Imágenes de páginas


But ask him for that money, which he allows to be both perishable and dangerous, and wbich lie knows must be relinquished in a few years, and he discovers an ardent attachment to it. How is tbis to be explained? For my part, the inconsistent conduct of professors of religion is the greatest stumbling block in my way. If I saw all, who advocate religion by word and profession, exemplify it by their conduct; if they renounced selfishness, and followed up their own arguments by their own doings, I should be more convinced, than I now am, of the reality of religion.” How many such speeches as the foregoing are made every year, and with what reason, the observing Christian will judge.

But it is not to the unfavorable comparisons of worldly men alone, that the cause of truth and righteousness is exposed by the selfish and niggardly examples of some professed Christians. Many of their brethren, members of the same church, are pained and mortified, and grieved, beyond expression or conception, by the dishonor, which is thus brought upon the very naine of religion. They bewail it in private, and do not attempt to conceal it in public.

What are the remedies of so great an evil? What can ministers and their churches do to convince this sort of transgressors,and reclaim them from their errors? A few brief suggestions will here be offered.

1. Let there be a full exhibition of the duty of Christians, in regard to the use and management of their property. Let this exhibition be made from the pulpit, in the religious conference, in the social circle, and in the intimacy of the most privaic and secluded friendship, Let it be made with all that clearness, frequency, ani pathos, which the Scriptures every where exhibit on this subject. Let it be made in the family, so that children at an early age may become familiar with the claims, which religion imposes upon their time, their earnings and their income. Let it be made, not with a view to inortify individuals, but with such an application, as no person can escape from, and with a view to prevent endless mortification and regret.

It is manisest, that sufficient pains have not been taken to bring home the various duties of active beneficence to the consciences of all mer. It is time to insist more upon these duties, and to press them with a cogency, which no apatliy or stupidity can altogether resist. They are so evidently sanctioned by Scripture, as well as by reason and common sense, and so plainly opposed by selfishness only, that, when fairly exhibited, they will rarely l'ail to produce some effect.

2. When Christians see their brethren contracting habits of cove etousness, they should expostulate in private against an evil so alarming in its nature, and so destructive of all spiritual enjoyment. However the men of the world may object to any thing like a supervision of their conduct, it is manifestly the duty of Christians to watch over each other with unsleeping vigilance. This duty is inculcated, in many striking and forcible ways, by Moses, the prophets, our Savior, and the apostles. If discharged with fidelity, kindness, and prudence, it will not bring about the desired result. Nothing like a rude interference with the concerns of others is here recommended; nothing like an authoritative lording it over the conscience; but a mild and brotherly habit of advice, admonition, and mutual correction, among those, who are acquainted with cach other's circumstances, and know how to gain access to each other's hearts. There is much loss difli. culty, than is usually apprehended, in discharging this sort of fidelity, provided the desire of doing good is strong and operative in the soul, and a deep interest is felt in the welfare of Christian brethren. To perform the office of a genuine friend and a faithful brother, according to the rules and spirit of the New Testament, requires only a common share of prudence and judgment, united with ardent love and chastened zeal. A person, who possesses these qualifications, will see the pro: priety and necessity of applying his monitory efforts to those, with whose characters, circumstances, and habits of life, he is in some good degree acquainted. Almost all men lave associates; and most men have a considerable number sustaining this relation to them. It is obvious, therefore, that, in order to give an admonition with effect, it should be imparted by some one, whose intimacy, or acquaintance, makes it peculiarly his duty. Let it not, however, be neglected, on the plea, that somebody else may do it. When plainly demanded at the hand of some person, let all, who see the necessity, inquire, each one for hiinself, "Is it not my duty to inforin that brother of his fault and his danger? Can I not admonish him in love, and with a rational prospect of success? How shall I satisfy my conscience, unless I make the attempt, or know that it is made faithfully by somebody else?"

3. Covetousness, undeniable covetousness, should subject the offender to church discipline. This will scarcely be doubted by any one, who remembers, that this offence is classed by our Savior and the apostles, with the most atrocious and infamous crimes. It will be asked, perhaps, "Who shall define covetousness? Who can arrogate to himself the right of making his conscience a rule for others?” But, although it inay not be easy to fix a precise point, at which economy and frugality begin to degenerate into. parsimony, it is not difficult to des. cribe and to identify cases of unquestionable covetousness. There are men, who have obtained, and preserved through a long course of years, a character as notorious for covetousness, as was ever obtained by a sot, in consequence of habitual drunkenness. Happy would it be for religion, if none of its professors were notorious for pinching, grind. ing, grasping avarice. Let these cases of undoubted criminality be singled out; let a few examples be made; and the churches and the Gause of truth would have occasion to rejoice.

