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their kind friends outside, who had assisted them so munificently. They still needed help to pay off their debt. They were not able of themselves to do much, but they would do what they could. Like the good woman whom her sons discovered following them, when they were on the way to Drumclog, and asked her, What could she do there ? “Do,” said she, and flourishing the tongs over her head, “I can let them see what side I am on,"—they would, at least, let people see they were on the Lord's side. John Robertson, Esq., Rev. J. M'Dermid, A. M‘Keith, Esq., and Rev. Jas. Wells, afterwards addressed the meeting.
DARVEL.—PRESENTATION TO REV. M. G. EASTON, A.M. On the 3d ult., a deputation from the female classes in connection with the Darvel congregation waited upon Rev. M. G. Easton, and presented him with a copy of Bagster's Bible, and also another for Mrs Easton, in token of their esteem and of their gratitude for his labours among them. SERMON AT THE "COMMUNION STONES
OF IRONGRAY, BY REV. W. MILROY, PEN PONT. On Sabbath, August 29, a meeting was held at Skeoch Hill for sermon and worship. The day was highly favourable, and about a thousand people were present. Rev. W. Milroy, Penpont, began the services by singing the 100th Psalm. After prayer he prefaced the 110th Psalm. The Ilth chapter of Hebrews was read, and then Mr Milroy preached from Galatians vi. 14—"God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Dumfries Standard characterises the sermon as very suitable and able. After praise and prayer the preacher made a statement regarding the great conventicle that had been held on the spot wellnigh two hundred years ago. In conclusion, the preacher expressed a hope that the “Stones” might never be disturbed, and that money sufficient to enclose the spot, and erect a simple but sufficient monument, would be speedily obtained. “We understand,” says the Standard, “that the collection amounted to £11:13s.; and we are sure there are many willing to contribute a little, so as to double this sum, and thus realise a fund that would be ample for all the required purposes. The treasurer is Mr Thomas Maxwell, Cornlea, Irongray, who, we confidently hope, will be able in a few weeks to report that sufficient money has been obtained to carry out with complete success the praiseworthy movement that has been so ably initiated by Mr Milroy."
COLLECTION FOR MINISTERIAL SUPPORT FUND. By appointment of Synod, the Annual Collection on behalf of the Ministerial Support Fund is to be made in all our congregations on the first Sabbath of this month, or as soon thereafter as convenient. The vital importance of this Scheme to the well-being and efficiency, not to say the continued existence, of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, is fully known to all the members. At this time increased support is absolutely necessary, in order that the operations of the Committee may be carried on; and, as it depends wholly on the public collection for the necessary funds, it is hoped that the various congregations will contribute liberally.
Printed by CHARLES Gibson, at his Printing Office, 18 Thistle Street, and Published by
Jounstone, Hunter, & Co., at their Warehouse, 2 Melbourne Place, Edinburgh.
Of the various painful experiences of God's people, few, we fear, are more common than what is called spiritual darkness, or the hiding of God's face. The degree in which it exists varies in different cases.
In some it may assume a very distressful form, and bring to the very verge of despair. The light which visited their soul at their conversion, and on many subsequent occasions, has fled, and they are in darkness. Their joy in God is gone;
their sense of the Divine favour is almost or wholly extinguished, and they can no longer look up in His blessed face and say Father. When they pray they are disturbed with bitter reflections; they fear they have not the spot of God's children; and they feel as if the heavens over their head were iron, and their prayers could not pass through. With the afflicted Patriarch of Uz, they exclaim, “O that it were with me as in months past; when the candle of the Lord shone upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness.” They may even think they have committed the unpardonable sin ; that God hath forgotten to be gracious, and His mercy is clean gone for ever; and as for them, there is nothing but a fearful looking-for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall consume them as adversaries of God.
Or the distress may not be so deep. There may be the want of freedom and comfort in the exercises of religion,-little or no peace, -no filial liberty in approaching God, -no sensible communion with Him at the throne. There is the apprehension that God is displeased, and at a distance. The light of His countenance, in which we have walked, is obscured; we look up, and all seems cloud or darkness; we look in, and the graces which we once thought we had we can no longer discern; we look forward, and we fear, unless some great change take place, it will go hard with us at the coming day. Faults are discovered of which we had formerly no knowledge, corruptions which we thought well-nigh subdued seem to have acquired double energy, and the evidences of penitence, faith, and love, are nowhere discernible. We know not what to think of ourselves; we half suspect we have heretofore been deceiving our own souls, and self-accusation, doubt, and fear, rule the hour. We are ready to say, “We are cast out from thy sight.” Such are some of the aspects of this sad spiritual state: the hiding of the light of God's countenance,—the mental gloom and darkness of God's children. Now what are some of its causes ?
Sometimes the cause is constitutional, arising from a gloomy temperament, which is ever disposed to look at the dark shades of life, to the neglect of its brighter lights. We often meet with such in the ordinary intercourse of society. They are of a desponding rather than hopeful cast of mind; they can hardly think that success will attend their efforts in any field of labour; they are always fearful of failure, always expecting evil tidings rather than good. Now such persons are the same in religious as in secular matters; they carry the same disposition into the affairs of heaven as of earth. They will reason most ingeniously against themselves, and draw the most dismal conclusions as to their spiritual state and prospects. They are so much afraid of deceiving themselves by judging too favourably of their character, that they do themselves injustice by judging too unfavourably. They pertinaciously brood upon the facts and circumstances that tell against them, and shun the consideration of those that make for them. They refuse to be comforted, and go mourning without the light of the sun. Such, I fancy, was the pilgrim, Mr Fearing. He got over the Slough of Despond, but when he was over he would scarcely believe it. "He had,” says Bunyan, "a slough of despond in his mind,-a slough that he carried everywhere with him, or else he could never have been as he was.” And such also seems to have been Heman, the Ezrabite, so often appealed to as an illustration of a child of light walking in darkness. “I am afflicted,” says he, “and ready to
" die, from my youth up." His ailment was not occasional, it was habitual; may we not say constitutional ?" From my youth up."
At other times these clouds on the soul may arise from painful dispensations in Providence. Though in theory we may avoid the
error of Job's friends, and deny the inseparable connection between great suffering and great sin, yet in practice we are ready to fall into it both in regard to ourselves and others. We are afflicted by the righteous appointment of our Heavenly Father; our business does not prosper; our efforts to obtain a decent livelihood are often defeated; the persons whom we love as our own soul are kept long in the furnace, or are hidden in the dark grave from our sight; or we ourselves are visited by severe and protracted illness,--" chastened all day long, and plagued every morning.” Wherefore all this? we ask. The righteous Lord must be specially displeased
We must have been sinning grievously against Him-far more than we had ever dreamt of. Perhaps we have been deluding ourselves with the mere form of godliness and denying its power; we have been playing the hypocrite, and now our sin is finding us out. Alas! for us, we say. We are as we were, unchanged in state and character, enemies to God, and alienated in our minds by wicked works. The great business of our salvation is yet to begin. We are still in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
Very frequently the true cause of spiritual darkness is indistinct views of the Gospel. The Gospel, as a message of pure mercy, as a free and full offer of present pardon and life, is the true liberator of souls. It is it that breaks the bars of our prison, that strikes off our fetters and sets us free. Witness Luther!
Witness Luther! What timidity, , what craven fear, what wasting mental anguish afflicted him when groping his way into light, when he knew the law with its claims and threatenings, but was almost ignorant of the Gospel with its gifts and promises ! But when the truth was clearly apprehended, —when he saw that the just enter into life, and continue in life, by faith,—from that moment he was a new man, breathed the air of freedom, exulted with joy, was bold as a lion in God's service, and became the deliverer of thousands of enslaved souls. Many are in distress, I say, because they do not understand the provinces of law and grace,--because they are ever confounding Mount Sinai with Mount Zion, because they see not distinctly what is implied in that triumphant utterance of the Saviour upon the cross, “It is finished.” Oh! if such doubting, troubled souls could but clearly perceive that the work of redemption was finished upon Calvary, —that their glorious Substitute wrought out for them there not a partial but a complete salvation; and that they have but to come as they are to receive Him, and all with Him, pardon and purity, and strength and victory, as theirs to-day, through life and for ever, how different would be their hourly experience. An aged minister of Christ was finishing his course on earth with great joy. Some
of the bystanders were astonished at the happiness which filled his heart, and expressed a wish to know the secret. “It is not," said he, “ because I am more holy than you, or have any special gift of the Spirit which you want, but because I understand the covenant of grace better.” This was the secret. If we understood the covenant of grace better,--the suitableness, and fulness, and freeness of its provisions for the present, and the unlimited extent of its guarantees for the future,-pledging itself to deliver us from every evil and endow us with all good,—to bestow upon us all grace here, and to crown us with heavenly glory hereafter,—how would our doubts and fears evanish like mist before the uprisen sun ?
The peace of our souls is also frequently disturbed by what may be styled a spirit of presumption. David seems to have lost his comfort through this on one occasion. In his prosperity he had said, “I shall never be moved. Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong." Uplifted with present delights, he thought he was now secure. He fancied that trouble and darkness were things of the past, which would never again visit him. He was presumptuously confident. While he did not overlook the source of his blessings, he was more taken up with the blessings themselves than with their Author, and hence he lost his footing and fell into distress. “ Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.” And similarly it is with many. They consider not sufficiently the weakness of their own hearts, the strength of their corruptions, and the power of surrounding temptations; and they are prone to depend upon internal grace, forgetting that all their hope lies in the God of grace. Or perhaps they are more concerned about the comforts of religion than its duties, and in mercy are deprived of the comforts, that they may give more heed to the duties. Or perhaps pride creeps in, and they fancy themselves so advanced in Christian light and freedom as to be less dependent than others upon means and instruments. They grow less watchful over their own hearts, less attentive to the devout reading of the Word, less diligent in the exercises of the closet, less careful in preparation for sacramental seasons. And thus a feeling of pride and security takes possession of their hearts, and they become giddy, fall, like David, from their fancied eminence, and may have to spend days and nights in the castle of Giant Despair, "sink in deep mire where there is no standing: come into deep waters, where the floods overflow them."
Indolence in Christ's service is also often the cause of mental gloom. There is a selfish form of Christianity which is, alas ! too prevalent among the professed followers of the Redeemer. They are apt to forget their high calling, that they are appointed wit