Page images

wish that our voices were loud enough to reach through all the world, and to heaven itself. Nothing comforts me more in my greatest sufferings, nor seems more fit for me while I wait for death, than singing psalms of praise to God; nor is there any exercise in which I had rather end my life. Lord, tune my soul to thy praises now, that sweet experience may make me long to be where I shall do it better! Wherever there is any excellent music, I see men naturally flock to it, and hear it with delight. Surely had I once heard the heavenly choir, I should echo to their holy songs, and think it the truest blessedness to bear

my part. My God! it is the inward melody of thy Spirit, and my own concience, that must tune me for the heavenly melody.


THE SABBATH. YOU say, my friend, that you cannot get to church in the morning. You must stop at home and cook for your husband or your daughter; and yet you profess to love the courts of the Lord's house, to hear and read his word. Now we are expressly commanded “not to forsake the assembling ourselves together.” Ask yourself, if you were now before the judgment seat—and remember how certain it is that you will be called to it-could you there give the same reason? Would it be a sufficient excuse to plead before the Almighty God? Do you fear to displease your husband or your daughter more than your Maker?

And you, my friend, say that you should like to go to church or chapel, but that your clothes are not good enough. What garment, think you, will God regard ? * He looketh not on the outward appearance, but on the heart.” This is" that fear of man which bringeth a snare!" Suppose you are ragged, will your prayers and praises be the less acceptable? If foolish people despise your poverty, why should


mind it more in the church than in the street ? Put on the garment of humility; then you will shine brighter than those who are adorned in silk. I imagine, that if a rich person were to send you a message, signifying that he wished to see you at his house, that he would give you. food to eat, and supply your wants; you would not keep away because your clothes were bare or ragged, but that you


go, even as you were, to receive his benefits, although you might perhaps meet with contempt from the servants as you passed—though this would scarcely be the case when the master of the house had invited you to come to him. I do not believe that old, or even ragged clothes, would attract so much attention from the congregation as a dress inconsistent with your station. When persons dress in the garb of those above them, they may be sure of drawing upon themselves censure and ridicule; but to this fact their vanity blinds them. Of course every real christian will endeavour to make as decent an appearance as his circumstances allow ; cleanliness is in every one's power ; and old clothes may be clean, neatly patched and mended. Depend upon it this is an idle excuse, put


hearts by the great enemy of souls.

Some of you plead the care of a young family. Are you sure that the same plea keeps you from running after sights, and gossipping with your neighbours? Do you never leave your infant charge that you may attend at merry-makings ? Think the matter over well before you urge this as an excuse for absenting yourself from public worship.

I have heard many excuse themselves, because they have been labouring hard all the week; and they want rest, they want quiet. My friends, is it not refreshing to hear of everlasting rest? of joys never to' end ? to join in singing the praises of our heavenly King ? or quietly to unite in the prayers of the church ? What a privilege to be admitted into those courts, where the Saviour has promised more especially to meet us! where we can cast off all our burdens, and lay them at his feet! Satan beguiles with various pleas; but none of them can be admitted, none can avail us, when before our God, except sickness, and attendance upon the sick. And what great advantages are derived from a regular attendance upon the worship of God! Numerous are the passages in holy writ which describe the blessings in store for those who remember the sabbath to keep it holy; and terrible are the judgments pronounced upon those who disregard the duties of the Lord's day, and who carelessly and unconcernedly trifle away its precious hours, and transgress the commands concerning it.

WRITINGS OF THE REFORMERS, IN reading the writings of the early reformers there are two things which must strike our minds. The first is the exact conformity between the doctrine maintained by them respecting the justification of sinners, and that of the apostles. The second is the surprising harmony which subsisted among the reformers as to this doetrine. On some questions respecting the sacraments, and the external government and worship of the church, they differed; but upon the article of free justification, Luther and Zuinglius, Melancthon and Calvin, Cranmer and Knox, spoke the very same language. This was not owing to their having read each other's writings, but because they copied from the same Divine Original. The clearness with which they understood and explained this great truth is also very observable. More learned and able defences of it have since appeared; but I question if ever it has been stated in more scriptural, unequivocal, decided language than it was in the writings of the early reformers. May we not say, that more learned defences of the doctrine of justification by faith perhaps have since appeared, but it would be difficult to point out any of equal ability in all essential respects.



