Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

heart,” (Acts xv. 9.) which, according to St. John, “overcometh the world,” (1 John v. 4.) which, according to St. James, “is made perfect by works," (James Ü. 22.) and which, according both to the Old Testament and to the New, when it apprehends the righteousness, that is, the active and the passive obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ, as its object, is, as it were, the instrumenti by which the Christian lives for happiness temporally and for salvation eternally. So Habakkuk, “The just shall live by faith.” (ii. 4.) So Paul, “The just shall live by his faith.” (Heb. x. 38.) These glorious doctrines I hold in connection with our beloved Church of England, and with a sincere wish to be a consistent member of that Church, which would manifestly make religion the great business of life, not merely on a Sunday, but also on every day, the while she presents to us, in her Articles and Liturgy, the one great truth, “ Jesus Christ and him crucified as the foundation of Christian faith and obedience."

Manchester, Dec. 1845.

She was

DEATH OF A SUNDAY SCHOLAR. Anna Downes and her two sisters, being left orphans, were taken by their aunt. Anna and one of her sisters. were sent to the Sunday-school, at Clare. naturally a dull scholar, and quite conscious of it. She requested, as a favour, to be removed from the class in which she was first placed, to a lower one; for she said, "I am sure I am not forward enough for this class.” However, by dint of attention and perseverance, she progressed satisfactorily, and her general conduct and demeanour were upon the whole, very good, although no positive symptoms of awakening of mind were evinced, until a short time before the commencement of the illness which terminated her earthly career, at the early age of

According to her own account of the matter, her first alarm of conscience arose from an apparently trivial circumstance; but God's ways are in the great deep. Her aunt was in the habit of taking Anna with her to a

sixteen years.

prayer meeting, which is held in the vestry of the church, at seven o'clock in the morning. On one of these occasions, her aunt observed, as she was rising after prayer, that she was laughing. After they had returned home, her aunt reproved her for it, telling her how wrong it was so to mock God with unmeaning and hypocritical services. She said she could not tell why or wherefore she laughed. But it pleased God to bring home that word of mild reproof, with the mighty power of his Spirit, and thereby to fix the arrow of conviction which led to her thorough conversion from dead works, to serve the living and true God, in spirit and in truth. She said, “I thought a great deal about it, which made me very uncomfortable all the day; and the impression on my mind was, that I had committed a very great sin, and should never be forgiven.” She continued to attend the Sunday-school, and other means of grace, until January, 1845, although sometimes prevented by indisposition from doing so. Her illness then took a more serious aspect, and kept her almost constantly confined within doors, which occasioned her

many

serious regrets, for she said “My teacher has taught me with tears in her eyes, and sought to lead me to the knowledge of Jesus, who died for sinners, and I am sure I am a great sinner." Early in May last, she appeared to be recovering her health, and became so much better, that, on one Sunday, she was permitted to attend the public service in the church once, and appeared to have been much delighted and comforted under the sermon; but as she was leaving the sacred place, she cast a lingering look at it, feeling at the same time a strong impression upon her mind that it was the last time she should be permitted to enter there. And this was indeed a correct impression, for she immediately relapsed; and it now became evident, that the insidious disease had taken a deep seat, and was making rapid inroads into her constitution. The hectic fush, and hollow distressing cough, left no room to doubt what would be the speedy issue. Her delicate frame daily sunk under the pressure of the disease. Her heavenly Father saw good at this stage of her experience, to exercise her with a season of

severe trial, which proved to her as the furnace to the gold, and laid the foundation for that settled peace and joy, which afterwards possessed and filled her whole soul to overflowing. Her aunt observing that her sleep had departed from her, and that her nights were very restless and disturbed, thought it needful to sit up with her until nearly morning. She enquired the cause of her uneasiness; she said, “O! aunt, what a sinner I am; pray for me;" and again, “I am afraid to sleep, lest I should drop into hell." She requested her aunt to send for her dear minister, who was very soon at her bed side, endeavouring to pour into her mind the oil of consolation. At her request he prayed with her, and directed her to look to Jesus the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. This she was soon enabled to do. After a few days of tribulation, she obtained such joy and peace in believing, that she could not describe it. One morning, when her aunt took her breakfast to her bed side, she said, “Oh! aunt, I have had better food than that, to-night, I am so happy.”

