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quoted, proving, that " in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” (Isaiah xxvi. 4.)
But it is essential to observe, that this strength is imparted to those only, who exercise faith in God. The word commonly used in the Old Testament, is, “ trust;" the corresponding term in the New, being “ faith :" but both denote the same thing. Faith is the grace whereby we acknowledge the truth of God's declarations or promises, and whereby we, at the same time, take to ourselves the comfort of his word. Therefore this appeal is not simply to God as our strength; but to him as our strength when we call upon him with believing prayer. To illustrate this, take a single devotional passage from the Psalms: (cxxxviii. 3.) “In the day when I cried, thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.” Here we perceive that it was the prayer of faith by which the Psalmist gained effectual strength from the Most High in the day of his distress. Agreeably to this, the prophet Isaiah has this remarkable expression, in which the Lord thus exhorts every believer; “ Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.” (xxvii. 5.) And the same prophet, in chapter xl. 29 and 31, encourages the Church in the most animating terms to call in faith upon the Lord : “ He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shalt mount up with wings as eagles ; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not
2. To this earnest appeal, we here add our humble plea. We lament before the Lord “ the weakness of our mortal nature;" wbich is such that without God “ we can do no good thing.”
As much as we have to say of the strength of God, so much have we to confess concerning our own weakness. We cannot extol his strength too highly; our own weakness we cannot too deeply deplore. Let à man endeavour (were it only for one day,) perfectly to keep the commandments of God; and he will be sure to discover bis utter inability to do so. Obedience must spring from the heart: but what hearts have we! Unstable as water : full of deceit; desperately wicked!“ We are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves.” Such are the Scripture views of man's condition : and they who are enabled by the light of God's Holy Spirit faithfully to inspect the state of their hearts, know all this to be true.
This mournful condition is here described as being the character of our mortal nature :' that is, of our fallen and corrupt nature, which lies under the curse of sin. The term, mortal (or dying) nature, refers not so much to the decaying state of our bodies, as to the frailty, yea, the spiritual. death of our souls. We have of ourselves no more power to raise ourselves to holiness, than a dead body has to raise itself to life. The two phrases, weakness' and · death,' signify in this relation one and the same thing.' Compare, for instance, these passages : “ When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Rom. v. 6.) “ ( wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” (Rom. vii. 24.) Here our fallen nature is spoken of as being weak and dead. In a word, it is a state of inability to please God : and when we bring this self-abasing, self-renouncing plea before the Lord, it is but an echo of that truth, which our Saviour so plainly stated to his disciples, “ Without me ye can do nothing.” (John xv. 5.)
3. Hereupon we ground our Petition : Grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee both in will and deed.''
To please God is the chief aim and the supreme delight of a regenerate man. And how may we please bim? By obeying him. “ If ye love me, keep my commandments.” This must be, however, the obedience of the heart : not a working for wages, but working from love. · The help of grace' is needed to bring us to this state of mind. The help of unassisted nature might suffice to make us do many things : but, that we may please God with the service of a perfect will, we must have our will constantly renewed and quickened by the Holy Spirit.
Let us remember this in our every prayer, and in our every effort after holiness. When, having first learnt how we ought to walk and to please God, we then strive to abound therein more and more, O let us cry for help to him who “ worketh in us, both to will and to do, of his good pleasure.” (Phil. ii. 13.) The Psalmist's prayer should be ours : “ Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts." (Psalm cxix. 173.) If we trust to ourselves, we shall soon be like Peter sinking in the water. It is only when we lay hold of the hand of our Saviour, that we are enabled like Paul to say, “ I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” (Phil. iv. 13.)
AMERICAN DISTRICT VISITING SOCIETY.
One of the most interesting institutions in Philadelphia, is, “The Union Benevolent Association,” which has taken up a sort of missionary labour among the poor and destitute, who could not be otherwise reached except through the agency of personal visits in their own abodes. Such labours as these are eminently beneficial, where the influence of larger and less active institutions would never be felt at all; and, therefore, in the hope of exciting emulation and imitation in other towns, I think it desirable to transcribe the few following passages from its last report:
The ultimate object of the Association, is to elevate and better the condition of the poor, by inculcating the principles of an efficient morality, and calliog forth, or cherishing in their minds, a spirit of independence and self-estimation, which will produce habits of thoughtfulness, and reliance on their own resources.
• This transformation of character we propose to effect, by the simple agency of plain instruction, and cheering counsel, conveyed through the abodes of the destitute, by the familiar visitation of those more elevated in life; who rendering themselves acquainted with their habits of domestic economy, may, at the same time that they point out the causes of existing depression, strive to teach the way whereby the greatest number of comforts may be obtained at the least possible cost.
* As auxiliaries in promoting so desirable an end, our design embraces the encouragement of new modes of industrious occupation, the collecting and communicating to the labourer a knowledge of situations where he may procure work, and the wages which his exertions will command ; affording him, through the medium of tracts, facilities for obtaining information on practical subjects ; instructing bis wife in the most advantageous employment of her needle, the most frugal manner of providing for her family, and impressing upon her the value of thrift and economy in conducting all her household affairs; urging upon those who may require it, the necessity of giving their children suitable education, and undertaking to place them in schools, where they may obtain it; or, to find situations for those who can be spared from home; and inducing all to lay by, as a resource for the future, such portions of their weekly and monthly income as they can spare, instead of spending it in dissipation or personal gratification.”
The effects produced by the labours of this institution, may be judged of from the following statement extracted from the same source:
. By the reports of the board of managers of the ladies' branch, it appears there have been 2,669 families regularly visited; of whom 1,068 have been relieved ; 89 adults have been furnished with regular employment, and 28 placed at school; 84 children have been put into families, at trades, or sent to sea, and 698 placed at school ; 8 persons have been induced to deposit in the Savings' Fund Bank, 408 in the Fuel Saving Society, and several to place in the hands of the visitors small sums to be applied in the payment of rent. In several instances, families of individuals have been relieved from the inconvenience of debts pressing upon them, and from which they saw no means of freeing themselves ; and that without giving or advancing any money, but simply by prevailing upon them to make a small weekly deposit, saved by economy from their usual earnings.
In some cases of peculiar hardship, it has been found necessary to afford pecuniary aid, in order to prevent the accumulation of distress sinking the unfortunate victim into despondency. When judiciously applied, it not only administers immediate relief, but stimulates to unwearied exertion.
• In some instances, the visitors have found it useful to redeem articles pawned, but to require the payment of the money advanced ; of course without interest. In other cases small sums of money have been lent, to enable poor widows to open shops for the sale of tapes, pins, and needles, &c., or to prevent their being obliged to close such shops already established. The money advanced is paid in small sums weekly or monthly.
The organization and machinery be which the Association effects its objects, is by a division of the city and its suburbs into wards and districts, thus availing themselves of all the advantages of local experience and division of labour ; and this is the language in which the directors speak of this arrangement.
• By assigning to each visitor a small section, within which the attention and labour is limited, the beneficial influence of locality is soon felt, both by those to whom the section is allotted, and to those who reside within it. The former, by becoming familiar with the extent and character of the field in which labour is to be performed, are more likely to prosecute with vigour such improvement as it manifestly requires, especially as they perceive that every day's toil accelerates its accomplishment; while the cordial intercourse which is gradually established, imperceptibly creates a feeling of affectionate interest in the concerns of all with whom they are thus personally associated. On the part of the latter (the visited) it is found that repeated kindly-offered instruction and assistance speedily counteract any distant or unsocial feeling, and soon open a free communication of circumstances and wants, which would have remained unknown, but for these benevolent attentions frequently proffered.
• Example soon lends its aid in inspiring confidence. One family informs its neighbour of disinterested services rendered, or benefits conferred, and these are led to seek counsel and instruction from the same source, until the influence of the advisers is found to pervade the whole location.'
From Buckingham's America.
*** However much we rejoice to hear of the extension of institutions, so calculated to benefit our fellow-creatures, we cannot be insensible to their obvious defects. Good no doubt will result from the efforts of the Philadelphia Union Benevolent Association, but it appears to us deficient 'in two particulars, which we consider especially essential to the well working and efficiency of a District Visiting Society-viz. the clergy being placed at its head, and the greater prominence of religious instruction:
Both defects may be attributed to the state of parties in America, and in this respect we have a great advantage in this country, which being divided into parishes, and each placed under clerical superintendance affords facilities for carrying out the regulations of a District Visiting Society in all their completeness and efficiency, and we trust we shall always see them conducted under the direction of the parochial clergy, and with the design chiefly, but not entirely, of promoting the religious improvement of the people. It is of district visiting so carried out that Bosanquet remarks in his work on the Poor and Christian Almsgiving, p. 373— Some few sparks of reanimation and returning feeling have lately been struck out in the plan of District Visitingthat most successful and wonder-working system, which humanizes and conciliates the poorer classes ; elevates, encourages, stimulates the poor man, and brings a ray of consolation and hope to his dwelling, which never before visited and cheered his despair, his degradation, and destitution; and it teaches the wealthy visitor a better lesson even than to him, and one more deeply needed.'
THE DOCTOR'S NOTE BOOK.
Among my patients in the village was a very stout gentleman about forty years old, who had been favoured with remarkably good health, so much so that he used to boast of his never having taken a dose of physic since he was a child. “I have as good a constitution (he used to say) as any one in the county, and can take my share of a dozen of wine or a gallon of spirits without a head-ache; and show me the man of my weight who can walk, run, or ride across a county with me.
One day after dinner, he had eaten and drunk a vast deal, he observed to me, that he thought he would live to a great age. I inquired, Why? · Because my father was ninety-eight before he died, and my mother eighty-nine ; and I believe, Doctor,' added be, with a kind of jeer, ' neither of them ever took an ounce of physic in their lives, which was one cause of their being so healthy, and it is my determination to follow their example in that respect
* Better to hunt in fields for health unbought,
Eh, Doctor, that makes rather against your trade.'
Now, though I am not a clergyman, I thought it right to say something to a vain self-sufficient boaster like this, who forgot the solemn warning, “ Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; ” whose hope was a spider's web; so, I replied, “The longevity of your parents is no doubt, in your favour, but do not calculate on that, for many diseases or accidents may come upon you this moment ; and of this I am certain, that if you indulge in full living so habitually, you will injure your constitution, and lay the foundation of a train of very distressing ailments; I fear you are abusing the gifts of health and strength which God has given you ; take heed lest he withdraw them. · Pooh,' said he, 'what would life be without enjoyment. I'll live as long as I can, and I'll bet you ten pounds that I shall see half the parish in their graves before my turn arrives; come, fill your glass, Doctor, and don't be croaking; this (looking at a glass of port through the light) is the best physic that a man ever took, and I will never take any other.'
It grieved me to see a poor frail creature, thus priding himself upon his vigour, ungrateful to the Giver of it, and living in a way which threatened to undermine his naturally strong frame, besides endangering his soul's health ; but I could do nothing in this case, except shew by my example that “wine which maketh glad the heart of man,” if taken in moderation, becomes the ruin of soul and body when habitually used in excess.
Mr. Flint, for that was the name of my neighbour, lived very near another gentleman to whom I was obliged to pay a professional visit