The more the diamond is cut the brighter it sparkles; and in what seems hard dealing, there God has no end in view but to perfect His people.
As in nature, as in art, so in grace; it is rough treatment that gives souls, as well as stones, their luster.
To save a ship from sinking, we must first find the leak. Temptations, like noxious weeds, are best killed by putting the knife to their root; nor will the stream of our thoughts, and wishes, and desires ever be sanctified till the salt, as at Jericho, is cast into the spring. Let us see, therefore, where the springs and sources of sin lie.
Courted by the great, Chalmers' sympathies lay with the masses. Their oppression roused him like a lion; their neglect stirred his indignation; their sufferings touched his soul with such tender pity that the horrors of the Irish and Highland famines were like to break his heart. He loved mankind. His aspirations were not to drag the upper classes down to the level of the lower, but to improve the economic, educational, moral and religious condition of the lowest stratum of society; and so, as when the base of the pyramid is raised, to raise all the courses of the superstructure up to the royalty - sitting high on the throne.
We want a religion that, not dressed for Sundays and walking on stilts, descends into common and everyday life; is friendly, not selfish; courteous, not boorish; generous, not miserly; sanctified, not sour; that loves justice more than gain; and fears God more than man; to quote another's words - "a religion that keeps husbands from being spiteful, or wives fretful; that keeps mothers patient, an...d children pleasant; that bears heavily not only on the 'exceeding sinfulness of sin,' but on the exceeding rascality of lying and stealing; that banishes small measures from counters, sand from sugar, and water from milk-cans" - the faith, in short? and whose fruit is works.
For some years after coming to Edinburgh, I rose, summer and winter, at five o'clock. By six, I had got through my dressing and private devotions, had kindled my fire, and prepared and enjoyed a cup of coffee, and was set down at my desk; having, till nine o'clock when we breakfasted, three unbroken hours before me. This, being my daily practice, gave me as much as eighteen hours in each week, and instead of Friday or Saturday - the whole six days to ruminate on and digest and do the utmost justice in my power to my sermon. A practice this, I would recommend to all ministers whether in town or country.
Why look at the shadow when you possess the substance? What artist studies a landscape in sombre twilight, when he may see the blaze of day? True ? true at least in general. Yet? such study has it advantage. It not seldom happens that a portrait brings to view some shade of expression which had not previously observed in the face of the veritable man; and when some magnificent form of architecture, or the serried ridges and rocky peaks of a mountain, have stood up between us and the lingering lights of day, we have found, that although the minor beauties of fluted columns or frowning crags were lost in the shades of the evening, yet, drawn in sharp and clear outline against an evening sky, the effect of the whole was even more impressive that when eyed with the glare of the day. Thus it may be well, occasionally, at least, to examine the Gospel in the broad shadows and strongly defined outlines of an old economy.
His son indeed does not go up and down heaven weeping, wringing his hands, and, to the amazement of silent angels, crying, ?Would God I had died for man!? A more amazing spectacle is here. He turns his back on heaven; he leaves the bosom and happy fellowship of his Father, he bares his own innocent love never to be fathomed, he dies that accursed tree, ?the just for the unjust, that we might be saved!?
You may know how little God thinks of money by observing on what bad and contemptible characters he often bestows it.
I do not say that religious men have never cherished an exclusive and narrow spirit. I admit that some excellent men have done so. Still, it is not religion to speak bitterly of those who differ from us; it is not religion to minister at the alter with ?strange fire;? it is not religion to serve the cause of a loving God with unlovely passions; it is not religion to defend Christ?s crown with weapons other than His own sword; it is not religion to be serious on light, and great on little things; it is not religion to exalt points to the place of principles; it is not religion to contend as earnestly for forms of worship as for the faith of the gospel; it is anything but religion to dip our pens in gall, to give the tongue unbridled license, and so to speak of others as to recall the words of others as to recall the words of Scripture ? Their teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.
