« ZurückWeiter »
LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF HAVELOCK.
A SECOND FUNERAL SERMON TO GENERAL HAVELOCK*.
PREACHED ON SUNDAY EVENING, FEBRUARY 14, 1858,
REV. WILLIAM BROCK.
"He being dead yet speaketh."—HEBREWS xi. 4.
So humble a man was Havelock, that at the honour which 'his countrymen are doing him, I believe he would have been surprised, and only one consideration would have reconciled him to the present popular and eulogistic mention of his name. If by pre senting his example before the public, his admirers can accomplish any good, then, we are sure, he would bave acquiesced. If the narration of his hístory, or the mention of his habits, can be made subservient to the formation of sound character, and to the maintenance of upright conduct in other men, then we know he would have been content,but not else. Ostentatiousness he abhorred; vain-glory was odious to him. To flattery he was insensible, and of himself he never cared to speak. Our reverence, therefore, for his memory constrains us to learn the lessons, or to seek to learn them, which are taught by his eventful life. It would be a reflection on his name, and a practical dishonour to his reputation, to let these lessons go unlearned. Being dead and buried he speaks to us; and from that distant grave in the Alumbagh there comes his voice, reminding us of duties which we are sadly prone to neglect, and of privileges which we are very apt to forego. Let us, then, my brethren, give heed to that which he says to us to-night, reckoning that he has a claim upon our attention, inasmuch as so signally he showed his faith by his works. Being dead, then, he speaketh to us.
He says, for one thing, that, whatever a man's secular activities, he ought babitually to fear God, -that is one of the lessons. Nothing is more common than the plea of absolute absorption in business, when the claims of religion are brought forward and enforced. It is not denied that it would be a right thing to give time to Bible reading every day. Nothing would be more suitable, it is admitted, than the allotment of a portion of one bour for private worship, and of another hour for family worship. To begin, and continue, and end every day in the grateful remembrance of our Father who is in heaven, would be simply and always right. The preacher may take his case for granted, that of Him "in whom we live, and move, and have our being,” it becometh every man to be mindful; and that only as we are mindful of Him can it be well with any man living in the long run. But, then, these incessant occupations so engross us, this draft and demand upon our • Taken in shorthand by Messrs. Reed, Robeson, and Woodward, 6, Southampton-buildings, Chancery-lane
time, and upon our energy day after day, leave us no opportunity for religious action, or religious thought. Give us more leisure, and we will pay attention to our devotion with all our heart. Let us have less of this inevitable publicity, and instead of it, some goodly measure of quietness and peace, and will be Bible readers and worshippers, and observers of religious ordinances, to the very end of our day. As things are, we must be excused. We cannot be late at chambers. We must be at our office, and wu must go for the important business of that office well prepared. We have undertaken to conduct that department of our concern on which every thing depends. We have the entire weight of the young business we have just established entirely resting upon ourselves. We work for a master who has no mercy upon us, who begrudges us almost the time which is absolutely necessary for our food and sleep; we are on drill, or parade, or march continually; we can call no hour of the day our own. No; godliness is confessedly neces. sary, but then it is impracticable-we have not the time.
Now, what saith the man whom we all admire ? Instantly will you grant to me that your secular engagements are not more absorbing than his were. Through the whole portion of his manhood he was out prominently before the world, having a good deal more than the ordinary share of harrass, and turmoil, and responsibility. There were times, no doubt, when he was comparatively at rest. But, very often, for months together he had scarcely any rest at all—his condition in Affghanistan and Oude, to wit. The condition, however, was virtually immaterial. His first duty every where was to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness. That must be attended to, of course. To nothing, whatever, could religious duties be either subordinated or postponed; it was, indeed, being always performed, as the habit of his life. He was not, any more than you and I need to be, he was not all day long at his Bible ; but he was found invariably pondering some portion of it every day. He was not continually in the outward act of prayer ; but he took good care, somehow or other, to be alone with his Maker at some time or other during the day. He was not constantly at church or chapel; but he was there on the Lord's day, and not unfrequently on other days besides. If for these engagements he could not find time, he just made the time. And when so pressed, as he was at Jellahabad, he got his comrades, who were likeminded with himself
, together every night, that they might join in worshipping, and in commending themselves to God. And when, in his heaviest marches, it was determined to start at some earlier hour than that which had been allotted to his devotions, he arose quite in time to have his usual fellowship with God undisturbed. He lived and he died, declaring, “Where there is a will there
What he has done may be done again. There were no resources available by him which are not available by every other man. No obligations devolved upon him that are not devolved upon every other man. And there were no purposes formed by him that ought not to be formed by every other man. “Go," saith Havelock, as you are contemplating his religiousness, sustained by his daily communion with God, and consisting in that communion with God, “go, and do likewise. When you plead the anxieties of your warehouse, remember the anxieties of my tent. When you plead the distractions of your business, remember the distractions of my profession. When you vindicate your irreligiousness, by urging the pressure of your occupations morning, noon, and night, remember the pressure of my occupations at Ghuznee and Lucknow. Through God's grace, I could live godly in Christ Jesus, all difficulties notwithstanding. Through God's grace, if you will try, you will be enabled to do just the same."
Being dead, he yet speaketh. That is one of the lessons which he thus declares. “Though dead he speaketh.” And he says, that whatever a man's unavoidable business from home, he ought assiduously to cherish affectionate attachment for those who constitute his home. It is a peculiarity of the times in which we live that the husband and the father is found very often away from the domestic circle ; more a good deal than formerly our households are broken up or dispersed. Business necessitates this; travel occasions it; the manifold means of locomotion encourage it. Hence arises danger. Men may let the conjugal and parentalties gradually loosen until they have lost all their power. Away from those whom they ought to love, and meeting with those whom they ought not to love, there may be serious-virtual violations at least of solemn vows. Resist the temptation is the demand, not of religion only, but of co mon honour and of self-interest as well.
“ It is a terrible ordeal," is the reply; “I could resist it if I were in the midst of the salutary associations of a virtuous home; but how can any man resist here?"
Now, what saith he whom we all admire? It was his lot to be separated for a long
Circumstances necessitated their absence one from another. But mutual attachment was cultivated with the most congenial assiduity. The interchange of sympathy between Bombay and Bohn was uninterrupted. The father in his solitariness on the Ganges or the Jumna, and the mother with her children on the Rhine, maintained a right sacred fellowship of heart and soul. Letters by almost every mail were both the evidence of well sustained affection and the generous aliment by which the affection was increased. *No matter how heavy the pressure of his occupations, at one time or other, or how agreeable his relaxation at another time, Havelock must keep up his correspondence with home. None so dear to him on earth as its precious inmates. Nothing in his esteem comparable with the honest reciprocation of their irrepressible and their yearning love. He lived and he died, evincing the imperativeness and the possibility of maintaining the conjugal and the parental responsibilities untarnished and intact. What has been done may be done again. A sense of the Divine presence may be carefully cherished; the pledges which have been given may be borne gratefully in mind; the assurances which are repeated by every mail of inviolable devotion may be responded to accordingly. To the children messages may be sent through the mother; and at other times pleasant letters may be forwarded to the children themselves. And this will do wonders in keeping any man right, both in heart and in conduct too. “Go,” saith Havelock, as you are contemplating his virtuous and honourable married life, “ go and do likewise. Repel the intrusion of the wrong by pre-occupying your sensibilities with the right. Preclude the operation of the evil by surcharging your sympathies with the good. Turn off your eyes from beholding vanity, by keeping ever before you the images of darling children, fondly listening as they are told about their absent father by your real-hearted, loving wife. Through God's grace I resisted somewhat violent temptation ; so, if you trust in that grace, you will be enabled to resist it, too. “He being dead yet speaketh.” And this is another of the lessons which he declares.
He speaks, and he says that whatever a man's virtues, he ought to trust for his salvation exclusively to Christ. Men resent the imputation that their good works are unavailing for their acceptance with God. To expect them to acknowledge that they are ex nosed to everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, is, they say, unreasonable. To affirm that whatever they really may need, in order to forgiveness, they cannot themselves supply it, is fanatical and absurd. Are they not upright and truth-telling? Have they not won the good opinion of all who are around them? Is it not well-nigh proverbial, through the circle of their acquaintance, that if you want kindness or co-operation, you must needs apply to them? There is no denying this. Then why deal with them as though they were guilty before God? They demur to the imputation altogether. Virtuous and reputable as they are, God will never condemn them.
What saith the man whom we all admire? That he was virtuous and reputable is beyond doubt. To a long and most eventful life the reference may be made in confirmation. He was patriotic; he was unselfish; he was forgiving; he was veracious ; he was temperate; he was pious. Not many of us should be found to surpass him, if investigation were to be made into our duties towards God or man; and by a large majority, both in England and in India, should we by the comparison be found to fall manifestly short. He was a sound-minded, right-hearted, and a good living man; but he held himself to be personally unworthy of the Divine mercy. By his reading of Holy Scripture, he "concluded” himself " under sin." Give him that which he had merited, and he must perish ; but that would not be given him, if so be he would believe in Christ as the sacrifice and propitiation for sin ; there would be no condemnation then, but rather justification unto everlasting life. He did believe in Christ; he received the atonement; he submitted himself to the righteousness of God, and, with a grateful heart, he closed with the proffers of free grace. No obstacle intervening, he was at once delivered from the power
of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son; he was accepted in the Beloved; his sins were forgiven him; he became complete in Christ. What has been done may be done again. Consciousness of one's need of salvation may be induced on the one hand, and there may be full assurance induced on the other, of the provision of salvation that has been made by Christ. Reflection upon our own unworthiness will lead us to feel that we are sinners ; examination of our Bibles will convince us that Christ came down from heaven that he might save us. The means of which the departed general made such use, are all within our reach ; the means for rejoicing in Christ Jesus whilst we have no confidence in the flesh. “Go," saith Havelock, as you are contemplating his quiet confidence in the intercession of our great High Priest, " go and do likewise." Put no trust in your virtues; for what, after all, do
they come to at their best estate ? Have done with all your reliance for acceptance with God upon loyalty, or patriotism, or philanthropy, or anything besides. Be the good citizen by all means; be the loyal subject; be the good father, and the good neighbour, and the faithful husband; but along with all that be the broken-hearted and penitent sinner before the footstool of the Divine mercy. Humble yourselves there, for you cannot regenerate your own hearts ; you cannot expiate your own transgressions ; you cannot merit everlasting life. You may take it as God's free gift : through his grace I went and took it; you imitate my example ; and, through God's grace, you shall take it and receive it likewise. "By grace are we saved through faith; and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God." "He being dead, yet speaketh ; " and he bids you not to go about to establish your own righteousness, but to submit yourselves to the righteousness of God. Another of the lessons which from that grave in the Alumbagh he speaks and declares to us now.
He speaks, and he says, that whatever a man's liabilities to persecution, he ought to abide resolutely by his convictions of what is right. It must be granted that our times are better than the former times in respect to freedom from pains and penalties for conscience sake. The rack and the dungeon are obsolete. Of the spoiling of our goods there is not much danger. Without any apparent exception, it may be supposed that we are all sitting under our vines and fig-trees, "none making us afraid." Yet there are exceptions, more, we apprehend, than sometimes is known. If a man will dare to act upon the dictates of his conscience, as seeing God, who is invisible, he may have to bear cold and withering indifference where he has hitherto basked amidst the kindliest respect--he may have to suffer the loss of friendships which he has greatly prized—he may have withholden or withdrawn from him important and invaluable patronage--he may be grossly misrepresented or misconstrned—he may have his good name insidiously calumniated, and his reputation, for the time being, practically undermined. Satire and sarcasm will assail him ; the broad laugh will ridicule him ; the shameful inuendo will endanger him; the audacious exaggeration will entail upon him popular condemnation; the well-framed and well-told lie will bring him into miserable dispute. Very well is this kind of jeopardy understood; and by the dread of encountering it, many are kept aloof from obeying the will of God. Why should they expose themselves to the opprobrium ? why should they incur the risk? why should they endure the harm and loss? To any enquiries about the actual propriety of a given course, they would answer, that it is indisputable. They raise no question at all about the requirements of the Holy Scripture in that direction; to do that particular thing would be right, beyond any doubt; but they cannot afford to be singular; they must shrink, and they do shrink, from being ranked and reckoned among the saints.
Now, what saith the man whom we admire, my brethren? No secret was it to him that, if he confessed Christ before men, he should have, in one form or another, persecution. Would he, under his circumstances, conceal his evangelical principles, and imitate Joseph of Arimethea, who was "a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews?" He revolved that question thoughtfully and prayerfully in his mind, and presently he was ready with his reply; He dared not to act clandestinely. He was not his own to do with himself just what was grateful to him at the moment. He was under paramount obligation to Christ, Show him what he meant to do was wrong, and he would instantly leave it undone. Make it evident that it was at least doubtful or premature, and he would postpone it until it could be reconsidered and ascertained. But once admit that the course which he projected was in itself prescribed by the grace and providence of God, and an objector might hold his peace. “I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, I cannot go back.” The satirist might sting, and the sarcastic might accumulate and exasparate contempt; and misrepresentation might go about to account for his peculiarities, by saying that they were eccentricity rather than principle, caprice rather than deliberation, obstinancy rather than conscientiousness, a deeper form of worldly policy rather than spirituality of mind; and timidity might forbode unpleasant consequences from misrepresentation ; and expediency might gravely recommend that he should be some what careful about the main chance. But it was all in vain; all the opposition availed nothing. He was not ambitious of singularity ; but he was bent upon obeying Christ. He was not reckless about the good opinion of his comrades, for he always valued that, and did that which was likely to bring him their approval; but what he valued most was, the approbation that cometh down from above. He was perfectly aware that he might be wrong-mistaken; but he exercised himself to have always a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man. What has been done may be done again.
and against frowns with exactly similar success. Slander may be silenced; scornfulness may be lived down; opposition may be conciliated; and the proof may come out, even illustriously, that “ Him who honoureth God, God will honour." “Go," saith Havelock, as you are contemplating his inflexible adherence to his conviction, "go and do likewise." Tell the employer, who bids you defraud or falsify, that you must refuse his bidding. Tell the counsellor who, New Testament in band, professes to have a case that you cannot solve, and who then goes and quotes the apostolic statement about being "all things to all men," tell that counsellor you must have something better than å mis-quotation. And tell the men of this time-serving, money-grasping, luxurious, generation, that, politic or impolitic, competency or no competency, through evil report or good report, your mind is bent upon doing just the right and straightforward thing,
not as pleasing men, but God who trieth the hearts." Through God's grace (he tells us) I was enabled to outbrave and outlive the opposition; through God's grace you will be enabled to do the same thing: “Being dead he yet speaketh.'
And this is another of the lessons we are called to learn.
He speaks, and he says that whatever a man's professional calling, he ought to aim evangelically at doing good. The tendency to devolve the work of religious teaching upon a certain class of men, exclusively, is by no means extinct. Not so powerful in action as it was once, the tendency is, nevertheless, in action ; and private Christians, as they are designated, are told, and they take the telling and act upon it, that it is not for them, but for the ministers of their several churches, according to their several grades. Now, they have all their work to do before God, beyond all doubt; but the brotherhood at large are required to become their co-adjutors. Every Christian is under obligation to show himself a fellow-helper to the truth. No need has he of ordination at the hands of his fellow-men. No commission need he to seek, ere he dare to tell his neighbour how he may be delivered from the wrath to come. His knowledge of the way to heaven is his warrant for proclaiming the way to all who are within his reach. Because he has found mercy of the Lord himself, he is even under obligation to make known that mercy wherever his influence can extend. Is there doubt as to the obligation ? Are objections occurring against the propriety of any person's declaring the good tidings of great joy, unless he himself has been specially appointed to the work?
What saith the man whom we are admiring? Most sincerely did he esteem all faithful ministers of Christ. Upon the services which they conducted, he was a constant attendant whenever he had the opportunity. Of their preaching, he invariably took advantage, and recommended his men to do the same. For a stated and a settled ministry, both of the word and the ordinances of the Gospel, he evinced the highest possible respect. In no degree would he heedlessly infringe upon what he always held to be an institution of the head of the Church. At the same time, when those around him were perishing for lack of knowledge, and there were none to interfere on their behalf, he felt that he must interfere himself; the duty of doing good, and communicating was remembered by him; the injunction to love his neighbour as himself was apprehended by him ; the fact that, in the apostolic times, there were men who went and preached the Gospel every where, who had not been specially set apart for that purpose just then,--all that told upon his mind, and it produced this, as the result, that he would go and imitate their example himself. He could expound to the inquirer the meaning of Christ's gracious invitations. Who could not do that, who has experimentally appropriated the truth which they contain: He could warn and admonish, and entreat the men who were heedless and careless about the great salvation, and God helping him, he knew that it would be done with success. And, let me say, that in labours of that kind, he wrought carefully, not giving his men what had cost him nothing but in almost every case of which one has had special mention, by those who know the matter well, preparing to bring forth out of God's Word, things both new and old, that he might all the more successfully commend himself by the manifestation of the truth to every man's conscience in the sight of God. What has been done, may be done again. Servants of a household may be accosted, either individually, or when they are gathering for household worship. Groups, who in leisure times may be found at the corners of our streets, and on our own village greens, may be spoken to about the salvation of their souls. The multitude, larger or smaller, ever ready to reply to a frank invitation, and who will come to almost any place where you ask them to come, may be told how Christ loved them, and gave himself for them. And in such a way may this be done, that they shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. “Go," saith Havelock, as you are contemplating his evangelical