« ForrigeFortsett »
the people of God to chastisement by providence. In affliction, every Christian ought to inquire the reason and end of it, but his neighbour has no right to ascribe it to sin, if nothing is peculiarly. visible. AMiction is for discipline as well as chastisement; and though Job was something self-righteous, bis affliction was immediately sent as a trial, and not as a mark of any peculiar sin. While it seemed as a trial of his faith, and manifested the power of God, in upholding him, it was the most whole. some discipline to his soul. It humbled: him before God; and instead of looking to his own righteousness, he now observes himself as a polluted sinner.
OBLIGATIONS OF PARENTS AND CHURCHES TO PROMOTE
THE INSTRUCTION OF CHILDREN.
“Feed my lambs !” was kindly spoken,
'Twas a legacy of love;
Of their Saviour gone above. If we wish the plantation to flourish, the nursery must not be neglected; and if we desire the future stability and enlargement of the Christian church, peculiar care must be paid to the training of its infant members. To such our blessed Lord showed the tenderest affection. While he dwelt on earth, we read “that little children were brought to him, that he might put his hands on them and pray;" and still will his people bring their little children to him, now that he is ascended to that place where he ever liveth to make intercession for them. While each believer rejoices in his encouragement to let such come to him, it is the duty of the Christian churches, as companies of believers, to see that they be taught the way. It would be a benefit conferred equally upon them. selves and upon succeeding generations, if we could bring home to the consciences of the churches the important truth, that they are in some measure a party in the en, gagements entered into by the parents in the several baptisms, which take place in their societies. They have sanctioned the solemn dedication of that child to God, when the Elders, in their name, have admitted it to baptism. They expect from the parent, po doubt, the faithful discharge of those duties which he owes equally to his child and to his brethren; but have they ever felt bound
to inquire how far he has done so ? Have they watched diligently, lest the child, once brought under the church's care, when it was laid at the feet of the Redeemer, in the ordinances of his house, should be borne back again' to the world, and permitted to 'grow up in the world's blind.
not bound to do this, both from compassion to the soul of the child, and from zeal for the honour of the Saviour? Shall not the church that neglects this duty justly incur the charge of the prophet, that " they are cruel as the os. triches of the wilderness," which cast forth their offspring to perish. If Christians felt the full extent of their respon. sibilities on this point, they would at once refuse the sanction of their countenance and name to encourage the delusion of those who seem to consider baptism as a charm, which in some way, they know not how, may secure their child from some great evil, and who are most anxious to have the rite' performed, though themselves living in ne. glect of all ordinances, and practically heathen in a Chris. tian land. And they do lend the sanction of their name, when they assent to the baptism of a child, without inquiring into the piety and knowledge of the parent, when he, who cast his former engagements behind him, is permitted to come again, and in their presence to renew those solemn promises, to teach what he has never learned, and to train his child in a way into which he himself is not inclined to enter. As the daughter of Pharaoh knew well that the child, which she had rescued from the waters, must languish soon, and die without a nurse's tender care, and therefore committed him to his mother, saying, “take this child away and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages;" so slıould the church return the infant servant of the Lord to the person who'possesses the natural right, and should have the natural affection for it, saying, nurse this child on the sincere milk of the word,” and verily thou shalt have thy reward.
Still a parent may forget, and the Christian professor may not discharge the duties which God has laid upon him, and which his brethren expect at his hand. And it is no secret to any one, that there are not a few"between the porch and the altar.” Men not altogether separate, and yet who do not walk in the ordinances of the Lord blameless.—Who observe the outward decencies of reli. gion, and who, wishing for nothing more for themselves, are satisfied to bequeath the same flimsy garb, as a
covering for the spiritual nakedness of their descendants. There are many who, from want of education, and more especially among those who have been considerably ad. vanced in life before they became impressed with the im. portance of divine things, are very imperfectly qualified for affording to their families much religious instruction, however highly they may estimate its value, and however they may manifest its softening and sanctifying influence on their own spirits. While then it would be only a proper degree of prudent foresight to promote the im. provement of those who, at no very distant period, are to constitute the visible church, when we shall have gone the way appointed for all living, and who will impart to it a character of zeal or of coldness, of knowledge or of ignorance, in proportion to the degree of feeling impressed upon their hearts, or the degree of instruction laid up in their understandings. And while even the more selfish regard for the children we leave behind us, might make us anxious to give more of healthiness to the moral at. mosphere in which they are to move, when the eye which now watches over them shall have closed in its last slum. bers. It is also a delightful task for that charity, “which is kind,” to lend to the pious parent the aid which he se much desires, and to provide for his children that in. struction which he is so little able to bestow.
The sabbath is the day on which the church holds her assemblies, and it is a day on which she should call her duties to mind. It is 'a day, upon whose sacred hours the cares of this world are forbidden to intrude; and there. fore the Christian can, without distraction, attend to the interest of his own soul, and the souls of others,-a day when, holding his fellowship with the Father and the Son, his heart is constrained by love to bim “who first loved us;" and when the office which his Saviour assigned for our love, to “feed his lambs," naturally directs us to declare our love by deeds, where we had declared it in words; and to make the sanctuary, where in the morning the Christian sung and prayed, be the place to which, on the evening of the day, the children of the sabbath school would be seen directing their joyful steps. Blessings from every rank and every age shall rest upon thy memory, *Raikes, thou man of purest benevolence; thou hast ren. dered the sabbath twice the poor man’s day of rest, a fest
* R. Raikes, Esq. first established sabbath schools.
from labour, and a rest from sin. It was left for thee to reflect the light of divine truth upon the dark places of the land, to organize an expenseless mission to the mass of heathenism which slumbered beneath the shadows of our sanctuaries. To thee individuals are indebted for that ray of divine truth which guided their feet through the journey of life, and cheered the valley of shadow by which it is bounded; to thee a nation owes no small portion of its peace, when the people are "obedient to the magistrate, not from fear, but for conscience sake;" and for much of its prosperity, when “the blessing of the Lord is upon them that fear him;" the Olympic crown of old was not so rare a garland as that which wreathes thy brow, nor was the obelisk or pyramid so lasting a memorial as that which thou hast reared. Earthly honours, like the earth, must melt and pass away; but “they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”
, B. (To be continued.)
ADDRESS FROM THE GENERAL SYNOD OF ULSTER,* ASSIGNING REASONS FOR A DAY OF PUBLIC HUMILIATION.
THE GENERAL SYNOD OF ULSTER TO THE MEMBBRS OF THEIR SEVERAL CHURCHES, wish grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, through the witness and sealing of the Holy Spirit.-Amen. · The spirit of prophecy, beloved brethren, has clearly foretold, that in the last days “perilous times" shall come; and has taught us to trace both the danger and sufferings of such times to the sins of nations, of churches, and of individuals.-Neh. ix. 31; 1 Cor. x. 1-11. There is a general, and as we conceive, a just impression in the churches, that upon such “ perilous times” are we fallen. There is a shaking of the nations, and an overturning of thrones abroad, threatening again 'to involve Europe in all the horrors of war; there are difficulty and embarrassments in the public councils at home; there are in. subordination and outrage in districts hitherto peaceable; and there is a general and feverish anxiety amongst all elasses, arising from an apprehension of some undefined and impending calamities. · How many judgments the nation has already felt, all classes of the community can experimentally testify. The
merchant, the mechanic, the husbandman, have all in their turn felt the scourge of the public distress; and when they look back at the times that have been, and look around at the times that are, they must recognize 'in the melan. choly contrast-the evidence of the divine displeasure. The nation must acknowledge it in the increasing multia tude of operatives who, in vain, are seeking for employment; and of the poor who, with their families, are crying aloud for a morsel of bread.
Now the Scriptures testify, that all the judgments that afflict, and all ihe perils that threaten communities, are the consequences of their sins. Our danger, therefore, may in some degree be estimated by a brief enumeration of certain flagrant sins, which lie unreproved and unrepented of, at the door of the nation and of the churches :
1.--For upwards of two centuries has our nation been stained with the guilt of negro slavery. This crime presents an awful compound of iniquitous ingredients. It generally includes manstealing, a crime which God has pronounced worthy of death.-Exod. xxi. 16. It includes cruel violation of the natural ties of family and of country. It includes the deprivation of a man's personal liberty, without the charge of any crime to justify the deed; and, with a few honourable exceptions, it includes in it an inhu. man oppression, that often sacrifices the life of the slave to the desire of gain. We need scarcely add, that, with a somewhat similar number of exceptions, it deprives the wretched slave of the liberty of hearing the Gospel of Christ. Now, though the import of slaves from Africa has been legally prohibited, yet the system continues to en. chain, in our West Indian possessions alone, 800,000 of our fellow creatures and fellow subjects, in the bonds of a legalized and hopeless thraldom. How then can we expect aught but “perilous times," while such a millstone of guilt is hanging around the neck of our legislature and our country! ;
II.-Another national sin may be traced in compul. sory accommodation to superstition and idolatry. In the island of Malta, British Protestant officers have been de. prived of their commissions, because they would not join in an act of worship to a Romish Saint. In the Ionian Islands, British Protestant officers are compelled to take a part in the superstitious services of St. Spiridion ; and it is a matter of public record, that a direct revenue is de rived by the East India Company, from the sanguinary