صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
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DECEMBER 24, 1836.


BY THE REV. THOMAS PRESTON WRIGHT, M.A. Hackney. THERE is nothing more common than to hear well-disposed persons say, that they would willingly do good, if they had but the talents and abilities for doing it; they, however, can only lament that they have them not, and that therefore it is useless for them to attempt what they cannot succeed in.

Now this excuse has certainly a great shew of humility; but I am constrained to add, that it has nothing more than the shew of it; there is real vanity of heart lurking under it. It is easy to see that the secret motive by which such are actuated is this-they do not choose to improve the one talent, because they have not been honoured with the many; their pride is hurt, because they think that others have been more favoured than themselves; for, in truth, it is not usefulness, but distinction that they aim at.

Every one, be it remembered, has some talent committed to his care; and whether it be much or little, he is expected to make a suitable improvement of it. The parable of the talents may serve to shew this, where all were required to make a proportionate improvement of what was entrusted to their charge from him who had much, much was expected in return; and from him who had but little, little was required: he, however, who had the very least was not excused for burying his talent in the earth, because he ought, and could have made a suitable improvement of it.

Great talents, while they excite the envy





and admiration of mankind, often snare to their possessor; for the very applause which they call forth is calculated to inflate the vanity of the human heart, and consequently it requires no ordinary degree of watchfulness to preserve, under such circumstances, the grace of Christian humility. Hence it is to be feared, that those duties, which serve to display talent, are sometimes ably performed from motives which would not bear a close inspection.

On the other hand, those ordinary, retired, but important duties, which all are bound to discharge, according to their respective spheres, are free from such snares, because, far from attracting general attention, they command no applause, save that of an approving conscience; and for that very reason they are apt to be undervalued and neglected; and for that very reason, too, they are the best tests of Christian character, because they are the most likely to be performed solely on Christian principles.

This subject presents us with one of the many cases in which that saying is verified, "The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." We all of us remember the circumstance of the woman who poured an alabaster-box of ointment upon our Lord (which was but discharging a duty of ordinary courtesy, according to oriental custom), yet our Lord thus strongly commended her for it: "Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this Gospel is preached, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her." Thus an action, which we perhaps in our pride should have overlooked, and which was even blamed at


the time as imprudent by the cautious and the selfish, was pronounced by Him who knows the motives of the heart, worthy of being had in everlasting remembrance; for, insignificant as it was in itself, he saw in it an expression of the grateful feeling of one, who indeed would have gladly done more, but was, at all events, resolved to do what she could.

There are some who neglect ordinary duties, because they have a conceit that they are destined to greater things; and they confidently anticipate that a time will come when they shall be placed in a situation to display their superior abilities. Vain delusion! ast Vain delusion! as if a change of situation would necessarily produce a change of disposition; as if character were formed in a moment, instead of being the result of slowly acquired habits. It is impossible to expose such idle conceits more forcibly than in the words of the reflecting Leighton: "In this," says he, "some deceive themselves; they look upon such a condition as they imagine were fit for them, or such as is in their eye when they look upon others, and they think that if they were such persons, and had such a place, and such power and opportunities, they would do great. matters; and, in the mean time, they neglect that good to which they are called, and which they have, in some measure, power and place to do. This is the roving, sickly humour of our minds, and speaks their weakness,--as sick persons would still change their bed, or posture, or place of abode, thinking to be better. But a staid mind applies itself to the duties of its own station, and seeks to glorify Him who set it there, reverencing his wisdom in disposing of it so. And there is a certainty of a blessed approbation of this conduct. Be thy station never so low, it is not high condition, but much fidelity, that secures it. Thou hast been faithful in little.""

Many, who have neglected the duties of a humble situation, have lived to see the fallacy of their expectations of doing great things in a higher one; for, when at length they have been by Providence called to it, they have found, that though their circumstances are altered, the state of their mind is the same; and as they formerly neglected to improve the few talents, so now they neglect to improve the many. Does any one now really feel that he is not as useful as he might be? Let him not dare to arraign Providence for not raising him to a higher situation, when it is evident, from his remissness in inferior duties, that he is unfit for it; but rather let him call himself to account for not improving the various opportunities of doing good within his reach: nor let him rest satisfied with simply acknowledging that he has been verily

faulty in this matter, or that he will, at some future time, alter his course; but let him now, at once, in his present situation, however humble it may be, do all the good in his power, and he will soon find his means and opportunities of doing it much greater, and more extensive, than he supposed. "For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath."

