Page images
PDF
EPUB

grave, earnestly entreat that we should consider whether it is probable that we shall live useful lives, enjoy the comforts of religion in our day, or die a comfortable death, unless the fallow ground of our hearts be broken up, and we cease to sow among thorns.

“I know nothing short of the Almighty power of divine grace which can produce this change. Yet God ordinarily works by the use of means; and these means he hath put into our power. We should then guard against every thing in our hearts and lives that opposes the work of God's grace, and be diligent in the use of all appointed means, with resolution to persevere therein to the end. Especially we should be careful to search the sacred scriptures, and form our notions of religion from them, and not from any man or set of men, or sect of christians whatever. We often attend more to human authors, and to our fellow creatures, though they be ignorant, than to the oracles of God. This is a great and God-dishonouring error. Thus it is that the divine life languishes in our souls, we live unprofitable lives, and prove a real injury to the cause of Christ, and a stumbling block to the unbelieving and profane. I have often thought that the professors and members of the present day, instead of being burning and shinng lights to animate and enlighten all around them, are like rocks of ice that chill the air and freeze every thing which comes in contact with them.

“While we consider these things, let us humible our. selves before God our Maker. But let us pot despair either of our own particular religious prosperity, or of the prosperity of the cause of religion in general:

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

There is balm in Gilead, and a physician there. There is a fountain opened in cur world for the house of Das vid and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness. There are many great and precious and absoluie promises made in God's word, to which the most needy may look, whether in a converted or in an unconverted state. Who is there among you that feareth the Lord, and obeyeth the voice of his servant, and walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. Jo a little wrath I hid my face fronthee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy upon thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Incline your ear and come unto me, hear and your soul shall lire, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold I have refined thee but not with silver, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. Then will I sprinkle clean waters upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you: a

new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony béart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh, and I will put my spirit within you, and I will cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them. Be not afraid, it is J. Reach hither thy finger and put it into the print of the nails, and thrust thy hand into my side, and be not faithless but believing, I am he that liveth and was

dead, and behold I am alive forever more, amen, and have the keys of hell and of death. Come all ye who las. bour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Look unto me all ye ends of the earth, and be ye saved, for I am God, and besides me there is none else. Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities. The bruised reed he will not break, and the smoking flax he will not quench, till he bring forth judgment unto victory, and the isles shall wait for his law. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool. Thy dead men shall live together, with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust, for my dew is as the dew of herbs. and the earth shall cast out the dead."

Here father Rice concluded, saying, “When I began this little history, I designed a lengthy address on some particular subjects, but find I must conclude for want of ability to proceed.” “The watchman," says his amanuensis, “hath once more told us what of the night. It was indeed a last effort. Like Jacob of old, his weak state required to be strengthened when he sate upon

hin bed, and gave his last blessing to his children. - He bad been a father to the scattered churches in this country. and he still had the feelings of a parent, though his tongue was deprived of its eloquence, his voice had lost its harmony, and the powers of articulation sometimes failed. While dictating these Memoirs, he had often to take rest before he could proceed, yet his mind was

firm. He was an old man among a thousand. Amidst all-the infirmities of nature, he was Mr. Rice still. His memory with respect to recent occurrences had failed greatly, but his understanding was the same that ever it had been. He was still cheerful, still instructive. He talked about the grave with serious composure, and with as little alarm as a man talks of his bed when undressing. His mortal clothing was worn out, and he was about to lay it off without a murmur. I could not help wishing him another suit, that he might go on preaching again, but it was an unjust wish. He had endured the storms of half a century. Why should not the relief come at last? We knew not his value while he was with us in full vigour. May we profit by his character, and example, and writings, which are now all that we have left of him!"

CHAPTER XV.

SKETCH OF THE PART WHICH HE TOOK IN

NATIONAL AND STATE AFFAIRS,

[ocr errors]

Mr. Riče was naturally of a modest and retiring disposition, yet when duty evidently called, he could come forth, from the humble walk of a country parson, and take a part in the public concerns of the nation. At the commencement of the Revolutionary struggle he took a decided stand, and let slip no opportunity of warning the people among whom he laboured, of the danger to which tbeir civil rights were exposed. He indeed, like many others, at first supposed that the grievances of which the colonies complained might have been redressed, and complete security given for the enjoyment of all these privileges, without a dismemberment of the British Empire. But when the attainment of the object in this way was found to be utterly hope. less, he was prepared to make every sacrifice, and to exhort his countrymen to make every sacrifice, rather than submit to arbitrary power, in any form or in any degree. He knew the force and the spirit of the apostolic injunction—"Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well." See 1 Pet. ii. 13 & 14. But he knew also that he who had made of one blood all the nations of the earth, never authorised any one class of men, or any one nation, to exercise authority over another class, or over another nation, any farther than it was consistent with the general good. He knew also, that in the case of British subjects there was a sol. emn compact between the rulers and the ruled, and thus obedience was only a duty when protection and justice were afforded.

As an illustration of these remarks, the following exracts are given from a discourse which appears to have been delivered at a county meeting, at an early period

« PreviousContinue »