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and the topstone of it laid, with shoutings of "grace, grace !" unto it.
As a branch of this piety, I will recommend a serious and fruitful improvement of the various dispensations of Divine Providence which we have occasion to notice. More particularly : Have you received any special blessings and mercies from the hand of
God ? You do not suitably express your thankfulness; me you do not render again according to the benefit that
is done unto you, unless you set yourself to consider,
66 What shall I render unto the Lord ?! You should | contrive some signal thing to be done on this occa
sion ; some service to the kingdom of God, either within yourself, or among others, which may be a just confession and memorial of what a gracious God has done for you. This is an action, to which the "good-. ness of God leadeth you." And I would ask, How can a good voyage, or a good bargain be made without some special returns of gratitude to God? I would have a portion of your property made a thankoffering, by being set apart for pious uses.
Whole days of thanksgiving are to be kept, when the favours of God rise to a more observable height. Christians of the finer mould keep their private ones, as well as bear part in the public services.
One exercise for such a day is, to take a list of the more remarkable suecours and bounties with which our God has comforted us ; and then, to contrive some suitable acknowledgments of him, in endeavours to serve him ; and this by way of gratitude for these undeserved comforts.
On the other hand ; you meet with heavy and grievous afflictions. Truly, it is a pity to be at the trouble of suffering afflictions, and not get good by them. We get good by them, when they awaken us “to do good;" and I may say, never till then! When God is distributing sorrows to you, the sorrows still come upon some errands; therefore, the best way
for you to find that they do not come in his anger, is to consider what the errands
be. The adyice is, that when any affliction comes upon you, you immediately reflect, "to what special act of repentance does
this affliction call me? What miscarriage does this affliction find in me, to be repented of ?" And then, while the sense of the affliction is yet upon you, seriously inquire, "to what improvement in holiness and usefulness does this affliction call me ?"
Be more solicitous to gain this point than to escape from
your affliction. 0! the peace that will compose, possess, and ravish your minds, when your afflictions shall be found yielding these "fruits of righteousness !"
Luther did well to call afflictions, “theologiam christianorum”—“ the theology of christians." This may be a proper place to introduce one direction
We are travelling through a malicious, a calumnious, and abusive world. Why should not malice be a "good informer?” We may be unjustly defamed ; it will be strange if we are not frequently so. A defamation is commonly resented as a provocation. My friend, make it only a provocation to do good works! The thing to be now directed is this: Upon any reproach being offered, instead of being transported into a rage at Shimci, retire and patiently inquirc, “Has not God bidden such a reproach to awaken me to some duty ? To what special service of piety should I be awakened, by the reproach which is cast upon me?" One thus expresses it: “The backbiter's tongue, like a mill-clack, will be still in motion, that he may grind thy good name to powder. Leara, therefore, to make such use of his clack as to make thy bread by it; I mean, so to live, that no credit shall be given to slander.” Thus all the abuses you meet with may prove to you, in the hand of a faithful God, no other than the strokes which a statuary employs on his ill-shaped marble; only to form you into a more beautiful shape, and make you fitter to adorn the heavenly temple. Thus you are informed of a way to shake off a viper” most advantageously! Yea, I am going to inform you, how you may fetch sweetness out of a riper. Austin would have our very sins numbered amongst the ball things” that are to swork together for good.” Therefore, first, I propose, that our former barrenness may now be looked upon as an obligation and incitement to greater
fruitfulness. But this motion is too general ; I must be more particular. I would look back on my past life, and call to mind what singular acts of sin have blemished it, and been the reproach of my youth. Now, by way of thankfuloess, for that grace of God and that blood of his Christ, through which my crimes have been pardoned, I would set myself to think, “What virtues, what actions, and what achier. ments for the kingdom of God will be the most contrary to my former blemishes ? And what efforts of goodness will be the noblest and most palpable contradiction to the miscarriages with which I have been chargeable ?" Yet more particularly, “What signal thing shall I do, to save others from dishonouring the great God by such miscarriages as those into which I myself once fell?” I will study such things ; and perbafs the sincerity and consolation of repentance, cannot be better studied than by such a conduct.
