BAND OF LOVE: OR, UNION TO CHRIST BY C. H. SPURGEON SYSTEMATIC theologians have usually regarded union to Christ under three aspects, natural, mystical, and federal, and it may be that these three terms are comprehensive enough to embrace the whole subject, but as our aim in this article is simplicity, let us be pardoned if we appear diffuse when we follow a less concise method. 1. The saints were from the beginning joined to Christ by bands of everlasting love. Before he took on him their nature, or brought them into a conscious enjoyment of himself, his heart was set upon their persons, and his soul delighted in them. Long ere the worlds were made, his prescient eye beheld his chosen, and viewed them with delight. Strong were the indissoluble bands of love which then united Jesus to the souls whom he determined to redeem. Not bars of: brass, or triple steel, could have been more real and effectual bonds. True love, of all things in the universe, has the greatest cementing force, and will bear the greatest strain, and endure the heaviest pressure: who shall tell what trials the Savior’s love has borne, and how well it has sustained them? Never union more true than this. As the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David so that he loved David as his own soul, so was our glorious Lord united and joined to us by the ties of fervent, faithful love. Love has a most potent power in effecting and sustaining union, but never does it display its force so well as when we see it bringing the Maker into oneness with the creature, the divine into alliance with the human. This, then, is to be regarded as the day-spring of union, — the love of Christ Jesus the Lord embracing in its folds the whole of the elected family. 2. There is moreover a union of purpose as wen as of love. By the first we have seen that the elect are made one with Jesus by the act and will of the Son, by the second they are joined to him by the ordination and decree of the Father. These divine acts are co-eternal. The Son loved and chose his people to be his own bride, the Father made the same choice, and decreed the chosen ones for ever one with his all-glorious Son. The Son loved them, and the Father decreed them his portion and inheritance; the Father ordained them to be what the San himself did make them.
In God’s. purpose they have been eternally associated parts of one design.
Salvation was the fore-ordained scheme whereby God would magnify himself, and a Savior was in that scheme from necessity associated with the persons chosen to be saved. The scope of the dispensation of grace included both; the circle of wisdom comprehended Redeemer and redeemed in its one circumference. They could not be dissociated in the mind and will of the all-planning Jehovah. “Christ be my first elect,’ he said, Then chose our souls in Christ, our Head” The same book which contains the names of the heirs of life contains the name of their Redeemer. He could not be a Redeemer unless souls had been given him to redeem, nor could they have been called the ransomed of the Lord, if he had not engaged to purchase them. Redemption when determined upon by the God of heaven included in it both Christ and his people; and hence in the decree which fixed it, they were brought into a near and intimate alliance.
The foresight of the failed the Divine mind to provide for the catastrophe in which the elect would have perished, had not their ruin been prevented by gracious interposition. Hence followed as part of the Divine arrangement other forms of union, which, besides their immediate object in salvation, had doubtless a further design of illustrating the condescending alliance which Jesus had formed with his chosen. The next and following points are of this character. 3. Jesus is one with his elect federally. As in Adam, every heir of flesh and blood has a personal interest, because he is the covenant head and representative of the race as considered under the law of works; so under the law of grace, every redeemed soul is one with the Lord from heaven, since he is the Second Adam, the Sponsor and Substitute of the elect in the new covenant of love. The apostle Paul declares that Levi was in the loins of Abraham when Melchizedek met him: it is a certain truth that the, believer was in the loins of Jesus Christ, the Mediator, when in old eternity the covenant settlements of grace were decreed, ratified, and made sure for ever. Thus, whatever Christ hath done, he hath wrought for the whole body of his Church. We were crucified in him and buried with him, (Read Colossians 2:10 — 13,) and to make it still more: wonderful, we are risen With him and have even ascended with him to the seats on high. (Ephesians 2:6.) It is thus that the Church has fulfilled the law, and is “accepted in the beloved” It is thus that she is regarded with complacency by the just Jehovah, for he views her in Jesus, and does not look upon her as separate from her covenant head. As the ‘anointed Redeemer of Israel, Christ Jesus has nothing distinct from his Church, but all that he has he holds for her.
