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No disposition of the human mind is more baneful in its influence and effects than Envy: it may well be termed, “ A miserable Affection (a);" and yet, perhaps, there is no one to which we are naturally more prone ;“ The spirit that is in us lusteth to envy (6).” Superior talents, accomplishments, porsessions, or prospects, excite this temper, and feed it; and it is easily discoverable by expressions which have a tendency to undermine or lessen the reputation, &c. of the objects of it';
an eagerness to discern some defects in them, and a delight to report and aggravate it.
Many arguments might be urged against this temper:the following are deducible from Scripture :
1. It is a work of the flesh (c); and, if reigning, is a proof of unregeneracy (d).
2. It brings its own punishment (e).
3. It is represented as exceeding other sins in its effects (f); and always connected with other sius (3).
4. It is recorded as a principal ingredient in the guilt of those who crucified the Lord of Glory (h).
5. It is a main spring in persecution (i).
6. In the future predicted state of the church, it shall be done away (k).
7. We are expressly commanded to lay it aside (1). 8. It is directly contrary to the spirit of love and the fear of God (m).
Let all, especially professors of godliness, consider this suhject with that attention and seriousness which it demands and deserves. Our conversation too often has a taint of this temper. The prayer which many use every Sabbath, will well suit all :-“ From all Envy, good Lord deliver us!” Westminster.
(a) Spectator, No. XIX.
(6) James iv. s. (c) Gal. v. 21: Rom. i. 29, 1 Cor. iii. 3.
(1) Titus iii. 3: (e) Job v. 2. Isaiah xxvi. 11. Prov. xiv, 30.
() Prov. xxvii. 4. (8) James iii. 16.
(1) Mat. xxvü. 18. Mark XV, 10. (1) Acts v. 17. margin. Acts xiii.
5. (4) Isaiah xi. 136 (0) 1 Pet. ii. i. Rom. xiii. 13. (m) 1 Cor. xiii. 4. Pror, xxii, 17.
THE MISERABLE INFIDEL.
To the Editor. Ir has often been observed, that the greatest degree of error and stupi.
dity concerning moral obligation and duty, and a state of retribution in the world to come, is found in certain persons who have been the subjects of serious impressions, and by long resisting their own con. sciences and the striving of God's Spirit, have provoked him to leave them to their own blindness and lusts. As a warning to others, I have transınitted you the following instance :
A Man who possessed reason and sagacity above the common proportion, and about the age of thirty, fell into such a state of debility as rendered him incapable of much attention to business,
Before this, he had discovered an inordinate attachment to property, and omitted neither diligence, vor art, por parsimony, to obtain it. His state was called llypochondriae by bis neighbours; for a certain reclusoness of temper prevented his communicating to them the distracting feelings of his mind. When he was in this state, I accidentally passed a day in bis company. After a short conversation, I discovered marks of a wounded conscience, and told him my suspicion, that his whole disorder proceeded froin anxiety on spiritual accounts. l'inding I had detected his feelings, he inade a frank acknowledgment it was the case; but solicited that it might remain a secret witii me. He told me of sundry times, in his past life, when, för short seasons, his conscience had continually accused liin. He had seen himself to be a sinner, if there were any truih in the scriptures; and he dreaded an appearance before God, as the most awful of all events; still be could not bear to tbiuk of another kind of life, and of parting with those worldly designs which had governed his past conduci. Ile said he had been many months in this situation; and sometbing continually solved in his ears that he was a simper, that he liust vlie and come to judgment, and without another state of heart, must be miserable; but, added he, “ I cannot part with any worldly schemes. I must again be a man of business; I have just said a foune dation for success; ind if I give way to these apprehensions, there is
is an end of my prospects. This Town to be the cause of all my gloom, and if I could put another world, and my own preparations for it out of sight, I should again be a hipy inan."
I immediately perceived, that although he felt some convietion of the truth, he was contending with one who will prevail. I set before bin the danger of resisting such impressions; the fully of preferring an avaricious life of gain to the immortal
interest of his soul; and the superior wisdom of subordinating all our worldly labours, views, and hopes to our eternal wellbeing. I endeavoured to shew him his true stilte, bis need of another heart, the danger of his being left to a most ruinous blindness, and to eternal inisery. After much solemn conversation, we parted.
Nearly a year from this time, we had another opportunity for free discourse. It was sought by himself, with an evident design to confront and reproach me, for the exhortation I had given him with the most friendly intention. I instantly saw that bis seriousness was departed, and bis conscience seared. By his own account, he continued several months longer in that state of apprehension and resistance to the truth which has been described; when he came to the rash opinion, that the whole of his past feelings were but an hypochondriac gloom; and supported himself by the following argument:-“ You know that bypochondriacism is a false imagination of the mind; and within one weck after I detected my folly in being so anxious for another world, I became well and happy, and have so continued.” He further added, I now think that all the notions I have had concerning the holiness of God, and the rewards of another world, are false. As to sin, it is evident there can be no such thing; nor shall I any more exist after this body dies, than those trees before us will exist hereafter, and be happy or miserable.” But,' replied I, “is it not a gloomy thought, that your existence will cease when your body dies ?' “ As for that,” he answered, " I cannot help it ; and we must make the most of what we have.” I perceived hiin determined not to think, lest it should make him unhappy; and on my solicitously urging him to review the momentous subject, he became peevish, and said I was trying to give myself importance in the world, by all I said concerning religion.
