, as
if it was truer than the Word of God, what more special virtue will
punishment have in the next world than in this? What tendency will
there be in that long night of misery to inspire a man with the love
of God, whose very character, and whose holy and righteous will, have
annexed the suffering to the sin? If the sinner's character is not
thereby reformed, and all the while he retains his responsibility,--as
he must do on the assumption that reformation is possible,--and if he
continues to choose sin with more diabolical hatred to the good, is it
imagined that such a process as this, of continued sin accompanied by
continued mental suffering, will at any period render him mere meet
to enjoy the holiness of heaven than when he first departed from the
world to enter upon his new and strange probation? Oh, the more we
think of it, the darker does the history grow,--the faster does the
descent of the evil spirit become, clown that pit which, from its very
nature, seems to be bottomless! If means are discoverable there more
suited to gain the end of moral regeneration than any which exist
here, let them be pointed out. We have searched in vain to find them
in the Word of God, or in the mind and history of man.

Making every allowance for the real difficulties which beset this
question, and for the peculiar feelings, partly allowable, and largely
the reverse, with which it is entertained, we have no doubt that many
have been driven to the extreme of utter disbelief in the existence of
any punishment by the bold and presumptuous manner in which they may
have heard men consign all the heathen, and all Christendom, with the
exception of a very few, to this awful doom. Infants even have not
escaped the condemnation of some who, professing to have more orthodox
faith than their neighbours, have really little or any faith at all
in God, but utter mere words to which--in this case, fortunately for
themselves--they attach no meaning. For if they did, what would life
be to them, believing that it was possible for their babe, because of
Adam's sin, to be cast for all eternity into literal fire? But while
we have perfect confidence in the salvation of infants, and of many
more, we dare not condemn any. The living God, who alone knows each
man, may be dealing in ways beyond our comprehension with the most
lonely savage, whose inmost spirit He ever sees, and who is of more
awful value in His sight than all the stars of the sky. How the
living and omniscient Spirit of God has access to the inner spirit of
man, I neither know nor could perhaps understand if it were revealed;
nor how He can teach that spirit without the gospel or the ordinary
means of grace, so as to bring it under law to God. But when I saw
a child (Laura Bridgman) who was born deaf, dumb, and blind,
marvellously educated by the genius and wisdom of her remarkable
instructor, I could not but feel how grand ends might be accomplished
in the human soul by means which before this experience I would have
pronounced as impossible;--and it suggested also to me how a poor
heathen even, like that blind girl, might be really taught by another
person, and be receiving light within, though for a time utterly
ignorant of either the name, the character, or the purposes of the
unseen and unheard teacher, who yet in his own way gradually was
training his scholar for fellowship with God and man.[A] We ignorant
and sinful men must confine our judgments as regards others to what is
right or wrong in their actions, and that solely to guide ourselves in
our personal duties towards God and one another. But as to deciding
the eternal fate of any man, that, thank God! can be done only by Him
to whom all men belong. When disposed to occupy the throne of the
judge, and to scrutinise human character with a jealous regard for the
righteousness of God, let us at once do so by summoning ourselves to
the bar!

[Footnote A: As an illustration of this, see a remarkable account of
a North American Indian, narrated by Brainerd in his Diary, date
September 21, 1745.]

This, however, amidst all perplexities we may certainly rely upon with
perfect confidence, that whatever is finally decided, and whatever
punishment is finally awarded to any, will be in accordance with the
perfect will of "God, whose name is love;" so that all the true and
just, the good and loving in the universe, will, when they know all
the grounds of His judgment, sympathise with their whole soul in His
decisions, and see His glory revealed in them. We also know that there
will be "a multitude greater than any man can number" in God's family;
that they will be gathered "out of every nation, kindred, and tongue;"
and this we may hope for, that the number of the lost may be to those
who are saved fewer far than the number of those in penal settlements
and prisons are to the inhabitants of a well-ordered and Christian

But not only are our thoughts of future punishment naturally darkened
into deepest gloom by the assumed multitudes of those who will suffer,
but also by the nature of those sufferings which we also assume are
to be assigned to them. We literally interpret all those images of
unquenchable fire and the undying worm, borrowed from the constant
conflagrations and corruptions of the offal and carcases of dead
animals in the valley of Hinnom, (or Gaienna,) near Jerusalem, and
also the obviously metaphorical language used in the parable of the
rich man and Lazarus, as if necessarily teaching that worms or fire
would be employed to torture for all eternity the immortal bodies
of the lost. But what if there is to be no such bodily pain? though
possibly there may be some kind of physical suffering immediately
produced by sin there as well as here. What if the wicked shall be
punished only by permitting them to "eat the fruit of their own way,
and to be filled with their own devices?" What if, instead of the
wrath of God being poured upon them to the utmost, it will be
inflicted in the least possible measure, and only in the way of
natural consequence? What if the sin which makes the hell hereafter,
is, in spite of all its suffering, loved, clung to, even as the sin is
which makes the hell now? Nay, what if every gift of God, and every
capacity for perverting His gifts, are retained; and if the sinner
shall suffer only from that which he himself chooses for ever, and
for ever determines to possess? I do not say that it must be so;
but if it is so, then might a hell of unbridled self-indulgence be
preferred then, as it is by many now, to a heaven whose blessedness
consisted in perfect holiness, and the possession of the love of God
in Christ, for ever and ever. Let, then, the fairest star be selected,
like a beauteous island in the vast and shoreless sea of the azure
heavens, as the future home of the criminals from the earth; and let
them possess in this material paradise whatever they most love, and
all that it is possible for God to bestow; let them be endowed with
undying bodies, and with minds which shall for ever retain their
intellectual powers; let them no more be "plagued with religion;" let
no Saviour ever intrude His claims upon them, no Holy Spirit disturb
them, no God reveal Himself supernaturally to them; let no Sabbath
ever dawn upon them, no saint ever live among them, no prayer ever be
heard within their borders; but let human beings exist there for
ever, smitten only by the leprosy of hatred to God, and with utter
selfishness as its all-prevailing and eternal purpose; then, as sure
as the law of righteousness exists, on which rests the throne of God
and the government of the universe, a society so constituted must work
out for itself a hell of solitary and bitter suffering, to which no
limit can be assigned except the capacity of a finite nature. Alas!
the spirit that is without love to its God or to its neighbour is
already possessed by a power which must at last create for its own
self-torment a worm, that will never die, and a flame that can never
more be quenched!

* * * * *

And yet, when forced to come to this conclusion, especially after
reading the Scriptures, which in our judgment but confirm it, and give
it the sanction of Divine authority, who can, even then, with his
human heart silence a "timid voice which asks in whispers" many
questions suggestive of what would appear to be the brighter hope?
"Who can limit" (in some such form might those questionings be put)
"the resources of God's infinite love and wisdom? May there not be
found means, though yet to us unknown, and as yet unrevealed, by which
the good shall ultimately triumph over the evil,--when every being
whom God has originally made capable of love and joy will at last
fulfil His glorious purpose,--when every sheep lost to the Shepherd
will be found, and brought with rejoicing back to the fold,--when
every lost piece of money with the King's image, defaced, yet not
destroyed, will be recovered from the dust and restored to the King's
treasury,--and when every prodigal, weary of his wanderings, convinced
at last, through self-inflicted misery, of his folly, and remembering
a Father, will return to that bosom which never can reject a child
seeking there his rest and refuge,--until, finally, there shall not be
throughout creation even one sinner, but a mighty family of immortal
beings, who, after their terrible experience of the reign of self,
shall freely and joyfully accept of the reign of the blessed and
loving God? If it is possible, must it not be so? May we not, in
our darkness and difficulty, rely upon One who, knowing man's fallen
condition, yet said, Increase, and multiply, and replenish the earth?
upon One who declared it to be a legitimate source of joy to every
mother that a child was born to the world? upon One whose love to all
whom He has made is to our love as the light of the mighty sun to a
fire-fly's spark wandering in darkness?"

"Oh, yet we trust that somehow good
Will be the final goal of ill,
To pangs of nature, sins of will,
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood

"That nothing walks with aimless feet;
That not one life shall be destroy'd,
Or cast as rubbish to the void,
When God hath made the pile complete:

"That not a worm is chosen in vain;
That not a moth with vain desire
Is shrivell'd in a pent-up fire,
Or but subserves another's gain.

* * * * *

"So runs my dream: but what am I?
An infant crying in the night:
An infant crying for the light:
And with no language but a cry.

* * * * *

"I falter where I firmly trod;
And falling with my weight of cares
Upon the great world's altar stairs,
That slope through darkness up to God,

"I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope
And gather dust and chaff, and call
To what I feel is Lord of all,
And faintly trust the larger hope."

With deep sympathy for all who thus feel the weight and pain of the
subject, and who hope against hope, we ourselves are compelled to
abide in our first faith. We cannot forget that Jesus Christ, the Son
of God and the Son of man, who was perfect love, truth, and life, has
neither Himself, nor through His apostles, given us by one word the
slightest ground for hoping that any man who leaves this world an
enemy to God will ever repent and become a friend of God in the
next. The whole teaching of Scripture is one with what prudence and
principle would dictate:--Believe in Jesus; now or never!

Hear, in conclusion, God's Word:--"For God so loved the world, that he
gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not
perish, but have everlasting life.... He that believeth on him is not
condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he
hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And
this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men
loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.... He
that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth
not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."

Hebrews ii. 1, 3:--"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed
to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them
slip.... How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which
at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us
by them that heard him."


It would be very difficult, I think, to put a more serious question to
ourselves than this, What is to become of its after death?

All of us, I daresay, know from experience what is meant by
thoughtlessness or indifference about our state for ever. There are,
no doubt, some who, from having had a godly upbringing in their youth,
or at least religious instruction, have always thought more or less
about what would become of their souls. Perhaps these thoughts made
them uneasy, afraid, or anxious; but still they were often in their
mind, especially in times of sickness, or when death came near their
doors, or any event occurred which obliged them to think of eternity,
and of what might happen to themselves if they were to die suddenly,
and appear before God. But there are others, again, who seem never at
any time to have had a serious thought about their life after death.
They have, perhaps, not had the same advantage with those I have been
speaking of, but from infancy have lived among worldly-minded people,
who gave the impression, by their conversation and general conduct, on
week-days and Sundays, that this world was everything, and the next
world nothing; that this world alone was real; and that man's chief
end was to labour in it, and for it alone, to make money in it, be
happy in it, get everything for self out of it, and, as a matter of
hard necessity, at last die in it, and go from it--Whither? Ah! who
could tell that?--who ever thought of that? To them it seemed that
death ended all that was reality, and began all that was visionary.
But whether early education is to blame, certain it is that many
people do come to this state. They seem stoneblind to the future. Not
one ray of light gets an entrance into their spirits from the great
and eternal world, on whose confines they every moment live. They
think, fear, hope, rejoice, plan, and purpose; but always about this
world,--never about the other! To rise in the morning; to be occupied
during the day; to buy and sell, and get gain; to talk on politics or
trade; to gossip about people, and all they speak or do; to marry or
give in marriage; to have this meeting or that parting; to give a
feast or partake of one; to fear sickness, and to keep it off; or to
be sick, and to try and get better:--all this sort of life, down to
its veriest trifles, they understand and sympathise with, and busy
themselves about. But what of God and Christ?--of eternal joy or
sorrow?--of how a man should live to God, please Him, enjoy Him, love
Him, and walk daily in fellowship with Him? What of such questions
as,--What shall become of us in eternity? What shall we do to be
saved? How shall we obtain life eternal? How shall we fulfil the end
of our being? All this--oh, strange mystery!--has no interest to them.
These thoughts, or any like these, never cross their mind, perhaps,
from morning till night, or from the first till the last day of the
year. They may, perhaps, have heard these words, read them in books,
or heard ministers speak them from the pulpit on Sunday, and they know
that the words have to do with what they call "religion," but never
think they have to do with what awfully concerns themselves! They are
words, but not about realities; or if they express realities, yet
realities which belong to some world of mist, and cloud, and darkness,
far, far away--one not nearly so real as this world of their own, made
up of fields and barns, streets and shops, sea and ships, friends and
action! But what, let me ask, separates us from that world which we
think to be so very far off--so very unreal? The thin coat of an
artery! No more! Let the thin pipe burst through which our life-blood
is now coursing in the full play of health, and where then will our
present world, now so very real, be to us? In a single second it will
have vanished for ever from our grasp, like something we clutch at
in the visions of the night. And where then will that other world be
which to many is now so dim and unreal as not to be worth thinking
about? We, the same living persons, will be in it--in the midst of
all its realities; and with these we shall have to do, and with these
only, for ever and ever.

But many people do not wish to think about the unseen future. It is
not so much that no thoughts about it intrude themselves upon their
minds, as that all such thoughts are deliberately banished. It is with
the eternal future as with anything which here gives them pain,--they
"hate to think about it." This, of course, arises from the suspicion,
or rather the conviction, that it cannot be a good future to them.
They have read enough about it from the Bible to make it alarming. At
all events, they have no security for its being to them as happy as
the present; and so, whether from a fearful looking for of judgment,
because of their sins, or from ignorance of the means of salvation,
or from unbelief in the good-will of God as ready to save them, the
result is, that they voluntarily shut their eyes to, and banish all
thought of, eternity. It pains them--it agonises them--to put the
question, "What is to become of me when I die?" And the more pain the
question gives them, the more they fly to the world, and occupy their
minds with its society, its amusements, and even its dissipation and
debaucheries, in order to banish care and snatch a fleeting joy. O my
brother, if you so act, from my soul I feel for you and pity you! For
the sick-bed is coming, and you may be compelled to think there; and
if so, you are treasuring up tenfold agony for yourself, by your
present off-putting apathy and wilful thoughtlessness. And should
you manage, even in the time of sickness, and up to the very hour
of death, to shut out the future from your mind; should long and
inveterate habit enable you to succeed in the terrible, suicidal
experiment, so that you shall die as you have lived--fearing nothing,
because believing nothing,--can you avoid entering the other world?
Can you prevent a meeting between yourself and your God; or silence an
accusing conscience for ever; or hinder Christ from coming to judge
the world; or fly from the judgment-seat, and by any possibility delay
or prevent a minute examination of your life; or stay the sentence
which the omniscient and holy Judge shall pronounce upon you? And if
you cannot do this,--and if, rather, every power, faculty, and emotion
of your heart and soul must one day be roused to the intensest pitch
of earnestness about your eternal destiny,--do you not think it wise,
my brother, to think about all this now?--now, when there is a
remedy, rather than then, when there is none?

This suggests another reason why possibly you hate to think about the
future. Not only are you conscious of want of any preparedness for it,
but you do not see how it can be much better with you. You have, in a
word, lost confidence in God--have no faith in His good-will to you.
You think of Him--if you think of Him at all--as one who watches you
with a jealous or angry eye; who has no wish that you should be better
or happier than you are; or who, if He can save you, will not; or who,
if He will, offers to do so only on such hard and impossible terms
as to make it practically the same as if there was no salvation
for you. In one word, you suspect God hates you, or at least is
indifferent to you--if, indeed, He knows anything at all about you,
which you are not quite sure of! It is very shocking to write such
things: but it is much more shocking that any one should think or
believe such things; for he who so thinks and believes is as yet
profoundly ignorant of God. What is called God, is as unlike Him who
is the living and true God as is any hideous idol in a heathen temple.
But this ignorance breeds fear--and fear, hate--and hate increases the
fear, until the future, in which this God must be met, is put away as
a horrible thing, or never thought of at all.

But, my brother, why should you thus think of God, and so fear to
think of the future? Read only what the Bible says of Him, and learn
what true Christians know of Him, and listen honestly to how your
own conscience responds to all you hear about Him, and then consider
whether you can conceive of one more glorious in his character, or
more worthy of your love. Peruse the history of Jesus Christ, and tell
me anything He ever said or did calculated to fill your heart with
fear or hate towards Him,--and remember, that he who sees Him sees the
Father. Think of all Jesus suffered as our atoning Saviour, and all
"to bring us to God." Think of all God has promised to those who will
only trust Him through Jesus,--the pardon of all sin, and the gift
of a new heart; with everything which can do them good, or make them
happy; and say, How can this make you dislike God? Think of all He has
given you since you were born,--friends and relations, health of body,
powers of mind, much time, many happy days, innumerable mercies and
sources of enjoyment; think how liberally, ungrudgingly, He has opened
His hand; think what patience, forbearance, kindness, He has shewn,
and what the eternal future has in store for all who love Him; and
tell me, What has He done to make you dislike Him? Reflect on what
He could have done and could do, if He disliked you as you dislike
Him, and say, How can you continue in your enmity? O my brother, "Only
believe!" Believe that "God is love." Believe that "in this is
manifested the love of God, that He gave His Son to be a propitiation
for our sins." Believe that He willeth not that any should
perish,--that He has no pleasure in the death of sinners,--that He
is ready to forgive,--that this is the record, that "God hath given
eternal life." Believe--trust in God for the good, the whole good, the
most perfect good, that of a child's heart and sincere love towards
Him, which He seeks in you--trust God for this through faith in
Christ, and in the mighty power of that Spirit who is love; and
depend upon it, when you know God, and see how excellent He is, and
understand His love to you, and what He is willing to make you, and to
give you, and, above all, when you know what He himself will be to
you for ever, you surely cannot choose but Him! and "there is no
fear in love; because fear hath torment!"


By moments in life, I mean certain periods which occur more or less
frequently in our history,--when the spirit in which we then live, the
step we then take, the word we then utter, or what we at that moment
think, resolve, accept, reject, do, or do not, may give a complexion
to our whole future being both here and hereafter.

Let me notice one or two features which characterise those moments.

They may, for example, be very brief. Napoleon once remarked, that
there was a crisis in every battle, when ten minutes generally
determined the victory on one side or other. Yet on the transactions
of those few minutes the fate of empires may hang, and on the single
word of command, rapidly spoken amidst the roar of cannon and the
crash of arms, the destinies of the human race be affected. Men in
public life, who are compelled every day to decide on matters of
importance, appreciate the value of minutes, and estimate the
necessity of snatching them as they pass with promptness and
decision;--of "taking advantage of the chance," as they say, knowing
well that if that moment is allowed to pass, "the chance" it brings
is gone for ever; that whatever their hand "finds to do" must be done
then or never. The results to them of what they decide at that moment
may be incalculable. What is then done may never be undone; yet not
another second is added to the time given them for action. Within the
germ of that brief moment of life is contained the future tree of many
branches and of much fruit.

What a brief moment, indeed, in our endless life is the whole period
even of the longest life on earth! It is compared to a vapour, which
appeareth for a short time, and then vanisheth away; to "a watch in
the night,"--"a tale that is told." And if we but consider how nearly
a third portion of our threescore years and ten is necessarily spent
in sleep; and add to this the years spent during infancy while
preparing for labour; during old age, when our labours are well-nigh
past; and many more consumed in adorning and supporting or giving rest
to the body; and then if, after summing up those years, we deduct what
remains of time at the disposal of the oldest man for the formation
of active thought and the improvement of his spiritual being, oh! how
brief is the whole period of our mortal life, when longest, though its
transactions are to us fraught with endless and awful consequences!

Another characteristic of those moments in life is the silence with
which they may come and pass away. No "sign" may be given to indicate
their importance to us. They do not announce their approach with the
sound of a trumpet, nor demand with a voice of thunder our immediate
and solemn attention to their interests; but stealthily, quietly, with
noiseless tread like spirits from another world, they come to us, put
their question, speak the word, and vanish to heaven with our reply.
In after years, possibly, with "the long results of time" to guide us
upward as by a stream to the tiny threads of this fountain of life
and action, we may be able in a greater degree to realise of what
tremendous importance they were to us. "Had we only known this at the
time!" we exclaim, as we revolve those memories, and think of all we
would have said or done;--"had we only known!" But it is not God's
will that we should know how much of the future is involved in the
present, or how all we shall be is determined by what we may resolve
to be or do at any particular moment. Such a revelation would paralyse
all effort, and destroy the mainspring of all right action. Sight
would thus be substituted for faith; the fear of evil consequences
for the fear of evil; and the love of future benefits for the love of
present duty. God will have us rather cultivate habitually a right
spirit at each moment, so as to be able to act rightly when the
all-important moment comes, whether we then discover its importance
or not. Let us not be surprised, then, if God comes to us, not in the
strong wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but only in the still small
voice which speaks to the heart or to the conscience, demanding
the conduct which becomes us as responsible beings and as obedient

But let me illustrate these remarks by a few examples of "moments in
life," and such as must come to us all.

It is a solemn "moment in life" when the glad tidings of the love of
God in Christ Jesus are heard and understood. Remember that we are
saved by "the truth;" born again "of the Word;" sanctified "by the
truth." To receive the truth of God, then, as a living power into the
mind and conscience, is of infinite importance to us. Now, while God's
truth comes to us "at various times and in diverse manners," there are
moments in life when we cannot choose but feel as if it was addressing
our inner spirit as it never did before, and earnestly knocking for
admission. The circumstances in which this appeal is made may be what
are called commonplace; such as when hearing a sermon preached from
the pulpit, when reading a book by the fireside, or when conversing
for a few minutes with an acquaintance; yet at such times truth
expressed in a single sentence, or in a few words, may search our
spirits, and gaze on us with a solemn look, saying, "Thou art the man
I am in search of!" But, as it sometimes happens, the circumstances in
which we are thus arrested by the truth, and are compelled to listen
to it for weal or woe, may be peculiarly impressive; as when we are
ourselves in sickness or danger, or when addressed by a parent or dear
friend on their dying bed, or when in deep family distress, or when
standing beside the grave that conceals our best earthly treasure from
our sight. At such moments the voice of God's Spirit is awfully solemn
as He cries, "Now is the day of salvation;" "To-day, if ye will hear
His voice, harden not your hearts;" "Believe and live."

These moments may be very brief. The crisis of the battle between God
and self, right and wrong, truth and falsehood, may be concentrated
into a few minutes. But time sufficient is, nevertheless, given
wherein to test our truthfulness, the soil in which truth grows, the
mirror that reflects its beams; time sufficient is given to say Yes
or No to that God who claims our faith and love. Truth comes with
authority and majesty as an ambassador from the living God, and with
clear voice, pure eye, and an arm omnipotent to save, offers to give
light, life, and liberty to the captive spirit. But we may evade his
bright glance, and close our ears to his voice, and refuse to consider
his claims, and deal falsely with his arguments; we may reject his
offers, and, shrinking back from his touch and his helping hand,
retire into the gloom of self-satisfied pride, preferring the darkness
to the light; or we may make merry with Heaven's ambassador, and mock
him as they did the prophet of old; or cry out, "Away with him!" as
the world cried to the Lord of light and life. And what if the second
ambassador never comes again with such pressing earnestness, but
passes by the door once so rudely closed against him, and will knock
no more? Or, though he may in mercy return again and again, what if
the eye gets blinded by the very light which it rejects? and the ear
becomes so familiar with the voice, that it attracts attention no
more than the winds that beat upon the wall; and the heart becomes so
hardened as to be unimpressible, until the dread sentence is at last
passed,--"Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched
out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my
counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your
calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as
desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress
and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will
not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for
that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the
Lord: they would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled
with their own devices."

A young man came to Jesus seeking eternal life. "Jesus, looking on
him, loved him," and answered his prayers by teaching him how eternal
life could alone be attained. But the young man went away sorrowful,
because he had much riches. What a history was contained in that brief
moment of his life!

Again, young King Agrippa, along with the young Bernice, hear a sermon
from Paul the prisoner. The outward picture presented to the eye on
that day had nothing more remarkable or peculiar about it than
has been witnessed a thousand times before and since. Those royal
personages entered "the place of hearing" with "great pomp,"
accompanied by "the chief captains and principal men of the city." And
before them appeared an almost unknown prisoner, upon whom his own
nation, including "the chief priests and elders from Jerusalem,"
demanded the judgment of death to be passed. That prisoner, "in bodily
presence weak and contemptible," was however "permitted to speak for
himself;" and verily he did speak! He spoke of God and Christ; of
repentance and the new life; and of his own glorious commission to
"open the eyes" of men, "to turn them from darkness to light, from the
power of Satan unto God, that they might receive the forgiveness of
sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified through faith in
Jesus." What a revelation was this from God to man! The voice which
spoke from Sinai and through the prophets, the voice of Him who is
truth and love, spoke at that moment of life through Paul to those
royal hearers, and to the captains and principal men. But Agrippa,
with a sneer or with some conviction of the truth, replied, "Almost
thou persuadest me to be a Christian." Unlike St Paul himself, when
the Lord spoke to him on his way to Damascus, Agrippa was disobedient
to the heavenly vision. And so the sermon ended; the gay multitude
dispersed; the place of hearing was left in silence, and echoed only
the midnight winds or the beat of the sea-wave on the neighbouring
shore. St Paul retired to his cell; Agrippa, Festus, and Bernice, to
their chambers of rest, to sleep and dream by night, as they slept and
dreamt by day. But they never heard the apostle preach again! It
was their first and last sermon; that moment in their life came and
passed, but never returned. Like two ships which meet at midnight on a
moonlit sea, those two persons, the prisoner and the king, spoke, then
each passed into the darkness, and onward on their voyage to their
several ports, but never met again! Oh, how awful are such moments
when truth reveals herself to the responsible spirit of man! And so,
my reader, does it ofttimes happen between thee and God's Spirit. Let
me beseech of thee to "redeem the time," to know this "the day of
thy visitation," and to hear and believe "the word of the Lord."

