Sivut kuvina


It is usual with professors of religion in their contentions against and separations from each other, for each party to assert, that their cause is of God. This often has its source in ignorance, self-love, prejudice and passion. No peace or hope of a blessing can be enjoyed without the divine blessing; nor can character be sustained, if God be visibly against us.

But what is intended by this assertion, our cause is of God?

God may permit us to succeed in our plan, in judgment; by giving us up to walk in the way of our own hearts, counsels, and lusts. "Success is God's blessing on a good cause; and his curse on a bad one."

God may permit persons to succeed to a degree and for a time, to punish the pride of one, the covetousness of a second, the injustice and falsehood of a third, the artifice and sensuality of another.

He may permit several to withdraw from a church, to deprive them of abused privileges, and to remove stumbling blocks from the society, which their conduct had disgraced: for," next to the loss of God's presence, is the judgment of being cast out of the affections of God's people."

Or, whilst the only wise God," permits a person or faction to accomplish their design, his own design may be to exalt his own grace, and cover the instruments with shame. And the same trial which occasions the loss of several members and considerable property to the church, may multiply the members and increase their gifts, graces, and usefulness. But an individual or several persons united, in affirming their cause to be of God, may mean, that God approves their characters and plans; and disapproves of those they censure and oppose. Such persons ought to be certain of the purity of their motives and conduct; the clearness of the path of duty; the evidence of a providential call; the spirituality of their dispositions, and the justificatiou of their pursuits on scriptural reasons. Should they" deceive themselves," in being actuated by malevolent passions; by a desire to escape examination and just reproof; by resentment of the faithfulness of the minister and the church; by a desire to exalt themselves and degrade others; by a party spirit; by a knavish attempt to cover their sins, or promote their worldly interests; the cause may be of God, to manifest their real characters and punish their hypocrisy. Such persons may come under the charge and consequences of the following words,"Thou thoughtest I was altogether such an one as THYSELF; but I will reprove thee; and set thy sins in order before thee!"

The true signs that our cause is of God, are,-First, deliberation, caution, fear of taking a false step.

Secondly,-Diligence and impartiality in seeking advice.

disappoint his hope, and you kindle his resentment. If his secret, prevailing sin, is struck at by a faithful ministry, he vents his complaints of personality in the preacher. Should he find himself in the minority at a church meeting, he accuses the church of partiality, of arbitrary decisions, and of acting under the influence of others. Should the church continue "stedfast and immoveable" in its prompt and firm resistance of sin, he charges it with cruelty and obstinacy, and withdraws from its communion; and seeks society among antinomian professors and the men of the world. Thus, by faithful discipline, "the fruitless branch," is pruned off; by" the fan" of a faithful ministry, the chaff is separated. And as these "tares" are rooted by blood, interest, friendship, in the affections of some real christians, some of the wheat may for a time be sepa rated with them. This is an evil attendant on all christian societies in this imperfect state,-proves a trial to the church, and a snare to weak minds. But the connivance at public sin is an evil much greater, as "one such sinner destroys much good." "Put away from you that evil person," saith the apostle; for," a little leaven, leaveneth the whole lump." If, therefore, the minister and the church would be " as God's mouth; they must separate the precious from the vile."


You say there are too many books published. True: but you are not obliged to read them. Some are read with a desire to be impressed and improved. Some, from conceit or covetousness, write too much to be read; others write too little, from the fear of writing in vain.


It is not a little mortifying to read ten or twelve pages in a book, named "a review," expecting to find the excellences and defects of the author; and to find, instead of critical remarks on the book or pamphlet, an essay of the reviewer's on the subject! I am gratified by the sentiments of the reviewer; but I expect his judgment on the work; not a new work of his own; much less, his essay only. It is not sufficient to recommend a work: the improvement of the reader, by assisting him to form a just estimate of the work reviewed, should be the scope of the reviewer. A false candour, which conceals the faults of an author, and an unjust severity, which magnifies them, has an equal tendency to mislead the understanding; and, if the observation of the late Mr. R. Robinson, of Cambridge, is near the truth," that one half of mankind are able to find out the faults of an author, but the other half are unable to mend them," a correct

statement of the defects and merits of a book, is the more necessary in a reviewer.

I read the title of the book, think the subject interesting, and ask myself the question, shall I purchase it? The reviewer does not assist me in my decision, by a mere display of his own powers of writing on the subject. I may admire his talents and his views of the subject; but I expect his views of the book; without which, I am deceived and disappointed.

Let the reviewer, as far as he is able, without vanity or prejudice, favour or interest, give me the character of the book reviewed. This line of conduct will direct my understanding, guard my purse, and save my time. I lately read a book, written by Honestus, whose talents and character I greatly admired; it far exceeded my expectation, and afforded me much pleasure and profit. No thanks to two reviewers of the work; for one of them described it, in general terms, as the offspring of bigotry, and the other as a harmless child: one appears to have been actuated by prejudice, the other paralized by fear. One sacrificed the truth by misrepresentation, and the other by concealment. I am aware that impartial criticism may offend pride; but it may also humble it. "Your criticisms on my book," said an author to a reviewer, are really too nice." "They cannot be too nice," replied the reviewer, "if they are just." In reading a review, after patiently travelling over six pages of introductory remarks, I exclaimed, the book! the book! as the reviewer appeared to have it before him. I soon came to the following words; "To be concluded in our next."


