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currence of others for their consent, and to think there can rejoice in the sun-shine of Christian practice, without be no error in ourselves when we hear of no objection from recollecting the source from which that practice is drawn, others. But this is not a state in which man can be safely and exult in the light of moral truth without remembering placed. The heart is deceitfulabove all things and desperately | the mercy by which it has been shed upon their path. wicked; and till that heart is changed, its real essential na But there can be no medium in our feelings towards ture will betray itself, either at hoine or abroad, whenever | God. He never can be a subject of indifference to man. opportunities are offered, and power is given. And thus it He must be loved, or He must be hated; and though is, that we continually are compelled to see how selfishness hatred may be cloked by apparent indifference, and man establishes itself in home, and abuses the immunities of may affect a neutrality which he is not capable of feeling; home to the destruction of the soul which thinks that it occasions will be continually occurring when the truth will has found its rest there. Man shrinks from the collision be br sught to light, and the secret enmity of the heart will of the world, not because he hates the worlıl, as withdraw be disclosed. Of these none are more conclusive than ing him from God; hut because his pride is offended by it, such as present God to our view in the form of a beneand because he is withdrawn from self by it. He in factor, and require from man the acknowledgement of trenches himself in the sacred precincts of home, not be dependence and of gratitude. A cold abstract recognition cause he loves home, but because he loves himself, and of power, of wisdom, of truth man can admit; for he there can there love himself without disturbance or contradice seems to confess what cannot be denied; and to confess tion; and thus, it is that he merely escapes from the it without compromising his own dignity. But to admit tumult of the world in order to be the petty tyrant of his that every blessing he enjoys is derived directly from little circle, the inflated idol to which all at home must God, and comes to him as the free gift of infinite love; bow down and worship.
this involves a humiliation which man while unconverted Of the two evils we hardly know which is the greatest. cannot endure; and he avoids a recognition which gives The one is more manifestly evil, but the other is more bin pain whenever it is repeated. deeply wiong. The one offends the judgment of man 1 But beyond this, there is yet another hindrance, which most grievously, but the other may be more offensive in is derived from the fear of the world; and men who have the sight of God. The one has most appearance of so far escaped from the power of the world as to feel that danger, the other may have more of the reality of danger; the world is wrong, and to shake off many of its practices, just as that disease is most to be dreaded, which does not still retain so much of their old habitual subjection to it, betray itself outwardly, but marks the progress which it is that they dare not brave its ridicule. In this state they making by slow and hardly perceptible decny. But in will admit that the practice in question is reasonable and either case we see that of all God's creatures there is none right; they will wish that they had the spirit to introduce more exposed to abuse than home; and in conformity it; but the iron of their old fetters has entered into their with this, we invariably find that home, if it be not made souls; and with all their conviction of its expediency the temple of the living God, becomes the temple of self. and necessity, they have not the courage to begin it. It If it is not sanctified by the word of God and prayer, it is is painful to think that this should be the case ; but the but like that swept and garnished house into which the spirit fact cannot be doubted; and many are the families left that had been once driven out entered, and where having destitute of this great security for domestic peace, tlırough once found admission, he brought in worse inmates than the base and cowardly irresolution which withholds their himself, till the last state of the man was worse than the first. heads from proposing it.
It is then by the word of God and by prayer, that But even when the effort has been made, the step been home is to be protected from the dangers to which it is taken, and family prayer been made the practice of the exposed; and family worship must be regarded as the household : it is not always, nay perhaps we might add, great security for family peace, and for all domestic it seldom is what it ought to be. In many cases it is a blessings.
mere service of formality. Destitute of warmth and feelWe will assume this then as granted. No man who ing, it can hardly be called a reasonable service ; and we thinks seriously is likely to deny it, and we will infer the know not what value to ascribe to it, or what good duty of Family-worship from its obvious necessity. Why to expect from it, when it seems little more than a recog. then we may ask is it not universally adopted--and why nition of dependence upon God, and a confession of where it is adopted, is it carried on in s'ich a manner as allegiance. deprives it of its efficacy.