Give me leave to press this one more point of prudence upon you.
There are not a few persons who have many hours of leisure in the way of their personal callings.
When the weather takes them off from their business, or when their shops are not full of customers, they have little or nothing to do. Now, Sirs, the proposal is, “Be not fools,” but redeem this time to your own advantage, to the best advantage. To the man of leisure as well as to the minister, it is an advice of wisdom, "Give thyself unto reading." Good books of all sorts may employ your leisure, and enrich you with treasures more valuable than those which you might have procured in your usual
. avocations. Let the baneful thoughts of idleness be chased out of our minds. But then also, let some thoughts on that subject, 66 What good may I do ?” succeed them. When you have leisure to think on that subject you can have no excuse for neglecting so to do.
ON DOING GOOD TO OUR RELATIONS, CHILDREN,
&c. The useful man may now with much propriety extend and enlarge the sphere of his exertion. My next proposal therefore shall be: let every man consider the RELATION, in which God, the sovereigo Roler, has placed him; and let him devise what good he may do, that may render his relatives the better for him. One great way to prove ourselves really good, is to be relatively good. It is by this, more than by any thing else, that we 66 adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour. It would be a piece of excellent wisdom in a man, to make the interest which he has in the good opinion and affection of any individuals, an advantage for doing good to them. He that has a friend will shew himself friendly indeed, if he think “Such a one loves me, and will hearken to me ; to what good shall I take advantage from hence to persuade him ?"
This will take place more particularly where the en. dearing ties of natural affection give us an interest. Let us call over our several relations, and let us devise something that may be called heroical goodness, in our discharging them. Why should we not at least once or twice a week, make this relative goodness the subject of our inquiries and of our purposes? Especially, let us begin with domestic relations, and
provide for those of our own house," lest we deny some glorious rules and hopes of the christian faith, by our negligence.
Firat. In the CONJUGAL RELATION, how agreeably may they, who are thus united, think on these words; 6 What knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband ? or, how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife ?”
The HUSBAND will do well to think ; 66 IVhat sball I do that my wife may have cause for ever to bless God for having brought her to me?! And, "What shall I do, that in my deportment towards my wife, the kindness of the blessed Jesus towards his church, may be exemplified ?" That this question may be the more perfectly answered, Sir, ask her to assist you in the answer; ask her to tell you what she would have you to do,
But then the wife also will do well to inquire ; "Wherein may I be to my husband a wife of that
character-She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life ?"
With my married friends I will leave an excellent remark, which I find in the Memorials of Gervase Disney, Esq." Family passions cloud faith, disturb duty, darkep comfort." You will do the more good to one another, the more this sentence is considered. When the busband and the wife are always contriving to be blessings to each other, I will say with Tertullian,
“Where shall I find words to describe the happiness E of that state !"* O happy marriage !
PARENTS! How much ought you to be devising for the good of your children. Often consider, how
to make them 6 wise children ;" how to carry on a 11. desirable education for them, an education that may
render them desirable ; how to render them lovely and polite, and serviceable to their generation. Often consider how to enrich their minds with valuable knowledge; how to instil into their minds generous, gracious, and heavenly principles ; how to restrain and rescue them from the “ paths of the destroyer," and fortify them against their peculiar temptations. There is a world of good that you have to do for them. You are without the natural feelings of humanity if you are got in a continual agony to do for them all the good that lies in your power. It was no mistake of Packatas Drepanius, in his panegyric to Theodosius ; “Nature teaches us to love our children as ourselves.'t
I will prosecute the subject, by transcribing a copy of PARENTAL RESOLUTIONS, which I have somewhere met with. I
I. At the birth of my children, I would use all due solemnity in the baptismal dedication and consecration of them to the Lord. I would present them to the baptism of the Lord, not as a mere formality ; but, wondering at the grace of the infinite God, who will
* Unde sufficiam ad enarrandam fælicitatem ejus matrimoniż!
Instituente natura plus fere filios quam nosmetipsos diligimus.
Probably composed by the author himself, though expressed in this modest manner.