FRAGRANT SPICES FROM THE MOUNTAINS OF MYRRH.
THE SECOND BUNDLE.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
“Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” Solomon’s Song 4:7.
We return to the delightful topic with which we opened last month’s number of our Magazine. Our Lord’s admiration is sweetened by love. He addresses the spouse as “My love.” The virgins called her “the - fairest among women;” they saw and admired, but it was reserved for her Lord to love her. Who can fully tell the excellence of his love? O how his heart goeth forth after his redeemed! As for the love of David and Jonathan, it is far exceeded in Christ. No tender husband was ever so fond as he. No figures can completely set his heart’s affection forth, for it surpasses all the love that man or woman hath heard or thought of.
Our blessed Lord, himself, when he would declare the greatness of it, was compelled to compare one inconceivable thing with another, in order to express his own thoughts. “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you.” (John 15: 9.)
All the eternity, fervency, immutability, and infinity which are to be found in the love of Jehovah the Father, towards Jehovah-Jesus the Son, are copied to the letter in the love of the Lord Jesus towards his chosen ones. Before the foundation of the world he loved his people, in all their wanderings he loved them, and “unto the end he will abide in his love.” (John 13: 1.)
He has given them the best proof Of his affection, in that he gave himself to die for their sins, and hath revealed to them complete pardon as the result of his death. The willing manner of his death is further confirmation of his boundless love. How did Christ delight in the work of our redemption! “Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is Written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God.” (Psalm 11:7,8.)
When he came into the world to sacrifice his life for us, it was a freewill offering “I have a baptism to be baptized with.” (Luke 12;50.)
Christ was to be, as it were, baptized in his own blood, and how did he thirst for that time! “How am I straitened till it be accomplished.” There was no hesitation, no desire to be quit of his engagement, lie went to his crucifixion without once halting by the way to deliberate whether he should complete his sacrifice. The stupendous mass of our fearful debt he paid at once, asking neither delay nor diminution. From the moment when he said, “Not my will, but thine, be done,” (Luke 22: 42,) his course was swift and unswerving; as if he had been hastening to a crown rather than to a cross. The fullness of time was his only remembrancer; he was not driven by bailiffs to discharge the obligations of his Church, but joyously even when full of sorrow, he met the law, answered its demands, and cried, “It is finished.”
How hard it is to talk of love so as to convey our meaning with it! How often have our eyes been full of tears when we have realized the thought that Jesus loves us! How has our spirit been melted within us at the assurance that he thinks of us and bears us on his heart! But we cannot kindle the like emotion in others, nor can we give, by word of mouth, so much as a faint idea of the bliss which coucheth in that exclamation, “O how he loves!” Come, reader, canst thou say of thyself, “He loved me?” (Galatians 2:20.) Then look down into this sea of love, and endeavor to guess its depth. Doth it not stagger thy faith, that he should love thee? Or, if thou hast strong confidence, say, does it not enfold thy spirit in a flame of admiring and adoring gratitude? O ye angels! such love as this ye never knew. Jesus doth not bear your names upon his hands, or call you his bride. No! this highest fellowship he reserves for worms whose only return is tearful, hearty thanksgiving and love. Let us note that Christ delights to think upon his Church, and to look upon her beauty. As the bird returneth often to its nest, and as the wayfarer hastens to his home, so doth the mind continually pursue the object of its choice. We cannot look too often upon that face which we love; we desire always to have our precious things in our sight. It is even so with our Lord Jesus. From all eternity “his delights were with the sons of men;” his thoughts rolled onward to the time when his elect should be born into the world; he viewed them in the mirror of his fore-knowledge. “In thy book he says all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:16.)
When the world was set upon its pillars, he was there, and he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. Many a time before his incarnation, he descended to this lower earth in the similitude of a man; on the plains of Mamre, (Genesis 18) by the brook of Jabbok, (Genesis 32:24 — 30,) beneath the walls of Jericho, (Joshua 5:13,) and in the fiery furnace of Babylon, (Daniel in. 19-25,) the Son of man did visit his people.
