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tention of demolishing the house of Principal Robertson, be came quiet at his approach; and, in consequence of his exhorts ation to them, desisted from their purpose. .
Dr. Erskine's independence and liberailty of mind, deserve to be particularly mentioned. These were qualities that shone conspicuously thro' the whole of his life; and which he possessed in so eminent a degree, that many thought he carried them to
Considering the time Dr. Erskine spent in the minute discharge of a very extensive and laborious office, it may seem astonishing that he could read and write so much as he did. They, however, who had the happiness to know him, and saw how he husbanded his time, wonder not so much at the amount of his labours, as at the manner in which his feeble constitution underwent the fatigue. Like his Divine Master, he seemed ever to think himself bound to be about his Father's business. A saying of his own, fresh in the memory of many of his friends, was the maxim that governed his conduct:-"Action is the rest of the soul."
Dr. Erskine was the last of an old school of divines in Edinburgh, who were an honour to the age in which they lived; many of whose names will be perpetuated in the history of their country to the latest generation.
To the Editor.
I LATELY spent a few profitable moments at a Christian friend's house, when the conversation turned on the subject of desiring death, its lawfulness, &c.— It would much gratify me, if any of your friends would write a short essay on this import ant topic, and explain from what source such a desire should arise, in order to constitute it right.
Your inserting the above, will greatly oblige
ANSWER TO A QUERY
IN OUR MAGAZINE FOR APRIL, PAGE 137.
"How may we discover a call to fill any particular situation in the dispensations of Providence ?"
THE determination of God respecting the particular posts he has assigned his people to occupy, is not so clear and ob vious at first view, as many seem to wish it had been, without reflecting that this intricacy is to answer several very important ends. Were the path of duty easily discoverable at first sight, where would be the occasion for faith in many instances;
for prayer, for direction, or patience to wait for divine interposition? But it is an enquiry familiar to the righteous,-" Shew ine the way in which I should walk;" for uncertainty begets fear, and fear begets misery. The first query, therefore, is very useful and interesting: for, as an elegant writer has observed, "The Governor of the universe is perpetually varying and determining our duties by the dispensations of his providence, the condition in which he fixes us, and the connexions which sometimes, by a train of marvellous occurrences, he leads us to form *." But, to return, I humbly conceive we may discover a call in Providence, by God's word, by careful self-examinations in the exercise of prayer, by patiently waiting, or by attention to wise counsel.
I. By God's word.-The determinations of God in his providence, are all " according to his word."-God does not assign us any station incompatible with the exercise of those tempers and dispositions which he requires and communicates. It has been often 'judiciously observed, that what some denominate Openings in Providence," are Satan's baits. To explain :Something offers, pleasing to corrupt nature, lucrative; and we endeavour forthwith to persuade ourselves it is a call in Providence, without examining what advice God gives us in his word. There I am commanded to come out, and be separated from sinners. And will he call me to a post where I am to have sinners for my companions and associates? The word of God enjoins contentment with food and raiment; and ́shall I eagerly exchange a situation, where I have the enjoyment" of gospel privileges, for one where these advantages will be diminished, because therein I am likely to acquire wealth? The intelligent Christian will readily perceive this might be branched out into a vast variety of particulars relative to ourselves, our children, marriage, &c. and in each and every case that can arise, God's most blessed word is a light to our feet, and a lamp to our paths!
II. Careful self-examination should always precede a change in our post. Is this remove chosen by my self-will, or any other corrupt disposition? Have I suitable talents and ability to fulfil the duties of this new station? For God never sends us on a warfare at our own charges; but if he calls to any situation, he communicates ability for its duties. I have often thought it a good criterion in this respect, to enquire, When is it that I desire this or that circumstance, or change in my situation. most? When I enjoy mest communion with God, when my mind is most spiritual and heavenly, or when the world appears to have gained an ascendency? Let every one determine this point for themselves; and, I apprehend, it will go a good way towards ascertaining the point in question.
Jay's Wedding Sermon, page 1.
III. A most important direction on this subject is, Pray con stantly. David expected divine direction as to his duty, in answer to his prayers: "Cause me to know the way wherein [ should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee +:" and other similar examples from Scripture might easily be adduced. If we persevere in humble believing prayer, we shall assuredly be kept from every wrong and hurtful step; and be able to discover the way of duty. The way of man is not in himself; "it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" and this proves the wisdom and necessity of praying for divine direction and guidance.
IV. Be patient; dread a hasty determination :-" Every rash step is a wrong one." "The Lord's time," says dear Mr. Newton, "is like the time of tide, which no human power can either accelerate or retard; though it tarry, wait for it." It is true, circumstances may demand a prompt decision; but this is not often the case. In most important changes we have time for self-examination, prayer, and patient waiting: and after calm investigation, the aspect of a subject is frequently most wonderfully varied. He that believeth in God's word and overruling providence, shall not make hasté.
V. Finally. Listen to the counsel and advice of superiors and others, capable of advising. The headstrong and perverse, those who will follow the bent of their own inclinations, are often punished by the possession of what they eagerly desired. "He that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise," saith Solomon. Consult your friends and parents, if they still survive, and are competent to counsel you: and observing these directions, in an humble spirit, you shall be led in a right way. "For good and upright is the Lord; therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he teach his way."
THE eminent Archbishop Usher being once on a visit in Scotland, heard a great deal of the piety and devotion of the famous Mr. Sam. Rutherford, who, he understood, spent whole nights in prayer, especially before the Sabbath. The Bishop wished much to witness such extraordinary down-pouring of the Spirit; but was utterly at a loss how to accomplish his de sign. At length, it came into his mind to dress himself like á pauper; and on a Saturday evening, when turning dark, he called at Mr. Ratherford's house, and asked if he could get
quarters for a night, since he could not go to other houses'at so late an hour for that purpose. Mr. Rutherford consented to give the poor man a bed for a night; and desired him to sit down in the kitchen, which he did cheerfully. Mrs. Rutherford, according to custom, on Saturday evening, that her servants might be prepared for the Sabbath, called them together, and examined them. In the course of examination that evening, she asked the stranger, how many commandments there. were? To which he answered, Eleven.' Upon receiving this answer, she replied, "What a shame is it for you! a man with gray hairs, living in a Christian country, not to know how many commandments there are! there is not a child of six years old in this parish, but could answer this question properly." She troubled the poor man no more, thinking him so very ignorant; but lamented his condition to her servants: and after giving him some supper, desired a servant to shew him up stairs to a bed in a garret. This was the very situation in which he desired to be placed, that he might hear Mr. Rutherford at his secret devotion. However, he was disappointed; for that night the good man went to bed, but did not fall asleep for some hours. The stranger did not go to bed, but sat listening; always hoping to hear Mr. Rutherford at prayer and at length, concluding that he and all the family were asleep, the Bishop thought, if he had been disappointed of hearing another offer ing up his desires to God at a throne of grace, he would embrace the opportunity himself; and poured out his heart to God with so much liberty and enlargement, that Mr. Rutherford, immediately below him, overheard him; and getting up, put on his clothes. Should this have awakened Mrs. Rutherford, she could have suspected nothing of his design, seeing he rose commonly every day at three o'clock in the morning; and if she could have heard one at prayer afterwards, she would have naturally concluded it was her husband. Mr. Rutherford went up stairs, and stood waiting at the garret-door till the Bishop concluded his devotion: upon which he knocked gently at the door; and the other opened it in surprize, thinking none were witness to his devotion. Mr. Rutherford took him by the hand, saying, "Sir, I am persuaded you can be none other than Archbishop Usher; and you must certainly preach for me to-day, being now Sabbath morning. The Bishop confessed who he was; and after telling Mr, Rutherford what induced him to take such a step, said he would preach for him, on condition that he would not discover who he was. Happy union of souls, although of different persuasions! yet not mar vellous. God makes but two distinctions among mankind,-the righteous and the wicked.
Mr. Rutherford furnished the Bishop with a suit of his own clothes, and early in the morning he went out to the fields; the
other followed him, and brought him in as a strange minister pass ing by, who had promised to preach for him. Mrs. Rutherford found that the poor man had gone away before any of the family were out of bed. After domestic worship and breakfast, the family went to the kirk; and the Bishop had for his text (John xiii.34) "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another." A suitable subject for the occasion. In the course of his sermon, he observed that this might be reckoned the eleventh commandment. Upon which Mrs. Rutherford said to herself, "That is the answer the poor man gave me last night;" and looking up to the pulpit, said, " It cannot be possible that this is he!" After public worship, the strange minister and Mr. Rutherford spent the evening in mutual satisfaction and early on Monday morning the former went away in the dress he came in, and was not discovered.
REMARKABLE APPEARANCE OF PROVIDENCE
IN FAVOUR OF A PERSECUTED MINISTER.
THE Rev. Joseph Stennet (great-grandfather of the late Dr. Samuel Stenner) was a faithful and laborious minister; but his dissent from the established church exposed him to a considerable share of persecution. Yet the Lord, whom he served, and who knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, was pleased 'to afford him deliverance in the following extraordinary manner:
He dwelt in the castle of Wallingford, a place where no warrant but that of the Lord Chief Justice could reach him; and the house was so situated, that religious assemblies could meet there for worship without any danger of legal conviction, unless informers were admitted, which care was taken to prevent. A Justice of Peace in the neighbourhood, highly incensed at this, resolved, together with a clergyman, upon a conviction of the offence by suborning false witnesses. Several persons were accordingly hired to swear that they had heard prayer and preaching there, though they had never been present. Mr. Stennet, finding an indictment laid against him on the Conventicle Act, founded on the oath of several witnesses, and being well assured that nothing but perjury could support it, was resolved to traverse it; and accordingly did so. The assizes were held at Newbury; and when the time ap proached, his adversaries greatly triumphed in their expected success. But the scene was suddenly changed. News came to the Justice, that his son at Oxford was gone off with a player: this prevented his attendance. The clergyman, who was determined to be present, and boasted of the service which would