Page images

but he could not be justified by the law, which, while it is the strength of sin, makes discovery of it to us, and is the procurer of wrath.

"This Theology, therefore, could serve for no salutary purpose, at that time: such was its dreadful efficacy in convincing man of sin, and consigning him to certain death! This unhappy change, this unfavourable vicissitude of affairs, was introduced by the fault and the infection of sin; which was likewise the cause why the law which was ordained to life and honour,' (Rom. vii. 10,) became fatal and destructive to our race, and the procurer of eternal ignominy. (1.) Other properties, therefore, of the Divine Nature were to be called into action; every one of God's benefits was to be unfolded and explained; mercy, long-suffering, gentleness, patience, and clemency, were to be brought forth out of the repository of his primitive goodness, and their services were to be engaged,-if it was proper for offending man to be reconciled to GOD and re-instated in his favour.-(2.) Other actions were to be exhibited: "A new creation" was to be effected; "a new providence," accommodated in every respect to this new creation, was to be instituted and put in force; "the work of redemption" was to be performed; "remission of sins" was to be obtained; "the loss of righteousness" was to be repaired; "the SPIRIT OF GRACE" was to be asked and obtained; and "lost salvation" restored.-(3.) Another decree was likewise to be framed concerning the salvation of man; and another covenant, a new one,' was to be made with him, 'not according to that former one, because those' who were parties on one side 'had not continued in that covenant:' (Heb. viii. 11,) but, by another and a gracious will, they were to be sanctified' who might be 'consecrated to enter into the Holiest by a new and living way.' (Heb. x. 20.)-All these things were to be prepared and laid down as foundations to the new manifestation.

"Another revelation, therefore, and a different species of Theology, were necessary to make known those properties of the Divine Nature which we have described, and which were most wisely employed in repairing our salvation; to proclaim the actions which were exhibited; and to occupy themselves in explaining that decree and new covenant which we have mentioned.

But since God, the punisher and most righteous avenger of sinners, was either unwilling, or (through the opposition made by the justice and truth which had been originally manifested in the law) was unable to unfold those properties of his nature, to produce those actions, or to make that decree, except by the intervention of a MEDIATOR, in whom, without the least injury to his justice and truth, he might unfold those properties, might perform those actions, might through them produce those necessary benefits, and might

conclude that most gracious decree ;-on this account a MEDIATOR was to be ordained, who, by his blood, might atone for sinners, by his death might expiate the sin of mankind, might reconcile the wicked to God, and might save them from his impending anger; who might set forth and display the mercy, long-suffering, and patience of GOD, might provide eternal redemption, obtain remission of sins, bring in an everlasting righteousness, ask and procure the SPIRIT of grace, confirm the decree of gracious mercy, ratify the new covenant by his blood, recover eternal salvation, and bring to God those that were to be ultimately saved.

"A just and merciful God, therefore, did appoint a MEDIATOR, his beloved SON, JESUS CHRIST. He obediently undertook that office which was imposed on him by the FATHER, and courageously executed it,―nay, he is even now engaged in executing it. He was, therefore, ordained by GoD as the REDEEMER, the SAVIOUR, the KING, and (under GoD,) the HEAD of the heirs of salvation. It would neither have been just nor reasonable, that he who had undergone such vast labours and endured such great sorrows, who had performed so many miracles, and who had obtained through his merits so many benefits for us, should ingloriously remain among us in meanness and obscurity, and should be dismissed by us without honour. It was most equitable, that he should in return be acknowledged, worshipped, and invoked, and that he should receive those grateful thanks which are due to him for his benefits.

"But how shall we be able to adore, worship, and invoke him, unless we believe on him? How can we believe in him, unless we hear of him? And how can we hear concerning him,' except he be revealed to us by the word? (Rom. x. 14.) From this cause, then, arose the necessity of making a revelation concerning JESUS CHRIST; and on this account TWO OBJECTS (that is, GoD and his CHRIST,) are to be placed as a foundation to that Theology which will sufficiently contribute towards the salvation of sinners; according to the saying of our SAVIOUR CHRIST, And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and JESUS CHRIST, whom thou hast sent. (John xvii. 3.) Indeed these two objects are not of such a nature as that the one may be separated from the other, or that the one may be collaterally joined to the other; but the latter of them is, in a proper and suitable manner, subordinate to the former. Here then we have a THEOLOGY, which, from CHRIST, its object, is most rightfully and deservedly termed CHRISTIAN, which is manifested not by THE LAW, but in the earliest ages by promise, and in these latter days by THE GOSPEL which is called that of JESUS CHRIST; 'although the words (CHRISTIAN and LEGAL) are sometimes confounded. But let us consider the union and the subordination of both these objects."

