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“ prayers and supplications with thanksgiving,” to the same God, in the name of the same Mediator, and endeavour to learn the way to the same “New Jerusalem which is above,”-shall the one congregation look with aversion upon the other, merely because their opinions chance to differ on some point which, it is admitted, has no connexion with the doctrines of salvation? Can any thing be conceived more unreasonable, or more repugnant to the spirit of Christianity? Yet, unreasonable and unchristian as it is, we all know it to be too common in the present day; and much have they to answer for to the great Head of the Church, who are instrumental in exciting and keeping up this anti-christian spirit. Let us avoid such narrow and unsocial principles ourselves, and do all we can to discountenance them in others. If " our good be evil spoken of,” let us manifest the spirit and imitate the example of our Divine Master, “ who, when he was reviled, reviled not again ;” but, for despiteful usage, returned the blessing of triumphant goodness. Let us never forget that charity is inseparable from Christianity; that Christ inculcates it in every page of his Gospel ; that he exemplified it in every act of his life ; and that his injunction to each of his followers is, “ Go, and do thou likewise.”
THE CHRISTIAN'S GROUNDS FOR
GLORYING IN TRIBULATION.
REV. ARCHIBALD STEWART,
MINISTER OF MOFFAT.
Rom. v. 3-5. “ And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, know
ing that tribulation worketh patience ; and patience experience; and experience hope : and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.”
The Apostle, as we may see from the context, mentions glorying in tribulations as one of the fruits or effects of a believer's justification. He who is justified by faith, is not only delivered from the fears of a guilty conscience, and is at peace with God—not only is he enabled to rejoice in the hope of that glorious inheritance, which he has been assured awaits the faithful in the future state-but even in the afflictions of this present troubled and sorrowful life, he is enabled to glory.
Nor was it an empty boast on the part of the Apostle, to say of himself, and the other primitive believers— “ we glory in tribulations.” In saying so, he stated merely what is a well-authenticated fact; nor does he state it even in exaggerated terms. The sufferings of the early believers may well be styled “ tribulations ;" and the manner in which they comported themselves under them, may well be styled glorying in them.
Nor is it to be supposed, that to glory in tribulations was peculiar to the first professors of the Gospel : all true believers, fact and experience show, are enabled to do so in a degree greater or less, in proportion to the strength of their faith, and the brightness of their hope.
Now it must surely be admitted, that in this fact we have a very wonderful moral phenomenon presented to us—something, on merely natural principles, altogether unacountable. To see a man rejoicing, notwithstanding his sufferings, in the good of his portion, were nothing remarkable; but his rejoicing and glorying even in the very evil itself, one would be disposed, in the ignorance of any other cause, to ascribe to mental derangement-one would be apt to suppose that the mind that could run to such extravagance, had broken loose from the laws by which human thought and feeling are ordinarily regulated. Had a heathen philosopher, ignorant of the Gospel, heard the apostle assert, that he glóried in his sufferings and tribulations, he would doubtless have said, “ Paul, thou art beside thyself.”
And why, to a mind unenlightened and uninfluenced by the Gospel, to glory in tribulations must seem so unreasonable and unaccountable, is easily explained. Suffering, as viewed in the light of natural reason, can hardly be otherwise interpreted than as a testimony of the divine displeasure. In all their troubles and calamities, men, if they had any religious sentiments at all, could not fail to hear the voice of an angry Deity. Natural conscience, notwithstanding all men's attempts to silence and stifleit, lifts up its voice of protestation against sin, and pronounces its condemning sentence; and when distress and tribulation are sent upon them, in the dispensations of Providence, they cannot help hearing in these a voice that confirms the judgment which conscience has already uttered--they cannot help regarding them as a proof of God's anger; and seeing that the ills here endured, amount not to a full retribution, they are led farther to regard them as a presage of a day of worse visitation. This is really the interpretation which must be put upon the evils of life, when viewed in the light of natural reason. And it is manifest, that men generally did actually so interpret them; for it is to the strength of the feeling produced by their thus regarding them, that all their forms of false religion and superstition are to be ascribed. It is just because conscience led them to interpret the afflictions sent upon them as manifestations of God's anger, that, in order to avert his wrath, they made most costly sacrifices, and added to their natural distresses a vast amount of selfinflicted sufferings. Some men of speculative minds, it is true, disbelieved and ridiculed the vulgar superstitions : but though they disbelieved the superstitions, did they themselves sit at ease and undisturbed, under the feeling in which the superstitions had their origin ? Did they view the evils of life as coming from the hand of a presiding Deity, and yet look upon them with composure and indifference ? Quite otherwise. While the vulgar sought to quiet their fears in their forms of superstition ; they sought to quiet theirs, in their forms of false and sceptical philosophy—they made their philosophy serve the purpose of religion. For this end they reasoned themselves into the belief, that the events of a man's life are not of the ordering of the Divinity, but that things fall out by chance or blind necessity.—While some denied the existence of any regulating principle at all, making every thing result from mere contingency-others subjected gods and men alike to a principle called fate, which exercised over both an inexorable sway. The events of life being thus taken out of the hand of a presiding Deity, they of course saw no longer in their afflictions any testimony of Divine displeasure. They managed thus to extract out of them this bitterest ingredient; and this once done, they thought it the truest wisdom to rejoice in the good of their allotted portion, and to allow themselves to be as little as possible disconcerted by its evils. Some of them imagined that their philosophy might teach them indifference to the evils of life ; but as for its teaching to glory in them, of that they never dreamed.