« PreviousContinue »
THINGS WORTH KNOWING. AN EXTRACT FROM THE MEMOIR OF THOMAS BOSTON. In the midst of his public and official labours, Boston watched -sometimes, perhaps, with an unreasonable degree of jealousyover his own soul. He seems, however, amidst many scruples of conscience and many penitential retrospects, to have entertained the persuasion that he was one of the children of God. The following passage on that subject is interesting and instructive. It relates to the year 1709 :
“ Last Lord's day night I had some thoughts as to evidences for heaven, which I resumed this day.
"1. I am content to take Christ for my Prophet-to be taught by Him what is my duty, that I may comply with it. I am conteut to know what is my sin, that I may turn from it; and, by grace, I know something of what it is to make use of Christ as a Prophet in this case, and I desire to learn of Him, as the only Master, what is the will of God, and the mystery of renouncing my own wisdom, which I reckon but weakness and folly.
" 2. I know and am persuaded that I am a lost creature; that justice must be satisfied; that I am not able to satisfy it, nor any creature for me; that Christ is able, and His death and sufferings .are sufficient satisfaction. On this I throw my soul with its full weight. Here is my hope and only confidence.
"My duties, I believe, the best of them, would damn me-sink me to the lowest pit—and must needs be washed in that precious blood, and can have no acceptance with God but through His intercession. I desire to have nothing to do with an absolute God, nor to converse with God, but only through Christ. I am sensible that I have nothing to commend me to God, nor to Christ, that He may take my cause in hand. If He should damn me, He should do me no wrong. But the cord of love is let out, even the covenant in His blood. I accept of it, and at His com.mand lay hold on it and venture. This is faith in spite of devils; and my heart is pleased with the glorious device of man's salvation through Christ, carrying all the praise to free grace, and leaving nothing of it to the creature.
“3. My soul is content of Him for my King; and, though! cannot be free of sin, God Himself knows He would be welcome to make havoc of my lusts, and to make me holy. I know no lust that I would not be content to part with. My will, bound hand and foot, I desire to lay at His feet; and, though it will strive, whether I will or not, I believe whatever God does to me is best done.
6 4. Though afflictions of themselves can be no evidence of the Lord's love, yet, forasmuch as the native product of afflic
tions and strokes from the hand of the Lord is to drive the guilty away from the Lord, when I find it is not so with me, but that I am drawn to God by them, made to kiss the rod, and accept of the punishment of my iniquity, to love God more, and to have more confidence in Him, and kindly thoughts of His way, and find my heart more closely cleaving to Him, I cannot but think such an affliction an evidence of love.
“I have met with many troubles, and the afflictions I have met with have been very remarkable in their circumstances. Often have I seen it, and now once more verified in my lot (1 Cor. iv. 9),
For we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men,' &c.
“Now I am as a weaned child, through grace, in the matter. Let the Lord do what seemeth Him good.”
A NOT UNCOMMON FAULT. A LADY who was present at the commemoration of the Lord's Supper, where Mr. E. Erskine was assisting, was much impressed by his sermon. Having inquired the name of the preacher, she went next Sabbath to his own place of worship to hear him; but there, to her surprise, she felt none of those strong impressions. she experienced in hearing him before. Wondering at this, she called on Mr. Erskine, and, stating the case, asked what he thought might be the reason of such a difference in her feelings. He replied, “ Madam, the reason is this—last Sunday you went to hear Jesus Christ; to-day you have come to hear Ebenezer Erskine.”
SENSE of the guilt of sin may consist with faith of its pardon and forgiveness in the blood of Christ. Godly sorrow may dwell in the same heart, at the same time, with joy in the Holy Ghost ; and groaning after deliverance from the power of sin with a gracious persuasion that sin shall not have dominion over us, because we are not under the law, but under grace.—Dr. Orren.
How zealous an indignation did the Son of God express against the obdurate Pharisees ! “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?” (Matt. xxiii. 33.) They, in despite of all His miracles, the equal expressions of His goodness and power, resisted His authority, blasphemed His Person, and slighted His salvation. Now, though other sins are of an inferior nature and of weaker evidence, yet obstinacy added to them, makes a person unworthy and incapable of mercy. Hence the misery of the damned is without redemption, without hope, without allay for ever.—Bates.
THE DEATH OF AN INFIDEL. THE following extracts are taken from an account printed and circulated by the American Baptist Publication Society :
A youth, who had received a religious education, was sent at sixteen to a university. He was there five years ; and for the whole of that period his conduct was so becoming that he was looked upon as a blessing and ornament to his family. At twenty-one he began to study law. He then formed new acquaintances, and some of these laughed at him for his reverence for religion. At first he would say to them, “Gentlemen, you,
, who pretend to reason, cannot think laughter a conclusive argument. If religion is so absurd as you would have me believe it is, why don't you give me some good reasons against it ?” This some of them would attempt to do. Their endeavours were at first unsuccessful; but the poison by degrees took effect, and at last it tainted him as deeply as it had themselves. He was next received into a society of theirs, which met to lay down rules for pursuing wickedness so skilfully that the law would not be able to take hold of them.
At length he was taken ill, and found that notwithstanding all his precautions) he had not yet shaken off the expectation of another life. This made him break forth in exclamations such as these-" Whence is this war in
breast? What argument is there now to assist me against this matter of fact ? Do I assert that there is no hell, while I feel it in my own bosom ? Am I certain that there is no future retribution, when I feel a present judgment? Do I affirm my soul to be as mortal as my body, when my body languishes, and my soul remains as vigorous as ever ? Wretch that I am, whither shall I flee from this breast? What will become of me?"
One of his old companions, on coming in, said, "How now, brother? Why this melancholy look and posture? What is the matter ?” “The matter !” replied he. “It is that you and your
companions have instilled your principles into me; and that now, when I have most need of comfort, these leave me in confusion and despair. What comfort have you with which to fortify me against the fearful expectations of another life? Are you certain that the soul is material and mortal, and that it will dissolve with the body ?" “So certain," replied the other, " that I venture my whole upon
it.” At this moment a stranger, whom we will call Mr. A-, came into the room. He addressed himself to the sick
and said that, though he was a stranger, yet, having heard of his illness, he thought it his duty to offer to render any service of which he might be capable. “I thank you," said the sick man, “and would desire you to engage that gentleman who sits there, and to prove to him that the soul is not matter, nor mortal.” “ That,” said Mr. A,"is easily proved. Matter is universally allowed to be indifferent to motion or rest. If it be at rest, it will rest to all eternity, unless something else move it; and if it be in motion, it will eternally move, unless something else stop it. Now, you who think that the soul is matter, say that it first moves the animal spirits, that these move the nerves, and these the limbs ; but to say this is to say that matter moves itself, which is absurd, and contrary to the maxim just mentioned ; therefore, the soul is not matter, and, consequently, not liable to be dissolved as matter is.”
The sick gentleman answered only with a groan, and his infidel friend hastened out of the room. Mr. A- was surprised to find that what he had said had such an effect on the sufferer, and desired to know the reason of his discontent. " Alas ! sir," said he, “you have undeceived me, when it is too late. I was afraid of nothing so much as the immortality of the soul. Now that you have assured me of this, you have assured me of hell. You have now sealed my damnation, by giving me an earnest of it-I mean an awakened conscience; one which brings my sins to remembrance, and makes me think of the long catalogue of them, for which I must go and give an account. Oh, apostate wretch, from what hopes art thou fallen !”
Mr. Astood speechless for some time at these expressions, but, as soon as he could recollect himself, said, “Sir, if you are convinced that the soul is immortal, I hope it is for a good end. If you had died ignorant of this fact, you would have been miserably undeceived in another world ; but now you have some time to prepare for your welfare.” He replied, “The convictions which you have awakened are a part of my heavy judgment, for you have given me a sensible horror of my sin, by proving my soul to be immortal. Had I gone straight to hell, in my old opinion, I had endured but one hell, whereas I now feel two. I mean that I not only feel that inexpressible torture which I carry in my breast, but an expectation of I know not what change and yet I dread to die, because the worst will never have an end.'
All this he spoke with so much earnestness, and such an air of horror, as is scarcely to be imagined. Before Mr. A took leave, he wished to pray with the sick gentleman. The latter, with much reluctance, consented. During prayer, he groaned extremely, tossing himself as if he were in the agonies of death. When prayer was over, Mr. A- asked him the reason for this. He answered, “Oh, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God !' If God were not against me, I should not care if all the power and malice of man were joined to engage
me. This is intolerable! inexpressible! Ah! who can dwell with everlasting burnings? Oh, who can stand before Him when He is angry? What stubble can resist that consuming fire ?"
At another time, several of his friends from the country, having received an account of his circumstances, came to visit him
nne of them told him that he and several more of his nations haa come to town on purpose to see him, and were s'ory to find him in so weak a condition as his appearance indicated. He answered, “ I am obliged, in common civility, to thank you all. But who are my relations ? I may properly say that none but the atheist, the reprobate, and all such as do the work of the devil
, are my relations. This little tie of flesh and blood will dissolve in a moment; but the relation I have to the damned is permanent. The same lot, the same place of torment, the same exercises of blasphemy, and the same eternity of horror will be common to
His friends, who had heard that he was distracted, hearing him deliver himself in such terms, were amazed, and began to inquire what it was that made him talk in such a strain. He heard them whispering together, and, imagining the cause, said, “You imagine me to be melancholy or distracted. I wish I were either ; but it is a part of my judgment that I am not. No; my apprehension of persons and things is rather more quick and vigorous than it was when I was in perfect health. Would you be informed why I am become a skeleton in three or four days ? Know, then, that I have despised my Maker, and denied the Redeemer. I have joined myself to the atheist and profane, and continued this. course under many convictions, till my iniquity was ripe for vengeance, and the just judgments of God overtook me. They did so at a time when my false security was the greatest, and the checks of my conscience the least. There is no other name under heaven by which we may be saved but the name of Jesus; and it is this Jesus whom I have reproached, ridiculed, and abused in His members—nay, whom I have induced others to treat in the same manner.”
Having uttered a few sentences more, his voice failed again, and he began to struggle and gasp for breath. He recovered a little, and then, with a groan as dreadful and loud as if he had been more than human, he cried out, “ Oh, the insufferable pangs of hell and damnation !” and expired.
Reader, how different is the lot of those who have Christ for a Refuge, and who are sheltered in Him, safe from the wrath to come!
We pray that the foregoing solemn account may be the means of warning many against the flatteries and lies of those who
y the truth of God's holy Word, which teaching can only leave