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soever shall do his will is my father, much less Whosoever shall not: and for the reason he elsewhere assigns, when he tells his disciples, “ Call no man your father upon the earth ; (to wit, that we have no ghostly or spiritual father in the planet) for one is your father which is in Heaven.” (Matt. xxiii. 9.)
Such was our Saviour's notion of brotherhood and distinctions in his church: of which any one may know how far it has been respected. And if we were to be motherless as well as fatherless in a spiritual sense for respecting his sentiments no better, I think it would be but just. “ For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness--as iniquity and idolatry.” (Sam. I. xv. 23.)
It would be too long and irrelevant a task for the present, however interesting in itself, or I might here shew how naturally a departure from true church principles only in so light an instance as the forementioned would be thought to many, leads and has led to the most pernicious consequences. Suffice it to observe, that the visible church is now brought to that pass by her infidelity to Christ, and her harlotry with Mammon, which was gay enough in the beginning, and through the Mystery of Iniquity, whose commerce is still more exhausting than Mammon's, that she seems no longer like the person she was : from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in her; but wounds and bruises, and putrifying sores,” no unusual punishment for harlotry.
But I cannot help admiring the adroitness of Satan, who is the master of these two worthies, however I may deprecate its success, in borrowing of Spiritual Wickedness in high places, which is another of them, two things,—the
gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity to put into the hands of his spiritual higł ness's frantic constituents. And if it should seem rather short in so wily a foe, not to have thought of this artifice sooner, or rather-strange that the mystery of iniquity, which according to St. Paul was at work in his day, should have made so little progress as it appears to have done up to our time, or till “ these last days," as it is said,--and then begun working most rapidly all at once, like the breaking out of some latent disease, -we ought not to be ignorant of the reason, when it is so plainly intimated by the apostle who speaks of it. “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: (says he) only he who now letteth (that is Christ) will let, until he (Christ) be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming." (Thess. II. ii. 7. 8.)
For it may be queried hereupon, as it was by our champion himself, “Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh shall he find faith on the earth ?” (Luke xviii. 8.) Not much, I should think, after his visible worship shall cease, or as said above, he shall “ be taken out of the lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing.” (Luke xii. 42, 43.)
and he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make desolate, even until the consummation and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Dan. ix. 27.) “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his
And that makes it a very important question with every man; which however, no man can answer for another, and should never think of answering decidedly for himself. I can say for one, with St. Paul, so far as this, " By the grace of God I am what I am :" (Cor. I. xv. 10:) but I cannot go on, to say with him as yet, that the grace of God which I experience in some considerable qualifications for the ministry, has not been bestowed on me in vain : I can only hope, and strive and pray incessantly that it may not be so, and that it will not appear to have been so at the last,“ when even is come.” I hope the divine grace will continue with me, and with others like minded still, doing as much as can be expected by free agents for all of us, to prevent so sad a conclusion of our respective parts or lives upon earth. I will not pretend to say, that I have done myself as much as might and ought to-have been done by me for one; neither will I own that I have been altogether idle intentionally. Only the following essay, whether it be small or great in its outward or visible dimensions, may evince the contrary of that, being itself also designed to promote, with the divine permission, a mode of winding up our lives to better purpose than vanity or nothing; though this may fail also, as better have done for me.
By enjoying heretofore some experience in the duty of the church either as curate, which the French call Vicaire; or as officiating minister, which is a sort of sub-curatethrough a variety of stations and circumstances, I have had occasion and opportunity--perhaps as much as most, not only to edify myself generally in the principles and evidences of our holy religion, while I endeavoured to edify others, but also to improve in the art of applying our opportunities and talents, and making them available to their proper end or purpose.
I think it might be called the art of appropriation: being one as yet either untheorized, or else very much neglected; which it should not be, after such a ponderous apparatus as we bring sometimes to the point of fruition: it is a sad waste, to leave our acquirements useless, like an amateur library, just as we launch into office.-But, to proceed with my part. Since the period alluded to, which I may call my term of labour, and must consider, with all its plagues, not the least pleasant of my life, I have been favoured also with a term of leisure; though it did not seem a favour at the commencement, but much otherwise, during which I have been led to review the former period, and not only to mature the experience acquired therein, but also to enlarge the same with new data, until its interest appeared to be doubled, and I thought myself, for I had no opportunity of consulting on the subject, that the result of my long and deliberate experience deserved to be better known.
The way is short from the consideration to the adoption of a favourite purpose: only let it be plausible, and it will soon be thought preferable; and when its turn arrives, it will not have long to wait. May the present, with its execution, be acceptable to my brother curates and the public! The epistolary form in which it appears, has been preferred to the systematic, as being perhaps more agreeable to the generality of readers, and in the present case---nearly as convenient. The division of the subject is the most natural that I could think of,—its order, that of descending from the highest or most invisible objects to the lowest and least continually--the same that I generally wish to follow; as reason would dictate a beginning with the worthiest, not only in consideration of its merit, but also with regard to what we may or may not live to finish: one should like also to begin with the highest undertaking in the height of one's capacity, if one knew it, and finish that first. This is one sound principle I believe, in the art of appropriation, and may serve as a sample to explain the nature of the art.
For the principal object is always first conceived, and will always stand first in every purpose, though its production and appearance may attend on very humble preparatives sometimes, and sometimes on very honourable; as the object of our highest veneration and enjoyment attended on a mere human precursor ;
but then that precursor could not have had his superior among those who were born of women ; supposing a prophet to be cæteris paribus the most exalted character among men, and that “ among those who were born of women there has not been a greater prophet than John the Baptist,”. (Luke vii. 28, according to our Saviour's decision. For if John came first upon earth, the Saviour stood first in the secret purpose of " God, whose never-failing providence ordereth all things both in Heaven and earth:” the invisible things of God being always first in virtue or reference, if the visible be first in access and appearance to us-ward. For we all have two parts to fulfil in life, the visible and the invisible: and the first part is not that which appears