Page images
PDF
EPUB

come short of the glory of God; that, however well, from which she might bring peace to her troubled she might have thought of herself, or her connec-spirit. tions have thought of her, she was " by nature a To possess the theory of religion only is of high child of wrath even as others.” She awoke as from advantage. It is possessing the escape-ladder, which, a profound sleep; she had dreamed of peace and though it may never have been used, is always ready security, but she was awakened by the stings of an for use when the hour of distress shall arrive. Thouaccusing serpent coiling round her heart.

sands, from their ignorance of divine truth, have These discoveries, in the first instance, were not to inquire for the means of salvation when thuy acceptable to her mind. She could not welcome a should be intent only on their application. They light that revealed only forbidden objects; she could are aware of their danger, but know not where their not at once throw up the hope and confidence in help is to be found; and they remain in a state of which she trusted; she was unwilling to allow that most fearful distress, if they are not precipitated all her actions and thoughts partook of the nature into overwhelming despair. of sin;" and she considered it hard to exact a per- From these perplexities Martha did not suffer. fect obedience from imperfect creatures. The vague In the ruin of her existing hopes, she knew where and general ideas she had of the Divine Mercy, and her only, her last dependance must rest, and her the way in which her susceptible mind had dwelt eye turned spontaneously to that Saviour who is upon ii almost exclusively, tempted her to consider the hope and consolation of Israel. With this obit unsuitable for God to condemn for one offence as ject her mind had been familiarized for many years; for many, and to connect with all offence a punish- but it is important to mark the fresh lights in which ment as lasting as existence. She was anxious to it was now contemplated. Before, it was the Saabandon these sentiments; but Scripture and an viour's gentleness of temper, the benevolence of his enlightened conscience forced them upon her. Her heart, the innocence of his life, the distress of his mind was freited, disappointed, mortified. She circumstances, or the agonies of his final hours, that was disposed to complain of the Divine Providence, called forth her sympathy, while the more exalted to think of God as an austere master and a severe parts of his character rested behind a veil which judge; to say to the sovereign Ruler of the uni- she had little desire to remove. Now, however, it verse, "What doest thou ?-why hast thou made was on these her thoughts most earnestly dwelt. me thus ?"

The Saviour as Mediator; his engagements for This check to the current of penitential sorrow man's redemption; his authority to forgive sins; only increased its strength to overcome all resistance. his power to propitiate Divine justice, and bring Every day spiritual truth stood out to her view with near to us the infinite Mercy; his conquest over distincter light and with greater prominency. The our spiritual foes, and his bestowment of a renewvery dispositions which perplexed her were em-ing, sanctifying spirit-these were the particulars ployed to fix those convictions on her mind which in his character and work which were felt to be so she was so desirous to reject. In proportion as the needful to her condition. She searched the Scripirritation of her thoughts yielded to reflection, she tures afresh, and found that they testified of Him in was astonished and confounded to find the temper a sense and with a power to which she had been of her mind in opposition to the government of God hitherto a stranger. She saw that Christ was in-a Being she had thought she so truly loved. She deed the wisdom of God-the power of God-the found she had been loving and trusting a creature Son of God— God himself, manifested in the flesh. of her own imagination, and not the God of the It was apparent to her that the Saviour, possessing Scriptures; that while she thought God altogether the nature of God and man, was qualified to stand such a one as herself, she admired and approved; in the breach and effect our reconciliation. A but when he became her reprover, and set her sins scheme of salvation lay before her above her hopes in order before her eyes, she was disposed to resist, -above her thoughts; she could not doubt its suitto fight, to rebel. The truth burst upon her like a ableness it was exactly what she wanted; she revelation. “The carnal mind is enmity against could not question its sufficiency-it was the proGord; it is not subject to the law of God; neither, duction of inexhaustible love. No,” she remarkindeed, can it be!" The majesty, the forbearance, ed at this period, with peculiar emphasis, “I cannot the purity, the mercy of God—the pride, the unbe- for a moment doubt ihe ability or willingness of lief, the rebellion of her spirit, were all apparent to Jesus to save to the very uttermost; my only doubt her. She cordially justified God, and condemned is whether I have come to him aright for salvation.” herself; she sank before the eternal throne, shed- This doubt, while it proved her sincere and ho. ding the overflowing tears of generous contrition nest dealing with herself, was salutary in its conand godly sorrow. Hers was now the spirit and the sequences. It excited her caution, gave fervency language of the enlightened and humbled patriarch: to her prayers, and rendered her diligent and perse"I had heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but vering in her inquiries. It had possession of her now mine eye seeth Thee; wherefore I abhor my-mind; but she could not grant it a quiet and conself, and repent in dust and ashes: behold I am tinued residence. Her fears were raised by the vile!"

