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— sometimes they felt as though they could fully rely on Christ, and then under the influence of temptation, and timidity, and through the want of accurate conceptions of the Divine goodness, they gave way to the influence of unbelief;—yet continuing in the use of the means of grace, their faith became stronger, and ultimately they obtained settled abiding peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; and knew that they had received the Spirit of adoption.
The importance of possessing satisfactory evidence of our conversion is justly stated by Mr. Ford. On this topic he remarks; "An experience of more than twenty years has given me to understand that the trials of a minister and the disappointments of a church, are mostly found in relation to cases where nothing remarkable attended the alleged transformation of the mind and heart."
"Next in importance to conversion itself, is the assurance of having passed from death unto life. And the value of that assurance appears not only in relation to the individual, but also with regard to the highest interests of society. For it can hardly be expected that the man, who stands in perpetual doubt concerning his own religious position, will feel deeply interested about the salvation of others."
The observations made by Mr. Ford on the evidence of conversion, are worthy of much attention; and the following advice we would strongly recommend. '' I would advise each young convert immediately to commit to writing, a distinct account of his conversion. It may serve for grateful reference in future days; and when he has finished his course, it may prove a welcome relic to his surviving friends." Among other evidences of conversion, Mr. Ford mentions, that of love to souls as manifested by efforts for their salvation; the fbllowiug extract on this topic will be acceptable to our readers:—
"The Christian who greatly desires the conversion of sinners, will labour to that end. Wisdom to win souls will be the subject of his daily prayer. Herein will he exercise himself to have always a conscience void of offence, both towards God, and towards men. The recent convert needs not wait for experience in order to commence operations. That day which seals his pardon, should mark the beginning of his zeal; and, in the very act of breaking off those connexions which would be prejudicial to his spirituality and usefulness, he should endeavour, if it be possible, to save some.
An officer in the British service, whose wit and wickedness had rendered him the chief attraction of the circle in which he moved, on his conversion determined to seclude himself, as far as possible, from the company of his old associates. Among them, there was one, with whom he had long -enjoyed an intimate and unbroken friendship. He called on that individual, to announce the change he had recently undergone, and to assure him, that if, for the future, their intimacy must cease, it was from no feeling of disrespect, but simply from an alteration in his religious views; at the same time intimating- how delightful it would be for both, should they ever renew their friendship in mutual faith and hope. The friend listened, with mingled astonishment and pity, to what he considered the ravings of a harmless maniac; and after assuring him that, so far as he was concerned, these new notions should never meet with any ungentlemanly opposition, gave him to understand, that the future renewal of their acquaintance in consequence of a similar change in him, was not only unlikely but for ever impossible.
In the course of a long conversation, the converted officer ound himself unable to produce the slightest impression, and at length he rose, to take his leave. In doing so, he ventured to suggest that as they had spent so many happy hours together, when their tastes and feelings were quite congenial, he should wish this final interview to be marked by something on which both might be able to reflect with pleasure in future days; it would be his last request, and surely so tried and steady a friend would not refuse to oblige him.
His proposal was prayer. Accordingly, they knelt together; the one, as he afterwards told me, reluctantly submitting to what he conceived a most whimsical request, the other most anxiously desiring the conversion of a friend whom his former example had contributed to ruin. That prayer seemed as though it could take no denial, and while it was ascending, the answer came. The trifler was subdued upon the spot, and the petitions presented on his behalf were so promptly and so graciously fulfilled, that the meeting which was intended as a final interview, proved the commencement of a friendship enduring as eternity.
A preacher perceiving, on one occasion, among his hearers, an individual who was known in the neighbourhood as a ringleader of infidelity, was induced to hope that some alteration had taken place in his views. To ascertain whether such was the fact, he called upon him the next day, and told him how happy he had been to see him at the house of prayer the previous evening, the more so as having been given to understand that he did not believe the Gospel. 'Nor you either,' said the unceremonious sceptic. 'VVhat!' he exclaimed, 'do you mean, Sir, to call me a hypocrite?' 'I call you no ill names, Sir,' he coolly replied, 'but what I mean to say is this: you have known of my infidelity for years, and though I have lived all the while within a short distance of your dwelling, you have never before attempted to enlighten me as to these matters; a thing which, to do you justice, I must believe you would have done had you thought them as important as your creed would make them. Indeed, I can hardly fancy that you would see me going to hell, and never try to save my soul.
My informant was unable to tell me what the minister said next. What could he say? Perhaps he mused in silence on the patriarchal confession— "We are verily guilty concerning the blood of our brother," and then retired to his study to prepare a sermon from the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Proverbs, the eleventh and twelfth verses."
In the concluding chapter, Mr. Ford brings under review the "Obligations" sinners are under to become converted, and on this topic he writes with great power. He enforces the claims of redemption; shows the guilt and danger of non-conversion; warns the sinner that he will not only lose heaven, but also have to endure the torments of hell for ever; illustrates the awful consequences of delay by the case of an unhappy female who was stabbed with a bayonet; reminds those who suppose themselves to be more righteous than others, that there is but one way of salvation, and shows the awful consequences of ministerial inconsistency by the following affecting narration :—
"I once attended, on his dying bed, a man whose early history had given promise of better things, but whose goodness was as the morning cloud and the early dew. As I entered the room, he fixed his eyes upon me, with a fearful expression of countenance, and in the spirit and almost in the very language of the Gadarene demoniac exclaimed,—' Why are you come to torment me?' I replied,—' I am not come to torment you; I am come to tell you that there is mercy, mercy yet, and mercy even for you.' He raised his arm with vehemence and said,—' No mercy for me;—no mercy for me; —no mercy for me. I have sinned through all;—1 have despised all;—I am dying, and I am damned!' His arm fell, and he apparently ceased to breathe. I thought him dead, but was mistaken: there still was life, there was even consciousness. Fetching a long drawn breath, as if for some desperate effort, and covering his face with the evident intention of concealing the agony which was written there, he uttered the most awful groan I ever heard, and then expired.
If any thing could increase the horror of that scene, it was the following circumstance. That man ascribed the ruin of his soul to a popular preacher, whom on some public occasion he heard deliver a sermon which deeply affected him, and whom, at the close of the service, he was delighted to meet at the house of a mutual friend. But great was his disappointment. The individual who in the pulpit was a Boanerges, in the parlour played the mountebank, and in either character he seemed perfectly "at home." His adventures, jokes, and anecdotes kept the company, till past midnight, in a roar of laughter. The consequence may be easily imagined. The unhappy man who was doomed to witness that incongruous scene persuaded himself that Christianity was disbelieved by its professional advocates, and thenceforth he treated it as unworthy of his notice. He mentioned that preacher's name. It stands not now among the living. But should any reader of these pages, who, had it not been for that circumstance, would have trembled at the apprehension, that possibly the allusion was meant for him, take warning, and bear in remembrance the apostolic caution, "If I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor." Gal. ii. 18.
The closing appeal to the unconverted is most effective. The danger and duty of the sinner is set forth by the following interesting and affecting narrative :—
"On a part of the British coast, where beetling cliffs, from three to five hundred feet in height, overhang the ocean, some individuals, during a certain season of the year, obtain a solitary livelihood by collecting the eggs of the rock-birds and gathering samphire. The way in which they pursue this hazardous calling is as follows. The man drives an iron crow-bar securely into the ground, about a yard from the edge of the precipice. To that crow-bar he makes fast a rope, of which he then lays hold. He next slides gently over the cliff and lowers himself till he reaches the ledges and crags where he expects to find the objects of his pursuit. To gain these places is sometimes a difficult task, and when they fall within the perpindicular, the only method of accomplishing it is for the adventurer to swing in the air till by dexterous management he can so balance himself as to reach the spot on which he wishes to descend. A basket, made for the purpose and strapped between the shoulders, contains the fruit of his labour; and when he has filled that basket, or has failed in the attempt, he ascends, hand over hand, to the summit. On one occasion, a man who was thus employed, in gaining a narrow ledge of rock which was overhung by the higher portion of the cliff, secured his footing, but let go the rope. He at once perceived his peril. No one could come to his rescue, or even hear his cries. The fearful alternative immediately flashed on his mind; it was being starved to death where he stood, or dashed in pieces four hundred feet below. On turning round, he saw the rope he had quitted, but it was far away. As it swung backwards and forwards, its long vibrations testified the mighty effort by which be had reached the deplorable predicament in which he stood. He looked at that rope in agony. He had gazed but a little while, when he noticed that every movement was shorter than the one preceding, so that each time it came the nearest, as it was gradually subsiding to its point of rest, it was a little further off than it had been the time before. He briefly reasoned thus. "That rope is my only chance of life. In a little while, it will be for ever beyond my reach. It is nearer now than it will ever be again. I can but die. Here goes." So saying, he sprang from the cliff as the rope was next approaching; caught it in his grasp, and went home rejoicing.
Sinner! you tremble at this incident. Believe me, yours is greater peril! Beneath you yawns the lake that " burneth with fire and brimstone."' Stand where you are, you cannot. Time will force you thence, Salvation is set before you. It is nearer now than ever it will be again. Lay hold of it. Cling to it with the firmness of a death-grasp. This is your only chance of safety. And it is not a chance alone. It is a certainty, a glorious certainty; and the only danger is, that refusing to embrace it, you will defer escape until it becomes impossible. Then make that plunge at once. Beneath are everlasting arms."
The importance of the contents of this volume has induced us to extend our remarks and quotations. It is a work of very great value, and is well calculated to awaken the unconverted to a consciousness of the guilt and danger of neglecting to secure the salvation of their immortal spirits. It presents topics of paramount interest, in a most impressive manner; and we doubt not but by the Divine blessing it will be the means of causing many to turn unto the Lord—Christians will do well to read it for their own profit, and to recommend it to others. By lending or giving it, "they may cast bread upon the waters which will be seen after many days."
THE CHARLINCH REVIVAL; an account of the remarkable Work of Grace, which has lately taken place at Charlinch in Somersetshire. By the Rev. H. I. Prince. 12mo. 90 pp. Nisbet and Co.
Charlinch is a small parish containing only about 200 souls. In July, 1840, a zealous young clergyman, having been engaged as a curate, commenced his labours there, and according to the statement in the work before us, there was not then one person in the parish "either converted or awakened," members of his own household alone excepted. For more than twelve months he laboured earnestly to awaken the attention of the people to the interests of their souls, but his labours appeared to be altogether in vain. However, in the latter end of 1841, and the early part of this year, the Lord in a remarkable manner poured out His Holy Spirit, and about one hundred adults and children were brought under deep conviction of sin; and received redemption in the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of sins.
The zealous, faithful, and successful labours of the curate, excited the hostility of enemies of the work of saving souls. "Husbands threatened to murder their wives, and wives threatened to leave their husbands." Complaint was made to the bishop and archbishop; it was alleged that the minister visited persons in other parishes than his own, and admitted (converted) children to the Lord's table who had not been confirmed, and recommended several respectable (but unconverted), persons not to communicate. The consequence was, the curate's licence was taken away by the bishop, and he was thus rendered incapable of continuing his labours ia the church of the parish of Charlinch.
Although we are very much pleased with the general contents of this pamphlet, yet there are some statements to which we cannot subscribe. We instance the following—" He (the curate) told them (the awakened) that their ruin was so complete that none but God Himself could save them from- it, and that it depended on nothing else than His own will whether he would do so; he assured them that if it were His will and pleasure to destroy them, He would destroy them; and to this he added, there was nothing left for them to do but to submit to this."
If the salvation of man depend only upon the will of God, then we may prove from Scripture, not only that all penitent sinners will be saved, but also that all the impenitent will also be saved. For this purpose we might quote the Prophet Ezekiel, by whose mouth the Lord says, "I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth;" and also the words of Peter who testifies, that, "the Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.'' The awakened sinner, according to the teaching of God's word, ought not to be told "that his salvation depends on nothing but the will of God." He ought to be told that God hath not appointed him to wrath, but to obtain salvation ''—that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not perish but have everlasting life." Nor is it proper to direct penitents, that they must wait God's time to receive his pardoning love—God's time is the present time. It is the duty of man to repent and believe without delay, and to all who feel their need of Christ, and are willing to accept salvation by him, God says, "Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation."
The account of the Charlinch Revival will, we are sure, be read with much interest by true Christians, and may especially be read with spiritual profit by ministers of religion, who are forcibly addressed in the latter part of the Work. We subjoin the following extract, which will we are sure be read with profit.
"Whether a minister ought to be satisfied with using the means to save souls, without seeing them actually saved is certainly a question,—a question, too, that can be answered only by referring to the word of God. Now, an examination of Scripture will plainly show, that it is not the mind of God a minister should be satisfied without seeing the fruit of His labour. Our blessed Lord intimates that the object for which He sends His ministers into the world is the same as that for which the Father sent Himself into the world; "as thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world." John xvii. 18. For what did the Father send His Son into the world? It was to seek and to save that which was lost. The object, therefore, for which Christ sends His ministers into the world is to save lost souls. Can it be agreeable to the mind of God, then, that ministers should be satisfied without obtaining the very end for which they have been sent by