His life, for several years after this, was such as might be erpected from his principles. Riches were his idol. His parsimony preserved him from licentious excess. Honeet men detested the principles by which they saw him to be governed. Hisunprincipled associates were afraid of falling under his power. There was something in his countenance indescribeable, that marked biin for another Cain; and while many, through necessity, resorted to him for assistance, there was not a man on earththat loved bin. Passing over several parts of his conduet, which evidently proceeded from an endeavour to erase from his mind a sense of inoral obligation, of sin, and a state where iinpertinent sinners shall receive a reward according 10 their deeds, I shall now come to his death-bed. A just Providence forbade him a long state of decay, as a scason of admonition and preparation for eternity. He had his call before, and it was rejected. An awful accident in a moment placed
THL MISERABLE INFIDEL.
423 hiin in a hopeless state, and within two days of his exit from this world. This accident, though fatal, did not immediately affect his head; and the powers of reason were in full strength.
Now, behold, the man who exploded moral obligation, denied the existence of sin, deterinined there was no future life, and consequently no punishment for him ; and all this for the sake of gaining and enjoying this world without the molestations of his own conscience. True it is, that, in this awful moment, he was left to a great degree of judicial blindness concerning another world, the nature of hopeful preparation for death, and the just and eternal reward of sin; but misery and dismay rose upon him from a quarter he did not expect. His beloved scheine of ceasing to exist at death, became his terror, " And have I now,” said he,“ done with existence? . Shall I presently cease to think, to see, to feel? Am I to exist but a few moments filled with pain, and then lie down to be nothing for ever? I am pained for the fruits of my labour; — I have laboured for nothing ; – I cannot bid farewell to the earnings of so many years.
On being told, by one who had not known his previous opinions, That he certainly should exist; and that the future being of men was indicated by nature, and made sure by scriptural evidence, an aspect of still greater horror settled on his countenance; and, after a pause of a minute, he replied, “ If those Scriptures are true, eternity will be more dreadful to me than the loss of being. I will not believe them ; yet, how dreadful the idea of sinking into eternal thoughtless night!" This struggle of feeling lasted but a few minutes before this miserable man either sunk into the eternal sleep which he dreaded, or opened his eyes in an eternity to him more dreadful!
Such are the dying comforts of impiety and infidelity. Thus, at last, will the excuses and pleas of irreligion torment those who adopt them in their lives to quiet an accusing conscience, and resist the warnings of the Holy Spirit, who strives bith men. This is a fearful example of that blindness into which many are left judicially to fall, thro'grieving the Spirit of grace.
To this striking Narrative, we beg leave to add the following im
pressive Passage from a Sermon, on 2 Pet. ü. 11, delivered by the Rev. Mr. Mason, of New York, when in London, and communicated by a friend who heard it:
But there are men who set up for wise mèn: they have discovered the imposture, they bave found out the cheat'; they wish to unshackle you, - they would release you from your thraldom. From your thraldom! What, from the thraldom of a hope of the everlasting kingdom? Do you wish to be
released from such thraldoin? God have mercy on you if yote do! Have they aught to give in coinpromise ? Can they tell us what awaits beyond that grave? No; if they think at all, it is darkness, uncertaints, and dread conjecture. The laugh of a fool is a miserable exchange for an eternal hope. Why, crucl philosopher, would you take away the joy of my hcart? Why would you rempit me to the melancholy thought of no paternal providence, no redeeming love? Enjoy your guilt alone ; - breathe out your complaints to the woods and to the rocks;
- curse not me with your discoveries, nor kill me with your truths. Oh, comfortless fleavens! Oh, melancholy earth! Oh, gloomy world! Oh, wretched nature ! without the prospect of an entrance into the Master's kingdom. How loud the winds howl! How Joud the waves roar! How cruel the storm! Tossed hither and thither by the tempest, directed by no pilot, but where Lethe flows, where the black river of Oblivion rolls! Oh! no, no, no, not upon such terms. Keep your discoveries :
- we won't give up our hope of “ an entrance into the kingdom ;” and we will press closer to our. hearts the precious volume which reveals it to us. This is the anchor of our souls."
For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek, from goneration to generation.
Exodus xvii. 16. Saorin says *, That the llebrew of this text is equivocal : le signifies literally, “ because of the hand on the throne of God, war of God against Amalek from generation to generation :" and froir Patrick, he observes, That it is pretended that, in some countries, to put the hand upon the throne was a ceremony that attended a solemn oath; as laying it on the altar was in otlier places. This wits as inueh as our laying the hand on the Bible: a principal external character of an oath. Whence Juvenal savs, Atheists du intrepidos altaria tangere, touch the altars holelly without treinbling t; that is, inake no conserence of an oath.
Etening, and Morning, and at Noon, will I pray.
pray. - Ps.lv. 17 The frequency and the particular seasons of prayer are circumstances chielly connected with the situation and disposition of such persons as habituate themselves to this exercise; but from a singular conformity of practice, in persons remote,
* Dissertations, vol. i. p. 333.
of Sat. xiii. v. 8.