« AnteriorContinuar »
an ardent desire that the former and not the latter may be yours ? Your conscience, however, at 'once decides. May God enable you to follow its decision! But, I said, the present period of your life is also dangerous. Yes; we who have passed it, review its dangers with great alarm for you. The great adversary of souls goes about seeking to destroy you; but he works, by means, and these are various and many. Yours is the age of the passions ; I mean the period at which they are usually most powerful in their operation, and the judgment often too wavering and weak. The most serious and thoughtful, therefore, view you like a small vessel sailing on the sea of the world, amidst rocks and quicksands, and liable to be assailed by sudden gusts of temptation, with little ballast and much sail ; and they tremble Jest you should be overset, and prove a wreck : their emotions excite this prayer for you, Guide them, O! thou great Jehovah!
Yes, thereis danger from without and from within. At the former I have already glanced ; but many temptations may assail you, or subtilly insinuate themselves, of which you perhaps little think : every situation has some ; but one, if successful, may ruin you for both worlds! You view some of them with horror, and think yourselves incapable of a compliance, and are really to say,
Is thiy servant a dog that he should be capable of such wickedness ?" But listen to the suggestions of divine truth, and be as. sured that you are not proof against any temptation but as you depend on God; but at the same time remember, that if you would, indeed, avoid the danger, it must be byó abstaining from all appearance of evil : '-_here is the means of safety. If once you look on the forbidden thing, or listen to the suggestion of a wicked companion, or allow yourself to trifle with the temptation, you are just on the rock, and it is much if you do not dash against it. This advice is of infinite importance, for it will be still more useful in opposing the temptations from within ; and these are even more dangerous; for out of the unrenewed heart proceed evil thoughts, corrupt inclinations, powerful youthful lusts, which war against the safety, the purity, the present peace, the fature and eiernal welfare or the soul! • Flee therefore youthful lasts,' and all the occasions by which they may be excited ; & make a covenant with your eyes,' and let no guilty object be allowed to dwell in your imagination ; • keep your heart with all diligence; ind reurember that the kind Saviour sought your happiness when he said, “If thy right eye make thee to offend, pluck it out;' for it is better fur thre that one of thy members should perish, than, &c. (! dread every species of secret impurity; it orien undermines the health of the body, it endangers, and, if indulgcd, will ruin the soul; it will render yon tbe subject of secret remorse', and make a wound in your conscience which will agonize it hereafter, by the most painful reflections,
agonizette and makeoul; it will body, it can
0! listen, whenever tempted, to the first suggestions of con. science, and remember that its voice is the voice of God.
But there are particular temptations, perhaps, arising out of your situation as an apprentice,--against which let me give you seasonable and affectionate warning and advice. You may be tempted to idleness: this, however, is not only unsuitable to the youthful period, and inconsistent with your duty, but baneful in its influence both to body and mind; and it is a source of other temptations, for it is always true tható Satan finds some mischief still, for idle hands to do.' Let Diligent in business be your constant molto, and remember, -it is far safer to be even overworked, than not to have enough to do. Idleness,' too, will clothe a man with rags."
But in your situation you may be tempted to dishonesty. This has brought many a youth to an untimely end. Never! 0! never, allow yourself to think of making free with what is not your own! flee from the appearance of this evil, and watch against what leads to it, the indulgence of a squeamish appetite for dainties, and love of dress and show, which is a still more usual source of this temptation. Dishonesty leads to falsehood and deceit to cover itself; and against this, as one of the most de. grading vices, let me particularly warn you. Ingenuousness and love of truth are some of the most natural and lovely traits in any, but especially a youthful character. Let those, therefore, always mark your whole conduct. 0! I love to hear a master say, " There is one thing I like in that lad, we never found him equivocating, or denying a fault! we can always depend on his word. Indeed, particular temp'ations arise from particular circumstances, which cannot all be enumerated ; but 'watch and pray,' lest you be betrayed by any; and, as the great antidote to all, pray for a tender conscience and an obedient heart, and remember, wherever you are or whatever you do, that the eve of God is upon you; and that for each action he will bring you into judgment.' Listen not to the instruction that causeth to err from the paths of wisdom and integrity. Let not the sneer of infidel-wit make you ashamed of doing what conscience and the word of God dictate ; mor let the solicitation of wicked young persons draw you into evil: " If sinners entice thee, consent thou pot;' but let a noble, circumspect conduct, above all suspicior, witness for you that you ' fear God.'
