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whose estate, in your relief of whose necessities, ye are ministering to them who "are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God." I do trust, therefore, you will give with the handsof brethren in Christ, with the mind that deviseth liberal things; knowing that by liberal things it shall stand. And now, my young fellow Christians, who have in holy baptism made so solemn and fearless a confession of your faith in Christ, I turn to you with many anxieties and with many prayers —with anxieties, that you may lead the rest of your lives according to this beginning—with prayers, that yours be may the deeper baptism of the Spirit of God in the laver of regeneration. I should deceive you, if I were not to tell you, that the Christian course is beset with many difficulties and dangers. I should deceive you, if I were not to tell you, that he who would wear the crown must take up the cross; and that beyond the common, yours will be a harder struggle, a fiercer warfare—that Satan will take an awful revenge upon what you have done this day. Prepare yourselves for his temptations : watch and pray. I know that you have all made great sacrifices—that you have cut asunder the ties of home and of blood—that you have separated yourselves from a
mother's tenderness and a father's blessing; and that some of you, from the ease and enjoyment of a fair estate, are voluntarily subjecting yourselves to the toil of a low occupation; and this from your conviction of the truth as it is in Jesus. You will not however forget that yours will be a continual struggle. The glory of the Church of Christ is involved in the consistency of your walk. The interests of the institution are allied with your conduct. The prejudices of Christians will be deepened or removed at your hands. I say not these things to discourage you, to dishearten you, but that you may keep yourselves in the posture of solemn circumspection and fear.
And I now, as a Minister of Christ, with all earnestness and affection, commit you to the guidance of that Holy Spirit, who, amidst all your temptations and temporal calamities, can lead you on your way conquering and to conquer; until at last you shall exchange the sorrows of this mortal life for the glories of a happy immortality. I leave you with the hope in God, and with the prayer in Christ, that your present small gathering may only prove, as it were, the first few sheaves of a mighty harvest, in the conversion of the " many thousands of Israel."
DELIVERED BY THE REV. DR. DIBDIN,
AT ST. MARY'S CHURCH, BRYANSTONE SQUARE, JAN. 16, 1831.
Luhe, xiii. 2, 3.—" And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these OaliUeans were tinners abote all the Galilceans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Way: but, except ye repent, ye shall all lihewise perish."
It has been repeatedly observed, that, in the discourses of our Blessed Saviour, a wonderful facility is displayed of putting both convincing and powerful arguments in a familiar, simple, and irresistible point of view. Numberless are the instances which might be noticed as corroborative of this remark; but, perhaps, few could have been more judiciously selected than that which forms the subject matter
of our present attention. The chapter from which the text is taken opens thus :—" There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had'mingled with their sacrifices." The Galileans were a faetious tribe, founded by one Judas of Galilee, who taught opposition to the Roman governors. Many of these were slain by Pilate in the act of making their sacrifices, whose blood
the Roman governor is supposed to have wantonly poured along with the blood of the sacrificed beasts upon the altar. The angry feeling of the greater part of the people surrounding Christ supposed this to have happened to the Galileans, in consequence of their wickedness. Jesus, however, observed to them, "Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galilseana, because they suffered sucb things? I tell you, Nay; but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." He then takes another instance, by way of illustration. "Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay r but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
The reflections which are suggested by a due consideration of these words may be divided under the following heads. First, God Almighty sometimes permits a premature and severe death, either as a punishment due to the wickedness of those that suffer, or as a warning to the wicked who are going on in a life of profligacy. Secondly, The punishment even of the guilty is no extenuation of our own errors or crimes; and to be constantly passing a severe judgment upon others, is a sign of harsh, and illiberal, and unchristianlike dispositions, in ourselves. Thirdly, The miseries that befall others, whether justly or unjustly, are frequently awful warnings to ourselves, to look to our own hearts and to our own conduct, and to see whether or not, according to the equitable doctrines of heaven, we may not be amenable to the same visitation.
