« PreviousContinue »
The Counsel Chamber.
ADDRESS TO YOUNG PEOPLE. MY YOUNG FRIENDS, -One who religion will not avail. You may tenderly loves you is anxious to think that God will forgive sin when address to you a few words of kindly the sinner repeuts, and so that there advice and solemn warning, while is no need of a Saviour. But this life, health, and reason enable him is not so. In God's moral governto do so.
It may be that these few ment of the world we daily see that lines will survive the writer, and be suffering follows misconduct. All unto some of you, at least, a voice the tears and repentance of a spendfrom the grave. God, in his mercy, thrift, who has run through his esgrant that you may be obedient to tate, will not avail to bring it back the call, and make your peace with to him. No repentance will atone him before it be too late!
for past sin in the eyes of that God My object in this appeal is to who is too pure to behold iniquity. point out some of the dangers and And, moreover, the most repentant the moral pestilence by which you being falls into sin again so natuare surrounded, in the earnest hope rally and inevitably, that his life is that, like as Lot abandoned the made up of sinning and repenting, doomed cities of the plain, you may sinning and repenting! Will such resolutely separate yourselves from frail repentance as this be accepted the accursed thing, and no longer as a sufficient atonement?* The swell that fearful mass of crime origin of evil is far beyond our comwhich more and more challenges prehension, but that it exists is a the heavy judgments of God.
great and melancholy fact, perhaps Reader! Do you believe in God? not to be explained until the veil is Yes, you do. Ask your heart, not taken away from the economy of the when in the midst of godless com- universe in the brighter light of a panions, but in the seclusion of future world; but here we have this your chamber; and the answer will overwhelming fuct of the corruption be, Yes. If there be such a thing of human nature to deal with—and as a sincere atheist, which I greatly how shall we avoid the curse atdoubt, he must be one whose per- tached thereto but through some ception of evidence-bearing on him atonement which shall be equal to from all points, around, above, below the stupendous task? No human -is so entirely lost, that, like a cer- being, no fellow-sinner can atone tain well-known philosopher, he for himself, much less for a world could not even be expected to re- so sunk in sin and misery, so abancognize the existence of any mate- doned to the Prince of Darkness ! rial object around him.
* See Butler's “Analogy,"-a work Well, do you believe also in a
so admirable in its aim and performSaviour? If you do not, then you
ance, that I am at a loss how suffi. must give up to despair. Natural
ciently to recommend it.
A redeemer must be divine, or his atonement is utterly worthless. Of all the teachers of religion this world has ever seen, Jesus Christ is the only one whose claims to fill this position can be admitted. Purity and love, such as can only emanate from heaven, were his. And is it possible that such a sinless, beneficent life could have been associated with an imposture the most arrogant and revolting? Oh, no; that holy, gentle, immortal Being spake no fable when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life ; whosoever cometh to me shall be in no wise cast out. He that hath seen me hath seen the Father also."
Let me trust, then, that no argument is necessary to convince the reader of the existence of a God or of a Redeemer; in short, that he is, nominally at least, a Christian. To such, more especially, these pages are addressed. In what, then, are you a Christian, let me ask? You have pledged yourself to fight under Christ's banner, against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Each day of your life you have a fresh battlefield-each moment an enemy to contend with. Have you really fought for your great Captain, or have you betrayed his cause, and gone over to the man of sin ?
There are three tests,-thought, word, and deed. Look well to each.
1. Thought.—The uncontrolled discursiveness of thought is one of the most offensive weapons of the devil, who loves to assail us with it even in the most sacred moments; but unbidden thoughts only become sin when they are encouraged. Do you cherish these unhallowed
thoughts—these promptings of licentiousness—these whisperings of envy, hatred, or malice—these nurseries of injustice to your neighbour, of doubt and unbelief of sacred things ? Or, rather, do you indignantly spurn them, before they pass the threshold of your mind ?
2. Word.—And what is your conversation in society? I grieve to say, that in my experience of the middle class of this country, there is not only a total absence of the recognition of Christianity by them, but too frequently an exhibition of ribaldry and filthy talk which ought to drive every decent
and must banish every Christian one, from the usual places of public resort. Turn we from these to the corners of the streets, and to the experience of our courts of justice, where our ears are assailed with language fit only for those beings who, having been all their lives the prey of evil and malignant passions, have now before them an eternity of blasphemy and woe! Oh, I trust that this feeble warning may meet the eye of some such poor devoted being, and lead him to repentance and faith, before the Holy Spirit has finally abandoned him.
3. Deed.-Nor, in the consideration of deeds done by a professing Christian population, is the view to be taken a more cheering one. Sensual pleasure is the great seductive agent to lead away from God. There are high-priests of vice in every city, on whose heads will remain for everlasting the blood of many a fellow-creature. There are haunts of deep drinking-dens of infamy-snug holes and corners for
ruinous gambling, a vice which has deeply stained the youth and manhood of our land. Boys, not long entrusted to run alone, may be seen essaying their infantine hands in all the suburbs, and many of the streets, on each returning Sabbath; nor is it likely that our police will be more vigilant in arresting this general depravity, until the magisterial powers are put forth in the infliction of such punishments as shall effectually scare the young offender.
How recklessly is the Sabbath broken! The farmers have to keep an extra watch on that holy day, to prevent the depredations of youthful vagabonds who prowl about the fields and lanes with dogs and guns, or in pursuit of unconsidered trifles which they readily appropriate. More apparently respectable parties, too, select the Sabbath as the best of all days for pleasure excursions, and recreation from the toils of the week. I trust that ere long this excuse will be taken away, and that such portion of the week will be granted as a holiday to all workers, that the Sunday may be left for its original purpose.