Another "moment in life" which may be specially noticed, is that in
which we are tempted to evil. Temptations are no doubt "common to
man." Our whole life in a sense is a temptation, for whatever makes a
demand upon our choice as moral beings, involves a trial of character,
and tests the "spirit we are of." But nevertheless there do occur
periods in our lives when such trials are peculiarly testing; when
large bribes are offered to the sin that doth so easily beset us,
tempting us to betray conscience, give up principle, lose faith in the
right and in God, and to serve the devil, the world, or the flesh.
Such moments may be very brief, yet decisive of our future life. They
may come suddenly upon us, though possibly many notes of warning have
announced their approach. For they are often but the apex of the
pyramid to which many previous steps have gradually and almost
imperceptibly led; the beginning of a battle, which must at last be
fought, and very shortly decided, but yet the ending of many previous
skirmishings. Be this as it may, that moment of life does come to us
all, when evil like the enemy appears to concentrate against us its
whole force, and when we must fight, conquer, or die; when like a
thief it resolves to break into our home and take possession; when as
a deceiver it promises happiness, and demands immediate acceptance or
rejection of the splendid offer,--"All these will I give thee, if thou
wilt fall down and worship me!"

What a moment is this in the life of many a young person. How
unutterably solemn is the first deliberate act which opposes
conscience, rebels against the authority of God and of His law, shuts
out the light, and prefers darkness. Future character, and the life
and happiness of years, may be determined by it. The step taken in
that brief moment, the lie uttered, the dishonesty perpetrated, the
drunkenness or debauchery indulged in, the prayers for the first time
given up, and the father's home left for the far country. Who can
realise the consequences of those first acts, or estimate the many
links of evil, and the endless chain itself, that may connect
themselves with the one link of sin fashioned in that moment of life!
Who can foresee the streams ever increasing in breadth and depth which
may flow from this letting in of water! Would God that my readers,
young men especially, would but believe in the possibility even of the
choice they make at such a time determining their future destiny. The
thought of this might at least make them pause and consider.

There is no exaggeration in this language. To realise the danger, all
we need assume is the law of habit; for, according to that law, we
know that any act of the will, good or bad, has a tendency to repeat
itself with increasing ease and decreasing consciousness, until it
becomes a "second nature." Hence the first resistance of evil is much
less difficult than any subsequent attempt; and he who in one moment
of life could by a manly effort become a conqueror, and enter on a
life of principle and peace, may, by yielding, very soon sink down
into a degraded slave, who is held fast by the iron chain of habit,
each link of which he has himself forged by his own self-will.

What a moment was that in the life of Herod when he permitted evil
desire for Herodias to enter his soul. That desire conceived sin, and
sin when finished brought forth death. Acts passed into habits,
and habits into a life of abandoned passion. Then came the festive
birthday, and the dancing before him of the daughter of his paramour;
and then the foul murder, with the spectacle of the bloody head,
closed eyes, and sealed lips of the greatest and noblest man of his
time; and then followed the hour when Jesus Himself was brought before
the murderer, when the Lord spoke not one word of warning, rebuke,
or mercy to him, but smote the wretch with the terrible wrath and
righteous judgment of silence!

What a moment in life was that, too, when Judas welcomed covetousness
into his heart as a most profitable guest. Then one day Covetousness
offered him thirty pieces of silver if he would betray his Lord; and
Judas agreed to the proposal. A whole eternity of misery was involved
in that moment of his life: for the night soon arrived when the
bargain was to be kept. A few moments more, and the history will end
here to begin elsewhere. Yet there is not a sign on earth or heaven
to indicate the importance of that brief hour to Judas! He forms one
among the most distinguished company that ever sat at the same table
since the earth began; and never did mortal ears listen to such words
uttered by human lips, nor did mortal eyes ever contemplate such
a scene of peace and love as was witnessed in that upper room in
Jerusalem. But the hour has struck, and Judas rises to depart. The
deed of darkness must now be done. It is late, and he has made a most
important appointment; unless he keeps it, he may lose his money; and
what a loss to the poor follower of a man who had nowhere to lay His
head! Judas leaves that company; and what was there in things visible
to make him suspect even that an awful moment of life--his last--had
come? All was calm within that upper room,--all was peace in the world
without. The naked heavens shone in the calm brilliancy of an Eastern
night The streets of Jerusalem, along which the traitor passed on his
dreadful errand, echoed his footsteps in their silence. Yet Judas,
"the son of perdition," was at that moment on his way "to his own

And thus it is with many a man in the hour of temptation. The voice of
sin speaks not loudly, but whispers to his inner spirit. He pursues
his path of evil without alarm being given by sight or sound from
heaven or earth. There is nothing in the world without to disturb the
thoughts and purposes of the world within his false and unprincipled
soul. The moment of his life brings the temptation, and he yields his
soul to its power, and the moment passes with as noiseless a step;
and soon the last moment comes, and passes away; but he too has
noiselessly passed away with it "to his own place!"

The "moment in life" when we are called upon to perform some positive
duty, is one which is often very critical and full of solemn
consequences to us. The duty may appear to be a very trifling
one,--such as writing a letter, visiting a friend, warning some
brother against evil, aiding another, or sympathising with a sufferer
in his sorrow. But whatever the work may be, and in whatever way it is
to be performed, whether by word or deed, by silence or by speech,
yet there is a time given us for doing it, very brief perhaps,
and unaccompanied by any sign to mark its significance,--a time,
nevertheless, when whatever has to be done must be done quickly, "now
or never."

Such a moment in life was that in the history of the three apostles
who accompanied our Lord, at His own request, in order to watch
with Him in His last agony. As a man, He deserved their thoughtful
presence, their watchful sympathy, when enduring the dread sorrow
which filled His cup, from realising by anticipation all that was
before Him. Thrice He came to them from the spot, not far off, where
He wrestled in prayer with His terrible agony.

Thrice He found them asleep. "What!" he asked, "could ye not watch
with me one hour?" Ah! they knew not what an hour that was!--what it
was to Him--what it was and might have been to them! They might have
had the joy, the exalted privilege, which for ever would have been as
a very heaven of glory in their memory, of sharing, through the power
of sympathising love, the burden of their Lord's anguish. But they
yielded to the flesh, and permitted that moment of time to pass; and
when they at last roused themselves from their slumber, it was too
late. That moment in life had come and gone, and could return no more.
"Sleep on, and take your rest; behold, he who betrayeth me is at

And thus it often happens in the life of us all. An hour is given us
when something may be done for our Lord or our brethren, which cannot
possibly be done if that hour is permitted to pass away unimproved.
Then we may teach an ignorant soul, or rouse a slothful one to action;
we may alarm one who is lethargic, worldly, sensual, "without God or
Christ in the world," so as to win him to both; or we may comfort the
feeble-minded, and support the weak. Circumstances may give us the
opportunity, and the "moment in life," when such works may be done.
The persons to be helped are perhaps inmates of our dwelling; they are
our relations: they are sick or dying; or they have cast themselves
upon our aid. But we let the moment pass. The work given us is
not done. We have neglected it from sloth, procrastination,
thoughtlessness, or selfishness. And we may become awake to our
culpable negligence, and rouse ourselves to duty. But, alas! those
whom we could have aided are past help. They are dead, or are removed
from our influence, or in some way "past remedy." And so the moment
in life given us is gone, and gone for ever, except to meet us and to
accuse us before the bar of God. And thus it is with duty in countless
forms. What our hands find to do must be done quickly, if done at all,
and in the time given us. If not, a night comes, and may come soon and
come suddenly, in which either we ourselves cannot work, or in which,
though at last willing to do it, it is no longer given us to do.

But there is one moment in life--and I conclude by suggesting it to
your thoughts--which must come to every man, and which generally comes
with signs sufficiently significant of its importance,--I mean the
last moment which closes our life on earth. Come it must. And, as an
old writer remarks, "the day we die, though of no importance to the
world, is to ourselves of more importance than is all the world." That
moment in life ends time to us, and begins eternity; it ends our day
of grace and begins the day of judgment; it separates us from the
world in which we have lived since we were born, and introduces us to
the unseen, unknown world of things and persons in which we must live
for ever during the life of God. What a moment is this! It may come in
the quiet of our own chamber, or amidst the confusion and excitement
of some dread accident by land or sea; it may be heralded by long
sickness or old age, and accompanied by much weakness and bodily
suffering. But if that moment, when it comes, is to bring us
peace, let our present moments, as they come, find us watchful,
conscientious, believing, and prayerful. And should these words of
mine be read by chance by one who has begun his last moment without
having begun the work for which he was created, preserved, and
redeemed, let me beseech of him to improve it by repentance towards
God, and faith in Jesus Christ, who will pardon his sins, give him a
new heart, and save him as he did the thief on the cross. If every
hour of his day of grace has been misimproved, let not this last be
added to the number. If he has stood all the day idle, let him in the
eleventh hour accept his Master's work of faith alone in his own soul,
and do what he can for the good of others. But let this moment in
life pass, then shall the next moment after death bring only fear
and anguish; for, be warned and also encouraged by the words of
the truthful and loving Jesus, uttered with many tears, over lost
souls,--"If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day,
the things that belong unto thy peace; but now they are for ever hid
from thine eyes!"


These words seem to me to express the idea of true labour, such as God
calls us to, and in the doing of which there is a great reward. They
imply that the living God has a work to do on earth, in men and by
men; that in this work He has--if I may so express it--a deep personal
interest, because it is one worthy of Himself, and for the advancement
of His own glory, and the good and happiness of man.

Now, God wishes us to know this work, and to sympathise with Him
in it. He does not conceal from us what He wishes done, or what He
himself is doing; nor obliges us to remain for ever blind as to His
will and purposes regarding ourselves or others; so that, if we work
at all, we must work according to our own wills only, and for our own
purposes. Instead of this, He reveals in His Word, by His Son, through
His Spirit, and in the conscience, what His will is--what He wishes
us to be and do. Nor does He say to us, "Learn my commands, and
obey them; but seek not to know why I have so commanded." Were it
impossible, indeed, to know why any command was given, the mere fact
of its injunction would itself demand instant compliance; "but,"
says our Lord, "I have not called you servants, but friends, for the
servant knoweth not what his lord doeth." The servant or slave does
not occupy the place which the friend does. The one hears only what
is commanded; but the other, through personal acquaintance with the
master, is enabled to sympathise with the righteousness and love in
the command. The friend not only knows what, as a servant, he must
do, but sees how right and beautiful it is that he should be commanded
so to do. In like manner, we read that God made known His "ways" to
Moses, but only His "acts" to the children of Israel. This revelation,
of principle and plan to His servant was indeed a speaking with him
"face to face;" and thus does God speak to us now in these latter days
by the grace and truth revealed in His Son. And it is only when we
thus know God's work on earth, and when, from a will and character
brought into harmony with His, we see how excellent the work is, that
we can be, not labourers only, but "fellow-labourers" with God;--not
workers only, but "workers together with Him."

Consider, for instance, the work of God in our own souls. This is,
as far as we ourselves are concerned, the most important work in the
universe. Upon it depends whether the universe shall be to us a heaven
or a hell. "What will a man give in exchange for his soul?" is a
question which assumes that to the man himself nothing can be so
valuable. But has God any work to do in our souls? Has He ever
expressed any wish as to what He would have us believe, become, or
enjoy, or revealed for what end or purpose He made our spirits? Is
there no wrong state or condition in us with which He is "angry" and
"grieved," and no right state with which He is "delighted," and over
which He "rejoices?" Has He laid no command upon us to "work out our
own salvation with fear and trembling?" and has He given no intimation
of His "working in us to will and do?" Or is it to Him the same
whether we are wrong or right? Surely we can have no difficulty in
replying to such all-important questions! If a man loses faith in the
reality and sincerity of God's wish, that he personally should have
his guilty soul freely pardoned, and his unholy soul sanctified, and
his whole being renewed after God's own image,--that he himself should
be a good, a great, a happy man, by knowing and loving his God; and if
a man brings himself to such a state of practical atheism as to doubt
whether God knows or cares anything about him;--then it is impossible
for such a man to be "a fellow-labourer," a "worker together" with God
in his own soul; for he does not know and has never heard of any work
of God required there. But if he believes that God is indeed his
"Father in heaven;"--that He has goodwill to him, and therefore
desires his good by desiring him to be good;--that, for the
accomplishment of this end, all has been done which is recorded in the
Bible, from Genesis to Revelation;--that God has been working in him,
through agencies innumerable, since his childhood, by parents and
friends, by tender mercies and bitter chastisements, by Sabbath
ordinances and pulpit ministrations, by the constant witness of
conscience and the Word of God, in order that he should know and love
God his Father,--then, seeing this, will he see also how he may be
a "fellow-labourer with God." And have not you, my reader, been
conscious of this work? You cannot get quit of the conviction that
there is One higher than yourself with whom you have to do,--One who
is ever with you, seeking to deliver you from evil, from your own evil
self,--One whose voice is never silent, and who is righteously judging
your daily life. And have you never been conscious, too, of fighting
against what you certainly knew was not self, but a holy, winning,
mysterious power or Person, who opposed self, and for that very
reason was resisted by self? And therefore your sin has not been the
ignorance of good, but opposing the good,--not the absence, but the
resisting of a good work in you. It is on this very principle men will
be condemned, for "This is the condemnation, that light hath come
into the world, and men prefer darkness to light, because their
deeds are evil." And if this has been your sin, so has it been your
misery. In exact proportion as you thus "hated knowledge, and did not
choose the fear of the Lord," you become wretched and unsatisfied. No
wonder! for with whom does the man work when he works in opposition
to the will of God? In refusing to serve God, he serves Satan, and
becomes a "worker together" with "the spirit who now worketh in the
children of disobedience!"

Well, then, what are you to do? I reply: "Yield yourselves to God;"
"be subject to the Father of your spirit, and live." "Wherefore do
you spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that
which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye 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." Instead
of being workers against, seek to be "workers together" with God in
your own souls; to have His "work of faith and love," and everything
beautiful and holy, perfected in you. Believe in Jesus Christ as the
living Person who alone can and will save you, by pardoning your sins,
and giving you His Spirit to make you like Himself. Begin your work by
assuming that God is working in you to will and do; and because
you have Him, through His omnipotent Spirit, working in you, do not be
as one who beats the air in aimless and profitless warfare, nor strive
against nor grieve that Spirit, but through Him "work out your own
salvation." In thus pleading with you, I feel that I myself am but
working with God; for I can say with the apostle, "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. We then, as workers together with Him,
beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain."

Put this question in another way: Suppose you had met Jesus Christ
when He was on earth; that you had listened to one of His appeals when
He preached the gospel from city to city, and felt His eye looking
at you as He spoke in His own name, and in the name of His Father,
saying, "Come unto me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I
will give you rest"--"The Son of man hath come to seek that which is
lost," and the like; that you had witnessed the delight it gave Him to
do good, and to find any one willing to receive His overflowing love,
and the sorrow He endured when men would not believe in Him or trust
Him, but preferred remaining without the blessing; and that you
had accompanied Him during His ministry on earth, and studied His
character from all you saw and heard,--could the impression made upon
you in such circumstances be thus expressed, "I believe that Thou
carest not for me; that my well-doing or ill-doing are equally matters
of indifference to Thee; and that there is no faith or love that Thou
desirest to see accomplished in my soul?" Would you have dared to
speak in anything like this strain of blasphemy to the holy Saviour
had you met Him? Or would you not have been overwhelmed by the
conviction, that whether you yielded to His wishes or not, these
wishes were clear and unquestionable--that from His character as a man
having fellowship with God, His work as the Saviour of sinners, His
revealed will as Lord, nothing could be more certain than that He
wished you personally to be holy and happy through faith in His
name; and accordingly, that if you accepted His call, and His offer
of power to be so, you were but working with Him; and that if you
neglected both, you were certainly working against Him?

But with this personal Saviour you have to do just as really and truly
now as any of His disciples who had followed Him when on earth; and
so I beseech you to be fellow-labourers with Him in His own holy and
living work within your own soul. Let your prayer then be: "Thy will
be done! Let Thy holy and loving will, my Father, be done in me! I
believe in Thy forgiveness, and am at peace with Thee, according to
that will, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. And as this
is also Thy will, even my sanctification, and Thy revealed purpose,
that I should be made conformable to the image of Thy Son, so let Thy
grace, which is sufficient for the chief of sinners, daily bring this
salvation into me, by teaching me to deny ungodliness and worldly
lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present
world; that so learning Christ, taking up His cross daily, following
Him and being disciplined by Him, I may be taught to put off the old
man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and to be
renewed in the spirit of my mind; and, as Thine own workmanship, be
created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works. Amen!"

Let us consider for a little longer God's work in us, by His
providential dealings towards us. A moment's reflection will suffice
to remind you that God, in His providence, is constantly working with
you. He is, for instance, a wonderful Giver. "He gives us all things
richly to enjoy." "He openeth His hand liberally." His mercies are
more than can be numbered; though as a father He also chastises His
children. "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away." Now, in whatever
way God deals with us, whether He gives or takes, there is a purpose
which He wishes accomplished. He has a work to do in us by every joy
and every sorrow. There is a voice for us in the rod of darkness, and
in the ray of sunshine; and it is our duty, our strength, our peace,
to hear that voice, and to know that work of providence so as to be
fellow-labourers with God in it. Perhaps you are disposed to excuse
yourselves for want of sober inquiry into God's dealings with you,
by saying, that it is very hard to know, and often impossible to
discover, what object or purpose He has in view when sending to us
this gift or that grief. In some cases it may be so; but it is much
to know and to remember what God's purpose is not, and what He can
never wish to have accomplished, either by what He gives to us or
takes from us. Never can it be the purpose of God, in any case, to
advance the work of Satan in our souls, or to retard within us the
coming of His own glorious kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in
the Holy Ghost. Never can He send us a gift to make us proud, vain,
indolent, covetous, earthly-minded, sensual, devilish, or in any
degree to alienate us from Himself as our chief good. For whatever
purpose He fashioned our body with such exquisite care, providing
so rich a supply for all its senses, it was not, assuredly, that we
should make that body the instrument of degrading and ruining the
immortal soul, and of sinking our whole being down to a level with the
beasts that perish! He never gave beauty of form to make us vain
or sensuous; nor poured wine into our cup that we should become
drunkards; nor spread food on our table merely to pamper our
self-indulgence and feed our passions. He never gave us dominion
over the earth that we should be Satan's slaves. He never awoke from
silence the glorious harmonies of music for our ear, nor revealed to
our eye the beauties of nature and of art, nor fired our soul with the
magnificent creations of poetry, that we might be so enraptured by
these as to forget and despise Himself. He never gifted us with a
high intellect, refined taste, or brilliant wit, to nourish ambition,
worship genius, and to become profane, irreverent, and devil-like, by
turning those godlike powers against their Maker and Sustainer. We
cannot think, that if money has been poured at our feet, He thereby
intended to infect us with the curse of selfishness, or to tempt us to
become cruel or covetous men, who would let the beggar stand at our
gate, and ourselves remain so poor as to have no inheritance in the
kingdom of God; or to make us such "fools" as to survey our broad
acres and teeming barns with self-love and worldliness, exclaiming,
"Soul, take thine ease; thou hast much goods laid up for many years;
eat, drink, and be merry;" or to tempt us to refuse the cross, and to
depart sorrowful from Christ, because we had great possessions; or to
choke the seed of the Word as with thorns, so that it should bring
forth no fruit to perfection! Can it be possible that He has spared
our family, and enriched us with so many friends, in order that, being
"so happy" with them, we should never wish to know God as our Father,
Christ as our Brother, or have any desire to become members of the
family of God? Has He given us so much pleasant, useful, or necessary
labour in the world, that we should forget the one thing needful, and
leave undone the work for which we were created? Has He given us the
Church, the ministry, the Sabbath, the sacrament, that we should make
these ends instead of means--instruments for concealing, rather than
revealing our God and Saviour? And if the Lord has taken away, and
visited us with sharp sorrows and sore bereavements, was this "strange
work" done by Him who does not "willingly afflict" His children, in
order that we should have the pain without the "profit," "faint under"
or "despise" the chastisement, or become more set upon the world and
the creature, more shut up in heart against our Father, more dead to
eternal things, or fall into despair, and curse God and die?

Without prolonging such inquiries, enough has been said, I hope, to
enable you to apprehend what I mean by our being fellow-workers with
God in all His works of providence that concern ourselves. We believe
that these things, whether of joy or sorrow, do not come by chance,
nor through the agency of dead mechanical laws, but that a living
Person is dealing with us wisely, lovingly, righteously,--that, in
truth, "the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away," and that,
accordingly, there must be a design or purpose to serve in what He
gives or withholds,--that this never can be an evil purpose, but must,
in every case, be good, and that we may derive good and a blessing
from it. Let us, then, be fellow-workers with Him in seeking, through
faith and love, to have this purpose realised, and to have the end
designed by God fulfilled in us or by us, so that every joy and sorrow
may bring us nearer the glorious God, and make us know Him better, and
love Him more, and thus possess "life more abundantly," even "life

But not only is there a work to be done in us, but also by us, in
the doing of which we are to be "labourers together with God."

This kind of labouring with others is illustrated by Saint Paul when
he says, what I have already quoted, "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. We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that
ye receive not the grace of God in vain." He is here, you perceive,
addressing those who were enemies to God, and beseeching such to be
"reconciled." But in what spirit does he plead with them? In labouring
to bring them into reconciliation with their Father, and to save their
souls, he does not feel himself alone and solitary in his work and
labour of love; as one prompted by his own goodwill to lost sinners,
and his own wishes to redeem them from evil, yet in doubt or in
ignorance as to what God's wishes or feelings were in regard to them.
He does not proclaim the gospel to one or to many sinners with such
thoughts as these: "It is no doubt my duty to preach to them, and to
plead with them, and from my heart I pity them, love them, and could
die to save them; but whether God pities them or not, or truly wishes
to save them, I do not know, for I am totally ignorant of His will or
purpose." Surely such were not the apostle's convictions! Did he not
rather engage in this work of seeking to save souls with intense
earnestness, because he knew that however great his love, it was but a
reflection, however dim, of the infinite love of God to them, and his
desire to save them but a feeble expression of the desire of God? Was
he not persuaded, that in "beseeching" them to be reconciled, he could
speak "as though God did beseech" them by him, as one "in Christ's
stead;" and that "in beseeching" them "not to receive the grace of God
in vain," he was but "a worker together with God?"

In this same spirit may we, and must we seek to do good to others.
We dare not look upon our brother as one belonging exclusively to
ourselves, or one dear to ourselves only, but as one belonging to God
his Creator, and dear to God his Father. We must ever keep before us
the fact, that there is a work which God wishes to have accomplished
in his soul, as well as in our own; and that our brother is given to
us in order that we should be workers together with God in helping
on that good work. And if so, this will very clearly teach us at least
what we ought not to do to our brother. We should never, by word or
by example, by silence or by speech, strengthen in his spirit the work
of evil: for that is not God's work. For when we flatter his vanity,
feed his pride, shake his convictions of the truth, or when, in any
way whatever, we lay stumbling blocks in his path, or tempt him to
evil, we are surely not workers together with God. In our conduct to
our brother, let us ask ourselves, Is this how Christ would have acted
to any one with whom He came in contact when on earth? Is this helping
on His work now? But, on the other hand, when our brother's soul is
dear to us,--when, at all hazards, we seek first, and above all,
his good,--when our love is such that we are willing to have its
existence suspected, and ourselves despised and rejected by him, even
as our loving Lord was by His "own whom He loved," rather than that we
should selfishly save ourselves, and lose our brother; then indeed we
are labourers together with God, and possess the spirit of Jesus! Oh,
little does the world understand the deep working of this kind of
love, which, however imperfect it may be, yet burns in the heart of
Christians only, because they only partake of that love which is
possessed in perfection by Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us!

Let us, then, remember that we are not to concern ourselves about
another's good as if we were alone in our labours, our wishes, and
our sympathies; as if we really cared more than God does about the
well-being of this relation or of that friend. Let our love flow out
with all its force, and express itself with holiest longings and
tenderest sympathies; yet infinitely above all this love is the love
of our God and their God! In our truest and holiest working be assured
that we are but a worker together with Him, the true and holy One,
otherwise our labours could not be right; for they would not be in
harmony with God's will, or such as He could command or bless.

The same principle applies to our more extensive labours for the good
of the whole world, and is the very life and soul of home and foreign
missions. We can enter the abodes of ignorance and crime at home, and
ply with offers of mercy the inhabitants of the foulest den, and plead
with every prodigal to return to his Father, because we believe that
in all this we are in Christ's stead, and are warranted to beseech in
God's name, and with the full assurance that we are not working alone,
but "together with God." We can visit any spot in heathendom,
cheered and borne up by the same assurance amidst every difficulty,
discouragement, and danger. Whatever else is doubtful, this, at least,
is certain, that in every endeavour to save sinners, we are but
expressing our sympathy with Jesus in His love to them, in His longing
to see of the travail of His soul, and to be satisfied in their
salvation; and that when experiencing the deepest sorrow because
men will not believe, we are only sharing the sufferings of Him who
mourned on account of unbelief, and wept over lost Jerusalem because
it would not know the things of its peace. All this is as certain
as that there is such a living person as the Saviour, unchanged in
character, everywhere present, seeing the evil and the good, hating
the one and loving the other, whose labour and whose joy is that God's
name should be hallowed, His kingdom come, and His will be done on
earth as it is done in heaven.

Oh, how depressing, how deadening, to have any doubts as to this
reality of the interest which our God and Saviour takes in the good of
human souls! How must the dread thought silence the tongue, wither the
heart, and paralyse the hand, that however ardent the wish influencing
us to be good ourselves, or to do good to others, God is indifferent
to both, and has no real interest in either--as if we had more love,
more holiness, and more desire that the kingdom of righteousness
should advance, than the loving and holy God! Nay, how is it possible
for us to have any true love at all to human friends unless it is
first kindled by Him, and is in sympathy with Him, who loved His
neighbour as Himself?

