The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.—Matthew 1:1.
The bible has a history in its make-up that belongs to no other book. Portions of it antedate all other books by at least one thousand years. It was not written during the lifetime of any one man, nor in any one generation, nor in any one country; for it was about seventeen hundred years in being written. It had nearly one hundred different writers, of various educational attainments; yet it contains no essential error in science, philosophy, or art, while it is the standard in morals for the whole world. Though written so long ago, and by so many different persons, under such a variety of social and political conditions, it needs no alteration in its description of God, its code of morals, its system of motives, and its adaptation to the needs of mankind. Other books wear out, and are laid aside—this Book multiplies with years. Other books speak of the past, or cautiously approach the present—this Book opens up the future. The world outgrows other books—the world grows into this, for the world is taking on the letter and spirit of the Bible.—Bishop Thomson.
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.—Matthew 1:21.
"Thou shalt call his name Jesus." said the angel who announced his birth to Joseph, "for he shall save his people from their sins." Even Joshua, whose name is identical in Hebrew, was so called prophetically, as the saviour or deliverer of Israel from enemies and dangers; and in this he was a type of him who was to come, not as a military conqueror and earthly prince, though men so expected him; not as a deliverer of the Jews from Roman vassalage, and the restorer of their ancient independence, but as a Saviour from a far worse bondage and a more terrific ruin—from perdition, from damnation, not of angels, nor of devils, nor of men, without exception or discrimination; but of those predestined to belief in him; his people, the Saviour of his people; not from temporal or physical distresses, but from sin; not from the sins of others, but their own; not from its effects, but from itself; not merely in the life, but in the heart; not merely in the stream, but in the spring, the source, the principle, the essence; for the gospel is not only good news of a Saviour, but of him who came, of him who was called Jesus, because he was to save his people from their sins.—Joseph A. Alexander, D. D.
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.—Matthew 1:23.
The following collection of scriptural names which refer to Christ is both curious and remarkable: Adam, Advocate, Almighty, Amen, Angel, Ancient of Days, Anointed, Apostle, Author and Finisher of Faith; Babe, Beginning of the Creation of God, Begotten of the Father, Beloved, Bishop, Blessed, Branch of Righteousness, Brazen Serpent, Bread of Life, Bridegroom, Brightness of the Father's Glory, Bundle of Myrrh; Camphire, Captain, Child, Chosen, Consolation of Israel, Corner Stone, Covenant, Counsellor, Covert, Creator; David, Day's Man, Day Star, Deliverer, Desire of all Nations, Dew, Diadem, Door of the Sheep; Eagle, Elect, Emmanuel, Ensign, Eternal Life, Everlasting Father, Express Image; Faithful Witness, Feeder, Finisher of Faith, Fir Tree, First Begotten, First Fruits, First and Last, Flesh, Fountain, Forerunner, Friend of Sinners; Gift of God, Glory of God, Glorious Lord, God, Gold, Golden Altar, Governor, Gracious, Guide; Habitation, Head of the Church, Heir of all Things, Help, Heritage, Highest, High Priest, Most High, Holy One of God, Holy One of Israel, Holy Child, Honey-comb, Hope, Horn of Salvation, Husband; I Am, Jacob, Jah, Jehovah, Jesus, Image of God, Immanuel, Immortal, Inheritance, Invisible, Israel, Judah, Judge; King; Ladder, Lamb, Lawgiver, Leader, Light, Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Living God, Long Suffering, Lord, Lovely; Man, Master, Mediator, Melchisedek, Merciful, Messenger, Messiah, Michael, Mighty God, Minister, Morning Star; Nazarite; Offspring of David, Only Begotten, Ointment; Passover, Plant of Renown, Potentate, Prince, Prophet, Propitiation, Power of God, Purifier, Physician, Polished Shaft, Priest; Ransom, Reaper, Redeemer, Resurrection, Refiner, Refuge, Righteousness, Rock, Rod and Staff, Root of David, Rose of Sharon, Ruler in Israel; Sacrifice, Salvation, Samaritan, Sanctification, Sanctuary, Seed of Abraham, Seed of the Woman, Seed of David, Second Man, Servant, Shepherd, Shield, Shiloh, Solomon, Son of God, Son of Man, Spirit, Stone Refused, Strength of Israel, Strong God, Substance, Sun of Righteousness, Surety, Sharp Sword; Tabernacle, Teacher, Temple, Testator, Treasurer, Tree of Life, Truth; Vine; Wall of Fire, Way, Well of Living Water; Wedding Garment, Wisdom of God, Witness, Wonderful, Word of God, Worthy; Yesterday, Today, and Forever.
Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.—Matthew 2:2.
It is the observation of a good man now with God (Bishop Hooper, in a letter to Mistress Anne Warcup), that the wise men, travelling to find Christ, followed only the star, and as long as they saw it they were assured that they were in the right way, and had great mirth in their journey; but when they entered into Jerusalem (whereas the star led them not thither, but unto Bethlehem), and there would be instructed where Christ was born, they were not only ignorant of the place where, but they had lost the sight of the star that should guide them thither. Whereof we learn in any case, that whilst we be going to learn Christ, to seek Christ, which is above, to beware we lose not the star of God's Word, who only is the mark that shows us where Christ is, and which way we may come to him. These are the good man's own words; whereunto may be added, that whereas David made the Word of God a lantern to his feet, and a light unto his path (Psalm 119:105), we would not suffer ourselves to be led aside by every ignis fatuus, every false fire that presents itself unto us, but to keep close to the Word of God, which will bring us to the knowledge of Christ here, and the full enjoyment of him hereafter.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.—Matthew 2:3.
Nothing save the essential truths of God's Word can give comfort and true peace, either living or dying. And in living, if men are not resting on the Word of God, they can at least have no rest in denying it. The very fear lest the Bible be true is enough to mar all earthly enjoyment. A celebrated infidel said one day. to a friend of his who had imbibed the same principles, "There is one thing that mars all the pleasures of my life." "Indeed!" replied his friend. "What is that?" He answered, "I am afraid the Bible is true! If I could know for certain that death is an eternal sleep, I should be happy; my joy would be complete! But here is the thorn that stings me. This is the sword that pierces my very soul. If the Bible is true, I am lost forever." He will find it true.
And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.—Matthew 2:6.
What sacred emotions fill the soul at the mention of Bethlehem! What deep prophetic truths are uttered; concerning the nativity of our Saviour! "And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall! rule my people Israel." More than eighteen centuries have rolled away since the shepherds of Judea watched on the plains of Bethlehem, listening to the angelic strains, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Since then, the name of Jesus, dear to millions, has bowed the heart wherever it has been proclaimed. And at this period, sublime with the march of Christianity, the name of Jesus, upheld on the starry banner of the cross, pours the oil of healing on the stricken, the suffering, and the oppressed, with magic power. The pilgrim goes and comes from this sacred spot deeply impressed with the sanctity of the place. The Christian grows strong in faith, expecting the fulfillment of the divine prophecy, when the Son of God shall appear in all his glory, descending to judge the nations of the earth.—Wm. D. Ensign.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.—Matthew 2:11.
All down through the Christian centuries, covetousness has been the chief barrier to Christ's cause; the one great and only insurmountable obstacle in the way of the world's evangelization. This world will never be converted until Christian nations, imitating the example of the wise men from the east, shall lay their gold at Jesus' feet. Prophecy is full of this idea. Whenever she takes her harp to hymn the glories of Messiah's reign, the consecration of the world's wealth forms a prominent strain in the lofty anthem. "To him shall be given of the gold of Sheba." "The merchandise of Tyre shall be holiness to the Lord; it shall not be treasured nor laid up." "Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish, first to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God." "Kings shall bring presents unto him." "They shall bring gold and incense." Dr. John Harris, in his admirable treatise on "Mammon," utters a sentiment which ought to be read and re-read, and pondered, and prayed over, by every disciple of Jesus. He says, "We repeat the momentous inquiry, and we would repeat it slowly, solemnly, and with a desire to receive the full impression of the only answer which can be given to it. What has prevented the gospel from fulfilling its first promise, and completely taking effect? What has hindered it from filling every heart, every province, the entire mass of humanity, with the one spirit of divine benevolence? Why, on the contrary, has the gospel, the great instrument of divine love, been threatened, age after age, with failure? It must be attributed solely to the treachery of those who have had the administration of it—to the selfishness of the church. No element essential to success has been left out of its arrangements; all those elements have always been in the possession of the church; no new form of evil has arisen in the world, no antagonist has appeared there, which the gospel did not encounter and subdue in its first onset; yet at this advanced stage of its existence, when it ought to be reposing from the conquest of the world, the church listens to an account of its early triumphs, as if they were meant only for wonder, and not for imitation; as if they partook too much of the romance of benevolence to be again attempted."
