« PreviousContinue »
tu the various passages of scripture, still, however, even their testimony adduced by your correspondents, is not to be put in competition with only referring to Rom. v. 17, the that of the word of God; and right interpretation of which I have perhaps after all we cannot expect already suggested, and which your from men in their peculiar circumcorrespondent V. although he cen- stances, themselves lately emerged sures does not refute.
from papàl darkness, and called to There is one more particular spend the remainder of their whole only to which I must allude. The lives in the vigorous defence of statement which I have ventured to fundamental doctrines, those nice question, is indeed recognised, as and accurate distinctions upon miyour correspondents have repeatedly nor points, which greater measures reminded me, in one of the of time and tranquillity would Homilies of our church; and to have enabled them to attain. It this circumstance I mainly attri. is remarkable that I cannot find bute its great prevalence. Now the statement at all distinctly made, it is impossible for any one either by any Christian author prior to to be more warmly attached to the them, and that even Luther, who church of England than myself, wrote so much, and so particularly or to possess a higher veneration upon the doctrine of Justification, for those holy men who cemented does not appear to have entertained its foundation with their blood; any such idea.
ON MEDITATION AND PRAYER.
SIR-The communication of gry As to the enquirer himself, I can in a late number of your pious mis. say but little ; for his statement; cellany was read by me with consi- distinct as it is, is far too defective. derable interest. * An immortal at least too partial, to allow even a spirit struggling with evil on this far more intelligent and accommaterial stage, and enquiring how plished writer than myself to furnish to conduct itself in its most impor. him with such rules as he desires tant exercises, so as to rise nobly to obtain. There may be so much superior to the infirmities of a of what is local, personal, and accifallen nature, is an object which dental in his case, that individual every serious Christian will contem- character and circumstances inust plate with the mingled emotions be known before he could be an. of delight and anxiety. You may swered as he wishes : such at least readily conceive, that, with such a is my view of the case. It is in the view of the subject impressed on my moral as in the natural world-we own mind, I have read with care the may give a long account of our replies that have been already given symptoms, ailments, and fears to to the enquirer. On these I shall our physician in writing, but what offer no remark, but merely say does the physician say? “I must that I do not think that the writers go and see the man--I must conof them have taken that compre- verse with him, and examine things hensive view of the case which it for myself: this tells me that some seems to demand. I beg to submit thing is wrong, but it does not tell to you a few cursory observations, me what I want to know." The which you will put before your enquirer may be young; he may be readers, if you judge them fit for thrown into some peculiar society; your work.
he may have some chimerical * See Christian Guardian, Oct. 1827.
notions; in short, there may be P. 369.
twenty things with which all your
readers are and must be unac- plunged into greater perplexity ; quainted.
and certainly he must seek elseBut, leaving the enquirer, I shall where for health and comfort. proceed to put down a few thoughts 3. But perhaps the greatest that rose in my mind from reflect- evil, and one of vast extent, ing on his very interesting commu- is, that fancy and iinagination nication : and if they afford any prevail in what is called, and benefit to bim, or to any other of justly called, experimental religion. your readers, or if they lead any The human mind loves, for we are competent person to discuss the so far poets by nature, to rove in important subject, I shall rejoice. what is ideal. It forms lofty conMy remarks must be concise, but ceptions. It takes bold Aights. this your readers will excuse, since These have their utility when rightly it rises from my wish to be brief, used; but when they are not rightly and yet to suggest what may profi- used, they are the source of much tably employ thinking minds. mischief. It is easy, for instance,
1. I begin with the obvious, but to place before us in idea, a Christian not unimportant truth, that spiri- who is absorbed in holy meditation, tual cases are delicate, serious, and and who prays with an animated difficult to be treated with dex- beart and an undistracted mind. terity and wisdom. It is easy to We fill our minds with a noble and make out the statement of a case; delightful idea of his excellence and and a great deal of irrelevant happiness. Where, I now ask, is matter may be introduced. But the Christian to be found who habiallowing the statement to be tually thus meditates and prays ? solid and correct, (and I believe Let us reject the idea that we have as much in spiritual cases as I formed in the chambers of imagery, do in those that are physical) and come down to the low level and it is easy to come forward with tame reality of the Christian life, moral prescriptions : and of one and we shall soon learn the differhundred that may be given, a wise, ence between what might be and grave, experienced man may say of what is ; between what is desirable, ninety-nine, " These men may and what is commonly attained. mean well: but some are bold, 4. If we expect too much from some are crude, some are mistaken, books in the solution of spiritual some are superficial, some are cases, it is probable that we shall vague.” It is perfectly easy to say be disappointed. I do not undermuch to the spiritual invalid, to value the writings of any pious, exhort, to censure, to praise, to learned, and judicious author; but expatiate and declaim; and yet the I think that I see various causes suffering individual may reply, “ It why they should not be too implimay be all just and good, but it is citly regarded. They are necessanot what I want : none of this rily imperfect. The writer always meets my case at present.”
utters his own views and his own - 2. Answers to spiritual cases are feelings. Here he may be wrong often given in a systematical manner, where he may be ruled by bis that is, in accordance with a pecu. system-here he may be led by his liar creed. Let an individual go to imagination--in short, his volume a Calvinist and to an Arminian ; to is a record which tells us how he one who dwells on abstract specu- thought and felt, or wished to think lations, and to one who dwells on and feel. It may be a help and a animated feelings; and it is nearly valuable one; but there is no reason certain that he will receive very why it should be accounted an different answers to his enquiries oracle. The consequence may be, that he is 5. If we could see the spiritual
world, I mean the spiritual state and confine all his thoughts to the of the Church of Christ, I am dis- great object of his adoration ! He posed to think that we should find reflects on his prayer, and he reflects a wide difference between it and all on his meditation, and he is ashamed the lofty, animated, and splendid of them and of himself. I rather statements with which so many are think_fancy, and theory, and decaptivated. I am inclined to think clamation, and formal statement that as to true Christians in gene aside--that this approximates to ral, there is nothing of which they reality in the general case, I deny have more reason to be ashamed not the highest attainments, but I than the imperfection that belongs think them rare. to their religious services; the m . As to the variety of spiritual coldness of heart and the vagrancy cases, I admit it to be great ; perof thought in the church and in the haps infinite; but this affords an closet. We hear of splendid things; argument why no system should be but when we talk with humble, laid down as a standard, and why wise, valuable, reflecting Christians, the delineations contained in books, we do not find that they lay claim or given in conversation, should to them. Nay, if we converse with only be regarded as descriptive of those who admire these things, and individual instances, and used acif we closely press them, we find cordingly. There are two things, that they fly to theory, or lead us in my opinion, that particularly to consider some absent persons. modify Christian experience : naBut what remains as the fact? We tural temperament, and peculiar need daily repent of our sins- divine dispensation, I omit inferior and daily repent of our best reli causes of diversity. If one person gious services—and then repent of be cool, reflective, logical; and if our very repentance itself,
another be ardent, volatile, poetical; 6. It may, I think, be laid down and if each be visited from above as indisputable, that high attain with equal measures of renewing ments in concentrated meditation grace; it is not natural to suppose and undistracted devotion are ex- that those characters will have the ceedingly rare. It is easy to say fine same spiritual aspect. Farther, as things about them; but how thinly God deals with us variously in the scattered are those who can say, ways of his providence, so there is We possess them! It is, I grant, no reason to conclude that he does for ever mortifying, and it is itself not deal with us variously in the a demonstration of the fallen state ways of his grace. The possessions of man, that we should be able to and trials of men are different; and chain down our minds and fix our so are, it may be presumed, their every thought on a fading leaf or a spiritual gifts and trials. We have painted insect for hours, and gaze our natural constitution : we have on its structure and its hues with our dispensation. such delight; and yet should not 8. But instead of enlarging at be able to meditate on God, and to present on a subject so deep, compray to him, for five minutes, with. plicated and extensive, I must conout the impertinent intrusion of vain clude these hasty remarks by and frivolous ideas. But is not this showing what I consider to be their really the case? How seldom can practical results. 1. As to the ina good man sit down, with his fuence of the Holy Ghost on the Bible before him, and meditate on soul of man, it is one of the great God and his counsels to the satis- doctrines of revelation ; and we do faction of his soul! How seldom well to seek it with earnestpess, can a good man kneel down and and to improve it with care. Our pray to God with all his heart, life, our happiness, our salvation depends upon it. But, 2. We shall itself: but if we act aright we shall do well to attend to the reality of make some real attainment. 5. As the divine life, and not to suffer to rules, such as your enquirer ourselves to be improperly affected asks for, I would only say, · Proby fancy, imagination, party and ceed meekly, humbly, persevertheoretical statements. Let our ingly: the misty morn may lead to standard be high: we cannot go a clear day: be patient, be diligent; higher than the scriptures : but let look to God; wait on him; and us at the same time be humble, he will perfect that which concerneth wise, sedate, real, and not visionary you. Should he, or any one so Christians. 3. Undoubtedly we well read as he is, seek something have at all times reason to be more philosophical and formal, I ashamed under a sense of our im- can only say, “I do not possess perfections. · Constitution, divine the material that you want. dispensation, education, and other I cannot conclude these remarks, things being duly considered, still without offering a sincere apology a part, perhaps a large part, of our for their imperfection. If, such as imperfection, must be attributed to they are, they direct your readers our idleness and unfaithfulness. 4. to think seriously on a most imLet us however remember that portant subject; and if they call there is a growth in all attainments. forth from your able correspondents I do not suppose that we shall be some solid and valuable papers upon angels on earth : and perhaps in it, I shall be glad : and in such a our last hours we may have to matter I must assure you that I lament wandering thoughts : but wish to be taught rather than to aim we should be always endeavouring to teach. in the strength of divine grace, to
I am, Sir, go on towards perfection. Theo
Your faithful Servant, retical attainment is of no value in
J. N. C.
DYING ANNALS.-No. III.
Waen God vouchsafes to work,
Late in December last, I was informed that a very abandoned woman, living in a neighbouring town, was laid on a bed of sickness, and now evinced a great concern for her soul. Her past life, I was told, had been as profligate as could well be conceived; but that,
since her illness, she had been led to pray to that God, whose holy name she had so often blasphemed. The following day I visited her, and found her an object of the deepest interest I had ever seen. She had lain in about ten days, and was now so ill that her dissolution appeared to be rapidly approaching, her countenance bespoke terror, and on being questioned as to her state, she expressed, in the most clear and energetic language, her views of her state as a sinner, and confessed how vile she had been,—but added something that showed she did not despair of God's mercy. On being asked on what ground she entertained this expectation ? she replied, "her hope was founded on the blood of Jesus." ing evidence of the holy tendency
Oh,' she said, “if I am washed of her affections: her views of the in His blood I shall be as clean as polluting nature of sin, and of the if I had never sinned. I hope my virtue and efficacy of Christ's blood Saviour will cleanse me, and enable to cleanse her from all its defile. me to say, when I die, “ Come ments, appeared exceedingly clear. Lord Jesus come quickly.". When In one of our interviews, she said, the fifty-first Psalm was read it she had very comfortable thoughts; was affecting to hear her enun and on my asking on what subject, ciations at the words, “ I acknow- she answered, “ On Salvation." ledge my transgressions"--" I do, Indeed, from the whole tenor of her I do," she said, with an energy of conversation, I could not entertain feeling and manner that was very a doubt, but that this poor prostriking ; also when these words fligate woman was become indeed were read, “my sin is ever before a penitent; and that the Holy me.” “ It is,” she said, “it Spirit had made a revelation of stares me in the face." In short Christ to her soul. Her faith and her state appeared to be that of a repentance were clearly manifested real penitent, brought to the feet every time I saw her; and her of her Saviour for salvation. On deadness to the things of this world, the following day, on her past proved her profession to be real sins being mentioned, she said, and sincere; she often dwelt on “ Oh! that I had died when I was the blood of Christ, and the comas young as my infant, I had not fort she derived in resting on it. then sinned ;” and on its being As her end approached, her conobserved to her, that though she fidence increased; and whenever had sinned, yet God could pardon questioned as to her frame of mind, and save her through Christ ; she her uniform answer was, “very replied, with peculiar emphasis, comfortable ;” and when asked on and a look of strong confidence, what ground she, who bad been so “ I do depend on Him, and have vile a sinner could possess comfort? a hope that he will save me." She would say, “ On my blessed Wishing to lead her to self-exami. Saviour.” The last time I saw nation, I said, “but you know on her, she evinced the same steady Friday last you were afraid to die.” hope, declaring her dependance on She answered, “When I thought her blessed Saviour alone. I asked I should be lost, I was, but now her if her sense of sin was as I hope to be saved; I should not distressing as before ? she said, be afraid if the pangs of death “ No! I am enabled to wait on were on me, but should go with the Lord,” intimating that the the greatest pleasure. Nothing terrors of hell were removed. She here gives me an anxious thought, spoke with delight on praver, and pot even my infant.” She con- greatly valued the visits of the tinued, “ My Saviour has spoken minister who praved with her, to my heart, though I do not know longing for their return. On the how it is, and told me that I shall following morning, she told her be saved. My sins are too heavy mother that she was going to pray, for me to bear-I cannot think of and begged her to kneel down. them without shuddering—they are On her mother's offering to take too much for me."
Jenks's Prayer-book, she said, On renewing my visit, and in. “ No, I will pray myself,” which quiring into the state of her mind, she did, vocally; and soon after she said, after she bad spoken of the spirit took its flight from her her Saviour, “ I am impatient to suffering body, and we trust was see Him;” thus affording a pleas; received by Him, to whom she had