صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

the increase of crime? What, likewise, is all that the Church has hitherto done in private and in public for counteracting the sin of drnnkenness, which, like a prairie fire, has been raging throughout the land ? Even at the utmost, and that has not been little, may it not fitly be compared to the casting upon it of a few buckets of water? And, if for extinguishing the late terrific conflagration in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a few such buckets or barrels would have been, to say the least, perfectly futile, in what terms may all the efforts of the Church, for extinguishing the liquid fire of drunkenness, as well as of the drink-making, and drink-selling systems, be spoken of

Should not the Church, therefore, in her collective as well as in her individual capacity, not merely “sympathize” with those who are labouring for these ends, but support them in their truly patriotic efforts ?-efforts, no less patriotic than those which are now being made in raising the “Patriotic Fund” for our disabled soldiers and sailors, or for the widows and children of such as are deceased. Or rather, should not the Church take the lead, more than she has hitherto done, in guiding public sentiment on this all-momentous subject; in setting this great moral movement on a thoroughly “ Christian basis ;” and in giving forth no uncertain sound upon this matter, in the way of worldly pursuit as well as of daily practice? For this purpose should not all sections of the Church present one united front not only against drunkenness as a sin, but against trading in intoxicating drink as a Christian pursuit ? Or, if no section of the Church will as a Body so bestir herself, should not professing Christians of every denomination stand unitedly forth as PRACTICAL NON-CONFORMISTS, or CHRISTIAN ABSTAINERS in this most philantropic of enterprises, foot to foot, shoulder to shoulder, hand to hand, and heart to heart; and, in dependence upon the divine blessing, strive not only to turn the tide of popular opinion in a Christian direction, but to gain the co-operation of the whole of their fellow-Christians ?

In this way, if what the State has already done, may be styled “the dawn of a better day for Scotland,” the members of the Church may be instrumental in hastening on that dawn to meridian brightness; and in achieving one of the most glorious triumphs of practical Christianity, or of virtue over vice. Will the State, then, so far do her duty by passing "the publichouse act” for diminishing facilities to drunkenness on the Sabbath; and will not the Church, as a Body, do hers to her own members throughout

the week, as well as on the Sabbath ? Through the strength of Him who has promised to "help her, and that right early,” will she not do infinitely more than ever for suppressing drunkenness, as well as Sabbath profanation ? If she will not, and particularly in connection with public-houses, may she not be said to act like the husbandman, who nursed the serpent that stung him? Or, if she will not, can she be free from sin, or guiltless of the blood of souls? Must not the confession rather be made, “verily we are guilty of the blood of our brother;" and not merely of one, but of many, if not of millions ?

However, altogether apart from the duty of the Church in this matter, by entreating her members to keep free, or to disentangle themselves, from the spirit trade," as a pursuit, let us bear in mind that the Church, as a Body, never gave her consent, or approval, to such an occupation as being a Christian occupation. At the same time, let none soothe their consciences by saying, that when such and such office-bearers do their duty, then we will do ours. For, while we are not to compare ourselves with ourselves," or with others, even with the best, but with the standard of the word, by which we shall at last be tried; need we add, that the

non-performance of duty by one party, cannot be accepted as a pretext or plea, as an apology or justification, for the non-performance of duty by another. On the contrary, for the reasons above stated, as well as from a principle of love to their fellow-creatures and fellow-Christians, and which is one of the most powerful principles of action should not all who call themselves by the name of Christ, “not be conformed to this world” in any pursuit which fosters or facilitates drunkenness, any more than any other sin, although that pursuit is legalized by the State, and likewise prosecuted by officebearers and members of the Church? Should they not be, in this, as in all other things, “not of the world ;” and between them and the men of the world, should there not be, in this sense, also, the greatest difference? With you, my dear readers, who profess to be Christ's, is it so in this respect? Are you, in this pursuit, free from all participation of the sin of others, and likewise “not suffering sin upon them ?” If not, we cannot but add, although with extreme reluctance and the greatest regret, that you are not true practical non-conformists to the world, nor true Christians, and especially in the present times.

CHAPTER XVI.

NON-CONFORMITY TO THE WORLD IN FOSTERING SABBATH PROFANATION.

“ How welcome to the saints, when prest

With six days' noise, and care, and toil,
Is the returning day of rest,

Which hides them from the world awhile."

ONCE more, all true Christians must “not be conformed to this world” by engaging on the Sabbath in any pursuit, which, although lawful on other days, fosters, or facilitates, Sabbath profanation. Like uncleanness and drunkenness, Sabbath profanation is one of the most prevalent sins of the times; and that, not only in the way of practices, but of pursuits; not only in speaking and doing what should neither be spoken nor done, but by engaging, more or less regularly, in occupations, which, on that day, should be abstained from. For, while it is the command of God to all, from the highest to the lowest, “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” it is added, “ six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the

« السابقةمتابعة »