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society, to observe the minuter shades of character. Possessing the skill which you will acquire by practice, you will be able so to discriminate as, in effect, to say to each individual transgressor, "Thou art the man ;" and may you not hope, by the divine blessing following means so well adapted to the purpose, that the self-convicted sinner may look on Him whom he has pierced, and mourn.
There is still another subject on which I intended to have made a few observations-choice of friends, but the length of my letter has so far exceeded my design, and I have already so greatly trespassed on your patience, I will add only that I am, Your affectionate ——, VIGIL.
ON THE WANT OF RELIGIOUS JOY IN PROFESSORS.
ments at public meetings and visits to
May I venture to touch on another topic. Can it be possible? Yes, possibly it may; the connections you are now forming may render that, and some other cautions not unseasonable. I will then risk giving you a moment's pain, by suggesting a caution to avoid introducing yourself, or the mention of your own experience as such. Is it not rather remarkable that ministers should consider themselves as entitled to an exemption from the rule, which restrains all other public speakers from speaking of themselves? I confess I should not wish a minister to go beyond the expression of such a wish for the prayers of his hearers, as Saurin sometimes introduces in the beginning of his sermons, or a pious wish in behalf of those hearers; I suppose some preachers do it with a view to convince and to impress. I doubt whether it has this effect upon any but the very ignorant, and of its utility in these cases I greatly doubt. Is there no danger of its leading them to make a minister's experience a standard for their own, instead of comparing their views, their principles, and their conduct, with the representations and re-versally fall incomparably short of their quirements of the inspired writings. forefathers of the primitive age in religious consolation, and that we now know little or nothing of rejoicing with joy unspeak
"What reason can be assigned that Christians of the present day almost uni
I fear your present views and feelings will lead you to be much too vague and general in your preaching. Such preach-able and full of glory? And, if this deing passes over the mind like oil over ficiency of comfort and joy be not owing to marble, it leaves scarcely a trace; the some advantages which the first Christians ignorant are not informed, the careless enjoyed, but which we are denied—how is are not roused, the slothful are not sti- the evil likely to be remedied?" mulated, no evil passion is subdued, no pious affection excited. The hearers are gently lulled into a persuasion that all is well. In the description of the guilty they never recognize themselves, they are general, they are intended to suit all transgressors; but they reach no man's conscience, for want of an accurate and discriminating description, and therefore every sinner escapes with impunity. Study human nature as described in the historic part of Holy Writ; there is no history in which it can be studied to so much advantage, because there the motives of actions are assigned with unerring certainty; but as the habits and manners of different ages and nations diversify appearances, where the principles and motives are the same, it is also worth while, in your intercourse with
To the Editor of the New Evan. Magazine.
I beg leave, through the medium of your Magazine, to make a few observations in reply to the query in your number for March, signed D. V. N. which runs as follows:
The question appears to be founded on the belief, that there really is a deficiency of joy and consolation among Christians of the present day, compared with that possessed by the first believers-and I fear there is too much reason to make the inquiry. But that there are some happy exceptions must needs be granted. For, as Solomon
"the heart knoweth its own bitterness, and a stranger doth not intermeddle with its joy."" Perhaps the best way to ascertain the causes of this falling off in comfort and joy, where it unhappily exists, will be to examine the grounds of consolation in the first Christians. In doing this, recourse must be had to the law and the testimony; for to adopt any other method will tend only to bewilder the mind the more. If we can
indeed come at the truth respecting the
But, as faith works by love, it may also be affirmed, that this consolation was the effect of love to Christ, and
obedience to him. Hence Peter says to the strangers to whom he wrote, "whom having not seen ye love; in whom though now ye see him not, yet, believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." Love to Christ produces obedience to him-as faith calls love into exercise, so love excites to actual obedience to the authority of Christ. As we love him because he first loved us, so if we love him we shall keep his com mandments. And he says, "he that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." In this way the primitive saints are described as acting, and hence their consolation was proportionate. The love of Christ was shed abroad in their hearts, which caused them to abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost-thus the fruits of the Spirit were both love and They had a particular regard to the institutions which Christ had or dained, as means of promoting that growth in grace to which they were called. These institutions being spiri tual, they would only be regarded by such as were spiritual; and consequently in proportion as they attended to them, Christ would be present with them, to manifest himself to them, which manipre-festation constituted the life of their unspeakable joy. They were diligent in the conscientious use of these means. We read of their searching the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so; although they had much less of these means than we have. They had indeed the ministry of the Apostles, and saw the miracles which were wrought by them, which would doubtless tend to confirm them in the faith. And thus by an attention to the means of grace as appointed by Christ himself, and not human tradition, they had this rejoicing in addition to the rest-"the testimony of their consciences; that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not by fleshly wis dom, but by the grace of God, they had their conversation in the world."
Moreover, the circumstances in which they were placed, were overruled by Christ to promote their consolation. He had told them, that in the world they would have tribulation, but he adds, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,"-"I will not leave you comfort less." They were exposed to the whole
ON THE WANT OF RELIGIOUS JOY IN PROFESSORS.
opposition of the unbelieving world-ed, and the love of many waxed cold; they who are born after the flesh, per- and history informs us, that a long secuted those who are born after the period of darkness, delusion, and sin, Spirit. Hence, without are fightings, reigned through the greater part of the within are fears. Sometimes they are world. And the few witnesses for Christ, pressed above measure out of strength, who kept the ordinances as they were insomuch as to despair even of life. But, delivered by Christ and his apostles, says Paul, "God who comforteth them were obliged to hide themselves in unthat are cast down, comforteth us in all frequented places to save their lives. our tribulation; that we may be able to All the rest had nothing but the name of comfort them who are in any trouble Christianity, consequently were wholly with the comfort wherewith we are com- destitute of the joy and consolation I forted of God." They are called to suf- have been considering. And though ferings and death itself for Christ's sake; there has been a great reformation efthey give up all their earthly hopes, fected within the last five hundred years, leaving all they held dear in this world from the time of Wickliffe and others, for the kingdom of God's sake. But as yet much error has been retained, both their sufferings abounded for Christ, in doctrine, and discipline, and practice. their consolations abounded by Christ- The doctrines of grace have been corso that they gloried in tribulation; rupted to the purposes of licentiousness knowing that tribulation worketh pa- on the one hand, or have been denied in tience, and patience experience, and order to establish free-will and human experience hope, and hope maketh not merit on the other. Justification has ashamed, because the love of God is been represented as the effect of a mixshed abroad in the heart by the Holy ture of grace and works, instead of being Ghost given unto us; and this was the entirely and alone by the righteousness comfort which Jesus had promised them. of Christ received by faith; even the How did the consolations of religion righteousness of God, which is unto all, abound and overflow in the hearts of and upon all them that believe. The Paul and Silas, when their feet were fast primitive order and discipline has in in the stocks at Philippi! They sang a great measure been laid aside, and praises to God in the prison. Thus we human tradition set up in its room. say their faith, their love and obedience, The ordinances themselves have been together with their afflictions, all con- changed or greatly corrupted; and contributed to increase their joy and conso-formity to the world has taken place of lation in the Lord. that self-denial, that was so exemplary in the first Christians; in a word, the form of godliness has superceded the power of it, and men are satisfied with a round of duties, while heart religion droops and languishes.
If these things are so, need we wonder at the want of that christian consolation, which is now so rare? As the first believers experienced this joy while they adhered to the rules which Christ had given them, so we have no ground to expect this consolation in a similar measure, except we are found abiding in the doctrine of Christ, and walking in his ways, after the pattern of the first Christians.
Now with regard to the second part of the question, we may observe, that as the Christian doctrine began to spread, false teachers arose to draw away disciples after them; bringing in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them. And in process of time, the churches got corrupted from the simplicity there is in Christ-indeed, the mystery of iniquity began to work in the apostolic age, as we find both from the Epistle to the Galatians, and those to the Thessalonians; and much mischief was done by those Judaizing teachers, who wished to graft the cere monies of Moses on the institutions of Jesus Christ, and then set up another Gospel; which indeed was not another, but a mere human system tending to subvert their souls. And in the time of the latter days of the apostle John, we find several churches had been corrupted by errors. And each succeeding age diminished the number of the faithful followers of the Lamb; iniquity abound
The causes then of this declension of
joy, may be traced to our departure from the simple Gospel order. Nor can we justly argue that the primitive believers had any superior advantages to us as the reason of their joy; for while we allow they had the apostolic ministry among them, and the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost, we have the full
revelation of God, including the whole
the primitive rite of baptism; they in- MR. ARCHIBALD M'LEAN TO MR.
