« EdellinenJatka »
saved? It is possible. We rejoice to tell you, "all things are possible with God;" and he may convert your soul. Then why use so awful a term as that of reprobate, in describing my state? The answer to this objection is easy: God himself thus describes your state in his word, as that which will expose you to final reprobation, if you die in this condition. And the word reprobate is no more awful, than charging you with impenitence and unbelief. Or saying you are unholy, you are a hypocrite, you are in an unconverted state for such characters God must reprobate. Yet, as you may be converted, why speak of you as already a reprobate, as if you never should repent? Because though your conversion be possible, it is not probable; considering that God generally converts souls, under the first years of their learning the gospel; and that you have so long tried the remedy in vain! You have conquered the calls, the warnings, and encouragements of the gospel. You may have felt deep convictions, powerful impressions of the truth; felt" the powers of the world to come;" and now, you hear and read, and converse on religion without feeling, or with much less feeling, as if you now doubted the truth and importance of the gospel. What is now to impress your soul? There is no other remedy to try on your spirit. Can any statement be more alarming you ask? Does it not tend to produce despair? It is alarming: and we wish you to take the alarm, and flee for refuge to the Saviour, as "the hope set before you."
If your alarm should produce the anxious inquiry, reprobate as you are, "what must I do to be saved?" Our answer is ready: "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved!" But if you continue in sin-if you rest in cold notions, however scriptural-if your attendance on the means of salvation is accompanied with habitual indifference and the love of sin, what can you expect, with your Bible before you, but the execution of Christ's sentence—“ ye shall die in your sins; and where I am, thither ye canst not come!" Lay this to heart, ye children and youth, who are growing up under the Gospel in an unconverted state- Lay this to heart, ye who are grown up to manhood, or entering old age, with nothing more than "a NAME to live, while ye are dead.' Harden not your hearts by familiarity with sin and the truth of God, at the same time— "Behold! now is the accepted time! Behold! now is the day of salvation!"
No. CXLIV. MEMORANDUM ON SIR EGERTON LEIGH.
SIR EGERTON LEIGH, Baronet.-Last evening, December 24, 1817, I was sent for to the Sun Inn, by Sir Egerton. I went and found him exceedingly ill, having been attended in London two months by two, and sometimes, by three physicians a day. He ap
peared jaundiced and exhausted, with an intermitting pulse,-all but a corpse. I went for Mr. —, my apothecary, who came and prescribed for him. I said, "Sir Egerton, he is a friend to religion." He lifted his languid eyes and feeble hands, and feebler voice"O! what a mercy!" In the morning we again visited him. The milk put into his mouth he could not swallow. He took only four tea spoons full of Madeira and one of brandy. I sat by him with the butler and nurse. He appeared dying. The butler said, “ Mr. Cooke is here." He lifted his eyes and held my hand. “Oh! my dear brother-pray-I cannot kneel, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much-much!"
I prayed with him. He was much affected, very thankful. He paused, and then said, “O! sin!"—After silent reflection, he said, "I am in the Lord's hands." The thought of dying at an inn or in his carriage, appeared a mere circumstance: neither guilt, nor fear, nor death moved him. He said, "a better world was before him." Resolved to pursue his long and cold journey, he was placed in his chariot, and took an affectionate farewell. What a Christian superiority to the fear of death did he display! no terror, no anxiety, no confusion, no distrust of God! calm, scriptural fortitude, reigned within. His flesh failed; but “ God was the strength of his heart.” God of my hope! forbid that this visit should be lost on me. Graciously qualify me to leave life without reluctance in the appointed hour. To enjoy a conscience relieved by mercy through the atonement of Jesus-from guilt, perplexity and doubt. To exercise "a good hope through grace;" in the unclouded prospect of a better world. My God! my hope! let me not witness such scenes in vain. Revive thy work in me. Bid my soul live, live eminently. Give divine principles full dominion over me. This is my heart's desire. Is not that desire from thy grace? Is not that grace an earnest of more? Forsake not-O! "forsake not the work of thine own hands!"
No. CXLV.-HOLINESS AND HAPPINESS.
I CONSIDER holiness and happiness as inseparable; and that they can no more be divided or severed from each other, than light can be severed from the sun and that the manifestation of the divine glory is nothing more than the manifestation of the divine attributes of love, goodness, truth, and righteousness, in the person of Jesus Christ. This thought is finely illustrated by a great divine whom I shall quote for the pleasure and improvement of the reader.
"We rather glorify God by entertaining the impressions of his glory upon us, than by communicating any kind of glory to him; then does a good man become the tabernacle of God wherein the Shechinah does rest, and which the divine glory fills, when the frame of his mind and life is wholly according to that idea and pat
tern which he receives from the Mount. We best glorify him when we grow most like to him; and we then act most for his glory, when a true spirit of sanctity, justice, meekness, &c., runs through all our actions; when we so live in the world as becomes those that converse with the great mind and wisdom of the whole world, with that almighty Spirit that made, supports and governs all things, with that being from whence all good flows, and in which there is no spot, stain, or shadow of evil; and so being captivated and overcome by the sense of the divine loveliness and goodness, endeavour to be like him, and conform ourselves as much as may be to him."
"When God seeks his own glory, he does not so much endeavour any thing without himself. He did not bring this stately fabric of the universe into being, that he might, for such a monument of his mighty power and beneficence, gain some panegyrics or applause from a little of that fading breath which he had made. Neither was that gracious contrivance of restoring lapsed men to himself, a plot to get himself some eternal hallelujahs; as if he had so ardently thirsted after the lays of glorified spirits, or desired a choir of souls to sing forth his praises. Neither was it to let the world see how magnificent he was. No, it is his own internal glory that he most loves, and the communication thereof which he seeks."
