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The people in this city, N-are as usual, anxious to hear and thirsting for a preached gospel." I never had better health, nor was my way ever more prosperous.
I am with great affection, your friend and brother.
To the same.
AM sorry, my dear Sir, you are so much alone ; I hope the Lord of the harvest will send forth faithful labourers into his vineyard. The increase of your hearers must give you pleasure ; may your felicities of every description continually augment. Poor heart; there is need sufficient for this petition. My heart sinks as I look over the next paragraph in your letter. It may, and no doubt it is, good for us to be afflicted; but yet it is very grievous: howa ever, I bless God you have not yet lost your anchor; you still hope, and in this particular you are as rich as your brethren, for what would individuals in the most eligible circumstances be, if they had nothing in reversion?
When I have the pleasure of seeing you, I shall accompany you on a visit to friend P. who will communicate to you, what our God has discovered to his soul; I do assure you, I have been very much entertained, nay more, I have been very much edified by the conversation of this gentleman; pity he hath not greater freedom of speech, but we know that from the same Spirit are derived diversity of gifts. I think friend P. has the gift of discerning spirits; I once thought every Christian had this gift, but I now believe a man may be a Christisn, without being so blessed. Indeed, the Apostle-indicates as much when he says, “ Beloved, believe not every spirit but try the spirits whether they be of God.” I think a man, indulged with this gift, is no longer under the power of the deceiver ; the man of sin can no more impose upon him, by showing himself that he is God, and as he himself cannot do this, it is impossible that any of his instruments can be more successful. Such a man need not,
that any should teach him; he having the unction from the HolyOne, can judge spiritually. How quietly such a man can stand, and how patiently hope for the salvation of God!
And yet, while sojourning in this vale of tears, we are not, we cannot be invulnerable to the shafts of affiction ; for myself I suffer much from different descriptions of Universalists. I have heretofore mentioned to you this source of inquietude, but the evil, as I fear, is a growing evil, and it is mine to lament its progress.
One class of Universalists come forward, blasphemously affirming, that all those types and figures, which are intended to exhibit the grand adversary of souls, were designed to designate the Redeemer of the world! Hence they insist he is the scape goat, Pharaoh, Lucifer, Achan, the man without the wedding garment, the tares of the field, &c. &c. &c.! ! !
This same class, uniting with the Saducees of old, declare there is neither angel nor devil, atonement nor future judgment. These ideas are to be traced to the works, or rather the ravings of Richard Coppin, where their system is regularly delineated, and which receives among them honours little short of divine.
Thus the grand adversary finding it impossible to prevent the progress of divine light and truth, will endeavour, under the name of gospel or universal redemption, to propagate more than the truth, uniformly continuing to sow his tares among the wheat, to the destruction, as far as may be in his power, of rectitude and peace.
A second class of Universalists insist on purgatorial satisfaction, according to which, every man must finally become his own Saviour ; For, if I must suffer as much in my own person, as will satisfy divine justice, how is, or how can Jesus Christ be my Saviour ?
If this purgatorial doctrine be true, the ministry of reconciliation, committed to the apostles, must be false-To wit, God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses. In fact, I know no description of people farther from christianity, true christianity, than such Universalians. 0, my friend, how exceeding difficult it is to keep in the narrow way ! How much like a broken bow, is the human heart! How very ready to start aside! As I descend into the vale of life, these discoveries give me a taste of sorrow, and I anticipate a harvest of evil. But I know what you, and every wise man will say upon this occasion ; you will dwell upon the folly of anticipating future misery; nay, the wisest teacher who ever taught, informs me that
Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof: but while my judgment keeps pace with reason, nature appalled by fear, shrinks far behind. Well, I will endeavour to console myself by the consideration, that whatever unhappiness I may experience will finally redound to my advantage; that if the love of many wax cold, a season of amity will follow; that if infidelity should prevail immediately on the dawn of the gospel day, all things change, light will prevail in its turn ; and that, in the darkest times, the election will obtain the knowledge of truth, and the rest will be blinded. But blessed be God, the Redeemer of the whole human family, will finally lead the blind in a way which they have not known. A person writing to me from B.
is terrified at the rapid growth of Arianism or Socinianism, and wonders that so many clerical gentlemen should seem so very forward in promoting the prevalence of tenets so erroneous, and he asks if our boasted liberty will not be attended with tremendous consequences ?
For my own part I cannot conceive that the liberty which conduces to a free inquiry, will ever make a single infidel. It may indeed embolden the infidel to throw off the mask of hypocrisy, which, either through fear or shame, he has so long worn.
It is indeed a fact, that no description of men in that part of the world called Christendom, can be more opposed in heart to the worship of the true God and our Saviour, or our Saviour, as the true God, than the Socinian clergymen. Will not all this terminate in the establishment of Deism ?
I always admired Captain M. but much more now, than before. What a feeling heart! we visited Madam E. who is on the threshold of another world, but the dear lady spoke so sensibly of time, of her departure, and of her future prospects—she conversed so much like a christian, like a prisoner of hope, who expected in a short time to be set at liberty, and to be permitted to take up her residence in the house of her royal Father, that the heart of Captain M. was melted, and the tear of melancholy pleasure bedewed his cheek.
To be able thus to meet death with more than composure, to take our leave of this sublunary world, with hardly a regretting sigh, to be in our last moments strong in faith, and to finish our course giving glory to God. O, it is indeed - a consummation devoutly to be wished.” Here we may truly say with the Poet,
“When first an infant draws the vital air,
It is when the imprisoned spirit escapes from its earthy tenement, that it begins to live. This is not the land of the living“all here is shadow, all beyond is substance. The reverse is folly's creed.”
I rejoice that your prospects in the walk into which, by divine favour, you are brought, are thus brightening to your view. Proceed, my friend, and be not forgetful of the word of our Lord. Lo! I am with you always; Yes indeed, I do always remember you in my supplications before the throne of that God, who wills that first of all, prayers, supplications, and intercessions, be made for all men, and my heart has felt spiritual pleasure, in thus conforming to the will of our Saviour. We are under infinite obligations to the Father of our spirits, for thus indulging us with the privilege of pouring out our souls before him ; and prayer, in the present state, is a very delightful part of our worship.
Yes, there are seasons, when this world, stripped of its bewitching charms, appears deformed and disgusting ; at such times we are ready to depart, and sick of life, and of ourselves, we rejoice that those we love are delivered from a state of thraldom-but, generally speaking, although reason may remonstrate, we are in fact lovers of our own selves, and therefore had rather our friends, for whom we profess so much disinterested regard, should suffer every thing to which their residence in this distempered state subjects them, than by the attainment of complete felicity, in their own individual characters, rob us of a momentary gratification. In short, were it in our power, we should, as long as we remain in the present state, detain from the abodes of blessedness, every one who in any sort contributes to our individual enjoyment. Thus on the recovery of a friend from any illness which seemed to promise his emancipation, we rejoice with joy unspeakable, that he has escaped complete blessedness, and an eternity of undisturbed repose-such is the mercenary spirit of mankind !
Your remarks on Mr. Relley's letters are just; no doubt the spirit is at all times and all places the same; and I am persuaded no individual was ever, at any time, able to understand the things of God but by the spirit of God. No wonder then, that beings taught by this
spirit, in various divisions of our globe, have the same ideas, and clothe them in the same language. I lament that you should hinteven at a possibility of your desisting to proclaim the truth, as it is in Jesus. What have you discovered which you ought not to have expected ? you could not but suppose that many would be offended ; when or where was our gospel ever preached, that it did not give offence ? Christ crucified is to the Jews a stumbling block; and to the Greeks foolishness. I know the fear of man bringeth a snare, but I did not believe my friend N. could be caught in such a snare. Yes, I do remember, and it is with inexpressible pleasure, that I have in you a friend, a brother, and a fellow labourer. Poor soul ! “a weight which almost sinks you ;" and had you not divine support, you would indeed sink. But remember who it is that says, Be not afraid. Enemies, warm enemies are preferable to lukewarm friends ; but every trial shall terminate in our best good.
It is my resolution to write in future, and to write often. I am entering into an entire new plan with respect to the disposition of my time. I have not the honour of designing this plan, I wish I may have the happiness to be the executor.
One of the regulations will enable me to dispose of a portion of every day in this mode of conversation. But alas ! I have looked with pleasure on many a beauteous plan-on many an air built castle-the demolition of which I have lived to mourn. The fact is, the imbecility of my nature is at variance with all those good and proper regulations which require firmness in the performance. My heart, I do assure you, is softened by a sense of my own weakness. Pride forbids me to proclaim how very weak I am. I have recently discovered myself to be fond of popularity, and the discovery is truly humiliating. I have been led by this detection to a strict scrutiny into the dark chamber of my heart, and I am shocked and discomforted. ( that I could as easily purify as expose itI have been too vain, too much elated; indeed, indeed I have. Somebody says we have need of very faithful friends, or very bitter enemies, for the purpose of bringing us acquainted with ourselves. From enemies we are rarely disposed to receive remonstrances kindly. Prejudice, we are apt to suspect, will misrepresent; and friends either having that love which thinketh no evil, or being too much attached to themselves to risk our displeasure, rarely deal faithfully by us. But sometimes stimulated by one motive or another, a faithful friend may administer the wholesome discipline of reproof ;