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are declared to be tbe epistle of Cbrist, in which men may read this essential doctrine, That before they can derive any ad-. vantage from the provision of eternal love, they must renounce their own ways, and resign themselves to the will of the Saviour without one reserve.
How deplorable is the condition of that man, who, like Naaman, is chastized with the rod of God's anger, and yet remains un humbled before his throne! And of what conse. quence is our deliverance from pain and sorrow, compared with the sanctification of them in preparing us for those mansions, the inhabitants of which never say, We are sick! May our inordinate anxiety for the happiness which is bounded by time be overcome by holy solicitude for growing conformity to the image of God, and a triumphant entrance into his kingdom! The supreme Arbiter of human affairs often brings his servants down to the gates of death with the gracious design of shewing them the vanity of the world, the folly and guilt of its pursuits, and the infinite value of evangelical religion. Millions of souls owe their existence in heaven, instrumentuliy, to the tribulations of earth, particularly the disorders and sufferings of the body.
What a treasure are affectionate and faithful servants, under the prevalence of domestic affliction ! To such servants Naaman was considerably indebted for the cure of his le. prosy, and for his salvation from the idolatry of Syria, to the knowledge, worship, and enjoyment of the God of Israel. This providence was as singular in itself as in the means employed for its accomplishment; for it is the only miraculous cure of the leprosy recorded in the Scriptures till the coming of the Lord Jesus. How important were the consequences of this dispensation! He first earnestly prays for the pardon of past transgressions---Tbe Lord pardon tby servant, that I bave bowed myself in the house of Rimmor, for my worsbipping in the bouse of Rimmon ; tbe Lord pardon tby servant for this tbing *; then to evidence his gratitude to the chief instrument of the mercy bestowed upon bim, he presses him to take a blessing from him. But say's the prophet, I
“ I will take nothing. It is not bị might 120 by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord you are what you are ; go in peace, and devote the remnant of your days to his glory, remembering that the best proofs of your sincerity are the humility, zeal, and holiness of your future life.” From this period we hear no more of Naaman. Probably,
Dr. Lightfoot, vel. . p. 86,
soon after his return he was dismissed from court, as a dissenter from the established idolatry of his country, or that he voluntarily retired, choosing rather to suffer affliction in Israel, than enjoy the pleasures of sin in Syria, or that this great work of God was the prelude of his dissolution. Whether living or dying, we are taught by his history, that the blessings of Jehovah's fulness are suited to every exigence; that they are seasonably cominunicated, and freely received ; always unmerited, often unsolicited; and that they are possessed in gratitude, improved for bis praise, and terminate in the perfect vision of his glory.
AN ARGUMENT IN DEFENCE OF SPIRITUAL OPERATIONS ON MEN'S HEARTS. 17.
is commonly objected against truly religious persons, by such as are destitute of the power of godliness,
« That all their pretensions to the supports and consolations of the Holy Spirit of God, are merely fanatical and delusive.” One reason urged to enforce this objection is drawn from the Christian's being unable to give a rational account, as they call it, of tlie Spirit's operations on his mind and conscience. The good man affirms, that he feels the Holy Spirit's influence within him, and enjoy's great happiness by the word of God being applied to his soul, although he is not able to define in what manner the divine agent raises liis inward powers above their common abilities. This inability affords matter of triumpli to his enemy, and furnishes him with the means of making him appear ridiculous to others. But why should the experienced Christian be put on such a task? The question should be, whether the operations and consoJations pleaded for, are founded on the Scriptures, and conHrmed by the feelings of good men in the present and past ages? or, whether what the good man pretends unto, has a ter:dency to make him a worse or better member of society? If the word of God, and the examples of great and good men therein related, countenance his experience, if his conduct be manifestly changed for the better, and if he is conScies of enjoying far more happiness in life than he enjoyed before he was acquainted with these influences, to what purpose is a plain and unlearned man called on, to make observations, and form distinctions about what passes within luiin, which can be of no use, and are never required of any persons in the compon concerns of life?
If a distempered person removes for his health into another air, and by these means finds himself better in health and spirits, would it not be unreasonable to question that man's understanding and happiness, because he can give no rational account in what manner the foreign air operated on his body, to produce the delightful change which he is conscious of? May not the person contemptuously smile at the captious sneering opponent, and reply, “ By what means it was that the air produced this effect, I cannot say ; but this I am assured of, that though of late I was languishing even to death, by removing into this salutary air, I now feel myself well and happy." Just so the religionist may despise all the vain objections of formal and pharisaic pride, by setting his own happy feelings against all their vain jangling.
The members of the Establishment are taught this doctrine of experimental religion in their catechism; in which, wheta it is asked, “ what are the benefits the communicants at the Lord's supper receive, from partaking of the body and blood of Christ ?" the catechist is made to answer thus : “ The strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the body and blood of Christ, as our bodies are by the bread and wine," This is a strong testimony in favour of all those feelings and comforts that good men expect and enjoy in that holy ordinance. They do not know the process the bread and wine pass through, before they feel the virtue of them in their bodies ; nor do they know how their faith, by the operation of the Spirit of God, procures that strengthening and refreshing to their souls, by the body and blood of Christ, alkrmed in the catechism. But they do feel and enjoy such things, and bless God for this and every other - institution, by the use of which they are enabled to go on? their religious way rejoicing, without regardmg what is porant and merely formal professors object against them.
ACKNOWLEDGED AND CORRECTED. A letter from a Minister in America to'a Minister in England.] B'
ELIEVE me, my greatly valued friend, tbere is nothing
belonging to the character of a minister of Jesus Christ noore essentially necessary than pulience; whether we icon
template the happiness of the minister or the people. God's children, not in only, but in every place, ase
froward children; and, if the minister should happen to be froward also, dreadful must be the consequence. I am na. turully froward, peevish, and fretful; this has been to me a source of much vexation.
It is very natural for children to tell tales of each other ; God's children frequently do so. I remember, in a congregation where I once laboured, one of my hearers told me a story of another, but begged I would say nothing about it. This, by the way, is a vile way: I gave full credit to the report; this, by the way, was wrong. I felt very much hert on the occasion, and expressed myself with some degree of asperity. This was soon carried to the offender, and Jost nothing of the asperity in its passage. Reports which tend to mischief are like snow-bálls, the turther they roll the more they gather. The offender was, in his turn, offended; he spake also with asperity; said, “ he would not be so treated, he would be no man's slave, he was not accountable to any man, he would go no more to the meeting, &c. &c.” Soon, very soo!!, was all he said commanicated to me. 1 was assuredly right, and would let bim see 1 would not be bis sluve; nay, I would not be bis servant; I would call no man master on earth; I had but one master. This gentleman was one of the first characters in the meeting; he was not at meeting the next Sunday; I was not sorry ; I secretly hoped he never would be there again." The storm began to thicken, the parties began to form ; some affirmed be was very censurable, others thought I was as much so: I should have
gone to him, in the first instance, and talked to him, not of him. I soon found I was wrong, but the difficulty was how to get right. Observe, not to know what was right, but to bring myself to do what was, You must know, when I first set out on my present mode of life, my gracious Master provided me a tutor who was to accompany me as a mentor. I could not see him, but I could very sensibly feel his reproofs, and understand his admonitions. He advised me to retire with him awhile; I felt my face glow at the motion, I knew what it was for ; I dreaded the severe account I was going to be brought to, but there was no avoiding it; with trembling dread I retired.
« Come," said my mentor, “sit down." I began; be certainly was wrong.--" stop," said my mentor, it is you I have now to deal with you have done wrong; yox, who by precept and cumple, ought to lead in the way of peace." But I ought to exhort, and reprove, and rebuke. • « Stop, Sir," said my mentor, s and call to mind that the sauffers on the
altar should be pure gold. Reproofs and rebukes come with ä very ill grace from an offender." An offender! 6. Yes, an offender, and of the worst cast; an offence in you; and of this nature; is peculiarly offensive.
to Suppose any of your hearers in like circumstances, what advice would you give them ? 'Suppose them offended by a brother, you would advise them to be calm, to suspend their judgment, to seek' an opportunity alone with the supposed offender, address him in the language of love, of charity, hope it was not so bad as was expected ; at least, you would hope the intention was not bad, &c. &c. Thus you would have advised your hearer, thus you have not done ; you have by your conduct, in this instance, injured your cause---injured your Master's cause, and, perhaps, made wounds that may never be healed. You know not, at this moment, what this once kind friend is suffering; what his dear wife, his venerable parent, each of whom having a regard for both, can say nothing, but must suffer in silence. O! you have done very wrong."
The tears gushed in my eyes, I thought of praying. "No," said my mentor, “ not yet; you should first do right. Go, and acknowledge your fault.' • I cannot.” “You must, indeed you must.'
« But he will treat me roughly.” -- You deserve it, you must bear it; you will at least have the pleasure of knowing you did all you could, in your present circumstances, to repair the wrong you have done. . When thus you have done, should you not meet forgiveness and reconcitiation from him, you may apply to your offended Master; and, peradventure, you may find forgiveness and reconciliation from him." out with an aching heart, experiencing the full force of that truth as I went along---" The way of the transgressor is hard." I arrived at his divelling; I entered his doors ; but O! with what different sensations, when unconscious of offence! O! low painful is a guilty conscience! I found him reading; he did not lift up his head, he did not speak : I could not. His dear companion blushed, she trembled, she spoke. However, he read on. I attempted once and again to bring out what my mentor charged me to do---I failed. At length, for I must come to it, I said, with a faultering roice, you are justified, Sir, in your conduct on this occasión ; I deserve it all; and all this, yea more, I can bear, with much more ease than I can the reproaches of iny own heart. I am come to give this troubled heart some ease, Sir, by acknowledging my.error; I have done wrong, Sir, in taking up a report of you, or saying any thing about you VOL. IV,