Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

pose of grace, which was establish- clare will be executed upon antied in Christ Jesus from everlasting christian perfidy, oppression, and ages. As afflictions are, however, cruelty. At the last day, they will in themselves painful to flesh and be openly acknowledged by the soblood, and as the enemies of God, vereign Judge as his servants and and of his truth and people, are saints, and their characters and actuated solely by malice and hate pretensions will be publicly vindired, when they persecute, defame, cated from the injury which they and maltreat, the man who fears receive from the slanders and the God aright, it is fit and becoming malicious detraction of hypocritical the usual method observed in the and noisy professors of religion, as divine government of the world, well as of the avowed enemies and that the saints in a future life should opposers of its power in the world. enjoy a happiness that is commen. The afflictions which they endured surate with the degrees of sorrow in their mortal condition on the which they have experienced on the earth, will be compensated by the earth. It seems to be the doctrine possession of an everlasting inherite of Scripture, that those who loved ance of heavenly glory. “And I not their lives unto the death, but saw thrones, and they sat upon who willingly suffered themselves them, and judgment was given unto be slain for the testimony of Je to them; and I saw the souls of sus, shall receive distinguished ho them that were beheaded for the nours at the period of the consum- witness of Jesus, and for the word mation of all things. Without at

Without ate of God, and which had not wortempting to inquire too anxiously shipped the beast, neither his iminto the nature of those signal marks age, neither had received his mark of the divine approbation of their upon their foreheads, or on their conduct which will then be beslow. hands; and they lived and reigned ed upon them, we may rest assured, with Christ a thousand years."that, whether they shall literally rise “Blessed and holy is he that hath from the dead, and reign with Christ, part in the first resurrection ; on during what is usually styled the such the second death hath no millenial age, or whether their spi- power ; but they shall be priests of rits, being still separated from their God, and of Christ, and shall reign bodies, which sleep in the dust of with him a thousand years.” “ And the grave, shall merely experience they that be wise shall shine as the an exultation of joy and triumph in brightness of the firmament; and heaven, in consequence of the uni. they that turn many to righteous. versal prevalence of truth and right- ness, as the stars for ever and ever." eousness during that period through. It is not the lot of every Christian, out the earth, they will at last re. however, to be called io Jay down ceive, in the eternal world, an am- his life in the cause of God and ple compensation for all the suffer- truth. During a time of peace and ings which they endured in this concord in the church, and in the lower state of existence. We are world, it is comparatively easy to indeed certainly informed that, even discharge the public duties of in their disembodied condition, they Christianity, with some regard to will rejoice when they witness the principle and fidelity. Such, howprogress and prosperity of the cause ever, in general, is the state of cir. for which they suffered, toiled, and cumstances, and such is the deprabled ; and when they perceive the vity of human nature, that it beAccomplishment of those divine comes a very painful and embar, judgments which the Scriptures de rassing thing to support with ho, nour and consistency the character ance, and in exquisite degree, of a true Christian. In order to For which cause we faint not; obey God, we must often disoblige but though our outward man perish, the world ; we must oppose its yet the inward man is renewed day, principles and its conduct, even at by day. For our light affliction, the expense of our nicest feelings; which is but for a moment, worketh we must be contented with re- for us a far more exceeding and proaches, with misrepresentations, eternal weight of glory; while we and misconstructions of our opi- look not at the things which are nions and actions; with poverty, seen, but at the things which are not and its concomitants, contempt and seen; for the things which are seen maltreatment; and with the harsh are temporal; but the things which censures and the opprobrious de- are not seen are eternal.” Every signations that are bestowed upon one of the saints in heaven will be us by the petty jealousies, the has completely happy, but, like vessels tred, or envy, of corrupt, self-right- of cups and vessels of Alagons, that eous, and presumptuous pretenders differ in size and capacity, they to the possession of extraordinary will contain different measures of zeal and piety; or by the forward glory and felicity. The stars are impertinence of the champions of all beautiful and filled with light, sectarian ignorance, bigotry, and although one of them may be more prejudice. True religion will not resplendent than another, permit its disciples to procure either From the remarks which have wealth or reputation by the viola. now been made, the following reflection of one feeling of duty and con- tions seem naturally to arise. science; or by the omission of any It is cbvious, in the first place, known and commanded act of obe. from all that has been stated on dience to the Divine will. In ad- this subject, that very inadequate dition to those trials of an external notions of the nature of true relinature, which we must bear with gion almost universally prevail in a meek and patient spirit, we will, the world. Some classes of per, if we be the sons of God, experience sons presume that they shall be the chastisements of his fatherly saved by a certain sort of faith, displeasure with us on account of with which they charitably suppose our undutiful conduct before him. themselves to be very liberally en, Our bodies will, in consequence of dowed, while they totally neglect his just indignation against our ini- the cultivation of the dispositions quities, be from time to time suba of the heart, that produce those, acjected to affliction; and our minds tions in life which are agreeable to will be clouded with grief and and the genius and spirit of the religion guish, so that we may perhaps be of Christ. Such men would storm tempted to choose death rather and be angry if we were to tell than life, and be disposed to curse them that their condition is danthe very hour in which we were gerous, and pregnant with destrucborn. All our distresses, however, tion. Blinded by self-love, and work together for our good, and that pride of heart which is abothey will at last minister to our su- minable in the sight of divine pu. preme felicity in the world which rity, they see not the defects of is to come. Our sorrow will be their own righteousness as the turned into joy; and the recollec- ground of their hopes of acceptance tion of former pains will serve to with God; and they build an edienhance the pleasure which eternityfice of vain expectations upon a supplies in immeasurable abunds foundation of sand, that will be

