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SEARCHING AFTER GOD. LET us take this rule to measure all our searchings after God, and inquirings into him, that certainly there ought to be more meditation and inquiry of heart upon this subject, because it is the spring of all life to the soul; it is that which enriches it most, and fills it with peace, joy, and delight, and brings in a treasure into a man's heart, such as Christ speaks of, Matt. xii. 35. “ A good man out of the good treasure of his heart," &c. Meditation, much meditation on God, a stayedness and fixedness of spirit upon him, lays up a treasure in the heart; this it is that makes such a difference between the heart and mouth of a righteous man and a wicked man; the heart of the wicked is little worth, for the total want of this; and therefore their lips and tongues are void of edification, full of corruption. But where this spring floweth within, it maketh the mouth of a man like a well of life ; it maketh his lips like choice silver. O! the scantiness and neglect of this amongst christians makes all to wither and decay : there is little searching after the Almighty, little employing and entertaining our spirits about him ; low, slender, and single thoughts and apprehensions of him, which cannot but cause a decay in all the parts of christianity, when the very sun is eclipsed from us by our ignorance and inconsideration of him; and that so long, must have dreadful effects upon us.
Therefore let us be exhorted to this study, to give our spirits to this employment, to think more on God. But there is need of a rule to measure us in it, and of some caution about it; that is, that we have our end rightly established, what we aim at in inquiring after, or meditating upon God. If it be only to give entertainment to the curiosity of our minds, as in the contemplation of natural things; if it be only to pry into secrets and mysteries, and to labour to comprehend that which is incomprehensible, then we lose our labour, and we are in danger of meeting with a consuming fire, instead of instructing and refreshing light. I would therefore have this guarded against, the insatiable desire and greediness of our minds after the knowledge of secret mysteries. We may set bounds here, and not overstretch or strain our understandings to compass his infinite being, as it is in itself: let us rather take him up as he is revealed in the scriptures, and so meditate on him as manifested in his word and works, his grace, mercy, power, wisdom, &c. and read his name with delight in these large volumes spread before our eyes, &c.
Now the just measuring and regulating of all knowledge of God, is, to direct it to a further end, to have nothing before us but this, that we may reverence, adore, fear, and love him so much the more. And this is the thing that maketh access to
him most easy and sweet, when the design a soul hath, in all its searchings about him, is for this purpose, to the end it may lovej him, and worship him more suitably, and be more conformed to him, when he is looked upon as a pattern of our conformity, that is the right apprehension and up-taking of him, to know that God is light, and so to know it, as in it to behold the necessity of what qualification should be in us, that is indeed to know God. My beloved, let us consider that we know so much of God, as we love him, and fear him, and are conformed unto him ; for that knowledge, which is not about this work and design, is for no other purpose but to be a witness against a man, and the most heinous aggravation of his sins.
TEMPERANCE. “NOT to multiply cases, I shall here confine myself to one or two illustrations of what a Temperance Society has done for one small village. • With what pleasure,' said the clergyman of that village to me, can I now visit the family of my neighbour the carpenter, and see what blessed changes temperance has made for him! I could not say that in the world's account he was a drunkard; he had a bad stomach, and got sick before he got drunk; but he was very often sick. On one of these occasions I visited him on his bed, deadly sick, on a Monday morning, after profaning the Sabbath-day by drinking. In one of the pauses
my keen remonstrance against his ruining every thing by drinking too much, Ah!' said he, ‘your reverence should not have given me that glass of whiskey on Saturday night; it was that commenced me!' On my enrolling my name at the commencement of the village Temperance Society, he put his down after me, and at the same time made the following statement: 'If your reverence's name had not been on that list, mine never would. I scorn drunkards' oaths, and the company of drunkards; and if respectable people, my superiors, who indeed have been my chief tempters, had not come forward to encourage me to be a man once more, my doom was sealed; for, to become an affidavid man was too disgraceful to be endured ; and to abstain alone was to me impossible. If the mere horrors of drunkenness could affright any man from spirit-drinking, I have enough of them. One day, while sawing, a neighbour of considerable property, a deep drinker, came to me with a bottle in his hand, and asked me to take a glass. I did so, he insisted on my taking a second ; I at length complied. That did not satisfy him, and he swore vehemently I should have a third. To get rid of him I ran off; and he went to his own house. In a very short time a servant
of his came running to me, calling out in breathless haste, Come fast, fast, for my master has cut my mistress's throat. I ran, and found her throat cut from ear to ear. Where was the husband ? I rushed into the room to find him. He was there, a corpse, with his throat one horrid gash, made by his own hand. I returned frantic to his wife, seized her throat in my hands, and continued my efforts to stop the gushing blood till a surgeon arrived, and, with great difficulty, her life was preserved. Who knows,' said he, that it would have been so, had I taken from her husband the third glass of that liquid death, which has sent down his name in infamy, linked with the crimes of a drunkard, a murderer, and a suicide ? One sabbath,"' continued the clergyman, some time after, I saw, in the carpenter's pew, a female, whose appearance struck me on account of her wearing on her neck a black stock. I inquired of him who she was. That,' said he, is the woman whose life I saved : she is stopping with me on a visit, and you will rejoice to hear that her name is now down on the same temperance-roll with my own; thus lifting up her silent but strong testimony against that distilled damnation which made her å drunkard's widow, and had all but sent her down, by a murderer's hand, and that hand her husband's, to a bloody grave.'
