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VILLAGE DIALOGUES. .
CIES OF GOD IN THE JUSTIFICATION AND SANCTIFI-
MAN, FARMER LITTLEWORTH, AND FAMILY.
1 sufficient time to return home between the services, carried their provisions with them into Thomas Newman's house ; and there partook of it. After the second service they returned; and after supper the following conversation took place.
Steadyman. Well, sister Littleworth, I never spent such a Sunday as this before. (To his wife.) Mistress, I wish you had been with us. I never saw such a serious and devout congregation, and never heard such a sermon since I was born: and then we eat our dinners at Thomas Newman's house, the poor man that works for my brother. What a good man he is! and what a charming family he has got! I counted seven of them, and, I think, his wife is near her time again ; and what a wonderful prayer he made before we all went again to church. We do not serve God in our parts any thing like as they do here. I never saw any thing like religion as I have seen it this day.'
Mrs. Steadyman. Why, Nathaniel, what can possess you to talk about religion in this manner? Well, if I did not always suspect what would become of this visit, as well as Mr. Dulman.
Mrs. Littleworth. I let my husband go his way, and I go mine; and I find I am quite as happy, since he has taken to religion, as ever we were before.
Steadyman. Well, never did I hear any minister, from the beginning to che end, lay open the Bible in a manner like him. I am sure I should never stay at home if I could hear at Ruckford a minister like Mr. Lovegood. If I can, I think, I shall go to hear poor Mr. Meek, the Welshman, for he is supposed to be the most like him of any man in our parts ; but o how he explained, as he called it, the way of salvation for ruined sinners by Jesus Christ! Though I have read so much of it in the Bible, and have heard so much about it, yet I wonder at myself how I could be so ignorant what these things could mean.
Henry. Why, to be sure, he preached us two excellent sermons; but to me it appears, as tho' every serion he preached was better and better. O what a blessing we have in that most dear man of God! and what a mercy it would be, if in every parish there were such ministers to instruct the ignorant. It is his very heart's delight to go about doing guod to the souls of his people.
Steadyman. Why, I must confess, when I heard him in the desk, I liked him wonderfully; but in the pulpit what a man he is ! and with what love and affection he preaches ! his heart seems to feel every word he says. But I rather wonder at his text, “ By the law is the knowledge of sin.” How wisely he explained it! I did not know there was such a text in all the Bible.
Henry. And did you not admire how he set forth the purity and holidess of God, both in his nature and in his law? That as he was infinitely
holy in himself, so he must hate sin, whether committed by a postate men or angels, in an infinite degree; that we had not only to consider our outward actions before man, but the state of our hearts inwardly before God; that it was said, “ Blessed are the pure in heart," for it was they, and they only, that could - see God."
Steadyman. Why, I had always understood that if we were but just and honest before man, it was quite enough. How well he explained that text, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord; for in thy sight shall no Alesh living be justified :" that though we miglit be justified by our actions in the sight of man, yet that none of us could be justified in the sight of God, as his holy nature abiiorred the inward sinfulness of our hearts.
Farmer. Ah, dear brother, how glad I am to hear you talk after this fashion ! Because I thought I did not deserve to stand before the justice for my wicked deeds, I thought I had righteousness enough to stand before the Lord himself! How could I think myself a christian, while I thought no more about the salvation of my soul by Jesus Christ than the dead folks do in our church-yard at Mapleton !
Henry. But while he pointed out the nature of God, did you not mind, uncle, how he explained to us that every wicked sinner in a state of enmity against God, lived with a hell in his own heart while he was living without God in the world?
Steadyman. Yes : and I remember he said, that every sinner was his own tormentor, by his own wickedness.
Henry. I suppose you mean that part of his sermon in which he was proving how every person who was tormented with anger, malice, or revenge, was a most cruel self-tormentor; and that covetousness shut up a man's heart, not only against all mankind, but against himself; and that, therefore, he was a self-tormentor. These, he said, were a set of devilish self-tormentors. Then he talked of a set of beastly self-tor. mencors; and all that he said against these evil ways, I have experienced to be true, moșt sadly to my own cost. In these days I should not hare cared if I had broken my father's and my mother's hearts; if I could but have got their property to have spent it in my wicked projects. (Henry is affected, and weeps; the Farmer is also much affecied, and adds)
Farmer. See, brother, how wonderfully the grace of God has changed the heart of my dear child! how different he is now to what he was before he went to sea ! and you know what a poor, thoughtless, worldlyminded sinner I was before I took to go and htar Mr. Lovegood.
