Imágenes de página
PDF

find others, I doubt not :” and gave immediate orders to her secretary to write a note to the person engaged in the pursuit, to assure him of her affectionate regard, and to express her love and honour for his zeal and faithfulness. So warmly was her heart interested in this work to her very last moments. About an hour only before her death, she said to a female friend, who with assiduous attention for many nights and days never quitted the room, “Is Charles's letter come 2'' (she had sent for him to supply her chapel in Spa Fields, when Mr. Jones of Langan returned home.) On being answered it is, she said, “It must be opened, to see if he comes.” When her friend said, “I will go and open it;” she added, “ To know if he comes, that is the point.” So anxiously were the cares of her work impressed upon her dying heart : when speaking of the people in her connexion as her children, “ I feel for their souls.” . During the whole of her illness, her pains never made her impatient ; but she seemed more Concerned about those who at

tended her, than about herself.

She said tenderly to Lady A. E. and Miss S. A. whose long, faithful, and tender attachment to u er is well known, “I fear I shall be the death of you both,” (alluding to their constant watching with her); “it will be but a tew days more.” She appeared, during the tedious nights and days of pain and sickness, en

gaged in prayer, and animated.

with thankfulness for the unutAt rable mercies which she had s:-perienced, saying, “I am en

and often she added, .

circled in the arms of love and mercy.” And, at another time, “I long to be at home : O, I long to be at home.” A little before she died, she said repeatedly, “I shall go to my God and Father this night:” and shortly after, “Can he forget to be gracious 2 Is there any end of his loving-kindness * Dr. Lettsome had visited her between four and five ; shortly after her strength failed, and she appeared departing. Alarmed, they summoned up a friend who was waiting anxiously below. He took her hand ; it was bedewed with sweat: he applied his fingers to the pulse—it had ceased to beat—and that instant she breathed her last sigh as he leaned over her, and fell asleep in Jesus, June 17, 1791, in the 84th year of her age. The next day, Dr. Lettsome wrote the following letter to Lady A. E. which speaks the worthy sentiments of his own heart, and the satisfaction which so noble an example afforded him : “Dear Lady A. E.-I deeply sympathize with thee and all the family in Christ, in the removal of that evangelic woman so lately among us, the Countess of Huntingdon. Your souls were so united, and your affections so endeared together, that I cannot but feel in a particular manner on thy account, lest the mournful state of thy mind may undermine thy constitution, and endanger a life spent in mitigating the painful sufferings of body of our deceased friend while living. Her advanced age and debilitated frame, had long prepared my mind for an event which has at length deprived the world of its brightest ornament. How often

have we, when sitting by her sick bed, witnessed the faithful composure with which she has viewed this awful change | Not with the fearful prospect of doubt; not with the dreadful apprehension of the judgment of an offended Creator. Hers was all peace within, a tranquillity and cheerfulness which conscious acceptance alone could convey. How often have we seen her, elevated above the earth and earthly things, uttering this language: “My work is done, I have nothing to do but to go to my leavenly Father.” Let us, therefore, under a firm conviction of her felicity, endeavour to follow her, as she followed her Redeemer. Let us be thankful that she was preserved to ad

vanced age with the perfect exercise of her mental faculties; and that under long and painful days and nights of sickness she never repined, but appeared constantly animated in prayer and thankfulness for the unutterable mercies she experienced. W 1,en I look back upon toe last years of my attendance, and connect with it the multitudes of others whom my profession has introduced me to, I feel consolation in acknowledging, that ol all the daughters of aii,iction, she exhibited the greatest degree of Ci.ristian composure that ever I witnessed ; and that submission to divine allotment, however severe and painful, which nothing but divine aid could inspire.”

Religious Communications.

THou GHTs on J USTIFICATION.

The term justification is not properly used, but in relation to a person, against whom some crime is alleged. A person is accused of a particular action. By proving either, that he did not perform the action, or, that the action was no crime, he justifies himself; and whenever this is proved to the satisfaction of the judge, he pronounces justification on the accused person.

