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EXTRACTS FROM MY DIARY.
HEARD T. Batty yesterday. His text was, unto Me all ye that labor, and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. He urged people to come to Christ, but he never told them what it was to come to Him. We cannot come to Him literally now, as people did when He was on earth 1; but we can leave all other teachers and guides, and renounce the dominion of our appetites and passions, and put ourselves under His teaching and government. In other words, we can become Christians; we can learn Christ's doctrine and obey it, and, thus obeying, trust in Him for salvation. But Mr. Batty said not a word about this. He talked as if all that people had to do, was to roll themselves on Christ, or cast themselves on Him just as they were. He made all the passages about bringing forth fruits meet for repentance, hearing Christ's words and doing them,-denying ourselves and taking up our cross,―using our talents, working in His cause, &c., of no effect. He said, "Come just as you are. If you tarry till you are better, you will never come at all;" which seems to me, neither Scripture nor common sense. To come to Christ, in the proper sense of the words, is to become better ;-it is to cease to live to ourselves and sin, and to live to God. Hence Christ, in connection with Mr. Batty's text says, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek, and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls." The meaning of this is, give up the service of self and sin, and serve me. Take me for your pattern, and be as I am, and live as I live." But he never noticed the latter part of the passage.
-What a blessed thing it is to have so many good books! They are a world of comfort to me, as well as a means of ever-increasing spiritual good. And they are evermore startling and delighting me with striking oracles of Christian truth. Here is one from Baxter. Every truth of God is appointed to be His instrument, to do some holy
EXTRACTS FROM MY DIARY.
work upon your heart! Charity is the end of truth." Here is another: "The Gospel is a seal, on which is engraven the portrait, the likeness of Christ. Our hearts are the wax, on which the seal should be impressed, and to which the likeness should be transferred. The duty of ministers and of all religious teachers is to apply the seal to men's hearts, that all may be brought to bear the image, the likeness of Christ."
-I always placed the moral element of religion above the doctrinal; charity above faith; good living above any kind of opinions.
-This afternoon Mr. Burrows preached on Mary's choice, but he left the matter in a mist. He talked about sitting at Christ's feet, but did not say what it meant. We cannot do that literally now; but we can do what amounts to the same thing. We can read Christ's words in the Gospels, as Mary heard them from His lips; and we can do as He bids us, and look to Him for all we need. this, in truth, is the "one thing needful." But he did not put the matter in this light. He probably did not see it in this light. He would have been afraid perhaps to receive or to give so simple an explanation of the matter.
I had a talk with Mr. Woodhouse last night, about man's natural state. He preached on the subject on Tuesday night, and said things which, to me, seemed unwarranted. He said men can do nothing good, till they are regenerated. Is that your idea? said I.
Of course. Are they not dead? And what can dead
I suppose they can do as God bids them, "Arise from the dead." You spoke of the result of Adam's sin, but you said nothing of the effect of the second Adam's doings. Now I believe that we are put in as good a position by Christ, for serving God and obtaining heaven, as we should have been if Adam had not sinned. I believe men have good thoughts, good feelings, and do good things, before they are regenerated; and that they are regenerated in consequence of their good thoughts, good purposes, and good deeds. They consider their ways," and turn to God. They cease to do evil, and learn to do well, and so get washed. They purify their hearts in obeying
the truth. They cleanse their hands and purify their hearts. They come out from the ungodly, and leave their ungodly ways, and then God receives them. They hear God's word or read it; and faith comes by hearing and reading; and faith works by love, and makes them new
Besides, you know we could not help what Adam did, and you talked as if Adam's sin made it impossible for us to do anything else but sin, thus throwing the blame of the sins of all the unregenerate on Adam; and that is neither Scriptural nor wise. There are two tendencies in unregenerate people, one to good, and one to evil, and it is their duty to resist the one and obey the other, and thus to seek for regeneration. That is as I understand the Bible. And I always try to make people believe and feel, that if they do not get regenerated, and keep God's commandments, it is their own fault, and neither Adam's nor God's.
We talked nearly an hour, but I fancy Mr. W. did not seem to understand either me or the Bible. It is strange that people can't take God's word as it stands, and content themselves with speaking as the oracles of God speak. If we can't do anything but sin till we are regenerated, who is to blame for our sin, but He who neglects to regenerate us? What horrible notions are mistaken by some for Gospel? "Send out, O God, thy light and truth; let them lead me and guide me.
