Page images

John xvii.

world may

believe that thou hast sent me. 20, 21.

6 THESE verses contain the last desire, the last prayer of our gracious Redeemer - his earnest prayer, since it was four times repeated - the union of all his beloved disciples among themselves and with him, as he and the Father are


“As the pastor of your parish, a minister of the Gospel, and a servant of Jesus Christ, my aim ought to be to do the will of Jesus Christ; to bring souls to him; and to unite them together in him. Such was my aim, in establishing, two years since, the Christian Society.

“Every end requires means. I could have wished that all my parishioners might by degrees have associated themselves with it. I have often publicly invited them.

Some have complied. More than one hundred and thirty individuals have been friends to it, and have willingly kept company with us, to listen to what was going forward. Some have declared themselves enemies. Some have calumniated it, without even understanding its purport, or wishing to understand it, although the doors of the church were open, and they had, more than two hundred times, the opportunity of remaining to see what passed. Some amongst them

have calumniated it against their conscience. They have said that I placed sentinels at the doors, to prevent those who were not members from entering. This was a downright falsehood.

“By what means then did you come, you from all the five villages, who were so often auditors without being members ?

“ The greater part of the members did not announce themselves to be such, till they knew and understood the principles, by which the Society was regulated. How were they able to do this, if sentinels were posted to prevent their approach? How did Mr. — the elder of Waldbach, and Mr. of Foudai, manage, - who, without being members, have been present so frequently? How did Messrs. manage ? — the family of Marechal, of Waldbach, the founders of Rothau, the wife of M. le Régent, and many other persons, who were so often with us, that we were never once alone ? There have been many other individuals, who were not members, present.

“ If they have had the hardihood to invent such falsehoods respecting us, as they now. refuse to acknowledge, how much greater may they have invented ?

“ Your gracious Lord earnestly desires that you should all be true Christians — such as the


Gospel portrays - and such as I have endeavoured to make you, whether through this Society, or through any

other “ But, on account of some atrocious calumnies respecting it, I am come to the resolution of abrogating its name and external form ;- a thing which I can do the more easily, because Christianity does not consist either in names, or in external forms.

“ I abrogate it then to-day ; and I abrogate it as fully assured of God's direction in doing so, as I was assured of his direction in its establishment. And this partly for the following rea

sons :

“1st. I have, in a great measure, obtained the end I had in view.

“ 2d. Names and external forms are not essential, but are subject to vicissitude.

“ 3d. In the event of my death or removal, this external form would have been liable to change ; and the members, overtaken by surprise, would have resembled, in some degree, sheep without a shepherd, and would not have known what to do. It is better that this should happen during my life-time.

“ I have said that I have, in a great measure, obtained my end.

“First. With respect to those who have been willing to become members.

“ 1st. They have had the opportunity of declaring themselves on the side of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and of acknowledging him, which is a thing of no trivial importance, if we recollect that passage in Matt. x. 32, Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven.'

“ 2d. They have learned to know more of their spiritual wants; and how necessary it is for them to be found in Christ Jesus, 'without spot and blameless,' rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith.'

“ 3d. They have felt, more than ever, the duty and necessity of prayer. Many, previous to the formation of this society, had not even an idea of that continual prayer of the heart, which Jesus Christ recommends to his disciples, Luke xviii.

“ 4th. They have been led to feel that many souls are anxious for their salvation. They know, now, where to seek the friends of God, and of Jesus Christ, in order to enjoy the edification and benefit of Christian communion.

“ 5th. They have learned to be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, bath forgiven them.

66 SECONDLY. With respect to those who have not been members. A number of precious souls have been awakened from their sleep, and, although they could not resolve to declare themselves members, yet they have been induced to pay more attention to their spiritual necessities have been led to look upon themselves as sinners — have learned to tremble for their salvation and have become also instant in prayer.'

“ 1st. I cannot sufficiently thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for all the good that he has, through this medium, been pleased to effect in my dear parish; and for the evident blessing that has rested upon it. May he watch over it, and grant that the good fruits brought forth may be perfected, and rendered permanent. May the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ be promoted, and extended; by any other means that he may see meet to appoint.

“2d. May he sustain his church, according to his promise, Mat. xvi. 18, so that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' May He, who said to his disciples, He that receiveth you, receiveth me,' register all its members in his Book of Life. May he abundantly shed his Holy Spirit upon them, and 'grave them upon the palms of his hands,' so that no one may be

« PreviousContinue »