Infomotions, Inc.A Practical Directory for Young Christian Females Being a Series of Letters from a Brother to a Younger Sister / Newcomb, Harvey, 1803-1863



Author: Newcomb, Harvey, 1803-1863
Title: A Practical Directory for Young Christian Females Being a Series of Letters from a Brother to a Younger Sister
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): christ; god; prayer; christian; holy
Contributor(s): Preston, May Wilson [Illustrator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 87,225 words (short) Grade range: 8-11 (high school) Readability score: 62 (easy)
Identifier: etext17934
Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

Discover what books you consider "great". Take the Great Books Survey.

The Project Gutenberg EBook of A Practical Directory for Young Christian
Females, by Harvey Newcomb

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org


Title: A Practical Directory for Young Christian Females
       Being a Series of Letters from a Brother to a Younger Sister

Author: Harvey Newcomb

Release Date: March 6, 2006 [EBook #17934]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK A PRACTICAL DIRECTORY FOR ***




Produced by PM Childrens Library, Pilar Somoza and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
(This file was produced from images generously made
available by The University of Florida, The Internet
Archive/Children's Library)









                                 A
                       PRACTICAL DIRECTORY
                                FOR
                     YOUNG CHRISTIAN FEMALES;
                              BEING A
                         SERIES OF LETTERS
                               FROM A
                    BROTHER TO A YOUNGER SISTER.


                         BY HARVEY NEWCOMB.


     WRITTEN FOR THE MASSACHUSETTS SABBATH SCHOOL SOCIETY, AND
             APPROVED BY THE COMMITTEE OF PUBLICATION.


                          Seventh Edition.


                              BOSTON:
                 MASSACHUSETTS SABBATH SCHOOL SOCIETY
                     Depository, No. 13 Cornhill.




    Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1833, by
                        CHRISTOPHER C. DEAN,
   In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.


                          Stereotyped by
                        HOBART & ROBBINS;
               NEW ENGLAND TYPE AND STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY,
                              BOSTON.




PREFACE.


The following Letters were truly, as they profess to have been, written
to a younger sister of the author. By the death of her parents, she was
left, in a measure, dependent upon him, at an early age. She had been
the subject of many prayers, and endeared by many ties. His house, as he
humbly trusts, was the place of her second birth. As she was about to
leave his roof, for a residence among strangers, the idea occurred to
him of imbodying his fraternal counsel in such a form that it might be a
friendly monitor to her, in the midst of those dangers and difficulties
which beset the path of inexperienced youth. In prosecuting this design,
it appeared hardly proper to bestow so much time upon the interests of
one individual. Hence the writer concluded to commit these Letters to
the press, with the hope that they might be the means of doing some
good. This work is intended not merely to be read and laid aside; but,
as its title imports, to be kept as a kind of _practical directory_ for
daily living. This edition has been revised with great care, and much
new matter added.

BOSTON, 1851.




CONTENTS.


_Preface_,                                                             5


LETTER I.

_The Christian's Mark_,                                               17

  Introduction,                                                       17
  A Great Mistake,                                                    17
  The Grace of God a Growing Principle,                               18
  The Spring that never dries nor freezes,                            19
  Growth in Grace,                                                    20
  The Glory of God, how manifested,                                   21
  The true Standard of Holiness,                                      21
  Paul's desire for Higher Attainments,                               22
  How Eminent Holiness is attained,                                   23
  Examples of Eminent Persons,                                        23
  Mrs. Edwards,                                                       24
  Earnestness in Religion,                                            25
  Religion the great Business of Life,                                25


LETTER II.

_Importance of a thorough Knowledge of the Doctrines of
Christianity; Means of obtaining it_,                                 26

  Connection of Doctrine and Practice,                                26
  Religion compared to a Building,                                    27
  The Holy Spirit operates through the Truth,                         28
  Genuine and Spurious Religious Affections distinguished,            28
  Office of the Truth in Sanctification,                              29
  Doctrinal Knowledge without Practice,                               29

_Directions_,                                                         30

  1. Becomes a Little Child,                                          30
     The Starting Point of Error,                                     31
  2. Avoid a Controversial Spirit,                                    31
     An Error of Young Persons,                                       31
  3. Use Helps,                                                       32
     Writings of Men, why studied,                                    32
     Bible the Text Book,                                             32
  4. Seek the Aid of the Holy Spirit,                                 32


LETTER III.

_True Religion a Work of Grace in the Heart, but must be
carried out in the Conduct_,                                          33

  Inconstancy of False Religion,                                      34
  Fruitfulness of True Piety,                                         34
  Fruits of the True and False Professor contrasted,                  35
  Fruit-bearing the test of Christian Character,                      36
  The Fruits of the Spirit,                                           36
  Love, as in the Experience of David,                                37
  Manifested in willing Obedience,                                    38
  Love of the Brethren,                                               38
  Spiritual Joy. Peace,                                               39
  Peace of Mind; its Manifestations,                                  40
  Meekness the Twin Sister of Peace,                                  41
  Long-suffering, Gentleness,                                         41
  Goodness,                                                           42
  Faith, a Common Principle of Action,                                42
  An Operative Principle,                                             43
  Power of Faith. Temperance,                                         43


LETTER IV.

_Reading and Study of the, Bible_,                                    44

  Search the Scriptures,                                              45
  We must set our Hearts to it,                                       45

_Directions_,                                                         46

  1. Read the Bible in your Closet,                                   46
  2. Preparation of the Heart,                                        47
  3. Seek the Aid of the Holy Spirit,                                 47
  4. Read with Self-application,                                      47
  5. Read the Scriptures regularly,                                   48
  6. Study the Bible systematically,                                  48
     Variety and Harmony of the Bible,                                49
     Things to be observed,                                           49
     Wisdom of Divine Inspiration,                                    49
     How to remove Difficulties,                                      50
     Commentaries. Tasks,                                             50
     Read in Course,                                                  51
     Close Study of the Bible,                                        51
     Constant Subjects of Inquiry,                                    52
     The Bible a History of the Church,                               52
     Periods of the History of the Church,                            52
     Take notice what Period you are reading,                         53
     Inquire what Doctrine or Principle is taught, recognized,
       illustrated, or enforced,                                      53
     Note the Promises and Predictions,                               53
     Take Notes,                                                      53
     Read the Gospel to study the Character of Christ,                53
     Things to be observed in Sacred History and Biography,           54
     Poetic and Didactic Parts of the Bible,                          55
     The Prophecies,                                                  55


LETTER V.

_Prayer and Fasting_,                                                 57

  Duty of Prayer,                                                     57
  Prayer defined,                                                     58
  Examples,                                                           59
  The Lord's Prayer; its Use,                                         59
  The Power of Prayer,                                                60
  The Promises,                                                       61
  The Promises exemplified,                                           61
  The Arians. Francke. Dr. West,                                      63
  The Slave liberated by Prayer,                                      64
  Asking amiss,                                                       64
  We must desire the Things we ask, for the Glory of God,             65

_We must ask_,--

  For Things agreeable to the Will of God,                            65
  In Faith,                                                           66
  With Humble Submission,                                             67

_Practical Hints_,                                                    67

  1. Maintain a Constant Spirit of Prayer,                            67
  2. Observe Stated and Regular Seasons of Prayer,                    68
  3. Observe Special Seasons of Prayer,                               71
     Fasting,                                                         72
  4. Preparation of Heart,                                            74
  5. Persevere in Prayer,                                             74


LETTER VI.

_Temptation_,                                                         76

  Existence of the Devil,                                             76
  His Character,                                                      76
  1. He is Powerful,                                                  77
     His Power limited,                                               77
     Why he is permitted to exercise Power,                           77
  2. He has much Knowledge,                                           78
  3. He is Wicked,                                                    78
  4. He is Crafty, Deceitful, and Treacherous,                        78
  5. He is a Liar,                                                    78
  6. He is Malicious,                                                 79
  The Devices of Satan,                                               79
  He suits his Temptations to our Circumstances,                      80
  Impulses to be tried by the Word of God,                            81
  Subtlety of Satan,                                                  82
  Temptations from the World,                                         82
  From our own Hearts,                                                82
  The Heart a Castle,                                                 83
  We must set a Watch,                                                83
  The Double Watch,                                                   83
  Watch _unto_ Prayer,                                                83
  Watch _in_ Prayer,                                                  84
  Watch on the Mount,                                                 84
  Watch in Despondency,                                               84
  Watch when Cheerful,                                                84
  Watch in Prosperity,                                                85
  Watch in Adversity,                                                 85
  Watch over the Tongue,                                              85
  Watch when doing Good,                                              85
  Watch against Besetting Sins,                                       85
  Watch over the Imagination,                                         85


LETTER VII.

_Self-Denial_,                                                        86

  Nature and Consequences of Selfishness,                             87
  The Selfish Principle surrendered,                                  87
  Self-Denial defined and applied,                                    89
  Essential to Christian Character,                                   89
  Christ's Example,                                                   89
  A Caution,                                                          90


LETTER VIII.

_Public and Social Worship, and Sabbath Employments_,                 90

  Duty of Public Worship,                                             91
  Example of "Holy Men of Old,"                                       91
  Of Christ and the Apostles,                                         91
  Public Worship an Imperative Duty,                                  93
  Sin and Danger of neglecting it,                                    94
  Attend the stated Ministry of your Pastor,                          95
  Be Punctual at Church,                                              96
  Go with Preparation of Heart,                                       96
  Deportment in the House of God,                                     97
  Singing. Prayer. Wandering Thoughts,                                97
  Take heed how you hear,                                             98
  Ambassadors. The Check Book,                                        98
  The Noble Bereans,                                                  99
  Fault-Finding,                                                      99
  Self-Application,                                                  100
  Hearing for Others,                                                100
  Hear with a Prayerful Frame,                                       100
  Remember and Practise what you hear,                               100
  Meetings for Social Prayer,                                        100
  Be governed by Principle,                                          101
  Female Prayer Meetings,                                            101
  The Sabbath-school,                                                102
  Three Requisites,                                                  102
  Hints on Sabbath-school Instruction,                               103
  Skill in Teaching,                                                 103
  Study the Juvenile Mind,                                           104
  Use Helps,                                                         104
  Aim at drawing out the Minds of Children,                          104
  Catechising,                                                       105
  Dependence,                                                        105
  Let your own Heart be affected,                                    105
  Personal Application,                                              105
  Earnestly seek God's Blessing,                                     106
  Private Sabbath Duties,                                            106
  Spend much Time in your Closet,                                    107
  Spend none in seeking Ease or Pleasure,                            107
  Watch over your Thoughts,                                          107
  Set a Guard over your Lips,                                        108


LETTER IX.

_Meditation_,                                                        108

  1. Its Importance,                                                 109
  2. Time and Manner of,                                             109
  3. Subjects of Meditation,                                         111

SUBJECTS PROPOSED AND ARRANGED.

_I. Character and Attributes of God_,                                112

  1. Self Existence,                                                 112
  2. Eternity and Immortality,                                       112
  3. Omnipresence and Omniscience,                                   113
  4. Omnipotence and Independence,                                   113
  5. Benevolence,                                                    114
  6. Justice,                                                        114
  7. Truth,                                                          115
  8. Mercy,                                                          116
  9. Wisdom,                                                         116

_II. Doctrines_,                                                     117

  1. Decrees of God,                                                 117
  2. Sovereignty of God,                                             118
  3. Human Depravity,                                                118
  4. Regeneration,                                                   119
  5. Condition of Fallen Man,                                        119
  6. Plan of Redemption,                                             119
  7. Justification,                                                  119
  8. Adoption,                                                       120
  9. Sanctification,                                                 120
  10. Death,                                                         120
  11. Heaven,                                                        121
  12. The Resurrection,                                              121
  13. The Judgment,                                                  121
  14. The World of Woe,                                              122

_III. Character of Christ_,                                          122

_IV. Names and Offices of Christ_,                                   124

  1. Saviour,                                                        124
  2. Redeemer,                                                       124
  3. Prophet,                                                        124
  4. Priest,                                                         124
  5. King,                                                           124
  6. Mediator,                                                       125
  7. Advocate, and Intercessor,                                      125
  8. Friend,                                                         126
  9. Elder Brother,                                                  126
  10. Husband,                                                       126

_V. The Christian Graces_,                                           126

  1. Faith,                                                          126
  2. Hope,                                                           126
  3. Charity or Love,                                                127
  4. Joy,                                                            127
  5. Peace,                                                          127
  6. Brotherly Kindness,                                             127
  7. Humility,                                                       127
  8. Patience,                                                       127
  9. Long-suffering,                                                 128
  10. A Forgiving Temper,                                            128
  11. Meekness,                                                      128
  12. Gentleness,                                                    128
  13. Temperance,                                                    128
  14. Virtue or Moral Courage,                                       128


LETTER X.

_The Preservation of Health_,                                        129

  Connection of Health and Usefulness,                               129
  Duty of Preserving Health,                                         130
  Physiology. Habits,                                                131
  Influence of Ladies,                                               131

_Rules for Preserving Health_,                                       131

  1. Make Conscience of it,                                          131
  2. Be Cheerful,                                                    132
  3. Be Regular in your Habits,                                      133
  4. Exercise,                                                       134
     Delicate Training of Young Ladies,                              135
  5. Practise frequent Ablutions,                                    135
  6. Pay Attention to the Quantity and Quality of Food,              136
     Effects of bad or excessive Diet,                               137
     How to glorify God in Eating and Drinking,                      138
  7. Taking Medicine,                                                139


LETTER XI.

_Mental Cultivation. Reading_,                                       141

  Object of Education,                                               141
  Written Exercises,                                                 142
  Discipline. Perseverance,                                          143
  Reading,                                                           144
  Hints on Reading History,                                          144
  Biography,                                                         147
  Doctrinal and Miscellaneous Reading,                               148
  Newspapers and Periodicals,                                        148
  Light Reading. English Classics,                                   150


LETTER XII.

_Improvement of Time. Present Obligation_,                           151

  Value of Moments,                                                  151
  How to redeem Time,                                                152
  Systematic Arrangements,                                           153
  Motives for being Systematic,                                      153
  Nature of Obligation,                                              154


LETTER XIII.

_Christian Activity_,                                                156

  Female Influence,                                                  156
  May be felt in the Bible Society,                                  156
  In the Tract Society,                                              158
  Monthly Tract Distribution,                                        158
  The Missionary Cause,                                              159
  Influence in Behalf of the Poor,                                   160
  A Plea for the Poor,                                               161
  Example of Christ,                                                 162
  Temperance,                                                        163
  Interest of Females in the Subject,                                163
  Conversation,                                                      164
  Influence in bringing People under the Sound of the Gospel,        164
  Influence directly on the Impenitent,                              164

_The Duty enjoined_,                                                 164

  1. By the Example of Christ,                                       165
  2. By Love to God,                                                 165
  3. By Love to our Neighbor,                                        165
  4. By the Injunctions of Scripture,                                166
     Facts,                                                          168
     Wonderful Influence exerted by one Woman,                       169

_Cautions_,                                                          172

  1. Avoid Ostentation,                                              172
  2. Prudence and Discretion,                                        172
  3. Be Resolute and Persevering,                                    173
  4. Be much in Prayer,                                              173


LETTER XIV.

_Dress_,                                                             174

  Design of Dress,                                                   174
  Things to be observed,                                             175
  1. All you have is the Lord's,                                     175
  2. Your Time is the Lord's,                                        176
  3. Personal Appearance,                                            177
     Influence of Christianity,                                      177
  4. Regard to Health,                                               178
     Compression of the Chest,                                       178
  5. Do not make too much of it,                                     179


LETTER XV.

_Social and Relative Duties_,                                        180

  The Family Relation,                                               180
  Household Law,                                                     181

_Rules_,                                                             183

  1. In Relation to the Family,                                      183
  2. To the Church,                                                  184
  3. To Society in general,                                          186
  4. Visiting,                                                       187
  5. Worldly Society,                                                188
  6. Conversation,                                                   188
  7. Discussion of Absent Characters,                                189
  8. Speaking of one's self,                                         191
  9. A Suspicious Disposition,                                       191
  10. Intimate Friendships,                                          192
  11. Before going into Company, visit your Closet,                  192


LETTER XVI.

_Charity_,                                                           193

  General Description of,                                            193
  Long Suffering,                                                    194
  Kindness,                                                          194
  Envy,                                                              196
  Self-Conceit,                                                      197
  Description of a Self-conceited Person,                            197
  Self-conceited Confidence not Independence of Mind,                198
  Unseemliness,                                                      199
  Forwardness,                                                       199
  Impertinence,                                                      200
  Taking the Lead in Conversation,                                   200
  Fierce Contention for Rights,                                      201
  Rudeness, Grossness,                                               201
  Disinterestedness,                                                 201
  Selfishness,                                                       201
  Churlishness,                                                      203
  Good Nature,                                                       203
  Jealousy,                                                          204
  Fault Finding,                                                     205
  Telling others their Faults,                                       206
  Christian Watch not Espionage,                                     206
  Effects of Ruminating upon the Faults of Others,                   206
  Sours the Temper and leads to Misanthropy,                         206
  Charitable Joy,                                                    206
  Censoriousness, a Mark of an Impenitent Heart,                     207
  Apostates, before their Fall, noted far Censoriousness,            208
  Humble Christians not Censorious,                                  209
  Duty of Rejoicing in the Goodness of Others,                       210
  Charity, positively,                                               211
  Charity beareth all Things,                                        211
  Believeth all Things,                                              212
  Endureth all Things,                                               212


LETTER XVII.

_Harmony of Christian Character_,                                    214

  Harmony of Sounds, Colors, and Proportions, delights the Senses,   214
  Harmonious Development of the Christian Graces,                    215
  Effects of the Disproportionate Development of Character,          217
  How Young Christiana fall into this Error,                         218


LETTER XVIII.

_Marriage_,                                                          220

  Marriage Desirable,                                                220
  Marriage not Indispensable,                                        221

_Qualifications Indispensable in a Companion for Life_,              222

  1. Piety,                                                          222
  2. An Amiable Disposition,                                         224
  3. A Well-cultivated Mind,                                         224
  4. Congeniality of Sentiment and of Feeling,                       225
  5. Energy of Character,                                            225
  6. Suitableness of Age,                                            226

_Qualifications Desirable_,                                          226

  1. A Sound Body,                                                   226
  2. Refinement of Manners,                                          226
  3. A Sound Judgment,                                               227
  4. Prudence,                                                       227
  5. Similarity of Religious Sentiment and Profession,               227
     Treatment of Gentlemen,                                         228
     A Peculiar Affection necessary,                                 229
     Social Intercourse with Gentlemen,                              229
     General Remarks,                                                230


LETTER XIX.

_Submission_--_Contentment_--_Dependence_,                           233

  The Hand of God in all Things,                                     233
  Comforting Considerations,                                         235
  Supply of Temporal Wants,                                          236
  Duty of Contentment,                                               237


LETTER XX.

_Self-Examination_,                                                  238

  Danger of Neglecting it,                                           238
  Assurance Attainable,                                              239
  Witness of the Spirit,                                             239

_Objects_,                                                           241

  1. To discover Sin,                                                241
  Questions for Saturday Evening,                                    243
      "     for Sabbath Evening,                                     244
  Questions for every Evening,--(several sets,)                      245
  (1.) When Time is limited,                                         245
  (2.) For Ordinary Occasions,                                       246
  (3.) Dr. Doddridge's Questions,                                    247
  (4.) When you have more Time than usual,                           248
  2. To ascertain why Prayer is not answered,                        251
  3. As to the Cause of Afflictions,                                 253
  4. Whether we are Christians,                                      253

_Am I a Christian_?--Questions,                                      255

  (1.) As to Views of Sin,                                           255
  (2.) Of the Government of God,                                     256
  (3.) Faith in Christ,                                              257
  (4.) Love to God,                                                  258
  (5.) Christian Character in General,                               260
  5. Preparation for the Lord's Table,                               262
  Questions,                                                         262

_Conclusion_,                                                        264


APPENDIX.

     A Course of Reading,                                            267
  I. Sacred History,                                                 267
     Profane History,                                                267
 II. Christian Doctrine,                                             268
III. Biography,                                                      268
 IV. Miscellaneous,                                                  268




LETTERS, &c.




LETTER I.

_The Christian's Mark._

    "Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto
    those things which are before, I _press_ towards the mark for the
    prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."--PHIL. 3:13,
    14.


MY DEAR SISTER,

Ever since the death of our dear mother, I have felt a deep interest in
your welfare. And your being left, while young, in a measure dependent
upon me, has increased my affection for you. You have now left my roof,
to sojourn among strangers. You have little knowledge of the world, and
your religious experience has been short. I trust, therefore, you will
cordially receive a few hints from one whose fraternal affection has
been strengthened by many peculiar circumstances, and who, for many
years, has not ceased to remember you in his prayers.

Young Christians, when they first obtain peace and comfort in Christ,
are prone to think the struggle over, the victory won. But nothing can
be farther from the truth. They have but just enlisted under the banner
of the great Captain of their salvation, in a warfare which will never
cease till they shall have obtained the final victory over sin and
death, and entered into the joy of their Lord. This mistake often leads
them to be satisfied with what they have already experienced, and to
cease that constant inward strife and earnestness, which they exercised
while under conviction, before they found "joy and peace in believing."
They see such a heavenly sweetness in divine things, that they think it
impossible they should "lose the relish all their days." This begets
self-confidence, and they trust in their own strength to keep where they
are, instead of eagerly pressing forward, in the strength of Christ,
after higher attainments. The consequence is, they soon lose their
lively sense of divine things, backslide from God, and become cold and
barren in their religious affections. A little child, when it first
begins to walk, is safe while it keeps hold of the hand of its mother,
or faithful nurse. But, when it begins to feel confident of its own
strength, and lets go its hold, it soon totters and falls. So with the
Christian. He is safe while he keeps a firm hold of Christ's hand. But
the moment he attempts to walk alone, he stumbles and falls.

The Scriptures represent the grace of God in the heart, as a growing
principle. It is compared to a mustard-seed, which is the least of all
seeds. But, when it springs up, it rises and spreads its branches, till
it becomes the greatest of all herbs. The beauty and appropriateness of
this figure will not be appreciated, unless we take into consideration
the luxuriant growth of plants in Eastern countries. The Jews have a
fable of a mustard-tree whose branches were so extensive as to cover a
tent. There are two things that no one would expect to see, in the
growth of such a plant: (1.) To spring at once into full maturity. (2.)
To become stationary in its growth, before it arrives at maturity. If it
ceases to grow, it must wither away and die.

The spiritual reign of Christ in the heart is also compared to a _little
leaven_, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the
whole was leavened. It was so little at first that it was said to be
_hid_. It could not be seen. So grace, when first implanted in the
heart, is often so little in degree, and so much buried up in remaining
corruption, that it can scarcely be discovered at all. But the moment
the leaven begins to work, it increases without ceasing, till the whole
is leavened.

Again; Christ says, "the water that I shall give him shall be _in him_ a
well of water, _springing up into everlasting life_." When these words
were uttered, our Lord was sitting upon a deep well, in conversation
with the woman of Samaria. As his custom was, he drew instruction from
the objects around him. He directed her attention away from the water
which can only quench animal thirst, to that living water which
refreshes the soul. But she, not understanding him, wished to know how
he could obtain _living water_ from a deep well, without anything to
draw with. In order to show the superiority of the water of life, he
told her that those who drank it should have it _in them_, constantly
springing up of itself, as if the waters of the well should rise up and
overflow, without being drawn. The very idea of a _living spring_ seems
to cut off the hope of backsliders. You remember the cold spring that
used to flow from the rock, before our father's door. The severest
drought never affected it, and in the coldest season of a northern
winter it was never frozen. Oft, as I rose in the morning, when the
chilling blasts whistled around our dwelling, and everything seemed
sealed up with perpetual frost, the ice and snow would be smoking around
the spring. Thus, like a steady stream, let your graces flow, unaffected
by the drought or barrenness of others, melting the icy hearts around
you.

This "_living water_," in the soul, is intended to represent the
indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In the new birth, there is formed a holy
union between the Spirit of God and the faculties of the soul, so that
every correct feeling, with every good act, is produced by the Holy
Spirit acting in unison with those faculties. Hence, our bodies are
called the temple of the Holy Ghost, and he is said to dwell in us. What
a solemn truth! What holy fear and carefulness ought we to feel
continually; and how softly should we walk before the Lord of Hosts!

"The righteous," says David, "shall flourish like a palm-tree; he shall
_grow_ like a cedar in Lebanon." But if the cedar should cease to grow
as soon as it springs up, it would never become a tree. It must wither
and die.--Again; it is said, "Ye shall _go forth and grow up as calves
of the stall_." A healthy calf, that is fed in the stall, cannot but
grow and thrive. And surely the Lord has furnished us, in his holy word,
abundant food for our spiritual growth and nourishment. If the calf is
diseased, or if he refuses to eat, he will pine away and die; and so
with us. The apostle Paul speaks of _growing up_ into Christ, in all
things; and of _increasing_ in the knowledge of God. By this he
evidently means, that experimental knowledge of God in our hearts, by
which we are changed into his image. The apostle Peter exhorts us to
"_grow_ in the grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ." Again, he directs us to feed upon the sincere and simple truths
of the gospel, as the infant is nourished by its mother's milk, and to
_grow_ thereby. As conversion is called being "born again," the young
convert is very properly compared to a "new-born babe." As a babe is
least when first born, so the Christian, when first converted, has the
least grace; unless, indeed, he becomes diseased, and pines away, like a
sickly infant. And such is truly the deplorable case of the backslider.

The motives which urge us to seek and maintain an elevated standard of
piety are the highest that can be presented to our minds. _The glory of
God requires it._ This is the greatest possible good. It is the
manifestation of the divine perfections to his intelligent creatures.
This manifestation is made by discovering to them his works of creation,
providence, and grace, and by impressing his moral image upon their
hearts. In this their happiness consists. In promoting his own glory,
therefore, God exercises the highest degree of disinterested
benevolence. Nothing can add to his happiness; nothing can diminish it.
If the whole creation were blotted out, and God were the only Being in
the universe, he would still be perfectly glorious and happy in himself.
There can be, therefore, no selfishness in his desiring his own glory.
It is the good of the creature alone that is promoted by it. A desire to
glorify God must, then, be the ruling principle of all your conduct, the
moving spring of all your actions. But how is the glory of God promoted
by your growth in grace?

1. It is manifested to yourself, by impressing his image upon your
heart; and by giving you a spiritual discovery of the excellence, purity
and loveliness, of his moral character.

2. It is manifested to others, so far as you maintain a holy life and
conversation; for thereby the moral image of Christ is exhibited. The
glory of Christ is manifested by the holy walk of his people, just as
the glory of the sun appears by the reflected light of the moon.

3. The glory of God is promoted by making others acquainted with the
exhaustless riches of free grace, and bringing them to Christ; for, by
that means, they receive spiritual light to behold the beauty and glory
of the divine perfections, and his image is stamped upon their souls.
But your usefulness in this respect depends mainly upon the measure of
grace you have in your own heart. The reason why many Christians do so
little good in the world is, that they have so little piety. If you
would be eminently useful, you must be eminently holy.

But, you may ask, "What is the standard at which I must aim?" I answer:
The law of God is the only true standard of moral excellence; and you
have the pattern of that law carried out in action, in the perfect life
of our blessed Lord and Master. No standard short of this will answer
the requirements of the word of God. "He that abideth in him, ought
himself also so to walk, EVEN AS HE WALKED." All that we fall short of
this is _sin_. There is no want of ability in the case, but what arises
from our own voluntary wickedness of heart. Christ says that he came not
to _destroy_ the law, but to fulfil it. "We are not released from the
_obligation_ of perfect obedience; though grace has taken away the
_necessity_ of such obedience as the ground of our acceptance with God."
The law is not made void, but established, by grace. We cannot be
_saved_ by our obedience; because we have already broken the law, and we
cannot mend it. But, while we trust alone in Christ, independent of
anything in ourselves, for justification before God, the signs or
evidences of our faith must be found within us. There must be a new and
holy principle in our hearts; and just as far as this principle
prevails, so far it will show itself in obedience to the law of God.
There is no resting-place, in the agonizing conflict, till we are "_holy
as God is holy_." I do not say that Christians ever do become perfectly
holy in this life. The contrary appears, from the testimony both of
Scripture and experience, to be the universal fact. But this is the
measure of obligation, and we should strive after it with all the
earnestness of which we are capable.

We must not settle down contented with our attainments, while one sin
remains unsubdued in our hearts. The Scriptures are full of this
doctrine. The apostle Paul expresses far more earnestness of desire
after higher attainments in the divine life than is ever felt by such
Christians as have only a feeble and glimmering hope of entering the
abodes of the blessed. "If _by any means_," says he, "I might attain
unto the resurrection of the dead;" or that state of perfect holiness
which the saints will have attained at the resurrection. And the kind of
effort which he put forth to obtain the object of his desires is most
forcibly described in the passage quoted at the beginning of this
letter. In view of this standard, you will be able to see, in some
measure, the exceeding sinfulness of sin; and it will drive you more
entirely out of yourself to the cross of Christ. You will see the
necessity of daily renewing your repentance, submission, and faith.

You see, from what the apostle says of his own experience, that high
spiritual attainments are not to be expected without great labor and
strife. True piety is indeed the work of the Holy Spirit; but the fact
that God works in us to will and to do of his good pleasure, is made the
ground of Paul's exhortation to work out our own salvation with fear and
trembling.

The attainments of eminent saints are too generally looked upon as out
of the reach of common Christians. They seem to think God is not willing
to give all his children the same measure of grace. But he could not
have said more than he has in his holy word, to convince them to the
contrary. "Open thy mouth _wide_, and I will fill it." Our Lord
repeatedly assures us that God is more willing to give good things to
those that ask him, than earthly parents are to give good gifts to their
children. And whoever will read the lives of such eminent Christians as
Edwards, Whitefield, Brainerd, Martyn, Payson, Mrs. Edwards, Mrs.
Anthony, Mrs. Huntington, James B. Taylor, and many others which might
be mentioned,--and take notice of the means which they used, will not be
surprised at their attainments. The Bible represents the Christian as in
the constant exercise of holy affections; and we should never rest with
anything short of this. Some of the persons I have mentioned did arrive
at such a state of feeling. President Edwards enjoyed, for many years,
the constant light of God's countenance, and habitual communion with
him. And so did Mrs. Edwards, James B. Taylor, and many others.

She, for a long time, enjoyed, as she said, "THE RICHES OF FULL
ASSURANCE." She felt "an uninterrupted and entire resignation to God,
with respect to health or sickness, ease or pain, life or death; and an
entire resignation of the lives of her nearest earthly friends." She
also felt a "sweet peace and serenity of soul, without a cloud to
interrupt it; a continual rejoicing in all the works of nature and
Providence; a wonderful access to God by prayer, sensibly conversing
with him, as much as if God were here on earth; frequent, plain,
sensible, and immediate answers to prayer; all tears wiped away; all
former troubles and sorrows of life forgotten, except sorrow for sin;
doing everything for God's glory, with a continual and uninterrupted
cheerfulness, peace, and joy." At the same time, she engaged in the
common duties of life with great diligence, considering them as a part
of the service of God; and, when done from this motive, she said they
were as delightful as prayer itself. She also showed an "extreme anxiety
to avoid every sin, and to discharge every moral obligation; she was
most exemplary in the performance of every social and relative duty;
exhibited great inoffensiveness of life and conversation; great
meekness, benevolence, and gentleness of spirit; and avoided, with
remarkable conscientiousness, all those things which she regarded as
failings in her own character."

How did these persons arrive at this eminence in the Christian life?
Although by free sovereign grace, yet it was by no miracle. If you will
use the same means, you may attain the same end. In the early part of
his Christian life, President Edwards says,--"I felt a _burning desire_
to be, in everything, a _complete_ Christian, and conformed to the
blessed image of Christ. I had an eager thirsting after _progress_ in
these things, which put me upon pursuing and _pressing_ after them. It
was my _continual strife_, day and night, and constant inquiry, how I
should _be_ more holy, and _live_ more holily, and more becoming a child
of God, and a disciple of Christ. I now sought an increase of grace and
holiness, and a holy life, with much more earnestness than ever I sought
grace before I had it. I used to be continually examining myself, and
studying and contriving for likely _ways and means_, how I should live
holily, with far greater diligence and earnestness than ever I pursued
anything in my life; yet, with too great a dependence on my own
strength--which afterwards proved a great damage to me." "Mrs. Edwards
had been long in an uncommon manner growing in grace, and rising, by
very _sensible degrees_, to higher love to God, weanedness to the world,
and mastery over sin and temptation, through _great trials and
conflicts_, and long-continued _struggling_ and _fighting_ with sin, and
_earnest_ and _constant prayer_ and _labor_ in religion, and engagedness
of mind in the use of all means. This growth had been attended, not only
with a great increase of religious affections, but with a most visible
alteration of outward behavior; particularly in living above the world,
and in a greater degree of steadfastness and strength in the way of duty
and self-denial; maintaining the Christian conflict under temptations,
and conquering, from time to time, under _great trials_; persisting in
an unmoved, untouched calm and rest, under the _changes and accidents_
of time, such as seasons of extreme pain and apparent hazard of
immediate death."

You will find accounts of similar trials and struggles in the lives of
all eminent saints. This is what we may expect. It agrees with the
Christian life, as described in God's word. It is "through much
tribulation that we enter the kingdom of heaven." This is the way in
which you must go, if you would ever enter there. You must make religion
the great business of your life, to which everything else must give
place. You must engage with your _whole soul_ in the work, looking to
the cross of Christ for strength against your spiritual enemies; and you
will come off "conqueror at last," through him that hath loved us, and
given himself for us.

                               Your affectionate Brother.




LETTER II.

_The Importance of a thorough Knowledge of the Doctrines of
Christianity--means of obtaining it._

    "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth."--John 17:17.


MY DEAR SISTER,

Some people are frightened at the idea of _Doctrine_, as though it were
a mere abstraction, which has nothing to do with practical life. This
notion is founded on a misapprehension not only of the meaning of the
term, but of the connection of actions with established principles of
the mind. The general signification of the word _doctrine_ is, the
principles upon which any system is founded. As applied to Christianity,
it means _divine truth_; for this is the foundation upon which the
Christian religion rests. Although the truths of God's Word are not
reduced to a regular system in the Bible, yet, when brought together,
they make the most beautiful and perfect of all systems. It is proper,
therefore, that we should contemplate them _in a body_, as they appear
with the most perfect symmetry, in the plan of God's moral government.
There is a disposition, at the present day, to undervalue doctrinal
knowledge. Many people think it of little consequence what they
_believe_, if they are only _sincere_, and manifest much _feeling_ on
the subject of religion. But this is a ruinous mistake. There is a most
intimate connection between faith and practice. Those principles which
are believed and received into the heart govern and control our actions.
The doctrines which God has revealed in his Word are the principles of
his moral government. As we are the subjects of that government, it
cannot be a matter of small moment for us to understand, so far as we
are capable, the principles upon which it is administered. If we mistake
these principles, we may be found in open rebellion, while we think we
are doing God service. For example: God commands us not to steal. But,
if we do not _believe_ that he has given this commandment, we shall feel
under no obligation to _obey_ it. And every truth which God has revealed
is as intimately connected with practice as this, although the duty
enjoined be, in itself considered, of less consequence. Christianity is
called a spiritual building. "Ye are built up a spiritual _house_."
"Whose _house_ are we?" "We are God's _building_." Now the _foundation_
and _frame-work_ of this building are the doctrines or truths of the
Bible. Some of these doctrines are called _fundamental_ or _essential_,
because they lie at the _foundation_ of the whole building; and are so
_essential_ to it, that, if taken away, the whole would fall to the
ground. These are, The Existence of God in three persons, Father, Son,
and Holy Ghost; the Fall, and consequent Depravity of Man; the Atonement
of Christ; Justification by faith in him alone, and the Office of the
Holy Spirit in the work of Regeneration. If any _one_ of these were
taken away, it would overturn the whole building. These may, therefore,
well be called the _foundation_. But you see there are other very
important parts of a _frame_ besides the foundation. So there are many
other very important truths of Christianity, besides its essential
doctrines. But some of these are of more consequence than others. If a
_post_ or a _beam_ is taken away, the building is greatly marred and in
danger of falling; yet, if well _covered_, it may still be a comfortable
dwelling. Again, although a _brace_ or a _pin_ is of service to
strengthen the building, yet either may be taken away without very
serious injury. But a _frame_ may be _complete_ in all its parts, and
yet be no building. Without a _covering_, it will not answer a single
design of a house; and just in proportion as it is well covered, will it
be a comfortable residence. Just so with Christianity. The covering of
the house is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart, producing
gracious affections, which manifest themselves in a holy life. But the
covering of a house cannot exist without some kind of frame-work. So
experimental and practical piety cannot exist without a belief of the
principal doctrines of the gospel. The Holy Spirit operates upon the
heart _through the truth_. He gives it a personal application; brings it
home to the heart and conscience, and makes it effectual in changing the
heart and life. "Sanctify them _through thy truth_: thy word is truth."
"Of his own will begat he us, _with the word of truth_." "Seeing ye have
purified your souls, in _obeying the truth through the Spirit_." "Being
born again _by the word of God_." Thus, the agency of the Spirit is
always acknowledged in connection with the truth. Any religious feeling
or experience, therefore, which is not produced by the truth made
effectual by the Holy Spirit, is not genuine. There is a kind of
indefinite religious feeling, which many mistake for Christian
experience. They _feel_, and perhaps deeply; but they know not _why_
they feel. Such religious feeling is to be suspected as spurious. It may
be the delusion of the devil. By persuading people to rest upon this
spurious religious feeling, he accomplishes his purpose as well as if he
had kept them in carnal security. And the clearer our views of truth,
the more spiritual and holy will be our religious affections. Thus,
godly sorrow arises from a sight of our own depravity, with a sense of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin, as committed against a holy God, and
against great light and mercy. Faith is produced by a spiritual view of
the atonement of Christ, and of his infinite fulness as a complete and
perfect Saviour. Love is excited by a discovery of the excellence of
God's moral perfections. Holy fear and reverence arise from a sight of
the majesty and glory of his natural attributes, and a sense of his
presence. Joy may come from a sense of the infinite rectitude of his
moral government; from the sight of the glory of God, in his works of
providence and grace; or from a general view of the beauty and
excellence of divine truth. Comfort may be derived from evidence of the
divine favor; and confidence, from an appropriation of God's promises to
ourselves. And in many other ways, also, the Holy Spirit produces
spiritual feelings through the instrumentality of the truth. But all
religious feeling, produced by impulse, without any rational view of the
truth, is to be suspected. It may be the work of Satan, who is very busy
in counterfeiting religious experiences for those he wishes to deceive.
Every religious affection has its counterfeit. Thus, sorrow may be
produced by the fear of hell, without any sense of the evil of sin; a
presumption of our own good estate may be mistaken for faith, and this
will produce joy; we may exercise a carnal or selfish love to God,
because we think he loves us, and has made us the objects of his special
favor; and the promises of God, so far as they concern the personal good
of the believer, may administer as much comfort to the hypocrite as to
the real saint.

How exceedingly important is it, then, that you should not only exercise
a general belief of the great doctrines of the gospel, but that you
should have a right apprehension of them. The _truth_ is so necessary in
the Christian warfare, that it is called the _sword of the Spirit_. But
of what benefit is the sword to the soldier who knows not how to use it?
The sword is used as much to ward off the blows of the enemy, as to
attack him. But the novice, who should engage an enemy, without knowing
the use of his weapon, would be thrust through in the first onset.
Hence, the peculiar force of the prayer of our Lord, "Sanctify them
through thy truth." It is by the use of the truth, as the "sword of the
Spirit," in the Christian warfare, that the work of satisfaction is
carried on.

But, as the frame-work of a building, though complete in all its parts,
would be no house without a covering; so we may have a perfect knowledge
of the abstract doctrines of the Christian religion, and be no
Christians. It is the practical and experimental application of these
doctrines to our own hearts and lives, that makes the building complete.
Regard yourself as a subject of God's moral government, and the
doctrines of the Bible as the laws of his kingdom; and you will feel
such a personal interest in them, that you cannot rest in abstract
speculation. Study these doctrines, that you may know how to live to the
glory of God.

I will now give you a few simple directions for obtaining a correct
knowledge of the doctrines of the Bible.

1. _Approach the subject with the spirit of a little child._ "As
new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the word." "Except ye be
converted and _become as little children_, ye shall not enter into the
kingdom of heaven." A little child is always satisfied of the truth of
what his father tells him. "My father says so," is reason enough for
him. He does not say, "I will not believe it, because I cannot
understand it." So it should be your first object to ascertain what the
Bible teaches, and then submit to it with the confidence of a little
child. You cannot expect fully to comprehend the ways of an infinite
Being. You can see but a very small part of the system of his moral
government. It cannot be strange, then, if you are unable to discover
the reasonableness of every truth which he has revealed. Do not try to
carry out difficult points beyond what is plainly taught in the
Scriptures. God has revealed all that is necessary for us to know in
this life. He knows best where to leave these subjects. If there were no
difficulties in the truths revealed, there would be no trial of our
faith. It is necessary that we should take some things upon trust. There
are also some truths taught which we find it difficult to reconcile with
others as plainly revealed. Be content to believe both, on the authority
of God's word. He will reconcile them hereafter. "What I do, thou
knowest not _now_, but thou shalt know hereafter." Let this
consideration always satisfy you: "Even so, Father, for so it seemed
good in thy sight." I am the more particular on this point, as it is
the place where error always begins. The setting up of feeble reason in
opposition to the word of God, has been the foundation of all mistakes
in religion. And, if we determine to be satisfied of the reasonableness
of the truth before we believe it, and carry out the principle, we shall
land in downright atheism. By this, I do not mean that any truth is
unreasonable. It is not so. Divine truth is the perfection of reason.
But there are some truths which may appear unreasonable, because we
cannot see the whole of them. Thus, a fly, on the corner of a splendid
edifice, cannot see the beauty and symmetry of the building. So far as
his eye extends, it may appear to be sadly lacking in its proportions.
Yet this is but a faint representation of the narrow views we have of
God's moral government. There is, however, no truth which he has
revealed, in relation to that government, that is more difficult to
understand, than many things that philosophy has discovered in the
natural world. Yet, even infidels do not think of disputing facts
conclusively proved by philosophy, because they cannot understand them.
It becomes us, then, with the deepest humility and self-abasement, to
submit our reason to the word of God.

2. _Avoid a controversial spirit._ Do not study for the sake of finding
arguments to support your own opinions. Take the place of a sincere
inquirer after truth, with a determination to embrace whatever you find
supported by the word of God, however contrary it may be to your
favorite notions. But when objections arise in your mind against any
doctrine, do not suppose you have made some new discovery, and therefore
reject it without farther inquiry. The same objections have perhaps
occurred to the mind of every inquirer, on the same subject; and very
probably they have often been satisfactorily answered by able writers.
This is a common error of young inquirers. They are apt to think others
take things upon trust, and that they are the only persons who have
thought of the difficulties which start up in their minds. But, when
their reading becomes more extensive, they learn, with shame, that what
appeared to them to be original thought, was only following an old,
beaten track.

3. _Use such helps as you can obtain._ Read carefully selected and
judicious authors, on doctrinal subjects.[A] The advantages arising from
the perusal of other books than the Scriptures, to obtain doctrinal
knowledge, are these: 1. You may profit by the experience of others. You
see how the difficulties which arise in your own mind appeared to them,
and how they solved them. 2. Much light may be thrown upon many
difficult passages of Scripture, by an intimate acquaintance with the
times and circumstances under which they were written; and men who
undertake to write on these subjects generally search deeply into these
things. 3. God has been pleased, in every age, to raise up men "_mighty
in the Scriptures_." By the extraordinary powers of mind which he has
given them, they may have clearer perceptions of divine truth than you
are able to obtain by the exertion of your own faculties alone. You may
also employ the sermons which you hear, for an increase of doctrinal
knowledge, as well as an excitement to the performance of duty. But all
these things you must invariably bring to the test of God's word. We are
commanded to "try the spirits, whether they be of God." Do not take the
opinions of men upon trust. Compare them diligently with the word of
God, and do not receive them till you are fully convinced that they
agree with this unerring standard. Make this your text-book; and only
use others to assist you in coming to a right understanding of this.

4. _In all your researches after doctrinal knowledge, seek the guidance
of the Holy Spirit._ Make it a subject of daily prayer, that God would
enable you to understand his word, that you may be "rooted and grounded
in the faith." The influences of the Holy Spirit are two-fold. He
enlightens the understanding, to lead it into a correct knowledge of the
truth; and he applies the truth to the sanctification of the heart. Pray
diligently that you may have both. If you persevere in the proper
observance of this direction, you cannot fail to profit by the others.
But, if you neglect this, your pursuit of doctrinal knowledge will serve
only as food to your pride, self-confidence and vain-glory, and exert a
blighting influence upon your soul.

                                  Your affectionate Brother.


  [Footnote A: The reader will find a list of suitable books in the
  Appendix.]




LETTER III.

_True Religion a Work of Grace in the Heart; but it must be carried out
in all our Conduct._

    "And he (the righteous) shall be like a tree planted by the rivers
    of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season: _his leaf
    shall not wither_."--PS. 1:3.

    "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the
    Lord is; for he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that
    spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat
    cometh, _but her leaf shall be green_; and shall not be careful in
    the year of drought, _neither shall cease from yielding
    fruit_."--JER. 17:7, 8.


MY DEAR SISTER,

In my first letter I spoke of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, as
represented by our Lord under the similitude of a living spring. In my
last I endeavored to show that the operation of the Spirit of God upon
the heart is inseparably connected with the truth. My present object
will be to show the _effects_ produced by both these agents acting
together. This is most beautifully described in the passages quoted
above. Here the Christian is represented under the similitude of a tree
planted by the _rivers_ of water. The grace of God, or the Holy Spirit
acting in unison with the word, to carry on the great work of
regeneration and sanctification in the soul, is represented by the
constant flowing of _rivers of water_. This shows the abundance of the
provision. But a tree may stand so near a river as to be watered when it
overflows its banks; and yet, if its roots only spread over the surface
of the ground, and do not reach the bed of the river, it will wither in
a time of drought. This aptly represents the professor of religion who
appears engaged and in earnest only during remarkable outpourings of the
Spirit. He is all alive and full of zeal when the river overflows, but
when it returns to its ordinary channel, his leaf withers; and if a long
season of spiritual drought follows, he becomes dry and barren, so that
no appearance of spiritual life remains. But, mark how different the
description of the true child of God. "He shall be as _a_ tree _planted_
by the rivers of water." This figure appears to have been taken from the
practice of _cultivating_ trees. They are removed from the wild state in
which they spring up, and their roots firmly fixed in a spot of ground
_cultivated_ and _prepared_, to facilitate their growth. This _planting_
well represents the _fixed_ state of the renewed soul, as it settles
down in entire dependence upon the word and Spirit of God, for
nourishment and growth in grace. But the figure is carried out still
farther,--"and spreadeth out her roots _by the river_." When the roots
of the tree are spread out along the bed of the river, it will always be
supplied with water, even when the river is low. This steadiness of
Christian character is elsewhere spoken of under a similar figure. "The
_root_ of the righteous _shall not be moved_." "He shall cause them that
come of Jacob to _take root_." "Being _rooted_ and grounded in love."
Hence the prophet adds, that the heat and the drought shall not affect
it; but its _leaf shall be green_, always growing; and it _shall not
cease to bring forth_ fruit. And throughout the Scriptures, the
righteous are represented as bringing forth fruit. "And the remnant
that is escaped out of the house of Judah shall again take root
downward, and bear fruit upward." Here is first a taking deep root
downward, or the sanctification of the faculties of the soul, by which
new principles of action are adopted; and a bearing fruit upward, or the
exercise of those principles, in holy affections and corresponding
outward conduct. Again, "Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face
of the world with fruit." The bud and blossom represent, in a very
striking manner, the first exercises of Christian experience. However,
this may be easily counterfeited. Every tree bears a multitude of false
blossoms, which, by the superficial observer, may not be distinguished
from the true. They may for a time appear even more gay and beautiful.
As it appears in full bloom, it would be impossible for the keenest eye
to discover them. But as soon as the season arrives for the fruit to
begin to grow, these fair blossoms are withered and gone, and nothing
remains but a dry and wilted stem. But the real children of God shall
not only bud and blossom, but they shall "_fill the face of the world
with fruit_." In the Song of Solomon, the church is compared to "an
orchard of pomegranates, with _pleasant fruits_." This is a beautiful
figure. The pomegranate is a kind of apple. The tree is low, but spreads
its branches, so that its breadth is greater than its height. So the
true Christian is humble and lowly; while his good works spread all
around him. The blossoms of this tree are large and beautiful, forming a
cup like a bell. But when the flowers are double, no fruit follows. So
the double-minded hypocrite brings forth no fruit. The pomegranate apple
is exceedingly beautiful and delicious; and so the real fruits of
Christianity are full of beauty and loveliness. Again, the church is
said to lay up for Christ all manner of pleasant fruit, new and old.
But, _backsliding_ Israel is called an empty vine, bringing forth fruit
_unto himself_. Here we may distinguish between the _apparent_ good
fruits of the hypocrite and those of the real Christian. The latter
does everything for Christ. He really desires the glory of God, and the
advancement of Christ's Kingdom; and this is his ruling motive in all
his conduct. But the former, though he may do many things good in
themselves, yet does them all with selfish motives. His ruling desire is
to gratify himself, and to promote his own honor and interest, either in
this world, or in that which is to come.

The _fruit_ which his people bring forth is that on which Christ chiefly
insists, as a test of Christian character. "Every good tree bringeth
forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit." He
compares himself to a vine, and his followers to branches; and informs
them that every branch which beareth not fruit shall be taken away. In
the passage quoted from the first Psalm, the righteous is said to bring
forth fruit _in his season_. And in the 92d Psalm and 14th verse, it is
said, "They shall still bring forth fruit _in their old age_; they shall
_be fat and flourishing_;" thus exhibiting a constancy of fruit-bearing,
and an uninterrupted growth, even down to old age.

But, it becomes a matter of serious inquiry to know what is meant by
bringing forth fruit _in his season_. The apostle Paul says, "The fruit
of the Spirit is in _all_ goodness, and righteousness, and truth."
Hence, we conclude, that bringing forth fruit _in season_ must be
carrying out the principles of the gospel into every part of our
conduct. In another place, the same apostle informs us more particularly
what are the fruits of the Spirit: "The fruit of the Spirit is love,
joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness,
temperance." Let us, then, carry out these principles, and see what
influence they will have upon the Christian character. _Love_ is
something that can be _felt_. It is an outgoing of heart towards the
object loved, and a feeling of union with it. When we have a strong
affection for a friend, it is because we see in him something that is
lovely. We love his society, and delight to think of him when he is
absent. Our minds are continually upon the lovely traits of his
character. So ought we to love God. The ground of this love should be
the infinite purity, excellence, and beauty of his moral perfections,
independent of our relations to him. He is infinite loveliness in
himself. There is such a thing as feeling this love in exercise. In the
Song of Solomon, love is said to be "_strong as death_." Surely, this is
no faint imagery. Is it possible for a person to exercise a feeling "as
strong as death," and yet not be sensible of it? Love takes hold of
every faculty of soul and body. It must, then, be no very dull feeling.
Again; the warmth and the settled and abiding nature of love are
represented by such strong language as this: "Many waters cannot quench
love, neither can the floods drown it." Surely this can be no fitful
feeling, which comes and goes at extraordinary seasons. It must be a
settled and abiding principle of the soul; though it may not always be
accompanied with strong emotions. We may sometimes be destitute of
emotion towards the friends we love most. But, the settled principle of
esteem and preference is abiding; and our attention needs only to be
called to the lovely traits in our friend's character, to call forth
emotion.

David, under the influence of this feeling, breaks forth in such
expressions as these: "My soul _thirsteth_ for thee; my flesh _longeth_
for thee:" "As the hart panteth for the water-brooks, so _panteth_ my
soul after thee, O God: My soul _thirsteth_ for God, for the living
God:" "My soul _longeth_, yea, even _fainteth_, for the courts of the
Lord; my _heart and my flesh crieth out_ for the living God:" "My soul
_breaketh_ for the longing it hath unto thy judgments _at all times_."
Surely there is no dulness, no coldness, in such feelings as these. They
accord with the spirit of the command, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with _all thy might_."
And this was not, with the Psalmist, an _occasional lively frame_. This
soul-breaking longing was the habitual feeling of his heart; for he
exercised it "_at all times_" And what was it that called forth these
ardent longings? Was it the personal benefits which he had received or
expected to receive from God? By no means. After expressing an earnest
desire to dwell in the house of the Lord, _all the days of his life_, he
tells us why he wished to be there: "_to behold the beauty of the Lord,
and to inquire in his temple_." The object of his love was "_the beauty
of the Lord_;" doubtless meaning his moral perfections. Intimately
connected with this was his desire to know the will of the Lord. For
this he wished to "_inquire in his temple_." And whenever the love of
God is genuine, it will call forth the same desire. The apostle John,
whose very breath is love, says, "This is the love of God, that we _keep
his commandments_." The child that loves his parents will delight in
doing everything he can to please them. But the child that cares for his
parents only as he expects to be benefited by them, will always do as
little as possible for them, and that little unwillingly. So, in our
relations with God. The hypocrite may have a kind of love to him,
because he thinks himself a peculiar object of divine favor, and because
he still expects greater blessings. But this does not lead him to
delight in the commands of God. He rather esteems them as a _task_. His
heart is not in the doing of them; and he is willing to make them as
light as possible. But, the real Christian _delights_ in the law of God;
and the chief source of his grief is, that he falls so far short of
keeping it.

