Imatges de pÓgina

pils understand before he required their belief. His primary lessons repected the habit of attention, love of the truth, zealous disposition or research; and instead of expecting from them to imbibe at once all he should teach, he was satisfied if they would only examine carefully what he had said. His pupils not only acquired historical and critical information, but principles of interpretation and reasoning, and no man was better able to convert the selfsufficient dogmatist into an elementary divine, and establish his faith on the basis of axioms, which he would never relinquish but from the impulses of folly and vice.

His opinions it would be improper to detail, without adducing express authorities from his writings. It may however be observed, that he thought a willingness to be damned was not a Christian exercise; that the ev. idence brought to prove a total depravity in mankind was defective and insufficient; that men possess a self-determining power, without which there could be neither freedom, virtue or vice, praise or blame; and of consequence he was opposed to the Hopkinsian, or rather Edwardian system of ideas, with the supporters of which he was frequently in controversy.

His manners and domestic character were peculiar. The former were indeed unpolished, but such were the charms of his conversation that he was an acceptable companion not only to literary men, but to all discerning people of fashion. His exterior figure, deportment and temper, resembled those of Dr. Johnson, if we may decide from the por

trait given of the latter by artists and biographers. In domestic affairs he was wholly unconcerned, till compelled to attention by imperious necessity. This deficiency was discreetly supplied by his assiduous, intelligent consort, and will be forgiven in studious men, by those who con. sider the incompatability of a detail solicitude in household matters, with a strong thirst for knowledge. No man can serve two masters. The reports circulated of Dr. West's eccentri cities are most of them ques tionable, and all of them might pass without a smile in such as knew his substantial merits.

The subject of this biographical notice had his blemishes, and they are mentioned not to depreciate the dead, but to give an instructive hint to the living. A new book of merit, or the conversation of a sentimental friend, was devoured with an avidity, which absorbed his whole attention, and made him neglect the common rules of decorum. He could not readily forgive those, who doubted the truth of certain favourite opinions, or reminded him of any instances of credulity, in which he was deceived by his benevolence; and being wholly absorbed by the utility of the end, he became blind in discerning the means of attaining it. A stranger also might suppose, from the manner of his devotion, that he was less devout than his intimate acquaintance knew him to be; for, to his friends, it was certain, that neither tone or gesture were any infallible criteria of faith or piety. He believed more than most men, and felt as much as any man, at those times, and

upon those occasions, when it was proper to loosen the reins of thought, and yield to the full control of sentimental emotions.

But truth and justice oblige us to compensate the mention of such failings, by saying that no man could accuse Father West of the wilful violation of any principle of moral rectitude and sincerity. By education, habit and grace, he sustained the character of strict veracity, steady patriotism and philanthropy, unshaken evangelical faith, and deserves to be enrolled as a Rabbi in the Christian Israel.

Without vanity, he was always gratified by attentions. Knowledge made him humble; and without any expressions of assurance, he always signified a modest hope that he had closed with the terms of salvation proposed in the gospel, and trusted he should enter into his Master's joy, believing that mortality would be swallowed up of life, and that saints will rise in the likeness of their glorious Redeemer.

Jan. 20, 1808.


In learning, Mr. Brown's at tainments were eminent, corresponding with the insatiable ardor of his mind after general knowledge. He was also eminent in piety. Prayer was his delight. In conversation, it was evidently his constant aim to reform and to edify. Through stedfast faith in the divine promises, he seemed to have attained such an even

never to be

ness of mind, as much transported with joy, or much depressed with sorrow. During his last illness, he discovered a remarkably thankful frame of mind for the smallest favour; and so satisfied was he with the dispensations of Providence, that for three or four months before his death, he was not heard to utter a discontented or uneasy word. The following are some of his expressions during his last illness.


If Christ be magnified in my life, that is the great matter I wish for. Often we read history as atheists or deists, rather than as Christians. read of events, without observing the hand of God in them, is to read as atheists; and to read and not observe how all events conduce to carry on the work of redemption, is to read as deists. The doctrine of grace, reigning through righteousness, is good to live with, and good to die with. What a happy life a Christian might have, were he alway persuaded of the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord! Were there any such thing as exchange of learning, I would willingly quit all my knowledge of languages and other things, were it a thousand times more extensive, experimentally to know what that meaneth, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." I have met with trials, yet the Lord hath been so kind to me, that I think, if he were to give me as many years as I have lived in the world,

I would not desire a single circumstance in my lot to be changed, but only that I had less sin. I have often wondered at the favour which men have showed me; but much more at the favour of God to such a great transgressor. Men may talk against the sovereignty of redeeming love as they will; but had it not been sovereign, infinitely sovereign, I should certainly have. been damned. O how these words, "He loved me and gave himself for me," have penetrated my heart." Bless the Lord, my soul, and all within me, bless his holy name."

Addressing Himself to his two sons in the ministry, he said with peculiar earnestness, "O labour, labour for Christ while you have strength. I now repent I have been so slothful in his service. Justly may he say of me," sixty years long have I been grieved with this rebel." And justly may I add, "where my sin hath abounded, God's grace hath much more abounded." Never grudge either purse or person for him. I can say I was never a loser by any time spent, or by any money given, for him. O the pains God has been at to save me; and the pains I have been at to destroy myself! If doubt ing, disputing, and trampling on his kindness, could have made him change his love, it would never have been continued to me. Such wickedness would have provoked any but a God of infinite love, to cast me into hell. I have served several masters, but none so kind as Christ. have dealt with many honest men; but no creditor like Christ. Had I ten thousand hearts, they should all be given to him, and


had I ten thousand bodies, they should all be employed in labouring for his honour. We should reckon him a madman, who should throw away a father's estate; but he is infinitely more foolish, who should cast off a father's God."