In other cases, where we have reason to hope better 'If it is not universally adopted, it is simply from this things, there is the appearance of formality; a sort of reason, that the world still retains its original character of studied absence of all that which bespeaks life in prayer, enmity to God; and while it retains that character, must and marks the presence of the Spirit with those who pray; dislike every thing which reminds it of its dependence and this, as coming within the reach of argument, we are upon God, and is expressive of allegiance to flim. There willing to advert to. There is an old French Proverb are many men capable of appreciating the comforts of , which says, No man is a hero to his Valet de Chambre. liome, and desirous to secure their possession, who still Like other proverbs, this may be true in general, but it is are unwilling to consider them as dependent on the bless certainly often false. Heroism of the purest, noblest kind, ing of God, or to receive them as derived from his bounty. may be witnessed by those who attend men in their weakRespectable and amiable, enlightened by education and est hours; and the grace of God may impart a consistency refined in taste, they can understand the happiness of of character, a steady permanent fortitude and magnanhome, and can contribute to its enjoyment; but God is imity, which the world has agreed to consider as impossinot in all their thoughts; they do not see Him in his ble. But on the same principle as the French think, that works; they do not feel llim in his girls; and they can no man will appear truly great to those who see him
when he is off his guard; we seem to feel that no man | a wish for separation. Add to this, that the same prowill appear a saint to those of his own houseliold; and a cess which subdues pride, subdues likewise every resentman conscious of inc nsistency of behariour, shriuks from ful, every unkind, every malignant feeling. Who can an office which presents him to his family in a light which hate a man when he is on his knees? Who can condemn seems at variance with his general habits Oppressed by him, who is condemning himself? and who can retain this conviction, he fears to yield to his own feelings. He a bitter or malicious feeling against one, whoin he sees tries to be cold, i hat he may not condemn himself! He truly humbled before God in confession ? On the other contradicts his words by his gestures, and avoids the fervor haud, who can rise froin that act, the confession of sins, which he ought to feel towards God, in order that he and not feel all desire of revenge overcome by the may not seem to be an hypocrite before men. This is consciousness of his own need of mercy? Does he feel but one of those melancholy dilemmas into which the that he needi mercy; can he hesitate at shewing it? double-minded and wavering continully fall; and like all Does he hope that he has found mercy; can he refuse such dilemmas must be pnt an end to without livss of to others that which he has received himself from God ? time, by a more complete self-surrender, by determination Does lie believe that his Lord has forgiven him that in a work where all the blessedness belongs to decision, great debt, which his sins had contracted; and can he and all the difficulty to indecision; and where the work hesitate at forgiving his neighbour also ? is accomplished at once, if it be but taken up with sin. The saine benignant influence follows from every cerity. Inconsistencies no doubt wi'l exist, for who can other kind of prayer. If we desire that for which we be exempt from them while in the flesh. There will be pray, must we not regard every one who is united much to bumble him who prays ; nor is it unreasonable with us in prayer, as co-operating in the saine work, that he who professes to give utterance to the common as contributing to the accomplishment of our wishes, as confession of sins, should feel more deeply than others our helper and supporter ? While thus occupied in the the weight of the transgressions he laments. But the
saine pursuit, while thus seeking the same thing, the most fearful inconsistency of all, the presenting ourselves interests of each becomne the interests of his neighbour; before God with the language of the sinner, and the ap. aud prayer, which leads the hearts of all to God, withparent self security of the righteous; the asking for all draws them froin those pursuits which separate man we need, with the calmıness of those who need nothing; | from inal, and fixes them in that where alone they can this will at least be avoided ; and if the judgment of be united without fear of competition. man is risked, the judgment of God may be escaped.
Nor is the effect of fainily p;ayer less marked wih Let these difficulties then be overcoine; and it may regard to other sins. The establishment of it is a pledge be hoped that as a slight effort of thought proves them given by the fainily that it shall be their endeavour to to be groundless, they may be overcome with ease by | live in every respect according to the will of God; and those who honestly attempt to do sy; and then what a
as they thus solemnly recognize their dependence on means of grace, what a source of peace and domestic Him, they as solemoly profess their determination to do comfort seems opened to the family! Whether we look their best to please him. It is, therefore, the avowal to the direct effect, the answer promised to prayer, of a resolution to avoid all ungodly practices, however the promise repeated with assurance, when the
countenanced by the world. It is an avowed intention number of those who pray is increased, and two or
to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present three are united in the work of supplication---or whether
world; and every head of a family, in making this a we look to the indirect effect, the effect produced by the
part of his domestic habits, seems to be repeating for employment itself on all who are engaged in it; and himself and for those belonging to biin, a determination what can seem more conducive to Their common like that which was uttered by Joshua to the assembled welfare and their general happiness ? Consider the Tribes of Israel, “ If it seem evil unto you to serye indirect effect. A family, be it large or small, consists the Lord, choose ye this day, whom ye will serve. But of individuals knit together by certain ties, some of as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” which the word of God recognizes as the most sacred of
And who can describe the sanctifying influence which our nature is capable, and all of which are produced on all the members of a family by such a sanctioned hy some express declaration of his will.
resolution announced and maintained by their federal The happiness of each depends alınost entirely on the head? Who can describe the protection which is thus degree in which these ties are understood and yielded
cast over the innocence of childhood, the susceptibilities to; and yet such is the blindness and perverseness of our
of youth, when religion is announced as the character nature, we are continually forgetting the character of of the household, and the name of God is written on its our connection, and endeavouring to weaken or to shake doorposts ? Evil, no doubt, will still exist, but it will it off. Pride lurking in every heart is teaching all to not venture to shew itself. A deeper process of sancti. require too much, or to concede too little; and if per fication will be needed in order to realise the purpose sonal feelings cannot be brought to bear upon this do. which has been announced; but that process can hardly minant spirit, and beguile or subdue it, the strongest be carried on unless it be thus cherished and protected. exercise of authority is needed in order to prevent an The Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, must be found fulfilling immediate disruption of the bond.
his own specific operation in each individual, but He is But it is the first effect of prayer to humble all; and most likely to be found where every thing that grieves because it humbles all, and makes all feel their de is studiously removed ; and where his presence and his pendence upon God, it takes away, at least subdues for aid are duly sought, in the word of God and in prayer. a time, that pride which originates offence, and prompts
A FEW MINUTES CONVERSATION WITH AN I
UNBELIEVER. RETURNING from my parish Church on Christmasday last, I fell in with an acquaintance, whom I knew to entertain what are called free Thoughts on the subject of Revelation. Allow me to send you, as il slight fragment, the following report of our conversation.
I. B. S. I always pity you, Alciphron, and particularly at the present season. The air of cheerfulness which so generally prevails, and makes even winter smile, must fill you with melancholy, when it reminds you of what you suppose to be the errors of your fellow-creatures, The village steeple, which froin time immemorial has been accustomed to proclaim the message of glad tidings, inust appear to you to usher in the reign of superstition : since bells repeat what the liearers think. Nosight is more wel come to the eye than those knots of country people, as they wind among the hills which intercept the spire froin our view, returving in family groups from the church where their fathers and forelathers have been long used to celebrate the assurance of God's good will towards men. It brings a thousand delightful associations to my mind. You, the mean while, must be inwardly lamenting such idle coinmemoration of the origin of their bondage and their error. To-day, too, the sun itself re-appearing after a season of unusual gloominess and severiy, assorts with the impressions on my inind. The clouds and darkness which had long shrouded the throne of God, seem suddenly dispersed; the scene is lighted up and brightens; but yet it is the sunshine of winter still. For you, and such as you, who close your eyes against the light, and too many others who hate the light because their deeds are evil, spread a gloom over the distance, and like the patches of snow which lie unmelted on the hills, remind us that it is a wintry world after all.
You must at least thank me, he replied, for supplying a shade to your picture, which would otherwise, like many other creations of the fancy, be too bright to be interesting.
There is no fear, said I, of want of shade in any picture of religion in these day, when so many designing inen are busily employed in dispelling every ray of reinaining light from the minds of their countrymen, and every gleam of comfort together with it. But I suppose that these efforts, which most of us are witnessing with aların, or at least with horror, are a matter of satisfaction and congratulation to you. You seem to foresee the triumph of your principles.
By no means, answered Alciphron, I feel none of the gratification which you imagine. I have no objection to keep clear myself from the trammels of your uncoinpromising faith : but I agree with Voltaire, who found it dangerous to unsettle the minds of the common people. Revelation is an excellent invention of kings and priests to keep the lower ranks in order, and as such I esteem it, and am only sorry that they seem inclined to throw it off too soon. You have never known me to disseminate my opinions in the vulgar manner with which you have lately been disgusted. But there is no reason why I should blind myself, though
I may see an advantage in the blindness of others. And as you have introduced the subjcct, excuse my wondering that you should still inaintain a belief so irksome, and at the same time so entirely without foundation, that the weakness of its support bids fair to becoine evident ere long to the lowest classes.
If the uneducated, said I, as you insinuate, are the most likely to be deceived by their priests and rulers, so are they likewise a more easy prey to the designs of artful demagogues, who are aware that religion is the strongest barrier against wickedness and disloyalty. Indeed the late attacks upon religion, beyond all others, are of a nalure only to take an effect upon those who are either too idle or too ignorant to inquire. They are addressed to such, and they only prevail with such. As for nie, I trust that my path is taken, my course decided. I would not disbelieve if I could: and I conld not if I would.
You have dropped the secret unawares, he replied, you would not disbelieve if you could, You dare not reject a system which seems necessary to you, because you imbibed it in your infancy, and it has grown up with you. People like to be deceived, and so they persevere ir error till they think the error true : for arguments, like your Christinas bells, often reflect the thoughts of the hearer. And yet I ain at a loss to urderstand how it is, that you would not disbelieve if you could. Do you find it so agreeable to lead a life of penance and mortification, and to be tortured with the dread of eternal misery? There are few of us who have not great reason to thank those bold men, who bave eased us of the heavy burthen of superstition. i Volney and Conciorcet, Goodwin and Paine, are justly entitled to the universal gratitude and applause of the human race. They have attacked error in its strooigest holds: they have pursued it with a powerful and discriminating intellect. It has already lost half its force, and the philosophy which is denominated infidel, will 'ere long chase it out of existence.'*
You too, I replied, have dropped a secret unawares, the secret of your gratitude. Many no doubt have reason to be against the Bible, because the Bible is against them: and are you sure that they are not the party who like to be deceived, and think their wishes true ? I hold it better to be wise in time, than to be undeceived when it is too late : and therefore I thank God, who has mercifully given me warning of this eternal m'sury, and still more, has opened to me the means of escape : so that if Christianity had but the remotest probability in its favour, instead of what appears to my inind absolute certainty, common pru. dence would lead me to embrace it.
This it is, said Alciphron warmly, to be the dupe of imposture! How hateful is this priestcraft, which first torments inen with groundless fears, and then pretends to relieve them! This is the deep internal wound which superstition has inflicted on the bosoin of society. The whole earth has been made the wretched abode of ignorance and inisery, and to priests and tyrants these dreadful effects are to be attributed !'
This is the strange cant of the present day, I replied, * Palmer's Principles of Nature, published by Carlile.
to refer the miseries of mankind neither to themselves
| he knows to be without foundation! I little expected an and their own wickedness, rior to the established con• | insinuation like this from any adversary less ignorant stitution of nature, but to the very religion which was
than Carlile or less vulgar than Paine. But to meet sent to mitigate thein. Do you observe that cottage
yon here also. You forget that the benefices which under the hill by the ro:ad side; not a quarter of a mile
engage your well-paid army to practise this baseness off ? A little sinoke is just rising above the trees.
average less than 300 pounds per annum: you forget There is enough of suffering, and enough of comfort in
how many follow their profession to the grave, without suffering under that thatched roof, to refute a thousand
ever obtaining one of the lowest of its prizes. Would such assertions as that which you have just hazarded.
not the same education, ensure a much higher reward? It is inbabited by a poor widow and her only daughter.
Depend upon it, if the Clergy had no other than a temThe mother is sunk alınost to the grave by an incurable
poral inducement to maintain the Christian faith, it complaint, which has kept her for years in a state of
would not continue twenty years. For example : constant pain, and sometimes of extremo anguish.
