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No disposition of the human mind is more baneful in its influence and effects than Envy: it may well be termed, "A miserable Affection (a);" and yet, perhaps, there is no one to which we are naturally more prone;"The spirit that is in us lusteth to envy (b)." Superior talents, accomplishments, possessions, or prospects, excite this temper, and feed it; and it is easily discoverable by expressions which have a tendency to undermine or lessen the reputation, &c. of the objects of it; an eagerness to discern some defects in them, light to report and aggravate it. Many arguments might be urged against this temper:the following are deducible from Scripture:
and a de
1. It is a work of the flesh (c); and, if reigning, is a proof of unregeneracy (d).
2. It brings its own punishment (e).
3. It is represented as exceeding other sins in its effects (f); and always connected with other sins (g).
4. It is recorded as a principal ingredient in the guilt of those who crucified the Lord of Glory (h).
5. It is a main spring in persecution (¿).
6. In the future predicted state of the church, it shall be done away (k).
7. We are expressly commanded to lay it aside (1).
8. It is directly contrary to the spirit of love and the fear of God (m).
Let all, especially professors of godliness, consider this subject with that attention and seriousness which it demands and deserves. Our conversation too often has a taint of this temper. The prayer which many use every Sabbath, will well suit all:-"From all Envy, good Lord deliver us!"
(a) Spectator, No. XIX. (c) Gal. v. 21.
(b) James iv. 5.
Rom. i. 29. 1 Cor. iii. 3. (d) Titus iii. 3. (e) Job v. 2. Isaiah xxvi. 11. Prov. xiv. 30. (f) Prov. xxvii. 4. (g) James iii. 16. (h) Mat. xxvii. 18. Mark xv. 10. () Acts v. 17. margin. Acts xiii. 45. xvii. 5. (4)
Pet.. 1. Rom. xiii. 13.
(k) Isaiah xi. 13. (m) 1 Cor. xiii. 4. Prov. xxiii. 17.
THE MISERABLE INFIDEL.
(Taken from the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine.)
To the Editor.
Ir has often been observed, that the greatest degree of error and stupidity concerning moral obligation and duty, and a state of retribution in the world to come, is found in certain persons who have been the subjects of serious impressions, and by long resisting their own con. sciences and the striving of God's Spirit, have provoked him to leave them to their own blindness and lusts. As a warning to others, I have transmitted you the following instance :
A MAN who possessed reason and sagacity above the common proportion, and about the age of thirty, fell into such a state of debility as rendered him incapable of much attention to business. Before this, he had discovered an inordinate attachment to property, and omitted neither diligence, nor art, nor parsimony, to obtain it. His state was called Hypochondrive by his neighbours; for a certain recluseness of temper prevented his communicating to them the distracting feelings of his mind. When he was in this state, I accidentally passed a day in his company. After a short conversation, I discovered marks of a wounded conscience, and told him my suspicion, that his whole disorder proceeded from anxiety on spiritual accounts. Finding I had detected his feelings, he made a frank acknowledgment it was the case; but solicited that it might remain a secret with me. He told me of sundry times, in his past life, when, for short seasons, his conscience had continually accused him. He had seen himself to be a sinner, if there were any truth in the scriptures; and he dreaded an appearance before God, as the most awful of all events; still he could not bear to think of another kind of life, and of parting with those worldly designs which had governed his past conduct. He said he had been many months in this situation; and something continually sounded in his ears that he was a sinner, that he must die and come to judgment, and without another state of heart, must be miserable; but, added he, "I cannot part with my worldly schemes. I must again be a man of business; I have just laid a foundation for success; and if I give way to these apprehensions, there is an end of my prospects. This I own to be the cause of all my gloom, and if I could put another world, and my own preparations for it out of sight, I should again be a happy inan."
1 immediately perceived, that although he felt some conviction of the truth, he was contending with one who will prevail. I set before him the danger of resisting such impressions; the folly of preferring an avaricious life of gain to the immortal
interest of his soul; and the superior wisdom of subordinating all our worldly labours, views, and hopes to our eternal wellbeing. I endeavoured to shew him his true state, his need of another heart, the danger of his being left to a most ruinous blindness, and to eternal misery. After much solemn conversation, we parted.
Nearly a year from this time, we had another opportunity for free discourse. It was sought by himself, with an evident design to confront and reproach me, for the exhortation I had given him with the most friendly intention. I instantly saw that his seriousness was departed, and his conscience seared. By his own account, he continued several months longer in that state of apprehension and resistance to the truth which has been described; when he came to the rash opinion, that the whole of his past feelings were but an hypochondriac gloom; and supported himself by the following argument: -" You know that hypochondriacism is a false imagination of the mind; and within one week after I detected my folly in being so anxious for another world, I became well and happy, and have so continued." He further added, I now think that all the notions I have had concerning the holiness of God, and the rewards of another world, are false. As to sin, it is evident there can be no such thing; nor shall I any more exist after this body dies, than those trees before us will exist hereafter, and be happy or miserable." But,' replied I, 'is it not a gloomy thought, that your existence will cease when your body dies?' "As for that," he answered, "I cannot help it; and we must make the most of what we have." I perceived him determined not to think, lest it should make him unhappy; and on my solicitously urging him to review the momentous subject, he became peevish, and said I was trying to give myself importance in the world, by all I said concerning religion.