"It was a good maxim of Plato, which is better stated by St. James; God giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.' And by that glory of his which he loves to impart to his creatures, I understand those stamps and impressions of wisdom, justice, patience, mercy, love, peace, joy, and other divine gifts, which he bestows freely upon the minds of men. And thus God triumphs in his own glory, and takes pleasure in the communication of it. As God's seeking his own glory, in respect of us, is most properly the flowing forth of his goodness upon us; so our seeking the glory of God is most properly our endeavouring a participation of his goodness, and an earnest incessant pursuing after divine perfection."
When God becomes so great in our eyes, and all created things so little, that we reckon upon nothing as worthy of our aims or ambitions, but a serious participation of the divine nature, and the exercise of the divine virtues, love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, and the like: when the soul beholding the infinite beauty and loveliness of the divinity, and then looking down and beholding all created perfection mantled over with darkness, is ravished into love and admiration of that never-setting brightness, and endeavours after the greatest resemblance of God, in justice, love and goodness, when conversing with him, by a secret feeling of the virtue, sweetness, and power of his goodness, we endeavour to assimilate ourselves to them; then we may be said to glorify him indeed. God seeks no glory but his own; and we have none of our own to give him. God in all things seeks himself and his own glory, as finding
nothing better than himself; and when we love him above all things, and endeavour to be most like him, we declare plainly that we count nothing better than he is.
No. CXLVI.-ON READING THE SCRIPTURES REGULARLY.
THE Bible is seldom read impartially; too often very carelessly. It is too common for christians to read no more to their families, than one long or two short chapters a-day. And, crowding family duty into a corner of the day, they, tired and heavy, snatch up the Bible, and read, very frequently, a short psalm. The Psalms are a most delightful part of the Sacred Scriptures; but then, they are but a part: and even that part is not read from affection, but conveniency, at such seasons. But what is still worse, a great number of christians read no more of their Bible, than what they thus read to their families. They read but little; that little hastily, and in form, and have no time to read a chapter in solitude, with thought, prayer, and self-application.
But the Bible should be read the more attentively, and the more frequently, on account of its size. If it contained an answer to all the subtle questions, which the pride and curiosity of many have started, it must have consisted of many folio volumes! But the inconsistency of such persons, in requiring an answer to many uninteresting questions, appears in these two things: first, their questions relate to what is more nice than just; to what, if answered, might amuse for a moment, but could not profit. If the questions proposed, related to the security, the honour, the interest, and happiness of one soul, they would challenge our notice, and to appearance, impeach the Bible of imperfection: but they are frivolous and foolish: an answer to them would injure the reader, by diverting his thoughts from better things. Indeed, if many had their wishes in finding such answers to such questions as would satisfy their enquiries, they would instantly object to the Bible on that ground, and exclaim, surely! a book divine in its original, never could contain such trifles! What are these things to the eternal interest of man! And their inconsistency appears equally evident in this, that while they complain of the Bible information being so contracted, most of them never read the whole of it in their lives! and some of them never read one-half of it! Blush! blush! Infidel. Out of thine own mouth art thou condemned. Infidel, did I say? Blush christians also: scores, hundreds, thousands of you never have read the Bible through, even once in the long profession you have made.
This precious book contains general rules, to be applied to particular cases: but this proves the necessity of an attentive reading. Every christian's life produces more cases than his Bible rules.
And if he is acquainted with few of them, he must often be at a loss. Mr. Baxter and Perkins have written large volumes on cases of conscience; but who can read them?-very few; and of those few, who can remember them?— fewer still. The Bible contains enough; but it is not enongh known; if it were, it would be found "sufficient THOROUGHLY to furnish the man of God, for EVERY good word and work." Wonder not that christians are at a stand
in their voyage towards heaven; it is not for want of a compass, but because they are too little attentive to, and acquainted with it. What avails a map of the county, however excellent, if unknown? What signify the plainest directions of a traveller, if he puts them in his pocket, and reads them not?
2. The Bible contains the THOUGHTS OF GOD, upon every thing necessary for man to know in this world. Is it not surprising then, that christians, and (how shall I write it?) ministers of the gospel should thirst for every new book of human composition, and ungratefully neglect God's thoughts and words? Is not this a mortifying proof of a disposition to creature dependance? And is it not probable that we shall find them "broken cisterns," if we thus slight the fountain? What are the consequences of this disposition? The anxious mind is generally disappointed,-the Bible remains a dark book, the soul obtains little information, confirmation, or comfort. Besides, the Bible containing the thoughts of God, the ideas of an infinite mind! how can we expect to understand them, by a slight reading? What pride to think so! What selfsufficiency in leaning to our own understanding! "God's thoughts are very deep." And are our minds so full of light, so strong, so holy, that a mere sight of the words of God, is sufficient for us? Rather let the darkness of our limited and erring souls, render us more attentive to them.
3. The CONTENTS of the Bible are the most interesting, the most instructive, and the most cheering of any other single book, or all other books in the world. If another book has any divine truth in it, the Bible was the source of it. Indeed the very name it bears, imports as much, viz. the Bible, that is, the Book. Book by eminence! The Book of books. The Book of God! only book that gives infallible instruction to man, relative to the works of creation, providence, and redemption.
4. It appears disrespectful to the Bible, to read it, a verse here and a chapter there, without reading it through, at any time. Let the christian always read some part of the Bible, in order, every day; and when he has read the whole of it, begin it again, and so on until he dies. While he pursues this method, he will not live ignorant of a part of it, as if God had given him superfluous information. If this method is attended to, he may read any chapter, or part of it, or any book of scripture, as often as he will, besides his regular course. For every part of sacred scripture is