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The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." — Jer. viii. 20.
Such was the mournful conclusion of ¦ncient Israel ; mournful indeed, if only applied to their political state, as a nation suffering the horrors of an invading army ; for it is supposed that, at this period, Jerusalem was a besieged city, and that Israel, instead of humbling themselves before God and imploring the interposition of his power, had listened unto the deceptive language of the false prophets, who flattered them with a speedy deliverance ; but the period of promised deliverance came ; it passed by, and salvation was unknown. But still more mournful is this conclusion, when applied to their moral state, as a people who had allowed gracious opportunities of spiritual salvation to pass by unim-
proved. Such opportunities they had frequently been favoured with ; for God had sent unto them all his servants, the prophets, who had plainly warned them of danger, and had clearly pointed out to them the only way of deliverance. Among these the prophet Jeremiah took a lofty station : he loved his country, and wept over her desolations ; he traced all her calamities unto the wickedness of her inhabitants; and their sin he faithfully reproved, and their reformation he diligently sought; yet his labours among them were so fruitless and despised, that he declared, " When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me." There were, however, seasons when they were constrained to reflect on their ways, and were made sensible of the folly and danger of their conduct. Vol. II 20
This appears to have been their state when, in the anguish of their distress, they exclaimed, " The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." These words, in whatever sense they were employed by Israel, are descriptive of the moral state of many at this day, who, after all that God has done for them and to them and with them, are constrained, on reflection from conviction, to confess, " Many favoured harvests of blessings have passed by, and many summer seasons of valuable opportunities have ended, but we are not saved from the dominion of sin and danger of eternal death." Solemn thought ! — serious consideration ! This scripture, suggested by the present season of the year, is calculated to promote our instruction in righteousness, by attending to those important truths it presents unto the reflecting mind. From it we observe.
First, To PROMOTE OUR SALVATION
FROM THE DOMINION AND CONSEQUENCES OF SIN, WE ARE GRACIOUSLY FAVOURED OF God WITH AN ABUNDANCE OF SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS.
The word harvest, whether it be employed literally or figuratively, is a word expressive of abundance ; so that harvest blessings are abundant blessings ; and numerous are the blessings with which we are favoured of God, designed by him to promote our salvation. Among many we notice a few, deserving of consideration. To promote our salvation, God has granted unto us.
First, The teaching of his gospel. 153
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That the gospel is designed of God and calculated to promote the salvation of man, is manifest from the nature and import of those instructions which it affords ; for, by the gospel, we are instructed concerning the r.ecessHy of salvation. Thus, it informs us that man is naturally depraved, that he is born in sin, bringing into the world with him corrupt principles and carnal propensities, being so far gone from original righteousness that he is of his own nature inclined to evil. It informs us, that this depravity is so deep that his very thoughts are evil in the sight of God, his mind enmity itself against God, and his heart desperately wicked before God ; thus proving, that it is impossible for those who are in the flesh to please God. It informs us that this de5
pravity is universal — that no individual has escaped " the fault and corruption of our nature" — that it is as wide as the empire of the human race ; for " all flesh has corrupted God's way upon the earth." It informs us that this depravity is invariably manifested in the life — that the tree being evil, the fruit is evil also — that God brings the charge of sin against all mankind ; so that, " if we say we have no sin and have not sinned, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us " It further informs us, that this depraviiy is so dangerous to man and so oflTensive to God, that by nature we are all the children of wrath, having the wrath of God abiding on us. Thus does the gospel teach, that we may see our moral state and the great necessity of salvation. Also, the provision if salvation. Thus, the gospel informs us that God has not left man unto the consequences of his depravity ; on the contrary, in order to save him from its miseries, he has laid help on
one who is mighty to deliver, even his only and beloved Son. It informs us that, for this purpose, the Father spared not his Son ; but when, to rescue man from the curse of sin, it became necessary that one should bear the sin of all, and by death make atonement for all, .Tesus being the only one qualified to make that atonement, the Father gave him up to the demands of justice and power of death ; yea, that his death, in its nature, was
sacrificial ; in its effects, answerable unto the designs of grace ; and, as a propitiation, so acceptable unto God, that through Christ, all the human race may find mercy. Thus does the gospel teach man, that he may be cheered with the hope of and encouraged to seek for salvation. Further, the gospel instructs us concerning Ike method (f salvation. It informs us, that though God has so abun7
dantly provided for the salvation of man, yet, by him, none are saved irresistibly — that, on the part of man, there must be a penitent mind, a yielding will, and a believing heart — that true repentance must and will appear in sorrow for past sin, and in an entire abandonment of sin — that a yielding will must be manifested by obedience unto all the commands of God — and that faith must have for its object, Christ crucified, in whose blood there is redemption of soul and forgiveness of sin. Thus does the gospel teach that man may be brought into a state of salvation, and " know him whom to know is life eternal."
Secondly, Warnings of his providence. To the ministry of the gospel many are careless ; they neglect it, or they slumber under it ; thus the voice of Providence is employed to rouse them to concern. Providence is frequently the voice of God to man, and by this he speaks with power
and terror; and beyond the sound of this j voice none can go, and all are subject I unto its visitations ; and by the warnings * of Providence the salvation of man is designed of God. For this purpose, .Jehovah warns hy dreadful calamities. Thus the stormy tempest that lifts up the waves of the sea and dashes in pieces the firmbuilt ship, entombing the crew and passengers in the grave of the deep, is the voice of God unto man ; the irresistible blast that spreads desolation and death through the dark mines of the earth, is the voice of God to man; the forked lightning that darts with inconceivable rapidity from the heavens, and shivers the oak of the forest, consumes the cattle of ^ the field, penetrates into the dwelling of I man, and in a moment deprives him of ¦ being, is the voice of God unto man ; and ¦ by these calamities mortals are warned
THE DUTY OF IMPROVING GOD'S VISITATIONS.
of the absolute power of God. By prevailing sickness and disease. Thus God is pleased to visit nations, cities, and neighbourhoods, with mortal malady. The
be stifled, and his drawings be withstood, and sin be committed, then the influence of the Spirit is felt in the bitter reflections of guilt, in the piercing anguish of
burning fever, the fatal dysentery, and ; remorse, in the keen upbraidings of con-
appalling cholera, scatter the arrows of | science for the past, and in the horror and death in all directions, bereaving parents j fear which attends the thought of the of their beloved children and depriving future ; and why these diversified operachildren of the protection of their affec-tions of the Holy Spirit] Doubtless, their
tionate parents ; and by these visitations God warns his creatures of their vanity, and teaches them that neither health, strength, nor youth, can secure continued health. — By sudden death. A friend, a neighbour, perhaps a relative, in the slumbers of the night, or engaged with the party of pleasure, or amidst the busy bustle of business, is arrested by the cold hand of death, and in a moment numbered with the dead. By these events men are warned of the nearness of death, the danger of delaying a preparation for death, and the advantage of living fully prepared
for that solemn hour.
Thirdly, Injluence-of his Spirit. Even the warnings of Providence are overlooked by many, or soon forgotten. God has therefore graciously granted his Spirit to follow men at all times, and into all circumstances, that by it he may work in them his pleasure. The influence of this Spirit is manifested by convincing men of the evil of sin. Not only that sin is an evil in its nature, but an evil against the soul — that it cannot be committed but to the soul's injury; so that it is an evil for man to yield unto its power. Thus we are imboldened to assert, that few sin ignorantly ; that most, if not all, feel a revolting conscience from sin, and an accusing conscience for sin, and this conscience is of the Spirit. By drawing men from sin. Thus, when sin is planned, contemplated, and resolved on, it is the Spirit that cries " avoid it, pass by it, and turn away." When the path of sin
is entered, it is the Spirit that again cries, " Let the wicked man forsake his ways ;" and to the language of this Spirit, kw, if any, are entire strangers. Nor does the
Spirit merely speak against sin ; he also< garner of the church. — We observe,
kindly oflTers his powerful aid to help man to resist sin. By reproving men for sin. Should the convictions of the Spirit
object is the salvation of man.
