« PreviousContinue »
importance; but, at the same comparing them with the strait time, he avoided observation, or rule of the divine law, and not the affectation of austerity. His with the crooked principles and meals were early, regular and practices of the world : For he temperate ; and his life retired, considered himself, and all the when compared with that of race of men, as being naturally most men, in the same situation in a state of apostasy from God, in society. He was entirely a and exceedingly prone to evil ; stranger to the ordinary pleas- and he was very earnest in ures and amusements of the spreading this opinion, as a funworld, nor was he accustomed damental doctrine of the Scripto consult his own ease or indul- tures. gence in any particular ; yet his This sentiment, as far as it cheerfulness was noticed by all was applied to himself, will be who conversed with him, and he admitted to have been a source habitually appeared well satisfied of humility; when applied to and happy. His fear of aliena- others, it is sometimes thought ting his time from more impor- to be of a contrary nature ; for a tant useș, rendered him on some conviction or the general deprave occasions, apparently too averse ity of the human race is freto go into almost any company. quently imagined to spring eiBut where the motive was so ther from spiritual pride, or from good, and the use made of time a harsh and severe disposition. thus redeemed, was so worthy Now, as the sentiments enterof imitation, surely this may be tained by our late honoured mentioned to his commendation, friend, concerning the fallen rather than as a failing, especial state of the world around him, ly as it increased only with his undoubtedly made a material advancing years, and evidenced part of his character, I shall ena mind more and more occupied ter more fully into this circumwith the thoughts of that blessed stance ; and the candid reader world, into which he expected will then judge, how far this his so soon to be removed.
persuasion was consistent with His unaffected and deep hu- the general benevolence of his mility may be considered as character, which, to some peranother distinguishing feature sons, may appear ambiguous or of his character. His liberality, unintelligible. his useful industry, and his pie- The main ground, on which ty, though he was zealous and this and the rest of his religious abundant in them all, appeared opinions were founded, was the not to himself in any degree plain declarations of the Bible ; meritorious : Nay, he was con- and to that book, which he studvinced, that in every respect he ied day by day, endeavouring to fell short of his bounden duty, imbibe every instruction which it and was entirely dependent on contains, I must refer the reader the mercy of God in Christ Je- for a fuller explanation of the sus for the pardon of his sins, subject. Our late friend, I say, and for final acceplance and feli- implicitly believed the doctrines city. In truth, he estimated his of it; and conscious of his own own character and conduct by demerit, all his hopes of salvation were derived from it. He who neither lament nor perceive expected eternal life, as the gift that state of condemnation, unof God through Jesus Christ, der which (according to the according to the revelation of word of God) every one around mercy, and the precious prom- them lies ; unless he be renew ises contained in the Scriptures ; ed in the spirit of his mind, and and he found that these were believe in Christ Jesus, lead a somatters in which human reason ber, righteous, and godly life ; or authority could give him no or, at least, be striving to enter assurance or satisfaction. If, in at the strait gate of repentthen, on the one hand, he believ. ance, and conversion to God and ed the promises of the Bible, holiness. It is observable, that and derived all his consolation the Scripture seems to know but from them, how could he disbe- of two descriptions of men, lieve the threatenings of God namely, those who serve God, contained in the same book, and and those who serve him not : the repeated declarations of the he who is not the servant of inspired writers, concerning the God, but serves some other masdegeneracy of men, the wicked- ter, or aims at some other end, Dess of the world, and the com- lies under the condemnation of parative small number of those the Bible, though he be free that are in the way of salvation ? from disreputable vices; and
Indeed, that kind of charity whether the multitude around which we often hear pleaded for, us are in good earnest serving can only be expected, on any God, or whether they are pursugrounds of reason, from infidels ing their own selfish ends, let and sceptics, who, consistent any man of common observation with their principles, may deny determine. that there is an hell, or that the It must therefore appear to way is broad and thronged which every candid inquirer, that when leads to it. But in proportion as religious persons entertain what these sentiments prevail, the are called uncharitable opinions sinews will be cut, of every ef- of their neighbours, they are in fort to bring sinners into the truth compelled to it by the narrow way of repentance, faith united evidence of facts and and holiness, in which the word Scripture ; and not inclined to it of God requires them to walk. by a mere conceit of their own If any, therefore, who would be superiority, or any severity of thought to believe the Bible, disposition. compliment their worldly neigh- These sentiments may be of. bours with upscriptural hopes, ten observed, as in the present or teach them to make light of instance, to reside in the same their danger, it must be owing, breast, with the most melting (though they may not suspect it) compassion, the most expanded to no small degree of scepticism benevolence, and the most une: mixing with their views of quivocal tokens of deep humiliChristianity ; and it is difficult ty. It is not then an inconsist* to conceive how they can derive ency to think mankind very cor. any actual hope from the gospel, rupt and wicked, and yet to who discard all serious fear, and abound in compassion and charity towards them. This evident- Bible, do thus, in their judg, ly accords to the judgment and ment, condemn the world around conduct of God himself, as it is them ; and they can therefore every where represented in bear with many true Christians, Scripture : “ He conimended on account of their philanthrohis love to us, in that, when we py, having never approached were sinners, ungodly and ene- near enough to understand this mies, Christ died for us." The unpopular subject. It is proper blessed Saviour was hated for that such persons should be uns testifying of the world, that the deceived, and should know, that works thereof were evil ; yet he they who believe the word of “ went about doing good," and at God, however kind and obliging length laid down his life as the to them, entertain the most sepropitiation for our sins. St. rious apprehensions concerning John, the beloved disciple, who the state of their souls, and are was eminent for the greatness of far more alarmed for them, than his charity, says, “ We know they are for themselves. There that we are of God, and that the are also others that have some whole world lieth in wicked sense of religion, and secretly ness :” and St. Paul, with a assent to this offensive doctrine ; mixture of sound judgment and but joining much with the genuine charity, says to the world, they deem it convenient
“There are many, to disguise their sentiments. of whom I have told you often, Nay, they frequently behave in and now tell you even weeping, a manner so inconsistent with a that they are the enemies of the serious conviction of this kind, cross of Christ, whose end is de- that they are never suspected of struction, whose God is their it; they conform to the world, belly, and whose glory is in their and seem to be a constituent shame, who mind earthly things.” part of it ; and who could imagThese are a few passages out of ine that they join with the Scrip. vast numbers that might be pro- ture in the condemnation of it? duced : and, it may be added, These are indeed the more popthat the world (signifying the ular characters ; yet if their sen. generality of mankind) is scarce timents were fully known, per. ever mentioned in Scripture, haps they would meet with less without something being added, favour, than they, who profess which implies a condemnation them without disguise, and sepof it.
arate from the pleasures and . It is obvious that these senti- vanities of the world, and from a ments must be unfashionable needless intercourse with it upon and unpopular, and must ex- that account. The latter are ceedingly deduct from the char certainly the more honest men, acter of every religious man in and would probably, if the whole the opinion of the world, how truth were known, be deemed much soever he lays himself the more honourable characters, out in doing good to the bodies the people of the world themand souls of men.
selves being judges. Some persons indeed are not It is not, however, here meant aware, that they who believe the to be insinuated, that pious per. sons never form too harsh a judg- Our attention should next be ment concerning their neighe directed to the composed manbours. A certain precipitancy ner in which this honoured and of temper, and a vehemenre in useful servant of God looked forsome points of doctrine, or a ward to the approach of death. contracted acquaintance with Though he was in general some sect or party, often betray healthy, and of a good constituthem into mistakes of this kind. tion, yet for a long time before Yet whilst we censure a seeming he died, he was sensible that he want of charity in others, we grew old, and often spake of his should be careful not to fall into nearness to the eternal world real uncharitableness ourselves; with a serenity that shewed such and not to condemn any relig- reflections to be familiar, and ious persons, inerely for abiding even satisfactory to him : and by the standard of the Bible; when indeed it became evident lest we should thereby be guilty that the solemn season was arof condemning the Bible itself, rived, there was no occasion to while we are fondly valuing our conceal his real situation from selves on our superior Christian him. He considered his sickcharity.
ness as a summons from his But the person of whom we gracious Lord, and calmly prespeak, though attached to the pared to comply with it: being church of England, both in re- surrounded by his children, and spect of its genuine doctrine, recommending them and theirs worship ,
and discipline, was to the blessing of that God and equally a cordial friend to pious Saviour whom he had trusted, persons amongst the dissenters : and with whom he had walked ; but, undoubtedly his most intimate recommending to them his serconnexions lay amongst those of yice and salvațion, and then them who accorded in doctrine calmlı resigning his spirit into with his own church ; for this de- his gracious hands ; he put ma. scription of them appeared to ny in remembrance of dying Jahim more occupied in, and more cob, blessing his twelve sons, and earnest for, the salvation of the then yielding up the ghost :-and souls of men. His rule of judg- the impression made upon the ment, therefore, ought not to be minds of those, who beheld the considered as merely having re- tender, instructive, solemn, and spect to party ; nor was it deter- animating scene, will probably mined by a minute regard to his not soon be effaced. “Mark the own sentiments in the more dis- perfect man, and behold the putable points ; but it was form- upright ; for the end of that ed on the great outlines of doc- man is peace.” trine and practice, which are evidently containedin the Scriptures.
ON CHRISTIAN ZEAL.
explained away, despised and (Continued from p. 547. vol. i.)
trampled on, as it is by multi
tudes. And if we have the true In a former number we gave spirit of primitive Christianity, a brief display of the nature and and pious zeal, we shall do it. properties of zeal, considered in But this surely is not all. The a personal sense. We will now interests of practical holiness and consider it as a duty we owe to virtue demand our faithful and the cause of God, and the best ardent exertions. Nor shall we, interests of our fellow creatures. if we are consistent Christians, Here, likewise, it has a very ex- think it enough to be zealous for tensive and important sphere. speculative truth, without a cor
It will operate in befriending responding zeal in favour of the truth and opposing error. We power of godliness, and against are exhorted by an apostle to every form of licentiousness and * contend earnestly for the faith vice. The serious and benevoonce delivered to the saints." lent child of God feels, tenderly And although, in an age of af- feels, for the honour of his heafected and extravagant liberality, venly Father, and for the imlike the present, this is but an mortal souls of men. When unwelcome and thankless office, therefore he looks around him, yet no real friend to God, and and sees iniquity prevailing, vice the souls of men, will reluct triumphing, and multitudes travfrom it on that account. In- elling the downward road in deed, what is that liberality, so peace, he is pained and grieved. celebrated and so fashionable, Thus we are told that in a day of but one of the numberless forms great degeneracy among God's in which the divine truth is op- ancient people, the pious few, posed, and the best interests of who kept their garments undeimmortal men sported with ? filed, were found sighing and cryTo represent every kind of re- ing for all the abominations which ligion, as equally safe ; and all prevailed in that guilty land. those, as in the sure road to heaven, And they were mercifully diswho are only faithful to the tinguished and spared in a day of opinions, which they embrace ; general desolation and destructhis, with many, is the essence tion. If we have any thing of and perfection of liberality. But the spirit of these holy and hapmore properly, it is the essence py men, we shall mourn over the and perfection of absurdity, and sins of the time. And animated of cruelty. And we are called with zeal for God and his cause, upon, each in our respective we shall strenuously exert ourspheres, by every motive of selves to counteract and arrest Christian benevolence and com- that awful torrent of iniquity passion, as well as of piety, to which threatens to deluge our make a bold and vigorous stand country-to deluge it not only for the truth of God, opposed, with crimes and confusion, but