« ForrigeFortsæt »
66 If a
and forcing my opinions upon others ?” By no means. The force of example alone will do much; and there are a thousand ways of influencing those with whom we have to do. Only let us first get lighted up ourselves. It is not the mere light of morality, nor of knowledge-even of Scripture knowledge, nor is it that of what the world coldly but too commonly calls religion—meaning thereby certain observances, good in themselves, but falling far short of the warmth of Christian experience. It is the light of which Christ himself speaks, when he said, “ Ye must be born again ;” and of which the apostle says,
66 Arise from the dead, thou that sleepest, and Christ shall give thee light;" for, says St. John (speaking of Jesus), “ That was the true Light, which lighteth every man.” Now, if we have not this light, we cannot expect to be useful in imparting it to others. And how is it to be obtained ? Like the fire which consumed the accepted sacrifice of Elijah, it must come down from above. Nor is this a presumptuous hope. “Ask, and ye shall receive," says the Saviour; and he accompanies the promise with an illustration suited to earthly capacities : son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone ?” “ If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him ?”
It is, therefore, for the light of the Holy Spirit that we must ask; and it seems strange that so many are already in the habit of asking with their lips for what they do not realize in their hearts when they say, “Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit;" or when they sing
“Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
And lighten with celestial fire." Were we to plead the promise of the Saviour himself at the throne of our heavenly Father, earnestly and with all our hearts ; were we to seek after the light of his Holy Spirit, as for “ hid treasures ;" nay, were we to give half as much of the deep and absorbing attention which we bestow upon earthly attainments to the acquisition of this light of Christian faith and love to this “mind that was in Christ himself,” we should read our Bibles with a new interest, and we should have no occasion to inquire, “In what manner shall I endeavour to benefit the souls of others ?” Lighted up ourselves, we should burn with a holy anxiety for the salvation of souls ; and, like the Master we serve, should not only say, but feel, “ My meat is to do the will of him that sent me.' It was for this very purpose that Jesus came into the world ; not only to show us the example of endeavoring to lead others into the path of righteousness, but also, by taking our sins and our punishment upon himself, to set us at liberty so to do ; since without this we could neither have any right to approach our heavenly Father in prayer, nor could we hope to be heard if we did venture to approach him. Far less could we look to receive the influence of his Holy Spirit into our hearts. But, coming in the name of Jesus our Saviour, and justified by the atonement which his death has made for our sins ; “ healed by his stripes," and clad in garments “washed and made white in his blood,” we are not only permitted but commanded to come to him that we may have light, and that, having it, we may be made serviceable by him in imparting it to others. Blessed will be the time when there shall be no need of this instrumentality, and when they shall teach no more every man his neighbour and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord ; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.”
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON; AND W. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH.
J. & W. RIDER, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close, London.
WEARINESS AND REST.
It is a principle universally admitted that whatever else men desire or pursue, there is in every heart an intense longing after happiness. Riches, social standing, reputation, and pleasure, are all sought, not for their own sakes, but for the satisfaction which those who seek them expect that they will administer. The principle is as universal and as strong as the love of life itself.
But though every man longs for happiness, and though every man seeks it, there are comparatively few who seek it in the
The mass of mankind are, in reference to this great matter, utterly mistaken.
There have been thousands who have had every opportunity of trying to their very utmost the capabilities of the world and of sin to afford them happiness, but have found them all inadequate. It is no uncommon thing to see a man starting in life with every requisite and every facility, bent on securing from the world as large an amount of enjoyment as possible. He begins, perhaps, with pleasure. There is scarcely a cup of which he does not drink, scarcely a single form of gaiety and dissipation which he does not try; but he soon finds that what he seeks is not there. Weary of pleasure, he betakes himself to the pursuits of wealth, of power, or of fame; but, go where he will, he is disappointed. The rest he desires is still beyond him—often, he thinks, only a little beyond, but still it is beyond, and he never reaches it. The different sources in which men seek for happiness in the world are only like the various paths along which the travellers, in a thirsty desert, wend their way in quest of some refreshing stream at which they may quench their thirst, but who find instead nothing but exhausted fountains and brackish springs, and who, disappointed and weary, lay them down to die.