Because his soul delighted in them, he could not rest away from them, for his heart longed after them. Never were they absent from his heart, for he had written their names upon his hands, and graven them upon his side. As the breast-plate containing the names of the tribes of Israel was the most brilliant ornament worn by the high priest, so the names of Christ’s elect were his most precious jewels, which he ever hung nearest his heart. We may often forget to meditate upon the perfections of our Lord, but He never ceases to remember us. He cares not one half so much for any of his most glorious works, as he does for his children. Although his eye seeth everything that hath beauty and excellency in it, he never fixes his gaze anywhere with that admiration and delight, which he spends upon his purchased ones. He charges his angels concerning them, and calls upon those holy beings to rejoice with him over his lost sheep. (Luke 15:4-7.) He talked of them to himself, and even on the tree of doom he did not cease to soliloquize concerning them. “That day acute of ignominious woe, Was, notwithstanding, in a perfect sense, The day of his heart’s gladness, for the joy That his redeem’d should be brought home at last, (Made ready as in robes of bridal white,) Was set before him vividly, — he look’d; — And for that happiness anticipate, Endurance of all torture, all disgrace, Seem’d light infliction to his heart of love.”(Meditations.) Like a fond mother, Christ Jesus, our thrice-blessed Lord, sees every dawning of excellence, and every bud of goodness in us, making much of our littlest, and rejoicing over the beginnings of our graces. As he is to be our endless song, so we are his perpetual prayer. When he is absent he thinks of us, and in the black darkness he has a window through which he looks upon us. When the sun sets in one part of the earth, he rises in another place beyond our visible horizon; and even so Jesus, our Sun of Righteousness, is only pouring light upon his people in a different way, when to our apprehension he seems to have set in darkness. His eye is ever upon the congregation of the righteous. “I the Lord do keep it; I Will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day?’ (Isaiah 27:3.)
He will not trust to his angels to do it, for it is his delight to do all with his own hands. Zion is in the center of his heart, and he cannot forget, for every day his thoughts are set upon her. When the bride by her neglect of him hath hidden herself from his sight, he cannot be quiet until again he looks upon her. He calls her forth with the most wooing words, “O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.” (Song of Solomon 2:14.)
She thinks herself unmeet to have company with such a prince, but he entices her from her lurking place, and inasmuch as she comes forth trembling, and bashfully hides her face with her veil, he bids her uncover her face and let her husband gaze upon her. She is ashamed to do so, for she is black in her own esteem, and therefore he urges that she is comely to him, Nor is he content with looking, he must feed his ears as well as his eyes, and therefore he commends her speech and intreats her to let him hear her voice. See how truly our Lord rejoiceth in us. Is not this unparalleled love! We have heard of princes who have been smitten by the beauty of a peasant’s daughter, but what of that?
Here is the Son of God doting upon a worm, looking with eyes of admiration upon a poor child of Adam, and listening with joy to the lispings of poor flesh and blood. Ought we not to be exceedingly charmed by such matchless condescension? And should not our hearts as much delight in him, as he doth in us? O surprising truth! Christ Jesus rejoices over his poor, tempted, tried, and erring people. It is not to be forgotten that sometimes the Lord Jesus tells his people his love thoughts. “He does not think it enough behind her back to tell it, but in her very presence, he says, ‘Thou art all fair my love.’ It is true, this is not his ordinary method; he is a wise lover, that knows when to keep back the intimation of love and when to let it out; but there are times when he will make no secret of it; times when he will put it beyond all dispute in the souls of his people.” (R. Erskine’s Sermons) The Holy Spirit is often pleased in a most gracious manner, to witness with our spirits of the love of Jesus. He takes of the things of Christ and reveals them unto us. No voice is heard from the clouds and no vision is seen in the night, but we have a testimony more sure than either of these. If an angel should fly from heaven and inform the saint personally of the Savior’s love to him, the evidence would not be one whir more satisfactory than that which is born in the heart by the Holy Ghost. Ask those of the Lord’s people who have lived the nearest to the gates of heaven, and they will tell you that they have had seasons when the love of Christ towards them has been a fact so clear and sure, that they could no more doubt it than they could question their own existence. Yes, beloved believer, you and I have had times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and then our faith has mounted to the topmost heights of assurance. We have had confidence to lean our heads upon the bosom of our Lord, and we have had no more question about our Master’s affection than John had when in that blessed posture, nay, nor so much; for the dark question, “Lord is it I that shall betray thee,” has been put far from us. He has kissed us with the kisses of his love, and killed our doubts by the closeness of his embrace. His love has been sweeter than wine to our souls. We felt that we could sing, “His left hand is under my head and his right hand doth embrace me.” (Song of Solomon 8:3.)
Then all earthly troubles were light as the chaff of the threshing-floor, and the pleasures of the world as tasteless as the white of an egg. We would have welcomed death as the messenger who would introduce us to our Lord to whom we were in haste to be gone; for his love had stirred us to desire more of him, even his immediate and glorious presence. I have sometimes, when the Lord has assured me of his love, felt as if I could, not contain more joy and delight. My eyes ran down with tears of gratitude. 1 fell upon my knees to bless him, but rose again in haste, feeling as if I had nothing more to ask for, but must stand up and praise him; then have I lifted my hands to heaven longing to fill my arms with him; panting to talk with him, as a man talketh with his friend, and to see him in his own person, that I might tell him how happy he had made his unworthy servant, and might fall on my face and kiss his feet in unutterable thankfulness and love. Such a banquet have I had upon one word of my beloved — “thou art mine,” that I wished like Peter to build tabernacles in that mount and dwell for ever. But alas, we who are young saints, have not yet learned how to preserve such assurance. We stir up our beloved and awake him, and then he leaves our unquiet chamber, and we grope after him in the night and make many a weary journey after him. If we were wiser and more careful, we might preserve the fragrance of Christ’s words far longer; for they are not like the ordinary manna which soon rotted, but are comparable to that omer of it which was put in the golden pot and preserved for many generations. The sweet Lord Jesus has been known to write his lovethoughts on the hearts of his people in so clear and deep a manner, that they have for months and even years enjoyed an abiding sense of his affection. A few doubts have flitted across their minds like thin clouds before a summer’s sun, but the warmth of their assurance has remained the same for many a gladsome day. Their path has been a smooth one, they have fed in the green pastures beside the still waters, for his rod and staff have comforted them, and his right hand hath led them. I am inclined to think, that there is more of this in the Church than some men would allow. We have a goodly number who dwell upon the hills, and behold the light of the sun. There are giants in these days, though the times are not such as to allow them room to display their gigantic strength; in many a humble cot, in many a crowded workshop, in many a village manse there are to be found men of the house of David, men after God’s own heart, anointed with the holy oil. It is, however, a mournful truth, that whole ranks in the army of our Lord are composed of dwarfish Little faiths. The men of fearful mind, and desponding heart are everywhere to be seen. Why is this? Is it the Master’s fault, or ours? Surely he cannot be blamed.
Is it not then a matter of inquiry in our own souls. Can I not grow stronger?
Must I be a mourner all my days? How can I get rid of my doubts? The answer must be: yes, you can be comforted, but only the mouth of the Lord can do it, for anything less than this will be unsatisfactory. I doubt not, that there are means, by the use of which, those who are now weak and trembling, may attain unto boldness in faith and confidence in hope; but I see not how this can be done unless the Lord Jesus Christ manifest his love to them, and tell them of their union to him. This he will do, if we seek it of him. The importunate pleader shall not lack his reward. Haste thee to him, O timid one, and tell him that nothing will content thee, but a smile from his own face, and a word from his own lip. Speak to him and say, “O, my Lord Jesus, I cannot rest unless I know that thou lovest me. I desire to have proof of thy love under thine own hand and seal. I cannot live upon guesses and surmises; nothing but certainty will satisfy my trembling heart. Lord, look upon me, if, indeed, thou lovest me, and though I be less than the least of all saints, say unto my soul, ‘ I am thy salvation.’“ When this prayer is heard, the castle of despair must totter, there is not one stone of it which can remain upon another, if Christ whispers forth his love. Even Despondency and Much-afraid will dance, and Ready-to-Halt leap upon his crutches.
O, for more of these Bethel visits, more frequent visitations from the God of Israel! O, how sweet to hear him say to us, as he did to Abraham, “Fear not Abram, I am thy shield, thine exceeding great reward.” (Genesis 15:1.)
To be addressed as Daniel was of old, “Oh man, grealy beloved,” (Daniel 10:19.) is worth a thousand ages of this world’s joy. What more can a creature want this side of heaven to make him peaceful and happy than a plain avowal of love from his Lord’s own lips. Let me ever hear thee speak in mercy to my soul, and O, my Lord, I ask no more while here I dwell in the land of my pilgrimage. Brethren, let us labor to obtain a confident assurance of the Lord’s delight in us, for this, as it enables him to commune with us, will be one of the readiest ways to produce a like feeling in our heart’s towards him. Christ is well-pleased with us; let us approach him with holy familiarity; let us unbosom our thoughts to him, for his delight in us will secure us an audience. The child may stay away from the father, when he is conscious that he has aroused his father’s displeasure, but why should we keep at a distance, when Christ Jesus is smiling upon us. No! since his smiles attract us, let us enter into his courts, and touch his golden scepter. O, Holy Spirit, help us to live in happy fellowship with him whose soul is knit unto us. “O Jesus! let eternal blessings dwell On thy transporting name. *** Let me be wholly thine from this blest hour.
Let thy lov’d image be for ever present; Of thee be all my thoughts, and let my tongue Be sanctified with the celestial theme.
Dwell on my lips, thou dearest, sweetest name!
Dwell on my lips, ‘till the last parting breath!
Then let me die, and bear the charming sound In triumph to the skies In other strains, In language ,-dl divine, I’ll praise thee then; While all the Godhead opens in the view Of a redeemer’s love. Here let me gaze, For ever gaze; the bright variety Will endless joy and admiration yield.
Let me be wholly thine from this blest hour.
Fly from my soul all images of sense, Leave me in silence to possess my Lord:
My life, my pleasures, flow from him alone, My strength, my great salvation, and my hope.
Thy name is all my trust; O name divine!
Be thou engraven on my inmost soul, And let me own thee with my latest breath, Confess thee in the face of ev’ry horror, That threat’ning death or envious hell can raise; Till all their strength subdu’d, my parting soul Shall give a challenge to infernal rage, And sing salvation to the Lamb for ever.”
THIS huge round earth is sustained in its orbit without prop or pillar, by the unseen power of the Almighty God. Turning round upon its own axis with marvelous regularity, and moving through space with inconceivable rapidity, it performs all its movements without band or wheel; the hand which causes its revolutions is not to be discerned by mortal eye.
Everywhere in the great, and in the little, the same rule holds good, the Mighty Worker is himself unseen, yet manifest and majestic is his presence.
We are not to see nor to expect to see the Divine hand with human senses, but faith discerns it, and admires its doings.
It were well if anxious inquirers could be brought to remember this, for they too often look for signs and wonders, and cannot be persuaded of the power of divine grace unless they see or hear some strange thing. Now the facts of salvation are these: God hath accepted Christ Jesus his own dear and only Son, in his living and dying righteousness as the substitute for his chosen people; as their substitute, Christ has finished all that the divine law required, and so saved his people, and the Lord has revealed to us in his Word that those who believe in his Son Jesus Christ are the objects of his choice and heirs of all the boons purchased by the Savior’s blood. The one question is, Have I faith? Can I trust Jesus? Can I give up seeing my own works and prayers, and believe that Jesus’ blood and righteousness can save me? Do I now rest upon an unseen Redeemer, and whether I feel better, or do not feel better, whether I see an improvement in myself or do not see a single hopeful sign, do I heartily and entirely rely upon the work of God’s appointed and accepted Savior?
The world is safe though it hangs upon nothing but God’s word, and equally secure will that soul be which can dare to have done with feeling and doing, and can lay hold on the unseen energy of God’s love, working through the cross of Christ. The clouds fall not, though no great chains uphold them; and the firmament does not crack, though its arch is without a pillar. It is a mighty secret, to live upon God alone. Friend, I pray the Lord teach it to thee this day at Calvary’s foot, for his own name’s sake.
THE ax carried before the Roman consuls was always bound up in a bundle of rods. An old author tells us, that “The rods were tied up with knotted cords, and that when an offender was condemned to be punished, the executioner would untie the knots one by one, and meanwhile, the magistrate would look the culprit in the face to observe any signs of repentance, and watch his words to see if he could find a motive for mercy; and thus justice went to its work deliberately and without passion.” The ax was enclosed in rods to shew that the extreme penalty was never inflicted till milder means had failed; first the rod, and the ax only as a terrible necessity.
Reader, if you are unconverted, I beg you look at the symbol and learn a lesson. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion towards you. He has waited lo these years, untying the knots very slowly, and seeing whether you will, by his longsuffering, be led to repentance. Hither too, few and feeble have been any tokens for good in you. Beware! for mercy tarries not for ever, and justice will not long delay. The rods you have already felt.
Those burials of dear ones were all rods to you. That fever, that broken arm, that loss in business, — all these put together have been warnings to you, which you cannot despise without committing great sin. Many have been brought to God by afflictions, but you perhaps have been rather hardened than otherwise. See to it sinner, for when the rods have had their turn, the ax must come in for its work. Its edge is sharp, and its blow is terrible. He who wields it will cut through soul and body, and none can escape from his wrath. You have found the rod to be very dreadful, but what will the ax be. Hell is not to be thought of without trembling, but it will soon be your eternal dwelling-place unless you repent. Can you endure its endless torments? Trembler, there is hope! Jesus died. Jesus lives. Trust in him who stood in the sinner’s place and you are saved. O, may the Holy Ghost now, while you read this little tract, lead you to Jesus and to safety, for time flies like the weaver’s shuttle, and the thread of life is soon snapped. “To day if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts.”
ANOTHER WEEK’S TRAVEL AND ANOTHER THEME LUGANO, VERONA, VENICE.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
HAVING before us the two grand volumes by the Divine Author, we are prepared. To estimate the claims of a third, which professes to be equally of celestial origin, viz, the Church of Rome, which boasts of an infallible head. On this occasion we shall not so much enter into a consideration of her doctrines; this is most fitting work for the student, and we have just now laid that character aside; it is ours to view her outward manifestations which thrust themselves in the way of the traveler. Her churches and altars, her shrines and ceremonies, her priests and processions, are her teaching to the masses, her living epistle, her image and superscription; by them she ensnares the minds of the many, they are the locks of her strength, and the boast of her pride; we shall not do amiss nor be guilty of unfairness, if we compare their style and manner with that divine peculiarity which we have seen to be so manifestly conspicuous both in Creation and in the Word.
The inquiry is a narrow, but an interesting one. Would the outer array of Popish worship strike the candid observer as being in accordance with the spirit of the New Testament? Does the ceremonialism of Rome accord with the taste which would be born and nurtured amidst the beauties and wonders of nature? In our judgment, the answer must be decidedly and altogether in the negative. We may be warped in our taste by the prejudices of education and the convictions of belief; but we have not been intentionally unfair; while considering this subject, we have tried honestly to distill the pure essence of the outward mode of Romanism, and while extenuating nothing, nor putting, down ought in malice cur conviction is that her mode of worship and display are as opposite to the genus of nature and the style of revelation, as the flaunting finery of a harlot to the modest apparel of a virtuous woman. Popery was intended by its infernal author to be a remarkably clever counterfeit of divine workmanship, and his subtle hand has crazily imitated the celestial style; but the imposture is soon detected by the observant eye, for the soul and spirit of the sacred artist are altogether absent. Cathedral domes may emulate the skies, pillars of marble may vie with towering cedars, mosaics of gold may glitter as. the stars, and smoking, incense, may image the clouds of heaven, but imitation is upon the face of all, and this is fatal to the claim to be the production of Him whose works are all masterpieces and all originals. Comparisons are always as obvious as they are numerous when counterfeits are in question, but as our business is detection, we shall point out contrasts, which in this case, if not abundant, are singularly striking.
In the great temple of nature the person of the great Worker is unrevealed.
God is everywhere, on the tossing sea, and in the silent wilderness, but everywhere as a God who hideth himself. Walking through nature we hear the voice of the Most High, and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory, but contemplation whispers to us, “Ye saw no similitude.” The invisible God is neither imaged to us in colossal statuary by the ancient mountains, nor in glowing tableaux by the starry skies. The whole earth bears witness that “Clouds and darkness are round about him,” and from every hill and valley comes the question, “Who is like unto the Lord our God who dwelleth on high?” In Holy Scripture, we find an express command against the attempt to set forth Jehovah by outward symbol. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. of them that hate me.” (Exodus 20:4,6.)
Moses was very earnest upon this point; he solemnly exhorted the people, “Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any b-east that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, the likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye for et the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee. For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a Jealous God When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt your- selves, and made a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the Lord thy God, to provoke him to anger: I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto e go over Jordan to possess it ye shall not prolong your days upon it. but shall be utterly destroyed. And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you. And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.” (Deuteronomy 4:15-28.)
In the New Testament, which is the bringing to light of things unseen by kings and prophets, there is no violation of the great principle. Its teaching is explicit and clear when it reminds us that “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24.)
