Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

local attachments and interests, give perhaps from ten to twenty guineas annually in this way, would content themselves in lieu of that, with subscribing one or two guineas to the society.

I am looking forward with pleasure to the projected association of all the congregational churches throughout the kingdom, as likely to remedy this evil in a very easy and simple way.

I would recommend that a collection be made every year by all the churches and congregations throughout the association, according to their ability. This fund to be under the management of a respectable committee in London, to which all applications for assistance are to be made. That no congregation shall receive any help, but those who have contributed.

In this way, there is little doubt of the committee being able, not only to give all necessary assistance to those who may want it for rebuilding, enlarging, or repairing, but that they will be enabled to look out for those dark districts, both in London and the country, where places may be built with great prospect of success.

ON THE EXCELLENCE OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION,

AS A SOURCE OF NATIONAL HAPPINESS.

SIR,

To the Editor. The following Essay was originally intended as introductory to a Serics of

Essays on the Universal Pre-eminence of Christianity. If you deemn it worthy of a place in your useful Publication, it is at your service.

Wherever the majority of a people are allowed to remain in a state of ignorance and vice, there undoubtedly the greatest deficiency of national happiness is to be felt: - a fact which no theorist on government can reasonably dispute : it has proved itself in numerous instances, and is founded on the cxperience of ages. No administration can be safc, no social intercourse can be maintained, where no hold is to be laid on the mind of the people;-and such is the mind that is ignorant anı! vicious. Unawed, unrestraiped, by religious impressions, it is ready to break out into the wildest extravagances. It feels not, nor acknowledges, any reverence for divine authority, and, therefore, affords no security for public utility or social happiness. No law of mere human appointment, no edict pube lished by a mortal prince, will ever avail to check the excesses of mankind, or reduce them to rational obedience. God himself has raised barriers against the depravity of human nature, and when these are impiously broken through, the greatest disorders in morality, and the most awful calamities that can befal a nation, are certainly to be dreaded.

It is a grand characteristic of our holy religion, that it is calculated to promote the mutual good of a whole community and of every individual member, - of the Sovereign, and of the nation. It teaches the duties of all; - it considers the whole face as one great family, of which God is the Father : - disregarding the petty distinctions Dat originate among themselves, it enforces bis authority as Supreme ; --- without respect of persons or offices, it delivers his precepts to the world, with sanctions which none but the Deity can give, with threatenings whose terrors, and with promises whose invitations, are equally extended to all. It addresses itself to the conscience and judge ment of every man; and, where the corrupting influence of prejudice has not prevailed, it carries conviction with it. The unbiassed mind perceives and acknowledges the beauty and harmony of its parts, -its admirable suitableness to the various wants and interests of our nature, — and the sublime ideas it communicates of the great Ruler of the world, and the mag. nificent system of his operations,

The tendency of the Christian religion to promote the happiness of mankind, appears from the broad principle on which it uniformly recommends and inculcates every social duty. What can be more inimical to every species of bigotry and exclusive benevolence, than the spirit that dictates such precepts as these : “ Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye likewise unto them; follow peace with all men: - if your brother should offend you, forgive him; I say not seven times, but seventy times seven ; ~ love your enemies; bless them that curse yon; do good to them that hate you; and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you." These are evidently nothing less than the dictates of the Deity himself. They breathe the benevolence of the divine mind, and are alone suflicient to establish the superiority of the religion of Jesus over every other system of ethics, which the strongest efforts of unassisted reason have presented to the world. Christianity has exposed the errors, as well as refined and confirmed the truths, of ancient philosophy. Many good things have been said by some of the ancients, who, from an attentive and shrewd observation of human nature, have been able to think justly, and to digest certain excellent rules for the rectitude of our conduct. These, so far as they are founded on truth and utility, are acknowledged in the Christian system. But how far does it exceed the philosopher in the recommendation of moral virtues! If he can say, “It is not enough to abstain from the act, we must avoid even the thought of mischief:” the Christian assents, but rises much higher in sublimity of sentiment: “Be not overcome of evil,” says lie, “but overcome evil with good: if thinc enemy hunger, feed bim ; if he thirst,

1990

give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on liis head.” The philosopher teaches, that, “ in returning a favour, we should do it, if possible, with interest, and imitate fertile ground, which always yields more than it receives.” The Christian says Amen to the doctrine ; but the venerable Founder of his religion teaches the virtue of liberality and disinterestedness of spirit, with a simplicity of expression, and a greatness of th ught that nothing in antiquity can equal. “If ye love them who love you ; if ye do good to them who do good to you; and if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again : but love ye your enemies, and do good and lend, hoping for nothing again, and your reward shall be great ; and ye shall be the children of the Highest; for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” And again, 6 When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours, lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind, and thou shalt be blessed, for they cannot recompense thee ; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of The just."

In teaching and enforcing every relative duty, how evidently superior to all preceding legislators is the Founder of the Christian religion! We cannot certainly read the pages which contain his doctrines, withont feeling that they originate from a mind of infinite grasp, actuated hy motives divinely pure, and whose aim is to promote the happiness of mankind in every possible situation. Children are taught, in language level to their comprehension, the obedience and respect which they owe to their parents; and parents are reminded, in their turn, of the duties of feeding and instructing their offspring. The mutual affection aud condescension so peculiarly amiable in the conjugal state, are recommended in the strongest terms. The union is represented as made by God himself, and, therefore, indissoluble but by him. Its engagentents are made sacred by his own scal which he has put upon them, having this authoritative inscription, “ What God has joined together, let no man put asunder." As brothers and sisters, we are warınly almonished to rçciprocal acts of kindness and love: and what system of doctrines can more unequivocally insist on the duties of inferiors to superiors, superiors to inferiors, of kings to their subjects, and of subjects to their kings? The religion of Christ is a religion of order and liarmony. Whatever is offensive to these is hostile to the gospel, which requires of its professors that " they live soberly, righteously, anilgodly in the world ;” that they • fear God and honour the king;" that they not only abstrin froin 'rebellion, but that they “ pray for all thox viat are in authority," representing their ollices as the appointments of God; and giving to the lawful exercise of their prerogatives the sanction of a divine commission. But while it ensures to the ruler the respect and obedience due to his authority, it flatters him not at the expence of his people; - it affords him many wholesome lessons on the subject of government, guarding the precious rights and privileges of the people by the most terrible denunciations against the abuse of power, and the most endearing commendations of a righteous and merciful administration. V

It is wise, therefore, as well as benevolent in any civil power, to encourage the diffusion of religious knowledge among the lower orders of the community. Let it, by its own example, recommend the sublime virtues of Christianity; let it enforce, by the uniform support of legislation, its mild and righteous precepts, and it will assuredly prove “ a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to them that do well:" good order and harmony will be established; all ranks will catch the spirit of universal benevolence, and the strongest phalanx will be drawn round the throne of civil power. Wiiney.

J. B.

A LADY'S PRAYER SOON AFTER MARRIAGE.

[Found among her papers.] On thou, my great and merciful Creator, whom my soul elesires to love and adore above all things! O thou, who knowpst all the weakness and depravity of my nature, I humbly beseech thee to correct all the errors of my reason, and all the corruptions of my heart! Give me, O Lord, that faith which is most acceptable in thy sight, and make me a member of the mystical body of thy blessed Son on earth, that I may obtain an humble inheritance amongst his saints in glory! For his sake, forgive the offences of my past life, and, purify my heart, by the influence of thy Holy Spirit, from every selfish and malignant passion, especially from that sin that doth so easily beset nie. For his sake renew a right spirit within me! Teach me to love thee with the most humble, the most resigned, the most tender picty! Teachine to love my fellow-creatures with the most perfect charity! Teach me to be humble, patient, temperate, and contented. Defend my soul against temptation, against all the snares of Satan, but particularly against any attachment to earthly possessions. Grant that the treasure of my licart may be with thce!

Teach me to promote the happiness of him with whom I am united by the most sacred of ties! to sooth his hours of sorrow with tenderness and patience, and enliven those of comfort with cheerfulness and a fiection; and to sacrifice my inclination to his satisfaction at all times, when it does not interfere with my duty to thee. Not only willingly, but with pleasure enable me to fulfil the good purposes I made before the holy altar. Enable

ine, not only in outward act, but in the most inward recesses of my soul; to be liberal, benevolent; and contented. Make me truly humble, always conscious of my past sins and present infirmities ; always feeling the excellence of others, and rejoicing in that excellence; always indulgent to their faults and infirmities, from a due sense of my own, and feeling that consolation in the cross of Christ which the imperfection of my own obedience can never afford. Fit me, O my God, I earnestly beseech thee, for a better state! Take me from this world when I am most prepared to appear before thee. Support me under the trial of pain and sickness, and receive my soul to mercy, for the sake of Christ Jesus. Amen.

The general character of the above lady may be summed up thus : - She was diligent in the use of appointed means of grace, temperate, just, and benevolent, candid and prudent, sincere, and truly religious.

Designed for the Evangelical Magazine, as a stimulus to other ladies, if the Editor pleasethi to give it a place in that valuable Miscellany.

J. R.

· THÉ PIOUS NEGRO WOMAN. Extract from Oldendorp's History of the Mission of the Brethren in the Caribee Islands, St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. Jan.

Vol. 2, Book 2, Sect. 2, P. 5151

In 1736, the late Rev, A. G. Spangenberg, being then engaged on a visitation of the Mission among the negroes in St. Thomas, went with Mr. F. Martin, a Missionary of the Brethren, to visit sundry negroes that had formerly been awakenedl, and were now gone astray. Yet, among other occurrences, they were greatly rejoiced and pleased with the conversation of an old negro woman, from Guinea, of the Papan nation, called Marotte.; who, on account of her age, had been enfranchised by her proprietor. Spangenberg's description of this woman answers very nearly to that which is given of Comclius in Acts r. She feared God, and was of good report among all the people that knew her. Every morning before ever she takes any food, she falls upon her knees, worshipping God, and bowing her face to the earth. The same she does before ever she retires to rest, having an uncommonly great reverence toward God. She saici, That she learned this custom in her infancy from her parents, and that other people in her country served the Lord also in the same manner ; but that the inhabitants of the coast of Guinea were totally ignorant of such worship. She did not comprehend why the white people did show so little reverence for God, and only, as it were, make some complimentary addresses to hime Declaring at the same time that, if any one would show her a

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »