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power would be brought to bear on the public mind. Instead of vacillating in neutrality, it would arouse from its torpor; and, once aroused, would decide with energy and promptitude. Were every Christian a politician, and an active one, several situations of responsibility and trust-offices in the public service-would be filled by men whose stern principles, fearing no frown, courting no smile, would be ever impervious to a bribe, and willing to make any personal sacrifice for the general good. Thus a stream of purity would flow in upon many an Augean stable; law would be recognised as justice, or, rather, justice would become law; and the moral aspect of the community, instead of resembling some arid desert, with here and there an oasis, whose very verdure but mocks the surrounding sterilitywould soon become as a flourishing and fruitful Eden, not indeed secure from the access of the tempter-still beautiful and blest.

If the preceding positions are tenable, we perceive how imperative it is on the Christian to enter into the politics of his country. Let us not, however, be misunderstood. We do not say the professor; he who has a name to live, but is dead. Such would be of no more real utility than the worldling It is to the man who has experienced the renewing power of vital godliness, that our remarks primarily, and, indeed, exclusively, refer. Nor, again, do we advocate the neglect of other and paramount duties. The Christian is not his own; he is bought with a price. He is “δοῦλος ̓Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ,” a slave of Jesus Christ. As such, he is at all times the Lord's-in the family, as in the great congregation-in the countinghouse, as in the closet. And the duties of every situation in life are each and equally binding on him, whether as the parent, the husband, the friend, the master, the merchant, or the citizen. He cannot escape from the discharge of any of these relative obligations, without incurring the frown of God's righteous displeasure. Nor, lastly, would we be thought to recommend vain jangling, unseemly and unprofitable disputes, with the idle and uninformed. He is only called to speak when occasion demands; not to hold a logomachy with every wrangler who may cross his path.

We have now contemplated the Christian in a new position. He here stands in another relation to mankind: looking around on his brother-beings, and acknowledging, while he feels, the fraternal tie which binds man to man, he is no longer careless of their privileges, or negligent of their rights; he identifies himself as one of them, and them as part of himself; his heart is susceptive of emotions he was before a stranger to; the tenderest sympathies of his nature are called into play ;

And a new world seems opening to his view
Of blissful visions, bright imaginings,
Creations of young Fancy's ardent thought,
Too pure for mortal, and such loveliness,
That angels might look on, and envy it.
But chief, the bliss of blessing hangs mid-air,
A pendent jewel from the hand of God.
He leaps with bounding step to seize the gem,
And, as the crystal trembles in his grasp,
It melts away, dissolving to a tear!


THE CHRISTIAN STATESMAN.-Pure and unstained religion ought to be the highest of all cares appertaining to public government, as well in regard of that aid and protection, which they who faithfully serve God, confess that they receive at His merciful hands as also the force which religion hath to qualify all sorts of men, and to make them, in public affairs, the more serviceable; governors the apter to rule with conscience; inferiors, for conscience', sake, the willinger to obey. It is no peculiar conceit, but a matter of sound consequence, that all duties are by so much the better performed, by how much more the men are religious--from whose ability the same proceed. For, if the course of politic affairs cannot, in any good sort, go forward, without fit instruments, and that which fitteth them be their virtues, let policy acknowledge itself indebted to religion; godliness being the chiefest top and well-spring of all virtues, even as God is of all good things.' -HOOKER.

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"Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord."-Lamentations iii. 40.

