« AnteriorContinuar »
shall be now my endeavour to discover; and, I of a new nature, when kindness from another trust, that dull as an essay commonly is, your has elicited gratitude in himself, and gratitude readers will not be unwilling to follow me prompts kindness in return. through the investigation.
This, then, we must regard as the first object The great feature in District Visiting, is the to be aimed at in District Visiting; and where concentrating on a few, that benevolent superin this is gained, the other consequences follow tendence which would be less effective if diffused almost of course. The confidence once secured, over a wider surface. It is founded on that the kinder feelings once awakened, the channel principle of appropriation, which attaches man is opened through which the stream of moral to everything he considers as his own, and which influence may flow, and flow continually. The gives the value to possessions of every sort. intercourse thenceforth will be of the most bene
By virtue of this law of our nature, a deeper, ficial kind. The intelligence of one portion livelier interest is taken in those who are over of society will be brought to bear on the ignorlooked; and the individuals who are directed ance of another; and those who from circumto consider the portion of a street, as peculiarly stances have been enabled to discern that which their own, derive from the more intimate is theoretically true, may communicate their disacquaintance with the state and feelings of the coveries to those who are too much encumbered people visited, a pleasure, somewhat akin to with the practical difficulties of life to discern that which we perceive in tracing the details of the connection between a remote cause and the a landscape, when a gleam of sun carries light effects which they are witnessing. The one into its recesses, and draws many a grassy knowl, may be able to trace out the connection between and many a shaded cottage into observation, want of order and want of comfort ; between which before had been hidden in the general inattention to trifles and overwhelming burdens; obscurity.
between levity of mind and heaviness of spirit, On the other hand, if the visitor becomes more which the sufferers themselves are incapable of attached to the people by being led to regard perceiving; and this developement of the cause them as his own; the people become infinitely of the inconveniences they undergo, may be more attached to the visitor, when viewed in this listened to with patience, and remembered with the true relation. At first, perhaps, the visits profit, when they feel that it is the remonstrance were regarded with jealousy and suspicion. It of a friend, not the reproof of an Inspector. was a stranger who lifted the latch, and whose 1 In truth, how many of the evils which belong eye first explored the details of the cottage; and to poverty, rise not from the want of means, but the purpose of a stranger is open to miscon- from the want of method; from the want of ception, and can hardly be understood on a first thought, the want of care, the want of that explanation. But familiarity removes these which a superior understanding might impart. feelings. Kindness carries its own evidence, A little domestic discipline might check the and is, therefore, soon discovered ; and for unruly tempers of children, which at present kindness, there is a deep unutterable longing, make a cottage miserable. A little mutual foreven in the most sunk and degraded of our bearance might obviate the differences between species, which never fails to recognize the spirit man and wife, which at present destroy domestic that prompts the visit, and evinces its character happiness. A little sell-denial might avoid the by securing its stated recurrence.
pressure of debt; a little moderation might avoid With the excitement of this sentiment com excesses prejudicial to health ; a little economy mences the first benefit of the system; and in might accomplish comforts which at present the promotion and enlargement of this sen seem inaccessible. But these causes, thus pregtiment, we may perhaps say, consists the whole. nant with future good or evil, are too generally
The act, which has succeeded in awakening overlooked on account of their minuteness, and the benevolent affections of those, who are gen are lost out of sight in the hurry and bustle of erally the objects of this system; has produced providing for the daily wants of the body. But if in them a result hardly less important than that the poor have not leisure to discern the importance of returning animation in cases where life seemed of these trifling observances; there are others extinct. A new state of being begins when whose situation in life enables them to see it, and this effect is accomplished; and the human who are capable of explaining their necessity. creature, who through life has met with nothing The comforts enjoyed by one class, are merely but the workings of selfishness in those with the conclusions come to by another class; but whom he was surrounded; who never saw they are conclusions followed out and realized them merry except when amused at the expence by the help of circumstances. Cleanliness, order, of others; nor ever knew them to be in earnest plenty form the comforts of the rich ; but the but by the harshness and severity he was treated value of these things has been learnt in suffering with, comes into a new world, and is conscious ) from their privation; and their possession is now secured by habits which can hardly be clearly ; and if we admit the truth of the poet's formed or easily be maintained, except in condi | remark, that “the proper study of mankind is tions favourable to their growth.
