BELLS FOR THE HORSES.
“In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness unto the Lord.” Zechariah 14:20. “BELLS on the horses! Unnecessary! Very unnecessary, indeed,” says my neigh-hour, Dr. Dull; “very needless, trivial, and absurd. Horses do not derive a particle of strength from wearing a set of jingling nuisances which can be of no possible service, and only spoil the quiet, so sweet to melancholy.” Well, well, most judicious doctor, we will not dispute with you, for it is very much a matter of taste, and therefore, not to be quarreled over; as saith the old rule, De gustibus non est disputandum. You delight in comfortable misery, and I delight in overflowing joy. Your portion is quite safe from my envy, and if you do not care for mine, you have only to let me enjoy it, and we shall agree right well. Nevertheless, I am most decidedly for bells as well as horses, for the bells ring in my ears, and do not jingle on my tympanum as they do on yours. I hear their sweet silvery notes with far too much satisfaction to think them a nuisance, or to wish to silence their busy tongues. You shall do as you please with your hacks; I have an appointment under the great King, and I am bound to see to it that. the royal horses shall not lack for bells. So, here, according to my ability, I seek to hang his Majesty’s own bells about the necks of those goodly steeds who draw his chariot.
Cheerfulness, that compound of many excellencies, comparable unto “the powders of the merchant,” may scarcely claim to be called’ a virtue; but it is the friend and helper of all good graces, and the absence of it is certainly a vice. If cheerfulness be not health, assuredly melancholy is disease.
Practically’, cheerfulness occupies a very high position, and without it the Christian laborer is destitute of a very considerable element of strength. All wise workers for the Lord Jesus desire to preserve their tools in the best condition; their common sense teaches them that the tool-chest within themselves must not be left uncured for, since holy working with depressed spirits and gloomy views is as difficult as for the artist to paint with wornout brushes, or the sculptor to fashion his marble with broken chisels.
Cheerfulness sharpens the edge, and removes the rust from the mind. A joyous heart supplies oil to our inward machinery, and makes the whole of our powers work with ease and. efficiency; hence it is of the utmost importance that we maintain a contented, cheerful, genial! disposition. The longer I am engaged in my Master’s service, the more am I confident that the joy of the Lord is and must be our strength, and that discontent and moroseness are fatal to usefulness. With all my heart would I say to my fellow-servants, “rejoice in the Lord always,” not only for your own sakes, but for the sake of the work which is so dear to you. Whoever may advocate dreary dullness, I cannot and dare not do other than impeach it as art enemy of true religion. The deadening gloom and murderous chilliness of certain religionists is guilty of the blood of souls, and is to be avoided as men shun the death damps of malarious swamps. The Puritans were never accused of too much hilarity, but they were, as a rule, happy men; and one of them shall speak from the grave in support of the duty which I am now urging upon you. He, Master Thomas Watson, let us hear thy voice from thy sepulcher! These are the words which my ear drinks in from him who discoursed so sweetly upon “Divine Contentment:” “Cheerfulness honors religion; it proclaims to the world that we serve a good Master; cheerfulness is a friend to grace; it puts the heart in tune to serve God.
Uncheerful Christians, like the spies, bring an evil report on the good land; others suspect there is something unpleasant in religion, that they who profess it hang their harps upon the willows, and walk so dejectedly. Be serious, yet cheerful. Rejoice in the Lord always.” Well said, Master Watson, may we all have grace to practice thy good counsel!
Among professed Christians there lurks an undefined and unexpressed idea, that cheerfulness, if not absolutely sinful in itself, is very dangerous; and to be kept like gunpowder in small quantities only, and always under lock and key, for fear of mischief. Mr. Timbs might have included in his list of “Popular Errors,” the tradition that true piety lives at the sign of the long face, and he might have added to his “Things not generally known,” the fact that holiness and happiness are blood relations. I have remarked that many apparently good people put certain lively and sparkling Saxon words under a ban, because of their expressive joyousness; as for instance, that innocent and even scriptural word, “merry.” Sundry of my friends were just going to wish me “A Merry Christmas,” but they suddenly stopped, like a spiritless huntsman at a five-barred gate, and backed out of it. They even looked solemnly penitent, as if they had committed the beginning of a sin, and felt that their feet had well nigh slipped. I looked them full in the face, and said, “Why don’t you out with it? Why should I not be merry at Christmas, and all the year round beside?” God says of himself as the great Father, and of his holy angels as his friends and neighbors, “It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad, for this thy brother was dead and is alive again.” “They began to be merry,” is the Holy Ghost’s own expression of Christian joy over converted sinners, and if you will use it in a holy sense, there is not a more gracious, and blessed word in all our language than that word “merry.” We do not seek worldly merriment, but we do love such holy mirth as James alludes to, when he says, “Is any merry? let him sing psalms,” James 5:13.
Solomon sent away’ the people at the opening of the temple “glad and merry in heart:, for all the goodness that the Lord had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people,” 2 Chronicles 7:10; and he tells us that “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine,” Proverbs 17:22.
