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If moral duties are to turn upon calculations of advantage, every pirate and plunderer will justify his robbery; and Buonaparte's " continental system" will be sanctioned by a British Legislature.
The same observations will, in great measure, apply to much that has been recently said and written on the subject of Irish tithes. With the different political, civil, or ecclesiastical bearings of this important question, I do not meddle, but simply with the principle or ground of moral obligation; and I am compelled to maintain, that many of the statements and reasonings which have been advanced, violate the scriptural rule of duty, and place the interest (viz. the emoluments) of the Church as the foundation, and thus changes the law of action into the benefits to be derived from it.
My great jealousy, Mr. Editor, is for the safety of right moral grounds of action. I am much afraid, that the commercial and speculative habits of the present day are in danger of poisoning the fountain of law and Gospel. If our country gentlemen, if our clergy, if our legislators, if our bishops imbibe the partial, the unscriptural, the selfish, I may say the antinomian rule of judgment above alJuded to, may we not expect, that the Gospel which is explained by the one, the legislative acts which
EARLY PIETY, OR THE
IN the pretty village of Linton there lived a virtuous widow; she was singularly affectionate towards her children, and most zealous in her endeavours to train them up in the paths of virtue and religion.
She had a daughter named Dorothea, about ten years old, of a lively disposition but much inclined to petulance. The mother not having it in her power to give up her time entirely to the education of her child, and fearing that she might
issue from another, and the execu tion of the laws which are intrusted to a third party, will each participate the evil of which I complain?
I cannot pursue this subject, though its character, and the importance of its bearings, demand the tongue or the pen of an Apostle; but, is it not this unscriptural source of judging respecting the morality of actions, which has induced many men of high respectability and moral character to embark in speculations of a more than questionable character? And does it not arise from the same false notion of moral obligation, that many persons and companies, who nevertheless appear to wish to do right, carry on trades or transactions which involve the breach of the sabbath, if not in themselves, yet in their bookkeepers, warehousemen, horsekeepers, porters, coachmen, &c.?
Should this paper, Mr. Editor, seem unsuitable to the character of your valuable Magazine, pray take an early opportunity of bringing this very important subject, in some other form, before your readers. And believe me, that you have my earnest wishes and prayers for the success of your labours to propagate the doctrines and practices of God's holy word.
I remain, most affectionately,
A SCRIPTURAL DIVINE.
HISTORY OF DOROTHEA. acquire bad habits amongst her young companions, placed her under the care of an excellent schoolmistress, with whom she remained two years, making rapid progress in piety, and storing her young mind with many invaluable lessons, which were there impressed upon her, but more especially that of making our blessed Saviour the model of her life.
When Dorothea returned home, she became the comfort of her fa
mily. Patient, gentle, and obedient, she never complained, talked little, but always to the purpose; contented and cheerful, not only in the fulfilment of her several duties, but likewise under those little trials which all are occasionally called upon to bear. Modest, humble, and simple, both in her dress and manners, she was respectful towards every one; careful not to speak evil of any, desirous to oblige, calm, and at peace with God. Such a course of conduct soon rendered Dorothea an object of esteem throughout the parish, till jealousy raised up persecutions against her. Some of her companions endeavoured to injure her reputation; some ridiculed, and others treated her as a hypocrite, a vain pretender to superior piety. Dorothea bore all this in silence, patiently submitting for the love of Jesus; and, moreover, behaved with such uniform kindness, even towards those by whom she was thus ill-treated, that all were at length convinced of her innocence, and the uprightness and integrity of her heart; whilst the calumnies of her enemies turned only to their own confusion.
The minister of the parish, being struck with the superiority of Dorothea's conduct to that of the other young persons whom he instructed, and beholding with admiration the wonderful effects which divine grace had wrought upon her soul, begged her to give him some account of her habitual conduct, and manner of living with her young companions. "Sir," replied Dorothea, "what I do is, I fear, very little compared with what I ought to do; but I have never forgotten the advice which my schoolmistress gave me when I was not more than eleven years old. She often exhorted me to make Jesus Christ the pattern of all my actions-my guide and example in every kind of trial; and this I humbly strive to do. When I awake in the morning, and whilst I am rising, I think
of the holy Child of Bethlehem, who offered himself a sacrifice to God the Father: in humble imitation of him, I offer myself a sacrifice to God, by consecrating the day and all my labours to his service. When I pray, I think of Jesus Christ praying to, and adoring his Father, and endeavour, as far as possible, to bring my heart into the same holy frame. When at work, I think how Jesus laboured for my salvation; and then, so far from complaining, join my labours unto his, in humble love and resignation. When receiving the commands of my parents or superiors, I recollect how submissive and obedient Jesus was to the holy Virgin and to Joseph, and immediately try to conform my spirit unto his bright example. If desired to perform any thing painful or unpleasant, I immediately think how Christ submitted to the death of the cross for my sake; which enables me cheerfully to fulfil my duty, however painful or difficult it be. If any one speaks ill of me, or abuses me, I make no reply, but suffer all in silence; remembering with what patience Christ endured the most cruel torments, calumnies, and accusations. I reflect, moreover, on the innocence of Jesus: he did not deserve the evil he endured; whereas I, a poor sinner, deserve far greater evils than those which I am called upon to bear. When taking my daily meals, I think of the temperance and frugality of Jesus, seeking and commanding that all things should be done to the glory of God. If I am obliged to eat any thing disagreeable, I remember the gall which was given to our blessed Saviour on the cross, and for his sake make a cheerful sacrifice of my inclination.. If I have not sufficient food to satisfy my hunger, still I am content, when I recollect that Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights, that he suffered hunger and thirst for our sakes, to expiate the sins and intempe
rance of men.
When I take any recreation, I represent to myself Jesus Christ; meek, affable, and holy in all conversation with his Apostles. When I hear any evil speaking, or am witness to the commission of any sin, I pray that God will pardon the offender; recollecting how the heart of Christ was pierced with grief, when he saw his heavenly Father thus profaned. When I think on the numberless sins that are committed in the world, and the grievous manner in which God's commandments are but too often broken, I sigh, and long to obtain that holy temper which we may conceive our Saviour to have felt, when he said, "O holy Father, the world knows thee not!' When I attend on public worship, I join with all my heart and soul in the holy sentiments of Jesus, who sacrificed himself for the glory of the Lord, and in order to expiate the sins of men, and purchase their salvation. When I sing, or hear others sing the praises of God, then it is that I remy joice in the Lord, and glory in the God of my salvation; then it is, that I fancy myself listening to that glorious canticle, that sacred hymn which Jesus sung with his disciples after the institution of the holy sacrament. When I lie down to sleep, then also I meditate on Jesus, who only took repose that he might consecrate himself with new vigour to the glory of his Father; or I meditate on the difference between my bed and the cross of Christ, on which, nevertheless, he lay down like a lamb, offering his life and soul to God; after which, I go to sleep, repeating in my heart the words of the dying Jesus: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.'
The clergyman, astonished at finding so much wisdom in a poor young villager, exclaimed, "O Dorothea! how happy are you; what comfort, what happiness you must enjoy!"
How, then, do you manage," said the clergyman, "to overcome these temptations?"
Dorothea ingenuously replied, "O Sir! when my soul is sorrowful, and my spirit is disquieted within me, then I think of my Saviour, weary, comfortless, and dying on the cross, and with him I say in my heart those words which he himself so often uttered in the garden of Olives: Father! thy will be done.' As to my temptations, when I find within a tendency to any sin, or an inclination to follow the bad example of my young companions, and to partake of their giddy amusements, I fancy to myself, that I hear Jesus saying to me, What, my child, wilt thou also forsake me, and give thyself a prey to this vain world and all its sinful pleasures? Wilt thou too, Dorothea, withdraw thine heart from me? Are there not already, too many who transgress my laws? Wilt thou also become one of them? Wilt thou neglect to serve me?' Then I reply, in my heart, No, my God; I will never forsake thee! Until death will I be faithful. Lord, unto whom shall I go, if I abandon thee? for thou alone hast the words of eternal life. This thought soon fills me with new strength and courage. What, indeed, can be more noble, than the endeavour to follow the example of the Lord? what more delightful, than the attempt to imitate the Lord our Saviour? what greater happiness, than the service of so good a master?"
To this short and simple history of Dorothea, which is translated from the French of a Roman Catholic writer, a Protestant hand appends a few remarks:
1. The change that took place in the character of this young woman was in itself delightful, and in its consequences most blessed. She is described, as having been" of a lively disposition, but much inclined to petulance." But now, her liveliness, which might have led her into many errors and follies, is tempered with a pleasing and salutary seriousness; and her petulance is so mitigated, as scarcely to be observable. Her habits and feelings are become very lovely and of good report; she is a pattern to her former companions, a pleasure to her widowed mother, and has peace within herself. Such is the power of the grace of God in renewing the heart, and in regulating the life, of a sinful and polluted creature. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Eph. ii. 10.
2. It is worthy of being noticed, that Dorothea, even when she became a Christian indeed, was both young and poor. And what is so desirable as youthful piety? and what better sweetener of poverty is there than true religion? To love and fear God in our youth is the only certain means of being happy and prosperous through life, and of insuring the divine blessing upon our latest days. Cheerfulness and contentment, too, accompany the individual who is "rich in faith and an heir of the kingdom of God." And when poverty is thus blessed, what earthly honours or possessions SEPT. 1823.
can be compared with its riches? "Godliness, with contentment, is great gain; " and it "has the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."
3. The history of Dorothea remarkably evinces the beneficial effects of pious and careful instruction. It was "an excellent schoolmistress," who instrumentally made the first serious impressions on her mind. And this she did, by not merely teaching her young scholar to read the Scriptures, but by aiding her to understand them; and especially, by urging on her attention the example of Him who is the great object and end of them. And truly we cannot be consistent Christians, unless we habitually strive to imitate our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, "who hath left us an example that we should follow his steps." We are exhorted to let that mind which was in him be in us; and in every situation and circumstance of our lives, "to consider him." If, in this respect, we constantly adopted the practice of Dorothea, how greatly would it promote our personal happiness, and how beneficial an influence would it be likely to have upon the society with which we mingle!
4. The treatment which Dorothea experienced, when the change in her character became visible, is a proof of what St. Paul has said, that "All who will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution." If, however, we, like this amiable young Christian, persevere in welldoing, the ridicule, or contempt, or unkindness, of the persons who oppose us, will either fall to the ground, or recoil upon themselves. At all events, it is infinitely better to suffer with Christ, and to confess him, than to escape the frowns of the worldly and the wicked by any sinful compliances with their maxims and practices: for, "If we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him;" and, as he himself said, "Whosoever confesseth me before
men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven."
5. In " the short and simple annals" of Dorothea, the circumstance that principally claims our admiration and attention is, her making the life of our blessed Redeemer the model of her own. In this matter we indeed are under the highest obligations to do likewise. Yet must we bear in mind, that our first and great duty, as sinners, is to look unto Jesus, not merely as our example, but as our atonement -as the sacrifice for our sins; for he is especially "set forth to be a propitiation for sin, through faith in his blood," and without faith in him for the pardon of our offences, we cannot acceptably imitate him in any one particular; because, as the twelfth Article of the Church of England scripturally states, "Good works are the fruits of faith, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith."
Be it, then, the constant and supreme concern of both the writer and the reader of these plain remarks, to know the Lord Jesus as "of God made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption;" as well as to glorify him by letting our conversation be as becometh his holy Gospel.
For these blessed purposes we hourly need the enabling grace of the Spirit of God, for which we are thus admirably assisted to pray in the Collect for the second Sunday after Easter: Almighty God, who hast given thine only Son, to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life; give us grace, that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
IMITATION OF POPE'S ODE ON SOLITUDE.
HAPPY the man whose wish and care,
Who with the hungry shares his bread,
Who pours the holy light of truth
On dark'ned and benighted minds;
Labour with study, who combines,
Thus walking with his God, he binds
Hope's cheering ray!
So may I live-for kindness known;
But let the poor,-not flatt'ring stone,
Tell where I lie!