Page images


soul was vexed ;” it would have been better still if it had led him to say, “I can endure this no more, and Sodom I quit for ever," for nothing apparently kept him there save a weak and worldly will.

Lot was rescued from destruction ; nevertheless it was "so as by fire."

His preservation was as much owing to Abraham's intercession as to his own righteousness. And he lost his much-loved possessions. Before he went there his “substance was great,” and with the expectation of making it greater still he had gone toward Sodom ; but that which he valued so highly the angels despised; and therefore whilst he “lingered," reluctant to leave his possessions, perhaps contriving how best he could carry them way, with gentle force they constrained him to depart. I wonder if as he entered Zoar on that eventful morning, bereft of all he loved too well, his heart turned most yearningly to his consuming possessions, or contritely to Him whose wrath he had so narrowly escaped! Alas ! his subsequent history gives no signs of greater faith and holiness. He had been afraid of going where the angels directed him, † as if He who delivered him did not best know where he should go, and would not keep him from danger, if it should arise ; and then, after in compliance with his weak request he was permitted to take refuge in Zoar, fearful, faithless, and vacillating, he went to a region more desolate than that which he had been so reluctant to enter. There he dwelt a miserable recluse in the barren, stern hills of Moab, the reverse of that rich and lovely region which “ lay toward Sodom."

It was most fitting that silence and obscurity should veil the close of such a life, and therefore we have no record of his death.


The Door of the Lips. “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth ; keep the door of my lips.” We have need of the prayer, to guard us against inadvertent words. We often wound the feelings of others, and create hatred and strife, when no harm was intended. Something comes out that was calculated to hit a sensitive spot in a hearer, while the bearing of the word was not perceived by us at the time, and the giving offence by it far from our thoughts ; nevertheless the word was spoken and could not be recalled, and apology would only make the matter worse, and so a consequent coolness or hatred sprang up, where we desired only friendship. Some persons have a special faculty for getting into such difficulties, such as are hasty and impulsive in their speech, persons that are as likely to talk about murder and the gallows with one whose kinsman was hung, as upon any other subject. Such people shelter themselves under the plea that it is their nature to speak right out what they

* “And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the Plain, that God comembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow.”—Gen. xix, 29. Gen, xix. 18-20.

+ Gen. xix. 30.

think, and that they are honest, at least, if not prudent; but it is a duty to be prudent, too, and one who is conscious of his proneness to slips of the tongue, and to blurt out things that ought to be kept in, should not attempt to cover his failing, or to honour it with the name of blunt honesty, but should specially pray against it, and that God would keep the door of his lips.

Inadvertent words, however, are sometimes so evidently without evil intent, that they are readily passed over, but there are words that flow from a wicked heart which need more especially to be watched against. That a man who is kept out of hell only by the mercy of God, should be continually calling on God to damn his own soul and the souls of his fellow-men ; that the child should do it, and the old man, and the sick man on the verge of the grave; that it should be done in a passion, and done also in the coolest moments and the pleasantest moods, seems a mystery of wickedness soluble only by the fact that man is fallen and depraved. And there are words little less sinful uttered by those who would shrink from an oath. Among these we may mention what the apostle calls filthy communications, and which he exhorts us to put away out of our mouths. It is hard to say which is worse, the impure word or the profane word. The swearer may often make no impression save for the moment, while the obscene leaves a defiling stain upon the soul that many waters cannot wash out, nor years wear away. Akin to this is the foolish talking and jesting which Paul also condemns. It is hard to draw the line between reasonable and sinful indulgence here. To say that all joking and mirthful jests are wrong is absurd. The quick-witted reply, and humorous word, when springing forth kindly and without oifence, are enlivening, and the proof of life ; but the habitual jester, who bends all his powers to the paltry end of exciting a laugh, is all froth, relished by none, and healthful for none. Gravity, sound speech, words seasoned with grace, are commended of God, and may safely be allowed to pass by the watch at the door of the lips ; but fun-papers and fun-makers had better ask His closer scrutiny.

Clamorous words, wrathful, testy, peevish, bitter, sneering words, curt speaking and detraction, are answerable for large measures of human misery. Anger, says Chrysostom, rides upon noise as upon a horse ; still the clamour and the rider are in the dust. A sharp temper and a high-keyed voice in a wife and mother are enough to drive out all comfort from home, and to make even the bar-room and its company a desired, if not a desirable refuge. And we should be specially careful of our words in the day of trouble, or of illhealth, or of bad condition of body, for then we are like the hot springs of Iceland, that need only the provocation of a bit of turf thrown in, to return steam and scalding water and showers of stones. We are sometimes like matches ready to take fire at a touch, and hardly safe to be dropped about anywhere.

Words of detraction and slander require the watch. It is not all mention of a neighbour's faults and deeds that is wrong, for we cannot but notice gross faults ; and to speak of them in a proper spirit may be perfectly right, and needful for self-defence and the good of society. The sin and wrong



occurs in being quick to see and publish faults, magnifying them, imagining them, meddling with them when it is none of our business to do so, and speaking of them with promptings of envy, resentment and rivalry. A slanderous tongue moves as naturally in the element of hatred as a fish in the water. One who loves his neighbour as himself, and seeks to do unto others as he would they should do unto him, can hardly be a slanderer. The mischief of detraction springs from a mean, unloving spirit, soured by disappointment, fretted by envy, urged on by meddlesomeness and miserable curiosity. When one with such a frame goes from house to house with the preface : They say, or they do say, but I don't know how true it is, that this man drinks; or, that man and his wife don't live very pleasantly together ; or, that man did not come by his money very honestly ; or, this woman is no better than she should be-it is very probable that then a busybody and slanderer is at work who greatly needs the prayer,

“ Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth ; keep the door of my lips.”

The tongue can no man tame. God subdues it by cleansing and regulating the heart, and then, when the fountain is cleased, the streams will be pure. When we are tempted to say something, but conclude it is as well or better not to say it, or when we put a mild word in place of an angry one, we may know that God's watchman is at his post doing his duty. Leighton remarks, “that David does not ask God to build up a wall before his mouth, and close it entirely, but to set a watch before it as before a door which is open and shut continually."



Popery-Past and Present.* Our enterprising friends, Messrs. Cassell, Petter and Galpin, are doing the best possible service to the cause of truth and of political freedom by the issue of such works as the “ History of Protestantism ;” and that such books—books requiring a large outlay of capital in their production-should be sufficiently popular to be remunerative is so far satisfactory that they are an antidote to Ritualism, as well as the most unanswerable proof that рорегу is still abhorrent to the English mind. No villany has ever been too black to find its sanctuary within the pale of Romanism ; and the most devil-like men who have ever disgraced our species have been the much-prized servants of the system while their services have been beyond measure lauded and rewarded. We have only to instruct people in the history of popery to teach them to hate her as the brazen-faced harlot of Babylon, drunken with the blood of the saints. Though a stupendous fabric of self-righteousness, it should be carefully noted how egregiously the apostate church has failed in exempli. fying even the first principles of morality. Popery is pre-eminently an immoral system ; and from the noon of her ascendency in the dark ages until the present time she has nurtured and watered the common vices of

* “ The History of Protestantism.” By J. A. Wylie, LL.D. Vol. I. Petter and Galpin.



man, so that they have thrived with a deadly luxuriance such as might woll astonish the powers of darkness themselves. We believe also in the enchtional efficacy of the engraver's art in common with the pub}ishers & Dr. Wylie's History. Faithfully sketch popery by pen and pencil, and the #. will then be made to carry with it its own cure. As an author Dr. Wylie is more solid than picturesque ; and his sentences are frequently too highsounding to be written by any one who had not gone to school to Johann and Gibbon while forming a style. Still the materials of the work are brought together with commendable industry; truth is not sacritics te effect, and the engravings with which the work is embellished forza si admirable picture history of the great conflict between Protestantists and Popery-light and darkness.

After the fierce endeavours of heathenism to crush it out of existence had failed, the Gospel spread rapidly in the world. A genial spring succeeded a dismal trying winter, and the growth of the churches was corresponding'y rapid. As it commonly happens, the dangers of prosperity proved me formidable than were those of adversity. As they became invested with authority unbecoming their order the pastors assumed more of the pump of the cleric, seeking self-aggrandisement before the glory of their MasturFor a thousand years preceding the Reformation the obscurities which sacerdotalism put in the way of the Gospel continued in a lesser or greater degree. In proportion as the Bible was neglected superstition strengthener her stakes, faith was superseded by unmeaning rites, while reverente før men clad in ecclesiastical vestments took the place of the simple piety of a

former age.

