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do we naturally turn? What a luxury, to learn that God has instituted an ordinance that pointedly has respect to infants— in which we are encouraged to bring the little one to himcommend it to his blessing-and in which we have an assurance that he will be a God to us, and to our seed. We feel the institution to be most tenderly addressed to some of our strongest passions-and have a new manifestation of the adaptation of the gospel to human nature.
2. Such an ordinance exercises the most powerful influence over the minds of parents. It is an encouragement to them. Privileged to dedicate their children to God, they cheerfully undertake to bring them up in his nurture and admonition. It is an incentive to faithfulness. God has said to them, "take this child, and nurse him for me"-they have publicly responded to his call, in the observance of baptism; and the recollection that the vows of God are upon them, will excite them to duty and fidelity. It is a comfort to them when their children die. They dedicated them to God-they said in their hearts they were his, to dispose of them as seemed good in his sight; and now that they are gone, the recollection of these things is sweet.
3. It is also calculated to exert a happy influence over the minds of children. To be told they have been dedicated to God, may come with great power upon their conscience. How the child Samuel must have felt when informed by his pious mother how she had early dedicated him to God, and now expected he would make good all her promises. And the same thing is virtually done by every parent, when in faith he presents his child to God in baptism; and the same happy influence might be exerted over the youthful mind, by a seasonable and faithful inculcation of his early presentation to the Lord.
Upon the whole, we may conelude, heartily acquiescing in the just and eloquent language of Dwight upon infant baptism: "The helpless circumstances of the child; the peculiar tenderness of the relation existing between it and the parents; the strong expression of their faith in God, in giving up their beloved offspring to him, devoting it to his service, and engaging to train it up for his glory; the exhibition of their reliance on the blood of Christ, and the agency of the Spirit of truth to cleanse it from its original pollution; the affecting. manifestation of the divine mercy and goodness in permitting us thus to offer up our children to God; united, with the solemnities of the day, the place, and the occasion; form a combination of facts, and doctrines, and duties, scarcely paralleled in the present world."
A MINISTER'S EXPERIENCE.
LET humility be a prominent characteristic in all you do. Whenever you preach, remember "God is here;" and that "we must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.”
To be much admired, should humble you as much as to be lightly esteemed.
When you are high in the praise of every one, remember you must probably one day descend; it may be soon, rapidly. In each sermon let there be but a few divisions, and each division be well illustrated by facts and Scripture.
When you enter church, expecting to meet a large assembly, and find only a few-instead of giving something different from that which you intended, reserving your big ideas, and big sermons, for large congregations, give of the best you have to the few who are present, and make an unusual effort to deliver it in the most striking manner. Do otherwise, and you will make small meetings smaller. Your hearers will soon learn to reason thus:-"It is bad weather to-day, and there will be but few out, and when that is the case, our minister only makes a few common-place remarks, so for my part, as I shall not learn much if I go, I shall stay at home." Good weather will bring out good congregations; and if, when the weather is unfavourable, you do your utmost, it will be said, "we must not stay at home, for on such days as this, we are sure to hear something excellent.". In this way, your congregations will be always good, and can be relied on; the great advantage of which, in the delivery of a discourse, every observing minister well understands.
It will often happen when you suppose that you have done well, your people will think very differently. And often too, on the other hand, when you go home discouraged, and cast down, lamenting your want of zeal, and piety, and ability, your flock will go away the most delighted; hence always cultivate a calm, and equitable, and humble frame of mind.
Sometimes, in a small social meeting perhaps, an important idea will forcibly occur to the mind; pride suggests, "you had better not waste this on so few; keep it for a Sabbath day's effort, when many shall hear it." Never yield; vanity is at the bottom. Now you feel its force; use the thought suggested, and it will have effect; defer it, and you may not have it so strongly presented to your own mind again. "Be instant" at all times, is the Christian's motto.
Sometimes you will have, what in the retirement of your
study, might be called a literary sermon, and one of superior excellence; and you enter the sacred desk with great self-confidence. At such times, a fall is before you. You will gene-rally meet with a sad failure.
You will be able to preach best, when you feel most perfectly, your own entire weakness, and the necessity of throwing yourself upon the arms of the Saviour.
God will never help you to preach, unless you do your utmost to help yourself. He will not send you ideas, unless you look for them.
A FRIEND'S LETTER.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX PRESBYTERIAN.
I HAD lately an opportunity of paying a trifling attention to a worthy Minister of your church. He has been pleased to acknowledge my humble hospitality in the following letter. And it appears to me to be so excellent, and I have derived so much benefit from it, that I am induced to forward it to you, in the hope that you may deem it worthy of a place in the Orthodox Presbyterian. I am, yours, &c. A. C.
Belfast, 17th Dec, 1834.
22d Nov. 1834,
SIR, I feel much obliged for the attention which you lately paid to my son when in Belfast, on his way homeward, and also to myself on a previous occasion. I hope that you and Mrs. are in the enjoyment of wonted mercies. May each of you be blessed with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places in Christ. May you live the life, and die the death of the righteous, that your last end may be like his.
