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lad, when a traveller wanted him to reach the eggs of a wild bird which had built on a rocky ledge. The boy felt that there would be no danger if the rope was in his father's hand, for he had a powerful arm, and a loving heart, and would not leave his own child to perish.
Timid believers are afraid to begin to work for Jesus. To teach in the Sunday-school, to commence a Tract District, to visit the cottagers, to preach on the green, any of these seem to them to be too arduous and difficult. Suppose they were to look up to their Heavenly Father, and rely upon his promised aid, might they not venture? It cannot need much courage to rely upon Almighty strength. Go, dear friend, to thy work, and thy Father will hold the rope.
Unbelief is apt to foresee terrible trials as awaiting us upon our road to heaven. Your position will be, so fear tells you, like that of one hanging over the raging sea, by the side of a precipitous cliff; but then remember the eternal love which will be your unfailing support. You may hang there without the slightest fear, for Father will hold the rope.
The awakened sinner dreads the wrath of Heaven, and fears that his eternal ruin is inevitable; but if he has learned to depend alone upon the Lord Jesus, there is no room for further alarm. The Lord Jehovah has become the salvation of every soul that has laid hold upon the hope set before him in the Lord Jesus. The great matter no longer rests with the sinner after he has believed, the weight of his soul's eternal interests hangs upon Jesus the Saviour. The eternal arm which never wearies, will put forth all its power to uphold the trusting ones; and every believing sinner may sing in joyful security, though Satan should set all hell boiling beneath him, for the great Father holds the rope.
No. 18.-Sword and Trowel Tracts, by C. H. SPURGEON.—6d. per 100. Post free, 8 stamps. Passmore & Alabaster, 23, Paternoster Row.
AN ADDRESS TO CHILDREN OF LARGER GROWTH.
BY PASTOR B. W. CARR, OF NEWCASTLE. THE picture is affecting as it delineates the venerable priest and the stripling
Levite; the latter just emerging from his nonage, while the former was fast sinking into his dotage. “ And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. Though you may compare the infirmity of advancing years to a second childhood, the difference between youth and senility is wide enough to suggest points of contrast not always free from humiliation and pain. Where is it you would look for the analogy? Do you trace a resemblance between the unawakened faculties of the little child, and the drowsy senses of the old man; the one hardly able to notice, the other failing to observe ; both weak, both toothless, both dribbling; neither equal to the task of self-help? But is not it hard to say whether there is more of resemblance or of disparity? And may not we—those of us, who on the high road of life pursue our journey with figure erect, light and lithesome, muscular and strong, pleased to think we are out of the swaddling-clothes, and yet not into the winding-sheet-may not we linger with wistful gaze on a fiction which groups the two extremities of life, feeling a personal interest, as well as a warm glowing sympathy, with each stage of being. Then banish far the cynic's sneer, and think within yourselves that these twain may both be beautiful, though neither is entirely free from such contingencies as can easily distort the fair ideal we fondly cherish, into a miserable satire upon nature. The morning day-dawn, and the evening twilight, have each their charms; but not always. Spring-time, with its budding flowers, has biting winds and pelting showers. Autumn, with its mellow fruits, has, too, its hazy mists and chilling rains. Love may linger, notwithstanding tears, at the infant's cradle, and the old man's couch. In the one we see a thing of beauty given by its Creator; in the other we would fain recognize a spirit of priceless value, returning back to the God by whom it has long been cherished.
Righteousness supplies the true adornment; condition is a trifling matter; character is the thing of moment. Hence the follies of his past life cast their shade on Eli's venerable figure, while the virtues of Samuel's future career lend an enchantment to the history of his youth. It was not because Eli was very old, nor because Samuel was very young, that we own to a preference. The wise man of Israel said, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof;" and, “Better is the day of a man's death than the day of his birth.” So, too, a modern poet sings
“Better a day when work is done,
Than time's most favoured birth;
Than the king of all the earth.” The pivot on which we now propose to turn a few practical reflections is that brief chronicle of his childish inexperience, wherein we are told that “ Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him."
Under almost every circumstance we can conceive, such a record as this concerning any man," He knew not the Lord,” would be enough to excite a shudder. Fatal ignorance! Foreshadow of a fearful doom! My people perish for lack of knowledge." Is there any virtue of private life, or any exploit of public service that can compensate for so terrible a reflection? “Naaman, captain of the host of the king of_Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him Jehovah had given deliverance unto Israel; he was
* This peculiarly beautiful address we earnestly commend to Christian parents as eminently suggestive as to their path of duty and reason of hope.
also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.” Even so the thousand charms that may brighten up the life-story of any man, are dissolved in an instant by the blight which falls on his history in this one sentence, “ He knew not the Lord.” But here the sadness is mitigated by the word “yet.” The clouds are breaking, the light is dawning, although the sun has not risen upon the soul of the child Samuel. He is not locked up in the stronghold of ignorance and unbelief, although he has not hitherto been enfranchised with the rights and liberties of mental, moral, spiritual freedom. “ Samuel did not yet know the Lord.” Save only for this reservation, what might such a statement imply? Nay; what does it literally imply in the case of some of us? And are not we all born into the world in such a state of benighted intellect? This is the fountain of natural corruption, the immediate consequence of our innate depravity, the great privation of our race. Fallen from the high station of our original progenitor, who was made in the image of God, all men, if not hopelessly lost, still have need to be restored, quickened and created anew, for they are all alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them.” Are you a child of larger growth, upon whom no regenerating work of the Spirit of God has ever been wrought? Then, notwithstanding any offices of religion performed on your behalf, or attended to at your own discretion, you know not the Lord! Pitiable indeed as the disability of our birth may be, more pitiable still is the bent and bias of the human mind, turned in so opposite a direction, that we seek not that knowledge which is of all other most desirable. A spirit of enquiry incident to the rational intelligence, will instinctively prompt a desire to be wise; but like a wild ass's colt, so unsubmissive is man, that he will not yield up his heart to that restraint, which the fear of the Lord lays upon every one who is instructed in heavenly studies. It goes against the grain. The heart of the children of men by a common disposition is set upon evil. Self-knowledge may be rare, but the knowledge of the Lord is not recognized at all as a service essential to our well-being.
Nor because this ignorance is both innate and universal, is it the less sinful and ruining. The guilt and responsibility of Pagans, whose social vices and conduct
may be clearly traced to the corresponding debasements of their minds, prompts the Missionary enterprise to publish among them the knowledge of the true and living God. Might we not better leave them alone if their ignorance could shield them from amenability to the law? Is it worth while to encounter their prejudice, if in the moral elevation of a few, we involve the many in deeper condemnation ? But we (steadfastly believe that their debasement will not shelter them. They who live like beasts must be judged as men. What measure, then, can ever guage the criminality of unbelief among ourselves, who are careless in the midst of the most awakening circumstances, listless under the sound of rousing appeals, and willingly ignorant when the sacred scriptures are not merely within our reach, but pressed upon our attention, obtruded upon our notice, forced upon our observation, and commended to our conscience, whether we will or not?
With a still thicker gloom encompassing them, we think it may be said of some persons, that “they know not the Lord,” through imbecility. Such was unhappily the state of Israel, when, in the days of Eli, the priesthood was profligate, the Tabernacle was profaned, and men abhorred the offering of the Lord. Not so wholly oblivious either were they, but that “Israel lamented after the Lord,” when spoiled of those institutions, in the loss of which they sensibly felt that the withdrawal of Divine favour involved an absence of national and personal prosperity. The knowledge of the Lord is not a hoary tradition, handed down from sire to son, like the fables and customs of heathen mythology. It is a lively, active, vigorous sense of God's counsels and operations, which demands a clear conscience, a pure faith, a holy and ardent love, and a spirit of enterprise and progress. Lacking these signs, we must be in the backsliding condition, not likely to retain God in our knowledge, by a fatal necessity sinking into corruption. Thus the light was fading in Israel, when it pleased
the Lord to puff out the dim lamp of Eli's faithless house, and strike a fresh spark, which should kindle to a bright flame in the career of Samuel.
In pleasing contrast therefore with the corrnpt estrangement of the heart, we turn to the inexperience of a mind to goodness trained, though not yet advanced to that stage of development in which the grace of God is exhibited in its sanctifying agency.
“ Samuel did not yet know the Lord,” howbeit, he was in the sure track to that blessed attainment. We may construe it as though it were said, “ He knew the Lord's ministers, he knew the Lord's ordinances, and he knew much of the sacred offices of the Lord's house, but he had not yet come to the knowledge of the Lord himself, or enjoyed personal communion with the Most High.” How many of the dear children of God have an experience, which the history of Samuel goes far to interpret! When we speak of conversion working a sudden transformation of character, as in the instance of Matthew or Zaccheus; or palpably changing the creed as well as the heart, in the instance of Saul of Tarsus, they find no counterpart in the recollection of the path by which they have been led, and they almost wish their lives had once been more deeply stained with sin, could they now by any imposing phenomena of conversion, assure their hearts more fully that they had been translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son. Let Samuel furnish these misguided casuists with a type of character, not uncommon, such indeed as hath many a counterpart among the brightest luminaries that ever shone in the Christian Church.