THE great object which the Christian minister should ever keep in view, is the salvation of the soul-that that soul, which sin has polluted, ruined, and made miserable, may be made holy, restored to the favour of God, and be reinstated into that blessedness which man lost by his fall. The Christian minister has other objects of solicitude; he is anxious to inform the sinner's mind, alleviate his sorrows, and contribute to his prosperity in this world; but his main concern is to rescue his soul from perdition; and to the accomplishment of this he makes every thing else subservient. This object he keeps in view in his studies, in his visits, in his letters, in his sermons, in his prayers; for this helives, and in this work of faith, and labour of love, he would persevere until death. This solicitude for the salvation of souls has been expressed by good men in all ages of the world. For instance-v e-we find that it was in Moses, in Jeremiah, in PaulDeuteronomy xxxii. 29; Lamentations iii. 48-50; Romans x. 1. This solicitude for the salvation of souls is highly proper. The hindrances in the way of their salvation, the few who feel this solicitude, the design of the Christian ministry, the necessity of salvation, the miseries of the lost, and the blessedness of being saved-all these considerations sufficiently prove the propriety of this solicitude. That the church may he enlarged, that additional means of usefulness may be furnished to the world, and that the Triune God may be glorified-are objects for which the salvation of souls is so earnestly desired. This solicitude will express itself in a variety of ways. This solicitude will be seen in the manner in which the sinner's danger is exposed, the pains taken to unfold to his mind the means of his escape, and in the earnestness with which his mind is directed to the subject. This solicitude will also be seen in the minister's anxiety to improve every season of the year which is likely to give impressiveness to his address to the sinful children of men. Such a season is afforded by the commencement of a new year. This is a season which ought not to be allowed to pass away unimproved. Tradesmen are accustomed, about this time, to examine into their accounts, that they may ascertain the state of their affairs; and this investigation is highly important, in order that the tradesman may know whether he can meet his demands; that he may know the extent of bis obligations to the Author of all success, and that he may know what he can spare for the cause of Him who gave Himself for his salvation. And so every sinner, blessed with the light of revelation, should, at this season of the year, examine his ways during the past year, that he may know the sins of which he has to repent, the dangers he has to guard against in future, and the mercies which he has gratefully to acknowledge. The resolution which Jeremiah proposed to the Jews in their low estate is well worthy of the adoption of every sinner, especially at the beginning of a new year: "Let us search and try our ways, and turn again unto the Lord."

That this subject may be impressed on our minds, let us consider,

I. The subject of this investigation-" our ways." The ways of a man are either internal or external. The internal ways of a man are the ways of his heart, as the prophet tells us, in the 57th of Isaiah and 17th verse: "He went on frowardly in the way of his heart." The ways of the heart, or our inward ways, refer to our thoughts, affections, intentions, purposes, resolutions, aims, and motives. Our ways are external, as well as internal, and these include all our words and actions. These are the subjects which demand our investigation. We are to examine our ways toward God, toward our families, and toward the world. The sinner should investigate, first, his ways toward God, to whom he owes supreme affection, universal obedience, and constant praise: and then he should investigate his ways toward his family, that he may ascertain if he has faithfully discharged the duties which he owes to the members thereof. Having done this, he should look upon his relatives, neighbours, and upon the world at large, in order to see what he has done to decrease the miseries of his fellow creatures, to promote their salvation, and bring them all to submit to the Prince of Peace. "Let us search and try our ways." The powers of our souls should be examined. The understanding should be examined that we may know the extent of our acquaintance with Divine things-the judgment should he examined, that we may know whether it has decided in favour of the truth as it is in Jesus-the will should be examined, that we may know whether it has chosen God as the soul's all-sufficient portion, or whether it prefers the

vanities of earth-the affections should be examined, that we may know whether they are fixed upon their right object; whether they are centered in God-the memory should be examined, that we may know how much of the truth it retains, and whether it is improved by use. The whole soul should be examined, that we may know whether it has been washed in the blood of Christ, whether the Holy Spirit reigns in it, and whether it is prepared to leave its house of clay when the summons comes. The words of our mouths, as well as the powers of our souls, should be examined into: "The lips of the righteous feed many." Spiritual discourse is like wholesome food; what one is to the body, the other is to the soul. The question, therefore, which we should ask ourselves, is this-Have my words during the past year fed many? Or have my words injured many? What has been the tendency of my conversation in my family, among my servants, and in the world? Have my words been acceptable unto Him, who has said, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."-Matthew xiii. 36, 37. And as the powers of our souls,and the words of our mouths, so the actions of our lives,should be examinedour actions as members of Christian churches, as parents, as children, as masters, as ministers, as deacons, as tradesmen, as servants, as subjects of God's moral government. While there are some ways common to all, yet there are some peculiar to each-these should undergo a careful investigation. The covetous, the passionate, the prodigal, should try his ways. Our ways when afflicted, when provoked, when disappointed, should be tried, that we may ascertain whether they are consistent with the high character we sustain as professing Christians. "Let us search and try our ways."


This leads us to notice,

II. The rule by which this examination should be made. And here we may observe, that our ways should be tried by our vows, by our consciences, and by the Gospel. Our ways should be tried by our vows, Perhaps at the commencement of the year which is now past, or under some solemn sermon, or in the time of some deep affliction, you vowed that you would strive against all sin, that you would pay greater attention to duty, that you would live more fully unto God. Presuming that you made these vows, allow me to ask you if you have fulfilled them? The fulfilment of these good vows is a debt you owe to God, and, until you have paid them, your ways are unjust. Consider the holy vows you have made, and try your ways by them; "When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it, for He hath no pleasure in fools; pay that which thou bast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay."

