Imágenes de páginas

there would have been less disposition to boast; with increasing success there would have been a greater acknowledgment of the power and grace of God; with an increasing love there would have been greater lowliness of mind; with increasing purity there would have been increasing meekness. And though their holiness, and zeal, and success had equalled that of the apostle St. Paul, still with him they could have said, "Not I, but the grace of God that is in me."


This is not only the case in matters of experience, but also in matters of practice. The great precepts of God's word, by which we ought to regulate our conduct, and the life and deportment of the Saviour, the selfdenial, benevolence, diligence, and humility which shone conspicuously in his character, and which are given to us for a pattern, many overlook, and the tempers and conduct of other professors become the measure of their own. In this respect also they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves among themselves." Hence we see much defective practice in the Christian church; such manifestation of evil tempers, such worldly mindedness, such self-indulgence, such worldly conformity, and so much flexible integrity in their dealings with others, such temporizing virtue in worldly company, such connivance at sin in the ungodly, and such time-serving religion when away from home, such coolness and lukewarmness in the service of God, so much shame of Christ and of their profession when attended by or in company with irreligious persons.

But to be more particular in our description. Thus we see the Sabbath so frequently violated by professors, and with so little consciousness of guilt. The Sabbath is, perhaps, nowhere so sacredly observed as it should be. All classes and all parties unite to pollute it. Government breaks it; gentlemen break it; merchants break it; travellers break it; mechanics and labourers break it: but surely Christians ought not to break it. Yet they do, and often without compunction of spirit. Overlooking the right standard, and measuring themselves by themselves, they are soon brought to think that it is right to do many things on the Sabbath day which might safely be done on other days. They can send to the Post Office for letters and open them; they can often give instructions about business; they can hold parties and go out to visit; they can contrive journeys for that day to see their friends, because it is in some respects a more convenient day; they can sacrifice the services of the sanctuary for the sake of a journey into the country to see their friends; they can stay away from the morning service to cook dinners, or employ others to break the Sabbath for them; they can even clean their houses, &c., on that day. If we reprove them and point out to them the sinfulness of such conduct, they instantly refer to others who do the same thing. They do not ask whether such practices are in accordance with the precepts of God's word, or with the spirit and tendency of the Gospel of Christ; but Brother do so, and therefore it must be right. They measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves among themselves, and so make void the law of God, and render the example of the blessed Saviour of none effect.

and Sister

Hence also we find so much foolish talking and jesting, so much vain and trifling conversation among professors of religion. The apostle St. Paul classes foolish talking and jesting with filthiness and fornication,

and commands us to let no communication proceed out of our mouths but what is good, and will minister grace to the hearers. The blessed Saviour declares, "But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment: for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words shalt thou be condemned." (Matt. xii. 36, 37.) But many professors see no harm in these things. In fact, they are frequently engaged in the most foolish, vain, and unprofitable jesting and babbling with each other. And they think it right, because their fellow professors do so. They sometimes hear those persons blamed who are more grave and serious, as persons who would invest religion with the gloom of melancholy, and require all persons to wear a long countenance, and conduct themselves as if they were about to take the cowl or the hood, and to enter a monastery or a nunnery; as persons who would exclude all lively and cheerful intercourse from religious society; and with such remarks they are wonderfully pleased; and build themselves up in notions of their own virtue in avoiding such extremes. But such persons forget that the joy of the Christian is not the hilarity of the foolish and vain; that the pleasure of the righteous is not the mirth of the jovial and the wicked; that the sweets of Christian intercourse are not the foolish tattlings and empty jestings of the loquacious inebriate or the vain worldling; and they much belie or mistake those who would censure their vain tattle and improper merriment, when they represent them as persons who would exclude all social enjoyment from circles of the righteous. But they see so many professors who are foolish and jesting, and when they engage in such unsavory conversation they are only doing as others do, and therefore satisfy themselves that they are doing no wrong. What the Bible teaches, what the Saviour declares, is forgotten or disregarded. These are no longer their rule, for they "measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves among themselves," and not by the law of God or the example of Christ.

Hence also we see so much worldly mindedness in the church. Men are now regarded as honourable and happy-not only by worldly people, but also by the majority of professing Christians-not in proportion to their holiness, but in proportion as they are wealthy; and hence so many are striving to get money and to become rich. It is the object which principally occupies their thoughts, fills their minds, and employs their energies. A worldly character is consequently formed, concerning which the Saviour says, "How hardly shall they that have riches enter the kingdom of heaven!" Concerning whom the apostle St. Paul says, "They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1 Tim. vi. 9, 10.) But these statements, and many others, are overlooked, while they measure themselves by themselves. Mr. are doing this; and we are commanded to be diligent in business; it must therefore be right. It is commonly said, there are no persons that love money more than professors, that none are more anxious to get it, and that none are more unwilling to part with it when they have it. And has not our conduct given ground for such complaints? Here is a young convert just enter

and Mr.

ing the church. He has seen enough of worldly mindedness among the class with whom he formerly associated; but now he expects to see something different; he expects to get under a different influence, and to witness the development of a different principle. He expects to see such disinterestedness, such contempt for the world, such heavenly mindedness, to hear such heavenly conversation, and to behold such heavenly affections, as shall completely wither the worldly love in his own breast, and make him long with the greatest intensity for the enjoyments of the celestial city. But how soon are his expectations disappointed; and how painfully surprised is he, to observe such an anxiety about the world, such a studying of the art of getting money, and such diligent and exhausting labour in the prosecution of business for this object alone! How pained is he to find that money is the great object that fills the eye, that swells the heart, that moves the mind, that plies the hand, that sustains the spirit under the most pressing cares and wearying labours! Has not our conduct given ground for such remarks?

Even their donations and charitable gifts savour of a worldly spirit. Is a subscription commenced for some object connected with the prosperity of the church or the cause of humanity? They do not ask, "How much can I give; or, how much ought I to give?" But they look down the list of subscribers to see who has given, and how much; and then how their names would appear amongst them, and what place they must occupy to maintain their character? And if the names of certain persons do not appear, they will not give anything; and even then, as little as they can to keep up a good appearance. They do not inquire whether the cause is deserving of their support, and to what extent? But, “What have others done? and how much or little must I do compared with them?" So that even their gifts are not to please God, but to maintain a good name; even in their donations they "measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves among themselves."

This evil is also seen in many if not all the ordinances of religion. Hence some of the means of grace are comparatively deserted, while others are well attended. Those services which are attended by the influential will be attended by others; but if through necessary engagements they cannot attend other means, that will be deemed a sufficient reason for the absence of multitudes; they will infer that they are not of much importance, and will make no effort to attend.

In fact, it is almost impossible to trace this evil through all its windings and in all its ramifications. It extends through all the walks of life, and in some measure affects all our public actions and deportment. We might notice many other things, but we must leave you to follow out the evil for yourselves, and to trace its working in your own conduct for your own profit. We do not refer to things that are grossly immoral, such as swearing and drunkenness, &c., for these things, though we are sorry to say they are not altogether unknown, are not common among professors; but to violations of Christian principle, the word of God, which are equally offensive to God, though not so palpable to the eye of man; which, though not equally criminal in the esteem of others, are yet transgressions of the Divine law, and deviations from the only rule of conduct. Such as the indulgence of bad tempers, the exhi

bition of malice or revenge; making others offenders for a word; backbiting, envy, and jealousy; such as disobedience to parents, and neglect of children; such as idleness and insolence on the part of servants, and oppression on the part of masters; the dishonourable methods of conducting business practised in all places; conformity to the world in anxiety after wealth, in hard-heartedness, ambition, and pride, &c. ; for all these exist, and I fear are increasing among religious professors. They have adopted a false standard, and are imitating imperfect examples, and therefore go on increasing their imperfections and defects, wandering further and further from the standard of true holiness, and multiplying the disorders and evils of the church, and gradually exposing religion more and more to the derision of infidels, the mockery of blasphemers, and the sport of hell.

Christian reader, I do not mean to say that you are more deficient than others; but I do solicit your impartial, candid, and prayerful attention to the subject of this address. Do not be offended, but look round and see whether you are not, in some things, overlooking the true standard, and measuring yourselves by the opinions or practice of others. Be faithful in your examination, and jealous lest you should excuse yourself where God would condemn; and from this moment look not on the conduct of others, but search the Divine word, that you may form a correct notion of what religion is and of what the Lord requires of you. Be not censorious when you see others defective. Think of your own imperfections, of your incapability to form a correct judgment, of your limited knowledge of their education, motives, and hearts. Cultivate the charity that thinketh no evil; and while you grieve over the inconsistencies you behold, candidly acknowledge the virtues; and instead of complaining, go and pray for more grace and love, and for the removal of that which is evil both in others and in yourself.


To Christians no subject can be of deeper interest and greater importance than the progress of Christianity, for by its power society is to be healed, exalted, regenerated, saved. In the formation of churches, which cause the light Divine to be diffused through the world, we see manifested much of the wisdom and goodness of God. These churches, as so many seminaries, are for the training of souls for the high privileges of the eternal world. We have as a community a church of some standing in this town, which under Divine Providence is the result of many and various producing causes, which wrought their effects in ages long since gone to join the years before the flood. Some of these changes deserve to be noticed. The town is situated in a district where you meet not with the bold and picturesque in scenery; the towering mountain, the foaming torrent, the silvery cascade, and villages reposing in verdant dales, greet you not; but you have the wide-spread scenery of earth and sky, and that scenery diversified with land and water, mingled in such a manner as to form a pleasing prospect of the milder kind. Anciently the place was called Icanhoe, as being the utmost north-eastern limits of a branch of the aborigines, viz., the Icene. The Roman conquest of this country, though it disturbed the natives

and overthrew their customs, was still useful, as it led to a higher state of civilization; and by means of the labours of their converts to Christianity introduced the Gospel of salvation into the land. Though the neighbourhood does not abound with evidences of the civilizing power of the Roman sway, yet the remains of their embankments and dykes to drain the land and usefully to regulate the ebbing and flowing of Lidal Grey Dean, indicate their labours to promote agriculture in the country. Their fort for the defence of the district was situated a short distance from the town, at Redstone Gwiet. Races of men pass away, nations change their dynasties or cease to exist; but the word of our God, the Gospel of salvation endureth for ever. Christianity, which put forth efforts for the salvation of the people during the stay of our first conquerors, had again to undergo new struggles amidst the Saxon, Danish, and Norman revolutions, and eventually took firm possession of the minds of the people. In the year of grace 654, St. Botolph founded a monastery here; from this saint the tower took its present name. Other religious houses in abundance were soon founded, according to the customs of the times of our forefathers; some extensive remains of which now existing at the south end of the town, attest the religious zeal of the labourers of that period. The present existing parish church is a noble structure, the largest in the kingdom, and perhaps in the world, without cross isles. Inside it measures in length, from the western door in the tower to the eastern wall in the chancel, 290 feet; and in breadth, including nave and isles, 99 feet. Altogether the church is said to have 365 steps, 52 windows, and 12 pillars, corresponding to the days, weeks, and months of the year. The tower is said to have been built after the model of that belonging to the great church at Antwerp; it is peculiarly handsome, and measures 282 feet in height. The shape and altitude of this part of the structure, with the extreme richness of tracery, windows, buttresses, pinnacles, and fretwork lantern, conspire to render it a general attraction. It is generally considered to be the most elegant tower in England. On the 20th of November, 1819, the day on which the remains of the lamented Princess Charlotte were interred, this noble building was lighted throughout, a circumstance which, it is believed, never occurred before; while the altar, the organ loft, the reading and clerk's desks, with the corporation pews, being hung with black, gave that sombre cast to the otherwise brilliant and noble scene which suited the solemnity of the occasion, and naturally impressed the minds of the people with a reverential awe. The mayor and the corporation went in procession from the Cross Chamber, having the maces reversed and dressed in crape; and such was the extreme crowd that it was with much difficulty they reached their pews. The whole interior of the church was not merely filled, it was literally crammed; it was calculated that there were at least 5,000 persons present. The Dead March in Saul was played by the organist while the mayor and corporation were proceeding to their seats, and other solemn and appropriate music was performed in the course of the evening. The service was audibly and solemnly read by the Rev. J. Wayet, the lecturer, the psalm, lessons, and other portions being taken out of the funeral service; an appropriate and an impressive discourse was delivered by the Rev. Barth. Goe, the vicar, from Ecclesiastes vii. 4, "The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning."

Society, as individual man, progresses towards perfection by gradual

« AnteriorContinuar »