person, under the injunction to for- they may be led by a selfish heart sake all they had, and take up

their to conclude, provided we say little cross, and follow him.

or nothing of practical duties. The specific instance of the Sav- In this way, we may indeed make iour's direction to an inquirer, cited fewer apparent converts ;-and so above, is in perfect accordance did Christ.

did Christ. Had he said nothing with all his instructions both to in- of practical benevolence to the quirers and to converts; and we “very rich young ruler.” he would have reason to conclude, from the doubtless have professed himself a results which took place in recor- disciple ; and had he presented no ded instances of conversion under practical cross to be taken up when his teaching, that he was minute he addressed the clustering thouand urgent, in such cases, in incul- sands on the shores of Tiberias, cating the duties of justice and be- who can tell but they would have nevolence. Look, for instance, continued with him instead of all at the case of Zaccheus. Where- going away and leaving him alone fore do we find this "rich chief of with the twelve.' the publicans” saying on the very But though we make fewer conspot of his conversion, Behold, verts, we shall be in a fair way to Lord, the half of my goods I give make more that “shall endure to to the poor ; and if I have taken the end and be saved.” The any thing from any man by false ac- touchstone of practical benevocusation, I restore him four-fold. lence, applied so decisively to the Such a declaration from such a heart of the young ruler, is still as man, bears on the face of it the discriminating and important a test impress of the divine teacher's in- ever; and the sooner it is structions on these topics of duty. brought in contact with the heart

Shall we then fancy that it is not of avarice, the better. It may preexpedient to touch on these topics ? vent many a false hope ; and lead and that we give full and safe in- ultimately to one which will not structions to anxious souls, when “perish when God taketh away the the amount of our direction is, 'to soul.” humble themselves before God, and I trust I shall not be understood cry for pardon ? while we say noth- to mean that any of the great toping of their "doing justly and lov. ics now so extensively urged, and ing mercy." This brings me to so gloriously effectual under the observe

exhibitions of divine power and 2. That faithsulness to the souls grace, should cease to be presentof men and to our divine Master, ed with all possible clearness and requires us to present these duties force. And far indeed would I be prominently on such occasions.

such occasions. from advocating such a presentaThey form an integral part of tion of these duties as to leave it the requisition to repenting sin- possible for the sinner to infer, that ners ; and it is indispensible for external duties are the essence of them to know it. If they are to be religion. All I plead for, is such a converted, it is requisite to show prompt and thorough presentation them from what they are to be con- of the practical duties of godliness verted, and to what;--converted as we find in the Bible, and espefrom idolatry of the world, lust, in- cially in Christ's instructions. Thus justice, and every sin ; and conver- presented, I plead for them, ted to the service of God and be- 3. Because I believe them reneficence towards men out of a quisite at the time, to the future and pure and fervent heart, and not extensive usefulness of genuine merely to inoperative emotions, as converts. When the individual is born into the kingdom of God, it is they more wealthy? The declaraof vast importance to his future tions of men acquainted with the usefulness for him distinctly to un- facts, assure us to the contrary, as derstand, that he is not only con- respects the class of persons gen. verted from the path of death to erally from whom the resources of that of heaven, but from sin and pious benevolence are derived. selfishness to the complete devo- This however, is a well known fact, tion of hinself, and all his means of that the evangelical clergy in Engdoing good, to the service of God. land insist more on the practical Wherefore do we see those conver- duties than those in this country. ted under the preaching of Christ Look again at the different sections such eminent instances of human in our own country, and we shall goodness-devoted, heart and soul, see that men of equal resources, do like angels come down from heav- ten times as much in this way in en to minister in his kingdom. Is one section as they do in another ; it not the same divine Spirit which and the difference may be seen now converts men ? Whence then connected with the same cause. the difference? Is not one, among

What then is the inference from the many reasons we can discover, facts like these ? Must we ascribe to be found in the frank and timely the difference wholly to a want of developement of the selfdenying piety on the part of those who come principles of discipleship which the short in the practical duties ? I Saviour made at their vocation. trust not. There is a fashion, a • He that would be my disciple, let tone of public sentiment, operating him forsake all that he hath-deny here as on everything pertaining himself and take up his cross and to human feeling and action. come and follow one who hath not And now for this public sentiwhere to lay his head.' And what ment, those who are commissioned makes the difference between the as guides and standard-bearers in practical devotedness of Christians Israel, are in no small degree rein the primitive ages and those of sponsible. How shall this sentimore modern date? It was neither ment be elevated to the just standthe extent nor the accuracy of their ard ? Above all other means yet doctrinal knowledge, for in both untried, I should say, is that of inthese respects, many of their writers culcating, in somewhat of the truly even, whose works have come down primitive style, the practical duty to us, would bear but a poor com- in question during the revivals of parison with those moderately in religion with which God may see doctrinated at the present day. It fit to bless and replenish our Zion. is to be sought perhaps mainly in Let the sinner see at the time to the fact that the practical and obvi. what a state of feeling and of acous duties were inculcated upon tion he ought to be converted if he them, line upon line, and precept would be Christ's “disciple inupon precept. And why do we deed ;" and let the young convert see a marked difference now in dif.

