« PreviousContinue »
also maketh alive, and thus shall all tears be ultimately wiped from every eye. 's From all, and every consideration, Christians mutually agree in acknowledging the necessity of believing, and if all agree in this necessity, how explicit and unequivocal should be the testimony of the preacher, respecting the truth to be believed. For how can they believe what they do not hear. If there te no one to give them a testimony immutable, altogether independent of their belief, no one to sound the gospel trumpet with a certain sound, how can they believe? How can they believe what they do not hear; and how can they hear, if there be no preacher? I know that faith is the gift of God, yet this gift cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
For myself, I will give you my character at once. As a preacher, I would know: nothing but Christ, and him crucified : I would call upon every sinner, of every description, descended from the first dwellers in paradise, to believe on the Lord Jesus: I would not tell them that Christ was their Saviour if they believed, for consider, my dear Sir, how absurd is the idea. Before the foundation of the world, a great, a sublime plan is laid-And, thus laid, after the revolution of centuries, it is executed. It was laid and it is executed by an omnipotent Being; and yet, after all, its veracity or effect rests wholly upon the reception given it by the creature of a day, which creature has neither the will nor the power to do any thing for himself; and did he possess worlds, with those worlds he could not purchase a single good thought. In this representation, the unhappy man will not, cannot believe. It either is, or it is not, and as I believe it is ; I will therefore tell the world, that Christ died for them, that he hath ransomed them from the power of the devil, that he is their Saviour, that he died to save them from their sins, and that, having died for them, and for this purpose, they are bound to live, not unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again.
As a private Christian, I would come up from the wilderness, leaning upon the beloved, casting all my care on that God who careth for me, both for life and for godliness, for time and for eternity.
As a member of the Christian church, I would adorn the doctrine, the testimony, of God my Saviour, in all things; not seeking my own, but becoming all things to all men, that can have a tendency to win them to Christ.
Recurring once more to your truly friendly, and invaluable letter, I am reminded of your question relative to devils or fallen angels, to which I answer; our Saviour took not on him the nature of angels : all I know of them is, that they kept not their first estate, that they fell from their habitation in the highest heavens, that from the beginning they have sought the destruction of mankind, that they are reserved. under chains of darkness, to the judgment of the great day, when they will be separated from our nature, in which they now have, in a great measure, their residence, and be sent into that fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels.
I am not sent to preach the gospel to devils, I know of no gos.. pel for devils, the real Universalists say they do. But with those devils, I have nothing to do. They have however a great deal to do with me; they work in the hearts of the children of disobedience, to lay many things to my charge, of which I am entirely ignorant.
However, while I am enabled to abide by the divine testimony, faithfully declaring the whole counsel of God, I shall not be afraid what men or devils can do unto me, for my confidence, my unwavering confidence, is in him who hath said, Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.
I am, dear and reverend Sir, with love and true affection,
Your friend, and brother, &c. &c. &c.
To the same.
Let me, my valued, my greatly valued friend, converse * with you, as one friend converseth with another. Let me find in you, what I find in my own soul for you, love without dissimulation. Do not I entreat you, give ear to the whisperer that separateth between choice friends.. I do not mean to draw you contentious disputation. I hate disputes, they generally gender strife, especially among religious professors. If then you should consider me weak in the faith, I beseech you receive me, but not to doubtful disputation; remember who hath compassion upon the ignorant, and upon such who are out of the way. If God so loved us, ought we not also to love one another? Christ hath left us an example, that we should follow his steps. Learn of me, saith Jesus, for I am meek, and lowly of heart.
I think I have not found, in the circle of my clerical acquaintance, an individual who possesses more of the temper proper to designate the disciples of our great Master, than the much loved friend to whom I am writing. Very true, I may be mistaken Something just then whispered me, Trust ye not in man, put no confidence in a guide. Again, you may for a time, be all, I think ; but man is mutable, no matter; I will enjoy the pleasures of Christian friendship while I may, I will hope while I am able, I will not, how often soever I may have been deceived; let dark suspicion cloud the sunshine of promised friendship. I will indulge the pleasing expectation, that I have commenced a kind of sentimental commerce, that will not only be lucrative, but durable ; that will only end with our present mode of existence. End with our present mode of existence did I say? : Should it accompany us to the end of our journey, it will be so far from ending then, that it will only be beginning to begin. This statė, as Doctor Young very justly observes, is but the dim dawn of our being. But if only the dim dawn of our being, with respect to our mere existence, it is abundantly more so with respect to our well being as Christians, and as friends. In the present world, friendship is an exotic, and it is often nipt by chilling blasts ; it is in our native soil, in the garden of our God, that this celestial plant will obtain its pristine vigor, and flourish with unfading verdure. Yet exotics may be kept alive, even here; O, may no killing blasts from the northern regions, where the arch adversary in figure fixes his throne. Isaiah xiy. 13. « For thou hast said in thy heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will set also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.” May no killing blast, I say, from this northern region,* ever be suffered to blow upon our tender plants, and make their verdure languish.
