Thomas Carlyle.

The Christian treasury, Volume 2 online

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instruction to his mind without pntting him to
confusion by asking questions which he could |
not answer. I learfted that he could not read a
word, although he had carried on a considerable
business, and gained a decent property. Hei
said, ** When I was a boy, there were no Sabbath |
schools, and my father sent me to work all the i
week, and I had no opportunity to learn. I '
have felt the want of it a long time; but never |
so much as since I have been ill." ** Then,*' I
said, ** as you cannot read the Bible yourself,
you must take it on trust from others." He
seemed to think there was a great deal to be
learned and to be done before he should be fit to
die. This was the impression uppermost in his
mind, and I found him as teachable as a little |
child. I asked him if he felt himself a sinner f 1 1
** Yes," he said, *• I do feel myself to be a very ! |
great sinner; but I fear I do not feel it so much \ '
as I ought." **Canvottprayr ** A very little," ti
he said; ** I ask God to foi^ve me, but I do not
know whether I pray right." I replied : '^ It is a
great mercy that God hears short pray^v, if
they come from the heart ; and t^t the Bible
gives many instances in which short prayers
have been heard." I said, ** You can say, * God
be merciful to me a sinqer/ " To my surprise, he
clasped his hands together, and with great fer-
vour cried, ** God be mercifVil to me a sinner."
Finding this prayer congenial to his feelings I
continued, •* Lord, save me, or I perish. Create
in me a clean heart. Teach me thy way. Take
away all iniquity, for Christ's sake." He re-
peated all I said, and after reading a portion
of the good Word to him, and praying with
him, I left him, encouraging him to try, when
he was alone, to carry up his desires to Gk>d in
those short sentences I had mentioned to him,
« Yes," he said,** I will, I will try."

I saw him again in the evening of the> same
day; the interview of the momins^ had excited
in my mind a deep interest on his behalf. I
found that he had been praying at intervals
through the day, and his wife told me that since
I had visited him his temper seemed quite
altered; that he was calm, and thankful for
everything, whereas before nothing was right. 1 1
I mentioned some texts of Scripture to him, | !
and said, " They are in the Bible." I was much i j

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straok with his reply, ** Yes, I dare say they
are j I believe they are." Poor man I he had
never read them, and never would. As his
time seemed likely to be short, I confined my
instructions to the three great points — ^man's
min by sin; redemption by Christ Jesns; and
regeneration by the power of the Holy Ghost.
His understanding was opened much more
rapidly than I had expected. He felt himself a
sinnen and that all about him was defiled; he
bowed to the doctrine that man is bom in sin,
and that by nature he was evil, and only evil ;
he felt tiie truth of Grod which declares, ** Cursed
is every one that continueth not in all things
Written in the Book of the Law to do them," and
that he was under that curse — '^ that the wages
of sin is death,'* and that his sins deserved ail
the wrath which Grod had threatened; When
I toM him that God had addressed i^mners in
sneh language as this: ** Come now and let us
reason together, saith the Lord," &c.; and again,
that he had said, " As I live, saith tl^e Lord, I
have no pleasure in the death ef him that
dieth,*' &o.; he was filled with admiration.
**flow good! bow merciful!** hei exclaimed.
* Ah !" I said, •* you did not know what precious
things the Bible contained.** ^ O no,** he said,
••I never desired to read before, but now I
grieve that I did liot leant to r^. I might
have reiA these good things myself." I then
spoke to him of tho person, glory, and sufferihgs
ik the Lord Jesus, and that this wonderful aoKi
glorious person died for sinners. ^'O what pre-
cious blood most that be which he shed ! This
biood elesnseth from ail dn. Can you trust in
Ohri«t*s blood to redeem your soulr * Yes; I
hope I dan." t said, * If you believe—' he that
beheveth shall be saved.' Do yon understand
whatfuth is f* I found he was ilot prepared to
answer, and therefore said, ^ Jtfst now I men-
tioned to you, ' As I live, saith the Lord, I have
no pleasure in the death of a sinner,' &c., — you
drink that is in the Bible T * O! yes; I am
sore itis " •• But yon cannot tisad— how can you
besorer ** You told m« so^ and I am sure you
would not deceive me.** *'Then," I replied,
^ yon beHeve I speak the truth t thkt is faith in
me ; bat Uie great point of that text is, * As I
live* $cM tki Lord: To believe what God speaks,
is faith in God; and that alone can relieve yon.
God has said that there is no ho^ for any sin-
ner out of Christ, but that «very sinner may
be saved by casting Uie bofden of his sins on
Christ. "When yon^ seekig that yon cannot
save yomrself, flee to Chri^ and trost wholly
to hnn for salvation, you believe on him."
I asked him if he had ever heard that deelara-
tioit of the Lord Jesus, '^Ye must be bom
again; except a man be bom again he can-
not see the kinfldom of GodT He did not
know that he had. ^ Yet this is astene as the
promises." I endeavoured to show the nature
and necessity of this change, and the Lord was
pleased to give him so quickly to naderatand

and desire it, that I could not but hopo the

rod Spirit was indeed working on his mind,
said before he was as teachable as a little
child, and I could not but believe that the same
Spirit which imparted a teachable mind, com-
municated understanding to the simple.

He looked for my visits more than for his
necessary food or medicine, and I was con-
strained to witness the most unequivocal and
unbounded evidence of love in one to whom,
before, I should scarcely have given credit for
natural affection. Such wonders grace can do !

During the last interview I had with him, I
took some pains to obtain satisfaction as to his
views and feelines. I mentioned to him the
dying testimony of an aged Christian : ** I know
in whom I have believed,*' &o. I explained
that passage to him, and endeavoured to set
before him the near i^proach of that hour in
which his soul would be separate from the body,
and stand before the judgment-seat. After a
short time I said, ^ Now suppose you were just
dying, in full possession of your reason, and
with those views of the value of your never-
dyin^ soul, and the imutterable importance of
trusting it in safe hands. You are anxious to
leave your earthly property in safe hands, but
what is that compared with ^our soul ! Do you
know any being to whom, if djring, you could
commit your soul f ' With an expression and
manner which spoke far more forcibly than
words, he replied, ** To the Lord Jesus Christ."
** Yes/' I said, ** take fast hold of that; and re-
member the words of the dying martyr: ' Lord
Jesus, into thy hands I commit mv spirit.' " He
looked up towards heaven and said, ''Lord
Jesus, into thy hands I commit my spirit." I
said, ** Farewell! I am going from home for a few
days, and perhi^ I may never see you again ;
but I shall think of you when absent, and com-
mit you to the Lord Jesus, and though you will
not see me, Jesus will be near, and he alone can
help, and save, and bless you." He expressed
his thankfulness for my attention to him, and
said be never was happy before he knew these
things. On my retutn, I found he was gone
into eternity ; that the few days he lived Mter
my departure, he had been cahn and resigned;
and that he held fast hold of that truth, ** Lord
Jesus, into thy hands I commit my spirit," and
that these were almost his last words.

O blessed Gt»pel ! that can thus suit the des-
perate condition of a poor guilty oreature. O
blessed power of the Spirit! which can rise
above all obstacles, and convey life and light,
and peace and joy, to a ruined, guilty, ignorant,
miserable man I


I TRIBD to make crooked things straight, till I have
made these knuokles sore, and nowl must leave it to
the Lord. |

If Iwaatamaatofly, Imustlettdhimwitigi; and

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) 132


if I would suocessfoUy enforce moral duties, I must
adrance EvangdicaX motives.

> I should hays thought mowers yery idle people,
but they work while they whet their scythes. So
deYotedness to Gtod, whether it mows or whets its
scythe, still goes on with its work.

My course of study, like that of the surgeon, has
principally consisted in walking in the hospital.

{ My principal method of defeating heresy, is that
of establishing the truth. , One proposes to fill a
bushel with tares ; now, if I can fill it first with
wheat, I will defy his attempts.

A Christian in the world is like a man who has a
long intimacy with one who, at length, he finds out was
the murderer of his father, and the intimacy ceases.

t We are surprised at the fall of a famous professor ;
but in the sight of God that man was gone before—
H is only we that have now discovered it.

The deril told a lie whenhe said, ** All these things
are mine, and to whomsoerer I will shall I giro them."
For if he had the disposal of preferments, you and I,

brother C , should soon be dignitaries.

If an angel were sent to find the most perfect man,
he would probably not find him composing a body of
divinity, but perhaps a cripple in the poor-house,
whom the parish wish dead, but humbled before
God by far bwer thoughts of himself than others
think of him.

If two angels came down from heaven to execute
a divine command, and one was appointed to conduct
an empire, and another to sweep a street, they would
feel no inclination to change employments.

I have many books that I cannot sit down to read.
They are indeed good and sound, but, like halfpence,
there goes a great quantity to little amount. There
are silver books, and a few golden books, but I have
one book worth more than all, called the Bible; and
that is a book of bank notes.


Poor children ! they bring and teach us, human be-
ings, more good than they get in return I How often
does the infant, with its soft cheek and helpless hand,
awaken a mother from worldliness and e^tism to a
whole world of a new and hijjher feelmg! How
often does the mother repay this, by doing her best
to wipe ofif, even before tne time, the dew and fresh
sunpUcity of childhood, and make her daughter too
soon a woman of the world, as she has been.

The luurdened heart of the worldly man is un-
locked by the guileless tones and simple caresses of
his son ; but he repays it in time, by imparting to his
boy all the crooked tricks, and hard ways, and cal-
lous maxims which have undone himself.

Go to the jiul, to the penitentiary, and find there
the wretch most sullen, orutal, and nardened— then
look at your infant son. Such as he is to vou, such
to some mother was this man. That hard hand was
soft and delicate— that rough voice was tender and
lisping— fond eyes followed him as he played— and
he was rocked and cradled as something hoib^. There
was a time when his heart, soft and unworn, might
have opened to questionings of God, and Jesus, and
been sealed with the seal of Heaven. But harsh
hands seized it, fierce goblin lineaments were im-
pressed upon it, and all is over with him for ever I

So of the tender, weeping child is made the callous,
heartless man — of the all-believing child, the sneer-
ing sceptic — of the beautiful and modest, the shame-
less and abandoned; and this is what tho world does
for the little one.

There was a time when the Divine Ons stood on
earth, and little children sought to draw near to him.
But harsh human being* stood between him and
them, forbidding their approach. Ah ! has it not
been always so ? Do not even we, vrith our hard and
unsubdued feelings— our worldly and unscriptural
habits and maxims — stand like a dark screen between
our little child and its Saviour, and keep, even from
the choice bud of our hearts, the sweet radiance
which might unfold it for paradise ? ** Suflfer little
children to oome unto me, and forbid them not."
is still the voice of the Son of God; but the cold
world still closes around and forbids. When of old,
the disciples would question their Lord of the higher
mysteries of his kingdom, he took a little child and
set him in the midst, as a sign of him who should be
greatest in heaven. That gentle teacher still remains
to us. By eveiT hearth and fire-side, Jesus still sets
the little child m the midst of us !

Wouldst thou know, O parent, what is that
faith which unlocks heaven ! Go not to wrangling
polemics, but draw to thy bosom thy little one, and
read in tnat dear, trusting eye the lessons of eternal
life. Be only to thy GhKl as thy child is to thee,
and all is done ! Blessed shalt thou be, indeed—*' a
UtUe chUd shaU lead thee !"

It is just as possible to keep a calm house as a dean
house, a cheerful house as a warm house, an orderly
house as a furnished house, if the heads set them-
selves to do so. Where is the difficulty of consult-
ing each other^s weaknesses, as well as each other^s
vrants; each others tempers, as well as each others
health; each others comfort, as well as each other*^
character ? Oh ! it is by leaving the peace at home
to chance, instead of pursuing it by system, that so
many houses are unhappy. It deserves notice, also,
that aknost any one can be courteous and forbearing,
and patient in a neighbour's house. If anything go
wrong, or be out of time, or disagreeable there, it is
made the best of, not the worst; even efforts are
made to excuse it, and to show that it is not fdt; or,
if felt, it is attributed to accident, not to design:
and this is not only easy, but natural, in the house of
a Mend. I will not, therefore, believe that what is
so natural in the house of another is impossible at
home, but maintain, without fear, that all the cour-
tesies of social life may be upheld in domestic sodetys.
A husband, as willing to be pleased at home, and as
anxious to please as In his neighbour's house, and a
wife, as intent on making things comfortable every
day to her family, as on set days to her guests, could
not fail to make their own home happy. Let us
not evade the point of these remarks by recurring to
the maxim about allowances for temper. It is worse
than folly to refer to our temper, unless we could
prove that we ever gained anything good by
giving way to it. Fits of ill humour punish us quite
as much, if not more, than those they are vented
upon ; and it actually requires more effort, and inflicts
more pain to give them up, than would be requinte
to avoid them. — PkUip,

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^ 1 'Will p«t enalty between Ifaec and the woman, and be-
tween tbj aeed and her ieed." - GBK. Ul. 10.

'. , O^nisfT and the world are oppotitet. They are
^ I SM»t men^j dtferemt, but they are as utterly
it opposed to each other as daj is to night

1 1 es heaven is to helL The one p re s e nts

i a. perfeet and irreconcilable contrast to the
<»lfaer. ""What fellowship hath righteousness
^with nnrighteonsness f and what communion
¥atli ligfat with darkness! and what concord
Isth Christ with Belial t"— 2 Cor. ti. 14, l^-
AU^ then, who belong to Christ must be totally
of^NOsed to those who belong to the world.
They are not only different from the men of the
I worM, bat they are utterly opposed to them;
tbey form a ocmtrast so marked and so decided,
} thai any union between the two is impossible.
" Ye are from beneath; I am from above : ye
are of this worid; I am not of this world." —
John Tiii. 23. '^ We know that we are of God,
and the whole world Ueth in wickedness." —
I J<^m y. 19. Their principles are not the
same, their motives are not the same, their feel-
ings are not the same^ their prospects are not
the same, their tastes are not the same, their
habits are not the same, their joys and sorrows
are not the same, their hopes and fears are not
the same ! — ^all, all are different. As the feel-
ings, the tastes, the joysof angels, are different
from dioee of devils; so are the feelings, the
tastes, the joys of the saints, different from those
of the men of this world. The prince of this
wOTld and his subjects are at one. " Ye are of
your fikther the devil,and the lusts of your father
ye will do." — J(^n viii, 44. It follows, then, that
if the wcM-ld be at one with Satan, it must be
the &kemj of Christ and of all that are his. It
is of great importance to fix this truth in the
mind, as many, if not all, of the mistakes of
I men on the subject of conformity to the world
have arisen frcnn overlooking Uie impassable
distinction, the irreconcilable contrast, between
Christ and the world, as well as between all
who are Christ's and all who belong to the

If, then, ye are on Christ's side, you must
consider that your posture is one of entire opp<h
dAom to the world. You must remember that
there must be no compromise and no oonceal-
ment of^your opposition to the world. There
No. \2*

must be no alliance, no half-measures, no truce
with the world. There must be open warfare.
Christ expects this from you. He expects you
to come out of the world. — 2 Cor. vi. 17. He
expects yon to bo quite difierent from the
irorid. — Rom. xiL 2. He expects you to be
crucified to the world. — Gal. vL 1 4. He expects
you to oppose the worid.— James iv. 4. He ex-
pects you to testify against the world— John
vii. 7. He expects you to overcome the world. !
— 1 John V. 4. He expects you to be, in all
things, exactly what he himself was in the
world.— 1 John iv. 17. These things Christ
expects from all who are called by his name.
He expects that you will always, on all occa-
sions, and in all society, take his side, not the
world's. And as Christ and the world are
enemies, you must choose a side. Yon can-
not remain silent — you cannot remain neutral.
Wherever your Saviour went, he always testi-
fied for his Father, and he expects you to do
the same for him. Followers of the Lamb,
will ye not do this ! Will ye shrink from this f
Will ye be ashamed of the cross — afraid to
avow your Master! What I Is the world's
friendship so precious, that for it you would be
content to lose the friendship of your beloved
Lord! Whatl Are the world's smiles so attrac-
tive, that for them you can forego the smile
of your Father ! Are the world's pleasures so
sweet, its glories so dazzling, that for them
you would fling away the joys of the kingdom
— the glories of the unfiE^ing crown !

But what is the world of which we speak,
and of which so much is spoken in Scripture !
It is called by various names. It is called the |
seed of the serpent — the children of the devil — |
children of wrath; in short, it is composed of i
all uncowfoerted men. All who are not saints,
holy ones, Christ's flock, Christ's disciples, the ,
elect — all who are not bom again, belong to the \
world. It is, then, against the principles, the '
habits, the pleasures, the lusts, the sins of these, |
that we are to testify. The ** course of this '
world," as the apostle calls it, we are to re- ^
nounce, and the life and conversation of all
who walk according to that course we are to
condemn . We are to keep ourselves unspotted
from the world— to hate even the garments
spotted by the flesh; we are not to touch the


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unclean thing, lest thereby we should be our-
selyes defiled, and countenance sinners in their
sin. Even if we get no harm ourselves, yet if
we, by partaking, encourage a sinner to go on
in anj amusement which, however innocent in
itself, is yet leading him to neglect higher
concerns, then that is fin to us, and we are, in
some measure, guilty of a fellow-sinner's blood.

But let us speak more at large of the world's
amusements and pleasures. They are such as
suit the tastes of carnal, unconverted men.
And what would we think of a Christian who
had any sympathy in these tastes f Is not the
fact of a man's rduking the world's pleasures
a sufficient proof that he belongs to the world,
and that he is no Christian ! Is not the fact of
a man's having a tauU for the theatre, or cards,
or balls, a sufficient proof that his tastes are
those of the world, and not those of Christ —
that he is, in truth, an uneonwried man, or, at
the best, a miserable backslider! But it is
said they are innocent amusements. Innocent 1
And will a man, calling himself a Christian,
dare to say that he will spend hours, ay, even
one hour, in that of which all that can be said
is, that it is innocent! Dare a Christian do
anything which is not proJUabU, in some way,
either to himself or to others! Innocent!
These amusements are just Satan's wiles to
lead souls to foi^t eternity. Is it not an
awful truth that, at this moment, thousands
and tens of thousands of souls are, by these
very amusements, led luring on to perdition,
blinded to their immortal welfare! Inno-
cent 1 They are the means employed for ex-
pelling God from the affections, and keeping
him out of the soul. Are not these pleasures,
innocent as they may be called, just the flowers
which Satan strews in the sinnei^s path to adorn
the way to hell ! Whajt a handle Satan does
make of the word innocent I — thereby showing
us that it is in the apparent innocence of these
amusements that the deadly poison lies. Were
they openly noxious, they would not really be
so pernicious and so fatal. The seeming harm-
lessness is the fatality of the spell f

In no case does Satan so completely triumph
as when he can get professing Christians to
countenance the world in their amusements.
Then the poor, deluded world is hopelessly
ensnared. Its only hope was, that Christians
would lift np their voice against its vanities,
and thereby save it from ruin. Satan's fear
was, that some bold Christian voice would sound
an alarm, and mar his deadly plot But now
his triumph is complete I His endeavour to


ruin souls has been fearfuUy seconded. A^^^A
by whom ! By one who names the name o^
Christ. And there is yet worse than tlus.
Satan has sometimes persuaded not only privski^e*
Christians, but mimiten of the Ocepet, to sit doinna '
by the world's side, and take part in its pleci.-
sures. This is the consummation of his helliflli.
craft. A minister of Christ going to the theatre, 1 1
attending balls, or sitting down to cards witJi J
the world, against whom he is called to testify' I i
What would an apostle say t6 this ! For aji^ ' \
Christian, or Christian minister, to conntenaoce /|
the world in that which is leading them awar;3r 1 ;
from God, is to share in their sin and to be j'
guilty of their blood. ' '

But is it wrong to engage in a thing whicH I
is not of itself decidedly sinful! In answer, |
wo would say, that even admitting that some
of these amusements are not actually in them-
selves sinful, yet

1. A thing which is harmless in itself, be-
comes sinful when it excludes things of greater
moment, and more immediate concern. The
world's pleasures do this, and are, therefor^ to
be condemned.

2. A thing may [not only, be harmless, but
even lawful, and yet we may have no time for
it. Other things may havQ a stronger claim
upon our time. When our time is limited, we
are not to consider what is merely lawful, but
what is of most importance. The concerns of
our souls must, therefore, occupy our first at-
tention. Till they are fully settled, we are not
at liberty to attend to any things whose only
claim is that they are harmless. It is a posi-
tive sin to engross our attention with lower |
things, while higher things are unsettled. It .
is, therefore, a positive sin, in any one^ to '
follow the world's pleasures till he has made
sure of the salvation of his souL This con- '
sideration supersedes much vain arguing about j
the fancied innocence of worldly pleasures. A I
Christian has no time for it, even had he the
taete. And if a Christian has no ^me for it, how
much less has a man of the world— an unpardon-
ed sinner I

3. Any amusement which is decidedly ^
tcorlcTs amutement, ought to be avoided by a
Christian. Even if it were harmless, even if
he had time for it, yet the fact of its being the
world's favourite amusement is enough to make

Online LibraryThomas CarlyleThe Christian treasury, Volume 2 → online text (page 33 of 145)