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Prussian government as described in the following extract:
'The government profess very great anxiety to make the education as religious as they can, when passing a general act for different persuasions, saying that ' the object of every school is to train the youth with such a knowledge of the relation of man to God, that it may foster in them the habit of ruling their lives by the spirit of Christianity. Prayer and edifying reflections shall begin and end the day, and the master must see that these do not become routine.' The government however, thought they could not make the system so far compulsory as it is on the poor, if they insisted on one exclusive form of Christianity; therefore they profess to teach only the principles which are common to all, providing at the same time, as much as they can, separate additional instruction in the different persuasions; for this purpose the head master is to be of the religion of the majority, and the second of that of the minority; and whilst the Testament first, then the Bible, is given to all the children, the different masters are expected to instruct them in the different Catechisms as soon as possible, and to see that they attend some place of worship, &c. besides this, the clergy are expected to observe that all is really put in practice, and to labour themselves in promoting it.
Indeed in Prussia, elementary education, is in a considerable degree under the Protestant and Catholic clergy, which is not the case in Holland. Both governments however, equally believe that religion must in some way or other be greatly insisted upon, the only question is, which is the best way, because children judge of the importance of any thing by the time and attention given to it.'
The point especially deserving of notice is that the Testament first, then the Bible is given to all the children; catechisms, public worship, SfC. follow. Now this is just the reverse of our Irish National Board ;—They recommend extracts from the Holy Scriptures, but render the introduction of the scriptures themselves dependant upon the will of others; and thus while the Prussian schools promote Christianity, the Irish schools connected with the national board will be found to propagate Popery.
Amidst the corruptions of Romanism, we trust God has his hidden ones, who like Overberg, are labouring for the promotion of bis glory and the welfare of their fellow men. May their numbers be exceedingly increased, and may the light of his holy word be so extensively diffused, as by the influence of divine grace to purge away every anti-christian corruption and hasten that time when the knowledge of the Lord shall prevail throughout the earth.
IN THY PRESENCE IS FULNESS OF Joy.-psalm Xvi. 11.
Lord, it is not life to live, if thy presence thou deny;
While I tell thy love to me, every object teems with joy;
SELECTIONS FROM OLD WRITERS.
OF THE WICKED ENLIGHTENED BY THE WORD, AND THEIR STATE AFTERWARDS. BY JOHN WEEMSE. *
Matt. xii. 43.—When the unclean Spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return unto mine house from whence I came out.
Christ having taught long among the Jews, and illuminated their minds by working sundry miracles among them, and casting out devils, bringeth this parable, of a man dispossessed of a devil; who being cast out, and finding the house empty and trimmed, returneth with seven spirits worse than himself.
Here is the parable, and the application of the parable; the parable is set down at large, and the application in few words, even so shall it be also with this wicked generation.
The parable itself hath three parts: first, possession; secondly, dispossession; and thirdly, repossession.
Possession in these words, when the evil spirit is gone out of the man: which implieth, that he must first have possession before he be cast out: secondly, dispossession; and when he is dispossessed, he wandereth in dry places, and findeth no rest until he return: and thirdly, repossession; he goeth and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there, and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
When the unclean spirit is cast out. He is an unclean spirit; wherever he lodgeth he defileth that soul and that body, therefore the Scriptures call such sometimes dogs and swine. But the Holy Spirit in the manner of his operation is most holy, for wherever he lodgeth he sanctifieth and purifieth
* A learned Scotch divine, who lived in the earlier part of the seventeenth century.
that soul and that body. Therefore he is compared in the Scriptures to water and to fire, and to the fuller's soap, Psalm li. 7. Wash me and I shall be whiter than the snow: in the original it is, play the fuller upon me. We may know then whether we be possessed by Satan or not, if we delight in filthiness or uncleanness, for uncleanness is the inseparable effect of the unclean spirit. A man may be overtaken by Satan sometimes, and Satan may in part pollute him, but he delighteth not in it; but if he delight to wallow in that sin, and make no resistance to Satan, then he is certainly the habitation of Satan. When Satan cometh to pollute the soul, if we cry out with Paul, Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Rom. vii, "24. then we are not to die; but if we hold our peace, and delight in Satan's temptations which pollute the soul and the body, then we are to die.
Is cast out of a man. There is no creature in which Satan delighteth to lodge, but only in man. When he entered into other creatures, it was only to deceive man; as when he entered into the serpent, it was for this end, to deceive Eve; he cared not for the serpent itself. So when he entered into the Gergesites' swine, it was not for the swine that he cared, but only that he might draw the hearts of the Gergesites from Christ by drowning of their swine. And the reason wherefore he delighteth to dwell in no other creature but man is, because there is no visible creature, that can commit sin, but man; where there is not a law there is no transgression, for sin is the transgression of the law. Rom. iv. 15. but no law is given to any visible creature but only to man. This should be a great motive to humble a man, when he seeth such a great change, that he who was the temple of the Holy Ghost, * should now become a cage for unclean spirits, and to make the house of God a den of thieves. Matt. xxi. 13. Was not this a great change, when a man's house in which he dwelt was made a dunghill? Ezra vi. 11. But this is a far greater change, when man, who should be the temple of the Holy Ghost, is made a receptacle for unclean devils; it was a great change in Naomi, when her beauty was changed into bitterness; and when the Nazarites that were whiter than the snow, became black like the coal, Lament, iv. 0; and when Nebuchadnezzar, who was a mighty king, became a beast, Dan. iv. 33; but those changes were nothing to this change, when man who was the temple of the Holy Ghost, should become the cage of unclean devils.
He walketh through dry places seeking rest and findeth none. Satan hath three places: first, his place of pleasure; secondly, his place of wandering; and thirdly, his place of torment. His place of pleasure is an unclean soul, in which he delighteth to walk; his place of wandering is, when he goeth about, compassing the earth to and fro, seeking whom he may devour; and his place of torment is hell. Satan is tormented now, when he is in his place of pleasure, and in his place of wandering, but his full torment is not come. Art thou come hither to torment us before the time1. Matt. viii. 29.
So the child of God hath three
* This must be understood in the same sense as Heb. vi. 4. See farther on, where Satan's return is spoken of.
places; his place of pleasure, as Psalm lxxxiv. 1. How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! my soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord. So he hath his place of grief, Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar. Psalm cxx. 5. And he hath his place of joy in the heavens.
And findeth none. Spirits have their rest; they are not like quicksilver, which hath the beginning (or principle) of motion in itself, but it hath not the beginning of rest; but they have both the beginning of motion and rest; their soul resteth when it is delighted,* as the body resteth when it lieth or sitteth. Satan's rest is sin, but this is a restless rest; the true rest of the soul is God only; therefore David saith, return my soul to thy rest. Psalm cxvi. 7. When the soul is not set upon God the right object, then it is out of its centre; and as the needle of the compass trembleth always until it stand to the north-pole, so the soul hath no rest until it be set upon the right object, God himself. The rich man said, Soul, take thy rest, when he had his barns full. Luke xii. 19. But riches cannot bring rest to the soul; for the more that a covetous man hath, the more he coveteth. The souls of the wicked are in a sling, 1 Sam. xxv. 29, a stone in a sling is violently tossed about, so are their souls, and they get no rest day nor night. Rev. xiv. 11. So David compareth the wicked to a wheel, which always turneth about; and [Solomon] to a drunken man that lieth upon the top of a mast. Prov. xxiii. 34. If thou wouldest have true rest to thy soul, disburthen it of sin. Look how the poor ship was tossed, so long as Jonah was in her, but when he was thrown into the sea, the storm was calmed; so cast out sin, and
* Compare this remark with Gen. i. 31 j ii. 2.
iheh thou mayest have rest. When a man entertaineth his sin, he is like a man that is sick on the sea, he runneth from this place to that place to seek rest, but all in vain, because he hath the sickness within himself. God is called by the Hebrews Space, because he containeth all things, and is contained of none; every thing is kept in its own place; God is the place for the soul to rest in. The philosophers say, Goodness cannot consist without the integrity of all the parts, but evil is defect of any of them; that a man be in good health, it is necessary that every humour keep its just temper and proportion; but to make a man sick, it is enough that one humour only be distempered. The rest of the soul is God, who is all goodness, but any grief will disquiet the soul. The soul is a disturbed thing, therefore we must admire his power who can settle it; when Christ calmed the wind and the sea, they said, Who is he that both sea and winds obey? so we may say, when God calmeth the soul, and putteth it to its rest, Who is this that the unsettled soul doth obey? Satan being so far from God, who is the place of rest, he cannot find rest.
