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steps drag in the upward course; it brings a stupor upon the faculties; it induces the cessation of all activity, and then locks the soul in a slumber from which, if there be not the interposition of a higher power, there is no awakening but that of death.
And now let us turn briefly to the more positive side of our enquiry. If the defects of our church life are painfully palpable, it is a blessed fact that the remedy is equally obvious.
We want to see first of all in our churches, the cultivation of a spirit of earnest prayerfulness. By prayer we take hold of the power of God. Upon our knees before the throne of infinite love we may drink deep draughts of living water. It is by communion with the living and life-giving God that our souls may grow into a purer and more vigorous life. But to be acceptable to God and strengthening to our own spirits prayer must be the real outpouring of our hearts. Words are but empty husks if they be not the true disclosure of our desires ; they are lighter and more worthless than chaff, if they carry not the burden of our deepest thoughts and most earnest longings. Could we see in our churches a growing desire for persevering, united prayer, we could have no doubt of the speedy coming of a divine blessing which would quicken the life and deepen the spirituality of every one of them.
Another means for the promotion of spirituality is, a patient and reverent study of Scripture. True piety is mightily sustained by the habitual reading of the Word of God. Spirituality is largely promoted by an intelligent understanding of the truth. The devotion which is born of ignorance is but a sickly dwarf. No one who is at all acquainted with large numbers of our church members can for a moment question that the habit of neglecting the study of the Scriptures is a great hindrance to the spirituality of the churches. God has given his own Word to be the light and strength of his people. Spiritual truth is the food on which the spirit lives. “The words that I speak unto you,” said our Lord Jesus Christ, “ they are spirit, and they are life.” And in his intercessory prayer he said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”
We want, further, a more sincere cultivation of Christian brotherhood. With but too many the fellowship of the Spirit is little more than a name. There are, of course, differences of position in the church and in the world, and these ought to be maintained in a befitting manner. Christianity is not socialism. But, nevertheless, men who are joined to the same Lord, who are possessed of the same great hope, whose hearts are stirred with the same great purpose, have so much in common that, when within the church, they can well afford to forget their differences of station outside. If the church of Christ be not a socialistic society, it is a true brotherhood. There are few things so refreshing and invigorating to a man's spirit, when oppressed with care or doubt, as to be able to look for genuine sympathy from those who are joined with him in the same church fellowship. The pride which throws up a barrier between the members of the same church, and insulates the flow of brotherly feeling, is one of the most fatal obstacles to a church's growth in spirituality.
One thing more: we need a more careful development of the power in the church, a more complete employment of the talents for usefulness,
which every member possesses. Every Christian who has a right to the name ought to be a worker in the church, and in the world. There is abundant room for the labours of all. There is heathenism at our very doors. The moral wastes around us need reclaiming. There is within the church a vast amount of power unused. We must not be guilty of the strange mistake of supposing that only those ought to labour for their Lord who can do great things. It may seem a paradox, but it is nevertheless a truth, that the number of talents in the church possessed by the class who have only one each, is much greater than that possessed by the class who have ten. Among the disciples of Christ, as in the world, the highly gifted are but few. Greatly as we prize all the eminent servants for their works' sake, the church can better do without them than without the hosts of lowly, earnest labourers who can do but little, but who do that little with the whole heart.
Can anything be done by modifying or extending our present services which shall tend in a larger measure to promote this prayerfulness, Scripture study, brotherliness, and activity ? Let it be remembered that, as a rule, it is a weak subterfuge to multiply methods of action for the purpose of counteracting the indifference with which the more ordinary modes are regarded. But still as it is one great purpose of the meetings which are already held to develop piety as well as to proclaim the truth to the unconverted, if any other plans can be suggested more in harmony with Scripture precedent, and more likely to promote the great object we have in view, by all means let us adopt them.
I think there is one direction in which a change may be advantageous. Might not good results follow if there were more frequent meetings of Christians for the especial purpose of promoting the objects indicated? There are at present multitudes of church members who are seldom or never seen at any meetings of the church except it be at that for commemorating the Lord's Supper. The proportion of those who attend the ordinary monthly meetings is, as a rule, but small; and it is, to say the least, an open question whether these, as commonly conducted, are adapted to promote spirituality even if much larger numbers were present. Would it not be a great gain to a church's spirituality if the members were to meet statedly for the purpose of mutual edification ? The Wesleyan denomination has found the social meetings for the interchange of Christian experience a source of great power. I certainly should not be prepared to recommend the adoption of such meetings among ourselves. The weekly or monthly analysis and statement of our religious feelings does not seem to me to be either a wise or scriptural mode of strengthening spiritual life. But a meeting for the careful study of Scripture, for the especial object of assisting those who have but recently begun the divine life, would, I think, have all the advantages of a class-meeting with none of its dangers. It would tend to unite the members of the church in the closest sympathy. By deepening the convictions of believers and intensifying their love for the truth, it would expand their hopes and give power to their faith. The close contact with the mind of the Spirit which such habitual study would produce, would of necessity tend to increase the desire for spiritual fellowship, and therefore strengthen the grace, and draw out the gifts of all who took part in it.