-Poor Mr. Woodhouse is full of trouble. He thinks me wrong, but does not see how to put me right.
-What a curious creature Mr. Batty is. How in the world did he come to be a preacher? A stranger, sillier talker I think I never heard. I cannot say he is childish exactly. Children talk nonsense plenty sometimes, but no child could talk the kind of nonsense Mr. Batty talks. Last night his text was, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." But he forgot the Holy Ghost, and talked only about fire. His object seemed to be to prove that fire would burn. He mentioned several fires spoken of in the Bible that did burn, such as the fire that consumed Sodom and Gomorrah; the fire that formed one of the plagues of Egypt; &c., but he came at length on the fire in the bush that Moses saw, and, poor man, he was
EXTRACTS FROM MY DIARY.
obliged to acknowledge that that would not burn. The bush was unconsumed. He got away from that fire as soon as he could, and found a number of other fires that did burn. By and by however he came upon the burning fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar. This would burn some that were thrown into it, but it would not burn others. Then he talked about the fire of Moscow, and said, that that fire gave as much light to the moon, as the moon gives to the earth, and he added, that the flames of the burning city made such a blaze, that we might have seen it in England, if it had not been for the hills. And this is the talk that sensible people are expected to go and hear.
-Mr. W. preached one of Mr. Melville's sermons last night. It was a good one though, and I had rather a man preached another man's good sense, than his own nonsense. And I had rather hear a good sermon read, than a bad one spoken. Let us have good sound sense, real Christian doctrine, and fervent Christian love, in the first place, and then as many other good things as we can get. But do let the children of God have good wholesome bread, the bread of heaven, and pure living water from the wells of salvation. Don't try to feed men's souls with chaff or chopped straw, and don't give them mud or muddy water to drink.
-Heard Mr. Hulme last night on "The Cross of Christ." The sermon was an attempt at fine preaching. It was not to my taste. The preacher did not seem to understand his subject. What he said had nothing to do with the conscience or the heart. It was talk,-tumid talk-high-swelling words, nothing more.
-Heard Mr. Allen preach on the Flood. He talked a deal about granite-labored hard to prove something; but whether he succeeded or not, I cannot exactly tell. It was a "great sermon" and had little effect. I did not feel much interest in it.
-Heard him preach another great sermon on Isaiah's vision. It amounted to nothing. I prefer a simpler and more practical kind of preaching.
-Heard him preach another sermon on death by Adam. It was not so great nor so foolish as the others. The logic was wearisome, but the application was tolerable.
-Heard Dr. Newton, on preaching Christ. His views
on the subject are very different from Wesley's, and as different from mine. I have heard many silly sermons on the subject, but not one wise one. Many seem to be afraid of being sensible on religious subjects. They are wise enough on smaller matters; it is only on the greatest that their understandings are at fault. But the silliest preachers repeat good words in their sermons, such as Christ, God, love and heaven, and these words no doubt call up good thoughts, and revive 'good feelings in the minds of people, so that the most pitiful preachers may be of some use. But how much more useful would good, sound, sensible and truly Christian preachers be, who always talked plain Christian truth, and pressed it home in a loving, Christ-like spirit.
-Heard Mr. Curtis last night. His text and introduction were good; but the sermon was good for nothing.
-Heard Mr. Pea this afternoon. The chief use of many preachers is to visit the members, and stand at the head of the societies as centres of union. They do not do much good by preaching.
-God save me from error and sin. Lead me in the way of truth and righteousness. I feel a dreadful contempt for some men's preaching. Save me from going too far. But really, to hear how careful some are to warn people against thinking too highly of good works, one might suppose that the world and the Church were going to be sent to perdition for too much piety and charity; for doing too much good, and making too many sacrifices for God and the salvation of the world. O fools and blind, not to see, that selfishness, idleness, luxury, pride, worldliness, slavery to fashion, neglect of the Bible, ignorance and lukewarmness are the things which disgrace and weaken the Church, and hinder the salvation of mankind.
-Mr. Stoner preached powerfully last night. He said all true Christians would "sigh and cry on account of the abominations that are done in the land,--that they would accompany their sighing and crying with ceaseless labors for the removal of those abominations, that they would try to bring the world into the Church, and lift up the Church to the standard exhibited in the life and character of Christ,—that they would pray, teach, live and give, and