Perhaps these pages may fall into the hands of one before whom hope has painted many a glowing picture of high and enduring joy. We should be sorry to cast the slighest shade of needless gloom over the spirit of any man, but we solemnly assure him—and we are persuaded that we can offer proof of what we say—that he is sure to be disappointed if he seek his happiness in any source but one. That source we will endeavour to point out by-and-by.
It is often said that one fact is worth a thousand arguments. Most minds are far more powerfully affected by a specific instance than by the most elaborate reasonings. There are only too many facts which attest the insufficiency of the best the world can give to minister true happiness, and especially to sustain the heart in the hour of sorrow.
A few such facts may be cited now.
Everybody is familiar with the name of Sir Walter Scottthe man whose mighty genius threw such a spell of enchantment over the northern portion of our kingdom, and whose works have been read with delight by millions in every part of the world. He was one of the most successful men who have ever devoted themselves to the profession of literature. His popularity was almost unbounded. All classes united to do him honour. He sat at the table of royalty, and received at his own men of the highest distinction. Abbotsford was often crowded with visitors; some of them noble, some of them renowned throughout the world for literary or artistic geniusall of them gathered together by the fame of its gifted owner, and deeming it the highest privilege to partake of his hospitality. He seemed to have everything that his heart could desire, and all promised permanence.
But a reverse came. The house, which published his works, failed, and he was involved in the failure. Then death came, and deprived him of his beloved wife. As might be expected, he was very sad and desolate. Hear what he says :—“When I think what this place now is, with what it has been long ago, I think
heart will break. Lonely, aged, deprived of all my family, I am an impoverished and embarrassed man.” Again : “Death has closed the dark avenue of love and friendships. I look at them as through the grated door of a burial-place filled with monuments of those who were once dear to me, and with no other wish than that it may open for me at no distant period.” Awhile after he writes : “ Sicknesses come thicker and thicker; friends are fewer and fewer. The recollection of youth, health, and powers of activity, neither improved nor enjoyed, is a poor strain of comfort. The best is, the long halt will arrive at length, and close all.” The pressure of necessity required that he should write as long as there remained the power to do so; but at length exhausted nature gave way.
He requested one day to be wheeled to his desk. His pen was put into his hand, but he could not write. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he exclaimed, “ Take me back
to my own room. There is no rest for Sir Walter but in the grave.". A few days after he died.
There was Robert Burns, a man of true and rare genius, and a man of whom Scotland may well be proud, as the poet of the sweetest scenes of her peasant life, but whose love of pleasure left on his character many a sad blemish, occasioned him many a pang, and embittered his latest days. Too often he prostituted his powers of song, and threw a false and meretricious charm over the forbidden delights of sin; but there were thoughtful moments, in the heyday of health and enjoyment, when he felt them to be fleeting and unsatisfactory. At one of these times he penned the beautiful and well-known lines :
“But pleasures are like poppies spread,
Evanishing amid the storm." Still more affecting and impressive is the manner in which he described his wretchedness when his life was nearly ended, and he was struggling with feebleness and suffering. It will be some time,” said he, in a letter to a friend, “ before I tune my lyre again. I have of late known existence by the pressure of the heavy hand of sickness, and have counted time by the repercussions of pain. I close my eyes in misery, and open them without hope. Pale, emaciated, and feeble, you would not know me if you saw me, and my spirits fled, fled!”
One of the sweetest poems in our language is Campbell's “Pleasures of Hope," a poem which, written whilst its author was but a young man, ranked him at once amongst the lights of his age. Its author thus expressed himself towards the close of life: “I am alone in the world. My wife and the child of my hopes are dead. My only surviving child is consigned to a living tomb (a lunatic asylum). My old friends, brothers, and sisters, are dead, all but one, and she, too, is dying. My last hopes are blighted. As for fame, it is a bubble that must soon burst. Earned for others, shared with others, it was sweet; but at my age, to my own solitary experience, it is bitter. Left in my chamber, alone with myself, is it wonderful that my philosophy at times takes flight, that I rush into company, resort to that which blunts, but heals no pang ; and then, sick of the world, and dissatisfied with myself, shrink back into solitude !"