presence of real and extreme dangers; and nothing Now came the great, the momentous question- could subdue them less than real, reasonable, and What shall I do to be saved? The question and scriptural hope that they were removed. The apthe reply had often been brought to her thoughts in probation of God, the safety of her spirit, the right the course of a religious education; but they had and cordial acceptance ofthe Redeemer, were things not been rightly understood and valued. They had of infinitely too great importance in her esteem to been in her memory like a prescription in the hands be thought of with indifference, or suspended in of a healthy man, unnoticed or disesteemed. To voluntary doubt. She was not now hesitating in estimate the doctrine of salvation, it must be desir- her determinations between God and Mammon, ed-desired above all things, from a conviction of Christ and Belial; she was whole-hearted ; and ii its indispensable necessity. She now found herself was not in the power of youth, with all its buoyto be in a state of imminent peril; she was alive to ancy and thoughtlessness, nor of the world, with all a sense of her helplessness in attempting her own its fascinating and unbroached delights, to give her deliverance; she felt herself in the condition of the spirit ease and comfort, till she had found a satisdisciple sinking amid the opening waves, and ready factory reply to that affecting question, which is ad. to perish; and her eye looked eagerly for an object dressed to the conscience of every child of manto which she might attach her dying hopes, and" Dost thou believe on the Son of God ?"

The means were sincerely employed, and they beyond the circle of their thoughts, will, with a were attended by the promised success. She asked, teacher in Israel, demand, “How can these things and received; she sought, and found; she knocked be?" However mortifying to our pride and comat the door of truth and mercy, and to her it was placency, this question admits only one replyopened. Hope took possession of her mind; and These things, rightly to be understood, must be truly the very perturbations which troubled it proved it experienced.' To see the light we must be in the also to be both sure in itself, and steadfastly fixed light. To comprehend a spiritual life we must live on the things which cannot be shaken. Her thoughts spiritually. “ The natural man discerneth not the became tranquil, and they settled themselves intent- things of the spirit, neither can he know them, bely on Him who is the author and finisher of our cause they are spiritually discerned." He wants iaith. She was particularly encouraged by observ- the answering faculty; and without this, his coning the character of the Saviour's invitations, and ceptions of a life he does not live” will be as vague, the persons to whom they were addressed. He as unreal, and as wild as the conclusions of the blind stood before her in all his mediatorial excellence man who compared the color of scarlet to the sound and efficiency, as the helper of the helpless, the ot' a trumpet. But let him fear to deny what he friend of the destitute, the surety of the debtor, the does not perceive. These things are as rational saviour of the lost. She approached unto Him, as they are important. To deny the necessity of a and put her trust under the shadow of his wings. divine change is to deny the uniform testimony of She deliberately renounced whatever was contrary Scripture, supported by the voice of conscience, and to the love of Him; and placed her reliance on his the universal state of mankind. To deny its possisacrifice and mediation for acceptance with the bility is to deny a Providence, to sit in judgment Father. She acknowledged Him as her first, her on our Maker, to exclude him from the work of his last, her only, her sufficient hope of salvation; and own hands, and to say that the spirit he has formed, she committed herself, body, soul, and spirit

, into as his living temple, he has power neither to ocbis hands, to be redeemed from all evil, to be con- cupy nor to influence. trolled by his divine authority, and to be modelled after his most holy will. In one word-she believed; and believing, she rejoiced with joy unspeak

CHAPTER IV. able; it was the joy of penitence—the joy of hope

AFFLICTION. 1809. the joy of love-lhe joy of gratitude-the joy of Life is a progressive principle; and in its proheaven.