And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.—Matthew 2:12.
Rev. G. Tennent, of New Jersey, relates that a young man of his congregation, by trade a carpenter, from being of sober habits became an habitual drunkard. He dreamed one night that he returned home intoxicated, fell from the top of the stairs to the bottom, broke his neck, and opened his eyes in hell. Horrified at what he heard and saw, he entreated the governor to let him depart. "No, no," said the governor, "there is no discharge from this place; you see thousands coming in, but none going out." He, however, continued his entreaties, and at last was allowed to leave on one condition—that he would return that day twelvemonth. In his efforts to flee he awoke, and found it was a dream. He called on Mr. Tennent the next day, and, greatly alarmed, related his dream. Mr. Tennent told him it was a mercy he was out of hell, and that if he did not repent, and seek for mercy through Christ, he would in reality reap the fruit of his doings through an eternity in hell. The young man forsook his former company, applied himself cheerfully to work, and became a reformed character. About six months after this he was met by some of his old profligate companions, who began to jeer him for his sober habits, and asked him to go with them and take a glass. He first refused, but at last gave way. This led to his former drunken habits. He returned home one night intoxicated, fell from the top of the stairs to the bottom, broke his neck, and, without doubt, his guilty spirit must have been hurried to that place of woe where hope never comes. "No drunkard," says the Bible, "shall inherit the kingdom of God." From a memorandum made by Mr. Tennent at the time the man called on him, it appeared he was killed on the night twelvemonth on which he had dreamed the fearful dream. His dream had been actually fulfilled.
And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.—Matthew 3:2.
A pious old slave had a wicked master. This master had much confidence, however, in the slave's piety. He believed he was a Christian. Sometimes the master would be serious and thoughtful about religion. One day he came to the old slave, with the New Testament in his hand, and asked if he would explain a passage to him. The slave was willing to try, and asked what it was. "It is here in Romans," said the master. "Have you done all that it tells you to do in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?" inquired the slave, seriously fixing his eye upon his master's. "No, I haven't." said he. "Then you're getting on too fast, too fast, master. Go back to the beginning of the book, do all that it tells you till you get to Romans, and you will understand it easy enough then, for the book says, If a man will do my will, he shall know of the doctrine."
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?—Matthew 3:7.
An irreligious young man once went to hear Mr. Whitefield preach; he took for his text Matthew 3:7, 8. "Mr. Whitefield," said the young man, "described the Sadducean character; this did not touch me. I thought myself as good a Christian as any man in England. From this he went to that of the Pharisees. He described their exterior decency, but observed that the poison of the viper rankled in their hearts. This rather shook me. At length, in the course of his sermon, he abruptly broke off, paused for a few moments, then burst into a flood of tears, lifted up his hands and eyes, and exclaimed, 'O, my hearers, the wrath to come! the wrath to come!' These words sank deep into my heart, like lead in the waters. I wept, and when the sermon was ended, retired alone. For days and weeks I could think of little else. Those awful words would follow me wherever I went: 'The wrath to come! the wrath to come!'" The result was, that the young man soon after made a public profession of religion, and in a short time became himself a preacher of the gospel.
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.—Matthew 3:12.
As wheat or chaff we all shall appear in the great day of judgment. There is a machine in the Bank of England which receives sovereigns, as a mill receives grain, for the purpose of determining wholesale whether they are of full weight. As they pass through, the machinery, by unerring laws, throws all that are light to one side, and all that are of full weight to another. That process is a silent but solemn parable for me. Founded as it is upon the laws of Nature, it affords the most vivid similitude of the certainty which characterizes the judgment of the great day. There are no mistakes or partialities to which the light may trust: the only hope lies in being of standard weight before they go in.—Arnot.
Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.—Matthew 4:7.
