« FöregåendeFortsätt »
* Resist the first temptation to evil, or your ruin map be the inevitable.consequenoe. “Indced I think we shall do wrong ---my consoience condemns mest must; rotum," said the unfortunate female, when she got near the edge of the water; but having yielded to the first temptation, she was induced to overcome all her scruples, and within the space of half an hour from that time she entered the eternal world.. Had she refused when her brother solicited her to leave her father's house, she had still lived to bless him and comfort him in his old agez.. but by complying she lost her strength to withstands temptation and then her life. What a warning! And is this the only one which the history of crime has given you? Alas, no! Have not many, who have ended their days on the platform of death, traced up their ruin to their profanation of the Sabbath? This is the day in which the foul spirits are abroad, enticing the young and the thoughtless to evil; and if you wish to avoid the misery and degradation in which others have been involved, devote its sacred hours to the purpose for which they were appointed. Attend some place of wors ship, where the pure evangelical truth of the Scriptures is preached with pathos and with power; and attend regularly; and though some of your associates may reproach you for your fanaticism, and others may turn your habits of devotion into a theme of ridicule, yet will you suffer yourself to be conquered by such a missile weapon? Have you no courage to defend your prin ciples against such a species of assault? or will you, without making an effort to resist, allow the evil spirit of scepticism to destroy your reverence for the sanctity of the day, which you are commanded to keep holy ? and alienate your attention from an institution, which God employs as the means of saving them that believe? Ho who regularly attends a place of worship-who engages with reverence in its devotional exercises and receives the truth which is preached under a deep conviction of its excellence and importance, enjoys a high mental feast on the Sabbath, and becomes imperceptibly fortified to resist the fascinating seductions of the world; while 'he who spends the consecrated hours in the society of the impure-amidst scenes of gaiety and dissipation, becomes an easy prey to the worst of temp
tations-often retires to rest reproaching himself for his folly and impiety, and is gradually led on from one crime to another, till iniquity proves his ruin.
! As I wished to hear the celebrated Mr. in the evening, I asked Mr. Llewellin to accompany me, but he declined, for reasons which raised him in my estimation as a prudent and consistent young man. “I am, Sir," he observed, “ decidedly of opinion that London offers many temptations to professors of religion, which require, on their part, constant vigilance to withstand; and one of the most specious is, the celebrity of preachers who pay us periodical visits.” “ But," I replied, “ do you think it wrong to go and hear those ministers ?" “ I would be cautious,” replied Mr. Llewellin,“ how I pass a sentence of condemnation on any one; but I certainly think that the love of novelty in religion often proves pernicious, not only to those who are enslaved by it, but to their families. Let me suppose a case. Here is a religious family who professedly attend the ministry of the Rev. Mr. W- ; but the father is in the habit of hearing any and every man of celebrity who visits the metropolis during the year. Will not this roving disposition prevent his forming that attachment towards a pastor and his flock in which the essence of Christian fellowship consists? And will not the influence of his example have an injurious effect on the minds of his children? If he take them with him from place to place, he imperceptibly teaches them to believe that he is not so much delighted with the truth, as with the agent who conveys it. And what is this but sinking the importance and value of the truth in the estimation of those, whose hearts are naturally averse to it. If he refuse to take them with him, and compel them to go, while they are young, to their regular place of worship; yet, as he does not go with them, they are left without the controling influence of his presence, and are exposed to the temptation of.. absenting themselves for some scene of amusement. If - be leave his more stated minister, to go after these periodical visitors, unless he possess a greater measuro of prudence, than such rubenite professors, generally possess; he will institute comparisons in the presence of his children, which will have a tendency to excite
prejudice in their minds against the man, under whose ministry they are forced to attend. Will not this prove injurious ? Unquestionably. It will alienate their minds from the love of truth, to a regard for its accidental associations; and by teaching them to disrespect the minister of mercy, they will in process of time turn away contemptuously from the message which he delivers.
But, Sir, these are not the only evils which result from the indulgence of this roving disposition, as it is invariably found no less injurious to the private reputation of a Christian, than to his domestic piety.” “But how 80, Sir," I replied, “what injury can it do the private reputation of a Christian ?” “Why,” said Mr. Llewellin," he will be regarded as an unstable man; and though he may have many virtues adorning his character, yet if this imperfection be associated with them, it will materially injure them. For what influence can an unstable man ever acquire, unless it be the power of doing evil? Who can respect him? Who can place any dependance on him?"
