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his hand out, and the beggar takes the gift (or puts his wallet in the other's hand), or the beggar puts his hand in and the master puts the gift into it, neither has broken the Sabbath (because in these cases, the action is not complete). A woman may go out with false hair, or with wool in her ears, or with a lozenge in her mouth; but if the lozenge falls out, she must not pick it up. Whether a person may go out with a false tooth is disputed : the Sages prohibited it.' • The cripple may go out with his wooden leg ;
but Rabbi José prohibits it.' Paring or biting the nails, or pulling out a hair is unlawful, also plucking a leaf or flower from a plant in a pot, if the flower-pot have a hole in it, but not if it have no hole!
“ With similar minutenėss, all unlawful acts are classified under one or other of the 39 principal occupations;' and the spirit of the Sabbath utterly lost in a wilderness of forms. Matt. xv. 6."
ON CONVENTIONAL FALSEHOOD IN DEVOTION.
By Reb. E. W. Shalders, B.A. TALKING with a clergyman the other day, he mentioned a remarkable sermon which he had heard the Sunday evening before on the words, “ Is there not a lie in my right hand ?” (Isaiah xliv. 20.) He proceeded to describe the sermon as a masterly pourtrayal of the deep and constant inconsistency between the profession and practice of Christian people, and of the insincerity which pervades our whole life, and as justifying the charge against us of living with “ a lie in our right hand.” I ventured to demur to the representation as untrue of most Christians; and a friend, who was a party to the conversation, very appositely recalled the words of the Psalmist, “ I said in my haste, all men are liars.” I went on to say, that while allowing there was a taint of insincerity clinging to many of our words and professions, it seemed to me unjust and not a little mischievous to speak of Christian people as living with a lie in their right hand. Where men are actuated by principle, and guided by right intention, the failures which occur in the attempt to translate their intentions into conduct ought not to be regarded as destructive of their integrity. “ Would it not be unfair to yourself,” I said, “ to say that your life to-day or yesterday has given the lie to all your professions ?” This turned the conversation on to the wider subject of exaggerations in the pulpit, and of confessions of sin in public worship; in reference to which I ventured to affirm there exists a large amount of conventional untruthfulness, so that in this respect many people are constructively chargeable with coming to God with a lie in their right hand. So much for the occasion of this paper.
Perhaps there is no element of acceptable worship more frequently absent from our public services than truth. Partly through the influence of forms of prayer, which have been followed as examples in topics and expression of what all prayer should be, and partly from a regard to
dogmatic considerations, spirit and truth are too commonly severed even in extempore prayers. The spirit of the worshippers is sincere, but the language in which it finds utterance is not merely conventional but untrue. I have been much struck with this when release from duty has permitted me to be a silent worshipper. Often the confession of sin, the promises of repentance, and appeals for mercy have been such as could only be appropriate to a company of sinful men just turning to God, and strangers as yet to the joy of salvation. They have supposed, they could only be true on the supposition, that the congregation had come to the house of God with a load of guilt resting on their consciences, and seeking for reconciliation.
Now, surely this is dishonouring to the Saviour. As regenerate men sin ought to be the exception in our lives and not the rule, yet morning and evening, in family prayers and in public worship, how often do we hear the same sad confessions, as though we had never got beyond “repentance from dead works,” or as though the Saviour had never said, “ He that has bathed needeth not save to wash his feet, and he is clean every whit ” Is it pot of as much consequence that our worship should testify to the victories of Divine grace in the soul as to the original corruption of our nature and the cleansing virtue of the atonement of Jesus Christ? And there never can be anything but spiritual injury in making confessions to which there is no corresponding sense of guilt in the conscience. Often, after hearing some Christian brother in the prayer-meeting deplore the utter sinfulness of our every thought, word, and deed, I have been tempted to challenge him to tell me half-a-dozen known sins of which he had been guilty during the day. It is true that God sees great imperfection in us, and that “ in our flesh,” in our unrenewed nature that is, there dwelleth no good thing, but God's standard cannot be ours because we cannot apprehend it, and there ought to be a great deal of good in those who are born of God. By His grace they are what they are, but it is no longer true of them that there dwelleth in them no good thing.
The denial of the work of Christ's Spirit involved in these exaggerated confessions is not only injurious to spiritual men, but has a mischievous effect on men of the world. They are led to imagine that Christians are just as vain, foolish, and impure in their thoughts, if not as careless in their conduct, as themselves; that holiness of life is altogether impracticable, and that religion consists in nothing else than a perpetual turning upon the pivot of repentance and pardon.
To some persons these observations may seem to lead on to dangerous ground, and to indicate a feeble conviction of the sinfulness of human nature.
Recalling Job's confession of self-abhorrence on obtaining a nearer view of the majesty of God, or Isaiah's “ Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips ;” or Daniel's identification of himself with the sin of his people, they may think that the strongest language is not too strong to express their habitual sinfulness in the sight of God, and that they should rather try to work their feelings up to the height of these expressions than reduce their words to the level of their feelings. Let it be freely admitted that there are times in the experience of every Christian when, either from some sudden discovery of his own sinfulness or from some nearer view of the stainless purity of Divine love, no language will seem strong enough to utter his sense of his own unworthiness; but such experiences cannot be taken for granted as existing in a Christian family or congregation. Surely the language of social and public devotion should, save on exceptional occasions, such as seasons of general humiliation and sorrow, be accommodated to the average states of the Christian life. Truth ought not to be sacrificed to anything else, not even to fervour of devotion. All that is not true in the prayer and praise we offer God to “vox et præterea nihil," and as unspiritual as the incense of the ritualists.
What, then, it may be asked, should be the strain of confession in Christian worship? It should recall the sinfulness of our former state when living in estrangement from God, magnifying His mercy in awakening us to repent and turn to Him; it should deplore the unworthiness of our service, and acknowledge such failings in duty and defects in love and heavenly-mindedness as are not inconsistent with a state of heart which is, on the whole, right towards God. This is as far as a minister, speaking in the name of a Christian congregation, or a head of a family, speaking for his own household, has a right to go.
If the cases of impenitent or of awakened but unbelieving persons are referred to, it should be in prayer for them, not as though theirs was the state of all. There is the temptation to be impressive and appear earnest by the use of strong language, and many seem to think that it is quite a legitimate use of prayer to endeavour, by means of it, to take effect upon those who are listening, to pray at people as well as with them; but reflection must convince any one that such a practice is, to say the least, not very reverent.
The causes which have brought about this custom of using the strongest language of self-condemnation, and the most sweeping accusations of sinfulness in social and public worship, have been already glanced at, but they demand more special mention.
Foremost amongst them stands the anxiety to accept with all humility the Scripture testimony to the depravity of human nature, and to approach God in the spirit of the publican rather than in that of the Pharisee. We sympathise deeply with this anxiety, and should deplore, as one of the greatest of calamities, any weakening of the sense of sin in the consciousness of our Churches, or any dependence on our attainments in righteousness as a ground of justification before God. But concern to maintain this part of the Scripture testimony ought not to betray us into & virtual denial of the reality of God's gracious assistance and our own growth in grace. If we pray in the morning, “ Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin," should we not have something else to say at our evening
worship besides “We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done; and there is no health in us Have mercy upon us miserable offenders ; ... Restore Thou them that are penitent.” If God has heard our morning prayer, and has kept us in temptation, enabled us to discharge our duty with cheerfulness, or strengthened us to meet trial with calmness and resignation, His grace demands our thankful recognition. Truthfulness is quite as precious a part of character as humility. If Christians were, as their devotional language often implies, hourly sinning against God in thought, word, and deed, they would either be unworthy of the name, or the apostle's words, “He that is born of God doth not commit sin," must have some recondite and mystical meaning.
