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friends that she had got a new husband, a new house, and begun a new life. At this time they are still living, and in decency and comfort.
Thus the Lord blesseth those who fear him, and often gives them, even here, an earnest of better things to come. Happy are they who, like this soldier, “hear the rod, and who hath appointed it;" and who flee unto the only “Rock of refuge,” Christ the Saviour, “whose blood cleanseth from sin,” who will give his Holy Spirit to “them that ask it," and who graciously encourages all who seek him.
FAVOURABLE EFFECTS OF TRACT DISTRIBUTION
IN HEXHAM. ONE of the persons lately employed in the weekly loan system states, that in commencing his district he noticed in particular one disorderly family, that generally presented a scene of confusion and bustle on a sabbath morning. He found them washing, brushing shoes, and pursuing othe ordinary secular employments, by which the holy sabbath is so much desecrated, especially by the poor, and whereby the repose and solemnity which ought to mark the recurrence of the sacred day are broken and hindered. The visitor felt called upon to administer reproof, but had not the requisite courage. He at length ventured, and with some degree of
On his next call, he observed one of the family employed as usual, who, on perceiving his approach, slunk away with conscious guilt. Subsequently he had reason to hope that these unnecessary, demoralizing practices on the Lord's day were discontinued, and the family brought into habits of order.
Now, unimportant as such matters may be in the opinion of some, it must be admitted that the change is for the better, and that such families are placed one step nearer to virtue and religion. One hinderance is removed from attendance on Divine ordinances, whilst such persons are so far prepared for hearing in the house of God and from the lips of the visitor, the more important truths that belong to their peace. It is thus that the pious and persevering distributor of tracts advances in his labour of love, until, from "small beginnings,” he declares unto his neighbours the whole counsels of God, the unsearchable riches of Christ; and ever going forth in the spirit of prayer, and entire dependence on Divine aid, many such shall find in the day of the Lord, that they have not laboured in vain, nor spent their time for nought.
The same distributor states some interesting particulars of the mother of a family having been awakened to a sense of the necessity of vital godliness, and of her having died in the enjoyment thereof, as the consequence of the Divine blessing on the operations of the Religious Tract Society of this place. We would say, “Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.”
PRAYER TO THE HOLY SPIRIT. THOSE words, “Awake, 0 north wind, and corne thou south, and blow upon my garden,” are thought to be a prayer to the Holy Spirit, for his saving and fructifying influences upon the graces of the faithful. The Holy Spirit is often, in scripture, compared to the wind, and particularly by Christ himself: * As the wind blows where it listeth, so is every one who is born of the Spirit.” He imparts his gifts and influences as he will. He seems to be addressed as the north wind, to blow upon the church, to blast her corruptions, and purify her members: for he is a
Spirit of judgment and of burning,” Isa. iv. 4; and as the south wind, to refresh, cherish, and invigorate her graces, that those graces which are the fruits of the Spirit might flow out in their pleasing and lively operations and exercises. If this be the sense of the cited scripture, it is a remarkable instance of prayer to the Holy Spirit, made by the whole body of the church. She invokes the Holy Spirit, saying, “Come, O Holy Spirit, and blow upon our hearts, that, by the love of God and our neighbour, a sweet odour may be sent forth.”
SEEK PEACE. OUR God is a God of peace. O watch then thy heart, that Satan's fire-balls, which, upon every occasion, he will be throwing in at thy window, take not hold of thy spirit to kindle any heat burning in thee against thy brother. If at any time thou seest the least smoke, or smellest the least scent of this fire in thy bosom, sleep not till thou hast quenched it. Be more careful to put out this fire in thy heart, when thou goest to bed, than that on thy hearth.
REV. I. NEWTON'S LETTERS TO REV. R. JOHNSON.
(Continued from p. 37.) THERE are some principles of scripture concerning the certainty of death, the uncertainty of life, the expectation of a future judgment, the impossibility of peace of mind without some good hope of acceptance with God, or of maintaining such hope without dependence upon an atonement, &c., which apply themselves to the very make and frame of the human mind: and these, when faithfully preached, in a spirit of meekness and love, by a person whose life and behaviour is uniformly consistent with his doctrine, will have an effect upon his hearers; and, when they do not produce conversion, will usually impress a testimony upon their hearts that the doctrine is true, and the man sincere : and though they have not honesty to confess this, and rather show mouths of contempt and anger, they cannot help feeling it. Therefore, be not afraid of any high looks; only pray for wisdom, gentleness, and patience to assure your fortitude, and in the Lord's time you shall see light arising out of darkness, mountains sinking into plains, and the desert beginning to rejoice and blossom like the rose. And though some of the convicts, in hopes of ingratiating themselves with you, may assume a religious mask, and thereby cause the way of truth to be evil spoken of, I trust there will be others whose real, evident, and undeniable change will vindicate the honour of your ministry, and in a great measure put to silence the ignorance of revilers.
In a word, your difficulties will probably be great, and your trials many. But if God be for you, none can be effectually against you: and most assuredly he will be for you if you are simply and wholly for him. If you are occasionally drawn to look too much to an arm of flesh, you will meet with disappointment. But if you mistake sometimes in judgment or practice, do not despond; you have a throne of grace, an Advocate with the Father. The Lord will graciously pardon what is amiss, and teach you to profit by your mistakes, and to derive strength from the experience of your own weakness. You have nothing to fear while your heart is upright in his service; when your spirit is overwhelmed within you, he knoweth your path; he knoweth the singularity of your situation, and your apparent disadvantages, from the want of
those ordinances and connexions which you cheerfully gave up for his sake, and he will provide accordingly. He himself will be your Counsellor, your Sun, your Shield, and, at length, your exceeding great reward. If he honours you as his instrument of sowing the seed of eternal life in that region of darkness to which he has sent you, the hour is coming when yon will thankfully acknowledge it, as an abundant compensation for all you may suffer in the attempt.
Supposing you might leave the Cape by or before the middle of November, my thoughts often followed you upon the mighty ocean you had to cross, eastward : and toward the end of February I hoped you were not far distant from Botany Bay. Whether my reckoning for you was right or not, I hope I may now consider you as safely arrived, and beginning to take root in that new and distant world. How distant from us! How new to you! You seem, to an eye of sense, like a banished man: but a believer in Jesus cannot properly be banished. In one sense, he has no home to be banished from; but in all places he is equally a stranger and a pilgrim upon the earth. In another sense, he is equally at home in every place, for he dwelleth in God, and God in him. Methinks I see you walking about, and surveying with thoughtful admiration a scene so entirely different from what you have ever beheld before; a land not only destitute of towns and villages, but even of a house. Neither fields nor roads, neither labourers nor travellers; no steeple towering above the trees, nor cheerful sound of church bells, but all dreary and silent around you. Who can tell what an alteration even you may live to see: and what greater alterations may take place in the course of another century? The face of Britain, except that perhaps it had more inhabitants, perhaps was not much more promising when Julius Cesar visited it. How little did he think what God had purposed to do upon this spot! How little can we conjecture what it may be his pleasure to do hereafter in New Holland, New Zealand, in the Friendly and Society Islands, and many others, which are yet unknown, in the Southern Ocean! What designs government may have in forming your settlement, I know not: I suppose, the extension of our commerce. But I trust the Lord designs to make their plan subservient to his gracious designs of spreading the light of his glorious gospel. It is this alone that gives any real importance to the plan, in my judgment: and in this you have the honour of being selected as the first instrument. When I think of this, I seem to forget the hardships and trials to which you are exposed. I am ready to address
you in the words of the angel to Mary, “Hail, thou that art highly favoured.”
I have received a letter from Mr. Van Lier, at last. I am very glad to hear you met with an agreeable acquaintance so seasonably. I hope the time will come when you will have christians, friends, and ministers, to converse with at Botany Bay.
I leave it with some of your correspondents to inform you of what is called news, except one article, which is not unsuitable for me to acquaint you with: the Rev. D. Brown is well, and well received and supported at Bengal; but, what is best of all, he seems to be of a right spirit, humble and zealous, and closely engaged in promoting the Lord's work. A plan is sent home, signed by him, and some gentlemen of consequence in the Company's service, the object of which is to procure missionaries for Bengal; and we are not without hopes of its being countenanced by the supreme powers, and carried into effect in due time. I hope the parable of the grain of mustard-seed will be fulfilled, both in the east and in the south. The beginning of God's work is usually small, but the latter end will greatly increase. We hope to be benefited by your prayers for us, though from the ends of the earth.
London, 13th May, 1788.
MODERN ROME. ON Christmas day, and for eight days after, what is called a Presepio is exhibited in almost every church, and sometimes in private houses at Rome. These vary, of course, in size and splendour, but they all represent the stable in Bethlehem where our Saviour was born. He is generally lying on the ground, or on the virgin's knee, betwixt an ox and an ass ; for such is the popish story relative to the place of his birth, and which they derive, I am told, from a passage in the xiith chapter of the prophecies of Habakkuk, a chapter which have not yet been able to find in my bible.
Besides the figures of our Saviour, and the ox and the ass, we have also those of the virgin and St. Joseph, and several angels, sometimes three kings of the east presenting offerings.
It is quite a business to go from church to church to visit these Presepios and admire their decorations. Nothing can be more absurd than to see the three kings in their oriental costumes, and the virgin Mary in a sky-blue silk gown spangled with silver; but the Romans, and especially the country peasantry, are often in raptures at the splendour of the sight.
On the Capitoline Hill, and, as some antiquaries think, on the precise spot once occupied by the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, stands the church of the Ara Čeli. This church contains the most precious image in Rome, known by the name of the Bambino dell' Ara Celi. It is a figure of our Saviour, about eighteen inches high, and adorned with jewels,