Thomas Carlyle.

The Christian treasury, Volume 2 online

. (page 123 of 145)
Online LibraryThomas CarlyleThe Christian treasury, Volume 2 → online text (page 123 of 145)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


perversely of the ways of God in giving such an ex-j
ample of his truth; but with all that, he 8aid,theT;
were only evincing the ignorance of the natural mind,
which knows not the things of the Spirit, nay, regirdc'
them as foolishness. ,

While warning his friends, one of them took occa-
sion from his words to say that that was not the lan-
guage of a reprobate. Spira immediately replied,
** I only imitate the rich Epicure, who, though him-1
self in hell, was anxious that Ids brethren should
escape from torment** While justifying the deal-
ings of God toward him, that also was pointed out af
a token for good; but the reply was ready ; " Judas,
after betraying his Master, was obliged to own hit
sin, and justify the innocence of Christ; and if 1 dc
the same, it is neither new nor singular.** Towardj
the close of his life, he addressed some young men ir
most solemn and instructive terms, warning then
from his case to beware of a religion of form, or ol
making faith their saviour. He spoke of the merit:
of Christ as ** a strong rampart against the wrath ol
God;** but added that ke had *' demolished thatbul
wark with his own hands,** and was now overwhehnet
by the deluge. He urged those around him to beware
of being ** almost Christians,** as he had been, and
thai broke out into vehement emotion indicative of his
strong internal agony. ** Give me a 0w<»d,** he el-
claimed. ** Why ? whatuse will yon make of it ?** ^ 1
cannot tell,** he r^'oined, " to what act my feelings
may carry me, nw what I may da** He subsequently
dedared to Vergerio, when his friends began to take
leave of him, ** that he felt his heart full of cfartang,
hatred, and blasphemy against God,** instead of be-
ing softenedfby the prospect of being left alone; sod
on the following day, he attempted self-destructiop,
without success. For eight weeks did he continue ut
this lamentable state, refusing nourishment, exo^^
as it was forced on him, and gradually becoming
emaciated and haggard. He was constantly in dread,
not of death, but of life; became by degrees his own



Digitized by VjOOQIC



THE DELAYING MOTHER.



523



ezecatioDer; pined AWftj amid grief «nd hoiror; and
: died booh afier retorning tohi9 own house from Padua
— a melancholy monument of the effects of unsted-
fastnessin the faith, and the £»tal results of that fear
of man which bringeth a snare.

It is not our province to pronounoe any opinion on
the state of Spira beyond the gi^ve-^is destinies
are with the Lord, and we neither speculfite nor dog-
matize. Let UM, howeyer, just indicate the lessons to
which his mournful history points us :—

See the effects of apostesy in the chufing misery
of Spirals souL

I See the power of God*i l&w, when the Gospel is
turned from or misunderstood.
I See what mankind would, sooner or later, have
been, had there been no Days-man, Xio Mediator be
tween God (tnd man.

I See the tremendous power of ft roused conscience,
when only irritated by a sense of wrath, not cleansed
by the blood of sprinkling.

' See the peril of the almost Christian— the nion
who is a follower of Christ only with the under-
standing, not with a renewed heart

See an appalling insiAnoe of the effects of ynlful
sin.

i See the need of grace to sustain at all times, but
specially when persecution arises because of the
truth.

See the danger of philosophizing, as Spira vainly
did, in the school of Christ— -the origin, Cfdrin sup-
posed, of his vrretched faU.

See the worthlessness of human me^ns to relieve
the conscience without the blessing of the Holy Spirit,

See the fearful coniequences of abandoning the
truth to embrace Popery. Spira has been called a
Popish nuirtyr. His apostasy led to Vtrgerio's con-
version.

] We conclude in the words of Calvin, regarding this
apostate^ case. ** May the Lord Jesus confirm our
hearts in the full and sincere belief of his own Gos-
pel, and keep our tongues in the uniform confession
of him, that as we now join in one song with angels,
'we may at length enjoy, together with them, the
blessed delights of the heavenly kingdom !'* Such a
.prayer is not unneeded in a dsy when apostasy to
I Rome is rife. Again we say, *' Let him that thinkcth
he standeth take heed lest he fall*'



THK PARADOX.

How strange is the course that the Christiftn must
steer!

How perplexed is the path he must tread!
The hope of his happiness rises firom feaf ,

And his life he receives firom the Djuo.

His fairest pretensions must wholly be waived.

And his best resolutions be crossed;
Nor can he expect to be perfectly sared

Till he finds himself utterly lost

When an this-is done, and his conscience secured

Of the total remission of sins;
When his pardon is signed, and his peace is procored,

From that moment the conflict begins.



THE DELAYING MOTHER.
A KINO mother may sometimes hare just occasion
for deep regret at delays which most intimately con-
cern the welfare of her children in this world and in
the world to come.

A child was observed to be very languid and fever-
ish. The parents agreed that he ought to have a
dose of medicine ; but the child was averse to take it ;
a neighbour called in, and the mother was diverted
at the moment that she ought to have given it him.
She consoled herself with thinking that she would
give it him the first thing in the morning, and that
would make rery little difference. It was given
to him, but it did no good; another morning came,
and the child was much worse. Then it was agreed
to send for the doctor, and the servant was told
to go directly, fts the doctor was in the habit of
leaving home at ten o^clock, and not returning for \
several hours. She received the order; but, thinking
that a few minutes could not make much difference,
she dehiyed till the time was past; it was only a few
minutes: but the doctor was as remarkable for punc-
tuality as the famOy to which he was summoned was
for procrastination; he had left home, and was gone
several miles to risit his patients. Some hours
elapsed before his return; he then hastened to the
bed-side of the sick child, but his efforts were too
late: « fatal disease had laid hold on the frame,
which, in all probability, might have been checked
by timely application.

Calling at the house of one of his friends, the
minister found them in the deepest distress, having
suddenly lost their only child. He attempted to
console the distracted parents; but the mother re-
plied, <* Ah, sir, these consolations might assuage my
grief for the loss of my child, but they cannot blunt
the stings of my conscience, which are as dnggers in
my heart. It was but last week I was thinking,
* My child is now twelve years of age; his mind is
rapidly expanding; I know he thinks and feels be-
yond the measure of his years, i^nd a foolish back-
wardness has hitherto kept me from entering so
closely into conversation with him as to discover the
real state of his mind, and to m^e a rigorous effort
to lead his heart to God.* I then resolved to seize
the first opportunity to discharge a duty so weighty
on the conscience of a Christian parent; but (\».y
after day my foolish, deceitful heart said, * I will do
it tormorrow.* On the very day that he was taken
ill, I had resolved to talk to him that evening; and
when he at first complained of his head, I vras half-
pleased with the thought that this might incline him
to listen more seriously to what I should say. But
oh, sir, his pain and fever increased so rapidly th*it I
was obliged to put him immediately to bed ; ^nd, w
he seemed faiclined to doze, I was glad to leave him
to rest From that time he was never sufficiently
sensible for conversation; and now he is gone into
eternity, and has left me distracted with anxiety
concerning the salvation of his precious soul ! Dila-
tory wretch I had it not been for my own sin I migitt
now have been consoling myself with the satisfactory



Digitized by VjOOQIC



524



THE CHRISTIAN TREASURY.



conviction of having discharged the duty of a Chris-
tian parent, and enjoying the delightful assurance of
meeting my child before the throne of God and the
Lamb. Oh, the cursed sin of procrastination ! Oh,
the ruinous delusion tliat lurks in the word to-



THE DELAYING SABBATH SCHOOL

TEACHER.

One Sabbath evening, on looking over the roll

of my class, I found that, among others, the

name of Ann had to be marked as among

the absentees. I took a note of it on my visit-
ing list, intending to call during the week ac-
cording to custom; but afterwanls, as the girl's
house was a tery little out of my way, and not
being in a visiting mood, I thought there could
be no great harm in delaying a week; besides,
it occurred to me that good reasons could fre-
quently be given for uon-attendance, and it
was likely she would be there on the succeed-
ing Sabbath, as she was so regular in her atten-
dance. With these, and like excuses, I lulled
my Sabbath teacher*s conscience asleep.

The Sabbath returned again, and being pre-
pared for its evening duties, I found myself
once more in tiie school with my children
around me; and though feeling a UuU^ a ^oery

liul€, uneasiness on seing that Ann was

still absent, it soon wore off, and was forgotten
in the excitement of teaching.

The lessons were concluded, and we were
*ust about to engage in praise before dismission,
when a neighbouring teacher stepped across the
floor to me, and said very seriously —

*' Have you a girl in your class of the name
of Ann !"

"Yes; what of that I"

** I have something to tell you about her,"
said he, hesitating.

<" What is it? what is the matter!" said I,
with a presentiment of there being something
wrong.

''Sheisdead!"

•Dead!"

"Yes; she died four days ago. She was
buried yesterday. Her brother is in my class,
md brought word last Sabbath that she was ill
wd wished to see you, but I forgot to tell."

" Oh I if you had only told me — I wish you
lad told me.*'

" I am very, very sorry I did not."

"My heart sank within me — I could not
peak. Dead I— gone from this world for ever;
;one from any power or means I could use. Is
he saved or lost ! — a sinner in hell or a saint
a glory ! Dead I and I not at her death-bed.
lave I done my duty to her ! have I done all

could! Alas! alas I my conscience, now
ally aroused, told me I had not. There was
o want of time on my part— it was inelination.

felt I ought to have called at once, and then
vme opportunity would have been afforded me
f smoothing the pillow, and speaking peace



and comfort to my dying scholar. But now it
was too late ! The thought was bitter anguish,
I knew my duty, but I did it not.

I could not call on the mourning parents that
evening, but next day took the first opportu-
nity of doing so. I knocked gently at the door
— it was opened, and I went in, but found only
the mother and two or three of the younger
children present. For a few minutes nothing
was said. At last I spoke.

" So Ann has gone to her rest."

" Yes, sir; she is gone."

''How did she die!"

"We don't know, sir; we hope she is in
heaven."

" Had she much pain }"

" Vera little; she just sleepit awa. "

" Was she happy in her mind ! "

" We hope sae. She could speak but little,
and was vera dull o' hearing for three days be-
fore her death, and when we had anythiug to
say, we had to cry vera loud, and could lumlly
make her understand."

" I am very sorry I was not here to see her.**

*^ Ay, we thought you might have come," said
the mother reproachfully; — *' we sent you word,
but you didna come. Puir thing I Annie was
fond o' the Sabbath class, and would not stay
away, wet or dry" — and she burst into tears.

I explained as well as I could why I had not
come when sent for, but could not excuse myedf.
Time — ^means— opportunity — I had neglected,
themaU. \

After some further conversation on the state
of mind, and death, of my scholar, and aiter '
trying to turn the mind of the mother to the
rich consolations of the Grospel, I ended my sad
visit.

And now, why do I write this ! It is to urge
on my fellow-teachers earnestly, most eamesUyy
to call on absentees the very first spare time
they have — if possible, the next day — and never
to let light excuses induce them to defer doing
so. It is well to visit all scholars, but the
absentees to hold the first place. Visiting is a
check to the wandering and careless; and where
illness is the cause of absence, the sick or death
bed affords opportunities of pressing home the
truths of the everlasting Gospel that are not
lightly to be neglected; and by proper and
prompt visiting of these absentees, not only
will the attendcmce of a class be better kept
up, but Sabbath teachers would never have in
this respect cause to lament, as I do, a negUa^
opfortunUy.-^SeoUitk Sabbath SchoU TeackenT
Magazine,



A PASTOR'S TROUBLES.

1. It troubles him, that his own emotions are *not
more deep and fervent in riew of the glorious doc-
trines of the Scriptures. Those doctrines do some-
times rise up before him, as the result of great
pantings after God, in inexpressible sublimity and
glory. The veil seems a little removed, so that xadi-



Digitized by VjOOQIC



80CINIAN8, QUAKEAd, PAPISTS, ^ND THE BIBLE.



6*25.



ance tnough gleams forth to show that eye hath not
teen as Tet, nor ear heard, the immensity of the good
involved in the great facts of redeeming Ioto. But
these are only flashes of the heavenly light, and he
has to reproach himself with the reflection that, were
his soal m the moral state it might be, and ought to
be, these tranrient gleams might be the ttea^ bright-
ness of as unckmd^ sun.

2. It troablss hkn that, while there lies before him
a sermon he has just completed, he is conscious that
the truth it contains has not gone further into the
depths of his soul, and that it has not been a greater
apmtual adrantage to himself, that he has prepared
another repast tor his people.

3. It troubles him when the Sabbath serrioes are
over, that, interested though he may have been, he
has not done full honour to the glorious truths he has
delivered by the deep responses of his own soul to
their amazing yalne.

4. It trooUes-hhn that, wh3e he looks around upon
the people of his charge, he beholds so many unmoved
b^ his miniitrmtieiis, and camioi but veason that, had
his ministerial course been one of more glowing love,
and stronger fintk. and mure ardent leaT, these aliens
might hare been liviflg stones in the spiritual temple

5. It troubles him to ponder the deficiencies of his
own piety, while be reflects, that had his own per-
sonal example been one of higher eonfomrity to the
spotless ehvacter of his Lord, the disciples about him
Iwould hare fslt the ebwing radiance of it, and the
moral verdure of thdr hearts would have buitt fbiih
in vastly greater luxuriance and beanty.

6. He m often troubled by the thought that per-
haps he has mistaken light for love, intellectual ex-
citement bv truth for the holy emotions it should
inspire, and thai his- ministerial labcvrs, through the
fiUse motives that inspired them, shalT but add ^per
gloom to the drapery thai shall hang about the prison
of his eternal despair.

Here are a few of the trouble»of a iaithAil pastor.
They are not morbid imaginings and groundless fan-
cies. They are serious, stein, sometimes terriUe
realities. At not long intervals they cover the sky
with threatening clouds, and sometimes they gather
such c^oom over it, that not a solitary star gMttei» in
the darkened firmament I Disciple, these are sor-
rows of the pasterns heart that do not belong to-your
history, but they set up many a monument of saoiess
in his. These sorrows grow out of that sacred pro-
fession he has entered for your sakorand the weHaM
of others. Shall not these few items, a very few
among many— shall they not make a promptly an-
swered appeal to your lympathiee, and in behalf of
your prayers f ** Brethien, pray for ua**



THERE ARE NO GRAVES THERE!



Latb in the afternoon of a beantifal smnmer day, I
entered a quiet grave-yard, where slept one of my
dearest fHends. It oconpied the brow of a hill,
which, with many a knoll and graceful uadulation,
sloped to the green meadow, watered by a winding
stream, now eatching at its repeated curves the rays
of the setting sun. On the left was a pleasant wood,
, where the sturdy pine and fruit-bearing beech con-
cealed narrow paths to cool caves and mossy banks.
White birches and the tremulous aspen, with the
sweet-scented willow, grew upon the right, and, from
beyond, rose the eurHng smoke from the cottage
homes. A robin sang its song of love and praise; a



sparrow passed me, bearing food to its little progeny;
awi the chirp of the merry grasshopper mingled with
the ham of hundreds of flitting insects.

But for this peace-breathing secne I had no greet-
ing. The wild storm, thunder, and ndn, and dark-
ness, had seemed fitr more welcome; and, yielding
ntterly to my grief, I threw myself upon the sod.
I toek no heed of time, but many minotes must have
passed, when a child approached me. She looked on
me tenderly for an instant, and then said earnestly,
looking upvrard, •* There are no graves there /^

There was something almost seraphic in the eoun
tenanoe of the child, a power not of earth in her
qnick and nndoubting faith. My eye sought the
blue depths toward which she pointed; my heart
bounded toward the Infinite. AH the representations
of the Gospel, adapted as they are to soootbe and
sheer,, came to me so vivid, so truthful, sa fbll of
meaning, that they absorbed my whole sooL The
abundant promises seemed to glow vrith l^e haee of
that heaven from whence they came, I pereeived
the selfishness of my sorrow, and kneeling, I* thanked
God that he had transferred my loved one te himself.

Often since then have I looked upon thrresting-
plaoes of my kindred— often has there come over me
a. sense of utter and hopeless desolation—oftett has
an agpny Hke that of death turned to bittoness the
continued blessings of my lot; yet; when the first
burst of grief has passed, I hear again the soul-
eheering assurance, ** There are no^gram ihere/^'*

80CINIANS, QUAKERS,.PAPISTS, AND THE
BIBLE.

AiiL error dreads the light of the Word, and fears
more to be examined by that than a thief does to be
tried belbre a strict iudge. Unfold them, or bring
them and the Word tace to face, andy like Cain, they
hang down their head— they are put to shame. Thu
b the only certain ordeal to tir suspected opinions at
If thev can walk upon this fiery law unhurt, imre-
proved, they may safelv pass for truths, and jioim else.
Paul t«ls of some ** that will not endure sound doc-
trine.** (2 Tim. It. S.) AUm ! how should they, when
their minds are not sound? It is too searchuig for
them. Goutv feet cannot go but on a soft way, which
generally yields to them. Such must have a doctrine
that will comply with their humour, which the Word
will not, but rather judge them; and this they think
it will do too soon at the great day, therefore, now
they shun it, lest it should torment them before their
time. Thus, the Quakers have their skulking hole to
which thej run frt)m the Scripture, at whose bar they
know their opinions would be cast, and therefore ap-
peal to another — the fight vrithin them, or, in plam
English^ their natural conscience, a judge which is
known too well to be corrupt, and easily bribed to
speak what the lusts of men will often have him do.
Ah, poor creatureiL what a sad change have they
made, to leave the Word, that is an inflexible rule of
faith, which can no more deceive them than God
himself^ to trust the guidance of themselves to them-
selves; a more ignorant, uniaithfid guide, the devil
could not have chosen for them. ** He that is his
own teacher,** saiih Bernard, ** is sure to have a fool
for his master.** God himself, by Solomon, saith,
" The vrav of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he
that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise ** (Pxx>t. xii. 15) ;
but he most wise, that makes the Word of God the



Digitized by VjOOQIC



,>26



THE CUUISTIAN TKEA8UCIV.



man of hit counieL The Papist hath this thicket
&nd wood at his back also— antiquitj and traditions,
to which he flies before the lace of the Scripture for
sanctuary^ as Adam did to a biish when God came to
him; as ii anj antiquity were so authentic as Grod's
own oracles, and anj traditions of men to be laid in
the balance with the Scripture. To name no more,
the Socinian folds himselr up in his own proud rea-
son, and assumes such state, that the sense of Scrip-
ture must be reconciled to his reason, and not his
reason bent to the Scripture; he must have a religion
and Scripture that fit the model which his own
reason draws, or he will have neither: the root of
many prodigious errors and heretics, like those of
whom TertulUan speaks, who went to the philoso-
pher's forge to shape a Christianity. What is this,
but to carry gold to be weighed in the chandler's
scales, and to look for the sun by the light of the
moon?

OljecL But we see heretics quote Scripture for their
most prodigious errors, and draw this sword for their
iefence, as well as the orthodox : how then is it such
K powerAil instrument against error? Ant. What
will not men of subtle heads, oOTrupt hearts, and bold
faces, dare to do for carryiijg on their wicked party,
when once they hare espoused an error or any sinful
way ? Korah and his ungodly company dare give out
that the Lord is among them, and they have as much
to do with the priesthood as Aaron himself, on whom
the holy oil was poured. (Numb, xvi 13.) And
Zedekiah, that arch flatterer, fears not to father his
lie on the GK)d of truth himself (1 Kings xxiL 11) :
** He made him horns of iron, and said, Thus saith
the Lord, With these thou shalt push the Syrians
until thou hast consumed them;** wnereas Ood nerer
ipoke such a word. It is no marrel, then, to see any
iay their bastard- brats at God's door, and cry they
lare Scripture on their side. By this impudence
they may abuse credulous souls into a belief of what
they say, as a cheater may pick the purses of igno-
rant people, by showing them something like the
cing's broad seal, which was his own forgery. But
incere souls, that search humbly for truth, and hare
ao other design in their inquiry after it, but that they
may know the will of God, and obey it, they shall
Ind, upon their faithful prayers to God, a light most
jlear, shining from the Scripture to guide them safe
trom those pitfalls of fatal errors into which others
fall, towards whom the dark side of this cloud stands :
* The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
H good understanding have all they that do his com-
mandments.** rPs. czi. 10.) The fox, when hard
yut to it, will fall in subtly with the dogs, and hunt
I with them as one of their company; but then his
strong scent, which he cannot leaye behind him, be-
,ray8 hiuL Thus heretics, to shelter their errors,
will crowd them in among Scripture truths, and by
their false glosses make them seem to be of theur
company; but thev cannot so perfume their rotten
opinions, but their rank scent and sayour will be
smelt, and discerned by those who have their senses
exercised. A heretic can reap no advantage by an
appeal to the Scripture. What Christ saith in an-
other case (Matt. xxyL 52), ** AU they that take the
sword shall perish by the sword,'* is most true of all
heretics; they are confounded and confuted by that
very sword of the Word which they liA up to defend
themselyes.

• • • • •

The true reason why Papists forbid the Scripture to
he read is not to keep them from errors and hereBies,
but to keep them from discoyering those which they
themselyes impose upon them. Such trash as they
trade in^ would neyer go off their hand did they not
keep their shop thus diark; which made one of their



shayelings so bitteriy complain of Lather forspoiliDg
their market, saying, that but for him they migiit
haye persuaded the people of Gkrmany to est b^. {
Anything indeed will go down a blind man'i tlintt !
I do not wonder that their people, thus kept in i
ignorance, do so readily embrace their fopperies, and
Mlieye all their forgeriet. The blind msa moit
either sit still or go whither he pleaseth that kadi
him. We read of a whole army, when once mutten
with blindness, carried out of their way bjone iii«le
man that had his eyes in his head. (2 Kma vi )§.)
But this we may wonder at, that men whoknow the
Scriptures (as many of their leaders do) and adnow*



Online LibraryThomas CarlyleThe Christian treasury, Volume 2 → online text (page 123 of 145)