« AnteriorContinuar »
love in my heart. His power alone we are enabled to make, were all can subdue my stubborn will ; his our own. The more we contemgrace alone can impress my soul plate these things, the more we with a saving knowledge and abid. must be lost in wonder, love, and ing sense of his unbounded good- praise ! ness. Thus, all is of grace! I Pray for me, my dearest friend, can only return to God, what he that Jesus may dwell in my heart himself bestows; for every good by faith; transform my soul into and every perfect gift is from his blessed image; and finally bring above! Oh! then, my dear friend, me with my dear family and friends how should this excite our grati- into his presence above, where tude and love! Jesus first bestows alone is the fulness of joy and his gifts upon us; then receives pleasures for evermore. them back again from us, with Yours most affectionately, sweet complacency; and then pro
T. S. B. READE. mises to reward us, as if the returns Leeds, 30th Nov., 1812.
A WORD TO PASTORS
WHO ARE CALLED TO OPPOSE THE WILES OF ERRORISTS.
REMEMBER that the very best preparation for the difficult and pain. ful work before you is to live in constant communion with God, keeping your own souls continually under the powerful, subduing, refining, and elevating influence of those great evangelical truths which you are called to defend, so that you may be enabled always to speak that you do know, and testify that you have seen.
Especially endeavour to preserve a childlike simplicity of motive, never seeking, in your conflict with the teachers of error, a personal victory for yourself, but only the glory of God through the triumph of his truth. It is amazing how much of the disquietude of God's servants in troublous times arises from their efforts being leavened with self-seeking, and from their looking to their own standing and influence rather than to the wel fare of Zion; and how wonderfully, on the other hand, a pure heart that is willing to be either some
thing or nothing, as God may see best, provided his great name is honoured and his Church is built up upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets—it is amazing how much a pure heart tran. quillizes the soul, and raises it up above all fears of man. He who is conscious of seeking his own glory has always a disquieting presenti, ment of defeat, which destroys his peace of mind. He who has the glory of God for his only aim, knows that his cause shall be successful, and is therefore calm.
Endeavour, by the grace of God, to extirpate from your soul all feelings that even border on ill-will or revenge towards the person of your adversary, Accustom yourself to think of him and pray for him in your closet with tender concern, and then, while you firmly and fearlessly resist his errors, you will be kept from betraying any bitterness of spirit towards him, or any irritation on account of the mean artifices and studied misrepresene 3K
tation and corrupt maneuvering, At the same time, for Christ's to which he, in common with the sake and for the sake of the edifiwhole tribe of errorists will resort, cation of his flock, study the meanto undermine your influence, de- ing of our Saviour's words—“I stroy your reputation, and foment have many things to say unto you, jealousy and divisions among your but ye cannot bear them now ;” of flock.
the apostle's declaration—"I am As a general principle, meet made all things to all men, that I error indirectly by filling the minds might by all means save some.” of your people with the truth which If, after all your efforts, some on is opposed to it. But if it be- whom you greatly relied are secomes necessary, as it occasionally duced from the truth, and from may, to meet it directly, do it being ready to pluck out their eyes boldly and thoroughly.
in your behalf are made your bitter Make your people understand, enemies, while you weep over them not by words only, but by the in secret places, remember the whole tenor of your ministrations, words of the apostle— “ There that you shall not withhold one jot must also be heresies among you ;" of the truth from apprehension of and comfort yourself with the truth the personal consequences to your that “ the foundations of God self of fidelity, or from fear of standeth sure, having this seal, offending men of reputation in the the Lord knoweth them that are congregation.
REVIVAL OF THE CHURCH IN VIRGINIA.
Thus graciously hath God dealt effected; and it need not be said, with us. But does it not, out of how entirely different they were gratitude to God, and that we may from those by which the disgrace continue to enjoy his smiles, be- and downfall of the Church had come us to inquire by what means been wrought. Of the efficacy of this hath been done? how our these means, we are the more conJacob arose, when he was not vinced, from the peculiar and very only so small, but crushed to the great difficulties to be surmounted, earth, trodden under foot of man, which have, nevertheless, in a after having been betrayed by great measure been surmounted. friends, and dishonoured by the We are persuaded that, in no part very ministers of God who were of our own land were such strong appointed to defend him. In the prejudices, and such violent oppocharacter, habits, views, and his- sitions to be overcome, as in Virtory of the man whom God sent ginia, in consequence of the former to us from a distance, to be our character of the Episcopal clergy, head and leader in this work, and and the long and bitter strife which in the views of those, whether from had existed between the Church our own State or elsewhere, who and those who had left its pale, entered into the service, may be which latter were never satisfied seen the religious principles and until the downfall of the former methods of action, by which, un- was accomplished. der God, the change has been Let me briefly allude to the
means used. Bishop Moore, in his previous correspondence, and his first sermon and address, declared his determination to preach as he had ever done, when God so greatly blessed his ministry, the glorious doctrines of grace, instead of a mere morality, such as many of the English clergy had once preached, and such as had been but too common in Virginia. The young clergy, who engaged in the revival of the Church of Virginia, took the same resolve, and made the great theme of their preaching Jesus Christ and him crucified, on the ground of a total apostacy from God on the part of man, which required such a sacrifice, as well as the renewing of the Holy Ghost, in order to meetness for the joys of heaven. But they did not turn this grace of God into licentiousness, and think that either priest or people might indulge in sin. Among the first acts of the earlier conventions, it will be seen, that it was at once set forth before the world, that the revival of the Church was to be undertaken on principles entirely different from those which had hitherto prevailed, and under the influence of which religion had been so dishonoured. It was plainly declared that there was need of discipline both for clergy and laity; and canons were provided for the exercise of the same. Not merely were grosser vices stigmatized, but what by some were considered the innocent amusements of the world, and which the clergy themselves had advocated and practised, were con demned as inconsistent with the character of a Christian professor.
Baptism, by which we renounce the pomps and vanities of the world as well as the sinful lusts of the flesh, and which had been customarily celebrated in private, directly in opposition to the rubric, and
often amidst ungodly festivities, was now sought to be performed only in the house of God, and with pious sponsors, instead of thoughtless and irreligious ones. Candidates for confirmation, instead of being presented because they had reached a certain age, and could repeat the catechism, were told what a solemn vow, promise, and profession they were about to make, and that it was none other than an immediate introduction with full qualification to the Lord's Supper. Of course, very different views of the Lord's Supper, and the conduct of communicants, were inculcated: and the minister even bound, by express canon, to converse with each one before admitting him for the first time to the Lord's Supper. Thus were the whole tone and standard of religion changed, to the dissatisfaction and complaint, it is true, of some of the old members of the Church, and not without condemnation of some from abroad.
In due time, the important measure of requiring that all who enter our Convention to legislate for Christians and Christian ministers, should themselves be Christian professors, was adopted, though there were those at home who feared the attempt, and there were those abroad who prophesied evil in such a manner as to encourage disaffection at home. But God was with us, and has granted the most entire success.
As to the manner of exciting zeal in Christians, and awakening interest in those who were not, it was thought that no better example could be followed than that of the Apostles, who preached, not only in the temple and synagogues, but, in some places, from house to house, as occasion required, and opportunity offered. As to the manner of preaching, written sera
mons were generally preferred in made much use of them for good the pulpit; extemporaneous exhor. to religion? Were they not most tations were often resorted to in sincere in their fear of us, and opsmaller assemblies; and without position to us? Did it not become slighting the excellent prayers of us rather to win them over by love, our Liturgy, there were many oc- and secure their esteem by living casions, both in private families and preaching differently from our and in social meetings, when ex- predecessors? temporaneous petitions seemed edi. Such was the conciliatory course fying both to the pastor and his pursued by our deceased Father in flock. As to the great benevolent God, and followed by those who and religious institutions of the perceived the good effects of his age, our ministers felt that they example; and most happy was the were doing well to encourage their effect of the same. people to a lively participation in And now, brethren, are there them. The Missionary and Bible any who, in view of the past, and Societies, the Colonization and of God's blessing upon the docTemperance Societies, especially, trines preached, and the measures received their most cordial support, adopted, would, for a moment, and they considered it a subject of listen to the proposal of a change? devout thankfulness to God if their More especially, when we rememcongregations took a deep interest ber, that in the course adopted by in the same.
us, we only followed closely in the To provoke each other and their footsteps of a noble host of faithful
works, and especially to awaken the careless to a sense of their lost condition, the ministers would meet together occasionally, and for several successive days, make full trial of prayer and God's word, expecting the blessing promised to two or three who come together, and ask somewhat of God.
To these I will only add a few words as to the spirit cherished and the course pursued towards our Christian brethren who walk not with us in all things of Church order and worship.
We have seen how long and bitter the strife that subsisted between them and our fathers; how violent the prejudices that raged against us; and it would have been easy to enter on the work of revival in the spirit of retaliation and fierce opposition. But would it have been right, and as our Master would have had us do? Had not our forefathers done religion and them some wrong? Had not God
er Church, who, during the last fifty years, have been so successfully engaged in the work of her revival. Though not so deeply corrupted as the Church of Virginia, yet was the English Church most sadly defective, both in doctrine and practice. But God raised up the Venns, Newtons, Scotts, Cecils, Martins, Buchanans, among the clergy, and the Wilberforces, Thorntons, Grants, and Hannah Mores, among the laity, to bear their testimony against the jejune morality of the pulpit, and to condemn, as well by their writings ás example, the worldliness both of clergy and people in that day.
And what a blessed change has been effected! None pretend, for a moment, to question either the effect or the cause thereof. And yet, alas! so fickle, so fond of various experiment is man, there are not a few, who, within the last twelve years, while lavishing praises on those who were the chief instruments of the happy change, have Many are the discouragements yet proposed to do more good by which meet us in our efforts to süs. means and instruments widely dif- tain some of the old, and to raise ferent from those which heaven up new congregations. Among has so greatly blessed for the last the most painful is the difficulty of half century. I need not tell of attaching the poor of this world to the confusion, discord, and unhap- our communion. When our Lord piness already produced by the was on earth, he gave, as one of unwise experiment, and the injury the signs of his heavenly descent, our Church is suffering thereby. the blessed fact, that “to the poor We, my brethren of the clergy and the Gospel is preached,” and the laity, will keep to the old ways; common people, it is written, heard assured that he, “in whom is no him gladly;" _“ the multitudes variableness, neither shadow of followed him.” Such should be turning," will continue to bless us our constant endeavour, my breas he has done, and yet more abun- thren of the clergy; and if, from dantly, if we will only be more the causes alluded to in the past faithful in those ways.
history of our Church, one descripAnd while we have reason, at tion of the poor of Virginia have thought of our present by compar- been almost entirely alienated from ison with our past condition, to us, let us rejoice to know that there exclaim, “What hath God done!” is another description not less acto thank him and take courage; ceptable in the sight of heaven, yet should we beware of boasting, who, if we are kind to them, and or of supposing that all is done, or will take due pains to win them that what remains will certainly over, will more easily be led to and easily be done. I consider it come under the faithful preaching as the great error of many in our of the word. The poor servants Church throughoughout the land, will, if we persevere in our labours that we are too much given to of love towards them, and be to boasting, too apt to overrate our them what God's faithful pastors own successes, and calculate too in every age have been to the poor, largely on far greater while under- be benefited by our ministry, and rating the present or probable fu may, if we will, in conjunction ture successes of others. God will, with their owners, attend to them in his own way, correct us if we be betimes as we do to our own chil. guilty of presumption. Our Jacob dren, become regular and pious is still small, and it becomes us members of our communion. But now, as of old, to ask, by whom whether we think of the rich, or shall he arise? Much is there yet the poor, or those of any and every to be done, and there are many condition and character amongst difficulties in the way. Though us, with the hope of converting we have a goodly number of minis. them to Christ, and attaching them ters, yet by no means enough to to the communion of our Church, carry on the work of enlargement we need not expect much success, as we could wish, and as the door without much zeal and diligence, seems opening to us.
such as was put forth in our first Although we have many churches, efforts for its resuscitation. Our yet how many of the congregations State is not one of those whose are small, and not rapidly increas population is rapidly increasing, ing, being still unable to afford even in which flourishing villages are a moderate support to the ministry, springing up in every direction,