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every opponent of every description that was not absolutely beneath criticism, I must say a few parting words to yourself, Mr. Editor. In your number for October last, page 620, you represent me as being at issue with Bishop Horsley on the double sense of prophecy. You are mistaken: I perfectly accord with I asserted, indeed, and do still assert (what his Lordship never denied), that the several links of a chronological prophecy, such (for instance) as those of Daniel and St. John, are incapable of a double completion: but, with respect to chronological prophecies, I expreasly maintain their frequent double sense. My opinion is fully stated in the preface to my Dissertation on the 1260 Years, and in the second edition of my work on the Restoration of the Jews, vol. i. p. 109-113.


For the Christian Observer.

"Celestes implorat aquas doctâ prece blandus,

Avertit morbos, metuenda pericula pellit, bapetrat et pacem, et locupletem frugibus



AMIDST the multiplicity of events, which diversify human life, nothing, perhaps, so much conduces to render impressions respecting them permanent, as to give to them, as they occur, an air of dignity and importance. Upon an opinion of this kind are, undoubtedly, founded the festivals and convivial associations, which, in honour of some exemplary act of patriotism, some signal achievement of heroism, or some amiable instance of benevolence, men are not unfrequently invited to countenance. On these Occasions all being unanimous, by previously knowing what topics of conversation will chiefly prevail, impressions are fixed, which no lapse of years can erase, and sentiMents imparted, which every sucCHLIST, OBSERV. No. 110.

ceeding anniversary does but the more confirm. Those, indeed, who are present, glow with so much ardour, are so correct in describing the principles upon which the object of their conviviality acted, and so earnestly express their desires to imitate his example, that, were they always conducted with decorum, and with less subserviency to the animal appetites, it might answer a good purpose, if such occasions were more generally commiemorated.

The Christian, however, may derive a suggestion from hence, which, if duly adopted, cannot but be attended both to himself and family with impressions far more profitable. Let him, when an event occurs, in which his family will be interested, add to the periods of family worship something commemorative of that event, and set apart the day as a' season of thanksgiving or humiliation, as the circumstance shall hap-' pen to be joyous or afflictive. Such an addition will direct the attention to an over-ruling Providence: not to say, that it will serve, on the one hand, to alleviate sorrow, and, on the other, to temper the ebullitions of joy. Engagements, in which God cannot, with consistency, be appealed to, it is unbecoming a Christian to sanction by his presence, or to connive at it by his silence; a remark which applies equally to the most trivial and the most momentous. The very hesi tation, indeed, to invoke a divine blessing, seems to indicate that they are repugnant to the spirit of Christianity.

It must be acknowledged, nevertheless, that Christianity was never intended to suppress those feelings and expressions of joy which certain occurrences are apt to occasion. Those who affect to discover in it arguments favouring such an idea, greatly misunderstand its spirit. In fact, as human affections, if left to the guidance of nature, degenerate into the extremes of folly and ab surdity, so Christianity was pro


mulged the more effectually to restrain and regulate them. Instances may be recollected, where, owing to a deficiency of Christian principles, occasions of joy have led men to transports which have far exceeded all the boundaries of reason and propriety; and circumstances of affliction have rendered them insensible to all the active duties of life, so as ultimately to have occasioned a premature dissolution. With the deficiency alluded to, it is a certain truth that prosperity and adversity are equally dangerous; happy and unhappy events equally calculated to disorder the affections. On the contrary, where Christianity has its proper and predominating influence, a man knows how to act a becoming part under every fate. He seeks out and seizes upon the events*, with which this mortal state of existence abounds, and adapts them to some purpose of edification. Those, even, which in appearance afford the least prospect, and from which it seems difficult to derive any thing worthy of notice, he so adjusts and improves as to give impressions, that greatly tend to "build up in their most holy calling" both himself and all, over whom he has authority. Such a man, strictly speaking, acts under the conviction, that he is in the presence of an Almighty Being, to whose eye nothing is more agreeable than a due improvement of the vicissitudes which his Providence has ordained: and hence, after the example of an apostle, who knew when to rejoice, and when to be sorrowful,-who, even when in bonds, enjoyed a mind serene and composed, he inculcates on his family, that "all things work together for good to them that love God." That equanimity and peace should be the recompence of this judicious improvement of events, is not to be wondered at. The soul is hereby directed to a frequent contemplation of that happy re


Tempora queram, Hor.

gion, from whence it emanated, and of the joys of which it has some grateful foretastes. With the poet it may be exclaimed:

"Happy the man, who sees a God employed

In all the good and ill, that chequer life! Resolving all events, with their effects And manifold results, into the will And arbitration wise of the Supreme!" But men who act on no religious principles, cannot experience these happy sensations. It is impossible. And though those objects, which are denominated earthly pleasures, are eagerly pursued, because they dissipate consideration, draw the attention from the evils of life, and serve, in some measure, to beguile tedious moments; yet they will not bear to be reflected on. How far, therefore, a gratification, which will not bear a serious retrospect, is proper and worthy the pursuit of an immortal spirit, shall be left to the decision of conscience. Men by these pleasures can never be seriously said to improve events, but to kill time. Pleas, it is true, of recreation, improvement, and innohowever, are more specious than cence, are usually offered; which, solid, and more the dictates of a carnal propensity, than warranted by any useful purpose. pleasures in question entirely in nocent, and their object, in reality, the recreation of the body, or the improvement of the mind, they would go in unison with religion. Whereas, it is notorious that religion is considered as intrusive on them, and as invading a sphere altogether incompatible with its di vine original. An argument this, may be lawfully occupied with enwhich evidently supposes, that man gagements in which religion has

no concern.

Were the

But if the rule of the all to the glory of God," be alapostle, "Whatsoever ye do, do lowed to possess any authority, the argument loses all its weight. Let this rule be strictly applied to the

Cowper's Task,

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pleasures, which so many men are pursuing, and which, as they pretend, are often suggested by the passing incidents of life; and it will in most cases be found, that their conduct cannot be defended.

But so far from dispensing with religion for some short period only by this disunion, and afterwards at a proper season prosecuting it with greater alacrity, for this is implied, the mind becomes disposed to reject it altogether.

"To every thing there is a season," says Solomon," and a time to every purpose under the heaven." From hence it is taken for granted, because Solomon is inculcating an economy of time, and shewing, that by a proper disposition and admiaistration of it there is enough for every laudable purpose; that, therefore, there is one season, when religion may be entertained, and another, when it would be improper. But can any interpretation be more lax and distorted? To confound or associate dissimilar pursuits in our worklly affairs, would promote the success of none would, indeed, tend to derange and render abortive all: a truth this well known to the most superficial understanding. But, as the most well known and undeniable truths would generally fail, through the disinclination of the mind to what is good, to produce their intended effects, a simple re petition of them, accompanied by a few appropriate examples, has always been deemed sufficient to rescue them from oblivion, and, in men not completely abandoned, to revive a sense of duty. Aware of the sad effects to families from a mal-administration of their affairs, Solomon undertakes the office of an economist, and in this character is supposed to enforce the contested words. To every thing," says he, "there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to

break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." Will it still be contested, that in all these cases religion is unseasonable, and cannot properly be entertained? The argument evi dently hinges on the fallacy, that religion has less to do with principles than with actions. But what is really the object of religion? Is it not to make us " wise unto salvation"-to "teach us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world?" And does not the attainment of this object imply, that principles, conso nant to the will of God, are im planted in the heart, which actuate and pervade a man's whole con duct? Hence, truly, it happens, when a Christian plants or builds, mourns or rejoices, or whatever he does, that it is "only in the Lord." Upon this principle is founded our constitution both in church and state. At the coronation of our monarchs, on the anniversaries of their birth-days, on days of rejoic ing for victory over enemies, on the session of the high court of parliament, on promotion to offices of state, &c., the attention is directed, in the first place, by some religious ceremony, to the King of kings and Lord of lords. We are hereby led to acknowledge that Divine Providence, which superintends and regulates all sublunary affairs; and even by such acknowledgment tacitly pledge ourselves to maintain throughout our conduct the purity and consistency of the Christian character. By endeavouring, there fore, to sever conduct from princi ples; or, in other words, by affirm ing that a temporary absence of religion, while celebrating any joyful event, or engaged in any worldly affair, tends to a more zealous prac tice of it in retirement, or during the Sabbath-its proper season; we espouse a tenet unknown to revelation, and equally unknown to our venerable constitution. This tenet

flatters human pride at the expense of religious improvement; nay, renders the mind, as has been intimated, altogether indisposed to religion.

Examine well the man, who seems desirous to serve both God and his carnal appetites; and our Saviour's declaration, that we can not serve two masters, will receive a striking confirmation

It is generally understood, that action is the proper index of disposition; and that a certain uniformity must pervade a man to entitle him to the praise of consistency. No conclusion, therefore, unfavourable to him, ought to be drawn from a few accidental circumstances. As long as the trait, which is supposed to mark his disposition, is prominent and conspicuous, these should be regarded as contrary to his inclinations, or as the effect of some unguarded moment. Now, if the conduct of the man of the world be observed, it may be collected, what is his disposition, and what the object which principally en grosses his thoughts. See this man, then, in company with chosen friends, celebrating a national festivity! Good humour and gaiety are the order of the day. Observe the alterations of his countenance, and you cannot, for one instant, doubt of his loyalty and "love of country." When the machinations of enemies are described, indignation agitates his bosom;-when the excellencies of the constitution are expatiated upon, he expresses his feelings in bursts of admiration; and when the mild character of his sovereign is pourtrayed, his tongue falters, and the tear of affection rolls from his eyes. In this manner be improves a national event. And yet this man may be notcriously defective in those duties,

which characterise the Christian. He may not even blush to add to his store by means the most sordid and mercenary.

View this man also, when one of his children has received bap

tism: no man is more convivial, or more solicitous to promote good humour. If a little irregularity can ever be lawfully tolerated, he thinks that the baptism of a child, victory over enemies, and the like, afford proper occasions. Enthusiasm, in these instances, can be supported can be recommended: but, oh! if the same spirit be manifested towards any thing in the semblance of religion, anger, or contempt, immediately prevails. In his opinion the best directed zeal is fanaticism, and the most fervent prayers are cant and hypocrisy. In a word, if a prayer be repeated, or a sermon preached in a tone of cordiality and feeling, both, in his estimation, lose their orthodoxy and propriety. This man, nevertheless, because he may occasionally attend a place of worship, perhaps, accounts Irimself, and wishes to be accounted, religious enough.

The character here delineated is neither imaginary nor infrequent: it appears in most towns and vil lages, and demands no extraordinary degree of acuteness to detect it. Its prominent trait is-that whether the man to whom it belongs attends a house of God, observes a fast, celebrates the baptism of a child, or rejoices for some national providence, he has a reference through" out to worldly maxims. He does not profess religion, because it is an appointment of God and the instrument of salvation; but because it is enjoined by the supreme powers of the realm. Hence that neutrality and torpor of heart, when engaged in religious exercises, and that illiberality and virulence towards all who shew, by their prac tice, that they consider religion as conducive to the true interests of the soul. It is evident, indeed, that as long as a vital principle of holiness is wanting, events can never be duly improved.

In duly improving events, an especial reference will be made to God. And whether they be joyou or afflictive, the improvement wil

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consist chiefly in the progress towards sanctification, which they promote. Events of a joyful nature are apt, it is well known, to lead astray even the most vigorous minds: hence the necessity of devising means to prevent the ensnaring influence of prosperity, and to confirm men in proper dispositions. But what can operate more powerfully to this end than to have the glory of God and the sanctification of the soul as the immediate objects of pursuit? Thus actuated, families will proceed to commemorate events with a certain expectation of deriving improvement from them.

On the baptism of a child, for instance, they will invite friends similarly disposed with themselves, who will accept the invitation, not for the sake of "eating, drinking, and being merry," but from a solicitude of being mutually assistant in the work of salvation. The occasion will suggest the propriety of making some addition to the usual course of family worship. It will, indeed, be a day of worship, not only in the house of God, but at home. The choice of sponsors will not be directed by any consideration of pecuniary advantage. Regard will not be bad so much to birth or affluence, to rank or connections, as to character. Those persons, therefore, will be selected, who fully appreciate the responsibility of the office, and manifest the truth of the Gospel in their own experience and example.

usual tenour of a Christian's course,
and is made the occasion of extra-
ordinary notice and observation,
will be entertained by him on
Christian principles.
He will not
draw a nice line of distinction be-
tween what is the effect of worldly
policy, and what of religion; and
endeavour to have two sorts of con-
duct, by which he may accommo-
date himself to either: but whether
attending to religious or civil duties,
whether his joy or grief be occasion-
ed by circumstances of a political or
religious nature, the spirit of Chris-
tianity will be prominent in all his
demeanour. The worldling it is,
who draws absurd lines of distinc-
tion: the only line, which a Chris-
tian draws, is between what is evil
and what is good; yet not for the
sake of passing from one to the
other, but that he may cleave to
the latter, and flee from the former.
He will be no less consistent, there-
fore, when celebrating any worldly
event, than the anniversary of his
marriage, or the baptism of his
child. On all occasions, his con-
duct will proclaim him a servant
of God.

But not only such a case as this, which seems connected more immediately with religion, is a proper subject for improvement, but also every case. The world is not to secularise religion, but religion is to Christianise the world; to alter its modes and habits; to introduce into it maxims and customs more compatible with the perfections of the Deity; and to instil into the heart of man principles, that will expel thence "a love of the world, and of the things of the world." So that, whatever occurs out of the

Though, however, these are instances of improvement taken from circumstances of joy; yet we should greatly err, did we suppose that the Christian is less pious and exemplary under any other circumstances. Should some adversity befal his country, or press more immediately on his own family, he is not driven to an unmanly despondency, nor is he more inattentive to the duty of prayer. Having a stedfast faith in the doctrine of an overruling Providence, he is not, on the one hand," afraid of evil tidings," nor, on the other, is he at a loss for arguments to inculcate resignation and contentment. On such an event, it is true, he cannot fail to have his sensibility exercised; but he guards, lest his feelings should gain the ascendancy over his principles, or he should manifest symptoms of impatience. In his prayers, therefore, private and domestic, he

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