Imatges de pÓgina


tion were derived from it. He expected eternal life, as the gift of God through Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of mercy, and the precious promises contained in the Scriptures; and he found that these were matters in which human reason or authority could give him no or satisfaction, If, then, on the one hand, he believed the promises of the Bible, and derived all his consolation from them, how could he disbelieve the threatenings of God contained in the same book, and the repeated declarations of the inspired writers, concerning the degeneracy, of men, the wickedness of the world, and the com-. parative small number of those that are in the way of salvation? Indeed, that kind of charity which we often hear pleaded for, can only be expected, on any grounds of reason, from infidels and sceptics, who, consistent with their principles, may deny that there is an hell, or that the way is broad and thronged which leads to it. But in proportion as these sentiments prevail, the sinews will be cut, of every ef fort to bring sinners into the narrow way of repentance, faith and holiness, in which the word of God requires them to walk, If any, therefore, who would be thought to believe the Bible, compliment their worldly neighbours with unscriptural hopes, or teach them to make light of their danger, it must be owing, (though they may not suspect it) to no small degree of scepticism mixing with their views of Christianity; and it is difficult to conceive how they can derive any actual hope from the gospel, who discard all serious fear, and

who neither lament nor perceive: that state of condemnation, un-. der which (according to the word of God) every one around them lies; unless he be renewed in the spirit of his mind, and believe in Christ Jesus, lead a sober, righteous, and godly life; or, at least, be striving to enter: in at the strait gate of repentance, and conversion to God and holiness. It is observable, that the Scripture seems to know but of two descriptions of men, namely, those who serve God, and those who serve him not :" he who is not the servant of God, but serves some other master, or aims at some other end, lies under the condemnation of the Bible, though he be free from disreputable vices; and whether the multitude around us are in good earnest serving God, or whether they are pursu ing their own selfish ends, let any man of common observation determine.

It must therefore appear to every candid inquirer, that when' religious persons entertain what are called uncharitable opinions' of their neighbours, they are in truth compelled to it by the united evidence of facts and Scripture; and not inclined to it by a mere conceit of their own superiority, or any severity of disposition.

These sentiments may be often observed, as in the present instance, to reside in the same breast, with the most melting compassion, the most expanded benevolence, and the most unequivocal tokens of deep humility.

It is not then an inconsistency to think mankind very corrupt and wicked, and yet to abound in compassion and chari

importance; but, at the same time, he avoided observation, or the affectation of austerity. His meals were early, regular and temperate; and his life retired, when compared with that of most men, in the same situation in society. He was entirely a stranger to the ordinary pleasures and amusements of the world, nor was he accustomed to consult his own ease or indulgence in any particular; yet his cheerfulness was noticed by all who conversed with him, and he habitually appeared well satisfied and happy. His fear of alienating his time from more important uses, rendered him on some occasions, apparently too averse to go into almost any company, But where the motive was so good, and the use made of time thus redeemed, was so worthy of imitation, surely this may be mentioned to his commendation, rather than as a failing, especial ly as it increased only with his advancing years, and evidenced a mind more and more occupied with the thoughts of that blessed world, into which he expected so soon to be removed.

His unaffected and deep humility may be considered as another distinguishing feature of his character. His liberality, his useful industry, and his piety, though he was zealous and abundant in them all, appeared not to himself in any degree meritorious Nay, he was convinced, that in every respect he fell short of his bounden duty, and was entirely dependent on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus for the pardon of his sins, and for final acceptance and felicity. In truth, he estimated his own character and conduct by

comparing them with the strait rule of the divine law, and not with the crooked principles and practices of the world: For he considered himself, and all the race of men, as being naturally in a state of apostasy from God, and exceedingly prone to evil; and he was very earnest in spreading this opinion, as a fundamental doctrine of the Scriptures.

This sentiment, as far as it was applied to himself, will be admitted to have been a source of humility; when applied to others, it is sometimes thought to be of a contrary nature; for a conviction of the general depravity of the human race is frequently imagined to spring either from spiritual pride, or from a harsh and severe disposition.

Now, as the sentiments enter. tained by our late honoured friend, concerning the fallen state of the world around him, undoubtedly made a material part of his character, I shall enter more fully into this circumstance; and the candid reader will then judge, how far this his persuasion was consistent with the general benevolence of his character, which, to some persons, may appear ambiguous or unintelligible,

The main ground, on which this and the rest of his religious opinions were founded, was the plain declarations of the Bible; and to that book, which he studied day by day, endeavouring to imbibe every instruction which it contains, I must refer the reader for a fuller explanation of the subject. Our late friend, I say, implicitly believed the doctrines of it; and conscious of his own demerit, all his hopes of salva

sons never form too harsh a judgment concerning their neighbours. A certain precipitancy of temper, and a vehemence in some points of doctrine, or a contracted acquaintance with some sect or party, often betray them into mistakes of this kind. Yet whilst we censure a seeming want of charity in others, we should be careful not to fall into real uncharitableness ourselves; and not to condemn any religious persons, merely for abiding by the standard of the Bible; lest we should thereby be guilty of condemning the Bible itself, while we are fondly valuing our selves on our superior Christian charity.

But the person of whom we speak, though attached to the church of England, both in respect of its genuine doctrine, worship and discipline, was equally a cordial friend to pious persons amongst the dissenters; but, undoubtedly his most intimate connexions lay amongst those of them who accorded in doctrine with his own church; for this description of them appeared to him more occupied in, and more earnest for, the salvation of the souls of men. His rule of judgment, therefore, ought not to be considered as merely having respect to party; nor was it determined by a minute regard to his own sentiments in the more disputable points; but it was formed on the great outlines of doctrine and practice, which are evidently contained in the Scriptures.

Our attention should next be directed to the composed manner in which this honoured and useful servant of God looked for. ward to the approach of death. Though he was in general healthy, and of a good constitution, yet for a long time before he died, he was sensible that he grew old, and often spake of his nearness to the eternal world with a serenity that shewed such reflections to be familiar, and even satisfactory to him: and when indeed it became evident that the solemn season was arrived, there was no occasion to conceal his real situation from him. He considered his sickness as a summons from his gracious Lord, and calmly prepared to comply with it: being surrounded by his children, and recommending them and theirs to the blessing of that God and Saviour whom he had trusted, and with whom he had walked'; recommending to them his ser vice and salvation, and then calmly resigning his spirit into his gracious hands; he put many in remembrance of dying Jacob, blessing his twelve sons, and then yielding up the ghost:-and the impression made upon the minds of those, who beheld the tender, instructive, solemn, and animating scene, will probably not soon be effaced. "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace."

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(Continued from p. 547. vol. ii.)

In a former number we gave a brief display of the nature and properties of zeal, considered in a personal sense. We will now consider it as a duty we owe to the cause of God, and the best interests of our fellow creatures. 'Here, likewise, it has a very extensive and important sphere.

It will operate in befriending truth and opposing error. We are exhorted by an apostle to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints." And although, in an age of affected and extravagant liberality, like the present, this is but an unwelcome and thankless office, yet no real friend to God, and the souls of men, will reluct from it on that account. Indeed, what is that liberality, so celebrated and so fashionable, but one of the numberless forms in which the divine truth is opposed, and the best interests of immortal men sported with? To represent every kind of religion, as equally safe; and all those, as in the sure road to heaven, who are only faithful to the opinions, which they embrace; this, with many, is the essence and perfection of liberality. But more properly, it is the essence and perfection of absurdity, and of cruelty. And we are called upon, each in our respective spheres, by every motive of Christian benevolence and compassion, as well as of piety, to make a bold and vigorous stand for the truth of God, opposed,

explained away, despised and trampled on, as it is by multitudes. And if we have the true spirit of primitive Christianity, and pious zeal, we shall do it.

But this surely is not all. The interests of practical holiness and virtue demand our faithful and ardent exertions. Nor shall we, if we are consistent Christians, think it enough to be zealous for speculative truth, without a corresponding zeal in favour of the power of godliness, and against every form of licentiousness and vice. The serious and benevolent child of God feels, tenderly feels, for the honour of his heavenly Father, and for the immortal souls of men. When therefore he looks around him, and sees iniquity prevailing, vice triumphing, and multitudes travelling the downward road in peace, he is pained and grieved. Thus we are told that in a day of great degeneracy among God's ancient people, the pious few, who kept their garments undefiled, were found sighing and crying for all the abominations which prevailed in that guilty land. And they were mercifully distinguished and spared in a day of general desolation and destruction. If we have any thing of the spirit of these holy and happy men, we shall mourn over the sins of the time. And animated with zeal for God and his cause, we shall strenuously exert ourselves to counteract and arrest that awful torrent of iniquity which threatens to deluge our country-to deluge it not only with crimes and confusion, but

with the wrath of Heaven. We the grossest acts of cruelty to

shall oppose to prevailing and fashionable vice our prayers, our warnings, our admonitions, our entreaties, and the still more persuasive influence of our example-an example which will at once frown vice out of countenance, and powerfully allure to virtue.

This branch of pious zeal has likewise those properties that distinguish it from those things which are either directly opposed to it, or falsely assume its appearance.

It is founded on knowledge. This characteristic alone can render our zeal truly acceptable to God, or beneficial to mankind. A blind, ignorant, misguided fervour is a most pernicious thing. It frequently assumes all the fierceness of bigotry, and all the wildness and extravagance of fanaticism. It was this rash and blind zeal which influenced the Jews in their rejection of Christianity, and which stirred them up to such a pitch of hatred and persecution against its first preachers. I bear them record, says Paul, that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. The apostle was

himself an instance of the same frenzy, before his conversion. He was very zealous, persecuting the church. He verily thought with himself that he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Such an opinion palliated, indeed, but it was far from justifying his conduct: nor did he himself entertain a thought of this kind. So we read of some who would think they were doing God service, while in reality fighting against God, and perpetrating Vol. III. No. 1.


man. This bigoted zeal has in fact shed torrents of Christian blood, and inspired the fanatics of the church of Rome with the preposterous idea of "illuminating the minds of men with the light of fires and faggots."It is of the highest importance then that our minds be well informed in the great articles of truth and duty, and in the merits or demerits of particular objects and characters, before we permit them to be transported with fervour. Nor should our zeal in any case be suffered to transcend our knowledge. Doubtless some honest and good men have been faulty here. the influence of a misguided zeal, they have condemned and traduced characters, which, had their eyes been open, they would have loved and honoured. It is a melancholy fact, that the best things become, in their abuse, the worst and most pernicious. If light without heat is useless, it is no less true, that heat without light is worse than useless. It is hurtful and destructive.


Farther, the zeal of which we speak, is prompted by a spirit of love. This is what principally distinguishes it from the false fire of the hypocrite. The real Christian, in all his fervour against error and wickedness, is influenced, so far as he acts in character, by love to God and his cause, by love to mankind and their best interests, by love to the persons, the souls of his enemies, and the enemies of religion. This will infuse an air of tenderness into all his reproofs of vice and licentiousness. This will mingle sentiments of compassion for the souls of men,

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