Again, if we love God, we shall love the image of God, wherever we find
it. "Every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is
begotten of him." Our love to Christians, if genuine, must arise from
the resemblance which they bear to Christ; and not from the comfort
which we enjoy in their society, nor because they appear friendly to us.
This hypocrites also feel. If we really exercise that love, we shall be
willing to make personal sacrifices for the benefit of our Christian
brethren. We are directed to love one another _as Christ loved us_. And
how did Christ love us? So strong was his love that he laid down his
life for us? And the apostle John says, we ought, in imitation of him,
"to lay down our lives for the brethren;" that is, if occasion require
it. Such is the strength of that love which we are required to exercise
for our Christian brethren. But, how can this exist in the heart, when
we feel unwilling to make the least sacrifice of our own feelings or
interests for their benefit?

Again; there is another kind of love required of us. This is the love of
compassion, which may be exercised even towards wicked men. And what
must be the extent of this love? There can be but one standard. We have
the example of our Lord before us. So intense was his love, that it led
him to make every personal sacrifice of ease, comfort, and worldly good,
for the benefit of the bodies and souls of men; yea, he laid down his
life for them. This is the kind of love which is required of us, and
which was exercised by the apostles and early Christians.

Another fruit of the Spirit is JOY. We are commanded to rejoice in the
Lord _at all times_. If we have a proper sense of the holiness of God's
moral character; of the majesty and glory of his power; of the infinite
wisdom which shines through all his works; the infinite rectitude of his
moral government; and especially of that amazing display of his love, in
the work of redemption--it will fill our hearts with "JOY UNSPEAKABLE
AND FULL OF GLORY." Nor is rejoicing in God at all inconsistent with
mourning for sin. On the contrary, the more we see of the divine
character, the more deeply shall we be abased and humbled before him.
Says Job, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now _mine
eye seeth_ thee. _Wherefore_, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and
ashes." It was a _sight_ of God which brought this holy man so low
before him.

Another fruit of the Spirit is PEACE. This is of two kinds; peace with
God, and peace with man. The impenitent are at war with God; there is
therefore no peace for them. God is angry with them, and they are
contending with him. But the Christian becomes reconciled to God through
Christ. He finds peace in believing in him. The Lord is no longer a God
of terror to him, but a "God of peace." Hence the gospel is called the
"way of peace;" and Christ the "Prince of Peace." Jesus, in his parting
interview with his beloved disciples, says, "Peace I leave with you, _my
peace_ I give unto you." Righteousness, or justice and peace, are said
to have met together and kissed each other. "We have peace with God,
through our Lord Jesus Christ." The Bible is full of this subject, but I
cannot dwell upon it. I wish you to look out the following passages;
read and compare them diligently, and meditate upon the blessed truth
which they contain Ps. 37:37; 85:8; 119:165. Prov. 16:7. Isa. 20:3;
57:19. Lu. 2:14. John 16:33. Rom. 8:6; 14:17. 1 Cor. 7:15. Eph. 2:11,
15. Phil. 4:7. Col. 3:15.

I know not how to speak of this exercise of the mind. It is better felt
than described. It is a calm and holy reconciliation with God and his
government; a settled feeling of complacency towards everything but sin.
It begets a serene and peaceful temper and disposition of the heart. But
this gracious work of the Holy Spirit does not stop with these exercises
of the mind. However we may seem to feel, in our moments of retirement
and meditation, if this peaceful disposition is not carried out in our
intercourse with others, and our feelings towards them, we have reason
to suspect ourselves of hypocrisy. Whatever is in our hearts will
manifest itself in our conduct. If we exercise a morose, sour, and
jealous disposition towards others; if we indulge a censorious spirit,
not easily overlooking their faults; if we are easily provoked, and
irritated with the slightest offence; if we indulge in petty strifes and
backbiting--surely the peace of God does not rule in our hearts. So much
does Christ esteem this peaceful spirit, that he says peacemakers shall
be called the children of God. Again, he tells his disciples to "have
peace one with another." The apostle Paul, also, gives frequent
exhortations to the exercise of this grace. "Be at peace among
yourselves." "Follow peace with all men." "If it be possible, live
peaceably with all men." "That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life."

MEEKNESS is a twin-sister of Peace. It is a temper of mind not easily
provoked to resentment. The word used in the original signifies
_easiness of mind_. The cultivation of this grace resembles the taming
of wild animals. It is the bringing of all our wild and ungovernable
passions under control. It is an eminent work of the Spirit; and we may
judge of our spiritual attainments by the degree of it which we possess.
The Scriptures abound with exhortations to the cultivation of it. It is
preeminently lovely in the female character. Hence, the apostle Peter
exhorts women to adorn themselves with the ornament of a meek and quiet
spirit, which is, in the sight of God, of great price.

LONG-SUFFERING and GENTLENESS are twin-daughters of Meekness. The latter
is the disposition of the heart. The former are the actions which flow
out from that disposition, in our intercourse with others.
Long-suffering is godlike. It is an imitation of the forbearance of God
towards his rebellious creatures. He is long-suffering, and slow to
anger. He does not let his anger burn hot against sinners, till all
means of bringing them to repentance have failed. O, how should this
shame us, who cannot bear the least appearance of insult or injury from
our fellow-sinners, without resentment! But, if we would be the children
of our Father in heaven, we must learn to bear ill treatment with a meek
and quiet and forgiving temper. Gentleness is one of the most lovely of
all the graces of the Spirit. It is a "softness or mildness of
disposition and behavior, and stands opposed to harshness and severity,
pride and arrogance." "It corrects whatever is offensive in our manner,
and, by a constant train of humane attentions, studies to alleviate the
burden of common misery;" the constant exercise of this spirit is of the
greatest importance to the Christian who would glorify God in his life,
and do good to his fellow-creatures.

GOODNESS is another fruit of the Spirit. I suppose the apostle here
means the same that he expresses in another place by "bowels of mercies
and kindness." It is doing good both to the bodies and souls of others,
as we have opportunity. "Be kindly affectioned one to another." "Be ye
kind one to another, tender-hearted." This is a distinguishing trait in
the Christian character. It shone forth in all its loveliness in our
divine Redeemer. He _went about_ doing good. So ought we to imitate his
example. It should be our chief aim and study to make ourselves useful
to others; for we thereby glorify God. If we have the Spirit of Christ,
this will be the great business of our lives.

Another fruit of the Spirit is FAITH. Although this is mentioned last
but two in the catalogue, yet it is by no means the least important.
Indeed, it may be called the father of all the rest. The proper
definition of faith is, a _belief of the truth_. Faith is a very common
principle of action, by which is transacted all the business of this
life. People universally act according to their faith. If a person is
fully convinced that his house is on fire, he will make haste to escape.
If a man really believes a bank-note is good, he will receive it for its
professed value. If the merchant believes that his customer is able to
pay for them, he will give him goods upon credit. If a child really
believes his parent will punish him for doing mischief, he will keep out
of it. And so, in everything else, we act according to our belief. No
person ever fully believes a truth which concerns himself, without
acting accordingly. That faith which is the fruit of the Spirit is a
hearty belief of all the truths of God's word. And in proportion as we
believe these truths, in their application to ourselves, we shall act
according to them. The reason why the sinner does not repent and turn to
God, is that he does not fully believe the word of God, as it applies to
himself. He may believe some of the abstract truths of the Scriptures,
but he does not really believe himself to be in the dreadful danger
which they represent him. The reason why Christians live so far from the
standard of God's word is that their belief in the truths contained in
it is so weak and faint. We all profess to believe that God is
everywhere present. Yet, Christians often complain that they have no
lively sense of his presence. The reason is, that they do not fully and
heartily believe this truth. So strong and vivid is the impression when
this solemn truth takes full possession of the soul, that the apostle
compares it to "_seeing him that is invisible_." Now, but for our
unbelief, we should always have such a view of the divine presence. O,
with what holy awe and reverence would this inspire us! On examination,
we shall find that all the graces of the Spirit arise from faith, and
all our sins and short-comings from unbelief. It is a belief of the
moral excellence of God's character which inspires love. It is a belief
of our own depravity, and the exceeding sinfulness of sin, which creates
godly sorrow. It is a strong and particular belief of all the
overwhelming truths of the Bible, which overcomes the world. "This is
the victory; even our faith." It is a firm and unshaken belief in these
truths, presenting the glories of heaven just in view, which supports
the Christian in the dark and trying hour of death. It is the same
belief which makes him "as bold as a lion" in the performance of his
duty. This is what supported the martyrs, and enabled them cheerfully to
lay down their lives for Christ's sake. It is this which must support
you in the Christian warfare. And in proportion to your faith will be
your progress. I would be glad to say more on this subject. It is large
enough to fill a volume.

TEMPERANCE is another fruit of the Spirit. This consists in the proper
control of all our desires, appetites, and passions. The exercise of
this grace is of vital importance, not only as it concerns the glory of
God, but our own health and happiness.

I have felt much straitened in giving a description of the fruits of the
Spirit in a single letter. I have not pretended to do justice to the
subject. My principal object has been to show the beautiful symmetry of
the Christian character, as it extends from the heart to all our
actions, in every relation of life. And this will serve as an
introduction to the more particular consideration of the various
Christian duties.

                                  Your affectionate Brother.




LETTER IV.

_On the Reading and Study of the Holy Scriptures_

    "Search the Scriptures."--JOHN 5:39.


MY DEAR SISTER,

I feel persuaded that you will take a deep interest in the subject of
this letter; for, to a true child of God, nothing is so precious as the
volume of inspiration. It is like rubies in a case of gold. That which
is most valuable for practical use lies on the surface; while every
examination discovers new gems of surpassing beauty.

There is this difference between the _devotional reading_ and the
_thorough study_ of the Holy Scriptures,--that the object of the former
is to affect the heart, while that of the latter is chiefly to inform
the understanding. Although this blessed book should never be used
without practical application, yet, when all the powers of the mind are
taxed to ascertain the critical meaning of the text, there is less
opportunity for the exercise of the affections of the heart than when
the mind is suffered simply to dwell upon obvious truth. For the
systematic study of the Bible, portions of time should be set apart, if
possible, separate from our regular seasons of devotion; or, perhaps,
immediately after. For the former, a small portion should be selected
from the more practical and devotional parts of the Bible.

We are commanded to _search the Scriptures_. _Searching_ is a difficult
and laborious work. To induce us to engage in it, we must have a strong
desire for something valuable. Here is a treasure of sufficient value to
call forth this desire. This blessed book contains the revealed will of
God. All who love God will be anxious to know his will. They will make
it the rule of their conduct. "Thy word," says the Psalmist, "is a lamp,
unto my feet, and a light unto my path." The will of God, as made known
in his word, is like a lantern, which sheds a light on our path, and
directs the steps of our feet. The sincere Christian will search after a
knowledge of God's will, with more eagerness than he would search for
hidden treasures of gold and silver. He will _set his heart_ to the
work. This is what God commands. After Moses had given the law of God to
the children of Israel, he said unto them, "_Set your hearts_ unto all
the words which I testify among you this day." This is a very strong
expression. To _set our hearts_ to any work, is to go about it in
earnest, with all the energies of our souls. Again; when we make great
search for anything we very much desire and highly prize, and find it,
we are very apt to keep it. Hence David says, "Thy word have I _hid_ in
my heart." But mark the reason of his conduct. Why did he hide God's
word in his heart? He explains his motive: "That I might not _sin
against thee_." His object, in hiding God's word in his heart, was to
know how to regulate his conduct so as not to sin against him. You must
feel a personal interest in the truth. You must study it as the
directory of your life. When you open this blessed book, let this always
be the sincere inquiry of your heart: "Lord, what wilt thou have _me_ to
_do_?" Come to it with this childlike spirit of obedience, and you will
not fail to learn the will of God. But when you have learned your duty
in God's word, _do it without delay_. Here are two very important points
of Christian character, quite too much overlooked. (1.) An earnest
desire to know present duty. (2.) A steadfast and settled determination
to _do it as soon as it is known_. Here lies the grand secret of high
spiritual attainments. A person who acts from these principles may make
greater progress in a single day than a tardy, procrastinating spirit in
a long life. The pressure of obligation rests upon the present moment.
Remember, when you have ascertained present duty, the delay of a single
moment is _sin_. With these remarks, I submit a few practical directions
for the profitable reading and study of the Holy Scriptures.

1. _Read the Bible in your closet, or under circumstances which will
secure you from interruption, either by the conversation of others, or
the attractions of other objects._ Do not attempt to fill up little
broken intervals of time with the reading of God's word. Leave these
seasons for lighter reading. Remember, the reading of the Scriptures is
nothing less than conversing with God. When any one pays so little
attention to your conversation as not to understand what you say, you
consider it a great breach of politeness. God speaks to you whenever you
read his holy word. His all-seeing eye rests upon your heart; and he
knows whether you are engaged in solemn trifling. If you read his word
so carelessly as not to understand its meaning and drink in its spirit,
you treat him as you would disdain to be treated by an earthly friend. O
the forbearance of God, who suffers such indignity from those who call
themselves his children! Never approach the word of God but with
feelings of reverence and godly fear.

2. _Come to the work with a preparation of heart._ If you were going to
visit some person of great consequence, whose favor and esteem you
wished to secure, you would take care to have everything about your
person adjusted in the most becoming manner. So let it be with your
mind, when you come to converse with God. Shut out all worldly thoughts.
Strive to bring yourself into a tranquil, holy, and tender frame, so
that the truths you contemplate may make their proper impression upon
your heart.

3. _Seek the aid of the Holy Spirit._ Christ promised his disciples
that, when the Holy Spirit should come, he would "_guide_ them into all
truth." Without his enlightening influences, we cannot understand the
word of God; and without his gracious influences upon the heart, we
shall not be disposed to obey it. We have the most abundant
encouragement to seek the aid of this Divine Instructor. Christ assures
us that God is more willing to give his Holy Spirit to them that ask
him, than earthly parents are to give good gifts to their children.
Before opening God's word, pray that he would show you the truth, the
rule of your duty, and incline your heart to obey it. As you proceed,
keep your heart silently lifted up to God for the same object.

4. _Read with self-application._ Whenever you have discovered any truth,
ask what bearing it has upon your _present duty_. If it relates to
spiritual feelings, compare it with the exercises of your own heart. If
they do not correspond, you have work for repentance. Go immediately to
the cross of Christ; give yourself away to him anew, and seek for pardon
and needed grace. This you may do instantly, either in a silent or an
audible prayer. If it relates to the spirit and temper of Christians, in
their intercourse with one another, or with the world, compare it with
your own conduct. If you find yourself condemned, you have the same
course to pursue, with a steadfast determination to exhibit more of the
spirit of Christ. If it relates to some positive duty, inquire whether
you have done it. If not, you have to go through the same work of
repentance and application to the blood of Christ. But do not stop here.
_Do your duty immediately._

5. _Read the Scriptures regularly._ To sustain these frail bodies, a
daily supply of nourishment is required. Equally necessary is daily food
for the soul. The word of God is the bread of eternal life. Take, then,
your regular supplies of spiritual food, that your soul may not famish.
Choose for this purpose those seasons when you are least liable to
interruption; when you can retire and shut out the world; when you can
best command the energies of your mind. There is no time more fit and
suitable for this than the morning. Then the mind is clear, vigorous,
unincumbered, and prepared to receive an impression. There is also a
propriety in consulting God's word at the close of the day. But this
depends much upon the state of bodily feeling. If you become exhausted
and dull, after the labors of the day, I would rather recommend taking
the whole time in the morning. But by no means confine yourself to these
stated seasons. Whenever the nature of your pursuits will admit of your
seclusion for a sufficient length of time to fix your mind upon the
truth, you may freely drink from this never-failing fountain of the
water of life.

6. _Study the Scriptures systematically._ If you read at random, here a
little and there a little, your views of divine truth will be partial
and limited. This method may indeed be pursued in regard to reading
_strictly devotional_; but only when other time is taken for obtaining a
connected view and a critical understanding of the whole Bible. The
Bible is like a dish of savory meats. There is almost every variety of
style and matter. There is _History, Biography, Argumentative and
Didactic Essays, and Poetry_. Although these various kinds of writing
are contained in a great number of books, written by various authors, at
different times, without concert, yet a remarkable unity of design runs
through the whole. They all aim at the development of the plan of God's
moral government; and a most striking harmony of sentiment prevails
throughout. We find everything, from the very beginning, pointing to the
glorious plan of redemption revealed in the Gospel. Although we may, at
first view, feel the want of a regular system of divinity, yet, a
careful attention to the subject will convince us that God's plan is
best. We have here the principles of his government exhibited in _living
examples_; which give us a clearer view, and more vivid impression of
them, than we could obtain from the study of an abstract system. There
are several things to be observed, in the systematic and thorough study
of the Bible, some of which I shall mention.

(1.) Always keep distinctly before you the grand design of the
Scriptures; which is, to convince mankind of their lost and ruined
condition, make known the way of salvation, and persuade them to embrace
it.

(2.) Make it your constant aim to ascertain what is the plain and
obvious meaning of the writer; for this is the mind of the Spirit. To
aid you in this, observe the following particulars: 1. Endeavor to
become acquainted with the peculiarity of each writer's style. Although
the matter and words of Scripture were dictated by the Holy Spirit, yet
it was so done that each writer employed a style and manner peculiar to
himself. This does not invalidate the evidence of their divine origin.
On the contrary, it shows the wisdom of the Spirit. For, if the whole
Bible had been written in a uniform style, it would have given opposers
a strong argument against its authenticity; while the want of that
uniformity furnishes conclusive evidence that it could not have been the
work of a single impostor. Again; a continued sameness of style would
make the reading of so large a book as the Bible tedious and unpleasant;
but the rich variety presented by the various authors of this blessed
book, helps our infirmities, and makes the reading of it pleasing and
delightful. 2. "Inquire into the character, situation, and office of the
writer; the time, place, and occasion of his writing; and the people
for whose immediate use he intended his work." This will enable you to
understand his allusions to particular circumstances and customs, and to
see the practical application of the principles he advances. 3. Consider
the principal scope or aim of the book; or, what was the author's
object, design, or intention, in writing it. Notice also the general
plan or method which he has pursued. This will enable you to discover
his leading ideas, if it be an argumentative work; or the particular
instructions of God's providence, if it be historical. 4. Where the
language is difficult to be understood, pay strict attention to the
context, and you will generally find the author's meaning explained.
But, if you do not, consider whether the difficult phrase is a
peculiarity of the writer's style. If so, look out the place where he
has used it in a different connection, and see what meaning is attached
to it there. But, if this does not satisfy you, examine the passages, in
other parts of the Scriptures, which relate to the same subject, and
compare them with the one under consideration. This will generally clear
up the darkest passages. But, if you still feel in doubt, you may find
assistance from consulting commentators, who have made themselves
thoroughly acquainted with all the particulars I have mentioned; which,
with a knowledge of the language in which the book was originally
written, may have enabled them to remove the difficulty. But, do not
trust the opinions of commentators any farther than you see they agree
with the general system of revealed truth; and, above all, do not follow
them in any scheme of fanciful interpretation or visionary speculation.

(3.) Do not task yourself with a certain _quantity_ of reading at the
regular seasons devoted to the study of the Bible. This may lead you to
hurry over it, without ascertaining its meaning, or drinking in its
spirit. You had better study one verse thoroughly, than to read half a
dozen chapters carelessly. The nourishment received from food depends
less on the quantity than on its being perfectly digested. So with the
mind; one clear idea is better than a dozen confused ones; and there is
such a thing as overloading the mind with undigested knowledge. Ponder
upon every portion you read, until you get a full and clear view of the
truth it contains. Fix your mind and heart upon it, as the bee lights
upon the flower; and do not leave it till you have extracted all the
honey it contains.

(4.) Read in course. By studying the whole Bible in connection, you will
obtain a more enlarged view of the plan of God's moral government. And
you will see how it all centres in the Lord Jesus Christ. But I would
not have you confine yourself entirely to the regular reading of the
whole Bible in course. Some portions of the historical part do not
require so much _study_ as that which is more argumentative and
doctrinal; and some parts of the word of God are more devotional than
others, and therefore better fitted for daily practical use. A very good
plan is, to read the Old and New Testaments in course, a portion in
each, every day. If you begin at Genesis, Job, and Matthew, and read a
chapter every day, at each place, omitting the first, and reading three
Psalms, on the Sabbath, you will read the whole Bible in a year, while
on every day you will have a suitable variety. Besides this, the more
devotional and practical books should be read frequently. The Psalms
furnish a great variety of Christian experience, and may be resorted to
with great profit and comfort, under all circumstances. This is the only
book in the Bible which does not require to be read in course. The
Psalms are detached from each other, having no necessary connection. The
other books were originally written like a sermon or a letter. They
have, for convenience, since been divided into chapters and verses. If
you read a single chapter by itself, you lose the connection; as, if you
should take up a sermon and read a page or two, you would not get a full
view of the author's subject. I would therefore recommend that, in
addition to your daily reading in the Old and New Testaments, you have
also some one of those books which require most study, in a course of
reading, to take up whenever you have an occasional season of leisure to
devote to the study of the Bible. But, when you have commenced one book,
finish it before you begin another. You will find great advantage from
the use of a reference Bible and concordance. By looking out the
parallel passages, as you proceed, you will see how one part of the
Scriptures explains another, and how beautifully they all harmonize.
This will also give you a better view of the _whole Scriptures_ than you
can obtain in any other way. But if you are a Sabbath-school teacher or
scholar, your regular lesson will furnish as much study of this
description as you will be able thoroughly to accomplish.

(5.) In reading the Scriptures, there are some subjects of inquiry which
you should carry along with you constantly: 1. What do I find here which
points to Christ? Unless you keep this before your mind, you will lose
half the interest of many parts of the Old Testament. Indeed, much of it
will otherwise be almost without meaning. It is full of types and
prophecies relating to Christ, which, by themselves, appear dry, but,
when understood, most beautiful and full of instruction. 2. Remember
that the Bible contains a history of the church. Endeavor, then, to
learn the state of the church at the time of which you are reading. For
the sake of convenience, and a clearer view of the subject, you may
divide the history of the church into six periods: (1.) From the fall of
Adam to the flood. (2.) From Noah to the giving of the law. (3.) From
that time to David and the prophets. (4.) From David to the Babylonish
captivity. (5.) From that time till the coming of Christ. (6.) From
Christ to the end of time, which is called the gospel dispensation. From
the commencement you will see a gradual development of God's designs of
mercy, and a continually increasing light. Take notice of what period of
the church you are reading; and from this you may judge of the degree
of obligation of its members; for this has been increasing with the
increase of light, from the fall of Adam to the present day; and it will
continue to increase to the end of time. Note, also, the various
declensions and revivals of religion which have occurred in every period
of the church, and endeavor to learn their causes and consequences. By
this, you will become familiar with God's method of dealing with his
people; from which you may draw practical lessons of caution and
encouragement for yourself. 3. Inquire what doctrinal truth is either
taught, illustrated, or enforced, in the passage you are reading; and
also, what _principle_ is recognized. Great and important principles of
the divine government and of practical duty are often implied in a
passage of history which relates to a comparatively unimportant event.
Let it be your business to draw out these principles, and apply them to
practice. Thus, you will be daily increasing your knowledge of the great
system of divine truth, the necessity of which I need not urge. 4. Note
every promise and every prediction; and observe God's faithfulness in
keeping his promises and fulfilling his prophecies. This will tend to
strengthen your confidence in him. You will find it profitable, as you
proceed, to take notes of these several matters, particularly; and, at
the close of every book, review your notes, and sum them up under
different heads.

(6.) Read the gospels with great care, for the particular purpose of
studying the character of the blessed Jesus. Dwell upon every action of
his life, and inquire after his motives. By this course you will be
surprised to find the Godhead shining through the manhood, in little
incidents which you have often read without interest. Look upon him at
all times in his true character, as Mediator between God and man.
Observe his several offices of Prophet, Priest, and King. See in which
of these characters he is acting at different times; and inquire what
bearing the particular action you are considering has upon his
mediatorial character. Observe, also, the particular traits of
character which appear conspicuous in particular actions; as power,
energy, manly hardihood, dignity, condescension, humility, love,
meekness, pity, compassion, tenderness, forgiveness, &c. Take notes; and
when you have finished the course, draw from them, in writing, a minute
and particular description of his character. This will be of great
service to you as a pattern. You will also, by this means, see a
peculiar beauty and fitness in Christ for the office he has undertaken,
which you would not otherwise have discovered. But, do not stop with
going through this course once. Repeat it as often as you can
consistently with your plan of a systematic study of the Holy
Scriptures. You will always find something new; and upon every fresh
discovery, you can revise your old notes.

(7.) In reading the historical and biographical parts of Scripture,
several things are necessary to be observed: 1. The histories contained
in the Bible are the histories of God's providence. Observe his hand in
every event. You will there find some principle or law of his moral
government exemplified. Inquire what that principle is, and carefully
observe its application to the conduct of nations, communities, and
individuals. 2. Whenever you read of particular mercies or judgments, as
experienced by nations, communities, or individuals, look back for the
cause. By this you will discover the principles upon which God acts in
these matters. 3. In the biographies of the Bible, study the motives and
conduct of the characters described. If they are unconverted men, you
will learn the workings of human depravity, and discover what kind of
influence a correct religious public sentiment has in restraining that
depravity. If they are good men, you will see, in their good actions,
living illustrations of the great doctrines of the Bible. Endeavor to
learn by what means they made such eminent attainments in holiness, and
strive to imitate them. If their actions are bad, look back and inquire
into the cause of their backslidings. If you discover it, you will find
a way-mark, to caution you against falling into the same pit.

(8.) The poetical and didactic parts of the Scriptures are scattered
throughout the whole Bible. These abound with highly wrought figures.
This is probably owing partly to the insufficiency of ordinary language
to express the sublime and lofty ideas presented to the minds of the
writers by the Spirit of truth. Endeavor to obtain a clear and correct
understanding of the figures used. These are often taken from prevailing
habits and customs, and from circumstances peculiar to the countries
where the Scriptures were written. These habits and circumstances you
must understand, or you will not see the force of the allusions. Others
are taken from circumstances peculiar to particular occupations in life.
These must also be thoroughly studied, in order to be understood. But,
where the figures are drawn from things perfectly familiar, you will not
perceive their surprising beauty and exact fitness to express the idea
of the sacred pen-man, until you have carefully studied them, and noted
the minutest circumstances. Beware, however, that you do not carry out
those figures so far as to lead you into fanciful and visionary
interpretations.

(9.) The books of the prophets consist of reproofs, exhortations,
warnings, threatenings, predictions, and promises. By carefully studying
the circumstances and characters of those for whom they were written,
you will find the principles and laws of God's moral government set
forth, in their application to nations, communities, and individuals.
From these you may draw practical rules of duty, and also learn how to
view the hand of God, in his providence, in different ages of the world.
The predictions contained in these books are the most difficult to be
understood of any part of the Bible. In reading them you will notice, 1.
Those predictions whose fulfilment is recorded in the Bible, and
diligently examine the record of their fulfilment. You will see how
careful God is to fulfil every jot and tittle of his word. 2. There are
other prophecies, the fulfilment of which is recorded in profane
history; and others still which are yet unfulfilled. To understand
these, it will be necessary to read ancient and modern history, in
connection with the explanation of the prophecies by those writers who
have made them their study. An attention to this, so far as your
circumstances will admit, will be useful in enlarging your views of the
kingdom of Christ. But, beware of becoming so deeply absorbed in these
matters as to neglect those of a more practical nature; and especially
be cautious of advancing far into the regions of speculation as to what
is yet future.

(10.) You will find it an interesting and profitable employment
occasionally to read a given book through, for the purpose of seeing
what light it throws upon some particular subject,--some point of
Christian doctrine, duty, practice, character, &c. For example, go
through with Acts, with your eye upon the doctrine of Christ's divinity.
Then go through with it a second time, to see what light it throws on
the subject of Revivals. Pursue the same course with other books, and in
respect to other subjects. In this way you will sometimes be surprised
to find how much you have overlooked in your previous reading.

It will be perceived that I have laid out a very extensive and laborious
work. But this is the great business of our lives; and, indeed, the
contemplation of the glorious truths revealed in the Bible will form the
business of eternity; and even that will be too short to learn the
length and breadth, and height and depth, of the ways of the Almighty.

                                  Your affectionate Brother.




LETTER V.

_Prayer and Fasting._

    "In everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let
    your requests be made known unto God."--PHIL. 4:6.


MY DEAR SISTER,

The subject of this letter is one of vital interest to every Christian.
It is, therefore, of the utmost consequence, that it be both well
understood and diligently practised. It seems hardly necessary to urge
prayer upon the Christian _as a duty_. Every true Christian must feel it
to be a soul-exalting _privilege_. It is his breath; without it, he can
no more maintain his spiritual life, than animal life can be sustained
without breathing. Prayer is an intimate communion with God, by which we
unbosom our hearts to him, and receive communications of his grace, and
fresh tokens of his love. What Christian, then, whose soul burns with
divine love, will be disposed to apply to this holy employment the cold
appellation of _duty_? Yet, God sees so much the importance of prayer,
that he has not only _permitted_, but _commanded_ us to pray. Our Lord
frequently directed his disciples, and us through them, to "watch and
pray." He also teaches us to persevere in prayer: "Men ought always to
pray, and not to faint." The apostle Paul is frequent in exhorting
Christians to pray: "Pray without ceasing." "I will that men pray
everywhere." "Praying always, with all prayer and supplication in the
Spirit." "I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications,
prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men."
"Continuing instant in prayer." The duty of prayer is also enforced by
the example of all the holy men whose biography is given in Scripture.
Moses, Samuel, David, Elijah, and all the prophets, were mighty in
prayer. So were also the apostles. But, above all, the Lord Jesus, our
blessed pattern, has set before us a life of prayer. You will find it
very profitable to read the lives of these holy men, but especially that
of our blessed Saviour, for the special purpose of noticing how much
they abounded in prayer. Our Lord never undertook anything of
importance, without first observing a special season of prayer. Oft we
find him retiring into the mountains, sometimes a great while before
day, for prayer. Indeed, on several occasions, he continued all night in
prayer to God. If, then, it became the Lord of life and glory to spend
much time in prayer, how much more, such weak and sinful creatures as
we, who are surrounded with temptations without, and beset with
corruptions within! Prayer is necessarily so intermingled with every
duty, that the idea of a prayerless Christian is an absurdity.

Prayer not only secures to us the blessings which we need, but it brings
our minds into a suitable frame for receiving them. We must see our
need, feel our unworthiness, be sensible of our dependence upon God, and
believe in his willingness to grant us, through Christ, the things that
are necessary and proper for us. An acknowledgment of these things, on
our part, is both requisite and proper; and, without such
acknowledgment, it might not be consistent with the great ends of his
moral government for God to grant us our desires.

Prayer is the offering up of the sincere desires and feelings of our
hearts to God. It consists of _adoration_, _confession_, _supplication_,
_intercession_, and _thanksgiving_. _Adoration_ is an expression of our
sense of the infinite majesty and glory of God. _Confession_ is an
humble acknowledgment of our sins and unworthiness. By _supplication_,
we ask for pardon, grace, or any blessing we need for ourselves. By
_intercession_, we pray for others. By _thanksgiving_, we express our
gratitude to God for his goodness and mercy towards us and our
fellow-creatures. All these several parts are embraced in the prayers
recorded in Scripture, though all of them are not generally found in the
same prayer. The prayer of Solomon, at the dedication of the temple,
commences with adoration, and proceeds with supplication and
intercession. The prayer of Daniel, in the time of the captivity,
commences with adoration, and proceeds with confession, supplication,
and intercession. The prayer of the Levites, in behalf of the people,
after the return from captivity, commences with thanksgiving and
adoration, and proceeds with confession, supplication, and intercession.
The prayers of David are full of thanksgiving. The prayer of Habakkuk
consists of adoration, supplication, and thanksgiving. The prayer of the
disciples, after the joyous return of the apostles from the council of
their persecutors, consists of adoration, a particular rehearsal of
their peculiar circumstances, and supplication. The apostle Paul
particularly enjoins "prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving." If
you wish to learn _how_ to pray, I would advise you to look out and
study all the prayers recorded in Scripture. Although most of them are
probably but the substance of what was said on the several occasions
when they were offered, yet you will find them much better patterns than
the prayers of Christians at the present day. There is a fervent
simplicity about them, very different from the studied, formal prayers
which we often hear. There is a definiteness and point in them, which
take hold of the feelings of the heart. The Lord's prayer furnishes a
comprehensive summary of the subjects of prayer: and you will take
particular notice what a prominent place is assigned to the petition for
the coming of Christ's kingdom. This shows that, in all our prayers, the
glory of God should be the leading desire of our hearts. But, it is
evident that Christ did not intend this as a particular form of prayer,
to be used on all occasions; although it includes all that is necessary.
We are so made as to be affected with a _particular_ consideration of
the subjects in which we are interested. We find our Lord himself using
other words to suit particular occasions; although the subjects of his
prayers were all included in this. The same thing, also, we observe in
the practice of the apostles and early Christians. This is only intended
as a general pattern; nor is it necessary that all the petitions
contained in the Lord's prayer should ever be made at the said time.

Prayer must always be offered in the name of Christ. There is no other
way by which we can approach God. There is no other channel through
which we can receive blessings from him. Jesus is our Advocate and
Intercessor. Our blessed Lord, speaking of the time of his
glorification, says to his disciples, "Verily, I say unto you,
whatsoever ye shall _ask the Father in my name_, he will give it you."
This, however, does not forbid us to pray directly to Christ, as God
manifest in the flesh, which was a common practice with the apostles.

When the power of prayer is properly understood, it becomes a subject of
amazing interest. I am persuaded there is a vast amount of unbelief, in
relation to this matter, among Christians. If it were not so, the
chariot wheels of God's salvation would roll on with mighty power. There
would be a glorious movement in every part of the world. The Spirit of
the Lord would be shed forth like a "mighty rushing wind." The promises
of God to his people are so large and full, that the utmost stretch of
their faith cannot reach them. The great and eternal God has
condescended to lay himself under obligation to hear and answer the
prayers of mortal worms. If we collect the promises relating to this
subject, we shall be astonished at the amount of assurance which is
given. So confident was David on this point, that he addresses God as
the _hearer of prayer_, as though that were a distinguishing trait in
his character. Again, he says, "He will _regard_ the prayer of the
destitute, and _not despise_ their prayer." Solomon says, "The prayer of
the upright _is his delight_;" and again, "He heareth the prayer of the
righteous." The apostle James Bays, "The effectual, fervent prayer of a
righteous man _availeth much_." The apostle Peter says, "The eyes of the
Lord are open to the righteous, and his ears are open unto their
prayers." And Christ himself has assured us, in the strongest possible
terms, of the willingness of God to give spiritual blessings to those
that ask for them. He says, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and
ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For _every one_
that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that
knocketh, it shall he opened." But, as if this assurance were not
sufficient to convince us of this most interesting truth, he appeals to
the tenderest sympathies of our natures. He asks if any father would
insult the hungry cries of his beloved son, when fainting for a morsel
of bread, by giving him a stone; or, if he ask an egg, to gratify his
appetite, will he give him a venomous scorpion, to sting him to
death?[B] He then argues, that if sinful men exercise tender compassion
towards their children, how much more shall our heavenly Father, whose
very nature is love, regard the wants of his children who cry unto him.
Is it possible to conceive a stronger expression of the willingness of
God to answer the prayers of his people?

  [Footnote B: The scorpion is a little animal, of the shape of an egg,
  whose sting is deadly poison.]

And these precious promises are confirmed by striking examples, in every
age of the church. Thus, Abraham prayed for Sodom; and, through his
intercession, Lot was saved. His servant, when sent to obtain a wife for
Isaac, received a direct answer to prayer. When Jacob heard that his
brother Esau was coming against him, with an army of four hundred men,
he wrestled all night in prayer, and prevailed; so that Esau became
reconciled to him. Moses prayed for the plagues to come upon Egypt, and
they came; again, he prayed for them to be removed, and they were
removed. It was through his prayers that the Red Sea was divided, the
manna and the quails were sent, and the waters gushed out of the rock
And through his prayers, many times, the arm of the Lord was stayed,
which had been uplifted to destroy his rebellious people. Samuel, that
lovely example of early piety, and the judge and deliverer of Israel,
was given in answer to the prayer of his mother. When the children of
Israel were in danger of being overthrown by the Philistines, Samuel
prayed, and God sent thunder and lightning, and destroyed the armies of
their enemies. Again, to show their rebellion against God, in asking a
king, he prayed, and God sent thunder and lightning upon them in the
time of wheat harvest. In order to punish the idolatry and rebellion of
the Israelites, Elijah prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it
rained not for three years and six months. Again; he prayed that it
might rain, and there arose a little cloud, as a man's hand, which
spread and covered the heavens with blackness, till the rain descended
in torrents. Again; when wicked Ahab sent a band of men to take him, he
prayed, and fire came down from heaven, and consumed them. Hezekiah,
upon the bed of death, prayed, and God lengthened his life fifteen
years. Jerusalem was invaded by the army of Sennacherib, and threatened
with destruction. Hezekiah prayed, and the angel of the Lord entered the
camp of the invader, and in one night slew one hundred and eighty-five
thousand men. When all the wise men of Babylon were threatened with
destruction, because they could not discover Nebuchadnezzar's dream,
Daniel and his companions prayed, and the dream and its explanation were
revealed. Jonah prayed, and was delivered from the power of the fish. It
was in answer to the prayer of Zacharias, that the angel Gabriel was
sent to inform him of the birth of John the Baptist. It was after a ten
days' prayer-meeting, that the Holy Ghost came down, on the day of
Pentecost, "like a mighty rushing wind." Again; while the disciples were
praying, the place was shaken where they were assembled, to show that
God heard their prayers. It was in answer to the prayers of Cornelius,
that Peter was sent to teach him the way of life. When Peter was
imprisoned by Herod, the church set apart the night before his expected
execution, for special prayer in his behalf. The Lord sent his angel,
opened the prison doors, and restored him to the agonizing band of
brethren. And when Paul and Silas were thrown into the dungeon, with
their feet fast in the stocks, they prayed, and there was a great
earthquake, which shook the foundations of the prison, so that all the
doors were opened.

But the faithfulness of God to his promises is not confined to Scripture
times. Although the time of miracles has passed, yet every age of the
church has furnished examples of the faithfulness of God in hearing the
prayers of his children. But these are so numerous that it is difficult
to make selections from them. However, I will mention a few. When the
Arians, who denied the divinity of Christ, were about to triumph, the
Bishop of Constantinople, and one of his ministers, spent a whole night
in prayer. The next day, Arius, the leader of his party, was suddenly
cut off, by a violent and distressing disease. This prevented the
threatened danger. Augustine was a wild youth, sunk in vice, and a
violent opposer of religion. His mother persevered in prayer for him
nine years, when he was converted, and became the most eminent minister
of his age. The life of Francke exhibits the most striking and signal
answers to prayer. His orphan house was literally built up and sustained
by prayer. If you have not already read this work, I would advise you to
obtain it. It is a great help to weak faith. Mr. West (afterwards Dr.
West) became pastor of the Congregational church in Stockbridge,
Massachusetts, while destitute of vital piety. Two pious females often
lamented to each other that they got no spiritual food from his
preaching. At length, they agreed to meet once a week, to pray for his
conversion. They continued this for some time, under much
discouragement. But, although the Lord tried their faith, yet he never
suffered them both to be discouraged at the same time. At length, their
prayers were heard. There was a sudden and remarkable change in his
preaching. "What is this?" said one of them. "God is the hearer of
prayer," replied the other. The Spirit of God had led Mr. West to see
that he was a blind leader of the blind. He was converted, and changed
his cold morality for the cross of Christ, as the basis of his sermons.
A pious slave in Newport, Rhode Island, was allowed by his master to
labor for his own profit whatever time he could gain by extra diligence.
He laid up all the money he earned in this way, for the purpose of
purchasing the freedom of himself and family. But, when some of his
Christian friends heard what he was doing, they advised him to spend his
_gained_ time in fasting and prayer. Accordingly, the next day that he
gained, he set apart for this purpose. Before the close of the day, his
master sent for him, and gave him a written certificate of his freedom.
This slave's name was Newport Gardner. He was a man of ardent piety; and
in 1825, he was ordained deacon of a church of colored people, who went
out from Boston to Liberia. Instances of surprising answers to prayer,
no less striking than these, are continually occurring in the revivals
of religion of the present day.

With the evidence here presented, who can doubt that God hears and
answers prayer? But, the objection arises, "If this doctrine be really
true, why is it that Christians offer up so many prayers without
receiving answers?" The apostle James gives some explanation of this
difficulty: "Ye ask and receive not, _because ye ask amiss_." It becomes
us, then, seriously and diligently to inquire how we may _ask aright_ so
as to secure the blessings so largely promised in answer to prayer. In
relation to this subject, there are several things to be observed:

1. _We must sincerely desire the things which we ask._ If a child
should ask his mother for a piece of bread, when she knew he was not
hungry, but was only trifling with her, it would not he proper for her
to give it. Indeed, she would have just cause to punish him for mocking
her. And do we not often come to the throne of grace, when we do not
really feel our perishing need of the things we ask? God sees our
hearts; and he is not only just in withholding the blessing we ask, but
in chastising us for solemn trifling.

2. _We must desire what we ask, that God may be glorified._ "Ye ask
amiss, _that ye may consume it upon your lusts_." We may possibly ask
spiritual blessings for self-gratification; and when we do so, we have
no reason to expect that God will bestow them upon us.

3. _We must ask for things_ AGREEABLE TO THE WILL OF GOD. "And this is
the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything _according
to his will_, he heareth us." The things that we ask must be such, _in
kind_, as he has indicated his willingness to bestow upon us. Such are,
spiritual blessings on our own souls; the supply of our necessary
temporal wants; and the extension of his kingdom. These are the _kind_
of blessings that we are to ask; and the degree of confidence with which
we are to look for an answer must be in proportion to the positiveness
of the promises. Our Lord assures us that our heavenly Father is more
willing to give good things, and particularly his Holy Spirit, to them
that ask him, than earthly parents are to give good gifts to their
children; and he declares expressly, that our sanctification is
agreeable to the will of God. The promises of the daily supply of our
necessary temporal wants are equally positive. What, then, can be more
odious in the sight of God, than for those who profess to be his
children to excuse their want of spirituality on the ground of their
dependence upon him? And what more ungrateful, than to fret and worry
themselves, lest they should come to want? We may also pray for a
revival of religion in a particular place, and for the conversion of
particular individuals, with strong ground of confidence, because we
know that God has willed the extension of Christ's kingdom, and that the
conversion of sinners is, _in itself_, agreeable to his will. But we
cannot certainly know that he intends to convert a particular
individual, or revive his work in a particular place; nor can we be sure
that the particular temporal blessing that we desire is what the Lord
sees to be needful for our present necessities.

4. _We must ask in faith._ "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.
For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the winds,
and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of
the Lord." A difference of opinion exists among real Christians, as to
what constitutes the _prayer of faith_ spoken of by the apostle. Some
maintain that we must _believe that we shall receive the very thing for
which we ask_. This opinion is founded on some promises made by our Lord
to the apostles, which those who hold the contrary opinion suppose to
have been intended only for them. I shall not attempt to determine this
point; nor do I think it very important which of these theories is
embraced; because, in examining the history of those persons whose
prayers have received the seal of heaven, I find some of them embraced
one, and some the other; while many who embrace either of them seem not
to live in the exercise of prevailing prayer. The main point, therefore,
seems to be, that we should maintain such a nearness of communion with
God as shall secure the personal exercise of the prayer of faith. Two
things, however, are essential to this: (1.) _Strong confidence in the
existence and faithfulness of God._ "He that cometh unto God must
believe _that he is_, and that _he is a rewarder of them that diligently
seek him_." (2.) The prayer of faith must be _dictated by the Holy
Spirit_. Faith itself is declared to be "the _gift of God_;" and the
apostle says, "The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not
what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh
intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered." "He maketh
intercession for the saints, according to the will of God." When this
wonderful truth is made known, we are no longer astonished that God
should assure us, by so many precious promises, that he will hear and
answer our prayers. We are called the temples of the Holy Ghost. If the
Holy Ghost dwell in us, to guide and direct us in all our ways, will he
forsake us in so important a matter as prayer? O, then, what a solemn
place is the Christian's closet, or the house of prayer! There the whole
Trinity meet in awful concert. The Holy Spirit there presents to the
everlasting Father, through the eternal Son, the prayers of a mortal
worm! Is it any wonder that _such a prayer_ should be heard? With what
holy reverence and godly fear should we approach this consecrated place!

5. We must ask in a _spirit of humble submission_, yielding our wills to
the will of the Lord, committing the whole case to him, in the true
spirit of our Lord's agonizing prayer in the garden, when he said, "_Not
my will but thine be done_." If I had a house full of gold, and had
promised to give you as much as you desire, would you need to be urged
to ask? But, there is an inexhaustible fulness of spiritual blessings
treasured up in Christ; and he has declared repeatedly that you may have
as much as you will ask. Need you be urged to ask? Need you want any
grace? It is unbelief that keeps us so far from God. From what has been
said on this subject, I think you may safely conclude that your progress
in the divine life will be in proportion to the real prayer of faith
which you exercise.

But I come now to give a few practical directions respecting the
exercise of prayer. Several things are necessary to be observed by every
one who would live near the throne of grace.

1. _Maintain a constant spirit of prayer._ "Pray without ceasing."
"Continuing instant in prayer." "Praying always, with all prayer and
supplication in the Spirit." "And he spake a parable unto them, to this
end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint." The meaning of
these passages is not that we should be always upon our knees, but that
we should maintain such a prayerful frame, that the moment our minds are
disengaged, our hearts will rise up to God. Intimately connected with
this is the practice of _ejaculatory prayer_, which consists of a short
petition, silently and suddenly sent up from the heart. This may be done
anywhere, and under all circumstances. Frequent examples of this kind of
prayer are recorded in Scripture. It has also been the practice of
living Christians in all ages. It is a great assistance in the Christian
warfare. It helps us in resisting temptation; and by means of it, we can
seek divine aid in the midst of the greatest emergencies. To maintain
this unceasing spirit of prayer is a very difficult work. It requires
unwearied care and watchfulness, labor, and perseverance. Yet no
Christian can thrive without it.

2. _Observe staled and regular seasons of prayer._ Some professors of
religion make so much of the foregoing rule as to neglect all other
kinds of prayer. This is evidently unscriptural. Our Saviour directs us
to enter into our closets, and, when we have shut the door, to pray to
our Father who is in secret. And to this precept he has added the
sanction of his own example. In the course of his history, we find him
often retiring to solitary places, to pour out his soul in prayer. Other
examples are also recorded in Scripture. David says, "Evening and
morning, and at noon, will I pray." And again; "Seven times a day do I
praise thee." And it was the habitual practice of Daniel, to kneel down
in his chamber, and pray three times a day. But this practice is so
natural, and so agreeable to Christian feeling, that no argument seems
necessary to persuade real Christians to observe it. It has been the
delight of eminent saints, in all ages, to retire alone, and hold
communion with God.

With regard to the particular times of prayer, no very definite rule can
be given, which will suit all circumstances. There is a peculiar
propriety in visiting the throne of grace in the morning, to offer up
the thanksgiving of our hearts for our preservation, and to seek grace
for the day: and also in the evening, to express our gratitude for the
mercies we have enjoyed; to confess the sins we have committed and seek
for pardon; and to commit ourselves to the care of a covenant-keeping
God, when we retire to rest. It is also very suitable, when we suspend
our worldly employments in the middle of the day, to refresh our bodies,
to renew our visit to the fountain of life, that our souls may also be
refreshed. The twilight of the evening is also a favorable season for
devotional exercises. But, let me entreat you to be much in prayer. If
the nature of your employment will admit of it, without being unfaithful
to your engagements, retire many times in the day to pour out your soul
before God, and receive fresh communications of his grace. Our hearts
are so much affected by sensible objects, that, if we suffer them to be
engaged long at a time in worldly pursuits, we find them insensibly
clinging to earth, so that it is with great difficulty we can disengage
them. But, by all means, fix upon some stated and regular seasons, and
observe them punctually and faithfully. Remember _they are engagements
with God_.

For your devotional exercises, you should select those times and seasons
when you find your mind most vigorous, and your feelings most lively. As
the morning is in many respects most favorable, you would do well to
spend as much time as you can in your closet, before engaging in the
employments of the day. An hour spent in reading God's word, and in
prayer and praise, early in the morning, will give a heavenly tone to
your feelings; which, by proper watchfulness, and frequent draughts at
the same fountain, you may carry through all the pursuits of the day.

As already remarked, our Lord, in the pattern left us, has given a very
prominent place to the petition, "THY KINGDOM COME." This is a large
petition. It includes all the instrumentalities which the church is
putting forth for the enlargement of her borders and the salvation of
the world. All these ought to be distinctly and separately remembered;
and not, as is often the case, be crowded into one general petition at
the close of our morning and evening prayers. We are so constituted as
to be affected by a particular consideration of a subject. General
truths have very little influence upon our hearts. I would therefore
recommend the arrangement of these subjects under general heads for
every day of the week; and then divide the subjects which come under
these heads, so as to remember one or more of them at stated seasons,
through the day, separate from your own personal devotions. Thus, you
will always have your mind fixed upon one or two objects; and you will
have time to enlarge, so as to remember every particular relating to
them. This, if faithfully pursued, will give you a deeper interest in
every benevolent effort of the times. The following plan of a daily
concert of prayer was, some years since, suggested by a distinguished
clergyman in New England. It gives something of the interest of the
monthly concert to our daily devotions.

SABBATH. Sabbath duties and privileges;--as preaching, Sabbath-schools,
family instruction, &c. Eph. 6:18-20. 2 Th. 3:1.

MONDAY. Conversion of the world;--the prevalence of peace, knowledge,
freedom, and salvation. Ps. 2:8. Isa. 11:6-10; 62:1-7; 66:8, 12.

TUESDAY. Our country;--our rulers, our free institutions, our benevolent
societies; deliverance from slavery, Romanism, infidelity,
Sabbath-breaking, intemperance, profaneness, &c. Ez. 9:6-15. Dan. 9:4-19

WEDNESDAY. The rising generation:--colleges, seminaries, and schools of
every description; the children of the church, the children of the
ungodly, and orphan children.

THURSDAY. Professing Christians;--that they may much more abound in all
the fruits of the Spirit, presenting their bodies a living sacrifice,
and offering gladly of their substance to the Lord, to the extent of his
requirement; that afflicted saints may be comforted, backsliders
reclaimed, and hypocrites converted; that Zion, being purified, may
arise and shine. Isa. 62:1. Rom. 1:8. Col. 4:12.

FRIDAY. The ministry, including all who are looking forward to that
office, and also the Education Society. 1 Thess. 5:25. Luke 10:2.

SATURDAY. The Jews. Isa. 54:8. 59:20. Ezek. 36:27. Rom. 11:11-31. Also,
our friends.

3. _Observe special seasons of prayer._ Before engaging in any important
matter, make it a subject of special prayer. For this you have the
example of the blessed Jesus. When he was baptized, before entering upon
his ministry, he prayed. Before choosing his twelve apostles, he went
out into a mountain, and spent a whole night in prayer. The Old
Testament saints were also in the habit of "inquiring of the Lord,"
before engaging in any important enterprise. And the apostle Paul
enjoins upon the Philippians, "in everything, by prayer and
supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto
God." Also, whenever you are under any particular temptation or
affliction; whenever you are going to engage in anything which will
expose you to temptation; whenever you perceive any signs of declension
in your own soul; when the state of religion around you is low; when
your heart is affected with the condition of individuals who are living
in impenitence; or when any subject lies heavily upon your mind;--make
the matter, whatever it is, a subject of special prayer. Independent of
Scripture authority, there is a peculiar fitness in the course here
recommended, which must commend itself to every pious heart.

