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CHURCH OF ENGLAND MAGAZINE.
If she remain single, her virtues will ensure her many friends; if she marry, her husband's esteem and preference will increase with age, and when she "rests from her labours, her works shall follow her."
THE CHURCH.-For the sake of the Church and the world, not less than for our own sakes, let us give diligence to clear up our interest in the Gospel, that "the joy of the Lord may be our strength" in his service. The want of personal assurance not only brings a loss in our own experience, but a hinderance to usefulness within our appointed sphere. Hence our efforts are often powerless in parrying off the attack of "him that reproaches us ;" and our attempts to "strengthen the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees" of our brethren, unavailing. At some times, the dread of the charge of hypocrisy- - at other times, the absence of the only "constraining" principle, "the love of Christ" stops the utterance of the "word of truth," damps our privilege, and obscures our character as a witness of our God and Saviour. Justly, indeed, might he punish our unfaithfulness in the neglect of this spiritual weapon, by forbidding us to speak any more in his name; and therefore, in deprecating this grievous judgment, the child of God, conscious of guilt, will cast himself at the footstool of mercy, "Take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth." Not only, take it not out of my heart, but let it be ready in my mouth for a confession of my Master.-Bridges on the 119th Psalm.
HONOUR GOD'S MINISTERS.-Take heed of that; for then God is dishonoured, when any thing is the more despised by how much it relates nearer unto God. No religion ever did despise their chiefest ministers; and the Christian religion gives them the greatest honour. For honourable priesthood is like a shower from heaven, it causes blessings every where; but a pitiful, a disheartened, a discouraged clergy waters the ground like a waterpot-here and there a little good, and for a little while; but every evil man can destroy all that work whenever he pleases. Take heed; in the world there is not a greater misery can happen to any man than to be an enemy to God's Church. All histories of Christendom, and the whole book of God, have sad records, and sad threatenings, and sad stories of Korah, and Doeg, and Balaam, and Jeroboam, and Uzzah, and Ananias, and Sapphira, and Julian, and of heretics and schismatics, and sacrilegious; and after all, these men could not prevail finally, but paid for the mischief they did, and ended their days in dishonour, and left nothing behind them but the memory of their sin, and the record of their curse.-Bp. Taylor.
LAYS OF PALESTINE.-No. V.
BY T. G. NICHOLAS.
(For the Church of England Magazine.) "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!"-Isaiah, lii. 7. "Go ye, and teach all nations."-Matt. xxviii, 19.
Go! wheresoe'er the light of heaven
Of ransom from eternal death,
Crush'd are the tendrils of the vine
Each scatter'd branch neglected lies:
Go to each far, each distant isle
That glitters o'er the wide expanse,
Of God's approving countenance;
Go! where the glorious sun doth shine
And let their glad hosannahs rise,
Go! stay not, till each fragrant breeze
Of ceaseless gratitude to heaven;
"BE STRONG IN THE LORD."
BY MISS EMRA.
(For the Church of England Magazine.) "BE strong in the Lord, and the power of his might," He leads through the desert, still guiding aright; Complain not though weeds o'er thy wilderness spread, And dark may the cloud be that hangs o'er thy head. Remember the word to the faithful of old :"I will help, I will strengthen, yea, I will uphold; The right arm of my righteousness, that is thy stay, My love is thy pole-star by night and by day.
I chose thee before earth's foundations were laid;
Unfailing my promise, eternal my love,
O, what is the answer? I lie at thy feet;
I cling to thy promise, thy words I repeat;
The Lord will conduct by a way yet unknown,
Safe, safe to eternity, waiting awhile,
THAT call not education, which decries
Such lighter lore, but chiefly holds to view
Thou still hast trod the right way and the best, City of God, my mother! yea, of thee
"Excellent things are said;" nor this the least, That thou thy children giv'st the path to see
Of life, and lead'st them by their God's behest.