I have known a father turn his step-daughter to the street at night--bidding the sobbing girl who bloomed into womanhood, earn her bread there as others were doing. I have bent over the foul pallet of a dying lad to hear him whisper how his father and mother --who were sitting half-drunk by the fireside--had pulled the blankets off his body to sell them for drink. I have seen children whitened like plants growing in a cellar...when they cry they are not kissed but beaten... I don't recollect of ever seeing a mother in these wretched dwellings bouncing her infant, or of hearing the little creature crow or laugh as he leapt with joy. There, infants have no toys; and mothers smiles are rare as sunshine.
I wandered... whole days without ever seeing a Bible, or indeed any book at all. I often stood in rooms bare of any furniture; where father, mother, and half a dozen children had neither bed nor bedding, unless a heap of straw and dirty rags huddled in a corner could be called so. I have heard the wail of children crying for bread, and their mother had none to give them.
In these old Scotch manners there might be, and indeed was, a strictness which gave an air of severity to the observance of Sunday, but in the duties we owe either to God and man, it is even better to lean to the side of scrupulousness than laxity: and I may remark here, that Scotland and her children owe much to the manner in which they were taught to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
It is a dreadful thing to close the door against any man?s or woman?s reformation. Religion calls us to hold it open to the worst, even as God holds it open to us who can ? knowing more ill of ourselves than we can know of others ? and ought to say with Paul, ?This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
It is they who glorify, who shall enjoy Him; they who deny themselves, who shall not be denied; they who labor on earth, who shall rest in heaven; they who bear the cross, who shall wear the crown; they who seek to bless others, who shall be blessed.
It was at my mother?s knees that I first learned to pray; that I learned to form a reverence for the Bible as the inspired word of God; that I learned to hold the sanctity of the Sabbath; that I learned the peculiarities of the Scottish religion; that I learned to regard the principles of civil and religious liberty, which have made me hate oppression, and whether it be a pope, or a prelate, or a patron, or an ecclesiastical demagogue, resist the oppressor.
Never mistake the dead robes for the living body of religion. Never forget that ?to do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly before God,? is what the Lord requires of thee; that faith without works is dead; that form without spirit is dead; and that, the highest piety being ever associated with the deepest humility, true religion is like the sweetest of all singing-birds, the skylark, which with the lowest nest but highest wing dwells in the ground, and yet soars to the skies.
Paris is the best place in the world for pursuing any science, saving those of morality and religion.
Scatter money in a crowd, how they scramble for it; offer bread to the starving, how greedily they seize it; throw a rope to the drowning, how he eagerly grasps it! With like eagerness and earnestness may the Spirit of God help you to lay hold on Christ.
Separate the atoms that form a hammer, and in that state of minute division they would fall on a stone with no more effect than snowflakes. Weld them into a solid mass, and swung round by the quarryman?s brawny arm, they descend on the rock like a thunderbolt.
Heaven is the day of which grace is the dawn, the rich, ripe fruit of which grace is the lovely flower; the inner shrine of that most glorious temple to which grace forms the approach and outer court.
You are so to put forth the power that God has given you; you are so to give, and sacrifice to give, as to earn the eulogium pronounced on the woman, "She hath done what she could." Do it now. It is not a safe thing to leave a generous feeling to the cooling influences of a cold world. If you intend to do a mean thing, wait till tomorrow; if you are to do a noble thing, do it now,--now!
I bless God for cities.—They have been as lamps of life along the pathways of humanity and religion.—Within them, science has given birth to her noblest discoveries.—Behind their walls, freedom has fought her noblest battles.—They have stood on the surface of the earth like great breakwaters, rolling back or turning aside the swelling tide of oppression.—Cities, indeed, have been the cradles of human liberty.—They have been the active sentries of almost all Church and state reformation.
I have four good reasons for being an abstainer—my head is clearer, my health is better, my heart is lighter, and my purse is heavier.