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withhold not thy hand;" for many feel conviction who are ashamed to acknowledge it. The seed may be striking root; and soon bring forth fruit of thirty, sixty, or a hundred fold."

Be watchful against prejudice; for the poor too often envy and misrepresent each other; do not hastily believe all you hear; for poverty may prove the occasion of much falsehood: nor abandon a doubtful case: but in the Spirit of Job, say, "the cause which I knew not, I searched out."

Consider the natnre, and degree of affliction under which many are suffering. They are" holden in cords of affliction;"-setting in darkness, bound in affliction and iron;-trembling under "the rod, the stripes, the chastening of the Lord." Or suffering by confinement, pain and disgrace; complaining, "He putteth my feet in the STOCKS." In such circumstancns of trial, "thou shalt open thy hand WIDE to thy poor brother;" for, "he that shutteth his ears at the cry of the poor, shall himself cry and shall not be heard." It is in affliction that "GOD openeth the ears of men and sealeth their instruction;" let us be "workers together with God," in accomplishing this design of mercy; that each visitor may prove a messenger-one of a thousand, to shew unto man, God's uprightness"in his dispensations. Thus may we approve ourselves to him who "is good and doeth good." Thus may we "remember them which suffer adversity;"-honour the Lord with our substance; imitate the example of him who "went about doing good;" and prove, by delightful experience, that "it is more BLESSED to give than to receive."

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No. XI.


Ir often happens, that persons of property are admitted into a Christian church, on easier terms than the poor; and the minister and congregation are elated, because Mr. Z., a man of property, has joined them. Perhaps their joy will be justified by the unassuming conduct of this good man. Perhaps he is wise, humble, teachable, and self-denying. Perhaps he does not give his name and money as a substitute for other duties; but visits the sick, aids his minister by his diligence, shuns power, or meekly and faithfully uses it. Let me not be misunderstood, as if I intended to insinuate that property and principle were incompatible; for Job was, in his day, the greatest and the best man in the East. "Abraham was rich in silver and gold and cattle;" and "walked humbly with God." The evil I complain of, is, that of exalting persons of wealth in the church, on

account of the influence they derive from their property; because they often dictate sentiments to ministers,-insult and oppress members of the church, who are their inferiors in wealth,-bias the minds of their dependants,-produce factions and divisions,-by becoming leaders of a party, or by countenancing others to become such.

Should a person of property possess talents for preaching in the villages, without the spirit of the Gospel, he may boast of preaching without reward; gain acceptance for a season, solely on that account; deceive himself, by supposing his preaching is acceptable; whilst the righteous are declining in the power of religion, and the wicked "waxing worse" by his inconsistency. Such a person becomes the greater trial to the minister and the church, because he will always find some to excuse his faults, and to flatter him for his apparent virtues. He is above reproof, and opposes scriptural discipline in the church, when it corrects him or his favourites. If he gives offence to the minister, or a private member, the rule is plain"Confess your faults one to another." He admits the propriety of this rule, if any one offends him; but if he be required to acknowledge his fault, he resents the demand, and complains of the minister and the church for abusing their power. The reproof is ill-timed, or not administered with proper respect. He "covers his sin" by excuses, and dwells on the real or the imaginary faults of others. Readily admitting that he is not altogether blameless, he will rather acknowledge any imperfection, than the sin of which he is accused. The consequences are resentment, disaffection, separation, or factious opposition. If a minister should be poor or timid, one of these aspiring men will endeavour to melt down his faithfulness, by good dinners, good presents, or good subscriptions; or to intimidate him by unkindness. He expects a minister to comply with his partialities and prejudices. He is jealous of the notice the minister takes of others. He cannot endure the minister's preference of character to wealth. This principle destroys his consequence. If he should be in office, as a deacon-he threatens to leave it. If this will not satisfy his anger, he will leave the church; and, last of all, he will leave the ministry of the man, who will not become his dupe and his tool. As he loses favour in the church, he will, by a loan to one, a gift to a second, and attention to a third, purchase the favour of carnal men. To them he endeavours to conceal his own faults, by justifying the change in his conduct. The minister, says he, I allow to be a man of talent; but he is arbitrary, personal in his preaching, or negligent in his visits. All at once, this minister, who has been for many years the only man in the world that could please, is now deficient in sense and prudence, character and talents. Or, if he be allowed talents, there is something awfully deficient; he is not the man he appeared to be. This occasions secret slanders; they lead to examination: this produces confusion to the slanderer, and "brings forth the faithful minister's character as the LIGHT, and his righteousness as the NOON-DAY."

Orthodoxy and morality may acquire a good name in the church, especially when aided by a few instances of public liberality. These things are often applauded, by flatterers, as evidences of godliness. The form of religion, for which they are often very zealous, exalts them in public opinion, and they "walk in a vain shew;" while some prevailing lust gradually forms their character, by progressive indulgence, while presumption, under the name of faith, supports their spirits. Some trial of the faithfulness of the minister and the church, which demands prompt decision, excites resentment and opposition, gives occasion to the overflowing of "the gall of bitterness," and proves them to be held in some "bond of iniquity."

They attempt to shut a minister's mouth by representing him as arbitrary, personal, or unfriendly to peace. Their motto is, "follow peace;" whilst pride or covetousness, impunity or injustice, selfwill and love of pre-eminence mark their characters. Imperious as masters, tyrannical as members of the church-and dictatorial to ministers, because above them in wealth-they deem that minister proud who cannot debase his character, by paying homage to their vanity or their purse. As they lose their characters in the church they seek one in the world, by an indiscriminate liberality. Here they obtain "a name to live, whilst they are dead." A few serious minds may become first their dupes, then their tools; and afford them confidence, in the midst of dead frames, dead companions, and dead works. Accommodating themselves to a low standard of character, of which many men of the world are ashamed, they become stumbling blocks-occasions of falling to many others.

The sound of peace, peace, is very plausible; and a stranger might suppose the minister was an enemy to peace: but if PEACE and HOLINESS be the minister's motto-this sufficiently accounts for the censure he bears. A proud, covetous, malevolent or sensual man, cannot follow holiness; but he may easily cry-peace! peace! But, as an eminent writer has well remarked, PEACE, at the expense of TRUTH and HOLINESS, is purchased too dearly."


A purse-proud professor of religion, who lusts for office and power in the church, is the last man to be trusted with power. He is wise in his own conceit-his will is law. He would dictate to the minister how to preach, and how to act. He reproves others freely; for, proclaiming his own goodness, he tells you he must be faithful. But he, himself, is above reproof; and impatient of the least contradiction. The PURSE of this conceited man, gives him, he imagines, a right to reprove and teach the minister, to whom he is indebted for his little knowledge. He reproves others, not to, correct their mistakes; but to expose them and exalt himself. He may stand alone for a time; but if he should meet with a few discontented spirits above the law of Christ, he will "join hand in hand" with them; and his money for a season may afford him opportunities to gratify his resentment to ministerial fidelity. Let us look, then, with

comparative indifference, on worldly circumstances, concerning which those who have no sense of a higher interest are exceedingly solicitous; and let us regulate our value of all the good things of this life, by a regard to their aspects on our religious characters and hopes. If low circumstances may improve these; let us look on them as true exaltation; and if wealth, honour and applause, may endanger these, let us rather fear them than aspire to them." There is a weight of character, honour and felicity, "immortal as its great original!"

"Civil distinctions, are founded on the different relations and circumstances of mankind, in the present world;" but as God bestows them on the worst of characters, and withholds them from the besthe shows what little things worldly distinctions are in his sight. Shall I then admire a rich man for his wealth without characterand slight a poor man of character because he is poor?--Is this imitating God as dear children ?"

In estimating the value of external circumstances, the most fatal mistakes are made; the word of God, corrects them. The Christian indeed, though of a poor and obscure condition," the brother of low degree," is exhorted to "rejoice, in that he is exalted." A poor Christian rejoice? Yes!-let him rejoice in his intimate relation to Jesus Christ-his union with him by a participation of his Spiritand that in conformity to him in his low sphere of life; for he became poor." Let him rejoice that "the poor are evangelized," under advantages which shelter them from the temptations of the rich. "Hearken, my beloved brethren!. hath not God chosen such poor persons to be rich in faith;" rich by an interest in all the promises of grace and glory?-His sanctified poverty promotes his dependance on God, the frequency and fervency of prayer ;-weans him from the world, spiritualizes his hopes and fears, his joys and sorrows, his cares and pursuits. To such it may be said, "blessed are YE poor; for your's is the kingdom of Heaven!" "Let not the rich man glory in his riches," as if they imparted to him weight of character ; for they nourish pride and self-dependance; become the life of temptation to sin;-alienate his affections from God;-draw round him artful flatterers ;-place him above salutary reproof;-give force to his bad passions, by expressions of self-will, by overbearing and tyrannical conduct;-censorious and contemptuous language. "How hardly shall they that have riches, enter the kingdom of God !"

"If a rich man rejoice," let it not be in the height of his circumstances; but that "he is made low," in the humiliation of his mind;— confiding in the atonement of the Redeemer, and the grace of God revealed in his promises, for pardon and life, holiness, peace, and eternal life. These blessings are substantial, satisfying and permanent; whilst the rich man, merely as a rich man, "shall pass away as the flower of the grass." He leaves the world in the midst of his prosperity, which can neither afford him acceptance with God, peace of mind, nor final happiness.

No. XII.


"Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteous."

I. What did Abraham believe?

1. THE PROMISE, that his offspring should be as the stars of heaven; although he and Sarah were old, and stricken in years.

2. The promise of the land of Canaan, to him and his posterity, although then possessed by giants.

3. That Jesus Christ, the promised Saviour, should come in the flesh; in the line of his family. Gal. iii., 16. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not to seeds as of many; but as of ONE; and to thy seed, which is CHRIST. He saw Christ, in the promise ; "He saw his day," the day of his incarnation, or the day of his becoming man. He saw the end of his coming, in that eminent type of him, the offering up of his only, beloved son, Isaac, as a sacrifice to God.

4. The promise of a spiritual seed, of real believers. He was the Father, pattern, of all them that believe; the Father of many nations; that is, of believers in many nations.

5. He believed the special promise, made to himself. "I will bless THEE, and make thy name great. Surely! blessing, I will bless thee, and thou shalt be A BLESSING," to others.

Thus "Abraham believed in the Lord,"-in his MERCY, making the promise; and confirming it by an oath ;-in his TRUTH and FAITHFULNESS and POWER, to perform it. Luke i.

II. The consequence of his faith."It was counted to him for righteousness."

His faith, was not his righteousness, as a righteous act; for then he would have been justified by works. "Now to him that worketh, is the reward of justification, not reckoned of GRACE; but of debt: but to him that worketh not"—for justification, but believeth on him that justifieth the UNGODLY,-his faith is counted for righteousness; that is, for OBTAINING it. Faith terminates on, and rests in, CHRIST for righteousness and justification.

Abraham believed in God, and it was accounted to him, or placed to his account, in order to, or for, his justification.

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