A. B.

For the Panoplist. ON THE RULE OF HUMAN DUTY.

Man is a moral agent. From this we infer, that there is instituted for him some rule of moral rectitude. Such a rule, commonly called the moral law, God has established.

This law is comprehended in the two great commandments, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself.”

This standard of human conduct bas its foundation in the divine perfections. Like them it is immutable. The very idea of a rule of right involves invariable, universal, eternal, and perpetual obligation,

All men, therefore, and all the inhabitants of God's moral kingdom, are under unchanging and everlasting obligation to love God with all :licart, and thus to l'ender perfect obedience to his law.

But men have sought out many inventions.'

Some take the purposes of God for the rule of duty. If this be the standard, we have no right to perform a single action, till the purpose of God is known respecting it. Thus, in most cases, we are without a guide, involved in obscurity thicker than Egyptian darkness.

The law is not thus obscure. It ever lives, and ever shines, 'wherever the voice of man is heard or his foot-steps seen;' and if we conform to its requisitions, God will accomplish his purposes.

Others think, that the law is a rule of duty to all holy beings, but not to us, imperfect creatures. But the Bible no where intimates, that the claims of the law are diminished in consequence of human dcpravity. A sentiment like this, would set up a perverse inclination, as the role of duty, and open thus wide all the flood-gates of iniquity.

Again, it is urged, that the Gospel has introduced a milder dispensation; and especially, that believers are not under the law.

Believers are indeed exempt from the law, as a rule of justification. Tbey are also freed from its curse, "Christ being made a curse for them.” But the law is still their guide. They are delivered from its condemning, but not from its commanding, power. Is not the criminal, from whom the sentence of death has been averted, through the mercy of his sovereign, still a subject, and under obligations to obey the laws of his sovereign? Are not bis obligations to obedience increased?

If the law has no control over the believer, his violation of it involves no criminality. But is not the sentiment absurd, that a man, as an unbeliever, is to-day under the authority of a law, which pronounces certain actions to be sins, but becoming a believer to-morrow, be is freed from the authority of that law, and the same actions, if repeated, are no longer sins?

The plain doctrine of Scripture-is, that Christ, in annulling the law as a ground of justifying righteousness, bas ratified it, in all its purity and extent, and confirmed it, as the great law of rectitude in that spiritual kingdom, which he has established in the world, and of which he is the merciful and righteous sovereign.

If the law has been abated, when was the abatement made? It was not abated at the apostasy of Adam; for more than two thousand years after that event, perfect obedience was demanded. It was not abated at the introduction of the Gospel; for Christ taught his disciples in the strongest manner, that He came to magnify the law, and make it honorable.” And Paul always preached, that the Christian scheme of salvation, instead of making void, establishes the law.”

Jf the law has been abated, in what particular, or in what degree, has it been abated?

Our duty to God is now, "to love him with all the heart.” Our duty to our neighbor is, to love him as ourselves." The internal part of our duty now is, to surrender the whole heart; the external part is, “to be holy in all manner of conversation, as he, that hath called us, is holy.” And more than all this was never required.

The moral law, therefore, is the rule of human daty. This law is holy, just, and good. Let every one bind it continually to his heart." - When he goes, it shall lead him; when he sleeps, it shall keep him; when be awakes, it shall talks with him."

“For the commandment is a lamp, and the int is light.”

[ocr errors]

For the Panoplist.

