Billeder på siden

merit the great kindness they had shown him. Other addresses followedby Mr. Gunton, who spoke of the importance of missionary labour; by Mr. Allbutt, who gave a rapid sketch of the work of the Missionary Association; and by Mr. Paterson, who gave Mr. Hemperley a hearty invitation and assured welcome to Paisley.

[ocr errors]

RAMSBOTTOM.-On Sunday, May 11th, the annual sermons on behalf of the Sunday-school connected with the Society at Ramsbottom were preached by the Rev. Dr. Bayley to crowded congregations. The subject of the afternoon's discourse was, "The Youthful Life of Daniel; a model for young people," and was founded upon Daniel i. 12, 13; and that of the evening, The Daily Life of the true Christian," the text being John xv. 10, 11. Both subjects were treated in the Doctor's usual masterly and eloquent style, and were listened to with close and sustained attention. In the morning a scholars' service was held, at which an interesting and edifying address was delivered to parents, teachers, and scholars by George Benson, Esq. of Prestwich. The collections for the day amounted in the aggregate to £77, 4s. 6d., the largest sum ever obtained on a similar occasion. It is very gratifying to record that in the midst of an unprecedented depression of trade in this neighbourhood there appears to be a stronger desire than ever to encourage and support our religious institutions, thus proving the soundness of the Apostle's maxim that (at least so far as the wants of worthy efforts to do good are concerned) "charity never faileth."

SOUTHPORT.-We are informed by a correspondent that the intimation in our last, that the debt which encumbered the church had been removed, is not quite accurate. Our correspondent writes: "The present debt of the Society is £647 in two items, one on mortgage of building, amounting to £550, the other £97 part of £200 borrowed from the Church Building Fund. Through the munificence of Mr. Mottram, who subscribed £150, the Society has been enabled to pay the remaining debt that was borrowed to pay the legacy duty on Mr. Beconsall's bequest as well as £35 towards the Church Building Fund."


On Wednesday, April 23rd, at Park Cottage, Aston, near Birmingham, John Summerfield Stanhope, aged sixty years. The deceased was for several years a conscientious and respected member of the Derby Society of the New Church. About eighteen months since he removed to Aston. Although for some time his health had been failing, yet he was able to attend business even to the day of his departure, which was very sudden and altogether unexpected. Having returned home from the office on the above date, he sat down for a moment to rest, and having spoken a few cheerful and pleasant words to those about him, fell back in his chair and quietly passed away. Our friend's sudden departure reminds forcibly of our Lord's injunction, "Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not."

us most

On April 13th, Mary Clara, the beloved daughter of Henry and Mary Ann Powell of 95 Snow Hill, Birmingham.

On Monday, April 21st, Fanny Cookson Backhouse, infant daughter of Alfred and Hannah Backhouse of Leeds, passed into the spiritual world, aged seven months.

At Thorner, near Leeds, on the 17th of April, Mr. Robert Backhouse, in the 74th year of his age. Mr. Backhouse was one of the oldest members of the Church at Leeds. During the ministry of Mr. Edleston, when his residence was nearer the town, he was a regular attendant on the services of the Church and a useful office-bearer in the Society. His intelligence, attention to the duties he undertook, and integrity of character, secured him the esteem of his brethren in the Church, and of many with whom he associated or had business connections in the world. For some years past he has resided too far from the town of Leeds to attend the services of the Church. His love of the truth remained, however, unabated, and he closed a useful life in tranquillity and peace.

"When life in the soul has worked its own way
The image of God to restore,
In brightness man enters the portals of day,
And the beautiful shell is no more."

[blocks in formation]


THE natural man judges naturally even of spiritual things. Sensuous in his apprehensions and selfish in his desires, he moulds the highest principles and the most exalted views into forms of his own low ends and narrow conceptions. This was never perhaps more fully exemplified than in the case of the Jews, and of all the Jews in the case of the Pharisees. The Jewish people, from the earliest of their history, give unmistakable signs of that not uncommon inconsistency, the union of powerful devotional feeling with weak religious principle, and strong faith with feeble perceptions.

It was this which led to that endless alternation of sin and repentance which their history exhibits; and which led them to place their ideas of superlative happiness in a temporal kingdom, to the restoration of which they still look forward with blind pertinacity. About the time our Lord came into the world this expectation is said to have been general amongst the Jewish nation, which might induce the Pharisees, half in earnest, to ask the Lord, the declared King of Zion, when the kingdom should appear. But what may we suppose to have been their disappointment, or rather their contempt, when Jesus, passing over the question of time, directed them to the manner of the coming of the kingdom, and struck at the very foundation of their hopes by declaring to them that the kingdom of God cometh not with


observation or outward show; that it is not to be looked for in one place or in another, nor in any outward place whatever, but in their own hearts and minds. This was a truth of which the disciples themselves were as yet ignorant and in heart unbelieving. But when they came to be converted, though not till after they had seen their views overturned and their hopes vanish away, they declared unto men the true nature of the kingdom of God, and laboured to establish and extend it. They taught what the Lord Himself had taught before them, that His kingdom was not of this world—that it did not consist in temporal glory and happiness, but in "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost;" thus in the government of the Divine love and wisdom in the hearts and lives of men, securing to them spiritual protection, peace, and blessedness.