I decline, therefore, to be robbed of such a rich, bell-ringing, festive word as that “merry,” which so shocks a spurious propriety. I have heard of being merry and wise, and I believe in being merry and holy. The bells must be holiness unto the Lord, but they must be bells, and we cannot afford to have them melted down and turned into coffin-plates. Working Christians should, as far as possible, be cheerful of countenance, happy in manner, and merry in heart; and there are several reasons why I think so.
They should be happy,BECAUSE THEY SERGE AHAPPYGOD. It enters into the essential idea of God that he is superlatively blessed. We cannot conceive of a God who should be infinitely miserable. Our written role and guide speaks of him whom we adore as “God over all, blessed it or over.” Good Mr. Knibb used to employ, instead of the term “the blessed God,” what, I believe, is an equally accurate translation, “the happy God.”
As it is true that “God is love,” so is it equally true that God is happiness.
Now it would be an exceedingly strange thing if, in proportion as we became like a happy God, we grew more and more miserable. It would be a singular and unaccountable thing indeed it, by acting like the Giver of all good, whose bliss is perfect, we should increase in wretchedness. The livery of kings should be bright and lavish with gold lace, and the livery of the King of kings, the Lord of blessedness, must not be of somber hue. If a black ray should cry, “I come, from the sun,” who would believe it? and who will credit our credentials as coming from heaven if we look like souls fore-doomed to hell? Congruity is to be studied everywhere, and it seems not meet that the ambassadors of the Prince of light should wear a perpetual shadow over their faces. The priests of old were not to sully themselves with sorrow when they performed their functions, and saints who are of a higher priesthood should show forth delight in their approaches to their God. Angels sing, and why not God’s other servants who are a little -lower and yet far higher? David danced before the ark, which was but a symbol of Divinity; what ails us that our heart so seldom dances before the Lord himself? The old creation has its sunshine and flowers; its lowing herds and bleating flocks; its heaven-mounting larks and warbling nightingales; its rivers laughing, and its seas clapping hands; is the new creation of grace to render less happy worship to God our exceeding joy? Nay, rather let us come into his presence with thanksgiving, and show ourselves glad in him with psalms. Most of the English versions alter the Old Hundredth Psalm into “Him serve with fear;” but for my’ part, by God’s grace, I mean to sing it as it used to be, and still is sung in Scotland- “All people, that on earth do dwell, Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice, Him serve WITH MIRTH, his praise forth tell Come ye before him and rejoice.” I know you will tell me that, the gold must be thrust into the fire, that believer’s must pass through much tribulation. I answer, Truly it must be so, but when the gold knows why and wherefore it is in the fire, when it understands who placed it there, who watches it while amid the coals, who is sworn to bring it out unhurt, and in what matchless purity it will soon appear, the gold, if it be gold indeed, will thank the Refiner for putting it into the crucible, and will find a sweet satisfaction even in the flames. “And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also, knowing that. tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope.” “Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud upon their beds.” God himself in our worst condition is an unfailing source of joy. “A Deity believed is joy begun; A Deity adored is joy advanced; A Deity beloved is joy matured, Each branch of piety delight inspires.” Heaven is happiness, and it is scarcely conceivable that those who possess the “earnest of the inheritance,” can find that” earnest” to be unlike the” inheritance” itself. “An earnest” is a part of the possession; the earnest of heaven must, surely, be joyful and blissful like heaven, of which it is the foretaste.
Furthermore, (as preachers say,)IS NOT THE GOSPEL CALCULATED TO MAKE MEN HAPPY WHEN IT IS REALLY UNDERSTOOD,BELIEVED, ENJOYED? You believe that Jesus Christ is man in our nature; that the Word was made flesh. Did not this grand truth set all heaven on a blaze with splendor on the night of the nativity, while angels chanted midnight chorales;, and should it not also set your heart a-glow with sacred joy every night and every day, while all your powers an(1 passions sing with gratitude? You believe that Jesus died for sinners. The doctrine of the atonement is earth’s heaven-given light, by which the dark despair of humanity is chased away. Do you believe yourself to be forgiven and washed in the precious blood, and does your heart never say, “I will praise thee every day, Now thine anger’s turned away “?
Do you derive no comfort “from the bleeding sacrifice”? Shall the praises of Jesus never be your pleasant song? It seems to me that if one had to conceive beforehand, without observation, what state of mind that heart would be in which had thoroughly received the gospel of peace, one would be constrained to mention, together with other sacred effects, happiness as a most prominent result. Surely, I should say, a soul elect of God, bought with blood, called by the Spirit, made a partaker of heavenly banquets, and ordained unto eternal life, must have a new song put into its mouth. We have fellowship with a Savior whose joys were as deep though not so apparent as his agonies; and we may find peace where he found his, namely, in a contemplation of the glory which the Father receives in the work of his dear Son. “Christ had his joys, but they were not The joys the son of pleasure boasts— O, no! ‘twas when his spirit sought Thy will, thy glory, God of Hosts! “Christ had his joys, and so hath he Who feels the Spirit in his heart; Who yields, O God, his all to thee, And loves thy name for what thou art.” More, over, rest assured, dear friends, that,AS AWORKER, CHEERFULNESS WILL BE ONE OF THE VERY BEST ASSISTANTS YOU CAN HAVE.
