« ElőzőTovább »
Oh, sunshine is a glorious thing! The lamb says so by his skipping, the lark by his warbling, the gnat by his dancing, the bee by his happy buzz, and the butterfly by his fluttering wings. Men, women, and children, say the same thing, and, indeed, all creation, by its rejoicing, seems to cry aloud, wbat a glorious thing is sunshine!
How good is God, and how merciful to let the sunshine fall on the evil as well as on the good. It is said in his holy word, “ Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun," Eccl. xi. 7. And it says also, that in heaven neither sun nor sunshine will be wanted. “ There shall be no night there ; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever," Rev. xxii. 5.
I have now said a great deal about sunshine, and I might say a great deal more; for, beside the sunshine that is now lighting up the world, there are many other different kinds ; there is the sunshine of affection, the sunshine of peace, the sunshine of hope, and the sunshine of joy. It is much to have our earthly pathways lit up with the sunshine of the skies; but oh, how much more, when the gloom of this world shall have passed away, to enjoy the sunshine of eternal glory!
How simply and beautifully has Abdel Kader, of Ghilon, impressed us with the love of truth, in a story of his childhood. After stating the vision which made him entreat of his mother to allow him to go to Bagdad, and devote himself to God, he thus proceeds :
“I informed her of what I had seen, and she wept; then taking out eighty dinars, she told me that I had a brother, half of that was all my inheritance ; she made me promise when she gave it to me, never to tell a lie, and afterwards bade me farewell, exclaiming, 'Go, my son, I consign thee to God; we shall not meet until the day of judgment. I went on well, till I came near Hamadam, when our sofillah was plundered by sixty horsemen. One man asked me what I had got. Forty dinars,' said I, "are sewed under my garments.' He laughed, thinking, no doubt, I was joking with him. • What have you got?' said another. I gave him the
When they were dividing the spoil, I was
called to an eminence where the chief stood. perty have you, my little fellow ?' said he. "I have told two of your people already,' I replied; “I have forty dinars sewed in my garrnents.' He ordered them to be ripped open, and found my money.
And how come you,' said he, with surprise, to declare so openly what had been so carefully concealed ?' 'Because,' I replied, “I will not be false to my mother, to whom I have promised I will never tell a lie.' • Child,' said the robber, 'hast thou such a sense of duty to thy mother at thy years, and am I insensible, at my age, of the duty I owe to my God ?--Give me thy hand, innocent boy,' he continued, that I may swear repentance upon it.' He did so. His followers were alike struck with the scene. You have been our leader in guilt,' said they to their chief, be the same in the path of virtue;' and they instantly, at his order, made a restitution of their spoil, and vowed repentance on his hand.”
History of Persia.
PETER, THE NEGRO SHIP MISSIONARY. A MINISTER of the gospel has recorded the following account of one who, as we speak of a home missionary and a foreign missionary, may well be called the ship missionary. The
negro, of whom I am about to tell, was steward of a vessel which was a regular trader between one of our ports in North America and Liverpool. In this vessel I engaged a passage on my return to iny native country. I soon found that neither the captain nor my fellow-passengers would afford me that assistance in my Christian walk which the feebleness of my infant steps at that time so much required. The first few days of the voyage were more than irksome, and I was often with sadness reminded of my late neglected privileges of Christian worship and Christian communion. One day, however, I overheard the captain speaking in terms of the highest commendation of his black steward; but adding, that he was so addicted to praying and singing psalms, that he had often threatened to build a steeple over his steward's pantry or cabin: the captain, I grieve to say, and all my fellow-passengers, were scoffers and blasphemers. This conversation seemed to put new life in me, and I hoped that there was one at least on board with whom I might converse respecting the things which pertain to our everlasting I had observed the meekness and kind attention of the steward; but had not expected to discover a brother in Christ in one whose office and manner of life seemed so uncongenial to the growth of pure religion. After what I had heard, I speedily made myself known to him as one who was under the same guidance, and I hoped travelling the same road as himself; and many were the happy hours I spent, many the pure lessons of gospel wisdom I received in that little spot, which the captain, in his scorn, had described as worthy of a steeple. But the benefit I derived from my negro brother did not stop here; he not only preached the word to me in his little cabin, but was instant in season, and out of season, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting me, with all long-suffering and doctrine. I was then but very young in the family of Christ, and was often much inclined to deny my Master in the presence of his enemies; but never, after my first interview with Peter, did I seem to acquiesce in the sentiments of my ungodly companions, when ranged round the cuddy table, or shrink from reproving the profane expression, without a word of Christian counsel from my faithful brother. I think I see him now as he waited upon us at table, casting upon me the pitying and sorrowful eye, when he found me ashamed of my Master and his cause. He would afterwards seize the first opportunity afforded him of speaking to me alone, and would always commence his address (knowing that the voice of conscience was heard within), in these words, ' Ah! Massa, no get peace that way ;' Massa no get peace by being ashamed of Jesus.' One could not be displeased with the reproof, however troublesome so faithful a monitor might at times appear, his manner being so very respectful, and at the same time his affectionate interest so apparent. But I found I was not the only object of his Christian labours on board the vessel ; his master (the captain), the other passengers, and every member of the ship's company, heard from the lips of Peter, at one time or another, the words of eternal life. His consistency and open confession of the truth caused his exhortations to be received without offence, and to be listened to with attention. All respected pious Peter, and he einbraced all within the circle of his charity. People could not but love him, especially one who, like myself, had so largely been blessed through his instrumentality. I often thought of his trying situation, exposed so continually to the close contact of persons so notoriously addicted to blasphemous and evil conversation as are the common sailors, especially when accustomed to refined reflection, it became necessary to communicate moral and religious instruction by actions and observances, and to address their reason through the medium of their senses. The people of Israel, at the time they came out of the land of Egypt, having been long surrounded by idolatry, and in a state of depression and slavery, were a people, we have the utmost reason to believe, of very gross conceptions, deeply sunk in carnality and ignorance; a nation peculiarly disqualified to receive any lasting impression from didactic discourses, or from any sublime system of instruction. Their minds were in an infantine state; and Divine wisdom was imparted to them,—not in that form which was best in itself, but in that in which they were best able to bear it: and being very much the creatures of sense, religious principles were communicated through the medium of sensible images. Thus they were reminded of the eternal difference between right and wrong, between actions innocent and criminal, by the distinction of animals and meats into clean and unclean. Their attention was called to a reflection on their guilt, on their just desert of destruction, and of the necessity of a real expiation of sin hereafter to be made in the person of the Saviour, by the institution of sacrifices, without the shedding of whose blood there was no remission. To convince them of the inherent defilement attached to sin, and of the necessity of being purified from it by a method of God's devising, it was enjoined that several incidents, such as touching a dead body, the disease of leprosy, and some others, should be considered as polluting the person whom they befell, in consequence of which they were pronounced unclean, and separated from the camp and the tabernacle. In allusion to the ceremonial uncleanness contracted by touching a dead body, St. Paul, that infallible interpreter of the import of the Mosaic law, styles evil dispositions “dead works." « For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God,” Heb. ix. 13, 14.
THE LOVE OF CHRIST. The apostle Paul says, (2 Cor. v. 14,) “ The love of Christ constraineth us.” What is meant by this “ love of Christ ? ” Does it mean the love of Christ for sinners, or the believer's love to Christ? The former appears to be the prinary meaning of these words, but the latter is also included in them. But to know that this passage may have these two senses does not explain the mystery of what is meant by the love of Christ. How are we to get to the bottom of this wondrous expression? How are we to get to the top of this chain let down from heaven, how ascend to view that almighty hand which upholds it? Jacob saw a ladder that reached from earth to heaven; and David tells us of " a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God.” We must by faith ascend that stream, we must mount that ladder, in the joint nature of Christ's person, till we come to the source and spring,- the grand original of all things, the infinite, the everlasting, the Almighty God.
“ God is love." This brings us at once to the top of the ladder, to the source of the stream, and reveals to us the origin of love in the bosom of the Eternal. Essentially and practically, “God is love:" this is God's nature, and there is no other word in the language of man that can describe the moral beauty and glory of God but the word 6 love."
God cannot but be true to his own nature. He loved man, even after man had fallen : he loved the person of the sinner, although he hated his sin. This glorious attri. bute of God cannot be let or hindered by any other of his attributes ; still less can it be interfered with by anything on the part of angels or of men. The same love that had been in exercise from all eternity between the persons of the adorable Trinity, the same love that rested with complacency on man in his innocence, rested upon man with pity after the fall. God is incapable of hating any of his creatures, for “God is love." While maintaining his justice, he still remembered mercy towards offending man; and as the mists of earth do not extinguish the rays of the sun, so neither did the sin and corruption of man arrest the “bright beams of the love of God.”
“God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," John iii. 16. Oh words of unspeakable comfort, and, at the same time, of unfathomable depth! We