Adam’s righteousness’, was ours as long as he maintained it, and his sin was ours the moment that he committed it; and in the same manner, all that the Second Adam is or does, is ours as well as his, seeing that lie is our representative. Here is the foundation of the covenant of grace. This gracious system of representation and substitution, which moved Justin Martyr to cry oat, “O blessed change, O sweet permutation!” this, I say, is the very groundwork of the gospel of our salvation, and is to be received with strong faith and rapturous joy. In every place the saints are perfectly one with Jesus. “One in the tomb, one when he rose, One when he triumph’d o’er his foes:
One when in heav’n he took his seat, While seraphs sung all hell’s defeat.
This sacred tie forbids their fears, For all he is, or has is theirs; With him their head, they stand or fall, Their life, their surety, and their all.”(Kent.) 4. For the accomplishment of the great works of atonement and perfect obedience, it was needful that the Lord Jesus should take upon him “the likeness of sinful flesh.” Thus, he became one with us in our nature, for in Holy Scripture, all partakers of flesh and blood are regarded as of one family. By the fact of common descent from Adam, all men are of one race, seeing that “God hath made of one blood all nations that dwell upon the face of the earth.” Hence, in the Bible, man is spoken of universally as “thy brother” (Leviticus 19:7; Job 22:6; Matthew 5:23,24; Luke 17:3; Romans 14:10, etc, etc.); and “thy neighbor,” (Exodus 20:16; Leviticus 19:13 — 18; Matthew 5:43; Romans 13:9; James 2:8), to whom, on account of nature and descent, we are required to render kindness and good will. Now although our great Melchizedek in his divinity is without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, and is both in essence and rank at an infinite remove from fallen manhood; yet as to his manhood he is to be reckoned as one of ourselves. He was born of a woman, he hung upon her breasts, and was dandled upon her knee; he grew from infancy to youth and thence to manhood, and in every stage he was a true and real partaker of our humanity. He is as certainly of the race of Adam as he is divine. He is God without fiction or metaphor, and he is man beyond doubt or dispute. The Godhead was not humanized and so diluted; and the manhood was not transformed into divinity and so rendered more than human. Never was any man more a portion of his kind than was the Son of Man, the Man of sorrows and the acquaintance of grief. He is man’s brother, for he bore the whole nature of man. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” He who was very God of very God made himself a little lower than the angels, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. This Was done with the most excellent design in our redemption, inasmuch as it was necessary that as man had sinned man should suffer, but doubtless it had a further motive, the honoring of the Church, and the enabling of her Lord to sympathize with her. The apostle most sweetly remarks (Hebrews 2:14,15; Hebrews 4:15), “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, — that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
And, again, “For we have not an high-priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet’ without sin.” Thug, in ties of blood, Jesus, the Son of Man, is one with all the heirs of heaven. “For this cause also he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Hebrews 2:11.)
What reason have we here for the strongest consolation and delight, seeing that, “Both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one.”
We can say of our Lord as poor Naomi said of bounteous Boaz, “The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.” Overwhelmed by the liberality of our blessed Lord, we are often led to cry with Ruth, “Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me seeing I am a stranger;” and are we not ready to die with wonder when in answer to such a question, he tells us that he is our brother, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. If in all our straits and distresses, we could bear upon our minds the remembrance of our Redeemers manhood, we should never bemoan the absence of a sympathizing heart, since we should always have his abundant compassion for our consolation. He is no stranger, he is able to enter into the heart’s bitterness, for he has himself tasted the worm: wood and the gall. Let us never doubt his power to sympathize with us in our infirmities and sorrows. There is one aspect of this subject of natural union which it were improper to pass over in silence, for it is very precious to the believer. ‘While the Lord Jesus takes upon himself our nature (2 Peter 1:4), he restores in us that image of God Genesis 1:27), which was blotted and defaced by the fall of Adam. He raises us from the degradation of sin to the dignity of perfection. So that in a twofold sense, the head and members are of one nature, and not like that monstrous image which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. The head was of fine gold, but the belly and the thighs were of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet, part of iron and part. of clay. Christ’s mystical body is no absurd combination of opposites, the head is immortal, and the body is immortal too, for thus the record stands, Because I live, ye shall live also’ “As is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” “As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly ;” and this shall in a few more years be more fully manifest to us, for ‘:’ this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” Such as is the head, such is the body, and every member in particular. A chosen Head and chosen members; an accepted Head, and accepted members; a living Head, and living members. If the head be pure gold, all the parts of the nature body as are basis of fire of gold. also. Thus is there a double union closest communion. Pause here, devout the of reader, and see if thou canst without ecstatic amazement, contemplate the infinite condescension of the Son of God in thus exalting thy wretchedness into blessed union with his glory. Thou art so mean that in remembrance of thy mortality, thou mayest say to corruption, Thou art my father,” and to the worm, Thou art my mater, -and yet in. Christ thou art so honored that thou canst say to the Almighty, Abba, Father, and to the Incarnate God, Thou art my brother and my husband.” Surely if relationships to ancient and name families make men think highly of themselves, we have whereof to glory over the heads of them all. Lay hold upon this privilege; let not a senseless indolence make thee negligent to trace this pedigree, and suffer no foolish attachment to present vanities to occupy thy thoughts to the exclusion of this glorious, this heavenly honor of union with Christ.
