« AnteriorContinuar »
May you find the same sacred blessings to support you, under the loss you sustain by her removal! She left her friends on a sudden; but the disciples of Jesus should ever watch against a painful surprize in the departure of our friends. Is it a Christian friend we have lost; a devout relative? Is this pleasing converse we have long had with them, relating to the things of a better world, now cut off for ever? and, must we therefore indulge distressing thoughts? Have we lost our Jesus too? Can we never more maintain converse with our God? Have we lost a relative, whom we hoped would bave dropped a word of comfort to us, and administered some supportiog consolation, when we were ready to be swallowed up with sorrow?--but must we, therefore, banishi every comfort, and refuse every supporting consideration ? Is not the Father of Mercies, and the God of all Consolation, our Father still, and our God, even in the most distressing moments ? Are they departed for ever, whom we hoped would have pitied when the hand of the Lord was gone out against us, that would have mourned when we mourned, and wept when we wept !--but is , not Jesus our merciful and faithful High Priest still, who pities,
the weaknesses of his people, and regards their complaints with a compassionate tenderness? Let me then, Madam, beg, that as you have honoured the character of a professor of the religion of Jesus as a tender mother, and as an affectionate relative, you would render the religion of Christ amiable, as it affords divine consolations when all things around us fail!- Let it appear to the world, when you are mourning under piercing sorrows and distressing anxieties, that you have learnt that patient submission, that sweet resignation to the will of the great God, that the gospel recommends to us! Make it evident to an unbelieving and degenerate world, that the Gospel of Jesus at once directs its followers to take a becoming notice of every solemn providence,
influences the tenderest passions in rational methods in seasons of sorrow,-and yet teaches them to check the excesses of these painful feelings. Give me leave then to lay before you a few short hints, that may be useful under your present trials. Remember then that you have, in former seasons, solemnly devoted yourself and all yours to the Lord ; - call to mind those times when you have alesh renewed the sacred: engageinents; and dismiss every unsubmissive thought with 'I am the Lord's, let him do with me as seems good in his sight! Call to mind that everlasting covenant that is ordered in all things and sure, which Jesus has confirmed with his blood, and which you have so often sealed at his table; and apply this to your disconsolate sonl when gloomy thoughts invade it, and say, " This covenant shall never be dissolved; this covenant affords divine relief in these hours of darkness and distress,-be this sacrer engagement, O my soul, thy salvation and thy song ! Think ofien on Jesus, as once surrounded with weaknesses and troubles, till thy soul has learned to pour out its complaints into his bosom, as a merciful and faithful
subotal renewable Lored mene
Mediator, and to leave them in his hand ! Reflect often on God as an all-sufficient portion, and afresh take him as your exceeding great reward.' Often meditate on that rest that remains for the people of God, and learn to make your soul long for its dismis sion thither, when you find distress and anguish perpetually surround you here, in this wilderness. I am, Madam," ;
Yours in all Christian services, .
The church of God is a family, and should possess all its distinguishing characteristics. It is not earth-born; and, therefore, cannot be known by its open malice, its concealed rancour, its smooth dissimulation, its base, selfish, and unbrotherly prin: ciples :-it is Heaven-born, - Jehovah is its Parent;- its mem, bers are' led by his Spirit,' and are, therefore, his children: Jesus is the Elder Brother, in whose name the whole family in Heaven and earth is named ;' and his meek and quiet Spirit is diffused throughout it. Hence liberal charity, sympathetic feeling, reciprocal affection, and implicit confidence, should firmly exist among them in all simplicity, sincerity, and spirituality. In proportion as it is so, they will sorrow, rejoice, pray, and praise, in unison : they will watch over each other with godly concern, and receive the admonitions of their brethren affectionately, joyfully, and humbly, abhorring self-confidence and dreading self-esteem. Hence the language of the Psalmist will be Frequently their language : Let the righteous smite me, --it shall be a kindness; let him reprove me,it'shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head ; for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamity. Surely, the Psalmist saw the excellence of brotherly reproof. How affectionately he invites it, cordially approves it, and gratefully receives it! - Let us briefly and simply dilate these ideas. *. Affectionately to invite reproof, is a gracious symptom of a soul renewed ; and cannot exist amidst the self - complacency, empty arrogance, and tyrannic superciliousness of nature. There are complicated evils to which believers are exposed, and a sense of which will conduct them to this amiable disposition, Shall we mention some ? 1. Their exposure to temptation will lead to this disposition. It convinces them that means of precaution, as well as of actual resistance, must be adopted against their enemies; and in addition to free access at the throne of grace, and a complete habiliment of armour, the affectionate invitation of reproof, from experienced warriors, when necessary, will form a strong bulwark of defence against the unexpected attacks of enemies, incessant and subtile in their operations. While we stand,
let us take heed lest we fall. Dreadful stratagems may be laid for us, of which we are not aware; but our brethren, who have seen the field of war, may discover our danger, and avert, by their friendly admonitions, the impending calamities.
2. Their views of the deceitfulness of sin will lead to this dise position. In their hearts exist former principles : they are not utterly eradicated, though subdued. Depraved nature and a deceitful heart require a strong guard; lest leagues be formed between them and the great enemy; and, from this coincidence, fatal circumstances follow. Sin is sophisticating, is insinuating; like the cameleon, it can suit various circumstances and assume a variety of colours, - it can assume the lovely appearance of innocent amusement or harmless simplicity; and thus yeiling its hideous form, it will infatuate the mind, debilitate the reason, captivate the affections, inflame the passions, and plunge the soul in a labyrinth before it is aware. Deprecating this evil, let. us affectionately invite our brethren to exhort us, while it is called To-day, lest we be hardened through the deceitfulness of
3. Their liableness to declension will lead to this disposition. We should ever guard against this bane of religious progress. When we are the subjects of it, we are most insensible of its pers nicious tendency: then how appropriate the alarming reproof, 6 Ye did run well,' what now can hinder you?
David cordially approyes religious admonition; and it is worthy,
1, Because of the character from whom it proceeds: the righteous. He is eminent in piety, extensive in experience, affectionate in regard, and soft in sympathy, i
2, Because of the motives from whence it flows. It is not pharisaical ostentation : he does not wish to eclipse the character of his brother to display his own excellence, and thus to shine at his expence. He is a bad man who pries into a brother's imperfections, to make them generally and severely conspicuous. Alas! there are some who, from pretensions to purity, make impertinent enquiries into the characters of the absent; and, from ā show of delicacy, delegate some other as monitor, who is sure to promulgate and aggravate the circumstance. This surely is not the Spirit of Christ! Such despicable characters resemble the favning minion, whose insatiable ambition has conducted him to the royal favour, by trampling upon the characters of others. The motives of gospel reproof flow from bowels of compassion, constraining love, and zeal for the diyine glory. ;
3. Because of the manner in which it is delivered. The unfor. tunate brother is a brother still : his feelings shall not be wounded, - he shall be taken aside, and tenderly addressed ią secrecy.
4, Because of the ingredients of which it is composed: It is not maliggant enmity, it is gentle kindpess; it is not the vial
ou pjesus love, conquecluntarea
of wrath, it is an excellent, a salutary oil, shed upon the head : it shall revive our brother, and refresh him! Faithfulness and affection are intermingled. Reproof must be faithful; and thus address the conscience, advert to circumstances, and attach to definite character. Then it will come in the language of Nathan, * Thou art the man!' - but it need not be harsh, censorious, and unfeeling. Should these diabolical principles be unfortunately intermingled, they will irritate the passions, close the avenues of access, and harden the heart. You cannot delight to wound; you probe, but it is to heal ; - you pour the balm of compas. sion, and you point him to the blood of Jesus. This is God-like; for thus does Jehovah, when, by the cords of love, he draws sinners to himself. This is the way in which he conquers their - hearts, subdues their rebellion, and makes them the voluntary subjects of the Lord Jesus. Let us do likewise with our brethren. If one be overtaken in a fault, those who are spiritual shall restore him, in the spirit of love and meekness. So Paul did
to the poor backslider at Corinth he had grievously sinned, - he was justly smitten; but it was with affliction, with anguish of heart, and with many tears. The tender, the amiable Paul, wrote again, 'Give him not up to utter despair ; forgive him, cunsole him, receive him!'-Let us admire, let us iinitate this!
They will gratefully receive it; and their prayer shall be for us in our calamity, when we are in similar circumstances, when we are in spiritual darkness, in providential adversity, in calamity. Let us also petition the guardian watchfulness of the righteous : let us sing
• O may the righteous, when I stray,
Smite and reprove my wandering way!
Shall never bruise, but cbeer my head !'
To the Editor. I SHOULD be much obliged if any of your Correspondents would give their thoughts on Job iv. 8( Angels he charged with folly') I having often heard ministers in prayer say, 'He chargeth his angels with folly ;' and others, who seem to soften the words, have prayed thus: - Thou chargest thy angels with comparatite folly. Now, as the words are spoken in the past tense, I think Job must mean the fallen angels or devils; and, therefore, I cannot join in prayer with those who use the words in the present tense.-A few thoughts on the above will oblige your constant reader,
J. D. . XVll.
.. . 3F
The Toleration Act, and other Statutes relating to Protestant Dissenters.
INTIMATION having been given in Parliament, of an inten« tion to make some Regulations, in order to prevent the abuse of the Toleration Act; and also, as it is understood, to restrain Itinere ant Preachers, we apprehend that a full statement of the privi. leges now enjoyed under that and some subsequent acts, will be acceptable to our readers.
That the high degree of religious liberty at present possessed may be duly valued, it may be proper to take a retrospective view of the sufferings of the Paritans and Nonconformists previ. ous to the Revolution.
Very soon after the Reformation from Popery, a difference of opinion began to discover itself anong good men, concerning lesser matters, which ought always to have been held as nonessential. Bishop Hooper objected to the Episcopal habits; but the Bishops Cranmer and Ridley refused to consecrate him, unless he would wear them. Some wished to retain various observances used in the Roman church, for the sake of gaining the Papists; while others thought that the church ought to be reformed fully, according to the Scriptures. The latter party obe tained the name of Puritans. When the Act of Uniformity took place, in the reign of Charles II. they were called Noncon. formists; and when the Toleration Act was passed, they were styled Dissenters.
In the early days of the Reformation, the true principles of re. ligious liberty were not understood by any party of Christians. They all aimed at an impossibility, - exact uniformity; whereas • the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace, 'is all that we have a right to expect in this state of imperfection; but, for many years after the Reformation, the ruling party thought they ought to make their own practice the standard for all others. Hence, when Queen Elizabeth ascendeil the throne, she assumed to berself all that ecclesiastical authority which her father, Henry the Eighth, wrested from the Pope ; and though she was determined to maintain the Reformation, yet she was too much afraid of offending the Papists, was too fond of Popish pageantry, and very jealous of her authority in church affairs. She made the terms of conformity so narrow, that many excellent mel, among whom were Fox and Coverdale, could not comply with them; and the church was deprived of the labours of some of the best preachers in England, when there were 8000 parishes without preaching ministers. Out of 100 of the London clergy,