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to restore a me:nber of the Lord Jesus, considering that we ourselves are in the flesh, and in danger from templation. Do not publish your brother's fault; but cover it, it possible. Great grace, wisdom, and teuderness are necessary in attempt ing the recovery of fallen brethren ; for they are frequentiy in a bad spirit, and very much indisposed to receive the salutary counsel and reprooi they so deeply need. We should persevere in our attempts to bring them back to Christ, and to save thein, even in spite of the seires. We should bear a decided testimony against the sin, but not uiterly discard the sinner. If his brethren wuru their backs upou bini, lie may fall into despair* ; or go on fiom bad to worse, till he apostatize from the very profession of Christianity itseltAt ali events, if every other means of attempting his recovery bi inaccessible or liopeless, you can pray for him; and this you are bound
Were the duties of Christians toward each other properly performed, the attention of ihe world would be fixed upon them, - iheir aciniration excited, -- and they would exclam, with the leathen of old (an exclamation, how ,honour:ile 19 the gospel !) See how these Christiaus love one anotier!” Pirmingham.
W.W, * 2 Cor. ii. 7, 8.
TO A FRIEND IN DISTRESS.
I'an pleased to think you are no worse than you was when I left London. I hope you are better on the whole; better in bodily health, and better in the state of your inind. I believe it does not grieve you I ain no worse. Míy friends, who saw me lately, are better able to form an impartial opinion about the state of my health than I am. There is no thing bas come in my way to engage my affections to Bristol, except the reverence I wish to have for every mean of divine appointment for bestowing health ; and, in that view, I came to drink the waters here; and, in that view, I use them, from a conviction of being in the way of my duty. Religious companions are but rare in any place. It has not been my happiness to get acquainted with any such in this place, witla whom I could enjoy the pleasure of much friendly intercourse. However, the God of all grace is onnipresent'; - Christ is nigh us in the word of promise ; - and, blessed be God, there is no bar in the way of an access to the infinite fulness of the one Mediator between God and man! Alas! that is
improve his fulness so little ! It never entered into our thoughts to shut up the meridian beams of the sun in a room, to supply us with light, when darkness should return to cover the face of the earth; or, if the foolish attempt should be made, it would only demonstrate the egregious folly of the person who should make it. But how often have we vainly imagined that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, might be, as it were, shut up and retained in our minds, without a constant improvement of him, as exhibited unto us in the free and faithful promises! A person, you know, may make all midnight darkness to hinself at noon-day, by either shutting his eyes, or retiring into some subterraneous cave, where the cheering rays of the sun do not penetrate. do many Christians create a darkness of dixcouragement to themselves, by shutting their eyes and ears against the merciful and comfortable truths of the gospel of their salvation, and by retiring into dark sensible frames. The person who would wish to enjoy most of the light and warnih of the natural sun, must sit in his rays, and, like the sun-flower, follow his motion through the day. In like manner, the soul that wishes to be enlightened and warmed by the Sun or Righteousness, must be chiefly conversant with the word of Christ; and must cleave to it, even when sense, feeling, and providence conspire to damp the spirits and destroy hope. The kingdom sutlereth violence, and the violent take it by force. Those who Walk by faith, are often obliged to do violence to their present sense and feelings; and to encourage themselves in the Lord, even when he is hiding his face or frowning; nay, perhaps sharply correcting them. To be so esercised in these circumstances is no presumption ; for the Lord has made it our bounden duty to be strong, and very courageous;
to be strong in the grace that is in Chrisi Jesus; and to endure hardiness, as good soldiers of Jesus Ciirist, through whose loving us, we shall be more than conquerors 'over all enemies within and without. It is too manifest a proof of our wicked and deceitrul hearts, as well as of Satan, when we give encouragernent to melancholy and desponding thoughts. It is the will of the Lord that we should be joyful as well as holy. The everlasting and strong consolation, wherein our souls should rejoice, is in Christ Jesus. Ask a triumphant Christian what makes him joyful,- he will, without hesitation, answer, that he is as complete in Christ for comfort as for righteousness. Yes, the ủnsearchable riches of Christ are the undiininishable source of his exulting joy! Thither let us repair, and there let us rest. The suitableness of Christ to every case, and his ability to do above all we can ask or can think, together with bis willingness and readiness to supply all our needs, are inexhaustible treasures. Oh, that the Holy Ghost would enable us to live in the faith of these things! then we would live like Christians, in point of comfort and in respect of boliness!
I hope your sister continues to recover. Great reason has she to write Ebenezer on the kind providence; and to say, “ Hitherto has the Lord helped ;” and good cause has she to trust him who has been her help in time of need. May ber heart be moulded into a corresponding harmony with the word and providence of God! - The harvest in England is mostly over, and got well in ; but how inelancholy and just is the prophet's complaint, “ The summer is past and the harvest is ended, and we are not saved * !" Yet, if we look forward to the last verse, we will find a remedy. “Jy there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?" You wish for something to think on: permit me to call your attention to Heb. viii. 10-19; and while you meditate on them, inay you firmly believe and appropriate every article of that everlasting cove. Dant! May you take hold of it, and find it to be all your sale tation !
I remain, with kind salutations,
my dear friend,
your soul's affectionate wellwisher, Hot Wells, Bristol.
ARCH. HALL, • Jer. viii. 20.
