Obrázky na stránke


Any simple statement of the gospel had a great at

traction for him-and the simpler it was he enjoyed it His love toward all men, and his want of all malice, the more-if it was not controversial but the genuine were specially brought out in his singular freedom from utterance of the heart. The account of redemption the vice of evil-speaking. This was the more noteworthy from the lips of an African woman, a slave, impressed because “much speaking” was a frequent snare to him.

him deeply: he liked to repeat it in conversation ; and In speaking at inconvenient times and at excessive

on one occasion at a meeting for prayer, he stood up length, he forgot the connsel of a wiser than himself, that

and said without further remark of his own_“I have "in the multitude of words there wanted not sin ;" al- never heard the gospel better stated than it was put by though in speaking to God he often remembered the a poor negress : “Me die, or He die ; He die, me no higher warning, “God is in heaven, and thou upon earth : die.'” therefore let thy words be few.” But as regards "back

THOUGHTS ON PREACHING. biting with the tongue, and taking up a reproach against On the preaching of Jonathan Edwards, he said, a neighbour," the commendation might fitly be be- “His doctrine is all application, and his application all stowed on him, “If any man offend not in word, the doctrine.” But the most graphic of his conversational same is a perfect man.” This perfect “ bridling of the criticisms on the pulpit, was his comparison of two great tongue" from speaking evil, was the more trying in his preachers, Dr. Chalmers and Dr. Gordon ; but his voice case, and its mastery a greater triumph, because he did and action added a vividness which we cannot transfer not limit himself to the rule of saying nothing about by the pen. “They were both one-idead preachers; but your neighbour except when you can speak well of him. I used to compare the one to a showman, and the other Toward his neighbour he bridled his tongue with a per- to a huntsman. Dr. Chalmers was the showman, and fect control and skill; but he did not muzzle it. Talking his idea was the showman's box, which he set down beabout his fellow-men was in mere bulk a very small in- fore you and said, 'Here's the idea.' Then he took it gredient of his multitudinous speech. But he delighted up in his hands, and turned it, and showed it in every in portraying men's characters; not in gossip, not in possible way: 'This is the top of it, and this is the long discussion, and not in random remarks, but in one bottom; this is its front, and this is its back; this is or two deep lines of a portrait thoughtfully fashioned in its right side, this is the left ; this is the outside, and his own mind : as he abridged a subject into its most this is the inside : so there you have the whole idea.' practical shape, so he condensed a man into an aphoristic Dr. Gordon was the huntsman, and his idea was the fox sentence. He greatly loved to dwell on the good that which he asked you to help him to catch : “You cannot was in men, but it was the characteristic good ; and he see it yet, but we shall search the thicket and make shunned the utterance of any evil, so far as it was mixed sure to find it. It is somewhere in this cover; let us with the "leaven of malice.” Yet he characterized the man, first beat for it on the right, next let us turn and beat not as good, and not as bad, but as an individual human the bushes on the left. It is not in either, let us now being with his own distinctiveness ; painting the portrait beat straight in front. Sniff! sniff! we have got on the in vivid hues, but never mingling bis colours with any scent, we shall soon catch it now, it must be very neardrops of " the poison that is under the tongue.”

ho, there it is at last! look, that is it! the idea :'-and he “The command,” he said, “is not “Thou shalt love closed the book just the moment before you had caught thyself as thy neighbour ;' but, “Thy neighbour as thy- it." The same thought has been otherwise expressed, self.' There is a priority, but a priority among equals. that “ the idea was in the sentence after the last.” -The Talmud says: He who says, ' Mine is mine, and After the death of Dr. Gordon, to whose clear and thine is thine,' is a just man ; he who says, “Mine is earnest teaching of the way of life not a few teachers mine, and thine is mine,' is a wicked man; but he who of others were deeply indebted, Dr. Duncan, in conductsays, 'Thine is thine, and mine is thine,' is a good man. ing an ordinary service in church, began in a loud voice, -Love seeketh not her own. Some people's minds are and said with a singular majesty and force, “ Know ye made up of extreme suspiciousness. If they hear part not that there is a Prince and a great man fallen this of a matter concerning any one, and there be both a day in Israel ?” He added no comment; yet more clean and a dirty handle to take hold of it by, they are effectually than by a long oration did these few words, sure to take hold of it by the dirty handle. If you are as he spoke them, set forth the prince-like grandeur of without love, then the church bell is as good a Christian the dead, and awaken at once admiration for his charas you."

acter and sorrow for Israel's loss.

The Cressons of Grace in the Idranguage of Nature.




"Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men :.... manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” – 2 Cor. iii. 2, 3.

ROM the example of the Master, Paul of the disciples being an epistle to recommend

had acquired the habit, in his teach- him is no sooner brought in than it is abandoned. ing, of gliding softly and quickly He glides instantly into a greater thing. The

from a common object of nature to Christians are an epistle of Christ. Their lives the deep things of grace. In his conversation are a letter in which men may learn the Lord. with the woman of Samaria, for example, Jesus Regarding these living epistles of Christ, conled his scholar, ere she was aware, from the water sider, of Jacob's well to the water of life. In like manner, the Apostle of the Gentiles was accus- I. The paper, or material, on which the marks tomed to make any common topic that arose, the are made.—Many different substances have been stepping-stone by which he carried his pupils employed in successive ages of the world to receive over into the concerns of the kingdom of God. and retain a written language ; but one feature is

In this case, the question concerned the testi- common to all, -in their natural state they are monials which a .minister or missionary might not fit to be used as writing materials. They present when he reached a new sphere. The prac- must undergo a process of preparation. Even tice of asking and obtaining certificates seems the primitive material of stone must be polished to have been introduced at a very early period on the surface ere the engraving begin. All the into the Christian Church. Already, in Paul's rough places must be made smooth, otherwise the time, some abuses had crept in along with it. A writing would not be legible. The precious minister of very moderate gifts, or even of doubt- stones containing the names of the twelve tribes, ful soundness, might carry in his pocket a voucher and together constituting the high priest's breastsigned by some great names. We may gather plate, were not capable of taking the engraving from this epistle that some very well recom- on when first the Hebrews found them. Much mended missionaries had been spoiling Paul's labour was expended ere all the sharp corners work at Corinth.

were rubbed off, and a glassy polish imparted to Virtually challenged to exhibit his own certifi- the surface. The reeds, and leaves, and skins, cates, he boldly appeals to the profession and the too, which were used as writing materials by the life of those who had been converted through his ancients, all needed a process of preparation. ministry. He does not need to present letters Therein they are like the living epistles of Jesus of recommendation to them when he comes to Christ, who must be renewed in the spirit of their Corinth, or to request letters of recommendation minds ere they can show forth the Redeemer's from them when he goes away: “Ye are our likeness in their lives. epistle.” The work which God had done by him But the preparation of modern materials for is evidence that God has sent him to work. He writing, although it was not before the apostle's will not deign to submit any other proof of his mind when he wrote this text, contains, in fact, call.

more points of likeness to the renewing and But Paul always reckons himself a small sub- sanctifying of believers than any of the ancient ject. Although compelled sometimes to intro- arts. duce it, he will not dwell on it. The conception Although Paul does not here directly refer to paper--a substance not invented when he wrote cause he is good; but neither let any one there is a remarkable likeness between the method fear he will be kept out of it because he is evil. employed in its manufacture, and that work of Him that cometh, the Lord will in no wise cast the Spirit by which a human life becomes fit to out. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall receive and exhibit an epistle of Christ. Filthy be white as wool. The blood of Jesus cleanseth rags are the raw material of the manufacture. us from all sin. These are with great care and labour broken very Not on tables of stone, like those on which the small, and washed very clean. They are then law was graven, but on tables of flesh, must the cast into a new form, and brought out pure and mind and likeness of Christ be written. Give beautiful, ready to get a new meaning impressed him your heart. Surrender it to him, that he on their smooth, bright breast. Paper from rags may blot out its stains, and mark it for his own. is, in an obvious and important sense, a new The Lord hath need of epistles to recommend his creature. It has been cleansed from its filthiness. grace in this world: Lord, here am I; use me. There is now no spot nor wrinkle upon it, nor any such thing

II. The writing, or the mind and meaning Such a process of breaking down and building which is fixed on the prepared page. It is not up again takes place every time that a writing Christianity printed in the creed; but Christ material is prepared for receiving an epistle of written in the heart. When that writing is fixed Christ. You might as well try to write with pen on the heart, it shines through every opening of and ink upon the rubbish from which paper is the life, and conciliates favour for the Lord. made, as to impress legible evidence for the truth It is well understood that a person's character and divinity of the gospel on the life and conver- may be very well gathered from his letters. These sation of one who is still “ of the earth, earthy." seem to be windows in his breast through which

The paper manufacturer is not nice in the choice you can read his true character. How eagerly of his materials. He does not reject a torn or a the public read the letters of a great man, if they filthy piece as unfit for his purpose. All come are printed after his death. People expect to alike to him. The clean and glancing cloth from learn better by these than by any other means the table of the rich, and filthy rags from a beg. what the man really was. gar's back, are equally welcome. The clean can- As our Lord left no monument of himself in not be serviceable without passing through the brass or marble, so he left no letters written by manufacturer's process, and the unclean can be his own hand. He did not write his mind on made serviceable with it. He throws both into tables of stone or on sheets of parchment. Even the same machine, puts both through the same Rome, with all her rage for relics, does not preprocess, and brings out both new creatures. The tend to show a specimen of his hand-writing. Pharisees were scandalized on observing that Yet he has not left himself without a witness. publicans and sinners came in streams to Christ, He has left letters behind him which truly reveal and were all accepted. “This man receiveth his mind: “Ye are epistles of Christ.” Disciples, sinners,” they complained. Yea, receiveth them when he desires to let the world know what he sinners are taken in between the wheels, at the is, he points to you. Nay, more, and further, commencement of this process; but at the end of when he would have the Father to behold his it, saints in white clothing are thrown out, fit for glory, he refers him to the saved: “Father, I am the kingdom of heaven. Go ye into the highways glorified in them.” It is not only that the world, and hedges, and as many as ye can find bid to the in point of fact, judges of Christianity by what marriage. Christ does not find any pure on they see in Christians, but they have authority earth; he makes them. Those that stand round so to do. The Lord himself consented that they the throne in white clothing were gathered from should read him there. the mire. They were once darkness, though they So, Jesus sends a letter to the world sends be now light in the Lord.

many letters—sends a letter to every city, and Let no man think he can go into heaven be- every street, and every house. A merchant who is a disciple of Christ goes to India or China. Old things pass away, and all things become new. He sells manufactured goods; he buys silk and Henceforth the Christian bears about, on his tea, But all the time he is a letter, a living character, the likeness of Christ. epistle, sent by Christ to the heathen. A boy And there is also a kind of burning to make becomes an apprentice in a warehouse or factory; the writing durable. In conversion there is a but before he was bound to a master on earth sort of furnace through which the new-born pass. he has been redeemed by a Master in heaven. We must take up our cross when we follow He is now, therefore, a letter from the Lord to Christ. We must part with all that crucifies the all his shopmates. In his truth, and love, and Lord, although it were dear as a right arm or a gentleness, and fairness, and generosity, they right eye. Through such fire and water the should learn the mind of Christ. I confess that Spirit leads us; but he brings us into a wealthy this thought is fitted to make us afraid. How place. It is gladsome, as well as safe, to pass shall we fulfil such a function? The solution is from death unto life in conversion ; but there is -it is the Lord's own method. He has chosen something to be stripped off, and something to earthen vessels in order that the glory may be be put on, in the passage,



will never to God.


In the wide-spread religious activity of the III. The writer.—This letter is written by the day some marks are made on the people,—not Spirit of the living God. Some writings and made by the Spirit of God. A cry; a swoon; a paintings look well for a while, but are easily fear of wrath; an imagination of the judgmentrubbed off by rough usage, or grow faint with seat; a gift of prayer; a profession of faith,—may age. Only fast colours are truly valuable. Hu- be shown by the event to have been only marks man art has found the means of making them on the surface made by some passing fear, lasting. The flowers and figures painted upon or nervous sympathy. The writing made by the porcelain, for example, are burned in, and there- Spirit does not go out again. This baptism is a fore cannot be blotted out. As long as the vessel | baptism of fire as well as of water-it not only lasts the painting remains bright.

washes off the old ; it also burns in the new. How shall we get a writing or a likeness made durable in a human heart? One thing we know, IV. The pen.-In writing the new name and —many features which people admire are blotted new nature on the tables of the heart, the Holy out in the wear and tear of life. Lessons which Spirit employs an instrument. It is expressly human hands lay on are not able to stand the said in the text that Paul and the younger evanrough usage of the world. The education which gelists who assisted him had a hand in the work. can be obtained at schools is not sufficient. Its The terms “ministered by us" point to the presfair characters may soon be stained by evil ence of man in the work of conversion and sancpassions from within, or scratched by cruel treat- tifying. It is not a high place that the human ment from without. We cannot make the writ- ministry occupies; but it is the right place, and ing deep enough on those mysterious tablets. We it cannot be wanted. cannot warrant the colouring.

In photography it is the sun that makes the No writing on a human spirit is certainly dur- portrait. There is no drawing of the outline by able, except that which the Spirit of God lays on. a human hand; and no shading of the figure by The process is in one aspect like writing; but in the rules of the painter's art.

The person stands another it seems rather a species of printing. The up in the light; and the light lays his image on meaning is in the Scriptures set up like types— the glass. Yet even in this there is room and once for all. Then the Scriptures are impressed need for the ministry of man. Without the on the heart, as the types are applied to the page. ministry of man, the work could not in any case It is when divine truth, taken off the divine Re- be accomplished. A human hand prepares the deemer, is pressed on the human heart by the plate, and adjusts the lens. Although in the real Spirit of God, that one becomes a new creature. work of making the picture the artist has no part

broken ones.


at all—although he has nothing more to do in the have a wide range—“Known and read of all end than stand still, like Israel at the Red Sea, men.” The writing is not sealed, or locked up and see the work done by the sun-bis place is in a desk, but exposed daily, and all the day, to still important and necessary.

public view. These living epistles walk about A similar place is assigned to the ministry of upon the streets, and mingle with the crowds in men in the work of the Spirit. God does not the market-place. Every one may read them at send angels to preach. We learn the gospel will. Some who look on the letters are enemies, from men of flesh and blood like ourselves. and some are friends. If an alien see Christ Cornelius and his house will be saved; but for truly and clearly represented in a Christian, he that end Peter must go from Joppa to Cæsarea, may thereby be turned from darkness to light; and there declare the way of life. The Ethiopian but if he see falsehood, and anger, and selfishtreasurer will find the Saviour whom he seeks ; ness, and worldliness in one who is called a but not until Philip is sent from Samaria, a Christian, he will probably be more hardened in skilful evangelist to guide the earnest but ignorant his unbelief. Those who already know and love African. It is thus that the Lord employs the truth are glad when they read it clearly parents, teachers, pastors, at the present day, as written in a neighbour's life; are grieved when instruments to break hard hearts and bind up they see a false image of the Lord held up


eyes of men. This is the most interesting and honourable Here, however, in justice, I ought to say that employment in which any human being can be many readers fail to see the meaning of the engaged. Whether he be a ministering child or plainest letters. None so blind as those who a ministering man, the agent who stands between will not see. the living and the dead —a channel through Every one's life is an open letter. Every man, which the light of life may run-occupies the whether he is a Christian or not, is written and most honourable place and discharges the greatest is read. Some are epistles of Christ; some are function competent to any creature. Here above epistles of vanity ; some are epistles of covetousme is the depending extremity of the wire whose ness; some are epistles of selfishness; some are upper end is dipped in heaven-dipped there in epistles of the wicked one. The main features everlasting love — dipped in God, who is love ; of the father of lies are written largely on the and here beneath me, within reach, is a brother life of some of his followers. The spirit that " dead in trespasses and sins.” I grasp with reigns within is more or less visible in the outone hand the conducting rod, and with the other ward conduct. In some countries the master's the cold, stiff hand of my brother; then, not name is branded in the flesh of his slave, so from me, but through me, the light of life flows that, if the slave should run away, every one from its eternal fountain into the empty soul. should know to whom he belonged. The capHere is an example of the first resurrection. tive may, indeed, be bought with a price ; and The living is now an epistle of Christ, written in then he receives the mark of his new master. deed by the Spirit, but yet“ ministered by us.” Thus, whether we like it or not, people may read

Printing nowadays is done by machines in our lives, with a considerable degree of accuwhich work with a strength and regularity and racy, whose we are, and whom we serve. The silence that is enough to strike an onlooker with surest way to appear a Christian, in all places, dismay. Yet even there a watchful human eye and at all times, is to be one.

The surest way and alert human hand is needed to introduce the to make people, when you go out, take knowpaper into the proper place. Agents are needed, ledge that you have been with Jesus, is really to Eten under the glorious ministry of the Spirit- be with Jesus. needed to watch for souls.

Considering how defective most readers are,

either in will or skill, or both, the living epistles V. The readers.—They are a great number, should be written in characters both large and and of various kinds. The terms of the text | fair. Some manuscripts, though they contain at

« PredošláPokračovať »