[ocr errors][merged small]

swept away by the inundation of conduct, in all his transactions in
the tempest. Unless, indeed, our the world.
souls be filled with the fervent love It is obvious, in the second place,
of God, and of our brethren of man. that it is a wicked calumny to affirm,
kind, we can have no reason to be that the doctrines of Christianity
lieve that we are partakers of the tend to encourage and promote li
spirit of Jesus Christ. Although centiousness of manners. From
we should make ever so loud a pro- the days of the Apostle Paul to the
fession of zeal for the purity of re- present time, has a reproach of this
ligion, and abstain from the grosser nature been liberally heaped upon
vices of human nature; if we hate the character of our holy religion.
our brother; if we be guilty of It has been asserted of true Christe
backbiting, ridiculing, or defaming ians, that their language is, “ Let
an innocent, unsuspecting person;

us do evil that good may come; or if we lie, cheat, deceive, or other and multitudes have in all ages wise injure our neighbour; when we turned the

grace

of our God into can practise such arts with impuni. lasciviousness." Religion itself, ty, we are in reality as ignorant of however, furnishes no grounds for God, and of the power of his grace, such an accusation, nor warrant as the most bigoted and profigate for such a practice. Although it Mahometans and Pagans. Other is by the grace of God that we classes of individuals are of opinion, must be saved, through faith in his that they also shall be saved, be- son Jesus Christ, we can never, cause their public conduct is, upon with the least shadow of reason, the whole, irreproachable, and their flatter ourselves with supposing dispositions and habits are charite that we have been made partakers able and peaceable. The Scrip. of this divine principle, unless it tures assure us, however, that there operate in the production of love is not a just man upon the earth within us both to God and man, that doeth good and sinneth not; and effect, in some degree, the pu. and that by the deeds of the law rification of our depraved hearts there shall no flesh be justified in and affections. There is, indeed, the sight of God. The divine an inseparable connection between law is exceeding broad, for it faith and holiness. No man can reacheth to the thoughts, imagina, be considered as in a state of friend, tions, and motives of the heart, as ship with God, who does not give well as to the whole actions of the evidence that he has been born life. We are told, by infallible au. from above, and has been endowed thority, that “ for every idle word with those graces of the Holy Spithat men shall speak, they shall rit, which constitute holiness of give account in the day of judg. heart, and produce a mild, humble, ment." “ How, then, can man be benevolent, and conscientious conjustified with God? or how can he duct in life. It is, therefore, a very be clean that is born of a woman ?" idle and malicious objection which The hypocrite and the self-right- tlie papists, and indeed many others eous person will both stand con- who wear the name of Protestants, demned and speechless at the right. make against the view of the doceous bar of the eternal judge. That trine of justification by faith in Jesus individual only knows the truth, Christ, which has been adopted and feels the power of religion, who into the Confessions of Faith, and believes in God, and hopes in his other authorized books of almost salvation, and who cultivates holi- the whole of the reformed churches, ness of heart, and uprightness of as if it were a theory that naturally

[ocr errors]

and necessarily tends to produce they will be brought into judgment. opinions and practices of the most The egregious inconsistency that dangerous and flagitious description. exists between the profession and Men will be tried and judged ac- the practice of pretended Christcording to their work. Let notians, is a decisive proof that they therefore the proud and self-righte are only hypocrites and deceivers, eous person presume to assert, that and it is the cause of excessive in the grace of the Gospel is unfa- jury to the interests of religion and vourable to the interests of morali- of mankind in the earth. The ty and religion; and let the man doom that is hereafter to be prowho professes to believe in God, nounced against these enemies of through Christ the Saviour, be God and of man, will be far more careful to maintain good works, dreadful than that which will be otherwise be can have no reason to pronounced against heathens and hope that he shall be saved in the profligates. day of the Lord Jesus.