God was manifest in the flesh, but Godhead was not set forth or represented to us by the body of Christ Jesus, for so far as he was visible to human senses he was man; his own lips taught us this when he said, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” (Luke 24:39,) It is true that the descent of the Holy Spirit was represented by a dove, by tongues of fire, and rushing mighty wind, but these, like the golden candlestick, the anointing oil and various other symbols of the Old Testament, did not portray the divine person of the Holy Spirit, but were merely manifestations of his works and operations. In creation, dashing billows and steadfast rocks are manifestations of divine working, and just such were the descending dove and the flames of fire, but the person of Deity is never manifest, nor attempted to be revealed in Nature or in the Bible. Especially is Holy Writ explicit concerning that infinitely blessed One who is revealed to us as the Father. Our Lord said, “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.” (John 6:46.)
The beloved apostle, to whom was given the visions of Parins, yet assures us that “No man hath seen God at any time.” (1 John 4:12). Paul is not less indignant than Moses at the sin of worshipping God under a similitude, for he denounces those who, “professing themselves to be wise they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” (Romans 1:22,23.)
Thus both the visible universe, and the Old and New-Testament, declare the Lord to be “the invisible God.” In direct opposition to all this, the Church of Rome multiplies pictures in which the eternal and most high God is set forth as an Red and venerable man. We have shuddered at the sight as we have this week continually seen the Divine Trinity imaged as the Redeemer, a dove, and an old man; associated often with an equilateral triangle and the Virgin Mary. Some of the most famous paintings by eminent masters are thus profane; and it is a proof of the horrible iniquity of the Church of Rome that, instead of suffering these impieties to rot in the studios where they were produced, she hangs them up in her Churches, values them as priceless treasures, and allows her rotaries to bow before them. On the door of the Church of St. Zeno, at Verona, are reliefs remarkable for their age, but detestable for their profanity; for Hs before whom angels veil their faces with their wings, is there imaged in bronze as a very ugly man drawing Eve out of Adam’s side. In St. Maria Formosa, at Venice, there are on the dome and above the altar, two portraits of elderly gentlemen, both intended for the Eternal Father. In St. Georgio Maggiore, is the same divine person caricatured as a man with a grey beard, dressed in red, and wearing a black cloak. Instances are unhappily too abundant, and the subject appears to be a favorite one for artists; and they seem as free and easy in the blasphemous work of portraying the great God, whose very name is to be had in honor, as a signpost dauber in sketching the Marquis of Granby or a Red Lion. From the mention of the horrible idolatry of Rome, the mind of the believer turns with disgust and trembling to seek the aid of the Holy Ghost, that it may recover from the impuritv engendered by the sight of such iniquity. O God of heaven and earth! scatter those who are seeking to restore Antichrist in our land, and to bring back the superstition which provoke thy wrath.
It is further worthy of remark, that neither nature nor revelation set up rival objects for human worship; they both bid us worship God alone. As the grandeur of the mountains and the plenty of the valleys are alike due to the Almighty Lord, so both alike proclaim his praise. Creation has no altars for creature-worship. Heaven and earth are full of thy glory, O God, and they have no vacuum to be filled with the glories of Mary, or the honors of St. Mark! “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy-work ;” there is not so much as a corner left to declare the glory of Domenic or Francis. The Inspired Book is equally monopolizing. It has not a line in which adoration or worship is rightly offered to any but the one Lord. Gabriel cries to Mary, “Hail thou that art highly favored!” but beyond this cheerful congratulation of one, who, like other favored sinners had learned to rejoice in God her Savior, nothing was uttered which can be forced into the service of Mariolaters. In every inspired book the Lord only is exalted, and as clear as the sun at noon-day the truths are that the Lord alone is to be worshipped as the only God, and that Jesus only is to be sought unto as the propitiation for sin and the Mediator with God. How different is Popery. We have seen this week, hundreds of times, big dolls dressed up in tawdry finery, holding smaller dolls in their hands, actually worshipped as the Virgin and Child; we have seen rotaries kiss an ebony, ivory, or tortoiseshell cross, and press their lips to the feet of images supposed to represent the Redeemer. We have been present when thousands bowed before a wafer, and have seen skeletons, old bones, and rotten rags exposed as objects of reverence. The most shameless of all Popish idolatries, practiced everywhere, in the corners of the streets, by the canal side, on the night way, and in churches and chapels innumerable, is the worship of Mary. She sits enthroned as the Papist’s goddess; miracles are professed to be wrought at her shrines; and the many silver hearts which hang before her altars as votive offerings, show how numerous are the admirers of this feminine idol. What would the apostles say to this worship of her to whom the Master said, “Woman, what; have It do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come?” If Mary had created the heavens and the earth, and had redeemed men by her blood, she could not have more reverence and worship paid to her than is given by Papists. To her they impute, all the glories, which we are wont to ascribe to the Son. of God; she is their consolation, joy, and hope; the tower of David, the lily among thorns, the ark of the covenant, the anchor of the soul, the queen of heaven, and a thousand other things; but time would fail us to utter a tithe of the sounding praises with which Mary has the misfortune to dishonored by Popish idolatry. She. is adored as conceived, without, sin and as caught up to heaven, neither of which fables have the slightest scriptural foundation She is pictured as crowned by the Father in heaven, and having the moon under feet, and the stars about her head, in fact there is no limit to the honors lavished upon her. Saints and saintesses without number we observed in our wanderings, many of whom we have not the pleasure of knowing much about; St. Lucy, St. Pantaleon, St. Rocco, St. Bruno, St.
