Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Parish Papers by Norman Macleod

Part 4 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

any description of Christianity on paper, as compared to the living
epistle, which all men can read?

_We want Christian men and women_; not their books or their money
only, but _themselves_. The poor and needy ones who, in this great
turmoil of life, have found no helper among their fellows; the wicked
and outcast, whose hand is against every man's, because they have
found, by dire experience of the world's selfishness, how every man's
hand is against them; the prodigal and broken-hearted children of the
human family, who have the bitterest thoughts of God and man, if they
have any thoughts at all beyond their own busy contrivances how
to live and to indulge their craving passions,--all these, by
the mesmerism of the heart, and by means of that great witness,
conscience, which God, in mercy, leaves as a light from heaven in the
most abject dwelling on earth, can, to some extent, read the living
epistle of a renewed soul, written in the divine characters of the
Holy Spirit. They can see and feel, as they never did anything else
in this world, the love which calmly shines in that eye, telling of
inward light and peace possessed, and of a place of rest found and
enjoyed by the weary heart! They can understand and appreciate the
unselfishness--to them a thing hitherto hardly dreamt of--which
prompted this visit from a home of comfort or refinement, to an
unknown abode of squalor or disease, and which expresses itself in
those kind words and looks that accompany the visit. They can perceive
the reality of the piety, which also reads to them, in touching tones,
the glory of Him who came to seek and save the lost; and their souls
cannot refuse some amen, however faint, echoed by their very misery,
and from their yearnings for a good they have never known, to that
earnest prayer of faith uttered, in the bonds of a common brotherhood,
to one who is addressed as a common Father, through a common Lord.
If ever society is to be regenerated, it is by the agency of living
brothers and sisters in the Lord; and every plan, however apparently
wise, for recovering mankind from their degradation, and which does
not make the _personal_ ministrations of Christian men and women an
essential part of it, its very _life_, is doomed, we think, to perish.

It is thus that our Father has ever dealt with His lost children. He
has in every age of the world spoken to men by living men; and "God,
who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake unto our fathers by
the prophets, has in these latter days spoken to us by his Son!"

But are there any willing to labour? Yes; many are labouring, and
thousands in this land are prepared in spirit to join them; for every
Christian has a longing to do something for God's kingdom on earth,
and to employ usefully time and talents which he feels are running to
waste. Why, then, with so much to do through a living agency, and with
a great army of living agents yet unemployed, is there so little
done? We reply again, from want of congregational organisation. Our
congregations want order, method, arrangement. There is not yet a
sufficiently clear apprehension of what their calling is in the world,
or of the work given them to do; nor is there found that wise and
authoritative congregational or church direction and government, which
could at least suggest, if not assign, fitting work for each member,
and a fitting member for each work. Hence little, comparatively, is
accomplished. The most willing church-member gazes over a great city,
and asks in despair, "What am I to do here?" And what would the
bravest soldiers accomplish in the day of battle, if they asked the
same question in vain? What would a thousand of our best workmen do in
a large factory, if they entered it with willing hands, yet having
no place or work assigned to them? And thus it is with many really
self-denying Christians; because a practicable and definite field of
labour is not pointed out, the necessary result is idleness--unwilling
idleness; or self-organised and self-governed "associations,"
"committees," "societies," spring up to accomplish what the Christian
society itself was designed to, and could accomplish in a much more
efficient and orderly manner; or, as it more frequently happens, those
energies and ardent feelings, and love of excitement even, which could
have found sufficient scope for healthy exercise in such practical
labours of faith and love as we have alluded to, are soon engrossed by
merely speculative questions about "the church," or about "religion,"
and the stream which, had it been directed into a right channel, and
to a right point, would have been made a power for immense good, soon
rushes over the land a wide-spread, muddy, devastating flood, oozes
out into stagnant marshes, full of miasma and fever, or evaporates
into thin air!


"Schisms" are not peculiar to the Church of the present day, nor
are they "the result of Protestantism," as some allege, unless
Protestantism is understood to represent that doctrine which is termed
"the right of private judgment," but which might be described rather
as the absolute necessity for each man to believe the truth for
himself, and not to be satisfied that another man should see and
believe it for him. This "doctrine," which is essential to the
reception of any truth whatever, must necessarily open the way to
error; just as the possession of reason, which is essential to a man's
thinking at all, must, in every case, involve the risk of his thinking

But we know something of a Church founded by an apostle, presided over
for a time by an apostle, which was full of schisms. This was the
Church of Corinth. (See First Epistle to the Corinthians, first three

These schisms were marked by differences of mind and judgment; and by
"envying, strife, and divisions." Its "Protestantism" may, no doubt,
have occasioned this.

But along with these divisions, and partly their cause, partly their
effect, there was not only a warm attachment to particular ministers,
but positive antagonism to others professing the same faith, and doing
the same work. From the sameness of human nature in every age, we can
quite understand how each party would defend their sectarianism. "We
are of Apollos," some might have thus said. "We do not admire Peter.
He is too much of a Jew for us; besides, he denied his Lord, and
dissembled along with Barnabas at Antioch. We prefer our own minister
even to Paul. He is a much more eloquent man; of a much more
commanding figure and appearance; and how profound he is in his
knowledge of the Scriptures!" "We are of Paul," others might have
cried; "for he was chosen specially by Christ; and he has been
honoured by Him more than all; and does not the Church of Corinth,
moreover, owe its very existence to his preaching and labours? It is
a shame to belong to any other!" "We cling to Peter," a third party
might have said; "he lived with Christ when He was on earth, saw His
miracles, heard His words, was treated after the resurrection with
special love, and received from Him a special commission to feed His
sheep. Apollos is no _apostle_; and as for Paul, he persecuted the
Church, and confesses himself that he is not meet to be called an
apostle. Apollos is good, Paul better, but Peter is best!" "We belong
to neither," others could have boasted: "your divisions are so many,
your differences so great, that we have retired from all your meetings
in weariness; and each of us are of Christ only, and call no man
master but Him; you should all join us, the _Christians_:"--thus
making use of the very name of Christ to characterise a sect. Such
were some of the schisms; and to the schismatics St Paul said, "Ye are
yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and
divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I
am of Paul; and another, I of Apollos; are ye not carnal?"

The apostle desired to heal those schisms, and to bring the members of
the Church into one mind. How did he endeavour to effect this?

Had he been a Papist, he might have said--"Why thus divided? Because
you are not building on the one true foundation, which is Peter! Do
you not understand the meaning of the name, _Cephas_, or the Rock,
given to him, and intended to teach all Christians that the temple of
the Church was to be built upon _this_ rock, and this only; against
which the gates of hell cannot prevail? Therefore, you who say, 'I am
of Cephas,' are right; all others are schismatics." Never, apparently,
had a man a better opportunity of revealing to the world this great
secret of unity than St. Paul had, if such was his faith, especially
when he compares the Church to a building, and speaks of a
foundation-stone. "As a wise master-builder," he says, "I have laid
the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.... For other foundation
can no man lay than that is laid, which is"--Cephas, or the rock? No!
but "_Jesus Christ_." Not one word of Cephas as the centre of unity.
Strange silence for a "Roman Catholic!"

Had Paul been a "High Churchman," viewing with deep awe the mystery of
sacramental grace, we can understand how he would have spoken to the
schismatic Corinthians of the vast importance of their submitting to
absolute apostolic authority, and of "the awful powers with which
God's ministers had been vested, of regenerating souls by the waters
of baptism;" and how "such a clergy should command unqualified
obedience." If these, or anything like these, were Paul's sentiments,
and such as we are every day familiar with, it is not easy, to say the
least of it, to account for his language to the Corinthians. What does
_he_ say of the exalted privilege of being able to baptize? "I thank
God I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius:" strange words
from a "High Churchman!" or a "High" Baptist! "I baptized also the
household of Stephanas: besides, _I know not_ whether I baptized any
other:" strange forgetfulness on such a supposed centre point of
Church unity! "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the
gospel:" strange idea of the relative importance of preaching and
baptizing for a "High Churchman" to hold! And as to the "commanding
authority" of the apostles, merely because they were apostles, apart
from, the commanding authority of the eternal truth which they
"commended" to the conscience and judgment of their hearers, Paul
asks, "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos?" Methinks we hear some
exclaim: "Oh, these men were the greatest, the most remarkable, the"--We
will not, however, take up space by repeating the laudations
with which some would exalt their authority, with the view of
magnifying the mere official authority of the clergy. But what says
the apostle himself? He says they were only "ministers by whom ye
believed." It was not the minister who did good, but the truth which
he ministered, and which he had received from another. It was not the
man who sowed the seed, or the basket which held it, that gave the
crop; but the living seed itself. Hence he adds: "So then neither is
he that planteth _anything_, nor he that watereth!" What? Neither
presbyter nor bishop, neither Paul nor Apollos, _anything_? Strange
words, again we say, from a "High Churchman," whether Episcopalian,
Presbyterian, or any other denomination; _for "High Churchmen" are
common to all Churches_. Yet not strange from St Paul, who knew how
true his words were, and that not man, but God, who gave the increase,
was "everything."

What, then, was the apostle's method of curing schism, and of making
men truly one who had been "divided?"

He directed every eye, and every heart, and every spirit, to one
object--JESUS CHRIST, the personal Saviour, the centre and source of
unity; in fellowship with whom all men would find their fellowship
with each other.

"We preach Christ crucified." "I determined not to know anything among
you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." "For other foundation can
no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." These are his
declarations. And his conclusion from this great and blessed principle
is just what we might expect: "He that glorieth, let him glory in the
Lord." "Let no man glory in men: for all things are yours; whether
Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or
things present, or things to come: all are yours; and ye are Christ's,
and Christ is God's."

Professing Christians would do well to weigh the apostle's cure of
schism. Our divisions of heart and alienation of spirit are unworthy
of educated men, and of the citizens of a free state, while they are
in spirit utterly subversive of the whole principles of Protestantism.
What! not able to hear the gospel preached from the lips of a minister
of another church, nor to remember Jesus with him or his people?
Not willing even to be on kind, or perhaps on speaking terms with
a brother minister? Such things not only have been, but _are_; and
while, thank God, they are repudiated and detested by men of all
Churches, they are common, we fear, among too many. No wonder Roman
Catholics point at our frequent boasting of Protestant "oneness in all
essentials," and ask with triumph, how it happens, then, that we are
such enemies on mere non-essentials? How it is that we pretend to be
one when attacking Papists, and then turn our backs on each other
when left alone? No wonder the High Churchman of England asks the
Presbyterians in Scotland to forgive _him_ if he never enters our
Presbyterian churches, hears our clergy, partakes of our sacraments,
when so very many among ourselves practically excommunicate each
other. No wonder the infidel lecturer describes to crowds of
intelligent mechanics, in vivid and powerful language, the spectacle
presented by many among our Christian clergy and people, and asks,
with a smile of derision, If _ithis_ is a religion of love which they
see around them--if these men believe the gospel--and if Christians
have really more kindness and courtesy than "publicans and sinners?"
Worse than all, no wonder our churches languish, and men are asking
with pain, why the ministry is not producing more true spiritual
fruit, which is love to God and man? The Churches are, no doubt,
_doing_ much. We have meetings, associations, and organisations, with
no end of committees, resolutions, and motions; we raise large sums of
money; we have large congregations;--yet all this, and much more, we
can do from pride, vanity, love of party, love of power, the spirit
of proselytism, and the like. We may possess many gifts, understand
mysteries and all knowledge; we may bestow our goods to feed the poor,
in zeal for Church or party we may be willing to give our bodies to
be burned; but before God it profiteth us nothing, unless we have
the "love that suffereth long, and is kind, that envieth not, that
vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself
unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no
evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth
all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all

Surely our schisms may be healed if there be a Saviour thus to heal

One word in conclusion. Neither the letter nor the spirit of the
apostle's teaching condemn a warm and firm attachment to "our own
Church," but antagonism only to other Churches. A soldier may love,
and ought to love his own regiment with peculiar affection, more
especially if he has been born in it, and brought up from childhood,
as it were, in its ranks. And it should be his honest pride to see
that it is one of the best drilled, most orderly, most efficient, and
bravest in the whole army. But that is no reason why he should
go about with a drum to recruit from, weaken, or break up other
regiments; or why he should deny that there _are_ other regiments
which equally belong to the grand army, and may be even more efficient
than his own, though they do not wear the exact pattern of uniform, or
may charge on horseback while his marches on foot, or possess cannon
while his own have but small arms. Why should he be jealous of their
achievements? Why should he be disposed to fight against them instead
of against the common enemy? And, worse than all, why assert and boast
that this one regiment of his is _the_ army, while all others are mere
unauthorised volunteers, or enemies in disguise? It is full time for
sensible men to give up this vain boasting, proud antagonism, and
irritating ambitious proselytism.

Instead, therefore, of any man attempting, what is impossible during a
lifetime, to understand the distinctive principles of each of the many
sections of the Christian Church, so as to "join" that one which seems
most "pure" and "scriptural," he is much better, as a rule, to remain,
if it is at all possible for him, in the Church of his fathers, in
which he was baptized and reared, and to do all in his power, by his
example, his prayers, and his steady, manly, firm attachment, to
make "his own Church" more efficient, and to permit others, without
interference, to do the same. Thus may a man be a good Presbyterian
in Scotland, and also a good Episcopalian in England, or possibly a
Nonconformist in both, unless he believes in the Divine origin and
authority of some one ecclesiastical system, and the mundane origin of
all others. With perfect consistency and sincerity he may dearly love
his Church, but yet love Christians more, because he loves Christ best
of all.

These sentiments may be considered by many good Christians as sinfully
"latitudinarian;" but to all who think so we would suggest the
following simple experiment. When they have perused with care and
reflection those portions of the Epistles of St Paul, and those
incidents in his missionary journeys, which reveal most clearly what
we might term his "church views," let them conceive of this same holy
apostle suddenly awaking from his grave and visiting the different
churches in our country, and then honestly say, from what they know
of his character and teaching, whether they think it improbable or
impossible that he would countenance all our churches in so far as
they sincerely desired to do God's will and advance His kingdom. Would
he not as of old say, "Grace be with all who love the Lord Jesus
Christ in sincerity!"

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.
For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be
within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek thy


The mutual dependence of material things is perceived on a moment's
reflection. Not one atom in creation, for example, exists by itself
or for itself alone, but, directly or indirectly, influences and is
influenced by every other atom. The movements of the tiniest wave
which rises slowly over the dry pebble on the beach, marking the
progress of the advancing tide in the inland bay, is determined by the
majestic movements of the great ocean, with all its tides which sweep
and circulate from pole to pole. The rain-drop which falls into the
heart of a wild-flower, and rests there with its pure and sparkling
diamond-lustre, owes its birth to the giant mountains of the old
earth, to the great sea, to the all-encompassing atmosphere, to
the mighty sun; and is thus, by a chain of forces, united in its
existence, its figure, its motion, and its rest, to the most distant
planet, which, beyond the ken of the telescope, whirls along its path
on the mysterious outskirts of space. Thus, too, the needle of the
electric telegraph trembles beneath the influence of hidden powers
which pervade the earth, which flash in the thunder-storm, awaken the
hurricane, or burst in those bright and brilliant coruscations that
shoot across the midnight of our northern sky. And so

"The whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God."

But the unity which exists among intelligent and responsible
_persons_, their mutual dependence and relationship, is just as
real as that which obtains among material _things_, and is far more
wonderful, more solemn and important in its nature, causes, and

The human race is an organic whole. The individual man is more
intimately united to every other man, and to all past and coming
generations, than the leaf which flutters on the twig of a great tree
is connected with the tree itself, and with every other leaf that
swells its foliage, or with the seed which was ages ago planted in the
soil, and from which the noble plant has issued. That organic unity
of the Church, springing chiefly out of a common life, derived from
Christ and maintained by His indwelling Spirit, and which the apostle
Paul so fully illustrates by the union of the members of the human
frame, holds equally true of the whole family of man.

And what is true in this respect of the human race, is as true of all
spiritual intelligences in the universe of God. "We are all members
one of another." We form a part of a mighty whole that finds its unity
in God. Subtle links from within and from without in God's infinite
network, bind us for good or evil, for weal or woe, to spirits of
light and of darkness; to principalities and powers in other spheres
and systems of being, from the lowest outcast in the unseen world of
criminals, up to Gabriel before the throne of God; while over all,
comprehending all, sustaining and harmonising all, is the great I
AM--Father, Son, and Spirit.

Consider, for example, how, according to the arrangements of the
Divine government, man is linked to man from the mere necessities of
his physical and social being.

In this aspect of our life it is evident that its whole history is one
of mutual dependence, and one in which we are compelled to receive
and to give, to partake and to share. We enter upon life as weak,
unconscious infants, depending every moment on other eyes to watch for
us, and other hands to minister to us, while we kindle in their hearts
the most powerful emotions, and unconsciously react upon them for joy
or sorrow. But we are not less dependent on our fellow-creatures for
our continuance in life from the cradle to the grave. There is not a
thread of clothing which covers our body, not a luxury which is placed
on our table, not an article which supplies the means of labour, not
one thing which is required by us as civilised beings, but involves
the labours and the sacrifices of others in our behalf; while by the
same law we cannot choose but contribute to their well-being. The
cotton which the artisan weaves or wears has been cultivated by
brothers beneath a tropical sun, and possibly beneath a tyrant's lash.
The tea he drinks has been gathered for him by brothers on the unknown
hill-sides of distant China. The oil which lights his lamp has been
fetched for him out of the depths of the Arctic seas by his sailor
brothers; and the coal that feeds his fire has been dug out by swarthy
brethren who have been picking and heaving for him amidst the darkness
and dangers of the mine. If the poorest mother writes a letter to her
son in some distant spot in India and puts it into the window-slit of
a village post-office, without a word being spoken, how much is done
for her before that letter reaches its destination! The hands of
unknown brethren will receive it, and transmit it; rapid trains will
hurry it over leagues of railways; splendid steamships will sail with
it, and hundreds of busy hands will pass it from port to port, from
land to land. It is watched day and night, through calm and hurricane,
and precious lives are risked to keep it in security, until in silence
and in safety, after months of travel, it is delivered from the
mother's hand into the hand of her child.

And thus it is that, whether we choose it or not, we are placed by God
as "members one of another," so that we cannot, if we would, separate
ourselves from our brother. For good or evil, prosperity or adversity,
we are bound up with him in the bundle of this all-pervading and
mysterious life. If one member suffers or rejoices, all are compelled
in some degree to share his burden of joy or sorrow. Let disease, for
example, break out in one district or kingdom, and, like a fire, it
will rush onward, passing away from the original spot of outbreak, and
involving families and cities far away in its desolating ruin. Let war
arise in one portion of the globe, it smites another. The passion or
the pride of some rude chief of a barbarous tribe in Africa or New
Zealand, or the covetousness and selfish policy of some party in
America, tell upon a poor widow in her lonely garret in the darkest
corner of a great city; and she may thus be deprived of her labour
through the state of commerce, as really as if the hand of the
foreigner directly took her only handful of meal out of the barrel, or
extinguished the cruise of oil, leaving her in poverty and darkness to
watch over her dying child.

Now all this system of dependence, as we have said, is beyond our
will. We do not choose it, but are compelled to accept of it. It is a
fact or power, like birth or death, with which we have to do in spite
of us. No questions are asked by the great King as to whether we will
have it so or not; yet of what infinite importance to us for good or
evil is this great law of God's government. We are thus made to feel
that a will higher than ours reigns, and that by that supreme will we
are so united to one another, that no man can live for himself or die
for himself alone; that we _are_ our brothers keeper, and he ours;
that we cannot be indifferent to his social well-being without
suffering in our own; that our selfishness, which would injure him,
must return in some form to punish ourselves; and that such is the
ordained constitution of humanity, that though love and a consistent
selfishness start from different points, they necessarily lead to the
same point, and make it our interest, as it is our duty, to love our
neighbour as ourselves.

But here we may just notice, that some of those evils which afflict
one portion of the human family are nevertheless the occasion of good,
when they remind us of our common humanity. Such painful events, for
example, as the famine in the Highlands of Scotland, which called
forth the sympathies of kindreds and tongues, unknown by name, to
the sufferers, and was relieved by the inhabitants of China, and
Hindostan; or the like famine in Ireland, which the Mohammedan sultan
was among the first to help to alleviate; or the Syrian massacres, or
Indian famine, that united Jew and Gentile, Protestant and Catholic,
in the bonds of pity;--these wounds of humanity are surely not without
their good; when they afford an opportunity to the Samaritan of
shewing mercy to the Jew, and cause the things which separate and the
differences that alienate man from man, to be for a time forgotten in
the presence of their common brotherhood. And thus, too, the shutting
of the Southern ports of America, which entails temporary distress
upon many in our manufacturing districts, reminds us how the
sufferings of others must be shared by ourselves, calls forth the
benevolent sympathies of the rich to alleviate the wants of the needy,
and bridges over with love and gratitude the gulf which too often
separates classes; while, on the other hand, it may form the indirect
means of developing the growth of cotton, and the consequent industry
of thousands in Africa and India, who will thus be brought into closer
and more fraternal relationships with civilised nations.

But there is another link, and one more spiritual, which binds man to
man for good or evil, and that is _moral character_. This influence is
partly beyond and partly within the region of our will. That which is
beyond the will is the fact of the necessary influence of character;
while within the will is the character, good or bad, which we may
choose to possess. Now, it cannot be questioned that character tells
for good or evil beyond its possessor. That which a man _is_--that
sum total made up of the items of his beliefs, purposes, affections,
tastes, and habits, manifested in all he does and does _not_--is
contagious in its tendency, and is ever _photographing_ itself on
other spirits. He himself may be as unconscious of this emanation of
good or evil from his spirit, as he is of the contagion of disease
from his body, or--if that were equally possible--of the contagion of
good health. But the fact, nevertheless, is certain. If the light is
in him, it must shine; if darkness reigns, it must shade. If he glows
with love, its warmth will radiate; if he is frozen with selfishness,
the cold will chill the atmosphere around him; and if he is corrupt
and vile, he will poison it. Nor is it possible for any one to occupy
a neutral or indifferent position. In some form or other he _must_
affect others. Were he to banish himself to a distant island, or even
enter the gates of death, he still exercises a positive influence, for
he is _a loss_ to his brothers; the loss of that most blessed gift of
God, even that of a living man to living men--of a being who ought to
have loved and to have been beloved. "No man liveth to himself, or
dieth to himself;"--he must in some form, for their good or evil,
their gladness or sadness, influence others.

The influence of individual character extends from one generation to
another. The world is moulded by it. Does not history turn on the
influence exercised by the first and second Adam?

No one questions the reality of the influence of a bad character upon
others. The existence of evil persons here or elsewhere, and their
power to infect other persons through the foul malaria of the evil
in which they live, may be unaccountably mysterious when seen in the
light of God's infinite love; but they are, nevertheless, the most
certain facts within the field of our own observation and experience.

This malign influence is of every degree--from the undesigned yet real
injury which is done to others by the merely slothful or indifferent
man, who never, as he says, "intended to injure any one," and "never
thought" he was doing so, but who, nevertheless, injures many a cause,
and freezes and discourages many a heart, by his selfishness in _not_
thinking and _not_ doing;--up to the injury which is done by the cool,
designing villain, who, in his plots and plans to sacrifice others to
himself, has reached the utmost limit which distinguishes the bad man
from the demon.

The evil influence exercised by wicked parents on their families;
by wicked companions upon their fellows; by wicked books upon their
readers; by wicked persecutors and tyrants upon the world--needs
neither proof nor illustration. Yet let us remember, for our strength
and comfort, that because we are not things but persons, it is
impossible to compel any man, from whatever influence, to prefer the
darkness to light, or to choose the evil instead of the good. Hence
the power which was designed to lead us into evil may be converted
by ourselves into a power for good, while it strengthens our moral
principles, demands a firmer faith in God, and prompts more earnest
desires and efforts to overcome the evil by the good. It is thus too,
in the wonderful providence of God, that while evil remains evil, it
has nevertheless been the indirect means of calling forth the noblest
efforts on the part of man, and on God's part the most glorious
revelations of His character in conquering it, and such as, without
evil in the universe, could not, as far as we can see, have been

But no less real is the influence upon others of a _holy_ character.
"The evil men do lives after them;" but we do not believe that "the
good is oft interred with their bones." No, it is as immortal as the
Divine Being in whom it originates. The good must ever live, and "walk
up and down the earth," like a living spirit guided by the living God,
to convey blessings to the children of men, and is more powerful,
diffusive, and eternal than the power of evil. It lives in humanity,
in some form or other, like the subtile substance of material things,
which though ever changing never perishes, but adds to the stability,
the beauty, and the grandeur of the universe. The influence of the
holy character passes even beyond the stars, giving joy to our angel
brothers, and to our elder brother Jesus Christ, who, in seeing
reflected in His people His own love to His God and our God, to His
neighbour and ours, beholds the grand result of the travail of His
soul, and is "satisfied."

The grand practical lesson, therefore, which is impressed upon us by
this fact of the union of man with man, is for each of us to be right,
and to do light. Each man is responsible for himself, and for himself
only, for what he himself _is_ and _does_. The secret, then, is a very
simple one, by which we can at once receive all the good that can
possibly be derived from whatever influences are brought to bear upon
ourselves, and do all the good which can possibly be conferred by
whatever influence we can exercise upon others; and it is this--to
_be_ good ourselves! This is the one centre point of light in the
soul, its one germ of immortal life, which must be possessed in order
that all light and life may come to us, and emanate from us. Let us
only possess the right state of spirit to God and man, and we have the
divine chemistry which will convert all we receive and all we give
into what will surely bless ourselves and others.

And if it is asked how this secret can be ours, we have but one reply,
and it is the old one--Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, live, and
love! Jesus Christ is the living Head of the human family. "The Head
of every man is Christ." As the eternal Son, He dwelt among us, and
revealed to us the Father and Himself, the elder brother. "He is the
propitiation for our sins; and not for our sins only, but also for the
sins of the whole world." He has ascended up on high, and ever liveth
for us as Mediator, "to bring many sons and daughters unto God." He
has sent His Holy Spirit to be with us, and to abide in us for ever.
That Spirit reveals to all who will receive His teaching, the glory of
God our Father in Christ Jesus the Son, our Brother.

Just in proportion as men know God as their Father in Christ, and
become true sons to Him, will they become united to each other as true
brethren; and thus the real and highest unity of man with man will be
realised as the Church of Christ possesses the earth, and her prayer
is answered, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is
done in heaven!"


The beginning of the nineteenth century marks an epoch of revival in
the Protestant Church. It would be going beyond the limits prescribed
by our subject to consider the causes of that remarkable reaction into
indifference of life, or of positive error in doctrine, which followed
more or less rapidly the stirring period of the Reformation. Such
tides, indeed, in the affairs of men,--now rushing with irresistible
waves to the utmost limit of the land; then receding and leaving
behind but a few pools to mark where the waters once had been; and
again, after a longer or a shorter interval, advancing with a deep
flood over the old ground,--are among the most striking phenomena in

The last century witnessed the Protestant Church at its lowest ebb. We
thankfully acknowledge that God did not leave Himself without holy men
as living witnesses in every branch of that Church. And we record,
with deepest gratitude, how, more than in any other country, He
preserved in our own country both individual and congregational
life, with orthodox standards of faith. Still, taken as a whole, the
Protestant Church was in a dead state throughout the world; while,
during the same period, infidelity was never more rampant, and never
more allied with philosophy, politics, science, and literature. It was
the age of the acute Hume and learned Gibbon; of the ribald Paine, and
of the master of Europe, Voltaire; with a host of _literati_ who were
beginning to make merry, in the hope that God's prophets were at last
to be destroyed from the earth. Rationalism triumphed in all the
Continental Churches. Puritanism in England became deeply tainted with
Unitarianism. The descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers had, to a large
extent, embraced the same creed in America. The Established Churches
in England and Scotland, though preserving their Confessions, and
having very many living men in the ministry, suffered, nevertheless,
from that wintry cold which had frozen the waves of the great
Reformation sea, and which was adding chill to chill. The French
Revolution marked the darkest hour of this time; yet it was the
hour which preceded the dawn. It was the culminating point of the
infidelity of kings, priests, and people; the visible expression
and embodiment of the mind of France, long tutored by falsehood and
impiety; the letting loose of Satan on earth, that all might see and
wonder at the Beast! That Revolution inscribed lessons in letters
of blood for the Church and for the nations of the world to learn.
Christians accordingly clung nearer to their Saviour amidst the
dreadful storm which shook and destroyed every other resting-place,
and were drawn to the throne of mercy and grace, thereby becoming
stronger in faith and more zealous in life. The indifferent were
roused to earnest thought by the solemn events which were taking
place around them. Speculative infidels even, became alarmed at the
practical results of their theories. Mere worldly politicians trembled
at the spectacle of unprincipled millions wielding power that affected
the destinies of Europe, and recognised the necessity of religion to
save the State at least, if not to save the soul. Men of property,
from the owner of a few acres to the merchant prince, and from no
higher motive than the love of their possessions, acknowledged that
religion was the best guarantee for their preservation. In countless
ways did this upheaving of society operate in the same direction with
those deeper forces which were beginning to stir the Churches of
Britain, and to quicken them into new life.

The history of Europe during the first part of the present century,
is a history written in blood. It is one of war in all its desolating
horrors, and also in all its glorious achievements and victories in
the cause of European liberty and national independence. Never was
war so universal. It raged in every part of the earth. For years, the
Peninsula was a great battlefield. Belgium and the plains of Germany
were saturated with blood. Allied hosts conquered France. Armies
crossed the Alps and ravaged Italy, and were buried beneath the snows
of Russia. The contest was waged from the Baltic to the Bosphorus. The
old battle-fields of Greece, Egypt, Palestine, Asia Minor, Persia, and
the Crimea, were again disturbed. War swept the peninsula of India to
the confines of Cashmere. It penetrated beyond the walls of China, and
visited the islands of the Eastern Archipelago; touched the coasts of
Arabia, and swept round Africa, from the Cape to Algiers. It marched
through the length and breadth of the great Western Continent, from
the St Lawrence to the Mississippi, and from Central to Southern
America. Every kingdom experienced its horrors _but our own_; every
capital was entered by the enemy _but our own!_ During all this
terrible period, our Sabbath services were never broken by the cry of
battle. The dreadful hurricane raged without, but never for a single
hour disturbed the peace of our beloved island-home. No revolution
from within destroyed our institutions, and no power from without
prevented us from improving them. The builders of our spiritual
temples did not require to hold the sword. Our victories, with their
days of national thanksgiving, and our anxieties, with their days of
national fasting, tended to deepen a sense of religion in every heart.
Men of God, in rapid succession, rose in all the Churches. A pious
laity began to take the lead in advancing the cause of evangelism. In
Parliament there was one man, who, by the purity of his private
life, the noble consistency, uncompromising honesty, and unwearied
philanthropy of his public career, along with his faithful published
testimony for the truth as it is in Christ, did more, directly
and indirectly, than any other of his day for the revival of true
religion, especially among the influential classes of our land: that
man was William Wilberforce.

But without dwelling upon the fact of the great revival which has
occurred in the Protestant Church during the present century, let
us notice one of its more prominent results. We mean the increased
activity manifested by all its branches in advancing the Redeemer's

At the commencement of this century, the whole Protestant missionary
staff throughout the world amounted to ten societies only. Of these,
however, two only had really entered the mission-field with any degree
of vigour--viz., the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in
Foreign Parts; and, above all, the Society of the Moravian Brethren.
The Wesleyan, Baptist, London, and Church Missionary Societies, though
nominally in existence, had hardly commenced their operations. There
were, besides the above, two small societies on the Continent; two in
Scotland; and not one in all America! How stands the case now? The
Protestant Church, instead of ten, has fifty-one societies; the great
majority of which have each more labourers, and a greater income, than
all the societies together of the Protestant Church previous to 1800!

If the last sixty years be divided into three equal periods, nine
societies belong to the first, fifteen to the second, and twenty-four
to the third.

The following facts, collected from statistics of the great missionary
societies up to 1861, will afford--as far as mere dry figures can
do--a general idea of the present strength of the mission army of the
Protestant Church, with some of its results:--

There are now 22 missionary societies in Great Britain, 14 in North
America, and 15 on the Continent of Europe; in all, 51. These employ,
in round numbers, 12,000 agents, including ordained missionaries,
(probably 2000,) teachers, catechists, &c.; occupy 1200 stations; have
335,000 communicants from heathendom; 252,000 scholars; 460 students
training for the ministry; and are supported by an income of L860,000
per annum.

The greatest results have been attained by England. Connected with her
great societies, there are nearly 7000 agents, 630 stations, 210,000
communicants, 208,000 scholars, with an annual income of L510,000.[A]

[Footnote A: One or two facts in connexion with missionary effort may
interest our readers:--

Mr Mueller of Bristol supports, in connexion with his famous Orphanage,
22 foreign and 80 home missionaries.

The Moravian Missionary Society has sent, since 1732, 2000
missionaries, of whom 643 have died in mission service; 9 on mission
journeys; 13 on the voyage out or home; 22 by shipwreck; and 12 were

Gossner of Berlin alone originated and conducted a mission which has
sent out 141 missionaries. Pastor Harms of Hermannsburg has also,
by his own efforts, built a mission ship, and has sent out 150
missionaries, of whom 100 are colonists, and proposes to send 24 every
two years.

Ten years ago there was little or no fruit among the _Kohls_ of India.
There are now 30,000 receiving Christ.

In India there are 500 missionaries; in Tinnevelly, above 70,000

The American Board alone has sent out in fifty years 900 missionaries
(500 being native) and 400 teachers; 55,000 have been received into
church--membership, and 175,000 children passed through their schools.

America contributes L180,000 to foreign missions, and 2000 agents.

The Presbyterian Churches of the world have come late into the field,
but they contribute about 900 agents, and 230 ordained missionaries,
with an income of about L110,000.

One of the oldest Protestant missionary societies in existence (though
now confined to home operations) is the Society in connexion with the
Church of Scotland "for Promoting Christian Knowledge." It supported
Brainerd and the Elliots more than a century ago.]

But in order to enable our readers still more clearly to realise the
advance which the Church has made during the last half century, let
us consider the progress of one of those societies, and take as an
illustration the Church Missionary Society. It was founded a few
months before 1800. Its income in 1802 was L356. It now amounts to
L104,273. In 1804, it had one station abroad, two ordained European
missionaries, but no native assistants. It has now 148 stations,
258 ordained clergymen, (many of whom have studied in the English
Universities,) a large staff of native clergy, with 2034 other agents,
most of whom are natives. In 1810, it had 35 male and 13 female
scholars in its schools; it has now 31,000 scholars. In 1816, the good
Mr Bickersteth had the privilege of receiving its first converts,
amounting to six only, into the communion of the Church. Its
communicants now number about 21,000.

* * * * *

Let us, however, examine the missionary labours of the Protestant
Church during this century from another point of view. Take the map of
the world, look over its continents and islands, and contrast their
condition, as to the means of grace, in 1800 and 1862.

