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we done many wonderful works ;" ward communion with Christians and yet for want of the one principle which may promote a hearty coof the love of Christ in the heart, for operation in plans of useful benevowant of the heart being devoted to lence, and religious zeal and love, God, this scriptural knowledge, this Retirement for prayer is perhaps high character, these devout con- the most efficacious mean of culnexions, these hopes, these privi- tivating a Christian spirit; but it leges, these duties, these labours, must be succeeded, as it ever was in these prospects, are vain and empty the case of the Saviour himself, by as the sounding brass and tinkling some active work of mercy towards cymbal, and shall prove evanescent the bodies or the souls of men, for as the morning mist at the bright which it will also be found the most shining of the last day.
appropriate preparation. The most If I may now hope that the mind of cursory observer of the signs of the but one of my readers is convinced times cannot but be aware that the of the paramount value of personal present is a day of signal effort in rereligion, of the duty and necessity ligious philanthropy; and although of devoting himself to God, I doubt it is of great moment that the not that such an individual will be Christian should not for one instant willing to proceed with me to the relax that vigilance over his spirit considerations which I had more which alone, under the invigorating especially in view in this paper, re, grace of God, can prevent his being specting the importance of sustain- carried away in that eddy of public ing and realizing the hopes which and secular activity, by more or are justly awakened by that new less of which all plans of utility generation of professedly religious are necessarily accompanied ; yet to persons, who are entering life to make this a plea for the total neglect fill the honourable but arduous posts of these duties, or for a very sparing vacated by those who have gone and scanty co-operation in them, to their heavenly rest. The Chris- would indicate the remains of an tian world naturally turns to these unmortified spirit of sluggish inyoung persons with anxiety. It difference to the great interests of beholds their fathers, their elders, our fellow-men, and display the closing their course, and leaving deadly weeds of natural selfishness behind them an infinitely momen- still clinging around, if not absotous work incomplete. It eagerly lutely choaking, the plant of Chrisasks, Are they prepared to take it tian love; a delicate exotic, not to up, and to urge it forward to its be fostered in the barren soil and full and final accomplishment? chilling blasts of this world's atmosWill they, having devoted them- phere, without constant care and selves to God, devote also their the warmer suns and heavenly dews efforts to the promotion of his king- of a purer region. dom and glory among men ? At I would apply the present refirst sight it might appear, that a marks in an especial manner to the determination to the first of these cause of those great institutions of obligations would necessarily in- religious benevolence by which our volve in it the careful observance land is at present delightfully disof the second : but this is not uni- tinguished. In some of these, not formly the fact; for it is the un- a few of the founders, supporters, happy mistake of some Christians and early friends, are now in a to connect with their religious pro- better world. The present agents fession too much of a speculative also are mortal, like their deceased and secluded habit of life. But to coadjutors, and must soon join them be "separate from the world” does in their resting place. To whom then not require a separation also from can the attention of the church of the church, and from that out-Christ be so properly directed for the furtherance of these plans of Intent on their paths, it " watches mercy, as to the children of the for their halting,” if only for the departed or yet surviving agents, gratification of exclaiming, “ There, composing a new, and I would trust there! so would we have it." Thé "a holy," generation ?
Christian church also expects and For, in the first place, is it not desires it; for that church knows a natural and reasonable expecta- well the interests that are at stake, tion that they should occupy the and the perils of supineness. Its posts left vacant by the removal own features bear the marks of the of their fathers ? if the intention wounds, even yet unhealed, occaof the great Author of their sioned by sloth, negligence, and the being can be collected from the careless prosecution by succeeding relative position in which they generations of the momentous works have been made to stand to their commenced by preceding ones. parents, as respects their “ labours Christian churches, some even faof love" and their plans of useful- voured with Apocalyptic communicaness, it is surely one which points tions, in which a bright and gracious this way. God does not intend that testimony was borne to their works, his work should be deserted: he their labours, and their unfainting cannot wish that a dreary blank patience, have yet sunk into a should succeed the fair and fruitful mournful decay; and their tarnished prospect which former labourers glory is to be traced quite as much under his propitious blessing have to the cooling zeal of their labours, produced. He does '
not act thus as to the diminished orthodoxy of in the works of nature; for we ever their creed. see him,
But further, it is desirable, beco
cause the Great Searcher of hearts “ Before one flowery season fades and dies,
expects it: he knows the means he Design the blooming wonders of the next.” has put in opération to qualify them
for this labour. And, to say nothing And the commission he gives to the of the disappointed hopes of the works of his bountiful hand in the Christian church; to say nothing vegetable world, is to revive and of the neglected interests of the resuscitate every decayed energy, heathen world; is it nothing to run and repair the threatened waste of counter to the purposes of God, a drooping creation. It is as natural and to misemploy the instruments then to look to the children of reli- which are put into our hands for gious parents who have gone to his work, and “to sow to the flesh” their rest, to fulfil their labours, what was meant to have been “sown and carry on to its final completion to the Spirit ?" their yet unfinished toil, as to ex- The neglect of Christian duty in pect the seeds which have dropped the children of Christian parents is from the falling flowers of autumn far more sinful and inexcusable to rise from the ground in their than in others. Every advantage season, and spread their beauty which the united mercies of Proand fragrance on the spot where the vidence and Grace could impart parent blossoms opened before. will appear in such cases to have
And it is further as desirable as been exhausted on a rebellious and it is natural. It is desirable for the unworthy offspring. Both example very reason that it is justly ex- and precept have invited, exhorted, pected. And by whom is it ex- encouraged them to become “felpected ? The world expects it: for low-labourers,” not only with their with a narrow and censorious spirit parents, but “with God;" and if all does it mark the conduct of the this should prove in vain, how great offspring of the righteous, as it once their ingratitude to their earthly did the conduct of their parentsi parent and their beavenly Father ; and how awful their final condemna- powers of glorifying God, and servtion as “ unprofitable servants !" ing my generation according to his
But while remarks strong as these, will, that, when I am gathered to my approaching, perhaps, to severity, fathers, I may leave some humble seem requisite to rouse the slumber. memorial behind me, that I have not ing attention of many members of lived in vain, and transmit, not only religious families, who are perhaps, unimpaired, but, if possible, greatly as the Scripture emphatically terms improved, the degree of religious it, “ at ease in Zion,” it is a subject knowledge, and the means of peace for rejoicing, that to many others the and joy, which a previous generaduties of the times wear an aspect tion committed to myself.” It was of a very inviting nature. To such in this spirit that the saints of God the present paper will not speak in have ever viewed those who were to too harsh a tone ; for their hearts succeed them when they sank in already beat warmly in the cause death. Witness the dying addresses of God, and would prompt the very of Moses, of Joshua, of David language now suggested. With de- urging the continuance of their light do their elder fellow-Christians people in the ways of the Lord, and hail the disposition of such ; and the renewed devotion of their efforts earnestly do they wish to see them to his glory. Witness the Apostles increasingly ready to step into the so long as they were in this taberunoccupied ranks, from which ca- nacle “stirring up the minds” of sualty, sickness, disease, and death their fellow-Christians to active duty have dislodged one and another of and personal circumspection; to their vigorous and successful pre- “stedfastness," and to an unmovdecessors. The young men and able attachment and unlimited women of this generation should “ abounding in the work of the feel their peculiar position. They Lord.” The danger of supineness are placed, as it were, half way up is always very great, and the tempthat « ladder to the highest hea- tation to it applies very strongly in vens;" on the summit of which, just the case of the children of religious ascending or ascended to their glory, parents. They may rejoice in the are numbers of their advanced and piety of their forefathers; but piety devout forefathers ; and at the foot is not hereditary. Rank may deof which, beneath them, are, let me scend from generation to generatrust, still greater numbers of the tion; honours and wealth may be yet unestablished, but rising, Chris- retained and transmitted ; even tian generation. As they look up physical grace and beauty may be to those who are on the verge of traced successively in the features eternal glory, with one hand they of the parent, the child, and the receive from them the inheritance children of the child again ; but the of their privileges, and the uncom- heavenly lineaments are incommupleted work of Christian love ; while nicable to the offspring, but by that with the other they are to hand them same Divine Spirit which impressdown in all the improved and aug- ed them on the parent : while the mented state of which they are ca- very circumstance that there does pable, to refresh, enlighten, and descend to the children of good elevate a still younger race. “I men a sort of prescription for piety, will remember,” said the Psalmist,“ a good name more to be chosen “ thy name from one generation to than great riches," very much tends another;" words which may not, to increase the difficulty of disenperhaps, be unjustly paraphrased, tangling the real character, as it « I will, by thy Divine blessing, so exists in the sight of God, from that engage in works of Christian use- view of it which is perhaps charitably fulness, so employ my entrusted ta- taken by the religious connexions of lent, so devote all my disposable the parent, who, in their leniency and partial affection for the off- one of the contracting parties. It is spring of their departed friend, may perfectly possible that he may adbe apt to pass on them a more fa- mire the seals of it, exalt its stipuvourable sentence than can be rati- lations, recommend with some powfied either by their own conscience ers of description its prospects and or by the Omniscient Judge. promises to others, and even make
Another circumstance also may some sacrifice to facilitate to them conduce to this supineness. The the approach and possession of its good habits of the parent who, per- benefits, yet all the while forget haps, fought his way through the that his own name is sacramentally world to wealth or eminence, may and visibly affixed to it; that its leave his children in possession of ad- conditions are binding upon him vantages which may induce a relaxa- with the most imperative necessity; tion of diligence and exertion on their and that if these are passed over by part, and at length settle into habits him, however he may be instrumenof absolute indolence and self-indul- tal in conveying to others the lifegence. And although this dege- giving blessings of this covenant, neracy would principally affect the they are all shut for ever against personal condition of the individual himself. and his immediate dependents, yet It is, indeed, a matter of congrait would also naturally impart its tulation with respect to the soporific influence as respects his tion of the new generation with our assigned proportion of labour in those religious charitable institutions, that plans of public utility and benevo- these works of benevolence are not lence which an anxious parent had now to begin, that the ground has hoped to transmit to him as an in- been marked out, and that many of valuable part of his inheritance-an its obstructions have been levelled. heir-loom in his family for ever. But even here arises a danger. If
Again, the labours of Christian we have not to fight the battles of zeal and love may be seen and hese societies, we may forget, in engaged in till they lose most of the peacefulness of their operation, those attractions which arise from the large demands which their purnovelty. And it demands the poses should create on our efforts. We discipline of a mind which bears may slacken our diligence and abate perpetually in its view the great our circumspection, and the enemy results which these labours are de- may take advantage of our slumber signed to consummate, to sustain to scatter his tares over our field; its energies in the midst of circum- and we may awake to discover an stances which all tend to promote adulterated soil, and a mixed and their exhaustion and decay. In this spurious crop. view the children of religious pa
But if all these difficulties are rents, accustomed from their infancy watchfully observed, and vigorously to witness, and share in, a variety counteracted, we shall not have to of pious designs, should be strongly dread the desertion, by one generaon their guard that the absence of tion, of projects of mercy most aunovelty does not check their zeal or spiciously commenced by a former. cause their love to wax cold. Pa True it is, that fluctuation and rents also should take care not to change will continue to characmake either the doctrines or the terize the doings and the very duties of religion irksome to their being of the children of men-but children by over-strained require- it will be but as the change of the ments on their infant energies. solar light; a succession, not an
But the most important part of alteration ; and as “ day unto day these considerations is that which uttereth speech, and night unto affects the individual himself. Re- night sheweth knowledge," so, as ligion is a covenant, and he must be one generation drops its labours of love, and its songs of praise, another phecies and events correspond to will take them up and send them each other; to take the whole of the onward, till
prophecies together, ranging them “ Hills after hills shall catch the flying joy; in their order and connexion, so as Earth roll the rapturous Hosanna round.” to discover those which relate to the
same point, and throw mutual light upon each other ; to examine the
successive steps in the fulfilment of Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer.
a prophecy; to distinguish what is
literal, what is figurative, and what Having, in my two former commu- is spiritual; and to consider which nications, endeavoured to point out of the prophecies have all these rethe great practical usefulness of the ferences, and which have only one prophetic parts of Scripture, and the or more. The intelligent reader of duty of devoting to them a degree our leading systems of interpretaof study and attention suited to their tion, will be able to add to this list relative importance in the word of various other directions of a similar God, and the economy of the Chris. character. But it is obvious that tian dispensation, I venture hum- all these truly useful and excellent bly to propose the following sug- critical rules may be observed, and gestions respecting the frame of a very correct scheme of prophetic mind proper for studying them with interpretation in consequence be spiritual advantage. The literary acquired, without any shadow of rules for reading the prophecies have spiritual benefit to the soul. But been often pointed out and pressed was this barren information the upon the attention of Christian stu- effect intended by the Omniscient dents ; but there are also moral Inditer of prophecy to result from rules not less necessary to be ob- the study of his sacred communicaseryed by those who wish their in- tions to a guilty and perishing world? vestigations to go beyond “the let. Did he give us the prophecies only ter which killeth” to “ the spirit that we might enlarge our knowwhich maketh alive.” It is to be ledge, or gratify our curiosity? As lamented that the study of prophecy suredly not: the prophecies, like all has been too often conducted as a other parts of Scripture, are con merely intellectual exercise, from nected with a far higher object. To which little or no benefit is derived study them aright, we must read to the heart. The current rules them in such a manner as not merely usually laid down for understanding to ascertain their historical drift, Scripture-prophecy are something but to enter into all those moral and of the following kind :—to become spiritual relations which they imply well acquainted with the emblema- or involve ; and in order to do this, tic language of holy writ, particu. the following brief suggestions may larly, the emblematic names given not be unserviceable, as to the frame to Christ, to the church, to parti- and spirit in which they should be cular nations, armies, &c.; to study perused. the analogy of the Bible, so that 1. In studying the prophecies, every interpretation may be con- cherish deep humility and self-diffsistent with the doctrines of salva- dence. The usefulness of such a tion, the revealed plans of the Al- habit of mind will be found even in mighty,and the precepts and maxims an intellectual point of view, since it prescribed for human guidance ; ta will guard the student against those study history, particularly biblical numerous, and often absurd, mis history, in order to acquire a com- takes which arise from pride and petent knowledge of those scenes and self-conceit. Had Swedenborg, or facts to which the prophecies relate, Brothers, or Southcot-not to menand to be able to ascertain what pro, tion less gross instances seriously