Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

while, id be angeks, and made an oh 10 up again the

better way of worship, she would desist from her practice; but that in the meanwhile, she should abide by the manner she had adopted, lest God should be angry with her.

She had been ill for some weeks, and was yet very weak from the ague. Being asked, Whether she made any use of medicine, or whether she was in want of any thing ? " Oh no,” said she,

the Lord hath cast me down ; he also will raise me up again ;' adding withal, that if she looked unto God, he would, in the proper time, restore her to health.. * Yet had this woman never heard any thing of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We asked her, Whether she was willing to hear any thing of Christ, who was the Son of God, and who came into the world for our advantage? 6 () yes, with all my heart," said she ; 6 but then I have been told that I must first learn Dutch, and then learn to read, after which I might learn to pray likewise ; but now I am too old for all this." We signified to her, that all this was not indispensably needful, for that God understood all languages, that he was able to discern the desire of her heart, and would undoubtedly hear and grant all that she prayed for; advising her, therefore, only to continue constant in prayer, and to beseech him that he would give her yet more light and knowledge.

After this she related, at our desire, what steps she took with regard to the sacrifices which she offered. Thus, whenever she vathers fresh fruit, be it what it may, she never tastes of it till she has taken soige part thereof and burnt it; then she falls down upon her knees, thanking God, with all her heart, for granting her health to plant those fruits, and sparing her life, and giving her strength to gather, and now to enjoy them; after which she makes use of them for food.

This same negro-woman hearing that her master, whosé slave she formerly was, had lost his child, went to him and said, among other things, That he ought to beware of being over much sorrowful, and repining on that account; for it was God that had ordered it thus, without whose will nothing could happen; and she feared, if he gave way to discontentment, God might be displeased with him

She expressed great joy and gratitude for the gracious dispensations of God in, sending people across the great waters, to bring to the poor negroes worris of life ; and exhorted her countrymen, like a mother, to attend to what they were told on this subjcct.

It appeared plainly that she had some indistinct and confused notions of the 'Trinity; from which we evidently concluded, that some Christian Missionaries must formerly have been in her . native country. She said, “ There is only one God, the Father, whose name is Pao ; his Son, Mlasu, is the door, or the way, by which alone it is possible to come unto the Father; and then there is yet the Spirit, whose name is called Ce." Thus she had

been informed by her own father in Guinea; but that the Son of God became man, and, by his death, had redeemed and reconciled sinners, were totally unknown to her.

Hence she was used annually to take a lamb, or a kid, to make an offering of it, in order to placate the Deity, and with a view to atone for her faults and mistakes. At first, she could not comprehend our objection, when we represented to her, that God required not now such offerings and sacrifices, which were unnecessary and unavailing, since the Son of God had offered himself once for all a sacrifice for us; but being further directed by the Brethren to pray to God for grace to believe this, she took their advice, and, in consequence, came one day, smiting upon her breast with great joy, and declaring, whilst she laid her hand on her heart, “ Here I am now satisfied and certain that it is exactly as you have told me.” From thai time she omitted her sacrifices; yet, on high festival days, she still killed a lamb, inviting some of the negroes to be her guests, and exhorting them to promise her that they would be diligent in prayer, and to let it ascend unto God as a sweet smelling sacrifice.

AN EARNEST APPEAL TO EVANGELICAL MINISTERS AND OTHERS. .

Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy

mountain. --Joel ii. 1. Holiness and sin, truth and error, the cause of God and that of his enemies, must necessarily be at an irreconcileable yariance. It is certainly the mark of an ignorant or a querulous temper, to make the loose and general affirmation, that “ the for: mer times were better than the present:" but it would no less indicate a mind unacquainted with the Scriptures, or untutored by observation, not to percei ve that every successive age renders more critical than its preceding the circumstances of the church and of the world. The great contest between Heaven and Hell approaches to its decision. In the mean time, it may be expected that the opposing parties will daily gain accessions of strength, activity, and address. The increase of population, the extension and facility of human intercourse, the advancement of universal learning, and the very general diffusion of all knowledge, minister at once the invitation and the instruments of such exertions.

The friends of Christ and bis holy gospel have not been unmoved by the calls of duty. The activity and extended labours of ministers, the incrcase of churches, and the formation of many excellent societies, are evidences of this. Enlargement on

:

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

these topics is needless. For many years the pages of the Evans gelical Magazine have contained the honourable record, which should awaken our daily thankfulness, and infuse new vigour into our labours.

. But if much is done, much still remains to be achieved. The adversaries of Jehovah's honour and man's best interest are perpetually active, and that in modes as perpetually diversificd. It is not, however, the design of the present paper to pursue those general observations, on a subject which every true Christian is bound to study for himself. It is only intended to call the attention of all the enlightened and active friends of our Lord Jesus Christ to a particular case, in which they ought to feel a deep interest. This case is the exertions for the propagation of their opinions, which are now made and projected by those who call themselves Unitarians *.

This party has, hitherto, been supposed to be employed chiefly in the way of inert speculation ; but they have published their determination no longer to lie under this opprobrium. Avowing great confidence of success, they are beginning to try the influence and efficacy of their principles in the adoption of means which have been so usefully employed by orthodox Christians.

1. They have, for some years, had a Tract Society in London, besides sone similar associations in the country. Recent circums

starces, it is apprehended, will excite new vigour in these so1 cieties.

2. They have a monthly publication, which has in succession assamed several forms of novelty, for the purpose of attracting public notice. This Magazine has been repeatedly held forth as " the only publication of the kind which is open to men of all persuasions and denominations.” How fallacious this pretension is, any one may learn from the severe, but merited, castigation of its publisher and quondam «ditor, inflicted in the Rev. C. Jerram's Letters to an Universalist. A marked characteristic of this periodical work is, the extreme unfairness and unrestrained virulence with which several of its contributors as. sauit the doctrines and characters of those who are called Cal. vinists.

3. The public sermons of many ministers among the class of persons referred to, have of late been much more doctrinal and controversial than has heretofore been customary among them.

* It is difficult to denominate this class of persons. The word Socinian is far from being an appropriate designation, since their sentiments are, in a varietv of particulars, very different from those of Socinus. If the term Unitarian were mutually understood, as, the converse of Trinitarian, to refer merely to the notion of personality, we should have no difficulty in giving them their favourite appellation. But since, in violation of all controversial justice, they in general pertinaciously maintain that they are exclusively believers in the proper i nily of the Godhead, they cannot be surprized at our refusal to call them Unitarians, without premising the sense in which we usc the ieriu,

1.4. In some of their congregations, peculiar pains are taken to confirm the young people in the Unitarian doctrines. It is well known, that, till of late, a large proportion of those who attend their meeting-houses were ignorant and unconcerned, to a remarkable degree, about any religious sentiments.

5. Village and itinerant preaching are objects to which the Unitarians now give much attention, and which they are endeavouring to introduce and extend in their connexion. They have already obtained some itinerant preachers, who manifest both zeal and talents, and of whom their friends affirm, that " they possess the true spirit of Missionaries.”

6. To aid in the prosecution of these plans, a fund has been instituted ; and spirited exertions are made for its support and increase.

With what success these efforts will be followed, time and ex. perience alone can shew. To those who recollect how readily the poison of infidelity was imbibed among the lower orders, on the publication of Paine's Age of Reason, it will not appear improbable, that many may be attracted by a plausible representation of the Unitarian opinions. Error is ever congenial to the corrupt and carnal heart; and the errors in question are pecuļiarly flattering to its pride. To consider the Redeemer as a mere, fallible, and peccable man, — to represent the apostles as often misled by Jewish prejudices, and guilty of inconclusive and puerile reasoning, - to reject salvation by grace, the atonement of the Saviour, and the influences of the Spirit, -- to affirm the merit of supposed virtue, while at the same time its standard is reduced extremely low, - to represent sin as an evil infinitely Jess, both in its guilt and its demerit, than serious Christians universally consider it, - to represent the future consequences of sin as inexpressibly less tremendous than the Scriptures at least seem to describe them, - cannot but, be most agreeable and welcome to the haughty, the self-enamoured, the worldly minded, the lover of a little decent dissipation, the man who is striving to soothe a disturbed conscience, the unfledged youth who is exa quisitely delighted with his fancied superiority to common and vulgar prejudices, and the semi-infidel, who is too well instructed to be able to reject the argumentative evidences of Divine Revelation.

The principal object of this paper is to arouse the dormant, and to add vigour to the active friends of truth, in their counteroperations, to flattering and destructive errors. The general means of defending the cause of immortal truth are, it is hoped, familiar to the minds of serious and intelligent Christians. But they will not disdain to accept a few hints on some particular objects of attention, from a sincere friend, whose opportunities have been somewhni fi vourable for observation on the different methods pursued by the foes and the advocates of true religion. They will, it is hoped, suiler the word of respectful exhortation.

1. As our opponents appear more and more resolved to observe no rules of fairness and polemical justice, in their present mode of assaulting " the faith once delivered to the saints,” nor even the measures of ordinary decency, let it be our punctilious endeavour to manifest an amiable contrast of temper, and to exercise the purest candour, truth, and impartiality, in onr sermons, writings, or conversation for the defence of the gospel.

2. Let ministers, in particular, study to make themselves properly acquainted with the true nature, the proper grounds, and the due bearings of the points in controversy. Especially let the prime question, the capital turning point of each subject be carefully discovered, and disentangled from all accessary, subordinate, or unnecessary matter. In these great points of attention, our adversaries, almost to a man, manifest gross ignorance or more disgiaceful disingenuousness. Let it be our constant concern to preserve and to increase our happy superiority in this rcsprct.

3. Let us study the statements and arguments of our opponents in their own writings. It is not always safe or honourable to take them at the second hand. A very slight alteration in a citation, though there be no intention to deceive, will often materially alter the sense of the place; and a passage (however literally quoted) broken off from its connexion, will frequently present an aspect widely different from the design of the writer. Far be it from us to " speak deceitfully for God!” Truth loves the light, and never suffers so much as when her injudicious friends either maintain her cause, or oppose that of error, by means that savour of artifice, obscurity, or timidity; but Error, the offspring of Darkness, can never endure the trial of a really free, complete, and honest investigation.

A. In the turn which the Unitarian controversy bas taken during the last twenty years, it has become highly desirable to possess a more accurate knowledge of Ecclesiastical History than most persons, on either side, are at present furnished with. Nor will it suffice to rely upon modern compilers. We must ascend to the true sources of authority and evidence.

5. There is another object, and that one of supreme importance, which is, most unhappily, very insufficiently attended to by many excellent friends of evangelical truth. This is Biblical Learning. In this department lies the principal strength of our adversaries; and some of them are incessantly pouring out their criticisms and emendations, with a parade and self-gratulation which seldom accompanies solid learning. Let us not be backward to acknowledge that, in this respect, we have suffered our. selves to lie at a serious disadvantage. Causes, not difficult to be assigned, have rendered many valuable ministers less attentive to keep pace with the progress of biblical criticism than, on every principle of duty and advantage, it became them to be. In the present advanced state of this branch of lịterature, it is not too

« ZurückWeiter »