Page images
PDF
EPUB

outwardly, religious*. Lay aside, as much as may be, all other thoughts and concerns, and let the pardon of your fins, the justification of your persons, the purification of your natures, and the salvation of your souls, be the grand business and aim of your life. Every thing within you, and every thing without you, will oppose this great regenerating process of religion. Remember, however, this is your main concern in the world. One thing alone is truly needfull. Secure this, and every thing beside is fafe.

This done, the poorest can no wants endure ;
" And this not done, the richest must be poor.”

[ocr errors]

There is need, in this time of general discontent, to call the attention of all good men to the obligations we are under, to be dutiful and loayl subjects. The Scripture is decilive, that as we are to fear God, so we are to honour the KING. But, setting duty aside, jelf-interest, if duly consulted, would induce every man to obey the civil government of the happy country in which we live. We have much to lose, little to gain, by any change that might take place. The ruin brought upon France may satisfy any man, how dangerous a thing it is to embark in public contentions, and disturb the regular order of things. If the experience of our neighbours will not determine us to peaceable and temperate measures among ourselves, we should do well to look back to the reign of the first CHARLES, when the three kingdoms were convulsed for seven years together from one end to another. Besides the many thousands of private men who fell in the bloody fray, the many millions of money that were spent, and the numerous families that were ruined, there were flain 17 Eails and Lords 45 Knights and Baronets55 Colonels-42 Lieutenant Colonels-53 Majors-138 Captains-30 Gentlemen Volunteers—with about 30 others, who were either beheaded, or died in prison.--The spirit of the times was much the same as hath for these several years prevailed in France; nor were the clergy treated with much more humanity, 8 or 10,000 of them being turned out of their Livings. See WALKER's Sufferings of the Clergy, p. 198-200. And if any convulsion should take place again in this country, I do not conceive that we should be much more humane towards each other, than people have been in cases of a similar nature. He was no inexperienced maij who said–The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water; therefore leave off contenzion before it be meddied with.

When the ALMIGHTY intends to punisn us effectually, he will deprive us of wisdom, and fet us at loggerheads one with another. The consequence will be, ruin to the present race of Englishmen. If with the above two dreadful examples before us, we suffer a party spirit to drive us to extremities, we shall deserve all we can suffer. See the seventh chapter of EZEKIEL, Were we united and religious we might defy the world,

[ocr errors]

able man.

Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but that meat which endureth unto everlasting life.-Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all necessary things shall be added unto you. If you are ever so rich, great, wise, learned, honourable; if you are not at the same time substantially and experimentally religious, you are a miser

Do you want proof of this ? Look inward, and look forward to the close of life; or turn back, and impartially consider the experience of the several persons, whose declarations we have recorded in the beginning of this Treatise. Compare them, weigh them, discriminate their characters, reject what is base and unworthy your attention, take alarm at the warnings of the dying penitents, and refolve, by the grace of God, to have a name and a place among his people. Let others despise and neglect the Sacred Writings, as the humour Thall lead, do you be much in the perusal of them. Let them dwell in you richly. They will make you happy in your own foul, and wise unto salvation. Search them, dig in them, 'scrutinize them, let your daily delight be in them. It is the engrafted Word, and the Word of God's grace alone, which is able to build us up in faith and love, and save our souls alive. Read it, therefore, as the Word of God. Read it with religious views. Read it with constant prayer to HEAVEN for divine illumination; and, as often as convenient, get upon your knees in secret * with the Bible spread before you, and, be assured, you shall experience such sublime and ravishing delights, as the most happy and prosperous worldly men are utter strangers to, and as you yourselves can have no proper conception of, till you have made the experiment. Could I be the happy instrument of inducing you to make the experiment, you would bless me for ever. And you

will give me leave to say, that if you could speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and pofleffed all knowledge human and divine ; if you could perform wonders like Moses, celebrate the praises of God like DAVID,

M. De Renty, a French nobleman, used to read three chapters a day, with his head uncovered, and on his bended knees; and this is the practice iikewise of abundance of religious characters in the prefent day.

U

prophesy

1

prophesy like ISAIAH, write like Paul, preach like PETER, thunder like James and John, and offer up your souls on racks and in flames like the Maccabean mother and her seven noble fons; if you had power with God like JACOB, and had the valour of Joshua, the strength of SAMSON, the beauty of ABSALOM, the wisdom of SOLOMON, the żeal of Phineas, with every other qualification natural and acquired, that ever centered in any of the fons of men ; yet, without a close, intimate, experimental acquaintance with the Sacred Oracles, and the great truths therein contained, all will avail nothing; you can neither enjoy true confolation in your spirit now, nor be capable of felicity hereafter when you die. Were I, therefore, permitted to give my last dying* advice to the dearest friend I have in the world, it would be the same which Dr. Johnson gave to his friend Sir JOSHUA REYNOLDS READ YOUR BIBLET:-I only should add as above-Read

ir

* The famous Sir Pullip SIDNEY, taking leave of his brother ROBERT, when he died of the wound he had received in the field of battle, said " Love my memory; cherish my friends ;- but above all, govern your will and affections by the Will and Word of your CREATOR; in me beholding the end of this world, with all her vanities.

Sir CHRISTOPHER HATTON, in like manner, a celebrated statesman, a little before his death, advised his relations to be serious in searching after the will of God in his Holy Word: for” said he, “it is deservedly accounted a piece of excellent knowledge to understand the laws of the land, and the customs of a man's country ; how much more to know the statutes of heaven, and the laws of eternity, those immutable and eternal laws of justice and righteousness! To know the will and pleasure of the great MONARCH, and universal King! I have seen an end of all perfection, but the commandments of God are exceeding broad.”

+ This great man himself read the Bible too little, and other books too much. This, and associating frequently with men of little or no religion, were the main causes of his great leanness of soul, and fear of death all through life. He was, indeed, an extrordinary man, and an admirable judge of good writing. In the second volume of his Lives of the Poets, p. 110, he speaks of Dryden's Dialogue on the Drama, as one of the finest prose compositions in the English language : and at the 152 page of the fame volume he says, Dryden's Poem on the death of Mrs. KILLIGREW, is the noblest Ode our language has ever produced. In the third volume, p. 62, he tells us the most poetical paragraph in the whole mass of English poetry is in CONGREvE's Mourning Bride. And in the fourth volume, pi 181. he declares one of the finest fimilies in all

it daily upon your khees with fervent prayer for divine illumination; and rest not, till you have imbibed the spirit of it

into English poetry is that of the Student's progress in the sciences in Pope's Elay on Criticism, lines 215--232.

The more religious people read the Sacred Writings, and the less, in general, they trouble themselves with the compositions of men, the better. if, however, the reader wishes to know what books are best calcu. lated to advance the spirit of religion in the foul, the following have been found fingularly useful : SCOUGAL's Life of God in the Soul of Man -Baxter's Saints everlasting RetDODDERIDGE's Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul-Watts on the love of God-Rowe's Devout Ex.. ercises of the Heart-YOUNG's Night Thoughts Milton's Paradise Lost and Regained-Law's Serious Call to a devout and holy Life-and ThoMAS A Kempis on the Imitation of Jesus CHRIST.-Kempis, in particular, was a great favourite with Archbishop LEIGHton and Bishop BURNET. And Law's Serious Call has the honor of being the means of the conversion of that Hercules in literature, the late Dr. JOHNSON; which book he used therefore much to commend, saying, “ It was the " finest piece of hortatory theoligy in any language."-See Boswell's Life, vol. 1. p. p. 29, 341.--This book has, moreover, extorted the following eulogium even from the sceptical EDWARD GIBBON, Esq. one of the firit Historians of the present age, and an unquestionable judge of literary merit.

• Mr. Law's master-work, the Serious Call, is still read as a popular and powerful book of devotion. His precepts are rigid, but they are founded on the Gospel; his fatire is sharp, but it is drawn from the knowledge of human life; and many of his portraits are not unworthy of the pen of LA BRUYERE. If he finds a spark of piety in his reader's mind, he will soon kindle it to a flame; and a philosopher must allow, that he exposes, with equal feverity and truth, the strange contradiction between the faith and practice of the Christian world. Under the names of FlaVIA and MIRANDA he has admirably described my two aunts--the Heathen and the Christian fister."

Memoirs of GIBBON’s Life and Writings. This, I think, is no common praise !

To the above books should be added BUNYAN'S Pilgrim's Progress 3 Bishop Taylor's Holy Living and Dying; Archbishop LEIGHTON'S Works; and such other Writings as are of a lively and evangelic nature. -I remember near thirty years ago, hearing the late excellent Dr. CONYERS, of Deptford, fay, that if he were banished into a desert island, and permitied to take with him only four books, the Life of Mr. HALÝBURTON thould be one of the four.

This useful Life is also the book which that great scholar, Sir Rio CHARD ELLYS, valued above all the books in his learned and copious library:

With respect to the leading and most important do&rines of the Gospel, I do not know that they are any where more plainly and faithfully expounded than in the book of Homilies. I have been of this opinion many

Ua

years,

PRAY TILL YOU LOVE TO PRAY.

[ocr errors]

into the very frame and constitution of your soul, and tranfcribed the precepts and example of Jesus into every part of your daily deportment of life.

This should be the last dying advice, I say, which I would give to the tenderest friend I have upon earth. And, if I should have no other opportunity permitted me, I here leave it on record, in direct opposition to the obloquy of the irreligious, and unbelieving world, as a legacy to my friends and the people among whom I have gone preaching the Gospel, of more real intrinsic value than thousands of gold and silver:-READ YOUR Bibles, AND READ TILL YOU LOVE TO READ. PRAY DAILY OVER THEM, AND

When the Scriptures and Prayer become delightsul, and the time spent therein seems soon expired, then may you humbly, suppose you have made some proficiency in the divine life. But, if you can spend whole days together, without refreshing your soul with some portion of the Holy Writings; if you feel yourselves cold, remiss, and negligent in private prayer; or if, when you read the Scriptures, and retire for devotion, vou have little or no taste for the heavenly employ, but it appears irksome and disagreable, and the time spent therein tedious and wearisome, you may be assured, let your professions be what they may, and the fermons you hear ever so numerous, or ever so excellent, your soul is either wholly dead to things divine, or you are in a backNiding and dangerous condition.

If you have never been accustomed to this religious exercise, it is extremely probable, you will, for a time, find much reluctance to it, a grievous struggle under it, and great unprofitableness in it. Be not, however, discouraged; but proceed in the divine employ till you have conquered every difficulty. And remember, these are difficulties that are common to man; that have been vanquished by mulyears, and still continue the same, making allowance for the language and certain circumstances peculiar to the times in which they were written. In this opinion I find myself confirmed by Bishop HORSLEY, who fays to the Clergy in his Charge for 1790_" These discourses,” some of the Humilies, “ I would earnestly recoinmend to your frequent study, as an unexceptionable -summary of doctrine upon these important points, and an excellent model of composition for popular infruction,".

titudes

« EelmineJätka »