Then look at the intolerable love of dress and finery which prevails among the female population, high and low! The girl of small means tries to imitate the lady in her array, and too frequently stoops to a worse passion to enable her to gratify the other. This state of things is greatly fostered that modern system of shop-keeping by which every conceivable bait is put in the way of poverty-stricken females, and their morbid craving after cheap bargains
is pandered to by an amount of humbug and deception only credible to those who have been behind the scenes!
Swindling and dishonesty are among the crying evils of the present day; and the gigantic frauds in the higher classes of society are not lost upon the lower ranks. The unjust balance-the deficient weights and measures-the cunning lying in wait to over-reach-all seem to characterize and distinguish the professions, trades, shop-keeping, and the private dealings of the present generation.
How few heads of families cultivate piety in their households, or look upon their servants as beings with souls to be saved—as beings over whom they are bound to exercise parental solicitude! How few servants possess the slightest interest for their master or mistress, or can be trusted in their absence!
To you, my young friends, who have not participated in any of these besetting sins, but who have led an honest life, in the fear of God, and the full belief of Christianity, as the only true system of religion and morals, I would suggest whether there is not also ground for a searching examination of your conduct. You may have cultivated personal piety; but your duties as a Christian do not end there. If you are a soldier of Christ, you are bound to act on the aggressive. Have you ever carried the war into the enemy's camp ? Have you ever taken one step to arrest the progress towards hell of the perishing millions around you? Is there one being whom you have attempted to take in company
with you to that blest place where all tears shall be for ever wiped from your eyes? Have you not rather been satisfied with deputing the missionary's office to others ? and forgetting the last solemn injunction of our common Saviour, “Preach the gospel to every creature,” have you not left the heathen world to perish in their sins, and to die in ignorance of that salvation by which you yourself hope to be saved ?
Alas! it is to be feared that not only in India, but in many other parts of the world, the chief obstacle to the reception of the Christian faith has been the immorality and the crimes of the so-called Christians themselves. We have all a fearful debt of responsibility to discharge. Let each one, then, in his own neighbourhood, look around and ameliorate the condition of those who stand in need, spiritually and temporally; and although charity should begin at home, let it not end there. So long as one human being—no matter in what part of the world-remains in ignorance of the good tidings to which you have the privilege of listening Sabbath
after Sabbath, so long are you, as a member of the Christian world, answerable for unfulfilled duty. All bodies of professing Christians must be roused to unanimity of action, and set aside their differences, for the propagation of the faith of Christ, and the extension of his kingdom throughout the world. In this one particular, surely the Church universal may become catholic in its aims. Without participating in such an object, we cannot be faithful soldiers of Him whose injunctions were laid upon us, nor can we hope to reign with Him whose cause we have left to take care of itself in this world.
My dear young friends, I have very briefly indicated an outline of what appear to me to be a few of the more prominent evils of the present time, in the hope that some of you, at least, may be led seriously to reflect for what purpose you were sent into the world, and whether you are fulfilling the high aims of
A WARNING VOICE. W-r,
The Letter Box.
To the Editor of the Christian's Penny Magazine. SIR, -I was much pleased—no doubt was picked up in the streets of in common with many others--on Roxbury, by the then keeper of the reading the Article in the June poor-house there, and who, after Number of your valuable little having been apprenticed to, and Magazine, headed, “ Never De- run away from, three several masspair of an Unruly Boy,” in which ters, was carefully instructed by his is related a story of a little boy who friend hereinbefore alluded to, and
became a useful and even a somewhat eminent man. Your correspondent observes, that sometimes a little notice or a trivial circumstance will change the purposes and entire character of a young man. So convinced am I of the truth of thatobservation, that I am prompted, by way of further illustration thereof, to relate two other anecdotes bearing on the subject, one of which eame under my own personal observation, and in the other I was more immediately an actor, though perhaps an almost passive one.
Some six-and-twenty years ago, while acting as secretary of a Sanday-school in the north of England, a gentleman came into the schoolroom about half an hour before the commencement of the chapel service, and delivered to the boys an appropriate address. I must observe that, at the Sunday-schools in the place alluded to, it was then customary for one or two of the members connected with each school to perambulate the streets and highways, and kindly invite poor, uncared-for children, who went to no place, to go with them into the Sunday-school, to see and hear the scholars sing, &c.; by which means many were induced to go and remain as permanent attenders. This being the case, our stranger-visitor's address was, in a peculiar manner, suitable to the scholars. He pointed out to them how much better it was to be learning something good at the Sunday-school, than breaking the Sabbath, as some of them used to do; and to show them how much more likely they were of becoming useful and respectable men in after
life, he related to them a true story about a poor little ragged, fatherless boy, who once, in a certain town, was running about the streets, profaning and breaking the Sabbath, when he was persuaded by a kind gentleman to go with him to a Sunday-school hard by. The boy went, and liked the singing, and longed to be instructed as those boys were; and he continued regularly to attend the school, which was the means of his becoming a minister of the gospel ; and," added he, “I dare say you would all like to see and know the person spoken of.” Many of the boys replied, they would very much like to see him. “Then,” said the gentleman, “I who am speaking to you am the person—that once poor, ragged, and neglected boy of whom I have been speaking to you.” The boys seemed astonished, looking “ unutterable things."
The second anecdote I am about to relate goes back three-and-forty years. At that period I had only just been induced by a pious sister to become a teacher of a Sundayschool at C- One fine summer Sabbath morning, on coming out of my father's house, to go to the Sunday-school, I met, passing by me, a young man with whom I had some previous acquaintance. I inquired where he was going, and he said to the tea-gardens, for a walk, and asked where I was going. I replied, to the Sunday-school at A-- Street Chapel, to help teach, and endeavoured to persuade him to go with me. My young friend laughed at the proposal, and tried to escape from my importunity; but