Let me here remind you of the only other alternative set before
you,--it is the awful one of being a "labourer together" with Satan.
Our Lord rejects neutrality; for such is really impossible. He
recognises the no real friend as a positive enemy. "He that is not
with me is against me;" "He who gathereth not scattereth;" "Ye cannot
serve God and mammon," but must serve either. Now, Satan has a work
on earth. It is this spirit which "worketh in the children of
disobedience." Will we, then, work with him in his desire to destroy
our own souls? Will we have "fellowship with the unfruitful works of
darkness," and take part with that wicked one in his dread work of
opposing the kingdom of light, and advancing the kingdom of darkness
in the world? Will we assist him in tempting others to evil,--in
entangling souls more and more in the meshes of sin,--in propagating
error and opposing truth? And will we, by our words and example,
by our coldness or open opposition, help to keep any man back from
Christ, or to drag down to hell a neighbour or friend, a brother,
sister, or child? A labourer together with Satan! Oh, consider the
possibility of this being the record at judgment of our history, that
we may start, as from a nightmare, from so hideous an imputation!
Instead of anything so inconceivably dreadful being true of us, may we
know and love the Father, through the Son, and by His Spirit, and thus
realise more and more in all our labours the strength and blessedness
of being "labourers together with God!"

The more we reflect upon this principle which I have been
illustrating, the more we shall see that it is the life of all true
work, and can be applied to any work in which a Christian can engage.
The true artist, for example, ought to occupy the elevated position
of being a labourer with God in faithfully, industriously, and
conscientiously working in harmony with Nature, which is "the Art of
God." He ought to study, therefore, the sculpture, the paintings, the
music, of the Great Artist, and understand the principles on which He
produces the beautiful in form, in colour, or in sound. The humblest
mason who plies his chisel on the highest pinnacle of a great
building, or who fashions the lowliest hut, should have an eye to Him
who makes all things very good, and for conscience' sake, ay, for
God's sake, he should, to the very best of his ability, work in the
spirit of the Great Architect, who bestows the same care in building
up the mountains, moulding the valleys, fashioning the crystal, making
a home to shelter the tiny insect, or a nest where the bird may rear
her young. Without loving our work, and doing it to the best of our
ability, as in the sight of God, we cannot be fellow-workers with Him
who hath made our bodies so wonderfully, and cultivated our souls so
carefully; for "ye are God's building"--"ye are God's husbandry."




"An awakening" expresses better than the stereotyped phrase "revival,"
the idea of a wide-spread interest in religious truth. This is the
response to the righteous demand, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and
arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light," for at such a
time men but awake to the reality of truth, which was previously dim
and shadowy to them as things seen in dreams; or formerly the awful
facts of God's revelation had been as pictures hung up on the wall,
which now suddenly become alive.

Before entering on the discussion of this rather delicate subject, there
is one question which we would respectfully press upon the attention of
the reader, and that is, Whether he would like a revival of genuine
religion? We do not question him regarding his sympathy with any
particular form in which the supposed revival might come, far less with
any of those peculiarities which are supposed by some to be necessarily
characteristic of a revival; but supposing that such an awakening or
revival occurred by means of any agency, or any process, that it was
accompanied by such outward signs of calm and peace as he himself would
select, and that its results were unquestionable;--supposing that
society was unusually pervaded by a spirit of truth and holiness, that
no countenance could be given to evil by word, look, or sentiment, but
only to all that was pure, lovely, and of good report,--would such a
heaven upon earth be readily rejoiced in by him? If this question is
fairly and honestly put to the heart and conscience, the manner in which
we entertain the thought of the mere possibility of a revival becomes a
trial of our own spirit, a test of our sincerity when we pray, "Thy
kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."

The weakest Christian has but one answer to give to such a question.
He may be pained by anticipating the contrast which he thinks is not
unlikely to be presented between himself and others more holy; or he
may fear that what is false and fleeting, but more attractive, may, in
a time of excitement, usurp the place of what is real and permanent,
though less obtrusive; but he cannot but desire with his whole heart
that he himself and all men may become more and more awake to the
realities of truth, and be revived as by the breath of a new spring,
so as to grow more in grace, and bring forth more fruit to the glory
of God.

For, given that a revival is possible,--that a wide-spread interest in
the will of God towards men, with a corresponding power vouchsafed to
know it and do it, may be suddenly produced and permanently sustained
in the minds of men,--we ask, Is not this the one grand blessing
from God which we require? To the question, "What wilt thou that I
should do unto thee?" which we may conceive our loving Lord putting
to His blind, deaf, lame, even dead brethren of mankind, does not
the response come from individuals and congregations, from solitary
mourners, and from unhappy hearts, from the weary, the hopeless, the
despairing, the labourers at home and abroad--"Life, Lord! We need
life in our souls, life in our duties, life in our minds, life in
our families, life in our teaching and hearing, in our working and
praying, life in all and for all!"

All our clergy constantly need a revival of genuine life,--life which
no parishioner might be able to define, but which, if there, every one
would soon perceive. It would be felt in every home like the breath of
spring, experienced beside every sick-bed like a touch of healing, and
be heard in every sermon like a voice from heaven. Oh, what a
heavenly gift to himself and others would this be, and what a time of
refreshing from the Lord! And how many would share the blessing,
now hindered, perhaps, by his own unbelief and satisfaction with
indifference. For though "dead" ministers may in some rare cases have
succeeded in saving souls, we never heard of living ones who had
in every case failed. God has ordained that a living ministry--the
preaching of those who utter what they themselves know from personal
experience to be true--shall be His most powerful instrumentality for
converting the world. We believe, accordingly, that every minister,
whose own soul became alive, would soon find that his life was
contagious, and that his living spirit would tell upon other spirits
in a way never before realised by him. That indescribable impression
made by a genuine Christian character, which never can be successfully
imitated, would exercise a marvellous influence upon all with whom he
came in contact; and if he had one sorrow for life, it would be
the remembrance of the dark and horrible time when he was a mere
formalist, dead to the eternal interests of his own soul and the souls
of others.

Again, What parish does not stand in need of such a quickening? Few
ministers are encouraged and stimulated to aim at and attain higher
measures of good, from the abounding evidences of Christian life among
their parishioners. Many more are tempted, by all they see around
them, to wax cold in love, and to lower their standard of personal
and ministerial life,--to become quite satisfied with the every-day,
stereotyped formalism of things around them, or to submit to it as if
it were a doom. The very smile of incredulity with which the account
of alleged revivals is received,--the wonder which good men express,
if told of many being awakened by the mere preaching of the Word
in some congregation or district,--only indicates how all hope has
perished of our people over becoming what the preacher in words
urges them to become, or of their ever being delivered from the
torpor, the indifference, the death, which in words he tells them
are the preludes of coming death eternal. Is not our hope well-nigh
lost regarding many a parish; and what but the quickening and reviving
power of God's Spirit can restore it?

And is there no revival needed in our most living congregations? We
may, indeed, have cause to thank God for many signs of genuine life
within them, and for such good works as indicate a living spirit in
the body. But in the most encouraging cases we have more cause to
deplore the vast extent of the ground where the seed sown has been
carried away, withered, or choked with thorns, rather than to rejoice
in the small patches which may be bringing forth fruit. Let any
minister, as he surveys his congregation, and as he visits them from
house to house, ask himself the question, How many of these really
care about Christ, and ever pray to Him, or try to serve Him? and
making every allowance for our ignorance of other men's condition,
for the life that may be hidden from the eye, yet will there not be
innumerable evidences, forcing upon him the conviction, that if the
doctrines he preaches are true, death reigns to a very awful extent
even among members of the Church? We do not wish to exaggerate, or
make out a case against pastors or their flocks, but we leave it to
every candid man who will dare to look the truth in the face, to deny
the existence among us of a, mighty want--the want of a revival of
spiritual religion among both.

Once more, let us look at our missions, and consider whether there
is any need of a revival in this department of Church life. We confess
that a mingled feeling of shame and sorrow swells our hearts as we
think of the contributions, whether of men or of money, furnished
by all Christendom for the conversion of heathendom. It is not
that Protestantism is behind Romanism even in the number of its
missionaries, while in quality, and even permanent and holy results,
we never will compare these two sections of the Christian Church. But
how can we hope to possess such missions as shall be worthy of the
Protestant Church, without a revival of spiritual religion throughout
the parishes, families, theological halls, and congregations of Europe
and America? Is it too much to expect, for example, that Christian
parents, who would now rejoice if their sons received "an excellent
civil appointment in India," or "a commission without purchase," or "a
partnership in a first-rate house," shall also rejoice in the prospect
of one of their children becoming a missionary of the Cross? Is it too
much to expect that those licensed to preach the gospel shall love
the work for the work's sake, and that some years at least of health
and strength may be given to the foreign field? What is needed more
than a revival among our preachers, before we can look with hope for
a revival in our missions?

And, finally, is not a revival much required to banish the
estrangement, coldness, envy, which exist between the clergy of
different Churches? There are delightful exceptions, where genuine
Christian goodwill and love exist. But, alas! we sadly miss the want
of that manly, truthful maintenance of what appears to us to warrant
our own church organisation, with that just appreciation of the sense,
principle, and judgment of those who have no sympathy with our views.
Surely every great branch of the Church has at this time of day proved
to every honest and fair man, that enough can be said in its favour
to justify a man in belonging to it without his belying his Christian
profession, or being either a fool or a hypocrite. Yet, what an inward
chuckling is often manifested at each other's blunders, failures,
or even sins,--what a straining for the masteries between the rival
sects,--what an utter absence, in innumerable cases, of the slightest
sign or symptom of that Christian love and forbearance which is the
very proof of being children of God--nay, how little of the good
breeding and kindness which are universal among gentlemen! And all
this evil, and more than we have described, is often glossed over with
such an evangelical phraseology, that what is of the earth earthy is
made to appear as if it were heavenly; and the coarsest product of the
coarsest and most vulgar vanity, self-seeking, and pride is so painted
and misrepresented as to look like love of principle or love of truth.
What will put an end to the proud antagonism, the Popery, the Church
idolatry of Protestantism? Can it ever be that we shall carry one
another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ, and so love
the Church and its Head as to love ourselves and our sections of the
Church less,--that we shall so love our brethren of every name,
that their sins shall be our grief, and their well being our
blessing,--that we shall be willing to decrease, if Christ only
increases, by whatever means He may in His sovereign wisdom select?
In one word, can it be that Christian ministers and people of every
church shall, in any town or district, come to love one another with a
pure heart fervently, because loving the Lord? Who would not long for
such a blessed consummation! "But, behold, if the Lord could make
windows in heaven, might this thing be!" So we exclaim in our
unbelief. But, unless we have lost all faith in the power of God's
Spirit, why should we not believe that God can open the windows of
heaven, and pour forth such showers of His grace that ministers shall
believe what they know, and act as they teach, and be what they
profess, and that thus the parched places shall rejoice and blossom as
the rose. Then, indeed, would be fulfilled the gracious promise made
to a renewed Church:--"For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth
with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you
into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the
brier shall come up the myrtle-tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a
name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off."



It cannot be denied that very strong prejudices are entertained by
many of our most intelligent, sober-minded, and sincere Christians
against revivals. It is both unjust and untruthful to allege that
their real objection is against all vital godliness and genuine
Christianity. Such persons as those we allude to love both, and desire
the advance of truth as truly and sincerely as any "revivalist" in the
land, and much more so than many who bear the name. But from their
education, their temperament, their views of truth, and from what they
have seen or heard regarding the "revival movements," they have been
led to question the reality of sudden conversions, the evidence of the
instrumentalities and means ordinarily employed to effect them, and
the correctness of the teaching imparted, either to awaken or build
up; while other things which appeared always to accompany "a revival,"
as if essential to it,--such as the extravagant and exaggerated coarse
addresses of some, the impudence, conceit, and spiritual pride of
others, the thrusting aside, as if of no value, all that was quiet,
sober, and truthful, and the bringing forward all that was noisy,
demonstrative, talkative, and excited,--has had such an effect on
their minds that the very name of "a revival meeting" produces a
feeling of repulsion and aversion as against a falsehood.

Now, we do not profess by any means to defend whatever has presented
itself to public notice in any village or district as "a revival." A
good name, whether assumed by men, meetings, or movements, does not
necessarily make either of them good or worthy of their name.[A]

[Footnote A: It is very unfair to represent those clergy as opposed to
revivals who may not have attended "revival meetings." These meetings
were often summoned and managed by self-appointed committees of
laymen, whose names were unknown to the clergy, and no guarantee
whatever was afforded as to who would address them, or how they would
be conducted. Clergymen, therefore, were unwilling either to attend
as mere spectators, or to appear on the platform, where they might be
placed in the unpleasant position of either opposing or acquiescing
in what was said or done. They, therefore, confined their labours to
their own flock, thankfully acknowledging the good which may have
been done by others in the way which seemed best to them; and also
themselves finding, when sought, a portion of the blessing for their

On the other hand, whatever form revivals may take, or have taken, in
any country or district, whatever mistakes have been made, or whatever
evils have accompanied them or been occasioned by them, yet we cannot
admit that any objections can be valid which would hinder us from
hoping for such wide-spread and rapid extension of the gospel as we
have never yet seen, nor from believing that a very real and genuine
revival has to a remarkable extent taken place, and is yet going on,
throughout our country and the world.

But let us briefly state the ordinary objections against revivals:--

1. "We have no great faith in sudden conversions," is a form of
expression in which we hear revivals objected to, when the subject
happens to be the topic of conversation in ordinary society.

Alas! how many have little faith in the necessity of any conversion!
A want of hearty conviction regarding human sinfulness and guilt, and
a tendency rather to flatter man's character, worship his genius, and
almost deify his powers, lies too much at the root of many of the
views and feelings of our day about religion; and hence there is a
corresponding want of faith in the necessity of that "new life" which
some time or other every one must possess, or in the "supernatural"
means required either for the removal of man's guilt and his
restoration to the Divine favour, or for the renewal of man's nature
and his restoration to the Divine image. There are, in short
very inadequate convictions--if these are brought to a Scripture
test--either as to the state out of which or into which every man
must be brought before he can be saved. But, nevertheless, there are
moral necessities grounded on the character of God as it is, and the
character of man as it is and ought to be, which remain the same in
every age and clime. Some of these necessities are expressed by such
declarations as--"Ye must be born again." "Except ye be converted,
and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of
heaven." "If any man is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature."

Yet while conversion is absolutely necessary for every man, we by no
means assert that its inner history must, in each step, be necessarily
the same, though the results must be essentially the same in every
case. The Spirit of God, who works when and how He pleases, may, in
some cases, so work in the soul from its earliest years, that the time
when the seed of a new life entered it, and the process by which it
has gradually increased there, until it now brings forth fruit, are
both unknown. Not unknown is the fact that life is there, for it
is recognised and evidenced by its fruit, but when it began may be
unknown; and the rate or successive stages of its increase may be
equally unknown, or at least unmarked.

This is true in some cases--or, let it be admitted, in many cases,
chiefly among those favoured ones who have been reared from childhood
within the paradise of a truly Christian home,--still, why should
we deny the reality of many conversions on the mere ground of their

We shall not appeal to authentic historical facts to refute the
objection, but simply remind our readers of such sudden conversions as
those of Paul the apostle, the jailer at Philippi, or the thousands on
the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem. Would we be warranted in rejecting
those, because a few days or hours only marked a transition from death
to life, from darkness to light, from their serving Satan to serving
God, from being enemies to their being friends of Jesus?

But apart from this evidence, what, we would ask, is there in the
nature of conversion inconsistent with its alleged suddenness? There
may indeed be a preparedness for it that may occupy much time, as
dawn ushers in the sunrise, or as months of travail precede the "child
born into the world;" and there maybe results whose character may
require time to determine. Nevertheless, why should not conversion
itself, apart from its antecedents or consequents, be sudden? Let us
consider briefly what conversion is.

It is not, for example, the attainment of good habits nor even the
doing of good works, though it leads to and must end in this, if
genuine. These are the results of conversion. Nor, again, does it
imply anything like a full or accurate knowledge of the Christian
scheme, far less of its "evidences;" for how little could have been
thus known by the converted jailer of Philippi, who was one day a
heathen, and the next day a baptized Christian--or by the converted
thief on the cross--or by the three thousand converts on the day of

But in conversions there must be thorough earnestness about the
salvation of the soul, or of our relationship to God. And why should
not this feeling be suddenly kindled? Men can be easily roused to
sudden earnestness, in order to save their bodies, when they realise
present danger; and why not to save their souls? If, indeed, the
soul can never be in such danger, or if a man can never be ignorant or
forgetful of the fact, or if in no circumstances or by any means
he can be roused to a sense of his danger, then may such sudden
earnestness be impossible; but if his danger is real, and deliverance
near, surely all this is possible, and even probable, and of infinite
importance, seeing that the day of grace ends with life, and life may
end in any moment. If this night a man's soul may be required to give
its account, surely on this day conversion is required to make that
account one of joy, and not of sorrow.

Conversion implies also faith in what God has revealed to us. And
why should we not at once believe God? Do we think it necessary
to hesitate for months and years ere we believe the word of an
honourable, truthful man, in matters of fact about which he cannot
possibly be mistaken? And shall we think it strange to believe God's
Word the moment we hear it? Now, that Word tells us many things which,
if true, cannot be believed without producing immediate results. It
tells us that we are lost sinners "condemned already;" that God, in
love, has had pity on us, and sent His Son to save us; that He died on
the cross for sinners, so that "whosoever believeth in Him shall never
perish;" that He lives to quicken and sanctify through His Spirit all
who will receive Him; that there is "no other name given under heaven
whereby a man can be saved;" and that "he who believeth not shall be
damned." Now, is it really impossible for a man at once to believe
all this, or even thus far to understand his danger, and believe the
gospel as the only deliverance? Does it seem strange that men should
have at once believed Christ, or any of His apostles, when they
preached? Or, does it not seem more strange that some were "fools, and
slow of heart to believe?" And why should it seem incredible that a
sincere and earnest man should now believe the moment he hears the
same gospel, and say, "I have been a great sinner in hitherto treating
this message with so much neglect! By my disbelief I have made God a
liar; I shall do so no more: Thy Word is truth. Lord, I believe; help
mine unbelief!"

Conversion implies a "yielding ourselves to God," because thus
believing in His love manifested through Jesus Christ and Him
crucified. Such a state of mind might be thus expressed: "Lord, I
shall fight against Thee no more! I believe in Thee, and yield myself
to Thee for time and eternity, to have the good pleasure of Thy
righteous will done in me and by me; to be pardoned, sanctified, and
governed wholly by Thyself, and in Thine own way. I am Thine--save
me!" Surely this attitude of soul may be assumed at once towards God
the very moment the gospel of His goodwill to us, and of His desire to
possess our hearts, is heard.

Conversion implies some degree at least of peace with God. Many
seem to think it almost presumptuous to look for peace or to expect
joy in God. "It betokens," they say, "a want of humility." Love and
humility are one. Both are a going out of ourselves, and finding our
good, strength, peace--all in God. It is surely a poor compliment to
pay a friend, if we rebuke those who dare to be happy in his presence
or to find peace in his society. What hard thoughts have men of God
when they do not see how He must ever rejoice in the good and peace of
His children! Oh, shame upon us that we do not "rejoice in the Lord
always," and possess the "love which casteth out fear, for fear
hath torment." Why, then, should it seem impossible for a man to have
peace, the moment he can say with the apostle John, "We have known and
believed the love that God hath to us?" Cannot that love be seen in
its own light when revealed? And if so, why should the possession of
immediate peace, in a degree corresponding to faith in God, seem to
be so wonderful? Would not its absence be more so? The very hope,
methinks, of pardon, when first entertained by the condemned
criminal--or of deliverance and return to home, when first realised
by the shipwrecked sailor--or of life and health, when first deemed
probable even, by the hitherto despairing invalid--or of meeting his
long-injured, but still patient and loving father, by the miserable
prodigal--may well kindle sudden joy and peace. Much, no doubt, may
have been done before any hope could dawn to the captive, to the
shipwrecked, to the invalid, or the prodigal; yet the hope itself may
suddenly flash on each, as the message enters the cell to assure the
criminal of his safety, or the signal is seen on the distant horizon
that promises succour to the mariner, or the smile plays on the
countenance of the physician, telling that the dread crisis is over
and that progress towards recovery has begun, or the remembrance of a
father's love is rekindled in the heart of the wanderer. And thus
a man who has been roused to see his moral guilt, as well as moral
depravity--to see his dread and terrible danger--may well find
unutterable peace the very moment he believes that there is for him
deliverance from the evil, and forgiveness with God, "that He may be
feared"--or even when the maybe dawns upon him that he, the hitherto
dead, careless, presumptuous sinner, has not been so shut out of his
Father's heart and home, but that there is yet grace omnipotent to
save him, to take away his sins, renew his whole being, and make him
and keep him a child of God. When the prodigal in the far country
was planning only his return, he resolved to say to his father, "Make
me one of thy hired servants!" To be for a time a very slave in his
father's house, seemed in prospect as a very paradise when compared
with his present wretchedness; but to be received at once as a
son--that he would not be so presumptuous as to dream of. Ah! he had
forgot his father's character in the far country. Unbelief had done
its work, and "cut off his hope." But however dark and dim his views
were, he nevertheless returned, was met afar off, and was at last
received in his father's arms. There he poured forth the confession
which relieved his choking heart, "I am no more worthy to be called
thy son!" True. But did he add, "Make me a hired servant?" No, he
could not, for he had already been received as a son.

Our Lord tells us how some hearers may receive the Word immediately
with joy, and yet give up when it is the occasion of their being
brought into outward perils or difficulties. Paul complained that
Demas had forsaken him, and John of many who, he says, "went out from
us." We must not think it strange, moreover, if the visible Church
should ever and anon disclose to us how much evil as well as good
it contains. Our Lord never contemplated a Church on earth as
possible--owing to the sinful offences which must needs come--which
should be otherwise than a mixture of good and bad. There was one in
twelve of His own pure apostolic Church a traitor. Among the members
of the pentecostal Church, two were struck down dead for falsehood of
the blackest kind. Among the earliest professed converts in Samaria
was Simon Magus, in the bonds of iniquity. And so it will ever be. The
field will contain tares as well as wheat, and both must grow together
till the harvest; the net must gather into it bad fish as well as
good, until the great day of final separation comes at the end of the
world. But, nevertheless, the field may now contain a glorious crop
of wheat, and the net, after a night of toil, be sometimes full of
good fish, so as to excite the wonder and praise of the "fishers of
men." Those converts who fall away have probably misunderstood the
true idea of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. They looked for
safety from punishment apart from salvation from sin; upon Jesus as a
deliverer from guilt and hell only, and not also a deliverer from
sin, by giving that life which is heaven; they looked for that life
hereafter, and not now; or they imagined faith as an act done once
for all--a coming to Christ once only for what was required, instead
of as a state which receives at once pardon and acceptance through
the merits of Christ, and abides in Christ for ever as the only
source of life.

We have dwelt upon this point longer than we had at first intended;
for the doubt so often expressed, of the possibility of one who is
lost finding immediate peace when he finds his God--and so has
found himself--betrays great unbelief or great ignorance of God. Pride
is at its root;--a desire to find something wherewith to commend
ourselves to God--some evidence of a good character first--some work
done as a hired servant, in order to entitle us with any hope to call
God father and be at peace with Him; instead of our beginning all
work by first being at peace--by our being reconciled at once to God
through faith in His love to us, revealed in the atonement of Jesus
Christ. We may just add, what every true man knows, and rejoices to
know, that the hour which begins his peace with God necessarily begins
also war with all sin in his own heart. His friendship with God
implies enmity to all in himself which is opposed to God.

2. "But the whole tendency of revivals, and of this theory of sudden
conversions by means of any man's preaching, is to disparage God's
appointments of the Church and the family for accomplishing genuine

If by this is meant that God ordinarily blesses for the saving of
souls what are termed "the means of grace," or "the truth as it
is in Jesus," whether inculcated by the parent, the teacher, or the
minister, and presented to the mind, and impressed upon it patiently
and laboriously during a course of years,--then we also believe this,
and cordially admit it. Nay, we would have all "friends of revivals"
keenly alive to the danger of so expressing themselves as to seem even
to disparage such earnest painstaking, and we would have them to
avoid seeking to attain by a summary process what thousands strive to
attain, and actually do attain, only by a prayerful diligence, which
begins with sowing the seed in childhood, and never ceases until there
is the blade and the full ear ending in the golden harvest. We feel
assured that the faithful minister who has seen many souls born to God
under his teaching, will acknowledge that these results were connected
not so much, or probably not at all, with any sudden change, from some
striking sermon he had preached, but from a series of impressions
made by pious parents in their home-training, or by himself in his
congregational class, or by the whole tone and tenor of his public
ministrations, &c. How often has it thus happened that others have
laboured, and that he has but entered into their labours! The
conversion of his hearers has been the culminating point of a thousand
appliances, and, in the vast majority of cases, it has been reached by
degrees. The glorious summit has been attained, not by a leap from the
valley, but after many preparatory steps. The light of life has not
flashed out of darkness, but has dawned by imperceptible degrees,
until the glory of God was seen in the face of Christ Jesus. If the
new life itself has been suddenly experienced, yet let us not overlook
the preparatory work of the shaking of the dry bones, then of the bone
coming to its bone, and, finally, the flesh and skin covering the
skeleton, and so preparing a home in which the living spirit could
dwell and act. We cannot use language strong enough to express our
conviction of the blessing which, as an ordinary rule, is sure to
follow from the Lord on the faithful and prayerful labour of a pious
parent, Sabbath-school teacher, or pastor. Let nothing be said in
favour of wide-spread and sudden revivals to discourage these hopes! A
true revival, we believe, shall ever, in God's own time, attend such
labours. This is emphatically true regarding the work of the ministry.
We believe that the ministry is of God as much as the Bible is--one of
the most precious gifts obtained for the Church by the risen Saviour;
and that now, as ever, the preaching of the Word by ministers duly
prepared and regularly called and ordained by the Christian Church, is
the grand means for converting sinners; that this power never grows
old or loses its adaptation to the wants of man amidst the constant
changes of society, any more than a lens does in transmitting the rays
of the sun from age to age.

