Sidor som bilder

This good man was a happy instance of the attractive power of true religion: wherever he went, he was admired and beloved ; even when lie visited distant parts with his master's sheep for their wintering, the good people all around used to cares* liim, and delight to hear his pious ami simple conveisation; and when, about a year before his death, the loss of si^ht totally incapacitated hirn for his pastoral office (as it may be carted) the neighbouring farmers invited him to visit them for a month together. It had beeu his constant prayer that the Lord would not let him long struggle with death, or lie long ill, to be troublesome to his friends; and the Lord granted hi* request.

Being on a visit to one of his friends at Wyke, the dear aged saint united, as usual, with the family in prayer; and was afterwards heard to pray with extraordinary fervencv in his own room: he slept with the son of his kind host; and after he was in bed, began to open to him the things of God, and talked to him of the blessed Jesus till he fell asleep,—to wake no more till the resurrection of the just; for in the morning he was found dead! At the joint exnence of his friends, and as a mark of their particular respect, his remains were conveyed to his own parish, where they were interred with more than usual solemnity, about the middle of September, I7*j6, and in the eightieth year of his age. Thus was he, as a shock of corn futly ripe, gathered into the garner of the Lord!

Miss Mores admirable tract, before referred to, contains a just delineation of this extraordinary person; and tho* for many of the incidents we are, doubtless, indebted to her elegant and inventive pen, the reader will peruse it with new interest, when he finds the outlines to be faithful, and the conversations recited in perfect harmony with the real character of the man; for though " simple and unlearned," as the world would call him, he possessed uncommon natural abilities; and, what is far better, was endued with a large portion of that "wisdom which is from above, — pure and peaceable!"


TnE judgments of God are now abroad in the earth! That scourge, with which the Almighty lately afflicted Holland, Ilaly, and Switzerland, is now laid upon Germany, with a heavy hand. From the reports that have reached us, armies have been almost annihilated, cities taken, villages abandoned, the wise frustrated in their councils, and the valiant Rave let those weapons Tall'from their hands with which they hoped to defend their country. Judgments, long threatening Britain, have, for the present, fallen upon Germany; but b.av« we any

assurance that they will be there exhausted? Who can tell, but before the storm is entirely spent, through a sudden turn of the winds of Providence, it may be directed to our own land? But, be that as it may, we have another warning,-a longer season is granted us to repent, reform, and learn righteousness. The finger of God is now writing his will, and our warning, instruction, and duty, in those calamities which are inflicted upon other nations. The cup of his wrath has already been handed from country to country: they have pledged each other therein, with a kind of intimation, that it was to pass from hand to hand till the contents should be exhausted. Thanks be to God, it has not yet come to us; but, while we rejoice, we tremble, recollecting, that the nearer it comes to the bottom, the more bitter the mixture will be found. “In the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red : it is fuil of mixture, and he poureth out of the same; but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them *.” Let us, therefore, listen to God's warning voice, and place ourselves under his wise instructions, that, as individuals we may not only find profit, but prevail for the happiness of others, adopting as our own those words of the prophet Isaiah (cbap. xxvi, ver. 9) “ 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." From these words, the following instructions are held out to us;

ist, That righteousness is happiness. The revealed will of God, as Governor of the Universe, is, that it is his pleasure to lead men to happiness by the way of righteousness; and all bis secret infiences and operations upon the boman mind, tend to the accomplishment of this grand and gracious design. Sia is properly the misery of a creature, whether we view it in its principle, its operation, or its effects. All the ini:ery expe. rienced by fallen man, or apostate angels, whether present or future, on earth or in Hell, during time or for eternity, is to be traced up to this bitter fountain ; as, on the contrary, all the felicity of saints upon earth, or of the spirits of just men now in Heaven, is the proper fruit and effect of rigineousness. By righteousness, we are to understand all the happy effects of a soul's union to Jesus Christ ; comprehending the way in which it is constituted and considered righteous belore God, as Judge; as also gradually sanctified, so as finally to be made meet to enjoy llim as its portion. In order to a guilty fallen creature being made rigirteous, sin must be pardoned, a righteousness not his own placed to his account, and both of them conveyed in a way which will not infringe upon one

[ocr errors]

of the divine perfections, but glorify them all. He must be made a partaker.of the spirit of faith and of supplication .- — a faith which more than assents to the propositions of divine truth, by entering into their very spirit, and thence deriving influence to subdue sin, sanctify the powers of the soul, and enable it to bring forth the fruits of righteousness by Jesus Christ. Such are justified by faith, stand in grace, work by love, are sanctified through the truth, and, finally, perfect holiness in the fear of God. But without the shedding of Christ's blood> there is no remission of sin; without remission, no acceptance before a holy God; without acceptance, no participation of a divine nature; and without holiness, no seeing of God to the creature's happiness. Thus is the principle confirmed, that righteousness is happiness. If further evidence be thought need(ul, we behold it confirmed in Adam, while he remained in the state in which he was created. Created in righteousness and true holiness, he was happy in his union to God, and communion with him. While the law of God was in the heart, he stood firm on the foundation of his created righteousness: his mind in unison with tbe will of God, in full subjection to him, and happy in his dependence on him: he was holy, harmless, undefiled, and wholly separated for God. So long as he continued in this righteous state he was happy.

