Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

3. The death of an aged and honorable gentlewoman, who was of the same age with my mother, gives me an opportunity, and an obligation to address my mother with the best insinuations I can use, to assist and quicken her preparations for the heavenly world.

4. G. D. I am informed, that in the very populous town of Marblehead, there is a most grievous want of household religion. Few families have the worship of God in them. I would immediately write unto le schoolmaster there, a pious and hopeful person, and send him a number of books on that subject, and pray him to disperse them, where there may be most occasion and encouragement.

5. G. D. My circular letter to the English ministers of the Indians, I would have to take in several other points of consideration, besides what I formerly intended for it. Particularly, I would propose to them an article of bouschold piety among the Indians, and the article of preserving them from those that would oppress and defraud them.

6. G. D. I find out another person in my neighborhoorl miserably poor, to whom I would frequently dispense relief in the best way that I can.

7. G. D. Before another week be out, I am to begin another year. Wherefore, I would now look back on the purposes of this year, and see which of them have not been pursued as they should bave been, and quicken my pursuance of them, and every way get into the disposition of a poor, weak, frail man, finishing the fifticth year of his age.

1. G. D. It may serve the interests of piety, especially in the female part of the flock, if I give them a sermon on the good works of a virtuous woman. Some such, and one especially, by death lately departing from us, I have therein a particular occasion to do so. And I am endeavoring therefore, this way to recommend the best things unto imitation.

Having preached a funeral sermon on the death of an aged and worthy gentlewoman in the neighborhood, I sent the copy of it immediately unto her valuable son, that he may publish it, if lie please, unto the world, I proposed herein to blow up the zeal of good works into a vchement flame, and very particularly in the handmaids of the Lord. The title of it is TABITHA REDIVIVA. An essay to describe and bespeak the good works of a virtuous woinan, who therein approves herself a real disciple of our holy Savior. With some justice done to the memory of that religious and honorable woman, Mrs. Elizabeth Hutchinson, who expired, Feb. 3, 1713.

9. G. D, I would very much persuade and assist my consort, that slie may be a woman full of good works. She shall never want wherewithal to supply her liberalities. I will often renew my cares, that ont of presents made unto the family she may dispense portions to the miserable. I will put her upon visiting the poor and needy and such as are in a Miction, and by her hand send reliefs unto them, and she shall also inquire wherein she may be helpful unto them.

4. G. D. Å somewhat surprising providence puts me upon reviewing and publishing a discourse about unsuspected injuries which men do umto the great Savior; preached nearly twenty years ago. I am hereby supplied with a precious opportunity to write some very pungent things for the conviction both of the Jews and of the Arians, which I desire, with much supplication to heaven for assistance, to lay hold upon.

For the Papoplist. THE NUMEROUS SOURCES OF EARTHLY WRETCHEDNESS.

“Here every drop of honey hides a sting,

Worms wind themselves into our sweetest fowers." No man of common retlection can liave failed to observe the multiplied sources of unhappiness in the present world. The first sensations of our being are those of suffering; at every successive stage of the toilsome journey, we have fresh opportunities of extending the boundaries of our knowledge; but, at the same time, they painfully teach us how numerous are the thorns in our path. In adding pungency to the sufferings already experienced, they show how little reason we have to wish for increasing the points of connexion with earth, since each new hold we have taken, bas multiplied the number, and increased the burden, of our miseries. Preserving, as we pass along, a constant recolicction, that misery in all its diversified forms is the genuine offspring of sin; and that a state of being, now so abounding in evils, was originally pronounced by its Creator very good—I shall briefly, notice some few of the more ordinary sufferings which fall to the share of alınost every one:-sufferings, for whose prevention no means are within his power, and the calm endurance of which presents a constant exercise of his patience.

Let it be observed, that in accordance with the motto above, I select those circumstances of life only, which are connected with the more agreeable features of it, the conditions in which man is to expect pleasure, if any where; Icaving entirely out of the account those palpable and acknowledged evils, wbich no one cver thought of numbering among his pleasures.

