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is this world ? It is not worth a thought! gold and silver--nothing more than white and yellow dirt ! A candidate for a blessed eternity elated or depressed on account of the gathering or scattering of such paltry stuff! Thus we talk, while the despoiler is at a distance, and thus we may talk, when calamity, pecuniary calamity, comes home to us; but who does not know how possible it is for the fine feelings, and the fine speeches made upon these occasions, to be diametrically opposite to each other. In short, pride makes us wish to possess much of this world. « What shall we have,” said the poor fellows who left their little all; and pride makes us wish to appear, as if we were above being affected by such trifles! and pride frequently obliges us to torture invention for arguments to keep us in countenance, even with ourselves—In short, we are poor imbecile creatures.
Yes, indeed, your observation is just; it is truly pleasing to see individuals making a cheerful exit, in the assured hope of a better state of existence.
Did I tell you the Philadelphians are about erecting, by subscription, a house for public worship; the introduction to which subscription paper hath a paragraph which is thus worded ? " Which house shall be cheerfully opened, upon application to a committee to be chosen out of the congregation and church, to all denominations, and especially to those who teach the universal love of God, and the final restitution of all things!” Is it not delightful to observe the declination of prejudice?
I am, as usual, yours most sincerely.
To the Same,
September 26, 1785.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I HAVE been to Oxford, where we have held an assembly truly primitive. We deliberated upon, first, a name ; secondly, the propriety of being united for our common defence; thirdly, on the advantages of an annual meeting of representatives from the different societies; fourthly, on keeping up a constant correspondence by letter. Each of these particulars are to be laid before the societies represented by their delegates, and if approved, such approbation to be announced by circular letters, addressed to leading members of the several associations. Thus at present stands the business. · I am grateful for your last very kind favour. I am exceedingly pleased with the matter it contains, and the manner in which that matter is expressed; for each of which sources of pleasure, I do most sincerely thank you. I wish you were at leisure to pen your thoughts freely as they rise, either for me, or some other friend, who would preserve them; then, perhaps, the views with which you are favoured, would neither die in thinking nor in writing ; and you might be enabled to do, what I have often wished I could do, leave behind you what would oblige your friends in particular and the public in general, to say, “ He being dead, yet speaketh.”
would continue to instruct" mankind after you had taken your departure from this present world. How many now in the kingdom of our Father, still continue with us in their writings, and are by this means distinguished by a being in both worlds ; a consciousness of this must augment their felicity. Do they not, as often as they reflect, that while they in heaven are tasting sublime enjoyments, they are contributing to the pleasure and profit of the world they have quitted ; do they not, from this consideration, derive superior satisfaction ? and are they not thus imitators of their divine Master, who, although not visible to our sight, never leaves
us nor forsakes us? I should be exceeding glad to know, that I should leave behind me writings, that would be read with pleasure and profit, by multitudes yet unborn. But, what would the greater part of readers, even of the present age, know of the writer more than the name ? and whence is it, that the noblest minds have toiled merely for a name through a long succession of years?
But pride would assign a more laudable motive, and piety, in the religious walk, furnishes an honourable stimulus. Yet, still, are we really actuated by any thing more than a love of fame? How very remote are causes ! how very rarely do we find out the causes of our own conduct in life ; how very little do we know of others or of ourselves; yet vain man would be wise.
However, let the causes that prompt men to write be what they may, the effects are very good, and I do not know that we are called to investigate motives. For my own part, were I qualified for a writer, I should assuredly, without stopping to hunt after my motives, write on; and although my writings might not survive the writer, hope would still soothe my wishes, and I should write on; and whatever the world may think fit to say of, or do with my performances, I should be circumstanced pretty much like some of our muck-worms, who spend their whole life in gathering up riches. “ If,” say they, “ the heirs of my wealth receive half the pleasure in wasting, that I have derived from accumulating, they will have no cause of complaint:” thus, were I able to write a book, should that posterity to whom I should bequeath the volume, obtain but'a moiety of the pleasure in the use, or even in the abuse thereof, that I should as I beheld it daily encrease under my eye, their time might be abundantly more heavily passed. But, alas, the pages I shall leave will be but few! Perhaps yourself or some other kind friend, sufficiently acquainted with my sentiments, to form a judgment of what I would have said, may, when I am gone, collect some of my letters on a variety of subjects, and if I, or my sentiments, should be deemed of sufficient consequence to excite, immediately after my departure, the indignation of some eminent writer in sạch measure, as to engage him to draw his pen against me, who knows but encouragement may be given for printing Memoirs and Letters of the late Mr. John Murray, &c. &c.
