Gambar halaman

prophets? - it will hardly be denied that we have but a small part of the discourses wbich they delivered ; for it is generally believed, they usually taught the people on the Sabbath-days. Now the Evangelist says, that it was spoken (gmoer) by the prophets (perhaps two or three of them) “He shall be called a Nazarene:"a circumstance which we must take on the authority of the writer, to which no reasonable exception can be małe.

But there is another expression in the same verse, which has I fcar been equally inisunderstood. It is said," Joseph came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which is spoken by ile proplets,” &c. which docs not imply that Joseph acted with any the fulfilment of the prophecy; but that the providence of God so over-ruled events, as thereby to accomplish its fulblment; which I believe is the general in port of the expression,

Before I take leave, Mr. Editor, permit me to drop two or three practical reflections, for I think that must be a dry subject inileed that will afford none. . .

1. The Lord superintends all the removals of his people. “He hath deterrnined the times before appointed, and the bounds of onr habitations.” So here, Joseph is directed by an angel to flee into Egypt; and by another, to take mp his residence in Nazar reth: anu boili, in order to accomplish the divine decrces, as delivered by the prophets.

2. Little events often carł to others of great importance, and are essential to them. A little maid, being carried captive by the prophet, led to the recovery and conversion of the great General Naaman. So here the residence of Joseph, in an obscure village, is of itself a small concern, but stands intimately conpected with the character of the Messiah, and the fulfilment of divine prophecy

3. God effects the falfilment of his decrees, and consequently the divine predictions, by agents, often unconscious of the part they are performing. God has a hook in the nostrils of every mighty hunter before the Lord ;” and turns him (as the rivers of waters). as he pleases. Herod and Pontius Pilate, the Jews and the Romans, all fulfilled the will of Heaven, though they meant it not ; and Joseph, though a good man, doubtless, had no view to ful fil the divine decrces : bis object was only to avoid the present danger.

4. Reproach and ridicule were the lot of Christ himself; and bis people must expect no better. If he was called the Noszarene, we must not be surprized at being called Methodists, Enthusiasts, Fanatics !

5. The world are eager to catch hold of any circłımstance wlcreon to ground their reproach. It was a poor ground to cena sure Christ, merely because lie took up his residence for a time in an obscure village. « Can any good thing come out of Naza reth." say they · Yes; Christ came from tbcnce." .



The poor constitute the most numerous class of mankind, and that which possesses the least power and influence. It is one of the features of imposture to try to recommend itself to the rich and noble, and if it can only gain these, to treat the poor with the greatest neglect. But we may view that as the true religion which suits the case of the poor, who are so needy and so nú. merous, and which does not exclude the affluent, but is shewn to be every way necessary and suitable for thcm.

Let us take a glance at Deism with this vicw. The sentiments of its advocates shew the hideous visage of imposture. For the most part, Deism was formerly confined to a few speculative men, reclining in the downy lap of case and affluence, who, that they might pursue their pleasures without alarm, wished to discard Christianity, and free themselves from its restraints altogether. If Deists have changed their tone of latc years, it is not because they have any more respect for the poor, but because such revolutions have taken place as have made them imagine they might obtain their suffrage, and be able to use them as tools to promote their designs, and establish their system.

Voltaire rejoiced in any additions which were made to the ranks of infidelity from among the great. When writing to Frederic, King of Prussia, he mentions the Emperor Joseph Il, as initiated into their mysteries by Frederic, and says, 6. You have also flattered me with the Emperor's being in the way of perdition: that would be a good harvest for philosophy.” Amidst the expectations of the success of his dark schemes, he fems to allow that Christ might still have some few worshippers among the rabble; -- he seems to have no great hope of their conquest, and treats them with the utmost contempt. Writing to D'Alembert, he says, “ Both you and Damilaville must be well pleased to see the contempt into which Christ las fallen among the better sort of people throughout Europe. They are all we wished for, or that were necessary. We never pretended to enlighten the housemaids and shoe-makers; we leave them to the apostles.” When writing to Diderot, he says, 66 Christianity must be destroyed among the better sort; and left it to the rabble for whom it was made.” Wlien ho writes to Damilaville, he says, “I can assure you that soon none but the rabble will follow the standard of our enemies; and we eqnally

them, istianity mile for whoman assure y


to bit to thity mustties,”

58 THE NOTICE CIIRISTIANITY TAKES OF THE poor, &c. contemn that rabble, whether for or against us *.” Thus we sce the contempt with which these gentlemen treat the poor and illiterate part of mankind. They display the reality of the imposture, by being solicitons to accommodate themselves and their system to the prejudices, the habits, and wishes of the affluent. As the better sort seem to be their object, what is to become of the rest? They never pretended to enlighten them, but leave them to the apostles. What a mercy they are not cast off by them! .

Let us now view briefly the system of infidelity : we shall find that as unsuitable and hopeless for the poor. The poor man is often consoled with the thought that he is the creature, the dependent, and the servant of Cod; but what can he derive of happiness or joy from a system that tries to render this first article doubtful or unimportant; that leaves him in the dark how he may serve God or enjoy his favour, and how he may be freed from alarm and danger. What benefit can he reap from a system, which renders it doubtful whether his soul be immortal or not; and as the issue of all his present toils presents him only with a vast void for cternity; and gives no better ground for security against future misery, than the foolish fatal counsel to keep himself easy, and believe there is no such thing? Sorry comfort indeed ! · The rich are often attracted to this system, because it flatters

their pride; - it consults their prejudices, it gratifies their wishes, and whispers peace to them, and seeks to ease them of present alarıns. Thus they gratify their vanity, and pursue their pleasures with greater cagerness, – approach eternity with greater indifference, and, though hastening to an awful crisis, feel perhaps less present alarm. But this system is as insufficient for them as for others. The question still returns, Where are its vouchers and authorities ? It leaves its votaries in the greatest uncertainty; and as these things, which they dread, may prove true, it leaves them in that case without remedy, and utterly without hope.

Let us now consider the suitableness of Christianity to all ranks, and particularly its amiable attentions to the poor. Our Lord and Saviour gave this as one mark to the disciples of John the Baptist, that he was the true Messiah. When their-Master had sent them to ask if he was " he who should come, or if they should look for another," the Saviour answered them, saying, 16 Go and shew John again these things which yedo hear and see; w the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Thus the poor were principal objects of the attention of Jesus. But had Jesus been an impostor, he would not have adapted his religion to the capacities of the yulyar, nor have manifested so much concern

* See Abbe Barruel's Memoirs of Jacobinisin

THE NOTICE CHRISTIANITY TAKES OF TIE POOR, &c. 59 about those who had so little to recommend themselves to bis regard, and who could be of so very little advantage to him. If he had been an impostor, merely seeking his own interest and aggrandizement, he would have endeavoured to recommend

himself and his religion to the notice of those who, from their .fortunes or their stations, might have thrown a lustre on his

cause, and have contributed, by their influence, to its advancement. His conduct manifested the most undoubted integrity, and displays the most disinterested benevolence. The poor have the gospel preached to them. It is as if he had said, They have no recompence to give; - no worldly inducenient on their side draws my notice or regard, but I pity their wretchedness. The gospel shall be preached to them. The good news is too important to be hid; they are too interesting to all to be hid designedly by any. The Lord has manifested peculiar and disinterested benevolence for the poor. Job observes, respecting the kindness of God to the poor, that “ He saveth the poor from the sword, from their troubles, and from the hand of the mighty. So the poor hath hope, and Iniquity stoppeth her mouth *.” “God accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor. "The Lord delivers the poor, and saves them from their enemies. “He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. For he shall deliver the nerdy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and needly, and shall save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their souls from deceit and violence; and precious shall their blood be in his sigut t." “ The Lord will deliver them from all their troubles, and rescue them from all their enemies ” “ The Lord will abundantly provide for the poor of his people, and supply all their wants ||." The Saviour's coming bad a special reference to the poor; there, fore, he says, “ The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath ariointed me to preach the gospel to the poor ; - he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, - to set at liberty them that are bruised : to preach the acceptable year of the Lord ş.” “-All this was the fulfilment of prophecy 1.” The Lord takes care of the comforts of the poor, and Icaves such injunctions respecting them as shew the amiable spirit of his religion. He gives his people reason to expect that the poor will always continue to be objects of their sympathy and benevo, lence. “I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord **." When some had expressed indignation because the woman pouro the ointment on the Saviour, because it night have been sold and given to the poor, he replied, "The poor ye have with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good; but me ye have not always *.” It is made a proof of want of love to God, wherever want of benevolence to the poor is discovered † ; the Lord hath chosen multitudes of the poor, and shall exalt them for ever f.

* Job v. 15, 16. , + Psal. Ixxii. 4. 19.-14. Psal. ix. 18. xxxiv. 6, 1 įsa. xxv. 4. l'sal. cxxxii. 15, 16. Isa. xlj. 17-20. Luke ir. 18, 19 $ 154. xi. 4. xxix. 18-21. lxi. 1-3. ** Zeph, iii, 12.

The poor have the gospel preached to them, for it is peculiarly suitable to them.. It puts them in possession of the true riches; it discovers to them an Almighty Saviour, and a sovereign remedy in his blood for the diseases of their souls ; - it rescues them from the fears and dangers they are exposed to by iniquity, and, as the issue of their troubles below, gives them the prospect, through Jesus Christ, of perfect happiness above.

The poor are also the people who pay most attention to the gospel. The great often treat religion as beneath their notice; but the poor often feel a want which this alone can supply, and, being sensible of their want, rejoice in what they find in the gospel. It is no objection against the gospel that it suits the case and draws the attention of the poor. They are the most numerous and needy part of mankind. A religion which had left them unprovided for, would have been liable to material objections.

Remember, that though it suits the poor, it is as necessary for the rich. It would, by bringing to their view a Saviour, deliver them from the follies, the delusions, and the dangers which surround them, and which otherwise must ruin them. URIEL.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]



I have long regretted the painful, humiliating, and fatigu. ing way in which ministers from the country are compelled to seek the assistance they need for building or repairing places of worship. Whilst I would bear my testimony to the liberality of the London professors in general, having frequently experienced it; yet it is well known how many a weary step, many a buffet, many a sour look they meet with in the course of their travels. 'Not to notice also the inconvenience to their people, in being deprived of their pastor's labours for so long a time; The harm often done to the minister, especially if popular; and the frequent uneasiness which springs up in churches during the shepherd's absence.

or granting this necessary help; but this is impracticable, for the following reason, among others : Those who now, in cone quence of personal application, the solicitation of friends, ar

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »