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who will feel themselves honored by what they oblig. ingly and respectfully term our condescension: and when our parishes are so circumscribed in their extent, and so limited in their population, that we not only may know the persons, but can easily be well acquainted with the moral characters of our parishioners, our exhortations, at once judicious and seasonable, will be seldom without effect. One man may, from perverseness, and another from depravity, disregard our counsels, and despise or solicitude. But let us only be consistent and respectable in ourselves, and we shall be exempt from such instances of mortification. We shall, on the contrary, be hailed by blessings, and our good-will towards our flock will by them be repaid seven-fold into our bosom.
“How often, and at what seasons, we should personally visit our respective parishes, our own judgment will best direct. Prudence, address and conciliatory manners will always ensure us a favourable reception; and in many cases, our appearance will produce the inost lively sensations of satisfaction and comfort.
“ I have hitherto confined myself to a few advantages derived from our pastoral visits to our flocks. May I presume to trespass a little longer on your patience, whilst I briefly enumerate some which will attach to ourselves, and to that holy religion of which we are ministers?
“ By acquainting ourselves with the moral condition of the people for whom we are one day to give account; by dedicating our leisure, and employing our reflections, in order to reclaim the profligate, to instruct the ignorant, to invigorate the lukewarm, to encourage the desponding, and to confirm the believing Christian, we shall have the “ testimony of our conscience," that we are engaged in the sphere of our duty, and are active in that cause, from which will arise no remorse in the reflection, nor apprehension for the event. It will be that part of our life in which we shall appear venerable to the world, and shall feel respectable to ourselves.
“ There is another circumstance of great 'moment which must not escape our observation. We shall, in consequence of our conversation with our parishioners, adapt our sermons to their comprehensions and their circumstances; so that, when they attend divine worship, they will feel an interest in the discourses addressed to them; they will perceive that the welfare of their children, the comfort of their families, and the salvation of
their souls, are the topics which enchain the mind, and engross the attention, of their pastor.
“ Another advantage arising from our personal intercourse with our parishioners will be, that we shall restore the church to that degree of lustre and reputation, which it formerly enjoyed, and from which it has so lamentably fallen. The sectaries, and those whose doctrine is the most malignant in its tendency, are, at this moment, in many parts of the kingom, surmounting every obstacle, to establish itinerant teachers in every village, in order “ to draw away disciples after them.” From whom? From the ministers of the established church. Under what pretence? That the souls committed to our charge are neglected. God forbid that there should be truth God forbid there should be the shadow of truth in the artful suggestion! Be that as it may, let us repel their schismatical attempts, by uniting as one man in the glorious cause of preserving the church from the reproach, and the gospel from the injury they both sustain, by the guilt of neglect on the one hand, and the intrusion of ignorance, on the other.
“ If then the necessity of visiting our several parishes from house to house, be such as I have stated, and the advantages derived from the practice so many and so great as I have demonstrated them to be--let us, my reverend brethren, enquire dispassionately of our consciences, whether it is not incumbent on us, both in justice to ourselves, and in love to the people committed to our charge, to warn in private the inconsiderate, and to expostulate with the wicked, in order that " we may bring again those that are driven away, and seek those that are lost,” est it should be said of Christians as it was of the Jews-“my sheep are scattered because there is no shepherd; they wander through all the mountains and upon every bigh hill; yea, my flock is scattered over all the face of the earth, and notie do search or seek after them.”
“ If upon reviewing the state of our parishes, we perceive a general ignorance of the blessings, proceeding from a general neglect of the ordinances of the gospel, let us put the question home to our hearts, whether “had we been instant in season, and out of season,” in the discharge of our professional duty--the gospel would noi bave been more efficacious in informing their understandings, in sanctifying their hearts, and in reclaiming their lives and according to the answer, let evey part of
our ministerial vocation, and of our private deportment, be hereafter regulated.
“ Lastly. In order to animate our zeal, and invigorate our resolution, let us, every day of our lives, anticipate the awful hour, when the dead small and great shall stand before God..when the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast thein into the furnace of fire,"--when no compensation can be made to the unhappy wretches who shall be doomed to everlasting misery, whether through the pernicious prevalence of our example, or the fatal effect of our negligence-when, should only one soul attribute to us exclusion from happiness, and doom to perdition-we shall be overwhelmed with distraction and horror;--let us, as we recommend the anticipation of that day to our hearers, in order to deter them from vice, and establish them in righteousness, let us anticipate it ourselves—and. we shall, I am persuaded, give ourselves, not to the cares or the pleasures of life, but " wholly to the ministry" we have undertaken, and shall make it our first concern to possess “ the wisdom of winning souls.”
ON THE SALVABILITY OF THE HEATHEN.
[From the appendix to Dr. PLAIFERE's Appeal to the
Gospel for the true Doctrine of Divine Predestination, printed 1719, 8vo.] IF F we make a research into what all religion is founded
upon, it will appear principally the belief of the divine goodness; without this men could not think the Supreme Being to be of such condescension, as to take notice of them and their actions, much less without a full persuasion of it, would any be induced to credit his having revealed himself to men, or reconciled himself to us, by the incarnation and sufferings of his Son. Whatsoever therefore weakens the belief of this, must lessen the reasonableness and credibility of Religion. But, that God should not only have given greater light, and better means of attaining blessedness to the visible church, but also have wholly excluded the bulk of mankind, whò never had opportunity of coming within the pale of it, from a possibility of salvation, seems no way reconcileable with it. For if to bave raised out of the womb of faultless, inoffending nothing, infinite myriads of men into a condition, from which unthinking, they should unavoidably drop into eternal and unutterable sorrows, be consistent with goodness, contradictions may be true, and all rational deductions but a dream. It therefore seems necessary to conclude from the benigaity of the divine nature, that he would give to all those whom his just severity had brought under the disadvantageous effects of their progenitor's dissobedience, a possibility at least of avoiding the more miserable consequences, and of bettering their condition.
Let us then next enquire, whether there hath not been, and may not be some, out of the pale of the Church and sound of the gospel, whose behaviour might in reason and charity, incline us to think them fit objects for the divine compassion. And this scarce needs proof among wise and dispassionate men; it shall therefore suffice to mention an instance or two, out of the great variety which antient and modern accounts afford us.
If one was to enter into the character of Socrates, il would be easy to set it in a very advantageous light. The usefulness of his studies and labours, in improving and recommending morality, the inoffensiveness of his behaviour, thc admirable simplicity and patience, which he every where manifested the occasion of his death, and his meek submission and magnanimous carriage in undergoing it, would justify very shining encomiums. And it is plain he acted upon worthy principles; for it is impossible ihat the human mind should have had more just and exalted thoughts than those of his preserved by Plato. “I have good hope (saith he in one of his last conferences), that those who have ended this life, are not wholly extinct, and that it is far better with the good than the vicious.”
To pass over many noble sentiments which he uttered, as he drew towards the harsh or rather glorious catastrophe of an illustrious life what an happy consciousness in his own integrity, becoming diffidence in his performances, and trust in the divine goodness, is there in what he saith to Crito; “Whether God will be pleased to approve of my actions I know not, but I have this good assurance, that I have not been wanting in my endeavours, and I have:
not less good hopes, that he will favourably accept of them.” The parts which he and some others acted were indeed so very shining, that some of the antient fathers have not scrupled to esteem and call them Christians, and a modernt of equally great learning and good nature, hath given them a kind of canonization.
Aristides also Phocion, Epictetus, and some other great names might deservedly be mentioned to their honour; men who amidst palpable ignorance, and most flagrant iniquity, were able and dared to exert ihe most heroic and conspicuous virtues; but they must be altogether strangers to history, who are unacquainted with their merit and just eulogiun.
But if these and some others of the heroes of Gentile antiquity, should be thought to have been over exquisitely painted; a man can scarce imagine that any should have the least temptation to flatter the character of the poor modern Heathen. And yet many, especially such as have travelled and conversed with them, in those parts where they are not exasperated by the extravagancies, nor corrupted by the commerce of our Europeans, confirm what the bishop of Chiapas saith of some of them; “ the natives of the West Indies are endowed with the most innocentsimplicity, being strangers to dissimulation, artifice and fraud; they serve such as are naturally their superiors with an unbiassed fidelity, and are humble, patient, and submissive towards their conquerors the Spa
* Xerw de TW xet Utto Eurpulousywwobali. Just Mart. Apol 2.0 urla λογα βιωσανlες, Χριστιανοι εισι, καν αθεοι ενομισθησαν οιον εν Ελλησι μεν Σωκρατης και Ηρακλετιος, και οι ομοιοι αυτοις. Ιdem. Apol. 1,
† Quam hujusmodi quædam lego de talbius viris, vix mihi tempero, quin dicam, Suncte Socrates, ora pro nobis. Erasm. Conviv. Relig.
| Bartholemew de las Casas. He was a native of Seville in old Spain, and when young went with Columbus to the West Indics. On his return he entered into orders, and again accompanied that great adventurer to Hispaniola. After the conquest of Cuba he went thither, and laboured to convert the Indians and to save them from the persecutions of his barbarous countrymen. The cruelties of the Spaniards however continued_in spite of all his exertions, and the good Las Casas returned to Europe to lay the case of the poor Indians before the einperor Charles V. who heard him attentively, and caused an ordinance to be issued to put a stop to the oppressions, which however had no effect. One Spanish priest had the impudence to vindicate the barbarities which had been committed ; but he was fully answered in a book on the destruction of the Indians by Las Casas. It is indeed a most affecting narrative. The author was made bishop of Chiàpa in America, where be resided above fifty years, and died at Madrid, in 1566. EDITOR.