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getting him under the ministry of the word, and by special earnest prayer, in secret, endeavour to save his soul from death.
“5. Let not the work degenerate into a system of proselytism, but let it be prosecuted in the spirit of a generous catholicity, avoiding all bigotry and mere sectarianism ; and let its agents simply seek the conversion of the soul, and rest not satisfied without it.
“6. Let every new convert be specially and particularly instructed that it is his imperative duty to engage in the same work; and that if he do not thus act faithfully to the principles of his holy religion, the probability is that he will very soon lose his confidence and his comfort.
“7. Let a monthly meeting be held to report progress, and for mutual counsel; and let no subject whatever be introduced into that meeting foreign to its important design.
“8. Let not the plan in any of its operations interfere with the established and ordinary means of grace, but be regarded only as auxiliary to the public preaching of the Gospel; or the Lord will withhold his blessing from it.
“Now here is a plan for the world's speedy conversion, comprising no complicated machinery, but marked with a simplicity adapted to every class of society, and every grade of intellect, and founded upon the scriptural and acknowledged principle,—that it is the duty of Christians to diffuse their religion, and to labour in every possible way to effect the conversion of sinners. QuGHT IT NOT THEREFORE TO BE TRIED? The Gospel has been making progress in the world about eighteen hundred years; and it is computed there are not more than ten millions of true Christians, or about one-hundredth part of the human family, savingly converted to God. Let conversions go on at this rate, and from the present period it will take upwards of one hundred and seventy-seven thousand years for the Gospel to fill the whole earth. Something, therefore, must surely be wrong or defective in the present mode of seeking the salvation of the world. It is essential that Ministers faithfully preach the word, that the Bible be printed and extensively circulated in every language, and that Missionaries be sent to every heathen tribe ; but these important measures alone will not do; for it is my settled conviction that the earth will never be filled with the knowledge of the Saviour until every man shall say to his brother and to his neighbour,“ Know ye the Lord.” Christians must therefore awake to their individual responsibility; and new converts must be plainly told they will grieve the Holy Spirit and lose their religion, unless they obey its dictates in seeking to save those around them. Had this been insisted upon from our pulpits, in a manner corresponding with its importance, as it respects both the church and the world, the moral aspect of the present day would have been very different from what we find it: but in some cases it has been entirely omitted, and in others treated in a way not likely to attract much attention; and hence sinners have been allowed to perish in the presence of Christian professors, without any effort being made to save them.
“It appears to me that five things are absolutely necessary for the efficient and perfect operation of the plan proposed :
"1. The parties adopting this mode of working must be deeply pious, fully consecrated to God : for just in proportion as they are placed under the control of divine grace, will they be morally qualified for teaching others the great truths of the Gospel: David was evidently aware of this when he prayed, “ Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto Thee." If Christians would, therefore, be extensively useful, they must seek to have a clean heart and a right Spirit, to be entirely sanctified, to be “ filled with the Spirit," and to have “every thought
brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ :” for such spiritual attainments will give them not only genuine love for souls and pure zeal in the Redeemer's cause, but great power with God in prayer; and it will save them from the influence of every selfish and mixed motive in their attempts to bring sinners to the foot of the Cross.
"2. The parties adopting this mode of working must place no confidence in any plan, however excellent, but rest exclusively upon Divine aid for success; and never at any time or in any way receive the incense of praise, which belongs to God, but most resolutely and invariably give all the glory to him, whose right it is to receive the adorations and praises of his people for any good that may be effected by their exertions. If this be not constantly attended to, the machinery may move with order and beauty, but very soon there will be no “Spirit in the wheels."