man,” there is no place where that study can It is natural, therefore, that persons belonging be pursued with greater prospect of success, than to one class should know the value of usages with in a District Visit. which others are unacquainted; and they may, This at least is certain, that the mind which though themselves young and inexperienced, grows fastidious and sickly in its ideal existence, communicate lessons, the results of long tradi which in the midst of ease, frets at imaginary tional experience, which may operate beneficially wrongs, and is saddened by imaginary sorrows; on those who are visited; and throw a light on may gain a healthier tone by becoming in this their condition, which would otherwise never way iicquainted with the realities of life. In the reach them.
saine way the comforts which had been underNor will the benefits be wholly on one side. valued, and blessings which had been overlooked, It is one of the most striking and affecting may be viewed with gratitude, when we have learnt evidences of divine benevolence, that Society is to estimate them duly by considering the destituso regulated, and the elements of which Society tion of others. One objection we are aware may is formed are so constituted, that no one ever here be made, and it is an objection which does good to others without deriving good him deserves attention. In finding human nature self. Kindness repays itself by the pleasureable en deshabille, it is probable that things may be sensations it elicits. "We learn ourselves, while seen and heard offensive to modesty, and in some endeavouring to teach others—and all the good degree injurious to moral purity; and thus that is imparted brings back some return of good much is due to the objection, that the age and to the doer.
sex of the Visitor ought both to be adapted to We hardly know where a more striking in the district assigned, and the character of the stance of this reciprocity of good can be pointed persons visited. But admitting this, and recogout, than in the intercourse we are now en. nizing to the fullest extent the importance of deavouring to pourtray. The immediate, the maintaining every guard to moral purity, it is primary intention, is that of doing good to the necessary to add, that a distinction also should be persons visited; the imparting of useful know drawn between that delicacy which the world ledge, moral principle, and general comfort. The idolizes, and that purity which the Gospel secondary, the reflex effect, is that of benefit to teaches; for of this we are convinced, that the the persons visiting; and that benefit is not golden calf which Aaron erected, was no fitter merely the gratification of benevolent feeling, representative of the infinite and the unutterable or the consciousness of acting in conformity with Jehovah, than the refinement of a worldly mind the will of God; but it is the acquirement of is of the purity of a Christian Spirit. knowledge hardly less necessary to them than The delicacy of the world recoils from that that, which they come, like the Ministers of a which would lower us in man's opinion. The higher intelligence, to bestow on others.
purity of a Christian recoils from that which The danger of the lower classes of society would offend God. Delicacy shrinks from that consists in their being so subject to the pressure which is offensive to the senses. Purity from that of circumstances that they can hardly realize which grieves the Holy Spirit. Delicacy may be truths of a higher kind, or bring them to bear compatible with the grossest sensuality; nay, is upon their own condition. The danger of the generally that which is courted as adding zest higher classes consists in their feeling so little of and refinement to sensuality. Purity can admit this pressure, that they forget the realities of of no such associations, but abhors that which is their nature, and live in a sort of ideal state. evil, however disguised, and however recom
The refinements of civilization, the tone of mended. literature, the language and usages of the world, In this way we believe there are many things combine to perfect this delusion. The wants to which offend delicacy, which still do not affect which our nature is subject are not felt as wants. purity. To the pure all things are pure; and we Its weaknesses are concealed ; its corruptions are can conceive that an Angel, who would shrink palliated, and those who fancy that they know a with horror from the pages of Lord Byron, or of little of every thing, know least about themselves. our fashionable novelists, might visit an Irish Nothing is better calculated to remove this cottage, and view the nakedness and want of its illusion, and disperse the dream of an Ideal life, inmates, without any other emotions than that than a District Visit. Human nature is then of tenderness and pity. seen off its guard, and en deshabille. Its real But I feel, sir, I have trespassed too long on wants, and its real comforts, are then at once your patience. Hereafter I may, if permitted, discerned; for they are seen not through any resume the subject; at present, believe me your opaque or dazzling medium, but simply and I obliged,
SATAN. In the gallery of portraits, through which we are desirous of conducting our young friends, who are especially the objects of the present publication, there may be some presented to their view, from the contemplation of which they may, at the first glance, he disposed instinctively to recoil, and to pass on to some others of a more attractive character. There may be no trace upon the features of any of those qualities, which are calculated to command respect and veneration; none of those which awaken admiration, and kindle affection. On every lineament may be impressed the image of all that is forbidding and repulsive. And it is natural that we should prefer gazing on objects which bear the stamp of beauty, and be ready to turn hastily away from those, whose aspect presents only an air of deformity.
But it is by no means a mark of prudence to be so enamoured of that which is pleasing to the eye, and congenial with the taste, as to refuse to contemplate any thing of an opposite character, however instructive and profitable such a contemplation might be. Such conduct would be rather akin to the folly of the man, who would refuse a medicine essential to his health, because it might be distasteful to his palate.
The Beacon fire, giving warning of the approach of a foe, would be less pleasing to the beholder than some signal which would convey an intimation of the arrival of a friend : but it would not be less valuable, or less important. The light-house, by the sight of which the mariner is directed to steer his course, at a distance from the latent rocks where many a gallant bark has been wrecked, may be less pleasing, but is certainly not less useful than the capacious harbour, where his vessel, safely sheltered within, is in no danger from the tempest, which is spending its fury without.
To behold one of those glorious spirits which encircle the throne of the High and the Holy One; to gaze upon features arrayed in countless charms which shall never be impaired, and exhibiting the bloom of a beauty which never shall fade ; to mark on every lineament the blended expression of majesty and meekness, of dignity and humility, of power and gentleness, of piercing intelligence, aud rapturous devotion, and expansive benevolence, and glowing love, would be indeed most interesting and delightful. To look upon the features of a spirit who " kept not his first estate," but was expelled with ignominy and ruin from that sacred band-a FALLEN Angel-may be less delightful, but not less instructive.
Could we but have seen that Angel before he fell, how striking a contrast would that countenance have presented with that which it now displays to our view.
Could we have gazed upon the face that was, before it was deformed and marred by the base passions which have eternally stamped their image upon it, we might have exclaimed in the language of the poet,
“See, what a grace is seated on that brow !" Alas! the language of another poet is now more appropriate,
" If thou beest he-but oh! how fall'n, how chang'd !" Daring ambition, baughty pride, arrogant presumption, corroding envy, mean subtlety, deceit, and falsehood, revenge, batred, malevolence, every atrocious principle by
which the mind of a fiend can be swayed, every malignant feeling by which the bosom of a fiend can be agitated such are the prominent features of the frowning and repulsive portrait before us; such the dark colours in which, in the Scriptures of truth, is pourtrayed to the life the character of Satan.
Just in proportion as the character of an individual exhibits these features does he bear a resemblance to that fallen spirit, who is deformity personified.
And yet, in the eye of misjudging man, some of these features possess a winning charm. Ambition, pride, presumption are not unfrequently extenuated, nay, extulled, as the marks of a high and proper spirit, and the virtues, which stand in direct opposition to these vices, despised as the evidences of a mind which is mean, grovelling, ahject, contracted. What ambition, pride, presumption are in the estimation of Him, who sees not as man sees, Satan stands in his word as a beacon to admonish us. For what but the indulgence of these feelings withered all the beauty, extinguished all the lustre, an. nihilated all the good, which distinguished and adorned the character of the Angel ; transformed the Angel into the fiend; expelled him from the realms of light; loaded him with the “chains of darkness ;" made him the wretched being that he is—the wretched being that he must continue to be for ever ?
