« VorigeDoorgaan »
followed by any who possess the spirit of the Great Master, and whose steady aim is the enforcement of truth, and the salvation of souls.
At the present moment the Church of England boasts a large body of faithful and devoted pastors, whose zeal for the divine glory and the good of souls is not surpassed in the purest communions; and it is therefore peculiarly hazardous, at such a crisis, to join with infidels and others in the vulgar cry, “Down with the Church,” inasmuch as it tends to shock the prejudices of thousands of worthy and devoted persons, whose ideas of religion have all been formed and fostered within the bosom of the National Church, and who are apt, when they hear sentiments of this description uttered, to think unfavourably of the good sense, candour, and piety of the Dissenters.
I would by no means recoinmend my brethren to cultivate a time-serving habit in their mode of speaking on matters connected with church polity-much less would I advise them to conceal their views of the kingdom of heaven; but, without falling into either of these errors, may they not more effectually subserve the interests of divine truth by gentle and persuasive methods, than by severe and uncharitable denouncements ? If the question of church government is too prominently exhibited, is there not some
danger of a nominal and worldly dissent being propagated, which would prove the inevitable ruin of non-conformity ? Besides, may we not expect that a censorious and proud spirit will be generated by a constant reference to the defects and failings of others; and that our churches will thereby be filled with a class of political and disputatious professors, rather than with humble followers of the cross?
My firm opinion is, that dissent, as such, is in general best taught in personal intercourse, where any observation that is misunderstood can be immediately explained, and where the pious aim of a pastor may be distinctly perceived. It is indeed a poor affair to make dissenters where the vital truths of the gospel have not been embraced; and if we are wise to win souls, it is but a matter of secondary moment if we fail to bring new converts to our views of the government of the Christian church. For my own part, I am determined more and more, by the help of divine grace, to preach Christ, and to visit all, without exception, who resort to my place of worship, leaving consequences with God; and to be ready at all times to acknowledge any good thing I may discover in the clergy or members of the Church of England, and to co-operate with them in doing good to the bodies and souls of men.
A FRIEND TO CHARITY.
“ Temperance Societies are excellent in their place, but preposterous out of their place."
Such, Sir, is the estimate formed of these institutions, and which was publicly avowed the other day, by a gentleman who officiates in a neighbouring episcopal chapel, and whom (though differing from him on some non-essential points) I hold in high and deserved esteem.
The opinion of an influential minister of the gospel can never be indifferent to the friends and supporters of Temperance Societies; but I should gladly have been excused from troubling you on this subject, did I not feel it a duty to correct a mistake which appears to prevail on this subject, not only in the mind of the estimable individual referred to, but also in the minds of other ministers and Christian friends, viz. that we put-or at least seem to do so—these Societies in the place of the gospel.
For myself, and for my brother secretaries—and I believe for every member of the Parent Committee- I can answer that such a thought is abhorrent to every feeling of our hearts. We have indeed avowed our conviction, that, though not professing the conversion of sinners, they have yet been, like John the Baptist, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” So far, however, is this view from any—the remotesttendency to depreciate the gospel, that it necessarily implies its vast superiority.
The writer of these remarks trusts that, under the circumstances of the case, he shall be forgiven for saying he will yield to none of your readers in attachment to the great leading and fundamental doce trines of the gospel-these, and these alone, are the power of God to the salvation of every one that believeth. It is the free and faithful proclamation of
these, he believes, which has in every age been the grand mean of extending the triumphs of the cross—these have been his own support in many a happy and many a melancholy hour, and they are far dearer to him than life itself, but feeling as he does the growing conviction that these Societies are an adjunct to the gospel, and that, through the blessing of Almighty God (“ without whose blessing nothing is wise, or holy, or strong”), they have been productive of benefits, the extent and importance of which eternity only will disclose, he is anxious to remove objections which he is quite willing to allow do, at first sight, seem to lie against them, and which he knows have weighed with many to whose judgment he is accustomed to defer, and for a time kept them aloof from the Society.
Others have supposed “it is an interference with the grace of the gospel,” and on this account have hesitated to join us. The motive in these cases cannot possibly be too highly praised, as it is designed to secure all the glory to God. I trust I
feel equally jealous with them on this score also; but may I venture to ask, with all deference, if he operates less really, because he operates instrumentally; and if the same objection would not apply with equal force to the building of an hospital? In a word, can the prevention of an acknowledged and monstrous evil --nay, more, the inculcation of one of the graces of the Holy Spirit (for such is temperance,) -- be justly considered "an interference with the grace of the gospel ?”
B ut I forbear.-I will trespass no longer on your patience than, in conclusion, to express my sanguine hope that the result of a patient and candid examination of its claims will be the cordial approval of a society upon which, I am bold to avow it as my conviction, the great Head of the Church has evidently set his seal.
I am, my dear Sir,
N. E.S. Camberwell Grove,
ON SLAVE-LABOUR LUXURIES.
A HINT FROM THE EDINBURGH 'REVIEW.
To the Editor. Sir,—Thousands of persons in various parts of the kingdom (oh, that we could reckon them by hundreds of thousands!) have long abstained from sugar, and other articles of luxury, on conscientious grounds. In what light Christians who refuse to practise such abstinence are regarded by the irreligious and semireligious, will appear by the following extract from the Edinburgh Reviewer's remarks on a book entitled “The Drama brought to the test of Scripture, and found wanting."
“The tendency of the stage to demoralize its professors, is urged as an imperative motive for its discouragement Now if the principle (implied in this argument) be a just and sacred one, it is manifestly binding, on those who hold it as such, in all cases and circumstances whatever, where it is applicable. That the evangelical class do not so hold it, we are warranted to conclude from their total neglect of it, except in the instance of the actor. We can discover no gratification, however selfish or temporary,
which they deny themselves from the motive here assigned for the discouragement of the drama. If there be any earthly profession or occupation imperiously calling for the exercise of their principle, it is that of the dealer in human flesh. The luxury he provides us with is the fruit of an iniquitous traffic ; it is purchased by the employment of thousands in a pursuit altogether foreign from a life of holiness, and especially denounced by the evangelical party as contrary to the spirit and precepts of the gospel. Does one in a hundred of thein deny himself the luxury? We verily believe not. They gratify their palates with this product of an atrocious and demoralizing trade, and then turn round to warn their worldly brethren against the deadly sin of encouraging the profession of a player.”
The rule with myself and my friends is, either to make use of articles which are prepared by free labourers, or, in default of such articles, to do without them.
LETTER FROM A YOUNG CLERGYMAN TO AN OLD ONE.
Communicated by the Rev. R. Hill.
Acle, March 13, 1830. impression. These are times peculiarly MY DEAREST SIR, -As I have the fraught with danger to the minister of means of sending a parcel to town, I the gospel; and these dangers are only to cannot deny myself the pleasure of assur- be avoided by carefully watching over ing you how much I felt obliged by your our own deceitful hearts, by earnest most kind letter, and the excellent advice prayer, and serious study of the Bible. it contained. Flowery declamation in the We must never get above or beyond that pulpit is, to my mind, one of the most book; it must be our ladder to learning sickening things that can be conceived; even unto grey hairs, as I am sure you and, to say nothing of its bad taste, will, my dear sir, readily admit. What evinces a sinful desire of personal ad- snares arise to young ministers from the miration, instead of an earnest wish to public religious meetings of this day, discharge, with a single eye to the glory from all the ostentatious machinery of God, the most important fupction of of their management! and how careful our great office—the simple preaching of should we be (while we could not be a crucified Redeemer—the leading of warranted in entirely standing aloof poor lost sinners to a saving knowledge of from them) that we are not led away, by Christ as made sin for us. The more we the display of the hall and the business become acquainted with our own hearts, of the committee-room, from the closet, the greater must be our dissatisfaction the study, and the diligent care of our with ourselves; and it is an awful respective flocks! I fear the waters of thought, that if God were extreme to religion, though spreading wide, are shalmark our infirmities, every sermon we low; and if God should cause a sifting preach must in some measure carry our time to arise in his church, how many of own condemnation along with it. I must us would abide the trial? The great secret acknowledge that the time was, when I of embarking with Christ upon the trouwas desirous to have it said of me, how bled lake of the ministry, for better and well he has preached, what a powerful ser- for worse, is to labour to cut the cable mon; but I trust I can say with truth, which has too long and too firmly at. that this feeling has, in a great measure, tached us to self and to the world. May left me, and that I am willing that the God, in his mercy, give us to do this! earthen vessel should be forgotten in the I am now reading the Bible in the contemplation of the treasure it contains; Hebrew with a converted Jewish Rabbi, and I am sure that, by God's grace, the at Norwich, of whom I take weekly leshigher I rise in heavenly-mindedness, the sons. I feel much interested in the study lower I shall fall in humility. If the of that language. I had no previous doctrine of the gospel enlightens, and the conception of the beautiful simplicity and love of Christ inspires our hearts, we grandeur of the Old Testament. The shall be enabled to say with the apostle, Rabbi says it is worth while to learn We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus Hebrew, if it be only to read the story of the Lord. Oh! what a blessing to forget Joseph in the original. self, and to be eternally longing and watch With our united best love, believe me, ing for souls; to agonize for the convic