The importance of conscientiously discharging ordinary duties will be readily perceived from the following considerations: they are the duties which are most frequent in their recurrence, most urgent in their claims, and most conducive to our immediate happi


These duties are the most frequent, for they are of every-day occurrence. If we wait till we have an opportunity of doing some great thing before we care to exert ourselves, we may wait all our life long without a single opportunity offering itself; but if we resolve to attend conscientiously to common duties, we shall enjoy innumerable opportunities of doing good; not a day will pass, not a circumstance will happen, without presenting them.

Now, if he who faithfully improves these opportunities will enjoy the consolatory reflection, so soothing when all other comforts fail, of having frequently benefited both himself and others, how heavily will the sense of innumerable sins of omission press upon him who habitually neglects them!

There is another very serious consideration connected with this view of our subject. It must have a highly dangerous effect upon our moral constitution to be continually resisting the dictates of conscience, which we must do if we despise ordinary duties; for as there can be no doubt that they ought to be performed, if they are neglected, they must be so against the clearest conviction of their obligatory nature. Thus, to resist conscience, is doing it a most fatal injury; for it will at length totally paralyse its controlling power.

But, further, ordinary duties are the most urgent in their claims upon us. The duties, for instance, of affectionate attention to our relatives, of benevolent kindness to our fellow-creatures, and of fidelity in the common concerns of life, press incessantly upon us, they make immediate and unremitted calls upon our attention; and though most of these calls may be trifling in themselves, they are considerable and important in the aggregate. Now, it has sometimes happened, that persons engaged in the duties of public life have overlooked those which

they owe to their families, their attention | has been drawn away from them; in point of fact, they have preferred the more remote to the more immediate duties; and what has been the consequence? Why such families have often been a disgrace to the parent, whose public virtues have attracted public admiration. Nothing can more strikingly shew the urgent claim which these duties have upon us, than the fact, that if they are neglected, even under the most excusable circumstances, they bring their own punishment with them.

It is remarkable that St. Paul, in his most doctrinal epistles-those, for instance, to the Romans and Ephesians-insists most positively and specifically upon the practice of relative duties; indeed, he evidently considers them among the necessary fruits of Christian faith. They have never been more strongly urged than in these words of the apostle: "If any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."

But once more: these duties are the most conducive to our immediate happiness, for there are no others which so directly carry their own reward with them. True, that reward is not of the splendid and imposing kind, which is usually bestowed on great actions; but I believe that it is far more productive of lasting satisfaction: the one is a blaze of glory, which suddenly breaks forth, and as suddenly expires; the other is a genial warmth, which continually administers to our comfort: the former, indeed, may be more coveted; but the latter will be more enjoyed.

He who lays himself out, in a benevolent spirit, to do good to those around him, must be a happy man; for happiness, like light, increases by diffusion. Hence a good man feels his own comforts enhanced by contributing to those of others; for he as it were partakes of them again, in sympathising in the enjoyments of those whom he has made happy.

It is, we well know, within our own circle, amongst our own families and friends, that we first and most naturally seek for happi'ness; and since this is the case, it follows that a conscientious discharge of our duties towards them is the most certain means of producing it for kindness begets kindness; and where persons are so closely connected together, opportunities of expressing reciprocal good-will are sure to be numerous, and consequently may be made to contribute, both largely and directly, to the sum of earthly happiness.

But I am anxious to guard these remarks against misconception. In urging the practice of the minor duties, those of the second


table, I have aimed at shewing, that no Christian ought to despise them; and it should also be added, that no Christian ought to confine himself to them. We should beware of supposing that an external morality, and a general benevolence, is all that is required of Our first duty unquestionably is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and soul, and strength; and then every other duty should be performed as unto the Lord, from the principle of reverence to his commands, and from the constraining motive of love to that Saviour, who has set us the brightest example of benevolence in giving his own life for our salvation.

To the Undergraduates of Cambridge, at their Meeting,
Oct. 31st, 1836.