That grim sage, Thomas Carlyle, hits this nail on the head, when he says, “Give us, oh give us the man than; sings at his work! Be his occupation what it may, he is equal to any of those who follow the same pursuit in silent sullenest. He will do more in the same time—he will do it better—he will persevere longer. One is scarcely sensible of fatigue while he marches to music. The very stars are said to make harmony as they revolve in their spheres. Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness, altogether past calculation its powers of endurance. Efforts to be permanently useful must be uniformly joyous—a spirit of all sunshine — graceful from very gladness—beautiful because bright.” Cheerfulness readily carries burdens which despondency dares not touch. “A merry heart goes all the day, a sad heart tires in a mile.” Despondency whispers, “Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher?” But cheerfulness points to the risen Savior, and the stone already moved.
Despondency scarcely entertains as possible the plan which cheerfulness readily works out. Despondency gives up the work at the very first discouragement; but cheerfulness sings of success yet to come.
Despondency is broken-hearted, because of the hardness of men’s hearts; but cheerfulness remembers the might of the eternal hammer which can break the rock in pieces. A sad heart goes mourning to its loneliness, sullenly murmuring at its hard lot, but the stout heart repairs to the throne of grace, and opens its mouth wide that God may fill it. You can work for God at a great rate when you can praise him whilst you are working for him. Have you never noticed in the morning how much the aspect of the day will depend upon the spirit and temper in which you leave your bed?
Suppose yourself tortured with headache; then all nature has the headache too, and the streets and houses are throbbing with it. To a poor soul troubled with indigestion a wet morning is horrible, the roads are rivers of malicious ‘mud, the heartless rain-drops come pattering down most cruelly, every one of them bitterly chilling your marrow and spitefully shivering your bones, while the grim clouds are piled one upon the other as though Some celestial upholsterer, of most diabolical disposition, were furnishing an unlimited supply of funeral palls to be placed over the coffins of your joys. “All these things are against me!” say you, as you look to the threatening heavens above and to the slushy earth beneath. But how very different it is when your heart is glad! “Here come,” say you, “the silver drops from ‘heaven again;, those blessed clouds of God are still bounteously bestowing the soil-enriching rain! God intends a · blessing on the earth in all this, and I will. rejoice in the rain-drops as so many sparkling love-tokens from the hand of my Father, who for, gets not to moisten the earth when it needs it.” So you walk along cheerfully to your work, splashing up stars from the pavement and hearing the rain playing on your umbrella almost as sweet a tune as if it were the music of the spheres, a music to which your heart keeps tune as you go on marching through Immanuel’s ground to fairer worlds on high. ‘Everything depends on how you keep the inward man; if’ the immortal tenant be happy, the surroundings of his house are of very small account. Monarchs have been miserable in palaces, and peasants have been happy in cottages. I am sure that I am right in saying that the happiest Christians are able to work the best for their Lord. Sorrow doubtless tends to sharpen the soul, as the hard grindstone does the knife; but no cutler sends home the knife till he has used the polishing leather, and so should we shine with a bright polish of thankful joy, even though we have felt the hard grindstone of affliction.
The main reason why I advocate cheerfulness is, thatIT ALWAYS RECOMMENDS THE TRUTH TO THOSE WHOM YOU WISH TO IMPRESS WITHIT. If you stand up and say, with a miserable face and a whining voice, it is a most blessed thing to be in Christ Jesus, observers will form their judgment rather by your face than by your words; and after you have been. commending the religion of Jesus, they will mentally make this note—” And a blessed specimen of it you are! From what we see in you, its ways are not the ways of pleasantness, and its paths are’ not the paths of peace.”
