Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

revelation teach us to form of the justice and goodness of God, and of the principles upon which his government is conducted, that we justly pause when it is proposed to us as an article of faith, and call for undoubted and decisive evidence from divine revelation before we can give it credence. Such evidence, we presume, the word of God does not contain ; and though its discoveries on this subject may not equal the expectations of the sanguine, or the wishes of the curious, yet it is believed that the doctrine of infant salvation may be fairly proved from the Sacred Volume, and that no parent has cause for painful anxiety or suspense respecting the everlasting state of his children dying in infancy, or previous lo their arrival at years of knowledge, judgment, and responsibility. Such proof we shall endeavour to adduce with brevity and conciseness, leaving the subject to be prosecuted by some other correspondent more largely and fully. To the law and to the testimony."

1. Our first argument is from Mark x. 13–17, compared with Matt. xix. 13, 14. “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them : and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." By the kingdom of God we may understand heaven, properly so called, the future place and state of the blessed. In this sense, if the term such refer to little children, the proof is complete. But if, as the original TOHOUTWY seems to indicate, the term refers to such intelligent and free agents as resemble them in spirit and disposition, the proof still appears complete; for if those who resemble little children are entitled to heaven, how much more little children themselves. If those who may be considered as the copy, find admission, will not the model, or original, find admission too? Should it be said that the kingdom of God here means his spiritual kingdom, or a state of aceeptance with him upon earth, and union with his people, it will amount to the same thing; for ihe kingdom of grace leads directly to the kingdom of glory. This argument is further confirmed by the implied declaration, that whoso. ever shall receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall enter therein. If so, will not the little children, to whose pattern they are conformed, enter in too? It may be further added, that the fact of the disciples attempting to hinder their approach, the great displeasure of Jesus on that account, the command that he issued, and the kind and affectionate manner in which he “ took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them,” speaks powerfully in favour of their eternal salvation should they die in infancy or childhood.

2. Our next argument shall be taken from Matt. xvii. 1-3, “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” This is equivalent to saying, that if they were converted, and did become as little children, they should enter into the kingdom of heaven. If, therefore, those who sustain the pattern will find admission into the kingdom of beaven, how much more those who may be considered as the original, or model.

3. The next argument which we adduce is taken from Ezek. xviii. 2, 4, 20, compared with Jer. xxxi. 29, 30,"Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine : the soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son.” It is allowed on all hands, that infants, and unconscious children, have never committed actual and personal sin. So far as guilt or depravity attaches to them, they have derived it by descent from their great progenitor. They are guiltless of all personal and actual iniquity; therefore, they shall not perish for, or through, the iniquity of their first father. Consequently they shall be saved, dying in infancy.

4. Another argument we draw from 2 Sam, xii. 22, 23, " And he said, While the child was yet alive I fasted and wept; for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” The most easy and natural interpretation of this passage, in the way of consolation, is, that the child was gone to heaven, and that he hoped to follow and join the departed babe there. Any other meaning would yield poor consolation.

6. Additional arguments may be drawn from the justice, goodness, and mercy of God-the nature, design, and extent of the atonement, as set forth Rom. v. throughout, particularly from verse 12 to 21 inclusive-the fact that children are called innocents, Jer. ii. 34, and xix. 4-are claimed by the Lord as bis charge and beritage, Ezek. xvi. 21, Ps. cxxvii. 3-the Dalure of the future judgment-the grounds on which that punishment will hereafter be inflicted - the analogy which subsists between earthly fathers and our heavenly Father, Psalm ciii. 13—and the consideration, that in no instance of Scripture in which the sins of the fathers appear to be visited on the children, is there a direct or fairly deducible reference to their future and eternal state. Each of these topics might be usefully dilated upon, but we shall not prosecute the subject further at present. It deserves to be observed, however, in conclusion, that what we have advanced respects all children indiscriminately, those of believers and those of unbelievers, and that irrespective of any rite or ceremony administered to them as a passport or help to the kingdom of heaven.

May the Lord bless the reading of this short essay, and render it especially consolatory to mourning parents who bave lost, or are on the point of losing, their dear little ones.

I. B. August 6th, 1841.

AN ADDRESS TO PROFESSORS OF CHRISTIANITY ON THE PREVAILING NEGLECT OF WEEK DAY

EVENING MEETINGS.*

Dear FRIENDS,—The prophet Malachi bath left it upon record that in his day “they that feared the Lord spake often one to another;" and the apostle exhorts the Hebrews not to forsake the assembling of themselves together, as the manner of some was. It is also well known that it hath long been the practice of most dissenting congregations, and indeed of some among the establishment, to set apart one evening in the week besides the

• The above was written more than forty years ago. It is too much called for at the present time.-ED.