be timely reminded, into what a ferent countries, and in different new world of benevolent action he sections of the same country, among

is born. Direct the sinner to give Christians professing the same sys- himself wholly to be the Lord's ; tem of tenets ? Nothing is more and encourage him, when he has obvious. British Christians, for done it, to start in the career, with example, exhibit their devotedness Christ and the primitive disciples to the cause of Christ hy a munifi- for his pattern. If the Spirit has cence to which we, as a general breathed the breath of life and love fact, hardly begin to aspire. Are into his soul, he will readily fix his standard at almost any point which infinite benevolence-but who is you shall show him his Lord re- found as pennyless as ever when quires. But leave him to fix the an application is made for his substandard low, by saying nothing stance to send the same precious expressly on the point, and when gospel to the millions who are perthe fervor of his “ first love” has ishing for lack of vision ? One of subsided, you will labour to little these two things we are obviously purpose in an attempt to elevate it. compelled to say: either he has

One soul thoroughly converted contrived to gain a selfish hope, to the work of the Lord, is worth that must perish with his money;' more to the honour and prosperity he is one that hath this world's of the church than ten such as goods and seeth his brother have those to whom the apostle was need, and shutteth up his bowels of compelled to say, “ I stand in doubt compassion from him, and thus of you."

proves bis destitution of love to This thorough transformation God;' or else his spiritual guide is may perhaps be effected ly the in fault for not having taught him timely use of means in cases ap- the way of God more perfectly.' parently the most hopeless. In- And what shall we say of the char. stances occur in the records of acter of a revival of religion in any every age, in which men previously place where converts are said to be distinguished for particular traits multiplied by fifties or by hundreds, of abandoned sin, have become as but where, on the application of a highly distinguished for the oppo- thorough test, no material increase site traits of godliness. The mad of Christian beneficence can be persecutor has become the devoted discovered! Would to God this martyr—the devotee to mammon, were but an hypothesis—a picture the munificent patron. Perhaps as without a prototype ; and that I a reason of this, the enorm of could have sketched it without the their particular sins may have led recurrence of what has been rethem especially to contemplate the cently told me from the east and opposite virtues, at the time of con- the west.

Fault must be someversion. At any rate, the facts en- where, when facts are thus. It courage us against despair, even was not so in the revivals of 1816, in the hard case of the most native and I trust it is not the general and deep rooted avarice. The characteristic of those with which muscle of a miser's fingers is his God is now blessing our churches. heart ; and though that be con- Revivals are the hope of Zion for tracted to the size of a grape-shot, stability here, and her resources for and of the same iron hardness, and spreading the gospel to the earth's hold his fist clenched round his end; and it is all-important that purse with the unyielding gripe of they should be so conducted as to the tetanus-yet, when this ada- answer these ends to the utmost. mant is made to yield to the glow In the warmth of my solicitude, I of an etherial flame, we may expect have said so much on the above to see the spasmodic grasp relax. topic, that I have no space left to If then the moment is improved, treat of the article of “justice” in we may expect a thorough cure. this relation as its importance de

What then shall we say of the mands. Nor, perhaps, is it requiconverted worldling who professes site that I should go over again to be cheered with the hope of fu- with a similar course of suggestions ture felicity--to have become an for the purpose of applying them “heir of all things" by having "put distinctly to this topic. It is obon Christ" --imbibed the spirit of vious that most of them, (mutatis

all duty.

mutandis,) are equally applicable in ance of all sin, and conversion to their full force.

I will briefly add, that if the duty But I have promised to speak of justice were more frequently of two objections before I close. enforced on the conscience during What has already been said, preseasons of revival, we should find pares the way for their speedy somore of integrity and less of scan- lution. dal in the subsequent lives of those 1. "To dwell much on topics of brought into the church. Let the external duty, will divert the atbase criminality of a departure from tention of enquirers.” Divert it the strict morality of the gospel, be from what ? seeking their salvation ? portrayed; and let a sketch of social Certainly not, provided the very intercourse be exhibited, based on way to seek salvation is to be conthat golden rule of Christ, “what- verted to the cordial performance soever ye would that men should of all the duties Christ has enjoindo unto you, do ye even