We cannot fail to be struck, in the course of the Saviour's public teaching, with his constant appeal to the word of God. While at times he utters, in his own name, the authoritative behest, "Verily, verily, I say unto you," he as often thus introduces some mighty work, or gives intimation of some impending event in his own momentous life: "These things must come to pass, that the Scriptures be fulfilled, which saith." He commands his people to "search the Scriptures;" but he sets the example by searching and submitting to them himself. Whether he drives the money-changers from their sacrilegious traffic in the temple, or foils his great adversary on the mount of temptation, he does so with the same weapon: "It is written." When he rises from the grave the theme of his first discourse is one impressive tribute to the value and authority of the same sacred oracles. The disciples on the road to Emmaus listen to nothing but a Bible lesson: "He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." How momentous the instruction herein conveyed! The necessity of the absolute subjection of the mind to God's written word, making churches, creeds, ministers, books, religious opinion, all subordinate and subservient to this—"How readest thou?" rebuking the philosophy, falsely so called, that would distort the plain statements of Revelation, and bring them to the bar of proud Reason. If an infallible Redeemer, "a law to himself," was submissive in all respects to the "written law," shall fallible man refuse to sit with the teachableness of a little child, and listen to the divine message? There may be, there is, in the Bible what reason staggers at: "We have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep." But "Thus saith the Lord" is enough. Faith does not first ask what the bread is made of, but eats it. It does not analyze the components of the living stream, but with joy draws the water from "the wells of salvation."
The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.—Matthew 4:16.
Rev. Dr. Adams, addressing the New York Bible Society, beautifully illustrated the benign influence of the Word of God, by contrasting those countries where it is perused with those in which it is prohibited. "Tell me," said he, "where the Bible is, and where it is not, and I will write a moral geography of the world. I will show what, in all particulars, is the physical condition of that people. One glance of your eye will inform you where the Bible is, and where it is not. Go to Italy: decay, degradation, suffering, meet you on every side. Commerce droops, agriculture sickens, the useful arts languish. There is a heaviness in the air; you feel cramped by some invisible but mighty power. The people dare not speak aloud—they walk slowly—an armed soldiery is around their dwellings—the armed police take from the stranger his Bible before he enters the territory. Ask for the Bible in the bookstores: it is not there, or in a form so large and expensive as to be beyond the reach of the common people. The preacher takes no text from the Bible. Enter the Vatican, and inquire for a Bible, and you will be pointed to some case where it reposes among prohibited books, side by side with the works of Diderot, Rousseau, and Voltaire. But pass over the Alps into Switzerland, and down the Rhine into Holland, and over the Channel to England and Scotland, and what an amazing contrast meets the eye! Men look with an air of independence; there are industry, neatness, instruction for children. Why this difference? There is no brighter sky—there are no fairer scenes of nature—but they have the Bible; and happy is the people who are in such a case, for it is righteousness that exalteth a nation." The light shines in Italy now.
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.—Matthew 4:23.
A correspondent of the Christian Intelligencer, writing from Saratoga, speaks as follows: "One of the most delightful acquaintances I have formed at the springs this season was the great and good Judge McLean, of the United States Court. He was built for the Supreme Bench, physically and mentally. I was specially interested in his criticisms on preaching. 'We want,' said he, 'more simple, practical sermons—right to the conscience—made lively by Scripture, history, and incidents. I like an occasional anecdote, if well put; for our Saviour spoke in parables. But I cannot abide dry, abstract discussions, or cold homilies. Preaching should be piquant and popular, and suited to "common people."' There was a capital lecture on pulpit rhetoric in the judge's remarks." Luther, reproving Dr. Mayer because he was fainthearted and depressed on account of his simple kind of preaching, as he supposed, in comparison with other divines, reproved him, and said, "Loving brother, when you preach, pay little attention to the doctors and learned men, but think of the common people, and try to instruct and benefit them. In the pulpit we must feed the common people with milk; for each day a new church is growing up which stands in need of plain and simple diet."
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.—Matthew 5:8.
