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But Religion, real and experimental Religion, affords very dit. ferent prospects. It sweetens the bitter cup, it pours balm into the bleeding heart; it smooths the rugged paibs of life; in afflic. tion it inspires hope, patience in adversity, and consolation in every time of trouble. It reconciles us to the loss of fortune, of fame, of friends. It enables us to forgive our enemies, to pray for our persecutors, and to love those who despitefully use us. It renders us content with our situation in life whatever it be; it ef. fectually secures to us the approbation of our own confcience, and in lhori affords us such a peace and serenity of mind, as the world can neither give nor take away.
And this is not mere theory. Experience has abundantly proved it; my own recent observation hath confirmed it; and if we reason upon the subject, we fall find it cannot be otherwise.
The true believer is prepared to encounter every difficulty. Opposition only serves to redouble his zeal, and every trial be oppofitwith in this secretsidian meets with in his christian race, be regards as a means afforded him of exercifing the virtues of patience, forbearance, and refiga nation to the will of God, and of proving bis unshaken fidelity to bis Lord and Master. He looks upon the Christian life as a stare of warfare ; and he sees himself encompassed by enemies from without, and from within; and if he experience the hatred, the ridicule, or contempt of the world, it is no more than he expect. ed; it is what he was sufficiently forewarned of. "If the world hate you, faith our Saviour, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his owo : but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, that the servant is not greater than his Lord, if they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep your's also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's fake, be. cause they know not him that sent me," John xv. 18, 21. In the same chapter, we read, “ In the world ye shall have tribulation but be of good cheer ; I have overcome the world."
The fincere Christian therefore is content to suffer, as well as to do the will of God. He is content to deny himself, to take up his cross and follow his Master. He reckons the sufferings of this present time, not worthy to be compared with the glory which fhall be revealed hereafier; afflictions he esteems as blessings in disguise, and though troubled on every side, yet he is not distressed; though perplexed, yet not in despair ; persecuted, but not forsa. ken, caft down, yet not destroyed, 2 Cor. iv. 8, 9. " As fora rowful, yet always rejoicing, as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things," 2 Cor. vi. 10:
But again, not only the poor and the afflicted, but the rich and prosperous are benefited by Christian experience. The Scripture represents riches as a great obstacle to the kingdom of God, and the reason appears to be, that they are apt to create in us too strong
he thing out our cent according. d. in a variety
an attachment to the things of time and sense, and on this account render us less anxious about our spiritual and eternal welfare. Riches are either a blessing or a curse, according to the use made of them. They afford us means of doing good in a variety of ways, and for this purpose they seem to have been given us; and when so employed, they redound to the glory of God, and the good of our own souls. Now a good Methodist cannot be an un. charitable man. He experiences in his own mind, that it is truly “ more blessed to give than to receive," " that he that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord," and that it fhall be paid him again, if not in this world, in that which is to come. The love of God, abiding in him, constrains him to love all mankind; and he endeavours as far as he can, to tread in the steps of his Master, going about seeking to do good. In his prosperity, he forgets not that God from whom he hath derived every thing he pose fesses; he sets a just value upon every temporal blessing, ears she bread of thankfulness, and studies to glorify his Maker in every thought, word, and action. He finds that the yoke of Christ is easy, and his burden light; the service he is engaged in is pera fect freedom, and that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
He loses all relish for the pleasures of fin and vanity; his views are too lofty, his desires too elevated, to rest satisfied with any, thing short of the Divine presence; and his happiest hours are spent in his own closet, in the company and conversation of his religious friends, and in acts of piecy to God, and benevolence to his fellow creatures. In youth he can look forward with pleasing expectation; in old age he looks back with satisfaction.
In short, the man who has once received assurance of the fore, giveness of his sins, and views his God as a reconciled Father in Christ Jesus, regards, every event that befalls him, as the imme. diate appointment of the Divine Being, and holds fast that blesa. sed prospect of immortality, which the gospel affords to every true believer ; such a one, I say, must be happy; and whatsoever temptations he may be exposed to, whatsoever crosses he may meet with, he will still be enabled by Divine grace to come off more than conqueror through him that hath loved him.