Yet, with all these admissions, and with profound veneration for the
ordinary calm and methodical means of grace, we can nevertheless
believe in wide-spread sudden "conversions," and that too through
other instrumentalities, and in circumstances which leave no doubt of
their being caused by what has been termed an extraordinary outpouring
of God's Spirit. For let us beware of dogmatising irreverently as to
when and how that living Spirit shall operate on the souls of men,
who worketh according to His own counsel of unerring and inscrutable
wisdom. "Who hath known the mind of the Lord, and who hath been his
counsellor, that he should instruct him?" As a Person, He acts as
"He wills," and in every case with perfect wisdom and perfect
love. And it is in keeping with this truth, or rather a necessary
consequence from it, that God's Spirit should teach and educate
individuals and churches differently, or at least in accordance with
their respective and specific wants. If His outward dispensations
towards the same person constantly vary, yet all work towards one end,
the soul's good,--even as the combinations of the elements vary day by
day, yet all help on the earth's fruitfulness,--we might expect that
His dealings with the inner life of persons should also vary, while
one glorious scheme of education for heaven is carried on in all and
by all. And if so, why do we think it strange that an individual
should have his times of comparative spiritual darkness and light,
strength and weakness? or that churches should also experience
different kinds of treatment, so to speak, from the same wise Spirit,
yet all suited to advance more and more in the end, both in us and by
us, that kingdom which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy

Then, again, as to the instrumentalities which God's Spirit employs,
these may be often exceptional to His general rule. For it is surely a
great mercy when the regular ministry, or any other ordinance of His,
becomes inefficient through sinful indifference or unbelief, that
He should raise up in such an emergency, and that too from the most
unexpected quarters, those who will do the work which others ought to
have done. The grand end of saving lost souls, and bringing many sons
and daughters unto God, cannot be sacrificed to any organisation
ordained for that purpose when it fails either to seek it or
accomplish it. Thus

"God fulfils Himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world."

If, therefore, we find, as a matter of fact, that some one who follows
not us--why he does not follow with us we may not be able to
understand--is yet confessing Christ's name, and so doing Christ's
work that devils are cast out by him, we dare not say, "Forbid him."
Our Lord does not command us to forbid him, any more than He commands
him to follow us. He says only, "Forbid him not. He who is not against
us is for us." We all need humbly to act on such a principle. But
should we in our pride and ignorance condemn a sincere and faithful
labourer for Christ, our Lord will not confirm our judgment. On the
other hand, he who does not "follow" the ministers of Christ's Church,
whom he finds already engaged in the Master's work, must answer to the
Lord for incurring so solemn and serious a responsibility.

But we must pass rapidly and more briefly to the consideration of one
other objection to revivals.

3. "We object entirely to revivals because of the great excitement
which attends them."

To this we reply--

We admit the possibility of great excitement connected with religious
truth, in spite of the total absence of religious character. There is
no more interesting or remarkable chapter in history than that which
records the manias that have spread like epidemics at different
periods (especially during the middle ages) over Europe. They are
cases of hysteria upon a great scale; and that these should take
a religious form as well as any other is no way impossible. It has
happened a hundred times before, and will happen often again. We
have seen cases of "revival" which were purely physical, with little
religious knowledge and no religious character, in those who were most
under the influence of the preacher, but with much ignorance and great
nervous susceptibility. Preachers as ignorant as these people have
been deceived by such appearances, which, not being able to account
for by any natural cause, they at once attribute to supernatural
agency. But, putting aside those illustrations of very common physical
phenomena, we admit--

That excitement is by no means to be desired. Its tendency is to
produce reaction, and, when the fire passes, to leave nothing but
ashes behind. We may receive the Word with joy, and yet it may soon
wither; and also give our bodies to be burned, and yet be nothing.
Mere excitement is next door to grossness and licentiousness. Both
have the same sensuous elements in them. Had we our choice, we would
prefer a revival without any excitement.

It is, therefore, not only possible, but it has frequently happened,
that hundreds have been powerfully moved by a revival, have professed
faith in Christ, found peace with God, and been assured by enthusiasts
and fanatics that they were now actually "saved," who soon gave token
that they never had been saved from either gross ignorance or gross
sin, but destroyed rather by want of sense in themselves, and in those
who, from ignorance or vanity, excited their feelings, and worked on
their mere animal sensibilities.

But we have not our choice in such matters. We cannot change the laws
of the human mind, and as long as these remain, it may not in every
case be possible to prevent some degree of excitement by what so
powerfully appeals to every feeling and affection in the soul of man.
Given only that the facts of Christianity are true regarding man's
condition without a Saviour, and all that has been done for him, and
must be done in him, before salvation is possible, with the tremendous
consequences throughout eternity attached to his faith and repentance
in time,--and excitement is very natural, and not altogether
unbecoming, in him who sees and believes, and, as it generally happens
where excitement exists, who hears, these truths for the first time
in his life. Would not calm self-possession, in such circumstances,
if more reasonable, be more wonderful than excitement among those,
especially without culture? It is quite true also that excitement will
much less frequently occur among strongminded educated people, who are
accustomed to keep their emotions under control; while many, with a,
comparatively speaking, weak emotional nature, but with sound head and
sound sense, and wakeful conscience, seldom, in any case whatever,
betray much feeling. Violent excitements, as a rule, are found only
among northern nations, among the ignorant masses, or those who have
more feeling than judgment.

But why may not a wide-spread excitement about religious truths,
though in some persons a mere physical condition of the nervous
system, be the very means, under God, of arresting their mind or the
minds of others, and disposing them to consider and receive the truth
itself? What is it which we have most to complain of as an obstacle to
the gospel? Not infidelity, nor active opposition, nor ignorance, but
indifference,--cold, heartless indifference in those who may go to
church, stand up at prayer, hear or sleep, read or dream, agree with
everything the minister says, yet verily believe nothing, and are
therefore neither roused by fear nor gladdened by hope, but live on,
day by day, buying and selling, eating and drinking, respectable,
it may be, and respected, as good farmers, decent tradesmen, honest
shopkeepers, but to spiritual things in their living reality and
momentous importance--indifferent! Could any one but read the
thoughts, hear the conversation, or watch the effects on the great
mass of the hearers, one day or one hour, after hearing the most
impressive and earnest sermon, in which the minister before God
sought to save their souls, what a fearful vision of the mystery of
indifference would be revealed!

Whatever, then, breaks this up is a blessing. No excitement can be so
dangerous, so deadly, as this indifference. Better a thousand times
the wild hurricane than the calm miasma. Better the stream which
rushes impetuously over its banks, carrying with it devastation for a
time, than the dead and foetid marsh. The one may be turned into a new
channel, and made available as a power for advancing the interests of
man, but the other is "evil, and only evil continually," Whatever,
therefore, we repeat it, tends in providence to destroy indifference,
and induces people to listen with earnestness and attention to the
truth,--be it the excitement of a storm or earthquake, of a great
religious revival, or of domestic bereavement and sorrow,--whatever it
be, yet is it a blessing if it prepares the soul to receive the seed
of the gospel, by inducing men even to think seriously, as the first
condition for their ultimately believing seriously.

But this excitement which alarms so many sober-minded people was not,
after all, an element which vitiated the religious "movements" in the
early ages of Christianity. There were rational Sadducees, learned
scribes, and formal Pharisees, who were much displeased at the
excitement of the multitude when Jesus made His triumphant entry into
Jerusalem. But when our Lord was asked to rebuke them, He replied
that the very stones would cry out if these were silent. Was there no
excitement on the day of Pentecost when thousands were crying out,
"What shall we do to be saved?" The preaching of the gospel was
everywhere accompanied by such awakenings as arrested the attention of
cities and nations. Would God it were so now!

But, in once more meeting this objection, we cannot help noticing the
character of the persons who most generally urge it. How often does
one hear from the lips of the intensely worldly-minded fears expressed
at the danger of religious excitement! And if the symptoms of such a
terrible state of mind manifest themselves in son or daughter, even in
the form of thoughtfulness in regard to their duty to God, or of fear
about their state, or doubts with reference to the manner in which
they have been accustomed to spend their time and talents, how often
does the very mother who bore them become herself thoughtful and
concerned about her child! "She so much dislikes religious excitement.
She likes cheerful Christians,--religious people now-a-days are so sad
and gloomy,--she is really anxious about her poor daughter," &c. And
all this from persons who live in a constant whirl of excitement, to
whose daily life excitement is essential, not as a means of temporary
relief from severe thought and action, but as the very end of
existence. And whence is their excitement derived? From the most
contemptible and silly frivolities, from balls, parties, visits, and
gossip without end--excitements utterly selfish, which materialise the
soul, debase its tastes, enervate its powers, rendering it incapable
of all earnest labours or self-denial, and which incapacitate it from
apprehending the purity, the majesty, and the surpassing wonder of
spiritual realities. These are the persons who, forsooth! are so much
alarmed lest their dear children should become excited about the
things which arrest the attention and engage the thoughts of the
mighty angels, yea, of Jesus Christ himself. Believe it, that whatever
excitement may possibly accompany the commencement of the Christian
life in one who has never been trained to think seriously or act
conscientiously, the only persons in the world who are habitually
free from all excitement, or violent emotions of any kind, are true
Christians, because they have the "love which casteth out fear," and
enjoy "the peace of God which passeth all understanding."

We must here conclude these brief and very imperfect remarks upon
a great subject. We end, as we began, by expressing our profound
conviction that the want of all our wants is this, and this only, a
Revival of Spiritual Religion; or, in other words, genuine, simple,
truthful, honest love to Jesus Christ, to His people, to His cause,
and to the whole world! This, and this alone, will fulfil the longing
of many a weary, thirsty soul for better things than at present seem
probable or possible.

"Who will shew us any good?" is the despairing cry of many a
thoughtful man, as he passes in review before his anxious eye the dark
side of things, such as careless living students of divinity, who
are to be the future teachers of this great nation; ministers and
congregations apparently dead as stones; churches becoming idols,
claiming the reverence and love of their members, and jealous of
any other idol usurping their throne; scoffing infidelity among the
ignorant; philosophic scepticism among the intelligent; indifference
among thousands; while abroad heathen nations, with countless
millions, are opened up to the Protestant Church, which can only send
driblets of two or three missionaries here and there, many of whom go
in tears to live in comfort as well-paid gentlemen, while thousands of
common soldiers pour out their life's blood for their country. "Who
will shew us any good?" Our hope, O Lord, is in Thee! "Lord, lift Thou
up the light of Thy countenance upon us!" Pour Thy Spirit upon the
thirsty ground! Our strength is gone; arise, O Lord, and revive Thy
work among us all. Come Thou and help us, for Thy great name's sake.
The cause of righteousness is Thine own. Do Thou hear and help us,
then shall death be changed to life, and truth shall banish error, and
disunion be lost in love, and out of this valley of dry bones, and
from all sects and parties, a great army will arise, strong and united
through the power of the Spirit who will dwell in each and all, and be
mighty to pull down all the strongholds of Satan, and to advance the
kingdom of our blessed Lord at home and abroad, to the joy of men and


A Christian congregation professes to be a congregation of Christians,
and to represent the same kind of body which, in the apostolic
epistles, is termed a "church"--"saints and faithful brethren"--
"faithful in Christ Jesus"--"holy brethren."

It is not, therefore, a number of people meeting only to hear a
sermon, or even to unite in public worship, but without any visible
coherence, social life, or united action, but a body, an organised
whole; the Lord's Supper being the grand symbol of the unity of its
members with one another, and with the whole society of the Christian
Church on earth and in heaven.[A]

[Footnote A: The social character of the Lord's Supper, and its being
a constant witness to the oneness of the whole body of Christ and the
communion of saints, has been often so perverted as to have become
in the minds of many the grand test and evidence of sectarian
division, while "hearing a sermon" is the utmost latitude which is
given to the believer who wishes to testify his love to all who love
the Lord Jesus in sincerity. "I would hear him preach, but I would not
join with him," (i.e., I would not remember Christ with him,)
is the strange view of many a professing Christian, in Scotland at

Now, the congregation, as an organised Christian society, has a
twofold work to perform. The first is within itself, and includes
whatever is done by the members of the congregation for their mutual
good; the second is beyond itself, and includes the good done by the
whole body to the world "without."

It is thus with the living body of the Church as with the dead
machinery of a steam-engine, which first feeds itself with coals and
water, and then turns the wheels of the whole factory.

The inner and outer work of the congregation as a body may be briefly
indicated in a few sentences, though volumes might be profitably
filled with its details.

1. The inner work is accomplished within the soul of each member
through the preaching and reading of the Word of God, public prayer,
and partaking of the sacrament. By these means chiefly comes that
"kingdom of God which is within us," and is "righteousness, peace, and
joy in the Holy Ghost," Every other work will be done efficiently by
the whole body just as this inner work begins and progresses among its
individual members. But the fellowship and mutual aid of the members
of the Church in "considering one another, and provoking to love and
good works," and in contributing their share of God's gifts and grace
bestowed upon themselves for the comfort and edification of their
brethren, also belongs to the inner work of the Church. This will
express itself and be strengthened by meetings for social prayer and
Christian intercourse, and by those works and labours of love for
which the congregation itself has the first claim. These labours
of love include the religious instruction of its young members the
baptized children; the visitation of sick; its support of the poor
and destitute brethren. In these and other forms of well-being and
well-doing which will suggest themselves, abundant scope will, in most
cases, be afforded for exercising the energies, and calling forth the
love of the members of the congregation within the limits of their own

2. The work external to itself to be performed by the congregation,
as a body, consists generally in its "doing good unto all as God
giveth it an opportunity." The home mission within the district or
city in which it is placed will engage its first efforts; and after
that, or along with that, the aiding by its contributions and prayers
to evangelise the world.

But the point which I would specially insist upon in this paper is,
the vast importance of developing, combining, and directing the gifts
of all the members of the congregation for accomplishing both its
inner and outer work.

If we read the apostolic epistles, (see I Cor. xii. 14-27,) the
impression which, as I have already said, they give us of a Christian
congregation is that of a body so organised as that each and every
member is made useful to the whole body, and the particular gift which
God bestows upon the weakest and most insignificant (for "He
hath set the members in the body as it hath pleased Him") is so
appreciated and applied, that "the head" or "the eye"--the most
intelligent or most discerning--cannot say to that weak member, "I
have no need of thee".

It may be alleged that the congregations of the primitive Church are
not intended to be models in their peculiar organisation for modern
times. But is not the primitive Church system of union and mutual
co-operation essential to the very idea of a Christian society? And
what authority is there for its assembling together to hear sermons,
to pray, or to partake of the sacraments, which is not equally binding
for its performing of all the other duties and enjoying all the other
privileges described by the apostles as pertaining to church-members?

Now, in most cases, everything is left to the minister or his official

assistants. The calculation is never soberly made as to his bodily or
mental powers to do all which is expected of him. There is an immense
faith in both. It is assumed that he, and not the congregation, is the
body; that he alone, therefore, possesses the eye, the tongue, the
ear, and the hand;--and some ministers seem so pleased with their
elevated position as to be unwilling that any should share it with
them. But when the minister is alive to the responsibility of his
position, and when he is so fortunate as to have in his congregation
men and women who share his convictions, and are willing to share the
labour which these entail, even then there is still the tendency on
the part of the great bulk of the members to have their work done by
proxy. They have no objection that visiting, teaching, almsgiving, and
the like, should be done by "the committee,"--while the committee,
perhaps, are inclined, in their turn, to leave it to Mr A., or Miss
B., who are active members of it. It is true we must labour, in the
meantime, with whatever instrumentality God furnishes, and make the
most of it, but we must not cease to aim at realising the noble end of
making each member, according to his gifts and abilities, manifest
the spirit of Him whose saying it was,--"It is more blessed to give
than to receive!" No doubt, much wisdom is required upon the part
of office-bearers to whom the government of the congregation is
intrusted, to discern gifts, and to apply them. But the "one thing"
chiefly needed is "love in the Spirit!" It is for this we should
chiefly labour; for, let love to Jesus be once kindled by the Spirit
of God through faith in His love to us, and love, which unites us to
Him, will unite us to one another.

But admitting all we have said to be true regarding the congregations
of the primitive Church, and acknowledging, moreover, that it would be
highly desirable could such Christian congregations reappear in our
day, it may be reasonably questioned whether this is possible in the
present state of society, or whether any attempt to realise it is not
a pious imagination, which would lead to extravagances and fanatical
disorders such as have often characterised minor sects, who, in
seeking to rise up as perfect churches, have sunk down into perfect
nuisances? It may be said, "Only look at the elements you have to
work upon! Deal with the actual flesh-and-blood men and women who
necessarily form the bulk of our congregations, and not with ideal
persons. Look at this farmer or shopkeeper--that servant or master;
enter the houses of those hearers or parishioners in town or country,
from the labourer to the proprietor;--is there the intelligence, the
heart, the principle, the common sense--any one element which could
unite those members into a body for any high or noble end? They
provoke each other to love and good works, or help to convert the
world! Would it were so! but it is impracticable."

Such thoughts we have ourselves experienced with feelings of despair.
But there are others that make us hope that Christian congregations
throughout our land may yet rise out of their ashes, living bodies
imbued with life and love from their living and loving Head.

Are not all the difficulties, for example, connected with the proper
organisation of the congregation those only that pertain to the
existence of a living Christianity among its members? Given,
that church-members individually were what they profess to
be--"believers"--"disciples"--"brethren"--would they not, as a
necessary result of this character, act collectively, as we suppose a
Christian congregation ought to act? And, therefore, when we assume
that it is vain to think of congregations becoming, as a whole, and in
spite of many exceptions, living bodies of Christians--men united for
mutual good and for the good of the world--do we not thereby assume
that it is vain to expect professing Christians to become "constrained
by the love of Christ not to live to themselves, but to Him who died
for them and rose again?" Must we confess it to be utterly hopeless to
look for such manifestations now of the power of the Spirit as will
produce, in our cities and parishes, such congregations, ay, and far
better ones, as once existed in Jerusalem, Ephesus, or Philippi?

There is another thought which encourages us, and makes us hope that
these same "elements we have to work upon," and which appear to
make our congregations incapable of accomplishing the high and holy
destinies in the world to which we think they are called. It is
this: that just as there are in nature hidden forces--in a quiet
and apparently harmless cask of gunpowder, or electric battery, for
instance--which lie concealed until the right spark calls forth their
latent power into action, so there are, in many more individuals than
we suspect, hidden forces of some kind or other capable of doing
greater things than we could ever have anticipated, and which require
only the right spark of spiritual life and energy to excite them also
into vigorous action. It is thus that heroic bravery and sublime
self-sacrifice have been manifested in the hour of sudden and
appalling danger, or during seasons of long and dreadful suffering,
by those who were never until then suspected of possessing so great
a spirit, and who, but for such an occasion occurring for its
manifestation, might have been doomed for ever to remain helplessly
among the most commonplace incapables. Had a Grace Darling or a
Florence Nightingale been known only as a sitter or pewholder in a
congregation, they might have been deemed unfit for any work requiring
courage, self-sacrifice, or perseverance. But these noble qualities
were all the while in them. In like manner, have we never seen among
our working classes a man excited by some religious enthusiast or
fanatical Mormonite, who all at once seemed inspired with new powers,
braved the sneers of companions, consented to be dipped in the next
river, turned his small stock of supposed knowledge into immediate
use, exhorted, warned, proselytised among his neighbours, spoke in the
lanes and streets unabashed, and gathered his knot of disciples from
among the crowd of his old comrades, thus giving token of a force
having been lying hid in one who seemed capable only of work on
week-days and of sleep on Sundays. There is not a Hindu fakir, who
swings from a hook in the muscles of his back, or measures with his
body a long pilgrimage to Juggernaut; not a Popish devotee, who
braves the opinion of society with naked feet, comical garment, and
self-imposed "bodily exercise," but demonstrates what a man can and
will do, if the mainspring of his being is touched. There is not a
sailor or soldier who does not, at sea or in battle, shew a greatness
which he seems incapable of when seen in ordinary circumstances. It
is thus, we repeat it, that most undoubtedly there are, in every
congregation, men and women who have in them great powers of some
kind, which have been given them by God, and which, though lying
dormant, are capable of being brought out, in a greater or less
degree, by fitting causes. Nay, every man is enriched with some talent
or gift--if we would only discover it and bring it into action--which,
if educated and properly directed, is capable of enriching others to
a far greater extent than he himself is the least aware of. But what
power will develop this force? What power, we reply, in the universe
is so fitted to do so, and to bring out of a man all that is in him,
and to direct all the force of his being to worthy and ennobling
objects, as the power of a living Christianity? If the love of Jesus
Christ and Him crucified, understood, believed, felt, does not kindle
all the love in a man's heart, and fire it with all the enthusiasm,
and inspire it with all the bravery of self-sacrifice, and nerve it
with all the indomitable perseverance of which it is capable, then
we know nothing else which can do this, or anything like this.
Christianity has not become effete! It is still the "power of God and
the wisdom of God." It is still mighty in pulling down strongholds. It
can still convert "the elements we have to work upon" into instruments
of righteousness, and "make the foolish things of the world to
confound the wise;" and "the weak things of the world to confound the
things that are mighty; and the base things of the world, and things
that are despised, and things that are not, to bring to nought the
things that are." But we must have real, living, and undying faith in
Christ's life and power to do this, and be earnest in personal and
social prayer; and then only will we be able to judge as to the
capabilities of "the elements we have to work upon."

There is no department of congregational work in which the personal
ministration of the individual members is more required than in its
Home Mission. The sphere of this mission must necessarily be a
district in which the members of the congregation can labour. We may
assume that there is no district even in this Christian land in which
are not to be found a number who require to be instructed in the
gospel, and brought into the fellowship of the Christian Church, as
well as a number who require to be ministered to in private owing to
the infirmities of their bodies, the bereavements in their households,
or other necessity of supplying their temporal or spiritual wants.
In large cities not only does each district inhabited by the poorer
classes abound in what has been termed a "home heathenism;" but this
population is so fluctuating from month to month, that a more extended
and vigorous agency is required to make use of the brief opportunity
given us for doing it any good.

Now, one thing we hold as settled by the whole design of Christianity,
and amply confirmed by daily experience and observation of human
nature, and that is, that to seek and save the lost, a living agency
is absolutely necessary. Religious tracts alone won't do. Far be it
from us to write in an apparently slighting manner of what we so
greatly value as good tracts, when we can find them. But, on the other
hand, let us beware of exaggerating the power of such an agency, or
demanding impossibilities from it. A great number in our large cities
and manufacturing districts who require to be reclaimed from
ignorance and vice cannot read at all. Those who can do so are yet
so imperfectly instructed in the art as to be utterly unable to
comprehend a continuous narrative of facts, far less any exposition of
doctrine or duty; while those best able are not always willing to read
anything of a religious character. The most efficient method, in our
opinion, of making use of tracts in all such cases, is to read them,
when possible, to others, and, if necessary, explain them, and then
distribute them. But what is a dead tract to a living person?--what is
any description of Christianity on paper, as compared to the living
epistle, which all men can read?

We want Christian men and women; not their books or their money
only, but themselves. The poor and needy ones who, in this great
turmoil of life, have found no helper among their fellows; the wicked
and outcast, whose hand is against every man's, because they have
found, by dire experience of the world's selfishness, how every man's
hand is against them; the prodigal and broken-hearted children of the
human family, who have the bitterest thoughts of God and man, if they
have any thoughts at all beyond their own busy contrivances how
to live and to indulge their craving passions,--all these, by
the mesmerism of the heart, and by means of that great witness,
conscience, which God, in mercy, leaves as a light from heaven in the
most abject dwelling on earth, can, to some extent, read the living
epistle of a renewed soul, written in the divine characters of the
Holy Spirit. They can see and feel, as they never did anything else
in this world, the love which calmly shines in that eye, telling of
inward light and peace possessed, and of a place of rest found and
enjoyed by the weary heart! They can understand and appreciate the
unselfishness--to them a thing hitherto hardly dreamt of--which
prompted this visit from a home of comfort or refinement, to an
unknown abode of squalor or disease, and which expresses itself in
those kind words and looks that accompany the visit. They can perceive
the reality of the piety, which also reads to them, in touching tones,
the glory of Him who came to seek and save the lost; and their souls
cannot refuse some amen, however faint, echoed by their very misery,
and from their yearnings for a good they have never known, to that
earnest prayer of faith uttered, in the bonds of a common brotherhood,
to one who is addressed as a common Father, through a common Lord.
If ever society is to be regenerated, it is by the agency of living
brothers and sisters in the Lord; and every plan, however apparently
wise, for recovering mankind from their degradation, and which does
not make the personal ministrations of Christian men and women an
essential part of it, its very life, is doomed, we think, to perish.

It is thus that our Father has ever dealt with His lost children. He
has in every age of the world spoken to men by living men; and "God,
who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake unto our fathers by
the prophets, has in these latter days spoken to us by his Son!"