gress to vigor and maturity, is often assisted by apThese exercises of the mind, though they are parently adverse principles. The tree is frequently brought within a few short paragraphs, were ex- distressed that it may bear fruit; man is inoculated tended through many days, and even several weeks. with disease that he may preserve his health; and With them, she was disposed to hope, commenced the Christian is called to endure affliction, that his that change without which she could not expect to divine nature may be purified from earthly adheenter the kingdom of heaven. She might have sions, and shine out the brighter and the stronger. been moved by the influence of the good Spirit at It was the will of Providence that the good work earlier periods; but she dared not conclude on the begun on the mind of Martha should be established possession of an inward principle of spiritual life, by suffering. It happened in the commencement except as she was brought to discover her spiritual of this year that Mrs. Wilks, the consort of the state, and raised to the love and pursuit of spiritual Rev. Matthew Wilks, suddenly expired. Martha objects. Her thoughts were not occupied with curious was among the many who admired and loved this and vain inquiries on the precise moment in which most excellent woman when living, and who mournthis life originated; she was content to trace its ex- ed her dissolution when dead. It was her earnest istence in its effects. She felt there was no comparison request that her parents would allow her to witness in the importance of the two questions-Do I live? the interment of the earthly remains in Bunhill and, When did I begin to live ? Happily, God has fur- Fields—that ancient and sacred place of sepulture nished us with ample means of satisfaction on the one which, above all others, perhaps, will be prepared inquiry; while the other, except as we judge by the to welcome the awakening trumpet of the archevidences of life, is, with as much wisdom and deli- angel. The day was bleak and damp; the melting cacy, veiled from our knowledge. Life of no class, snows were upon the ground; her parents objected; vegetable, animal, or spiritual, is to be ascertained but she entreated, and prevailed. "What with the by detecting the vital principle; and yet it is, of all unfitness of the weather, the agitation of her spithings, most apparent by its own outward expres- rits, and her want of caution to avoid disease she sions. A truth this which, had it been properly re- had never felt, she received a violent cold. This garded, would have preserved the minds of many was soon removed; but a troublesome cough, which from being diverted or perplexed by needless and attended it, remained upon her, and bade defiance impracticable inquiries; and would have given to the care and medicine employed to eradicate it. them, at once, an active and prospective direction. There were, however, no consumptive tendencies

Such a change, bringing the mind into accord- in her constitution; and the cough, though it gave ance with the humbling truths of the Scriptures, uneasiness, excited no alarm, till, in the month of and elevating it into sympathy with an invisible July, when it appeared to be passing away, and eternal world, what ever may be the adaptation tured a blood-vessel. This was a distressing and of means, must, without hesitation, be ascribed to fearful event to all the family; further professional the finger of God. I am aware that this allusion to advice was taken, and Martha was ordered to leava a Divine agency will provoke the censure of the town immediately. world. But it is a received maxim, even with the In selecting a place where she might enjoy a world, that the Deity may be introduced on an oc- purer air and greater quiet, the choice fell upon casion worthy of himself; and can we conceive any Cheshunt, a pleasant village at the foot of the thing more worthy of the Divine Mercy and Ma- Hertfordshire hills. Here the bosom of a family jesty than to illuminate, and sanctify, and restore to was open to receive her, of which her parents had himself an immortal spirit, which has wandered a slight acquaintance; and to its protection they from his feet, and is alienated from the life and therefore resigned their afflicted child with the less blessedness it is alone qualified to enjoy ?

reluctance. Yet the world will exclaim,“ This is a hard say. The hand which had brought Martha under its ing !" and the most candid, perplexed by a subject corrections had also provided for her, in this family,

it rup:

