« السابقةمتابعة »
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND MAGAZINE.
ever be at liberty again; and I wish I had been brought here twenty years ago for their sake." I rejoice in the knowledge that sentiments like these are felt by, and influence, many.
Thus salutary is the system in awakening a sense of parental negligence, and in creating thoughtfulness on the terrible effects of vicious example. Again, the profligate, who spurned the warnings and slighted the entreat es of affection, in his separation calls to mind the longforgotten precept of the parent, and, with a sorrowful remembrance, he resolves that henceforth it shall be observed *.
In the foregoing remarks I have not represented merely imaginary consequences, or described such resolutions as are lost sight of on the prisoner's release; but with thankfulness I look around on many whose present conduct proves their promises to have been sincere, and their determinations stedfast; whilst most cheering and encouraging is the gratitude expressed by the families of several of these discharged criminals, who, once selfish and inhuman, have by separation and instruction been rendered considerate and kind.
The observations of this chapter may be illustrated by the following extract from a letter written by a prisoner, twenty years of age, to his sister, after he had been five months in prison for a felony. It is inserted rather as a specimen of many than because superior to most:
"Don't fret, my dear sister, about my being here. I cannot help fretting when I think about my usage to my father and mother: when I think about it, it makes me quite ill. I hope God will forgive me: I pray for it night and day from my heart. Instead of fretting about my imprisonment, I ought to thank God for it; for before I came here I was living quite a careless life; neither was God in all my thoughts: all I thought about was ways that lead me towards destruction. Give my respects to my wretched companions, and I hope they will alter their wicked course; for they don't know for a day nor an hour but what they may be cut off. I have seen ny folly, and I hope they may see their folly ; but I should'n't if I had not been in trouble. It is good for me that I have been in trouble. Go to church, my sister, every Sunday; and don't give your mind to going to play-houses and theatres, for that is
*The editor of the United States Gazette," gives the following anecdote, illustrative of that thoughtful affection to which the isolated condition of our prisoners is favourable: "The keeper had moved away from the grate, and we were about to follow, when the prisoner said in a low voice,One word more, if you please. You seem to understand these things. Do the spirits of the departed ever come back to witness the actions and situation of the living ? Many people believe it,' we replied; and the scripture says that there is joy in heaven over a sinner that repenteth on earth. It may, therefore, be true.' may be,' said the man. My poor, poor mother!!' That fearful imprisonment (in the penitentiary we have described) could not touch him; but, when the thought came rushing into his mind that his mother witnessed his situation, his degradation, imprisonment, and sufferings, his heart felt its power, and he bowed before the shrine of that mother's who had watched over him in infancy, and with maternal fondness sought many methods to secure his happiness and welfare." Erroneous as was the idea that a departed saint could be the subject of any painful emotion, yet the error does not detract from the argument that feelings of affection are promoted by separate imprisonment.
no good to you. There are a great many temptations."
I here insert another letter brought for my inspection, whilst correcting the proof-sheet of this work for the press. I may premise that the writer is under sentence of imprisonment for eighteen months, for a felony: both his parents have been convicted-his father many times: three of his brothers are now transported: "February 1st, 1848. "Dear sister,-I take this opportunity of writing these few lines to you, hoping to find you in good health, as it leaves me at present, thank God for it. But that is only the health of the body. But I trust I shall attain to the health of the soul through Jesus Christ, who hath died for sinners; for I am determined by God's grace to forsake my sins, and henceforth to live in obedience to God's commands; for I think this is almost enough to make one hate his own life, much more that which has caused his shame. Have I not cause to lock upon sin with perfect hatred, and one above all; although it is no use to hate one and not others, but that one was the cause of all the others. The particular one is drinking, which brought me very low; and, if you read the following verses, you will see that I have proved them: Prov. xx. 1; Prov. xxiii. 21 and 32; Haggai i. 6; Prov. i. 31; Prov. xiii. 15-21; Prov. xi. 21; Isa. xlviii. 22; Jer. xxii. 21.
