« הקודםהמשך »
we have received at his hands.--The conclufion will be obvious and affecting ;--namely, what returns these advantages should naturally excite in a christian's breast.
These are topics of that seraphic virtue-GRATITUDE; topics that would animate the most insensible, and warm the coldest preacher; but my
with is rather to inform your judgment, than to agitate your paflions.--A simple narrative is now the only object, in which we shall endeavour to trace our establishment from the first erection of the Chapel to this period in which it is fixed by Act of PARLIAMENT to become, after certain contingencies, a PARISA CHURCH
I am afraid we shall not be able to accomplish our purposes in a very few words ; but in order that I may not be too great a trespasser on your time and patience, I shall dismiss the first article with a few general reflections; and for the rest a short commemoration of benefactions and benefactors.-Were I, indeed, to give way to my own particular sense of benefits received; when I consider the object, I have but too much reason to fear the very emotions of gratitude might give offence. To deserve'praise, and yet to decline it, has always been one property of trascendent merit. But MINISTERs in future ages, as they will always feel, so will they, fearless of illiberal imputations, indulge their hearts, in acknowledging the comfort, which the bounties we are this day to enumerate, have procured for them. They will proclaim their obligations, and with propriety produce characters, which we are bound only to contemplate with filent veneration. They will not want suitable helps from able and impartial historians to second the feelings of their own hearts ; and enable them to draw portraitures where religion, with inward greatness,—-unaffected goodness, purity of man
that can shed honour on human nature fit triumphant.—They may enumerate instances of Regal condefcenfion to all the various fons and daughters of affliction may
point to where the helpless and unprotected orphan, rescued, at once, both from the natural and spiritual famine, rejoices in her innocence, and the whole train of virtues inseparably connected with it. —They may open scenes, that will send their hearers to their homes, replete with those luxurious tears that feeling hearts pour forth over actions that raise man's nature to its destined height, and prepare it for those habitations, where intemperate envy, impudent ingratitude, unreasonable faction, illiberal and infatuated licentiousness have no being :—but all is harmony,-ecstacy and happiness, through boundless ages, -and unfathomable eternity.
But to proceed to a few strictures on our first article.—As the existence of a God, that great and good being, who created and preserves the world, is the natural and universal belief of all nations and people ; so from that belief arises this fundamental principle of religion: that he is the proper and only object of our adoration.That his public worship is of infinite importance.—That it is no less our truest interest, than our highest duty to assemble ourselves together in his holy temple; and consequently, that no greater misfortune can befal any community than the famine mentioned in our text," the famine of hearing the words of the Lord ;"—more grievous in its nature and consequences, than even a famine of bread, or a thirst for water :--and though blessed be God !-there are already in this our land innumerable places set apart for the glorious purposes of adoring our Creator ;-yet every serious chriftian will certainly feel, and forely lament the famine of hearing the words of the Lord ; should such places be either at too inconvenient distance, or where he has no legal right to be seated, --no appointed paftor to resolve his doubts,—to comfort him in his fickness, or at stated times to read to him the words of the Lord, and administer to him the blessed sacraments ; in a spiritual sense, he would feel the want of a fixed place of worship,--in the same manner, as a man is apt to feel the want of a comfortable home.
Would his distress be relieved because he sees others plentifully provided with the accommodations he is continually wishing for? --No ;-an occasional refreshment, or even a feast, where he is but the guest of the day, will only open his eyes more sensibly to his own deplorable situation.
Now that we may have a proper relish for the good things with which our gracious Father's table is here inost plentifully supplied, we should provide for ourselves the festal garment of the Gospel ; that is, we should come to the heavenly banquet with suitable dispositions, —our minds enraptured with the thought of what we are hereafter to enjoy,—of what every true believer, if he acts confiftently with his belief, is certain he shall enjoy hereafter among the happy spirits of Saints departed,—of blessed angels,—and of God hiinself. The first step to be taken to accommodate the appetite of our souls to the true taste of those spiritual dainties, will be to recollect the continual disgusts, the various disappointments which we experience amidst all the hospitality that the best things of this world are capable of affording us in a mere unregenerated natural state.—This sad leffon of satiety without satisfaction, is a kind of bitter to keep in view the allegory of our text, which will certainly prepare our palates for the bread which cometh down from heaven and for those living waters, which will be in him that drinketh at Christ's holy fountain,-a well springing up into everlasting life.