We must now retrace our steps to the ancient mountains, and centerpiece this union in one of its earliest forms. 5. Christ Jesus is also joined unto his people in a, mystical union.
Borrowing once more from the story of Ruth, we remark that Boaz, although one with Ruth by kinship, did not rest until he had entered into a nearer union still, namely, that of marriage; and in the same manner there is, super added to the natural union of Christ with his people, a mystical union by which he assumes the position of Husband, while the Church is owned as his bride. In love he espoused her to himself, as a chaste virgin, long before she fell under the yoke of bondage. Full of burning affection, he toiled like Jacob for Rachel, until the whole of her purchase-money had been paid, and now, having sought her by his Spirit, and brought her to know and love him, he awaits the glorious hour when their mutual bliss shall be consummated at the marriage-supper of the Lamb. Not yet hath the glorious Bridegroom presented his betrothed perfected and complete, before the Majesty of heaven, not yet hath she actually entered upon the enjoyment of her dignities as his wife and queen; she is as yet a wanderer in a world of woe, a dweller in the tents of Kedar, but she is even now the bride, the spouse of Jesus, dear to his heart, precious in his sight, written on his hands, ‘and united with his person. On earth he exercises towards her all the affectionate offices of Husband. He makes rich provision for her wants, pays all her debts, allows her to assume his name, and to share in all his wealth. Nor will he ever act otherwise to her. The word divorce he will never mention, for “he hateth putting away” Death must sever the conjugal tie between the most loving mortals, but it cannot divide the links of this immortal marriage. In heaven they marry not, but are as the angels of God, yet is there this one marvelous exception to the rule, for in heaven Christ and his Church shall celebrate their joyous nuptials. And this affinity as it is more lasting, so is it more near than earthly wedlock. Let the love of husband be never so pure and fervent, it is but a faint picture of the flame that burns in the heart of Jesus. Passing all human union is that mystical cleaving unto the Church, for which Christ did leave his Father, and become one flesh with her.
If this be the union which subsists between our souls and the person of our Lord, how deep and broad is the channel of our communion. This is no narrow pipe through which a thread-like stream may wind its way, it is a channel of amazing depth and breadth, along whose breadth and length a ponderous volume of living water may roll its strength. Behold he hath set before us an open door, let us not be slow to enter. ‘This city ,of communion hath many pearly gates, every several gate is of one pearl, and each gate is thrown open to the uttermost that we may enter, assured of welcome. If there were but one small loophole through which to talk with Jesus, it would be a high privilege to thrust a word of fellowship through the narrow door; how much we are blessed in having so large an entrance!
Had the Lord Jesus been far away from us, with many a stormy sea between, we should have longed to send a messenger to him to carry him our loves, and bring us tidings from his Father’s house; but see his kindness, he has built Ms house next door to ours, nay, more, he takes lodging with us, and tabernacles in poor humble hearts, that so he may have perpetual intercourse with us. O how foolish must:, we be, if we do not live in habitual communion with him. When the road is long, and dangerous, and difficult, we need not wonder that friends seldom meet each other, but when they live together shall Jonathan forget his David? A wife may when her husband is upon a journey, abide many days without holding converse with him, but she could never endure to be separated from him if she knew him to be in one of the chambers of her own house.
Seek thy Lord, for he is near; embrace him, for he is thy Brother. Hold him fast, for he is thine Husband; and press him to thine heart, for he is of thine own flesh. 6. As yet we have only considered the acts of Christ for us, whereby he effects and proves his union to us; we must now come to more personal and sensible forms of this great truth.
