« IndietroContinua »
written for us, also, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” Also, (Psalm cii. 18.) “ This shall be written for the generation to come; and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.” Now he receives faith in Christ and comes boldly to a throne of grace. He takes the promise"If ask any thing in my name I will do it ;” persuaded, notwithstanding its latitude, that as the spirit accompanies the word; so it cannot lead bim into a lie. But there must be a perfect confidence-no mixture. " That which is born of the flesh, is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit, is Spirit.” If he does not find the following words fulfilled—“ He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also ; and greater works than these”--he does not refer them to the sovereign disposal of reason, but to the sovereignty of God, who giveth liberally and upbraideth not; firmly persuaded, that whenever it shall be necessary for him to do these things, the Lord will give him an adequate faith, even should it equal the measure of the Apostles. Where is the abrogation of these promises ? Until I find it, I shall believe precisely what the Saviour says, (Luke xvi. 17, 18.)
The first aberration from this faith is to allot certain portions of the Bible exclusively to particular periods, ages and individuals. More especially assigning the richest truths of the New Testament to the age of miracles. This popular error appears conspicuous, if we consider for a moment, that, if we receive the Bible as a standard of faith and practice, then we admit that it is above reason.
If it be a perfect rule of life ; an unerring guide to prayer; then it cannot be contrary to reason. If it be the revealed will of God; it is impossible that it should be subordinate to or below reason. It fol. lows, that to mangle it, either by allotments, distortions of a part for the whole, or expounding in any other way than according to its own directions, is completely subversive of the whole order of influence, which a divine revelation ought to have, to give it solid utility. A practice which loudly bespeaks ignorance of its truths and of their spiritual influence. The result of such a course would be, a destruction of the common centre around which believers of all denominations consistently revolve. The elevation of reason—a standard various as the characters of men. And to make charity a common sanctuary for vanity, hypocrisy, infidelity. These remarks are not made because we fear, such a result. No, in the plenitude of his vanity, man might as well attempt to pluck the sun from the firmament, untie the solar system, and send its planets in confusion through the regions of space. But to show the inconsistency, the deleterious tendency, of deviation from a plain rule, equally dictated by Scripture, reason, and experience-Receive the whole Bible, and seek the gift of the Spirit to guide our application.
Were I at liberty to enlarge, I would arrange under this article, neglect of reading the Bible extensively, both by ministers and people, a cause of false and contradictory deductions. An abuse of insulated passages. The preference given by the clergy to commentators, rather than to the word with prayer. The dangers to be
appreheúded from the constant use of commentaries in families; because a multitude of words prevent concise truths from striking deep, and making a lasting impression on the mind. The actual rejection of such parts as do not suit our creed, or personal views. And artfully smoothing over those which alarm our consciences. But I will trouble you with only one other remark; it is an effect of that cold, lukewarm piety, which ever marks those rational dividers, subdividers, and subtractors, who, by a misapplied wisdom, actually fritter away the Bible to almost nothing. I mean an abuse of charity among fellow-professors. Because it is said, “ Judge not, that ye be not judged,” (Matt. vii.) therefore they refuse to judge righteous judginent.” (John, vii. 24.) Hence a reproach increases upon the church, because of unworthy members and an inefficient discipline. The Bible is not deficient in instruction concerning this duty in all its various forms. To illustrate, let me refer you to 2 Cor. x. 12, 13. It shows, also, the necessity of receiving the whole Bible, and being well acquainted with its contents. “ For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves; but they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are pot wise. But we will not boast of things, without our measure; but according to the measure of the rule, which God hath distributed to us : a measure to reach even unto you.” To me the meaning of these words appears to be, that, taking our measure from the word, we will compare others to our measure, by the word, and thus speak of the weak, the strong, the lukewarm, slumbering, cold, nominal professor and hypocrite.
VICAR OF MADELEY AND THE DUELLIST. The Christian Observer, for April last, contains an anecdote of the Rev. J. W. Fletcher, Vicar of Madeley, which we are persuaded will be gratifying to our readers. We are the more desirous of transcribing it for our pages at this particular time, as it may possibly assist some of our infatuated countrymen in forming a correct judgment of honourable courage. That mind must be singularly obtuse in its moral perception, or miserably warped by prejudice and vice, that shall not acknowledge the superiority of the good Vicar of Madeley's intrepidity, over the fiendlike resolution of the deliberate Duellist. The anecdote is thus related by Mr. F.'s biographers :
Mr. Fletcher bad a very profligate nephew, a military man, who had been dismissed from the Sardinian service for base and ungentleroanly conduct. He had engaged in two or three duels, and dissipated his resources in a career of vice and extravagance. This desperate youth waited one day on his eldest uncle, General de Gons, and, presenting a loaded pistol, threatened to shoot him unless he would immediately advance bim tive hundred crowns. The general, though a brave man, well knew what a desperado be had to deal with, and gave a draft for the money, at the same time expostulating freely with him on bis conduct. The young madman rode off' triumphantly,
City Aijairs.-The Local System.
- do you
with his ill-gotten acquisition. In the evening, passing the door of his younger uncle, Mr. Fletcher, he determined to call on him, and began with informing him what General de Gons had done ; and as a proof, exhibited the draft under De Gons's own hand. Mr. Fletcher took the draft from his nephew, and looked at it with astonishment. Then, after some remarks, putting it into his pocket, said " It strikes me, young man, that you have possessed yourself of his note by some indirect method; and in honesty I cannot return it but with my brother's knowledge and approbation." The nephew's pistol was immediately at his breast. “My life,” replied Mr. Fletcher, with perfect calmness, " is secure in the protection of an Almighty Power; nor will he suffer it to be the forfeit of my integrity and of your rashness." This firmness drew from the nephew the observation, that his uncle De Gons, though an old soldier, was more afraid of death than his brother. “ Afraid of death!" rejoined Mr. Fletcher; think I have been twenty-five years the minister of the Lord of Life, to be afraid of death now? No, sir : it is for you to fear death. You are a gamester and a cheat, yet call yourself a gentleman! You are the seducer of female innocence, and still say you are a gentleman! You are a duellist, and for this you style yourself a man of honour! Look there, sir ; the broad eye of Heaven is fixed upon us. Tremble in the presence of your Maker, who can in a moment kill your body and for ever punish your soul in hell.” The unhappy man turned pale, and trembled alternately with fear and rage. still threatened his uncle with instant deaih. Fletcher, though thus menaced, give no alarm, sought for no weapon, and attempted not to escape. He calmly conversed with his profligate relation; and, at length perceiving himn to be affected, addressed him in language truly paternal, till he had fairly disarmed and subdued him. He would not return his brother's draft, but engaged to procure for the young man some immediate relief. He then prayed with him, and after fulblling his promise of assistance, parted with him, with much good advice on one side, and many fair promises on the other. The power of courage, founded on piety and principle, together with its influence in overcoming the wildest and most desperate profligacy, were never more finely illustrated than by this anecdote. It deserves to be put into the hands of every self styled “man of honour,” to show him how far superior is the courage that dares to die, though it dares not to sin, to the boasted prowess of a mere man of the world. How utterly contemptible does the desperation of a duellist appear, when contrasted with the noble intrepidity of such a Christian seldier as the humble Vicar of Madeley!
CITY AFFAIRS.-The Local System.
(Continued from page 144.) Were the families of a city lane wholly overrun with the foul «pirit of radicalism, it would not be on the services of him who could best dissert on the ethics of patriotism and good citizenship, that I should most build my hopes of reclaiming them. I should look for a far more important and practical reformation from the simple presence and contiguity among them, of one their equal, perhaps, in station, and who himself was a sound and leal-hearted patriot. There would be a weight of influence in the mere exhibi. tion of his wholesome and well-conditioned mind, which no argument, however skilful, and no penetration, however subtle, into the casuistry of public and political virtue, could have power to carry along with them. The living exemplification of a sober, and judicious, and regulated spirit, maintaining its loyalty in the midst of surrounding fury and fermentation, would go farther to calm the tempest, than the most ingenious political sermon that was ever framed : and more especially if the individual who so held forth among bis neighbours was one in whose friendship they had long trusted, and to whose consistency and good conduct they could all testify. There is no series of lectures delivered in any hall of public resort that would have half the force which lay in the mere personal communications of such a man with his next door associates ; and what could not have been done by the didactic efforts of any political reasoner, will be far more readily done by the present example and untaught effusions of him who simply realized, in his own character, the worth and the practical wisdom of a good citizen.
Or, in some other cluster of families, did jealousy and dislike alienate the heart of each individual from all his fellows, it would not be to him who best understood the mysteries of our moral nature, tbat I would look, as the likeliest instrument for restoring peace and confidence
them. Through his insight into the arcana of the human constitution, he may be able both to perceive and to proclaim, that where there is good will to others in the bosom of one, this calls forth a reciprocal good will to him back again. It is not by sermonizing on the operation of this principle, that the wished-for effect is caused: it is by actually having the principle, and operating therewith. Or, in other words, the simple presence of a man, bumble, it may be, in rank, but richly endowed either with Christian or with constitutional benevolence. It is this, unaccompanied with all metaphysical discernment, or the power of metaphysical explanation, that will do more to expel the spirit of rancour from a neighbourhood. and to substitute the spirit of charity in its place, than any theoretical exposition of principles or processes, can possibly accomplish. It is not the man who best lectures on the operation of the moving force, but the man who is possessed of the moving force, and actually wields it-it is he who works a practical consequence on the temper and mind of the neighbourhood, over which he expatiates. And thus it is that the man of Christian love operates more powerfully as a leaven, in his vicinity, than the man of Christian learning: and it is altogether a mistake, that a long and laborious routine of scholarship must be described, ere the exertions of a religious teacher shall, with efficacy, tell on the moral and spiritual habit of the disciples who repair to him.
For, it is just in Christianity as in the cases we have now quoted. City Affairs-The Local System.
All the essential truths of it can be easily apprehended ; insomuch, that on the ground of mere intelligence with respect to its most vital and important doctrines, the peasant and the philosopher are upon a level. But to apprehend the truth with the natural understanding is one thing, and it is another 30 to realize and so to appreciate it, as that it shall bear, with power and with personal influence, upon the character. Now, we shall meet with instances of the latter as readily in the humble as in the lofty walks of society; and there we shall as soon find an individual who can hold forth a living picture of Christianity, and bring the whole moving force of its affections and its virtues to bear on the vicinity around him. It were bad philosophy to confine the work of propagating a Christian influence throughout a population, to the adepts of a university; and just as strong a transgression against the true philosophy of our pature, to confine it to the regularly bred and ordained clergy, whether of our city or our country parishes. And, however offensive it may be to the official pride, and the official intolerance of Churchmen, it is not, on that account, the less true, that among the very humblest of the flock, individuals may be found, who, with no pretensions to the science of Christianity, yet, from the attractive sympathy that there is in its virtues and in its graces, will form into a more powerful as well as a purer leaven than is the minister himself: insomuch, that the very best service which he is capable of rendering to the cause may be, to give freedom and encouragement to the working of this leaven, in every part of the mass, where it is known to exist. Perhaps, the deadliest obstacle to the Christianity of his parish is, the rancour which he feels towards the zeal and the activity of lay operativesthe contemptuous resistance, not less unpbilosophical than it is unscriptural, with which he is ever bearing down the nascent piety of his neighbourhood, and stilling in embryo, all those various expedients, of Sabbath schools, and fellowship meetings, and assemblages for prayer and religious conversation, wherewith the Christianity of the few might diffuse and multiply its own image over the whole of that parochial territory which is assigned to them.
In every church, let securities be provided for the highest attainments of Christian literature, so as that many ecclesiastics shall be found in it, rich in all the deep and varied erudition of theology. We know not a nobler intellectual eminence than that which may be gained on the neglected walks of sound and Scriptural philosophy, by one who, with a mind stored both in the criticism and antiquities of his profession, further knows how to impregnate his acquisitions with the liberal and experimental spirit of our age; and who, witliout commuting the orthodoxy of God's imperishable record, could so far modernize the science, of which he was, at the same time, both the champion and the ornament, as to envolve upon the world, not its new truths, but its new applications. Christianity never changes, but the complexion and habits of the species are always changing. And thus may there be an exhaustless novelty both of remark and illustration, in our intellectual treatment of a science which touches at almost every point in the nature of man, and bears,