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but on the proportion it bears to our gifts and opportunities. You take up a subscription list, and as you read some of the largest sums which are acknowledged in it, you say, “This, and this, and this, how liberal !" It may be so; but before you say much about that, look at the names alongside which they stand. Considering the wealth of the givers, and taking fully into account all other claims they may have to meet, those sums, large as they are, may be the expression of only a poor and feeble love. Looking further down, you might see, under some such modest designation as "a widow's mite," a very small sum; yet, very likely, if the Lord were to put His mark of special approval to any names in such a list, many of the larger givers would be entirely passed by, and His chief praise would be accorded to some who had given very little indeed not, of course, because their gifts were the smallest, but because they indicated a spirit of nobler self-sacrifice, and because they showed a larger love. So it is in respect to Christian work. Has He given a man ten talents? He is not greatly pleased—not pleased at all—if the improvement be only in the proportion of one talent. It is the loving, self-sacrificing effort which the service expresses, and not the service itself, which the Lord accepts; and His highest approval is given to that servant of whom He can say,
“He hath done what he could.” Of all praise, there is none to be compared with Christ's. To the latest day of her life those words of our Lord would sound in Mary's heart like the sweetest music, and fill her with ceaseless delight. Let us always be very humble in the estimate we form of our services. Costly as was Mary's gift, she would think it poor and inadequate as the expression of her love ; and so we must feel that our best services are of small account, and that there is much about them which needs to be forgiven. Still, if our conscience tells us that we have done our best for Christ, let us hear in that the utterance of His gracious and loving approval. If we work for the praise of men we shall have our reward, and a poor thing we shall find it; but we can conceive of no higher satisfaction than, at the end of a day of work for Christ, to feel that He has accepted it : and of all men he is the most blessed to whom, as life closes, the Lord Himself
says, “ Thou hast been a good and faithful servant; enter now into My joy."
The Lord Jesus Christ honours His true servants on earth. He promised to Mary an abiding earthly memory : “ Verily I say unto you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.” Those words describe the longing aspiration of ambitious men of every age, that their deeds should be trumpeted throughout the earth, and that the note should be prolonged for ever. Of numbers who have
cherished such aspirations nothing remains to tell that they ever lived. Their very names have passed as completely away as though they had been written on no other record than the sea-side sand. Even of those who are the best remembered, there is not one who has secured as widespread and enduring a memorial as Mary of Bethany. Men who never heard of Hannibal, or Cæsar, or Napoleon, have heard of Mary, and have called her blessed. So it will be till the last Bible is burnt up in the final flame; and even then her memory will be everlasting. Not any one of us, indeed, can cherish the hope of an enduring earthly remembrance. Little if any mention may be made when we have gone of aught we have done for Christ. Ministers, deacons, workers of every kind, however prominent their spheres of labour, and however efficient their service, are soon forgotten. But if the Lord Jesus Christ loves us, and approves our work, we shall “shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever.” Inspired by hopes like these, let every one of us say, “ Seeking the
, promised grace and help of Christ, I will do for Him what I can.”
To every Man his Talent. No human life is complete in itself. No outfit of individual life and character is full. There is always something wanting in every man's being and condition to supplement existing defects. This fact, as well as the fluctuation of our Providential experience, affords the occasion and the opportunity of a mutual ministry among men, designed to hold the race in the bonds of a close and sympathetic union.
The variety and irregularity of contrasted personal endowments suggest the same relation and duty. We have, each of us, something which we can impart to render another life happier and more complete. And this something we are bound to ascertain and to communicate. We may say, as did the Apostle Peter to his crippled suppliant, “Silver and gold have I none;" but we must add, as he did, “such as I have give I thee."
This word of Peter makes the motto of a truly beneficent life, and rounds out the full ideal of social duty. Our responsibility does not extend to what we have not. No matter how large and sovereign the need which appeals to our charity, our response covers the whole breadth of our obligation when we can say, with willing heart and ready hand, “Such as I have give I thee.” It is not whether we have ten talents or one that determines the plaudit of the Judge at the last. The right and diligent use of the smallest and humblest trusts will, as surely as the same use of the largest, secure in that day the “Well done, good and faithful servant!"
Now, I cannot tell what that one personal gift is which each of you is to
supply in these mutualities. It may be more than one; it is surely one. So equitable is the Divine administration, so universal the prerogative of doing good and communicating, that each of you has some element of help to impart to lives that are, perhaps, far more richly endowed than yours, and yet are deficient in some faculty or force wherein yours abounds. Such as you are, you are necessary to the comfort and happiness of your fellows. God has not made you in vain. You fill a sphere otherwise unfilled. You represent a personal force and ministry otherwise wanting, and the loss of which were a subtraction from human good.
A case of physical infirmity and want appeals to you. If you have “gold,” you may give that. If you have silver," and not gold, bestow that. If you must say with Peter, “Silver and gold have I none,” still there remains to be drawn upon "such as you have." You
may furnish a garment whose newest gloss is gone ; you may offer a plate of food ; you may at least give a kind look and speak a word of sympathy. The tender accents of your voice
may be worth more to the sufferer than another man's shining sovereigns.
One comes to you for counsel in his perplexity. You have neither learning nor eloquence, perhaps. You cannot bring him, for his disturbing question, the decisions of philosophy, set forth in rounded periods. Well, you can tell him a bit of your personal experience, if your feet have ever touched the track of his inquiry ; or you can seek to put yourself in his circumstances, and look with his eyes upon his environment, and tell him what you think you would do in such a pinch ; or you can, at least, while pleading intellectual poverty, show yourself rich in sympathy and brotherly kindness.
A case of sorrow is before you. You cannot restore the joys that are fled, nor bring back the bright face and dear form now for ever absent ; but you can repeat some sweet promise of the Comforter, rehearse some grief of your own on which there fell a heavenly balm, or, if your tongue falter, give a loving grasp of the hand and drop a tear of sympathetic grief.
In the life of the home, it may seem to you that you are the humblest and least important element of the household circle. All right. You have not so large a power to guide and strengthen others as many another member of the group. But you can bring always a gentle presence upon the same, the light of a loving smile, the calmness of patience, the inspiration of hope, the charm of an unselfish spirit. You can take burdens, perhaps, if you annot give gifts.
And everywhere in general society, you can move, not as one for whom the world was made, proclaiming by look and gesture, “Give me room!” but everywhere seeking the happiness and comfort of others at cost of your
Be assured, each of you in the fellowship of the Church, that you have a part to perform in the work of the Church. You may excuse yourself properly from one kind of demonstration, and another, and another ; but something you can do, and such as you have you must give.
A. L. STONE.
WILLIAMS published two works which have greatly promoted his fame ; and they are intimately connected with the two great enterprises of his life.
In a book entitled, “ The Bloudy Tenant of persecution for cause of conscience, discussed in a Conference between Peace and Truth,” he appears as the apostle of civil and religious liberty, and so he does in other works connected with it. The Rev. John Cotton, noticed in a previous paper, was the antagonist of Williams in the controversy; and both of them rang changes upon the revolting epithet “ bloody,” so as to make the use of it all the more revolting. Cotton replied to Williams by writing what he strangely called “ The Bloody Tenet washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb." Williams rejoined in another book, designated, with equally bad taste, “ The Bloody Tenet made more bloody by Cotton's endeavours to wash it white."
The circumstances which suggested to him the unpleasant title is explained in a passage which illustrates his style.
The book is written in the form of a dialogue between Truth and Peace. Truth is introduced, saying :
“It was no milk tending to soul nourishment, even for babes and sncklings, ir Christ. It was no milk spiritually white, like those white horses of the word of truth and meekness, and the white linen, or armour of righteousness in the army of Jesus (Revelation vi. 19). It was in milk, soft, meek, peaceable and gentle, tending both to the peace of souls, and the peace of states and kingdoms.
