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the right track: and when after due inquiry they had discovered the place where Jesus lay, the star was visible above their heads, still testifying that their course was the true one. It was the continued presence of the strange star, and not any real motion on its part, that filled their hearts with joy. It seemed to go with them, and it seemed to stand over the place which ended their journey, just as any other star would do; but the assuring thing was, that it was his star, the star which they had seen in the East, If they had left the right path, it would have disappeared, and so long as it shed its mild lustre on them, they knew that they were divinely guided.
All the way then the magi kept this ministering star in sight: and then when they came to Bethlehem and stood before the place where the Lord lay, it seemed to stand also, and to become as a mark of honour-a token of royalty over the king's door. “ Here lies King Jesus,” it said, just as plainly as those royal arms that stand proudly over that stately palace announce “ Here dwells Queen Victoria.” And so they entered, and their eyes beheld the infant King of the Jews. And whether they were prepared for the spectacle they saw or not, whether they anticipated the childhood, poverty, weakness, and neglect of the Saviour, the record doth not say; but, all the same, their hearts had been assured, and now in his presence they fall down and worship him, and present to him the offerings of the East—« Gold and frankincense and myrrh."
These interesting Orientals mysteriously come, and they as mysteriously go. There is much similarity in this respeet between them and Melchisedek the old king and priest of Salem. They appear on the page of Scripture, perform their brief part, and then pass away for ever. But like that of Melchisedek, their part was a glorious one, made glorious by its connection with Jesus Christ. Under the guidance of the Spirit they did homage to the Saviour as the representatives of the Gentile world. They bent low before Him in our name and place. They joined with the Simeons and Annas of the chosen seed in confessing and worshipping him; and in their rich offerings they beautifully expressed the spirit of that religion which consecrates all by laying it at the feet of Jesus. And thus at this early stage it was announced that the wall of partition was broken down, and that the King of Zion was king of the whole earth. The door of life was thrown open to the despised nations, the Ethnee, by the coming of the Deliverer, and the eastern magi were the first to enter. And since that memorable day, how many from every quarter under heaven have followed them into the
presence of Jesus, and, in answer to their faith and service, received the blessings of redeeming love.
We are all on a journey. There is no abiding. From one scene to another we must move on, and the end draweth nigh. And very solemn is the question—Whither are we going? Is it to Jesus ? Have we set our hearts on seeing the King ? Does “the bright and morning star" gladden our course ?
The world can do little for us in this great business. Human learning cannot teach us “the things that belong to peace.”
Human Herods cannot bestow heavenly blessings, and, thank God, they cannot prevent them from falling on the believing and godly soul. Earthly priesthoods and ordinances may point the way, but of themselves they are dead and profitless. Such things we shall meet with on our journey, as did the magi, and we may be pained and impeded by them, but it is Jesus alone whom we need, and him alone we must seek. And it would be well for us if we could imitate the faith and
and perseverance of the “ wise men," whose course was not arrested even by the apathy of Jerusalem, or the wrath of Herod, or the scorn of priests. Faith is ever victorious, and, though dangers may threaten us and the star disappear at this or that stage, and leave us in temporary darkness and uncertainty, God will guide us surely and happily to Him who graciously accepts all who earnestly seek him.
Nor must we forget how the magi acted when they found the King. They first gave themselves, and then they presented their gifts. This is the true order. Let us consecrate ourselves to Jesus-give him our souls, and then all other gitts will be acceptable. The heart going before gives the savour of a sweet smell to the offering; and on the other side a loving heart makes a generous and liberal hand. “Lord, we are thine, and all that we have is thine ; because thou art curs: make us faithful even as thou art faithful ; such is the language of the true followers of Jesus.
In England, Unitarianism began to show itself about the middle of the last century in the Episcopal Church, and among some of the Nonconformists. Here, as in Geneva, the movement in its early stage was marked by the careful concealment of real opinions and by playing fast and loose with creeds. In 1772, those clergymen of the Established Church who had abandoned or were doubtful of the doctrine of the Trinity, made a vigorous attenipt to obtain what they styled,“ relief to their consciences," through a change in the law requiring subscriptions to the Articles of the Church of England, and the use of the Liturgy in public worship. A petition to this effect, signed by two hundred and fiity ministers, was laid before the House of Commons. That period was, in a religious point of view, confessedly one of the most dismal in the annals of the Church of the England. It was an age when the great mass of her membership, clerical and lay, seemed to bu spiritually dead, and the marvel therefore is, that the movement for the aboli tion of subscription did not succeed. It failed not so much from love of the truth as from hatred of change. When the petition came before the Commons, it was resisted mainly on the ground that it tended to “ disturb the peace," which, said one of the members of the House, “ought to be the subject of a fortieth Article, that would be well worth all the thirty-nine.”
How did these two hundred and fifty “liberal” clergymen act in this e nergency ? Let it be remembered that the thing winich they asked the legislature to grant them was “relief to their consciences," and that such relief was peremptorily refused. Did they exhibit the courage or follow the example of the illustrious men who, in the preceding century, at the call of conscience, not only gave up dignities and stipends, but braved the fury of the persecutor, and went forth from their comfortable rectories, not knowing where or when they would find shelter and sustenance for themselves and their families ? By no means. With a solitary exception, they quietly went their several ways with the old yoke upon their consciences, submitting to subscribe Articles which they did not believe, and to employ a Liturgy which, as they had affirmed, gave divine honours to a mere creature. When allegiance to truth demanded the resignation of ich rectories, of social positions, of pleasant collegiate' houses, they certainly seemed to act as if they “could not afford to keep a conscience.” Of the whole number, the Rev. Theophilus Lindsay was the only one who had the manliness to withdraw from the Established Church. Mr. Belsham, his biographer, absurdly styles
him “the venerable confessor," while Mr. Job Orton, the friend and biogra. pher of Doddridge, still more absurdly says of him, “ that his name deserved to be put in the list of the ejected" Nonconformists, although this “venerable confessor” has been for several years before his resignation a Socinian, had repeatedly signed the Articles, and had been in the constant use of the Liturgy, in circumstances which caused even his admiring biographer to wonder how his conscience allowed him to do such things. But he deserves the credit of finally acting like an honest man, although, strange to say, Dr. Priestley suggested to him that he might retain his living and continue to officiate in his parish church by changing on his own authority the language of the Liturgy so as to make it suit his views. Mr. Belsham testifies that this very thing was done by several Unitarian Episcopalians of that day, though they must have known that in so doing they violated their own solemn promise and the law of the land. Mr. Lindsay, after he became a Dissenter, indignantly, and not without reason, complained that out of the very large number" in the Establishment who concurred with him in his Unitarian sentiments, only one person ever contributed a single farthing to the erection of his chapel.
It was not possible for Unitarians permanently to possess themselves of an Anglican parish church, but among the Dissenters there was an open field for the exercise of their peculiar methods of working, and they have succeeded in getting hold of a large number of the old Presbyterian chapels in England. This was all the more easily accomplished as most of these churches were only Presbyterian in name, as there existed no such organic bond of union as a proper Presbytery or Synod and as each congregation managed its own affairs in its own way. Many of these churches bad endowments of greater or less value, and in not a few instances the settlement of pastors, who sooner or later avowed themselves to be Arians or Socinians, was effected by the trustees of these endowments usurping the power of patrons. Even the Independent churches, which at that time had little corporate wealth, and whose membership consisted of a poorer class of people than that of the Presbyterian, did not wholly escape the invasion of heresy. Indeed there were in every branch of the English Church manifest tokens of declension ; a cold, lifeless formalism was spreading among all branches of Dissent as well as in the Established Church, the results of which must have been fearful indeed if such men as Whitfield, Wesley, and their co-workers, had not been raised up to sound the alarm.
There are in England about two hundred and twenty-five Unitarian chapels, all of which, with the exception of thirty-six, were originally orthodox. Many of them have endowments whose trust-deeds expressly provide that the ministers who are to enjoy them must be “sound in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ-according to the Doctrinal Articles of the Church of England, or of the Assembly's Catechism." Of course, their incumbents must have made, in some form, a confession that they held these doctrines at the time of their installation as pastors of their congregations, but, after a longer or shorter period of “ silence," the mask was thrown aside, and they were found to be Arians or Socinians. What has been the result of this policy? Our space will not allow us to answer this question as fully as we could wish. Unitarians themselves admit that scores of chapels have been emptied which were once filled to overflowing, and a great multitude of once flourishing churches reduced almost to extinction. Some seventy years ago,
Toxteth Park Chapel, near Liverpool, was one of the most crowded in all that region. A pastor was called who proved to be a Unitarian in an orthodox garb, who, to secure the position, promised to preach doctrines conform
able to the Articles of the Church of England, but who never meant to perform his promise, and the consequence was that the congregation was so diminished that it often consisted only of the sexton, the singers, and the preacher. Nor was this an extreme or a solitary example of the desolating influence of Unitarianism.
The history of the Lady Hewley Charities affords one of the most striking illustrations of the readiness with wbich English Unitarians have usurped and perverted the most sacred trusts. The estates belonging to this charity and yielding £4,000 a year, were bequeathed to maintain almshouses, in which the Assembly's Catechism was to be taught; to relieve poor godly preachers of Christ's Gospel and their widows ; to educate young men for the ministry; and to sustain the preaching of the Gospel in poor places. For many years the Unitarian trustees of this princely charity devoted its income exclusively to the furtherance of their own sectarian ends. This fact was put beyond dispute in the course of the famous legal investigation into the management of the Hewley Charity, and which resulted in wresting from the hands of Unitarians a large portion of the property.
Another old Presbyterian, Dr. Williams, of London, bequeathed for pious purposes property worth £50,000, and in his last will used this language in regard to his bequest:-" I beseech the blessed God for Jesus Christ's sake, the Head of his Church, whose I am, and whom I desire to serve, that this my will may, by his blessing and power, reach its end, and be faithfully executed. Obtesting, in the name of the great and righteous God, all that are or that shall be concerned, that what I design for bis glory and the good of mankind, may be honestly, prudently, and diligently employed to those ends." Who would suppose it possilile that an honest and high-minded Unitarian, after reading this solemn "obtestation" of a well-known Calvinist, could entertain the idea for a single instant of his assuming such a trust? Yet, in process of time, Unitarians did contrive to get hold of the Williams Charity, and for many years have used it to maintain their peculiar
PUTTING ON CHRIST.
When a river has gained some size, and is running in its accustomed channel, it is not easily turned into another. It is a tedious and laborious work to change the course of the streamlet, and a hopeless undertaking to give the mighty volume of the Danube or the Ganges a new direction. Take a piece of ore fresh from the mine. The silver lies hid among the dulness of the lead. As yet there is but little trace of the brilliancy it is to assume when it has been refined and polished. When these processes have been completed the work is finished ; as it is left so it remains. No chemistry can transmute it into gold; and if not it, which in one sense lies nearest the precious metal, much less the dull and unreflecting earth, or the worthless dross from which it has been separated. These cannot be elevated from their naturally low estate. No skill, nor craft, nor scientific application can give them a beauty or value which the Creator has withheld.
Or, again, take the fig-tree, with its glossy and luxuriant foliage and its luscious fruit, speaking of Eastern scenery and a brighter sky. You plant, and, with proper care and protection, raise it to fruit-bearing. When full grown have you any skill that will substitute the grape for the fig, or can you by change of nature give us on the same stock the pomegranate for the fruit of the vine P And if this cannot
From “ Unitarian Annals” in Princeton Review. + "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flean, to fulfil the lusts thereof."-ROMANS xiii, 14.
be accomplished with fruits in some measure allied, how much less is it possible with the wild uncultivated products of the wilderness. These, indeed, are altogether visionary proposals. Under no circumstance can you obtain grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles.
If nature then be so rigid in her adherence to particular species ; if she has fixed a boundary over which the one cannot pass to the other, or be intermingled with and improved by it; if all her processes are absolutely determined, so that the seed brings forth invariably fruit after its kind and no other ; and if our plants and fruits and trees are in their essential features the same as when they grew and bloomed in Paradise—what shall we say of man?-of his nature, and continuance in the degeneracy which overtook him at the Fall? Here we find the old question still unanswered, Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” Every man who knows his own heart bears with him the evidence that such an achievement is impossible. What is one of the hardest battles our missionaries have to fight in dealing with the heathen either at home or abroad? What was one of the chief difficulties Paul encountered in preaching Christ and him crucified ? Successfully to teach men that such a change as we have been speaking of in a physical relation was possible morally; that though the Ethiopian could not change his skin, nor the leopard his spots, yet that they who had learned to do evil might, being new creatures, begin to do well-escape from the pollution and power of sin, whether as reigning within them, or set forth by the world, and exemplify by a new life that they had been blessed with the gift of a new nature. The heart misdoubts the possibility of such a triumph and so great a change. Weak faith is ever timidly clinging to worthiess principles. A long experience of the power of the flesh stands in the way of a generous trust in the spirit of all grace. Thus the call to follow Christ, to be like him, to be guided by his example, and all other counsels of this nature which imply that the old things are passed away, are deemed too wild and hopeless to be seriously entertained. It ever seems to the heart which has lost its tone by the lusts of the flesh or the love of the world, that such calls are not to be seriously considered or hopefully cherished. It is supposed that while men may use them as helpful to raise them towards more lofty attainments, they do not in themselves reveal a standard which is within our reach. We speak as to wise men, judge ye what we say when we seek by the help of the Holy Spirit to set forth that such an end is reached when we comply with the injunction, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof."
I. Let us notice the special duty to which believers are here called.
We all know the value of a guide on a difficult and unknown path ; of a light on a dark and boisterous night; of foot-prints in the snow, when the beaten path is covered and lost; of a chart when the sea is crossed, or the coast is skirted for the first time ; and a harbour sought that has not been hitherto entered. We see ope man making rapid strides towards success, if not to fame; and another, not less able, fighting a battle he never seems to win, because he never knew the guidance the first had thrust on him. We see one holding close and continuous fellowship with vices he should have abandoned, and sitting in seats he had often been warned to forsake, and degrading a nature he should have striven to ennoble ; and another fleeing from those vices and their collateral temptations, because he was rightly led, and had received the grace which enabled him to follow. What again is the difference between those dregs of society, filthy and neglected, festering in the moral swamps of our rural and our citizen population ; and that other portion--the salt of the earth-the light-bearers of the Church and the world, the followers of a pure morality and a sanctified faith? It is a difference which in the outset lay much in guidance, direction, counsel. And why have we such deadness, such lack of interest, such insignificance of sacrifice--so much, in short, of the leaven of uprighteousness in the Church, but that men will not see that true light which shineth from heaven and lighteneth every man; will not hear that voice which is now revealed in mercy, that hearing it they may be led to eternal life! Hence the value of an injunction so explicit in its terms as that under consideration ; exbibiting so clearly the line of action, and demonstrating with such irresistible authority whom we are to follow and whom resist. And as the primary duty in practice, so is it the centre of all faithful preaching. It is necessary doubtless to attack