And now, my dear sister, seeing I have proved this, I do heartily pray that you will correct your son betimes, and he will give you comfort and joy; for, if you leave him to himself, he will surely cause you shame. But you may say it is nothing to me what you do with your son. But, seeing I have brought disgrace upon you and myself, I desire that you should bring your child up in the fear of God, that he may prove a blessing to you and to himself. I hope my dear mother makes herself as happy as she can concerning me, and I hope she thinks more about the salvation of her soul. And think not, my dear mother, as I heard you once say, that you thought God would not be so severe with those who have so many troubles in this world. But, my dear mother, would like to make you believe a lie; but if you this is a strong delusion of the devil's, and he read the following scriptures you will see that your thoughts cannot stand: Ezek. xviii.; Colos. iii. 25; Mark xvi. 16; Luke xii. 3 and 5; Ps. ix. 17; Ps. xi. 6. This shows us plainly that all who don't repent must suffer the vengeance of Read St. John's gospel, and there eternal fire. you will see that Jesus died for sinners. letter may perhaps displease you; but I have not wrote this to reproach you, but out of pure love to you, knowing that your time is at hand; and I cannot tell how near mine is, for with many tears of sorrow have I wrote this on account of my past folly, and with the determination of amendment. Give my love to Michael and to Hannah: in your next letter please to send me word how she is going on, and how my sister Mary is doing. Good bye, and God bless you; and, if I never see you on earth, it is my earnest prayer to meet you all in heaven.
"I am your affectionate brother,
KEEPING THE HEART:
BY THE REV. J. BULL, M.A.,
Incumbent of St. John's Chapel, Walthamstow. PROVERBS iv. 23.
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."
In the language of the holy scriptures, we must understand by the "heart" all the thoughts and motions of the mind, all those inward principles which influence and regulate our outward conduct. Every person, therefore, who is in the least acquainted with himself, must acknowledge the necessity and importance of attending to this divine injunction of the wise man, as a negligence in respect to this is the source of all those disorders and sins which distract and pollute the world. Let us, then, consider,
I. Why we should keep our hearts with all diligence.
II. How this may be done in the most effectual manner.
I. The reason assigned in the text why we must "keep our heart with all diligence is, "because that out of it are the issues of life." The heart is the first spring of all our actions. According to the state of the heart, whether it be good or bad, as it is properly or improperly disposed, such will be the general tenor of our whole conduct. Thus our Lord said to some of the Jews: "How can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things" (Matt. xii. 34, 35). The heart of man is not good by nature, but is prone to evil." The holy scriptures assure us, that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jer. xvii. 9). It is of itself too much inclined to pursue sensual and earthly objects, but altogether averse from those duties which it owes to God. The apostle writes thus to the Hebrews: "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God" (Heb. iii. 12, 13). The scriptures also speak of "a double heart," "a deep heart, a subtle heart, ""a proud heart, a froward heart," "a stout heart," "a wicked heart," "a rebellious heart" (Psal. xii. 2; Ps. Ixiv. 6; Prov. vii. 10; Ps. ci. 4, 5; Ps. lxxvi. 5; Isa. ix. 9; Prov. xxvi. 23; Jer. v. 23).
The heart, indeed, may be considered as the storehouse of all moral evils, where va
rious impure, covetous, angry, and malicious thoughts are naturally lodged and nursed and brought into action. Our Lord has assured us that "all evil desires and purposes come from within," from the heart, "and defile the man" (Matt. xv. 18-20).
The heart, then, being the repository of so many evils, ever ready to break forth, it is absolutely necessary for us to keep it with all diligence. No wise man would encourage the growth of poisonous and destructive weeds in his grounds; but the lusts and passions which spring up of their own accord in the hearts of men are of a far more deadly and destructive nature. If the corrupt propensities of the heart are suffered to grow; if they are rather fostered than suppressed; if a man will "make provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof," it will not be surprising if he is carried headlong into all kinds of wickedness. If the thoughts and affections of the heart are permitted to run wild, how can we expect anything pure and upright in the tenor of our conduct?
Whence arise covetous practices, pilfering, and stealing? "whence come wars and fightings," envyings and murders? whence proceed impure, unchaste conversation, and all vicious excesses? These all take their rise from the heart, because it is not kept with all diligence, but is suffered to harbour and cherish evil imaginations and desires. When the seeds of disorder and impurity are not checked and rooted up on their first appearance, but are allowed to gain a firm possession in the heart, the consequence is such as might be expected, corrupt affections predominate, and all the faculties of the soul are overrun with destructive vices. Human nature is weak and depraved; and hence the world is so full of wickedness and disorder, as few persons are diligent to keep their own hearts. Mankind too often encourage themselves in wickedness, and willingly fan the flame which they should endeavour to quench.
