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We see no reason whatever for doubting, that there will be much of this manifestation of the good eventually wrought by labours, which, at the time, appeared to be wholly fruitless. If it be-as we know it to be-a principle in the Divine dealing to interpose delay between the effort and the result, we must be quite prepared to expect that, in numerous instances, "the bread cast upon the waters" will not be found during the life-time of those by whom it has been thrown; but survivors have often abundant proofs that the bread is not lost. We all know that the founders of many institutions, which are now most successful in grappling with the profligacy and misery of the human race, died without practical demonstration of the efficiency of the engines which they laboured to construct, and, therefore, ignorant-except so far as faith might give them instruction-of the blessing vouchsafed to their endeavours. We all know (if familiar with the recorded histories of our fellow men) how often conversion has to be traced to a sermon delivered long years before, and how frequently the memory of a parent or friend has that energy, that persuasiveness, in winning from evil, which did not attend his labours during life. And if, though the individuals themselves die ignorant of the good which they have been instrumental in effecting, survivors can ascertain that good, and refer it to its cause, why should we doubt that, when all secrets are laid open at the judgment, there will be a great display of the consequences of actions; and that remote benefits, which came not into view till those who wrought them were almost forgotten, will be made beautifully evident to the several agents, and minister immeasurably to their gladness and their joy. This we know that if the minister who has wrestled, without any tokens of success, with the hard-heartedness of his people, be met at the judgment by some-perhaps many-unto whom the Gospel, as preached by his lips, had proved finally "the power of God unto salvation;" and if the father or the mother, who saw no cause for hope, during life, that their children would follow them into the kingdom of heaven, find those children numbered with the heirs of immortality, and ascribing to parental instruction their safety and their happiness; and if there come thronging round the men, who devoted themselves to God's cause, but who lived not to see the issue of their labours, converts from idolatry, families reclaimed from profligacy, trophies of their usefulness and success-this, we say, we know that ministers, and parents, and labourers in every department of philanthropy, will join in one enraptured confession, that nothing more was promised than experience has proved, when they were told, that if they would "cast their bread upon the waters," they should "find it after many days."
But this naturally leads to our taking that view of the language of the preacher, which is practically of the greatest importance. We wish to regard them as a promise-a promise which is admirably fitted to preserve us against becoming weary in well-doing. When considered under this point of view, the words are of extraordinary value, for they just meet that feeling of despondency, which those who labour for God are too often tempted to entertain. It is most discouraging, for example, to ministers, to observe with what listlessness and indifference their message is received, and how the great and stirring truths, which they continually announce, fail to gain any lodgment in the breasts of their hearers. Sabbath after Sabbath they ply the same individuals with the same momentous facts, but they cannot find that they make the least impression. There is always the same task to be performed, and always, as it would seem, with diminished hopes of success. May we not believe, that there are many individuals unto whom the Gospel has been published for a long series of years, who have heard sermon after sermon, as the wide field of scriptural truth has been traversed, but who as yet have given no sign that the preached Word has been effectual in bringing them to God? And if we had nothing to guide us but present appearances, we should decide at once, that the seed which has been sown has been utterly wasted, and that the sowing any more would be like scattering it upon the waters-so sterile is the soil, so unapt for moral culture. And here it is that the temptation to despondency is strongthere is no fruit for the past, and there seems no hope for the future. Here, therefore, it is, that the language of Scripture comes in with great sustaining power, declaring that there is no cause for despair, even if it be actually on the waters
that the seed must be cast. The minister of Christ may say, 'I do not conclude that I have laboured in vain, even in respect of those who have heard me the longest, and with no apparent advantage. I have no unwillingness to be addressing them again with the very truths which have so often seemed to fall ineffectual on their ear. I might, indeed, conclude, that I had laboured in vain, and I might feel a strong unwillingness to the making any further attempt, if there were no Divine intimation and promise which oppose such conclusions, and animate to new effort.' But, whilst there are such words in the Bible as those we have quoted, the minister has no right to be disheartened, though, after long waiting, he can discover no tokens of harvest. We fasten again upon the case of those, on whom the labourer in the vineyard seems to have exhausted all the arts of moral husbandry in vain. We regard even these men with some degree of hope. Yes; even