Then he saith, I will return to my house from whence I came out. How can Satan return to that place from whence he hath been cast out? Satan is cast out two ways, either partially or totally. Partially he is cast out by illumination, totally by sanctification. This partial casting out of Satan is wrought sundry ways. First, by civil education, as Nero was very meek the first five years of his reign, because he was brought up under Seneca, a good master; so Julian, as long as he was a reader in the church, Satan was cast out of him partially; and sometimes by the constitution of the body, as some abstain from some sins, because of the constitution of their bodies; as they ab
stain from drink, because they have a weak brain; and sometimes by shame, and sometimes by the restraining power of God; but it is easy for Satan to enter in again when he hath but such bars to hold him out; but where there is a total sanctification, he cannot enter in again there. Now when we call it a total sanctification, it is meant total in parts, but not in degrees; that is, there is no faculty in the soul, but there is grace in it as well as there is sin, and therefore Satan cannot enter there again. Unto my house from whence I came out. No place can content him so well as his former habitation, wherein he hath dwelt a long time; and he glorieth more to repossess himself in his former habitations, than to purchase new places. When Satan was dispossessed out of the people of the Jews in the wilderness, by the doctrine of miracles which Moses wrought, he sought to be re-possessed again. First, by idolatry; secondly, by whoredom with the daughters of Moab, and by rebellion. So when he was dispossessed out of the Christian churches in the east, first he sought to be repossessed again by schisms and heresies, but especially by Arianism; then he fully repossessed himself again by Mahomet. If thou be free from Satan's possession, look not back again as Lot's wife did. Satan is like a raven; when he is driven from a dead carcass, he fleeth but a little from it. and is ready to return to it again. When a man cometh out of a bath, the physicians prescribe to him then, that he look well to himself, for he is ready to catch cold, because his pores are open; so when Satan is cast out, a man hath need then to be very vigilant, that Satan surprise him not again. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 2 Peter ii. 2.
And when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. This house was swept and hung, but it was not welf-furnished within. Observe that God never cometh to the soul with a privation, but as he taketh away sin, so he putteth in grace. Pull up the thorns, and then sow the wheat. Jer. iv. 3. Cease to do evil, and then learn to do well. Isa. i. 16, 17. The Lord liked not this privative divinity. Curse ye, Meroz, because they came not to the help of the Lord. Judges v. 23. So when / was a hungered, ye gave me no meat. Matt. xxv. 42. Many men content themselves with this, they will do their enemy no harm, they will have no meddling with him, but this is the sweeping of the house only; they will not come to the positive part, I will do him good, and therefore Satan may have entrance again.
Then goeth he, and taketh seven other spirits with him more wicked than himself. As among the good angels, some are Powers, some Dominions, and some Thrones; so it seemeth that amongst the wicked angels, there are some more wicked than others. Many even do mistake Satan and his angels; they think that some of them are spirits which do no harm, but they are all sworn enemies to man's salvation What can we look for,
then, of those infernal spirits of destruction?
And the last end of that man is worse than the first. His last end is worse than the beginning, in three respects: first, in respect of God; secondly, in respect of himself: thirdly, in respect of Satan.
First, in respect of God, who justly punisheth him this wise, by giving him up unto a reprobate sense, because he loved not the
truth. Secondly, his last end is worse in respect of himself, because he is dyed over again with sin; those sins in the Scripture are called scarlet sins. Scarlet is a word in the original signifying twice dyed. So men, when they fall back, they are dyed anew again, and as a relapse in diseases is dangerous, so is the falling into sin anew again. So it is worse in respect of himself, because after that a man is illuminated, he is more ready to become profane, if he be not sanctified. Take water and heat it, and set it in the air, it will freeze sooner than cold water. So if a man be illuminated, and have some taste of sanctification, and then fall back again, he is in a worse case than he was before.
Thirdly, he is worse in respect of Satan, for when Satan catches him again, he maketh him twice more the child of hell. A jailor hath a prisoner fettered by the hands, neck, and feet; the prisoner beggeth of him, that he would release him; he releaseth him all to the foot; he slippeth his foot out of the fetters, and escapeth: if the jailor catch him again, he layeth a double weight upon him, and fettereth him twice as sure as he was before; so when a sinner seemeth to escape from Satan, being enlightened, and in some shew sanctified, if he fall back again, he bringeth seven worse spirits with him.
The application of the parable is, Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. As if Christ should say, when I came amongst you, ye were in darkness, but by my ministry ye have been illuminated, but maliciously now ye impugn this truth, and ye are possessed with seven worse spirits than before; therefore your end must be worse than your beginning.