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holy brotherhood of which Christ is must have felt our need of him as the Head? are we one with him, and a Saviour, have repaired to him in he with us? In religion, as in other faith and humility for pardon and things, we may unite ourselves with acceptance with God, and by his a favourite sect or party ; but this grace have resolved, bis Holy Spirit is not the love of Christ, of his strengthening us, to devote our. Gospel, or his church. We must selves to his service, and to be his love him cause he first loved faithful soldiers and servants as long us; to know the benefits of which we
as we live.
DEATH BED OF FOUR INFIDELS.
were to be turned into ridicule: but
this was, however, insufficient to deter Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer. the party from their profane designs ;
for another copy was It has occurred me, in my minis- cured in its place, and one of the terial labours, to attend the death- members appointed preacher to the beds of four persons who had pro- club. His business was to select fessed to disbelieve the truths of the such portions of Scripture as were Christian revelation. They were most likely, by being perverted, to members of an infidel club in my excite the anirth of his audience. parish, and all died within about How long this had been carried on
As the account may before I came to the parish, I know be useful to some who, in the folly not, nor to what extent it proceeded; of their hearts, ridicule the truths for I was not aware of its existence of Christianity, and may also lead till after the death of the first indisome of my respected clerical bre. vidual to whom I have alluded. thren to consider the best manner of I had resided in the parish about acting under similar circumstances, a year and a balf, when hearing that I will simply state the facts, leav one of my parishioners, a tradesing it to my readers to draw man, was taken ill, I called on him. their own conclusions from them. The sick, and as it proved the dying, May the Spirit of God bless what man, was the very person who had I am writing, to promote the glory acted as chief orator to the club. of his name, and the spiritual wel. Not knowing his character, or the fare of those who shall peruse the life which he had been leading, I statement.
addressed bim generally on the neWhen I came to my parish about cessity of vital religion, and of an five years ago, there existed in it an entire dedication of the heart to infidel club; the members of which God; dwelling on the comforts were principally tradesmen, whose which religion holds out to those original object in meeting was pro- whose faith rests on Christ. Surbably more for the purposes of con- `posing me to be fully aware of his viviality, than an open derision of conduct, he received what I said as the word of God. Their conversa an allusion to his own state of mind, tion, however, often turned on reli- and with great clearness and talent, gious subjects, which were treated for he was a very clever man, deby them with the utmost contempt. scribed his state, and acknowledged The mistress of the house, as I his sins, yet expressed no hopes of understand, objected to have her pardon through the atonement of Bible used, if its sacred contents Christ. He was
danger, yet he saw no way of salva- lent him by a neighbour. Being tion. Often by his shrewdness and anxious to guard him against error, wit he had raised a laugh against I requested to see it. It proved to religion ; but he now deeply felt be either Serle's Christian Rememthe want of that consolation which brancer, or Doddridge's Rise and faith in Christ can alone bestow. Progress of Religion in the Soul (I He wept profusely, earnestly ex do not perfectly recollect which); pressing his resolutions of amend. but I took it into my hands, and ment should it please God to raise pointing out the general scheme of him from his bed. He never did salvation as contained in it, called rise, nor did I see him again; for his attention to those subjects on whenever I called afterwards, which which I thought he had displayed I did two or three times, I was the greatest ignorance; encouraged constantly told that he was too ill him to persevere in prayer; and to see me. Whether he was really added, that though he had slighted senseless, or whether his friends did the call till the eleventh hour, he not wish me to see him, I do not must strive to work for one hour, know.
at least, in the Lord's vineyard. He The second person was of a very seemed strongly impressed; and different character ; a man of little the next day, when I alluded to the natural talent, but of so nervous a conversation, he took out the book habit, and such ungoverned tempers, to shew me how many pages he had that at times he seemed almost read since I had seen him : for he deranged. Such was the general did not seem as yet at all to un, opinion of his character, that derstand the nature of a Christian's when I was told of his sickness, hope. On another occasion, when friend who was present,
I had endeavoured to shew the love hearing my determination to visit of God in having spared him, and him, urged me to consider the not taken him out of the world in matter, as. I should certainly be the midst of his profaneness, his insulted. " I know his violence," mind seemed to be softened by said he; “particularly when the former recollections; and he called necessity of religious restraint is to his memory the time when he enforced.” My friend, seeing I had regularly attended church with his determined to go, offered to accom- family. “ Those were happy days, pany me, but I declined his offer ; sir," said he. I alluded to his and was much surprised, on entering neglect of public worship of late the sick room, to find myself receive years : “ Yes," he replied; “I first ed with the utmost civility, and had a dispute about a seat; I then after a few minutes thanked for my neglected church. Sometimes on visit. The patient was in a highly a fine day I walked to a church in excited state, almost approaching the country; but latterly, from evil to madness. He entered into con company and indifference, I have versation with me freely, and ap never attended any place of worpeared to be endeavouring to atone ship.” I have no doubt that his for his former sins, by studying the mind was at times deranged; but word of God with great diligence in I believe this arose, in a great his last hours. He did not seem to measure, from his being without have attained to the most distant the supports of religion.
