Imagens da página



and spirit of saying it. Oh, that all of us may be so loving, so gentle, that many a young spirit may make the mistake that we and our Master are one.

Do we want any inducement to begin and carry on this work among the young ? Shall we not find it in the fact that no collegiate training is necessary, but only a personal acquaintance with the ord Jesus, a kindly loving spirit, and a readiness to give time and effort to ensure success ? Shall we not find it in the refreshing to our own nature in being brought into contact with the bright fresh natures of the young ? Shall we not find it in the thought that this work must be nearest to the heart of our Father God, not only because the weakness and ignorance of these little ones appeal so powerfully for our help, but also because saving an adult is to save only a piece of a man, while saving a child is to save a whole man from his beginning to his end ? Shall we not find it in what all experience teaches, that men thus saved whole are the purest and the brightest, the best workers in Christ's kingdom, the most helpful friends of a world whose great hurt is sin, and whose great need is righteousness? And shall we not find it in the fact that it is the easiest of all the efforts our Master has called on us to attempt, for no one receives so readily, or retains so tenaciously, the spirit of the good true Saviour, as does the unhardened uncorrupted child ? By all these considerations, then, let us labour heartily and persistently in putting the way of salvation before the children, and we shall find our works not only follow us to our heaven, but also be with us on our pilgrimage thither, in the shape of living workers who shall cheer and gladden us as they, in their turn, are God's chosen instruments of salvation to others.


" His Name shall endure for ever."

Psalm lxxii, 17.

LONG as the seasons keep

Their true, appointed time; Long as the swelling deep

Lifts up its voice sublime ;So long His name shall stand

In majesty secure, And, over sea and land,

For ever shall endure. Long as the grass shall grow,

And trees renew their bloom; Long as the breezes blow,

And flowers emit perfume ;So long His name shall yield

For human ills a cure, And, to all flesh revealed,

For ever shall endure. Long as the day and night

Alternate change their place; Long as the moon's soft light

Illumes the earth's dark face ;

So long His name shall shine

With goodness to allure,
And, bright with love divine,

For over shall endure.
Long as the sun shall raise

His banner in the sky;
Long as the stars' swift rays

Through trackless space shall fly:-
So long His Name supreme,

By oath and promise sure,
Almighty to redeom,

For ever shall endure.
Long as the heavens shall last,

And law and order reign ;
Long as God's word stands fast,

And His decrees remain;-
So long Christ's Name, most blest,

Most gracious, and most pure,
By all His saints confessed,
For ever shall endure.


[ocr errors]

How sadly the least flaw impairs the works of Nature and Art. A little dust in the eye vitiates, for the time at least, the keenest vision; a single scar ruins the fairest beauty; a trifling fracture mars the loveliest ornament; the least alloy debases the purest gold. But defects in character are far more disastrous in their influence than imperfections in natural or artistic products. The fairer a thing is, the easier is it injured, and the more seriously affected by the smallest flaw. Christian character is the fairest of all things; the divinest thing—when it is what God means it to be—under the sun; and, therefore, it is the soonest soiled, the most fatally depreciated by the slightest defect. How small a speck of evil, could even this be found, would mar the spotless purity of Christ. And so with the character of the Christian—with the Christ in man; the least taint pollutes, the smallest imperfection degrades it. As the slightest cloud mars the beauty of the summer sunset, and a passing breath dims the brightness of the polished mirror, so character, like reputation—which is but character reported—suffers deeply, and often permanently, by a single flaw. “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.” The disastrous effect of flaws on Christian character explains the frequency and emphasis with which the New Testament writers urge us to attain perfection. It is not a future, but a present perfectness, they enjoin. A relative and approximate perfection as essential and preparatory to that which is final and absolute. “If ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” “I press toward the mark. . . . . Let us, therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded.” Practically, the apostles assert, what reason cannot fail to admit, that unless a thing be in some sense perfect, it does not answer to its name. A rose with half its petals strewed on the ground is not truly a rose. A vase, chipped or cracked, or minus handle or lip, is not really an ornament, but only a fragment. Alloyed gold is not pure gold. The commonest article is more perfect, if unflawed, than the costliest with a piece out, and more serviceable. And so, the Bible consistently avers, that partial, debilitated, onesided and disproportionate Christian character is not Christian character—not what God requires, man needs, and inspiration sanctions. However bits and scraps of artistic work may be treasured or admired, and whatever material value they may have, in the moral and spiritual realm fragments are worth little. Character that is disproportionate and inharmonious is precisely, in that degree, useless and injurious. In the spiritual world, at any rate, imperfection destroys integrity. “Ye shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The nature of the Christian perfection thus enjoined upon us by Christ and His apostles, not as anything startling or extraordinary, but simply as our natural qualification for the name we bear, is very clearly defined in the New Testament. Its central principle, or essence, is not degree or quantity, but proportion and quality. There is no absolute standard of excellence which is insisted on. Christ is our example, but if we were bound to reach it, or perish, the issue would not be doubtful. 126 FLAWS IN CHRISTIAN CHARACTER.

No: it is not any prescribed standard that constitutes Christian perfection, but the possession and manifestation of all virtues according to our strength and capacity. Consistency in the type of character, not faultlessness in expression, is the evident ideal of apostolic teaching on this subject. Nowhere are any particular graces urged on us as deserving special pursuit. Everywhere it is the uniform and proportional exercise of all to which we are called. Even charity, the crown of virtuous character, is only to be put on “above all” other virtues, as “the bond of perfectness;” not replacing, but only uniting them. As in nature, it it is the proper relation of parts that constitutes perfection, and not the changelessness or absolute independence of the materials and processes, so in character, it is the due proportion and appropriate exercise of each elementary excellence that renders it, in the apostolic sense, “perfect,” not the attainment of any vast degree or measure of either, or of all. Christian perfection is not presented to us in the Bible as a ladder or mountain up which we must laboriously climb, leaving the lower stages permanently behind us, and the topmost heights of which the many can never reach at all; but rather as a ring, or circle, which, though varying in size and material, may be, if without flaws in its substance, in each case perfect and complete. The Greek word rendered “perfect” does not signify anything surpassingly lofty or transcendental, but simply what is finished or completed; literally, something that has reached an end. And this obviously may be true of all degrees and shades of character. Even the small and the common ring is complete. Every circle is a circle, whether it encompass a dewdrop or a world. And so, if we had every Christian virtue, even in a moderate degree, we should possess the essential element of apostolic perfection. Indeed we might come nearer the Bible ideal than those who, with much larger excellences in certain directions, through their total lack of others, are wanting in moral proportion.

But while Christian perfection consists essentially in harmony of character, it is not independent of degree of excellence. On the contrary, the one is practically involved in the other. For this harmony is itself the foundation and primary condition of the highest virtue. Without consistency of character as a basis, healthy growth in Christian graces is impossible. We must have the ring of character complete before it can be enlarged and beautified. If here and there occur breaks in its substance, flaws and fissures, it is no longer a ring, and progress toward higher experiences is hopeless. One-sidedness in excellence destroys it. God Himself (could harmony be severed from infinitude) would not be perfect in degree, were He not, first of all, consistent in qualities. And thus, though no arbitrary standard of excellence is insisted on by the apostles as constituting Christian perfection, the element of degree is not lost sight of The possession and exercise of all graces is the first thing; but growth in them, increase in them, is the second. But this increase is to be uniform. We are to “abound in everything,” to “abound yet more and more.” Advancement, indeed, must always be according to our measure. Some will never scale the heights reached by others. But in every case true progress must be equally on the lines of uniform proportion. All progress must be consistent progress. So that harmony of character, instead of contenting us with a low degree of excellence, is the secret and essential of the highest. C. FoED.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

AT 10.30 a.m., Aug. 7th, 1882, I left the Royal Dock, Grimsby, in the good ship Mangerton. This vessel, which is now used as an ice-ship, was built for service in the Chinese seas, and is fitted up in a superior style. The crew consisted of ten men, including officers, and the only passengers were myself and a gentleman who accompanied me. The morning was fine. The Mayor, W. Jackson, Esq., who had given us a free pass, accompanied us, with other friends, to the ship. A small steamer took us in tow, and we glided smoothly down the Humber, with the Yorkshire coast on one side and the Lincolnshire coast on the other, passing Cleethorpes, the Middle Light, the Newsands Light, and Spurn Point, when we soon found ourselves beyond the mouth of the river, and in the open sea. The line that separated the river from the sea was distinctly marked. A sharp, but irregular, line divided the two; on the one side was the muddy yellow water of the Humber, and on the other the clear green water of the sea. This singular phenomenon was caused by the antagonism of the two waters—the current of the river was met by the rising tide, and the pressure of the two opposing forces prevented the gradual mingling of the waters, and caused the line of separation to be so clearly seen. Does not this show in a figure the true cause of many other sharply defined distinctions besides that of the Humber and the sea 7


The land now began to grow dim in the distance, and the tower of Grimsby was no longer seen. There was nothing within the range of vision but sea and sky, and here and there the smoke of a steamer or a distant sail. It was interesting now to observe for myself one of the well-known proofs of the earth's rotundity. A speck was seen on the water in the far distance. By the aid of a glass it was observed to be the topsail of a ship; other sails gradually rose into view, and last of all the lower and larger part of the vessel appeared above the horizon. It was evident that this fact could not be made to agree with the ancient theory that the earth is an extended plane, for even the sea itself had a rounded surface; and it was pleasant to see an illustration of the lesson learned at school that “the shape of the world in which we live resembles that of a ball.” The same thing was afterwards observed from day to day.


One day I observed a vessel taking a course directly opposite to our own. The two passed each other in parallel lines. The same wind was carrying the two ships in opposite directions. This may always take place when the wind happens to blow at right angles with the ship's course, for then the sails may be set either way, and the vessel will proceed with equal speed one way or the other. In nautical phrase this


is “ sailing eight points to the wind,” and this is called “the Soldier's Wind.” Does not this illustrate a fact in human experience 2 Is it not often the case that the same influences produce opposite results? May not religious privileges be a blessing or a curse according to the use made of them? and the gospel itself be “the savour of life unto life,” or “the savour of death unto death”?


One morning at about 10.30 a grampus appeared in view. The sun was bright and the sea was moderately calm, so that this strange visitor was seen to advantage. He was apparently following in the wake of the vessel, so that for some time there was an opportunity of watching his movements. Now he raised his huge body out of the water and displayed his broad black shining back in its full length, and then again descended into the deep; and so he followed on, rising to the surface and disappearing, sometimes coming very near to the vessel, as if about to seize it as his prey. At length, however, he turned aside from the ship's track, and, though his snorting was heard in the distance, we saw him no more.


I was on deck one morning at half-past five. There was a cloudless sky. Not an object was to be seen—not a bird or ship or cloud— nothing but sun and sky and sea. It seemed to me as if I was in a grand temple. All was pure—light, air, sea—everything but ourselves. Our presence appeared to be an intrusion into a sanctuary. What a place for worship! We seemed to be on the highest part of the round earth—nearer to heaven than we could be elsewhere—and other things and persons below the horizon, and we alone with God. I felt a deep reverence. All else seemed trifling in the august presence of the Creator. Never before did I so fully understand the words of Jacob when he said, “Surely God is in this place. How dreadful is this place. This is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven.”


A fleet appeared in sight. It is the custom during part of the year for the smacks to go out fishing in fleets, and here was one of them. What an interesting sight ! There were at least eighty-three vessels. We looked at them through the glass, and watched their movements, and saw the admiral (the vessel in command) and the steamer that received the fish to convey it to land, and wondered whether it was the Grimsby fleet, and whether our neighbours were there, and what was their success; and thought what a busy population is on the sea, and how few are the social and spiritual advantages they enjoy.


It was now Saturday. It was the sixth day since we set sail, and I was desirous of spending the Sunday with the Christians of Norway; but alas ! was doomed to disappointment. We sighted land at halfpast two, but made no progress. There was no wind. The sea was smooth; there was not even a ripple. The vessel was becalmed. The sails hung loosely, and for hours we came no nearer the port. Is not

« AnteriorContinuar »