« AnteriorContinuar »
benevolence of his nature and his strong On Sabbath, June 17th, the pulpit of desire to promote the best welfare of all Laygate Presbyterian Church, South Shields, around him, that the first ohject of a public was draped with black. In the morning, character towards which his efforts were the Rev. S. M. M'Clelland, the pastor of the directed was the providing of the means of church, preached from Psalm ciii. 14-17, education for the children of his workmen. and at the close of his discourse referred to So deeply interested in this was he that the death of Mr. Stevenson. He said :even before he left Glasg w he engaged a “ You will expect me to refer, before conmaster for the schools he purposed establish- cluding, to one whom we were wont to see ing These were three in number, two with us at brief intervals, and whom these week-day and one Sunday-school. The signals of mourning remind us we shall see school-room was what was then known as with us no more. We owe it to the Father the old station-house, now part of the of Lights, from whom cometh down every North-Eastern Foundry. There the schools good and every perfect gift, not to let this remained for some years : but the pressure occasion pass without some tribute to the on the accommodation increasing with the memory of the departed; for they who are enlargement of the works and the increasing mindful of good men are therein mindful of population of the neighbourhood, the pre. God who giveth such gifts to men. Mr. sent schools at the Barnes were erected. Stevenson was not a perfect man—we don't In other respects Mr. Stevenson evinced his expect on this side of eternity to meet with desire to promote the comfort of the work perfect men—it may be he was not even a men, by getting the workshops raised in man with the fewest possible imperfections ; height, increasing the ventilation, and ren- yet by God's grace he was a truly good dering them more pleasant to work in. He man; one whom to know was to esteem; also had reduced their hours of labour by intercourse with whom was a help to beiter two hours on the Sundays, causing them to thoughts of human nature, or come in at twelve o'clock at night instead hopeful thoughts of the possibility of human of ten, but allowing them the wages they happiness on earth. By their deeds ye would otherwise have earned. This con- shall know them,' our Saviour teaches. siderateness on his part gained the reward So judged, Mr. Stevenson was knowon and it merited, in the respect and confidence the will be remembered as a man-a man in men felt for and in him, as a token of which whom dwelt the Spirit of Christ, a tender, they in March, 1847, little more than two benevolent, compassionate spirit, full of years after he came to the place, presented love to God and of love to men, whose him with a portrait of himself bearing the highest happiness was in seeing, and confollowing inscription :- Presented to James tributing to, the happiness of others; and Stevenson, Esq., by the workmen of the who out of this spirit did respect unto an Jarrow Chemical Company, as a testimony Apostolic injunction, in that according to of esteem and gratitude for the interest he his opportunity, which was great, he did has taken in their welfare.-1847.' Mr. good unto all men, especiallv unto them who Stevenson had by this time began to make were of the household of faith. The Rev. himself somewhat known as a public man Dr. Hamilton, of London, at a meeting of in South Shields. He was one of the South the English Presbyterian Synod, referring Shie'ds linprovement Commissioners prior to one of many large-hearted acts of to the incorporation of the borough, and Christian liberality done by him who has was most anxious for the improvement of just gone from us, applied to himn these the town, which was then in anything but words: 'For he loveth our nation and hath a creditable state. In 1849 the Laygate built us a synagogue.' The 'synagogue,' as Presbyterian Church, and the schools, which you know, was this church in which we are not, however, in connection with the worship. And I have reason to believe that church, were erected, the cost being borne on no acts of his life did Mr. Stevenson almost wholly by himself. Since Christ- reflect with greater pleasure than on his mas his strength has been failing, not so efforts in connection with the erection of much so as to produce alarm, and his death the Barnes Schools and of this chaste and was unexpected at the last. By all who knew comfortable Laygate Church And he him he was loved for his true and genuine might well be gratefully proud of these two goodness and heartiness. He had a real institutions, for they have ministered to the desire for the public good, and there was no temporal and eternal well-being of not a stint in his liberality to any object which few of the present generation, and they will he believed would promote it. What he continue, it may be confidently hoped, to be did was done without ostentation, and in 'he highest degree serviceable to many seemed to flow from a kind and benevolent generations to come. By these and many h-art; and both here and in Edinburgh he other of his deeds, he being dead yet speake h. had a large circle of friends, who will deeply Still we miss him. He will be widely missed, regret his loss."