Dearest Sir, tion and conversion of sinners, and not to Your most grateful and affectionate, strive for that vain admiration which is the
EDWIN SIDNEY. surest antidote to serious and permanent
SOME ACCOUNT OF A CONVERSION WHICH TOOK PLACE IN AN
AMERICAN REVIVAL. Mr. Editor,—You have often favoured gion which have taken place amongst your readers with some interesting com them; and are particularly indebted to munications from America; and many of our esteemed friend and brother, the us have had the opportunity of hearing, Rev. C. Colton, for publishing those infrom the lips of our transatlantic breth- teresting statements which he has kindly ren, something of those revivals of reli- given to several of our congregations.
I do not, however, recollect that we have ever had, in the pages of the Evangelical Magazine, any communications directly from those individuals who were themselves made the subjects of conversion at any of those seasons; having, therefore, within the last few days, had a letter from a young man to his sister put into my hands, whose mother is a member of the church over which I am permitted to preside, who appears to have been made a subject of divine grace on one of those occasions, I have thought that it might be interesting to your readers to have the opportunity of reading it. It relates the simple fact in a very plain and artless manner-the operations of his own mind at the time—his resist. ance of the plan proposed, and the power of divine grace in subduing the enmity of his heart, and leading him to a humble affiance in the Saviour. I shall transcribe it, therefore, as it is before me, with the earnest desire and hope that it may be rendered useful to some, and especially to the young, to whom the Father of Mercies condescends to say, “Give me thine heart;" “ I love them that love me, and they that seek me early shall find me.”
“D , April 11, 1832. “MY DEAR SISTER, —
And now I will tell you the reason of my not writing to you before. One of the religious societies in this place holds a four days' meeting, when the services are continued with very little intermission, and generally productive of much good. So it proved at this time; the meeting commenced on the Saturday evening, when I attended for the first time. After the sermon, it was intimated that those who felt desirous of having the prayers of God's people, would do well to take their station together in the front row below the pulpit. I felt a great desire to be prayed for, but through pride and the fear of man I held back. How true is that passage of Scripture: “ The fear of man bringeth a snare.” I felt, however, the necessity of an interest in Christ, and went home under very deep and serious impressions. The next day (the Sabbath I attended again; and, in the evening, the same course was followed as on the preceding. I happened to be sitting in the seat those who wished particularly to be prayed for were to occupy; and at first I thought I would sit still, but pride again overcame me, and I lose up and removed into another seat. I had not
remained long, however, before I felt constrained to go back and take my station with those who desired to be prayed for: and I have reason to bless God that he led me, by the influence of his Holy Spirit, to take that first step towards the kingdom of heaven.
I think I felt the awfulness of my situation. I saw my danger as a sinner, and my need of a Saviour; and these impressions I continued to feel for some days. I was convinced, but not converted; and it was not till I was brought by the grace of God to give myself entirely up to Christ, and to rest on his atoning sacrifice and all-prevalent intercession, that I began to feel any thing like peace and joy. And now I have a hope that I have found forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ; that I am accepted in the beloved, and constituted a member of the household of faith-the family of heaven. I have since joined the church; and it is my earnest prayer that I may be found walking as becomes a child of God, and worthy of the vocation wherewith I am called. Oh, my. dear sister! if you have an interest at the throne of grace, pray for me, as I do for you; and if you have not an interest there, oh, begin to seek the Lord while he may be found, and to call upon him while he is near! I feel the greatest anxiety for your welfare, both temporal and spiritual, the latter especially. But a short time since, and I was utterly unconcerned about these things, living without God, without Christ, and without hope in the world ; and I now look back with sorrow on my past life; I can see no well-spent time; nothing but a total neglect of all the pious admonitions I had received from my dear mother and aunt: even her parting advice to read my Bible was neglected; I scarcely ever looked at it, and never with a desire to profit by it. I can now take and read it with interest and delight, and with an earnest desire to understand its blessed truths. How thankful ought I to be that I am placed in a religious family! I hope I am grateful for it, when I see so many of my young friends like-minded with myself deprived of the blessing of surrounding a family altar, and jeered by their fellow-workmen on account of their religion.
