Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

word, and my acquaintance and friends stand afar off. I had a delightful habitation, which is now exchanged for a prison; nay, I had once great opportunity to serve thy honour, and to do good to men by instructing them in thy will, and by persuading them to do it; but am now laid by from all that desirable service in thy beautiful courts. O Lord of hosts, my God and my King, my soul still thirsts and longs to behold thee in thy temple. Oh, how uncertain is this world's good! I see now by experience, that all flesh is but grass, and all the glory of man but as the flower of the field, which for a while spreads its beautiful leaves, and sends out its fragrant odours, and is with pleasure admired by every eye, but in a day or two it fades and dies, and there remains nothing but a poor neglected despised stalk. Such has my worldly glory been. Ovanity of vanities, all is vanity.

2. My God, I intend not in all this complaint to arraign the equity of thy wise providence, as though thou hadst done any wrong to thy poor sinful creature. Though what I bave suffered from merciless men be not (as thou knowest right well) for any unrighteousness in my hand, but only for thy name and truth's sake, as my soul is verily persuaded, and according to the best judgment I can make from thy holy scriptures; yet 0 Lord, when I remember thy hand is in all this, I fall upon my face in confusion, whilst I see my own unworthiness, which thou mayst justly punish. With men I will justify myself, I will hold fast my righteousness, and not let go my integrity till I die, but with thee, O God, I will not contend ; thou art righteous and I am sinful, for though thy grace hath kept me from gross and scandalous crimes, yet am I vile in my own eyes, and cannot but take shame to myself, that in the days of my prosperity, I was not more thankful for thy favours, that I brought forth no more fruit, that I was not more active in thy service. I became too secure and inconsiderate, so that after gentler corrections thou hast now laid thy hand heavy upon me, that I may not despise thy chastenings. O Lord grant, that I may not faint under them.

“3. And this, O Lord, thou knowest is my greatest burden in all my adversity, that I have done any thing to provoke thy displeasure. I am sometimes apt to think, as if thou hadst turned me out of thy service, as an unprofitable servant, and Jaid me aside as a broken vessel, in which thou hast no pleasure. Chasten me, O God, if thou wilt, but let it not be in thy wrath ; rebuke thy offending creature, if thou pleasest, but let it not be in thy hot displeasure; correct thou mine iniquity with thy rod, if thou seest good, and my transgressions

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

with stripes, but so that thy loving kindness may not depart from me, nor thy faithfuluess fail me. Smite me with the frowns of a friend, and shew me the light of thy countenance, and I will lay me down in peace, though my corn and my wine increase not.

" 4. And yet, O Lord, I would not be too censorious of thy ways, nor put the worst interpretation upon thy providential rebukes. I remember, of old thou didst afflict thy servant Job for a proof of his piety, rather than a punishment of his sin, and that the afflictions of thy people are often temptations or trials of their faith and patience by which thou expectest they should glorify thee in showing what they can endure for thee, and this especially, when they suffer persecution from men for conscience towards God. This is my case, and though I will be humbly mindful of my sins, as one corrected for his faults, yet will I encourage myself as one called out to a glorious combat by my great Master, for whose peerless glory I am jealous, and for this cause I will not faint, through his grace. It may be it is the design of my good Master to put honour upon me, and bring glory to himself, by singling me out as a champion before men and angels to maintain his cause in those words of my Saviour, My Father is greater than I. My silence perbaps may speak, and my sufferings for thee be more serviceable to thy honour, than any other services I could do. Lord help me so to demean myself by patience, courage, and cheerful submission under all my tribulations, that I may glorify thy name and bear an honourable testimony to thy truth, and then I shall count it all joy to have had such trials. I ain thy vessel, and thou mayst put me to what use thou wilt, use me so as may be most for tby own glory, whatever befals me, who am then most honoured, when I can serve most to thy praise.

5. I have carefully examined into the occasion of my sufferings from uncharitable men, and am greatly assured, that

rsecuted opinion is the truth of thy gospel, and yet if it should not be so, that I suffer for truth, yet sure I am, I do for conscience, which thou wilt accept; for I find no temptation to draw me, but the pure conviction of my mind. I could have esteem, prosperity and friends, but since I cannot have these without belying my own judgment, and thy.gospel, I freely renounce them, and am glad I have any thing to lose for thy sake; I will count them but dung in comparison of the true knowledge of thy Son Jesus Christ my Lord, and I bid welcome to my afflictions, to my losses, to my reproaches, to my bonds, and all my persecutions for thy sake. 'I am contented

me.

with my blessed Lord to be called a blasphemer and an heretic by men, whilst I am sound and right in thy esteem. But though I suffer unto bonds, O Lord, let not thy word be bound, but run and be glorified in spite of all the opposition of a malignant and untoward generation, who think ibey do thee service by inhuman cruelties done to thy servants, and whose mistaken religion lies so much in doing mischief to those, that conscientiously differ from them.

