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It is abusing the simplicity of the gospel, and urging it to an extreme, to prohibit all records over the graves of the departed. Epitaphs are often foolish and often false, but sometimes they are as edifying as sermons. The dead are not lost. The spot where they lie should have a record. Such a record is found in the simple monument. Let us not forget how carefully the Scriptures indicate the burial-place of many saints. The humblest grave-stone testifies concerning the resurrection, and may speak warning or consolation to the passer-by.
The churchyard in a colder season presents a different scene, yet one which has suggested some fine thoughts to a great poet of our day:
“ Thus, when in changeful April snow hath fallen,
A WELL-ORDERED CONVERSATION.
[Being part of a sermon preached in New York, 1707, by the Rev. Francis MAKEMIE,
the father of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. * ] I proceed to describe, or to show to you, what a WELL-ORDERED CONVERSATION is, or wherein it consists. And this is the next head, and so requisite to be explained, that I cannot apprehend how any can be convinced of the want thereof, or engaged to promote,
* We are indebted to Peter Force, Esq., of Washington City, for a copy of this famous sermon, preached by Francis Makemie, in New York, for which he suffered imprisonment. A brief account of the circumstances of his imprisonment is given in the first volume of the Presbyterian Magazine, pp. 30, 31. The Church is under obligations to Mr. Force for his antiquarian skill in rescuing this sermon from oblivion, and in preserving it in his valuable library. We render to him this public acknowledgment for his kind ness in sending a beautiful manuscript copy for the Presbyterian Magazine.
The sermon is much longer than we expected, and would take up nearly 30 pages of the Magazine, We may continue the extracts hereafter. The following is an outline or the plan of the sermon: the text being, “ To him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God,” Ps. I. 23. After an introduction, the author, 1. Lays
advance, or seek after a well-ordered conversation, without some distinct and clear notions about it; therefore it consists in these things,
1. In a life and conversation purged and purified from sin and wickedness. And this is the first step towards a well-ordered conversation; for the lives and conversations of all men by nature, and from our apostate state of rebellion, are impure, sinful, and unclean; we are a seed of evil-doers, children that are corrupters; our lives naturally, and without grace, and before conversion, are very irregular and disorderly; and those disorderly things must be laid aside, and the evils of our lives must be purged away. And as it is sin that disordereth the life and defileth the conversation, so it is sin, and sin only, our lives must be purged and purified from; and this is required by many precepts, multiplied threatenings, enlarged and renewed promises, and many awakening instances. And it is sometimes called a departing from iniquity, 2 Tim. ii. 19—Let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity. A departing from evil, Psal. xxxiv. 14. It is called a ceasing to do evil, Isa. i. 16—Cease to do evil, and learn to do well. Å forsaking our ways that are not good, Isa. lv. 7—Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts. A denying ungodliness, and worldly lusts, Tit. ii. 12. A cleansing our hands, and purifying our hearts, Jam. iv. 8—Cleanse your hands ye sinners, and purify your hearts ye double-minded. And frequently called a turning from sin. Turn ye, turn ye; if the wicked turn from his way; turn unto me, saith the Lord of hosts. You see then, my friends, what is your first work; there must be a rooting out, and plucking up the sinful and corrupt weeds in our souls, if we would have grace planted, and virtue grow there; we must purge away the spots and stains, if we would appear beautiful in the eyes of our God; we must lay aside the disorders and irregularities of our lives, if we would have them orderly and regular. The profane curser and swearer must lay aside his horrid oaths and rash impious imprecations. The beastly and sensual drunkard must abstain from his intemperate cups and companions. The unclean person must leave his whoredoms. The backbiter must forsake his railing and defamation. The liar must learn to speak truth to his neighbour. The thief and purloiner must grow honest. The profaner of the day of the Lord must learn to spend it more religiously. And the profligate and profane scoffer at the creatures of God, the people, and followers of God, the way, worship, and religion of God, must lay aside this base abuse of their tongues. These evils, and many more, as pride, covetousness, carnality, and worldliness, must be
open the promise relating to God's salvation. 2. He then shows the nature of a wellordered conversation. (This part is in the present number of the Magazine.] 3. Some reasons why a well-ordered conversation is of great concern. 4. What is necessary to promote this good conversation. 5. Obstructions which mar a godly walk and conversation. 6. An application. The sermon is after the old-fashioned style-well subdivided, full of Scripture, plain, and aiming at the reformation of the heart and life. For the title page and preface, see another part of this number of the Magazine.
purged out of our lives, and our conversations cleansed from them, if we would promote a well-ordered conversation in the world.
2. A well-ordered life and conversation consists in a conformity and agreeableness to the holy laws and sovereign commands of heaven. For God, the powerful creator of all things, is also the supreme and sovereign Law-giver, who prescribes rules to his creatures
, wherein and whereby every thing is prohibited we are to forsake and abstain from; and every thing is commanded and required, we should perform and do. And the world was involved in such a labyrinth of darkness and corruption, man would not have known what was to be done, or what was to be left undone, if God from heaven had not told us by his revealed law. And such is the nature of this Divine law, and the commands of heaven, that they are most holy, just, and good, adapted by infinite wisdom to advance our happiness here and hereafter. And a conversation answerable to this Divine rule, both in negatives and positives, is the only wellordered conversation in the world; for all disorders in life are nothing else but a deviation from that rule, and a contradiction to that law. This is a further step and a higher degree of a wellordered conversation than the former; and the first step consisting only in the negative part of religion; but in this is comprehended both positives and negatives, a compliance with the laws of heaven. And this is called a keeping the commandments, John xiv. 15—If ye love me, keep my commandments. A doing the will of the Lord, Matt. vii. 21_“Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven." A conversation agreeable to first table commands, and second table commands, and to gospel precepts, is the only regular conversation. How much, therefore, is it the concern of every soul to be acquainted with this law, and to make conscience of conforming their lives thereunto.
