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attends with me statedly. In W., about seven miles from this, we have formed another association, consisting of between 40 and 50 members. I love this business, and it becomes in my estimation, more and more important. Who can calculate the advantages which would result to society, were all our youth well instructed in the Scriptures? Let us do what lies in our power towards accomplishing so desirable an object."
When his regular engagements would admit, it was a common thing with Mr. F. to walk from six to ten miles, for the purpose of attending a religious meeting; and if there were some humble cottage on or near his way, he would not fail to call; for he loved to preach the gospel to the poor. At the almshouse in A., having obtained permission, he commenced, and regularly attended, when practicable, a religious service on Sabbath evening. His services were always gratefully received. In his intercourse with the surrounding community he was judicious and conciliating, that he was uncommonly popular, and in his plans successful. His praise still lingers in those churches, where the influence of his benevolent zeal and labors was so happily felt.
In concluding this chapter, the attention of the reader will be called more particularly to the devotional habits of Mr. F.-his intercourse with God. He was eminently a man of prayer. He spent much time in secret devotion and meditation. On the Sabbath, particularly, his soul seemed to be drawn so near to God and heaven, that it cost a reluctant effort to bring back his mind to the business of this life. He was always careful to avoid all study, reading, and conversation, that did not tend directly to aid devotion. Prayer and praise, and benevolent labors, constituted his uniform employment on the day of sacred rest.
A species of prayer frequent with him, and which he inculcated. much on others, was intercession.
he wrote a letter to a friend, he observed a season of secret prayer for that friend. And on receiving a letter, he had no sooner broken the seal, than he repaired to his closet, where not unfrequently he would remain a long time.
It was the practice of Mr. Fisk in his devotional meditations and reflections to direct his attention, at the time, to some specific subject; some question of duty, some besetting sin, some plan of usefulness, the evidences he had of personal piety, &c. He kept distinct journals, in which he recorded his feelings and reflections on particular subjects and inquiries. Copious extracts will be given from three of his journals, which related to different topics of meditation and research. And instead of intermingling the reflections contained in these journals in chronological order, each one will be introduced, and continued separately from the others. This method is adopted for the purpose of preventing the abrupt termination of thought, which otherwise would frequently occur; and also to put the reader in possession of a connected series of reflections and inquiries on highly interesting and important subjects.
The first series of extracts will be taken from a Journal of Reflections, relating to the subject of SELF-EXAMINATION.
"Andover, Theological Seminary, July 4, 1816. A few days since I asked brother C. to give me a theme for meditation. He answered, "What evidence have you, that you are a Christian?' This morning I have read the 8th chapter of 'Baxter's Saints' Rest,' the object of which is to show how we may discern our title to the saint's rest. Reflections, suggested by the question proposed, and the chapter read, have led me to the conclusion, that I ought to make more thorough work in searching into the state of my own soul, than I have ever yet done. I propose now to take up the question
which was suggested to me, and examine it, for the purpose of ascertaining more definitely, whether I am a disciple of Christ or not.
It seems proper to institute this inquiry, because, if I am deceiving myself, I must perish, unless I discover the delusion. My eternal interest is at stake. I am now to inquire into my title to heaven. Come then, O my soul, apply thyself to this work. Lay aside thy love of ease, and bring all thy powers to the investigation. Remember, thou art now to attend to thy most important concerns, to transact business of awful moment. And, O Thou Spirit of light and truth, be present with thine aid. Thy presence I invoke, thine assistance I implore. Deny me not. Give me light. Let me understand the rules by which I should try myself; and may I at length, after a complete and impartial investigation, come to a correct conclusion. My inquiries shall have respect to three particulars:
“İ. The origin of religion in my soul;
“III. External fruits of piety. «I. Was my heart ever renewed? Momentous question! I would weigh it as in the fear of God. The Bible speaks of a new creation, a transforming and renewing of the mind, a new birth, a new heart, of dying to sin, of being brought out of darkness into light, of being reconciled to God, of being in Christ, and of being separate from the world. All these are but different modes of expressing the same thing. Have I ever experienced this? Once I was stupid in respect to religion, and devoted to sin; my affections were engrossed with the things of this world, while God and religion found no place in
Whether the great change has taken place or not, I can safely state as follows:
"There was a time when my attention was arrested, and fixed on the concerns of religion; my soul seemed precious, time short, life uncertain,
eternity near, the pleasures, honors, and riches of the world worthless, and the whole course of life I had pursued, extremely wicked and dangerous. For awhile the sovereignty of God appeared to me to be a capricious attribute, and my heart was full of those cavils and objections so common with the ungodly. I murmured against God. I refused to submit myself to his disposal, to yield obedience to his laws, or to trust in his Son for salvation. I labored to reform my life, and seemed to succeed. I labored to reform my heart, but all in vain. I repeated my efforts, and still failed of success.
“At length a change took place in my affections and views. I had new bopes and fears, new joys and sorrows, new attachments and aversions. O my God, what was that change? Did my heart then submit to thee, or was it delusion? Was that change only such as sinners may experience, and remain impenitent still; or was it a new creation? Two things, I think, are true concerning it.
“First. It is such a change as I have never experienced before or since. There was then an alteration in the state of my mind, of which I have never been conscious at any other time. But,
“Secondly.-It was not altogether such a change, as it appears to me the Bible describes. I sometimes find a difficulty in discovering in it any thing which answers exactly to being slain or crucified. I fear I was not entirely cut off, as by a sword, from all my self-righteous hopes, and carnal desires. I find a want of evidence, that the death-blow was struck.
“In some respects that change resembles regeneration, and in other respects it is unlike it. There seems in it something different from any of the operations of the unrenewed mind, and from all the modifications of sin. Still, considered as a genuine renovation of the heart, it appears to be attended with some great, if not radical defects. In short,
I am inclined to believe, that it is altogether unsafe for me to retain a hope that I am a Christian, unless I shall find very decisive evidence in considering the two other particulars proposed. If I there find, that what was apparently defective at first, has been improving since, my hope will be confirmed. The exercises, the nature of which I have now been examining, took place about eight years ago. I have had ample time for careful examination of the reasons of my hope, but would here record against myself, that I have criminally neglected the subject.
“August, 1816. II. What evidence of piety can I obtain from my subsequent religious exercises? Here I propose to consider the several graces which constitute Christian character.
“First, I inquire respecting my LOVE TO God.-. Look back, my soul, and review all thy religious exercises, then examine the present state of thy affections, and say, dost thou love God?-Are thy meditations of him sweet and delightful? Hast thou often, yea habitually, viewed him as present; and dost thou love to be in his presence? Dost thou rejoice in his greatness, and goodness, and holiness, and sovereignty? Is it thy delight, that he governs the Universe;—that thyself, thy concerns, and all other beings and interests are in his hands, and at his disposal, as the clay is in the hands of the potter? Is it thy happiness, that God has a perfect knowledge of thy character, as well as that of others! Wouldst thou, if it were possible, make any change in his attributes? Wouldst thou conceal any thing from Him? Is God the source of such happiness to thee, that thou couldst be satisfied in the enjoyment of him, were there no other being in existence! Does the consideration, that the Lord reigns, reconcile thee to thy lot, and thy trials, whatever they may be? Dost thou desire above all things else, that God may be honored,—that all intelligent beings may see his perfections--that all his purposes may be ac