In 1800; the only missions east of the Cape of Good Hope were in
India. These were confined to the Baptist Mission, protected in the
Danish settlement of Serampore; and the missions in Tanjore, in
Southern India. The former was begun by Carey and Thomas, (in 1793,)
who were joined by a few brethren in 1799. The first convert they made
was in 1800. The latter mission had existed since 1705, and numbered
about nine labourers at the commencement of the century.[A]

[Footnote A: The first Protestant missionary who visited India was
Ziegenbalg, who was sent out by the Halle-Danish Missionary Society in
1705, to Tranquebar. He was joined by Plutschow in 1719. The mission
was then adopted by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.
Grundler followed in 1720, and Schultze in 1727. The mission, in 1736,
had four stations, one being in Madras; 24 native assistants; and 3517
baptized members! The great Schwartz laboured in, and extended the
mission from 1749 till 1798. According to Dr Carey, 40,000 had been
converted to Christianity during the last century through this
mission. Dr Claudius Buchanan reckons the number as high as 80,000!]

Of the East India Company's chaplains, Claudius Buchanan alone had
the courage to advocate in India the missionary cause; and his sermon
preached upon the subject in 1800, in Calcutta, was then generally
deemed a bold and daring step. Hindustan was closed by the East India
Company against the missionaries of the Christian Church. China, too,
seemed hermetically sealed against the gospel. The Jesuit mission had
failed. Christianity was proscribed by an imperial edict. Protestant
missions had not commenced. The language of the nation, like its
walls, seemed to forbid all access to the missionary. In Africa
there were but few missionaries, and these had lately arrived at the
Cape.[A] In the black midnight which brooded over that miserable land,
the cry of tortured slaves alone was heard. New Zealand, Australia,
and the scattered islands of the Southern Seas had not yet been
visited by one herald of the gospel. A solitary beacon gleaming on the
ocean from the missionary ship _Duff_ had indeed been seen, but not
yet welcomed by the savages of Tahiti. The mission was abandoned in
1809, and not a convert left behind! No Protestant missionary had
preached to those Indian tribes beyond the Colonies, who wandered over
the interminable plains which stretch from Behring's Straits to Cape
Horn. Mohammedan States were all shut up against the gospel; and to
forsake the Crescent for the Cross, was to die. In this thick darkness
which covered heathendom, the only light to be seen--except in
India--was in the far north, shed by the self-denying Moravians,--a
light which streamed like a beautiful aurora over the wintry snow and
ice-bound coasts of Greenland. To this gloomy picture we must add the
indifference of the Protestant Church to God's ancient people. No
society then existed for their conversion; and of them it might indeed
be said, "This is Israel, whom no man seeketh after!"

[Footnote A: The first missionary to South Africa was George Schmidt,
sent by the Moravian Brethren in 1736. He laboured alone with some
success till 1743, when he was compelled by the Dutch East India
Company to return to Europe. The mission was resumed in 1792, when
three additional missionaries sailed for the Cape. A few others joined
them in 1798. At the beginning of the century, the converts amounted
to 304. The illustrious Dr Vanderkemp, along with three other
missionaries, were sent to South Africa by the London Missionary
Society in 1799. The only attempts made to Christianise Western Africa
previous to 1800 were by the Moravians in Guinea, in 1737; but all the
missionaries, eleven in number, dying, the attempt was abandoned; and
by the Scottish Missionary Society, in 1797, who sent thither six
missionaries. One (Greig) was murdered, another (Brunton) returned,
and went to Tartary; the rest, we believe, went to oilier spheres
of labour. The Church Missionary Society entered upon this field in

How changed is the aspect of the world now! There is hardly a
spot upon earth (if we except those enslaved by Popery) where the
Protestant missionary may not preach the gospel without the fear of
persecution. The door of the world has been thrown open, and the
world's Lord and Master commands and invites His servants to enter,
and, in His name, to take possession of the nations. Since 1812,
India, chiefly through the exertions of Mr Wilberforce,[A] has been
made accessible to the missionaries of every Church. Christian schools
and chapels have been multiplied; colleges have been instituted;
thousands have been converted to Christ; and tens of thousands
instructed in Christianity. The cruelties of heathenism have been
immensely lessened; infanticide prohibited; Sutteeism abolished; all
Government support withdrawn from idolatry; and the Hindu law of
inheritance has been altered to protect the native converts; while a
new era seems to be heralded by the fact that a native Christian rajah
has himself established a mission among his people.

[Footnote A: In 1812, we find from Mr Wilberforce's _Life_ (vol. iv.,
p. 10) how he was "busily engaged in reading, thinking, consulting,
and persuading," on the renewal of the East India Company's charter.
He was fully alive to the importance of the crisis with reference
to the interests of Christianity. He thus writes to his friend Mr
Butterworth:--"I have been long looking forward to the period of the
renewal of the East India Company's charter as to a great era, when I
hoped that it would please God to enable the friends of Christianity
to be the instruments of wiping away what I have long thought, next
to the slave-trade, the foulest blot on the moral character of our
countrymen--the suffering our fellow-subjects (nay, they even stand
toward us in the closer relation of our tenants) in the East Indies to
remain, without any effort on our part to enlighten and inform
them, under the grossest, the darkest, and most depraving system
of idolatrous superstition that almost ever existed on earth." The
deepest anxiety was felt by all Christians for the issue of the
debate. "I heard afterwards," he writes, "that many good men were
praying for us all night." These prayers and efforts were crowned with
success; and Mr Wilberforce, when communicating the joyful news to his
wife, writes--"Blessed be God! we carried our question triumphantly,
about three, or later, this morning!"]

All the islands in the Eastern Archipelago are now accessible to the
missionary; most of them have been visited. Ceylon has flourishing
congregations and schools; Madagascar has had her martyrs, and has
still her indomitable confessors.

China, with its teeming millions, has also been opened to the gospel.
The way had been marvellously prepared by Dr Morrison, who as early as
1807 had commenced the study of the language which he lived to master.
Accordingly, when the conquests of Britain had obtained admission for,
and secured protection to the missionaries as well as to the merchants
of all nations, the previous indefatigable labours of Morrison had
provided, for the immediate use of the Church of Christ, a dictionary
of the language, and a translation of the Word of God. The Christian
religion is tolerated by law since 1844, and may be professed freely
by the natives. The gospel is now advancing in that thickly-peopled
land of patience and industry, and native preachers are already
proclaiming to their countrymen the tidings of salvation.

Africa has witnessed changes still more wonderful. The abolition
of the British slave-trade in 1807, and of slavery in the British
dominions in 1834, has removed immense barriers in the way of the
gospel. The whole coasts of Africa are being girdled with the light of
truth. It has penetrated throughout the south, where the French[A] and
German Protestant Churches labour side by side with those of Britain
to civilise the degraded Bushman, the low Hottentot, and warlike
Kaffir. The chapel in Sierra Leone, built from the planks of condemned
slavers, and containing 1000 worshippers, is a type of the blessings
brought through Christianity to injured Africa.

[Footnote A: The missions of the French Protestant Church are situated
inland from Port Natal, and along the river Caledon from its junction
with the Orange River. It has gathered upwards of 2000 Bechuanas into
regular church-fellowship.]

Abyssinia has also been visited with every prospect of success.

And how glorious has been the triumph of the gospel throughout the
whole Pacific! In 1837, Williams was able to address royalty in these
noble words--"It must impart joy to every benevolent mind to know,
that by the efforts of British Christians upwards of _three hundred
thousand_ of deplorably ignorant and savage barbarians, inhabiting the
beautiful islands of the Pacific, have been delivered from a dark,
debasing, and sanguinary idolatry, and are now enjoying the civilising
influence, the domestic happiness, and the spiritual blessings which
Christianity imparts. In the island of Raratonga, which I _discovered_
in 1823, there are upwards of 3000 children under Christian
instruction daily; not a vestige of idolatry remains;[A] their
language has been reduced to a system, and the Scriptures, with other
books, have been translated. But this is only one of nearly a hundred
islands to which similar blessings have been conveyed." Tens of
thousands of souls more have been added to this number since these
words were written! In no part of heathendom has the gospel produced,
in so short a time, such wonderful fruit as in Polynesia. The labours
and sacrifices of the converted natives are more striking than in any
other missions. Many islands have been converted solely by means of a
native agency, and are superintended by native preachers only. Let us
take the Sandwich Islands as illustrating what has been accomplished
_for_ the natives, and _by_ them. The American Mission was commenced
in 1824. These islands have been converted long ago to Christianity,
so that not a vestige of idolatry remains, and not only do they
support their own clergy and schools, but have their own Bible and
Foreign Missionary Society. They raise for these objects about L4000
per annum, and support six missionaries to the heathen islands around
them. The communicants in the islands amount to upwards of 25,000, and
the children who attend the common schools to a still greater number.

[Footnote A: The first idol which, a catechist from Raratonga, who
visited London in 1848, ever beheld, was in the Museum of the London
Missionary Society.]

If we turn our eye to the great Western Continent, we see the gospel
preached to its wandering Indian tribes; while the condition of Mexico
and of California affords every prospect of the rapid extension of
truth through kingdoms long benighted.

Mohammedan countries have also been opened to the missionary. Through
the influence of Lord Aberdeen and Sir Stratford Canning, the Sultan
was induced in 1844 to give religious toleration to his subjects; so
that now, for the first time, a Mussulman may change his faith without
incurring punishment. Several societies labour in Algiers, Egypt,
Palestine, Asia Minor, Greece, and Constantinople. The Euphrates is
being dried up. The Mohammedan power is tottering, and ready to fall!
When it dies and is buried, who will wear mourning at its funeral?

And how strange is the meeting between the distant East and West,
the distant past and near present, visible in the fact, that it is
missionaries from America who now unveil to the dwellers in the land
of the Chaldees, and to the wanderers among the mountains which shadow
the birth-place of the human race, that blessed faith and hope which
dwelt in Abram, as he journeyed at the dawn of history from that old
land, and which has returned thither again in Christian men embued
with Abram's faith, after having accompanied civilisation around the
globe? God's blessing has signally attended the American mission among
the Nestorians. The revival of religion in their schools and churches
has been great and glorious.

May we not exclaim, What hath God wrought! Yet how can any statistics
carry to our hearts a sense of what has been done for immortal souls
by the gospel during this eventful period? What homes have been made
happy by it; what families united in the bonds of love; what sick-beds
soothed; what dying beds cheered; what minds illumined, and what
hearts filled with joy unspeakable, and full of glory!

* * * * *

In close connexion with mission work, we may state the progress made
during the present century in leavening the world with the Word of
God. Previous to the formation of the British and Foreign Bible
Society in 1804, there was not one society in existence whose sole
object was the distribution of the Bible in all lands. There are now
upwards of 50 principal, and 9000 auxiliary Bible societies. In 1804,
the Bible was accessible to only 200 millions of men. Now it exists in
tongues spoken by 600 millions. The London Bible Society alone sends
forth annually upwards of 1,787,000 copies. During the last sixty
years it has issued 39,315,226 Bibles, in 163 different languages, and
in 143 translations never before printed. Its receipts for 1862 amount
to L168,443.[A]

[Footnote A: The American Bible Society circulates upwards of 600,000
copies of the Word of God annually, at home and abroad. Besides
assisting in publishing translations issued by other societies, it has
been at the sole expense of publishing the Armeno-Turkish, and Modern
Syriac New Testament; the entire Bible for the Burmese, and also for
the Sandwich Islands; the Ojibbeway New Testament; the Gospels, or
some portion of the Bible, into the languages of the Sioux, Mohawks,
Seneca, and Cherokee Indians.]