An elegant writer, comparing buman life to a voyage, has remarked, that "the passions are the winds, which fill the sails of the vessel; that they indeed sink hier sometimes, but without thein she could not pursue her coursc.” Without minutely examining the correctness of the comparison, or the justness of its application to the different periods of our pilgrimage, I notice the perverse ose man makes of these faculties or affections, which God bestowed for the noblest purposes. In a great proportion of instances, in which the Creator has given extraordinary capacities for acquiring knowledge, and the most lively sensibilities for receiving grand impressions from his works, the possessor of these distinguished gifts either destroys them by a flagitious use, or debases them in the vile service of sinful pleasures

By employing the mind in some unfavorable methods, its powers are enervated, or lost. The least acquaintance with one's self, will enable him to advert to instances, in which distracting occupations have in some degree enføbled the intellect. Frequent repetition of such Jabors will so far reduce its strength, as to render comparatively useless an individual once capable of the greatest efforts of the human understanding. But if certain modes of thinking are eminently hostile to intellectual advance, inactivity is little less hurtful. A life spent without reflection, or any endeavor to obtain materials of thought, possesses no decided advantage beyond one, in which the operations are of an unfavorable nature. Existence, with men of this description, is dozed away, ratber than enjoyed or used. They hardly know the satisfactions of intense application well directed, and the standard of their mental operations is little above that of the brutes.

There is another sort of men of a widely different character. It cannot be charged on them, that they neglect the cultivation of the understanding. On the contrary, they apply their utmost endeavors to the expansion of the intellect. Their attention to science is extreme, and some of them, it is to be feared, worship their favorite pursuits, with not only the most extravagant enthusiasm, but even with an idolatrous devotion. But to their Maker and Preserver, their conduct speaks a language similar to that of the impious monarch of Egypt. Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice? Or if they at all acknowledge any allegiance to the Supreme Ruler, it is with a cold and reluctant compliance, as if they imagined themselves conferring a special favor on God by assenting to the fact that he exists. Should they, however, go further, and allow the Scriptures, as they claim to be, the unalterable statutes of Jehovah, nevertheless, they take little notice of their contents, flatter themselves that the cause of Christianity is greatly indebted to them, if perhaps they occasionally attend its external ordinances. They appear to have no conception of their accountability to God, their condition as subjects of his moral government, or their need of pardon through the merits and intercession of a Savior. With them, most emphatically, “reason is the helm, and passion the gale," by which they are directed and impelled.

Men of this description are forward to censure the plans, and ridicule the operations, of others. If a scheme for doing good is proposed to them, they rarely give it a fair examination; as they so intuitively see its defects, and their excessive sensibility so instantly revolts from some of its ungracious features, it generally meets their opposition; if its merits are strongly urged on their consideration, and their duty to afford it some assistance is clearly shown, those, who undertake the thankless office of laying such claims before them, must expect to be numbered among their enemies.

It is a most humiliating reflection, that many examples of the greatest powers ever bestowed on men, have been found on the side of positive irreligion. Not to touch the history of past ages, several individaals among our cotemporaries could be named, who have nearly monopolized the attention of the world for years, and have, during all that time, been intensely engaged in spreading misery and widening the march of desolation.

N. P.


Every one, who looks back on the days of childhood, has sometimes regretted that the artless joys of that period can never return. Even those that have early and often tasted of the cup of affliction, nevertheless, can bring afresh to recollection the images of many delights, which, in the gay morning of life, either excluded sorrow, or extract. ed its sting. That these pleasures were substantial, nobody pretends; how far they were grounded in truth, or how many of them arose from the nature of their object, it is not worth while here to inquire. But I think few men will be found to deny, at least, as far as the present world only is considered, that the early dawn was really happier than any other portion of the day.

All men, in reviewing the ground which they have passed, experi. ence mingled emotions of pleasure and pain; but I think that the far greater number find, that as memory revives past impressions, and places the early occupations of the mind again before them, the numberless accusations which follow the story of follies and neglected opportunities, and the many sentences of condemnation we are obliged to pass on ourselves, render the examination of departed hours an irksome task. It is in fact so unwelcome to our feelings, that most persons choose to remain ignorant of their own history. To show that this is contrary to the commands and the spirit of the Gospel, no explanation can be wanting.

In this short paper, I notice two or three causes of the superior brilliance of youthful prospects, and of the increasing clouds which spread a deepened gloom on the succeeding stages of our toilsome journey.

1. Ignorance of the troubles of life. If our sensibilities alone were to be consulted, it would be more safe to leave a dangerous object unexplored, than to force an acquaintance at the expense of mortification. Were the safety of the soul taken into the account, a being, who could foresee the dangers that beset his path, and the power of temptations, would rather shun than court such a laborious warfare, in which his

« AnteriorContinuar »