Not the beholding of his glorious majesty in eternity, nor yet the glorious God-Judge at the last great day. The idea of union and communion with him in this life is involved in this declaration of our Lord. It means that our spiritual vision shall be so illuminated and enlarged, that we shall see God in his works, his ways, and his Word. In his works, by seeing him in this world as we never saw him before. We see him in the green fields and budding trees; we hear him in the singing birds, the rippling stream, and roaring sea. The pure in heart see God in his ways with the children of men. Providences that by some are called severe, and that often lead the unsaved to murmur and complain, are to the sanctified soul all right. His heart saith, My Father is too wise to err, and too good to be unkind. "Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight." The pure in heart see God in his Word. To him the Bible is a new book. Here, "with open face, he beholds the glory of the Lord." Many portions that used to be passed over with comparative indifference, are now thought upon with delight, and he is often led to say, "Lo, God is here, and I knew it not."—Rev. J. Benham, in Guide to Holiness.
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.—Matthew 5:13.
Salt is the one mineral that men eat. Its use is nearly as ancient and as general as the race. The Hebrews had it in abundance from the Salt Sea, and if they chose, from the Mediterranean, as well as from fossil salt near the Dead Sea. It had a peculiar meaning to them from its place in the sacrifices. An indescribable longing for salt comes over any one who has long been without it. In most countries the cattle are very fond of it, and eagerly lick the rock salt. In Africa the children suck a piece of salt rock as American children do sugar. A mixture of salt and water will sometimes be sweet enough to the delicate palate of the bee to attract it. Salt is good. Nor is it savory only, but necessary. It is a part of the blood, and the blood is the life. While it seasons the food, it preserves for future use what is not needed for present wants. What would otherwise rot is kept sweet by its presence. Hence it suggests purity and perpetuity. And the Lord's people, according to our Saviour, are the "salt of the earth." They are necessary to its continuance, keep it from corruption, and are finally to leaven and influence the entire human race. There are many substances in the world that look like salt. They crystallize, are white, more or less heavy, and can be* measured and weighed. But there is a subtile essence in the salt that is perceived by the taste, and which cannot be weighed and measured, but only tasted. This makes the value of the salt. And it is so with professing disciples. They can be counted, and their influence or their wealth can be measured. But the savor, that which distinguishes them as Christians, is too fine and delicate to be declared in this way. It reveals itself to the judgment and conscience of men, and to the eye of God. The saltness gives value to the salt. Real living godliness gives value to professing Christians. If we had salt without saltness, according to our Lord, it would be "good for nothing." And so professors without true Christian life are good for nothing.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.—Matthew 5:16.
A church may be what the world calls a strong church, in point of number and influence. A church may be made up of men of wealth, men of intellect, fashion; and being so composed, may be, in a worldly sense, a very strong church. There are many things that such a church can do. It can launch ships and endow seminaries. It can diffuse intelligence, can uphold the cause of benevolence, can maintain an imposing array of forms and religious activities. It can build splendid temples, can rear a magnificent pile and adorn its front with sculptures, and lay stone upon stone, and heap ornament upon ornament, till the costliness of the ministrations at the altar shall keep any poor man from ever entering the portal. But, brethren, I will tell you one thing it cannot do—it cannot "shine." It may glitter and glare like an iceberg in the sun, but without inward holiness it cannot shine. Of all that is formal and material in Christianity, it may make a splendid manifestation, but it cannot shine. It may turn almost everything into gold at its touch, but it cannot touch the heart. It may lift up its marble front, and pile tower upon tower, and mountain upon mountain; but it cannot touch the mountains and they shall smoke; it cannot conquer souls for Christ; cannot awaken the sympathies of faith and love; it cannot do Christ's work in man's conversion. It is cold at heart, and has no overflowing and saving influences to pour out upon the lost. And with all its strength that church is weak, and for Christ's peculiar work worthless. And with all its glitter and gorgeous array, it is a dark church—it cannot shine. On the contrary, show me a church, poor, illiterate, obscure, unknown, but composed of praying people. They shall be men of neither power, nor wealth, nor influence; they shall be families that do not know one week where they are to get bread for the next. But with them is the hiding of God's power, and their influence is felt for eternity, and wherever they go there is a fountain of light, and Christ in them is glorified, and his kingdom advanced. They are his chosen vessels of salvation, and his luminaries to reflect his light.—Dr. Olin.
But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.—Matthew 5:34, 35.