ON THE KNOWLEDGE THAT SPIRITS MAY HAVE
or OCCURRENCES IN THIS WORLD.
Few persons have ever lost a beloved relative without feels ing some anxiety on the above subject. The gospel, which brings life and immortality to light, assures us, that those we lese in this world, exist in another state; and if they die in the Lord, we kuow that it is a state of knowledge, boliness, and true happiness. But on these occasions we cannot help asking ourselves, Aic they conscious of our state? Do they know our sorrows, or witness our joys! Who, in like circum. stances, tas not been reacly to say with the author or the Task, in one of the most admired of his charming productions,
“My mother, when I learn'd that thou wast dead,
Say, wast thou conscious of the tear. I shed a
Wretch even then, life's journey just begun ?" It seems highly probable, separate spirits may know what is passing in this world, from what the Scriptures teach us concerning angels who appear to possess this knowledge, both fallen and elect: hence the cautions against the dangers to be apprehended from the former; and the promises of benefits
508 from the latter, who are said to be “ininistering spirits, sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation *.” We have many instances of good angels being employed on particular occasions. Our Lord seems to assent to the general notion prevailing among the Jews, that every person had his guardian spirit, when he says of intants, “ Their angels do always behold the face of iny Father +."
It is probable that they are present in our worshipping assemblies, from 1 Cor. xi. 10. We are told, that there is joy in Heaven amongst the angels, over one sinner that repenteth; and that the progress of divine truth, in the world, is an object which they desire to look into I. From these and other passages which inight be produced, it is evident that there is nothing in the nature of a spirit which prevents it from discerning carnal and sensible objects; and that these ministering spirits are acquainted with the transactions passing on earth. Now, if angels have this knowledge, is it not highly probable that saints have it likewise? Have they not the same desire to behold the manifold wisdom of God? Have they not the same interest, nay, a greater, in the concerns of the church on earth? Can we suppose angels praise God with renewed fervour at every fresh triumph of divine grace over, a son of fallen Adam, and imagine that glorified saints, wlio are of the same kindred, through iguorance of the event, are excluded from the song ?
Various passages seein to imply, if not positively assert, that the saints in Heaven are no strangers to what is passing on earth s. The apostle Paul, after mentioning the worthies enumerated in the preceding chapter, says, “ Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of wit. nesses,” &c. The allusion is evidently to the gaines of the Greeks. Christians are represented as running a race; and are exhorted, like the ancient racers, to lay aside every weight; whilst those characters, who had before been mentioned, are described as surrounding them as spectators of their faith and patience. Having finished their course, they look with interest on the struggles and difficulties of those who are in the situation which they once filled. The account given by our Lord, of the concern felt by the rich man in Hell, for his profligate brethren on carth, as well as the answer of Abraham to his request for cold water (“ Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things," &c.) implies, that both Abraham and Dives, cho' the one was in Heaven and the other in Hell, were not une acquainted with occurrences in the world they had once inhabited. Agreeably to this sentiment, we find the saints in glory
* Heb. i. 14. Ps. xci, 11, 12. I Heb. xii, 1.
t Mat, xviii. 10.
I 1 Pet. i. la.
rejoicing over the fall of Antichrist, and praising God for the accomplishment of the divine predictions * In Rev. vi. 10, the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, are Tepresented as saying,“ How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood,” &c. as if they were conscious that the enemies of the church were not yet punished, and, from the zeal they felt for the honour of God, were looking with impatience for the execution of the divine vengeance. Perhaps, “ the glorified spirits of just men made perteci,” may, like the angels, be employed in carrying on the purposes of God in the world. It is said of them," His servants shall serve hin t.” Possibly, as ministering spirits, they may minister to the heirs of salvation ; and watch over the interests of those who, on earth, were dear to them, either by the ties of nature or revgion. One of them was employeri 10 converse with the apostle John, and explain to him the wond derful things he saw in vision ş.
The sentiment for which we are pleading, has the sanction of the highest antiquity. Philo speaks of it as a received notion amongst the Jews, that the souls of yood men officiated as ministering spirits. The Pagans, in the earliest ages, imagined that the spirits of their deceased friends continued near them, and were frequently engaged in performing acts of kindness. Hence the deification of their kings and heroes, and the custom of invoking the manes of those that were dear to them.
Cicero makes a better use of the doctrine, when he endeavours to comfort a father for the loss of his son, by the thought, that he might still be engaged in performing kind offices for him . And it is not improbable that this idea, though perverted by the Heathen to the purposes of idolatry, might, like the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, be de• rived from a divine source.
It will perhaps be objected, that, if departed saints have this knowledge of what is passing on earth, it would oftener be a source of pain than pleasure. To this it may be replied, that, in that perfect state to wbich we refer, the will and affections will be so entirely under the intluence of the blessed God, that whatever pleases him must please us. Complete resignation to the will of the Lord necessarily annihilates all pain and anx. iety. The holy angels, doubtless, often behold the most awful scenes of sin and inisery, and have been often employed as the ministers of the divine vengeance; yet we cannot suppose the peace of their minds is at all disturbed by what they see and know. The happiness of Abraham was not diminished by the sight of his son in torment. Of such a complete union
• Rev. xix. 1.
De Senec. 23.
+ Rev. xxii. 3.
Rey, xxii. s.