VILLAGE-CHURCHES IN ENGLAND.- Blessings on those old gray fabrics that stand on many a hill, and in many a lowly hollow, all over this beloved country; for, as much as we would reprobate that system of private or political patronage by which unqualified, unholy, and unchristian men have been sometimes thrust into their ancient pulpits, I am of Sir Walter Scott's opinion, that no places are so congenial to the holy simplicity of Christian worship as they are. They have an air of antiquity about them, a shaded sanctity, and stand so venerably amid the most English scenes, and the tombs of generations of the dead, that we cannot enter them without having our imaginations and our hearts powerfully impressed with every feeling and thought that can make us love our country, and yet feel that this is not our abiding-place. Those antique churches, those low, massy doors, were raised in days that are long gone by; around those walls, nay beneath our very feet, sleep those who, in their generations, helped, each in his little sphere, to build up our country to her present pitch of greatness. We catch a glimpse of that deep veneration, of that unambitious simplicity of mind and manner, that we would fain hold fast amidst our growing knowledge, and its inevitable remodelling of the whole framework of society. We are made to feel earnestly the desire to pluck the spirit of faith, the integrity of character, and the whole heart of love to kin and country, out of the ignorance and blind subjection of the past. Therefore it is that I have always loved the village-church; that I have delighted to stroll far through the summer-fields, and hear still onward its bells ringing happily; to enter and sit down among its rustic congregation, better pleased with their murmur of responses, and their artless but earnest chant, than with all the splendour and parade of more lofty fabrics.-W. Howitt.
WILLIAM COLLINS.-My last interview was on the 30th day of September, 1815, when, accompanied by Mrs. Bowles, the Rev. Mr. Skinner, and the Bishop of the diocese (Bath and Wells), I again visited the abode of this sole survivor of a whole buried generation of the parish (Uphil in Somersetshire). He was seated near the window, by a small fire, and seemed more collected than when I last saw him, though now turned of ninety years. He instantly remembered me, and pressed my hand, which he held in his for some time, with tears in his eyes. His voice was clear and distinct. His daughter was with him. The inside of the cottage was very neat, and on the table, amongst a few other books, an old Bible was conspicuous, near which stood, most appropriately, an hour-glass.
From Bishop Mant's "Musings on the Church and her Services."
made some religious reflections on the silent sands of life slowly passing away, and on the book which, when these sands are all shed, sets before us the "sure and certain hope of eternal life;" and I never shall forget the words and actions of my most bene vole ut friend bishop, who appeared deeply interested in the scene. "My good old man," he said, with a gentle smile, "in the present days, I fear a bishop's blessing may not be thought so valuable as it has been in ages past; but," placing his hand on the old man's head, he added, in a manner and voice most affecting, "such as it is, it is given most warmly." Piously and placidly, this humble and ancient servant of Christ now waits the end of his long and weary journey upon earth, an "exile hastening to be loosed," in "the full assurance" of "faith" and "hope." Baptised and brought up in the bosom of the Church, from which, in his maturity and in old age, he never departed, we trust that at his last hour, when that awful hour approaches, and his last sand is shed, with his trembling hand clasping the Bible to his heart, through repentance and grace, he may be enabled to lift up his eyes to heaven, and faintly utter, "O death, where is thy sting? grave, where is thy victory?" We looked on his countenance some time in silence, and then departed with a blessing and a prayer. We left his solitary abode not without boding feelings, as, in all human probability, we should see his face no more.-Rev. W. Bowles.