The story goes, that two naughty youngsters. were warned by their mother that they would never go to heaven, if they continued to be such bad boys; whereupon the saucy young sinners replied that they did not want to go to heaven at all. When their. mother very sadly wanted to know why they did not wish to go to heaven, they said—“Ma, won’t grandpa go to heaven?” “Yes, dears; your dear grandpapa is a very holy man.” “Then, please, we don’t want to go to heaven if grandpa is to be there; for he would begin to scold us, and say — ‘There’s those horrid boys again,’“ I will be bound to say that such a grandpa’s teaching would not be very effective with his grandchildren; but when a kin. d, cheerful grandpapa—and there are many such—takes the little one on his knee, and begins to talk of Jesus in gentle words and with loving glances, Master Johnny never forgets it. The gospel tunnels its way into the heart with kindness as its boring rod. No matter what good truths you have to teach, no one will thank you if you do not speak kindly. Mrs. Prosser’s parable of the east wind sets this forth admirably; I must tell it you. “Why do you shrink from me?” said the east wind, angrily, to the flowers. The primrose, for answer, crept under its leaves; the snow- drop, bending lower, laid her head sadly on the earth; the opening buds closed again, and the young and tender green leaves curled up, looking dry and withered. “Why do you fly from me?” said the east wind, reproachfully, to the birds. For answer, the chaffinch fluttered into a bush; the warblers kept close to their half-made nests; the robin hid under the window-sill; and the sparrows huddled into their holes. “Ungrateful!” howled the east wind. “Do I not fill the sails of treasure-ships, that bring balmy spices, shining merchandise, and all the precious gifts of far-off lands? The gold, the silver, the gems of earth and of ocean, are they not wafted by me to these shores? Yet love never greets me. I find a barren land and a reproachful silence wherever I come.” “Ah, my stern brother,” replied the sun, struggling for a moment through a leaden sky, “read aright the reason of your reception. Who brings the piercing blast and destructive blight? who hides the azure of the heavens, and dims the beauty of the earth? who tries to veil me with impenetrable gloom, so that I can no longer bid the world rejoice? Is not this your work? Riches you may bring, but the gifts of your hand cannot atone for your harsh voice and unloving nature. Your presence inspires terror and spreads unhappiness, and where fear is love is never seen.” When. you have to distribute your tracts, or visit from house to house, or to teach a class of boys or girls, prefer sugar to vinegar for your breakfast. Vinegar did, according to very doubtful history, soften’ the rocks for Hannibal, but it will not soften hearts for you. There are more flies caught with honey than with vinegar. Better to go forth with a sweet smile upon your face and with gentleness written across your countenance than to be morose, stern, and uncivil; for if you are the latter, you belie with your face what you say with your tongue. My friend, the late Judge Haliburton, once invited me to visit him, saying in his humorous way, that if my clock was out of order, a few days with the clockmaker might be good for me. Now he is gone from among us, but I shall venture’ to give a little bit of his Yankee talk to help to set some of your clocks in order. Under the name of Sam Slick he gave us a ‘great deal of very useful truth, in a form perhaps a little too broad, but never lacking in vigor. I must repeat to you very much in Slick’s own style the story of the Rev. Joshua Hopewell’s apple trees, which nobody ever meddled with, and I shall hardly need to make an application. “The old minister had an orchard of most particular good. fruit, for he was a great hand at buddin, graftin, and what not, and the orchard stretched right up to the road. Well, there were some trees hung over the fence. I never see such bearers, the apples hung in ropes, for all the world like strings of onions, and the fruit was beautiful.
Nobody touched the minister’s apples, and when other folks lost their from the boys, his as always hung there like bait to a hook; but there never was so much as a nibbling at ‘era. So I said to him, one day, ‘ Minister,’ said I, ‘ How on earth do you manage to keep your fruit that’s so exposed, when no one else can’t do it no how?’ ‘Why,’ says he, ‘They are dreadful pretty fruit, aren’t they?’ ‘I guess,’ said I, ‘There aren’t the like on ‘em in all Connecticut.’ ‘Well,’ says he, ‘I’ll tell you the secret, but you needn’t let on to no one about it. That are row next the fence I grafted in myself, I took great pains to get the right kind, I sent clean up to Rexberry, and away down to Squaw-neck Creek.’ (I was afeer’d he was agoin for to give me day and date for every graft, being a terrible long-winded man in his stories.) ‘So,’ says I, ‘ I know that, minister, but how do you preserve them?’ ‘Why, I was agoin to tell you,’ said he, ‘ when you stopped me.’ ‘ That are outward row I grafted. myself, with the choicest I could find, and I succeeded. They are beautiful, but so dreadful sour no human soul can eat them. Well, the boys think the old minister’s graftin has all succeeded about as well as that row, and they search no farther. They snicker at my griffin, and I laugh in my sleeve, I guess, at their penetration.’“ It would seem as if certain sour professors had taken a leaf out of the old minister a book, and had planted the garden of the Lord all round with the sharpest fruit to prevent the young from tasting the goodly fruit of the tree of life; if such be their aim they succeed admirably, but as it is our desire to bring many to feed upon the blessed fruit, let our trees near the road bear as pleasant apples as an earthly garden can yield. And now I can fancy some of you saying, “Yes, it is very easy to tell us to be cheerful; but how can we be so when we have so many difficulties, so many crooks in our lot, so many crying children at home and bad debts abroad.;:” May I escape your anger if I observe that I have often noticed that; many of the most cheerful people are those who have the most trials and troubles; while, on the other hand, many who are dull and heavy are those who, in the judgment of all but themselves, might well be envied. When children cry who have nothing to cry for, one could almost wish they had. There are tradesmen who save money, and yet never own to prosperity. God increases their wealth, but they still moan over their supposed poverty. I have known some who hive grown rich enough to retire, and yet they have been, according to their own account, losing money ever since they began business, although they started with nothing! They calculate their balance on a most amusing theory; they say they ought to have gained a certain sum, and then they set down what falls short of their expectations as so much loss, and with this they worry themselves and torment others! If we could get all our brethren out of a murmuring spirit,—and methinks they ought to abjure it at once,—they would very soon find that, resting upon God, looking to Christ, and being sustained by the Holy Spirit, their troubles would teach them patience, and they would praise God even in the worst periods of life, if “worst preludes” indeed there be to those for whom “all things work together for good.”
Bells for the horses, then, and there is no lack of metal to make them with!
