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THE SOUL'S WELFARE.
ON OUR THOUGHTS, AND THEIR GOVERNMENT.
BY REV. W. BARKER, BURSLEM.
Our thoughts are under the cognizance of the Gospel, because they are essentially connectedwith the most secret workings of the mind; because they are the springs of moral and voluntary action; and, because the Gospel is designed to accomplish the complete restoration of man to the divine image, which was lost by the fall. It is the province of christianity to control and guide all the affections and opinions of the human mind. He who is the subject of its influence has the spirit of Christ—has a new heart, and is subdued to the authority of Christ as his King and lawgiver. The Gospel in its practical bearing, is a full and spiritual embodiment of the main principles of the moral law. It gives its sanction to the precepts and prohibitions of the law. It condemns those thoughts which are contrary to the law, as contrary also to its own spirit and aim. But a difficulty is felt by some persons to be connected with the sentiment; that we are accountable for our thoughts. The difficulty may be put in the following form :-Many of my thoughts are introduced into my mind in such a way, that I am not aware of their origin, neither am I able to prevent them: they seem to come from some source beyond my reach; How then can I be accountable for them ? Observe here, that the unfathomable depths of the evil in our own hearts, may in many instances originate wicked thoughts. It may be through the medium of some unsuspected object, and in a way which exceeds our knowledge of the human heart. By thoughts originating in this way the soul may be surprised by evil, and enervated to such a degree that it falls into open transgression ;-or, Satan, who has access to the mind in various ways, and in most subtle forms, may seduce the soul from virtue and truth by his facinations and schemes; and thus disturb our peace of mind, and tarnish the lustre of the divine image, impressed upon our souls by the Holy Spirit. But the supposed difficulty may be removed in a few words. First, where thoughts originate mechanically, by mere circumstantial influences without the consent of the human will; we are not accountable for them, as far as simple existence is concerned. They may come under the notice of the mind and yet, not be properly our thoughts; but, if in passing through it they find a seat in the imagination,--are responded to by the affections,—if they influence the soul in its feelings and actions, even for a moment, they involve us in a measure of guilt proportioned to their evil nature and tendencies. Whether they originate in the temptations of Satan, or spring from man's inward corruptions, the sentiment is equally applicable. When they originate in such a way as not to involve us in actual guilt, they still forcibly remind us of the depravity of the human heart and should lead us to deplore the fact that it is capable of such foul productions and lead us to pray for the influences of the Holy Spirit to assimilate us into the divine likeness.
VOL. II. K
The Gospel contemplates the subjugation of our thoughts to the obedience of Christ. To govern our spirits is one of our highest christian attainments, and is also one of the Spirit's operations upon the human heart. We would offer a few suggestions to our readers on the government of the thoughts. First; Suspend the operations of the mind until the chief tendency of the thoughts is ascertained. We cannot prevent the uprising of thoughts, but we can suspend the action of the judgment and affections, until the character of the thoughts is determined. If the thought be directed towards some dangerous and pernicious object, avoid coming into contact with it. Parley not with evil ; for tampering with it, usually ends in open rebellion. Guard against first impressions. Examine every thought; resist the evil and choose the good. Then, though the evil thought remain, yet being discountenanced by the soul, no guilt is incurred. The more fascinating the thing, the more imperative the necessity for an immediate repulse. The commencement of a train of thought is of the utmost importance, as according to its nature in the germ, will be the influence exerted by it in its more mature exhibitions.
Secondly; Attempt to control the thoughts by introducing a new train, when the former one is pernicious in its character. It is admitted that some persons have greater control over thoughts than others. Some are constitutionally self-determining to a greater extent than others. But a man may strengthen the power of voluntary thought by constant mental discipline. The mind often acts by contrast; some of the most vile thoughts in this way become suggestive of good ones. Take advantage of this fact when the mind is troubled with impure thoughts, and follow the pure teachings of conscience, and the more sober dictates of the judgment. Improve every opportunity of establishing a pure elevating train of thought. Numerous and varied are the beauties of nature which conspire with the wonders and mercies of providence and grace, to furnish to the soul means of elevating and sanctifying thought.
Thirdly; Do not allow the mind to be unoccupied; but discipline it carefully, training it to useful and purifying subjects of contemplation. There is deep philosophy in the old adage—“An idle mind is the Devil's workshop.” The idle mind is frivolous, unstable, and impure,-—is exposed to the pernicious influences of the world of satanic agencies, and of the unfathomable depths of evil in the human heart. Numerous are the topics which should engage the thoughts of the Christian. The wonders of creative skill. The complications of divine providence, and the incomprehensible glories of christianity. The deep secrets, and chequered lines of christian experiences, and the inconceivable glories of a future world.
