Page images


pected in certain hamlets, whose rotation to be visited were the people themselves of the advantage arising was supposed to be coming round, it was beautiful to from their improved condition, that they looked upon see the cottages send forth their inhabitants, to watch their pastor with the most confiding affection and regard. the coming of the beloved minister. Come, take

your dinner with us.'_' Let me prepare your supper.'

They had received a counsellor from heaven, and these • Permit me to give up my bed to you,'—were re-echoed simple-hearted people appreciated the blessing. from many a voice, and though there was nothing in the

In the course of his labours, Neff found great diffirepast which denoted a feast-day, yet never was festival culty from the imperfect education which the young observed with greater rejoicing than by those, whose received at school. He, therefore, resolved to endearye-bread and pottage were shared by the pastor Neff. vour, as much as possible, to introduce an improved Sometimes, when the old people of one cabin were

system of education,

This, however, might appear standing at their doors, and straining their eyes to catch impracticable, there being no schoolmasters capable of the first view of their guide to heaven,' the youngsters of another were perched on the summit of a rock, undertaking the task. Every obstacle only tended the and stealing a prospect which would afford them an more to rouse the energies of Neff. He resolved to earlier sight of him, and give them the opportunity of take upon himself the office of schoolmaster,-a ciroffering the first invitation. It was on these occasions, cumstance which is thus noticed by his biographer :that lie obtained a perfect knowledge of the people, questioning them about such of their domestic concerns

“ Behold the preacher surrounded by his classes in a as he might be supposed to take an interest in, as well miserable stable, correcting the tone of one, the proas about their spiritual condition, and finding where he nunciation of another, and the articulation of a third ; could be useful both as a secular adviser and a religious patiently dinning sounds and sense into their ears, and counsellor. • Could all their children read ? Did they making them spell the words, and divide by syllables, understand what they read ? Did they offer up morning and repeat by sentences again and again, until he had and evening prayers ? Had they any wants that he could put them into something like a fair training. Behold relieve? Any doubts that he could remove? Any afflic- himn also, to keep his pupils in good humour, and to tions wherein he could be a comforter ?'

mingle something pleasing with the dull routine of read“ It was thus that he was the father of his flock, and ing and spelling, putting aside his books and giving les

sons in music. This was a most successful as well as master of their affections and their opinions; and when the seniors asked for his blessing, and the children took agreeable expedient ; it was soon found that the best hold of his hands or his knees, he felt all the fatigue of singers were also the best readers, and application to his long journeys pass away, and became recruited with the more attractive lesson was usually accompanied by new strength. But for the high and holy feelings which proficiency in the duller acquirement. sustained him, it is impossible that he could have borne Encouraged by the success of his exertions in the up against his numerous toils and exposures, even for

cause of education, Neff resolved to erect a schoolhouse. the few months in which he thus put his constitution to

The situation chosen for the building was the village of the trial. Neither rugged paths, nor the inclement weather of these Alps, which would change suddenly Dormilleuse, and his mode of proceeding is thus graphia from sunshine to rain, and from rain to sleet, and from cally described. sleet to snow; nor snow deep under foot, and obscur- “ He persuaded each family in Dormilleuse to furnish ing the view when dangers lay thick on his road; no- a man who should consent to work under his directions ; thing of this sort deterred him from setting out, with and having first marked out the spot with line and his staff' in his hand, and his wallet on his back, when plummet, and levelled the ground, he marched at the lie imagined that his duty summoned him. I have been head of his company to the torrent, and selected stones assured by those who have received him into their fit for the building. The pastor placed one of the houses at such times, that he has come in chilly, wet, heaviest upon his own shoulders,—the others did the and fatigued; or exhausted by heat, and sudden transi- same, and away they went with their burthens, toiling tions from excessive heat to piercing cold, and that after

up the steep acclivity, till they reached the site of the sitting down a few minutes, his elastic spirits would proposed building. This labour was continued until seem to renovate his sinking frame, and he would enter

the materials were all ready at hand; the walls then into discourse with all the mental vigour of one who began to rise, and in one week from the first commence. was neither weary nor languid.”

