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muring against God, have adored and honoured him with their praises.
M. Perhaps, dear sir, you will instance some Philosopher of the sect of the Stoics, who worshipped a false image of virtue ; and who pretended that a man should not be moved by any change of circumstances; who, in a heated cauldron, should be as well satisfied, as on a bed of roses. It is no matter of surprise, that persons of this description, whose hearts were marble, should neither rejoice at the birth of their children, nor be afflicted at their death.
P. No, my sister, I will not adduce a Philosopher of that sect—not even the admirable Seneca ; the preceptor of the Emperor Nero—who teaches in his beautiful letters, that “ afflictions are the noble exercise of virtue. And as generals expose to the most desperate attacks, and to the greatest danger, the soldiers whom they value the most, and whose valour they most wish to display--so God sends the severest afflictions and the sorest trials to those whom he loves the most, and whose virtues he intends to exhibit before the world.” But I will speak of a Philosopher as kind as you could wish, and who cherished for his family as much affection, and well regulated tenderness, as you can do for yours. It is the celebrated Plutarch, who has left so many excellent works, which have been preserved so many ages, and which doubtless will be preserved till the end of time, to reprove the impiety of professing Christians, and their indulgence of excessive passion.
This poor Pagan observes, “ that the oak does not grow from a rock. I cannot,” says he,“ be of the opinion of those who so loudly praise a brutal, savage, and inhuman want of feeling, which is contrary to nature; and, were it practicable, would take away that mutual kindness, the delight of loving and knowing that we are loved.” He avows the love he felt for his children, for he takes pleasure in representing the graces, and loveliness of a little daughter, who died at an early age. He remarks, that she took pleasure in sharing with her companions, whatever she had that was dear and agreeable to her. "But he wishes it to be remembered, that he recalls these things, not to increase his affliction, but to soothe and console himself. He does not forbid parents the indulgence of moderate grief, on the death of their children; on the contrary, on this subject he makes an observation which is very striking and beautiful. “ It is desirable,” he says, that, “ we should never be sick ; but if we are so, it is allowable that we should feel our illness; or if a member of our body is wounded or cut off, it is impossible but that we should experience pain.” He does not then condemn sadness, or affliction. It is the excess of these which he VOL. II.- Presb. Mag.
condemns; and he distinguishes between a reasonable and chastised sorrow, and one that is wild and unrestrained. He contends, that the excess of grief is as blameable as the excess of pleasure ; and that nothing is more unreasonable than to censure the extreme of levity and mirth, and, at the same time, to suffer our tears to flow without measure or restraint. He thinks it strange, that many persons should reprove their wives for using costly perfumes, or purple robes, to gain admiration; while they allow them to dress in the deepest mourning, to tear their hair, to throw themselves on the earth, and to weep to excess. He is astonished also at husbands who are displeased with their wives, when they are enraged at their domestics, and treat them cruelly; and, nevertheless, suffer those wives to grieve without measure, and render themselves miserable by the excess of their sorrow. He advises to resist the first attacks of grief; to check it at the threshhold ; and not suffer it to take entire possession of the heart.
I had almost forgotten that this excellent man desires that parents who have any surviving children, should be amused with them, and take pleasure in their society, inasmuch as it is wrong so to grieve for those whom God has taken from the world, as not to derive comfort from those which he has left.
But there is one thing I observe, that is really admirable in a Pagan. It is, that he states distinctly, that “when a person dies, every thing returns to its proper place. The body which was taken from the dust, returns again to dust--while the soul, that is incorruptible and immortal, returns to Heaven; and that the good undergo no suffering. On the contrary, that they are happy, and exempt from misery and affliction, and are desirous that no one should be afflicted on their account."
If a poor Pagan, surrounded with the thick darkness of idolatry has spoken in this manner--what would he not have said, had he enjoyed one spark of that knowledge with which it has pleased God to enlighten you. And what ought not you to say, my sister, who have been brought up in the school of divine wisdom, who know that your daughter, having lived in the fear of God, has departed in his favour and his love,-that God has received her soul into glory, and admitted her to behold his face; that her body will be raised again, incorruptible and immortal, and conformed to the glorious person of her Saviour ; and that, at the last day, we shall all be borne on the clouds of Heaven, to meet our Lord in the air, and be forever with the great God, our Redeemer, to enjoy all that glory and happiness which he has purchased by his precious blood.
Ñ. I acknowledge, dear sir, that the example of this poor Pagan is admirable, and covers me with a strange confusion.
(To be continued.)
OBITUARY. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”—Psalm cxvi. 15.
Departed this life, at Cowper-hill, in the county of Robeson and state of North Carolina, on Sabbath morning, 4th August, 1822, the Rev. Malcom M Nair, late pastor of the Presbyterian churches of Centre, Ashpole, Laurel-hill, and Red Bluff, in the 46th year of his age, and 20th of his ministry.
Seldom has the church of Christ been called to mourn the loss of so distinguished an ornament to her ministry, and of so faithful and able an advocate of her cause. His eulogy will long remain, written in legible characters, on the tablets of many hearts; his memory will long continue dear to his brethren in the ministry, to his amicted and bereaved family and congregations, and to his numerous friends and acquaintances.
He has left a disconsolate wife, and four promising young children, to bewail the loss of a most tender and affectionate husband and father. May that God, to whom the service of his life was consecrated, and who has never forsaken the righteous or his seed, be indeed the Husband of this widow, and the Father of these fatherless children !
Mr. M.Nair was truly a burning and shining light in the church of Christ, in his day and generation. He was a distinguished instrument in the hand of God, in doing much good to precious souls, during the time of an extensive revival of religion, with which, about the period when his ministry commenced, it pleased God to favour many of the churches then under the care of the Presbytery of Orange. He had much fervent zeal in the cause of God, and that zeal was always tempered with knowledge and discretion. Few men have ever attained so blameless a life as that which he maintained ; few men, in their daily walk and conversation, have so conspicuously adorned the doctrine of God their Saviour; and, most certainly, scarcely ever any man entertained a lower opinion of himself, or of his own attainments. In his personal deportment he was exemplary; in his friendships he was warm, sincere, and ardent; when called to act in the judicatories of Christ's church, the promotion of Zion's welfare was his chief aim; he was eminent for his love of peace, and generally successful in its promotion; and his discourses, from the pulpit, always exhibited a glow of most persuasive eloquence, and breathed the most anxious solicitude for the salvation of the precious souls committed to his care.
For several years past his health had been gradually declining; but his ardent devotion to the great cause in which he had embarked, urged him, often under the pressure of very severe bodily pain, to continue his labours in the sanctuary until within the last six months of his life, when the increasing violence of his disorder, at length, compelled him to refrain from the public exercise of those gifts, which, in years that are past, were so signally blest.
He died as he lived, strong in the faith of that Redeemer, who, to every believer, has deprived death of his sting; and, on the morning of the Sabbath on which his beloved Mock were about to surround the table of their once crucified but now exalted Redeemer, he was, as the uniform tenor of his life warrants us to believe, admitted to the enjoyment of a never ending Sabbath of rest.
His people, no doubt, deeply and sensibly feel the magnitude of the loss, which, in his death, they have been called to sustain ; but, to them, as well as to all others who unite with them in deploring so heavy a loss to the church of Christ, the reflection is pleasing and consolatory, that their loss is his everlasting gain.
C. M I. Fayetteville, (N. C.) Sept. 11th, 1822.
FROM THE LONDON EVANGELICAL MAGAZINE.
ON DECISION IN RELIGION. Moses, on a momentous occasion, stood in the gate of the camp and cried, “Who is on the Lord's side? let him come unto me.” And in our own day a similar inquiry ought to be plainly and powerfully urged home, that the true servants of God may occupy their high and proper ground distinctly marked, and rally round the standard of the great Captain of their salvation. Decision, both in our religious principles and practice, is of the highest importance. The Bible unquestionably contains a system of doctrines which bear the stamp and signature of Heaven; yet, because they are opposed to the pride, self-will
, carnality, and corruption of the human heart, they are generally slighted and contemned. Nothing is more easy or more common than to profess faith in the Gospel; but let us not rest in a vague indefinite assent, or a cold customary form.
What are the doctrines we espouse? Are they, in very deed, the humbling, holy, and salutary truths of God's word? Do they lead us to abandon all dependance on our own righteousness, and centre our trust in the atonement, merits, and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ ? Are these doctrines, not the opinions we have received from education, but the principles we have embraced on conviction? The most ardent and forward profession avails nothing without a corresponding practice. Have we then come out from the world ? I ask not whether its grosser vices and abominations are forsaken? but are its luxuries, its pleasures, its favourite maxims, its vain amusements, given up? In every age, and rank, and situation, there are certain occasions which operate as tests to try men, and manifest what they are. A careless, dilatory, and fluctuating state of mind, in reference to the grand concerns of God and eternity, is both foolish and criminal. But the state of mind, which it is the design of this paper to recommend, has many advantages connected with it.
1. Decision in religion gives a peculiar dignity and lustre to the character. The time-server, who dexterously trims and accommodates bis religion to the fashion of his neighbours, or the taste of his superiors, can never command respect and esteem. Waywardness and fickleness betray either a weak juds
ment, or a want of principle. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. But the steady and resolved believer holds fast the form of sound words con. tained in the Gospel; and, unseduced by specious errors, as well as undismayed by threatening dangers, presses forward towards the mark of the prize of his high calling. There is a sublime grandeur in such a character. We admire the precious enduring elements of which it is composed, and their gradual conformation to a divine and perfect model. Compare with the course of the wandering sceptic and the mercenary trimmer, the noble conduct of Joshua, Elijah, and Paul.' The valiant leader of Israel saw their propensity to idolatry, and said, “ Choose ye this day whom ye will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Elijah on Mount Carmel, though opposed by the king and court, and a formidable phalanx of enemies, boldly stood forth alone in defence of the true religion, and thus addressed the fluctuating multitude : “ How long halt ye between two opinions? If Jehovah be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” Paul pleading his Master's cause before Festus and Agrippa, furnishes another instance of that decision and heroic intrepidity, which every believer should be concerned to exemplify. And a Christian, even in the lowest rank, whose principles are fixed by the testimonies of God, and whose temper and conduct accord with those principles, is possessed of true dignity. He sets the Lord always before him, and though reproached, vilified and persecuted, he continues unmoved. Christ is his trust, his hope, his strength; Christ his pattem, his portion, his eternal All; and he can neither be drawn nor driven from this rock, this refuge, this divine Redeemer.
2dly. Decision in religion is intimately connected with the richest comforts and blessings. The Gospel brings inestimable benefits in its bosom. Pardon of sin, peace of conscience, everlasting consolation, and a good hope through grace, are conveyed to us in its great and precious promises. The Gospel opens an inexhaustible storehouse of all the good which suits and satisfies the soul of man. “ Be it however recollected,” says Mr. Hall, “ that the Christian religion confines its enjoyments exclusively to sincere and decided Christians. To these enjoyments you will therefore necessarily continue a stranger, unless you resign yourself wholly to its power. Many, without renouncing the profession of Christianity, without formally rejecting its distinguishing doctrines, live in such an habitual violation of its laws, and contradiction to its spirit, that, conscious they have more to fear than to hope from its truth, they are never able to contemplate it without terror. It haunts their imagination instead of tranquillizing their hearts; and hangs, with depressing weight on all their enjoyments and pursuits. Their religion, instead of comforting them under their troubles, is itself their greatest trouble; from which they seek refuge in the dissipation and vanity of the world, until the throbs and tumults of conscience force them back upon religion. Thus suspended between opposite powers, the sport of contradictory influences, they are disqualified for the happiness of both worlds, and neither enjoy the pleasures of sin, nor the peace of piety.” But behold the firm and decided Christian! he lives near the fountain of light and grace ; he feeds on the bread of life, the hidden and heavenly manna. Though clouds may for a short time darken his sky, they cannot blot out his sun. Feb 4, 1822.
AMICUS B. ✓
FROM THE WINCHESTER REPUBLICAN,
BOASTS OF INFIDELITY. It is frequently remarked, that the most laudable deeds are achieved in the shades of retirement; and to this truth history testifies in every page. An act of heroism or philanthropy, performed in solitude, where no undue feelings can affect the mind, or bias the character, is worth, to the eye of an impartial observer, whole volumes of exploits displayed before the gaze of a stupid and admiring multitude.
It is not long since a gentleman was travelling in one of the counties of Vir