Turn to your own experience, and to God’s Word. Think of the goodness of God in the past, and of the promises of God as to the future. remember that you are still a child in the divine family; that the mercy-seat is open still; that Christ’s precious blood is still able to cleanse; that the Holy Spirit still worketh in us, to will and to do of the Master’s good pleasure; that there is, beyond this little life, a world to come, brimming with happiness and blessedness. Surely these bells will ring in your ears with a holy melody. Get every now and then a season of quiet; and sometimes enjoy the stillness of some rural retreat. You country people are highly favored to have quiet haunts so near you; but you citizens should spend your holidays less in fashionable mobs, and more in communion with nature. You must get out of the world’s din if you would renew our cheerfulness. I have had an empty seat set for you in my engraving by the side of a rill, which ripples among the stones in the midst of a grove. Such places are my hospital, my oratory, my armory, my observatory, my earthly heaven.
Beyond all medicine, stimulant, cordial, or lecturing, I commend quiet hours in calm retreats to God’s hardworking servants in order to help their spirits up to the mark. That blessed Spirit who led his servant Paul into Arabia, and Moses into the ,desert, is frequently pleased to bless retirement to the restoration of the believer’s joy and strength. Now, ye workers, as I cease my exhortation, I must repeat the words, “Serve the Lord with joy.”
Imitate the angels “who do his commandment, hearkening unto the voice of his word,” and at the same time, “with songs and choral symphonies, day without night circle his throne *” rejoicing. Let your every service be a song, and every act of teaching others be a thanksgiving unto God; so shall your own life be blessed, God be honored, and souls be saved. —C. H.S.SWIMMING IRON AND SINKING PETER
“The iron did swim.”—2 Kings 6:9.
THE, ax-head seemed hopelessly lost, and as it was borrowed, the honor of the prophetic band was likely to be imperiled, and so the name of their God to be compromised. Contrary to all expectation, the iron was made to mount from the depth of the stream and to swim; for things impossible with man are possible with God. I knew a man in Christ but a few years ago who was called to undertake a work far exceeding his strength. I; appeared so difficult as to involve absurdity in the bare idea of attempting it. Yet he was called thereto, and his faith rose With the occasion; God honored his faith, unlooked. for aid was sent, and the iron did swim.
Another of the Lord’s family was in grievous financial straits, he was able to meet all claims and much more if he could have realized a certain portion of his estate, but he was overtaken with a sudden pressure; he sought to friends in vain, but faith led him to the unfailing Helper, and lo, the trouble was averted, his footsteps were enlarged, and the iron did swim. A third had a sorrowful case of depravity to deal with. He had taught, reproved, warned, invited and interceded, but all in vain. Old Adam was too strong for young Melancthon, the stubborn spirit would not relent.
Then came an agony of prayer, and before long a blessed answer was sent from heaven. The hard heart was broken, the iron did swim. Beloved reader, what is thy desperate case? What heavy matter hast; thou in hand?
Bring it hither. The God of the prophets lives, and lives to help his saints.
Believe thou in the Lord of hosts! Approach him pleading the name of Jesus, and the iron shall swim; thou too shalt see the finger of God working marvels for his people. According to, thy faith shall it be unto thee, and yet again the iron shall swim. “Beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” — Matthew 14:30. Sinking times are praying times with the Lords servants. Peter neglected prayer at starting upon his venturous journey, but when he began to sink his danger made him a suppliant, and his cry though late was not too late.
In our hours of bodily pain and mental anguish, we find ourselves as naturally driven to prayer, as the wreck is driven upon the shore by the waves. The fox hides to its hole for protection; the bird flies to the wood for shelter; and even so the tried believer hastens to the mercy seat for safety. Heaven’s great harbor of refuge is All-prayer; thousands of weather-beaten vessels have found a haven there, and the moment a storm comes on, it is wise for us to make for it with all sail. Short prayers are long enough. There were but three words in the petition which Peter gasped out, but they were sufficient for his purpose, they reached the ear of Jesus and his heart too. Not length but strength is desirable. A sense of need is a mighty teacher, of brevity. If our, prayer; had less of the tail feathers of pride and more wing they would be all the better. Verbiage is to devotion as chaff to the wheat. Precious things lie in small compass, and all that is real prayer in many a long address might have been uttered in a sentence as short as that which burst from the soul of the sinking apostle.
Our extremities are the Lord’s opportunities. Immediately a keen sense of danger forces an anxious cry from us the ear of Jesus hears, and with him car and heart go together, and the hand does not long linger. At the last moment we appeal to our Master, but his swift hand makes up for our delays by instant and effectual action. Are we nearly engulfed by the boisterous waters of affliction? let us then lift up our souls unto our Savior, and we may rest assured that he will not suffer us to perish. When we can do nothing Jesus can do all things; let us enlist his powerful aid upon our side, and all will be well.
C. H. S.
LIFE is frequently called a maze, and rightly so. Its many twistings, windings, changes, and mysteries, entitle it to be classed among the most complicated of labyrinths. To find the center of true bliss is the object of every man, but few are happy enough to enter it. They journey for a little season in a way which seems to be right, and on a sudden they are brought to a dead halt, and are sorrow. fully compelled to retrace their steps.
Thousands waste all their lives in useless wanderings, and die disappointed men, to be for ever shut out from buss, and shut in with misery and despair.’ There is a clue, a sure and simple clue, but the most of men despise it and run on, proudly relying on their own wit to lead them aright; while those who regard it, though their way is full of windings, yet obtain a sure entrance into the place of their desires. Reader, do you know the clue?
God himself has spoken the great secret. It is one word, “FAITH,”—faith in Jesus for pardon, faith in the Father for providential provision, faith in the Holy Spirit for all grace. In ordinary pathways men walk by sight; but in the way of life, if we would prosper, we must walk by faith. God is unseen, but he is ever near to those who trust him. His promises are sure, and he is ever ready to fulfill them. He hears and answers the prayers of believing souls. There is reality in his presence, and true support in his comforts. In sorrow for sin, though no priest is heard and no cleansing blood is seen, yet Jesus is at the right hand of all who rest their souls upon him, and he gives complete remission and perfect peace. In times of great distress, no arm is visible to the eye of the body, but the mighty hand of God is certainly present working out deliverance for his own people. It is hard for flesh and blood to trust in an unseen God; so hard, that it is impossible, until God the Holy Spirit works true faith in us; but where the soul in simplicity believes in God, as he has revealed himself in the Word, joy, peace, safety, and eternal happiness, are the sure results. God’s seeing unseen is no cause for doubt, for the greatest powers in nature, such as gravity and electricity, are equally unseen. Men believe in multitudes of mysteries, about which eye and ear give us no information. Faith in God is, however, most consistent with the soundest reason. In whom should we trust so readily as in the Judge of all the earth, who must do right? Where should a creature be so safe as under ,its Creator’s care? Where so. happy as resting in his love?
Where so accepted as, in God’s own righteousness?: Reader, as a little child, follow the clue of faith without leaning to thine own understanding, and thou shalt thread the maze of life, and reach the center of supreme delight.
PAUL tells us that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strongholds. He probably had in his mind’s eye the corvus, which the Romans employed in destroying fortifications, and certainly it aptly sets forth the work of Christians when attacking the citadels of error. We must sharply grapple the false doctrine, driving the sharp hook of truth between its joints; we must clearly understand the error, and study the Word of God, so as to be able to controvert it. The great corvus of Scripture is a mighty puller down. Then unitedly with earnest tug of prayer and faithful testimony, We must throw down piece by piece the mischievous system of falsehood, be it never so great or high. Stone by stone the wall comes down, it is long and arduous work to destroy error; many hands and hearts must unite, and then with perseverance all must labor and wait. Tracts, sermons, lectures, speeches, prayers, all must be ropes with which to drag the bulwarks down. God’s blessing rests on the faithful endeavors of those who overturn the castles of error, and though their work may not speedily succeed, the great result is sure. A Reformation is as much needed now as in Luther’s day, and by God’s grace we shall have it, if we trust in him and publish his truth. The cry is, “Overturn, overturn, overturn, till He shall come whose right it is.”
Reader, are you doing service in the Lord’s war, which he is now waging?
You know the errors of Rome, are you doing anything to withstand them?
You see the Popery and iniquity of the National Establishment, are you in your measure exposing it? Infidelity is still mighty:, do you contend for God and for his Word? Sin still reigns over millions, do you seek: their salvation? If not, why not? Are you yourself on the Lord’s side? Oh may the grace of God lead you to trust in the great bloodshedding of Jesus, by which he has put away sin; and then may his love constrain you to aid in dragging down the ramparts of evil.
WORK OF THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE HAVING in our January Number spoken of the Pastor’s College in general terms, we proceed to specify what may be regarded as its principal features. These will be found in some respects to harmonize with other institutions of a similar tendency, and in other respects to be essentially different from them. 1. Its object is not to make scholars, but preachers of the gospel. Literary attainments are not undervalued, nor discouraged, but opportunities and means are furnished for their acquirement. Instead, however, of being regarded as the chief object of ambition, they are pursued as means to an infinitely higher end. They are not considered even to be indispensable. The great end as a rule may be better secured with them; but in some instances, without them. We have illustrations of both these in the earliest history of the Church, and in all subsequent ages. The present age we consider to be one that demands earnest and faithful preachers of the gospel, irrespective of literary titles and qualifications. 2. The instruction and maintenance of the students while in the College, with very few exceptions, is gratuitously supplied. Lodgings are provided in families approved for that purpose. 3. The selection of candidates for admission is principally determined by evidences of eminent piety, of adaptation for public teaching, of great zeal for the salvation of souls, and of instances of actual usefulness, so far as upon the best accredited testimony can be ascertained. As many of the applicants are from the Church at the Tabernacle, greater facilities in these instances are afforded, for this purpose. 4. The course of study, as a general rule, is limited to two years. In some eases, where favorable openings for usefulness occur, and suitable qualifications are possessed, this term is shortened; in others, in which studious habits predominate, it is prolonged. The recess from study during each year is less than at other colleges, so that the difference in the period of training is not so great as it appears. The method of instruction too accomplishes more within a given time. There: are advantages in a much longer course of study, but it has also its disadvantages; and the latter tend so powerfully to cool the first ardor for ministerial usefulness and to substitute human learning for Christianity, that they often far outweigh the former. 5. The course of studies is greatly diversified. This will afterwards be described. We mention the fact here as one of the peculiarities of this College. There is scarcely any department of theology, of literature, or of science, that is not more or less brought under notice. Should it be thought that the acquirements upon all these subjects must of necessity, on this account, be very elementary, we hesitate not to say that facts prove it to be otherwise. A larger amount of information may be taken in within a given time, with less fatigue, and with an agreeable variety than without it. It best harmonizes with the laws of the hunt mind, which in their first operation tend to generalization rather than abstraction The habit of concentrating its powers may be too early formed. It has to expand with knowledge before it is contracted and compressed into one long and limited pursuit; or it may never afterwards regain its proper elasticity and breadth. One great evil of collegiate education has been to require an abstracted attention for a long period to one particular subject, before the mind, by general knowledge and the free exercise of thought, has acquired its proper elasticity and force. The consequence has often been, eminence in one department of learning and ignorance in every other. There has been too an incapacity and disinclination, from the effect of premature exhaustion, for every other mental pursuit Such a mental training enfeebles and disheartens the young minister at the very time that he most needs to be strengthened and animated for his work. The highest scholarly attainments were never intended to be reached in youth. It is enough if the foundation be laid for their acquirement in after years. The mind like the tree is formed to put forth its branches before it is laden with fruit; like the bird to learn to fold and unfold its wings, to soar higher and higher, and by degrees to sustain itself long at its highest flight; and like the race-horse to try all its paces on different ground and not in one unvaried course. Let minds be trained for great things at college rather than accomplish them. Let them be inured to all paces for after pursuits, and all uses of the wing for after flight. Let their powers be chiefly exercised and become pliant in that which is to be the chief study of after life, and to which all other studies should be subservient. Let theology, in a word, be the principal study of the professed teacher of theology, and all other sources of information and mental improvement as may become subservient to this, placed within their reach.
Thus much we have said, and much more we think might be added, to vindicate the course of studies adopted at the Metropolitan Tabernacle College from its supposed disadvantages in comparison with that which is time-honored in institutions of a similar kind We appeal not to reason merely, but to facts in relation to the practical working of the two systems.
We have become daily more and more impressed with the conviction that theology should be the principal subject for instruction in a Theological College, and that a diversified course, of all. other studies, prepares the young minister to enter upon his office in the full vigor of his mental powers, and with a capacity for continuing his research into all subjects that may at any time contribute to his own principal design 6. Calvinistic theology is dogmatically taught. We mean not dogmatic in the offensive sense or’ that term; but as the undoubted teaching of the Word of God. “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness.” We hold to the Calvinism of the Bible. Extreme views on either side are repudiated by us. The cross is the center of our system. “To this I hold, and by this I am upheld.” is our motto. This is our stand-point from which we judge all things. We have no sympathy with any modern concealment or perversion of great gospel truths. We prefer the Puritan to modern divinity.
From our inmost souls we loathe all mystic and rationalistic obstructions of the plain and full-orbed doctrines of grace, and foremost of all of justification by the righteousness of Christ and atonement by his blood. We say to every man, “Is thy heart right in this matter as my heart? If it be, give me thine hand” We think it right to be informed of the ground and tactics of the adversaries of these main truths, in order to defend them when it may be absolutely required, but not to be diverted from them. We believe one of the secrets of the success that has hitherto attended the students from this College to be the doctrines they teach, and the manner in which they enunciate them, as though they believed what they say and wished others to believe them too. 7. The manner of tuition is not formal and dictatorial, but familiar and fraternal. The dry syllabus, technical phraseology, laborious writing from dictation, and the necessity of consulting numerous authors upon each subject in hand are avoided, Lectures are delivered in a popular and illustrative, rather than in a scholastic form. Encouragement is given to free inquiry; and discussion within reasonable bounds is permitted. In preparation for the classical and mathematical classes, some close study in private is demanded; but beyond these no severe efforts are required, except such as may be needful for special and individual exercises in the College, or for continued preaching meaning, in their controversial aspect, and in all their practical bearings, in a lively and agreeable manner, and this:, to say the leash is our aim. 8. Extemporaneous speaking is encouraged and required. Great efforts are. made and opportunities are furnished for the improvement of this faculty. It is often called into exercise in the College training, and in public services.
Many stations are provided in the vicinity for this purpose. The reading of sermons is denounced. When Paul said to Timothy, “give attendance to reading,” we do not suppose him to refer to reading sermons. We incline rather to the opinion that they only who preach the Gospel in a free and extemporaneous manner should live of the Gospel. The most natural method of public speaking is that which nature teaches in conversation, in the harangues of savages, in the senate and at the bar. That which is least artificial is surely the most natural; and the proper use of art is to improve, not to violate nature. Subjects require to be studied as much and even more for extemporaneous delivery, only less mechanical labor and less ‘verbal accuracy are needed. We do not want sermons to be books, nor books to be sermons. Greater freedom of speech is allowable from the lips than the pen, and is more desirable too. Extemporaneous speaking with ease and correctness may be acquired by most men with study and practice. For this there is naturally a greater aptitude in some, which is one important prerequisite for the Christian ministry. We confess we shall willingly resign to others the psalm of scholastic attainments and classic elegance, if we can but outlive them in extemporaneous preaching. 9. The Students have access to a large and a well-selected library of both ancient and modern books; and are frequently directed to those which best supply the information they require. Facilities are afforded of laying a good Foundation for libraries of their own at a cheap rate; and loan parcels of such books as are adapted to their work. are periodically provided for them in the stations they occupy. 10. The connection of ;Students with the College after they have left it, and with each other is preserved, as far as circumstances will allow. A College Union embracing all who are and have been its accredited Students has been formed for this purpose; and periodical communications have been established between them. By these means a home feeling with the College is ever afterwards retained, and sympathy, counsel, and hope, in seasons of great difficulty and trial are secured. 11. A devotional spirit is carefully cherished, and many opportunities are afforded for its exercise. The engagements of each day are commenced and concluded with prayer. A Prayer-meeting is held one afternoon in the week, in which particular cases of Students in the College and of those who have left it are specially noticed. To the element of devotion we are much indebted for the internal prosperity of the College, and for the support it derives from those who are without. It is our chief’ defense front disagreements, from envy and jealousy, from the evil effects of adverse criticism, and from that levity of spirit and conduct which has often embittered the recollections of College life in others 12. The relation of the College to a large and active Church, by which it is principally sustained, and which takes a lively interest in its welfare is one special means of its prosperity. The intercourse of the Students with the Members of the Church contributes much to their social and their spiritual welfare. The officers of the Church cheer them by their kindness and aid them by their counsel. A familiarity with Church discipline is acquired, and with all the appliances by which a flourishing Church is sustained and enlarged, which is treasured up for future use, and supplies what has hitherto often proved to be a serious deficiency in a College education for the pastoral office. 13. To the superintendence of the Pastor, who is also the President of the College, with whom it originated and upon whose responsibility it is sustained, the prosperity of the College, so far as human instrumentality is concerned, is mainly to be attributed. Much as he has been honored in other respects, he looks upon this as his greatest work. It has demanded his greatest faith and most earnest prayers, and they have been amply repaid.
The care of its maintenance and direction of its honor and usefulness sometimes presses heavily upon him, but as his trials on its account abound, his consolation abounds also. He sees in it his commission to win souls to Christ extended far beyond his own personal ministry, or the influence of his printed discourses. His counsels and example are a continual stimulus to activity and zeal both to the Students and Tutors. He is the personal and familiar friend of each one. No dissension between Tutors and Students or principals and dependents is known. No deference is required by any that. is, not spontaneously given. From the highest ‘to the lowest all are ruled by love. These are the principal features of our College. We shall next, as opportunity occurs, give some account of the course of studies that is regularly pursued.
SPURGEONISM AMR. M.COIT TYLER writes to the New York Independent as follows :— “One word about Spurgeonism in general. Silently, but. rapidly, within. the pale of thin great Baptist sect in England, and covering all the land with its network of moral power, there is being formed a distinct body of Spurgeonite preachers,—energetic young men trained in Spurgeon’s college, imbued with it Spurgeon’s intense spirit, copying with an unconscious but ludicrous fidelity even the minutiae of Spurgeon’s manner of speech, proud of their connection with Spurgeon’s name, and in constant communication with the ‘Head Center’ in London. More and more is Spurgeon separating himself, from the general organization of the religious world, and even of the Baptist denomination, and concentrating his work upon his immense Church, his College, and the Churches throughout the kingdom that have taken his pupils for pastors. If this goes on another twenty years, Spurgeonism will be a vast organic and wondrously vitalized, body; and, should circumstances, warrant, this body may, as many intelligent Baptist ministers think probable, assume the name of its founder, and Spurgeon follow the example of Wesley, by founding a sect. He is certainly showing much of Wesley’s executive and organizing capacity.” The paragraph shows how little Mr. Tyler knows of us, and how greatly “many intelligent Baptist ministers” defame us. There is no word in the world so hateful to our heart as that word Spurgeonism, and no thought further from our soul than that of forming a new sect. Our course has been, and we hope ever will be. an independent one; but to charge us with it from the general organization of the religious world, and even of the Baptist denomination, is to perpetrate an unfounded libel. We. preach no new gospel, we. desire no new objects, and follow them in no novel spirit.
We love Christ better than a sect, and truth better than a party, and so far are not denominational, but we are in open union with the Baptists for the very reason that we cannot endure isolation, lie who searches all hearts knows that our aim and object is not to gather a band around self, but to unite a company around the Savior. “Let my name perish, but let Christ’s name last for ever,” said George Whitfield, and so has Charles Spurgeon said a hundred times. We aid and assist the Baptist Churches to the full extent of our power, although we do not restrict our energies to them alone, and in this those Churches ax far enough from blaming us. Our joy and rejoicing is great in the fellowship of all believers, laid the forming of a fresh sect; is work which we leave to the devil, whom it befits far more than ourselves. It is true that it has long been in our power to commence a new denomination but it is not true that it has ever been contemplated by us or our friends. We desire as much as possible to work with the existing agencies, and when we commence new ones our friends must believe that it is with no idea of organizing a fresh community.