THE following address from the Rev. Charles Simeon
to the students composing the Undergraduates' Mis-
sionary Association (of which the Rev. W. Carus,
fellow and senior dean of Trinity College, is presi-
dent), was, at his express desire, taken down by me,
from his dictation, on Monday morning, the 31st Oct.
1836, (while lying on his bed without hope of reco-
very,*) with a view to its being read at the meeting of
the association in the evening of the same day. So
calm and collected, so vigorous, I may say, was his
mind throughout, that on reading over to him the
draft of which this is a transcript, no correction what-
ever was found necessary, and it was read by me to
in a low whisper, from his own lips. It was written
the meeting word for word as it was. dictated to me,
with the knowledge that the subject of the conversion
of the Jews would be brought before the Society in
the course of the evening.



I have long wished to address you on this occasion, and since I had no hope of doing it by word of mouth, I have wished to do it through the medium of Mr. Spence, but the weakness that has come upon me incapacitates me for doing it as I could desire. You will, however, excuse my infirmities.

The thing which I wish to bring before you is this;

ought we or ought we not to resemble Almighty God in the things most near and dear to God himself?

It has been the one object of my life to do so, and it is my dying prayer for you that you may do so also.

Now, I ask, what is at this very moment God's view of his ancient people, and his feelings towards them? "I have delivered the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies." (Jerem. xii. 7.)

Are such God's feelings towards them even now? And ought not ours to resemble them? Have we no cause for shame, and sorrow, and contrition, that we have resembled him so little in past times? And has not every one of us cause for shame, and sorrow, and contrition, for his sad want of resemblance to God at this very hour? Yea, for his very contrariety to God

* He died on Sunday, the 13th of November, at a quarter before two o'clock.

+ One of Mr. Simeon's curates.

in this respect? Yes, have we not reason to blush and be confounded before God, when not even a desire for this resemblance has existed in our minds?


Respecting them at this moment also God says, (Rom. xi. 28,) They are beloved for the fathers' sakes;" and have we no sense of shame that there is no correspondence of mind between God and us in that respect?

But God says concerning them, "I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land." (Ezek. xxxvi. 22, 24.)

Now, I ask, let the Jews be ever so insignificant, that we do nothing for their sakes, ought not the glory of God's holy name to be as dear to us as it is to him? Are there no obligations lying upon us on this ground? Have we no cause for shame, and sorrow, and contrition, that these considerations have weighed so little in our minds? Surely, if we felt as we ought, the glory of God, as connected with this subject, should be dear to us, dearer than life itself. But who in this view does not stand self-condemned before God? But let us enter upon another part of the subject. God's design and purpose towards them (Jerem. xxxii. 41), "Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul."

Now, I ask, is this God's state of mind towards them? What, then, should have been ours? But, alas! what are our own? What have they been in times past? What are they at the present moment? Tell me, are we not sadly unlike to God? and should it not be a matter of daily humiliation that we are so ? Yea, should we not all rise at this moment as one man with self-indignation against ourselves, that we are so utterly unlike to God? and so little ardent to resemble him, and to accomplish his will?

Read what is said at Zeph. iii. 17-20: "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden. Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord."

And having read it, ask whether we should not rise to this mind? Can we hope for God's blessing on our own souls, when we have so little regard for the souls of his most dear people, and so little resemblance in ourselves to him respecting them?

I say no more may God speak to all of you with thunder and with love. And may my dying hour be

