Review of the Past Year: Sermon by Rev. Job Shenton, Queen Square Methodist Church, Sunday, Dec. 30.

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Review of the Past Year: Sermon by Rev. Job Shenton, Queen Square Methodist Church, Sunday, Dec. 30.
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REVIEW OF THE PAST YEAR. Sermon by Rev. Job Shenton, Queen Square Methodist Church, Sunday, Dec. 30. (Phonographic Report) A special sermon upon the events of the year and their lessons was preached to a large congregation in the Queen Square Methodist Church, by Rev. Job Shenton, last Sunday evening. Mr. Shenton took his text from the 8th chap. of Job, verses 8, 9 and 10:— For enquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare myself to the search of their fathers; (For we are but of yesterday and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow:) Shalt not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out of their heart? Tis greatly wise, he said, to talk with our past hours and ask them what report they bore to heaven, and how they might have borne more welcome news. To talk with past hours is the duty of this service. That we have scriptural precedent for this work of review is evident. Moses, to encourage the people, bade them ask of the years gone by, of the days that were before them, since the time that God created man upon the earth in his own image. To chasten and correct them, he said, "Thou shalt remember all the way the Lord, thy God, hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness," and in his last charge he said to Israel, "Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations." Bildad, in our text, makes a simular remark when he says, "Require of the former age, of the days that are as a shadow. Shall they not tell thee and utter words out of thtilr heart?" — that is, out of their experience. God teaches us by the events of His Providence. The bible is complete; it is sealed and woe be to the man that would break the seal and add to, or take from, the words of this book. But there is another book being written, and every year furnishes another chapter. You are helping to write that book which is the book of God’s providential dealings with the world, and as another chapter of this book will soon be finished, finished by the passage of the midnight hour over the mysterious line between 1883-84, I want you with me to look at some of the events that are recorded. It will be impossible to expand; I can only summarize some of the leading events Of the year. For convenience sake, that we may have order in our thought and aid to your recollection, I will put these events in three principal classes, and group the minor events under their respective orders. I give you, then, these three words of review: National, ecclesiastical and personal. 1st The national review. Over the empire, but especially over this Dominion, there has been general prosperity. It would have been worthy of note if famine, or pestilence, or plague had visited their ravages on any large portion of our population. It would have been worthy of record if fire had swept our city or storms had wrecked our ships and desolated our shores. Why, then, should not the protection and guidance of a kind Providence be recorded with gratitude? The harvests of the year have been good and the barns are filled with plenty. The forests have yielded there increase, and if their be commercial stringency owing to over-production, there is little cause of complaint, as commercial panic has not ended in bankruptcy and business insecurity. There has been, no doubt, in some instances, trouble, or failure, or disaster, but these have only been the mere flecking of the cloud on the clear summer sky. The words of the inspired writer might well express our thought, "0, how great has been thy goodness, O, Lord!" A glance over the empire reveals the fact that we have been saved from war. Peace has reigned over the realm, but while there has been no war, there has been the chronic state of Irish disturbsnce. There is a class of men who, for political and monetary purposes keep up a constant agitation. Ireland is the home of some of the best, the most generous, and the most chivalrous people to be found on the face of the earth, but looking at it from this side of the Atlantic, and from the pure soil of a great empire to be, there can be no question of landlord oppression weighing heavily in Ireland. The intense love of the soil, the deep poverty arising from the subdivision of farms till they are too small to give a living make it extremely difficult to better the condition of the people except by emigration. But while it is thus impossible to better their condition, their lot cannot be improved by murder, by outrage, and by the use of dynamite. There are men sheltering themselves under the flag of the United States today with intent to plan murder and outrage of every kind, but who dare not risk their necks on the other side of the sea. Such firey and at the same time cowardly villains as O'Donovan Rossa, such cool, wary, blatant agitators as Parnell, Davitt, and their vile crew, are the real traitors of Ireland. You know how that the representatives of the Government were shot down and how that justice was kept for a time at bay, till the vile, murderous Carey, to save his own neck, turned informer, but when the law had thrown over him its shield, he had as much right to live as the lowest type of manhood, and he was the lowest type of manhood, to be found upon the face of the British Empire. To vindicate the majesty of the law, O'Donnell had to atone for his crime. Such are the facts; what do they speak out of their heart? First, that the law must reign in its authority. Let it be understood that I have not a particle of sympathy with oppression; that I cannot shut my eyes to these obvious facts; that the sub-division of farms, the intemperate habits of the people and the tyranny of ecclesiastical depotism, are the greatest factors in this work of agitation. Let it be understood that I have no sympathy with the means made use of to secure freedom from this state of oppression. I have faith in the wisdom of our rulers; I have faith in God. It is said that at one time when Frederick Douglas, the celebrated colored orator, was lecturing before a large audience, and speaking in despairing words of the domination of the slave party, that that marvellous woman, Sojouner Truth, interrupted him with the thrilling question, "Frederick, is God dead?" And so in reply to our question, I say God is not dead, but liveth and executeth righteousness and judgment for the oppressed, and everywhere, it is true, that the mightiest man in God's universe is the man that has been the most wronged. Outside of this trouble, there has been general quiet, accompanied, however, by anxious thought. An empire so vast in its extent and so varied in its interests, must necessarily give great thought to those upon whose shoulders rests the administration of the affairs of government. The crown yet circles the brow of good Victoria, the best, the most beloved of all the sovereigns of the British realm. The internal affairs of government have been wisely administered. Long may that old flag wave over a free, contented, happy nation! Long may our gracious sovereign sway the sceptre over a free, loyal, enlightened and patriotic people! God save our gracious Queen. God bless our native land. Do you not all reply, Amen? The Centennial celebration:— This year has been noted for its Centennial celebration. As so much was said upon that occasion, I need not review events so recent and so well remembered, but there will come home there two reflections. You are able to trace the advance from 1783 to 1883 and note the progress in every department of art, industry and discovery. The Centennial celebration will aid you to note the progress of the century. You go into the department of machinery and you observe that the venerable sickle has been superceded by the machine to reap and bind. The scythe of our fathers has given place to the mower in its peifection. Instead of the lumbering road wagon, you have carriages light and airy. You go into the department of fine arts and articles for domestic use and see the advance for one hundred years, and as you look over the works of men, how beautiful the scene, as the bright electric light illuminates it instead of the dim candle light of years ago! Then you must fling yourselves into the march of progress. It is not even within the realm of fancy to tell what the next hundred years will do. Even in our recollection, discoveries have been made, so that we are prepared to give attention to what appear to be the wildest speculations. The advancement and adaptability of the telegraph, the power and development of the steam engine, the rapid transit of travel and commerce, the electric light, the telephone — these are only samples of the range that the human mind is sweeping and a prophesy of what the coming years will reveal and fulfil. There springs out of this Centennial celebration a question of national, or, if you will let me lower it down to its proper place, of social and city reform. I refer you to the curse of intemperance in our midst. In two States of the Republic a constitutional amendment to prohibit the sale of liquor was submitted to popular vote. It was carried in Iowa and lost in Ohio. Too much praise cannot be given to the earnest, devoted women who labored to accomplish this measure of success. Its defeat in Ohio is largely attributed to the action of the ministers of the Methodist Episcopal church, who refused to vote or aid the movement, as the party would not go for prohibition pure and fair. In this Dominion legislation has been had to place the liquor traffic under more stringent control. I do not pronounce upon the constitutionality of the question. I am not able to do that, but it does seem to me it is about time to cease to play between Dominion and Provincial Legislatures, and somebody ought to know whose duty it is to control these license matters. I am a prohibitionist, and, therefore, look upon license simply as a means to an end. If liquor be good it ought to be sold as freely as tea, coffee or sugar, but there I take issue and maintain that it is an unmitigated evil, a deadly curse. You may discount my enthusiasm if you please; you may call it fervor if you like, but I ask you to look at these facts. During the present year, in the police-court of this city, 1,519 persons were brought up for various offences. Out of this number, 760 were for drunkenness or offences of liquor selling. There were 308 cases for assault, abusive language and fighting and probably most of these arose from drinking. Now add the two together and you have 1140 cases out of 1519 directly attributable to drinking, and as for the other cases half of the present police force and half the jail and Alms House accommodation would suffice, and the police court open one day of the week. This is an absolute fact, and further I have it on the best authority that nine-tenths of the men in the Alms House are there through drunkennes and perhaps half, if not more, are in the penitentiary for the same cause. I do not argue upon the subject, but I verily believe that prohibition in a few years would change the social aspect of the city, remove the dark skeleton shadow from many homes and render the jail silent and penitentiary accommodation largely needless. You say it cannot be. I reply in the burning words of Sojourner Truth "God is not dead." There are influences at work today, through temperance organizations and through our Sabbath schools which cause me to live in the hope that in 10 years at most this liquor traffic will come under the strong grip of the law backed by public opinion aud will come under social ban as well. I would utter for this needed reform the strongest words of which our vigorous Anglo-Saxon language is capable. I am free from any bond of the curse. I am not speaking as a convert. But I have made my choice as a decided prohibitionist. Meekly, yet determinedly, I say here; I stand a decided prohibitionist, so help me, O God. The Ecclesiastical Review:— I leave national matters and pass into chursh matters, and, while I may give a general review of the progress of the gospel, allow me just a few minutes to speak upon a matter that has touched and altered the whole destiny of our church. I refer you to Methodist union, which the contracting parties have made provision to come in force next July. I did not advocate this basis of union, but I yield to nore in my earnest desire for the complete unification of all the branches of the Methodists. Personally I demurred to the terms but shall loyally carry out the scheme to aid and adjust, as far as possible, anything that I deem to be for the benefit of the church. The times demand concerted action against the organized forces of infidelity, secularism aud superstition. The churches cannot afford to be at war or live at armed neutiality with each Other. Much less can the Methodists afford to build up weak churches. Just look at the organized forces that require concerted action. Just look at these three. (1) Indifference reigns in many parts of the Christian land and hinders the spread of the gospel. It does not oppose, it is not hostile but it lets religions fervor and experience sternly alone. It is content with the theory of religion, pleased with the success of benevolent enterprise, but its heart does not beat with the warm pulsation of the love of Christ, and every minister knows how hard it is to arouse, or thaw the arctic winter that reigns around. (2.) Intemperance is a foe that needs to be estimated at its full strength. Those engaged in this traffic arf united by common interest and their cry is, "Our craft is in danger." Intemperate drinkers, moderate drinkers, business men whose trade depends upon it keep up this liquor traffic. I verily believe if the churches of our land decide for its suppression, and every man voted for prohibition that ballot would wipe it out. Look at this fact. The Methodist church is the largest Protestant church in this Dominion today, and it is almost a unit in its sentiment of temperance. The Baptist churches are equally so, and the other churches are coming into line, and, if these churches by concerted action decide for its suppression, they would crush out the curse and under the zeal of temperance principles they would shake the venomous viper from the hand of slumbering society into the fires of utter consuming. (3.) Superstition is another foe. I do not mean idolatry, pure and simple, but that exaltation of form and ritual, that changing of the real cross of Christ's atonement into the crucifix of Papal idolatry. There hangs upon this point the fact that the most fatal antagonist of Romanism in this country and throughout the world is Methodism. Some years ago, Pio Nono, in indicating the forces arrayed agsinst Catholicism, stated that Methodism was the most formidable. In this judgment we think the Pope was for once infallible. The two systems cannot live together. Let Romanism be triumphant and Methodism must be crushed. Let Methodism be victorious and Romanism must be vanquished. Methodism is the foe of every system of church government that attempts to fetter the human will and conscience, of every form of ritual observance whether musty in its age or juvenile in its mummeries. We must be on our guard lest our liberties give place to bondage, so alien to our spirit, which would mean for Methodism nothing less than utter extinction and absolute death. I wish just here to say that: I rejoice in the growing sentiment of brotherhood in the churches of our land. I do not expect uniformity that will include all the different sects, but I look for the time when they shall all be one in Christian unity fulfilling Christ's prayer, that they may be one. When Judah shall cease to vex Ephraim and Ephraim shall not envy Judah. The Luther Celebration — A few weeks ago the Christian world was full of thought of the work of Luther and the Reformation. Four hundred years ago in that Saxon village was born a child for the important hour of the world and the church’s deliverance. There is no exaggeration in saying that in the beginning of the 16th century the Roman church had approximated as near to Paganisn as it was possible that any system embodying Christian ideas could do. The purely spiritual influence of the Christian church had passed into a secular dominion the most sordid, arbitrary and tryannical imaginable. Instead of reproving sin and social vice, the church has become the source of some of their worst manifestations. Luther, though not the first to denounce these, was undoubtedly the man raised by God for the times. It is true Luther was unconscious of the greatness of his mission and God might have said of him as of Cyrus, "I have girded thee and thou dids’t not know me." I will not trace the history of that struggle, nor describe the day dawn after that long night of darkness, but I just observe that this Luther celebration has emphasized certain principles which we can forget only at our peril,— the Bible as the supreme rule of faith, the great doctrine of justification by faith and the doctrine of the priesthood of every Christian believer. I am willing to leave the awakened sinner to the Bible alone, and let him search it for salvation. It is a matter of history that Luther searched the Bible for direction under the advice of the good old Vicar-General Stanpitz, and by the light of the Spirit there flashed before his mind the great passage, "The just shall live by faith." He had discovered it precisely by the same method as Paul many centuries before. Luther called it the doctrine of the standing or falling church. But Rome had made the priest and sacrament indispensably to salvation. Those who held the doctrine of a prerogative priesthood, of sacramental efficacy, of apostolic succession, of specially endowed spiritual power, are inimical to religious life. This year has thrown light upon the designs of men who want to control the human conscience by priestly absolution upon penitential confession. I want a pure Christianby, such as came from the hands of the apostles before it filtered through the putrescent corruptions of pagan and papal Rome. I want the fountain of the water of life to be free of access to all, without the rites and ceremonies that obstruct the way to it, and this year will be one of the brightest of the century, as it has revealed the obligation of modern Christendom to Luther. I rejoice in the success of the gospel, and though men oppose and sceptics sneer, yet the chariot of our conquering King is rolling onward and though men sneer, yet, like those splendidly caparisoned horses, with heads tossed aloft and nostrils all distended, dash along, and the little cur sits on the curbstone and barks, yet those horses only arch their necks a little more as they move along the carriage of our Queen — so the chariot of our Jesus is rolling along, and, in this closing year, we sing in the prayer:- "O! Jesus ride on till all are subdued, Thy mercy make known and sprinkle thy blood; Display that salvation and teach the new song, To every nation and people and tongue." The Personal Review:— I leave national and ecclesiastical matters and just look a moment on the personal events of life. I cannot read your biography as it has been written. When you entered upon 1883 God placed a blank page before you and consciously or unconsciously you have been writing upon that page. It is now almost finished, for in a few hours the angel of time will turn over the pages and present you with another blank page to begin again. I cannot read what you have written, let me aid your memories a moment. Health, food, raiment, comforts, blessings — you cannot number them, for they are as many as the sands of the sea shore and as brilliant as the stars. Look again at the trials and temptations, but do not miss the grace received, the victories achieved. There were sorrows and bereavements, but behind every shadow the sun shone, and just now the closing year suggests these two thoughts: 1st, that we ought to improve the hour before it passes away forever. Some of you are yet unsaved, rebellious against God. There can be no sadder thought than that another year is about to number itself with the past and you are yet unsaved. How sad if I could bring up the numbers who have passed up to the bar of the great judge and been doomed to eternal death; but surely you here in the sanctuary will not let 1883 pass before giving your hearts to God. Let me give you one message more - it may be the closing message of God to you, "Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." 2nd. Further you will note the flight of time. Suppose this congregation to consist of 500 persons. Now estimate the life prospects of these 500 souls, and by the well-known laws of mortality you arrive at these results: In one year 15 will be dead, in 10 years 150, in 20 years 270, in 30 years 370, in 40 years 440, in 50 years 480, leaving only 20. Let the solemn thought come home unto us tonight — who will be among the 15 of 1884? It may be I, it certainly will be some of you. Tomorrow, where is tomorrow? In another world, for numbers this is certain, The reverse is sure to none. And now the angel of time is about to turn over the last page of this year. What should he write upon the page before he closes it? Yet unsaved? Yet rebellious ? Yet impenitent? Stay, angel of the recording pen, for surely some one in this congregation is ready, thou shouldst write upon the closing page, "Here and now I resolve to give my heart to God." What shall he write upon that page, my Christian friends, for you? Shall it not be, on the last Sabbath of 1883. "I resolve to devote myself through life to God?" And now, angel of the recording pen, close the book, no more to be opened till the great white throne is set and the dead, both small and great, shall stand before God and the book shall be opened and the dead shall be judged according to what is written, on that great day. May yon, my beloved hearers, may I, have my name written in the Lamb’s book of life. Amen.