In seasons of peculiar difficulty, or when earnestly seeking any great
blessing, you may find benefit from setting apart days of fasting,
humiliation and prayer. This is especially suitable, whenever you
discover any sensible decay of spiritual affections in your own heart.
Fasting and prayer have been resorted to on special occasions, by
eminent saints, in all ages of the world. The examples recorded in
Scripture are too numerous to mention here. If you look over the lives
of the old Testament saints, you will find this practice very common.
Nor is the New Testament without warrant for the same. Our Lord himself
set the example, by a long season of fasting, when about to endure a
severe conflict with the tempter. And he has farther sanctioned the
practice, by giving directions respecting its performance. We have also
examples in the Acts of the Apostles. The prophets and teachers, in the
church at Antioch, fasted before separating Barnabas and Paul as
missionaries to the heathen. And when they obtained elders in the
churches, they prayed, _with fasting_. Paul, in his epistle to the
Corinthians, speaks of their giving themselves to _fasting and prayer_,
as though it were a frequent custom. You will find, also, in examining
the lives of persons of eminent spiritual attainments, that most of them
were in the habit of observing frequent seasons of fasting and prayer.
There is a peculiar fitness in this act of humiliation. It is calculated
to bring the body under, and to assist us in denying self. The length of
time it gives us in our closets also enables us to get clearer views of
divine things. But there is great danger of trusting in the outward act
of humiliation, and expecting that God will answer our prayers for the
sake of our fasting. This will inevitably bring upon us disappointment
and leanness of soul. This is the kind of fasting so common among Roman
Catholics, and other nominal Christians. But it is no better than
idolatry. Most of the holidays which are usually devoted by the world
to feasting-and mirth are very suitable occasions for Christians to fast
and pray; and this for several reasons: (1.) They are seasons of
leisure, when most people are disengaged from worldly pursuits. (2.) The
goodness of God should lead us to repentance. Instead of spending these
days in mirth over the blessings we have enjoyed, we should be looking
into our hearts, to examine the manner in which we have received them;
humbling ourselves on account of our ingratitude; and lifting up our
hearts and voices in thanksgiving for them. (3.) The first day of the
new year, birth-days, &c., are very suitable occasions for renewing our
past lives, repenting of our unfaithfulness, making resolutions of
amendment, and renewing afresh the solemn dedication of ourselves to
God.

When you set apart a day of fasting and prayer, you ought to have in
view some definite and particular objects. The day should be spent in
self-examination, meditation, reading the Scriptures, confession of sin,
prayer for the particular objects which bear upon your mind, and
thanksgiving for mercies received. Your self-examination should be as
practical as possible; particularly looking into the motives of your
prayers for the special objects which bear heavily upon your heart. Your
confession of sin should be minute and particular; mentioning every sin
you can recollect, whether of thought, word, or deed, with every
circumstance of aggravation. This will have a tendency to affect your
heart with a sense of guilt, produce earnest longings after holiness,
and make sin appear more hateful and odious. Your meditations should be
upon those subjects which are calculated to give you a view of the
exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the abounding mercy of God in Christ.
Your reading of the Scriptures should be strictly devotional. Your
prayers should be very particular, mentioning everything relating to the
object of your desires, and all the hindrances you have met in seeking
after it. Carry all your burdens to the foot of the cross, and there
lay them down. Your thanksgiving, also, should be very minute and
particular, mentioning every mercy and blessing which you can recollect,
with your own unworthiness, and every circumstance which may tend to
show the exceeding greatness of God's love, condescension, and mercy.

4. _Come to the work with a preparation of heart._ The best preparation
at all times is to maintain an habitual spirit of prayer, according to
the first direction. But this is not all that is necessary. We are
unavoidably much occupied with the things of this world. But when we
come before the great Jehovah, to ask his favor and seek his grace, our
minds should be heavenly. When you go into your closet, shut out the
world, that you may be alone with God. Bring your mind into a calm and
heavenly frame, and endeavor to obtain a deep sense of the presence of
God, "_as seeing him who is invisible_." Think of the exalted nature of
the work in which you are about to engage. Think of your own
unworthiness, and of the way God has opened to the mercy seat. Think of
your own wants, or of the wants of others, according to the object of
your visit to the throne of grace. Think of the inexhaustible fulness
treasured up in Christ. Think of the many precious promises of God to
his children, and come with the spirit of a little child to present them
before him.

5. _Persevere in prayer._ If you are seeking for any particular object,
which you know to be agreeable to the will of God, and your prayers are
not heard, you may be sure of one of two things: (1.) _You have been
asking amiss._ Something is wrong in yourself. Perhaps you have been
selfish in your desires; you have not desired supremely the glory of
God; you have not felt your dependence: you have not humbled yourself
sufficiently to receive a blessing; or perhaps you regard iniquity in
your heart, in some other way. Examine yourself, therefore, in all these
particulars. Repent, where you find your prayers have been amiss. Bow
very low before God, and seek the influences of his Spirit to enable you
to pray aright. (2.) Or, _perhaps the Lord delays an answer for the
trial of your faith_. Consider then the encouragements which he has
given us to be importunate in prayer. In the eleventh chapter of Luke,
our Lord shows us that our friends may be prevailed upon to do us a
kindness because of our importunity, when they would not do it on
account of friendship. And in the eighteenth chapter, he shows us that
even an unjust judge may be persuaded by importunity to do justice.
Hence he argues the importance of persevering in prayer; and adds with
emphasis, "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and
night unto him, _though he bear long with them_? I tell you he will
avenge them speedily." Again; look at the case of the Syrophenician
woman. She continued to beseech Jesus to have mercy on her, although he
did not answer her a word. The disciples entreated Christ to send her
away, because she troubled them with her cries; yet she persevered. And
even when Christ himself told his disciples that he was only sent to the
lost sheep of the house of Israel, and compared her to a dog seeking for
the children's bread; yet, with all these repulses, she would not give
up her suit; but begged even for the dog's portion--the children's
crumbs. When by this means our Lord had sufficiently tried her faith, he
answered her prayer. So likewise persevere in your prayers, and "in due
time you shall reap, if you faint not!"

                                  Your affectionate Brother.




LETTER VI.

_Temptation._

    "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation." MATT 26:41.


MY DEAR SISTER,

That there is an evil spirit, who is permitted to exert an influence
upon the hearts of men, is abundantly evident from Scripture. This truth
is referred to in the beginning of the gospel of Christ, where it is
said Jesus went up into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. He
is often represented in the Scriptures as the father of the wicked. "The
tares are the children of the wicked one." "Thou child of the devil." He
is also represented as putting evil designs into the hearts of men. "And
Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel."
"The devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son,
to betray him." "Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart, to lie to the
Holy Ghost?" Wicked men are spoken of as being carried captive by him at
his will. He is also represented as the adversary of the people of God,
seeking to lead them into sin, and, if possible, to destroy them. "Your
adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he
may devour." These, and numerous other passages, which might be quoted,
fully establish the fearful truth, that we are continually beset by an
evil spirit, who is seeking, by every means in his power, to injure and
destroy our souls.

When we have to contend with an enemy, it is very important that we
should know his character. From the Scriptures, we learn several
characteristics of the great enemy of our souls.

1. _He is powerful._ He has other fallen spirits at his command. Our
Saviour speaks of the "fire prepared for the devil _and his angels_." He
is called "prince of the world," "prince of darkness," and "the god of
this world." All these titles denote the exercise of great power. He is
also called _destroyer_; and is said to walk about, seeking whom he may
devour. Indeed, so great was his power, and so mighty his work of ruin
and destruction in this lost world, that it became necessary for the son
of God to come into the world to destroy his works. "For this purpose
was the Son of God manifested, that he might _destroy the works of the
devil_."

But, although he is powerful, yet his power is limited. This you see in
the case of Job. No doubt, his malice would have destroyed that holy man
at once. But he could do nothing against him till he was permitted; and
then he could go no farther than the length of his chain. God reserved
the life of his servant. And the apostle Jude speaks of the devils as
being "reserved _in chains_, under darkness." But the objection arises,
"As God is almighty, why is Satan permitted to exercise any power at
all?" To this objection the Bible furnishes satisfactory answers. (1.)
It is to try the faith of his children. This was the case with Job. The
devil had slandered that holy man, by accusing him of serving God from
selfish motives. By suffering Satan to take away all he had, the Lord
proved this accusation to be false; and Job came out of the furnace,
greatly purified. The apostle James says, "My brethren, count it all
joy, when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying
of your faith worketh patience." If the children of God were never
tempted, they would never have an opportunity to prove the sincerity of
their faith. But they have the blessed assurance, that God will not
suffer them to be tempted above what they are able to bear, but will,
with the temptation, also make a way to escape, that they may be able
to bear it. (2.) Again; the devil is permitted to exercise his power,
for the discovery of hypocrites and for the punishment of sinners.
"These have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of
temptation fall away." "But, if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them
that are lost. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of
them that believe not."

2. _He has much knowledge._ He knew the command of God to our first
parents, and therefore tempted them to break it. When those that were
possessed with devils were brought to Christ, they cried out, "We _know_
thee, who thou art, the holy one of God." He has also a knowledge of the
Bible; for he quoted Scripture, in his temptation of our Saviour. And as
he has great experience in the world, he must have a great knowledge of
human nature, so to be able to suit his temptations to the peculiar
constitutions of individuals.

3. _He is wicked._ "The devil sinneth from the beginning." He is called
the _wicked one_; or, by way of eminence, "_The Wicked._" He is
altogether wicked. There is not one good quality in his character.

4. _He is crafty, and full of deceit and treachery._ He lays snares for
the unwary. That he may the more readily deceive the people of God, he
appears to them in the garb of religion. "Satan himself is transformed
into an angel of light." In consequence of his cunning and craft, he is
called the serpent.[C] He is also represented as deceiving the
nations.[D] Hence we are cautioned against the _wiles_ of the devil.[E]

  [Footnote C: Gen. 3; Isa. 27:1; Rev. 12:9]

  [Footnote D: Rev. 20:8.]

  [Footnote E: Eph. 6:11.]

5. _He is a liar._ The first thing recorded of him is the lie which he
told our first parents, to persuade them to disobey God. Hence our
Saviour calls him a "liar from the beginning."[F]

  [Footnote F: John 8:44.]

6. _He is malicious._ As Satan is the enemy of God, so he hates
everything that is good. He is continually bent on mischief. If his
power were not restrained, he would introduce general disorder, anarchy
and confusion, into the government of God. He loves to ruin immortal
souls; and he takes delight in vexing the people of God. Hence he is
called _Destroyer_,[G] _Adversary_, _Accuser_, _Tormentor_, and
_Murderer_.[H]

  [Footnote G: _Abaddon_ signifies _destroyer_.]

  [Footnote H: Rev. 9:11; I Pet. 5:8; Rev. 12:10; Matt. 18:34; John 8:44.]

Now, since we are beset by an adversary of such knowledge and power, so
sly and artful, so false, and so malicious, it becomes us to be well
acquainted with all his arts, that we maybe on our guard against them.
The apostle Paul says, "For we are not ignorant of his devices." O, that
every Christian could say so! How many sad falls would be prevented! I
Will mention a few of the devices of Satan, which are manifest both from
the Holy Scriptures, and from the experience of eminent saints who have
been enabled to detect and distinguish his secret workings in their own
hearts. It is the opinion of some great and good men, that the devil can
suggest thoughts to our minds only through the _imagination_. This is
that faculty of the mind by which it forms ideas of things communicated
to it through the senses. Thus, when you see, hear, feel, taste, or
smell anything, the image of the thing is impressed upon the mind by the
imagination. It also brings to our recollection these images, when they
are not present. It is thought to be only by impressing these images
upon the imagination, that he can operate upon our souls. Hence, we may
account for the strange manner in which our minds are led off from the
contemplation of divine things, by a singular train of thought,
introduced to the mind by the impression of some sensible object upon
the imagination. This object brings some other one like it to our
recollection, and that again brings another, until we wander entirely
from the subject before us, and find our minds lost in a maze of
intellectual trifling.

Satan adapts his temptations to our peculiar tempers and circumstances.
In youth, he allures us by pleasure, and bright hopes of worldly
prosperity. In manhood, he seeks to bury up our hearts in the cares of
life. In old age, he persuades to the indulgence of self-will and
obstinacy. In prosperity, he puffs up the heart with pride, and
persuades to self-confidence and forgetfulness of God. In poverty and
affliction, he excites feelings of discontent, distrust, and repining.
If we are of a melancholy temperament, he seeks to sour our tempers, and
promote habitual sullenness and despondency. If naturally cheerful, he
prompts to the indulgence of levity. In private devotion, he stands
between us and God, prevents us from realizing his presence, and seeks
to distract our minds, and drive us from the throne of grace. In public
worship, he disturbs our minds by wandering thoughts and foolish
imaginations. When we have enjoyed any happy manifestations of God's
presence, any precious tokens of his love, then he stirs up the pride of
our hearts, and leads us to trust in our own goodness, and forget the
Rock of our salvation. Even our deepest humiliations he makes the
occasion of spiritual pride. Thus we fall into darkness, and thrust
ourselves through with many sorrows. If we have performed any
extraordinary acts of self-denial, or of Christian beneficence, he stirs
up in our hearts a vain-glorious spirit. If we have overcome any of the
corruptions of our hearts, or any temptation, he excites a secret
feeling of self-satisfaction and self-complacency. He puts on the mask
of religion. Often, during the solemn hours of public worship, he
beguiles our hearts with some scheme for doing good; taking care,
however, that self be uppermost in it. When we are in a bad frame, he
stirs up the unholy tempers of our hearts, and leads us to indulge in
peevishness, moroseness, harshness, and anger, or in levity and
unseemly mirth.

There is no Christian grace which Satan cannot counterfeit. He cares not
how much religious feeling we have, or how many good deeds we perform,
if he can but keep impure and selfish motives at the bottom. There is
great danger, therefore, in trusting to impulses, or sudden impressions
of any kind. Such impressions _may be_ from the Spirit of God; but they
may also be from Satan. The fact that your religious feelings are not
produced by yourself, but that they arise in your mind in a manner for
which you cannot account, is no evidence, either that they come from the
Spirit of God, or that they do not. There are many false spirits, which
are very busy with people's hearts. As before remarked, Satan sometimes
appears to us like an angel of light. He is often the author of false
comforts and joys, very much like those produced by the Holy Spirit. We
are, therefore, directed to "try the spirits, whether they be of God."
Nor is it certain that religious feelings are holy and spiritual because
they come with texts of Scripture, brought to the mind in a remarkable
manner. If the feeling is produced by the truth contained in the
Scripture so brought to the mind, and is, in its nature, agreeable to
the word of God, it may be a spiritual and holy affection. But if it
arises from the application of the Scripture to your own case, on
account of its being so brought to your mind, you may be sure it is a
delusion of the devil. He has power to bring Scripture to your mind when
he pleases, and he can apply it with dexterity, as you see in his
temptations of the blessed Saviour. Our own hearts are exceedingly
deceitful; and our indwelling corruptions will gladly unite with him in
bringing false peace and comfort to our souls. Satan, no doubt, often
brings the most sweet and precious promises of God to the minds of those
he wishes to deceive as to their own good estate. But we must be
satisfied that the promises belong to us, before we take them to
ourselves. We have "a more sure word of prophecy," by which we are to
try every impulse, feeling, and impression, produced upon our minds.
Anything which does not agree with the written word of God does not come
from him, for he "cannot deny himself."

Satan manages temptation with the greatest subtlety. He asks so little
at first, that, unless our consciences are very tender, we do not
suspect him. If he can persuade us to parley, he perhaps leaves us for
a while, and returns again, with a fresh and more vigorous attack. He is
exceedingly persevering; and, if he can persuade us to give place to him
at all, he is sure to overcome us at last.

We are also liable to temptation from the world without, and from the
corruptions of our own hearts within. "They that will be rich fall into
temptation and a snare." The riches, honors, pleasures, and fashions, of
this world, are great enemies to serious piety. "Every man is tempted
when he is drawn away of his own lusts and enticed." Remaining
corruption is the sorest evil that besets the Christian. The temptations
of Satan alone would be light, in comparison with the inward conflict he
is compelled to maintain against the lusts of his own heart. But the
devil makes use of both these sources of temptation to accomplish his
ends. The former he uses as outward enticements, and the latter act as
traitors within. Thus you may generally find a secret alliance between
the arch deceiver and the corruptions of your own heart. It is not sin
to be tempted: but it is sin to give place to temptation. "Neither give
place to the devil."

The heart is very properly compared to a castle or fort. Before
conversion it is in the possession of the great enemy of souls, who has
fortified himself there, and secured the allegiance of all our moral
powers. But when Jesus enters in, he "binds the strong man armed," and
takes possession of the heart himself. Yet Satan, though in a measure
bound, loses no opportunity to attempt regaining his lost dominion.
Hence we are directed to "keep the heart _with all diligence_." Now we
know how a castle, fort, or city, is kept in time of war. The first
thing done is to _set a watch_, whose business is to keep constantly on
the look out, this way and that way, to see that no enemy is approaching
from without, and no traitor is lurking within. Hence we are so
frequently exhorted to _watch_. "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into
temptation." "Take heed, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time
is." "And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch." "Watch ye, stand
fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." "Continue in prayer,
and watch _in_ the same, with thanksgiving." "Praying always, with all
prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and _watching thereunto_ with all
perseverance." "Let us watch and be sober." "Watch then _in all
things_." "Watch _unto_ prayer." "Blessed is he that _watcheth_, and
keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." "Set
a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips." If we were
in a house surrounded by a band of robbers, and especially if we knew
there were persons in it who held a secret correspondence with them, we
should be continually on our guard. Every moment we should be
_watching_, both within and without. But such is the state of our
hearts. Surely, no ordinary danger would have called forth from our Lord
and his apostles such repeated warnings. We are directed to watch in
_all things_. Keep a continual guard over your own heart, and over every
word and action of your life. But there are particular seasons when we
should set a _double watch_.

1. We are directed to watch _unto_ prayer. When you approach the mercy
seat, watch against a careless spirit. Suffer not your mind to be drawn
away by anything, however good and important in itself, from the object
before you. If the adversary can divert your mind on the way to that
consecrated place, he will be almost sure to drive you away from it
without a blessing.

2. We are required to watch not only _unto_ but _in_ prayer. Satan is
never more busy with Christians than when he sees them on their knees.
He well knows the power of prayer; and this makes him tremble.

  "Satan trembles when he sees
  The weakest saint upon his knees."

You should, therefore, with the most untiring vigilance, watch in prayer
against all wandering thoughts and distraction of mind. You will often
experience, on such occasions, a sudden and vivid impression upon your
mind of something entirely foreign from what is before you. This is no
doubt the temptation of Satan. If you are sufficiently upon your watch,
you can banish it, without diverting your thoughts or feelings from the
subject of your prayer, and proceed as though nothing had happened. But,
if the adversary succeeds in keeping these wild imaginations in view, so
that you cannot proceed without distraction, turn and beseech God to
give you help against his wiles. You have the promise, that if you
resist the devil he will flee from you. These remarks apply both to
secret prayer and public worship.

3. We have need of special watchfulness when we have experienced any
comfortable manifestations of God's presence. It is then that Satan
tempts us to consider the conflict over, and relax our diligence. If we
give way to him, we shall bring leanness upon our souls.

4. We have need of double watchfulness when gloom and despondency come
over our souls; for then the adversary seeks to stir up all the perverse
passions of the heart.

5. Watch, also, when you feel remarkably cheerful. Satan will then, if
possible, persuade you to indulge in levity, to the wounding of your
soul, and the dishonor of religion.

6. We have need of special watchfulness in prosperity, that we forget
not God; and in adversity, that we murmur not at his dealings with us.

7. Set a watch over your tongue, especially in the presence of the
unconverted. "The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity." David says, "I
will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me." I do
not mean that you should ever engage in any sinful conversation in the
presence of Christians. I know some professors of religion will indulge
in senseless garrulity among themselves, and put on an air of
seriousness and solemnity before those whom they regard as unconverted.
This they pretend to do for the _honor of Christ_. But Christ says, "Out
of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." God hates lip
service. However, in the company of sinners and formal professors we are
peculiarly exposed to temptation, and have need therefore to set a
double guard upon our lips. A single unguarded expression from a
Christian may do great injury to an unconverted soul.

8. Watch over your heart when engaged in doing good to others. It is
then that Satan seeks to stir up pride and vain-glory.

9. Set a _double_ watch over your easily besetting sin. "Let us lay
aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us." Most
persons have some constitutional sin, which easily besets them. Satan
takes the advantage of this infirmity, to bring us into difficulty.

10. Finally, keep a constant watch over the _imagination_. Since this is
the medium through which temptation comes, never suffer your fancy to
rove without control. If you mortify this faculty of the soul, it may be
a great assistance to your devotion. But, if you let it run at random,
you will be led captive by Satan at his will. Strive, then, after a
sanctified imagination, that you may make every power of your soul
subservient to the glory of God.

                                  Your affectionate Brother.




LETTER VII.

_Self-Denial._

    "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up
    his cross daily, and follow me."--LUKE 9:23.


MY DEAR SISTER,

The duty of self-denial arises from the unnatural relation which sin has
created between us and God. The first act of disobedience committed by
man was a setting up of himself in opposition to God. It was a
declaration that he would regard his own will in preference to the will
of his Creator. _Self_ became the supreme or chief object of his
affections. And this is the case with all unregenerate persons. Their
own happiness is the object of their highest wishes. They pursue their
own selfish interests with their whole hearts. When anything occurs, the
first question which arises in their minds is, "How will this affect
_me_?" It is true, they may often exercise a kind of generosity towards
others. But, if their motives were scanned, it would appear that
self-gratification is at the bottom of it. The correctness of these
assertions, no one will doubt, who is acquainted with his own heart. All
unconverted persons live for themselves. They see no higher object of
action than the promotion of their own individual interests. The duty in
question consists in the denial of this disposition. And a moment's
attention will show that nothing can be more reasonable. No individual
has a right to attach to himself any more importance than properly
belongs to the station he occupies in the grand scale of being, of
which God is the centre. It is by this station that his value is known.
If he thinks himself of more consequence than the place he occupies will
give him, it leads him to seek a higher station. This is pride. It is
setting up the wisdom of the creature in opposition to that of the
Creator. This was probably the origin of the first act of disobedience.
Satan thought himself entitled to a higher station in the scale of being
than God gave him; therefore, he rebelled against the government of the
Most High This act of rebellion was nothing more than setting up his own
selfish interests against the interests of the universe. And what would
be the consequence, if this selfish principle were carried out in the
material universe? Take, for example, our own planetary system. If every
planet should set up an interest separate from the whole, would they
move on with such beautiful harmony? No; every one would seek to be a
sun. They would all rush towards the common centre, and universal
confusion would follow. God is the sun and centre of the moral universe,
and the setting up of private individual interests as supreme objects of
pursuit, if permitted to take their course, would produce the same
general confusion. This it has done, so far as it has prevailed. Its
tendency is to create a universal contention among inferior beings for
the throne of the universe, which belongs to God alone. But, the
interests of God, if I may be allowed the expression, are identified
with the highest good of his intelligent creation. Hence we see the
perfect reasonableness of the first commandment, "Thou shalt have no
other gods before me." There can be no selfishness in this, because the
best interests of the universe require it. But, by pursuing our own
selfish interests as the chief good, we make a god _of self_.

The religion of Jesus Christ strikes at the root of this selfish
principle. The very first act of the new-born soul is a renunciation or
giving up of self--the surrender of the whole soul to God. The entire
dedication which the Christian makes of himself--soul, body and
property--to the Lord, implies that he will no longer live to himself,
but to God. "Present your bodies, a living sacrifice, holy and
acceptable unto God." "For none of us liveth to himself." "They which
live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which
died for them and rose again." "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or
_whatsoever ye do_, do all _to the glory of God_." Self-denial is, then,
an entire surrender of our own wills to the will of God. It is an
adoption of the revealed will of God as the rule of duty; and a
steadfast, determined, and persevering denial of every selfish
gratification which comes between us and duty. It is a seeking of the
glory of God and the good of our fellow-creatures, as the highest object
of pursuit. In short, it is to "love the Lord our God with all our
heart, soul, might, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves."

By carrying out this principle, in its application to the feelings,
desires, and motives of the heart, and the actions of the life, we learn
the practical duty of self-denial. This is a very important matter; for
the Scriptures most fully and clearly cut off all hope for such as are
destitute of the true spirit of self-denial. Let us hear what our
blessed Lord and Master says upon this subject. "He that loveth father
or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or
daughter more than me, is not worthy of me." "If any man will come after
me, let him _deny himself_, and take up his cross and follow me. For,
whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his
life for my sake shall find it." "If any man come to me, and hate not
his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters,
yea, and his _own life_ also, he _cannot be my disciple_." "He that
loveth his life, shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this
world shall keep it unto life eternal." "If thy right eye offend thee,
(or cause thee to offend,) pluck it out and cast it from thee." _We must
follow Christ._ Here we are taught that, unless we put away all
self-seeking, and willingly surrender the dearest objects of our
affections on earth, yea, and _our own lives also_, if need be, we have
no claim to the character of disciples of Christ. The glory of God and
the general good must be our ruling principle of action; and we must not
gratify ourselves in opposition to the will of God, or the interest of
our fellow-beings. Every action must be brought to this test. Here is
heart-work and life-work. Self must be denied in all our spiritual
feelings, and in all our devotions, or they will be abominable in the
sight of God. Here is work for self-examination. Every exercise of our
minds should be tried by this standard. Again; we must deny self in all
our conduct. And here we have the examples of many holy men, recorded in
Scripture, with a host of martyrs and missionaries, but especially of
our Lord himself, to show what influence the true spirit of self-denial
exerts upon the Christian life. In the passage quoted above, our Lord
expressly declares that, in order to be his disciples, we must _follow_
him. And how can this be done, but by imitating his example? He was
willing to make _sacrifices_ for the good of others. He led a life of
toil, hardship, and suffering, and _gave up his own life_, to save
sinners. His immediate disciples did the same. They submitted to
ignominy, reproach, suffering, and death itself, for the sake of
promoting the glory of God, in the salvation of men. Cultivate, then,
this spirit. Prefer the glory of God to everything else. Prefer the
general good to your own private interest. Be willing to make personal
sacrifices for the benefit of others. Carry this principle out in all
your intercourse with others, and it will greatly increase your
usefulness. It will also really promote your own interest and happiness.
There is nothing which renders a person so amiable and lovely, in the
sight of others, as disinterested benevolence. Think no sacrifice too
great to make, no hardship too painful to endure, if you can be the
means of benefiting perishing souls. Remember, it was for this that
Jesus gave up his life; and he requires you to be ready to give up
everything you have, and even life itself, if the same cause shall
require it.

But let me caution you against placing self-denial chiefly in outward
things. We are not required to relinquish any of the comforts and
enjoyments of this life, except when they come in competition with our
duty to God and our fellow-creatures. "Every creature of God is good,
and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving;" and
godliness has the promise of this life as well as of that which is to
come. The religion of some people seems to consist chiefly in denying
themselves of lawful enjoyments; and you will find them very severe and
censorious towards others, for partaking freely and thankfully of the
bounties of God's providence. This, however, is but a species of
self-righteous mockery, characterized by Paul as a voluntary humility.
Instead of being self-denial, it is the gratification of self in
maintaining an appearance of external sanctity. It may, however, be not
only proper, but obligatory upon us, to sacrifice these lawful
enjoyments, when we may thereby promote the interests of Christ's
kingdom; which requires the exercise of a self-sacrificing spirit.

                                  Your affectionate Brother.




LETTER VIII.

_Public and Social Worship, and Sabbath Employments._

    "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together."--HEB. 10:23.

    "It is lawful to _do well_ on the Sabbath days."--MATT. 12:12.

    "Call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord,
    honorable,"--"honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding
    thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words."--ISA. 68:13.


MY DEAR SISTER,

The duty of public worship is clearly taught in the Holy Scriptures: 1.
From the appointment of one day in seven, to be set apart exclusively
for the service of God, we may argue the propriety of assembling
together, to acknowledge and worship him in a social capacity. God has
made us social beings; and all the institutions of his appointment
contemplate us as such. The public worship of the Sabbath is
preeminently calculated to cultivate the social principle of our nature.
It brings people of the same community regularly together, every week,
for the same general purpose. In the house of God all meet upon a level.

2. If we look forward from the institution of the Sabbath to the
organization of the Jewish church, we find that God did actually
establish a regular system of public worship. An order of men was
instituted whose special business was to conduct the public worship of
God. After the return of the Jews from captivity, social meetings, held
every Sabbath, for public religious worship, became common all over the
land. They were called _synagogues_.[I] Although we have no particular
account of the divine origin of these assemblies, yet they were
sanctioned by the presence of Christ, who often took part in the public
exercises.

Under the gospel dispensation, the plan of synagogue worship is
continued, with such modifications as suit it to the clearer and more
complete development of God's gracious designs towards sinful men. A new
order of men has been instituted, to conduct public worship and teach
the people. As religion consists very much in the exercise of holy
affections, God has appointed the preaching of the Word as a suitable
means for stirring up these affections. Our desires are called forth,
our love excited, our delight increased, and our zeal inflamed, by a
faithful, earnest, and feeling representation of the most common and
familiar truths of the Bible, from the pulpit. It is evident, then,
that the private reading of the best books, though highly useful, cannot
answer the end and design of public worship.

  [Footnote I: The term _synagogue_ was applied both to the place of
  meeting and to the congregation assembling for public worship, as the
  term _church_ is now used.]

3. The duty of public worship may be inferred from the fitness and
propriety of a public acknowledgment of God, by a community, in their
social capacity.

4. This duty is enforced by the example of holy men of old; but
especially of Christ and his apostles. David took great delight in the
public worship of God's house. "My soul thirsteth for thee; my flesh
longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is, to see
thy power and glory, _so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary_." "_I
went into the sanctuary_ of God; then understood I their end." "Lord, _I
have loved the habitation of thy house_, and the place where thine honor
dwelleth." "_I went with them to the house of God_, with the voice of
joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holy day." "We took sweet
counsel together, _and walked to the house of God in company_." "_I will
dwell in the house of_ the Lord forever." "One thing have I desired of
the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may _dwell in the house of the
Lord all the days of my life_, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to
inquire in his temple." Such were the feelings of the man who has
expressed, in strains of sweetest melody, the experience of Christians
in all ages. Delight in the worship of God's house may be regarded as
one of the tokens of the new birth. If you are destitute of this
feeling, you have reason to form sad conclusions respecting the
foundation of your hopes. But, the example of Jesus is very clear on
this point. "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and,
_as his custom was_, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and
stood up for to read." From this it appears that Jesus, even before
entering upon his ministry, was in the habit of attending regularly upon
the public worship of God in the synagogue of Nazareth, where he had
been brought up. This was the first time he had been there, after the
commencement of his ministry; yet he went into the synagogue on the
Sabbath day, _as his custom was_; evidently showing that he had always
been in the habit of doing so. Again; after the crucifixion of our Lord,
we find the disciples regularly assembling together upon the _first day
of the week_, which is the Christian Sabbath. And Jesus himself honored
these assemblies by his presence, after his resurrection. That this
practice continued to be observed by the churches founded by the
apostles, is evident, from the frequent allusions to it in the Acts, and
in the writings of Paul. Paul preached at Macedonia upon the first day
of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread. In the
sixteenth chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians, he gives
directions for taking up collections for the poor saints _on the first
day of the week_; which evidently means the time when they were in the
habit of meeting for public worship. And in the eleventh chapter of the
same epistle, he tells them how to regulate their conduct when they
"_come together in the church_." Again; he exhorts the Hebrews _"not to
forsake the assembling of themselves together_." From all these
passages, I think the inference is plain, that, under the direction of
the apostles, the public worship of God, upon the Sabbath, was observed
in the primitive churches. And this is confirmed by the fact, that the
same practice has since been uniformly observed by the church in all
ages.

From the foregoing arguments I draw the following conclusions: 1. It is
the imperative duty of every person to attend regularly upon the public
worship of God, unless prevented by circumstances beyond his control.
God has appointed public worship, consisting of devotional exercises and
the preaching of his Word, as the principal means of grace, for edifying
his people, and bringing lost sinners to himself. We cannot, therefore,
excuse ourselves for not waiting upon these means; nor can we expect the
blessing or God upon any others which we may substitute in their place.

2. This duty remains the same, even under the ministry of a cold and
formal pastor, provided he preaches the essential doctrines of the
gospel. If he denies any of these, his church becomes the synagogue of
Satan, and therefore no place for the child of God. This conclusion is
drawn from the practice of Christ himself. He attended habitually upon
the regularly constituted public worship of the Jews, although there
appears to have been scarce any signs of spiritual worship among them.
The Scriptures were read--the truth was declared; yet all was cold
formality--a mere shell of outside worship.

3. No person, who neglects public worship upon the Sabbath, when it is
in his power to attend, can expect a blessing upon his soul. When
preaching is of an ordinary character, and not very full of instruction,
or when the manner of the preacher is disagreeable, people are
frequently tempted to think they can improve their time better at home,
in reading, meditation, and prayer. But this is a very great mistake,
unless they can spend the Sabbath profitably without the presence of
God. If, as I think I have already shown, it is the _duty_ of every one
to attend upon the regularly instituted public worship of the Sabbath,
when we neglect it we are out of the way of duty. And God will never
bless us in the neglect of any positive duty, even if our whole time be
spent upon our knees. Remember, this is the condition of the promise,
"_If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you_, ye shall ask what ye
will, and it shall be done unto you." When, therefore, we are living in
sin, or in the neglect of duty, (which is the same thing,) God will not
hear our prayers. "If I regard iniquity in my heart," says the psalmist,
"the Lord will not hear me." Again; it is the regular ministration of
his word in the sanctuary, that God most eminently blesses for the
growth of Christians and the conversion of sinners. And when the
appointed means of grace are slighted, can any one expect the blessing
of God? Will he bless the means which you have devised, and preferred to
those of his own appointment? Do not, then, neglect the habitual and
regular attendance upon the public worship of God, whenever there is a
properly conducted assembly of orthodox Christians within your reach. I
would not dare neglect this, even if the reading of a sermon were
substituted for preaching.

Having, as I think, proved the obligation to attend public worship, I
will now notice a few particulars respecting the performance of the
duty.

1. _Attend on the stated ministrations of your pastor._ If there is more
than one church professing your own sentiments, in the place where you
reside, select the pastor who is most spiritual, and will give you the
best instruction. But, when you have made this selection, consider
yourself bound to wait on his ministry. Do not indulge yourself in going
from place to place, to hear this and that minister. This will give you
"_itching ears_" and cultivate a love of novelty, and a critical mode of
hearing, very unfavorable to the practical application of the truth to
your own soul. If you wish to obtain complete views of truth, if you
wish your soul to thrive, attend, as far as possible, upon _every_
appointment of your pastor. Every minister has some plan. He adapts his
preaching to the peculiar state of his own people, and frequently
pursues a chain of subjects in succession, so as to present a complete
view of the great doctrines of the Bible. Whenever you absent yourself,
you break this chain, and lose much of your interest and profit in his
preaching. I do not say but on special occasions, when some subject of
more than visual importance is to be presented at another place, it may
be proper for you to leave your own church. But, in general, the
frequent assistance which most pastors receive from strangers will
furnish as great variety as you will find profitable.

2. _Be punctual in attending at the stated hour of public worship._
This, though of great importance, is sadly neglected by most
congregations. Punctuality is so necessary in matters of business, that
a man is hardly considered honest, when he fails to meet his friend at
the hour of engagement. And why should it be thought of less consequence
to be exact and punctual in our engagements with God than with man? The
person, who enters the house of God after the service has commenced,
greatly embarrasses the preacher, and disturbs the devotions of others.
Besides, he shows great want of reverence for the sacredness of the
place, time, and employment. "God is greatly to be feared _in the
assembly of his saints_, and to be had in reverence of all them that are
about him." Always calculate to be seated in the sanctuary a few minutes
before the time appointed for the commencement of worship. As precious
as time is, it would be much better to lose a few moments, than to do so
much injury. But this time need not be lost. You require a little time,
after entering the house of God, to settle your mind, and to lift your
soul, in silent prayer, to God for his blessing.

3. Several things are necessary to be observed, in order to wait upon
God, in the sanctuary, in a proper manner:--(1.) _Go to the house of God
with a preparation of heart._ First visit your closet, and implore the
influences of the Holy Spirit, to prepare your heart for the reception
of the truth, and to bless it to your own soul and the souls of others;
and, if possible, go immediately from your closet to the house of
worship. On the way, shut out all thoughts except such as are calculated
to inspire devotional feelings; and, if in company, avoid conversation.
Whatever may be the nature of such conversation, it will be very likely
to produce a train of thought which will distract and disturb your mind
during public worship. (2.) When you approach the house of worship,
remember that God is there in a peculiar manner. He has promised to be
where two or three shall meet in his name. It is in the _assembly of his
saints_, that he makes known the power of his Spirit. As you enter his
house, endeavor to realize the solemnity of his presence, and walk
softly before him. Avoid carelessness of demeanor, and let your
deportment indicate the reverence due to the place where "God's honor
dwelleth." "Keep thy foot, when thou goest to the house of God." But,
above all, avoid that indecent practice of whispering and conversation
in the house of God. Before service commences, it unfits the mind for
the solemn employments in which you are about to engage. After the
congregation is dismissed, it dissipates the impression received. When
seated in the place of worship, set a watch over the senses, that your
eyes and ears may not cause your mind to wander upon forbidden objects.
There is great danger that the attraction of persons, characters and
dress, may dissipate every serious thought with which you entered the
sanctuary. By this means, you will lose the benefit of the means of
grace, and bring leanness upon your soul. Again; set a watch over your
imagination. This is a time when Satan is particularly busy in diverting
the fancy; and, unless you are doubly watchful, he will lead away your
mind, by some phantom of the imagination, before you are aware of it.
Keep these avenues of temptation guarded, and seek to bring yourself
into a prayerful frame of mind, that you may be suitably affected by the
various exercises of public worship.

4. _Unite in spirit with the devotional part of the service._ "God is a
Spirit; and they that worship him must worship in spirit and in truth."
Be particularly careful that you do not mock God in singing. This part
of worship, I fear, is too often performed in a heartless manner. Try to
sing with the _spirit_, as well as the understanding. And whenever you
come to anything in the language of the psalm or hymn which you cannot
adopt as your own, omit it. If you sing before him what you do not
_feel_, you lie to him in your heart. And you know, by the terrible
example of Ananias and Sapphira, how God regards this sin. In prayer,
_strive_ to follow, in your heart, the words of the person who leads,
applying the several parts of the prayer to yourself in particular, when
they suit your case, and yet bearing in mind the various subjects of
petition, which relate to the congregation and the world. In all the
exercises of public worship, labor and strive against wandering
thoughts. This is the time when Satan will beset you with all his fury.
Now you must be well armed, and fight manfully. Be not discouraged,
though you may be many times foiled. If you persevere in the strength of
Jesus, you will come off conqueror at last.

5. "Take heed _how_ you hear." (1.) Consider the speaker as the
ambassador of Christ, sent with a message from God to yourself. For such
truly is every evangelical minister of Christ. (2.) Diligently compare
the doctrines, which you hear from the pulpit, with the Holy Scriptures,
and receive nothing which does not agree with them. The figure used in
the passage referred to, (2 Cor. 5:20,) is borrowed from the practice of
one government sending a person on a particular errand to another. The
analogy in this case, however, does not hold good throughout. It is like
a sovereign sending an ambassador to persuade rebels against his
government to submit to him, and accept of pardon. But, in such a case,
it would be possible, either for some person, who was not sent, to
deliver a false message in the name of the king, or for one who was
really sent, to deliver a different message from the one sent by him. So
it is in relation to preachers of the gospel. There are many, whom
Christ has never sent, who are spreading abroad lies over the land; and
there are others, really sent by Christ, who have, in some respects,
misapprehended his meaning, and therefore do not deliver his message
just as he has directed. But, our blessed Lord, foreseeing this, has
wisely and kindly given us a _check book_, by which we may discover
whether those who speak in his name tell the truth. Hence we are
commanded to "search the Scriptures," and to "try the spirits, whether
they be of God." And the Bereans were commended as more noble, because
they searched the Scriptures daily, to know whether the things preached
by the apostles were so. If, then, they were applauded for trying the
preaching of the apostles by the word of God, surely we may try the
preaching of uninspired men by the same standard. (3.) Beware of a
fault-finding spirit. There are some persons, who indulge such a habit
of finding fault with preaching, that they never receive any benefit
from it. Either the matter of the sermon, the apparent feeling of the
preacher, or his style and manner of delivery, does not suit them, and
therefore they throw away all the good they might have obtained from his
discourse. Remember that preachers of the gospel are but men. So weak
are they, that the apostle compares them to "earthen vessels." Do not,
then, expect perfection. Bear with their infirmities. Receive their
instructions as the bread which your heavenly Father has provided for
the nourishment of your soul. Do not ungratefully spurn it from you.
What would you think, to see a child throwing away the bread his mother
gives him, because it does not suit his capricious notions? Surely, you
would say he did not deserve to have any. But, if your minister is cold
and formal, and does not exhibit the truth in a clear, pointed, and
forcible manner to the conscience, mourn over the matter in secret,
before God. You will do no good by making it a subject of common
conversation. It will lead to the indulgence of a censorious spirit, to
the injury of your own soul, and the wounding of the cause of Christ. If
you speak of it at all, let it be in a spirit of tender concern for the
welfare of Zion, to some pious friends, who will unite with you in
praying for your pastor. You recollect the conversion of Dr. West,[J]
in answer to the prayers of two pious females. So you may be
instrumental in reviving the heart of your pastor. (4.) _Hear with
self-application._ From almost any passage in the Bible the Christian
may draw a practical lesson for himself. Some truths may not be
immediately applicable to your present circumstances; but they are,
nevertheless, calculated to affect your heart. Even a sermon, addressed
exclusively to impenitent sinners, is calculated to rouse up the most
intense feelings of the Christian's soul. It reminds him of the
exceeding wickedness of his past life; it shows him what an awful gulf
he has escaped; it leads him to mourn over his ingratitude; and it calls
forth his prayers and tears in behalf of perishing sinners. Strive to
bring home the truth, so far as it is applicable to yourself, in the
most searching manner. Examine your own heart diligently, that you lose
nothing which belongs to you. (5.) _Do not hear for others._ Let every
one make his own application of the truth. Many persons are so intent on
finding garments for others, that they lose their own. (6.) _Hear with a
prayerful frame of mind._ If any part of the discourse is intended for
professors of religion, let your heart continually ascend to God, for
the Holy Spirit to apply it to your own heart, and to the heart of every
Christian present. If any part of it is designed for impenitent sinners,
let your soul put forth an agony of prayer, that it may be blessed for
their conversion. (7.) _Remember and practise what you hear._ This is of
great importance; and, unless you attend to it, every other direction
will be of little avail.

  [Footnote J: See page 64.]

Intimately connected with public worship are social meetings for prayer.
We have examples of these in the primitive church. The disciples met for
prayer _ten days_ in succession before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
on the day of Pentecost. When the apostles returned from before the
council, they held a prayer-meeting, and the place was shaken where they
were assembled. When Peter was imprisoned, the church assembled for
prayer _in the night_; and an angel delivered him out of the prison. We
read of a place by the river side, where prayer was "wont to be made."
And at Miletus, Paul attended a precious prayer-meeting with the elders
of the church of Ephesus. These meetings have been maintained among
evangelical Christians in every age. They are the life of the church.
They are the mainspring of human agency in all revivals of religion.
Without a spirit of prayer, sufficient to bring God's people together in
this way, I see not how vital piety can exist in a church. The feelings
of a lively Christian will lead him to the place where prayer is "wont
to be made." But it will not do to follow our feelings at all times,
because they are variable. Be governed in everything by religious
principle. If there are prayer-meetings in the place where you reside,
make it a matter of conscience to attend them. Let no slight excuse keep
you from the house of prayer. Especially, never let company prevent your
attendance upon these meetings. There is a time for visiting; but to
prefer the company of mortals to that of the living God is most unwise;
and if but two or three are really met for the purpose of holding
communion with Christ, they have his promise that he will be with them.
In relation to punctuality, preparation, watchfulness, &c., the remarks
already made in relation to public worship apply with equal force to
social prayer-meetings.

But, in addition to the ordinary prayer-meetings, I would recommend to
you always to attend a praying circle of females. Female prayer-meetings
have often been blessed to the reviving of God's work; and if, by the
grace of God, you are enabled to offer up the prayer of faith, your
influence may thus be felt to the remotest parts of the earth.

In relation to the duties of that portion of the holy Sabbath not
employed in public worship, it naturally divides itself into two parts:
I. _The duty we owe to the souls of others._ We are bound to follow the
example of Christ, so far as it is applicable to the station we hold in
his kingdom. If we examine his life, we shall find that the love of
souls was everywhere predominant. It was for this that he condescended
to be made flesh, and dwell among us. It was for this that he labored
and toiled. For this he suffered, bled, and died. If we can, in any
manner, be instrumental in saving souls, the love of Christ must
constrain us to _do what we can_. If we have not his Spirit, we are none
of his. No one, with the love of Jesus burning in his breast, can look
upon dying sinners around him, without feeling anxious to do something
for their salvation. The Sabbath school opens a wide field of
usefulness. Here every Christian, male and female, may become the pastor
of a little flock. Such, truly, is the relation between a Sabbath school
teacher and his class. He is appointed to watch for their souls. This is
no ordinary office. It is one of high responsibility. The Sabbath school
teacher becomes an ambassador of Christ to the little flock entrusted to
his care. Every one of their souls is worth more than the world.

I shall offer no argument to persuade you to engage in this work,
because I know your heart is in it, and I cannot see how any Christian
can need urging to such a delightful employment. I only wish to stir up
your zeal in the cause, and give a few plain and practical directions
respecting this highly important duty. In doing this, it is necessary to
consider the end and object of Sabbath school instruction. This is
nothing less than the conversion of the children, and their subsequent
preparation for usefulness in the church of Christ. To this end, three
things are indispensably requisite: 1. That the children should have a
clear and distinct knowledge of those great though simple truths of
God's word, which teach them their lost and ruined condition by nature,
and the way of salvation revealed in the gospel. Without this, they
cannot become the subjects of renewing grace; for this work is carried
on in the heart, through the instrumentality of God's word. These truths
must, therefore, be so illustrated, simplified, and brought down to
their capacities, that they will see their application to themselves,
and learn from them their own immediate duty.

2. That this great end may be accomplished, it is necessary that the
Holy Spirit should apply the truth to their consciences, and incline
them to embrace it. For even young sinners are so depraved that they
will not listen to the most tender and melting invitations of God's
word, nor accept the offers of mercy and salvation in the gospel, until
their dispositions are changed by the power of the Holy Ghost.

3. To prepare them to become laborers in the vineyard of the Lord, it is
not only necessary that they should be converted, but that they should
_grow_ in _grace_, and in the _knowledge_ of our Lord Jesus Christ. I
have already shown what an intimate connection there is between high
spiritual attainments and eminent usefulness, and between a knowledge of
truth and the work of sanctification in the heart. But energy of mind,
and habits of deep thought and close study, are of great importance, as
talents to be employed in the service of God. These must also be
cultivated in the Sabbath school.

Let it, then, become a subject of anxious inquiry how you may be
instrumental in promoting these several objects, so necessary to the
great end you have in view. In this matter, the following directions may
be of service to you:--

1. _Labor to obtain a clear, full, and discriminating view of gospel
truth yourself._ This is indispensable, if you would impress the same
upon the minds of others. If your general views of truth are obscure,
indefinite, and unsatisfactory to yourself, your instructions will be of
the same character.

2. _Study to become skilful in the sacred art of so communicating divine
truth to children, that they will understand it._ Little as this may be
esteemed, it is one of the most valuable talents you can possess. I know
of no other which females can so profitably employ in the service of
Christ. On this subject, I will offer the following suggestions:--

(1.) _Study the juvenile mind._ Observe the principles by which it is
developed and called forth into action. See how you can apply these
principles to effect the object in view. Be familiar with children.
Become acquainted with their language and modes of thinking; and strive
to adapt yourself to their capacities.

(2.) _Use such helps as you can obtain._ There are many works published
on the subject of education, which develop important principles, of
great use in communicating knowledge to the young. Some of these are
especially designed for Sabbath school teachers. Study them with
diligence; treasure up all useful hints, and apply them in practice.

(3.) _Aim at drawing out the minds of the children, and teaching them to
study and think, with clearness and precision, for themselves._ There is
a great difference between _conversing with_ children and _talking to_
them. By the former, you call their minds into exercise, and get hold of
their feelings. Thus you will secure their attention. But the latter
will be much less likely to interest them; for, being the recipients of
thought, instead of thinking for themselves, they participate less in
the exercise. By engaging them in conversation, and leading that
conversation in the investigation of truth, you teach them to _think_.
The mental discipline which this calls forth, is a matter of no small
consequence. It may have an important bearing upon their whole future
characters.

If we simply explain to a child the meaning of a passage of Scripture,
the whole benefit lies in the instruction he receives at the time. But,
if we show him practically how to ascertain the meaning himself, and
bring him under the mental discipline which it requires, we give him a
kind of key to unlock the meaning of other passages. By an ingenious
mode of catechizing, children's minds may be led to perceive and
understand almost any truth, much more distinctly and clearly than by
any direct explanation which, a teacher can make. By _catechizing_, I do
not mean the repeating of _catechisms_; but the calling out of their
minds upon any Scripture truth that may be before them, by a series of
simple questions, leading them to see the truth as though they had
discovered it themselves.

This is a subject well worthy of your prayerful attention. Remember that
you are dependent upon the Holy Spirit for the proper direction of the
powers of your mind. Pray, then, for clearness of perception, and
discrimination of judgment, that you may understand the truth; and for
skill to communicate it to your class. Study every Sabbath school lesson
in your closet, with these ends in view. Persevere in your efforts till
you become mistress of the art of teaching.

3. _Let your own heart be affected with the truth you are endeavoring to
teach._ Upon this, so far as your instrumentality is concerned, greatly
depends your success. Unless you _feel_ the force of the truth yourself,
it will be very difficult for you to convince the children that you are
in earnest. While preparing the lesson, in your closet, try to obtain a
realizing sense of the personal interest which you and your class have
in the subject you are contemplating. See what bearing it has upon your
and their eternal destiny; and pray for the Holy Spirit to impress it
powerfully upon your heart. Always, if possible, spend a little season
in your closet, as an immediate preparation for the duties of the
Sabbath school. Get your heart refreshed, in view of the practical truth
contained in the lesson; and go before your class deeply impressed with
its solemn import.

4. _Make a personal application of the practical truths contained in the
lesson_; and embrace frequent opportunities of conversing separately and
privately with every one of your scholars, in regard to their religious
feelings. If they give no evidence of piety, explain to them the duty of
immediate repentance and submission to God, and urge them to perform it
without delay. Do this, under the solemn impression that it _may_ be
your last opportunity, and that you will soon meet them at the
judgment-seat of Christ.

If you have reason to believe their hearts have been renewed, show them
the importance of high spiritual attainments. Urge upon them the duties
of watchfulness, self-examination, studying the Scriptures, and prayer.
Show them also the necessity of carrying out their religion into every
action of their lives. Show them that the design of religion is to make
them better; to give them better dispositions; to keep them humble; and
make them more amiable, obedient, and dutiful in everything. Teach them
also the great importance of improving their minds, while young, to fit
them for the service of Christ. You may have before you some future
Harriet Newell, or Mrs. Judson, who may willingly surrender all the
comforts of this life to carry the glad tidings of salvation to the
benighted heathen.

5. _Be earnest and importunate for the Holy Spirit to bless your
labors._ Without this, all your efforts will be in vain. Feel
continually that you are but an instrument in the hand of God; and that
all your success must depend upon him. Yet he _has promised_ to give
his Holy Spirit to them that ask him. Let no day pass without presenting
before the throne of grace every individual of your class: endeavor to
remember as particularly as possible the peculiar circumstances and
feelings of each. Visit them as often as you can; and, if possible,
persuade them to meet with you once a week for prayer. But make no
effort in your own strength. Search well your motives, and see that
self-seeking has no place in your heart. If you seek the conversion of
your class, that you may be honored as the instrument, you will be
disappointed. _God must be glorified in all things._

II. There are also duties that we owe to God, _in private_, which ought
to occupy a portion of the holy Sabbath. In the present age, when so
much of the Lord's day is spent in attendance upon public worship and
the Sabbath school, there is danger that secret communion with God will
be neglected; and thus, like the tree with a worm at its root, the soul
will wither under the genial rain and sunshine of the gospel. With a few
practical directions on this point, I shall close this letter.

1. _Spend as large a portion as possible of the intervals of public
duties in your closet._ The time thus spent should be employed
principally in the devotional reading of the Holy Scriptures;
meditation, for the purpose of getting your own heart affected with
divine truth; self-examination, and prayer. If you have very much time
to spend in this way, you may employ a part of it in reading some
devotional book; but I think our reading on the Sabbath should be
principally confined to the Scriptures. But _prayer_ should be frequent,
and mingled with everything.

