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and that his little girl, who was put to school by some kind lads, and had just learned them, should teach him; and I promised to call and hear him frequently. He had never even thought of such a thing before, but he willingly consented. I had no cause to complain of his progress. In two years he was able to read a chapter in his Testament so as to understand it tolerably. He then subscribed his penny a-week, and had a bible. At this time I left the neighbourhood, and five years elapsed before I visited that place again. One of my first walks was to this cottage, to see my old pupil. Almost my first inquiry was, “How do you get on with reading?" Why I have not forgotten; I can now, thank God,
read a chapter almost any where in the bible; and I bless him for having sent such a friend to
You have been my best friend; but for you I should never have learned to read my bible. Now I am never dull; the long winter evenings pass off quickly, and I am surprised when I find it is time to sleep." I asked how he managed the difficult words? He said, “When I come to one, I spell it over and over again, till I puzzlé it out some how; but I have learned a great many by reading the Sunday lessons on my return home, and taking notice how the minister spoke them.”
It was very evident also that the old man had not forgotten to ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit; and that while he had been thus seeking after Divine truth, he had been growing in grace.
Like David, the law of God had become his delight, his daily and necessary food; and this kept him peaceful, although he had outward trials of pain and poverty to bear; “he searched the scriptures daily;" he found them pleasant to his taste.” The “
Holy Spirit guided him into all truth;" although poor and ignorant in worldly matters, he has become rich and wise unto salvation.
I never visit the neighbourhood but I find that a few minutes spent with this aged disciple are beneficial and encouraging. Reader, tell your aged friends that it is not too late to learn. Have the will, and they will be sure of finding a way; and that Saviour, of whom the scriptures testify, will, if you pray to him for Divine guidance, send his Holy Spirit into all your hearts, and give not only the power to learn, but to obey his will.
AN ACT OF SOLEMN DEDICATION OF MYSELF
TO GOD, O LORD, thou that searchest the heart and triest the reins of the children of men, be thou the witness of what I am now about, in the strength of thy grace, to attempt: that grace I humbly and carnestly implore, to give validity and effect to that act of solemn engagement of myself to thy service, on which I am about to enter. “ Thou knowest my foolishness, and my sins are none of them hid from thee.” “I was born in sin, and in iniquity did my
mother conceive me.” I am an apostate, guilty branch, of an apostate, guilty root, and my life has been a series of rebellions and transgressions, in which I have walked “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." How shall I confess my transgressions before thee! what numbers can reach, what words can adequately express them! “My iniquities have increased over my head, and my transgressions have grown up unto heaven.” O Lord, I esteem it a wonderful mercy that I have not long since been cut off in the midst of my sins, and been sent to hell before I had an opportunity or a heart to repent. Being assured from the word of God, of thy gracious and merciful nature, and of thy willingness to pardon and accept penitent, believing sinners on the ground of the blood of thine own adorable Son, “who died, the just for the unjust, to bring them to God," and that “him that cometh to him he will in no wise cast out," I do most humbly prostrate myself at the footstool of his cross, and through him enter into thy covenant. I disclaim all right to myself from henceforth, to my soul, my body, my time, my health, my reputation, my talents, or any thing that belongs to me. I confess myself to be the property of the glorious Redeemer, as one whom I humbly hope he has redeemed by his blood, to be part of “the first fruit of his creatures."
I do most cheerfully and cordially receive him in all his offices, as my Priest, my Prophet, and my King. I dedicate myself to him, to serve, love, and trust in him as my life and
life's end. I renounce the devil and all his works, the flesh and the world, with heartfelt regret that I should have been en
slaved by them so long. I do solemnly and deliberately take thee to be my full and satisfying good, and eternal portion, in and through thine adorable Son the Redeemer, and by the assistance of the blessed Spirit of all grace, the third Person in the triune God, whom I take to be my
Sanctifier and Comforter to the end of time, and through a happy eternity, praying that the Holy Spirit may deign to take perpetual possession of
heart and fix his abode there. I do most solemnly devote and give up myself to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, agreeably to the terms of the gospel covenant, and in humble expectation of the blessings it ascertains to sincere believers. I call thee to witness, O God! the truth and reality of this surrender of all I have, and all I am, to thee; and, conscious of the unspeakable deceitfulness of my heart, I humbly and earnestly implore the influence of thy Spirit, to enable me to stand stedfast in this covenant, as well as an interest in the blood of the Son, that I may be forgiven in those instances, (alas! that such an idea should be possible,) in
any degree, swerve from it. Done this [2d] day of May, 1809, seven o'clock in the evening, Leicester
ROBERT Hall. (From his Life by Dr. Gregory.)
