« ZurückWeiter »
RYDER, REV. T.-
Only a Christian: Frederick Squier 22
The late Rev. Wilberforce Saunders ..
Book. How to spoil a Prayer Meeting.
sense" and the “Children's Prize.” Be
29, 144, 310
initials are appended.
78, 115, 242, 457, 497
75, 159, 198
Work 116, 160, 200
. 277, 321
val at Pooree-Appeal for more Mission-
of Mr. J. H. Smith, at Loughborough 399
in the Southern Division of Orissa. . 457, 496
GENERAL BAPTIST MAGAZINE.
THE BEST GUEST FOR THE NEW YEAR.
At the dawning of this New Year no question, I am glad to think, will be more likely to win a readier or heartier attention from the readers of this Magazine, than the increase of the spiritual power and usefulness of our churches, as the natural and necessary precursor of that national “revival of religion” for which we have been long hoping and praying. Stimulated by the rapid drifting of our years into the shoreless sea of the Eternities; reflecting on the indifference and neglect of the past, the inefficacy of much byegone work, the non-fulfilment of cherished hopes, and the unabated need of the world, we yearn for a fuller consecration and a more thoroughgoing godliness. Apostolic results are wanted. But apostolic results can only be obtained by apostolic men. Still, by such men, they may be had in overflowing fulness.
What, then, was the apostolic spirit and power ? In a word, it was the spirit and power of Christ. His love was a burning fire in their hearts, renewed from hour to hour by the faith that made the exalted and unseen Saviour more real than the philosophical sceptics of Athens, and the persecuting Neros of Rome. They knew Christ after the flesh no more. But they knew Him in their hearts with a more intensely vital knowledge than they knew anybody else. Faith was the evidence of things not seen. It gave substance, power; immense and boundless power to Christ over their hearts and hopes, their speech and deeds. They talked with Him so much that they could not but talk about Him. They loved Him and preached Him, not as men coming from His presence, but as standing in. it, and getting their inspiration for every sentence from his quickening touch. Their sufficiency and their success were of Christ.
Nor was that exceptional in any sense or degree. We are the true successors of the apostles. Believers are put into their place, take up their commission, hold and use their “keys,” repeat their journeys, and, if they have their vitalising faith, reap their successes. Speaking, some few weeks since, of his aims and feelings when he settled in the city of Brooklyn twenty-five years ago, Mr. Beecher said, "I thought of one thing; the love of Christ to men. That to me was a burning reality. . . . At certain times I felt almost as the apostles did, who had seen Christ and walked with Him, and were witnesses of His earthly life; and during all my ministry the
VOL. LXXV.--NEW SERIES, No. 37.
secret of my support, and of the vital piety of the church itself, has been a living personal faith in the Lord Jesus.” Robert Murray McCheyne was as different from Henry Ward Beecher as one Christian could be from another. Feebler in mental gifts, narrower in culture and in sympathies, opposed in theology, he nevertheless breathed the same ardent spirit, had a similar faith in Christ, and therefore he accomplished, in a very brief life, a blessed and abiding work that has stretched immeasurably beyond the rugged north where he dwelt. David Brainerd, a man different in mental “make,” cultivated a totally different field from McCheyne’s or Beecher’s. Away yonder, amongst the wild Indians on the Susquehanna, fighting despondency and conquering failure, the brave missionary toiled for years in the faith which constantly urged the prayer to his lips, “O that I were a flaming fire in the service of my God”-and his fervent zeal did not miss its reward. It has always been so. Christians of the most diverse gifts, and working in entirely different spheres, are one in the supreme impulse of their lives. Workers for Christ walk with Christ. Sustained and successful enthusiasm for the salvation of men has ever been drawn from the Saviour Himself. It flames into us from Him. A glowing, ardent, hightoned and ever-helpful life draws its strength and passion from the strong, suffering Son of God, by a faith that makes His love a “burning reality, and His presence the most vivid and influential fact of our experience. We work by faith, not by sight.
But to many Christians Christ is dead. Calvary, and the grave of Joseph, are the last facts in their gospel. They have no ascension, no day of Pentecost. The evangel is only a biography, a tale of the hoary past. It lacks all the charm of a living presence. Now the dead we respect. We may even revere their memories, and with a softened and chastened affection we follow their spirits to the skies ; but love, whole-hearted, passionate love, is always reserved for the living. Those who only know Christ as crucified should not be surprised if they lack the power of the men who saw the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. Others do not truly believe in the whole Christ. To some He is only a vague sentiment, indefinable, and powerless; or a soothing promise, sweet but weakening; or a momentary gleam of brightness shot through the gloom of a night of sorrow, and gone before the day-dawn ; or a flash of lightning parting the clouds of the future, and leaving the present still dark. They do not know Him as the centre and abiding source of universal helpfulness ; as the Lord of the vineyard of the world, seeking for labourers to go and toil in His grounds. A diminishing number regard Christ as the power of God; merely another revelation of worldenergy, an intellectual and moral energy perhaps, but still only an energy, and not a heart beating with infinite compassions and unfathomable sympathies, and full of a love as far removed from petty partialities as purity is from sin. Force may, indeed, fill us with fear ; but it is self-sacrificing pitying love that begets love. We love Him because He first loved us.
It is, then, a living personal faith in the Lord Jesus that makes His love a burning reality, enthrones Him in the heart, gives Him sway over all its thought and feeling and worship, and qualifies us for devoted and fruitful service in His kingdom. This will set fire to our logic. loved me, and gave Himself for me,” will pass into the larger and more blessed message, “He died for all,” because He loved all ; and we shall be irrepressibly eager to work with Him for the salvation of the lost. The self-saving spirit will be burnt up. Christianity will cease to be a mere
The Love of Enemies-an Essential Element in Christian Character. 3 investment for our personal safety, and become a method of universal redemption, an inspiration to a life of sublime self-denial. A tame, cold, dull, and decorous religion, will give place to natural fervour and overflowing life. O, let us pray with all our soul this new year's day that we may be strengthened with might by the Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ, who has visited us with His salvation, “may dwell in our hearts by faith ;” may enter, with all His grace, and abide ; kindling our piety into a healthy glow as in our free love-talk with Him He mercifully favours us with sweet and hallowing revealings of His fulness. With Macdonald let us sing
“Dwell in my heart by faith, 0 Christ!
Come in, o gracious force, I say,
THE LOVE OF ENEMIES—AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT IN PERFECT CHARACTER.
In the Sermon on the Mount our Lord thus exhorts His hearers : “ But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you ;
that ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them who love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if yé salute
your brethren only, what do ye more than others ? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” Matt. v. 44–48. He thus presents, as a reason for loving our enemies, the perfection of God, which we should seek to resemble; from which it follows that God loves His enemies, and that such love is necessary to perfection.
The exhortation, “ Love your enemies," is sufficient of itself to justify the inference that God loves His; for it cannot be imagined that He requires His creatures to be better than Himself. In proof that He does not-if such proof be needed-we are required to love our enemies in order that we may resemble Him—“that ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven”—that ye may evince your resemblance to your Father who is in heaven-whose love to His enemies is seen in this most conspicuous fact, that “He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” In further support of this we are taught that only to love those from whom we receive love is a very inferior morality, and such as is practised by the most disreputable class—" do not even the publicans the same ?” With such a low standard of character we are not to be content. Not like the publican's should be our love-confined to those who love us, and saluting our brethren only. We must aspire after the perfection of our Father, in whose character, as His works testify, love to enemies is embraced. We cannot resemble Him unless we too cherish such love. We cannot without this be perfect as He is; for of His perfection love to enemies forms part. “Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.”
The response which this very explicit testimony finds in our nature is so decided as to shew that even were it less explicit the position which it supports would be unassailable. Our reason, or our moral sense, or the primary instinct or intuition of our nature, or whatever else men may call it, pronounces in its favour. If it would not have occurred to our depraved humanity, the thought once presented to it cannot be rejected. While human nature is what it is, it will regard love to enemies as an essential element in perfect character, and that character as essentially defective in which such love does not exist.
We instinctively acknowledge that to love our enemies is right. However a perverted intellect may theorise about it, the sense of right in every man immediately and instinctively approves. Whether actually or hypothetically presented, the verdict is unmistakeably in its favour. We cannot admit that the man who does not love his enemies is perfect; for we know that he might be better than he is—that the man who does love them is better than he. We pronounce his character defective when we compare him with his more loving neighbour-defective, too, when compared with what he himself might become.
This innate conviction, corroborated as it is by the teaching of the Divine word, may be safely followed when we seek to form an estimate of the Divine character. We cannot suppose that goodness in God is altogether different in principle from goodness in us. Such a supposition would render it impossible for us to worship Him. The terror of the slave might be possible to us then; but not the filial, holy, loving reverence of the child. And if we are to think of perfection in God as we think of perfection in man-and the Saviour's words certainly justify us in so doing—the conclusion at which we arrive is that, as in man so in God, perfection embraces love to enemies. If, according to the verdict of our moral sense, love to enemies is right, and to love them is better than not to love them, it follows that if God does not love His enemies, He might be a better being than He is—He is not so good as He might be, not so good even as He requires His creatures to be.
But such a notion is fatal to the very conception of Divinity. For the only proper way to conceive of the Divine Being, is as a Being of infinite excellence—not only equal in His goodness to the best conception we are able to form, but infinitely surpassing that-not only possessing every quality which belongs to absolute goodness, but as possessing them all in infinite degree. If ever a time were to come when we could regard the conception we were able to form as surpassing in goodness the character of God, in other words, if we could conceive of a better being than that Being whom we call "God, then that Being whom we call God would no longer be the object of our worship. We may approve of or admire the goodness on which we can look down from the elevation which we have either actually or by imagination reached, but we cannot regard it with that wonder and reverence which are essential elements of worship. We must never, therefore, unless we would deprive ourselves of a God, and prove ourselves guilty of profane and blasphemous imaginings, think of God as being less good than He might be; and hence the recognition of His love to His enemies should enter into every conception we form of the character of the Divine Being.