His life, for several years after this, was such as might be expected from his principles. Riches were his idol. His parsimony preserved him from licentious excess. Honest men detested the principles by which they saw him to be governed. His unprincipled associates were afraid of falling under his power. There was something in his countenance indescribeable, that marked him for another Cain; and while many, through neces sity, resorted to him for assistance, there was not a man on earth that loved him. Passing over several parts of his conduct, which evidently proceeded from an endeavour to erase from his mind a sense of moral obligation, of sin, and a state where impertinent sinners shall receive a reward according to their deeds, I shall now come to his death-bed. A just Providence forbade him a long state of decay, as a season of admonition and preparation for eternity. He had his call before, and it was rejected. An awful accident in a moment placed
him in a hopeless state, and within two days of his exit from this world. This accident, though fatal, did not immediately affect his head; and the powers of reason were in full strength.
Now, behold, the man who exploded moral obligation, denied the existence of sin, determined there was no future life, and consequently no punishment for him; and all this for the sake of gaining and enjoying this world without the molestations of his own conscience. True it is, that, in this awful moment, he was left to a great degree of judicial blindness concerning another world, the nature of hopeful preparation for death, and the just and eternal reward of sin; but misery and dismay rose upon him from a quarter he did not expect. His beloved scheme of ceasing to exist at death, became his terror. "And have I now," said he, "done with existence? Shall I presently cease to think, to see, to feel? Am I to exist but a few moments filled with pain, and then lie down to be nothing for ever? I am pained for the fruits of my labour; I have laboured for nothing; - I cannot bid farewell to the earnings of so many years."
On being told, by one who had not known his previous opinions, That he certainly should exist; and that the future being of men was indicated by nature, and made sure by scriptural evidence, an aspect of still greater horror settled on his countenance; and, after a pause of a minute, he replied, "If those Scriptures are true, eternity will be more dreadful to me than the loss of being. I will not believe them; yet, how dreadful the idea of sinking into eternal thoughtless night!"This struggle of feeling lasted but a few minutes before this miserable man either sunk into the eternal sleep which he dreaded, or opened his eyes in an eternity to him more dreadful!
Such are the dying comforts of impiety and infidelity. Thus, at last, will the excuses and pleas of irreligion torment those who adopt them in their lives to quiet an accusing conscience, and resist the warnings of the Holy Spirit, who strives with men. This is a fearful example of that blindness into which many are left judicially to fall, thro'grieving the Spirit of grace.
To this striking Narrative, we beg leave to add the following im pressive Passage from a Sermon, on 2 Pet. ii. 11, delivered by the Rev. Mr. Mason, of New York, when in London, and communicated by a Friend who heard it :
BUT there are men who set up for wise men: they have discovered the imposture, they have found out the cheat; they wish to unshackle you, they would release you from your thraldom. From your thraldom! What, from the thraldom of a hope of the everlasting kingdom? Do you wish to be
released from such thraldom? God have mercy on you if you do! Have they aught to give in compromise? Can they tell us what awaits beyond that grave? No; if they think at all, it is darkness, uncertainty, and dread conjecture. The laugh of a fool is a miserable exchange for an eternal hope. Why, cruel philosopher, would you take away the joy of my heart? Why would you remit me to the melancholy thought of no paternal providence, no redeeming love? Enjoy your guilt alone; breathe out your complaints to the woods and to the rocks; curse not me with your discoveries, nor kill me with your truths. Oh, comfortless Heavens! Oh, melancholy earth! Oh, gloomy world! Oh, wretched nature! without the prospect of an entrance into the Master's kingdom. How loud the winds howl! How loud the waves roar! How cruel the storm! Tossed hither and thither by the tempest, directed by no pilot, but where Lethe flows, where the black river of Oblivion rolls! Oh! no, no, no; not upon such terms. Keep your discoveries: we won't give up our hope of “an entrance into the kingdom;" and we will press closer to our hearts the precious volume which reveals it to us. This is the anchor of our souls."
For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amolck, from generation to generation. Exodus xvii. 16.
SAURIN says, That the Hebrew of this text is equivocal: it signifies literally," because of the hand on the throne of God, war of God against Amalek from generation to generation:" and from Patrick, he observes, That it is pretended that, in some countries, to put the hand upon the throne was a ceremony that attended a solemn oath; as laying it on the altar was in other places. This was as much as our laying the hand on the Bible: a principal external character of an oath.. Whence Juvenal says, Atheists do intrepidos altaria tangere, touch the altars boldly without trembling; that is, make no conscience of an oath.
Evening, and Morning, and at Noon, will I pray.
Ps. lv. 17
THE frequency and the particular seasons of prayer are circumstances chiefly connected with the situation and disposition of such persons as habituate themselves to this exercise; but from a singular conformity of practice, in persons remote,
Dissertations, vol. i. p. 333.
† Sat. xiii. v. 8.