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well aoid he not ple The vilent
Where is he that has put away all lying," that never speaks what he does not mean? Who is ashamed of this? Indeed it was once said, and even by a statesman, “ All other vices have had their patrons; but Lying is so base, so abominable a vice, that never was any one found yet, who dared openly to plead for it." Would one imagine this writer lived in a Court? Yea, and that in the present century ? Did not he himself then, as well as all his brother-statesmen, plead for a trade of deliberate lying? Did he not plead for the
innocence, yea, and the necessity, of employing Spies ? The vilest ' race of liars under the sun? Yet who ever scrupled using them, but Lord Clarendon ? ..
3. O Truth, whither art thou fled? How few have any acquaintance with thee? Do not we continually tell lies for the nonce, without gaining thereby either profit or pleasure ? Is not even our common language replete with falsehood? Abore a hundred years ago, the Poet complained,
" It never was good day
Since lowly fawning was called compliment." What would he have said, had he lived a century later, when that art was brought to perfection? . 4. Perhaps there is one palpable evidence of this, which is not
usually attended to. If you blame a man in many other respects, he is not much affronted. But if you say,.. He is a liar,' he will not bear it, he takes fire at once. Why is this? Because a man can bear to be blamed, when he is conscious of his own innocence. But if you say, he is a liar, you touch a sore spot: he is guilty, and therefore cannot bear it.
5. Is there a character more despicable than even that of a liar? Perhaps there is : even that of an Epicure. And are we not a ge. neration of Epicures ?. · Is not our belly our god? Are not eating and drinking our chief delight, our happiness? "Is it not the main study (I fear the only study) of many honourable men, to enlarge the pleasure of tasting ? When was luxury (not in food only, but in dress, furniture, equipage) carried to such a height in Great Bri. tain, ever since it was a nation ? We have lately extended the British empire, almost over the globe. We have carried our laurels into Africa, into Asia, into the burning and the frozen elimes of Amelica. And what have we brought thence? All the elegance of rice, which either the Eastern or Western world could afford.
6. Luxury is constantly the parent of Sloth. Every glutton will in due time be a drone. The more of meat and drink he devours, the less taste will he have for labour. This degeneracy of the Britons from their temperate, active forefathers, was taken notice of in the last century. But if Mr. Herbert then said,
“O England, full of sin, but most of sloth," what would he have said now? Observe the difference between the last and the present century, only in a single instance. In the last, the Parliament used to meet Hora quinta, ante meridiem ! at five in the morning. Could these Britons look out of their graves, what would they think of the present generation ?
7. Permit me to touch on one article more, wherein indeed we excel all the nations upon earth. Not one nation under the canopy of heaven can vie with the English in Profaneness. Such a total neglect, such an utter contempt of God, is nowhere else to be found. In no other streets, except in Ireland, can you hear on every side,
" The horrid oath, the direful curse,
That latest weapon of the wretch's war,
And blasphemy, sad comrade of despair !" 8. Now let each of us lay his hand upon his heart, and say, “Lord, is it I ? Have I added to this flood of unrighteousness and ungodliness, and thereby to the misery of my countrymen ? Am not I guilty in any of the preceding respects ? And do not they suffer, because I have sinned ?" If we have any tenderness of heart, any bowels of mercies, any sympathy with the afflicted, let us pursue this thought, till we are deeply sensible of our sins, as one great cause of their sufferings.