THE SUNDAY-SCHOLAR." One day," said Mr. Robert Raikes, of Gloucester, the institutor of Sundayschools, "as I was going to church, I overtook a soldier just entering the church-door; this was on a week-day. As I passed him, I said it gave me great pleasure to see that he was going to a place of divine worship. Ah, sir,' said he, I may thank you for that.' Me?' said I; 'why I do not know that I ever saw you before.' 'Sir,' said he, when I was a little boy, I was indebted to you for my first instruction in my duty. I used to meet you, at the morning service, in this cathedral; and was one of your Sunday-scholars. My father, when he left this city, took me into Berkshire; and put me apprentice to a shoemaker. I often used to think of you. At length I went to London: and was there drawn to serve as a militiaman, in the Westminster militia. I came to Gloucester last night, with a deserter: and I took the opportunity of coming this morning to visit the old spot; and in the hope of once more seeing you.' He then told me his name; and brought himself to my recollection by a curious circumstance, which happened whilst he was at school. His father was a journeyman currier; a most vile, profligate man. After the boy had been some time at school, he came one day and told me that his father was wonderfully changed; and that he had left off going to the alehouse on Sunday. It hap pened soon after, that I met the man in the street, and said to him, My friend, it gives me great pleasure to hear that you have left off going to the alehouse on Sunday; your boy tells me that you now stay at home, and never get tipsy.' Sir,' said he, I may thank you for it.' Nay,' said 1, that is impossible; I do not recollect that I ever spoke to you before.' 'No, sir,' said he; but the good instruction you give my boy, he brings home to me; and it is that, sir, which has induced me to reform my life.'"-Penny Sunday Reader.
VOL. VII. No. 201.
DECEMBER 31, 1839.
THE VALUE OF PRESENT MERCIES.
We need not penetrate the wilds of countries hitherto unvisited by civilisation, to ascertain the state of man without revelation. For history has recorded the existence of empires where refinement and luxury attained to a degree not to be surpassed, the seat of arts and science, where are found the relics of elegance and taste, which we in vain emulate. But did these attainments teach men the knowledge of the true God? did they put a constraint upon their actions, or teach them to subdue the motions of the flesh? No. And so to the Christian, the contemplation of the unmatched advancement in all that the world calls beautiful and grand, made by a people at so early a period, and while all things around them were enveloped in barbarianism, affords him an illustration of the insufficiency of earthly wisdom; for whatever progress may be made by man in a state of nature, however his intellect may expand and unfold before him the wonders of creation around and above him, yet his reason only, and not his heart, is affected by the advance he makes. Knowledge of the head can never purify that fountain from whence "proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemies, pride, foolishness" (Mark vii. 21, 22.)
OF THE UNITED
But after contemplating the state of man even at the height of his intellectual attainments, after seeing that "the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty," surely the Christian must feel a lively grati
VOL. VII.-NO. CCI.
CHURCH OF ENGLAND
tude to Him who alone has made him to differ, who hath graciously "sent out his light and his truth" to guide his footsteps, and "hath called him out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Pet. ii. 9.)
The state of man is now, living as he may even in countries where the light of the Gospel shines, one of darkness, until he be regenerate and born again by the Holy Spirit; and his condition is equally lamentable and miserable with those who lived before the Christian dispensation, or who have never heard of the glad tidings of the Gospel. Even God himself, his ways, and his providence, are dark and mysterious; and in this condition, miserable indeed, he pursues his voyage on this ocean of life; but how still more miserable his state, should a storm surprise him, and add to the gloominess and blackness of midnight? Shipwreck is dreadful at all times, but how extremely awful when it arrives "when neither sun nor stars are to be seen!" What terror must at such a season fill the minds of the most intrepid, when "tossed with a tempest," and "carried" at one time " up to the heaven, and then down again to the deep," and in fear every moment "lest they should fall into the quicksands!" Such is but a faint sketch of man's condition without the light of revelation; to describe the horrors of such a state, the fears and doubts which must occupy the mind, the troubles of life without the support of the Gospel, would be indeed impossible: enough, however, has been said, in order that the contrast we may draw between the condition of others and our own, may lead us to prize more and more our mercies and privileges, and so possess an increasing gratitude for the
[London: Robson, Levey, and Franklyn, 46 St. Martin's Lane.]
