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Journal of the Bethel Flag.
prayers and exhortations which they made, that seamen may receive benefit from the exertions made by the Bethel Union, and all other institutions. It had a powerful effect on the feelings of some of the seamen present, who sobbed aloud. A mate of a ship requested that prayers might be offered up to Almighty God, for bim and his family, the Captain and crew ; as he was to leave the port of New York early in the morning, and enter on the trackless ocean. Four exhortations and four prayers were made, and several hymns sung. A part of the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy was read, containing the blessings which will be given to all who comply with the reasonable commands of God; and the curses which will follow all who will not obey them. Tracts, magazines, and reports, were then distributed
January 7, 1823,—The call for seamen by the U. S. government, for the expedition against the pirates, and the unusual demand for the merchant service, bas lessened the number in port : yet the meeting was well attended by both Seamen and their wives. The missionary to seamen, the Rev. HENRY CHASE was present, and opened the meeting with prayer: the first address was made by a seaman--he had long followed this occupation in various parts of the world, and wbile on the trackless ocean, surrounded by 450 wicked companions, God opened his eyes-he saw his awful situation, and flew to the arms of Christ, who received him, and gave him joy and peace in believing. He then remarked on the natural depravity of man, and the calamities he had to encounter and endure, while in this world ; and the innumerable calls of God's providence, to accept of the terms of salvation which he had offered in the Gospel of Christ, and the mansions he had prepared for them that love him ; where sorrow and grief could never come. “These calls of the Almighty (said he have distressed thousands, who have made sickbed promises on shore ; and shipwreck promises on the Ocean; and who are no sooner well and safe, but they grow sick of the promises which they have made to God. Many do by their sins as mariners do by their goods ;-cast them out in a storm, wishing for them again in a calm. These promises often bring solemn convictions on the minds and consciences of seamen, and by the blessing of God, make them sincere and devout Christians; and some of these new born babes in Christ, have begun to feel for those who are out of the Ark of safety; and are uniting their prayers and efforts for the welfare of the precious and immortal souls, of the sons of the Ocean.”
The next person who spoke offered an apology for being unqualified to address seamen as he did not belong to the profession.
In the course of his remarks he observed : “ I want to lead you to true religion ; for I well know, that unless you are convinced of this, and affected with the conviction, all the provisions of the Gospel grace will be slighted, and your soul infallibly destroyed! Will you dare to deny this, will you dare to assert your innocence give me leave seriously to ask you, and let me entreat you to ask your own souls :
against whom hast thou sinned ? it is God, against whom thou hast sinned. Did you never promise, fellow-seamen, that if God would
hear and help you in that hour of extremity, (wbich has been already observed,) you would forsake your sins, and serve him as long as you lived ? he heard and helped you, or you would not now be here. Do you know what it is to come to Christ as a poor, weary, and heavy laden sinner, that you may find rest to your souls? Have you committed your immortal soul to him, that he may purify and save it? If this be the case, then I can rejoice in the Lord, and glory in the God of my salvation ; if not, you will shortly be swept away into everlasting ruin. Thus saith the Lord, the soul that sinneth it shall die ; thou art under the sentence of death ; the wicked shall be turned into Hell, even all the nations that forget God." Those who had offered addresses engaged in prayer, and earnestly implored Almighty God to accompany, with the power of his toly Spirit, wbat had been said agreeably to his blessed mind and will. Mr. Chase then concluded the meeting by saying,—“My heart rejoices in what my dear brethren have said. I now entreat you by the majesty of that God, in whose name I come, to go on the bended knees of your souls this night before you go to rest, and plead for mercy at the throne of Grace. I beseech you, by his mercies, by his tender mercies, by his paternal goodness, by the name and love of our dying Saviour; that you will solemnly devote yourselves to God in the bonds of an everlasting covenant." A number of tracts were then distributed ; together with several numbers of the Christian Herald and Seaman's Magazine, Reports of the Marine Bible Society, Port Society, and Bethel Union, which were received with a smile on every countenance.
Tuesday evening, 17th December.— The Bethel meeting held at Mr. Williams's, 317 Water-street, was interesting. The first exhortation and prayer, by one of the members, affected the hearts of every one : that was followed by an exhortation, which increased the solemnity : after which another member made some observations on the fatal consequences of profane swearing, and the many sins it produced. A seaman then addressed his shipmates in a feeling language and made a prayer. Another seaman addressed all present, seamen and landsmen, men and women ; and begged they would feel the importance of what God was now doing for their salvation, and made a prayer. Some observations were then made by two or three members, stating our views and motives in holding these meetings. Another Seaman then arose, and gave such an address as astonished all present, even divines. A Mr. Brown, who arrived last Friday from England, in the ship London, Captain Candler, made a feeling address ; saying he had lately crossed the Western Ocean from Europe, where he had been exposed to rocks and sands, tempest and death; he then knew what seamen were exposed to, and rejoiced in seeing so much done in Europe and America for their precious souls : he then made a concluding prayer; from which, and all the exercises of the evening, we could say, it was good to be there. The rooms were filled with a solemn audience. Tracts and some numbers of the Seaman's Magazine, were distributed.
(To be continued.)
REVIEWER REVIEWED, CHRISTIAN UNION, &c.*
To the Editor of the Christian Herald. Sir,—A sermon preached some time since, by the Rev. Paschal N. Strong, has occasioned considerable sensation in this city, and probably not without reason, as it contains many things reprehensible, and some which ought to be laid deeply to heart by every good citizen. In a late number of your work, (January 4 ) there is a review of this sermon contain: ing some things which seem to us objectionable. For one leading sentiment which you appear to hold in the review, reference is made to a communication, signed “L.,” published in your number for Dec. 7,1822, entitled,“ Thoughts on the late Fever.” In turning to that article, (p. 422) we find expressed the following sentiment. “I suppose that in the administration of Providence under the inediatorial government, there is ro such rule upon this subject, as there was under the Theocracy, when men, having filled the measure of their iniquity, were dealt with judicially, and the utter destruction of whole cities and nations was made a type of the eternal punishment which is to come upon the wicked in the future world." In the review, we find the following challenge holden out to the author of the sermon, with an air of triumph: “ Let him show that mankind are now actually treated by Providence according to the principles, promises and threatenings of the ancient dispensation." We do not know that we rightly understand “L.” or the l'eview: if we do, we are not quite prepared to subscribe to the views brought before us.
We have generally thought that mankind were under the laws of the Bible, and were to be judged by them at the last day; that the “principles, promises and threatenings” of the Bible were holden out to them as motives to obedience : and if these things are facts, we do not see why men are pot as much under a Theocracy now as they ever were. Nations and cities rise and fall as frequenily, and for aught we can discover, as rapidly now as ever they did. Let there be prophets then to tell those nations and cities, that this change is for such rebellion, and that it is brought upon them by the hand of God, and the sentiment in question would be settled. But is the hand of God any less in the evils which now come upon nations and cities, because we have no prophets to tell us of the fact, or because it is not seen or acknowledged by men ? this surely will not be pretended. Nor will it be pretended, we presume, that God does not rule in the kingdom of men and set up over it whomsoever he will; See answers to correspondents,
+ p. 487 Vol. IX.
nor that calamities come upon them without his direction and guidance,
The promises of the "ancient dispensation,” so called, are the promises on which the church now rests, and they are the joy and comfort of every Christian on earth, who is a child of Abraham, and an heir according to the promise.
We do not know that we rightly understand the distinction between « Providence under the mediatorial government” and under a “ Theocracy." We have generally supposed that, ever since the apostasy of man, and the first intimation of mercy towards him, this world has been under a “ mediatorial government,” and that it will continue so until Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father.
We are unwilling that any view should be taken of the government of the pations of the earth, or their changes, which shall deprive God of the government of the world, or of evil in the cities; and we are equally unwilling that any view should be taken of the different dispensations which would lead the mind to dispense with a great part of the Bible : and we do not subscribe to the application of so many senses to the Bible as to deprive it almost entirely of common sense. We are not aware that you, or your correspondent “L.,” designed to lower the authority of the word of God, but the things we have noticed really seem to us to have that tendency, and we are persuaded they will have that effect, at least on some minds, which are already sufficiently inclined to throw away as useless what they call the Old Testament, or old dispensa
The review seems to us to have failed in two ways of accomplishing the most desirable end it had in view, that of bringing the author of the sermon to more correct views and better feelings on the great subject of CHRISTIAN UNION. Your views on that subject (as expressed in the review, and generally through the pages of your valuable work) we think correct, and your arguments good, and of course we could not but regret that you should introduce the peculiar appellations and epithets which would tend to stir up the remains of an old controversy, and bar the mind against the best directed arguments. The other great oversight seems to us to have been the application of certain odious phrases, such as,“ ignorance, prejudice, hypocrisy, and ecclesiastical quackery," to the author of the sermon you had under review, or to those who may agree with him in opinion. These alone, we apprehend, are quite sufficient to destroy all the good, which you could possibly hope, the review would have done to that class of men, whom you gave us to understand, it was chiefly designed to benefit.
la the fixed determination to find fault, which characterizes the review, we perceive another trait that must lessen the good effects, on some minds, which it was doubtless intended to produce. Your optics discover nothing in the sermon but what deserves censure. You seem to view it in the whole, and in every part, as a thing “ without form or corneliness, as a root out of a dry ground," and the subject of uurelenting condemnation. We do indeed think, as our remarks will show, that there are many things in the sermon to condemn, (and some which you have not noticed) as well as some things to approve. But in the review, we have not noticed a single approving sentence of any one feature of the sermon.
Now we regret this on account of its unhappy tendency, because we cannot but consider the review' as espousing the great cause of Christian Union, which is becoming more and more a subject of heart-felt satisfaction and gratitude to God with so many Christians on both sides of the At. lantic.
As the sermon is peculiarly calculated to awaken improper feelings, and to call forth severe criticism, the review should have been doubly guarded in the particulars which we have unreservedly specified. From the review we shall now turn our attention for a few moments to the sermon itself, and whether we shall be esteemed less unhappy in our remarks upon that than we consider you to have been, you, and your readers must judge.
“Shall there be evil in a city and the Lord hath not done it?” Amos iii. 6. All men, who are not infidels, must answer this questionin the negative; for the Lord will ever do the things which he pleases, and will give no account of himself or his actions to creatures : yet still, every Christian will feel that “he doth not willingly afflict nor grieve the children of men." Lam. iii. 33. This then should lead every man, who fears God and loves his fellow-men, in every affliction to ask, wherefore the Lord hath done it? and, as far as possible, solve the difficulty, that the proper remedy may be applied. For this purpose it becomes the duty of the ministers of Christ to watch the “ signs of the times," that they may be able to see when the danger approaches, and give timely warning to the people, that, if possible, the calamity may be averled. When a calami. ty is removed, if the sins which brought it upon them, can with any cer. tainty be known, the people ought to be warned against a repetition of those sins, for fear of a sevenfold judgment; but in order for this, the people must feel that those are the sins, and also that, if they be continued in, God will punish them • seven times for them." Should they not be convinced of these things, they will not be likely to turn to God.
To carry this conviction to the public mind in this city appears to have been the design of the sermon of Mr. S. ; and we do most fervently pray that the people may be convinced, that “ contempt” of “ God's Sabbath" and“ ordinances," " inordinate appetite for gain,” “ love of pleasure," " spirit of dissipation, '“ general profligacy of morals” and “ a spirit of political feeling at war with the authority of God," are great and crying sins of this city; but whether they were the sins for which the late pestilence was sent, we shall not pretend to divine.
While we were pleased to see these sins exposed by Mr. S.,we were sorry to find him apologizing for his plainoess, if he felt himself commissioned to bear this message to the people of New York. In speaking of the sins for which, in his view, the late pestilence was a punishment, he says, “ upon this part of our discourse, you will excuse our plainness if we shall endeavour to speak so that we may not be misunderstood."* We should much rather have heard from Mr. S. the sentiments of the noble Bridaine, delivered before the sinners of Paris,t who were as much in the habit of hearing apologies as the sinners of this city are. Instead of apologizing he said, “ God forbid that a minister of heaven should ever suppose he needed an excuse with you! for whoever ye may be, ye are all of you