Page images

other criterions; by increasing piness; and to talk of being happy light and knowledge, rather than without it is as palpable nonsense by the growth of those holy dispo. as to talk of being well without sitions and tempers, which are the health, or of being saved without effects of faith, and the fruits of salvation." In truth, our passage the Spirit; by outward zeal, and through this life is a state of disciuseful exertions, rather than by the pline, whereby our allwise Father increasing conformity to the mind is preparing us for perfect happiwhich was in Christ Jesus ; that ness, in the progressive attainment humble, self-denying, forbearing, of that holiness which constitutes meek, and watchful, spirit of prayer, the very atmosphere of heaven. which so much becomes a helpless Heaven is the abode of perfect and unworthy creature, within the bliss; and the cause of this is, confines of an enemy's country, that there no discordant note is with a deceitful heart within, and heard : each heart is tuned in harin the constant presence of a holy mony by the love of the living God, God.

; which diffuses itself in mutual beneTo such mistaken estimates of volence and peace; and all are perthe characteristics of true religion, fectly happy, because all perfectly D. W.'s observations furnish an obey the Divine will, and perfectly useful corrective, in shewing the fear and love the infinitely perfect faults to which mere opinion will and glorious God, the centre and be ever prone, (1 Cor. viii. 1-3.) the source of all excellence. Should and by calling the attention on this it be proposed to any of these holy, important point, from the assent to happy spirits, to multiply their joys opinions, to the practical effect of and increase their blessedness, by them on the heart, the temper, and freeing them from the yoke of this the conduct.' This subject has perfection of the Moral Law, would been well continued by Philono- they not, with holy pity at the inus's observations on the Moral ignorance which dictated the insi. Law, and subsequently, by Cautus's dious suggestion, reply, that conremarks on the injudicious use of formity thereto was the source of an important scriptural truth; for their chief privileges and sweetest every exhibition of doctrine must joys. Should it be answered, that be injudicious and imperfect which the Divine benevolence towards omits, or treats lightly, either of the them could not be questioned; nor Apostle's essentials in his preaching, could it change, being laid in the repentance toward God, and faith eternal counsels of him who is "the towards our Lord Jesus Christ. I same yesterday, to-day, and forever," would fain, sir, contribute my mite and therefore could not depend on in continuation, hoping that it may the minute observance of the recall forth more able writers on a quisitions of such a comprehensive subject, I conceive, of vital impor- law; would they not immediately tance to the purity of religion reply, that a mere declaration of amongst us.

Divine good will could not make I have ever considered Chris- them happy, unless accompanied tianity as a glorious provision for with a corresponding disposition in the happiness of man, originating their minds; a chord in unison with in unspeakable Love, devised by un- his eternal love, vibrating responerring Wisdom, and executed by sive to his gracious manifestations Almighty Power; and this accords of himself, and sounding his eternal with the views of that holy man, praise; that his service is perfect who defined true religion, as freedom, and he is the happiest, “ happiness in God.” This accords freest spirit, who is most conformed with the well-known saying of at all times, and in all places to his Richard Baxter, “ Holiness is hap- holy image, and is most subservient to his righteous, just, and blessed great Redeemer as our Prophet will.

and our King, as well as our High Now, sir, if it be the Christian's Priest; and join with the pious privilege, not only to have a heaven monarch of Israel, “ Do not I love in reversion beyond the grave, but thy commandments above gold and also to enjoy on earth the foretaste precious stones? Therefore hold I of the happiness of just men made fast all the commandments, and all perfect, in proportion as he parti. false ways. I utterly abhor:". cipates in their feelings and em- Convinced that exhortations to ployments; if, though our only title universal holiness, at all times saluto heaven be the merits of Him tary, are at present peculiarly so, who hath purchased eternal re, your valuable correspondents candemption for us, there must be a not render your pages more genemeetness wrought within our souls rally useful, than by a series of letfor the company of those pure ters, detailing the general nature of spirits, who a circle God's throne Christian holiness; the principles rejoicing;" if it is the Christian's from whence it proceeds; and the privilege to bave, his conversation truths op which it rests; and then in heaven, insomuch that our tracing its application, as it ipfiuchurch, in her most solemn service, ences the various faculties of the seems to draw the veil which hides mind, and feelings of the heart, in the spiritual and invisible world, the varied situations and relations and calls upon her children, as of political, and social, and domescitizens of that better country, to tic life; shewing, in all, its close join with angels and archangels, and connection with the purest happiall the company of heaven, in laud- ness. Such a treatise, proceeding ing and magnifying God's 'holy from the reasonings of an enlightenname;-if all this be so, shall we ed understanding, and from the renounce the peace and joy which glowing feelings and experience of accompanies the fulfilment of this a pious heart, would be generally law of Heaven,—the love of God useful, and particularly gratify with all the heart, and mind, and Your constant reader, soul, and strength, and the love of

