[blocks in formation]


| possessed of the unsearchable riches of Christ, that

he felt himself a debtor to the world. He had BY TIIE EDITOR.

found a treasure, and he could not conceal it; he Rom. I. 14.

must speak out; he must tell abroad what he felt.

He was surrounded by needy fellow-men, in a poor, Paul has many names for himself; none of them empty world : should he keep the treasure to himlosty, all of them lowly; the highest simply 'an self? No. As the lepers of Samaria felt themapostle. Sometimes it is Paul the servant of selves debtors to the starving city, so did Paul to Jesus Christ;' sometimes Paul 'the aged ;' some- a famishing world. But there is much more than times Paul “the prisoner ;' sometimes it is less this,-a higher when' and 'how.' Who had done than the least of all saints ;' sometimes the chief | all this for him, and made him to differ? It was of sinners.' Here it is another-'a debtor.' It is, God-Christ Jesus. It is to God, then, that, in then, of Paul the debtor that we are to speak. It | the first place, he feels himself an intinite debtor, is himself that takes the name; he proclaims his in the fullest sense. To God himself he cannot debts; no man lays them to his charge; God does pay this debt directly; but he can indirectly, by not accuse him. It is some profound, irrepressible pouring out the God-given treasure upon others. feeling that leads him to cry out, “I am debtor. His debt directly is to God; but then indirectly it

1. To whom is he a debtor?—Not to self; not to is to the world. Thus the Christian man feels'his the flesh; not to the law. He owes nothing to debt,—his obligation to the world, because of his these. We might say he is a debtor to God, to obligation to God. But then, a man must know Christ, to the cross. But these are not now in his that he has the treasure himself, before he can be mind. It is to Greek and Jew, wise and unwise; I quickened into a feeling of his responsibility to men of all nations; the whole fallen world,—that others. The love of Christ must constrain us; & he feels himself a debtor. He seems to stand on sense of what we owe to Him must impel and some high eminence, and, looking round on all stimulate us. Do you know yourself to be the kingdoms, and nations, and tongues, with all their possessor of this infinite treasure, and, under the uncounted millions, he says, “To all these I am expanding pressure of this, are you roused to feel debtor,' and I must pay the debt. They have done your infinite debt to all ? nothing for him, indeed ; they have persecuted, III. How he pays the debt.-By carrying to them stoned, condemned, reviled him; yet that does not that gospel which he had received. That gospel, alter his position or cancel his debt. Do to him what or the gift which that gospel reveals, has enriched they like,-hate him, imprison him, scourge him, himself infinitely: he takes these riches to others; bind him,-he is their debtor still. Ilis debt to them and so he endeavours to pay his debt to God by is founded on something which all this ill-usage, enriching the world. He goes to Corinth,-doing this malice, cannot alter. He loves them still; what? Paying there part of his infinite debt. He pities them; pleads with them; beseeches them to goes to Athens, to Thessalonica, to Rome,--doing be reconciled to God; confesses himself to be their what? Paying in each place part of the infinite debtor in spite of all.' We speak of the world being debt which he owes to God for his love, his pardon, a debtor to Paul, -so, in one sense, it was; but, and the hope of the glory. He is a rich man, and in another, Paul is a debtor to the world. Yes, a / can afford to give! Christian is debtor to the world ; not to his family We pay our debtonly, or his nation, but to the whole world. Let (1.) By making known the gospel to others.-Speak this thought dwell in us, and work in us; ex- | out the glad tidings wherever you go. You are panding and enlarging us; elevating our vision ; debtors; thus pay the debt. throwing back our horizon ; delivering us from all (2.) By prayer for others.-We can reach millions narrow-heartedness on the one hand, and all false by prayer, otherwise inaccessible to us. Pray for liberality on the other. We speak of the world others; not your own circle only, bu: the world. being debtors to the church ; let us never forget Go round the world. Embrace all nations in your that, according to Paul's way of thinking, and to intercessions. the mind of the Holy Spirit, the church is debtor (3.) By our givings.-In giving, let us remember to the world. Though taken out of the world, she what we are doing-paying our debt to God. Show is not to forget or despise it; but to love it, plead your sense of his love, his gifts, by your generosity for it, work for it.

(4.) By our consistent life.--This, at least, is exII.' When and how he became a debtor.—Even as pected of us. Do not misrepresent the gospel. a Jew he was a debtor, for he possessed something Yes, you are debtors to all. Show that you feel which the world did not; and the moment I come this. Be constrained by a loving sense of your into possession of something which my neighbour infinite obligations and responsibilities to Him or my fellow-man has not, I become debtor to that loved you. Pity the poor world around you. that fellow-man. This is God's way of reckoning, Cherish love to every soul you meet with, even in though it is not man's; for God's thoughts are not passing hastily along. Try to do something for our thoughts; and it is love only that can teach the worst. Say in reference to such an one, I am us to feel and reason thus. Yet it is true reason-1 that man's debtor; and I am so because Christ ing; it is divine logic. It was when Paul became loved me, and gave himself for me!'



DT is blood whose shedding has pro- | is as entire as if you had cut every wire in pieces,

vided a propitiation for sin; and and cast these pieces to the winds. But rewhosoever will consent to take this fasten the severed points, or link them to the as his propitiation, becomes partaker index with some conducting material, and in

of the blessings which it contains. stantaneously the intercourse is renewed. Joy It was the high priest's laying of his hand upon and sorrow flow again along the line. Men's the goat that established the connection between thoughts, men's feelings, men's deeds, rumours it and the people, so that Israel's sins passed over of war or assurances of peace, news of victory or to the substitute; and so it is our believing that defeat, the sound of falling thrones, the shouts connects us with the Divine Substitute, and of frantic nations, all hurrying on after each brings to us all the benefits of the divine blood- other to convey to ten thousand throbbing hearts shedding.

the evil or the good which they contain! It is our unbelief that intercepts the com- That non-conductor is unbelief. It interposes munication; it is faith that establishes it. Faith between the soul and all heavenly blessing, all may seem a slight thing to some; and they may j divine intercourse. It may seem a thing too wonder how salvation can flow from believing. slight to effect so great a result; yet it does so Hence they try to magnify it, to adorn it, to inevitably. It shuts off the communication with add to it, in order that it may appear some great the source of all glad tidings. It isolates the thing, something worthy of having salvation as man, and forbids the approach of blessing. its reward. In so doing, they are actually trans- That conductor is faith. In itself it is nothing, forming faith into a work, and introducing but in its connection everything. It restores in salvation by works, under the name of faith. a moment the broken communication ; and this, They show that they understand neither the not from any virtue in itself, but simply as the nature nor the office of faith. It saves, simply conducting link between the soul and the founby handing us over to the Saviour. It saves, not tain of all blessing above. on account of the good works which flow from The blood of the cross is that which has made it, not on account of the love which it kindles, peace;' and to share this peace God freely calls not on account of the repentance which it pro- us. This blood of the cross is that by which we duces, but solely because it connects us with the are justified; and to this justification we are Saying One. Its saving efficacy does not lie in invited. This blood of the cross is that by which its connection with righteousness and holiness, we are brought nigh to God; and to this blessed but entirely in its connection with the Righteous nearness we are invited. This blood of the cross and Holy One.

| is that by which we have redemption, even the Thus it is that unbelief ruins, because it cuts | forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his off all communication with the source of life;

nication with the source of life; / grace; and this redemption, this forgiveness, is and thus faith blesses, because it establishes that freely set before us. It is by this blood that we communication.

have liberty of entrance into the holiest; and See these electric wires that are shooting their | God's voice to each sinner is, 'Enter in.' It is by mysterious threads throughout our land, com- | this blood that we are cleansed and washed; and municating between city and city, between man this fountain is free, free as any of earth's flowing and man, however distant; dead, yet instinct streams, free as the mighty ocean itself, in which with life; silent, yet vocal with hidden sound; all may wash and be clean. carrying, as with a lightning burst, the tidings These are good news concerning the blood,of good or evil from shore to shore. Separate news which should make every sinner feel that it their terminating points by one hair's breadth is just what he stands in need of. Nothing less from the index, or interpose some non-conduct- than this; yet nothing more. ing substance,-in a moment intercourse is And these good news of the blood are no less broken. No tidings come and go. The stoppage good news of Him whose blood is shed. For it is by this blood-shedding that He is the Saviour. must soon echo with the sound of the final Without this He could not have been a Redeemer; 1 trumpet. And therefore it concerns men, withbut, with it, He is altogether such a Redeemer as out delay, to be securing the shelter ere the suits the sinner's case. In Him there is salvation, storm be up. When once the wrath of the

-salvation without a price,-salvation for the Lamb is kindled, who shall escape, save those most totally and thoroughly lost that this fallen who are sprinkled with his blood ? It is an earth contains. Go and receive it.

eternal doom that is preparing for the ungodly, Do you ask, How am I to find salvation, and and the time that remaineth is short in which how am I to go to that God, on the blood of the sinner may escape. He has no moments to whose Son I have trampled so long? I answer, | fling away; for that which he flings away may Go to Him in your proper and present character be his last. --that of a sinner. Go with no lie upon your lips, Fool! when wilt thou be wise? Thou art professing to be what you are not, or to feel what | wise for time, and not for eternity. Dost thou you do not. Tell Him honestly what you are, not see these thunder-clouds ? Dost thou not and what you feel, and what you do not feel. hear the wild tumult of earth, the cry of nations, "Take with you words ;' but let them be honest the shock of falling empires, the crumbling sound words, not the words of hypocrisy and deceit. throughout the earth that speaks of universal Tell Him that your sin is piercing you; or tell dissolution and ruin? What are these things ? Him that you have no sense of sin, no repentance, The work of chance? A passing earthquake ? no relish for divine things, no right knowledge of The burst of frenzy for an hour ? No. They your own worthlessness and guilt. Present your- | are signs of gathering wrath. It is God coming self before Him just as you are, and not as you down to smite the guilty earth,—that earth upon wish to be, or think you ought to be, or suppose whose surface your feet are treading. He desires you to be. Recount your necessities; ! Are you ready for his arrival? Are all matters make mention of the multitude of his mercies; of variance between you and Him adjusted ? point to the work of the blessed Son; remind | And has your reconciliation been sealed by the Him how entirely righteous it would be for Him / blood of the Lamb ? to receive and bless you. Appear before Him, If not, how shall you meet his eye? How taking for granted just that you are what you shall you abide his awful scrutiny? That scruare, a sinner; and that Christ is what He is, a tiny will comprise much. Nay, it will omit Saviour; deal honestly with God, and be assured nothing; its minuteness and exactness will that it is most thoroughly impossible that you overwhelm you. But the most solemn part of can miss your errand: "Seek the Lord while He it will be that touching the blood of the Son may be found ;' and you will see that He is found of God, and the good news respecting it which of you. “Call upon Him while He is near;' and have been so long proclaimed to you. These you will find how near He is.

good news have found no entrance, and the But tarry not, for the day is fast closing, and messenger who brought them has been denied the thick gloom of evening is at hand. The all access day by day. Instead of prizing this last 'woes’ are preparing, and the gates of the blood, and making use of it for your cleansing, kingdom shall ere long be shut. The acceptable you have slighted it; and in slighting it, you year of the Lord is running out, and the coming have slighted Him whose blood it is— Him of the Lord draweth nigh. Trifle not with your through whose death there is life for you. And brief remaining span or inch of hasty time. shall not the Lord visit you for such deliberate

This earth shall soon shake beneath the foot- rejection of his grace? shall not his soul be steps of its coming Judge. Its hills and rocks avenged for such neglect of his great salvation?'


were struggled for and suffered for by priests 1.-DOLCINO—DANTE. ,

and monks, boldly maintained by scholar and TALIAN unity, so long regarded by by poet, and valiantly fought for by the Italian modern diplomacy as a dream im- people. Civil liberty and the purification of possible of realization, was for ages the church were the great objects of Arnold of the aspiration of Italian patriots; Brescia in the middle of the twelfth century,

and it was almost invariably asso- and of Jerome Savonarola at the close of the ciated by them with a reform of the church, | fifteenth. Both of these reformers strove for and the abolition of the Pope's temporal power. the emancipation of their countrymen from a Centuries before the light of the Reformation twofold slavery—the bondage of civil and redawned upon Europe, the ideas which a Passaglia ligious tyranny. The efforts of each were in and a Reali have promulgated in our own day one sense local, but their influence was widely felt; and ever and anon these opinions found rich and beautiful Tyrolese maiden, first organized expression,—not unmingled, it is true, with gross a peculiar community in the Val Sesia in Piedmont. and dangerous delusions, but always more or Here they were joined by multitudes from other less effective as a protest against the pride, the parts of Italy, who professed a desire to live at rapacity, and the uncleanness of the Papal hier- | peace with all the world, and to wait for the golden archy.

age. But bulls had already been issued against It would seem to have been a natural conse- them; and the Inquisition forthwith proceeded quence of the means by which the temporal to the work of suppressing a community holding power of the Papacy was supported and ex- doctrines subversive of the church. An illtended, that almost all the revolutions which devised attack made upon them by the podesta threatened it were preceded by formidable re- l of Varallo, served only to give courage to Dolvolutionary movements within the spiritual pale cino and his followers, the number of whom of the church. The Roman Republic which increased with amazing rapidity. The Guelphic arose from the teachings of Arnold of Brescia was nobles, headed by the bishop of Vercelli, resolved heralded, so to speak, by the revived monastic to combine for the complete extermination of the spirit on the one hand, and the bold scepticism heretics ; but even these formidable antagonists of Abélard on the other. The more brilliant were baffled. Thrice the bishop was defeated; attempt made by Rienzi, in the fourteenth cen- his diocese was laid waste; and Dolcino, issuing tury, to revive the independence of Rome, to from a strong position he had taken up among re-establish her ancient republican institutions, the mountains, sacked the surrounding towns, and place her at the head of a united Italy, rifled the churches, and carried off many prisoners. was also preceded by violent tumults within the But in their wild, inhospitable retreat, the rechurch, determined resistance to its authority, solute enthusiasts were soon reduced to fearful and loud denunciations of its misused temporal straits. Famine compelled them to feed upon power. Those years, in the beginning of the the dry grass of the mountains, and even, it is fourteenth century, which saw the persecution | said, upon the dead bodies of their companions. of the Templars, and the extinction of their Yet they continued their hopeless resistance with chivalric order by the rapacious Philip the Fair, desperate determination, until, worn out with and the voluptuous Pope Clement v., saw also suffering, they nearly all perished in a last effort the rise of a powerful sect of religious enthu- to beat back their assailants. Dolcino and the siasts, whose fanaticism took the form, not only beautiful Margarita were put to death with of discontent with the avarice of the prelates, horrible barbarity; both remaining calm and but of doctrines hostile to the entire hierarchical undaunted while the flesh was torn from their system. These formidable sectaries, connected bodies with red-hot pincers, and the flames of with the mendicant orders, and best known, the burning pile kept down to increase their perhaps, by the name of Spiritual Franciscans, | tortures. Margarita indignantly repelled all the held opinions of more than a merely negative attempts made to induce her to recant; and, character. The wealth and luxury of the priest- | by her extraordinary fortitude, drew forth the hood were their utter abomination. They pro- | admiration even of her executioners. mulgated the doctrine that absolute poverty was While the doctrines of Dolcino and the Spiessential to holiness; and in the wild regions of ritualists spread rapidly throughout Italy, and Northern Italy, to which many of them retired, even extended into France, Germany, Poland, they saw visions and dreamed dreams of a new and other parts of Europe, greater minds than effusion of the Holy Spirit. Prophets and pro- those from which they emanated were deeply phetesses rose among them, to delude the super-deploring the miseries of their country, and stitious with alleged revelations; and one of the ardently longing for the peace which national latter went so far as to declare herself the Holy unity and a reformation of the church alone Ghost incarnate. Distinguished among these could bring. The world-worn Dante,' driven fanatics were Sagarelli of Parma, and his follower from his native Florence by the intrigues of Fra Dolcino of Novara,- the one the preacher Pope Boniface VIII., the violence of Charles of of doctrines even more extreme than those of Valois, and the tumultuous strife of the Bianchi the poverty-loving Spiritualists and Fraticelli, / and Neri, had lost all faith in the Papacy. The and the other the promulgator of a new gospel, only hope which cheered his lonely wanderings, which taught the utter subversion of the sacer- was that of an Italian monarchy centred in Rome, dotal system, and the approach of a golden age founded on the will of the people; and, while under the auspices of the seven angels of the extending its sway over Italy, leaving all her churches. Dolcino and his disciples seem, more cities free, and in the enjoyment of their muniover, to have entertained, or at least professed cipal institutions. The ancient Roman Republic to entertain, hopes of the revolution they anti- was, in the great poet's eyes, the noblest, purest, cipated being brought about by the instrumen- and strongest of earthly governments; and if he tality of an earthly monarch. Frederick of desired to see the establishment of a monarchy, Arragon, king of Sicily, was to be the head of it was one animated by the spirit of repuba new empire, in which the Papacy had no licanism, deriving its power from God and the place; for the church, deprived of the Pope, people. With temporal affairs the Pope, he was to be reduced to its primitive poverty, and believed, ought to have no concern ; the funcconvert the world by the agency of humble be tions of the head of the church he held to be lievers.

strictly spiritual. Dolcino and his spiritual sister, Margarita, a More than a century and a half before the birth of Luther, the forlorn and weary exile Nor was it only against the avarice and licenproclaimed, in his immortal poem, the doctrine tiousness of the priesthood that the poet hurled of justification by faith ; denounced the sale of his shafts; he anticipated the awakening of a indulgences originated by the cupidity of Pope later generation to the truths of the gospel, and Boniface; and scathed, with the lightnings of the exposure of those cunningly devised fables, sublime and terrible scorn, the fabric of the by which so many souls had been beguiled. Papacy. The Divina Commedia abounds with Much misconception of the purpose and spirit such powerful condemnations of Romish cor- of the Divina Commedia has arisen, from its ruptions, that some of its great author's com- being regarded either as merely an allegory of mentators have concluded that its chief object the poet's experiences, or as founded, in so far at was the overthrow of the Papal power. Dante least as its outline is concerned, on the Romish felt and saw that over the political and religious ideas of punishment, penance, and reward. life of his country the Church of Rome exercised Looked at only from one or other of these points either a degrading and polluting or a deadening of view, much of its severe beauty, much of its influence. He clung to many of its dogmas, and symmetry is lost; and many of its most powerful was a firm believer in the spiritual supremacy truths become little else than invectives or murof Peter, and those whom he deemed the apostle's murings, expressive of a sense of personal wrong. worthy successors ; but in the Paradiso he But Dante bad far other and nobler objects makes Peter himself declare the place of his re before him. His great poem was designed to presentative to be vacant :

shadow forth, in its first part, the Inferno,'He who on earth my place,

the miseries of sin; in its second, 'the PurgaMy place usurps,-my place, which in the eyes

torio,'--the struggles by which those who really of God's own Son is vacant, hath long space desire to reach the region of sacred truth may Rendered my burial-ground a sink abhorred do so; and in its third, 'Paradiso,'—the supernal Of blood and filth, which to the inveterate foe

glory of divine light, the ineffable beauty of Who fell from heaven, doth high delight afford.'

divine love. That the work abounds with poliIt is from the apostle's lips, too, that we have tical allusions, and, as we have said, proceeds this denunciation of Papal intolerance and false upon a belief in several of the doctrines of the hood :

church, does not detract from its value as a tes"Ne'er was it meant that Christians should be placed

timony against the Papacy. Dante aspired after By our successors, part on the right hand,

the unity of Italy under one powerful monarch, The other part upon the left, disgraced;

| able to deprive the Pope of temporal authority, Or that the keys entrusted to my care

and by this means to free the church, and lead Should be a sign for warriors to unfold,

to its reformation. And as a standard against Christians borne;

Great as the influence of Dante's poetry must Or that my image on a shield should show, Attached to lying privileges sold.

have been in directing the thoughts of his counRapacious wolves, in shepherds' clothing dressed, trymen-or the more learned among them at Are hence beheld through all the pastures fair : ' least—to the errors and crimes of the Papacy, O arm of God, why art thou still at rest ?'

it was, perhaps, equally powerful in preparing In the most dreadful circles of the Inferno, the the way for the translation of the Scriptures visionary poet placed popes, cardinals, and priests;

into the language which it did so much to form, and the forms of those who had worn the tiara

elevate, and adorn. The poet had himself deare fixed in the horror of its outer darkness.

clared that the light of sacred truth, which had Dante, in short, believed that Rome was indeed

| been so long obscured by the foul vapours arising Antichrist—the Babylon of the Apocalypse :

from the church's corruption, was alone capable

of guiding men through the worse than heathen • For she, who sits on many waters, hath

darkness of his time; and, ere long, that light Been seen with kings her person to defile.

broke in upon the minds of many of his countryAb, Constantine! what evils caused to flow,

men, enabling them to flee for refuge to the Not thy conversation, but those fair domains

hope set before them, and cheering them to fight Thou on the first rich Father did'st bestow!' the great fight of faith..

« VorigeDoorgaan »