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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 small 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 mansions."
2. From the REV. JAMES GILL, of Maidstone." On Thursday evening, Dec. 27th, 1821, the first Anniversary of our Tract Society was
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
with the family respecting spiritual and eternal concerns. If it was found, on inquiry, that the family were not accustomed to attend any place of worship, the Visitor, in a kind and affectionate manner, stated the necessity of that duty, and invited them to frequent the house of prayer. If the family were poor, an inquiry was made, whether the children attended any Sunday-School; and advice was given according to the answer received. Another subject of inquiry was, whether the family were in possession of a Bible; and measures were immediately taken to supply those who were destitute of that sacred treasure. In some instances, also, the visits afforded material assistance to the operations of the Benevolent or Strangers' Friend Society.
"The Distributors entered on their work with much alacrity, and in a spirit of prayer; and, in most instances, were very cordially received. In some parts of the town, many families were found who never attended any place of worship; many were spending the LORD's-day in indolence; others were cleaning their houses; some were employed in their daily labour; and others, who were shopkeepers, were supplying their customers in the usual way. In such cases, suitable expostulations were affectionately and respectfully addressed to the parties: and, on repeating their usual rounds, the Distributors have seen reason to believe, in several instances, that these
expostulations have not been in vain. Many of the families, whom they found on their first or second visit in sloth and disorder, now present scenes of cleanliness and comfort, and are waiting for the visit of the Distributor. Several of the shops, which usually were kept open for the sale of articles on the Sabbath-day, are now closed. Many who had not been accustomed to attend any place of worship, are become regular hearers of the word of God; and some of them have experienced it to be the power of God to their salvation. -Another advantage of the plan is this; If it be found that there is no Prayer-meeting in any neighbourhood, the case may be represented to the authorized Conductors of the Prayer-meetings, who can take measures for procuring a house for that purpose; and thus the light and influence of religion will be carried to the dwellings of the poor, and many of them, it may be hoped, will be gradually induced to attend the instituted means of grace, and find their way to regular places of public worship and instruction.
"A Meeting is held monthly, for the purpose of inquiring into the manner in which the Districts have been supplied. The Distributors give an account of their progress; and in various instances their reports have been highly interesting, and many very pleasing proofs have been given that the divine blessing accompanies their labours."
OBSERVATIONS ON JOSH. x. 12.
generally agreed that the Hebrew words, un "yna, “in the division of the heavens," point out the sun's place as being in the horizon, rather than in the meridian. This is farther confirmed by the consideration that JOSHUA's reason for wishing such a miracle to be performed, was the desire of the continuance of day, now about to close, in order that he might more fully subdue his enemies. Taking for granted that this was the reason which induced him to put up so extraordinary a petition to GOD, (for as a petition we must understand
it,) the language of the English translation appears quite natural. It may be conceded that it is not quite literal. The Hebrew word,
, here rendered "to stand still," has, for its radical meaning, to be equable, even, level, uniform, &c. Perhaps, the best rendering of the passage under consideration is that of PARKHURST," Sun, remain thou level over Gibeon." This, which is exactly literal, is but a small variation from the present English version, with which all the others agree. Now comes the objector, and tells us that as the sun is stationary, and as
the earth's revolution on its axis is the cause of the apparent motion of the sun, it would have been more proper to have said,-" Earth, stand thou still." To this, it has generally been thought a sufficient answer, that the Sacred Writers speak on these subjects in the language of common life, the language which even the Philosopher uses when he mingles with society. In the most learned Astronomer, it would be a mark of mere pedantry, if he were to refuse to speak of the rising and setting of
the sun, like those with whom he converses. I am aware that the objection has been met on other grounds. Some have contended that the language of JOSHUA was such as a Newtonian Philosopher, of the present day, would have used, if he had been the speaker, and had spoken secundum artem. There is, à priori, a presumption against this opinion, when we consider the uniform language of the Sacred Writers. When speaking of the sun, they always employ those phrases which are common in all languages, to describe his apparent motion in the heavens ;-and I see
reason why the language of JOSHUA should be varied, as we know not that he was under a more immediate inspiration than others of the Sacred Writers when they used the language of common life. It may be much doubted, in fact, whether there be any thing, in the original Hebrew, to support the idea that the language of JOSHUA has a farther reference, than to the continuance of the sun and moon in their relative positions with respect to the earth. The words might indeed
be rendered, as the margin intimates, "Sun, be thou silent, or dumb." But still, nothing is gained. This language can have no meaning when applied to the sun. If it be said that the term, "be silent," must mean "restrain thy influence,"-this is to assume, too gratuitously, that the Hebrew word, 17, may bear that meaning. It is, indeed, used in the but the place should be pointed out sense of "to be still, quiet, silent;" where it occurs with reference to restraining, or ceasing from, the active agency which any agent has previously exerted. If this restraint, or cessation of influence, had been intended, I am inclined to think that there are other Hebrew words which would, more properly, have expressed it. To this philosophical translation there is another objection, which appears to possess great weight, taken from the construction of the words in the original. The Hebrew scholar must judge whether the conclusion drawn from this source be correct. The passage in the original seems to require that the word should be understood as repeated after ;—in other words, that what is spoken to the sun, is to be understood as addressed also to the moon. It is necessary, therefore, in translating the passage, to choose a word which will equally apply to both. So our translators apparently thought, and rendered it accordingly ;-and PARKHURST's amended translation goes on the same principle. But this, if it be a correct view of the construction of the Hebrew, raises an insurmountable objection to the words "restrain thy influence," as applied to the sun; because when we would apply them to the moon also, they are manifestly improper. To this it may be added, that the mention of Gibeon and Ajalon, as places over which the sun and moon then were, seems to fix the character of the mandate given them, and to show that it respected merely their relative position to those places. It must strike the reader, that if the command had been "Sun, restrain thy influence," it would hardly have been added pyaa "1 over Gibeon." Besides, the trans
lation proposed would leave the language of JOSHUA, on the ground of its accordance with the modern philosophy, still defective. Though the influence of the sun were entirely restrained, it does not follow that the diurnal motion of the earth would at once cease. We have no certainty that the rotation of the earth on its axis is caused by the similar rotation which is observed in the sun; but allowing this to be so, such is the velocity of the earth's motion on its axis, that should the influence of the sun be now withheld, I apprehend we should in vain expect the immediate cessation of the earth's motion to follow.
I have candidly stated what appear to me weighty objections against the opinion, that the language of JOSHUA, in the passage referred to, is to be understood as philosophical. That a miracle was wrought, admits of no doubt. That this miracle was effected by means of a cessation of the earth's motion on its axis, is probable. But that the language of JOSHUA referred merely to the appearance of the scene,-to the apparent continuance of the sun above the horizon,-I think both the Hebrew text, and the circumstances of the history, conspire to prove.
ORIGINAL LETTER FROM THE REV. JOHN FLETCHER, OF MADELEY, TO THE REV. JOSEPH BENSON.
Lowestoft, Nov. 21, 1776.
MY DEAR FRIend,
MR. WESLEY having invited me to travel with him to see if change of air, and motion, will be the means of restoring me to a share of my former health, I have accompanied him through Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, and Norfolk; and I hope I am rather better than worse. I find it good to be with this extraordinary servant of GOD: I think his diligence and wisdom are matchless. It is a good school for me;-only I am too old a scholar to make a proficiency. However, let us live to GoD to-day, and trust him for to-morrow: so that whether we are laid up on a sick bed, or in a damp grave, or whether we are yet able to act, we may be able to feel and say,
ON THE TWO SCHOOLS OF PREACHERS IN ICELAND. (From HENDERSON'S "Tour through Iceland:" Introduct. p. 56.) "IN regard to sentiment and style of preaching, the Icelandic Clergy may be divided into two classes; those of the old, and such as are of the new School. The former profess to receive the Bible as an authoritative and obligatory revelation of the will of God, and bow with reverence to its decisions. They do not exalt human reason to be the arbiter of what ought, and what ought not, to be embraced as dogmas of faith; but,
conscious of their own ignorance and proneness to error, they consider it at once their duty and their privilege to believe whatever God has been pleased to communicate in his word. Accordingly, in their Sermons, they insist on the grand distinguishing doctrines of Christianity ;-the total depravity and helplessness of man; the eternal divinity and vicarious atonement of the Son of GOD; the personality and saving influences of