in circles far outside of that one
peculiarly his own, the one in which he expressibly dear. Mr. Stevenson did much more immediately lived and moved. We for others, and delighted in it; his great are glad to think he will be widely missed. delight, however, was in thinking and speakOh that God would increase the number of ing of what God had done for him. He those who when they fall create a blank, never wearied in extolling the goodness and because while they stood they delivered mercy of God which had followed him all the poor that cried and the fatherless, and the days of his life. Known to him was him that had none to help him.' The world God's goodness, both in its severity and in could, without much loss, dispense with the its gentleness, and for it in each of its forms aflluent multitude who live merely for them- he never ceased to be adoringly thankful. selves; there is room in it for many more And now that by the same goodness and who live with the will and the effort to make mercy of God our Saviour he hath not only things better than they find them; the received pardon for all his sins, but ease rugged road of life smoother for sore-footed from all his pain, joy from all his sorrow, travellers ; the burdens of life less heavy the fruition of hope from all his fears, and for those bowid down under them; to whom a 'home in heaven for a home on earth-now the advancing of Christ's kingdom-which that he hath been taken to dwell in the is one with the advancing of men in know- house of the Lord for ever, let us say, ledge, purity, and that supreme excellence Blessed be the name of God from hence. and well-being, which is salvation, is in. I forth even for ever.'”
To the Editor of the English Presbyterian Messenger. , absence of instrumental music.” Now, sir,
DEAR SIR,-On a recent vi-it to a rural my purpose in addressing you is simply to district not over forty miles from Man- bring this instance before the Churcb, chester, and having a porulation of 4,000 showing one of the hindrances to the inhabitants, I happered to te the guest of progress of the Presbyterian Church in a thorough Presbyterian. Our convé r8England. This thriving locality will most tion turning upon Church matters, he told certairly soon be occupied by the Inde. me that nothing would give bim greater pendents ; at present only a parish church pleasure than to see a Prebyterian station and the Methodists hold the ground. Many opened in his neighbourhood. “There other instances of a similar kind could be are,” he added, “many Nonconformiste adduced. who would gladly avail then selves of such
I remain, dear sir, a boon, their only objection being the
A FRIEND TO THE CAUSE.
A SONG OF PRAISE AYD THANKSGIVING.
FROM THE GERMAN OF PAUL GERHARDT. In grateful songs your voices raise And cast all care, fear, grief and smart All people here below
Into the ocean deep. To Him ascribe eternal praise
And may his peace for ever reet Whose glories angels show.
On Israel's favoured hend; With gladsome songs now fill the a'r, May all we do by him be blessed ; To Got our chi fest joy;
May his salvation spread. Who worketh wonders everywhere,
May love and goodness toward ue flow, Whose hand great things employ.
In bounteous streams each da', Who, from the womb to latest years, And every anxious care we know Upholds the life he gave ;
Be chased by him away. Who, when no help from man appears, As long as beats this throbbing herst, Himself appears to save.
Our Saviour may he be ; Who, though our way his heart oft Our portion when from earth we part, grieves,
To all Etern ty. Maintains a gracious mood,
When sinks the heart, when strength Remits i he guilt, the sin forgives,
decays, And doth us nought but goid.
By him our eyes be pressed ; Oh may he give a joyous heart,
Then may we see his open face The mind from corrow keer,
In everlasting rect.
“Then came wire men from the East to Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is he that is born King of the Jews ?'"
Taught and influenced as we have seen, the magi came to Jerusalem. Most naturally did they direct their steps thitherward'; for surely, if anywhere, the King of the Jews should be found there. Greatly to the point also was their inquiry when they reached that capital— Where is he that is born King of the Jews ?” Admirable, too, was the frankness and simplicity with which they declared how they had seen his star and had come all the way from the East to worship him. We really begin to love these men, they are so genuine and straightforward, and so fearless in their simple faith.
But what must the men of Jerusalem have thought of them? We can imagine the scornful pity with which the priests, and scribes, and Pharisees looked on these earnest Gentile Easterns who had travelled so far on what would seem to them a fool's errand. “It is true that our sacred books speak of such a King, and that we are expecting him to appear ; but where now is the sign of his presence ? Where is his court ?—where his army
?where the power that is to subdue the world ? No, he has not revealed himself yet—your star has deceived you; your arts are unholy ; and your journey is in vain. And besides, who are you—Gentiles that you arethat you should presume,
circumstances, to herald his coming? We are his appointed priests and the writers and expounders of his law; and to us he must needs show himself first. He is to be the King of the Jews and not the King of magicians.
And if the Jews were astonished to see the magi in their streets, not less astonished would the magi be at the utter apathy manifested by the chosen people in the chosen city with regard to that which was the very crown and eonsummation of all their privileges, and which had ever been the sustaining hope and joy of the fathers of their nation. Few, if any, did they meet with who were like-minded with themselves ; few, if any, who believed in the Saviour's birth, or who were interested in his coming. The glory had departed from Israel. Her religion had become a dead formality; and when its Divine Author appeared in person, that religion was his most inveterate enemy, pursuing him through a life of shame and suffering even to the cross
“He came to his own, but his own received him not.”
The news of the arrival of these strangers and of the object of their search soon reached the ears of King Herod ; and we are told that," he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” Why was Herod troubled ? Just because he could not tolerate the idea of any one seeming even in name to be a rival to himself. And why was Jerusalem troubled ? Just because she dreaded the effects of Herod's fear. A little before this time some of No. 224.–New Series.
the principal inhabitants having been seduced unto rebellion, the tyrant had all who were taken alive burned together in a heap. No wonder that Jerusalem trembled when Herod was troubled.
Herod deserved the title of " the cruel” as much as that of “the great." He was very magnificent, but very barbarous ; very powerful, but very crafty and spiteful ; very proud, but very suspicious and unsparing. He killed his own wife and his two eldest sons ause he thought they had designs on his throne ; and that, instead of rejoicing, there might be mourning at his funeral, he confined the chiei men of the country in a racecourse and then gave orders that they were all to be murdered at the moment of his death. No wonder, we again say, that Jerusalem grew pale when Herod was troubled.
But the king takes action. Not that there was any immediate danger of his throne being attacked. The magi were evidently dreamers—transcendentalists-believers in a common delusion of the time ; and the king they sought was more of a spiritual than of a temporal potentate. If it had been otherwise, without a moment's hesitation or remorse, he would have hanged or burned them as he had done many others on far slighter grounds. I not king of the Jews ?”—“ Yes, truly,” acknowledged the magi,“ thou art the king, and we bow to thee as the ruler of this land. But it is not such a king as thou art that we seek; we have come to see the Messiah of Israel, the Redeemer of the world, who is predicted to appear at this time, and whose star we have seen. It is the Jesus Christ, and not Herod or Cæsar, whom we would visit and worship. We who are the subjects of another king have not come hither to raise the standard of rebellion in a foreign land, If it were merely the king of the Jews in a temporal sense that we wished to see, we would see him in thee, and, being satisfied, would return at once to our homes; but it is the spiritual King and Deliverer who has brought us to Jerusalem-he who is above all earthly sovereigns—the Son of God and the Saviour of men,
On such grounds we rest our belief that the magi, however imperfect their knowledge may have been, had spiritual views of the Messiah, and were .actuated by no sordid motives in coming to Jerusalem in quest of the King whose star they had seen. The risks which they so willingly encountered are sufficient proof of the purity of their hearts, the strength of their faith, and the substantial soundness of their expectations.
