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prophetic declarations of the Christian character, as any vice same import, are as applicable to whatever.
Of how many may the church in these ages, as at it be said, that although they canany former period. Multitudes not be charged with any particuof wicked men assume the form lar sins, their habitual conduct of godliness, and join in profes- towards the church and the world sion with the people of Christ. clearly manifests the want of Now although such a state of the grace. Of how many others church will be overruled by Hears must we, at best, entertain very en for wise purposes; yet the uncomfortable doubts. In what nature of things conspires with various ways do men, without experience to show, that it is the open irregularities, render their unfailing source of numberless piety justly suspected. How evils. It is as undesirable, as for many, whose deportment is comnoxious weeds to mingle with the monly blameless, show, on disfruits of a garden, or for tares to criminating occasions, that they spring up and grow in a field with have not the love of God in their wheat.
hearts. By prosessing Christians With these remarks in mind, in general, the holy morality of let us survey the churches the gospel is little regarded. If through the Commonwealth, we judge them by their fruits, These churches in general con- and their fruits by the precepts sist of few members. It is no 'of Christianity ; we must conviolation of the rules of candour clude, that vital religion is in a to believe, that a considerable very low state in our churches, part of those few are destitute of and that a proportion of their Christian holiness. “ Would to members, greater than we would God," says Doddridge, " there willingly name, have at most, werc reason to hope, that the the form, without the power of Christian church were so equal- godliness. ly divided, that five of ten in it We may, secondly, infer this had the oil of divine grace in lamentable truth from the inadetheir hearts, to render them burn- quate and folse opinions of religion, ing and shining lights." We which many nominal Christians en. may, with propriety, adopt the tertain. At present these opinsame pious wish respecting our ions will be only hinted at, as New England churches.
proof of the fact under consideThe reasons which lead to such ration. There are errors, which an apprehension are many. the inspired writers consider, as Some of the most obvious will a perversion of the gospel, and as just be mentioned.
exposing every one, who emThe first and most weighty is, braces them, to the censure of the practice of nominal Christiuns. the church and the heaviest Some are notoriously immoral. anathema of the Bible. Such Dishonesty, Sabbath-breaking, crrors, without doubt, are found and intemperance are often seen in our churches. Indeed, they in those, who name the name of could not have obtained such Christ. How many discover a currency ; they could not be worldly, selfisin, or revengeful avowed with such boldness, and spirit, as inconsistent with the defended with so much success, without the concurring agency which flow from it, must be ex. of large numbers. These pre. pected to remain. It is often valent errors are the fruit of an remarked by judicious writers, unchristian spirit, and a direct that civil society can never enjoy proof, that many church mem- permanent tranquillity and happibers are destitute of gospel faith. ness, while the civil principles
The inadequate opinions, which and moral character of its memare generally held respecting the bers are corrupt. It is certainly nature of saving religion and the as true, that peace and prosperi. Tequisite qualifications of church ty can never be enjoyed by the members, lead us in a different church, while the religious princia way to the same conclusion. It ples and moral conduct of its mem. is to be presumed, that men will bers are unchristian. The body xt according to their sentiments. cannot be in a healthy vigorous When they disbelieve the scrip- state, while its constituent parts ture doctrine of regeneration, and are unsound and decaying. consider no moral change neces.