those, against whose covetousness the servant of Christ has remonstrated without shaking their devotion to wealth; before whom he has arrayed the splendours of heaven without exciting a wish, and the terrors of hell without raising a fear—even these are surveyed by us with a measure of expectation, and we cannot shut ourselves up to the melancholy conviction, that not a solitary particle of all that grain, which has been cast upon the surface, has penetrated the soil, and will hereafter appear to gladden and recompense the husbandman. Experience has taught us, that often, in a season of sickness or affliction-just as though the clouds which gathered over men, and the tears they were forced to shed were chiefly instrumental in moral vegetation—there is a sudden produce which demonstrates that the seed has not been lost; for then texts and sermons, which, when first heard, had seemed to take no hold upon the mind, recur with extraordinary force, and the admonitions and the exhortations which appeared forgotten so soon as uttered, come strangely forth from some deep cell in the memory, as though they had but waited an opportunity to claim audience, and, having found it, were not to be repulsed, but would insist on obedience. There is not a more singular, nor a more interesting fact, than that to which we now advert-the fact that words, which wrought no effect upon men at the time of their delivery, but which they seemed to throw from them with the greatest ease, and the greatest determination, return to them, they cannot tell how, on some long distant day, so that they hear again-only in a more startling and reproachful tone-the counsel of a minister, or the warning of a parent, though years may have elapsed since that minister or that parent affectionately addressed them, and they would not give heed. We speak of this as a fact, because there is testimony in abundance to which we might appeal, and because, perhaps, there is hardly an individual who is not occasionally conscious to himself of the sudden revival of what had been long forgotten; and who is not, therefore, his own witness, that what seems but a transient impression, may be too deep for years and years to obliterate, and wait only its season for bursting in upon the mind with a strength and a vigour which it did not possess at the first. It may be, that then those who gave not heed to a minister's exhortations, whilst every thing went smoothly, and there was promise of long life, will desire his presence, that he may again set before them the sublime truths of the Gospel. And it would not be without hope the servant of Christ bent his steps to the door of the individual, who had so often heard the message, and apparently without effect. Oh, not without hope! We mean not merely, that we should have hope that there might now be admission for truths, against which the heart was heretofore closed-we should have hope of beholding a harvest from seed that had been sown months and years before; we should have hope of being greeted with the statement, that some discourse, long ago delivered, had recurred to the mind in the hour of darkness and perplexity-that some text, or some sentence, had sunk unperceived into the soul, and was now working, through God's help, a sorrow for sin and a desire after holiness. And we could not hearken to any man, who should tell us that such a hope was visionary and absurd. We have warrant, scriptural warrant, for the hope-it is a hope which the preacher's words bids us cherish, and by the cherishing of which we are to equip ourselves against that weariness in well-doing, which must certainly overcome us, if we judged the duty of future exertion by the apparent success of the past.
Our object, in adducing this last illustration, has been, that we might encourage those who have the moral seed to sow, to persevere, notwithstanding every appearance of the ineffectiveness of their labours. There must be no such thing as giving up in despair, because hitherto we seem to have toiled in vain. We cannot tell that it has been in vain. We are rather bound to believe that it has not been in vain. If we meet with a parent who is tempted to resign all hope, with respect to a dissolute child, because the advice and remonstrance of many years have produced no visible effect, we bid that parent be of good cheer, and not hastily conclude that his labour is lost. If he have indeed been diligent in casting his bread upon the waters-yea, perhaps, literally "on the waters," for he could not, it may be, give his counsel, without first giving his tears-and if it have indeed been "bread," which he hath cast-not the maxims of a mere worldly prudence, but the Word of Life, of which whosoever eateth shall not perish-we would encourage him to expect a recompense, though it may be long deferred. We have a confidence in such assertions as that of Solomon, which is not to be shaken by the protracted dissoluteness of the child, provided only we are assured that there has been a careful obedience to the direction of casting our bread upon the waters. For our own part, we cannot give up all hope of the child, whilst we know, that, throughout his career of thoughtlessness or folly, he is followed by the remonstrances and the prayers of a parent. We still regard him as one on whose behalf a mighty agency is at work; and we have, what almost amounts to a persuasion, that, sooner or later, this agency will prevail. We may not be able to vindicate this persuasion by proving the frequency of such an occurrence, but a promise of God should be as powerful in testimony as an accumulation of facts. And we have no doubt whatsoever, that, from a careful register, from which facts might be gathered, it would be perfectly demonstrable-that, just as the sins of fathers are visited upon children, so does their righteousness bring a rich blessing on their posterity; and that in by far the majority of instances, a religious education is finally successful in producing a religious character-so that the cases are comparatively rare in which the bread cast upon the waters, in their early flowings, is not found, ere those waters lose themselves in the shadows of the grave. We know that the remark is often made, that the children of religious parents turn out worse than others; but we have no faith in the historical accuracy of this remark. Now and then there will be striking and melancholy cases; and those cases-the more noticed, because occurring in families on which many eyes have been fixed-are taken as establishing a general rule, and that a rule which concludes against the worth of a religious education. But we are persuaded that the sum total of the evidence from fact is immeasurably the other way. It will sometimes happen, that the parent's efforts are frustrated, and the child is never reclaimed from his wanderings; but, ordinarily, you have the spectacle-the beautiful spectacle-of the old age of the father and the mother cheered by the piety of their offspring. If the sons and the daughters have been carefully trained in the way they should go, their adherence to it will be generally among those rich consolations, which God ministers in the last days of the parents. The gray hairs of the patriarch are seldom brought down with sorrow to the grave, if he have made it his business to instruct his family in righteousness. And we do not then fear to animate any parent, who may be tempted to think that his children will never reward his prayers and his labours :-we do not fear to animate him by the words of the preacherwords which we declare verified by general experience. Yea, he may tell us how unwearied he has been in counsel and reproof; how diligently he has set before his children the good and the right way; how he has striven, by every means which God has placed in his power, to conduct them to glory, and honour, and immortality; and then he may speak sadly and despondingly of their continued resistance, their perverseness, their growing determination of taking part with the world; but we can bid him be of good cheer, for we can say to him, 'Thou hast cast thy bread upon the waters,' and the Almighty hath promised,-and there is a noble testimony from fathers and from mothers, that the promise is commonly fulfilled"Thou shalt find it after many days."
"Look not every man on his owu things, but every man also on the things of others,”—Paul.
It has been a question, agitated by ignorance, and disputed by the energetic and inert, "whether the science of politics be not at utter variance with the knowledge of God; the philosophy of this world, with the wisdom that is from above; the vain phantasma of time, with the glorious realities of eternity?" Acting on this principle (pious, doubtless, in their judgment), some renounce all interference with political matters; they refuse to identify themselves as parts of the great whole; they are not citizens "here they have no continuing city, but they seek one to come; they are not subjects; others may so denominate them, but they do not sustain the character-they are passive, quiescent, inactive; no measure receives their support to vote were the most reckless profanity; nor does their influence lean either for or against a question of the most vital importance (it may be) to the interests of true, evangelical religion. They bend the knee to the "High and Lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity;" but forget that " by Him kings reign, and princes decree justice." Christ's kingdom is not of this world, they religiously remind us; and, standing aloof from the civil community, they regard it as too impure to admit a reciprocation of feeling, an interfusion of sentiment, a consolidation of interest, a union of effort with the church! "Come out from among them, and be ye separate!" thunders in their ears from the throne of the Infinite; and, misconceiving its import, they rush for shelter to the chosen flock, and tremble in silence.
This indifference to the temporal welfare of man is the result of a delusive theory. The Christian is a true patriot. The fire of patriotism sparkles in his eye, and glows in his conscious soul, as he glances from north to south, from west to east, and looks abroad on the general face of nature-moral as well as natural, civil as well as moral, social as well as civil, national as well as social, universal as well as national-till his expanded vision sweeps o'er all, nor stops but at creation's boundary. Oh, there is a feeling, breathless and intense, that thrills in his bosom, as he contemplates this living mass of intelligence of immortality! It is a flame kindled on the altar of the heart, and which, consuming the sacrifice of love, wafts its incense in ethereal fragrance to empyrean heaven.
Nor is it surprising that the Christian is thus philanthropic, since the first principle of our religion is love-primary, to God; subordinate to our neighbour, and our neighbour indefinitely-not merely our pious neighbour, our fellow-communicant at the same table-fellow-worshipper at the same temple; but our neighbour, be he who or what he may-if necessitous, to assist him; if erring, to guide him; if ungodly, to lead him to the fountain of purity; if a backslider, to reclaim him from his wandering; if a disciple of our common Saviour, to offer him the right hand of fellowship and of brotherly love.
And as Christian philanthropy is not restricted to one class, so neither is it limited to spiritual objects; nor is Christianity itself thus limited. The duties of religion are not alone connected with the specific service of God in His sanctuary. It is true, that there the uncovered head and bended knee can most devoutly and reverently worship the Majesty of Heaven: but the Christian has other duties, other claims-not, it is true, paramount to this-still obligatory. A suitable becoming attention to the relationships of life-integrity in the transactions of commerceequitable decisions in the cause of justice, the exposure and crimination of vice,
the protection of injured innocence-a delicate acknowledgment of the claims of charity and hospitality-are these of no importance to the Christian? And if these are incumbent on him, then is the principle at once recognised, that Christian philanthropy is not limited to spiritual objects.
The Christian occupies a prominent, an exalted position, in the civil community. If a man of probity, becoming his profession, and one whose commercial endeavours, by prudential economy, have placed him in a sphere commanding respect and influence-a responsibility is committed to his charge, a neglect of which
would be criminal. It is to such the church looks up as to a champion in her cause—a guardian of her privileges, a defender from her foes; one that will watch over her interests, at all times jealous for her safety, and tenacious of every measure in any degree calculated to militate against her stability or efficiency. Dare such an one refuse to lend his aid in a cause so professedly near his heart? Nay, may we not question the sincerity of a profession, which, when tried, proves but listless inaction?
And his station, because exalted, is a 'vantage ground. He takes a higher stand than the worldling. He rejects such and such a measure on principle. Considerations of human policy, personal emolument or aggrandizement-the various bribes whose glitter attracts the avaricious eye-these are all immolated at the shrine of Principle. He looks with contempt on the man who can betray his country with a Judas kiss, and barter her weal for "thirty pieces of silver!" Feeling himself but a steward to his Divine Master, he discharges his duties with openness of purpose; while his unblushing front, and unburdened conscience, evidence the honesty of his movements, sealing the approbation of God and of his fellow-creatures, and reflecting that approbation on his own soul, till his heart is too full for utterance ;-the Christian is absorbed in the patriot, and the patriot is lost in the man!
Certain talents, therefore, are intrusted to his care, which must be laid out to the best advantage. By his intimate acquaintance with the human heart, he can fathom to the depths of motive, and trace the secret springs of action to their hidden principle. The machinery of mind, with all its intricate, complicated workings-the wheels within wheels, that to any other eye would appear confusing and confused--he, with a master-hand, must so regulate, that it shall answer the great design of its Creator; and, by subserving the cause of piety, multiply blessings on his race. The arena of politics invites his notice; and, if called to enter the lists, it must be on the side of justice. Not as the leader of a faction, or the organ of a party, to disseminate narrow sectarian views, and proselyte men to his own creed, but as the staunch advocate of the eternal principles of truth and equity. And whatever he observes in the social economy capable of improvement-abuses needing correction—just privileges denied unrighteous exactions demanded— each and all of these require his uncompromising, unflinching attention. He must act as the representative of Jehovah,—and fear not.
This is a duty which he owes, first, to God. It is true that "the hearts of kings are in His hand, even as rivers of water; and that He turneth them whithersoever He will;"--but it is equally true, that instruments are frequently, if not ever, employed by unerring Wisdom in carrying out its blest designs. And where can so fit an instrument be found, as he who has devoted himself unreservedly to the service of his God?
It is a duty which he owes, also, to man. Not that he will feel it such, and therefore perform it. If he be really under the influence of the Christianity which he professes, he will be led to its discharge by an intuitive prompting. Without inquiring why, or even being aware of any mental process, he will breathe the genuine spirit of patriotism. "Twill be to him as a mother tongue, natural and fluent from infancy, rather than acquired by labouring perseverance. If asked whether he would benefit his fellow-beings, were it in his power, he would start with surprise ;—it has never been a question with him, but a principle, ready to evince itself on the slightest need. Still, although he feels it not a duty, it is one. His relation to the church and the world binds him to its performance; and while he would not refuse if he dare, he dare not if he would.
Need it be added, that is also a privilege? Duties and privileges are synonymous terms. Duties to be performed are privileges to be enjoyed: privileges that may be enjoyed, become, by that very possibility, duties that must be performed. To neglect a duty is to lose a privilege; to lose a privilege is to neglect a duty. The one is so interwoven with the other, that they cannot be separated but by cutting both in twain.
The advantages resulting from a faithful discharge of this obligation are obvious. If every Christian were to take an active part in political movements, an immense