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the devouring fire?-with everlasting burnings:" The preacher began his discourse in the following manner:
** The application of a sermon is usually at the close of it; but were we for once to apply the subject at the beginning, it would probably increase our seriousness, and render all the rest of the sermon more useful. Let us then put the latter part
of the words to ourselves; and ask, “Who among us shall dwell with devouring fire?” Shall any of us? Is it not probable that some of us shall? And if so, Ilhich of us? Where do the persons sit? In the galleries ? or below ? Methink's each of you is saying, “Is it? Is it 1! Ah! could we point out the individual, and sar,Thou art the man !- thou art the woman !' - how would every eye be fixed on' that unhappy person ! and how would the individual feel! Now, though it is not for us to speak in this manner to any one person, yet we may clearly point out, from the Scriptures of truth, who it is, that, without "repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, must indeed dwell with everlasting burn. ings; and may the Holy Spirit so assist us in the important enquiry, that many may be stirred up to flee from the wrath to come
This address appeared to me to make a solemn impression on the auditory; and, if the perusal of it should strike one of your thoughtless readers, it will afford great satisfaction to your occasional correspondent,
A REPLY TO THE QUERY OF A TRAVELLER,
in our Magazine for August, p. 364. llow may a professing Christian best defend himself against the
dunger of evil company? Tus Querist seems more particularly desirous of an answer from one who knows the danger by experience. The writer of these lines occasionally travels; and, therefore, can write experimentally. The result of his own observations de cheerfully subunits to this traveller; and, indeed, to all others of a like stamp. Though he has to regret not having always acted upon these principles, yet, when he has done it, he has uniformly found them availing.
ist, Look to God in secret prayer. Pray to be kept from the contagion of the company you are in. Beg that you may " have no fellowship with ibe unfruitful works of darkness ; but rather reprove them.” By fellowship, the apostle means friendly and cordial intercourse and pleasure. We are cautioned against “ foolish talking, filthiness, and jesting;" and, so if sinners entice thee, consent thou not."' Now, prayer will
enable us to act agreeably to these exhortations. Prayer is our test weapon ; and can be successfully used when a coinpany are not aware of it.
edly, Never be ashamed of your profession. You are not ashamed of telling what your secular profession or trade may be; then, why be ashamed to say that you profess Christianity?
- Asha med of Jesus! – just as soon
“ Let midnight blush to think of noon." If a company see you sneak, as they call it, and that you wish to conceal your real character, it will only make them inore impudent and wicked. How often have Christians, in soine companies, permitted a succession of indecent songs, toasts, and vollies of oaths, inerely because they wanted a little timely courage in checking then at first! The righteous should be bold as a vion !
3dly, Imitate the frankness and zeal of the wicked. As soon as some men get into a coach, or arrive at an inn, they almost inmediately display their colours, and avow themselves the servants of Sin; they are impatient till they have opened their character; they give awful evidence that they are the children of darkness. Why then should we be ashamed of being known as the children of light? Their consciences tell them that ours is the most honourable character, and yet we are afraid of receiving the honour they are obliged to give us. may assert our characters, by politely checking the first improper remark, or reproving the first swearer we hear. If we were to begin singing hymns, or talking directly on religion, when we entered into company, how many a reproof, and oath too, should we have for our pains ! and yet we let sinners play their parts with impunity! Whole companies have been silenced by a well-timed reproof. If a rebuke loses its effect, which is seldom the case, have the manliness to quit the company as soon as convenient; and the sooner the better, for this will put a keener edge upon your reproof van staying among them.
Lastly, Be before-hand with your company, when it can be done with propriety. Take an early opportunity of dropping a moral or serious remark, and it will operate in the way you wish it. If they smell Methodism about you, they will probably be on their guard, or leave your company. A wan, half drunk, once smelt the writer in a stage-coach, which induced him very soon to prefer an outside place. Precepts are enforced by examples. The traveller will, therefore, see the force of this head of advice, if I introduce two other anecdotes : A person was once in a coach, when it stopped to take up a gentleman, who had every appearance of being a clergyman. Silence was observed for some time, particularly by a loquacious swearing passenger. At length the supposed clergyman
began to talk; and, at intervals, politely introduced the word Devil into his discourse. This opened the lips of the other; and he could then swear and talk nonsense with a vengeance. To bave a parson connive at his language, was all the sanction he required. - The other instance was this: - A gentleman in a coach began his conversation by boasting of the plenty and prosperity we enjoyed as a nation ; adding, that we want for nothing." "No, Sir,' said a minister, pleasantly,' we want nothing but gratitude to God.' This timely hint took the company by surprize; and as they suspected they had a Merhod. ist present, he found them very decent companions till they separated.
I cannot conclude without recommending to travellers to carry a parcel of Religious Tracts with them; such as A DiaJogue biween a Traveller and vourself,- On the Sabbath, On Swearing, &c. These offered to fellow-travellers, left at ions, given to waiters, &c. might be attended with great good, and help to connteract the prodigious evil communicated by profane and wicked men on their journies.
ANSWER TO A QUERY IN P.414. QUERY. Suppose a minister to have been in a bachsliding state,
and by sovereign gruce having been recovered, and given 177dent proofs of his repentaner ind conversion, ought this to prevent the future exercise of his ministerial functions ? And are persons who witnessed his backslidings, justifiable in indeurvuring to blast his present respectability, and consequently destroy his future usefulness?
