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FRIEND OR FOE?
Such is woman's love-mysterious, wonderful, divine! Conquering Pride, destroying Wrath, rising in strength and in divinity as the misfortunes of its object increase, and clinging to it the more, the more the world hates it. Surely, this is one of the noblest and sweetest gifts of God to men!
What seasonable, old-fashioned weather! How thick the snow lies; how it clings to every ledge on the fronts of the houses—to the railings, to the windowsills, to the door handles; how softly it hoods the dimly-burning gas-lamps; in what clouds the flakes sweep round the corner and along the street; in what heaps they pile themselves against the doors! Glorious Christmas weather! Come from the window and let us draw close round the fire. This is the time for ghost-stories. Hark! how the wind whistles ; with what a ghostly sound it moans in the chimney!
Alas! for the outcasts in such seasonable weather, Alas! for him who has cast himself out, not from warmth and food alone, but also from love, from sympathy, from friends, from very Hope! Who is this that passes with bent figure, so swiftly and shiveringly; on whose face the lamp-light shows, momentarily, such gaunt despair? Though the wind howls out here in the dark street, bearing along its whirling snow, there is evidence in the bright warmth that shines on the window-blinds, and in the sounds of merry laughter and sweet music that reach our ears, that the sons and daughters of men, shutting out the cold and the storm, have shut themselves in with Peace, and Mirth, and Warmth, Friendship, and Gladness. Is not he of the bent figure about to do likewise ? Does he not feel some of the cheer and brightness of this joyous Christmas-season? Alas, we have met him before. Had we not caught that glimpse of his face, with its lines of suffering, its hunger and fear and remorse, we should still know there could be no cheer for him. No. He must crawl through the storm, silently, almost like a thief, open yonder door, and, passing along the dark passage into which, from the parlour, come some of the sounds of music and merrymaking, glide upstairs to that ill-furnished, dismal room which has been his home for more than a week, and hide himself there, like a rat in his hole.
No wonder that, when he has lit his candle, and for a few moments has paced up and down, casting a weird shadow on the wall as he passes and repasses, no wonder that he stops suddenly, and looks round, almost with madness in his eyes. The sense of utter desolation must be strongest just now, when the sounds of laughter and music come faintly to his ears.
“O God of heaven, it is unbearable! Have mercy–have mercy upon me!" A terrible cry, mingling with that merriment. No wonder he flings himself, groaning, on the bed, and strives to stifle the mocking sounds-to stifle consciousness itself. ...
An hour passes, the sounds of laughter and happiness still ascend to that dismal room; the candle on the table burns lower and lower; but the figure on the bed moves not. Another hour; the mirth increases; the storm rages as fiercely as ever without; the candle has flickered its life away; and still, in the semi-darkness, the figure lies there, breathing heavily. Sleep on, unhappy one, and dream, if thou canst, that Warmth, and Love, and Peace, have not deserted thee.
Unhappy, even in his dreams! Why must he go again through this horrible week? Alas! not even sleep-perhaps not the grave itself-can give us refuge from haunting memory. For a moment, he is again the child of peace; his step is light; his eye merry; his heart hopeful. How sweet is that musical voice, that speaks to him so gently! how like an angel's her blue, truthful eyes. Everybody is his friend, everything works in his favour, and ever near him there seem to be two bright forms, floating on airy wings, watching him and whispering, “BE TRUE”
Suddenly the scene changes. He moves about with a clouded forehead; his bosom friend spurns him; the blue eyes burn with scorn. He is an outcast! everybody is his foe, everything mocks him. Hungry, desolate, he walks the streets from morning till night, the worm at his heart ever growing more maddening. Why do people look at him like that? do they know? They must, for
886 FRIEND OR FOE 2
every eye gleams with an accusation. It is Sunday—how the bells ring out! How happy people seem—fathers, and mothers, and children, even the wretched poor who take their dinner to the bakehouse. He is now passing a church; a moment's hesitation, then he has crept up to the door; is listening there to the throbbing, exulting music within. He would go on, but cannot—he must stop, though the mingling tones of the organ and voices of the congregation, rising and falling in one grand volume of sound, mocked him a thousand times more
than they do.
He cannot stay here! and low his head must hang as he dashes away, for the accusing eyes must not see these blinding tears. . . . .
A churchyard! How white gleam the “storied urns” and beautiful monuments of woe. How pure and holy seems the dazzling robe covering the earth; how the streaming flakes whirl about his figure, seeming to keep time to those wild bells ringing out their Christmas-morning Halleluia. Mock on, ye bells, and tell of joy and hope—when there is no more joy and hope in the whole world! Mock on! ye cannot do more than break the heart. And here prostrate beneath the falling snow, the Christmas bells ringing joy-peals from a score of tongues, he lies now, upon a grave, the stone of which bears the motto:
“BE TRUE TO JESUS CHRIST!”
Grim Reality again. Tap, tap, tap. The troubled dreamer starts from his sleep and opens the door. A woman's figure, in black and deeply veiled, enters; the veil is lifted, and he just catches a glimpse of a white, stricken face, when she would sink to the ground but for his arm that bears her up. “Elsie!” he cries. Is this a part of his terrible dream?
No, no—this is no dream. To hear that sweet voice—how like the voice of an angel of mercy, now !—pouring out sorrow, confession, appeal, hope, in one burning stream of words; to look into that upturned face, which he had hardly dared hope to see again—this, this is no dream, thank God! Yet, why does he hide his face in his hands, even in the semi-darkness? Rather, how can he, outcast, ingrate, wretch as he is, look into those pure eyes?
There are many and bitter tears shed in that room during the next halfhour. At length, standing before her, he takes her hand—yet holding himself aloof, as though his touch were contamination to her—and says:
“May God bless you, Elsie. I have been an unutterable coward to run away. But I will return again, as you ask, though it be only to receive my just punishment. I thank you for your trust, Elsie: I am not guilty of this charge. Come.”
A PLEA FOR OLD TESTAMENT STUDY.
A RIGHT understanding of the historical genesis of Christianity is at once the problem of Biblical scholarship and the necessary presupposition for the effective use of scripture in the church. To know what Christianity is, not merely in its power for the individual soul, which, God be thanked, requires no scientific study, but as a power in history still stored with all the principles that are needful for the regeneration of society, we must study it in its birth from the old dispensation. In this sense the Old Testament is the key to the New, and no church which loses sight of this fact, and is content merely to read the law and the prophets by the aid of the gospel, without also reading the gospel by the aid of independent historical study of the old dispensation, can hope to attain that thorough comprehension of the fundamental significance of Christianity which is the first condition for successful dealing with the religious problems of our day. It is this necessity which is the practical justification for those labours of modern historical students of the Old Testament which are so often slighted as if they had no value for actual religious life. —DR. W. RoberTson SMITH.
I. THE BRITISH Association has met this year at Southport. More than 2,300 tickets were sold, and the enthusiastic interest of the people of Southport and the neighbourhood reached an exceptionally high degree. Professor Cayley's address was one of special ability and special knowledge. It was the work of a specialist from beginning to end. Not one in a dozen understood it who heard it, and numbers failed to hear it. Never have we seen a more impressive illustration of “shooting,” as the phrase goes, “over the heads” of an audience than in this utterance from the chair of the British Association. We are glad to see that increasing prominence is being given to an Association “Sunday” in the town where the Parliament of Science is held, and that it is dedicated to the utterances of some of the most cultivated and accomplished preachers of the day; a prophecy, we will hope, of that complete absorption and utilization of Science by Christianity which is surely not far off.
II. THE MONTH OF CONGRESSES AND of UNION MEETINGs is upon us. The Church of the State presents an appetising programme at Reading. The Independents will discuss vital themes at Sheffield; and the Baptists will congregate at that great Free Church centre, Leicester. With Baptists, Foreign Missions, as usual, lead the way, and absorb the forepart of the engagements of the week. On Wednesday the Union begins its own work, and we General Baptists are a portion of the Union. We were in at the beginning, and have been along the whole course. Of late, as everybody knows, the Union has changed its front to a large extent, and is rapidly becoming a BAPTIST Home MISSION Organization. From that part of its work “Generals” are shut out; but we feel we ought to do our utmost for the “Annuity,” “Augmentation,” and “Education” Funds, and therefore we have, at our recent Assembly—remembering that what is everybody's work is likely to be treated as if it were nobody's l—created a Baptist Union department, of which the Rev. W. J. Avery is Secretary. Will the churches generously respond to his appeals? It is to be feared that in this, as in other matters, we have not done all we ought. Since we have no reason for belonging to the Union except to aid in its work, we ought to do that as far as we possibly can.
III. ACCURATE STATISTICs of our churches are necessary, amongst other reasons, for the safety of those “dear” men in the nation who do everything by the slate, and reckon up church-members and their obligations as farmers do sheep. “So many heads, so much money;” and whose strongest appeals are framed on such lines as these: “If" (what a gigantic potentiality that is 1) If only—and how could we ask less?—“If only each member would give one penny a week, that would be £100,000 per annum, and we would engage to convert the world (on the slate) in the space of five years, three months, and twenty days.” It is perhaps cruel to remind these Christian statisticians, that other societies than those they plead for exist; that a little work has to be done for the world in other ways than by societies; and that churches and individuals differ indescribably in their giving power; but at least we might take care that a large percentage of “dummies” in our returns should not introduce confusion into their arithmetical calculations.
IV. WENDovER.—A letter reaches me too late for insertion in full from the pastor (J. H. Callaway) of the church at Wendover, Bucks, renewing his appeal for help in the renovation of the home of this ancient church, and reciting some of the features of its long and chequered history. Friends who, in the holidays, have lost sight of this request, would do well to send their aid at once to the brethren at Wendover. They are too feeble to do the work unassisted, and they should not be burdened with debt for these most necessary repairs.
W. THE Mosquito QUESTION.— Several communications have come to hand concerning Rev. S. G. Winslow's paper on this subject. I have only been able to make room for one in this issue.
VI. NEw CoMERs.—We may learn to give a cordial welcome to new converts and new comers in the church. Ananias went as soon as he was sent, and said, “Brother Saul.” Oh, how these words must have thrilled the heart of the blinded one ! And how much he would be pained when, on his first appearance as a disciple at Jerusalem, the members or the mother church stood aloof from him, and treated him with coldness. Blessings on thee, Barnabas, for taking him then so warmly by the hand! Thou wast always a son of consolation, but 388
never didst thou prove thy right to that name more convincingly than when thou stood'st the friend of the suspected and avoided Paul' But is there not here an example for us? How many, especially in our large cities, come and go to and from our churches for weeks, it may be even for months, without anyone speaking to them a cheering word! We may say, indeed, that they ought to make themselves known, and introduce themselves through some of the evangelical associations to its members; and this, to some extent, is true; but the first advance should be by the church; and it seems to me that every congregation should have a Barnabas committee, composed of some of its kindliest members, who should undertake this Christ-like service. . . . We knew a good Christian lady who went to her pastor for the addresses of those who were received from time to time into the church, that she might personally call upon them, and congratulate them on the stand which they had made. There was a deaconess without the name ! If there were more like her in all our churches, these spiritual societies would become more like “households of faith.”—Dr. W. M. Taylor.
VII. THE BEAUTIFUL AND BENEFICIENT MINISTRY OF THE WEAK AND SUFFERING. —Robert J. Burdette, the genial humorist of the Burlington Hawkeye, lately gave up an intended visit to Chautauqua Lake,
on account of the invalid wife he is nursing at Nantucket, and in his letter of excuse he wrote: “Her little serene highness is in utter helplessness, unable to stand alone; for years she has been unable to walk, her helpless hands folded in her lap. She must be dressed, carried about, cared for like a baby, suffering from countless pains and aches, day and night; and I cannot leave her, even for a few days. Her life has been a fountain of strength to me. In her long years I have never seen the look of pain out of her eyes, and for more than half so long I have seen her sitting in patient helplessness, and I have never heard a complaining murmur from her lips, while she has served as those who only stand and wait, never doubting the wisdom and the goodness of the Father whose hand has been laid upon her heavily. The beautiful patience of her life has been a constant rebuke to my own impatience, and in her sufferings I have seen and known and believed the “love that knows no fear,’ and the faith that ‘knows no doubt.” Let the feeble and suffering be of good cheer. Their unseen ministry is dear at once to God and men.
VIII. “PREACHING WITHOUT PAPER is one thing, and the right thing; preaching without preparation is another thing, and an altogether wrong thing.”—J. S. Blackie.
PRESBYTERIANISM. By Rev. J. Macpher
son, M.A. Edinburgh: T. do T. Clark. IN this addition to the valuable series of “Handbooks for Bible Classes” we have a useful description of the principles and methods, offices and Courts, of the Presbyterian Churches, references to the literature on the subject of Presbyterianism, and explanations of the relations of the Presbyterian Church Idea to the Prelatical and Congregational conceptions. The book is not without mistake on matters of fact, but is specially marred by the domination of an oppressive mechanism, as though Christ, in creating a New Society, had merely constructed a dead machine, or built up an edifice of lifeless stones. The author ignores the changes going on in Presbyterianism wherever it is vital; is oblivious, apparently, of the moulding influence of the Zeitgeist on the forms of the church's life, and is not free of the hoary error
which isolates the divine action into separate grooves of human experience. Making abatement for these grave defects, our readers will find in this book a helpful guide in the study of a form of Christian life and activity which has an inspiring history, and is still one of the renewing forces of the world.
NEw STUDIES IN CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY. By a Graduate of Oxford. Stock. NEw Studies in Christian Theology are always desirable; and, fortunately for us, they are inevitable. Man is essentially a student, and the best work of other men is not enough for him. He must enquire for himself. But new studies should always be conducted on true, if not old principles, or the conclusions reached will be false, in whole or in part. The Oxford Graduate starts with a false principle, and assumes that the Bible is not to be investigated as any ordinary book belonging to the same section of world literature, and produced under similar natural conditions; and therefore his results are often fanciful, unreal, and unsatisfying. Thus the “names” of persons in the genealogical lists of Matthew and Luke are not intended to give any natural pedigree, but are “of purely spiritual significance, and were never intended to represent existent individuals, but only purely spiritual qualities and principles.” So long as the Bible is treated in this way, it will be a book apart from the actual life of man, a breach in the total unity of the full revelation of God, a set of texts for pleasant and curious speculations, but not a history of the highest manifestation of God to the sons of men.
Is LIFE WoRTH LIVING P AN EIGHTFold ANswer. By J. Clifford, M.A. Marlborough & Co.
“THE answers of Moses, Elijah, Solomon, and Paul, are treated of in succeeding discourses, marked by much thoughtfulness and great literary freshness, force, and beauty. The sixth sermon is a tender and beautiful one, discussing the ‘meaning and mystery of pain’” . . . .
“Mr. Clifford shows not only a marked acquaintance with the various schools of modern thought and the discoveries of modern science, but is himself evidently a man of ripe culture, in whom scholarship has not quenched enthusiasm.
“We know of no reply to the question, “Is life worth living?' equal to this within the compass of the same number of pages; nor of any book more fitted to be helpful to such as are troubled with doubt concerning the manifold mysteries of life.”—The Outlook, Aug. 24.
A FourTH edition is now in the press, with a new Preface, containing the answer of M. Renan to the question of the worth of life.
A HANDBook of REVEALED THEoLogy. By Rev. John Stock, LL.D. Elliott Stock. A FourTH edition of a work of this character in such a theologically transitional period, is a strong witness to its value, and a proof of some weight that “Calvinism” and “Strict Communion” are not “dead,” even though, as many \think, they are sleeping their last sleep. Twenty-two years ago Mr. Spurgeon— while not endorsing all Dr. Stock's teaching—gave this volume warm praise. The church has moved in the interval, and though Dr. Stock's comprehensive and well arranged treatise is an able representation of one of the modes of
theological thinking a quarter of a century ago, this book loses much of its aptness for this generation by the obsolete character of much of its language, and its want of vital relation to, and vigorous handling of, the insistent questions of the souls of men. To a man who has made his own “handbook” to revealed theology the book might be commended without much risk; but we should have grave fears of peril to young men starting their theological thinking under Dr. Stock's guidance.
Booth of THE BLUE RIBBON Movement; or, THE FACTORY Boy who BECAME A TEMPERANCE Evangelist. By Ernest Blackwell. Passmore & Alabaster. WE have read the story of this earnest and successful advocate of Temperance with real interest. It is full of incident, of difficulties bravely faced, and of harvests of success splendidly reaped. The Christianity of the Blue Ribbon Movement, and the History of the Temperance Reformation, are made to turn on the life of R.T. Booth as a pivot; and credit is accorded to the workers of past times, though had it been done with greater zest and heartiness, the work would have lost none of its interest or value. We rejoice in the toil and in its triumphs, and commend the story to all interested in the welfare of humanity.
DICTIONARY AND CoNCORDANCE OF BIBLE WoRDs AND SynonyMEs. By Robert Young, LL.D. Edinburgh : G. A. Young do Co. By this effort Dr. Young exhibits the use and meaning “of 10,000 Greek and English words occurring in upwards of 80,000 passages of the New Testament,” and so enables the student to discover how the original Greek is variously rendered in our version, how the same word in our version is the translation of a different one in the original, and to detect shades of significance by comparison of parallel places. We have tested the work at a number of points, and can heartily commend it as sure to be of real and extensive use.