Page images
PDF
EPUB

in such a degree the stings and lashes of the law as to be brought thereby to the lively knowledge of his own deep corruption, and utter inability; and what is the severity of the divine wrath against sin ; and from these, to get a clear discovery of his infinite need of the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the real sanctification of the heart; so that he may be taught to cry. 'O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death ?'”

I am troubled to know whether I am reposing in carnal security, or whether in repelling my doubts as to being at peace with God through the blood of His Son (9), I am resisting the influences of the Holy Spirit whose work it is to convince of sin. I cannot feel with Job, that I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes ; nor do I feel in its full force, that constraining motive to holiness which love to Christ produces in every believer (10).

I hope you will kindly excuse my bringing the case before you: if through your Magazine you can, in answering, lead me to trust in God and take courage, I shall indeed thank you; or if it seem meet to you that I should spend my time in the valley of humiliation and self-abasement, I will rejoice through eternity, that God by your instrumentality has brought me to feel that godly repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of.

I reinain,
Your's respectfully,

F.S-r.

My Dear Young FRIEND.—Your letter, signed F. S-r, has interested me much, and shall receive from me the prayerful consideration you request, though I must confess that it seems to me a case of little difficulty.

Let me first caution you against any reliance upon mere human opinion in a matter of such monentous importance as the well-being of your soul. Nothing that the best of uninspired men ever wrote should be accepted as a rule of faith at all, much less as an absolute law admitting of no exception.

Setting aside, therefore, the opinions referred to in your letter, I shall confine myself to the detail of your own views and feelings, in the same order in which you have developed them. You commence this detail by a sweeping assertion which, if once granted, includes the whole case, and decides your position. · Your heart,” you say,

was graciously turned to God.” (1) But when we look for some evidence of this interesting change, we find nothing but an overflowing, though vague sense of peace

cry of "

with Him, (4) without the slightest reference to Christ, through whom alone we can receive it. The usual order of the process is thus described in scripture—Hearing the Word, Faith, Justification, Peace through our Lord Jesus Christ. Rom. v. 1, x. 17.

A determined hostility to all means of grace (2) is so little likely to produce genuine peace of mind, that connecting with it the absence of all sorrow for past sin, (3) and aggravated hardness of heart, (2) I am unwillingly led to fear that no saving work had been wrought upon your soul when you presented yourself for church-membership! When the hurt is but slightly felt, it is often healed as slightly; and there will sometimes be a

peace, peace,” when there is no peace. The general depression of mind which followed (5) might hence have been anticipated, and the symptoms you describe are quite in keeping with the case. We cannot but tremble for those who restrain prayer, omit the perusal of the Bible, and feel the yoke of Christ to be a burthen, (6) notwithstanding they maintain a consistent course in the eyes of others. Nor is this aspect of things at all improved by a blind assurance of our being in a state of pardon, (7) especially if Christ be not manifested with power to the heart. To • lean upon the paternal character of God" is but the faith of His inferior creatures, and may imply no more than a trust in His providence, without reference to the merits or mediation of Christ.

There does not appear, throughout the whole of your experience, a sufficient sense of the enormity of sin; or a proper looking to, and leaning upon, Christ, as your only and allsufficient Saviour: although towards the latter part of your letter you certainly recognize the doctrine of pardon and “peace with God through the blood of His Son." (9) But even then your expressions are so qualified, as to induce, in my mind, very serious apprehensions as to your inveterate hatred of sin, or love of holiness. (10).

The feelings predominant in the mind of a truly converted person are, that he is a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour—that there is none other name given among men whereby he can be saved, and that how guilty soever he may be, there is no room for despair, or even for doubt, respecting his salvation, if his hopes rest entirely on the Friend of sinners. Conviction of sin, and deep heart-felt sorrow on account of it, lie at the root of all just ideas of the gospel scheme, as without these it must appear that Christ is dead in vain. If there be no adequate sense of sin, there can be no proper estimate of the Saviour's sacrifice; and without this, how can we love Christ aright-how can we possess that constraining, influential, practical faith, which shall lead us for His sake, to count all things but loss?

Let me recommend you, my dear young friend, to spend your time rather in the garden of Gethsemane than in the valley of humiliation. Look to the cross of Jesus rather than to any acts of formal self-abasement. Search the scriptures for Christ, and then see if there be any plague-spot in your heart that he cannot cleanse. There is no true peace but in Him; but blessed be His name, He has enough for all —

To all who come, His grace is free,
To Saul, to Magdalene, and ihee!
Your affectionate friend,

PHILAGATHOS.

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BOY GOING HOME. My Dear Young FriendS,-Allow me to recommend to your serious attention the following brief statement of facts, regarding the conversion and happy death of a boy about fourteen years of age; who was, only two weeks previous to his dissolution, entirely ignorant of the character of God-of Jesus Christ, the only Saviour,-and of that preparation for death which is so absolutely necessary in order to a safe and happy eternity.

It is now some years since, at the request of a pious lady, I went to see the boy alluded to. I found him in a very poor and miserable house, having only a little dirty straw for his bed, with scarcely anything to cover his poor emaciated body. His parents were Roman Catholics. Ignorant themselves, they had allowed their children to remain in entire ignorance of the Holy Scriptures, and of that Jesus of whom these Scriptures testify as the only Saviour of lost and perishing sinners.

The father had forsaken his wife and family, and left them in a state of deep poverty and misery. The poor dying boy told me that he knew nothing of God; that he had never heard of the Lord Jesus Christ; and that he did not know what was meant by of words, so that it required much instruction to make him acquainted with the nature and evil of sin, the holiness of God's law,—the state in which he was by nature, – the only way of pardon and salvation through the obedience and atonement of Jesus Christ, and the necessity of an interest in him by saving faith.

that his parents had never told him that he was a sinner, or that he needed a Saviour; and that he knew of none to whom he should pray, but the Virgin Mary! He was indeed ignorant of the meaning

sin;

I labored much to enlighten his mind on these important subjects; and it pleased a merciful and gracious God to accompany my instructions with the teaching of his Holy Spirit, so that he soon became deeply convinced of his lost and perishing state, as a sinner in the sight of a holy and just God, and dreadfully alarmed at the thought of eternal punishment, which he now saw he richly deserved, on account of his sins. His distress of mind became very great, while his disease, consumption, was making rapid progress, so that he daily became weaker, and was evidently fast approaching to death and an awful eternity. I now began to fear that he might die in this state, still ignorant of Jesus Christ, and accordingly endeavored to lead him to that knowledge of the only true God and Jesus Christ, which is life eternal.” The means employed were evidently blessed of God; he was taught by the Holy Spirit,- became acquainted with the only way of salvation,-was enabled to cast himself at the feet of Jesus,-to embrace him as his only Saviour,—to commit his soul into his gracious hands,—and to trust in him alone for pardon and salvation! He now began to taste that peace which flows from true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to rejoice in him as the Saviour of his soul.

The great and striking change which had now taken place in the views and feelings of my dear little scholar was truly interesting and delightful. “ The love of Jesus was shed abroad in his heart:" the Saviour had become truly precious to his soul; His name was almost constantly upon his lips; he could talk of no other subject than the love of Jesus in dying for sinners, and especially in dying for him. The truths of the Bible were now more precious to him than thousands of gold and silver, and sweeter than honey from the comb. He frequently entreated his mother to pray no longer to the Virgin Mary, telling her that she (the Virgin Mary) was only a sinful creature,that it was very sinful to pray to a creature,—that there was no other Saviour but Jesus Christ ; and urging her to cry to him to save her soul; and to cease from placing a creature in the room of Jesus Christ; to come to that Jesus, who had pardoned all his sins and saved his soul. The dear boy was raised above the fear of that death which was now drawing very near to him, and even rejoiced in the prospect of meeting death, and of thus leaving a sinful world, and being made perfect holiness in the presence of that Saviour whom he now loved with all his heart and soul.

go home.”

He delighted much in calling Jesus his shepherd, and heaven his home. I asked him how he knew that Jesus was his shepherd ? He replied, " Because, Sir, he died for me; he has drawn me to himself; he has brought me into his fold; he has washed away my sins in his precious blood; he has received me; therefore, I know that he is my shepherd—that he will very soon take me home to himself in heaven, and make me perfectly holy like himself.”

I enquired how such a sinner as he was, could call heaven his home ?

He answered, “ because it is my Father's house ; and Jesus is preparing a place for me there, and I know he is just going to take me home."

I was with him on the morning on which he died. When I entered the room, he said, “O Sir, I am very glad to see you once more. I thought that Jesus was going to take me home before you came again, and I am very thankful that I have seen you before I

I asked him why he was so desirous to see me once more?

His answer was beautifully simple and interesting, “Because,” said he,“ I wish you to tell me your name before I go to Jesus.”

“What are you going to do with my name ?” said I.

He replied, that he wished to mention it when he entered heaven, saying, “ I must thank Jesus for sending you to shew me that I was a poor perishing sinner, and to lead me to himself as my only and loving Saviour.”

By this time the dear boy was quickly sinking into the arms of death, and I felt extremely anxious to be fully satisfied that his precious soul was perfectly safe; and with this view I asked him, what he thought of that heaven to which, he said, he was going ?

He replied, with much earnestness, “Sir, it is a place of happiness.” I said “what makes heaven a place of happiness ?” O Sir,” he answered, because Jesus is there !"

I replied, “but would not heaven be a place of happiness, if Jesus were not there, seeing that God the Father, and the holy angels are there ?"

In language which I can never forget, he answered, “Oh, Sir, you never asked me such a strange question before ; and I can only say, that heaven would not be a place of happiness to me, at any rate,

if Jesus was not there!”

I now felt assured, that to the soul of my beloved boy, Jesus was indeed all in all. In a few moments, after giving utterance to these truly delightful and emphatic expressions, he expired in my arms, with these words upon his lips, “Oh, Sir, Jesus is my shepherd. Jesus is taking me home.” He thus fell asleep in Jesus, and went to be for ever with the Lord, at home, in heaven.

« EelmineJätka »