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ON THE CIRCULATION OF THE SCRIPTURES.
AMONG the numerous passages upon our minds the incalculable of Holy Scripture, enjoining on blessings of the knowledge of the Christians the duty of extending Gospel, and that the disseminathe knowledge of the word of God, tion of it was what he considered there is one of our Saviour's ob- the most important part of his miservations which has struck me nistry. If this be a just concluvery forcibly. I allude to his an- sion, how imperiously does it call swer to John's disciples, when upon all who profess Christianity to questioned as to whether he were imitate so glorious an example, and really the Messiah. He in reply that too with something of the meaenumerated the acts of divinity he sure of zeal which our blessed Rehad performed; and, commencing deemer displayed. The Bible Sowith the miraculous manner in ciety immediately struck me as. which he relieved the distress and presenting the simplest and most healed the infirinities of suffering efficacious means of accomplishing bumanity, by restoring the blind to this desirable object. How then sight, making the lame to walk, shall we dare to neglect this duty! cleansing the lepers, &c.; then ex- How can we be so blind to our hibiting a still stronger proof of his own interests as to neglect this boundless love to fallen man, at duty ? Not merely that by so doing the same time establishing his we incur the displeasure of the diomnipotence, he adds, the power vine Master who imposed it, but that he exercised over even the we injure ourselves by it even in a * king of terrors,” breaking the worldly sense. Are we parents jron sceptre of death, and rescuing what will secure us the affections his devoted victims.“ By_me the of children so purely as placing the very dead are raised.” But yet word of inspiration in their hands, there was another point by which teaching them its importance, and he could convey a more just idea regulating their ideas by its preof his character, one which was of cepts ? Are we favoured by Promore importance to those for whose vidence with the control over exsake he came down from heaven; tensive estates, on which are nuone which concerned not their tem- merous labouring tenants, ignoporal relief, but their everlasting rant of every thing moral or relihappiness. “I do not” (for so the gious, save an intuitive shrewdness eminent and pious Dr. Doddridge in their temporal interest :--permakes our Saviour to utter this im- haps this degree of ignorance may portant truth) “ court the rich and appear exaggerated, at least as far the great, as impostors are most apt as relates to this country, in this to do: nor do I bear a commission day of general knowledge; but I chiefly directed to them, as some fear it is more general than is imaof the prophets did; but as you gined. . I had occasion a short see, by the auditory now around time ago to visit a village about me,
the poor, and even the mean- one hundred miles from town, where est of the people, have the Gospel but very few of the inhabitants preached to them; they have the could either read or write. As good news of salvation most freely to religion, they were but a few depublished among them, and the grees removed either from the blessings of it offered to their ac- American Indian, or African Hotceptance."
tentot. It is true, public service is Surely, thought I, from this pas- performed once every Sunday, and sage our Saviour wished to imprint à dozen, perhaps twenty, of the
old men and women may attend distributing, Bibles among
the divine worship; but there their re- sailors, and palavering too much ligion ends ; while the generality to them about religion, you would do not seem to have any idea of the destroy that fearless character and obligation of keeping holy the sab- total unconcern about death for bath-day, even by attending to the which they are distinguished, and formularies of religion. The pro- make milksops of them. A part prietor of this and some adjoining of this charge is just; and if it be a villages rarely appears among crime to remove their total unconthem; and when he does, he is cern about death, I for one plead too much engaged in his own sports guilty. I would give them Bibles and pleasures to attend either to to teach them that after death there the comforts, morals, or religion is a judgment; and that they, as of his tenants, How would such accountable creatures, must appear a man improve his own happiness at that bar. I would, if possible, and interests by attending to the excite a very great anxiety in their happiness and interests of his te- minds about death, by awakening nants; by giving them instruction, them to a sense of their state as and placing in each of their hands sinners; but having destroyed that a Bible! What a change might unconcern,
I would establish not, under the blessing of the Holy something better in its place. InSpirit, in a short time be expe- stead of a callous feeling, the fruit rienced! Religion increases of ignorance, I would give them man’s, industry and corrects his the firmest of all supports—the ideas of interest; it teaches him, Rock of Ages made theirs by faith. that “ the powers that be are or- No reasoning can induce me to dained of God;" and that
believe, that making a bold man a “ Order is heaven's first law, and this Christian deprives him of his couconfest,
rage, and renders him a coward; Some are, and must be, greater than the his only fear then will be to offend rest;
his God. It is not by assuring a More rich, more wise; but who infers from hence
man, that through the eternal SaThat such are happier, shocks all com
viour life and immortality shall
be his portion, and endless happiAnd thus by inculcating content- ness his reward, that you make ment the poor man is rendered him afraid of the valley, however happy in his situation, and taught dreary, through which he must to know, that though he is bound pass to obtain these; at all events, to exert himself for the support of not when the same Saviour prohis wife and family, it is not only mises to be with him in all difficulcensurable but criminal to neglect ties. When deaths fly around him the interests of those whom Provi- in all directions, and comrades dence has placed over us.