9. But now the plague is begun, and has already made such ra. vages both in England and America, what can we do, in order that it may be stayed? How shall we stand “between the living and the dead?” Is there any better way to turn aside the anger of God, than that prescribed by St. James : “ Purge your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded ?". First, “ Purge your hands.” Immediately put away the evil of your doings. Instantly flee from sin, from every evil word and work, as from the face of a serpent. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth ;” no uncharitable, no unprofitable conversation. Let no guile be found in your mouth : speak to every man the truth from your heart. Renounce every way of acting, however gainful, which is contrary either to justice or mercy. Do to every one as, in parallel circumstances, you would wish he should do unto you. Be sober, temperate, active.; and in every word and work, labour to have a conscience void of offence toward God and toward man. Next, through the almighty grace of Him that loved you, and gave himself for you, “purify your bearts by faith.” Be no longer double-minded, halting between earth and heaven, striving to serve God and mammon. Purify your hearts from pride ;-humbling yourselves under the mighty hand of God;—from all party-zeal, anger, resentment, bitterness, which now, especially, will easily beset you ;- from all prejudice, bigotry, narrowness of spirit;from impetuosity, and impatience of contradiction ;from love of dispute, and from every degree of an unmerciful or implacable temper. Instead of this earthly, devilish wisdon, let “the wisdom from above" sink deep into your hearts : that “wisdom” which is first pure," then “peaceable, easy to be entreated,”-convinced, persuaded, or appeased, — " full of mercy and good fruits; without partiality,”-embracing all men; “ without hypocrisy,"—genuine and unfeigned. Now, if ever, “putting away all malice, all clamour,” railing, “and evil speaking: be ye kind one to another,”_to all your brethren and countrymen,si tender-bearted” to all that are in distress; “ forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
10. And “now let my counsel be acceptable to” you, to every one of you present before God. “Break off thy sins by repentance, and thy iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity;" of what degree of it still remains among us. Show mercy more especially to the poor widows, to the helpless orphans of your countrymen, who are now numbered among the dead, who fell among the slain in a distant land. Who knoweth but the Lord will yet be entreated, will calm the madness of the people, will quench the flames of contention, and breathe into all the spirit of love, unity, and concord. Then brother shall not lift up sword against brother, neither shall they know war any more. Then shall plenty and peace flourish in our land, and all the inhabitants of it be thankful for the innumerable blessings which they enjoy, and shall “ fear God, and honour the King."
LONDON, Nov. 7, 1775.
SOME ACCOUNT OF THE LATE WORK OF GOD IN NORTII
(First published in tbe year 1778.)
"The appearance was, as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.”
Ezek. i. 16. 1: WHATEVER may be the primary meaning of this mysterious passage of Scripture, many serious Christians, in all ages, have applied it, in a secondary sense, to the manner wherein the adorable Providence of God usually works in governing the world. They have judged this expression manifestly to allude to the complicated wheels of His Providence, adapting one event to another, and working one thing by means of another. In the whole process of this, there is an endless variety of wheels within wheels. But they are frequently so disposed and complicated, that we cannot understand them at first sight; nay, we can seldom fully comprehend them, till they are explained by the event.
2. Perhaps no age ever afforded a more striking instance of this kind than the present does, in the dispensations of Divine Provi. dence with respect to our Colonies in North America. In order to see this clearly, let us endeavour, according to the measure of our weak understanding,
First, To trace each Wheel apart. And,
Secondly, To consider Both, as they relate to and answer each other.
I. And First, We are to trace each Wheel apart.
transactions in America ; but barely to give a simple and naked deduction of a few well-known facts.
I know this is a very delicate subject; and that it is difficult, if not impossible, to treat it in such a manner as not to offend any; particularly those who are warmly attached to either party. But I would not willingly offend; and shall therefore studiously avoid all keen and reproachful language, and use the softest terms I can, with. out either betraying or disguising the truth.
1. In the year 1736, it pleased God to begin a work of grace in the newly planted colony of Georgia ; then the southernmost of our settlements on the Continent of America. To those English who had settled there the year before, were then added a body of Moravians, so called ; and a larger body, who had been expelled from Germany by the Archbishop of Saltzburg. These were men truly fearing God and working righteousness. At the same time there began an awakening among the English, both at Savannah and Frederica; many inquiring what they must do to be saved, and “bringing forth fruits meet for repentance.”
2. In the same year there broke out a wonderful work of God in several parts of New-England. It began in Northampton, and in a little time appeared in the adjoining towns. A particular and beautiful account of this was published by Mr. Edwards, Minister of Northampton. Many sinners were deeply convinced of sin, and many truly converted to God. I suppose there had been no instance, in America, of so swift and deep a work of grace, for a hundred years before; nay, nor perhaps since the English settled there.
3. The following year, the work of God spread by degrees, from New-England towards the South. At the same time it advanced by slow degrees from Georgia towards the North : in a few souls it deepened likewise ; and some of them witnessed a good confession, both in life and in death.
4. In the year 1738, Mr. Whitefield came over to Georgia, with a design to assist me in preaching, either to the English or the Indians. But as I was embarked for England before he arrived, he preached to the English altogether; first in Georgia, to which his chief service was due, then in South and North Carolina, and afterwards in the intermediate Provinces, till he came to New-England. And all men owned that God was with bim, wheresoever he went ; giving a general call, to high and low, rich and poor, to “repent and believe the Gospel.” Many were not disobedient to the heavenly calling ; they did repent and believe the Gospel; and by his ministry, a line of communication was formed, quite from Georgia to New-England.
5. Within a few years he made several more voyages to America, and took several more journeys through the Provinces; and in every journey he found fresh reason to bless God, who still prospered the work of his hands; there being more and more in all the Provinces, who found his word to be “the power of God unto salvation."
6. But the last journey he made, he acknowledged to some of his friends, that he had much sorrow and heaviness in his heart, on account of multitudes who for a time ran well, but afterwards « drev back unto perdition.” Indeed in a few years, the far greater part of
those who had once received the word with joy, yea, “had escaped the corruption that is in the world, were entangled again and overcome.” Some were like those who received the seed on stony ground, which in time of temptation withered away; others were like those who received it among thorns: the thorns soon sprang up and choked it. Insomuch that he found exceeding few who “ brought forth fruit to perfection.” A vast majority had entirely turned back from “ the holy commandment delivered to them.”
7. And what wonder ? For it was a true saying, which was common in the ancient Church, “The soul and the body make a man, and the spirit and discipline make a Christian.” But those who were more or less affected by Mr. Whitefield's preaching, had no discipline at all. They had no shadow of discipline; nothing of the kind. They were formed into no Societies. They had no Christian connexion with each other, nor were ever taught to watch over each other's souls. So that if any fell into lukewarmness, or even into sin, he had none to lift him up: he might fall lower and lower; yea, into hell if he would; for who regarded it?
8. Things were in this state, when, about eleven years ago, I received several letters from America, giving a melancholy account of the state of religion in most of the Colonies, and earnestly entreating that some of our Preachers would come over and help them. It was believed they might confirm many that were weak or wavering, and lift up many that were fallen; nay, and that they would see more fruit of their labours in America, than they had done either in England or Ireland.
9. This was considered at large in our yearly Conference, at Bristol, in the year 1767; and two of our Preachers willingly offered themselves; viz. Richard Boardman and Joseph Pillmoor. They were men well reported of by all, and, we believed, fully qualified for the work. Accordingly, after a few days spent in London, they cheerfully went over. They laboured first in Philadelphia and NewYork; afterwards in many other places; and every where God was eminently with them, and gave them to see much fruit of their labour. What was wanting before was now supplied. Those who were desirous to save their souls, were no longer a rope of sand, but clave to one another, and began to watch over each other in love. Societies were formed, and Christian Discipline introduced in all its branches. Within a few years after, several more of the Preachers were willing to go and assist them. And God raised up many natives of the country, who were glad to act in connexion with them; till there were two and twenty travelling Preachers in America, who kept their circuits as regularly as those in England.
10. The work of God then not only spread wider, particularly in North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Jerseys, but sunk abundantly deeper than ever it had done before. So that at the beginning of the late troubles, there were three thousand souls connected together in religious societies : and a great number of these witnessed, that the Son of God hath power on earth to forgive sin.
11. But now it was, that a bar appeared in the way, a grand hin