It surely cannot fail to fill the heart of every Christian with
deepest thankfulness, to contemplate these glorious achievements. The
Church, like the angel seen in prophetic vision, has been flying with
the everlasting gospel to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and
people. It has given the Bible to the inhabitants of the old lands of
Egypt, Ethiopia, Arabia, Palestine, Asia Minor, and Persia; to the
indomitable Circassian; to the mountaineers of Affghanistan; to tribes
of India speaking thirty-two different languages or dialects; to the
inhabitants of Burmah, Assam, and Siam; to the islanders of Madagascar
and Ceylon; to the Malays and Javanese of the Eastern seas; to the
millions of China, and the wandering Kalmuck beyond her great wall;
to the brave New Zealander; to the teeming inhabitants of the island
groups which are scattered over the Southern Pacific; to the
African races, from the Cape to Sierra Leone; to the Esquimaux and
Greenlander, within the Arctic circle; and to the Indian tribes of
North America. All are now furnished with a translation of that
wonderful volume, which, with the light of the universal living Spirit
of God, at once reveals to man, in every age and clime, his lost and
miserable condition, and tells him of a remedy that is adapted to meet
every want of his being--to redeem him, by a moral power it alone can
afford, from all sin and misery, and to bring him into the glorious
fellowship of the holiness, the blessedness, and joy of Jesus Christ,
and all the family of God in earth and heaven![A]

[Footnote A: The following facts regarding tract societies may be here
stated:--The Religious Tract Society of London was formed in 1799.
During the first year of its operations, ending in May 1800, it had
issued 200,000 tracts. What is its present working power? Its annual
income from sales and benevolent contributions (L12,500) is L95,000.
Its annual distribution of tracts, including handbills, from the
London Depository is--in English, 20,870,074, and in foreign
languages, 537,729, making an annual total of 21,407,803. It publishes
tracts in 117 different languages. Taking into account the number of
affiliated societies, the total probable _annual_ distribution of
tracts, British and foreign, in connexion with the London Tract
Society, amounts to 28,500,000. Several religious bodies in the United
States maintain Tract or "Publication" Societies. But the "American
Tract Society" (founded 1825) is the largest and most influential in
the United States, and has a catholic constitution similar to our
own Tract Society. It is supported by more than 700 auxiliary
societies--those in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York being large
and efficient. We may add that its circulation is not confined to the
United States, but extends to Mexico, Central and South America, and
to those districts in the East and Asia Minor where the American
missionaries are labouring. It has issued upwards of 200,000,000 of
publications since its commencement.]

And now let us ask, What shall be the history of the Church during the
rest of this century? Without attempting with a vain or profane hand
to uncover what God has concealed, it is surely a comfort to be able
to take our stand on the immovable rock of His promises to Christ, and
to rejoice in the assurance, that, sooner or later, His name must be
glorious in all the earth!

But when? Is it too much to assert, that before the end of the present
century, the gospel shall have been preached to all nations, the Bible
translated into all tongues, and the last visible idol on earth cast
down amidst the triumphant songs of the Church of Christ? We
might expect this blessing judging only from the past, and the
constantly-increasing ratio with which society advances. Yet, as
revolutions in the physical world anticipate in a single night the
slow progress of ordinary causes, so, for aught we know, may God, by
some evolution of His providence, make one year do the work of many.

But while we do anticipate the most glorious results ever attained
by the human race during this century, we anticipate, also, from the
signs of the time, a desperate conflict of opposing _systems_, both of
truth and error. It is not a little remarkable, that never before was
there such a life and strength in every system as at this moment.
Protestantism, Popery, Infidelity, and even Judaism,[A] were never so
alive; _and never were alive together_ before. Does this not look like
a coming struggle?[B] But what may _appear_ suddenly and unexpectedly,
may nevertheless be the necessary results of long preparation; like
the water or the gas, which suddenly enter a thousand city houses to
refresh and illuminate them, but which are the results of years of
labour in digging trenches, laying pipes, and erecting reservoirs,
during all which time no streams of water or of gas were ever present
to the senses.

[Footnote A: It is only within twenty-five years that _preaching_ has
become common in all their synagogues, while, during the same period,
ten periodicals have been started by the Jews, in different parts of
the world, in defence of Judaism, in some form or other.]

[Footnote B: In a conversation which we had with Neander in 1848,
(immediately before the continental revolutions,) he said, "I believe
we are entering a period of unprecedented warfare, which will issue in
the increased glory and purity of the Church. The light and darkness
will every year be more and more separated; the one becoming more
bright the other more densely dark."]

But we know from the testimony of God's Word, strengthened by the
experience of past ages, how certain victory is in the end, however
long and apparently doubtful the campaign may be between His kingdom
and every form of evil. The day has been when "the Church" was "in the
wilderness," and when within that Church four men only held fast their
confidence in God, believed His word, and exhorted that Church to take
possession of the land of promise, saying, "Rebel not ye against
the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land: their defence is
departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not." And how
was that missionary sermon received? "All the congregation bade stone
them with stones!" And had they done so, the world's only true lights
were extinguished and lost in universal unbelief and heathenism. It
was in such desperate circumstances as these that the Lord himself
came to the rescue of the world, and it was then these marvellous
words of promise were littered, "As truly as I live my glory will fill
the earth!" The day has been, too, when "the Church" met in an upper
room with shut doors, for fear of the Jews; but it was even then that
its Lord said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth: go
ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: and, lo, I am with you
alway, even to the end of the world." Never more can the glory of God
appear to the eyes of the weakest faith to be so dim, or the cause of
Christ to be so hopeless, as it hath been in those days of old! The
glory of God _is_ filling the earth, and the gospel is being preached
to all nations. Mere rays of light, which we see breaking over the
mountain tops in heathen lands, are beautiful in themselves; but far
more beautiful to the eye of faith are the first beams of that sun
which is yet to stream into every valley now lying in darkness, and
steep in its glory all the habitations of men. Those notes of joy and
thanksgiving, too, are beautiful which ascend from many a heart in
"Kedar's wilderness afar;" but they are still more beautiful to the
ear of faith as echoes from the Rock of ages, and the prophetic song
uttered by "great voices in heaven," saying, "The kingdoms of this
world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He
shall reign for ever and ever!"


The patriarch Job experienced the darkness and mystery of sorrow
when he thus spoke:--"Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath
compassed me with his net. Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not
heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment. He hath fenced up my
way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths. He hath
stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head. He hath
destroyed me on every side, and I am gone; and mine hope hath he
removed like a tree." "Even to-day is my complaint bitter; my stroke
is heavier than my groaning. O that I knew where I might find him!
that I might come even to his seat!" "Behold, I go forward, but he is
not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: on the left hand,
where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the
right hand, that I cannot see him. But he knoweth the way that I take:
when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."

The sweet singer of Israel sung in darkness when he said:--"My heart
is sore pained within me; and the terrors of death are fallen upon
me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath
overwhelmed me. And I said, O that I had wings like a dove! for then
would I fly away, and be at rest." "Thou hast laid me in the lowest
pit, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and
thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Thou hast put away mine
acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them:
I am shut up, and I cannot come forth."

The prophet Jeremiah cried out of the depths of mysterious sorrow when
he poured forth these lamentations:--"I am the man that hath seen
affliction by the rod of his wrath. He hath led me, and brought me
into darkness, but not into light. Surely against me is he turned;
he turneth his hand against me all the day." "He hath set me in dark
places, as they that be dead of old. He hath hedged me about, that I
cannot get out; he hath made my chain heavy." "And thou hast removed
my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity. And I said, My
strength and my hope is perished from the Lord: remembering mine
affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them
still in remembrance, and is humbled in me."

And did not our blessed Lord himself experience, as a man, the mystery
of sorrow when he cried in Gethsemane, "If it be possible, let this
cup pass from me;" and when, during that "hour and power of darkness"
on the cross, He exclaimed, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken

If, then, our Father visits us with any sorrow which is to us dark and
mysterious, let us "not think it strange concerning the fiery trial
which is to try us, as if some strange thing happened to us." Let us
rather gratefully remember, that ever since our Lord has ascended up
on high, and given us His Spirit to teach us and to abide with us for
ever, and for our profit has recorded in His holy Word not only His
acts, but also His _ways_ towards the children of men, we are enabled
to see much, light piercing our greatest darkness and sorrow, and so
to know God as to strengthen our faith in His wisdom and love.

I do not know any narrative in the whole Word of God which at once
reveals so much of this darkness and light--of the mystery of sorrow
for a time, and the solution of the mystery afterwards--as that of the
sickness, death, and resurrection of Lazarus.

That family in Bethany, we know, consisted of Lazarus and his sisters,
Martha and Mary. They were poor, and unknown to the great and busy
world; but their riches and rank in the sight of the ministering
angels were great indeed, for Jesus "loved them." This was the charter
of the grandest inheritance. But though loved by Jesus, that love did
not hinder them from being visited by a sudden affliction, and plunged
for a while into deepest gloom. We are able in spirit to cross their
lowly threshold, and to understand all that took place in that humble
home: for human hearts and human sorrows are the same in every age.
Lazarus, the head of the house, is laid on a bed of sickness. We need
no details to enable all who have watched the progress of disease in
the beloved member of a family--and who has been exempted from this
anxiety?--to realise how the symptoms of illness, treated at first
perhaps lightly, would become more serious, then alarming, until
foreboding thoughts of death pained every tender affection; and we can
understand how advice would be asked from kind neighbours, and every
possible remedy applied. But in vain! The sufferer gets worse, and
the signs of approaching dissolution rapidly succeed in delirium,
prostration of strength, or altered features, until the chill of
hopelessness creeps over the hearts of the sisters, and hot tears fill
their watching eyes, and prayers tremble upon their pale lips, as in
silence they wait for the dread hour of death to their dear one! We
see it all!

But ere this last moment was reached by Martha and Mary, they are
full of hope that it may be averted, for they have a secret source of
relief in a Physician of body and soul. So long as they have Jesus
with them, they cannot despair. He is not, however, in Bethany, but at
Bethabara beyond the Jordan, a day's journey off. Yet they can send
for Him; and they accordingly do so, with this simple message,
"Lazarus, whom thou lovest, is sick." It is enough. There is not a
word of their love, or of the love of Lazarus to Him. The appeal is to
His own heart. No request is proffered. Everything is left to Himself.

Did they not, however, feel assured that Jesus would manifest His love
to them in the way which seemed to _them_ the best way,--nay, the one
way only by which they could receive comfort, and be relieved from
their anxiety and sorrow,--and that was by delivering Lazarus from
sickness and death? For they could not but recall at that moment the
many instances in which Jesus had displayed His power and love during
the three years He had lived amidst the sorrowing and suffering in
Judea; how unwearied His goodness had ever been; how "multitudes" had
come to Him, and "He healed them all;" how health had flowed from His
hands and His lips, and from His _very_ garments; how He had showered
down His blessings upon Gentile as well as Jew, upon those who were
aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and were accounted as "dogs;"
how He had healed by merely speaking a word at a distance, and even
anticipated prayer, by restoring a dead son to his widowed mother, who
had never asked or expected such a blessing. And now! will He refuse
to help His own beloved friend? Shall strangers, heathen, publicans
and sinners, be promptly heard and answered, and Lazarus whom He loved
forgotten? Impossible! The healing word must be spoken, or Jesus
himself will come and manifest Himself as mighty to save!

Who can doubt but that such were the anticipations of Martha and
Mary, when they sent in their distress the message to their Lord and
Friend--"Lazarus, whom thou lovest, is sick?"

The messenger has departed. With what anxiety must they have measured
out the time within which it was possible for Jesus to receive the
intelligence. They who have sent far away for a physician in a
critical case, when every minute was precious, can sympathise with
their anxiety. Time passes: has the Saviour yet received the tidings
of their grief? Probably not, for there is no improvement in Lazarus.
The healing word has not been spoken. Time passes: now He must have
heard! Yet Lazarus is no better. Time passes: and the messenger has
returned, but without Jesus! Yet surely not without some message of
consolation? some hope held out of relief? He brings neither! Jesus
had said, indeed, that this sickness was not unto death, or rather,
was "unto death only for the glory of God, that the Son of God might
be glorified thereby." But what means this? Does it mean that Lazarus
was to die? Has Jesus, then, actually refused to aid them? Though He
did not promise to come, or had not spoken the word of healing, He
must surely do either I It cannot be, no it _cannot_ be, that He will
desert them, or leave them alone in this trial! "Jesus, tarry not!"
might have been their wailing cry: "Lazarus whom thou lovedst is
sinking fast, and soon all will be over with him. Friends, neighbours,
look along the road, watch the brow of that distant hill, look along
that valley, and see if there are any signs of His coming?"