bleed by his side or expire at his The same will apply, varying feet, the promises of his Lord will the circumstances, to all relations recur to his mind, and he will, as it of society. We have pleasing evi- were, hear the voice of his Saviour dence of the beneficial effects whispering, “ Be not afraid, for I arising from such systems adopted am with you always;" he will in manufactories; and no reader of know, that without “ His permisthe annals of Bible Societies can sion not a sparrow can fall to the fail of deriving gratification from ground;" and if his probationary the accounts of the good that has course be finished, the leaden been done by distributing Bibles to death that wounds his flesh will but our hardy tars and brave soldiers. open for his soul a passage to the I have heard it objected, that by “celestial gate;" and though the
pangs of dissolution may rend his membrance of his imperfections :frame, the same soothing voice will with what rapture will he hear again sound in his ear, “Be not Omnipotence proclaim,
" Be not afraid, 'tis I,” who am now taking afraid, 'tis I”–who, though your thee to myself. And at the great Judge, am also your Saviour and judgment, when, sinking under the Advocate. consciousness of his own guilt, he May I be prepared for this dread sees the Judge of quick and dead tribunal, by obtaining the favour of appear in all the majesty of heaven, that only Advocate who can suchis heart ready to fail at the re- cessfully plead at that bar! C. V.
ON ATTENTION TO WORLDLY BUSINESS.
But though our heavenly FaFather's business.—Luke, ii. 49. ther's business is thus incumbent
In the example of Christ, we on us, and though such is our haphave a model for our conduct in piness in attending to it, we are by every period of our lives, and un- nature the willing slaves of Satan; der every circumstance peculiar to and although eternal death is his each period.
An account is here wages, yet he has so blinded our given of his early piety. He did minds, that if divine grace did not not propose to begin his spiritual interpose for our rescue, we should course when the career of life was yield him a willing obedience to half run; he commenced both to- our life's end.
But even among gether. With the dawningi of his those who are eventually rescued reason; his graces began to unfold; from his power, how many spend and as he increased in stature, he the prime of their days in his serincreased in the wisdom which is vice, and then come into the service from above.
of God as it were maimed, halt, Religion may be aptly compre- and blind; incapable, through adhended under this expression-our vanced age, increasing infirmities, heavenly “Father's business." To and confirmed habits of sin, of vithis grand concern we are bound gorous exertion in his cause: but, diligently to attend : it is the end nevertheless, the merciful God freof our being : every thing else must quently receives those who offer be subservient to it. It is for this themselves at the ninth and elethat our time, talents, and all our venth hours, and gives to these other privileges, natural and spiri- last even as to the first. Thanks tual, are given us. This is the only be to God if the above description concern in which our success is in- does not apply to us. sured and our gain eternal; and Some have erroneously thought, for this important business, the sea- that the service of God is exclusive son of youth is peculiarly appro- of all worldly concerns, and therepriate. “ Remember now thy Cre- fore have superstitiously retired ator in the days of thy youth ;" is into perpetual solitude. But not among the last injunctions of the to dwell on the mischief, nay the imwise man. Whoever wishes for a possibility of an universal practice plentiful harvest must sow his seed of this kind, it is sufficient to conin due season; but whoever defers sider that this life is a state of
proit till the time “ when the sun, bation--a state of warfare-of acand the moon, and the stars are ob- tive service, and not of listlessness scured,” cannot expect those fruits and inactivity. You are serving which can only be nourished and God while you are diligent in the ripened by a genial influence. business of your earthly master, and you cannot serve him accept- such views, and to such ends. Let ably without. "Be diligent in busi- us strive, by a diligent use of the pess, fervent in spirit, serving the means of grace, to maintain in our Lord,” says St. Paul. And what own souls a lively sense of the makes the Christian so peculiarly love of Christ, and labour continudiligent in all his lawful temporal nually that our obedience may keep concerns, is, that he performs them pace with our knowledge of his from the sweet constraining prin- will. That his love may be our ciple of love to God, and with a motive, his favour our reward, single eye to his glory; and look- and that our lips may be devoted ing upon God as his
supreme Mas- to his glory, is my sincere and ter, attends to them as serving hearty prayer. O may grace more « God rather than man.
." It is de- reign in our hearts through rightelightful to see a young man thus ousness unto eternal life by Jesus acting from such a motive, with Christ our Lord." Amen.
ON THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT.
EXTRACT FROM A SERMON ON. ROM. VIII. 16. We may infer from this passage, ciple, which “is rather to be dethat if we are, indeed, the chil- scribed as to its operations, than dren of God, there are two wit- to be defined as to its essence,” is nesses to the fact, viz. the Spirit of variously designated as the mind, the Lord and our own conscience the soul, the heart, and the conSuch I take to be the meaning of science-here it is called “ the words :—The Spirit itself bears spirit *.” eth witness together, or in con- 1. If then we are the real chiljunction, with our spirit. Of these dren of God, we shall not be two witnesses St. Paul elsewhere totally destitute, in the first place, speaks severally and distinctly. of the inward testimony of our Of the former, Gal. iv. 6; of the conscience, that such is our state latter, 2 Cor. i. 12. Here (Rom. and character; though at the same viii. 16) the same inspired writer time it must be allowed, that this describes the united testimony of humble consciousness will, in difboth, " the Spirit of the Son” cor- ferent characters, considerably vary roborating “ the testimony of our in degree, and in the same indiconscience." See also Rom. ix. 1. vidual may be stronger at one pe
Even a slight review of the con- riod than at another. Every betext can hardly fail to convince us, liever in Christ has received power that by “ the Spirit itself” is in- to become the child of God, being tended God the Holy Ghost, the born, not of blood, nor of the will third person in the eternal Trinity of the flesh, nor of the will of man,
“our spirit,” we must un- but of God. This, which is dederstand that immortal principle
* I must confess myself not fond of nice within us, whereby we think, rea
metaphysical distinctions at any time, ani son, and judge; whereby we are
least of all upon theological points. To enabled to call to mind our actions, me, therefore, it does not appear at all words, and thoughts, and com- needful to define very nicely, or distinctly, paring them with the eternal rule what we are here to understand by “our delivered to us in the word, to form spirit.” Nor do I think that it involves
the least self-contradiction, but is perfeetly a judgment of our character ac
consistent to understand it, of the encordingly. This reflecting prin- lightened conscience, of the renewed mind.
scribed in Scripture as a new crea- things as the marks of his adop? tion, a being turned from darkness tion, and as the earnest of his futo light, a resurrection to newness ture inheritance. But, of life from a state of spiritual 2. The testimony of our own death, cannot surely be either spirit upon the point of our adop
trivial an imperceptible tion into the family of God, will change. Those who have expe- be strengthened and corroborated rienced it were once darkness, but by another more important witnow are they light in the Lord; ness, even that of the Holy Ghost the shades of natural ignorance himself; for, saith the Apostle, have passed away, the daylight of “ The Spirit itself beareth witness saving truth hath dawned upon with our spirit.” Now this he does, them, and the day-star arisen in not by any extraordinary influence, their hearts. And I ask, is it or supernatural impulse; but by possible that such an alteration in dwelling in the hearts of Christheir religious views and senti- tians, and progressively carrying ments, as is here evidently im- on there his own proper work ; plied, could have taken place, and for we may be assured, that he themselves remain wholly uncon- dwells and abides in all such as a scious of it? Surely not.
Spirit of light, life, holiness, and The affections, also, of the re- love; enlightening, quickening, newed mind have undergone a sanctifying, drawing forth into exchange no less remarkable. The ercise all the various graces of the child of God is now weaned from Christian character, and, espethe world to which he was before cially, shedding abroad in the entirely wedded; reconciled to heart more and more the love of God, with whom he was once at Christ, which is the main spring enmity; and captivated by the love and principle of action, and the of Christ, which was previously an very soul of all holy and acceptutter stranger to his breast. Di- able obedience. vine grace has thus made him to Thus it is that the Lord sets his differ from his former self, and mark as it were upon the foreheads from a world still lying in wicked- of his people in characters legible, ness around him, and of this dif- in some measure, even to themference he has a humble consci- selves and others. Thus it is, that ousness; "his spirit” testifies to every child of God, as Leighton the change.
beautifully describes it, Neither is the believer wholly sealed with the Holy Spirit of prounconscious of the actings of faith. mise, bears upon him the likeness If convinced of his sins, he has of his heavenly Father, just as the groaned under the oppressive bur- figures engraved upon the signet den of their guilt; if, perceiving are copied out upon the wax.” and feeling himself lost, he has So that, not only does the Lord sought and obtained in the Lord know them that are his ; but they, Jesus Christ a Saviour altogether being enabled to depart from inisuitable to and sufficient for him; quity and to follow after holiness, and if, in a believing application are themselves brought in some to Jesus, encouraged by the pro- humble measure to the knowledge mises of his word, he has ex- of their blessed state, and unperienced the efficacy of his peace- speakably precious privileges ; the speaking blood, atoning death, Spirit itself bearing witness with and spotless righteousness; if such their spirit by his own work, opehas indeed been his happy expe- ration, and influence. rience, doubtless his conscience The Spirit itself bears witness will bear ample tcstimony to these with the spirit, or conscience, of the