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ON DIFFUSING THE SCRIPTURES
AMONG THE POOR.
To the Editor.
SIR, BEING convinced that the Holy Scriptures are adapted to instruct, improve, and comfort my fellow-creatures, I feel a growing anxiety that the knowledge of these inspired records, be diffused as far as possible. In this anxiety, I am persuaded, Christians, both at home and abroad, participate. Their hearts desire and prayer to God, is, that his way may be made known upon earth; his saving health among all nations.
As an individual, I have often wished for information relative to the opportunities, which the inhabitants of this and other Christian countries have, of obtaining the Holy Scriptures. Hitherto, I have been unable to procure a statement at once extensive and definite; yet I apprehend, that, were the statement before me, the distribution of the Scriptures would strike me as lamentably partial. Several, with whom I converse, have united in this sentiment, remarking, at the same time, that if a mass of facts, demonstrating the scarcity of Bibles, could be submitted to the public, contributions for remedying the evil would pour in to a large amount.
They are, with myself, confident, that, even in our own country, much is necessary to be done; so much indeed, that the widest co-operation ought earnestly to be solicited. But they suggest the expediency of applying, first, for a detail of authenticated circumstances, tending to make this conviction general through the nation.
Lest the subject should expire in vain regrets, I take the liberty of requesting you to admit into your Miscellany this notice of it, together with the subjoined Queries; by which, it is hoped, the labour of those who are desirous to countenance this design will be facilitated.
It is difficult to propose such queries as shall be everywhere suitable, and everywhere sufficient. I have selected those which, on the whole, appeared most eligible. Ministers and other gentlemen may frame their answers as they judge proper. As for the manner of gaining intelligence, it must be left to their own direction: -some will enquire in charity-schools, — some among large assemblies of workmen,· some may be disposed to visit, with this object in view, a whole district from house to house.
1. Can the poor, in your neighbourhood, generally read? 2. To what extent are they furnished with the Holy Scriptures?
3. Do they discover a solicitude to obtain them?
4. What has already been done toward supplying this want?
5. Are these persons in your neighbourhood willing further to encourage the distribution of the Holy Scriptures, in our own and in foreign languages?
Any private communications, with real signatures, will be thankfully received at the printing-office of Mr. Bensley, Boltcourt, Fleet-street, London,
London, May 19, 1803.
by, yours respectfully,
Though the following Anecdote be not perfectly new, the moral is so excellent, that we cannot refuse the request of our correspondent, or its
It is written of a gentleman who died very suddenly, that his Jester ran to the other servants, and having told them that their master was dead, he, with much gravity, added, "There! and where is he gone?" The servants replied, Why, he is gone to Heaven, to be sure." "No," said the Jester; "he is not gone to Heaven I am certain." The servants, with much warmth, asked, How he knew that his master was not gone to Heaven? The Jester then replied, "Because Heaven is a great way off, and I never knew my master take a long journey in my life, but he always talked of it some time before-hand, and also made preparation for it; but I never heard him talk about Heaven, nor ever saw him making preparation for death; and, therefore, I am sure he is not gone to Heaven." R. R.
1. WHAT is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost? and what is the meaning of Mark iii. 28, 29?
2. What is the import of those words, John vi. 1, 3 : – "The words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are L. L. N.
3. A Backslider anxiously enquires the meaning of that awful passage Heb, vi. 4—6,
THE DANGERS AND PRIVILEGES OF
THE CHRISTIA N.
The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble.- David.
IT is the distinguishing spirit of our holy religion, that it allures not its disciples with the hopes of exemption from the cares and troubles of humanity. This is the declaration of its divine Author himself, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me." The path to glory is not strewed with flowers. The candidate for the honours that are above, has many obstacles to surpass, many oppositions to encounter, many battles to fight, before he is put in possession of his heavenly reward. His journey through life is a warfare. The moment he commences Christian he enters the lists with a numerous and formidable host of enemies. With these he must dispute every inch of his ground; and over these he must be made victorious before he is crowned with immortal laurel.
Various are the attacks which the Christian endures against his religious life. The world, from without, either smiles to win him to his ruin, or frowns to intimidate and shake him from his faith; while the corrupt principle within, still latent in his bosom, is continually warring against the law of his mind, and urging him to do violence to his conscience and his peace. Descended from a fallen parent, the best of men are forced to acknowledge the influence of an evil bias, which, though not predominant, is always sufficient to shew the danger of relaxing in vigilance and activity. The apostle to the Gentiles himself found occasion to lament the power of this secret enemy; while he professes his delight in the law of God, after the inward man, he adds this acknowledgement: "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members."
This law of his members, of which the Christian complains, is the most fertile source of his griefs through the whole of his probationary state. It is this which impels to evil, when his better principles incline to good; it is this which points the darts of the wicked one, which gilds the baits of an enticing world, and gives the formidable aspect to the contempt and tortures of persecution. Had the enemy of souls no secret agent within to second his designs, the heart would be in much less danger of surprize from temptations without. But this unholy principle acts the part of a traitor, maintains a secret correspondence with external things, strengthens the virulence of such as have any tendency to hurt the spiritual interest, and converts many XI. 1I h .
that are of themselves innocent and good, into incentives to evil.
The Christian is a professed subject of the King of Heaven: he has sworn allegiance to his government; and the tenor of his oath is this, "Whom have I in the Heavens but thee? and there is none on earth that I desire besides thee!" But when attacked by the cares and crosses of life, how often is he inlined to withdraw from his allegiance! His unrenewed passions and affections weave a film over the eyes of his mind, and hide from his view the wisdom and goodness of God in all that concerns him. In this state the Christian is most unhappy. It is then chiefly he is induced to give to the road he travels that melancholy name, a Vale of Tears. The tempter, ever watchful for his halting, seizes his opportunity, employs all his cunning and his force to destroy his faith. Evil suggestions, doubts, and fears, are thrown in to harass his soul. The world joins the enemy, and assumes every trying shape to corrupt his principles, and break off his hold of Heaven. Pleasure, in her most engaging forms, and arrayed in her gayest ornaments, meets him in his way; she smiles, she flatters, and caresses: she represents the path of virtue as rugged and unpleasant, and her own as the easiest road to happiness. She says, "I have peace-offerings with me; this day have I paid my vows, there'fore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face; and I have found thee."-Should the attempts of Pleasure fail of their wicked purposes, the world wears another aspect. Tyranny and Persecution will invade with frowns, menaces, and deaths. Thro' much tribulation must the followers of Christ enter into the kingdom of God. In this they experience the truth of their Master's prediction: "Because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore, the world hateth you. Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he docth God service."
What then is the man of piety to do? Surrounded as he is with temptations and terrors, is he left defenceless? Has he no means of resistance? Must he fall an easy prey to the enemy of his soul? No; for though, on a review of all his distresses, he may exclaim,-" Lord! how are they increased that trouble me! inany are they which rise up against me!" yet he can add, with triumph, But thou, O Lord, art a Shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of my head!" They that be with the Christian are more than they that be against him. The God whom he serves has provided a defence against every attack; an antidote against every evil.
The Christian indeed is sent like a lamb among wolves, but he is protected by a Shepherd who never forsakes him, who is more than equal to all his enemies. He is sent on a warfare, but not at his own charges. God has established an armoury, and furnished it gratuitously with every useful weapop: weapons,
all of divine workmanship; " not carnal, but mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." An apostle, who was well acquainted with the efficacy of these weapons, thus admirably describes them: "Wherefore, take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breast-plate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God." Thus clad, the Christian can do all things. Well instructed in the truths of the gospel, he will be prepared' to answer the sophistry of the wicked, or calm the doubts and fears suggested to his mind by the enemy of his peace. His heart relying on the righteousness of Christ, no weapon formed against him can prosper. Living on the mild and benevolent principles of the gospel, he will find his ways productive of real pleasantness, and his paths of holy peace. Salvation procured by his divine Captain, will defend his head in all times of danger; and is word will prove a powerful sword in his hand, to clear his way through all the hosts of the Devil. Above all, his faith, so long as it is used, will prevail. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith, who, after enduring the cross, despising the shame, is set down at the right hand of the throne of God," he is animated to every duty, and prepared for every opposition. Let not the Christian, therefore, abandon the shield of faith. To what is the efficacy of faith inadequate? Through faith, the saints of old "subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of the aliens!
Thus we see the follower of Christ has the greatest cause of any to indulge cheerfulness of heart and countenance. However multiplied his troubles, the Lord delivers him out of them all. In the midst of his severest trials, he has a consolation to which the world is a stranger. In taking up his cross and following Christ, he wenounces the world; but he becomes an heir of the kingdom of Heaven. He incurs the hatred of a wicked 'generation; but shares in the love of God. He denies himself the tainted pleasures of time; but obtains a title to the fountain of the sublimest joys and pleasures for evermore.
If such are his present advantages, and such his hopes of future bliss, how strong are the inducements of the Christian to perseverance of conduct! how great his encouragements to fortitude of mind!