“Gentle Jesus, heavenly Lamb,

Thine and only thine I am;
Take my body, spirit, soul,

Only thou possess the whole." She thanked God, that in his kind providence he had brought her under the sound of the Gospel of his dear Son, and the teaching of the Sunday-school; to which she said she was so much indebted, as a means, under God, of good to her soul. She particularly requested to see her dear teacher, that she might thank her for all her kindness to her in the school. When her teacher visited her, she regretted that she was so very ill, that she could scarcely speak to her; but when she left her, she thanked her, and said, “I hope we shall meet in heaven.” She requested also, that she might be permitted to see and speak to some of the neighbours, who lived near her aunt, and when they came, she begged of them to think more about their souls, and to keep the sabbath holy. She was often urging her sisters to pray; she said, “I don't mean to say prayers, I want to hear you groan under the burden of sin, and cry for deliverance.” One day as her pastor was sitting beside her bed, she said, “I hope, sir, when I am buried, you will speak to the Sunday-school children, from the 1st verse of the 14th chapter of John, and tell them how much I feel for their souls.”

When apparently dying, she said, “What a mercy it is that I was led to seek the Lord in time," and with all the strength that she could summon, begged of her sisters to seek him before it was too late.

For the last three days of her life she was quite unable to speak, although quite sensible till the last.

HINTS ON THE INTERPRETATION OF THE

SCRIPTURES.

NO. IV.

Passing by for the present any further notice of the spiritual method of interpretation, discussed in our last, we shall proceed to illustrate a third principle, as important to be borne in mind as either of the two formerthat, the sense of passages of Scripture is to be determined by a reference to the context. Nothing can be more natural or plain than that where subjects are treated of in continuous narration, disputed or ambiguous passages should be explained by their connection with the subject of which they form part. It is a plan of proceeding which suggests itself to the mind without effort, as serviceable in doubtful points. “Let us see, before we take your solution for granted, what is said in the rest of the chapter.” And yet perhaps more errors are built on the violation of this rule than any other. Certain texts are taken apart from their proper connexion, and held up to view as advocating some extreme principle

, contrary to sound doctrine, which a thorough investigation of the context would instantly dissipate. And often do we find particular passages introduced in controversy as supporting unsound views, which when examined connectedly, are found to have no bearing on the subject. To take an illustration which occurs to

me. It is well known that the Quakers consider it to be contrary to Christ's command, and sinful to take an oath in any cause before a court of justice, and they ground their resolution on our Lord's words in Matt. v. " I say unto you, swear not at all.” And St. James's exhortation, “But above all things, my brethren, swear not." Now it must be confessed that these isolated statements, if they are unmodified by the context, directly forbid the practice, and are favourable to the Quakers' hypothesis. But if we examine the whole of the passage in which they occur, we shall find that no such general principle was intended to be laid down, and consequently all scruple as to the unlawful nature of an oath, as far as they are concerned, is removed. Our blessed Saviour was commenting on an exhortation contained in the law, that when men took a vow, attesting it by an oath, they should be careful to pay it. These voluntary vows, in which God is called to witness our determination, are better to be dispensed with: “Swear not at all.” And further, as from this practice there grows a natural tendency in common conversation to call God to attest our resolutions by some solemn form of adjuration, I command “that your communication be yea, yea, and nay, nay.” I shall not argue whether this be an accurate paraphrase of the passage alluded to, but it is clear, from the context, that our Lord's prohibition extends only to two subjects: Ist, voluntary vows made by oath; 2nd, conversations interspersed with the same language. Taking an oath, then, before a magistrate, is a case which is nowhere touched upon, and to which Christ did not refer. The other reference from St. James might also be dissected in the same manner. So too, if the doubtful passage were taken from 1 John üi. “He that is born of God doth not commit sin, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God," and a man were to argue from hence that one characteristic of the true believer is perfect freedom from actual sin; the context, with which this statement stands connected in the end of the first and the beginning of the second chapter, plainly shews that the Evangelist was referring only to the impossibility of a real child of God living in a course of habitual deliberate sin, because

« ElőzőTovább »