A lady, riding in a car on the New York Central Railroad, was disturbed in her reading by the conversation of two gentlemen occupying the seat just before her. One of them seemed to be a student of some college on his way home for a vacation. He used much profane language, greatly to her annoyance. She thought she would rebuke him, and on begging pardon for interrupting them, asked the young student if he had studied the languages. "Do you read and speak Hebrew?" "Quite fluently." "Will you be so kind as do me a small favor?" "With great pleasure. I am at your service." "Will you be so kind as to do your swearing in Hebrew?" The lady was not annoyed any more by the ungentlemanly language of this would-be gentleman. Probably ten men swear in this country where one prays, and the swearing man swears out loud a hundred times a day. while the praying man prays secretly perhaps twice or thrice. If men would swear in unknown tongues, it might spare the feelings of their hearers; but even then the Lord God would hear it all. But there will be an end of this torrent of blasphemy by and by. Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (Jude 14, 15.)
Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.—Matthew 5:42.
Is thy cruse of comfort wasting?
Rise and share it with another,
And through all the years of famine
It shall serve thee and thy brother.
Love divine will fill thy storehouse,
Or thy handful still renew;
Scanty fare for one will often
Make a royal feast for two.
For the heart grows rich in giving;
All its wealth is living grain;
Seeds which mildew in the garner,
Scattered, fill with gold the plain.
Is thy burden hard and heavy?
Do thy steps drag wearily?
Help to bear thy brother's burden;
God will bear both it and thee.
Numb and weary on the mountains,
Wouldst thou sleep amid the snow?
Chafe that frozen form beside thee,
And together both shall glow.
Is the heart a well left empty?
None but God its void can fill;
Nothing but a ceaseless fountain
Can its ceaseless longings still.
Is the heart a living power?
Self-entwined its strength sinks low;
It can only live in loving,
And by serving, love will grow.
Author of Schonberg-Cotta Family.
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.—Matthew 5:48.
Rev. W. E. Boardman, D. D., in The Times of Refreshing, gives an account of an English rector, who was happily led to a higher experience in the divine life, through the instrumentality of a Wesleyan minister. The following is the account:—
One of his own servants was prostrated by disease, and about to die. As the rector came to his bedside to receive the last words of his dying servant, and administer to him the last rites—saving, as he believed them to be—of his sacred office, he was suddenly confounded by the words, which, in whispering tones, fell on his ear. "Please, sir, won't you send for the Wesleyan minister to come and see me?" For a moment the rector sat in silence, and then said, "Am I not your minister?" "Yes, sir—you are, sir—but, sir—I am dying, and I want to know the way to heaven. You, sir, do not know the way for yourself, and I am sure you cannot show it to me." The rector was struck as dumb before his own servant, by these words, as Zacharias had been before the Lord by the words of Gabriel, and, like Zacharias, could only go out and await the result. The Wesleyan was sent for. The rector was careful to be present at the interview. The servant was right. Like Philip, the Wesleyan preached Christ, and the dying man believed and passed away, in the triumphant assurance that he should be this day with Christ in paradise. This was the voice of God, who, by his Son, is speaking to us in these last days; it utterly shook, and caused to pass away, the foundation upon which the rector's confidence had been placed, and suddenly burned up the hay, wood, and stubble of his ritual superstructure built upon it. He was humbled in the dust. His proud heart was broken. Like his own servant, he took his place at the feet of the before despised Wesleyan, listened to the preaching of Christ by his lips, believed, and was saved.
A new career opened before him. He entered upon it with all the ardor of a generous nature, stimulated by the energies of a new life. Many were brought to believe in the Lord and be saved. But it was not long before he became sensible of the need of a still deeper work of grace, if he would be able to overcome his own sinful propensities, and present Christ, the overcomer, to his people. This necessity was still further enforced by the consciousness of lack of power as a preacher of the gospel. At times, indeed, he was borne up as on eagles' wings, in his work, and felt himself sustained fully, and filled to overflowing, like a spring welling up unto everlasting life, and pouring forth streams of living water; then, again, he felt himself to be like the dry well, with a dry pump, from which no living water would come, pump he never so hard. Still further this matter came home upon him, by the Wesleyan's testimony that all his needs in these respects and every other might be supplied by our Lord Jesus Christ experimentally received. Therefore once again he humbled himself in the lowly seat of a learner at the feet of the Lord in the person of his humble servant, and accepted Christ as his emancipator from all sin, his pride, his unbelief, his impatience, his prejudice, himself, and as he by whom Satan and the world should be overcome, his soul filled with faith and the Holy Ghost. Nearly similar were the experiences of Dr. Coke.
