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Title: The Duty of a Christian People under Divine Visitations
Author: Smart, Newton
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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UNDER DIVINE VISITATIONS***


Transcribed from the 1832 J. G. & F. Rivington edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org



                                   THE
                        DUTY OF A CHRISTIAN PEOPLE
                                  UNDER
                           DIVINE VISITATIONS.


                                * * * * *

                                  BY THE
                         REV. NEWTON SMART, M.A.
                      OF UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, OXFORD.

                                * * * * *

         “WHEN THY JUDGMENTS ARE IN THE EARTH, THE INHABITANTS OF THE
                       WORLD WILL LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

                                * * * * *

                                 LONDON:
                    PRINTED FOR J. G. & F. RIVINGTON,
               ST. PAUL’S CHURCH-YARD, AND WATERLOO-PLACE:
      AND SOLD BY J. HATCHARD & SON, PICCADILLY; PARKER, & TALBOYS,
              OXFORD; ANDREWS, DURHAM; CHARNLEY, NEWCASTLE;
                RENNEY, SUNDERLAND; AND OTHER BOOKSELLERS.

                                * * * * *

                                  1832.

                                * * * * *

                                 LONDON:
                     PRINTED BY GILBERT & RIVINGTON,
                            ST. JOHN’S SQUARE.

                                * * * * *

                                    TO
                            THE REVERED MEMORY
                                    OF
                 ONE OF THE KINDEST AND BEST OF MOTHERS,
                                   WHO
         RECEIVED HER CHILDREN AS A GIFT THAT COMETH OF THE LORD,
                         AND PRAYED AND LABOURED,
                   WITH EARNEST AND FAITHFUL DILIGENCE,
       TO BRING THEM UP IN THE NURTURE AND ADMONITION OF THE LORD,
                          THIS WORK IS INSCRIBED
           WITH THE DEEPEST FEELINGS OF FILIAL LOVE, GRATITUDE,
                             AND VENERATION.

                   “THE MEMORY OF THE JUST IS BLESSED.”



THE
DUTY OF A CHRISTIAN PEOPLE,
&c.


                                _Isaiah_ x. 3.

    “WHAT WILL YE DO IN THE DAY OF VISITATION AND IN THE DESOLATION WHICH
    SHALL COME FROM FAR?  TO WHOM WILL YE FLEE FOR HELP?”

THE aspect of the times, upon a careful survey, presents, to the
thoughtful mind, cause of anxiety for the safety and welfare of the
empire; and, to the religious mind, ground for apprehension, lest the
Almighty should be about to visit, for the sins of the nations, by
“pouring upon them the vials of His wrath.” {3a}  In the emphatic
language of our Lord’s prediction of the latter days; there is,
throughout Europe, “distress of nations with perplexity; men’s hearts
failing them for fear; and for looking after those things which are
coming upon the earth.” {3b}  In this country, to an alarming state of
popular excitement, there has supervened a new cause of dread, so great,
as almost to absorb, for the present, all subjects of merely temporal
interest.  A fearful and most fatal pestilence, which had extended far
and wide in Asia, has been gradually spreading throughout Europe, and
steadily advancing towards our shores: there exists a difference of
opinion as to whether or not it has reached them; but thus much is
certain; an epidemic, similar in character, and hardly less malignant and
fatal, has broken out in one of the seaports of the kingdom, and extended
to some of the neighbouring towns and villages; thus appearing to
establish its identity with the Continental disease.

Under circumstances so calculated to produce general apprehension, and so
full of danger to the community at large, it becomes a matter of vital
importance to enquire, What is the course a Christian people should
adopt?  To such an enquiry, the sincere Christian,—who is satisfied, that
the safety of nations and of individuals is, at all times, in the
protection of the Almighty; and who believes, that the sword, the famine,
the earthquake, the tempest, and the pestilence, are but instruments in
the hand of God to execute His sovereign and gracious will,—may justly
reply in the words of a prophet of old, speaking in the name of the Most
High: “THEREFORE, ALSO, NOW SAITH THE LORD, TURN YE EVEN TO ME, WITH ALL
YOUR HEART, AND WITH FASTING, AND WITH WEEPING, AND WITH MOURNING.  AND
REND YOUR HEART, AND NOT YOUR GARMENTS, AND TURN UNTO THE LORD YOUR GOD:
FOR HE IS GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL, SLOW TO ANGER, AND OF GREAT KINDNESS,
AND REPENTETH HIM OF THE EVIL.” {5a}  And how is a whole nation to be
called upon to humble themselves before God in the day of their
visitation?  Let the same Prophet return the answer; “BLOW THE TRUMPET IN
ZION, SANCTIFY A FAST, CALL A SOLEMN ASSEMBLY, GATHER THE PEOPLE,
SANCTIFY THE CONGREGATION, ASSEMBLE THE ELDERS, GATHER THE CHILDREN.  LET
THE PRIESTS, THE MINISTERS OF THE LORD, WEEP BETWEEN THE PORCH AND THE
ALTAR, AND LET THEM SAY, SPARE THY PEOPLE, O LORD.” {5b}

As the Almighty, “with whom is no variableness, nor shadow of turning,”
{5c} is “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever;” {5d} as “whatsoever
things were written aforetime, were written for our learning; that we,
through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope:” {5e}
let the people of this kingdom, strong in faith, raise, on an appointed
day, their united voice in prayer; and in the language of sorrow,
humiliation, and repentance, cry, O Lord, “we have sinned with our
fathers, we have done amiss and dealt wickedly;” {5f} but “Thou, Lord,
art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them who
call upon Thee!” {5g}  Alas! because we see not the “outstretched arm” of
Omnipotence, which governeth the nations; because we hear not the “mighty
voice” which universal Nature obeys; we too often forget that “the Lord’s
hand is not shortened that it cannot save, nor his ear heavy that it
cannot hear:” {6a} we too often forget that it is “God that ruleth in
Jacob, and unto the ends of the world.” {6b}

But is it sufficient to call upon a people, suffering under the
apprehension or infliction of Divine judgments, to assemble in the courts
of the Lord’s house, to acknowledge the justice of their punishment, and
to humble themselves before their God?  Let the volume of inspiration
again reply, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto
me? saith the Lord?” {6c}—“WASH YE, MAKE YOU CLEAN, PUT AWAY THE EVIL OF
YOUR DOINGS BEFORE MINE EYES; CEASE TO DO EVIL, LEARN TO DO WELL, SEEK
JUDGMENT, RELIEVE THE OPPRESSED, JUDGE THE FATHERLESS, PLEAD FOR THE
WIDOW.” {6d}  “BEHOLD, TO OBEY IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE, AND TO HEARKEN
THAN THE FAT OF RAMS.” {6e}

Much has been effected when a nation has been brought to prostrate itself
before God, and, through a deep sense of its guilt, weakness, and misery,
to flee unto Him, who alone is mighty to save; but incalculably more has
been accomplished, when to the prayer for mercy has been added one for
grace; and it has been truly, not less the language of the heart than of
the lips, “Sanctify to us this thy fatherly correction, that the sense of
our weakness may add strength to our faith, and seriousness to our
repentance.” {7a}  May God, of His great mercy, vouchsafe to the people
of this land, “to know the time of their visitation;” {7b} to humble
themselves before Him, who “in faithfulness has caused them to be
troubled;” {7c} to “seek the Lord while He may be found, and to call upon
Him while He is near;” {7d} and to “repent and turn themselves from all
their transgressions: so iniquity shall not be their ruin.” {7e}  Oh that
the practical infidelity, which exists to such a fearful extent in the
present day, may not withhold from a suffering people the deliverance and
blessing which God alone can bestow!  A neglect and distrust, if not a
denial of God’s Providence, in the preservation and government of nations
and individuals, is one of the most crying sins of the day.  Because the
natural eye does not perceive the visible workings of a Divine economy in
the course of events, it practically ascribes all to human means, and
relies on human aid.  But, as if “the finger of God” was to be revealed
as pointing in wrath to this great truth of natural and revealed
religion—a Divine providence—one of the most remarkable and terrible
features of this fatal pestilence, through which so many millions of
human beings have been swept away, is, that whilst human prudence has
been completely baffled in its plans of prevention, human science has
failed in its attempts at cure.  What a salutary lesson does this teach,
in a day when earthly is often elevated above heavenly wisdom in the
estimation of men, and when the arm of flesh appears more confided in
than the arm of Omnipotence, for the accomplishment of events!

May the great Disposer of events, who, in the dispensations of His
Providence, is graciously pleased to educe real good from seeming evil,
make this awful visitation productive of religious advantage to this and
other nations.  May earthly sovereigns learn that the Lord, by whom
“kings reign, and princes decree justice,” {8a} is their defence, and
“the Holy One of Israel, their King:” {8b} may the rulers of the people
remember, that “except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in
vain.” {8c}

For although God’s providence governs all things in heaven and in earth,
still the great Sovereign of the universe, “the King of kings, and Lord
of lords,” “waiteth to be gracious,” nor suffers His truth to fail.  He
shuts not up His loving-kindness in displeasure, but listens to the
prayers of the meanest of His servants; and in answer to them, He often
suspends, and sometimes averts his just judgments.  The guilty cities of
the Plain would have been spared for the sake of ten righteous, if that
number of the servants of the true God could have been found amongst the
inhabitants. {9a}  Nor is the prayer of humble and contrite guilt
disregarded.  The judgments impending over Nineveh were suspended, when
that mighty capital, at the preaching of a prophet, acknowledged its sin,
and humbled itself before the Lord. {9b}

Let, then, the prayer of repentance, faith, and submission, arise to the
throne of Divine grace, from the united people of the land; and, soon as
the merciful object of this visitation is answered, we may humbly trust
the command, as of old, will be addressed to the destroying angel, “IT IS
ENOUGH, NOW STAY THINE HAND.” {9c}  For the Almighty has himself
declared, “At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation and
concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it:
if that nation, AGAINST WHOM I HAVE PRONOUNCED, TURN FROM THEIR EVIL, I
WILL REPENT OF THE EVIL THAT I THOUGHT TO DO UNTO THEM.” {9d}

May, then, this nation receive grace, in this their day of trial, to
“TURN FROM THEIR EVIL,” before the Lord “allow His full displeasure to
arise.”  May they learn and acknowledge, that their only hope of safety
is in the mercy and long-suffering of God, who alone can preserve them
from “the pestilence which walketh in darkness, and from the sickness
which destroyeth in the noon-day.”  May they “offer faithfully,” and the
Lord “receive acceptably,” their prayer for deliverance: “Have pity, O
Lord, have pity upon Thy people, both here and abroad; withdraw Thy heavy
hand from those who are suffering under Thy judgments; and remove from us
that grievous calamity, against which, our only security is in Thy
compassion!” {10a}  And may our gracious and long-suffering Lord be
pleased to arrest in its course the pestilence, now confined to few
places, and to permit it not to spread dismay and death through the towns
and villages of the kingdom.

Thus far, the duty of a Christian people _collectively_, under Divine
judgments, has been shewn; it remains to consider their duty
_individually_; which involves the consideration of what man owes to his
God, his country, his neighbour, and himself, under any general
visitation of Divine Providence.  The Christian’s duty towards God, when
His judgments are abroad, is a recognition of, and submission to, His
chastening hand: to his country, unwearied exertion for the removal of
the evils which appear to have called down the Divine vengeance: to his
neighbour, friendly assistance, religious exhortation, and spiritual
consolation: and to himself, through Divine grace, humiliation,
repentance, amendment, and daily preparation for death and judgment.

These several duties, being all dependent upon each other, and intimately
blended in their operation, may, perhaps, be not unfitly considered, as
embraced by the public and private obligations of Christians under
afflictive dispensations; which may be briefly stated to be—earnest
prayer and incessant labour to effect a PERSONAL REFORMATION, and, as far
as in them lies, a NATIONAL REFORMATION; which are proposed to be
considered, as follows, more at large.

Let individuals “humble themselves under the mighty hand of God;” {11}
let them acknowledge the extent of their sinfulness, and the justice of
their punishment; let them confide in God’s mercy, and commit themselves
to His safe keeping; let them seek for grace to reform, in their lives
and conversation, whatever is at variance with the Gospel; from which,
and not from the maxims of men, let them learn what is required of
Christians.

Let them publicly bear testimony at once to the justice and mercy of
God’s judgments, and strive earnestly to rouse the nation to a sense of
its guiltiness, which has exposed it to the Divine displeasure; let them,
in dependence on the blessing of Heaven, labour to eradicate all infidel
and heretical opinions; to advance a reformation of public morals; and to
promote a general diffusion of true religion, sound learning, and useful
knowledge.

Too justly does the language of Isaiah, addressed to the rebellious and
guilty house of Judah, apply to our own times: “Ah, sinful nation, a
people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that are
corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One
of Israel to anger, they are gone backward.” {12a}  May He, “who alone
can order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men,” and convert
them from the evil of their ways, “pour upon all flesh the spirit of
grace and supplication;” {12b} that individual may extend, until it
become national repentance, and the whole nation worship before Him.
Then will the scourge of His wrath prove the harbinger of His mercy, and
we shall become a chosen people, a holy nation unto the Lord.  Then may
our gracious and long-suffering God allow us, without presumption, to
draw comfort from those words of favour and forgiveness, spoken to His
people when humbled and contrite: “Remember these, O Jacob and Israel;
for thou art my servant; I have formed thee, thou art my servant: O
Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me: I have blotted out as a thick
cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins: return unto me, for I
have redeemed thee.” {13a}



I.  The Christian’s duty of personal reformation under Divine judgments.


It is from the volume of inspiration—whence he derives all the light
which he enjoys, as to the providence, beneficence, and love of God;
whence he draws all the knowledge he possesses as to the nature of his
own being, the object of his present existence, and the place of his
final destination;—man must learn his duty under the Divine
dispensations.  The Holy Scriptures are to the true Christian “a lamp
unto his feet, and a light unto his paths.” {13b}  When pursuing his
heavenward journey through this vale of tears, the prospect often appears
uninviting and gloomy, the sky dark and troubled, and the way, always
narrow, becomes sometimes a thorny and tangled path.  Dangers also, more
or less near and alarming, keep the pilgrim often under apprehension, and
always on his guard.  Still, he pursues a straight-forward course, from
which he deviates little—for he possesses a guide more unerring than the
compass of the mariner, and that guide is the infallible Word of God.
When darkness obscures, difficulties perplex, and dangers environ his
road, in his unfailing “lamp” he finds light, guidance, and safety.

At this moment, a dark cloud hangs over this country:—nay, more, the
storm of Divine displeasure has already commenced.  Lest, therefore, it
should burst upon us in its full “fury,” let all betake themselves to
that blessed light, which, amid the thickest darkness and most appalling
storm, can “guide our feet into the way of peace.” {14a}  Let the enquiry
be made as to the course to be adopted in the words of a Prophet: “_What
will ye do in the day of visitation_, _and in the desolation which shall
come from far_?  _To whom will ye flee for help_?” {14b}  Let the same
Prophet reply: “TRUST YE IN THE LORD FOR EVER, FOR IN THE LORD JEHOVAH IS
EVERLASTING STRENGTH.” {14c}

Trust in God is the necessary fruit of faith, which is the only basis on
which religion can rest: “he that cometh to God must believe that He is,
and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him:” {14d} thus,
except with one philosophical school of antiquity, a belief in the being
of a God has, even amongst the Heathen, always been accompanied by a
trust in His Providence.  In the Christian scheme, this trust is a fixed,
governing principle.  “To take notice of the hand of God in every thing
that befalls us,” says the learned and excellent Sherlock, “to attribute
all the evils we suffer, and all the good things, to His sovereign will
and appointment: this is the foundation of all the other duties which we
owe to Providence, and the general neglect of this makes us defective in
all the rest.” {15a}

This passage supplies a clear view of Christian duty under afflictive
dispensations.  As faith recognises an Almighty Father’s will in the
appointment, and His hand in the direction of events, the believer refers
equally national and individual prosperity and adversity, mercies and
visitations, to Him, “whose power ruleth over all.”  And as he refers all
events to the will and appointment of the great Governor of the Universe,
he endeavours to receive whatever befalls him, as coming from His hand,
with patient submission and humble thankfulness: for he knows how
immeasurably his punishment falls short of his deserts; and he is
assured, that “_God chastens us for our profit_, _that we might be
partakers of His holiness_.” {15b}  At the same time, therefore, that he
relies with firm dependence on the tender mercies, the blessed guidance,
and sure protection of his Heavenly Father; he seeks for grace to improve
to the spiritual advancement of himself and others, the divine
chastisements,—“chastisements which originate in love, and are tempered
with mercy:” {15c} “_For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth_, _and
scourgeth every son whom he receiveth_.”{16a}  He enters, therefore, anew
upon a careful review of his past life, and again summons before the bar
of conscience, “the sins of his youth, and the offences of his riper
age;” he recalls to mind the warnings he has had, the privileges he has
enjoyed, and the mercies he has received; and he institutes a rigid
scrutiny into his present life, which he tries by the unerring test of
God’s holy word.  And if he be sincere and honest, and not a dissembler
with God, and a deceiver of himself, the language will spontaneously
burst from his lips; “It is good for me that I have been in trouble, that
I may learn Thy statutes.” {16b}  “Oh, Lord, my strength and my fortress,
my refuge in the day of affliction,” {16c}—“Turn Thee unto me, and have
mercy upon me, for I am desolate and in misery.  The sorrows of my heart
are enlarged; oh, bring Thou me out of my troubles; look upon my
adversity and misery, and forgive me all my sin.” {16d}

Not that probably his life has been stained with deeper or more numerous
offences than the generality of men: it may be that he has been “brought
up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” and has never departed
from serving his God; it may be that he has long ranked amongst those who
strive to be “blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in
the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, amongst whom they shine as
lights in the world.” {17a}  But still there lives not the man who has
not much to repent of, and to humble himself for, before the Lord.  And
when the sorrows of life, the judgments of God, or the approach of death,
loosen the hold of earthly ties upon the affections, and the attention
becomes intently fixed on that invisible world of spirits, whither all
are hastening: then, even he, who has long sought to serve his God with
devout reverence and holy obedience, feels with stronger force, and sees
with clearer view, the fearful extent of his omissions of duty and
commissions of sin.  When he considers that one moment may suffice to
usher him into the presence of that Great Being, of infinite purity, in
whose sight the heavens are not clean; when he remembers the condemnation
passed on all sin by a righteous law;—conscious guilt compels him to bow
before the Lord with the deep self-abasement of him who “smote upon his
breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner;” {17b} and conscious
weakness makes him call to the Saviour, with the imploring voice of him
who cried, “Lord, save me.” {17c}  For when the conscience is fully
enlightened, and the heart sanctified by Divine grace, a clear perception
of the holiness of God’s law, and a deep sense of personal unworthiness,
are produced in the believer, which at once humble him to the dust, and
lead him to throw himself entirely on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus
our Lord.  Then it is that he labours to devote himself more entirely to
his Master’s service, “and adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all
things:” {18a} then it is he “sets his affections on things above:” {18b}
“looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great
God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might
redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people,
zealous of good works.” {18c}  And then it is that he takes for his song
in the house of his pilgrimage, “I know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are
right, and that Thou of very faithfulness hast caused me to be
afflicted.” {18d}  “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward
man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  For our light
affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more
exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  While we look not at the things
which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things
which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are
eternal.” {19a}

Such is the conduct of the true believer under the chastening hand of the
Lord; such the improvement which, through the Divine blessing, he is
enabled to make of those afflictive dispensations, which are sent in
mercy to remind him, that he is only a “stranger and pilgrim upon earth,”
and must “desire a better country, that is an heavenly.” {19b}  And when
God’s judgments are upon the land, when He has smitten the people with
pestilence, the servant of the Lord rests with firm faith on the
protection of Him, who has promised, as “thy days, so shall thy strength
be.” {19c}  He knows that whatever happens to him is by the appointment
of God, without whom even “a sparrow shall not fall on the ground;” {19d}
he has further, the blessed assurance, that “all things work together for
good, to them who love God;” {19e} therefore he has all “the joy and
peace in believing” of those, whose minds being “stayed on God,” {19f}
abound in hope through “the power of the Holy Ghost.” {19g}  Not that he
supposes he will possess a necessary exemption from the power of the
pestilence; this would be to presume on God’s protection: not that
trusting to Divine Providence he neglects all human precautions, and
unnecessarily exposes himself to danger; this would be, in the strong
language of Scripture, to tempt God: not that he relies on human
precautions as supplying any ground of security; this would be to
distrust God.  But believing that the pestilence can have no power over
him, except by the Divine appointment; and being assured, that, if such
be the Divine will, it will prove for his final and eternal welfare; he
uses, with entire dependence on the Divine blessing, the precautions
which prudence dictates; and commending himself to the safe keeping of
God, he faithfully and diligently discharges the duties of his station
and office, whether of pastor, magistrate, citizen, physician, or
servant, or, as they may be included in one word, of Christian.  Not that
the believer, whilst he “wears this veil of flesh,” is elevated so far
above human infirmity, that, through the power of faith, he knows neither
weakness nor fear in the hour of danger, and in the discharge of duty.
St. Paul—in allusion to the marvellous change wrought in the soul, “by
the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus
Christ,”—says, “but we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the
excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.  We are troubled on
every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always
bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also
of Jesus might be made manifest in our flesh.” {21a}  Still, they who
have learnt, through grace, to confide, with the simplicity of a child,
on the power, care, and love of their heavenly Father, will, amid
difficulties and dangers, “prove more than conquerors, through Him who
loved us, and gave Himself for us;” and will repose, with firm faith,
pious hope, and holy confidence, on His protection, IN WHOSE HANDS ARE
THE ISSUES OF LIFE AND DEATH; and who has said, by the mouth of his
prophets, “THOU SHALT NOT BE AFRAID FOR ANY TERROR BY NIGHT, NOR FOR THE
ARROW THAT FLIETH BY DAY; FOR THE PESTILENCE WHICH WALKETH IN DARKNESS,
NOR FOR THE SICKNESS WHICH DESTROYETH IN THE NOON-DAY.  A thousand shall
fall beside thee, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not
come nigh thee.” {21b}

There are some sincere Christians, who, from natural timidity of
disposition, or from constitutional debility, are peculiarly susceptible
of fear; and distress themselves by considering such fear a proof that
they do not possess the favour of God.  Let them earnestly pray for that
holy and firm faith, which disarms apprehension under great and imminent
peril; but if they do not obtain it, let them not despond, but continue
their prayers; it may be a blessing which Heaven has still in store for
them.  But if not, _having learnt submission to the Divine will_, let
them draw comfort from words which should be so deeply engraved on the
memory, as to be ever remembered, and speak peace, in their moments of
doubt and alarm, to their troubled souls: “FEAR THOU NOT; FOR I AM WITH
THEE: BE NOT DISMAYED, FOR I AM THY GOD: I WILL STRENGTHEN THEE; YEA, I
WILL HELP THEE; YEA, I WILL UPHOLD THEE WITH THE RIGHT HAND OF MY
RIGHTEOUSNESS.” {22a}—“The truth is, the greater our fears and sorrows
and aversions are, the greater is our submission to God: it may be
thought a great weakness of nature to be so afraid of our sufferings; but
it argues the greater strength of faith, and is a more glorious victory
over self, to make our very fears and aversions submit to the Divine
will.  Submission to God does not consist in courage and fortitude of
mind to bear sufferings, which many have, without any sense of God, and
which the profoundest reverence for God will not always teach us; but he
submits, who receives the bitter cup and drinks it, though with a
trembling heart and hand.” {22b}

Thus much having been stated, that the timid mind or the sickly frame;
the tender plant of grace or “the bruised reed;” may not sink under a
weight of obligation, the fulfilment of which is above their present
strength; and may not despair, because they fear they can never attain to
that measure of faith, “which, whilst it kisses with filial reverence the
rod of correction,” can, in the strong language of St. Paul, “_glory in
tribulation_ also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and
patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed,
because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost
which is given unto us.” {23a}  Let it be remembered, at the same time,
that though none should despond, because they possess not a strength of
faith bestowed only on the most highly-advanced Christians; still, all
must earnestly seek grace to be enabled to “go on unto perfection;” {23b}
by having implanted in their souls that “perfect love, which casteth out
fear.” {23c}  And, as undoubting faith, unrepining submission, and
unwearied supplication, are amongst the leading features of the true
Christian character, they alone can enjoy the consolations of the Gospel
of peace, who are “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing
instant in prayer.” {23d}

It is a painful, an awful consideration, how many, in this Christian
land, “care for none of these things.” {23e}  I speak not merely of the
profane, the scoffer, the sceptic, and the infidel; of those who “make a
mock at sin,” and, disputing or disbelieving the truth of Christianity,
“live without God in the world;”—I speak also of the gay, the
thoughtless, and the proud; of the worldly, the avaricious, and the
sensual; of the envious, the malicious, and the censorious; and, with
shame be it said, of unworthy and false professors and teachers; of the
unsound in faith and morals; of the lukewarm, the self-righteous, and the
hypocritical; in short, of all who, declaring a belief in the Christian
faith, either mistake its doctrines, disregard its spirit, abuse its
privileges, or live unmindful of its strict and holy obligations.
Against all such the Gospel denounces condemnation and woe.  How, then,
are they prepared to meet the awful dispensation of Divine Providence,
which has fallen upon the nation?  Let the prophet’s enquiry be addressed
to them:—“What will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation
which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help?”  Will ye dare
to say, “O Lord, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of
affliction?”  What! can ye in sickness apply to God for relief, who in
health were “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God?” {24}  Can ye in
affliction seek comfort of God, who in joy have by your actions denied
God?  Can ye in adversity flee to God, who in prosperity had not God in
all your thoughts? {25}  They who have never really sought, and submitted
to the guidance of the Gospel, cannot hope to possess its support and
consolations in the first hour of need.  How dark, therefore, to such, is
the season of sickness, of sorrow, and of adversity: they enjoy no light
from above, no comfort from within, no consolation from without, which
can brighten the gloomy mind, cheer the desponding heart, and soothe the
alarmed conscience.  Faithful and busy memory serves only to supply a
painful retrospect of opportunities neglected, and warnings despised: and
conscience, which had long slumbered in a deadly lethargy, often now
inflicts her sharpest stings upon the wretched sufferer.  And should they
be arrested by the sudden stroke of a fatal malady, when living in
forgetfulness of God, and intently occupied with the pursuit of pleasure,
honour, or of gain; how terrible is the approach of death!  How often, as
this life is fading from the darkening eye, do the realities of the next
burst upon the mind, with a distinctness and force never felt before!
How often, as the soul is trembling on the fearful verge of eternity, is
a vain wish entertained for the return of a brief portion of that time
which has been spent in sin, folly, or the acquisition of what will not
profit in a dying hour!  But is the prayer for mercy, extorted by fear
and suffering, never heard; is the tardy repentance never accepted?  On
the contrary, we believe the prayer of humble and contrite guilt to be
never rejected: but, be it remembered, at the same time, that repentance
is the gift of God, and that those who long trifle with their day of
grace, and by silencing the admonitions of conscience, resist the Spirit,
may be visited with the fearful punishment of judicial blindness and
final impenitence.  “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have
stretched out my hand, and no man regarded: but ye have set at nought all
my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your
calamity, and will mock when your fear cometh; _when your fear cometh as
desolation_, _and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind_, _when distress
and anguish cometh upon you_.  _Then shall they call upon me_, _but I
will not answer_; _they shall seek me early_, _but they shall not find
me_: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the
Lord; they would none of my counsel, they despised all my reproof.” {26}

From this fearful denunciation of Divine wrath upon obstinate and
hardened disobedience, what an awful lesson may be learnt, under the
present circumstances of this country.  How descriptive are many of the
terms employed of that fatal pestilence which has broken out in the land!
in the suddenness of the seizure, it resembles “THE WHIRLWIND;” by its
destructiveness, it causes “DESOLATION;” and from the intensity of the
sufferings which it produces, arise “DISTRESS AND ANGUISH.”  God grant
that the threatened vengeance be not equally verified;—“THEN SHALL THEY
CALL UPON ME, BUT I WILL NOT ANSWER; THEY SHALL SEEK ME EARLY, BUT THEY
SHALL NOT FIND ME.”  Oh! let not any individual risk incurring such a
fearful doom by delaying his repentance!  The Lord now calls every one
with a voice that all must hear; He has “bared an arm,” which all must
see; let not any longer refuse, let not any longer disregard, lest they
should fill up the measure of their iniquity, and be swept away by the
blast of Divine displeasure!  Let not any trust to that, at all times
presumptuous, if not always fallacious, hope, a death-bed repentance.
That man, whose existence hangs upon a thread, which a moment may suffice
to snap, should defer his preparation for death and judgment, is such an
act of madness, that nothing but a knowledge of its certainty could make
a religious mind credit the fact.  What! risk an eternity of joy or
misery on the chances of a moment! for beyond the present moment, man
possesses no security of the continuance of life.  And the very
presumption which leads him to calculate upon long years to come may call
forth that awful sentence,—“Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be
required of thee.”  But if the postponement of turning and calling upon
God be, under ordinary circumstances, full of presumption and danger,
what is it now in times of pestilence?  From the many instances of
mortality which encompass us on every side, “there comes a voice, which
solemn sounding bids the world prepare.”  The judgments of the
Almighty,—to those who are living in forgetfulness of Him, and
disobedience to His commands, but have not entirely thrown off His
service,—speak the language addressed to Jonah, “What meanest thou, O
sleeper?  Arise, and call upon thy God.” {28a}  But to those who refuse
to turn, who “harden their necks against the reproof, and will have none
of the counsel of God;” they resemble the characters of flame upon the
walls of the palace of Belshazzar, which announced the terrible
decree,—“THOU ART WEIGHED IN THE BALANCES, AND ART FOUND WANTING.” {28b}

The Christian writer, judging from the experience of the past, cannot
close his eyes to the sad truth, that there are some whom mercy softens
not, whom threatening warns not, whom danger alarms not.  Who amidst
manifestations of Divine wrath, display hardened unconcern or desperate
wickedness.  What a striking proof have we here of the effects of sin in
hardening the heart, and deadening the conscience.  But let not any
imagine that such men will view the approach of the fatal malady without
alarm.  The bodily anguish will probably supply no parallel to the mental
terror, when they find themselves clutched, as it were, in the grasp of
the mortal disease which is destroying them.  And in the ordinarily brief
interval between seizure and that death, which so often ensues, if
conscience resume her power, how terrible must be the remorse, how
unutterable the anguish of the affrighted soul, which sees death, death
eternal in view, and yet cannot pray: or if the cry for pardon and help
to their long-forgotten God, burst from the quivering lip, it is the
bitter cry of almost despairing terror.  Sad as are many of the scenes
which human life presents in its passage from the cradle to the tomb; and
harrowing to the feelings of beholders as is the sight of corporeal
anguish; how immeasurably do other scenes of human suffering fall short
of the union of bodily and mental agony, often witnessed on the death-bed
of terrified guilt! but still, to the religious mind, there are two
death-beds still more fearful, as being more hopeless; and they are, when
desperate wickedness, at its last hour, evinces hardened indifference or
blasphemous despair; when no prayer is offered, or when curses are
mingled with the prayer.

May the fear of such death-beds act, through the grace of God, as a
salutary warning to those who are living in sin, and neglecting to
improve the call to repentance sent in mercy: and let their thoughts
extend beyond the present life, and draw further instruction from the
awful truth—that whilst death terminates to impenitent guilt its present
sufferings, it commences others far more terrible.

Were it permitted to a living man to pass the portals of the dark
prison-house of disembodied spirits, and witness the punishments of the
condemned,—the unceasing gnawing of the undying worm, the unremitting
burning of the unquenched fire;—what words could express the joy and
thankfulness of that man, on returning to the land of the living and the
place of hope!  Would he lose a moment in fleeing to the cross of Christ,
for deliverance from sin, and refuge from the wrath to come?  Would he
still defer seeking for “repentance towards God, and faith towards our
Lord Jesus Christ?” {30}  The terrible realities he had witnessed of that
state of untried being on which the soul enters at death, would doubtless
haunt his waking and his sleeping hours, and he would find no rest till
God, by his Spirit, had spoken peace to his affrighted soul.  And then,
long as life lasted, it would be his daily subject of grateful
thanksgiving to his gracious long-suffering Lord, that he had borne with
his iniquities, and had not cut him off in the midst of his sins: but
through the Divine mercy he was allowed on earth “to praise the Lord with
joyful lips,” instead of “in hell, lifting up his eyes, being in
torments.” {31}

But such a visit to the place of condemned spirits is not necessary to
learn all that in our present state of being it concerns us to know.  The
volume of inspiration has revealed the awful truth, that an eternity of
torments awaits the condemned in a future world.

Will not, then, this suffice to rouse thoughtless and sinful men to a
sense of danger?  The judgments of the Almighty now upon the land; death
approaching many under a fearful form; the presumption and sinfulness of
trusting to a late repentance; the danger of the infliction of judicial
blindness; the horrors of a guilty death-bed; the torments of the damned,
have all been urged as so many calls to repentance, and may God accompany
them with his grace, that they may not be urged in vain; but all of these
equal not the awfulness and terribleness of AN ETERNITY OF TORMENT.
There is something overpowering in the idea of unmitigated unmitigable
woe; it is so terrific, that it astounds, it is so vast, that it
overwhelms the mind: for the finite faculties of man cannot grasp
eternity: they are lost in the maze of millions of years rolling on in
endless succession.  But if there be any who have tost, for one night, on
a bed of suffering; any who have experienced, for one hour, the racking
torture of intolerable pain; let them ask themselves how they would
endure, in the immensity of endless time, “the worm which dieth not, and
the fire which is not quenched.”

