« VorigeDoorgaan »
the glorious midnight sky. Seest thou these hosts of heaven? Canst thou reckon them? No. But He who speaks to thee can. He can count them. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names ; and to thee He saith, “ So shall thy seed be.” Here is the perfection of science,—the highest sublimity of the most sublime of all the sciences,-the most glorious lesson in astronomy the world ever learned. In the still and solemn silence of earth's unbroken slumber, under the deep azure arch of heaven, not a breath stirring, not a cloud passing, then and there to stand alone with God, to stand with open eye, and behold his works ; to stand with open ear, and hear His word,-His word to thee! These starscanst thou number them ? Look now towards heaven, and tell them : these all I ordained ; and even such a seed have I ordained to Abram. Such a lesson might Chaldean sage or simple peasant learn of old ; and such, far more, may be the lesson now, as art reveals her myriads of new worlds, and science threads among them her lofty and mysterious way, till the aching sight begins to fail, and imagination itself to reel. Alas! that the starry heavens should ever be read otherwise than thus,- as if either they claimed worship for themselves, or a power to rule the destinies of our race; or, as if they had no tale at all to tell of but a dreary, dark materialism. Surely, if thou wilt but look and listen, they speak to thee of their Creator ; or rather, their Creator speaks to thee by them. He points and appeals to them as the tokens of his power, and the pledges of his faithfulness; and in the undimmed glory of their multitudinous hosts, shining still, as they shone when he talked to Abram, he calls thee, on each returning night, to hail the renewed assurance of that promise on which all thy hope, as well as Abram's, must hang. So shall the seed of Abram,-his seed, embracing Christ and all that are his, and therefore not excluding thee,-so shall the seed of Abram be.-Candlish on Genesis.
TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF THE REV. DR. WELSH.
From a Sermon preached at Helensburgh, on the 11th of May, 1845, by the
Rev. John Anderson, from Joshua xiv. 14 : “ Because that he wholly
followed the Lord God of Israel."* Published by special request. I NEED scarcely say that, in thus describing the character of Caleb, I have had a particular reference to one who, like him, was a teacher in Israel ; one whom, within these few days, “ devout men have carried to the grave, making great lamentation over him ;” one whose loss is deeply felt and deplored, not only by the church to which he belonged, and of which he was so great an ornament, but by all the churches throughout the whole Christian world ; one who not only resembled Caleb in being a leader in Israel, but in many of the great leading features of his character, in his simplicity, his sincerity, his integrity, his courage, his constancy, in his services to the cause and church of Christ, and in his sacrifices for it; and, in one word, in that, like him, he “ wholly followed the Lord God of Israel.” The character of this great and good man, I am free to confess it,
* It is well known that the lamented Dr. Welsh died at Helensburgh, where he and his family had resided for a considerable time previous to the event. During his last illness, Mr. Anderson was unremitting in his services as a Pastor and a friend, and the Rev. Doctor expressed to one of his brethren the high sense which he entertained of the benefit which he derived from his conversation and his prayers.
does not belong to me to delineate ; this belongs to other and to abler hands; this they will do, and this they have no doubt already done. Yet, from the high esteem in which, as is known to many of you, I held him, from the love I bore him ;—for who could know, who could see, him, and not love him ?—from the privilege I enjoyed, for such I will ever esteem it, of having seen and conversed with him in his sickness; from the great sorrow of heart which I feel this day, which we all feel, for his loss; from my desire to improve it for your sakes; from my desire not to glorify him, but to glorify the grace of God in him ; I am anxious to allude to the death of one so endeared to his friends, not only for his private virtues, but to the church for his public services, services which she can never forget, and because of which his name will for ever be enrolled among her famous worthies, as one of the most illustrious of her sons. Of his public services I need not speak : with these you are all familiar. If you
would know what, by the grace of God, he was, as a man and as a Minister, turn to the prophecy of Malachi, where you will find these words : “My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips; he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.” Is this a beautiful portraiture of a Christian man and a Christian Minister ? It is the portraiture of Dr. Welsh. Shall I speak of his intellectual endowments? This much only I will say, that, while of the very highest order, they were all of them consecrated by him to the cause of Christ; they were laid as gifts on the altar of his God and Redeemer. While in reality one of the highest, he was at the same time one of the humblest, of men; a proof that, while a little learning and a little religion make men proud, a great deal of learning and a great deal of religion make them humble. Few men in our Church have ever, in clearness of intellect, approached so nearly the great Jonathan Edwards as Dr. Welsh; and few men have resembled him so much in the lowly estimate he formed of himself, when seen in the light of the divine holiness, and tried by the standard of the divine law. Gifted as he was above many, and honoured as he was above many, to do and to suffer for Christ, on what did he lean and build his hope for eternity ? on anything in himself ? on anything he had done ? No, but on the mercy of God, reigning through the righteousness of Christ. On this, and on this alone. To it he desired to be a debtor. On this he hoped ; and this he has now obtained. Of the loss sustained by his family, I may not speak. This is too sacred and tender a subject even to be touched. As to the loss sustained by the church, humanly speaking, it is irreparable. Not only has “a great man and a Prince fallen in Israel,” but without exaggeration we may say, weapons of war have perished.” But our loss has been his gain. From the church militant he has been removed—and 0, how gloriously!--to the church triumphant. In the General Assemblies of the church on earth he will no more be found guiding them by his counsels, or cheering them by his presence; but he has taken his place in the general assembly of the church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven. Lost, dead to us, with Knox and Melville, the Welshes and the Hendersons of the old time, with the great and the good of all times and of all churches,--all now perfectly sanctified and glorified, all “clothed with the robes of righteousness, and with the garments of salvation,”—he lives, and lives for ever, unto God. Weep, then, we may, for his loss; yet, should we also rejoice that, as a Church, we had one so gifted and so good to lose ; no, not to lose, but to give back unto God, who gave him unto us. And in this also should we rejoice, that, though prematurely removed, he may be said, in an eminent sense, to have finished the work which God gave him to do; and that, having glorified Him on the earth, he has been removed to serve and glorify Him in heaven. And now a fairer, a richer, and more glorious inheritance than Hebron, which Joshua gave to Caleb, is his ; because, like him, “he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel.”