Hearing of the spread of the gospel, Well, (said he) may it spread. It is the only source of my comfort, and every sinner is as welcome as I. How pleasant, that neither great sins, nor great troubles, can alter these consolations. O that I had all the world around me, that I might tell them of Christ. Had I ten thousand tongues, and ten thousand hearts, and were employing all in commendation of Christ, I could not do for his honour what he hath deserved. I think the early death of my father and mother, the death of a beloved wife and children, wrought for my good. I could not but notice, when God took away these, he always supplied their room with himself. May he deal thus with you, when I die. Were it left to me, wheth er to choose life or death, I would refer it wholly to God. What I know of religion is this, I have found great weakness and wickedness in myself; and grace, mercy, and loveliness in Christ. O what must Christ be in himself, when he sweetens heaven, sweetens scripture, sweetens or dinances, sweetens earth, and even sweetens trials. The finished righteousness of Christ is the only foundation of my hope. Ever since God hath dealt savingly with my heart, I have never had any comfort in the thought, that my sins were small, but in the belief that the blood

of Christ cleanseth from all He said to a brother in the min

[blocks in formation]

In the history of the Old Testament, there are some things recorded, relative to God's dealings with the Jews, which men unfriendly to the scriptures have alleged as objections against their credibility; and which serious minds have thought difficult to be reconciled to the benevolence of the divine government. Of these, one of the principal is the conquest and extermination of the seven nations of Canaan.

It is asked, "What right had the Jews to expel a people from their own country, of which, for hundreds of years, they had been in quiet possession? And if, on any pretence, they conquered them, was it not cruel to destroy them without distinction, after submission? If the transaction itself was unjust and cruel, how Can we suppose that it was commanded of God, a Being of justice and mercy?"

As this transaction has been by many misunderstood, and by some misrepresented, I shall endeavour to state and explain it, and to shew its consistency with the divine equity and with national justice.


In the first place it should always be remembered, that "the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof," and that he has a right to dispose of it among the children of men according to his own sovereign pleasure.

Nations, as well as persons, have their respective rights in distinction from one another; but neither nations nor persons have rights paramount to that of the supreme Proprietor. Ho may raise up one nation or one man, and put down another, as his wisdom shall see best; and none has authority to arraign his justice. He has a right to dispose of men's lives, as well as of their properties. And in respect of his justice, it makes no difference, whether a nation doomed to ruin be destroyed by diseases, by storms, by earthquakes, or by war; and whether they be consumed in fifty years or in five; for if God may take away men's lives, (and we see, he does take them away) he may employ his own instruments, and choose his own time. If the Jews had a warrant from God to execute his purpose against those nations, and knew the warrant

was from him, they were bound to obey. That God can speak to men, and make them know who speaks, and what he says, none, who believe his perfect wisdom and power, will deny. That God spake to Moses, and by him to the Jews, requiring them to dispossess those nations and occupy their land, was made manifest by a series of conspicuous and indubitable miracles.

It should be observed, secondly, that there is a great difference between'a warrant for a particular transaction, and a law for a general rule of conduct. The chief magistrate of a state may give a warrant to an officer to execute a criminal; but the supreme authority never makes a law, empowering that officer to execute every man whom he wishes to remove, God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son; and had not the command been recalled, the patriarch had a warrant to proceed; for he knew that God had a right to take the life of this son in such time, and by such means, as he pleased. But God has never made a law authorising parents to destroy their children at their own plea


So God gave a special warrant to the Jews to conquer and possess a particular country; but he gave them no standing law to conquer every country, which they might wish to possess. And for nations, from this particular warrant, to infer a right to exterminate other nations, would be as absurd, as if a sheriff, from his warrant to execute a certain criminal, should conclude, he had a right to hang all whom he called criminals.

It should be considered, thirdly, that those nations were in such

a depraved state, that they could no longer subsist in their national capacity. God waited upon them, till "their iniquities were full, and their land spewed them out." If it be ever just for God to destroy a people for their wickedness, it must have been just in this case. They had renounced the true God, and introduced the most abominable and barbarous idolatries. They sacrificed their children to the idols, which they had made; they practised every species of magic and witchcraft, that imagination could devise, or evil spirits suggest; they abandoned themselves to the grossest impurities, and refrained from no kind of wickedness, which their depraved hearts could contrive. They were in a state of almost perpetual warfare among themselves, and had lately expelled one of their own nations. It was a mercy to the world and to posterity, that such a people should be subdued, many of the adults destroyed, and the remainder brought under a better government.

Let it be considered, fourthly, that for 40 years, they were admonished to repent and reform. God had demonstrated his unity, supremacy, and glory by a great variety of stupendous works before the people of Israel. These works were known to the nations of Canaan; for the Jews, during their abode in the wilderness, were near, and sometimes on the borders of Canaan. Rahab says to the Jewish spies, "Your terror is fallen upon us, and all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you; for we have heard how the Lord dried up the red sea, when ye came out of Egypt,

« AnteriorContinua »