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and the greatest finite, than there is between the greatest finite and infinite. There is more proportion between an hour and an hundred millions of years, than there is between an hundred millions of years and elernity. Because the least finite makes part of the greatest, whereas the greater finitę makes no part of infinite. An hour makes part of an hundred millions of years, because an hundred millions of years are only an hour repeated a certain number of times; whereas an hundred millions of years make no part of eternity; and eternity is not an hundred millions of years repeated a certain number of times. 3. With regard to infinite, the least or the greatest finite are the same thing. With regard to eternity, an hour or an hundred millions of years are the same thing. So are the duration of the life of a man and the duration of the world itself; because both of them are nothing; and nothing admits not of more or less.
All this being granted, I now suppose God to grant you but a quarter of an hour to live, wherein to secure an eternity of happiness, and avoid an eternity of misery; and at the same time to reveal to you that the world itself should come to an end an hour after your death. I ask you, on this supposition, what account would you make of the world and its judgments ? Wbat account would you make of the pains or the pleasures you might experience during your life? With what care would you not think yourselves obliged to employ yourselves every moment of your life to prepare for death? O fools that ye are! Do you not perceive that, with respect to God, with respect to eternity, the supposition I have just made is indeed a reality! that the duration of your life, compared to eternity, is less than a quarter of an hour, and the duration of the universe less than an hour.
I make another supposition:- If you had an hundred years to live, and for your support the whole of this period, must only have what you could carry off in the space of an hour, from a treasury of gold and silver coin, the entrance to which should be open during that hour. I ask, in what you would employ the hour? In sleeping, walking, feasting, diversion? Doubtless not, but in amassing riches, and even in loading yourselves with gold in preference to silver. O fools that we are! we must exist to all eternity, and during this eternity we shall only have the reward secured in time, and during the short space of our life;- and yet we employ not all our time in endeavouring to obtain a great reward ! But you will say to me, during life it is necessary to sleep, to drink, to eat, and take some slight recreation. I grant it; but what hinders that, like St. Paul, you may doʻall for the love of God, and thereby obtain a recompence for all. It must be confest that the passions are so lively, and opportunities so seducing, that it is a won
der there should be one righteous man upon earth, neverte less there are such; and this is the effect of the mercy of God, and the grace of the Redeemer. On the other hand, death, judgment, eternity, are truths so awful, that it is astonishin that there should be one obstinate sinner upon earth! such, however, is the effect of forgetting these great truths. Let us then meditate, watch, and pray, that we may be of the number of the righteous in time and eternity.
Such was the sermon our Philosopher made for himself, and with which he was so satisfied, that he read it every day, and many times a day. He did more, he pratited by it, and led a Troly life, conformable to the great truths he had continually before his eyes.
AN ORIGINAL LETTER OF TIIE LATE HON. AND REV. IVALTER SHIRLEY.
To the Editor. As scarcely any remains of Mr. Shirley's Works are in possession of the
public, I trust that the following Letter, written by him, will not be us
acceptable to your numerous readers. Yours affectionately, Dublin.
ADOLESCESS. Rev. and very dear Brother,
I Bear in iny mind, with all thankfulness, the tender lore and charitable prayers with which God was pleased to inspire your heart, and the hearts of his dear children in Ireland, towards my unhappy brother, myself, and our afflicted family, under the late dreadful calamities inflicted on us*. May every blessing you songht, for him or us, be doubled and redoubled in your own souls! and may the Lord remove far from every one of you that bitter cup, which it seemed good to him that we should share in!
I have reason to bless my God daily, for the humbling les. sons he has taught me, through these his awfnl visitations. O Sir, is there much danger now that I should pride mysell upon my family!
On many, many considerations, my earnest desires draw me towards you, and yet I perceive myself detained here, very much against my will, by a trust reposed in me by my late brother, to see his debts discharged, and other matters properly settled, that no further dishonour may be reflected on his memory. I would to God I may meet you in Connaught, and give you a poor but hearty welcome at Loughrea; bar fear I cannot possibly be down till the time you have proposed; for your stay there is expired. Let me entreat you, however,
* The death of his brother, Earl Ferrars.
that you will pay a visit to my poor flock, for whom I am sorely grieved in my absence from them; and can only be comforted in the sweet hope that you will not neglect them in your travels. You are heartily welcome to my church, if you please to make use of it'; and I hope you will be truly welcome to the ears and hearts of all the people.
