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ever be at liberty again; and I wish I had been no good to you. There are a great many tempbrought here twenty years ago for their sake.” tations." I rejoice in the knowledge that sentiments like I here insert another letter brought for my inthese are felt by, and influence, many.
spection, whilst correcting the proof-sheet of this Thus salutary is the system in awakening a work for the press. I may premise that the writer sense of parental negligence, and in creating is under sentence of imprisonment for eighteen thoughtfulness on the terrible effects of vicious months, for a felony: both his parents have been example. Again, the profligate, who spurned convicted—his father many times: three of his the warnings and slighted the entreat'es of affec- brothers are now transported : tion, in his separation calls to mind the long
February 1st, 1848. forgotten precept of the parent, and, with a sor- “ Dear sister, I take this opportunity of rowful remembrance, he resolves that henceforth writing these few lines to you, hoping to find it shall be observed *.
you in good health, as it leaves me at present, In the foregoing remarks I have not represented thank God for it. But that is only the health of merely imaginary consequences, or described such the body. But I trust I shall attain to the health resolutions as are lost sight of on the prisoners of the soul through Jesus Christ, who bath died release; but with thankfulness I look around on for sinners; for I am determined by God's grace many whose present conduct proves their promises to forsake my sins, and henceforth to live in obeto have been sincere, and their determinations dience to God's commands; for I think this is stedfast ; whilst most cheering and encouraging is almost enough to make one bate his own life, the gratitude expressed by the families of several of much more that which has caused his shame. these discharged criminals, who, once selfish and Have I not cause to look upon sin with perfect inhuman, have by separation and instruction been hatred, and one above all; although it is no use to rendered considerate and kind.
hate one and not others, but that one was the The observations of this chapter may be illus- cause of all the others. The particular one is trated by the following extract from a letter written drinking, which brought me very low; and, if by a prisoner, twenty years of age, to his sister, you read the following verses, you will see that I after he had been five months in prison for a
have proved them: Prov. xx. 1; Prov. xxiii. felony. It is inserted rather as a specimen of 21 and 32; Haggai i. 6; Prov. i. 31 ; Prov. many than because superior to most:
xiii. 15-21 ; Prov. xi. 21; Isa. xlviii. 22 ; Jer. "Don't fret, my dear sister, about my being xxii. 21. And now, my dear sister, seeing I have here. I cannot help fretting when I think about proved this, I do heartily pray that you will iny usage to my father and mother: when I think correct your son betimes, and he will give you about it, it makes me quite ill. I hope God will comfort and joy; for, if you leave him to himself, forgive me: I pray for it night and day from my he will surely cause you shame. But you may heart. Instead of fretting about my imprison say it is nothing to me what you do with your son, ment, I ought to thank God for it; for before I But, seeing I have brought disgrace upon you and came here I was living quite a careless life; myself, I desire that you should bring your child neither was God in all my thoughts: all I thought up in the fear of God, that he may prove a blessing about was ways that lead me towards destruction to you and to himself. I hope my dear mother Give my respects to my wretched companions, makes herself as happy as she can concerning me, and I hope they will alter their wicked course; and I hope she thinks more about the salvation of for they don't know for a day nor an hour but her soul. And think not, my dear mother, as I what they may be cut off. I have seen iny folly, heard you once say, that you thought God would and I hope they may see their folly ; but I should'nt not be so severe with those who have so many if I had not been in trouble. It is good for me troubles in this world. But, my dear mother, that I have been in trouble. Go to church, my this is a strong delusion of the devil's, and he sister, every Sunday; and don't give your mind would like to make you believe a lie ; but if you to going to play-houses and theatres, for that is read the following scriptures you will see that
your thoughts cannot stand : Ezek. xvii.; Colos. The editor of the “ United States Gazette,” gives ix. 17; Ps. xi. 6. This shows us plainly that all
iii. 25; Mark xyi. 16; Luke xii. 3 and 5; Ps. the following anecdote, illustrative of that thoughtful affection to which the isolated condition of our pri. who don't repent must suffer the vengeance of soners is favourable: “ The keeper had moved away from eternal fire. Read St. John's gospel, and there the grate, and we were about to follow, when the prisoner you will see that Jesus died for sinners. This said in a low voice, One word more, if you please. You letter may perhaps displease you ; but I have not seem to understand these things. Do the spirits of the departed ever come back to witness the actions and situation
wrote this to reproach you, but out of pure love of the living? Many people believe it,' we replied; "and
to you, knowing that your time is at hand; and I the scripture says that there is joy in heaven over a sinner cannot tell how near mine is, for with many tears that repenteth on earth. It may, therefore, be true. It of sorrow have I wrote this on account of my past may be,' said the man. 'My poor, poor mother !!! That folly, and with the determination of amendment. fearful imprisonment in the penitentiary we have described) Give my love to Michael and to Hannah : in your could not touch him; but, when the thought came rushing next letter please to send me word how she is into his mind that his mother witnessed his situation, his degradation, imprisonment, and sufferings, his heart felt its going on, and how my sister Mary is doing. power, and he bowed before the shrine of that mother's Good bye, and God bless you; and, if I never memory, who had watched over him in infancy, and with see you on earth, it is my earnest prayer to meet maternal fondness sought many methods to secure his happiness and welfare.” Erroneous as was the idea that a departed
you all in heaven. saint could be the subject of any painful emotion, yet the
“I am your affectionate brother, error does not detract from the argument that feelings of
"J. I." affection are promoted by separate imprisonment.
PROVERBS iv. 23.
KEEPING THE HEART :
rious impure, covetous, angry, and malicious A Sermon,
thoughts are naturally lodged and nursed
and brought into action. Our Lord has BY THE REV. J. BULL, M.A.,
assured us that “all evil desires and pur
poses come from within,” from the heart, Incumbent of St. John's Chapel, Walthamstow. and defile the man" (Matt. xv. 18-20).
The heart, then, being the repository of so “ Keep thy heart with all diligence ; for out of it are
many evils, ever ready to break forth, it is the issues of life."
absolutely necessary for us to keep it with
all diligence. No wise man would encouIn the language of the holy scriptures, we rage the growth of poisonous and destructive must understand by the “heart” all the weeds in his grounds; but the lusts and thoughts and motions of the mind, all those passions which spring up of their own accord inward principles which influence and regu- in the hearts of men are of a far more deadly late our outward conduct. Every person, and destructive nature. If the corrupt protherefore, who is in the least acquainted with pensities of the heart are suffered to grow; himself, must acknowledge the necessity and if they are rather fostered than suppressed; importance of attending to this divine injunc- if a man will “make provision for the flesh tion of the wise man, as a negligence in re- to fulfil the lusts thereof,” it will not be surspect to this is the source of all those dis- prising if he is carried headlong into all kinds orders and sins which distract and pollute of wickedness. If the thoughts and affecthe world. Let us, then, consider,
tions of the heart are permitted to run wild, I. Why we should keep our hearts with how can we expect anything pure and upall diligence.
right in the tenor of our conduct ? II. How this may be done in the most Whence arise covetous practices, pilfering, effectual manner.
and stealing? “whence come and I. The reason assigned in the text why fightings,” ervyings and murders ? whence we must “keep our heart with all diligence proceed impure, unchaste conversation, and is, because that out of it are the issues of all vicious excesses? These all take their life.” The heart is the first spring of all our rise from the heart, because it is not kept with actions. According to the state of the heart, all diligence, but is suffered to harbour and whether it be good or bad, as it is properly cherish evil imaginations and desires. When or improperly disposed, such will be the the seeds of disorder and impurity are not general tenor of our whole conduct. Thus checked and rooted up on their first appearour Lord said to some of the Jews : "How ance, but are allowed to gain a firm possession can ye, being evil, speak good things ? for in the heart, the consequence is such as might out of the abundance of the heart the mouth be expected, corrupt affections predominate, speaketh. A good man out of the good and all the faculties of the soul are overrun treasure of the heart bringeth forth good with destructive vices. Human nature is things; and an evil man out of the evil trea- weak and depraved ; and hence the world is sure bringeth forth evil things” (Matt. xii. so full of wickedness and disorder, as few 34, 35). The heart of man is not good by persons are diligent to keep their own hearts. nature, but is
prone to evil.” The holy Mankind too often encourage themselves in scriptures assure us, that “the heart is deceit- wickedness, and willingly fan the flame ful above all things, and desperately wicked" which they should endeavour to quench. (Jer. xvii. 9). It is of itself too much in- The proneness of the heart to evil is the clined to pursue sensual and earthly objects, very reason why it should be watched over but altogeiher averse from those duties which with greater viġilance, and why its motions it owes to God. The apostle writes thus to should be directed into a proper channel. In the Hebrews : “Take heed, brethren, lest order that “the issues of life” may be pure there be in any of you an evil heart of unbe- and good, we must carefully seek to have the lief, in departing from the living God” (Heb. fountain of them cleansed from all impurity. iii. '12, 13). The scriptures also speak of “a It is a vain thing to expect that “a fountain double heart," "a deep heart,” “a subtle should send forth at the same place both heart," a proud heart, froward heart," sweet water and bitter” (James iii. 11). If “ a stout heart," "a wicked heart," “ a re- mankind, then, are constantly throwing bellious heart" (Psal. xii. 2; Ps. Ixiv. 6; poison into the fountain of life, how can they Prov. vii. 10; Ps. ci. 4, 5; Ps. Ixxvi. 5; reasonably look for any other than bitter and Isa. ix. 9; Prov. xxvi. 23; Jer. v. 23). unwholesome streams? If the heart be not
The heart, indeed, may be considered as kept as a sacred fountain, it will be liable to the storehouse of all moral evils, where va- be disturbed by a thousand intruders.
66 Let no
The heart may be considered in another and the devil-will be constantly enticing our view—as the main-spring of all our actions; affections after them, and engaging our hearts and, as such, it ought to be kept with all in their service. Unless we“ keep our hearts diligence. If the main-spring of this wonder with all diligence," the fascinating pleasures ful machine of ours be not kept in due order, of time will ensnare us, and the deceitful lusts how can we expect our inferior faculties to of the flesh will lead us captive before we move in a proper manner? When the heart are aware of any danger. is not directed aright, and is not influenced If a man allows himself to be dazzled by by the pure love of God and of all goodness, the perishing objects around him, and suffers we shall see nothing but confusion and irre- his heart to run after its covetousness or any gularity in all those faculties which depend forbidden enjoyments, he may eventually be upon it. One passion and affection will jar led to the utmost verge of impiety and prowith another; and every thing will go wrong, faneness. How frequently have the wisest as being out of its place, and not duly ba- and best of men been overcome by the vanilanced. If our reason be buried in sensuality ties and temptations which abound in the and worldly lusts, the issues or ways of life world, when they have neglected the keeping will be erroneous and extravagant. When of their own hearts, and have not duly rethe heart of any man is enslaved by evil strained its irregular motions and desires ! desires, he must continue a stranger to peace By what means were our first parents allured and serenity of mind. Whoever gives up from their duty, and persuaded to transgress himself to the dominion of impure imagina- the divine commandment? They suffered tions and inordinate wishes, and thus becomes their affections to be captivated by a sight of laden with iniquities, he must not blame the the prohibited fruit, and by a false represenorder of things—he must not say that he is tation of the advantages which would'spring compelled to act in a foolish and wicked from disobeying the voice of their gracious manner :
man say, when he is Creator. Solomon himself also was inattentempted, I am tempted of God; for God tive to the duty enjoined in the text, when he cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth suffered his foreign wives to entice him into he any man. But every man is tempted, idolatry, and openly to violate the laws of when he is drawn away of his own lust, and Jehovah, his father's God. enticed. Then, when lust hath conceived, it We find, indeed, that there is too close a bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, connection between our hearts and the things bringeth forth death” (James i. 13-15). which are in the world : we are too apt to be
As the heart is by nature treacherous and inflamed by the pleasures of sin, which are deceitful, we ought to watch over its motions only for a season ; and there are many objects with the greatest care and solicitude. We around us, which are very congenial to our must regard it as the seat of desire and affec- fallen nature. Many persons are deluded into tion, and should always exercise much pru- an opinion that their pursuits are lawful and dence and vigilance; for, if we follow every innocent, because their hearts are at ease, and inclination as it springs up in our hearts, we because they are merely gratifying their natucannot tell whither we may be carried. An ral propensities. In this manner they are freenemy within the citadel will prove more de- quently kept in bondage, as the willing slaves structive than all the assailants who attack of sin, and under the influence of the powers the outer works. Solomon says, in another of darkness. There are great numbers who place: “ He that trusteth in his own heart is conceive that they may allow their imaginaa fool; but whoso walketh wisely shall be tions and thoughts to rove after any object, delivered” (Prov. xxviii. 26).
without restraint, and that for these musings In the next place, we ought to watch over and impure desires they shall never be called our own heart, and should keep it with to a severe account. They forget that God seeth all diligence,” because we are surrounded the heart, and will bring every secret thought by innumerable temptations. The human into judgment; that the thoughts of the heart is very prone to that which is evil, and wicked are an abomination to the Lord,” and is easily allured by earthly and sensual en- that even “ the thought of foolishness is sin.” joyments. If the heart be not kept in a pro- Let us consider, per manner, it will constantly be attracted by II. How the heart may be kept in the most ihe allurements of sin, and will easily be car- secure and effectual manner
Solomon says, ried away by trifling vanities. The imagi- “ Keep thy heart with all diligence,” implying nation will paint distant and forbidden plea- that this is a difficult work, and that the dansures in brilliant colours, and the affections gers are great if it be neglected. will be placed on things below: the power- Keep thy heart, then, with all circumspectul enemies of our peace-the world, the flesh, i tion and care. Consider this as a most valu
able treasure, the despoiling of which can by exercising much self-denial and fervent never be compensated by any other advan- prayer. No man can keep his heart in proper tage. The capital of a great kingdom ought order, if he remains a stranger to himself
, and to be guarded with the utmost vigilance. Such is unacquainted with his own leading propenis the heart in the wonderful system of our sities and peculiar disposition. It was with earthly frame. The word translated “keep", or this view that David prayed thus : Search guard, is also frequently used with relation to me, O God, and know my heart : try me, and fortified places, such as castles and cities know my thoughts ; and see if there be any (733). The heart is the centre of motion, and way of wickedness in me, and lead me in the the fountain of life in the body, as to its phy- way everlasting.” And again: “Let the sical power: the heart, considered in a moral words of my mouth, and the meditation of view, is the centre of all the imaginations and my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, desires in the soul. We know that an injury my strength and my redeemer” (Ps. cxxxix. or wound in the material heart may be of fatal 23, 24 ; xix. 14). When we properly know consequence to the whole system.
the plague of our own heart (1 Kings väi. Keep thy heart, therefore, with all diligence 38), the weakness and depravity of our nature, from the violent and repeated assaults of thy we shall be ready to say also, “Create in me a subtil enemies. Keep at a distance from the clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit dangerous company of the ungodly, and from within me:” “Behold, thou requirest truth the polluted scenes in which they delight to in the inward parts ; and in the hidden part dwell. How can those persons hope to escape thou shalt make me to know wisdom” (Ps. li. uninjured by the contagion of vice and wicked- 6,10). bess, who run into all excess of riot with the We must seek to “be renewed in the spirit men of this world? While “ he that walketh of our minds, and must put on the new man, with wise men shall be wise,” we are assured which after God is created in righteousness and by experience, as well as by the voice of in- true holiness” (Eph. iv. 23, 24). We cannot spiration, that “a companion of fools shall be effectually keep our hearts by our own wisdom destroyed” (Prov. xii. 20).
and strength ; for, if we trust in our own That which men highly prize they usually powers, we shall certainly fall. We must guard and keep with the greatest caution. pray for effectual grace from above, to change But what possession is so important and valu- and renew our hearts, and to form them after able as that of “a pure heart and a good con- the image and likeness of God. So long as a science”? When evil thoughts, therefore, man continues in a carnal state, his heart and spring up in our minds, let us endeavour in- affections will be entirely occupied by earthly stantly to check them. If we are tempted to things. But the grace and Spirit of Christ are look upon any sin with pleasure and delight, promised, in order to deliver us from all iniwe shall be in great danger, and shall soon be quity, to “purify our hearts by faith” (Acts overcome by our insidious enemies, if we cease xv. 9), and to keep them in the fear and love to be vigilant, and to "watch and pray” of God, our heavenly Father. We must com(Matt. xxvi. 41). We must consider well what mit our bodies and souls into his hands, by is the leading propensity of our minds ; for daily and fervent prayer, that we may “be every man has some besetting sin or passion, kept by the power of God through faith unto to which he is by nature more especially ad- the salvation which is to be revealed in the last dicted. Being sensible of our own great in- time” (1 Pet. i. 5). We must seek “the firmities, we ought to watch over them with shield of faith,” and “the breast-plate of the utmost circumspection and the most vigi- righteousness” (Ephes. vi. 16, 17), that our
Our spiritual enemies will not fail hearts may be defended from all the fiery to direct their assaults to that point where arrows of our spiritual adversaries. there is the greatest probability of succeeding As the heart is the fountain whence all the in their object, and of gaining a victory. Let issues of life proceed, we must carefully watch us not, then, continue asleep in carnal secu- over its motions, and must guard against rity and thoughtless ease ; but let us “ watch every thing of a defiling and debasing nature. and be sober, and carefully guard every avenue If we consider the heart as the seat of all of our hearts against the intrusion of evil our thoughts and desires, we should pray that thoughts and polluting imaginations. It was it may be " directed into the love of God," and the condemnation of those who lived before the may be moved at all times by the purest prinflood that “every imagination of the thoughts ciples. If we are sincere in these endeavours
, of their hearts was only evil continually” (Gen. we shall carefully study the word of God, and vi. 5); in consequence of which the earth was shall treasure it up in our hearts, that we may universally filled with violence and corruption. never sin against him” (Ps. cxix. 11), but
Again : “Keep thy heart with all diligence,” | may always * think on those things which are
good”, and always pray for grace, to enable us
THE PRISONER'S FRIEND". to carry them into effect.”
We shall be able by this rule to decide, with some degree of accuracy, what is our own state in the sight of God. If any man is careless because it affords the means of aiding the needy.”—Pascal.
"I love poverty because Christ loved it. I love property about the motions of his own heart; if he gives free scope to every corrupt imagination as it SARAH MARTIN, of Yarmouth, born in June rises within him ; if the inward fountain of his 1791, was the daughter of a village tradesman. heart is constantly sending forth bitter and Losing both parents at an unusually early age, polluted streams; he may be fully assured that
she was brought up under the care of a widowed
grandmother-a sincere and lowly Christian. he is still “ carnal,” and altogether unfit for
Far from sharing her aged relative's views, the kingdom of God. He maintains no serious the orphan early evinced a perfect loathing for conflict against his evil propensities : he never religion and every obiect connected with it. The bewails his own weakness and depravity ; but bible she hated, would not remain where it was his heart is completely under the dominion of read; and two copies of the holy scriptures which anger, or malice, or bitterness, or wrath, or
had belonged to her mother, she hid, in order envy, or pride, or foolishness, or impurity, or her of God.
that no object which met her eye might remind covetousness, or some ungovernable passion. These perverted feelings swayed her till nine
If any of you, my brethren, are in this state, teen, when happily her views underwent a deyou should be stirred up and exhorted to seek cided and enduring change. Thenceforth her a total renovation of your nature, that your daily, and paranıount desire was how she could hearts may be the seat of holiness and purity, best be useful to others, and speed upon this earth
the cause of God. not of pollution and disorder. Yet humble and pious Christians have no thoughts often reverted to the condition of its
Frequently passing the gaol at Yarmouth, her occasion to be discouraged. Some of you, wretched inmates ; to their varied offences ; to mny brethren, are sorrowing perhaps, because their exclusion from society, whose rights they your heart is still hard, and too ready to en- had violated; to their want of scriptural instructertain impure and sinful thoughts. You are
tion-for at that time there was no divine worgreatly burdened with doubts and fears ; and ship in the prison on the Lord's day, nor any you cannot always “ assure your hearts before respect paid to it—and also to their need of scripGod.” But did not the apostle Paul feel some- happy circumstances.
tural consolation, which alone could meet their unthing of this conflict, when he exclaimed, under After deep deliberation she resolved to make a deep sense of his own guilt and depravity, the gaol the point to which her instructions, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver prayers, and energies should be mainly directed, me from the body of this death ?” (Rom. vii. and in August 1819 commenced her scriptural 24). What is the prevailing disposition of readings at the prison, which, down to April 1841 your hearts? Do you desire to be “ holy as
-two and twenty years—she unceasingly carried God is holy?” to resemble your divine Re- acknowledgment, or reward.
on, without the slightest remuneration, pecuniary deemer, and actively to glorify him with all For the first few months she merely made a your powers? If so, be not cast down, but short visit every sabbath to read the scriptures carefully guard against the first risings of evil to the prisoners; but soon finding that mere sabthoughts, and “ keep your heart with all dili- bath instruction was insufficient for the objects by the grace of God, that you may prisoners in reading and writing, this self-denying
she had in view, and determining to instruct the happily enjoy inward freedom, and be always woman resolutely gave up one day in the week ready to every good word and work.
from her business she was a dress-maker-in We have reason to believe that many foolish, order that she might have greater facilities for her blasphemous, and impure thoughts and imagi- work of consolation and reformation. nations are injected into our minds by our
How it was carried out and blest will appear spiritual adversaries. But, so long as we truly from the parliamentary reports of captain W. 1. " abhor these vain thoughts" and evil imagi. Williams, prison inspector. In his second report, nations, we may humbly trust that they shall p. 69, the following entry occurs :
“ MORAL AND RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION.not materially hurt us. These have been the The corporation provide nothing for the instrucburden of the children of God in every age of tion of the prisoners. The hon. and rev. Mr. the world. Let us then carefully endeavour to Pellew, perpetual curate of St. Nicholas, receives have every
evil propensity removed from our a salary of £40 per annum, as chaplain to the hearts, and “that every thought may be corporation ; which, however, has no relation to brought into subjection to the obedience of perform one service on a Sunday. With respect
the prison, where he volunteers his attendance to Christ (2 Cor. x. 5): “ Blessed are the pure to this branch of my inquiry the particulars are of in heart; for they shall see God” (Matt. v. 8).
* From “The Closing Scene.” London: Longmans, 1848 We insert one more extract from a book we have heretofore recommended.-E».