ment, the exterior masonry work was completed, and In all respects Neff showed himself the father and

the roof was put upon the room. The windows, chimthe friend of his people. He taught them to improve also were finished. A convenient stove added its ac

ney, door, tables, and seats, were not long before they their houses, to cultivate their lands, and extend their commodation to the apartment, and Dormilleuse, for temporal comforts as far as their peculiar circumstances the first time probably in its history, saw a public would admit. And the earnestness of his anxiety on school-room erected, and the process of instruction con. their behalf was met with a rich return of gratitude and ducted with all possible regularity and comfort.” confidence and affection. In one district of his parish, Having completed the school-room, the indefatigable more especially, which had been in a more destitute pastor commenced his work as a teacher, dedicating his condition than the rest, he felt a lively interest. From time chiefly to the Normal department of his plan, or the the first moment of my arrival,” says he, “ I took them training of schoolmasters, who might afterwards conduct as it were to my heart, and I ardently desired to be the education of the children on an improved system. unto them even as another Oberlin." And so he ac- The winter of 1826_7 was accordingly spent at Dormil. tually proved. Though he found it impossible to de- leuse; and such was the anxiety of Neff to improve the vote more than a week in each month to this half-bar- pupils who had put themselves under his care, that fourbarous district, a change for the better was very soon teen or fifteen hours out of the twenty-four were spent apparent. Indeed, so extraordinary was the improve-in study. The spot which had been selected for this ment of the peasantry of the Val Fressiniere in social experiment, was the most secluded and dreary of the manners and family comfort, no less than in agriculture, whole Alpine districts, and the season was remarkably

*o attract the attention of strangers; and so sensible severe and stormy. But nothing could chill the efforts





of Felix Neff. He persevered in his good work, until ble, from his native air. The relief from his sufferings, the close of winter called for the return of the little which he rather hoped for than expected, was partially party of students to their different communes. The in- granted. Taking advantage of intervals of apparent rehabitants of Dormilleuse regretted the breaking up of a storation to health, he uniformly exerted himself in society, which, though small, spread a cheerfulness some pious work, which most frequently led to a throughout the secluded village. The account of the relapse. parting scene is thus beautifully given by Dr Gilly.- As a last resource, he was advised to try the effect of

“ On the evening before they took their leave, the mineral waters, and accordingly he resided for some young men of the village prepared a supper for their time at Plombieres. While there, he preached regularly new friends, and invited them to the parting banquet. to the Protestants of the place. Having experienced a It was a simple and a frugal repast, consisting of the considerable revival of his strength, he returned to Geproductions of the chase. The bold hunter contributed On his arrival there, however, he began gradu. his salted chamois, the less enterprising sportsman of ally to droop. His spirits failed him, his body became the mountain laid a dried marmot upon the table, and emaciated, and it was but too evident to his friends that one or two of the most successful rangers of the forest his stay on earth would be short. produced a bear's ham, as a farewell offering, in honour of the last evening on which the conversation of this “ It was most heart-rending,” said a spectator of his interesting group was to be enjoyed. It was at the same sufferings, “ to behold him, thus pale and emaciated, time a pleasing, and a melancholy festival, but I do not his large eyes beaming with an expression of fortitude find, in the pastor's Journal, that either the achieve- and pain ; covered, from head to foot, with four or five ments of their ancestors, who had garrisoned this rocky woollen garments, which he was obliged to change frecitadel, and had repulsed numberless attempts to storm quently; submitting, in silence, and with the greatest it, or the exploits of the chasseurs, who had furnished calmness, to the application of the moxas,* a painful the festive board, formed the conversation of the even- operation, which was constantly repeated ; suffering the ing. It seems to have savoured rather of the object pangs of hunger; counting the hours, and at last venwhich originally brought them together, and when one turing to take something, then waiting with anxiety till of the party remarked,— What a delightful sight, to the food, such as it was, should digest, and thus pasbehold so many young friends met together—but it is sing all his days and nights during a long succession of not likely that we shall ever meet all together again !' relapses, and of physical prostration, which we somethe pastor took the words up like a text, and enlarged | times looked upon as a relief.” upon the consolatory thought, that though they might

Even in the utmost extremities of his distress, his see each other's faces no more in this life, they would most assuredly meet again in a joyful state of existence Alpine flock dwelt much upon his mind. Ile was now in ile world to come, if they would persevere in their quite aware that his labours among them were for ever Christian course. He then gave them a parting bene- come to a close. Still, even on his death-bed, he pressdiction, and, after a long and mournful silence, which ed upon them, by letter, the precious truths which he each seemed unwilling to interrupt, either by uttering had been privileged to urge upon them from the pulpit. the dreaded good-bye, or moving from his seat, the va- And when unable to write, he employed his mother as ledictory words and embraces passed from one to another, and they separated. The next morning at an

amanuensis, to whom he dictated two letters, addressed early hour, they were seen winding down the mountain

to his beloved flock. Though unable, for want of room, path to their several homes; they of Dormilleuse gazed

to insert either of these beautiful and impressive letters, after them till their figures were lost in the distance, we cannot refrain from presenting our readers with an and the village on the rock appeared more dreary and extract of the touching reply of the simple peasants of desolate than ever."

the Alpine valleys, to a letter which had been sent to Next year they again assembled, but, through the prepare them for the mournful tidings which his friends kindness of friends, in circumstances of greater comfort would too soon be called to communicate. than before. Neff, however, found that his health was “ It is we, it is we, who are the cause of your long gradually declining. The severe labours and privations illness. Had we been more ready to listen to you, you to which he had been subjected, began to prey upon a

would not have had occasion to fatigue yourself in the constitution never remarkably robust. In the winter of deep snow, nor to exhaust your lungs, and all the pow1827, he performed his various duties with great difficulty.

ers of your body. Oh, bow much pain has it cost you A total derangement of the digestive organs had taken for our sakes. Dear pastor, sensible of the affection

to teach us : like our good Saviour, you forgot yourself place, and the internal pains to which be was in conse

you have always manifested towards us, we desire, with quence subject, were greatly aggravated by a severe ac

all our liearts, to be useful to you. We can say, with cident which he had sustained in the knee. When his truth, that if our lives could be of service to you, we pupils had returned at the end of the second session, if would give them, and then we should not be doing we may so term it, of the Normal institution, Neff felt more for you than you have done for us. May the that his disorder had greatly increased, his stomach had Lord bless you, and grant you patience in this long tri

al. entirely lost its tone, and refused to receive any thing from on high, and recompense you for all the pains you

May He shower upon you a thousand benedictions but liquids.

have taken of us! Your reward is in heaven : an imIt now became evident that an immediate removal mortal crown awaits you. We will conclude by enfrom the severe climate of the Alpine region was abso- treating your prayers in our behalf; unworthy as we lutely necessary. For a time he felt very reluctant to are, we do not forget you in ours. Every farnily, withseparate himself from a people among whom his labours out exception, from the heights of Romas to the foot had been so signally blessed. At length, however, of some of them in this letter. We are your unworthy,

of the Influs, salutes you, and you will see the names after travelling over the greater number of the villages but entirely devoted brothers.” to bid an affectionate farewell to his flock, he set out for Geneva, with the view of deriving benefit, if possi- | by burning it on the part affected.

• An Indian or Chinese moss, used in the cure of some disorders,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The closing scene was now fast approaching—it was all my friends the Pellissiers, whom I love tenderly ; in complete harmony with the whole course of his life. Francis Dumont and his wife ; Isaac and his wife; be« Tell me not how the man died,” was once the saying and her mother; all all the brethren and sisters of

loved Deslois, Emilie Bonet, &c. &c.; Alexandrine of a pious minister, but tell me how he lived." We

Mens, adieu, adieu I ascend to our Father in entire have seen “how holily, and justly, and unblameably,"

peace !

