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SUNDAY SCHOOL ADDRESS.
“ Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.” Let us take each word separately.
1. Behold! We all know what that means. When we are asked to behold anything, it is to look at it. How often do we see persons beholding many things that are not worth noticing. Here we are told to behold! But what? Is it worth our attention? We shall see as we proceed.
II. I! This is whom we have to behold. Who is it? Let us enquire into the matter, and see if we can find, whether or not, the subject is worth our notice. Undoubtedly, it means Christ. He who was born at Bethlehem, in a manger, and to whom we find wise men of the East doing homage. Look into His life a little. We behold him at twelve years old in the Temple, hearing and asking the doctors questions, who were surprised at him and his answers, as well they might be. He, whom we find at the grave of Lazarus, and bidding him arise from the silent tomb. He, who as he passes by the city of Nain, beholds the widow, and makes her heart leap for joy by bringing her son back again to life. We find Him also, in his daily life, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, making the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk. Then, after all, we behold Him enduring the wrath and malice of His enemies, who thirst for His blood, and are crying out,—“Away with Him! away with Him.” “Crucify Him ! crucify Him." Then we behold Him nailed to the accursed tree-the rocks rending—the dead risingand darkness over all the land for three hours : and after this, third, the appointed day,” we behold Him rising conqueror over death and the tomb. Thus proving that He was the Son of God, and that the grand scheme of redemption was once and for ever complete. This is He, who stands at the door and knocks for admission.
III. Stand! It does not say, “Behold, I sit at the door and knock," but stand! This implies that He will not always be there. Standing is not an attitude of rest. Whenever you see a person standing, you make up your mind that he will shortly remove from
So here Christ is represented, or rather represents Himself, as standing, as though He would not always be found there.
IV. At! A little word, but an important one. Christ does not say, “I stand in the door," but at the door; implying, waiting for an entrance,-not thrusting himself in, but leaving it to the person to admit him. Just like a friend going to the house of another and waiting at the door for admission.
V. The ! Another little word, but of more importance perhaps,
than the former. It does not say, at a door, but the door; your door, my door; at each individual sinner's heart. Religion is a personal thing, and as such Christ treats it, and comes to every sinner's heart and asks for admission.
VI. Door! If a person is going on a visit to a friend, at what part of the house does he knock for admission ? Does he go to the wall or window and knock? Certainly not. Common sense tells him to go to the door and knock. Why? Just because that is the entrance to the house. So Christ knocks at the door, as that is the entrance to the heart of man.
VII. And! Very little words are often very important in a sentence. Undoubtedly this " and” is. Christ here represents himself as doing something else besides standing. You see a person standing at yonder door. If he was merely to stand there, do you think he would gain admission? How would the people inside know that there was anyone waiting at the door? No; common sense tells him he must do something besides standing. What! we shall see under our next head.
VIII. Knock! This is what a person does besides standing at the door. He knocks. Then he gains admission. So Christ does the same thing. He stands at the door and knocks. How? In various ways—by His word, works and ways. By all these, He knocks for admission into our hearts. Sometimes he lays affliction upon us, and thus reminds us that this is not our rest. Sometimes He takes away our dearest relatives, and thus says, “Prepare to meet thy God.” In His works we can learn many a useful lesson : see in Autumn, the leaves falling to the ground, an emblem of the frailty of human life. Look into His word and there read the warnings and encouragement it contains. He knocks also, by our privileges; the means of grace by which we are favoured from time to time; and by a thousand different ways He is seeking to draw our hearts to himself, so that we may be happy, both in this life and that which is to come. Then ponder over the subject ; seek to have “ Christ in you—the hope of glory; and then, after feeling the debt of gratitude you owe to Him, go and do good to those around you. We are put into this world to get good and to do good. “Then let us buckle on the whole armour of God, fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life."
There, right before our Saviour,
From “ The Rock."
Books have prodigious power. I had a young friend once, whose early years were passed under decided religious influences, he was endowed with unusual strength.of mind, and at a very early period of his life, became distinguished as a public man. Few memorials in the quiet seclusion of Mount Auburn, mark the resting place of one more respected for learning and integrity. He had been an observer of the devoted piety, and triumphant death of a Christian friend, whose hope of salvation had no basis but the blood and righteousness of Christ, and his own views until he reached maturity were settled, (at least speculatively), upon the same foundation. But a printed sermon by a distinguished preacher of a radically different faith, was put into his hands, and with the help of peculiar personal associations, changed at once the whole current of his views, and persuaded him to adopt a system of belief, in which Christ and his cross occupy a very subordinate place, if recognised at all. I do not cite this case to encourage a blind adherence to one set of opinions, however hoary with age, and fortified by venerable names, or by the authority of powerful sects, but to illustrate the influence of a book over a strong mind, and long settled convictions. If we could trace the means which have contributed to form our present views to three principal external sources, viz. : what we have seen, what we have heard, and what we have read, we should probably find the last by no means the least active or fertile. A book is a silent but most intimate companion; it does not ask attention, nor take offence at neglect; its name and dress give us no certain clue to its character; the opinions of others as to its value may be the result of prejudice or ignorance. We are told that to know what it is, we must read it, and to read it is to subject ourselves to its influence for better or worse. Prudent travellers in public conveyances, or sojourners at hotels, are very careful what intercourse they encourage, or allow strangers to have with them, for a pickpocket is not always distinguishable by dress or manners from an honest gentleman; but how much more vigilant should we be to preserve the mind and heart from contact with what may pollute or pervert, than to protect our purse or watch from light-fingers! When you take up a book to read, of the character of which you are wholly unapprised, is your presumption less than when you admit to your confidence one to whose principles and motives you are a stranger ? It might indeed, be easier to throw the book aside than to discard the treacherous friend; but on the other hand, the former may conceal the poisonous fang till the fatal wound is made ; while the latter by his tone and manner will be very likely to betray his character in season to defeat his evil purpose.
The art of introducing false or equivocal principle into the public lecture, the newspaper paragraph, or the book, in company with incontrovertible truths, has been brought to great perfection in our day; it is not always, perhaps not generally, an intentional fraud upon the hearer or reader. The author's or lecturer's mind may have been perverted; or truth and error may be so uncertainly comprehended as to be mistaken the one for the other ; but however ample such an apology may be for writing a bad book, it does not cover our imprudence, not to say folly, in reading it. Magazines, pamphlets, and newspapers, are the sluices through which every production of the human brain, that can be shaped in type metal, passes into the reading world. There is no principle so corrupt, no sentiment so false, no ribaldry so base, no jest so profane or obscene, that it has been denied an imprint. And what is particularly to be noted, the brighest wit, and the most sparkling popular style, are found in close alliance with some of the grossest forms of error. If marriage, the most sacred of all human relations, on which the chief interest of civilization and social virtue and progress rest, and to which woman owes her elevation above the condition of abject slaves; if marriage is to be assailed as a factitious rite, to be modified or entirely dispensed with as the parties concerned may choose, some glib romancer is at hand to prepare a flashy tale, or magazine story in which the sacred bond which the hand of God hath woven is rejected as a superfluous obligation, or an impertinent imposition on natural liberty, and a hundred thousand copies are afloat in a week, and largely in the hands of those who are least on their guard, and most easily deluded by meretricious reasoning
Direct and open assaults on the Christian faith are rare in our day. Its principles commend themselves so generally to the wise and good, and are so obviously necessary to the well-being of society, that it requires no little boldness to impugn them; and besides, there is a way of sapping their foundations which has become quite common, and while it is much more effective, it excites no odium and very little resistance. Those who are unaware of the Protean shapes assumed by the subtle supplanters of our faith, are very likely to find themselves in the midst of a plausible argument against some cardinal doctrine of the Bible, before they suspect their proximity to danger.
A popular story is advertized, we will suppose, under the title of “ The Forest of Glenburne," a Tale of the Reformation. It is puffed into public notice, as any thing may be by sufficient effort, and is soon making its influence felt on thousands of minds. It is written with signal ability, a vein of historical truth runs through it, and the incidents are selected and wrought into the story with consummate skill and tact, giving it all the vividness of a present reality. The principal parties neither say nor do what is not perfectly proper and orthodox; we are enchanted by their purity, love of truth, intelligence, charity, and social virtues.
A conversation springs up between them respecting a notable church dignitary, named Cranmer ; some of his acts and opinions are the theme of much public discussion and controversy, and it is quite natural that the subject should be introduced into private circles. If Archbishop Cranmer be an intelligent and sensible godly man, competent to decide questions of faith and duty; if he conscientiously abide by the truth when error is in the ascendant, and encounter the terrors of persecution and death with a stout heart and steady faith ; his example and authority will be of great weight. His rebuke of the mummeries and superstitions of a corrupt religion will be felt, and neither arts, arguments, nor threats will avail against the powers of truth so illustriously vindicated, even at the stake. But now, suppose we put in array the attractions which Popery presents to the corrupt hearts of men, its claims to exclusive authority and infallibility, the imposing ceremonies of its ritual, its appeals to sense rather than to faith, and the coincidence of its whole genius and spirit with the gross conceptions of ignorance and superstition. And suppose further, that one of the intelligent and interesting parties to whom we just now referred is disposed to think well of Popery, and would fain bring his fair companion to embrace his view; to further his object, the good old Archbishop Cranmer is brought forward, and though treated with great deference as one of the lights of the church and a pillar of the reformed faith, yet arguments and opinions are put into his lips, which are too shallow for a school boy to use. The effects are what might be anticipated. " If the defences of the new faith be so weak as all that,” says the too willing convert, “ If that be all such a great and good man can make of them, it will certainly be safer for me to embrace that which claims to be primitive and infallible ;" and the crucifix and beads are eagerly grasped. Or perhaps certain religious doctrines are in vogue which are not relished by persons of taste and independent opinion. Opposers make little or no head against them by the ordinary methods of evidence and arguments, and so they