Costoo, and a host of other ladies and gentlemen have chapels and shrines to themselves; and there is one female named St. Katherine, who is infamously represented in the Palace of the Doge, at Venice, as being married to the infant Jesus, who is named in the act of putting the ring upon the finger of his bride. If Rome believes in one God, she openly worships a thousand others with far more visible devotion, Whatever her creed may be, the spirit of her outward performances and displays strikes the beholder at once as polytheistic. If Paul were now at Antwerp, or with us at Lugano, Verona, or Venice, his spirit might be stirred within him as at Athens; for he would see cities wholly given to idolatry. To us, Romanism seems as unlike God’s universe, as it is undoubtedly unlike God’s Word.
We think every candid observer might see that it is so. We are content to leave this question with any man of common sense, and we are mistaken if he can see any resemblance between the glorious unity of homage paid to the great and only wise God by his works and his Word, and the adoration to the many objects of reverence set up by worse than heathen superstition in Popish lands.
Men of understanding tell us, that God’s universe has in it no superfluities, no unnecessary existencies which have no purpose but ostentation. For the tiniest animalculae, as surely as for the eagle and the horse, there is a use and a purpose France was on the verge of famine because her peasants so industry murdered the small birds, that hordes of caterpillars and insects invaded the land, and threatened to devour the crops. When the dodo and dinoris had been exterminated in the islands of the South Sea, men wreaked a horrible revenge upon themselves for outraged nature, by playing the cannibal with one another. The universe wastes nothing upon mere display; it is ever lovely and sublime, but never showy and pretentious. Glorious as is the tempest, it has its end and purpose, and is as much bound to the chariot of utility as the ox to the plough of the husbandman. The thunder is no mere rolling of drums in the march of the God of armies, and the lightening is no vain flashing, of heavens word of state. The tints of flowers cannot be said to be given only to please the eye, but that they may enable the flowers to absorb that part of light which is most useful to them; certainly neither rose nor violet bear any appearance of having been painted for effect, they wear their charms as part and parcel of themselves and not as laid upon them by trick of art. Forms of beauty, varieties of perfume, melodies of sound, and delicacies of taste, have all a purpose above and beyond that which lies upon the surface; at any rate they are not like the gilt in the salon of a cafe, intended simply and only to attract attention. If Judas himself should ask of wisely provident nature, as he saw her seemingly lavish expenditure, “To what purpose is this waste?” she could account for ever- farthing, although her sons have not yet learned to do so for her. The same truth strikes all Bible readers. We have in Sacred Writ no superfluous miracle, no wonder for mere wondering’s sake; no language studied for effect of pompous oratory and the glitter of elocution; no doctrine taught without a practical end and aim. Jesus is ever the Prince of economists, and when his bounty is largest, he commands his disciples to gather up the fragments which remain, that nothing may be lost; he did not create so much as a crust for the purpose of show, there was a needs-be for all. His honored servant, the apostle of the Gentiles, could say to the Corinthians, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5.)
He could truly say “-Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech (2 Corinthians in. 12.) A hundred years ago, a learned lady wrote after traveling in Popish countries: “The glare and foppery and childishness of the ornaments of the Churches are beyond what anything but the testimony of my own eyes could have given me any idea of. The decorations of the altars are much more fit for the toilette of a fine lady, than for a place dedicated to the solemn service of religion. I am quite sick of looking at so much tinsel, and such a variety of colifichets. Most of the images are such mere dolls, that one would think the children would cry for them. Even the high altars are decorated with such a profusion of silly gewgaw finery as one would think better adapted to the amusement of girls and boys, than to inspire sentiments of devotion.” Her words need no alteration as a description of the present state of things. Sitting in a Church at Lugano studying an extraordinary painting, we heard the trampling of feet and the voice of chanting, and putting aside the curtain, two boys entered, heading a procession, and bearing each a lamp containing a candle.