"light and truth" which God has "sent out" among us. Here we may trace a resemblance in our own case to that of the children of Israel. For, as they were led by a pillar of a cloud, so also have we a guide which will conduct us safely through the perils of life; a guide which shall never fail us, for no endeavour of man, no scheme, however ingenious, shall be able to extinguish this candle which the Lord God himself hath lighted; storms may arise, and many a tempestuous blast may assail it, but we have God's own word that heaven and earth shall pass away, but that his word shall not pass away (Matt. xxiv. 35). It shall continue to guide, to cheer, and to bring "every believer to God's dwelling." And as in the case of the Israelites, the pillar was by day a cloud, and by night a "fire to give them light;" so in the passage of the Christian, the Bible will be found adapted to all his wants, qualified to meet difficulties and emergencies, and calculated for every situation and circumstance. This pillar precedes us, and therefore, however rough or circuitous the road, it must enlighten the track behind, which we, as Christians, profess to follow. Should we, however, mark out a path for ourselves, and deviate from the straight and narrow way, we shall assuredly meet with difficulties, dangers, and darkness. We have an instance of this in Num. xiv., when the Israelites "presumed to go up unto the hill-top to fight against the Amalekites, when neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses departed out of the camp" the consequences of this act of disobedience terminated even as Moses had predicted. That incident was doubtless recorded for our admonition, that we may take warning from their conduct, not to undertake any scheme without being assured of possessing the sanction and presence of God; for should we "presume" to act, trusting to our own strength or good resolutions, the event will make us sensible of the folly of our conduct by its sad and certain failure.
The Bible is not only "a light" to guide, but it is also a source of consolation. Every one knows the effect on creation which is produced by the first indication of approaching day; every thing seems to awake into fresh life and vigour, and the whole scene wears an aspect of cheerfulness and joy. And so it must be with all who read and believe the Scriptures; the sad and dreary season of nature's darkness rolls gradually away, and the higher the altitude which the Sun of Righteousness gains in the mind of the Christian, the greater will be the effect of his beams on his heart; they will enlighten and cheer his path; they will disperse the mists of doubt and fear which have gathered about his soul; they
will raise his drooping desires and affections; and they will generate, fructify, and mature all that is good and lovely, to the praise and glory of God. Clouds, however, are often visible on the clearest days; and so the path of the Christian may often be shadowed by adversity; but then, mark the difference be tween the clouds seen when the sun is in the firmament, and those which float at midnight. It has been remarked, that the heaviest and blackest clouds are often gilded; and so the dispensations of Providence, however they may darken the scene around, are sent to accomplish a purpose of love; and as in nature the "clouds drop fatness, and cause the dwellings of the wilderness and the hills to rejoice;" so afflictions are sent " for our profit," and will, if sanctified, produce the end designed; for tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope (Rom. v. 3, 4). The trial of faith worketh patience (James i. 3); and we find this accomplished in the afflictions endured by the Hebrews and by the Thessalonians (Heb. x. 32-34, 2 Thess. i. 4). It is useless, however, to inform persons that are blind, of the glories of the sun, and of the cheerful effects he produces, for they are ignorant of "that thing called light;" and therefore, should we lead them, even at noon-day, over a road thickly strewed with precious stones, they could gain no advantage, for they would pass over and trample them under their feet. This is our situation in regard to the Bible; by nature we are blind, and are little conscious of the rich treasure, far more valuable "than thousands of gold and silver," that lies within our reach. Our constant prayer must therefore be, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may see the wondrous things of thy law" (Ps. cxix. 18); and when this is effected by the Holy Spirit, and not till then, shall we be able to see one truth, however dazzling, or to receive one promise, however consolatory. The Bible is to the carnal mind a sealed book, and Christ and the preaching of the cross foolishness.
But this "light," although it is held out to all, will be found to be a guide to those only who can dismiss every other instructor, and place their implicit trust on this blessed book. And so we find that the testimony of the Lord giveth wisdom unto the simple (Ps. xix. 7). And it is to persons of the same character to whom God's word giveth "light and understanding" (Ps. cxix. 130). The blessed assurances that God will "set up," "help," "guide in judgment and teach his way," are given to "the meek," and to "such as are gentle" (Ps. cxlvii. 6, cxlix. 4, xxv. 8). It is to the godly that there" ariseth up light in darkness" (Ps. cxii. 4). From such passages we may clearly perceive the
darkness, therefore let us not sleep, but let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breast-plate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation" (1 Thess. v.).