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THE change in Mr. Walker's religious views, we have seen, had a necessary effect on the whole tone and spirit of his ministrations, whether in or out of the house of God. There was an increase of zeal and of devotedness to the important duties of his office, which was viewed with suspicion. The salvation, and not the applause, of men was the object which he had now deeply at heart. The result, as might have been expected, was the most determined opposition and the most virulent hostility on the part of many of the parishioners of Truro and of the neighbourhood, who formerly courted his society, and who conceived his residence among them as an important acquisition, but who felt that their own worldly conduct was censured by his abstinence from the worldly amusements in which they themselves took so much pleasure. Application was accordingly made to the rector to remove him from the curacy, that the parish might once more enjoy, without disturbance, its former spiritual slumber, and the faithful calls of the now-devoted pastor might be hushed. The rector, says Mr. Sidney, “promised to go to Mr. Walker, and give him notice to quit his charge. He went; but like the Gaul who was sent to the Roman hero to despatch him in prison, retired startled and abashed at his lofty tone and high bearing. When the rector of Truro entered the apartment of his curate, he was received with that elegance and true dignity of manner which was natural to one who had long been the charm of society, and became so embarrassed as to be perfectly unable to enter on the subject of his visit. He at length made some remark which afforded an opportunity of speaking on the ministerial office and character, which Mr. Walker immediately embraced, and entered on the subject with such acuteness of reasoning and solemnity of appeal to his rector, as a fellow-labourer in the Gospel, that he retreated overwhelmed with confusion, and unable to say a word about the intended dismissal. He was in consequence reproached with a breach of his promise, and went a second time to fulfil it. He again retreated without daring to allude to the subject of his visit. He was pressed to go a third time by one of his principal parishioners, but replied 'Do you go and dismiss him, if you can; I cannot. I feel in his presence as if he were a being of a superior order; and am so abashed, that I am uneasy till I can retire.' A short time after this, the rector was taken ill, when he sent for Mr. Walker, entreated his prayers, acknowledged the propriety of his conduct as a minister, and promised him his hearty support if he


Mr. Walker accordingly remained in his cure, and had many most interesting cases of persons brought, by his instrumentality, to a saving knowledge of divine truth. It was, indeed, his lot to bewail the backsliding, the inconsistency, the lukewarmness of many of whom he had good reason to expect better things: still he had much reason for encouragement and for gratitude. An interesting occurrence took place some years after his residence at Truro, when his attention was directed to the religious instruction of a body of soldiers who were quartered there. Of course the soldiers attended divine service; but at first without any serious views of the solemnities in which they were engaged. At length, however, the

solemn appeals of Mr. Walker deeply affected their hearts, and a large number, nearly two hundred and fifty, eagerly sought his instruction. The officers of the regiment were vehemently opposed to this growing spirit of vitality-like the trustees or governors who removed Mr. Conon from the grammar-school, they had a repulsive horror of the inroads of enthusiasm;-and they resolved to put an end to the nuisance. But truth prevailed; a marked change was observable in the whole demeanour of the men; and the officers publicly thanked Mr. Walker for the benefits received from his ministrations. The day that the regiment left Truro was a most affecting one. Many of the soldiers were in tears while they expressed their gratitude to God for the many spiritual blessings they had enjoyed. The office of chaplain in the army or navy is one of incalculable importance. It has its peculiar trials, and they are not inconsiderable; but the faithful, energetic minister, who fills such a situation, will often find much to comfort his heart. Even while, in a spirit of despondency, he looks upon the scene of his ministrations as a barren land, he will there find that the seed of God's word has taken deep root, and is springing up. He will often be cheered by the marked change produced on many, of whom he, at one time, had not a hope that serious impressions could be made upon them. True piety in the army and navy is far more frequently to be met with than is usually imagined.

At the beginning of the year 1754, certain religious societies were formed in Truro, under Mr. Walker's superintendence. Their design was to keep up a spirit of fervent piety, in close connexion with the Established Church. These meetings were strictly under his ministerial control, and, as Mr. Sidney informs us, "he prevented all improper trespass on his province, by reserving to himself the sole performance of the devotional exercises. For this purpose, he drew up what he called the Office of Devotion,' for the weekly meeting. He commenced with reading six appropriate sentences of Scripture, and the Collects of our Church: Prevent us, O Lord;' Blessed Lord, who hath caused all holy Scriptures,' &c.; O God, forasmuch as without thee,' &c. After this, the whole assembly seated themselves, and a portion of the Bible was read, followed by the confession, Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men,' &c. succeeded by the Lord's Prayer, in which they all joined kneeling. This concluded, Mr. Walker alone offered up a prayer composed by himself. It commenced with the Collect, Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made,' &c. and continued in a strain of fervent supplication for help to cultivate the graces and exhibit the conduct recommended in the rules.

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"They next sung a psalm; after which the director, or, in his absence, some person appointed by him, read an instructive treatise, which was followed by a prayer selected for the occasion. The whole assembly, upon rising, stood in silent attention to hear an exhortation to humility, drawn up for the purpose by their minister. After this they sang again, and the director said, It is very meet, right,' &c. adding, therefore with angels and archangels,' &c. in which all united. The director then concluded the meeting with The grace of our Lord,' &c. and all departed in order to their houses.

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"A meeting of serious people thus conducted, upon principles of Church discipline, under the watchful eye and controlling hand of Mr. Walker, could not fail to be productive of most happy results. Their director so well knew how to combine dignity with affection, tenderness with fidelity, and superiority with meekness, that his followers were insensible to the strength of the rein by which he guided them into the paths of duty and knowledge. He was himself a bright example of the Christian virtues and acts of

self-denial enjoined upon his people, and thus obtained a power to restrain or excite them, which no precepts, unaccompanied by actions, could ever have achieved. Powerful objections have frequently been urged against such associations among the serious parishioners of clergymen; and it may be fairly argued that, without able management, their tendency is to produce a greater aggregate of evil than of good. Laymen officiating in the presence of their authorised minister, and endeavouring to rival or eclipse him in prayer; women forgetting the modesty of their sex, and the propriety of their situation, in the enthusiastic utterance of feelings real or imaginary; youths put forward because of a gift, to the destruction of all humility; ignorant and illiterate persons permitted to give vent to unintelligible rhapsodies, exhibit violations of decency and order, such as it is surprising that any leader of a sect should ever have permitted, much less encouraged. That some of the most devoted champions of religion could have looked, as undoubtedly they did, with complacency on such caricatures of its sublimities, only affords a melancholy proof of the tendency of party-spirit to distort the clearest vision. Mr. Walker foresaw and obviated these objectionable results, and so arranged his regulations, that no motive but a desire to gain and do good could well operate with those who asked to be admitted into the Truro classes."

Mr. Walker was by no means constitutionally strong, and his arduous and unwearied labours were obviously doing him serious bodily injury. He persevered, however, instant in season and out of season, intent on the work of his heavenly Master, and sparing neither fatigue of body, nor anxiety of mind. He never was

able, after the 27th of April, 1760, to officiate in the church of Truro. On that day, though unconscious that he should never again speak to his beloved con

* The following rules were those laid down respecting these meetings:"In the single men's society, no women to be admitted. In the married men's, their wives and other women, but no single men. The sole design of this society is to promote real holiness in the heart and life of all who belong to it, in a dependence upon the Divine Power, and the conduct of the Holy Spirit, through our Lord Jesus Christ, to advance and perfect all good in us.

"In order to our being of one heart and one mind, and to prevent whatever may engender strife, as well as to remove all occasion of offence being taken against us, no person be admitted a member of this society, or allowed to continue such, who is a member of any other religious meeting, or follows any other preaching than that of the established ministry in this town. That none be admitted members, but such as are inhabitants here and communicants; and that no person at any time be introduced, but at the request of the director (Mr. Walker).

"That, to prevent confusion, no person be removed from the society but by the director, who shall be present on such occasion; and that any person do apply to him in cases where he judges such removal needful; and that a disorderly carriage, or a proud, contentious, disputing temper (the greatest bane to Christian love and peace), be sufficient ground for such complaint and removal. By a disorderly carriage, we mean not only the commission of gross and scandalous sins, but also what are esteemed matters of little moment in the eyes of the world-such as light use of the words, Lord, God, Jesus, &c. in ordinary con versation, which we cannot but interpret as an evidence of the want of God's presence in the heart; the buying and selling of goods which have not paid custom; the doing needless work on the Lord's day; the frequenting alehouses or taverns without necessary business.

"Considering the sad consequences of vain amusements so generally practised, we do, in charity to the souls of others, as well as to avoid the danger of such things to ourselves, think ourselves obliged to use particular caution, with respect to many of them, however innocent they may be, or are esteemed to be in themselves; such as cards, dancing, clubs for entertainment, playhouses, sports at festivals and parish feasts, and, as much as may be, parish feasts themselves; lest by joining therein, we are a hinderance to ourselves and others.

"That every member do esteem himself peculiarly obliged to live in an inoffensive and orderly manner, to the glory of God and the edification of his neighhours; that he study to advance in himself and others humility and meekness, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, love to God, Gospel repentance, and new obedience, in which Christian edification consists, and not in vain janglings. And that in all his conversation and articles of his faith, he stick close to the plain and obvious sense of Holy Scripture, carefully avoiding all intricate niceties and refinements upon it."

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