WESLEY AND WHITEFIELD CONTRASTED.
(FROM THE NORTII BRITISH REVIEW.)
NEVER has century risen on Christian England so void of soul and faith as that which opened with Queen Anne, and which reached its misty noon beneath the second George, 7-a dewless night succeeded by a sunless dawn. There was no freshness in the past, and no promise in the future. The memory of Baxter and Usher possessed no spell, and calls to revival or reform fell dead on the echo. Confessions of sin, and national covenants, and all projects towards a public and visible acknowledgment of the Most High were voted obsolete, and the golden dreams of Westminster worthies only lived in Hudibras. The Puritans were buried, and the Methodists were not born. The philosopher of the age was Bolingbroke, the moralist was Addison, the minstrel was Pope, and the preacher was Atterbury. The world had the idle, discontented look of the morning after some mad holiday; and like rocket-sticks and the singed paper from last night's squibs, the spent jokes of Charles and Rochester lay all about, and people yawned to look at them. It was a listless, joyless morning, when the slip-shod citizens were cross, and even the merry-Andrew joined the incurious public, and, forbearing his ineffectual pranks, sat down to wonder at the vacancy. The reign of buffoonery was past; but the reign of faith and earnestness had not commenced. During the first forty years of that century, the eye
that seeks for spiritual life can hardly find it; least of all that hopeful and diffusive life which is the harbinger of more. “ It was taken for granted that Christianity was not so much as a subject for inquiry, but was at length discovered to be fictitious. And men treated it as if this were an agreed point among all people of discernment.' Doubtless there were divines, like Beveridge and Watts and Doddridge, men of profound devotion and desirous of doing good ; but the little which they accomplished only shows how adverse was the time. And their appearance was no presage. They were not the Ararats of an emerging economy. The zone of piety grew no wider, and they saw no symptoms of a new world appearing. But like the Coral Islands of the Southern Pacific, slowly descending, they were the dwindling peaks of an older dispensation, and felt the water deepening round them. In their devout but sequestered walk, and in their faithful but mournful appeals to their congregations and country, they were the pensive mementoes of a glory departed, not the hopeful precursors of a glory to come. Remembrance and regret are feeble reformers; and the story of godly ancestors has seldom shamed into repentance their lax and
* Bishop Butler, VOL. III.FOURTH SERIES.
irreverent sons. The power which startles or melts a people is zeal freshwarmed in the furnace of Scripture, and baptized with the fire of Heaven, —that fervour which, incandescent with hope and confidence, bursts in flame at the sight of a glorious future.
Of this power the splendid example was WHITEFIELD.* The son of a Gloucester innkeeper, and sent to Pembroke College, his mind became so burdened with the great realities, that he had little heart for study. God and eternity, holiness and sin, were thoughts which haunted every moment, and compelled him to live for the salvation of his soul; but, except his tutor Wesley and a few gownsmen, he met with none who shared his earnestness. And though earnest, they were all in error. Among the influential minds of the University there was no one to lead them into the knowledge of the Gospel, and they had no religious guides except the genius of the place and books of their own choosing. The genius of the place was an ascetic quietism. Its libraries full of clasped schoolmen and tall Fathers, its cloisters so solemn that a hearty laugh or hurried step seemed sinful, and its halls lit with medieval sunshine, perpetually invited their inmates to meditation and silent recollection ; whilst the early tinkle of the chapel-bell and the frosty routine of winter matins, the Rubric and the founder's rules, proclaimed the religious benefits of bodily exercise. The Romish postern had not then been re-opened; but with no devotional models, save the marble Bernards and de Wykehams, and no spiritual illumination except what came in by the north windows of the past, it is not surprising that ardent but reverential spirits should in such a place have unwittingly groped into a Romish pietism. With an awakened conscience and a resolute will, young Whitefield went through the sanatory specifics of A-Kempis, Castanza, and William Law; and in his anxiety to exceed all that is required by the Rubric, he would fast during Lent on black bread and sugarless tea, and stand in the cold till his nose was red and his fingers blue, whilst in the hope of temptation and wild beasts he would wander through Christ-Church meadows over-dark. It was whilst pursuing this course of self-righteous fanaticism that he was seized with alarming illness. It sent him to his Bible ; and whilst praying and yearning over his Greek Testament, the “ open secret” flashed upon his view. The discovery of a completed and gratuitous salvation filled with ecstasy a spirit prepared to appreciate it; and from their great deep breaking, his affections thenceforward flowed, impetuous and uninterrupted, in the one channel of love to the Saviour. The Bishop of Gloucester ordained him, and on the day of his ordination he wrote to a friend, “Whether I myself shall ever have the honour of styling myself a prisoner of the Lord, I know not; but indeed, my dear friend, I can call heaven and earth to witness that when the Bishop laid his hand upon me, I gave myself up to be a martyr for Him who hung upon the cross for me. Known unto Him are all future events and contingencies. I have thrown myself blindfold, and, I trust, without reserve, into his almighty hands; only I would have you observe, that till you hear of my dying for or in my work, you will not be apprized of all the preferment that is expected by George Whitefield.” In this rapture of self-devotion he traversed England, Scotland, and Ireland, for fourand-thirty years, and crossed the Atlantic thirteen times, proclaiming the love of God and His great gift to man. A bright and exulting view of the atonement's sufficiency was his theology; delight in God and rejoicing in
* Born, 1714. Died, 1770.
Christ Jesus were his piety ; 'and a compassionate solicitude for the souls of men, often rising to a fearful agony, was his ruling passion; and strong in the oneness of his aim and the intensity of his feelings, he soon burst the regular bounds, and began to preach on commons and village-greens, and even to the rabble at London fairs. He was the Prince of English Preachers. Many have surpassed him as sermon-makers; but none have approached him as a pulpit-orator. Many have outshone him in the clearness of their logic, the grandeur of their conceptions, and the sparkling beauty of single sentences; but in the power of darting the Gospel direct into the conscience he eclipsed them all. With a full and beaming countenance, and the frank and easy port which the English people love,-for it is the symbol of honest purpose and friendly assurance,—he combined a voice of rich compass, which could equally thrill over Moorfields in musical thunder, or whisper its terrible secret in every private ear: and to this gainly aspect and tuneful voice he added a most expressive and eloquent action. Improved by conscientious practice, and instinct with his earnest nature, this elocution was the acte: sermon, and by its pantomimic portrait enabled the eye to anticipate each rapid utterance, and helped the memory to treasure up the palpable ideas. None ever used so boldly, nor with more success, the highest styles of impersonation. His “Hark! hark!” could conjure up Gethsemane with its faltering moon, and awake again the cry of horror-stricken innocence; and an apostrophe to Peter on the holy Mount would light up another Tabor, and drown it in glory from the opening heaven. His thoughts were possessions, and his feelings were transformations ; and if he spake because he felt, his hearers understood because they saw. They were not only enthusiastic amateurs, like Garrick, who ran to weep and tremble at his bursts of passion ; but even the colder critics of the Walpole school were surprised into momentary sympathy and reluctant wonder. Lord C fiel listening in Lady Huntingdon's pew when Whitefield was comparing the benighted sinner to a blind beggar on a dangerous road. His little dog gets away from him when skirting the edge of a precipice, and he is left to explore the path with his iron-shod staff. On the very verge of the cliff this blind guide slips through his fingers, and skims away down the abyss. All unconscious, its owner stoops down to regain it, and stumbling forward, -“Good God! he is gone !” shouted Chesterfield, who had been watching with breathless alarm the blind man's movements, and who jumped from his seat to save the catastrophe. But the glory of Whitefield's preaching was its heart-kindled and heart-melting Gospel. But for this all his bold strokes and brilliant surprises might have been no better than the rhetorical triumphs of Kirwan and other pulpit dramatists. He was an orator; but he only sought to be an Evangelist. Like a volcano where gold and gems may be darted forth as well as common things, but where gold and molten granite flow all alike in fiery fusion, bright thoughts and splendid images might be projected from his flaming pulpit; but all were merged in the stream which bore along the Gospel and himself in blended fervour. Indeed, so simple was his nature, that glory to God and good will to man having filled it, there was room for little more. Having no church to found, no family to enrich, and no memory to immortalize, he was the mere ambassador of God; and inspired with its genial, piteous spirit,-so full of heaven reconciled and humanity restored,-he soon himself became a living Gospel. Radiant with its benignity, and trembling with its tenderness, by a sort of spiritual induction a vast audience would speedily be brought into a frame of mind,- the transfusion of his own; and the white furrows on their sooty