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Printed by Ballantyne ^ Company^ Edinburgh.





Ardent admiration for Mr Punshon has
induced me to compile this volume, which
consists of extracts from the " Note-books"
of three of his hearers. The facility of illus-
tration manifested is marvellous. Every
page is covered with sentences full of hfe,
rich, strong, deep, beautiful.

May the Divine blessing attend an
earnest and humble effort to promote the
comfort and happiness of the people of


' Oh ? who would not a champion bo,
In tliis the lordlier chivalry?
Uprouse ye now, brave brother band,
"With honest heart and working hand.
We arc but few, toil-tried, but true.
Anil licails beat hi^^li to dare and do ;
Oil I there be lliose that ache to sec
The day-dawn of our victory I
Eyes full of heart-break with us plead.
And watchers weep, and martyrs b!ccd ;
Work, brntlicrs, work I work, hand and brs
We'll win the Roldcn age again.
And love's millennial morn sliall rise,
In hajipy hearts and blessed eyes ;
We will, we will brave champions be,
la this Uic lordlier chivalry.''


« strength and Peace:'

See the labourer, whom the morninj:^ calls
from slumber, hastening to the cheerful fields,
where the dew has freshly glittered and the
lark has newly sung. What needs he for the
work which waits his ready hand ? Surely
strength to do it — the flexile muscle, the
strong, obedient sinew. See him again at
the eventide, when the sun is liberal to th"
western clouds, and throws them largess of
glory. See how, to greet his homeward steps,
little feet are pattering from under the jas-
mined thatch, and at the garden gate there
is great mystery and clapping of hands ; while
from the inner room there flashes out upon
the twilight a loving, wifely smile. What is
his fitting blessing just then 1 — what the en-


dowment which seems properly to belong to
that season ? Surely peace. Nothing to
corrode, distract, alarm ; a tranquil spirit,
around which slumber draws, as the cool,
quiet shadows draw around the outside

" He is not dead, but skepeth^''

An awful change passes upon one we love.
He looks pale and motionless. We see not
the glances of his eye, we hear not the music
of his voice ; and, as he lies stretched and
breathless upon the couch of his slumbers, it
is very difficult to believe that he is not dead.
But "he is not dead, but sleepeth." IMourner,
canst thou credit it ? Orphan, " believest thou
this ?" Bereaved one, is there no chord in
thy stricken heart which trembles responsive
to the tone ? " He is not dead, but sleepeth."
His life is with him yet, as warm, as young,
as energetic as in days gone by, only it is
hiddeii. What an encouraging thought ! Let
it still your throbbing hearts. Let it hush
the tempest within you to a calm. We mourn
you not, ye departed ones, who have died in
the faith, for ye have entered into life.


" // doth not yet appear what we shall beV

What surprising discoveries will flash upon
MS when we enter the other world ! Oh,
brethren, when the change takes place upon
us — when we are launched into the bound-
less — when we take large surveys of the ways
and works of God — when His unveiled glory
shall blaze upon our raptured vision — how
shall we be lost in wonder ! How shall we
be ready even to doubt our own identity, and
express our astonishment in strains some-
what similar to these : — " Is this I, so lately
grovelling and earthly ? Oh, how changed !
Is this the soul that was so racked with
anxiety, and dimmed with prejudice, and
stained with sin — the soul which was gulfed
beneath such waves of woe — the soul whose
every passion was its tempter, which was
harassed by an all-absorbing fear of never
reaching heaven. Now, how ennobling ! Not
a thought of evil molests it, not an enemy
causes it to fear. It has reached the haven.
It has crossed the Jordan ; and those waters,,
which on the brink looked so angry and
boisterous, now * ripple peacefully on the
eternal shore.' "

A 2


The Apostle Peter.

In the frank outspokenness of Peter we
have very frequently occasion to rejoice.
There is a fulness of rich and interesting
truth in many of his statements upon which
we cannot fail profitably to dwell. They are
miniature gospels — gems of finest lustre, and,
like the diamond, made to cut as well as

The Greatness of Tj-ijles.

How solemn is the life that now is ! There
is greatness even in its trifles ; for they are
agencies, all of them, for good or evil. The
cairn is heaped high by each one flinging a
pebble ; and the living well is worn by the
diligent flow of the brook ; and the shoal that
has wrecked a navy is only the work of a
colony of woiTns. And in the moral world
surely there can be no trifles at all. Nourish
the unrecorded thought of ill, and it shall ripen
into the full deed by and by. Hug the sin
to the bosom, and cry, "Is it not a httle
one ?" and the one demon will go out only to
bring a brotherhood of seven home. The most


blood-stained man of crime once prattled at
a mother's knee. Trifles ! They have fixed
a destiny, and have sealed a doom many a

"Our snjjiciency is of GodP

Yes, brethren, it is a blessed verity — one of
the most encouraging, and one of the most
comprehensive truths in the Bible. The all-
sufficiency of God may be styled the essence
of all Christian experience ; it is the moral
which the Scriptures continually inculcate ;
it stands in the heraldry of heaven as the
motto on the. believer's arms. The all-suffi-
ciency of God gives strength to patience,
solidity to hope, constancy to endurance,
nerve and vitality to effort. The weakest
believer, with this sacred treasure, is enabled
to go steadily forward.

The Ministerial Call.

It is God, not man, that makes — not finds —
able ministers of the New Testament. The
tones of His voice are heard saying, " Son,


go work to-day in my vineyard." And it is a
remarkable fact, and one which we should
never forget, that this voice is never heard in
a heart where there is no faith ; consequently,
the prime qualification for the Christian min-
istry is a heart which has been melted by
Christ's love. Without this all else is un-
avaihng ; the attainment of the most profound
and extensive knowledge, the grasp of the
loftiest and most searching intellect, the pos-
sessor of the most commanding eloquence,
the treasures of the most imperial fancy, — all
are useless, worse than useless, without the
converting grace of God, just as the trap-
pings which decorate the traitor only make
his treason the fouler, and they stand forth
as the weapons of more terrible danger, and
as the portent of more terrific and appalling

"//> npJioldeth all things by the ivord of His

It is by this ever-breathing word constantly
in exercise that the sun shines, that the moon
walks in brightness, that the stars pursue
their courses in the sky. The clouds are


marshalled by His divine decree, and when
He uttereth His voice there is a multitude of
waters in the heavens. Reason looks at this
systematic and continuous regularity,, and
admires it, and refers it to the operation of
second causes. Piety looks through the com-
plications of the mechanism to the Hand
that formed it. The universe is to her but
as one vast transparency, through which she
can gaze on God. Her pathway and com-
munion are on the high places of creation.
There, far above all secondary and subordi-
nate agencies, she discovers the hidings of
His power. The symmetry of nature is to
her more beautiful because God has pro-
duced it. The deep harmonies of the systems
come more tunefully upon her ear, because
the hand of the Lord has awakened them.

" What though no real voice nor sound,
Amid the radiant orbs be found ?
In faith's quick ear they all rejoice.
And utter forth a noble voice ;
For ever singing as they shine,
He who sustains us is divine."


Human Eloqtience.

A mighty thing I know — a persuasive and
powerful thing I know, and, under certain
circumstances, it can accomphsh great re-
sults. It can charm a Herod, it can make a
Felix tremble, and it can almost persuade an
Agrippa to become a Christian ; but it can
do no more. I know that immense multi-
tudes have been swayed sometimes by the
power of a single tongue. The passions can
be excited either to madness or sympathy,
either to deeds of lawless aggression or deeds
of high enterprise, but there is only a tran-
sient mastery obtained. We read of a harp
in the classic fables of old, which, when the
wind swept it, was said to discourse eloquent
strains, but then, unhappily, the breeze and
the music died away together. So it is with
the triumph of the orator : the moment the
voice of the speaker ceases the spell is broken,
the dream is dissipated, reflection begins to
remonstrate against excitement, and the
••whole affair is forgotten.


" The perfect law of libej'ty?

Here is a summary, compendious and
beautiful, of the characteristics of God's pure
Word. It is a law^ not an opinion amenable
to the caprice of the individual, to be obeyed
or ignored at the bidding of an arbitrary will.
It is a law, an authoritative obhgation, issued
by One who has a right to speak. It is a
perfect law. Given originally in fragments,
waxing constantly from the obscurer to the
clearer revelation, it is presented now as the
complete canon of Jehovah's will. Like it&
Author, it is full-orbed. It shines not with
the gleam of the crescent, fast waning, but
with the perpetual glow of perfect noon. It
is a perfect law, then ; it can be followed by
no supplement. Perfect ! then it can be
superseded by no invention. Perfect ! then it
can be set in clearer light by no blaspheming
spiritualism. It is a perfect law of liberty.
Some persons cannot understand the collo-
cation of those words at all ; they cannot
conceive of liberty as existing in the same
realm as law. Their idea of freedom is the
licence of ungoverned appetite, or the deli-
rium into which- anarchy drags itself in its


reaction from oppression ; something like the
state of ancient Israel in the interval between
the Judges and the anointed Kings, when
every man did that which was right in his
own eyes. But such licence is mere hidden
thraldom. Was it not so at the time of the
French reign of terror ? It has been well
observed, that the wisest liberty is a self-
imposed restraint. The lark enjoys as great
a sense of freedom when it nestles in the
tufted field as when it trills its song in the
sky. Agrippa, the base slave in purple, sat
upon the judgment-seat, but Paul, the pri-
soner in fetters, was the Lord's freeman not-
withstanding. There is a perfect consistency
in the terms of the apostle James.

The Accelerating Pj'ogress of Evil.

A denier of the original taint of sin once
stood before two pictures which hung side by
side upon a wall. The first was the portrait
of a boy with open brow, and curls that look
golden in the sunshine, and cheeks whose
damask beauty shame the ripened fruit,
wearing that happy smile which can be worn


but once in life — a smile whose rippling
waves are poisoned by no weeds of suspicion,
and break upon no strand of doubt, looking
gaily up from the flowered earth into the
azure heaven, without the slightest misgiving.
From the canvas of the second picture there
glared out a wolfish eye — the home of all
subtlety and malice : and in the gloom of the
dim-lighted cell you might perceive the mat-
ted hair, and garments stained with blood, —
chains clank, or seem to clank, upon his
fettered limbs. All tell of the desperate char-
acter of the man. On these two pictures,
hanging side by side, the denier of original
sin fixed his gaze, until the exclamation burst
out at length in a tone of half-concealed
triumph, " What ! do you mean to say that
these two beings were originally and radi-
cally the same ? Do you mean to tell me
that any amount of evil teaching could ever
develop that guileless child into that de-
based and godless man ?" The artist volun-
teered the information that the portraits were
taken from the life of the self-same individual
at different stages of his history. You know
the moral of the tale. There is an accelerat-
ing progress in an ungodly course, increasing


with the momentum of an avalanche when
the first stages of its course have run. The
descent into perdition is easy when the striv-
ings of the passions are seconded by the
dictates of the will. Sinner, I charge thee,
beware lest thy sin become habit. What !
do you say you have already resolved at
some future time to repent, to reform ? You
are blind to your danger. In yon grim hulks
there are multitudes of men to-day who have
hearts like yours within them, although they
have cased them from the truth as in a coat
of triple steel. If you could get them to lay
bare the sad secret of their history, you would
be frightened to find it so much like your
own. Good resolutions, early home teachings,
deathless memories of a mother's prayers ;
but a strong temptation, weak restraints, god-
less associates, a first fall, from which, alas !
the young man never, never rose, and then
a casting off the mask of shame. Oh, take the
truth to your hearts to-night, you who are
unconverted. No man became a criminal, a
hypocrite, a villain all at once ; but from a
state of innocence he has slidden down, until
to-night we see him on the lowest rung of the


ladder, and to-morrow a dishonoured suicide.
Beware of the deccitfulness of sin !


Death to the Christian is but the time of
greatest triumph, because the time of nearest
home. Just as autumnal tints are richest in
the woodland, and the decaying forest trees
wear gayest colours, — as if, like so many
Csesars, they had gathered their imperial
robes about them, so seemlily to die, — so
the Christian has found often the strength
most vigorous, and the peace the stillest and
divinest, when the shadow gathered on the
countenance sympathetic with the other
shadow which had waited in the room. Be
comforted, my brother, whom the thought of
death hath often oppressed with a strange,
heavy disquiet — be comforted. God will
be glorified in thy death, if thou but aim to
glorify Him in thy life. If the eventide come
on with lengthening shadows, or without a
twilight, as in eastern skies, there shall be
light at eventide ; if the conflict be with torn


plume and broken sword, like the wounded

" With dying hand, above the head
You '11 shake the fragment of the blade,
And shout your victory."

God i?i History.

It is not enough, if we would study history
aright, that we follow in the track of battles,
that we listen to the wail of the vanquished
and to the shout of the conquerors ; it is not
enough that we excite ourselves into a sort
of hero worship of the world's foster gods, the
stalwart and noble peerage of mankind ; it is
not enough that we trace upon the page of
history the subtle and intricate developments
of human character ; to study history aright
we must find God in it, we must always re-
cognise the ever-present and the ever-acting
Divinity, working all things according to the
counsel of His own will.



By unity we do not mean uniformity.
There is none ; there can be none in the
free universe of God. You have it not in
nature. You may go out into the waving
woodland, when death is on the trees, and
you may prune their riotous growth, and
mould, and shape, and cut them into some-
thing like a decent, a decorous uniformity ;
but the returning spring, when it comes, will
laugh at your aimless labour. Wherever there
is life there will be found variety of engaging
forms which attract and fascinate the eye.
We do not mean uniformity, therefore, — the
harmony of voices, or the adjustment of ac-
tions, — the drowsy repetition of one belief, or
the harmonious intonation of one liturgy ;
but we mean " the unity of the Spirit in the
bond of peace."

^'' Many are the sorrows of the righfeoiisV

One reads that passage so far and stops,
and turns away, and says. Oh, what a melan-
choly system ! how clothed in sackcloth !


how its h}Tnns are all wailing and doleful
psalms ! how cypress is there instead of the
laurel or the bay ! how everything is gloomy !
You cannot expect us to forego the pleasures
and enjoyments of the world for such a dole-
ful subject as that — " Many are the sorrows
of the righteous" — their own book says so.
^^ But the Lord delivereth tlie?n out of them
a'llP That is the other part, and the world
leaves that out, cuts the passage, mutilates it
in order to suit its own purpose, and in order
to furnish it with excuses for neglecting the
gospel claims.

The Widow of Nain.

There is a ^'oung man carried out, the only
son of his mother, and she a widow. Death
had been an early visitant at her dwelling ;
but the first shock had had some element of
mercy in it, for the son was living still, and
in him the husband was reproduced, and
while the fair promise of his glorious youth
was there, the oil was not all dried up in the
poor widow's cruse. But the son has died
now. The last refuge and shelter of the dcso-


late heart is torn away, as with the pomp
and waiHng of the funeral they bore the dead
upon his bier. And now in the gate of the
city, where the crowd are gathered, and the
noise and discord is greatest, there comes
suddenly a silence, and the sounds of woe
are hushed. What does it mean ? The Son
of God is passing by, and He came and
touched the bier. The widow, who followed
in the train, wept, not noisily ; but they who
looked upon her saw that her sorrow was of
that crushing kind that was far too deep for
tears. And the Lord pitied her, and said,
" Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And
he that was dead sat up, and began to speak.
And he delivered him to his mother." Oh
that calm and solemn brow, lighted up with
a joyous benignity, chased away the shadows
of the grave. Well might the discord be
changed into music such as no orchestra
could compass.

The Adaptation of Scriptzcre.

How marvellous is the adaptation of Scrip-
ture for the race for whom it was revealed !


In its pages every conceivable condition of
human experience is reflected as in a mirror.
In its words every struggle of the heart can
find appropriate and forceful expression. It
is absolutely inexhaustible in its resources
for the conveyance of the deepest feelings of
the soul. It puts music into the speech of
the tuneless one, and rounds the periods of
the unlettered into an eloquence which no
orator can rival. It has martial odes to brace
the warrior's courage, and gainful proverbs
to teach the merchant wisdom. All mental
moods can represent themselves in its ampli-
tude of words. It can translate the doubt of
the perplexed, it can articulate the cry of the
contrite, ancj it fills the tongue of the joyous
with carols of thankful gladness. Happy we,
my friends, who, in all the varieties of our
religious life, have this copious manual
divinely provided to our hand.

Christ the Theme of Scripture.

God anointed holy men of old, and made
them prescient of the future, and appointed
certain types, and ceremonies, and ordinances


to be observed in the ritual of the chosen
people, the children of Israel. Why was all
this ? Were prophets ushered into the pre-
sence-chamber, and did the flood of light
burst upon their previously-clouded vision ?
It was that they might foretell the glories of
Christ. Were there types and ceremonies in
the grand Levitical econom.y ? Those types,
every one of them, foreshadowed Christ. To
Him grve all the prophets witness. # He was
the Shiloh that blessed the expiring Jacob.
He was the burden of the songs of the royal
bard of Israel. He was "The Wonderful, The
Counsellor," of whom Isaiah speaks. He
was " The Lord our Righteousness," spoken
of by the plaintive Jeremiah. He was the
"Ancient of Days" whom Daniel describes.
He was the "Desire of all nations" whom
Haggai said should come. He was the
" Branch out of the stem of Jesse," of whom
Zechariah prophesied. He was the " Sun of
Righteousness" whom Malachi, last of the
bright-robed and radiant train, saw arise upon
the earth with healing in His wings. Each of
these looked at Him from his own stand-
point, and presented Him in his own aspect;
but they all gazed upon Christ, just as the


moon looks down upon a multitude of flowers,
and the flowers look gratefully up to the one
serene and steadfast moon. Oh, the Bible,
apart from its Divine origin, is worthy of the
highest commendation and praise ; but that
which crowns it with its most surpassing
excellency, that which invests it with its
noblest grandeur, is the special and distinct
revelation which its pages give of Christ. It
contains doctrines the most sound and health-
ful ; precepts the most pure and practical ;
threatenings the most authoritative and
awful ; promises the most sweet and consol-
ing. But the doctrines are more wholesome
because Christ has endorsed them ; and the
precepts are more practical because Christ
has uttered them ; and the threatenings are
more terrible because Christ has announced
them ; and the promises are more tender
because Christ has spoken them. The atone-
ment comes and casts a lustre of hallowed
radiance upon the whole ; and the book of
God, beautiful in itself, is tenfold more beau-
tiful and lovely by the flood of glory which
streams upon it from the cross.


Scenes in the Life of Joshua,

There are many scenes in the Hfe of Joshua
which present him as standing out in a sort
of heroic rehef from history's ordinary page.
There seems to have been a nobihty of
character about him which distinguished him
from the roll of common men. Our first
glimpse of him attests his nobleness, when
we see him, and another like-minded, the
sole inspircrs of the people's courage, brave
and true amidst a quaking multitude of re-
creant-hearted spies. His attitude was im-
posing when the veteran Moses named him
as his successor, presented him to the camp,
and exhorted him to be strong, and of good
courage. We see him skilful in strategy and
valorous in war on the plains of Amalek, and
before the walls of Jericho. He blends the
inspired with the brave when Jordan rolled
back at his uplifted signal, and when his
word, clothed on the occasion with permitted
power, lit up the lone moonlight in the valley
of Ajalon, and stayed on Gibeon the aston-
ished sun.


The Power of Memoiy.

It is a wonderful faculty this faculty of
memory. Its acts seem to be of the nature
of miracles wrought continually for the con-
viction of unbelief. We cannot expound its
philosophy, nor tell its dwelling-place, nor
name the subtle chords which evoke it from
its slumbers. A snatch of music in the street,
the sight of a modest flower or of an old tree,
a bow dropped casually by a passer-by, a face
that flits by us in the hurrying crowd, have
summoned the gone years to our side, and
filled us in a moment with memories of divin-
est comfort or of deepest sorrow. The power
of memory is lasting and influential. A kind-
ness has been done in secret, but that seed
dropped into the soil of memory has borne
fruitage in the gratitude of years. A harsh
word or an inflicted injury, flung upon the
memory, has rankled there into lawlessness
and sin. No man can be solitary who has
memory. The poorest of us, if he have me-
mory, is richer than he knows ; for by it we
can reproduce ourselves, be young even when
our limbs are failing, and have all the past
belonging to us even when the hair is silvery


and the eyes are dim. How can he be a
sceptic or a materiahst for whom memory

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Online LibraryWilliam Morley PunshonLife thoughts → online text (page 1 of 11)