Lord's-day, for public worship, and to enjoy the advantage of a short exhortation to their respective, social, and relative christian duties; which meetings bave generally been considered, under the divine blessing, conducive, not only to the promotion of religion in general, but of experimental and practical religion in particular. But it is very painful to observe how very few there are that, with regularity and constancy, fill up their places at these opportunities.

This we find to be a matter of complaint from many places at our annual associations, both as it respects week day evenings, and Lord’s-day mornings, and that the complaint is general, we may learn by conversing with both ministers and people of different denominations.

Happy should I be if there were less cause for complaints of this nature, and that evangelical ministers of every name, instead of having little besides the walls and seats of their chapels, had the general part of their congregations before them, desiring to hear the words of eternal life, feeding upon them with sacred delight, saying they are sweet to our taste, sweeter than honey, or the honey-comb, more precious than thousands of gold and silver. To such, who frequently neglect both their duty and their privilege in this respect, I beg leave to submit a few things to their consideration.

First. Think closely how your pastor, or teacher, (who it is supposed is of your own choosing) must feel in his own mind at seeing your places frequently empty. He has been diligently searching into the divine records for your advantage; he has laid bis own case and yours before the Lord in fervent, secret prayer, and repairs to the bouse of God, desirous to impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established. But to you, whose good he peculiarly studied, his studies, his prayers, his exhortations, are all lost; he returns in sadness complaining to his God, in the bitterness of his soul, “ I have laboured in vain, and spent my strength for nought.”

Second. Think how discouraging to those few who do attend, to observe such a remissness in many of their brethren, and along with this, perhaps, a knowledge that only some trifling circumstances have hindered you from coming; nor has your neglect an unhappy effect upon these only, but also upon all such as are under any serious impresssons of religion; to such your conduct frequently proves a stumbling. block.

Third. Enquire, I pray you, whether this neglect, if frequent, has not an unbappy effect upon your own minds. Do you suffer nothing to keep you back but what you are persuaded will stand before God, the searcher of hearts ? Has not your faith been weakened, nor your love diminished ? Have not the springs of evangelical obedience been impaired? And has not a wordly spirit and conduct succeeded in their place? If this be the case, it is alarming indeed.

My dear friends, if you bave a desire remaining to strengthen the bands of your ministers in their arduous work, to encourage the hearts of your brethren in their pilgrimage, and to keep up the life, and power, and joy, of religion in your own souls, as well as to contribute to the promotion of religion in the world, fill up your places in the house of God. Make it appear

that

your views correspond with those of David, when he says, "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my fesb crieth out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young; even thine altars, O Lord, of hosts; my King, and any God Blessed are they that dwell in thy house : they will be still praising thee.”—Psalm lxxxiv. 1-4.

"How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.” Psalm xxxvi. 7, 8. That the above may become the experience of every reader's heart is the

A WELL-WISHER TO Zion.

prayer of

GENERAL BAPTIST HISTORY.

Continued from page 236. It may be recollected by many aged persons that the performance of the ceremony of marriage was not exclusively the privilege of the establishment, the Quakers, and Jews, till about forty-four years* ago, but dissenters of every denomination were allowed to perform it in their own way, and such marriages were deemed legal and valid.

This new denomination of dissenters therefore availed themselves of the privilege, having an equal right with others, according to the law then existing. They had their own form, and many of their community were married by their own ministers. Among others, Mr. John Aldridge, of Hugglescote, was married to Miss Elizabeth Cooper; nor had they any reason to suspect damage in consequence of it. But implacable enmity Dever wants means of torment, when there is an object on which to exercise its vengeance. The priests and the rulers of the people found it very easy to persecute the innocent and benevolent Jesus, bis apostles, and followers and to stit up the ignorant multitude to acts of audacity and violence, which they would never have thought of, or would have been ashamed to commit, had they not been instigated by powerful, interested, bigotted, and unprincipled men.

The circumstance now alluded to, was accompanied with no small share of the same spirit. A gentleman, the father of a clergyman, whose name it is better to consign to oblivion, used the church warden as his tool to indict Mr. Aldridge in the spiritual court for living in adultery with Elizabeth Cooper. The result was, the gentleman and his tool were cast, and Mr. Aldridge was adjudged by the court as legally married, Dr. Turville, of Thurlastone, was a principal friend of Mr. Aldridge, and assisted him much by his direction and advice in the business. The church warden, defeated in his attempts, and fearing future consequences, was very dersirous to make Mr. Aldridge satisfaction, to prevent a prosecution against him for defamation : and thus this business ended about the middle of the year 1750.

The favourable issue of this business to Mr. Aldridge, however, did not extinguish the malevolence of his enemies, but rather inflamed them more than ever. The gentleman before mentioned used almost every means in his power to disgrace himself, and injure the objects of his hatred and malice. He would frequently shout at them while passing in the street, and thus excite others to insult and abuse them. An instance of this sort occurred at Hugglescote feast. Mr. Aldridge, bis wife, and several others, were returning peaceably home from the house of a friend, where they had been paying a social visit, when lo! they were quickly surrounded by an outrageous mob, headed by the gentleman. They were pushed beside the cause

See an act passed 26 Geo. II. cap. xxxiii. & 8. and 18. by which all Dissenting Do dominations, except Quakers and Jews, are prohibited the solemnization of matrimony in their congregations. (This was written in 1798.--ED.] VOL. 1. -N.S

2 M

way, thrown down and kicked by the shepherd, and most savagely treated by his dogs. The insurgents pursued them till they found an asylum in the house of Mr. Cooper; nor could the riot be quelled till the constable interfered, and by his resolute exertions they were obliged to desist.

In consequence of this outrageous conduct, and other instances of a similar kind, a prosecution was entered against the principal offender. The cause was tried at the assizes in Leicester, held in August 1751, and during the trial the jury were overheard consulting among themselves, and agreeing to give the cause to the defandant, let the evidence of the plaintiff be whatsoever it might. All the influence that could be procured on the side of the defendant was employed, while the plaintiffrested the evidence on notorious facts, attested by witnesses whose characters were unimpeached, and whose manner was so simple, and their testimony so clear and uniform, ibat the judge observed it was impossible to controvert it, or bring other evidence which could in the least invalidate it. He proposed to the defendant to coine to some terms of agreement, and mentioned a sum which he thought reasonable, and very moderate, considering the nature and aggravating circumstances of the offence. This was refused, and a less sum was then proposed, to which the defendant agreed, each paying his own expences of attornies and counsel. Thus malice and intolerancy were again defeated, and the civil and religious rights of Englishmen, which, in these people, had been dreadfully invaded, were asserted and restored. But, had the judge been a persecuting bigot, it would have afforded a glorious opportunity with such a jiry, for insolence and tyranny to triumph over justice and law.

The principal witnesses for the prosecution were Robert Aldridge, John Aldridge, Joseph Donisthorpe,* of Normanton-on-the-Heath, Joseph Bent, of Stanton-under-Bardon, Edward Grimley, of Donington, and Mary Aldridge. These were severally examined, and had these been insufficient there were many others at hand who were ready when called for to make their depositions.

In consequence of this victory over oppression and persecution, the people of this society considered it as a sigual interposition of divine providence,

* Joseph Donisthorpe, who was one of the preachers, and a man of quick apprehen. sion, and ready utterance, being called to give evidence, spoke with uncommon boldness, at the same time manifesting such seriousness and honesty, as made no small impression on the whole court. In addressing the judge, he prefaced his speech, which was of con. siderable length, in the following manner. “I am sensible my lord, that I now stand before not only an earthly judge, but that I am also in the presence of the Judge of heaven, and being accountable hereafter for all I say, shall speak the truth.”

+ Joseph Bent, in making his deposition, excited a good deal of risibility in court, being introduced nearly in the following manner.

Counsel. What have you to say respecting Mr. F.!
Bent. Why, he shouted, and whooped, and made a queer noise.

Counsel. He shouted, and whooped, and made a queer noise. Well: and pray, Mr. Bent, what was that queer noise that he made? What was it like?

Bent. It was like the noise of a padge.
Counsel. And pray what sort of a noise was that? Can you imitate it!
Bent. Why, I don't know; but I almost think I can.
Counsel. Come then, let us hear what the noise of a padge is.
Bent. Whoo-00-00-00.

This was done so completely pad ge-like, that it might have been supposed there had been an owl in court. An universal burst of laughter crowned Mr. Bent's evidence. N. B. Padge, is a very common provincial appellation in Leicestershire, among the vul. gar, for the owl.

« EdellinenJatka »