Mr. — Curate of the very parish in which we are Death has long suspended his hand over her, but still
talking. He has two thousand persons under his care, delays to strike, I followed her daughter the other
who take up his tine to the exclusion of every otlier day, who had been collecting a few sticks to mak: a
concern, who occupy his thoughts even to the injury of partial blaze, the only external comfort of which the
his health, and make hiin a return of a huudred pounds poor woman is susceptible : and when I had thus found
per annuin: much less than he annually spends among her out by accident, she told me her story. - What
them in charity. What inducement has he to preach my sufferings have been, Sir,' she said, 'is known only
a gospel which he does not believe? He has fortune to myself and my God: but I rejoice in them, since I
enough to live at ease in retirement; he has talents know that he will make all things work together for
which would raise hiin to eminence in any way of life good to them that love hiin. Indeed I feel it to be
which he chose to pursue; yet he prefers to serve God, 80 ; and have said a thousand times, that a sick bed is
and promote the highest interests of man in laborious a blessed thing : it brings us riearer to God, and (iod
obscurity: and what will you say to him ; is he a de. nearer to us. Often have I sat up in iny bod at night,
ceiver, or is he himself deceived ? If you argue that (for I can never sleep till the drugs stupify me, and
he is a deceiver, I ask what interest he has in deceiving: they begin to lose their effect,) but often have I sat up
if you think that he is deceived, I ask whether his and prayed to my Saviour, and meditated on his sut.
talents do not furnish a strong presumption the other ferings for me, till I have forgotten my own. My
way? He is one of the well-paid army which you neighbours sometiines talk ignorantly, and wonder why
speak of as interested in maintaining an error; and God should afflict me so heavily, who have never been,
there are five thousand others of this country of the same so to speak, a wicked woman, though I know my own
body, who have as little or less worldly reason to bias sinfulness :- but I silence them, and say, that his ways
them. limposture is commonly more sharpsighted ; are far above out of our sight ;-it is good for me to
and its objects more lucrative. have been in trouble, for I know in whom I have
What answer Alciphron might have found to this, trusted; and that my light afflictions which are but for
I know not: 'but it seemed to ine that he felt inuch a moinent, shall work for me a far more exceeding
relieved by the sudden appearance of a mutual friend, and eternal weight of glory.
who just then came up, and put an end to our conSo here you have one distress, at least, which cannot
versation. be said to be caused by Religion : and probably this is one out of 50,000 similar cases existing in this single
The Bookseller of Allerton, or Practical Piety country.
(Continued from page 168.) That may be very useful to a sick and ignorant old
DEVOUTLY, however, that evening did they thank woman, returned Alciphron, which is very unprofitable
God in their prayers for the mercy He had shewed to the greater part of mankind. To which I answered, I cannot easily believe that to
them. be useful which is false and erroneons: or that to be
The next day was to be the last that Esther was false and erroneous, which supports those who have no
to spend entirely at home, for some time; she busied other consolation, and gives wisdom to those who have
herself, therefore, in doing all she could. That day, no other learning. Therefore I argue that it would
however, was to be the most eventful one almost of be the greatest possible misfortune, if the Religion
their lives. which you so unjustly yilify could be proved an im
Walters was sitting reading behind his counter, posture.
when the strange gentleman, who was evidently a Small hopes of that, replied Alciphron, whilst such
clergyman, accompanied by one much younger, of an army of well-paid priests is leagued together to
the same clerical appearance, entered the shop. keep up the deceit. Do you expect them to take the
“ Mr. Walters," said the former, “ I have been hood off the eyes of their own victims ?
much pleased with some of the tracts, I got from You forget, I said, how many of their victims can you yesterday, I think them admirably adapted for see as well as themselves. So you have really been distribution in this neighbourhood, where I fear persuaded by Paine and his disciples to imagine, that much infidelity and carelessness, if not open hostia Christian ininister, for the sake of lucre, imposes on lity to religion prevails, and I have brought this the credulity of his hearers a system of Religion which
gentleman, who is both tutor to my sons, and also my
curate, on whose judgment in these matters I rely without waiting an answer he preceded them. They more than on my owu. Indeed I should be obliged saw he was agitated, and with a glance at each to you to order a larger supply," he added, looking other expressive of sympathy for him, they followed round the shopa "as I have no doubt we shall find to the room, where Walters had just had time to them most useful assistants for us at present.
let Esther understand that they were in some way Walters bowed in mute surprise, and he was then the messengers of God, but how, be could not exinformed that his new customer had just become the | plain, by this movement he only sought to gain time, rector of that place, the incumbent of wbich had and directly withdrew by the other door leaving her obtained a still better benefice. This alone was to receive them. She saw the cause of this, and as joyful tidings to Walters and Esther.
with her child in one arm, she handed them chairs The good man who was now come among them, with the other, she said found much to be done in a town that had been so “My poor husband has had much anxiety, of late, long neglected, wbere ungodliness and scepticism gentlemen." prevailed, and the truths of religion wereu nknown. The Rector entered into conversation with ber,
His first business had been to make enquiry as and the interest he bad felt for Walters was cer. to the state of religion in the parish, and the result tainly not lessened by an acquaintance with his wife. of these enquiries was a melancholy one. Infidelity Walters returned after some minutes, the proposal among the working classes had made an awful pro. that had been made to him was then gratefully acgress, and its insidious or openly wicked publica cepted, and tears flowed down Esther's cheeks on tions were on sale in more places than one, wbile bearing what it was. nothing that was pure, lovely, and of good report, The next Sabbath Walters officiated as clerk, appeared to meet his eye, until the sight of Wal under some embarrassment naturally, yet surpris. ters' little neglected shop, was to bim like the green ingly well on the whole, and quite to the approbarefreshing spots, which the weary traveller in the tion of the ministers, who were pleased to hear desert discerns.
responses, that seemed to come from the heart, Since liis visit there the preceding day, he had even if the want of practice caused an occasional made enquiries about him and obtained such infor. mistake. mation as enabled him, (enemies themselves being Both Esther and be bad prayed that he might be judges),--to lay aside the cantion he had observed, enabled to fulfil the Sacred duties of his new office and address Walters as a Christian, while he felt aright, and to remember that he was engaged in for him as one, who to sense of right, bad sacrificed worshipping God, not merely in rehearsing a part not only his wordly interests, but all that seemed to before men. be his means of support.
Poor Esther's pride might have risen in her heart, The Rector quickly saw into Walters' disposi. as she waited at the side door of the church, to take tion, he perceived he was a man of much reserve, the arm of the clerk of the parish and walk homeyet of keen feeling, there was something in his ward; but there were other feelings awakened aspect, that while it spoke of poverty and dis which kept down such as this. She had heard that appointment, interested and made you feel he was day for the first time for many years the truths of enduring chastisement, not suffering the penalty of the gospel preached from the pulpit, and dear was misconduct.
the sound of the gospel of Jesus to her ear, as its The Rector baving told him how he was situ. blessed influence had been to her heart, ated, while his Curate was selecting the tracts, That day they had no warm comfortable dinner, concluded by saying
they were no more entitled to it they thought tban “ Now Mr. Waliers, I have thought you would they were the week before; their purse was still be a likely person to assist me in a dilemma in which nearly as empty, although iheir prospects were I find myself. I cannot employ ihe person who better, but the loss of the crown had been the means acted as clerk to my predecessor, he has been re. of teaching Esther a lesson ; they must not incar presented to me even by people wbo are not very debt on account of brighter prospects. Thankful strict in these things, as by no means a proper per they were though as poor as ever, and perhaps no son for such an office, and my own experience prosperous days ever witnessed a happier Sabbath. v does not at all incline me to him; I therefore do Before the next week bad quite expired the new not wish to engage bim at all, even for next Sun. Rector had found Walters of so much use to him, day, and I scarcely know where to find a suitable that in the opinion of the Reverend Henry Mellersh, person unless it is yourself; if you have no objec the Curate, he was likely to become “the parson's tion to tbe situation, you can manage your business right hand man," and most people know that nearly alen, and I will begin with a salary of fifty pounds every town possesses one such person. Walters a year."
was not a bustling forward person, one whom you A hectic hue overspread Walters' sallow counte do not exactly like but cannot well do without, he nance, he did not speak, he coughed, and turning never made himself subservient or obtrusive, he was suddenly round opened the side door, and begged quiet, respectful, yet always properly independent; the gentlemen would step into the parlour, to which his knowledge of the state of the Town saved the