The principles of Methodism have been grossly misunderstood. We have been charged with pride and uncharitableness; and be cause we do not partake in the common amusements of life, and enter into scenes of gaiety and dissipation, we are supposed to be inimical to friendly and chearful intercourse. But let me ask, In what does our pride consist ? Do we shew it in our persons, in our. dress, in 'our conversation, in our dealings with mankind? Are we ambitious of fame, or of the good opinion and applause of the world ? Do we boast of our own strength, of our own abili. ties and acquirements? Do we disdain to visit the afflicted ? Do we look with contempt upon those who differ from us in prin. Vol. XIX. August 1796.
ciples ? Do we not rather debase and humble ourselves in our own eyes, denying ourselves the merit of every thing that we do acceptable in the light of God? and if we glory, we glory in the Name and Power of the Lord Jesus Christ. Can we be faid to be uncharitable, when we employ a considerable portion of our vacant time in offices of humanity and kindness to our fellow creatures, in endeavouring to instruct the ignorant, and to reclaim the wicked ? when we can sympathize freely with a brother or. filter in distress, and rejoice fincerely in the conversion of every penitent foul? It is our constant prayer that ALL may come to the knowledge of the truth, and be saved ; and it is no breach of charity to say, that there is but one Road to Heaven, one Name only, by which we can be saved ; and that if any one reject the plan of redemption laid down in the Gospel, or in the words of St. John, “entereth not by the door into the sheep-fold, but climbeth up fome other way, the same is a thief and a robber. I am the door, (saith our Lord,) by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and shall find paiture," John X. 9.
. As therefore we are assured from Scripture, that we can never merit heaven by our works, and as there is but one way of sal. vation, so far is the preaching of this doĉtrine from being un. charitable, that it appears to me the greatest act of kindness, the highest office of humanity, i to promulgate it by every means in our power; and this we: must do if we have any real regard to the eternal and spiritual concerns of mankind. . "For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul ? or what shall a'man give in exchange for his soul ?”
And why should we be deemed unsociable or averse to friendly intercourse? Is it because we can employ ourselves agreeably without the aid of cards, dancing, plays, and other amusements of a similar nature ? Because we deal not in unmeaning compli. ments, and our discourse is not embellished with strokes of satire, or lively fallies of wit and humour ? We enjoy the pleasures of religious conversation too much to stand in need of any of these entertainments. We delight to tell and to hear of the goodness of our heavenly Father; and our fellowship with God is often strengthened by the free and unrestrained manner in which we communicate our sentiments.
But further. The influence of Methodism is chiefly observable among the lower orders of society. It is to the poor, to the ignorani, to the simple, that the preaching of the Methodists is rendered more particularly useful.
Many are the instances in which men of the moft, abandoned characters have been reclaimed ; drunkards have become sober, fabbath-breakers have been brought to esteem it their highest privilege and greatest delight to keep that day holy; and swearer's have ceased to take the name of the Lord in vain. Discontent; idleness, and proflicacy of every kind, have been banished ; and
men have learnt to be fatisfied with what God and the labour of their own hands have provided for them, and to be diligent in their respective callings, and active in the discharge of the relative and social duties of life. “ The poor, (our Saviour tells us,) have the Gospel preached unto them ;” and St. James says, " Has not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom?" . In humble and obfcure ftations, men having less to attach them to this world, have more ample opportunities of living near to God, and of growing in grace'; and in this way, distress and affli&tion some times operate by constraining us to apply to God for succour and for consolation, when we find that vain is the help of man, and there is nothing on earth which can give us that assistance our fouls ftand in need of. It is in the hour of sickness and upon the bed of death, when the cheering influence of true Religion fhines upon the heart in its full luftre; it is when we are forsaken and rejected by men, that God is ever present and dear unto us ; and it is this alone which will enable us like the Apostles of old, to rejoice in tribulation, knowing that though." many be the afflic. tions of the righteous, the Lord delivereth him out of them all,'' Pfal. xxxiv. 19. .
[To be concluded in the next. ] :
and it is this albomation, knowing that vezeth him ou
A DISCOURSE ON LUKE X. 27. i . . .. [ Concluded from page 327. ] .. II. I ET us now consider the Love of our Neighbour, with its
L happy consequences. .. i The Love of our Neighbour can only spring from the Love of God, and is a love of Equity, Charity, Succour, and Benevolence. We owe to our neighbour what we have a right to expe& from him. This our blessed Saviour positively commands, "Do unto all men as ye would they should do. unto you." By this rule, therefore, we should think, speak, and write, concerning every one. And if so, we shall on all occasions put the most favourable construction upon all his words and actions that they will possibly bear. For, as “ Love worketh no ill to its neigh. bour," so it " Thinketh no evil;" yea, “ It will hide a multitude of sins.” Therefore we shall not try, much less shall we rejoice to find a fault, but rather where a real blemish appears, endeavour to hide, or to excuse it, in the best manner we can, and as far as truth will go. We shall bear with him, love and forgive him, rejoice in his felicity, mourn on account of his adversiy, desire and delight in his prosperity, and procure it when in our power. Instruet him if he be ignorant, help him in his weaknels, and even risk our life for his fake, for the salvation of his Sout, or for the public good. In a word: We must do every thing in our
power, through all the possible varieties of circumstances, which we would with them to do for us were the fituation reversed.
How happy wonld Society be, were this sacred and rational precept properly observed! Reader, if others do not attend to it, it is not ihe less binding on thee.
To him who loves God with all his heart, the fulfilment of this duty is not only possible, but easy and delightful. Such a man will look upon the evil and unthankful, with the same pitying love, (in bis degree,) which inspired the breast of the Son of God when he laid down his life for them. Such will ever esteem the Saints of God as the excellent of the earth, however they may be despised or persecuted. The bowels of his compassion are not Itraitened by names, sects or parties; for real love destroys, root and branch, all bigotry, and so enlarges the mind, that with the holy Apoftle, the man of God most devoutly prays, “ Grace be with all them who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.” It is true, we may, and we ought to make a proper distinction between one man and anoiher; we are called, by Revelation, to love according to reason, therefore we shall love particular persons according to their wath. Hence we may see a person worthy of our highest esteem, on account of his deep piety, his uncommon natural and acquired abilities. The extraordinary gifts which God has enriched him with, and because of his long standing, and great usefulness in the Church of Christ. We may greatly de. light in another person with whom we are intimately acquainted, because we find an inexpressible union of spirit with him, and the more we know him the more we love him, because we have found in him “a faithful friend :” Perhaps he is nearly of our own age and standing in the Church of God, and one who is nearly of the same natural temper. On such persons a superior degiee of affe&tion may be innocently, yea laudably placed : David had his Jonathan, and Christ his John. But as this love, in be. half of which I speak, is a love of Equity, Charity, Succour, and Benevolence, we owe this equally to all; and he who loves God with all his heart, &c. will find no difficulty in performing all the requirements of this sacred precept; for “ Love feels no loads." And it is certain, he who loves will chearfully serve all within the circle of his acquaintance, according to his power, The grand end of human life is to glorify God, by contributing to the happiness of mankind, as far as our influence or our ability can go. “Our goodness cannot extend, unto the Lord," but it may be extended to our neighbour in various ways. He then most effe&tually glorifies God, who is the most useful to his fellow creatures.
At what an aflonishing distance from this love, is the man who perversely deprives another of any temporal privilege which it is in his power to grant, without the least inconvenience to himself, or to any one clie; yet he not only withholds it, but also takes a kind of pleasure in seeing his neighbour distressed for lack of that