“The author of arguments against persecution, as I have been informed, being committed by some then unknown close prisoner to Newgate, for the writing of some truths of Jesus, and having not the use of pen and ink, wrote these arguments in milk, on sheets of paper brought to him by the woman, his keeper, from a friead in London, as the stopper of his milk bottle. In such paper written with milk nothing will appear, but the way of reading it by the fire being known to this friend who received the papers, although the author himself could not correct por view what himself had written.
“ Peace. The answer, though I hope out of milky pure intentions, is returned in blood, bloody and slaughterous conclusions, bloody to the souls of all men forced to the religion and worship which any civil state or commonwealth agrees on, and compels all subjects to an undissembled uniformity, bloody to the bodies, first of the holy witnesses of Christ Jesus, who testify against such invented worships; secondly, of the nations and peoples slaughtering each other for their sereral respective religions and consciences.”
Both these books were written and published in 1644, during the author's first visit to England, and the circumstances attending their composition he describes as most unfavourable ; for he says he had to write “in change of rooms and scenes, yea, sometimes in a variety of strange houses, sometimes in the fields, and in the midst of travel.” All this, as well as the fact of its being a professed answer to Cotton's arguments, must be taken into account in our judgment of the remarkable treatise, which is the main pillar of the author's fame. The matter is confusedly arranged; some interpretations of Scripture are such as no modern critic would allow; and some of the arguments are such as no modern reasoner would adopt. There are violations of taste characteristic of the age, and a narrowness of view common among the Puritans. The method pursued is often obscure, the style is frequently crabbed, and to read the whole is very wearisome. But the book contains a trenchant exposure of absurd and unscriptural arguments in support of persecution. It exhibits a good deal of analytical power.
Its home thrusts are, at times, tremendously staggering. A perception of the main points in hand is clear throughout. The author honestly follows out his purpose, and completely demolishes his adversary.
To criticise some of the principles laid down by Williams would be beside the mark, and would involve us in a discussion unfit for these pages ; but we must acknowledge the service which the author has done to the cause he so devotedly loved, and honour the ability with which he accomplished his task.
He was not the first to take up his pen in defence of religious freedom. A Baptist writer, Leonard Busher, had taken the lead in this department of literature. John Robinson had been a pioneer in the same direction, but Roger Williams, perhaps, went beyond them in the breadth of freedom which he vindicated ; and placed the subject upon a deeper and stronger foundation than had been laid before. The cause of toleration is thought by some to be mainly indebted for its prosperity to religious indifference. Certainly the advocates of toleration in the seventeenth century were not men known for their religious indifference, nor did the Revolution of 1688, which placed the liberties of England on a constitutional basis, proceed from any such cause. If any political movement in this country was ever mainly helped on to a successful issue by a religious purpose, it was the Revolution of 1688. It stands as a landmark of religious power in national life. And who were the advocates of toleration before, and at the time of its legal establishment ? Not infidels and sceptics, and men of no religion, but such men as Roger Williams-men to whom religious convictions and aspirations were dearer than life. Cromwell and the Independents, with all their defects, powerfully advanced the interests of freedom in this land ; and they were all intensely religious-fanatically so in the estimation of those who uphold the theory now noticed.
Jeremy Taylor advocated a “Liberty of Prophecy,” and we need not say what Jeremy Taylor was religiously. Milton and Locke, though laymen and broad-thinkers, were deeply and conscientiously religious. Tillotson and Burnet, though to some extent latitudinarians in theology, were devoted to the service of Christianity as sincerely and earnestly as it was possible to be. It is a paradox in philosophy to maintain that full freedom to promulgate religious convictions comes as a result of scepticism in religion ; and the maintenance of such a paradox is no less a contradiction of facts.
Williams published, in 1643, a work entitled “ Key into the Language of America ; or, a Help to the Language of the Natives in that part of America