(To be continued.)


To the Editor of the Wesleyan-Methodist


I HAVE noticed in your work different remarks upon the importance of PRAYER FOR THE GENERAL OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. The more the Scriptures are studied, the more will Christians make this the subject of their daily petitions.There are, however, seasons which, in a peculiar manner, call for this duty. One of these is now approaching, that of the Annual Meetings of our various Religious Societies. Whoever reflects upon the circumstances connected with these Meetings,-and considers that Discourses are to be preached in which the whole earth has an interest; that Reports are to be read relating to the affairs of almost every class of benevolent institution; that Speeches are then to be delivered which require the energies of the wisest mind, and the exercise of the most enlarged affections; that persons of different ranks are then to be assembled from all parts of the land, the tone of whose religion is likely to be much influenced by these Meetings:-Whoever reflects upon these and other important circumstances, must feel how highly desirable it is, that the Preachers, the Speakers, the active Officers of the Societies, and the whole assemblies collected at these seasons, should be under the special influences of the HOLY SPIRIT. Indeed it is impossible to calculate the benefits which might arise, if an abundant measure of these gracious influences should be granted to the Annual Meetings which are

intended soon to be held in Dublin, Edinburgh, and London. Permit me, then, through the medium of your valuable work, to draw the attention of the Christian Public to this subject, and to suggest that Heads of Families should bear these Meetings in mind in their family devotions, and that all Christians should do the same in their secret prayers. It is the smallest return we can make to those zealous men who come forward on these occasions, to pray that the Spirit of wisdom and of counsel, the Spirit of fear and of love, may rest upon them; and that they may receive an abundant blessing themselves, and be the favoured instruments of communicating abundant blessings to others. The very thought, that sincere Christians are thus engaged, will animate them in their work, whilst the Meetings themselves will become more interesting from the hope that a peculiar blessing may rest upon them.

I would also take the liberty of suggesting, whether the Clergy and other Ministers might not very advantageously preach upon this subject. There would be something very pleasing in the idea, that previously to these General Meetings, the pulpits throughout our land were inculcating the benefit of prayers for an enlarged measure of these gracious influences. May, then, this spirit of prayer be general. May the LORD arise, and bless our assemblies; and may "they who tarry at home divide the spoil!"


ON THE DISTRIBUTION OF RELIGIOUS TRACTS. THE people to whom the name of Methodist is applied, have been generally distinguished by a spirit of zeal and activity in the cause of religion. This praise has been often


awarded to them by men who have strenuously denied their orthodoxy, and questioned the regularity of their proceedings. To them it is an occasion of rejoicing, that, by the blessing

of God, their "zeal hath provoked very many," and that, at present, various other classes of serious Christians are pursuing with most laudable and exemplary ardour, and with the best success, the career of active benevolence. Happy indeed it is for the cause of Christianity, when its adherents, abstaining from all unholy contentions among themselves, and entering into the spirit of their profession, only stimulate "one another to love and to good works."

Among the various means of promoting the moral and spiritual benefit of men, dictated by pious philanthropy in modern times, that of a regular and systematic distribution of RELIGIOUS TRACTS is entitled to special attention. Just views on this subject were entertained by the venerable Founder of the Methodist Societies, who, through the whole of his laborious and useful life, was eminently diligent and successful in the propagation of evangelical truth among the poor, the ignorant, and the profligate, through the medium of the PRESS. He wrote several Tracts himself, which, for brevity, for perspicuity, and for point, in our humble opinion, are unequalled by the productions of any other pen. This singularly great and useful man employed the Preachers in connexion with him, as his agents, while traversing their extensive Circuits of ministerial labour; and many a careless mind was awakened to a serious concern for salvation, and many a young convert was instructed and edified, by the Tracts which were distributed by those apostolic men. In the humble libraries of the aged Poor, belonging to our Societies in various parts of this kingdom, are found copies of Wesleyan Tracts, both in prose and verse, not of recent date, bound in smail volumes, and bearing indubitable marks of frequent perusal.

