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2. They are profitable unto men, either other men or ourselves. By them other men, see there is a reality in religion, and are constrained to examine into its nature eventually, and glorify God. Besides, the practice of good works affords an example which overawes vice and promotes virtue. It spreads, like leaven, a salutary influence over all who see it.
Those who do good works are themselves profited by them. They have the satisfaction arising from a consciousness of having sincerely endeavoured to do their duty. They realize the ap. probation of a covenant God. Every virtuous principle in them is strengthened. They are enabled more successfully to oppose ungodliness, and to grow in grace. They are trained up for the enjoyment of God hereafter, by doing his will here. They are, by the performance of these works, pressing to the at. tainment of an heavenly prize which awaits them, and they escape the doom of the unrighteous and unholy.
Thus, according to the advocates of free grace, good works, are such as are done from a principle of spiritual life, according to the divine law, and for the glory of God as well as our own and others happiness. They are necessary, not because meritorious, but as evidences of an interest in Christ, and of our gratitude to God for his blessings. They are inseparably connected with Christian profession, and must be maintained, or we cannot expect to be saved.
We conclude the explanation by the following illustration. A prince exalts a poor man from beggary to the first honours of his kingdom, and confers on him the greatest wealth. This beggar, thus exalted and enriched by royal munificence, builds hospitals and alms-houses; or by his generosity dissipates human wo in other ways, and does what good he can among the subjects of his prince. Do these acts merit the favour of his prince ? that favour which he already enjoys in the possession of honours and wealth ? These acts only testify his gratitude to his prince, and his love to his fellow-subjects, by assisting them. His prince could not have exalted him for the merit of these actions, for he had not done them. Neither could the beggar do these actions, unless enabled by his prince: and if thus enabled, he could not, consistently with the favour enjoyed, do otherwise than as above stated. The application of this case is obvious. We are poor and helpless by nature, and can do no good works, except enabled by grace. If entit abled by grace to do them, they cannot have merited that grace; for that grace has produced them: and if we have this grace, we cannot but do them: it constrains us, and by them trains us up for heaven.
(To be continued.)
FOR THE CHRISTIAN's MAGAZINE.
Letters from Mrs. Harriet Backus.
Canaan, Saturday-night, May 9th. IT is the eve of that sacred day which the Lord hath sanctified; and, Oh! my beloved friend, the day in which your unworthy Harriet devotes herself publicly to the Lord ; that solemn day, in which a poor finite worm of the dust, before the Almighty Searcher of hearts, angels, and men; professes her faith in Christ, and covenants to be his, taking him for her portion, and yielding herself up entirely to him ; promising, by assistance of his grace, to serve him faithfully, to walk soberly, righteously, temperately, and humbly, in all his institutions; covenanting to forsake all known sin, according to his commandments, and to walk in all the ordinances of the Lord blameless.
· Lord ! can a feeble, helpless worm
Fulfil a task so hard ?
And give the free reward.
· Yes, my dear — , to-morrow I expect to be, ad. initted into the happy family, of which our conde. scending Saviour has professed himself the head. Oh! may it be to continue for ever in that happy union, so sweetly described, with those that love him ; to be for ever a humble branch of the glorious vine; to be one with Christ, and by him be kept through faith unto salvation. “Oh Lord! what is man, that thou art thus mindful of him ; or the children of men, that thou shouldest visit them with such tender mercy ?"
That saw the Lord arise;
" And these rejoicing eyes.'
Oh! my dear friend, my soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoiceth in God my Saviour; for he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaid, and hath enabled me to sing of his mercy. Rejoice with me, my dear that I am this day permitted to approach the table of the Lord, to commemorate his dying love; by faith to be made a partaker of his body and blood ; and thereby to avouch my reverence, faith, and love. Pray for me, my friend ; pray that I may never come unworthily, eating and drinking judginent to myself. Oh! blessed Redeemer ! I plead thy perfect righteousness- I have none of my own to offer : a sinful heart, weary and heavy laden with guilt, is all the return I can make for thy innumerable mercies. Blessed be thy name, that thou requirest no more. Clothed with humility, as with a garment, I cast myself at thy feet, acknowledging I am unworthy the least of all thy favours ; thine is the power, and thine be the glory for ever.
Canaan, March 13, 1802.
IT is the evening of the best of all days, my friend, and Harriet has been permitted to enjoy it far beyond her deserts. I have visited the sanctuary, and called on the name of the Lord. I have been also to the house of mourning, and in the languid countenance of a sick fellow-mortal, have had the remembrance of my own frailty forcibly renewed. All, all is vanity, my — , but fearing God and keeping his com. mandments, which is the beginning of wisdom. The sick person I mentioned is one of our late hop ful converts, a young lad of about eighteen; he is now confined with a dangerous fever, but I have a hope, which is the sweetest of all consolations, that it will be Christ for him to live, and gain for him to die. Religion may appear futile to the healthy, thoughtless sinner ; but trace him to the bed of languishment behold the moment when time is fading from his view, and an awful eternity bursting upon his sight when the long stifled voice of conscience, that faith. ful attendant of the death-bed, breaks in thunders on his ear, and where is then his serenity ? where the contemptuous smile of hardened impiety? Alas! it has given place to the groan of anguish, and the tear of despair!
Oh! my friend, that we were wise, that we understood and would consider our latter end. Can it be, that there are any of our species, who do not some. times take into consideration the trying hour of death, and the different aspect with which that hour appears to the Christian and the sinner ? Can they behold the one triumphing at the approach of the grim king of terrors, crying, Where is thy victory, death ? and the other wishing the rocks to hide them from the presence of the Judge, and not exclaim with Baalam, # Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my
Vol. IV.-No. V. 2 K
last end be like his ?” There are few, I believe, who would rest easy, if they seriously thought the last hour would find them unprepared : but away, con, victions ! away, repentance! when I have a more convenient season, I will send for thee.
Alas! to-day is so like yesterday~it cheats-we take the lying sister for the same and the last hour will come. But, why, some would say, why, Hchoose the gloomy subject of death for a letter of comfort to your friend? Is death then gloomy? Is it not, my the monientous era from which the believer dates all his joys? Is it not the dawn of hap. piness to his soul ? the day-break of felicity that dispels the night of sin and trials, and ensures an eternal day of glory? Oh! when shall we die to vanity, pain, death? when shall we live for ever?
I was at Lebanon last sabbath. My dear it would have rejoiced your heart, and, I believe, have given it a new spring in the Christian course, to have witnessed the transaction I beheld. I saw twenty persons present themselves as living sacrifices to the
Lord. I saw the gray heads bowing to the religion in of that Jesus they had so long neglected. I saw the
youth giving glory to his name, and covenanting, now in the morning of their days, to be his for ever. And your poor, unworthy, sinful Harriet, was allowed to join these newly adopted children in commemorating a Saviour's dying love. She, who is unworthy the crumbs that fall from the master's table, was invited to the board. I hope to gain new strength. But shall I eat bread anew with them in my Father's kingdom? shall I set down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Oh, my soul! glorify the riches of that Sa. viour, who came to seek and to save that which was lost : that grace, through which alone there is hope !
Truly, my beloved friend, the work at N. Lebanon is wonderful. The attention is general. It is a new place, a new people. Our family have attended there, when perhaps there were near, or quite three hun