Abbildungen der Seite

the employment of laymen, as in the first ages, t?is generally forms a principal article in their reproach.

4. Much of their time was spent in an affectionate inter· course with one another, and in correspondence with other societies. “See how these Christians love,' was the proverbial testimony of Heathens to the character of the Christians; and as to their correspondence, public letters frola one church to another were read at their social, if not public meetings*. It is almost needless to point out how this corresponds with the conduct of the Methodists, who are remarked for their attachment to one another, -- wh» frame numerous societies to support the cause, - who coritspond with exch other from country to country, and from empire to empire throughout the world ; and whose social meetings are often enlivened by reading such correspondence.

It is true, that the Primitive Christians had not the means of extending their correspondence, or of forming societies on the grand scale of the Missionary and Bible Societies; but that i they possessed the spirit of Proselytism to at least an equal degree, is sufficiently evident from their zeal and perseverance under the heaviest persecutions.

5. Our author presumes, that the institution which they preached to others, they conformed to in their own persons, thus entering upon a new and singular course of life;' that is, they practised what they taught; which the Doctor seems to consider as peculiar to the Ancieni in distinction from Modern Christians, - except indeed the Methodists and Moravians, to whom the Doctor very liberally ascribes, the high honour of reviving Primitive Christianity in our own age.

Lastly, The profession of Primitive Christianity exposed its disciples to contempt, to ridicule, to persecution. 'Think what it was to become a Christian at Corint, at Ephesus, at Antioch, or even at Jerusalem! How new, how alien from all their former habits and ideas, and from those of every body about them! What a revolution there must have been of opinions and prejudices to bring the matter to this! Such was it a few years since (whatever be the case now) to become a Methodlist or a Moravian at Bath, at Liverpool, or at London,

with this happy difference, that the laws are not against them. Were that the case, there would be many Plinys (in this part of his character at least) who would not hesitate to persecute, even unto death, those who were so obstinate as to refuse conforming to the religion of the State. is to reproach, slander, and abuse no Heathen priest, orator, or magis. kate, ever-exceeded some imodern Ciergymen and Burris

* King on the Primitive Churci, p. 24.

ters, to say nothing of the prevailing similarity between the lower classes of all ages, who are always ready to persecute the man pointed out to contempt and scorn by their superiors.


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

YOURS to your father, announcing, after a telious passage, your safe arrival in Jamaica, fell accidentally into my hands. Under the impression which some parts of it have left on my mind, you have the following reply. If an attentive perusal of whiat I now write :shall have any good effect, the earnest wish of my heart will be obtained. Your words are, * There is no Sunday kept here.' Pcor young man! art thou east among mere Heathens; or among men who have nothing of Christianity except the name? “There is no Sunday kept here! Has Jamaica then been left out of the number of the highly-favoured isles that have so long waited for God's law? Is there not a copy of it among you? If there be, do the inhabitants, do the legislature, pay no attention to it? Are you entirely deaf, or do you resolve to rebel, when the statutes of Heaven are promulgated? Can you treat with scorn that: authoritative precept so universally binding', 'Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy Can you thus cat your face: against the heavens, having full in your view all the judgnients written in the word of God, that were inflicted on his ancient people for not hallowing his Sabbaths ? Is this your kindness to your best friend? Do ye thus require the Lord ?

There is no Sunday kept here. Ciwwe give you credit? Is not that island a gem in the Pritish crown ? Does it not bow to the sceptre of a Christian, hey, of a Protestant empire? Have British laws concerning the Sabbath no place in your code? -- or, if they have, with the awe of the Supreme, have you cast etf the fear of huren legislators? But how can I believe you, knowing ihat the island is divided into parishes, and provided with churches, wuich are filed with pastors, who have taken upon thiein the cuit of son's ? -- Or, Have these pastors the name, and nothing more? - do they feed them

[ocr errors]

* We abridge.this Leiter from a series of Liters and Essays on Im.. . portant Subjects,’ first published in Scotinad, in the Christian Magazine, and reprinted in a duodecimo volume, by the Rev. Jolin Parker, in 1808,

The Letters and Essays are truly exrellent; and that from which we ex. tract the above, might very usefully be put into the bands of young men who go abroad into the British colonies.

selves with the fat, and clothe themselves with the wool, without giving themselves the least concern about the flock ?

There is no Sunday kept here.' - No Sabbath! No day of rest for religious services! Must I with reluctance give you credit ? Were you aware of this before you took your departure ? Did you make no inquiry into the state of religion in that quarter of the world ? Was your mind so completely pre-occupied with the prospect of gain, as never once to think what you might lose? Did you never read and consider that most interesting question in Matt. xvi. 26, · For what is a man profited, if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul? –or, What shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Could you venture to receive, in exchange for the soul, a plantation and a few slaves, - the whole island, - the 'whole empire, or the whole universe ? O poor exchange!

