« PreviousContinue »
ON THE NECESSITY AND BENEFITS
OF CHRISTIAN DILIGENCE.
DILIGENCE is not merely the contrary to idleness, but it
signifies doing what we are engaged in with proper ardour, in opposition to any degree of neglect and lukewarmness. Now, as this is perhaps a suitable definition or description of diligence in general, if we apply it to religious assiduity, a Christian my see the necessity of it, from four considerations :- the capacities of the soul, the shortness of life, the vigilance of his enemies, and his obligations to God, and expectations from him.
. With respect to the first, As every one who has the use of his natural powers of understanding, will, memory, and affections, is capable by diligence to improve them, how much more can a believer, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, do this! And if it be a sin to be negligent in temporal affairs, how much more sinful is it to neglect, or carelessly use, any means for the spiritual good of ourselves or others!
The shortness of life is another strong reason to show the absolute necessity of Christian diligence: thus, for instance, many serious persons are far advanced in years, or else labour under dangerous chronical complaints; and therefore, as most likely their time will be short, they should be very assiduous to use what means they can to get good themselves, and to do good to others. Nor let the healthy and the young indulge the least indifference; for life at best is precarious and short, but let them take the advice of the wise mant, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it i with thy might.”
The vigilance of a Christian's enemies is a third consideration to induce him to be diligent: Satan is a very active, as well as powerful and malicious foe, the world is continnally alluring or vexing, and our hearts are very treacherous ; and as these enemies frequently unite against the believer, it requires the greatest diligence constantly, by faith and prayer, to watch against them: and as faithful ministers (and some private Christians) have more enemies than others, they especially should be uncommonly vigilant to watch their foes, as well as very pious and prudent to give them Ho real occasion to reproach them for misconduct.
The last consideration that I shall bring, to shew the necessity of a saint's spiritual diligence, arises from his obligations to, and expectations from, his covenant God. As every real Christian has received innumerable favours from God, it highly becomes him to be grateful; and this be cannot be, without being diligent; which must be shewn not only in the holy exercises ot' praise and love to God, but also in active zeal for his glory, and the good of his people in this world. Let therefore every true believer first say with David *, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me!” And then, if he will enquire what good he can do (according to his property or abilities) for the churches, the ministers, or people of God, he will continually find opportunities to employ his diligence.-The expectations or hopes of a child of God, may also here be added, to excite him to spiritual assiduity, because, through the merits of Christ, all needful future blessings are positively promised to all real Christianis; yet, to stir up to a vigorous and constant use of all proper means, God has said, ” I will yet be enquired of, that I may do it for them."-All these considerations, therefore, prove the absolute necessity of spiritual activity.
As to the benefits of religious diligence, they have always been very many and great to society, as well as to individuals: thus it is to diligence in writing that we are indebted, in modern times, for the valuable works of Owen, Henry, Gill, Doddridge, and many more; and diligence in preaching has not only been instrunental in propagating Christianity through so many remote nations, but accompanied with the saving power of the Holy Spirit in the first ages, By Chuist and his Apostles, it was successful for remarkable conversions, and in succeeding times, under the puritans atid nonconformists, and afterwards by means of Messrs. Whireteid, Westley, Grimshaw, Berridge, Romaine, &c.it has been made eminently useful.-Diligent Christians also, m all ages, have bern the most remarkable, either for gifts, usefulness, strong faith, or rich cxperience; so that what is recorded in Prov. v. 4, has been experienced by such : « The soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”
But, after all that has, or can be said, to recommend Christian assiduity, let it not be thought that believers are able, merely by their own wisdom or strength of mind, to
practise it. This cannot be; for we are told, * “ It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps;" and Christ has positively told his people t, “Without me ye can do nothing." The power or ability, therefore, to be very active and useful in spiritual concerns, is a gift from the Lord; but there is every reason to believe that all whose motives are good, in being very assiduous in religion, will be made very beneficial to themselves and others.
Upon the whole, although God may make use of the activity of a man, as he did of Jehu, to punish the wicked, and sometimes to do good to his people, yet every sincere person should pray that, instead of resembling that character, he may act like the apostle Paul; who, from the best of motives, was diligent for the glory of God and the real good of souls.
I shall conclude this essay with the following character of a diligent man, selected from a sermon on this subject by Dr. Watts :-“The diligent Christian has not only a sacred pleasure of soul, and a joyful witness in his conscience, but he is a most useful person in the world; for he does good himself, and becomes an excellent example to all round about him he is like one of Nehemiah's builders on the walls of Jerusalem, with a weapon continually in one hand, to stand against his enemies, while he perpetually labours to do good with the other : and thus his work goes on with good success and safety, while his industry is an happy guard against snares and temptations of every kind. Such a Christian animates and encourages all that are near him to the same diligence as fire kindles fire, and spreads the blaze far and near: he is useful to make the hearts of others warm in religion, does credit and honour to his profession, and at last finishes his days with peace, hope and joy." .
G. G. S. Buckingham.
* Jer. x, 23. + John xv. 53
(Continued from our last, page 16.) Dialogue X. is a continuation of the former Conversation
at the Farmer's House, on the Evils of the Slave Trade ; and contains several Narratives, highly interesting and pathetic. It is difficult to make a Selection, where we could wish to give the Whole; and it is impossible to do Vol. X.
justice justice to the Author, without giving those little natural Incidents, and strokes of rustic Simplicity and Humour with which he has contrived to relieve the Reader's At
tention and diversify the Subject. Mr. Hill, however, will do himself Justice by presenting
the Whole to the Public view in a Volume, so soon as it can be brought through the Press; in the mean Time, we hope to gratify our Readers by presenting them with some striking Passages, by way of Specimen : and we think the following must speak very forcibly to every
Humane and Christian Heart. Henry, Littleworth, as before, leads the Conversation, by
describing the Scenes of Cruelty he had witnessed in the West Indies, in the Sale of the poor Negroes, after they
had been forced from their own Country. .. Henry. A Man and his wife, each of them, I suppose, were
A between thirty and forty, and two fine-looking boys, the one about twelve, the other, I should judge, about two years younger, all one family ; captives taken in one of their horrid sham wars. To keep them from having the sulks, it seems, it was promised them that they should all be sold in one lot : but the trader having met with a rich planter who wanted some hearty boy-slaves, finding he could make the best bargain of them by selling them separate, had then all four at a distance from the rest : soon afterwards a driver came to drag the purchased children from their parents. As soon as they perceived this cruel separation was determined, the whole family ran into each other's arms, and embraced one another in such a manner, as that they could scarcely be torn asunder. At length the boys, chained together, were compelled to go before the driver to the destined place of their slavery, while the parents appeared like two creatures perfectly distracted with grief; for they had now lost their last miserable consolation through life, that they might only live and die together, though in a state of cruel slavery. But I saw another scene of the like sort, that affected me more than either of the former. [The Farmer is here much affected; and Mr. Hill humour.
ously represents the Farmer as wondering that his Ma..
jesty does not put an end to this horrid traffic; but Mr. ; Worthy, informs him that our King is not an arbitrary
monarch, and cannot act without his parliament, &c.
After this digression, Mr, Henry proceeds with his .. tiarrative.]
· Henry. Oh, Sir, as I was looking upon these miserable creatures, I saw a poor girl among the rest, sobbing and crying in the deepest distress; and at last she quite fainted away. The captain ordered her to be carried off to a distance. A young slave who was standing by, was not less affected than herself;- he, it sçems, was brought over from the same country about three years before. Seeing the young woman in that condition, he fell down at the feet of the man who had the care of her, and kissed them several times, begging, as for his life, that he might go and speak to her. At length he was permitted. He ran to her with astonishing eagerness, embraced and kissed her several times, crying out,“O my sister Ora! O my dear sister Ora!” I was so affected by this scene, that I had it upon my mind, sleeping and waking, for several days after. : Worthy. Indced, Mr. Henry, the story seems to have been too much for us all. lain sure it has been too much for me ; but do yon know what became of them afterwards ?
Henry. Why, Sir, as soon as the captain's man who had the care of the young woman, perceived that she and the young man were brother and sister, although inured to these seenes of misery, he could not help dropping a tear or two of compassion with the rest of us. After the girl was somewhat recovered, they were left to converse toge ther. The farther particulars of this history I could not learn, but I warrant it was tragical enough. After this, however, the case was made known to the owner, while, according to the true spirit of the trade, lest the brother and sister should both of them take the sulks, so as to endanger their labour, or perhaps the loss of their lives by their mutual grief for each other, it was determined that it should be con trived, if possible, that they might both live together on the same plantation. After some difficulty, it seems this was accomplished; and when they were informed of this event, to see how they jumped for joy, how they embraced and kissed each other, while they went along, arm in arm, to the plantation which was to be the destined place of their labour, not a less affecting scene than the former.
Lovegood. But Oh, what must the parents of these two affectionate creatures have felt on the loss of such children! (To Mr. Worthy... What should you and I feel, Sir, if we were to be bereaved of our children in such an unmerciful manner!
Warthy. O it is too much to be thought of. (To Henry.) Indeed, Ms. Henry, I think you must discontinue your