a friend, who contributed considerably to soothe The trials which, to the spectator, may appear her bodily sufferings, and to promote her spiritual to be intolerable, are sometimes welcomed by the improvement. This young person was of her own individual who is to suffer them. Matha had erred sex, and but little her superior in years. They with many young Christians in supposing, that were both ardent in their sensibility, unsuspicious while she lacked opposition she wanted one eviin their confidence, and sincerely devoted io reli- dence of Christian character; not considering that, gious pursuits. Neither had as yet found a friend in her case, opposition had been hitherto an imposto whom she could fully communicate on the sub- sibility, as her connections had been limited to the ject which now filled their attention. They spent friends of real piety. This disposition of mind, iheir days and their nights together. They walked however, prepared her to meet these rude assaulis at the same hour; they worked at the same table; with comparative calmness. She felt herself to be they read the same book; they joined in the same innocent; and therefore entered into the blessedprayer. They were pleased and surprised to find, ness of those who are persecuted for righteousness' ihai, as face answereth to face in a glass, so did the sake. She bowed her head quietly to the storm; exercises of their minds correspond. They had she embraced the more favorable moments of saying thought that their state was altogether peculiar; something that might fasten on the conscience or but now they found they had been agitated by simi- the offender; and when, as often happened, her lar griefs, humbled under conviction of similar of tender spirits were jaded by blustering and noise, fences, and brought, through similar perplexities she withdrew to her chamber, seeking relief by of mind, to rely on the almighty and compassion-weeping at the feet of her Saviour, and presenting ate Redeemer. They communed with themselves afresh that prayer which was offered by him who and with each other, they edified one another on prayed as never man prayed: “Father, forgive their most holy faith; and their hearts were knit ihem, for they know not what they do." together in love--in Christian love, the most pow- After the lapse of a couple of months, Martha erful and refined of all sympathies.

returned to the embraces of her parents, improved Martha, it will be felt, was in circumstances lo in health, enriched in friendship, and benefited be particularly affected by this intercourse. She even by the tongue of persecution. Her life was was among strangers; her mind was softened by made precarious by disease, and her thoughts were disease; she was in want of those attentions which brought nearer to eternity. She had been enabled imperceptibly, and therefore surely, make their way to exercise a divine temper under provocation, and to the heart. Her young friend readily seized the it gave her fuller assurance of possessing a divine opportunity of offering these attentions. She be- nature. She was confirmed in gratitude and concame a staff to her trembling steps when she sought fidence; and she walked in the light of the Divine the refreshing influence of the air; she adminis- countenance ! tered punctually the salutary portions of prescribed The sky that is cleared too quickly is seldom medicine; she surprised her sluggish appetite with tranquil. Martha had passed with compar vecetempting articles of nourishment; and studied, in lerity into a state of lively enjoyment; but in the manifold instances, her present ease and ultimate remaining months of this year her mind was frerestoration. Is it strange, if a spirit like Martha's, quently overcast by the clouds of anxiety and Joubt. inclined to kindle into gratitude and love on the I learn this chiefly from her correspondence with slightest show of kindliness, should feel deeply, her young friend, from whom she was now sepaperhaps excessively, in the exercise of so much rated ; and which is very kindly put into my hands real and unostentatious sympathy, imparted, as it to use at discretion. As the Christian is known was, without any claims of previous friendship? equally by what he fears as by what he hopes, it

There is a thorn in every nest. Amid this re- may be expedient to make a few extracts from her tirement, it did not appear possible for her to be vi- letiers at this period. It will be remembered, that sited with any external vexation; but even here, they are the expressions of a child of sixteen, and distress found its way to her in a form which it had of a mind too intent on things to study words. never before assumed. The family which thus afforded her so sincere a friend, possessed a member Sept.-A week is past since we were called to of very opposite principles and character. This a painful separation; and we are a week nearer to relative was a young man, chiefly remarkable for eternity. I feel my mind more deeply impressed his ignorance and wilfulness. Unsocial in his than ever by the importance of eternal things. O, manners; neglectful of his calling; disobedient to if we lived more for eternity, how different would his parents; and of so vexatious à temper, as, if our conversation and all our conduct be! To think ever capable of happiness, to find it only in the un- that we are dying creatures, and come into this happiness of others. Revelation, least of all things, world only as probationers for an eternal one! socould be acceptable to such a person; and he chose, lemn thought! To recollect that I have been sixtherefore, to become an infidel. It was truly a teen years in the world, and that so very, very little matter of choice with him, and not of opinion; he of that time has been devoted to the purpose for professed not to argue on the subject; it was enough which I came into being! But I must stop and for him that he could show his daring by slandering adore the Goodness which has spared me to thiss and profaning what others held to be most sacred. moment. O that we may be enabled to live more