2. _Spend no part of the Lord's day in seeking your own ease or
pleasure._ We are required to turn away our feet from finding our own
pleasure on God's holy day. All our time is the Lord's; but the Sabbath
is his in a peculiar manner. On other days of the week he allows us to
do _our own_ work. But on this day we must do _his work only_. There is
no room, then, for the indulgence of idleness, indolence, or sloth, upon
the Sabbath. The duties of this holy day are such as to require the
active and vigorous exercise of all our faculties. That you may not,
then, be tempted to indulge in sloth, use every means in your power to
promote a lively state of your bodily energies. Make all your
preparations on the afternoon of Saturday. Spend a portion of the
evening in devotional exercises, for the purpose of banishing the world
from your mind, and bringing it into a heavenly frame; and retire to
rest at an early hour. By this means, your animal powers will be
refreshed, and you will be prepared early to meet the Lord, on the
approach of his holy morning.

3. _Watch over your thoughts._ The Sabbath is a season when Satan is
exceedingly busy in diverting our thoughts from holy things. Evil
thoughts also proceed from our own depraved hearts. But the Lord's day
is as really profaned by vain and worldly thoughts, as by the labor of
our bodies. O, if we could realize this, how much food should we find
for bitter repentance in the thoughts of a single Sabbath! Strive, then,
to "bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." "I
hate vain thoughts," says the Psalmist; "but thy law do I love."

4. _Set a guard over your lips._ Conversing about the affairs of the
world, is a direct breach of the holy Sabbath. But we are not only
required to refrain from worldly and vain conversation, but from
speaking _our own words_. All unprofitable conversation, even though it
be about the externals of religion, should be avoided. It has a tendency
to dissipate the mind, and to remove any serious impressions which the
truth may have made. Our thoughts should be fixed on divine things, and
our conversation should be heavenly. We are not only required to refrain
from finding our own pleasure, speaking our own words, and doing our own
ways; but we are to "call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord,
honorable." And so will every one regard God's holy day, who lives in
the lively exercise of spiritual affections.

                                  Your affectionate Brother.




LETTER IX.

_Meditation._

    "Meditate upon these things."--1 TIM. 4:15.


MY DEAR SISTER:

The subject of this letter is intimately connected with that of the
last; and in proportion to your faithfulness in the duty now under
consideration, will be your interest in the word and worship of God.
Religious meditation is a serious, devout and practical thinking of
divine things; a duty enjoined in Scripture, both by precept and
example; and concerning which, let us observe,

1. _Its importance._ That God has required it, ought to be a sufficient
motive to its performance. But its inseparable connection with our
growth in grace magnifies its importance. It is by "beholding the glory
of the Lord," that we are "changed into the same image." And how can we
behold his glory, but by the spiritual contemplation of his infinite
perfections? Again: the word of God is "a lamp to our feet;" but if we
do not open our eyes to its truths, how can they guide our steps? It is
only by the practical contemplation of these truths, that our souls can
come into communion with them, drink in their spirit, and be guided by
their precepts. Hence, the intimate connection of this devout exercise
with growth in grace.

2. _The time and manner of Meditation._ It should be constant. Our minds
and hearts should be so habitually fixed on heavenly things, that, after
having been necessarily employed about our worldly affairs, our thoughts
will voluntarily revert back to spiritual things, as to their proper
element. Their tendency should be upward. Speaking of the godly man,
David says, "in his law doth he meditate, _day and night_." "O how love
I thy law," says the Psalmist; "it is my meditation _all the day_." You
may, perhaps, find it profitable to select a subject every morning for
meditation during the day; and whenever your thoughts are not
necessarily occupied with your ordinary employments, turn them to that
subject. Labor after clear and practical views of the truth; and see
that your _heart_ is affected by it. One of the most difficult points of
Christian experience is, to keep the mind habitually upon heavenly
things, while engaged in worldly employments, or surrounded by objects
which affect the senses. Satan will be continually seeking to divert
your mind; but do not be discouraged by his assaults. The Bible saints
were _fervent_ in spirit, even while engaged in business; and we have
accounts of pious persons in every age, who have been like them. A
heavenly mind is worth the labor of years. Do not rest till you obtain
it. Meditation should also be mixed with the reading of God's word. It
requires the closest meditation to understand the Holy Scriptures, and
apply them to our hearts.

But, it is also necessary to set apart particular seasons of retirement
for fixed and holy meditation. This position is warranted by Scripture.
Holy men of old embraced the most favorable opportunities for this
devout exercise. Isaac went out into the field to meditate in the
stillness and solemnity of the evening. David sometimes chose the
calmness of the morning. At other times, he fixed his thoughts in holy
meditation, during the wakeful hours of the night. "I remember thee
_upon my bed_, and meditate on thee in the night-watches." "Mine eyes
prevent the _night-watches_, that I might meditate in thy word." But,
lest the adversary should get the advantage of you, fix upon _regular
seasons_ for this sacred employment. Select some subject, and think upon
it deeply, systematically, practically, and devoutly. System is a great
assistance in everything. We can never obtain clear views of any complex
object, without separately viewing the various parts of which it is
composed. We cannot see the beautiful mechanism of a watch, nor
understand the principles which keep it in motion, without taking it in
pieces, and viewing the parts separately. So, in contemplating any great
truth, which contains many different propositions; if we look at them
all at once, our ideas will be confused and imperfect; but if we
separate them, and examine one at a time, our views will be clear and
distinct. Our meditation must be _practical_, because every divine truth
is calculated to make an impression upon the heart; and if it fails of
doing this, our labor is lost. Make, then, a direct personal application
of the truth, on which your thoughts are fixed. But, our meditations
must also be _devotions_. They must all be mixed with prayer. As an
example of what I mean, examine the 119th Psalm. There the Psalmist, in
the midst of his meditations, was continually lifting up his soul in
prayer. His devout aspirations are breathed forth continually. Your
success in this exercise, and the profit you derive from it, will very
much depend on the manner you observe this direction.

3. _The subjects of Meditation._ The word of God furnishes abundant
matter for meditation. This was the constant delight of the Psalmist.
The 119th Psalm consists almost entirely of meditations upon the word of
God. But, in our regular seasons of fixed and solemn meditation, you
will find assistance and profit from fixing your mind on some particular
portion of divine truth; and carrying it out in its various relations
and applications. That these subjects may be always at hand, without
loss of time in selecting and arranging them, I here suggest a
considerable variety of topics, with references to passages of Scripture
calculated to illustrate or enforce the subjects. It is not designed
that you should confine yourself strictly to these, but to use them as
an aid to your own efforts. They are intended as mere suggestions, and
are therefore both imperfectly stated and partially carried out; One
great difficulty, in this exercise, is, always to be able to fix the
mind on some portion of truth, in such a manner as to secure variety,
and to contemplate truth in its proper proportions. And probably this
kind of meditation is often neglected, for want of time to select a
subject, and fix the attention upon it. If Christians were always in a
lively frame, perhaps this would not be necessary. The mind would
spontaneously revert to spiritual things. But, humiliating as is the
fact, it is nevertheless true, that our minds are often dull upon those
subjects which ought always to operate as the touchstone of spiritual
feeling. Yet, as right feelings can be produced only in view of truth,
the way to overcome this dulness is to direct the attention to objects
calculated to call forth these emotions.

I have arranged these subjects in such a manner, that, if taken in
course, they will lead to the contemplation of divine truth, with some
reference to its proper proportions, although they do not completely
cover the ground. Any particular topic, however, can be selected,
according to the circumstances or inclination of the individual. Many of
the subjects are divided under various heads; and, in some cases, one or
two heads may perhaps be found sufficient for one season of meditation.


I. CHARACTER AND ATTRIBUTES OF GOD.

1. _Self-existence_--_being underived_. How this can be proved from
reason. How this truth is recognized in Scripture. Ex. 3:14. Rev. 1:8.
Jer. 10:10. Dan. 6:26. All other existence derived from him. Ps. 33:6.
John 1:3. Col. 1:16, 17. Heb. 11:13.

_Practical Reflections._ (1.) Ps. 53:1, f.c., (2.) Isa. 29:16, l.c.
45:9, 10. Rom. 9:20, 21. (3.) Ps. c. 3, 4. Isa. 43:7. Dan. 5:23, l.c.

2. _Eternity and Immutability of God._ How one of these involves the
other. How these attributes can be discovered by reason. How by
Scripture. Gen. 1:1. Deut. 32:40. Ps. 90:2. 102:24-27. Mal. 3:6. Heb.
13:8. Jas. 1:17. Rev. 1:4. 22:13.

Consider these attributes separately:--(1.) Eternity--being without
beginning or end--ever being. (2.) Immutability--subject to no change in
his manner of being, his perfections, his thoughts, desires, purposes,
or determinations.

_Practical Reflections._ (1.) How God appears to us in view of these
attributes. (2.) How necessary they are to the character of the Supreme
Ruler. (3.) How these attributes make God appear to the sinner. (4.) How
to holy beings. (5.) What encouragements to prayer. Suppose God were
changeable in his character, feelings, and purposes, what confidence
could be reposed in his promises? (6.) What feelings these attributes
should inspire.

3. _Omnipresence and Omniscience of God._ (1.) Contemplate knowledge
without limit, and presence without bounds. (2.) How these attributes
are manifest from the works of creation. (3.) How declared in the Word
of God. Ps. 139:1-12. Jer. 23:24. Ps. 147:5. Isa. 40:28.

_Solemn Thoughts._ (1.) In what light God is manifested by these
attributes. (2.) How necessary these attributes to the Supreme Governor
and righteous Judge of all. (3.) No individual so small or unimportant
as to escape the attention of such a being. Matt. 10:29, 30.

_Practical Reflections._ (1.) Danger of forgetting or losing a sense of
the presence of God. Ps. 9:17. 50:22. (2.) What feelings should be
inspired in view of these attributes. Ps. 4:4. Heb. 4:13. (3.) How
sinners should feel in view of them. Job 34:21, 22. Prov. 5:21. 15:3.
Jer. 16:17. Amos 9:2, 3. (4.) What emotions these attributes should
excite in the hearts of God's children. 2 Chron. 16:9, f.c. (5.) How
these attributes will appear in the day of judgment.

4. _Omnipotence and Independence of God._ (1.) How the omnipotence of
God is manifested by the works of creation. Job, chapters 38-11. Reflect
on the works of creation as a whole, and minutely and particularly, and
also _how_ they were made. Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26. (2.) How
the independence of God is manifested by his works. Creative power must
be underived. (3.) How the omnipotence of God is displayed, in his
upholding and governing all things. (4.) How this attribute is declared
in Scripture. Gen. 17:1. 18:14. Matt. 19:26. (5.) How omnipotence proves
independence.

_Practical Reflections._ (1.) How God is hereby qualified to be the
Supreme Ruler. (2.) The condition of sinners, while they remain at
enmity with such a being. Deut. 32:41. (3.) How Christians should feel,
in view of this. Ex. 32:32. Rom. 9:2, 3. (4.) What they ought to do.
Acts 20:31. Jas. 5:20. Jude 23. (5.) Feelings of those who can view such
a being as their Friend and Father. Rom. 8:28, 38, 39. 1 Cor. 3:22, 23.
(6.) Appropriate emotions on contemplating the omnipotence of God. Job
11:7, 8. 26:14. Ps. 145.

5. _Benevolence of God._ God is essentially benevolent. 1 John 4:8. (1.)
How the benevolence of God is exhibited to us by the light of reason.
(2.) How by his works of creation and providence. (3.) By Revelation.
_First_, by direct assertion. Exod. 34:6. Ps. 145:9. Nah. 1:7. Matt.
5:45. _Second_, by the character of his law. Ps. 19:7, 8. Matt.
22:37-39. Rom. 7:12. _Third_, by the work of redemption. John 3:16, 17.

_Inferential Thoughts._ (1.) The benevolence of God without bounds. (2.)
Always active (3.) It constitutes his whole moral character. (4.) A
being of infinite benevolence must prefer the greater good to the less,
and the supreme good above all. (5.) Such a being must love the same
disposition in his creatures, and hate the opposite.

_Practical Reflections._ (1.) How odious selfishness must be in the
sight of God. (2.) Sinners directly opposed in their characters and
feelings to God. Exod. 20:5, l.c. Rom. 8:7. (3.) The exceeding great
evil of sin, as committed against infinite benevolence. (4.) The
ingratitude and baseness of sinners. (5.) What the goodness of God
should lead them to. Isa. 30:18. Rom. 2:4. (6.) What emotions the
contemplation of the goodness of God should excite in the hearts of his
children. Ps. 118. Isa. 63:7. Eph. 5:20. (7.) How we may apprehend the
goodness of the Lord. Ps, 107:43.

6. _The Justice of God._ (1.) What justice is: _First_, as exercised by
intelligent beings, whose relations will admit of mutual giving and
receiving; _Second_, as exercised by a ruler towards his subjects;
_Third_, as relates to all actions, with reference to the general good.
(2.) Which of these relations God sustains to the universe. (3.) The
disposition which would lead him to act justly in all these cases. (4.)
How God is just as respects himself (5.) As respects his creatures. (6.)
How the justice of God may be seen from the light of reason, and from
the system of his providence. (7.) How from the Sacred History. (8.) The
positive declarations of Scripture. Deut. 32:4. Isa. 45:21. Zeph. 3:5.
_Rev._ 15:3. (9.) From the revelation of a future day of righteous
retribution. Eccl. 12:14. Acts 17:31. 2 Cor. 5:10.

_Practical Reflections._ (1.) How, by this attribute, God is qualified
to be the Supreme Governor. (2.) How terrible this renders him to the
wicked. Exod. 34:7, l.c. Heb. 10:20-29. 12:29. (3.) How suffering the
guilty to go unpunished, without satisfaction and reformation, would be
doing injustice to the universe. (4.) Why we ought to look with
complacency and delight upon this attribute.

7. _The Truth of God._ (1.) His _veracity_; or a disposition always to
speak according to the real state of things. (2.) _Faithfulness_; or a
disposition to conform his actions to previous declarations of his Word.

(1.) How the truth of God may be proved by reason. _First_, from his
Benevolence. _Second_, from his Independence and Immutability. _Third_,
from the excellence of truth and the turpitude of falsehood. _Fourth_,
from the estimation in which truth is held by the intelligent creatures
he has made.

(2.) How proved from the Scriptures. _First_, by direct declarations.
Exod. 34:6, l.c. Ps. 117:2. 146:6, l.c. _Second_, by the accordance of
the histories recorded in Scripture with the facts substantiated by
other evidence. _Third_, by the predictions of events which have since
been fulfilled. _Fourth_, from the doctrines contained in his Word.
_Fifth_, by the agreement of Scripture with itself. _Sixth_, by the
fulfilment of promises, threatenings, covenants, &c., recorded in his
Word. _Seventh_, other proofs, as they may be suggested to the mind.

_Practical Reflections._ (1.) How God is qualified by this attribute to
be the moral governor of intelligent creatures. (2.) How necessary is
faith to acceptance with God. Heb. 11:6. (3.) How odious to a God of
infinite veracity must be the sin of _unbelief_. 1 John 5:10. (4.) How
terrible to the wicked this renders the threatenings of God's word. (5.)
How valuable his promises to the righteous. (6.) At what an infinite
expense God has sustained his truth, while pardoning rebels doomed to
die. Ps. 85:10. Rom. 3:26.

8. _The Mercy of God._ (1.) What mercy is. (2.) Contemplate mercy as a
disposition inherent in the Divine character. (3.) The only way in which
mercy can be exercised by Him, towards those who have merited anger and
punishment, consistent with the moral rectitude of his character, and
the great ends of his government. Ps. 85:10. Isa. 53:5, 6, 10. Acts
4:12. 5:31. Rom. 3:25, 26. (4.) How this attribute is manifested in his
providence. Matt. 5:45. (5.) How in his Word. Neh. 9:17. Ps. 3:8. Matt.
5:7. Rom. 5:6. (These two may embrace several subdivisions.) (6.)
Consider whether by the light of nature we could discover any possible
way for God to exercise mercy towards the guilty.

_Practical Reflections._ (1.) The loveliness and glory of this
attribute. (2.) How we should feel in view of it. Ps. 118. (3.) The
great guilt and danger of indulging an unmerciful or cruel disposition.
Prov. 11:17, l.c. 21:13. Mark 11:26. Jas. 2:13. (4.) The advantage of
being merciful. Ps. 18:25. Prov. 11:17, f.c. Matt. 5:7. Mark 11:25.

9. _The Wisdom of God._ (1.) What wisdom is. How it differs from
knowledge. How from cunning or subtilty. Whether that is wisdom which
does not design to accomplish a _good_ end. Whether this is a _natural_
or _moral_ attribute, or both. (2.) How the wisdom of God is manifested
in the works of creation. Ps. 104. Prov. 3:19. Examine particular
objects and see how exactly everything is fitted for the end for which
it is designed, and that a good end; such as the seasons; day and night;
provision made for the wants and for the comfort and pleasure of men and
animals; the body and mind of man; the laws which govern the material
world, carried put in a great variety of ways; in the infinite variety,
and yet extensive and convenient classification, of objects; human
languages; moral agency of intelligent beings, &c. (3.) The wisdom of
God, as exhibited in his Word; _First_, its perfect adaptation to the
wants of the world; its variety of authorship, style, matter, manner,
&c.; _Second_, the truths revealed; particularly the plan of redemption.
Rom. 11:33.

_Practical Reflections._ (1.) Ps. 48:14. (2.) The folly of setting up
our own reason in opposition to the word of God. Isa. 40:13, 14. Rom.
11:34, 35. (3.) The folly of self-conceit. Prov. 26:12. (4.) From whom
all wisdom comes. Prov. 2:6. (5.) What is the only true wisdom. Job
28:28.


II. DOCTRINES.

1. _The Decrees of God._ Doctrine: That God foreordains whatsoever comes
to pass.

Proved, (1.) By reason. Otherwise, he would work without a plan, and
could not certainly know what would take place hereafter; which is
inconsistent with the idea of infinite wisdom. Acts 15:18. (2.) From
Scripture. Job 23:13. Isa. 46:10. Jer. 10:23.

This doctrine does not destroy the freedom and accountability of the
creature. Acts 2:23. This is not to be understood in any such sense as
to make God the author of sin. Jas. 1:13. If the will of God is done,
the greatest possible good will be accomplished. Ps. 119:68, f.c. How we
ought to feel, in view of this doctrine. Phil. 4:4. Duty of submission.
Luke 22:42. Jas. 4:7.

2. _The Sovereignty of God._ Doctrine: That God rules the universe,
according to his own pleasure, independently and without control, giving
no further account of his conduct than he pleases.

Proved, (1.) By reason: _First_, his will the greatest good; _Second_,
he has power to accomplish it; _Third_, if he fails to accomplish his
will, he will be under constraint, which is inconsistent with the idea
of an infinite being. Were he to fail of accomplishing his own will, he
would not be qualified for a righteous governor. (2.) From Scripture.
Ps. 115:3. Dan. 4:35. Eccl. 8:3, l.c. Job 33:13.

_Reflections._ (1.) God does not act _arbitrarily_, without sufficient
cause, or merely for the sake of doing his own will. His actions are
controlled by a supreme desire for the greatest good, and always founded
on the best of reasons. (2.) The consummate folly of those who resist
his will. (3.) The feelings with which we ought to regard the
sovereignty of God. 1 Chron. 16:23-31. Ps. 97:1. (4.) How terrible this
doctrine to sinners. Ps. 99:1. Isa. 33:11. (5.) What ground of
confidence, comfort, and joy to the righteous. Ps. 15:6. Hosea 14:9.
Rom. 8:28.

3. _Human Depravity._ (1.) How extensive. Rom. 3:23. Corroborated by
facts. (2.) How great in degree. Gen. 6:5. Rom. 3:10-18. (3.) From whom
derived. Rom. 5:12-19. (4.) How hereditary depravity becomes personal.
Ps. 58:3. (5.) How human depravity manifests itself. Rom. 8:7. John
3:19, 20. 5:40. Acts 7:51. Gal. 5:19-21.

_Practical Reflections._ (1.) How we ought to feel, in view of our own
depravity. Ezra 9:6. Job 42:6. Ps. 38:1-7. 51:4, 17. Dan. 9:8. (2.) The
necessity of regeneration. Heb. 12:14, l.c. (3.) How this load of guilt
may be removed. Matt. 11:28-30. 1 John 2:1, 2. (4.) What it will bring
us to, if we do not obtain deliverance from it. Rom 6:23, f.c.

4. _Regeneration._ (1.) Its nature. 2 Cor. 5:17. Eph. 4:24. (2.) Its
author. John 3:5, 6. (3.) Influence of the Spirit; how exerted; not
miraculous John 3:8. (4.) Man's agency in the work of regeneration. Isa.
55:6, 7. Acts 2:38. 16:31. Phil 2:12, 13.

5. _The condition of fallen man._ (1.) Alienation from God. Job 21:14,
15. Rom. 1:28. Eph. 2:1, 2. (2.) Exposure to his wrath. Deut. 32:35, 41.
Ps. 7:11, 12. John 3:18, 36. Eph. 2:3. (3.) Personal misery. Isa. 57:20,
21. Misery the natural consequence of sin. Jer. 2:19.

_Practical Reflections._ (1.) How Christians should feel, in view of
this subject. Isa. 51:1. 1 Cor. 15:10. (2.) How they should feel, in
view of the condition of the impenitent. Rom. 9:1-3. (3.) How act. Acts
20:31, l.c. Rev. 22:17. (4.) The necessity of a mediator between God and
man. Gal. 3:10.

6. _The plan of Redemption._ (1.) Why sin could not be pardoned without
an atonement. Gen. 2:17. Dent. 27:26, compared with Deut. 32:4, l.c.
Heb. 9:22. (2.) What a mediator is. Job 9:33. 2 Cor. 5:18, 19. (3.) Why
it was necessary that our mediator should be God. (4.) Why, that he
should be also man. (5.) Why it was necessary that he should obey the
law. Isa. 42:21. Gal. 4:4, 5. (6.) Why, that he should suffer. Gal.
3:13. 4:4, 5. Heb. 9:22, 28. (7.) Why, that he should rise from the
dead. Rom. 4:25. 1 Cor. 15:17. 1 Pet. 1:21. Heb. 7:25.

_Practical Reflections._ [1.] How the love of God is manifested in the
provision of such salvation. John 3:16. Rom. 5:8. [2.] How we should
feel and act in view of the amazing love of Christ. 2 Cor. 5:14, 15.
[3.] What effect his love should have upon sinners. Zech. 12:10. Rom.
2:4. [4.] How Christians should feel, in view of the ingratitude of the
impenitent. Ps. 119:136, 158.

7. _Justification_ [1.] What justification is. [2.] Why we cannot be
justified by the law. Rom. 3:23. [3.] The nature of all our good works,
religious exercises, duties, &c. Luke 17:10. [4.] The ground of
justification. Isa. 53:11. Acts 13:39 Rom. 8:3, 4. [5.] The instrument
or medium of justification. Rom. 3:28. [6.] The effects of
justification. Rom. 5:1-5. 8:1-4. 15:13. 1 Pet. 1:8.

8. _Adoption._ [1.] What adoption is. Exod. 2:9, 10. [2.] Through whom
believers are adopted. Gal. 4:4, 5. [3.] How their adoption is
manifested to them. Rom. 8:15, 16. Gal. 4:6. [4.] To what adoption
entitles them. Rom. 8:17. Gal. 4:7. [5.] What was the moving cause of
adoption. 1 John 3:1. [6.] What emotions this should excite in the
hearts of Christians.

9. _Sanctification._ [1.] What sanctification is. Rom. 6:6, 11--13.
8:13. [2.] By whom believers are sanctified. Rom. 8:13, l.c. 15:16, l.c.
1 Pet. 1:22. (3.) The instrument of sanctification. John 17:19. (1.) The
procuring cause. 1 Cor. 1:2. 6:11. Heb. 10:10. (5.) The importance of
sanctification, or growth in grace. John 15:8. Col. 1:9-12. (6.) How we
are to strive for sanctification. Phil. 2:12, 13. 3:13, 14. (7.) How we
may secure the aid of the Holy Spirit. Luke 11:13. Rom. 8:26. (8.) How
Christ regards us, when we are not making progress in holiness. Rev.
3:15, 16.

10. _Death._ (1.) Its certainty. Heb. 9:27. (2.) The uncertainty of
life. Jas. 4:14. (3.) The shortness of life. Ps. 90:3-10. 1 Cor.
7:29-31. Bring death near, and commune with it; try to enter into the
feelings of the death-bed. (4.) How we should live in view of the
subject. Luke 12:33-40. (5.) The folly of laying up treasures for
ourselves in this life. Luke 12:16-21. (6.) How death will appear to
such. Isa. 33:14. (7.) How death appears to those who "set their
affections on things above." 2 Cor. 5:6, 8. Phil. 1:23. (8.) The support
which such have in the hour of death. Isa. 43:1, 2. 1 Cor. 15:54-57.

11. _Heaven._ (1.) Heaven a place. John 14:2, 3. Heb. 9:24. (2.) The
glory of heaven. Rev. 21:22, 23. (3.) What constitutes the blessedness
of heaven to the righteous. [1.] Freedom from sin, and sinful
associations. 2 Cor. 5:2-4. Rev. 21:27. [2.] Freedom from pain, and all
evil. Rev. 21:4. [3.] Exercise of holy affections. 1 John 4:16. [4.] The
company of holy beings. Heb. 12:22-24. [5.] The immediate presence of
God, and such communion and fellowship with him as will make us like
him. Ps. 17:15. Isa. 33:17, f.c. 1 John 3:2. [6.] The presence of Jesus,
as our Redeemer, to whom we are indebted for all this glory. John 17:24.
1 Thess. 4:17. Rev. 5:9. (4.) The employments of heaven. [1.] The
contemplation of the infinite perfections of God, and the glories of his
moral government. Rev. 19:1, 2. [2.] Rendering cheerful obedience to his
will. Ps. 103:20, 21. Matt. 6:10. 22:30. [3.] Singing his praises. Rev.
5:9. [4.] And we may suppose holy conversation. (5.) Contemplate this
state as existing forever, with the continual increase of the capacity
for enjoyment, and the discoveries of the divine character, his
government and works.

12. _The Resurrection._ (1.) What signal will usher in the glorious
morn. 1 Cor. 15:52. 1 Thess. 4:16. (2.) What will follow. 1 Thess. 4:16,
l.c. (3.) What will come to pass in regard to the saints which shall
then be alive on the earth. 1 Cor. 15:51. 1 Thess. 4:17. (4.) With what
bodies the saints will arise. 1 Cor. 15:42-44, 50, 53, 54. (5.) To whom
the saints will ascribe their victory and triumph, in that day. 1 Cor.
15:57. (6.) How the wicked will rise. Dan. 12:2.

13. _The Judgment._ (1.) This awful ceremony is to take place at a
certain time, fixed in the councils of eternity. Acts 17:31. (2.) It
will come suddenly and unexpectedly. Matt. 24:36-39. (3.) Who will be
the judge. Matt. 25:31. Rev. 20:11. (4.) Who will stand before him to be
judged. Rom. 14:10. Rev. 20:12. (5.) In respect to what they will be
judged. Eccl. 12:14. Matt. 12:36. Rom. 2:16. 2 Cor. 5:10. (6.) By what
rule they will be judged. John 7:21. Rom. 2:2. (7.) How any will be able
to stand this awful test. 1 John 2:1, 2. (8.) What separation will be
made. Matt. 25:32. Consider this in its application to friends, and
those who have in any way come under our influence. (9.) The final award
of the righteous. Matt. 25:33-36. (10.) What state of feeling is
indicated by their answer. Matt. 25:37-39. (11.) The final sentence of
the wicked. Matt. 25:41-43. (12.) What state of feeling is indicated by
their answer. Matt. 25:44.

14. _The World of Woe._ Contemplated for the purpose of arousing the
attention to the condition of the impenitent. (1.) The place itself--the
prison-house of the universe. Matt. 25:46. (2.) In what manner it is
described. Isa. 33:14. Matt. 13:42, f.c. Rev. 20:14. (3.) What will
constitute the misery of that dread abode. [1.] The consciousness of
guilt. Rom. 3:19. [2.] The recollection of mercies abused. Rom. 9:22.
[3.] The company that will be there. Matt. 25:41. Rev. 21:8. [4.] The
wrath and curse of Almighty God. Rom. 2:8, 9. [5.] The reflection that
this misery is to have no end. Mark 9:14. (4.) What will be the
employments of that place. Matt. 13:42. 24:51. How we ought to feel, in
regard to those who are exposed to this awful doom. Matt. 22:39. (6.)
What we should do for them. Jude 23, f.c.


III. CHARACTER OF CHRIST.

1. It is unlike that of any other being in the universe

2. A mysterious complexity in his character, which we call a union of
two natures--a combination of attributes, all of which can neither be
ascribed to men, nor to angels, nor to God. Gen. 19:10. Num. 24:17. Job
19:23-27. Ps. 2:7, 12, c. 1. Isa. 6:1-3. 9:5, 6. 28:16. 15:10-12,
21--25. Ps. 22: 6. Isa. 49:7. 52:14. 53:2, 3.

3. Christ is a man. Phil. 2:8. John 1:14. Luke 21:39. Heb. 2:17. 5:8.

4. He is God. (1.) The Scriptures represent Christ as pre-existing, in a
glorious character, before he appeared in this world. John 1:1, 2. 3:13.
6:38. 17:5. Heb. 1:10. (2.) They represent that, in passing from that
state to this, he suffered a humiliating change. 2 Cor. 8:9. Phil. 2:6,
7. (3.) The Scriptures directly assert that he possessed a superhuman
nature. Heb. 1:4, 6. Col. 2:9. (4.) This superhuman nature is
_divine_--the names of God are ascribed to him--the attributes of God
are ascribed to him--he is represented as performing the works of God.
Com. Luke 1:16, 17, with Isa. 40:3, and Isa. 6:1-3, with John 12:41.
Rom. 9:5. John 20:28. 1 John 5:20. 1 Ti. 3:16. John 1:2. Rev. 22:13.
Isa. 44:6. Acts 1:24. John 2:24. Jer. 17:10. 1 Kings 8:39. Matt. 9:2.
18:20. 28:20. John 10:15. Isa. 44:24. Gen. 1:1. Heb. 1:10. Jer. 10:12.
Col. 1:16. John 1:3. Phil. 3:21. John 5:21. Rev. 1:5, 6. He performed
miracles _in his own name_. He was worshiped by inspired men who knew
his character; and the Scriptures encourage such worship. Acts 7:59. 2
Ti. 4:18. 2 Cor. 12:8. Acts 1:21. 1 Thess. 3:12. 2 Thess. 2:16. Phil.
2:10. Heb. 1:6. Rev. 5:8-14.

Contemplate the character of Christ in its moral and practical
relations; (1.) As illustrating or exhibiting the character of God; (2.)
As confirming and sustaining his moral government, while it admits the
exercise of mercy; (3.) As the medium through which all our duties are
to be performed; (4.) As the foundation of our hopes.


IV. NAMES AND OFFICES OF CHRIST.

1. _Saviour._ (1.) What salvation is. (2.) Why we need a Saviour. What
it is to be _lost_--carry out the figure in imagination. Matt. 18:11.
(3.) From what Christ saves us. Matt. 1:21. (4.) How he saves us from
sin. Acts 15:8, 9. (5.) His willingness to save. Matt. 11:28-30. John
6:37, l.c. (6.) His Ability to save. Heb. 7:25. (7.) The expense of this
salvation. Rom. 5:7, 8. (8.) The ingratitude of neglecting so great
salvation. Heb. 2:2, 3.

2. _Redeemer._ (1.) What it is to redeem--contemplate the figure, and
form a clear perception of the condition of captives taken in war, and
held in slavery. (2.) Our condition by nature. Rom. 6:13, f.c. 16, 20.
7:14, l.c. Gal. 3:10. (3.) How Christ has redeemed us. Gal. 3:13. (4.)
The price paid for our redemption. 1 Peter 1:18, 19. (5.) How we should
feel in view of this. Rev. 5:9, 10. (6.) What this should lead us to do.
1 Cor. 6:20.

3. _Prophet._ (1.) What a prophet is. (2.) How Christ teaches his
people. John 1:18, 5:39. 16:13, 14. (3.) What encouragement we have to
go to him for direction, in all cases of doubt and difficulty. 1 Cor.
1:30. James 1:5. (4.) With what feelings we must receive him as our
great Teacher. Matt. 18:3, 4.

4. _Priest._ (1.) What a priest is. Heb. 5:1, 2. (2.) Why we need a
priest. Deut. 27:26. Rom. 3:20. (3.) How he was qualified to become our
priest. Heb. 5:7-9. 7:26-28. 4:15. (4.) How he has made atonement and
reconciliation for us. Heb. 9:11-14, 28. (5.) How this is rendered
available to believers in all ages. Rom. 8:34. Heb. 9:24. 7:25. (6.)
What benefits believers may derive from his intercession. Rom. 5:2. Heb.
4:16. (7.) The sympathy of Christ with believers. Heb. 4:15.

5. _King._ (1.) What a King is. (2.) In what sense Christ is our king.
Eph. 1:21, 22. (3.) The nature of the control he exercises over us.
Matt. 11:30. Rom. 6:9-22. 11:17. 2 Cor. 10:5. (4.)The need we have of
such a king. Matt. 12:29. (5.)Our duty to him as subjects. 2 Cor. 10:5.

6. _Mediator._ (1.) What a mediator is: one that undertakes to make
reconciliation between two parties at variance. Job 9:33. We are at
variance with God. Ps. 7:11. Ro. 8:7. (2.) What qualifications are
required in a mediator. [1.] He must be the mutual friend of both
parties. Christ both God and man. John 1:1, 14. The mutual friend of
both. Luke 3:22. Heb. 2:16, 17. [2.] He must be able to render
satisfaction to the injured party. Christ has done this. Isa. 12:21.
Gal. 3:13. He must be able to bring back the offender to his duty. This
Christ is able to do. Rom. 6:1-14. (3.) How we may become reconciled to
God. 2 Cor. 5:18, 19.

7. _Advocate and Intercessor._ (1.) What an advocate is: one that
manages a cause for another at court, and undertakes to procure his
justification and discharge. If his client is prosecuted for debt, he
must show that the debt has been paid; if for crime, he must show some
reason why he should not be punished. Jesus Christ can show both, in
regard to us. 1 Peter 1:18, 19. 1 Cor. 6:20. Isa. 53:5. What an
intercessor is: one that undertakes to present the petitions of a
criminal at the bar of his offended sovereign. When a petition is
presented for pardon, the person presenting it must become responsible
for the future good conduct of the criminal. Christ has become our
surety. When he asks for undeserved favor to be bestowed upon the
criminal, it must be on the score of his own merits. Jesus can present
our petitions with assurance on this ground. How blessed are they who
have such an Advocate and Intercessor at the throne of heaven! Rom.
8:34. Heb. 7:25. How we may come to the throne of grace through his
intercession. Heb. 4:16. No worship acceptable, which is not offered
through the intercession of Christ. John 14:13. Acts 4:12. Eph. 5:20.

8. _Friend._ What is implied in a friend. [1.] He must be able and
willing to help us. Christ is both able and willing to help all who come
to him. Heb. 7:25. Matt. 11:28-30. John 6:37, l.c. [2.] Friendship must
be cordial. Such is the friendship of Jesus. John 15:15, 16. [3.] A
friend must possess a sympathizing heart. Such is the heart of Jesus.
Heb. 4:15.

9. _Elder Brother._ (1.) The relation of an Elder Brother to the younger
members of the family. (2.) How we come into this relation to Christ.
Gal. 4:4-6. (3.)The blessings that we receive, through this relation.
Gal. 1:7. Rom. 8:17. (4.) The goodness of the Son, who would of his own
accord, receive a stranger into his Father's family, to be adopted, as a
joint heir with him to his Father's estate.

10. _Husband._ (1.)Proof of this relation between Christ and the church.
Isa. 54:5. Eph. 5:25-32. Rev. 19:7, 8. 22:17. (2.) What is implied in
this relation. [1.] Union. John 15:5. Eph. 4:31. [2.] Protection. Matt.
16:18. Ca. 8:5, f.c. [3.] Provision. Phil. 4:19. Eph. 5:29. [4.]
Sympathy and Love. Heb. 4:15. 8:6, 7. [5.] Fellowship. Ca. 5:1.


V. THE CHRISTIAN GRACES.

1. _Faith._ (1.) What faith is. Heb. 11:1. (2.) It's object. Rom. 4:3, 5
Eph. 1:12, 13. Heb. 11:6. (3.) The effects of faith on the heart. Acts
15:9. Gal. 5:6, l.c. (4.) Its effects on the life. James 2:14-26. (5.)
Necessary to acceptable prayer. James 1:6.

2. _Hope._ (1.) The object of hope. 2 Cor. 4:17, 18. (2.) The ground of
hope. Col. 1:27. 1 Tim. 1:1. (3.) The author of hope. Rom. 5:5. 15:13.
(4.) The influence of hope upon the Christian character. 1 Thess. 5:8.
1 John 3:3. (5.) Effect of hope upon the comfort and religious enjoyment
of the believer. Heb. 3:6. 6:19.

3. _Charity, or Love._ (1.) Its nature. 1 Cor. 13:4-8. (2.) The object
of love. [1.] As a feeling of complacent delight, God the chief object,
and his children, as bearing his image. Matt. 22:37. 1 John 5:1. [2.] As
a feeling of universal benevolence, it has for its object all mankind.
Malt. 22: 39.

4. _Joy._ (1.) Nature of spiritual joy. Rom. 14: 17. (2.) The ground of
joy. Rom. 15:13. 1 Peter 1: 5--8. (3.) The object of joy. Psa. 16:11.
43:4. 97:1. 33:1. Isa. 29:19. 41:16. 61:10. Hab. 3:18. Phil. 4:4. (4.)
The permanency of spiritual joy. John 16:22.

5. _Peace._ (1.) Peace of conscience. Rom. 5:1. 8:1. 15:13. (2.) The
ground of it. Psa. 85:10. Col. 1:20, 21. (3.) A peaceable spirit. Matt.
5:9. Rom. 12:18. Heb. 12:14. James 3:17.

6. _Brotherly Kindness._ (1.) Its nature. Eph. 4:32. (2.) Its fruits.
Rom. 12:10, 15. 1 John 3: 16, 17.

7. _Humility._ (1.) Its nature. Matt. 5:3. Rom. 12:3. (2.) Its
manifestations. Job 42:5, 6. Prov. 30:32. Lam. 3:28. Matt. 25:36-38.
Acts 20:19. Rom. 12:10, l.c. 16. Phil. 2:3. I Pet. 5:5. (3.) How
regarded of the Lord. Psa. 138:6. Prov. 16:19. (4.) Its reward. Job
22:29. Ps. 9:12. Prov. 15:33. Isa. 57:15. Matt. 18:4. (5.) Effects of
humility. Gen. 18:27, l.c. 32:10. Job 42:1-6. Psa. 32:5. 51:5. Isa.
51:1. 64:6.

8. _Patience._ (1.) What is patience. Rom. 8: 25. James 5:7. 1 Peter
2:20. (2.) How patience is cultivated. Rom. 2:7. 5:3. James 1:3. (3.)
Apply this to the every-day concerns of life. (4.) The need we have of
patience. Job 14:1, 2. Eccles. 2:23. Heb. 10:36. 12:1. (5.) Motives to
patience. Luke 8:15. Rom. 5:4. Heb. 6:12.

9. _Long-Suffering._ [1.] What is long-suffering. Eph. 4:2. [2.]
Consider the long-suffering and forbearance of God towards us, as a
motive to its exercise. Lam. 3:22.

10. _A Forgiving Temper._ [1.] Motives to its exercise. Ps. 103:3. Eph.
4:32. Gal. 6:1. [2.] Danger of the contrary spirit. Mark 11:26.

11. _Meekness._ [1.] Its nature. 1 Cor. 13:5 Col. 3:12, 13. James 1:21.
[2.] How the Lord regards, and how he will bless the meek. Ps. 22:26.
25:9. 76:9. 147:6. 149:4. Isa. 29:19. Matt. 5:5. [3.] How it becomes the
Christian. 1 Pet. 3:4. [4.] Its manifestations. Gal. 6:1. Eph. 4:2. 2
Tim. 2:25. James 3:13. 1 Peter 3:15.

12. _Gentleness._ [1.] Twin sister of meekness. [2.] Its manifestations.
1 Thess. 2:7. 2 Tim. 2: 24. James 3:17. [3.] The pattern of gentleness.
2 Cor. 10:1. [4.] How it adorns the Christian character.

13. _Temperance._ [1.] What is temperance. Moderation in all our
desires, affections, appetites, and conduct; abstinence from injurious
indulgences. [2.] Advantages of temperance. 1 Cor. 9:25. 2 Pet. 1:6.

14. _Virtue, or Moral Courage._ How this grace affects the Christian
character. Prov. 28:1. [See History of Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah,
Daniel, Jesus, and the Apostles.]




LETTER X.

_The Preservation of Health._

    "I wish, above all things, that thou mayest prosper, and _be in
    health_."--3 John, 2.


MY DEAR SISTER,

If we feel suitably grateful to him who hath died for us, and washed us
from our sins in his own blood, we shall desire to make ourselves useful
in his vineyard to the highest degree of which our natures are capable.
But, to be so, we must preserve our bodies in a healthy and vigorous
state. No farmer would think of employing a weak and sickly man in his
field, upon full wages. The nature of the service which God requires of
us is such as to call for vigor of body as well as strength of mind.
Most of our efforts to benefit our fellow-creatures are attended with
labor of body and sacrifices of personal ease. And these efforts are
greatly impeded by a feeble state of health. Again, bodily feelings have
a great influence upon the mind. When the animal powers are prostrated,
the mind almost uniformly suffers with them. Hence, a feeble state of
the body may be a very great hindrance to us, in maintaining the
Christian warfare. I know that some individuals have lived very devoted
lives, and been eminently useful, with frail and sickly bodies. But this
does not prove that, with the same degree of faithfulness, and a sound
body, they might not have made much higher attainments. If you have read
the lives of Brainerd, Martyn, and Payson, I think you will be convinced
of this. Yet, I do not say that the _affliction_ of ill health might not
have been the means which God used to make them faithful. But if they
had been equally faithful, with strong and vigorous bodies, I have no
doubt they would have done much more good in the world, and arrived at a
much higher degree of personal sanctification. During much of their
lives, they were borne down and depressed by feeble health, and they all
died in the prime of life. Now, suppose them to have been as devoted as
they were, with strong and vigorous constitutions, until they had
arrived at the period of old age; might they not have brought forth much
more fruit? If so, then God would have been so much more glorified in
them; for our Lord says, "Herein is my Father glorified, _that ye bear
much fruit_."

If the foregoing remarks are correct, it then becomes the _duty_ of
every Christian to use all proper means to maintain a sound, healthful,
and vigorous bodily constitution. And this is much more within the power
of every individual than many imagine. It is true, that life, and
health, and every blessing, come from God. But he does not give these
things without the intervention of second causes. He has made our animal
nature subject to certain fixed laws; and even when his own children
violate these laws, he will work no miracle to preserve their health or
save their lives. I am satisfied that the subject receives far too
little attention from Christians in general. In this respect they seem
to act upon the supposition that their lives are their own; and that the
injury they bring upon their bodies, by imprudence and neglect of proper
attention, concerns nobody but themselves. But this is a great mistake.
Their lives belong to God. He has bought them with the precious blood of
his dear Son. They have dedicated them to his service. They are bound,
therefore, to use all proper means for their preservation, that they may
be prolonged for the glory of God and the good of their fellow-men.

But when I speak of the means to be used for the preservation of health,
I do not intend that excessive attention to _remedies_, which leads so
many people to resort to _medicine_ upon every slight illness. But I
mean the study of the laws or principles of our animal existence; and a
diligent care to live according to those laws. In short, I mean living
_according to_ nature. Probably a large proportion of the diseases to
which human life is subject, are the natural consequence of living
_contrary to_ nature; or contravening the great laws which govern our
present mode of existence.

Within the compass of a single letter, I cannot be very particular on
this subject. But I would recommend to you to read approved writers on
_health_, and the structure and constitution of the human body. Try to
understand the _principles_ upon which this truly wonderful machine is
kept in motion. You will find it a most interesting subject. You will
see the evidence of a mighty intellect in its construction. You will
also be able to draw from it practical lessons to guide you in the most
common concerns of life. I am the more earnest in this recommendation,
because I think you will discover that many of those habits and customs
of society, which are peculiarly under the control of ladies, need
reforming. I am seriously of the opinion that the general health of
society depends far more upon the _ladies_ than upon the _physicians_.
The former direct the preparation of the daily supplies of food,
designed to sustain, refresh, and keep in motion the human system. The
latter can only give prescriptions for regulating this delicate
machinery, when, by mismanagement, it has got out of order. I will,
however, give you a few simple rules for the preservation of health,
which, though incomplete, will be of great benefit, if faithfully
pursued. From experience, study, and observation, you will no doubt be
able to add to them many improvements.

1. _Make attention to health a matter of conscience, as a religious
duty._ Pray daily that God would give you wisdom and self-denial, that
you may be able to avoid whatever is injurious, and to persevere in the
judicious use of such means as are necessary to promote sound health
and energy of body.

2. _Maintain habitual cheerfulness and tranquillity of mind._ Few
persons are aware of the influence which this has upon the health of the
body. If you are subject to _melancholy_, avoid it, and fight against it
as a _sin_, dishonoring to God, and destructive of your own health and
happiness. It is dishonoring to God, because it is calculated to give
the world a gloomy and repulsive idea of religion. Nor is this view of
the subject at all inconsistent with the exercise of sorrow for sin, and
feeling for sinners. Godly sorrow is a melting exercise, which softens
the heart, and brings it low before God: while a sight of the cross of
Christ, and a sense of pardoning love, bring a holy calm and heavenly
peace over all the soul. But despondency comes over us like the
withering blasts of winter. It congeals the tender emotions of the
heart, and casts an icy gloom over every object. It hides from our view
everything lovely. It makes us insensible to the mercies of God which he
is daily lavishing upon us. It shuts up the soul to brood alone, over
everything dark and hideous. It is no less unfriendly to the exercise of
holy affections than levity of conversation and manners. Although often
created by bodily infirmity, it reacts, and renders disease doubly
ferocious. Yet it is so far under the control of the will, that grace
will enable us to subdue it. There is a very intimate connection between
the mind and body. The one acts upon the other. Depression of spirits
enfeebles all the animal powers; and particularly disturbs digestion,
thereby deranging the whole system. If, therefore, you ever feel a
gloomy depression of spirits, try to bring your mind into a serene and
grateful frame, by meditating on the mercies you enjoy, and exercising a
cheerful submission to the will of God. Remember that God directs all
your ways, and that you have just as much of every comfort and blessing
as he sees fit to give you, and infinitely more than you deserve. Rise
above yourself, and think of the infinite loveliness of the divine
character. But, if this is not sufficient, walk out and view the works
of Nature; and try to forget yourself in contemplating the wisdom and
glory of God, as manifest in them; and the bodily exercise will assist
in driving-away this disturber of your peace. Or, seek the society of
some Christian friend, who is not subject to depression of spirits, and
converse about those heavenly truths which are calculated to call forth
the exercise of love, joy, and gratitude, and make you lose sight of
yourself in the fulness and glory of God. Any violent emotion of the
mind, or exercise of strong passions of any kind, is likewise
exceedingly injurious to the health of the body.

3. _Be_ REGULAR _in all your habits._ Ascertain, as nearly as you can,
from your own feelings and experience, how many hours of sleep you
require. No general rule can be adopted, on this subject. Some people
need more sleep than others. The want of sleep, and excessive indulgence
in it, alike operate to enervate both body and mind. Probably every
constitution may be safely brought between five and eight hours. Of this
you will judge by making a fair trial. That period of sleep which
renders both body and mind most energetic and vigorous, should be
adopted. But, if possible, take all your sleep in the night. Fix upon an
hour for retiring, and an hour for rising, and then conscientiously keep
them. Let nothing but stern necessity tempt you to vary from them in a
single instance; for you may not be able in a week to recover from the
effects of a single derangement of your regular habits. We are the
creatures of _habit_; but if we would _control_ our habits, instead of
suffering them to control us, it would be greatly to our advantage. It
is also important that the hours of retiring and rising should be
_early_. Upon the plan proposed, early retiring will be necessary to
early rising, which is a matter of the first importance. Early rising
promotes cheerfulness; invigorates the system; and in many other ways
contributes to health. It also assists devotion. There is a solemn
stillness before the dawn of day, in a winter morning, peculiarly
favorable to devotional feelings; and nothing is better calculated to
fill the mind with grateful and adoring views of the beneficence of the
Creator, than the refreshing sweetness of a summer morn. Whoever sleeps
away this period, loses half the pleasures of existence. To sally forth
and enjoy the calmness and serenity of such a season; to listen to the
sweet warbling of the birds; to behold the sparkling dew-drops, and the
gayety of the opening flowers, as all nature smiles at the approach of
the rising sun; to join the music of creation, in lifting up a song of
softest, sweetest melody, in praise of their great Author, is no common
luxury.

4. _Spend at least two hours every day in active exercise in the open
air._ This time may be divided into such portions as you find most
convenient. The proper seasons for exercise are, about an hour either
before or after a meal. This you may do without regard to the weather,
provided you observe the following precautions, when it is cold, damp,
or wet:--1. Exert yourself sufficiently to keep moderately warm. 2. Do
not stop on your way, to get chilled. 3. On returning, change any
garment that may be wet or damp, before sitting down. This course will
not only keep up your regular habits, but produce a hardiness of
constitution which will greatly increase your usefulness in life. It is
a great mistake to suppose that exposure to a damp, vapory atmosphere is
injurious to health. The danger lies in exposing yourself when the
system is in a relaxed state, as it is during rest, after exercise. But,
while a general action is kept up, by vigorous exercise, nature itself
will resist the most unfriendly vapors of the atmosphere. There is a
great and growing evil in the education of ladies of the middling and
higher classes, at the present day. The tender and delicate manner in
which they are bred, enfeebles their constitutions, and greatly
diminishes their usefulness, in every station of life. Many of them are
sickly, and few of them are able to endure the slightest hardships. To
show that this is the fault of their education, we need only to refer to
the condition of those young women whose circumstances in life render it
necessary for them to labor. In most cases they possess hale and
vigorous constitutions, and are even more capable of enduring hardships
than most men of sedentary habits. There may be some exceptions to this
remark; but if these cases were examined, we should doubtless find that
the laws of nature have been, in some other respects, transgressed. I do
not see how this delicate training can be reconciled with Christian
principle. If we have devoted ourselves to the Lord, it is our duty not
only to do all the good we can in this world, but to make ourselves
_capable_ of doing as much as possible. The man in the parable was
condemned for not _improving_ and _increasing_ his talent. Anything,
then, which has a tendency to diminish our usefulness, should be
regarded as _sin_.

Exposure to all kinds of weather has this advantage also. It renders a
person much less likely to take cold; and, of course, less subject to
sickness. For a great proportion of diseases owe their origin to common
colds.

No part of a code of health is of more importance than exercise. Without
it, everything else will fail. And it is as necessary that it should be
_regular_ every day, and at nearly the same hours every day, as it is
that meals should be regular. We might as well omit eating for a day, as
to neglect exercise. The one is as necessary as the other, to promote
the regular operations of the animal functions.

But, when your situation will admit of it, I would advise you to take a
portion of your exercise in those domestic employments which require
vigorous exertion. If you open your windows, you will have the fresh
air; at the same time, you will enjoy the satisfaction of rendering your
hours of relaxation useful.

5. _Bathe frequently._ About five eighths of the food taken into the
stomach passes off by insensible perspiration, through the pores of the
skin; and with it is thrown off whatever impure matter is found in any
part of the system. When this perspiration is obstructed, general
derangement succeeds. It is chiefly to promote this that exercise is
required. But the matter thrown off is of a very poisonous nature; and
if not removed may he absorbed again into the system It also collects
upon the surface, and obstructs the regular discharge from the pores.
Frequent ablution is therefore highly necessary.

It is also essential to personal cleanliness. There is an _odor_ in this
insensible perspiration, which becomes offensive when the impurities
collecting upon the surface of the skin are not frequently removed. The
entire surface of the body should be washed every day; and if this is
done on rising in the morning, with cold water, and followed with brisk
rubbing with a coarse towel, it will furnish an effectual safeguard
against taking cold. This, however, should be remitted, when there is
any danger to be apprehended from the sudden application of cold; or
serious consequences may follow. Tepid water, with soap, should
occasionally be used at night, in order to remove all impurities from
the skin.

6. _Pay attention to the quality and quantity of food taken into the
stomach._ I know of nothing else which more necessarily affects both the
health of the body, and the vigor of the intellect. It is from this that
the blood is formed, and the continual waste of the system supplied. And
through the blood it acts on the brain, which is the seat of the
intellect. Yet, notwithstanding this, those whose peculiar province it
is to direct the preparation of our food, seldom inquire into the
chemical effect any such preparation may have upon the stomach, and,
through it, upon the whole system. Indeed, the business is generally
left to persons entirely ignorant of the principles which govern the
human constitution. It is no wonder, then, that a large proportion of
the culinary preparations of the present day are decidedly unfriendly to
it. But in relation to this matter, I cannot here be very particular. I
will only give some general rules, by which you may discover the bounds
of moderation, and what articles of food ought to be avoided. The
sensible effects arising from food unsuitable to the state of the
stomach are generally the following:--Disagreeable eructations,
accompanied with risings of food; uneasy or burning sensations of the
stomach; acidity; and these symptoms are often succeeded by headache and
dizziness or vertigo. The effects of an excessive quantity of food are
first felt by an uneasiness and oppressive fulness of the stomach. This
is succeeded by a general distension or fulness of the blood-vessels,
particularly about the head; general lassitude; sluggishness and dulness
of intellect, with a great aversion to mental effort. These sensations
are accompanied by a general uneasiness throughout the whole system,
with more or less pain. It also brings into exercise every unholy
temper. It makes people fretful, impatient, and peevish. The best
disposition may be ruined by the improper indulgence of the appetite. I
have been particular in describing these symptoms, because people are
often subject to many uncomfortable sensations, for which they cannot
account, but which might be traced to this source. A large share of our
unpleasant feelings probably arises either from the improper quality, or
excessive quantity, of the food taken into the stomach. And the bounds
of moderation are more frequently exceeded by all classes of people,
than many imagine. But for a more full examination of this subject, I
must again refer you to the works of judicious writers on health, and
the means of preserving it. This is a matter so intimately connected
with the sphere of a lady's influence, that every female should give it
a thorough investigation.

Carefully observe those articles of food which you find injurious, and
avoid them. Observe, also, as nearly as you can, the _quantity_ which
agrees with your stomach, and see that you never exceed it. Take no food
between your regular meals. The stomach is employed from three to five
hours in digesting a meal; if more food is taken during that time, it
disturbs and impedes digestion, and makes it more laborious. And, after
one meal is digested, the stomach needs rest before another is taken. In
connection with these general hints, attention to the two following
rules will generally be sufficient:

(1.) Avoid highly seasoned food, fresh bread, heating condiments, and
stimulating drinks.

(2.) Select the simplest dishes, and make your meal of a single course.
Mixed dishes are more likely to be injurious; and a second course will
almost certainly lead to excess.

But, do not give your attention so much to this subject as to become
_splenetic_. The imagination has a great influence upon animal feeling;
and if you are always watching the digestion of your food, you will be
sure to find dyspeptic symptoms; and if you humor your stomach too much,
you will weaken its capacity of accommodating itself to the kind of
nutriment it receives. Having fixed your principles of regimen, adhere
to them as rigidly as you can without inconvenience to others; but
having done this, let your mind dwell as little as possible on the
subject, and do not make it a matter of frequent conversation.
Especially, do not make trouble to the friends who entertain you, when
away from home, by excessive particularity. You may find some wholesome
dish on the most luxurious table; and if the table is _lean_, you need
not fear.

As we are commanded, whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, to do
all to the glory of God, it may not be amiss to inquire how we may
_glorify God in eating and drinking_. 1. We may eat for the purpose of
strengthening our bodies, to enable us to engage in the active service
of the Lord. 2. When we partake in moderation of the bounties of
Providence, it is right that our animal appetites should be feasted with
the delicious taste of the fruits of the earth. But we must see the
glory of God in it. Here the benevolence of his character shines forth,
in the wonderful provision which he has made for the gratification of
our earthly appetites. Hence we may argue the ineffable sweetness of the
bread of life--the food of the soul. This mortal body is but a tent
pitched in the wilderness, for the residence of the soul during its
pilgrimage. If, then, God has opened the treasures of the animal and
vegetable kingdoms to please the taste of this meaner part, how much
more abundant the provision for feasting the soul with pure spiritual
food; with eternally increasing knowledge of the divine character and
perfections! But we cannot so partake of those rich and hurtful dainties
invented by man. The delight thus experienced is the glory of man, not
of God. And the effect produced is the destruction of those delicate
organs of taste which he has provided, that we may discern the exquisite
sweetness of the natural fruits of the earth. By the same means, also,
we destroy our health, and unfit ourselves for his service. 3. But, I
suppose the apostle had in his mind chiefly the idea of _acknowledging
God_, when we partake of his bounty, and of _honoring him_ by doing
everything _in obedience to his commands_. Strict and intelligent regard
to these two points would generally direct us aright in the matter of
eating and drinking.

Do not, by any means, think this subject beneath your attention. The
greatest and best of men have made it a matter of practical study. Those
who have given us the brightest specimens of intellectual effort have
been remarkable for rigorous attention to their diet. Among them may be
mentioned Sir Isaac Newton, John Locke, and President Edwards.
_Temperance_ is one of the fruits of the spirit. It is therefore the
duty of every Christian, to know the bounds of moderation in all things,
and to practise accordingly.

7. _As much as possible avoid taking medicine._ The practice of
resorting to _remedies_ for every unpleasant feeling cannot be too
strongly reprobated. Medicine should be regarded as a choice of two
evils. It may throw off a violent attack of disease, and save life; but
it must inevitably, in a greater or less degree, impair the
constitution. Medicine is unfriendly to the human system. Its very
effect, which is to disturb the regular operation of the animal
functions, proves this. But, when violent disease is seated upon any
part, this may be necessary; and the injury received from the medicine
may not bear any comparison with the consequences which would follow, if
the disease were left to take its course. In such cases, the physician
should be called immediately, as delay may be fatal. But the great
secret lies in avoiding such attacks, by a scrupulous attention to the
laws of nature. Such attacks may generally be traced either to violent
colds, or the interruption of some of the regular functions of the body.
The most important of these may, with proper attention, be brought
almost entirely under the control of _habit_; and all of them may
generally be preserved in healthy action, by proper attention to diet
and exercise. But careless and negligent habits, in these respects, will
ruin the most hardy constitution, and bring on a train of disorders
equally detrimental to mind and body. But, in most cases of moderate,
protracted disease, a return to the regular system of living _according
to nature_ will gradually restore lost health. Or, in other words, a
strict examination will discover some violation of the principles of the
human constitution, as the cause of derangement; and by correcting this
error, nature will gradually recover its lost energies, and restore
soundness to the part affected.

                                  Your affectionate Brother.




LETTER XI.

_Mental Cultivation. Reading._


MY DEAR SISTER,

Our minds are given us as talents to improve in the service of God. If
we neglect the proper cultivation of them, we shall come under the
condemnation of the servant who hid his talent in the earth. But there
is a very great difference between mental cultivation and the mere
reception of knowledge. So you will perceive that when I speak of the
improvement of the mind, I do not mean _reading_ only; but that
discipline which calls into exercise the intellectual faculties, and
enables us to employ them in the investigation of the truth. This
discipline is a necessary preparation for profitable reading. It is a
great mistake to suppose that _mind_ is entirely original; or that only
a few possess intellectual faculties capable of searching into the deep
recesses of knowledge. It is true some possess talents of a superior
order; but none, except idiots, are incapable of improvement; and many
of the greatest minds have been formed upon a foundation which appeared
to consist of little else than dullness and stupidity. The most crooked
and unpromising twig may, by proper care and culture, become a great and
beautiful tree. The object of all education is to prepare us for
usefulness, either to ourselves or to others. We are not to disregard
ourselves. The glory of God is as much concerned in our own spiritual
growth, as in that of any other individual. But we are to love others
_as_ ourselves, and seek their good _as_ our own. Although our heads may
be filled with knowledge, yet if we have not the capacity of employing
it for practical purposes, it will be of little benefit, either to
ourselves or others. Many persons excuse themselves for neglecting to
improve their minds, upon the ground that they are incapable of doing
anything great or brilliant. But this arises from a foolish pride. If we
have but a single talent, we are equally under obligation to improve it
in the service of our Master as if we had ten. And it was upon this
principle that the servant was condemned to whom but one was given.

The discipline of which I speak may be effected in many ways. But the
method I shall propose is one that can be pursued without an instructor,
while employed most of the time in active pursuits. The course already
recommended, in relation to meditation and the study of the Scriptures,
will be found a great assistance in the proper discipline of the mind.
But this is not all that is necessary. I know of nothing which more
effectually calls out the resources of the mind than writing. To a
person unaccustomed to this exercise, it appears exceedingly difficult.
But a little practice will make it a pleasing and delightful employment.
The mind is far more richly feasted with ideas conceived and brought
forth by itself, than by those produced by others, and communicated
through the medium of the senses; and all the intellectual faculties are
strengthened and improved by exertion.

I would, therefore, advise you to pursue a regular plan of written
exercises. This will be very easy, if you only learn to think
methodically. Select, chiefly, practical subjects; which your
Sabbath-school lessons, your subjects of meditation, and your daily
study of the Scriptures, will furnish in great abundance. The principal
reason why young persons find this exercise so difficult is, that they
usually select abstract subjects, which have scarce any relation to the
common concerns of life. On this account, it will be greatly to your
advantage to choose some Scripture truth as the subject of your
exercise. The Bible is a practical book, and we have a personal
interest in everything it contains. When you have selected your subject,
carefully separate the different parts or propositions it contains, and
arrange them under different heads. This you will find a great
assistance in directing your thoughts. If you look at the whole subject
at once, your ideas will he obscure, indefinite, and confused. But all
this difficulty will be removed, by a judicious division of its parts.
Set apart regular portions of time to be employed in writing. Let these
seasons be as frequent as may consist with your other duties, and
observe them strictly. Do not indulge the absurd notion that you can
write only when you _feel like it_. Remember your object is to
_discipline_ the mind, and bring it under the control of the will. But,
to suffer your mind to be controlled by your feelings, in the very act
of discipline, is absurd. As well might a mother talk of governing her
child, while she allows it to do as it pleases. Finish one division of
your subject every time you sit down to this exercise, until the whole
is completed. Then lay it aside till you have finished another. After
this, review, correct, and copy the first one. The advantage of laying
aside an exercise for some time, before correcting it, is, that you will
be more likely to discover its defects than while your first thoughts
upon the subject are fresh in your mind. But never commence a subject,
and leave it unfinished. Such a course renders the mind fickle, and
unfits it for close study and patient investigation. Finish what you
begin, however difficult you may find it. Scarce any habit is of more
practical importance than perseverance. Do not be discouraged, even if
you should be able to bring forth but one idea under each division of
your subject. You will improve with every exercise. I well recollect the
first attempt I made at writing. With all the study of which I was
capable, I could not produce more than five or six lines. Carefully
preserve all your manuscripts. By referring to them occasionally, you
will discover your progress in improvement. In these exercises you can
make use of the knowledge you acquire in reading, whenever it applies to
your subject. But, in everything, remember your dependence upon God, and
seek the direction of his Holy Spirit.

_Reading_ is also of great importance. By this we call in the aid of
others' minds, with the experience of past ages. But, unless you observe
some system in your reading, you will derive comparatively little
benefit from it. I will endeavor to mark out a simple plan, which you
may find useful. For this purpose I shall arrange the various kinds of
reading, under four different heads, to each of which you may assign
particular days of the week.

1. _History_, two days;
2. _Biography_, one day;
3. _Doctrinal_, one day;
4. _Miscellaneous_, two days.

The advantages of this plan are, that the knowledge you acquire will be
more complete than it would be if you were to pursue but one subject at
a time; and the variety will add interest to the employment. But each of
these different kinds of reading requires a separate notice.

(1.) History is divided into two kinds, sacred and profane. It is for
this reason that I have assigned two days in the week for the reading of
it. I would have one of these days devoted to the history of the church,
and the other to the history of the world. Both these are highly
necessary to every one who desires an enlarged view of the affairs of
the world, and the dealings of God with mankind in general, and with his
church in particular. In reading profane history, several things are to
be kept distinctly in view.

1. _The providence of God in directing the affairs of men._ Observe the
hand of God in everything; for he controls the actions even of wicked
men, to accomplish his own purposes. The Bible is full of this great
truth. Scarcely a page can be found where it is not recognized. "The
most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he
will." He calls the king of Assyria the "rod of his anger," for
chastising the hypocritical Jews; but adds, "Howbeit, he meaneth not so,
neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and
cut off nations not a few." And, in a subsequent verse, he says, when he
has performed his whole work, by this wicked king, he will punish his
stout heart, and the glory of his high looks. But it is not in great
matters alone, that the hand of the Lord is to be seen. He exercises a
particular providence over the least as well as the greatest of his
works. Even a single sparrow, says our Lord, shall not fall to the
ground without our heavenly Father. And this is one of the brightest
glories of the divine character. He who fills immensity with his
presence, condescends to care for the minutest beings in the universe.

2. _Observe the connection of the events recorded in history, with the
fulfilment of prophecy._ I do not, however, suppose you will be able to
see this very clearly, without reading some authors who have made the
prophecies their particular study. And this you will not be prepared to
do with much profit, till you have the leading events of history fixed
in your mind.

3. _Observe the depravity of the human heart, and the evil nature of
sin_, as manifested in the conduct of wicked men, who have been left
without restraint, and in the consequences resulting from such conduct.

4. _See the hatred of God towards sin_, as displayed in the miseries
brought upon the world in consequence of it. In reading history, we find
that individuals, whom God could have cut off by a single stroke of his
hand, have been permitted to live for years, and spread devastation,
misery, and death, everywhere around them. The infidel would pronounce
this inconsistent with the character of a God of infinite benevolence.
But the whole mystery is explained in the Bible. All this wretchedness
is brought upon men for the punishment of their sins.

5. _Observe what bearing the events recorded have upon the church of
Christ._ One of the great laws of God's moral government upon earth,
appears to be, that he directs and overrules all things with particular
reference to the kingdom of Christ. Often, events which seem, at first
glance, to be altogether foreign to the interests of this kingdom,
appear, upon a closer examination, to be intimately connected with it.
Take, for example, the conquests of Alexander the Great. As the life of
this extraordinary man stands out alone, unconnected with the subsequent
history of the church, we see nothing but the wild career of mad
ambition. But, in taking a more enlarged view of the subject, we
discover that he was the instrument which God employed for spreading
over a large portion of the world one common language; and so to prepare
the way for the introduction of the gospel. Wherever the arms of
Alexander extended, the Greek language was made known; and this was the
language in which the books of the New Testament were written. And, no
doubt, if we could discover it, every event of history has a bearing,
equally direct, upon the interests of Christ's kingdom.

But, in order to keep all these things distinctly before your mind, you
must maintain, in the midst of your reading, a constant spirit of
prayer.

In reading church history, you will have occasion to observe the same
things, because the history of the church is necessarily connected with
the history of the world. But there are also some things to be noticed,
wherein the history of the church differs from that of the world. The
dealings of God with his own people differ from his dealings with his
enemies. The afflictions which he brings upon the former are the
wholesome corrections of a tender Father, and designed for their good;
those he brings upon the latter are designed either to lead them to
repentance, or they are just judgments, intended for the destruction of
those who have filled up the measure of their iniquities. But be
careful, in reading church history, that you do not lose sight of the
true church of Christ. Most of the histories which have been written,
are filled either with accounts of individuals, or of bodies of wicked
men, who could lay no claim to the character of the church of Christ. A
church consists of a society of people, professing the fundamental
doctrines of the gospel, and practising them in their lives. Or, in
other words, having both the _form_ and _power_ of godliness. Without
these, no body of men have any right to be called the church of Christ.
If you observe this, you will relieve yourself from much perplexity of
mind, which the careless reader experiences from, supposing that all the
evils described in any period of the history of the nominal church, do
really exist in the _true_ church. These very evils prove that it is not
the true church of Christ.

(2.) RELIGIOUS BIOGRAPHY, or the lives of individuals of eminent piety,
is perhaps the best kind of practical reading. It is in many respects
very profitable. It furnishes testimony to the reality and value of the
religion of Jesus, by the exemplification of the truths of Revelation in
the lives of its followers. It also points out the difficulties which
beset the Christian's path, and the means by which they can be
surmounted. Suppose a traveller just entering a dreary wilderness. The
path which leads through it is exceedingly narrow and difficult to be
kept. On each side, it is beset with thorns, and briers, and miry pits.
Would he not rejoice to find a book containing the experience of former
travellers who had passed that way; in which every difficult spot is
marked; all their contests with wild beasts and serpents, and all their
falls described; and a beacon, or _guide-board_, set up, wherever a
beaten track turns aside from the true way? All this you may find in
religious biographies. There, the difficulties, trials, temptations,
falls, and deliverances of God's people are described. You may profit
from their examples. But, one caution is necessary. Bring every
religious experience described in these works to the test of the Holy
Scriptures. If you find anything contrary to this unerring standard,
reject it. Satan is ever busy, and may deceive even good men with false
experiences. I would advise you, so far as practicable, to keep always
the biography of some eminent person in a course of reading, and devote
to it what time you can spare from your ordinary pursuits, one day in
the week.

(3.) In relation to doctrinal reading, I have already given general
directions. If you devote to it the spare time of one day in the week,
regularly, you will keep alive your interest in the investigation of
truth, and yet avoid becoming so much absorbed in abstract speculation
as to overlook present duty.

(4.) Under the head of miscellaneous reading, I shall comprehend the
following: Works on the prophecies, to be read in connection with
history; practical works on Christian character, experience and duty; on
the instruction of the young; illustrations of Scripture; on the natural
sciences; on health: to these you may add, occasionally, an interesting
book which may fall in your way, on subjects not included in this
enumeration. Keep in a course of reading a book on some one of the above
topics, and devote to it the leisure of one day in the week. The other
day, which I have recommended to be devoted to miscellaneous reading, I
would have you employ in reading newspapers and periodical publications.
If you find one day insufficient for this, you can keep by you a
newspaper, to fill up little broken intervals of time, which cannot well
be employed in regular study. Do not, however, read everything you find
in the newspapers, nor suffer yourself to acquire such a morbid appetite
for the exciting subjects discussed in them, as to tempt you to break in
upon your systematic course of reading. Newspapers and periodicals
contain much trash; and you may fritter away all your leisure upon them,
to the great injury of your mind and heart. Your chief object in reading
them should be, to preserve in your mind the history of your own times;
and to understand the subjects which interest the public mind; as well
as to observe the signs of the times, in relation to the progress of
Christ's kingdom.

I have sketched the above plan, hoping you may find it a useful guide in
the acquisition of knowledge. The work here laid out may seem so great,
at first sight, as to discourage you from making the attempt. But a
little calculation will remove every difficulty. If you read but twenty
pages in a day, at the close of the year you will have read a thousand
pages, under each of the above divisions; more than six thousand pages
in all. This would be equal to twenty volumes, of three hundred pages
each. Pursue this plan for ten years, and you will have read _two
hundred volumes_, containing _sixty thousand pages_. You can read twenty
pages in an hour, at least; and I think you will not say it is
impossible to spare this portion of time every day, for the purpose of
acquiring useful knowledge. Think what a vast amount may thus be
treasured up in the course of a few years! But you may not always be
able to obtain books, and keep them a sufficient length of time to
pursue the above plan strictly.[K] In such case, you can vary it to suit
your circumstances and convenience. But always have a regular system.
You will find it very profitable to take notes in writing of such
thoughts as occur to your own mind, in the course of your reading; and
particularly of the several points to be noted in history, and of the
practical lesson which you learn from biography. And you ought always to
give sufficient time to your reading to enable you to understand it
thoroughly.

  [Footnote K: In the Appendix will be found a list of books, suitable
  for the course here recommended.]

As you have never manifested a taste for what is commonly called light
reading, it is hardly necessary for me to say anything on the subject. I
cannot see how a Christian, who has had a taste of "_angel's food_" can
relish the miserable trash contained in _novels._ The tendency of novel
reading is most pernicious. It enervates the mental powers, and unfits
them for close study and serious contemplation. It dissipates the mind,
and creates a diseased imagination. It promotes a sickly sensibility,
and renders its votaries unfit for the pursuits of real life. It is a
great waste of time, and on this account alone may be regarded as
sinful. But I would not advise you to read _any_ books, merely because
you can get nothing else; nor because there is nothing bad in them.
There are many books which contain nothing particularly objectionable,
which, nevertheless, are not the best that can be obtained. There are so
many good books, that there is no necessity for wasting your precious
time upon crude, ill-digested, or unprofitable works. You may, however,
devote some time pleasantly and profitably, to reading the best English
classics, both in poetry and prose; which, for the want of a better
term, I shall include under the head of _Literary_, for the purpose of
cultivating the imagination, improving the taste, and enriching your
style. These should be selected with great discrimination and care, with
reference both to their style and their moral tendency. Poetry, to a
limited extent, tends to elevate the mind, cherish the finer
sensibilities of the heart, and refine the taste.

If you cannot obtain books which furnish you a _profitable_ employment
for your hours of leisure, devote them wholly to the study of the Bible.
This you always have with you; and you will find it a never-failing
treasure. The more you study it, the more delight it will afford. You
may find new beauties in it, and "still increasing light," as long as
you live; and after death, the unfolding of its glorious mysteries will
furnish employment for a never-ending eternity.

                                  Your affectionate Brother.




LETTER XII.

_Improvement of Time. Present Obligation._

    "Remember how short my time is."--Ps. 89:47.

    "To everything there is _a_, season, and a time to every purpose
    under the heaven."--Eccl. 3:1.

    "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."--Eph. 6:16.

    "Behold NOW is the _accepted_ time."--2 Cor. 6:2.


MY DEAR SISTER,

When you entered into solemn covenant with the Lord, you consecrated
your whole life to his service. Your _time_, then, is not your own, but
the Lord's. If you waste it, or spend it unprofitably, you _rob_ God.
You are not at liberty even to employ it exclusively to yourself. You
are bound to glorify God with your time. And how can this be done? By so
employing it that it will be most beneficial both to yourself and
others. The Christian, who properly considers the great work he has to
perform in his own soul, as well as the wide field of benevolent
exertion which opens everywhere around him, and reflects how exceedingly
short his time is, will not be disposed to trifle away any of the
precious moments God has given him. Hence we are exhorted to _redeem_ or
_rescue_ the time, as it flies. A very common fault lies in not
estimating the value of a moment. This leads to the waste of immense
portions of precious time. It is with time as with an estate. The old
adage is, "Take care of the _pennies_, and the _pounds_ will take care
of themselves." So, if we take care of the _moments_, the _hours_ will
take care of themselves. Indeed, our whole lives are made up of moments.
A little calculation may startle those who carelessly and foolishly
trifle away small portions of time. Suppose you waste _only ten
minutes_ at a time, six times in a day; this will make an hour. This
hour is subtracted from that portion of your time which might have been
devoted to active employments. Sleeping, refreshment, and personal
duties, generally occupy at least one half of the twenty-four hours. You
have then lost one twelfth part of the available portion of the day.
Suppose, then, you live to the age of seventy years. Take from this the
first ten years of your life. From the sixty remaining, you will have
thrown away _five years_! These five years are taken from that portion
of your time which should have been employed in the cultivation of your
mind, and in the practical duties of religion. For, the common excuse
for neglecting the improvement of the mind, and the cultivation of
personal piety, is _want of time_. Now, if you employ one half of this
time in reading, at the rate of twenty pages an hour, you will be able
to read more than _eighteen thousand pages_; or _sixty volumes_ of
three hundred pages each. If you employ the other half in devotional
exercises in your closet, in addition to the time you would spend in
this manner, upon the supposition that these five years are lost, what
an influence will it have upon the health of your soul? Or, if you spend
the whole of it in the active duties of Christian benevolence, how much
good can you accomplish? Think what you might do by employing five years
in the undivided service of your Master.

But, the grand secret of _redeeming_ time is, the systematic arrangement
of all of our affairs. The wise man says,--"To everything there is a
_season_, and a time for every purpose under heaven." Now, if we so
divide our time as to assign a particular season for every employment,
we shall be at no loss, when one thing is finished, what to do next, and
one duty will not crowd upon another. For want of this system, many
people suffer much needless perplexity. They find a multitude of duties
crowding upon them at the same time, and they know not where to begin
to discharge them. They spend perhaps half of their time in considering
what they shall do. They are always in a hurry and bustle, yet, when the
day is gone, they have not half finished its duties. All this would have
been avoided, had they parcelled out the day, and assigned particular
duties to particular seasons. They might have gone quietly to their
work; pursued their employments with calmness and serenity; and at the
close of the day laid themselves down to rest, with the satisfaction of
having discharged every duty. Form, then, a systematic plan to regulate
your daily employments. Give to each particular duty its appropriate
place; and when you have finished one, pass rapidly to another, without
losing any precious intervals between. Bear continually in mind that
every moment you waste will be deducted from the period of your earthly
existence; but do not try to crowd too much into the compass of a single
day. This will defeat your object. You will always be liable to numerous
and unavoidable interruptions. You have friends who claim a portion of
your time. It is better to interrupt your own affairs than to treat them
rudely. You have also many accidental duties, which you cannot bring
into the regular routine of your employments. Give, then, sufficient
latitude to your system to anticipate these, so that your affairs may
not be thrown into confusion by their unexpected occurrence.

The duty of being systematic in all our arrangements is enforced by
several considerations. 1. _By the example of our Creator._ By a careful
perusal of the first chapter of Genesis, you will see that God assigned
a particular portion of the creation to each day of the week, and that
he rested on the seventh day. Now the Lord has some design in everything
he does. He never did anything in vain. But he could as easily have made
all things at once, by a single word of his power, as to have been
occupied six days in the creation. As for resting the seventh day, the
Almighty could not be weary, and therefore needed no rest. What, then,
could have been his design in this, but to set before us an example for
the regulation of our conduct?

2. _This duty is also enforced by the analogy of the visible creation._
The most complete and perfect system, order, and harmony, may be read in
every page of the book of nature. From the minutest insect, up through
all the animal creation, to the structure of our own bodies, there is a
systematic arrangement of every particle of matter. So, from the little
pebble that is washed upon the sea-shore, up to the loftiest worlds, and
the whole planetary system, the same truth is manifest.

3. _This duty is enforced by our obligation to employ all our time for
the glory of God._ If we neglect the systematic arrangement of all our
affairs, we lose much precious time, which might have been employed in
the service of the Lord.

I shall close this letter with a few remarks upon the nature of
obligation. The very idea of obligation supposes the possibility of the
thing being done that is required. There can be no such thing as our
being under obligation to do what is in its own nature impossible. The
idea itself is absurd. This principle is recognized by our Lord in the
parable of the talents. The man only required of his servants _according
to their ability_. Nothing, then, is duty except what can be done at the
present moment. There are other things which may be duty hereafter; but
they are not _present duty_. Now, the great principle which I would here
establish is, as I have elsewhere remarked, that the _obligation of duty
rests upon the present moment_. No principle can be of greater
importance in practical life than this. It lies at the foundation of all
Christian effort. It is the neglect of it which has ruined thousands of
immortal souls, who have sat under the sound of the gospel. It is the
neglect of it which keeps the church so low. If it is the duty of a
sinner to repent, it is his duty to do it _now_; and every moment's
delay is a new act of rebellion against God. If it is the duty of a
backslider to return and humble himself before God, it is his duty to do
it _now_; and every moment he delays, he is going farther from God, and
rendering his return more difficult. If it is the duty of a Christian to
live near to God; to feel his presence; to hold communion with him; to
be affected with the infinite beauty and excellence of his holy
character; the obligation of that duty rests upon the present moment.
Every moment's delay is _sin_. And so of every other duty. Our first
object, then, is to _know_ present duty; our second, to _do_ it. We
cannot put off anything which we ought to do _now_, without bringing
guilt upon our Souls.

                                  Your affectionate Brother.




LETTER XIII.

_Christian Activity._

    "She hath done what she could."--MARK 14:8.


MY DEAR SISTER,

You doubtless feel a deep interest in the great benevolent enterprises
of the present day. No one who possesses the spirit of our Master can be
indifferent towards them. It is important, then, that you should know
what you _can do_ towards moving forward these enterprises. For,
remember that your obligation is as extensive as your ability. Christ
commended the woman, referred to in the passage above quoted for doing
"_what she could_." If you do more than any within the circle of your
acquaintance, and yet leave undone anything that you can do, you do not
discharge your obligations. You have entered into the service of the
Lord, and he requires you to _do what you can_. It then becomes a matter
of serious inquiry, "_What can I do?_" It is an interesting fact, that
the great moral enterprises of the present day, both for the conversion
of the world, and for ameliorating the temporal condition of the poor,
are in a great measure sustained by the energy of _female influence_.
This influence is felt in every department of society; and must be,
wherever the principles of the gospel prevail, so as to elevate your sex
to the station which properly belongs to them. I will endeavor to point
out some of the principal channels through which it can be exerted.

I. _You may make your influence felt in the Bible Society._ You know the
grand object of this society is to put a copy of the Holy Scriptures
within the reach of every individual of the human race. The spirit of
Christ is that of the most expansive benevolence. If you possess this
spirit, and value the sacred treasure contained in God's word as you
ought, you will feel a thrilling interest in this cause. Your heart will
overflow with compassion for those poor souls who have not the word of
life. What, then, must be your emotions, when you consider that more
than six hundred millions of your fellow-beings, as good by nature as
yourself, are destitute of the Bible? The population of the whole world
is estimated at _seven hundred and thirty-seven millions_. Of these,
_five hundred and nine millions_ are heathen, and _one hundred and
fifty-six millions_ are Roman and Greek Catholics; nearly all of whom
are destitute of the word of God. This leaves but _seventy-two millions_
who are called Protestants; but a vast number of these, even in our
highly favored land, are living without the Bible. Can you say with the
Psalmist, "Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day"? How,
then, must your heart bleed in view of these facts! "But," perhaps you
reply, "what can I do for these perishing millions?" I answer, _Do what
you can_. This is all that God requires of you. Although what you can do
will be but as a drop of water in the ocean, compared with what is to be
done, yet it may be the means of saving many perishing souls. You can
become a member of the Bible Society. You can act as a visitor and
collector, both to ascertain and supply those families which are
destitute of the word of life, and to obtain the means of supplying
others. And if no female Bible Society exists in the place where your
lot is cast, you can exert your influence among the ladies of your
acquaintance to form one. And in his measure I would advise you to
persevere, even though you find at first only two or three to unite with
you. All obstacles in the way of benevolent enterprises vanish before a
spirit of prayerful perseverance, and untiring exertion.

II. _You can make your influence felt in the Tract Society._ The
circulation of religious tracts has been abundantly owned and blessed of
God's spirit. It seems to be almost the only means of reaching some
particular classes of people, who never wait upon God in his house. It
is a cheap method of preaching the gospel both to the rich and the poor.
For a single cent, or even less, a sermon may be obtained, containing a
portion of divine truth sufficient, with God's blessing, to lead a soul
to Christ. Engage actively in the various forms of this department of
benevolent labor. The distribution of a tract to every family in a town,
once a month, when properly conducted, may be the means of doing great
good. It furnishes an easy introduction into families where God is not
acknowledged; and the matter contained in the tract will assist you to
introduce religious conversation. It will enable you to ascertain and
relieve the wants of the poor, without seeming to be obtrusive. It will
soften your own heart, and excite your compassion, in view of the
objects of distress with which you meet. It also furnishes a convenient
opportunity for collecting children into Sabbath-schools. In
distributing tracts, endeavor, as far as courtesy and propriety will
admit, to engage those with whom you meet in direct personal
conversation with regard to the concerns of their souls; and when you
meet only with the female members of the family, and circumstances favor
it, pray with them. By so doing, you may be the instrument of saving
many precious souls. Your labor will also reflect back upon yourself,
and warm your own heart. You will get a deeper sense of the dreadful
condition of perishing sinners; and this will be the means of exciting a
spirit of prayer in their behalf. Those engaged in this work should meet
every month, after finishing the distribution, report all cases of
interest, and spend a season in prayer for the divine blessing upon
their labors. I would advise you to begin your distribution early in the
month, and always finish it before the middle; and be sure you make a
written report to the superintendent, as soon as you have finished it.

III. _You can make your influence felt in the missionary cause._ This is
a cause which must be near the heart of every Christian. The spirit of
missions is in unison with every feeling of the new-born soul. It is the
spirit of universal benevolence; the same spirit which brought our Lord
from the realms of glory, to suffer and die for perishing sinners. His
last command to his disciples, before ascending up again into heaven,
was, that they should follow his example, in the exercise of this
spirit, until the whole world should be brought to a knowledge of his
salvation. But more than eighteen hundred years have passed away, and
yet at least two thirds of the inhabitants of this fallen world have
never heard the gospel; and probably not more than one seventieth part
of them have really embraced it. This is a mournful picture, and
calculated to call forth every feeling of Christian sympathy, and awaken
a burning zeal for the honor and glory of God. O, think how Jesus is
dishonored by his own people, who thus disregard his last parting
request! But here again you may inquire, "What can _I_ do?" You can do
much more than most people think they can do. Although you may not be
permitted to go to the heathen yourself, yet you can help those that do
go. I know that your means are limited; yet there are many ways in which
you can do much for this cause with little means. By regulating all your
expenses by Christian principle, you may save much, even of a small
income, for benevolent purposes. But you may also exert an influence
upon others. In all your intercourse with other Christians, especially
ladies, you may stir up a missionary spirit. To aid you in this, become
acquainted with what has been done, and what is now doing, for the
conversion of the heathen. Make yourself familiar with the arguments in
favor of this holy cause. By this means, you may become a zealous and
successful advocate of the claims of five hundred millions of perishing
heathen. As an opportunity occurs once a month for all to contribute to
this cause, you know not what effect such efforts may have upon the
purses of those whom God has blessed with an abundance of the good
things of this life. Again; you may do much for the heathen, by forming
a missionary association among the ladies where you reside. Let such an
association employ their needless half a day in every week, and apply
the avails of their labor to the missionary cause. This would enable
every one to contribute something for sending the gospel to the heathen.
But this is not all the benefit that would flow from it. Some member of
the association should be appointed to read missionary intelligence,
while the rest labor with their hands. This will be the means of
exciting a missionary spirit, which may result in a much greater benefit
than the amount of money contributed by the society. Another advantage
of this plan is, that it furnishes an opportunity of social intercourse,
with a great saving of time. Here you may meet your friends once a week,
without being exposed to the dissipating influence of parties of
pleasure. There is a little Sabbath-school book, published in Boston,
entitled "_Louisa Palston_," which ought to be in the hands of every
young lady. It presents the subject of missions to the heathen in a most
interesting light, and also contains an excellent example of an
association of the kind here recommended.

IV. _You can make your influence felt in behalf of the poor._ By
frequenting the abodes of poverty and distress, you may administer to
the wants of the afflicted, and call into active exercise the feelings
of Christian sympathy in your own bosom. By this means, also, you will
be prepared to enlist others in the same cause. Female benevolent
societies, for assisting the poor, should be formed in all large towns;
and in most places, much good may be done by forming societies for
clothing poor children, to enable them to attend Sabbath-schools. But
perhaps there is no way in which you can do so much for the poor, as by
assisting them with your own hands, in their afflictions, and aiding
them by your advice. Be careful, however, that you do not make them feel
that you are conferring an obligation.

There is, at the present day, a very erroneous impression abroad, in
relation to the poor. Many wealthy people, and many in moderate but
comfortable circumstances, seem to think God has given them their
property solely for their own gratification. Go to their houses, and you
will find their tables groaning with luxuries, their rooms garnished
with costly furniture, and their persons decorated with finery. But, if
you ask them for a small contribution for suffering poverty, you will
perhaps be compelled to listen to a long complaint against the
improvidence of the poor; their want of industry and economy; and
possibly be put off with the plea, that supplying their necessities has
a tendency to make them indolent, and prevent them from helping
themselves. This may be true to some extent; for intemperance has
brought ruin and distress upon many families, and we cannot expect
either industry, economy, or any other virtue, in a drunkard. But this
is far from being a full view of the case. I know there is much
suffering even among the virtuous poor. Sickness and misfortune often
bring distress upon deserving people.

The only way we can realize the sufferings of the poor is to suppose
ourselves in their situation. Let a wealthy gentleman and lady, with
five or six small children, be suddenly deprived of all their property,
and compelled to obtain a support for their family by daily labor, and
the lowest employments. Would they think they could live comfortably
upon perhaps no more than seventy-five cents a day, as the proceeds of
the husband's labor? Yet such is the situation of thousands of families,
even in this land of plenty. I have myself recently met with families of
small children, in the severity of winter, destitute of clothing
sufficient to cover them, and without shoes. And, upon inquiry into
their circumstances and means of support, I could not see how the
parents could make any better provision. Again; ever supposing that the
wretchedness of the poor is brought upon them by their own vices, is it
agreeable to the spirit of Christ to refuse to relieve their distresses?
Has not sin brought upon us all our wretchedness? If the Lord Jesus had
reasoned and acted upon this principle, would a single soul have been
saved? But, he has commanded us to be merciful, _even as our Father
which is in heaven is merciful_. And how is he merciful? "He is kind
unto the _unthankful_ and to the _evil_." Again; "If any man have not
the spirit of Christ, he is none of his." And are we to suppose that the
poor in our day are any worse than they were when Christ was upon earth?
Yet we find him frequently exhorting the rich to give to the poor. This
is one of the most common precepts of the New Testament. Indeed, our
Lord has greatly honored the poor, in appearing himself in a condition
of extreme poverty. At his birth, his parents could provide him no
better bed than a manger; and while wearing out his life in the service
of a lost world, he had no place to lay his head! Yet, poor as he was,
he has set us an example of giving. At the last supper, when he told
Judas, "That thou doest, do quickly," his disciples supposed he had sent
him to give something to the poor. From this we may safely infer that he
was in the habit of frequently doing so. For what else could have
brought this thought to their minds?

A Christian has nothing that is his own. He is but the steward of God's
property. By withholding it, when the kingdom of Christ or the wants of
the suffering poor require it, and spending it in extravagance, or
hoarding it up for himself and family. He _robs God._

But, even on the principle upon which the world acts, shall we neglect
the suffering of a deserving woman, because her husband is intemperate
and vicious? Or, should we suffer the children to grow up without
instruction, in ignorance and vice, because their parents are vicious?
Be, then, my dear sister, the devoted friend of the poor; and seek to
relieve distress wherever you find it, or whatever may be its cause.

V. _You may make your influence felt in the cause of temperance._ A
false delicacy prevails among many ladies, in relation to this subject.
They seem to think that, as intemperance is not a common vice of their
own sex, they have no concern with it. But this is a great mistake. No
portion of society suffers so much from the consequences of intemperance
as females. On them it spends its fury. My heart sickens when I
contemplate the condition of the drunkard's wife. I turn from the
picture with horror and disgust. But, is there no danger that females
themselves may become partakers of this monstrous vice? My soul would
rejoice if it were so. But every town, and village, and hamlet,
furnishes evidence to the contrary. Even while I am writing, I can
almost hear the groans of a woman in an adjoining house, who is just on
the borders of the drunkard's grave. But, independent of this, it is
scarcely possible to dry up the secret elements of this wasting
pestilence, without the aid of _female influence_. I have no doubt, if
the curtain were lifted from the domestic history of the past
generation, it would appear that most of the intemperate appetites which
have exerted such a terrific influence upon society were formed in the
nursery. But, besides the formation of early habits, females exert a
controlling influence over the public sentiment of the social circle.
Here is the sphere of your influence. If young ladies would, with one
consent, set their faces against the use of all intoxicating liquors,
their influence could not fail to be felt throughout society. Make
yourself thoroughly acquainted with the subject, and lose no opportunity
of advocating the cause in every circle in which you move; or, of doing
whatever is right and proper for a lady to do, in advancing it.

VI. _You may make your influence felt in every circle in which you
move, by directing conversation towards profitable subjects._ Here the
honor of your Master is concerned. There is a lamentable tendency, even
among professors of religion, when they meet for social intercourse, to
spend, their time in light and trifling conversation. The consequence
is, they bring leanness upon their own souls; and if any impenitent
sinners witness their conduct, it helps to rivet upon them their carnal
security. "Let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel." And
remember, Christ has declared that _every idle word_ shall be brought
into judgment. "Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved,
what manner of persons ought we to be, in all holy conversation and
godliness."

VII. _You may make your influence felt in bringing people within the
sound of the gospel._ There are multitudes in this land of gospel light
who live like the heathen. They do not appreciate the privileges which
they might enjoy. They live in the habitual neglect of public worship,
and the means of grace. This is especially the case with the poor in
large towns. Poverty depresses their spirits, and they seem to feel that
"no man cares for their souls." It is impossible to conjecture how much
good one devoted female may do, by gathering these people into places of
worship. A lady can much more readily gain access to such families than
a gentleman; and, by a pleasing address, and an humble and affectionate
demeanor, she may secure their confidence and persuade them to attend
public worship. In this way she may be the means of saving their souls.

VIII. Lastly. _You may make your influence directly felt by the
impenitent._ That it is the duty of Christians to warn impenitent
sinners of their danger, and to point them to the "Lamb of God, which
taketh away the sin of the world," will appear from several
considerations:--

1. The Apostle Peter says, "Christ suffered for us, _leaving us an
example that we should follow his steps_." Let us, therefore, inquire
what was his example, with reference to the subject under
consideration? The spirit of Christ, in the great work of redemption,
manifests itself in COMPASSION FOR SINNERS, and ZEAL FOR THE GLORY OF
GOD. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." And in the near
prospect of his agonies, his prayer was, "Father, glorify thy name." It
was that mercy might be extended to the guilty, consistently with the
honor of God, that he laid down his life. Behold him, deeply feeling the
dishonor done to God by ungrateful and rebellious men, constantly
reproving sin, weeping over the impenitence and hardness of heart of his
country-men, and even exerting his power to drive out those who were
profaning the temple. And he says, "If any man will come after me, let
him deny himself and take up his cross and _follow_ me." To _follow_
Christ is to imitate his example. Hence, unless we follow Christ, in his
general spirit, we have no right to be called after his name. And this
we must do _to the extent of our ability_, and at the expense of any
personal sacrifice, not excepting, if need be, even _our own lives_.
This is the true spirit of the gospel; and if it were carried out in the
life of every professor of the religion of Jesus, the millennial glory
would soon appear.

2. _We are required to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and
strength._ When we love a friend we are careful of his honor. If we hear
him defamed, or lightly spoken of, or see him ill-treated, it gives us
pain. We take part with him, and vindicate his character. But we see God
dishonored, and his goodness abused, continually. Multitudes of
impenitent sinners around us habitually cast off his authority, and
refuse to honor him as the moral governor of the universe. What can we
do more for his honor and glory than to reclaim these rebellious
subjects of his government, and bring them back to loyalty and
obedience?

3. _We are required to love our neighbor as ourselves._ We profess to
have seen the lost condition of perishing sinners. We think God has
taken our feet from the "horrible pit and miry clay." We profess to
believe that all who have not embraced Christ are every moment exposed
to the horrors of the second death. Can we love them _as ourselves_, and
make no effort to open their eyes to their awful danger, and persuade
them to flee from it? Said a young man, "I do not believe there is any
truth in what they tell us about eternal punishment; nor do I believe
Christians believe it themselves. _If they did, they could not manifest
so little concern about it._"

4. _The business of reclaiming a lost world is committed to the Church
in conjunction with the Holy Spirit._ It is the business of the Church
to apply "the truth" to the consciences of lost sinners. It is the
office of the Spirit to make it effectual to their salvation. "The
Spirit and the _bride_ [the Church] say, _come_." And even the hearer of
the word is allowed to say, "_come_." The Scriptures recognize the
conversion of the sinner as the work of the Christian. "_He which
converteth a sinner_ from the error of his way, shall save a soul from
death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." "Others _save_ with fear;
_pulling them_ out of the fire." "Then will I _teach transgressors_ thy
ways, and sinners _shall be_ converted unto thee." It is true, we
cannot, of our own power, convert souls. But, if we are faithful in the
use of the means of God's appointment, he may make use of us as
instruments for accomplishing this great work. Every one who has truly
come to Christ _knows the way_, and can direct others to him. And in no
way, perhaps, can the truth be rendered more effectual, than by personal
application to the conscience. David did not understand Nathan's
parable, till the prophet said, "Thou art the man!"

As this is a plain, positive duty, it cannot be neglected with impunity.
God will not bless his children while they refuse to obey him. "If I
regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." You may spend
all your time on your knees, while living in the neglect of a plain
duty, and get no blessing. We cannot expect to enjoy the presence of
God, while we refuse to point sinners to Christ. It is probable that the
neglect of this duty is one of the principal causes of spiritual
barrenness in the church. If, then, Christians wish their own hearts
revived, they must try to persuade others to come to Christ. "He that
watereth shall be watered also himself." If we wish to maintain constant
communion with God, we must live in the habitual exercise of the spirit
of Christ.

But many Christians content themselves with speaking to the impenitent
whenever they meet them under favorable circumstances, in the ordinary
intercourse of life. This is a duty; but it does not appear to be the
_extent_ of duty. It is only following _part_ of the example of Christ.
He _came_ "_to seek_ and to save that which was lost." "He _went about_
doing good." Is it not, then, the obvious duty of every one of his
followers, to _seek_ opportunities of conversing with the impenitent
upon the great subject of their soul's salvation? We are bound to labor
for the conversion of every sinner, for whom we have an opportunity of
laboring. God requires us to _do all we can_. The primitive Christians
carried out this principle in its fullest extent. In the 8th chapter of
Acts, we read that the church at Jerusalem were all scattered abroad
except the apostles. "And they that were scattered abroad _went
everywhere, preaching the word_." And afterwards, in the 11th chapter,
19th verse, we hear of them as far as Phenice and Cyprus, where they had
travelled, preaching [in the Greek _talking_] the word as they went. It
is to be particularly remarked that these, or at least most of them,
were the private members of the church: for the apostles still remained
at Jerusalem. And what was the result of these joint labors of the whole
church? Revivals of religion immediately spread all over the land of
Judea and its vicinity. And so might we see revivals spreading over this
land, and continuing, with increasing power, and multitudes of sinners
converted, if the church, _as one_, united in Christ, would come up to
her duty. Nor would it stop here. The fire thus kindled would burn
brighter and brighter, and extend with increasing rapidity, till it
spread over the whole world. Should not all Christians, then, consider
themselves placed, to some extent, at least, in the situation of
watchmen upon the walls of Zion? If they neglect to warn sinners, will
they be guiltless of the blood of souls? How can they meet them at the
bar of God? Ezek. 33:1-9.

       *       *       *       *       *

Few persons are aware of what they might accomplish, if they would _do
what they can_. I once knew a young lady, who was the moving spring of
nearly every benevolent enterprise, in a town of seven or eight thousand
inhabitants. The Bible Society of the town appointed a number of
gentlemen as visitors, to ascertain who were destitute of Bibles, and
make collections to aid the funds of the society. But the time passed
away in which the work was to have been accomplished, and nothing was
done. The books were handed over to this lady. She immediately called in
the assistance of a few pious friends; and in a very short time the
whole town was visited, collections made, and the destitute supplied.
She imparted life and energy to the Tract Society. She set on foot, and
with the aid of a few friends, sustained the monthly distribution. There
had been, for some time, a small temperance society in the town; but its
movements were slow and inefficient. She undertook to impart to it new
life and vigor. The plans and efforts which she, in conjunction with her
friends, put in operation, produced a sensation which was felt in every
part of the town, and in a few months the number of members was
increased, from about fifty, to three hundred.

The amazing influence of one Christian, who lives out the spirit of
Christ, is illustrated, in a still more striking manner, in the life of
a lady, who died not long since, in one of the principal cities of the
United States. I am not permitted to give her name, nor all the
particulars of her life. But what I relate may be relied upon, not only
as _facts_, but as far below the _whole truth_. She had been, for a long
time, afflicted with a drunken husband. At length the sheriff came and
swept off all their property, not excepting her household furniture, to
discharge his _grog bills_. At this distressing crisis, she retired to
an upper room, laid her babe upon the bare floor, kneeled down over it,
and offered up the following petition: "O Lord, if thou wilt _in any
way_ remove from me this affliction, I will serve thee _upon bread and
water_ all the days of my life." The Lord took her at her word. Her
besotted husband immediately disappeared, and was never heard of again
till after her death. The church would now have maintained her, but she
would not consent to become a charge to others. Although in feeble
health, and afflicted with the sick headache, she opened a small school,
from which she obtained a bare subsistence; though it was often no more
than what was contained in the condition of her prayer--literally _bread
and water_. She had also another motive for pursuing some regular
employment. She wished to avoid the reproach which would have arisen to
the cause of Christ from her being maintained upon the bounty of the
church, while engaged in the system of Christian activity which she
adopted. She remembered the duty of being _diligent in business_, as
well as fervent in spirit. She was a lady of pleasing address, and of a
mild and gentle disposition. "In her lips was the law of kindness." Yet
she possessed an energy of character, and a spirit of perseverance,
which the _power of faith_ alone can impart. When she undertook any
Christian enterprise, she was discouraged by no obstacles, and appalled
by no difficulties. She resided in the most wicked and abandoned part of
the city, which afforded a great field of labor. Her benevolent heart
was pained at seeing the grog-shops opened upon the holy Sabbath. She
undertook the difficult and almost hopeless task of closing these sinks
of moral pollution upon the Lord's day, and succeeded. This was
accomplished by the mild influence of persuasion, flowing from the lips
of kindness, and clothed with that power which always accompanies the
true spirit of the gospel. But she was not satisfied with seeing the
front doors and windows of these moral pest-houses closed. She knew that
little confidence could be placed in the promises of men whose
consciences would permit them to traffic in human blood. She would,
therefore, upon the morning of the Sabbath, pass round and enter these
shops through the dwellings occupied by the families of the keepers,
where she often found them engaged secretly in this wickedness. She
would then remonstrate with them, until she persuaded them to abandon
it, and attend public worship. In this manner she abolished almost
entirely the sale of liquors upon the Sabbath in the worst part of the
city.

She also looked after the poor, that the gospel might be preached to
them. She carried with her the numbers of those pews in the church which
were unoccupied. And upon Sabbath mornings she made it her business to
go out into the streets and lanes of the city, and persuade the poor to
come in and fill up these vacant seats. By her perseverance and energy,
she would remove every objection, until she had brought them to the
house of God. She was incessant and untiring in every effort for doing
good. She would establish a Sabbath-school, and superintend it until she
saw it flourishing, and then deliver it into the hands of some suitable
person, and go and establish another. She collected together a Bible
class of apprentices, which she taught herself. Her pastor one day
visited it, and found half of them in tears, under deep conviction. She
was faithful to the church and to impenitent sinners. She would not
suffer sin upon a brother. If she saw any member of the church going
astray, she would, in a kind, meek, and gentle spirit, yet in a faithful
manner, reprove him. She was the first to discover any signs of
declension in the church, and to sound the alarm personally to every
conscience. It was her habitual practice to reprove sin, and to warn
sinners wherever she found them. At the time of her death, she had under
her care a number of pious young men, preparing for the ministry. These
she had looked after, and brought out of obscurity. As soon as their
piety had been sufficiently tested, she would bring them to the notice
of her Christian friends. She persuaded pious teachers to give them
gratuitous instruction, and pious booksellers to supply them with books.
In the same way, she procured their board, in the families of wealthy
Christians. And she formed little societies of ladies, to supply them
with clothing. There was probably no person in the city whose death
would have occasioned the shedding of more tears, or called forth more
sincere and heartfelt grief. Her memory is still deeply cherished in the
heart of her pastor.[L] He has been heard to say, that he should not
have felt as severely the loss of six of the most devoted men in his
church.

  [Footnote L: This was first written in 1832. He has since gone to
  that "better land," where he has no doubt met the hearty greetings
  not only of his dear fellow-laborer, but of scores whom he has
  been instrumental in plucking as "brands from the burning."]

Now, what hinders you to "go and do likewise"? It is amazing to see what
can be accomplished by a single individual, by earnest effort and
untiring perseverance, accompanied with a simple and hearty dependence
upon God. If every member of the church would do _what he or she can_,
what a tremendous shock would be felt in Satan's kingdom! What a
glorious triumph would await the church! Therefore, "whatsoever thy hand
findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device,
nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."

But the work of directing sinners to Christ is one of vast
responsibility. How distressing the consequences, when the weary
traveller is directed in the wrong way! How deeply so, if his way lie
through the forest, where he is exposed, if night overtake him, to
stumble over precipices, sink in the mire, or be devoured by wild
beasts! Yet, what is this, in comparison to leading astray the soul that
is inquiring for the way of salvation? "He that winneth souls is wise."
I cannot, however, pursue this subject here; but must refer you to a
little work, entitled "Friendly Counsel," in which I have endeavored to
give at length suitable directions for this work.

       *       *       *       *       *

In your active efforts, several cautions should be observed:--1. _Avoid
every appearance of ostentation._ Suppress every rising of
self-complacency, on account of what you do, and of the success which
attends your efforts. Such feelings are abominable in the sight of God;
and if indulged, will make you appear contemptible in the eyes of men.
The Pharisees were active in many religious duties. They made long
prayers, and were so particular in outward things as to pay tithes of
the most common herbs. They also gave to the poor. But all this they did
that they might have praise of men. They chose public places to pray;
and when they were about to give anything to the poor, they caused a
trumpet to be sounded before them, to give notice of their approach. All
this was done to feed the pride of the carnal heart; and,
notwithstanding their loud professions, and apparent good deeds, the
heaviest curses the Lord Jesus ever pronounced were directed against
them. Be modest, unobtrusive, and courteous, in all you do and say. Let
the love of Jesus animate your heart, and the glory of God be your
object. Make as little noise as possible, in everything you do. Never
speak of what you have done, unless you see that some good can be
accomplished by it. "When thou doest thine alms, let not thy left hand
know what thy right hand doeth." Keep yourself out of view, and give all
the glory of your success to God.

2. _Great prudence and discretion are necessary in everything._ Do
nothing rashly. When you have any enterprise in view, first sit down and
consider the matter seriously. Pray over it. Look at it in all its
bearings, and inquire what good will be likely to result from it. When
you have satisfied yourself on this point, inquire whether you have
reasonable ground to hope for success. Then summon all your wisdom to
contrive a judicious plan of operations. When this is done, proceed with
energy and perseverance, till you have either accomplished your object,
or become convinced that it is impracticable. Pay especial regard to the
feelings and advice of those who act with you. Keep as much in the
back-ground as you can without embarrassing your efforts; and whenever
you can do it, put others forward to execute the plans you have devised.
This will save you from becoming the object of jealousy, and also serve
to mortify your pride.

3. _Be resolute and persevering._ When satisfied you are in the way of
duty, do not be moved by the scoffs and sneers of the giddy multitude.
If some good people disapprove your conduct, thinking that you attempt
too much, let it lead you to a candid and impartial reexamination of
your course. If by this you become convinced that you are wrong, in the
particular matter in question, confess it, and change your conduct. But,
if this review of the affair confirms you in the opinion that your
course is right, pursue it with decision and firmness. There are some
well-meaning people, of limited views, and excessive carefulness, who
disapprove of the best of measures, if they happen to be at variance
with their long-established customs; or, more frequently, if they were
not _consulted_ before the particular enterprise was undertaken.

4. BE MUCH IN PRAYER. Upon this will greatly depend your success in all
things. Feel that of yourself you can do nothing; but that you can do
all things through Christ strengthening you. Before undertaking
anything, pray that God would give you wisdom to direct and strength to
perform; and if it is anything in which the efforts of others will be
required, pray that he would incline their hearts to engage in the work.
Before you go out on an errand of mercy, first visit your closet, and
commit yourself to the direction of the Lord. Pray that he would give
you wisdom, courage, and discretion; and that he would keep down the
pride of your heart, and enable you to do all things for his glory.

                                  Your affectionate Brother.




LETTER XIV.

_Dress._

    "In like manner also that women adorn themselves in modest
    apparel, with shame-facedness, and sobriety; not with broidered
    hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array."--1 TIM. 2:9.


MY DEAR SISTER:

We are required to do _everything_ to the glory of God. Your first
inquiry, then, in relation to dress, must be, "_How can I glorify God in
my apparel?_" I know of no other way than by making it answer just the
end for which it was originally designed. In the third chapter of
Genesis, we learn that the object of dress, when first instituted, was
to provide a decent covering for our bodies. It was the shame brought
upon man by transgression which made this covering necessary. And, it is
undoubtedly in consequence of sin, that the elements have been turned
against him, so as to make clothing a necessary defence against the
hostile influence of heat and cold. The immediate discovery of their
nakedness, by our first parents, after their disobedience, is probably
intended to show the nakedness and shame which sin has brought upon
our souls; and the consequent exposure to the hostile elements
aptly represents the exposure of the naked soul to the wrath of
God. The invention of fig-leaf aprons may perhaps represent the
self-righteousness of the carnal heart. Impenitent sinners are always
seeking out some invention of their own, by which they expect to be
saved from the consequences of sin. But all their self-righteousness
will be no better defence against the storms of God's wrath, than
fig-leaf aprons against the withering influence of a vertical sun, or
the perpetual frosts of the arctic regions. The coats of skin, which the
Lord made for our first parents, were perhaps designed to represent the
righteousness of Christ, with which he would clothe his people. This
opinion appears the more probable, from the common use of this figure,
when the righteousness of Christ is spoken of, as imputed to Christians:
"He hath _clothed_ me with the _garments of salvation_, he hath
_covered_ me with the _robe_ of righteousness." "And to her [the church]
was granted, that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white;
for the linen is the righteousness of the saints." "For in this we
groan, earnestly desiring to be _clothed upon_ with our house which is
from heaven; if so be that being _clothed_, we shall not be found
_naked_. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened:
not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon." "And being found
in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that
which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God
by faith." The real design of clothing, then, may be summed up in the
following particulars: 1. A modest covering for our bodies. 2. A defence
against the hostile elements. 3. An acknowledgment of our spiritual
nakedness and exposure to the wrath of God; and our need to be clothed
with the righteousness of Christ. Whenever we pervert it from these
ends, to the gratification of our pride or vanity, we not only do not
glorify God therein, but we commit actual sin.

A few things are necessary to be observed, in relation to your
apparel:--1. _All that you have is the Lord's._ You have nothing but
what he has given you; and this you have solemnly promised to employ in
his service. You have no right, therefore, needlessly to squander it
upon your person. The apostle Paul, in the text quoted at the
commencement of this letter, directs women to adorn themselves with
modest apparel; and forbids the wearing of costly ornaments and jewelry.
The apostle Peter also repeats the same exhortation. The love of finery
displayed by many of the females of our congregations, some of whom are
professors of religion, is directly at variance with these passages of
Scripture. But, if the Bible had been entirely silent on the subject, I
cannot see how Christians could reconcile so much needless expense upon
their persons with the spirit of benevolence which the gospel breathes,
when so many millions of precious souls are perishing without any
knowledge of the only way of salvation, or while so many around them are
suffering from penury and want. This is certainly contrary to the spirit
of Christ. He who, for our sakes, became poor; who led a life of
self-denial, toil, and suffering, that he might relieve distress, and
make known the way of salvation,--could never have needlessly expended
upon his person what would have sent the gospel to the destitute, or
supplied the wants of poverty. Extravagance in dress is, therefore,
obviously inconsistent with the Christian character. But, no precise
rule can be laid down in relation to this matter. It must be left to the
sober judgment of Christians, and a sanctified conscience will readily
discern the bounds of propriety. By asking yourselves two or three
questions, whenever you think of purchasing a new article of dress, you
may very easily decide upon the path of duty. "Do I need this? Is it
necessary for my comfort, or for my decent appearance in society? Can I
glorify God in wearing it?"

2. _Your time is the Lord's._ You have no right to waste it in useless
attention to dress. One of the greatest evils of the present extravagant
modes of dress is, that so much precious time is consumed at the toilet.
I have already shown the value and importance of time, and the
obligations of Christians to spend it in the most profitable manner. I
need not here advance any new arguments to show that, if you spend any
more time than is necessary in the adjustment of your apparel, you sin
against God.

3. _It is the duty to pay some regard to personal appearance._ A
Christian lady, by making herself a _slattern_, brings reproach upon the
cause of Christ, instead of glorifying God. The apostle enjoins upon
women to adorn themselves with _modest_ apparel. Modesty signifies
_purity of sentiment and manners._ When this idea is applied to dress,
it immediately suggests to the mind a neatness, taste, and simplicity of
dress, alike opposed both to extravagance and finery, and to negligence
and vulgar coarseness. The exercise of a refined taste, in the
adaptation and adjustment of apparel, may also be justified by the
analogy of nature. Look abroad over the landscape, and see with what
exquisite taste God has clothed the flowers of the field. There is a
symmetry of proportion, a skilfulness of arrangement, and a fitness and
adaptation of colors, which strike the eye with unmingled pleasure. And
if God has shown a scrupulous regard to the pleasure of the eye, we may
do the same. This opinion is also confirmed by the practical influence
of the gospel. This is particularly observable among the poor in our own
land. Just in proportion as the religion of Jesus prevails among this
class of people, you will see a scrupulous attention to personal
appearance. By this, I do not mean the _pride of appearance_; but a
decency, modesty, and propriety, opposed to negligence, coarseness, and
vulgarity. But this is more strikingly manifest among those people who
have been but recently raised, by the influence of the gospel, from the
lowest depths of heathenism. Of this, you will be convinced by examining
the history of the missions among the North American Indians, and the
South Sea Islands. The same principles will also apply to equipage and
household arrangements. Such regard to comfort and decency of
appearance as will strike the eye with pleasure, and shed around an air
of cheerfulness, doubtless contributes to moral improvement, and is not
only authorized, but required, by the spirit of the gospel.

But this is a dangerous point. There is such a tendency in the human
mind to mistake gayety and extravagance for neatness and propriety; and
so much temptation to the indulgence of pride and vanity, that you have
need of constant watchfulness, that in no respect your heart may lead
you astray in this matter. You ought to make it a subject of daily
prayer.

4. _Have a regard to health._ The duty of using all proper means for the
preservation of health, I have already considered. Among these means,
attention to dress is not the least important. Great care should always
be taken that it be suited to the season, and a defence against the
inclemency of the weather. This is a Christian duty; and any pride of
appearance, or carelessness of habit, which leads you to neglect it, is
_sin_. But, above all things, avoid the compression of any part of the
body, for the purpose of improving the appearance. This is a most
pernicious practice. It is astonishing that intelligent ladies can so
blindly follow the mandates of fashion, as to indulge a habit so
destructive of comfort and life. There is no part of the system, not
even the extremity of a limb, which can suffer violent compression,
without interrupting the regular circulation of the blood. But, when
this pressure is about the chest, the effect is most destructive. The
lungs, subject as they are to alternate distension and compression, from
receiving and discharging both the blood and the breath, require the
most perfect freedom. But when the chest is so compressed as to prevent
the free play of the lungs, the whole system of respiration and
circulation is deranged. The consequences are, shortness of breath,
faintness, impeded circulation, producing listlessness and languor; and
inclination of the blood to the head, producing headache and
distressing dizziness. And, if this course is long persisted in,
destruction of health is the inevitable conscience; and often the poor
deluded victim of a barbarous fashion pays the forfeit of her life. I
have heard of many cases of death from this cause; three of which
occurred _in one family_, within the circle of my acquaintance. I need
use no argument, then, to convince a Christian lady, that it is her duty
to avoid this species of conformity to the world. I can regard it in no
other light than a palpable violation of the sixth commandment.

5. _Do not make too much of the matter of dress._ It is our duty to
avoid every species of conformity to the world which requires the
sacrifice of religious principle. But, in things indifferent, we are
allowed to conform to the customs of society. I do not think there is
much danger of observing excessive plainness of apparel; but there is
danger of making so much account of it as to cultivate a self-righteous
spirit. It is remarkable that in almost every system of false religion,
precise forms of dress are prescribed; especially for those who are
devoted to what is termed a _religious life_; whereas, in the Bible, it
is left to be regulated by the general principles and spirit of
Christianity, with an occasional caution against extravagance; and it
does not appear that Christ and the apostles and the early Christians
adopted any peculiarity of dress. From the description given of the
wardrobe of our Saviour, it is probable that he wore the common dress of
a religious teacher. There is such a thing as a pride of singularity;
and this is often manifested in the preparation and adjustment of the
wardrobe. Satan is ever on the alert, to observe the bent of the mind,
and carry it to extremes. Be not ignorant of his devices. Watch and
pray, that you enter not into temptation.

                                  Your affectionate Brother.




LETTER XV.

_Social and Relative Duties._

    "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye
    even so to them." MATT. 7:12.


MY DEAR SISTER,

We are formed for society; and whoever refuses social intercourse with
his fellow-beings, and lives to himself, violates an established law of
nature. But the operation of this general principle creates the
necessity of particular laws for the regulation of that intercourse.
Hence, a numerous train of duties arise out of our social relations. And
those duties enter more or less into the common concerns of life,
according as these relations are more or less remote. The first relation
which the Lord has established among men, is that of the _family_. This
was established in Paradise; and it has been preserved, in all ages of
the world, and in all countries, with more or less distinctness,
according to the degree of moral principle which has prevailed. The
Scriptures are very particular in describing this relation, as it
existed in the patriarchal ages. It has its foundation in the fitness of
things; and hence the duties arising out of it are very properly classed
as _moral_ duties. Of such consequence does the Lord regard this
relation, that he has given it a place in the decalogue. Three of the
ten commandments have particular reference to the family relation. From
the first institution of this relation, we learn that the father and
mother are to constitute the united head of the family. "_They twain
shall be one flesh._" Authority is therefore doubtless vested in them
both, to exercise jointly. But, since the fall, when mankind became
perverse and self-willed, the nature and fitness of things seem to
require that there should be a precedence of authority, in case of a
division of the united head. This precedence, the Scriptures clearly and
distinctly point out. One of the curses pronounced upon the woman, after
the fall, was, that her husband should rule over her. This principle was
carried out in the families of the patriarchs. The apostle Peter says,
that the holy women of old adorned themselves with a meek and quiet
spirit, and were in subjection to their own husbands: and particularly
notice the conduct of Sarah, the mother of the Jewish nation, who
_obeyed_ Abraham, calling him lord. The same principle is repeatedly
taught in the New Testament. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own
husbands, as unto the Lord." "As the Church is subject unto Christ, so
let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." "Let the wife see
that she reverence her husband." "Likewise ye wives be in subjection to
your own husbands." There can be no room for doubt, then, on this
subject. But, where Christian principle prevails with both parties,
there will be rarely, if ever, occasion to exercise this authority.

The fifth commandment teaches the duty of subordination to the head of
the family, not only on the part of the children themselves, but of
every member of the household. So far as the general interests of the
family are concerned, persons residing in it are regarded in the same
light as children; subject to all its laws, rules and regulations. Thus
the Lord speaks of Abraham: "I know him that he will command his
children _and his household_ after him, and they shall keep the way of
the Lord." The principle is here recognized, that Abraham had a right to
_command_, not only his own children, but all his household. And the
same may also be inferred from the language of the fourth commandment.
It is addressed to the head of the family, and enjoins upon him to see
that no labor is performed on the Sabbath, by any of his household, not
even excepting the _stranger_ that is within his gates.

The duty of the younger members of the family to respect the elder, may
be inferred,--1. From the nature and fitness of things. The elder
brethren and sisters are the superiors of the younger, in age and
experience, and generally in wisdom and knowledge. They are better
qualified to take the lead, and therefore entitled to respect and
deference. 2. The same thing may also be inferred from the precedence
always given in Scripture to the first-born.

But the great household duty is LOVE. If this is properly discharged, it
will set all other matters right. If this is wanting, there will be a
lack of everything else. The Scriptures insist upon the duty of
brotherly love. "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to
dwell together in unity!" Christ, in his sermon on the mount, severely
rebukes the indulgence of anger, and the want of kindness and courtesy
among brethren. And the apostle John says, that "whosoever hateth his
brother, is a murderer." A kind, tender-hearted, affectionate, and
peaceful temper, should be maintained, in all the intercourse of
different members of the same family.

But as mankind began to multiply, it became necessary that the social
relations should be extended. A number of families, residing near each
other, formed a neighborhood, or community. This gave rise to the new
relation of neighbor, from the necessity of intercourse between
families. This was again extended, to the formation of nations and
kingdoms. But all these various relations are subject to the same great
laws as those of the family; for they have grown out of them. The same
principle which requires subordination to the head of the family,
requires also deference to the elders of a community, and subordination
to the rulers of the nation. And the same principle which requires the
exercise of kindness, gentleness, meekness, forbearance, condescension
and love, between the members of the same family, requires the exercise
of similar dispositions between individuals of the same community and
nation. The principle is also still farther extended, embracing the
whole world as one great family; and requiring the exercise of love and
the practice of benevolence towards all mankind. "Submit yourselves to
every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake." "Thou shalt love thy
neighbor as thyself."

But, in consequence of the fall, another most interesting relation has
been established. Out of this apostate world, God has chosen himself a
family. Of this family, Christ is the head, and his people are the
members. Here are the same relations as in the natural family; but they
are different in their nature. They are spiritual, and, of course, of
higher obligation. We are required to love Christ more than father or
mother. And the Lord Jesus says with emphasis, "This is my commandment,
that ye love one another." I have no doubt that, when grace is in full
exercise in the heart, the brotherly love which Christians exercise
towards one another is far stronger than the natural affection which
exists between brothers and sisters of the same family.

From this general view of the social relations, we may gather the
following rules of conduct:

1. Endeavor to render to all the members of the family in which you
reside just that degree of deference and respect which belongs to them.
Conscientiously regard the rules and regulations introduced by the head
of the family, unless they are contrary to the word of God. In such case
you should leave the family; because your relative duties would
interfere with your duty to God.[M] Remember, it is in the domestic
circle where your character is to be formed. It is here that your
disposition is to be tried, and your piety cultivated. Endeavor, then,
to maintain, in your family intercourse, the same dignity and propriety
of deportment which you wish to sustain in society. Never descend to
anything at the fireside which you would despise in a more extended
circle. Bring the most minute actions of your daily life to the test of
Christian principle. Remember that, in the sight of God, there are no
_little sins_. The least transgression is sufficient to condemn the soul
forever. "He that offendeth in one point is guilty of all." Especially
avoid the indulgence of a selfish disposition. It is both unamiable and
unchristian. Be always ready to sacrifice your own feelings, when by so
doing you can give pleasure to others. Study the wishes and feelings of
others, and prefer them to your own. Manifest a disinterestedness of
feeling. Strive to be helpful to others, even at the expense of personal
feeling and interest. "Look not every man on his own things, but every
man on the things of others." "Charity seeketh not her own." Be kind to
all; respectful towards superiors, courteous to equals, and
condescending to inferiors. Be particularly careful not to trample upon
the feelings of servants. Nothing can be more unamiable. If you
cultivate these dispositions and principles of action habitually, in the
domestic circle, they will become so natural and easy as to flow out
spontaneously in every circle in which you move. And this will call
forth the love and esteem of all your acquaintance. It will bring honor
upon your profession, increase your influence, and thereby enable you to
do more for the glory of God.

  [Footnote M: This direction would not be proper for a minor, in
  her father's house, or in the place provided by a guardian. In
  such cases, it would be duty to remain, and submit to the penalty
  of disobedience; remembering that it is a blessing to be
  persecuted for righteousness' sake.]

2. _There are special duties growing out of your relation to the
church._ Some of these I have considered in former letters. But I have
particular reference now to _social_ duties. You are to regard all the
members of the church as brothers and sisters. You are to love them just
in proportion as they are like Christ. It is the appearance of the image
of Jesus, alone, in our Christian brethren, which can call forth the
spiritual exercise of brotherly love. I say the _appearance_ of the
image of Christ, because we may be deceived as to the existence of that
image in the hearts of others, and yet our love may be as sincere and
fervent as if the image were genuine. No Christian duty is more insisted
on in Scripture than brotherly love. It is repeatedly enjoined by our
Lord and his apostles. It is so essential a part of the Christian
character, that it is mentioned by the beloved disciple as one of the
principal evidences of the new birth. Now, how do we manifest our love
to our brothers and sisters? We delight in their society. We love to
meet them, to talk about each other's interests, and the interests of
the family in general. So, if you love your brethren and sisters in the
church, you will delight in their society; you will love to meet with
them, to interchange kind offices; to talk of the difficulties, trials,
hopes, fears, joys, and sorrows, of the way to the heavenly Canaan; and
to speak of the interests of the great spiritual family to which you
belong. Hence, I argue the duty of social intercourse among Christians.
But, it is to be greatly feared that the real object of such intercourse
is too frequently overlooked. How often do Christians meet, and talk
about "trifles light as air," without once speaking of subjects which,
according to their profession, lie nearest their hearts. This ought not
so to be. It is a sinful conformity to the spirit of the world. The
great object of social intercourse among Christians should be, to
promote brotherly love and Christian fellowship. And how can these ends
be answered, when their conversation is altogether about the affairs of
the world? I do not say that it is wrong to talk about these things. The
smallest matters claim a portion of our attention. But it is wrong to
make them the principal topics of conversation, to the exclusion of
heavenly things. When we do speak of them, it should be with some good
end in view; and our conversation should always be seasoned by the
application of Christian principle to all subjects.

In addition to the general obligation of social intercourse among
Christians, there are some particular duties which they owe to one
another. They are to exercise mutual forbearance and tenderness towards
each other's faults, and, at the same time, to watch over and admonish
one another. Whenever you see a brother or a sister out of the way, it
is your duty, with meekness, tenderly and kindly to administer reproof.
"If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such
an one in the spirit of meekness." "With all lowliness and meekness,
with long-suffering, _forbearing one another in love_." In all cases,
where one is to be selected for the performance of a particular duty,
which may seem to confer honor, prefer others to yourself. "In honor
preferring one another." "In lowliness of mind, let each esteem other
better than themselves." "Yea, all of you, be subject one to another,
and be clothed with humility." "Submitting yourselves one to another in
the fear of God." Yet, do not carry this principle so far as to refuse
to act where duty calls. A disposition to be backward in such matters is
often a serious hindrance to benevolent effort. Be always ready to
engage in any enterprise for doing good; but prefer the office which
requires the most labor with the least honor. Christians ought also to
take delight in assisting each other; and to feel personally interested
in each other's welfare. In short, the feeling that pervades the church
should be preeminently a FAMILY FEELING.

3. _There are also some special duties growing out of your relations to
general society._ Be ever ready to interchange kind offices with every
one who maintains a decent moral deportment; and be kind and
compassionate, even to the vicious, so far as you can, without
associating with them on terms of equality. By this means you may win
the affections of impenitent sinners, and thereby secure their attention
to direct efforts for the salvation of their souls. But, you should
never suffer your feelings of complacency and good-will towards those
who are destitute of piety, to lead you to conform to the spirit of the
world which influences their conduct. Your social intercourse with them
should be regulated upon this principle. Never go any farther into their
society than you can carry your religion with you. "Be not conformed to
this world."

4. _Although it be your duty to visit, yet, in this matter, be careful
to be governed by religious principle._ There is, in the human mind, a
tendency to run into extremes in everything. Against this you need
especially to be on your guard in social intercourse. When visiting is
excessive, it dissipates the mind, and unfits it for any laborious
employment. When this state of mind becomes habitual, a person is never
easy except when in company. The most vigorous mind may thus be rendered
comparatively inert and powerless. But, on the other hand, by shutting
yourself out from society, you will dry up the social feelings of the
heart; you will acquire a monkish love of solitude; and your temper will
become soured towards your fellow-beings. You must therefore give to
visiting its proper place in the routine of Christian duty. That place
is just the one which it can occupy without encroaching upon more
important duties. It should be the Christian's _recreation_. Seasons of
relaxation from the more laborious duties of life are undoubtedly
necessary; and I know of nothing which can better answer this end than
the intelligent and pious conversation of Christian friends. Your
friends have claims upon your time and attention. But, these claims can
never extend so far as to encroach upon more important duties, or to
impair your ability to do good to yourself and others. As soon as you
discover a secret uneasiness, when out of company, or whenever you find
that the demands of the social circle have led you to neglect other
duties, it is time to diminish the number of your visits. But do not, on
such occasions, violate Christian sincerity, by inventing excuses to
satisfy your friends. Tell them plainly your reasons, and if they are
really what they profess to be, they will see the propriety of your
conduct, and be satisfied.

5. _Never go into company where the spirit and maxims of the world
predominate._ I know this will cut you off from a large portion of
society, yet, I believe it to be a rule founded upon the word of God. If
we would not be conformed to the world, we must not follow its maxims
nor partake of its spirit. I know it is often said we should go into
such society for the purpose of exerting a religious influence. But the
practical result is directly the contrary. The spirit which prevails in
such company is destructive of all religious feeling: it freezes up the
warm affections of the Christian's heart. The consequence is, he is
ashamed to acknowledge his Master, and avow his principles, where the
prevailing current is against him. He therefore moves along with it, to
the injury of his own soul, and the wounding of his Master's cause. His
worldly companions see no difference between his conduct and their own;
and conclude, either that all is right with themselves, or that he is a
hypocrite. Large parties, as a general rule, are unfriendly to the
health both of body and soul. The most profitable kind of social
intercourse is the informal meting of small circles, of which a
sufficient number are pious to give a direction and tone to
conversation.

6. _When in company, labor to give a profitable direction to
conversation._ If there are elder persons present, who introduce general
discourse of a profitable character, let your words be few. It is
generally better, in such cases, to learn in silence. When an
opportunity offers, however, for you to say anything that will add
interest to the conversation, do not fail to improve it. But let your
ideas be well conceived, and your words well chosen. "A word fitly
spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." The interest of
conversation does not depend so much upon the multitude of words, as
upon the matter they contain, and their appropriateness to the subject.
But, when no other person introduces profitable conversation, take it
upon yourself. If you will study to be _skilful_ in the matter, you may
turn any conversation to good account. This was one of the peculiar
beauties of our Saviour's discourse. Whatever subject was introduced, he
invariably drew from it some important lesson. If you are on the alert,
you may always give a proper turn to conversation in this way. I do not
say that conversation should always be exclusively religious. But it
should be of a kind calculated to improve either the mind or heart, and
it should at all times partake of the savor of piety. "Let your speech
be always with grace, seasoned with salt." No proper opportunity,
however, should be lost, of making a direct religious impression. If the
solemn realities of divine things were always present to our minds, as
they ought to be, we should never be at a loss to speak of them in a
becoming manner. When you meet with persons who are living without hope,
lose no proper occasion to warn them of their danger, and show them the
sinfulness of their lives, and the guilt of rejecting the Saviour. But
this should be done as privately as possible. Speaking to them abruptly,
in the presence of company, often has a tendency to provoke opposition,
and harden them in sin. However, this caution is not always necessary.
If there is much tenderness of conscience, admonition will be well
received, even in the presence of others. Great care should be taken, on
both sides, that you neither injure them by your imprudence, nor neglect
your duty to their souls, through excessive carelessness. Study wisdom,
skilfulness, and discretion, in all things.

7. _Set your face against the discussion of the characters of those who
are absent._ This is a most pernicious practice, quite too prevalent at
the present day. I would have you avoid, as much as possible, speaking
even of the good qualities of those who are absent, for two reasons: 1.
I see no good likely to result from it; therefore it must be an
unprofitable method of spending time. 2. It leads us to speak also of
their faults, so as to give their whole characters; and this is evil
speaking. Never allow yourself to say anything to the disadvantage of
any person, unless your duty to others may require it. This, however,
will rarely happen; but it may sometimes be your duty to caution others
against being ensnared by one whose character you know to be bad. The
Scriptures condemn backbiting and evil speaking in the most pointed
terms. "Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil
of his brother, speaketh evil of the law." "Speak evil of no man." "Let
all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and _evil speaking_,
be put away from you." "Debates, envyings, wrath, strifes,
_backbitings_, _whisperings_, swellings, tumults." "_Whisperers_,
_backbiters_, haters of God, despiteful." Here we see how the Lord
regards this sin; for he has classed it with the exercise of the most
abominable passions of the human heart. Yet, how common is it for
professors of religion to speak freely, and without reserve, of the
characters of others, and even of their own brethren and sisters in the
church. This is a great sin, and it is productive of much evil in the
church and in society. It creates heart-burnings, jealousies, and
strife; and furnishes employment for _tale-bearers_, that most
despicable set of mischief-makers. But this sin is often committed
without saying anything directly against another. A sly insinuation is
often productive of more mischief than direct evil speaking. It leaves a
vague, but strong impression upon the mind of the hearer, against the
character of the person spoken of; and often creates a prejudice which
is never removed. This is most unjust and unfair, because it leaves the
character of the injured person resting under suspicion, without his
having an opportunity to remove it. This is probably what the apostle
means by _whisperers_. Solomon, also, speaking of the naughty person and
wicked man, says, "He _winketh with his eyes_, he _speaketh with his
feet_." "He that _winketh with the eye_ causeth shame." How often do we
see this winking and speaking by gestures and knowing looks, when the
characters of others are under discussion! Open and unreserved evil
speaking is unchristian; but this winking and speaking with the feet is
mean and dishonorable. Whenever you perceive a disposition to make
invidious remarks about others, refuse to join in the conversation, and
manifest your decided disapprobation. "The north wind driveth away rain;
so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue." Bear in mind the
words of the apostle James: "If any man among you seemeth to be
religious, and _bridleth not his tongue_, but deceiveth his own heart,
this man's religion is vain." So you see the habitual indulgence of this
sin will cut off the hope of the loudest professors.

8. _Avoid speaking of yourself._ When any person makes himself and his
own affairs the principal topics of conversation, he shows himself to be
supremely selfish, and ridiculously vain. It is also treating others
with great disrespect: as though one's self were of more consequence
than the whole company. Endeavor to keep yourself as much as possible
out of view, and to direct the thoughts and conversation of the company
away from personal affairs, to intellectual, moral and religious
subjects. But, when any of your friends make known their difficulties to
you, manifest an interest in their affairs, sympathize with them, and
render them all the assistance in your power.

9. _Never indulge a suspicious disposition._ Many persons destroy their
own peace, and gain the ill-will of others, by the exercise of this
unhappy temper. You have no right to think others dislike you, until
they have manifested their dislike. Accustom yourself to repose
confidence in your associates. It is better to be sometimes deceived,
than never to trust. And if you are always jealous of those around you,
be sure you will soon alienate their affections. In your intercourse
with others of your own age and sex, be willing always to advance at
least half way, and with those whose habits are very retiring, you may
even go farther. Many persons of sterling worth have so low an opinion
of themselves, as to doubt whether even their own equals wish to form an
acquaintance. "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly."
Always put the best construction upon the conduct of others. Do not
attach more meaning to their language and conduct than they properly
express. If at any time you really believe yourself slighted, take no
notice of it. Yet be careful never to intrude yourself into society
where you have good reason to believe your company is not desired.

10. _Be cautious in the formation of intimate friendships._ Christians
should always regard one another as friends. Yet peculiar circumstances,
together with congeniality of sentiment and feeling, may give rise to a
personal attachment much stronger than the common bond which unites all
Christians. Of this, we have a most beautiful example in the case of
David and Jonathan. This appears to be a perfect pattern of Christian
friendship. They both doubtless loved other pious people. But there was
existing between them a peculiar personal attachment. Their souls were
"_knit together_." Friendships of this kind should not be numerous, and
the objects of them should be well chosen. Long acquaintance is
necessary that you may be able to repose unlimited confidence in the
friend to whom you unbosom your whole heart. Form no such friendships
hastily. Think what would have been the consequence if David had been
deceived in this friend. He would most certainly have lost his life.

11. _Before going into company, visit your closet._ Pray that the Lord
would so direct your steps that you may do all things for his glory;
that he would enable you to spend the time profitably to yourself and
others; that he would keep you from evil speaking, levity, and foolish
jesting, and every impropriety; and that he would enable you to exert a
religious influence over those with whom you may meet. Be assured, if
you go out without observing this precaution, you will return with a
wounded soul.

                                  Your affectionate Brother.




LETTER XVI.

_Charity._

    "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity
    vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself
    unseemly; seeketh not her own; is not easily provoked; thinketh no
    evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
    beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things,
    endureth all things."--1 Cor. 13:4-7.


MY DEAR SISTER:

Although I have often alluded, in the course of these letters, to the
work of the Holy Spirit, and his blessed fruit in the heart and life,
yet so deeply do I feel impressed with the excellency and amiable
sweetness of the grace of _Charity_, that I feel constrained to commend
it to your notice in a separate letter. Charity is the queen of the
graces, excelling even faith and hope, and enduring when all those gifts
which add brilliancy to the character shall cease their attractions;
and, though you may not possess great personal charms, superior
accomplishments, or great powers of mind, yet if you do but "put on
charity," you will, like the blessed Saviour, "grow in favor both with
God and man."

The apostle calls charity the "bond of perfectness;" alluding to the
girdle of the Orientals, which was not only ornamental and expensive,
but was put on last, serving to adjust the other parts of the dress, and
keep the whole together. It is a bond which holds all the Christian
graces in harmonious union, and, by keeping them together, secures a
permanent completeness and consistency of character. Without the
girdle, the flowing robes of Oriental dress would present a sad
appearance; hardly serving the purposes of decency. So the apostle
concludes that the most brilliant gifts and heroic actions are all
nothing without charity.

Charity, however, is not to be understood in the popular sense of
_almsgiving_. It is the same word which is elsewhere rendered _love_. It
means a benevolent disposition of heart--love to God and good will to
man, diffused through the whole character and conduct. But the
description of charity given by the apostle relates chiefly to its
manifestations in our intercourse with our fellow-men. My principal
object in this letter will be to apply this description so as to
discover _negatively_ what conduct is inconsistent with charity, and
_positively_ the effect of charity on the human character.

I. Charity _suffereth long_. It will endure ill-treatment, and prefer
suffering to strife. It will not resent the first encroachments, but
patiently bear with injuries as long as they can be borne. If charity
reigns in your heart, you will consider how many and aggravated are your
offences against God, and yet that his long-suffering bears with your
perverseness, and he is daily loading you with benefits; and shall you
be impatient of the slightest offences from a fellow worm? Consider also
how liable you are to encroach upon the rights of others, and to try
their patience by your infirmities. Do not, therefore, be hasty in the
indulgence of hard thoughts of others, nor impatient of their faults and
infirmities. How much contention and strife might be avoided by a little
forbearance! and who is there so perfect as not sometimes to need it to
be extended toward himself? The ills of social life are greatly
mitigated by the exercise of mutual forbearance; and they find no place
under the sweet reign of charity.

II. But charity not only _suffereth long_, but _is kind_. "It is benign,
bountiful, courteous, and obliging." But why did the apostle couple
these two dispositions together? "_Charity suffereth long_, AND IS
KIND." Evidently, because long-suffering without kindness would be
unavailing. If you bear with the injuries or supposed offences of
another, and yet suffer your mind to be soured, and your kind offices
remitted, the wound will corrode and inflame, till it breaks out with
tenfold violence. But benignity of temper, and the constant practice of
friendly offices and benevolent actions, will disarm ill-nature, and
bring the offender to see the folly of his conduct. "A soft answer
turneth away wrath; and the kind treatment of an enemy will pour coals
of fire on his head." What can be more lovely than a kind and obliging
disposition, which delights in occasions and opportunities of
contributing to the comfort and happiness of others! This disposition
adorns with peculiar grace the female character. Solomon, describing a
virtuous woman, says, "In her tongue is the law of kindness." If you
cultivate this disposition at all times, and in all places, your
presence will add a charm to every circle; you will honor your Master;
and your ability to advance his cause will be greatly enhanced. In your
efforts to do good, with the law of kindness in your lips, you can
penetrate where, without it, you could gain no admittance; and in your
expostulations with the impenitent, you can reach the heart, by the
exhibition of a kind and tender spirit, where otherwise you would be
repulsed like the seven sons of Seeva, who presumptuously attempted, in
imitation of Paul, to cast out devils in the name of Jesus. Especially
is this disposition requisite in a Sabbath-school teacher. Without it,
he can accomplish very little. Children cannot be won without kindness.
If, then, you would be successful in this enterprise of love, cultivate
a tender regard for the "little lambs," and be kind to them whenever you
meet them. Never see a child in trouble without relieving him; or, if
you can do no more, show your sympathy for his sufferings by such kind
offices as are within your power.

III. Charity _envieth not_. It is not grieved but gratified to see
others more prosperous and wealthy, more intelligent and refined, or
more holy. The extension of holiness and happiness is an object of
rejoicing to the benevolent mind, without regard to himself.

There are some persons who are always complaining of the rich, and
fretting about the aristocratic spirit of those whose rank and station,
education or mental endowments, place them in any respect above
themselves. This is a sure indication of an envious disposition. There
may be, in these respects, some ground of complaint; but place these
persons in the situation of those of whom they complain, and where the
latter are proud, the former would probably be aristocratic; and where
these are aristocratic, those would be tyrannical.

An envious disposition argues, 1. _A want of self-respect._ If we
respect ourselves, we shall not desire the factitious importance arising
from wealth so much as to grieve that others have more of it than
ourselves; nor shall we be willing to concede so much merit to the
possession of wealth as to suspect those who have it of esteeming us the
less because we have it not. 2. It argues a _want of benevolence_. The
truly benevolent mind desires the increase of rational enjoyment, and
will therefore rejoice in the happiness of others, without respect to
his own. 3. It argues a _want of magnanimity_. The truly great will
rejoice in the intellectual and moral elevation of others, as adding so
much to the sum of human excellence. But the envious person cannot bear
to see any other one elevated above himself. This is the spirit that
brought Haman to the gallows, and Satan from the seat of an archangel to
the throne of devils. 4. It argues a _narrow, selfish spirit_--_a little
and mean mind_. The law of God requires us to love our neighbor as
ourselves, and reason sanctions the requisition. But, the envious person
will hate his neighbor, because he is not permitted to love him less
than himself.

If you regard your own happiness, I conjure you to suppress the first
motions of this vile and hateful temper; for, while indulged, it will
give you no peace. Its envenomed darts will rankle and corrode in your
bosom, and poison all your enjoyments. It is a disposition which can
never be satisfied so long as there is a superior being in the universe.
It is aimed ultimately at the throne of God; and the envious person can
never be happy while God reigns. The effects of this disposition upon
human character and happiness are strikingly illustrated in the story of
Haman, which I commend to your serious attention. Cultivate, then, the
habit of being pleased and gratified with the happiness and prosperity
of others; and constantly seek the grace of God to enable you to
exercise benevolent feelings toward all, but especially those who are
elevated in any respect above you.

IV. _Charity vaunteth not itself_, (or, as in the margin,) _is not
rash_--_is not puffed up_. "It does not act precipitately,
inconsiderately, rashly, thoughtlessly." Some people mistake a rash and
heedless spirit for genuine zeal; and this puffs them up with pride and
vain-glory, and sets them to railing at their betters in age,
experience, or wisdom, because they will not fall into their views and
measures. There is scarcely any trait of character more unlovely,
especially in a young person, than self-conceit. If the youth who is
puffed up with a sense of his own consequence could but see the mingled
emotions of pity and disgust which his conduct excites in the bosom of
age and wisdom, he would be filled with confusion and shame.

You will hear such persons prating much of independence of mind. They
have respect to the opinions of the ancients? Not they! They think for
themselves; and form their own opinions without respect to what others
have thought, and said, and written. They would scorn to consult a
commentary to assist them in determining a difficult passage of
Scripture, or the writings of a learned divine, to help them out of a
theological difficulty. That would be subjecting their minds to the
influence of prejudice, or betraying a want of confidence in their own
infallible powers!--which is the last idea they would think of
entertaining. The long-cherished opinions of great, and wise, and good
men, are disposed of with a sneer. They be influenced by great names?
Not they!

You will hear them delivering their opinions, pragmatically, and with
strong assurance, on points of great difficulty, which good men of the
greatest learning and ability have approached with diffidence; and
boldly advancing ideas which they suppose to have originated in the
depths of their own recondite minds, which they afterwards learn, with
chagrin, are but some old, cast-off, crude theories or speculations,
which had been a hundred times advanced, and as many times refuted,
before they were born. But the matter appears so plain to them that they
cannot imagine how any honest mind can come to any other conclusion.
Hence, they are ready to doubt the piety of all who differ with them, if
not to assume the office of judge, and charge them with insincerity or
hypocrisy. Whereas, in truth, their strong confidence in their opinions
arises from having examined the subject partially and superficially, and
overlooked the objections and difficulties which readily occur to a
well-balanced and discriminating mind.

I would not, however, be understood to recommend implicit submission to
the judgment and opinions even of the greatest or even the best of men.
This is Popery. The mind must be convinced before it yields assent to
any position. But it would be the height of self-conceited arrogance for
any person, but especially for a youth, to presume himself too wise to
gain instruction from the writings of men who have devoted their lives
to the investigation of truth; or summarily to set aside, as unworthy of
his attention, opinions which have been embraced by the greatest and
best of men for successive generations. Nor does it argue any uncommon
independence of mind; for, you will generally find such persons arranged
under the banner of some one of the various schools of theology,
morals, philosophy, or politics, and following on with ardor the devious
course of their leader receiving whatever falls from his lips as the
voice of an oracle, and running with enthusiasm into all his
extravagances. Like the vane upon the spire, that lifts up itself with
proud eminence to the clouds, they are ready to be carried about by
every wind of doctrine. Whereas true independence of mind consists in
weighing evidence and argument impartially, and forming a decision
independent of prejudice, party feeling, pride of opinion, or self-will;
and, when coupled with humility, it will always rejoice to receive
instruction from any source. The person who knows himself will be deeply
humbled under a sense of his own weakness and ignorance, and will
advance his opinions with modesty, while he treats the opinions of
others with becoming respect.

V. Again, Charity _doth not behave itself unseemly_. It does not
disregard the courtesies of life, nor break over the bounds of decency
and decorum; but pays a strict regard to propriety of conduct under all
circumstances. But, it may not be amiss to enumerate some of those
things which, by their unseemliness, render the conduct of any person
repulsive and disgusting.

1. Forwardness, or a disposition to be conspicuous, is unseemly,
especially in a young person. It is indeed the duty of every one to be
always ready to engage in every good work; and it is wrong to be
backward, and refuse to cooperate with others, in carrying on any useful
enterprise. But the heart is deceitful: and, while we satisfy our
consciences with the idea that we are going forward in the discharge of
duty, we may be but feeding our own vain-glorious spirits, by bringing
ourselves into notice. An humble Christian has a low estimate of his
ability to do good; and is generally disposed to prefer others, as
better qualified than himself, to occupy any conspicuous post. "In honor
preferring one another." He will, therefore, be modest and retiring;
though, when the course of duty is plain, he will by no means shrink
from it. "The righteous are hold as a lion." There are several
characteristics, however, which distinguish the forward, unseemly
spirit. He is jealous and testy. You will hear him complaining of the
aristocratic spirit of others; and if he is not noticed as much as he
thinks he deserves, he will take offence. He will rarely he found
cordially cooeperating with others, in any good work, unless he is
foremost in it himself. If you wish to secure his aid, or forestall his
opposition, you must he careful to consult him before you undertake any
enterprise. Should you neglect to do so, however good your object, or
well chosen your measures, you may expect him to find fault, and throw
obstacles in the way, at every step of your progress. Such persons often
exhibit a fiery zeal and restless activity, which seem for a time to
eclipse all their contemporaries. But it is a zeal and activity for
_self_: for it is never roused except for the promotion of an object
with which self is in some manner identified.

2. To assume, in a dictatorial manner, to catechise others as to their
views on any subject, especially if they are older than yourself, is
unseemly. You will meet with some persons who seem to take it for
granted that they have a right to call you to account for your opinions,
and to determine authoritatively your claim to the character which you
profess. I do not question the propriety of kind and modest inquiries as
to the opinions and views of others; nor of endeavoring, by fair and
candid arguments, to convince them of what we suppose to be their
errors. But then we must never forget that they are our equals,
possessing the same right to judge of the truth with ourselves, and
accountable for their errors to the same tribunal. This will leave no
ground for the exercise of a dogmatical or a dictatorial spirit.

3. It is unseemly for young persons to be foremost in speaking, in
company, or to give advice with confidence in regard to anything which
is to influence the conduct of their superiors in age, wisdom, or
experience. Elihu, although a man of superior knowledge and abilities,
did not presume to speak to Job till his aged friends had ceased; for he
said, "Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom."
Young persons sometimes render themselves ridiculous by such unseemly
conduct. The prophet Isaiah gives this as one of the marks of a
degenerate age, that "the child shall behave himself proudly against the
ancient, and the base against the honorable."

4. Fierce contention about personal rights, is unseemly. It begets a
selfish, jealous spirit. You never hear this where love reigns; for love
is a yielding spirit. The spirit that can never brook the least
encroachment upon his rights, is an unseemly spirit, which will always
be embroiled in some difficulty or other.

5. All coarseness, grossness, or rudeness of character, is unseemly.
This negative description of one of the characteristics of charity is
sufficiently comprehensive, if exhibited in all its details, to fill a
volume. It conveys the idea of an exquisite propriety of deportment,
free from everything indelicate, obtrusive, repulsive, or unamiable.

VI. Charity _seeketh not her own_. It is not selfish. The temper here
described is inculcated in a beautiful manner in Paul's epistle to the
Philippians. He exhorts them, in lowliness of mind, each to esteem other
better than themselves; and not to look exclusively on their own things,
but also on the things of others; and then commends to them the example
of our Lord, who, though King of kings, humbled himself to the condition
of a servant, enduring hardship, contumely, and an ignominious death,
for our sakes. This does not mean that we are not to love ourselves at
all, nor be entirely regardless of our own interests; for the rule which
requires us to love our neighbor _as ourselves_, recognizes the right of
self-love; and the command, "Thou shalt not steal," establishes the
right of private property. But it forbids us to make our own interest
and happiness our chief concern, to the disregard of the rights of
others and the general good; and requires us to make sacrifices of
feeling and interest for the benefit of others, and even sometimes to
prefer their happiness and interest to our own. This is the spirit of
genuine benevolence; and the exercise of it will impart far more
elevated enjoyment than can be derived from private advantage.

Were this disposition in exercise, it would cut off all ground of envy
and jealousy; it would remove the cause of most of the contentions that
arise in society; and mitigate, in a wonderful degree, all the ills of
life. Indeed, this principle lies at the foundation of all social
enjoyment. The reciprocity of mutual affection depends upon the exercise
of a self-sacrificing disposition; and the society where this does not
exist is intolerable. Nor is it feeling or interest alone that must be
given up. There is yet a more difficult sacrifice to be made, before we
can be, in any considerable degree, comfortable companions. _It is the
sacrifice of the will._ This is the last thing the selfish heart of man
is disposed to yield. He has taken his stand, and the pride of his heart
is committed to maintain it. He deceives himself, and compels conscience
to come to his aid; while, in reality, it is a matter with which
conscience has nothing to do, for the point might have been yielded
without doing violence to that ever-wakeful monitor, whose office is
thus perverted, and made to subserve the purposes of stiff-necked
obstinacy. A disposition to yield to the judgment and will of others, so
far as can be done conscientiously, is a prominent characteristic of
that charity which seeketh not her own; while an obstinate adherence to
our own plans and purposes, where no higher principle than expediency is
concerned, is one of the most repulsive and uncomfortable forms of
selfishness.

A selfish person never willingly makes the smallest sacrifice of feeling
or interest to promote the welfare or happiness of others. He wraps
himself up in his own interests and pursuits, a cheerless and forbidding
object. He would gladly know no law but his own will. He has a little
world of his own, in which he lives, and moves, and has his being. He
makes every one, with whom he comes in contact, contribute something to
his own selfish purposes. His overweening desire to promote his own
interests, disposes him constantly to encroach upon the rights of
others; or, if not to encroach upon their rights, to take advantage of
their good nature, to drag them into his service. You might as well walk
for pleasure in a grove of thorn-bushes, or seek repose on a bed of
nettles, as to look for comfort in the society of selfish persons.

VII. Charity _is not easily provoked_. "It corrects a sharpness of
temper, and sweetens and softens the mind." It does not take fire at the
least opposition or unkindness, nor "make a man an offender for a word."
One of the servants of Nabal described his character in this significant
manner: "He is such a son of Belial that a man cannot speak to him."
There are many such sons and daughters of Belial. They are so sulky and
sour, so fretful and peevish, that you can hardly speak to them, but
they will snap and snarl like a growling watch-dog; and if they were
equally dangerous, it might not be less necessary to chain them. All
this is the opposite of charity. The quality here negatively described
may be summarily comprehended in the term _good nature_; but in a more
elevated sense than this term is usually employed, it being the fruit,
not of natural amiableness, but of gracious affection. This temper is
essential to any considerable degree of usefulness. If you are destitute
of it, your Christian character will be so marred as in a great measure
to counteract the influence of your positive efforts. A bad temper, even
in connection with many excellent qualities, may render a person an
uncomfortable companion and an intolerable yoke-fellow, and bring great
reproach upon the cause of Christ. Nor need any one excuse himself on
the ground of natural disposition; for the Lord has said, "My grace is
sufficient for thee." The gospel of Jesus Christ is a remedy for all our
natural corruptions; and we are required to lay aside _every weight_,
even the sin that most easily besets us.

VIII. Charity _thinketh no evil_--is not suspicious--does not lay up
slight expressions or equivocal conduct, and reason out evil from them,
and suffer it to corrode and sour the mind against an individual; but
puts the best construction upon the words and conduct of others that
they will bear, not yielding to an ill opinion of another, but upon the
most indisputable evidence. There is, perhaps, no more fruitful source
of disquiet and unhappiness, both to ourselves and others, than a
suspicious disposition. "Jealousy," says Solomon, "is cruel as the
grave: the coals thereof are the coals of fire, which hath a most
vehement flame." Nor is this language too intense. A jealous person
always sees a "snake in the grass." He is afraid to trust his most
intimate friend. He puts the worst construction upon the language and
conduct of others that they will bear: hence he conceives himself
grossly insulted, when no ill was designed; and a gentle rebuke, or a
good-humored repartee, constitutes an unpardonable offence. He always
looks on the dark side of human character, so that a single foible or
one glaring fault will eclipse a thousand real excellences. He is always
complaining of the degeneracy of the times, and especially of the
corruption of the church; for he can see nobody around him who is
perfect, and therefore he comes to the conclusion that there is very
little piety in the world; forgetting that, were he to find a church of
immaculate purity, his own connection with it would introduce
corruption. Should such a person conceive it to be his duty to tell you
all your faults, woe betide you! for desirable as self-knowledge is, it
is no kindness to have our faults aggravated a hundred-fold, and
concentrated before our minds like the converging rays of the sun, in
one focal blaze, nor poured upon our heads like the sweeping torrent,
nor eked out like the incessant patterings of a drizzling rain. Thus did
not Paul. When he felt it his duty to reprove, he was careful to commend
what was praiseworthy, and to throw in some expressions of kindness
along with his censures. And here, though it be a digression, let me
conjure you never to undertake the unthankful office of censor. You will
find some inexperienced persons who will desire you, as an office of
friendship, to tell them all their faults. Be sure, if you undertake
this with a friend, your friendship will be short. It will lead you to
look continually at the dark side of your friend's character, and,
before you are aware, you will find yourself losing your esteem for it.
Very soon, you will beget the suspicion that you have conceived some
dislike. If the cause is continued, this suspicion will corrode and
increase; and the result will be, a mutual alienation of affection.
However sincerely such an experiment may be entered upon, it can hardly
fail, in the nature of things, to produce this result.

It may, however, be said, that we are bound, by our covenant
obligations, to _watch over our brethren._ But there can scarcely be a
greater misapprehension than to understand this duty in the sense of an
incessant lookout to discern and discover the little faults and foibles,
or even the more marked and glaring defects of character, in our
brethren. The injunction is, "If thy brother trespass _against thee_, go
and tell him his fault," &c. But I know of no passage of Scripture which
requires us to procure a magnifying-glass, and go about making a
business of detecting and exposing the faults of our brethren. On the
contrary, there are many cautions against a meddlesome disposition, and
against being busy bodies in other men's matters. We are required, with
great frequency and solemnity, to watch ourselves; but where is the
injunction, "Watch thy brethren?" Even the Saviour himself did not thus
attempt to correct the faults of his disciples. He rebuked them, indeed,
and sometimes sharply; but he was not continually reminding them of
their faults. He was not incessantly brow-beating Peter for his
rashness, nor Thomas for his incredulity, nor the sons of Zebedee for
their ambition. But he "taught them _as they were able to bear it_;"
and that rather by holding up before their minds the truth, than by
direct personal lectures.

Our covenant obligations unquestionably make it our duty to watch and
see that our brethren do not pursue a course of life inconsistent with
their Christian profession, or which tends to backsliding and apostasy;
and if they are true disciples, they will be thankful for a word of
caution, when they are in danger of falling into sin. And when they do
thus fall, we are required to rebuke them, and not to suffer sin upon
them. But this is a very different affair from that of setting up a
system of espionage over their conduct, and dwelling continually upon
their faults and deficiencies. This latter course cannot long be
pursued, without an unhappy influence upon our own temper. The human
mind is so constituted as to be affected by the objects it contemplates,
and often assimilated to them. Show me a person who is always
contemplating the faults of others, and I will show you a dark and
gloomy, sour and morose spirit, whose eyes are hermetically closed to
everything that is desirable and excellent, or amiable and lovely, in
the character of man--a grumbling, growling misanthrope, who is never
pleased with anybody, nor satisfied with anything--an Ishmaelite, whose
hand is against every man, and every man's hand against him. If there is
nothing in the human character, regenerated by the grace of God, on
which we can look with complacency and delight, then it is impossible
for us to obey the sacred injunction, "Love the brethren."

