« PreviousContinue »
me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.' The Bible appeared a new book to me. Here I found the Scriptures applicable to my case. I conjectured that all my distress was against me, but it was all for my good and his glory, I trust.
« So vile was 1, that when I saw any one cry, I boasted that I had not shed a tear for years; but, blessed be God's holy name, he brought my proud heart low by repentance. He brought me to the cross for refuge, where he gave me 'redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.'
Here I would give you a caution. Such a rebel as I was, wanted severe chastisement to humble me. But we do not read that Lydia had any terrors ; for it is said of her, whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.' (Acts xvi. 14.)
“The mighty God, the wise and just,
Knows that our frame is feeble dust;
Beyond the strength that he bestows.' “ What a wise, loving Father, Redeemer, and Holy Spirit! Just so much of the rod as is meet to bring us to Christ for salvation, and divorce us from every false refuge. The dear Lord had a great work to begin and carry on, where we then lived, and you were born. My friends began to persecute me violently, and I to reprove them for sin. My master told me I read
Presbyterian books that I should craze myself. I replied, that I read the Bible, but that it was sin which would craze me; and I read the Bible to find ease. shame, be it recorded, I had not (before this) gone to a place of worship for a long time. I went to church now. The minister preached on the prodigal son. He wept in his sermon, and the penitential tears flowed down my cheeks. My dear children, there is more solid pleasure in repentance than there is in sin.
“ The poor sick in the parish sent for me to read to them. Mr. C., a merchant of Woodbridge, lent me
Mr. Whitfield's Life, and six volumes of his sermons, to read to my neighbours on the Sabbath evenings. Two remarkable circumstances occurred. A man, who lived near me, a profane person, who often came home drunk, swearing, and disturbing the whole neighbourhood, and had not been to a place of worship for upwards of twenty years, came to my house on Sabbath evenings. He left off his sins, kept the Sabbath, and, apparently, God changed his heart, and made him a new creature in Christ Jesus.
“A poor woman at Hollsley was in great distress on account of her sins. She went to the minister of the parish, who told her to go to the doctor. She was led to my house. I took her with me to hear the Gospel, conversed with her by the way, and went to her house several times. She suffered so violently from the temptations of Satan, and from blasphemous thoughts, that she could sleep but very little. I hope she found peace through the blood of the Lamb.
“ My dear H., you mentioned the sacrament in your letter. I hope you feel the plague of your own heart, and feel yourself to be a lost sinner. These are the persons
Jesus came to seek and to save. He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.' I hope the dear Lord has changed your heart, and made you a new creature in Christ Jesus, that you may walk in newness of life, and glorify God with your body and spirit, which are his. But I must cut short with this question. Have you a desire given you to be saved by Jesus Christ, in his own way? This desire grows not in nature's garden, but is an evidence of a changed heart.
“ Isaac came home last night from Essex. Samuel's two children have had the measles violently, and we expected they would die. Little Ann has been buried about a fortnight: the other two are recovering:
“ Through mercy, we are all as usual, and all join in love to you. Wishing you both, and the dear children, all the blessings of salvation, both for time and eternity,
“ Your loving father,
ON THE SACRAMENT OF THE LORD'S SUPPER.
The death of our Saviour Jesus Christ upon the cross was a full and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, reconciling us with God, and redeeming us from eternal death. He loved us, and gave himself for us. So great and precious a benefit deserves to be had in everlasting remembrance; and our Lord and Saviour thought it not enough to purchase for us his Father's favour, but was pleased to appoint an ordinance, by which all his disciples, in all ages, might be reminded of his precious death, and also be made partakers of God's grace. In the same night that he was betrayed he partook of the last supper with his disciples, and having told them to eat of the bread and drink of the wine, as signs of his body and blood, which were about to be offered up for their sins, he commanded them to do it in remembrance of him. And St. Paul tells us, that by thus partaking of the bread and wine, we do show, or remember and represent, the Lord's death, until his coming again. So that all Christians are bound to partake of the Lord's Supper, even unto the end of the world.
How then can you pretend to be Christians, and yet refuse to come to the table of the Lord? How can you pretend to have a thankful remembrance of his death, and yet refuse to shew it in the way which the Lord himself appointed?
Our blessed Saviour said, “ Except a man eat of my flesh, and drink my blood, he hath no life abiding in him.” Now we spiritually eat the flesh of Christ, and drink his blood in the Holy Communion. Is there not then good reason to fear, that those persons who stay away from the Holy Table have no life abiding in them?
