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suspecting that they are singular and unparalleled; and thus from sinking into despondency, and indulging a spirit of complaint; “ knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”
3. He is at leisure to [attend] to the instructions which afflictions contain, to learn those important lessons which they are best adapted to teach. Affliction is a school where we cannot learn, unless we, in some degree, possess our souls in patience. “ Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.” “ And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years."*
4. He who possesses his soul in patience, is able to perform many important duties while in a state of suffering. It is not a barren season to him. “ Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass." + Much cultivation of the heart, much internal spiritual discipline, may then be exercised.
5. He who thus possesses patience is at liberty to reach the promises of God, to open his mind to
* Deut. viii. 3, 4, 5. † Isaiah xxxii. 20.
the consolations of the gospel. He can reason with his soul —" Why art thou so cast down, O my soul ?”
6. While in patience we possess our souls, we can expatiate in the views of future blessedness.
ON CANDOUR AND LIBERALITY, AS EVINCED IN
PROMOTING THE ERECTION OF PLACES OF WORSHIP.
LUKE vii. 5. — He loveth our nation, and he hath built us a
It is pleasing and instructive to behold in the narratives of scripture, frequent instances of the triumphs of divine grace over obstacles utterly insurmountable to any inferior power, and even
* The sermon, of which the brief notes are here presented, was the last, except one, that Mr. Hall preached; though the notes seem to have been prepared for a former occasion. It was delivered on the morning of February 27, 1831, the Sunday previous to the attack which terminated in death. The students in the Bristol Education Society (an institution devoted to the preparation of young men for the ministry in the Baptist persuasion) had long been in the habit of preaching in various very small places, in the more populous and wretched quarters of the city of Bristol ; and, their labours being found productive of much good, it was judged expedient to erect a place of worship, which might not only contain the several small companies thus assembled, but accommodate others that might be induced to attend. A considerable sum of money was, accordingly, raised for this purpose : the building was commenced; and in order to contribute towards the remainder of the expense, it was proposed to make a collection in Broadmead chapel. Mr. Hall very warmly seconded the project, and recommended it, with great earnestness, after his morning sermon. In the evening he preached a very impressive and splendid discourse on the text“ Take heed, and beware of covetousness," of which he does not appear to have prepared any notes. This subject he meant to apply to the case of the new place of worship; but an exceedingly heavy rain occasioning a comparatively small congregation, he stated, towards the conclusion of the sermon, that it would not be doing justice to a cause in which he felt so lively an interest, to make the collection while so few persons were present; and proposed to defer it, therefore, to a future occasion. But, alas! this was the close of his public services : and they, who had so often seen his countenance beaming with intellect, benevolence, and piety, and listened to his voice with inexpressible delight and many of them with permanent benefit, saw and heard him no more !--Ep.
striking examples of transcendent piety, where, considering the actual state of human nature, it was least to be expected. In these instances is verified the truth of our Lord's observation, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
We learn that no combination of external circumstances; no profession or situation in life, however beset with temptation; no education, however unfavourable to the production of piety, ought to make us despair of attaining salvation.
Are the habits of military life peculiarly hostile to piety, and is it difficult, in connexion with these, to maintain that humility, sobriety, and heavenly mindedness, which are so essential to religion ? Our text exhibits, notwithstanding, a most eminent saint in the person of a centurion. Is a neglected, or what is still worse, a perverted education, a great obstacle in the way of salvation; an education
from which religion has been entirely excluded, or religious principles inculcated, the most fatal and erroneous ? Behold an instance of unparalleled devotion and faith in a Roman centurion, a heathen by birth, and, as there is every reason to conclude, trained up in the practice of idolatry from his earliest infancy. Is the possession of authority apt to intoxicate man with pride, and especially in proportion as that authority is arbitrary and despotic? We have here, in a Roman officer, a pattern of the deepest humility. Having occasion to apply to our Lord for the cure of his servant, he would not admit of his giving himself the trouble of coming in person, from a conviction that it was unnecessary, and that he was undeserving of such honour. Finally, are mankind apt to be ill affected to each other on account of difference of national character, and the opposition which [exists in their religion]? The opposition, in this respect, betwixt the Romans and the Jews, was as great as can well be imagined. The Romans were devoted to idolatry, and looked upon the Jews, who refused to join in the worship of idols, as a sort of atheists; they hated them for their singularity and their supposed unnatural antipathy to all other nations; and, at this time, despised them as a conquered people. The centurion, though he had been nursed in these prejudices, and was now, by very profession, employed in maintaining the Roman authority over Judea, yet“ loved the Jewish nation, built them a
synagogue,” and sought an interest in the affections of that people; so that the Jewish elders, sympathizing with him under his distress, are the bearers of his message to our Lord.
Let us attend to the hints of instruction suggested by the character which they here give of the centurion.
I. “He loveth our nation.”
We have already remarked the superiority to prejudice which this trait in his character implies. We now observe, his attachment to the Jewish nation rested on solid grounds; it was such an attachment that it was next to impossible for a good man not to feel. The Jews were the only people in the world, before the coming of Christ, who were taken into an express covenant with God. To them, he stood in a relation different from that which he sustained towards any other people. He was their proper national head and king. The covenant on which he became so, was entered into at Mount Sinai, when Jehovah descended in a visible manner, uttered his laws in an audible voice, and, by the express consent of the people, communicated to Moses those statutes and ordinances which were ever after to form the basis of their polity, civil and religious, and a perpetual barrier of separation betwixt them and other nations. Conducted by a train of the most astonishing miracles to the land of Canaan, God was pleased to dwell amongst them by a miraculous symbol, and to make them the depositories of true religion.