"3. The parties adopting this mode of working must determine to persevere ; and alihough they may for some time seem to labour in' vain, that must not discourage their efforts; for in due time they shall reap if they faint not. If, on speaking to an individual about his soul, any of them should be insulted, or even abused, he must not be deterred from persevering, or induced to say, in the language of a desponding unbelief, " It is in vain to attempt the conversion of that individual ;' but rather let him, in such a case, be more diligent in his attention to him, and more ardent at the throne of grace in his behalf, remembering the long-suffering of God, and that men are not be turned aside from the path of duty by the mere aspect of things, however discouraging; for he that “observeth the wind shall not sow, and he that ragardeth the clouds shall not reap."
“4. The parties adopting this mode of working must be careful to use the divinely appointed means in the way most likely to produce the desired result. It is not enough for a Christian merely to speak to a sinner about his soul, but he must speak fitly; for a “ word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a picture of silver." There must be a fitness not only in the character and matter of the speaker, but in his spirit and manner of speaking; or, instead of softening, he will harden the hearts of those to whom he speaks, and excite powerful, and it may be unconquerable, prejudice against the Gospel of Christ. An abrupt and uncourteous manner, and a harsh and domineering spirit, are not only inconsistent with the Christian character, but they render that which is spoken, however good in itself, unfit for edification. “ Speaking the truth in love,” is the rule which the Apostle lays down. “It is not detracting from the force of truth, or attaching too much worth to persuasion, when we say that the success of truth depends very much on its adaptation to man's affections, and on the spirit of love in which it is administered. In making religious truth acceptable to the mind, we cannot expect God to depart from his usual mode of making other truths agreeable, or to interfere to make that convincing and persuasive to the affections, which is exhibited in a mode and manner forbidding and repulsive. In the heart of man there are such deep-rooted prejudices against the truth to which the Christian invites attention, that he needs to present it in every form of alluring and fascinating aspect of which it is capable. It is supposed that every good man can win souls ;' but he who achieves this is described as wise, knowing the elements of the soul, and how to act upon them. They that would win souls, must go wisely about it; for if they fail, it will be through lack of wisdom, not through the want of influence.
“5. The parties adopting this mode of working must embrace the most likely opportunities of success. Tract distributers, in calling to exchange the tracts they have previously left with the families of a certain district, should embrace the opportunity of making such inquiries relative to the important subjects on which their little messengers of mercy treat, as may, by the blessing of God, lead to conviction, repentance, and salvation. Sunday
school Teachers, into whose hands a large portion of society is given, to be moulded and fashioned, should embrace the opportunity thus afforded, of seeking to give to it the form and likeness of the divine image which the Apostle describes to be “ righteousness and true holiness.” Pew-holders in any place of worship, who accommodate strangers with seats, should embrace the opportunity afforded at the conclusion of the service, of entering into conversation with them on the subject of the sermon; and by courteous behaviour, endeavour to make a favourable impression upon their minds, that, if possible, they may lead them to Jesus. Visiters of 66 The Strangers' Friend Society,” who seek out and relieve the sick and friendless poor, should embrace the opportunity of telling them of the great Physician of souls, and how they may secure the “ true riches." Indeed, Christians should “ sow beside all waters.” But whilst they should embrace every opportunity of usefulness, each believer should also, for reasons already stated, solemnly resolve, by the help of God, to pay special attention to some one individual, that, if possible, he may be the instrument of leading him to Jesus; and when the Lord has given him success with that one, let him fix upon another ; as such systematic and concentrated exertions are more likely to succeed than those promiscuously and undeterminedly made."
