Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

182

Well doing the best argument against Evil Speaking.

and darkness. These are sweeping and indefinite charges, but, as far as they can be made out, we hesitate not to say that our lives, that our well-doing, have answered them all. We desire not to lay claim to any extraordinary holiness, we dare not deny our share of frailty, unworthiness and sin, but we can boldly affirin that accusations of this nature have as little application to us as to any community of christians whatever, and to repel them, we can appeal, with as much confidence as any, to our conduct, and to heaven. Do we dishonour thee, O God, can we dishonour thee, by listening with veneration to thy word, by keeping thy commandments, by obeying thy laws, by walking in thy ways, by receiving thy gifts with gratitude, by suffering thy chastisements with resignation, and by knowing no comparison between thy glorious name, and any other name, in heaven or in earth!-Do we rob the Saviour of his glory, by hailing him, with joy and thankfulness, as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world; by laying his precepts to our hearts, and by looking continually to that bright and eternal world which he has revealed, and to which he has ascended ? If, indeed, to manifest the influence of his doctrines and laws on our tempers and lives be to rob him of his glory, then we know not what glory to give, or what service to render. And how can they be said to lead men into dangerous error, who are constantly inculcating on them sentiments like these, who beseech them, as they love their own souls, to raise their thoughts and views from the objects and pursuits of sense and time, and fix them on higher and worthier things, and on another and an endless world, who exhort them, as they love and fear God, to accept his offers, and perform bis requirements, to deal justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before him? As to our doctrines, let them be examined. They are plain, and intelligible, and worthy of God. We fear not the scrutiny; we invite it. In the mean time, let us never forget, let us continually impress on ourselves, and on each other, the exceeding value of unexceptionable conduct, of purity of intention, and holiness of life. Virtue, in a religious community, as in an individual, is indispensable, and all-powerful. It is an argument which is universally felt and understood, and one which will be finally victorious. We trust that it is an argument which we shall always be able to offer. If any views of religion are calculated to furnish it, they are our own. They are every thing which is animating, ennobling, and purifying, and will, we doubt not, continue to produce their natural fruits of good feeling and virtue, while there is any feeling in the heart, or virtue in the world.

MISCELLANEOUS COLLECTIONS.

EXTRACTS FROM A LETTER ON CANDOUR.

BY ROBERT ROBINSON:

A FRIEND of yours, a man of infinite complaisance to the ladies, sat down one day to study the opinions of the primitive fathers on Baptism; after others, be began Tertullian's book on that subject. _That book, you know, is entitled Quinctus Septimius Florens Tertullian, Presbyter of Carthage, on Baptism, against Quintilla. Imagining that the African father was as great an admirer of the ladies as himself, he did not doubt but he should be much edified by Tertullian's addressing Quintilla on baptism. Wisdom, gravity and politeness, said he to himself, are united here, to be sure. But how would you have smiled had you seen his panic, when he discovered in the fifth line of the first chapter that Tertullian falls to abusing her, calling her a heretic, a viper, a serpent, an asp, a most monstrous creature, whose doctrine was of the most poisonous kind. Hah! cried be, is this an Afri. can tête-a-tête ! 'Is this your spirit, Tertullian! If you are a gentleman, where's your breeding? If a christian, where's your meckness? If a philosopher, where's your good sense? Well, well, said he (closing the huge book) perhaps Quintilla and you may be well met. E'en scold it out. I'll go seek a gentler tutor.

The question here is not whether your friend's conclusion from the premises was quite logical; whether asperity and argument may not be sometimes united ; but whether passionate writers do not generally produce similar effects on their readers. People are naturally prepossessed in favour of a sufferer; they naturally become prejudiced against such a violent pleader; they cannot help saying, What's the matter? If your accounts be right, why so prodigiously agitated? You surely design to impose on us, and would deter us from detecting you. certainly conscious of having maintained a defenceless cause, and you are making effrontery supply the place of argument; thus giving us brass instead of gold.

People are never safe with antagonists of this fierce temper; they are formidable beyond expression in some places. Hence that smart reply of Dr. De Launoi at Paris. The Dr. had made free to censure that angel of the schools, Thomas Aquinas. The Dominicans were exasperated at this, and apologized for their angelical doctor. One day a friend said to De Launoi, You

You are

bave disgusted all the Dominicans, they will all draw their pens against you.' Said he, with a malicious air, I dread their penkenives more than I do their pens.'

You lament, (and indeed who can help lamenting?) the bad spirit of too many religious controversies. Religion is a sacred thing, and meekness is a part of it; whence then is it, that prejudice and passion in some, fire and flame in others, appear in these disputes ? The gospel is nothing of all this; the gospel needs nothing of all this; all this disgraces the gospel, for which reason perhaps our Saviour forbad the devils to publish his mission.

The fierce disputes of christians have always scandalized the good cause, and will always continue to do so, till mildness and moderation succeed violence; and then christianity will reassume her primitive habit, and with that, her native prevalence.

There is in the life of archbishop Tillotson a fine example of the deportment here pleaded for. While Dr. Tillotson was dean of Canterbury, he preached at Whitehall, before bis majesty Charles the second, a sermon in which were these words. "I cannot think, till I be better informed (which I am always ready to be) that any pretence of conscience warrants any mao that is not extraordinarily commissioned, as the apostles and first publishers of the gospel were, and cannot justify that commission by miracles, as they did, to affront the established religion of a nation, although it be false, and openly draw men off from the profession of it, in contempt of the magistrate and the laws. All that persons of a different religion can in such case reasonably pretend to, is to enjoy the private liberty and exercise of their own consciences and religion, for which they ought to be very thankful,' &c. &c. When the dean had ended his sermon, said a certain nobleman to the King, who had been asleep most part of the time, 'Tis pily your majesty slept, for we have had the rarest piece of Hobbism that ever you heard in your life. Ods fish, replied the king, he shall print it then. The dean was according. ly ordered to print it. He did so, and as soon as it came from the press, sent one, (as he usually did) to his friend, the Rev. Mr. John Howe. Mr. Howe (you know) had been ejected for nonconformity, and was at that time pastor of a congregation in London. On reading the deac's sermon, he was exceedingly troubled at the above cited passage, and drew up a long expostulatory letter on the subject. He signified how much he was grieved, that in a sermon against popery he should plead the popish cause against all the reformers. He insisted upon it, that we had incontestable evidences of the miracles wrought by the apostles, and that we are bound to believe them, and take religion to be established by them, without any farther expectations. What, (said he must the christian religion be repealed, every time a wicked governor thinks fit to establish a new religion ? Must no one stand up for the true religion till he can work a miracle ?' &c. Mr. Howe carried the letter himself, and delivered it into the dean's own hand, wbo, thinking they should be less interrupted in the country, proposed Mr. Howe's dining with him at Sutton-court, the seat of the Lady Falconbridge. The invitation was accepted, and Mr. Howe read over the letter to the dean, and enlarged on its contents, as they were travelling along together in his chariot. The dean, at length convinced of his mistake, fell a weeping freely, and said that this was the most unhappy thing that had of a long time befallen him. I see (says he) what I have offered is not to be maintained. Let bigots censure the good archbishop Tillotson's friendship and tenderness to dissenters ; let them exclaim at his want of zeal; exclusive of the rest of his conduct, the single example above recited, will make you cry out with Bishop Burnet, His conduct needs no apology, for it is above it. Farewell.

FUNERAL ANTHEM.
FROM MILMAN's 6

MARTYR OF ANTIOCH.'
Brother, thou art gone before us, and thy saintly soul is flown
Where tears are wiped from every eye, and sorrow is unknown;
From the burthen of the flesh, and from care and fear released,
Where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.

The toilsome way thou'st travelled o'er, and borne the heavy load,
But Christ hath taught thy languid feet to reach his blest abode.
Thou’rt sleeping now, like Lazarus upon his father's breast,
Where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.

Sin can never taint thee now, nor doubt thy faith assail,
Nor thy meek trust in Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, fail. [hest,
And there thou’rt sure to meet the good, whom on earth thou lovedst
Where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.

Earth to earth,' and dust to dust,' the solemn priest bath said,
So we lay the turf above thee now, and we seal thy narrow bed ;
But thy spirit, brother, soars away among the faithful blest,
Where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.

And when the Lord shall summon us, whom thou hast left behind,
May we, untainted by the world, as sure a welcome find;
May each, like thee, depart in peace, to be a glorious guest,
Where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.
New Series-vol. IV.

24

ON PRAYING FOR ONE ANOTHER.

•You are apprized, I presume, of the extraordinary fact that after the prayer meeting, holden by ministers last (Election] week, in Park-street, a motion was made by Rev. Mr. Pond, and the vote carried, to set apart for prayer in their several churches, the hour from 8 to 9 o'clock every Saturday evening, that it may please God to visit Boston and the University at Cambridge with the out-pourings of his spirit. It is a good thing to pray for one another, and I know not but the motion and the vote proceeded from the purest motives. But there is something in this attempt to carry the unhallowed feelings of controversy to the Throne of Grace, which shocks me. It cannot, if executed, but have an unhappy intluence on churches and will inspire them, I fear, with a spirit of cursing rather than of prayer.'-Christian Register.

The propriety and duty of praying for one another will not, of course, be called in question by any, who believe in the Scriptures, or in the efficacy of prayer in general. There are those, whom we cannot love or esteem, and there are those, whom we ought not to aid or countenance ; but there are none for whom we may not and ought not to pray. We may be onable to render our fellow-creatures any other assistance, or they may be 'unable, or perhaps unwilling, to receive it; but we can at least pray for them. And to suppose that such intercessions, when rightly made, will have no avail, seems to us like making the Deity as senseless an object of invocation as the idols of the heathen.

Much however depends upon the manner and spirit in which this duty is performed. Our prayers for one another in order to be acceptable, must be made in charity. We are required to

pray for those who differ from us in opinion, and even for our personal enemies ; but better would it be for us not to pray for them at all, unless we can pray for them in charity. There is a glaring inconsistency in affecting to pray for men, when in our hearts we feel nothing but bitterness and jealousy towards them. It is gross hypocrisy to pray for men, when we are doing every thing in our power to injure and wrong them. I'nless we can divest ourselves of uncharitable feelings towards those for whom we would pray, and unless we can appeal to our general conduct to prove that we have done this—to pray for them would be mockery. (Nay worse; it would be a vain and impious attempt to practise upon the Searcher of hearts

« AnteriorContinuar »