In one month the reviewer began his essay on the subject; in the next, he concluded it: I admired the whole, which displayed the talents of the writer, but not his justice to the reader.


How many and various are the trials of the Minister of Jesus Christ! Among the rest, that of seeing his utmost exertions, for the advantage of souls, attended with lukewarm indifference. He studies his discourses with unremitting labour; his cares and prayers, and studies exhaust his strength and spirit; and, painful to relate, most painful to experience, he, apparently, "labours in vain." Is there not a cause? he says to himself; and, supposing something in him or his church, displeasing to God, he anxiously cries, " Lord is it I?" and if, after the most impartial scrutiny, he finds his own aims, temper, labour, and conduct approved by God and his own conscience, he feels a growing concern, that religion might flourish in his own soul: for, painful as it must be, for him to see others lukewarm, it must be still more painful, to feel himself so. What can


carry him through the fatigues of study, the labours of the pulpit, the trials of indifferent coldness in his hearers, and untold temptations from Satan?-what but living near to God, himself. The greater his trials, the more urgent necessity for close communion with God. O, what a miserable work is the ministry of the gospel, without a warm and lively, a devout and thankful, heart! To render the work pleasant, a man must be able to say, with Gabriel, “ I am a minister; I stand in the presence of God!"

Secondly; sometimes the minister of Jesus finds his own person disrespected by one or more of his church or subscribers. This is mortifying to human nature, discouraging to him in his labours; this renders him useless to such persons, and the minister fears, in proportion to the influence of such a disapproving hearer, that others in his church, and among his friends, will be ill-affected towards him. One moment he is tempted to resentment; but this will only blow up the flame, dishonour God, and render himself worthy the slight of others. The fear of the creature would rise up and bring a snare upon him. He dare not flatter their pride, nor crouch in a manner to feed ambition. What can he do? he fears consequences! Ah! what a near and dangerous foe to our duty, our real interest, and our peace, is carnal sense! Happiest christian and minister, who is most deaf to it. The minister, thus perplexed, is happily impelled to the throne of grace," pours out his complaint before God, and shows him his trouble." He is led to reflect on his special dominion. He sees all hearts in his hands. He learns that the present path of duty must be his concern; and his mind is eased of its anxieties, by leaving events with God. "He commits his work to the Lord; and his thoughts, however confused, perplexed, and painful, are established." He looks outward too, and sees providence, with some sickness or trial, visiting the person who would otherwise injure him; or, by some unthought of restraint, or event, removing the cause of his fears, and thereby cheering his mind with a better prospect: or, if they succeed against him, he is endowed with more grace, and enabled to endure "the contradiction of sinners."




AUGUST 10th, 1796, died my dear and only son, John Cooke. Delicate in his frame, and very subject to cold and fever, we always feared, for near five years, he could not live. The hooping cough so debilitated him, from its violence and continuance, as to strengthen

our fears. But, for twelve months past, our fears have been dispersed by an apparent change, in his constitution, for the better. He was lively in his temper; became very active and healthy. My first-born, Mary, died at four years of age, with a fever, which took her off in three days. Oh! the unutterable agonies I felt when she fell.


Two years after, my amiable Betsy left the world, distracted by water on her brain. And now my dear, dear boy, has gone by the croup, or something very much like it. The last, seemed the greatest sufferer, as he was, for three days, at times, nearly suffocated. My dear Mary was lively and sensible; and, within the last three months of her healthy life, I thought her "born of God-" so very obedient, submissive, tender, and sincere was she, in all she said and did. Betsy was less lively in her temper, and during the first three years of her life not so sensible as Mary; but afterwards, with her indescribable sweetness of natural temper, she grew more handsome, lively, sensible, and engaging. Her countenance expressed her temper, which was all mildness, affection, and sincerity. John's natural temper was love: a most fond, loving child, but less healthy than the other two, till the last year. At Mary's death, I felt an anguish, which I feared would have killed me. At Betsy's, a mixture of agony and ease to see her delivered from a state of wild distraction, which, had she recovered, must have affected her for life. At John's death, my heart was glad at his relief from the miseries of all but suffocation: but, to lose a son,-an only son, a beautiful, loving, promising son, six years of age; my companion for recreation, within my house, in wet and disagreeable weather; and in my garden, when the weather invited us abroad. His little garden, his different flowers in it, his spade, bought on purpose for him, his every thing, proves a source of painful recollection. Moments arise, in which it seems impossible to make up the loss to me and my dear wife. Yonder stands the little stick with which he took his last walk with me; but on these things I must not dwell, although to escape a transient review of them is impossible. I find my distressed heart too, too prone to settle on any thing which brings him to my remembrance: the heart swells and the tears flow at the memory of his best or worst days. Satan, too, is busy to thicken the gloom of every scene. He has discharged his fiery darts at me, by bringing to my recollection the instances in which I have corrected my child, and intimating the cruelty of it. But here the truth has been my shield and buckler, which says, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son; but he that loveth him, chasteneth him betimes." And in some instances, too, my own conscience accuses me, that I have corrected him more to gratify my own will than from a sense of the evil I rebuked.

I now look back with painful regret, upon every instance of hasty word, or unkind action towards him. Love him I did, t

« EdellinenJatka »