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.—Matthew 6:5.
A minister, in the early part of the seventeenth century, was preaching before an assembly of his brethren; and, in order to direct their attention to the great motive from which they should act, he represented to them something of the great day of judgment. Having spoken of Christ as seated on his throne, he described him as speaking to his ministers; examining how they preached, and with what views they had undertaken and discharged the duties of the ministry. "What did you preach for?"
"I preached, Lord, that I might keep a good living that was left me by my father; which, if I had not entered the ministry, would have been wholly lost to me and my family."
Christ addresses him, "Stand by, thou hast had thy reward." The question is put to another, "And what do you preach for?"
"Lord, I was applauded as a learned man; and I preached to keep up the reputation of an excellent orator, and an ingenious preacher."
The answer of Christ to him also is, "Stand by, thou hast had thy reward." The judge puts the question to the third, "And what did you preach for?"
"Lord," saith he, "I neither aimed at the great things of this world, though I was thankful for the conveniences of life which thou gavest me; nor did I preach that I might gain the character of a wit, or of a man of parts, or of a fine scholar; but I preached in compassion to souls, and to please and honor thee; my design, Lord, in preaching, was, that I might win souls to thy blessed majesty."
The judge was now described as calling out, "Room, men! room, angels! let this man come and sit with me on my throne; he has owned and honored me on earth, and I will own and honor him through all the ages of eternity." The ministers went home much affected, resolving that, through the help of God, they would attend more diligently to the motives and work of the ministry than they had before done.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.—Matthew 6:6.
President Edwards, in one of his discourses on prayer, gives the following solemn advice: "I would exhort those who have entertained a hope of their being true converts, and yet since their supposed conversion have left off the duty of secret prayer, and do ordinarily allow themselves in the omission of it, to throw away their hope. If you have left off calling upon God, it is time for you to leave off hoping and flattering yourselves with an imagination that you are the children of God. Probably it will be a very difficult thing for you to do this. It is hard for a man to let go a hope of heaven, on which he hath once allowed himself to lay hold, and which he hath retained for a considerable time. Those things in men which, if known to others, would be sufficient to convince others that they are hypocrites, will not convince themselves."
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.—Matthew 6:33.
When the great bargain is concluded between God and the soul of man; when the kingdom of heaven with righteousness is made sure, God throws into the bargain the good and needful things of this life, as unworthy of mention in so great a transaction. Like the farmer who sells a large and valuable farm, he throws in certain second-hand implements of husbandry, or, like the importing merchant, who, in selling one of his ships, throws in any cordage or other ship-stores that may be lying about the vessel; while he who seeks to get "all these things" without securing the kingdom of God, will be like the sailor, who, with ship-stores, finds, when too late, he has not the ship. In securing the greater, we get the less; but if we look only for the less, we shall fail to possess the greater, or enjoy the less.—Hopkins.
Take, therefore, no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.—Matthew 6:34.
"I compare," says John Newton, "the troubles which we have to undergo in the course of the year to a great bundle of fagots, far too large for us to lift. But God does not require us to carry the whole at once. He mercifully unties the bundle, and gives us first one stick, which we are to carry to-day, and then another, which we are to carry tomorrow, and so on. This we might easily manage, if we would only take the burden appointed for us each day; but we choose to increase our troubles by carrying yesterday's over again to-day, and adding to-morrow's burden to our load before we are required to bear it." William Jay puts the same truth another way. "We may consider the year before us a desk containing three hundred and sixty-five letters addressed to us—one for every day, announcing its trials, and prescribing its employments, with an order to open daily no letter but the letter for the day. Now, we may be strongly tempted to unseal beforehand some of the remainder. This, however, would only serve to embarrass us, while we should violate the rule which our Owner and Master has laid down for us: 'Take, therefore, no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.'"