Another cause of this cast of thought in our devotions is (not to go so far back as Augustine's Confessions) regard to the English Liturgy as a model of common prayer. The compilers of the Liturgy recognised the fact that prayers for a Christian congregation can only be composed from a Christian point of view. At the same time they wished to make them suitable to Christians in the earliest stage of spiritual life. The confessions in the daily Offices and in the Litany are therefore framed for those who are repenting of sin and turning to God, or who, having broken their peace, are seeking to be restored to God's favour; they are such, indeed, as any Christian will feel were applicable to his unconverted life, or to backsliders who have lost their roll; but they are not, and ought not to be, suitable to the children of God who are living in His fear all the day. There is a painful inconsistency in praying morning and evening that “ may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,” and never realising such a life as a past experience to be grateful for. It is remarkable that throughout the whole daily service there is not a single note of thanksgiving for what God's grace has wrought in His servants.
Amongst ourselves the use of passages of Scripture uttered by holy men in exceptional circumstances, as when David was deploring his grievous fall, or Isaiah and Jeremiah were bewailing the sins of an apostate people, and their application to the ordinary life of the Church, is a prevalent source of exaggeration. Such is not the strain of the Epistles, nor of most of the Psalms, nor of the Lord's Prayer, and it is not applicable to those who, by their Christian profession, "have escaped the corruption which is in the world, and have been made partakers of the Divine nature.”
Possibly this paper may shock the prejudices of some readers, and they may fear some subtle insinuation of self-righteousness; but let them test these strictures by the New Testament, and see if they are not justifiedwhether the expressions complained of are not among the things which have indeed "a show of wisdom in humility,” but which are in reality opposed to that worship" which is in spirit and in truth."
SUBURBAN LIFE. This article is intended to be tentative, not exhaustive and judicial. Suburban life, in its many aspects, is so important as to demand a careful consideration from all who are interested in our national welfare. Fifty years ago there was such a thing as suburban life; but it was not so important then as it has since become. All our great cities have now their suburban resorts, where the tired, but well-to-do citizens repair from the scenes of their work and care for rest and quiet. But I am mostly concerned about the populous and numerous suburbs of London. as formerly, are Highgate and Blackheath simply dotted here and there with large manorial-looking houses, high-walled, shaded by elms and oaks, and rendered cosy and peaceful with winding ways, and quiet retreats. But these, and hundreds of other places as near, or more remote from Town, are full of dwellings not too large for a man who has no family, nor too expensive for a third-rate City clerk to rent. The suburbs are not now quiet little villages and hamlets with the ten or dozen houses for City gentlemen, and the road-side inn, the straggling way respectfully termed “ the street,” the rude village green, the old church peeping out from the trees, and, perhaps, a village pond. Such villages are not to be found in any number, save at a distance from Town, and can be called suburban only by an effort of the imagination. The present suburban villages have their long streets and roads filled with villas ; and not a few districts have the appearance of little pieces of Town run away into the country. The rapid extension and multiplication of railways has opened up many lonely unfrequented spots around London, and the circle is becoming larger as the years roll on. Some portions of the districts where the commerce and work of London is carried on most vigorously, are well-nigh deserted by the masters and their principal assistants. The clerk has his morning and evening ride as well as his employer.
This is, no doubt, a phase of modern life. It is of no use to attempt to check it; the best thing to do is to take it as it is, and use it well and wisely. At least, it should be pondered and understood. It is worthy of being considered; for it has important bearings in the direction of intellectual, social, political, and religious life. The circumstance that a young man, for instance, goes ten miles out of Town every evening to his home makes an appreciable difference to him in many important respects. He is not the same young man that he would be if he were living in the next street to his office or shop, as his father may have done before him. Nor is he likely to be the same kind of man that his cousin will become who lives in some country town of five thousand in ants. I am not ignoring the truth that a man may be wise and good, if he so will, in any circumstances; but I should be guilty of folly and one-sidedness if I forgot that circumstances have much to do with all our lives, and everything with some of them. There are some aspects of the