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To the Rev. R. R. of Falmouth, Great Britain, in answer to å letter
received from that gentleman.
MY DEAR, MY VENERABLE FRIEND,
OUR truly friendly favour by captain D. is now before me. I am grateful to our mutual friend, Mr. H. for the hint which gave birth to this epistle : I am happy that you embraced it with pleasure ; and I indulge a hope that you will never fail to embrace every future opportunity of communicating your ideas freely as they present. For me, I am determined in some measure to merit, by the promptitude of my responses, your flattering attention.
It is soothing to my soul, to hear you say, “ My warm attachment to you, when last in England, is not in the least abated.” And were you warmly attached to me? I am happy to learn that you were, that you are. Be assured Sir, the attachment, how warm soever it may be, is mutual. I have long considered my
introduction to you, as one of those happy events, which in my journey through this distempered state of being, divine Providence has been pleased to direct, as evidence of his paternal affection. But alas! this pleasure, like every other sublunary enjoyment, is productive of some. pain., I may see this friend no more, I may lose this friend entirely, and only call to mind, I had a friend, and once was blest. However,
“ There is a land of pure delight,
With fond embrace shall part no more.” I am not surprised to learn, that many things disrespectful of me and my testimony have been said, I am only astonished that more hath not been said; for the Master whom, with
full heart, I serve, hath said, They shall say all manner of evil of you falsely, for my name sake. Ignorance and malice attribute to me many sentiments, which from my soul I detest. How much do I wish, particularly on the present occasion, to converse with you ; but as
I cannot be thus blest, I will in this way unbosom myself to you : I will give you my sentiments, and my reasons for those sentiments.
I am, my greatly valued friend, by faith, a child of Abraham; the gospel was preached unto hin, and he staggered not at the promises through unbelief, but being strong in faith, gave glory to God.
The gospel preached unto Abraham, assured him, that in his seed, all the nations of the earth should be blessed. Abraham believed God, and so do I. To us, said the Apostle, is committed the ministry of reconciliation, to wit ;-God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses; certainly not, far, very far from it ; for when all we like lost sheep. went astray, every one to his own way, the Lord laid on Jesus Christ the iniquities of us all, that he might put them away by the sacrifice of himself.
Messiah, saith the Prophet, shall be cut off, but not for himself ; he shall finish the transgression, he shall make an end of sin, and bring in everlasting righteousness ;-and he cried with a loud voice, it is finished. Hence he hath borne our sins in his own body on the tree ; and having put them away, by the sacrifice of himself, he appeared to his disciples, and to their God, in his resurrection, in the sinless state, and presenting his redeemed, in his own person, they were beheld without spot, and blameless in love.
Behold, then, saith the spirit, the Lamb of God, wlio taketh away the sins of the world. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. That death is every man's due, in consequence of sin, may not be disputed : and is not life in consequence of God's gif, equally the portion of every man ? I think, and have bollly affirmed, authorised, as I conceived, by the word of God, that life is the portion of every man. If the human family did not receive life as the gift of God, they never could in any other way ; for who can demand life as the wages of his own righteousness? Without shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sins ; without remission, there can be no salvation ; without salvation there can be no gospel. But if Jesus died for my sins, his death must be considered, by divine justice, as my death, and thus God is a just God, and a Saviour; and although I am myself a sinner, and of course ungodly, yet God can be just in justifying the ungodly.' The gospel is a divine declaration of this consolatory truth, and is therefore glad tidings. If the Redeemer died only for a few, a few only can be saved : if he died
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for all men, then all men will be saved. If Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death only for some men, only some men can be saved. If he, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man, then he is the Saviour of every man. The gospel preached to every creature, is a message sent by divine command, to every creature, to convey unto them this
gracious assurance. To every.creature, then, this word of salvation is sent. But in no instance does the truth of this message rest upon the reception it meets with, by those to whom it is delivered.
If I am a preacher of the gospel, I ought not only to be acquainted with, but a believer of the testimony I deliver; and this, by the grace of God, I am. In preaching the gospel to every creature, I testify that which I know. I address every lost sinner with a declaration, that God hath sent me to assure him, he has given him redemption in the beloved, even the forgiveness of sins ; that the God of his salvation hath blotted out his sins as a cloud, and his. iniquities as a thick cloud; and that he is, therefore, invited to return unto the Lord, who hath redeemed him. As
many hearers as believe my report, will have power given them to become sons of God; will pass from death unto life; will have peace and joy in believing. Such will never come into condemnation, will never be ashamed, worlds without end ; they will receive that spirit, which will be as refreshing to their souls, as rivers of water to a thirsty land. Yes, truly, as many as believe this everlasting gospel, find it the power of God unto full salvation. He that believeth shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned. He that believeth not shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him; he that believeth not is condemned already; he that believeth not maketh God a liar. But is it possible that God should lie? By no means; although we believe not, he is faithful who hath promised ; although we deny him, he will not deny himself.
“Engraved as in eternal brass,
But all men have not faith. True; but why have they not faith? Is not faith the gift of God? Is it not of the operation of God? Can any man know the things of God, but by the spirit of God?
Assuredly not; we cannot come to the Saviour, except the Father draw us, and no man can come to the Father, but by the Saviour.
The election then obtains this saving faith. The spirit takes of the things of Jesus, and showeth it to the elect. To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom ; but to the multitude spake he in parables. Let there be light, said God the Lord, and there was light. I open, saith the Lord, and no man can shut; I shut, and nó man can open.
The spirit in the word of God, speaks of the salvation of God; which salvation was begun, carried on, and finished by the Redeemer. But again, the same word speaks of our salvation, which is consequent upon our believing what the word and spirit declares, respecting the salvation wrought out by Jesus Christ. The first, 18 the thing believed, and is that peace which is preached to those who are nigh, and to those who are afar off ; the second, is that knowl. edge which fills the heart of the believer with peace and joy in believing. Both, however, is the work of God; the one accomplished in, and by Jesus Christ; the other, begun and carried on in the heart by the spirit of God, and completed when we are admitted into the divine presence, where faith is "lost in sight, and hope in full fruition.
Behold, saith the Lord, all souls are mine. But all which the Father hath, he hath given to the Son; indeed all things were made for him, as well as by him, and he is the heir of all things. The heathen is his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth his possession. Thus, the whole human nature is the property of God. It is true, the individuals of this nature, have sold themselves for nought. But they are redeemed; the price, the ransom price is paid for them. True, they have made a covenant with death, and an agreement with hell; but, the right of disposal not being in themselves, their covenant with death shall be broken, their agreement with hell shall not stand. The Saviour of the world will lead captivity, captive. In the first and most glorious sense,
he hath already accomplished this divine purpose, when he ascended up on high leading captivity, captive, and receiving gifts for men; yea, even for the rebellious, that God might dwell among them.
Yet the greater part of Emmanuel's inheritance, of his purchased possession do not, in this their day, know the things that make for their peace. The things that make for their peace, are hid from
their eyes. God hath blinded them, hath given them up to strong delusions, that they may believe a lie, that they all may be damned who believe not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness. Had they believed the truth, they would have had pleasure in righteousness, even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Christ Jesus unto all; but ignorant of this righteousness, ignorant that it is theirs by the gift of God, who so loved the world as to give them his Son, declaring the name by, which this Son should be called, should be the Lord our righteousness; ignorant of these things, which most indubitably make for their peace, numbers go about to establish a righteousness of their own, while others, des. pairing of ever obtaining righteousness of any description, with hearts filled with enmity against God, as desperate debtors, rún with greediness the career of destruction. Hence it is, saith the Lord, that my people die for lack of knowledge, and that they will not come unto him for life. The ox kinoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib ; but Israel doth not know.; my people doth not consider. God's people then are of two descriptions; believers and unbelievers; wise and foolish; obedient and disobedient; happy and miserable.
.: The kingdom of heaven is likened unto ten virgins ;-five of them were wise, and five of them were foolish. The kingdom of heaven was not likened to five wise virgins only: These virgins were distinguished the one from the other by no one thing, but the oil in their vessels with their lamps, that is, light; à lamp without oil is of little value. They who had oil went in, and had peace and joy; they who had not, sought in vain for the place of entrance, they were compelled to tarry without, in that state and kingdoni into which they were born, and to which they had continued in subjection, in which, of course, is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
Hence the apostles were sent to turn as many as were chosen, to be witnesses for God in this our day, from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. These chosen, live by faith upon the Son of God. They are the first fruits unto God; they follow the Saviour in the resurrection ; they are acquainted with the Father and the Son; they know that God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn thu world, but that the world through him might be saved.