Beloved, — seeing the food is desirable to make a man wise, though wormwood to the taste; let us for a moment contemplate those natural and unavoidable misfortunes to which we are liable in this fluctuating state of things,--from the first tender lamentation of our helpless infancy to the latt deep groan of age,-short must have been his time of sojourning here below, or very superficial his obfervation who has not yet felt the truth of the preacher's exclamaLion- vanity of vanitics ! - all is vanity !- no sublunary object
whatsoever is capable of satisfying the exalted desires of an immortal foul --and when to the unsatisfying nature of the good things, we add the long catalogue of the, unavoidable evils of life ;-when we reflect how many there are whose only potion is the bread of tears and plenteousness of tears to drink, we must confess that what way soever we turn our eyes, humanity is distressed. The sad scene discloses itself in every point of view, and opens upon us in uncomfortable prospects from every quarter of the globe :-but for ever blessed be the God of all mercies ! in that he hath by his holy scriptures afforded us a sure remedy for every evil that can befal us in our mortal state: and in their room hath presented to our view an object fully adequate to our desires ; namely, the sure and certain hope of a future and better world.-Now, would we but let faith have her perfect work, this glorious expectation would fill up this valley of sorrows,—make all these crooked paths perfectly plain and easy before us ; and in some measure allay that unextinguishable thirst of happiness indelibly rooted in the human soul.-And thus convinced that man doth not live by bread alone,-but that the comfort of our existence must depend upon that word of revelation which proceedeth out of the mouth of God: Thall wewhen he hath prepared his dinner,—and his oxen and fatlings are killed, --can we turn our backs on the holy table of religion,-going one to his farm,—and another to his merchandize ?-Shall we. continue to rise up early, and so late take rest, and eat the bread of carefulness all our days, in order to acquire more of this world, than we can either want or enjoy ?-Should we not, on the contrary, stand aghast at the deplorable madness and folly of those men whose eager pursuits after these vain, unsatisfactory and fugatious advantages, have blinded their eyes to the prospect of a blessed eternity ?—Who mistaking their passage for their port, are heaping up pungent disappointment and disgust to themselves, by still doatingly crying to their hearts,—It is good for us to be here !—Yes ;--our
treasure is in heaven,--there consequently should our hearts be also: -Dearly beloved, faith the apostle, -I beseech you, as strangers, and pilgrims here upon earth, abstain from every worldly desire that is inconsistent with such a condition,-every thing that may encumber
in your progress towards that place :-or as certain of our own poets has well expressed the sentiment.
Ah, pilgrim turn!--thy cares forego ;
For earth-born cares are wrong:
if then we would act wiselys-or in any degree suitably to our prefent condition ; if we would follow the things that make unto our peace ; we must leave the world and its important concerns at proper distance ;-apursue our true interest--the interest of eternal life ; and when we have once taught ourselves to thirst for living waters, and heavenly food, our most natural and necessary viaticum in the spiritual journey, we shall then, with hearts, filled with the warmest gratitude, recollect the great obligation we lie under to those that heretofore were properly attentive to these wants :—those that first felt the famine of hearing God's words, and adverted to the means which providence set before them; whereby not only their own immediate wants were relieved, but some provision was secured for the benefit of future ages.
And here justice demands that we should place in the foremost rank of these, the then inhabitants of this hamlet.—Their numbers were few ;-but their zeal was ardent.—It was certainly a great and generous undertaking for so small a community, not only to build an elegant church by their own voluntary contributions, but to settle a decent support for a minifter. The papers and writings