This daring unbeliever, however, was dastardly as dying creatures !" enough to attempt, in every way, the annoyance of "I hope the Lord will never suffer us to deceive two young females, one of ihem his relative, and the ourselves. Let us pray much that he will search cher an invalid, a stranger, and beneath the protec- us and try us. Though our hearts are so deceitful, uon of his family! He gave them the greatest provo- yet we may come to a knowledge of our characcation, and then reproached them with the want of iers; and how important is it to know this! It will meekness; he made them sad by his presence, and make our afflictions pleasant; it will enliven our then insulted them for their demure hypocrisy; he love and all our graces; it will teach us to look on shocked their ears with his blasphemies, and found all earthly things as straw and stubble, which are satanic delight in the pains he had created ; and so to be burned." much was he the enemy of all godliness, that even “I have just had another fit of coughing. If I when they fled to their closets for peace, he would should be removed from you, do not repine. Reoften enter on some contrivance to disturb their de- member, the Lord brought us together, and we shall votions.

not be parted till he sees fit. 0, my derr, let me

[ocr errors]

grace there.

[ocr errors]

entreat you to be sober and vigilant, because of do not permit him to look on any without confusion your adversaries. Watch, for in such an hour as and pain. It is not only needful that the faculty of ye think not, the Son or Man cometh. My dear, vision should be perfect; there must be time to apheaven is worth striving for! To think of being ply it separately to the different objects which prefor evr: with the Lord! Let us determine, in the sent themselves, before he can assure himseli that strength of Jesus, to knock, and .o knock hard too, he distinctly sees them in the lights and distances ni the door of Mercy, till we gain admission. in which they are really placed.

“Faint, yet I hope pursuing. I am much afraid These alternations of hope and fear will also be I have been deceiving myself, I have such a very promoted by the intensity of the interest, where the deceitful heart; and, indeed, 'I hardly know what mind is sincere in its inquiries. It is fixed earreasons I have for thinking I am a child of God. nestly on things of extreme, of infinite importance. I dare not deny that a change has taken place in To be interested in the Divine favor which it has me, but I fear it is not a change wrought by the forfeited, and to escape the wrath to come which it Spirit of God; I am so lukewarm, so cold and in- has deserved, are blessings on which it exhausts all different. You know every Christian has faith and its reflections, and which yet it cannot fully apprehumility, and I am afraid I have neither. I am ciate. It is anxious above all things to reach a faafraid to hope, and yet afraid not to hope. This is vorable conclusion, but shudders at the thought of a paradox, but you can understand it. O, my dear, reaching it upon false premises. Its very intentness pray for me, that I may be altogether, and not al- on a decision-so awful, so desirable-holds it fremost, a Christian !"

quently in trembling suspense. The man whose “I have had a great many doubts and fears mind is balancing between supposed or real trifles, lately. I find so much pride and unbelief in my may preserve his indifference; but if he is pursuing heart, that I think, at times, there cannot be any an inquiry on the issue of which his property, his

I am often afraid I am deceiving character, his dife are to depend, what agitations of myself, and fear I am like the barren fig-tree. You doubt and desire will necessarily possess him! know what the end of that is, though it appear Who, then, shall doubt the reasonableness, or estiever so green and beautiful. May we bring forth mate the force of those anxieties, which are assomuch fruit—the fruits of the Spirit! This is a ciated with all that eternity can reveal, all that an hard conflict; but let us rejoice that it is a conflict- immortal spirit can suffer or enjoy ? that our enemies have it not all their own way- Although these anxieties will naturally spring

from the importance of the truths which are conStill toss'd tempestuous on the sea of life, templated, and the freshness of the light which My little bark is driven to and fro;

surrounds them, it must be admitted that they may With winds and waves I hold unequal strise, be greatly prolonged or exaggerated by other cir

Nor can decide the doubtful course I go; cumstances. Martha was not so painfully affected O may we reach that blissful shore,

by them as many; but she might probably have Where storms and winds distress no more ! been less so, had her years allowed her to mark the

influence of the body on the mind, and to discri"Let us never forget that we are travellers to an minate between physical sensations and Christian eternal world. To what place in that world are we principles. bound? If to Canaan, we must remember there is Still less she might have suffered in this conflict a waste howling wilderness to pass through, innu- of hope and fear, had she sought matured and sage merable enemies to fight, and a Jordan to cross : counsel. But the young love to confide in the but let us not be discouraged; our enemies are young; and she was content to have found a friend mighty-our Saviour is almighty. He has said, to whom she could freely unbosom herself. Her