which I may,
RELIGIOUS DECISION, ENFORCED IN A LETTER
Nov. 1, 1830. MY VERY DEAR FRIEND, YOUR letter confirmed the opinion I had previously entertained, that there is in you some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel,” 1 Kings xiv. 13. In this persuasion, and in every thing that tends to confirm it, I exceedingly rejoice, “ being confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the dav of Jesus Christ,” Phil. i. 6. But, my dear Philip, you will do well to recollect, that this hope or belief that a work of
grace has really been commenced in your heart, is only that of a fellow creature, who knows comparatively little of you, and who, had he the most accurate knowledge of you that a fellow-creature can have, might yet after all be mistaken. This is a matter, you well know, between God and your own soul. He alone is perfectly acquainted with the true state of the case; and to him alone you are accountable. As the good opinion of the wisest and best of mortals cannot alter
or amend our condition in the slightest degree, so it can avail us nothing in his presence, or when called to stand at his tribunal.
Consider again, my dear friend, the vast importance of this affair forbids that we should be too easily satisfied concerning it. A thing of little consequence we often take upon trust, without seeking full demonstration, or without any very minute inquiry or inspection. But a weightier matter, especially if it be one that in our apprehension will probably affect our welfare, to an indefinite extent, for days and years to come, we are accustomed, and very properly so, to consider and examine with a frequency and care proportioned to our ideas of its importance. Here then is one which, by your own admission, not only has a direct bearing upon your present happiness, but upon which hangs the whole weight of your eternal destiny! And shall we suppose that a little attention will suffice upon such a point as this, or that the consideration of it may be deferred to a future and uncertain period ?
It should be remembered, moreover, that this is a subject concerning which we are very liable to be mistaken and deceived. There is in our nature a great propensity to “think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think;' and when we come to scrutinize our own hearts, it is generally with a secret bias in our own favour, which in a great measure unfits us for the impartial performance of the duty. But we are not to be discouraged from attempting it on this account; nor are we to despair of ever arriving at a satisfactory conclusion; for (delightful thought!) the case which is too difficult for us to determine, we are allowed and encouraged to bring before the Lord. So did David: “ Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting,” Psa. cxxxix. 23, 24.
Nor should it be forgotten that Satan, the grand enemy of our souls, when he can no longer prevail with us altogether to postpone that attention to our everlasting interests which the word of God and the voice of conscience so unitedly demand, begins then to exert his utmost influence,
grace of God?
and to make use of all his arts, to induce us to rest satisfied with superficial attainments in religion. If once he can persuade us to believe that all is right, and lull us asleep in the lap of carnal security, he well knows it will be no easy matter to awaken us, and he then reckons himself sure of his
prey. When he gets us into this state, he is contented that we should, like Herod, hear the most faithful preachers of the word, and hear them even gladly,” and “ do
many things” to which we are exhorted, so long as he can but keep us from inward religion and vital godliness. And in this way, oh, what multitudes have been deceived, and finally undone for ever!
All these considerations show that it is a most unwise and dangerous thing to amuse ourselves with mere speculative notions, while little concern is felt to know whether or not our hearts are right in the sight of God. This, this is, after all, the great turning point of our salvation. Are we born again? Have our hearts been renewed by the
Have we received Christ, as our only and all-sufficient Redeemer ? Have we dedicated ourselves unreservedly to his service? Do we, in any degree, bear his image? Do we aim daily to copy his example? Inquiries of this nature we cannot too frequently put to ourselves ; and they should always be accompanied with earnest prayer to the great Searcher of hearts, that we may be preserved alike from self-deception and from the delusions of Satan. And if doubts and fears remain, after such serious selfexamination, and while at the same time we are conscious of a sincere desire to be the Lord's, to be found in Christ, blessed be God! there is a safe way of obtaining solid comfort and true satisfaction; namely, by a present hearty consent to the terms of the gospel; or by going afresh to the Saviour, as if we had never gone before, and pleading that precious promise of his, “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out,” John vi. 37.
My dear Philip, most ardently do I long to find you a decided christian, a truly devoted follower of the Lord Jesus. Be assured you can never enjoy the exalted gratifications, and the soul-satisfying pleasures of religion, until you enter into it with all your heart and soul. The condition of one who is but “almost persuaded to be a christian," must necessarily be extremely miserable, as well as