The flood-gates, then, are set wide open to every kind of impiety, and you are likely to be carried headlong by the torrent. What precept can bind the man who coolly and deliberately tramples on the fourth commandment? Which of these has he not broken, who thus offends in one point? The fear of man and of human laws may have some effect; but I am sure it is not likely that the fear of God will have much inAuence upon him.' The other statutes of God will not be the men of his counsel. He will not search the Scriptures. He vill cast off fear, and restrain prayer before God. 'No Sabbath!'. If you have not a Sabbath here, do you suppose that you shall enjoy one hereafter ? Is it for such that there remaineth a rest, or the keeping of a Sabbath, in Heaven ? Have you no rest from business, or from carnal pleasure, during your short stay in this world? — and is it probable that you will find rest in that which is to come, though you seek it carefully with tears ? What think you will be the end of your fatal career? If you now despise your God and his institutions, where will you look for support in the day of-adversity? Where will you turn for consolation in the day of death? If you laugh aťthe institutions of God, he' will laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh. Prepare to hear these awful words: 'Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish!

“There is no Sabbath kept here.'. This may too generally be the case. Happily, however, it does not apply to every individual in the West Indies. We can inforın you, from this side of the Atlantic, that many thousands of the sable sons of Africa are learning Christ, in spite of all the opposition of Europeans to the introduction and progress of the knowledge of. the way of salvation in that quarter of the world. The day begins to dawn on benighted souls, the means of salvation seem to approach them, whose ears were never before delighted

inded more anchrist, by his own for the buildin

with the joyful sound; while such as once had the means of knowledge, but rejected them, are by the god of this world blinded more and more. May we not indulge the pleasing hope, that thcre Christ, by his own institutions, will, amidst the vreck of souls, collect materials for the building of mercy, in the face of all the enemies of his work, in spite of every weapon formed aşainst Zion? The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this ;' -- and though, now of a long time, Satan may have had his seat in these islands, they, we trust, will yet wait for the law of the Lord. ; You seem to plume yourself a little npon the attendance you have at table: , Tuere is a black boy to every man at dinner." How I envy your slave! how I pity you, in comparison! He is in one sense thy equal; for "God hath made of one blood all nations of men :' he is thy fellow, thy brother. Behold in him thy'own lineaments; for there is nothing in the deeper tinge of the Ethiopian. Thou art a voluntary slave to Satan; he an involuotary one to thee, and to thy master. Which of you then can claim the superiority? You have left a Christian for a Heathen land. The only possible advantage he can have, is the probability of hearing of the Saviour, and of getting his spiritual feiters knocked off. Not, I am afraid, by your instrumentality; but it may be by the word, either read or beard...

You say, 'The white people play at billiards all Sunday, or something else of the kind And is this the exercise of men who were buried with Christ in baption? Is it thus you cominerrorate the resurrection of him, to whose service you were most solemnly devoted? Do you prefer the billiard-table to the Table of the Lorl, to that of the Gospel, and that of the Sacraments? Foolishi men, to prefer that which may arouse all the angry, the tuinultuous passions, to that which alone can allay them all! Oh! impious, to' prefer that in which, though you were sure to gain the largest stake, you can have no true satisfaction to that which can enrich you with peace and joy in time and through eternity! What infatuation to miss in this manner the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus! Are you now the votaries of Mirth? Be assured, sadness will be the result. You play for a dreadful stake inrleed! The soul through eternity is laid in the balance against a trisling and transitory amusement!

The fellowship of these people seems to give you no uncasiness. This is evident from what follows in your letter:

I never was so happy in my lic! ilappy without a Sabbath! -- happy without divine ordinances ! -happy in the midsi, ví dissipation and profanity!-- happy without God, and without liopeia tlie world! This language is not dictated

by the wisdom which is from above. You have not taken your estimate of felicity from the Scriptures of truth: it is drawn under the spirit of darkness and of error. He knows not one ingredient of true happiness' who talks after this sort; and if ever you receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation, looking back on this period of your life, your confession will be, ' Foolish was I, and ignorant; I was as a beast before thee. ::

Before I conclude, permit me to ask, Whether this be the real language of the heart ! On the contrary, does not your heart sometimes for a moment misgive you? Does not conscience sometimes reprove you? Do you not sometimes lament after the Lord ? Does Jerusalem never come into your mind? Do you never think of the places where your fathers praised ? If you do, cherish, O cherish these thoughts! Were you too much neglected in your earlier youth? It is possible to redeem time. Are you deprived of pure ordinances? Then take up your Bible, if you have one. Read, meditate, seek the Lord, listen to his injunctions. He commands all men everywhere to repent, and repentance may not yet be for ever hid from your eyes. Think, O think, that you are accountable to God for every thought, for every word, and for every action that God seeth you, that he compasseth your path and your lying down; and that there is not a word on your tongue but he knoweth it altogether! His eyes are as a fame of fire, running to and fro through the whole earth, beholding the evil and the good. Fix your thoughts on your own depravity ; and if none of Christ's am'assadors announce in your hearing the glad tidings of salvation, through the mediation of the Lord Jesus, listen to these tidings as addressed to you in the written word. This of itself can make you wise unto salvation, when accompanied by the demonstration of the Spirit. How- , ever great your sins, cast yourself on mercy, as it flows through Christ. The greatest sinners have obtained mercy: the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin. Are you surrounded with many and strong temptations ? Commit yourself to him, who can keep you in the hour of temptation. Consider the worth of the soul, the shortness of time, and the importance of your work for eternity. Think on these things always. Consider them especially on that holy day, which is, according to your own information, practically abolislied. That you may obtain mercy of the Lord,--that the Spirit may guide you into all truth, - that he may lead you forth by a right way, - and that your soul may be saved in the day of the Lord, is the earmest prayer of,

Sir, yours, &c.

« ZurückWeiter »