Fear not, worm Jacob; my strength is made per- friend, similarly situated with herself, was well fitfect in thy weakness.' ', my dear, humbly relying ted to become a sympathetic companion ; but she on this strength, let us go forth and fight cou- was not sufficiently advanced before her to be an rageously the battles of the Lord of hosts, not fear- experienced guide. In addition to the comforts of ing that we shall come off more than conquerors this friendship, had she sought the direction of her through Him who hath loved us, and died for us, parents on the perplexities of her mind as they and will not withhold from us any good thing," arose, she might have been sooner relieved. For

"I have felt my mind more calm since I saw the present, however, humility and respect threw you; but, alas ! I am ready to fear it is a false calm. undue restraints upon her; and she could only join You will ask me my reasons. I think, if it were a generally in religious conversation, without alludtrue peace, I should be more humbled under a ing to any influence it exerted on her own spirit. sense of sin, and should walk far more close with While these observations are thrown out as way. God. O, that we may lie humbled at the footstool marks to others, it is pleasing to notice that these of the Saviour, that we bear no more resemblance renewed perturbations of heart were overruled by a to him! And let us not rest here: but, with the gracious Hand, to produce the best effects. The greatest importunity, beseech him to give us his various views she took of her situation gave her Holy Spirit, that he may conform our hearts en- deeper conviction of the impotence of her nature, cirely to his image.”

and her liability to temptation and sin. Hope ga

thered resistance, like the elasticity of a spring, from These rariations of mind, thus artlessly described, the pressure of fear; her faith took the firmer grasp, are in some measure necessarily connected with the because an enemy sought to shake it from its hold; young Christian's experience. The very strange- and her love was ultimately borne more quickly ness of his situation will produce them. God, who to heaven by those winds which threatened to beat commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath it down to earth. She yet more earnestly employshined into his mind with a new and powerful illu- ed every instituted means of grace; she eagerly mination; and a thousand objects relative to him- propounded to her parents questions of conscience, self and others, to this life and that which is to without noticing their relation to herself; and she come, press upon his attention at once, awing him diligently read, as she had opportunity, those books by their sublimity, and dazzling him by their bright- which were suited to her temper, and illustrative ness. He is in the circumstances of the blind man of her experience. who is suddenly restored to sight. The innumera- Among the books which were thus perused was ble objects which are at once presented to his view, the “Rise and Progress of Religion," by the truly

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Christian Doddridge. From this work she receiv- of kings and Lord of lords, art the other! I would ed (who has not ?) considerable assistance and be- blush and be confounded even to mention it before Defit. It shed more light upon her way, and conse- thee; but, O Lord, great as is thy majesty, so also is quently gave more steadiness to her steps, and se- thy mercy. If thou wilt hold converse with any of renity to her heart. Here she met with a form of thy creatures, thy superlatively exalted nature must covenant, and with urgent exhortations to adopt it stoop, must stoop infinitely low! And I know, that as her own. She was docile, and willing to be di- in and through Jesus, the Son of thy love, thou conrected; but she was humble, and shrunk from so descendest to visit sinful mortals, and to allow their solemn and explicit a mode of engagement. Yet approach unto Thee, that they may give themselves she felt that she had already virtually done what to Thee for ever. was here recommended, and she was disposed to "To Thee, therefore, do I now come, invited by construe her hesitancy in doing it more formally the name of thy Son, and, I hope, wholly trusting into a want of seriousness and sincerity. This in his perfect righteousness and grace. Laying jealousy of herself decided her in adopting it. It myself at thy feet with shame and confusion of face, was readily embraced, as a means of satisfying her- and smiting upon my breast, I say with the humble self that she had long been whole-hearted in the publican, God be merciful to me, a sirner! I acsurrender she hoped she had already made to the knowledge, O Lord, that I have been a great transSaviour of her body, soul, and spirit.

gressor. My sins have reached to the heavens, and She was, however, too conscientious to employ my iniquities are lifted up to the clouds. Alu if any form of words, how excellent soever, with pre- thou shouldst be strict to mark my offences, I mist cipitancy, She passed over it sentence by sentence, be silent under a load of guilt, and immediately and word by word; making every variation and sink into destruction. But thou hast graciously omission which she found necessary to her full called me to return unto Thee, though I have been and cheerful acquiescence. Because it is thus va- a backsliding and rebellious child. Behold, thereried, and because it is a hallowed and interesting fore, I am come unto Thee. I come convinced, not document in her life, I shall not scruple to introduce only of my sin, but of my folly. Receive, therefore, it in closing this chapter, connected with her reflec-I beseech Thee, thy revolted creature, who is now Lions upon it in a letter to her friend, who alone convinced of thy right to her, and desires nothing knew of the transaction.