Steadyman. Why, I confess, brother, I see something in religion that I never thought of before; and all that I have been hearing to-day seems to me to be true, that there is no disputing against it.
Henry. Yes, uncle, and I was glad, for your sake, that you were there ; for it appeared to me as clear as the light, what Mr. Lovegood said of the law,--that it was the revelation of the mind and will of an infinitely holy God among all his creatures; that, therefore, the least sin; in the least degree, must put us under the condemnation of that law; that if God could in any measure allow sin, or look over it upon account of our cos. ruption, such sinful actions would be no longer unlawful actions; for " where there is no law there is no transgression."
Steadyman, Indeed, Mr Henry, it appears to me that I might have gone all the days of my life to hear Mr. Dulmán, at Rucktord, and still continued as ignorant of the law as if I had been a downright heathen. Nay, as for my part, I do not know that I ever heard any thing further about the law than what a heathen may practise quite as well as a chris
tian. At one time, we are told we must not get drunk; then that we must not curse and swear; then that we should pay our debts; and then that we must come to church and keep the Sabbath. Now I had never any inclination to do otherwise, between man and man; but we never hear any thing to the purpose, how the heart of man should be before a pure and holy God.
Farmer. Aye; and just in the same way Mr. Doolittle used to “ daub me over with his untempered mortar;" for though I was never so strict and moral as you have been, brother Steadyman, yet, as I kept pretty tight to my church, and used to act good-naturedly towards my neighbours, and, as our parson used to say of me, I had a good heart at bottom, when he used to hear of me in my tipsy fits, I thought if I had religion enough to please him, I need not concern myself about any thing further ; especially as I thought he could do such wonderful things for me when I came to die.
Henry. Ah, but uncle, these sort of notions will never make out what Mr. Lovegood said about the law from the word of God; how it is the letter that killeth, and the ministration of death and of condemnation. If the law required nothing but outward sobriety and morality, I suppose you never transgressed it; and then the Bible is not true that says, We have all sinned, and come short of the glory of God; and that consequently judg. ment is past upon all men to condemnation.
Steadyman. Why, I have no more a desire to make myself a beast by getting drunk, than I have a desire to go and lie to-night in brother's hog-stye; and as for outward integrity between man and man, I thought myself almost to be a little god upon that account, because people would say of me, that they would rather trust me upon my word, than believe many others upon their oath. But I did not quite understand what Mr. Lovegood meant by the law being the ministration of death and con. demnation.
Henry. Why, you know when any one commits a capital offence, by transgressing the laws of his country, then the law administers condemnation and death to that man; and when he is given over to the executioner, he loses his life by the letter of that law; and, therefore, it is the Jetter that killeth. Now you know, uncle, the first and great command is, That we should love the Lord our God with all our hearts, and minds, and souls, and strength; but our blind consciences think little or nothing of living in the perpetual neglect of love to God, while we are much more alarıned if we neglect those rules of morality we ought always to observe between man and man. Thus we live in entire neglect of the du- , ties of the first table, that tells us what we should be before God; and think that all will be well if we keep up a little outward decency in attending to the duties of the second table, which direct us how to act among our neighbours.
Steadyman. But how Mr. Lovegood talked about the spirituality of the law, and what a holy frame of mind was needed before ever we could Jove God; and that we could practise nothing that was truly good before God, unless we loved him : that it was impossible that any man could repent of sin till he hated it; and that sin never was hated till God was beloved : and how plainly he made it out, that without this love to God we could never pray aright, believe aright, or do any thing aright.
Farmer. Ah, brother Steadyman, and so I found it with me directly as I took to go to Brookfield church; for though I had much more reason than ever you had to find fault with the outward wickedness of
my actions, yet I now felt the worst of the evil lay in the inward wickedness of my heart; that as I knew nothing what it was to love God, so I had no heart or inclination to do any thing that was good in his sight. Never, till then, could I say with Job, though so inuch more holy than all of us, “ Behold I am vile.” O what strange foolish creatures we must have been, in the midst of our wickedness, to think that we were righteous, when God's word so plainly says, “ There are none righteous ; no, not one!”
Nancy. Well, as for my part, I never thought whether my heart was either good or bad, or any thing about it; only I thought it was wrong to oppose people because they were desirous to be better than myself; but I never saw what a state I was in till I heard Mr. Lovegood preach upon that' text out of the Lord's prayer, “ Thy will be done;" and then I saw, as he explained it, I never did the will of the Lord in all my lifetime, and that I never could do it, so as to please God, till I had a new heart.
Steadyman. A new heart! aye, I heard Mr. Lovegood make use of that expression.
Henry. Yes; and can't you remember what he said : how that God never wrote his holy law but upon the tables of a new heart; and that every singer, without a new heart, was in a condemned and ruined state ; and that all we did in such a state was sin, because done from a sinful principle.
Steadyman. Well, till this day. I always thought I had as good a chance for Heaven as any of my neighbours ; but I never considered the state of iny heart before God."
Farmer. Ah, brother, there is the gripe. When we think of our ac'tions before man only, though now and then we get ourselves daubed and dirted, yet we suppose, by a little of the white-wash of morality, we can soon cover all this. But when we look at the state of our hearts, how can we think of justifying ourselves before him ! * Steadyman. Well, I shall never think I shall be able to justify myself "before God any more. What the publican said I must say, "God be merciful'to me a sinner.”
Henry. Well, uncle, I am heartily glad you now understand it:, by the Jaw, or by the knowledge of the law, is the knowledge of sin ; for this is the only way we cau come by the knowledge of the glorious doctrine of salvation by Christ alone : and how wonderfully well our minister preached upon that subject in the afternoon !
Mrs. Litileworth. Why, Party, child, how you şil yawning! What are you going to sleep?
"Miss Party. Why, is not going to church once or twice a Sunday religion enough' for any body, without having so much of it over and over again after supper?"
Mrs. Littleworth. Well, weil, if you and Polly don't love to hear any more talk about these inatters, you had better put away the things into the pantry, for we have all done supper. (To the Farmer.) Master, shall you'wanç any more drink?.
Farmer. Oh no, mistress, you may put it all away; but let us see (the Farmer takes out his watch); it is above five minutes after nine by the town-hall clock at Mapleton, and our poor daughters don't like our conversation ; yet I think it will do brother Sreadyman and none of us any harm, if we sit up'a little longer to talk about the good things we have bçen hearing this day at Brookfield church,
Steadyman. I admire that your minister takes such different texts to preach from, to what Mr. Dulman, and such sort of ministers chuse to head their sermons with; and then when they have taken their text, we hear very little more of the Bible, but only about some moral duty we ought to perform; and against some evil practice that people ought to avoid. I never heard that text preached on before, which Mr. Lovegood took this afternoon, “ That God might be just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus ;” and at first I could not understand what he could make of it.
Farmer. Why, it was the sum and substance of all the Bible.
Steadyman. So I thought when he came to open it ; what a deal of pains he takes to make the people understand the Bible!
Farmer. Whenever he has shewn us our ruination in ourselves, he is sure to tell us of our redemption in Christ.
Steadyman. Well, I never thought of any Christ till to-day, but my own good works.
Mrs. Steadyman. Why, Nathaniel, and what can you bave better than good works? There is nothing like them, I am sure. Don't tell me: good works are better than all the faith in the world. I am afraid I shall be plagued to death by your new notions in religion, and I shall not like that ; and if you take to go after parson Meek, you shan't be taking him a pocketful of money every time you go there. Don't you know that we have got a family?
Mrs. Littleworth. Why, sister, I used to be very cross with my hus. band, when I supected that he gave away his money to Mr. Lovegood's followers; but, I don't know how it is, we have prospered more of late than ever.
Farmer. Ah, sister, we have all enough of this world; it would be well for us if we thought a little more of the next; but I remember the time when I used to keep up a main bustle about my good - works; but it was when I did nothing but bad ones. Now, I never thought of leading a new life till after God had given me a new heart; and we know that good faith will produce good fruits; but it will never do to turn religion topsy turvey.
Henry. Let me sce; I think I put down something that Mr. Lovegood said this day on that subject (looking at his notes) ;, here it is; he brought these three texts : “ Without faith it is impossible to please God" “ Faith worketh by love" -“ Love is the fulfilling of the law." So that, unless we are rooted and grounded in the faith of the Gospel, we shall never bring forth any fruit unto God.
Steadyman. Well, well, I now see I have been trusting upon the deeency of a heathen, without the spirituality of a christian. O, brother, what shall I do to be saved ?
Farmer. Why, did you not hear at church, how God could be just, while he was the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus ? Was it not worth while to go a thousand miles to hear such a charming sermon; and so much of the precious love of Christ to such perishing sinners ?
Steadyman. I was so much affected while he explained to us the love of Christ in dying for our redemption, that I scarce knew where I was ; it so overcame me.
Farmer. Dear brother, how thankful I am, that ever you came with us this day to Brookfield church! How this brings to my mind when Thomas first persuaded me to go there ; and Mr. Lovegood was then prcaching upon these words : " Christ died, the just for the unjust, that