Imágenes de páginas

able to turn the heart of the most obstinate sinner to himself; and that he has not bound himself, by any law of nature, from interposing to put an effectual stop to the dominion of sin, or from affecting the will itself, however corrupt it may be, &c.

The doctrine of the true grace of God is indeed very búmiliating. It implies that men have so deserved God's displeasure, that it requires a sacrifice of infinite value to render their salvation compatible with the divine glory, and the good of God's universal empire. And it implies men are such wicked enemies to God, that they never would come back to him of their own accord, even if he would give them leave ; nay, they would not regard the authority of his command, or the kindness of his invitations, if he charged or besought them to be reconciled, and yet did not influence their wills to obey. It implies the inability of sinners to save themselves, and their utterly inexcusable aversion to God's salvation. It cuts off all room for boasting, and obliges them that are saved, to own themselves infinitely indebted to grace. But all this is as it should be.

At the same time, it administers strong consolation to every one who is willing to be indebted to grace alone for salvation; and is the only system which can do so, to those who understand the law of God, the evil of sin, and their own un. worthiness, guilt, and depravity.

Meanwhile, it has the most holy and sanctifying tendency, teaching us that we are debtors, not to the flesh, that we should live after the flesh, but eternally, infinitely indebted to God and grace. Amen.



AN is designed by his all-wise Creator to derive a con

siderable part of his most refined' pleasure from intercourse with the rest of the human species. Without society he would linger and pine away in the most luxuriant country, and in the possession of all the wealth of both the Indies. His powers are formed equally to communicate and to receive advantages from the company and conversation of men, whose dispositions and pursuits are congenial with his own. His mind is gratified in the performance of little pleasing offices towards his fellow-creatures; and he enjoys a return of kindness with peculiar emotions of delight. His feeling heart 3 $ 2


glows with affection at the sight of a friend, and the hours glide away insensibly in reciprocal ideas and delights. Thus has our Maker consulted our felicity in our constitution, and rendered us capable of those refined endearments and exalted pleasures, which arise not from sensation only, which is common to man with the brute creation; but more especially from the union of understanding, and from the mutual exercises and feelings which constitute the excellency of the human mind.

He, who has made us what we are, knows best what will satisfy and make us happy. Hear him saying concerning his new formed creature, It is not good that man should be alone. Every animal has his mate, but Adam alone is single and desolate; he is made in the image of God; his powers are an humble imitation of the mosi exalted perfections of Deity. Lovely creature ! are not thine inward beauties, thy holiness, and the rectitude of thy moral powers enough to solace thy soul without intercourse with any more of mortal kind ? Canst thou not bend thy thoughts to philosophy, or soar in thine affections to heaven, and be happy without the inconvenience of opposite tempers and opposite inclinations ? No, it is not good that man should be alone. The materials of which he is made require correspondence with creatures of the same rank; and the affections of his soul, like the ivy which twines about the tree, are most vigorous and pleasant when they are placed on a proper object, and meet with a suitable return.

Men being thus constituted, it is natural to suppose that societies were formed for various purposes, as soon as they began to be multiplied on the face of the earth. Several instances occur in the earliest ages of the world. It is pleasing to reflect that the first was for the noble purpose of religious devotion. Heretofore the head of a family had been a priest in his own house ; but in the days of Seth, men began in pube lic bodies to call on the name of the Lord. Happy prelude of future piety, when the first assemblies of men were met together for divine worship! A regard to the service of God is thought by some to be the primary essential difference between the rational and irrational creatures. No country, however rude and barbarous, is destitute of some regard to the worship of a superior Being. In the instance already related, we see the peculiar power and goodness of God which inclined their hearts io that kind of society which is both the model of every thing human in that way, and a blessed anticipation of the general assembly and church of the first-born in Heaven.

Direelly Directly opposite to this, both in its designs and effects, was the chimerical scheme formed by the sons of Noah, to build a tower in the plains of Shinar, whose lofty top should prop the sky. Vain attempt! foolish imagination ! Can any union among men frustrate the design of God, or hinder his judgments from the world? Their tongues are divided, their scheme is defeated, and thus they become the Babel, or vain society.

Indeed we need not confine ourselves to the human race for examples of inclination to sociality. These are of the highest rank of society, but they are far from being the only one. Societies are formed among all the creatures of God, from the highest to the lowest orders. The finny tribes of the great and wide sea ; the different species of animals upon earth ; the fowls of the air; and even the inhabitants of the celestial world; are all'attached to beings of the same species and rank with themselves. These are all in companies of various descriptions, and observant of their own particular laws. Hence are the terms applicable to each ; shoals of fishes, flocks of sheep, herds of cattle, and hosts of heaven. The natural philosophy of the Bible is concise and beautiful, There are four things which are little upon earth when compared with many others ; but they are exceeding wise in the laws of society. The ants are not strong, yet they provide meat in the summer. The conies are a feeble people, but their wisdom is great, being skilled particularly in architecture, for they build houses in the rock. The locusts have no king to give them laws, and yet they go forth ia bands. Instances of this kind might be multiplied.