so much as that she may be entirely thine. Permit I am aware that this practice has been condemn- me, O Lord, to bring back to Thee those powers ed, on the one hand as enthusiastic, and on the and faculties which I have ungratefully and sacriother as pharisaical; and a writer of eminence has legiously alienated from thy service. recently endeavored to fix upon it, somewhat incon- "Blessed God! it is with the utmost solennity sistently, the entire weight of this two-fold objec- that I make this surrender of myself to Thee. Hear, tion. If these censures are directed against the heavens, and give ear, O earth: I avouch the abuses of the thing only they will receive the sanc- Lord this day to be my God; and I avouch and detion of every sober mind.' There have undoubt- clare myself to be one of his covenant children and edly, been extravagancies of expression, and modes people. Hear, 0 thou God of heaven, and record of signature, and a high self-confiding temper mani- it in the book of thy remembrance, that henceforth fested, which should be most seriously deprecated. I am thine, entirely thine! From this day do I But if these censures are meant, as is feared, to go solemnly renounce all the former lords which have beyond this, let it be remembered, that the practice had dominion over me, every sin, and every lust; which is so fully countenanced by Scripture, and and bid, in thy name, defiance to the powers of hell, has been so generally pursued by the wisest and which have, most unjustly, usurped the empire of diost devoted of Christians, cannot be essentially my soul. All that I am, and all that I have, the wrong. And what is of infinitely greater moment, faculties of my mind, and members of my body, my let it be distinctly felt that the spirit of the practice worldly possessions, my time, and my influence is the spirit of all religion. Self-dedication is of the over others, I consecrate to Thee. In thy service I very nature and essence of religion. If this is sin- desire to spend all the remainder of my time upon cerely admitted, the mode of expressing it is compa- earth; and I beg that thou wouldst instruct and inratively of small importance, and the Christian may fluence me so, that whether my abode here be longer consuli his individual benefit in coming to a deci- or shorter, every year and month, every day and sion. It is optional whether we “subscribe to the hour, may be used in such a manner as shall most Lord with our hand;” bat it is imperative that we effectually promote thine honor, and subserve the subscribe to Him with the heart. Circumcision,” | design of thy wise and gracious Providence. O the mere sign of dedication," is nothing;" and " un-blessed God! I would steadily persevere in this circumcision,” the want of that sign, " is nothing;” | course, to the very end of life; earnestly praying but "a new creature," the act of surrendering our- that every future day of it may supply the deficienselves totally, and for ever, to God, against whom cies and correct the errors of the former; and that we have rebelled, this is every thing!

I may, by Divine grace, be enabled, not only to hold on in this happy way, but to become more ac

tive in it! “Eternal and unchangeable Jehovah! Thou great “Use me, O Lord, I beseech thee, as an instruCreator of heaven and earth, and adorable Lord of ment of thy service. Number me among thy peangels and men! I desire, with the deepest humili- culiar people. Let me be washed in the blood of ation and abasement of soul, to fall down at this thy dear Son. Transform me more and more into time in thine awful presence; and I earnestly pray his image. Impart to me, through him, all the that thou wilt penetrate my very heart with a suit- needful influences of thy purifying, cheering, and able sense of thine unutterable and inconceivable comforting Spirit: and let my life be spent under glories !

those influences, and in the light of thy gracious " Trembling may justly take hold upon me, when countenance, as my Father and my God. I, a sinful worm, presume to lift up my head to “And when the solemn hour of death shall come, Thee, and to appear in thy majestic presence on may I remember this covenant of thine, well order: such an occasion as this. Who am I, O Lord God, ed in all things and sure, as all my salvation and all or what is my house! What is my nature or de my desire, though every other hope and enjoyment sceni, my character and desert, that I should desire is perishing. And do thou, O Lord, remember it to be one party in a cover:ant, when thou, the King too! Look down with pity, 'O my heavenly Father,

FORM OF SELF-DEDICATION.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »