Page images
PDF
EPUB

appears that nearly a quarter of a million of votes have been cast, which probably would have been doubled had the votes been taken on the Sabbath; which, to the honour of Ameri

can Methodism, was not allowed to be done.

Time rushes on: here we are in November. Next comes December, and our year's work will be done.

Mutual-Jid Association Reporter.

were

GENERAL COMMITTEE.

is a mole catcher. Has been a kind The monthly meeting was held at of half missionary (gratis) for 50 Brother Gully's, 3, Montague Place, years. Has never missed an appointPoplar, on Monday, 11th October ment. Has travelled as far as the last.

circumference of the globe in preachPresent:-Brothers G. Sims (chair), ing the gospel, Has begged for Gully, Carter, Durley, Coman, Wade, Methodism upwards of £300 towards and Chamberlain.

its chapels. He was in a friendly Brother Wade opened the meeting club for twenty years, when it failed. with prayer.

He has had fourteen children, ten of The minutes were read and con- whom lived to adult age. His wife is firmed, and such matters as arose living. He was one of the first memtherefrom were settled.

bers of our association; but has had The monthly statement showed nothing before from it. three new members, and the deaths Letters were read from several of four members and one wife. There local preachers among the Bible were ninety-seven annuitants, and Christians, asking for terms of memfifty-six on sick list. The total re- bership. ceipts from the branches

A letter from Bristol complained of £603 8s. 1d. since the audit, and the some misprints in the report of the payments £523 5s. Od. The total year's subscriptions. balance in hand was £230 13s. 4d. Bro. R. Ward, of Warlingham,

Two bills for printing, and one for Surrey, sent 21s., per Bro. Wade. salary, &c., were ordered to be paid.

Several minor mattters were setLetters were read from Woodstock tled, and the meeting was closed with and Oldham respecting their public prayer by Bro. Durley. meetings in behalf of our funds.

The next meeting will be at Bro. Brother C. H., of A., aged 64, was Bowron's, the President, 14, Churton allowed 3s. a week. He is suffering

Street, Pimlico, on Wednesday, 10th from disease of the brain. Has no November. wife. His children are all away from him. He has no income. The parish

DEATHS. offer him ls. 6d. a week out-door relief.

Feb. 3, 1869. Susanna Springall, Brother R. S., of A., aged 75, was

Sparham, Cawston Circuit, aged 60. allowed 4s. weekly. He is a widower, She died in great peace. Maiden name, with one child grown up and married. S. Knight, of Louth, Lincolnshire. He was supported by a friendly August 21. Hannah Lloyd, of society, which has now failed. He Hinckley Circuit, aged 91. Trusting has no other income.

alone on the merits of the atonement, Brother J. K., of L., aged 66, a

her constant cry was,“ None but Jesus!"

Claim £2. preacher for 35 years, was also allowed 4s. weekly. He was thus des

August 3. William Bircham, of

Cawston Circuit, aged 77. Happy in cribed :—He is a labourer, but totally

the Lord, longing to depart and be with unable to labour. Has a wife more

Christ. Claim £3. afflicted than himself. He has al

August 18. Rain Harker, of Preston ways been at his post according to Circuit, aged 77, His end was peace. the plan.

Claim £6. Brother T. R., of C., aged 72, was Oct. 10. Henry Hurrell, of Sunderalso allowed 4s. a week. This brother land, aged 79. Claim £3.

a

its existence given before the creation of man. But whether we are formed to exceed them in knowledge and enjoyment, I cannot tell. “ It doth not yet appear what we shall be.” God hath made nothing in vain. Year He hath made all things for His glory; more especially angels and men. Judging from the rule of the Divine operations, God does not descend, but ascend, in His creations. If men follow angels in the order and time of creation, it does not seem likely that they are an inferior order of beings. “Know ye not,” says the apostle, “ that we shall judge angels ?" In our fallen condition here, our views and perceptions are necessarily dim and imperfect. As the apostle says, “ Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Cor. xiii. 12.)

Moses said to God, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory. And He said, Thou canst not see My face, for there shall no man see Me and live.” (Ex. xxxiii. 18-20.) “Philip saith unto Him, (Jesus) Show us the

, Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip ? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” (John xiv. 8, 9.) “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." (John i. 18.) The highest state of bliss must consist in seeing God in heaven, as we cannot see Him here on earth. It is impossible for us to conceive how, as finite beings, we shall be able to view the infinite God. This we do know, that our glorious Saviour will be seen clothed in our humanity; and Christ is God: and we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John iii. 2.)

The writer of these short chapters on theology, which have appeared from month to month, has fulfilled, but imperfectly, the task he undertook at the commencement of the year. If his brethren, the younger local preachers, for whom they were especially intended, have learnt anything, or have been stimulated to know more of God and the great scheme of human redemption, his efforts have not been altogether in vain.

[ocr errors]

66

A STUDY OF THE LIFE AND CHARACTER OF CHRIST

FOR MYSELF.

PAPER IV.-JOHN THE BAPTIST. The most important event which immediately preceded the commencement of Christ's work, was the appearance of John the Baptist, preaching the speedy coming of the kingdom of God. This austere prophet was the last and greatest of the long line of divinely-inspired men who had boldly reproved their nation's vices, and clearly uttered its brightest hopes. His birth was deemed worthy of angelic annunciation, and his work worthy of prophetic description. And it was not by human agencies, or under human influences, that he was prepared for his stern mission. Away from the common haunts of men, in the wild solitudes of the desert, he learnt the high

import of his destiny-that he was to prepare the way of the Lord. In the solemn stillness of the wilderness, where no babble of human voices could interfere with the voice of God, as it spoke to his soul, he was fitted for the great work which he had to perform. The desert of Judea abounded with scenes of desolate grandeur ; and amid these his spirit was tempered to sternness, that he might, with unflinching severity, lay the axe at the root of the people's sins. The work of his life was to be a rugged one, and he needed this preparation for it. Fully equipped with power, at length, he came forth, heralding the approach of the kingdom of God. He seems to have burst upon the people with the suddenness and sublimity of a storm. They were startled and deeply stirred; and in crowds they hurried forth to listen to his words. Clad in the rough prophetic garb, and with a voice made bold with divine inspiration, he was, to those who listened to him, a messenger from heaven: his voice was as the voice of God. Men from every class of society-Pharisees and Sadducees, publicans and soldiers—went out to him to receive his baptism at the river Jordan. He did not court this popularity, neither did he reject it. He received it carelessly, as one more intent upon his work than upon himself. He did not meet the proud and corrupt professors and teachers of religion with soft words and unctuous phrases, prophesying unto them smooth things; but, with marvellous boldness, cried, as he saw them approach, “0, generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth, therefore, fruits worthy of repentance; and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” The commonalty, humbled and abashed before him, and, perhaps, alarmed at finding that in the eyes of this prophet their relationship to Abraham was of little importance (for this was one of the principal strongholds of confidence by which they held that they were the possessors of God's peculiar favour), meekly asked, “ What shall we do, then?” He answered, “ He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” Striking at once at the root of their selfishness,—a sin most common, and most easily recognised and felt, -he would awaken penitence, and give them the opportunity of showing immediately the sincerity of their convictions.

A similar test he also gave to the publicans and to the soldiers : to the one class he said, “ Exact no more than that which is appointed you ;" and to the other, “ Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.” In short sentences, sharp and severe as the sword of justice, he laid bare their particular vices, uncovering to their own gaze the deformity of their selfish deeds, that they might feel their sinfulness, and be led to repentance. Not only did he cry, “Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand;" but by direct appeals to their consciences, did he seek to arouse them from the carelessness of fancied safety to a full consciousness of their wrong condition ; that they might

[ocr errors]

a

be prepared to receive the blessings attendant upon the Messiah's coming reign. This was peculiarly the work of John. His work was an essential preliminary to Christ's. It was a “baptism of repentance” preceding a baptism of the Holy Ghost. Every upward step of spiritual experience is taken, whether in an individual or in a community, with tears over the past. A painful consciousness of having been wrong must precede the acceptance of a new era of the right. Repentance must ever precede the reception of the reign of Christ. It is so now. It was so then. John was sent to accomplish this necessary preparation in the inner life of the people, as the angel declared of him, “ And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just: to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

John fully understood the subordinate nature of his work. He said, “I am not the Christ.” “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.” Only

voice- -a startling voice to arouse and awaken now, but which shall die away, and be forgotten amid the exultant acclamations that shall attend the triumphant progress of the approaching King, or be recollected only as a distant memory of a disturbing cry, which passed away amid the harmony of joyful voices. His great soul was not disturbed with envy. He comprehended his position, and was satisfied with it. When some of his disciples came to him with the news of Christ's popularity, themselves somewhat surprised and, perhaps, somewhat displeased with it, he said, “ A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy, therefore, is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” John knew that his own influence would wane now before the waxing greatness of Christ's. And he was quite willing that it should be so. Quite willing that he himself, the morning star of the Christian age, should lose his lustre, and be eclipsed by the rising glory and increasing brightness of its sun.

But John not only prepared the people for Christ's coming; he also bore personal testimony to Christ, as the Messiah. ". The same came for a witness to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.” And Christ himself reminded the Jews that John had testified to His Messiahship, saying, “ There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.” And it is very strange that this testimony of John was not more fully recognised and accepted; for he possessed the complete confidence of the people: all held John to be a prophet. Josephus says, that “ So great was his influence

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

with the Jews, that they seemed to do anything he advised;" and yet his attestations to Christ's work were not heeded. This is not inexplicable. It may be explained, partly, by the fact that John's advice, in this instance, was entirely opposed to the prejudices of the people, and partly by John himself failing to comprehend the real purport of Christ's mission. Probably he expected, with the rest of his countrymen, that Christ would work out a national deliverance; and finding that he did not assume that kingship which the people were ready to acknowledge, and appear to deliver him from the power of Herod, his active spirit became chafed and restless with the confinement of the dungeon; and growing impatient for release, he lost faith for a time in the certainty of his own testimony. This wavering of faith in John would cause the faith of many to waver, and would tend to spoil the effect of previous attestations, however clearly they had been given. A deed done in an hour of doubt will often mar the effect of many days of faithful work. So potent for evil is unbelief. However, John did bear a clear and unmistakable testimony to Christ as the Son of God.

Among the multitude that came to his baptism, undistinguished from them by any sign visible to ordinary eyes, was The Hope of Israel.Nothing more was He than an humble peasant the crowd that jostled him; entirely unconscious were they that He of whom their prophets had written, and upon whom their expectations were really fixed, was standing in their midst. There was one standing among them whom they knew not; but John recognised Him. God had given a sign whereby he might know Him. And pointing Him out to the people, he exclaimed, “ Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me; for He was before me. And I knew Him not; but that He should be made manifest unto Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water." Jesus approached to be baptized. John hesitated to perform this rite upon Him, humbly saying, "I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?But Jesus persisted in His desire that it should be done, replying, “Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.' And it was done. Jesus would connect Himself with humanity in its hour of penitence. He did not need this baptism of repentance for Himself, as He had known no sin; but as He came to be the Redeemer of the race from the power of evil, to stand in man's position, and to bear man’s iniquity, He connected Himself with sin here working the rightful sorrow of repentance. Thus would He fulfil all righteousness: associating himself with man in all the right developments of his spiritual life, He would show His sympathy with man in his struggles with evil; and, in that way, present Himself more fully to man as his Redeemer. A special manifestation of divine favour accompanied this act. The heavens were opened unto Him; the Spirit, like a dove, descended and rested upon Him; and a voice was heard proclaiming,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »