« PreviousContinue »
from us ; therefore, he rejects not the former from him. 1ị. vine Mercy, flowing to sinners by Jesus Christ, is at once the fountain of blessings already received, and the foundation of our hope for blessings yet in reserve. Blessed be God on this account! Prayer heard and answered, obliges us to be thankful. But is the reader a stranger to the answer of prayer ? Has he no solid evidence that God has attended to his prayer? It is time to enquire into the cause. Ask yourself, Is there no iniquity regarded in my heart ? -- is there no secret evil indulged? - is there no beloved sin, which I am unwilling to Sacrifice ? God forbid that I should deceive iny own soul! While God has engaged to regard the prayer of the destitute *, and to hear the cry of the humble q, all his perfections and his government demand that the prayer of Iniquity and Hypocrisy be rejected. “ Search me, o God, and know my heart; try me, and know iny thoughts. See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting S. ”
ERIPhos. * Ps. cii. 17. + Ps. ix. 12. Ps. cxxxix. 23, 24.
THOUGHTS ON THE MOST ELIGIBLE MODE
OF COLLECTING MONEY
The spread of the glorious gospel of God our Saviour, must be attended with the erection of buildings, where the peaceful and powerful doctrines of grace may be proclaimed, the statutes and commandments of the sovereign Redeemer enforced, — and his appointed ordinances celebrated. Nor is it likely that the stated ministry of the gospel would be continued in many places without the accommodation afforded by such erections.
In new places the truth is not generally received by many rich or noble, but by those in the lower classes of society; and who are hereby made “rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom of God." Unaided by the liberality of the friends of Christ in other places, such would seldom be able to build a house for the name of God; as the attempt must be followed by an incumbrance which would prove a inill-stone round the neck of their future endeavours. Thus circumstanced, applications for pecuniary help 10 trading, populons, and opulent towns, become unavoidable and desirable, and should be encouraged by every consistent follower of our Lord Jesus Christ. True Christianity is not a private, but a public and common cause. The church at large is like a community of bees. Many infant societies are like single bees, which, however industrious, can do little alone;- but what great effects follow from cordial co-operation and general zeal !
Formal covetous professors may frown upon, discourage, and sometimes with contempt and incivility, the servants of God, engaged in the good, but difficult and humbling work, of soliciting the offerings of the rich for the service of the sanctuary. Applications of this kind are too frequent, or too urgent, for them to pay attention to any; or, in order to furnish an answer, which precludes all remonstrances of conscience in themselves, or reasoning froin others, they have religiously vowed to do no more for brick and mortar. Well, indeed, it is for the church that her Redeemer has the hearts and hands of all under his controul; and that he will carry on his cause, and promote his own glory in the world, not only without the assistance, but in spite of all the unkindness of such inconsistent and equivocal friends as these.
It may, indeed, be justly questioned, how far the present mode of making applications, is not liable to many strong ubjections. Ministers are frequently sent forth to strange
and distant places at hazard. On their arrival, they find the ground pre-occupied by another, on the same errand; or, on account of circumstances, the resident iivisters cannot innediately recommend the case, without incurring the charge of imprudence among their own people. Thus, some unforesee discouragement arising, they feel embarrassed how to act. They must either return home, under every expence incurred, without accomplishing their object at all; or, breaking through every obstruction, and crucifying every feeling, be content with not more than a fourth of the sun which a well-timed and well-managed application would have produced. The several sums procured being small, a wider range of places and a much longer continuance from home become necessary. The evils resulting to the flock in the mean time may be neither few nor small. The enemy, perhaps, takes this opportunity of casting in his tares among the wheat, dissentions are fomented; and while the minister is abroad toiling to rear 2 temple made with hands, the edification of souls is retarded, and it may be a foundation laid for his eventual removal from this once promising scene of labours.