But are there any willing to labour? Yes; many are labouring, and
thousands in this land are prepared in spirit to join them; for every
Christian has a longing to do something for God's kingdom on earth,
and to employ usefully time and talents which he feels are running to
waste. Why, then, with so much to do through a living agency, and with
a great army of living agents yet unemployed, is there so little
done? We reply again, from want of congregational organisation. Our
congregations want order, method, arrangement. There is not yet a
sufficiently clear apprehension of what their calling is in the world,
or of the work given them to do; nor is there found that wise and
authoritative congregational or church direction and government, which
could at least suggest, if not assign, fitting work for each member,
and a fitting member for each work. Hence little, comparatively, is
accomplished. The most willing church-member gazes over a great city,
and asks in despair, "What am I to do here?" And what would the
bravest soldiers accomplish in the day of battle, if they asked the
same question in vain? What would a thousand of our best workmen do in
a large factory, if they entered it with willing hands, yet having
no place or work assigned to them? And thus it is with many really
self-denying Christians; because a practicable and definite field of
labour is not pointed out, the necessary result is idleness--unwilling
idleness; or self-organised and self-governed "associations,"
"committees," "societies," spring up to accomplish what the Christian
society itself was designed to, and could accomplish in a much more
efficient and orderly manner; or, as it more frequently happens, those
energies and ardent feelings, and love of excitement even, which could
have found sufficient scope for healthy exercise in such practical
labours of faith and love as we have alluded to, are soon engrossed by
merely speculative questions about "the church," or about "religion,"
and the stream which, had it been directed into a right channel, and
to a right point, would have been made a power for immense good, soon
rushes over the land a wide-spread, muddy, devastating flood, oozes
out into stagnant marshes, full of miasma and fever, or evaporates
into thin air!


"Schisms" are not peculiar to the Church of the present day, nor
are they "the result of Protestantism," as some allege, unless
Protestantism is understood to represent that doctrine which is termed
"the right of private judgment," but which might be described rather
as the absolute necessity for each man to believe the truth for
himself, and not to be satisfied that another man should see and
believe it for him. This "doctrine," which is essential to the
reception of any truth whatever, must necessarily open the way to
error; just as the possession of reason, which is essential to a man's
thinking at all, must, in every case, involve the risk of his thinking

But we know something of a Church founded by an apostle, presided over
for a time by an apostle, which was full of schisms. This was the
Church of Corinth. (See First Epistle to the Corinthians, first three

These schisms were marked by differences of mind and judgment; and by
"envying, strife, and divisions." Its "Protestantism" may, no doubt,
have occasioned this.

But along with these divisions, and partly their cause, partly their
effect, there was not only a warm attachment to particular ministers,
but positive antagonism to others professing the same faith, and doing
the same work. From the sameness of human nature in every age, we can
quite understand how each party would defend their sectarianism. "We
are of Apollos," some might have thus said. "We do not admire Peter.
He is too much of a Jew for us; besides, he denied his Lord, and
dissembled along with Barnabas at Antioch. We prefer our own minister
even to Paul. He is a much more eloquent man; of a much more
commanding figure and appearance; and how profound he is in his
knowledge of the Scriptures!" "We are of Paul," others might have
cried; "for he was chosen specially by Christ; and he has been
honoured by Him more than all; and does not the Church of Corinth,
moreover, owe its very existence to his preaching and labours? It is
a shame to belong to any other!" "We cling to Peter," a third party
might have said; "he lived with Christ when He was on earth, saw His
miracles, heard His words, was treated after the resurrection with
special love, and received from Him a special commission to feed His
sheep. Apollos is no apostle; and as for Paul, he persecuted the
Church, and confesses himself that he is not meet to be called an
apostle. Apollos is good, Paul better, but Peter is best!" "We belong
to neither," others could have boasted: "your divisions are so many,
your differences so great, that we have retired from all your meetings
in weariness; and each of us are of Christ only, and call no man
master but Him; you should all join us, the Christians:"--thus
making use of the very name of Christ to characterise a sect. Such
were some of the schisms; and to the schismatics St Paul said, "Ye are
yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and
divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I
am of Paul; and another, I of Apollos; are ye not carnal?"

The apostle desired to heal those schisms, and to bring the members of
the Church into one mind. How did he endeavour to effect this?

Had he been a Papist, he might have said--"Why thus divided? Because
you are not building on the one true foundation, which is Peter! Do
you not understand the meaning of the name, Cephas, or the Rock,
given to him, and intended to teach all Christians that the temple of
the Church was to be built upon this rock, and this only; against
which the gates of hell cannot prevail? Therefore, you who say, 'I am
of Cephas,' are right; all others are schismatics." Never, apparently,
had a man a better opportunity of revealing to the world this great
secret of unity than St. Paul had, if such was his faith, especially
when he compares the Church to a building, and speaks of a
foundation-stone. "As a wise master-builder," he says, "I have laid
the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.... For other foundation
can no man lay than that is laid, which is"--Cephas, or the rock? No!
but "Jesus Christ." Not one word of Cephas as the centre of unity.
Strange silence for a "Roman Catholic!"

Had Paul been a "High Churchman," viewing with deep awe the mystery of
sacramental grace, we can understand how he would have spoken to the
schismatic Corinthians of the vast importance of their submitting to
absolute apostolic authority, and of "the awful powers with which
God's ministers had been vested, of regenerating souls by the waters
of baptism;" and how "such a clergy should command unqualified
obedience." If these, or anything like these, were Paul's sentiments,
and such as we are every day familiar with, it is not easy, to say the
least of it, to account for his language to the Corinthians. What does
he say of the exalted privilege of being able to baptize? "I thank
God I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius:" strange words
from a "High Churchman!" or a "High" Baptist! "I baptized also the
household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any
other:" strange forgetfulness on such a supposed centre point of
Church unity! "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the
gospel:" strange idea of the relative importance of preaching and
baptizing for a "High Churchman" to hold! And as to the "commanding
authority" of the apostles, merely because they were apostles, apart
from, the commanding authority of the eternal truth which they
"commended" to the conscience and judgment of their hearers, Paul
asks, "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos?" Methinks we hear some
exclaim: "Oh, these men were the greatest, the most remarkable, the"--We
will not, however, take up space by repeating the laudations
with which some would exalt their authority, with the view of
magnifying the mere official authority of the clergy. But what says
the apostle himself? He says they were only "ministers by whom ye
believed." It was not the minister who did good, but the truth which
he ministered, and which he had received from another. It was not the
man who sowed the seed, or the basket which held it, that gave the
crop; but the living seed itself. Hence he adds: "So then neither is
he that planteth anything, nor he that watereth!" What? Neither
presbyter nor bishop, neither Paul nor Apollos, anything? Strange
words, again we say, from a "High Churchman," whether Episcopalian,
Presbyterian, or any other denomination; for "High Churchmen" are
common to all Churches. Yet not strange from St Paul, who knew how
true his words were, and that not man, but God, who gave the increase,
was "everything."

What, then, was the apostle's method of curing schism, and of making
men truly one who had been "divided?"

He directed every eye, and every heart, and every spirit, to one
object--JESUS CHRIST, the personal Saviour, the centre and source of
unity; in fellowship with whom all men would find their fellowship
with each other.

"We preach Christ crucified." "I determined not to know anything among
you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." "For other foundation can
no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." These are his
declarations. And his conclusion from this great and blessed principle
is just what we might expect: "He that glorieth, let him glory in the
Lord." "Let no man glory in men: for all things are yours; whether
Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or
things present, or things to come: all are yours; and ye are Christ's,
and Christ is God's."

Professing Christians would do well to weigh the apostle's cure of
schism. Our divisions of heart and alienation of spirit are unworthy
of educated men, and of the citizens of a free state, while they are
in spirit utterly subversive of the whole principles of Protestantism.
What! not able to hear the gospel preached from the lips of a minister
of another church, nor to remember Jesus with him or his people?
Not willing even to be on kind, or perhaps on speaking terms with
a brother minister? Such things not only have been, but are; and
while, thank God, they are repudiated and detested by men of all
Churches, they are common, we fear, among too many. No wonder Roman
Catholics point at our frequent boasting of Protestant "oneness in all
essentials," and ask with triumph, how it happens, then, that we are
such enemies on mere non-essentials? How it is that we pretend to be
one when attacking Papists, and then turn our backs on each other
when left alone? No wonder the High Churchman of England asks the
Presbyterians in Scotland to forgive him if he never enters our
Presbyterian churches, hears our clergy, partakes of our sacraments,
when so very many among ourselves practically excommunicate each
other. No wonder the infidel lecturer describes to crowds of
intelligent mechanics, in vivid and powerful language, the spectacle
presented by many among our Christian clergy and people, and asks,
with a smile of derision, If ithis is a religion of love which they
see around them--if these men believe the gospel--and if Christians
have really more kindness and courtesy than "publicans and sinners?"
Worse than all, no wonder our churches languish, and men are asking
with pain, why the ministry is not producing more true spiritual
fruit, which is love to God and man? The Churches are, no doubt,
doing much. We have meetings, associations, and organisations, with
no end of committees, resolutions, and motions; we raise large sums of
money; we have large congregations;--yet all this, and much more, we
can do from pride, vanity, love of party, love of power, the spirit
of proselytism, and the like. We may possess many gifts, understand
mysteries and all knowledge; we may bestow our goods to feed the poor,
in zeal for Church or party we may be willing to give our bodies to
be burned; but before God it profiteth us nothing, unless we have
the "love that suffereth long, and is kind, that envieth not, that
vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself
unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no
evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth
all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all

Surely our schisms may be healed if there be a Saviour thus to heal

One word in conclusion. Neither the letter nor the spirit of the
apostle's teaching condemn a warm and firm attachment to "our own
Church," but antagonism only to other Churches. A soldier may love,
and ought to love his own regiment with peculiar affection, more
especially if he has been born in it, and brought up from childhood,
as it were, in its ranks. And it should be his honest pride to see
that it is one of the best drilled, most orderly, most efficient, and
bravest in the whole army. But that is no reason why he should
go about with a drum to recruit from, weaken, or break up other
regiments; or why he should deny that there are other regiments
which equally belong to the grand army, and may be even more efficient
than his own, though they do not wear the exact pattern of uniform, or
may charge on horseback while his marches on foot, or possess cannon
while his own have but small arms. Why should he be jealous of their
achievements? Why should he be disposed to fight against them instead
of against the common enemy? And, worse than all, why assert and boast
that this one regiment of his is the army, while all others are mere
unauthorised volunteers, or enemies in disguise? It is full time for
sensible men to give up this vain boasting, proud antagonism, and
irritating ambitious proselytism.

Instead, therefore, of any man attempting, what is impossible during a
lifetime, to understand the distinctive principles of each of the many
sections of the Christian Church, so as to "join" that one which seems
most "pure" and "scriptural," he is much better, as a rule, to remain,
if it is at all possible for him, in the Church of his fathers, in
which he was baptized and reared, and to do all in his power, by his
example, his prayers, and his steady, manly, firm attachment, to
make "his own Church" more efficient, and to permit others, without
interference, to do the same. Thus may a man be a good Presbyterian
in Scotland, and also a good Episcopalian in England, or possibly a
Nonconformist in both, unless he believes in the Divine origin and
authority of some one ecclesiastical system, and the mundane origin of
all others. With perfect consistency and sincerity he may dearly love
his Church, but yet love Christians more, because he loves Christ best
of all.

These sentiments may be considered by many good Christians as sinfully
"latitudinarian;" but to all who think so we would suggest the
following simple experiment. When they have perused with care and
reflection those portions of the Epistles of St Paul, and those
incidents in his missionary journeys, which reveal most clearly what
we might term his "church views," let them conceive of this same holy
apostle suddenly awaking from his grave and visiting the different
churches in our country, and then honestly say, from what they know
of his character and teaching, whether they think it improbable or
impossible that he would countenance all our churches in so far as
they sincerely desired to do God's will and advance His kingdom. Would
he not as of old say, "Grace be with all who love the Lord Jesus
Christ in sincerity!"

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.
For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be
within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek thy


The mutual dependence of material things is perceived on a moment's
reflection. Not one atom in creation, for example, exists by itself
or for itself alone, but, directly or indirectly, influences and is
influenced by every other atom. The movements of the tiniest wave
which rises slowly over the dry pebble on the beach, marking the
progress of the advancing tide in the inland bay, is determined by the
majestic movements of the great ocean, with all its tides which sweep
and circulate from pole to pole. The rain-drop which falls into the
heart of a wild-flower, and rests there with its pure and sparkling
diamond-lustre, owes its birth to the giant mountains of the old
earth, to the great sea, to the all-encompassing atmosphere, to
the mighty sun; and is thus, by a chain of forces, united in its
existence, its figure, its motion, and its rest, to the most distant
planet, which, beyond the ken of the telescope, whirls along its path
on the mysterious outskirts of space. Thus, too, the needle of the
electric telegraph trembles beneath the influence of hidden powers
which pervade the earth, which flash in the thunder-storm, awaken the
hurricane, or burst in those bright and brilliant coruscations that
shoot across the midnight of our northern sky. And so

"The whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God."

But the unity which exists among intelligent and responsible
persons, their mutual dependence and relationship, is just as
real as that which obtains among material things, and is far more
wonderful, more solemn and important in its nature, causes, and

The human race is an organic whole. The individual man is more
intimately united to every other man, and to all past and coming
generations, than the leaf which flutters on the twig of a great tree
is connected with the tree itself, and with every other leaf that
swells its foliage, or with the seed which was ages ago planted in the
soil, and from which the noble plant has issued. That organic unity
of the Church, springing chiefly out of a common life, derived from
Christ and maintained by His indwelling Spirit, and which the apostle
Paul so fully illustrates by the union of the members of the human
frame, holds equally true of the whole family of man.

And what is true in this respect of the human race, is as true of all
spiritual intelligences in the universe of God. "We are all members
one of another." We form a part of a mighty whole that finds its unity
in God. Subtle links from within and from without in God's infinite
network, bind us for good or evil, for weal or woe, to spirits of
light and of darkness; to principalities and powers in other spheres
and systems of being, from the lowest outcast in the unseen world of
criminals, up to Gabriel before the throne of God; while over all,
comprehending all, sustaining and harmonising all, is the great I
AM--Father, Son, and Spirit.

Consider, for example, how, according to the arrangements of the
Divine government, man is linked to man from the mere necessities of
his physical and social being.

In this aspect of our life it is evident that its whole history is one
of mutual dependence, and one in which we are compelled to receive
and to give, to partake and to share. We enter upon life as weak,
unconscious infants, depending every moment on other eyes to watch for
us, and other hands to minister to us, while we kindle in their hearts
the most powerful emotions, and unconsciously react upon them for joy
or sorrow. But we are not less dependent on our fellow-creatures for
our continuance in life from the cradle to the grave. There is not a
thread of clothing which covers our body, not a luxury which is placed
on our table, not an article which supplies the means of labour, not
one thing which is required by us as civilised beings, but involves
the labours and the sacrifices of others in our behalf; while by the
same law we cannot choose but contribute to their well-being. The
cotton which the artisan weaves or wears has been cultivated by
brothers beneath a tropical sun, and possibly beneath a tyrant's lash.
The tea he drinks has been gathered for him by brothers on the unknown
hill-sides of distant China. The oil which lights his lamp has been
fetched for him out of the depths of the Arctic seas by his sailor
brothers; and the coal that feeds his fire has been dug out by swarthy
brethren who have been picking and heaving for him amidst the darkness
and dangers of the mine. If the poorest mother writes a letter to her
son in some distant spot in India and puts it into the window-slit of
a village post-office, without a word being spoken, how much is done
for her before that letter reaches its destination! The hands of
unknown brethren will receive it, and transmit it; rapid trains will
hurry it over leagues of railways; splendid steamships will sail with
it, and hundreds of busy hands will pass it from port to port, from
land to land. It is watched day and night, through calm and hurricane,
and precious lives are risked to keep it in security, until in silence
and in safety, after months of travel, it is delivered from the
mother's hand into the hand of her child.

And thus it is that, whether we choose it or not, we are placed by God
as "members one of another," so that we cannot, if we would, separate
ourselves from our brother. For good or evil, prosperity or adversity,
we are bound up with him in the bundle of this all-pervading and
mysterious life. If one member suffers or rejoices, all are compelled
in some degree to share his burden of joy or sorrow. Let disease, for
example, break out in one district or kingdom, and, like a fire, it
will rush onward, passing away from the original spot of outbreak, and
involving families and cities far away in its desolating ruin. Let war
arise in one portion of the globe, it smites another. The passion or
the pride of some rude chief of a barbarous tribe in Africa or New
Zealand, or the covetousness and selfish policy of some party in
America, tell upon a poor widow in her lonely garret in the darkest
corner of a great city; and she may thus be deprived of her labour
through the state of commerce, as really as if the hand of the
foreigner directly took her only handful of meal out of the barrel, or
extinguished the cruise of oil, leaving her in poverty and darkness to
watch over her dying child.

Now all this system of dependence, as we have said, is beyond our
will. We do not choose it, but are compelled to accept of it. It is a
fact or power, like birth or death, with which we have to do in spite
of us. No questions are asked by the great King as to whether we will
have it so or not; yet of what infinite importance to us for good or
evil is this great law of God's government. We are thus made to feel
that a will higher than ours reigns, and that by that supreme will we
are so united to one another, that no man can live for himself or die
for himself alone; that we are our brothers keeper, and he ours;
that we cannot be indifferent to his social well-being without
suffering in our own; that our selfishness, which would injure him,
must return in some form to punish ourselves; and that such is the
ordained constitution of humanity, that though love and a consistent
selfishness start from different points, they necessarily lead to the
same point, and make it our interest, as it is our duty, to love our
neighbour as ourselves.

But here we may just notice, that some of those evils which afflict
one portion of the human family are nevertheless the occasion of good,
when they remind us of our common humanity. Such painful events, for
example, as the famine in the Highlands of Scotland, which called
forth the sympathies of kindreds and tongues, unknown by name, to
the sufferers, and was relieved by the inhabitants of China, and
Hindostan; or the like famine in Ireland, which the Mohammedan sultan
was among the first to help to alleviate; or the Syrian massacres, or
Indian famine, that united Jew and Gentile, Protestant and Catholic,
in the bonds of pity;--these wounds of humanity are surely not without
their good; when they afford an opportunity to the Samaritan of
shewing mercy to the Jew, and cause the things which separate and the
differences that alienate man from man, to be for a time forgotten in
the presence of their common brotherhood. And thus, too, the shutting
of the Southern ports of America, which entails temporary distress
upon many in our manufacturing districts, reminds us how the
sufferings of others must be shared by ourselves, calls forth the
benevolent sympathies of the rich to alleviate the wants of the needy,
and bridges over with love and gratitude the gulf which too often
separates classes; while, on the other hand, it may form the indirect
means of developing the growth of cotton, and the consequent industry
of thousands in Africa and India, who will thus be brought into closer
and more fraternal relationships with civilised nations.

But there is another link, and one more spiritual, which binds man to
man for good or evil, and that is moral character. This influence is
partly beyond and partly within the region of our will. That which is
beyond the will is the fact of the necessary influence of character;
while within the will is the character, good or bad, which we may
choose to possess. Now, it cannot be questioned that character tells
for good or evil beyond its possessor. That which a man is--that
sum total made up of the items of his beliefs, purposes, affections,
tastes, and habits, manifested in all he does and does not--is
contagious in its tendency, and is ever photographing itself on
other spirits. He himself may be as unconscious of this emanation of
good or evil from his spirit, as he is of the contagion of disease
from his body, or--if that were equally possible--of the contagion of
good health. But the fact, nevertheless, is certain. If the light is
in him, it must shine; if darkness reigns, it must shade. If he glows
with love, its warmth will radiate; if he is frozen with selfishness,
the cold will chill the atmosphere around him; and if he is corrupt
and vile, he will poison it. Nor is it possible for any one to occupy
a neutral or indifferent position. In some form or other he must
affect others. Were he to banish himself to a distant island, or even
enter the gates of death, he still exercises a positive influence, for
he is a loss to his brothers; the loss of that most blessed gift of
God, even that of a living man to living men--of a being who ought to
have loved and to have been beloved. "No man liveth to himself, or
dieth to himself;"--he must in some form, for their good or evil,
their gladness or sadness, influence others.

The influence of individual character extends from one generation to
another. The world is moulded by it. Does not history turn on the
influence exercised by the first and second Adam?

No one questions the reality of the influence of a bad character upon
others. The existence of evil persons here or elsewhere, and their
power to infect other persons through the foul malaria of the evil
in which they live, may be unaccountably mysterious when seen in the
light of God's infinite love; but they are, nevertheless, the most
certain facts within the field of our own observation and experience.

This malign influence is of every degree--from the undesigned yet real
injury which is done to others by the merely slothful or indifferent
man, who never, as he says, "intended to injure any one," and "never
thought" he was doing so, but who, nevertheless, injures many a cause,
and freezes and discourages many a heart, by his selfishness in not
thinking and not doing;--up to the injury which is done by the cool,
designing villain, who, in his plots and plans to sacrifice others to
himself, has reached the utmost limit which distinguishes the bad man
from the demon.

The evil influence exercised by wicked parents on their families;
by wicked companions upon their fellows; by wicked books upon their
readers; by wicked persecutors and tyrants upon the world--needs
neither proof nor illustration. Yet let us remember, for our strength
and comfort, that because we are not things but persons, it is
impossible to compel any man, from whatever influence, to prefer the
darkness to light, or to choose the evil instead of the good. Hence
the power which was designed to lead us into evil may be converted
by ourselves into a power for good, while it strengthens our moral
principles, demands a firmer faith in God, and prompts more earnest
desires and efforts to overcome the evil by the good. It is thus too,
in the wonderful providence of God, that while evil remains evil, it
has nevertheless been the indirect means of calling forth the noblest
efforts on the part of man, and on God's part the most glorious
revelations of His character in conquering it, and such as, without
evil in the universe, could not, as far as we can see, have been

But no less real is the influence upon others of a holy character.
"The evil men do lives after them;" but we do not believe that "the
good is oft interred with their bones." No, it is as immortal as the
Divine Being in whom it originates. The good must ever live, and "walk
up and down the earth," like a living spirit guided by the living God,
to convey blessings to the children of men, and is more powerful,
diffusive, and eternal than the power of evil. It lives in humanity,
in some form or other, like the subtile substance of material things,
which though ever changing never perishes, but adds to the stability,
the beauty, and the grandeur of the universe. The influence of the
holy character passes even beyond the stars, giving joy to our angel
brothers, and to our elder brother Jesus Christ, who, in seeing
reflected in His people His own love to His God and our God, to His
neighbour and ours, beholds the grand result of the travail of His
soul, and is "satisfied."

The grand practical lesson, therefore, which is impressed upon us by
this fact of the union of man with man, is for each of us to be right,
and to do light. Each man is responsible for himself, and for himself
only, for what he himself is and does. The secret, then, is a very
simple one, by which we can at once receive all the good that can
possibly be derived from whatever influences are brought to bear upon
ourselves, and do all the good which can possibly be conferred by
whatever influence we can exercise upon others; and it is this--to
be good ourselves! This is the one centre point of light in the
soul, its one germ of immortal life, which must be possessed in order
that all light and life may come to us, and emanate from us. Let us
only possess the right state of spirit to God and man, and we have the
divine chemistry which will convert all we receive and all we give
into what will surely bless ourselves and others.

And if it is asked how this secret can be ours, we have but one reply,
and it is the old one--Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, live, and
love! Jesus Christ is the living Head of the human family. "The Head
of every man is Christ." As the eternal Son, He dwelt among us, and
revealed to us the Father and Himself, the elder brother. "He is the
propitiation for our sins; and not for our sins only, but also for the
sins of the whole world." He has ascended up on high, and ever liveth
for us as Mediator, "to bring many sons and daughters unto God." He
has sent His Holy Spirit to be with us, and to abide in us for ever.
That Spirit reveals to all who will receive His teaching, the glory of
God our Father in Christ Jesus the Son, our Brother.

Just in proportion as men know God as their Father in Christ, and
become true sons to Him, will they become united to each other as true
brethren; and thus the real and highest unity of man with man will be
realised as the Church of Christ possesses the earth, and her prayer
is answered, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is
done in heaven!"


The beginning of the nineteenth century marks an epoch of revival in
the Protestant Church. It would be going beyond the limits prescribed
by our subject to consider the causes of that remarkable reaction into
indifference of life, or of positive error in doctrine, which followed
more or less rapidly the stirring period of the Reformation. Such
tides, indeed, in the affairs of men,--now rushing with irresistible
waves to the utmost limit of the land; then receding and leaving
behind but a few pools to mark where the waters once had been; and
again, after a longer or a shorter interval, advancing with a deep
flood over the old ground,--are among the most striking phenomena in

The last century witnessed the Protestant Church at its lowest ebb. We
thankfully acknowledge that God did not leave Himself without holy men
as living witnesses in every branch of that Church. And we record,
with deepest gratitude, how, more than in any other country, He
preserved in our own country both individual and congregational
life, with orthodox standards of faith. Still, taken as a whole, the
Protestant Church was in a dead state throughout the world; while,
during the same period, infidelity was never more rampant, and never
more allied with philosophy, politics, science, and literature. It was
the age of the acute Hume and learned Gibbon; of the ribald Paine, and
of the master of Europe, Voltaire; with a host of literati who were
beginning to make merry, in the hope that God's prophets were at last
to be destroyed from the earth. Rationalism triumphed in all the
Continental Churches. Puritanism in England became deeply tainted with
Unitarianism. The descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers had, to a large
extent, embraced the same creed in America. The Established Churches
in England and Scotland, though preserving their Confessions, and
having very many living men in the ministry, suffered, nevertheless,
from that wintry cold which had frozen the waves of the great
Reformation sea, and which was adding chill to chill. The French
Revolution marked the darkest hour of this time; yet it was the
hour which preceded the dawn. It was the culminating point of the
infidelity of kings, priests, and people; the visible expression
and embodiment of the mind of France, long tutored by falsehood and
impiety; the letting loose of Satan on earth, that all might see and
wonder at the Beast! That Revolution inscribed lessons in letters
of blood for the Church and for the nations of the world to learn.
Christians accordingly clung nearer to their Saviour amidst the
dreadful storm which shook and destroyed every other resting-place,
and were drawn to the throne of mercy and grace, thereby becoming
stronger in faith and more zealous in life. The indifferent were
roused to earnest thought by the solemn events which were taking
place around them. Speculative infidels even, became alarmed at the
practical results of their theories. Mere worldly politicians trembled
at the spectacle of unprincipled millions wielding power that affected
the destinies of Europe, and recognised the necessity of religion to
save the State at least, if not to save the soul. Men of property,
from the owner of a few acres to the merchant prince, and from no
higher motive than the love of their possessions, acknowledged that
religion was the best guarantee for their preservation. In countless
ways did this upheaving of society operate in the same direction with
those deeper forces which were beginning to stir the Churches of
Britain, and to quicken them into new life.

The history of Europe during the first part of the present century,
is a history written in blood. It is one of war in all its desolating
horrors, and also in all its glorious achievements and victories in
the cause of European liberty and national independence. Never was
war so universal. It raged in every part of the earth. For years, the
Peninsula was a great battlefield. Belgium and the plains of Germany
were saturated with blood. Allied hosts conquered France. Armies
crossed the Alps and ravaged Italy, and were buried beneath the snows
of Russia. The contest was waged from the Baltic to the Bosphorus. The
old battle-fields of Greece, Egypt, Palestine, Asia Minor, Persia, and
the Crimea, were again disturbed. War swept the peninsula of India to
the confines of Cashmere. It penetrated beyond the walls of China, and
visited the islands of the Eastern Archipelago; touched the coasts of
Arabia, and swept round Africa, from the Cape to Algiers. It marched
through the length and breadth of the great Western Continent, from
the St Lawrence to the Mississippi, and from Central to Southern
America. Every kingdom experienced its horrors but our own; every
capital was entered by the enemy but our own! During all this
terrible period, our Sabbath services were never broken by the cry of
battle. The dreadful hurricane raged without, but never for a single
hour disturbed the peace of our beloved island-home. No revolution
from within destroyed our institutions, and no power from without
prevented us from improving them. The builders of our spiritual
temples did not require to hold the sword. Our victories, with their
days of national thanksgiving, and our anxieties, with their days of
national fasting, tended to deepen a sense of religion in every heart.
Men of God, in rapid succession, rose in all the Churches. A pious
laity began to take the lead in advancing the cause of evangelism. In
Parliament there was one man, who, by the purity of his private
life, the noble consistency, uncompromising honesty, and unwearied
philanthropy of his public career, along with his faithful published
testimony for the truth as it is in Christ, did more, directly
and indirectly, than any other of his day for the revival of true
religion, especially among the influential classes of our land: that
man was William Wilberforce.

But without dwelling upon the fact of the great revival which has
occurred in the Protestant Church during the present century, let
us notice one of its more prominent results. We mean the increased
activity manifested by all its branches in advancing the Redeemer's

At the commencement of this century, the whole Protestant missionary
staff throughout the world amounted to ten societies only. Of these,
however, two only had really entered the mission-field with any degree
of vigour--viz., the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in
Foreign Parts; and, above all, the Society of the Moravian Brethren.
The Wesleyan, Baptist, London, and Church Missionary Societies, though
nominally in existence, had hardly commenced their operations. There
were, besides the above, two small societies on the Continent; two in
Scotland; and not one in all America! How stands the case now? The
Protestant Church, instead of ten, has fifty-one societies; the great
majority of which have each more labourers, and a greater income, than
all the societies together of the Protestant Church previous to 1800!

If the last sixty years be divided into three equal periods, nine
societies belong to the first, fifteen to the second, and twenty-four
to the third.

The following facts, collected from statistics of the great missionary
societies up to 1861, will afford--as far as mere dry figures can
do--a general idea of the present strength of the mission army of the
Protestant Church, with some of its results:--

There are now 22 missionary societies in Great Britain, 14 in North
America, and 15 on the Continent of Europe; in all, 51. These employ,
in round numbers, 12,000 agents, including ordained missionaries,
(probably 2000,) teachers, catechists, &c.; occupy 1200 stations; have
335,000 communicants from heathendom; 252,000 scholars; 460 students
training for the ministry; and are supported by an income of L860,000
per annum.

The greatest results have been attained by England. Connected with her
great societies, there are nearly 7000 agents, 630 stations, 210,000
communicants, 208,000 scholars, with an annual income of L510,000.[A]

[Footnote A: One or two facts in connexion with missionary effort may
interest our readers:--

Mr Mueller of Bristol supports, in connexion with his famous Orphanage,
22 foreign and 80 home missionaries.

The Moravian Missionary Society has sent, since 1732, 2000
missionaries, of whom 643 have died in mission service; 9 on mission
journeys; 13 on the voyage out or home; 22 by shipwreck; and 12 were

Gossner of Berlin alone originated and conducted a mission which has
sent out 141 missionaries. Pastor Harms of Hermannsburg has also,
by his own efforts, built a mission ship, and has sent out 150
missionaries, of whom 100 are colonists, and proposes to send 24 every
two years.

Ten years ago there was little or no fruit among the Kohls of India.
There are now 30,000 receiving Christ.

In India there are 500 missionaries; in Tinnevelly, above 70,000

The American Board alone has sent out in fifty years 900 missionaries
(500 being native) and 400 teachers; 55,000 have been received into
church--membership, and 175,000 children passed through their schools.

America contributes L180,000 to foreign missions, and 2000 agents.

The Presbyterian Churches of the world have come late into the field,
but they contribute about 900 agents, and 230 ordained missionaries,
with an income of about L110,000.

One of the oldest Protestant missionary societies in existence (though
now confined to home operations) is the Society in connexion with the
Church of Scotland "for Promoting Christian Knowledge." It supported
Brainerd and the Elliots more than a century ago.]

But in order to enable our readers still more clearly to realise the
advance which the Church has made during the last half century, let
us consider the progress of one of those societies, and take as an
illustration the Church Missionary Society. It was founded a few
months before 1800. Its income in 1802 was L356. It now amounts to
L104,273. In 1804, it had one station abroad, two ordained European
missionaries, but no native assistants. It has now 148 stations,
258 ordained clergymen, (many of whom have studied in the English
Universities,) a large staff of native clergy, with 2034 other agents,
most of whom are natives. In 1810, it had 35 male and 13 female
scholars in its schools; it has now 31,000 scholars. In 1816, the good
Mr Bickersteth had the privilege of receiving its first converts,
amounting to six only, into the communion of the Church. Its
communicants now number about 21,000.

* * * * *

Let us, however, examine the missionary labours of the Protestant
Church during this century from another point of view. Take the map of
the world, look over its continents and islands, and contrast their
condition, as to the means of grace, in 1800 and 1862.

In 1800; the only missions east of the Cape of Good Hope were in
India. These were confined to the Baptist Mission, protected in the
Danish settlement of Serampore; and the missions in Tanjore, in
Southern India. The former was begun by Carey and Thomas, (in 1793,)
who were joined by a few brethren in 1799. The first convert they made
was in 1800. The latter mission had existed since 1705, and numbered
about nine labourers at the commencement of the century.[A]

[Footnote A: The first Protestant missionary who visited India was
Ziegenbalg, who was sent out by the Halle-Danish Missionary Society in
1705, to Tranquebar. He was joined by Plutschow in 1719. The mission
was then adopted by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.
Grundler followed in 1720, and Schultze in 1727. The mission, in 1736,
had four stations, one being in Madras; 24 native assistants; and 3517
baptized members! The great Schwartz laboured in, and extended the
mission from 1749 till 1798. According to Dr Carey, 40,000 had been
converted to Christianity during the last century through this
mission. Dr Claudius Buchanan reckons the number as high as 80,000!]

Of the East India Company's chaplains, Claudius Buchanan alone had
the courage to advocate in India the missionary cause; and his sermon
preached upon the subject in 1800, in Calcutta, was then generally
deemed a bold and daring step. Hindustan was closed by the East India
Company against the missionaries of the Christian Church. China, too,
seemed hermetically sealed against the gospel. The Jesuit mission had
failed. Christianity was proscribed by an imperial edict. Protestant
missions had not commenced. The language of the nation, like its
walls, seemed to forbid all access to the missionary. In Africa
there were but few missionaries, and these had lately arrived at the
Cape.[A] In the black midnight which brooded over that miserable land,
the cry of tortured slaves alone was heard. New Zealand, Australia,
and the scattered islands of the Southern Seas had not yet been
visited by one herald of the gospel. A solitary beacon gleaming on the
ocean from the missionary ship Duff had indeed been seen, but not
yet welcomed by the savages of Tahiti. The mission was abandoned in
1809, and not a convert left behind! No Protestant missionary had
preached to those Indian tribes beyond the Colonies, who wandered over
the interminable plains which stretch from Behring's Straits to Cape
Horn. Mohammedan States were all shut up against the gospel; and to
forsake the Crescent for the Cross, was to die. In this thick darkness
which covered heathendom, the only light to be seen--except in
India--was in the far north, shed by the self-denying Moravians,--a
light which streamed like a beautiful aurora over the wintry snow and
ice-bound coasts of Greenland. To this gloomy picture we must add the
indifference of the Protestant Church to God's ancient people. No
society then existed for their conversion; and of them it might indeed
be said, "This is Israel, whom no man seeketh after!"

[Footnote A: The first missionary to South Africa was George Schmidt,
sent by the Moravian Brethren in 1736. He laboured alone with some
success till 1743, when he was compelled by the Dutch East India
Company to return to Europe. The mission was resumed in 1792, when
three additional missionaries sailed for the Cape. A few others joined
them in 1798. At the beginning of the century, the converts amounted
to 304. The illustrious Dr Vanderkemp, along with three other
missionaries, were sent to South Africa by the London Missionary
Society in 1799. The only attempts made to Christianise Western Africa
previous to 1800 were by the Moravians in Guinea, in 1737; but all the
missionaries, eleven in number, dying, the attempt was abandoned; and
by the Scottish Missionary Society, in 1797, who sent thither six
missionaries. One (Greig) was murdered, another (Brunton) returned,
and went to Tartary; the rest, we believe, went to oilier spheres
of labour. The Church Missionary Society entered upon this field in

How changed is the aspect of the world now! There is hardly a
spot upon earth (if we except those enslaved by Popery) where the
Protestant missionary may not preach the gospel without the fear of
persecution. The door of the world has been thrown open, and the
world's Lord and Master commands and invites His servants to enter,
and, in His name, to take possession of the nations. Since 1812,
India, chiefly through the exertions of Mr Wilberforce,[A] has been
made accessible to the missionaries of every Church. Christian schools
and chapels have been multiplied; colleges have been instituted;
thousands have been converted to Christ; and tens of thousands
instructed in Christianity. The cruelties of heathenism have been
immensely lessened; infanticide prohibited; Sutteeism abolished; all
Government support withdrawn from idolatry; and the Hindu law of
inheritance has been altered to protect the native converts; while a
new era seems to be heralded by the fact that a native Christian rajah
has himself established a mission among his people.

[Footnote A: In 1812, we find from Mr Wilberforce's Life (vol. iv.,
p. 10) how he was "busily engaged in reading, thinking, consulting,
and persuading," on the renewal of the East India Company's charter.
He was fully alive to the importance of the crisis with reference
to the interests of Christianity. He thus writes to his friend Mr
Butterworth:--"I have been long looking forward to the period of the
renewal of the East India Company's charter as to a great era, when I
hoped that it would please God to enable the friends of Christianity
to be the instruments of wiping away what I have long thought, next
to the slave-trade, the foulest blot on the moral character of our
countrymen--the suffering our fellow-subjects (nay, they even stand
toward us in the closer relation of our tenants) in the East Indies to
remain, without any effort on our part to enlighten and inform
them, under the grossest, the darkest, and most depraving system
of idolatrous superstition that almost ever existed on earth." The
deepest anxiety was felt by all Christians for the issue of the
debate. "I heard afterwards," he writes, "that many good men were
praying for us all night." These prayers and efforts were crowned with
success; and Mr Wilberforce, when communicating the joyful news to his
wife, writes--"Blessed be God! we carried our question triumphantly,
about three, or later, this morning!"]

All the islands in the Eastern Archipelago are now accessible to the
missionary; most of them have been visited. Ceylon has flourishing
congregations and schools; Madagascar has had her martyrs, and has
still her indomitable confessors.

China, with its teeming millions, has also been opened to the gospel.
The way had been marvellously prepared by Dr Morrison, who as early as
1807 had commenced the study of the language which he lived to master.
Accordingly, when the conquests of Britain had obtained admission for,
and secured protection to the missionaries as well as to the merchants
of all nations, the previous indefatigable labours of Morrison had
provided, for the immediate use of the Church of Christ, a dictionary
of the language, and a translation of the Word of God. The Christian
religion is tolerated by law since 1844, and may be professed freely
by the natives. The gospel is now advancing in that thickly-peopled
land of patience and industry, and native preachers are already
proclaiming to their countrymen the tidings of salvation.

Africa has witnessed changes still more wonderful. The abolition
of the British slave-trade in 1807, and of slavery in the British
dominions in 1834, has removed immense barriers in the way of the
gospel. The whole coasts of Africa are being girdled with the light of
truth. It has penetrated throughout the south, where the French[A] and
German Protestant Churches labour side by side with those of Britain
to civilise the degraded Bushman, the low Hottentot, and warlike
Kaffir. The chapel in Sierra Leone, built from the planks of condemned
slavers, and containing 1000 worshippers, is a type of the blessings
brought through Christianity to injured Africa.

[Footnote A: The missions of the French Protestant Church are situated
inland from Port Natal, and along the river Caledon from its junction
with the Orange River. It has gathered upwards of 2000 Bechuanas into
regular church-fellowship.]

Abyssinia has also been visited with every prospect of success.

And how glorious has been the triumph of the gospel throughout the
whole Pacific! In 1837, Williams was able to address royalty in these
noble words--"It must impart joy to every benevolent mind to know,
that by the efforts of British Christians upwards of three hundred
thousand of deplorably ignorant and savage barbarians, inhabiting the
beautiful islands of the Pacific, have been delivered from a dark,
debasing, and sanguinary idolatry, and are now enjoying the civilising
influence, the domestic happiness, and the spiritual blessings which
Christianity imparts. In the island of Raratonga, which I discovered
in 1823, there are upwards of 3000 children under Christian
instruction daily; not a vestige of idolatry remains;[A] their
language has been reduced to a system, and the Scriptures, with other
books, have been translated. But this is only one of nearly a hundred
islands to which similar blessings have been conveyed." Tens of
thousands of souls more have been added to this number since these
words were written! In no part of heathendom has the gospel produced,
in so short a time, such wonderful fruit as in Polynesia. The labours
and sacrifices of the converted natives are more striking than in any
other missions. Many islands have been converted solely by means of a
native agency, and are superintended by native preachers only. Let us
take the Sandwich Islands as illustrating what has been accomplished
for the natives, and by them. The American Mission was commenced
in 1824. These islands have been converted long ago to Christianity,
so that not a vestige of idolatry remains, and not only do they
support their own clergy and schools, but have their own Bible and
Foreign Missionary Society. They raise for these objects about L4000
per annum, and support six missionaries to the heathen islands around
them. The communicants in the islands amount to upwards of 25,000, and
the children who attend the common schools to a still greater number.

[Footnote A: The first idol which, a catechist from Raratonga, who
visited London in 1848, ever beheld, was in the Museum of the London
Missionary Society.]

If we turn our eye to the great Western Continent, we see the gospel
preached to its wandering Indian tribes; while the condition of Mexico
and of California affords every prospect of the rapid extension of
truth through kingdoms long benighted.

Mohammedan countries have also been opened to the missionary. Through
the influence of Lord Aberdeen and Sir Stratford Canning, the Sultan
was induced in 1844 to give religious toleration to his subjects; so
that now, for the first time, a Mussulman may change his faith without
incurring punishment. Several societies labour in Algiers, Egypt,
Palestine, Asia Minor, Greece, and Constantinople. The Euphrates is
being dried up. The Mohammedan power is tottering, and ready to fall!
When it dies and is buried, who will wear mourning at its funeral?

And how strange is the meeting between the distant East and West,
the distant past and near present, visible in the fact, that it is
missionaries from America who now unveil to the dwellers in the land
of the Chaldees, and to the wanderers among the mountains which shadow
the birth-place of the human race, that blessed faith and hope which
dwelt in Abram, as he journeyed at the dawn of history from that old
land, and which has returned thither again in Christian men embued
with Abram's faith, after having accompanied civilisation around the
globe? God's blessing has signally attended the American mission among
the Nestorians. The revival of religion in their schools and churches
has been great and glorious.

May we not exclaim, What hath God wrought! Yet how can any statistics
carry to our hearts a sense of what has been done for immortal souls
by the gospel during this eventful period? What homes have been made
happy by it; what families united in the bonds of love; what sick-beds
soothed; what dying beds cheered; what minds illumined, and what
hearts filled with joy unspeakable, and full of glory!

* * * * *

In close connexion with mission work, we may state the progress made
during the present century in leavening the world with the Word of
God. Previous to the formation of the British and Foreign Bible
Society in 1804, there was not one society in existence whose sole
object was the distribution of the Bible in all lands. There are now
upwards of 50 principal, and 9000 auxiliary Bible societies. In 1804,
the Bible was accessible to only 200 millions of men. Now it exists in
tongues spoken by 600 millions. The London Bible Society alone sends
forth annually upwards of 1,787,000 copies. During the last sixty
years it has issued 39,315,226 Bibles, in 163 different languages, and
in 143 translations never before printed. Its receipts for 1862 amount
to L168,443.[A]

[Footnote A: The American Bible Society circulates upwards of 600,000
copies of the Word of God annually, at home and abroad. Besides
assisting in publishing translations issued by other societies, it has
been at the sole expense of publishing the Armeno-Turkish, and Modern
Syriac New Testament; the entire Bible for the Burmese, and also for
the Sandwich Islands; the Ojibbeway New Testament; the Gospels, or
some portion of the Bible, into the languages of the Sioux, Mohawks,
Seneca, and Cherokee Indians.]

It surely cannot fail to fill the heart of every Christian with
deepest thankfulness, to contemplate these glorious achievements. The
Church, like the angel seen in prophetic vision, has been flying with
the everlasting gospel to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and
people. It has given the Bible to the inhabitants of the old lands of
Egypt, Ethiopia, Arabia, Palestine, Asia Minor, and Persia; to the
indomitable Circassian; to the mountaineers of Affghanistan; to tribes
of India speaking thirty-two different languages or dialects; to the
inhabitants of Burmah, Assam, and Siam; to the islanders of Madagascar
and Ceylon; to the Malays and Javanese of the Eastern seas; to the
millions of China, and the wandering Kalmuck beyond her great wall;
to the brave New Zealander; to the teeming inhabitants of the island
groups which are scattered over the Southern Pacific; to the
African races, from the Cape to Sierra Leone; to the Esquimaux and
Greenlander, within the Arctic circle; and to the Indian tribes of
North America. All are now furnished with a translation of that
wonderful volume, which, with the light of the universal living Spirit
of God, at once reveals to man, in every age and clime, his lost and
miserable condition, and tells him of a remedy that is adapted to meet
every want of his being--to redeem him, by a moral power it alone can
afford, from all sin and misery, and to bring him into the glorious
fellowship of the holiness, the blessedness, and joy of Jesus Christ,
and all the family of God in earth and heaven![A]

[Footnote A: The following facts regarding tract societies may be here
stated:--The Religious Tract Society of London was formed in 1799.
During the first year of its operations, ending in May 1800, it had
issued 200,000 tracts. What is its present working power? Its annual
income from sales and benevolent contributions (L12,500) is L95,000.
Its annual distribution of tracts, including handbills, from the
London Depository is--in English, 20,870,074, and in foreign
languages, 537,729, making an annual total of 21,407,803. It publishes
tracts in 117 different languages. Taking into account the number of
affiliated societies, the total probable annual distribution of
tracts, British and foreign, in connexion with the London Tract
Society, amounts to 28,500,000. Several religious bodies in the United
States maintain Tract or "Publication" Societies. But the "American
Tract Society" (founded 1825) is the largest and most influential in
the United States, and has a catholic constitution similar to our
own Tract Society. It is supported by more than 700 auxiliary
societies--those in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York being large
and efficient. We may add that its circulation is not confined to the
United States, but extends to Mexico, Central and South America, and
to those districts in the East and Asia Minor where the American
missionaries are labouring. It has issued upwards of 200,000,000 of
publications since its commencement.]

And now let us ask, What shall be the history of the Church during the
rest of this century? Without attempting with a vain or profane hand
to uncover what God has concealed, it is surely a comfort to be able
to take our stand on the immovable rock of His promises to Christ, and
to rejoice in the assurance, that, sooner or later, His name must be
glorious in all the earth!

But when? Is it too much to assert, that before the end of the present
century, the gospel shall have been preached to all nations, the Bible
translated into all tongues, and the last visible idol on earth cast
down amidst the triumphant songs of the Church of Christ? We
might expect this blessing judging only from the past, and the
constantly-increasing ratio with which society advances. Yet, as
revolutions in the physical world anticipate in a single night the
slow progress of ordinary causes, so, for aught we know, may God, by
some evolution of His providence, make one year do the work of many.

But while we do anticipate the most glorious results ever attained
by the human race during this century, we anticipate, also, from the
signs of the time, a desperate conflict of opposing systems, both of
truth and error. It is not a little remarkable, that never before was
there such a life and strength in every system as at this moment.
Protestantism, Popery, Infidelity, and even Judaism,[A] were never so
alive; and never were alive together before. Does this not look like
a coming struggle?[B] But what may appear suddenly and unexpectedly,
may nevertheless be the necessary results of long preparation; like
the water or the gas, which suddenly enter a thousand city houses to
refresh and illuminate them, but which are the results of years of
labour in digging trenches, laying pipes, and erecting reservoirs,
during all which time no streams of water or of gas were ever present
to the senses.

[Footnote A: It is only within twenty-five years that preaching has
become common in all their synagogues, while, during the same period,
ten periodicals have been started by the Jews, in different parts of
the world, in defence of Judaism, in some form or other.]

[Footnote B: In a conversation which we had with Neander in 1848,
(immediately before the continental revolutions,) he said, "I believe
we are entering a period of unprecedented warfare, which will issue in
the increased glory and purity of the Church. The light and darkness
will every year be more and more separated; the one becoming more
bright the other more densely dark."]

But we know from the testimony of God's Word, strengthened by the
experience of past ages, how certain victory is in the end, however
long and apparently doubtful the campaign may be between His kingdom
and every form of evil. The day has been when "the Church" was "in the
wilderness," and when within that Church four men only held fast their
confidence in God, believed His word, and exhorted that Church to take
possession of the land of promise, saying, "Rebel not ye against
the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land: their defence is
departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not." And how
was that missionary sermon received? "All the congregation bade stone
them with stones!" And had they done so, the world's only true lights
were extinguished and lost in universal unbelief and heathenism. It
was in such desperate circumstances as these that the Lord himself
came to the rescue of the world, and it was then these marvellous
words of promise were littered, "As truly as I live my glory will fill
the earth!" The day has been, too, when "the Church" met in an upper
room with shut doors, for fear of the Jews; but it was even then that
its Lord said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth: go
ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: and, lo, I am with you
alway, even to the end of the world." Never more can the glory of God
appear to the eyes of the weakest faith to be so dim, or the cause of
Christ to be so hopeless, as it hath been in those days of old! The
glory of God is filling the earth, and the gospel is being preached
to all nations. Mere rays of light, which we see breaking over the
mountain tops in heathen lands, are beautiful in themselves; but far
more beautiful to the eye of faith are the first beams of that sun
which is yet to stream into every valley now lying in darkness, and
steep in its glory all the habitations of men. Those notes of joy and
thanksgiving, too, are beautiful which ascend from many a heart in
"Kedar's wilderness afar;" but they are still more beautiful to the
ear of faith as echoes from the Rock of ages, and the prophetic song
uttered by "great voices in heaven," saying, "The kingdoms of this
world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He
shall reign for ever and ever!"


The patriarch Job experienced the darkness and mystery of sorrow
when he thus spoke:--"Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath
compassed me with his net. Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not
heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment. He hath fenced up my
way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths. He hath
stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head. He hath
destroyed me on every side, and I am gone; and mine hope hath he
removed like a tree." "Even to-day is my complaint bitter; my stroke
is heavier than my groaning. O that I knew where I might find him!
that I might come even to his seat!" "Behold, I go forward, but he is
not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: on the left hand,
where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the
right hand, that I cannot see him. But he knoweth the way that I take:
when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."

The sweet singer of Israel sung in darkness when he said:--"My heart
is sore pained within me; and the terrors of death are fallen upon
me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath
overwhelmed me. And I said, O that I had wings like a dove! for then
would I fly away, and be at rest." "Thou hast laid me in the lowest
pit, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and
thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Thou hast put away mine
acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them:
I am shut up, and I cannot come forth."

The prophet Jeremiah cried out of the depths of mysterious sorrow when
he poured forth these lamentations:--"I am the man that hath seen
affliction by the rod of his wrath. He hath led me, and brought me
into darkness, but not into light. Surely against me is he turned;
he turneth his hand against me all the day." "He hath set me in dark
places, as they that be dead of old. He hath hedged me about, that I
cannot get out; he hath made my chain heavy." "And thou hast removed
my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity. And I said, My
strength and my hope is perished from the Lord: remembering mine
affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them
still in remembrance, and is humbled in me."

And did not our blessed Lord himself experience, as a man, the mystery
of sorrow when he cried in Gethsemane, "If it be possible, let this
cup pass from me;" and when, during that "hour and power of darkness"
on the cross, He exclaimed, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken

If, then, our Father visits us with any sorrow which is to us dark and
mysterious, let us "not think it strange concerning the fiery trial
which is to try us, as if some strange thing happened to us." Let us
rather gratefully remember, that ever since our Lord has ascended up
on high, and given us His Spirit to teach us and to abide with us for
ever, and for our profit has recorded in His holy Word not only His
acts, but also His ways towards the children of men, we are enabled
to see much, light piercing our greatest darkness and sorrow, and so
to know God as to strengthen our faith in His wisdom and love.

I do not know any narrative in the whole Word of God which at once
reveals so much of this darkness and light--of the mystery of sorrow
for a time, and the solution of the mystery afterwards--as that of the
sickness, death, and resurrection of Lazarus.

That family in Bethany, we know, consisted of Lazarus and his sisters,
Martha and Mary. They were poor, and unknown to the great and busy
world; but their riches and rank in the sight of the ministering
angels were great indeed, for Jesus "loved them." This was the charter
of the grandest inheritance. But though loved by Jesus, that love did
not hinder them from being visited by a sudden affliction, and plunged
for a while into deepest gloom. We are able in spirit to cross their
lowly threshold, and to understand all that took place in that humble
home: for human hearts and human sorrows are the same in every age.
Lazarus, the head of the house, is laid on a bed of sickness. We need
no details to enable all who have watched the progress of disease in
the beloved member of a family--and who has been exempted from this
anxiety?--to realise how the symptoms of illness, treated at first
perhaps lightly, would become more serious, then alarming, until
foreboding thoughts of death pained every tender affection; and we can
understand how advice would be asked from kind neighbours, and every
possible remedy applied. But in vain! The sufferer gets worse, and
the signs of approaching dissolution rapidly succeed in delirium,
prostration of strength, or altered features, until the chill of
hopelessness creeps over the hearts of the sisters, and hot tears fill
their watching eyes, and prayers tremble upon their pale lips, as in
silence they wait for the dread hour of death to their dear one! We
see it all!

But ere this last moment was reached by Martha and Mary, they are
full of hope that it may be averted, for they have a secret source of
relief in a Physician of body and soul. So long as they have Jesus
with them, they cannot despair. He is not, however, in Bethany, but at
Bethabara beyond the Jordan, a day's journey off. Yet they can send
for Him; and they accordingly do so, with this simple message,
"Lazarus, whom thou lovest, is sick." It is enough. There is not a
word of their love, or of the love of Lazarus to Him. The appeal is to
His own heart. No request is proffered. Everything is left to Himself.

Did they not, however, feel assured that Jesus would manifest His love
to them in the way which seemed to them the best way,--nay, the one
way only by which they could receive comfort, and be relieved from
their anxiety and sorrow,--and that was by delivering Lazarus from
sickness and death? For they could not but recall at that moment the
many instances in which Jesus had displayed His power and love during
the three years He had lived amidst the sorrowing and suffering in
Judea; how unwearied His goodness had ever been; how "multitudes" had
come to Him, and "He healed them all;" how health had flowed from His
hands and His lips, and from His very garments; how He had showered
down His blessings upon Gentile as well as Jew, upon those who were
aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and were accounted as "dogs;"
how He had healed by merely speaking a word at a distance, and even
anticipated prayer, by restoring a dead son to his widowed mother, who
had never asked or expected such a blessing. And now! will He refuse
to help His own beloved friend? Shall strangers, heathen, publicans
and sinners, be promptly heard and answered, and Lazarus whom He loved
forgotten? Impossible! The healing word must be spoken, or Jesus
himself will come and manifest Himself as mighty to save!

Who can doubt but that such were the anticipations of Martha and
Mary, when they sent in their distress the message to their Lord and
Friend--"Lazarus, whom thou lovest, is sick?"

The messenger has departed. With what anxiety must they have measured
out the time within which it was possible for Jesus to receive the
intelligence. They who have sent far away for a physician in a
critical case, when every minute was precious, can sympathise with
their anxiety. Time passes: has the Saviour yet received the tidings
of their grief? Probably not, for there is no improvement in Lazarus.
The healing word has not been spoken. Time passes: now He must have
heard! Yet Lazarus is no better. Time passes: and the messenger has
returned, but without Jesus! Yet surely not without some message of
consolation? some hope held out of relief? He brings neither! Jesus
had said, indeed, that this sickness was not unto death, or rather,
was "unto death only for the glory of God, that the Son of God might
be glorified thereby." But what means this? Does it mean that Lazarus
was to die? Has Jesus, then, actually refused to aid them? Though He
did not promise to come, or had not spoken the word of healing, He
must surely do either I It cannot be, no it cannot be, that He will
desert them, or leave them alone in this trial! "Jesus, tarry not!"
might have been their wailing cry: "Lazarus whom thou lovedst is
sinking fast, and soon all will be over with him. Friends, neighbours,
look along the road, watch the brow of that distant hill, look along
that valley, and see if there are any signs of His coming?"

Alas! 'tis all in vain Lazarus is dead! And beside that silent body
the two sisters are breaking their hearts. Life and death, faith
and unbelief, are struggling terribly for the mastery, and strange
thoughts of Christ flit across their minds like storm-clouds athwart
the sun. One brother is gone, the other has not come. The one dearly
loved them; the other!--they had believed in Jesus as the Messiah:
they had loved Him with reverent and deep affection, they had
worshipped--and now!--God of Abraham, forsake us not utterly! Our
fathers trusted Thee, and were not put to shame! Oh, deliver our feet
from falling, and our souls from going down to the pit! Lord, help our

In some such form as this the storm of doubt and anguish must have
torn the minds of those mourners. But the storm is not yet over; the
deepest darkness has not yet come. Their brother is dead. Death
with his marks, which once seen can never be mistaken, stamps every
lineament of that well-known countenance. It is death's colour on the
cheek; death's cold stiffness in the limbs; and no hand but his could
so close those eyes and make rigid those lips. There is no swoon here!
Swathe him then in the garments of the grave; make ready for the
funeral; let him be buried for ever out of sight; follow him to the
ancestral tomb, and let the other household dead be remembered, and
the other sad processions from the home of the living to the home of
the lost and gone be recalled, and think that as they never returned,
so never can he. Lay the body gently down beside those who have been
long sleeping there; look at it; remember the past since childhood;
weep and say farewell; return, Martha and Mary, with wrung hearts to
your home, and see the empty room and listen for a voice that is no
more, and experience a second death in the emptiness, the silence of
this changed abode, and let the heaviest burden of all be borne, the
deepest sorrow of all be endured--the doubt of a Saviour's love!

Yes, that terrible agony of doubt was there. Other friends came to
sympathise with them, and to be present with them at the funeral; but
this Friend was absent, and did not send even one comforting message!
Of what avail is His coming now? for Lazarus has been dead four days,
and corruption is already doing its foul work on his body. Here is
"darkness that might be felt!"

Would that we could feel how real all this mysterious sorrow must have
been to those sisters--our sisters, with our hearts, affections, and
sympathies--that so we may be the more prepared to receive the blessed
teaching which this narrative is designed to afford, and have our
faith strengthened by seeing how the darkness and perplexity which
belong so often to God's providential dealings towards us, may be
caused by the deepest workings of that very love which we do not for a
time see, and therefore may in our blindness and weakness for a time

But we must now look at the other portion of this history, which
interprets the one we have been considering, and reveals the mind and
ways of Jesus, now, as then, to His sorrowing friends.

We read that "when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick," "he abode two
days still in the same place where he then was." But His thoughts and
His heart were all the while in Bethany. He saw all that was taking
place there. He was cognisant of every groan and tear; yet He did
nothing to prevent the progress of the disease, or to lessen the
intensity of the sorrow. At the very moment when the sisters watch
their brother's last breath, Jesus "said unto them plainly, Lazarus is

Let us inquire, then, whether we can discover any reasons which could
have induced our Lord thus to prolong His stay at Bethabara, and to
absent Himself from Bethany. What means this deep calm and quiet at
such a time beside the troubled waters of the Jordan?

Now, we must ever remember that the grand end of all our Lord did,
was that "God might be glorified thereby,"--that the character of the
Father might be revealed in the fullest possible manner in and by
Jesus the Son. But in order that this, in the circumstances in which
He was then placed, might be accomplished, He had many things to
consider; many complex interests pertaining to the kingdom of God to
weigh and to reconcile, so as to bring out of them all glory to God in
the highest, with good-will to man.

(a.) Jesus had in the first place to consider the good of His
beloved friends in Bethany. They were thinking probably of their
own comfort only, and of that too as coming but in one way, by the
deliverance of Lazarus from sickness or death. But there is something
of more importance to immortal beings than mere comfort. Love to souls
is a very different sentiment, and manifested in a very different
manner, than love to mere animals. To get quit of grief; to have tears
dried up and smiles restored; to be delivered from all anxiety, and
relieved from the heavy burden of sorrow, never mind how,--this is
surely not the highest end which one who, wisely and truly loved,
would seek for his brother in adversity? The highest, the best,
the enduring and eternal interests of the sufferer must first be
considered. His comfort, doubtless, cannot be overlooked, but then
it must be such comfort as God can sympathise with and rejoice in; a
comfort, therefore, which is in harmony with true spiritual life, and
which will strengthen that life unto life eternal. Every other comfort
is a delusion, a cheating of the soul, a laughter that must end at
last in the experience of a deeper sorrow than before. He who bids
us seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, cannot
discipline us or aid us to seek any lower good first, because He loves
our true and highest good most. Jesus had therefore to consider how He
could bring true good, and therefore true comfort in the end, out
of this sickness and death, to Martha, Mary, and also to Lazarus. To
restore the brother to his sisters--was this best for them, taking
into account every circumstance of their history within and without?
To restore Lazarus to life--to a world of sin and temptation, again to
die--was this the best for him? These were solemn questions, which
Divine love and wisdom alone could answer.

(b.) But Jesus had to consider the good of His disciples. For
years these simple-minded men had followed Him, and had been educating
by Him to become the teachers of the world. HOW then shall this event
be best turned to account for the strengthening of their faith, for
the enlarging of their spiritual vision of God's glory, as revealed by
His Son? But Jesus remembered them also: "I am glad," He said, "for
your sakes that I was not there, to the intent that ye may believe."

(c.) Beyond the inner circle of His friends in Bethany and His
more immediate followers, there was the multitude of poor, ignorant,
fanatical, and unbelieving Jews--the wandering sheep, many of whom,
had to be gathered into the fold of this the Good Shepherd. Jesus
had their interests also at heart, as is evident from His prayer
subsequently at the tomb of Lazarus: "Because of the people which
stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me."

(d.) Nor must we, in contemplating the many objects of love which
occupied the thoughts of the Saviour, forget how intimately connected
the raising of Lazarus was with His own death. That last great
miracle of Divine power and love--almost, if not His last on
earth--was to mark the beginning of His own deepest humiliation and
sorrow. The hatred of the Jews was at this time so intense, that
Thomas was amazed that He should hazard a journey to a place so near
Jerusalem as was Bethany. "The Jews of late sought to stone thee; and
goest thou thither again?" And so dangerous did this journey seem,
that while bravely resolving to accompany Him, Thomas said, "Let
us also go, that we may die with him." But this hatred was to be
intensified by the display of Christ's glory at the tomb of Lazarus;
for we read that "from that day forth they took counsel to put Him
to death." The opening of the tomb to bring Lazarus forth was thus
the opening of His own to descend thither as "crucified, dead, and
buried." The gratitude of Mary for having her brother restored was
soon to be unconsciously expressed by her anointing his mighty
Restorer for His own burial. No wonder that Jesus paused ere He took
this last step which intervened between Himself and the death which
should end His work and mission upon earth.

(e.) And, as including all these considerations and many more, His
own glory as the Divine Son of God was involved in what was to take
place at Bethany. And this, again, involved the destinies of the human
race, and the good and comfort of the Church throughout coming ages.
Whatever became of Martha or Mary or Lazarus,--though the sisters
should weep out their little day of life, and though their brother's
sleep should be unbroken till the resurrection morning,--what was
all this to the revealing of Jesus as the Saviour of men, and as
the "resurrection and the life" of human bodies and of human souls?
Inconceivably less in proportion than are the interests of one person
to those of the whole universe! And thus you see that while those
humble mourners, in the weakness of the flesh, and in their earthly
short-sightedness, were thinking only of themselves, Jesus the Saviour
of mankind had to think of many persons and of many things, so that
every interest might be attended to, and the good of the whole kingdom
of God be remembered, while not a hair on the head of Martha, Mary, or
Lazarus was forgotten. Oh, blessed Saviour and glorious King! who can
thus govern worlds and mould the ages of human history, while His ear
is open to the prayers, and His thoughts occupied with the concerns,
of the humblest mourners, as if they alone existed in the mighty
universe of God!

Before shewing the blessed teaching which sufferers may gather from
this twofold picture of mysterious sorrow and of thoughtful love, let
us study for a moment the circumstances attending the meeting of Jesus
with Martha and Mary. Many of these are deeply interesting and full
of instruction; but I confine myself to one point only, the evidence
which I cannot but think they afford of the shaken faith of the
sisters for a time in the love of Jesus.

Martha was the first to meet Him outside of the town, where in quiet,
and undisturbed by the noisy mourners from Jerusalem, and by their
sympathising friends, Jesus desired, with His considerate kindness,
to probe and heal those sorely wounded hearts. And what was her
salutation? "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died!"
What means this? Is it an expression of confidence only in His power?
Is it a confession of faith? Or does it not rather evidence unbelief?
Does it not imply a sorrowing complaint, uttered, indeed, with
reverence, and in such gentle language as was compatible with sincere
faith, but still a complaint from a wondering and disappointed because
wrung spirit, expressed in language which suggested the additional
question asked only in the heart, "And why wert Thou not here?"
Jesus reasoned with her. She believes, yet still doubts and questions
why He had not come; she trusts Him, yet sees no light with reference
to His dealings towards themselves. One thing she will do, however,
amidst the darkness--she will cling to Christ as her only hope and
refuge! Mary remains in the house. Why? Was it that she had not heard
of the arrival of Jesus, or of Martha having gone to meet Him? Or is
her heart so torn by distracting thoughts, that for a moment she knows
not what to do? She dare not say to Him all she feels. Her keen and
sensitive heart is agonised by entertaining for a moment even the bare
suspicion of unkindness on His part. She fights against the horrid
thought, which, like a demon, torments her, yet she cannot yet quite
banish it, and meet Him with the full, unreserved, gushing love which
something tells her is His due. But however this may have been, a
message from Himself rouses her: "The Master is come, and calleth for
thee; and as soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came unto
him." But how did she meet Him! Ah! Martha and she have surely been
together pondering over the mystery of His absence, and they have
inwardly come to the same conclusion; and so she too fell at the
Master's feet, with the same wailing cry from her full heart, "Lord,
if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died!" As she uttered
these words, "Jesus wept!" There are expressions and single words in
Scripture which reveal a whole heaven of glory--like the opening in
the telescope, which, though but as a pin-point of light, reveals
the glory of sun, moon, and stars. What a revelation of love is
this--"Jesus wept!" But what mean these tears? They are visibly
significant of much sorrow. The cup of the "Man of sorrows" was always
full; what caused it thus to run over? Only twice in His life do we
read of the Saviour's weeping,--now, when at Bethany, and in a few
days afterwards, when entering Jerusalem during the week of His
crucifixion. Did Jesus now weep from mere human sympathy with sisters
mourning for a dead brother? or did He weep because He mourned their
own lost faith in His love to them? We are well aware of the tenacity
with which most people cling to the former method of accounting for
the Saviour's tears, and what pain it seems to give when the latter
view is pressed upon them, as if they were thereby robbed of some
special source of comfort in affliction, and left without any other
declaration in the Word of God--at all events, without any other
incident in the life of Jesus--fitted to inspire confidence in His
sympathy. It is not difficult to account for this feeling on our
part. For it is much easier to understand tears shed for mere human
suffering, than tears shed for human sin. The one kind of sorrow
is common, the other is rare. The one is almost instinctive, and
necessarily springs from that benevolence which belongs to us as men,
but the other can only spring from that love of souls which belongs to
us as "partakers of the sufferings of Christ," and from possessing,
therefore, a realising sense of the infinite importance of a right or
wrong state of being towards God, and from beholding the darkness of
evil casting its dread shadows over a dear one's spirit. Hence an
atheist can mourn over our loss of friends by death, while the man of
God alone can mourn over our loss of God himself by unbelief. Then,
again, every person welcomes the sympathy of another in his sorrows;
while he might at the same time have no sympathy with the grief
experienced by another for his sins. The one might be gladly welcomed
as most loving, but the other be proudly rejected as most offensive.

Why therefore should true Christians cling with such fondness to the
idea of Christ weeping with Martha and Mary, because they lost their
brother, and not rather see a far deeper love and a source of far
deeper comfort in his tears, because they had, for a moment even, lost
their faith? Surely those who know Christ do not depend solely on such
a proof as this of the reality of His humanity, and of His sympathy
with the affliction of His brethren; nor can that kind of sympathy
be the highest which can be afforded by all men whose hearts are
not utterly steeled by selfish indifference. Besides, however real
Christ's sympathy was with sorrow of every kind, why did He express it
on this occasion more than on any other? Nay, why did He weep at the
very moment when He purposed, by a miracle of power, to restore the
dead brother to his sisters, and in a few minutes to turn their sorrow
into joy? Why weep with those whose tears were shed in ignorance only
of the coming event which was so soon to dry them? But the Saviour's
tears came from a different and a profounder source! They welled out
of a heart whose deep and tender love was not trusted in, but doubted
even by those whom He loved most deeply and tenderly, and at the very
moment too when He was about to pour forth upon them the richest
treasure of His love, and to do exceeding abundantly above all they
could ask or think. Remember only how He of all men loved; how as a
man He longed for His brother's sympathy, and how as a holy Saviour He
longed for His brother's good. Remember how earnestly He sought for
the one grand result, that of hearty confidence in His goodwill, as
the only restorative of humanity fallen and in ruins through the curse
of unbelief. Remember, too, how lonely He was in the world; how
few understood Him in any degree, or responded even feebly to the
constant, boundless outpouring of His affection; and how many returned
His good with evil, His love with bitterest hate;--remember all
this, and conceive if you can what His feelings must have been when
returning to this home of His heart, to this green spot amidst the
wilderness of hateful distrust, with His whole soul full of such
glorious purposes of love and self-sacrifice, and then at such a
time to find his best and dearest friends smitten with the universal
blight, fallen to the earth and prostrate in the dust under the
crushing burden of unbelief! He does not weep, at first, when Martha
addresses him; but when Mary, the loving and confiding--she of all on
earth--complains; when faith has failed in even her!--oh, it is too
much for His heart! "And thou too!"--"Jesus wept!" Ah! that shadow of
death in such a soul as this was infinitely sadder to Him than the
dead body of her brother, nay, than the contents of all the festering
graveyards of the world! For what is death to sin? and what is the
power which can restore by a word the dead body to life, in comparison
with that which is required to restore an unbelieving soul to God? It
was this unbelief, the most terrible spectacle which earth presents to
the eye of a holy and loving Saviour, that made Him weep as He beheld
it for a moment, like a demon-power taking possession of His own best
beloved. And it was this same essential evil, and this alone, which
made Him weep once again as He entered Jerusalem, when He cried, "How
often would I have gathered you, but ye would not!"

In perfect accordance with this view, we read that when some of the
Jews said, as He walked towards the tomb of Lazarus, "Could not this
man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this
man had not died?" "Jesus therefore again groaning in himself,
cometh to the grave." For again the words expressed lost faith in His
power, or in His love to "this man." In like manner, when Martha, as
if to persuade Him not to attempt impossibilities, reminded Him of the
long time in which Lazarus had lain in the grave, saying, "Lord, by
this time he stinketh," Jesus sternly rebukes her, "Said I not unto
thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory
of God?" And tell me, is there not inexpressible comfort in this love
which mourns over sin as the greatest loss and the greatest sorrow? I
can get many, as I have said, in the world to understand and to feel
with me in all my sufferings from loss of wealth, of health, of
friends, or of any earthly blessing. Relations, acquaintances,
strangers, even enemies, could be found who would do so. But who
will so love me as to carry my crushing burden of sin? Who can fully
understand its exceeding sinfulness I Who can fathom the depths into
which I have fallen, or enter the body of death which imprisons my
spirit. One only, the truest, the best, the most loving of all, my
Saviour! And His hatred of my sin, and His sorrow for it, is just the
measure of His love to me, and of His desire to deliver me, and to
make me a partaker of His own blessed rest and peace, through faith
and love in His Father and my Father, in His God and my God!

I shall pass by the remaining facts in this narrative, the raising of
Lazarus, and the memorable scene when Jesus sat as a guest with the
family of Bethany, again restored to one another, and to Himself in
love; and when Mary with unutterable thoughts anointed His feet with
ointment, and wiped them with the hair of her head. I would rather
occupy the space which remains, in gathering from what has been said a
few general lessons of importance chiefly to mourners.

My suffering brother or sister! permit me to address you as if
personally present with you, seeing your distress, and sharing it
as those cannot choose but do who have themselves experienced the
darkness of sorrow. Such darkness and perplexity I have known, and I
so remember with deepest gratitude the strength and comfort which were
then afforded by the revelation of the ways of Christ, as illustrated
by this narrative, that I desire to help others as I have been myself

The one grand lesson which it teaches us is, never, in our darkest
hour, to lose confidence in the love of Christ towards us, as if He
had forgotten to be gracious, and either could not or would not help
us. Banish the sinful thought! "Beware lest there should be in any of
you the evil heart of unbelief." For such unbelief is the greatest
calamity which can befall us. It is, verily, "sorrow's crown of
sorrow," Let us rather "hold fast our confidence, which hath a great

Like the family in Bethany, you too, I shall suppose, are visited
with a sudden and "mysterious" bereavement. Like them you may pray to
Christ, and ask a specific blessing; and like them you may think He
has not heard your prayer, nor ever will answer it, because He does
not do this at the time or in the manner you wished or anticipated.
His thoughts and ways with reference to you may thus be utterly
dark--darker than blackest night. Yet the servant of the Lord, "though
he walks in darkness, and has no light," must "trust in the Lord, and
stay himself upon his God." For the ways of Christ to His suffering
friends in Bethany, when absent from them beyond the Jordan, are a
revelation of His ways to us now, when He is in glory beyond the
tomb. Now, as then, He never forgets us, never overlooks the least
circumstance in our history, and never ceases for one moment to have
that interest in us which is possible only for such a Brother or
Saviour to possess. But now, as then, He has manifold interests
to consider; ten thousand times ten thousand complex and crossing
consequences to weigh. While we, perhaps, have our thoughts wholly
occupied with but one desire, our own individual comfort, our own
deliverance from this or that trial, the wise and all-loving Jesus
has to provide for much more than this. Our own good and growth in
grace--the good of those in sickness--the good of children, relations,
friends, yea, it may be of generations yet unborn, who may be affected
at this crisis in our family history by what Jesus does or does
not,--all this must be considered by Him who loves all, and seeks the
good of all, and who alone can trace out the marvellous and endless
network of influence by which man is bound to man from place to place
and from age to age. No one, therefore, but the Lord of all can decide
what is best to be done in the circumstances of each case, in order
that most good may be done, and that God may be glorified thereby. He
alone knows how this link of "sickness unto death" is connected with
other links in the mysterious chain of human history. And if so, then
surely it becomes us, poor, ignorant, blind, selfish creatures, to bow
before His throne with holy reverence; to yield ourselves and all our
concerns meekly and lovingly into His hands, in the full assurance of
faith that our interests are there in best and safest keeping; to feel
that it is our first duty and noblest privilege to trust Him when we
cannot trace Him, being persuaded that He does all things well, and
that what we know not now we shall know hereafter.

Amidst all darkness, perplexity, and apparent confusion, remember the
certainties which abide unmoved, and "shine aloft as stars." It is
certain that "all things work together for the good of those who
love God;" that "thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose soul is
stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee;" and that "nothing
can separate us from the love of Christ," (His love to us.) It is
certain that our Christian dead are in His presence; and that no one
knows them or loves them as that Saviour does, who made them with His
own hands, and redeemed them with His own blood. It is certain that
if we are believers in Christ, we are still united to those departed
ones, in labour, in worship, in love, in hope, and in joy; for,
"whether we wake or sleep, we live together with Him." It is
certain, that if "we are Christ's," "all things are ours, whether
life or death, things present or things to come!"

Hold fast, then, O mourner, thy confidence in thy Lord! Have patience,
fret not, despair not, and a day shall come to thee like that which
came at last to the mourners in Bethany--it may be here, it may not be
until we meet Him beyond the bounds of time, yet come it must--when
all this earthly history, and all His doings towards us, shall be read
in the clear and full light of perfect knowledge; when out of this
seeming chaos and confusion the most perfect order will be evolved
before our wondering eyes; and when we shall joyfully acknowledge
with what majestic grandeur the world has ever been governed by its
glorious King! Then, when we hear how He has governed ourselves,
and trace the path along which He has led us since childhood, and
understand the reasons which induced Him at such a time and in such a
way to afflict us;--then, when the ways and thoughts of that mind and
heart are laid bare;--and then, too, when we recall our fears, our
doubts, our rebellions, our want of confidence in Him, what shall our
thoughts and feelings be? When His love and ours, His wisdom and ours,
His plans and ours, are thus contrasted, as we sit down at the great
supper with our own Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, and every one worthy of
our love restored to us for ever, beholding the unveiled face of our
Lord in glory; oh, then, it might seem almost essential to our peace
to be able to weep bitterly, and repent heartily, for our unworthy
suspicions and ungenerous treatment of such a Friend and Saviour! But,
blessed be His name! we shall then be able to give Him all He asks,
our whole hearts, and, like Mary, kneel at His feet, and there pour
forth the sweet fragrance of our gratitude, love, and joy, as we too
hear from His lips such words as these uttered amidst the light and
glory of the upper sanctuary: "Said I not unto thee, that if thou
wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God!"


