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lower the minister to the level of the lay evangelist, Sunday school teacher, and Scripture-reader!!" And if this be the tendency of the system, what can be expected from its institutions? No one knows better than Mr. Kirkus that the best antidote to "popery" of all kinds is an effective lay agency to support and sustain ministerial work; and, therefore, loving autocracy, he hates the democratic element even in its mildest forms. But there is a moral as well as an official autocracy, and Mr. Kirkus does not need to be told (however unpalatable the truth may be) that when the minister is the "best man," morally and spiritually, as well as intellectually, in the little community over which he presides, he has nothing to fear from the multiplication of lay helpers. St. Paul felt no petty jealousy towards those who laboured with him in the Gospel, nor did he need to "magnify his office" by factitious dressings which only impose upon the thoughtless and ignorant. But when men, whether clerical or otherwise, have not learned, as Paul had, to rule their spirits and their tongues, no amount of bluster or denunciation will enable them to rule their fellows.
Christian ministers set too high a value upon their Sunday schools to take alarm at a little would-be-priestly clap-trap; and the Sunday School Union has been too long before the religious world to suffer from any adjectives which may be tagged on to its time-honoured name. Its work, unlike Mr. Kirkus's, has not been done in a corner i and upon its work its character may safely rest.
The cuckoo-cry of "want of education" on the part of teachers, is growing less applicable every year, thanks to the influence of such "anti-clerical" organisations as the Sunday School Union, and of those Christian pastors who, instead of taking fright at the prospect of being degraded to the level of their lay brethren, help them to raise themselves to a nearer equality with those who are "over them in the Lord." Much yet remains to be done; but every year sees some good progress made, and a priestly and supercilious "Procul este, profani," will neither improve the teachers who stand in need of improvement, nor increase the true dignity and importance of those who utter it.
In meet accordance with Mr. Kirkus's horror of the lay and democratic, is his horror of the cheap and popular. With him, cheapness is a synonym for vulgarity; though he need not look far to find a publication which is vulgar without being cheap. Most persons would consider that "cheapness" and "smallness" are of themselves advantages in religious or other periodicals designed to circulate among the young. But Mr. Kirkus discovers in them little else than "twaddle" and "irreverence." Perhaps on sober
reflection he may also be led to see that such "twaddling" and "irreverent" writers "in the small fry of religious periodicals," whoever they happen to be, may now fairly claim priestly precedents for both qualities. What do our readers say to the following, from the pen of a writer whose bump of veneration is so largely developed?
"What would have become of mankind if the world had not been constructed in anticipation of the fall, it is truly distressing to contemplate. Though it would have been entirely unnecessary on the original plan of the world, the centre of our globe is filled with liquid fire; in this fire all the elements will be melted, and the old world boiled young again. Then will emerge the second Eden: the waves of the sea will no more beat against the shore, thistles will be exterminated, carnivorous animals will refuse everything but hay, and cats will fondle mice without any sneaking intentions to devour them; the trees will never cast their leaves; dog roses will make room for standards; there will be no more pain, peril, or potato blight."
Probably the foregoing samples of the reverend Essayist's taste and temper will suffice. We therefore, as a parting word, com. mend to his careful attention the rule of controversy which he so solemnly enjoins upon all his readers-italics, capitals, and all— "Never affirm what you know to be false; never affirm what you do not KNOW to be true." B. C. M.
"We also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses."-Heb. xii. 1. How wonderful this statement in relation to our position as servants or sufferers! Can it be that you and I, dear fellow-pilgrim, in our little "loop-holes of retreat," are the objects of interested watching, not only to our God, whose eyes are in every place, but to a vast multitude, such as time would fail an apostle "to tell of?" We are assured that such is the case. Paul said of himself and his companions in tribulation, that they were made "a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men." And here we find him extending this statement to the circumstances of every Christian "racer."
Since then our course is the subject of remark to a class of persons whom we do not see, we may well be desirous to know who they are, and what kind of remarks they are likely to make.
Looking back to the eleventh chapter, we see that the Apostle is referring to those who have gone before us in the pathway of promise; who died in faith; who are living now in faith; who wait until we, their followers, shall be "made perfect" with them.
1. They have gone before us in the pathway of promise, fathers trusted." We are not the first who have built their hopes, and shaped their course by the Word of God; we are not the first who have gone forth" not knowing whither;" we are not the first who have encountered disappointments, endured trials, persevered through difficulties, "confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth," earnestly desiring "a better country." Nay, the path is well trodden; "these all" have gone the same way to rest. And as they look down on us, struggling far behind, do we not seem to hear them say "courage, dear friends! you are on the right road?"
2. They "died in faith." The promised good was not realized to the full on earth; not one had received it when called away. But they yielded not their trust in the hour of death, it accompanied them into the unseen world. Speak they not to us, beloved? "Take heed lest you limit the faithful Promiser to your own time; nor think the blessing comes too late, if you see it not through the dim glass of earthly vision." Perhaps many of the prayers we now found on the promise of God, may not be evidently answered ere we die; if so, let the thought of this great cloud of witnesses, who "all died in faith, keep our trust buoyant and strong."
3. They live now in faith. A little light is here thrown upon the present state of those "not lost, but gone before." With them faith is still in exercise, not yet turned to sight; they are still expecting" some better thing." But the happiness of that state is, that faith is now unmixed with unbelief; it is not contending with sense, not maintaining a struggle of grace against nature, but faith calm, triumphant, God-glorifying. And do not those believers on the other side of Jordan encourage us to trust on, trust ever?
4. They are waiting until we who follow after shall be "made perfect" with them. No wonder they are such interested spectators of our progress! Their own share of the promise cannot be fully realized until we join their ranks; until God's elect shall be gathered from the four winds, their discipline ended, their course. fulfilled, and they all prepared to be glorified together with Christ Jesus. And oh, we think they must often be saying to us, on their own account, as well as ours,
"Haste ye on from grace to glory,
Armed by faith, and winged by prayer;
Heaven's eternal gates before you,
God's own hand shall guide you there!"
Yes, we are "compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses," who all testify that He is faithful who hath promised.
HERE AND THERE.
GRACIOUS Saviour, for my change
Nothing painful, nothing strange,
Living, thou dost dwell with me—
Here my soul doth find her joy
There thou canst her powers employ
For thy glory still;
Matters little where I move,
Serve below, or sing above!
Here Thy presence makes my home
There, when to thy house I come,
Here, the weal of friends around
Oft my thoughts doth fill; There on higher, holier ground, I shall love them still; Loving more, as more I see,
How their souls are loved by Thee!
Here, a little rising cloud
Sometimes clothes with dread
That last hour when dear ones crowd
Round my dying bed;
There the parting comes no more,
Only greetings are in store!
Gracious Saviour, during life
All my strength and stay! Oh, in nature's final strife, Let me hear Thee say:
Living, I have dwelt with thee— "Dying, thou shalt live with me!"
EXPOSITORY NOTES ON SCRIPTURE LESSONS.
For Repetition.-Matt. Ix. 28-30. Reading Lesson.-Matt. IX. 27-38. In the whole history of Christ we see his compassion, but in the lesson, three illustrations of it require attention.
As Jesus was leaving the house of the ruler, two blind men, probably begging by the wayside, heard who he was. They had heard much of his wonderful deeds, especially of what he had just done in the ruler's house; and without hesitation they followed him with incessant cries, to awaken his compassion to themselves,
They accosted him as the Messiah, having learned from prophecy something of the Messiah's benevolence and power. Into the house, therefore, they pressed, urging their suit. Their addressing him as the Son of David was remarkable, since up to this time nobody had so addressed him.
He did not at once attend to their cry; and when he did, it must first be shown that they really had the faith which their address betokened. The question, ver. 28, indicated the compassion of the Saviour, inasmuch as it showed that he was not thinking exclusively of their physical malady. He pitied their spiritual condition. If they believed in him, not only would their bodily sight be restored, spiritual sight would also be given. They would know Christ, have his salvation, and rejoice in him.
It is observable that the Saviour put the success of their cure upon the reality of their professed faith. It was well for them that they had dealt truly with Jesus. If they had not really believed, their blindness would have remained.
And the thing believed was that Christ could cure them. Compare this question of Christ's with the apostle's language about the miracle they wrought, Acts iii. 12, 16. Application for Christ's mercy must be earnest, persevering, believing. He is gracious to all who thus seek his mercy. His compassion, like his power, knows no bounds.
Secondly. THE DUMB MAN.
There was much in the case of the dumb man possessed with a devil, to excite compassion. His dumbness was the effect of his being possessed. He had in all probability been able to talk before the demon entered into him. The power which deprived him of speech kept him from everything else useful or happy.