Such meetings, however, would have to be kept under most careful supervision, and their power for good would in a large degree depend upon the discretion of those who undertook the oversight of them.
Before sitting down, let me again say that our only hope for a deeper spirituality is in the personal consecration of the members, and officers, and ministers of our churches. It would he a miserable blunder to imagine that the adoption of any additional modes of action will compensate for the want of earnest prayer and prompt activity. It cannot be too much insisted on that our great want is not more machinery, but a stronger motive power—not new methods, but a more vigorous life. Let us each and all, with a due sense of our indebtedness to the Lord, find out our own place in his field of service, and keep to it. Let us do well the work that lies nearest our own doors. By keeping at our own work, modest though it may be, we conserve our strength. If our influence be spread over too wide a surface, it will often become dissipated; it will lose in intensity what it may gain in breadth. Let us be watchful to give no occasion of offence to others, to pnt no stumbling-block in a brother's way. Let us come to the assemblies of the church already charged with the spirit of prayer. Let us keep prominently before our minds the fact of our individual responsibilities to the world, the church, and the Saviour.
It is the glory of the gospel of Christ that it does not deal with men in the mass : it singles us out and endows each soul with its divine blessings. All the gifts of God's grace are personal gifts, and the great power with which God builds up the church, and makes his name honoured in the world, is the power of personal consecration in his servants. The influence of a true Christian's life is a sacred perfume that cheers and strengthens all that come within its range. It is true that eminent spiritual gifts, like great intellectual powers, are bestowed only upon few. But as each one of us not without some degree of intellect, so each possesses some degree of spiritual power. Let it be our aim to use it for the welfare of men, and the glory of God. A higher purpose could not thrill an angel's heart. I had rather be chosen of God to add one impulse to the church's spiritual life, which, like the ripple on the surface of a lake, should extend in everwidening circles, than discover a planet or found an empire. The world will pass away. The aims and distinctions of time will be forgotten. But they that be wise will shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever.
The Attraction of Christ.
that it will not draw gold nor pearl, but, despising these, it draws the iron to it, one of the most inferior metals : thus Christ leaves the angels, those noble spirits, the gold and the pearl, and he comes to poor sinful man, and draws him into his embraces.—Thomas Watson
Physical Cause of our Lord's Death.*
A LETTER BY SIR J. Y. SIMPSON, M.D.
MY DEAR DR. HANNA.—Ever since reading, some ten or twelve years ago, Dr. Stroud's remarkable treatise on the Physical Cuuse of the Death of Christ, I have been strongly impressed with the belief that the views which he adoptedt and maintained on this subject are fundamentally correct. Nor has this opinion been in any way altered by a perusal of some later observations published on the same question, both here and on the Continent.
That the immediate cause of the death of our blessed Saviour was-speaking medically—laceration or rupture of the heart, is a doctrine in regard to which there can be no absolute certainty; but, assuredly, in favour of it there is a very high amount of circumstantial probability.
Let me try to state the arguments for this view in the form of a few brief propositions.
I. His death was not the mere result of crucifixion ; for 1st., The period was too short ; a person in the prime of life, as Christ was, not dying from this mode of mortal punishment in six hours, as he did, but usually surviving till the second or third day, or even longer. 2dly. The attendant phenomena, at the tine of actual death, were different from those of crucitixion. The crucified died, as is well known, under a lingering process of gradual exhaustion, weakness, and faintness. On the contrary, Christ cried with a loud voice, and spoke once and again—all apparently within a few minutes of his dissolution.
II. No known injury, lesion, or disease of the brain, lungs, or other vital organs could, I believe, account for such a sudden termination of his sufferings in death except (1) arrestment of the action of the heart by fatal fainting or syncope; or (2) rupture of the walls of the heart or larger blood-vessels issuing from it.
III. The attendant symptoms—particularly the loud cry and subsequent exclamations-show that death was not the effect of mortal fainting, or mere fatal arrestment of the action of the heart by syncope.
IV. On the other hand, these symptons were such as have been seen in cases of rupture of the walls of the heart. Thus, in the latest book published in the English language on Diseases of the Heart, the eminent author, Dr. Walshe, Professor of Medicine in University College, London, when treating of the symptoms indicating death by rupture of the heart, observes, " The hand is suddenly carried to the front of the chest, a piercing shriek uttered," etc. etc. The rapidity of the resulting death is regulated by the size and shape of the rnptured opening. But usually death very speedily ensues in consequence of the blood escaping from the interior of the heart into the cavity of the large surrounding heart-sac or pericardium; which sac has, in cases of rupture of the heart, been found on dissection to contain sometimes two, three, four, or more pounds of blood accumulated within it, and separated into red clot and lim pid serum, or
blood and water,”—as is seen in blood when collected out of the body in a cup or basin in the operation of common blood-letting.
V. No medical jurist would, in a court of law, venture to assert, from the mere symptoms preceding death, that a person had certainly died of rupture of the heart. To obtain positive proof that rupture of the heart was the cause of death, a post mortem examination of the chest would be necessary. In ancient times, such dissections were not practised. But the details left regarding Christ's death are most strikingly peculiar in this respect, that they offer us the result
Extracted from Dr. Stroud's work mentioned in our Reviews. + Dr. Stroud himself points out that Russell, Edwards, Ritmbach, and other writers, had more or less correctly anticipated him in the belief that Christ had died from rupture or breaking of the heart.
of a very rude dissection, as it were, by the gash* made in his side after death by the thrust of the Roman soldier's spear. The effect of that woundivg or piercing of the side was an escape of blood and water,' visible to the apostle John standing some distance off; and I do not believe that anything could possibly account for this appearance, as described by that apostle, except a collection of blood effused into the distended sac of the pericardium in consequence of rupture of the heart, and afterwards separated, as is usual with extravasated blood into these two parts viz. (1) crassamentum or red clot, and (2) watery serum. The subsequent puncture from below of the distended pericardial sac would most certainly, under such circumstances, lead to the immediate ejection and escape of its sanguineous contents in the form of red clots of blood and a stream of watery serum, exactly corresponding to that description given in the sacred narrative, “and forth with came there ont blood and water"-an appearance which no other natural event or mode of death can explain or account for.
VI. Mental emotions and passions are well known by all to effect the actions of the heart in the way of palpitation, fainting, etc. That these emotions and passions when in overwhelming excess, occasionally though rarely, produce laceration or rupture of the walls of the heart, is stated by most medical authorities, who have written on the affections of this organ; and our poets eveu allude to this effect as an established fact
" The grief that does not speak Whisper the o'er fraught heart, and bids it break." But if ever a human heart was riven and ruptured by the mere amount of mental agony that was endured, it would surely-we might even argue a prioribe that of our Redeemer, when during these dark and dreadful hours on the cross, he,
being made a curse for us,” “ hore our griefs, and carried our sorrows," and suffered for sin the malediction of God and man, “full of anguish,” and now ** exceeding sorrowful even unto death,”
There are theological as well as medical arguments in favour of the opinion that Christ in reality died from a ruptured or broken heart. You know them infinitely better than I do. But let me merely observe that
VII. If the various wondrous prophecies and minute predictions in Psalms xxii. and xlix., regarding the circumstances connected with Christ's death be justly held as literally true, such as, “They pierced my hands and my feet," “ They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture," etc., why should we regard as merely metaphorical, and not as literally true also, the declarations in the same Psalms, “ Reproach hath broken my heart," “ My heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of my bowels ? " And
VIII. Death by mere crucifixion was not a form of death in which there was much, if indeed any, shedding of blood. Punctured wounds do not generally bleed; and the nails, besides being driven through parts that were not provided with large blood-vessels, necessarily remain plugging up the openings made by their passage. The whole language and types of Scripture, however, involve the idea that the atonement for our sins was obtained by the blood of Christ shed for us during his death on the cross. “ Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” This shedding, however, was assuredly done in the fullest possible sense, under the view that the immediate cause of his dissolution was rupture of the heart, and the consequent fatal escape of his heart and life-blood from the central cistern of the circulation.
It has always appeared-to my medical mind at least—that this view of the mode by which death was produced in the human body of Christ, intensifies all our thoughts and ideas regarding the immensity of the astounding sacrifice which he made for our sinful race upon the cross. Nothing can possibly be more
* Its size may be inferred from the Apostle Thomas being asked to thrust not his "finger," but his “hand" into it.-Johu xx.