The proneness of the heart to evil is the very reason why it should be watched over with greater vigilance, and why its motions should be directed into a proper channel. In order that "the issues of life" may be pure and good, we must carefully seek to have the fountain of them cleansed from all impurity. It is a vain thing to expect that "a fountain should send forth at the same place both sweet water and bitter" (James iii. 11). If mankind, then, are constantly throwing poison into the fountain of life, how can they reasonably look for any other than bitter and unwholesome streams? If the heart be not kept as a sacred fountain, it will be liable to be disturbed by a thousand intruders.
The heart may be considered in another view-as the main-spring of all our actions; and, as such, it ought to be kept with all diligence. If the main-spring of this wonderful machine of ours be not kept in due order, how can we expect our inferior faculties to move in a proper manner? When the heart is not directed aright, and is not influenced by the pure love of God and of all goodness, we shall see nothing but confusion and irregularity in all those faculties which depend upon it. One passion and affection will jar with another; and every thing will go wrong, as being out of its place, and not duly balanced. If our reason be buried in sensuality and worldly lusts, the issues or ways of life will be erroneous and extravagant. When the heart of any man is enslaved by evil desires, he must continue a stranger to peace and serenity of mind. Whoever gives up himself to the dominion of impure imaginations and inordinate wishes, and thus becomes laden with iniquities, he must not blame the order of things-he must not say that he is compelled to act in a foolish and wicked manner : "Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then, when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James i. 13-15).
As the heart is by nature treacherous and deceitful, we ought to watch over its motions with the greatest care and solicitude. We must regard it as the seat of desire and affection, and should always exercise much prudence and vigilance; for, if we follow every inclination as it springs up in our hearts, we cannot tell whither we may be carried. An enemy within the citadel will prove more destructive than all the assailants who attack the outer works. Solomon says, in another place: "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool; but whoso walketh wisely shall be delivered" (Prov. xxviii. 26).
In the next place, we ought to watch over our own heart, and should "keep it with all diligence," because we are surrounded by innumerable temptations. The human heart is very prone to that which is evil, and is easily allured by earthly and sensual enjoyments. If the heart be not kept in a proper manner, it will constantly be attracted by the allurements of sin, and will easily be carried away by trifling vanities. The imagination will paint distant and forbidden pleasures in brilliant colours, and the affections will be placed on things below: the powerful enemies of our peace-the world, the flesh,
and the devil-will be constantly enticing our affections after them, and engaging our hearts in their service. Unless we "keep our hearts with all diligence," the fascinating pleasures of time will ensnare us, and the deceitful lusts of the flesh will lead us captive before we are aware of any danger.
If a man allows himself to be dazzled by the perishing objects around him, and suffers his heart to run after its covetousness or any forbidden enjoyments, he may eventually be led to the utmost verge of impiety and profaneness. How frequently have the wisest and best of men been overcome by the vanities and temptations which abound in the world, when they have neglected the keeping of their own hearts, and have not duly restrained its irregular motions and desires! By what means were our first parents allured from their duty, and persuaded to transgress the divine commandment? They suffered their affections to be captivated by a sight of the prohibited fruit, and by a false representation of the advantages which would spring from disobeying the voice of their gracious Creator. Solomon himself also was inattentive to the duty enjoined in the text, when he suffered his foreign wives to entice him into idolatry, and openly to violate the laws of Jehovah, his father's God.
We find, indeed, that there is too close a connection between our hearts and the things which are in the world: we are too apt to be inflamed by the pleasures of sin, which are only for a season; and there are many objects around us, which are very congenial to our fallen nature. Many persons are deluded into an opinion that their pursuits are lawful and innocent, because their hearts are at ease, and because they are merely gratifying their natural propensities. In this manner they are frequently kept in bondage, as the willing slaves of sin, and under the influence of the powers of darkness. There are great numbers who conceive that they may allow their imaginations and thoughts to rove after any object, without restraint, and that for these musings and impure desires they shall never be called to a severe account. They forget that God seeth the heart, and will bring every secret thought into judgment; that "the thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord," and that even "the thought of foolishness is sin." Let us consider,
II. How the heart may be kept in the most secure and effectual manner Solomon says, "Keep thy heart with all diligence," implying that this is a difficult work, and that the dangers are great if it be neglected. Keep thy heart, then, with all circumspection and care. Consider this as a most valu
able treasure, the despoiling of which can never be compensated by any other advantage. The capital of a great kingdom ought to be guarded with the utmost vigilance. Such is the heart in the wonderful system of our earthly frame. The word translated "keep", or guard, is also frequently used with relation to fortified places, such as castles and cities (73). The heart is the centre of motion, and the fountain of life in the body, as to its physical power: the heart, considered in a moral view, is the centre of all the imaginations and desires in the soul. We know that an injury or wound in the material heart may be of fatal consequence to the whole system.
by exercising much self-denial and fervent prayer. No man can keep his heart in proper order, if he remains a stranger to himself, and is unacquainted with his own leading propensities and peculiar disposition. It was with this view that David prayed thus: Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any way of wickedness in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." And again: 'Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer" (Ps. cxxxix. 23, 24; xix. 14). When we properly know the plague of our own heart (1 Kings viii. 38), the weakness and depravity of our nature, we shall be ready to say also, “ Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me:" "Behold, thou requirest truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom" (Ps. li. 6, 10).
Keep thy heart, therefore, with all diligence from the violent and repeated assaults of thy subtil enemies. Keep at a distance from the dangerous company of the ungodly, and from the polluted scenes in which they delight to dwell. How can those persons hope to escape uninjured by the contagion of vice and wickedness, who run into all excess of riot with the We must seek to "be renewed in the spirit men of this world? While he that walketh of our minds, and must put on the new man, with wise men shall be wise," we are assured which after God is created in righteousness and by experience, as well as by the voice of in-true holiness" (Eph. iv. 23, 24). We cannot spiration, that "a companion of fools shall be destroyed" (Prov. xiii. 20).
That which men highly prize they usually guard and keep with the greatest caution. But what possession is so important and valuable as that of "a pure heart and a good conscience"? When evil thoughts, therefore, spring up in our minds, let us endeavour instantly to check them. If we are tempted to look upon any sin with pleasure and delight, we shall be in great danger, and shall soon be overcome by our insidious enemies, if we cease to be vigilant, and to "watch and pray (Matt. xxvi. 41). We must consider well what is the leading propensity of our minds; for every man has some besetting sin or passion, to which he is by nature more especially addicted. Being sensible of our own great infirmities, we ought to watch over them with the utmost circumspection and the most vigilant care. Our spiritual enemies will not fail to direct their assaults to that point where there is the greatest probability of succeeding in their object, and of gaining a victory. Let us not, then, continue asleep in carnal security and thoughtless ease; but let us "watch and be sober, and carefully guard every avenue of our hearts against the intrusion of evil thoughts and polluting imaginations. It was the condemnation of those who lived before the flood that "every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually" (Gen. vi. 5); in consequence of which the earth was universally filled with violence and corruption.
Again: "Keep thy heart with all diligence,"
effectually keep our hearts by our own wisdom and strength; for, if we trust in our own powers, we shall certainly fall. We must pray for effectual grace from above, to change and renew our hearts, and to form them after the image and likeness of God. So long as a man continues in a carnal state, his heart and affections will be entirely occupied by earthly things. But the grace and Spirit of Christ are promised, in order to deliver us from all iniquity, to "purify our hearts by faith" (Acts xv. 9), and to keep them in the fear and love of God, our heavenly Father. We must commit our bodies and souls into his hands, by daily and fervent prayer, that we may "be kept by the power of God through faith unto the salvation which is to be revealed in the last time" (1 Pet. i. 5). We must seek "the shield of faith," and "the breast-plate of righteousness" (Ephes. vi. 16, 17), that our hearts may be defended from all the fiery arrows of our spiritual adversaries.
As the heart is the fountain whence all the issues of life proceed, we must carefully watch over its motions, and must guard against every thing of a defiling and debasing nature.