Alas! 'tis all in vain Lazarus is dead! And beside that silent body
the two sisters are breaking their hearts. Life and death, faith
and unbelief, are struggling terribly for the mastery, and strange
thoughts of Christ flit across their minds like storm-clouds athwart
the sun. One brother is gone, the other has not come. The one dearly
loved them; the other!--they had believed in Jesus as the Messiah:
they had loved Him with reverent and deep affection, they had
worshipped--and now!--God of Abraham, forsake us not utterly! Our
fathers trusted Thee, and were not put to shame! Oh, deliver our feet
from falling, and our souls from going down to the pit! Lord, help our

In some such form as this the storm of doubt and anguish must have
torn the minds of those mourners. But the storm is not yet over; the
deepest darkness has not yet come. Their brother is dead. Death
with his marks, which once seen can never be mistaken, stamps every
lineament of that well-known countenance. It is death's colour on the
cheek; death's cold stiffness in the limbs; and no hand but his could
so close those eyes and make rigid those lips. There is no swoon here!
Swathe him then in the garments of the grave; make ready for the
funeral; let him be buried for ever out of sight; follow him to the
ancestral tomb, and let the other household dead be remembered, and
the other sad processions from the home of the living to the home of
the lost and gone be recalled, and think that as they never returned,
so never can he. Lay the body gently down beside those who have been
long sleeping there; look at it; remember the past since childhood;
weep and say farewell; return, Martha and Mary, with wrung hearts to
your home, and see the empty room and listen for a voice that is no
more, and experience a second death in the emptiness, the silence of
this changed abode, and let the heaviest burden of all be borne, the
deepest sorrow of all be endured--_the doubt of a Saviour's love!_

Yes, that terrible agony of doubt was there. Other friends came to
sympathise with them, and to be present with them at the funeral; but
this Friend was absent, and did not send even one comforting message!
Of what avail is His coming now? for Lazarus has been dead four days,
and corruption is already doing its foul work on his body. Here is
"darkness that might be felt!"

Would that we could feel how real all this mysterious sorrow must have
been to those sisters--_our_ sisters, with our hearts, affections, and
sympathies--that so we may be the more prepared to receive the blessed
teaching which this narrative is designed to afford, and have our
faith strengthened by seeing how the darkness and perplexity which
belong so often to God's providential dealings towards us, may be
caused by the deepest workings of that very love which we do not for a
time see, and therefore may in our blindness and weakness for a time

But we must now look at the other portion of this history, which
interprets the one we have been considering, and reveals the mind and
ways of Jesus, now, as then, to His sorrowing friends.

We read that "_when_ Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick," "he abode two
days still in the same place where he then was." But His thoughts and
His heart were all the while in Bethany. He saw all that was taking
place there. He was cognisant of every groan and tear; yet He did
nothing to prevent the progress of the disease, or to lessen the
intensity of the sorrow. At the very moment when the sisters watch
their brother's last breath, Jesus "said unto them plainly, Lazarus is

Let us inquire, then, whether we can discover any reasons which could
have induced our Lord thus to prolong His stay at Bethabara, and to
absent Himself from Bethany. What means this deep calm and quiet at
such a time beside the troubled waters of the Jordan?

Now, we must ever remember that the grand end of all our Lord did,
was that "God might be glorified thereby,"--that the character of the
Father might be revealed in the fullest possible manner in and by
Jesus the Son. But in order that this, in the circumstances in which
He was then placed, might be accomplished, He had many things to
consider; many complex interests pertaining to the kingdom of God to
weigh and to reconcile, so as to bring out of them all glory to God in
the highest, with good-will to man.

(_a._) Jesus had in the first place to consider the _good_ of His
beloved _friends in Bethany_. _They_ were thinking probably of their
own _comfort only_, and of that too as coming but in one way, by the
deliverance of Lazarus from sickness or death. But there is something
of more importance to immortal beings than mere comfort. Love to souls
is a very different sentiment, and manifested in a very different
manner, than love to mere animals. To get quit of grief; to have tears
dried up and smiles restored; to be delivered from all anxiety, and
relieved from the heavy burden of sorrow, never mind _how_,--this is
surely not the highest end which one who, wisely and truly loved,
would seek for his brother in adversity? The highest, the best,
the enduring and eternal interests of the sufferer must _first_ be
considered. His comfort, doubtless, cannot be overlooked, but then
it must be such comfort as God can sympathise with and rejoice in; a
comfort, therefore, which is in harmony with true spiritual life, and
which will strengthen that life unto life eternal. Every other comfort
is a delusion, a cheating of the soul, a laughter that must end at
last in the experience of a deeper sorrow than before. He who bids
us seek _first_ the kingdom of God and His righteousness, cannot
discipline us or aid us to seek any lower good first, because He loves
our true and highest good most. Jesus had therefore to consider how He
could bring true _good_, and therefore true comfort in the end, out
of this sickness and death, to Martha, Mary, and also to Lazarus. To
restore the brother to his sisters--was this best for _them_, taking
into account every circumstance of their history within and without?
To restore Lazarus to life--to a world of sin and temptation, again to
die--was this the best for _him_? These were solemn questions, which
Divine love and wisdom alone could answer.

(_b._) But Jesus had to consider the good of _His disciples._ For
years these simple-minded men had followed Him, and had been educating
by Him to become the teachers of the world. HOW then shall this event
be best turned to account for the strengthening of their faith, for
the enlarging of their spiritual vision of God's glory, as revealed by
His Son? But Jesus remembered them also: "I am glad," He said, "for
_your_ sakes that I was not there, to the intent that ye may believe."

(_c._) Beyond the inner circle of His friends in Bethany and His
more immediate followers, there was the multitude of poor, ignorant,
fanatical, and _unbelieving Jews_--the wandering sheep, many of whom,
had to be gathered into the fold of this the Good Shepherd. Jesus
had their interests also at heart, as is evident from His prayer
subsequently at the tomb of Lazarus: "_Because of the people_ which
stand by I said it, that _they_ may believe that thou hast sent me."

(_d._) Nor must we, in contemplating the many objects of love which
occupied the thoughts of the Saviour, forget how _intimately connected
the raising of Lazarus was with His own death_. That last great
miracle of Divine power and love--almost, if not His last on
earth--was to mark the beginning of His own deepest humiliation and
sorrow. The hatred of the Jews was at this time so intense, that
Thomas was amazed that He should hazard a journey to a place so near
Jerusalem as was Bethany. "The Jews of late sought to stone thee; and
goest thou thither again?" And so dangerous did this journey seem,
that while bravely resolving to accompany Him, Thomas said, "Let
us also go, that we may die with him." But this hatred was to be
intensified by the display of Christ's glory at the tomb of Lazarus;
for we read that "from _that_ day forth they took counsel to put Him
to death." The opening of the tomb to bring Lazarus forth was thus
the opening of His own to descend thither as "crucified, dead, and
buried." The gratitude of Mary for having her brother restored was
soon to be unconsciously expressed by her anointing his mighty
Restorer for His own burial. No wonder that Jesus paused ere He took
this last step which intervened between Himself and the death which
should end His work and mission upon earth.

(_e._) And, as including all these considerations and many more, _His
own glory_ as the Divine Son of God was involved in what was to take
place at Bethany. And this, again, involved the destinies of the human
race, and the good and comfort of the Church throughout coming ages.
Whatever became of Martha or Mary or Lazarus,--though the sisters
should weep out their little day of life, and though their brother's
sleep should be unbroken till the resurrection morning,--what was
all this to the revealing of Jesus as the Saviour of men, and as
the "resurrection and the life" of human bodies and of human souls?
Inconceivably less in proportion than are the interests of one person
to those of the whole universe! And thus you see that while those
humble mourners, in the weakness of the flesh, and in their earthly
short-sightedness, were thinking only of themselves, Jesus the Saviour
of mankind had to think of many persons and of many things, so that
every interest might be attended to, and the good of the whole kingdom
of God be remembered, while not a hair on the head of Martha, Mary, or
Lazarus was forgotten. Oh, blessed Saviour and glorious King! who can
thus govern worlds and mould the ages of human history, while His ear
is open to the prayers, and His thoughts occupied with the concerns,
of the humblest mourners, as if they alone existed in the mighty
universe of God!

Before shewing the blessed teaching which sufferers may gather from
this twofold picture of mysterious sorrow and of thoughtful love, let
us study for a moment the circumstances attending the meeting of Jesus
with Martha and Mary. Many of these are deeply interesting and full
of instruction; but I confine myself to one point only, the evidence
which I cannot but think they afford of the shaken faith of the
sisters for a time in the love of Jesus.

Martha was the first to meet Him outside of the town, where in quiet,
and undisturbed by the noisy mourners from Jerusalem, and by their
sympathising friends, Jesus desired, with His considerate kindness,
to probe and heal those sorely wounded hearts. And what was her
salutation? "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died!"
What means this? Is it an expression of confidence only in His power?
Is it a confession of faith? Or does it not rather evidence unbelief?
Does it not imply a sorrowing complaint, uttered, indeed, with
reverence, and in such gentle language as was compatible with sincere
faith, but still a complaint from a wondering and disappointed because
wrung spirit, expressed in language which suggested the additional
question asked only in the heart, "_And why wert Thou not here_?"
Jesus reasoned with her. She believes, yet still doubts and questions
why He had not come; she trusts Him, yet sees no light with reference
to His dealings towards themselves. One thing she will do, however,
amidst the darkness--she will cling to Christ as her only hope and
refuge! Mary remains in the house. Why? Was it that she had not heard
of the arrival of Jesus, or of Martha having gone to meet Him? Or is
her heart so torn by distracting thoughts, that for a moment she knows
not what to do? She dare not say to Him all she feels. Her keen and
sensitive heart is agonised by entertaining for a moment even the bare
suspicion of unkindness on His part. She fights against the horrid
thought, which, like a demon, torments her, yet she cannot yet quite
banish it, and meet Him with the full, unreserved, gushing love which
something tells her is His due. But however this may have been, a
message from Himself rouses her: "The Master is come, and calleth for
thee; and as soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came unto
him." But how did she meet Him! Ah! Martha and she have surely been
together pondering over the mystery of His absence, and they have
inwardly come to the same conclusion; and so she too fell at the
Master's feet, with the same wailing cry from her full heart, "Lord,
if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died!" As she uttered
these words, "Jesus wept!" There are expressions and single words in
Scripture which reveal a whole heaven of glory--like the opening in
the telescope, which, though but as a pin-point of light, reveals
the glory of sun, moon, and stars. What a revelation of love is
this--"Jesus wept!" But what mean these tears? They are visibly
significant of much sorrow. The cup of the "Man of sorrows" was always
full; what caused it thus to run over? Only twice in His life do we
read of the Saviour's weeping,--now, when at Bethany, and in a few
days afterwards, when entering Jerusalem during the week of His
crucifixion. Did Jesus now weep from mere human sympathy with sisters
mourning for a dead brother? or did He weep because He mourned their
own lost faith in His love to them? We are well aware of the tenacity
with which most people cling to the former method of accounting for
the Saviour's tears, and what pain it seems to give when the latter
view is pressed upon them, as if they were thereby robbed of some
special source of comfort in affliction, and left without any other
declaration in the Word of God--at all events, without any other
incident in the life of Jesus--fitted to inspire confidence in His
sympathy. It is not difficult to account for this feeling on our
part. For it is much easier to understand tears shed for mere human
suffering, than tears shed for human sin. The one kind of sorrow
is common, the other is rare. The one is almost instinctive, and
necessarily springs from that benevolence which belongs to us as men,
but the other can only spring from that love of souls which belongs to
us as "partakers of the sufferings of Christ," and from possessing,
therefore, a realising sense of the infinite importance of a right or
wrong state of being towards God, and from beholding the darkness of
evil casting its dread shadows over a dear one's spirit. Hence an
atheist can mourn over our loss of friends by death, while the man of
God alone can mourn over our loss of God himself by unbelief. Then,
again, every person welcomes the sympathy of another in his sorrows;
while he might at the same time have no sympathy with the grief
experienced by another for his sins. The one might be gladly welcomed
as most loving, but the other be proudly rejected as most offensive.

Why therefore should true Christians cling with such fondness to the
idea of Christ weeping with Martha and Mary, because they lost their
brother, and not rather see a far deeper love and a source of far
deeper comfort in his tears, because they had, for a moment even, lost
their faith? Surely those who know Christ do not depend solely on such
a proof as this of the reality of His humanity, and of His sympathy
with the affliction of His brethren; nor can that kind of sympathy
be the highest which can be afforded by all men whose hearts are
not utterly steeled by selfish indifference. Besides, however real
Christ's sympathy was with sorrow of every kind, why did He express it
on this occasion more than on any other? Nay, why did He weep at the
very moment when He purposed, by a miracle of power, to restore the
dead brother to his sisters, and in a few minutes to turn their sorrow
into joy? Why weep with those whose tears were shed in ignorance only
of the coming event which was so soon to dry them? But the Saviour's
tears came from a different and a profounder source! They welled out
of a heart whose deep and tender love was not trusted in, but doubted
even by those whom He loved most deeply and tenderly, and at the very
moment too when He was about to pour forth upon them the richest
treasure of His love, and to do exceeding abundantly above all they
could ask or think. Remember only how He of all men loved; how as a
man He longed for His brother's sympathy, and how as a holy Saviour He
longed for His brother's good. Remember how earnestly He sought for
the one grand result, that of hearty confidence in His goodwill, as
the only restorative of humanity fallen and in ruins through the curse
of unbelief. Remember, too, how lonely He was in the world; how
few understood Him in any degree, or responded even feebly to the
constant, boundless outpouring of His affection; and how many returned
His good with evil, His love with bitterest hate;--remember all
this, and conceive if you can what His feelings must have been when
returning to this home of His heart, to this green spot amidst the
wilderness of hateful distrust, with His whole soul full of such
glorious purposes of love and self-sacrifice, and then at such a
time to find his best and dearest friends smitten with the universal
blight, fallen to the earth and prostrate in the dust under the
crushing burden of unbelief! He does not weep, at first, when Martha
addresses him; but when Mary, the loving and confiding--she of all on
earth--complains; when faith has failed in even her!--oh, it is too
much for His heart! "And thou too!"--"Jesus wept!" Ah! that shadow of
death in such a soul as this was infinitely sadder to Him than the
dead body of her brother, nay, than the contents of all the festering
graveyards of the world! For what is death to sin? and what is the
power which can restore by a word the dead body to life, in comparison
with that which is required to restore an unbelieving soul to God? It
was this unbelief, the most terrible spectacle which earth presents to
the eye of a holy and loving Saviour, that made Him weep as He beheld
it for a moment, like a demon-power taking possession of His own best
beloved. And it was this same essential evil, and this alone, which
made Him weep once again as He entered Jerusalem, when He cried, "How
often would I have gathered you, but ye would not!"

In perfect accordance with this view, we read that when some of the
Jews said, as He walked towards the tomb of Lazarus, "Could not this
man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this
man had not died?" "Jesus _therefore again_ groaning in himself,
cometh to the grave." For again the words expressed lost faith in His
power, or in His love to "this man." In like manner, when Martha, as
if to persuade Him not to attempt impossibilities, reminded Him of the
long time in which Lazarus had lain in the grave, saying, "Lord, by
this time he stinketh," Jesus sternly rebukes her, "Said I not unto
thee, _that if thou wouldest believe_, thou shouldest see the glory
of God?" And tell me, is there not inexpressible comfort in this love
which mourns over sin as the greatest loss and the greatest sorrow? I
can get many, as I have said, in the world to understand and to feel
with me in all my sufferings from loss of wealth, of health, of
friends, or of any earthly blessing. Relations, acquaintances,
strangers, even enemies, could be found who would do so. But who
will so love me as to carry my crushing burden of sin? Who can fully
understand its exceeding sinfulness I Who can fathom the depths into
which I have fallen, or enter the body of death which imprisons my
spirit. One only, the truest, the best, the most loving of all, my
Saviour! And His hatred of my sin, and His sorrow for it, is just the
measure of His love to me, and of His desire to deliver me, and to
make me a partaker of His own blessed rest and peace, through faith
and love in His Father and my Father, in His God and my God!

I shall pass by the remaining facts in this narrative, the raising of
Lazarus, and the memorable scene when Jesus sat as a guest with the
family of Bethany, again restored to one another, and to Himself in
love; and when Mary with unutterable thoughts anointed His feet with
ointment, and wiped them with the hair of her head. I would rather
occupy the space which remains, in gathering from what has been said a
few general lessons of importance chiefly to mourners.

My suffering brother or sister! permit me to address you as if
personally present with you, seeing your distress, and sharing it
as those cannot choose but do who have themselves experienced the
darkness of sorrow. Such darkness and perplexity I have known, and I
so remember with deepest gratitude the strength and comfort which were
then afforded by the revelation of the ways of Christ, as illustrated
by this narrative, that I desire to help others as I have been myself

The one grand lesson which it teaches us is, _never, in our darkest
hour, to lose confidence in the love of Christ towards us_, as if He
had forgotten to be gracious, and either could not or would not help
us. Banish the sinful thought! "Beware lest there should be in any of
you _the evil heart_ of unbelief." For such unbelief is the greatest
calamity which can befall us. It is, verily, "sorrow's crown of
sorrow," Let us rather "hold fast our confidence, which hath a great

Like the family in Bethany, you too, I shall suppose, are visited
with a sudden and "mysterious" bereavement. Like them you may pray to
Christ, and ask a specific blessing; and like them you may think He
has not heard your prayer, nor ever will answer it, because He does
not do this at the time or in the manner you wished or anticipated.
His thoughts and ways with reference to you may thus be utterly
dark--darker than blackest night. Yet the servant of the Lord, "though
he walks in darkness, and has no light," must "trust in the Lord, and
stay himself upon his God." For the ways of Christ to His suffering
friends in Bethany, when absent from them beyond the Jordan, are a
revelation of His ways to us now, when He is in glory beyond the
tomb. Now, as then, He never forgets us, never overlooks the least
circumstance in our history, and never ceases for one moment to have
that interest in us which is possible only for such a Brother or
Saviour to possess. But now, as then, He has _manifold interests
to consider_; ten thousand times ten thousand complex and crossing
consequences to weigh. While we, perhaps, have our thoughts wholly
occupied with but one desire, our own individual comfort, our own
deliverance from this or that trial, the wise and all-loving Jesus
has to provide for much more than this. Our own good and growth in
grace--the good of those in sickness--the good of children, relations,
friends, yea, it may be of generations yet unborn, who may be affected
at this crisis in our family history by what Jesus does or does
not,--all this must be considered by Him who loves all, and seeks the
good of all, and who alone can trace out the marvellous and endless
network of influence by which man is bound to man from place to place
and from age to age. No one, therefore, but the Lord of all can decide
what is best to be done in the circumstances of each case, in order
that most good may be done, and that God may be glorified thereby. He
alone knows how this link of "sickness unto death" is connected with
other links in the mysterious chain of human history. And if so, then
surely it becomes us, poor, ignorant, blind, selfish creatures, to bow
before His throne with holy reverence; to yield ourselves and all our
concerns meekly and lovingly into His hands, in the full assurance of
faith that our interests are there in best and safest keeping; to feel
that it is our first duty and noblest privilege to trust Him when we
cannot trace Him, being persuaded that He does all things well, and
_that what we know not now we shall know hereafter_.

Amidst all darkness, perplexity, and apparent confusion, remember the
certainties which abide unmoved, and "shine aloft as stars." It is
_certain_ that "all things work together for the _good_ of those who
love God;" that "thou wilt keep him in perfect _peace_, whose soul is
stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee;" and that "nothing
can separate us from the love of Christ," (His love to us.) It is
_certain_ that our Christian dead are in His presence; and that no one
knows them or loves them as that Saviour does, who made them with His
own hands, and redeemed them with His own blood. It is _certain_ that
if we are believers in Christ, we are still united to those departed
ones, in labour, in worship, in love, in hope, and in joy; for,
"whether we wake or sleep, we live _together_ with Him." It is
_certain_, that if "we are Christ's," "all things are ours, whether
life or death, things present or things to come!"

Hold fast, then, O mourner, thy confidence in thy Lord! Have patience,
fret not, despair not, and a day shall come to thee like that which
came at last to the mourners in Bethany--it may be here, it may not be
until we meet Him beyond the bounds of time, yet come it must--when
all this earthly history, and all His doings towards us, shall be read
in the clear and full light of perfect knowledge; when out of this
seeming chaos and confusion the most perfect order will be evolved
before our wondering eyes; and when we shall joyfully acknowledge
with what majestic grandeur the world has ever been governed by its
glorious King! Then, when we hear how He has governed ourselves,
and trace the path along which He has led us since childhood, and
understand the reasons which induced Him at such a time and in such a
way to afflict us;--then, when the ways and thoughts of that mind and
heart are laid bare;--and then, too, when we recall our fears, our
doubts, our rebellions, our want of confidence in Him, what shall our
thoughts and feelings be? When His love and ours, His wisdom and ours,
His plans and ours, are thus contrasted, as we sit down at the great
supper with our own Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, and every one worthy of
our love restored to us for ever, beholding the unveiled face of our
Lord in glory; oh, then, it might seem almost essential to our peace
to be able to weep bitterly, and repent heartily, for our unworthy
suspicions and ungenerous treatment of such a Friend and Saviour! But,
blessed be His name! we shall then be able to give Him all He asks,
_our whole hearts_, and, like Mary, kneel at His feet, and there pour
forth the sweet fragrance of our gratitude, love, and joy, as we too
hear from His lips such words as these uttered amidst the light and
glory of the upper sanctuary: "Said I not unto thee, that if thou
wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God!"


What will happen during this year to ourselves and to those whom we
love? Life or death--health or sickness--joy or sorrow--good or evil?
What will the coming twelve months bring to me and mine? What _may_
be--what _must_ be--what _ought_ to be? Such questions, multiplied a
hundredfold, or broken up into every variety of anxious inquiry, often
fill the heart and mind on the first day of a new year.

Now, is it possible for us to find rest and peace for our spirits as
we steadily contemplate the future, with its darkness and light, with
all the duties and trials which it contains, and with all that it may
and must bring forth? Is there any secret of strength and comfort by
which we can with courage and hope encounter all the possibilities of
the future? There is. Let us only _trust God_, and we need not fear
anything, but welcome everything!

Let us consider this; and, first of all, understand what is meant by
trusting God.

To trust God, remember, is to trust _Himself_--a living, personal God.
It is not to trust to any means whatever whereby He makes Himself
known; but to look through them, all, or to go by them all, to the
living God himself. This is more than trusting to any truth even
revealed in the Bible, for it is trusting the Person who spoke the
truth, or of whom the truth is spoken.