Fourthly, Labours of faithful ministers. To gather the harvest, reapers are required ; and to promote our salvation, God employs ministers who are spiritual
reapers. Thus the gospel is not only compared to the plough, and its truths to seed, but ministers to husbandmen and reapers. Under this character they are spoken of by Christ : " The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers (reapers) are few." To them, in this character, this promise may be applied : " He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." In this character, they are designed of God to be blessings unto the world, by gathering the souls of men into the kingdom of grace. With this blessing in this land we are abundantly favoured of God. Days have been known, even in Britain, when the word of the Lord was so precious that there was no "open vision" — when the heralds of salvation were not found one among many thousand ; but in our day the word of the Lord is multiplied, and great is the number of those who publish it ; so that all in our land may
hear " the joyful sound." Thus we prove the truth of the ancient promise ; " Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Our eyes frequently see our teachers — they statedly stand on the walls of Zion, blowing the warning trumpet, and proclaiming the oflTers of peace, beseeching us, in Christ's stead, to be reconciled unto God ; and thus they become the savour of life unto life, to all who believe their report, and allow themselves to be drawn by them into the
Secondly, To promote our salvation,
WE ARE NOT ONLY FAVOURED OF GoD WITH AN ABUNDANCE OF SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS,
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BUT ALSO WITH NUMEROUS GRACIOUS SEASONS AND FAVOURABLE OPPORTUNITIES.
The summer is the season accounted favourable for the performance of particular works; and with such seasons, in reference to the special work of our salvation, we are graciously favoured of God. For this purpose, he grants,
First, A summer season of youth. Though we do not deem it impossible for aged persons to obtain salvation, yet it must be confessed that such events are far from being numerous, and that they are attended with many hinderances. They are hindered by a stubbornness of disposition — a dulness of apprehension — the
power of long established habits of evil, and the absence of express promise : but though no promise is given unto the aged, as aged persons, to encourage them to expect the mercy of their offended God, yet the summer season of youth is encouraged by special promise, such as, " Those that seek me early shall find me." Thus the young are divinely assured that the early dedication of themselves unto God, is highly acceptable in his sight — that it is his pleasure concerning them, and that they will meet with a gracious reception. Again, this summer season is not only favoured with cheering promises, but, in the performance of this duty, the young have not such difficulties to contend with as the aged have ; a long course of sin has not spread its baneful influence over their passions and principles ; in them there is not so much to be undone, removed, and forgiven as in the aged ; nor have they such bitter regrets to feel, nor such desponding thoughts to
encounter, as those must have who defer the concerns of their souls unto the "winter period of life. This summer season is also generally favoured with the smiles of health, vigour of strength, power of memory, and freedom from anxious care and painful solicitude respecting their worldly circumstances; and all these are favourable to spiritual prosperity. Young people, this is your summer season : work while the gospel sun shines upon you with such meridian glory.
Secondly, Summer season of affliction. Dispensations of affliction, however pain-
ful to the body and distressing to the mind, are generally gracious visitations designed of God to promote our spiritual benefit. They afford opportunities for solemn thought, holy meditation, serious inquiry, important reflection, and faithful
self-examination. By them we are reminded of our dependence on God — that life and health are at his disposal, and that it is an easy thing with him to bring us down into the dust of death. By them, when rightly exercised, the mind is humbled, the heart is softened, the will brought into submission, and a teachableness of disposition produced. By affliction, many have been brought to repent of their sinful conduct, to call upon God for his mercy, and resolve to amend their ways and their doings, and some from them have dated their new creation. With such summer seasons many present have been favoured. You can call to remembrance when Providence seemed to frown on your path, and you were brought into circumstances of difficulty and distress. You can recollect when certain members of your family were laid on the bed of suffering, and you had reason to fear their sickness would be unto death ; yea, when your own bodies
were oppressed with pain and weakened by disease, and you appeared to be drawing near unto the eternal world — and why these dispensations 1 No doubt they were granted of God to work in you salvation, that you, also, might say, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted."
Thirdly, Summer season of special visitations (f grace. That nations have been favoured with special spiritual visitations, is a scriptural truth ; and that individuals are thus visited, is manifest from general experience. There is scarcely an individual but who has felt, not only what may be termed the ordinary striving of the Spirit of God, but also the very powerful influence of that Spirit; and that, especiall)' in seasons of suffering, in the retirement of solitude, in the ordinances of religion, and under the powerful minis- ¦ try of the gospel, when they have been " filled with fear, roused to concern, melted down with contrition, and mightily drawn
to give themselves unto God. Have not
THE DUTY OF IMPROVING GOD'S VISITATIONS.
many of you experienced such visitations when " the kingdom of God has come nigh you" — when the powers of the world to come have been tasted by you — when a voice you have distinctly heard, and a voice you clearly understood, said unto you, " This is the accepted time of salvation." Those visitations have been repeated atrain and ag'ain. And why this special influence of divine grace 1 Doubtless, for the purpose of assisting you to " make your calling and election sure."
