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"Built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ
himself being the chief corner-stone."--Eph.ii.20.
THE UNTRODDEN PATH.
A THOUGHT FOR THE NEW YEAR.
BY THE RBV, OCTAVIUS WINSLOW, D.D.
“Ye have not passed this way heretofore."-Joshua iii. 4. How solemn is the reflection that with a new cycle of time commences, with each traveler to Zion, a new and untrodden path. New scenes in history will transpire, new scenes in the panorama of life will unfold, new phases of character will develop, new temptations will assail, new duties will devolve, new trials will be experienced, new sorrows will be felt, new friendships will be formed, and new mercies will be bestowed. How truly may it be said to the pilgrim, journeying through the wilderness to his eternal home, as he stands upon the threshold of this untried period of his existence, pondering the unknown and uncertain future, “Ye have not passed this way heretofore.”
But there is another thought inexpressibly soothing. Untried, untrod. den, and unknown, as that new path may be, it is, each step, mapped, and arranged, and provided for, in the everlasting and unchangeable covenant of God. To Him who leads us, who accepts us in the Son of his love, who knows the end from the beginning, it is no new, or uncertain, or hidden way. We thank Him that, whilst he wisely and kindly veils all the future from our ken, all that future, its minutest event, is as trans. parent and visible to Him as the past. Our Shepherd knows the windings along which he skilfully, gently, and safely leads his flock. He has traveled that way himself, and has left the traces of his presence on the road. And as each follower advances--the new path unfolding at each step-he can exultingly exclaim, “I see the footprint of my Lord; here went my Master, my Leader, my Captain, leaving me an example that I should follow his steps.' "" Oh, it is a thought replete with strong con: solation, and well calculated to gird us for the coming year the Lord knows and has ordained each step of the untrodden path upon which I am about to enter !
Another reflection. The infinite forethought, wisdom, and goodness which have marked each line of our new path, have also provided for its every necessity. Each exigence in the history of the New Year has been anticipated. Each want will bring its appropriate and adequate supply; each perplexity will have its guidance; each sorrow its comfort; each temptation its shield; each cloud its light. Each affliction will suggest its lesson; each correction will impart its teachings; each mercy will con. vey its message of love. The promise will be fulfilled to the letter, “As thy day, 80 shall thy strength be.”
And how blessed to know that all the provisions for the untrodden path is in Jesus. “It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell." All wisdom to guide, all power to uphold, all love to soothe, all grace to succour, all tenderness to sympathize, dwells in Christ. Let us, then, gird ourselves to a fresh taking hold of Christ. We must walk through this year, not by sight, but by faith; and that faith must deal simply and directly with Jesus. “Without me ye can do nothing.” But with his strength made perfect in our weakness, we can do all things. Oh, be this our course and our posture, “coming up from the wilderness leaning on our Beloved.” Living in world of imperfection and change, we must expect nothing perfect, nothing stable in what we are, in what we do, or in what we enjoy. But amidst the dissolving views of the world that “passeth away,” let us take firm hold of the unchangeableness of God. The wheels may revolve, but the axletree on which they turn is immoveable. Such is our covenant God. Events may vary; providences may change; friends may die; feelings may fluctuate; but God in Christ will “know no variableness, neither the shadow of a turning.” “Having loved his own that were in the world, he loved them unto the end." And will it not be blessed to receive each new event of our remaining history as directly under the government and appointment of God ? " He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.” That new thing, be it what it may, which will transpire in your coming history, he will have created for your greatest good and his highest glory.
Reader! if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus, you will enter upon a new stage of your journey by a renewed surrender of yourself to the Lord. You will make the cross the starting-point of a fresh setting out in the heavenly race. Oh, commence this year with a renewed application to the “ blood of sprinkling.” There is vitality in that blood; and its fresh sprinkling on your conscience will be as a new impartation of spiritual life to your soul. Oh, to begin the year with a broken heart for sin beneath the cross of Immanuel I looking through that cross to the heart of a loving, forgiving Father! Be not anxious about the future; all that future God has provided for. “ All my times are in thy hands." Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.” “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.” Let it be a year of more spiritual advance. “Speak to the children of Israel, that they go forward.” Forward in the path of duty; forward in the path of suffer, ing; forward in the path of conflict; forward in the path of labour; and forward in the path to eternal rest and glory. Soon will that rest be reached, and that glory appear. This new year may be the jubilant year of your soul; the year of your release. Oh, spirit-stirring, ecstatic thought
this year I may be in heaven! This year I may be with Jesus, leaning my head upon his breast; my conflict, my sin, my sorrow all over! This year, all the glorious wonders of the upper world may burst upon my view, and I may mingle with apostles and prophets, and martyrs-the
general assembly of the church of the first-born who are written in heaven.” What manner of persons, then, ought we to be in all holy con. versation and godliness? “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed." Reader! if you are not a believer in the Lord Jesus, oh, that
New Year's gift may be a new heart, a renewed mind, the second birth, introducing you to a life for God! The Lord Jesus has solemnly, irrevocably affirmed, that unless you are born again of the Holy Spirit you shall not see the kingdom of God. Let not this New Year be another year spent for self. Think of eternity; think of your solemn account; think of the coming of the Lord,
and prepare to meet him. “Awake, thou that sleepest! arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee life.” Are you won. dering if a wretch so vile as you may hope to be saved? Do you feel the serpent's sting? Do you know the plague of your own heart? Then we have joyful news for you! Throw yourself for acceptance and eternal life upon the infinite merits of Jesus, and you shall be saved. No merit but his, no Intercessor but him, no Mediator but Christ, will avail you. All the saints and angels on earth and in heaven cannot give you peace here, or glory hereafter. Go to God simply and entirely through Christ, breathing no name but the name of Jesus; and God, for Christ's alone sake, will accept, pardon, and save you. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Dear reader, if Christ is in you, and you are in Christ, and these blessed truths are heartfelt truths in your experience, then, may not wish you joy of the New Year into which the hand of the Lord has brought you? The year that is passed has brought you nearer home. The year that has commenced may bring you to that home. There may we, through the everlasting love and sovereign grace of God, at last meet to sing together, Worthy the Lamb that was slain!"