Consider, dear youth, that thus you will escape a thousand poisoned darts which pierce the hearts of sinners ; thus you will find a peace that passeth understanding ; thus you will establish for yourself a character which will be of more valute to you than money ; thus you will be the joy of your parents and friends and, believing in the Saviour, and walking by his commands, you will - please God,' which is the highest object at which you can aim. O! that you may fear bim from your yoath ; anjoy
his smiles through life, and, having lived to him, obtain his final plaudit ! .
I am unwilling to suppose that any one of you into whose hands these lines may fall, has been so unhappy as to have broken through the restraints of your education, the advices of friends, or the remonstrances of conscience; but perhaps this may have been the case, and you feel the severest self-reproach. My heart pities thee, dear youth ; but, O! do not say I have loved idols, and after them I will go ! No, no; rather stop, instantly stop; regard not the laugh of your wicked companions, nor the solicitations of secret lusts; fiee, flee at once to God; plead for pardon through a Saviour's bloed ; cry to God for his strength to enable you to break the net in which you have boen taken ; be not ashamed to say I have sinned;' I have tasted the forbidden fruit; but though it was sweet in my mouth, it is bitter in reflection ; sin deceived me, and slew nie.' Up, prodigal, and return to thy Fatlrer, and dare to tell your companions in sin by your conduct, that he who ó pursues lying vanities forsakes his own mercies ;' and that Religion's ways alone are pleasantness and peace.
Dost thou know the Lord, and fear to offend him: 0! bless his name who has put his fear into your heart, and let not any part of your temper or conduct reproach your religious profession ; you are a light set on an hill;' let your whole deportment be such as shall recommend the Saviour and his easy yoke to others. Keep near to God in secret prayer; read your Bible daily, and lay up some portion of it in your memory every morning, as a theme for your thoughts at every leisure moment through the day; prize your Sabbaths, they are golden opportunities ; 'be ready to give to every one that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear;' avoid ostentation, and let humility shew your whole character to be the growth of sterling principle. Walk with God. May He keep you from falling, and present you before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy! So prays your sincere friend,
MR. W , a respectable Calvinistic minister in R --, being visited hy a young candidaie for the ministry on Sunday, invited him to preacha The young gentleman readily consented, and del:vered an ingenieus Arminian sermon, though his prayer was very Calvinistic. When the service was over, Mr. W thanked him for his kindness, praised him for his ingenuity, but told him that, as they did not agree in sentiment, he could nu invite him to preach again; but, continued he, I have a favour to ask, of rou: When you go home, will you sit down and write a prayer, to agree will the sentiments you bave this day been preaching? - will you commit
it to memory, go into your closet, and repeat it to God? The young man promised to do it. Accordiogly, when he went home, he wrote the prayer, committed it to memory, went into his closet, and altempted to repeat it ? but found, through the power of conscience, that he could not.
A few years afterwards he came again to Mr. W. Mr. W. soon recollected him, and received him very cordially. The young gentleman offered to preach for him, Mr. W. at last reluctantly consented. Accordingly, the young gentleman went into the pulpit, and, to the great astonishment of Mr. W. delivered a sound, sensible, Calvinistic sermon. When the service was over, Mr. W. asked bim why he had altered his sentiments: the young gentleman asked him, if he did not recollect a favour be had, a few years ago, requested of him; and being answered in the affirmative, he related the circumstances, and added, that, being greatly agitated as well as surprized, he had carefully examined his sentiments, and had reasoned thus with himself :-Can it be proper for me to preach to a congregation what I cannot offer up in prayer to God?
To this Anecdote may be added what Dr. Owen says, in his Doctrine of Justification,' &c. It has been often observed, that the school-men themselves, in their meditations and devotional writings, speak a language quite differeot from that which they use in their dispules and controversies : and I had rather learn what men really think on this head from their prayers than from their writings. Nor do I remeniber that I ever heard any good man, in his prayers, use any expressions about justification, wherein any thing of self. righteousness was introduced. Nor have I observed that any public Liturgies (the Mass-Book excepted) guide men, in their prayers before God, to plead any thing for their acceptance with him, or as the means or condition thereof, --but grace, mercy, the righteousness and blood of Christ alone *.'
* See p. 8, &c. Quarto edition. age 6, Burder's Abridgment. Extracts from the Diary of an Eminent Minister, lately deceased. Nov. 1761. Being al ae, I felt an earnest desire of knowing that I had an interest in the special favour of God. I thought, that if I could make it out that I loved God, I might safely infer my interest in his favour. The evidences then of my loving God, which I am persuaded I have had, were, 1. Delight in thinking of God. 2. Fear to offend hiin. 3. A desire to be with him.-- Thinking on these things was attended with comfort.
In company, I found a person observing too closely my inaccuracies to he very agreeable, though that person was keown to be a man of great knowledge.-Learn from hence, not to discover before company the fault of any person present, unless the honour of God require it.
Dec. I was in company with a lad of about seventeen years, as expert in sio as the oldest sinner; who repeated past sins with great delight: no shame nor fear could silence him.-Learn, if the servants of Satan are not ashamed to speak and act 'for their Master in the presence of the servants of God, surely, God's servants ought not to be ashamed nor afraid when in the presence and company of the Devil's servants.
On Lord's Day my mind was borne down with a sense of my unprepared. ness for the work of the day; my fears arose so high, as greatly to affect my body. This fear, as to its nature, was an apprehension of being left to barrenness in the work of the day. Its cause was viewing the greatness of the work and the weakness of my own abilities, without looking to God. lis cure I thought must be, a view of the Lord's ability to help me, and a reliance on him for aid. I went to meeting in the depth of fear, but the Lord did not leave me in it after his service began ; for both in prayer and preaching I enjoyed unusual liberty. After this, my proud heart was too much elated ; and the Lord very justly left ine to great contractedness in the afterooon,
lo company, I saw and heard a person expose the letter of his private friend to the censures of all present : he read the letter publicly, and laughed at its inaccuracies. Learu, as thou didst dislike it, never to do the same.
Journeying in the coach from London to Bristol, with three persons : 'as soon as I had learnt their disposition, and found i heir chosen conversation to be prophane and obscene, i begged the Lord to keep me from being in, jured, and desired that iny conversation might be useful to them : and I had the pleasure to find their respect for me to increase ; and after they found that their filthy conversation was offensive to me, through the goodness of God, they behaved, in general, very soberly and kindly. I felt, that lave to auy poor sinner's soul, makes all that is done for his good, pleasant to him that does it. ; 28. Saw a person at the point of death, without the exercise of reason. From the condition in which the body was, I would learn to be indifferent aboutit: and from its incapacity to do any thing for God, learn to improve health and youth. Visited also Mr. J. C. who had been very ill, and testified, from bis own experience, the insufficiency of every thing short of the experimental knowledge of Christ, to support the mind in the views of death.
31. I was concerned, as soon as I awoke, about my soul. I thought malters were not right between it and God; and proposed to enquire into the nature, cause, and cure of my affliction. Its nature was found to be a caren. less habit of miud about the glory of God, the interest of my soul, and the things of another world. Ils cause I suppose to be, seldom thinking on these things, and slight dependence on the assistance of the Divine Spirit. Ils eure is plain ; viz. often meditating on these things, and strong reliance on God.
This being the last evening in the year, I set apart a little ti ne for reflccta ing on the chief occurrences in the year. As to persoual afflictions, I have had none of body, but of soul many; as a Christian, many omissions and coinmissions inay well afflict me: as a minister, I should bewail my liitle zeal for God, and want of love to souls. As to relative afflictions, I have buricd my father, and an afll c!ed brother; and m grieved that there is not were religion among those that are left.. Ny mercies were many, Preservation in journeying, and from all bodily illness. As a Christian, de liverance from exiernal sins. As a minister, have had nothing publicly dis. honourable in my ministrs, have enjoyed plentiful means of grace, and some success has attended my labours ; many profess the word has been useful to their souls. I was called to supply a destilulé church in London (De. vonshire Square); and told that, if agrccable, they would chuse me for their minister.-Let me bless God for mercies, and abhor myself for sips.
A. D. 1762. -- Jan. 1. Being in my closet ai F. al midnight, I closed the last year, and began this, with prayer.
2. Ileard of Mrs. Clark's death. She was with us at conference on Tuesday, was seized yesterday, about 12 o'clock, and is now, on Saturday, dead. -Learn, my goui, from the suddenness of her death, to live cvery day exDecting thine own; and learn the great uncertainty of earthly comforts. Consider death as on its way to thy neart, and thy soul as soon to stand be. fore God, and be cousigned to Heaven or Hell. Jesus! I have no depende ence but on thee, for the pardun of my numerous sins, the justification of .
y person before God, and filling is impure soul for Heaven. I believe thoi art equal to these things; and my expectation for them is from thee. Crani me'more kaowledge of divine things, and let them always properly impress iny Dzied, and influence iny thougi:iswords, and actions.--Mr. Claik* bciaves like a bird husband, beins properly affected with the loss of his wife, and, like a dutitui child of God, being resigned to his awful will.
Jan. 4. At inidnight, being about to retire to rest, I addressed myself lo
* Late l'astor of the Baptist Congregaiion at Crockerton.