The sun shone brightly, and the tallow burned ignominiously. A short time after, another procession paced the streets, consisting of men and boys, each holding candies, none of which answered any end in the worship of God, and could not tend to glorify him. Within the Churches are artificial flowers, tawdry banners, tinsel decorations, flaming pillars of tallow, etc, etc.; none of which reminded the beholder of the man whose dress was a garment without a seam; and could not suggest a remembrance of the fishermen, and the simplicity of the gospel of Christ, except by way of contrast. Priests in blue, scarlet, yellow, pink, and all the colors of the rainbow, wearing lace, embroidery, and jewels, ministering amid clouds of incense at altars beflowered and bedizened with gewgaws and trickeries, ax far from congruous with the sublime simplicities of nature, or the plain teachings of the Son of Man. Sit down upon the mountain’s side, where blooms sheathery couch for your rest, look beneath upon hillsides clad with forests, and valleys laughing with plenty; look above upon snowy peak and sailing cloud, mark the glorious naturalness to all around you; take out your pocket Testament and read a chapter, note the simple language in which it arrays its profoundest teaching and the unadorned beauty of its spirit, and then, closing your book and leaving the prospect, regard \hat shrine containing a swarthy Mary, or a hideous crucifix, daubed with many colors and decked with. childish ornaments; or if you will, enter yonder Church and note the motley in which the performers are clad, the finery and adornment of the altars, the candles, the censers, the genuflexions, the bell-ringings, the mummeries and the whole performance, and you will never forget the diversity and absolute contrariety of the two spirits which dwell without and within Truth is the atmosphere of God’s world and Word, and falsehood is the element of Popery. Truth wears no paint upon her cheek; she is most adorned when unadorned the most; varnish and tinsel she disdains; her glory is herself, her beauty is her own perfection; she needs no meretricious charms: but Popery, like Jezebel, must paint her face and tire her head, for she is haggard and uncomely, therefore is she well pictured in the Revelation as a woman arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls.
One more thought strikes us. The genius of nature and of the New Testament is the same as to the universal consecration of all places and things. “For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” (1 Corinthians 10:26.)
In creation, everything is hallowed unto the Lord by the loving and sanctified heart. No defile, however dark, is evil; no wilderness, however dismal, is unholy. Everywhere the Shekinah of God’s presence shines upon believing eyes. Our Father’s universe is all holy now that the blood has fallen upon Calvary, and the whole creation waiteth for the result of that redemption in which it has its share. Those things which once were unhallowed and forbidden, are now purified to Christian men; the vision of Peter was not for him alone; four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air, are now no more unclean, for a voice speaks to us out of heaven, saying, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common” (Acts 10:15.) Spiritual ears can hear all things praising God, and spiritual eyes can see all things clothed in the vestments of adoration. Those creatures which are least esteemed among men, and are even objects of terror or abhorrence, are admitted to the chorus of God’s praise equally with the most admired and cherished. That same Psalm villages, and village spires, orchards, and vineyards, alps and alpine snows,” one could not but exclaim, “Here God has been and is.” Nor less have our souls learned to worship beneath the walls of ancient Bergarno, or within the shade of the turrets of Verona, or in this “glorious city in the sea.” Italy, from sea to sea, has bidden us exult in our Jehovah’s name; and when we gazed upon the Adriatic from the shores of Lido, there came from the land of the rising sun borne on the rippling waves, whispers of Him who blesses all the earth. Far from our soul be that base faith which would cast its spell over us, and drag us from the freedom of the gospel to be ensnared with its witcheries, and enslaved with its falsehoods.
If the reader would see Rome’s pomp and glory as we have seen it, he will not need to travel, for he will find her photograph in the chapter which proceeded her coming and predicts her doom. It is the eighteenth in the Revelation of John. The evil spirit of Popery ascended not from the depths without the foresight of prophecy; those who have deceived the people arose not without observation : — “Ere they came, Their shadows, stretching far and wide, were known; And, two that looked beyond the visible sphere, Gave notice of their coming — he who saw The Apocalypse, and he of elder time, Who in an awful vision of the night Saw the four kingdoms. Distant as they were, Those holy men, well might they faint with fear!”