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pork, in this country, are so few, that only a very limited acquaintance with its merits can be supposed to exist; but we are pleased to believe, that it will soon be more generally known, and that the happy effects, which it is calculated to produce, will be more extensively felt. We are informed, that an American edition is now in the press, and will shortly be given to the public.
THE FULLNESS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT. The world is filled with books, and great numbers of them are excellent. How many men of the first talents have written admirably on the subject of religion! Every age can boast of its celebrated authors, who have consecrated themselves to the instruction of mankind. I have read many of them with pleasure and improvement; but I find, that, when I have gone through them three or four times, I have gained all their ideas. In spite of me they become fat and uninteresting, and I am obliged to lay them aside; for I can no longer read them with pleasure.
But the New Testament forms an exception to this rule. I have read many parts of it, hundreds of times; and can read them again to-morrow, with equal relish as at first. Whenever I peruse it with serious attention, I discover something new; and the more attentively and devoutly I do so, I discover the more: and new ideas spring out of the words and subject, and enrich my mind. Besides, I am never weary of reading it: it presents new charms to me every day: and like bread made of the finest of the wheat, it is always agreeable to the taste. The more I read, the more I love it; and the more intimate my acquaintance, the stronger is my affection for it. I have my favourite authors on religion; and I frequently peruse them. They are men of genius, learning, and piety. But they are only children, in comparison of the fishermen of Galilee: and I find a fulness and sweetness in their writings, which the others do not possess.
Whence comes this astonishing difference? Allow the New Testament to be written by inspiration, and the reason will be easily assigned. The Holy Spirit of God, whose understanding. is infinite, can put such a number of ideas into a book, as it shall unspeakably surpass the power of man to do, which shall one after another appear to the pious reader, and amply reward his researches. He can likewise so fill the book with good, as well as with truth, that it shall delight the heart, as well as enlighten the mind, and have such undescribable charms, that it shall be always sweet, and fill the soul with the highest degree of mental pleasure. To these causes I ascribe its astonishing fulness.
But how will ye who call the New Testament a common book, or a forgery, account for this singularity? To deny the fact, will not avail. The observation before us has been made by thousands of persons, both illiterate and learned, in every age; and against such a mass of evidence, the assertion of those who have read, merely with a view to find fault and to condemn, will not weigh much in the balance of impartial reason. The testimony of bats and owls, to the loveliness of the gloom of night, and against the beauty of the light of the sun, would not be heard in opposition to the unanimous declaration of the inhabitants of the earth, and of the air, to the contrary. But ought I to use such a comparison? My design is not to irritate, but to convince; not to triumph over an enemy, but to reclaim a friend and a brother, who, to my grief, has gone astray; and to lead his feet into the way of peace.
THE SCHEME OF THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT, AS REPRESENTED IN
THE NEW TESTAMENT, IS VAST AND EXTENSIVE. WHILE the past and the present occupy a certain portion of our thoughts and time, it is natural to look into futurity, and to conjecture what will come to pass. How often has this been the theme of the most ingenious writers! But we observe in them the attributes of man. Their plans of the divine conduct, in the regulation of human affairs, are extremely limited in extent; and they seem in haste for the execution. Beyond a century, or two at most, their views scarcely ever extend for the accomplishment of their plans : more commonly they are comprised within a still narrower space. They are eager to see their expectations realized; and often place the event within such a period, that they may have the satisfaction of witnessing it.
How differem is the disposition of the writers of the New Testament! They present to us a view of the divine government; but the forementioned peculiarities are not to be found. The plan embraces a vast variety of objects; it advances, by what we would sall very slow degrees; it comprises within its grasp some thousands of years; it gives time for every thing. The prophets of the Old Testament, allowed four thousand years to elapse, before the coming of the Messiah. The apostles of Christ, assign twelve hundred and sixty years to the dominion of Antichrist, from his rise to his fall, a duration of which, no other class of men, were ever able to bear the thought. After this immense space, christianity, they say, will overcome all opposition, and be universal on the earth. VOL. II.
How much this scheme resembles the course both of the natural and the moral world, must be obvious to all. Plants spring gradually from seed; trees grow still more slowly; and ages pass on, before some of them arrive at maturity. In man, as an indivi. dual, the progress of improvement is far from rapid; in communities, it is still slower. How many centuries roll on, before a nation passes from a barbarous state, to a high degree of civilization. It must be allowed to be, at least, an extraordinary circumstance, that the New Testament should, in this respect, differ so materially from all other books; and that it should, at the same time, so perfectly accord with the actual state of the divine government. The degree of weight in it is submitted to the consideration of the reader.
ON DENYING ONESELF TO BE AT HOME. MR. EDITOR, As one great object of your useful publication seems to be the promoting of christian holiness and correctness of manners, should hope that some of your correspondents would favour me with their sentiments on a custom very general in the polite circles, that of denying oneself to be at home to visitors.
The Reverend Mr. Scott, in his family Bible, condemns the practice as “a very criminal deviation from simplicity and godly sincerity," and I confess his remarks have considerable weight with my mind; but as there are many who are of a different opinion, I think a further investigation of the subject might be useful. We are strictly enjoined to "abstain from all appearance of evil;" and, therefore, no question can properly be deemed trivial and insignificant which concerns our religious profession, and the satisfaction of our own conscience.
PHILALETHES. The above is from the Christian Observer; and an answer to the inquiry, from the same work, is here subjoined.
MR. EDITOR, No answer having yet appeared in your miscellany to the Query in Philalethes on the custom prevalent in the polite circles of denying oneself to be at home, I venture to send you the following plain thoughts, being of opinion, that an answer should appear in the same volume of your work in which the query is proposed.
1. I cannot help thinking, that there is an answer to it in a scripture quoted by Philalethes himself, viz. “ Abstain from all appearance of evil.” However it may be doubted, whether the custom in question really be evil, it must surely be acknowledged that it has the appearance of it.
2. We are taught in the Word of God to form high and reverential ideas of truth, as a sacred thing which we cannot prostitute, and with which we cannot trifle with impunity. Now, if truth be an agreement between what we say and what we mean, it is clearly violated in the case under inquiry.
3. But it is urged, that “words and phrases do, in process of time, change their original meaning.” We have, indeed, heard much lately of this tacit alteration, insomuch that it has been gravely intimated that the articles of our church may now mean something very different from what the original framers of them intended; and Philalethes probably knows that the custom we are now discussing is a favourite illustration of this extraordinary theory. Surely then christians should be careful how they adopt or countenance the perverted use of words.
4. A serious objection, I think, must arise in a conscientious mind on considering, that he who conforms to the custom under inquiry has necessarily to employ an agent in the business. Another must declare for him that he is not at home. There is here, to say the least of it, great liberty taken with another man's conscience; and those who are thus employed will certainly learn to form slight ideas of truth, when they find their superiors (especially if persons of credit and respectability) thus trifling with it.
5. When a person at home is denied to be so, it must either be supposed that he, to whom the denial is made, is likely to take the words in their literal sense, or to understand sufficiently the meaning of them, and the real state of the case. If the former is supposed, actual deception is practised; if the latter, there is a deviation from the meaning of the words perfectly unnecessary, and therefore certainly unjustifiable.
In short, Sir, I cannot think that Mr. Scott has condemned the practice in too strong terms. An undue conformity to the language and customs of the world, is, I fear, the practical heresy of christians in Great Britain. I am, Sir, your's, &c.
ON SPIRITUAL IMPULSES AND FEELINGS.
[In a letter to a friend.] MY DEAR FRIEND, Since I saw you last, I have frequently thought of you with much concern, and sincerely wish you divine support and direction in all your trials and difficulties. As I make no doubt of your
being a partaker of divine grace, I believe the Lord will, in the issue, bring you safely through all your troubles. Yet, if I may speak my mind freely, I am jealous over you, lest you should increase your own distresses, and lessen the benefit you might receive from them, by some mistakes you seem in danger of run
You remember the account you gave me of your receiving many promises from God, particularly respecting your temporal circumstances, and expressing the strongest confidence of their literal and punctual fulfilment. Perhaps you will thipk me your enemy, should I endeavour to rob you of any part of the consolation you have derived from this source. However, bear with me till you have heard me out; and I trust it will appear, that I do not wish to usurp dominion over your faith, but to be an helper of your joy.
I rejoice that you are enabled to abound in prayer, and thereby to make your requests known unto God; being desirous to cast all your care upon him, and to derive instruction and support from his word. I am fully assured, that the word of God will be found a sufficient directory in all cases whatever, and a source of spiritual comfort under the greatest trials.
It is your duty and privilege to search the scriptures daily, both for direction and consolation; and to endeavour, when you cannot have the Bible in your hand, to recollect the precepts and promises, and meditate upon them; praying that the Holy Spirit would not only assist your natural power of recollection, but more especially that he would give you a spiritual understanding of his word, and an answerable frame of heart, properly affected with the various truths therein contained.
You have reason to bless God for the suitable provision he has made in his word, which, I gladly allow, is as exactly suited to your case, as if the words had been spoken to you individually; though, blessed be God, the same word of truth is equally suited to all other believers; and you have no more cause to complain of this, than you have to complain, that while the sun warms and enlightens you, as much as if you lived alone on the earth, it does as much for millions more at the same time.
You ought to be thankful that God has given you a memory, and assists you to recollect, from time to time, suitable passages of scripture, which sometimes occur to your mind in a very apt and seasonable manner. But perhaps this observation will rather displease you; and you will hardly allow that you do recollect them, but think they are immediately suggested to you from God. However, if your memory be like mine, it will be very difficult to