It is obvious, in the fourth and It is obvious, in the third place, last place, that the doctrine which that those professors of religion is contained in the portion of Scripwho disregard the obligations of the ture which we have been occupied Divine law, under a pretence that in examining, affords the most they are delivered from subjection soothing consolations to believers in to its authority by means of the Jesus, who are placed beneath the death and resurrection of Christ, pressure of trials and afflictions. are plainly involved in the deep- All things, as has already been obe est infatuation of spirit, and are served, work together for the glory ehargeable with the grossest hypo. of God and the good of his saints. crisy and wickedness of heart. The tribulations which befal the Vicious as the dispositions of men righteous in this world, are appointe are, few persons would be inclineded to minister to their sanctificas to allow that such an abominable tion, and to prepare them for adfigment possesses any influence mission into the heavenly kingdom. over their conduct. It is not dif- “ Let'them, therefore, that suffer ficult, however, for an individual according to the will of God, comof ordinary penetration and sagacity mit the keeping of their souls to to discover, that multitudes of the him in well doing, að unto a faith most vehement and zealous adhe. ful Creator." They who confess rents of religion, unhappily employ the name of Christ, and of his Fathe doctrines of divine grace to ther, before the world, and who promote their own destruction. maintain the credit of their profes Persons may easily be found who sions of religion, by the exercise of make a considerable noise in the à meek, uncensorious, and charitable world as men of eminent upright frame of disposition, and by a quiet ness and fervour in the cause of and humble deportment of conduct, true Christianity, and yet habitu- even when their attachment to the ally and deliberately violate one, or truth of the Divine testimony exother, or more, of the precepts con- poses them to the hatred of the tained in the second table of the wicked, on the one hand, and to decalogue. These individuals seem the peevish and illiberal reflections to forget that the law of God exer- of the ignorant and the faetious cises a paramount authority over zealot, on the other, will in no wise the designs, motives, words, and lose their reward. Christ will openly actions, of every reasonable crea- acknowledge them as his friends, in ture; and that for all these things the presence of the assembled uni

VOL. XXI. NO. XI.

5 B

use.

INSTRUCTOR.

verse; and he will appoint them for reading is itself an evil which " to an inheritance incorruptible, we should attempt to remedy, by and undefiled, and that fadeth not labouring to convince them of its away, reserved in heaven for them," utility, and by endeavouring to where all their sorrows will be fore communicate to them the means of gotten, and all their mourning will availing themselves of its advantabe turned into joy.

ges? Many persons may be found JS. who have no desire for many things

which may be of great and lasting advantage to them, merely from being ignorant of their nature and

Would it be of no benefit to TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN such people to be informed of the

use and value of those things which

they are ignorant of, or indifferent On the Duty and Importance of about? It is not likely to be the Distributing the Scriptures. fact, that persons, when they possess

the Scriptures, and perceive their Sir,

worth and excellence, and are able Having been on a visit at the to peruse them for themselves, will northern metropolis, some years continue destitute of the desire of ago, I had an opportunity of reading in general, or of reading hearing, during my stay, a synod this precious volume in particular, sermon, in which the preacher made but will be inclined to consult it a violent attack upon Bible So. frequently, seriously, and with care. cieties. He seemed greatly offend. The possession of copies of the ed at the existence of these institu. Scriptures would be a boon of great tions, and greatly hurt at th value to those who could read them, ertions at the countenance they if they were also persuaded of their meet with, and at the success that importance. And those who canattends them.

not read them, or do not understand Amidst many simple and com. their use, are proper objects of our mon-place remarks upon the im- solicitude, and should receive our portance of education, and the duty aid to enable them to read and un, of promoting it, which no person, I derstand them. Then the possuppose, ever seriously thought of session of the Scriptures would not disputing, the preacher hazarded be, as this gentleman insinuates, many absurd and extravagant posi- useless and unavailing. tions, and uttered many untenable Neither is it true, which this assertions. Some of his dogmatis gentleman says, “ That if they decal assertions and objections I sire them, they may easily procure noted down at the time of hearing them for themselves." Had this and as the paper lately fell in my gentleman read the reports of the way, I shall now consider them a Bible Societies, he would have found little.

that many persons in different coun, The preacher observed that “ If tries have great desire for the pospeople have no desire for reading, session of the Scriptures, and a the possession of copies of the Scrip- great desire for reading them; whọ tures would avail nothing; and," cannot procure them at any price, said he, “ if they desire them, they and but for the intervention and may easily procure them for them- aid of the British and Foreign Bible selves." But did this gentleman Society, or of some other similar never know, that the want of desire institution, must have continued

ex.

« VorigeDoorgaan »