Those who are set apart for the Lord are in due time severed from the impure mass of fallen humanity, and are by sovereign grace engrafted into the person of the Lord Jesus. This, which we call vital union is rather a matter of experience than of doctrine; it must be learned in the heart, and not by the head. Like every other work of the Spirit, the actual implantation of the soul into Christ Jesus is a mysterious and secret operation, and is no more to be understood by carnal reason than the new birth of which it is an attendant. Nevertheless, the spiritual man discerns it as a most essential thing in the salvation of the soul, and he clearly sees how a living union Christ is the sure consequence o! the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit, and is indeed, in some respects, identical with it.
When the Lord in mercy passed by and saw us in our blood, he first of all said, “Live;” and this he did first, because without life there can be no spiritual knowledge, feeling, or motion. Life is one of the absolutely essential things in spiritual matters, and until it be bestowed we are incapable of partaking in the things of the kingdom. Now the life which grace confers upon the saints at the moment of their quickening is none other than the life of Christ, which, like the sap from the stem, runs into us, the branches, and establishes a living connection between our souls and Jesus. Faith is the grace which perceives this union, and proceeds from it as its firstfruit. It is, to use a metaphor from the Cantcles, the neck which joins the body of the Church to its all-glorious Head. “O Faith ! thou bond of union with the Lord, Is not this office thine? and thy fit name, In the economy of gospel types And symbols apposite — the Church’s neck; Identifying her in will and work With him ascended?” Faith lays hold upon the Lord Jesus with a firm and determined grasp. She knows his excellence and worth, and no temptation can induce her to repose her trust elsewhere; and Christ Jesus is so delighted with this heavenly grace, that he never ceases to strengthen and sustain her by the loving embrace and. all-sufficient support of his eternal arms. Here then is established a living, sensible, and delightful union which casts forth streams of love, confidence, sympathy, complacency, and joy, whereof both the bride and bridegroom love to drink. When the eye is clear and the soul can evidently perceive this oneness between the soul and Christ, the pulse may be felt as beating for both, and the one blood may be known as flowing through the veins of each. Then is the heart made exceedingly glad, it is as near heaven as it ever can be on earth, and is prepared for the enjoyment of the most sublime and spiritual kind of fellowship, This union may be quite as true when we are troubled with doubts concerning it, but it cannot afford consolation to the soul unless it be indisputably proven and assuredly felt; then is it indeed a honeycomb dropping with sweetness, a precious jewel sparkling with light. Look well to this matter ye saints of the Most High.
PRACTICAL LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF RICHARD COBDEN.
EARNEST men can always learn from one another. The path of the man who blessed a nation by cheapening their daily bread, and snapping the chains of commerce, having devoted the flower of his days to that single purpose, must be full of instructive teaching to men consecrated to the yet higher end of glorifying God by spreading abroad the gospel of his Son. It is not our intention to give even so much as a complete outline of the life of Mr. Cobden, we only aim at gathering from his memoir such incidents and reflections as may be made to bear on the service of God so as to stimulate the zeal of those engaged in it. Mr. Cobden’s success is a singular proof that early failures ought not to discourage the hope of future usefulness. His first public address was a signal failure. “He was nervous, confused, and in fact practically broke down, and the chairman had to apologize for him” little could those who heard him have dreamed that his eloquence would command the respectful attention of senates, and the rapturous applause of thousands, on the other hand those who have heard him “Pour the full tide of eloquence along, Serenely pure, and yet divinely strong,” would scarcely believe that he could haw ever sat down a blushing man, longing ‘to hide his head, because his tongue refused to do his bidding.