May this awful consideration have its due weight upon every reader; may
those who have not yet been “turned from darkness to light, and from the
power of Satan unto God,” obtain grace to seek pardon and peace through
the Saviour who brought life and immortality to light by the Gospel;
that, through Him they may escape “the fire prepared for the devil and
his angels.” {32a}

“Knowing, therefore, the terrors of the Lord, we persuade men,” {32b}
says St. Paul: who afterwards adds, “Now, then, we are ambassadors for
Christ; as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you, in Christ’s
stead, be ye reconciled unto God.” {32c}  It is thus the Christian
minister declares the denunciations of Divine vengeance, and the
certainty and eternity of Divine punishments, that he may prepare the way
for a joyful acceptance of the offers of Divine mercy.  This two-fold
duty of the ministerial office, is beautifully described by Cowper:

    “There stands the messenger of truth, there stands
    The legate of the skies!  His theme divine,
    His office sacred, his credentials clear.
    By him the violated Law speaks out
    Its thunders: and by him, in strains as sweet
    As angels use, the Gospel whispers peace.” {33a}

The dispensations of the Almighty are at once the inflictions of his
displeasure, the warnings of his love, and the invitations of his mercy:
to every sinner they address the enquiry, “Despisest thou the riches of
his goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the
goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?  But after thy hardness and
impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of
wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God?” {33b}  May the
Almighty give his blessing upon the afflictive visitation He has sent
upon this land, that sinners may be roused to a sense of their danger,
and brought to embrace thankfully the offers of pardon and salvation,
made through Christ Jesus our Lord!

The Holy Scriptures present at once the most earnest calls to repentance
and the most gracious offers of forgiveness.  “As I live, saith the Lord
God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked
turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways, for
why will ye die, O house of Israel?” {34a}  “O house of Israel, are not
my ways equal, and are not your ways unequal? saith the Lord.  Therefore
I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,
saith the Lord God.  Repent, and turn yourselves from all your
transgressions, so iniquity shall not be your ruin.  Cast away from you
all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a new
heart, and a new spirit; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? for I
have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God.
Wherefore, turn yourselves, and live ye.” {34b}  “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.” {34c}

Such are some of the invitations of the Holy Scriptures to turning and
calling upon God.  Let us, then, suppose the case of one who is alarmed
by the Divine threatenings; who, conscious of his guilt, sees as it were
the gulf of perdition yawning beneath his feet; but is deterred, by a
sense of the heinousness of his sins, from seeking the pardon which he
despairs of obtaining.  How is he to be addressed?  The love and mercy of
God, as shewn towards a guilty and perishing world, in the mysterious,
but most gracious, plan of redemption, through the Saviour, must be
pointed out, and largely dwelt upon.  Under the severer dispensation of
the Law, amid the awful splendours of its promulgation, the Lord was
proclaimed to be “the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious,
long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for
thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, and that will by
no means clear the guilty.” {35a}  Under the Gospel dispensation, it is
emphatically said, “GOD IS LOVE:” {35b} that “God so loved the world,
that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him
should not perish, but have everlasting life.” {35c}  Let not, therefore,
the heinousness of past sins, and the sense of present unworthiness,
deter any from coming to the Saviour: for “God sent not his Son into the
world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be
saved.” {35d}  And that gracious Saviour has authoritatively declared,
what is the sole condition of acceptance, through His infinite merits:
“Verily, Verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me hath everlasting
life:” {35e} and has tenderly invited all to flee unto Him who labour
under the yoke of sin, or the burden of sorrow; “Come unto me, all ye
that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest: take my yoke
upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall
find rest unto your souls: for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
{36a}  Before the nativity of our blessed Lord, the command was conveyed
by an angel, “Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His
people from their sins.” {36b}  Agreeably to which, He Himself says, “I
am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” {36c}  And
St. Paul prefaces his delivery of the great truth he was commissioned to
teach, in a manner befitting its importance: “This is a true saying, and
worthy of all men to be received, that Christ Jesus came into the world
to save sinners.” {36d}  If the Gospel did not contain a free pardon for
sin, little would it be in accordance either with its name, _good news_,
or with the proclamation of the heavenly host, which heralded the birth
of the Messiah: “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which
shall be _to all people_, for unto you is born this day in the city of
David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” {36e}  To every penitent the
promise is addressed—“Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out.”
{36f}  The Divine mercy towards repentant sinners knows no restrictions;
the cleansing power of the Saviour’s blood, no limitations.

If there be any self-convicted and self-condemned sinner, still
hesitating to throw himself upon the mercy of God in Christ, let him hear
the Psalmist, who has represented under the most striking and affecting
images, the love of God towards man: “The Lord is full of compassion and
mercy; long-suffering and of great goodness.  He will not always be
chiding, neither keepeth He his anger for ever.  He hath not dealt with
us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our wickednesses.  For
look how high the heaven is in comparison of the earth, so great is His
mercy also toward them that fear Him.  Look how wide also the east is
from the west, so far hath He set our sins from Him.  _Yea_, _like as a
father pitieth his own children_, _even so is the Lord merciful unto them
who fear Him_.  For He knoweth whereof we are made, He remembereth that
we are but dust.” {37a}  Let him hear St. John, who has stated the full
extent of Christ’s atoning and mediatorial power: “If _any man sin_, we
have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is
the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the
sins of the whole world.” {37b}  Let him hear St. Paul, who has supplied
a sure ground of unfailing trust in God: “_He that spared not His own
Son_, but delivered Him up for us all, how _shall He not with Him also
freely give us all things_?” {37c}  Should any one still hesitate to come
unto Christ as their Saviour, let him hear His merciful expostulation,
“_Ye will not come to me that ye might have life_.” {38a}  Let him listen
to His gracious enquiry, “_Wilt thou be made whole_?”  And if he still
cannot persuade himself, that there is mercy in store for such a sinner
as himself, let him at last draw comfort from the assurance, that “the
_Son of Man is come to save that which is lost_,” {38b} and seeks after
perishing sinners, as the faithful shepherd after the sheep which have
wandered from the fold.  Nor is this all: not only does our gracious Lord
_seek after guilty and lost sinners_, but “_likewise there is joy in the
presence of the angels of God over_ ONE SINNER _that repenteth_.” {38c}
What a proof have we here of the value of the soul in the sight of God!
His incarnate Son dying to redeem it from eternal misery; when restored
to His Father’s right hand, watching over it with constant care; and
seeking, with tender gentleness, to bring back the wanderers from the
fold of grace: and when the slave of sin breaks his fetters, and through
grace given unto him, falls repentant and humbled at the foot of the
cross, then joy is felt in the court of heaven, and the seraphic choir
give praise, and honour, and glory, to “Him who sitteth on the throne,
and the Lamb;” {38d} because a poor sinner has been turned, by the
marvellous grace of the Gospel, “from darkness to light, and from the
power of Satan unto God; that he may receive forgiveness of sins, and
inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Christ
Jesus.” {39a}

The gracious and unmerited invitations of Divine mercy are addressed to
all sinners by “God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and
to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” {39b}  Let not therefore any
one say, my sins are too great to be forgiven; this is to limit the
atoning efficacy of Christ’s blood, which is illimitable: let not any one
say, I am not yet fit to come unto Christ; this is to mistake the nature
of the Gospel, which is designed to remedy man’s natural unfitness: but
let all betake themselves to Christ for pardon of past sins, through His
blood; and for strength against future temptations, through His grace.
Nor let it be thought that these observations apply only to gross
sinners.  One description of man’s natural condition, and only one,
applies to the whole human race;—“All have sinned and come short of the
glory of God:” and one means of restoration to the lost favour of God,
and only one, is offered to the whole human race;—the “being justified
freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ: whom
God has set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in His blood, to
declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past,
through the forbearance of God.” {40a}  Those who refuse to come unto
Christ as sinners, stand self-excluded from all benefit of His atonement.
To such the Saviour addresses the words,—“Because thou sayest I am rich,
and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and _knowest not that
thou art wretched_, _and miserable_, _and poor_, _and blind_, _and
naked_.  _I counsel thee to buy of_ ME gold tried in the fire, that thou
mayest be rich; and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that
the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with
eye-salve that thou mayest see.” {40b}  Man’s natural weakness and
sinfulness is the fundamental truth on which the Christian plan of
redemption is built; for if he had possessed inherent power to overcome
his natural depravity, and keep the commandments of God, the sacrifice of
Christ would not have been necessary for the atonement of his sins, and
for his escape from eternal condemnation.  Did we not know that pride,
based upon a poor and defective system of morality, generally shows the
most decided hostility to the humbling doctrines of the Gospel, it would
hardly be believed that any would refuse to come to Christ as sinners.
How much at variance are such self-righteous feelings with the spirit of
the confession of our Church, in which, under the appropriate and
affecting figure of sheep wandered from the fold, we are accustomed to
entreat the pity, protection, and guidance, of the great “Shepherd of our
souls.”  There are two considerations, however, which may, with the
Divine blessing, if duly weighed, bring such persons to the foot of the
cross with deep self-abasement and acknowledgment of sin: one is, that in
the Gospel the motive determines the value of an action; and the
Christian’s motive is, to do all to the glory of God: the other is, that
man is accountable, not only for his actions, but for his omissions; not
only for every idle word, but for every sinful wish; nay, more, for every
impure thought indulged and cherished.  Let those who think their
failings few and venial, their merits great, and deserving of reward,
apply to their lives these two great tests of Christian holiness—praying,
at the same time, to “the Father of lights,” for grace and knowledge: and
if they be not brought to admit, that “in many things we offend all;”
{41} if it be not the language of their hearts, “We acknowledge and
bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we, from time to time,
most grievously have committed, by thought, word, and deed, against thy
Divine Majesty, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against
us;”—they are ignorant of the spirit of the Gospel, and far from the
kingdom of God.  For, like the Jews of old, “they have a zeal of God, but
not according to knowledge: for they, being ignorant of God’s
righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have
not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.  _For Christ is
the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth_.” {42a}
“That no flesh should glory in His presence.  But of Him are ye in Christ
Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and
sanctification, and redemption; that, according as it is written, he that
glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” {42b}

To true believers, “CHRIST IS ALL IN ALL:” {42c} on His atonement they
rest for pardon before God; on His grace they rely for strength; and to
His merits they trust for salvation.  Their truly Christian hope is built
upon a lively faith; they believe “that man is very far gone from
original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so
that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit, and therefore in
every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and
damnation.” {42d}  That “the condition of man, after the fall of Adam, is
such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural
strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God; wherefore we have
no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the
grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and
working with us when we have that good will.” {43a}  “That we are
accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works and deservings:
wherefore that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome
doctrine, and very full of comfort.” {43b}  And “albeit that good works,
which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, cannot put
away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s judgments; yet are they
pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily
of a true and lively faith; insomuch that by them a lively faith may be
as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.” {43c}

Such are the four Articles of the Church of England which declare man’s
natural corruption; his just exposure to Divine condemnation; his means
of restoration to God’s favour; the meritorious cause of his salvation;
and the inseparable union of faith and good works.  From which may be
drawn these two fundamental principles of the Christian faith—salvation,
alone through the all-sufficient merits of Christ; and sanctification,
alone through the renewing power of the Holy Ghost.  Man is, in every
respect, a dependent being: the same Almighty Power which formed his body
from the dust of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of
life; can alone enlighten, renew, and sanctify his soul.  Thus
faith—which is the rock on which the Church of Christ is built, and
without which we shall never believe the promises, accept the offers, or
attain the salvation of the Gospel—is the gift of God, and wrought in our
souls by the Holy Spirit.  United with faith is true repentance, which is
no less the work of grace; for unless God enlighten the understanding,
there will be no just sense of sin; unless He soften the heart, there
will be no contrition: and from a true repentance there always springs
holy obedience, which is also produced by the Spirit: for the same
blessed Power which enlightens the darkness of the understanding and
softens the hardness of the heart, also rectifies the perversion of the
will, and sanctifies the corruption of the affections, that the believer
may know, choose, obey, and love, the way of godliness.  And thus we
arrive at that blessed change in the life of a penitent, when he becomes
“a new creature in Christ Jesus,” when “old things have passed away, and
behold all things have become new;” when he has “put on the new man,
which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

The renewal and sanctification of the soul is the only sure ground on
which the Christian can build his unfailing hope of salvation.  Not that
any may presume to limit the extent of the Divine mercy, or state a
definite time for the operations of the Holy Spirit.  The first is as
boundless as it is unsearchable; the second may be as instantaneous as it
is incomprehensible.  Thus much we know with certainty, that when that
most encouraging call to repentance was addressed to the Jewish
people,—“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his
thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon
him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon;”—there was added,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,
saith the Lord: for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my
ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” {45}
Still, all who have time and opportunity must prove the sincerity of
their repentance, and the soundness of their faith by the holiness of
their practice.  Nor can it be too earnestly insisted upon, that it is
only by the gift of a new and holier nature, man can rise above the
pleasures of sense and things of time, and set his affections on the joys
of immortality; and that the new and holier nature is implanted, when the
gracious promise is fulfilled—“I will give them one heart, and _I will
put a new spirit within you_; _and I will take the stony heart out of
their flesh_, and will give them an heart of flesh: that they may walk in
my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my
people, and I will be their God.” {46a}  It is to the use of palliatives
much of the insincere repentance and imperfect reformation of men is to
be ascribed.  When their fears are alarmed, they set about correcting
some flagrant sins, and it may be, become outwardly moral, and even
attentive to religious duties; but the renewal of the heart, through
grace, and the dedication of its affections to God, are never thought of;
and yet they are satisfied with this condition.  Such persons are only to
be roused by preaching conversion or condemnation.  They must be taught
to pray, with repentant David, “_Make me a clean heart_, _O God_, _and
renew a right spirit within me_.  Cast me not away from thy presence; and
take not thy Holy Spirit from me.  O give me the comfort of thy help
again, and stablish me with thy free Spirit.” {46b}

The great work of the renewal and sanctification of the soul is
ordinarily accomplished by a progressive growth in grace; during which,
the believer is gradually enabled to obtain the mastery over the corrupt
affections of his nature, to acquire the graces and perform the duties of
the Christian character, and “to set his affections on things above,”
ever “pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God
in Christ Jesus,” {47a} and endeavouring to “come in the unity of the
faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto
the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” {47b}  In the life
of some of those who have been “brought up in the nurture and admonition
of the Lord,” {47c} and have never departed from serving their God, there
may be no clearly defined transitions, no strongly-marked shades, in the
harmoniously-blended colours, in which has been traced the even tenor of
their way.  But such cases are probably rare—for those who attain to a
very high degree of spiritual-mindedness, can generally fix upon some
definite period in their religious life, when they obtained clearer views
of their personal unworthiness, and of the holiness of God’s law; of the
insufficiency of the things of earth to minister to the wants of an
immortal soul; and of the inestimable value of the “treasure in heaven,”
than they ever possessed before; and when they learnt to rely on their
Lord more confidently, to love Him more devotedly, to advance His cause
more zealously, and to obey Him more steadily and implicitly.  In the
case of those, who have either deserted the God of their youth for a
“world lying in wickedness,” but, like the prodigal, upon abandoning its
vices and follies, have been received and pardoned by a merciful Father;
or who have been brought up in ignorance of religion, but have been
plucked like a brand from the burning, by one of those afflictive
dispensations which God often sends in mercy to awaken sinners; the time
and circumstances of their conversion {48a} will be clearly marked and
ever remembered: “it is too momentous an event,” observes Paley, in
writing of such conversions, “to be forgot: a man might as easily forget
his escape from a shipwreck.” {48b}

The knowledge of the time, however, when conversion takes place, is
principally of importance, as far as it goes to establish the fact, the
certainty of which must always be determined by the effects produced; for
it is easy in this, as in every other particular of religious experience,
to be deceived.  But there can be no deception when the believer is at
once conscious of a change in his heart, and exhibits a reformation in
his life; for then he may say, this I know, that whereas I was dead, now
am I alive in the Lord: he possesses an internal witness to his being
born of God;—“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of
God;” “He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness—in himself;”
and His life affords external proof of his sonship;—“Whosoever is born of
God, sinneth not.” {49a}  He rejoices, therefore, in the glorious
privileges of the Gospel, through which “there is, therefore, now no
condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the
flesh but after the Spirit;” through which, “as many as are led by the
Spirit of God, are the sons of God;” {49b} and through which, “the Spirit
itself beareth witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God;
and if children, then heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus.”

Let, then, the reformed examine strictly into their lives, as to whether
they exhibit decisive proofs of a genuine conversion; of conversion, not
used in its limited sense, as implying a sudden or even violent change,
but in the more extended sense, of a recovery from sin, and of a full
development of the Christian character:—a conversion which, in its
completion, is equivalent to the renewal of the soul in righteousness;
the progress of which may be, in some, so gradual, as almost to be
imperceptible, but must be, in all, so certain, as to be unquestionable.
Let those, who, through the grace of God, have endeavoured to live ever
mindful of their baptismal engagements, and duly sensible of the blessed
privileges of the Christian covenant, institute a no less rigid
examination into their lives, as to how far they manifest a continued
growth in grace; an increasing in every good word and work; a growing
conformity to the example of Christ; a visible ripening for heaven; and a
gradual restoration of the lost image of God in the soul.  And what is to
be said to those who have either never learnt, or have wilfully violated,
their baptismal engagements; and during a long course of sin, have
neglected, disobeyed, and forgotten God, whose calls to repentance they
still disregard?  The same language must be addressed to the habitual, as
was applied to the externally reformed sinner;—whose heart was still the
seat of vain or impure desires, of base or malignant passions;—CONVERSION
or CONDEMNATION.  “Of the persons in our congregations,” says Paley, “to
whom we not only may, but must, preach the doctrine of conversion,
plainly and directly, are those, who with the name indeed of Christians,
have hitherto passed their lives without any internal religion whatever;
who have not at all thought upon the subject; who, a few easy and
customary forms excepted (and which with them are mere forms), cannot
truly say of themselves, that they have done one action, which they would
not have done equally, if there had been no such thing as a God in the
world; or that they have ever sacrificed any passion, any present
enjoyment, or even any inclination of their minds to the restraints and
prohibitions of religion; with whom, indeed, religious motives have not
weighed a feather in the scale against interest or pleasure.  To these it
is utterly necessary that we preach conversion.” {51a}  “The next
description of persons to whom we must preach conversion, properly so
called, are those who allow themselves in the course and habit of some
particular sin, with more or less regularity in other articles of
behaviour; there is some particular sin, which they practise constantly
and habitually, and allow themselves in that practice.  Other sins they
strive against, but in this they allow themselves.  Now no man can go on
in this course consistently with the hope of salvation; therefore, it
must be broken off.  The essential and precise difference between a child
of God and another is, that the true child of God _allows himself_ in no
sin whatever; cost what it may, he contends against, he combats all sin;
which he certainly cannot be said to do, who is still in the course and
habit of some particular sin; for as to that sin, he reserves it, he
compromises it.  Here then we must preach conversion.” {51b}  “In these
two cases, therefore, men must be converted and live, or remain
unconverted and die.” {51c}

Let then all those who are living in ignorance of the spirit, and
consequently in neglect of the obligations of the Gospel, lay this to
heart; and let them not imagine that it is only intended to alarm their
fears.  The scoffer, the profane, the sceptic, and the infidel, can hope
for nothing through a Gospel which they ridicule, despise, or reject.
But the gay, the thoughtless, and the proud—the worldly, the avaricious,
and the sensual—the malicious, the censorious, and the envious—all
profess to believe the Gospel; and the lukewarm, the self-righteous, and
hypocritical, pretend to make it their rule of life.  “To the law, and to
the testimony,” to see whether these must all be converted or condemned.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the
kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in
heaven.  Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name have cast out devils, and in Thy
name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I
never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” {52a}  It
appears, therefore, possible to exercise some of the highest functions of
Christianity, and yet to be cast away.  “Not the hearers of the law are
just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” {52b}  “Be
ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
{52c}  Hence, then, we learn the worthlessness of a mere profession of
the Gospel.  “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the
world: if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
{53a}  Here we are taught the incompatibility of the love of the world
with the love of God.  “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which
are these;—adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry,
witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions,
heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of
the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that
they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” {53b}
This fearful catalogue of offences, which exclude from heaven, passes
sentence of condemnation upon all who live in the indulgence of any known
sin.  From these, and many other passages of Scripture, as well as from
its general tenor, we arrive at the conclusion, that the various classes
of men which have been described, are all exposed to the righteous
judgment of God, ready to be revealed at the last day.  They bear the
Christian name, it is true, but that is all they possess of a blessed
dispensation, which was ushered in by the preaching of repentance:—“The
time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, _repent ye and
believe the Gospel_;” {53c} and which has always imposed upon its
converts personal holiness, as a universal obligation, and inseparable
from its promises and rewards; “_Wherefore follow holiness_, _without
which no man shall see the Lord_.” {54a}  “For the grace of God that
bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us, that denying
ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and
godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope and the
glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who
gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and
purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” {54b}  As
being destitute, therefore, of the essentials of the Christian faith, the
powerful writer, who has already been quoted at such great length, says,
“these persons are really in as unconverted a state as any Jew or Gentile
could be in our Saviour’s time.  They are no more Christians, as to any
actual benefit of Christianity to their souls, than the most hardened
Jew, or the most profligate Gentile, was in the age of the Gospel.  As to
any difference in the two cases, the difference is all against them.
These must be converted before they can be saved.  The course of their
thoughts must be changed: the very principles upon which they act must be
changed.  Considerations which never, or hardly ever, entered into their
minds, must deeply and perpetually engage them.  Views and motives, which
did not influence them at all, either as checks from doing evil, or as
inducements to do good, must become the views and motives which they
regularly consult, and by which they are guided;—that is to say, there
must be a revolution of principle: the visible conduct will follow the
change, but there must be a revolution within.”

These observations are made by Paley, with reference to those persons
“who have hitherto passed their lives without any internal religion
whatever;” with whom, in short, religion has not been the rule of life.
Oh! that the countless multitudes within this kingdom, to whom this
description applies, and who are living regardless, if not ignorant, of
the eternal condemnation impending over their unconverted souls, “would
be wise and consider their latter end.”  Oh that they would be persuaded
to learn from the word of God, what the holy name which they bear
requires of them; and consider what the vows made in baptism bind them
to, if they wish to be partakers of the precious benefits purchased for
his faithful servants by Christ, at the costly price of his blood.  “Ye
do err, not knowing the Scriptures,” is a reproof which applies to them
all.  For, unfortunately, the generality of men are content to receive
from others all they know of religion: they do not enquire for
themselves; but willingly acquiesce in the most indulgent views of human
duty.  And if they do sometimes read the Bible, yet they do not study it,
and pray over it, with an anxious desire to be brought to a knowledge of
the truth; with a firm determination to receive the truth, however
unpleasant, however opposed to their present opinions; and with a
resolution, not suddenly taken, but after mature and anxious
deliberation, and not formed in dependence upon themselves, but upon
Divine grace, to build their faith and practice on its holy doctrines and
precepts.  To all such, however, we would say, “This do, and ye shall
live:” let the time past of your lives suffice to have past in ignorance
or neglect of God’s gracious revelation to man; now delay not longer:
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand;” may the day-spring from on
high visit you, and the day-star arise in your hearts to give light to
you, who, whilst the beams of the Sun of Righteousness are shining around
you, are still lying in darkness and the shadow of death.  “Search the
Scriptures,” and learn from them, and not from the opinions and conduct
of men, what is the hope of the Christian calling; search the Scriptures,
and from them learn, that ye must repent or die eternally.

May the profane, the scoffer, and the sceptic, have the veil of darkness
removed from their understandings, by which “the god of this world hath
blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the
glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto
them.” {57a}  May they not be left in wilful blindness, until that
terrible day, when the enemies of the Lord shall find, to their
everlasting confusion, that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in
unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them;
for God hath shewed it unto them.  For the invisible things of Him from
the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the
things that are made, _even His eternal power and Godhead_: so that they
are without excuse: because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him
not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations,
and their foolish heart was darkened: professing themselves to be wise,
they became fools.”  May

    —“The gay, licentious, proud,
    Whom pleasure, power, and affluence surround,”

learn “how hardly shall they who have riches enter into the kingdom of
God!” {57b}  For they too often forget they are God’s stewards, and
accountable for all they possess.  The day will come when to all of them
will be addressed the command, “Give an account of thy stewardship;” and
how terrible will be their lot, should they, “having been unfaithful in
the unrighteous mammon,” lose “the true riches,”—treasure in heaven.  Our
Lord himself has said, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he
will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and
despise the other.  Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” {58a}  They,
therefore, who in their day of trial have forgotten that their rank or
affluence are so many talents, for which they are to give account to
their Master in heaven, must expect fearful retribution, unless, while
the day of grace remaineth, they obtain pardon and peace through their
long-neglected Lord.  Let them now learn that the friendship of the
world—whose smile they have courted, whose honours they have coveted,
whose pleasures they have enjoyed—“is enmity with God.”  “For all that is
in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the
pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world
passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God
abideth for ever.” {58b}  May the avaricious and the sensual, whose
grovelling, sordid, and impure minds, have not a thought, a wish, beyond
this earth, where they would willingly live for ever; see their sin and
folly before it be too late.  Let them hear the awful denunciations of
Scripture; and may that Scripture, through God’s grace, bring conviction
to their minds and repentance to their hearts.  “Go to now, ye rich men,
weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.  Your riches
are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten.  Your gold and silver is
cankered, and the rust of them shall be a witness against you; and shall
eat your flesh as it were fire: ye have heaped treasure together for the
last day.” {59a}  “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a
snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in
destruction and perdition.” {59b}  “Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as
strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the
soul.” {59c}  “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have
wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness,
lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable
idolatries.” {59d}  “Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because
of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of
disobedience.” {59e}  May those who now rise up early, and late take
rest, and eat the bread of carefulness, that they may increase their
worldly store, receive grace “to lay up treasure in heaven,” not
“trusting in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us
richly all things to enjoy:” {60a} and may those who, placing few or no
restraints upon the appetites and passions of their animal nature,
ardently pursue impure, debasing, and guilty pleasures, have their souls
so sanctified, through the power of the Holy Ghost, that, “cleansed from
all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear
of God,” {60b} they may desire only “the joys unspeakable, and full of
glory, which are at God’s right hand for evermore.”  And may the envious,
the censorious, and the malicious, who cherish in their hearts hostility
and malignity towards their fellows, acquire the spirit of Christian
charity!  For “charity _suffereth long and is kind_; _charity envieth
not_; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave
itself unseemly; seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, _thinketh
no evil_; _rejoiceth not in iniquity_, _but rejoiceth in the truth_.”
There exist no passions in the human breast, which in every age have
excited so much scorn and reprobation amongst generous and noble spirits
as envy and malice: there is a meanness in them which renders them
contemptible; there is a malignity which makes them detestable: the
virtuous heathen, therefore, viewed them with contemptuous indignation;
but the Christian must mourn over such bitter fruits of an unchristian
temper; he must admonish those who foster them, that these sins of the
heart, as more difficult to be repented of, are more likely to exclude
from heaven than the failings which they gloat upon with secret pleasure,
and publish with malicious satisfaction.  The sins of uncharitableness
cannot but be peculiarly odious in the sight of Him, whose religion
inculcates the purest and kindest spirit of brotherly love, and who has
made our forgiving our brother his trespasses, the ground of our asking
the forgiveness of our own.  We are, therefore, strongly and repeatedly
warned in Scripture against anger, envy, hatred, revenge, and malice;
whilst the opposite virtues are urged upon us with equal force of
exhortation and tenderness of entreaty.  “I, therefore, the prisoner of
the Lord, beseech you, that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye
are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering,
forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the
Spirit in the bond of peace.”  “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger,
and clamour, and evil-speaking, be put away from you, with all malice,
and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another,
even as God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven you.” {61}  Let such,
therefore, remembering that their only hope of forgiveness consists in
their obtaining grace to overcome their uncharitable temper and habits,
hear also and obey the similar admonition of another apostle: “Wherefore,
laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and
all evil-speaking; as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word,
that ye may grow thereby.” {62}

May all those who make a decided profession of religion, but whose heart
is not right before the Lord; the lukewarm, the self-righteous, and the
hypocritical; learn that God will never accept of a divided heart; that
He will never approve of a self-righteous spirit, and will never receive
the incense of feigned lips.  Hypocrisy must be peculiarly offensive, as
it is peculiarly insulting, to the Majesty of an omniscient and
omnipresent God.  That one of his creatures should dare to make His name
or service a cloak to cover his selfish and worldly views; should profess
a great reverence for Him, only to secure the applause, or procure the
assistance of men, is at once such a bold and impious fraud, as must
excite the displeasure, and call down the vengeance of an insulted and
offended Deity.  What! shall the weak and miserable creature who has been
graciously allowed to approach his great Creator, and “tell out his wants
and unburden his sorrows to Him in prayer,”—shall he pervert to his base
ends this high and holy privilege, and “make long prayers, that he may be
seen of men!”  Such a fearful profanation resembles that of Belshazzar,
when he used, at his unholy banquet, the sacred vessels taken from the
Temple at Jerusalem, and with them gave honour to his false gods. {63}
For the hypocrite, who worships in the sanctuary to advance his worldly
interest, is employing the holy ordinances of the Lord in the service of
Belial, who is his god.

It may be hoped that hypocrisy of this impious nature is rare; but
neither its criminality nor its extent are sufficiently regarded by men
in general.  For what, in reality, are all who make merely an outward
profession of religion? they are all hypocrites: they do not attend
religious worship to offer their sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to
their Preserver and Benefactor; but they pretend to do so; and perhaps
might consider themselves unjustly stigmatised, if the real cause of
their being in the courts of the Lord’s house was stated to be, either
regard for reputation, to set an example, general custom, or the force of
habit.  But if men go not to the house of prayer for worship—and those
who make merely an outward profession of religion cannot be sincere in
offering up any prayers—it remains that some other motive must have drawn
them there; and whatever that may be, as the real but not ostensible
motive, it stamps them as hypocrites.  There also are, it may be feared,
other hypocrites, of a very different description, who lay claim to more
religion than they possess; and, in the cause of the Lord of Hosts,
profess more zeal for His honour than they feel.  All such—more
especially if they assume a character of which they know themselves to be
totally unworthy, seeking to gratify their pride or advance their
interests; for then they are hypocrites of the worst description;—expose
themselves to the righteous displeasure of the Lord.  May men, therefore,
learn, that the profession of religion, without regard to its principles,
will, sooner or later, bring down upon them swift and sudden destruction;
for “the prayer of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord,” when
“they take the law of God into their mouths, but hate to be reformed in
their hearts.”  And whilst their principles must always correspond with
their profession, their practice must be in accordance with both.  The
repentance of the hypocrite is extremely difficult: he has profaned, to
his own ungodly purposes, all the means of grace; and sometimes, so
perfect becomes the delusion of lengthened deception, he almost believes
himself really to be the character he has falsely assumed.  Nothing but
Divine grace can rescue him from his alarming state; for he resembles one
who has himself poisoned the wholesome aliment intended for his
sustenance; still the Great Physician of souls is a sure refuge.  May he,
through Him, obtain mercy and pardon, and escape having “his portion with
the hypocrites, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Amongst the Pharisees it appears, from the severe reproofs our blessed
Lord directed against them, that both an hypocritical and self-righteous
spirit prevailed to a great extent.  Such will ever be the case where the
forms are substituted for the spirit of religion.  It will then quickly
degenerate into a number of lifeless observances, and the shadow of the
religion will remain whilst the substance will be lost.
Self-righteousness, in this day, rests nearly upon the same foundation as
in the time of our Saviour.  Amongst ourselves it is often built upon the
groundwork of regularity and strictness in religious observances, and of
belonging to a particular sect or party.  It is often characterised by an
appearance of much self-complacency and spiritual pride; still it is at
the same time distinguished generally by a correct standard of morals, a
due regard for decorum, and a strict attention to religious duties.
Alas! every one must lament that the spirit is wanting which will give
acceptability to these services in the sight of God: for “thus saith the
high and lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell
in the high and holy place; with him also that is of a contrite and
humble spirit; to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the
heart of the contrite ones.” {66a}  There exists not in the heart of man
a feeling more perfectly irreconcileable with his corrupt and fallen
nature, than spiritual pride.  In the first place, “who maketh thee to
differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?  Now
if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not
received it?” {66b}  And in the second, “Who can tell how oft he
offendeth?  O cleanse thou me from my secret faults!  Keep thy servant
also from presumptuous sins, lest they get the dominion over me: so shall
I be undefiled, and innocent from the great offence.” {66c}  One of the
first Christian virtues is humility; and he must be equally ignorant of
his own heart and of the spirit of the Gospel, who prides himself upon
his excellences, instead of lamenting his deficiencies.  A deep
consciousness of personal unworthiness; a fearful sense of his little
progress in holiness, in comparison with the advantages which have been
afforded to him; a humble thankfulness that God has enabled him to
advance some way in his Christian calling; and an entire dependence on
his Saviour for grace, for strength, and guidance, for the time to come,
generally characterize those most favoured servants of the Lord who have
reached the highest attainments in piety, and best served their
generation.  May the self-righteous receive grace “to learn of Him” who
was “meek and lowly of heart,” and then they will find present and
eternal “rest unto their souls.”

“How long halt ye between two opinions?” was the indignant enquiry
addressed to the Israelites by the Prophet Elijah: “If the Lord be God,
follow Him; if Baal, then follow him.” {67}  In every age there have been
too many lukewarm in religion, to whom the same enquiry might be
addressed, for there has ever been the same disposition to make a
compromise between God and Mammon.  They are unwilling to forfeit all
hope of the fair “inheritance of the saints in light;” they are afraid to
encounter the awful terrors of the blackness of darkness for ever; still
the world, with its seductive pleasured and engrossing cares, takes a
strong hold upon the heart, and is like a withering blight upon the
blossoms and fruit of genuine piety.

There is no vitality of religious principle, and no consistency of
religious conduct.  They profess the Gospel, it is true; but they are
desirous to accommodate it to their own views and wishes, that it may not
interfere with their worldly advantage, not interrupt their present
enjoyments.  But such a cold and calculating spirit, which appears ever
to ask, “How little can I do, and yet get to heaven?” has nothing in it
of the Gospel of Christ.  Our blessed Lord employs, in the Revelations,
terms expressive of the most contemptuous rejection of the works of the
Church of Laodicea, because it was “lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot.”
{68a}  The whole tenor of Scripture inculcates the duty of obedience to
“the first and great commandment”—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with
all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” {68b}  And
they can know little of the glorious and blessed privileges of the
children of God by adoption and grace, who do not habitually look up to
Him as “a reconciled Father in Christ Jesus our Lord;” who do not cry
with humble but firm and confiding faith, “Abba, Father;” and who do not
obey, with willing and joyful readiness, the command, “My Son, give me
thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.”  There is a necessary
union between adoption and grace, between grace and holiness, between
holiness and love: “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the
sons of God:” “Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that
the Spirit of God dwell in you:” “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,
peace.”  They, therefore, who do not manifest in their hearts and lives
those blessed proofs of the indwelling of the Spirit, renewed minds,
sanctified affections, and holy obedience, cannot be said to “walk after
the Spirit.”  “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none
of his:” he is “carnally minded;” and “to be carnally minded is death;”
“because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to
the law of God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the
flesh cannot please God.”

Oh, how does the faithful servant of the Lord mourn over the lukewarm in
religion, a class which may sometimes embrace those dearest to him on
earth—united to him by the closest ties of blood—by the sweetest bonds of
affection.  He feels for them, for he remembers the time when he had “set
his affections on things of earth:” He estimates fully the difficulties
they have to surmount, for he knows how hard it is to “set the affections
on things above.”  For this world invites us, through the medium of the
senses, with objects present, visible, and palpable; but it is only by
the power of abstraction, and through the medium of faith, we can even
contemplate the future invisible and unpalpable realities of a spiritual
world, whose rewards and joys are covered with a veil which revelation
has only raised so far as to show, that whilst their nature transcends
the power of human conception, their extent exceeds the limits of human
comprehension.  He fears, therefore, lest, bewildered by the false glare
of earthly attractions, they may never be able to fix the steady eye of
faith upon what human “eye hath not seen, nor hath it entered into the
heart of men to conceive;” he fears lest, still impelled forward in the
broad way of destruction by semblances of happiness, as alluring but as
illusive as the mirage of the desert, they may never enter upon the
narrow and often thorny path of life, which leads to the Zion of our God.

How earnestly, therefore, does he entreat them not longer to linger in
the outward courts, but to enter at once into the temple of our faith;
not longer to starve themselves with “the beggarly elements of the Law,”
to which they secretly cling, but to refresh and invigorate their souls
with the “rich mercies” of the Gospel dispensation, which supplies every
want, and satisfies every desire, when fully understood, firmly believed,
thankfully received, and implicitly obeyed.  For it is not generally that
they seek to escape the obligations to personal holiness, for they are
moral men: it is not that they wish to avoid the observances of religion,
for they are regular in their attendance on divine ordinances; but they
will not submit themselves to the sole guidance of that Holy Spirit which
can alone consecrate their prayers and sanctify their obedience.  Their
case is stated by St. Paul in a few words: they have “the form without
the power of godliness;” and being destitute of its power, they enjoy not
its present consolations,—they will possess not its future rewards,
unless, by the transforming influence of divine grace, they are enabled
to give their, at present, divided hearts to God.  A merely formal
profession of the Gospel never yet supplied comfort in the hour of
affliction—never cheered the sufferings of the bed of pain—never took
away the fear of death.  It may be, that when the understanding is
blinded, or the heart hardened, exhausted nature sometimes willingly
seeks relief from present suffering in death; but such is an awful sign
of spiritual insensibility.  When the conscience is fully awake, and the
mind, in full possession of its powers, is conscious of the rapid
approach of death; the Gospel of Christ alone has power to divest the
destroyer of his terrors by robbing him of his sting, and the grave of
its victory.  Still it is only a heartfelt profession of the Gospel, in
which the approval of the understanding, and the desire of the heart,
accompany the utterance of the lips, from which issue no lifeless words,
but the earnest prayer for mercy and forgiveness for faith and hope, for
sanctification and submission; which, proving that grace is employed in
its blessed and holy work of the soul’s renewal, supports and comforts in
that awful hour, when the soul is preparing to meet its God and Saviour.
Oh that this consideration may have its due weight to rouse the lukewarm
from their state of apathy!  Can they imagine that their languid and
lifeless services will be acceptable in the sight of that God, who is
Himself love, and whose motive, in offering them eternal life, is love?
Can they suppose their weak faith in the Saviour, their cold reception of
His inestimable blessings, will satisfy Him, who referred the ignominious
and painful death He endured to the greatness of His love,—“greater love
hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
{72}  If, in the various relations of social life, the little services of
affection are valued infinitely higher than the more costly benefits
which spring only from a cold sense of duty:—if the willing obedience,
the watchful attention, and the tender offices of love are prized, beyond
all comparison, above the forced submission, the reluctant compliance,
and the unwilling attendance of fear:—can we think for a moment that He,
who has admitted us to all the privileges of sonship, and has allowed us
to approach Him in the endearing character of children, and cry, Abba,
Father, will regard favourably the services which spring from slavish
fear, and not from filial love?  It might be thought that the
consideration of the infinite love of God towards man, and of the
precious benefits conferred upon us by the Saviour, would fill every soul
with gratitude and love: to think that weak, sinful, and guilty man,
should be elevated to so exalted a relation to God as that of son; to
remember that his title to his high dignity was purchased, by no less a
sacrifice than the atonement made by Him, who is the brightness of His
Father’s glory, and the express image of His person,—present to the mind
such an astounding, and yet transporting view, of “the length and
breadth, and depth and height,” of “the love of God, which passeth
knowledge,” that we are constrained to exclaim, “Such things are too
wonderful for me; I cannot attain unto them.”  And yet, they affect not,
they influence not, that large class of men, the lukewarm in religion!
God now calls them by “His judgments, which are in the earth,” to “turn
unto Him with all their heart.”  May they all receive grace, to obey the
call, and seek forgiveness at his hands; for there is impending over them
a most terrible curse—a curse which repentance only can avert.  “If any
love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” {73}

Let, then, all the several classes of men, who, as constituting the
leading divisions of those who believe not, or practise not, the truth as
it is in Christ Jesus our Lord—have been exhorted and warned “to flee
from the wrath to come,” be now earnestly intreated to imitate the
example of the Bereans of old, who “were more noble than those in
Thessalonica, _in that they received the Word with all readiness of
mind_, _and searched the Scriptures daily_, _whether those things were
so_.” {74a}

And may God accompany with his grace and blessing such study of the
Scriptures, that they who have heretofore neglected, perverted,
disobeyed, or rejected the Gospel, may, through “its marvellous light
become wise unto salvation!”

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good
works.” {74b}  In the “lively oracles of God,” therefore, they will find
instruction how to proceed in the difficult work of true repentance.  Let
them not, however, be dismayed at the difficulty of the undertaking, for
“He who worketh in them to will and to do of His good pleasure,” is ever
ready to succour and omnipotent to save, “all who come unto Him” through
Christ, “who is the way, the truth, and the life.”  Let them not fear the
power of the great adversary of man, whose galling yoke they long
willingly bore; “for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but
mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down
imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the
knowledge of God; and bringing into captivity every thought to the
obedience of Christ.” {75a}  Still, at the same time, let them underrate
neither the difficulties nor the dangers which await them.  Spiritual as
well as worldly prudence is shewn in rightly estimating difficulties,
that they may be the more certainly overcome; and real courage, whether
carnal or spiritual, in learning the extent of danger, that it may be, as
the case requires, carefully avoided, or manfully combated.

The prophet Jeremiah, to prove the difficulty of a late repentance, has
used a figure which places it in a strong light; “Can the Ethiopian
change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good that
are accustomed to do evil.” {75b}  The apostle Peter, to shew the extent
of danger to the Christian, employs a simile not less striking, “Your
adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may
devour.” {75c}  And St. Paul accumulates the most forcible expressions to
convey an adequate idea of the dangerous nature of our spiritual warfare,
“for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities,
against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against
spiritual wickedness in high places.” {75d}  It is most true, that when
the corruption of man’s nature has been increased in malignity by the
long indulgence of its sinful appetites and passions; when his habits
have become confirmed, inveterate, and almost second nature through time;
and when his severe master, the devil, seeing him planning rebellion
against his authority, and escape from his power, employs his subtle arts
to retain his dominion over him: we have a case in which unassisted human
nature must despair.  Passion is not tameable at the will of man,
appetite is not mortified at his bidding, habit is not overcome at his
command, the devil is not vanquished by his power.  On the contrary, they
all reign and rule in the heart of the unconverted, who have grown old in
sin: there passion is ungovernable, appetite irresistible, habit
invincible, the devil dominant and triumphant.

Well may every sinner start at this appalling picture of human weakness
and depravity, and well will it be for him, if, through grace, he be
thence led to exclaim—“Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me
from the body of this death!” {76a} and if he be enabled to apply to his
own case the answer, I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  “With
man it is impossible” to escape from the debasing and enslaving effects
of sin, “but with God all things are possible;” {76b} and “thanks be to
God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus.” {77a}

Through Him who loved us and gave Himself for us, we shall prove more
than conquerors over the great enemies of our salvation.  By the
transforming power of divine grace the will becomes renewed, the passions
subjugated, the appetites mortified, the habits changed; and the devil
vanquished by the great Captain of our salvation, loses his dominion over
the sanctified soul.  Such is the mighty change wrought in fallen and
sinful man, when grace has done her perfect work; and “renewed in the
spirit of his mind,” he both “proves what is the good and perfect and
acceptable will of God,” and “presents his body a living sacrifice, holy
and acceptable unto God.” {77b}

“REPENT YE, THEREFORE, AND BE CONVERTED, THAT YOUR SINS MAY BE BLOTTED
OUT, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the
Lord.” {77c}  Repent ye, who have heretofore put conviction far from you,
and have refused to receive the Gospel as your standard of faith, your
sole rule of life.  It may be, that to you, “behold now is the accepted
time, behold now is the day of salvation;” it may be, that if ye will not
hear His voice, but still harden your hearts, upon you may be passed the
terrible and irrevocable sentence—“it is a people that do err in their
hearts; for they have not known my ways; unto whom I sware in my wrath,
that they should not enter into my rest.” {78}

“GO THY WAY FOR THIS TIME, WHEN I HAVE A CONVENIENT SEASON I WILL CALL
FOR THEE;” was the language of Felix, when he “_trembled_,” as Paul
“reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come.”  And such
is the course adopted by thousands; they do not violently repress the
convictions of conscience; but endeavour to lull them by that “deceitful
opiate—good resolves.”  NOT NOW, is still the cry, when conscience warns
them; not now, to-morrow, next year,—and thus repentance determined upon,
but still deferred, flits before them like the treacherous light which
often misleads unwary travellers, and lures them on with false hopes,
until they plunge into the black gulf of horrible anguish and despair.

This insane procrastination, which is so common and so fatal, that it has
been said, “hell’s road is paved with good resolutions,” arises
principally from man’s natural wickedness, indolence, sinfulness, and
love of sin; but it is much promoted by mistaken ideas as to the nature
of repentance, which, by some, is considered at all times in their own
power.  This fatal error—the grand cause of which is ignorance of
Scripture—is much favoured by the various senses in which the term
repentance is employed: it is used to express simply sorrow, sorrow and
amendment, change of heart and life.  Now this latter sense exactly
corresponds with conversion, and the evil might, in some degree, be
remedied, if there were adopted, in the case of habitual sinners, the
definition of repentance given by Hammond: “A change of mind, or a
conversion from sin to God; not some one bare act of change, but a
lasting, durable state of new life.”  For men would have a difficulty in
resting satisfied with indefinitely postponing repentance, if they knew
that repentance to consist not merely in sorrow for sin, not merely in
external amendment, but in a change of the heart, in a renewal of the
mind, wrought by the Holy Ghost, and which man possesses no inherent
power to effect, but which is the gift of God through Christ.

REPENT YE, THEREFORE, AND BE CONVERTED, THAT YOUR SINS MAY BE BLOTTED
OUT: all who have heretofore drawn your motives and rules of actions from
the world, and not from the Book of Life—and as you value your immortal
souls, consider no proofs of conversion to be depended upon, except faith
in the Saviour, and reliance on His merits alone for salvation; love of
God as a reconciled father in Christ Jesus our Lord, shed abroad in the
heart by the power of the Holy Ghost; constant study of the Scriptures as
the rule of life; indulgence of no known sin; and dependence on divine
grace for spiritual guidance, strength, and consolation.  Such an entire
conversion of the whole man to God is generally not only a progressive,
but a slow operation: during which partial relapses into old habits,
which conscience soon compels them to abandon;—unscriptural views of
reconciliation with God, in which the soul cannot rest satisfied;—and
artful stratagems of the great enemy of man to win them back to wear
publicly their badge of servitude, or retain them in the camp of the
faithful, as in reality, though unknowingly, his deluded and secret
followers;—all impede, perplex, and endanger their course.

As the heart only knows its own bitterness, so each believer only knows
the mode of God’s dealing with him in bringing him to a knowledge of the
truth as it is in Jesus. {80}  But the following sketch may be received
as presenting the outlines of a sincere conversion; and may the future
experience of those who are now earnestly and affectionately entreated to
“turn unto God with all their hearts,” fill up the details.  The
conscience is first troubled through the grace of God accompanying some
strong appeal; fear is excited; an examination is made into the state of
life, and the awful truth flashes upon the mind, that he is in “the broad
way which leadeth to destruction,” and “what is a man profited, if he
shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul.” {81a}  He now,
perhaps, attempts to appease his conscience by a compromise, by
reforming, in part, his life, but retaining his darling sins; this unholy
alliance between Christ and Belial may not be, and he is ill at ease.  He
examines, therefore, more carefully the word of life, and feels satisfied
he merits only eternal condemnation at the hand of a righteous God.  His
alarm becomes terror, and he sets to work in good earnest to effect an
entire reformation of life, but too much in dependence on his own
strength.  He fails, and again and again is betrayed into his old sins,
through the weakness of his nature, the power of temptation, and the want
of spiritual strength.  The repeated failures at length convince him of
his own weakness and utter helplessness, and he begins to distrust
himself, and trust more and more in his Saviour.  The dark prospect now
begins to brighten by the dawning of a better day, and slowly the sun of
righteousness rising upon his soul, dispels the mists of error,
prejudice, and passion, and reveals the Saviour as “THE WAY, THE TRUTH,
AND THE LIFE.” {81b}  He sees his road more clearly, he better
understands how God “made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we
might be made the righteousness of God in Him,” {81c} and joyfully
accepts the free, unmerited, and most gracious offers of salvation made
in Christ Jesus our Lord, through whom, “being justified by faith, we
have peace with God.” {82a}  He increases in faith, he rejoices in his
privileges, he grows in grace, but he is still watchful and sober-minded:
whilst he throws himself entirely on the mercy of God in Christ in whom
we are “complete;” and relies on Him for His “grace, which is sufficient
for us, for it is made perfect in weakness;” {82b} he remits not his
vigilance, he relaxes not his endeavours, but “forgetting those things
which are behind, and reaching forth unto those which are before, he
presses toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in
Christ Jesus.” {82c}  He earnestly prays and labours to be enabled to
adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things; to perfect holiness
in his faith and fear, and to have his conversation in heaven, from
whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: “who shall
change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious
body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all
things unto Himself.” {82d}

The combat which awaits the young convert is severe, but not alarming, if
he take the whole armour of God; “Wherefore take unto you the whole
armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and
having done all, to stand.  Stand, therefore, having your loins girt
about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and
your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; above all,
taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the
fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the
sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all
prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all
perseverance.”

Clad in the full panoply of the Gospel, the Christian warrior has nothing
to dread: for his armour is of heavenly temper; the arm of Omnipotence
sustains him; and the glorious shield of the Saviour “will cover his head
in the day of battle.”  But if the danger appear slight, let him not
presume; if appalling, let him not despair; excessive confidence often
risks, and despondence often loses, the battle won by undaunted, but cool
and cautious courage: and of such a nature is Christian faith, by which
the soldier of the cross is enabled to fulfil his baptismal vow, “not to
be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to
fight under His banner, against sin, the world, and the devil, and to
continue Christ’s faithful soldier and servant unto his life’s end.” {83}

Let not, therefore, the penitent suppose the dangers and difficulties
which await him to be so great as almost to be insuperable; nor yet that
they are so small as to be easily overcome: it is sufficient for him to
know, that that Master whom he serves, and who appoints his lot, will, if
he commit himself to Him as a faithful Creator, supply him with strength
equal to his trials, and make those trials help him forward on his
heaven-ward journey.  Upon setting out, however, let him be admonished,
that there are three things which he ought to bear in mind.

First: let him not mistake transient feelings for settled principles, nor
partial amendment for complete reformation: the sanguine sometimes,
through natural temperament, are unduly elated; the desponding, through
the same cause, unduly depressed; and thus both form false estimates as
to the degree of their advancement in spiritual life.  Whilst it also
sometimes unfortunately happens, that after the first terrors of awakened
conscience pass away, the fervours of devotional feeling subside, and
there ensue listlessness, negligence, and a return to former evil
courses: “he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he
that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not
root in himself, but dureth for a while.” {84}  Let him, in the second
place, be especially on his guard against partial or perverted views of
the doctrines and duties of our holy faith: some, because we are saved
through faith in the merits of the Saviour, have abused the grace of God,
by an unholy profession, or have under-rated the value of Christian
graces and virtues; and others, because of the obligations to personal
holiness, and of the rewards held out to faithful servants, in the
Gospel, have depreciated the value of faith, and have reduced the great
scheme of salvation to little more than a moral obedience.  And lastly,
let him take care, that when, through divine grace, he has surmounted the
difficulties which attend his first entrance upon the “narrow way which
leadeth unto life;” and his ardent and confident spirit is full of eager
anticipation of the eternal rest and peace which await him on his arrival
at the “city of the Living God,” {85} whose fair bulwarks the eye of
faith may already have descried at an immense distance; let him “be not
high-minded, but fear:” enemies, though invisible, still surround him;
dangers, though hidden, still lurk in his path.  Should, on the other
hand, the journey prove toilsome, and his spirit be often perplexed with
doubts, and alarmed with fears; should no distant prospect of the
mansions of eternal rest break upon his enraptured view, solace his weary
soul, and brighten his cheerless path: let him not be dismayed, but hope:
a “friend that sticketh closer than a brother,” {86a} though unseen, is
near; the city of refuge, though undiscoverable by his anxious eye, is
nigh at hand.  If, in the first case, he “persevere unto the end;” if, in
the second, “he faint not;” he will reap an “eternal and exceeding weight
of glory;” {86b} for, on his approach, the bright portals of the new
Jerusalem shall be thrown open, and he will be welcomed by the Celestial
King, with the transporting words, “Well done, thou good and faithful
servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” {86c}



II.  The Christian’s duty of labouring to advance, as far as in him lies,
a national reformation, under Divine visitations.


The duty _of personal reformation_ under Divine visitations, has been
dwelt upon at considerable length; at once from its private and public
importance: for it is thus only a national reformation can be effected.
The good Christian will ever discharge equally faithfully all the duties
and obligations which attach to him as an individual and as a member of
society.  Little is he acquainted with the Catholic spirit and scope of
Christianity, who supposes the believer to be occupied solely in securing
his own salvation.  Such conduct would defeat its own purpose, as being
incompatible with the very nature of Christian duty; which is not limited
to the individual, his family, his friends, his neighbourhood, nor yet to
his country, but extends to the whole household of faith; to the great
family of Christ; to the whole world for which the Saviour died, and in
which all should labour to promote the advancement of true religion.
Whilst, therefore, the Christian is striving in secret, by means known
only to God and to himself, to “enter in at the strait gate,” “to make
his calling and election sure;” he considers it an imperative obligation,
the neglect of which would involve certain condemnation, to “labour to
advance the glory of God, and the present and future welfare of mankind.”
If, then, the command, “let your light so shine before men, that they may
see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” {87a}
is to be obeyed under ordinary circumstances; when “GOD’S JUDGMENTS ARE
IN THE EARTH,” extraordinary exertions must be made in the hope that,
through the Divine blessing, “THE INHABITANTS OF THE WORLD WILL LEARN
RIGHTEOUSNESS.” {87b}  Oh! what extensive and blessed effects would arise
if this holy principle of our faith were more generally acted upon
amongst Christians; and all, at the same time, “walked worthy of the
vocation wherewith they are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with
long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the
unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” {88a}  God grant that in times
which require such perfect union and co-operation amongst Christians,
they may receive grace to lay aside their rivalries, their divisions,
their jealousies; and as there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one
God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all;”
{88b} so they may seek but one object, the extension of the Messiah’s
kingdom; they may employ but one means; the diffusion of the light of the
Gospel; and they may know but one spirit, the spirit of charity and
brotherly love.

Let then all Christians be now very zealous for the honour of the Lord of
Hosts, and direct their combined efforts against the prevailing sins of
the day.  True believers “are the salt of the earth;” and the more
abundantly they are sprinkled over the land, the more effectually the
corrupting effects of sin will be counteracted: they are the “leaven” of
the Gospel; and the more thoroughly they are diffused through the whole
mass of society, the more certainly a national reformation will be
produced.

How great is the improvement which an active and pious individual
sometimes effects in a neighbourhood!—an improvement which, commencing in
one place, often spreads far around.  How extensive then might be the
blessed effects of the true servants of God acting in full and unanimous
co-operation!—General alarm has caused much good to be done, in cleansing
the towns and villages of the kingdom from physical pollutions; let there
be shown the same zeal and energy in the removal of moral pollutions, so
much more pernicious and fatal, as being destructive of both body and
soul.  And then this visitation “shall turn” out—as does every
visitation, when duly improved—“to the profit, and help forward in the
right way that leadeth unto everlasting life,” {89a} thousands who might
long have continued in a thoughtless and guilty neglect of God.  For how
beneficial has the furnace of affliction been often found! it is a
certain assayer of religious principles; it detects the base coinage of
the world, which bears indeed the Divine superscription, but is neither
formed of the pure ore of the Gospel, nor stamped with the seal of the
Spirit; and proves the intrinsic value of the unadulterated metal of the
heavenly treasury which “cometh forth as gold.” {89b}

The leading heads of the duty of believers, as members of society, under
circumstances like the present, have already been thus generally stated:
let them publicly bear testimony at once to the justice and mercy of
God’s dispensations; and strive earnestly to rouse the nation to a sense
of its guiltiness, which has exposed it to the divine displeasure: let
them, in dependence on the blessing of Heaven, labour to eradicate all
infidel and heretical opinions; to advance a reformation of public
morals, and to promote a general diffusion of true religion, sound
learning, and useful knowledge.  Upon these several heads it is proposed
now to offer some brief observations: And may HE, who blesses the
feeblest efforts made in dependence on His gracious aid, and for the
honour of His great name, bless this humble endeavour to rouse some to a
more active and faithful discharge of the duties of their stations; and
to excite in others a spirit of enquiry, and draw forth from them a
declaration of opinion, as to the course which this Christian people
should adopt under the present Divine visitation.  England has been long
highly favoured and greatly blessed; she has been placed as an ensign
amongst the nations, and as a city set on a hill; she has been a
depositary of genuine Christianity, and has been instrumental, in the
hands of Providence, in conveying the light of the Gospel to nations
“lying in darkness and the shadow of death.”  To her may our blessed
Lord’s pathetic lamentation over Jerusalem never apply: “And when he was
come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying; if thou hadst
known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto
thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes:” {91a} rather, in this
our day, may “the Father of Lights,” {91b} from whom “every good gift,
and every perfect gift cometh,” impart to all that are in authority, “the
spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” {91c}  Rather,
may He enable all persons to “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as
wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil;—to be not unwise,
but understanding what the will of the Lord is;—giving thanks always for
all things unto God and the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
submitting themselves one to another in the fear of God.” {91d}  Then may
the storm now gathering, prove at once a punishment and a blessing from
the hand of God.  Seasons of danger and suffering to churches and nations
have often resembled the storms of the natural world, which, however
alarming and destructive at the time, are productive of subsequent good,
by freeing the atmosphere from the impurities accumulated during a long
season of calm and sunshine.

“What will ye do in the day of visitation and in the desolation which
shall come from far, to whom will ye flee for help?”  Such is the enquiry
which has been already addressed to the nation at large; to real, and to
nominal Christians; let the faithful servants of the Lord throughout the
land cause it to be sounded in the ears of a sinful nation; and let each
use the utmost extent of his individual influence, in co-operation with
others, to endeavour to rouse, through the Divine blessing and guidance,
a people sunk into religious indifference and apathy.  They are
“visited,” and that not “after the visitation of all men;” for a
pestilence as new in character, as fatal in its effects, has overtaken
them; and their visitation has indeed come from far, for it has travelled
from the remote bounds of their colonial empire.  Still we have too much
cause to apprehend that there are thousands who have never considered the
awful character of the visitation, nor asked themselves the question, to
whom shall we flee for help?

An irreligious age is little inclined to recognise the hand of God in the
course of events, which are generally ascribed to natural causes and
human means.  But philosophy as well as Revelation will satisfy the mind
of every impartial and deep enquirer, that nature must work under the
control and direction of the great Author of nature.  It would be to
practically deny that God was the great governor of the universe, to
suppose that nature or chance was allowed, unchecked and unguided, to
produce the mighty results often referred to its sole agency.  Sherlock
has stated this with great force and clearness.  “The same wisdom and
power which made the world must govern it too: it is only a creating
power that can preserve: that which owes its very being to power must
depend upon the power that made it, for it can have no principle of
self-subsistence independent of its cause: it is only creating wisdom
that perfectly understands the nature of all things, that sees all the
springs of motion, that can correct the errors of nature, that can
suspend or direct the influence of natural causes, that can govern
hearts, change men’s purposes, inspire wisdom and counsel, restrain or
let loose their passions.  It is only an Infinite Mind that can take care
of all the world; that can allot every creature its portion; that can
adjust the interests of states and kingdoms; that can bring good out of
evil, and order out of confusion.” {93}  It would, therefore, be not less
unphilosophical than unchristian to ascribe to any spontaneous operations
of nature, a new and terrible pestilence, which has swept away more than
twenty millions of human beings from the face of the earth.  Nor may it
be accounted for by an extraordinary combination of accidental
circumstances; for “the most unexpected events, how casual soever they
appear to us, are foreseen and ordered by God.”  “For can we think
otherwise, when we see as many visible marks of wisdom, and goodness, and
justice, in what we call chance, as in any other acts of Providence?
Nay, when the wisdom of Providence is principally seen in the government
of fortuitous events?  When we see a world wisely made, though we did not
see it made, yet we conclude, that it was not made by chance, but by a
Wise Being; and by the same reason, when we see accidental events, nay, a
long incoherent series of accidents concur to the producing the most
admirable effects, we ought to conclude, that there is a wise invisible
hand which governs chance, which of itself can do nothing wisely.  When
the lives and fortunes of men, the fate of kingdoms and empires, the
successes of war, the changes of government are so often determined and
brought about by the most visible accidents; when chance defeats the
wisest counsels and greatest power; when good men are rewarded, and the
Church of God preserved by appearing chances; when bad men are punished
by chance, and the very chance whereby they are punished, carries the
marks of their sins upon it, for which they are punished; I say, can any
man in such cases think that all this is mere chance?  When, how
accidental soever the means are or appear to be, whereby such things are
done, there is no appearance of chance at all in the event; but the
changes and revolutions, the rewards and punishments, are all as wisely
done, as if there had been nothing of chance and accident in it.  This is
the great security of our lives amidst all the uncertainties of fortune,
that chance itself cannot hurt us without a Divine commission.  This is a
sure foundation of faith, and hope, and trust in God; how calamitous and
desperate soever our external condition seems to be, that God never wants
means to help; that He has a thousand unseen ways, a whole army of
accidents and unexpected events at command to disappoint such designs,
which no visible art or power can disappoint, and to save those whom no
visible power can save.” {95}  Nor may we suppose that this fearful
pestilence is merely permitted, and not appointed and directed by God.
“God’s government of events consists in ordering and appointing whatever
good or evil shall befall men; for according to the Scripture we must
attribute such a government to God, as makes all these events _His will
and doing_; and nothing can be His will and doing, but what He wills and
orders.  Some men think it enough to say, that God permits every thing
that is done, but will by no means allow that God wills, and orders, and
appoints it, which, they are afraid, will charge the divine Providence
with all the evil that is done in the world; and truly so it would, did
God order and appoint the evil to be done; but though God orders and
appoints what evils every man shall suffer, He orders and appoints no man
to do the evil; He only permits some men to do mischief, and appoints who
shall suffer by it, which is the short resolution of the case.  To
attribute the evils which some men suffer, merely to God’s permission, is
to destroy the government of Providence; for bare permission is not
government.” {96}  We arrive, therefore, at the conclusion, that this
malady, which has traversed nearly the whole of two continents, is by the
will and appointment of God.  And none need inquire wherefore it has been
sent.  The dispensations of the Almighty are to reward or punish, warn
and amend nations and individuals.  The fearful character of the
pestilence proves that it is to punish and warn the offending nations,
and may it also amend and lead them, through the grace of God, to humble
themselves under His mighty hand, and bow with submission to His just
judgments on a guilty world!

It is, therefore, the bounden duty of the servants of the Lord, every
where, privately and publicly, to bear testimony to God’s government of
nations and individuals.  It is not sufficient that they believe, act
upon, and inculcate in their families, a trust in Divine Providence.  The
great truth, that “THE MOST HIGH RULETH IN THE KINGDOM OF MEN,” {97a}
should be bound “for a sign on their heads, and as frontlets between
their eyes.” {97b}  They should proclaim every where, that upon this
great fundamental principle, rest the prayer and worship addressed to
God.—“This much is certain,” observes Sherlock, “that without this
belief, that God takes a particular care of all his creatures, in the
government of all events that can happen to them, there is no reason nor
pretence for most of the particular duties of public worship.  For most
of the acts of worship consider God not merely as an Universal Cause,
(could we form any notion of a general providence, without any care of
particular creatures, or particular events), but as our particular
Patron, Protector, and Preserver.

“To fear God, and to stand in awe of His justice; to trust and depend on
Him in all conditions; to submit patiently to His will, under all
afflictions; to pray to Him for the supply of all our wants, for the
relief of our sufferings, for protection and defence; to love and praise
Him for the blessings we enjoy, for peace, and plenty, and health, for
friends and benefactors, and all prosperous successes: I say, these are
not the acts of reasonable men, unless they believe that God has the
supreme disposal of all events, and takes a particular care of us.  For
if any good or evil can befall us without God’s particular order and
appointment, we have no reason to trust in God, who does not always take
care of us; we have no reason to bear our sufferings patiently at God’s
hand, and in submission to His will; for we know not whether our
sufferings be God’s will or not; we have no reason to love and praise God
for every blessing and deliverance we receive, because we know not
whether it come from God; and it is to no purpose to pray to God for
particular blessings, if He does not concern Himself in particular
events; but if we believe that God takes a particular care of us all, and
that no good or evil happens to us but as He pleases; all these acts of
religious worship are both reasonable, necessary, and just.” {98}

The great duty of believers every where to declare and maintain, that
“GOD GOVERNETH ALL THINGS BOTH IN HEAVEN AND EARTH,” is dwelt upon more
at large, because a neglect,—if not a disbelief,—of a particular
Providence, which constitutes practical, and often tends to avowed
infidelity, has been already stated to be one of the most crying sins,—I
may almost say the most crying sin—of the day.  Some openly disclaim all
belief in God’s government of the world; others admit it, but are not
influenced by it; and others acknowledge a general, but deny a particular
Providence.  These latter appear not to be aware of the manifest
contradiction which their belief involves.  “To talk of a general
Providence without God’s care and government of every particular creature
is manifestly unreasonable and absurd; for, whatever reasons oblige us to
own a Providence, oblige us to own a particular Providence.  If creation
be a reason, why God should preserve and take care of what He has made;
this is a reason why He should take care of every creature, because there
is no creature, but what He made; and if the whole world consist of
particulars, it must be taken care of in the care of particulars; for if
all particulars perish, as they may do, if no care be taken to preserve
them, the whole must perish.  And there is the same reason for the
government of mankind; for the whole is governed in the government of
parts; and mankind cannot be well governed without the wise government of
every particular man.” {99}

We may hope that secret disbelief, or open denial, of a Divine
Providence, does not exist to a great extent; but of this every observer
must be satisfied, that a practical disregard of God’s providential care
and government is gaining ground in this country.  Nor are its effects to
be seen only in the conduct of individuals, they may be observed in the
proceedings of public bodies.  Nothing can bespeak this more strongly,
than the altered language of the day as regards society, business, and
public transactions.

