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We are not such subjects as we should be. Yet the world is not to be allowed to forget, that, imperfect as our obedience is, his people are not insensible, nor have they shown themselves insensible, to the paramount claims which Jesus has upon their loyalty. In our eyes, the grace and glory of other sovereigns pales before his—as stars when the sun has risen ; nor is there any one we ever saw, or our affections ever clung to, whom we feel we should love as we ought to love Jesus Christ. True piety is not hypocrisy ; and it is due alike to Christ and the interests of religion, that the world should know that the love his people bear for him is a deeper affection than what the mother cherishes for the babe that hangs helpless on her bosom ; a stronger passion than the miser feels for the yellow gold he clutches. With the hand of the robber compressing his throat, to have his gray hairs spared, he would give it all for dear life ; but loving Jesus whom they never saw, better than father, or mother, or sister, or brother, or lover, or life itself, thousands have given up all for him. Not regretting, but rejoicing in their sacrifices, they have gone bravely for his cause to the scaffold and the stake.
It is easy to die in a battle-field—to confront death there. There, earthly prizes are won-stars, bright honors, are glittering amid that sulphureous smoke ; there, earthly passions are to be gratified-my sister was wronged, my mother butchered, my little brother's brains dashed out against the wall. I am a man, and could believe the story told of our countrymen ; how each, having got a bloody lock of a murdered woman's hair, sat down in awful, ominous silence; and, after counting the number that fell to each man's lot, rose to swear by the great God of heaven, that for every
hair they would have a life. Amid such scenes, with passions boiling, vengeance calls for blood, hurling me, like a madman, on the hedge of steel ; and, where the shout of charging comrades cheers him on, the soldier is swept forward on blazing guns and bristling bayonets, in a whirlwind of wild excitement. But, to lie pining in a dungeon, and never hear the sweet voice of human sympathy ; to groan and shriek upon the rack, where cowled and shaven murderers are as devoid of pity as the cold stone walls around ; to suffer as our fathers did, when, calm and intrepid, they marched down that street to be hung up like dogs for Christ's crown and kingdom, implies a higher courage, is a far nobler, manlier, holier thing. Yet thousands have so died for Jesus. Theirs has been the gentle, holy, heroic spirit of that soldier boy, whose story is one of the bright incidents that have relieved the darkness of recent horrors, and shed a halo of glory around the dreadful front of war. Dragged from the jungle, pale with loss of blood, wasted to a shadow with famine and hardship, far away from father or mother, or any earthly friend, and surrounded by a cloud of black incarnate fiends, he saw a Mahometan convert appalled at the preparations for his torture-about to renounce the faith. Fast dying, almost beyond the vengeance of his enemies, this good brave boy had a moment more to live, a breath more to spend. Love to Jesus, the ruling passion, was strong in death ; and so, as the gates of heaven were rolling open to receive his ransomed spirit, he raised himself up, and, casting an imploring look on the wavering convert, cried—“Oh, do not deny your Lord !” A noble death, and a right noble testimony !
Would to God that we always heard that voice and
cry, when, in the ordinary circumstances of life, we are tempted to commit sin. I say the ordinary circumstances of life ; for it would almost seem as if when we are least tried, we are most in danger. On grand occasions faith rises to the trial; and such is the vitality of christian love, that, like the influence of the wind on fire, the storm seems rather to blow up than to blow out the flame. How often have Christ's people found it easier to withstand on great occasions than on small ones! Those will yield to some soft seduction, and fall into sin, who, put to it, might stand up for the cause of truth and righteousness as bravely as he who, in yonder palace, stands like a rock before the king. Commanded to do what lays Christ's crown at Cæsar's feet, he refuses. It is a thing which, though ready to dare death, he dare not, and he will not do. He offers his neck, but refuses that-addressing himself in some such words as these to the imperious monarch: “There are two kingdoms and two kings in in Scotland ; there is King Jesus and King James ; and when thou wast a babe in swaddling clothes, Jesus reigned in this land, and his authority is supreme.
Would to God that we had, whenever we are tempted to commit sin, as true a regard for Christ's paramount authority! With special reference to our own hearts be the prayer ever offered, thy kingdom cometake to thee thy great power and reign. Ours be thy prayer, 0 David—“Cleanse me from secret faults, and keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins ; let them not have dominion over me. Alas, how often do we unwittingly, thoughtlessly, rashly, under the lingering influence of old habits, swept away by some sudden temptation, some outburst of corruption, practically deny the Lord that bought us, and yield
our members to be the servants of sin ! Let us confess it. Often are we constrained to say, with Ezra, when he rent his mantle, and fell on his knees, and spread out his hands unto the Lord, “Oh, my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God; for our iniquities are increased over our heads, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens." Yet let not the worldling go away to triumph over such confessions, and allege that there is no such thing as genuine religion or true love to Christ. This much I will venture to say for his people, and for the grace of God, in which their great strength lies--put us to the test, give us time for prayer and reflection, and there are thousands who, rather than renounce Jesus Christ, would renounce their life, and, with unfaltering footstep, tread the well-beaten path that the martyrs have made to glory. Faith, eyeing the opening heavens, would stand on the scaffold, and say, as she changed a Jewish into a Christian hymn-if I forget thee, O Jesus, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my month ; if I prefer not Jesus above my chief joy!
The Kingdom of Christ.
Translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.-COLOSSIANS i. 13.
THERE was an ancient and universal custom set aside, on his coronation day, by that great emperor who bestrode the world like a Colossus, till we locked him up in a sea-girt prison-chained him, like an eagle, to its barren rock. Promptly as his great military genius was wont to seize some happy moment to turn the tide of battle, he seized the imperial crown. Regardless alike of all precedents, and of the presence of the Roman Pontiff whose sacred office he assumed, he placed the crown on his own head ; and, casting an eagle eye over the applauding throng, stood up, in the pride of his power, every inch of him a king. The act was like the man—bold, decisive ; nor was it in a sense untrue, its language this, The crown I owe to no man ; I myself have won it; my own right arm hath gotten me the victory. Yet, with some such rare exceptions, the universal custom, on such occasions, is to perform this great act as in the presence of God; and, adding the solemnities of religion to the scene, by the hand of her highest minister to crown the sovereign. It is a graceful and a pious act, if, when religion is called upon to play so conspicuous a part, on such a stage, and in the presence of such a magnificent assem