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to conferblessings, which the wealth of both Indies would be cheaply given to purchase. It is a common saying, that we ought only to relieve the deserving. But this rule must be admitted with many exceptions. The love of Christ was shewn to all. I do not say that our bounty should be repeatedly bestowed on those who will, abuse it; but great distress, though combined with much unworthiness, has a claim on our charity, and we must not suffer our hearts to be hardened by the ungrateful returns we may often meet with from those whom we have benefited. The kindness and love of our blessed Redeemer embraced a world which was corrupt and unworthy; a world in which he was despised, reviled, and, at last, put to a shameful death. The broad mantle of Charity will cover a multitude of sins. The benevolence of our Saviour shewed no appearances of partiality. The limits of his bounty, like those of the light and heat of the sun, were as wide as the universe. This was the more remarkable, as at that time the most narrow prejudices prevailed. The Jew would not shew even common compassion to the Samaritan. But our Lord's benevolence broke through all such narrow lines of distinction. And our charity, if it be like his, will know no difference of sect, party, colour, rank: distress alone will form a claim to our pity. Of our blessed Lord's bounties, all classes of men partook; the Jew, the Samaritan, and the Gentile, the rich and the poor, the learned and the ignorant, the bond and the free, the barbarian and the Greek, the old and the young. He invited even little children to come to him, that he might lay his hands on them and bless them. There is one class of persons in the world, indeed, whose lot is peculiarly hard ; the poor. To them, therefore, was the attention of Christ especially turned. That they might
see they were not overlooked, hes as it were, consecrated poverty, and raised it to an honourable rank, by taking it on himself. He fixed his chief residence among them. He became the son of a carpenter. He chose his apostles from among poor fishermen. He made it a distinguishing mark of his kingdom that to the poor the Gospel was preached. After our Lord's example, then, let the poor have a peculiar interest in our benevolence. It is but little, perhaps, we can do in relieving their bodily wants; but if, by soothing counsel, by kind advice, by condescending attentions, by well-timed assistance, we can make them less sensible of the hardships of their state, we do much. But above all, let us be anxious to teach them that poverty is but a temporary evil; that the time will soon come when all earthly distinctions will cease, and when our happiness will depend on the use we have made here of the talents, be they great or small, which God has put into our hands.
Let us then study attentively the character of that great Pattern which is set before us. Let out kindness to others be formed on his model, and directed by his precepts and example. Thus may we hope for the blessing of God to attend us; for we shall be indeed the children of our heavenly Father, who sendeth his sun to shine on all: and we shall one day hear those encouraging words addressed to us, “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Amen.
To the Editor of the Christian6bserver.
The following notes contain the substance of a sermon, delivered by the late Mr. Patrick, March 16, 1800, at the chapel in Dartmouth Row, Blackheath. They were taken solely with a view to the writer's private satisfaction; but if you think them deserving of a place in your valua
ble miscellany, they may possibly
prove acceptable to some of your
readers. . Yours,
Luke xi. 24–26. “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there, and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” The immediate occasion of this parable was the blasphemy and perverse opposition of the Jews; and it contained a terrible warning to them, that if the present grace and special invitation of God failed of its due effect, their last state would be indeed worse than their first." Many were, without doubt, in part affected and awakened by our Saviour's miracles and preaching, as they had before been, by the appearance and call of the Baptist to prepare for the kingdom of God: in both cases, if they brought not forth fruits meet for repentance, they were nigh to the awful sentence of being cut down as withered trees to be cast into the fire. I shall beg leave to accommodate the subject, however, to our present edification, and without presuming to assert that my explication of what is meant by the unclean spirit, is the proper and primary sense of the words, I shall now consider it as denoting evil principles and habits; and that they are thus personified, the more strongly to impress upon our minds their power and existence. Some awakening providence or extraordinary call may, for a time, so far overpower these, that they may be said to be gone out of * man: this is a crisis that demands peculiar fear, diligence, and Prayer,-for now the man walketh through dry places; his former *musements and enjoyments are em
bittered and suspended; penitence and concern, sorrow for the past and fears for the future, occupy his mind. Conscience urges to duty, but the path is rugged. As a man accustomed to ease, whose feet feel every roughness, and are wounded by every stone, he still goes forward, though slowly; he had armed himself with confident resolves, but these resolves owed their strength to the absence of temptation and the force of present impressions. We naturally think we shall continue to feel in future as we feel in the present instance. We do not consider, that man is a complex being: he not only contemplates an object by means of his intellect, but his hopes and fears, his joys and sorrows, produce impressions on his bodily frame; this latter is continually undergoing alterations, which re-act upon the mind: the animal spirits are in a state of fluctuation, and as the returning wave effaces the traces formed by the preceding one in the sand, so the feelings f to-day are displaced by those of the morrow. Our penitent was not prepared for this natural change; he imagined his first fervours would be abiding. and therefore did not guard against the return of solicitation from evil habits and appetites. Added to the privation of animal pleasures, and the new and uneasy restraints of self-denial, probably his former companions assail him with contempt or entreaty—“he seeketh rest, and finding none,” the thoughts of his former state obtrude themselves on his mind. As a man travelling in a wilderness, in a cold might and dreary road, remembers the ease and enjoyments of his home, which appear from the contrast more attractive than ever, so he recollects with regret the sensual delights he has quitted; regret rekindles desire; desire prompts him to return to them: but conscience interposes; he stops, he pauses. His resolutions, at length, give way. He fondly thinks some other season may be more favourable to his progress; he says, “he will return to his house, from whence he came out,” his former haunts of ease and indulgence. Not that he means to abide there ; he knows it must be again quitted, if he mean to save his soul; but only now to seek a temporary refreshment, which his present weariness seems to require. After many reasonings, at length he determines: he measures back his steps to earth with quickened pace; and now his former abode appears to his view more than ever attractive and desirable, “swept and garnished.” As the traveller, drenched with rain and fatigned by the toils of his journey, longs for the ease and comforts of his own fire-side, so he rejoices in his return to those indulgencies from which fear and conscience had driven him. But is the enjoyment eaceful ? Ah no Guilt rankles in his soul; the dread of what is hereafter to come embitters the present; thorns lie beneath the roses on which he would repose. What can he do? Shall he think again of resuming a task so disficult, a pilgrimage so rugged 2 ... Attempt again to lead a religious life Oh no! he shrinks from the thought. He rather seeks the arts of stupifying conscience and hardening the heart; sensual delight, the dance, the song, festivity and wine, the opiates of infidelity; the hope, the wish, that gladly listens to the lie, “ there is no judgment,” no terrors to come. “Thus he taketh to himself seven other spirits (seducers) more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there.” Surely “the last state of this man is worse than the first l” Oh! beware, ye who feel convictions, who catch a glimpse of your danger– beware how ye trifle with them? and beware how ye rest in them, for the latter involves the former. Consider them as monitors to flee to the Saviour, that you may obtain that grace by which the heart is established, and then will your steps be established too. Then ye will tead tile narrow way, and find it
the way of life; then ye will progressively prove that Wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, though she exercise her probationer with self-denial and with difficulties, that he may be humbled and proved, and capable of receiving good in the latter end.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. I think that some vears have now elapsed since I addressed you on the subject of a great and growing though ancient sect, which, on account of its peculiar hostility to the true principles of our religion, I was anxious that you should endeavour immediately to put down—I mean, the sect of the Non-doers *. Perceiving that my paper has not yet had the effect intended by it, of destroying, root and branch, the heresy against which I wrote, there being now in Great Britain many persons, even of the reformed religion, who still hold fast the error in question, I have determined once more to take up my pen against these antichristians. Antichristians I term them, because I am persuaded that among them generally, and not merely among the papists in particular, resides that spirit of antichrist against which we are warned in the New Testament. The Apostle has told us, that there are many antichrists. Accordingly, the sect of which I speak has many subdivisions. Their heresy, as I before observed, struck its chief root into the catholic church. Popes and cardinals were leaders of the body; monks and nuns were members of it; and the doctrine of indulgences was invented in order to diffuse the spirit of the system among the catholic community. But where is now the church, either popish or protestant, which does not inclose within its walls, and admit even to its altar, many, at least, of the more decent and respectable of the Non-doers. . I am well assured that our dissenting congrega
tions, presbyterian, baptist, and independent, are infested by heretics of this description; and that the heresy exists among the quakers, and has also invaded both the classmen and bandsmen of the methodists. In our own excellent church, the nondoing party is very numerous; and it has been whispered, that some of the bishops themselves lean a little towards this heresy. Many of them, it is thought, are too tolerant of it in their clergy, and some even of those prelates who no longer endure a non-resident, allow many a resident to be a non-doer. But, Sir, it is not my intention, on the present occasion, to speak only in generals. There is a remarkable degree of self-deception among the sect against whom I write; and I suspect that one reason of their continuing to abound so much in this country, in spite of my former effort to expose them, may have been the want of sufficient Particularity in my mode of addressing them. I propose to limit my present paper to the case of a few of those who least suspect that they are of the sect in question. First, then, persons of a naturally forward and active spirit are little disposed to imagine that they are non-doers, and yet may be members of thissect; foraman may be diligent in a bad cause, or he may be zealous for an inferior object, and may counteract, by this zeal, the labours of those who are pursuing a much higher good. A man, though diligent, may be worse than idle, in tonsequence of the prejudices which he entertains, and the errors into which he falls. I will venture to affirm, that we even may be much occupied in works of charity, and yet be non-doers. It may be useful to give an illustration of this point. I am accustomed to attend (let it be supposed) on the concerns of numerous charities in this metroPolis, and have begun to think my*li the soul of every new scheme Choist. Ouskav. No. 114.
of benevolence. I draw up the rules for the projected establishment, take the chair, and harangue the audience. Some simple persons wonder how I can find time for so many good works, for I am the father (let it also be imagined) of a numerous family, and I follow a profession which it requires much diligence to exercise with fidelity to my employers, and with merited success. The truth is, that I am not very fond of that labour which is necessary in the legitimate pursuit of my occupation ; that I love to live in public ; that I am conscious of a certain gift of talking ; and, in short, that I am very vain and superficial in every respect. Beneficence, or rather a reputation for it, is my most easy path to wealth and honour. As a professional man, I am singularly incompetent in the eye of those who are the best judges of the question; but I am able to save appearances, because the imagined philanthrophy of my character has recommended me to a few worthy persons, who are my dupes. In the very exercise of my seeming beneficence, I perhaps, on the whole, do rather more harm than good; for I offend many well-disposed persons by my presumption when I am at a public meeting, and cause men of business to leave the room by the length to which I protract the debate. By assuming the dictatorship of many a promising institution, I not unfrequently prejudice the cause of which I think that I am the support. Moreover, I finish nothing; I am ever in quest of some new amusement, some fresh means of advancing myself into notice, some still more agreeable object of pursuit. My children, in the mean time, are ill educated; my wife seldom sees me; a thousand little ordinary duties of life are neglected. I am never at home. I know the interior neither of my family nor of my own heart. In short, I am a hollow character; a deceiver of others, and a self-de3 A -
ceiver; a Non-doer, who thinks, nevertheless, that practical religion is his great characteristic. Let us turn to another description of Non-doers. Severus is also, as he thinks, a great friend to practical religion, which consists, as he often says, in keeping himself unspotted from the world. Severus often declaims against all places of public entertainment, and especially against the theatre ; and he wonders how some persons, who seem to him to understand the doctrines of the Gospel, can allow themselves to go so much into the world. He dislikes pomp and shew, as well as frivolity and dissipation; he is a frequenter of the chapel, and the familiar friend only of those whom he deems to be very strict and serious like himself. Severus, if this were all, might be pronounced a pious and sterling Christian ; but there is another side on which he must be viewed: he is by no means so self-denying in some of his habits as you would infer from the strictness with which he judges others. He is late in bed, rather self-indulgent at the table, sharp towards his servants, capricious in the management of his children, and so often in an ill-huInour, that he is secretly disliked by most of those who are much in his house. He has little kindness, and still less generosity; he is unamiable, unaccommodating and suspicious. When you view him at a little distance, he appears a most serious character, you approach him with awe, and expect, if admitted into his house, to witness a saintlike calmness and beneficence, and to behold the manners of a most strict disciple of Christ; but after the residence of a few days you discover, that instead of peace and love; all is discord and confusion. He complains of the depravity of man, and is completely orthodox in this doctrine of our religion, but of his own peculiar kind of depravity he is little conscious. He laments
his iniquity in general, and judges of others by the degree in which they affirm themselves to be miserable sinners, but he has made little progress in his own victory over himself. He is very apt to be angry, and if you seem to charge him with any particular fault, then his lip quivers, his eyes begin to dart fire, or, perhaps, he turns away with disdain and disgust; for he assumes that you are prejudiced against the Gospel, and against him, on account of his being so strict a professor of it. In truth, there is much pride within his heart. He also is a Non-doer of another sort. There are, moreover, some very good judges, and even critics in all matters of religion, men who are sober thinkers and decent livers, who swell the sect of the Non-doers. Those will doubtless concur in all that has now been said. They complain of the characters just described, and of the common want of practical religion. The misfortune is, that they mistake their own general approbation of what is right for the actual practice of it: like the Pharisees, “they say and do not.” Their religion is in word and in tongue, not in deed and in truth. Are there not ladies of this class, who, when they are talking around the tea-table, are liberal in their praise of very pious persons; who are orthodox in their creed, and somewhat religious in the general cast of their conversation; to whom, nevertheless, if you were to put that question, “What doye more than others?” they would have little answer to make They are about as good tempered as people of the world; about as beneficent; about as strict and self-denying. They differ only in this small particular, that they, perhaps, censure the common kind of dissipation a little more, and give into it a little less. The persons of whom I now speak, do not keep the heart with all diligence; they do not take any great heed not to offend with their tongue; they have not the law of