so to

ed. These duties may indeed be them"--let these su bjects of be. presented in such a manner as to neficence and justice be presented divert the mind from Christ and the also in their practical bearings in necessity of holiness of heart. But private conversations with the in- if presented in their proper connecquirer and the convert--and espe- tion with the doctrines of grace, cially let them be exhibited to can- they lead to no diversion except it didates for church membership, in be that very needful diversion of questions, gentle in manner, but as the sinner's mind from the pursuit distinct and discriminating as the of a selfish hope. meekness of wisdom can devise. 2. “But they will lead to selfLet the person thus publicly pledge righteousness.” Presented in such himself, as he ever ought, “to do a manner as to lead the mind to justly and love mercy ;” and if it regard them as the meritorious appear obvious that he has no heart ground of justification, doubtto such a life of devotion, the safest less they will foster this hateful advice he can receive, is, to seek and ruinous sin, so congenial to a more decisive conversion before the proud heart. But did Christ he take the vows of God upon him. so present these duties? And is Let it ever be remembered, that he “ a workman that needeth not what is thus done and felt in imme. to be ashamed" who cannot vendiate connexion with our espousals ture to follow his Saviour's examto Christ, will give a tone to the ple, lest he should foster fallacious whole subsequent life. It was the hopes ? cannot guard the manner frequent remark of a very able and in which he presents these duties, experienced divine, whom many now and therefore cannot dare to prein the ministry remember as their sent them at all at the crisis when spiritual father-" the higher you they are most needed, and will aim, the higher your arrows will prove most effectual? Let him but reach.” And perhaps the obsery- cast his eye on the fallacious hopes ation of all conversant with this which are liable to spring from his subject, rebukes the presumption silence on these topics, and then we are so ready to cherish in be- let him consider not simply whethhalf of the new convert, that he er he should have the courage to will subsequently elevate his aim to preach them, but whether he should a higher standard of feeling and have the presumption to depart practice.

from the divine model, and thus by While immediate repentance is his silence leave men to the expoever to be urged, let it be a repent- sure of building their hopes of hea.


ven on the sands of sordid selfish- pathy, and piety, in all these mournness, and with a heart equally un- ful preparations.

ful preparations. But how must a prepared to "do justly, love mercy, holy God regard them? Are they or walk humbly with God." works of necessity or mercy? In

And let both him that teacheth the cases now supposed they are and him that is taught, forever bear neither. All the parties concern. in mind that solemn forestalment ed, might keep the Sabbath as usuof the judgment day, presented by al, and still have time enough left the Judge in Matt. xxv.

“ I was an

to prepare for the funeral, long behungered and ye gave me meat- fore any change in the corpse would come, ye blessed ;-I was an hun render interment necessary. Why gered and ye gave me no meat-- then, should the merchant open his depart ye cursed !"

V. store,and the mechanic be sent to his

bench of tools, and why should the house of mourning be converted in

to a milliner's shop, on the Lord's It is my design in this paper, to day, in which he hath said " thou remark freely, but kindly, upon shalt do no work ?”'. certain usages connected with the Shall we be told in reply, that burial of the dead, which have long these funeral preparations are wholstruck me as extremely improper. ly unlike ordinary secular employ

1. It is not uncommon within the ments, inasmuch as all who are en. circle of my acquaintance to tres- gaged in them, must needs spend pass on holy time by preparatory ar- the day in solemn and profitable rangements. I am aware, that ca- meditations upon death and eterni. ses may and do often occur, in ty? Specious as this subterfuge which it is not only lawful but ne- is, I am sure that it can weigh litcessary, to bury the dead on the tle in the balances of the sanctuary. Lord's day; and circumstances For, in what chapter or verse does may even require the coffin to be it appear, that we may work for the made and the grave to be dug, on dead unnecessarily on the Sabbath, the Sabbath. But I have known any more than for the living? Will such cases of hurry and bustle as it be said that the custom which I the following. A parent, or child, am here deprecating, is sanctionor some other dear relative, dies on ed by the example of some of the Saturday, and at a season of the most pious and conscientious memyear too, when the remains might bers of our churches ? My first anbe kept for a week, if it were neces- swer is, that if it were so, it would sary ; but no, all the funeral prej prove nothing, so long as it is arations must be hurried on, as if known that even good men are liaGod had required them to be made ble to be swayed by the tyranny of and consecrated upon his holy day. popular customs. But I am happy Thus the mantua-maker is sent for to believe, that few, if any, intelliand kept away from public worship; gent Christian professors among us crape and silks are brought home are justly chargeable with such profrom the merchant's shelves on fanations of the holy Sabbath. Sabbath morning ; half the females 2. I think I have sometimes known in the neighbourhood are expected the dead hurried away to the grave to assist, more or less, in making on the Lord's day, to save time. up mourning for the bereaved fam- For example, when a town pauper, ily ; saws, planes, and hammers, are or some other poor and obscure inheard all day in the work-shop, and dividual dies, at the end ofthe week, nobody seems to suspect that there something must be done to save apis anything but kindness, and sym- pearances. The neighbours can

« VorigeDoorgaan »