Young believers must not be daunted if their early efforts should bring them little but regrets and disappointments; it is good for them that they bear the yoke in their youth; let them persevere, and they may yet have many crowns to, lay at their Savior’s feet. God forbid that ‘wounded pride should so reign in the bosom of a servant of Christ as to deprive him of the bliss of doing good. What matters it if we are made nothing of, and are even the theme of laughter, Jesus deserves that we should bear even this for his sake, and since he scorns us not, but accepts our poor attempts as being what our motives and wishes would have made them, we may well press on, hopeful of better days ere long. One talent at interest will speedily become two, and the two will grow into five; let us do what we can for Jesus, and we shall soon be able to do more. Stretch thy wings fledging, and flutter, though it be feebly, for in so doing thou wilt learn to fly. One is struck with the way in which Cobden wholly gave himself up to his one master-idea. From the time when his judgment was convinced of the truth of that great doctrine so elaborately and conclusively advocated by Adam Smith as the fundamental principle of the wealth of nations, the freedom of industry and the unrestricted exchange of the objects and results of industry, he ceased not for a moment to denounce the system of protection, and to enlighten the people of England upon a matter so essential to their country’s prosperity. His generous heart was grieved at the fearful distress which the Corn Laws brought upon the operatives; he saw them lying by the sides of hedges and walls seeking a miserable, shelter, he found them starving while plenty reigned on the other side the Channel, and was not allowed to send her stores among the hungry millions; his great heart beat high with sympathy, and swelled with a grand ambition to slay the monster which wrought his country such widespread evil, and he gave himself heart and soul to the work. To him all other aims were merged in this: his business which was at first large and lucrative, was all but sacrificed upon the altar of Free Trade; wealth was just within his reach, but the golden apples could not entice him from the race. Political partisan-ship, so potent over some men, could not sway him for a moment; he said in iris place in Parliament, “I assure the House that the declarations I have made were not made with a party spirit.! do not call myself Whig or Tory. I am a Free-trader opposed to monopoly wherever I find it.” There lay the secret of tits power, he was given up to the dominion of one great object, and would not subdivide the kingdom of his manhood by admitting a second. The life-floods of his soul were not squandered in a thousand miserable streamlets to feed the marshes of superficiality, but concentrated in one deep channel so as to gladden the earth with a river of power for good. What a lesson for believers in Jesus. When will love to the Redeemer, after the same manner eat us up, and cause us to cry, “One thing I do?”. Worldly ends rule in many professors, party spirit governs ethers, self more or less intrudes into all; it were the sure sign of a golden era if we had among us a host of men of the old apostolic spirit, for whom to live would be Christ only. Believers, whether you are actively engaged in business, or in spiritual labors, Strive to do, everything ‘for Jesus; in the power of the Holy Spirit, living for him alone. Dead as the withered figtree be all other designs and desires save the glory of Jesus, ay, and buried let them be in the abyss of oblivion. On that cross where died our Savior, let us crucify self in all its forms, and let us live with the name of Jesus burned into our very hearts. A mightily dominant passion will frequently subdue the griefs of human life, and bury them in holy ground. John Bright, who married young, lost hilt wife shortly after marriage. He went to Leamington, where Cobden visited him, and found him bowed down by grief. “Come with me,” said Cobden, “and we will never rest until we abolish the Corn Laws.” Bright arose from his great sorrow, girded his loins to fight side by side with his friend, and thus found consolation for his terrible loss, How often would deep despondencies and heavy glooms be chased away if an all-absorbing love to Jesus, and a fiery zeal for his honor burned within our bosoms. One fire puts out another, and a grander agony of soul quenches all other grief.
The hands of holy industry pluck the canker of grief from the heart, and shed a shower of heavenly dew, which makes the believer, like the rose, pour forth a sweet perfume of holy joy. As quaint old Fuller says, “A divine benediction is always invisibly breathed on painful and lawful diligence.”
