« ElőzőTovább »
One day when Rowland Dunn was looking over a large parcel of new books that had just arrived from the Sunday school, he asked some of the elder boys which they liked best? One liked one book best, and another another, but John Holt, who was standing among them, picked up a Bible, saying, 66 This book is worth all the others put together.” “ hope you will always think so," replied Rowland; “ keep to that, and you will do.”
And now, my reader, if you think that I have said enough about Rowland Dunn, you will give me leave, perhaps, to speak a word to yourself
. Whether you happen to be a man or a woman, a boy or a girl; whether your parents are rich or poor, or, indeed, whether you have parents at all, or are a friendless orphan, does not matter, for whatever you are, you are a sinner, and stand in need of a Saviour. Listen then, to me, for perhaps we may make the saying of Rowland Dunn useful.
If you are wilful in your disposition, and more fond of taking your own way than of being guided by your parents and friends, you are laying up for yourself a great deal of trouble. In such a case I dare not say to you, keep to that and you will do, for by keeping so mistaken a course, shame, and disappointment, and sorrow will come upon you.
66 Chil. dren, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right,” Eph. vi. i.
If you practise deceit, hiding your faults instead of confessing them; for God's word says, “Confess your faults one to another,” Jas. v. 16;—if you tell untruths, speaking falsely instead of speaking truly, “ Lying lips are abomination to the Lord,” Prov. xii. 22;—if you do these things, I cannot say, keep to that and you will do, for such a way of going on would be sure to be your undoing. The deceiver deceives himself, and the utterer of falsehood shall be despised.
If you so far forget yourself as to be idle, to neglect your book or your work, to quarrel with your companions, and to take God's holy name in vain, I must not say, keep to that and you will do, for,
Bad conduct ever leads to ill;
It always did, and always will." If you are trifling and careless in the house of God ; if you pay no attention to prayer, and think a great deal of this world, and very little of the next. I dare not encourage you with the saying of Rowland Dunn. But if, on the contrary, you are humble, teachable, confessing your faults, living in love with those around you, honouring your parents, fearing God, and reading his holy word; if you are valuing the sabbath, and trusting for salvation to Jesus Christ alone, who died on the cross for sinners ; if you are pursuing such a course, oh how gladly shall I say, “Keep to that, and you will do."
I have now repeated Rowland Dunn's favourite saying over and over so often, that I think you can hardly forget it. Rowland made a good use of it, and I hope you will make a good use of it also. If ever you should see your acquaintances or friends doing wrong, never think lightly of the matter, for a little error in the beginning may lead to a great sin in the end. When you see them acting as they ought to act, help them forward all you can, encourage them ; say to them, that is right, I hope you will always go on in the same way; keep to that, and you will do.
THE BRANCH. The prophet Isaiah speaks of a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch that should grow out of his roots, upon whom the Spirit of the Lord should rest. The idea appears to be taken from a flourishing tree, springing, growing, and bringing forth branches; or rather, from a tree cut down, out of whose roots should arise a scion or shoot, that God would bless and prosper. The Saviour himself adopts the similitude, and to express the absolute dependence of his people on himself, declares that he is the Vine, and that they are the branches, deriving sap from him.
Under this natural image, there appears a beautiful illustration of the relation that subsists between Christ and his people. All the fruits of righteousness, with which believers are filled, are, by Christ Jesus, to the glory and praise of God. They, like so many dependent boughs, derive from him, the emphatical Branch, all their life, strength, and nourishment; nor can they vegetate a bud, or produce a leaf, a blossom, or a fruit, but in him, and by him. And, as is the tree, so is the production. If the root be holy, so will the branches. The branches of Christ produce fruits, that bear a likeness to the nature of Christ. It is impossible to be in Christ without producing fruit; for there are no barren branches in him. Christ is not a cumber-ground, nor may his people be such. His life virtually feeds them with life, and because he lives, they shall live also. He has done every work for them that was requisite to make them alive unto God; and he does every work in them that is necessary to keep them so. He shall bear the glory, (says the prophet,) to him indeed all glory is due, and they shall be glorious in him, that God may be all in all.
The stock of man became dead and corrupt through the fall. Sometimes a branch appears, that seems to discover life and to bear fruits; but when these are tasted and tried, however fair to the eye, like the imaginary apples of Sodom, they are altogether filth and ashes within. Nor are rotten trees more replete with vermin, or less capable of being applied to a good purpose, than the nature of man is unfitted, while overrun with corruptions, for the intrinsic acts and intentions of righteousness and truth. This is a just though a humbling picture of man, nor can he possibly recover himself from this dreadful state, any more than a rotten tree can renew its former vigour, or give itself the life which it enjoyed before. But though this decay of human nature from all true holiness, is declared by the Scriptures and is visible to every eye; yet, because a luxuriant gourd twines round the stock, or some baneful ivy invests the branches with green,
careless observers have fancied the tree to be alive, and have admired the specious verdure without, insensible or regardless of the death within. True it is, though man's heart became dead to God, and the things of God, through the fall, pride and presumption were then quickened, and are the barren ivy, and the bitter gourd, which yield all the ornament and all the fruit which he possesses, or indeed desires to know. The axe must be laid to the root of these ; and every plant which the Father of mercies hath not planted, must be rooted out before the tree can be recovered to life, or, when recovered, bring forth its fruit unto God.