We are extremely happy to find, from the communications of many respected Correspondents, that our Preachers and Friends in several circuits, actuated by the spirit of their Fathers, are forming themselves, more generally and systematically than heretofore, into associations for the purpose of diffusing the

blessings of Christianity among the more neglected part of the community, by the dissemination of Religious Tracts. The plan of distribution which appears to be the most efficient, and from which the most valuable results have arisen, is that of dividing a town or neighbourhood into small districts, each of which is committed to the care of one or more Visitors. These important officers, receiving a supply of Tracts from the Committee, go their weekly rounds, in which they call upon every family to whom they can gain access, for the double purpose of collecting the Tracts which were left at the last visitation, and of furnishing a supply of fresh ones in their stead. On these occasions the Visitor has an opportunity of entering into religious conversation with persons to whom he would otherwise never have gained access. Many adult persons, by this means, have been induced to become regular attendants upon the public worship of Almighty GOD, and many neglected children have been rescued from ignorance and vice, by being introduced to SundaySchools. Religious Tracts, indiscriminately given to individuals, may be productive of the most beneficial results to the persons concerned; but a series of such Tracts, lent to families, may be expected to produce benefits upon a much more extensive scale. When a Tract is given to a person of careless habits, there is a danger lest it should be treated with neglect, under an impression that it may be read at "a more convenient season;" but when it is lent only for a given period, such considerations cannot operate. By a regular and systematic loan of Tracts to families, religious knowledge is conveyed to many minds, a spirit of inquiry is excited, and a habit of serious reading and reflection is formed. On the plan of lending Tracts, these benefits are secured with comparatively small expense; and the most salutary effects may be expected to arise from a regular intercourse between truly pious persons and the families of the poor; especially when the object of that intercourse is such as Religious Tract Societies are designed to promote.

Our readers will perceive, that the plan here sketched is an application of the principle of LOCALITY, so admirably illustrated by DR. CHALMERS, to the operations of Tract Societies. To that principle we wish to direct the special attention of the Methodists in all their benevolent efforts to promote the salvation and happiness of their fellow-men: and we trust that the day is not far remote, when Tract Societies, exemplifying that important principle, will be formed in all the circuits of our Connexion, as auxiliaries to the regular exercise of the Christian Ministry. The following extracts of a few of the Letters, lately received, will show what such institutions are doing in various places.

1. From the REV. W. WORTH, of Midsummer-Norton. "The establishment of a Tract Society for this circuit, according to the plan detailed in the Methodist Magazine for May last, has been very beneficial; the Tracts having been generally received with gratitude, and read with avidity. After the times of distribution, much gratification has been derived, from seeing those who had received them, some in their houses, and others at their doors, or in the streets, reading with the most fixed attention. By this means, the congregations in many places are much increased, and several, we have reason to believe, have been led to seek happiness in GoD. The following is one instance of this kind.-J. R. read the Tract, No. 37, and was led to reflect, This woman was converted to GOD, and taken to heaven, before she was thirty years of age. I have lived more than twice that period, and am not converted yet: nay, I have thought nothing about GOD, or my soul; or about what will become of me when I leave the world.' These reflections led him to pray, and to confess and forsake his sins. He came to our chapel, requested admission into our Society, and bids fair to follow the excellent person, of whom he read, to the heavenly


2. From the REV. JAMES GILL, of Maidstone." On Thursday evening, Dec. 27th, 1821, the first Anniversary of our Tract Society was

The Report

held in Maidstone. stated, that from Dec. 7th, 1820, to Dec. 27th, 1821, by weekly loan, 89,440 Tracts had been issued in Maidstone, and 40,924 in the country places of the circuit; making in the year a total of 130,364. Previous to the circulation of these little books, the degraded condition of the lower orders in Maidstone was truly deplorable. Sabbath-breaking, quarrelling, and drunkenness, were some of the most prominent crimes; and though these evils are not destroyed, we hope they have received a check. It is the concurrent testimony of the distributors, that, in many of the districts, a great moral reformation has taken place; the Sabbath is better observed; the Word of God esteemed and read; the ordinances of his house attended; and, in many instances, the Tracts have been made the power of GoD unto the salvation of the soul."

3. From the REV. GEORGE MARSDEN, of Leeds." A little before last Conference, our friends in this town raised a sufficient sum of money to purchase thirty thousand Tracts, which were procured from our BookRoom in London, and a selection made of those which are particularly important, and most calculated to reach the heart. When the Tracts were ready for distribution, a Meeting was called of those who were willing to become distributors; and about seventy pious, active persons, voluntarily offered themselves for that service. The town was divided into thirty-four small Districts, and each division was committed to the care of one, two, or three of the distributors, who were authorized to procure others to assist them when ever it became necessary.

"Each company then received a sufficient number of Tracts for the division to which they belonged, and on the following LORD'S-day entered on their work. In some instances the Districts were again sub-divided, so as to rerder it easy for each person to visit the houses assigned to him as his department. In calling at each door, they requested permission to leave a Tract for perusal, till the next LORD's-day; and, when it was practicable, they entered into conversation

« PreviousContinue »