IX. Charity _rejoiceth not in iniquity_, but _rejoiceth in the truth_.
One mark by which the people of God are known is, that they "sigh and
cry over the abominations that are done in the land," and weep rivers of
water because men keep not the law of God; while the wicked "rejoice to
do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked." But we may
deceive ourselves, and be indulging a morbid appetite for fault-finding
and slander, while we suppose ourselves to be grieving over the sins of
others. Grief is a tender emotion. It melts the heart, and sheds around
it a hallowed influence. Hence, if we find ourselves indulging a sharp,
censorious spirit, eagerly catching up the faults of others, and
dwelling on them, and magnifying them, and judging harshly of them, we
may be sure we have another mark, which belongs not to the fold of the
Good Shepherd. One of the prominent characteristics of an impenitent
heart is a disposition to feed upon the faults of professors of
religion. Those who indulge this disposition will not admit that they
take delight in the failings of Christians. They will condemn them with
great severity, and lament over the dishonor they bring upon religion.
Yet they catch at the deficiencies of Christians as eagerly as ever a
hungry spaniel caught after his meat. This is the whole of their
spiritual meat and drink. It is the foundation of their hopes. They rest
their claim for admittance into the celestial paradise on being quite as
consistent in their conduct as those who profess to be God's people;
hence, every deficiency they discover gives them a new plea to urge at
the portals of heaven. Thus they secretly, though perhaps unwittingly,
"rejoice in iniquity." But it is to be feared, if we may judge from the
exhibition of the same spirit, that many who make high pretensions to
superior sanctity rest their hopes, to a great extent, on a similar
foundation. With the Pharisaical Jews, they think if they judge them
that do evil, even though they do the same, they shall escape the
judgment of God. They are as eager to catch up and proclaim upon the
house-top the deficiencies of their brethren, as the self-righteous
moralist, who prides himself on making no profession, and yet being as
consistent as those that do. If such persons do not rejoice in iniquity,
it is nevertheless "sweet in their mouth," and they "drink it in like
water." Their plea is, that they do not speak of it with pleasure, but
with grief bear their testimony against it. But grief is a very
different passion from that which swells in their bosoms. Grief is
solitary and silent. "He sitteth alone and keepeth silence." Who ever
heard of a man's proclaiming his grief to every passing stranger? Yet,
you may not be five minutes in the company of one of these persons, till
he begins to proclaim his grief at the delinquencies of his Christian
brethren. And the harsh and bitter spirit, which palms itself on the
conscience as a testimony against sin, is but an exhibition of
impenitent pride. It bears not the most distant semblance of Christian
humility and fidelity. "Brethren," says the apostle, "if a man be
overtaken in a fault, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness;
_considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted._" But, from the
fault-finding and censorious spirit of some people, one would suppose it
never came into their minds to consider whether it might not be possible
for them to fall into the same condemnation; although an examination of
the lamentable falls that have taken place might show a fearful list of
delinquents from this class of persons. David, while in his fallen
state, pronounced sentence of death upon the man in Nathan's parable,
whose crime was but a faint shadow of his own. The Scribes and Pharisees
were indignant at the wretched woman who had been taken in sin; yet they
afterwards, by their own conduct, confessed themselves guilty of the
same crime. Judas was one of your censorious fault-finders. He was the
one that found fault with the tender-hearted Mary, for her affectionate
tribute of respect to the Lord of Life, before his passion. He thought
it a great waste to pour such costly ointment on the feet of Jesus; and
that it would have been much better to have sold it and given the money
to the poor. He was very compassionate to the poor, and a great enemy of
extravagance; but a little while afterwards, he sold his Lord for thirty
pieces of silver. So, in every age, if you examine into the character of
apostates, you will find that they have been noted for their severity
against the sins of others; and particularly in making conscience of
things indifferent, and pronouncing harsh judgment against those who
refuse to conform to their views. Especially will such persons be
grieved with their brethren on account of their dress, or style of
living, or their manner of wearing the hair; or some such matter that
does not reach the heart. I was once acquainted with a woman, who
(except in her own family and among her neighbors) had the reputation of
being _very devotedly pious_, who went to her pastor, (an aged and
venerable man,) greatly grieved because he was in the habit of combing
his hair upwards, so as to cover his baldness. She was afraid it was
pride. She was a great talker, and often had difficulties with her
brethren and sisters in the church; for she thought it her duty to
exercise a watchful care over them. Whether she was self-deceived, or
hypocritical, I cannot say; but she used to shed tears freely in her
religious conversations. She, however, as I have since learned, after
maintaining her standing in the church for many years, apostatized and
became openly abandoned. You need not look over half a dozen parishes,
anywhere, to find cases of a kindred character.

The humble Christian, who looks back to the "hole of the pit whence he
was digged," and remembers that he now stands by virtue of the same
grace that took his feet out of the "horrible pit and miry clay," will
be the last person to vaunt over the fallen condition of his
fellow-creatures. He will look upon them with an eye of tender
compassion; and his rebukes will be administered in a meek, subdued, and
humble spirit, remembering the injunction of Paul, "Let him that
thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." But the spirit of which I
have been speaking is not only _carnal_, but _devilish_. The devil is
the _accuser of the brethren._

But charity not only rejoiceth not in iniquity, but, _positively_,
rejoiceth in the truth--is glad of the success of the gospel, and
rejoices in the manifestation of the grace of God, by the exhibition of
the fruits of his Spirit in the character and conduct of his people.
Hence, it will lead us to look at the bright side of men's characters;
and if they give any evidence of piety, to rejoice in it, and glorify
God for the manifestation of his grace in them, while we overlook, or
behold with tenderness and compassion, their imperfections. And this
accords with the feelings of the humble Christian. He thinks so little
of himself, and feels such a sense of his own imperfections, that he
quickly discerns the least evidence of Christian character in others;
and he sees so much to be overlooked in himself, that he is rather
inclined to the extreme of credulity, in judging the characters of
others. He is ready, with Paul, to esteem himself "less than the least
of all saints;" and where he sees any evidence of piety in others, he
can overlook many deficiencies.

I am persuaded, that in few things we are more deficient than in the
exercise of joy and gratitude for the grace of God manifested in his
children. There are few of the epistles of Paul which do not commence
with an expression of joy and thanksgiving for the piety of those to
whom he was writing. I have been surprised, on looking over them, to
find these expressions so full and so frequent. They are too numerous to
be quoted in this place; but I entreat you to examine them for yourself.
Even in regard to the Corinthians, among whom so many evils existed, he
says, "I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which
is given you by Jesus Christ." But who among us is ever heard thanking
God for the piety of his brethren? On the contrary, how many of the
prayers that are offered up in our social meetings resemble the errands
of a churlish man, who never visits his neighbor's house without
entering some complaint against his children! Yet, we are under greater
obligations for the least exhibition of gracious fruits in the lives of
his people, than for the daily bounties of his providence, inasmuch as
the gift of the Holy Ghost is greater than food and raiment.

X. Thus far, with the exception of the first two heads, and a part of
the last, we have had the _negative_ character of Charity. We now come
to its _positive_ manifestations, which have, however, to a
considerable extent, been anticipated in the previous consideration of
the subject.

1. Charity _beareth all things_; or, as it may be rendered, _covereth
all things_. This seems to be more agreeable to the context; for
otherwise it would mean the same as _endureth all things_, in the latter
clause of the verse, and thus make a tautology; while it leaves a
deficiency in the description, indicated by the passage in Peter,
"Charity shall cover the multitude of sins." "Charity will draw a vail
over the faults of others, so far as is consistent with duty." What
trait of character can be more amiable and lovely? It is the genuine
spirit of the gospel, which requires us to "do unto others as we would
they should do to us." And who would like to have his faults made the
subject of common conversation among his acquaintances? If no one would
like to be thus "served up," let him be cautious how he treats others.
And, if it is contrary to charity thus to speak of the faults of
individuals, it is not the less so to speak of the faults of masses of
men, as of the clergy or of the church. The injustice is the more
aggravated, because it is condemning by wholesale. A member of the
church of Christ, who speaks much of its corruptions, is guilty of the
anomalous conduct of _speaking evil of himself_; for the members of
Christ's body are _all one in him_. It may sometimes be our duty to
speak of the faults of others; but, where charity reigns in the heart,
this will be done only in cases of unavoidable necessity, and then with
great pain and sacrifice of feeling. The benevolent heart feels for the
woes of others, and even compassionates their weakness and wickedness.
It will desire, therefore, as much as possible, to hide them from the
public gaze, unless the good of others should require their exposure;
and even then, will not do it with wanton feelings. But these remarks
apply with much greater force to the practice of Christians speaking of
one another's faults. Where is the heart that would not revolt at the
idea of brothers and sisters scanning each other's faults, in the ears
of strangers? Yet the relation of God's children is far more endearing
than the ties of consanguinity.

2. Charity _believeth all things, hopeth all things_. This is the
opposite of jealousy and suspicion. It is a readiness to believe
everything in favor of others; and even when appearances are very strong
against them, still to hope for the best. This disposition will lead us
to look at the characters of others in their most favorable light; to
give full weight to every good quality, and full credit for every
praiseworthy action; while every palliating circumstance is viewed in
connection with deficiencies and misconduct. Charity will never
attribute an action to improper motives or a bad design, when it can
account for it in any other way; and, especially, it will not be quick
to charge hypocrisy and insincerity upon those who seem to be acting
correctly. It will give credit to the professions of others, unless
obviously contradicted by their conduct. It does not, indeed, forbid
prudence and caution--"The simple believeth every word; but the prudent
man looketh well to his going"--but it is accustomed to repose
confidence in others, and it will not be continually watching for evil.

A charitable spirit is opposed to the prevailing disposition for
discussing private character. It will not willingly listen to criticisms
upon the characters of others, nor the detail of their errors and
imperfections; and it will turn away with disgust and horror from petty
scandal and evil-speaking, as offensive to benevolent feeling. It is a
kind of _moral sense_, which recoils from detraction and backbiting.

3. Charity _endureth all things_. This is nearly synonymous with
long-suffering; and yet it is a more extensive expression. It will
endure with patience, and suffer without anger or bitterness of feeling,
everything in social life which is calculated to try our tempers, and
exhaust our patience. It is not testy, and impatient at the least
opposition, or the slightest provocation; but endures the infirmities,
the unreasonableness, the ill-humor, and the hard language of others,
with a meek and quiet spirit.

Finally, charity is the practical application of the golden rule of our
Saviour, and the second table of the law, to all our intercourse with
our fellow-men, diffusing around us a spirit of kindness and benevolent
feeling. It comprehends all that is candid and generous, bland and
gentle, amiable and kind, in the human character, regenerated by the
grace of God. It is opposed to all that is uncandid and disingenuous,
coarse and harsh, unkind, severe, and bitter, in the disposition of
fallen humanity. It is the bond, which holds society together, the charm
which sweetens social intercourse, and the UNIVERSAL PANACEA, which, if
it cannot cure, will at least mitigate, all the diseases of the social
state. That you may possess it in its highest earthly perfection, is the
sincere prayer of

                                  Your affectionate Brother.




LETTER XVII.

_Harmony of Christian Character._

    "And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith,
    virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance;
    and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to
    godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness,
    charity."--2 PE. 1:5-7.


MY DEAR SISTER,

In my first letter, I spoke of the importance of growth in grace, and
enumerated some of the fruits of the Spirit. I revert to the same
subject again, for the purpose of showing the importance of cultivating
the several Christian graces in due proportion, so as to attain to a
uniform consistency of character.

Nothing delights the senses like harmony. The eye rests with pleasure on
the edifice which is complete in all its parts, according to the laws of
architecture; and the sensation of delight is still more exquisite, on
viewing the harmonious combination of colors, as exhibited in the
rainbow, or the flowers of the field. The ear, also, is ravished with
the harmony of musical sounds, and the palate is delighted with savory
dishes. But take away the cornice, or remove a column from the house, or
abstract one of the colors of the rainbow, and the eye is offended;
remove from the scale one of the musical sounds, and give undue
prominence to another, and harmony will become discord; and what could
be more insipid than a savory dish without salt?

So it is with the Christian character. Its beauty and loveliness depend
on the harmonious culture of all the Christian graces. If one is
deficient, and another too prominent, the idea of deformity strikes the
mind with painful sensations, somewhat similar to those produced by
harsh, discordant musical sounds, or by the disproportionate exhibition
of colors.

It was, probably, with an eye to this, that the apostle gave the
exhortation above quoted. He was exhorting to growth in grace; and he
would have the new man grow up with symmetrical proportions, so as to
form the "stature of a perfect man in Christ Jesus," not having all the
energies concentrated in one member, but having the body complete in all
its parts, giving a due proportion of comeliness, activity, and strength
to each. Thus, he says, _Add to your faith virtue_. By faith, I suppose
we are to understand the elementary principle of the Christian
character, as exhibited in regeneration; or the act which takes hold of
Christ. But we are not to rest in this. We are to add _virtue_, or
strength and courage, to carry out our new principle of action. But this
is not all that is needed. We may be full of courage and zeal; yet, if
we are ignorant of truth and duty, we shall make sad work of it, running
headlong, first into this extravagance, and then into that, disturbing
the plans of others, and defeating our own, by a rash and heedless
course of conduct.

Young Christians are in danger of making religion consist too
exclusively in emotion, which leads them to undervalue knowledge. But
while emotion is inseparable from spiritual religion, knowledge is no
less essential to intelligent emotion. Ignorance is not the mother of
devotion; and though a person may be sincerely and truly pious, with
only the knowledge of a few simple principles, yet, without a thorough
and comprehensive knowledge of religious truth, the Christian character
will be weak and unstable, easily led astray, and carried about by every
wind of doctrine. Knowledge is also essential to a high degree of
usefulness. It expands and invigorates the mind, and enables us, with
divine aid, to devise and execute plans of usefulness, with prudence and
energy.

But knowledge alone is not sufficient; nor even knowledge added to
faith. Temperance must be added, as a regulator, both of soul and body.
All our appetites and passions, desires and emotions, must be brought
within the bounds of moderation. And to temperance must be added
patience, that we may be enabled to endure the trials of this life, and
not to faint under the chastening hand of our heavenly Father. As it is
through much tribulation that we are to enter into the kingdom of
heaven, we have need of patience, both for our own comfort, and for the
honor of religion. Indeed, no grace is more needful, in the ordinary
affairs of life. It is the little, every-day occurrences that try the
Christian character: and it is in regard to these that patience works
experience. Many of these things are more difficult to be borne than the
greater trials of life, because the hand of God is less strikingly
visible in them. But patience enables us to endure those things which
cross the temper, with a calm, unruffled spirit; to encounter
contradictions, little vexations, and disappointments, without fretting,
or repining; and saves us from sinking under severe and protracted
afflictions.

To patience must be added godliness, "which is profitable unto all
things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to
come." To be _godly_, is to be, in a measure, _like God_. It is to be
"renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created us," and to
have the same mind in us that was in Christ Jesus. This is the fruit of
that patience which works experience, and results in hope, which maketh
not ashamed.

To godliness must be added brotherly kindness; which is but acting out
the state of heart expressed by _godliness_, which indicates a partaking
of divine benevolence.

Then comes the crowning grace of CHARITY, "which is the bond of
perfectness," comprehending the whole circle of the social virtues.

Where all these qualities exist, in due proportion, they will form a
lovely character, harmonious and beautiful as the seven colors of the
rainbow; yea, with the addition of an eighth, of crowning lustre. But,
if any one suffers his religious feelings to concentrate on one point,
as though the whole of religion consisted in zeal, or devotional
feeling, or sympathy, or the promotion of some favorite scheme of
benevolence, you will find an exhibition of character as unlovely and
repulsive as though the seven colors of the rainbow should concentrate
in one, of livid hue, or pale blue, or sombre gray; as disagreeable as
though the sweet melody of a harmonious choir were changed into a dull,
monotonous bass; and as unsavory as a dish of meats seasoned only with
bitter herbs.

This disproportionate development of Christian character is more
frequently seen in young converts: especially such as have not received
a thorough Christian education, and are, consequently, deficient in
religious knowledge. They find themselves in a new world, and become so
much absorbed in the contemplation of the new objects that present
themselves to their admiring gaze, that they seem almost to forget that
they have any other duties to perform than those which consist in
devotional exercises. If these are interrupted, they will fret and worry
their minds, and wish for some employment entirely of a religious
nature. They wonder how it is possible for Christians to be _so cold_,
as to pursue their worldly employments as diligently as they do who take
this world for their portion; and often you will hear them breaking out
in expressions of great severity against older Christians, because they
do not sympathize with them in these feelings. Their daily employments
become irksome; and they are tempted even to neglect the interests of
their employers, with the plea, that the service of God has the first
claim upon them. But they forget that the service of God consists in the
faithful performance of every social and relative duty, "_as unto the
Lord, and not to men_," as well as the more direct devotional exercises;
and that the one is as essential to the Christian character as the
other. The Bible requires us to be "diligent in business," as well as
"fervent in spirit;" and the religion of the Bible makes us better in
all the relations of this life, as well as in our relations with God.

Young Christians are also prone to undervalue _little things_. The
greater things of religion take such strong possession of their souls,
that they overlook many minor things of essential importance. In seasons
of special religious awakening, this mistake is very common; in
consequence of which, many important interests suffer, and the
derangement which follows, makes an unfavorable impression as to the
influence of revivals. The spirit of the Christian religion requires
that every duty should be discharged in its proper time. The beauty of
the Christian character greatly depends on its symmetrical proportions.
A person may be very zealous in some things, and yet quite defective in
his Christian character. And the probability is, that he has no more
religion than shows itself in its consistent proportions. The new energy
imparted by the regenerating grace of God may unite itself with the
strong points of his character, and produce a very prominent
development; while, in regard to those traits of character which are
naturally weak, in his constitutional temperament, grace may be scarcely
perceptible. For instance, a person who is naturally bold and resolute,
will be remarkable, when converted, for his _moral courage_; while,
perhaps, he may be very deficient in _meekness_. And the one who is
naturally weak and irresolute, will perhaps be remarkable for the mild
virtues, but very deficient in strength and energy of character. Now,
the error lies in cultivating almost exclusively those Christian graces
which fall in with our prominent traits of character. We should rather
bend our energies, by the grace of God, chiefly to the development of
those points of character which are naturally weak, while we discipline,
repress, and bring under control, those which are too prominent. This
will prevent deformity, and develop a uniform consistency of character.

There is, perhaps, a peculiar tendency to this _one-sided_ religion in
this age of excitement and activity; and the young convert, whose
Christian character is not matured, is peculiarly liable to fall into
this error. The mind becomes absorbed with one object. The more
exclusively this object is contemplated, the more its importance is
magnified. It becomes, to his mind, the _main thing_. It is identified
with his ideas of religion. He makes it a _test of piety_. Then he is
prepared to regard and treat all who do not come up to his views on this
point as destitute of true religion; though they may exhibit a
consistency of character, in other respects, to which he is a stranger.
This leads to denunciation, alienation of feeling, bitterness, and
strife. But one of God's commands is as dear to him as another; and we
cannot excuse ourselves before him, for disobeying one, on the ground
that we practise another. The perfection of Christian character consists
in the harmonious development of the Christian graces. This is what I
understand by the "stature of a perfect man in Christ Jesus;" a man who
has no deformity; who is complete in all his members and all his
faculties. That you may attain to this, is the sincere prayer of

                                  Your affectionate Brother.




LETTER XVIII.

_Marriage._

    "Marriage is honorable in all."--HEB. 13:4.


MY DEAR SISTER,

Some young persons indulge a fastidiousness of feeling, in relation to
the subject of marriage, as though it were indelicate to speak of it.
Others make it the principal subject of their thoughts and conversation;
yet they seem to think it must never be mentioned but in jest. But both
these extremes should be avoided. Marriage is an ordinance of God, and
therefore a proper subject of thought and discussion, with reference to
personal duty. But it is a matter of great importance, having a direct
hearing upon the glory of God, and the happiness of individuals. It
should, therefore, never be approached with levity. But, as it requires
no more attention than what is necessary in order to understand present
duty, it would be foolish to make it a subject of constant thought, and
silly to make it a common topic of conversation. It is a matter which
should be weighed deliberately and seriously by every young person. In
reference to the main subject, two things should be considered:

I. _Marriage is desirable._ It was ordained by the Lord, at the
creation, as suited to the state of man as a social being, and necessary
to the design for which he was created. Whoever, therefore, wilfully
neglects it, contravenes the order of nature, and must consequently
expect a diminution of those enjoyments which arise from the social
state. There is a sweetness and comfort in the bosom of one's own
family, which can be enjoyed nowhere else. In early life, this is
supplied by our youthful companions, who feel in unison with us. But, as
a person who remains single advances in life, the friends of his youth
form new attachments, in which he is incapable of participating. Their
feelings undergo a change, of which he knows nothing. He is gradually
left alone. No heart beats in unison with his own. His social feelings
wither for want of an object. As he feels not in unison with those
around him, his habits also become peculiar, and perhaps repulsive; so
that his company is not desired: hence arises the whimsical attachment
of such persons to domestic animals, or to other objects which can be
enjoyed in solitude. As the dreary winter of age advances, the solitude
of his condition becomes still more chilling. Nothing but that sweet
resignation to the will of God which religion gives, under all
circumstances, can render such a situation tolerable. But religion does
not annihilate the social affections. It only regulates them. It is
evident, then, that by a lawful and proper exercise of these affections,
both our happiness and usefulness may be greatly increased.

II. _On the other hand, do not consider marriage as absolutely essential
to happiness._ Although it is an ordinance of God, yet he has not
absolutely enjoined it upon all. You _may_, therefore, be in the way of
duty while neglecting it. And the apostle Paul hints that there may be,
with those who enter into this state, a greater tendency of the heart
towards earthly objects. There is also an increase of care. "The
unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy
both in body and spirit; but she that is married, careth for the things
of the world, how she may please her husband." But much more has been
made of this than the apostle intended. It has been greatly abused and
perverted by the church of Rome. It must be observed that, in the same
chapter, he advises that "every man have his own wife, and every woman
have her own husband." And, whatever may be our condition in life, if
we seek it with earnestness and perseverance, in the way of duty, God
will give us grace sufficient for the day. But he says, though it is no
sin to marry, nevertheless, "such shall have trouble in the flesh." It
is undoubtedly true, that the enjoyments of conjugal life have their
corresponding difficulties and trials; and if these are enhanced by an
unhappy connection, the situation is insufferable. For this reason I
would have you avoid the conclusion that marriage is indispensable to
happiness. Single life is certainly to be preferred to a connection with
a person who will diminish, instead of increasing, your happiness.
However, the remark of the apostle, "such shall have trouble in the
flesh," doubtless had reference chiefly to the peculiar troubles of the
times, when Christians were exposed to persecution, the loss of goods,
and even of life itself, for Christ's sake; the trials of which would
be much greater in married than in single life.

Having these two principles fixed in your mind, you will be prepared
calmly to consider what qualifications are requisite in a companion for
life. These I shall divide into two classes: 1. Those which are
_indispensable_. 2. Those which are _desirable_. Of the first class, I
see none which can be dispensed with, without so marring the character
of a man as to render him an unfit associate for an intelligent
Christian lady. But, although the latter are very important, yet,
without possessing all of them, a person may be an agreeable companion
and a man of real worth.


FIRST CLASS.

1. _The first requisite in a companion for life is piety._ I know not
how a Christian can form so intimate a connection as this with one who
is living in rebellion against God. You profess to love Jesus above
every other object; and to forsake all, that you may follow him. How,
then, could you unite your interest with one who continually rejects and
abuses the object of your soul's delight? Indeed, I am at a loss to
understand how a union can be formed between the carnal and the renewed
heart. They are in direct opposition to each other. The one overflows
with love to God; the other is at enmity against him. How, then, can
there be any congeniality of feeling? Can fire unite with water? A
desire to form such a union must be a dark mark against any one's
Christian character. The Scriptures are very clear and decided on this
point. The intermarrying of the righteous with the wicked was the
principal cause of the general corruption of the inhabitants of the old
world, which provoked God to destroy them with the flood. Abraham, the
father of the faithful, was careful that Isaac, the son of promise,
should not take a wife from among the heathen. The same precaution was
taken by Isaac and Rebecca, in relation to Jacob. The children of Israel
were also expressly forbidden to make marriages with the heathen, lest
they should be turned away from the Lord, to the worship of idols. And
we see a mournful example of the influence of such unholy connections in
the case of Solomon. Although he had been so zealous in the service of
the Lord as to build him a temple--although he had even been inspired to
write portions of the Holy Scriptures--yet his strange wives turned away
his heart, and persuaded him to worship idols. Although we are now under
a different dispensation, yet _principles_ remain the same. The union of
a heathen and a Jew was, as to its effect on a pious mind, substantially
the same as the union of a believer and an unbeliever; and the former
would be no more likely to be drawn away from God by it than the latter.
Hence we find the same principle recognized in the New Testament. The
apostle Paul, speaking of the woman, says, "If her husband be dead, she
is at liberty to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord." The
phrase _in the Lord_, denotes being a true Christian; as will appear
from other passages where the same form of expression is used. "If any
man be _in Christ_, he is a new creature." It is plainly implied, then,
in this qualifying phrase, that it is unlawful for a Christian to marry
an unbeliever. The same doctrine is also taught by the same apostle in
another place. "Be not ye, therefore, unequally yoked with unbelievers."
In this passage the apostle lays down a general principle; which applies
to all intimate associations with unbelievers. And what connection could
be more intimate than this? I conclude, therefore, that it is contrary
both to reason and Scripture for a Christian to marry an impenitent
sinner. And, in this respect, look not only for an outward profession,
but for evidence of deep-toned and devoted piety. The are many
professors of religion who show very few signs of spiritual life. And
there are doubtless many that make loud professions of religious
experience, who know nothing of the power of godliness. Look for a
person who makes religion the chief concern of his life; who is
determined to live for God, and not for himself. Make this the test.
Worldly-minded professors of religion are worse associates than those
who make no profession. They exert a more withering influence upon the
soul.

2. _Another indispensable requisite is an_ AMIABLE DISPOSITION. Whatever
good qualities a man may possess, if he is selfish, morose, sour,
peevish, fretful, jealous, or passionate, he will make an uncomfortable
companion. Grace may do much towards subduing these unholy tempers; yet,
if they were fostered in the heart in childhood, and suffered to grow up
to maturity before grace began to work, they will often break out in the
family circle. However, you will find it exceedingly difficult to judge
in this matter. The only direction I can give on this subject is, that,
if you discover the exercise of any unhallowed passions in a man, with
the opportunity you will have of observation, you may consider it
conclusive evidence of a disposition which would render you miserable.

3. _The person of your choice must possess a_ WELL-CULTIVATED MIND. In
order to produce a community of feeling, and maintain a growing
interest in each other's society, both parties must possess minds well
stored with useful knowledge, and capable of continued expansion. We may
love an ignorant person for his piety; but we cannot long enjoy his
society, as a constant companion, unless that piety is mingled with
intelligence. To secure your esteem, as well as your affections, he must
be capable of intelligent conversation on all subjects of general
interest.

4. _His sentiments and feelings on general subjects must be_ CONGENIAL
_with your own._ This is a very important matter. Persons of great
worth, whose views and feelings, in relation to the common concerns of
life are opposite, may render each other very unhappy. Particularly, if
you possess a refined sensibility yourself, you must look for delicacy
of feeling in a companion. A very worthy man may render you unhappy, by
an habitual disregard of your feelings. And there are many persons who
seem to be utterly insensible to the tender emotions of refined
delicacy. A man who would subject you to continual mortification by his
coarseness and vulgarity, would be incapable of sympathizing with you in
all the varied trials of life. There is no need of your being deceived
on this point. If you have much delicacy of feeling yourself, you can
easily discover the want of it in others. If you have not, it will not
be necessary in a companion.

5. _Another requisite is_ ENERGY OF CHARACTER. Most people think some
worldly prospects are indispensably necessary. But a man of energy can,
by the blessing of God, make his way through this world, and support a
family, in this land of plenty, by his own industry, in some lawful
calling. And you may be certain of the blessing of God, if you obey and
trust him. A profession or calling, pursued with energy, is therefore
all the estate you need require. But do not trust yourself with a man
who is inefficient in all his undertakings. This would be leaning upon a
broken staff.

6. _The person of your choice must be_ NEARLY OF YOUR OWN AGE. Should
he be younger than yourself you will be tempted to look upon him as an
inferior; and old age will overtake you first. I should suppose the idea
of marrying a man advanced in years would be sufficiently revolting to
the feelings of a young female to deter her from it. Yet such things
often happen. But I consider it as contravening the order of nature, and
therefore improper. In such case, you will be called upon rather to
perform the office of a daughter and nurse, than a wife.


SECOND CLASS.

1. _It is desirable that the man with whom you form a connection for
life should possess a_ SOUND BODY. A man of vigorous constitution will
be more capable of struggling with the difficulties and trials of this
world, than one who is weak in body. Yet, such an erroneous system has
been pursued, in the education of the generation just now coming upon
the stage of action, that the health of very few sedentary persons
remains unimpaired. It would, therefore, be cruel selfishness to refuse
to form a connection of this kind, on this ground alone, provided they
have no settled disease upon them. A person of feeble constitution
requires the comfort and assistance of a companion, more than one in
vigorous health. But, it certainly would not be your duty to throw
yourself away upon a person already under the influence of an incurable
disease.

2. REFINEMENT OF MANNERS _is a very desirable quality in a companion for
life._ This renders a person's society more agreeable and pleasant, and
may be the means of increasing his usefulness. Yet it will not answer to
make it a test of character; for it is often the case, that men of the
brightest talents, and of extensive education, who are in every other
respect amiable and worthy, have neglected the cultivation of their
manners; while there are very many, destitute alike of talent and
education, who seem to be adepts in the art of politeness. However,
this may be cultivated. A person of good sense, who appreciates its
importance, may soon acquire a courteous and pleasing address, by
mingling with refined society.

3. A SOUND JUDGMENT is also very necessary, to enable a man to direct
the common affairs of life. However, this may also be cultivated by
experience, and therefore cannot be called indispensable.

4. PRUDENCE _is very desirable._ The rashest youth, however, will learn
prudence by experience. After a few falls, he will look forward before
he steps that he may foresee and shun the evil that is before him; but,
if you choose such a one, take care that you do not fall with him, and
both of you break your necks together.

5. It is a matter of great importance that the person with whom you form
a connection for life, should belong to the same denomination of
Christians with yourself. The separation of a family, in their
attendance upon public worship, is productive of great inconvenience and
perplexity; and there is serious danger of its giving rise to unpleasant
feelings, and becoming an occasion of discord. I think it should be a
very serious objection against any man, that he belongs to a different
communion from yourself. Yet, I dare not say that I would prefer single
life to a connection of this kind.

In addition to these, your own good sense and taste will suggest many
other desirable qualities in a companion for life.

Upon receiving the addresses of a man, your first object should be to
ascertain whether he possesses those prominent traits of character which
you consider indispensable. If he lack any one of these, you have no
further inquiry to make. Inform him openly and ingenuously of your
decision; but spare his feelings as far as you can consistently with
Christian sincerity. He is entitled to your gratitude for the preference
he has manifested for yourself. Therefore, treat him courteously and
tenderly; yet let him understand that your decision is conclusive and
final. If he possess only the feelings of a gentleman, this course will
secure for you his esteem and friendship. But if you are satisfied, with
respect to these prominent traits of character, next look for those
qualities which you consider _desirable_, though not _indispensable_. If
you discover few or none of these, it will be a serious objection
against him. But you need not expect to find them all combined in any
one person. If you seek for a perfect character, you will be
disappointed. In this as well as every other relation of life, you will
need to exercise forbearance. The best of men are compassed about with
imperfection and infirmity. Besides, as you are not perfect yourself, it
would seem like a species of injustice to require perfection in a
companion.

While deciding these points, keep your feelings entirely under control.
Suffer them to have no influence upon your judgment. A Christian should
never be governed by impulse. Many persons have, no doubt, destroyed
their happiness for life, by suffering their feelings to get the better
of their judgment. Make the matter a subject of daily prayer. The Lord
directs all our ways, and we cannot expect to be prospered in anything,
wherein we neglect to acknowledge him, and seek his direction. But, when
you have satisfied yourself, in relation to these things, and the person
whose addresses you are receiving has distinctly avowed his intentions,
you may remove the restraint from your feelings; which, as well as your
judgment, have a deep concern in the affair. A happy and prosperous
union must have for its basis a mutual sentiment of affection, of a
peculiar kind. If you are satisfied that this sentiment exists on his
part, you are to inquire whether you can exercise it towards him. For,
with many persons of great worth, whom we highly esteem, there is often
wanting a certain undefinable combination of qualities, not improperly
termed the _soul of character_; which alone seems to call out the
exercise of that peculiar sentiment of which we are speaking. But I
seriously charge you never to form a connection which is not based upon
this principle; and that, for the following reasons:

1. Such depraved creatures as we are, need the aid of the warmest
affection, to enable us to exercise that mutual forbearance, so
indispensable to the peace and happiness of the domestic circle.

2. That the marriage covenant should be cemented by a principle of a
peculiar kind, will appear from the superiority of the soul over the
body. When two human beings unite their destinies, there must be a union
of soul, or else such union is but partial. And the union of soul must
be the foundation of the outward union, and of course precede it.

3. We may infer the same thing from the existence of such a principle in
the human breast. That it does exist, may be abundantly proved, both by
Scripture and experience. When Adam first saw Eve, he declared the
nature of this union, and added, "For this cause shall a man leave his
father and mother, and cleave unto his wife;" implying that the
affection between the parties to this connection, should be superior to
all other human attachments. The frown of God must then rest upon a
union founded upon any other principle; for by it the order of nature is
contravened, and therefore the blessings of peace and happiness cannot
be expected to attend it.

However, love is not a principle which is brought into existence as it
were by magic. It must always be exercised in view of an object. Do not,
therefore, hastily decide that you cannot love a man who possesses the
prominent traits of character necessary to render you happy. However, be
fully satisfied that such a sentiment of a permanent character, does
really exist in your own bosom, before you consent to a union.

In your ordinary intercourse with gentlemen, much caution should be
observed. Always maintain a dignity of character, and never condescend
to trifle. In your conversation, however, upon general subjects, you
may exercise the same sociability and freedom which you would with
ladies; not seeming to be sensible of any difference of sex. Indignantly
repel any improper liberties; but never decline attentions which are
considered as belonging to the rules of common politeness, unless there
should be something in the character of the individual which would
justify you in wishing wholly to avoid his society. Some men are so
disagreeable in their attentions, and so obtrusive of their company,
that they become a great annoyance to ladies. I think the latter
justifiable in refusing the attentions of such men, till they learn
better manners. Pay the strictest regard to propriety and delicacy, in
all your conduct; yet do not maintain such a cold reserve and chilling
distance, as to produce the impression in the mind of every one you
meet, that you dislike his society. No gentleman of refined and delicate
feelings, will intrude his company upon ladies, when he thinks it is not
desired; and you may create this impression, by carrying the rules of
propriety to the extreme of reserve. But the contrary extreme, of
manifesting an excessive fondness for the society of gentlemen, is still
more to be avoided. By cultivating an acute sense of propriety in all
things, with a nice discrimination of judgment, you will be able
generally to direct your conduct aright in these matters.

Never indulge feelings of partiality for any man until he has distinctly
avowed his own sentiments, and you have deliberately determined the
several points already mentioned. If you do you may subject yourself to
much needless disquietude, and perhaps the most unpleasant
disappointments. And the wounded feeling thus produced, may have an
injurious effect upon your subsequent character and happiness.

I shall close this letter with a few brief remarks, of a general nature.

1. Do not suffer this subject to occupy a very prominent place in your
thoughts. To be constantly ruminating upon it, can hardly fail of
exerting an injurious influence upon your mind, feelings, and
deportment; and you will be almost certain to betray yourself, in the
society of gentlemen, and, perhaps, become the subject of merriment, as
one who is anxious for a husband.

2. Do not make this a subject of common conversation. There is, perhaps,
nothing which has a stronger tendency to deteriorate the social
intercourse of young people than the disposition to give the subject of
matrimonial alliances so prominent a place in their conversation, and to
make it a matter of jesting and mirth. There are other subjects enough,
in the wide fields of science, literature, and religion, to occupy the
social hour, both profitably and pleasantly; and a dignified reserve on
this subject will protect you from rudeness, which you will be very
likely to encounter, if you indulge in jesting and raillery in regard to
it.

3. Do not speak of your own private affairs of this kind, so as to have
them become the subject of conversation among the circle of your
acquaintances. It certainly does not add to the esteem of a young lady,
among sensible people, for her to be heard talking about her beaux.
Especially is this caution necessary in the case of a matrimonial
engagement. Remember the old adage:

  "There's many a slip
  Between the cup and the lip;"

and consider how your feelings would be mortified, if, after making such
an engagement generally known among your acquaintances, anything should
occur to break it off. In such case, you will have wounded feeling
enough to struggle with, without the additional pain of having the
affair become a neighborhood talk.

4. Do not make an engagement a long time before you expect it to be
consummated. Such engagements are surrounded with peril. A few years may
make such changes in the characters and feelings of young persons as to
destroy the fitness and congeniality of the parties; while, if the union
had been consummated, they would have assimilated to each other.

In short, let me entreat you to cultivate the most delicate sense of
propriety in regard to everything having the most distant relation to
this matter; and let all your feelings, conversation, and conduct, be
regulated upon the most elevated principles of purity, refinement, and
religion; but do not carry your delicacy and reserve to the extreme of
_prudery_, which is an unlovely trait of character, and which adds
nothing to the strength of virtue.

                                  Your affectionate Brother.




LETTER XIX.

_Submission to the Will of God; Dependence upon Him for Temporal Things,
and Contentment under all Circumstances._

    "Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content."--1 TIM.
    6:8.


MY DEAR SISTER,

The secret of all true happiness lies in a cordial acquiescence in the
will of God in all things. It is

  "Sweet to lie passive in his hand,
  And know no will but his."

The great doctrine that God exercises a particular providence over every
event, is most precious to the heart of every Christian. It enables him
to see the hand of God, in directing all his affairs. Hence, the
exceeding sinfulness of a repining, discontented, and unhappy temper.
Indeed, it is difficult to reconcile the habitual indulgence of such a
disposition with the existence of grace in the heart. The very first
emotion of the new-born soul is _submission to the will of God._ Many
people lose sight of the hand of God in those little difficulties and
perplexities, which are of every day occurrence, and look only at second
causes. And so they often do in more important matters. When they are
injured or insulted by others, they murmur and complain, and give vent
to their indignation against the immediate causes of their distress;
forgetting that these are only the instruments which God employs for the
trial of their faith or the punishment of their sins. Thus, God
permitted Satan to try the faith of Job. Thus, he permitted Shimei to
curse David. But the answer of this godly man is worthy of being
imitated by all Christians under similar circumstances. "Let him curse,
because the Lord hath said unto him, curse David." Thus, also, the Lord
employed the envy of Joseph's brethren, to save the lives of all his
father's family. "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God
meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much
people alive." The principal reason why the histories of the Bible are
so much more instructive than other histories is, that the motives of
men and the secret agency of divine Providence are brought to light.
Hence, also, the reason why the events recorded in Scripture appear so
marvellous. If we could see how the hand of God is concerned in all
things that occur within our observation, they would appear no less
wonderful.

In this doctrine, we have the strongest possible motive for a hearty and
cheerful resignation to all the crosses and difficulties, trials and
afflictions, which come upon us in this life, whatever may be their
immediate cause. We know that they are directed by our heavenly Father,
whose "tender mercies are over all his works;" and who "doth not afflict
willingly, nor grieve the children of men." And, whether we are
Christians or not, the duty of submission remains the same. When we
consider the relation which man sustains to God, as a guilty rebel
against his government, we must see that, whatever may be our earthly
afflictions, so long as we are out of hell, we are the living monuments
of his mercy. "Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the
punishment of his sins."

But, if we have evidence that we are the children of God, his promises
furnish the most abundant consolation, in every trial. We are assured
"that _all things_ work together for good to them that love God." And of
this we have many examples in the Holy Scriptures, where the darkest
providences have in the end, to be fraught with the richest blessings.
It was so in the case of Joseph, already mentioned. We are also taught
to look upon the afflictions of this life as the faithful corrections of
a kind and tender Parent. "For whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and
scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." How consoling the reflection,
that all our sufferings are designed to mortify and subdue our
corruptions, to wean us from the world, and lead us to a more humble and
constant sense of our dependence upon God. Besides, the people of God
have the most comforting assurances of his presence, in affliction, if
they will but trust in him. "_In all thy ways acknowledge him_, and he
shall direct thy steps." "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall
sustain thee: _he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved._" "God
is our refuge and strength, _a very present help in trouble_: therefore
will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains
be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and
be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof."
"_The steps of a good man are ordered_ by the Lord; and he delighteth in
his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord
upholdeth him with his hand." O, how ungrateful for a child of God to
repine at the dealings of such a tender and faithful parent! O, the
ingratitude of unbelief! Who can accuse the Lord of unfaithfulness to
the least of his promises? Why, then, should we refuse to trust him,
when the assurances of his watchful care and love are so full, and so
abundant?

We have not only strong ground of confidence in the Lord, under the
pressure of afflictions in general, but we are particularly directed to
look to him for the supply of all our temporal wants. If we have
evidence that we are living members of the body of Christ, growing in
grace and the knowledge of him, we have the most direct and positive
assurances that all things needful for this life shall be supplied. Our
Saviour, after showing the folly of manifesting an anxious concern
about the supply of our temporal wants, since the Lord is so careful in
feeding the fowls of the air, and clothing the lilies and the grass of
the field, says,--"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his
righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." By this,
however, we are not to understand that the Lord will give us every
earthly blessing which we _desire_. We are so short-sighted as often to
wish for things which would prove positively injurious to us. But we are
to understand that he will give us all that he sees best for us. And
surely we ought to be satisfied with this; for he who sees the end from
the beginning must know much better than we what is for our good. The
Scriptures abound with similar promises. "O fear the Lord, ye his
saints; for _there is no want_ to them that fear him. The young lions do
lack and suffer hunger; but they that seek the Lord _shall not want any_
good thing." "Trust in the Lord, and do good, and _verily thou shall be
fed_. I have been young and now am old; yet have I not seen the
righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." "_No good thing will he
withhold_ from them that walk uprightly." "But my God shall _supply all
your need_, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
"Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the _life
that now is_, and of that which is to come." It must, then, be a sinful
distrust of the word of God, to indulge in anxious fears about the
supply of our necessities. If we believed these promises, in their full
extent, we should always rest in them, and never indulge an anxious
thought about the things of this life. This, God requires of us. "And
seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, _neither be ye of
doubtful_ mind." "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat?
or what shall we drink? or wherewithal shall we be clothed?" "Be careful
for nothing." And nothing can be more reasonable than this requirement,
when he has given us such full and repeated assurances that he will
supply all our wants. The silver and the gold, and the cattle upon a
thousand hills, belong to our heavenly Father. When, therefore, he sees
that we need any earthly blessing, he can easily order the means by
which it shall be brought to us.

From the precious truths and promises which we have been considering, we
infer the _duty of contentment_ in every situation of life. If God
directs all our ways, and has promised to give us just what he sees we
need, we surely ought to rest satisfied with what we have; for we know
it is just what the Lord, in his infinite wisdom, and unbounded
goodness, sees fit to give us. But the apostle Paul enforces this duty
with direct precepts. "But godliness _with contentment_, is great gain."
"Having food and raiment, let us be therewith _content_." "_Be content
with such things as ye have_; for he hath said, I will never leave thee,
nor forsake thee." Here he gives the promise of God, as a reason for
contentment. It is, then, evidently the duty of every Christian to
maintain a contented and cheerful spirit, under all circumstances. This,
however, does not forbid the use of all lawful and proper means to
improve our condition. But the means must be used with entire submission
to the will of God. The child of God should cast all his care and burden
upon him; and when he has made all suitable efforts to accomplish what
he considers a good object, he must commit the whole to the Lord, with a
perfect willingness that his will should be done, even to the utter
disappointment of his own hopes.

                                  Your affectionate Brother.




LETTER XX.

_Self-Examination._

    "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith: prove your own
    selves."--2 COR. 13:6.


MY DEAR SISTER,

In view of the positive injunction of Scripture, above quoted, no
argument is necessary to show that self-examination is a duty. But if
the word of God had been silent upon the subject, the importance of
self-knowledge would have been a sufficient motive for searching into
the secret springs of action which influence our conduct. A person
ignorant of his own heart, is like a merchant, who knows not the state
of his accounts, while every day liable to become a bankrupt; or, like
the crew of a leaky vessel, who are insensible to their danger. The
professed follower of Christ, who knows not whether he is a true or
false disciple, is in a condition no less dangerous. And, as the heart
is deceitful _above all things_, it becomes a matter of the utmost
importance that we should _certainly know_ that we are the children of
God. Although we may be Christians, without the assurance of our
adoption, yet we are taught in the Holy Scriptures, that such assurance
is attainable. Job, in the midst of his affliction, experienced its
comforting support. "I _know_," says he, "that my Redeemer liveth."
David says with confidence, "I _shall_ be satisfied, when I awake with
thy likeness." Paul also expresses the same assurance. "I _know_ whom I
have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I
have committed unto him against that day." All Christians are taught to
expect the same, and exhorted to strive after it. "And we desire that
_every one of you_, do show the same diligence to _the full assurance of
hope_, unto the end." "Let us draw near with a true heart, in _full
assurance of faith_." "Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have
we _confidence_ toward God." "He that believeth on the Son of God hath
the witness in himself." "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage
again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we
cry, Abba Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit,
that we are the children of God." "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God,
whereby ye are _sealed_ unto the day of redemption."

But, as gold dust is sometimes concealed in the sand, so grace in the
heart may be mingled with remaining corruption, so that we cannot
clearly distinguish its motions. It might not be for the benefit of a
person of such low attainments in the divine life, to receive an
assurance of God's favor, until these corruptions have been so far
subdued, as to give the principle of grace an ascendency over all the
faculties of the soul. Hence God has wisely directed that the sure
evidence of adoption can be possessed only by those who have made such
eminent progress in holiness, as to be able to discern the fruits of the
Spirit in their hearts and lives. The _witness of the Spirit_ must not
be sought in any sudden impulses upon the mind; but in the real work of
grace in the heart, conforming it to the image of God. Even if God
should indulge us with such impulses or impressions, they would not be
certain evidence of our adoption; because Satan can counterfeit the
brightest experiences of this kind. Hence, we may account for the
_strong confidence_ which is sometimes expressed by young converts, who
afterwards fall away. But when the image of God can be seen in our
hearts and lives, we may be _certain_ that we are his children. That
this is the true witness of the Spirit, maybe inferred from the passage
last quoted. When this epistle was written, it was the custom of princes
to have their names and images stamped upon their seals. These seals,
when used, would leave the impression of the name and image of their
owners upon the wax. So, when God sets his seal upon the hearts of his
children, it leaves an impression of his name and image. The same thing
may be intended in Revelation, where Jesus promises to give him that
overcometh "a white stone, and in the stone a _new name_ written." A
figure somewhat similar is also used in the third chapter of Malachi.
Speaking of the Messiah, the prophet says, "He shall sit as a refiner
and purifier of silver." A refiner of silver sits over the fire, with
his eye steadily fixed upon the precious metal in the crucible, until he
sees _his own image_ in it, as we see our faces in the glass. So the
Lord will carry on his purifying work in the hearts of his children,
till he sees his own image there. When this image is so plain and clear
as to be distinctly discerned by us, then the Spirit of God bears
witness with our spirits, that we are his children. As _love_ is the
most prominent and abiding fruit of the Spirit, it may be the medium
through which the union between God and the soul is seen; and by which
the child of God is assured of his adoption. A strong and lively
exercise of a childlike, humble love, may give a clear evidence of the
soul's relation to God, as his child. "Love is of God, and every one
that loveth, is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not,
knoweth not God, for _God is love_." As God is love, the exercise of
that holy principle in the heart of the believer shows the impression of
the divine image. "God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth
in God, and God in him." Hence the apostle John says, "We _know_ that we
have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." But, if
this love is genuine, it will regulate the emotions of the heart, and
its effects will be visible in the lives of those who possess it. The
same apostle says, "By this we know that we love the children of God,
when we love God and _keep his commandments_." So that in order to have
certain evidence of our adoption into the blessed family, of which Jesus
is the Elder Brother, all the fruits of the Spirit must have grown up
to some degree of maturity.

From the foregoing remarks, we see the great importance of
_self-examination_. We must have an intimate acquaintance with the
operations of our own minds, to enable us to distinguish between the
exercise of gracious affections and the selfish workings of our own
hearts. And, unless we are in the constant habit of diligent inquiry
into the character of our emotions, and the motives of our actions, this
will be an exceedingly difficult matter. The Scriptures specify several
objects for which this inquiry should be instituted:

I. _To discover our sins, that we may come to Christ for pardon, and for
grace to subdue them._ David prays, "Search me, O God, and know my
heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and _see if there be any wicked way
in me_, and lead me in the way everlasting." The prophet Jeremiah says,
"Let us search and try our ways, and _turn again_ unto the Lord." This
examination should be a constant work. We should search into the motives
of every action, and thoroughly examine every religious feeling, to
know, if possible, whether it comes from the Spirit of God, or whether
it is a fire of our own kindling. We must be cautious, however, lest, by
diverting our attention from the truth, to examine the nature of the
emotions produced by it, we should lose them altogether. This can better
be determined afterward, by recalling to recollection these emotions,
and the causes which produced them. If they were called forth by correct
views of truth, and if they correspond in their nature with the
descriptions of gracious affections contained in the Bible, we may
safely conclude them to be genuine.

But, as we are often under the necessity of acting without much
deliberation; as we are so liable to neglect duty; and as every duty is
marred by so much imperfection, it is not only proper, but highly
necessary, that we should have stated seasons for retiring into our
closets, and calmly and deliberately reviewing our conduct, our
religious exercises, and the prevailing state of our hearts, and
comparing them with the Word of God. There are two very important
reasons why this work should be performed at the close of every day. 1.
If neglected for a longer period, we may forget both our actions and our
motives. It will be very difficult for us afterwards to recall them, so
as to subject them to a thorough examination. 2. There is a great
propriety in closing up the accounts of every day. "Sufficient unto the
day is the evil thereof." Every day will bring with it work enough for
repentance. Again, when we lie down, we may awake in eternity. What then
will become of those sins which we have laid by for the consideration of
another day? Let us, then, never give sleep to our eyes till we have
searched out every sin of the past day, and made fresh application to
the blood of Christ for pardon. I know this is a very difficult work;
but, by frequent practice, it will become less so. I have prepared
several sets of questions, from which you may derive some aid in the
performance of this duty. By sitting down in your closet, after
finishing the duties of the day, and seriously and prayerfully engaging
in this exercise, you may try your conduct and feelings by the rules
laid down in the Word of God. You may thus bring to remembrance the
exercises of your heart, as well as your actions; and be reminded of
neglected duty, and of those great practical truths, which ought ever to
be kept before your mind. You may bring up your sins, and set them in
order before you; and discover your easily besetting sins. You may be
led to exercise penitential sorrow of heart, and be driven anew to the
cross of Christ for pardon, and for strength to subdue indwelling
corruption. Whenever you discover that you have exercised any correct
feeling, or that your conduct has in any respect been conformed to the
word of God, acknowledge with gratitude his grace in it, and give him
the glory. Wherein you find you have been deficient, confess your sin
before God, and apply afresh to the blood of Christ, which "cleanseth
from all sin." But be cautious that you do not put your feelings of
regret, your tears and sorrows, in the place of the great sacrifice.
Remember that no degree of sorrow can atone for sin; and that only is
_godly sorrow_ which leads to the blood of Jesus. Any peace of
conscience, obtained from any other source, must be false peace. It is
_in believing_, only, that we can have _joy and peace_.

You will find advantage from varying this exercise. When we frequently
repeat anything in the same form, we are in danger of acquiring a
careless habit, so that it will lose its effect. Sometimes take the ten
commandments, and examine your actions and motives by them. And, in
doing this, you will find great help from the explanation of the
commandments contained in the Assembly's Shorter Catechism. This shows
their spirituality, and brings them home to the heart. Again, you may
take some portion of Scripture, which contains precepts for the
regulation of our conduct, and compare the actions of the day with them.
Or, you may take the life of Christ as a pattern, compare your conduct
and motives with it, and see whether in all things you have manifested
his spirit.

But do not be satisfied till the exercise, however performed, has taken
hold of the heart, and led to penitence for sin, and a sense of pardon
through the blood of Christ, which accompanies true contrition; for "the
Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be
of a contrite spirit."

I have inserted several sets of questions for every day in the week,
differing in length, to prevent monotony, and to accommodate those
occasions when you have more or less time.


QUESTIONS FOR SATURDAY EVENING.

How was my heart improved by the last Sabbath? How have I since improved
the impressions I then received? What vows did I then make? How have I
performed them? What progress have I made in the divine life? What
conquests have I made by the grace of God over sin? What temptations
have I encountered? What victories have I gained? What falls have I
suffered? What lessons have I learned by them? What improvement have I
made in divine knowledge? What good have I done? What was my frame of
mind, on Monday, Tuesday, &c. (specifying and considering each day by
itself.) What meetings have I attended? How was my heart affected by
them? What business have I done? Was it all performed to the glory of
God? Do I now hail the approach of the Sabbath with delight? Or do I
indulge a secret regret that my worldly schemes should be interrupted by
this hallowed season of rest?


QUESTIONS FOR SABBATH EVENINGS.

