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Miss Aldersey's Female
May. October. -
Rev. J. Read's Return to the Kat
PORTRAITS OF MINISTERS.
JANUARY, Rev. J. Harris, D.D., London.
London : Heed and Pardon, Printers, Paternoster Row.
back to observe and lament the multiplied deficiencies, irregularities, and defections, before God, with which we have been chargeable, and to admire and adore his forbearing mercy in “healing our backslidings,” “pitying our infirmities,” and forgiving our sins. To begin the year well, we must commence it, Secondly, With large and enlightened inquiries. The mind must be drawn out; the soul must be awakened; great thoughts must be elicited and enkindled. No little, paltry sentiments must be entertained—no mean, insignificant questions must be proposed. As the years are rolling over us, their significance and grandeur are continually increasing, and hence it devolves on us to endeavour to meet their claims, and to act worthily of their character and importance. In entering, then, on the year 1852, let us take large and comprehensive views—let us propose intelligent and great inquiries, that we may unfold a character befitting us at the present advancing period in our ecclesiastical and national history, and do something worthily in this age of progress. Let each reader seriously ask, “What am I purposing to do, if life be prolonged, during the present year? What as a minister? What as a parent 2 What as a teacher of the young? What as a master or mistress? What as a brother or sister? What as a child? What in any capacity—as a scripture-reader—a tract distributor—a visitor of the poor and sick? What fresh plans can I form to benefit my family more effectually? What additional arrangements can I make to subserve the best interests of the Church and congregation with which I am identified ? What enlargement and impetus can I give to any efforts which are making for the intellectual and moral elevation of my country—the evangelization of Europe and the world? Knowledge must be more
widely diffused — infidelity must be more vigorously met — error in all its forms must be more decisively counteracted—Romanism, whatever its seductions or appliances, must be more wisely and powerfully resisted.—What can I do, or what do I intend doing, in this great, this gigantic undertaking 2 These are fitting and significant questions to propose and urge at the commencement of another year; and it is incumbent on each right-minded, each sound-hearted person, to submit them to his under standing, his judgment, his conscience, as in the sight of God, and in the prospect of his awful account at the last day. To begin the year well, we must commence it, Thirdly, Under the influence of a devotional spirit. This is indispensable on the part of every individual, whatever his position in society, to its right beginning. There must be no mistake here—no reluctance here—no neglect here. While we want the mind to be aroused, the best efforts to be put forth, we are pre-eminently anxious that the heart should be moulded and sanctified by the Spirit of God. We want the affections to be raised to Heaven, and to be enkindled with fire from the celestial altar. We want God to be emphatically sought—his aid to be implored— his presence and blessing to be enjoyed in all things. We therefore need, at the present crisis in our history, a general and fine development of the spirit of prayer. All, at the beginning of the year, must pray, and we must all pray more. Our supplications must be more frequent, more direct, more fervid, more agonising: we must wrestle, and continue to wrestle, in prayer, until we have the blessing. What light can be scattered without prayer? What error can be checked without prayer? What prejudices against the truth can be subdued without prayer? What enemies can be discomfited, and put to shame, without prayer? How can individuals be blest without prayer? How can sinners be awakened and brought to God without prayer? How can the peace, the holiness, and the enlargement of the church of Christ be secured without prayer, and much prayer? Let us, in entering on the year 1852, prefer more simple, fervent, and concentrated prayers than we have ever yet done. May the true “Spirit of grace and supplication" rest upon us, in all our characters, all the relations of life, and for the general good; then, a special benediction from Heaven will rest upon us, upon all our plans, efforts, and instrumentality. The prayer of a whole people, at the commencement of the year, must issue in copious and signal blessings during its continuance, and throughout succeeding years. To begin the year well, we must commence it, Fourthly, with unlimited submission to the will of God. There must be no distrust of his care, his fidelity, his goodness. There must be no want of confidence in his wise and paternal administration. There must be no dissatisfaction with his allotments or arrangements. There must be no murmuring against his procedure. We cannot commence the year wisely and well, unless this spirit be felt and displayed. God must be submitted to, from the first day of the year to the last, and our submission must be enlightened, unqualified, and devotional. It must be the submission of disciples to their Teacher—of subjects to their Sovereign—of children to their wise and benignant Father in heaven. We know not what clouds may encircle us—what difficulties may perplex us—what dangers may environ us—what enemies may assail us—what changes may depress us, during the year 1852; but this we know, that, if submission to God be exercised, and if our submission be enlightened, child-like, and uncomplaining, we shall be able to exclaim—“All is right! All is well, and all must be well
—the end will fully justify the Divine arrangements and procedure.” Begin the year, then, dear readers, animated and imbued with this fine temper, and you will realize, while it advances, its blessed, its glorious results, – results which will exert the happiest influence, not only on your own minds and character, but prove of the utmost importance to your families, and to the church of God. To begin the year well, we must com. mence it, Fifthly, With a determination, if life should be prolonged, for the advancement of the glory of Christ. We must take no lower aim. We must propose no inferior object. We must be prompted by no other motive. We must be impelled by no other desire. The hours of the year, the days of the year, the weeks of the year, and the months of the year, as they successively glide away, are all to be consecrated to the Redeemer, that his name may be magnified—that his honour may be subserved —that his grace may be exalted—that his purposes of infinite love and mercy may be accomplished. This is the right use of life; this is its true and sublime improvement. The question should be with each reader, at the beginning of the year, “What can I do for the Saviour, while it continues? How may I diffuse his gospel, extend his kingdom, and be the instrument of still more widely disseminating the blessings of his free salvation?" This is to be my grand business—my uniform, my one aim. When the year is thus begun, with a fixed and enlightened resolve to glorify Christ Jesus, it becomes a year of prayer —a year of effort—a year of usefulness —a year of sublime and holy ends. Much is anticipated—much is done— much is enjoyed. How is it with you, dear readers, in these respects? Are you all disposed—all qualified—all determined to glorify the Son of God—the Redeemer of the world, at the com
mencement of another year? and are you intensely anxious to spend the year in such a manner, as that “He who in all things is to have the pre-eminence," may be supremely honoured? Happy the person who can at once respond— “This is my sincere, my high, my only aspiration 1" Now, if we begin the year 1852 well, in the manner, and governed by the spirit and principles, to which we have referred, we shall realize great and precious advantages. For example, We shall have the testimony of a good conscience during the year, and this is no ordinary comfort—no insignificant blessing. The testimony of an approving conscience, as the months revolve, will be clear, direct, full, and most satisfactory; and, as Matthew Henry observes, “It is a good thing to have the bird in the bosom singing sweetly." If we thus begin the year, we shall be prepared for all the duties and events of the year. The duties to which we may be called this year may be more diversified and arduous than ever—sometimes extraordinary; still, there will be seasonable and requisite qualifications bestowed, as they successively recur; the events of the year may, in many respects, be new, be stirring, and most important; still, we shall be fitted for their approach, and for their daily and continual realization, while we see the hand of God in all. If we thus begin the year, we shall be divinely supported amidst all its trials, and this will be to us no trifling boon—no ordinary blessing; to have the mind kept in a tranquil and happy state, when experiencing one affliction and another, and to find, as one circumstance of distressandsorrow, and another, may be occurring, that there is a fountain of living consolation to which we can repair, and the pellucid and celestial waters of which we can continually drink. If we thus begin the year, we shall be secured amidst all the perils of the
year. Whether those perils may be seen or unseen — whether they arise from enemies without or within— whether they spring from the world or the devil—whether they may be connected with our position in the family, or society generally—we shall be perpetually shielded by the providence of God, and fortified by the grace of God —that providence will succour us invariably—that grace will preserve us effectually.
And be it remembered, that if commencing the year under the influence of the spirit inculcated and recommended, we should be removed by death before the year terminate, we shall only be translated to that world where
“Life's unbroken joy begins, And life's unending Sabbath reigns,— The peace and rest of heaven.”
The journey of mortality will only come to a close. The stream of the present shadowy existence will be crossed, and the wide and unbounded ocean of immortality will be entered, where we shall realize a fulness of bliss which will never be interrupted, and never cloy.
When the above considerations are regarded, how important does human life, in all its phases, all its aspects, all its duties, all its temptations, all its difficulties, all its discipline, appear ! How solemn its beginning—its continuance—its close ! How pregnant with great issues—how inevitably resulting in a tremendous and changeless doom! How necessary to be seriously contemplated — to be soberly anticipated, as its years approach—to be diligently prepared for;-and for the end— the awful end—to be weighed 1
“Life begun is solemn, But what awe surrounds it, when its close Draws nigh! Then, all shadows flee away, And everything is real—is awful!”
How true is the remark, that “our life is full of mysteries, though its events