The sorts of society which exist among men are various, as well as the purposes for which they are formed. Among the foremost of these we reckon those that are religious, and generally obtain the name of churches, in allusion to the assemblies of the Greeks, which were called together by public notification. A Christian church is the most sacred and respectable society upon earth, and perhaps the best imitation of that in heaven. The necessities of men have promoted many more, which are in various degrees of utility and respect. Among those of the highest rank, we beg leave to mention the Parliament of Great Britain. This is the flower of our nation, the illustrious seat of wisdom, the guardian of our privileges, and the origin of our laws. To this grand society, the senate of the nation, we look up with deference, and for them we ardently wish the divine Nirection and blessing,


Besides this, our kingdom boasts of many more. There is the Royal Society, instituted by Charles the Second, to which philosophy is indebted for many useful improvements. Agriculture is the grand source of wealth to a nation, and, therefore, that corporated body which promotes the productions of the earth by honours and rewards, is worthy of peculiar respect.

Let us reflect on the amazing improvements which have obtained in societies, and their great utility from their first commencement to this day. Rustic ignorance and savage barbarity marked the untutored hordes of former times. Van rious paintings on the flesh, with antics and gesticulations of different kinds, and dexterously performed, were the highest improvements of the earlier ages of the world, and especially in our kingdom, and among our ancestors. Men had not learned the strength of their own powers, nor did they know how to apply them to the ease and ornament of life. But the lamp of life begins to burn brighter. The Plienicians and Chinese lead the way in useful arts and sciences. These men, like the rising sun, from that part of the world where they reside, enlighten the other parts of the universe. From thence philosophy, refinement, and intellectual pleasures found their way into Egypt, where they were consi. derably cultivated and improved. Being so far on their way, they more easily reached the little, but illustrious states of Greece, by means of Pythagoras and his cotemporaries, who travelled into distant parts in search of wisdom. This proved a luxuriant soil, where science, being once planted, grew to perfection. When the Greeks and Romans became acquainted by the inroads of the latter, learning was introduced into Italy, and with all the softness of pleasure and delight; and may we not add too, of degeneracy and vice ? Julius Cæsar came from home to Great Britain ; and though our ancestors had reason to complain of his encroachments, yet their posterity have profited by the inyasion. The heptarchy gave way to a more effective form of government: The arts and sciences flourished under the sunshine of royal favour; trade introduced wealth ; wealth promoted refined sociality; and this century has been remarkable for societies of various descriptions.

Whatever bad effects may proceed from general assemblages of men in their present depraved state, it must be allowed that the benefits, on the other hand, are not a few. Passing by the partial effects of the improvement and satisfac103 of individuais, we are happy, in this case, that we are


able to point out very great and lasting monuments of public utility to mankind in our own kingdom.

Men of a generous spirit have availed themselves of social influence in our different towns and cities, to bring about the most noble designs. To enumerate all the beneficial institutions for public good in this kingdom, would make a catalogue. Our asylums, our hospitals, dispensaries, and infirmaries, have increased with our wealth. Misery and wretchedness meet a ready relief in every possible shape; and the generous hearts of Britons flow with the warmest philanthropy. Nor need we stop here. View the temples raised in every town to the honour of the God of Israel. Noble projects are also before associated bodies---even the felicity of their fellow-men, and the salvation of the ends of the earth. Prayers arise from Christian hearts, and strangers join their fervent spirit. Sermons awake the public attention ; and missionaries plow the main to foreign countries with messages of love and peace.



Nevil's-court, Sept. 7, 1796. REV. AND DEAR SIR, YESTERDAY we had our usual monthly-meeting of the

Brethren's Society for the furtherance of the Gospel ainong the Heathen ; at which I delivered the kind donation you transmitted to me in the name of the Trustees of the profits of the Evangelical Magazine, towards the support of the Brethren's missions. It was received by the Society with humble thanks ; more especially, as we are not unacquainted with the many objects to which your charity extends ; and I was commissioned to express to you, and your fellow-labourers, in the most affectionate manner, how much we consider ourselves indebted to you for this proof of your liberality, in taking the case of the Brethren's missions among the heathen into your kind consideration.

We have, for these many years past, been led to thank and praise the Lord, that he has increased the number of his servants and witnesses, and so abundantly blessed the presche ing of the Gospel in this country, that many thousands, though called by various names, unite to love and serve him, and form before him one Christian church. That candid desire of affording mutual assistance, which, particularly of late,


« AnteriorContinuar »