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Thy gifts, alas! cannot suffice,
Unless Thyself be given ;
And where Thou art is heaven." Nor should we leave out of our meditations the astonishing works and wonderful providence of our glorious God. David used to muse on the works of God's hand. When only a shepherd boy, watching his father's sheep, he used to lie down and consider the heavens, the work of God's fingers, and the moon and stars which God had ordained ; and wonder at God's infinite condescension in being mindful of His puny creature, man, and at His goodness in giving to the children of men dominion over all the works of His hand. He meditated also on God's wonders in the deep, blue sea, and contemplated the wisdom and power of God in lifting up the waves thereof to heaven, and in forcing them down again to the depths. He also frequently turned his thoughts to the earth, and enumerated the amazing number and astonishing variety of the productions of God by which he was surrounded ; and, to his delight, he found that the earth was full of God's riches.
David also meditated on the providence of God, and has given us thoughts that breathe in words that burn illustrating this in the protection of travellers in an Eastern desert, in the restoration of men from affliction, in the deliverance of sailors from a watery grave, in making provision for the wants of every living thing, in the humbling of proud oppressors, in delivering pool slaves from the tyrant's grasp, in setting the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock; and he declares, “ Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.”
David especially meditated upon God's providential dealings with His Church, and has recorded in matchless Psalms the mercies of
to His ancient people, and the judgments He inflicted on them for their sins. The dealings of God with His Church are especially worthy of our devout meditations. We call upon our young people to make themselves acquainted with Church history. The works of Josephus are well worthy our study; and the history of the Church of Christ has been ably written by Jones, Milner, Mosheim and Neander. Read's “Hand of God in History” is well worthy the study of every devout Christian, and of every young person who wishes to become acquainted with the dealings of God, and His designs concerning our race.
But we should especially fix our meditations on Him who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, &c. We should meditate on the glory He had with the Father before the world began. We should consider deeply the prophecies concerning Him, the types which portrayed His character and work—His incarnation in Bethlehem, His eventful life, His wondrous teachings, His fervent prayers, His astonishing miracles, His bright example, His unparalleled sufferings, His ignominious death, His glorious resurrection, His high exaltation, His ever living and ever prevalent intercession, and the predictions concerning His second coming to judgment. We should meditate upon the grand ends of His mediation—the glory of God and the salvation of man. We should meditate on Christ Jesus, because through Him we can obtain the most correct and worthy views of the Godhead. Every prophecy concerning Jesus, every type which prefigured Jesus, every word that came from the lips of Jesus, every action in the life of Jesus, every circumstance connected with the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, is worthy of the deep, serious, and frequent meditation of every child of God; and only as we think of Him can we obtain or retain the favour of God, the power of godliness, and the hope of glory.
Nor must we leave out of our meditations the office and work of the Holy Spirit. He is the enlightener, converter, purifier, strengthener, defender, and comforter of God's people. His work is as honourable, as glorious, as important, as the work of Christ, and demands our deep and constant study. We must think much of the Spirit and His work, or we shall soon grieve the Holy Spirit of God, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption. Quench not the Spirit by inattention to His operations on your heart.
We have thus indicated topics for meditation, in order to convince
you that there never can be any lack of matter for thought on God while life lasts or immortality endures. The more we think on God, the more shall we desire to think on Him. Could we persuade you to meditate on God daily, we doubt not that you would rapidly increase in faith and love, in hope and zeal, in usefulness and bliss. Meditate, then, on the deep things of God, give yourselves wholly to them, that your profiting may appear unto all. Amen!
The sun-dial upon a cloudy day will yield no response to your weary waiting inquiry as to the hour ; but when once the sun shines forth upon its face, its figures are straightway true monitors of the passing time, and you have teaching and warning. So without Christ the Holy Scriptures are silent; but in His light they are the voice of God appealing to the soul.
PRAYER AND THANKSGIVING.
(1 Thess. v. 5, 17, 18.)
Cast doubt and fear away ;
Thy sin and guilt confess,
Ask Him thy soul to bless,
“Pray without ceasing : " pray
By night as well as day ;
Then, tell Him of thy wants,
Till He in mercy grants
With prayer let thanks ascend
To that Almighty Friend,
He will not thee forsake,
But to His glory take,
When thou art meet for thy reward.
THINGS THAT Concern Us.