Are we, then, tempted to murmur and repine against the sovereign will of God ? to harbour in our bosom feelings of dissatisfaction at the station assigned us by the allotments of his providence ? Let us remember the history of Satan, and beware. Let us reflect that this was the first germ of his misery and ruin.
Do we see the lust of revenge and the rage of malice lighting up their baleful fires in the eyes, and combining to give a hideous expression to the whole countenance ? Stung and writhing beneath a sense of the ignominy of his expulsion from Heaven, and the misery which it involved, what but the desire to revenge himself on God, and envy at the sight of that happiness, of which he saw our first parents in possession, and himself destitute, prompted him to commence, in the too successful aim to seduce them to cast off their allegiance to the most High, that war against the holiness and happiness of man, which, with such unrelenting malice, and such unwearied energy he bas continued to wage ? Let us, then, take the alarm at the first risings of revengeful desires and envious feelings, as truly Satanic in their character, and hasten to seek at a throne of grace strength to resist and overcome them.
Do we observe in those features the expression of subtlety and falsehood? Was it “by his subtlety that the serpent beguiled Eve ?" And did he establish his claim to the title of the “Father of Lies,” by the promise by which he allured her ? Let us remember that he is still as subtle, and still as false, as he proved himself on that memorable occasion. Let us be ever upon our guard against his “ crafty devices;"' for is “as a roaring lion he walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,” as a subtle serpent he glides unsuspected, seeking whom he may deceive. That countenance can with the greatest facility change its habitual expression, and assume one as ipnocent as that of infancy in its cradle, as lovely, and fascinating, and foreign to the real character, as it is possible to conceive. “Satan himself is transformed into ani
angel of light." Let us, then, “ Watch and pray.”
Are we, in viewing this portrait, struck with the ex· pression of vast, intellectual power ? Such power it were vain to deny that he possesses. We gain nothing by underrating the strength of an adversary. Though fallen, Satan is a spirit still, and has a spirit's intellect. How profound and consummate his knowledge of human nature! How intimate his acquaintance with every avenue to the mind, the imagination, and the heart of man! But to what purpose are his vast intellectual energies applied ? The reply, it would be superfluous to give: the reflection, which it naturally suggests, we must not suppress. Knowledge and intellectual power unsanctified, unassociated with the principles and practices of godliness, only strengthen the lines, and deepen the colours of a copy in man of the portrait of Satan. How much more so, when intellectual power, as we too often see, openly espouses his cause, exhausts all its energies in his service, and is prostituted and perverted to the basest and most awful of all passions — the endeavour to beguile the young, the unstable, the unexperienced, the unwary, into the paths of infidelity and impiety, of irretrievable ruin, and unavailing despair.
the greatest, because of the vast extent of its operations, which ramify, or soon will do so, into most districts of the kingdom,—the greatest, also, because it has the effect of perpetuating guilt like to its own, in other im. portant companies—coach and omnibus masters being virtually obliged to run their conveyances on the Sun. days, as those of the Railways run; and Canal Proprietors and Carriers continuing the yoke of Sabbath Slavery upon thousands of boat and wharf-men, not a little influenced, we fear, in doing so, by evil example of their rivals of the Railway trade, -the greatest, lastly, because the Sabbath desecration on Railways is, in some respects, more national than any other, supported as they are by an unprecedented portion of our iner. cantile and monied influence; and their vast concerns being, inore perhaps than those of any other trade, the subject of legislative, and, therefore, of national sanction.
However gross then and manifold may be our other Sabbath sins, a fearful aggravation of them is charge. able upon the Railways of the land, for our Directories have, as it were, overspread our country with a practical perversion of the words of our Lord, that " the Sabbath was made for man ;''+ and every where, in awful opposition to Jehovah you are preventing the people from “Remembering the Sabbath to keep it holy."
It seems, therefore, imperative that, in all affection. ate plainness of speech, we charge home upon you this enormous guilt, even as openly as you are perpetrating it throughout the kingdom-the sight and sound of your sabbath Trains inviting simple villagers, as well as more sophisticated townsmen, to rebel against their God :-it seems imperative that, since the heaviest judgments have invariably followed upon national Sabbath violations, and that your system involves you and the country in such violations to an alarming extent, we should contend with you, as Nehemiah, the civil Ruler of Israel, did with God's ancient people, saying, " What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath? Did not your Father thus, and did not our
Sunday Travelling on Railways.
Address to all Directors and Proprietors of Railways. GENTLEMEN,—Impelled by a solemn sense of duty, the Comınittee of the North Staffordshire Lord's Day Observance Society again respectfully address you concerning your travelling trade on that day.
The Decalogue being that moral and unrepealed law, which God has promulgated for the obedience of man; and “ Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy," being one of its commands ; the Divine Saviour, more. over, having declared “The Sabbath was made for man," and by his own example, and by that of his Apostles, and the primitive Church, having authorised this religious rest to be observed on the first day of every week; therefore the most eminently pious men, of every Christian age, have concluded the Lord's Day to be of Divine appointment, and of perpetual obligation.
The Sabbath resting upon this Divine basis, and its observance being confessedly subservient to the purpose of God's moral government, and promoting the best interest ot mankind, we cannot wonder that the wrath of God followed fearfully upon its gross pollution by the Jewish Nation;* nor that immorality the most debasing, and calamities the most severe, have distinguished every Christian country remarkable for its desecration. Can, then, Great Britain, pre-eminently blessed as she is from on high, reasonably expect to escape similar judgments if she contract similar guilt ?
Now it is not to be denied that to a great extent she has already thus sinned against her God, nor that in very influential quarters there is a disposition to involve our beloved country in the most flagrant and systematic violation of the Sabbath ; and especially, in justification of the present address, we believe it can be proved, that our greatest Sabbath desecration is now being rerpetrated by the Sunday Railway Travelling Trade,* Ezekiel, c. XI. 13, 16, 23 to 27 verses.
+“ The Sabbath was made for man; and not man for the Sab. bath,''--Mark, c. ii, v. 27.
It was made for man at all times-in his innocency even (Gen, c. ii. v. 2, 3,--and therefore, more particularly for him, because most needed, since his fall into sin: It was made for the whole of man, as a being formed of soul and body - most especially for bis soul, as a religious rest to prepare him for eternity; but also as a rest for his body to preserve it in time.
Hence it is plain that, while works of necessity, piety, and mercy, are allowed, yea required by the Sabbath law, for “ man was not made for the Sabbath," all other works on the Lord's Day are trangressions of that law, not only because opposed to the Divine will; but because endangering the well-being of both soul and body, for “ The Sabbath was made for man."
A multitude of facts prove that Sabbath breakers are less prepared for the next world, and far less useful and happy in this, than Sabbath observers, and the most eminent professional men testify, that this periodical relaration of the Sabbath is necessary to the mental and physical, as well as to the moral constitution of man. See for instance, extracts from Dr. Farre's evidence before a Committee of the House of Counmons:-“ The Sabbath was mado for man, as a necessary appointment"_“One day in seven, by the bounty of Providence, is tbrown in as a day of Compensation, to perfect by its repose the animal system."-"A human being then is so constituted that he needs a day of rest, both from mental and bodily labour ?!'_" Certainly."
God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city, yet ve bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”f
Motives of expediency have been often urged upon you:-it has been unanswerably argued that as operatives in Sunday Trades must be less conscientious and more demoralised than observers of the Sabbath, so there is reason to fear that your Sunday servants are placed in such a cruel position, that they must deteriorate in moral worth, and consequently become less trustworthy.
But we would influence your minds by what ought to be a vastly more effective lever than mere commercial expediency; and that is the principle of Christian patriotism; and the fulcrum upon which we would rest ihat lever is the word of God.
God hath commanded us to “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy," the substance of which cominand is ever obligatory :-God hath sooner or later fearfully punished all nations, if privileged as our own, which have ventured to violate the Sabbath :We are now grievously and growingly doing so; and, as companies, comprising, or about to comprise, the greatest influence-Government itself only excepted— you, Railway Companies, are committing, sanctioning, and perpetuating a perilous amount of Sabbath desecration. As plainly then as we have felt it our duty to declare to you your sin, and its certain ruinous consequences, so earnestly would we implore you to reconsider the course you are now pursuing
Those indeed who decline sharing in the Sunday profits may not be so culpable as the others, nevertheles as belonging to establishments, which extensively and systematically desecrate the Lord's Day, every Proprietor, as well as Director, is a responsible participator in the crime. No truly Christian persons, therefore, ought to remain connected with these Railways, except for the purpose more effectually to remonstrate against their Sabbath profanation, and with the determination, should their remonstrance prove fruitless to withdraw.
And, in conclusion, whatever may be the effect of this addres3 should it only prove a testimony for Divine law, and not prevail against Sabbath violation—the Committee of this Sociсty would express their conviction, that all sharers in Sunday-running Railways are injuring themselves and families, by participating in gain gotten at the price of transgression against God; that
they are, moreover, contracting the additional guilt of effectually inducing most extensive Sabbath violation; and that, should this country decline from that preeminence it has so long maintained amongst the nations of the earth-should foreign invasion and civil discord succeed to that peaceful prosperity with which Britain has been signally blessed; many causes indeed may occasion such a lamentable change; but that we forgot to keep the Sabbath Day, and profaned it will be the greatest : and many parties may be accused of bringing to pass our national ruin; but none more justly deserving such a charge than the Capitalist concerned in our Sunday Railway Trade.
Finally, as members of a religious association-some of us Ministers of God, and guardians of the religion and morals of the public, and all of us seryants of Christ, deeply interested in the present and future well-being of our Countrymen, we earnestly pray you by the obligation you lie under to God, to your neighbour, and to yourselves, to lay these things to heart; and may the Divine mercy direct you aright, and lead you to the adoption of that course which shall be to your own present and eternal peace.
On behalf of the Committee.
JAMES RALPH, Minister of St. Mark's, Shelton,
Secretaries. The Death of an Infidel. ABOUT thirty years ago, Mr. Smith retired from a pleasant country town in which he had for many years carried on a successful business as the principal Surgeon. He had seen many forms of death, some of his patients slowly sinking away into eternity in the full possession of their mental powers. Others he had seen hurried off into another world having barely had time allowed them to settle their worldly concerns. But his feelings had never been touched by the deaths he so often witnessed. Death was in his view an eternal sleep.
Upon his retirement from the active employments of his profession, Mr. Smith took a house in one of the most lovely spots to be found in England. South of his house was an extensive heath, which, though desolate in winter, was bright and gay through the spring and summer months, with many varieties of heaths and wild flowers. Eastward of his house stretched a magnificent forest, with the dun tenants of the forest shewing their branching antlers through its glades. A little further were the timeworn turrets of an ancient castle. All around him was the varied display of the love of God, who opens His hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing. But Mr. Smith's heart never looked beyond the creature to the Creator—though a christian by name, he was a professed infidel, and like too many, had only read the Gracious Revelation of God for the purpose of detecting, as he supposed, its inconsistencies, thus reversing the wisdom of his own profession, extracting poison from the best medicine, instead of drawing health-giving medicines from substances naturally poisonous. He had been one who through a long and successful life had made a mock of religion, but was himself reserved for that dreadful condemnation predicted, Prov. i. 26, “I also will laugh at your calamity. I will mock when your fear cometh.”
+Read Jeremiah, c. 17, from 17th. verse :" And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burthen through the gates of the city on the Sabbath Day, but hallow the Sabbath Day, to do no work therein; then shall there enter into the gates of this city, kings and princes, sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem ; and this city shall remain for ever."
" And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, into the house of the Lord. But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the Sabbath Day, and not bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath Day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be queached.