This doctrine of the Lord that His kingdom is within is unhappily not only opposed to Jewish opinion, but also, to some extent, to Christian ideas and practice. For while Christians profess to believe that the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy, many seem to place it in creeds or in worship; and while all admit, in words, that it cometh not with outward show, many appear unable to see or acknowledge it unless it come with the power of temporal authority or the shout of popular applause, with outward grandeur or an imposing ceremonial.

It is needful indeed that religion should have an outward visible manifestation as well as an inward invisible essence. And this outward manifestation consists of the ceremonials of worship as well as the duties of life. Without either of these inward religion could not exist. They are the foundations of the kingdom, without which it could neither be established nor sustained. It is also desirable that outward worship and all that is connected with it should be in harmony with the inward thoughts and affections which it is designed to excite and strengthen. Still religion does not consist in creeds or in ceremonials. These are not the primary but the secondary elements of religion; and should be used, not as the end or the fulfilment of our religious obligations, but as the means of enabling us to discharge them. It is not to be concealed that there are on the other hand many who attach too little, rather than too much, importance to the externals of religion. As some place all religion in the form, others place it all in the essence. This is an error which has seduced serious and pious minds into the mysticism which resolves religion into inward contemplation. The principle is often, it is to be feared, maintained

on less conscientious grounds-as a religious plea for religious indifference.

The relative importance of external and internal worship is placed in a clear light by Swedenborg. "All external worship," he observes, "is a formality of internal worship, for the internal is the very essential, and to constitute worship from that which is formal without that which is essential is to make the internal external: as, for example, supposing a person to live where there is no church, no preachers, no sacraments, no priesthood, if it be asserted that such a person cannot be saved, or that he cannot be principled in any worship, when nevertheless he may worship the Lord from what is internal, this is to mistake the essential of true worship. It does not, however, hence follow that there should be no external worship; for they who make it an essential of worship that it proceed from a principle of love and charity, are nevertheless careful to observe the ceremonies of external worship in attending the church, in partaking of sacraments, in hearing sermons, in repeating prayers, in observing festivals, and other things of a like nature, which they do with much diligence and attention, but still they do not make the essential of worship to consist in such things. In the external worship of such persons, by reason that it is influenced by what is internal, there is a holy and living principle, whereas in the external worship of persons who prefer formalities to essentials there is no such principle; for it is the very essential itself which sanctifies or vivifies what is formal or ceremonial" (A. C. 1175).

This, however, is not the only point of view in which we wish the present subject to be regarded. We desire also to show that the kingdom of God, in itself a state of righteousness, peace, and joy, must effect its entrance into the mind by its own inherent power, and be received for its own intrinsic excellence, exclusive of all adventitious circumstances-all merely human considerations and influences. Our religion is not always what it appears even to ourselves to be when surrounded by a sphere of favouring influences. Before we can form a just estimate of its presence and power within us we must know it apart from all outward or extraneous motives and circumstances. We must know it when we retire within ourselves and lean for support or comfort on the strength of our own convictions and the warmth of our own affections. We must judge of it by what it enables us to feel and what it prompts us to do when we are left most fully to our own freedom, and more particularly when there are

inducements to feel and to act otherwise. Religion is only real when it exists within us as a ruling principle, governing the understanding and the heart. But how is it to become so but by the diligent use of means, especially of the Word of truth, by seeking an intimate acquaintance with our own hearts, observing the workings of our own minds,. and guarding against the violation of the Divine law? Those who are never moved by religious feeling except when under the influence of external excitement, who have no convictions but from outward persuasion, no action but when carried along by the current of general activity, can have little of that kingdom which cometh not with outward show, but only through the inward thoughts and affections. of the mind. All that man and outward things can do is to act upon the external and stir it up to co-operative action with the internal. But life and the renewal of life come entirely from within. The change which is effected in the soul by the power of religion is essentially a vital change, a living process, and is as distinct from, and as far above, all the operations and effects of human power as the process of vegetation is above the power and distinct from the labours of the husbandman. This affords an illustration of what can be effected by outward agencies, and what must be done by inward Divine operation. In regard to vegetation, the human agent can clear and cultivate the ground, sow the seed, and comply generally with the conditions on which success depends. But vegetation itself is an operation of life from within, or from above, and can only be effected by Divine power. The outward conditions are necessary for the successful operation of life from within, but constitute no part of the power or process of development. Spiritually, the human agent may remove the weeds of error and sow the seeds of truth, and he may supply the outward means favourable to growth. But the truth. inseminated, like seed sown in the ground, can only germinate, and grow, and produce fruit by the presence and operation of life from the Divine Sun. In the Word, therefore, the essential process of regeneration is described as being beyond all human power, and in itself above all human comprehension, and as being carried on by an inward invisible operation. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit" (John iii. 8). "So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the

« ForrigeFortsæt »