Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

his moral character : therefore I prefer Deism. Christianity contains a professed revelation of the will of God: Deism leaves me in perfect darkness as to his will: therefore I prefer Deism. Christianity exhibits palpable, obvious, and simple criterea of the nature of virtue and vice : Deism envelopes the nature of virtue and vice in the greatest doubt and perplexity: therefore I prefer Deism. Christianity furnishes the strongest possible motives for virtuous conduct, and the most forcible reasons for abstaining from vicious conduct: Deism appeals only to some vague notions relative to the fitness of things, or to moral beauty, or to expediency, [which makes a man's own sentiments and feelings, (however fluctuating) his ultimate guide]: therefore I prefer Deism. Christianity often reforms profligate and vicious men : Deism never : therefore I prefer Deism. Christianity often prompts men to schemes of the most extensive philanthropy, and compels them to execute those schemes : Deism scarcely ever devises any such schemes: therefore I prefer Deism. Christianity imparts principles that support men under all the trials and vicissitudes of life: Deism can have recourse to do such principles : therefore I prefer Deism. Christianity assures me of eternal existence beyond the grave; and that, if it is not to me an eternal portion of felicity, it will be my own fault: Deism leaves me perfectly ignorant, [let my conduct here be what it may] whether I shall live beyond the grave or not ; whether such existence, [if there be any] will be limited or infinite, happy or miserable: therefore I prefer Deism. Christianity will support me under the languishments of a sick-bed, and in the prospect of death, with the “sure and certain hope" that death is only a short though dark passage into an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away, (reserved in “ Heaven for God's people”]: Deism will then leave me, (sinking in an ocean of gloomy apprehension, without one support]-in trembling expectation, that the icy hand of the king of terrors is about to seize me, but whether to convey me

February, 1841. He had filled the chair of Mathematical Professor in the Royal Military Academy of Woolwich with distinguished success for many years. Apart, however, from his valuable professional labours, his “Evidences of the Christian Religion” justly entitle him to a foreground niche among the benefactors of his country! Though he outlived his beloved friend, Robert Hall, nearly ten years, and wrote his life and edited a complete impression of his works, it is somewhat curious to notice that he died exactly at the same age, 67.

to Heaven, to Hell, or to a state of annihilation, I know not : therefore I prefer--no, my friend, it is impossible that any man capable of correct reflection can, after tracing this contrast, say, [deliberately and sincerely)--therefore I prefer Deism !*

PROGRESS OF A CHRISTIAN-DEATH

OF CALISTA.

BOWDLER.T The progress of a Christian is not only “from strength to strength,” but from anxiety to a peaceful serenity, from doubt to confidence, from restlessness to repose. A growing acquaintance with the dispensations of God, and an increasing experience of his goodness, open upon the soul such extensive views of the wisdom and bounty of our Creator ; such a lively perception of his astonishing mercy and long-suffering, of his amazing condescension, his ceaseless care, his inexhaustible kindness ; that all the uneasy doubts respecting the character of his providence, which a first view of things is apt to excite in reflective minds, are swallowed up and lost. They are not so much explained, as swept away and annihilated. When the heart is fixed on heavenly things, and the affections, weaned from earthly gratifications, rest on the Creator as their

proper object and “exceeding great reward,” the soul quickly experiences a tranquillity and composure which “ this world can neither give nor take away;" a cheerful and heavenly serenity, which seems, as it were, a prelibation of future happiness, an earnest of our final and everlasting rest. It is the privilege and reward of spiritual-mindedness ; and although doubtless, to the best, often disturbed by the trials and sufferings of humanity, it is a treasure, of which no experienced Christian can doubt the reality, or which he would consent to relinquish for the most brilliant and envied glare of worldly prosperity.

* This selection very appositely illustrates the truth of what Mr. Wood says in his “Grammar of Elocution, that “the falling inflection denotes something positive, actual, considerable, and preferable; the rising, something negative, weak, or limited : or, in other words, the falling inflection denotes the stronger, the rising the weaker, emphasis.".

+ Mr. Bowdler, we believe, was a London Barrister, and died young, in the year 1815.

But, although the blessedness which belongs to spirituality of mind is of such a character, that it can never be unsuitable or ineffective, to whatever circumstances it is applied ; although it can impart its joys and consolations to every age, station, and condition of life ; AFFLICTION, which most needs its presence, seems, by a beautiful arrangement, to be its natural and favoured element. There it brightens to its full lustre, and shines in perfect beauty.

Calista was born of pious parents, and early imbibed, from their lessons and examples, the best principles of Christianity. These gradually matured with her understanding; and in the midst of friendship and domestic happiness, life seemed to be opening upon her with unclouded brightness. Calista was entering on her nineteeth year, when she was suddenly attacked by an alarming epidemic disorder. Its violence soon exhausted itself, and she revived: but the functions of life were fatally disturbed, and the vigour of her constitution annihilated. She lived indeed, during several years; but life was little more than a protracted disease, tending slowly to its consummation. Thus, as it were in an instant, at that period when both our powers and our expectations of enjoyment are generally the most lively, the face of nature was suddenly obscured, and a funeral pall was thrown over the whole of her earthly existence. All the bright visions that play before a young imagination—the day-dreams of hope, that please and occupy even while they deceive us—were for her at once blotted out. The delighted and delightful activity of youthful gaiety—the animated pleasures of social intercourse the endearments of conjugal tenderness—she was forbid to share. Surely, under such privations, her spirit quickly sunk into a deep and settled sadness !-Far otherwise. The gay and sprightly vivacity of her early years was succeeded by a gentle serenity, which silently took possession of her bosom. Her eye no longer sparkled with rapture; her countenance was lighted up no more in radiant happiness: yet a gleam of softened joy was shed upon her features, and an expression, dearer even than beauty, of love, resignation, and thankfulness, spoke the sunshine of a pure and angel spirit. Her sufferings, though great, appeared but little to distress, and scarcely at all to occupy her. Those who saw her only occasionally, did not immediately discover that she was ill; and they who were constantly with her would hardly have perceived it, if her faint voice and feeble step had not too clearly indicated what no impatient or querulous emotion ever betrayed. It was only a few weeks before her death, that, to a friend who inquired after a sick relative, she spoke of the state of his improvement with a sen. sible delight; and being at length obliged to say something of her own health, alluded to it slightly, with that unaffected ease, which shewed that she considered it only as a subject of very secondary interest. At length, the symptoms of her disorder began to assume a decisive character; her pains increased, and her strength diminished. At the visible approach of death, the feebleness of her nature trembled. Of acute feelings, quickened by disease to an agonizing sensibility, she was unable to anticipate the pangs of dissolution, without experiencing a silent terror which she in vain struggled to conceal. Her friends beheld the conflict, and wept in secret. They had no power to sustain her weakness, nor any counsel to impart, which her own piety and experience had not rendered familiar to her. The struggle continued, and increased till the second day before her death-and then it ceased for ever! What passed within her bosom at that hour, what blessed consolation descended to her from above, He only knows who sees her soul ; but from that time, anxiety and terror fled away; even her bodily sufferings appeared to be suspended, and a smile of heavenly gladness animated her countenance. She could converse but little, for nature was nearly exhausted ; yet she cheered, with the accents of piety and affection, those who gathered round her. She remembered every one that was dear to her, and distributed little mementoes of her love and gratitude. She listened with tranquil devotion to the sacred offices of the Church ; and partook of the memorials of that blessed Sacrifice to which alone she trusted for acceptance. She sunk softly into a gentle slumber, and slept to awake no more! Her parents followed her to the grave, shed over her the tears of mingled thankfulness and affliction, and marked with a simple stone the turf that lies lightly on her grave.

“ There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow;
There the first roses of the year shall blow ;
And angels, with their silver wings, o'er-shade
The ground now sacred by thy relics made !"

REASONABLENESS OF PUBLIC WORSHIP.

SEED.*

God is to be regarded as the universal Benefactor of mankind, from whom we all have received public blessings, and to whom therefore we owe public acknowledgments ; for private praisings and thanksgiving are by no means proper returns for public mercies.

Every creature ought to do homage to his Creator; he ought to pay the tribute of honour where honour is due. Now the honour of God is more promoted by his being worshipped publicly than privately, because private prayer is piety confined within our own breasts ; but PUBLIC PRAYER is piety exemplified and displayed in our outward actions : it is the beauty of holiness made visible ; our light shines out before men, and in the eye of the world ; it enlarges the interests of godliness, and keeps up a face and sense of religion among mankind.

Were men only to repair to their devotions, as the disciple of quality did to his Lord and Master, secretly and by night for fear of the Jews ; religion, thus lonely and unfriended, would soon decay for want of public countenance and encouragement. For what would be the consequence if religion sought the shades, and lived a recluse, entirely immured in closets ; while IRRELIGION audaciously appears abroad like the pestilence that destroyeth at noon-day? It requires no great depth of penetration to perceive, nor expense of argument to prove, that the want of a public national religion, or a GENERAL ABSENTING from that national religion, must end in a general national irreverence to the Deity, in a universal dissolution of morals, and all the overflowing of ungodliness! The service of the church, and the word of God read and expounded, must awaken those reflections which it is the business of bad men to lay fast asleep, and let in upon the soul some unwelcome beams of light; but when these constant calls to virtue are neglected, men will become gradually more and more estranged from all seriousness

* Jeremiah Seed was a learned divine of the Church of England. He was educated at Queen's College, Oxford, where he obtained a Fellowship; and was afterwards presented to the Rectory of Enham, in Hampshire. He died in 1747. His sermons are held in high estimation.

« AnteriorContinuar »