The clappers of sacred industry drive away the evil birds of melancholy and despair. Commanding talent seldom achieves much unless it be coupled with perseverance. The runner wins not the race by making a spurt at first and loitering afterwards, he who would earn the prize must press on with all his strength until the is reached. Johnson tells us that human “all the performances of art, at which we look with praise and wonder, are instances of the resistless force of perseverance; it is by this that the quarry becomes a pyramid, and that distant countries are united by canals. If a man were to compare the effect of a single stroke of the pickax, or of one impression of the spade with the general design or the last result, he would be overwhelmed by the sense of their disproportion; yet those petty operations incessantly continued, in time surmount the greatest difficulties, and mountains are leveled and oceans bounded by the slender force of human beings.” The great freetrader’s motto ‘was that of the needle, “I go through.” Having given himself to the cause, he was no! the man to desert it; undismayed by reproach and laughter, and undaunted by the tremendous power of his opponents, he pushed on in his arduous task, clearing the way foot by foot by dint of clogged resolution and unflagging energy. He had to deal with men Of ability and skill, whose interests were at stake, and who, therefore, bestinked themselves; to repel his attacks with the utmost energy. In the market-place, in the House of Commons, everywhere indeed, the champion heard “the harsh and boisterous, tongue-of-war;” contentions fierce, ardent and dire, raved round him, and the weapons used were not always, such as the scrupulous would allow, but our hero Showed no sign of relinquishing the field of battle, or yielding a single inch to the enemy. Jeers and sneers have often fretted other men into passion, or broken their spirits into despair, but he passed scuttles though the darts fell thick as hailstones. “When Mr. Miles, a Protectionist, said that Charles Bullet had made an appeal to the ‘appetites, as well as the passions of the people,’ this reference to the horrid starvation then prevailing, was received with ‘ loud laughter.’ Similar ‘merry descants on a nation’s woe’ greeted Dr. Bowring’s reference to anything so miserably vulgar as the reduction in the wages of shoemakers and tailors. When he said women were crying for work, there was more ‘laughter:’ they were making trousers for sixpence a pair — more ‘loud laughter:’ thousands were hungry and naked — the founts of laughter proved as prodigal as before; and ‘peals of loud laughter’ greeted the inquiry, what was to become of the women of Manchester?” Scorn may be more grievous than the pains of death, and ridicule more piercing than the pointed sword, but the bold, good man who, in this instance was the subject’ of it, was clad in armor of proof and laughed to scorn both scorn and laughter. On, on, on, was the voice which sounded in his ear, and he was not disobedient to it. He flew like an eagle to his quarry, and bore others of feebler spirit upon his wings.
In the midst Of the conflict he concluded one of his speeches with these telling sentences, “We must not relax in our labors, on the contrary, we must be more zealous, more energetic, more laborious, than we ever yet have been. When the enemy is wavering then is the time to press upon him.
I call then on all who have any sympathy with our cause, who have any promptings of humanity, or who feel any interest in the well-being of their fellow-men, all who have apprehensions of scarcity and privations, to come forward to avert this horrible destiny, this dreadfully impending visitation.”
This enthusiastic continuance in the path of duty is to be coveted by all servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. The way of service is not always smooth, but the constant friend of Jesus puts on the dauntless spirit of resolution and journeys on come hill or dale, fair or foul, until he reaches the end. Our purposes, if at all worthy of men of God, will involve much labor and anxiety; and he alone is worthy of the kingdom who, unmoved by difficulties and unabashed by rebukes, marches onward with steady step toward the object of his life. Would to God that we were half as resolute to establish the reign of Divine truth as others have been to enforce the domination of a political dogma. The great want of many professed Christians is the spirit of continuing in well doing, patiently waiting for the promised reward. Shrewd common sense is called to the aid of enthusiasm by the leader of the Anti-Corn Law League. All means were put in operation. Lecturers went through the country, mass-meetings were held, funds were contributed, bazaars were opened, petitions were signed, elections were contested, and the whole country was kept in a state of perpetual ferment.
That mighty engine, the printing press, was never allowed to rest. Tracts by the million flooded the country, broadsides and sheets of all sizes covered the walls, and condensed libraries enriched the patriot’s shelves. Mr. Cobden spoke of printing a million copies of each of three prize essays, and of having every press in Manchester in full swing on behalf of Free Trade.
All that ingenuity could devise or liberality procure was brought to bear upon the one great object. The power of this ceaseless activity so well directed was felt in all circles: from the palace to the cottage, all classes became interested in the struggle, nor was that interest ever allowed to flag. Whigs and Tories were both assailed or petitioned, good harvests and bad seasons were equally telling arguments, foreigners as well as Englishmen were made to serve the cause, in fact all the world was ransacked for allies. The children of light are not always so shrewd in their methods of procedure, they leave many occasions unimproved, and many means untried. It were well for our Churches if all the members were earnestly employing their talents in ravening modes of usefulness, or better still in working them out. If all were at it with all their hearts, we might yet make Antichrist tremble and fill the world with the knowledge of the Lord.