Did I yesterday make all needful preparations for the holy Sabbath? What
was my frame of mind, on retiring to rest, at the close of the week?
When I awoke, on this holy morning, towards what were my first thoughts
directed? How did I begin the day? What public or private duties have I
neglected? What has been my general frame of mind this day? With what
preparation did I go to the sanctuary? How were my thoughts occupied on
the way? What were my feelings, on entering the house of God? What was
my general frame of mind, while there? What my manner? Have I felt any
sensible delight in the exercises of public worship? With what feelings
did I join the devotional exercises of singing and prayer? In what
character did I view the preacher? As whose message did I receive the
word? For whom did I hear--for myself, or for others? Was the word mixed
with faith? How much prayer did I mingle with hearing? What evidence
have I that it was attended by the Holy Spirit to my heart I Did I
indulge wandering thoughts, in any part of the public services? How
much progress have I made, in overcoming these heart-wanderings? How
were my thoughts occupied on my return from public worship? [With what
preparation did I go to the Sabbath-school? When I went before my class,
what were my feelings in regard to their souls, and my own
responsibility? How was my own heart affected with the truths contained
in the lesson? What direct efforts have I made for their conversion?
What general efforts to impress their minds with the truth? What prayers
have I offered in their behalf? What have been my motives for desiring
their conversion?] How much time have I spent this day in my closet?
What have been my feelings in prayer? What in reading God's word? What
in meditation? Have I felt and acknowledged my dependence upon the Holy
Spirit for every right exercise of heart? What discoveries have I had of
my own guilt and helplessness, and my need of a Saviour? How has Jesus
appeared to me? What communion have I enjoyed with God? How have I felt,
in view of my sins, and of God's goodness to me? What have been my
feelings, on coming anew to the cross of Christ? Have I, at any time
this day, indulged vain or worldly thoughts? Have I sought my own ease
or pleasure? Have I engaged in worldly or unprofitable conversation? Do
I now feel my soul refreshed, and my strength renewed, for the Christian
warfare?


QUESTIONS TO BE USED IN SELF-EXAMINATION AT THE CLOSE OF EVERY DAY IN
THE WEEK.


I.

_To be used when time is very limited._

With what feelings did I compose myself to sleep last night? How were my
thoughts employed during the wakeful hours of the night? What were my
feelings on awaking? How did I begin the day? With what feelings and
spirit have I engaged in the various devotions of the day? How have I
enjoyed my hours of leisure? How have I performed the business of the
day? What has been the spirit of my intercourse with others? What errors
or what sins have I committed, in thought, word, or deed? What spiritual
affections have I experienced, and what has been their effect upon me
since? Have I made any _progress_ in the Christian race?


II.

_To be used on ordinary occasions._

With what frame of spirit did I close the last day? Upon what were my
thoughts occupied during the wakeful hours of the night? What were my
first emotions, as I awoke this morning? How did I begin the day? What
communion have I held with God, in secret, this day? For whom have I
lived? What has been my frame of spirit, while engaged in the
employments of the day? What tempers have I exercised, in my intercourse
with others? What temptations have I encountered? What has been the
result? What conflicts have I had with my own corruptions? What progress
have I made in subduing them? What trials have I experienced? How have I
borne them? Have I felt my dependence upon God for everything? Have I
indulged undue anxiety about the affairs of this world? Have I murmured
at the dispensations of Providence? Have I indulged self-complacency or
self-seeking? What views have I had of myself? How did they affect me?
What discoveries have I made of the divine character? How have I been
affected by them? Have I felt any longing desires after conformity to
the divine image? How has my heart been affected with my short-comings
in obedience and duty? Has this driven me to Christ? Have I found pardon
and peace in him? What sense of the divine presence have I maintained
through the day? What spirit of prayer have I exercised this day? What
has been the burden of my petitions? Why have I desired these things?
How constant and how strong have been these desires? How often and how
fervently have I carried them to the throne of grace? How have I felt in
regard to the interests of Zion, the salvation of souls, and the glory
of God? How have I felt towards my Christian brethren? Have I spoken
evil of any, or listened with complacency to evil speaking? Have I
exercised harshness, or an unforgiving temper, towards any? What have I
done for the glory of God, or the good of my fellow-creatures? Have I
watched over my heart, my tongue, and my actions? Have I maintained
spirituality of mind through the day?


III.

_Dr. Doddridge's Questions._

"Did I awake as with God this morning, and rise with a grateful sense of
his goodness? How were the secret devotions of the morning performed?
Did I offer my solemn praises, and renew the dedication of myself to
God, with becoming attention and suitable affections? Did I lay my
scheme for the business of the day wisely and well? How did I read the
Scriptures, or any other devotional or practical piece which I
afterwards found it convenient to review? Did it do my heart good, or
was it a mere amusement? How have the other stated devotions of the day
been attended, whether in the family or in public? Have I pursued the
common business of the day with diligence and spirituality, doing
everything in season, and with all convenient despatch, and as 'unto the
Lord?' Col. 3:23. What time have I lost this day, in the morning, or the
forenoon--in the afternoon, or the evening? (for these divisions will
assist your recollection;) and what has occasioned the loss of it? With
what temper, and under what regulations, have the recreations of this
day been pursued? Have I seen the hand of God in my mercies, health,
cheerfulness, food, clothing, books, preservation in journeys, success
of business, conversation, and kindness of friends, &c.? Have I seen it
in afflictions, and particularly in little things, which had a tendency
to vex and disquiet me? Have I received my comforts thankfully, and my
afflictions submissively? How have I guarded against the temptations of
the day, particularly against this or that temptation, which I foresaw
in the morning? Have I maintained a dependence on divine influence? Have
I 'lived by faith on the Son of God,' (Gal. 2:20,) and regarded Christ
this day as my teacher and governor, my atonement and intercessor, my
example and guardian, my strength and forerunner? Have I been looking
forward to death and eternity this day, and considered myself as a
probationer for heaven, and, through grace, an expectant of it? Have I
governed my thoughts well, especially in such or such an interval of
solitude? How was my subject of thought this day chosen, and how was it
regarded? Have I governed my discourses well, in such and such company?
Did I say nothing passionate, mischievous, slanderous, imprudent,
impertinent? Has my heart this day been full of love to God, and to all
mankind? and have I sought, and found, and improved, opportunities of
doing and getting good? With what attention and improvement have I read
the Scriptures this evening? How was self-examination performed the last
night? and how have I profited this day by any remarks I then made on
former negligences and mistakes? With what temper did I then lie down
and compose myself to sleep?"


IV.

_To be used when you have more time than usual._

Did I last night compose myself to sleep with a sweet sense of the
divine presence? Did I meditate upon divine things in the wakeful hours
of the night? When I awoke this morning, did my heart rise up with
gratitude to my merciful Preserver? Did I remember that I am indebted
for life, and health, and every enjoyment, to the sufferings and death
of my dear Redeemer? Did I renewedly consecrate my spared life to his
service? And have I lived this day for God, and not for myself? Have I
denied self, whenever it has come between me and duty? Have I indulged a
self-seeking spirit? Have I refused to make any personal sacrifice,
whereby I might glorify God, or do good to others? Has my heart been
affected with any discoveries of the infinite loveliness of the divine
perfections? Have I had a view of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and
the corruptions of my own heart in particular? Has this driven me from
resting upon anything in myself, to put my trust alone in Christ? Have I
felt any longing desires after conformity to the divine image? Have I
felt any delight in the law of God? Has my heart been grieved to see
that I fall so far short of keeping it? Has my soul been filled with joy
and peace in believing in Christ? Have I felt a lively sense of the
divine presence continually? Have I maintained a cheerful, serene, and
peaceful temper of heart?

Have I studied the word of God with an earnest desire to know present
duty? Have I neglected or delayed to perform any duty when it has been
made known? Have I felt that God was speaking _to me_ through his word?
Have I sought the aid of the Holy Spirit? Have I read God's word with a
prayerful spirit? Have I read it with self-application? Have I felt any
sensible delight while reading it?

Have I spent any time in heavenly meditation? Was this exercise
performed in a prayerful spirit? Did the truth I was contemplating
deeply affect my own heart? Have my thoughts been habitually directed
towards heavenly things?

Have I observed my regular seasons of prayer? Has my frame of spirit
been, lively, and my thoughts collected, in this exercise? Have I felt
my dependence upon the Spirit of God? Have I earnestly and sincerely
desired the things for which I have asked? Have I desired them for the
glory of God, or for the gratification of myself? Have I _laid hold_ of
the promises of God? Have I maintained a constant spirit of prayer? Have
I sent up frequent ejaculations to God? In all my approaches to the
throne of grace, have I come with a suitable preparation of heart? Has a
sense of the divine presence filled me with holy awe and reverence? Has
my heart been drawn out to God with filial affection and humble
confidence, through Jesus the Mediator? Have I felt my need? Have I
humbled myself low before God? Have I not regarded iniquity in my heart?
Have I felt an humble submission to the will of God?

Have I watched over my heart continually, against the temptations of
Satan? Have I indulged wandering thoughts, during any of the devotional
exercises of the closet? Have I watched over my fancy, and kept under my
imagination? or have I suffered it to wander without control?

Have I exercised a proper control over all my appetites, desires, and
passions? Have I used all diligence to improve my mind, that I might be
capable of doing more for the glory of God, and the good of my
fellow-creatures? Have I sought the aid of the Holy Spirit in this,
also? Have I felt continually that my time is not my own? Have I
employed every moment of the past day in the most profitable manner?
Have I felt the pressure of present obligation?

Have I neglected any opportunity of doing good, either to the souls or
bodies of others? Have I been modest, unobtrusive, and courteous, in all
I have done and said? Have I been prudent and discreet in all things?
Have I first sought the direction of God, and then entered upon these
duties in a spirit of prayer?

Have I glorified God in my dress? Have I been influenced, in this
respect, by the pride of appearance? Have I wasted any time at the
toilet?

Have I felt any emotions of love for Christians? Has this love arisen
from the image of Christ manifest in them; or from their friendship for
me, and the comfort I have enjoyed in their society? Have I refused to
make personal sacrifices for their benefit? Have I felt any love for the
souls of sinners? What has this led me to do for their conversion? Have
I exercised any feelings of compassion for the needy? What has this led
me to do for them?

Have I manifested a morose, sour, and jealous disposition towards
others? Have I been easily provoked? Have I been irritated with the
slightest offences or crosses of my will? Have I indulged an angry,
fretful, peevish temper? Have I spoken evil of any, or listened with
complacency to evil-speaking? Do I now harbor ill-will towards any being
on earth? In all my intercourse with others, have I manifested a
softness and mildness of manner, and a kind and tender tone of feeling?
Or have I indulged in harshness and severity, pride and arrogance? Have
I exercised forbearance towards the faults of others? Have I from my
heart forgiven them? Have I esteemed myself better than others? Have I
felt the secret workings of spiritual pride? Have I engaged in trifling
and vain conversation, or in any other manner conformed to the spirit of
the world? Have I maintained Christian sincerity in all things? When in
company, have I improved every opportunity of giving a profitable
direction to conversation? Have I improved every opportunity to warn
impenitent sinners? Have I gone into company, without first visiting my
closet? Have I been diligent and faithful in the business of the day?
Have I done the same to others as I would wish them to do to me?

II. _Another object of self-examination may be, to ascertain the reason
why the Lord does not answer our prayers._ This reason may generally be
found in ourselves. I know of but two exceptions. One is, when the thing
we ask is not agreeable to the will of God. The other is, when the Lord
delays to answer our prayers for the trial of our faith. The obstacles
which exist in ourselves, to prevent him from granting our requests, are
generally some of the following:--1. We may be living in the practice of
some sin, or the neglect of some duty. "If I regard iniquity in my
heart," says the Psalmist, "the Lord will not hear me." "He that turneth
away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be
abomination." We may weep day and night, on our knees, before God, all
our lives; yet if we are living in the habitual neglect of duty, or if
any sin cleaves to us, for which we have not exercised repentance, and
faith in the atoning blood of Christ, he will not hear our prayers. 2.
We may not be sufficiently humble before God. "Though the Lord be high,
yet hath he respect unto the lowly; _but the proud he knoweth afar
off_;" "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."
"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."
"Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble
himself shall be exalted." Hence, if our hearts are proud, and we refuse
to humble ourselves deeply before God, he will not answer our prayers.
3. We may not desire the things we ask, that God may be glorified, but
that it may minister to our own gratification. "Ye ask, and receive not,
because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." When we
ask with such motives, we have no right to expect that God will hear our
prayers. 4. We may not be asking in faith. "But let him ask in faith,
nothing wavering. For he that wavereth, is like a wave of the sea,
driven with the wind and tossed. For _let not that man think that he
shall receive_ anything of the Lord." "Without faith, it is impossible
to please God." 5. We may be exercising an unforgiving-temper; and, if
so, the Lord has declared that he will not hear our prayers. Mark 11:25,
26. Mat. 18:35.

When, therefore, you have been for some time praying for any particular
object without receiving an answer, carefully examine yourself, with
reference to these points; and wherein you find yourself deficient,
endeavor, in the strength of Christ, immediately to reform. If your
circumstances will permit, set apart a day of fasting and prayer for
this object. And, if the answer is still delayed, repeat the
examination, until you are certain that you have complied with all the
conditions of the promises.

III. _Another object of self-examination is, to ascertain the cause of
afflictions, whether spiritual or temporal._ If the Lord sends distress
upon us, or hides from us the light of his countenance, he has some good
reason for it. By reading the book of Haggai, you will discover the
principles upon which God deals with his people. If, therefore, the work
of your hands does not prosper, or, if the Lord has withdrawn from you
his special presence, be sure that something is wrong; it is time for
you to "consider your ways." In this book the Lord informs the Jews of
the cause of their poverty and distress. They had not built the house of
God. He also tells them that the silver and the gold are his; and that
he will bless them as soon as they do their duty. We are as dependent
upon God's blessing now as his people were then. If we withhold from him
what he requires of us for advancing the interests of his kingdom, can
we expect temporal prosperity? If we refuse to do our duty, can we
expect his presence? These, then, should be the subjects of inquiry,
under such circumstances. In such cases, also, it may be very proper to
observe a day of fasting and prayer.

IV. _Another object of self-examination is, to know whether we are
Christians._ "Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith." This is a
very important inquiry. It is intimately connected with every other, and
should enter more or less into all. In order to prosecute this inquiry,
you must make yourself thoroughly acquainted with the evidences of
Christian character. These are clearly exhibited in the holy Scriptures.
Study the Bible diligently for this purpose; and, wherever you discover
a mark of Christian character, inquire whether you possess it. You may
also find benefit from the writings of men of great personal experience,
who have had much opportunity of observing the effects of true and false
religion. In particular, I would recommend to you the careful study of
President Edwards' Treatise on Religious Affections. He was a man of
great piety, who had attained to the _full assurance of hope_. He had
also passed through a number of revivals of religion. The work of which
I speak contains a scriptural view of the evidences of the new birth;
and also points out, with great clearness and discrimination, the marks
of false religion. He distinguishes between those things which may be
common both to true and false religion, and those which are the certain
marks of true conversion.

Self-examination, for this object, should be habitual. In reading the
Bible, in meditation, in hearing the word, wherever you see an evidence
of Christian character, inquire whether you possess it. But this is not
sufficient. You ought frequently to set apart seasons for the solemn and
prayerful consideration of the important question,--"_Am I a
Christian_?" A portion of the Sabbath may be very properly spent in this
way. You should enter upon this work with the solemnities of the
judgment-day before you. The Scriptures furnish abundant matter for
self-examination. Bring the exercises of your heart, and the conduct of
your life, to this unerring standard. You will also find much assistance
in this exercise by the use of the following tracts, published by the
American Tract Society:--No. 21, entitled "A Closet Companion;" No. 146,
entitled "Helps to Self-Examination;" and No. 165, entitled "True and
False Conversions Distinguished;" and likewise from a little work
entitled "Are you a Christian?" by Rev. Hubbard Winslow. You have also
probably noticed several chapters in Doddridge's Rise and Progress,
admirably adapted to this object. I mention these, because it is
advantageous frequently to vary the exercise. The subject of true and
false conversion is continually undergoing discussion; and those who
feel truly anxious to know the foundations upon which they rest will not
fail to avail themselves of every approved treatise on the subject. But,
above all, study the Bible diligently and prayerfully, for the purpose
of ascertaining the genuine marks of saving grace; take time to perform
the work of self-examination thoroughly, bringing to your aid all the
information you can obtain from these sources--varying the exercise, at
different times, that it may not become superficial and formal.

I have also prepared some questions for this purpose, which you will
find below. In these questions, I have not aimed at covering the whole
ground of Christian experience, so much as to bring before the mind, in
connection, some of the most prominent passages of Scripture relating to
the evidences of Christian character. Nor have I taken particular pains
to prevent the questions from involving each other; as we may detect our
deficiencies on the same points the more readily by having them held up
in a variety of views. The chief design of these questions will be lost,
if you do not examine the passages of Scripture referred to. Some of the
traits of character here presented may not be certain evidence of piety;
while, in other cases, a person may be a Christian while possessing the
graces mentioned in a much less _degree_ than they are here represented.
It is not necessary, where time is limited, to go through the whole of
these questions at once; and probably in most cases it will be found
more edifying to take up a portion of them at a time.


AM I A CHRISTIAN?

1. _Let me examine as to my views of Sin._ Have I beheld sin with an
abhorrence far greater than the delight it ever gave me? Has that
abhorrence arisen from an apprehension of the evil consequences to
which it has exposed me, or of its odious nature, and its exceeding
sinfulness as committed against God? Ps. 51:4. Isa. 1:2-4. Have I had a
full apprehension of my own exceeding sinfulness? Ps. 51:4. Isa. 1:5, 6.
Eph. 2:1-3. Have I felt my sins to be an insupportable burden? Ps.
38:2-7. Have I ceased attempting to justify myself? Job 40:4. Luke
18:11-14. Have I utterly despaired of all help from myself? Rom. 3:20.
Have I abandoned all attempts to establish my own righteousness, by
resolutions of amendment and future obedience? Rom. 9:32. 10:3. Have I
exercised sincere and heartfelt sorrow on account of my sins? Ps. 38:17,
18. Has this been the sorrow of the world which worketh death? 2 Cor.
7:10, l.c. 2 Sam. 17:23. Matt. 27:3-5. Acts 8:24. Or has it been godly
sorrow, which worketh repentance not to be repented of? 2 Cor. 7:9-11.
Has my heart been broken, contrite, and humble, under a sense of my sins
against God? Ps. 34:18. 51:17. Isa. 57:15. Has this sense of sin emptied
me of myself, and begotten a deep poverty of spirit? Isa. 66:2. Matt.
5:3. Has it led me to feel my unworthiness of God's favor? Gen. 32:10.
Luke 15:19. 18:13, 14. Have I been filled with shame and self-loathing,
on account of the exceeding greatness of my sin, considered under a view
of the infinite purity and awful majesty of the great Jehovah, against
whom it has been committed? Ezra 9:6. Job 42:1-6. Jer. 31:19. Ezek.
16:63.

2. _As to my views of the government of God._ Do I acquiesce in the
government of God as a most wise, most just, and most righteous
government? Rev. 15:3, 4. Do I cordially, cheerfully, and without
reserve, yield myself, as a moral and accountable being, to the
authority of God, as the moral Governor of the universe? Rom. 6:13.
12:1. Do I feel no reserve in my heart, making first the condition that
I may be saved? Do I humbly acquiesce in the justice of God, in the
eternal punishment of the wicked? Do I include myself in this, thereby
"accepting the punishment of my sin"? Levit. 26:40, 41. Am I sure that
this feeling is not produced by the secret consciousness that it is an
evidence of a gracious state? Jer. 17:9. If all hope of salvation were
suddenly taken away from me, would my heart still acquiesce in the
justice of the sentence of condemnation?

3. _As to my faith in Christ._ Have I ceased from my own works, and, as
a heavy-laden sinner, come to Christ for rest? Heb. 4:10. Matt. 11:28.
Have I seen him to be, in all respects, a complete Saviour, just such as
my ruined and lost condition requires? 1 Cor. 1:30. Gal. 3:13. 4:3-5.
Col. 1:19. 2:3, 10. Have I heartily given up all for him? Matt. 10:37.
Luke 14:26, 33. Phil. 3:7-10. Have I cheerfully taken up my cross and
followed him? Luke 14:27. Do I now consider myself as no more my own,
but the Lord's, by the purchase of the Redeemer's blood? 1 Cor. 6:19,
20. Do I therefore make it my constant and highest aim to glorify God
with my body and spirit which are his? 1 Cor. 6:20. 10:31. Have I
through him become dead to sin, but alive to God? Rom. 6:11. Have I
crucified the flesh, with its affections and lusts? Gal. 5:24. Have I
become dead also to the world, not seeking my portion in its riches,
honors, pleasures, or pursuits? Gal. 2:20. 6:14. 1 John 2:15. Have I
utterly despaired of acceptance with God in any other way than by the
mediation of Christ? Acts 4:12. Heb. 10:26, 27. Have I cordially sought
reconciliation with God through the blood of Jesus? Col. 1:20-22. Does
my hope of salvation rest solely and alone in the righteousness and
atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ? Rom. 3:22-26. Do I receive him as my
_Prophet_, submitting my will entirely to the teachings of his word and
Spirit? Deut. 18:15. Heb. 1:1, 2. 2:1-3. Do I receive him in his office
of _Priest_, trusting in the atonement he has made, and committing my
case to him, that he may intercede for me, before the offended Majesty
of heaven? Heb. 4:14, 15. 7:26, 8:1, 9:11, 12, 24, 25. With humble
confidence in his intercession, do I come boldly to the throne of grace?
Heb. 4:16. Do I cordially submit to him in his office of _King_? Ps.
2:6. 45:1. Isa. 9:6, l.c. Acts 5:31. Do I yield my heart unreservedly to
his authority, making it my constant aim to bring into captivity every
thought and action to the obedience of Christ? Matt. 11:29, 30. John
15:14. Rom. 6:16. 2 Cor. 10:5. Whenever I fall into sin, do I seek to
ease my conscience by reformation and forgetfulness, or do I apply
afresh to Christ, as the only propitiation for sin? 1 John 2:1, 2. Do I
find peace of conscience and spiritual joy in believing in Jesus? Rom.
5:1. 8:1. 14:17. 15:13. 1 Pet. 1:8. Am I united to Christ as the living
branch is to the vine? John 15:1. Do I look to my union with him, as the
branch to the vine, for spiritual nourishment, strength and life? John
15:4. Phil. 2:12, 13. Heb. 13:21. Do I realize the danger of
_self-confidence_? Prov. 28:26. Mark 14:29-31, 68-71. Rom. 11:20. 1 Cor.
10:12. Do I realize to what my union with Christ entitles me? Rom. 8:17.
In view of this union, do I feel a filial spirit of adoption towards God
as _my father_? Ps. 103:13, 14. Rom. 8:15, 16. Gal. 4:4-7. 1 John 3:1,
2. Does this union with Christ lead me to feel a union of spirit with
all his disciples? John 17:21. 1 Cor. 12:12-29. What sympathy does this
lead me to exercise towards them? Rom. 12:15. 1 Cor. 12:26. 1 John 3:17.
Is Christ precious to my soul? 1 Pet. 2:7, f.c. Do I see a moral beauty
and excellence in him above all created intelligences? Ps. 45:1, 2. Ca.
5:9-15. John 1:14. Col. 2:3, 9. Heb. 1:3. How am I affected with the
contemplation of his sufferings for the salvation of my soul? 2 Cor.
5:14, 15.

4. _As to my love to God._ Do I take God for my supreme and eternal
portion? Ps. 16:1-11. 73:25, 26. 119:57. Lam. 3:21. Is he the object of
my highest love? Mark 12:30. Am I willing to relinquish whatever comes
in competition with him as an object of my affection? Mark 10:37-39. Do
I prefer his favor and dread his power above that of all other beings?
Ps. 36:7. 43:3. 89:6-8. Deut. 10:12. Ps. 30:5. 33:8. 88:6-8. Jer. 10:7.
Do I derive comfort in my afflictions by making him my refuge? Ps. 9:9.
57:1. 59:16. Jer. 16:19. When my soul is under the hidings of his
countenance, can I enjoy any other good? Job 29:2-5. Ps. 38:1-10. Do I
experience any ardent longings after his spiritual presence with my
soul? Ps. 42:1, 2. 61:1, 2. Do I feel any earnest desires after
conformity to his image? Matt. 5:6. Rom. 8:29. 1 Cor. 15:49. 2 Cor.
3:18. 4:4. Col. 3:10. Ps. 17:15. Do I delight in the moral law of God,
as a transcript of his holy character? Ps. 37:31. 119:70, 72, 77, 79,
113, 131. Rom. 7:12, 22. Do I feel grieved when I see his law
disregarded? Ps. 119:136, 158. Do I make his will the rule of my life? 1
John 5:3. Do I earnestly strive to bring my heart and life into complete
conformity to his will? Phil. 3:7-14. Do I love his word? Ps. 19:7-11.
119:11, 16, 82, 162, 172. Do I find delight in meditating upon it? Ps.
1:2. 119:148. Do I delight in the ordinances of his house? Ps. 26:8.
36:8. 122:1. 84:10. Do I delight in the Sabbath, anticipating its return
with desire, hailing it with joy, and engaging in its duties with sweet
satisfaction; Isa. 58:13, 14. Do I delight in secret communion with God,
in prayer and praise? Ps. 5:2, 3. 55:16, 17. 88:13. 116:2. 138:1, 2.
146:1, 2. 147:1. 148. Do I love the children of God, as bearing his
image? 1 John 4:20. 5:1. Is my soul ever moved with sweet emotion in
contemplating the infinite _moral_ perfections of God? Ps. 30:4. 96:9.
Do I delight also in his natural perfections, as appertaining to the
Supreme Ruler of the universe? Ps. 96:1-13. 97:1-12. Do I feel this
delight in his character, independent of the idea that he is my friend?
Hab. 3:17, 18. Am I sure that even this emotion is not produced by the
secret thought that the exercise of it is an evidence of my being his
friend?

5. _As to my Christian character in general._ Do I realize my dependence
upon the Holy Spirit for every right feeling and action? John 14:16, 17.
Rom. 8:9, 13, 14. Isa. 26, 12. Are the fruits of the Spirit manifest in
my heart and life? Gal. 5:22-24. Have I mortified my members which are
upon the earth, and put off the works of the flesh? Gal. 5:19-21. Col.
3:5, 8. Have I put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after
the image of him that created him? Col. 3:10. Do I manifest my love to
my brethren by a readiness to make sacrifices of personal feeling,
interest, and enjoyment, to promote their welfare and happiness? 1 John
3:14-17. Do I manifest my love for all mankind, by doing good to all as
I have opportunity? Do I feel an unalterable desire for the conversion
of their souls? Rom. 9:1, 2. Am I willing to make personal efforts and
sacrifices to promote this object? Do I heartily and earnestly offer the
prayer,--"Thy kingdom come," doing and giving all in my power to promote
it? Is the same mind in me, in these respects, that was in Christ Jesus?
Phil. 2:4-8. Rom. 15:2, 3. Do I truly feel that it is more blessed to
give than to receive? Acts 20:35 Do I strive, as much as in me lies, to
live in peace with all, and to promote peace among all men? Ps. 34:14.
Matt. 5:9. Rom. 12:18. 2 Cor. 13:11. Heb. 12:14. James 3:17. Do I seek
the peace of Zion, avoiding every unnecessary offence, and even
sacrificing my own feelings for the sake of the peace of the church? Ps.
122:6. Rom. 14:19-21. 1 Cor. 7:15. 8:13. 14:33. Eph. 4:3. 1 Thess. 5:13.
Am I long-suffering and patient under injurious treatment? 1 Cor. 13:4,
7. Do I exercise a spirit of forbearance towards the faults of others,
forgiving injuries and offences? Mark 11:25. Eph. 4:2. Col. 3:13. Do I
put away all envy and jealousy from my bosom--not seeking occasion of
offence by putting the worst construction upon the conduct of
others--not expecting great things for myself, and not being displeased
when I am passed by with apparent neglect? Rom. 12:16. 1 Cor. 13:4, 5,
7. Jer. 45:5. Eph. 4:2. Col. 3:12. Do I not think of myself more highly
than I ought to think? Rom. 12:3, 16. Do I in lowliness of mind esteem
others better than myself? Phil. 2:3. Am I self-willed, headstrong,
determined to have my own way? or am I ready to prefer the judgment of
my brethren, and submit to them, when I can do it conscientiously? Eph.
5:21. 1 Peter 5:5. Am I tender of spirit, kind, gentle, and courteous,
in my intercourse with others? 1 Thess. 2:7. 2 Tim. 2:24. Titus 3:2.
James 3:17. Eph. 4:32. Col. 3:12. 1 Peter 3:8. Have I put on _meekness_,
not being easily provoked to the indulgence of resentful feelings? 1
Cor. 13:5. Have I put away from me all bitterness, and wrath, and anger,
and clamor, and _evil-speaking_, with all malice, not rendering evil for
evil, nor railing for railing? Eph. 4:31. 1 Pet. 3:9. Do I love my
enemies, bless them that curse me, and seek the good of those who strive
to injure me? Matt. 5:44. Rom. 12:14, 20. Do I recognize the hand of God
in the daily blessings of this life? James 1:17. Do I likewise recognize
his hand in the little perplexities and trials of every-day life? Do all
my trials subdue and chasten my spirit, working in me patience,
experience, and hope? Rom. 5:3, 4. Heb. 13:6-11. Am I content with such
things as the Lord gives me, day by day, not taking anxious thought for
the morrow, nor disquieting myself for the future? Matt. 6:25-34. Phil.
4:11. 1 Tim. 6:8. Heb. 13:5. Does my faith lead me to look at the things
that are unseen, and set my affections on things above, and not on
things on the earth? 2 Cor. 4:16-18. Col. 3:1, 2.

       *       *       *       *       *

Remember, this is a fearful question. Your all is at stake upon it. But,
if at any time you come to the deliberate conclusion that you are
resting upon a false hope, give it up: but do not abandon yourself to
despair. Go immediately to the cross of Christ. Give up your heart to
him, as though you had never come before. There is no other way. This is
the only refuge, and Jesus never sent a soul empty away. "Him that
cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out." Persevere, even though you
find scarce evidence enough to give a faint glimmering of hope.
Continually renew your repentance and faith in Christ. Diligence in
self-examination may be a means of growth in grace: and if you are
really a child of God, your evidences will increase and brighten, till
you will be able to indulge "a good hope through grace." "For, in due
time, we shall reap, if we faint not."

V. _Another object of self-examination is, to ascertain whether we are
prepared to approach the Lord's table._ But let a man examine himself,
and so let him "eat of that bread, and drink of that cup." Here the duty
of self-examination, before partaking of the Lord's Supper, is evidently
taught. And, in the next verse, we are told what is requisite to enable
us to partake of this ordinance in an acceptable manner. It is, that we
have faith in lively exercise to discern the Lord's body. A backslider
in heart, even though a real Christian, is not prepared to partake of
this spiritual feast, without renewing his repentance and faith. In this
examination, two subjects of inquiry present themselves: 1. "Am I a
Christian?" 2. "Am I growing in grace?" In regard to the first of these
inquiries, enough has already been said. To answer the second, you will
need consider,--1. Whether you were living in the exercise of gracious
affections at the last communion. 2. Whether you have since made any
progress in the divine life. To aid you in these inquiries, I have
prepared the following questions, which may be varied according to
circumstances:

The last time I partook of this ordinance, did I meet the Lord at his
table, and receive a refreshing from his presence? Did I there renew my
covenant vows? Have I kept my vows? Have I since lived not unto myself,
but unto God? Have I enjoyed more of the presence of God? Have I lived a
life of faith and prayer? Have I been daily to the cross of Christ for
pardon and strength? Have I maintained continually a deep and lively
sense of divine things? Have I lived a life of self-denial? Have I
obtained any conquests over indwelling sin? Have I made any progress in
subduing the unholy tempers of my heart? Has my will been brought more
entirely to bow to the will of God, so that I have no will of my own?
Has my love increased? Do I feel more delight in contemplating the
divine character, in reading his word, in prayer, in the ordinances of
his house, &c.? Do I feel more intense longings of soul after conformity
to his image? Have I any deeper sense of the exceeding sinfulness of
sin? Do my own sins in particular appear more aggravated? Do I think
less of myself? Does a sense of my own vileness and unworthiness humble
me low before God? Does this lead me to see my need of just such a
Saviour as Jesus? Am I now disposed to cast my all upon him? Has my love
for Christians increased? Do I feel any more compassion for dying
sinners? Has this led me to do more for their conversion? Have I
abounded more in every good word and work? Have the fruits of the Spirit
increased in my heart and life? Have I been more faithful in all the
relations of life? Do I perceive any growing deadness to the world? Does
my relish for spiritual things increase, while my taste for earthly
delights diminishes? Do I see more and more my own weakness, and feel a
more steady dependence upon Christ? Do I feel increasing spirituality in
religious duties? Do I feel increasing tenderness of conscience, and
maintain more watchfulness against sin? Do I feel greater concern for
the prosperity of the church and the conversion of the world? Am I
becoming more meek and gentle in spirit, less censorious, and less
disposed to resent injuries? Am I more ready to receive reproof from
others, without anger or hardness of feeling?

If you have time to keep a journal, you may find some advantage from
reviewing it on such occasions. It will aid your memory, and help you to
give your past life a more thorough examination. You will thereby be the
better able to judge whether you are making progress. However, this is a
dangerous experiment, as it is difficult to divest ourselves of the idea
that we are writing for the perusal of others; and this furnishes many
temptations. But, however unfit this examination may find you, do not
let Satan tempt you to stay away from the Lord's table. It is your duty
to commemorate his dying love. It is your duty also to do it with a
suitable preparation of heart. Both these duties you will neglect by
staying away. In doing so, you cannot expect God's blessing. But set
immediately about the work of repentance. Come to the cross of Christ,
and renew your application to his pardoning blood. Give yourself away to
God anew, and renew your covenant with him. In doing this, he will bless
your soul; and the Lord's table will be a season of refreshing. But if
this repentance and preparation be heartfelt and sincere, its fruits
will be seen in your subsequent life.


CONCLUSION.

I have now completed my intended series of letters. I have endeavored to
present the Christian character, and the duties required of the
followers of Christ, in the light of God's word. I know, however, that I
have done it with much imperfection. But, do not rest with the mere
mechanical performance of the duties here recommended. Do not engage in
any of them with the hope of meriting God's favor. Use them only as the
means of promoting your spiritual progress; depending on the Holy
Spirit, through the blood and merits of Christ, to sanctify your heart.
For it is very possible for you to observe all these things, and yet
deceive yourself. Remember that true religion is a deep work of grace in
the heart, changing the bent and inclination of the soul, and giving a
new direction to all its faculties. O may you so live that Jesus shall
say to you, as to the church at Thyatira, "I know thy works, and
charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works and THE
LAST TO BE MORE THAN THE FIRST." Take also his exhortation to the church
at Smyrna: "BE THOU FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH, AND I WILL GIVE THEE A CROWN OF
LIFE."

                                  Your affectionate Brother.




APPENDIX.


COURSE OF READING.


I. HISTORY.

1. _Sacred and Ecclesiastical History._--Josephus' Works; Millar's
History of the Church; Jahn's Hebrew Commonwealth, Mosheim's
Ecclesiastical History; Milner's Church History; Scott's Continuation of
Milner; Life of Knox; Gilpin's Lives of the Reformers; Fuller's and
Warner's Ecclesiastical History of England; Millar's Propagation of
Christianity; Gillies' Historical Collections; Jones' Church History;
Mather's Magnalia; Neale's History of the Puritans; Wisner's History of
the Old South Church, Boston; Bogue and Bennett's History of the
Dissenters; Benedict's History of the Baptists; Life of Wesley; History
of Methodism; Life of Whitefield; Millar's Life of Dr. Rodgers; Crantz's
Ancient and Modern History of the Church of the United Brethren;
Crantz's History of the Mission in Greenland; Loskiel's History of the
North American Indian Missions; Oldendorp's History of the Danish
Missions of the United Brethren; Choules' Origin and History of
Missions. Those who have not sufficient time for so extensive a course,
may find the most interesting and important events in the progress of
the church during the first sixteen centuries of the Christian era, in
the author's Sabbath-school Church History.

2. _Secular and Profane History._--Rollin's Ancient History; Russel's
Egypt; Russel's Palestine; Plutarch's Lives, to be kept on hand, and
consulted as the names appear in history; Wharton's Histories; Beloe's
Herodotus; Travels of Anacharsis; Mitford's Greece; Ferguson's History
of the Roman Republic; Baker's Livy; Middleton's Life of Cicero;
Murphy's Tacitus; Sismondi's Decline of the Roman Empire; Muller's
Universal History; Hallam's History of the Middle Ages; James' Life of
Charlemagne; Mills' History of the Crusades and of Chivalry; Turner's
History of England; Burnett's History of his own Times; Robertson's
History of Scotland; Robertson's Charles V.; Vertot's Revolutions of
Sweden; Vertot's Revolutions of Portugal; Sismondi's History of the
Italian Republics, (abridged in Lardner's Cabinet of History;) Roscoe's
Lorenzo de Medici and Leo X.; Sketches from Venetian History; Malcolm's
History of Persia; Irving's Life of Columbus; Prescott's Ferdinand and
Isabella; Robertson's History of America; Bancroft's History of
America; Winthrop's Journal; Ramsay's American Revolution; Marshall's
Life of Washington; with the Biographies of Penn, Jay, Hamilton, Henry,
Greene, Otis, Quincy, Morris, the Signers of the Declaration of
Independence, Sparks' American Biography, with the Lives of any other
distinguished Americans; Scott's Life of Napoleon.


II. CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE.

Paley's Evidences; Chalmers' Evidences of Christianity; Halyburton
against the Deists; Brown's Compendium of Natural and Revealed Religion;
Dwight's Theology; Bates' Harmony of the Divine Attributes; Edwards on
Original Sin; Watts' Ruin and Recovery; Dr. Woods on Native Depravity;
Fuller's Works; Payson's Sermons; Boston's Fourfold State; Edwards'
History of Redemption; Dr. Owen on the Death and Satisfaction of Christ;
Butler's Analogy; Cole on the Sovereignty of God; Griffin on Divine
Efficiency; Charnock on the Dominion of God in his Works; Edwards'
Sermons; King, Toplady, Cooper, and Tucker, on Predestination; Whitby
and Gill on the Five Points; Wesley's Predestination Considered; Edwards
and Day on the Will; Scott's Essays; Colquhoun on the Covenants; Evans
on the Atonement; Griffin on the Atonement; Stewart on the Atonement;
Jenkyn on the Atonement; Witherspoon on Regeneration; Doddridge's Ten
Sermons on Regeneration; Dr. Owen on the Spirit; Hinton on the Spirit;
Works of Robert Hall; Dr. Owen on the 130th Psalm; Scott's Treatise on
Repentance; Young's Last Day; Watts on Death and Heaven; Saurin's
Sermons; Baxter's Saint's Rest; Chalmers' Works.

Cotton's Power of the Keys; Hooker's Survey of the Sum of Church
Discipline; Owen's Inquiry into the Nature of Churches; Mitchell's
Guide; Hall's View of a Gospel Church; Brown's Vindication of the
Presbyterian Form of Government; Dr. Miller on the Office of Ruling
Elder; King's Constitution of the Church; Stillingfleet's Origines
Sacrae; Dr. Woods on Infant Baptism; The Baptized Child; Household
Consecration: Robinson's History of Baptism.


III. BIOGRAPHY.

Burner's Memoirs; Memoirs of Isabella Graham, Mrs. Huntington, Mrs.
Savage, Mrs. Harriet Newell, and Mrs. Paterson: Philip Henry; Oberlin;
Francke; Neff; Payson; Henry Martyn; Brainerd; Howard; Dr. Hopkins;
President Edwards; Mrs. Emily Egerton; Mrs. Myra W. Allen: Rev. Samuel
Davies; Lives of Maclaurin, Baxter, Doddridge, Owen, Watts, Howe,
Mather, Dwight; Gill, Banyan, Robinson, Andrew Fuller, Hall; Fletcher,
Asbury, Clarke, Watson; Cecil, Fenelon. Mrs. Judson, James B. Taylor,
Rev. Joseph Emerson, Harlan Page; Mrs. Winslow, Parsons and Fiske,
Gordon Hall; Life of Schwartz.

Lives of Henry Kirke White, Elizabeth Smith: Johnson's Lives of the
Poets; Life of Johnson; Teignmouth's Life of Sir William Jones;
Southey's Life and Correspondence of Cowper.


IV. MISCELLANEOUS.

1. _Works on the Prophecies._--Bishop Newton's Dissertations; Keith;
Smith's Key to the Revelation; Sir Isaac Newton's Observations on the
Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse; Gray's Key to the Old
Testament; Faber on the Prophecies.

2. _On Christian Character, Experience, and Duty._--Edwards on Religious
Affections; Doddridge's Rise and Progress; Owen on Indwelling Sin;
Serle's Christian Remembrancer; Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress; Scougal's
Life of God in the Soul; Howe's Blessedness of the Righteous; Owen on
Spiritual-Mindedness; Leighton on Peter; Baxter's Practical Works;
Flavel's Works; Prayer experimentally considered; Abbott's Young
Christian, and Path of Peace; Gallaudet's Every-day Christian; Works of
Robert Philip; Dr. Skinner's Religion of the Bible; The Great Teacher,
by Harris; The American Tract Society's Evangelical Family Library,
which includes some of the works above named.

3. _On the Instruction and Discipline of the Young._--Abercrombie on the
Intellectual Powers; Abbott's Teacher; Abbott's Mother at Home; Mother's
Friend; Mother's Magazine; Todd's Sabbath-school Teacher; Hannah More's
Letters on Female Education.

4. _Illustrations of Scriptures._--The Comprehensive Commentary, to be
referred to in connection with the study of the Bible; Townsend's Bible,
for its chronological information and notes.

5. _Health._--Combe on the Constitution; Catechism of Health; Carnaro on
Temperance.

6. _Travels._--Bruce's Travels In Abyssinia; Denon's Travels in Egypt;
Belzoni's Personal Narrative; Humboldt's Personal Narrative; Clarke's
Travels in Russia; Mackenzie's Travels in Iceland; Mungo Park's Mission
to Africa; Denham's and Clapperton's Mission to Africa; Lander's
Journal; Sismondi's Italy, France, and England; Dr. Humphrey's Tour;
Rome in the 19th Century; Buchanan's Researches; The Christian Brahmin;
Ramsey's Journal; Ellis' Polynesian Researches; Stewart's Voyage in the
South Seas; Tyerman and Bennett's Journal; Williams' Missionary
Enterprise in the South Sea Islands; Reed and Matheson's Journal;
Journals of the Missionaries, in the bound volumes of the Missionary
Herald.

7. _The Sciences._--Watts on the Mind; Locke on the Human Understanding;
Brown's Lectures on the Philosophy of the Mind; Douglass on the
Advancement of Society; Dick's Works; The Bridgewater Treatises; Mrs.
B.'s Conversations on Philosophy and Chemistry; Wayland's Moral Science,
and Political Economy.

8. _Belles Lettres._--Hannah More's Works; Jane Taylor's Works; Madame
de Stael; Johnson's Rasselas; Selections from the Spectator and Rambler.
Poems of Milton, Young, Dryden, Cowper, Thomson, Montgomery, Hemans,
Sigourney, Tappan.

9. _Promiscuous._--Mrs. Farrar's Young Ladies' Friend; Mrs. Sigourney's
Letters to Young Ladies; Female Student, by Mrs. Phelps.






End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of A Practical Directory for Young
Christian Females, by Harvey Newcomb

*** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK A PRACTICAL DIRECTORY FOR ***

***** This file should be named 17934.txt or 17934.zip *****
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in:
        http://www.gutenberg.org/1/7/9/3/17934/

Produced by PM Childrens Library, Pilar Somoza and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
(This file was produced from images generously made
available by The University of Florida, The Internet
Archive/Children's Library)


Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions
will be renamed.

Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no
one owns a United States copyright in these works, so the Foundation
(and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without
permission and without paying copyright royalties.  Special rules,
set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license, apply to
copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to
protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark.  Project
Gutenberg is a registered trademark, and may not be used if you
charge for the eBooks, unless you receive specific permission.  If you
do not charge anything for copies of this eBook, complying with the
rules is very easy.  You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose
such as creation of derivative works, reports, performances and
research.  They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do
practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks.  Redistribution is
subject to the trademark license, especially commercial
redistribution.



*** START: FULL LICENSE ***

THE FULL PROJECT GUTENBERG LICENSE
PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU DISTRIBUTE OR USE THIS WORK

To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free
distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work
(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase "Project
Gutenberg"), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full Project
Gutenberg-tm License (available with this file or online at
http://gutenberg.org/license).


Section 1.  General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works

1.A.  By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement.  If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroy
all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your possession.
If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by the
terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person or
entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.

1.B.  "Project Gutenberg" is a registered trademark.  It may only be
used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who
agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement.  There are a few
things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
even without complying with the full terms of this agreement.  See
paragraph 1.C below.  There are a lot of things you can do with Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this agreement
and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.  See paragraph 1.E below.

1.C.  The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation ("the Foundation"
or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection of Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works.  Nearly all the individual works in the
collection are in the public domain in the United States.  If an
individual work is in the public domain in the United States and you are
located in the United States, we do not claim a right to prevent you from
copying, distributing, performing, displaying or creating derivative
works based on the work as long as all references to Project Gutenberg
are removed.  Of course, we hope that you will support the Project
Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting free access to electronic works by
freely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm works in compliance with the terms of
this agreement for keeping the Project Gutenberg-tm name associated with
the work.  You can easily comply with the terms of this agreement by
keeping this work in the same format with its attached full Project
Gutenberg-tm License when you share it without charge with others.

1.D.  The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern
what you can do with this work.  Copyright laws in most countries are in
a constant state of change.  If you are outside the United States, check
the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this agreement
before downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing or
creating derivative works based on this work or any other Project
Gutenberg-tm work.  The Foundation makes no representations concerning
the copyright status of any work in any country outside the United
States.

1.E.  Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:

1.E.1.  The following sentence, with active links to, or other immediate
access to, the full Project Gutenberg-tm License must appear prominently
whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg-tm work (any work on which the
phrase "Project Gutenberg" appears, or with which the phrase "Project
Gutenberg" is associated) is accessed, displayed, performed, viewed,
copied or distributed:

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org

1.E.2.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is derived
from the public domain (does not contain a notice indicating that it is
posted with permission of the copyright holder), the work can be copied
and distributed to anyone in the United States without paying any fees
or charges.  If you are redistributing or providing access to a work
with the phrase "Project Gutenberg" associated with or appearing on the
work, you must comply either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1
through 1.E.7 or obtain permission for the use of the work and the
Project Gutenberg-tm trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or
1.E.9.

1.E.3.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is posted
with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution
must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any additional
terms imposed by the copyright holder.  Additional terms will be linked
to the Project Gutenberg-tm License for all works posted with the
permission of the copyright holder found at the beginning of this work.

1.E.4.  Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this
work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.

1.E.5.  Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this
electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without
prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with
active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project
Gutenberg-tm License.

1.E.6.  You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,
compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including any
word processing or hypertext form.  However, if you provide access to or
distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg-tm work in a format other than
"Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other format used in the official version
posted on the official Project Gutenberg-tm web site (www.gutenberg.org),
you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense to the user, provide a
copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means of obtaining a copy upon
request, of the work in its original "Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other
form.  Any alternate format must include the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.

1.E.7.  Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,
performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg-tm works
unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.8.  You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing
access to or distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works provided
that

- You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from
     the use of Project Gutenberg-tm works calculated using the method
     you already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  The fee is
     owed to the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, but he
     has agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the
     Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.  Royalty payments
     must be paid within 60 days following each date on which you
     prepare (or are legally required to prepare) your periodic tax
     returns.  Royalty payments should be clearly marked as such and
     sent to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the
     address specified in Section 4, "Information about donations to
     the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

- You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies
     you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he
     does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg-tm
     License.  You must require such a user to return or
     destroy all copies of the works possessed in a physical medium
     and discontinue all use of and all access to other copies of
     Project Gutenberg-tm works.

- You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of any
     money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the
     electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days
     of receipt of the work.

- You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free
     distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm works.

1.E.9.  If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work or group of works on different terms than are set
forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing from
both the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and Michael
Hart, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark.  Contact the
Foundation as set forth in Section 3 below.

1.F.

1.F.1.  Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable
effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread
public domain works in creating the Project Gutenberg-tm
collection.  Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may contain
"Defects," such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectual
property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other medium, a
computer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read by
your equipment.

1.F.2.  LIMITED WARRANTY, DISCLAIMER OF DAMAGES - Except for the "Right
of Replacement or Refund" described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project
Gutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal
fees.  YOU AGREE THAT YOU HAVE NO REMEDIES FOR NEGLIGENCE, STRICT
LIABILITY, BREACH OF WARRANTY OR BREACH OF CONTRACT EXCEPT THOSE
PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH F3.  YOU AGREE THAT THE FOUNDATION, THE
TRADEMARK OWNER, AND ANY DISTRIBUTOR UNDER THIS AGREEMENT WILL NOT BE
LIABLE TO YOU FOR ACTUAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE OR
INCIDENTAL DAMAGES EVEN IF YOU GIVE NOTICE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH
DAMAGE.

1.F.3.  LIMITED RIGHT OF REPLACEMENT OR REFUND - If you discover a
defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can
receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a
written explanation to the person you received the work from.  If you
received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium with
your written explanation.  The person or entity that provided you with
the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in lieu of a
refund.  If you received the work electronically, the person or entity
providing it to you may choose to give you a second opportunity to
receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund.  If the second copy
is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing without further
opportunities to fix the problem.

1.F.4.  Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth
in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you 'AS-IS', WITH NO OTHER
WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO
WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTIBILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PURPOSE.

1.F.5.  Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied
warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of damages.
If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement violates the
law of the state applicable to this agreement, the agreement shall be
interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or limitation permitted by
the applicable state law.  The invalidity or unenforceability of any
provision of this agreement shall not void the remaining provisions.

1.F.6.  INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the
trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone
providing copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in accordance
with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the production,
promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works,
harmless from all liability, costs and expenses, including legal fees,
that arise directly or indirectly from any of the following which you do
or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this or any Project Gutenberg-tm
work, (b) alteration, modification, or additions or deletions to any
Project Gutenberg-tm work, and (c) any Defect you cause.


Section  2.  Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tm

Project Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution of
electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of computers
including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers.  It exists
because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations from
people in all walks of life.

Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the
assistance they need, is critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm's
goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection will
remain freely available for generations to come.  In 2001, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure
and permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future generations.
To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
and how your efforts and donations can help, see Sections 3 and 4
and the Foundation web page at http://www.pglaf.org.


Section 3.  Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive
Foundation

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit
501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the
state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal
Revenue Service.  The Foundation's EIN or federal tax identification
number is 64-6221541.  Its 501(c)(3) letter is posted at
http://pglaf.org/fundraising.  Contributions to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent
permitted by U.S. federal laws and your state's laws.

The Foundation's principal office is located at 4557 Melan Dr. S.
Fairbanks, AK, 99712., but its volunteers and employees are scattered
throughout numerous locations.  Its business office is located at
809 North 1500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887, email
business@pglaf.org.  Email contact links and up to date contact
information can be found at the Foundation's web site and official
page at http://pglaf.org

For additional contact information:
     Dr. Gregory B. Newby
     Chief Executive and Director
     gbnewby@pglaf.org

Section 4.  Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation

Project Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without wide
spread public support and donations to carry out its mission of
increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be
freely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widest
array of equipment including outdated equipment.  Many small donations
($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt
status with the IRS.

The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating
charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United
States.  Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a
considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up
with these requirements.  We do not solicit donations in locations
where we have not received written confirmation of compliance.  To
SEND DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any
particular state visit http://pglaf.org

While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we
have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition
against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who
approach us with offers to donate.

International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make
any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from
outside the United States.  U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.

Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donation
methods and addresses.  Donations are accepted in a number of other
ways including checks, online payments and credit card
donations.  To donate, please visit: http://pglaf.org/donate


Section 5.  General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.

Professor Michael S. Hart is the originator of the Project Gutenberg-tm
concept of a library of electronic works that could be freely shared
with anyone.  For thirty years, he produced and distributed Project
Gutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of volunteer support.

Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the U.S.
unless a copyright notice is included.  Thus, we do not necessarily
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.

Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search facility:

     http://www.gutenberg.org

This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.

*** END: FULL LICENSE ***


Colophon

This file was acquired from Project Gutenberg, and it is in the public domain. It is re-distributed here as a part of the Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts (http://infomotions.com/alex/) by Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.) for the purpose of freely sharing, distributing, and making available works of great literature. Its Infomotions unique identifier is etext17934, and it should be available from the following URL:

http://infomotions.com/etexts/id/etext17934



Infomotions, Inc.

Infomotions Man says, "Give back to the 'Net."