From the earliest anticipations of Samuel's birth, he had been dedicated to the Lord by the tender devotion of a godly mother's vows. So soon as he was weaned, he was brought into the house of the Lord. The first dawn of his intelligence was familiarized with its hallowed courts. If such a privilege has been ours, let us thank God; and if not, still let us seek that our children may be thus favoured. The beauty of holiness, as it was limned forth in the tabernacle, impressed the instinct of the child Samuel before his mind was capable of exercising the faculty of reason; and a profound respect for the ministers of the Lord's Sanctuary no less vividly penetrated his heart from the early intercourse he had with the venerable Priest. Surely Eli, after allowing for all his faults, gentle, mild and mellowed by age, was just of that mould most likely to win the affections and secure the reverence of the tender youth committed to his charge. What a permanent influence we have sometimes known the Christian pastor to produce upon the minds of the young; and that totally distinct from the effects of ministry we commonly seek! Canonized in our hearts is the benignant old servant of the living God, who read the Holy Word, closed his eyes in fervent prayer, and opened his lips in sacred counsels when we were children. The ordinances of religion, we can readily suppose, were all the more engaging to Samuel, because, from a child he had some office, something to attend to, in the solemn service. For my part, I like to hear the
voices mingling in the hymns of praise, although, like Samuel, they do not yet know the Lord ; and I like to hear their enquiries elicited, “What mean ye by these things?” even though they may not yet be able to digest the mysteries of faith.
We may remember with pleasure that we were members of the choir, or subscribers to the Missionary Society, long enough before we were awakened to hear the voice of God speaking to our souls. These are preliminaries. I venture to think they are not altogether void of interest. Do abjure that empty talk which affects to glorify the grace of God in conversion, by declaiming the days of unregeneracy as a mere blank to be banished from memory, or to be referred to with the brazen-faced effrontery of those who dare to boast of the way they once plunged into the filth and mire of sin. No, no; gratitude demands that we hold those days when we did not yet know the Lord in everlasting remembrance. What! shall Cyrus ever forget that the Lord said, “I have surnamed thee though thou hast not known me?" or again, “I girded thee, though thou hast not known me?" Did not the word of the Lord come to Jeremiah saying,
“ Before I formed thee, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee, and ordained thee a prophet unto the nations ?” And did not Paul say, “It pleased God who separated me from my mother's womb and called me by his grace, to reveal his son in me?” Defended by the Word of God, is it contrary to the testimony of a believer's own heart? What numerous influences flow like tributary streams to swell the tide of character! Who can presume
that any period of life, however dark the mind might then have been to spiritual things, contributed nothing to the development of his own disposition and propensities ? Or, who would dare to limit the guardianship of the Lord? He did not begin to love us when our affections were first turned toward him, nor did he begin to show grace toward us when we first saw the fountain bubble up at a day or an hour of our limited chronology. According to Josephus, Samuel was about twelve years old when
the spirit of prophecy was vouchsafed to him. The entire freshness to his mind of the Lord's manifestation is carefully noted by the sacred historian. Samuel, already trained in the outward observance of the statutes and ordinances of the law, was an entire stranger to any present inspiration. Well as he knew the function of the priesthood, he was totally ignorant of the extraordinary vocation of the prophet. " The Word of the Lord was precious in those days: there was no open vision.” Dreams of seer and visions of God were rare. Samuel, on the alert for the call of duty, knew nothing of the call of God. Quick to obey, he has no notion of any summons likely to arrest him, but such as comes through the constituted order of the priesthood. Three times, therefore, does he arise at the sound of his own name sharply striking on his ear. Three times does he repair to Eli, ready to answer at his bidding, or to do his injunctions. Not till the third time, when the voice was reiterated, as if in special earnestness, Samuel, Samuel! does Eli apprehend that it is the voice of the Almighty which cites the child; not till then does he direct him accordingly. Here I want to accommodate the narrative to a case of Christian experience by no means
"God is faithful, by whom ye were called into the fellowship of his son Jesus Christ our Lord." You may not be able to remember the time when you were called out of the profane world, for you never mixed with it. You do not remember when you first obtained a taste for the services of divine worship: you always liked them. So far you can go with Samuel. But do you remember, as Samuel could, when you were brought to see for yourself, to hear for yourself and to exercise faith for yourself, through a new channel that had not previously been opened to you? What a grateful advance this was in your spiritual attainment! You had heard the Word of God in sermons that seemed more or less adapted to meet the cravings of your heart; but now, when shut out from public ordinances, you have heard the Lord's voice speaking to you. Prayer, heretofore a sacred duty in your estimation, henceforth becomes a means of intercourse with God. Very long had you mingled with the many who assemble in the tabernacle, not at all discriminating between the devout and the formal, so long as outward decorum was common to both, for you were a stranger yourself to any inward witness or attesting seal that set a mark on your profession; but now the Lord has called you by name, put you among the children and shown you your title to the inheritance as one whose name is written in the Lamb's book of life. What marvel then that your soul should be bowed with gratitude while you realise the heavenly assurance that you have found grace in the eyes of the Lord !
Light gradually broke upon the mind of Samuel. In the immediate response that he was instructed to give to the Lord there is a beautiful feature. Eli had counselled him to say, “Sp. ak, Lord, for thy servant heareth,” but, timid of any presumption, and because he did not yet know the Lord,” he only said, “Speak, for thy servant heareth.” It was not till after the Lord had shewn Samuel that he knew him, and discovered himself to his soul, that Samuel could know the Lord. This acquaintance, which is the introduction to the highest of all privileges, must originate in the gracious condescension of the Sovereign. The