Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

AND now another New Year and we ourselves, as will be seen, are making some pretensions to newness-our many years work, not cut down, but enlarged. Will not the Readers whose regard we value-for whose future as well as present years we endeavour to work, wish us God speed? We should like to think that it is so; for surely it is very pleasant to be cheered on by friendly wishes. As usual, we find the greatest difficulty in selecting which of the varying Lessons of the richly-laden year we shall select for our special reference—for, as to the Lessons themselves ever failing us we have no apprehensions. No New Year, we are sure, will come, to us or ours, without bringing some particular call for thought—some visitation, afflictive or joyous, to kindle gratitude.

At the present moment, may we touch upon one point in our national prospect as of pre-eminent interest now. It is said that our beloved and honoured Queen, who knows what Duty is, and who never we believe would wilfully shrink from it, is coming amongst us again in her visible public presence-marking her sense of the importance of a newly-chosen Parliament; encouraging the living members of her Council to fulfil the duties which no longer belong to those whose earthly work is completed teaching all her subjects, from the least to the greatest, that personal sorrow may be best sanctified by walking in the good old ways marked out through ages past for the Christian Rulers of this nation.

We trust that all, young and old, will bless her for the effort, and feel their love and loyalty strengthened. It cannot be said, and no one knows this better than she does, that the people over whom she rules, have been slow to sympathize, nay to share the grief which befell her. They look back through the years which have passed, to the animating memory of Albert the Good. If they are themselves grown up, their hearts' desire is that their children should look to him as a very bright specimen of human excellence; and partly because of this, they are VOL. 1.

1

PART 1.

thankful that she who brought him to this land is ready to take up his career and work out his mission. More than this it might be presumption to add in this place; but less we could not say in re-commencing our pleasant yet sometimes anxious labours.

And now with regard to our vocation. Without wishing to usurp the functions of critics, often very ably filled in the present day, perhaps our enlarged space may permit us occasionally to indulge in more extended remarks on particular Books than hitherto we have been able to do. It is not always for the sake of the Book itself—not always because we want to recommend or deter, that we would speak—but sometimes from a deeply-felt conviction of the lesson to be derived from a Life. At the present moment we rise from a survey of the lengthened years of a woman, well known, and much beloved, as indeed we think she deserved to be.

The Journals of Miss Berry, if we have patience to look fairly through th contain very much to interest and instruct. She seems to us to have formed a wrong estimate of life, and what might have been its work, at a comparatively early period; because she was disappointed in her dream of love and marriage, she settled it with herself that there was nothing left for her in life but to be an agreeable woman of the world; and we trace the lowering effect of such a notion, of course, through every part of her career. To be agreeable being her business, she compassed it indeed most thoroughly; and it is only common candour to observe, as we repeatedly do in reading her journals, how very steadily she guarded herself against all those sacrifices of truth and sincerity, which the world is too apt to exact of its votaries. Throughout, it may be said that Miss Berry shows an anxious desire to preserve the moral part of her nature as free from blemish as possible.

She was affectionate, prudent, sincere, ready to do everyone a kindness; and we should suppose, judging by the love she inspired, that her temper was either naturally sweet, or well taken care of in all critical emergencies.

But what one looks for in vain is any record of employment tending directly to the good of others. She certainly was not particularly happy in her own mind, and we cannot help thinking that she was too good to be contented and at ease with not being better.

It was impossible she could feel satisfied with an unfixed pleasureseeking life like hers. No one would have expected the part of a Goody from such a woman as she was. A taste for exciting society, an acquaintance with courts and courtiers, a familiar knowledge of the course of political events, great experience in travel, large knowledge of buman nature-all these filled up her time; and if time is not consecrated to any active religious or social duty, thought will flag too, and become hard to drag into the deeper channels of human interests.

Then, at last, and by very slow and measured approaches, came an old age, honoured, beloved, and carefully guarded against all that might shorten its course, or make that course ‘labour and sorrow.' Miss Berry met its approaches somewhat timidly, still perhaps complacently, looking, as her friends helped her to look, on the sources of satisfaction that remained—by no means leaving the great hereafter out of the account, for she recurs it continually; and there can be no reasonable doubt that her communion with God, through the great Mediator and Sacrifice for sin, was earnest and devout—but there is even then, perhaps more than ever, a sense of loss, a dullness where we most want vivacity-and this it is surely not unkind to trace to the want of a memory peopled, as the minds of so many noble men and women have been, with intercourses and employments dictated especially by Christian impulse. It was a difficult life, who can doubt it? The one thing needful, subordinated long, never came quite uppermost—and so we think it must ever be, unless the springs of Christian love are early guarded, and are made to flow over in habitual streams of good.