If we consider the heart as the seat of all our thoughts and desires, we should pray that it may be "directed into the love of God," and may be moved at all times by the purest principles. If we are sincere in these endeavours, we shall carefully study the word of God, and shall treasure it up in our hearts, that we may never sin against him" (Ps. exix. 11), but may always think on those things which are
to enable us
good", and always pray for grace, to carry them into effect. We shall be able by this rule to decide, with some degree of accuracy, what is our own state in the sight of God. If any man is careless about the motions of his own heart; if he gives free scope to every corrupt imagination as it rises within him; if the inward fountain of his heart is constantly sending forth bitter and polluted streams; he may be fully assured that he is still "carnal," and altogether unfit for the kingdom of God. He maintains no serious conflict against his evil propensities: he never bewails his own weakness and depravity; but his heart is completely under the dominion of anger, or malice, or bitterness, or wrath, or envy, or pride, or foolishness, or impurity, or covetousness, or some ungovernable passion. If any of you, my brethren, are in this state, you should be stirred up and exhorted to seek a total renovation of your nature, that your hearts may be the seat of holiness and purity, not of pollution and disorder.
Yet humble and pious Christians have no occasion to be discouraged. Some of you, my brethren, are sorrowing perhaps, because your heart is still hard, and too ready to entertain impure and sinful thoughts. You are greatly burdened with doubts and fears; and you cannot always 66 assure your hearts before God." But did not the apostle Paul feel something of this conflict, when he exclaimed, under a deep sense of his own guilt and depravity, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom. vii. 24). What is the prevailing disposition of your hearts? Do you desire to be "holy as God is holy?" to resemble your divine Redeemer, and actively to glorify him with all your powers? If so, be not cast down, but carefully guard against the first risings of evil thoughts, and "keep your heart with all diligence," by the grace of God, that you may happily enjoy inward freedom, and be always ready to every good word and work.
We have reason to believe that many foolish, blasphemous, and impure thoughts and imaginations are injected into our minds by our spiritual adversaries. But, so long as we truly "abhor these vain thoughts" and evil imaginations, we may humbly trust that they shall not materially hurt us. These have been the burden of the children of God in every age of the world. Let us then carefully endeavour to have every evil propensity removed from our hearts, and "that every thought may be brought into subjection to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. x. 5): "Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God" (Matt. v. 8).
THE PRISONER'S FRIEND*.
"I love poverty because Christ loved it. I love property because it affords the means of aiding the needy."-PASCAL. SARAH MARTIN, of Yarmouth, born in June 1791, was the daughter of a village tradesman. Losing both parents at an unusually early age, she was brought up under the care of a widowed grandmother a sincere and lowly Christian. Far from sharing her aged relative's views, the orphan early evinced a perfect loathing for religion and every obiect connected with it. The bible she hated, would not remain where it was read; and two copies of the holy scriptures which had belonged to her mother, she hid, in order her of God. that no object which met her eye might remind
These perverted feelings swayed her till nineteen, when happily her views underwent a decided and enduring change. Thenceforth her daily and paramount desire was how she could best be useful to others, and speed upon this earth
the cause of God.
thoughts often reverted to the condition of its Frequently passing the gaol at Yarmouth, her wretched inmates; to their varied offences; to their exclusion from society, whose rights they had violated; to their want of scriptural instruction-for at that time there was no divine wor
ship in the prison on the Lord's day, nor any respect paid to it-and also to their need of scriptural consolation, which alone could meet their unhappy circumstances.
After deep deliberation she resolved to make the gaol the point to which her instructions, prayers, and energies should be mainly directed, and in August 1819 commenced her scriptural readings at the prison, which, down to April 1841 -two and twenty years-she unceasingly carried on, without the slightest remuneration, pecuniary acknowledgment, or reward.
For the first few months she merely made a short visit every sabbath to read the scriptures to the prisoners; but soon finding that mere sabbath instruction was insufficient for the objects prisoners in reading and writing, this self-denying she had in view, and determining to instruct the woman resolutely gave up one day in the week
from her business-she was a dress-maker-in order that she might have greater facilities for her work of consolation and reformation.
How it was carried out and blest will appear Williams, prison inspector. In his second report, from the parliamentary reports of captain W. I. P. 69, the following entry occurs:
"MORAL AND RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION.-The corporation provide nothing for the instruction of the prisoners. The hon. and rev. Mr. Pellew, perpetual curate of St. Nicholas, receives a salary of £40 per annum, as chaplain to the corporation; which, however, has no relation to the prison, where he volunteers his attendance to perform one service on a Sunday. With respect to this branch of my inquiry the particulars are of
From "The Closing Scene." London: Longmans, 1848 We insert one more extract from a book we have heretofore recommended.-Ev.