Page images

that holy blessed frame, to grow in the love | Aim high. He that darts his arrow toof our God and Saviour. Such are the wards the heavens, will reach a greater means placed before us for the attainment height than he that turns it on earth. Let, of this great object, namely, faith appre- at least, our standard be high ; let our aim hending all the works of God in Christ be high ; let the law of God in all its amJesus, and prayer poured out before him plitude be the object of our pursuit, the by the power of the Holy Ghost. And means of grace, the diligent instruments such is the encouragement to cheer the we employ, and the looking for the mercy drooping heart, “ looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, our strong enof our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” couragement. The whole hangs together, and there is a Secondly, let all be convinced that correspondence in the magnitude of the this is the only religion that can save the end, and in the magnitude and fitness of soul. Now this includes the conduct of the means; and there is a correspondence all those whom I have now the pleasure, in the brightness of the encouragement. though a painful one, yet the pleasure to No man can read the text, and understand address, on this occasion. Let the highest it, without saying, “ these are the words not be satisfied with less attainments; of eternal life~no mortal pen ever dic- let the lowest not despond at the first betated such a sentiment."

ginnings; let all be convinced that there And now, brethren, let me First exhort is no other religion. There is no other all of you not to be satisficd with any thing bridge thrown over the bottomless abyss below this in your future course of life. of the world's misery but Jesus Christ, Aim, I pray you, beloved, at further pro- and him crucified: there is one religion, gress in this divine and heavenly religion. and but one. Sceptic, you will find at last Examine yourselves. Is this my religion? that your vain reasonings are the mere If it be, am I growing in it ? am I advanc- ignis fatuus of a corrupt understanding. ing in it ? am I going forward in it ? am I You will find, believe me, that a penimore and more increasing in love to God ? tent's heart, that one tear dropped over If I have fallen into decay, am I coming your Bible for your sins, is worth all the back? Perhaps half the Christian bre- metaphysics and all the speculations by thren that hear me may feel the note, when which the head is lifted up and inflated, it is touched, vibrate in their own hearts. and the heart hardened. Worldly profesa Beloved, if you have in any measure fal- sor, there is no other religion will do. len from God, or in any measure declined, You cannot have the world and God at will you come back, will you begin again once; you cannot have the love of the to build up yourselves in your “most world and the love of God in the same holy faith," to pray in the Holy Ghost, heart at the same time. It is contrary to and keep yourselves in the love of God, the nature of things; as much so as it is looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus in physical science for two bodies to fill Christ unto eternal life? He that is satis- the same space at the same moment. fied in a low and doubtful state of Chris- Vain professors of evangelical truth, who tianity, has no Christianity at all. There form a large class at the present day, and is no such thing; there is no religion that will be larger, it is Satan's art when the is not a growing religion, a vivacious, gospel is widely preached and spread, to augmenting, increasing religion. There induce us to rely upon national approbamay be a sickening religion, but it does tion, to hang upon that doctrine, to make not deserve the name; until it attains religion consist of this and that charity, something of health we can express no this and that feeling, this and that circumhope, and we dare not poison you by flat-stance; to build up yourselves because tery.

we belong to this or that society, or are Let, therefore, this be the first improve- doing this or that good thing. ment that I will venture to leave on my brethren, this is not the love of God; and own heart; and let, my beloved friends, let it is nothing but that which will prepare nothing short of this standard satisfy you. you for heaven, and nothing but faith in

0, my

a crucified Saviour that can ever build you may make the prayer in your own you up in your “most holy faith !" breasts. O, my God! is there one that

Therefore, earnestly let me commend has not made the prayer? Is there a all that have not yet ascertained this great heart so hard that it has not seized the point, to take the friendly admonition, the moment to aspire after grace and salvalast accents of one who desires to dis- tion ? No; I so trust thy mercy, that I charge his last duty, not merely by affec- cannot think there is one from the youngtion and the most sincere wishes, but in est to the oldest that hath not addressed a honest endeavours to save every soul he prayer for the love of God; and in that can ere he embarks, as it were, for another persuasion, beloved, I bid you farewell. world. And therefore I must come to thy It was said by a great master of history, conscience, sinner, wherever thou art. 1 (I don't know whether these are his words, cannot find thee out, but God has thee but they contain his sentiments,) Parri under the glare of his eye at this moment! affectus loquuntur, magni tacent. Little Thou art quivering in thy seat at this griefs speak, great ones are silent. instant, though I know thee not! Take

I say, therefore, in bidding you farethe friendly warning, and escape! Flee, well, I return you my most heartfelt I pray thee, from the wrath to come! acknowledgments for all the kindness Flee to the Saviour ere it be too late! and attention, and more than ministerial Begin real religion! Renounce thy wine, affection, which you have rendered to thy harlots, thy lusts, thy pleasure, thy me. I also desire to beg your forgiveness, merely human science, thy poetry, thy each of you individually, if you be prephilosophy, thy every thing that stands sent, (or if not, I desire it may be reported in the way to heaven : and when you have to every parishioner,) of any unintentional received the love of God you will use errors, offences, mistakes which I must I only what is lawful in any thing. O, know have committed. I would likewise remember it is not what I say-sayeth solemnly return my thanks, most of all, not God the same? Is not God love? to Almighty God for his mercies to me. If an earthly parent require the love of And “ Now," brethren, unto him that is his child—if the love of a friend be the able to keep you from falling, and to preonly essential quality of friendship—if a sent you faultless before the presence of his benefactor look for gratitude, I appeal to glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise your common sense, I appeal to the tri- God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, bunal of conscience-if it be not hardened dominion and power, both now and ever.' by profligacy and habits of vice, which Amen. desolate conscience, and leave it like seared and callous flesh-if there be a THE PULPIT GALLERY. conscience, if there be any thing of moral feeling in the sinner, shall not the God that made thee have thy supreme love? Shall not the Redeemer that died for thee

THE (LATE) REV. JOHN FLETCHER, claim and possess thy affection? Shall

Vicar of Madeley. not the sanctifying Spirit see thee praying for his grace? Shall not the love of God be paid to thy heavenly Father, thy J. W. De La FLECHERE was born at heavenly friend, thy divine benefactor? Nyon, in Switzerland, on the 12th of SepYes! O, may the angels of Chris: take rember, 1729. In March, 1757, he enterup the tidings to his throne that every ed the ministry of the Episcopal church, sinner here is beginning to repent! Yes; and with an uncommon degree of pastoral I pause while the desire is formed in the fidelity, and ardent piety, amidst much breast of every sinner. Let each one put weakness of body, discharged with almost up to the throne of mercy this ejaculation, apostolic zeal and earnestness the varied “Lord, give me thy grace, and may I be- duties of his office, until August, 1785, gin this heartfelt religion !" I pause that when he expired in the triumphs of faith.


It has been recorded of him, that when | as he saw him, to run home with all speed, vicar of Madeley, as often as a small and close the door before Mr. Fletcher congregation could be collected, which could reach it: and thus, for many months was usually every evening, he preached together, he escaped his deserved reproofs. to them. He visited every family in his The holy man, however, still persevering parish that gave him access, for conver- in his attempts, on one occasion outran sation and prayer; and no hour of the this determined sinner, and obtained posnight, nor severity of the weather, pre- session of his house before him. The cluded his attendance on the sick. He poor man, awed by the presence of his interrupted the nocturnal revellings, then minister, and softened by the persuasive common among his young parishioners, kindness of his manners, was greatly afby his solemn but affectionate admoni- fected, and received those religious imtions; and braved the fury of the colliers, pressions which soon ended in a thorough amidst their savage orgies and inhuman change of his character. sports. At Coal-brook Dale and Madeley Another of his parishioners, who is still wood, two hamlets in his parish, distant living, relates the following characteristic from the church, he preached alternately; circumstance :—When a young man, he and erected, chiefly at his own expense, was married by Mr. Fletcher, who said iwo buildings for more convenient wor- to him as soon as the service was conship. At his church he preached twice cluded, and he was about to make the every Sunday, besides catechizing child accustomed entry, “Well, William, you dren; and often repeated his services, in have had your name entered in our registhe evening, at places considerably dis- ter once before this.” “ Yes, sir, at my tant. In his efforts to do good he mani- baptism." “ And now, your name will fested a zeal and perseverance rarely seen, be entered a second time. You have no and was frequently rewarded with a suc- doubt thought much about your present cess as striking, as the means employed step, and made proper preparations for it to obtain it. A poor collier, now living in many different ways.” “ Yes, sir." at Madeley, and upwards of eighty years - Recollect that a third entry of your of age, relates, that in the former part of name,—the register of your burial, will, his life he was exceedingly profligate, sooner or later, take place. Think, then, and that Mr. Fletcher frequently sought about death, and make preparations for opportunities to warn him of his danger. that also, lest it overtake you as a thief “ For," added the poor man, “ he used in the night.” This person also is now always to run after such wicked fellows walking in the ways of the Lord, and as I was, whenever he saw us, in order states, that he often adverts to this and that he might talk with us, and warn us.” other things which his serious and affecBeing aware of his pious vicar's inten- tionate pastor found frequent occasion to tions, this collier was accustomed, as soon say to him.

VOL. 1.-12

A 2




Let not, then, your good be evil spoken of."-Rom. xiv. 16.

The question of Christian missions which is almost nothing in the estimation occupies, my beloved hearers, a very dif- of the Christian-(and only any thing ferent position in the public mind in our because of its accessary and incidental current history from that which it for character with respect to the particular merly obtained. Statesmen do not neces- department of his benevolence and zeal) sarily, as at the first, denounce it; philo- - the burning surface, the elaborate ornasophers do not necessarily denounce it; ment, the productions of the soil—these travellers do not necessarily deprecate it. form the scope and the reward of all their It does not, as of old, invariably provoke exertions: the soul, the object of our care; mercantile clamour and political alarm. the salvation of the soul, the prize of our Contempt has become more calm, and ambition, have no points of attraction, and calumny has learned to impose a restraint no ground of admiration for them. How upon itself. The old outcry is spent; the could they value in others that which fierce onset has obeyed the sound of re- they in themselves do not appreciate ? treat; “ the stout-hearted are spoiled ; and How could they desire for others that none of the men of might have found their which they do not seek for themselves ? hands." Insinuation still secretes its But there are accidents to our cause, subtle poison, and crawls its reptile and in our progress, which are levelled course; but the invective and menace to their understanding—inferior spoils which once filled our legislatures, our which are congenial to their tastes. The tribunals, our schools, our marts—which subserviency of missions to literature and were heard in high debate, and were re- science—in arranging languages whose verberated by popular tumult-which name had not hitherto been heard-in gave a tone to polite letters, and an supplying knowledge touching mytholoexpression to outrageous vulgarities-gies which had hitherto been screened these, with a few exceptions, which stand from every curious eye, and fenced from related to a system whose moderation can every intrusive footstep-in marking, never be more than affected, and whose with a very accurate geography, the chart enmity it is impossible to allay or subdue of rivers and oceans, states and countries -these more boisterous ebullitions have -in collating facts which sustain the wellnigh died away. The adventurer, most important conclusions and systems the speculator, the infidel, the bigot, must in physical truth ;—the favourable infiunow avail themselves of other expedients, ence of missions in providing security and have recourse to other weapons. for persons, and infusing confidence into

The missionary enterprise has secured barter, as well as opening new fields, and to itself no small portion of secular re-establishing fresh interchanges, by accusspectability; there are many who are now toming the savage to social institutionsdisposed to do it homage on account of the grandeur of the very scheme of misits indirect results. They have, indeed, sions taking hold upon the imagination, no sympathy with its nobler aims. That and of the mind, as the nearest possible

approach to disinterested virtue, embody-| lists, by martyrs; think of the manner in ing that which had been hopeless as a which it approves itself to every holy vision, and baseless as a dream-the cer- precedent and principle, and commends tain success of missions—certain, as it is itself to every holy sentiment and affec. seen in a thousand peaceful trophies of tion; think of your professed subjection civilization, mild manners, and enlight- to the gospel of Christ, and of " the powened principles; these great issues have er which worketh in you mightily;" think surrounded missions with a considerable of the souls of the heathen in their unshare of favour, and have adjudged to computed millions, in their unfathomable them a character even of renown. woes; and it will then be easy to convict

The enmity of the human heart is what the most generous of selfishness, the it ever was against the revealed history most disinterested of indifference, the of free mercy, and the strict purity of most susceptible of apathy, the most deChristianity. But some of its stronger voted of disaffection, the most liberal of efforts, in consequence of these circum- parsimony, the most constant of ficklestances, have been remitted—some of its ness, the most active of supineness and wilder frenzies have been dropped. At sloth. Should we not study a delicate least, it never can be made a charge and a sensitive consistency? What managainst us that we are engaged in an un- ner of persons ought we to be? tried invasion, in a rash experiment. We we do good by communicating it. have the results before us, and that charge We are employed in an effort and a sysis reduced to silence, if not put to shame. tem of well doing. But let us clothe We are truly thankful that we can refer ourselves with the things that are amiable to an effect which runs within the range and of good report. Let us shun the apof worldly prepossessions; but chiefly pearance of evil; and, though certain that we rejoice over the deeper process into it is a good, let us preclude the possibility which the unrenewed mind cannot enter of that good being “evil spoken of.” -a hid treasure, which the hopes and You will allow me, therefore, my bresympathies of the world can never make thren, to give the following discourse a its own—the consequences that a solemn practical bearing and character. It shall treaty attaches to all that take a part in be left to others to raise more delightful missionary operations. This thing is not themes. We seem to have reached a done in a corner; they are a city set upon a crisis ; we ought now to come to a pause. hill, and every shadow cast from it is ob- What are we doing? What is the geneserved; they are the light of the world, and ral impression of what we have done? every wavering of the flame is noticed. There may be inconsistencies amongst Their language is extensively quoted; those who profess themselves the friends their deportment narrowly watched; of the Christian enterprise of missions; they have to pass through a fearless scru- there may be inconsistencies, and “ faithtiny heated sevenfold. Myriads of eyes ful are the wounds of a friend." There are upon them-eyes which stand out is no doubt in our own mind as to the with suspicion, with jealousy, with dis-genuineness, as to the reality of the betrust, with resentment, with rage. Hence neficence itself; but let us not give any arises the necessity of the greatest caution occasion to them who seek occasion by and prudence, as well as of the greatest which that beneficence might at all come frankness and intrepidity. Ought we not under suspicion. Some of these incon“ to walk in the fear of the Lord, because sistencies shall now be stated. I throw of the reproach of our enemies ?" myself upon your candous-many of you

But we would rather make this a per- know the heart of a stranger; and, whilst sonal inducement and reason arising out I will endeavour to feel as little as possiof the subject itself. Think of its sub- ble a stranger amongst you, relieve that lime purpose, its high calling; think of almost irrepressible sense of estrangement the estimate which has been fixed upon by your candour and by your prayers. Is mccessively by apostles, by evange

We are inconsistent when the truth we

« PreviousContinue »