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Observer, Feb, 1, 71
classes, and doubtless profited largely from the Old and New Testament, and his high the teaching of that great Christian min. appreciation of the Sacred volume was as ister. Bro. Somerville, ea rly in his marked as his knowledge of its contents. Christian life, began to addict himself to the He had the greatest reverence for the Word edification of the brethren. Shortly after of God, and, while he concurred in verbal landing in America he was in attendance at alterations of the text of Scripture sug, one of the churches when the Minister for gested by improved translations, he resented the day failing to appear, he offered his any suggestion which would call in question services, and addressed the meeting with the Divine inspiration or supreme authority much acceptance. This readiness of re- of the Bible. There is reason to believe source in the edification of the church, that most of those questions, which, from exhibited thus early, was manifested in all time to time, have agitated the religious his after life. Teaching the church was his world, and especially the Churches of the forte, and both in the United States and in Reformation, have occupied his attention, Scotland he continued to exercise this gift. and that he had formed an intelligent judg. After several years' residence in America, ment upon many of them; and it is ground he paid a visit to his native country intend- of confidence for younger men to know ing to return to the United States ; but that one of so much independence of certain considerations led him to forego thought, and so little under the influence this purpose, and ever since he has been in of sectarianism, remained one with us in all Edinburgh the constant supporter of the the great principles advocated by the cause of New Testament truth. Bro. Mil. Churches in Great Britain. His addresses ner's labours in Edinburgh resulted in the were full of instruction drawn almost formation of a flourishing church, which exclusively from the Scriptures, and he was in 1860 removed from Nicolson Street peculiarly happy in his expositions of Old Hall to Roxburgh Place Chapel. Shortly Testament truth as illustrating, and enforc. after this, Bro. Somerville sought fellow- ing the doctrines of the New. Often too, ship with the brethren meeting there, especially of late, there was a spirit of the thinking he would find a wider field for deepest earnestness manifest in his exhortaChristian effort than with the church meet- tions, as if he growingly felt the power of ing in South Bridge Hall, where he had the world to come. For some years he had hitherto held his membership. The fact of ceased from his usual occupation on Bro. Somerville leaving, South Bridge account of failing health, and several Hall led, with other considerations, to the months ago alarming symptoms manifested union of the two churches in Roxburgh themselves. Care, and the usual appliances, Place Chapel, and since then he has con- did not ward off the encroachments of the tinued to occupy the position of Elder in disease, and, for some weeks before his the united church. The esteem in which death his most sanguine friends could not he was held by the brethren is sufficient hope for any recovery. He knew his end testimony to his faithful labours. There was drawing near, and in his own quiet and are one or two prominent characteristics in methodical way, began to set his house in his life which invite notice. His upright-order, arranging in the most minute and ness of character was most conspicuous. thoughtful manner for the coming change. Those who knew him could not conceive In the midst of much unrest and suffering of him doing anything mean or truckling; he was able to say, "Not my will, but thine the wisdom of this world had no illustra- be done;" and in the last days of his tion in his life; and, indeed, so severe was life on earth he enjoyed much of that com. his sense of moral rectitude that, in the fort which only a firm trust in the Saviour estimation of some, he occasionally took an can give. Among his last words was a extreme view of the faults of others. His in- quotation from the 43rd Psalm, “O send out dependence of thought was another marked Thy light and Thy truth," repeating with feature of his character, and manifested it. emphasis, “Why art thou cast down O my self in his adoption of New Testament soul, and why art thou disquieted within principles while a very young man, and me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise that too, while all his early training had Him who is the health of my countenance been of an extremely opposite tendency, and my God.” As I have said, he leaves having been brought up in the Established behind him the partner of his life. Not Church of Scotland. No one who con having had any family they were peculiarly versed with him or listened to his teaching each other's companions, and in his last ill. could fail to mark this characteristic; itness Mrs. Somerville showed more than a was at once felt that he was not merely wife's devotion in the constant and tender repeating the views of others, but his own care with which she ministered to his comconvictions arrived at after mature con- forts. She has many friends who will seek sideration. As may be supposed he had a her good; but her great support must be profound knowledge of the Scriptures of the love of Him of whom it is said, " He
Observer, Feb. 1, '71.
