« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
AN ORIGINAL LETTER
TO MR. T-S“My dear Brother,
6 I Am much concerned to hear of your present distress; but I hope you will soon experience a truly happy deliverance. I find you are fearful that you have committed the unpardonable sin :- if yon baci, depend upon it, you would not be at all concerned* about it. This is the insinuation of the enemy
of souls, who, for a while, is suffered to buffet you ; but, remember for your comfort, he is a conquered foe, and cannot go beyond his chain. I doubt not but you will shine brighter for being in the furnace of Afiction. In the mean time, do not entertain hard thoughts of God, nor write bitter things against yourself,your present distress is an argument of the Redeemer's love, “who scoutgeth every son whom he receiveth."
6 I trust, the Lord is now purifying your spirit, and purging away your dross. O may this aflliction have its perfect work! Jesus is emptying you from sin and self, that you may be filled with the fulness of his righteousness and salvation. Believe not the iusinuations of the enemy; but tell him, he was a liar and "a murderer from the beginning !" Go to the throne of grace, throw yourself at the feet of Immanuel, even if you have not a word to say; - resolve, if you perish, to perish at his feet, and you shall soon experience his love and tender mercy, and sweetly find, that
• He knows what sore temptations mean,
For he hath felt the same.” The bruised reed be will not break; and he will raise the smoking flax to a flame.
“ My beloved brother, accept these lines from him who bears you much upon his heart. O may God support you! - Jesus comfort you! My feeble prayers shall not be wantiug. I doubt not but you shall shortly find “ all joy and peace in believing. Let me again entreat you to throw yourself at the feet of Jesus; apply to him, not as an enemy, but as a kind Friend and tender Brother,
" That you may be enabled to view him in this amiable and endearing light, is the hearty prayer of your rcal friend and affectionate brother
in our joint Mediator, Epiphany, 1756.
No. II *
Let us examine the providence of God towards his church. He designs to display his sovereignty, holiness, grace, &c. and to convince men that the atonement of Christ and the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit are absolutely necessary, in order to salvation.
Doubtless, the angels were astonished at Satan's success against our first parents ; and more so at the promise that was given them, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head.
The almost universal apostacy before the flood, displayed the depravity of human nature ; and the deluge demonstrated thc awful justice of God. The apostacy after the flood, proved that judgments cannot reclaim, much less convert, sinners. As God did not intend a second destruction of all mankind, he proceeded to call Abraham, that in him and his posterity the knowledge of the true God might be preserved. To render his
and power the more illustrious, he selected him out of a people who were violently addicted to idolatry; from which this Father of the Faithful does not appear to have been quite free.
Constant intercourse with idolaters is the ready way to become such. Wherefore, Gol commanded Abraham to forsake his country, and dwell in Canaan ; and for the same reason, fixed his settling there; commanding him to dwell in tents, which rendered his removal from one part of the country to another easy, and therefore frequent. The wisdom of this direction appears from the history of Lot, who fixed his residence in Sodom, where the morals of all his family were totally corrupted.
However, dwelling in tents would only do for the rude and early ages of the world, when population was comparatively small, and the number of the redeemed before Christ, would be limited to only a few individuals at a time. Moreover, the worshippers of the true God would be too few to prepare the Gentiles for receiving the gospel, which was a very principal end of the calling the Jews.
Abraham's posterity could not increase to a nation while they dwelt in Canaan. Some retreat must, therefore, be provided, where they might dwell safely, and multiply rapidly. Egypt was fixed upon for that purpose. In Egypt they were in danger of being incorporated with the Egyptians, and perverted to their idolatry. This was prevented by the barbarous treatment they received,
* For No. I, see our Magazine for August last. Tajs Paper was to have followed immediately; but has been mislaid.
To impress the Israelites with a dread of idolatry, the Canaanites were devoted to destruction ; and to hinder them from forming connexions with their neighbours, which might prove injurious to their religion, various laws were given, for the express purpose of separating them from all the other nations; and God never failed to punish them severely whenever they introduced the worship of strange gods, however patiently he might bear with their other provocations, that they might be faithful depositaries of the truth for the benefit of the world, though they appear sometimes to have derived but little benefit from it themselves.
The four great monarchies, by scattering the Jews over at least half the known world, served to inform the Heathen that an illustrious personage should be born, who would be a blessing to all mankind; and the translation of the Seriptures into Greek, which was almost a universal language, put them in possession of all the information concerning the Messiah that the Jews themselves had obtained. An expectation of the Messiah's appearance being thus excited, he was born in the fulness of time.
The destruction of Jerusalem, the judgments which have pursued the Jews ever since, and the calamities which overthrew the Roman Ein pire, shew as the danger of opposing Christ and persecuting his people.
The Roman Catholic and Mahometan apostacies demonstrate the necessity of the Violy Spirit's gency ; for the gospel itself, though clear and luminous as a sun-beam, will be eclipsed and extinguished it unsupported by his almighty power; and the very extensive apostacy, after Religion had flourished to an unexampled degree (which appears to be foretold in the 20th chapter of Revelatiops) will furnish the last and most convincing proof of it; and then the general judgment will disclose every secret, and rectify every seeming defect.
Redemption is an amazing subject! it exercises all the attributes of Deity at work! To atchieve it, the world was made; and all the wlicels of Providence move in subserviency to it. How much are we indebted to the Bible! The
intidel who scorns it, owes to it the little knowledge that he has. · Our forefathers were as barbarous as other Heathens; and we are indebted to the Bible for all the advantages we possess. Let us bind it to our hearts, and make it our chainber counsellor.'
Let us now examine the history of Joseph, which will convince us that God pays as much attention to the welfare of individual believers, as to that of the church; that he has closely linked the wellure of the church and of private Christians together; and that he exactly adapts a person for the work he designs liim to perform.
The timily of Jacoh must go down into Egypt, yet not be incorporated with the Egyptians, and baře a portion of land allotted them, capable of containing an immense multitude of persons; and Joseph must go down thither to execute the gracious intentions of God: his brethren were therefore permitted to sell him. If he had continued in Potiphar's family, he might in deed have been saved himself, yet could not have acted the important part which was allotted him. Such is the infirmity of human nature, that the amazing dignity and power to which he was suddenly elevated would have made him proud, and proved injurious to his piety, had he not been first severely disciplined in the school of Adversity. During his imprisonment in the dungeon, he acquired a large stock of true wisdom. The im prisonment, dreams, &c. of Pharaoh's butler and baker, were the means of delivering him from prison. Yet, had he been set at liberty merely by the butler's interest, he would have moved in an humble sphere, or risen to preferment by slow degrees. Pharaoh's dream, his interpretation of it, and the excellent advice which he gave, caused him to be looked up to as superior to the common race of men. The famine sent the Israelites to him; and he was now furnished with sufficient wisdom and power to dispose of them properly. We
e see that God makes use of the sins of men as well as of their virtues ; yet this does not excuse the sinner. He is punished for the sin he committed ; and God is glorified for bringing good out of it.
Let us learn to be satisfied with our condition. Amidst all the numberless and important affairs of Heaven and Earth, God pays particular attention to the meanest of his people! Every one is in the best place for getting good.
W. W. Wotton under Edge.
ON SEEING A REMARKABLE FUNERAL.
O Death, how rapid is thy course! – how resistless thine arm! Not a day, not an hour, passes in which thou art not brandishing thy destructive scythe, and mowing down hundreds of the human race ! and so quick is the succession in which they fall, that we can hardly finish the recital of one tale of woc ere another claims the sympathetic tear! How oft hast thou separated those who were united by the strongest, tenderest ties, and, as it were, borne off in cruel triumph one half of a wedded heart; while the other was left to mourn the dreadful breach, and consume, in disconsolate lamentation, its solitary hours ! This has been thy common practice; but, in the case before me, thou hast varied the scene, and presented us with a singular spectacle. Behold, those two sable hearses which, ia solemn and slow procession, follow close upon each other, they contain
the ashes of a neighbouring pair, who, like Saul and Jonathan, were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided. Having spent many years together in the conjugal relation, they were, nearly at the same time, confined to beds of languishing; and, after a short period, fell, within eight hours of each other, victims to the unerring dart of the universal conqueror; and now the same sepulchral rite awaits them ; and the same silent mansion, in the house appointed for all living,” has opened its doors to receive and to conceal their intermingling dust till the morning of the resurrection. What a numerous crowd of spectators are collected ! all are interested, all are affected : - silence reigns around; and even the manly eye can scarcely restrain the flood of sorrow which is impatient to gush forth ! I hear some enquiring into the probable reason of this inelancholy scene. “ Had they lived to an advanced age, and sunk together in the ruins of natural decay?" By no means : the elder of the two had not reached, by several years, his grand climacteric. “ Had, then, some pestilential disease visited the neighbourhood, or some contagious fever in. fected their habitation ?" No, nothing of this kind existed; nor does it appear that the physicians could ascertain the immediate causes of dissolution in either: all must be referred to the sovereign pleasure of the all-wise Disposer of events. To him too we must refer their final state ; nor do we presume to hazard a conjecture on the subject. To their own Master they stood or fell; and from his lips they have ere now received their irrevocable sentence of acquittal or condemnation. We would only
If they were the happy subjects of divine grace, and of that change of heart, without which Christ has declared, no man shall enter into his kingdom, how favoured, how enviable was their lot! To be excused from all the pangs which are felt by widowed hearts; and saved the bitter lingering death which, to borrow Dr. Young's beautiful thought, the survivor is left to taste, and together to enter on their final rest, To receive at the same moment their blood-bought crowns from their smiling Saviour, and hand in hand to fall prostrate at his feet, lost in wonder, love, and praise! If, on the contrary, they knew only the form of religion, while they remained strangers to its divine efficacy on their hearts, and lived as without God in the world, bow awful must it have been to be driven at once from all the comforts and elegancies that affluence could procure, and sink in sad association down to the regions of dark despair; there to be companions in misery, and, by mutual reproaches, add more poignant bitterness to the dreadful cup of woe!
But let not our reflections terminate here. With the final state of the deceased, we have indeed, comparatively, little concern; but there is another event which is of infinite importance to us,
we mein our own. The speałacle we have been contemplat