Images de page

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evening lectures; when, frequently having funeral sermons to preach, the character and experience of the dead helped to elucidate the subject, led to press diligence in the christian course, to reflect upon the blessing of faith on earth, and glory in heaven. Mr. Whitefield adopted the custom of the inhabitants of New-England in their best days, of beginning the Sabbath at six o'clock on Saturday evenings. The custom could not be observed by many, but it was convenient to a few-a few compared with the multitude; but abstractedly considered, a large and respectable company. Now ministers of every description found a peculiar pleasure in relaxing their minds from the fatigues of study, and were highly entertained by his peculiarly excellent subjects, which were so suitable to the auditory, that I believe it was seldom disappointed. It was an opportunity peculiarly suited to apprentices and journeymen in some businesses, which allowed of their leaving work sooner than on other days, and availing themselves at least of the sermon; from which I also occasionally obtained my blessings. Had my memory been retentive, and I had studiously treasured up his rich remarks, how much more easily might I have met your wishes, and have answered the design of this letter! But though I have lost much of the letter of his sermons, the savour of them yet remains. The peculiar talents he possessed, subservient to great usefulness, can be but faintly guessed from his sermons in print; though, as formerly, God has made the reading of them useful, I have no doubt but in future they will have their use. The eighteen taken in short hand, and faithfully transcribed by Mr. Gurney, have been supposed to do discredit to his memory, and therefore they were

[ocr errors]

suppressed. But they who have been accustomed to hear him, may collect from them much of his genuine preaching. They were far from being the best specimens that might have been produced. He preached many of them when, in fact, he was almost incapable of preaching at all. His constitution, long before they were taken, had received its material shock, and they were all, except the two last, the production of a Wednesday evening; when, by the current business of the day, he was fatigued and worn out. The "Good Shepherd" was sent him on board the ship. He was much disgusted with it, and expressed himself to me as in the 1440th letter of the third volume of his works"It is not verbatim as I delivered it. In some places it makes me speak false concord, and even nonsense; in others the sense and connexion is destroyed by the injudicious disjointed paragraphs, and the whole is entirely unfit for the public review." His manuscript journal, as quoted by Dr. Gillies, notes--" September 15. This morning came a surreptitious copy of my Tabernacle farewell sermon, taken, as the short-hand writer professes, verbatim as I spoke it; but surely he is mistaken. The whole is so injudiciously paragraphed, and so wretchedly unconnected, that I owe no thanks to the misguided, though it may be, well meant, zeal of the writer and publisher, be they whom they will. But such conduct is an unavoidable tax upon popularity." He was then like an ascending Elijah, and many were eager to catch his dropping mantle. In the sermons referred to, there are certainly many jewels, though they may not be connected in a proper order.

Whatever fault criticism may find with his sermons from the press, they were, in the delivery,

powerful to command the most devoted attention. I have been informed by good judges, that if many of the speeches in our two houses were to be given in their original state, they would not appear to the first advantage, nor would Mr. Whitefield's sermons have had criminal defects, had they been revised with his own pen. In the fifth and sixth volumes of his works, all the sermons he ever printed are comprised. It is very easy to distinguish them which were pre-composed, from others which were preached extemporary. Of the latter, I notice Peter's denial of his Lord, and the true way of beholding the Lamb of God; Abraham's offering up his son Isaac; Christ, the believer's husband; and the resurrection of Lazarus. These and others preserve the extemporary style, and fully serve to discover the exactness of the preacher. He shines brightest with a long text, on which fancy has scope to play, and the mind has liberty to range. However exact he may appear in the page, it is impossible for the natural man, who discerneth not the things of the Spirit, to understand him. God God may make the page printed, the instrument in his hand, to convert the sinner, and then he will no longer ask, "Doth he not speak parables?" but, till then, as living he was, so dead, he is liable to the lash of severity: but the same Providence that preserved his person, will maintain his works: and thus, he being dead, yet speaketh, and will continue to speak, for a great while to come. Whatever invidious remarks they inay make upon his written discourses, they cannot invalidate his preaching. Mr. Toplady called him the prince of preachers, and with good reason, for none in our day preached with the like effect.



No. IX.



UR second result, which was partly elucidated in the last number, embraces the mutual rights and duties growing out of the relation in which the children of believing parents stand to the church of God *.

Such children, we observed, have a right, even in their infancy, to a solemn acknowledgment of their membership by the administration of baptism-to the prayers of Christians in private-and in the public worship of the church, to her instruction, protection, and control.

Corresponding with these rights, there are certain duties incumbent on youth born within her pale. They are bound to revere her authority; to promote her happiness; and to own their relation to her by professing the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; showing forth his death in the communion of the holy supper; and walking in all his ordinances and commandments blameless.

Let us now turn the question, and view it in its relation to the rights and duties of the Christian church toward such children.

C. Mag. Vol. II. p. 108, &c.

A right to provide for the proper education of their youth, has always been claimed, and exercised in some form or other, by every civilized community. It is, indeed, inherent in the very nature of human society; as it springs out of that great, universal, and essential principle of man-self-preservation. The risen generation, is, for the most part, fixed. Their habits are formed, their characters settled, and what is to be expected from them may be ascertained with sufficient exactness for the principal purposes of life. Not so with the rising race. No sagacity can foretell what characters shall be developed, or what parts performed, by these boys and girls who throng our streets, and sport in our fields. In their tender breasts are concealed the germs, in their little hands are lodged the weapons, of a nation's overthrow or glory. Would it not, then, be madness; would it not be a sort of political suicide, for the commonwealth to be unconcerned what direction their infant powers shall take; or into what habits their budding affections shall ripen? Or will it be disputed, that the civil authority has a right to take care, by a paternal interference, on behalf of the children, that the next generation shall not prostrate in an hour, whatever has been consecrated to truth, to virtue, and to happiness, by the generations that are past?

If this is the common privilege of human nature, on what principle shall it be denied to the church of God? Spiritual in her character, furnished with every light to guide the understanding; and every precept to mould the heart.-possessing whatever is fearful to deter from sin, and whatever is sweet and alluring to win to God and holiness, how is it possible that she can have no right to bring these her advantages to bear upon the youth committed

« PrécédentContinuer »