Yet Herod in his pride could not brook the idea of any one assuming his title in never so harmless a sense, and, owing to his suspicious nature, could pot rest till the imaginary “ King of the Jews" had been put out of the way. So he called together the chief priests and scribes and asked them, .66 Where Christ should be born." With great readiness he was told, “ In Bethlehem of Judea," and was referred to the Scripture which foretells it. These priests and scribes knew the letter of the law well. The prophecy of Micah was quite familiar to them. And it does seem strange, and still more lamentable, that in their failing to understand their own law, and in their indifference to the one great promise of which they and their nation were the custodiers, they should have presented so marked a contrast to the despised Gentile magi. The priests of Israel had become the blind leaders of the blind.
Herod, however, was so far satisfied. He had learned the place of the Saviour's nativity ; and, inviting the wise men of the East to a private interview, he told them to go to Bethlehem, where they would see the Messiah whom they sought, and then, having worshipped him, to come back and tell him where he dwelt that he also might go and worship him. The
old fox! The crafty, cruel man ! He worship him! As soon would the devil have obeyed the words of Jesus, “ Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Herod had secretly resolved to destroy the babe, the mystery of whose birth began now to alarm him.
Herod against Jesus ! the great monarch against the little babe that had just come into the world amidst such humble surroundings ! Small chance of escape for the freble and unsuspecting innocent—and yet none su safe as he. Angels guarded the manger at Bethlehem; the Divine Being mysteriously overshadowed, embraced, and consecrated for ever the infant form that lay in it ; and against Jesus even a Herod was powerless. In the foiling of this wicked king's purposes, in the assistance which he was led to give the magi in their efforts to find the King of the Jews, being thus made a contributor to their success and through them to the glory of him whom he sought to destroy, we see how easily God can make even the wrath of man to praise him.
We come now to the last part of the narrative. Thus instructed by the king according to the counsel of the priests and scribes, the magi turn their backs on Jerusalem and take the road to Bethlehem. And as we follow them out of the crowded and unbelieving city into the beautiful country that lies between it and Bethlehem, we breathe more freely, and our spirit becomes more hopeful and elastic. It was night, or evening, when they set out on their five or six mile journey, perhaps because in that warm climate night is the best time for walking, and, it may be, because night to them afforded in its starry sky an occupation which they loved, and excited thoughts as high and bright as the luminaries it unveiled. No sooner would they get into the green lanes, away from the hum of the city, than they would naturally fall into their old habit of communing with the skies; and it was, doubtless, whilst they were thus engaged, that the new and strange star which had so fascinated them in their own country, again met their startled gaze. It seems clear that they had not seen this star since they left the East. They came to Jerusalem, saying, “ We have seen his star in the East," and when they
, saw it on the way to Bethlehem, it is described as the star which they saw in the East.” Great had been their faith. Only heartened by a weird-like memory, they had pursued their long journey, and had even withstood the chilling experiences of Jerusalem; and though a darkling shadow may have lighted on their spirits when directed away from the capital to an obscure town, they had gathered their stuff together and resolutely stepped forth towards Bethlehem. And so their faith having stood the test, the star which was before a divine herald, became now a divine comforter and guide, beaming hope and encouragement on them, and leading the way to the object of their search,—“ And, lo, the star, which they saw in the East, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was: when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy."
The action here ascribed to the star has given rise to the idea that it was not a real star, but only a luminous body floating in the air, and called into being by God for the special purpose which we see it discharging in the narrative. As we indicated in our former paper, we do not accept this idea. A real star, it is said, could not move about in the way described, and would be far too distant to indicate to human eye, either a line of road by its motion, or a particular spot by its arrest. True, but it is not necessary to suppose that the star of the King of the Jews actually and literally did this. The words of Matthew should be taken as the popular expression of a common optical illusion. All the time that the magi were travelling to Bethlehem, they saw the star, and were convinced by it that they were on