RICHARDS, OF LYNN.
deed continue to be despised, even by those who call themselves Christians; not that they are without defects; but then they are the only people that bear about them the marks of primitive discipline.
MY DEAR SIR,
I have been away from home since the beginning of December last, visiting the brethren in different places, Now, if we return to the purity of the and particularly those at Dundee, who first churches, or if we set them before are now set in order with elders and us as the only pattern in faith and deacons, and have a very promising ap practice, and walk as they walked, we pearance. Upon my return I received 3, the of consolation. Many complain of the last by our brother Thomas Smith. want of spiritual enjoyments, who when am happy that the Treatise on the
urged to duties of which they live in the
his floor; burn up the chaff, wood,
March 19, 1824.
the 200 acco
The account which our brother gives of your present situation gave us all pleasure, and exceeds what we expected. He thinks your people docile and willing to be instructed in primitive Christianity, and was much satisfied in private conversations with several of them. I hope you have now the Lord's supper every first day of the week, as he informs us it was agreed upon before he left It requires courage, zeal, judgment, patience, and perseverance in a teacher to introduce and maintain the scriptural order and union among disciples; and nothing can support him under the various discouragements and oppositions he may meet with, but a firm conviction of the truth and importance of the cause he has espoused; such as makes him willing to stand or fall with it, and abide by all its consequences. From the acCounts brought by our brother, I feel myself more nearly interested in you than ever; and am not without some thought (if the Lord will) of paying you a visit next summer, but cannot fix the precise time.
LETTER FROM MR. M'LEAN.-SABBATH.
Commission is approved of by you, and am much obliged to you for the pains you are at in disposing of it; but it is too much to remit any money till you have received it. You have already sent £1. 11s. 6d. of which I acknowledge the receipt. I have no view to make a single farthing of private gain by it, but only to clear the expense of paper and print. If this can be effected, it may induce me, if the Lord will, to venture another volume into the world, composed of a number of miscellaneous pieces, upon subjects which I look upon as of considerable importance, and which I have lying beside me in manuscript. But this will depend upon the reception which the public give to the present publication.
for no man will affirm that these words are Greek, but only the plain sense of the Greek words in English. But should we prove that the original bears that sense, this will not satisfy; he has another question to put, viz. “Does the word sing always mean to pronounce musically, by modulating the voice, and proportioning the sounds of the syllables to one another, in such a manner as may be harmonious and pleasant to the hearer ?" Such a question, I think, deserves no reply, nor such disputers any answer.
I have also read Mr. Robinson's piece on free communion, but think it a very flimsy vague performance, serving to throw every thing loose, and establish a toleration as to errors of faith, and irregularities in practice, which he endeavours to found upon Rom. xiv. and has the confidence to assert, that the inspired apostle affirms, "that there is no moral turpitude in mental errors, and that the toleration of them is perfectly consistent with the safety of the church, the purity of the faith, and the order of divine worship."
I have perused the Reply to Dan Taylor on Singing, and have not time to make remarks upon it at present; but find it to be a piece of vain jangling and impotent carping, at a very plain commanded duty and branch of divine worship. I know not what Mr. Taylor has advanced upon the duty of irregenerate persons to sing without grace in their hearts; perhaps he has spoken injudiciously upon the point. But when his antagonist bids him prove that the words sung, sang, or sing, are in the
original of Mat. xxvi. 30. Acts xvi. 25. Heb. ii, 12. James v. 13. it is ridiculous;
But I am obliged to break off, praying
Your's most affectionately,
Edinburgh, March 12, 1787.
'Tis Sabbath-season bless'd of hush'd repose!
In inan's too giddy days, that gently draws
The day of triumph when the Saviour rose-
To toil and want a cordial and a balm,
In scorching thirst the sound of waters near,
To weary pilgrim valley green and calm;
As dying saints exult in angel's choral psalm.