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already referred to, of a very pleasing and encouraging character, in our own kingdom, it is a fact, founded on indubitable testimony, that the other quarters of the globe shew a very decided improvement in morals and religion, when compared with their condition in those respects at no great distance of time. The accounts from the East Indies, furnished by missionaries and others, inform us, that a most important and universal change for the better has been effected there, within thirty years, in the moral state of society, by the translation and circulation of the Scriptures, and religious tracts, and by preaching and conversation; through which means many have been converted to God. In the West Indies, also, there has been great good done among the immense population of poor, perishing, enslaved negroes. They flock, it is said, in vast multitudes, with eagerness and joy to hear the Gospel, and very many have been converted and saved. Accounts by different missionaries from most of those Islands have been highly gratifying and animating. An extraordinary and extensive moral change also has been wrought, in the large population of the South Sea Islands, whose inhabitants have been turned from dumb idols to serve the living God; and hence the entire habits, character, and condition of large and populous districts are wonderfully improved. Besides the good which has been done, and is now doing in Africa, the astonishing revivals and extraordinary grace which has been experienced in the American churches, might be mentioned. Upwards of ten thousand members have been added to their different religious societies in one year. Who can witness such accessions to the cause of truth and righte
ousness, and not exclaim, “this is
* With the exception of America, it is worthy of notice that all the moral and religious improvements which have, through the divine blessing, been effected in the different quarters of the globe, have emanated exclusively from Britain – a hopeful proof this, that with all her moral defects and deadness, she is not, in religious exertion, totally barren and blasted. We had almost forgotten to mention the indubitable proofs which are given of this in the very extensive and still increasing exertions which are now in successful progress in the sister kingdom. If dormant souls in England see it not, Ireland will rise from her too long continued moral degradation, ard say, Blessed be God for British Christians' gratefully hailing an emancipation from the dreadful shackles of sin and death.
ther being immoderately depressed on the one hand, nor improperly elated on the other, we “thank God and take courage.” Hackney, 1827.
PAST or AL SKETCHES. No. IV.
No feature in the character of the Lord Jesus was more striking, than his constant affection for the souls of men. Howardently did he desire their salvation; how faithfully did he warn them of their danger; and with what fervent love did he invite them to the paths of happimess! And when the messages of his mercy were disregarded, when his admonitions were slighted, and when sinners chose rather to walk in the paths of perdition than to enter his fold, how would he retire from the crowd to vent his sorrows in secret, over the pride and depravity of their hearts | In these respects, the Christian Pastor resembles “the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls.” He comes forth from his study, where he has just held intercourse with his great Master, bearing a “burden” of instruction for his people; of mercy for the penitent, and of threatenings for the obdurate rebel against God. There is no object lies so near his heart, as the salvation of his charge; no desire exists in his breast, so lively as that of presenting every man perfect before the presence of God in the last great day of account. The death of an impenitent sinner from under his ministry, is a matter of the deepest concern to the true servant of Jesus. He weeps lest his departed hearer should have to charge him with being unfaithful, and he grieves over the gloomy prospect that presents itself to the man who departs from the world
in a state of opposition to God. Let such of my readers, who have sat for years enjoying the privileges of the gospel, without believing in Christ, be assured that their condemnation will be awfully heightened, by the recollection of the blessings with which they were indulged. As the servants of the Lord Jesus are so intent on the present and future happiness of their hearers, it must be a source of grief to them, when they seem to labour for a lengthened period without apparent success. Such men have sometimes doubted whether they have been called to the work of the ministry: some of them have suffered greatly from their depression of spirits, and some in despair of success, have even retired from the work in which they had engaged. It would, however, be desirable for Ministers to recollect that it is very seldom, if ever, that they know the full extent of their usefulness in the present state. Many an individual hears the gospel, believes it, and slips out of the world to enjoy its future blessings, altogether unknown to him by whose means he “tasted that the Lord is gracious.” And how often has it been the case that, many years after a minister has sown the good seed of the kingdom, it has sprung up and borne fruit where he least expected to find it. With a view of imparting encouragement to such of my honoured brethren who may be discouraged for want of success, I beg permission to relate a few facts. The first I received a few days ago from a respectable minister of our Denomination; for the correctness of the others I am myself answerable. Forty years ago, or more, an excellent man, who had long been pastor of one of our oldest churches, was brought to the closing scene of life. He had long been grieving over his apparent uselessness in the church of Christ, and when seized with the illness which removed him from life, the impression of regret was deepened; and as he approached nearer to eternity he became increasingly affected with the thought that for a considerable time past he had been of no use; the thought planted thorns in his pillow, and embittered his dying