His sickidea of salvation through Christ. ness continued, and he at last felt He was completely without hope. himself sinking into the grave. For I had to begin from the very foun- some weeks I had not been able to dation, and his mind was too much persuade him that he was in danger. weakened to comprehend clearly After he had taken entirely to his what he read. One morning I found bed, I was one day sitting by him reading a book which had been him, and speaking of the love of
God in the redemption of man, and former interview, and his total negthat he would “in no wise cast lect of my advice. He acknowout" those who came to him in ledged the truth of my
observaChrist. I referred to various pas- tions, promised an entire change if sages of Scripture in illustration of he recovered, then relapsed into his what I had said. He turned on former insensibility, and expired. me with an eye inflamed at once The fourth was a man of strong by madness or fever, and by horror reasoning powers, self-willed, pasat the approach of death; confessed sionate, of profligate habits, and gehis sins in the sight of God, and nerally unpopular. His idea was, that called on me to save his soul. I he knew every thing, and was wiser told him salvation was from Christ than any other person in the affairs alone, and that I could not save of this world as well as those of him. “ Yes," said he, half raising eternity. He argued, I understand, himself out of bed, and throwing with great acuteness.
I found him his arm on my shoulder ; “but you ill one day when I was visiting a can guide me.” I told him, that sick child, and fancying that he must be done by the Spirit of God was himself in great danger from alone; but that I would kneel down the symptoms I perceived, I ad
for that Spirit. He seemed dressed a few words to him also. to pray fervently. I saw him for a He had, I believe, felt my attenfew days; but he gradually wan tion to his son, and wished not to dered more and more in conversa appear angry with me, but rose up, tion, and his mind and body at last walked across the room, and seemgiving way together, he sank and ed displeased while I repeated the died.
leading doctrines of the Christian The third was of another disposi- faith, and said that I hoped when tion of mind; a low depraved man, he approached death, he would feel given up entirely to self-indulgence. the comforts of religion. He was At the death of the first person civil, but endeavoured to turn the above mentioned, he attended the conversation, by saying, “ I am ill funeral, and on the following Sun- certainly, sir; but I shall not die day appeared at church. I forget yet." I did not press the subject entirely the subject of the sermon, any further at that time; but urged but remember that in the midst of him to read part of Law's Serious it he cried out, “ That is I," and Call, marking the chapter on the disturbed the congregation. Iturned vanity of all human pursuits. I to the spot, but all was again silence. conceived the reasoning would suit He however repeated the exclama. his state of mind, and perhaps lead lion two or three times, and was him to further inquiry. But it was with difficulty kept quiet by the to no purpose ; he would not read, neighbours. I suspected at the and avoided me afterwards. He time, and I believe now, that he became worse, and after a sickness was partly intoxicated. The cir- of a few days died. I saw him only cumstance, however, had altogether once during his illness, and that a good effect in raising in the pa was after he had ceased to arti. risli a strong feeling of disgust culate ; but I have no reason to against the club. I took an op- suppose that he shewed any conportunity of speaking to him, but trition. I am happy, however, to say apparently made no impression. He that his death has decidedly raised went on in his former sottishness, the attention of his family to religious and died in a state of senseless subjects. stupidity. I visited him several I have now given some account times, but only once found him in of the deaths of four persons, who a fit state for religious conversation, during their lives professed not to I then recalled to his mind our believe in Christ. When visiting them
as their clergyman, even though I last month, respecting the use of her knew their principles, I never ad- name by the worthy secretary of one dressed them as professed unbe- of our local societies; I wish you lievers ;
but as vicious men, who would also inform him, that the Rehad reason to dread the day of ports of charitable institutions should judgment, and at called in general be documents, not distheir minds to the great truths of sertations. I subscribe a trifle to Christianity, especially justification a society which I highly approve, through the merits of Christ, and while some of its Reports I almost sanctification by the Spirit of God. equally disapprove, because they How far I was right in so doing, is are mixed up with matters of cona matter on which I shall give no jecture, of doubtful disputation, and opinion.