1. The mortifications arising from the business undertaken, as the means of income or of gratification, are often very severe. In this place I might easily extend the exemplification of the subject to a vast variety of particulars. I will, however, confine the illustration to a narrow compass. Select an individual, dceply inmersed in commercial affairs; notice his anxiety respecting the state of the markets--the sales of his cargoes abroad, -the returns expected from them, the dangers of the sea, &c. Suspense agitates his bosom, and sleep is a stranger to his eyes. Not unfrequently bis fears are realized, he learns the unwelcome transition from afluence to poverty. Nevertheless, he sought happiness in bis multiplicd labors; he expected to find it; but his search has becii as fruitless as the pursuit of a shadow. Even when so far successful, as to gain the object sought as the medium of procuring pleasure, he finds that substantial enjoyment is no nearer his reach than when lie began. Iu looking at the thousand occupations of men, you will not perceive the mortification less, nor their sorrows fewer in number, than in the instance above mentioned.

II. A great deal of suffering is occasioned by the gencral character of the society with which one is accustomed to mingle. Opposition of sentiments prevents the cordiality of locling indispensable to tranquil enjoyment. It is not pretended that men cannot live without angry contentions, because they do not think alike. But certainly, the highest relish of life and its possessions never exists, without an icon of sentiment between ourselves and those around us. A considerahlo

share of what is called comfort, in civilized society, arises from the mutual exchange of kind offices between neighbors and friends. But such offices are not long performed, except they can flow from kindred affections. The anticipated pleasures of this kind are seldom realized. A very limited intercourse with mankind will be enough to teach us, that our own opinions and those of our company are totally different; that in declaring our belief the by-stander thinks we oppose or ridicule his; he esteems and treats us as enemies; thus the cup of wbich we must necessarily partake is embittered. A poisonous draught received where was expected a refreshing cordial. Il peace be preserved at any price, it is probably at the expense of sacrificing our belief to those who differ from us, or in the safer, but unpleasant, alternative of concealing our sentiments, and withholding each expression of injured sensibility. What enhances the vexation of all this, is the fact, that we have already done so much, and made so many concessions for peace, and still, are as remote from it after a thousand sacrifices of interest and of deliberate judgment, as when we began the business of accommodation.

III. The peculiarities of taste in members of the same family are inexhaustible sources of unhappiness. I wish it to be here distinctly recollected, that I fully allow, in its widest latitude, the duty of yielding in matters of inferior moment. For preserving the tranquillity of the doinestic circle, no expense of feeling or of opinion, compatible with the preservation of a clear conscience, should be spared. But many occasions are presented, in which a man will need all his calmness and self-command, to meet with any tolerable composure those adverse occurrences, which clearly appear to him to have originated in the faults of those around him.

It has often been remarked, that mankind are more closely attached to small matters,than to any other; that they will defend with a wonderful obstinacy their adherence to some trivial notion, or their strict observance of some insignificant form. Minds of an high order are not wholly free from this infirmity. But let a weak mind once fix an importance to a few punctilios, and become a little familiar with the practice of them, and you may as easily reinove the boundaries of the ocean, as strip it of a possession to which it allises such an incalculable value. Intellects of this description, generally, if not always, belong to those who bave an overweening fondness for fashion, and fashionable amusements. Show them ever so clearly the folly of spending whole hours, and even years, in shulling about a handful of painted papers,”-the infatuation of expending thousands, and devoting almost a whole life, in other frivolous amusanents, in worthy of a chill-and after all, you have done nothing towards convincing them of their error, or reforming their conduct. Such people will contend more carnestly for the right and the propriety, of wasting time at the call of caprice and folly, ihan for the most solemni concerns of their souls, or any other subject relating to the general good of the luman species. For the gratification of a vicious appetite, for the indulgence of a whimsical fancy, they contend with the warmth of enthusiasm. They seem to imagine that the minuteness of the object justifies the closest grasp which can possibly be made of it; that it will deriye some dignity from this cloud of angry passions raised in its defence.

Persons most distinguished for obstinate adherence to trifles, will commonly be found to have no established principles of action, or, at least, none deserving the name. When beings of this sort, as in thousands of instances, are associated with others of a totally diflerent character, the collision is as constant as its effects are deplorable. Nevertheless, such discordant intellects are every day brought into unwilling contact; they jostle onward together in the tedious rounds of business, neither willing to agree, nor contented to forget their causes of difference.

IV. When a single individual fancies that his own singularities are to be respected, whatever may become of the feeling or the principles of others,manywounds are inflicted with a frequency producing constant irritation. Duty to one's self and to bis connexions often requires a silent endurance of such irremediable evils. But in thus sustaining the weight of sorrows alone, or with few to mitigate, and many to increase them, a reflecting mind has abundant evidence of the vanity of the present world. Each day brings fresh disasters, while it diminishes the ability to sustain them. Without experience on tbis subject, it would be deemed impossible for one to live many years in such a state of things, and to remain insensible of the cause of his miseries; or of the urgent necessity of seeking a shelter. One would think, that the unquenchable thirst for repose, existing in a bosom ever tortured by thoagitations of a region like this, could scarcely fail to call his attention to the promises of the Gospel. But it often does fail.

Z. Y.

LETTER FROM A DIRECTOR OF THE AM. EDUCATION SOCIETY.

To the Editor of the Panoplist. SIR,—The review of the third Report of the American Education Society, which appeared in your numbers for April and May, though written, in general, with much capacity and candor, and with a spirit of friendly regard to the interests of the Society, contains a few passages, which seem to require some animadversion.

I have been prevented from sending you these remarks at an earlier day, by circumstances which need not be explained; and the delay is probably of no importance.

The discussion which the review enters into of the second difficulty attending the operations of the Society, as stated by the Directors, exhibits just and comprehensive views of the subject in hand. It deserves to be reprinted in a separate form, and to be studied by every young man who is aided by clarity, in luis preparation for the ministry.

But, taking it for granted that the reviewer is a friend to the Society, there are some other points in which the utility or expediency of his remarks is not so apparent.

One of these is in the following words, alluding to the illiterate preachers among the English Dissenters: “If these are reckoned, it is undoubtedly correct to reckon similar sorts of preachers in our own country. We strongly suspect, that, beside the 2,500 competent clergymen allowed in the Report, there are more than twice that number in the United States, who preach occasionally, if not statedly, who have quite as much title to be called ministers, as the lower classes of

dissenting teachers in England.” Pan. for Ap. p. 157. All this implies that the directors havc, from carelessness, or from an unnatural partiality against their own country, excluded a whole class of ninisiers bere, and “reckoned" the same class in England. But what is their language? Speaking of the whole body of English preachers, both in and out of the establishment, the Report says; If only one half of these were estimated to possess competent qualifications, there would be more than one to one thousand souls." The mentiou of English preachers at all in the Report, was altogether incidental, and only for the purpose of showing that, in the most favorable instances, in an old and populous country, the ratio of one preacher to a thousand souls, is not excessive, Only two sentences of moderate length in the Report, consisting of fifty four pages, contain any allusion to the ministers of England. Surely the Directors are not chargeable with partiality to -the lower classes of dissenting teachers' there, who are expressly laid out of the account, in their estimate.

There is another respect in which the review ascribes to the Directors, at least by implication, very inadequate apprehensions; I mean as to the spiritual qualifications of preachers. I do not suppose the writer designed to make this impression on his readers; but some of his remarks probably bave this tendency. Now this is a point of such vital importance, that no inisapprehension ought to exist for a moment.

There are doubtless men in this country, with whom piety, in any proper acceptation of the word, is overlooked as a requisite of ministerial character. But happily this class is small. The great majority of people, good and bad, think it essential that a preacher of the Gospel should be a pious man. In conformity with this principle, the Aincrican Society was founded, as its title declares, “for educating pious young men for the Gospel ministry.” The same principle is recognised throughout the constitution of the Society, the rules of the Directors, the examination of the beneficiaries, and all other public declarations and acts of the Board. They say, at the commencement of this third Report, that they have endeavored to exact the best evidence which the nature of the case admits, that candidates for this sacred charity shall unite, as their claim to assistance, piety, promising talents, and real indigence.” Throughout the Report, I presume, wherever the qualifications are enumerated which ought to be found in beneficiaries, piety occupies the first rank. This point, indeed, is not made the subject of argument, because it is supposed to be generally taken for granted. But the importance of learning in religious teachers, and the deficiency of such teachers as possess it, in an adequate d: gree, is a subject concerning which the Christian community needs to be instructed and roused, by argument and appalling facts. To accomplish this end, requires estimates. But in making these, it could hardly be necessary for the Directors to say that, not every preacher, nor every learned preacher is, of course, a pious man. Nor would it be very becoming or very practicable to say, numerically, what proportion of the whole number are destitute of picty. On this point, every one must judge for himself. The church is not called upon to confer spiritual qualifications, but to assist in educating those

« AnteriorContinuar »