First, then, it has been remarked, that God Suffers Punishment To Be
SOMETIMES INFLICTED AS THE WAGES DUB TO 8IN, AS THE JUST CONSEQUENCE OF LONG CONTINUED WICKEDNESS. In the nature of things, this would appear consonant with every principle of justice and of common sense: for many are frequently deterred from crime, not by a deeplyrooted abhorrence of crime, but from seeing how crimes are punished with death in others. But our heavenly Father inflicts punishment upon some, not from any erring principle of con
duct in the sufferer, but for the benefit of others. This I could most strikingly display in the tortures which were inflicted on God's only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; in whom was no guile, no variableness, no shadow of a turning; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and, wonderful to say, to him were imputed, although absolutely immaculate, the sins of the whole world. Other examples, less awful and less striking, may be adduced. Such were the afflictions of Job, and of Joseph, of David, and of Daniel; whose histories, as the Apostle tells us, "were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." Such also were the sufferings of Paul himself, and of most of his brethren and fellow-labourers, who trod in the steps of the Great Captain of their Salvation, and who like him were " made perfect in suffering." And such, my brethren, without doubt, were the poverty, the sickness, the sorrow, the contempt, the shame, and all the other acute mental, and sometimes bodily sufferings, which assailed the holy men of past times; and which do sometimes still assail virtuous people. These, so far from being meant as a punishment, are frequently considered as blessings; and the effect of them, upon those exempt from such maladies, is as frequently salutary. For when we see men bear severe afflictions with patience and with magnanimity, we arc taught, not only to respect their persons, their characters, and their memories, but to cultivate in ourselves those seeds which produce similar fruits.
Secondly, we may remark, that
BECAUSE THE GUILTY SUFFER AND WE ESCAPE, OUR INNOCENCE IS NOT THEREBY NECESSARILY ESTABLISHED.
We may be spared, if we do not amend our lives, for a severer visitation. We are, in truth, too apt to attach merit to ourselves, when we escape the calamities which have befallen others; and, what is worse, we are sometimes too prone to asperse the memories, and even to blacken the deeds, of others who have been unhappily overtaken by punishment and by disgrace. We seem to be exalted, as it were, by their fall; and to be elevated into a distinction, only because others have sunk a few degrees lower than ourselves in iniquity. This facility of passing a panegyric upon our supposed virtues, and of dealing out censure upon the palpable failings of others, requires most serious correction, and to be rooted out of every honest Christian, regarding it as a strange narrowness of understanding. Do not let us, in multiplying the misery or sharpening the affliction of others, add to the chastisement in flicted upon them; the punishment of heaven is surely heavy enough, without the severity of a fellow-creature. Most lamentable is it to observe how ready men are to magnify the vices of others —to put accidental, but certainly not justifiable, lapses from virtue, in com' petition with long-continued acts of benevolence and of piety.
Whence arises this propensity in the human heart? Why is it not more zealously counteracted and successfully extirpated than it appears to be? It is because that, knowing our natural frailty, we are glad to seek opportunities of contrasting our conduct by the still more eccentric and glaring irregularities of conduct in others; and that which our conscience tells us to be doubtful in ourselves, now absolutely assumes the character of positive excellence: and as human nature loves to flatter itself, we are gratifying our absurdities, our follies, and our vices, at the expense of the most palpable truth. Look abroad in life, and see if one human being more than another is to be despised and shunned for this contemptible conduct. Will it not be that man who is roaming abroad for prey, upon the frailties, upon the sinfulness of his fellow-creatures, who is delighting his imagination and soothing his conscience with his own supposed excellencies, merely because he sees a few others more distinguished than himself for folly and irregularity? Can there be a more depraved state of understanding than this? and can any thing in the face of heaven be more hypocritical and provoking of the divine anger?