As it respects human tribunals, there is a difference between justification and pardon. When the judge justifies, or pronounceth the justification of an accused person, he declares, either that the latter never did Vol. III. No. 2. H

the action, or, if he did, that the action was no crime. In civil society, he, who is justified, cannot be pardoned, and he, who is pardoned, cannot be justified. But as it respects funishment, pardon and justification are the same even in human courts. He, who is pardoned, and he, who is justified, are equally sure of not being punished. It is evident, then, that the difference between justification as used by civilians, and justification as used in the Bible, has relation to what is past, and not to what is suture. It respects their past characters, and not their future destiny. A person justified in either case can receive no punishment from the law. In a religious view, justification can have no other meaning than pardon. No sinner on earth can prove, that he is not guilty ; nor can the righteous Judge pronounce, that the sinner is not guilty. When it is said of Christ, that he justifieth the ungodly, it cannot be meant, that he pronounceth the ungodly innocent. That would be a contradiction ; it would be the same as to declare, that the ungodly are not ungodly. The meaning must be, that on condition of faith, he absolveth from hunishment, those, who have, by ungodliness, broken the law. Redeemed saints, as they were once sinners, will always know and remember, that they were such. Without remembering this, they cannot repeat the glorious song of heaven, He hath washed us from our sins in his own blood. It is still more clearly impossible, that God should forget what was once the character of those, who are redeemed. Still, their sins shall never be brought against them, by way of punishment or reproach. No one shall, in this sense, lay any thing to the charge of God's elect. He, who is justified, at whatever time he dies, shall receive no condemnation. * That pardon and justification are the same, appears from the language of scripture. Paul, in the fourth chapter of his epistle to the Romans, treats particularly of justification, and he represents it to be the same thing as to have iniquities forgiven and sins covered. It is the opinion of some eminent divines, that justification has a more extensive influence

than pardon. Pardon, they justly observe, does nothing more than secure the sinner from punishment. It does not imply any reward; but justification, as used in the gospel, they suppose, means something more than freedom from punishment, even a positive reward. This distinction is humbly conceived to be without foundation. It is true, indeed, that every justified person is, according to the plan of grace revealed in the gospel, entitled to a glorious reward; and the same is true of every pardoned person. But still neither pardon nor justification, in itself considered, implies this. Pardon places a man just where he was before he sinned, and justification does no more. If, when pardoned, or justified, he receive a reward, it is owing to that merciful constitution, under which he is placed, and to the benefits of which, he, by pardon or justification, obtains access, or is restored. A master, we will suppose, hires two servants. To one, on condition of good behaviour, he agrees to give food and raiment for a year : to another, on the same condition, he agrees to give, for the same time, not enly food and raiment, but a sum of money. Both, after a few months, are accused of misdemeanor. They are both tried, and both are justified. But whether they shall be rewarded, is not implied in their justification, in itself considered, but depends on the previous agreement subsisting between them and their master, to the benefits of which, they are hereby restored. It is essential to Christian justification, that the person, who is the subject of it, should be completely freed from the condemnation of sin. His sins shall not be matter of punishment at the great day. Besides this, God will graciously bestow, on every such person, an everlasting reward. In fine, we can fully subscribe to the spirit and meaning of the venerable assembly of divines, that “justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins.” The consequence of which pardon must be, that we receive no punishment, and, of course, cannot be treated as guilty; but shall be accepted, i. e. treated, as if righteous in his sight; and thro' free mercy, all righteous persons will be rewarded. LEIGHToN.

ox CHRISTIAN ZEAL. (continued from p. 12, & concluded.)

WE have already offered some thoughts on the nature and distinguishing properties of Christian zeal, viewed both in a personal and more general sense. A few remarks will now be added, tending to illustrate its importance and obligations.

First. We must be zealous Christians, or we are neither consistent nor real Christians. The very profession of Christianity is a profession that our hearts are devoted to God, and engaged in his cause; that with vigorous and ardent affection, we have embraced the divine glory, the interests of truth and holiness, and the immortal good of our fellow-creatures, as our object. Now with what consistency can we make

such a profession, if, on these all interesting subjects, our souls are habitually languid and indifferent 2 if the strength and fervour of our affections are prostituted to objects infinitely inferior; to the pursuits of the world ; to the sordid gratifications of sense and sin & Is not the God whom we profess to serve, the source, the sum, and the perfection of all moral beauty and excellence 2: Let our thoughts and our imaginations take their widest range, and soar their highest flight, in order to select and combine whatever is calculated to excite our best and strongest affections; and will not a single ray of the character of Jehov Art. infinitely surpass, and totally. eclipse the whole : Is such a. Being as this to be treated with: coldness and indifference 2 Or ought our whole souls to be absorbed in the contemplation, love and praise of his transcendent excellencies 2 But let us consider," for a moment, a subject still more calculated, if possible, to come home to our bosoms. Let us meditate on the unpars alleled benevolence and compassion of the REDEEMER. “Should we suppose,” says one,’ “all the love of all the men that ever were, or shall be on this earth, and all the love of the angels in heaven, united in one heart, it would be but a cold heart, to that which was pierced with the soldier’s spear.” And let it be remembered that this love, thus intense and matchless, is the love of a GoD to a creature. It is the love of INFINITE PUR 1TY to a creature most folluted and

* * See MAcLAURIN's Sermon on glorying in the cross of Christ.

ill-deserving. What returns then are due from a creature thus unworthy, and thus favoured, language must be inadequate to express; nor can the most exalted mind fully conceive. But surely they must be something far removed from indifference and apathy. If then our hearts are habitually cold to the Saviour; if they take little interest in those vast and momentous objects, for which he appeared in flesh, and toiled, and died, our guilt must be great indeed. And where, in this case, is our religion ? It is a dream ; a nonentity. We may have a name to live ; but in reality, we are dead. We may have the form of godliness ; but the flower, the animating soul, is wanting. We may have confident hopes of peace and blessedness hereafter ; but like the hopes of the hypocrite, they will perish. We may be in high esteem with fallible men, and the world may resound with the fame of our piety ; but in the eye of Heaven, we are nothing. Again ; the difficulties of religion demand our zeal. Whatever superficial thinkers, and those unacquainted with their own hearts may imagine, it is no common nor easy thing to be a Christian. He who best knows what is in man, and what Christianity means, has told us that the very entrance of this religion is strait ; and has therefore bid us strive or agonize, if we would not miss of it. But not only is there a strait gate, but a narrow way: nor have the -difficulties ceased when we have once entered. Indeed, they have but commenced. We have a perplexing, toilsome journey before us; a journey which cannot be

accomplished, but with much application and engagedness of mind, and many a painful, strenuous exertion. Or to vary the metaphor, we have engaged, on entering the Christian life, in a warfare. Our enemies are numerous, subtle, malignant, powerful and persevering. Some of

them are on earth, and others in

hell. And alas ! we have traitors in our own bosoms, who are but too ready to espouse their interests, and betray us into their hands. Now in what manner may we rationally hope to terminate such a warfare as this, with success and honour 2 Can it be done with folded arms ? Can it be done in the indulgence of indolence and ease ? No, certainly. This is not to be soldiers. It is impossible that heaven can ever be obtained in this way. Every power and faculty within us must be summoned to the conflict. We must be engaged, and in earnest, we must be active and diligent, we must be all fervour and animation ; or we shall lose the victory. This is not said to cherish a vain confidence in human endeavours. They are nothing, but as the grace of God excites and crowns them. And if we are the real possessors of this grace, it will infallibly influence us to all these endeavours. Nor can we ever lay hold on etermal life, unless we thus strenuously fight the good fight of faith. Farther, to excite our zeal, let us consider a moment how engaged and active men are in pursuits infinitely inferior to those of religion. The world around us is a scene of anxiety and hurry, of labour and contrivance, of deep-laid schemes and strenuous pursuits. Most men are full of

« AnteriorContinuar »