Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Our religious duties cannot be thrown off upon our minister.

heart will feel the reverence which his action implies. His thoughts, instead of wandering to the ends of the earth, will ascend in devout aspirations to heaven. Contrition for the offences which he has committed against that Being who has been kind to him as a father-resolutions to conform his conduct and character more completely to the divine will--longings for that assistance from above, without which, past experience and the word of God inform him that his efforts will be strength spent for naught—and ardent supplications for blessings upon his fellow men, dictated by a benevolence which comprises in its view the whole human family, and which looks forward in its good will to men to the enjoyments of eternity, as well as to the comforts and conveniences of time--these will be the emotions which will have control in the heart of the man of sincerity, while the affections of the man of form will be groveling upon the farm, the money, or the merchandise

The song of praise too, from the one who really worships God, will not be merely music on the tongue, it will be an expression of warm feeling from the heart. The voice of adoration and praise will arise from a soul which adores and praises, and which, as it lifts up that voice, will be itself elevated by the emotions of gratitude and love; while the offerer of an external worship will be lost in vacancy during the singing of God's praises, or only interested in the mere music of the song.

And in the listening to the sermon, the concientious worshipper will give earnest heed to the things which relate to his everlasting peace. Knowing that he has, in multiplied instances, transgressed a law which God has established and enforced by dreadful sanctions, he is convinced that it becomes him to attend in earnest to the means of averting the consequences of his guilt. With this view, his mind is fixed in attention to the way of reconciliation with God, and to the duties which devolve upon him who cherishes hopes of immortality; and all this time he who is contented

Appearance of evil.

An example.

with outward conformity, is lost in a mental, and perhaps in a bodily slumber.

Let me urge my readers then to be careful how they perform the duties of public worship. The responsibility of being interested in them, and profited by them, comes upon you alone. You cannot throw it off upon your minister. Examine yourself with reference to the spirit and feelings with which these duties are performed. They

afford you a very fine opportunity for close and faithful self-examination; for the sinister motives which, in a greater or less degree, undoubtedly exist in your hearts, will show themselves here.

There is one thing more that I ought to present to the consideration of my readers before closing the chapter on this subject. It is this:

In keeping the Sabbath, avoid all appearance of evil. I have endeavored in this discussion to accomplish two objects. First, to convince my readers that the mere form and manner in which the Sabbath is kept, except so far as it is a matter of express command, is not material; and secondly, to convey to the mind a distinct idea of what I understand to be the spirit of the command, and to persuade all my readers to aim at producing, by the best means within their reach, upon their own hearts and lives the effect which God had intended in the establishment of the institution. From these views of the subject, were I to stop here, it might seem that if we take such a course as shall really secure our own religious improvement on the Sabbath, we may do it in any way; for example, that we may walk, or ride, or visit, provided that we so regulate and control our thoughts and conversation as to make the spiritual improvement which it is the object of the day to secure. But no. We must avoid the appearance of evil. We must not seem to be breaking or disregarding God's

commands.

For example. A Christian living on the sea-shore, after having spent the day in the various duties which have pre

The summer evening.

A walk.

Walking, riding, sailing.

sented themselves to his attention, stands at the door of his house and looks out upon the glassy surface of the bay which stretches before him. It is a summer evening. The sun is just setting, throwing his bright beams over the water, and gilding every object upon which it shines. The Christian looks over this scene of beauty, and its expression of calmness and peace is transferred to his own soul. He feels the presence of God in it all, and rejoices in the power and goodness of the great Being who reigns in every scene of beauty or of grandeur which nature exhibits.

[ocr errors]

With his heart filled with such thoughts, he walks down upon the beach to indulge in the contemplation of God's goodness to mankind and to him. Now he is, it must be admitted, while doing this, accomplishing the object of the Sabbath by meditation on the character of God. He may say perhaps that his views of divine goodness and power are more distinct and vivid while he is walking out among the beauties of nature, if his heart is in a right state, than they would be if he were shut up in his study. Why then may he not walk out at evening?

And why may he not step into the little boat which floats in the cove, and unloosen its chain and push himself off from the shore, that while rocked by the gentle, dying swell of the sea, he may lose himself more completely in the absorbing feeling of God's presence, and muse more uninterruptedly upon his Creator's power? Shall he go?

No; stop, Christian, stop. Before you spend your halfhour in a boat upon the water, or even in your evening walk, consider what will be the influence of the example you are going to set to others. Shall you appear, while you are doing this, to be remembering the Sabbath day to keep it holy? Is it best, on the whole, that riding, walking, and sailing should be among the occupations of holy time? Will God be honored and his Sabbath kept if all spend the Sabbath evening as you are about to spend it? These questions must be answered on a principle which will apply to multitudes of other cases. Take a course

Trial and discipline.

The steam-boat on trial.

which, were it universally imitated, would promote the greatest good; otherwise you may be doing that which, though safe for yourself, will be of incalculable injury, through the influence of your example, upon others.

CHAPTER X.

TRIAL AND DISCIPLINE.

"Strangers and pilgrims on the earth."

I. NATURE OF TRIAL.

THE Bible every where conveys the idea that this life is not our home, but a state of probation, that is, of trial and discipline, which is intended to prepare us for another. In order that all, even the youngest of my readers, may understand what is meant by this, I shall illustrate it by some familiar examples drawn from the actual business of life.

When a large steam-boat is built with the intention of having her employed upon the waters of a great river, she must be proved before put to service. Before trial, it is somewhat doubtful whether she will succeed. In the first place, it is not absolutely certain whether her machinery will work at all. There may be some flaw in the iron, or an imperfection in some part of the workmanship, which will prevent the motion of her wheels. Or if this is not the case, the power of the machinery may not be sufficient to propel her through the water with such force as to overcome the current; or she may, when brought to encounter the rapids at some narrow passage in the stream, not be able to force her way against their resistance.

The engineer therefore resolves to try her in all these respects, that her security and her power may be properly proved before she is intrusted with her valuable cargo of human lives. He cautiously builds a fire under her boiler; he watches with eager interest the rising of the steamgage, and scrutinizes every part of the machinery as it

Efforts of the engineer.

Improvements.

gradually comes under the control of the tremendous power which he is cautiously applying. With what interest does he observe the first stroke of the ponderous piston!-and when at length the fastenings of the boat are let go, and the motion is communicated to the wheels, and the mighty mass slowly moves away from the wharf, how deep and eager an interest does he feel in all her movements and in every indication he can discover of her future success!

The engine, however, works imperfectly, as every one must on its first trial; and the object in this experiment is not to gratify idle curiosity by seeing that she will move, but to discover and remedy every little imperfection, and to remove every obstacle which prevents more entire success. For this purpose you will see our engineer examining, most minutely and most attentively, every part of her complicated machinery. The crowd on the wharf may be simply gazing on her majestic progress as she moves off from the shore, but the engineer is within looking with faithful examination into all the minutia of the motion. He scrutinizes the action of every lever and the friction of every joint; here he oils a bearing, there he tightens a nut; one part of the machinery has too much play, and he confines it—another too much friction, and he loosens it; now he stops the engine, now reverses her motion, and again sends the boat forward in her course. He discovers, perhaps, some great improvement of which she is susceptible, and when he returns to the wharf and has extinguished her fire, he orders from the machine-shop the necessary alteration.

The next day he puts his boat to the trial again, and she glides over the water more smoothly and swiftly than before. The jar which he had noticed is gone, and the friction reduced; the beams play more smoothly, and the alteration which he has made produces a more equable motion in the shaft, or gives greater effect to the stroke of the paddles upon the water.

When at length her motion is such as to satisfy him,

« AnteriorContinuar »