« AnteriorContinuar »
effect, but to the virtue of those who exercise these bea nevolent affections. It is as truly a virtue in my neighbour to rejoice in a benefit which I confer on à fellow creature, as it is, in me, to confer it; and his virtue, in that case, as truly merits präise. Nor can any reason be given why the value and worth of his virtuous exercises should be set to the score of my meriti ! • The inerit or worth of a virtuous action is to be estimated by the quantity of good it produceth as its own genuine effect, according to a common course of nature, without the aids of the virtue of others; and the demerit of vice, by the misery which, in like manner, it produceth, without the concurrence of the crimes and wickedness of others. But, according to the before-mentioned instance, the good or happiness arising from the present, without the aids and concurrence of the virtue of others, cannot be diffused very far, or be very extensive. And yet, thé evil or misery of the theft will, in a common course of nature, diffuse itself through the whole cominunity; and that too without any concurrence of others in the vice and wickedness. It is the virtue of men that causes them to rejoice in the good of their neighbours, and gives them to enjoy it. But it surely is not their vice that gives them to feel pain in a view of the injuries done to others, and under a conviction of danger to their own personal interest and safety. ; **From these considerations it appears, that it is in the power of a creature to do much more hurt than good; and that the vice of a wicked man is much more hurtful to society than the virtue of a good man is beneficial: yea, that the disproportion between them is immensely great. It is hence obvious, that although the demerit of lin should be considered as infinite, it will by no means from thence follow, that the merit of a creature's virtue must also be infinite: the disproportion between the mischief naturally, yea, and in a course of nature necesa Jarily affected by the former, and the good or benefit by the latter, being fo inconceivably great
. (To be continued.... 'Vol. II. No. 4: F... . .
DATIENCE is the guardian of faith, the preferver'
of peace, the cherisher of love, the teacher of humility: Patience governs the flesh, strengthens the spirit, sweetens the temper, stifles anger, extinguishes envy, subdues pride; The bridles the tongue, refrains the band, tramples upon temptations, endures persecutions, consuminates martyrdom: Patience produces unity in the church, loyalty in the state, harmony in families and societies; the comforts the poor, and moderates the rich; The makes us humble in prosperity, cheerful in adversity, unmoved by calumny and reproach: The teaches us to forgive those who have injured us, and to be the first in asking forgiveness of those whom we have injured; she delights the faithful, and invites the unbelieving; the adorns the woman, and approves the man; is loved in a child, praised in a young man, admired in an old man; she is beautiful in either sex, and every age. Behold her appearance and her attire. Her countenance is calm and serene, as the face of heaven unspotted by the shadow of a cloud, and no wrinkle of grief or anger is seen in her forehead. Her eyes are as the eyes of doves for meekness, and on her eye-brows sit cheerfulness and joy. Her mouth is lovely in silence; her complexion and colour that of innocence and security; while, like the virgin, the daughter of Zion, she shakes her head at the adversary, despising and laughing him to scorn. She is clothed in the robes of the martyrs, and in her band she holds a sceptre in the form of a cross. She rides not in the whirlwind and stormy tempest of passion, but her throne is the humble and contrite heart, and her kingdoin is the kingdom of peace.
[From the Biblical Magazine.]
. REV. Sir, W I TH considerable pleasure I have perused your
W book, “ THE GOSPEL ITS OWN WITNESS.” There is one thing, however, in p. 200, second edition, * on which I take the liberty to request a little information; namely, Whether any person, by nature, poffeires that “ honest heart" which constitutes the ability to coniply with the invitations of the gospel to everlasting life? If not, Whether, if I be not what you call an elect finner, there are any means provided of God, and which I can use, that thall issue in that “ honesty of heart" which will enable me to believe unto salvation? And if not, be so good as to inform me, How the gospel can, with any propriety, be called, Ableling bestowed upon me; seeing it is inadequate to make me happy, and contains no good thing which I can possibly obtain or enjoy: for though I am a finner, yet it is im possible for me to be a believing finner.
Reply to the foregoing Query. DEAR SIR, YOU inquirem(1.) “Whether any person, by nature, poffeffes that • honest heart which constitutes the abi. lity to comply with the invitations of the gospel?” I believe the heart of man to be by nature the direct opposite of honest. I am not aware, however, that I have
* Page 224 forst, and 180 second New-York edition.
any where represented an honest heart as conftituting our ability to comply with gospel invitations, unless as the term is fometimes used, in a figurative sense, for moral ability. I have said, “ There is no ability wanting for this purpose in any man' who'poffefses an honest heart?'' If a person owed you one hundred pounds, and could find plenty of money for his own purposes, though nöne for you; and should he, at the fame time, plead inability, you would answer, There was no ability want. ing but an honest heart; yet it would be an unjust con, Struction of your words, if an advocate for this dishoneft 'man were to allege, that you had represented an honest heart as that which constituted the ability to pay the debt. No, you would reply, his ability, striely speaking, contists in its being in the power of his hand, and this he, has. That which is wanting is an honest principle; and it is the former, not the latter, which renders him accountable. It is similar with regard to God. Men have the same natural powers to love Chrift as to hate him ; to believe, as to disbelieve; and this it is which constitutes their-accountableness, Take away reason and conscience, and man would ceafe to be accountable:' but if he were as wicked as Satan himself, in
that case no such effect would follow.-(2.) If no man - by nature poffefs an honest heart, you inquire, « Whe - ther, if I be not what you call an eleEt finner, there are
any means provided of God; and which I can use, that * Thall issue in that honefty of heart which will enable . me to believe unto salvation?" Your being an elect, or a non-eleet sinner, makes no difference as to this ques;
tion. The idea of a person deftitute of honesty using ... means to obtain it, is, in all cases, a contradiction. The
pfe of means supposes the existence of an honest desire after the end; the fcriptures direct to the fincere use of means for obtaining eternal life; and these means are, Repent and believe the gospel; but they no where direct to such a use of means as may be complied with, without any honesty of heart, and in order to obtain it. Nothing appears to me with greater evidence, than that God di.
really requires uprightness of heart, not only in the moral Jaw, but in all the exhortations of the Bible, and not the dishonest use of means in order to obtain it. Probably, you yourself would not plead for such a use of means; but * would allow, that even in using means to obtain an ho
nest heart, we ought to be fincere: but, if so, you mult maintain what I affirm, that nothing short of honesty of heart itself is required in any of the exhortations of fcripture; for a sincere use of means is honesty of heart. If you say “No, man is depraved: it is not his duty to possess an honest heart, but merely to use means that he - may pofless it :' I answer, (as personating the finner) I - have no defire after an honest heart. If you reply, “You
Thould pray for such a desire,' you must mean, if you (mean any thing, that I should express my desire to God,
that I may have a defire, and I tell you that I have none to express! You would then, Sir, be driven to tell me,
I was so wicked, that I neither was of an upright heart, nor would be persuaded to use any means for becoming ~, fo; and that I must take the consequences.' That is, I y must be exposed to punishment, because, though I had
FS a price in my hand to get wisdom, I had no heart to
You would not write in this manner in an affair that af. - fected yourself. If the debtor above supposed wbom
you knew to have plenty of wealth about him, were to · allege his want of an honest heart, you might poffibly
think of uning means with him; but you would not think
of directing him to use means to become what at present - he has no desire to be an honest man! ins. (3.) You inquire, If there be no means provided of
God, which I can use, that shall issue in that honesty of heart which will enable me to believe unto salvation,
How can the gospel be a blelling bestowed upon me; feeing it is inadequate to make me happy, and contains