moments. At this time a church meeting was held, and two persons unexpectedly came forward to solicit communion with these followers of the Redeemer. They gave a satisfactory statement of the Divine dealings with their souls, and ascribed their conversion to God to the instrumentality of the dying pastor. One of the deacons hastened to the departing saint, and never was an angel of mercy more welcome; he came on purpose to administer the balm of consolation, and to assure the good old man that his recent labours were not in vain. The venerable saint listened to the statement with holy joy beaming in his countenance, and adopting the words of Simeon he exclaimed, “Now Lord lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation,” and gathering up his feet into the bed, departed to another state, where he has since hailed some to whom he was a spiritual father. It is now perhaps fifteen years ago, that I knew a venerable man who had travelled as a pilgrim more than fourscore years in “this present evil world,” a very large majority of which had been spent in the service of God. I was but a youth, but I remember his veneable and apostolic appearance, his ardent piety, his earnest prayers,
and his simple but engaging sermons. I can almost imagine that I see the worthy little man pleading with God for sinners, or pleading with sinners for God; I seem to hear him ascribing every excellence to Jesus, and beseeching sinners to embrace the message of his merey ; I can almost imagine myself now hearing him preach his last sermon founded on the solemn enquiry, “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” Such was almost his dying enquiry, for in a few days he was numbered with the silent dead. But my regard for the holy saint who long honoured the gospel, and whose name is fragrant in the Midland Counties of England, though no stone marks his last dwelling, nor memoir hands down his name to future generations, has led me from the subject of my paper. For a considerable period before the death of this holy man, he had greatly lamented that he knew of no good he was doing, and seemed desirous that his great Master should call him from labour to rest. The desire of his heart was granted, but the principle on which it was founded was a mistaken one. What the extent of his usefulness in the closing months of his life really was, I have now no means of knowing, but very shortly after his death six persons were added to the church, all of whom were the fruits of his ministry in the last year of his life, but of their conversion he knew nothing while in this lower state. I may, perhaps, be allowed to state one fact more, and I will close. It is a fact of no extraordinary occurrence: the minister most interested in it, has met with others not dissimilar, but I only mention one. A minister, now living, was called to supply the pulpit of a friend since removed to his rest. One sabbath, during the morning and afternoon services, he suffered very greatly from depression of spirits, occasioned by reviewing the discouragements attendant on the Christian Ministry. It was with considerable difficulty he could fulfil his public engagements, and he looked forward to the duties of the evening with feelings known to ministers, but an idea of which cannot be communicated to others. A prison seemed to him preferable to a pulpit, and he was ready to exclaim “Miy soul chooseth strangling rather than life.” He retired from the house of God to tea; his friends would have administered relief to a mind burdened by distress, but they could not understand the nature of its malady; and ease from the burden he bore was only to be found in private. After tea he retired from his friends, burst into a flood of tears, poured out his heart before the Lord, and in some happy degree felt composure of mind. With a heart solemnly impressed, a spirit more than usually devotional, and with an ardent desire for the salvation of sinners, he addressed a large and deeply attentive auditory. The subject was the meeting between Jesus and those who have listened to his gospel at the last day. It was a season interesting to the preacher, and appeared little less so to his hearers. The preacher's engagement expired, and he left the neighbourhood; years rolled along, and though he could not forget the the service, he knew of no benefit which had followed it: at length he received a communication from the estimable minister, who in the mean time had become the pastor of the church; and this interesting letter stated the pleasing fact that on the evening to which we have referred, a sinner had been called
from transgression to holiness, and had afforded joy to the inhabitants of heaven. The letter was doubly valuable, for it came at a period when mental depression had almost led to an abandonment of the ministry. I shall leave to my readers the task of deriving lessons of improvement from this statement of facts. I hope it will lead them to pray for the success of their pastors, to encourage them in all their labours of love, and to support that cause which needs more than human aid to extend it in the world. B.
The MARchi of INTellect. A GENTLEMAN of landed property in the county of S. being lately on the outside of a stage-coach, had sworn several oaths within a few minutes after he had taken his seat. Addressing a dissenting minister, a stranger to him, he remarked, “We hear, Sir, a great deal said about “the march of Intellect:’ are you, Sir, a believer in the march of Intellect? I believe, Sir, these S– clodhoppers know nothing of the march of Intellect.” The minister replied, “I have observed Sir, that there is not so much profane swearing among the peasantry as there used to be. I consider that one decisive proof of their intellectual improvement.” The gentleman appeared as if he felt the reproof, but had too much good sense to manifest any displeasure. In his subsequent conversation, which proved him to be an intellectual person of high order, he shewed himself capable of going forward in the march of improvement, as he swore no more during the fifty miles' journey. What Christian will not adopt the prayer of the Psalmist in reference to profane swearing, “O let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the just." PURIT AN.