The time was when it was carefully framed in accordance with the
apostolic injunction, “for that ye ought to say IF THE LORD WILL, we
shall live and do this or that.” {100}  Now it is evidently dictated by
that bold spirit of self-confidence, which “having not God in all its
thoughts,” says “to-day or to-morrow _we will go_ into such a city, and
continue there a year, and buy and sell and get gain.”  Nor do the
actions of men in their public and private capacities contradict their
language.  The time was, when this nation, sensible how highly it had
been blessed by Providence, and deeply grateful to the Giver of all good,
made it a rule to recognise the hand of God in all things.  When His
chastisements were upon the land, there was a fast; when deliverance was
vouchsafed, there was a thanksgiving; every visitation was received as a
just infliction; every escape as an unmerited blessing.  Such was the
conduct of the people and government, during their late struggle of
unexampled difficulty, through which the Providence of the Almighty
carried them in safety, and during which the soil of England alone was
untrodden by the foot of the invader, unstained by the blood of her sons.

Let, then, all the faithful servants of God, who believe in the
government and confide in the protection of His Providence, “be instant
in season and out of season,” to counteract this evil principle which
corrupts, paralyzes, and nullifies faith; which produces pride,
self-confidence, and self-complacency; and exposes to the severe
displeasure and heavy judgments of Him whom it “robbeth of the honour due
unto His name.”  History, viewed by the aid of that light which
revelation has shed upon it, proves this incontestably, by supplying both
individual and national examples, with the latter of which we are, at
present, alone concerned.

All nations are under the government of the King of kings and Lord of
lords.  “His kingdom ruleth over all;” all are instruments in His hand to
accomplish the secret purpose of His will.  They may be rebellious and
disobedient, but they cannot harden themselves against God and prosper.
He exhorts and warns, He threatens and visits; but if they go on still in
their wickedness, they soon fill up the measure of their iniquity; the
messenger of justice speeds forth, the sentence is delivered, and they
cease to be a nation.  It is thus great empires in succession have passed
away; human reason discovers in their rise, their progress, their decay,
and their destruction, nothing more than the ordinary operation of
natural causes; revelation raises the veil which envelopes the records of
remote antiquity, and discovers the workings of a Divine agency, by which
Providence overrules the selfish and short-sighted policy of man, to the
development of the mighty and mysterious plans which embrace the
government of the world.  And that blind and presumptuous man may have no
ground to suppose, that the fate of empires is dependent solely upon
human causes, the overthrow of the guilty nations of antiquity, by the
Divine command, was foretold, and exactly fulfilled.  Hence we may learn
the sudden and swift destruction, which neglect of Providence, disregard
of the authority, and disobedience to the commands of Him, who has said,
“I am the Lord, I change not,” {102} will, at last, bring upon any
Christian nation, which long continues to refuse the overtures of pardon
and reconciliation, made by a gracious, a merciful, and long-suffering
God.  Predicted destruction overtook the Assyrian and Babylonian empires;
and the final desolation of their capitals was foretold.  The book of the
prophet Nahum opens with “the burden of Nineveh,” which abounds with the
most powerful descriptions of the terrible overthrow of the Assyrian
empire, and the utter desolation of its vast and splendid capital.
Zephaniah looks still further into futurity, and presents a sad but
faithful picture of its final doom.  “THE LORD WILL BE TERRIBLE UNTO
THEM:”—“_And he will stretch out his hand __against the north_, _and
destroy Assyria_; _and will make Nineveh a desolation_, _and dry like the
wilderness_.  And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, all the
beasts of the nations; both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in
the upper lintels of it: their voice shall sing in the windows,
desolation shall be in the thresholds; for He shall uncover the
cedar-work.  This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said
in her heart, _I am_, _and there is none beside me_: how is she become a
desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in; every one that passeth by
her shall hiss and wag his head.” {103a}  So literally have these
striking images of entire and lonely desolation been fulfilled, that in
the second century, the very site of the once proud and famous capital of
the Assyrian empire was matter of dispute.  And as the ruin of Babylon
was equally complete, so the language of prophecy is equally clear and
descriptive of its entire destruction, “O thou that dwellest upon many
waters, abundant in treasures, thy end is come and the measure of thy
covetousness.  Though Babylon should mount up to heaven, and though she
should fortify the height of her strength, _yet from_ ME _shall spoilers
come unto her_, _saith the Lord_.  Oh Lord, thou hast spoken against this
place to cut it off, that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast,
but that it shall be desolate for ever.” {103b}

Nor was the fate of these empires and cities alone foretold: the long
degradation of Egypt, which has been so exactly fulfilled, was predicted:
“it shall be the basest of the kingdoms, neither shall it exalt itself
any more above the nations: FOR I WILL DIMINISH THEM, THAT THEY SHALL NO
MORE RULE OVER THE NATIONS.” {104a}  The evils impending over rich and
proud Tyre, whilst still in the plenitude of her power and greatness were
announced by Isaiah in terms very applicable to that great emporium of
commerce: “Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days?
her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn.  Who hath taken this
counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes,
whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth?  THE LORD OF HOSTS
HATH PURPOSED IT, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into
contempt all the honourable of the earth.  HE _stretched out His hand
over the sea_; HE _shook the kingdoms_: _the_ LORD _hath given a
commandment against the merchant city_, _to destroy the strong holds
thereof_.” {104b}  But it was reserved for Ezekiel to foretell the full
extent of the fearful ruin which was to overtake this renowned city: and
he has done so, in terms so brief, and yet so minutely descriptive of its
present state, as to have excited the observation of all modern
travellers: “_it shall __be a place for the spreading of nets in the
midst of the sea_, FOR I HAVE SPOKEN IT, SAITH THE LORD GOD: and it shall
become a spoil to the nations.” {105a}  “I WILL MAKE _thee like the top
of a rock_: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon, thou shalt be
built no more; for I the Lord have spoken it, saith the Lord God.” {105b}
Thus, when Maundrell visited the ruins of Tyre, he found “its present
inhabitants to be a few wretches, subsisting chiefly by fishing, who seem
to be preserved in this place by Divine Providence, as a visible argument
how God has fulfilled His word concerning Tyre.”

Nor were the predictive denunciations of Divine vengeance upon sinful
nations, confined to times of a very remote antiquity:—the prophet’s eye
glancing through the long vista of coming years, foresaw, and his voice
foretold, the empire which the Ruler of the destiny of nations had
decreed to Greece and Rome.  But there is a people which remain unto this
day, at once a living testimony to the truth of Divine revelation, and a
living monument of the certainty of Divine punishment.  From the Jews
this country may draw a very instructive lesson; for there are some
striking points of agreement in their earlier history, and would that
there the parallel might stop!  The Jews were the peculiar people of
God.—“Thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God: _the Lord thy God
hath chosen thee_ to be a special people unto Himself, above all people
that are on the face of the earth:” this kingdom has also long enjoyed an
extraordinary degree of favour, protection, and blessing, at the hand of
God.  “The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, _because
ye were more in number than any people_, _for_ ye were the fewest of all
people: in like manner the population of this country was small in
comparison with that of many of the surrounding nations.  The Jews were
selected that unto them might be “committed the oracles of God:” so also
this country appears to have been appointed, by Providence, to preserve
the holy Scriptures from misinterpretation or perversion.  The Jews were
employed to convey to the Gentiles some knowledge of the one true God: in
like manner this country appears to have been raised up to diffuse
amongst distant nations the light of the Gospel.  When grateful for
Divine blessings, mindful of the Divine government, and obedient to the
Divine laws, the Jews were abundantly blessed, and their wealth and
greatness were far more than commensurate with the extent of their
territory; and the resources of the kingdom: in like manner God has
elevated this country to a rank amongst the nations to which her native
dominions did not justify her aspiring.  He has enriched her with the
treasures of the world, and has invested her with an empire upon which
the sun never sets.  So far the points of agreement are striking on the
bright side of the picture of Jewish history; but there is also a dark
side; let that also be examined, to see if there can be discovered any
shades of resemblance.  The Jews were thus exhorted and warned:—“When
thou hast eaten and art full, _then thou shalt bless_ THE LORD THY GOD,
for the good land which HE HAS GIVEN THEE.  Beware that thou forget not
the Lord thy God, in not keeping His commandments, and His judgments, and
His statutes, which I command thee this day: lest when thou hast eaten
and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein: and when
thy herds and thy flocks multiply; and thy silver and thy gold is
multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied: _then thine heart be
lifted up_, _and thou forget the_ LORD THY GOD,—_and thou say in thine
heart_, _my power and the might of my hand hath gotten me this wealth_.
_But thou shalt remember the_ LORD THY GOD, _for it is_ HE THAT GIVETH
THEE POWER _to get wealth_.  And it shall be if thou do at all forget the
Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship
them, I testify against you this day that _ye shall surely perish_.”
{107}  Nor were they left in ignorance as to what would be the ministers
of Divine vengeance; unfruitful seasons; and deadly pestilence; and
foreign invasion, with its fearful attendants, the slaughter of the
inhabitants, and the devastation of their land, were all declared to be
instruments, in God’s hand, to punish His ungrateful and rebellious
people.  Nor did the fearful enumeration of judicial inflictions stop
there; they were forewarned of lengthened sieges, of the most frightful
extremity of famine, of long and weary captivity in distant lands.  Still
there was reserved for them,—if they would not know their day of
visitation,—a heavier, a more lasting and more terrible punishment.  “THE
LORD _shall scatter thee among all people_, from the one end of the earth
even unto the other.”  “_And thou shalt become an astonishment_, _a
proverb_, _and a by-word among all nations_, _whither the Lord shall lead
thee_.” {108}

The literal fulfilment of this prediction is matter of history;—nay,
more, the accomplishment of the last and most terrible threat is matter
of present experience; we have, unto this day, the Jews scattered amongst
all people, distinct in religion, polity, and customs; unmingled with the
population, unincorporated in the institutions of the nations amongst
whom they sojourn: we see them a byword, a proverb, and an astonishment,
in every land: and can it be that we do not discover in them a living
memorial of the Divine government of the world, and of the Divine
justice, which sooner or later overtakes every nation, which does not
recognise God’s authority in all things, and study to obey His laws.  The
condition of the Jew speaks to the Christian the language of warning and
admonition: “you possess privileges I once enjoyed: I forfeited them by
trusting to my own right arm, by forsaking God, by not knowing the day of
my visitation: take heed lest ye come into the same state of
condemnation; for it is God who ruleth in Jacob, and unto the end of the
world.”

Let not the warning be addressed in vain: there are fearful points of
resemblance between this country and the Jews in the darker side of their
national character, when the chosen people of the Lord.  We are too much
disposed “to say in our hearts, my power, and the might of my hand, hath
gotten me this wealth:” and there is a love of the world, which falls
little short of idolatry;—there is a trusting to fortune, and an
ascribing events to chance and natural causes, which almost amount to
deifying fortune and nature.  Let, then, all the true servants of God, by
their prayers, and their labours, seek, in dependence on God’s blessing,
a remedy of these great and growing evils.  Let them appeal to the
experience of the past; let them prove from sacred history that nations,
which exalted themselves, have always been abased, which humbled
themselves, have always been exalted: let them shew from our own history
how we have been blessed and preserved, and how we have prospered and
flourished, when our trust has been in God, who alone “IS HE THAT GIVETH
STRENGTH AND POWER UNTO HIS PEOPLE: BLESSED BE GOD!” {110a}  Let them
bear public testimony at once to the justice and mercy of His
visitations; for whilst the pestilence speaks the language of wrath: “WOE
TO THE REBELLIOUS CHILDREN, SAITH THE LORD, THAT TAKE COUNSEL, BUT NOT OF
ME, and that cover with a covering, but not of My Spirit, that they may
add sin to sin:” {110b} it speaks also the language of merciful warning
and gracious exhortation: “As MANY AS I LOVE, I REBUKE AND CHASTEN: BE
ZEALOUS, THEREFORE, AND REPENT.” {110c}

It has been stated, also, to be the duty of believers, to employ every
means in their power to eradicate all heretical and infidel opinions; to
advance a reformation of public morals; and to promote the diffusion of
true religion, sound learning, and useful knowledge: which are all so
dependent one upon another, that they may be viewed in connexion, when
considering the course the faithful servants of the Lord are called upon
to adopt, under circumstances of almost unexampled difficulty, in this
country.  Once more, let them be admonished, that their lot is cast upon
times which require the highest degree of energy, activity, zeal, and
fidelity, in their Master’s service.  Let no one imagine his station in
life so low, that he possesses no influence, nor consider his talents so
small that he can be of no use: much would be gained if the friends of
religion would all openly range themselves on the side of the Lord; for
such a demonstration of strength would overawe the enemies of the faith.
But how great would be the triumph if all, whose hope is in the Lord’s
Christ, raised throughout the land, their voice and hands in his most
holy cause!  The fact cannot be mistaken—and to disguise it would be
culpable—that up to this time that decided movement has not been made by
the servants of the Lord, which the awful crisis at which we have arrived
so imperatively demands.  Some appear to look on, whilst a furious
assault is made upon the Sion of our God, with the heartless selfishness
which says, “it will last my time;” others gaze with a strange apathy;
others, bewildered with fear, know not how to act; and others seek only
to defend and preserve their own party and property, forgetful that, if
the common cause fail, they will be involved in the common destruction.
But the Church of Christ is built upon a rock, “and the gates of hell
shall not prevail against it.” {111}  If the alarm were only sounded
generally through the kingdom, the cause of the Lord would not want
defenders, both numerous and powerful, and the discomfited emissaries of
Satan would be driven from the field.

Mankind are always disposed to close their eyes against unpleasant
objects,—to shut their ears against unwelcome truths.  Thus we are
willing to be deceived: if we see evils increasing, we still hope they
are only partial and temporary; if alarming reports reach us, we persuade
ourselves that they must be false or exaggerated.  And if the danger
become so near as to menace our personal safety, such is the indolence,
weakness, and timidity of many, we often try to escape rather than to
combat, to avert rather than to overcome, even when we know our only
reasonable prospect of success is not in flight but in resistance, not in
making terms with, but in vanquishing the enemy.  The announcements,
therefore, which have from time to time been made of the increasing
activity of the emissaries of infidelity, and of the extensive
circulation of sceptical, profane, and blasphemous publications, appear
to have been met by the public at large either with indifference or
incredulity; but the prospect is now so alarming, the peril so imminent,
that all must rouse themselves, and acquit themselves like men, or they
may too late have to mourn the folly of incredulity, and the sinfulness
of indifference, when warned and appealed to in behalf of religion.

Let not these observations be considered otherwise than as offered in the
spirit of a faithful discharge of duty: there is far from any wish to
create unnecessary alarm; there is a strong feeling that to give
uncalled-for admonition, would be presumptuous, and to pass unmerited
censure, would be criminal; but he who undertakes to state the duty of a
Christian people under a Divine visitation, whilst he entreats and
exhorts with all meekness, and love, and reverence, must fearlessly
pursue an impartial and unprejudiced course; for terrible would be his
condemnation if he intentionally extenuated the evil or compromised the
truth: he would resemble the false teachers of old, who “healed also the
hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, PEACE, PEACE, WHEN
THERE IS NO PEACE.” {113}

To prove, however, that these are neither the unauthorized
representations of mistaken views, nor the groundless creations of false
alarm, let the opinions of writers, as to the dangers which threaten the
cause of religion in this country, be heard,—of writers, whose station
and reputation entitle them to respect.  “The signs of the times,”
observes the Bishop of London, in his Charge of last year, addressed to
the clergy of his diocese,—“the signs of the times are surely such as to
indicate to him who attentively observes the movements of God’s
providence, the approach, if not the arrival of a period pregnant with
important consequences to the cause of religion.  The spirit of
infidelity, which at the close of the last century unhinged the frame of
society, and overturned the altars of God in a neighbouring country, but
was repressed, and shamed, and put to silence, by the Christian energies
of this country, is again rearing its head; and the truths of the Gospel
are denied, and its doctrines derided, and its blessed Author is reviled
and blasphemed by men whom the force of human laws has been found unable
to restrain.  And if it be said that these are few in number, and
insignificant in point of talent and learning, there is a more numerous
class amongst us, who look upon religion merely as a necessary part of
every system of government; who would introduce the principles of a
miserable political economy into its institutions and ministry; and who
take no personal interest in its consolations or its ordinances.  And
there is also a powerful and active body of men who are attempting to lay
other foundations of the social virtues and duties than those which are
everlastingly laid in the Gospel, and to propose other sanctions, and
other rules of conduct, and other rewards, than those which are proposed
in the Word of Revelation.” {114}

The Bishop of Durham, in his Charge, delivered during the autumn of the
present year, thus addresses his clergy:—“Yet while we would thus fain
bury the past in oblivion, can we shut our eyes to the existing dangers
which beset us, from whatever cause they may have arisen?  Can we look
around and see Infidelity and Atheism on one side, Fanaticism on another;
Popery advancing in this direction, Socinianism in that; dissent,
lukewarmness, apathy, each with multitudes in its train, without
perceiving such an accession of strength to our adversaries, as none of
the present generation have ever before witnessed?  To exaggerate these
evils, or to oppress the friends of religion and social order with
excessive apprehensions of danger, can never be the policy of considerate
men.  But neither are we justified in saying ‘peace, peace,’ when there
is no peace; or in holding out illusory representations which every
discerning observer must perceive to be unfounded.” {115}

And after stating the “duties to which we are now indispensably called,”
the Bishop continues:—“that, in a Christian country like this, and in so
advanced a stage of mental cultivation, as is the boast of the present
day, it should be needful to press these admonitions, is indeed grievous.
And if we enquire how it has become needful, the answer is but too
obvious.  The main root of the evil lies in a want of sound, sober, and
practical _religious_ feeling; operating steadily throughout the
community, and influencing the conduct in all the various departments of
social life.  The want of this is discernible in attempts to carry on the
work of _popular education_, without teaching _religion_ for its basis;
in the systematic and avowed separation of civil and political from
_Christian_ obligations; in the disposition to consider all truths, on
whatever _sacred authority_ they may rest, as matters of mere _human
opinion_; and in a persuasion that the whole concern of government, of
legislation, and of social order, may be conducted as if there were no
MORAL RULER OF THE UNIVERSE controlling the destinies of men or of
nations: no other responsibilities than those which subsist between man
and man, unamenable to a higher tribunal.  So long as these pernicious
sentiments obtain currency amongst us, (and who will say that they do not
fearfully prevail in every rank and every station?) it is impossible for
any believer in a righteous Providence not to look on such a state of
things with unwonted misgivings.” {116}

The statements as to the number, power, and malignity of the enemies of
religion, made by these two Prelates, supply the powerfully sketched out
line of a terrible picture, which becomes still more terrific when filled
up with the details which may be derived from other sources.  “There is
another subject,” says an able writer, in the British Critic, “which
gives us, we confess, more uneasiness, and becomes every day more
difficult and painful, and that is the renewed and increasing efforts
made by scoffers and infidels, not only in our country, but others, to
profit by the disturbed state of the public mind, and to disseminate as
widely as possible their infernal poison amongst the needy, the ignorant,
and the profligate; at once goading them to cruel disorders and excess,
and robbing them of all hope of an hereafter.  It cannot be known,
excepting to those who make it their business to enquire, what pains, and
patience, and ingenuity, are now bestowed upon this accursed work.
Infidel books, and infidel teachers, we have always had; but certainly
there never was a moment when the art of corrupting the minds of the
people was carried to so high a pitch, or exercised with so much
effrontery; nor ever were the fruits of it so frightfully conspicuous.
It is revolting to think of them, and it were a task to make the heart
sick to detail them; but it may suffice to state, that besides the public
discourses which are delivered almost daily by the great masters of the
school in the Rotunda, and in other places amongst the crowded outskirts
of the metropolis, _for the avowed specific purpose of advocating __the
cause of infidelity_, it is a well known fact, that blasphemous and
profane lectures are delivered three times a week, in the City itself, to
large audiences of labourers and artizans, after their daily task is
done, from each of whom a penny a piece is collected, under the head of
infidel rent.

“Nor is the press behind-hand with them in their course: for whilst
numerous hawkers and other emissaries scatter unsparingly in lanes and
alleys their pennyworths of profanation, the great emporium blazons forth
its more elaborate blasphemies with fresh spirit, in characters which
those who run may read—a standing monument of its interminable hostility
to the Gospel, and of the utter hopelessness of all legal measures to
restrain it.”

Such was the account laid before the public in the beginning of this
year, of a scheme, skilfully planned, and actively conducted, for
corrupting the religious principles of the working population of the
country, and thus paving the way for the ruin of social order, and the
subversion of civil society.  Since then the strong arm of the law has
seized upon the arch infidel, but his murky den still remains: the
Rotunda is said to be made the scene of more horrible impieties than
ever; and the great work of teaching and disseminating infidelity, though
more covertly, is equally extensively carried on.

We possess, then, certain information, supplied by these and various
other distinguished writers, as to the two facts—the progress of a secret
undermining of the influence of Christianity now going forward in the
middle and higher classes of society; and in the lower, of an organized
system of open and violent aggression, not merely upon the principles of
religion, but the decencies of life.  Surely this should fill with alarm
and rouse to exertion all who fear God and love their country; for the
preservation of the national faith is essential to the continuance of
national and individual happiness and prosperity.  Before, however,
examining further into these frightful evils, and offering some
suggestions as to the course believers should adopt, let an enquiry be
made as to their probable influence upon the moral state of the great
bulk of the people.

Degeneracy of public morals must always necessarily follow corruption of
public principles.  As soon might you expect to draw pure water from a
polluted fountain, as virtuous actions from unsound principles.  Remove
the restraint of conscience, and what does man become? a fickle and
wicked being, of wild passions, selfish feelings, and ungovernable
appetites: he has lost the ruling principle which regulated and directed
his actions; and thus resembles a boat without rudder or oars, tost upon
a stormy sea, which, impelled in different directions as the winds,
tides, or currents happen to prevail, possesses neither certainty of
direction nor steadiness of course.

It is true, when the law of God ceases to be the rule of right, men
profess to substitute for it the law of honour and the law of the land.
But to ascertain the value of the law of honour as the guide of life, let
some of the cases of daily occurrence be observed, in which the rights of
hospitality have been abused with shameless unconcern, the confidence of
friendship repaid with base ingratitude, and the dearest ties of life
broken with base and heartless exultation, by men of honour.  Words
cannot express the load of deep, of agonizing woe, which the partial
substitution of the law of honour for the law of God has inflicted upon
this Christian land.  Families, through it, have had to suffer privations
from the extravagance, and poverty from the gambling of parents; to weep
for the untimely death of a father by the hand of the duellist; to mourn
and blush for the indelible stain of a mother’s shame.

Such are some of the terrible effects of the law of honour, as the guide
of life, which, if it sanction not, tolerates the betrayal of innocence,
the ruin of a family, and the murder of a fellow-creature.

Let an inquiry be now made into the value of the law of the land as a
rule of right.  Here the records of our courts of justice might suffice
to shew, that severe laws do not deter from the commission of crime.
This is as might be fairly calculated upon; because the fear of uncertain
or distant punishment, will never operate as an effectual restraint upon
an unprincipled mind: it is not, that the law is without its terrors to
offenders, but it is, that under the influence of some powerful
inducement, the salutary effect of those terrors is lost, from their
being viewed at a distance, from the hope of escaping detection, and from
the power of present temptation.  These observations regard principally
more heinous offences; but if the effect of the criminal code be found to
be, that it operates more for the punishment than the prevention of
crime, what would be the state of society, if the civil law was our great
guide in transactions between man and man.

If careful only to keep within its enactments, we made inclination or
interest our guide, where would be all the kind offices of Christian
charity, where the interchange of friendly services, where the joys of
Christian sympathy.  Sad, indeed, would be the change, if, making the law
of the land his sole rule of right, man, naturally weak, selfish, and
sensual, gave the reins to his desires, and sought only his personal
gratifications.  There might, indeed, be some exceptions, but the general
rule would be, “let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.”  In
illustration of this view of the probable effects of such a system upon
society, let the case of a litigious man be supposed: what annoyance,
what ill-will, what animosities, does his vexatious enforcement of the
law, in the most minute particulars, often excite in a neighbourhood: but
if, in addition to his being litigious, he be also irreligious,—if he be
without a belief in a future state, a judgment to come, and final rewards
or punishments—what a fearful aggravation of the evils at once takes
place: suppose, however, further, that it is not the spirit, but the
letter of the law he regards; nay, more, that it is only its punishments
he fears; and that he breaks the law, whenever secrecy affords hope of
escape, or the weakness of the party injured, chance of impunity: what a
pest to society would he be!—And yet, however odious and disgusting the
picture, such would the great bulk of mankind become, if they could be
once brought to consider conscience a bug-bear, and Christianity an
imposture.

What is it restrains appetites, the indulgence of which produces so much
misery?—Christianity.  What is it subdues the desire of revenge, which
thirsts for blood?—Christianity.  What is it arrests the course of secret
crime?—Christianity.  What is it expands the contracted views and wishes
of selfishness, and unlocks the sympathies of cold
uncharitableness?—Christianity.  Have the law of honour, or the law of
the land, power to produce such mighty effects?  They even lay not claim
to such a power.  But the benefits of Christianity stop not here.  It is
true, its transforming power, when its hallowing influence is fully felt,
is the grandest phenomenon of the moral world:—“the wicked are like the
troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt:”
{123} but above the storm, a voice is heard—the command is
uttered,—“Peace, be still!” the winds of passion are hushed, the waves of
appetite subside, and a holy calm reigns in the mind and heart.  Still,
the power of Christianity, heaven’s best gift to man, produces other
benefits.  It heals all the wounds which physical and moral evils cause
to poor human nature.  It soothes the pain of sickness, it lightens the
pressure of privation, it cheers the sorrows of affliction; and, at that
awful hour, when human aid is unavailing, and when the soul, trembling on
the brink of eternity, can repose only on the firm stay of eternal truth,
it administers solid comfort, supplies pious confidence, and whispers
holy peace.—A dying hour is a severe test of principles; and it is at
that hour, which unmasks hypocrisy, and proves the weakness of
philosophy, the power of genuine Christianity is clearly seen:—it is at
that hour, when all the world seeks for as happiness, is found to be
vanity, all it calls glory, fades into insignificance, its value is fully
felt; it is at that hour, when a recollection of past sins, long forsaken
and repented of, is present to the humble and contrite, and a
consciousness of extreme unworthiness afflicts the soul which still
confides in Jesus, its victory is complete.

Well might Bishop Watson ask Gibbon, “Suppose the mighty work
accomplished, the cross trampled upon, Christianity every where
proscribed, and the religion of nature once more become the religion of
Europe; what advantage will you have derived to your country or to
yourselves from the exchange?—I will tell you from what you will have
freed the world; you will have freed it from its abhorrence of vice, and
from every powerful incentive to virtue; you will, with the religion,
have brought back the depraved morality of Paganism: you will have robbed
mankind of their firm assurance of another life; and thereby you will
have despoiled them of their patience, of their humility, of their
charity, of their chastity, of all those mild and silent virtues which,
(however despicable they may appear in your eyes) are the only ones which
meliorate and sublime our nature; which Paganism never knew, which spring
from Christianity alone.” {124}  Nor does this able writer, in his
Letters to Paine, state less clearly and forcibly the evils which the
infidel school inflict upon society.  “In accomplishing your purpose you
will have unsettled the faith of thousands; rooted from the minds of the
unhappy virtuous all their comfortable assurance of a future recompense;
have annihilated, in the minds of the flagitious, all their fears of
future punishment; you will have given the reins to the domination of
every passion; and have thereby contributed to the introduction of the
public insecurity, and the private unhappiness usually, and almost
necessarily, accompanying a state of corrupted morals.” {125}

Would that the anti-christian school of this day could be induced to
forego their unwearied exertions to make proselytes, by considering the
poor substitute they have to offer for an holy faith, which is the hope
of the prosperous, the consolation of the afflicted, the comfort of the
sick, and the support of the dying!  To man, who feels his want of some
holy light to guide his erring steps, some blessed solace to cheer an
aching heart, in a world of perplexity and woe, the infidel has nothing
to offer but the laws, for the guidance of his public conduct, and for
his internal monitor and comforter,—a poor philosophy.  But what to teach
him how to die?  Nothing: for he has nothing to offer but the trite
aphorisms of heathen philosophers.  What to take away the fear of
something after death?  Nothing: for he who believes nothing which
Christianity has revealed can know nothing of a state of future
existence, uncognizable by unassisted reason.

Miserable men! the Christian mourns over the wilful blindness which, in
the full blaze of the meridian sun, continues in darkness, a state which
is but a faint emblem of “the blackness of darkness for ever.”  Most
guilty men! the Christian burns with holy indignation against their
perverted and wicked zeal for proselytism, of whom it may be said, “Ye
compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make
him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” {126}  If the
infidel reflects, what must be his state of mind, when he remembers, how
often, whilst feeling the utter wretchedness of his dark and cheerless
creed, he has sought with artful sophistry to bewilder the understandings
of the ignorant, and, with cold heartlessness, to blast the hopes of the
virtuous!  He who openly stabs or secretly poisons an associate, incurs a
less load of moral guilt than he who inflicts a wound or instils a
poison, which, rankling, causes misery in this life, and in the next,
anguish unutterable and interminable.

Fatal, however, as such a creed must be to the best interests of society,
wherever its influence prevails, it assumes a still more alarming aspect
as inculcated by those infidel teachers, who, disseminating their
pestilent doctrines amongst our working population, not only seek to
destroy all the hopes and fears of an hereafter, but to stimulate their
evil passions, and to produce a contempt not less for human than Divine
laws.  If once principles so subversive of the civil and religious
obligations of man, as a member of a Christian community, were allowed
gradually to leaven the great mass of the population; not only would the
cause of religion and morals be deeply injured, but eventually the altars
of God would be overthrown, the bonds of civil society broken, and
anarchy, spoliation, and bloodshed, reign through the land.  With the
great bulk of mankind, the sense of responsibility, present and future,
is the great restraint upon their evil inclinations.  Philosophers may
talk of the eternal fitness of things, the beauty of virtue, the value of
the distinctions of rank, of unequal divisions of property, and the
necessity of order, subordination, and industry, for the well-being of
society: but once remove from the minds of the lower classes their fear
of punishment,—by destroying all belief in a future state of retribution,
and all dread of the laws of the land, the execution of which they
overawe, defeat, or defy, by their numbers,—and there will be confusion,
aggression, outrage, and a general attack upon property.  Constituted as
man is by nature, and constituted as society is by law and custom, in a
Christian country, as soon as Revelation is rejected by the great bulk of
the people, the work of disorder and disorganization must be rapidly
carried on, until the whole frame-work of society be broken up.

The grand principle by which society is held together, in a free country,
is religious and moral influence controlling and directing physical force
to the good of the whole community.  Emancipate physical force from the
salutary restraints and guidance by which its violence and turbulence are
checked, and its mighty energies beneficially directed and employed, and
the same results will ensue, as would occur, were that mighty engine,—the
proudest boast of modern science,—the steam-engine, deprived of the nice
adjustments and counterbalances which have rendered its formidable powers
of easy, safe, and useful application.  The frightful destruction which
attends the explosion of a steam-engine, would be more than paralleled by
the sudden rending asunder of the bands of society, when physical force,
released from the government of religious and moral influence, bursts
forth with the full sweep of its tremendous powers.  Abstract principles,
and philosophical theories, weigh not a feather with the great bulk of
mankind, who are far more under the direction of their passions than
their judgment.  Suppose the case of one man rich,—and it may be,
possessing more than he appears to require,—surrounded by many who are
poor and needy.  What prevents the many from plundering the one? not
abstract principles of natural justice, not a philosophical respect for
the rights of property, but regard for Divine and human laws: remove the
restraints of conscience, and the fear of punishment, and the many poor
will rush upon the rich few, like a pack of hungry wolves upon, scattered
and defenceless sheep.

This admits of easy proof: it is an undeniable axiom in morals, that vice
brings with it its own punishment; how then does it come to pass that it
abounds to such a fearful extent in society?  It needs not any very
extensive acquaintance with life to return the answer, which appears to
be the true one,—that where there is not religious principle the truths
of morality are less powerful than the impulses of passion, and present
gratification is willingly purchased, even at the expense of much after
suffering.  Suppose, then, both religion and morals discarded; and man
left, not merely to the unrestrained indulgence of his evil passions, but
those passions excited by intoxicating and maddening stimulants, what
then would be the consequences?  The heart sickens whilst the mind
pictures to itself some of the frightful excesses, the horrible
enormities, of which one man may be capable under such circumstances.
Suppose, further, not one man only, but a large proportion of the
labouring population of a country exposed to the artful and wicked
devices of infidel and seditious demagogues, corrupting the principles,
by profane and blasphemous writings; exciting angry and vindictive
feelings by exaggerated or false tales of injustice and wrong; fostering
hatred and malignity towards the rich, by representing them as the
oppressors and robbers of the poor, by whose labour they live; and
stimulating their natural cupidity and sensuality by hopes of plunder, of
ease, and of enjoyment; what, then, would be the consequences?  Let the
history of France return the answer, for it is written in characters of
blood, in her annals, when, through the influence of a party, at first
small, and apparently contemptible, she became revolutionised,
demoralised, unchristianised.  Birth, rank, and wealth, were alone
sufficient to expose their possessors to democratic violence and fury;
when all laws, human and Divine, broken,—all institutions, civil and
religious, overturned, regicide and apostate France subverted the throne,
and trampled upon the cross; and the demons of disorder, spoliation, and
butchery, stalked through her land, deluged with the best blood of her
children.