I hope my time at --- was not passed unprofitably. I had many serious conversations with Lady ---, who afforded me a more favourable attention than I could have expected. There is a certain nobleness of heart, and a love of truth so deeply ingrafted in her, that surely she must come right at last. She was pleased to allow what I said to be highly reasonable; and I trust that when her poor heart feels the wretched want of those comforts which the realizing of these truths can only give, she will recollect the remedy which God enabled me to point out to her, and that a due application of it will be made to the healing of her wounded spirit, through the precious Balsam of the atoning Blood.
I preached three times at Moira; and find the people there ready enough to acknowledge the trnth, but very backward in embracing it. Oo my retum home I preached at Mr. Piers's church at Killeshee, near Longford; and (as I am told) a young woman received grace under the word. In short, I find my excursions are more blest than my labours in my own parish : this is a great grief io me: I am nevertheless not discouraged, but wait God's time, in humble expectation that he will visit this people, and give me to see of the travail of his soul, and be satistied.
In the mean time, dear Sir, let me entreat yoù neither to for. bear warning nor reproof, if you hear any things of me you deem blameable; and be persuaded, that your ingenuous frankness on such occasions, will be ever acknowledged the * best proof of your love and esteem for me.
Above all things, I request your earnest wrestlings with God in my hebalt, that I may not be found an unprofitable servant in the day of the Lord; but that I may rejoice with you and the saints of God in glory, both I and the children whom the Lord God shall give me.
May the ever blessed ard eternal God prosper you and the work of your hands! May he continue to bless and endow you with the riches of his unscarchable wisdom, and permit you to be with us many years, for the furtherance of the ministry of his glorious gospel, and for the enlargement of your own everlasting reward, eternal in the heavens. Amen and Amen.
Your most unworthy,
yet ever afl'ectionate Brother in the Lord, November 1, 1700.
CONVENTICLE ACT. The spirit of persecution having recently revived, and a person har ing been prosecuted merely for praying in his house, it is proper that the deiestable statute on which such conviction took place should be generally known. We, therefore, present our readers, from Neale's History of the Puritans, with an Account of the Conventicle Act, which still remains one of the laws of England; and to which persecutors may resort, whenever they choose to disturb their pious neighbours, who have not been licenced according to the Act of Toleration. We sincerely hope that the time is not far distant when this cruel statute shall no longer disgrace this land of frecdoin.
This Bill received the Royal assent April 11, 1670. It was to the following effect :-- That if any persons, upwards of sixteen years, shall be present at any Assembly, Conventicle, or Meeting, under colour or pretence of any exercise of religion, in any other manner than according to the Liturgy and practice of the Church of England, where there are five persons or more present, besides those of the said household, in such cases the offen. der shall pay five shillings for the first offence; and ten shillings for the second ; and the Preachers or Teachers in any such meetings shall forfeit twenty pounds for the first, and forty for the second offence: and lastly, Those who knowingly suffer any such Conventicles in their Houses, Barns, Yards, &c. shall forteit twenty pounds. Any Justice of Peace, on the oath of two respectable witnesses, or any other sufficient proof, inay record the offence under his hand and seal, which record shall be taken in law for a full and perfect conviction, and shall be certified at the next Quarter Sessions. The fines above mentioned may be levied by distress and sale of the offender's goods and chattels; and in case of the poverty of such offender, upon the goods and chattels of any other person or persons that shall be convicted of having been present ai the said Conventicle, at the discretion of the Justice of Peace, so as the sum to be levied on any one person, in case of the porerty of others, do not amount to above ten pounds for any one meeting, - the Constables; Headboroughs, &c. are to levy the same by warrant from the Justice, and to be divided, one third for the use of the King, another third for the poor, and the other third to the Informer or his assistants, regard being had to their diligence and industry in discovering, dispersing, and punishing the said Conventicles. The fines upon Ministers for preaching are to be levied also by distress; and in case of poverty, upon the goods and chattels of any other present; and the like upon the house where the Conventicle is held ; and the money to be divided as above.
• And it is further enacted, That the Justice or Justices of Peace, Constable, Fleadboroughs, &c. may by warrant, with what aid, force, and assistance they shall think necessary, break open, and enter into any house or place where they shall be informed of the Conventicle, and take the persous so assembled into custody ; – and the Lieutenants, or other commissioned Officers of the Militia, may get together such force and assistance as they think necessary to dissolve, dissipate, and disperse such uolawful meetings, and take the persons into custody.'
Then follow two extraordinary clauses: • That if any Justice of Peace refuse to do his duty in the execution of this Act, he shall forfeit five pounds.'
· And be it further enacted, That all clauses in this Act shall be constroed most largely and beneficially for the suppressing Conventicles, and for the justification and encouragement of all persons to be employed in the execution thereof. No warrant or mittimus shall be inade void, or reversed, for any default in the form; and if a person fly from one county
or corporation to another, his goods and chattels shall be seizable whereever they are found. If the party offending be a wife cohabiting with her husband, the fine shall be levied on the goods and chattels of the husband, provided the prosecution be within three months.'
The wit of man could hardly invent any thing, short of capital punishment, more cruel and inhuman. One would have thought such a merciful Prince as King Charles II. who had often declared against persecution, should not have consented to it; and that no Christian bishop should have voted for it. Mens' houses are to be plundered, their persons imprisoned, their goods and chattels carried away, and sold to those who would bid for them. Encouragement is given to a vile set of informers, and others, to live upon the labour and industry of their conscientious neighbours. Multitudes of these sordid creatures spend their profits in ill bouses, and upon lewd women, and then went about the streets again to bunt for further prey. The law is to be construed in favour of these wretches, and the power to be lodged in the hand of every single Justice of Peace, who is to be fined five pounds if he refuses his warrant. Upon this many honest men, who would not be the instruments of such severities, left the bench, and would sit there no longer.
Great numbers were prosecuted on this act, and many industrious families reduced to poverty. Many ministers were confined in gaols and close prisons; and warrants were issued out against them and their bearers, to the amount of great sums of money. In the diocese of Salisbury the persecution was hottest, by the instigation of bishop. Ward, -many hundreds being prosecuted with great industry, and driven from their families and trades. The act was executed with such severity in Starling's mayoralty, that many of the trading men in the city were removing with their effects to Holland, till the king put a stop to it. Informers were everywhere at work; and having crept into religious asa semblies in disguise, levied great sums of money upon ininister and people. Soldiers broke into the houses of bonest farmers, under pretence of searching for conventicles; and where ready money was wanting, they plundered their goods, drove away their cattle, and sold them for half price. Many were plundered of their household furniture ; the sick have had their beds taken from under them, and themselves laid on the floor. Should I sum up all the particulars, and the accounts I have received (says Mr. Sewel) it would make a volume of itself. These vile creatures were not only encouraged, but pushed on vehemently by their spiritual guides; for this purpose Archbishop Sheldon sent another circular letter lo all the bishops of his province, dated May 7, 1670; in which he directs all ecclesiastical judges and officers “to take notice of all non-conformnists, holders, frequenters, maintainers, and abettors of conventicles, especially preachers and teachers in them, and of the places wherein they are beld, ever keeping a more watchful eye over the cities and greater towns, from whence the mischief is for the most part derived into the lesser villages and bamlets; and wheresoever they find such wilful offenders, that then, with an hearty affection to the worship of God, the honour of the king and his laws, and the peace of the church and kingdom, they do address themselves to the civil magistrate, justices, and others concerned, imploring their help and assistance for preventing and suppressing the sarse, according to the late act in that behalf made and set forth; - and now, my Lord, what the suceess will be, we must leave to God Almighty; yet, iny
Lord, I have this confidence, under God, that if we do our parts now at first seriously, by God's help, and the assistance of the civil power, considering the abundant care and provision the act contains for our advantage, we shall, in a few months, see so great an alteration in the distractions of these times, as that the seducid people returning from the seditious and self-seeking teachers to the unity of the church, and uniformity of God's worship, it will be to the glory of God, the welfare of the church, the praise of his Majesty and government, and the bappiness