But in truth no man can have life abiding in him, who does not keep Christ's commands; for if he will not obey him, he does not love him; and if he loves him not, he has no share in his promises, no title to the inheritance of the saints in light. Jesus Christ said, “ do this in remembrance of me." If you refuse to go to his table, it is the same thing as if you were to say, No, Lord, I will not do it in remembrance of thee: I will not do it at all. Consider after such on answer, what appearance you will make before the judg. ment-seat of Christ.
My friends, lay these things to heart, and remember that if you would be Christ's disciples indeed, you must readily and cheerfully do all that he has commanded you to do. When he invites you, you must not say, I cannot come. But prepare yourselves to attend him at his holy table devoutly, and with profit to yourselves. Think of your own sinfulness, and Christ's exceeding mercy in dying for you; repent of your past transgressions, and pray God to forgive them for Christ's sake; steadfastly purpose to lead a better life, and beg for grace to enable you so to do, and lastly, be in charity with all men. Without such preparation as this you are not fit even to say your prayers to Almighty God; with it you are fit to come to the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, and may expect to find therein much spiritual comfort and strength, and grace to help in time of need.
It bring's into man's remembrance the history of his former life, makes him with heaviness of spirit recount the guilt of so many innumerable sins wherewith he hath bound himself as with chains of darkness; the loss of so much precious time misspent in the service of such a master as had no other wages to give but shame and death. The horrible indignities thereby offered to the majesty and justice of God; the odious contempt of his holy will and sovereign authority; the daring neglect of his threatenings and undervaluing of his rewards; the high provocation of his jealousy and displeasure; the base corrivalry and contesting of filthy lusts with the grace of the gospel, and the precious blood of the Son of God; the gainsaying, and wrestling, and stubborn antipathy of a carnal heart to the pure motions of the Spirit and Word of Christ; the presumptuous impulses of him who standeth at the door and knocks, waiting that he may be gracious: the long turning of his back, and thrusting away from him the word of reconciliation, wherein Christ, by his ambassadors, had so often beseeched him to be reconciled unto God: the remembrance of these things makes a man look with a self-abhorrence upon himself, and full detestation upon his former courses. And he now no longer considers the silver or the gold, the profit or the pleasure of his wonted lusts; though they be never so delectable or desirable in the eye of flesh, he looks upon them as accursed things to be thrown away, as the converts did upon their costly and curious books, (Acts xix, 19, Isaiah xxx. 22, xxxi. 7.) Sin is like a painted picture; on the one
side of it to the impenitent, appeareth nothing but the beauty of pleasure, whereby it bewitcheth and allureth them; on the other side to the penitent appeareth nothing but the horrid and ugly face of guilt and shame, whereby it amazeth and confoundeth them. Thus the remembrance of sin past, (which they are very careful to keep always in their sight, (Psalm li. 3,) doth by godly sorrow work especial care of amendment of life for the time to come, (2 Chron, vi. 37, 38; Psalm cxix. 59; Ezek. xvi. 61, 63; xx. 43.)-Bishop Reynolds.
LETTER FROM A CLERGYMAN ON AFFLICTION. MY DEAR SIR, I really was so affected at the sudden intelligence of your loss, that I hardly know what to say to you. Be assured of my sympathy and regard. Affliction is a solemn moment to
God then speaks to him in a peculiar manner. The first duty under it is undoubtedly submission. God doeth what he will, none can stay His hand. “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, for Thou hast done it.
The next duty is Gratitude for the alleviations attending the affliction . It might have been heavier; you might have lost all your dear children, as others have; you might have had no Christian friend or minister at hand to instruct and comfort you; you might have had no cheering hope of the penitence of the departed. The stroke of death might have been acute, violent, lingering, agonizing. Alleviations are mercies.
The third duty is Trust in God for the future. You shall hereafter see His way.
You shall find all things have been, and are, not only right but gracious and wise. You shall find God may be trusted, though you cannot understand all His reasons, and the best reasons for all His dealings. Man may err, God cannot.
The fourth duty is “To take refuge in God's mercy in Jesus Christ.” Afflictions are the seasons to lay hold more firmly of the love and mercy of God; “Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved and
gave His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
“God is love. God has poured out all the fulness of His mercy in giving us His Son Jesus Christ. The death and passion of the Son of God are the pledges of God's grace to all who seek Him. Fly then in trouble to the bosom of a God and Father, not severe or implacable, but reconciled in Jesus Christ.
The fifth duty is Separation of heart from the things of the world. Affliction is designed to break the false charms of the world, to shew us its emptiness, its vanity, its bewitching sorceries, if I may use the word. Affliction rends us from the snares of folly, and calls us to silence, to prayer, to solitude, to seriousness, and to a concern for the salvation of our souls.
The sixth duty is Preparation for death, immediate, earnest, per