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A CANDID HINT.
421 and rising generation, I am induced, through the inedium of your widely-extended and useful Publication, to offer a hint to those fastidious, but, it inay be pious individuals, who, without the slightest idea of consequences, have weakened, if not totally frustrated the design of some well-meant discourse, by an ill-timed sarcasm on the pious messenger, who might not, it is true, have been taught at the feet of Gamaliel, nor been accomplished, like Moses, in all the learning of the Egyptians; but yet who had imbibed the Spirit of Jesus, and been instructed in the mystery of godliness, I refer particularly to those severe censures, which are often passed on the defective composition of a Sermon, the inelegant expressions, the tone of voice used in the delivery; or the attitude, which owing to a certain want of sense of manners, were considered striking defects, and unpardonable errors.
With pleasure I have observed the attention of some young person, while some weighty truth has passed the lips of the preacher; and the silent tear which it called forth, augured some happy result; but it may be the text of Scripture which was brought forward as an illustration, was misquoted, though not misapplied. But when the solemnity was over, the merits and defects of the sermon were to be canvassed; and while the pious minister, in the closet of retirement, sought aid from above to render his embassy useful rather than pleasing, and successful than entertaining, the desires of his heart have failed to be realized, for want of that human knowledge, which too frequently“ puffeth up." I am, Mr. Editor, far from considering pulpit inaccuracies trivial defects ; nor am I an apologist for that slovenly kind of preaching, which seems to have no aim to inform the judgment, enlighten the understanding, or regulate the renewed taste. I deem these things essential, combined with an humble aim to change the heart, and produce holiness in the life and conversation; but my desire is merely to suggest a hint to those who, it may be, were displeased with the structure, rather than the substance of the discourse,--and disgusted with the manner, rather than the matter of the serinon, and to beg thein not to dwell on those defects or omissions in the company of the young, to the neglect of the weighty and important truths which had been inculcated. Where it may be necessary to censure, I would advise to reserve this till the excellencies have been brought under review, and the leading design maturely considered. Young persons are too apt to find plausible excuses for remaining uninterested and unimpressed under the most awakening discourses ; and infinitely too ready to find excuses, to resist a hearty and determined reception of the gospel; but let not those who have their best interest most at heart, be those who place a stumbling-block in their way. Pride in young ntinds is very prevailing and insinuating; and that discourse
which comes under the imputation of poor and insipid, by thosc in reputation for wisdom and honour, would, without much remorse, be wholly discarded from the mind, and the reinark be made as a sanction før the oblivion. But let every suitable Christian apology be granted, when the discourse may have been less lively or interesting than on some other occasions. Particularly I would recominend that this Christian candour should be extended to a stranget, accidentally called to dispense the word of life to us; and that hasty conclusions should not be drawn from an occasional sermon, when perhaps only want of information with respect to circumstances, was the ground of the preacher's error.
A SINCERE FRIEND.
AFFECTIONS PLACED ON THINGS ABOVE:
A LETTER FROM A YOUNG MAN TO HIS FRIEND,
WHO HAD LATELY PURCHASED AN ESTATE.
My Dear Friend,
Glasgow, May 6, 1811. ACCORDING to a promise which I made to you, some time ago, to open an epistolary correspondence, I think it now high time to break off from my long silence, and endeavour to fulfil my engagement. And what apology can I make for being so dilatory! Indeed, I have nothing to offer in the vin. dication of my conduct, but humbly confess my transgression, and implore forgiveness. I was extremely happy, the last time i was in the country, to find you in good health and high spirits, making many improvements on your estate. I wish you ability to go on; and may success attend all your endeavours ! But let us beware of setting our hearts on any sublunary enjoyment: rather let us set them on things above, where Christ sitteth at God's right hand. I trust your resolution continues to be that of the venerable Saint of old : 'Whatsoever others do, as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.' Let us all seek, that we may be enabled with power from on high, to perform our vows to our God, and without hesitation appear on his side and espouse his cause when duty calls us to the field; nor be scared out of our best hopes and strongest convictions by the world's dread laugh. Christians, you know, in primitive ages, and even in later times, had the principles of the gospel so fastened in their minds, and twisted about their hearts, that some reasoning or sophistry was then necessary to discredit their authority and abate their influence. The scales are now however so turned with us, that the friends of our holy Religion seem no longer bold in her cause; but eye one another as soldiers who desert their colours in the day of
AFFECTIONS PLACED.ON THINGS ABOVE. for the
423 are marked, and even scouted in some companies th associates in fraud; whose schemes are blown upon, and wiose characters are detected and exposed. Thus, to do public homage to the God of our fathers, to worship him avowedly who made the heavens and the earth, and to love and honour his Son, who redeemed oursouls from destruction, is even thought in this fastidious age to stand in need of some apology. But I protest, in the name of Christianity, against this dastardly conspiracy of her enemies, whose passions are interested in descrying her beauty and excellency; and appeal to those who know who she iş, and what she can do, who have actually made the experiment, and whu by substantiating the terms she prescribes, are now in full possession of all her bless. ings and enjoyments. Would you see her as she practically exists, as she is delineated in action, in her probation and perfection, as tried and triumphant - lift up your eyes to the habitations of holiness, when her divine empire is for ever esta, blished and realized. Do you ask who those splendid multitudes of all kindreds, and nations, and languages are, whe fill the celestial mansions, and are clothed in white robes, with crowns of glory on their heads, palms of victory in their hands, and the high praises of God in their mouths; these are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; therefore are they before the throne of their God. Indeed, Şir, it will not be easy to find, in the whole book of God, a more finished picture of true Christians than in these words: It tells us whence they come, who they are, what they do, and whither they go. The most consumate safety and felicity, all that divine benignity can give, and their immortal capacities receive, is the necessary result of their principles, their duties, their trials, and their triumphs. But what an awful disappointment awaits the present profession of religion in our times! a little external attention is, in the general opinion, all that the gospel requires; they think the work is done, their salvation effected, heaven obtained, and all dangerat an end, by only deigning once a week to associate with the disciples of Jesus, aš if that could renew their natures, reduce their unruly appetites, rectify their vicious passions, sanctify their tempers, sprinkle their consciences from dead works, and render their lives both holy and happy! Who does not commiserate and bewail the strange infatuation of such as presume that these gracious effects are produced by the stated repetition of words operating on their minds like a charm : as well may we expect the blind to reach their destination without a guide, or a ship regularly to perform her voyage, by swimming down the stream at random, and yielding implicitly to wind and tide, as that we can imbibe the spirit, receive the comforts, or realize the promises of the gospel, by living the same carnal and
loose lives, committing the same fashionable vices, zid, by
thout the same base maxims, and exhibiting the same licei. manners as others do about us.
How differently does the true Christian act from the nominal professor! Happy they for whom the world has no charm, which can detach them from their best interest! Thou, O Teacher of righteousness, hast said, “ Lay not up to yourselves treasures upon earth.” What! says the worldly man, not save the surplus of well-earned gain, get what we lawfully can; keep with care what we obtain with difficulty ; rise by honest industry, to wealth and independence; improve our circumstances or our rank, by labour or sagacity; make fortunes in lucrative situations, or secure pensions for the future from the profits of the present! All this may be just, may be expedient, may be laudable, when our prior obligations of duty, of humanity, of benevolence, as men, as Christians, as masters, as friends, as citizens of the world at large, are faithfully discharged.
Whatever a kind Providence, by fruitful seasons or prosperous traffic, affords beyond the reasonable demands of competence and comfort, is not ours but God's; and to appropriate any share of it for gratifying the feverish desires of avarice, or swelling the pomp of profusion, while one claim of justice or beueficence remains unsatisfied, is a gross prostitution of divine bounty, and sacrilege against the high commands of Heaven. However unwelcome this mortifying doctrinę may sound in the ears of such as are just setting out in life, amidst circumstances which promise a full tide of prosperity; or in theirs who are already giddy by their own success and callous to others misfortunes, defective in all the amiable duties of humanity, and dupes of a false consequence, which makes them little in proportion as they would be great; or even in theirs whom riches, by the cares of getting, keeping, and relinquishing, make as miserable as they are full
, as poor as they are wealthy, and as ungrateful to God as he has been kind to them; or in all theirs, whoever they are, wliose minds the god of this world hath blinded, that they may believe a lie,- it is a doctrine which, nevertheless, the great God has sent his Son to publish and authenticate for our own instruction and improvement; which Jesus, the blessed Author and Finisher of our faith, exemplified in his life, and ratified by his death ; which all the best of men, in the best of times, have believed, avowed, and taught; and which is still stamped by the firm conviction of the few who glory in the Cross of Christ, who have no confidence in the flesh, and to whom the world has been crucified as they are to the world : bred in his school, and transformed into his image, who hath called them froin darkness to light: they deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, set their affections on things above, and not on things
below : value time only as preparatory to eternity, and lay up for themselves treasures in Heaven. May we all embrace the exhortation as a rule of life, which will make us wise unto salvation! It is the admonition of a friend who will not deceive; the advice of a physician who is able, and ready, and happy to save; it comes from an authority which cannot be
questioned; appeals to an experiment which all mankind have made; and is sanctioned by whatever is solemn or alluring, terrible or delightful, interesting or valuable, in a spiritual and everlasting world.
For all these reasonings, and all that reason and religion can urge, if riches increase, set not your heart on them; keep aloof from whatever would solicit or win your affections, but God and a good conscience. Think on the rich fool in the gospel, and take warning from his destiny. Open your heart to the exhortation, and lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where 'neither moth nor rust do corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. For what will all these things you are so proud and elated with, so anxious about, so loth to leave, and yet so unable to keep, avail, when the appetites wbich they have created and kept alive are extinct! But. after putting your patience to so long a trial, I must not aggravate my prolixity by apologizing for it.
Please, make my respectful compliments to my uncle and my cousin. Hoping to hear from you soon, I shall take my leave of you for the present; and may the good-will of Him that dwelt in the bush, and the love of Himn that hung on the cross, be ever with your spirit, is the sincere wish of him who is,
ANECDOTE OF MR. HERVEY.
Tuis good man was not less distinguished for his private than for his public exertions, in the cause of religion. The following little anecdote is highly characteristic, and holds up an example for Christians, and especially for ministers, to imitate. Mr. Hervey’s constitution, which never was strong, during the concluding years of his life was in a very shattered state. It was then his constant practice to take a daily airing on horseback when the weather would permit. In the subordinate care of his health he did not forget his business of doing good, when he met with young persons in these excursions. He used to engage them in religious conversation; and in a manner peculiarly prepossessing, urged them to attend to the one thing needful: when the perceived a disposition to at. tend to religion, he encouraged it by the gift of Bibles and other religie ous books. The divine blessing, in repeated instances, rested on his exertions, and his casual interviews were the means of making more than one seriously thoughtful, permanently religious. One of the seals of Ms.