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toral charge of it. On the 30th of May, 1780, he received his dismission from the Presbytery of Philadel. phia to that of Donnegall, who had the care of the church over which he had been ordained. He had previously received a call from a church in Allentown, New Jersey, to which he sent a negative but affectionate answer.
In the autumn of 1784, he was attacked by a fever, wbich weakened still more his already enfeebled constitution. The following reflections, after his recovery from this sickness, are worthy to be preserved. They are contained in a letter of his to his brother and sister, dated Alexandria, September 7, 1785, “ I am not without hope, that these afflictive dispensations, are the corrections of a Father's band, mercifully designed to promote my spiritual improvement ; and in connexion with that, my truest and highest happiness. I sensibly feel the need in which I stand of frequent chastisement, to disengage my affections from an inordinate attachment to the world; to impress a livelier conviction of the evil of sin; to excite to greater fidelity, in the discharge of duty, and to awaken more ardent desires, and diligent preparations for the happiness of a better life. Should it be productive of these happy fruits, and these I hope, through the attending blessing, and sanctifying spirit of God, will not be altogether wanting. I shall then have reason to reckon my affliction among the number of my choicest mercies, and to acknowledge with joy and thankfulness, “ That it is good for me that I have been afflicted.” This is the language of a truly christian faith and piety ; but the spirit from which it flows, is as difficult to be acquired and maintained, as it is desirable to be possessed. Happy truly are they, and they
alone, whose souls have been formed by the grace of God for the principles of our holy religion, to rejoice in the prosperity of this life, as though they rejoiced not, and to weep under the sorrows of it, as though they wept not ; considering the time as short, and the fashion of this world as passing swiftly away. Soon, very soon, my dear brother and sister, will it pass away from us, or we from it.. Let us then seriously and impartially inquire, whether we are properly prepared to take our final leave of it ; whether we have those satisfying evidences of a christian faith, and repentance, and love, and obedience, and a conscience so void of offence both towards God and man, that we can welcome the pros. pect of eternity, in the animating persuasion or bope, that the joys prepared for the good and faithful servant in the kingdom of our Lord, shall be our everlasting portion. Let these, therefore, be constantly made the chief objects of our attention and regard, and let us not forget to help each other by our mutual prayers, that we may find mercy, and obtain grace, to be faithful in the things, which so deeply concern the safety and happiness of our immortal souls.”
The feelings here expressed, were not left to expire without a corresponding effort to render some acceptable service to the Lord, by doing good to his fellow men. Accordingly, in Nov. 1785, he prepared the following plan of a Society, which, from the wisdom and liberality it displays, does great credit to his understanding and heart.
“Outlines of a plan for forming a religious society in the town of Alexandria.
dy is conceived that a society, founded on catholic principles, so as to unite christians of different persuasions or professions, for the purposes of social prayers and other religious exercises, may contribute greatly through the divine blessing, to the spiritual improve. ment of their own souls ; and serve also to diffuse the spirit and the blessings of the gospel anong others, by whom they have not yet been experienced. The circumstances of this place, where the people of God are few in number, and in some measure, divided under different names and forms, while the whole current of general example, is opposed to a serious profession, and conscientious practice of true religion ; forcibly call upon all who are sincerely resolved to live godly in Christ Jesus, and are duly concerned for the honor of the Master whom they serve : to overlook the little differences subsisting between them, and to combine their best exertions, both to secure their own integrity and stedfastness, in the service of their God and Redeemer, and to engage others to become followers of them, as they are of Christ. In order to these ends, no means appear more promising in themselves, or more likely to be approved and seconded by the great Head of the church, than such institutions as this ; wherein those who profess faith in the same Saviour, who acknowledge subjection to the laws of the same gospel, and entertain the hope of sharing in the same inheritance of the saints in light; suspending their zeal for those less essential opinions and modes of practice, in which they vary from each other ; associate together in that spi. it of christian charity, which is the bond of perfection, and cordially unite in fervent prayers and supplications for each other, and for all men, in mutual exhortations, to provoke unto love and to good works, and in the use of all other prudent and affectionate en. deavours to encourage each others' hearts, and strength. en each others' hands in the common and great christian cause. The hope that God will owo and bless, to the important purposes in view, a design which so professedly and directly aims at the advancement of his glo. ry, in the promotion of the interests of religion, is abundantly authorized, not only by the obvious reasonableness of the thing, and its manifest conformity to the Divine will ; but by the express declarations of his written word, whicb, among other instances, furnishes us with an illustrious example of the success of such a measure, among his ancient people the Jews, when it informs us, that “They who feared the Lord, spake of ten one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard it," and declared, that they should be “ his, in the day when he made up his jewels ;” and in addition to this, affords us a most special and gracious promise, for the encouragement of christians in all succeeding ages, when our Saviour assures his disciples, that if even, “ apy two of them shall agree on earth, touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them by bis Father, who is in heaven;" for said he, “ where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Influenced therefore by these considerations, and trust. ing that our views and intentions are pure and upright, with earnest desires, and animating hopes, that God may by his counsel direct, and by his blessing prosper, our pious undertaking, we whose names are hereunto subscribed, do agree, • 1. That a Society shall be formed for the purposes above expressed, to consist of persons professing godliness, and maintaining a conversation becoming the gospel of Christ, without any regard being had to the denominations to which they belong, or the names by which they are distinguished.
2. That the exercises performed in the Society, shall be sacred singing, prayer, and exhortation, or reading some portion of the word of God, or of other books of practical religion, generally approved.
3. That when a minister or preacher of good standing, of any denomination, shall be present, he shall be invited, or have liberty, to address the Society on any subject of religion, only avoiding, as much as possible, all topics of controversy.
4. That the first meeting of the Society, shall be on Wednesday evening, the 16th of the present month, and that its future meetings shall be continued regularly, on the same evening, every fortnight, or at such other times as the Society may hereafter find to be most convenient and advisable ; and that all its meetings shall be attended by the members with as much punctuality, as their circumstances will possibly permit.
5. That regular members choosing to withdraw from their connexion with the Society, shall bare liberty to do it, without being considered as incurring blame or reproach on that account; but that members whose immoral condoct, or irregular behaviour, may be injurious to the credit or interest of the Society, shall be excluded.
6. That persons not in connexion with the Society, but desirous of attending its meetings, and behaving seriously and decently, shall be allowed to frequent them, when they think proper."