Our ways should be tried by our consciences. Conscience is the secret testimony of the soul, whereby it approves things that are good, and condemns those that are evil. Have we been faithful to this conscience? Have we avoided the sins which our consciences have condemned as evil, and have we practised the virtues which our consciences have told us are excellent ?—on the contrary, have we not too often acted in opposition to our convictions of what is right, and thus have given God sufficient cause to Hide his face from us? Those ways in which we have walked during the past year should be examined by conscience, and blessed is he who can say, " Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men." Our ways should be examined also by the Word of God. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be throughly furnished unto all good works." From this passage it is plain, that if we are not all God wishes us to be, this does not arise from any defect in the Scriptures-which are a perfect rule of faith and practice-but from our wanderings from this perfect rule. The Bible is replete with instruction-contains all the doctrines which we are to believe, all the precepts we are to obey, and all the motives by which we are to be actuated. This, then, is the Book by which we are to try our ways; our ways are to be tried by all the light it affords-all the assistance it promises, and by all the encouragements it gives. The doctrines we believe should be tried by this rule. Some of the doctrines which the Bible teaches us are the following. That there is one God (Deuteronomy vi. 4); that there are Three Persons in the Godhead (Matthew xxviii. 19); that the perfections of God are these-self-existence, absolute independence, absolute simplicity, infinity, unsuccessive eternity, unchangeableness, infinite knowledge, wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and truth (Psalm cxxxix. 90-Psalm xv.--Exodus xi.-Psalm xi.7-Psalm civ.-1 John i. 5-Malachi iii. 6); that all men are sinners; that Christ is the only Saviour; that there is no salvation without faith in Christ, repentance for sin, and holiness of life; that there is a heaven, a hell, and a future judgment-Epistle to the Romans. These are some of the

doctrines we find in Scripture, and we ought to ask ourselves, Do I believe them all, and act as though I did?' Our practice should be tried by the precepts of God's Word. God commands us to believe in Christ, to love Him supremely, and to do_every thing we do to His glory.-John i. 3, 23; Matthew xxii. 37-40; 1 Corinthians x. 31. The Word of God enjoins a variety of other duties upon us, which it is unnecessary now to mention; all these should be known, and, when known, we should try our ways by them. The motives which influence us ought to be compared with those which the Bible recommends. These should be, love to Christ, the welfare of the whole human family, and the honour of the Three Persons in the Godhead.-2 Corinthians v. 14, 15; 1 John iii. 11-21; Romans xiv. 7-9. The Biblethis is the standard to which we should bring all our sentiments, conduct, and springs of action; "and he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God."

Let us notice,

III. The manner in which this examination should be made. This examination should be impartial. All our ways are to be tried by the test of Scripture, and not only some of them. The covetous man is not to make his covetousness an exception, nor the proud man his pride, nor the passionate man his temper; but we must bring our entire character to this perfect light, and all the blots it discovers must be removed by repentance, reformation, an application to the Fountain opened for sin and uncleanness. Isaiah i. 16-18.

This examination should be close. Unless we enter fully into the subject, many sins will remain undiscovered, and these undiscovered, unrepented, unforsaken sins, will prey on the vitals of our piety, and prevent all growth in grace. When we read a verse in Scripture that warns us of any danger, condemns any sins, urges any virtue, we should pause, consider, try our ways. Merely reading the Scriptures will not do us much good; we must search them, meditate upon them, pray over them-then we shall see in them the errors of our ways, like as David did.-Psalm xix. And this examination should be sincere, as well as impartial. When our ways have been tried by God's Word, and many errors discovered, then we must prove our sincerity by repenting of them, forsaking them, and walking circumspectly in future. "He that covereth his sin shall not prosper, but he that confesseth and forsaketh it, shall find mercy."

IV. This examination is of the greatest importance. The importance of this selfexamination is apparent, if you consider the difficulty of knowing your own statethat the indulgence of sin is incompatible with a state of salvation, and that this is a duty which is enforced by Divine authority. This self-examination is important because of the difficulty of knowing our own state. This difficulty arises from our ignorance, sensuality, pride.—Luke ix. 52–55; Matthew xxvi. 34–35; 1 Corinthians iv. 4. The indulgence of sin is incompatible with a state of salvation. Oh, then, how important to try our ways! The Psalmist, in the 139th Psalm, and in the 23rd and 24th verses, intimates, that if there were any wicked way in him he could not be walking in the way everlasting, and the same solemn truth is taught us in other passages of Scripture. Romans vi. 1; Matthew v. 29, 30; 1 John iii. 3-9. Self-examination is a duty commanded by God, hence cannot be neglected without great peril. The will of the Great Supreme is law, one of His laws is Examine yourselves," who will venture to disobey? This, however, is not a duty merely enjoined by God as the Governor of His intelligent creatures, but also by Him as a kind Friend, who takes a deep interest in our welfare. Then, if we would be wise men, and act as it becomes creatures placed in so responsible a situation, "Let us search and try our ways."

Now let us notice,


V. The advantages of this calm self-examination. This examination would promote our humility, and this would be one great benefit. Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination unto the Lord." This pride is fed by ignorance of ourselves; therefore, if we would have this abominable thing removed, and possess the humble and contrite spirit, let us try our ways.-Job xlii. 5, 6. This examination would induce gratitude. Those who know most of their sins are most grateful to God. Often do they say, with Jeremiah, "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not."

This self-examination would lead to greater watchfulness. Acquaintance with the nature, cause, and consequences of our past errors, would make us careful not to fall into them again. Our dangers must be known in order to be avoided. Reformation would be induced by this examination, and this is a great advantage: "Let us search and try our ways, and turn again unto the Lord." Repentance is a turning to God, and implies a sense of having wandered, desire for reconciliation, and an estimation of God as the

chief good. During the last year we have often wandered from God; let us then begin a new year by a confession of these wanderings, and by a hearty, universal, and imme diate turn to God-God waits to be gracious.

This self-examination will make us set a higher value on the work of Christ, the promises of God, and the aid of the Holy Spirit. These blessings are not sufficiently prized, and the reason is, the error of our ways is not properly seen. Try your ways, and you will feel more deeply than ever the preciousness of Christ, of the promises, and of the Holy Spirit. Then search into your ways. The year upon which you have entered may be the year in which you will die. Oh, then, while salvation is possible, "Search and try your ways, and turn again unto the Lord."



SOLEMN and impressive scenes witnessed during childhood are not easily effaced from the memory. Now, when my hair is somewhat thinned by age, and my limbs totter beneath their burden, I still love to recall by-gone reminiscences, and to trace their effect upon my after life and conduct. Not the least solemn of these are connected with the rites and ceremonies of our venerable church; and since it became my lot to administer those rites to others, I have been wont to compare, as far as it was possible, the conduct of those under my pastoral care with my own, and to draw thence my conclusions as to the best course to be pursued, in leading their minds to a still closer contemplation of Divine things, and a still closer walk with God.

John Pruner, at the period of which I am about to write, was in his fourteenth year. With all the buoyancy of youth, he possessed a mind capable of receiving and retaining impressions of the due importance of personal religion. He had many advantages; living, as he did, with those who endeavoured to walk as becomes Christians. Just at this time I received an intimation from my venerable diocesan, that he was about to hold a confirmation in York; to which I was requested to bring those of my flock who were of sufficiently mature age, and could comply with the directions given in the rubrick. Thenceforward, until the day appointed for the ceremony, at stated evenings, I assembled the candidates to instruct them more fully in the Christian faith, and to explain to them, as familiarly as I was able, the catechism of the Church, which the greater number had already learned in our Sunday school as my readers are aware from my preceding chapter.

Well do I remember, in my own case, with what a beating heart, and an inward tremulousness of spirit, I used to repair to listen to the exhortations of the pious minister, in whose parish I had spent the earlier years of my life; inwardly trusting that, on these occasions, as well as when I should participate in the ordinance itself, such an effect might be produced within me as might deter me from every sinful practice for the time to come. My heart was seeking after happiness. In the world it found but little; nor scarcely expected or desired to do so. Still, when sitting before the altar, forming one of a youthful crowd, listening, apparently, with the most intense interest, to the earnest and affectionate appeals of that minister of God, and with the ten commandments of Jehovah written in characters of gold (to me they appeared then to be almost characters of fire) before my face, my heart was ill at rest. All seemed a dream. To me it wanted the stamp of reality. I longed that my mind and heart should be suitably impressed, but yet longed almost in vain;—almost, but not altogether. A peculiar awe pervaded me; and if I did not then at once find comfort and consolation, the seed, at least, was sowing, and, I trust, has brought forth some fruit.

Let me pass from myself, once more, to my own flock. It was my object to teach all those who presented themselves as candidates for confirmation, that it was not a mere ceremony, without meaning, further than as a custom, common to young

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