BY TAB REV. P. H. CORNFORD.
"And all ye are brethren." Christianity is Love nothing but Love! It is the sublime principle which originates all the happiness of Eternity, and from which alone real happiness can arise in Time. We see it yet in imperfect developments; like the grey beamings of morning light obscured in mists and shadows, or the buddings of the Spring-time, which bitter frosts retard, and the keen edges of the East wind wound; but its hidden vitality, its resistless, secret energy, ensures the advancement of its displays, until even the wintry-looking world shall appear a paradise without a bound. In every true Christian we find, not only a recipient and a subject, but a fountain, of this power,—a sovereign who wields it upon himself and upon those around him. This is the distinctive feature of the character,--a pecu. liarity of the spiritual nature, which is set like the “seal of the living God” upon the forehead. Between Christians, as such, there is a mutuality of sentiment, of perception, and principle, and emotion, which supplies them with a felt fraternity. Hence the church of Christ is “one family in heaven and earth,” and every obligation connecting the glorious brotherhood is expressed in the injunction, “Love as brethren."
The Christian life has a common origin. It is a fire which God has kindled, a light shed forth from himself, a life his own Spirit has given. There is a direct operation of God upon the heart transforming a man into a Christian, expressive not only of power, but of love, which no other Christian can lightly esteem. There he beholds one whom God's compassion has embraced, in whom it has found a sphere for the exercise of its fulness, a throne on which to exalt itself, a temple it is building and adorning as its peculiar and perpetual habitation. And this is true, whatever may be the external distinctions, the mental or social peculiarities under which we are prone chiefly to regard the individual. Your Christian brother may be very ignorant, and poor, and unpolished; or very wise, and wealthy, and refined. Many of his peculiarities may not suit your tastes, or harmonize with your sense of propriety; and were you not a Christian, these might cause in you dislike towards him, or induce your unguarded condemnation of his entire character ; but so why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ."
Letru8 not, therefore, judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block, or an occasion to fall, in his brother's way.”
Let the consciousness of that fraternity which God has especially constituted, berever within you the basis of candour, forbear. ance, and love, springing into perpetual activity. What though God has garbed his child with poverty, and wintry winds play with his tatters, and whistle and roar boisterously through the crannies of his cot? What if his hands be hardened and coarse, and carry, thickly set, the insignia of his honourable toil? Shall the merely earthly obscure the divine? Can the perishable and flimsy exterior extinguish, or even veil, the glory of that inner nature which mirrors forth the beamings of God's countenance, which has a divine welcoming at the throne of grace? Can it disfigure to your eye the man whom God loves, and with whom he holds habitual communion ?-_We trace, with facility, the obligations which are blended with the earthly ties of a common relationship; what then shall we say of those which are indissoluble, which pass through the heart of the Son of God to the meanest and most imperfect of the christian fraternity, connecting him most intimately with ourselves ? Do we dare to disown the obligation to maintain the sympathetic interest in peculiar honour which such a relation involves ?
'But,” exclaims one, “there are some I cannot love. I do not believe them to be Christians. Many others, indeed, give credence to their professions of Christianity, but I cannot, and í cannot love them.” Here the absence from the heart of the objector of that necessity of loving which distinguishes the Christian, usually creates the difficulty of believing another's professed Christianity. Too often, the least charitable construction which the case will bear first frames the unnecessary judgment, and an entire absence of personal sympathy and fraternal interest, continues the labour of accumulating every shade of suspicion for its substantiation. Granting, however, all that in such cases is usually adduced in extennation of the sin of having no love, it does but aggravate the guilt. If your brother is destitute of that which he supposes himself to possess, the greater is the demand upon your meekness, tenderness, forbearance, and love. Were he an enemy, Christianity necessitates your love to him. Did he curse, and persecute, and despitefully use you, the development of the Christian spirit must rise in proportion to the demand. The child of God imitates his Father in heaven. The beneficent life of the Deity, that which is an eternal and unbounded diffusion of good under every possible form, has its repetition, its new expression, in the life, and lan. guage, and spirit, of every Christian.
The Christian life has also a common principle. There are no intermediate principles between those of entire surrender to Christ, and entire devotion to the present life. “He that is not with me,” saith the Lord himself, “is against me.” One purpose of life characterises all the family of God. Jesus is the common centre of attraction to the whole. Like the central sun to a spiritual system, he imparts a common impulse to all the varied and radient hosts around him, which, in their measure, partake his glory. Some may have nobler capacities wherewith to retain and reflect his lightsome may dwell nearer, and others, less happily, may be farther removed from, his manifestations of grace; but the same influence, derived from him, impels all the mnltitude in their several orbits, whether more swiftly, or more tardily, they pursue their way. Each Christian receives his heart's governing influence from Christ. To him he is a consecrated offering. At his feet he lifts up the suppliant hand and tearful eye. His name is the elasticity of that mystic life which throbs within his heart, circulates amidst the intricacies of every vein, and is , beating, beating evermore, the pulse in every solemn artery to life's latest throe.