I have been thrown into this train of reflection by a manuscript intended for the press, submitted by, the author to 'my revision and correction. But the office of correction is a hazardous office,
and the critical remarker is generally considered invidious. Gil Blas and his dignified clergyman, exhibit an excellent lesson, and a recollection of the fate of the degraded favourite, shall upon this occasion, be properly influential. On mature deliberation, I shall return the manuscript precisely as I received it. I wish the subjects of my author had not been previously exhaut ed. I wish; but no matter. If I were at liberty I would send you this manuscript. You would observe many remarks worthy notice, though to you nothing is new. But why regard any thing of this nature the less, in consequence of its wanting the charm of novelty-? The sun is not the less pleasing because it received its birth on the fourth day of time, and has continued its irradiating influence through revolving centuries; what though it recedes and returns in the same order with each returning day, still we admire and rejoice in its genial power; but, perhaps, one reason why the sun itself continues to charm, is the variety of its appearance ; did it always rise, shine, and set clear, should we not be very apt to forget there was a sun? I fancy we should not in such circumstances be so accustomed to give our friends, upon every occasion the same information which they are equally ready to give us—The delightful appearance of the weather.
Yes, we love something new. God himself has planted this love of novelty in our nature, at least I believe he has ; for it is extremely natural: And is it not somewhere said, the voice of nature is the voice of God? It does not appear to me that this fondness for something new is a weed growing in this degenerated, uncultivated soil. The blessed inhabitants of heaven are happy in singing the new song of Moses and the Lamb. Can it then be matter of wonder that we should seek after something new, either in matter or manner? Mr. W. the elder declares he has no curiosity; that he has no desire to make any new discovery; but in this the poor gentleman deceives himself, or perhaps more properly is himself deceived. I should have observed to you, but
you are not now to be told, that I'am regularly irregular; yet I ought to have informed you in its place, that Mr. W. preached a most excellent sermon to the Oxford Convention. His text was selected from Galatians, i. 8. “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other, gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” By the desire of Mr. W. I finished the subject he had commenced ; and I proceeded in the following manner:
in the eye
Our beloved friend, and very dear brother, having given you a clear view of the gospel, has referred to me the consideration of the apostolic affirmation—“But though we, or an angel from heaven preach unto you any other gospel, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Suppose, for example, we, who have now preached that you are redeemed from the curse of the law, in consequence of Jesus being made a curse for you ; that you who being unrighteous, could in such a character, have no inheritance in that kingdom, which the unrighteous cannot inherit, are now heirs, joint heirs with Christ, according to promise, in the fulfilment of that prophecy," The name whereby he shall be called is the Lord our righteousnes8;" that we who have sinned, and on whom, as sinners, the sentence had passed" The soul that sinneth shall die;" shall live, and not die, not in consequence of making void the law, but in consequence of Jesus dying for us, and that in such a way, that his death was, of infinite truth and justice, considered our death; so that constrained by the love of God, we judge that if one died for all, then are all dead; and that the just, thus dying for the unjust, was to bring them to God, and that being thus brought to God, he hath accepted us in the beloved; and that we are complete in him ; and that the just God who hath accepted us in our head, will in no wise cast us out; and that he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, not by themselves; the apostle would not dare to judge himself by himself, but by that man whom he hath ordained, not only to be the judge of quick and dead, but also to be a Prince and a Saviour; to give repentance to the impenitent, and remission of sins to the offender. That your transgressions are blotted out, and your iniquities pardoned. That when all we like sheep had gone astray, every one to his own way, the Lord laid upon the Redeemer the iniquities of us all, and that having suffered for our sins, and put them away by the sacrifice of himself, God is now a reconciled God, not imputing unto the world their trespasses; having made the humanity of Christ sin for us, that we may be made the righteousness of God in him.
Suppose, I say, that we who have thus, by the grace of God, authorized by divine authority, preached this true, this everlasting gospel, should, through the mutability of our nature, and that dreadsul propensity in our evil hearts to turn aside as a broken bow, from the mark of the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus