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solation; and should show you how much reason you have to submit to the will of God, and to admire his wisdom and his goodness. This most merciful and almighty Being has made it obvious, that your daughter belonged to him in an especial manner; since he not only created her in his image, and redeemed her by the blood of his Son, but has regenerated and sanctified her by his Spirit. He had sealed her with his seal for the day of redemption, and had given her the earnest of the inheritance, which he has prepared for his elect from the foundation of the world. After this, my sister, can you doubt, that he conferred on her the possession of this inheritance, and crowned her with glory and immortality? If this is your belief, are you not an enemy to her happiness; or at least, do you not prefer the satisfaction of seeing her amidst the afflictions and miseries of the present life, to her supreme felicity?
M. David wept for his son Absalom, rebel and parricide as he was (for he attempted the crown and the life of his father). Nevertheless, this poor father not only wept over this unnatural son, but he was afflicted at his death, and he speaks of it in the most pathetic terms; he even wished to die, and that his son might live. Indeed, when the death of Absalom was announced to him, he was so affected as to weep, and exclaim, “ My son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom; would to God I had died or thee, Absalom, my son, my son.'
P. This example cannot authorize a grief so peculiar and excessive as yours. On the contrary, it reproves it; for David mourned a son who died in rebellion, and who had planned his parent's death. He had but too much reason for grief, that he had been the father of a child that would be guilty of an attempt on his crown and his life; and he could but reflect with anguish on the future punishment of such a son. While, on the contrary, you have reason to thank God who has given you so pious a daughter, who has died the death of the righteous, and who now enjoys the happiness of heaven.
M. If the life of my child has been holy and exemplary, and if she has been a model of piety and virtue, her patience during her tedious illness, and amidst the most severe sufferings, has been truly astonishing. Not a word of impatience or murmur, ever escaped from her lips; she was composed and resigned to God. In the hope of a better life, she took a peculiar pleasure in praying to God, and in listening to the prayers of others. She attended to religious exhortations with interest and delight, and drank deep of the consolations contained in the word of God. By her wonderful constancy and her pious conversation, she comforted those who came to comfort her.
(To be continued.)
“ The Refuge." By the Author of the Guide to Domestic Happi
Third American edition. Published by Anthony Finley. Philadelphia, 1821. pp. 333.
We are gratified with the appearance of a third edition of this admirable little book. It contains an interesting illustration of some very important practical and experimental truths of our holy religion, written in a neat, chaste, and happy style. The peculiar sentiment of the author, maintained in his “ Gethsemane," does not appear in his REFUGE; nor does it prevent him from making, in the pages of this charming publication, the most unlimited and unfettered offers of the grace of the gospel to sinners indiscriminately. This book is evidently the production of one well versed in the holy scriptures, and intimately acquainted with the workings of unbelief in the human heart. He draws his instructions directly from the fountain of inspiration; and presents to his fair correspondent the invitations, encouragement, and consolations, which, according to the view he had taken of her case, he was authorized by the sacred writers to offer.
The Refuge is composed of seven letters, addressed to a young lady labouring under deep impressions of religion, together with an introduction, in which the author gives some account of his correspondent. “She was the daughter of one of the first families in London," left by her deceased parents to the care of her aunt, “ whose fortune she was to inherit.” Her relative spared no pains nor expense in her education. When the season of life had arrived, she was introduced into the first circles of society, where her beauty and attainments procured for her the most flattering and intoxicating reception. But a sense of the importance and necessity of religion soon rendered all attentions from the gay and honourable, and all the pleasures and amusements of high and fashionable life, unsatisfying. As an accountable and immortal being, she felt that she had a more important destiny to fulfil, than, like a gaudy butterfly, to flutter for a day in scenes of gaiety and dissipation. There was a vacuity in her bosom which these trifles could not fill.
“ In the vigour of youth,” says our author, “ and in the bloom of beauty, surrounded by all that can fatter hope, or stimulate to action, Lavinia entered the avenues of sublunary pleasure in quest of happiness; but the lovely enchantress was not to be found in the regions of terrestrial delight. All the sources of fe. licity were explored in vain : emptiness was stamped on every enjoyment. Our young votaress soon discovered that her expectations were fallacious; that many of her pursuits were not only trifling but criminal. A conviction of guilt filed her breast with tumult: terrifying apprehensions agitated her soul : she beheld with astonishment the precipice on which she stood, the imminent dan. ger with which she was surrounded that there was but a step between her and everlasting ruin : and trembling on this precipice, she first uttered that inexpressibly important query, What shall I do to be saved ?"" Vol. II.-Presb. Mag.
In his introduction the author has made some very valuable remarks on the desire for happiness, which our Creator has interwoven with the very texture of our constitution; on the lamentable mistakes which multitudes commit in seeking its gratification ; and on the indispensable necessity of religion to our present comfort, as well as future blessedness.
In the FIRST letter the author exhibits to his correspondent, who had stated her case to him, and was deeply distressed with a sense of guilt, unworthiness and vileness, an all-sufficient Saviour. In holding out the invitations of the gospel, he meets the objections that are apt to arise in the heart of a sinner against an immediate compliance with them. He shows that the offers of salvation through Christ are perfectly free; and that any, and every, transgressor, how great soever may be the turpitude of his character, is warranted by the language of the gospel, to apply for salvation, in the appointed way, with confidence that his believing application will not be rejected. “In opposition to the freeness of grace, urge,” says the writer, “neither the number nor the magnitude of your crimes as a bar to forgiveness. This would be to act like "the (quoting the words of another) timorous passenger, who, in a storm at sea, makes it his only business to tell the waves, and to shriek at the beating of every billow against the ship; instead of imitating the industrious pilot, who hath his hand at the helm and his eye to heaven, and minds more his duty than his danger."
After an illustration of the riches of divine grace, he subjoins this judicious exhortation to Lavinia.
“Having, therefore, indubitable evidence of the riches of grace in the sal. vation of such atrocious sinners, attempt not to limit its fulness or its freeness respecting yourself. Would you accept of pardon as revealed in the gospel for the relief of the guilty and the wretched, approach the mercy seat just as you are. Carry with you all your sins all your guilt, and frankly confess both before him that searcheth the reins and the heart. Adopt the supplicatory language of David: 'Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great;' or, rather, plead nothing in hope of forgiveness, but the blood of him in whose name you are ex. horted to come with boldness. Stretch forth the hand of faith : lay it on the head of Christ, who is a sin-bearing Saviour, and be will carry all your transgressions into a land of everlasting forgetfulness.”
He notices the tendency of the human heart to a dependence on self-righteousness, and shows that personal merit can have no influence in the great concern of a sinner's justification before the eternal Judge, which is grounded exclusively on the finished obedience of Christ unto death.
“Moral rectitude in all its forms, we ought, nevertheless, to admire, and studiously endeavour to cultivate. A disregard of this, where final, renders eter nal happiness impossible, and condemnation absolutely necessary. That virtuous actions are praiseworthy in the sight of men, and, in a comparative view, in the sight of God, is certain ; but that these actions, however numerous, or however splendid, are of no use in the affair of justification, is demonstrable : and it is this grand fact, and this only, that abolishes, in a religious view, all hu. man distinctions; that exalts the riches of sovereign grace; opens a door of bope for the guilty; and effectually secures all the glory of salvation to our adorable Immanuel.”
In his second letter, the author pursues the subject of justification, and in a luminous manner proves, that the good works done by sinners, and for which some plead so vehemently, constitute no part of that righteousness by which a believer is jus
a tified. This point he establishes by urging the imperfection of all such works,--the vast disparity between them and the salvation they are supposed to merit,--and the plain scripture testimonies on the subject.
The following passage in this letter is worthy of notice:
“That good works cannot be profitable to God, nor serviceable to man, in the important affair of justification, is a truth that extends to men of every de. scription. The real Christian, who is renewed in the spirit of his mind, and enabled to act on principles very different from men in a state of nature, can claim no exception: nay, it will be the language of his heart, My goodness, O Lord, extendeth not unto thee. Morality, in this case, can have nothing meritorious in it; "it being,' says a celebrated writer, but wisdom, prudence, or good economy, which, like health, beauty, or riches, are rather obligations conferred upon us by God, than merits in us towards him: for though we may be justly punished for injuring ourselves, we can claim no reward for self-preservation; as suicide deserves punishment and infamy, but a man deserves no reward or honours for not being guilty of it.'”
The author, while he insists on the exclusion of good works from the article of justification, is careful to assign to them their proper place in religion, and to attribute to them due honour.
“But while it is positively asserted that good works have nothing to do in the justification of a sinner before God, it is maintained with equal confidence, that there are other highly important purposes for which they are indispensably ne. cessary. The scriptures declare, that the elect of God are chosen in Christ Je. sus before the foundation of the world—that when the time to manifest this infinite grace is come, they are called with a holy calling, not according to their works, but according to his own purpose, and grace--that they are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before or. dained that they should walk in them.
“ That faith without works is dead, is an established maxim with the Chris. tian. If there be time and opportunity, every believer is taught, by the Holy Spirit, to maintain good works for necessary uses—to let his light so shine be. fore men, that they may see his good works, and glorify his Father which is in heaven. In this case, faith and holiness are inseparable : and it was a conviction of the importance of this truth, that induced the apostle James to ask, when writing to the Jewish converts, Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? He knew there was a con. nexion between the faith of which he then spoke and moral duties: that it would be as congruous to expect grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles, as to suppose faith in the heart unproductive of real holiness in the life. It is as impossible for the sun to be in his meridian sphere, and not to dissipate darkness, or diffuse light, as for faith to exist in the soul and not exalt the temper and meliorate the conduct.' Faith, as a divine principle in the soul, purifies the heart ; and is, in fact, the only source of good works. The tree must be made good before the fruit can be good. But without faith it is impossible to please God:' and hence we learn that Abraham's faith was prior to that striking proof of filial obedience by which he is said to be justified; and, therefore, neither the cause nor the condition of his justification."
How consolatory to a sinner deeply sensible of his utter unworthiness in the sight of God, is the doctrine of gratuitous justification by the righteousness of Christ!
“Were justification by works, either in whole or in part, what encouragement," observes our author, “could I administer to you, whose distress origi. nates in a conviction of having none to plead as a ground of forgiveness ? What could he say that is called to the bed of a wretched sinner, who, in the prospect of death, is alarmed with a consciousness of enormous guilt-of having lived without God in the world, and of being shortly to appear before him as his Judge? or what to the condemned criminal who, the next hour, is to pay his forfeited life to the laws of his country, as the only possible expiation of his crimes against society ?-He must leave them both a prey to dejection and sorrow : he could not, consistently with his own principles, say any thing either to remove the pangs of guilt, or to assuage the horrors of despair. The hopeless delinquents might each, in their turn, adopt the expostulatory language of Job, • How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm that hath no strength? how hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom! How forcible are right words! but thou art a miserable comforter-a physician of no value.'
Free as justification is, and independent as it is of all personal merit, it cannot, when rightly understood, afford the least encouragement to a life of sin
“For while it is maintained that salvation is entirely of grace that good works have nothing to do in the justification of a sinner before God; that dying infants are redeemed from sin and all its consequences by the blood of Christ ; and that it is possible for the most notorious offender to be saved, even at the last hour; it is, at the same time, affirmed with equal confidence, “That God never intended mercy as a sanctuary to protect sin'—That this doctrine gives to the sinner, continuing in sin, no reason to expect forgiveness: nay, the want of an habitual disposition to keep the divine commands, is unequivocal proof of his being in a state of spiritual death, and of his having no evidence that he shall ever experience the blessing of pardon. Divine grace is a vital, active, influential principle, operating on the heart, restraining the desires, af. fecting the general conduct, and as much regulating our commerce with the world, our business, pleasures, and enjoyments, our conversations, designs, and actions, as our behaviour in public worship, or even in private devotion."
It is impossible to believe this precious doctrine with the heart, and not experience its transforming influence. Genuine believers will assuredly be careful to maintain good works. But then their love of holiness and zeal for the honour of God, arise,” as the writer justly observes, “not from an expectation of being justified, either in whole or in part, by their personal conformity to the moral law, but from a heartfelt conviction that these things are in themselves lovely, as well as good and profitable to men."
Before we dismiss this letter, it is proper to remark, that it contains one passage which we think a little objectionable. Speaking of the inability of sinners, the writer says,
“This incapacity, however, which is purely moral, can by no means be plead. cd in extenuation or excuse. Men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. All obedience or disobedience is properly, or at least primarily, in no part but the will ; so that though other faculties of the soul in