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danger is their denial or neglect of Divine Providence, which determines victories and defeats without any regard to numbers or strength.
We would now gladly turn our thoughts to a more pleasing theme, the Invasion of Satan's Kingdom by the Prince of Peace; but this must be deferred for another Number.
To the Editor.
In answer to the request of Narcissa, in your Magazine for August, I have ventured the following thoughts. If you deem them at all satis. factory, or likely to prove useful to the minds of any of your readers, you are at liberty to insert them.
ON THE DESIRE OF DEATH.
THOUGH, from an original principle of our nature, we love and cherish that existence the Creator has given us, yet there are certainly some cases, where the desire of dissolution is neither unnatural nor unlawful.
By dissolution here, is not meant an absolute privation of being: a thought disclaimed by every Christian, as without foundation either in philosophy or religion. The idea conveyed by the word, is merely a separation of constituent parts, and applied to man: such a separation as consigns the grosser part to decay, while the other, which is immortal, is transmitted to a new state of being. An apostle, speaking of death as it concerns believers, compares it with great happi-, ness; to the pulling down of an insufficient cumbersome house, that the occupier might take possession of a more elegant and durable abode: "for we know," says he, " that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens *"
A lawful desire of death is incompatible with any character but that of a good man: eternity has no charms for the sin
2 Cor. v. 1. O'idaμer yog, &c. for we know that if this our house, which has its foundation in the earth (iniyoç) and is erected, like a tabernacle, for temporary purposes, were broken down (xaraλub) we have a solid building of God (do) a house, which, as no hands made it, no hands can overthrow, eternal in the heavens.
ner. He dreads a change of circumstances, which must wrest from his eager grasp the source of all his pleasures and his hopes. He has no pretensions beyond the present world. When dangers, that threaten his existence approach, how dreadful are the agitations of his soul! he looks with terror on the stroke that breaks his house of clay, and, vainly pertinacious, clings to the falling pile! the appointed hour arrives, admits of no respite, and "the wicked is driven away in his wickedness."
But the man whose faith has been to him "the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen," has feelings of a very different nature. It is consistent with his habitual expectations to view death without horror, nay, with composure and serenity of mind. "The righteous hath hope in his death." The sublime conceptions he has formed of the glories of a future state, and his firm dependence on Him who bas purchased and secured them for his possession, pluck the sting from death, and triumph over the fears of humanity. In this world he has tribulation; but in the next he realizes uninterrupted happiness. Here, his best services are clogged with imperfections, and the clearest visions of his faith are obscure; in Heaven he expects a perfect freedom in his praise, and a beatific sight of his God face to face.
So far then, from regretting his departure, the believer welcomes the messenger that calls him hence. Wrapt about in the righteousness of his Redeemer, he can look forward to his change with a cheerful anticipation; and with firm establishment of mind, bid adieu to all below. A writer of Mrs. Rowe's life observes, that " when her acquaintance expressed to her the joy they felt at seeing her look so well, and possessed of so much health as promised many years to come," she was wont to reply, that it was the same as telling a slave his fetters were like to be lasting, or complimenting him on the strength of the walls of his dungeon.' "And (continues he) the fervour of her wishes to commence the life of angels, irresistibly broke from her lips in numberless other instances."
But the desire of death to be lawful, must arise from proper sources. Such, in my humble opinion, may be reckoned the following:
I. A holy thirsting of the soul after a more complete enjoyment of the love and presence of a gracious God, than is consistent with the present state.
From this source arose the desire of the apostle, expressed in the following energetic language, "In this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from Hea ven;" and again," we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened, not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality may be swallowed up of life." Can it be unnatural for a soul, whose faith strongly realizes the blessed
ness of a future world, and the enlargement of capacity she will there receive for the reception of that blessedness, to long for the hour which breaks off her connection with things below, and gives her leave to soar to the object of her love?Surely not. Devotion is in lively exercise; the affections are purified from low attachments; the soul aspires to union with her God; and the violence that is necessary to effect it, is not feared, but fervently desired for its blessed consequences. Her language is," As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so pant I after thee, O God; I thirst for God, for the living God! When shall I come, and appear before God ?”
II. A conviction of the mind, grounded on the peculiar dealings of God's providence, that a dissolution is about to take place.
In this case the will is entirely absorbed in the determination of God. The mind of the believer entertains no wish contrary to this determination. Sometimes, indeed, "he is in a strait between two;" but often feels a predominant " desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better."
III. A holy zeal to glorify God by death, in case of persecu
Here the saint is no strait. If the enemies of religion threaten, Behold," says he, "I am ready, not to be bound only, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus!" He even rejoices that he is counted worthy to suffer shame for his sake, and exults under the persecutions of a Nero, in the consideration that "he is ready to be offered, and that the time of his departure is at hand." "Having fought a good fight, finished his course and kept the faith, there is laid up for him a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge shall give him at that day."
