« AnteriorContinuar »
that we, through his poverty, might be made rich." And still
There's ne'er a gift his hand bestows,
But cost his heart a groan. I Further. Returns of gratitude are due to those from whom we have received peculiar instances of kindness. Elisha felt his obligation, and wished not only to express, but, if possible, some way to return it. Like Peter and John, he might say, “ Silver and gold have I none ;” but if there be any way in which I can scrve thee or thy husband, command ye me. What shall I render? is the language of every grateful heart, whether it have God or man for the object. To apply this remark to ourselves :
If children, our parents have been careful for us with a great, a constant, and a long continued care; and ought it not to be a question with such of us as are grown up, What is to be done for them? Let deep rooted affection,-symp uthizing tenderness towards them, under growing infirmities, and actual support where it is needed, return the answer. Let them have full' evidence that their labours of love have not been lost upon us. May we honor them, comfort them, and send them to their graves rejoicing in our filial affection, and in our growmg concern to follow them to a better country.
Or, are we attendants under a gospel ministry? Let us not forget what a debt of gratitude we owe to those who, with much and constant care, are labouring for our souls in word and doctrine. « Remember them who have spoken to you the word of God, whose faith follow.*" For if their word has been blessed to our conversion, and if that faith be the support of our souls, as their spiritual children, they may say to us, as Paul to Philemon, "Ye owe to us yourselves." What is to be done for our ministers? The apostle shall answer the enquiry, “ Brethren, pray for us." Yes, we will pray for them, that their understandings may be more illumined, their hearts more enlarged, their private studies more pleasant, and their public labours more profitable. We will “ pray that the word of the Lord may run and be glorified.” Again,
The liberal mind will be frequently occupied in devising liberal things. “What,” said Elisha," shall be done for thee?" It is probable we might all of us be inore useful in the world than we are, were our thoughts more, directed to the means of being useful. This key of consideration would, open many an untried lock, and admit us into many an unexplored field for usefulness. In order to this, let us look more around us, turn our thoughts more directly to the subject, and enquire of others how to become more useful in our day and generation : imitating hiin whom we profess to honour; who “ went about doing good,” Again,
Where a good man hias interest in the favour of those who
are above hiin, he will be more concerned to exert it in behalf of others than for himself. Notwithstanding all this prophet's faithful reproofs of Jehoram,- from his interposition in behalf of himself and his ariny, we may conclude that he would stand high in the esteem of that prince and the captain of his host. The good man therefore inquires if he can do any thing with either of these for the family? But when he is informed that peace and contentment were their lot, and that their earthly happiness could only be increased by an heir to their estate and to their amiable qualities, the prophet pleads that this family might increase as a flock; and immediately be hands her from his God a promise of a son. How effectual is the prayer of a righteous man! Though he be ever so poor, his petitions may bring down showers of blessings upon our heads, our hearts, and our houses. The greatest kindness we can discover towards our friends and benefactors, is to pray for them.
Finally, What an invaluable blessing is a contented mind! One who exhorts us to “be content with such things as we have,” assures us, from his own experience, that her bad learned, in whatsoever state he was, therewith to be content;” and this woman seems to have drank deep into that spirit. “I dwell,” said she, “ among mine own people.” It was evident, she was not high-minded, nor sought great things for herself, or her kusband. She dwelt in a state of the inost friendly intercourse with all around her; many of whom had been the companions of her youth. She was " sober” in her desires, — “ loved hier husband, was discreet, chaste, and one that kept at homne *." Not like that person described by Solomon :-"As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a inan that wandereth from his place t." He pursues happiness; but seeks it in a wrong situation. On the contrary, this woinan was happy at home, and had “ many friends,- for she shewed herself friendly:" or, by “ her own people,” she miglit intend the godly. She was a companion for those that feared God (and probably such were to be found even in Shunain). With her, “ godliness, with contentment, was great gain;" and good people, she esteemed as her people ; accounting such “the excellent of the earth! with whom she had her delight.” From the whole, we learn,
- that neither poverty and piety, nor greatness and godliness are incompatible with each other; and that as contentment is that divine art which we all need learn, so God alone can effectually teach it.
AGNUS. * Titus ii. 5, 6.
+ Prov. xxvii. 8.
QUERY AM I justified in absenting myself from the table of thre Lord, when I see those attend whom I conceive (from their oonduct) to be improper communicants?
MINISTERS AND PARENTS,
RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION OF YOUTH.
1. Are not children and youth important branches of families, congregations, and society?
2. Will not the rising generation be the chief actors in all human affairs, whether religious or civil, when we are removed to another.world?
3. Ought we not to use all our influence then, to prevent their being evil workers ? and prepare them to act their parts with comfort to their families, credit to themselves, usefulness to the church, and advantage to society?
4. Is it not probable that a proper attention to their religious instruction, morals, and habits, inay, under a divine blessing, check the growth of depraved passions, - prevent errors in doctrines, – lead 10 stated attendances on religious worship, and, in the end, prove the humble means of the conversion of many ?
5. Have there not been innumerable instances of religious instruction being blessed to the conversion of youth ? and, if so, does it not justify us in expecting that God will bless similar means with the same success, in a smaller or greater degree?
6. Are not children and youth part of your charge? and are you not bound to do something to promote their spiritual interest?
7. Have not the wisest and best of men, in all ages, recoinwended the religious instruction of youth ? and particularly the catechizing of them in doctrines to be believed, and duties to be discharged?
8. Have you adopted this, or any other method you conceive better calculated to promote their moral and spiritual inprovement?
9. Have the children under your charge had that share of your attention and labour which they ought to have had ?
10. If they have not, are you not unfaithful to your trust? and will not their blood be required at your hands?
11. Is it too late to begin this long-neglected duty ? if not, are you not bonnd, by your relation to your family, to your flock, and your solemn engagements to God, as well as the account you inust sender of your stewardship, to enter upon is withoua selay?
"ON THE ADVANTAGES OF
AFFLICTION TO THE YOUNG.
Lam. iii. 21. THE lot of Jeremiah was cast in troublesome times. He was called of God to foretell the calamities the Jews were to be subjected to when conquered, and led into captivity by the king of Babylon. He lived to see the judgments executed which he had' denounced; and was inspired by the Holy Ghost to be wail them. The Book of Lamentations exhibits Jeremiah sitting amidst the ruins of Zion; and, while his eyes ran down with water, deploring her desolations in the most inelancholy strains, the spirit of cheerfulness and hope seems to have fed from his bosom. The verses of this poem are evidently the wailings of an oppressed, nay, of a broken heart. The gloomy scenes described in this book, have, perhaps, prevented it from being so frequently read as it ought to have been. As a piece of composition, it will bear to be compared with the most finished productions of elegiac poetry. It is calculated to invigorate our zeal for the civil and religious interests of our *country, and to impress us with a sense of the malignant nature and ruinous tendency of sin ; -- it abounds too with many excellent sentiments, both of a devotional and moral cast. The gentiment on which we are now to make some remarks, is cértainly an important one, and well deserves to be seriously considered. In other places of Scripture we find the benefits of affliction, to men, in general, strongly stated; but this verse calls us to consider its peculiar advantages to the young. Young people have, in general, very opposite impressions of attrictions; and it may be of use to those who are in the early periods of life to demonstrate the truth of the assertion, " That it is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth."
1. Affliction humbles the pride of the young. To this sin they are in a peculiar manner liable. They are not thoroughly acquainted with the deficiencies of their own characters, and are ready to over-rate any excellence which they may possess. How ready are they to plume themselves on the graces of their bodies, or the talents of their minds, or their connexions with the great, — or on the prospects of wealth or influence which are opened before thein ! The encomiums which are bestowed on ihem, when their first appearances in the world are respectable, tend greatly to cherish the spirit of pride. This disposition is hateful to God. If not checked, it will mark their conduct in life with ingratitude to Him, and with insolence and oppression to men, to check this spirit, God often visit; the young with afflictions. By these they have been convinced of their entire dependence on God; and that to linn they owe all they have, and"must look for all that they expect. Where Nebuchadnezzar's heart was lifted up, and his nrind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. He was driven from the sons of men, and his heart was made like the beasts', and his dwelling was with the wild asses. They fed him with grass, like oxen; and his body was wet with the dew of Heaven, - till he knew that the Most Iligh ruleth in the kingdoms of men, and appointeth over them whomsoever he will. Instances might be mentioned of young men, whose conduct was marked with disgusting haughtiness and affectation, who, on the bed of sickness, and at the grave of departed friends, have learned to be meek and lowly in heart ; and vho can now appeal to God, and say, “O Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty ; neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me!” Affliction is one of the great means which God makes use of to hide pride from man.
2. Afiction corrects the extravagant expectations of the young. Their minds are prone to forın high expectations of prosperity and success in life. The fancy, at this period, is active and glowing ; nor is it restrained, in its operations, by the suggestions of judgment, or by the dictates of experience. How often do they say, in their hearts, “ The work of our hands shall be established !” — “our exertions in our callings shall be patronized by the noble; - our characters shall meet with praise from inen ; - health and peace shall perpetually reside with us in our dwellings!” In forining ideas of their path thro' life, they imagine it will be through flowery meadows, or over mountains of spices. They are unwilling to suppose that they shall be called to pass through the inarsh or the desert. Such expectations are sinful and pernicious. They are sinful, because they are inconsistent with the arrangements of that Providence which has ordered it, that man is born to trouble ; and they are pernicious to ourselves, because, when distress comes, they give double weight to its stroke. To check such extravagant expectations in the bud, God often visits the young with trials. He says to them, by the messengers of affliction, «Seek not great things for thysell - Remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many.” The disappointments and trials with which God visits the young, tend to cherish that moderation in their wishes and pursuits, which bids fair to be productive of happiness: they awaken that caution which restrains the ardour of the fancy, and bring forward the suggestions of fear to check the flatteries of hope. The young are ready to imagine, that God deals harshly with them when he afflicts them; but, in thus crushing their extravagant hopes, he is saving them the enduring of much future misery. The pangs tkou feelest at present, may keep thee from after-pangs far more