Let us now inquire, in what preparation for a better world consists. Do you know, then, "that it is not by works of righteousness which we can do," Titus iii. 5. This may seem a strange expression, but it is the language of Scripture, and is worthy of your particular notice. If you ask "why not saved by my own works?" the reason is obvious. By the fall, man lost his original righteousness, and became subject to moral inability. His powers are now all so contaminated by sin, and his nature so depraved, that he cannot satisfy the claims of divine justice, expiate his past transgressions, or remove the curse pronounced on him as a sinner. Now, to be saved by our own works, our motives must be absolutely pure and unmixed; our hearts must be divested of all corruption; our obedience must be complete, universal, and perpetual. The
law requires perfection. It condemns all deviation in thought word, or deed. If we offend in one point, we are guilty of all, James ii. 10; "Cursed is every one,' "&c. Gal. iii. 10. Can we then say that we have never offended? Supposing even that we have not been openly vicious, and that our character has been respected among men, can we say we have never felt any evil thoughts; never been led by irregular passions; never uttered an unguarded word; and that, from the first moment since we began to reason, we have never had any thing in view but the glory of God? Alas! no. "For we have all sinned, and come short of the glory of God," Rom. iii. 23. But could we this moment be transformed into an angel, and rendered a perfect being, yet that perfection would not atone for past sins. Perfect obedience is a debt due to God, and relates only to the time wherein it is performed, and cannot satisfy for former sins. We stand condemned then by the law. Justice requires satisfaction. We have nothing to pay; and, therefore, without a ransom, without a Mediator, we must perish. That this is the doctrine of the Scriptures, you will clearly see, if you consult the following passages-Isaiah liii. 6; lxiv. 6; John xv. 5; Gal. ii. 16 to 19. The preparation some boast of, then, is delusive. It is mere ignorance of the truth, and confidence in a supposed righteousness of their own. Nor are they less deceived who wish to join their imaginary merit to that of the Saviour's; for the fact is, man is utterly unable to recover himself, to atone for his guilt, to change his own heart, and, by his own righteousness, prepare himself for heaven. How is it then that man can be saved? This is the great question we shall attempt now to answer. When the jailor at Philippi made this important inquiry, the reply given him was this "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," Acts xvi. 31. This, then, is the only preparation for eternity. It is by faith in him only that we can be justified; see John xiv. 6; Acts iv. 12; Rom. x. 4; Gal. iii. 13; Rom. iv. 25; John i. 29; Rom. v. d. These Scriptures evidently shew the way in which we are accepted of God; that salvation is not by works, bat by grace; that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers; and that it is through his merit alone they can obtain everlasting life. "There is now, then, (says the apostle,) no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk," &c. see Rom. viii. 1; also, ver. 33, 34, 35.
But while we assert that it is through the merits of Jesus Christ alone that we can be saved, let it not be understood
that this is all that is required to make us meet for heaven. Our natures must be changed, the darkness of our understandings must be removed, and the will must be subdued and brought into unison with the will of God. Men are not justified and left in a state of disobedience and enmity against God. Regeneration, therefore, is stated in the Scriptures, as absolutely necessary to the enjoyment of heavenly felicity. We must be "born again, not of corruptible seed," &c. see 1 Peter i. 23. Let us inquire here into the nature of this important doctrine. What is it? It is not baptism; for many are baptized, who still remain enemies to God by wicked works. It is not edu cation. This may restrain and reform in many instances; but we have too many proofs of its inefficacy to change the heart. It is not conviction; for many are convinced of sin, and not converted from it. It is not relinquishing open vices; for this is sometimes done from interest, or for want of opportunity to practise them. It is not knowledge; for many know much, like the devil, and yet do not practise what they know. It is not moral strictness; for this may take its rise from Pharisaism, as was the case once with Paul, Acts xxvi. 51 It is not talent; for many will come in that day, and say, "Lord," &c. see Mat. vii. 21, 22. It is not a profession of religion; for "some profess that they know God, but in works they deny him," Titus i. 16. It is not feeling, or an emotion of the passions; for some "receive the word with joy, for a while believe, and in time of temptation, fall away," Luke viii. 13. But regeneration is a real, divine, and saving change of heart. Hence it is said, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature," &c. 2 Cor. v. 17. The will is renewed-not that new faculties are given to the soul, but the will is inclined towards the supreme good. The affections are drawn off from earthly scenes, and placed on divine objects; "beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord," 2 Cor. iii. 18.
This is a supernatural work, the effect of the operation of the Divine Spirit on the heart. Hence, said Jesus to Nicodemus, see John iii. 5; also, James i. 18. By this, however, man is not rendered perfect; he still finds reason to complain of innate corruption, and is daily longing for geater conformity to God. Sin is the greatest object of his hatred, and he finds himself happy only as he gains the victory over it. For this, divine grace is promised; and he is encouraged to persevere under all the opposition he meets with from the world, the