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How fit and natural is it, to close with pious acknowledgment, the day which has been filled with divine beneficence!
But the evening is the time to review, not only our blessings, but our actions. A reflecting mind will naturally remember at this hour that another day is gone, and gone to testify of us to our judge. How natural and useful to inquire, what report it has carried to heaven. Perhaps we have the satisfaction of looking back on a day, which in its general tenor has been innocent and pure, which, having begun with God's praise, has been spent as in his presence; which has proved the reality of our principles in temptation; and shall such a day end without gratefully acknowledging Him in whose strength we have been strong, and to whom we owe the powers and opportunities of Christian improvement? But no day will present to us recollections of purity unmixed with sin. Conscience, if suffered to inspect faithfully and speak plainly, will recount irregular desires, and defective motives, talents wasted and time misspent; and shall we let the day pass from us without penitently confessing our offences to Him who has witnessed them, and who has promised pardon to true repentance? Shall we retire to rest with a burden of unlamented and unforgiven guilt upon our consciences? Shall we leave these stains to spread over and sink into the soul? A religious recollection of our lives is one of the chief instruments of piety. If possible, no day should end without it. If we take no account of our sins on the day on which they are committed, can we hope that they will recur to us at a more distant period, that we shall watch against them to-morrow, or that we shall gain the strength to resist them, which we will not implore?
One observation more, and we have done. The evening is a fit time for prayer, not only as it ends the day, but as it immediately precedes the period of repose. The hour of activity having passed, we are soon to sink into insensibility and sleep. How fit that we resign ourselves to the care of that Being who never sleeps, to whom the darkness is as the light, and whose providence is our only safety! How fit to intreat him that he would keep us to another day; or, if our bed should prove our grave, that he would give us a part in the resurrection of the just, and awake to a purer and immortal life. The most important periods of prayer have now been pointed out. Let our prayers, like the ancient sacrifices, ascend morning and evening. Let our days begin and end with God.
New Series-vel. I.
ON THE CHARACTER OF THOMAS EMLYN, WITH EXTRACTS.
THERE are probably few of our readers who are ignorant of the name of Emlyn, or who do not know something of his history. But many of these, perhaps, have merely heard of his sufferings for conscience sake, without having become acquainted with the excellence of his character, and great prac tical piety of his life. For the sake of such, we are induced to make the following extracts. They are from the remarks and reflections he made at the time of his imprisonment, and whilst he was suffering the severest reproaches and calumnies for having published his "Humble Inquiry into the Scripture Account of Jesus Christ." They prove that the spirit of the gospel was quite as near his heart, as the desire of ascertaining its true doctrines. It would be difficult, we think, to name any martyr, in any age of the church, who has borne persecution with more courageous firmness or more admirable meekness. Others, it is true, may have undergone more severe persecutions, and endured more intense bodily torture. But the sufferings of Emlyn, though not so great, were as well calculated to prove how deeply the Christian principles had penetrated his character, how thoroughly they influenced and controlled his human feelings, and had enabled him, like his Lord, to suffer without threatening, and be reviled without reviling again. And he went through his trial faithfully. His example, which is edifying to all, should be cherished, with particular admiration and love by those, who with him have departed from the form of established words in human creeds and systems, and have thought it better to take their definition of Divine Unity from the scriptures alone.
We are sensible, indeed, that patience in martyrdom, is no infallible proof that the doctrine for which one suffers is true; if it were, then the doctrines of the papists and of the reformers would be equally true, for each have had their martyrs. It only proves that the sufferer believes them to be true. But, notwithstanding, the spirit in which be endures may teach the most useful lessons; and the example of Emlyn deserves to be cherished, because it proves that a blameless life, a forgiving temper, ardent devotional sentiment, and unqualified submission to the Divine will, do not depend for their existence upon those doctrines which are disputed among men, but upon the principles which are common to all; it proves that he who departs from the standard of orthodoxy, does not therefore depart, as some would have us believe, from those principles
which fortify, support and console-from that truth which sanctifies; it proves to us, that a belief in the strict unity of God, implying that Jesus Christ whom he sent to save us is not God, is no less consistent with a spiritual state of mind, fervent devotion, and practical excellence, than the more incomprehensible doctrine, which has so often been asserted to be alone capable of producing them.
There is a well-known sermon of his, entitled Funeral Consolations, which sets in a beautiful light his religious sensibility. Many of our readers have doubtless seen it, and derived comfort from it in their afflictions. Let them look at it again, and remember, if they thought not of it before, that it was written by a man, who, shortly after giving this evidence of piety, and great attachment to the religion of the gospel, was persecuted as a blasphemer, and shunned as an enemy of the faith.
It is only necessary to add,* his crime was the believing that our Saviour Jesus Christ, was not the Almighty God. For publishing his sentiments on this subject, he was accused of blasphemy; was tried by a court of justice, under circumstances of peculiar hardship and aggravated insult; was not allowed to speak in his own defence; and his counsel were so brow beaten, that they dared not speak for him. His sentence was "a year's imprisonment, pay a fine of one thousand pounds, lie in prison till the fine should be paid, and find security for good behaviour during life." He laid in prison more than two years, because he was utterly unable to pay the fine; and meanwhile the horrors of imprisonment were aggravated by the neglect and unkindness of his brethren in the ministry, and his former friends. "Only one," says he, "vouchsafed me so much as the small office of humanity in visiting me when in prison; nor had they so much pity for the soul of their erring brother (as they thought me) as to seek to turn him from the error of his ways.' It is difficult to restrain elings of indignation at the cold hearted bigotry and narrow-minded cruelty, which are exhibited throughout this whole transaction. How great, therefore, our admiration at the humility, meekness, and forbearance, which shone in all the deportment of the persecuted man!
It is time to come to the extracts. The first passage forms the conclusion of his "Narrative."
"And thus after two years, and above a month's imprisonment, viz. from the 14th of June 1703, to the 21st of July
* See Emlyn's Works, vol. 1. Also Christian Disciple, for April 1817.
1705, and upon giving security, by two bondsmen, for good behaviour during life, I obtained a release from my bonds. But still there remains another, and more righteous judgment, where all both high and low shall stand and await the sentence of the great judge and bishop of souls, who will surely reverse all erroneous judgments here; for he will render tribulation to them who have troubled others; but to them who are troubled, rest and peace: and they who have conscientiously erred, will surely fare better, than those who have persecuted them for such error. For they shall have judgment without mercy, who shew no mercy. But I heartily and daily pray, this may never be the portion of any who have injured me: and as I hope the good God will forgive me if I have erred, since he knows 'tis with sincerity, and that I suffer for what I take to be his truth and glory; so I also hope he will pardon them, who have persecuted me, only from a mistaken zeal; for they did it ignorantly in unbelief.
"And now after all, I thank my most merciful God and Father, that as he called me not to this lot of suffering, till I was arrived at some maturity of judgment, and firmness of resolution, so he left me not when my friends and acquaintance forsook me; that he supported my spirit, to endure this trial of my faith without wavering; that I was never so cast down, as to be tempted to renounce the truth; that he preserved my health under this long confinement; that I had a few friends who were a comfort to me in my bonds; (the Lord grant they may find mercy of the Lord in that day) that he inclined any in authority to shew, at last, compassion to me: and that he has brought me out of prison, and set my feet in a large place; that I have yet food and raiment left me; and above all, that he has given me a mind, I think, as well contented with it, as ever I was in my greatest prosperity. I am content to want the kind and vain respects of the world, and to give up my name to mistaken reproach; or to lose it (if that may be) in silent unregarded obscurity. I have suffered the loss of many things, and do not repent; but upon the review, I do still count it all but loss and dung, if it has any way advanced the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.
It is a further ground of rejoicing, to see the light of important truth breaking forth in many other parts, and spreading abroad its beautiful ray; that God has raised up divers others, bold enough to profess it, and able enough, with his assistance, to defend it; I mean with weapons of a spiritual warfare, against those whose great confidence and dexterity are in those which are carnal. And though it has been my great
gravamen or misery to be laid by in silence; so that I have been sometimes ready to lament myself as an unprofitable servant, turned out of his master's service: yet if I have contributed any thing to retrieve the injured honour of the peerless majesty of the one God and Father of our Lord Jesus, whom to be like to, was the great glory of our Lord Jesus; and if the things which have happened to me, have fallen out rather to the furtherance of the Gospel, I shall not think myself to have been wholly useless. For though I shall ever prefer the interests of serious piety, charity, and practical holiness, to any barren speculations; and had much rather a man should love our Lord Jesus in sincerity, than barely think of him just as I do: yet if I have also served the cause of his truth, it may be 'tis beyond what I could have done, by teaching men only what they would have taught them; because there will never be men wanting to take that office, while fewer will take the part I have borne, to the hazard of all that the world counts dear and pleasant. However, as matters were, I had no room for an innocent choice, nor any other part but this left me; being judged unworthy, and made uncapable, of all the rest. Yet, during my confinement in the Marshalsea, as I suffered on account of religion, so I continued to preach there:* I had hired a pretty large room to myself: whither on the Lord's-days resorted some of the imprisoned Debtors; and from without doors came several of the lower sort of my former people and usual hearers, who would not wholly forsake me, nor refuse to worship God with me; which was a great pleasure in my condition. And if in the whole I may but approve myself to my great Judge, and giver of the prize; I am not anxious about the applause or censures of the spectators, who shall be judged also."
The following are from "Meditations on my Afflicted Condition, 1704."
"1. O my God, what a change hast thou made in my outward condition! Once the light of thy providence shone pleasantly on my tabernacle; I had abundance of prosperity and fulness. I had a dear and pleasant companion in whom I securely trusted, but thou hast removed the desires of mine eyes with an early stroke. I had a tolerable esteem, and a multitude of friends, but am now become their scorn and by
* See his farewell Sermon upon his release from prison, Sermon 6, in the volume of Sermons.