The house of David was cut down very low indeed, when Christ sprang
from it. He would not appear from the lineage of David till that lineage was upon a level with the lowest of the people. He made himself of no worldly reputation, because he sought no more in this world, than by what means he might gather his people out of it. All was humiliation and degradation in Christ, while he lived upon earth, that by overcoming all the causes of that humiliation he might raise up his people with himself to the highest pitch of glory. Thus, this Branch of the root of Jesse rises higher and spreads wider than the original tree, and though it sprang, in one sense, at first from the earth, it hath raised its top to the throne of God, and its leaves are for the healing of the nations.
RURAL ASSOCIATIONS. WHERE an ardent love of nature exists, rural associations are easily called forth, even in the midst of winter. Though pent up in a narrow street, and breathing city smoke, a sight, a sound, an expression, or a thought, will bear us away to the primroses.
Hills ! Why the very word makes me put my hand to my hat, lest it should be blown from my head by the gusty wind. I am standing on a beetling crag, or on the breezy brow of a commanding eminence, where the pure air animates my spirits, and where the extended prospect wakes my wonder, and imparts a thrill of joy.
Valleys ! My foot is already on the soft, cool grass. Peggy, with her milking pail, is singing cheerily among the cows. The thin blue smoke is curling up from goodman Andrew's cottage, and the feathered race are pouring forth their sweetest songs.
Brooks ! I hear the gurgling of the stream, the pleasant ripple of the running waters among the sedge and bulrushes. I see the king-fisher in his green and scarlet plumage, beating against the ground the hapless fish he has taken from the current. The swift-winged swallow is skimming to and fro, and the glowing dragon-fly, in his scaly armour of glittering green and purple, is darting in all directions around.
Fields ! I see them, smell them, enjoy them, revel in them. The fresh upturned earth of the ploughed land; the green meadow daisied and buttercupped to profusion; the blossomed bean-field, the straggling vetch, and the sweet-scented, bossy clover flowers, with a thousand bees and butterflies, are all before me.
Hills and valleys, brooks and fair fields, have set my eyes sparkling and my pulse beating. A song of joy is in my mouth, and a psalm of thanksgiving in my heart. 66 While I live will I praise the Lord : I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being,” Psa. cxlvi. 2. Lanes ! I am among them in all their sequestered loveli
Sweet are their violet banks, and pleasant their hedges of bowery hazels, with ruddy clusters hanging within my reach. The bright-leaved holly smiles on one side, and the silver-barked birch is bending down on the other. is that of the throstle; the chattering twitter that of the piefinch ; and now, a blackbird is winging her way from a hawthorn bush.
Heaths! What a purple expanse is before me, beautified by furze bushes with yellow flowers ! The lapwing is wailing above, and the shaggy donkey is regaling on his thorny thistle in the rough broken ground by the shallow ponds. A hare is scampering to a distant gorse-bush, and I am inclined to scamper too, for freedom and fresh air are mine, and a happy heart is dancing in my bosom.
Woods ! The dense canopy is over my head, and the dark shade of the overhanging boughs is spread around. I feel the deep and delightful solitude, for the prevailing silence is only broken by the
cawing of the crow, the creaking of the swaying tree, the rustling of the dry leaves beneath my foot, and the breezy sea-like sound of the forest foliage.
Waterfalls ! Hark at the melodious music of the crystal stream, as it tumbles from the brook, scattered and broken by the projecting moss-grown stones ! I could listen by the hour to its babbling! I could fancy that my hands were wet with the
spray falling waters, while I gazed on the sparkling sheen of the murmuring cascade!
Lanes and heaths, waving woods and glittering waterfalls ! I am among you, and your sweet, and soothing, and animating influences minister to my delight. Rural associations have filled my heart, and they move me to praise Him who has opened so many fountains of joy. Help me, ye lovers of nature, to praise him! “ Praise ye the Lord! Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord,” Psa. cl. 6.
HOPE. Amidst all our afflictions and complainings, and our complainings are more than our afflictions, and our sins more than both, we are surrounded with mercies, alleviating, compensating mercies.- And Hope is one of them.
Hope may justly be styled the great lever of life; for as the lever elevates bodies which never could be moved by mere inuscular strength, so hope effects that which a known certainty of result would fail to accomplish. Even were that result successful, certainty would in a great measure diminish exertion. It is the standard set before us that produces excellence. Doubts and obstacles whet the faculties, and develop various powers of the mind, consequently the gratification of all the powers to accomplish an object, must be much greater than that derived from the possession of the