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The meanness of the earthen vessel, which conveys to others the Gospel Treasure, takes nothing from the value of the treasure. A dying hand may sign a Deed of Gift of incalculable value. A shepherd's boy may point out the way to a philosopher. A beggar may be the bearer of an invaluable present.
A WRITER of Sermons has often no idea how many words he uses, to which the common people affix either no meaning, or a false one. He speaks, perhaps, of “ relation to God:” but the people, who hear him, affix no other idea to the word, than that of father, or brother, or relative. The preacher must converse with the people, that he may acquire their words and phrases.
It sometimes pleases God to disqualify Ministers for their work, before he takes them to their reward. Where he gives them wisdom to perceive this, and grace to acquiesce in the dispensation-such a close of an honourable life, where
the desire to be publicly useful survives the power, is a loud-AMEN to all former labours.
INFIDELITY AND POPERY.
INFIDEL writings are ultimately productive of little or no danger to the Church of God. Nay, we are less at a loss in judging of the wisdom of Providence in permitting them, than we are in judging of many other of its designs. They may shake the simple, humble, spiritual mind ; but they are, in the end, the means of enlightening and settling it.
There are but two sorts of people in the world. Some walk by the light of the Lord; and all others lie in the wicked one, in darkness and in the shadow of death. Where there is not an enlightened, simple, humble, spiritual mind, notions and opinions are of little consequence. The impudent and refuted misrepresentations of Infidels may turn a dark mind to some other notions and way of thinking; but it is in the dark still. Till a map sees by the light of the Lord, every change of opinions is only putting a new dress on a dead carcase, and calling it alive.
The grace of God must give simplicity. Wherever that is, it is a security against dangerous error: wherever it is not, erroneous opinions may perhaps less predispose the mind against the truth of God in its lively power on the soul, than true notions destitute of all life and influence do,
Yet the writings of Infidels must be read with caution and fear. There are cold, intellectual, speculative, malignant foes to Christianity. I dare not tamper with such, when I am in my right mind. I have received serious injury, for a time, even when my duty has called me to read what they have to say. The daring impiety of Belsham's answer to Wilberforce ruffled the calm of my spirit. I read it over while at Bath, in the Autumn of 1798. I waked in pain, about 2 o'clock in the morning. I tried to chear myself by an exercise of faith on Jesus Christ. I lifted up my heart to Him, as sympathizing with me, and engaged to support me. Many times have I thus obtained quiet and repose: but now I could lay no hold on him: I had given the enemy an advantage over me: my habit had imbibed poison : my nerves trembled: my strength was gone! " Jesus Christ sympathize with you, and relieve you! It is all enthusiasm ! It is idolatry! Jesus Christ has preached his sermons, and done his duty, and is gone to heaven! And there he is, as other good men are! Address your prayers to the Supreme Being!"-I obtain relief in such cases,
by dismissing from my thoughts all that enemies or friends cau say. I will have nothing to do with Belsham or with Wilberforce. I come to Christ Himself. I hear what He says. I turn over the Gospels. I read his conversations. I dwell especially on his farewell discourses with his disciples, in St. John's Gospel. If there be meaning in words, and if Christ were not a deceiver or deceived, the reality of the Christian's life, in Him and from Him by faith, is written · there as with a sun-beam.
This temptation besets me to this day, and I know not that I have any other which is so particular in its attacks upon me. I am sometimes restless in bed; and, when I find myself so, I generally think that the parenthesis cannot be so well employed as in prayer. While my mind is thus ascending to Christ and communing with him, it often comes across me
“ What a fool art thou to imagine these mental effusions can be known to any other Being! what a senseless enthusiast to imagine that the man who was nailed to a cross can have any knowledge of these secrets of thy soul !" On one of these occasions it struck me with great and commanding evidence
Why might not St. John, in the Isle of Patmos-imprisoned perhaps in a cave-why might not he have said so?. Why might not be have doubted whether Christ the crucified could have knowledge of his feelings, when he was in the Spirit on the Lord's day? He had no doubt communion with Christ in the Spirit, before he had those palpable evidences of his presence which immediately followed.”
In the permission of certain bold infidel characters and writings, we may discern plain evidences of that awful system of judicial government with which God has been pleased to rule the world. Where there is a moral indisposition, where men are inclined to be deceived, where they are waiting as it were for a leader-there he sends such men or such writings, as harden them in their impiety: while a teachable and humble mind will discern the true character of such men or writings, and escape the danger.
I can conceive a character much more pernicious in its influence, than the daring and imprident Infidel. A man in the estimation of all the world modest, amiable, benevolent—who should, with deep concern, lament the obligation under which he feels himself to depart from the religion of Europe, the religion of his Country, the religion of his Family; and should profess his unfeigned desire to find this religion true, but that he cannot possibly bring his mind to believe it, and that for such and such reasons: when he should thus introduce all the strongest points that can be urged on the subject. 'ER!