When the tide of Paganism swept up from the north, the wily ecclesiasties were shrewd enough to escape the general ruin ; indeed they allied thensselves with the rude invaders in a manner which showed that they were masters of worldly policy :

" From this time the growth of the Popedom was rapid indeed. The state of society favoured its development. Night had descended upon the world from the north ; and in the universal barbarism, the more prodigious any pretensions wete, the more likely they were to find both belief and submission. The Goths, ante arriving in their new settlements, beheld a religion which was served by magnificent cathedrals, imposing rites, and wealthy and powerful prelates, presided over by a. chief priest, in whose reputed sanctity and ghostly authority they found again their own chief Druid. These rude warriors, who had overturned the throne of the Cæsars, bowed down before the chair of the popes. The evangelisation of these tribes was a task of easy accomplishment. • The Catholic faith,' which they begae to exchange for their Paganism or Arianism, consisted chiefly in their being able to recite the names of the objects of their worship, which they were left to aders with much the same rites as they had practised in their native forests."

Built upon this its self-chosen foundation, popery, as popery, faris ved, while true piety had but few examples, and hid its head in secluded works. away from the threatening gaze of worldly ecclesiastics. At lengts the eagerly-sought triumph was achieved. States were subject to the Church, in the eleventh century Pope Hildebrand assumed the honours of God apon earth ; and it was before this pontiff's castle-gates that Henry IV. of Germany


stood barefoot for three days and nights in wintry weather to avert the penalties of an excommunication.

But let the truth ever be remembered, that when, in the earlier stages of their ambition, the bishops of Rome broke away from the moorings of the true faith, they were far from being universally followed in their apostasy. Numbers of leading divines can be readily mentioned who maintained no sort of an alliance with Rome. The renowned Ambrose, who for nearly a quarter of a century ruled the great diocese of Milan, was about as sound in the faith as are our Protestant leaders of the present day. Laurentius, who succeeded to the see of Milan in the next century, held substantially identical opinions. In A.D. 590 the Bishop of Rome was spurned as a false teacher by a number of other prelates. We might even point to Columba of our own Iona, and to Patrick in Ireland as exemplars of pure Gospel teaching. Even in the ninth century there were not wanting bold exponents of the truth, e.g. :

The mantle of Ambrose descended on Claudius, Archbishop of Turin. This man beheld with dismay the stealthy approaches of a power which, putting out the eyes of men, bowed their necks to the yoke, and bent their knees to idols. He grasped the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and the battle which he so courageously waged, delayed, though it could not prevent, the fall of his church's independence; and for two centuries longer the light continued to shine at the foot of the Alps. Claudius was an earnest and an indefatigible student of Holy Scripture. That Book carried him back to the first age, and set him down at the feet of Apostles-at the feet of One greater than Apostles; and while darkness was descending on the earth, around Clauile still shone the day.”

Yet when popery became something like dominant, the Waldensian Church shone as a bright light in the valleys of the Alps. The Waldenses were the working church of their day; and they are supposed to have read the New Testament in the vulgar tongue. In the guise of pedlars the evangelists went stealthily forth two and two, to traverse far and wide the countries overshadowed by their native mountains. Rome also had her enemies in the Paulicians and the Albigenses ; and in the opening years of the thirteenth century we see the Pope Innocent the Third, by every iniquitous agency under his command, making a too successful endeavour to annihilate religion in the world. Innocent III. was as fair an exponent of the papacy as history affords ; and this confession implies that was crafty, unprincipled and cruel. It was he who marshalled all the fanatics of Europe to serve in a war of extermination, bribing them by indulgences and promises of paradise. The territory of the Albigenses, destined to be utterly ruined by the cruel invaders, is thus described :

“The France of those days, instead of forming an entire monarchy, was parted into four grand divisions. It is the most southerly of the four, or Narbonne-Gaul, to which our attention is now to be turned. This was an ample and goodly territory, stretching from the Dauphinere Alps on the east to the Pyrenees on the southwest, and comprising the modern provinces of Dauphine, Provence, Languedoc or Gascogne. It was watered throughout by the Rhone, which descended upon it from the north, and it was washed on its southern boundary by the Mediterranean. Occupied by an intelligent population, it had become under their skilful husbandry

« PreviousContinue »