“But," I asked," may not à Christian leave the ministry of one preacher, to attend that of another, without sustaining or producing any moral injury ? “Most certainly,” said Mr. Llewellin; “we are at perfect liberty in this country, to go where we please, and to hear whom we please; but we should avoid that fickleness of disposition, which is ever moving from one place to another. Some admire the last preacher they hear more than any preceding one, and have the censer always in readiness to throw the incense of flattery around the next, which may make his appearance. Instead of examining themselves, to see what progress they make in knowledge and in grace, and attending on the sabbath to the religious instruction of their children, and their servants ; they are ever asking, Who is in town? or, Who is expected ? They are the Arabs of the religious world, who pitch and remove their tents so frequently, and so suddenly, that they form no permament fellowship with any individual community of Christians. But though I condemn most decidedly such a volatile spirit amongst professors, yet I think we ought to attend that ministry which we find the most profitable. The truth which we hear is divine, but the agent who preaches it is human ; and though his manner of exhibiting it, will not add to its importance, yet it may tend to give it a more commanding power of impression; and hence, it is no less our duty, than it is our privilege to attend the ministry of that man, whose style of preaching is the most congenial to our taste. The poet in speaking of government, has said,
“Whate'er is best administered, is best.” The same may be nearly said, with regard to Sermons. There is not such a marvellous difference between the thoughts and arrangements of one preacher and another, as some imagine. But, who has not been struck (to quote the language of a good writer, with the difference of the impression, and effect? One nan shall speak, and how dry and sapless and uninteresting is he? Let another deliver the very same things, and there is a savor that gives them freshness; the things seem perfectly new.
When such a man engages in his work, he enters bis congregation as Aaron went into the tabernacle to minister, when the precious ointment had been poured on his head, and ran down to the skirts of his garment; he is found before he is either seen or heard, and we think of our Christian bard
" When one that holds communion with the skies,
The gale informs us, laden with the scent.” “But, Sir,” I remarked, “if we do not derive that degree of improvement and consolation from the ministry on which we generally attend, must we not attribute it to some fault in ourselves. I remember being very much struck with a remark, which I heard the venerable Ingleby make, when addressing his congregation :- If, my brethren,' he said, 'you come to hear me preach, instead of hearing the truth which I deliver, be not sur
prised if you are permitted to return, without having felt its purifying and consoling influence. I can do no more than give utterance to the sublime doctrines and promises of the Gospel ; it is the province of my Master to make them effectual to your salvation; and if you neglect by strong and ardent prayer to implore his blessing, he will withhold it.'* “A very just and important remark,” Mr. Llewellin replied, “and one which I hope we shall never forget. We ought at all times to go into the temple with a devotional spirit, and to remember that as every good gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning, we should, in the most humble manner, invoke his presence; and then we should feel less disposed to rove, and less occasion to complain of the want of consolation. But still as our spiritual improvement and felicity is made to depend so much on the influence of the truth on the heart, and as that truth is known to pro duce a more powerful effect when we receive it from the lips of one preacher, than it does when it proceeds from those of another, I think we ought to attend where we receive the strongest and the deepest moral impressions; as it pleases God, who has endowed his servants with a diversity of talents to render the ministerial labours of one man very profitable to us, while we cannot derive so much improvement from those of another, though he preach the same doctrine, with equal, or even a superior degree of pathos and of zeal.”
We were now interrupted in our conversation, by the servant, who informed Mr. Llewellin that there were two gentlemen below who wished to see him. “ Desire them to walk up. I am not aware,” said Mr. Llewellin,“ who they are, and I regret their call, as I am not in the habit of receiving company on the sabbath.” They entered the room, and one offered an apology for this act of in intrusion ; but added, “I know, Sir, you will excuse it, as I have consented to go with you to Chapel this even ing along with our mutual friend Mr. Newton.” I did not immcdiately recollect this gentleman, though his manners, and his voice seemed familiar to me; but on bearing his name, I instantaneously recognized Mr. Gordon, whom I once miet in the country, when enjoying an