Victory! victory! victory! through Jesus Felix Neff spent his laborious and useful life. Let us


Felix Neff.' attend him in his dying moments, and listen with devout “ The last night of his life, we and scme other per. eagerness to the latest aspirations of this man of God. sons remained to sit up with him. Never shall we for“We had the satisfaction," said a narrator of the the shadow of death. It was necessary to attend to

get those hours of anguish, so well called the valley of dying scene,

“ of being much with him towards the him constantly, and to hold him in his convulsive strugclose of his painful career, and we never heard a murmur escape from his lips. He was grateful for the af- bles; to support his fainting head in our arms, to wipe

the cold drops from his forehead, to bend or to straightfection shewn towards bim, and returned it abundantly. en bis stiffened limbs; the centre of his body only reOfien, after our poor services, he threw his arms round tained any warmth. For a short time he seemed to be our necks, embraced us, thanked us, and exhorted us choking, and we dared not give him any thing: A few with all his soul to devote ourselves to God.

• Believe

words of Scripture were read to him, but he did not my experience,' said he, ‘He only is your sure trust, He

appear to hear; once only, when some one was lament. only is truly to be loved. If you should one day be em ing to see him suffer so much, and said, “ poor Neff,' ployed in the preaching of the Gospel, take heed not to

he raised his head for an instant, fixed his large eyes work to be seen of men. Oh, with how many things of full of affection upon his friend, and again closed them. this kind do I reproach myself! My life, which appears During the long night of agony we could only pray and to some to have been well employed, has not been a quarter so much so as it might have been! How much revived him, he made a sign that he should be carried to

support him. In the morning, the fresh air having a little precious time have I lost!' He accused himself of un

a higher bed; they placed him on this bed in a sitting faithfulness in the employment of his time, and of having been vain-glorious : he, whose labours were scarcely hours we saw his eyes raised to heaven; each breath,

posture, and the struggles of death began. For four known to a few friends! who had refused to marry, that his lieart might be entirely devoted to his Master, nied with a prayer; and at that awful period, when the

that escaped from his panting bosom, seemed accompaand wbose arderit charity for his fellow-creatures had heaviness of death was upon him, in the ardent expres. brought him, at the age of thirty-one, to his bed of sion of his supplication he appeared more animated than death! Knowing his love for sacred music, we fre

any of us.

We stood around himn weeping, and almost quently assembled in a room near bis own, and sung, in murmuring at the duration of his sufferings, but the an under-tone, verses of his favourite hymns, and a

power of his faith was so visible in his countenance, paraphrase on the thirty-first chapter of Jeremiah, which

that our faith too was restored by it; it seemed as though he had himself coinposed. This singing filled his soul

we could see his soul hovering on his lips, impatient for with a thousand feelings and recollections, and affected eternity. At last we so well understood what his vehim so much, that we were obliged to discontinue it

, hement desire was, that with one impulse we all exthough he did not see us, and he heard us but faintly.

claimed: Come Lord Jesus, come quickly.' About a fortnight before his death, he looked on a mirror, ar:d discovering unequivocal signs of dissolution of April, 1829,) we accompanied his remains to the

Two days afterwards, (his death took place 12th in his countenance, he gave utterance to his joy : Oh, tomb. Over his resting place were read some beautiyes ! soon, soon I shall be going to my God! From ful verscs of that Word which shall never pass away. that time he took no more care of himself: his door was open to all, and the last hours of the missionary numerous friends, who were assembled at the grave,

We then prayed, and in compliance with his wish, his became a powerful mission. His chamber was never

sang together those lines of M. Vinet, of which the empty, he had a word for every one, until he was ex

stanzas conclude thus:hausted by it. In the full enjoyment of all his mental

They are not lost, but gone before.'".
faculties, every thing was present to his memory: the
most trivial circumstances, even conversations wliich
he bad held many years previously, and be made use of

FIRST DISPENSATION OF THE LORD'S them with extraordinary energy in his exhortations.