Thinking this morning of you, and of your friendship, of the letter received from you, and of the reply I ventured to make,
originated in my mind the foregoing reflections. What may be the effect of my letter, I cannot say; one thing I know, we are brethren; we have one hope for ourselves; we have but one foundation; we are both builders, I trust, with the same materials ; we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus; we preach the gospel.
But are our views of this gospel the same ? Do we preach it to the same characters? Do we preach it at the same time? So short was my stay with you, while your visiting friend, that I had no opportunity of hearing you; I regret this circumstance. You heard me repeatedly, and in hearing me, you saw my heart; but you have since heard of me, and you compare the accounts you have heard of me, with what you have heard from me, and they do not correspond ; neither did the accounts propagated of our fellow
l; labourer, (whose example I greatly admire, and from whose doctrines I think I have never deviated) correspond with his preaching or his writings. I am charged with heresy, so was he; and by the same characters, and for the same reasons. It was said that he taught men to do evil ; even a fellow-labourer treated' him unkindly, and in the presence of the Jews. Numbers who once believed the gospel he preached, turned away from him. He was abused by Jews, by Greeks, and by Christians, yet none of these things moved him ; his soul was firm, for he was kept by the power of God. No man, of whom I have ever heard, since the days of this great Apostle, was ever more calumniated than myself; yet with him I am ready to own, that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing; that whatsoever I have received, I have received not by the will of the flesh, nor by the will of man, but by the will of God: I can also say with Paul, I have laboured more abundantly than they all : yet not I, but Christ Jesus who hath strengthened me.
I compare this greatly distinguished servant of our divine Master, who, I am free to own, hath left me a great way behind him, to such who ar3 called preachers of the gospel in our day; they are as little like the man of Tarsus, as Calvin, Arminious, Doctor Gill, or Mr. Westley, from whom they generally take their principles, are like the teacher, who taught the Apostle to the Gentiles. Yet Paul was willing to become all things to all men, that he may win them to Christ; but nothing; I presume, to any man, that he did not think would have a tendency to win them to the Redeemer. Sometimes, once at least, he went too far, when he purified himself and went into the temple.
There were, you know, many of the Jews who believed, and yet were advocates for the law; and the Apostle James observed to his brother Paul, that it was every where said of him, that he taught men to forsake the law of Moses, and the traditions of the Fathers. Such were the reports propagated of the Apostle Paul, and his reasons for preaching the gospel; and I am persuaded, in every age and in every place, every one found preaching the gos. pel, the same gospel, will fall under the same odium.
A doctrine may be preached under the name of the gospel, that will not subject the preachers thereof to reproach.
The Apostle himself speaks of another gospel, of which we have an account in the Acts, and there is in this our day another gospel. The first and genuine gospel was given by our divine Master to his apostles, and was fully expressed in the ministry of reconciliation. This gospel was not confounded with the law. Moses and Christ were not united in this gospel. The second gospel is a compound of law and gospel, where believe and be saved is tantamount to do this and live; here is only the Jews and Christians, or Moses and Christ. But there is yet another gospel, which may
be called a third gospel, and this third gospel is generally adopted by the christian world. It is a compound of the Mosaic, Christian, and Heathen doctrines. It is a compound of law, philosophy, and christianity; but the last is the smallest ingredient in the compo
may be considered nothing more than a garnish. In the midst of such a falling off, what are we to do? The sacred oracles of God still remain with us, to them' we should do well at all times to apply; they are a light to our feet, and a lantern to our paths. But if the God of this world hath blinded our minds, of what use will be the light ? Blessed, therefore, are the people who are enabled to see the salvation of God.
I have some time since written to you upon these important subjects, and ere this my letter may be before you-and in addition to that letter I will hazard the following queries :
What are we to understand by the law ?
Is it the duty of ministers of the gospel to preach the law? And to whom, and when?
Can it be a duty to believe the gospel ?