How dreadful, I ask you, would be the state of society, if men did not occasionally suffer the suggestions of mercy, of loving kindness, and forgiveness, to mingle with their judg
ment? and how like an established inquisition presiding over the common acts, and influencing the common thoughts of mankind, would be a society of human beings thus alive to the vindictive feelings of censure, of slander, and of condemnation? There a poor man, the father of a family, lies stretched on his bed of sickness, with scarcely a remnant to cover his shivering limbs. Such afflictions may be visitations, and just ones, from heaven: but let the censorious and hard-hearted man talk of these instances, and he will speak loudly and confidently of their being punishments which their wickedness provoked; while he congratulates himself, not only on his own exemption from such misfortunes, but for his merits which have entitled him to that exemption. So boastful—so, sometimes, utterly fallacious and despicable, are the pretensions of mere human nature.
But, on the other hand, let the humane and liberal -minded Christian view the foregoing picture of wretchedness, which I have thus feebly described. Let him see the poor, neglected, heartbroken man. Let him watch the tear of despair which sometimes dims the eye that once sparkled with domestic happiness. Let him discover the remembrance of other days engraven, as it were, upon the page of memory; while stupor, or insensibility, yea, even approaching death, renders this picture more appalling. Perhaps such a man has committed a serious offence, and he suffers what the law he has offended demands; and justice told him what would be his fate if he persevered in evil doing. And is that man a sinner above every other, in the eyes of the Christian philanthropist? On the contrary, the merciful and Christianlike observer of mankind will endeavour to lighten the load of misery which sits so heavily on his broken heart. The sunshine of mercy will irradiate his soul, and the genuine feelings of sympathy and of succour will be exercised, in striving to pour the balm of consolation into his suffering soul. So thinks and so acts the genuine disciple of Christ Jesus. The heart of the sincere disciple of Christ is brought, not to scrutinize every little feeling, not to magnify venial errors into unpardonable crimes, but to pity and to support the frail and the mistaken.
I have now to show, in the third place, that The Misery Which Has
OVERTAKEN OTHERS IS AX AWFUL WARNING TO OURSELVES TO LOOK TO OUR OWN" HEARTS, AND SINCERELY TO REPENT, LEST WE LIKEWISE PERISH.
Even- rational being, and every sincere believer in Christianity, must recall his scattered thoughts, must examine his past conduct, and resolve deeply and seriously in his own mind, upon the consequences of his actions. It is the property of true wisdom, from every thing which occurs to draw off something for our own benefit: and whatever observations we make on others, if they are not directed to this great purpose, are, in truth, of no manner of consequence or importance. And yet, if we were to judge from the ordinary practice of the world, we should think that the only end and design of knowledge was, to enable us to make shrewd and severe reflections upon the conduct of other men. There is too much to censure in the lives of the most apparently humble: but let me ask, if there be any wisdom, if there be any virtue, if there be any truth, in being ready, on all occasions, to mention, to ridicule, or to censure, the misconduct even of such an apparently upright character? Let those we thus censure be as guilty as we please, it will be no excuse for us, if, notwithstanding this, we ourselves are guilty of the like follies and crimes. Whatever becomes of them, however they are guilty, whatever they suffer, or whatever they deserve, there can be no question but that we are all accountable for ourselves. We are not to answer at the throne of God Almighty for any sin or any wickedness of others: we shall have enough to do, I fear, to justify our own actions, and to excuse our own misconduct, at the great and terrible day of the Lord Jesus. Little should we be concerned about the fate of others, any further than a charitable disposition may influence us to wish well to the whole race of man.
In the mean time, whatever hardships and severities we escape that are inflicted upon our Christian brethren, we should make it a matter of praise and thanksgiving, that we are
rescued and delivered, by God's gracious providence, from the multitudes of distresses, of afflictions, and calamities, that are sent among the sons of men. Here we see the virtuous and the brave cut off from their friends, their relations, and their country. Their blood has stained other lands; their bodies are entombed in foreign graves. They have fought a gootI fight. They are remembered and they are registered-in the annals of earthly glory. The widow's heart is cut in twain: children mourn; faithful friends weep; and a grateful country em balms their memory. If those personally exempt from a knowledge of suffering feel such things only by association of ideas, while their hearts remain closed, not only to gratitude to heaven for exemption from those dangers, but to the obligations due to those who have braved and surmounted them—such should learn to praise God, that under the covering of his wings, and through his protection, it is that we need not be afraid of any terror by night, nor of the arrow that flieth by day, nor of the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor of destruction that walketh at noon-day. These will be the feelings, and something like these will be the sentiments, of the faithful disciple of Jesus Christ: and, in truth, what upon earth is there which more exalts or better entitles him to the approbation of his Creator? We may talk of dignity, of grandeur, of hospitality, of cheerfulness, of rank, and of power; but what can be put in competition with the human intellect who knows its insignificance with respect to God, and who rejoices in the performance of all charitable duties? He, therefore, unquestionably, is amongst the happiest of mortals, who cultivates in his own bosom the seeds of humility, of benevolence, and of love—who scatters with a liberal hand what a gracious Providence hath enabled him to scatter—who keeps under his passions—and, if I may so say, organizes his reflections according to the dictates of Gospel truth. These teach peace and good will toward men; and these will tell him, that, if he strenuously labour in such a calling, he shall in no wise, here or hereafter, lose his reward.
DELIVERED BY THE REV. J. E. TYLER,
At ST. Giles' Church, January, 16, 1831.
1 Corinthians, xiv. 15—" I will pray with the Spirit, and I will pray with the under
Prayer is the Christian's duty, and the Christian's comfort; but prayer is not the distinguishing mark of a Christian, though no man can be a Chistian who does not pray. Prayer is a petition to God for some favours which we consider him able to bestow; consequently, every child of Adam, whether he believe the Gospel or not, whether he has ever heard the name of Christ or no, if he only looks to God as the Governor of the world, every man and woman on earth may offer a prayer to the Almighty. Thus the Psalmist himself, who worshipped Jehovah, the one true God, only, and offered to him the pure sacrifice of a believer's heart, still considers all mankind as privileged to offer their prayers at the same fountain of every good. "O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come." And so we actually find the fact to be. In every nation, civilized or savage, ignorant or enlightened, we discover proofs of the universal prevalence of prayer. History cannot carry us back to ages too remote, discovery cannot conduct us to people too secluded from the rest of the world, for the practice of prayer not to be found among them. Some doubtful reports indeed have, in one or two instances, reached our ears; but they leave the general fact as before, that, in all nations and in every age, prayers are offered for the protection and assistance of a power more than human.
Merely, then, in the bare act of prayer, a Christian is not distinguished from the other intelligent creatures of the Almighty's hands; but east is not further from the west, than is the Christian in prayer removed from those who have either never heard of Christ, or have rejected the testimony which God hath given of his Son. A broad
and palpable difference appears between that Great Beingto whom the Christian addresses his prayer, and the deity in favour of whom the heathen petitions. The Christian's God is not the heathen's God—the Christian's prayer is not the heathen's prayer. On these two points, it is essential for every one professing the faith of the Gospel to be well informed. The Christian ought to be thoroughly instructed in the nature of prayer. Prayer is a Christian duty; not a day, not an hour, no time, no place, no circumstances, supply exemption from this duty.
In common life, brethren, in our families, and in our persons, what is necessary to be done every day we feel ourselves bound to do well; what is our constant regular business, it is disgraceful and dangerous to remain ignorant of, or to do carelessly. So in the every-day life of a Christian, in which prayer is our regular constant business, it is dangerous, it is disgraceful, for him to perform that duty ignorantly or carelessly. Indeed, I will be bold to say, there is no single duty incumbent on man, in which instruction, clear views, correct notions, intimate and practical acquaintance with its real nature, are so necessary, so indispensable, as in the duty of prayer; for the Christian who performs this duty well, will, must, and cannot but perform his whole duty; he will please God, and save his own soul alive, through the merits of Christ, for ever.
In the evening lectures upon which, begging the divine blessing, we now enter, it is my wish to direct your thoughts to Christian prayer. And while I shall endeavour to make its character and objects clear to our understandings, it will be my anxious desire, at the same time, to cherish in our hearts the true sincere spirit of prayer;