7. O Lord I am thine, thou mayst do with thine own what thou pleasest; I had much rather be in bonds and straits, under reproaches and necessities for honouring my God, than to be at liberty and ease, to be great and full, and God's glory and interest to be a loser by it. Thou knowest best what my soul's condition requires ; it may be prosperity or deliverance would slay me, and whilst I crave thy relieving hand for ease, thou mayst know, that further smart and pain is needful for

O Lord, humble me and prove me, so that it may be for my good in my latter end; I would not be so inordinate. in my love to this flesh, as to desire peace and quiet, when may soul's welfare forbids it ; Lord, give me my portion of sorrows here, rather than hereafter. Give me now my evil things, that then I may be comforted, and then I'll say in very faithfulness thou didst correct me.

“10. And yet I find it so hard to raise my desires above this earth, that I admire thy wisdom in making this state so uneasy, that being crossed here, I might give over vain carnal pursuits, and bend more earnestly towards heaven. If notwithstanding my bondage I am so fond of this Egypt, if when through my troubles it might be expected I should be glad to go down into the grave for retirement, I am yet so loth to leave this earthly habitation, and when thou art seeming to call me hence, I still crave more delay; how strong, methinks, would the enchantments of this world be, if I had no disturbance in it. If I heard nothing but Siren songs, and rolled on with pleasure in Halcyon days; if no dear relations did die, nor friends prove false or unkind, nor enemies base and cruel, nor any afflictions disturb my repose, I fear, I should forget the way home, and loiter grieviously in my Christian course ; such a calm sea would not further me in my voyage, as a few rough gales. Thou, who knowest the best way to draw me out of this snare, hast taught me by thy rebukes not to rest bere; and that my heart may find no temptation to settle below, thou hast taken away the dearest objects of my love, that so my affections may follow after, and by this art be translated from earth to heaven, that when I stand gazing after my ascended

endeared companions, I may, so often at least, look towards heaven; and whilst calamities here draw off my heart from things below, thy grace and thy love may draw it kindly to things above.

“12. Why should it seem grievous to me, that the world hates me? Am I the more out of the way to heaven for going through much tribulation? Do I not find, that affliction and ill usage has been the portion of the most, and the most eminent, servants of God? When I remember Joseph in bonds, Elias and Job, Jeremy and Daniel in all their troubles, that the holy Jesus was a man of sorrows, and the holy Apostles the offscouring of the world, when I find how many Saints were afflicted, destitute, and tormented, when I read the inventory of St. Paul's sufferings, and of those, of whom the world was not worthy ; tben I think, who am I, that I should think through my conduct or innocence io escape the world's hatred ? Shall I not rejoice to be the companion of such excellent persons ? I remember, God supported them in all their trials, that they were not forsaken, though persecuted, and that they had at last a glorious deliverance. 'Well then, I will hope in the God of my salvation, and though cruel men devour me, though they tear my name and my substance, though they tear my family, and iear my body, yet thy grace is sufficient, and thy rewards liberal; I will acquiesce in thy providence, which permits it, and wait for the gracious issue. Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him."

A DIALOGUE ON SALVATION.

AZARIAH AND BARNABAS.

Asariah. I have recently been meditating much on the subject of salvation. It has been, you know, my opinion here. tofore, that none are saved but those who embrace the opinions usually denominated orthodox ; but of late I have doubled the correctness of my former opinion. I find that many who dissent from these doctrines have at least the appearance

of

genuine piety and Christian benevolence. I also find, that many who assume the name of Calvinists, discard a number of the doctrines which were formerly deemed essential. They indeed profess an adherence to the Westminster Catbechism, but it is in “general,” and not without a number of exceptions, and various modifications. New Series ---vol. I.

5

Barnabas. I have been aware of your former sentiments, and have often been grieved to find your good opinion of others confined to such narrow limits. But the modes of education and the manner of preaching have heretofore been adapted to prepossess the minds of Christians of different sects one against another, and to prevent a mutual discovery of those evidences of goodness, which otherwise might have been perceived, and have been sources of mutual comfort. A more enlightened and liberal spirit has been for many years gradually gaining ground among the several denominations of Christians; but there is perhaps still much room for amendment. The more men indulge and encourage a spirit of impartial inquiry, tbe more they will be convinced of their fallibility; and this conviction will be likely to extend the circle of hope and charity.

A. From your remarks I should infer, that, in your opinion, there may be good people in each of the denominations of Christians.

B. I hope it is so, and this hope is to me a source of happiness. There are indeed many denominations of Christians, with whom I have had no opportunity to become intimately acquainted: I am, therefore, not in a situation to form a correct opinion respecting them. I have however been so often agreeably disappointed, on forming an acquaintance with persons who dissent from me in opinion, that I dare not censure the people of any sect by wholesale. I think I have found some of the best of men among those sects, which have been the most reproached.

A. Slanderous reports, or reproachful accusations from one sect against another, are not much to be relied on. we not safely form an estimate of moral character from avowed opinions—especially opinions which relate to the great and essential doctrines of Christianity?

B. If I should answer in the affirmative, another important question would immediately occur. What are the great and essential doctrines of Christianity ? To this question very different answers would be given by persons of different sects; and you are aware, that the sect to which you belong would now give in some respects a very different answer, from what would have been given by their predecessors, who lived a hundred years ago.

A. It is even so; still there must be some essential doctrines. B. Another question now occurs.

In what sense do you use the term essential ? Every gospel truth is essential to the

But may

« EdellinenJatka »