THE BACKSLIDER RECLAIMED. MRS. I-was the subject of religious impressions when young, which vanished as the early dew or morning cloud. As she grew up, the amusements of fashion were within her reach, and she gladly embraced them. Her sabbaths were spent in rides of pleasure or in frivolous amusement. She was fond of balls and card-parties, and her parents enabled her to indulge her prevailing taste. The theatre was a place of frequent resort; but often on retiring from these scenes of sin and folly, her conscience would reproach her with a vow “ to be the Lord's," that she had uttered in childhood. She was arrested in this course of sin by the united influence of a pious servant of her father, the preaching of a sermon which she went out of curiosity to hear, and by family trials. She became a member of a christian society in this town; but, alas ! St. Paul's emphatic address to the Galatians was soon applicable to her, “ Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth !"
She married a man destitute of means and principle, who left her, with three children, to the mercy of the world. Reduced in circumstances, she kept a school for the maintenance of herself and family; but her change of circumstances, atilictions in herself and children, and a remembrance of her former professions of religion, drove her almost to desperation. In this state of mental agony she was visited by one of the loan tract distributors, who read to her, “Do you want a Friend ?" The subject came home to her feelings, and the truth to her heart. The Friend she wanted once more engaged her attention, and she sought his omnipotent aid. By the blessing of God on this and other tracts, which she read with great interest, she was convinced of her sin; and after nearly thirty years' backsliding, she sought in earnest the God of her youth, and has found that serenity of mind which enables her to see a Father's rod in the chastisement she has endured. She is now re-admitted a member of the christian church with which she had been formerly connected, and rejoices that she is restored into the family of God through the instrumentality of this society.-Carr's Lane, Birmingham.
LETTER OF A MINISTER TO THE PARENTS, ON THE
DEATH OF THEIR SON. MY dear Friends,—How shall I address you? Our hearts are full. I lay aside every thing to write to you, and yet I seem as if I could say nothing. Surely, if“ out of the abundance of the heart the mouth
speaketh,” there is still a superabundance that represses utterance. However, I can say that we do most sincerely and tenderly sympathize with you, and that we put up our poor prayers for you, especially asking for you, as you suggest, the presence of the Comforter."
But we rejoice and give thanks at the tone of your letter. You do not say, “Call me not Naomi, but call me Marah," but rather you say,
Blessed be the name of the Lord;" yes, now that he hath“ taken away," now, and equally as when he “ gave,” for he is as wise, as,just, and as good, when he takes as when he gives.
Happy are his people! All things are theirs, even “ death," for they “are Christ's, and Christ is God's." This is their real state at all times ; but they are consciously happy when they feed, live on, and are nourished by the “ exceeding great and precious promises" in Christ. Oh, what an alleviation of your sorrow is it that your
dear boy gave such satisfactory evidences of being prepared for his departure! This is more to you than a world of gold. It was precious to you while he was likely to live; but oh, how much more precious now he is gone.
We also loved him, and ever will he be pleasant to our remembrance; and we love him still, for he is. The body, it is true, is dead, but he survives. He has only changed the place of his abode ; and think, dear friends, how much for the better, and say,
“ Could those few pleasant days again appear,
Thy unbound spirit into bonds again." I thank our heavenly Father, who so greatly supports you. But I would tenderly hint that perhaps the most trying part is yet to come. Such an affliction as yours has commonly at first a sort of stunning effect, which prevents the mind from perceiving the extent of its loss. It is, therefore, afterwards, when the mind is more free to ruminate on the past, and to dwell on particulars, that, usually, a loss is most keenly felt. Against this, therefore, prepare by special petitions, holding to those blessed words of our sympathizing Saviour, “My grace is sufficient for thee, my strength is made perfect in weakness."
And now, consider how your trial may be turned into a blessing. The precept is, Set your affections on things above, and not on things on the earth ;" but oh, how difficult is obedience to it in them who have in children the strongest ties to this world. From thąt tie God hath set you free : now then let the cry of your heart be, “Give me the wings of faith, to rise." Your dear child is now an attractive upward : he is there, but a greater than he is there; hence the apostle saith, “ Set your affections on things above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." In his presence there is fulness of joy; and your son is in that presence; not sorrowing for you, as you for him, but only anticipating the happy moment when you shall rejoin him, and when the “ threefold cord" shall be retwisted, and untwisted again no more for ever.
That my poor instrumentality had been made of some use to G,, I had hoped before; but from the information in your letter, to know it so distinctly, is, indeed, (as you kindly intended,) matter of great encouragement in my work and of humble adoring thankfulness to God.
THE VILLAGERS' HYMN TO THE SCRIPTURES.
BY THE AUTHOR OF CHRONOLOGICAL RHYMES.”
Deep in our hearts its dwelling hath,
Thou sheddest o'er our lowly path!