“ The energy of his manner, at times, and the power of his yoice, were almost overwhelming. Once, at Wotton, he was completely carried away by the impetuous rush of his feelings, and, raising himself to his full stature, he exclaimed, · Because I am in earnest, men call me an enthusiast ; but I am not; mine are the words of truth and soberness. When I first came into this part of the country, I was walking on yonder hill ; I saw a gravel pit fall in, and bury three human being3 alive. I lifted up my voice for help, so loud, that I was beard in the town below, at a distance of a mile: help came, and rescued two of the poor sufferers. No one called me an enthusiast then: and when I see eternal destruction ready to fall upon poor sinners, and about to entomb them irrecoverably in an eternal mass of woe, and call aloud on them to escape, shall I be called an enthusiast now? No, sinner, I am not an enthusiast:in so doing ; I call on thee aloud to fly for refuge, to the hope set before thee in the gospel of Christ Jesus.'

“ A very favourite subject with Mr. Hill, was the inseparable union of justification and sanctification. He commenced one of his sermons on it with these words; 'God cannot make us happy, except he make us holy; therefore, whom he justifies, he necessarily also sanctifies.' Then,' he would say, 'many are willing to be justified, but desire not to be sanctified. Not so with me: I can say of justification and of sanctification like the child, who replied, when asked which he loved best, his father or his mother, 'I love them both best.'

“No man was ever-more practical in his preaching; • Let your light shine,' was his constant exhortation. If the sun shines,' he would say, on a dull brick, or stone, they reflect none of its beams; there is nothing in them capable of this :: nor is there in an ungodly man, any natural power of reflecting the light of God. But let the sun shine upon a diamond, and see what rays of sparkling beauty it emits. Just so the christian who has the graces of the spirit: when God shineson his soul, beams of celestial loveliness are reflected by him on the world. The christian's character,' he said, 'should, savour of holiness. The promise is, “I will be as the dew: unto Israel ;" and how sweet is the fragrance of the flower after the gentle falling of the dew; so must the true believer: be, under the soft distilment of the droppings of heaven on his heart.' 'Cultivate,' he often urged, “a spirit of love. Love is the diamond amongst the jewels of the believer's breastplate. The other graces shine, like the precious stones of nature, with their own peculiar lustre and various hues; but the diamond is white. Now, in white all the colours are united : so in love is centred every other christian grace and virtue : love is the fulfilling of the law: it is the only source of true obedience to the commands of God. "If we love God, he

we must necessarily love that holy law which is a transcript of his Divine mind and will. Some people will tell you, that if you would gain heaven, you must pass through a self-denying course of the practice of virtue and obedience; they make religion house of correction work; no, no, I love the service of my God; like the bird, I fly at liberty, on the wings of my obedience to his holy will. Frequently he des scribed the nature of christian obedience, by saying, The grace of God begets, in the man that is born of the Spirit, a natural hatred to sin, though he loved it in his old estate. The vulture's nature is to prey, with horrid preference, on the putrid carcases of the dead. But did you ever see the gentle

used to say,

[ocr errors]

dove gorging this loathsome food ? So the sinner feeds with delight on the nauseous enjoyments of his iniquity, like the carrion-eating bird of prey, while the regenerate soul has a holy disgust of all that is offensive to its heavenly nature.'

“His views of the efficacy of prayer were singularly happy. We know,' were his words, that the infinite God cannot be moved, or actually drawn nearer to us by prayer, but prayer draws the christian nearer to God. If a boat is attached to a large vessel by a rope, the person in the former does not bring the ship nearer to him by his pulling the rope, but he brings the boat, and himself in it, nearer to the ship. So, the more fervently we pray, the nearer we bring ourselves to the Lord most high. The christian is therefore enjoined to pray without ceasing; not that he can be always engaged in the positive act, but he ought to have what I call a holy aptitude for prayer. The bird is not always on the wing, but he is ready to fly in an instant: so the believer is not always on the wing of prayer, but he has such a gracious aptitude for this exercise, that he is prepared in an instant, when in danger or need, to fly for refuge to his God. In all the avocations of time, the child of God will never lose sight of his heavenly Father. I have often seen a little child following his parent in the fields, and stooping now and then to gather a few flowers. He looks up, and sees him at a distance; the little creature runs and gets up to him again, afraid he should go too far away. So the christian, while gathering a few flowers from the world, suffers his God to be often a distance from him; but the instant he perceives that he is alone, he runs to reach again his father, protector, and friend."— From the Life of the Rev. Rowland Hill; by the Rev. E. Sidney."

TRACTS IN THE ALPS. NEFF suggested the propriety of forming a Religious Tract Association, whose silent and unobtrusive operations might be carried on without giving umbrage to the authorities. A committee was consequently formed for this purpose, and subscrip. tions were opened. Several of the young females volunteered their services as collectors, and made their first essay during the Christmas week, the result of which surpassed the expectation of the most sanguine. But many of the warmest friends of the undertaking were still apprehensive that it would prove a failure, when they considered the poverty of the country, the indifference with which it was viewed by many of the Protestants, and the open opposition it would have to encounter from the superstition and prejudices of a large majority of the

« PreviousContinue »