What will happen during this year to ourselves and to those whom we
love? Life or death--health or sickness--joy or sorrow--good or evil?
What will the coming twelve months bring to me and mine? What may
be--what must be--what ought to be? Such questions, multiplied a
hundredfold, or broken up into every variety of anxious inquiry, often
fill the heart and mind on the first day of a new year.

Now, is it possible for us to find rest and peace for our spirits as
we steadily contemplate the future, with its darkness and light, with
all the duties and trials which it contains, and with all that it may
and must bring forth? Is there any secret of strength and comfort by
which we can with courage and hope encounter all the possibilities of
the future? There is. Let us only trust God, and we need not fear
anything, but welcome everything!

Let us consider this; and, first of all, understand what is meant by
trusting God.

To trust God, remember, is to trust Himself--a living, personal God.
It is not to trust to any means whatever whereby He makes Himself
known; but to look through them, all, or to go by them all, to the
living God himself. This is more than trusting to any truth even
revealed in the Bible, for it is trusting the Person who spoke the
truth, or of whom the truth is spoken.

To trust God is to trust Him as He is revealed in all the fulness of
His glorious character. It is to trust Him as true, and therefore as
faithful in keeping every promise, and in fulfilling every threat; as
wise, and therefore as never erring in any arrangement made for the
well-being of His creatures; as righteous, and therefore as doing
right to each and all; as holy, and therefore as hating evil, and
loving good; as merciful and therefore as pardoning the guilty
through a Redeemer;--it is, in one word, to trust Him "whose name is
Love!"--love which shines in every attribute, and is the security for
every blessing! Trust and obedience are therefore, from their nature,

This trust in God is not common. Nothing, indeed, so common in men's
mouths as the phrases, "I trust in God," "I have all my dependence on
God," "We have none else to look to but Him," and the like. But, alas!
how meaningless often to men's hearts are those sayings in men's
mouths! They frequently express confidence only in God's doing what He
has never promised to do;--as when a slothful, idle, dissipated man
continues in his wickedness, yet "trusts God" will ward off poverty
from him, or provide for his family whom he is all the while robbing.
Or the words express confidence in what God has positively declared He
never will nor can do;--as when an impenitent man, who has no faith
in Christ or love to Him, "trusts God will forgive him," or make him
happy, or not punish him, should he die as he is. All this, and such
like trust, is "vain confidence," trusting a lie, and believing a
delusion. Others, again, professing to trust God's word, manifest a
total want of trust in His ways, and do not walk in His commandments,
nor submit to His corrections, believing neither to be the will of a
holy and loving Father. And thus, men who in theory say they trust
God, practically have no trust in Him, whatever they may have in
themselves, in the world, or in things seen and temporal. But oh the
blessedness and the peace of him whose trust is in the Lord!

Read a few declarations from God's Word upon the crime of want of
trust, and the peace enjoyed when possessing it:--

"Thus saith the Lord, Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and
maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord: for he
shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good
cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a
salt land and not inhabited." "The Lord also will be a refuge for the
oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name
will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them
that seek thee." "Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that
trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the
Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are
upright in heart." "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In
God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not
fear what flesh can do unto me....In God have I put my trust: I will
not be afraid what man can do unto me." "Trust in the Lord with all
thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy
ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." "Thou wilt
keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he
trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord
Jehovah is everlasting strength."

Now, this trust in God has been the character of all God's people in
every age, and under every dispensation. We who live in these latter
days may say of all our spiritual ancestry, "Our fathers trusted
thee." They all had faith in the living God, and believed His word to
be true, and His ways to be excellent. Abraham did so, when he went
forth into the wide world, not knowing whither he went, having but
God's word as a staff to lean on; and when he offered up his only son,
believing that God was able even to raise him from the dead. Moses did
so, when "by faith he forsook Egypt," and preferred "the reproach of
Christ," and "endured, as seeing Him who is invisible," Job did so,
when deprived of everything but God himself; when he sat in sackcloth
and ashes, and bore the glorious testimony in the presence of men and
devils, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him," David did so
during his whole life, and his sacred songs are anthems of joyful
trust, which the Church of God can never cease to sing till faith is
lost in sight. And Jehoshaphat did so, when in the presence of the
great invading army he addressed his small band with the noble words,
"Trust in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established." And Daniel
did so, when he entered the den of lions, and came out unscathed,
"because he believed in the Lord his God." And Paul did so, when he
ended his triumphant life, which he "lived by faith in the Son of
God," with the shout of victory, saying, "I know whom I have trusted,
and I am persuaded He can keep what I have committed to Him until that
day." All the children of God have known, loved, and trusted their
Father, and have reflected that holy light which shone with unclouded
and faultless lustre in the Firstborn of all the brethren; for Jesus
ever held fast His confidence in God until His last cry of faith,
"Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit!"

Begin the year and spend it in this frame of mind. Know God, trust
Him, and go on thy way rejoicing, whatever that way may be. Heaven and
earth may pass away, but thou art safe, because right.

Do you, for example, fear the future because it is unknown? Trust God,
and fear not! This ignorance of coming events which are to affect our
own happiness for time or for eternity is very remarkable, especially
when contrasted with our minute and accurate knowledge of other
things; such as the future movements of the moon and stars,--events
which, though revealing the history of immense worlds, are yet to
us of far less importance than the malady which may enter our home
to-morrow, and close for ever the eyelids of a babe! In proportion,
indeed, as the things of each day are to affect us, God has so
concealed them, that we know not what one day is to bring forth. And
this ignorance is surely intended to accomplish at least one blessed
end--that of making us fly to God himself, and look up to Himself for
guidance, for protection, and for peace. The feeblest child thereby
becomes filled with such assurance of faith, that, whatever is before
him, he can say, "Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast
holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and
afterward receive me into glory," How grand, then, is this thought,
that whatever may come to the believer out of the mysterious womb of
time, or out of the vast recesses of an unknown and immense eternity,
nothing can possibly destroy his soul's peace; for nothing can
separate him from the love of the ever-present, unchangeable,
omnipotent God. The stars of heaven may fall, and the heavens depart
as a scroll, and every mountain and island be moved out of its place;
but the meekest child of God will be kept in perfect peace on the
bosom of his Father, and there rest, untouched by the revolutions of
coming ages, as the rainbow reposes on the bosom of the sky, unmoved
by "the strong wind which rends the mountains, and breaks in pieces
the rocks before the Lord."

Whether, therefore, the year is to bring life or death, poverty or
riches, health or sickness to us or to our friends,--all is beyond our
knowledge or our will. But, thank God, it is nevertheless within the
province of our will to secure to ourselves perfect peace and rest.
This sure hope is based on the glorious fact that there is a God--a
living God who verily governs the universe; whose kingdom is one
of righteousness; whose omnipotence is directed by love; and who,
consequently, so administers the affairs of His blessed kingdom, as
that all its complex machinery of events move in harmony with the
safety and peace of every true child.

Again, Do you fear because of coming duties or trials which you cannot
but anticipate? Trust God, and fear not! "Cast thy burden"--however
great--"the Lord, and He will sustain thee." Experience tells us
that the evils which we once most feared never came, but were purely
imaginary, while the things really appointed to us were never
anticipated. Let this help us to appreciate God's goodness and wisdom
more in commanding us to "take no anxious thought about the morrow,"
because "sufficient for the day is the evil thereof."

Still you are certain of some duties or trials before you. This
sickness, you say, must end in death; or this journey must, if you are
in life, be taken to a foreign shore, and last farewells be spoken; or
this year you must enter upon this new profession so arduous and
so full of risks. And thus each one, with more or less degree of
certainty, chalks an imaginary outline of his future course. But
supposing all your anticipations to be well-founded, yet, oh! believe
that when your day of trial or of duty comes, a Father, if you know
Him and trust Him, will come with it. You will have on that dark day
a Father's unerring wisdom to guide you, a Father's omnipotent arm to
uphold you, a Father's infinite love to soothe you, comfort you, and
fully satisfy you. Hear these precious commands and promises:--"fast
your confidence, which hath a great reward!" "Be careful for nothing,
but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which
passeth understanding, will keep your mind and heart through Christ

Once more, Do you fear the future, lest you should sin and depart from
God as you have done in the past? Trust God, and fear not! For how did
you depart from God before? From want of trust. You lost confidence
in your Father's teaching, and leant on your own understanding, or
listened to the voice of strangers; you first lost confidence in your
Father's love and goodwill to you, and in His power to satisfy all
your wants, and to give whatever was best for you out of His rich and
inexhaustible treasures, and then you demanded the portion of your
goods, and departed from Him, and ceased to pray to Him or to think of
Him at all, but gave your heart, soul, and strength to the creature.
But you had no peace. You left the cistern of living waters; but the
cisterns hewn out by yourselves held no water to assuage your soul's
thirst. You found it to be "an evil and a bitter thing" to forsake
God. Hear, then, His invitation on the first day of a new year:
"Return to the Lord thy God!" Arise, and go to thy Father; "abide"
with Him; and never more lose thy confidence in Him as thy strength,
thy peace, thy life! Trust His mercy to pardon the past; His grace to
help in the present; and His love to fill up thy being at all times.
"Fear not: I am with thee: I will uphold thee with the right hand of
my righteousness!" Your only strength and safety are in God. Daily
seek Him, daily trust Him, and you will daily serve Him.

But perhaps you fear the future lest you should not "redeem the time"
as you ought to do to the glory of God? Trust God, and fear not! Lost
time is a sad and oppressive thought to the child of God. What might
he have done! What might he have been! How might he have improved
his talents, and cultivated his spirit, and done good to relations,
friends, neighbours, and to the world, had he only redeemed days,
hours, minutes, which have been spent in sloth or folly! And not one
second can be restored. Shall the future be a similar record to the
past? You fear to think of it! But be assured that till the last hour
of the best spent life, you will need the atoning blood of Jesus for
your innumerable shortcomings as a miserable sinner. The very "light
of life" which enables you to know and rejoice in Jesus, will enable
you also, in proportion as it burns brightly, to know and to mourn
over yourselves. But while there is cause for earnest thoughtfulness
about coming time, as a talent to be improved for your own good and
God's glory, there is no cause for unbelieving fear, for such "fear
hath torment." God does not give you a year to spend; He gives you
but a day; nay, not even that, but only the present moment. He divides
the talent of time into minutes, fractions, and says to you, "Employ
this one for me." Therefore do not concern yourself with what is not
yours; but as each day or hour comes, trust God! He is not a hard
master, reaping where He does not sow; but is a Father sowing in you,
and by you, in order that you, as well as Himself, might reap so that
"both sower and reaper might rejoice together." Trust Him for always
pointing out to you the path of duty, so that, as a wayfarer, you will
never err. Be assured, that when the moment comes in which you must
take any step, He will, by some voice in His Word or providence, say
to you, "This is the way, walk ye in it!" Be assured, also, that
amidst many things undone, or ill done by you, He will still so help
you, if sincere, to labour in His cause here, and to improve your time
and talents, as to be able hereafter to say, even to you, "Well done,
good and faithful servant! enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." "In
the name of the Lord, then, let us lift up our banners!" Enter upon
the labours and duties of the year with joy I Art thou not a fellow
labourer with thy brother saints and angels, yea, even with thy God?
Doth not that omnipotent Spirit of light and love, who uniteth all in
one, and who hath led the Church of Christ from grace to glory, dwell
in thee? Wherefore, then, dost thou dishonour God and His word by
unbelieving fear?

Finally, the experience of the past may strengthen your faith in God
for the future. You have never trusted Him in vain. He has never
failed you in time of need. You have always found His strength
sufficient to uphold you, and His wisdom able to arrange for you,
and His love inexhaustible in supplying your manifold wants. Ah!
had you foreseen, years ago, all the past journey, so often dark and
perplexing, which you have since pursued; and also all the duties
which have successively claimed your energies for their performance;
and all the trials, so many, so varied, which you have had to endure;
would you not have sunk down in despair before the spectacle? But you
did not foresee what is now past. God in mercy concealed it from
you, as He does what is now future. And therefore you did not then, as
you cannot now, despair. The Lord has hitherto helped you, and
led you through the wilderness, and held you up, and kept you from
falling; and so it is that both in your inward and outward state, you
are this day a monument of His power, mercy, patience, grace!

And now, in peace of heart, say with Paul, "I am persuaded that
neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers,
nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate us
from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Lord,
it is enough! Never separated from Thyself for one moment in our
existence, here or anywhere, we can never be separated from the chief
object of our affections, from Him who is the fulness of our whole
being, the never-failing source of our blessedness and joy. Believing
in Thee our Father, we enter another year, and advance along our
endless journey, not knowing what a day or an hour may bring forth;
but knowing this, as all we care to know, that during every day and
hour we are "continually with Thee." A long life on earth may be ours,
but neither its labours nor its cares, its temptations nor its trials,
shall be able to destroy our peace, because unable to separate us from
Thy love. Thy love will give life to every duty, deliverance from
every temptation, guidance in every perplexity, and comfort in every
trial. Death may come, in what form or in what circumstances, how soon
or how late, we cannot tell; but we fear no evil, however dark its
shadow, for "Thou art with us." Eternity must come, and may come to
us ere the year ends. But whatever things beyond the grave are hidden
from us, Thou Thyself, our Father, art revealed! We know Thee, and
this is life eternal!


1. Let a short portion of time be spent each day this year in private
prayer, in reading God's Word, and, if possible, some devotional book.

2. Let it be the great work of the year to become better acquainted
personally with Jesus Christ as the living and ever-present Friend,
Brother, and Saviour.

3. Endeavour to concentrate your efforts to do good upon some definite
unselfish work in your family or out of it, which may help others, as
it certainly must help yourself.

4. In all things try to live more towards God, seeking His approval of
your inner and outer life. The less you talk about yourself or your
doings before men, the better for yourself and for them.

5. Aim this year at being a peacemaker between professing Christians;
to allay disputes, and to heal breaches among friends and relations;
and to make men respect and esteem each other more.

6. Do not leave behind you in the old year guilt unpardoned, but
believe in Jesus for the remission of sins; nor enter a new year with
sin loved and cherished, but accept of and rely upon His Spirit to
sanctify you. Begin the year without enmity to any man on earth,
"forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as
Christ forgave you, even so do ye."

7. If you are the head of the house, resolve to read a portion of
God's Word once a-day at least to the family; and either read or offer
up, always with them, a short but hearty prayer.

8. Endeavour to keep an account of your income and expenditure, that
you may be able to live justly and generously. Give what you can to
assist poor relatives, and poor Christians, and the Church of Christ.
Try this one year to tax yourself ten per cent, on your free income
for such purposes.

Learn to do these things, and many more will the Lord teach thee to
know and do; and may the God of love and peace be with thee!


"Remember all the way the Lord hath led thee" during the past year.

REMEMBER HIS MERCIES.--Calmly review, as far as you can, what God has
given you these bygone months.

Have you been blessed with bodily health? If so, consider what
a gift it is to be spared the tortures some endure: the restless,
feverish nights; the long weary days; the unceasing pain; the no-hope
of relief in this world.

Have you been blessed with mental health? If so, think of the mercy
of not having been visited with insanity, or of having been freed from
the suffering of even mental depression, so touchingly described by
the poet as

"A grief without a sigh, void, dark, and drear,
A stifled, drowsy, unimpassion'd grief,
That finds no natural outlet, no relief,
To word, or sigh, or tear;"

Think of the mercy of having been able to enjoy God's beautiful
world, and to feel the life in its scenery, its music, and its blue
sky, during the summer that has passed, as you walked along the
sea-shore, among the woods, across the green fields, up the glen,
over the moorlands, or gazed on the glorious landscape from the windy
summits of the old hills. Health of body and of mind!--Oh, common,
most blessed, yet, alas! how often unnoticed, gifts of God!

Have you received other mercies connected with your temporal
well-being? Perhaps at the beginning of the year (as at the beginning,
maybe, of many a year before) things looked very dark for you and
yours. Yet "hitherto" God has helped you. You may never have had more
light on your path than what enabled you to take the next step with
safety, but that light has never failed you. God has been pleased thus
to discipline many of His people. You may, possibly, remember also
peculiar deliverances:--from sickness; from money difficulties; from
bodily dangers; with unexpected additions to your means of comfort and
of usefulness.

Again, call to remembrance your social mercies, which have come more
indirectly through others. Think of the relations and friends who have
been spared to you! Begin with your dearest, and pass on from those
to others less closely allied, but still most valued, and number them
all, if you can. Do any remain whom death threatened to remove
during the past year? Have any, have many, been a comfort to you?
Have your anxieties regarding the temporal or spiritual well-being of
others been lessened? Have beloved ones been given to you during the
year--such as a wife, a husband, or a child? If God hath led you in
this way during the past year, it ought indeed to be remembered!

And if any of those Christian friends have fallen asleep in Jesus,
then it is a great mercy to know most certainly that they are your
friends still, and your best friends too; and you should thank God
for the happiness which they now enjoy, and which you hope to share
with them.

But you have other mercies to remember besides these. Surely much has
been done for your spiritual good by your Father in heaven. He has
shewn patience, forbearance, and long-suffering towards you; and has
been teaching you during these past months by faithful ministers or
faithful friends; and has been striving within you to bring you
to Himself, and to keep you there. Have you enjoyed no peace in
believing, nor gained any victories over self and sin? Have you
possessed no more calm and habitual fellowship with God? Have you done
no good? Has prayer neither been offered in truth, nor answered in
love? Has all been fruitless and dead? Oh, let us beware of the
falsehood of denying spiritual mercies bestowed on us by God! "If I
should say I know Him not, I should be a liar like unto you,"
said our Lord. The graces of the Spirit, the least of them, are the
earnests of eternal good, the assurances of enjoying the whole fulness
of God.

BUT YOU HAVE SORROWS TO REMEMBER. Alas! we are in little danger of
forgetting these. The sunny days may come and go unheeded, but the
dark ones are all registered. We cannot forget that "the Lord taketh
away;" but why do we not as vividly remember that the same Lord
"giveth" and that in both cases we have equal cause, did we only
see it, to exclaim, "Blessed be the name of the Lord!" I ask not what
these sorrows have been. Enough that they are very real to you, or to
those who are bound up with you in the bundle of life. It was a weary
time to you in the wilderness, and it is well to remember that portion
of the way in which you have been led, which was as a dark valley and
shadow of death.

AND WHAT OF SIN? That is what makes it so hard for us to remember the
past journey. The backslidings and falls in the way; the careless
straggling behind; the lazy resting-places; the slow progress; the
careless devotions; the misspent days of the Lord; the opportunities
lost of doing good to others, or of receiving good ourselves, through
procrastination, sloth, and indifference; the manifestation of our
unloving and selfish spirit towards our brother, in envy, bad temper,
backbiting, jealousy, or unguarded speech; the little done or given
for God's work on earth, in charity to the poor, or to "our own flesh"
who required assistance;--the everything, in short, which deters
memory from looking steadily at what it would if it could blot out for
ever from its records! Yet it is of great importance that this portion
of the journey should be remembered; although it is not the way in
which God led us, but which we chose for ourselves in our ignorance
and self-will. Ponder it well! Recall what your conduct has been in
avoiding temptation; how you have made use of the means of grace; the
days in which you may have lived without God, or if you prayed to Him,
when you did so as a form, without any real faith or love; the days in
which you have been so presumptuous as to live without "faith in the
Son of God," and to meet trials, temptations, and duties, without
seeking strength from the Holy Spirit; the Sundays that have come and
gone without having been improved, and sermons heard in vain, and
public worship joined in outwardly only, without reality; the little
help, or possibly great discouragement given to Christian ministers
and Christian members by your very coldness; the time lost never to be
recalled, and of all that could have been done for the ignorant, the
afflicted, the wicked, the sick and dying, for friends and relations,
which has been left undone, and never can be done in the other world.
Think of what your Master has said, who is to judge you--that "herein
is my Father glorified, that ye bring forth much fruit"--that "if any
man will be my disciple, let him take up his cross daily, and follow
me"--that "many will say in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not eaten
and drunk in thy presence? hast thou not taught in our streets? have
we not done many wonderful works in thy name? and I will say
unto them, I know you not; depart from me, all ye workers of
iniquity:"--think of this now, for think of it one day you must: and
if you do so with any degree of truthfulness, I am sure you cannot
enter another year without pouring out your heart in humble
confession, and laying down your burthen at the foot of the cross,
crying out, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" "Have mercy upon me, O
God, according to thy loving-kindness, and according to thy tender
mercies blot out all my transgressions!"

Allow me now to put what I have to say in a practical form:--

1. When you review your mercies, consider how you are affected by
them. It is easy, I know, to say, and to say so far truly, "Thank God
for them!" Yet the whole spirit in which they are possessed may be
intensely selfish. We may have been seeking our life in them to the
very exclusion of God from our hearts, forgetting that "a man's life,"
says our Lord, "consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he
possesseth." What things? Any creature things whatever! To make these
our life, that is, our happiness, or to esteem them as essential to
our happiness, is, as our Lord adds, for a man "to lay up treasures
for himself, and not to be rich towards God." This is that
"covetousness which is idolatry,"--the worship of Self, through what
ministers to Self.

2. As you remember your sorrows, remember not only how you were
sustained and comforted under them, but, what is of incomparably more
importance, consider how far you have been realising God's purpose in
sending them. That purpose may have been to perfect you by trial; or
to prove your loyalty to Him; or to prevent evil in yourselves and
others. But never forget that the lesson of all lessons is, that we or
others should find life, and life eternal--that is, as I have said,
life in the knowledge and in the love of God, which will satisfy and
endure for ever; or, if this is already found by us, that we should
possess it "more abundantly." Now, whatever tends to make us realise
that what we often call and think to be "our life" is yet no
life--that money, friends, or earthly enjoyments cannot fill the
immortal soul, or be its portion for ever;--whatever awakes us from
this dream and dispels the delusion, and makes us know the excellence
and reality of true life in God, must be a blessing of the highest and
richest kind. Yet what has such a tendency to do all this as sorrow,
and the very trials which we so much deplore? The pain is no doubt
great--often agony--a very cutting off a right hand, or plucking out a
right eye; but the gain intended by the operation is incalculable and
endless. Yet, what if all the good is lost through our blindness,
ignorance, hardness of heart, pride, self-will, and unbelief? Alas!
alas! if we too "go away sorrowful" from Christ when He threatens to
take away our "much riches," though He does so in order only through
this very discipline to induce us to follow Himself, and by the cross
to gain life eternal! Alas! when it can be said of us, "Yet the Lord
hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to
hear, unto this day; that ye might know that I am the Lord your God."
And what is their punishment? "They have forsaken the Lord, they have
provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger, they are gone away backward.
Why should ye be stricken any more? Ye will revolt more and more!"
What a real loss of friends would this be! For by separating ourselves
through unbelief from Christ, we thereby for ever separate ourselves
from our friends in Christ, if they are with Him!

Ye who have experienced comfort from good in affliction, bless God!
"O Lord, my strength, my fortress, and my refuge in the day of
affliction!" "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me,
bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all
His benefits." Let the remembrance of the past, also, strengthen your
faith for the future. As you "let your requests be made known to God
with prayers and supplication," do not forget the "thanksgiving" for
this will help you henceforth to "be careful for nothing." He who has
led you out of Egypt, through "the depths," and across the desert,
will never leave you nor forsake you.

3. As you remember your sins, consider how very ignorant you are of
their number or their heinousness. But if you could enumerate each
sinful thought, word, and action committed during the past year and
during your past life, there is something in you worse than sins,
and that is sin itself, the evil heart, the wrong mind, out of
which sins proceed; for the corrupt tree is worse than any definite
quantity of fruit which it has produced; the ever-flowing bitter
fountain is worse than any definite quantity of water which has come
from it. But whatever you have been or done in time past, what do you
intend to be and to do now? Is it your intention to continue in
sin? However dreadful the thought is, yet many, if such is your real
intention, will sympathise with you. For many do continue in sin,
and resolve to do so, for the present at least. Will you, then, permit
the year to close, and with an unconcerned eye behold all its sin and
sins added to those of other impenitent years, finally sealed up for
judgment? How will you then stand the reading of your autobiography?
Read over any page now, peruse the life of any day, and ask, Has
this been the life of one who believes there is a God to whom he is
responsible? Point out one solitary proof, and such as you think
Christ will accept, in all these twelve chapters of the past year,
of a heart which loved God, or had one mark of a sincere though an
imperfect follower of Jesus Christ. And if you cannot do so, will you
permit the volume to close for ever without a cry for mercy, without
imploring God to wipe out or destroy in the atoning blood of Jesus
these pages, which cry "Guilty" in every line? Will you not resolve
rather, through the grace given to every honest man who wishes it, to
begin and write a new volume, which shall witness to a changed life,
and be inscribed no longer with all that is selfish, and of the earth
earthy--"without God or Christ in the world." Let it be so, I beseech
of you, my reader. Have done, now and for ever, with this shocking
mutiny against your God. End the weary, shameful strife. Be, then,
at peace with God, and remember that for you, if you believe in
Jesus, there is free pardon, restoration to favour, a new heart, a new
life, which is now life eternal.

And for you who have long given up sin as a master--who know that
while the "flesh wars against the spirit, the spirit wars against the
flesh," thank God and take courage! "Sin shall not have dominion over
you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace." Hear the words of
our invincible Leader, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world;"
"Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world."

This year we may die. Let this mere possibility lead us to redeem with
greater earnestness what remains of life to the service of our God; so
that when the next year dawns upon this world it will find us, if we
are in the other world, remembering our mercies before God's throne,
our sorrows for ever vanished, and our sins for ever blotted out; but
that if we are still here, it will see us living more worthy of our
mercies, finding true good in our sorrows, and obtaining the victory
over our sins!

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