3. A well-ordered life and conversation consists in being adorned with the shining grace and gracious fruits of the Spirit of God, wherein the gifts and graces of the renewing Spirit of God are legible and conspicuous, even in all parts of conversation. This distinguishes the life of a Christian from the conversation of the most refined and polished moralists in the world, and renders the conversation of a true, sincere Christian, to surpass, by far, the lives of pagans. The true Christian, in all states of life, whether in prosperity or adversity, in fulness or in want, in sickness or in health, in suffering or liberty, under reproaches or in good report, under enjoyment, or want of religious privileges, is furnished with graces answerable, and exercises them suitably and agreeably, so as his whole life should shine with them, as a light in a dark place. The fruits of the Spirit of God in believing souls
, with which their conversation should shine, are enumerated by the apostle, Gal. v. 22, 23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance ;” and the apostle Paul recommends them to us, Phil. iv. 8—“Finally, brethren, whatsoever VOL. II.--No. 1.
things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” And these, and such as these, must be the shining ornaments of a well-ordered conversation, such as our Saviour speaks of in his sermon on the Mount, Matt. v. 10—“Let your light so shine_before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
4. A well-ordered conversation is a conversation suitable and agreeable to our Christian calling, and holy vocations, or answerable to the gospel privileges and obligations we are under; for as the privileges of men, as rational creatures, are great beyond the brutal world, so the privileges of the Christian world are justly great beyond the pagan, enjoying many benefits and immunities which they want; for, beyond the light of nature and reason, they have the oracles of God and the lamp of God's law for their instruction and direction. Those without the Church are aliens and strangers, but Christians have a covenant relation to God, and have embraced him as their God and Father. They have frequent intercourse and communion with God in duties, access to God by prayer, in all troubles, wants and difficulties; and a Mediator always at the right hand of God, to intercede for them; and the perpetual promise of God's Spirit, and preference to be with them in all their performances to the end of the world. And as their privileges are great, so their obligations are weighty and solemn; for they have renounced the devil, abandoned the world and renounced the flesh and corruption; listed and enrolled themselves among the number of Christ's followers, submitting unto him as the Captain of their salvation, engaging to fight under his banner. And as these are the privileges and obligations of a Christian, the holy calling and true vocation of a believer must call for and require an answerableness and becoming suitableness of life and conversation in all professors thereof. And this is frequently required and recommended under the gospel, Phil. i. 27: “Only let your conversation be such as becometh the gospel of Christ.” Eph. iv. 1: “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you, that you walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” Col. i. 10: “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord, being fruitful in every good work. 1 Thess. ii. 12: “That you would walk worthy of God who hath called you to his kingdom and glory." How demeaning is it for such as are called to so high dignities, and enjoy so great privileges, to act beneath their privileges or calling, or live a life inconsistent therewith ? for all persons should act like the station they are in, and sure the Christian, above all others in the world, has reason to regulate his conversation suitable to his Christian calling and holy vocation. How unbecoming is it for children of light to walk and live as if in darkness? for such as profess themselves children of God, to speak and act as children of the devil ? therefore the apostle Paul (Eph. iv. 17) advises the Ephe
sians not to walk as the Gentiles do, but according to their holy calling and Christian profession.
5. A well-ordered life and conversation consists in being answerable to the various stations, capacities and relations whereunto we are called and placed of God in the world, whether as superiors, inferiors or equals. For we must look upon all Christians in a twofold capacity; first, in respect to their general calling and vocation as Christians, which is common to all, and calls for a walk and conversation suitable thereunto, as you have heard. Next we must look upon them in a more limited capacity, as related to one another in a more particular calling. As some are superiors, whether in families, in the state, or in the church, so some are inferiors on all those accounts, for they are relatives; and others are equals of the same station and capacity. And it is the superlative excellency of the Christian religion, and a demonstration of the fulness of the Scriptures, that there are duties for all ranks and stations prescribed and taught there. The sins incident to all degrees and ranks of men and women are detected and reproved there. Magistrates and rulers in the government and state have their work and duty cut out to their hands, and are limited and bounded by the supreme law of an universal Sovereign, to whom the greatest of them must be accountable. The subject oweth subjection, loyalty and obedience to his just and lawful commands, for he is the minister of God for good; And this is due, by virtue of a divine command and appointment. But if he exceed his power, and require any thing sinful or repugnant to the laws of God, the apostle's rule is still observable, God is to be obeyed rather than man.
Ministers of the gospel owe many duties to God and his people in that relation. People are in many things indebted by the law of God to their ministers in the execution of their office, which God will require at their hands. Many also are the relative duties of parents and children, husbands and wives, masters and servants—all which are required to make up a wellordered conversation ; not excluding the duties of equity, truth and justice, due from equals to one another. And if the Christian religion were regarded by all ranks and stations, none in the world would be compared with them; therefore, it was not a vain nor groundless challenge one of the ancients made, when he challenged all the world to show so good magistrates and subjects, husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants, as the Christian religion is able to produce. And all Christians would excel the whole world if they would but live as becomes their general and special callings and vocations.
6. A well-ordered conversation is a heavenly conversation, or a conversation in heaven, above the terrene, carnal, and base things of this world; so to live, and so to act, as if they appeared not Koouo noritai, citizens of this world, but belonged to a superior and more intellectual world. This the apostle Paul professes, Phil. iii. 20Our conversation is in heaven—that is, we have not this world, but heaven for our city. Therefore if we would expect heaven in