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devout and praying frame, often lifting up his heart to God for
divine influence and assistance in
the duties before him; and very frequently, even hundreds of times, when he found himself in a retired place, he would dismount, fasten his horse, and prostrate himself upon the earth and pour out his heart to God in fervent prayers and supplications for himself and for others. He had his conversation in heaven, and conversed with God in all the smiles and frowns of providence. When he was in pain, in sickness, or in want, he would eye the hand of God in his situation, and look to him for comfort and relief. When he was in ease, in health, or prosperity, he would gratefully acknowledge the goodness of God towards him. When any of his parishioners did acts of kindness and beneficence to him, or to any of his family, he would record them in his Diary, and pray for his benefactors in particular, that God would amply reward them with both temporal and spiritual blessings. When he was reviled, he reviled not again, and instead of being overcome with evil, he overcame evil with good, by praying for submission for himself, and forgiveness for his enemies. He was no less attentive to public than to private calamities. He deeply lament. ed wars, conflagrations, earthquakes, pestilential diseases, and all desolating judgments, by which God punishes kingdoms, nations, and civil societies, for their ingratitude and disobedience. Such dispensations of providence he endeavored to improve to his own benefit, and to the benefit of his people, in his discourses on
the Sabbath, and on all other proper occasions. He always
had eyes to see, and ears to hear, and a heart to feel, while God was speaking to him, or to others, by the voice of his Providence.
His habitual intercourse and communion with God disposed him to walk softly before him. He delighted to walk in the vale of obscurity, and to avoid every thing, that had the least tendency to enkindle pride in his heart. Though he possessed a sound judgment, a retentive memory, and a lively imagination, which would have enabled him to gain a considerable degree of literary reputation; yet he never sought the honor that cometh from man, but that which cometh from God only.
When he heard either old or young ministers preach, he was apt to consider their a bilities and discourses as far superior to his own. When he had conversed with ministers, or even private christians, upon experimental religion, he was wont to say, "O that I had as much religion, as such a pious minister or such a godly man." He loved to be clothed with humility, and to cherish the thought, that he was less than the least of all saints. He was extremely afraid of pride in every shape, and especially of spiritual pride in re. ligious duties. If at any time, he happened to enjoy peculiar freedom in conversing, praying, or preaching, he would watch every motion of his heart, lest he should be lifted up, and think more highly of himself and of his services, than he ought to think. And after all, he was so far from thinking that he was very humble that there was nothing hard.
ly, which he more frequently and grievously lamented before God in secret, than his want of humility.
It is natural to expect, that such a humble and heavenly minded minister would, like his divine Master, deal prudently. Accordingly, Mr. BEAN did uniformly exhibit a beautiful example of christian and 'ministerial prudence, through the whole course of his life. He was so well acquainted with human nature, that he was capable of foreseeing and avoiding evil, and of becoming all things to all men, in a scripture sense. He always meant to please his people, so far as he could do it consistently with his duty; but if he ever thought he had unnecessarily wounded the feelings of any person, or even of any child, it pained him to the heart, and in the first moment of retirement, he would lament his own conduct, and pray for the person whom he feared he had injured. In the difficulties which happen. ed to arise in the congregation or in the church, he conducted with so much meekness, condesension, and wisdom, that he very rarely gave offence; but, on the other hand, he frequently became happily instrumental of preventing and of healing animosities and contentions among his people, who in consequence of his singular prudence, were noted for their peace and harmony with their minister.
He possessed a very tender and benevolent spirit, which he expressed in all suitable ways, and upon all proper occasions.
He carried his people upon his heart, and mourned with them that mourned, and wept with them.
that wept. In all their afflictions, he was afflicted. He could use the language of the apostle with propriety. "Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?" His compassion was not in word, or in tongue only; but in deed and in truth. Though he never abound. ed in property, yet he abounded in works of mercy. His doors, his hands, and his heart were always open to those in want and distress. If he met a poor creature on the road, whose case called for compassion and kindness, he would not wait to hear the history of his life, or his cries for charity, but would spontaneously contribute to his relief. Like his divine Master, he delighted to do good to the bodies as well as to the souls of men.
Another beautiful trait in his character was a peculiar tenderness of conscience. He kept his heart with all diligence, and avoided every appearance of evil in all that he thought, and said, and did. He was grievously affected, whenever he perceived, that vain, or worldly, or any improper thoughts had crept into his mind, while engaged in secret, private, or public devotions. He set a watch before his mouth, and kept the door of his lips, lest at any time he should happen to drop an unadvised, unedifying, or unchristian expression; and if any such expression ever escaped from his lips, it was a matter of serious regret and la. mentation before God. He also doubled his guard against temptation, when he happened to have company on the Sabbath, or when he was called to attend places of public resort on public occasions. He made the
word of God his only rule of practice, and conscientiously avoided a conformity to the world in many things, which christians and ministers in general considered as innocent, or, at least, very excusable.
If any should now begin to think, that this portrait of Mr. BEAN is drawn in too vivid col ours, they will probably alter their opinion, when they seriously consider his extraordinary DEVOTION. We must believe that few men have ever employed more means than he constantly employed, to grow in grace, and to live a holy and heavenly life, if we may give credit to his private papers. In the morning he usually spent an hour, an hour and half, and sometimes more than two hours, in reading the Bible and other books; in renewing covenant with God; in examining the state of his own mind; and in praying for himself, his family, his friends, bis people, the church of Christ, and the whole world of mankind. The same series of religious exercises he commonly performed every evening, if his health and circumstances would permit. If he finished his discourses for the Sabbath, by Saturday noon, which he endeavored to do, he then spent the remainder of the day, the evening, and the next morning till called to the house of God, in secret devotions. When he returned from public worship, he employed the rest of the day, in preaching to himself what he had been preaching to others, and in reading, meditation, self-examination, and prayHe made a practice of keep
ing the day of his own birth, the day of the birth of each of his children, and the first day of the year as a day of secret devotion. On some of these occasions, be used to set himself to recollect and write down the of. fences he had committed, the du. ties he had neglected, and the mercies he had received, during the year, and sometimes during his life. When he had done
this, he spread all these things before God, with correspond. ing confessions, petitions, and thanksgivings. These peculiar seasons afforded him so much satisfaction and benefit, that, on other important occasions, he set apart whole days for secret prayer and praise.
Such a devout, exemplary, and useful life did not fail to raise Mr. BEAN very high in the affection and confidence of his people, and in the esteem and veneration of his brethren in the ministry. His friends (for he had no enemies) could find no fault in him, except his injuring his health and usefulness, by going beyond his strength in his pastoral labors. But when he heard this complaint, his usual reply was, "I choose to wear out, rather than to rust out, in the service of Christ." Accordingly he pur. sued his beloved work, with his usual zeal and diligence, until he was obliged to relinquish it, by reason of his increasing infirmities, which finally terminated in a languishment, of which he died, December 12, 1784, in the 66th year of his age, and 34th of his ministry. "The memory of the just is blessed."
REFLECTIONS ON THE EVIDENCES OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.
THE numerous objects that present themselves to the mind, afford satisfactory evidence of the existence. of God. The world, including its various appendages, is manifestly an effect. No candid man can view it, without ascribing it to an intelligent, designing, and powerful Cause. God must possess infinite perfection. We obtain the knowledge of his attributes in the same way, that we learn his existence. He that could create the world, must possess unlimited power. He that could determine all things to their present form, and adapt them to their uses, 'must manifestly have an infinite knowledge of all possible combinations, and power to adopt any combination, and assign its existence to any point of time, or space.' The goodness of God is likewise exhibited in the abundant variety of means, which conduce to the happiness of his creatures. We should regard it as a subject of praise, that man, placed as he is, with his limited faculties, upon so small a spot of so vast an universe, should be enabled to extend his view so far around him, and permitted to trace so many striking marks of stupendous power, wisdom, and beneficence.'
The number and the nature of the proofs of this fundamental doctrine, that God exists, clearly exhibit the blindness and stupidity of men. Where the light of nature only has been enjoyed, VOL. II. New Series.
men have either lived without any god, or have attributed to their imaginary ones such char. acters, as would be wholly inconsistent with the great Creator. Why are men so inattentive to the brightest displays of wisdom, power, and goodness, in the Supreme Cause; while they adopt notions, that are not only without foundation, but repugnant to all the principles of reason and common sense? Why are such striking and seemingly irresistible evidences of the be ing and perfections of God entirely overlooked by thousands of our race; while such absurd opinions are readily imbibed, and strenuously maintained, concerning the senseless deities, which they have formed for themselves? Since men are rational creatures, why do they not act rationally in this case? Surely, it is owing neither to want of evidence, nor to incapacity of perceiving it. God has not left himself without witness, nor man without faculties. He has displayed himself in all ages and countries, in all objects, and in every event, in a manner intelligible to common capacity; and therefore men are without excuse for not knowing him. How criminal is the ignorance of men, since the spacious and instructive book of nature is open before them! Though revelation greatly increases the obligations and the guilt of men, yet the bare light of nature leaves them inexcusable.
Again, if the existence of God is manifested by every thing around us, then we should always be sensible of his presence. Every mind, that duly reflects, must surely be impressed with solemnity by the existence of that Being whose wisdom contrived, whose power produced, and whose energy constantly sustains this mighty fabric. It is not a matter of indifference, whether we regard the manifestations of divine existence. When God speaks, we are bound to hear with the most reverential attention. If all the dignity of the human race were combined, it would not impress the mind with half the awe, that the works of God are suited to inspire. The aggregate wisdom and pow. er of all men could not perhaps effect any thing, that would surpass our comprehension. But God, in numberless instances, has formed things, which, either by their minuteness or magnitude, elude the grasp of our minds. Men may surround us, and view our external actions; God not only does these, but he is within us; he witnesses all the exercises of our minds; and his unceasing agency performs in us many wonderful and inexplicable operations. How deeply and constantly therefore ought we to be impressed with a sense of his being and presence; and how much worse than stupid and brutish are those, who neglect the great Creator and Preserver of the world!
Again, if God exists, then all his creatures are absolutely dependent on him. Whether animate or inanimate, whether rational or irrational, they can exist in no form, mode, or state,
but such as he determines. suppose the contrary, would be to suppose, that creatures can exist and act not only independently of their Creator, but in opposition to his purpose. It is
no less conformable to the dic. tates of reason, than to the ex. press declarations of scripture, that God does all his pleasure ; and that none of his creatures can frustrate his plan. It is suitable therefore, that we be solemnly sensible of the supre. macy of the great Jehovah and of our entire dependence on him. He will make us subservient to his glory; he will accomplish his own designs; and we are bound by the strongest obligations to rejoice in his unlimited au. thority over us.
Finally, if God exists, then it is of the utmost importance to secure his favor; and nothing can be more dreadful, than to incur his displeasure. It must be in the power of that Being, who formed all things, to bestow the richest rewards, and to in. flict the most terrible punishments. All rational beings, therefore, should feel most deeply concerned to learn and obey his will. In comparison with this, all concerns, that relate merely to the present life, are less than nothing and vanity."
No one who assents to the truth of the Scriptures, can call in question the indispensable and universal duty of repentance, "for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." But as many mistake its nature,