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COTTAGER'S MONTHLY VISITOR.
PAGE Extract from an Original Ser- Superior Value of Educated mon on the Doctrine of the
Work. People ...
238 Trinity 217 The Peak of Teneriffe..
241 The Sabbath..........
220 The Means of Obtaining SpiriLessons from Natural History . 221 tual Knowledge...
242 Christ the Head of the Church 224 The African Guano IslandMissionary Intelligence. 227
244 On Death-Beds.. 228 Death
ib. The Word of God..
233 A Brief Memoir of Fanny C-. 245 Churches and Church Architec- Extracts from Different Authors 251 ture
EXTRACT FROM AN ORIGINAL SERMON ON THE DOCTRINE
OF THE TRINITY. The necessity and duty of simply and meekly believing this doctrine, cannot be pressed upon us too earnestly or frequently; for these are the very foundation truths of the Gospel, without which we should believe nothing aright, and all our hopes would become vain and false, For if the Son of God our Saviour were not God, He would not be all-powerful to save us, He could not have offered an infinite atonement for sin, He could not now be intrusted with confidence with the precious souls for which He died. We could not have the strong consolation which every penitent heart requires, in fleeing for refuge to Him alone, to obtain pardon and peace, rest and satisfaction, grace and help in every time of need. We should not know to what to look for the hope of eternal life, knowing well that we ourselves only deserve destruction. What created being could we believe had merited heaven for ten thousand times ten thousand sinners? Has not the creature enough to do to perform his own duty, and can he perform enough for another? When even the spotless angels themselves have done all that is com
manded them, they have only done that which it was their duty to do. But when Jesus Christ the eternal God condescended to labour and die for others, his merit was infinite, his work availed for thousands, his propitiation was sufficient for the sins of the whole world. And here' the trembling sinner may rest his soul in faith, firmly and securely; but did he only believe his Saviour to be less than God, he might, nay, he must, reasonably fear for its safety. And thus also, for the same reason,
the doctrine that the Holy Ghost is God is absolutely and indispensably necessary to be believed. For, to whom does the Christian look for the knowledge of the truth, for power to believe it, and power to obey it—whom does he intreat to be continually dwelling within him, as the power of holiness and the power of comfort, but that Holy Spirit whom the Lord Jesus promised should come ? But if that Spirit were not Almighty, how could we be assured that He could really help and save us against the mighty adversary of our souls, who as a roaring lion goeth about seeking whom he may devour? How should we know that the powers of darkness are not stronger than the powers of light? How should we be sure that they who are with us are greater than they that are against us? But when we know that the Spirit is Lord, that He is one with the Father and with the Son, the very and eternal God, we have a sure comfort and a firm confidence in his gracious presence. Then, if we believe that He worketh in us, if we feel our minds and hearts drawn up to high and heavenly things, if we desire to serve and love the Lord, if we desire Him above all things, and count his service to be freedom and peace, we know and conclude that God dwelleth in us by his Spirit; and that He is almighty to bless, to comfort, and to save us. We are enabled then to run the race that is set before us, with the humble hope that strength will be more than equal to all our necessities. Then we feel a sustaining hand around us, and everlasting arms beneath us, when our own strength and hope are as nothing; when we faint and are weary, a rest is here provided; when none but God can comfort, God is present Himself; He dwelleth in us, and shall be with us. Such are some of the prac
tical blessings of knowing and believing these mysterious truths, and not suffering our own narrow understandings to oppose them because of their difficulty. Difficult and mysterious they undoubtedly are; as our Lord taught Nicodemus, they are more so than even that mysterious doctrine of the new birth itself; “If I have told you of earthly things and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?” Heavenly things must of necessity be harder to believe, and more contrary to all our own ideas, than earthly things; they are high above us, far beyond our feeble understandings to judge of them or to comprehend them. To believe is our part; as poor ignorant sinners who require that God should take us by the hand, and teach us, as infants in knowledge and understanding. To receive with undoubting faith his revealed truth is at once our duty and our comfort and rest. We know nothing of things unseen but what He pleaseth to reveal. And even of things seen, and things daily around us, we know but little more. There are mysteries as incomprehensible to us in the world of nature as in religion. Our own mind and soul is a thing as wonderful, as little understood by us, as any other that we can be called upon to believe. We cannot see, we cannot describe it, we cannot realize it; yet, have we not a mind that thinks, and feels, and lives? We know that it is, but what it is, and how it is, we know not, and cannot pretend to know. How much higher is God the Creator than the highest created mind; how much more incomprehensible must He be? Vain, then, is it to object to the mysteriousness of the doctrine of God, and impious to stumble at his word; for that very mystery is actually required, or else it would not be true: if God could be easily comprehended, He would no longer seem that Infinite Being which He is. By bringing down the truth to the level of our own comprehensions, we should despoil it of all its majesty and sublimity; it would no more be the truth of God, but that of man only. The humble believer has no desire of this kind. If the High and Mighty One who inhabiteth eternity condescends to come down and dwell in our poor polluted hearts, we at once look up, and adore with wonder his
unspeakable goodness and love; but we think not by searching to find out God, to find out the Almighty to perfection. If He has been pleased to speak with man, and to declare in some measure his own wonderful nature, we seek not to be wise above that which is written, but rather shall say; “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth." Lord, we believe, help thou our unbelief.” E.
THE SABBATH. The following remarks by Sir Matthew Hale, (an eminent judge, who lived in the reigns of Charles I. and Charles II.) are well worthy of notice, and form an excellent comment on his well known lines,
" A Sabbath well spent, brings a week of content,
And health for the toils of the morrow;
Is a certain forerunner of sorrow.' “I will acquaint you (he says, in a letter of advice to his grandchildren, written in his sixty-fourth year,) with a truth that above forty years' experience and strict observation of myself hath assuredly taught me; I have been near fifty years a man as conversant in business, and that of moment and importance, as most men, and in all this time I have most industriously observed in myself and my concerns these three things: 1:"1. That whensoever I have undertaken any secular business upon the Lord's day, (which was not absolutely and indispensably necessary,) that business never prospered or succeeded with me. Nay, if I had set myself that day but to forecast or design any temporal business, to be done or performed afterwards, though such forecasts were just and honest in themselves, and had as fair a prospect as could possibly be effected, yet I have always been disappointed in the effecting of it, or in the success of it; so that it grew almost proverbial with me, when any importuned me to any secular business that day, that if they expected it to succeed amiss, then they might desire my undertaking it upon that day
that day. And this was so certain an observation to me, that I feared to think of any secular business that day, because the resolutions then taken would be unsuccessful or disappointed.
“ 2. That always the more closely I applied myself to the duties of the Lord's day, the more happy and successful were my businesses and employments of the week following; so that I could, from the strict or loose observation of this day, take a just prospect and true calculation of any temporal successes in the ensuing week.
“3. Though my hands and mind have been as full of secular businesses, both before and since I was a judge, as, it may be, any man's in England, yet I never wanted time in my six days to ripen and fit myself for the businesses and employments. I had to do, though I borrowed not one minute from the Lord's day to prepare for it by study or otherwise. But on the other side, if I had at any time borrowed from this day any time for my secular employments, I found it did further me less than if I had let it alone; and therefore, when some years' experience upon a most attentive and vigilant observation had given me this instruction, I grew peremptorily resolved never in this kind to make a breach upon the Lord's day, which I have strictly observed now for above thirty years; this relation is most certainly and experimentally true, and hath been declared by me to hundreds of persons."
LESSONS FROM NATURAL HISTORY: Next to reading the Word of God, I' consider the most useful and pleasant employment to be that of reading the book of nature, of " looking through nature up to nature's God.” So long as the heavens declare the glory of God," and “ day unto day uttereth knowledge," so long as the sun and moon endureth,” it will be the wisest employment of wise men, and the pleasantest recreation of good men, to study the works of God. Solomon amid all his glory found time for this employment; and "a greater than Solomon” frequently refers to that nature by which we are ever surrounded, in order to adorn and illustrate the glorious truths He taught. He clothed their simplicity in the beautiful imagery of the visible creation; He explained their sublimity by the ordinary operations of nature. And can we do better than follow such an example ? Shall we not, in an age when getting knowledge is considered the principal thing, labour to get such a knowledge of the ways and works of God, as