The snggestion of a correspondent that THINGS THAT CONCERN Us must have "serious relapses,” may be somewhat true, but not that they are “capricious ones.” To those who can judge only from the outside view, the deepest purpose and the best-considered plan may seem mere caprice, and yet there may be an apposite reply in the sententiousness of England's greatest literary sage when he said of one whose outward actions were being misunderstood, “ Though this be madness, yet there's method in't." It is quite evident, however, that our friendly critic, whose opinion has come to us in a rather roundabout, irregular way, is glad that, though there are serious relapses, there is in us a recuperative power which now and then springs up and gives a sign of soundness. For he goes on to say, “ Why the article appears some months and not in others is a question that I am sure ought to concern somebody. Its appearance aids in making the Magazine contemporaneous with what some of us are thinking and talking about and working for. It puts new present-day life into our serial. We feel we have got things for the time, and that will not fit any other time so well. . . . Let us have things that concern us in the Magazine in all shapes, and it will prosper, and wield the power God intends literature to wield in these modern years.” This latter sentiment admirably chimes in with the view independently expressed by the Editor in his OCCASIONAL Notes last month: “ We only echo the reiterated and ever-recurring wish of our subscribers, when we ask for present-day papers, dealing in a Christian spirit with current thought, duty, and facts; intent on guiding, strengthening, and sanctifying daily life, and doing this in essays lively and short.” We purposely repeat these views. They ought to be pondered by us. “We hope, too, the Con. ference will give adequate time to the important question of the circulation of the magazines, and especially of the relative support given to our Books room by Circuits.” If among the circuits which have retrogressed in this matter are some of " our largest and most influential ones," the causes want a thorough investigation. A resolution on the subject was carried at the last Conference, which we trust will lead to something practical. It is somewhat as follows:
“That the serious attention of Conference be drawn to the fact that the circulation of the Juvenile Magazine had gone down by about 800 copies per month; and that the Conference at once appoint & committee to examine the district schedules, to ascertain in which societies and schools the Connexional periodicals are neglected, the committee to report to Conference as early as possible, with a view to a further discussion of the whole subject." Still —to use words uttered at the last Conference-we must be careful “not to legislate this institution to death, nor to bind the Editor hand and foot with the grave clothes of mere resolutions." Resolutions may be good, but loyal and laborious action on the part of all will be better.
The Near Approach of Conference is stimulating, and possibly may have something to do with this partial recovery from our "serious relapse.” There is a stirring influence in April, May, and June. They are Conference months. They are the spring, rather than the autumn, of the Connexional year. Showery April -this year particularly sharp and gusty-first brings Conference in view; and, before it is over, by its searching analysis of previous work—its quarterly meetings, its return of members, its appointment of representatives, its awakenment of fever in probationary blood, and its arrangements for the coming year—may be said to bring Conference on the brain; for who can think or talk of anything else? Then comes sun. shiny May, sustaining the excitement as we canvass for “Conference subscriptions,” prepare our schedules, and anxiously await the verdict of the district meetings after their exhaustive review of Church statistics, ministerial standing, and circuit finance. The crown and consummation of our ecclesiastical year is by the Conference in blooming June, when “the tribes go up," and for a brief season enjoy the paradise of brotherly communion, of rich hospitality, and of mutual rejoicing over the spiritual fruitfulness of the year. As “the chosen tribes go up" it is pleasant for them to remember how eagerly they are followed by the devout aspirations and wishes, the benedictions and prayers of those who have to linger at home.
APRIL QUARTERLY MEETINGS.—So far as we can gather at present the returns of our April quarterly meetings have been generally cheering. Many circuits report an increase, and we may reasonably hope that we shall still renew and perpetuate those annual Connexional increases which have been our joy of recent years.
There are exceptions. A few ministers and churches have that saddest of summings-ap-a net loss on the year. We deeply sympathise with them. We know they would have had it otherwise. It is a grief both to them and to the One dear to them to have to say, “ Master, we have toiled all the year and have taken nothing." But He comes near, cheers them with hope for the future, and is ready to guide them to a grander result: "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” He will give them the chance of another year, a year in which, if they follow His guidance, there shall be no chance, but the Divine certainty ::.“ Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.” Brother! discouraged you may be ; “nevertheless at His word let down the net,” and, like the disciples, you, and "all that are with you, shall be astonished at the draught of the fishes you shall take” during your next earnest and united haul of the Gospel net. May it be said of us, as of the disciples, "And they forsook all and followed Him." This we must do to become true fishers of men.
One word as to the District MEETINGS. Let us try to characterise them by spiritual power and productiveness, as well as by the scrutinising fidelity which deeply searches into questions of membership and finance. There ought to be more popular interest and attractiveness in their religious services. As these Notes may reach our readers in time, we would again urge ministers and representatives to arrange for autumnal district meetings (on a wider basis of popular representation) at which the spiritual condition and appliances of our Churches and schools may be more fully discussed than they can be at the May meetings. This is already done in the Dudley and Manchester districts, and has been fruitful of good. In the latter district is also a fraternal association of all the ministers, who meet once a quarter " for friendly intercourse, for the consideration of topics affecting their work and the success of the cause of God.” Once a year they sacredly join in the communion of the Lord's Supper; and to them also the May District Meeting usually commits the detailed arrangements for the more popularly-attended district meetings or conventions in the autumn.
“In Christ when brethren join,
And follow after peace,
He promises to bless :
The Last Sheffield Gonference was held in 1870, and its genial President, the Rev. Thos. Smith, who is still spared to us, surpassed himself in the sprightly humour and skill with which he guided its delicate deliberations. It was a time of anxiety