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CHRISTIAN USEFULNESS, haps a year had rolled away without success, she went once more to invite her acquaintance, and was so affected by frequent disappointment, that she burst into tears. The other now yielded : she went to the house of prayer ; she felt the power of divine truth, and became a monument of saving mercy. The writer could mention other instances: they are many, and were all the disciples of Jesus active, would doubtless be many more.
Another mode of usefulness open to all the disciples of E the Saviour, is that of kindly noticing and encouraging
persons who become hearers of the gospel. It is a frequent case, that persons who have lived without God in the world, begin to frequent the house of prayer. They need instruction. They are perhaps impressed, and need encouragement; but they are acquainted with no Christian friend. If the congregation is numerous, the minister may know nothing of them.
Hence they perhaps pine in despondency, or the little spark ; of holy desire dies for want of some one to fan it to a flame;
but where the members of a church are active, and eager to seize opportunities for doing good, such persons will soon be noticed, directed, and encouraged.
The Christian who watches for opportunities of doing good, u will find many; and some that seem insignificant may effect
good beyond the most sanguine calculations. A considerable Baptist church exists in a village in Leicestershire, which owed its origin, in a great degree, to a pious remark introduced in a letter on business. This impressed the mind of the thought
less youth to whom it was addressed. He embraced religion, E and opened his house for preaching. Many who had never
heard the gospel attended. A comfortable house of prayer
was erected in this then dark village. Many who have wore shipped in that house, there is reason to believe now worship et in the better house above, and others are pursuing the path
that leads to eternal peace. What cannot God effect, by
apparently feeble means, when Christian zeal directs the conPenyuduct of his children!
By lending or giving away religious books incalculable good may be effected. The same effect may be produced by
lending or gratuitously distributing religious tracts. These pages apparently feeble instruments have been the means of producering most important benefits. A tract given away on the road,
288 MODES OF CHRISTIAN USEFULNESS. or dropped by the highway side, has awakened a profligate to reflection, and led a child of wrath to the Lamb of God for salvation. Few are there among the followers of the Saviour, who might not pursue many of these modes of usefulness.
Sabbath schools open a wide field for the labours of Christian philanthropy.*
An immense field for usefulness is now offered by Bible and Missionary associations. The active collectors in those institutions, are a most important part of the grand moral machine, by which God is diffusing the gospel of his Son.
§ 14. The physician who would snatch a dying patient from the grave, must form a correct estimate of the malignity of his disease; nor would his benevolence be admired, if he pronounced the plague a harmless disorder. So in all your schemes for usefulness, bear in mind that the objects of your kindness are not beings slightly tainted with corruption, but wholly corrupt and depraved. Are you a parent? you will see many charms in your children. Yet remember they are as depraved as you feel yourself, and as others naturally are. A mere moral education may save them from grosser sins, but will never save them from eternal death. Teach them that they are sinners, and lead them to the fountain of salvation. Are you employed in teaching the children of others? or is it friends or neighbours whose salvation you are anxious to promote ? still consider they are sinners. You have to warm a heart that is quite cold ; to enlighten a mind that is quite dark. Within that heart there are principles of depravity op, posed to all you wish to inculcate. Need you be surprised at discouragement? You may say of every object of your care, Here is an immortal creature, passing a few moments on the stage of time, and thence going to heaven, or hell; already lost; a stranger to God, to the Saviour, to happiness; blind in mind; corrupt in affections. This view should regulate your exertions, and should lead you to God for his Spirit to bless those exertions ; but should not discourage, since similar
* It has been made a question, how far it is advisable to give rewar children in sabbath schools. There is one view in which it has appear the writer highly important. If religious books or tracts judiciously are given, these, while they stimulate the industry of children, may se immense good in after years, and in many cases may supply those gious instruction who would otherwise probably never possess & Siga ous bouk,
has appeared to ciously selected
may do them 'y those with reli ESS a single religi.
MOTIVES FOR PIOUS EXERTIONS. 289 de exertions have been the means of leading many to eternal
$ 15. All the obligations you lie under to the God of love, should stimulate your zeal to promote his glory in the salvation of your fallen fellow-creatures. Snatched yourself from the burning pit, should you not strive to snatch others from the flame? Redeeming love has displayed to us a salvation precious as the blood poured out by Jesus upon Calvarycostly as the wealth of heaven which he resigned-free as the air we breathe-and lasting as the eternity of God. Redeeming love has blessed us for both worlds-given us wealth for poverty-comfort for misery-hope for despair-forgiveness instead of condemnation-the love of God instead of eternal separation from him—and heaven instead of hell. But the Giver of these mercies bids us communicate the tidings of them to others. Let him that heareth say, Come." Can we be truly influenced by the love displayed in that gospel, if we do not labour and strive to benefit those who are perishing around us.
§ 16. Can pity move? pity must move you here. You live in a ruined world described by God as a world dead in trespasses and sins, even ALL DEAD. Could you spend an hour in a prison filled with malefactors doomed to die? would not the mournful spectacle melt your heart into compassion, and your eyes into tears ? A more mournful spectacle surrounds you-a dead world. Millions of rational and immortal beings, all lost, all dead. All hastening to the grave with a sure and steady step, and unless taught of God, all hastening to the death that never dies. All dead, all doomed to die, and all as sinners doomed to hell. It is true, heavenly mercy discloses a path to life from these regions of spiritual death; but, ah! how few regard those saving dictates. Excepting only that happy few of the high and low, the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bond man and every free man, and the bridegroom and the bride, and the ancient and the young, are dead to God, and dead to sin. Can you be a Christian yourself, if you strive not to snatch some of the firebrands from the flame? Can you look at a parent or a child, a brother or a sister, a husband or a wife, and think this beloved relative is sinking to eternal
290 MOTIVES FOR PIOUS EXERTIONS, death, and not feel anxious to lead them to the Saviour's fold ?
$ 17. If love can constrain you to exertion, you must be active. Can you, if truly a Christian, contemplate the costly sacrifice and nameless agonies of the Son of God, and yet remain indifferent to the prosperity of the cause for which he died? Can you behold the Father of eternity resigning the Son of his love, in compassion to you and to man, and yet be careless about the conversion of a perishing brother ? Did the Son of God sacrifice so much for your eternal happiness, and should you not anxiously render to him all the services that you can crowd into a few fleeting, mortal days. Do you believe that the Son of God abode in this vale of pollution, this world of death, for more than thirty mournful years ? Do you believe that here he encountered every human woe, and all this for you? Do you believe this, if you feel little concerned about the prosperity of the cause for which he lived and died ?--The tongue may say, “ Yes,” but a cold heart and inactive life more truly answer, “ No, you believe it not, you have but the shadow of belief.". Do you believe, that through sin, death and perdition were your righteous doom, but that a divine hand has spatched you from the fire-has woven for you a garland of unfading glory-has prepared for you an everlasting rest beyond the scenes of toilsome life? Can you believe this and remain inactive? God forbid that you should ever act so base a part! though, alas, it is acted by multitudes.
$ 18. In the value of the deathless soul you should find another motive for activity. The poor, vain, giddy, trifling crowd around you are to live for ever. You know their danger, they know it not; you feel the worth of a soul, they feel it not.
Ah, my friend, even you know not the worth of an immortal soul! It doth not yet appear what we shall be. Could a ransomed soul appear to us, arrayed in the glories of eternity, and the charms of heaven, we might suppose the happy spirit a high archangel. No, it is no archangel ; it is the soul; the soul which once inhabited a poor, afflicted body, and appeared a worm, and no man ;-the soul, which Satan ruled, but which a mightier Power snatched from his hand; the soul, over which angels rejoiced ; the soul, for which Jea
MOTIVES FOR PIOUS EXERTIONS. 291 sus died ; and, O more strange! the soul, which some humble Christian's pious cares led to the Saviour and to heaven.
If you should be thus successful in but one instance, this one would be a rich reward even for the labours of the longest life. ;" He which converteth a sinner from the error of his way,
shall save a soul from death, and hide a multitude of sins." How tragical a sight is the execution of a criminal! how much
more tragical the perdition of a soul! How great a benefactor is would he be esteemed, who might deliver a sinking nation
from famine, pestilence, slavery, and the sword! but they are instruments of effecting much greater good, who lead only one soul to the Saviour of mankind. It is in the labours of Christian piety, that great events crowd upon each other ; events perhaps judged little by the world, yet great because their influence is extensive as eternity. A Christian is accosted by a poor beggar, poor for time, and poorer for eternity.He gives the suppliant a trifle, and adds a tract-the beggar goes, he reads, he feels, his heart is impressed-he feels his
state, he flees to the Saviour for salvation. The event is unin known to all the world; the subject of it lives in poverty,
and dies like Lazarus. The same day on which this tract is given, a mighty battle is fought-hundreds of thousands engage in the conflict-the fate of nations is decided by its issue. The fame of the victors fills the world, and will be handed down to the last age of time. Which is the great event? the battle ? Ah, no! not unless it has more influence on eternity than the other. The great event is the poor beggar's conversion. That will be remembered when the trumpet of fame is hushed by the archangel's oath, that time shall be no longer. That will be a subject of gratitude and joy, of delight and praise, when the triumphs of contending nations are forgotten, and when those nations themselves are swept into oblivion by the besom of destruction.
$ 19. In addition to all the other powerful motives which should stimulate the Christian to activity, there is one which the Son of God assigned as a reason for his unwearied exertions; “ The night cometh, in which no man can work," the night of death, that will put an eternal end to all our labours for the glory of God in the salvation of man. The longest summer's day soon elapses, and he who toils from its dawn to its close, soon has to say, My labour is done. So