On bis inother's account only did he show the least in-

quietude: old, feeble, and devoted to him, she could
not restrain her tears. Before her, he assumed a firm-

(Extracted chiefly from Buchanan's History.)
ness which amounted even to reproach ; then, when
she left him, no longer able to refrain from weeping on the morning on which Wishart was to be executed,
himself, his eyes followed her with tenderness, and he the priests sent two Franciscan monks to acquaint him
would exclaim ‘ my poor mother!

that the time of his death drew near, and to ask if he “ Ile made presents to his friends, and set apart some wished to confess his sins to them, as was customary; religious books for many persons to whom he still he replied that he had no need for friars, nor any wish Loped to be useful; after having underlined several to converse with them, but if they would gratify him passiges, he thus wrote the address :— Felix Neff, dy- so far, he would be happy to be visited by the learned ing, to

man who had preached the day before."

On this being “ We shall have an indelible recollection of the last reported, the sub-prior, after he had obtained the perletter that he wrote; it was a few days before his death. mission of the bishop, came to the prison in the Castle, Ile was supported by two persons, and, hardly able to where Wishart was confined, and held a long conversasee, he traced at intervals, and in large and irregular tion with him, intermingled with many tears. At characters which filled a page, the lines which follow, length, after he had ceased weeping, from which he addressed to some of his beloved friends in the Alps. could not refrain, he kindly asked, whether he would What must have been the feelings of those who received not wish to partake of the sacrament of the Supthem, with the persuasion that he, who had traced them, per ? “Most willingly,” answered the martyr, If was no more!

• John Winram, Sub-Prior of St. Andrews, who was at that time “ 'Adieu, dear friend, André Blanc, Antoine Blanc, a friend to the Reformation, but not openiy, for fear of the priests.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

according to Christ's appointment it be shewn forth in

DISCOURSE. both kinds, namely, in bread and wine.” Winram im

BY THE Rev. Robert Gordon, D. D., mediately returned to the bishops, and, with a view of conciliating them, informed them that the prisoner so- One of the Ministers of the High Church, Edinburgh. lemnly afirmed his innocence of the crimes with which

“ Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without he was charged, and that he did not say so to avert

which no man shall see the Lord.”_HEB. xii. 14. his impending death, but only to leave a testimony to man of that innocence which was known to God. The The duties prescribed in this verse are at all eliect, however, was quite opprsite : the Cardinal times necessary, and therefore it is at all times sea(Beaton) intiamed with rage, exclaimed, “ As for you, sonable to inculcate them. There was, however, Mr Sub-Prior, we know very well already what you are.” Winrain then asked whether the prisoner would a peculiar propriety in urging them upon the Hebe allowed the communion of the holy body and blood brews, especially in the circumstances in which of the Saviour ? when the other priests, after having they were then placed. It appears from various consulted a little together, gave it as their opinion, notices in the New Testament, that the Jews, " that it did not appear proper that an obstinate herenotwithstanding the reverses which, as a nation, tic, condemned by the Church, should have any church privileges.” This determination was reported to Wish they had sustained, and the degradation to which art; and it does not appear that he saw Mr Winram they had been reduced, still cherished an overagain. At nine o'clock the friends and domestics of the weening idea of their own superiority, regarding governor having assembled to breakfast, he was asked themselves as the special objects of the Divine ivhether he would partake with them; to which he favour, and conceiving that they were entitled to frankly replied, “ with more pleasure than I have done look on other men with contempt. Of those for soine time past, for I perceive you are devout men; among them who did not believe the gospel, we and fellow-?nembers of the same body of Christ with nue, and also because I know this will be the last food find the apostle thus speaking in his Epistle to I shall partake of on carth.' Then addressing the go

the Thessalonians :- They both killed the Lord vernor, " I invite you, in the name of God, and by that Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecutlove which you bear to our Lord and Saviour Jesus ed us ; and they please not and are contrary Christ, to sit down at this table a little, and attend to

to all men : forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles me while I address an exhortation to you, and pray over the bread which we are about to eat, as brethren of that they might be saved.”. Of this spirit a very Christ; and then I shall bid you farewell.” In the

notable example is recorded in Paul's own history: meantime the table being covered, as is the custom, for on a certain occasion, when he addressed his with a linen cloth, and bread placed upon it, Wishart countrymen in Jerusalem, detailing to them the began a short and clear discourse upon the Last Supper, circumstances of his conversion to the faith of the and the sufferings and death of Christ, and spoke about gospel, and giving an account of the apostolic Half an hour ; he especially exhorted them to lay aside commission which he received from the Lord wrath, envy, and malice, that their minds might be filled with love one to another, and so become perfect Jesus, who said to him, “ depart : for I will send inembers of Christ, who daily intercedes that we through thee far hence unto the Gentiles ;" we are told Liin, our sacrifice, may obtain eternal life. Having that “they gave him audience unto this word, and spoken to this effect, he gave God thanks, and broke then lifted up their voices and said, away with such the bread, and gave a little to each, and in like manner a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should Jie gave the wine, after he himself had tasted, entreat- live.”

And even with regard to those who did being them to remember, in this sacrament, along with him, the last memorial of Christ's death ; but for him

lieve the gospel, they were so zealous of the law, self, a more bitter cup was prepared, for no other rea- that they seemed to think none should be admitted son than preaching the gospel. After this he again re- to the privileges of the gospel without being re

. tired to his chainber, and finished his own private de- quired at the same time to observe the institutions votions.

of Moses. In so far, then, as the Hebrews might Probably since the first institution of the Supper, it be under the influence of such prejudices and prehas seldoin been celebrated under circumstances more possessions, they wou a oe in danger of giving solemn and allecting. Wishart was a man of the most way to a contentious spirit ; and if they did so, inild and amiable temper, of a sweet and venerable ap- surrounded as they were by enemies who waited pearance, and his inanners are said to have been parti- for their halting, they would not only give increascularly engaging. He had been a kind of inmate in the ed bitterness to the hatred and opposition of gaingovernor's family for nearly two months, and during that time seems to have conciliated the affections of his sayers, but bring discredit on the faith which they keeper and attendants, the most of whom were, pro- professed, by giving the adversaries occasion to bably through bis means, become “partakers of like speak reproachfully. And in like manner, they precious faith,” as he addressed them, upon this occa- might stand in need of being especially reminded sion, as persons whom he knew to be fellow-members of the necessity of personal holiness. "It is wellof the same body of Christ. In less than three hours he was to stand in the presence of that God and Saviour known, that their unbelieving countrymen looked whose dying love they were commemorating, and to be upon themselves as a holy people, in virtue of honoured, to glorify his name, by passing through the their descent from Abraham, and their separation Bames to heaven. With what energy would he address from the rest of the world by their being in posthem,—with what reverential attention would they session of a Divine revelation, and a divinely inlisten! Scarcely can a scene of deeper interest be ima- stituted form of worship; and that, resting in their pined, excepting, perhaps, some which followed, when, distinctive privileges, they were disposed to sub“ Leaning on his speer,':

stitute this, what they considered hereditary holiThe iyari vetran heard the word di God."

ness, for tha purity of heart and life which it was

[ocr errors]

16 to

the great end of all their privileges to produce. spirit, to plead that they have sustained injury, If, then, the Hebrew Christians, previously to and it may be at the hands of men who make no their conversion to the faith of the gospel, had profession of Christianity ; still if they did but rebeen accustomed to cherish the same delusion, Hect on the forbearance and long-suffering patience they might still require to be warned against it; with which God endured their innumerable provoand there was therefore a peculiar force and pro- cations ; they could not fail to be humbled by the priety in the apostle's admonition as addressed to melancholy contrast between the mercy which had his countrymen, “ Follow peace with all men, and forgiven them ten thousand talents, and their unholiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” willingness to remit to an offending fellow-creature

But the precept, as we have already remarked, his hundred pence. is at all times a most important one, and can But the precept in the text goes much farnever therefore be unseasonably urged. In Old ther than merely to inculcate a sort of passive

Testament prophecy, Christ was foretold as the avoidance of giving offence—a meek and patient “ Prince of Peace,” in “ whose days the right- endurance even of unprovoked injuries, rather eous should flourish, and abundance of peace so than being the cause of dissension or discord. long as the moon endureth ;” and when the fulness We are required to “ follow peace with all men," of time was come, his birth was announced as or, as it is elsewhere expressed in Scripture,

peace on earth, and good will towards men.” In seek peace and ensue it”—to follow it as a thing fact, peace is frequently used in Scripture to ex- which is not easily attained, and which we are ever press every thing that is comprehended in Christ's in danger of losing. And did men really act in salvation. When, by his death, he bore the pe- the spirit of this precept—were they so deeply and nalty of our offences, made reconciliation for ini- so habitually affected with a sense of their own quity, and opened up a new and living way of ac-obligations to God's forgiving mercy, as to feel cess to God; it is said that he made peace for us that it is the true honour and dignity of their naby the blood of his cross. When, through faith in ture to imitate his forbearance and compassionthis atonement, our reconciliation to God becomes and had they such a lively anticipation of the holy a matter of experience; the blessed fruits of our and blessed society to which they hope hereafter justification or acceptance with him, are represent to be united, as to awaken and keep alive in ed as consisting of “ peace and joy in believing,”- their minds, an ardent desire to see something o even “the peace of God that passeth all understand the same love and harmony characterising maning." And the ultimate design of all this is de kind on earth: What a different aspect would clared to be, that by the indwelling of the spirit in professedly christian communities exhibit, from our hearts, we may be united to Christ and to one what, I fear, they but too frequently present ! another in the bonds of love and affection, as mem- How often would they suppress those angry feelbers of the same spiritual body, children of the ings with which they are so prone to resent a real same family, and heirs of the same heavenly inhe- or supposed injury! How easily would they be ritance ; and that being thus made perfect in one, brought to an amicable adjustment of differences, we may, by our example and our influence, diffuse which too often terminate in irreconcileable quaramong men that

peace which Christ came to pro- rels? How cheerfully would they at times sacricure and to publish. And if it be the great de- fice something of their worldly interest, rather sign of the gospel thus to give us peace with God, than give occasion to a dispute, the consequences with ourselves, and with one another, then the of which, it may be impossible to foresee! And gospel is practically known and felt, only in so far in how many instances might they not succeed, as it has produced this effect: and professing Chris- even in disarming the opposition of gainsayers, tians cannot more palpably belie their principles, and constraining them to acknowledge that the than by cherishing an angry, contentious, or vin- tendency of the gospel is as happy as it is holy ! dictive spirit. Did they regard one another as All this, it is true, implies a degree of humility, children of the same Heavenly Father, and did self-denial, and regard for the interests of others, they really hope to spend together an eternity of which, it is to be feared, is not frequently exemholy fellowship with God; it were impossible that plified; and would lead to a line of conduct, they could give way to such a spirit without feel- which, in many cases, might be esteemed too ing, on serious reflection, that they had betrayed humbling to be reasonably required or expected. and brought discredit on the cause which ought to The objection, however, is the dictate of pride ; be dearer to them than life: for huwever little un- for whatever may be the maxims and opinions of godly men may know, or be able to conceive of the world on the subject, the most honourable the comforting, elevating, and purifying influence and becoming course is that which the apostle has of the Gospel, they are quick-sighted enough to prescribed :—“ Dearly beloved, avenge not yourperceive the revolting inconsistency of men who selves, but rather give place unto wrath, for it is profess to be pilgrims on the earth, and fellow- written, • Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith

I travellers towards a better, even a heavenly coun- the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger feed try, “ falling out by the way,” or, in the emphatic him; if he thirst give him drink : for in so doing language of the apostle, « biting and devouring thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not one another.”

And even though Christians may overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” be able, in justification of an angry and irritable Is the apostle's precept then to be understood




« PreviousContinue »