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PERILS IN THE PULPIT. 129
this an illustration of the need of divine influence As the ship, even with its sails fully set, could make no progress without the wind, so we without the breezes of the Spirit, can make no progress on our journey to the better land.
A SUNDAY AT SEA.
The Sunday morning dawned, and we were not near the shore. It was a new experience to spend a Sabbath on the sea. The morning was bright, and I could see clearly in the water some of the dwellers in the deep. The jelly fish was an object of beauty. There were some of this family that were marked with pink, and surrounded by a delicate fringe; while others opened out like large and richly-tinted flowers, and had tentacles so numerous floating underneath as to have the appearance of a white veil of the finest texture. I watched these creatures with deep interest, and felt how blessed it was to worship God even in some of the less conspicuous of His works. I thought of friends who were assembling for worship at home, and tried to join them in their worship. It seemed easy now to understand the Psalmist who said, “A day in Thy courts is better than a thousand,” and also the Apostle when he spoke to his friends of being “absent” and yet “present in spirit.” We held a service on deck at the time when thousands were gathered together for worship at home, and in the consciousness of contemporaneous worship, enjoyed “the communion of saints.” It seemed a grand thing to worship God on the great sea, with nothing overhead but the vast canopy of the clear blue sky.
ARRIVED AT LAST.
It was Monday. The morning was lovely. The irregular coast line was clearly seen. At four o'clock the pilot came aboard. At about eight we passed the quaint looking lighthouse and entered the Sound, and sailing through the Langesund Fjord, by rocks and mountains bright with verdure, we cast anchor at Ramberg at half-past nine o'clock.
Next month the writer hopes to narrate some of his experiences in Norway.
#trils in the gulpit.
I Do believe the station of a popular preacher is one of the greatest trials on earth: a man in that position does not stop to soberly calculate how much, or rather how little, is done when there appears a great effect, nor to consider how immense is the difference between deeply affecting the feelings, and permantly changing the heart. The preacher who causes a great sensation and excited feelings is not necessarily the one who will receive the reward of shining as the stars for ever and ever because he has turned many to righteousness. Misery is a trial, but it makes this world undesirable; and persecution estranges a man from resting on earthly friends, and forces him to choose One whom he would never have chosen if any other had offered; but prosperity makes earth a home, and popularity exalts self, and invites compliance to the world. It is the old story of one winter in Capua effecting a ruin for Hannibal which neither the storms of the Alps, nor the sun of Italy, the treachery of the Gauls, nor the prowess of the Romans could achieve. —F. W. Robertson's Life and Letters, Vol. I., pp. 24, 25.
IN all great works of civil engineering and surveying one of the first things to be settled upon is what is called a base line, “a main line taken as a base of operations, and on the correctness of which the whole depends.” All measurements are made from this base line. The elevation of the mountains, and the depression of valleys, are noted from this level. The amount of “cuttings,” or of “fillings,” required to bring a proposed road “to grade” are settled by a comparison with the assumed base line. Now, as in civil engineering and surveying, so in human character and conduct we must have a clearly defined base line of conviction, from which all measurements must be made unquestioningly. And what is the great base line of truth which should settle all the main questions concerning human conduct 7 Is it not this— LoyalTY To GoD AT ANY COST 7 Do right, though the heavens fall. If the will of men—of any man—of any company of men—clash with the will of God, then, according to that sublime and significant utterance of Peter's before the Sanhedrim, “We must obey God rather than men.” We must obey God under any circumstances, or at any cost to ourselves or to others. “It is a small thing that I live or die; but it is a great thing that I do what is right whether I live or die,” said a true hero, when tempted to do wrong for the saving of his life.
Let us look at the application of this imperial rule of life in one or two particulars. Take the matter of religious belief and confession. Was not this principle recognised and followed by that great German Reformer, Martin Luther, when, standing at Worms face to face with the Emperor and with all the pomp and power of earth arrayed against him, he cried, “Here I stand, I can do no otherwise: God help me. Amen.” He knew his life was in their hands; but neither to please Pope nor Emperor would he disobey God and belie his conscience; at whatever hazard he will speak God's truth—“Here I stand: I can do no otherwise.” And since the great Reformer's time hundreds of martyrs in England and Scotland and other lands have recognized and held this same principle firm, even at the cost of life. They would not bend their religious faith to the demands of spiritual tyranny. They would not hide in their heart a truth they knew; they would not suffer conscience to be bound, or their voice to be silenced in witnessing for their King. If ever you are in Edinburgh do not fail to visit the old Grey Friars Churchyard. Find out there the Martyrs Memorial; read the old inscription; it may take some time to spell it out, for it is sadly weather-worn, but it will be worth your while to read it through. It will tell you that from May 27, 1661, to Feb. 17, 1688, there were murdered and destroyed for the cause of truth eighteen thousand, of whom were executed at Edinburgh about a hundred noblemen and gentlemen and ministers, noble martyrs for Jesus Christ, for whom was found no cause worthy of death, but only they were found constant and stedfast and zealous witnessing for the prerogatives of Christ their King. Above the will of priests and prelates, of nations and hierarchies,
LOYALTY TO GOD AT ANY COST. 181
was the will of God. They were loyal to His will, and they obeyed it at any and at every cost. Young men, seek to learn God's will from God's Word; and then, when you are convinced that you discern that will aright, be true to your conviction, and to Him you profess to serve. Be faithful to Christ and His truth. And if you find in the teaching of men, even though they be such honoured men as John Calvin or John Wesley, or Dan Taylor, anything contrary to the teaching of Christ; if you find in the teaching of denominational creeds and catechisms, even though it be a denomination as venerated and beloved as our own, anything contrary to the distinct teaching of Christ, then, at any cost, and every cost, obey God rather than men, obey God rather than denominations. Be loyal to Christ though your loyalty cost you loss of place, or loss of fame, or loss of friends. But this principle of fidelity to Christ at any cost is intended to touch our life in all its points. It is to be applied to all the relationships, all the engagements, all the duties, all the pleasures of life. It is to affect our conduct in the home, in the business, in the church, in all our intercourse with men under any circumstances. Amongst the many injunctions God has given for the ordering of our daily life He has left these two, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them.” “Whether, therefore, ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” In other words, we must act towards men in such a way as we should, in similar circumstances, desire them to act towards us. We must so act in all the details of life that our actions may show forth the splendour of God, and thus exalt Him in the eyes of men. But there come times when, for temporal advantage, it may seem well to do things which certainly would clash with these divine injunctions. There are certain customs of trade, it may be, certain ways of business, certain dealings with work-people, which we know to be contrary to the spirit of the first injunction, and totally opposed to the second—they are not, and cannot be, for the glory of God—yet not to adopt them is to incur pecuniary loss. Then, again, there are certain customs of social life, certain practices of society, which we well know were never intended to exalt God in the eyes of men; but if these are not followed, or allowed by us, we must suffer to be stigmatized “puritanical and singular.” What is to be done in these and similar cases? Must there be any connivance at evil, any bondage to fashion, any obedience to custom, any practise of wrong 7 Prophets, saints, apostles, martyrs, answer No. Peter declared to that lordly Sanhedrim, “We must obey God rather than men.” Must. We cannot speak with equal emphasis and reason of other things. There is not, that I am aware, any absolute necessity that we must be rich, or that we must occupy a certain professional or social standing, or even that we must live: but there is an absolute necessity for obedience to God. And, apart from this obedience, there are no riches worth acquiring, no interests worth preserving, no friends worth retaining, no life worth saving. Young men, what is the great base line of your conduct, the imperial rule of your life? Is it worldly policy, or personal interest, or social
custom, or selfish desire? These all fail in the sight of God. There is only one safe, sure rule of life: it is this—obedience to God at any cost. Let this principle underlie every action of life, every step you take in life, every stand you make in life. Do right. Do right, whatever the consequences. Obey God. You may do wrong and get worldly riches. By meanness and cunning, and deceit and oppression, and disobedience to the great commands of God, you may get worldly wealth and worldly power: but you will have to carry an uneasy conscience, and live without the favour of God. And you may do right and suffer poverty. By justice and mercy, and obedience to God, you may have pecuniary and social loss: but you will have a clear conscience and the favour of God. It is better to do right and have a good conscience, and the favour of God, whatever else may follow, than to do evil and be rejected by God. Resolve to be loyal to God at any cost. Say with grand old Martin Luther, “Here I stand. I can do no otherwise. God help me. Amen.” J. H. ATKINSON.
MADAME DE STAEL, than whom perhaps no more attractive woman ever adorned a salon, or received more universal admiration from not only the greatest men but the most brilliant women of her time, once said most forciably, when the affectations of many in society were being discussed: “I always feel like pinching affected persons, to see if they would cry naturally.” She was impatient of absurdities, and extravagance fatigued her, and her historian says, that “the happy mean between imagination and good sense was always sought by her. Insanity, she would say, can be poetical, but nonsense never.
Yet I am convinced that many young ladies imagine that to be popular, to win praise and attention in society, they must be affected, they must talk in unnatural tones of voice, pronounce words with an affected drawl, laugh unnaturally, adopt an affected walk, “the Grecian bend” or some other style, and so make themselves conspicuous by their senselessness. In olden times there were not lacking silly girls of the same kind, whose actions disgusted the grand old prophet Isaiah, who spoke of them as silly, and “walking and mincing as they went,” and we presume the world has never been destitute of such characters. But is it not strange that grown girls should affect such manners thinking they will please the best people, when it is only the silly, senseless ones who are not disgusted with them, while all history and experience shows that naturalness of manner, and sincerity of character always appeal to the finest sense, and merit, as they receive, the admiration of the truly noble?
While many persons seem at times to be fascinated by those of the opposite sex who, while devoid of high character, have a lively, but affected manner, yet their better judgment convinces them of the shallowness of such persons, and their are certainly few among our noblest gentlemen whose fascination for such is more than ephemeral.
Madame de Stael's father, M. Neckar, the great French, financier, may serve as an illustration of the above statement. During the reign of Louis XIV. there was perhaps no man in the empire more popular than he. His financial ability and integrity were almost without parallel, and his policy of retrenchment and rigid integrity, as well as his Protestantism, made him enemies as well as hosts of friends, so that he was repeatedly displaced and then recalled again as Minister of Finance. On his dismissal, it is said, the theatres were closed, and his bust, draped in black, was carried though the streets; and, on his return, the people drew his carriage in triumph, and made all Paris jubilant.
At one time when M. Neckar was at the height of popularity, and possessed of more influence than perhaps any other man in the empire, he was for a while captivated with a fashionable widow, with gay but affected manners, and he even went so far as to address her; but she deferred her answer to his proposal of marriage, hoping for an offer from a more wealthy man. While away from France traveling, she wrote to him declining his proposal, but returning to Paris soon after, in company with a young Swiss governess, who was to instruct her son in Latin, she heard that the fortune of the banker had been considerably increased, and she therefore determined to accept him. But M. Neckar was so struck with the sweet, unaffected manners and the superior qualities of Mademoiselle Curchod, the governess, that his affections, not his fancy, were soon enlisted, and in a short time they were married. They lived together most joyfully, and he not only was proud of her, and called her his guardian-angel, but he freely acknowledged that all the subsequent success which distinguished him was inspired by her. So the daughter of a humble Swiss pastor, in a little hamlet of the Jura mountains, whose father, “with the characteristic good sense and economical forethought of the Swiss, knowing that she could have no better provision for the future than a well-furnished and well-disciplined mind, educated her so thoroughly that she was considered almost a prodigy by many in the little towns between Geneva and Lausanne, where, riding a mule from chateau to chateau, she gave lessons to the children of the nobility, became afterwards the wife of the great Neckar, and a leading spirit in the salons of Paris, when the salon was a centre of power, social, political and literary, and was blessed in being the mother of so remarkable a woman as Madame de Stael.”
Some years previous to her marriage her learning, her beautiful manners, and her wit so won the admiration of Gibbon that he sued for her hand, but was prevented from marrying her by his father, who would not allow his son to marry a young lady without property. But long after Gibbon wrote, “though my love was disappointed of success, I am proud that I was once capable of feeling such a pure and exalted sentiment.”
Although Gibbon never married, it was his pleasure to enjoy frequent visits to the home of Madame Neckar, and he maintained throughout his life, it is said, an intimate friendship for herself and her husband.
When Madame de Stael was quite a little girl her father was in the habit of correcting her faults by a gentle raillery, and no exaggeration, no inaptitude of any kind escaped his attention. In after life she frequently said: “I owe to the incredible penetration of my father the