“God has graciously visited this place; numbers have been truly converted from the error of their ways; a great many young men, and some of the most bar
denod, are among them; and the work is still going on. There were sixty joined the church when I did; all of whom, with the exception of four, were those who had come forward publicly to be prayed for. The meetings still continue every evening, and the members are increasing daily. Several of us young men hold a prayer-meeting among ourselves every night in one of the stores, which we enjoy very much, and which we hope our God will own and bless.
“ Yours, &c.”
Such is that part of the letter which relates to the conversion of the writer; and the fact itself, and the circumstances with which it was attended, have suggested a few considerations to my mind, which perhaps you will allow me, Mr. Editor, to add.
The first thing that suggested itself to my mind on the reading of this letter was this: That if meetings for prayer, frequently held, and conducted with becominy earnestness and importunity, are thus signally owned and blessed in America, why should not we follow the example, and expect the same results in Britain I am aware that this is the case in some of our churches, and I believe they have seen the benefit of it; but, having had occasion to travel through a large part of the country recently for the benefit of my health, I am persuaded that it is far from being general. Meetings for prayer amongst us are too few and too formal; and there are few churches that have more than one prayer-meeting in the course of the week. Surely they may be increased without laying ourselves open to the charge, “To what purpose are the multitude of your sacrifices unto me, saith the Lord.”
Our God is, indeed, a sovereign, who dispenses the gifts of his Spirit, and the blessings of his grace, as it seemeth him good; but he himself hath said, “ I will be inquired of.” He has commanded us, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, to make our requests known to him; and he is the same prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God in Britain as in America. How is it, then, that we have not more signal and frequent answers to prayer? I should be ashamed, and think I had taken leave of my senses, if I were to expect any thing extravagant or miraculous; I see no warrant for any thing of the kind in the sacred Scriptures; and it is evident that
God has carried on his work since the apostolic age without miraculous interposition. But I remember, also, that it is written, “ Ye have not because ye ask not;" or, “because ye ask amiss.” It is to be feared, that we are not so earnest and importunate at our meetings for prayer as we ought to be, for those who are ignorant and out of the way, and for those who are brought under some concern about their state in the sight of God. Too much dulness and lukewarmness, indifference and formality, are to be found in our meetings for prayer. Let us, then, be excited to plead with God, for the outpouring of his Spirit, as a spirit of grace and of supplication, and surely it shall not be in vain.
T he second thing which struck me on the perusal of this letter was, the encouragement it affords to parents to persevere, and never to give up praying for their offspring. It may appear for a season to be to no purpose, but it is not so. The widowed mother of this young man bore him in remembrance at the throne of grace; and though she had little or no encouragement for a while, the end proves that it was not in vain.
Young people may be separated from their relatives and friends, and led to sojourn in a distant land; but God can meet with them abroad as well as at home, and bring them to himself. This youth had often heard the gospel, the glad tidings of salvation by Jesus Christ, in this country, but it did not reach his heart. The set time, however, came; and, while far remote from his family and his friends, he is made to receive the truth in the love thereof, and becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus.
One thing more suggests itself, and that is,
Thirdly, How powerful are the operations of the Holy Spirit! He is, indeed, not only the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, but also the Spirit of might and of power; and it is God's office to convince of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. This young man resisted the first impressions; pride and the fear of man prevailed ; and he determined to keep away from the spot appointed for those to occupy who were under concern for their souls' eternal welfare, and desirous of having the prayers of the church; but he could not-he left the seat, but he was constrained to return to it again. And how often have we found this to be the case in the experience of those who have