To remedy these inconveniences, some have proposed, that congregations should join to establish a kind of national fund, from which assistance might be afforded. This plan, though “in some respects desirable, appears liable to several weighty objections. "It may be justly questioned, whether subscriptions .for an indefinite object would exceed one-tenth of the sum annually raised on the present plan, detective as it is. Many personal applications, especially in neighbouring places, would - still be made. Nor would it be possible that one committee, wherever established, could give general satisfaction, in a pica
cuniary concern, involving so many special and local cir
Taking it for granted, that personal applications are, on the whole, inost eligible, because most efficient; and that, generally, ministers are more likely to succeed in this business than others,-it is submitted, That congregations in populous towns, and those united by friendly associations in the vicinity, should concur in some plan among theinselves, -agree upon the number of cases it will be proper to admit in the year, – appoint a Committee to receive and examine cases,
to select the most urgent and deserving in rotation, - to correspond with such congregations as apply for aid; informing then when to make application by their minister, or some other authorized person, recommend the case to the people, introducing and generously assisting in the needed contribution. Were this inode adopted, cases would be examined before adınitted ; and people would, of course, give with the greater confidence of doing good. Ministers would have no fruitless journies, their travelling expences would be lessened, and their painful feelings much relieved ; and, what is of tar greater consequence still, as most of their excursions might be perionined in the course of a week, there would be an important saving of invaluable time. Sheffield.
A SUPPOSED DIALOGUE OF THE BLESSED.
« Tliat my
RACHEL AND JACOB. Rachel. I rejoice; O Jacob, at thy arrival in these realms of bliss, itter a tedious pilgrimage of 147 years. Now thy toils and troubles aie ended!
Jacob. O Rachel, whuin I once loved with an atlection too inordinate, I receive thy congratulatins with the purest love; and join thee in Blessing the name of Jehovah, who hath brought all my trials to so happy än sile. Seventeen years ago, when I first went down to Egypt, and was introduced to Pharaoh, by thy son Joseph, I told him, day., compared with those of my fathers, had been few and evil; but though my latter days have been far inore peaceful than the former, and still have not equalled those of my father, nor of my grandfather, yet I am well contented that they are finished; and I now see abundant reason to be thankful for the troubles of iny former life, as well as for the com. forts of my latter years.
Ra. Though the angelic messengers, who are perpetually employed in visiting the lower world, and have more concern in the aftairs of them who are heirs of salvation than I once imagined. have given me much information respecting the events which have befallen our family, since I left thee in the way to Ephratah; yet I should like to converse with thee concerning the gracious dealings of the Lord with thyself and thy children.
Ja. Verily, Jehovah is a God glorious in holiness, ver er ble in praises, a God doing wonders ! Repeatedly did my desponding heart suggest XII.
what once my lips uttered in a paroxysm of grief :-"All these things are against me!". But, even before I entered this world of perfect lighi, I began to perceive that God had done all things well; and now, on reviewing all the way that he led ine, I contemplate his wisdom, goodness, and truth, and am #lled with unutterable delight!
Ra. Doubtless, thou hast now experienced the same alteration with myself, as to the partiality of our affection towards our son Joseph. Whatever mixture of selfishness once attended my regard for him, it is over; and I now could rejoice as much in hearing of the piery of my sister's children, or even of the children of Zilpah, as of my own. But I feel a high degree of complacency in that excellent saint; and admire the wonderful providence of God, which has made him the preserver of his father's house; and, consequently, as the Messiah shall descend from thy race, he has been, in a higher sense than'ever the King of Egypt imagined, the Saviour of the world.
Ja. It was revealed to me by the Holy Spirit, on my dying-bed, that he to whom that title shall properly belong, will descend from Judah. However, though Joseph will not be his ancestor, yet he has, in many things, proved an entinent type of the Messiah ; and has, indeed, been the instrument of preserving the holy seed.
Ra. Our God is wonderful in counsel, and mighty to execute his welt ordered plans; but nothing grieved me so much, in the latter part of my lite, as to see how little our family appeared to be holiness to the Lord. The polygamy into which you were drawn by my father's artifice, and which was increased by my foolish envy and jealousy, appeared to be one great cause of injury to your children.
Ja. Doubtless, it was a preposterous self-love which could lead you te think the children of Bilhah would be more yours, and, as it were, nearer a-kin to you, than those of your own sister. That unhappy woman, since your death, has proved herself to have been very unworthy of the partie ality which you manifested towards her. By her compliance with the impetuous passions of Reuben, my first-born, she was the instrument of severely correcting ine for complying with your wayward advice, which caused ine to deviate still farther from the original appointinent of divine wisdom, tor securing domestic comfort and family order.
Ra. I sorely repented of my folly before I left the world of imperfec. tion; and though all painful sensations are now over, yer my humility will be deepened for ever, by a reflection on former errors and sins. I rejoice greatly to learn, that God has over-ruied the events, in which my eldest son has had so remarkable a share, to bring most of his brethren to know the God of their fathers.
Ja. Certainly, Josephi conducted himself towards them with singular wisdom; and he, from whom every good and perfect gift descendeth, and who put it into his heart, seems greatly to liave blessed these surprizing transactions for their good. Even Simeon, the most hard-learted and revengeful of them all, who was the first contriver of the disgracetul and execrable massacre at Shechem, which dishonoured our family among the inhabitants of Canaan, seems to have been softened by the sailitary in fluences of the Divine Spirit, while Joseph detained him a prisoner in Egypt; and Levi, who was carly as bad, is become eminent for the reverence wherewith he venerates the Lord, and stands in uw i his name *
Ra. I hear that Judah's family troubles have been greatly sanctified to him ; and that he is become a very different man to what he was when he was so intimate with Hirah, the Adulamite.
Ja. Truie; I have had great comfort in him for a long time; and the affection he discovered tor me and for his brother Benjamin, when he Offered hiniself for a slave in luis stead, endeared him to me exceedingla
• Mal. 11. 5. 6.
Joseph has highly esteemed him ever since, and all his brethren respect and praise him.
Ra. I understand, that it was he who proposed their selling Joseph to the Ishmaelites, instead of shedding his blood.
Ja. Yes; but Reuben had first interposed in his favour, who per.suaded them to let him down into a dry pit; not without a design of delivering him from them, and bringing hím safely.hone.
Ra. Yet, 1 suspect he was more anxious to have thus made his peace with you, after his criminal conduct with Bilhah, than he was to preserve Joseph from destruction.
Ja. That seems to have been the case. He was, however, more the slave of unruly affections than of malignant passions; and though he was the first born, yet he was not disposed to indulge such envy and jealousy towards Joseph as most of his brethren.
Rá, Well, God'so ordered it, that Reuben being out of the way, Judah's plan effectually defeated his intention of rescuing him, as well as the design of Simeon and Levi 10 put him to death.
Ja. Yes; and my inordinate affection, which I not only expressed too imprudently, but which I now see had a degree of idolatrous excess, was severely corrected, — while all these trials.were sanctified to Joseph hiniself, to prepare him for his subsequent exaltation.
Ra. And what good consequences ultimately resulted.to all Egypt, and the neighbouring countries, but especially to your own family, not only in their temporal preservation, but in their spiritual benefit!
Ja. Well might Joseph tell his brethren, that what they meant for evil, God intended for good. And who can calculate the advantages that shall result to future generations, from the record of these astonishi. ing events !
Ra. Undoubtedly, it shall encourage myriads of believers to trust in the divine wisdom and faithfulness,
Ja. Yet, while on earth, I sometimes felt an anxiety bordering on distrust, respecting ahe sojourning of my family in Egypt.
Ra. But you could not forget how Jehovah appeared tw you at Beer. sheba, saying, “ Fear not to go down into Egypt, for I will surely bring thee up; and Joseph shall put his hand on thine eyes.”
Ja. Verily, I never could forget that coudescending display of the divine glory. But il was grieved to see how the Egyptians are addici.d 20 idolatry, and Itow little influence Joseplrs example has had to excite them to enquire after the living and true God.
Ra. Is not Joseph still in great favour with Plaraal, and with all the people of the land
ja. He is so ; but now the years of famine are almost forgotten, some of the Egyptians begin to complain of his having brought them into so entire a dependence on the king.
Ra. No prince ever acquired absolute authority iv so fair and equitable a way as Pharaoh; and I have not learned that he has abused his power.
Jan I say not that he has ; but I sometimes was ready to apprehend that my son was rather mistaken in his politics, and carriod his gravrude to luis benefactor too far. Such a measure of power is scarcely to be trusted in the hands of any man; and if a prince of a different stamp should succeed to the throne, may be easily misemployed.
Ra. Yes; and if that king should not ren ember the ubligationis of the crown to Josephi, it may be especially injurious to your descendants.
34. I well remember the prediction which Isaac told me had been given to his father, Abraham :
:-" That his seed should be strangers in a land not theirs, and should serve them, and be afflicted by them.
Ka. True; but you know the promise which followed, That nation also, whom they shall serve, will I judge, saith the Lord'; and after wards shall they come out with great substance.
Ja, I fully recollect it; and depend Npon.it. Indeed, my soul is now