?be experience of all those who are brought to believe in hrist unto righteousness, in some measure, confirms the tame. "Being justified by faith, they have peace with God, through the Lord Jesus Christ *." In him they find righteousness, refuge, and rest. Accepted in him, who is the beloved of the Father, grace is glorified; God is their friend. O what a privilege! Their Father, — what an honour! Their portion, — what a goodly heritage! Once he was angry with them; but now his anger is turned away, and he comforts them: he is reconciled to them after all they have done unto him! To karu righteousness then, is to learn the only way to he happy ! — If from individuals we turn our attention to whole communities or nations, it is sin that debases and gradually sinks a people into ruin ; — as, on the other hand, it is righteousness that exalts them to honour. "Righteousness," says Solomon, " exalteth "a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people-)-." It must, therefore, be the greatest reproach to that people who have the means, the invitations, and the encouragements to become righteous.

Secondly, Of this lesson the inhabitants of the world are generally very ignorant. They have to learn righteousness , lor, by birth, there is none righteous; no, not one. The miseries ol men, as individuals, and of whole communities, arise either from their igtioiauce of righteousness, or from their aversion ^o it. Happiness, indeed, is the desire of all; but their ideas.

• Rom. v. i. t Prov. xiv. 34,

of its nature, or of the particular object in which it is to be found, are as various as their country, customs, or constitutions. With all, however, happiness is “the one thing needful;" but were men deeply convinced that righteousness is the only ivtroduction, the proper earnest, and even a degree of real happiness itself, what a change would be produced in their characters and conduct! Such a conviction would turn this vale of tears into the region of peace and prosperity! But, alas! were we to traverse tbe globe, in many of the nations we should find some of the inhabitants, and in most of thein, all, who, from the early dawn of life to the last decline of old age, are crying, “ Who will shew us any good ?" These men, therefore, are the greatest friends to mankind who discover a concern to bave them enlightened by the ministrations of righteousness” and of salvation. Already, Paganism has stretched its devices to the utmost extent; Popery has introduced its pictures and inages to amuse the minds of men; and Mahometanism has held forth its sensual paradise to allure the voluptuous : but nothing short of the pure, unadulterated gospel of Christ can shew men 'the way to righteousness, or in- . sure to them the inberitance of perfect happiness! This is a lesson of which men are awfully ignorant: -- but,

Thirdly, God is the effectual Teacher of tbis truly interesting lesson, although he sometimes employs the severe method of his judgments to impress this truth upon the mind. If he list up his hand, he expects us to take , notice of it; -- his judgments are neither to be despised nor trilled with. Sliould men, therefore, resolve to shut their eyes when bis hand is lified up; and stop their ears, that they may not hear the voice of his ' rod, - they shall feel the sinart of the one by the weight of

the other. By his judgments now in the earth, God has opened a school to impart instruction to inen. “ These judgments are intended to warn the careless, to alarm the thoughtless, to rouse the secure, and to quicken the dull.” He then that is wise will observe these things; but no man will learn this lesson properly, but he that is taught it of God. He smites one nation to instruct anotlier : “ because they have no changes, therefore, they fear not God *.” When prosperity keeps a settled course, the earth is at rest and quiet; but when extraordinary turns of Providence, or judicial changes occur, then judginenis produce fear; fear, repeütance; repentance, prayer; and all of them issue in the bringing forth of righieousness. The cry is then heard, “ Who would not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name; for thy judgments are made manifesti!”To this school of judgment, God sent his own Son, to learn wbat that righteousness was which was requisite to justify the ungodly. Though he were a Son, yet learved he obedience by the ihings which he suffered I; and by what he suffered, we

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

are taught the holiness of the divine law, the evil that there is in sin, the rights of justice, and the riches of grace and mercy. By his judgments now in the earth, we also are taught the necessity of repentance, of personal and naliouai reformation, and of immediately breaking off iniquity by rii-hteousness. The present voice of his rod, now laid on the nations, addresses both our crimes and consciences, saying," Shall I

nation as yours?" To learn righteousness, is the only way of averting ruin. — May God write his instructions on our heart* ! —- for,

Fourthly, Sooner or later, the grand end of all God's judgments shall be accomplished in the inhabitants of the world learning righteousness. We seem, at present, to have made little progress in this divine science; yea, have let slip things which we have learned; but this divine Teacher faiuteth not, neither is he weary. A great work is now before him : much he has to bear from the untoward disposition of his scholars; but he keeps adding line to line, and precept to precept: if one class receives not instruction, he dismis-es that with displeasure, and introduces another. Thus wiil he go on to instruct, to correct, to dismiss, or to introduce, till the people become all righteous, and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ; and ignorant, wicked, yea, rebellious as the world is at prosent, the day will come, "when, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, his name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place, incense shall be offered to his name, and a pure offering; for his name shall be great among the Heathen We may not live to see the day when God does this; — but,

Fifthly, It is a blessing to individuals, and may prove of advantage to many, if even a few are brought to say," With my soul have I desired thee in the night, when others seek their rest or pleasure; and with my spirit within me will I seek thee early, when in the morning others return with eagerness to tlte world."—The vehemence of desire is here expressed by retired thoughtfulness; for when the soul is said to do, what nothing but the sou! can do, it supposes the most ardent exertions of the soul put forth in seeking the Lord. To desire with the soul, evidences the sweetest delight, and the highest expectations in the object desired. It is in effect, saying, Teach me, Lord, by the voice of thy judgments,— cause me to learn righteousness, ^- make me humble and holy, — hide me in thy pavilion, in the seeiet of thy tabernacle hide me, — set me upon the rock (|. Thus will the Christian seek to hide himself; pleading also for the peace of the place, and for the prospeiity of the nation in which he dwells. He v. iil give the Lord no rest, night nor day, till he establish Zion, and make it a praise throughout


the world!

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« FöregåendeFortsätt »