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THE CHURCH.

“Built upon the foundation of thọ Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being

the chief corner-stone."

JANUARY, 1866.

FOR THE NEW YEAR.

BY THE REV. J. H. HINTON, M.A. "I will bring the blind by a way which they know not.”Isaiah xlii. 16. Yes: it is true that, in relation to the movements of Divine Provi. dence, God's people are “blind." They were so of old, and they are so still. They do not know the bearings of the facts and events which closely surround them; they do not know the facts and events which are immediately to follow; they do not know what would be most desirable for either others or themselves. What an infinite mercy it is for them that they have a guide adapted and adequate to lead the blind!

There is a great peculiarity in such a character as this. Every guide should possess appropriate qualifications, and those qualifications must necessarily vary according to the guidance to be supplied, and the circumstances in which it is to be rendered. Now to lead the blind is an exercise of guidance unusual and peculiar; and he who can effectually accomplish this must have some important characteristic qualifications.

1. He who leads the blind must have a perfect knowledge of the way. He must show no ignorance. In this respect a blind man can contribute no help, and supply no lack. If his guide does not know everything about the way, he is useless; if he be ignorant even of a single step of it, all his other qualifications are vain.

And such a guide is God to his people. He perfectly knows the way by which he has to lead them. His understanding is infinite. All things throughout the universe—the past, the present, and the future-are naked and open to his eyes. All causes that are in action are brought into operation by his own power, and all the results which they can produce are from the beginning manifest to him. For himself he has formed a plan of operation, with every portion of which he is, of course, perfectly familiar; while the impulses and movements of all creatures whom he has endowed with the power of voluntary action are fully and accurately foreseen by him. By no occurrence can he ever be taken by surprise ; nor can he arrive at a point where he does not know what next is to follow ; nor can he be at a loss to discern what step may be most wisely taken, or what shall be its bearings or its consequences.

2. He who leads the blind must have a faithful regard to the end. He must display no treachery. The steps of the blind whom he leads are put absolutely into his hands, and he may direct them whither hi pleases. When once he has entrusted himself to the care of his guide the blind has only to confide; he is utterly without remedy against any supposable unfaithfulness. He that successfully leads the blind, therefore, must steadfastly keep the end in view, and suffer nothing to turn him aside from the path that conducts to it.

And such a guide is God to his people. He is incapable of treachery It is in infinite loving-kindness that he condescends to become hi people's guide; and, after undertaking to conduct them to eternal glory he will not turn aside to any other end. Besides himself loving then too well, he has paid for them too vast a price thus to betray thei everlasting interest. “He that spared not his own Son, but freely gave him up for” their redemption, how shall ho act towards then the part of a treacherous guide ?

3. He who leads the blind must pay a constant attention to the path. He must indulge no carelessness. It is only so far as attention is given to the path that practical guidance is supplied. When a guide is careless, it is practically as though there were none. At such an hour, at such a moment, the blind, who should be led in safety, may stumble over an obstacle, or may fall into a pit, or may encounter obstructions or dangers of even fatal character. He who successfully leads the blind must pay a constant attention to the way.

And such a guide is God to his people. He neither slumbers nor sleeps. Altogether innumerable as the objects which demand his notice are, he never withdraws his eye for a moment from the steps of those he leads. Oh! how sad it would be if it were otherwise! Were there any day, any hour, any moment, in which his attention was withdrawn from us, how full of infinite peril were that day, that hour, that moment! A moment, surely, in which all our hopes might be Wrecked for ever! Thanks be to God, such a moment shall never come! His infinite understanding qualifies him for the task, and his everlasting love binds him to its fulfilment.

4. He who leads the blind must exercise towards them tender sympathy. He must show no unkindness. For the blind are naturally timid. Deprived of seeing for themselves, they are surrounded with uncertainties, and apt to be full of fears. Such fears may be unreasonable, but it would be cruel to treat them with harshness. Great allowance should be made for them under the circumstances, and they should be met in a sympathizing spirit. A successful guide of the blind must be not only wise, faithful, and attentive, but gentle too.

And such a guide is God to his people. Above all guides he might gay, “Now you know you have every reason to trust me; let me see no signs of timidity ; step boldly in the way I lead you.” He is not angry, however, with the sinking heart and the fearful step, por doos he refuse to breathe encouragement into the timid ear. “Fear not,” says he. " for I am with thee: I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” “ He knoweth our frame, and remembereth that we are but dust."

Such a guide is God to his people. He will lead them as the blind are led; without ignorance, without treachery, without carelessness, and without unkindness. Is it not a blessed privilege, in our blind walk through this weary world, to have such a guide ? And is it not enough? Can we not, with such a guide, "travel all the length of the celestial road”? And shall we not say cheerfully, as another year commences, Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel”?

While, however, on the one hand, God leads his people as the blind are led, they, on the other hand, ought to walk as the blind who are led. For, if the leading of the blind is peculiar, the walking of the blind when led is peculiar too. And as the led blind walk, so should we walk.

1. In the walk of the led blind we may notice a practical acceptance of the guidance offered them. The blind man to whom guidance is tendered, stretches out his hand to take hold of that of his guide, and holds himself ready to obey the first intimation of his pleasure.

And such should the attitude of God's people be. Not one of selfsufficiency, as though no Divine guidance were necessary; not one of negligence, as though no Divine guidance were offered us; but one of grateful practical acceptance. “Thou shalt guide me; and where thou leadest I will go."

2. In the walk of the led blind we may notice a spirit of entire submission to his guide. He feels that it is not for him to ask the question at intervals, Is this really the right way ? and are you quite sure that it is? He feels that it is not for him, when he meets with a perplexity or a difficulty, to arrest the steps of his guide, and to say, I am sure we are wrong; let us take another direction. He feels, above all, that it is not for him to be petulant, and to say, I will not go this way. He feels rather that, having accepted a guide, he is bound to render him implicit obedience, and to exercise entire submission.

And such should the attitude of God's people be. They must not expect to dictate the course of their guide, nor presume to ask questions about it. Poor blind creatures ! what can they know about the way they are going? It should be enough for them to be assured that they are under the direction of Him whose guidance they have accepted. What have they, then, more to do than to say, It is the Lord ; let him do what seemeth him good ? To the petulant, or even the importunate, voice which would say, Go this way, or, Go that way, their Lord might, well reply, Do you know the way better than I ? and I thought you had taken me as your guide.

3. In the walk of the led blind we may notice an unrelaxing

tenacity. A blind man who is being led by the hand never leaves hold of the hand of his guide. If he were to do so for a single moment, that moment might be pregnant with mischief irreparable, and that transcient relaxation of his grasp might entail his entire disappointment. The blind, therefore, never for an instant leaves hold of his

guide.

And such should be the attitude of God's people. They are led through a region strewed thickly with snares and dangers, where every step may be, not merely a mistaken, but a ruinous one. Unless under guidance every moment, it is of little value to them to be under guidance at all; and the hand of our Divino guide once grasped, therefore, it should be firmly and tenaciously held. Not a single step should be taken without reference to his direction.

4. In the walk of the led blind we may notice an aspect of cheerful confidence. A blind man who is feeling his own way, either by his hand or by the point of a stick, walks cautiously and anxiously, often pausing, perhaps, for consideration and inquiry; but a blind man who is led for the most part walks promptly and cheerfully. If he is satisfied with the character and qualifications of his guide, he steps cheerfully and without hesitation, and in a manner expressive of entire confidence. No perceived change of direction embarrasses him, no obstruction encountered makes him anxious. He has trusted, and is in peace.

And such should be the attitude of God's people. If, indeed, they were feeling their own way, they might well take every step with doubt and trembling; but having once committed themselves and all their interests into the hands of Him that redeemed them, what further reason remains for anxiety? All is as safe as though they were already in heaven, and all on this side heaven is as skilfully and as kindly arranged as infinito love and wisdom can secure; and, if a Christian pursues his way cheerfully and confidingly, what does his aspect say more than this, “I know whom I have believed "?

Under the influence of the views now presented, how reconciled we should be to the mystery of God's ways! His dealings with us are, no doubt, sometimes mysterious, perhaps very painfully so. We cannot understand them. Their cause and their effect are alike impenetrable to us ; and we complain, sometimes petulantly, of this. But is not this complaint unreasonable ? Suppose one of the led blind were to murmur, I cannot see; what would you say to him? You would say, Of course you cannot; do you not know that you are blind? And we, do we not know that we are blind too? How then, can we wonder at mystery ?

And let us be thankful that we are blind. It is very possible that we are being led through a region altogether too terrific to be endured if we had our eyes open. With a trustworthy guide (which, blessed be God, we have) it is far better to pursue our walk blindfold. It is too soon for us to look around us. It will be time enough to open our eyes, when the appalling perils of our way are past, and when we can look

on them from a point from which the sight of them shall only teach us to appreciate our safety.

Thanks be to God ! such a point will ultimately be reached by us, and by some of us, probably, soon. “The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion;" and from the summit of Zion we shall look back upon all the way by which the Lord hath led us. Now he is leading us as the blind, by a way which we know not; and scarcely, perhaps, shall we recognise it when, displayed in its beauty and wisdom, it shall be said to us concerning it, “This is the way by which the Lord hath led you."

WEARINESS IN WELL-DOING.

"Bat ye, brethren, be not weary in well-doing.”- 2 Thessalonians iii. 13.

WHAT is well-doing? Righteous. , the words before us have a special ness and usefulness. Getting good message. They are God's call to his and doing good are both compre- | servants; his call to those who have hended in the term. It includes actually abandoned their toil, and the deliverance of ourselves and those who are tempted to do so. In others from the thraldom of sin. pondering them, let us look at two

For the sake of brevity, however, things :- Why men are weary in welllet us look at the subject in the latter doing ; and why we ought not to be aspect. We regard the apostle as weary in well-doing. enjoining his fellow.disciples to per I. WHY MEN ARE WEARY IN WELLsevere in efforts for the moral and DOING. spiritual welfare of humanity. Such 1. Some are weary in well-doing efforta may appropriately be spoken because they soon weary in all kinds of as well-doing, for three reasons : l of doing. They are right; they are beneficial; I Love of novelty is natural. In itthey are indispensable. God has self it is no evil. Some, however, commanded them to be made ; man's are its victims. The new is all and highest interests are secured by them; in all to them. They are, in this man's highest interests cannot be se. respect, grown-up children. The cured without them. Notwithstand child is fickle and changeable: it is ing, there is a mournful tendency in always wanting something fresh. It Christian workers to grow weary in is ill-content if it has not new faces, well-doing, and there is much in their new voices, new friends, and new toys, experience to provoke such a spirit. to suit its caprice. And thus is it Who of us is not, ever and anon, dis with the class of which we now speak. souraged? Perhaps there is not a They are like the gay butterfly that labourer in the Master's vineyard wings its way from flower to flower, who may not sometimes be found | from tree to tree, from garden to standing with downcast eye, pensive garden, "toone thing constant never." face, and folded arms, utterly dis- | What Sir W. Scott says of women is heartened. His spade lies idle, his plot emphatically true of these. They are of ground is neglected. He feels as “uncertain, coy, and hard to please." if planting and pruning, weeding and Their interest in persons and things Tatering, were all in vain. To such / lasts no longer than their novelty.

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