To trust God is to trust Him as He is revealed in all the fulness of
His glorious character. It is to trust Him as true, and therefore as
faithful in keeping every promise, and in fulfilling every threat; as
wise, and therefore as never erring in any arrangement made for the
well-being of His creatures; as righteous, and therefore as doing
right to each and all; as holy, and therefore as hating evil, and
loving good; as merciful and therefore as pardoning the guilty
through a Redeemer;--it is, in one word, to trust Him "whose name is
Love!"--love which shines in every attribute, and is the security for
every blessing! Trust and obedience are therefore, from their nature,

This trust in God is not common. Nothing, indeed, so common in men's
mouths as the phrases, "I trust in God," "I have all my dependence on
God," "We have none else to look to but Him," and the like. But, alas!
how meaningless often to men's hearts are those sayings in men's
mouths! They frequently express confidence only in God's doing what He
has never promised to do;--as when a slothful, idle, dissipated man
continues in his wickedness, yet "trusts God" will ward off poverty
from him, or provide for his family whom he is all the while robbing.
Or the words express confidence in what God has positively declared He
never will nor can do;--as when an impenitent man, who has no faith
in Christ or love to Him, "trusts God will forgive him," or make him
happy, or not punish him, should he die as he is. All this, and such
like trust, is "vain confidence," trusting a lie, and believing a
delusion. Others, again, professing to trust God's word, manifest a
total want of trust in His ways, and do not walk in His commandments,
nor submit to His corrections, believing neither to be the will of a
holy and loving Father. And thus, men who in theory _say_ they trust
God, practically have no trust in Him, whatever they may have in
themselves, in the world, or in things seen and temporal. But oh the
blessedness and the peace of him whose trust is in the Lord!

Read a few declarations from God's Word upon the crime of want of
trust, and the peace enjoyed when possessing it:--

"Thus saith the Lord, Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and
maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord: for he
shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good
cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a
salt land and not inhabited." "The Lord also will be a refuge for the
oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name
will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them
that seek thee." "Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that
trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the
Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are
upright in heart." "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In
God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not
fear what flesh can do unto me....In God have I put my trust: I will
not be afraid what man can do unto me." "Trust in the Lord with all
thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy
ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." "Thou wilt
keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he
trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord
Jehovah is everlasting strength."

Now, this trust in God has been the character of all God's people in
every age, and under every dispensation. We who live in these latter
days may say of all our spiritual ancestry, "Our fathers trusted
thee." They all had faith in the living God, and believed His word to
be true, and His ways to be excellent. Abraham did so, when he went
forth into the wide world, not knowing whither he went, having but
God's word as a staff to lean on; and when he offered up his only son,
believing that God was able even to raise him from the dead. Moses did
so, when "by faith he forsook Egypt," and preferred "the reproach of
Christ," and "endured, as seeing Him who is invisible," Job did so,
when deprived of everything but God himself; when he sat in sackcloth
and ashes, and bore the glorious testimony in the presence of men and
devils, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him," David did so
during his whole life, and his sacred songs are anthems of joyful
trust, which the Church of God can never cease to sing till faith is
lost in sight. And Jehoshaphat did so, when in the presence of the
great invading army he addressed his small band with the noble words,
"Trust in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established." And Daniel
did so, when he entered the den of lions, and came out unscathed,
"because he believed in the Lord his God." And Paul did so, when he
ended his triumphant life, which he "lived by faith in the Son of
God," with the shout of victory, saying, "I know whom I have trusted,
and I am persuaded He can keep what I have committed to Him until that
day." All the children of God have known, loved, and trusted their
Father, and have reflected that holy light which shone with unclouded
and faultless lustre in the Firstborn of all the brethren; for Jesus
ever held fast His confidence in God until His last cry of faith,
"_Father_, into Thy hands I commit my spirit!"

Begin the year and spend it in this frame of mind. Know God, trust
Him, and go on thy way rejoicing, whatever that way may be. Heaven and
earth may pass away, but thou art safe, because right.

Do you, for example, fear the future because it is unknown? Trust God,
and fear not! This ignorance of coming events which are to affect our
own happiness for time or for eternity is very remarkable, especially
when contrasted with our minute and accurate knowledge of other
things; such as the future movements of the moon and stars,--events
which, though revealing the history of immense worlds, are yet to
us of far less importance than the malady which may enter our home
to-morrow, and close for ever the eyelids of a babe! In proportion,
indeed, as the things of each day are to affect us, God has so
concealed them, that we know not what one day is to bring forth. And
this ignorance is surely intended to accomplish at least one blessed
end--that of making us fly to God himself, and look up to Himself for
guidance, for protection, and for peace. The feeblest child thereby
becomes filled with such assurance of faith, that, whatever is before
him, he can say, "Nevertheless I am _continually_ with thee: thou hast
holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and
afterward receive me into glory," How grand, then, is this thought,
that whatever may come to the believer out of the mysterious womb of
time, or out of the vast recesses of an unknown and immense eternity,
nothing can possibly destroy his soul's peace; for nothing can
separate him from the love of the ever-present, unchangeable,
omnipotent God. The stars of heaven may fall, and the heavens depart
as a scroll, and every mountain and island be moved out of its place;
but the meekest child of God will be kept in perfect peace on the
bosom of his Father, and there rest, untouched by the revolutions of
coming ages, as the rainbow reposes on the bosom of the sky, unmoved
by "the strong wind which rends the mountains, and breaks in pieces
the rocks before the Lord."

Whether, therefore, the year is to bring life or death, poverty or
riches, health or sickness to us or to our friends,--all is beyond our
knowledge or our will. But, thank God, it is nevertheless within the
province of our will to secure to ourselves perfect peace and rest.
This sure hope is based on the glorious fact that there is a God--a
living God who verily governs the universe; whose kingdom is one
of righteousness; whose omnipotence is directed by love; and who,
consequently, so administers the affairs of His blessed kingdom, as
that all its complex machinery of events move in harmony with the
safety and peace of every true child.

Again, Do you fear because of coming duties or trials which you cannot
but anticipate? Trust God, and fear not! "Cast thy burden"--however
great--"the Lord, and _He_ will sustain thee." Experience tells us
that the evils which we once most feared never came, but were purely
imaginary, while the things really appointed to us were never
anticipated. Let this help us to appreciate God's goodness and wisdom
more in commanding us to "take no anxious thought about the morrow,"
because "sufficient for _the day_ is the evil thereof."

Still you are certain of some duties or trials before you. This
sickness, you say, must end in death; or this journey must, if you are
in life, be taken to a foreign shore, and last farewells be spoken; or
this year you must enter upon this new profession so arduous and
so full of risks. And thus each one, with more or less degree of
certainty, chalks an imaginary outline of his future course. But
supposing all your anticipations to be well-founded, yet, oh! believe
that when your day of trial or of duty comes, a Father, if you know
Him and trust Him, will come with it. You will have on that dark day
a Father's unerring wisdom to guide you, a Father's omnipotent arm to
uphold you, a Father's infinite love to soothe you, comfort you, and
fully satisfy you. Hear these precious commands and promises:--"fast
your confidence, which hath a great reward!" "Be careful for nothing,
but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which
passeth understanding, will keep your mind and heart through Christ

Once more, Do you fear the future, lest you should sin and depart from
God as you have done in the past? Trust God, and fear not! For how did
you depart from God before? From _want of trust_. You lost confidence
in your Father's teaching, and leant on your own understanding, or
listened to the voice of strangers; you first lost confidence in your
Father's love and goodwill to you, and in His power to satisfy all
your wants, and to give whatever was best for you out of His rich and
inexhaustible treasures, and then you demanded the portion of your
goods, and departed from Him, and ceased to pray to Him or to think of
Him at all, but gave your heart, soul, and strength to the creature.
But you had no _peace_. You left the cistern of living waters; but the
cisterns hewn out by yourselves held no water to assuage your soul's
thirst. You found it to be "an evil and a bitter thing" to forsake
God. Hear, then, His invitation on the first day of a new year:
"Return to the Lord thy God!" Arise, and go to thy Father; "abide"
with Him; and never more lose thy confidence in Him as thy strength,
thy peace, thy life! Trust His mercy to pardon the past; His grace to
help in the present; and His love to fill up thy being at all times.
"Fear not: I am with thee: I will uphold thee with the right hand of
my righteousness!" Your only strength and safety are in God. Daily
seek Him, daily trust Him, and you will daily serve Him.

But perhaps you fear the future lest you should not "redeem the time"
as you ought to do to the glory of God? Trust God, and fear not! Lost
time is a sad and oppressive thought to the child of God. What might
he have done! What might he have been! How might he have improved
his talents, and cultivated his spirit, and done good to relations,
friends, neighbours, and to the world, had he only redeemed days,
hours, minutes, which have been spent in sloth or folly! And not one
second can be restored. Shall the future be a similar record to the
past? You fear to think of it! But be assured that till the last hour
of the best spent life, you will need the atoning blood of Jesus for
your innumerable shortcomings as a miserable sinner. The very "light
of life" which enables you to know and rejoice in Jesus, will enable
you also, in proportion as it burns brightly, to know and to mourn
over yourselves. But while there is cause for earnest thoughtfulness
about coming time, as a talent to be improved for your own good and
God's glory, there is no cause for unbelieving fear, for such "fear
hath torment." God does not give you a _year_ to spend; He gives you
but a day; nay, not even that, but only the present moment. He divides
the talent of time into minutes, fractions, and says to you, "Employ
this one for me." Therefore do not concern yourself with what is not
yours; but as each day or hour comes, trust God! He is not a hard
master, reaping where He does not sow; but is a Father sowing in you,
and by you, in order that you, as well as Himself, might reap so that
"both sower and reaper might rejoice together." Trust Him for always
pointing out to you the path of duty, so that, as a wayfarer, you will
never err. Be assured, that when the moment comes in which you must
take any step, He will, by some voice in His Word or providence, say
to you, "This is the way, walk ye in it!" Be assured, also, that
amidst many things undone, or ill done by you, He will still _so_ help
you, if sincere, to labour in His cause here, and to improve your time
and talents, as to be able hereafter to say, even to you, "Well done,
good and faithful servant! enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." "In
the name of the Lord, then, let us lift up our banners!" Enter upon
the labours and duties of the year with joy I Art thou not a fellow
labourer with thy brother saints and angels, yea, even with thy God?
Doth not that omnipotent Spirit of light and love, who uniteth all in
one, and who hath led the Church of Christ from grace to glory, dwell
in thee? Wherefore, then, dost thou dishonour God and His word by
unbelieving fear?

Finally, the experience of the past may strengthen your faith in God
for the future. You have never trusted Him in vain. He has never
failed you in time of need. You have always found His _strength_
sufficient to uphold you, and His _wisdom_ able to arrange for you,
and His _love_ inexhaustible in supplying your manifold wants. Ah!
had you foreseen, years ago, all the past journey, so often dark and
perplexing, which you have since pursued; and also all the duties
which have successively claimed your energies for their performance;
and all the trials, so many, so varied, which you have had to endure;
would you not have sunk down in despair before the spectacle? But you
did _not_ foresee what is now past. God in mercy concealed it from
you, as He does what is now future. And therefore you did not then, as
you cannot now, despair. The Lord _has_ hitherto helped you, and
led you through the wilderness, and held you up, and kept you from
falling; and so it is that both in your inward and outward state, you
_are_ this day a monument of His power, mercy, patience, grace!

And now, in peace of heart, say with Paul, "I am persuaded that
neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers,
nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate us
from the love of God, _which_ is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Lord,
it is enough! Never separated from Thyself for one moment in our
existence, here or anywhere, we can never be separated from the chief
object of our affections, from Him who is the fulness of our whole
being, the never-failing source of our blessedness and joy. Believing
in Thee our Father, we enter another year, and advance along our
endless journey, not knowing what a day or an hour may bring forth;
but knowing this, as all we care to know, that during every day and
hour we are "continually with Thee." A long life on earth may be ours,
but neither its labours nor its cares, its temptations nor its trials,
shall be able to destroy our peace, because unable to separate us from
Thy love. Thy love will give life to every duty, deliverance from
every temptation, guidance in every perplexity, and comfort in every
trial. Death may come, in what form or in what circumstances, how soon
or how late, we cannot tell; but we fear no evil, however dark its
shadow, for "_Thou_ art with us." Eternity must come, and may come to
us ere the year ends. But whatever things beyond the grave are hidden
from us, Thou Thyself, our Father, art revealed! We know Thee, and
this is life eternal!


1. Let a short portion of time be spent each day this year in private
prayer, in reading God's Word, and, if possible, some devotional book.

Book of the day: