« AnteriorContinua »
they have any thing of that pure, religion, are new affections; afholy love, which reigned in the sections of a different kind from Messiah? Is it their first desire any which the unrenewed exerand prayer, as it was his, that cise ; and not only of a different God may be glorified in the king- kind, but arising from a different dom of grace? Have they any source. Self love, operated upon thing of his humility, piety, and by the fear of punishment and heavenly inindedness; his ready the hope of happiness, often ocand delightful obedience; his casions
of exercises, unreserved submission to the di- which are mistaken for experivine will; his silent meekness mental religion. But in many under reproach and cruelty ; and passages of scripture it is plainly his tender mercy and forgiveness affirmed or implied, that the oritoward his enemies? In short, gin of religion is not to be found does it appear, that their religion in any power or principle of was learned from the amiable man, but in the gracious agency pattern of him, who was meek of God. The mind of man is and lowly in heart? If it be so, the subject of religion, and his we may safely conclude, that rational faculties are all active in their experience is tbe effect of it. But, for its origin, or cause,
For neither the we must look to the Spirit of wicked one, nor the natural pas- God. What, then, shall we sions of the heart will ever toler- think of those religious affecate, much less produce a relig. tions, however boasted of by ion, which is stamped with the some, which can be easily aclovely character of Christ. Now counted for, without supposing if this be the sure standard, how any supernatural agency, and many things, sometimes called are, indeed, nothing but a particexperimental piety, must be ular modification of the princiwholly set aside? How many ples of our corrupt nature? If reputed conversions must be any religion, founded on self considered, as only a turning love, or springing from it, would from one form of wickedness to correspond with the demands of another? Is spiritual pride, a the gospel, or answer the pur forward, pompous, self-righteous poses of salvation ; what need zeal, noisy speaking, violent bod- would there be of the renewing ily exercise, or any other inde- of the Holy Ghost; of being quickcency, an ingredient in that relig, ened, or raised from the dead; ion, which has the blessed Jesus of being wrought upon by divine for its model ?
power; in short, of being born, I mention as another charac- not of blood, nor of the will of the teristic of true religion, that it flesh, nor of the will of man, but implies a great and universal of God? change of heart.
I add one more remark. Gen. posing this, the language of in- uine religion proceeds from the spiration appears unmeaning and real temher of the heart, and not absurd, or extravagant and de- from the warmth of the passions. lusive; as inight be easily shown The Israelites, after having es. by referring to particulars. The caped their merciless pursuers, affections, which constitute true who were drowned in the Red
Sea, and on other extraordinary retirement, when the passions occasions, united in praising God, are all serene, when the heart, and appeared to have a very fervent freed from restraint, acts itself, piety. But from what followed and nothing, but the unchangeit is evident, that their religious able objects of religion, operate affections, instead of having a as motives ; in such quiet seaconnexion with the real temper sons, believers are alive to God. of their hearts, were merely the Religion exerts its gentle power working of their passions, excit- in their souls, when sensible obed by extraordinary
extraordinary events. jects make the least impression. Saul was melted by the amiable It mingles with their meditaconduct of David, and appeared tions in solitude, with their conto have benevolent and pious versation in company, with their emotions. But his emotions diligence in business, and with were the effect of outward cir. the tranquil, silent enjoyments cumstances operating upon his of domestic life.
Thus it appassions, his heart still remain- pears, that their religion is a during as envious and murderous as able principle, a temper of the ever. That religion, which is soul, a law in their minds, written produced by the sudden heat of and engraven on their hearts. If, the passions, is transient as the then, we would form a correct morning cloud and early dew. judgment of experimental religBut true religion, being seated ion in any particular instances, in the heart, is uniform and per- we must not think it sufficient to manent, like the natural affec. observe its features and operations. In consequence of some tions in the first warmth of affecoccasional excitement a person tion, or in any time of incidental may feel a few kind emotions to animation. Occasional exciteward those, against whom he in- ments must pass away, sudden dulges habitual malice. But emotions subside, and the mind when that occasional excitement come down to its own proper of tender feeling subsides, his state, before men will feel and malice returns. But the kind act according to their real char. emotions of a parent toward his acter. Watch, then, therefore, children depend not on the ope- till you have opportunity to see, ration of extraordinary causes whether their religion be a wind upon his passions, but flow from which, in passing, gives motion the real temper of his heart. to the light, airy things on the Parental love continues to ope- surface of the soul, or that water rate, when bis mind is in the which Christ gives, which bemost tranquil state.
It is so
comes an unfailing fountain in with true piety in the soul. It believers, springing up to everdepends not on the solemnity of lasting life. Possibly, when this the Sabbath, nor on the warmth gust of passion ceases, and the of a religious meeting, nor on mind setties into its resting the influence of striking occur- place, the religion, which promrences, nor on any unusual im- ised so fairly a few weeks or pulse whatsoever ; although months ago, will be like the seed these may occasion its higher falling upon stony places, which exercises. In seasons of calm suddenly springs up, but having Yol. III. No. 9.
no root, as suddenly withers seriously considered, and faith
But if, in any persons, a fully applied. Forget them not religion, appearing to be con- in the important work of self exstituted of passionate emotions, amination, and in attending to should prove more lasting ; then the qualifications of those, who watch its motions and its prog- wish to be admitted to your holy ress. See whether it be a bright communion, and of those, who meteor carried about in the air, offer themselves as candidates for or a star in the firmament of the gospel ministry. Forget heaven. See whether the pas- them not when forming a judgsions, which the reputed con- ment of revivals of religion, and verts display, are those which of the various descriptions of the gospel sanctions ; whether conversion and Christian piety, they partake of the meekness which you hear from the sacred and gentleness of Christ, or of desk. Be not deceived by the ostentation and proud confi- counterfeit appearances ; be not dence of the Pharisees ; and misguided by the ingenuity of whether it appear, from their error. Diligently use all your uniform conduct, that their heart advantages, as children of the is interested as well, as their pas- light, and humbly remember sions warmed.
your dignity, as the ground and Churches of Christ, it is hoped pillar of the truth, and the reposthat the foregoing remarks arising itory of evangelical religion. from a deep concern for your
PASTOR peace and prosperity, will be
Messrs Editors, The Copy of a Letter from the celebrated Dr. Isaac Watts to Mad
am Sewall, upon the death of her children, having lately fallen in. to my hands, I have supposed it worthy of publication in your very useful work, as the sentiments are singularly calculated to give instruction and consolation to Christian parents, under the loss of offspring
7 November, 1728. Yesterday, from Mr. Sewall's directed to you, which might hand, I received the favour of carry in it some balm for an afseveral letters from my friends flicted spirit. By his informa. in New England, and a particu- tion I find, I am not an utter lar account of that sharp and sur- stranger to your family and kinprising stroke of Providence, dred. Mr. Lee, your venerable that has made a painful and last- grandfather, was predecessor to ing wound in your soul. He Mr. Thomas Rowe, my honour. desired a letter from my hand, ed tutor, and once my pastor in
my younger years.
Mr. Pea- God taken them from your arms? cock, who married your eldest And had not you given them to aunt, was my intimate friend. God before ?, Had you not deMrs. Bishop and Mrs. Wirley voted them to him in baptism?
both my acquaintance, Are you displeased that God calls though my long illness, and for his own? Was not your heart my absence from London, has sincere in the resignation of them made me a stranger to their pos- to him? Show then, Madam, terity, whom I knew when the sincerity of your heart in children. But now I know not leaving them in the hand of God. who of them are living or where. Do you say, they are lost ? Not Dr. Cotton Mather, your late out of God's sight and God's father-in-law, was my yearly world, though they are gone out of correspondent, and I lament the our sight and our world. “ ALL loss of him. But the loss you live to God.” You may hope have sustained is of a tenderer the spreading covenant of grace and more distressing kind. Yet has sheltered them from the seclet us see, whether there are not ond death. They live, though sufficient springs of consolation, not with you. flowing all around you, to allay Are you ready to complain, the smart of so sharp a sorrow. you have brought forth for the And may the Lord open your grave ? It may be so, but not in eyes, as he did the eyes of Hagar vain. Is. Ixv. 25. “ They shall in the wilderness, to espy the not labour in vain, nor bring forth spring of water, when she was for trouble ; (i. e. for sorrow dying with thirst, and her child without hope) for they are the over against her ready to ex- seed of the blessed of the Lord, and pire. Gen. xxi. 19.
their offspring with them.” This Have you lost two lovely chil- has been a sweet text to many a dren ? Did you make them your mother, when their children are idols? If you did, God has saved called away betimes. And the you from idolatry. If you did prophet Jeremy, ch.xxxi. 15, 17. not, you have your God still, and has very comfortable words to a creature cannot be miserable, allay the same sorrows. Did who has a God. The little you please yourself in what com. words “ My God” have infinite- forts you might have derived more sweetness than “my sons" from them in maturer years ? or “ my daughters." Were they But, Madam, do you consider very desirable blessings? Your sufficiently, that God has taken God calls you to the nobler sacri- them away from the evil to come, fice. Can you give up these to him and hid them in the grave from at his call? So was Isaac, when the prevailing and mischievous Abraham was required to part with temptations of a degenerate age ? him at God's altar.
My brother's wife in London has pot a daughter of Abraham ? buried 7 or 8 children, and aThen imitate his faith, his self mong them all her sons. This denial, his obedience, and make thought has reconciled her to your evidences of such a spirit- the providence of God, that the ual relation to him shine bright- temptations of young men in this er on this solemn occasion. Has age are so exceedingly great, and
she has seen so many of the that I even blush to send what I young gentlemen of her ac- have writ; yet since the narrow. quaintance so shamefully degen- ness of my paper has excluded erate, that she wipes her tears two or three thoughts, which for the sons she has buried, and may not be impertinent or usecomposes her soul to patience less on this mournful occasion, I and thankfulness, with one only will insert them here. You know daughter remaining. Perhaps Madam, the great and blessed God has by this stroke prevented God had but one Son, and he a thousand unknown sorrows. gave him up a sacrifice, and deAre your sons dead ? But are all voted him to a bloody death out your mercies dead 100? A wor- of love to such sinners as you thy husband is a living comfort ; and I. Can you shew your and may God preserve and re- gratitude to God in a more evistore him to you with joy! dent and acceptable manner, than Food, raiment, safety, peace, lib- by willingly resigning your sons erty of religion, access
to him at the call of his provimercy seat, hope of heaven ; all dence? This act of willing rethese are daily matters of thank- signation turns a painful affliction fulness. Good Madam, let not one into a holy sacrifice. Are the sorrow bury them all. Show that two dearest things taken from you are a Christian by making it the heart of a mother? Then to appear, that religion has sup- may you ever set so much the ports in it which the world doch looser to this world, and you have not know. What can a poor world- the fewer dangerous attachments ling do, but mourn over earthiy to this life. It is a happiness for blessings de parted, and gone
a Christian not to have the heart down with them comfortless to strings tied too fast to any thing the grave? But methinks a beneath God and heaven. HapChristian should lift up his head, py is the soul, who is ready to as partaking of higher hopes.
remove at the divine summons. May the blessed Spirit be your The fewer engagments we have comforter, Madam. Endeavour on earth, the more we may to employ yourself in some bu- live above, and have our thoughts siness or amusement of life con- more fixed on things divine and tinually, lest a solitary and inac- heavenly. May this painful tive frame of mind tempt you
stroke be thus sanctified, and to sit brooding over your sor- lead you nearer to God. rows, and nurse them to a dan
I. W. gerous size. Turn your thoughts often to the brighter scenes of heaven and the resurrection.
The following Extract from M. Forgive the freedom of a stran
Massillon's Sermon on MINger, Madam, who desires to be
ZEAL” is the humble and faithful servant
mended to the serious and atten. of Christ and souls.
tive perusal of those whom it Isaac Watts.
may concern. p. s. Madam, you have so many HAVE not ministers, animatexcellent comforters around yoù ed with the Spirit of God, expe