As far as this radical evil ex. sary to prepare them for the vis- tends in our churches, it preible kingdom of Christ; we may vents them from answering the expect that their conduct will be great end of their Founder. agreeable to such opinions, and While made up, in a considerathat they will unite themselves ble degree, of ungodly members, to the church in an unrenewed how can it be imagined that they state. Multitudes, who profess will adorn the doctrine of God religion, think it weakness, to their Saviour, or show forth his inquire after any evidence, tbat praises, by the abounding fruits they are born of God. When of holiness? How can they be such principles govern men in the salt of the earth, if they lose entering into the church, and the savour of religion, and parthe church in receiving them, it ticipate in the corruptions of the is easy to see, of what charac- world? Can churches be lights, ters the church will be composed. to illuminate the surrounding
These observations must not multitude, when they themselves be applied, without many favour are enveloped in moral darkness? able exceptions. The unadulte. Will men contend earnestly for rated faith and practice of prim- that faith, which they have not itive Christianity are not yet ex- cordially received? Will they pelled from our churches. But recommend to others that gosafter all the exceptions, which pel, which they practically retruth admits and candour re. ject? Will they faithfully mainquires, we have great reason to tain that discipline, which is an fear that large numbers of unwelcome restraint to their own nominal Christians among us guilty passions? In short, will are not washed from their sins. they uniformly support the char
This, we apprehend, is the acter, while they want the temradical evil. Without removing per of saints ? or lessening this, other evils,
THE DEATH-HED OF A MODERN sunk by degrees, and at last FREE-THINKER,
tainted him as deeply as them
selves. He was adopted into Exemplified in the last hours of their society, which met to lay
the Hon, Francis Newport, son down rules for being so critically to the late Lord Newport.*
wicked, that the law should not
be able to take hold of them. [From the Christian Observer.]
He had too much prudence to At sixteen the honourable lay himself open : he still kept Francis Newport was sent to the a fair correspondence with his University, perfectly acquainted friends, and in strange places with the Latin and Greek lan
was sober and reserved ; but in guages ; where he continued secret, and among his acquaintfive years, and behaved so agree
ance, he was as wicked as good ably to his religious education, parts, abundance of temptations, that he was looked upon as a
and a fair estate, enabled him to blessing and ornament to his be. family.
On November 30, 1692,* he At twenty-one he came tos
was ill; and found, notwithstandLondon, and entered himself at ing all his precautions, that he - to study the law. Bis new
had not shook off the expectaacquaintance began to rally him tions of another life. for his religion : to whom he
This made him throw himself would say, “ Gentlemen, you,
upon a bed, and break out into who pretend to reason, cannot
these expressions : “ Whence. count laughter a conclusive ar- this war in my breast? What gument; if religion be so ab- argument is there now to assist surd, as you would have me be- me against matter of fact ? Do I lieve, why do not you give some
assert that there is no hell, while fair reasons against it?”. This, I feel one in my own bosom? some of them would attempt í Am I certain Biere is no after and though their arguments at retribution, when I feel a present first were as unsuccessful as judgment? Do I affirin my soul their raillery, yet the poison to be as mortal as my body,
when this languishes, and that is When I first thought of sending vigorous as ever? O! that any you the affecting history, which i one could restore me to my annow enclose, it was my intention to cient guard of piety and innohave omitted the name of the unhappy person, who irms the subject of cence! Wretch that I am ! it. Biit happening lately to look into
whither shall I fly from this Simpson's Pler for Religion, a bok, breast? what will become of which has been extensively circulated, I found the name of that person at full lenrth, accompanied by a few of the circumstances of his miserable
* This date corresponds to the acend. I can no longer, therefore,
count given of this person in the have a motive for concealment.
One of his old companions alogue, for which I must go and coming in, said, “How now, give an account. O! apostate brother! why this? why this wretch, from what hopes art melancholy posture? what is the thou fallen? O that I had never matter?" He replied, “ It is you known what religion was ; then and your companions, who have I had never denied my Saviour, instilled your principles into me, nor been so black an heir of perwhich now, when I have most dition !" need of them, leave me in con- I stood speechless some time fusion and despair. What ad- at the strange expressions ; but, sice or comfort have you now to as soon as I could recollect myfortify me with, against the fear- self, said, “Sir, I would have ful expectations of another lifc? you take care how you violate Are you sure that the soul is ma- the mercy of God, and think terial and mortal, and that it will so lightly of the sufferings of dissolve with the body?” “So Christ, as if they were not sufficertain," replied the other, “that cient for the redemption of the I venture my whole upon it.” greatest sinners.
This may be Here I interrupted them by a delusion of the devil : if you coming into the room ; and, ap- are convinced the soul is immorplying myself to the sick per- tal, I hope it is to a good end; son, told him, I was a stranger if you had died ignorant of it, to him, but hearing he was ill, I you had been miserably undethought it my duty to offer him ceived in another world ; now what service I was capable of. you have some time to prepare “I thank you," says he ; “ I de- for your welfare." sire you to engage that gentle- To which he replied, “ As to man that sits there, and prove to the mercies of God in Christ, I him that the soul is not matter, once knew and tasted what they por mortal.” This I endeavour- were ; which is now part of my ed to do by several arguments ; curse, in that I am now sensible to which the sick gentleman an- of my loss : they are, I grant swered only with a sigh, whilst you, sufficient for those that his friend made haste out of the have any share in them ; but room. I was surprised at such what is that to me, who have dean effect, and desired to know nied Christ? I have daily cruci. the reason. “ Alas! Sir," said fied him afresh, and put him to he," you have undeceived me too an open shame. The devil has late; I was afraid of nothing so nothing to do with the torture I much as the immortality of the undergo; it is no delusion of soul : now you have assured me his, but the just judgment of of that, you have ascertained me God; and it is also a part of my of a hell, and a portion among heavy judgment, that you have those, who have apostatized from given me a sensible horror of their religion. You have now my sin, by proving my soul is sealed my damnation, by giving immortal. Had I gone strait to me an earnest of it; I mean an hell in my old opinion, I had enawakened conscience, that brings dured but one hell, whereas I my sins into remembrance, by now feel two; I mean not only Feckoning up the numerous cat an inexpressible torture, which I
carry in my own breast, but an and God hath sworn by himself, expectation of I know not what As I live, saith the Lord, I would change. ( that I were in hell, not the death of a sinner ; but that I might feel the worst ! and rather that he turn from his yet I fear to die, because the wickedness, and live.” worst will never have an end.” He replied, with his usual earAll this he spoke with an air of nestness, “I will grant as much eagerness, and such horror as is difference between me and those scarce to be imagined.
in hell, as between a common He was got to bed, refusing devil and a devil incarnate: if all sustenance, and had an ex- these are irrecoverably lost, ceeding sweating through the without opportunity of reprieve extremity of his torments. or hopes of pardon, and I am
Before I took my leave of yet alive, what then? what is him, I desired to pray by him ; the consequence ? Not that the which with much reluctance he promises belong in common to consented to. In the midst of me with other sinners, nor to prayer, he groaned extremely, any sinners, but such as believe tossing himself as if he was in and repent. If Christ died for the agonies of death. When sinners, it was such as repent prayer was over, I asked him the and believe ; but though I would, reason of it.
I can do neither : I have outHe answered, “ As the damn- stood my day of grace, am hared in hell, who lift up their eyes dened and reprobate. If God in torments, and behold afar off delight not in the death of sin. the saints in Abraham's bosom, ners, it is of such sinners as rehave thereby their torments pent and turn to him ; but his doubled, first, by reflecting on justice will vindicate itself on the misery they are in ; and, such obstinate sinners as me, secondly, by observing the hap- who have denied his power and piness they have lost : so I, providence both in my words and knowing myself to be hardened actions. Now he has met with and sealed to damnation, hearing me for it ; and O! it is a fear. the prayers of the righteous, to ful thing to fall into the hands of which God's ears are ever open; the living God. If God was not this increases my torment, to zainst me, I should not care think how I am excluded from though all the power and malice such a privilege, and have no of men were joined against me ; other portion left me than blas- though all the legions of hell pheming, weeping, wailing, and continued to torture me with the gnashing of teeth forever.” most consuming pains : but
“ Pray, Sir,” said I, “consider when an irreconcileable God there is a vast difference between looks down upon his creature in you and them in hell ; they are wrath, and consigns him over to lost irrecoverably for evermore, eternal vengeance, this is intolewithout any opportunity of a re- rable, inexpressible ! ah, who prieve, or hope of pardon ; you can dwell with eternal burnare yet alive, and have the prom- ings? Oh, ye that have any hope, ises in common with other sin- that have not yet passed the day ners : Christ died for sinners ; of grace, cry mightily to God