Fourthly; Cultivate a lively sense of divine omnipresence and omniscience. This consideration out weighs every other one mentioned. God's presence, when felt, will destroy vain and foolish thoughts,-will induce in us such heart searchings, that no fugitive imagination can remain in the mind without detection. It will exert a sanctifying influence upon the most secret springs of action belonging to the soul. “I know the thoughts that come into your minds every one of them, saith the Lord.”
0, may this thought possess my breast,
Fifthly; Seek for a constant supply of wisdom from above, “that wisdom which is first pure, then peaceable,” etc. If this be imparted to man, evil and folly will be abashed before it, and subdued by its masculine strength. It will conquer the frivolous imaginations of the heart. Pure thoughts will secure the obedience of the heart; and the
WOMAN THE REFORMER.
hands to Christ, will secure the mind from those inward pangs which result from sin. “ The pure in heart shall see God." Pure thoughts accelerate the Christian's progress towards heaven. They are the foretastes of heaven. They are types of the communion the soul shall have with God in the heavenly world.
Impure thoughts blight the mental and moral nature of man,-destroy the Christian's confidence and happiness, and fit the soul to be an inhabitant of that world where the unclean dwell, and where cursing, self-upbraiding, and blaspheming thoughts blight the soul forever-leaving it to bewail its loss, and drink the cup of wrath eternally.
WOMAN THE REFORMER.
BY MRS. C. L. BALFOUR.
“The woman's cause is man's: they rise or sink together,
It seems strange that in this age of investigation and social progress, the power of woman to promote or retard improvement should be so seldom adverted to. A multitude of plans are thought of for mitigating evil and diffusing good, but woman is only indirectly named in reference to these plans. If her influence is tacitly admitted, and her aid invoked, it is as an auxiliary, and not a principal. In many benevolent and religious enterprises she assists by her occasional presence on public occasions : by collecting funds for carrying on the operations of many societies : by the ingenuity and industry of her hands, in providing elegant and useful works for sale, in aid of the treasury of benevolence. All this is well. Every woman thus employing her talents and leisure is doing something towards abating the amount of human ignorance and misery. But the mind and principles of women in general are not sufficiently appealed to, as to their duty in actively promoting the public good. They leave to man not only the devising of plans for social advancement, but the comprehending and carrying out of those plans. Women themselves are in error in this matter. They misunderstand their position. They live below their privileges. Something more than a mere tacit assent to different reforms is required of them. A direct personal carrying out of various great principles is their unquestionable duty. And the world will never be regenerated, till woman understands she must be the regenerator.
It is too much the practice for woman to acquiesce with a kind of unenquiring ease to great public questions, or to wrap herself up in the mantle of indifference, saying, “I leave public reforms to man-my sphere is home.” Ah! truly so; but homes are the centres from whence radiate the good and the evil of the world. If woman in that empire of hers-HOME! held and taught right principles, and carried them out in daily practice, all that philanthropists contend and labor for would be affected. The difficulty, unhappily, is to make woman perceive that great public questions belong as much to her as to man, and equally demand her aid. For example, the PEACE QUESTION; what is more just, decorous, fitting, than that woman should give her decided aid to the diffusion of this principle? Is not the religion of peace as dear to her? Is not the native tenderness of her character such as to incline her to peace ? Is not the sweet office of peace-maker, on a large as well as small scale, in harmony with the gentler attributes of woman? When war has devastated the earth, who has suffered more than woman by its terrible recoil of misery? All the pæans of triumph were insufficient to overpower the wail of the widow and the orphan. While even in time of peace the exactions of the State to keep up a vast armament has fallen collaterally as heavily on woman as on
WOMAN THE REFORMER.
man, and demands her intelligent investigation, as a wrong that limits the resources of her dependant family, and subtracts from the just gains of honest industry,
Then, woman on this peace question has some amends to make to society. Her smile and her talents have been enlisted too often on the opposite side. Ladies, who would be the very first to exclaim, in real or affected displeasure, if a woman opened her mouth in public, on any useful or moral question, have stood forward and presented colors to a regiment, not unfrequently accompanying the act with a speech, “ soft enough in the vowels,” but so cruel in the meaning, that it is charity to suppose when they talked of defending the colors till death, they were guiltless of understanding the import of their words. They have sung war songs, played with gentle hands “the groans of the dying,” in that old “Battle of Prague,” which used to be such a capital stock piece of bravery and sentimentality in our boarding-schools. And as to their admiration of a red coat ! it has been said, that they were so dazzled by its brilliancy, that they seldom waited to discover whether its wearer had heart or brains.
Then the abolition of capital punishments is as much a woman's as a man's question. Is it nothing to her that society should be brutalized by frightful exhibitions ? Nothing to her that a punishment continues in force which does not protect the lives of the community;—for murder stalks fiercely through our land! And which cuts off the criminal from any hope of amendment, or opportunity to atone by his labour for the wrong he has done society. While a certain eclat attending his going off this mortal stage, feeds the morbid craving of vicious minds, and incites the depraved to similar odious deeds.
The very fact so revolting to record, that there are women in the community who go to such spectacles as executions, is a solemn call to every right-minded woman to enter her indignant protest against such scenes.
Then education is pre-eminently a woman's question; to her the interests of the rising race are paramount. The ragged-school, the sabbath-school, the day-school; all means of relative and personal education must be matters of absorbing interest. That two such different words as “juvenile depravity" should have come together, and should express a fact, is a frightful anomaly in our enlightened age, a blot on our civilization. “Juvenile !” our heart leaps up at the sweet word; visions of rosy faces, and beaming eyes, and dimpled smiles, and sportive forms, pass before us as we write it.“ Depravity !" a thick gloom covers the brightness, all is shade and sorrow! Oh! let woman remember that the evils of the world are perpetuated as much as by the supineness of the good as the activity of the wicked; and that the dangerous classes are more often the victims, than the aggressors on society. Then the early closing movement in practical carrying out, depends almost entirely on
Who are the frequenters of shops ? At least twenty women for one man are the purchasers at all retail shops. A determination by women not to make a purchase after a given hour would soon decide the questions of early closing. The shopkeeper has no desire to burn his gas and keep open his shop for mere amusement. Let women resolve to decide the matter for him, and shops would soon close early; and the hours of toil in other pursuits than those of retail trade would lessen, from the influence of example, and the alteration of the general custom.
Then the temperance question belongs also to woman. It is the auxiliary to all the others. Make the world sober, and you strike a death-blow at war, which has ever been fostered by intemperance. Sober young men rarely enlist as licensed men-slayersrarely want to quarrel—and are inclined to say
“Let those who make the quarrels be
The only ones to fight."
A FEW NOTICES OF WHITEFIELD..
Sober men are not led into the commission of crimes, and are seldom the subjects or witnesses of sanguinary death-punishments.
Sober men understand the value of education-comprehend the bane of ignorance. The clear brain, the sound heart, the active nerve, are his who slakes his temperate thirst at Nature's stream—who prefers God's merciful thought as expressed in water, rather than man's perverted thought as exhibited in wine.
Then, if domestic comfort is dear to woman, a happy home, and the means to keep it so, temperance ranks second only to religion in promoting family enjoyment. Let women, therefore, as they love themselves, their families, their country, and their God, see to it, that by example and precept they come decidedly forward into the ranks of those who meet the practical evil of intemperance by the only practical remedy-total abstinence.
We have spoken plainly, fair and gentle readers! The time has passed-we hope for ever—when women required to be flattered and coaxed like children to perform their duty to society. The age is exigent, and demands earnestness of thought, words and action. No time for picked phrases and compliments. Real esteem and love is shewn when a writer believes a reader loves truth, and in all faithfulness, however inadequate the expression, utters it.
A FEW NOTICES OF WHITEFIELD.
He was born in Gloucestershire, in December, 1714, and lost his father, who was an inn-keeper, when he was only two years of age.
His mother does not appear to have been under proper religious impressions, and took no care to instil religious principles into his young heart, so that, however early views of serious subjects dawned upon his mind, we fear they are not to be traced to the pious training of his widowed parent. At the same time it is proper to state that she was much attached to him, and paid considerable attention to his education. There have been differences of opinion about the early piety of Whitefield. Mr. Philip, his most recent biographer, seems disposed to question his religion till he became the companion of the Wesleys, at Oxford ; and on what appears to be good evidence. Speaking of his early life, Whitefield says of himself: "I was so bruitish as to hate instruction, and used, purposely, to shun all opportunities of receiving it. Lying, filthy talking, and foolish jesting, I was much addicted to. Sometimes I used to curse, if not swear. Stealing from my mother I thought to be no theft at all, and used to make no scruple of taking money out of her pocket before she was up.". While this might be the ordinary tenor of his life, he even at this period, under some particular and occasional awakenings of conscience, was influenced to read the Bible, to make Thomas à Kempis the companion of his reading hours, to compose sermons, and to attend divine service. Not unfrequently, however, were these better habits entirely abandoned for sinful pleasures, immoral play reading, and other courses not so much as “leaning to virtue's side.'
At the age of eighteen he obtained a servitor's place in Pembroke college, Oxford. Thousands in heaven will have reason to bless God through all eternity, that, in a place where most cared less for "character than for conformity, Whitefield was directed to the society of those students, who, along with the Wesleys, had separated themselves from the ordinary practices of the young men of the university, and were devoted to a religious, though in some respects, a rigid and monastic life. Under their instruction and guidance Whitfield became decidedly serious, though upon his ardent and excitable temper, the mortifications and penances of this original methodism, wrought at first so severely as almost to deprive him of his life. For seven weeks he lay in great mental per