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On the Collection, made in July, in aid of the Gospel at Home. 435
vising of institutions in a new form to give effect to that feeling, no need of new modes of applying that charity which they are ready to show to the souls of their own countrymen. A vast Home-Missionary System is already in operation around them, and throughout the land; dependant, from year to year, upon their exertions, and capable of indefinite enlargement, as the means shall be provided. In no place does Methodism fill a sphere of action, which does not deeply sweep into the regions of moral destitution, and comprehend a large class of the most ignorant and neglected. In numerous parts of the kingdom, its operation is wholly among such; and, Sir, I cannot think of a spectacle more truly affecting to a benevolent mind than that which the imagination, forming the scene wholly from uncoloured facts, can so easily present to the meditation ;-many hundreds of preachers, travelling and local, constantly employed in teaching and enforcing, faithfully and affectionately, throughout the towns, villages, and hamlets, of our land, the leading truths of doctrinal, experimental, and practical religion; religious societies formed, and distributed under the superintendence of experienced leaders, appointed to instruct, comfort, and guard them, by watchful care and constant exhortation;-these members of society made the instruments of good to others in their families and neighbourhoods; meetings for prayer established, and Sunday-Schools formed ;-while year passes, but, by the blessing of GoD, several thousands of ignorant and vicious persons are instructed, and brought under religious concern, and many dark villages, or districts, are pene trated. With these cheering facts before us, and calculating, first, the direct effects produced by conversion, the saving of souls from death, then the secondary influence upon families and neigbourhoods, and, finally, the impression made, and that with increasing pressure, in conjunction with the religious efforts of others, upon the character of the nation at large;—who does not feel that we are engaged in
a work, at once most charitable and most important, most christian and most patriotic; a work worthy to be consecrated by our daily prayers, and fed by our annual liberalities?
The impressive Address which is now circulated previously to the Collection being made, ought to be well weighed by our friends in general, that they may not only know the particular application of the money, but feel that the July Collection is no common charity. Their COUNTRY is on this occasion brought before them, with its yet vast unchristianized population, the clouds upon its fair horizon, which the light has not yet penetrated,-its corrupt mass, into which the purifying principle has not yet been infused. What is the object? To maintain what is achieved; to push the conquests of truth and righteousness; and to make the sanctifying truth of the Gospel every where known and felt, that "glory may dwell in our land." object so large, our exertions ought to bear commensurate proportion. I think, Sir, the July Collection might be doubled, and that without burthen to any one, could all be led to reflect upon its importance; for as to every one giving "according to his ability," and "as the LORD hath prospered him," I greatly fear whether one in twenty of us could be tried by this rule, and whether this is not a point of practical Christianity to which, generally, we have yet to conform. That we are able as a body to do much more, and consistently with prudence too, for the support of all our Charities, I am fully convinced. None of them need languish; and both our work at home, and our Missions abroad, might be greatly enlarged. What we all want is a system in giving ;-laying by, when we have it, for the Subscription or the Collection when it comes; and avoiding useless expenditures, which alone would far more than keep our private treasury supplied for every call which may be made upon us. And, Sir, if by increasing this Collection we send forth additional Preachers into the benighted parts of our country, and form religious Societies which, like others already existing, may, by the blessing
of God, continue yearly to increase, spreading around them a wider influence, and becoming themselves contributors to this work,-thus filling up our day of life in endeavouring to leave the world better than we found it, and raising up the agents who, after we are removed, shall labour in the same noble and hallowed vocation, I know not a richer satisfaction. O blessed talent of money, whether it be a penny or a pound, confided to
me by the Great Master, if I may so employ it, that it shall not perish amidst the corruptible vanities of sense and imagination, but meet me again in another world, in the widows I have relieved, the sick I have comforted, the children I have instructed, the souls I have led to CHRIST, and in those victories of his Cross which I have had an humble share in promoting!-I am, &c. London, June 12, 1822.
ESSAY ON A DEVOTIONAL SPIRIT.
Ir is matter of wonder, as a powerful writer of the present day has observed, that every idea that rises in our minds should not excite, as its secondary impression, a recollection of the presence of God. Every perception of the senses, every reflection on ourselves, every sensation of pleasure, is so closely connected with his power, or wisdom, or goodness, that it must appear astonishing how these thoughts, reflections, and feelings, can occupy our minds without incessantly reminding us of HIM. The ennobling, the awful, and yet delightful idea of the Great Cause of our being and felicity would doubtless be suggested to our minds by every thing around us, and within us, were man now in the perfection in which he was first created. Without question, this is actually the case among the blessed spirits in heaven. With them there is no moment of forgetfulness as to his presence; no insensibility as to his overflowing goodness towards them; no cessation in the feeling, or in the expression, of the gratitude which they owe.
The devotional frame of mind, which it is the object of this paper to recommend, is nearly allied to the spirit which we have supposed to animate the hosts of heaven. It may indeed be said to be the same; only, as being found in a different residence, it has to combat with the obstructions which this world presents. It is, as good Archbishop LEIGHTON observes, "a tender plant in a strange and unfriendly soil." And yet we have sometimes seen this plant, with all the disadvantages of climate, raised by the grace of GoD to considerable maturity. The spirit of devotion,
like a flame that receives unseen supplies, may burn with unusual brightness even in a damp atmosphere.
To maintain a devotional spirit, it is of the first importance to realize the presence of GOD; or, in the expressive language of Scripture, to "set the LORD always before us." That we are always in his presence, that he is intimately near to us,-no secret emotion of our minds being concealed from him,-is a truth which Revelation teaches, and reason acknowledges. But that this may have an influence upon the heart, something more is requisite than the admission of the abstract truth by our reason.
There is a recollectedness of mind,-a quiet composure of spirit amidst earthly care,-a stillness of the soul, in which the voice of GoD is heard, and the influences of his SPIRIT are cherished. This frame of mind the Christian cannot sufficiently prize. It is by self-recollection that we are enabled not only to say, "Lo, GOD is here," but to feel the impression of the greatness and glory of his infinite perfections; to contemplate them with a feeling in which are mingled pleasure, and surprise, and awe. With mingled emotions of delight and awe, MOSES drew near to the bush that burned in the wilderness. With the same mingled emotions, an angel overshadows his face with his wings.
With these devotional feelings there are to be joined certain devotional acts, which constitute the homage rendered to God by a renewed heart. To be truly devout, is to adore a present DEITY. It is to offer praise, and thus to glorify him. It is, as MR. FLETCHER used to ob
serve, to breathe back again those heavenly and holy purposes which the DIVINE SPIRIT has inspired. This adoration of GOD, and this homage of the heart, are widely different from a kind of sentimental devotion which is the offspring of genius rather than the result of piety. I have often feared, that in some devotional papers, written a century ago by the most elegant writer of that age, there is more evidence that his imagination was impressed with what is sublime in the character of DEITY, than that his heart was right toward Gon. There is, it must be allowed, in the perfections of the unoriginated Cause of all things, every thing calculated to affect the imagination, and to lead to sublime and elevated reflection. It is not, therefore, a subject of wonder, if men whose religious character may be doubtful, should occasionally express admiration on beholding "this great sight." But the adoration of a Christian is not sentimental, nor merely philosophical. The flame of it is kindled from the altar of the Great Sacrifice, and it burns with an intenseness compared with which the sentimental adoration of Deism, or even of philosophical Christianity, is but a painted fire. It is the Cross, the object of the Christian's glorying, by which "the world is crucified to him, and he unto the world." In that habitual gratitude which he feels, and which he expresses either in silent ejaculations or in songs of praise, his liveliest admiration of the divine goodness is excited by his obligations to the Cross of CHRIST.
These acts of grateful adoration are not only proper to the retired Christian, or to the active Christian in his retired moments; but the spirit of devotion is to be carried with us into the world. "Be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long." Let no one doubt whether this be possible. Let no one suppose that it will prove a hinderance to the performance of the duties of life. It is the only way to pass through them with comfort. The promise of perfect peace is given to him whose mind is stayed on GOD. He has learnt the secret of working out his salvation, while he labours for the bread that perishes. The present
world, and the future, have their distinct claims upon his attention; but he has found the means of perfectly harmonizing these distinct claims. With him they are now as the diurnal and annual motions of this globe on which he treads. They both proceed in union. One interrupts not the other. The round of daily duty is inseparably joined with a nobler progress.
As the efficient cause of this devotional frame of mind is the influence of Gon'S SPIRIT, we may observe that nothing can more effectually obstruct it than a dissipation of the thoughts, a "wandering of the soul"* over objects of trifling or momentary importance. With a dissipated mind it will be impossible to attend to the still small voice of that heavenly Monitor, who is ever near to us, to inspire holy resolutions, to warn of danger, or to lend wings to our aspirations after GoD. It is a point of the truest wisdom to welcome, and be thankful for, the influences of the SPIRIT. They must even be sought in fervent and constant prayer. A mind in which devotion is lively, is one that feels its continual and entire dependance upon GoD, and in which prayer, the language of dependance, is unremitting. ought always to pray." under pretence of praying always by internal acts of devotion, stated seasons of prayer must not be neglected. This is an error into which some have fallen, and which experience has soon proved to be an error. fire on the Jewish altar received fresh supplies at stated periods, and it went not out day nor night.
Let us then contemplate the Christian as attaining that devotional spirit which was shown forth in the example of JESUS CHRIST, and which has been exemplified in those who have most nearly followed in his footsteps. There is about such characters something of a dignity which earth cannot impart. Their minds, under the influence of a powerful principle of faith, meet with something in the scenes and occurrences which they witness around them, to remind them of the greatness and goodness of the Being whom they love. For them his beauty shines in
* Eccles. vi. 9.
scenes of loveliness, and his grandeur in scenes of terror. They trace him in the endless diversity of Creation; they see him working in Providence; and they admire and love him for the grace of his Gospel. Their minds, in the contemplation of his perfections, abase themselves in humility; rise in acts of adoration; aspire in flames of love. While the men of worldly ambition, or of worldly pleasure, are daily wearying themselves with very vanity, there is a class of persons whose views are more noble, whose pleasures are more pure, and whose prospects expand to an extent
compared with which the present
THE REMARKABLE CONVERSION OF A YOUNG FEMALE,
[THE following affecting narrative is copied from a Publication, entitled The Annual Monitor for 1822, and chiefly circulated, we believe, among the SOCIETY OF FRIENDS. We agree with the Correspondent who has obliged us by the transmission of it, that an account so instructive deserves to be more generally known; and we earnestly invite to it the attention of the younger Readers of this Magazine. EDITOR.]
H——— G————, of Philadelphia,was a young woman of extraordinary natural endowments, and sweetness of disposition. Her benevolence was proportional to her power of doing good; and cheerfulness of mind, and easy affability, rendered her an object of esteem and affection to most who knew her.
Happy had it been for her, if, in childhood, these gifts of Heaven had been properly cultivated and directed: happy, had they been subjected to the government of that divine principle of light and truth, in the secret of the heart, which is freely given to every one to profit withal, and is the "crown of glory and diadem of beauty." But her aspiring mind could not stoop to the simplicity of truth. She stumbled at the cross, and at that wisdom which is foolishness with men; and "the still small voice" of the teacher sent from Gop was rarely listened to, and
less frequently obeyed. She chose for her companions the gay and the volatile. The books of her choice were novels, plays, romances, and Paine's Age of Reason. The Sacred Volume was seldom opened, save to cavil at some parts of its inspired contents. Thus did her reading embrace the doctrines of infidelity, in all its delusive forms; and her conduct was, without hypocrisy, consonant with her faith. She attended no place for divine worship, but spent many of her precious hours at the theatre and other similar places. Religious characters were seduously avoided, and their friendly admonitions disregarded.
Some years were thus unconcernedly spent, when it pleased her CREATOR to blast her prospects and her health by a consumption. Long did she linger, and long were her old companions and books the exclusive objects of her attention. Her situation excited the sympathy of some who were not ignorant of the deplorable state of her poor soul; but these real friends could find no access to her. The writer of this, however, unburdened his mind to her in a letter, which, he has cause to believe, she condescended to read; and one evening, a few weeks previous to her decease, be called at the house in the hope of being invited into her chamber, but was disappointed.
He inquired of her mother, what
was the state of her daughter's mind, now, in the prospect of hastening dissolution. Her answer was; "she is quite resigned, and willing to die, and says she does not know that she ever did any harm." The friend replied, that if she rested her hopes of happiness on such innocence as this, she would be miserably disappointed; and that unless she felt an interest in CHRIST JESUS, the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, her misery was inevitable; that He alone was the Mediator between GoD and man; and that, no doubt, when she had a proper sight of herself, she would abhor that righteousness in which she now trusted, and in the bitterness of repentance would cry out in language like this, "GoD be merciful to me a sinner!"
The secret operation of the unspeakable grace of the REDEEMER brought about a new state of things in her soul she became seriously concerned to know her true situation ;-requested one who sat by her to bring the Bible, and read it to her;-talked of the awfulness of death and eternity;-asked some questions concerning the SAVIOUR, the object of his mission, birth, sufferings, death, resurrection, &c.;-and grew pensive and sorrowful. Divine light shone, at seasons, on passages of the Holy Scriptures, which now became her only book. She sent for a female minister, to whom she expressed her unworthiness to claim the merits of JESUS, and said: “Dost thou think that such a one as I may hope?" The answer tended to encourage her to hope, provided she trusted in the righteousness of CHRIST alone; and after a solemn pause, the friend knelt in supplication by her bed-side, and was thus the instrument of much consolation to her.
She now, with her whole heart, sought Him whom she had "rejected;" she "mourned because of Him whom she had pierced;" and He mercifully manifested himself to her longing, and almost desponding soul, and therein shed abroad his light and love, whereby she was enabled to testify of his goodness, who "willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he turn from his wickedness and live!"
A few days previous to her dissolution, she sent for the writer of this memoir, who gladly obeyed the summons, and for the first time entered her chamber, where he found her supported in her bed by her father, and surrounded by her weeping relatives. On seeing him, she said:
how did I want to see thee! I knew thou wast always my friend." He replied, that he had felt much interest for her, and was glad of the present interview. "Oh!" said she, I have been eager after knowledge, but have neglected the only true knowledge.' "Yes," answered he, “thou hast neglected the only means of obtaining substantial knowledge, namely, CHRIST JESUS, who is the way, the truth, and the life, and who came to seek and to save, not the righteous, but sinners." "Ah!" replied she, "I have been a sinner, a great sinner; how have I spent my precious time; how have I wasted my talents, which should have been improved to the glory of GoD; and can it be that He forgives such a sinner as I?" On the friend repeating the declaration, "Thy sins and thy iniquities will I remember no more, and observing that his promises are "yea and amen;" she exclaimed, with all the fervour of which her sinking frame was capable, "He is not a man that he should lie, or the son of man that he should repent; is he, dear father ?"-turning her face towards her weeping parent, while love beamed from her languid eyes: "What a dear Saviour!" she added, "is he not, dear friends?"
There was a sweet serenity, which made her emaciated countenance appear lovely; and her endearing expressions to all around her evidenced the change within. A solemn stillness followed, when the writer was bowed in vocal supplication and thanksgiving in her behalf. She shortly after bade him a last farewell, in the mutual expression of a hope to meet again where the tempter cannot enter, where sorrow and sighing shall cease, and we shall no more say, "I am sick."
A very intimate female friend of hers, in whose arms she expired, has favoured the writer with the following interesting particulars