doth execute the judgment of the fatherless | regular in his attendance at all church and widow, and loveth the stranger in giv. meetings. To him “to live was Christ, ing him food and raiment." The church and to die was gain.”. He was held in high has sustained a great loss, but if it results estimation by all with whom he was acin awakening brethren to more earnest quainted here. Glasgow-T. McL. effort, our experience may be the fulfilment Departed this life on January 5, 1871, of the declaration that « All things work Sister Henderson, of Sanquhar. She has together for good to those who love God.” been a member of the church there for about
JOAN AITKEN. thirty years. The illness which terminated John Lennox died of consumption, Jan. fatally lasted four years, during which time 12, 1871, at Creetown, Wigtonshire, aged 20. she endured great bodily suffering. Five About four years ago he came to this city, | little ones mourn their loss, whom she having made the good confession previous committed to the care of her Heavenly to his leaving home. He had considerable Father. Her end was peace, and calmly knowledge and ability, was deeply interested she passed away, in the blessed hope of a in all spiritual matters, and was most | glorious immortality.
DOING NOTHING. It is very surprising how dif-, which he feels little or no comferently men are too often disposed punction. Merely to let the moveto regard the two classes of sins ment alone is so far from being a which are usually characterized as very grievous offence, that it is a sins of omission, and of commission. stand entitled to considerable praise. The former are generally regarded because it is not rancorous opposias very light and unimportant, tion; to have no part in the selfwhile the persons
so regarding denying labours which win victories would not, for any consideration for the cause to throw no contribuwhatever, be guilty of the latter. tion of name, or toil, or money for A man who “does nothing" may its successes—to deserve nothing of be, and often is, regarded as a gratitude from its beneficiaries, is a pious, consistent, Christian; while trifling short-coming, so that he the man who violates even the set not himself vehemently against " least of the commandments
is, it. as a matter of course, scouted and There comes to the door of a man despised. And yet I am persuaded of fortune an appeal to his humanity. that, if we look at the matter aright, The case is a clear one-a destitute it must be evident that this view is widow asks relief on behalf of her an erroneous one, and that it
fatherless children. This man of lead to the most awful guilt in the fortune is a man of honour. He sight of God.
would not, for all the gold of CaliLook at the position which men fornia, cheat his fellow out of a take in regard to the reforms of the farthing. He never exacts from any day. Some earnest and philan- man more than his due. No price thropic movement, charged with the would tempt him to engage in a redemption of the degraded or op- fraudulent transaction. But he can pressed, presents itself to a man, turn a deaf ear to the widow's cry. asking his sympathy and support, "He doesn't owe her anything." and he quietly gives it the go-by, And it is a light thing in his estimasoothing his conscience with the tion, that she turns empty-handed plea—that if he is no help to the and sorrowing from his door. Has good work, he is at least no hin. he not a right to do what he will drance. To be no help is a thing for with his own? He passes on his
Observer, Feb. 1, '71
way calm and erect, with no burden | dwelling-house on fire; the flames on his conscience, no tinge of shame are leaping from room to room, and on his cheek. What has he done ? mounting the stairway, and rioting Nothing. He has defrauded no one ; in their mastery ; no sound is heard he has not laid a finger on what did from the sleepers, the whole housenot belong to him; he has not hold are wrapped in the slumbers of oppressed the poor suppliant whose midnight. No watchman, pacing prayer he rejected; he did not his distant round, discerns the light. reduce her to poverty; he has not No other soul of the whole populataken the bread from her babes; he tion seems awake or conscious of this has-only let her alone. Is theft, peril but himself. There is not a mothen, the only crime in God's sight ?ment to be lost; even now he is wellIs there no record on high for this nigh too late. But he passes coolly negative action of his ? I make by, and goes silently on his way, bold to say that, compared with his What has he done? Done ? Nothing! cold-blooded, hard-hearted inhu- If manhood, and matron, and babe manity, it would have been innocent be consumed there together, and in him to have stolen a purse of the dawn behold the ruin complete gold ! It will be more tolerable in -none living to tell how or in what the day of judgment for many a agony of suffering and despair the swindler and highwayman than for dead met their fate—it is not his this just and honourable man of work. He is no incendiary; he did marble !
not kindle the fire ; he did not burn The grand principle is, that God the house and its inmates. Heholds us responsible for the good did nothing. Would your hearts we might do as well as the deeds we accept such a defence from his lips ? actually perform. And a member of Would an indignant community a Christian Church, who is just pur- pronounce him acquitted of blame on suing the even tenor of his way, such a plea ? He did burn those practising fair dealing in all his fellow-creatures, in the sight of business relations with the world, and heaven; in the judgment of your not staining the ermine of his pro- own unperverted consciences he did fession with positive misdemeanours, commit the awful murder, for he may—just by his want of spirituality, might have saved them. His excuse his neglect of spiritual duties—by is just his crime—that he did nothing, what he does not do-be all the when he ought to have roused every while making out a terrible accusa- sleeper far and near with his alarmtion against himself in the sight of ing shout, and steeled his heart to God, and heaping up a terrible deeds of desperate courage and retribution. Was it enough for the strength. But look again. A comfig-tree in the parable, that all the pany of reapers are seated quietly demonstrations which met the eye beneath the shade, taking their were fair and full of promise— noontide repast. Their attention is an upright trunk, with branches, attracted by the sight of a solitary boughs and a wreath of green figure crossing the field with slow leaves, but only no fruit.
and irregular steps. He carries a It is quite conceivable, then, and staff before him, and now and then perfectly capable of illustration, that trips and stumbles on the unseen this negative action, that is, the not surface. They perceive that he is acting at all, may be of all things blind. He is out of the path, too, the most heinous and horrible. and has no guide. A little way off, Look at a case or two! Here is a 'in the direction he is following, is a man walking at the dead of night precipice looking down a hundred through our streets, and he sees a 'feet. The blind man moves on
Observer, Feb. 1,'71.
towards the brow, piloted with his Ah! but we knew they were out staff, nearer and nearer he draws, of the way; we knew of the preciall unconscious of what is before pice, we knew they were nearing it. him. They who watch him are We knew they were blind, blinded silent and unmoved. No voice is by the delusions of sin, and we left lifted up; no hand is stretched out. them to their fate. We gave them They see him pacing steadily to the no caution, we offered them no awful verge. His staff, meeting no word of warning, we were often with obstacle, slips from his hand into them, on friendly terms with them, the abyss. He takes a step forward perhaps members of the and stoops to recover it. Still no family-our children, our parents, warning, no interposition from the our husbands, our wives, our brothers reapers. His foot overhangs va- and sisters, we knew they were cancy_his bending form leans from not in the kingdom of our Saviour, the brink—a wild cry, and he is but we allowed them to go on in gone. What have they done ? No- their alien state, and never spoke to thing. They did not put out his them about their danger. eyes. They did not lead him to Stand still, now, and hear the the precipice. They did not push word of God written for our offence, him down. They have done nothing. and behold the divine judgment They only neglected to do. And yet against us—“When say unto the his blood is on their skirts; it cries wicked, thou shalt surely die, and thou like Abel's to heaven against them. givest him not warning nor speakest to They knew he was blind; they could warn the wicked from his wicked way to have saved him, and did nothing. save his life, the same wicked man shall
Do not think these illustrations die in his iniquity, but his blood will I are extravagant or wide of the mark. require at THINE hand.” Behold the Let us give them application to a fearful guilt of being at ease in single point. The impenitent around Zion ! Behold the responsibility us are as it were asleep in burning that attaches to the neglect of duty. dwellings--going blindfold down to How many there are who “do ruin. Their peril deepens with nothing” towards making the world every hour of delay. They push on better. They are drones. If they unconscious of danger. Soon it will were to die, they would not be missed be too late to interpose. The sum- by either Church or world, only as mer of hope and mercy is waning-the dead branches of the tree are the day of grace is fast passing away. when the gardener lops them off. Death, judgment, and eternity are How many there are in our Church on the wing—are near; their awful who merely come to the meetings shadows fall upon the path so secure- and do no more. You never see ly trodden. The hapless traveller them give away a tract; you never stands gaily on the verge of perdi- hear of them speaking a word for tion.
Jesus to their friends and comDo we see? Do we know? Have panions. They can talk about anywe faith in eternal realities? While thing and everything else. But wo sit idle and voiceless, they reel Jesus and his salvation—that is over the tremendous brink and are placed in the background altogether. lost, lost for ever,
Who has done all such act as though Christianity Not we; their sins were was a farce, and the day of judgment their own, the course they pursued mere fiction. They do nothing their own choosing. We wrought themselves, and are generally the no violence upon them, we put no parties to find fault with those who constraint upon their liberty, we did do try to make themselves useful not drag them down to woo.
Brethren, there is no time to be
Observer, Feb. 1, '71.
idle. The world needs workers, not their Bibles with a candle stuck in a dreamers. We want to act upon skull. The light from a death's the wise man's advice—“ Whatso- head may be an awful one, but it is ever thy hand findeth to do, do it a very profitable one. Surely if we with all thy might, for there is no all do what we can, and do it in the work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor right way, the Master will crown wisdom in the grave whither thou our efforts, feeble though they be, goest.” The time is short, we can- with success, and it shall be ours not afford to waste it. If we all one day to hear the blissful comlived in the light of our funerals, mendation-WELL DONE. how well should we live, Some of Brighton.
B. ELLIS. the old Romish monks always read
NOTES BY THE EDITOR, FUTURE PUNISHMENT.-In all directions this subject has come into consideration, and opinions and convictions are changing. It has had no attention in our pages, but it must come under notice. An Australian reader sends a well-written article, designed to prove that eternal torment is anti-scriptural. This article is not at all exhaustive, and would chiefly serve to provoke controversy. Then, a debate with one who is so located that he could only reply at intervals of five months is certainly undesirable ; however competent the writers might prove, the lengthy intervals would tire the most patient and exhaust the interest. Nor do we desire a somewhat long and desultory discussion of the subject by such of our home readers as may have some small insight into the subject. There are three parties whose conclusions challenge attention. One defines hell as a place into which it is good but not honourable for the wicked to be cast. The good is supposed to exist in the purgatorial element thereof, by means of which all will be fitted for, and, in the end attain to, eternal glory. The second holds to never-ending punishment, the final element of which is extinction of being, so that, finally, in all the universe there will be no suffering creature, and God's triumph over evil will be complete. The third believe that the lost must endure interminable suffering. Now, certainly, it is desirable that every Christian understand what that condemnation is from which he is saved and to which surrounding millions are hastening. When, then, the subject is under investigation in all directions, there can be no reason why we should completely shut it out. We, therefore, purpose to do equal justice to each of the before-named conclusions. To accomplish this we shall endeavour to obtain a clear and powerful statement and defence of the three, each to be independent of the others, and not to reply to or arise thereout. We shall not be particular whether original or reprinted, 80 that the work in each case is by a fully competent hand. Suggestions, as to the writers whom we can thus call to our aid, will be welcome.
There are those who hold that the men who do not believe in everlasting torment are unfit for fellowship in the Church of Christ, and there are those who teach that no one should be received into His Church who believes in the immortality of the soul or the possibility of eternal suffering. But both are wrong, and unduly exalt the question, What shall be the ultimate fate of the damned is not put among the things to be believed in order to salvation, but among the things to be learned by those who are added to the Church, if not understood before. Of course a man might make such improper use of his opinions upon this question as to disturb the Church and arrest its work, in which case he should be handled as an offender and faction-maker; not, however, on account of his opinion, but because of the bad use made of it.
CAN A CHRISTIAN BE A SOLDIER? We are informed that brethren in the Colonies desire the question examined. There is also a war-party whose voice will be heard in the next Session of our Parliament, in favour of compulsory military service. We do not think that the country will allow that state of things to be restored, but it is still possible, and we may have the question before us, sooner than we expect, in a very practicable form. We shall seek to supply an affirmative and also a negative article. THE FELLOWSHIP. A Subscriber asks
whether the term fellowship, in Acts ii. 42, merely implies a collection of money? We think not. "The Fellowship" embraces contribution but is not exhausted thereby. But the whole subject requires examination. We have a paper partly prepared, and shall be glad to prosent it as early as possible.