From the above sources, if from any, the desire of death may be lawfully indulged. But, to close the subject with a few cautionary hints, I would observe, that a cheerful resignation to the will of God, in all cases, is a clear and constantly binding duty; the desire of death, extraordinary and peculiar. A preference of heavenly and eternal things to those that are earthly and temporal, is likewise a constant and peremptory duty; but the time to be put in complete enjoyment, ought to rest with the Divine Disposer of our persons and our lives. All discontent and impatience under the dispensations of Providence, ought carefully to be avoided. In all cases, a fortitude of mind should be earnestly implored and unceasingly cultivated, to endure the whole will of God, to whose service we profess ourselves devoted, having our minds in unison with the apostle, who laboured, that whether absent or present, he might be accepted of God.
DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH INVASION, 1588.
Ar a period when the invasion of England is threatened by the French Consul, when the whole nation is laudibly preparing for defence, and when the people of God are incessantly crying to him for help, it may not be unseasonable nor unacceptable to present our readers with a brief recital of the gracious interposition of Heaven in favour of this country, more than 200 years ago.
Philip II. King of Spain had prepared in Portugal, at Naples, and in Sicily, a fleet, called the Invincible Armada. It consisted of 150 great ships, in which were embarked 19,000 men, and 2630 pieces of cannon. The Duke of Parma had also caused an army of 30,000 men to approach the coast of Flanders; and had prepared a great number of vessels to transport them to England, in concert with the Spanish fleet. The project was to station the ships at the mouth of the Thames, to assist the troops, who were to march directly to London.
Queen Elizabeth fitted out a considerable fleet, inferior, however, to that of Spain; the command of which was given to Lord Effingham, Drake, Hawkins, and Forbisher, the most skilful sea-officers in the world. Forty sail of ships were also stationed on the coast of Flanders, to prevent the junction of the Duke of Parina's troops, with those on board the Spanish Armada. There was also an army of 40,000 men in England; 3000 of which were posted near the mouth of the Thames. The sea-ports were fortified, and signals were everywhere appointed.
The Armada sailed out of the Tagus on the 3d of June; but in a few days the ships were so dispersed by a storm, that they could not rejoin till they came to the Groyne; from whence they did not sail till the 12th of July. On the 23d, a sharp engagement took place between the English and the Spanish Fleets; the former having previously kept close to the latter, and occasionally taken some of their ships. In this engagement the Spaniards obtained no advantage; for the unwieldiness of their vessels, and the agility of the English, made it easy for the latter to stand off and on, and so to balance the superiority of their enemies. The Spaniards had now such a proof of the valour and skill of the English, that they began to think very differently of their enterprize.
On the 27th the Armada anchored off Calais, the English fleet being still within gun-shot. In the night of the 28th, the English admiral sent eight fire-ships among their fleet. This struck them with so much terror, that, instantly cutting their cables, they put out to sea to avoid the impending danger.
In this confusion the admiral's ship having lost her rudder, floated up and down till next day, when she was taken by the English. Though the Spanish admiral had ordered every ship to return to her station as soon as the danger was over, and made a signal for that purpose, yet few endeavoured to obey. The fleet remaining dispersed, some of the ships were driven to the north, and others upon the shallows of Flanders; where they had not only to guard against the sands, but to repel the English, who so played upon them with their cannon, that several ships were disabled, and two of them fell into the hands of the Zealanders: - indeed the whole fleet was in danger of destruction on the coast. They continued steering north, when meeting with unfavourable weather, several of their ships were wrecked on, the coast of Scotland and Ireland, where multitudes of the men were put to the sword, or perished by the hands of the executioner.
Thus failed this mighty enterprize!-thus perished this formidable Armada, boastingly styled Invincible! so that in the months of July and August, were taken or destroyed — fifteen great ships, and 4791 men, in the battle of the Channel; and on the coast of Ireland, in September, seventeen ships and 5394 men; in all thirty-two ships and 10,185 men*. Of the whole numerous armament, only sixty vessels returned to Spain, and those very much shattered.
On this occasion England was filled with an universal joy, Queen Elizabeth ordered a public thanksgiving to God for the great deliverance, and went, Nov. 24, to St. Paul's Church, with great solemnity, to perform the same duty.
The God whom we serve is still the same. His ear is not heavy, so that he cannot hear the prayer of faith; nor is his arm shortened, that he cannot save, whether by many or by few. On him let Britain still call; on him let Britain still depend. He who defeated the Spanish Armada can as easily destroy that of France, and fill our happy land with shouts of praise to our Divine Deliverer.
Pontificem mille annorum Indulgentias largiturum esse de plenitu dine potestatis suæ, siquis certò sibi indicaverit, quid sit factum de classe Hispanica quò abierit: in cælumne sublata; an ad Tartara detrusa: vel in alicubi aere pendeat; an in aliquo mari fluctuet.
WHAT is the conduct a Christian ought to pursue when called in the path of duty into a mixed company, where, im mediately after partaking of the bounties of Providence, it is directly followed by an immodest or improper toast?