Thomas Carlyle.

The Christian treasury, Volume 2 online

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controversy with them. God cannot possibly ap-t
prove anytiiing of this kind. But then the same is;
true of every other duty. Wicked men do nothhig'
that is well-pleashig to God— nothing whieh is umed
at his fi^ory, or done in obedience to his authority—
everything that is done is done fat selfish ends. If
they read the Scriptures, it is not to know the will of
God and do it; or, if they hear the word, it is not
with any true desire to profit by it. Even their pur-
suit of the common good things of this life is that they
may consume them upon their lustsf hsnee the veiryj
" ploughing of the widced is sin." (Proy. xxi 4.) ,
Yet no one would infer from hence that it is not their^,
dn^ to read the Word of God» nor attend to the
prsMhiag of the Goq>el, nor pme the neoes8aon|{
ttvocatiowoflifo; neither would he reckon it nhnwi?!
to exhort them to such eseroisee as thsoe. i

The truth is, irioked men are required to de sQi
these things, not camaUy, but with a ri^^ end ai^ |
a r^^ spirit. In this nay Shnon Hi^n^ thomj^i

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** in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of ini-
quity,** was exhorted to praj— not with a hard and
impenitent heart, but with a spirit of tme contrition :
** Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray
God, if perhaps the thought of thy heart may be
forgiven thee." To repent and pray is the same
thing in effect as to pray penitently, or with a con>
trite spirit. Wicked men are required to read and
' I hear the Word, but not with a wicked spirit; and to
^ plough the soil, but not that they may consume its
produce upon their lusts.

There are not two sorts of requirements, or two
standards of obedience — one for good men, and the
.other for wicked men; the revealed will of God is
one and the same, however differently creatures may
'* stand affected towards it. The same things which
' are required of the righteous— as repentance, feith,
love, prayer, and praise— are required of the wicked.
(John xii 36; Acts iiL 19; Rev. xv. 4.) If it were
I not so, and the aversion of the heart tended to set
aside Gtod^s authority over it, it must of necessity
follow that a sinner can never be brought to repent-
ance, except it be for the commission of those sins
which might have been avoided consistently with the
most perfect enmity against Grod ! And this is to
undermine all true repentance; for the essence of
true repentance is "godly sorrow," or sorrow for
having displeased and dishonoured God. But if, in
a state of unregeneracy, a man were under no obli-
gation to please God, he must of course have been
incapable of displeasing him; for where no law is,
there is no transgression. The consequence is, he
can never be sorry At heart for having displeased
him; and as there would be but little if any ground
for repentance toward God, so there would be but
little if any need of faith towards our Lord Jesus
Christ. If, in a state of unregeneracy, he were under
no obligation to do anything pleasing to God, and
were so far rendered incapable of doing anything to
displease him, so far he must be sinless, and there-
fore stand in no need of a Saviour. Where there is
no obligation, there can be no offence; and where
there is no offence, there needs no forgiveness.—

'* We may learn this from our greatest enemv"— tha^
' our souls are worth all our care and pains in xeeping;
seeing our adversary the devil thiiJa no pains too
^reat to get them. He goeth up and down, "seek-
mg whom he may devour." (1 Pet. v. 8.) He com-
passeth the earth, as we may read in the Book of Job
(iiL 27). He had « oonddered " Job, and so considers
all others— what temptation is likeliest to prevsdl;
I what their tempers and distempers are; what traps
will take some, and what snares others. He knows
our beloved sins, and dresses them up, so as we might
be loath to part with them. He did not desire to go
into the herd of swine, that he might destroy them,
but that by that means he might tempt their owners;
as, indeed, it took effect— the Gadarenes preferring
their swine before their souls, or their Saviour.
(Matt, viii 31-34.) When our Saviour came to cast
him out of any one, the devil was tormented. ** Why
art thou come to torment us? "they cry. (Matt. viii.

29; Luke viiL 28.) It was not because they were
forced to leave their bodies, but because hj that
means he should have no such opportunity to mischief
their souls, O, this is a torment to Satan— to be de-
prived of our souls !

There is not a sermon we hear, but this evO one
is ready to take awav the seed as soon as ever it is
sown (Matt. xiiL 19) ; there is not a prayer we make
but these " fowls " ot the air attend to light upon the
sacrifice, and hardly can they be driven away. (Gten.
XV. 11.) Wheresoever we are, whatsoever we do, the
devil attends and waits for advantage against us, that
he might but gain our souls. — Vincke. '

O WHAT a credit, what a glory, is it to drink m the
dews of godliness in the morning of your lives!
What a lovely sight, to behold those trees blossoming
with the fruits of the Spirit in the spring of their
age ! " Better is a poor and wise child than an old
and foolish king." (Eccles. iv. 13.) What a gar-
land of honour doth the Holy Ghost put on the head
of an holy child ! How profitable is early piety !
Some fruits ripe early in the year are worth treble
the price of later fruits. Godliness at any time
brings in much gain (1 Tim. vL 6); but he that
comes first to the market is likely to make the best
price of his ware. On the other side, how dangerous |
are delays I Remember, children, late repentance,
like untimely fruits, seldom comes to anything. Tour '
lives are very uncertain. As young as you are, you'
may be old enough for a grave. O then seek youri
Qod, and seek him when and *' while he may be'
found." (Isa. Iv. 6.) If thou refuse him now, he
may refuse thee hereafter. I have heard of one tiiat,
deferring repentance to his old age, and then going
about it, heard a voice, ^ Give him the bran to whom
thou hast given the flour." Every day renders you
more and more indisposed. The longer sin and Saltan
possess the forts of your hearts, the more they will
fortify and strengthen them agahist God and holiness.
(Jer. xiil 23.) Your God deserves your youth. Thel
best God deserves the best of days. — Lye.

Sins after CoirvESSioif.— A sheep may slip into a
slough as well as a swine. The difference is, that
the sheep dreads a faU, and speedilv rises from it;
while it IS a habit with the swine to oe unclean, and
to love the same condition As the other abhors. •

Scripture Translation.- An old Scotch divine
observes that it is a great mercy to have our father^
will in our mother''s tongue. j

Influence of the World. — A man that travelleth
to the most desirable home, hath a habit of desire to
it all the way; but his present business is his travid;
and horse, and company, and inns, and ways, and
weariness, may take up more of his sensible thoog^te^
and of his talk and action, than his home.— Boater.

Scepticism of Satanic Aoenct. — As the fowler
would certainly spoil his own game, should he not
keep out of sight; so the devil never plants his own
snares so skilfully and successfully as when he con-
ceals his person, nor tempts so dangerously as when
he can persuade men that there is no tempter. — SamtlL

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(Concludfd from p. 644.)

We might rest the whole question of onr
duty to the poor on express Scripture injunc-
tions; but we know that some, in practically
reasoning on this subject, are haunted'by the im-
pression, that in giving cheerfully to others they
, by so much diminish the sources of their own
enjoyment; and, therefore, giving largely at
leasl^ is regarded by unbelieving men as im-
plying weakness, though it may be regarded as
amiable. Now, witliout replying that the same
feeling might have prevented the Jews from
leaving unreaped the comers of the fields, and
from leaving the crop of the seventh year free
to all, if it can be shown that God has declared
that the very reverse of this is the case, and
that not ho that gives, but he that withholds,
is cursed, we shall attack covetousness in its
stronghold, strip it of its last argument, and
leave no excuse for the neglect of a large and
generous benevolence. And such we apprehend
to be the statement of Scripture, viz., That
giving to the poor, so far from bringing us to
poverty, shall be one means most effectually to
secure us against it; whilst, on the other hand,
if we are unwilling to listen to the tale of misery,
and hide our eyes from the distresses of our
brethren, not one, but many, curses shall infal-
libly overtake us here and in the world of

This leads me to the second point, which
I intended to consider, viz., the reward of
Christian benevolence. Let it be observed here,
Fir$t, That no reward is ever d^mioed by any
human being. All have sinned, and are justly
exposed to the wrath of God. Ail do sin, and
in God's sight no man living shall be justified.
All true Christians rejoice to lie low in the dust
before God, and to say : " We are unprofitable
servants. Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us,
but to thy name be the glory." Even when
they are in some measure conformed to the will
of God, it is not they that do good, but God
worketh in them, both to will and to do of his
good pleasure. Secondly^ No Christian expects
BSkj reward for his own sake, or as of debt.
On the day of judgment, we find the saints
No. 48.*

' shrinking away, with an exclamation of sur-
prise: "When saw we thee an hungered or
athirstf *^ But still a great reward is promised,
a reward of grace. And, without attempting to
maintain what may appear to some a paradox,
we might merely say, that a sweet contentment
shall be the result of our generosity — a con-
tentment and inward peace passing all under-
standing— for which princes might well exchange
the comfortless splendours of their thrones. Our
Saviour refers to this when he says, « It is more
blesseJ to give than to receive." For there is
a blessedness unspeakable in diffusing happiness
around — in sheltering those who are outcasts
upon a dreary world— in making the widow's
heart to sing for joy. And if the result of our
benevolence extends beyond this world, O what
cause shall we have of triumph throughout an
endless eternity, in having been instrumental in
saving souls from death, arraying them in the
robes of immortality, and in seeing them pre-
sented a shining throng, with palms 'of everlast-
ing victory, to swell the ranks of the redeemed,
to swell the glorious anthem of eternity I |

But we prefer taking the words of Scrip- :
ture in their plain and literal meaning. God,
though he stands in no need of our assistance,
though he could oonunand the stones to be-
come bread that the poor might eat, and the
rocks to pour forth water, or the heavens, as of
old, to rain down manna, has not merely pre-
scribed this duty of providing forthe destitute to
us, but has encouraged us in the discharge of it'
by many express promises of a positive reward.
As, that by giving to the poor " we lend to
Him" — make him our debtor, whose is the
earth, and the fulness thereof —who can give us
silver for brass, and gold for silver — a treasure
in heaven in return for our earthly substance; !
and who, though we sow in tears, will make us
bring back our sheaves in a most plenteous and |
abundant harvest. Onr alms shall come up with
our prayers as a memorial before Him. He will '
prosper us in all onr ways, and never suffer us
to lack. ** Blessed is he that considereth the
poor : the Lord will deliver him in the time ot |

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trouble." And no one can find any difficulty in
perceiving the possibility of the fulfilment of
these promises, who believes that God is the
great Ruler in heaven and earth — that riches
come not by chance, but by His iq>pointment9
through a thousand channels over which we
have no control — that all the agents in the
universe are at His command — that He makes
the wind blow, or stills the sea into a cahn,
gives rain from heaven, and clothes our fields
with beauty and fertility. Without Him the
builder builds, and the husbandman sows and
waters, the merchant traffics, and the labourer
labours, in vain. And on the other hand, riches
depart by secret avenues, over which we have
no controL (xod can easily, without visibly put-
ting forth his hand from heaven, consume riches
before the eyes, and in the very grasp, of the
covetous man. In a moment can He turn
back the current of his own benevolencd, and
leave the hard-hearted to experience all the
poverty with which they so little sympathize.
And it evidently is right that this should be
done sometimes in the presence of the world,
openly to confute Infidelity, and to put a differ-
ence between him that feareth (red and him
that feareth him not.

Those who have never known what it is gene-
rously to distribute the blessings which God has
conferred upon them, are no judges whether or
not they increase, as did the loaves of the Gos-
pel, by distribution. But it is no evidence of
the contrary, that some have been seen to give
liberally, who still came to poverty; for mere
giving does not constitute a fulfilment of the
command of God — it is a giving from principle.
Men may mingle with the glare of assembled
multitudes, and go with the crowd to wonder
at the eloquence of a favourite preacher, and be-
ing warmed into a hasty and unusual ecstasy,
may give liberally to the poor. But they cannot
expect that this should be accepted by God.
It is the mere charity of feeling and osten*
tation. And if we think how much of thm
there is, we will not wonder if we see some
miserable who have been seen publicly perform-
ing acts of benevolence. Blessedness were
easily purchased if it could be obtained by
the hasty conferring of some of our wealth, in
the midst perhaps of pride and luzniy, of vil-
lany and guilt, on those whom at other times we
deride and despise. But it has been the unani-
mous testimony of all the redeemed who have
spoken on this subject from the foimdation of
the world, that their store, like the widow's oil
of old, has never suffered from distribution.

** There is that scattereth and yet increaseth;
there is that withholdeth more than is meet,
and yet it tendeih to poverty " — '^ I have be^i
young, and now am old, yet have I never seen
the merciful man forsaken, nor his seed left to

But it is necessary, in estimating this view of
the subject, to look beyond this world, in which
our residence is only temporary — ^the mere
threshold of an eternal existence — and to con-
sider, that unl^ assisted by God, we shall soon
be poor indeed. The bed of death is prepar-
ing, and then our riches must forsake us; and
our friends and our fame can profit us no<
thing. Who shall stand by us in the lonely
hour I Who shall pass with us through the dark
valley of the shadow of death ! " He shall have
judgment without mercy who showed no mercy "
— " Blessed is he that considereth the poor:
the Lordshall deliver him in the day of trouble.'*
And this is in perfect consistency with all the
statements of Scripture. For he gave proof
that he had been rescued from the selfishness
and degradation of the fall — that he was being
made fit by the Spirit of God to join the glorious
society of heaven — that he had been taught of
God to be in some measure a faithful steward
of the goods committed to him. God shall also
give him a crown of life — treasures of heaven —
blessings of this world, and that which Is to
come: *'WeU done, thou good and faithful
servant; thou hast been faithful over a few
things, I will make thee ruler over many things;
enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

On the other hand,it^is only reasonable to ex-
pect that Crod should multiply curses upon him
who retains unjustly that which He intended
him to bestow on his perishing brethren — who
seeks to frustrates all the purposes of God —
who sets an example so pernicious to his breth-
ren around. We have often seen the threaten-
ing in the text fulfilled — riches wither in the
grasp of men by whom they were unduly held,
or given to strangers for a possession; for let
us seize them however eagerly, and hide our
eyes from the miseries of our brethren, there is
still a God that judgeth in the earth. And
then, when stretched upon a bed of languishing,
when all earthly objects begin to fiade from
our sight, when our eyes begin to swim in
death, is it to be believed that God will hear
our imploring cries! The cries of the poor
have ascended and entered the ears of the
Lord of Sabaoth. We laughed at calamities,
and God will laugh at our calamity. ** I was an
hungered, and ye gave me no meat; thihsty, and

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ye gftve me no drink. Depart from me, ye
cursed.'* We remained as barren and fruitiess
trees cumbering tbe Almighty's vineyard, fit
for nothing but to be hewn down and cast into
the fire. The sin of hard-heartedness is most
severely punished, because most contrary to the
nature of God. ^ Cast ye the unprofitable servant
into outer darkness" — ^^ Fwitshalleome to pftss,
tbat if any one shidl hear the words of this curse,
and shall bless himself in his heart, saying, I
diall have peace, though I walk in the sight
of mine eyes, and in the imagination of my
heart, the Lord will not spare that man, but his
anger and his fury will smcke against him; and
he will separate him unto evil from the midst
of the congregation, and utterly blot out his
memory from under heaven." Let us seek,
then, by the onmipotent grace of God, to be
enabled to follow Him who went about con-
tinually doing good— to let our light shine before
m^i; and then when He who is our life shall
appear, we shall also appear with him in glory.


Milan was the city of one of Silvio Pellico's
priaona. What a touching account he sivee of
the power of the Blbla over him ! Tao time
is hastening when it shall no hmger be a
stcmn^ bo<£ in Italy, nor its doctrines hidden.
Eor mx or seven days Silvio had been in a state
of doubt, prayerlessaess, and almost deqtera-
tioa. Yet he sang with a pretended mem-
ment, and sought to amuse himsdf with
, f ooiish pleasantries. ^ My Bible," he says, ** was
oevered with dust One of the chiklrea ef
tiie jailer said to me one day, while cacessing
me, * Sioce you have left off reading in AtA
villain of a book, it seems to me yea are not
80 sad as before.'" Silvio had beesi patting on
a f oreed gaiety.

^ It seems to yon!" said he.

^ I took my BiUe, brushed away the dust with
a pocket-haiulkecchie^ aadopening it at hasard,
my ^es fell upon these wonls: ' And he said
to his disciples^ It is impossible but that of-
fisBcee will come, bat woe to that man by whrai
the offence oometfa. It were better for him
that a millstone were cast about his neck, and
he thrown into the Be% than that he should
<»ffend one of these little ones.'

^Struck with meeting these words, I was
ashamed that this little diild should have per-
ceived, by the dust with which my Bible was
covered, that I read it no more, and that he
should have supposed that I had become more
sociable and pleasant by forgetting God. I
was oompletdy desolate at having so scandal-
ised him. * Yon little rogue,' said I, with a

caressing reproof, ' this is not a TtUain book, and
during the several days that I have neglected
to read in it, I am become much worse. My
singing that you have heard is only a force-put,
and my ill-humour, which I try to drive away
when your mother lets you in to see me, aU
comes back when I am alone.'

" The little child went out, and I experienced
a degree of satisfaction at having got my Bible
again in my hands, and at having confessed
that without it I had grown worse.

** * And I had abandcmed thee, O my God I '
cried I,*and I was perverted! and I could even
believe that the in£unous laugh of the cymjc
and sceptic was suited to my despairing con-,
ditionl' I

^ These tears were a thousand times sweeter
than my brutish joy. I saw my God again ! I
loved him J I repented that I had so insulted
him in degrading myself and I promised never
mmre to be separated from him — never.

^ 1 read and wept and lamented during more
than an hour, and arose full of confidence in
the thought that God was with me, and that he,
had pardoned my delirium. Then my misfor-
tunes, the torments of the trial, the probability
of the torture, Aj^peued to me a very little
tiling. I could rejdce in suffering, since I
might follow a sacred duty, which was, to,
obey the Saviour, in suffering with resigna-'
tion." I

There are still hearts like Silvio Pellico's in!
Italy, and when the word of God oomes to thia
pec^ple, it will have all the greater power for,
having been so long kept from them. When the!
spirit of the moum of the Lord kindles the|
fire, it will qtread among Italian hearts like a
flame in the dry grass of the prairies. Under
this fire the superstiticms of Bomaniam would ;
perish. The idolatry of forms can no mora
stand against the burning spirit of God*s word, \
than the seared leaves and withered branches
of tiie woods in autumn could stand before a
feoreat conflagration. i

Frank-hearted Silvio Pellioo! how many a
man has let the dust grow thick upon his Bible,
not in prison merely, but even his family
Bible, even with dear children around him, and
never confessed his sin, never gone back with|
tears of contrition to that holy Iwok, nor taught
it in his household, nor had the li^t of truth
divine, the light from heaven shming on it I
How like a dungeon with fiUse and foul,
thoughts, mast every heart be, out of which ^
Grod and the dear light of his word are exdud-j
ed I YeS) though there may be laughter Uiere,
it is like poor Silvio's fiJse and forced de-
^Miiring merriment ; it is like ihe crackling of |
thorns under a pot Heavy laws are upon;
anich a man; and when friends depart, and he|
sees himselTin prison, sees how he ts in prison,'
even though he walks in the open air, then
there is desolation indeed. — Bev, Dr. Cke^cei^t
Piigrim o/ike Ju»s/rau,

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•* Verily, verily, I wiy unto you. He that believeth on me,
the works that I do shall be do also ; and greater works
I than these shall be do ; because I go to the Esther.**—
I John xIt. 18.

The kingdom of Grod on earth may be said to
be always in progress, but there are certain
periods in its history when the advances it
makes are more striking and peculiar. Its
course, sometimes, at least, proceeds by grand
stages, which, as they successively arrive, bring
such important changes into the condition of
its members, that men may be accounted little
or great in the kingdom, according to the posi-
tion they occupy in respect to these. David
stood nobly pre-eminent above the men of his
own generation for the strength of his &ith, and
the rich variety of his spiritual gifts ; yet the
Prophet Zechanah gave promise of a time when
even ''he that is feeble should be as David."
John the Baptist, who had the singular honour
of being the immediate forerunner of Christ in
his office, rose on this account so far superior
to all who had gone before him, that Christ
declared him to be the greatest that till then
had been bom of woman ; yet not only did he
feel himself so little in comparison of Christ, as
to be unworthy to unloose the latchet of his
shoe, but Christ also determined his place to
be below that of those who should henceforth
be regarded as of smaller stature in the king-
dom. So great a change to the better was
effected by the personal appearance of Christ.
And though Christ himself must ever have
immeasurably the pre-eminence above all whom
he calls his brethren, yet so mighty a step in
advance was his kingdom to tak^ as to the de-
velopment of its powers on earth, in conse-
quence of his departure to heaven, that his
disciples, he tells us, were to be enabled to
perform works, not only equal, but even supe-

Online LibraryThomas CarlyleThe Christian treasury, Volume 2 → online text (page 133 of 145)