ANSWER. This Query is expressed in rather aintiguous terms; for in the first place, the word backsliding is of very extensive import; and the Query does not state the nature or extent of his backsliding, nor how long he contioned in that awful siate; and the dutermination of such a question as this, must depend on a full and attentive consideration of all the cir. cumstances: and in the next place, the latter part of the Query does not express that “the persons who witnessed his backslidings, and an endeavouring to blast his present respectability,” are convinced on his penitence and conversion ; so that, however evident the proots thereof may be to some, it does not appear but these persons believe bin to be iinpenitent and unconverted to the present bour.
The following remarks appear to me applicable to the subject :
There is a backsliding of the heart and of the life. The former is a secret withdrawing of the attections from God, which is the beginning of all outward backstidings and apostncies. The backslider in heart may continue to profess all
the doctrines of the gospel, and refrain from committing outward acts of sin ; yet the ministry of a man in this unhappy situation will be dry, insipid, and unprofitable. But the Query will not allow us to suppose that this is the kind of backsliding intended. It must be the backsliding of the lite; either a departure from the faith of the gospel, by denying soine of its essential doctrines; or a departure from the practice of the gospel, by falling into gross sin, such as drunkenness, adultery, dishonesty, &c. As the Query speaks of a backsliding state, and of buckslidings, in the plural number, it cannou in tend a single act of sin, committed under the impulse of sudden and violent temptation; but sin repeatedly comınitted, and persisted in for a length of tiine: and as it is further stated, that“ persons witnessed his backslidings,” his sin, whatever it might be, was notorious; and brought a public scandal upon the gospel.
The proofs of his repentance and conversion should be as public and notorious as his backslidings bave been. Besides his humiliation before God in secret, he should, like Zacheus, make ample amends, if possible, to the person or persons he has sinned against, if, in his backsliding state, he has injured any one; and some time will be necessary to ascertain the sincerity of his repentance by its fruits.
With respect to the future exercise of bis ministerial functions, I suppose it will be no easy matter to persuade him to continue it, or resume it if he has laid it aside. * Shame for the reproach he has brought upon the gospel, and a conviction that the world will be disposed to question his sincerity, will seal his lips, and cause him to go softly. Every true minister of the gospel enters upon his office with fear and trembling; much more will a minister, who has publicly backsliden, fear and tremble to continue or resume it. Till bis character is thoroughly re-established, he had much better decline the exercise of his ministerial functions.
As to the conduct of the persons who“ endeavour to blast his present respectability" (which, however, from the statement of the case, can hardly be very great) certainly no one is justifiable in proclaiming his sin. Indeed, it can hardly be supposed that any good man would do it; and as his backsliding is supposed to be a matter of public notoriety, it would be au unnecessary task, even for an enemy or a busy body.
I think, the conduct of Christians toward such a person should be as follows:
There is an important distinction to be made between prix vate sins and public ones. A Christian is bound to forgive a private injury upon it bare profession of repentance by the off oder; — but when a scandal is brought upon the gospel, and the months of the wicked are opened, proot's of repentance should be required, that the reproach may be reinoved, and the profane silenced. Unless this be done, sin is connived at, not condemned; and sin should be invariably condemned, though the penitent backslider be received. “But now have I written unto you not to keep company: if any man that is called a brother, be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner ; with such a one, no, not to eat *.” A sin susiciently gross, to warrant the suspension or excommunication of a member of a Christian church, requires the cessation of the exercise of the ministerial functions, if committed by a person sustaining the sacred officc; and as the character of a minister is of more consequence than that of a private Christian, so should greater care and caution be observed in receiving again a fallen minister than a fallen church-member, lest we should sacrifice the glory of God and the honour of the gospel. W. W.
* Cor. V. II.
ANSWER TO A QUERY RESPECTING BANKRUPTS.
I CONFESS, Mr. Editor, that I was a little surprized at the Fourth Query in your Magazine for October, p. 458 : “Is it the duty of a bankrupt to consider himself bound, in the sight of God to make up his dividend 20s, in the pound, if, atier sening up in business, he prospers, and is able to do it?" &c.
If the Scriptures be consulted, the answer to such an enquiry is short and conclusive. Nothing can be more decisive than those two passages :
“ Render unto all their dues," and“ Owe no man any thing.". The first requires a strict attention to the just claims of others. The second forbids the protracted existence of a debt, when he who incurred it is capable of tendering the payment; vor does it make any excepiion, such as. You need not pay, if your creditor be richer than yourself ;- he does not want it; - it is no consequence, because a small suin.' The command (" (we no inan any ihing”) is so clear and forcible, that he who runs may read and understand.
A man of the world, who has little to do with Conscience, except so far as it may be impressed by the laws of the land, may feel perfectly satisfied with the legal decisions relative to Bankruptey; and when he is safe from the arrests of creditors, may consider himself equally so from the demands of Justice : but a Christian, who is taught in a higher school, and whose proficiency should not only appear in the sublimity of his sentiments and hopes, but in the tenderness of his conscience and rectitude of his actions, should ever consider the law of God as his priinary authority and rule. Its plain ard positive precepts cannot be dininished in their importance, by the allo