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hare then to pray and to hope for success in your labours ! With what contidence may Christians in general expect the victorious triumphs of the gospel of Christ! While we contemplate the power of the gospel, and pray for still further displays of its energy, let us all seriously'examine what eilects it has produced on our own hearts.
THOUGHTS ON ACTS XIV. 09. And that we must, through much tribulation, enter into the
kingdom of God.
The religion of Jesus Christ is altogether like the spirit of Nathaniel, - free from deceit and guile. Our blessed Lord, far from practising any imposition upon his disciples, in order to allure ihein into his service, told them plainly and faithfully what they must expect therein. He assured them, under various forms of expression, that in the world they inust have tribulation. He did not barely say, “In the world ye may have tribulation;" but he taught them, uniformly and invariably taught them, that, in the path of his service, it was une avoidable and inevitable. How fair, how honourable was this! It afforded them an opportunity of sitting down first, and deliberately counting the cost; - it effectually precluded all those after-murmurs and complaints which a man naturally utters when he has been ensnared into a bad bargain : “ These things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them.” His apostles, in all their labours for the maintenance of his cause, and for the increase of his followers, proceeded in the same open and ingenuous manner.
We here learn that Paul and Barnabas having preached the gospel at Derbe, and made a considerable number of disciples there, returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, -“confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith.” Now, in exhorting them to continue in the faith, as they were young converts, it was natural 10 bring forward to their view all the good things belonging to it that could be thought of. This they probably did; but they all testified to these young converts, and laid it down as an invariable maxim to the end of time, “ That we must, through much tribulation, enter into the kingdom of God.” Now, in plain testimony, in this express assurance, our divine Master is as kind as he is faithful; for, according to that excellent proverb, on which the nation is now wisely acting,
" Fore. warned, fore-armed.” Under a due remembrance of the admonition before us, tribulation never can assault us by sure
prize. “These things," says our kind Master, “ have I told vou, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them." And his apostle, guided by the same spirit of compassion, says, “ Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you." - For my own pact, I es- · teem it particularly useful to consider well all the several points from which, in the regular course of Divine Providence, tribulation may come upon me. In idea, I have solemnly buried, by turns, each one of my friends, and have been also myself buried from the midst of them. I have tried to balance the exact weight, and to feel th. exact pressure of every calamity which lies within the compass of natural events. In short, I have deliberately inquired, How, as a Christian, 1 ought to act, under all the variety of circumstances which fall within the known region of possibility ? Troin experience I can affirm, that this really is not a melancholy employment of the mind;- it does not darken any of the prospecis, nor em bitter any comforts of life; - it neither damps the ardour of zeal, nor relaxes the sinews of duty; -- it is not with a servile dread I look at these things. No; I calmly survey their movements around me; and believe that if any of thein, or all of them, be directed to meet me, though with an aspect ever so stern, it will be to answer some salutary purpose towards me. And if, on the other hand, I sometines consider how it would become me to act under any sudde: prosperity which might break in upon me, it is not either with hope or anxious desire: - and surely it is as necessary that we be duiy armed against prosperity as against adversiiy; only that the former is not so likely to come suddenly upon us. ór Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fiy upward;" but he is born unto prosperity, only as an acorn is destined to become a lofty oak: - scarcely one of ten thousand at most; and that one, very long in growing. Yet I should not be disposed to censure an acorn endued with intelligence, were it now and then to contemplate itself a lofty tree, spreading wide its branches, exposed to summer lightnings and wintery storms, any more than I should censure it for anticipating a fate which far more probably awaits it: a fate, somewhat similar to that of the prophet Jonah. So let the Christian survey the whole circle of his dangers: - let him watch the narrow point of prosperity, as well as the broad streams of adversity. Thus, if I am not mistaken, did Paul; for he says, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound;" i.e. I know how to conduct myself with propriety as a servant of Jesus Christ, under every diversity of my outward circumstances. “ Everywhere, and in all things, lam instructed boih to be full and to be liungry, — both to abound and to suffer necd." Now, before the apostle conld attain to this, it is obvious, I think, that he must have Fell disciplined his own mind, in what may not improperly be called The School of Possibilities. But why has the Father of Mercies planted so much tribulation in the path to his heavenly kingdom? One would rather have expecied, that he would hedge up the way of the wicked only with thorns, - the way which leads to destruction ; and that he would strew the patie to Heaven all along with roses. The reasons of his conduct, in this particular, are, however, amply explained in the gospel of our salvation; and each individual pilgrim is instructed, experimentally, to say with David, " It is good for me that I have been afflicted. Ruyston.
ON THE BASENESS OF ANONYMOUS ATTACKS
ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. « The envious sicken at another's good,
is And hate the excellence they cannot reach." s Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you," said the Saviour of Sinners to his inmediate disciples; - but it was a woe that never fell on them; and we may venture to assert, will never fall upon the heads of those who, in the preaching of his word, are faithful to God, to his truth, and to the souls of men ; - for such must expect to suffer opposition, not only froin the open attacks of those whose sins they reprove, and whose false pretensions they detect; - but from the secret shafts of malignity, conveyed under false insinuations and anonymous signatures.
As we would hope there are some who have indulged this nefarious practice, without duly considering its turpitude, we would, in faithfulness to their souls, drop a few hints on the subject, with a view to their conviction and humiliation.
1. Such a conduct is not only mean in the extreme, but also unworthy an honest man. Persons of this description, rather act the part of a cruel and cowardly assassin, who takes advantage of the dark to wound a fellow-creature, when he cannot possibly be on his guard ; and, in a sense, are so much the worse, as the assassin only stabs the body, whilst they wound the peace of the mind.
2. Christianity is directly opposite to such a practice What is the command of the divine Redeemer to his followers “ If thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him bis fault between thee and him alone*." An adunonition wortliy the
lips of Incarnate Truth, and worthy the strict attention of all who profess to bear the yoke of the meek and lovely Saviour.
3. The injustice of this conduct is as conspicuous as its meanness, Doubtless, those who are capable of it, would think it hard to be arraigned and condemned, without permission to speak in their own defence; but is not this the precise situation in which they place the persons whom they injure? Nor is it,
4. The sinallest part of the evil, that, in this way, the ties of mutual confidence are weakened and, in many instances, dissolved, by those groundless suspicions which light upon the innocent; whilst the culprit escapes with impunity, the censure which he justly deserves. On such a subject, much more might be added; but the limits of a short paper will only admit a few remarks, which are suggested with an humble hope, that they may produce conviction in some one to whom the secret whisper of Conscience says, Thou art the man.
It may not, however, be improper, before we close, to drop a word to, those who have in this way painfully felt the envenomed tooth of Slander : and,
1. Let them never lose sight of that-injunction of him, who, tho' spotless and pure, was reviled and slandered more than any wan: “ Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” It is said that, alter the death of the late Archbishop Tillotson, a bundle of papers were found in his scrutoire, indorsed with these words, in bis own band : “ These are libels. I pray God to forgive the authors of them : I do.” This was the retaliation of a Christian; and the only revenge a Christian ought to take on his enemies.
2. Some good men have thought it best, on glancing over abusive letters, which have neither the names nor the address. of the writers, to spare themselves the trouble of reading them. A venerable minister of the gospel once said, “ I have, in common with the rest of my brethren, been often troubled with the impertinence of anonymous scribblers; and, for some time, was foolish enough to waste my time in reading it; -- but now, I always make a point of giving letters of this sort a warm reception, by immediately putting them, unread, into the fire." In somne instances, however, it may be proper to deviate from this rule; -- but,
3. By no means whatever, let the least public notice be taken of them; as that can only tend to gratify the malice, and feed the self-consequence of the writers. The celebrated physicion Boerhaare, has very justly said, “ The sparks of malice and calumny, against you (if a Christian) will die of themselves, unless, by undue notice, vou fan them into a flame.” And it is a maxim worth remembrance, which another worthy man has recorded, in reference to this case, “ Be silent, and you give a deadly stroke."
4. Let it be, through grace, your chief concern, so to order your conduct, that you may enjoy an inward testimony, " Tliat in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, you have your conversation in the world ." For so is the will of God, that with well-doing you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish meu +.”
I HAD the misfortune to hear, some time since, a clergyman exclaim, with considerable vehemence, against the sin of Schism ; charging the crime, promiscuously, upon all those who are not Members of the Established Church. Though railers, among every party, are beneath notice, yet it struck me, what a variety of difficulties throw themselves into the way of those who maintain this high-church notion of Schism,
“ That the religion the state establishes, we, of necessity, should adopt.”. If so, even in the British dominions, we tijd no less than three establishinents: - In England and Ireland, , the establishment is Episcopacy; = in Scotland, it is Presbya Terianism; and in the wide extended dominions of Canada, in North America, it is Popery: and the King, according to law, is equally the Civil Head, or Protector, of these different establishments. Are such high-church champions to chop and change their religion then, according as they change their abode, so that in no country they may be dissenters froin the established religion of the land in which they live! We are told, indeed, ours is so good an establishment, and so well reformed, that dissent is inexcusable. But the Presbyterian will tell you, bis is better still; -- and the Papist will positively assert his to be the most ancient and only true church ; and, consequently, the best of all. Shall the Civil Magistrate determine the controversy, and persecute the Dissenter Not so; the Chief Civil Magistrate of our most happy British Constitution, protects the religion of the majority, as being established, and defends every conscientious Dissenter, wherever he may be found, by an act of universal toleration. I have no doubt, therefore, that all those high church champions for conformity, should they shift their ground, unless they can shift their consciences as well as their places of abode, would cry out for toleration in their turn, as loud as others. This being the case, a few thoughts