of uncalled for controversy. I forWith regard to the individuals, bear specifying the particular in. one thing I think is evident, that stance to which I allude; and would they died without the comforts of only lay down this general rule, that Christian faith; for, however anx à Report is the document of the ious we may be in either of these business of a society, and not a cases, to draw a veil over their cha- medium for a secretary or racter, and to hope that their re mittee-man to set forth his private pentance was sincere, their pardon opinions, speculations, or party anisecured through the Saviour, and mosities. their souls, by Divine grace, fitted How much spiritual benefit by the for heaven, one thing is evident, they blessing of God might be produced, did not here enjoy the consolations were more attention paid to the of Christ held out in the Gospel. manner in which the Reports of
I will offer only one observation societies are written, and the more. The unbelief of these per- speeches at societies spoken ! sons arose, I fully believe, from
A. B. C. immorality.
And every person who indulges in any sin whatever, whether of temper or the senses, takes one step towards infidelity, and if he continues in it, deprives Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer. himself of the consolations held out in the Gospel to believers. Our HOLDING a clerical appointment, confidence in Christ by faith will by which it becomes my duty to generally be proportionate to our read “publicly before the congreChristian obedience, as this is the gation," the admirable service of evidence that we are led by the our church on certain week-days, as Spirit of God.
Let us then lay well as Sundays, I have for the last aside every weight, and the sin few weeks been burdened in spirit which easily besets us, and with in reading the Apocryphal Lessons, patience run the race which is set which occur at this season of the before us, looking unto Jesus, the year. Many of these chapters are Author and Finisher of our faith. indeed excellent, as
our church A CLERGYMAN. justly says, “ for example of life,
and instruction of manners;" but then the falsehoods, the absurdities, the heresies of others! Is it not a serious burden to be constrained to read the worse than nonsense about
Tobit, and Susannah and the Elders, Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer. and Bel and the Dragon, and Ju
dith and Holofernes, to a ChrisMy excellent wife addressed you; tian auditory assembled for Divine
THE APOCRYPHAL LESSONS.
ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF REPORTS
worship, not a few of whom pos- somewhere if the evil be not speedily
desirableness of procuring the reI have seen the subject mentioned peal of so much of the Toleration again and again in your pages; and Act of 1812 as renders it unlawful for so palpable is the case, that not one twenty persons in a committee, or of your correspondents has ventered at a meeting of a charitable society, to come forth with the shadow of to read even the Lord's Prayer, or an apology for reading in the pre- a Collect, without a breach of the sent age, whatever a doubtful “ ex- law, and exposing themselves to pediency" might have required in degrading penalties. The subject ihat of our Reformers, these often has become of still greater importsilly and sometimes detestable ance since I wrote, in consequence legends—nay, worse than silly or of the practice of late so generally detestable, because blasphemously and properly adopted, of commencprofessing to be a revelation from ing the business of the day with God, while they are but the inven- solemn prayer, which however rentions of men.
Will none of our ders every person present subject bishops, none of our clergy, none of to the penalties of the law at the our laymen, interfere in this work of suit of any mercenary informer. expurgation? Think of the con The occurrence which I anticipated, scious shame I lately felt while has at length nearly arrived ; for at reading (but I will not specify the a meeting lately held at Norwich, chapter), to see, sitting very de- for forming an Auxiliary to the murely in a corner, a highly re Reformation Society, Mr. Sergeant spectable and pious Dissenting Firth, who strongly opposed the minister; who, though“ a Dissenter formation of the society, comupon principle,” speaks upon the menced with warning the chairman whole very candidly of our church, that it was at his personal peril he and I had hoped might be some- permitted a prayer to be offered up; what won over by our truly beau. for though he himself (Mr. Firth) tiful and affecting Liturgy--but would not interpose his authority this spoilt all. I saw him a few on the occasion as a magistrate, days after: I said nothing on which he might do, yet he expressed the subject; neither did he; but I his unhesitating conviction that the perceived that our thoughts were proceeding was unlawful. silently wandering towards it. I think it was : but morally and
Till of late years the great body religiously it was right; and I should of the friends of the church were, not know whether to pity most, the like the members of the Bible So heart or the head of the man who ciety, abettors of the Apocrypha, would inflict the penalties of the either through ignorance or thought- law to prevent it. But still law is lessness : but the late controversy law; and it may be urged by many has enlightened the humblest pea- persons, that in such a case a Chrissant among us on the subject, and tian ought not to violate it. But a fearful responsibility will now liebe this as it may, it is earnestly to CHRIST, OBSERV. No. 335.