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And here we may pause a moment, and ask, Should not the humble and obedient Christian, with increasing confidence and comfort, fall back on the divine promises, while he sees in what peace and triumph a Christian can die ? “Will any man," Addison demands, “be so impertinently officious as to tell me that this is only fancy and delusion ? Is there any merit in being the messenger of ill news? If it is a dream, let me enjoy it, since it makes me both the happier and the better man." Or can men continue to aver that the ministry which leads to religion of this kind is unhonoured, not in the order of God, and without his sanction ?-that to the people whom it thus prepares, communion should be refused, as being in a state of uncovenanted schism ? Deserve they, in the manifestation of those fruits which declare the tree to be good, to be blown on and blighted, trodden on and supplanted ? And for this spiritual, intelligent, living religion, what is to be substituted ? Must it be “the commandments of men ?” traditions and crosses, cowls and candles, vestments and genuflexions? Hear the church, as an Apostle is the teacher therein: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Let the holy religion of the Gospel, whether found in this Christian body or in that, as known by Mr. Pearse, be my heart's best choice and portion! “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my
last end be like his." This memoir will conclude in the words of Mr. Pearse's eldest son: “Mr. Pearse was much respected in the neighbourhood of his birth, and where he had lived nearly seventy years. About three years before his death, one of his family met the worthy Clergyman of the parish, who was about the same age as Mr. Pearse : they had known each other from their youth. He made very particular inquiries as to the health of Mr. Pearse, and added, “I have known your father a great many years. I always entertained a very high respect for him, and we have lived on good terms. Though he is a Dissenter, that does not matter : it has never interrupted our friendship. I believe him to be a good man, and I hope we shall meet in heaven. Yes ; if, having received Christ Jesus the Lord, we faithfully walk in him, and endure to the end, we shall be saved; and thus shall we meet all the saints of God in glory everlasting, and, being numbered with them, be ever with the Lord.”
SUBMISSION TO GOD, AS CIIOOSING OUR INHERIT
ANCE FOR US. If that state or condition of life be undoubtedly the best, which is least subject to temptation, then this may afford us these two following directions :
1. Let no man, in his prayers, peremptorily importune God for any particular enjoyment or state of life; that is, let him not pray and prescribe to God in the same petition. God alone knows what will help, and what will hurt, us. He only can discern the various windings and turnings, the particular bent and constitution, of the heart, and how this or that thing would affect or work upon it, and how far such or such a condition would agree or disagree with it. He knows the proper suitableness and unsuitableness of every state of life to each mind and temper, which it is hardly possible for the ablest and deepest heads to have a perfect knowledge of. For such very often pray for they know not what, even for their own bane and ruin; and, with equal importunity and ignorance, seek their own destruction. They think they ask for bread, and it proves a stone ; and for a fish, but they find and feel it to be a serpent; and, therefore, it is often in mere love to their persons, that God answers not their prayers. In a word, the wisest man living is not wise enough to choose for himself; and, therefore, we have cause to flee to an infinite Wisdom to direct our requests, as well as to an infinite Goodness to supply our wants.
2. As a man is by no means positively to request or pray for any particular enjoyment or state of life; so ought he, with the greatest satisfaction of mind, to accept of, and acquiesce in, that state and condition which Providence shall think fit to allot and set out for him. No man living is in this case fit to choose for himself; and if we refer it to God to choose for us, surely there is all the reason in the world that we should stand to his choice. We all come as suppliants, or rather as beggars, to the throne of grace ; and to beg and to choose too, we know, is too much. Is thy condition in the world poor? are thy circumstances low ? and thy fortunes, in the eyes of all about thee, mean and contemptible ? Repine not at it; for do we not beg of God every day, not to lead us into temptation ? And shall we not allow Ilim to judge which is the best and surest way to keep us from it? Possibly this very thing that thou complainest of, is that by which God is effectually answering that prayer. He denies thee honour, because he intends thee heaven. He who thoroughly knows and truly loves thee, sees that, instead of being high and powerful, it is better for thee to be harmless and safe. In fine, we have nothing to do but to commit ourselves to God as to a faithful Creator ; to receive what he assigns us humbly, and to enjoy it thankfully; knowing that, by denying us what are only gaudy nothings, perhaps gilded poisons, he is doing us the greatest kindness in the world ; which is, to keep us from temptation; and, by keeping us from temptation, to deliver us from evil, to fit and prepare us for all the good that can be prayed for, even for Himself, the endless, inexhaustible Fountain of it. --South.
SCRIPTURAL ESSAYS. (No. VIII.)
(For the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine.) “ As poor, yet making many rich."-2 Cor. him who yields to it. Man is in
jured only by ignorance or error,This declaration of the Apostle by the total absence of the very apseems, in the first place, to be a pearance of truth, or by the adopstartling paradox. What has po- tion of that which appears to be verty to do with power, and espe- true, and is not so. From the trulk cially with extensive and beneficent of Christianity, its power and benefipower,-the power of influencing cence may be directly concluded many, and of influencing them ad- and one of the strongest arguments vantageously,-of making many rich? of its truth is suggested by the first Yet this is the statement of inspira- term of this seeming paradox, as. tion : “As poor, yet making many serting, as it does, the poverty of rich.” If there be influence, there those by whom it was at the beginmust be power; and if there be ning promulgated. The investigapower, there must be truth; for a tion of the sentence, while it allows real, permanent influence can only the verbal paradox to remain, re. be exercised by truth. Error only moves from the meaning even the influences so far as it is believed; appearance of contradiction, and that is, so far as it is considered to fixes the proper character of the be truth. Let its real character be declaration as a modest, and yet perceived, let the error become visi- fearless, assertion of the truth, the ble, and the power to influence at power, and the beneficence of Chris. once and entirely ceases. An erro- tianity. It is the gift of God to neous proposition only seems to man; and his gift as the God of state something. In reality, it states love. What is Christianity, but the nothing ; and the perception of its full result of the mission of the erroneousness is the perception of its Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotnothingness. The abiding power of ten Son of God? And “ God sent Christianity results from its truth. not his Son into the world to conIt has been subjected to the most demn the world," as the minister of rigid exaininations. In many in his holy vengeance on sinful and stances, all the feelings and wishes rebellious man, but for the accomof the examiners have been in oppo- plishment of his purposes of mercy sition to its truth. But it has stood and love," that the world through the test; and the severity of the him might be saved.” examination has added to the cer- It is the design of this essay tainty of the result. Christianity is somewhat more fully to explain and true; and because it influences by establish the principles contained in means of truth, therefore is its these introductory remarks, and to power at once great and beneficent. point out the practical lessons which Wherever it meets with inan, it pos- the subject involves. sesses in its truth the means of in- I. “As Poor."-We are at once fluencing him; and for the same reminded, by this expression, of a reason that it influences at all, it most important fact in the history influences beneficially. The primary of the Christian religion. Humanly and direct influence of truth cannot speaking, its founder was Christ, be otherwise than advantageous to and Christ was emphatically a
poor man. However respectable acquainted with the fact, and al, the family might be,-and his mo- ways ready to take advantage of it ther was
of the house and lineage against them, and against their of David," so that he “was made of plans. the seed of David according to the In the fact thus briefly stated, flesh,” — yet the circumstances of
a powerful argument of these representative
of the royal the truth of the Christian religion, house of Judah were almost as low because of the inadequacy, humanly as they well could be. The facts speaking, of the means employed for wbich the Evangelists record are the production of the effects which, stated too explicitly to allow the nevertheless, we know to have actually least room for doubt; and they are resulted. In this argument, we actoo well known, by all who are ac- knowledge, there is nothing of noquainted with the record, to require velty; neither do we represent it as any enumeration. He who had the novel. Our object may be stated in choice of all conditions before him, the language of the Apostle to the chose that from which all worldly members of the priınitive churches, advantages, as they may be termed, to “stir up your pure minds by way were utterly and far removed. of remembrance."
The argument “Though he was rich, yet for our itself is so powerful, and so impressakes he became"-literally, and in sively illustrates the power, wisdom, the actual state in which he was and goodness of God, that it can burn, and lived, and died—“poor." never be considered attentively with. So were his first disciples, particu- out profit; and now that infidelity, larly his Apostles. Even Paul him- notwithstanding its continued sucself, though he had received a good cession of defeats, is not only at. Jewish education, and was acquaint- tempting to rally, but uniting with ed with profane literature, required the predicted apostasy of the " last a trade; and, after his call to the days,” for what may be, though a apostleship, when he would avoid final, yet a mighty and bitter, asbeing burdensome to infant churches, sault on evangelical religion, it deand their comparatively weak mem.
mands renewed and most careful bers, he had no private resources of examination. If we have hitherto his own, but supplied his wants by only followed cunningly-devised working as a tent-maker. Widely fables,” let the fact be established, as Christianity has spread, lofty as and let us act accordingly. The is the elevation which it has reached, knowledge of an erroneous proposi. thus bumble and powerless was its tion is merely verbal knowledge ; origin in the estimation of the that is, is no knowledge at all; and world. They who undertook the if we are taught anything by the mighty task of bringing all nations study of the buman mind, surely it into a universal discipleship, and of is this,-that man was designed for subduing the opposition which the knowledge, for ignorance. very proposal of such a design could How, then, does the case really not fail everywhere to awaken, were stand ? all of them poor men; and, with Let us glance, for a few moments, one exception, because poor, unedu. at the undeniable state of the world cated. They brought to their un- at the time of the first proclamation dertaking neither worldly wealth of the Gospel. To say, that men por worldly honours, nor worldly were asleep when the angels deinfluence and power, nor worldly clared what were “glad tidings of talent. The single word by which great joy for all people,” were to St. Paul here describes their condi- say the very best that could be said. tion is most emphatic, and full of But this was not the case when the significance. They were poor, and Apostles went forth in the name of they knew that they were so; and their Master, and by his command, scarcely did they live a day without to "preach the Gospel to every being reminded, hy some occurrence creature.” The world was awak. or another, that the world was both ened and aroused. The Jews were Vol. XXIII. Third Series. OCTOBER, 1844.
full of bitter and inveterate preju- way for making that religion uni. dices. And the worst of it was, versal. Truly had their Master that these prejudices, like diseased said, “ I send you forth as sheep in excrescences, fed by the artery which the midst of wolves.” The dispropoured living blood into them, were portion of David to Goliath cannot all associated with divine revelation, here suggest even a comparison, and actually fed and strengthened but altogether disappears. Nothing by it. Their stronghold was, “ The but the blindest and most ignorant temple of the Lord, the temple of enthusiasm could have formed the the Lord, are these !” All the notion of such a work; and even learning of the nation, all its wealth enthusiasm must have been inflamed and power, all its thoughts and feel. to the very verge of madness, to ings, were vehemently opposed to have attempted its aecomplishment. the Gospel, and resolutely deter. The only way to feel the power of mined on the rejection of its claims. the argument, is to realize to our. They crucified the Head, and per- selves persons in the same station in secuted the members even unto life, as such persons are at the predeath. “Away with such fellows sent day. A handful of men, dwell. from the earth,” was their loud and ing on the sea.coast, night and day continued cry; "it is not fit that employed in fishing, or in the work they should live!”
connected with fishing, must be Then there was the Gentile world. placed before us,-a handful, so to With few exceptions,—and those speak, of sailor-fishermen; and we not for the better,-it was altogether are to conceive of these as projectgiven to idolatry; that idolatry being ing the overthrow of all existing not only connected with all that was systems of religion, and the estaboutwardly elegant, splendid, and im. lishment of a new one in its place. posing, but, in the fanciful mytho- Now, not a single feature of en. logy on which it rested, with their thusiasm can be perceived in either history, their laws, their literature. their writings or their proceedings. Their intellectual existence was more They were in earnest, most deeply than fed, it was constituted, by it. 80; but they were calm and delibeIt was upheld at once by civil au- rative, governing and employing thority, and by popular poetry; by their own feelings, not governed by the passions and prejudices of the them. And yet these few men, people, and by the policy of their taken from the lowest ranks of life, rulers. As to the Gentile philoso- totally destitute of all the merely phy, what of truth it possessed was
human meads of influence and power, powerless, because of its abstraction, undertook to preach a new religion and its entire dissociation from facts. to the world, and to call on all, rich And even had it not been thus and poor, learned and illiterate, to powerless, it was held in the dark- submit to their spiritual directions ! ness and bondage of unrighteous. Can this fact-viewing the fact as ness, -an enemy to be imprisoned, upon the best historical evidence we not a friend to be sent forth on mis- are obliged to view it-can it be sions of enlightenment, and purity, accounted for on any supposition and love. Against the Gospel were but this one, that the religion itself therefore arrayed the jealousy and was true, and that these men knew power of rulers, the interested bi- that it was so? gotry of a widely-ramified priest- For it is not sufficient to put the hood, the contempt of the learned, case thus generally, thus to say, and the passions of the common Such and such men undertook to people, stimulated by the prejudices preach a new religion. A new reliwhich were so strongly intrenched gion! What sort of an one? Bein their ignorance.
fore they could preach it, they must • Such was the state of the world possess it. And, therefore, we leave when the first Preachers of the the undertaking, vast as it was
, and Christian religion went forth, with unaccountable except on one only the avowed design of preparing the supposition, we leave the under