The conclusion, then, at which the impartial and dispassionate enquirer
will arrive,—a conclusion which has received the terrible sanction of
experience,—is, that the most horrible consequences will result to
society when physical force is released from the salutary restraints of
religious and moral influence.

When unchristianised, man becomes a sort of demon: he riots in the
licentiousness of his assumed freedom from obligations Divine and human;
and if leagued in a diabolical conspiracy against religion, laws, and
property,—against all that is virtuous, noble, and praiseworthy,—he is
involved as he advances, deeper and deeper in danger and guilt; as the
crisis approaches, he is impelled forward in his headlong career, with a
rapidity which allows no time for reflection, with a force which defies
resistance, until at last he is swallowed up in the wide ruin of
universal tumult and disorder: like one who commits himself to the
guidance of a stream, ignorant or regardless of the distant cataract,
towards which it is flowing: borne along by its powerful current, he is,
at first, delighted with his swift and unchecked progress, but as he
proceeds, the rapidity and force of the stream fearfully increase, until
at last, drawn within the full influence of the fall, he is swept along
with tremendous violence towards the verge of precipitation, whence he
shoots into the boiling gulf below—a gulf which is no unfit emblem of
society, heaving, foaming, and roaring, under the domination of physical
force.

Let not, however, the useful and awful lesson which the French revolution
teaches be thus hastily dismissed: human nature is always the same, and
similar causes will produce similar results, however modified by
circumstances.  A length of time was required in that country to sow the
seeds of infidelity, but as soon as they had taken deep root in the
public mind, their effects were apparent; their growth was as rapid as it
was luxuriant, and they bore such a deadly crop as fills the mind with
disgust and horror.  Nor was the field of operation of the antichristian
conspiracy confined to France, the great object of which was, every where
to accomplish the defamation and discredit of the Christian religion,
where it could not effect its entire overthrow.

Let the portrait, therefore, be examined which Bishop Horsley has
supplied us with of those times, which must be still fresh in the
recollection of some; it is drawn with the power and effect of a master
in his art; would it were only interesting as a vivid sketch by a
contemporary, of dangers passed away! it speaks even now with a warning
voice to this country.

“The whole of Europe, with the exception of France only, and those
miserable countries which France has fraternized, is yet nominally
Christian: but for the last thirty years or more, we have seen in every
part of it but little correspondence between the lives of men and their
professions; a general indifference about the doctrines of Christianity;
a general neglect of its duties; no reverent observance of its rites.
The centre from which the mischief has spread is France.  In that kingdom
the mystery of iniquity began to work somewhat earlier than the middle of
the century which is just passed away.  Its machinations at first were
secret, unperceived, disguised.  Its instruments were persons in no
conspicuous stations.  But by the persevering zeal of an individual, who,
by an affectation of a depth of universal learning which he never
possessed—by audacity in the circulation of what he knew to be falsified
history—by a counterfeit zeal for toleration; but above all, by a certain
brilliancy of unprincipled wit, contrived to acquire a celebrity for his
name, and a deference to his opinions, far beyond the proportion of what
might be justly due either to his talents or attainments, though neither
the one nor the other were inconsiderable;—by the persevering zeal, I
say, of this miscreant, throughout a long, though an infirm and sickly
life of bold active impiety, a conspiracy was formed of all the wit, the
science, the philosophy, and the politics, not of France only, but of
many other countries, for the extirpation of the Christian name.  The
art, the industry, the disguise, the deep-laid policy with which the
nefarious plot was carried on; the numbers of all ranks and descriptions
which were drawn in to take part in it—men of letters first, then
magistrates, nobles, ministers of state, sovereign princes: last of all,
the inferior ranks, merchants, attornies, bankers’ clerks, tradesmen,
mechanics, peasants; the eagerness with which, under the direction of
their chief, all these contributed their power, their influence, their
ingenuity, their industry, their labour, in their respective situations
and occupations in life, to the advancement of the one great object of
the confederacy, are facts that are indeed astonishing.” {134a}

“The success of this vast enterprise of impiety was beyond any thing that
could have been expected by any but the first projector, from the
littleness of its beginnings.” {134b}  “The apostacy of the French
nation, and the subversion of the Gallican Church, however unexpected at
the time in Europe, was not a sudden event: it was not one of those
spontaneous revolutions in public opinion which are to be traced to no
definite beginning, to no certain cause: it was not the effect of any
real grievance of the people, proceeding as hath been falsely pretended,
from the rapacity and the ambition of their clergy: it was the
catastrophe and accomplishment of a premeditated plot—a plot conceived in
mere malice, carried on with steady, unrelenting malignity, for half a
century.” {134c}

Such is the account which one of the ablest writers England ever produced
has left behind him, of the origin and progress of a conspiracy against
Christianity, the effects of which he also witnessed in this country, but
by the blessing of God on the labours of himself and others, lived to see
happily counteracted.  There is much, it is true, which does not
correspond with the aspect of the present times; with which, however, a
very superficial acquaintance will satisfy every enquiring mind that
there is also much which applies to them too well.  It is not likely that
the operations of infidelity will be precisely the same at different
periods, though the object remains unaltered: still even in their plans
and machinery, there will often be found great resemblance.  The infidel
scheme in France was commenced by men of letters; in this country at
present, its most open and fierce advocates are amongst the low and
half-educated classes: still we have seen that in the middle and higher
classes there is gaining ground not “a direct attack on the evidences of
Christianity or on the value of its doctrines;” but “the distinctive
character of modern unbelief is the attempt to supersede Christianity,
and to make men moral without its guiding and restraining influence.”
{135}  There is here a much greater resemblance than might be at first
supposed, between the two plans of operation, now and at the close of the
last century.  The attack was then made with the most masterly skill:
care was taken that the prejudices of education, as they were considered,
should at first be treated with tenderness; and the way gradually
prepared for the reception of opinions, which, if at once presented to
the uncorrupted mind, would have been rejected with horror.  To use an
illustration in perfect accordance with their views, the light of impiety
was to be gradually let in upon an eye, which had long been clouded by
the cataract of superstition, lest it should prefer the darkness of error
to the full blaze of truth.  We find, therefore, no premature development
of immoral and impious doctrines: superstition, bigotry, intolerance,
were strongly condemned; clerical abuses and exactions fiercely inveighed
against; but pure religion and morality were commended.  “In this
country,” writes Horseley, “I believe they know very well that bold
undisguised atheism, proceeding directly and openly to its horrid
purpose, will never be successful.  They must have recourse, therefore,
to cautious stratagem; they must pretend that their object is not to
demolish, but reform: and it was with a view of giving colour to this
pretence, that the impudent lie—for such I have proved it to be—has been
propagated in this country of their reverence for pure Christianity, and
for the Reformation.”  But there was one invariable feature of all their
proceedings, never lost sight of, a rancorous and malignant hostility to
the established Church; and unwearied exertions “to alienate the minds of
the people from the established clergy, by representing them as sordid
worldlings, without any concern about the souls of men, indifferent to
the religion which they ought to teach, to which the laity are attached,
and destitute of the Spirit of God.” {137a}  Here, then, we have a direct
parallel between those times and the present, in which, indeed, the
balance of evil is against us, for, “the Church of England,” observes a
living prelate, {137b} “never, perhaps, hitherto has had to contend with
so great a number of open and avowed enemies; who, in their reiterated
and persevering attacks, stop short of no misrepresentations, however
flagrant, which tend to hold it up to public scorn and indignation.”

After making every allowance, indeed, for the popular excitement, which
may be of only temporary duration; for the resentful feelings, which may
pass away with the occasion which has excited them; still there remains
sufficient to justify the worst apprehensions, and to demand the most
strenuous exertions at counteraction of the friends of order and
religion.  It is not merely that there is a want of veneration, love and
value for the Church; but a rancorous hatred, spurred on by eager desire
of spoliation, is manifested, wherever infidel teachers have made
proselytes to their wicked creed.  Respect, also, for constituted
authorities, is destroyed, by their inculcating the audacious falsehood,
that civil government has been framed, to enable the few to rule the
many.  Value for the laws has been lessened, by their declaring, there is
one law for the rich, and another for the poor.  And the bonds of
affection and kind offices, which united the pastor and the parishioner,
the landlord and the tenant, have been almost every where weakened, and
in some places broken, by more than the base insinuation, by the
assertion, that the forbearance and kindness shown, originate not in
friendly regard and Christian charity, but in the ignoble wish of buying
golden opinions,—in the pusillanimous desire of propitiating men roused
to a sense of their injuries,—of disarming of their angry passions men
panting for retaliation and revenge.  Thus the force of the public and
social obligations of life has been impaired, and those kind ties and
sympathies, which bind man to man in their several relations, are
converted by the poison of infidel principles, into food for malignant
feelings, which inwardly rankle in the heart, and which outwardly evince
themselves by discontent, distrust, and dislike; and when the opportunity
presents itself, by violence, aggression, and outrage.  The effects of
such a state of things, if not counteracted, cannot be contemplated,
without the most painful apprehension, for, as it has been powerfully
expressed, “fatal must be the consequences, if the monstrous fiends of
blasphemy and disorganization now going about seeking whom they may
devour, and stalking openly through the land, with menace and defiance,
be suffered to take undisturbed possession of our peasants and
artificers, or of those on whom they immediately depend for their
support.”

We have already seen the system of extensive combinations carried on in
defiance of the laws;—organized bands and tumultuous assemblages of
peasantry, extorting money, and enforcing their demands with threats of
violence;—wanton destruction of property, in the breaking of machinery,
in attacks upon private houses, and in the far more horrible crime of the
nocturnal incendiary;—violence and excesses in many towns;—and riot,
pillage, and arson, defying for some days, in a great city, municipal
authorities and military force.

Now when all these fearful evils are viewed in connection with the
general increase of crime, more particularly of juvenile delinquency;
with the abuse and profanation of the sabbath, and neglect of the public
ordinances of religion, and with the unsound views in faith and morals
which extensively prevail—the shades of the gloomy picture gradually
darken.  But it is capable of receiving some further tints, and then the
moral state of the kingdom, which has been studiously kept as far as
possible distinct from the political, will stand forth, it is believed,
under such an appalling aspect as to satisfy men, of all parties, of the
necessity of prompt and vigorous exertion, of strong and efficient
remedies.  Amongst the great body of the people have sprung up contempt
for antiquity, disregard for established usages, disrespect for rank,
love of innovation, clamorous discontent, and fierce desire of change,
which impel them forward with blind and presumptuous confidence in their
own wisdom, and with reckless indifference as to what may be the
consequences of their precipitation and rashness.  The public press,
which exercises a fearful despotism—and political leaders, whose
authority is scarcely less absolute—urge forward an already over-excited
people, instead of attempting to allay the rising storm which threatens
to involve all in the common ruin of social order, public property, and
national credit.

The urgent importance of the question, What is to be done? cannot but
force itself upon the attention of the most supine—of the most
indifferent to their country’s safety and welfare; and surely only one
answer can be returned—repair any injuries which time may have caused to
the goodly edifice of the Church, or to the fair fabric of the
Constitution, striving, at the same time, by a general diffusion of true
religion, sound learning, and useful knowledge, to secure the eradication
of heretical and infidel opinions, and the reformation of public morals;
and by the blessing of God, the storm will pass away, and leave the
Church and Constitution unscathed.  True Christian wisdom revolts from
any concession of principle, but not less so from any defence of error;
it yields not to popular clamour and threats in matters of duty, but it
thankfully receives the admonition given in the spirit of kindness, and
profits even by the warning of an enemy, to remove any slight blemishes,
which, affecting not the foundation of the Church built on a rock, appear
externally, and tempt the rash and rude hand of bold and unhallowed
reparation.

It is the height of political wisdom to know when to refuse, and when to
concede popular claims.  To refuse just claims is equally wicked and
unwise; it is not only an act of injustice, as debarring the people from
their rights, but it destroys confidence and respect—it produces fierce
discontent, exasperation, and vindictiveness towards their rulers; and,
in the end, if the claimants be powerful, that is extorted as a right
which was first asked as a boon.  To concede unfounded claims is equally
weak and unwise; it stimulates the eager and grasping spirit of demand,
it rarely conciliates for the time, but never satisfies; it causes that
unsettled expecting and excited state of the public mind so unfavourable
to national contentment, happiness, and prosperity; and if the system be
long continued—and every new concession, by weakening the strength of the
yielding party, will make it more difficult to change the system—security
after security, privilege after privilege having been surrendered, the
petitioners will become the framers of the laws—the claimants, the
dispensers of privileges—the governed, the governing power in the
kingdom.  At the awful crisis at which we have arrived it is the bounden
duty of all men to forget party distinctions, to divest themselves of
party spirit, to have no object in view but the honour of God and the
general good.  Let, therefore, the claims of the people be
dispassionately and impartially weighed; not, however, abstractedly, but
with relation to the general good; and let these claims be conceded so
far as they may be granted consistently with the rights of property, the
integrity of the constitution, the interests of religion, and the welfare
of the empire.  And having made every concession which justice demands,
and which the real interests not only of the claimants, but of society at
large, sanction, let the whole energies of government and the nation be
directed to crushing the seditious and blasphemous associations which are
actively employed in exciting discontent and insubordination, and in
corrupting the principles of our agricultural and manufacturing
population; and let every means be employed to calm the agitation of the
public mind—to restore it to that peaceful, healthful, and contented
state, which once so much distinguished the people of England.

To effect, however, this great object, the co-operation of that mighty
engine of good or evil—the public press, is essential.  When the
information, the talent, the eloquence, which are so conspicuous in many
of our leading journals are considered, we cease to wonder at the immense
influence they possess over the public mind; for partly through
indolence, partly through ignorance, a large proportion of men are
disposed to adopt, without examination, opinions which come recommended
by the authority of a name they have been accustomed to respect and
value.  How beneficial, then, would be the consequences to society, if
the public press would use more moderation; if instead of swelling the
storm which is raging through the land, it would pour oil upon the
heaving and troubled waters; if, instead of advocating the interests of a
party, the public good was made of paramount importance.  It is
melancholy to observe the pernicious influence of party spirit upon the
public press of this country: it is not only that it excites rancour and
bitterness of feeling, but even truth, viewed through the medium of its
jaundiced eye, appears like falsehood—beauty, like deformity—virtue, like
vice.  Of this we have at present a too complete proof in the
misrepresentations, the misstatements, the calumnies, which have been
directed against the Established Church.  The writers cannot be so
ignorant as not to know the charges are substantially false,—they cannot
be so dishonest as to give circulation to what they know to be untrue,
and therefore, as they publish the most false and calumnious allegations
against the Clergy, it can only be, that the mists of party distort
objects,—the prejudices of party misconstrue motives,—the spirit of party
perverts facts.  Let it not be said that the liberty of the press has
degenerated into such licentiousness, that many public journals have
willingly and premeditatedly been guilty of the monstrous wickedness of
traducing and vilifying, and holding up to public scorn and reprobation,
the Clergy of the Established Church, but rather that, under the delirium
of a political fever, they have unconsciously loaded with unmerited
opprobrium, and most unjustly held up to public odium, the Clergy, who,
as a body, are distinguished for their talents, their learning, their
piety, and their zeal in their Great Master’s holy cause.

A deep debt of justice remains due to the Established Church; and to the
sense of right, and to the good feelings of those who have joined in the
cry against it, this appeal is made.  There is not any disposition on the
part of the Clergy to ask for undue favour or commendation:—no wish, that
abuses, if they exist, should be spared,—that delinquency, if any case
occur, should escape punishment.  But they protest against the manifest
injustice with which they have been treated.  The most extravagant
over-statements of a few valuable appointments have been industriously
circulated, as a proof of excessive and overgrown wealth, whilst the
poverty of some high dignities, and a large proportion of benefices, has
been studiously kept back; the failings and offences of a few
individuals, under every form of exaggeration and perversion, have been
dwelt and enlarged upon with evident satisfaction, whilst no just meed of
praise has been bestowed upon the body, to which rather the censure, due
only to some few members, has ingeniously, but wickedly, been made to
attach.  All which misrepresentations apparently have in view one
object,—that the charges of excessive wealth and extreme worthlessness
may stimulate and justify spoliation and subversion.  And yet no angry
recriminations, scarcely any indignant remonstrances, have issued from
the injured party: when they have spoken, it has been in the calm
language of conscious rectitude; and the great body have forborn to reply
to insult and invective, relying on the goodness of their cause, to which
they feel assured the people of England will, sooner or later, do full
justice.  If aught could soften the harsh severity, could shame the cruel
injustice with which the Clergy have been censured, vilified, and
persecuted, surely it should be the Christian meekness and patience with
which they have borne the heavy load of wrong that has been cast upon
them.  Full many there are who, unmoved by clamour, unprovoked by
injuries, and unappalled by dangers, are pursuing the even tenor of their
way, in the diligent and faithful discharge of their sacred duties.  But
silence under grievous charges is often interpreted into an admission of
their truth, and meekness under heavy reproaches a proof of their
justice.  There are times, therefore, when the Clergy should raise their
voice in self-vindication; not merely for their own sakes, but that of
their flocks; for if they allow their office to be degraded, and their
characters aspersed, without maintaining the one and defending the other,
their influence will be seriously weakened, and their usefulness, in the
same degree, diminished.  Hence it has ever been the artful policy of the
infidel school to attack religion through her ministers; and such is the
course which is adopted now, and those ministers will aid and abet the
cause of the enemies of their faith, if they repel not the darts which
are meant to reach, through their bodies, the altars of their God.  And
would that that portion of the press, which has long assailed the Clergy
with much unmerited severity and abuse, could be persuaded to make a
tardy reparation for the wrong they have done,—for the injury they have
inflicted on society!  The public journals now reach the remotest corners
of the island; and in many distant parishes, in which the incumbent alone
spends the income drawn from the soil, alone dispenses his charity,
visits the sick, instructs the ignorant,—even there the blighting
influence of calumny extends, and the work of Christian benevolence and
charity is neutralized by the splenetic effusions, or foul and false
charges of the public press.  Oh! that the awful circumstances of the
present times would teach forbearance, if not justice,—would induce
silence, if not commendation.  If they love not religion for its own
sake,—if they respect not its ministers for their own sake,—let the value
of both be admitted in stemming that fearful tide of sedition and
infidelity which threatens to overturn the civil as well as religious
institutions of the country.  And there is another consideration not to
be forgotten: in times of pestilence, the ministers of God have ever
proved faithful to their trust, and a blessing to the sick and dying:
that scourge of the Almighty is now upon the land; let the press then
seek to heal the breach they have made between the pastor and his flock,
lest by the baleful suspicions and hatred they have caused in the minds
of the latter, they may be the means of intercepting the stream of Divine
mercy,—of darkening the light of Divine truth.

Vain will be all the efforts of the friends of religion and order to
counteract the present evils, which endanger the best interests of
society, and to introduce a better order of things, if a large proportion
of the public journals continue not only to excite the public mind, but
to prejudice it against the Clergy, by imputing to them unworthy motives,
and by bringing against them heavy and unsubstantiated charges.  In many
places at present, the plans of the Clergyman for the benefit of his
parish are entirely frustrated; a large proportion of his parishioners
being like men labouring under a fever caused by injudicious
treatment,—the wholesome aliment, which would give nourishment and
strength in a healthy state, injures rather than benefits; and even the
medicines which should cure the disease are rejected, through distrust of
the physician who prescribes them.  But let those who have injured the
patient, by supplying stimulants when they should have administered
sedatives, by exciting suspicion when they should have inspired
confidence, endeavour to repair the evil they have produced, and then the
ministers of the Great Physician of souls will recover their proper
influence, and will be able beneficially to exercise their important
functions.

It is impossible to estimate the advantage of the ministerial office to
society, until the aggregate of the services of men, who have all their
allotted field of action throughout the kingdom, be well weighed.  Let
any one examine minutely into the benefit which one parish receives from
a resident incumbent, who faithfully discharges the duties of his office;
and if all do not so, it is the fault of the individual, and not of the
system:—let him observe, not merely the general advantage derived by all
from the residence amongst them of a well informed and well conducted
man,—at once the scholar, the gentleman, and the Christian,—but of one
who is the authorized medium through which abuses are to be checked and
corrected, vice discountenanced and reproved, virtue encouraged and
rewarded, relief administered to distress, instruction to ignorance,
comfort to sorrow, and the light of the Gospel diffused amongst all,—its
offers addressed to all, its consolation imparted to all.  Then let him
attempt to calculate the amount of instruction conveyed through “the
alacrity, the zeal, the warm-heartedness which the Established Clergy
have manifested for the education of the poor;” {149} of comfort derived
by suffering in its hour of need and sorrow, from its faithful pastor;
and of benefit imparted to all, either directly or indirectly, either
temporally or spiritually, by the appointed and responsible teachers of
the Gospel, throughout the parishes in the kingdom.  And then let him
form a judgment as to what degree of confidence is to be placed in the
wisdom, what sense of obligation is to be entertained for the
services,—_not of those_ who are labouring with _earnest_ diligence to
“feed the flock over which the Holy Ghost has made them overseers,”—_of
those_ who by impoverishing the Clergy would deprive them of the means of
affording temporal assistance to the poor and needy; and by calumniating
the Clergy would impede the discharge and frustrate the efficacy of their
spiritual ministrations.  Alas! it is because the full value of the quiet
and unobtrusive labours of all ranks in the Church is so little known by
those who are actively engaged in public life, that plans are devised,
which, possessing some plausibility, and coming recommended with much
eloquence, are eagerly embraced by many, who would indignantly reject
them were they aware that, if adopted, they would injure the present and
endanger the eternal welfare of millions.  As men, as statesmen, and as
Christians, let all who have inconsiderately joined in the cry against
the Church forbear, until they have ascertained for themselves, by minute
and impartial investigation, whether it is as wealthy and proud, as
grasping and worldly, as bigoted and intolerant, as intermeddling and
domineering, as inefficient and corrupt, as its enemies have represented
it to be.  Could it be proved to be such, every sincere Christian,
whether cleric or laic, would at once say, free it from the abuses which
disgrace its character and impair its efficiency.  But of the charges
brought against it, the large proportion originate in the hostility,
hatred, and malignity of its enemies; there may be some defects, but they
are incidental, not inherent, and are at present occupying the deep and
anxious attention of the heads of the establishment, who are most
desirous to correct whatever may limit the influence or lessen the
usefulness of that pure and reformed branch of the Church of Christ
established in this kingdom.

If the enemies of the Church, who profess to be the friends of mankind,
are sincere, as we are bound to consider them, in the expression of their
wish to benefit their fellow-men, they must not impede the operation of
an establishment which every where diffuses a knowledge of that Gospel,
the salutary influence of which extends through society, as the only cure
of the ills to which flesh is heir.  They may closely watch and severely
scrutinize the proceedings of the Church; but, as men and Christians,
they are bound to do it justice, and give it their support as a powerful
agent, in lightening the load of misery which too often exists in this
commercial country to a frightful extent.  “Compare,” says the present
Bishop of Chester, “compare the ignorant and unreflecting peasant, who
moves in the same dull, and too often sinful track, with no ideas beyond
the ground he treads upon, the sensual indulgences which he gratifies,
and the day that is passing over his head;—compare him with his
enlightened neighbour, nay, with himself, if happily he becomes
enlightened, when he follows the same path of active industry, but makes
it a path towards his heavenly Father’s kingdom;—and then perceive, by a
visible example, what the grace of God effects through the agency of man;
or take a case, too common, alas! too familiarly known to many who hear
me.  Take the case of those who see their occupation sinking from under
them; their means of support annually decreasing, and little prospect of
its melioration.  Suppose that the views of these, and such as these, are
bounded by this present world, what can they be but unhappy, restless,
discontented; defying God, and murmuring at man; distressing the
philanthropist, because he sees no comfort left to them; distressing the
statesman, because he can devise no remedy for their relief; above all,
distressing the Christian, who sees the future prospect far darker than
the present gloom?  Suppose the case of one thus circumstanced, having no
hope beyond this world; and then contemplate the change which would be
produced, if any of the means by which grace is communicated to the heart
should inspire the same person with the principles and the faith of the
Gospel; converting him from whatever is evil in his ways, and thus
removing all the accumulation which sin adds to poverty: reconciling him
to hardships and privations as the intended trial of his faith, the lot
of many of God’s most approved servants; and lighting up the darkness of
this world by the rays which precede that which is to come, the earnest
of a brighter dawn.”

May those who have been so far misled as to become either hostile or
indifferent to their Church now do tardy justice to her, which, through
good report and evil report, is still true to her righteous and holy
cause, and dispenses through the land the light and blessing of the
Gospel of peace: may those who love, cherish, and venerate the religion
of their fathers—the Church of their God—approve themselves zealous and
faithful sons; our Zion requires active, stanch, vigilant, and
experienced defenders: her enemies are numerous, persevering, powerful,
malignant, implacable; their attacks are sometimes open, sometimes
insidious, but always skilfully planned, and ably conducted; still,
whilst the Church continues true to God and His Christ, she has nothing
to fear, for “greater is He who is for her than he who is against her.”
“The Lord is her shield and buckler,” and Christ has promised to be
always, even unto the end of the world, with his Church, which is founded
on the rock of faith, and against which “the gates of hell shall not
prevail:” in humble, but firm reliance, therefore, upon Him, of whose
mystical body she forms a portion, the Church of England, amid the
strifes of political changes, amid the distractions of civil contentions,
amid the storms of popular clamour and fury, remains stedfast through
faith, and joyful through hope:

    “As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form,
    Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm,
    Tho’ round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
    Eternal sunshine settles on its head.”

Whilst, however, we rely with firm and holy confidence upon the Great
Author and Finisher of our Faith, for the protection and preservation of
His Church; zeal, energy, and discretion, in defence of religion, are not
the less requisite in believers, who labour under their Heavenly Master
for the furtherance of His Gospel.  As the Almighty is pleased to employ
human agents for the accomplishment of His gracious designs towards His
creatures; His faithful servants hoping to prove instruments, in His
hands, of good to their fellow men, must use every means in their power
to frustrate the evil designs of the enemies of the Lord; and to induce a
sinful nation, suffering under a Divine visitation, to put away from them
“the evil of their ways,” which has called down the Divine displeasure;
and humbling themselves before God to implore His mercy, “that the plague
may be stayed from the people.” {154}  Let, then, all the servants of the
Lord, at this alarming and awful crisis, “be very jealous for the Lord
God of Hosts;” {155} and pray and labour incessantly for the defeat of
the devices of unbelief; which, whether under the form of an irreligious
spirit seeking to do without Christianity, or under the bolder aspect of
open infidelity, striving to subvert Christianity, is the main cause of
the evils which now endanger the safety of the civil and religious
institutions of the kingdom.  We have seen that, in the case of the lower
classes of society, the tide of profaneness has been setting in with a
force and fury which threaten to overturn all the defences of religion,
morals, and laws, which have long withstood their fierce assaults—their
destructive ravages.  Can it be that the emissaries of Satan shall be
found more zealous and indefatigable in disseminating the poison which is
to destroy both body and soul, than the servants of God are vigilant,
active, and unwearied, to prevent the bane or supply the antidote?  Can
it be that the slaves of sin and darkness, under the galling yoke of him
who is a hard master, will manifest a more willing and prompt obedience,
than the servants of God, in the cause of their blessed Lord, whose
“burden is light,”—“whose service is perfect freedom?”  We have seen,
also, that in the middle and higher classes of society there appears to
be an equally effective, though less conspicuous, agent at work—a deep
and silent current, which is gradually, though secretly, undermining that
great foundation of Christianity, that the law of God is to be the rule
of life.  This great engine of evil, as more insidious, is, in reality,
more dangerous than the noisy turbulence of infidel assemblies, or the
open circulation of blasphemous publications; the power of the spirit of
darkness, when, “as a roaring lion he walketh about seeking whom he may
devour,” is less to be dreaded, than when he employs the noiseless
gliding of “the serpent,” which discovers itself only by the sting of
death.  Can it be that any of the friends of religion will shut their
ears against these representations of great and alarming danger—delude
themselves with the groundless anticipations of unjustifiable
hope—deceive themselves with the distant plans of culpable
procrastination—or shroud themselves beneath the covering of indolent
supineness and heartless indifference?  Too long palliatives have been
employed instead of remedies, expediency has been substituted for
principle, and worldly wisdom has encroached upon the province of Divine
Revelation.  As a Christian nation our laws and institutions should be
all essentially Christian; the foreign and domestic policy of the State,
and the public and private conduct of individuals, should be all animated
by a Christian spirit, and guided by Christian rules and precedents.

Let us, therefore, enquire by what means is the predominance of
Christianity to be restored, when it is threatened with still further
depression; when it has great and powerful enemies all plotting its
destruction in this country?

There is one mean—to which reference has been already made, as being the
great object the believer should have in view—which would, with the
blessing of God, upon whom alone dependence must rest for success against
His enemies, be effectual in accomplishing this great end, and that is
the zealous and unanimous co-operation of all Christians for the general
diffusion of true religion, sound learning, and useful knowledge.  A very
brief examination into the cause which has contributed largely to the
present state of things, so unfavourable to the interests of genuine
Christianity, may suffice to place this in a clear point of view.

Religious error generally receives its distinguishing features from the
literary character of the age: and an age which abounds with sciolists is
very fertile in sceptics.  For it has been always found that the effect
of superficial knowledge is rather to unsettle, of profound knowledge to
confirm, belief in Revelation; as was well observed by that mighty master
in philosophy, Bacon, who says, “a little philosophy inclines us to
atheism, and a great deal of philosophy carries us back to religion.”
And the reason of this is obvious; there are certain difficulties of
every subject which lie upon, or nearly at, the surface; slight labour
and research, therefore, put the enquirer in possession of little more
than those difficulties; whilst if the spirit of patient and accurate
investigation had carried him further, he would have found them gradually
disappear before the light of truth breaking by degrees upon his mind,
and leading him to just and certain conclusions, drawn from a long series
of proofs.  Now the present age appears to be characterized by a wide
diffusion of elementary knowledge amongst all classes of society; by a
preference of an extensive, though necessarily superficial, acquaintance
with general literature and the elements of modern science, to an
accurate and profound knowledge of a few leading branches of study; and
by a tendency to elevate the pursuit of physical above that of moral and
religious truth.  From the proposition laid down, of the ordinary effects
of superficial knowledge upon the mind in the investigation of religious
truth, we should conclude, that such a system of popular instruction is
calculated to indispose towards the full reception of a Divine
Revelation; that the mind, either bewildered by a variety of pursuits, or
dissatisfied by diversity of opinions, will consider all knowledge
uncertain, and all theories unsatisfactory; or influenced by that
intellectual pride and presumption which are amongst the most bitter
fruits of defective knowledge, deem itself competent to decide summarily
upon whatever passes under its observation.  For if it has been found—as
it has been too often found—that minds, otherwise highly gifted, but
destitute of religious principles, when long accustomed to demonstration,
are apt to underrate the value of moral proof; and when long familiar
with natural causes, sometimes forget the great Architect, who formed and
put in motion our globe; sometimes forget the great First Cause, which
gave nature her powers and properties, and now preserves and directs them
to a beneficial end: what must we expect when far inferior minds, without
mental discipline and profound knowledge, those happy results of
laborious and patient study; but with vanity flattered by appeals made to
its judgment, and with pride fostered by the acquisition of a poor
modicum of science, deem themselves competent not merely to decide upon
the most difficult questions of government and legislation, but upon the
most profound truths of natural and revealed religion?  The result may be
easily anticipated; if this empty vanity, this presumptuous pride of
intellect, reject not Christianity at once, it ordinarily takes an
heretical direction, and assuming the specious guise of love of
investigation, and value for the powers of reason, it makes the deep and
awful mysteries of our holy faith the subject of crude theories and
daring speculations; and with powers confessedly unequal to the
explanation of some of the lowest wonders of the material world, seeks to
penetrate within the veil drawn around the Godhead, and reduce to the
level of human comprehension the very nature of the Divine essence.
Should it, however, take one step further, and that an easy step, it
rejects the truths it had long distorted, it resigns the shadow of which
it had never known the substance, and declaring Christianity to be “a
cunningly devised fable,” it becomes the advocate of heartless, hopeless
infidelity.

This is no imaginary picture, but one, of the reality and fidelity of
which the present state of society affords too abundant proof.  Not that
superficial acquaintance with science is a thing of new occurrence; not
that pride of intellect—ever a luxuriant weed in rich but ill-cultivated
soils,—is a growth peculiar to our times; not that heresy and infidelity,
its bitterest fruits, never till now spread their poison through our
land; but never before was the field so large, the weeds more rank, and
the crop so abundant.  Formerly, science flowed in a few deep and noble
rivers, of whose copious waters the nation at large sparingly drank; we
still have many rich streams which fertilize the land, but in addition to
them there is an infinity of small rivulets, some of which, like mountain
torrents, after a thunder-storm, are brawling and turbulent, covered with
much foam, mixed with much impurity, often rising over their banks, and
spreading havoc and barrenness, where all was fertility and beauty.  Such
streams may serve to illustrate the effects, upon society, of the
violence and turbulence of those, whose imperfect acquaintance with
science has first shaken their own belief, and has then been made
instrumental to the spread of infidel doctrines, amongst those who had
lived in happy ignorance of “science, falsely so called.”  But would any
one, therefore, be so unwise as to endeavour to keep these turbulent
brooks pent up?  The destruction would be only wider and heavier when
they at last burst over the mounds that restrained them: but it is at
once the course of wisdom and of humanity to confine them within their
banks, and give them a due direction, and then, as they descend towards
the plain, gradually the brawling ceases, the froth disappears, the mud
subsides, and you have a pure and quiet stream diffusing the riches,
refreshment, and beauty of science over the land.  No calumny has,
perhaps, been more frequently repeated in the present day than that those
who expose the perversion, are the enemies of science.  But in spite of
interested clamour and unjust censure, the Christian is bound to
maintain, that knowledge is valuable in the degree in which it makes men
not merely wiser but better: and that however he may approve of literary
and scientific pursuits, however ready he may be to extol their value,
for great indeed is their value, still their highest value is in proving
subsidiary to the acquisition of Christian knowledge.  Whilst, therefore,
he recommends their attainment, because they are calculated to enlighten
and invigorate the mind, correct and refine the taste, exalt and dignify
the character, to supply a rational and unfailing source of relaxation
and enjoyment, he must ever maintain, that unless hallowed with some
portion of that “wisdom which is from above,” they will be useless to
their possessor, and may, by a mischievous perversion, not only be fatal
to his present and future happiness, but injurious to the best interests
of a community.

That the extension of education has contributed to the production of such
evils is true, but it is not less true, that education is not fairly
chargeable with accidental and separable consequences.  The fault has
been, that the provision for the religious instruction of the age,
notwithstanding the zeal and activity shewn to accomplish this great
object, has not increased in the same ratio with that for its advancement
in literature and science.  The supply of the mental wants of the middle
and lower classes of society, which have received this powerful impulsion
towards knowledge, has been too much in the hands of those who avowedly
exclude religion from their system of popular education.  Thus, a much
neglected soil has been broken up, and prepared for cultivation, but
“whilst men slept, the enemy came and sowed tares in the field;” the
Lord’s labourers, however, are not therefore to desert the field, but to
employ, for the future, more watchful vigilance, more earnest zeal, and
more assiduous labour.  There is no benefit nor blessing which is not
capable of perversion and abuse; but it would be a strange act of folly
to refuse a manifest advantage, through fear of contingent evil, both the
prevention and correction of which are in our own power.  “The almost
universal diffusion of elementary knowledge furnishes the enemies of
revealed religion with abundant materials to work upon: but then it also
furnishes the friends of truth with the obvious means of counteracting
the influence of erroneous doctrines, and of instilling sounder
principles into the bulk of the community.  Any attempt to suppress, or
even to check, the spirit of inquiry, which is abroad in the world, would
not only be a vain and fruitless attempt, but a violation of the
indefeasible liberty of the human mind, and an interference with its
natural constitution.  To impart to that spirit a right direction, to
sanctify it with holy motives, to temper it to righteous purposes, to
shape it to ends which lie beyond the limits of this beginning of our
existence, will be the endeavour of those who desire to make the
cultivation of intellect conducive to moral improvement, and to establish
the kingdom of Christ at once in the understanding and affections of
mankind.” {164}

Let, then, all the friends of religion employ some portion of their time,
their influence, and their wealth, in zealously labouring to promote a
general diffusion of true religion, sound learning, and useful knowledge.
Let them be assured that the mental cultivation of the population of a
country, when properly conducted, will, by elevating the moral character,
always have a beneficial influence upon society; that it can only be
properly conducted when religion forms the basis of the system of
instruction; and that the present ardent thirst for knowledge will be
productive of lasting evil or good to the best interests of England,
accordingly as it is, or is not, directed as to an object of paramount
importance, to that fountain of “living water” which floweth for our
salvation.

When religion has been made the basis of education, and the principles of
revelation have been clearly understood, and cordially embraced, a slight
acquaintance with science not only ceases to have any injurious effect
upon the mind, but benefits it, as the acquisition of useful knowledge
must always do: in the humility, faith, stability, and knowledge of true
religion, there is a safe-guard against the evils usually attendant upon
a superficial acquaintance with natural philosophy in minds
ill-disciplined and ill-informed.  Nor is it only that physical science
benefits minds early imbued with religious principles; a knowledge of
many of its departments opens a new and unfailing source of high and pure
enjoyment; it supplies, as it were, a new sense: before, Creation
presented a beautiful and varied picture, delighting the eye, and filling
the heart with gladness.  But it was in a degree like the picture of a
great master, to one unacquainted with painting; the general beauty, and
happiness of effect, were discoverable, but there was not the full
satisfaction which the connoisseur derives from his knowledge of the art;
upon the former, the general effect principally makes an impression; with
the latter, not only the general effect, but all the variety of details,
all the happy combinations, which have united to produce that effect, are
seen, understood, and appreciated; and there results the high
gratification felt by a cultivated mind, when the eye is pleased, the
understanding exercised, and the judgment satisfied.  However inadequate
every illustration, drawn from art, must be to convey any just conception
of the impression which the works of nature are calculated to make upon
the enlightened mind; still this may afford a faint parallel of the
advantage which scientific men possess over those who have never studied
the book of nature.  For physical science improves the perception of the
beauties, whilst it unfolds the wonders, of creation: not only do the
great results of nature’s works become, through it, better understood;
but the causes and modes of operation, by which those results are
accomplished, are discovered: and the student becomes more full of
delight and admiration, the further his researches extend; he traces the
nice connexion, which every where exists between causes and effects; and
surveys, with wonder and praise, the beautiful contrivances, the
admirable adaptations, the perfect harmony, which reign throughout the
creation of God.  His mind thus becomes deeply and powerfully impressed
with the uniform perfection visible in the works of the Deity: if he
observe with his telescope a planet,—one of those bright bodies which gem
the canopy of heaven,—or examine with his microscope an insect,—one of
the minutest beings which sport in the summer’s sunshine,—he still sees
the same perfection; “those rolling fires on high” perform their
appointed revolutions, in their several orbits, directed by unvarying
laws; and the tiny insect, equally complete in its organization,
exercises, with an instinct as unerring, its allotted functions.

The whole material universe supplies the student of nature with a rich
field, at once, of investigation and enjoyment: the mineral, the
vegetable, and the animal kingdoms, all disclose their treasures to his
inquiring mind; which is not, however, limited by the narrow bounds of
our terraqueous globe, but ranges through the fields of ether, far as the
eye can penetrate into the distant regions of illimitable space.
Throughout he is delighted to trace the hand of the Creator; to observe
every where design and arrangement; nothing superfluous, nothing in vain,
but the mighty machinery of a stupendous system; in the great principles
of which there is sublime simplicity, in their operations unvarying
accuracy and matchless contrivance, in their details endless variety and
infinite combinations, and in their effects utility, beauty, grandeur,
and magnificence.  The works of the Almighty far exceed the full
comprehension of finite intelligence, but much further do they transcend
adequate description in uninspired language: man feels all his feebleness
of intellect and of expression, when he attempts to penetrate deeply
into, or to describe accurately, the mighty works of God; he is then
constrained to confess, “such knowledge is too wonderful and excellent
for me; I cannot attain unto it.” {167}  “Oh Lord, how manifold are Thy
works! in wisdom hast Thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy
riches; so is the great and wide sea also.” {168a}  “The heavens declare
the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth His handy-work.” {168b}  “By
the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by
the breath of His mouth.  He gathereth the waters of the sea together, as
it were upon an heap, and layeth up the deep, as in a treasure-house.
Let the earth fear the Lord: stand in awe of Him, all ye that dwell in
the world.  For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood
fast.” {168c}  And he breaks forth in the devout hymn of the Psalmist;
“Praise the Lord, oh my soul: oh Lord my God, Thou art become exceeding
glorious: Thou art clothed with majesty and honour.  Thou deckest Thyself
with light, as it were with a garment: and spreadest out the heavens like
a curtain.  Who layeth the beams of His chambers in the waters, and
maketh the clouds His chariot, and walketh upon the wings of the wind.”

When philosophy is thus sanctified by Christianity, the volume of nature
presents, after the volume of inspiration, the most instructive and
delightful study of man; in both he can read, as if written by a
sun-beam, the power, the wisdom, and the goodness of the Most High.
Would, then, any wish to debar others from the high intellectual feast
which nature bountifully spreads before all, and of which she pressingly
invites all to partake?  Such would be to limit or to divert the streams
of Divine bounty, whilst flowing in their proper channels: such would be
to make a monopoly of one of heaven’s best and freest gifts to man,
whilst a pilgrim in this world of woe,—the admonitions which nature
addressing to the enlightened and thoughtful mind,

                     “Leads it upward to a brighter day.”

Would any say, Gaze as long as you like upon the beauties and wonders of
nature, but attempt not to explore its hidden secrets—to examine the
latent springs of its vast and complicated machinery?  Such would be, as
if a man possessing a curious and exquisite piece of mechanism were to
direct the observers to remark the beauty of the material, the regularity
of the movements, and the certainty of the results, and yet to forbid
them to examine into the principle of construction and the mode of
operation, on which those movements and that certainty depend.  For the
proportion, in which he who has studied the structure of the globe, the
wonderful mechanism of the universe, as far as Revelation and reason have
enabled men to go, derives from its contemplation greater enjoyment and
instruction than he who treads the earth, traverses the seas, and gazes
upon the heavens, ignorant of all philosophy can teach, is the same as
that in which he who understands mechanics receives greater pleasure and
information, than he who understands them not, from examining the process
of a masterly application of the powers of that science.

Let, therefore, the knowledge of physical science be widely diffused, but
let the basis of Christian principles be first laid; for thus not only
may the evil of scepticism be provided against, but the field of moral
and intellectual enjoyment and improvement will be enlarged to the
student; for never does the study of the material universe more elevate
the mind, and expand the heart, than when we are accustomed to refer
every thing to a great and gracious Creator,—to look habitually

                     “Through nature up to nature’s God.”

“We know that there is a superficial philosophy, which casts the glare of
a most seducing brilliancy around it; and spurns the Bible, with all the
doctrine and all the piety of the Bible, away from it; and has infused
the spirit of Antichrist into many of the literary establishments of the
age: but it is not the solid, the profound, the cautious spirit of that
philosophy, which has done so much to ennoble the modern period of our
world; for the more that this spirit is cultivated and understood, the
more will it be found in alliance with that Spirit, in virtue of which
all that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God is humbled, and all
lofty imaginations are cast down, and every thought of the heart is
brought into the captivity of the obedience of Christ.” {171}

The first great principle, therefore, which all must steadily keep in
view and strenuously advocate, is that _the Bible should form the basis
of education_.  It is not sufficient to say, that education is to be
conducted on religious principles, for on the subject of religion there
exists, in this day, a most unfortunate and mischievous variety of
opinions, which would be much diminished if the Holy Scriptures were made
the real, as they are the professed, groundwork of every system of
Christian instruction.  Two other great principles, which the true
servants of God should strongly recommend and enforce, as being
intimately and necessarily connected with the first—that the Bible is to
be the basis of education,—are, that _the Bible is to be the rule of
faith_, _and the guide of public and private life_.  From a neglect of
these three great principles of Christian conduct, it is hardly too much
to say, that almost all the evils which afflict society have arisen: for
they all reciprocate, and mutually contribute to their common
perpetuation.  The man of the world educates his son in the way best
calculated to promote his temporal advancement: and that son, in his
turn, when he becomes a father, is regardless of the eternal interests of
his child, which he has never been taught to value.  For the system begun
in childhood is continued through all the stages of life; and “the spirit
returns unto God who gave it,” having been occupied almost to the last
moment of human existence with the pursuit of worldly advantage and
enjoyment.  Here we have, consequently, only the name of Christianity;
for neither do its motives influence, nor its rules guide the conduct:
there may be the external form, but there is not the power of godliness;
there may be the cold and lifeless statue, there is not the living
Christian, possessed of intelligence, volition, and motion, and animated
by faith and hope,—the origin, exercise, and direction of which belong to
the Spirit of God.  This is a necessary consequence of that neglect of
the Bible, which has been already noticed as being such a prolific source
of error.  There is very general in the world a standard of faith and
morals, which Scripture does not recognize, and a reliance upon Divine
mercy, which Scripture does not sanction.  Thus the world calls vices
venial, which Scripture says shall exclude from heaven; and the world
speaks peace, where Scripture pronounces woe.  Take, however, the life of
a large body of men, trace it from the cradle to the grave; observe in
childhood its toys, in boyhood its sports, in youth its pleasures, in
manhood its occupations and enjoyments, and in age its employments; all
in succession deemed of supreme importance, and the excessive indulgence
of which has never been considered criminal: then take the Bible, and
compare the survey you have made with what it reveals of the nature and
object of man’s probation; and the conclusion will force itself
irresistibly and painfully upon you, that as life is to be a state of
moral discipline to fit the heir of immortality for his bright
inheritance, the life, which has been depicted, is not that which will
lead to the blessed mansions of heaven.

Against this spurious Christianity, let the friends of true religion
every where raise their voice, for like a currency of base coin, it is
not only without value in itself, but deludes its possessor with the
false idea of possessing wealth.  Let them point out the folly and the
danger of receiving religious opinions from the world, instead of from
God’s book; for as the light of the sun is coloured by the stained glass
through which it passes, so the rays of Divine truth, being tinged by the
perverted medium through which they are received, may deceive those who
imagine they are enjoying the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness.
And let them warn all against walking by another’s light,—though he may
appear “a shining and a burning light”—instead of searching for
themselves the lively oracles of Scripture; it may be, as in the case of
a party in a dark and dangerous cavern, where few only possess lamps,
that the whole may proceed in safety; but surely the security is not so
great as if each possessed his own lamp; and great would be the folly of
him, who warned of the danger, and assured of the necessity of having a
lamp of his own, rejected the friendly offer of assistance, which would
guide him in safety, and trusted to the uncertain light of another,
which, falling on broken and uneven ground, deceived the eye, and risked
his precipitation into some deep abyss, from which extrication was
impossible.

Let them every where teach and impress, as a duty of paramount
importance, that not only the education of all classes, from the prince
to the peasant, should be conducted on the principles of the Bible; but
that all should acquire that knowledge of the evidences as well as
doctrines and duties of Christianity, which may fit them in their several
stations to overcome, through the grace of God, the temptations to
unbelief or immorality, which are likely to assail them.  It is a painful
reflection, how many youths of bright prospects, great talents, and
amiable dispositions, have made shipwreck of their present and eternal
hopes, from a want of early religious instruction.  How many are less
ashamed of being found ignorant of the Bible than any other book, and
whilst they would blush not to be acquainted with some new, though
unimportant, discovery in science, feel no shame in never having learnt
the important discoveries made by Revelation to man.  And how many, in an
evil age, want courage to admit a knowledge of the Bible, with the great
truths of which they have been made imperfectly acquainted, but have
neither learnt their value nor imbibed their spirit.

Let, therefore, the true servants of the Lord labour diligently to
counteract the rationalizing spirit in theology, the neglect of Divine
Providence, the ascription of every thing to natural causes, the
endeavour, in short, to do without Christianity in the affairs of life,
which so extensively prevail.  And let them discountenance and repress,
and, when fitted by previous education and study, refute the objections
which scepticism and infidelity now advance in society, not only
unblushingly avowing their unbelief, but attempting to spread its poison
in private families.  It would not be for the advantage of religion to
commit to inexperienced hands the weapons of controversy, for the great
strength of infidelity lies in perplexing subtilities and ingenious
sophisms, which are calculated to puzzle an ill-read and illogical
disputant.  But every Christian should “know the certainty of those
things wherein he has been instructed.” {175}  “And be ready always to
give an answer to every man that asketh a reason of the hope that is in
him, with meekness and fear.” {176}  The neglect of instruction in the
evidences, in the general system of religious education, is at once most
unwise, and most calculated fearfully to promote the spread of unbelief:
in the first place, it is like attempting to build a house without laying
a good foundation: the winds and floods of infidelity assail it, and it
falls, because built on sand: in the second place, the fall of one house
generally more or less injures those adjoining: thus the cause of
unbelief is advanced, not only by the accession of every new convert, but
by the shock which his fall occasions to the faith of his friends and
acquaintance.  Let, therefore, the friends of religion at once secure to
the evidences their proper place in every system of education, and also
take care that their own principles be fortified by that sound “knowledge
which maketh not ashamed.”  Let them never suffer the cause of God to be
blasphemed, or the truth of religion denied in society, without entering,
at least, their protest; and let them never suffer the questions and
doubts of scepticism to be propounded in their families, without at once
silencing the dangerous inmate, who seeks to spread his secret poison, by
inviting enquiry and provoking discussion.  It is true many of the
objections urged in society are of a nature which little learning, in
addition to good common sense, may suffice to answer.  As, for instance,
the existence of mysteries in Christianity; whilst, in truth, the absence
of mysteries in a Revelation would be a strong argument against its
Divine origin: the terms employed in creeds and articles, the form of
worship and the discipline of the Church; for all of which Christianity
is not strictly liable, as, though in perfect conformity with, some of
them have been engrafted upon, Revelation: and the sins into which
believers, who disgrace their profession, are betrayed; for which
Christianity cannot be to blame, as it would be most manifest injustice
to visit upon a Revelation, the offences of unworthy members, of which
their own sinfulness is the sole cause.  But such is the mode of warfare
of the light troops of the infidel host, who dare not attack directly the
evidences, doctrines, and precepts of the Gospel; and yet from their
numbers, activity, and malignity, have deeply injured the cause of
religion, by insinuating doubts, and instilling suspicions into
ill-informed and inexperienced minds.

If those who bear the Christian name and believe the Christian faith
would unite against this legion of evil spirits, and employ their rank,
influence, talents, and learning, in bringing them into subjection to
Him, whose easy yoke they have thrown off, for the service of Satan, the
cause of religion would be immensely benefited.  Not only because many
unbelievers would probably be converted, but because the work of
proselytism would be checked: at present, from the culpable supineness
and indifference of many Christians, even in private families, infidelity
is sometimes heard, unblushingly, to avow its detestable principles; but
if the ban of proscription was placed upon its creed, the ears of
believers would not be shocked, and the principles of the inexperienced
endangered by direct or indirect attacks upon the great truths of our
most Holy Faith.

To effect a general co-operation of the great body of Christians, in the
cause of religion, would be, necessarily, a work of immense difficulty
and labour.  Much, however, might be accomplished, if more of those, whom
God has blessed with power and influence, set an example of labouring
zealously to promote His glory and the advancement of His kingdom.  How
often, amongst the higher and middle classes of society, has the
influence of a single individual, of talents and learning, but of still
more eminent piety, been employed with the most beneficial effects.  “A
word spoken in due season, how good is it,” {178} has been fully proved,
in the case of many, who, vibrating, as it were, in such perfect
equipoise between good and evil, that a feather would almost suffice to
incline the balance, have been led to “choose that good part, which shall
not be taken away from them;” {179a} by having books recommended or
supplied, by receiving friendly advice and encouragement, or by that most
eloquent and attractive of the modes of conveying instruction—the winning
grace and beauty of Christian example.  If, therefore, even a few
individuals or families, in any place, resolved that, by Divine grace,
“as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord;” {179b}  I will not be
“unequally yoked with unbelievers;” {179c} as far as in me lieth, no one
shall blaspheme the Holy Name by which I am called, nor malign the holy
cause which in baptism I have sworn to defend; infidelity would be much
put to shame and silence.  And it is the duty of all sincere Christians
to adopt this course, for they are bound to use every means in their
power, to discourage infidelity; they must not admit it into the intimacy
and confidence of domestic life; the sacrifice may sometime be painful,
but it must be made; there may not be any compromise of Christian
obligations, which forbid every unholy alliance: “for what fellowship
hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light
with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part
hath he that believeth, with an infidel?” {179d}  Believers must warn,
exhort, entreat, and, if in their power, instruct the unbeliever; but, if
in vain, then the divine command applies, “come out from among them, and
be ye separate:” if both parties be sincere, the contrariety of habits,
feelings, sentiments, and even of enjoyments, which exists between them,
must render familiar intercourse little agreeable or profitable to the
servant of God; who, if he be a weak or wavering disciple, may receive
much injury, where he cannot benefit; and, if he be a firm and
established disciple, when he finds his efforts to convince the gainsayer
fruitless, however ready he may still continue to be to lend assistance,
to admonish, and to observe all the courtesies of life; yet he cannot
assign a place in his heart, or receive as a chosen and favoured
associate, one who is not united with him in the sweet bonds of Christian
fellowship: there exists a bar, for the present, insuperable, why such
may not be addressed in the affectionate language of the Psalmist, “thou,
my companion, my guide, and mine own familiar friend;” and that bar is,
they cannot “take sweet counsel together, and walk in the house of God as
friends.” {180}

To defeat, however, the devices and to frustrate the labours of the
emissaries of infidelity amongst the labouring population of the country,
religious associations should be formed: for an evil of such magnitude
will never be remedied, until there are the more extensive and effective
results of well concerted and combined operations, in the place of the
desultory movements of partial or individual zeal.  This it may be said
is already done by societies, amongst which the venerable Society for
Promoting Christian Knowledge has stood forward with the most
praiseworthy zeal and activity to stem the tide of infidelity, which has
been, during the last year, spreading poison and death.  But increased
efficiency would be given even to the labours of this valuable Society,
by associations of the nature proposed; the object of which would be, not
only the present remedy, but the prevention of evils so dangerous to the
best interests of society.  And how great might be the blessed effects,
in checking the secret and open enemies of the Gospel, if its true
friends stood forward, and united heart and hand with their appointed
pastors—giving them all the aid of their rank and influence, and acting,
under their superintendence and direction, in the discharge of duties,
which may with propriety be delegated to laymen!

A writer, who has been already quoted at considerable length, to shew the
deep devices, the bold effrontery, the unwearied zeal, and the alarming
success of infidel teachers in the metropolis, asks the important
question, “what is to be done in a state of things like this?  Shall we
look calmly on, and say, let them alone; the authors and propagators of
the mischief are profligate and worthless men, whom nobody will trust;
and, therefore, too contemptible to be noticed.  Alas! we should only
deceive ourselves, and be led to neglect others, by taking this
flattering unction to our souls.—It is clear, therefore, that some active
and present remedy must be brought to meet the evil; and there is none
which presents itself so readily and so naturally, as that which may be
derived from the arguments, and the testimony, and the advice of the true
friends of Christianity, particularly of the ministers.”  But the whole
labour must not devolve upon the clergy: not from any wish to spare them,
whose duty it is ever to be found in the van, in every attack upon the
enemies of the Lord,—and ever to bear the brunt of the battle; but
because the active co-operation of the laity is essential to the success
of the undertaking.  It has been the artful policy of the infidel
teachers to endeavour to persuade their ignorant auditors that our holy
religion is a system of priestcraft; in the preservation of which its
ministers will always, necessarily, be actively engaged, because they are
deeply interested.  The deluded followers, therefore, of this satanic
school, may look with more than a suspicious eye upon the anxious labours
of their pastor to undeceive them; they may read in it a direct
confirmation of what they have heard, and ascribe solely to self-interest
what emanates from the pious zeal and sense of duty of him who “watches
over them as one that is to give account.”  But when they see associated
with the minister, in the work of Christian charity and instruction,
laymen, whom they know to have no inducement to support a system of
fraud, and whom they may believe to be too honest and honourable to
promote the cause of error, they are more likely to banish the suspicion
of unworthy motives, which, in the present distempered state of their
minds, opposes an insuperable bar to the reception of religious truth.

We have had in all our towns, and even in many large villages, boards of
health formed to visit and enquire into the state of the poor; let
similar religious boards be established under the direction of the
parochial clergy, to promote their spiritual health.  Numerous and great
are the evils which have arisen from the population of many parishes
having increased beyond the means of accommodation in the parish churches
and almost beyond the personal visitation and superintendence of the
parochial clergy.  It has given rise to much almost compulsory secession
from the Church, has weakened the influence of the Clergy, and has been
productive of the still greater evils of immorality, irreligion, and
impiety.  Plans, therefore, have been drawn up and acted upon with the
most happy effect in some places, for the formation of visiting
societies.  These have already received the sanction of two prelates, who
preside over populous dioceses, the Bishops of London and Chester, who
have both recommended them in their Charges to their Clergy.  “The
vastness of the field,” observes the Bishop of London, “which demands
their exertions, and their own insufficiency to meet that demand
according to the promptings of their conscience, and the impulse of a
truly Christian charity, are matters which lie heavily upon the mind of
many faithful zealous clergymen.  In the discharge of those duties which,
in a populous parish, far exceed the physical abilities of the strongest
and most devoted minister, great assistance may be derived from parochial
visiting associations, acting in subordination to the Clergy.  By kind,
yet not intrusive enquiry into the wants, both temporal and spiritual, of
the poor; by well-timed aid, by encouragement, and counsel; by
exhortations to the duty of reading the Scriptures, of public worship, of
sanctifying the Lord’s Day, of regulating the behaviour of their
children; by directing them, in cases of sickness, or of ignorance, or of
troubled conscience, to their appointed pastor, such an association may
work incalculable good, and become powerfully, though indirectly,
instrumental in preaching the Gospel to the poor.  But it is incumbent on
me to caution the parochial Clergy against relinquishing the
superintendence and direction of these auxiliary labourers; and against
delegating to them their own peculiar functions and duties, as the
commissioned interpreters of Scripture, as the Lord’s remembrancers for
his people, and as the appointed guides of their devotion.  There is a
special promise of blessing annexed to ministerial service; and the sense
of that specialty ought not to be effaced from the minds of our flocks,
by the permitted intrusion of laymen, however pious and zealous, into
that which belongs to our own peculiar office.  If this be not attended
to, you must expect that tares will spring up in the wheat, and that your
visiting societies will become so many nurseries of schism.” {185}

The Bishop of Chester, after giving a striking description of the
transforming power of Divine grace, thus continues—“And can these things
be?  ‘O Lord God thou knowest.’  Earnestness, disinterestedness,
simplicity, godly sincerity, patience in teaching, watchfulness in
seizing the favourable moment for counsel, are known to overcome even
that which seems most hopeless; the effects of natural corruption,
inflamed by evil example, and strengthened by habits of wilful
disobedience.

“It will be asked, however, ‘Who is sufficient,’ physically ‘sufficient
for these things?  Certainly in our larger parishes it is not possible
for the strength or activity of the Clergy alone to provide for such
individual instruction.  But, there is a resource at hand: when the
population is moderate, nothing is wanting but resolution and
contrivance; and in the case of a denser population, the bane and the
antidote, the evil and the remedy are found together.  The same
population, which presses so heavily, affords also that variety of ranks
and degree of superior education, that many fellow-workers may assist the
minister, and diminish his labours.  In this manner the Apostles were
enabled to execute the manifold concerns which lay upon them.”—“They have
left us an example.  Let the minister of a populous district, using
careful discrimination of character, select such as ‘are worthy,’ and of
‘good report,’ and assign them their several employments under his
direction: they may lessen his own labour by visiting and examining the
schools, by reading and praying with the infirm and aged, by consoling
the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and pursuing the many
nameless ways by which it is in the power of one Christian to benefit and
relieve another.  Such charity, even more than any other charity, is
useful to the giver as well as to the receiver: it occupies minds, which,
for want of engagement, might otherwise prey upon themselves: and it
occupies them in a way which better fits them for eternity: in religion,
as in worldly matters, we often learn our best lessons by teaching.  What
image more exemplifying the reality of pastoral care, what more truly
Christian picture can be presented to our contemplation, than that of a
minister uniting with himself the best disposed and the most competent
portion of his parishioners, and superintending counsels, and directing
plans which have God for their object, and the eternal welfare of his
people for their end; seizing every opportunity of general and individual
good, correcting mischiefs at their first rising, providing for the
spiritual wants of every different age and class, and thus striving, as
far as may be allowed, to ‘present every man perfect in Christ
Jesus?’”—“Nor is this any visionary notion; pleasing in idea, but
impracticable in reality.  Numerous parishes, of different degrees of
population, have been brought under such discipline with more or less
success.  And I feel convinced that whoever is anxious to promote the
glory of God, to assist the most important interests of his
fellow-creatures, to confirm the security of his country, or maintain the
stability of his Church, can ensure none of those great objects more
effectively than by means like these.  Without them, in some of our
crowded districts of dense and extended population, the Church is lost
sight of, parochial distinctions are obliterated, and the reciprocal
charities and duties of the pastor and the flock are forgotten by the
people, because it is physically impossible that they should be
satisfactorily discharged.”

The awful visitation which has fallen upon the country renders such
societies at this time of increased value and importance.  They are
calculated powerfully to assist the labours of the Clergy in endeavouring
to improve, to the religious advantage of their flocks, the apprehension
which is so general.  Seasons of alarm and affliction are often
peculiarly favourable for the reception of Christian instruction: “the
fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;” and when men look around
them and see or hear of death under its most terrible forms, and discover
the insufficiency of human means to prevent or remedy the evil they
dread, they may “fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in
hell;” {188a} and thus be led to flee to Him who is able also to save
them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him. {188b}  Immense might be
the benefit, which would, through the blessing of God on their labours,
accrue to the cause of religion, if parochial visiting associations were
established generally throughout the kingdom, under the direction of the
Clergy.  They might form channels through which the valuable tracts
against vice and infidelity, which the Society for Promoting Christian
Knowledge is now circulating, might be more widely distributed; through
which short addresses, and strong appeals to the conscience, and earnest
calls to repentance, in direct reference to the pestilence, might be
brought home to every family.  They might constitute a medium through
which the parochial Clergy might communicate with every part of the most
populous and extensive parishes regularly and frequently; through which
they might diffuse much bounty, kindness, instruction, and exhortation to
their poor and ignorant parishioners.  It is impossible not to see at
once that such associations might be so framed as to be productive of the
most extensive and beneficial results to the Church and people of
England; they are calculated to restore the influence of the Clergy, and
extend their sphere of usefulness amongst their flocks.  Notwithstanding
all the arts of the enemies of our Establishment, the people of England
always have loved, and still love their Church: wherever a contrary
feeling subsists, it may be always traced to a local or temporary cause;
but still it must be admitted, that the immense population of some
parishes, under existing circumstances, is likely to produce estrangement
from the appointed pastor; an evil, which the visiting societies are
admirably adapted to remedy.  Some may object to such associations as
being likely to encroach upon the separate and peculiar duties of the
ministerial character: such would be an evil of the most serious nature,
for no one must presume to intrude himself uncalled upon the priest’s
office: but, though it is true every good is capable of abuse, this is an
abuse which may be always especially guarded against by the clergyman who
selects and controls the visitors, receives their reports, and
superintends their operations: whilst as a further security against the
perversion of such associations to party or sectarian views, it might be
made a standing rule, that no tract should be circulated in any parish,
which had not received the sanction of the incumbent or his curate.  To
arrange the machinery and frame the laws of a general system of parochial
visiting societies, must be a work of time; but experience has already
proved that they may be so framed and conducted as to be productive of
great and unmixed advantage.  And never could such aid come more
opportunely than at the present time: we have already seen the number,
fierceness, and malignity of the enemies, who beleaguer our Zion, “and
cry, down with her, down with her, even to the ground.”  The assistance
of the laity, who are faithfully attached and devoted to the cause of
true religion, will, therefore, be invaluable, at such a time, in
defeating the designs of those who seek to alienate the minds of the
flock from their regular pastors, to corrupt their principles, and make
them ready instruments for the execution of their deep and wicked
schemes: nor will the co-operation of pious laymen, with the clergy, in
using every means to bring the great bulk of the people to humble them
selves before God, in the day of their visitation, be a less important
service.  The Christian minister resembles a beacon on a dangerous coast,
which warns against sand-banks, sunken rocks, and precipitous shores: in
fair weather, its single bright and steady light, which, shining through
the darkness, guides in safety the passing vessels, is alone sufficient;
but when the tempest rages, when fogs obscure its brightness, when some
vessels, having struck on sunken rocks, are foundering; when others have
grounded on sand-banks, and others are stranded amid—

                “The impervious horrors of a lee-ward shore;”

then other, and most prompt assistance, is required; signal guns are to
be fired, the life-boat launched, and the various life-preserving
apparatus prepared.  God has seen fit to cast our lot on troublesome
times; the storms of passion howl around our Church, and her light cannot
penetrate the mists of prejudice: the barks of thousands, therefore,
committed to the stormy ocean of life,—

                “Youth at the helm, and Pleasure at the prow,”

are in danger of striking on the sunken rocks of secret doubts, or of
being wrecked on the exposed and rugged shore of dark despairing
infidelity: gladly, therefore, will “God’s watchman,” who looks with
alarm and distress from his watch-tower, on this scene of imminent
danger, avail himself of the friendly hand which offers to aid him in
affording rescue from the impending destruction.  Oh! to the ministers of
the Gospel,—who feel how much the value and responsibility of their
sacred office is increased in times like the present; who are almost
overwhelmed by a sense of what is required of them as “overseers over
God’s heritage,” as “watchmen in Israel,” as “ministers of Christ, and
stewards of the mysteries of God,”—assistance from pious, zealous, and
discreet laymen, acting under their direction, must be peculiarly
valuable and acceptable.  Oh! only those who “have always in remembrance
into how high a dignity and to how weighty an office and charge they have
been called, to teach and to premonish, to feed and to provide for the
Lord’s family; to seek for Christ’s sheep that are dispersed abroad, and
for his children who are in the midst of this naughty world that they may
be saved through Christ for ever,” {192} can fully estimate the value of
any aid, however feeble, which comes to them at a time, when maligned and
vilified, they find the difficulty of a due discharge of their sacred
duties immensely increased by the impediments thrown in their way by the
enemies of the Gospel.

Perhaps there never was a time which more than the present required zeal
blended with discretion, firmness tempered with meekness, and
faithfulness softened by charity, in the Christian minister: well does
the admonition of our blessed Lord to his disciples apply to those whom,
in this day, he has called to be pastors under Himself—“be ye wise as
serpents and harmless as doves.”  There are two other passages of
Scripture which appear to present a striking view of an important duty of
the clerical office in times like the present, and of the mode in which
it is to be exercised: the command addressed to Isaiah, “Cry aloud, spare
not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their
transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins.” {193a}  And the
instructions given by St. Paul to Timothy, “The servant of the Lord must
not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in
meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God, peradventure,
will give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth.” {193b}  It
is the duty of Christian ministers to exhort and console each other in
the difficult work they have to perform; “to put one another always in
remembrance;” to “bear one another’s burdens;” to “admonish one another
in the spirit of meekness and brotherly love.”  How high is the dignity
of the ministerial office!  “Let a man so account of us, as of the
ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.” {194a}  “Now
then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us,
we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled unto God.” {194b}  How
awful its responsibility!  “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto
the house of Israel; therefore, hear the word of my mouth, and give them
warning from me: when I say unto the wicked, thou shalt surely die; and
thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his
wicked way to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his
iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.” {194c}  “Take
heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which the
Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He
hath purchased with his own blood.” {194d}  How great the satisfaction,
how sweet the joys of a successful ministry!  “For what is our hope or
joy, or crown of rejoicing?  Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord
Jesus Christ, at his coming?  For ye are our glory and joy.” {194e}
“Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction
and distress by your faith: for now we live, if ye stand fast in the
Lord: for what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the
joy, wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God?” {195a}  “Therefore,
my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand
fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.” {195b}  “Holding forth the word of
life, that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in
vain, neither laboured in vain.” {195c}  And how rich its reward!  “Let
him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his ways
shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” {195d}
“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament,
and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and
ever.” {195e}  Many distinguished bishops and pastors, who have shone as
bright lights in our church, have strongly recommended that every
clergyman should have his appointed seasons in which he “communes with
his own heart, and in his chamber, and is still;” meditates deeply upon
his important, responsible, and sacred office; reads, studies, and prays
over the ordination service; and diligently, strictly, and impartially
examines into how far he has been, through Divine grace, enabled to keep
his ordination vows—to perform his ordination obligations.  Such a
practice is of such manifest propriety and use, that doubtless it
prevails extensively: and high indeed, is the standard of duty, and
strict the requirements of service, which our Church imposes upon every
minister: “See that you never cease your labour, your care, and
diligence, until ye have done all that lieth in you to bring all such as
are committed to your charge unto that agreement in the faith and
knowledge of God, and to that ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ,
that there be no place left for error in religion, or for viciousness of
life.” {196a}

The prophet Isaiah thus prays to the Lord: “Yea, in the way of Thy
judgments, O Lord, have we waited for Thee; the desire of our soul is to
Thy name, and to the remembrance of Thee.  With my soul have I desired
Thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me, will I seek Thee early;
FOR WHEN THY JUDGMENTS ARE IN THE EARTH, THE INHABITANTS OF THE WORLD
WILL LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS.” {196b}  How “instant in season, and out of
season,” must all the ministers of the Gospel be, that through the
blessing of God, they may make the Divine visitation, which has fallen on
the land, conducive to the religious improvement of their several flocks.
The very fear of the consequences of intemperance, as being considered to
predispose the system towards this dreadful disease, has, in many places,
operated to the production of a great external reformation of the habits
of life; let then the favourable moment be seized, and every means used,
that the inner man may be converted to God.  It is not sufficient, that
the pestilence should be considered as a judgment, and thus made the
occasion of private and public exhortation; the press should teem with
tracts on this most important and engrossing subject; and there should be
diffused throughout the country, under every form, and adapted to every
rank in life, admonition and entreaty for all to improve to their soul’s
health the spread of a pestilence, which so often destroys the body which
it attacks.  Every clergyman has his own sphere of influence within
which, at least, his labours may be beneficially exercised; and if, by
publishing, he benefits only those who are principally dependent on him
for religious instruction, he should consider himself well repaid:—but
who know how far they may be instruments in God’s hands for good to their
fellow men?  The Almighty often selects feeble agents to accomplish great
results, that it may be seen, that “neither is he that planteth any
thing, neither he that watereth: but God that giveth the increase.” {197}
And oh! what a source of joy there is to the true believer in hoping he
may be an humble instrument in God’s hands of “winning souls to Christ.”
The excellent Doddridge, in the preface to his “Rise and Progress of
Religion in the Soul,” says, he should consider his labour far more than
amply compensated, if his work, through the Divine blessing, be made
instrumental to the conversion _of one sinner_.  What a field is now
opened to the ministers of the Gospel, in which they may hope, through
God’s grace and blessing, “_to turn many to righteousness_;” for in times
of great national apprehension and danger the cause of true religion
often advances and flourishes.  And oh! how sweet in such seasons, how
doubly blessed—blessed both to those who minister, and to those who are
ministered unto—is the faithful and zealous discharge of the duties of
their high and holy calling, who are commissioned to pour the balm of
consolation on the wounded spirit, to bind up the broken-hearted, to
sooth the terrors of affrighted conscience, and to lead the humble, and
contrite, and heavy-laden, to the Saviour, that they may take His yoke
upon them, and find rest unto their souls.

Archbishop Leighton, the bright ornament of Scottish Episcopacy, has
forcibly stated the nature and obligations of the Christian ministry, in
commenting upon that most instructive passage in the First general
Epistle of St. Peter, “Feed the flock of God, which is among you, taking
the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy
lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage,
but being ensamples to the flock.  And when the Chief Shepherd shall
appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” {199}
“The duty enjoined,” writes the Archbishop, “is, _Feed the flock of God_.
Every step of the way of our salvation hath on it the print of infinite
majesty, wisdom, and goodness; and this among the rest, that men, sinful,
weak men, are made subservient in that great work of bringing Christ and
souls to meet; that by the foolishness of preaching (or what appears so
to carnal wisdom), the chosen of God are called, and come unto Jesus, and
are made _wise unto salvation_; and that the life which is conveyed to
them by the _word of life_, in the hands of poor men, is by the same
means preserved and advanced.  And this is the standing work of the
ministry, and this the thing here bound upon them that are employed in
it, _to feed the flock of God that is among them_.  Jesus Christ
descended to purchase a Church, and ascended to provide and furnish it,
to send down his Spirit: _He ascended_, _and gave gifts_, particularly
_for the work of the ministry_, and the great use of them is, _to feed
the flock of God_.”

“Not to say any more of this usual resemblance of a flock, importing the
weakness and tenderness of the Church, the continual need she stands in
of inspection, and guidance, and defence, and the tender care of the
Chief Shepherd for these things; the phrase enforces the present duty of
subordinate pastors; their care and diligence in feeding of that flock.
The due rule of discipline not excluded, the main part of feeding is by
doctrine, leading them into the wholesome and _green pastures_ of saving
truths, revealed in the Gospel, accommodating the way of teaching to
their condition and capacity; to be, as much as may be, particularly
acquainted with it, and suit diligently and prudently their doctrine to
it; to _feed the sheep_, those more advanced; _to feed the lambs_, the
younger and weaker; to have special care of the infirm; to learn of their
Master the Great Shepherd, to _bind up that which is broken_, _and
strengthen that which is sick_, {200a} those that are broken in spirit,
that are exercised with temptations, _and gently to lead those that are
with young_, {200b} in whom the inward work of grace is as in the
conception, and they heavy and weak with the weight of it, and the many
difficulties and doubtings, which are frequent companions and symptoms of
that work.  Oh! what dexterity and skilfulness, what diligence, and above
all, what affection, and bowels of compassion, are needful for this task!
_Who is sufficient for these things_? {200c}  Who would not faint, and
give over in it, were not our Lord the _Chief Shepherd_; were not all our
sufficiency laid up in His rich fulness, and all our insufficiency
covered in His gracious acceptance?” {201}  Animated by a high sense of
duty, and enlightened, strengthened, and guided by an abundant outpouring
of Divine grace, may all the “pastors and teachers,” who have been
ordained, “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the
ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ;” “Preach the word, be
instant in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all
long-suffering and doctrine;” “Till we all come in the unity of the
faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto
the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth
be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind
of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness whereby they
lie in wait to deceive: but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into
Him in all things which is the Head, even Christ: from whom the whole
body, fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint
supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every
part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love.”
God grant that none of His servants may faint or grow weary under the
increased weight of duty laid upon them by the circumstances of the
times!  May they all labour, and “pray without ceasing for the church and
people of God,—remembering that the effectual fervent prayer of a
righteous man availeth much!”  When faithful to their great Master, they
have high encouragements to excite, holy consolations to cheer, and
heavenly aid to direct and bless their unremitting exertions in His
service, whose weak and “unprofitable,” but still faithful and attached
“servants” they are.  Let not any such fear but that they will obtain a
blessing on their labours, an answer to their prayers, from that gracious
Being whose ministers they are, and the advancement of whose kingdom they
seek.  Never did the Lord fail his servants; His “exceeding great and
precious promises” are all sure and steadfast, are all “yea and in him,
Amen.”  “For He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee; so
that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what
man shall do unto me:” {202a}  He hath said, “Lo, I am with you alway,
even unto the end of the world, Amen.” {202b}  May each individual pastor
of the Church of Christ have grace to receive and act upon, as addressed
to himself, the concluding admonition of St Paul to Timothy: “Watch thou
in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make
full proof of thy ministry:” then “The Lord shall be unto thee an
everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.” {202c}  And when the time of
his earthly stewardship is on the eve of completion,—the period of his
allotted ministry about to expire, then he may hope that upon his last
hours will be poured some portion of the joyful testimony of an approving
conscience; some measure of that blessed assurance of confirmed faith,
which cheered and supported the dying Hooker; “I plead not my
righteousness, but the forgiveness of my unrighteousness through His
merits who died to purchase pardon for penitent sinners.  Let not mine, O
Lord, but Thy will be done!  God hath heard my daily petitions; for I am
at peace with all men, and He is at peace with me.  From such blessed
assurance, I feel that inward joy which this world can neither give nor
take from me.  My conscience beareth me this witness; and this witness
makes the thoughts of death joyful.”  Then he may hope that the approach
of the dark shadows of death will be illumined by some beams of that
light from above, which, with the full blaze of triumphant faith, shed a
holy flood of radiance and glory over the close of the ministry of the
great Apostle of the Gentiles: “I am now ready to be offered, and the
time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have
finished my course, I have kept the faith.  Henceforth there is laid up
for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge,
shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to all those who love
his appearing.” {204a}

Let the laity also be reminded of what they owe to God and society at
this eventful time.  There are various modes by which they can advance
the cause of religion.  The value of their services in co-operation with
the Clergy in forming visiting societies, has been already stated.  But
as their situation and engagements in life preclude many from taking an
active part in any work of Christian charity, it must be a high
satisfaction to them who are humble disciples of that blessed Lord, “who
went about doing good,” {204b} to have an opportunity of endeavouring at
once to follow His example, and obey His commands, by means of public
societies and institutions.  The best interests of man would be much
promoted, if the noble, and great, and affluent in the land, who fear
God, would make a more decided demonstration of their sentiments; and
give the full weight of their rank and influence, and contribute
liberally, to the support of societies, the object of which is the
advancement of true religion.  In such times as the present, it is awful
to witness the apathy, supineness, and indifference in the cause of the
Lord, which prevail so extensively in the world, amongst those who
profess themselves to be His servants.  But disregard for the spiritual
wants of others, at all times highly sinful, is doubly so now; and
unwillingness, through fear of ridicule or misconstruction, to manifest a
warm zeal for the honour of the Lord and a decided devotion to His
cause—at all times a wretched weakness—must, when His enemies are active
and powerful, be peculiarly offensive to Him, who has said, “Whosoever,
therefore, shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous
and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when
he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” {205a}  Let,
therefore, all lukewarm professors of religion be addressed in the words
of Joshua, “If it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose this day
whom ye will serve:” {205b} let them be warned in the words of the
Saviour, “He that is not with me, is against me, and he that gathereth
not with me, scattereth abroad.” {205c}

It is the high and peculiar distinction of our country, that we have not
only charitable institutions for the prevention and cure of many of the
physical evils, and for the relief and solace of many of the moral evils
of life; but we have societies for the supply of the religious wants of
our home population, of our colonies, and of the whole family of man,
wherever British commerce, and, with it, British influence, extend.  This
is not the place to enter upon the subject of all these societies; their
bare enumeration, with the most brief statement of their several objects,
would fill many pages; perhaps, therefore, to particularize any, where
all have merit, may be deemed unjust towards others; but every consistent
member of the Church of England is bound strenuously to support, and
every clergyman zealously to advocate, societies, whose professed object
is the inculcation of doctrines which he firmly believes, the use of a
ritual which he fondly loves, the observance of ordinances which he
highly values and reverences.  Of these it may be right to make some
brief notice, not only because some of them have not received that
encouragement and support to which their importance entitles them, but
because they are peculiarly calculated to remedy the existence, and to
prevent the recurrence, of many of the evils which at present endanger
our civil and religious institutions.  First in order stands the National
Society for promoting the education of the poor in the principles of the
Established Church.  Then, ascending to a higher grade in society, we
have an institution, King’s College and School, to supply the youth of
the middle classes, in the metropolis, with a liberal education, founded
on the basis of religious knowledge.  This institution is only in its
infancy, but if properly supported, it might extend its ramifications
throughout the kingdom, diffusing every where the beneficial fruit of
true religion, sound learning, and useful knowledge.  It is much to be
wished that similar colleges and schools, in connexion with King’s
College, were established in all our great towns, in like manner as
schools every where throughout the kingdom have sprung from that prolific
parent, with which they are in union, the Central School in Baldwin’s
Gardens.  Our National Schools are well calculated early to train
children in the path of godliness; to accustom them to habits of
cleanliness, neatness, and order; to excite them to industry and
application, to habituate them to proper restraint and discipline, to
supply them with the knowledge suitable to their station in life; and,
above all, to impress deeply the mind with the great truths of the
Gospel, and to store it richly with passages of Scripture, which, once
thoroughly learnt, are rarely forgotten, but may, in after life, prove in
the hour of temptation a safeguard, and in seasons of sickness or of
sorrow, a sweet and never-failing solace.  If the minds of our
manufacturing and agricultural population had been fortified with the
principles which are now instilled in these schools, into the children of
the poor, the success of the teachers of infidelity and sedition would
have been far different from what it has unfortunately proved.  The
system of instruction adopted in King’s College is precisely the one
which has been recommended as alone affording any security that education
will be rendered conducive to the advancement of the best, the eternal
interests of man.  Every facility is afforded for the acquisition of
knowledge, but the relative importance of its several departments is
steadily kept in view, and the balance of studies is carefully adjusted,
that, if possible, none may be pursued to the neglect of others, but all
receiving their due degree of attention, religion and morals, literature
and science, may occupy their proper place in the plan of education.
This institution, through the Divine blessing, may be of great value in
checking the progress of unsettled and unsound opinions amongst a class
of men which is daily becoming more influential in society; whilst there
will be also a better safeguard for the future, in the foundation of
sound religious principles, which is designed to be laid; and which
should ever be a primary object, for not only is the prevention easier
than the cure, but the poison may spread where the antidote is never, or
fruitlessly, applied.  If we view then in connexion, our Infant,
National, and Sunday Schools, in full operation; King’s College adapted
to branch into similar institutions in our great towns; and our
old-established Grammar Schools and Universities continuing to flourish;
we shall see that these are calculated to form one vast chain, which, in
its concatenation, would unite the great bulk of the population of the
country with the established Church.

Nor is the attention of the Church confined to the education of the youth
of her communion.  She has a Society also to afford the poor adequate
accommodation when attending religious worship, of which, in some places,
the great proportion of them were long deprived, from the increase of
population, and want of free seats, in the parish churches.  Parliament,
with proper liberality, has at different timed placed certain sums at the
disposal of Commissioners; to assist in remedying this great evil, which
has inflicted the severest injury on the moral and religious character of
the lower classes in England.  Much has, therefore, been done, but still
more remains to be done; and though perhaps the least regarded, still the
Society for building and enlarging churches is of great importance to the
interests of religion, and therefore well deserving of the support of the
friends of the Establishment.  The valuable and venerable Society for
Promoting Christian Knowledge completes the work of Christian charity and
instruction, by accompanying, as it were, the poor man to his home,
supplying, either gratuitously or at very reduced prices, the Holy
Scriptures, the book of common prayer, and tracts and works designed to
correct erroneous opinions and immoral habits, and to promote soundness
of faith and holiness of life.  Nor is this the utmost limit of the
Society’s labours among our home population: parochial lending libraries
have been also established by it; that in every parish where the desire
of knowledge has been called forth by the national schools, works which
combine amusement with instruction—works which inform the head and
improve the heart—may be accessible, free of all cost to the poor man, in
his hour of leisure.  It is thus these two most valuable Societies,
acting in co-operation, aid in the due and effective discharge of their
important duties the parochial clergy, who are thereby enabled to diffuse
amongst the indigent and ignorant of their several parishes—to a degree
far beyond what the exertions of individuals, however pious and wealthy,
are likely to effect—the blessings of Christian education and Christian
knowledge.  Great are the claims, therefore, of these societies upon the
members of the Church of England, for their support, that all of her
communion may be educated, nourished, and preserved in those principles
of saving faith and holy obedience, which, drawn directly from Scripture,
are summed up in the articles, embodied in the liturgy, and explained in
the homilies of our pure and reformed branch of the church of Christ.

The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge extends her operations
beyond our home population: in co-operation with the Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, it has laboured most
diligently and with very encouraging success, in the wide and waste field
of our numerous colonies.  Missionaries, catechists, and schoolmasters,
are sent into every land where we have possessions; and congregations
have been formed and churches built where the glad tidings of the Gospel
had never before been heard.  But, however cheering what has been done
and is doing for the spread of Christianity may be, the painful
confession must be made that this country has never yet, in any adequate
degree, discharged the religious obligations she owes her colonies. {211}
The sceptre of Great Britain rules over one hundred millions who are said
to be ignorant of the Gospel.  Great and splendid have been the instances
of individual liberality, but as a nation we have not made those
strenuous exertions, those sacrifices which duty requires: we have been
unmindful of the heavy debt of gratitude and service which we owe to the
Ruler of nations.  Why are we to suppose that Divine Providence has
bestowed upon us such a vast colonial empire?  Not to swell the pomp and
increase the power and wealth of a little island, which has been proudly
styled,

                    “The Island, Empress of the Sea:”

but that we may be instruments in the hands of the Great and Gracious
Lord of the whole human race in benefiting mankind.  And how can we best
accomplish this great end?  A Christian nation should make it an object
of paramount importance to diffuse the light of that Gospel, in which it
has itself for ages rejoiced as the best gift, the holiest privilege, it
enjoys at the hands of God.  Has then this Christian nation so acted?
Alas! there is one circumstance, which painfully occupies at this moment
the attention of the friends of Christianity, here and in India, which
may suffice to answer in the negative.  Bishop after bishop has been
allowed to go forth, with the spirit of a martyr, and to meet a martyr’s
death in India, where the diocese is admitted by all to be so extensive,
that the strongest constitution must, from the effects of the climate,
sink under even an imperfect discharge of the overwhelming load of duty.
And yet repeated applications for the appointment of bishops to the
several presidencies, by which the cause of religion amongst the
Christian, and the spread of the Gospel amongst the Heathen population,
would be very greatly advanced, have been up to this time refused, it is
much to be feared, from an unwillingness to incur the expense of further
episcopal appointments.  May Bishop Turner be the last, who, humanly
speaking, is to be thus sacrificed!  For it would inflict a heavy load of
sin upon a Christian people to be not only lavish of life, of talents,
and of piety, but to prefer to the cause of God, who has so abundantly
blessed us, an economy, which, however wise and proper when rightly
practised, becomes miserable and wicked when allowed to operate to the
hinderance of the Gospel.  An appeal is never made in vain to the good
feelings of the people of England, and the present is an occasion, on
which all who value not merely the cause of religion, but of humanity,
should make a declaration of their opinions; and come forward liberally
to the support of Societies whose object is so important and
praiseworthy, and whose means are so inadequate to several claims upon
them.  The reports of the Societies for Promoting Christian Knowledge,
and for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, for the year
1831, cannot be too strongly recommended to the attention of the public.
The comparatively small support which the latter receives from annual
subscription must be mainly ascribed to the nature and extent of its
labours being so little known; for it is not the character of the English
people to allow a valuable Society to languish from want of funds.  And
yet, during the past year, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel
in Foreign Parts must have suspended in some places the great work it is
carrying on, if it had not allowed its expenditure to exceed greatly its
receipts.  Such is the sad truth we learn from the report now before the
public, which pleads the cause of Christianity in distant lands, so
powerfully, and yet so meekly, that it cannot fail to awaken sympathy in
every religious breast, and call forth assistance from every liberal
hand.  “According to its power, yea, and beyond its power,” it has opened
the hand of Christian bounty in answer to the numerous and pressing calls
that have been made upon it: and the consequence has been that the means
of meeting such calls have become every year more insufficient.  Even on
the supposition (a supposition, however, which benevolence will not allow
to be entertained for a moment), that all new applications for its
assistance are to be disregarded, the Society will require an addition of
at least 10,000_l._ to its yearly income for the fulfilment of
engagements into which it has entered.  Its deficiencies for many years
have been supplied by large reductions of its capital.  The single fact
that it has been compelled to sell nearly 70,000_l._ stock must fill its
friends with serious uneasiness.  For unless its funds are very largely
increased, it is manifest that they must soon be exhausted.  But, surely,
so sad a result can never be allowed!  There is too much benevolence in
the Christian public of this favoured nation, to permit the abandonment
of so great a work as that by which the light of the Gospel, in its
purity, is communicated to the benighted nations of the East.  Who among
us will be wanting, in most earnest efforts, to save our brethren in the
colonies from so sad an injury as the loss of that religious instruction,
and those means of grace which are to be regarded as their birthright?
Who will allow the many excellent men who have left their native country
as missionaries, with the purest zeal, and the most earnest desire to
promote the spiritual welfare of their fellow-creatures, through
incessant toil in distant lands, to be deprived of the moderate but
necessary support, that has hitherto been afforded by this Society?  Who
will allow the no less valuable persons, who have been diligently trained
in the colonies, almost from their cradles, to carry forward the same
Christian designs, as missionaries, and catechists, and school-masters,
to be now cast upon the world, and exposed to all the miseries of want?

“What shall be said, if it fail of attaining its full measure of good,
through the indifference of those whom God has not only ‘blessed with all
spiritual blessings in Christ,’ but to whom He has also largely afforded
the temporal means of imparting those blessings to others?  What shall be
said if they, who by the abundant mercy of God are themselves supplied
with the bread of life, suffer their fellow-creatures, whose necessities
are plainly pointed out to them, to perish with hunger?  Your committee
will not contemplate the possibility of such a deplorable case as this.
Grateful for the support which the Society has already received, and
through which it has been enabled to effect so much, they will not allow
themselves to doubt, but that Providence will now, and from time to time,
raise it up friends who will furnish it with more ample and effectual
means for the continuance and extension of its ‘labours of love.’”

Every friend of religion must earnestly pray that a hope so humbly and
devoutly expressed may be fulfilled, and that the Lord may bless and
prosper these Societies, in sowing the good seed of the word, in a field
of immense extent, and, in many parts, of the most unpromising
barrenness.  For they embrace—to particularize only the most important
missions—the widely dispersed population of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick,
and the Canadas; the numerous islands of the West Indies; the great
Peninsula of India; and the various settlements in Australia.  And it is
gratifying and highly satisfactory to be able to quote the impartial
testimony of a distinguished individual, the late Governor of Nova
Scotia, to their efficiency and value: “In countries in which I have
resided, and which I have visited—in remote and almost desert places, I
have witnessed the blessings and comforts of our holy religion,
dispensed, by your servants, to persons who otherwise might pass from the
cradle to the grave, without the blessings or benefits, the comforts or
the consolations of any appropriate holy office, to sanctify their
entrance into life, to receive them into the Christian family, to
solemnize those connexions, on the proper observance of which the moral
constitution of society essentially depends, and finally to perform the
last sad offices over departed humanity.  In my own person—in my own
family—in visitations the most awful—in severe domestic affliction, I
have partaken of those blessings and consolations, administered by your
servants.”  Let, therefore, the parliament and people of the United
Kingdom contribute liberally, not merely towards the continuance, but the
extension, of the important labours of a Society, whose only fault has
been,—if it be a fault,—that it has so shrunk from any appearance of
obtruding its wants, that it has not sufficiently made known its claims
upon the friends of religion; who must be at once desirous that our
countrymen in our distant dependencies should not be debarred from the
exercise of religious worship; and that the light of the Gospel may be
shed upon those, who, though living under the government of Great
Britain, are lying in darkness and the shadow of death.  And if there be
any whose hearts expand not with that diffusive spirit of Christian
philanthropy, which ardently desires to promote the spiritual welfare of
the whole human race; let them at least be sensible to the religious
wants, and alive to the religious improvement of their countrymen, who
are established in some of the numerous colonies of this vast empire.  In
this great commercial country, in which the spirit of enterprise or the
calls of duty lead so many forth often at an early age into distant
lands, there must be an immense number of influential persons, who have a
direct interest in this provision for the religious instruction of the
residents in our several dependencies.  And oh! how consolatory must it
prove to the heart of a parent, or even of a friend, who sends forth a
youth to seek his fortune far from friends, kindred, and home, to know
that he will not be deprived of the public exercise of those religious
duties in which he has been early trained.  Oh! how immeasurably would
the pain of separation, which may be for life—which may be for ever—be
increased, if there was a melancholy certainty, that at the most
dangerous period of life, when the passions are strong, the judgment
weak, and the principles often unsettled; and where the temptations to
sensual indulgences abound, and the restraints of parental authority are
removed; there was no religious monitor, no duly ordained pastor, to
instruct in health, to cheer in sorrow, to strengthen in sickness, and,
it may be, to support and console in death, those who are pursuing an
useful and honourable course far from their dearest earthly ties, far
from what is ever dear to the heart of all—their native land—the land of
their fathers.

In entering thus more at length on the subject of the Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts than on any other Society, an
exception has been made in its favour, because it has never yet received
that encouragement and support to which its most important object and
valuable labours so well entitle it: but imperfect as the notice of other
Societies has been, it would be still more so if concluded without any
mention of the Church Missionary Society, and the British and Foreign
Bible Society.  The first of these is formed with the design of
endeavouring to obey to the fullest extent the parting command of our
blessed Lord, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every
creature:” {219} it is not confined by any limits, but wherever the
opening presents itself, thither the indefatigable, zealous, and faithful
missionary is sent: and the Lord has greatly prospered their labours.
The latter, whether we regard its scope or its machinery, is a mighty and
wonderful engine, capable of producing immense benefit to the whole human
race: its scope is not merely the supply of the inhabitants of the
British dominions with the Scriptures, but their translation into every
language, their dissemination in every land; and its vast and complicated
machinery has been put into operation in every quarter of the globe.  It
may suffice to state, that the grand, the beneficent, and most Christian
end, which these two Societies have in view, is to evangelize the world:
the one sends its missionary either instructed, or to be instructed, in
the language of the country where is to be his field in which he is to
sow the good seed of the word of life; and the other supplies the sower
with that seed of the word of life translated into the language of the
country.  The difficulties they have to encounter are immense; and the
danger of the neglect of the legitimate object, or of perversion of the
power and means of these Societies, may be considerable; but still the
enterprise of Christian love is not to be abandoned, because it is
difficult; nor the means of Christian usefulness sacrificed, because they
are capable of abuse: rather let those who rejoice in the light of the
Gospel, and thank God every day of their lives for having the high
privilege of reading His Book, labour to provide missionaries so well
fitted for their office, as to afford reasonable hope that through Him,
on whose assistance and blessing they alone depend, they may surmount the
many and arduous difficulties which impede their progress: rather let
them exercise increased vigilance, and employ greater care and attention,
that if any error exist, it may be corrected, that if any abuse has crept
in, it may be reformed.  Let these Societies be only faithful to their
trust—true to the one great object they are ever to keep in view, and
they may fully rely upon Him, whose kingdom they labour to advance, whose
word they seek to publish—to bless their work and ensure their success.
But let them remember that no unsound principles of expediency, no
unworthy means to excite popularity, or to gain support, must be had
recourse to; such would be to apply to their goodly edifices the
“untempered mortar,” which would end in their destruction: let them go
forth in the strength of the Lord, and in his strength only; let them
seek the extension of Christ’s kingdom, and of His kingdom only; and then
all who love the Lord’s Christ, honour His name, and seek to promote His
glory—if they can do no more, will at least say, we “bid you God speed.”

The increasing exertions which are making, in this country, for the
diffusion of vital religion amongst Christians, and for the spread of the
Gospel amongst the heathen, will form one of the brightest pages in its
history.  And truly at this moment it presents almost the only subject on
which the Christian’s anxious eye can rest with unmixed satisfaction and
with joyful hope.  The prospect around is in many parts dark and
discouraging, but in one direction is illumined by a bright and holy
light—“the sun of righteousness arising with healing in his wings,” upon
the “nations which sit in darkness and the shadow of death.” {221}
England appears to be selected by God for this great and glorious work.
As the Roman Empire was raised up and employed by the Great Governor of
the Universe for the first promulgation of the Gospel; and as the Greek
language was made the medium through which that Gospel was extensively
diffused: so we may hope that the British Empire, so greatly increased,
may be employed, and the English language, so widely spread, be made a
medium, for that final promulgation which is to take place, and the
result of which is to be thus complete—“the earth shall be full of the
knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” {222}  But however
this may be—for ill does it become short-sighted man to speculate on the
unfulfilled prophecies of Holy Writ—our line of duty is plain: we must
make the most strenuous exertions, trusting to be instruments in the
hands of the Almighty in the conversion of the heathen.  The labour of
love, which springs from gratitude to God, which is directed by faith in
His promises and animated by hope of His blessing, will never be
fruitless: if it please not the Divine Providence to give it a prosperous
issue to those for whose benefit it was designed, it will return as a
blessing—“good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running
over”—into the bosoms of those, who planned, supported, and conducted it,
with a sole view to God’s glory and the salvation of men.  This physical
pestilence has travelled from India to England: does it not in awful
terms reproach us, for having, as a nation, done so little to arrest and
heal the moral pestilence which rages throughout that great Peninsula?
Oh! let every means be used by the friends of religion to rouse a sinful
people to a due sense of what they owe to their home population, to their
colonies, and to the world at large.  Whatever be the channel in which an
individual may wish the stream of his bounty to flow, he will find
Societies through which he will best accomplish the good he has in view.
Let, therefore, all be active, liberal, and zealous, in the cause of
religion: let all, according to the ability which God supplieth,
endeavour to promote the present and eternal welfare of all mankind!
“Charge them,” says St. Paul, “who are rich in this world, that they be
not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God,
who giveth us richly all things to enjoy: that they do good, that they be
rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate: laying
up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come,
that they may lay hold on eternal life.” {223}—“But this I say, he which
soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly: and he which soweth
bountifully, shall reap also bountifully.  Every man according as he
purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly or of necessity,
for God loveth a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace
abound towards you; that ye always having all-sufficiency in all things,
may abound to every good work.” {224a}  “Let every one that nameth the
name of Christ depart from iniquity:” let all in their several vocations
endeavour to improve, to the spiritual advantage of themselves and
others, this Divine visitation; that thus its great object being
accomplished—for the language of God’s chastisements, whether national or
individual, is “be zealous and repent,”—we may humbly hope that our
gracious Lord God will be pleased to withdraw His heavy hand from His
humbled and contrite people; the duty of each of whom has been shown to
be, to effect, through the Divine blessing, a personal reformation; for
the sins of each individual form fractions of the immense integral of
national guilt, which has called down the Divine displeasure; to employ
their rank, influence, and a due proportion of their wealth, in labouring
to advance, by their personal exertions, and through the medium of
societies, a national reformation; and to diffuse throughout the world
the knowledge of the Saviour, that “the kingdoms of this world may become
the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ.” {224b}

And how are they to be addressed who are the enemies of the Lord and of
His Christ—who trample under foot his cross, and, at present, stand
excluded from all benefit of the great atonement by “counting the blood
of the covenant an unholy thing”—how are they to be addressed who deny
the Lord who bought them, and secretly maintain, or openly espouse, the
doctrines of infidelity?  In the language of friendly warning and
exhortation.  Sometimes the Christian advocate has erred by employing a
tone of conscious superiority, of cold severity, or of keen satire: the
first offends, the second hardens, the third irritates the proud spirit
of unbelief: the voice of remonstrance is often listened to, when
authority commands in vain.  Let, therefore, whatever has been said, in
these pages, be considered, not as intended in the least degree to wound
or insult the feelings of any one, but as written in the honest and
faithful discharge of Christian duty.  And in the spirit of meekness and
charity let me entreat those, who reject Christianity, to pause, reflect,
and examine deeply into the grounds on which they have come to a decision
which involves their eternal destiny.  Let me ask them whether they have
ever duly considered, first, _the possibility of Revelation being true_;
and, secondly, _the consequences of Revelation being true_.  Surely a
creed, which numbers amongst its defenders laymen, who hold the highest
place in England’s proud annals of science and philosophy, is not lightly
to be rejected by ordinary minds: surely where Bacon, Milton, Boyle,
Locke, and Newton, have been believers, there is room to admit _the
possibility_ of the creed being true.  When intellects of the most
powerful grasp, disciplined by the most arduous studies, and stored with
the richest fruits of human knowledge, have received with humility,
gratitude, reverence, and faith, the Bible, as the inspired Word of God,
some doubts may flash across the mind of the infidel, as to whether he
has arrived at a just conclusion, in refusing to believe that Bible.  And
oh! if there do arise a doubt, let him now be entreated to re-examine
this most important subject, on which the interests of eternity depend;
to reconsider the grounds on which he denies a faith in which, during
eighteen hundred years, millions have lived and died.