J. D.L. our neighbour as ourselves? What Dublin, 8th Feb. 1815. folly would it be to suffer any sophistry to beguile us of that great reward, which is inseparable from keeping its holy precepts ? (Psalm. To the Editor of the Christian Obserder. cxix.): to rob us of that glorious The paper on “ the Nature and liberty, wherewith Christ was made Tendency of certain Theological is free froin the law of sin and Errors," which appeared in your death; that liberty in which Nuinber for October, and which, David walked in the ways of God's without ascribing to it a perfection commandments? (Psalm cxix.) Shall not to be expected in the works of we not rather rouse every faculty man, I must regard as a very valuto exertion, that each day may ex- able and excellent production, has, bibit. our main conformity to this I observe, occasioned considerable Divine law; a new feature of the disturbance in certain quarters. inhabitant of that world, where Some persons complain of the wriperfect love and happiness reign; ter as having “ laid to their charge that we may realise that gracious things which they knew not:" How promise, “ I will put my laws in this can be, I do not well undertheir minds, and write them in stand. He speaks of yo particular their hearts: and I will be to them individuals, nor of any distinct a God, and they shall be to me a bodies of men. He treats of cere people;' that we may receive the tain, errors, which he accurately CHRIST. OBSERY. No. 159.

U .

enough defines; and his only allu- "prevalent;" what alternative is sion to persons is under the cha- there between publicly noticing it, racter of those who are chargeable, in such a work, for instance, as the in whole or in part, with these Christian Observer, and suffering errors. Whoever, therefore, is it to go on and diffuse its influence, consciously free from them, ought“ eating as doth a canker ?" If the to feel equally conscious that ihe animadversion be made “ in love," censure conveyed is not intended and with “ the meekness of wis. for him.

dom," (in which respects I think But the principal charge pre- your correspondent entitled to high ferred, and that on which I wish to praise,) who can reasonably object offer a few observations, is, that to the proceeding? Is this to be your correspondent has employed called displaying the infirmities of himself in dragging forth to view, good men to profane eyes ? The and exposing to the profane gaze fact is, however blind we, and the of the world, the imperfections of circle of partial friends drawn good men. There is somewbat, around us, may be to our faults, the sir, very imposing in such a charge. world is no stranger to them: and It is easily made against any one we best counteract their effects, and who attempts, however bumbly aud consult for the honour of religion, kindly, to correct evils existing by acknowledging them, lainepting among persons “ professing godli- them, and striving to correct tbem nese;" and, 10 superficial readers, it iu ourselves and each other. may seem to require no further Is there not a danger, sir, at least proof, than what is furnished by a possibility, of our mistaking a the simple faet of having made morbid sensibility to our own resuch an attempt. The offence, putation for a righteous jealousy moreover, which it imputes, is very in the cause of religion? I am aware odious. From the spirit which of the necessity of proceeding with pervades his paper, I do persuade great caution, and of observing myself that there is nothing from many restrictions in the practice which D. W.'s heart would more for which, under proper limitations, recoil. But, sir, if this charge be I still must contend. Particularly loosely, inconsiderately, and in I am of opinion, with a writer, consequence unjustly, made, will whom many of your readers will it not involve its author in the guilt recognize and revere under the of speaking evil of his brother, and signature of T. S., “ibat the real falsely accusing his brother, who, excellencies of allowedly upright perhaps, was disinterestedly seek- characters should be prominently ing his improvement?

marked, whenever their faults are • If the evil to be corrected, what- publicly animadverted on." Yet I ever it may be, be the fault of an inust agree with him when he says, individual, let it by all means be “I am very far from tbinking, that pointed out to bimself, and not the real faults of any individuals, - made the subject of public remark. or any body of men, especially If a man sin privately, let him be bearing a public character, or in privately admonished. But if the any may distinguished as 'a city evil be open; if it attach vot to set on a hill,' should be sereeped one or two individuals only, but from public animadversion and cenextend to many, and those, per- sure. It appears to me that such sons in ostensible situations ; if it an exemption would be highly in. . relate to their public and official jurious to them, and extremely pre

conduct, and especially to their judical to mankind at large. Above instruction of ihe people, and all, I shall be the last to claim suche . Ibus be likely to spread and an exemption for the ministers of he disseninated, if it be already religiou, or for that distinct company to which I have the honour to be- come forth to the knowledge of long; for as their conduct is more multitudes. likely, than that of any other body Under proper restrictions, thereof men, to have an extensive and fore, I must be of opinion that permanent effect on the best inte openly to notice the public faults rests of mankind, it becomes propor- and errors of even good men, may tionably important that it should be be not only allowable, but even a correct; and nothing, except the duty; and that it may be in various special grace of God, tends to ren- ways useful. : der the conduct of any company i. It may benefit the persons correct, so much as liableness to themselves who are the subjects of public animadversion*.” - animadversion.--It is needless 'to

But here, as in all cases, our main say how blind we are prone to be appeal should be to the holy Scrip. to our own mistakes and defects. tures. · Is it their practice to draw Often we shall not discover them a thick veil over the faults of good but by the interposition of other characters? Have not the honesty persons. We ought to acknowledge and impartiality of the inspired some degree of obligation even to writers, in this respect, been al- an enemy, who enables us to disways considered as giving evidence cern and correct them : how much of the superior guidance under more to one who, with a friendly which they wrote? And is it not to intention, and in a Christian manthis faithful disclosure of the faults ner, points them out to us? But as well as excellencies of good men, this, as I have said, cannot be done that we owe a full half of the rich otherwise than publicly, where pubbenefit to be derived from reading licly prevailing errors are concernthe sacred histories ? Had the ed. A late eminent character, principle which seems now to be whose too early removal to a better contended for, been acted upon in world we are all lamenting, once the sacred volume, never should remarked to me, « The true Chris. we have heard of insincerity and tian is distinguished by an anxiety the want of faith in Abraham; of to be right in every thing." Surely fraud and deception in Jacob; of then such a person will thank the the violation of meekness in Moses; man who sets him right, or more of the ignorance and errors of the nearly right, in any thing.. Apostles during our Lord's life- 2. It may be useful to those time; of the dissension between among whom the errors in quesPaul and Barnabas; and much less tion may be likely to spread. If of the falls of Noah, David, and we are ourselves to call no man Peter. Never would St. Paul have father or master upon earth, cerpublicly withstood St. Peter, at tainly we are not to wish that Antioch, and afterwards have re. others should receive our dictates, ported his censure of him to the unconsidered and unexamined; but Galatians. Never would he have rather that, like the Jews of Berea, exposed the disorders of the Corin- they should “search the Scriptures thian Christians, in epistles, which, daily, whether these things be so or though immediately addressed to not.” And whatever tends to put the offending church, there could our people upon doing this, should be no doubt would in a short time not be offensive to us.

3. I cannot but consider such a * See Letter in the Christian Guardian

paper, as that of D. W., as calcufor May 1810. It may be remarked, that all these observations apply still more

lated to be eminently useful to strongly to the errors of ministers in young ministers, who have their what they teach to others, than merely scheme of divinity, and their plan to the faults of their own practice.

of preaching, in a great degree, yet to form.I know that the holy I am sensible that this observaScriptures are to be their great tion, in particular, may expose me, standard and model in every thing. among some persons, to the charge But I conceive it to be the excel- of aiming too much to be “a manlency of the paper in question, that pleaser." My only answer shall be it points out to them, with the fina in the words of the excellent Letter ger of a master, various important from an Old Clergyman to a young particulars to be specially noted one, with which you favoured us and copied in that great model. in your Number for January, and We are all, likewise, apt to be led which adds another to the many by authority, and the practice of valuable papers, calculated espe those around us: to many, there- cially for the benefit of the clergy, fore, the paper may be useful by which are to be found dispersed leading them to compare what they throughout the volumes of your have been accustomed to, with the miscellany. “There is," he says, scriptural standard.

:“ an apostolic rule given us, by 6.4. I do conceive such a notice of which it is our duty to proceed, existing faults and errors to be even with those whose approbation likely to prove beneficial, rather there is scarcely a hope of obtaiuthan prejudicial, even to men of the ing, giving no offence in any world. bave before said, how thing, that the ministry be not vain it is to think of hiding our blamed.' I am far from intending faults from their view. They will to advise you to be a pleaser of men. discover them whether we do or All I desire is, that there may be not. Wbat then will be the effect, nothing to object to in your minion the one hand, if we will see no stry, but the purity of your doctrine thing but excellencies in those of and the fidelity with which you deour party (as they will term it), liver it. These, alas ! being suffiand are resolved to vindicate every ciently objectionable to human nathing? And what, on the other ture, let there, if possible, be no. band, if, while we assert excellency thing else in our ministry that is where excellency exists, they see so * " us ready to acknowledge, and la . . I am, Sir, &c, ment, and strive to remove, error.

J. S.-H. and evil, wherever they are found Feb. 10, 1815. among us? In which case will they most respect us, not only as religious but as honest men? In which ON A CONTENTED DISPOSITION. will religion be most honoured, in the eyes of all the observing part of Tothc Editor of the Christian Observer, mankind ?

Having been educated in retire5. If it be hopeless to think of ment from the world, and in the removing the evils complained of, then, lastly, it is bighly desirable, consequently been excluded from for the benefit of all who may have those opportunities of becoming met with exceptionable specimens acquainted with the character and of an obnoxious but important body disposition of my fellow-creatures of men, that they should know that which schools afford. Blessed in all are not thus exceptionable ; - my friends, and in a comfortable that, if a few deviate from sobriety situation in life, I have always conand “ sound speech which cannot sidered myself happy; and sup. be condemned," a majority, it is to posed that all who, like myself, be hoped a large and increasing majority, stady to avoid the evils Christian Observer, January, 181ky into which those few fall...

pp. 14, 15.

« PreviousContinue »