How hard it is to say such things when an amiable, in many respects an exemplary, life is ended—especially when the lesson of mortality is sounding so continually in our ears, and when we feel our own shortcomings too strongly to dwell much on those of others! And yet, as here we stand on the narrow plank, uniting the Old and the New Year, is it possible to help dwelling on the records of such lives passed away from before us? Must we not read them for ourselves and others too? And if there be one lesson more than another which is needed for those who may be considered as highly-favoured among the young, it is that of trying to make their best things better-not to let the theatre on which they move, as bas been well said, be surrounded with mirrors of felf-repetition,'—not to take their estimate of themselves from kind friends, indulgent lookers-on, but to cherish deep in their hearts, and give themselves time for imitation of, the noblest forms of Christian excellence-above all, 'to feed their thirst for the highest wisdom by trustful and reverent resort to Him, in Whom sanctity and sorrow, the Divine and the human, mingled in ineffable combination.'

T.

PRACTICAL READINGS ON THE

APOSTLES' CREED.

ARTICLE IV.

SUFFERED UNDER PONTIUS PILATE; WAS CRUCIFIED, DEAD, AND BURIED.'

DEAD.

In this part of the Article every Christian is conceived to mean :-I do really and truly assent unto this truth-that the only begotten and eternal Son of God, for the working out of our Redemption, did in our nature, which He took upon Him, really and truly die; soʻas, by the force and violence of those torments which He felt, His soul was actually separated from His body; and although neither His soul nor body was separated from His divinity, yet the body, deprived of His soul, was left really and truly dead. And thus I believe in Jesus Christ, Which was crucified and dead.

It is needful to believe that He who suffered for us really and truly died; because the death of Christ is the most intimate and essential part of the mediatorship, and that which intrinsically concerns every office and function of the Mediator, as He was Prophet, Priest, and King.

First, as Prophet, it was needful that He should die, that the truth of all the doctrine which He delivered might be confirmed by this death. He was the true and faithful Witness, Who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession.' He preached unto us a new and better covenant, which was established on better promises,' and that was to be ratified with His blood; which is therefore called by Christ Himself the Blood of the New Testament, or everlasting covenant. For that covenant was also a testament; and where a testament is there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. Besides, Christ as a Prophet taught us not only by word, but by example: and though every action of His life, Who came to fulfil the Law, be most worthy of our imitation, yet the most eminent example was in His death.

What an example was that of faith in God, 'to lay down His life that He might take it again ;' in the bitterness of His torments to 'commend His spirit into the hands of His Father;' and 'for the joy that was set before Him, to endure the cross and despise the shame.'

What a pattern of patience, meekness, and humility, for the 'Son of man to come, not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many;' to be 'led like a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb dumb before the shearers, not to open His mouth;' to endure the contradiction of sinners against Himself, and to 'humble Himself unto death, even the death of the cross !! What an example of obedience, for the Son of God to learn obedience by the things that He suffered,' and to become obedient even unto death! What a pattern of charity, to ‘die for us while we were yet sinners;' to pray upon the Cross for them that crucified Him, and to plead for such as barbarously slew Him, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do! Thus did Christ suffer for us, leaving us an example that we should follow His steps,' that as 'He suffered for us in the flesh,' we should 'arm ourselves likewise with the same mind.'

It was necessary also, that Christ should die, that by His death He might perform the priestly office. For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God; that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.' But Christ had no other sacrifice to offer for our sins than Himself. “For it was not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins :' therefore said He, 'Lo, I come to do Thy Will, O God.' And because the sacrifices of old were to

6

be slain, and generally without shedding of blood there is no remission ;' therefore, if He will offer sacrifice for sin, He must of necessity die, and 80 'make His soul an offering for sin.' If Christ be our Passover, He must be sacrificed for us. We were sold under sin, and He Who will redeem us must give His life for our redemption; and thus we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.'

Thus the death of Christ was necessary as the oblation, propitiation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world ; and also, to assure us of the efficacy of that satisfaction; as it is written, concerning the sacrifices under the Law, “How much more shall the Blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse our conscience from dead works? Further, it assures us of the happiness flowing from it; for 'He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things ?' Upon this assurance, founded on His death, we have 'boldness to enter into the Holiest, by the Blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh.'

Again, there was another reason, in reference to His priestly office, why Christ should die. 'For in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren : that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest; and having suffered, being tempted, might be able to succour them that are tempted.' So that, passing through all the previous torments, and at last through the pains of death itself; having suffered all that man can suffer, He became, through His own experience, most sensible of our infirmities, most compassionate of our miseries, most willing and ready to support us under, and to deliver us out of, our temptations.

Lastly, there was a necessity that Christ should die, in reference to His regal office. It was not a vain thing that Pilate suddenly wroteand resolutely maintained what he had written—This is the King of the Jews.' That title on the Cross signified no less than that His regal power was active even then; for having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it; and through His death destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.' Thus did the Spirit of Christ in the prophets of old 'testify beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. * 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.' · For this end Christ both died and rose and revived; that He might be the Lord of the dead and living.'

'And can it be that I should gain

An interest in the Saviour's blood ?
Died He for me, who caused His pain ?

For me, who Him to death pursued ?
Amazing love! how can it be,
That Thou, my Lord, shouldst die for me !

6

6

« PredošláPokračovať »