To reform the abuses of our national establishment and separate it from the state were a task worthy of a thousand lives; what shall be said of the even loftier aim of making the gospel known to the teeming masses of our increasing popular, ion? O for one tremendous, long continued effort for London. Our impetuous desire to see the truth of God triumphant, makes us mourn and even loathe the lethargy of those who come not to the help of the Lord against the mighty. The virtue of disinterestness shone very brightly in the character of Richard Cobden. One who was well qualified to speak for the working classes thus; truthfully describes him:— “He was one of the few members of Parliament who thought for the people, and what is more and rarer, gave himself trouble to promote their interests. He never knew apathy or selfishness. He cared for principle, not to serve his own ends, but the ends of the people. With him, a great principle was a living power of progress, and not to apply it and produce by it the good which was in it, seemed to him a crime. To him apathy was sin. A cause might be despised, obscure, or poor: he not only helped it all the same — he helped it all the more. He aided it openly and intentionally. Fresh from the honors of great nations, who were proud to receive him as a guest, he would give an audience to a deputation of poor men. The day after he arrived from the Court c f an Emperor, he might be found wending his way to a remote street, to attend a committee meeting, to give his personal advice to the advancement of some forlorn hope of progress. In the day of triumph he shrank modestly on one side, and stood in the common ranks; but in the dark or stormy days of unfriended truth he was always to the front.”
Mr. Miall testified of him in the Nonconformist, “To do the good he was qualified to do was the only reward he ever craved. Wealth, ease, reputation, popularity, social distinction, were all as nothing when he had a duty to do. When that duty had been done, he was satisfied. He cared not to claim the merit. He delighted in lavishing it upon those with whom he had been associated. You might be in his company for days together without hearing a single expression calculated to remind you of his, own superiority of position. He seemed to have no self-consciousness save for what the took to be his defects. He assumed no airs of authority. He recoiled from the very appearance of acting the great man. His affections all tended outwards. He was the soul of generosity. But in one respect he firmly and tenaciously held his own — -he never parted with his convictions — he would suffer no blandishments to rob him of his selfrespect.
There were times when he was beset by temptations that would have been powerful for other men. None of them moved him. He put them aside and went on his way, neither caring to deny’ nor glorying in what he had done.” Preeminently is such high disregard of self to be cultivated in the Church of God. If a politician could refuse a seat in the cabinet, and afterwards all the honors of the house of Lords, because he found it sufficient reward to have served his country and his age, surely those who are of “the royal priesthood,” should despise all mercenary motives and sinister aims, and hate all selfishness with perfect hatred.
All of us remember how Mr. Cobden espoused the cause of the Peace Society, and was not ashamed to be caricatured and ridiculed for its sake.
The war mania carried away with its madness many a good and true man, but the hero of the Freetrade battle was a man of another mettle. Right in the face of the strong current of the war-feeling among us, he declared our folly and denounced our ferocity. His warmest admirers thought him unwise, and the verdict of the electors of England was, that he was in error; but this did not affect his testimony nor muzzle his free speech. He was the enemy of war just as he had been the enemy of monopoly, and he made no compromise with his second enemy as he had made no truce with the first. Manliness in religion is a mark of nobility of soul, such nobility as grace alone can give. He who wears it is more than a match for ten thousand slaves of custom who cut their consciences as tailors cut their cloth according to the fashion. Better not to be, than have to beg permission to think, and crave allowance to speak one’s thoughts with bated breath. He who loves God as he should, is no time-server. His flag is nailed to the masthead, and never will he, like the pirate, run up false colors to escape attack. “He holds no parley with unmanly fears; Where duty’ bids, he confidently steers, Faces a thousand dangers at her call, And, trusting in his God, surmounts them all.” The close of his career cheers us when we observe how he had managed to win the respect of his enemies, and retain the deep, fervent love of his friends, lie had spoken severely, but never with personal animosity; he had triumphed by the strength of reason and not of physical force, and hence those who had been defeated by his logic owed no grudge to the mart however much they might rue the day in which they met him in conflict.
Mr. Disraeli paid a most graceful tribute to his memory, declaring him to have been an honor to the House of Commons, and an honor to England.
