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A REPLY TO A CONSTANT READER.
531 his disapprobation of a custom, alas ! too prevalent, in giving immoral toasts, after partaking of the bounties of Providence? I readily acknowledge that I feel some kind of difficulty in attempting to prescribe the most effectual means; for, in my humble opinion, there is nothing that requires so much delicacy and discretion as the proper mode of administering a reproof, so as not to defeat the end of the reprover; for if unseasonably attempted, it not unfrequently irritates, rather than reforms.
But still, something ought to be done. Suppose the Christian, in the case alluded to, disgusted with the immorality, not to say indecency of the chairman, who disseminates impurity through the company over which he presides, evacu.. ates his seat, on such toasts being given, tacitly evidencing thereby his total abhorrence of such proceedings; and, as it would, perhaps, be indiscreet to make a verbal appeal to the president, who so ignobly, though fashionably, adapts himself to the corrupt custoin of the times; let him convey his thoughts on the subject to him privately, by a few lines written in a spirit of moderation and calmness, reminding him, in the language of a poet of our own, that
“ Immodest words admit of no defence;
" For want of decency is want of sense." Would not this be as likely a methou as any to con. vince him of the immoral tendency of the custom, though sanctioned by the too prevalent habit of a degenerate age? And whether it has the desired effect or not, the Christian will have the satisfaction to reflect, that though he is in the world, and has to do with men of the world, vet, he is not of it, but wishes to testify against its corrupt maxims, in the various departments wherein he is called to move. Piccadilly.
LAMENTABLE IGNORANCE OF DIVINE THINGS.
A GENTLEMAN of my acquaintance, visiting in a family, heard a wretched Sermon from a text in St. Matthew: a relation, who was with him, and on whom he had endeavoured to imprese a sense of the difference between those who did, and those who did not, prcach the pure gospel, observed to him, as they came out, “'Well, I hope you will not say this was not a Gospel - Sermon, when the text was out of St. Matthew; and when I heard your ininister, he took his text from Judges.” -Such is the astonishing ignorance of some persons in Divine things!
T. H.. REFLECTIONS ON PSALM CXXXI.
ту heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely, I have behaved and quieted myself as a weaned child that is weaned of his mother ; my soul is even as weaned child. Let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth and for ever!
DAVID here speaks like a modest humble Christian. His sentiments are those of a inan who had experienced mang trials, and who had found the benefit of them : and, under Divine influence, á believer, like David, can address himself to the Lord concerning the exercises of his mind.
“ Lord, my heart is not baughty, nor mine eyes lofty." Humility is truly desirable; but, perhaps, some unexpected powerful blow must be given to Pride, before such a truth is felt. If the heart be humble, we see what good effects follow. Hence David adds, “ Nor mine eyes lofty." He did not overlook his situation, nor seek greater things for bimself: he did not disdain his equals in piety or wisdom, nor did he oppress his dependants. Just so the humble Christian will act, tho' his outward situation might tempt him to look above his fellow-disciples. A lofty eye betrays a proud heart, which is an object of his abhorrence.
We may remark the self-denial of the Psalmist : “ Neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too bigh for me.” He felt it best for him not to be wise above what was written; not to exercise bimself in things too profound, too wonderful for him to unravel. So the Christian satisfies himself with what God has revealed, knowing that “secret things belong to him.”—“Or, in things too high for me," says the Psalınist; i. e. in things too high for my reason to comprehend, - too high for my imagination to attain in the present state. Those who are low in their own eyes, will never be soaring in the clouds of mystery,- never aspire after things too high for them. What a lovely spirit is this, if it be contrasted with many shallow spirits of the present day, who are troubling the church with perpetual ranting on eternal purposes, eternal decrees, &c. -0 that they had the modesty and humility to sit at the feet of the man after God's own heart! He would reach them not to rise, but to fall; to fall in their own conceits.
“ Surely, I have behaved and quieted myself as a child that is weaned of his mother." David spoke with certainty. He knew the circumstances: he felt the influences' that bad induced this child-like spirit. Under crosses and afflictions, hę heard a voice from above saluting his ears in soothing accents,
REFLECTIONS ON PSALM CXXXI.
533 “ Be still, and know that I am God." This composed him, this dispersed the gloom, - this afforded him satisfaction . A child is weaned when the parent sees it necessary, - when it would be no longer good for the child to receive its maternal nutriment. And does not the Lord see the fittest time when to wean us from the creatures and the world? - Again : A weaned child is still dependant; and so is the believer. A weaned child receives more solid, more nourishing food than it had before : it is made more hearty by the substitute of many articles, in lieu of the one it has lost. So the Lord, by providing for his people more substantial blessings, makes them more hearty in his cause, and more prosperous in his ways. David repeats the sentiment, “ My soul is even as a weaned child." He felt contented in being denied his foriner enjoyments. We often see weaned children ; and, after a season, they appear contented and cheerful. Let the sight of them teach us resignation ; but let us remark the seasons when such a temper is most proper to be exercised, viz. under bereaving providences, - under worldly crosses, - and under afflictive dispensations.
If bereaving providences answer God's design, upheld by his power and love, a believer will say, “ It is the Lord ; let him do what seemeth bim good. The Lord gave, and the Lord taketh away,
blessed be the name of the Lord !" There are many widows in Israel, and many widows of ministers at the present period. You are objects of my tenderest sympathy. Let me recommend this Psalm to your frequent meditaton : Remember, that “thy Maker is thy husband and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel * ;” and in him “the fatherless find mercy t."
This child-like spirit should discover itself under worldly crosses.
Here the Christian will say, It is my duty, my happiness, my honour, to take up my cross and follow my Redeemer: if he cross me in one thing, it is only to gratify me in another; besides,“ Shall I receive good at the hand of the Lord, and not evil?" — When aflictive dispensations abound, a child of God may say, “ It is my Father who aftlicts me; and he does it not willingly. I have provoked him to take the rod, and yet he chastises me with the gentle hand of the most affectionate father. Like a child, I am unable to guide myself: guide me, O Lord, with thy counsel! Unable to feed myself, feed me with food convenient for me: and, Oh may this affliction yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness !"
The Psalmist makes a pleasing inference from his own expe. rience:“ Let Israel tope in the Lord.” When we are benefitted by trials, we can direct others, like David, to the same overfilowing source of consolation. We may hope in the Lord as
a friend, a portion, and father ; -- hope in bin whose goodness is inexhaustible, and whose love is everlasting. - David concludes the Psalm with admirable energy: “ From henceforth and for ever.” Not that hope is an everlasting grace; but let all God's Israel, from this time forward, make the Lord their hope; and have all their expectations immediately and for ever derived from him. May the reader be enabled to say, with Jeremiah, “ The Lord is my portion, saith my soul, therefore will I hope in him !"
TO THE LATE REV. G. WHITEFIELD.
My Dear and Ilonoured Father,
The perusal of your kind and affectionate letter has been matter of great encouragement to me. I often experience what Moses tells us that the Israelites, did: “ The soul of the people was much discouraged, because of the way.” O, Sir! the sight of the wilderness often frightens me; but these precious words support me, “ Thy shoes shall be iron and brass ; and as is thy day, so shall thy strength be." You ask, Sir, Why I did not make myself known to you in London? The plain truth is this, I had an abiding sense of my own unworthiness tipon my mind, and thought your conversation too great an honour for me to enjoy.
The motives that induced me to leave London, was partly at the desire of my relations, to see them; and partly for my own health's sake (ior I enjoy my health better in the country than in London) More than that, though my London friends told me, God had a work for me to do in his vieyard, yet my fear of running before I was sent, made me determine, - Let God send by whoin he would, I would not go. Could I help it?
Therefore, my intent was to settle in the farming business in the country. But there I found many souls awakened, who had the word preached but now and then. We met of evenings to sing and pray, and speak our experience. They often solicited me to speak among them, as did some neighbouring Dissenting Ministers. I long refused; till they wrung their hands, and wept bitterly; and told me, they were starving for the word; and God had committed to me the mystery of the gospel; and I sinned in hiding it. With many doubts and fears, at lası I agreed; and must not say“ The Lord was a barren wilderness to ine.” People from neighbouring towns coming to hear me, I was invited higher up the conntry; till some of Mr. Wheatley's friends informed him of me, when he sent his clerk into the country to me, iutreating me to come te
TO THE LATE REV. G. WHITEFIELD.
535 Norwich; which I did: and the particulars of my conduct here, I suppose, Sir, you have heard. According to the present appearance of things, I apprchend I shall be fixed here ; but I desire to eye the Lord's hand, and never to 'step but when I see the Lord going before ine.
As to the prospect of a growing people, sometimes I think it bids fair for it; sometimes I think otherwise. We have near forty meinbers of the church I preach to, and many more are desirous of being received. o that they may be such as shall be saved! We have, on a Lord's Day, several hundreds of hearers; who seem very serious, and enquiring the way to Zion. On the week-days, we have abundance of people to hear; and I hope, the Lord does not let his word return void! The days I do not preach in Norwich, the country-people frequently send for me, and multitudes come to liear, so that the preaching houses will not hold them. However, I can go unto the commons; and, blessed bė God, there is room there; and what is best of all, there is rooin enough to spare in my Master's house. By that time I have preached in public, visited, exhorted, and prayed with the people in private, and laboured to discharge the duties of a Pasior io his people, and have kept a little tine to enjoy my God in my closet, I find my day is gone ;-but it is an honour to be busy for Christ. O that my soul may be found living and dying in it!
My dear Sir, I rejoice in your prosperity in the gospel. O that yonr latter end 'may greatly increase! Go where I will, I find some of your spiritual children: sone awakened by hearing you, some by reading your sermons; and all of us pray for your prosperity. Dear Sir, go on preaching; and, with the belp of God, we will go on praying for you ; and who knows what a prayer-bearing God may do? --I am really ashamed of my long letter; but, methinks, I am now opening my heart to a tender father, who, I trust, will excuse my infirmities.
I remain, dear Sir, your affectionate Son and Servant in Christ, Norwich.
TIIE CONTROL OF GOD
Is Saul also among the Prophets? - 1 Sam. xix. 24.
The reflection of good Bishop Hall on this passage, is, 1. Who can be afraid of malice, that knows what hooks God has in the nostrils of men and devils! what charins he hath for the most serpentine hearts !” — The case was this : David, pursued by the cruel envy and furiovs unalice of Saul, flies for refuge to the school of the prophets, at Naioth,