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females in service have walked thirty miles to me, with only the bare hope of obtaining a Bi. ble each, and returned with more joy and thanksgiving than if they had obtained spoils. We, who have a half a dozen Bibles by us, and are in circumstances to obtain as many more, know but lit. tle of the value those put upon one, who before were hardly permitted to look into a Bible once a week.”
Bible the best Book. A society of gentlemen, most of whom had en. joyed a liberal education, and were persons of polished manners, but had unhappily imbibed infidel principles, used to assemble at each other's hous. es, for the purpose of ridiculing the scriptures, and hardening one another in their unbelief. At last, they unanimously formed a resolution solemnly to burn the Bible, and so to be troubled no more with a book which was so hostile to their princi. ples, and disquieting to their consciences. The day fixed upon arrived; a large fire was prepared'; a Bible was laid on the table, and a flowing bowl ready to drink its dirge. For the execution of their plan, they fixed upon a young gentleman of high birth, brilliant vivacity, and elegance of manners. He undertook the task, and after a few enlivening glasses, amidst the applauses of his jovial compeers, he approached the table, took up the Bible, and was walking leisurely forward to put it into the fire; but, happening to give it a look, all at once he was seized with trembling: paleness overspread his countenance, and he seemed convulsed. He returned to the table, and, laying down the Bible, said, with a strong asseveration, “ We will not burn that book till we get a better."> Soon after this, the same gay and lively young gentleman died, and on his death-bed was led to true repentance, deriving unshaken hopes of for. giveness and of future blessedness from that book he was once going to burn. He found it indeed, the best book, not only for a living but a dying hour.
BIGOTRY, PREJUDICE, &c. NOTHING is more opposite to the spirit of christianity than bigotry. 26 This,” as one observes, “ arraigns, and condemns, and executes, all that do not bow down and worship the image of its idolatry. Possessing exclusive prerogative, it rejects every other claim. How many of the dead has it sentenced to eternal misery, who will shine for ever as stars in the kingdom of their Father! How many living characters does it reprobate as enemies to the cross of Christ, who are placing in it all their glory!
A bigotted “ litigious Christian, if he be right in his opinions (which is much to be doubted,) is wrong in his way of defending them : he keeps a doctrine, and breaks a commandment."
Wollaston, the learned author of the Religion of Nature delineated, once asked a bigot, “ How many sects he thought there might be in the world ?" Why,” says he, “ I can make no judgment; I never considered the question.” « Do you think,” said Wollaston, “ there may be a hundred ?” “O yes, at least,” cried the biçot. " Why, then," replied the philosopher, “it is ninety-nine to one that you are in the wrong."
Few men were more bigotted or cruel than Archbishop Laud. He shirpened the spiritual sword, and drew it against all sorts of offenders; intending that the discipline of the church should be felt as well as spoken of. There had not been such a crowd of business in the high commission court since the reformation, nor so many large fines imposed, as under this prelate's administration. These fines we are told, were assigned to the repairs of St. Paul's, which gave rise to an unlucky proverb, “ that the church was repaired with the sins of the people.”
The following account of the conduct of a mother towards her son shews us that bigotry has a tendency to eradicate even some of the best affections which the Almighty has planted in our nature for the wisest of purposes. The son had, it seems, from a principle of conscience in oppo. sition to his interest, renounced the religious system in which he had been educated for another which he deemed more consonant to truth. When the mother was informed of the circumstance, she told him, that she found it her duty, however severe the struggle, to alienate her affections from him, now he had rendered himself an enemy to God, by embracing such erroneous sentiments." It is said, that she was completely successful in these endeavours, and that the duty she enjoined upon herself was scrupulously performed during the remainder of her days. What an affecting in, stance of perverted principles !
Such is the nature of bigotry, and such the evil of prejudice, that it insults the dead as well as the living. Chillingworth's book, entitled, “ The Re: ligion of Protestants a safe Way to Salvation," is : acknowledged to be one of the most solid and ra. tional defences of protestantism ever published. But such was Dr. Cheynell's prejudice against it, that when Chiliingworth was buried, he came to his grave with this book in his hand, and after a short preamble to the people, in which he assured them how happy it would be for the kingdom if this book and all its fellows could be so buried, that they might never rise more, unless it were for a confutation, “ Get thee gone,” says he, " thou cursed book, which has seduced so many precious souls; get thee gone, thou corrupt rotten book, earth to earth, dust to dust : gei thee gone into the place of rottenness, that thou mayest rot with thy author, and see corruption." Poor doc. tor! how feeble thy efforts; how ineffectual thy wishes! Protestantism yet lives and flourishes, and we have reason to believe it will live and extend itself in all directions, and for tl • reason, because it is the religion of the Bible, and the cause of truth. Eneinies it may and will have, but, " being divine, it is incapable of being wounded, and will, in the issue, walk with a meek and godlike dignity over the graves of her opponents, and finally triumph in the complete blessedness of all her adherents."
We in general look for this spirit of bigotry and prejudice among the lower classes of society, and those whose minds have never been expanded by sound knowledge. But, alas! It is too pre. valent among those who are considered as intelli, gent and learned. What shall we say to the following instances ? Whiston would not go to hear Dr. Gill preach, merely because he was informed that the doctor had written a folio book on the
Canticles. A wise reason indeed !-Dr. Johnson, when he was at Edinburgh, although he was personally acquainted with the celebrated Dr. Rob. ertson, declined going to hear him, because he would not be seen in a Presbyterian church. Dr. Berkely, late prebendary of Canterbury, in his sermon on 1st Tim. i. 15. declares that salvation is promised only to the episcopal church; and another modern divine, in a recent publication, devoutly gives up all dissenters from episcopacy to the uncovenanted mercies of God. Benign Jehovah, defend us from such illiberality!
At the funeral of Mr. G., when Mr. D., a clergyman, refused to walk in procession with Mr. B., a dissenting minister, a man of activity and spirit, the following pleasant circumstance happened. Mr. D. meeting the corpse, and finding Mr. B. walking before it, directed him to walk behind. När. B. not complying with this order, Mr. D. endeavoured to outwalk him ; but Mr. B being as nimble as he, kept up with him, till the rector quickening his pace, they both fairly ran for it till they got to the church door. Mr. D. was so much offended, that, after the funeral, his pride and bigotry getting the better of every other consideration, he sent back the hatbund and scarf, and even the pins that had been used on the occasion.
When Mr. Staunton preached a lecture on Loids-day afternoon at in Oxfordshire, his labours were so acceptable, that people flocked from all parts to hear him. This was not pleas. ing to the incumbent, who took the more time in reading prayers, that this novel lecuirer might have the less time for preaching, and then left the