On the other hand, his comrade, Mr. Bright, was overwhelmed with sorrow at his loss, and could scarcely say more than “after twenty years of most intimate and almost brotherly friendship with him, I little knew how much I loved him until I found that I had lost him” So to fight is to war a good warfare. Christians cannot avoid setting men at variance, it is a sad necessity of fallen nature that truth should provoke hostility; but the spirit which we breathe has no quarrel with persons, but with sins, or with the persons only because of the sins. Friends of all men are we, and in some sense the servants of all; yet we seek no friendship by a trimming policy, and serve no man by slavishly bowing to his unholy desires. If our spirit can be one of genuine, manifest, sincere, hearty, fervent love, we may be as vehement reformers as this age requires, and yet we may command the esteem of all with - whom we come in contact, by the awful and almighty power inherent in holiness and zeal. Those who hate us for the doctrine which we teach, may yet be made to admire us for the lives we lead; and if they see not the truths which we believe, they cannot help seeing the fruits which they bring forth. Actions are strong reasons with the most of men, and they have a voice far louder than words: let us commend our faith by our works, and shut the mouths of our enemies by the excellence of our conversation. May we live for Jesus, die in Jesus, glorify Jesus, and reign with Jesus.
MANY persons are greatly disquieted in mind because their experience of conviction or comfort has not been like that of others. They fancy that they cannot have come to Christ aright because they have not felt precisely the same joys or depressions as certain saints of whom they have read. Now, should these good people be so troubled? We think not. Uniformity is not God’s rule of working either in nature or in grace. No two human faces display exactly the same lineaments; sons of the same mother, born at the same birth, may be as different as Jacob and Esau. Not even in leagues of forest will two leaves be found in all respects alike. Diversity is the rule of nature, and let us rest assured that variety is the rule of grace.
Mr. Beecher has given us this truth in a very beautiful form in the following lines:—”What if God should command the flowers to appear before him, and the sunflower should come bending low with shame because it was not a violet, and the violet should come striving to lift itself up to be like a sunflower, and the lily should seek to gain the bloom of the rose, and the rose the whiteness of the lily; and so, each one disdaining itself, should seek: to grow into the likeness of the other?” God would say, ‘ Stop foolish flowers! I gave you your own forms and hues, and odors, and I wish you to bring what you have received. O, sunflower, come as a sunflower; and you sweet violet, come as a violet; let the rose bring the rose’s bloom, and the lily the lily’s whiteness.’ Perceiving their folly, and ceasing to long for what they had not, violet and rose, lily and geranium, mignionette and anemone, and all the floral train would come, each in its own loveliness, to send up its fragrance as incense, and all wreathe themselves in a garland of beauty about the throne of God.”
Reader, the saints are one in Christ Jesus, but they are not one in their peculiarities. Be we who we may, if we rest on the Redeemer our eternal life is sure; and if not, we are dead while we live. What is Jesus Christ to me? that is the main question. If he is my all, then all is well; if not, I may be very like a saint, but a saint I am not. “I’LL go down if father will hold the rope,” was the offer of a Highland lad, when a traveler’ wanted him to reach the eggs of a wild bird which had built on a rocky ledge. The boy felt that there would be no danger if the rope was in his father’s hand, for he had a powerful arm, and a loving heart, and would not leave his own child to perish.
Timid believers are afraid to begin to work for Jesus. To teach in the Sunday-school, to commence a Tract District, to visit the cottagers, to preach on the green, an\, of these seem to them to be too arduous and difficult. Suppose they were to look up to their Heavenly Father, and rely upon his promised aid, might they not venture? It cannot need much courage to rely upon Almighty strength. Go, dear friend, to thy work, and thy Father will hold the rope.
Unbelief is apt to foresee terrible trials as awaiting us upon our road to heaven. Your position will be, so fear tells you, like that of one hanging over the raging sea, by the side of a precipitous cliff; but then remember the eternal love Which will be your unfailing support. You may hang there without the slightest fear, for lather will hold the rope.
The awakened sinner dreads the wrath of Heaven, and fears that his eternal ruin is inevitable; but if he has learned to depend alone upon the Lord Jesus, there is no room for further alarm. The Lord Jehovah has become the salvation of every soul that has laid hold upon the hope set before him in the Lord Jesus. The great matter no longer rests with the sinner after he has believed, the weight of his soups eternal interests hangs upon Jesus the Savior. The eternal arm which never wearies, will put forth all its power to uphold the trusting ones; and every believing sinner may sing in joyful security, though Satan should set all hell boiling beneath him, for the great Father holds the rope.