state of mind we must possess, if we would benefit by God's promises here, or be partakers of his happiness hereafter: we must "become as little children" (Matt. xviii. 3), and follow the "light" which God has given us, without doubts and misgivings. Satan, however, who is ever busy, may endeavour to persuade us that such a light is unnecessary, and that we need nothing. "They that are well," says our Saviour, "need not a physician, but they that are sick." And who can read the history of man without at once discovering that there is not one who is not sick, even unto death? and therefore, their malady, however secretly it may work, must inevitably prove fatal. But, blessed truth, there is a Physician who is willing to save, to the uttermost, all that come unto God by him; and happy are they who feel their need and wretchedness, and who come and humbly implore assistance and recovery at the hands of God, through Christ Jesus. Let those who do not take the Bible as their rule of faith and conduct, who do not obey its commands, listen to its precepts, or take warning from its threatenings, consider seriously their condition,-let them embrace present opportunities, and at once accept the invitation, "Come ye, and walk in the light of the Lord" THOUGHTS ON HISTORICAL PASSAGES OF (Is. ii. 5); forsake the works of darkness, and abandon for ever the fire and "the sparks which ye have kindled, and by which ye walk" (Is. 1. 11); for the night will soon come, and then the door of mercy will be for ever closed. "Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation" (John ix. 4, Matt. xxv. 10, 2 Cor. 6, 2).
We must "watch and pray," that our religion may not merely consist in profession without practice, or in knowledge without power. And how careful should we be, that our deeds and conversation be not of the nature of darkness; for as the defects of any object, which probably would remain unseen in the dark, are rendered visible by the introduction of light, so our imperfections are more conspicuous to men, and more hateful to God, in proportion to the profession we make of walking in the light. We must test not our actions only, but also our secret thoughts by the standard of God's word. Then, by following this pillar, illumined by the Holy Spirit, we shall at last be rendered meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, through the merits of our Saviour. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city" (Rev. xxii. 14). S. S.
It is indeed an awful thing to neglect the use of the means whereby we may become wise unto salvation; but let us remember that there is an equal responsibility attached to those who are acquainted with the truths contained in the Scriptures; for then they are conscious of what is required of them, and therefore they are without excuse, if they do not frame their actions by the precepts of God's word. "To whom much is given, of him will much be required;"" the true light now shineth ;" and this consideration will lead us to see the irresistible obligation which rests upon us to lead a holy life, and to amend our ways and our doings. "The day," says St. Paul, is at hand, let us therefore cast off the works of darkness" (Rom. xiii. 12). "Old things are past away, all things must now become new" (2 Cor. v. 17). "Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light" (Eph. 8). "Put on the armour of light," and "walk as in the day" (Rom. xiii. 12-13.) "Ye are children of the light, and the children of the day we are not of the night, nor of
THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT. No. XIII.-The Character and Conversion of Lydia.* BY THE REV. JOHN EMRA, M.A. Perpetual Curate of St. Mary's, Redlynch, Somerset. IN the 19th chapter of the first book of Kings we have a very remarkable account of a manifestation of the divine glory to the prophet Elijah: "The word of the Lord came to him and said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice." Thus did the Lord manifest himself to his prophet, not addressing him during the roaring of the wind, the fury of the fire, and the awful sound of the earthquake, but speaking to him in "a still small voice," after these his terrific messengers, these "ministers of his which do his pleasure," had passed away. Now, this narrative affords a striking illustration of the Lord's various modes of dealing in the conversion of sinners. "God speaketh once, yea twice," but man "too often regardeth him not." There are two striking accounts related in the 16th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, in which are very forcibly delineated these various modes of the operation of divine grace on the heart.
Behold the two scenes here described contrasted together. Here we have an account of the conversion of two immortal souls. But how different were the
instrumental causes, and the accompanying events of their conversion, although the same Holy Spirit was the agent in the conversion of both! In the case of the jailor, "the Lord was in the earthquake." The
• See Acts of the Apostles, xvi. 13-15; and compare the narrative with that of the conversion of the jailor, ver. 23, &c.