Most assuredly if such measures as are recommended in the preceding quotations were generally adopted, the result would be an amazing and glorious improvement; the Church would arise and put on her beautiful garments, the wilderness would become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field as the garden of the Lord. Oh that we may feel, as we ought to feel, our responsibility ; let the claims of the world, of the Church, and of Christ lead us in the exercise of burning ardent zeal and love, to seek as we ought to seek, the salvation of those for whom Christ died. The following extracts evidence what may be done by the individual efforts of private Christians for the benefit of immortal souls :
"The aggressive principle upon which the plan suggested for the world's conversion is based, I have known worked out with encouraging success. A female with whom I am acquainted acted upon it with great zeal and diligence, and in the course of three years she had the unspeakable pleasure of seeing twelve persons walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comforts of the Holy Ghost, whom she had been instrumental in bringing into that blessed state of Christian experience; and many of them had been living in circumstances of most revolting depravity. The same line of conduct was adopted by three young men, private members of the Wesleyan Society, of most fervent and decided piety; and so successful were their efforts, that above thirty persons, of whose conversion no rational doubt could be entertained, were in one year led to the Sinners' Friend by their truly benevolent and energetic exertions.
"I have also known classes in the Wesleyan Society act upon this principle; and, generally speaking, they have in the course of one year doubled their numbers; and one class for a considerable time doubled its number every quarter, and was divided four times a year. Other examples might be mentioned. An interesting female whom I know found peace with God in a Prayer Meeting, and went home and told her friends what great things the Lord had done for her. A deep impression was made upon their minds by her statements, and in less than six months her husband, her father, her brother, her lodger, and two of her sisters were brought to the Saviour, and admitted into his church, as the result of her Christian exertions. A gentleman one Sabbath evening, on his way to his usual place of worship, spoke to
a female who was violating the Sabbath, and in other respects sinning against the Lord, and prevailed with her to accompany him to the house of God. She was deeply awakened under the sermon she heard ; and in a few weeks obtained peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Her conversion attracted the attention of her companions in sin, many of whom became deeply impressed by her altered character; and in one year the conversion of that one female led, either directly or indirectly, to the conversion of more than fifty individuals. Another gentleman of my acquaintance was, on a certain occasion, in a draper's shop on business, when a proud young man entered, and, as he was not immediately attended to, he began to use most profane and insulting language, and in other respects to behave most improperly. As soon as his wrath had a little abated, the gentleman in question called him on one side, and said, “Sir, I hope you will not be offended with me, for expressing a sincere wish that you may in future avoid the temper which I have just witnessed, as it tends to injure you in the estimation of others, and is inconsistent with a preparation for heaven.' 'Do you know the eleventh commandment, Sir ?' said he sternly. Yes, I do,' was the reply. · Then why don't you attend to it?' “I am attending to it at this very moment.' 'You are not, Sir; or you would not have interfered with me; for the eleventh commandment is, that every man mind his own business." "If that be the eleventh commandment,' said the gentleman, 'my conduct is in strict accordance with it; for, as a Christian, it is my business to do all in my power to convert a sinner from the error of his ways, that, if possible, I may save a soul from death, and hide a multitude of sins. But I think the eleventh commandment is the new commandment' given unto us, that we love one another ;' and had I not loved you, I should not have warned you of your danger, but allowed you to sport with your soul on the brink of hell. He was silent for some time, and soon afterwards departed in a very thoughtful mood. The words thus spoken proved like a nail fastened in a sure place, and resulted in the young man's conversion to God. The same gentleman, on another occasion, said something to an individual on the necessity of personal religion, and affectionately exhorted him to forsake his sins, and turn to the Lord with all his heart. Having done so, he left him; and their next meeting took place in another country, after the lapse of several years. The gentleman was stopping at a lodging-house, in a large commercial town, and one day a person drove up in a carriage, and inquired for him. He was shown into the drawing-room; and no sooner did he fix his eyes upon the gentleman, than he burst into tears, and wept loudly; but after a short time he recovered himself, and said, “Sir, I think you don't know me; but perhaps you may remember saying something to an individual about his soul, several years ago, whom you met in R— under somewhat painful circumstances ?' I have some faint recollection of it,' said the gentleman.' "That individual,' said he,
soon afterwards left the country, but with a deeply wounded conscience, occasioned by what you said to him; and when he arrived in this town, he sought the Lord with all his heart, and soon obtained peace through believing. He is now happy in God; also a Leader and Local Preacher in the Wesleyan Connexion ; and the individual is now before you.' Thus was the bread cast upon the waters found after many days.
“ Perhaps Christians cannot adopt a more efficient plan of communicating religious truth to others, with the view of awakening their consciences, and exciting them to seek the salvation of their souls, than that of detailing on proper occasions the particulars of their own conversion. This plan was acted upon not only by David, as we learn from several of his psalms, but also by the great Apostle to the Gentiles, as his public discourses sufficiently prove; and indeed it was a mode of teaching very generally adopted by the primitive Christians. It is true that great consistency of character is absolutely necessary to render this method of seeking to do good successful, but the same is necessary to give efficiency to any other mode of usefulness ; for if Christians would win souls to Christ, their conversion must be “ chaste, and coupled with fear :" if they would have others to glorify their heavenly Father, they must “ let their light so shine before men, that they may see their good works :" and if they would see the wicked honour God, in the day of visitation, they must “ by well doing put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”
"But perhaps many persons who wish to speak to sinners, with the view of bringing them to Christ, are deterred from so doing in consequence of not knowing how to begin and prosecute the work with any hope of success. The following extract from the letter of a lady may afford such persons counsel and encouragement. Knowing the usefulness of its author in the conversion of sinners, I applied to her for information relative to her proceedings, and received the following communication :
" I was from home at a watering-place when the Lord revealed himself to my soul, and in the overflowings of my first love, I began the same week to speak in his name. One day, whilst walking out, I met with a lady, a perfect stranger, whom I accosted by saying, “You seem ill and alone like myself.'
Yes,' said the lady. Pray are you from L- ?' 'I am, and have been seeing my husband to the packet, who is returning home this morning.' 'I am also from L- i may I ask what place of worship you attend?' 'I attend Mr. D— 's chapel.' . Have you found peace with God ?' 'No; and that is a subject which greatly troubles me.' I then told her how it might be obtained, and encouraged her by my own experience to look for it at once. I returned to my lodgings, and wrote to a friend in L- , requesting him to call upon this lady's husband, and to speak to him about his soul. He did so ; and the work thus commenced was followed up, until, by the blessing of God upon the means used, the lady, her husband, and their servant were all truly converted. On my return to my family, I felt a deeper baptism of the Spirit, and longed to be useful in bringing souls to God. Soon afterwards I had occasion to go into a shop to make a purchase; and being shown an article that I inquired for, I said to the lady who served me, 'This is too smart.'
What!' said she, are you a Methodist ? ' I replied in the affirmative; and turning pale, she said, My father belonged to that body, and sometimes preached in chapel.' I then spoke to her on the importance of personal religion ; and told her that I should feel great pleasure in accommodating her with a seat, if she would attend the chapel." She consented, went, and was deeply affected. The same week I called upon her, to give her such advice as I might find to be necessary, and ascertained that her husband kept a gambling-house. They had four children, the two eldest of whom were very fond of the theatre, but I prevailed upon them to attend the Sunday School; and after many an interview with the family, the conversion of the mother and her two eldest children has been the blessed result. Some time after this I went into another shop to purchase a box, and the person who showed it to me was an interesting young woman with a child in her arms. I began to caress the child, and made some inquiries about it, when she said, 'I am not the mistress of this house ; but as my husband left me when this child was but a month old, I came here to my sister.' •Poor dear!' said I, if you have not religion, you very greatly need its support and comfort.' On inquiry I found she did not attend any place of worship regularly, and I invited her to attend -chapel, and said that it would afford me pleasure to do her all the good in my power. She complied with the invitation, and called upon me the next week to inquire for a situation, when a very suitable one most providentially offered, to which I sent her, giving her the best advice in my power, and feeling persuaded that the Lord would bring her to himself. In a few weeks she found the blessing of pardon, whilst her excellent mistress was praying with her, and is now a most devoted Christian. On another occasion,