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purity, the Church began the great work of its distribution. In God's purpose were included all lands, all nations, all peoples, of whatever clime or complexion, or language or habits. There was an invitation for every one; so that herein the exhortation of the prophet becomes the invitation of the Gospel : “ Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.” Hence the Saviour, before leaving His disciples, gave ther the broad commission to " go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." Surely, in a work so great as this, there must be something for every Christian to do. At any rate, there is nothing in this view of duty which can lull to slumber, or lead to sloth, but everything to rouse to action.
We must also remember that our own spiritual safety and prosperity depend on our fulfilling our part of the mission of the Church. If we cease to labour, we become weak, and less able than formerly to do our work; just as the mechanic, by long abstinence from the use of tools, becomes less able to handle them. The work goes hard. Hence the great danger of sloth. We may assert, as a wholesome truth, that the best way to keep our piety from declension, and our souls from falling, is by trying to save others. The effort put forth to accomplish this will be sure to benefit ourselves. " He that watereth shall be watered also himself.”
“ In doing and bearing the will of our Lord,
We still are preparing to meet our reward." Perhaps one cause of spiritual sloth may be found in the fact that many fail to apprehend their duty. It may be they have never been rightly taught; and they need rousing to their responsibilities. How many there are who enter the Church imagining that they have nothing to do but to go through a certain routine, and save themselves; others being altogether forgotten. While some never work at all, there are others who work only at certain times. Is it too much to say of spasmodic piety, that it is spurious piety ? Such are stimulated to great activity by the influences of a great revival, or by the urgent solicitation of others. But duty presses upon all, and at all times. We need to labour on with the regularity and persistency of a planet in its orbit, putting forth continued efforts for the salvation of others, until the infirmities of advancing years impede our progress, or we cease at once to work and live."
The approaches of slothfulness are often unsuspected, because sloth is a vice t hat gradually enters and assumes control of the heart. But its presence may be readily known by any who will subject themselves to self-exa mination. It is sometimes indicated by an indifference to the religious welfare of the Church ; and this, in time, is often manifested by an habitual neglect of public services, of prayer, or of partaking of the Lord's Supper; although He has said, “Do this in remembrance of Me," -or by a readiness to find excuses for such omissions.
We make no apology for introducing a statement of President Edwards,
viz., “ Another thing that a great deal has been said against, is having so frequent religious meetings, and spending so much time in religion. But yet this objection has been in general groundless. Though worldly business must be done, and persons ought not to neglect the business of their particular callings, yet it is to the honour of God, that a people should be so much in outward acts of religion, as to carry in it a visible, public appearance, of great engagedness of mind in it, as the main business of life ; and especially is it fit, that at such an extraordinary time, when God appears unusually present with a people, in wonderful works of power and mercy, that they should spend more time than usual in religious exercises, to put honour upon that God, who is then extraordinarily present, and to seek His face, as it was with the Christian Church at Jerusalem on occasion of that extraordinary pouring out of the Spirit soon after Christ's ascension (Acts ii. 46). And so it was at Ephesus, at a time of great outpouring of the Spirit there ; the Christians attended public religious exercises every day for two years together (Acts xix. 8-10). The great complaint that is made against so much time being spent in religion, cannot be in general from a real concern that God may be honoured, and His will done, and the best good of men promoted; as is manifest from this, that now there is much more earnest and zealous outcry made against this extraordinary religion, than was before against so much time spent in tavern haunting, vain company keeping, night walking, and other things which wasted both time and substance, to the injury of our moral virtue.”
In addition to this, there is an indifference to the religious welfare of the unconverted. They are permitted to go to ruin unreproved, and apparently uncared for. At the same time, when in the congregation of God's people, we say
“ Enlarge, inflame, and fill my heart
In short, where there is spiritual sloth, spiritual thought is gradually banished, until the mind is permeated with worldliness. The proprieties of external life may still be observed; the pretence of piety may still be maintained; the routine of ceremonies may still be followed; but the inward piety which draws the soul out in sweet communion with God is dormant, or actually dead. There is "spiritual sloth.”
" For such there can be no real Christian joy. They lose their relish for religion, and often find refuge in forms, and sometimes get entirely out of the Church. It becomes every Christian to guard his heart jealously, lest this deadening influence should come upon him. There is no
need of falling into this perilous state; nor is there any danger of it, if we cultivate an active, robust, healthy piety. Let our prayer be
" That I from Thee no more may part,
No more Thy goodness grieve,
The tender conscience, give.
O God, my conscience make!
And keep it still awake.”
GOOD WOMEN OF SCRIPTURE MISUNDERSTOOD AND
No. VII.- QUEEN VASHTI. The Book of Esther, chap. i., sets before us a scene of regal magnificence of the Eastern type. The King Ahasuerus, supposed to be the son and successor of the famous Xerxes, had subdued all his enemies; and feeling himself securely seated on his throne, in the third year of his reign “he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes” of the hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia, over which he reigned.-" when he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days. When these days were expired, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's palace; where were white, green, and blue hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble : the beds (couches) were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black marble. And they gave them drink in vessels of gold (the vessels being diverse one from another), and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king. And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure. Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to King Ahasuerus.”
So far, so good, for an eastern despot ; and his command that no one was to be compelled to drink, would have given pleasure to Sir Wilfrid Lawson could he have been present.
An old proverb says, “that it is better to be at the end of a feast than at the beginning of a fray ; but in this case it was not so for Queen Vashti ; for " on the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded the seven chamberlains that served in his pre
sence to bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to show the princes and the people her beauty : for she was fair to look on. “ But the Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment by bis chamberlains : therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him."
Brought up in the seclusion of an eastern home, taught to veil her face from the eyes of all men but her husband, the queen felt it would be a shame worse than death to exhibit herself as desired, and so she refused; upon which refusal Dr. Adam Clarke thus writes : “ And much should she be commended for it. What woman, possessing even a common share of prudence and modesty, could consent to expose herself to the view of such a group of drunken Bacchanalians ? Her courage was equal to her modesty: she would resist the royal mandate rather than violate the rules of chaste decorum. Her contempt of worldly grandeur, when brought in competition with what every modest woman holds dear and sacred, is worthy of observation. She well knew that this act of disobedience would cost her her crown, if not her life also : but she was regardless of both, as she conceived her virtue and honour were at stake.
“ Her humility was greatly evidenced in this refusal. She was beautiful; and might have shown herself to great advantage, and have had a fine opportunity of gratifying her vanity, if she had any : but she refused to
Hail, noble woman! be thou a pattern to all thy sex on every similar occasion! Surely, everything considered, we have few women like Vashti; for some of the highest of the land will dress and deck them. selves with the utmost splendour, even to the selvedge of their fortunes, to exhibit themselves at balls, plays, galas, operas, and public assemblies of all kinds (nearly half naked), that they may be seen and admired of men, and even, to the endless reproach and broad suspicion of their honour and chastity, figure away in masquerades! Vashti must be considered at the top of her sex. • A black swan is not half so rare a bird.'"*
Well done, doctor! Thy lusty strokes are like those of the honest blacksmith beating red-hot iron : let every lady that looks in at the open door take care of her eyes, her bare shoulders, and her costly attire !
But King Ahasuerus was very wroth, and having consulted with his princes and counsellors, they, with a kind of tipsy gravity, by the mouth of one of them named Memucan, declared that nothing less than a royal decree deposing Queen Vashti, would make it safe for men to live with their wives after such an act of wifely daring. On which, again, Dr. A. Clarke writes : “ This reasoning or arguing was inconsequent and false. Vashti had not generally disobeyed the king, therefore she could be no precedent for the general conduct of the Persian women. She disobeyed
* Rara avis in terris, nigroque simillima cygno.
only in one particular; and this, to serve a purpose, Memucan draws into a general consequence; and the rest came to the conclusion which he drew, being either too drunk to be able to discern right from wrong, or too intent on reducing the women to a state of vassalage, to neglect the present favourable opportunity.” I suppose the parade of enactment was only made to deprive honest Vashti of her crown.
The loss of a queenly crown, and the disgrace that was attempted to be fixed upon her name, were but for a time ; for her name lives in honour, enshrined in the Book of God; and doubtless it will be held in honour by all women that love the Lord Jesus Christ, whether they are the daring advocates of women's rights, or only quiet Marys who sit at Jesus' feet and hear His words.
The Medo-Persian empire soon fell before the headlong rush of Alexander and his thirty thousand Greeks; and change after change has occurred in the government of those provinces; but the reign of Queen Vashti in the realm of wifely modesty and womanly decorum remains. Long may it flourish!
THE WESLEYAN METHODIST LOCAL PREACHERS'
MUTUAL-AID ASSOCIATION. CHAPTER XVIII.-ANNUAL MEETING AT ST. GEORGE's, LONDON, 1864.
BRO. RICHARD DURLEY, Aylesbury, President.
The Committee met at St. George's Chapel, London, East, on Saturday evening, June 18th. A large number of places were occupied by the brethren on Sunday, the 19th, in London, Deptford, Woolwich, &c. The sittings began on Monday morning, at St. George's Chapel.
The Report gave 1838 benefit members, being the same number as the year before, and 416 honorary; 20 less than the previous year. Total members, 2,254. Benefit members' subscriptions, £1,009 4s. Od., being £13 183. 60. less than the previous year. Excess of expenditure over the income bad reduced the capital from £3,959 (s. 9d., to £3,822 16s. 3d.
Bro. Richard Durley, of Aylesbury, was elected President, Bros. Wild and J. Carter re-elected Treasurers, and Bro. Chamberlain, Hon. Secretary.
During Mr. Arundale's year of office he had proposed to raise £2,000, and gave £50 himself towards this object. This subject was brought up at this meeting, and liberal promises were made by several brethren.
The Magazine came on for discussion. It had been suggested that the title be altered. This was spoken to by Bros. Chamberlain, Hirst, Lawton, Rose, Harding, Stephens, J. Andrew, A. Andrew, Nelstrop, Rowland, Cathbertson, and Wade. Little came of this discussion, and