There is, however, a second point of consideration, and that a very
important one, which ought not to be lost sight of, _the consequences of
Revelation being true_,—the unutterable anguish of hopeless, endless
despair and torment.  Infidels often speak with much levity, and
sometimes with profaneness, of the awful punishments of a future world,
denounced in Scripture against impenitent guilt; but, if they searched
deeply into their own hearts, they would find not only that they were
less happy than they were before they shook off their belief in
Revelation; but some might discover, almost, the commencement of the
gnawing of the undying worm.  In health, this may be scarcely perceived,
but when the hour approaches, which generally tears away the mask which
has concealed internal feelings long kept secret, the hideousness of
infidelity is fully seen.  Some appear to have acted their part to the
last; thus Hume was said to have spent some of his latter hours in
reading “the Dialogues of the Dead,” of the Apostate Lucian; but what an
employment for one who professed to be a philosopher!  At a time, when
the eyes are about to close for ever on all that the heart has held dear
in life, “drollery, in such circumstances, is neither more nor less than

    Moody madness, laughing wild
    Amidst severest woe.” {227}

But such cases are, generally, of rare, occurrence: as the sombre shades
of the evening of life gathered around Gibbon, this melancholy confession
escaped him,—the past is gone, the present is but for a moment, and the
prospect of the future is dark and doubtful.  Paine, who had vauntingly
proclaimed, that, during an illness, expected by himself and those around
him to be fatal, he had rejoiced that he had published his Age of Reason,
when the hour of death really arrived, endured all the agonies of
remorse, evincing a horrible combination of awakened terror and
blasphemous despair.  And that renowned champion of infidelity, Voltaire,
who was smitten, in his hour of pride and triumph, suffered in his last
hours such intolerable anguish and such overwhelming terror, that the
alarmed physician declared, that the furies of Orestes could not equal
the horrors of such a death-bed.

Should the consideration of the possibility and consequences of the truth
of Revelation, and of the certainty of the present wretchedness of
infidelity, awaken in some readers feelings of apprehension,—lest, whilst
in imagination they have been releasing themselves from the trammels of
superstition, they have in reality been fastening round their own necks
the heavy yoke of that hard task-master, the great enemy of the human
race; let them be entreated to institute now a strict enquiry as to the
unanswerableness of the objections against Revelation, on the strength of
which they have withheld their belief; and as to the certainty of those
conclusions of unassisted reason, on which they have been content to
build their opinions as to an hereafter, unmindful that,

    “Dim as the borrowed beams of moon and stars
    To lonely, weary, wandering travellers,
    Is reason to the soul.”

Alas! it is melancholy to think how many reject Christianity without due
examination: but let the infidel be assured that, whether he is involved
in the mazy labyrinth of metaphysical subtleties, perplexed with the
false conclusions of materialism, startled by the apparent extent of
physical and moral evil, or offended, with the multitude of sceptics, at
mysteries, creeds, and articles; he will find answers to all his
objections and difficulties in the various treatises which have been
written on the evidences of Christianity.  But let him not enter upon the
subject with a prejudiced mind, in the pride of human reason, or under
the influence of human passions.  Is it likely that the Great Author of
light and life will vouchsafe to illuminate understandings, which
prejudice darkens, and pride renders presumptuous; or convert and
sanctify hearts, which sensuality debases and pollutes?  They who
approach the Great Governor of the Universe to be instructed, in what
belongs to their everlasting peace, must come with humility, reverence,
and awe; they must strive to divest themselves of prepossession,
prejudice, and passion; and pray to be guided unto all truth: and if they
persevere in patient and dispassionate examination of the evidences of
Christianity, and in an humble and careful study of the Scriptures
themselves, accompanied with sincere and earnest prayers, in God’s good
time, the light of Divine grace will break upon their darkened
understandings; they will see how wonderfully the conflicting attributes
of justice and mercy have been reconciled in the Divine plan for the
restoration of a guilty world to the favour of its offended God; they
will be filled with devout admiration of that love of God, which passeth
all understanding, which has provided for the most heinous offenders a
means of escape from eternal condemnation; and they will thankfully and
joyfully embrace the offers of salvation through the Saviour, published
in the Gospel.

But if there be any who refuse to return to the God of their youth; any
who close their ears against every admonition to examine, deeply, into
those principles of infidelity, which they have adopted,—principles too
dear to man’s natural pride, too favourable to his natural corruption, to
be willingly or easily resigned—let them at least be persuaded not to
attempt to make proselytes to their creed.  The time may come when they
shall be convinced of the truth of Christianity; and oh! how will the
weight of guilt, which, in the sad and dark hour of a late repentance,
almost overwhelms the soul, be increased, if they have been instrumental
in destroying the belief of others, which they have not the power to
restore!  There is no crime of so deep a die as the ruin of an immortal
soul; none which subjects to the same dreadful remorse; none which
presents the same terrible impediment to our obtaining pardon and peace:
for what present peace can there be to him, who sees one soul exposed to
eternal condemnation, through his means?  What to him who sees many?
What to him, who has the agonising conviction ever present to his mind,
that he has no longer the power to attempt to repair the evil he has
done, for they have been summoned to judgment, whom he had led astray?
There is also another consideration which may have some weight with those
who promulgate infidel doctrines, which is, that they blast the present
as well as eternal happiness of their miserable converts.  “Perhaps our
modern sceptics are ignorant, that without the belief of a God and the
hope of immortality, the miseries of human life would often be
insupportable.  Yet this I must suppose, or I must believe them to be the
most cruel, the most perfidious, and the most profligate of men.”  It is
most true, that if you rob a man of his religious principles, you deprive
him of what “has both the promise of the life which now is, and of that
which is to come,” his peace of mind, his trust in God’s protection, his
faith in the Saviour, his hope of glory, all that consoles, improves,
elevates, and ennobles our nature—all are gone, and in their place are
substituted lawless passions, disappointed hopes, and bitter regrets.
If, therefore, no other consideration will avail to induce the infidel
school to forego their plans of proselytism, let regard for their
philanthropy, of which they make such boast, be urged to prevent their
rendering men less happy than they are at present, under the mild and
benignant rule of Christianity.  May that blessed Lord, who “willeth not
the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live,
have mercy upon all infidels and heretics, and so fetch them home to His
flock, that they may be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ
our Lord.”

The duty of a Christian people, under Divine visitations, however feebly,
has been faithfully stated, according to the conscientious belief of the
writer: may He, in dependence upon whose blessing, and to promote whose
kingdom it has been written, make it instrumental to the production of a
religious improvement of the afflictive dispensation sent upon the land.
The nature of the disease has ceased to be doubtful, and the pestilence
which has been so long advancing towards us is admitted now by all to
have reached our shores.  Once more, then, let the question be asked,
“What will ye do in the day of visitation when your desolation shall come
from far, to whom will ye flee for help?”  Oh that one simultaneous cry
would respond from the inhabitants of this kingdom—“WE WILL TRUST IN THE
LORD FOR EVER, FOR IN THE LORD JEHOVAH IS EVERLASTING STRENGTH!”  When
Solomon, on the dedication of the temple, prayed, “If there be in the
land famine, if there be pestilence, or whatsoever sickness there be:
then what prayer and supplication soever be made by any man or by all thy
people Israel, when every one shall know his own sin, and his own grief,
and shall spread forth his hands in this house; then hear Thou in heaven,
Thy dwelling-place, and forgive, and render to every man according unto
all his ways, whose heart Thou knowest, for Thou only knowest the hearts
of all men.” {233a}  The Lord returned the gracious answer: “I have heard
thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of
sacrifice.  If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command
the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people:
if my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and
pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear
from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
{233b}

Prayers, set forth by authority, are offered up to the throne of grace,
throughout the kingdom, and it has pleased the Almighty to deal
graciously with His people, in mitigating the virulence of the
pestilence: let a fast be proclaimed, that on an appointed day the whole
nation may “humble themselves, and pray, and seek the Lord’s face:” let
associations be formed to assist the ministers of God’s Word and
Sacraments, to exhort and entreat the people to “turn from their wicked
ways:” and if “the Lord’s people, which are called by His name,” humbled
and contrite turn unto Him, with all their hearts, and with mourning and
fasting, and cry, “Spare us, O Lord, spare Thy people, whom Thou hast
redeemed with Thy most precious blood; turn us, O God of our salvation,
and cause Thine anger towards us to cease;” “Righteous art Thou, O Lord,
and just are Thy judgments:” if they “cease to do evil, and learn to do
well,” then in God’s good time the gracious promise will be fulfilled,
for “the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it,”—I WILL HEAR FROM HEAVEN, AND
WILL FORGIVE THEIR SIN, AND WILL HEAL THEIR LAND.

Oh may it not be, that the wickedness of the land shall avert from it the
mercy and blessing of the Most High!  May it not be, that the fearful
words shall become applicable to us, “Thus saith the Lord God, the Holy
One of Israel, in returning and rest shall ye be saved, in quietness and
in confidence shall be your strength; and ye would not!”  Oh! rather may
“the spirit of grace and supplications” be poured upon the people, for
“Will the Lord wait that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will
He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of
judgment; blessed are all they that wait for Him.”  Then shall the Lord’s
people derive joy and peace from those transporting words of comfort:
“For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I
gather thee.  In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but
with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord Thy
Redeemer.”

“God’s judgments are in the earth.”  In many places there has been a
literal fulfilment of those terrible predictions, the application of
which is not to be considered limited to any time or nation: “All joy is
darkened, the mirth of the land is gone: in the city is left desolation,
and the gate is smitten with destruction.” {235a}  Truly in our case it
may be said, “the isles saw it and feared, the ends of the earth were
afraid.” {235b}  Oh! without experiencing the extreme severity of the
scourge, may this nation learn the lesson it is meant to teach!  “They
shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the Lord,
they shall cry aloud from the sea.  Wherefore glorify ye the Lord; even
the name of the Lord God of Israel, in the isles of the sea.”  “Trust in
the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous
redemption.”  Proclaim every where “God is our hope and strength,” a
“sure refuge in the day of trouble.”  “Then shall the inhabitants of the
world learn righteousness.”  Then shall they know that “the Lord is a
very present help in trouble; blessed are the people whose trust is in
Him.”  Then, God grant that it may be said of this land, long favoured
and blest of heaven, thou “hast glorified God in the day of visitation;”
{236a} therefore, thou shalt “obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and
mourning shall flee away.” {236b}  “Then shall thy light break forth as
the morning, and thy health shall spring forth speedily: and thy
righteousness shall go before thee, the glory of the Lord shall be thy
rere-ward.  Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt
cry, and He shall say, HERE I AM.” {236c}

May God, whose gracious and never-failing Providence orders all things
both in heaven and earth, of His infinite mercy, accomplish this great
end of all His visitations, that we may become a “righteous nation unto
the Lord.”  May those who are slumbering in the fatal lethargy of sin
“awake to righteousness and sin not:” alarmed by the judgments impending
over them, may habitual sinners seek for grace, “to turn from the evil of
their ways,” before “the Lord be revealed from heaven, in flaming fire,
taking vengeance on the wicked, and those who know not God.”  May the
lukewarm, who, even in the hour of danger, still “halt between two
opinions,” cleave to the Lord, lest their souls should be required of
them, whilst yet balancing the claims of God and mammon.  May the
faithful trim their lamps, “have their loins girded, and their lights
burning, and be like unto men that wait for their Lord: blessed are those
servants whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching.”  And may God
pour His especial grace and blessing upon the nation at large: that all
may recognize His hand, submit to His will, depend on His protection,
profit by His chastisements, and endeavour to promote His glory here and
abroad, now and for ever.  “Now the God of peace that brought again from
the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the
blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to
do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight,
through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.” {237}



A PRAYER
IN TIMES OF
PESTILENCE OR GREAT SICKNESS.


O ALMIGHTY and Everlasting God, whose gracious and never-failing
Providence orders all things, both in heaven and earth; we, Thy unworthy
servants, most humbly beseech Thee, to look with an eye of pity upon thy
afflicted people.  We have sinned, O Lord, and done wickedly; in the days
of our prosperity we have forgotten Thee, the bounteous Giver of all
good: but Thou dealest not with the sons of men after their sins, nor
rewardest them according to their iniquities.  Have mercy, therefore,
upon us, O God, according to Thy loving-kindness: according unto the
multitude of Thy tender mercies, blot out our transgressions.  We know, O
Lord, that Thy judgments are right, and that Thou, in faithfulness, hast
afflicted us.  But, O Lord, rebuke us not in Thy wrath, neither chasten
us in Thy hot displeasure.  Let mercy rejoice against judgment.  And turn
Thee unto us, and have mercy upon us: for we are desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of our heart are enlarged: oh bring Thou us out of our
distresses.  Look upon our affliction and our pain, and forgive all our
sins.

O Heavenly Father, our only dependence is upon Thy compassion.  Thou art
merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.  For Thou
knowest our frame; Thou rememberest that we are dust.  We come before
Thee, therefore, trusting in the multitude of Thy mercies, and encouraged
by the abundance of Thy great and precious promises.  Incline Thine ear,
O Lord, and hear the supplications of Thy people.  Turn us, O God of our
salvation, and cause Thine anger towards us to cease.  Of Thy only gift
it cometh that Thy people can do unto Thee true and acceptable service.
Pour, therefore, we humbly beseech Thee, upon this land, the spirit of
grace and supplication, the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the
knowledge of the Lord, that it may know, in this its day, the things
which belong unto its peace; and may flee to Thee for deliverance from
the floods of immorality, profaneness, and infidelity, which threaten to
overflow its borders.  O Almighty God, who alone canst order the unruly
wills and affections of sinful men, shed abroad, in the minds and hearts
of this people, the enlightening, renewing, and sanctifying influence of
Thy grace, that, recognising Thy judgments, submitting to Thy will, and
profiting by Thy chastisements, we may humble ourselves under Thy mighty
hand; and putting away from us the evil of our ways, may turn unto Thee
with all our heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with
mourning.  And then, O merciful and long-suffering Lord, who willest not
the death of a sinner, but rather that all should repent and live; spare
us, good Lord, oh spare Thy people, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy
precious blood; and hear from Heaven, we implore Thee, and forgive our
sin, and heal our land.

Furthermore, we earnestly address Thee, O gracious God, whose kingdom
ruleth over all, in behalf of the whole race of mankind.  Be pleased, of
Thy great goodness, to grant, that now, when Thy judgments are in the
earth, the inhabitants of the world may learn righteousness: and in every
land they may receive grace to glorify Thee in the day of visitation.  Oh
bless and prosper, we pray Thee, the means employed for the spread of the
light of Thy Holy Gospel, here and abroad,—for the promotion of Thy
glory, and the extension of Thy kingdom.  That, in Thy good time, the
kingdoms of this world may become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His
Christ.

Finally, we beseech Thee, of Thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succour
all them, who, in this transitory life, are in trouble, sorrow, need,
sickness, or any other adversity;—more especially those who are set in
the midst of so many and great dangers, by reason of the pestilence which
it hath pleased Thee to send upon the land.  Oh be Thou unto all Thy
servants a refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Be
merciful unto us, O God, be merciful unto us, for our souls trust in
Thee; yea in the shadow of thy wings will we make our refuge, until these
calamities be overpast.  Thou art our hope and our stronghold, our God,
in Thee will we trust.  O Lord, who art rich in mercy and goodness,
suffer not, we entreat Thee, any evil to happen to us, neither any plague
to come nigh our dwelling.  And graciously produce in us such firm trust
in thy mighty aid, amid all the trials and dangers of this mortal life,
and such a blessed assurance, that, under Thy divine control, all things
shall work together for our eternal good, that we may not be afraid for
the terror by night, nor the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the
pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the destruction that wasteth
at noon-day.  But that filled with joy and peace in believing, we may
rest with humble and firm dependence, Heavenly Father, upon Thy sure
protection, Thy blessed guidance, and Thy tender mercies, now and ever.
So that when the hour of our departure shall come, we may humbly trust,
through Thy grace, to meet death without fear or amazement; and stedfast
through faith, and joyful through hope, to commit our souls to Thy
safekeeping, O blessed Lord, as unto a faithful Creator and Redeemer,
when Thou, in Thy infinite wisdom and goodness, shall see it fitting to
take us unto Thyself.  Vouchsafe, we earnestly implore Thee, O Almighty
and most merciful God, to receive favourably these our humble petitions
for ourselves and for all mankind, offered with deep humility and
self-abasement to Thy divine Majesty, in the name and through the
mediation of Thy Son, our most blessed Lord and Saviour, to whom, with
Thee, and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed, as is most due, all honour and
glory, dominion and power, thanksgiving and praise, and humble adoration,
henceforth and for evermore.  Amen.

                                * * * * *

        _A Prayer_, _which may be used in Health or in Sickness_.

O ALMIGHTY and most merciful God, who so loved the world, that Thou
gavest Thy only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not
perish, but have everlasting life, grant unto us, Thy weak and sinful
servants, we most humbly beseech Thee, sincere repentance and lively
faith; that coming to our blessed Lord, as the Way, and the Truth, and
the Life, we may, through His infinite and most precious merits, obtain
pardon and peace.  We are sensible, O Lord, of our natural corruption and
hardness of heart, of the number and heinousness of our offences, and yet
we are little acquainted with the extent of that corruption and guilt;
for who knoweth the deceitfulness of his wicked heart, or who can tell
how oft he offendeth?  We deserve at Thy hand, O God, nothing but
condemnation; and should utterly despair, were it not for the gracious
assurance given in Thy Holy Scriptures, that Thou, O Lord, waitest to be
gracious, and that the blood of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, cleanseth us from
all sin.

We know that we are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of
ourselves, but that our sufficiency is of Thee, who workest in us both to
will and to do, of Thy good pleasure.  We beseech Thee, therefore, O God,
to be graciously pleased, for Christ’s sake, to enlighten, by Thy
heavenly grace, the natural darkness of our understandings, to rectify
the perversion of our wills, and to sanctify the unholiness of our
affections.  We deplore, O Lord, our deadness to spiritual things: oh! of
Thy great goodness, strengthen, we pray Thee, our faith, quicken our
zeal, increase our love, and improve our obedience.  Oh! grant us,
according to the riches of Thy glory, to be strengthened with might by
Thy Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in our hearts by
faith; that we being rooted and grounded in love, may be filled with the
fruits of the Spirit, may adorn in all things the doctrine of God our
Saviour, and may know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.  That,
having received the adoption of sons, the Spirit may bear witness with
our spirit, that we are Thy children, O gracious God, to whom looking as
unto a reconciled Father in Christ Jesus, we may cry, Abba, Father.  And
we may have our conversation in Heaven, from whence also we look for the
Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it
may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working,
whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.

O Lord Jesu Christ, the Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the
world, have mercy upon us, and cleanse us by Thy precious blood, from the
defilement of our past offences: Oh! enable us to come boldly unto the
Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time
of need.  O Almighty and merciful God, who art faithful, and who wilt not
suffer us to be tempted above that we are able; but wilt with the
temptation also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it: we
cast all our care on Thee, who carest for us: And oh! mayest Thou,
Heavenly Father, who hast, of Thy free and unmerited mercy, begun a good
work in us, perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Of Thy tender mercy, we beseech Thee, shed abroad in our hearts the
consolations of Thy Gospel, and enrich us with Christian graces, that we
may be supported under whatever afflictions Thou mayest be pleased to
send, and receive them, and seek for grace to benefit by them, as being
sent, gracious Lord, by Thee, in mercy and for our profit.  That, under
Thy most mighty protection and blessing, we may fight the good fight of
faith, lay hold on eternal life, and finish our course with joy; by Him
and through Him, to whom has been given a name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and
things in earth, and things under the earth: and that every tongue should
confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Amen, Amen.

                                * * * * *

                                 THE END.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                      GILBERT & RIVINGTON, PRINTERS,
                        St. John’s Square, London.



FOOTNOTES.


{3a}  Rev. xvi. 1.

{3b}  Luke xxi. 25, 26.

{5a}  Joel ii. 12.

{5b}  Joel ii. 15–17.

{5c}  James i. 7.

{5d}  Heb. xiii. 8.

{5e}  Rom. xv. 4.

{5f}  Psalm cvi. 6.

{5g}  Psalm lxxxvi. 5.

{6a}  Isa. lix. 1.

{6b}  Psalm lix. 13.

{6c}  Isa. i. 11.

{6d}  Isa. i. 16, 17.

{6e}  1 Sam. xv. 22.

{7a}  Service for the Sick.

{7b}  Luke xix. 44.

{7c}  Psalm cxix. 75.

{7d}  Isa. lv. 6.

{7e}  Jer. xviii. 30.

{8a}  Prov. viii. 15.

{8b}  Psalm lxxxix. 19.

{8c}  Psalm cxxvii. 2.

{9a}  Gen. xviii. 32.

{9b}  Jonah iii. 10.

{9c}  2 Sam. xxiv. 16.

{9d}  Jer. xviii. 7, 8.  Psalm xci. 6.

{10a}  It is much to be desired that the prayers set forth by authority,
or others of a similar character, should be generally used in family
worship.

{11}  1 Pet. v. 6.

{12a}  Isa. i. 4.

{12b}  Zech. xii. 10.

{13a}  Isa. xliv. 21, 22.

{13b}  Psalm cxix. 73.

{14a}  Luke i. 79.

{14b}  Isaiah x. 3.

{14c}  Isaiah xxvi. 4.

{14d}  Heb. xi. 6.

{15a}  Sherlock on Providence.

{15b}  Heb. xii. 10.

{15c}  Bowdler’s Remains.

{16a}  Heb. xii. 6.

{16b}  Psalm cxix. 71.

{16c}  Jer. xvi. 19.

{16d}  Psalm xxv.

{17a}  Phil. ii. 15.

{17b}  Luke xviii. 18.

{17c}  Matt. xiv. 30.

{18a}  Titus ii. 10.

{18b}  Col. iii. 2.

{18c}  Titus ii. 13.

{18d}  Psalm cxix. 75.

{19a}  2 Cor. iv.

{19b}  Heb. ii. 16.

{19c}  Deut. xxxiii. 25.

{19d}  Matt. x. 29.

{19e}  Rom. viii. 28.

{19f}  Isaiah xxvi. 3.

{19g}  Rom. xv. 13.

{21a}  2 Cor. iv.

{21b}  Psalm xci.

{22a}  Isa. xli. 10.

{22b}  Sherlock on Providence.

{23a}  Rom v. 3.

{23b}  Heb. vi. 1.

{23c}  1 John iv. 18.

{23d}  Heb. xii. 12.

{23e}  Acts xviii. 17.

{24}  2 Tim. iii. 4.

{25}  Psalm x. 4.

{26}  Proverbs i.

{28a}  Jonah i. 6.

{28b}  Daniel v. 27.

{30}  Acts xx. 21.

{31}  Luke xvi. 23.

{32a}  Matt. xxv. 41.

{32b}  2 Cor. v. 11.

{32c}  Ibid. v. 20.

{33a}  The Task.

{33b}  Rom. ii. 4, 5.

{34a}  Ezek. xxxiii. 11.

{34b}  Ezek. xviii. 29.

{34c}  Isa. i. 18.

{35a}  Exod. xxxiv. 6.

{35b}  1 John iv. 8.

{35c}  John iii. 16.

{35d}  John iii. 17.

{35e}  John vi. 47.

{36a}  Matt. xi. 28.

{36b}  Matt. i. 21.

{36c}  Matt. ix. 13.

{36d}  1 Tim. i. 15.

{36e}  Luke ii. 10.

{36f}  John vi. 37.

{37a}  Psalm ciii. 8.

{37b}  1 John ii. 1.

{37c}  Rom. viii. 32.

{38a}  John v. 40.

{38b}  Matt. xviii. 11.

{38c}  Luke xv. 10.

{38d}  Rev. v. 13.

{39a}  Acts xxvi. 18.

{39b}  1 Tim. ii. 4.

{40a}  Rom. iii. 24, 25.

{40b}  Rev. iii. 17, 18.

{41}  James iii. 2.

{42a}  Rom. x. 2, 3.

{42b}  1 Cor. i. 29.

{42c}  Col. iii. 11.

{42d}  Article IX.

{43a}  Article X.

{43b}  Article XI.

{43c}  Article XII.

{45}  Isa. lv. 7, 8.

{46a}  Ezek. xi. 19.

{46b}  Psalm li.

{47a}  Phil. iii. 14.

{47b}  Ephes. iv. 13.

{47c}  Ibid. vi. 4.

{48a}  The term conversion is here employed to express that change of
will, heart, and life, wrought by divine grace in those, who, when living
in ignorance or neglect of God, are brought to believe, obey, and love
the Gospel, the spirit of which they had never before truly known, the
power of which they had never before really felt.

{48b}  Sermons, p. 125.

{49a}  1 John v. 1. 10. 18.

{49b}  Rom. viii. 1. 14.

{51a}  p. 123.

{51b}  p. 126.

{51c}  p. 128.

{52a}  Matt. vii. 21.

{52b}  Rom. ii. 13.

{52c}  James i. 22.

{53a}  1 John ii. 15.

{53b}  Gal. v. 19–21.

{53c}  Mark i. 15.

{54a}  Heb. xii. 14.

{54b}  Titus ii. 11.

{57a}  2 Cor. iv. 4.

{57b}  Mark x. 23.

{58a}  Luke xvi.

{58b}  1 John ii. 16.

{59a}  James v.

{59b}  1 Tim. vi. 9.

{59c}  1 Pet. ii. 11.

{59d}  1 Pet. iv. 3.

{59e}  Ephes. v. 6.

{60a}  1 Tim. vi. 17.

{60b}  2 Cor. vii. 1.

{61}  Ephes. iv.

{62}  1 Pet. ii. 1.

{63}  Dan. v.

{66a}  Isa. lvii. 15.

{66b}  1 Cor. iv. 7.

{66c}  Psalm xix. 12.

{67}  1 Kings xviii. 21.

{68a}  Rev. iii. 16.

{68b}  Matt. xxii. 57.

{72}  John xv. 13.

{73}  1 Cor. xvi. 22.

{74a}  Acts xvii. 11.

{74b}  2 Tim. iii. 16.

{75a}  2 Cor. x. 4.

{75b}  Jer. xiii. 23.

{75c}  1 Pet. v. 8.

{75d}  Eph. vi. 12.

{76a}  Rom. vii. 24.

{76b}  Matt. xix. 26.

{77a}  1 Cor. xv. 57.

{77b}  Rom. xii. 2.

{77c}  Acts iii. 19.

{78}  Psalm xcv. 11.  Acts xxiv. 25.

{80}  Ephes. iv. 21.

{81a}  Matt. xvi. 26.

{81b}  John xiv. 6.

{81c}  2 Cor. v. 21.

{82a}  Rom. v. 1.

{82b}  2 Cor. xii. 9.

{82c}  Phil. iii. 13.

{82d}  Tit. ii. 10.

{83}  Baptismal Service.

{84}  Matt. xiii. 20.

{85}  Heb. ii. 10.

{86a}  Rev. xviii. 24.

{86b}  2 Cor. iv. 17.

{86c}  Matt. xxv. 21.

{87a}  Matt. v. 16.

{87b}  Isaiah xxvi. 9.

{88a}  Ephes. iv. 2, 3.

{88b}  Ephes. iv. 5, 6.

{89a}  Service for the Sick.

{89b}  Job xxiii. 10.

{91a}  Luke xix. 42.

{91b}  James i. 17.

{91c}  Ephes. i. 17.

{91d}  Ephes. v.

{93}  Page 4.

{95}  Page 46.

{96}  Page 61.

{97a}  Dan. iv. 17.

{97b}  Deut. vi. 8.

{98}  Page 71.

{99}  Page 69.

{100}  James iv. 15.

{102}  Malachi iii. 6.

{103a}  Zeph. ii. 13.

{103b}  Jer. li. 13.

{104a}  Ezek. xxix. 15.

{104b}  Isaiah xxiii. 7.

{105a}  Ezek. xxvi. 5.

{105b}  Ibid. xxvi. ver. 14.

{107}  Deut. viii.

{108}  Deut. xxviii. 37.

{110a}  Ps. lxviii. 35.

{110b}  Isa. xxx. 1.

{110c}  Rev. iii. 19.

{111}  Matt. xvi. 18.

{113}  Jer. vi. 14.

{114}  Page 8.

{115}  Page 15.

{116}  Page 44.

{123}  Isaiah lvii. 20.

{124}  Apology for Christianity, p. 122.

{125}  Apology for the Bible, p. 2.

{126}  Matt. xxiii. 15.

{134a}  Charges, p. 117.

{134b}  Ibid. p. 128.

{134c}  Ibid. p. 134.

{135}  Rose’s Prevailing Disposition towards Christianity, p. 77.

{137a}  Page 145

{137b}  Bishop of Durham.

{149}  Lord Brougham’s speech in the Commons, on the Education of the
Poor.

{154}  2 Sam. xxiv. 21.

{155}  1 Kings xix. 10.

{164}  Bishop of London’s Charge.

{167}  Psalm cxxxix. 5.

{168a}  Psalm civ. 24.

{168b}  Ibid. xix. i.

{168c}  Ibid. xxxiii. 8, 9.

{171}  Chalmers’ Revelation viewed in connexion with Modern Astronomy.

{175}  Luke i. 4.

{176}  1 Pet. iii. 15.

{178}  Prov. xv. 23.

{179a}  Luke x. 42.

{179b}  Joshua xxiv. 15.

{179c}  2 Cor. vi. 14.

{179d}  2 Cor. vi. 14, 15.

{180}  Psalm lv. 14.

{185}  Page 21.

{188a}  Matt. x. 28.

{188b}  Heb. vii. 25.

{192}  Ordination Service.

{193a}  Isaiah lviii. 1.

{193b}  2 Tim. ii. 24.

{194a}  1 Cor. iv. 1.

{194b}  2 Cor. v. 20.

{194c}  Ezek. iii. 17.

{194d}  Acts xx. 28.

{194e}  1 Thess. ii. 19.

{195a}  1 Thess. iii. 7.

{195b}  Phil. iv. 1.

{195c}  Ibid. iii. 1.

{195d}  James v. 20.

{195e}  Dan. xii. 3.

{196a}  Ordination Service.

{196b}  Isaiah xxvi. 8, 9.

{197}  Cor. iii. 7.

{199}  Pet. v. 2.

{200a}  Ezek. xxxiv. 16.

{200b}  Isaiah xl. 11.

{200c}  2 Cor. ii. 16.

{201}  Commentary upon the 1st Epistle of St. Peter, p. 280.

{202a}  Heb. xiii. 5.

{202b}  Matt. xxviii. 20.

{202c}  Isaiah lx. 19.

{204a}  2 Tim. iv. 6.

{204b}  Acts x. 38.

{205a}  Mark viii. 38.

{205b}  Josh. xxiv. 15.

{205c}  Matt. xii. 30.

{211}  Barbadoes has, at this time, most urgent claims upon the British
nation for assistance: it is estimated that the injury sustained by
churches, schools, and the buildings of charitable institutions, during
the late hurricane, cannot be repaired under a less cost than 40,000_l._
A subscription has been opened in London for rebuilding the churches and
school-houses.

{219}  Mark xvi. 15.

{221}  Mal. iv. 2.

{222}  Isaiah xi. 9.

{223}  1 Tim. vi. 17–19.

{224a}  2 Cor. ix. 6–8.

{224b}  Rev. xi. 15.

{227}  Bishop Horne’s Letter to Adam Smith.

{233a}  2 Chron. vi. 28.

{233b}  Ibid. vii. 12.

{235a}  Isaiah xxiv. 11.

{235b}  Ibid. xli. 5.

{236a}  1 Pet. ii. 12.

{236b}  Isaiah li. 11.

{236c}  Ibid. lviii. 8.

{237}  Heb. xiii. 20.





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