Page images

they will, deserve surely to be considered. Not of course to the real injury or impoverishment of those whose claim upon us is one of blood and nature; yet greatly in preference to views of aggrandisement for our children, or of giving them more than enough, which is quite as great an injury to them as giving them less than enough.

Now it is true that self-deceit, which never forsakes us, would very likely try to persuade us, in the several cases that I have been noticing, that our will was just, or at any rate that we have a right to do as we will with our own. But let men consider that, although they may deceive themselves, yet they cannot deceive God; that they must be judged not according to what a hardened or corrupted conscience whispered here, but according to what it will tell them when the time for such deceit is over, and sin appears to them as it is. And as the risk of what they are doing is great, inasmuch as their will must outlive all possibility of their repentance, and if it be a sin it must stand as such for ever, it were well if they used beforehand the precautions of Christian wisdom. And as there is a God of this world who blinds our eyes, and as there is a deceived conscience which sometimes will not let us see that we have a lie in our right hand, were it not wise to seek that aid and that light which have been given us, that we should not walk in dark

ness ? that we should make our wills in the first instance, and review them from time to time afterwards, with earnest prayer to God that an act so solemn may be done under the influence of His Spirit, and in the name of the Lord Jesus? It was once the custom that every will should begin with the words, “ In the name of God;" and the testator very commonly stated that he committed his soul to God through Christ, before he proceeded to say a word of his worldly affairs. No doubt the use of these expressions outlived the true sense of their reality: they may be found, it is but too likely, standing in the front of a will so little Christianlike, that they are no better than blasphemy. But what is our state when we leave off the very expression of good feelings because we will keep our real feelings at such utter variance with what is good. But whether the words are used or no, certain it is that every will not conceived in their spirit is an act of sin. To look forward deliberately to what is to happen after our death, without any thought of what death is, and into whose presence it brings us, cannot but be great ungodliness; that mind can hold but little communion with God at other times which is not led to think upon Him then.

A truly Christian will, as it is a solemn act, and the exercise of a great privilege, so it is full of happy thoughts and of blessing. The best and

holiest human affections are mingled with the thoughts of death and of eternity. What there is of good and precious in this world stands out the brighter when we are steadily observing how much of it is passing away. Together with the pleasure of exercising for the last time our tender care for those whom God has given to us, must rise also our thankfulness to Him for having enabled us to provide for them, and our prayers that He will continue to abide with them when we are gone. Nor is it unpermitted to the Christian parent of Christian children to glance in thought from this, his latest act of communion with them in this mortal state, to his first meeting with them again in the kingdom of Christ, when no more care will be needed either for himself or for them, for both will be joined in everlasting love and blessedness, one with each other in God and in Christ.


January 12th, 1840.




2 TIMOTHY, ji. 1.

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

So little regard has been paid to chronological order in the present arrangement of St. Paul's Epistles, that the two first written are immediately followed by the two latest of all; the two to the Thessalonians, I mean, are immediately followed by the two to Timothy. We may thus pass at once from the beginning of St. Paul's written Gospel to its end, from a period only a few months later than his first crossing over into Europe, to one in all probability only a little while preceding his death. And in doing this, we may compare the more full language of hope which abounds in his earlier Epistles, with the darker anticipations which are more common in his later ones. For

although it was revealed to him very early, as we see by the second Epistle to the Thessalonians, that the progress of the Gospel would be grievously obstructed, still the full sense of the extent and greatness of the evil does not appear to have possessed his mind so thoroughly then, as we find it to have done some years afterwards, when it was not only a matter of expectation and belief, but of actual experience.

To those who love to realize past times, and to bring them before their minds with something of the freshness and distinctness of the scenes actually present to them, it is often a grievous disappointment to find great chasms here and there in the records of history, where the road, so to speak, has been almost wholly carried away, and there is no possibility of restoring it. But of all these chasnis, none is so much to be regretted as that wide one of more than a century, in which all full and distinct knowledge of the early state of Christianity after the date of the Apostolical Epistles has been irretrievably buried. In the Apostolical Epistles themselves we have a picture clear and lively, from which we can gain a very considerable knowledge of what the Christian Church then was. But from these Epistles, which merely as historical monuments are so invaluable; from these records, undoubtedly genuine, uncorrupted, uninterpolated, and in which every thing is drawn with touches

« PreviousContinue »