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(according to some eminent philosophers) all forms in natural light. In this "light supernal” is Divine "Goodness,” like “the morning red,” the source of all human happiness; “Righteousness,” freeing from condemnation and giving liberty, like the azure of the cloudless sky“vernal delight and joy,” like the gold of the sunbeams and the verdure of the meadows; and “Truth,” with her heavenly ideas, like the
; multiform aspect of nature, giving rest and ever-varying felicity. But by the power of “the Spirit,” whose "fruit" they are, they permeate all the thoughts and affections, and react in corresponding works of goodness, righteousness, and truth, “loosing the bonds of wickedness, undoing the heavy burdens, letting the oppressed go free, and breaking every yoke, dealing their bread to the hungry, and bringing the poor that are cast out into their house, covering the naked, and not hiding themselves from their own flesh” (Isa. lviii. 6, 7). This is just reciprocating in their acts what Christ has done for them, spiritually freeing their bondage, feeding their hungry and famishing souls with “the bread of life," bringing them into “a house eternal in the heavens,” covering their nakedness with “the robe of righteousness," and “not hiding himself from His own flesh," the humanity which He assumed, but glorifying it, and bringing it into union with His essential Divinity. All this is comprised in the living light which enters the soul as salvation, and comes forth in good works. “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward” (ver. 8).
The nature of eternal life under this form receives its best illustration from the vegetable creation. A plant during winter may be regarded as dead. The light of spring (which is analogous to morning, the phase of light which best symbolizes life) revives it, or gives it new life, the first sign of which is the putting forth of the leaf, corresponding to faith, or the perception of life, which is constantly taking in life as light and heat. The blossom answers to the consciousness of life, in peace, joy, and hope; while charity, the perfection of life expanding in good deeds and terminating in heavenly joys, is expressed by the full-blown flower terminating in the fruit, wherein are the seeds or principles of new life. "The love of God,” says an excellent writer,1 “that supremely glorious and supremely gracious Being,
1 Hervey, the author of the once celebrated “Meditations,” a man whose errors are more than compensated, not only by his excellent life, but by the ; recious ore that runs through all the dross of his writings.
is of all other tempers the most delightful and divine ; a sacred flower which in its early bud is happiness, and in its full bloom is heaven. To plant this noble principle in the breast, to cultivate its growth and bring it to maturity, is the grand end of all religion and the genuine fruit of faith unfeigned. Angels are happy because the love of God eternally triumphs without a rival in their exalted affections. Trne believers are happy because the love of God, in a prevailing degree, is shed abroad on their hearts. The Gospel is a dispensation of happiness because it discovers the superabundant loving-kindness of God to man, and urges the most engaging motives for our ardent love to His Almighty Majesty."
It is now the season of light. “Above, below, around,” the glad and life-inspiring element meets us in the “ethereal sky," in the flowery earth, in the distant hills“ rejoicing on every side.” Emblem equally true and striking of the heavenly light which is at once "above all, through all, and in all ” (Eph. iv. 6, comp. 1 John i. 5). Recognising this by faith, or spiritual perception, our thoughts will be calm as summer skies—our affections will bloom like Eden, and be “as a fruitful field which the Lord hath blessed ;" while hope, discerning " the Kingdom of God with man,” like the surrounding hills, anticipates
the blissful planes, The regions of unclouded light, Where perfect joy for ever reigns."
E. B. W.
x.-SOCIAL LIFE (continued). THERE are, further, many who will give money for religious purposes, who, however, decline to give, what no money can purchase, time, thought, energy, zeal, and personal help. Among the most productive forms of religious usefulness, Sunday schools deserve to rank high. It is lamentable that so few of the well educated, those best fitted intellectually and socially to render efficient service in this field of use, will aid in gathering in the harvest. They leave the work to men, generally more earnest truly, but in other important respects less fitted to the work. There are several illustrious exceptions :-men who have even taken part in the councils of their sovereign, who have led the political thought of the nation, and who have influenced and helped to guide the destinies of our great country, and who yet regularly discharged the duties of Sunday school teachers. Would that their example were contagious! This noble enterprise languishes for lack of efficient helpers. Although the greatly shortened hours of labour have secured more leisure, both to those who have to do the hand-work and to those who have to do the head-work of our multifarious industries ; although the general adoption of the Saturday halfholiday still more effectually secures leisure ; and although by these means both family association and family instruction are rendered feasible, without needing, as heretofore, to trench upon the day of rest; there does not seem to be any proportionate increase in the number of the workers for religious objects. The fact is as undeniable as it is grave.
Three reasons, among others, may help to account for this state of things. One is that the growing luxury of the times is inducing indolence. It does not so much affect the giving of money for religious and philanthropic objects; for subscriptions were never before so numerous or so munificent, just as there never was a time when so many were so able to give, or to give so much. The circle of possible givers is enlarged, and their ability to give is greater than ever it was before. There is, too, the “luxury of giving,” which, in proportion as wealth is distributed among a greater number of persons, may be increasingly enjoyed by greater numbers. Wealthy communities, like wealthy individuals, may easily be lavish out of the abundance of their superfluities : what they give affects them in idea rather than in fact; it only diminishes the balance at their bankers; it is only a matter of book-keeping. The rendering of personal service would touch their ease, or diminish their self-indulgence, and therefore is denied.
Another reason is that, beyond all question, by an increasing number of thoughtful persons, the same importance is not now attached to "the Church,” and the uses which the Church performs, as was formerly the case. Men see that“religion is life," and that vital religion is the doing of good, daily and hourly, in the various avocations which occupy their
, lives, the doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. By these persons the minister is no longer regarded as “the priest," the authorized delegate of the Most High. The idea of a “Church' has in many such minds merged into the idea of a “Society;" its uses are ranked on the same level as that of any other philanthropic association, and are judged by similar standards. As a proof that this
philosophizing tendency has gone too far, the reaction of Ritualism has grown up and is growing: it may be defined as Roman Catholicism in almost every other particular than the acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome. The existence of this reaction, however, will only serve to widen the breach between the several advocates of liberty as against authority in matters of faith : “free churches"
may be expected to become more determinately democratic in character, just in proportion as other churches become more strictly oligarchic in “priestly” government. The tendency of the times is, however, clearly in the direction of depreciating the Church ; men become relatively lukewarm in toiling for its interest, or through its machinery for the interests of society at large.
A third reason can also be found in the fact, that all sorts of organizations for all manner of philanthropic objects are being increasingly brought forth now-a-days. Society is prolific of organizations. All these appeal strongly to various sections of religious men, and absorb no small proportion of their energy and time. Certainly, thousands who, a few years ago, would have found philanthropic employment in the then almost solitary channels which churches provided, now find occupation in parallel avenues of usefulness more congenial with their tastes, or better suited to their abilities. With these men we can have no quarrel. They are truly fellow-workers in collateral fields; striving to realize kindred objects in other departments of usefulness. Their choice illustrates the principle of natural selection, the self-selected division of labour in this plane of human operation. The coming into existence of these organizations working parallel with the Church exemplifies the law, natural and inevitable, of the increasing manifestation of diversity, the development of the heterogeneous out of the homogeneous.
To those, however, who are not so engaged, who can be convinced that “the Church” has its great specific mission of use to perform in the world, and which can be performed by no other “society," who desire to wrestle against the indolence of luxury, and who are anxious to do something for the Lord's cause in the earth, the Sunday school and other church work should effectually appeal. They can devote their evenings to domestic and self-regarding duties, and they need to be reminded that they owe the consecration of some portion of their time, as well as some portion of their pecuniary means, to works of Christian benevolence. The use of Sunday schools for teaching secular knowledge will increasingly be superseded by elementary day
The Sunday class, therefore, will need to become more closely restricted to the one object of imparting religious knowledge; and will thus be made more than ever supplementary to the Church. It is, consequently, all the more important that the work should not be indolently remitted to those who, with great zeal and devotion, do not possess the other important qualifications of trained minds, the faculty of teaching, and adequate information. In proportion as the scholars of Sunday schools become better informed, abler and wiser men may be expected to arise to minister to their spiritual wants, provide more suitable books for their use, and devise more efficient systems of instruction.
We may now pass to other topics, and prominently to DOMESTIC ECONOMY
So much of domestic happiness depends on freedom from oppressive care, and so much vexatious anxiety proceeds from monetary ,embarrassment, that I am emboldened to dwell for a few moments on such subjects. That young couple entail upon themselves a terrible burden who do not set out on married life determined, before all things, to be honest in their expenditure. There is no burden so heavy as the burden of debt. No cares so corrode and deteriorate the soul as monetary cares. They who suffer themselves to be controlled by what their neighbours do, rather than by what they can themselves afford to do, are preparing rods for their own backs. The burden will not only continue, it will accumulate : debts grow as well as remain. Family expenses necessarily tend to increase rather than diminish ; and the task of retrenchment generally becomes more difficult as the duty grows more imperative. Those of my readers to whom such suggestions apply may, therefore, pardon a few hints on the subject.
Three important maxims aptly express the domestic duty in this respect of all persons, whatever their social status. The first is, Do not marry in debt. Forego all household luxuries for which you cannot afford to pay. Start clear with the world. A score of little expenses will accrue, of which the young couple can have as yet no adequate idea. The relatives and friends of both bride and bridegroom will occasionally visit them, and their entertainment will entail additional household expenditure. The visits of the young couple to their friends' houses, or to places of amusement, will involve further items of expenditure. Inexperience, if not ignorance, in the management of the household will occasion some little