Thirdly, It is possible for spiritual
BLESSINGS AND FAVOURABLE OPPORTUNITIES TO PASS AWAY, AND LEAVE MAN A STRANGER TO SALVATION. The bloSsiugS
of the most abundant harvest have an end, and the longest summer comes to a close ; so will the blessings and opportunities of salvation, and this they may do and man remain destitute of salvation. This truth is variously confirmed : we observe,
First, The word of God asserts the truth. There are few truths more explicitly revealed than this, and doubtless it is revealed with clearness for our solemn warning. In an early age of the world Jehovah declared, " My Spirit shall not alway strive with man." By this scripture it is plainly intimated, that the Spirit of God may be withdrawn from many, with whom he has long strove, and the
periods of his strivings have an end. Of this Israel was warned when Jehovah declared, " Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee." And, " Wo also to them when I depart from them." Indeed, were ii not possible for them to pass away unimproved, and leave man a stranger to salvation, what can those scriptures moan, which declare the existence of such tremendous circumstances, such as, " Because I have called, and ye refused — I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded ; but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamities, I will mock when your fear cometh. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer ; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me."
Secondly, Numerous facta establish the
truth. We are well aware that there is a disposition in man to call such facts in question, and to conclude, there is such abundant mercy with God that he never has and never will consign an immortal soul to everlasting destruction. But facts, numerous and indisputa'tle, show that blessings and opportunities may pass away unimproved ; and when they do so, finally, why should we hesitate to declare, that destruction — endless destruction, must follow 1 Ask me for facts to prove this awful truth ] I refer you to the old world. They had a long and favoured opportunity, all the days Noah was preparing the ark : God was speaking unto them and waiting to save them ; but they regarded not his longsuffering grace, and the flood came and brought their blessing and opportunities of salvation to an end. Ask me for facts to prove this awful truth 1 I refer you to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, in the days
of the Redeemer's abode with men. They were blessed with the works, example, and ministry of Christ and his apostles. They saw the wonders which attended the Saviour's death, and they heard of the power of his resurrection, yet what was the ultimate state of thousands? Shall we believe the faithful Amen 1 Hear, then, his testimony. He wept over Jerusalem, saying, " If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace ! but now they are hid from thine eyes." Ask me for facts to prove this awful truth ] I refer you to many aged persons of the present day, who have had many calls and offers of salvation ; but a long life has been spent without God, and now they have sunk into such a state of mental imbecility, that they are not capable of receiving instruction : they have become mentally dead, while dead in trespasses and sins ; and where is the promise of salvation unto such "? Ask me
for facts to prove this awful truth 1 I refer you unto many hearers of the gospel, who, from the days they were seated on their mother's lap and were led by a father's hand, have been trained to observe holy Sabbaths — to attend the house of God, and sit under the ministry of the
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word of life. By tlie gospel they have been convinced, warned, instructed, and invited ; yet, to this moment, they remain strangers unto saving grace. Ask me for facts to prove this awful truth 1 I refer you to the damned in hell. Many of
the inhabitants of perdition were once as you now are — in a state (jf probation. To them the gospel was preached — on them the providence of God called — with them the Spirit of God strove — and among them the ministers of God diligently laboured. They had summer seasons of youth, of affliction, and special visitation ; but death found them in the path of transgression, and now they find themselves with him who once exclaimed, "I am tormented with this flame." Ask me for facts to confirm this awful truth 1 Shall I refer you to yourselves'? Nay, do not shrink from this personal application of the truth : have none of you cause to take up the lamentation of mourning, and say. We have had many bountiful harvests of blessings, and many bright summer seasons of opportunities ; but, alas, " we are not saved !" We observe, once more, Fuurihiy, The state of those who
ARE NOT SAVED BV GRACE IS MOST DEPLO27
RABLE AND PERILOUS. Let US Contemplate the wretclied condition of such. In doing so, we notice.
An unsaved state is a state of guilt. Such are guilty before God, and guilty against God : they have broken his law, and the condemnatory curse of that law rests upon them. They are impure in his sight, and he cannot behold iniquity with pleasure. It is oflfensive to his nature — that " abominable thing which his soul hates."
./?77. unsaved stale is a state nf misery. Real happiness is only to be found in the light of God's countenance; but "the face of the Lord is against them who do evil ;" and where he frowns misery must dwell : so that the unsaved from sin must be strangers unto happiness. Ask them. Have they joy ] " It is like the crackling of thorns under a pot." Ask them. Have they rest? "They are like the troubled
sea which cannot rest !" Ask them. Have they peace 1 " There is no peace, saith my God, unto the wicked."
An unsaved state is a state of dan^ett Not merely of temporal calamities, however tremendous-^of bodily death, however painful ; but the danger of the wrath of God, who is terrible in majesty- — the danger of eternal judgment, which cannot be conceived — the danger of the death of the soul, that death which never dies. In a word, unsaved by grace from the dominion of sin, man is every moment in danger of the eternal curse and consequences of sin. So that an unsaved state is, of all others, the most deplorable and alarming. Let us now,
Fifthly, Apply these important TRUTHS. In doing so, we would consider the language of this scripture as the
First, Penitential regret — regret for having abused such precious blessings and neglected such favourable opportunities. And who can reflect on the worth of the soul, its fallen condition, the misery it is in, and how near it is unto eternal misery — who can reflect on the suitableness of the blessings of salvation to raise the soul from its fallen state, and secure its endless happiness — who can reflect, that a soul so circumstanced, and blessings so valuable, have been neglected and despised, without regret ] Such folly and such wickedness should humble us into the dust, and move a heart of stone to contrition. We tremble for the safety of those who can review God's great goodness, and their great vileness, without deep compunction of mind. We trust, therefore, that you are saying, with feelings of regret, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we regret that we
are not saved."
Secondly, Awakened fear — the fear of a person who discovers his danger, and is concerned about it. And well may this discovery occasion fear — a fear that God, justly displeased with the abuse of past mercies, should henceforward withhold his mercy — a fear lest the horrors of an unsaved state should speedily come upon them. Such conduct on the part of man has merited such abandonment from God. And do you not fear, you who know you are not saved by grace ] — you who are assured, from the word of God, that with-
THE DUTY OF IMPROVING GOD'S VISITATIONS.
out salvation you must perish for ever 1 And can you contemplate your danger of eternal destruction with indifference ¦? God forbid ! Rather, we hope, from real concern, you are saying, " The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we fear for our safety, for we are not saved."
Thirdly, Serious inquiry— the inquiry of those who are anxious to learn whether salvation is yet possible — who are saying, " Can I, after abusing so much goodness —after placing myself in such circumstances of jeopardy, yet obtain salvation'?"
live nf your state P Are yon of the number of the unsaved 1 Reflect on that state. Unsaved, what are you "? The servants of Satan, the enemies of God, the negleclers of Christ, and resisters of the Holy Spi32
rit. Unsaved, where are you ] In the gall of bitterness, in the broad way of destruction, on the awful verge of perdition. Unsaved, what are you doing 1 You are destroying your own souls, rejecting the kingdom of heaven, and making eternal death sure. Unsaved, where are you going? Your path may appear wide,
Thanks to the long-suffering grace of pleasant, and easy; but look to the end
God, it is possible. Your harvest blessings are yet continued — your summer of
of it! See, see! it terminates in hell! Being unsaved, are you satisfied with
life is not yet closed. This, with you, is yourselves, your state, and your pros-
not the inquiry of eternity, but of time. You may be saved, f^r ministers invite you — the Spirit of God strives with you ; you may be saved, for the blood of Christ pleads for you, and the arms of mercy are wide open to receive you ; you may be saved, for unto you the word of salvation is sent — sent, because God waiteth to be g-racious — sent, to assure you that " God hath not appointed you to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." Is, then, your inquiry, "Though many harvests are past, and many summers have ended, can we yet be saved ?" We reply to you, salvation is possible, and near.
Fourthly, Affectionate warning, — It warns you, that your privileges are passing away — your time is consuming — that your careless conduct is inexcusable — and that your eternal destiny will soon be fixed. It warns you, that, as the great work your hand findeth to do is the saving of your souls, you should do that work mightily, and immediately ; making haste and not delaying to enter into a state of salvation. It warns you, that the delay of a week or a day may prove fatal : it warns you, that this sermon may be your last blessing — that this ordinance may be your last favourable season — and that the sun of your last summer may have risen upon you: considerations which should lead you to pray, " Lord, so teach me to number my days, that I may apply my heart unto wisdom."
Fifthly, We inquire, Is the text descrip-
pects 1 Satisfied without an interest in Christ? Satisfied without a title to heaven ? Satisfied under the sentence of eternal death ] Surely not. But should any be so satisfied, we address them in the language of the Holy Spirit, "Awake, thou that sleepest ;" for, if you do not thus awake, in eternity, in the language of fixed and black despair, you will have to exclaim, " The harvest of God's bounty is for ever past, the summer of his mercy has for ever ended, and we must for ever remain unsaved."
REV. JOHN FLETCHER S PREACHING.
On my occasional visits, I was struck with several things. Preaching on Noah as a type of Christ, he was in the midst of a most animated description of the terrible day of the Lord, when he sud36
denly paused. Every feature of his expressive countenance was marked with painful feeling ; and, striking his forehead with the palm of his hand, he exclaimed, " Wretched man that I am ! Beloved brethren, it often cuts me to the soul, as it does at this moment, to reflect, that while I have been endeavouring by the force of truth, by the beauty of holiness, and even by the terrors of the Lord, to bring you to walk in the peaceable paths of righteousness, I am, with respect to many of you who reject the gospel, only tying millstones round your neck, to sink you deeper in perdition !" The whole church was electrified, and it
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was some time before he could resume the subject.
On another occasion, after the morning service, he asked if any of the congregation could give him the address of a sick man whom he was desired to visit. He was answered, " He is dead, sir." " Dead ! dead !" he exclaimed ; " Another soul launched into eternity ! What can I do for him nov/ ! Why, my friends, will you so frequently serve me in this manner 1 I am not informed you are ill, till I find you dying, or hear that you are dead !" Then sitting down, he covered his head with his gown; and when the congregation had retired, he walked home buried in sorrow, as though he had lost a friend or a brother.
All of Mr. Fletcher's opponents were
able, and most of them humorous writers. This circumstance frequently obliged him, contrary to the habitual gravity of his character, to encounter them with their own weapons; and tiiis perhaps made him pass for a bllter writer with those who could not bear to see their own sentiments treated with the same freedom with which they treat those of a contrary description. They who wish to judge according to truth would do well to read Mr. Fletcher's works before they censure him ; and to bear in mind that the respect due to truth will justify a degree or freedom with doctrine, which esteem and love will not allow towards the persons of its advocates. I will not recriminate on his respectable opponents ; but relate an anecdote which will exhibit his patience and gentleness under severe and rude censures. When apparently in dying circumstances at Bristol, a dissenting minister called upon him. Though he had been forbidden to converse, and the
gentleman was a stranger, Mr. Fletcher admitted and received him with his usual courtesy. But the visiter, instead of conversing on such subjects as were suitable to Mr. Fletcher's Christian character and afflicted circumstances, entered warmly on controversy ; and told him, " He had better have been confined to his bed with a dead palsy, than have written so many bitter things against the dear children of God." » My brother," said
-Mr. Fletcher, " I hope I have not been bitter. Certainly I did not mean to be so: but I wanted more love then, and 1 feel I want more now." This mild answer silenced him; and sent him away, I trust, better acquainted with Mr. Fletcher's spirit, and his own. They are not generally of the best spirits themselves, who are first to complain of the spirits of their opponents.
On his way to Ireland Mr. Fletcher preached in a large town ; and towards the conclusion of his sermon stated his sentiments respecting the eminent degree of holiness to which a Christian might attain in this life. All the ministers of the place attended to hear him ; and all but one stayed to shake him by the hand after the service. That one was the principal clergyman, a polished gentleman and an old acquaintance. In the morning Mr. Fletcher, who suspected no offence, said to Mr. Gilbert, " I had not the pleasure last night of shaking hands
with my friend Mr. , I cannot think
of quitting the town without seeing him. As you are acquainted with him, perhaps you will walk with me." They accordingly called, and were introduced : but when he presented his hand with his usual respectful cordiality, it was rudely
declined. " I never preach any thing," said his friend, " but what I experience. Do you, Mr. Fletcher, experience that eminent degree of holiness, that Christian perfection, which you spoke of last night ?" Unprepared for discussion, especially with an angry disputant, he answered mildly, " My dear brother, we serve the same blessed Lord ; why then should we disagree because our liveries are not turned up exactly alike 1" Finding his friend still rude and repulsive, he suddenly caught his hand, kissed it, and bowing low, said, " God bless you, my brother," and retired. It is creditable to the religious principles of this gentleman, that Mr. Fletcher's patient kindness was not without effect. On his return from Ireland his friend called upon him, asked his pardon in the handsomest terms, and treated him with the most respectful distinction. — Communicated by the Rev. Melville Home.
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