Page images
PDF
EPUB

Is it possible to believe it until it be known?
When it is known, is it possible to disbelieve it?
Does the belief of the gospel necessarily include obedience ?
Does it as necessarily preclude disobedience ?

If so, why do the epistles abound with so many reproofs and exhortations ?

Is God the author of every good gift?
Are faith and works both good gifts ?
Can one or the other come from any but the Father of light?

Does not God know this, and can he expect these qualities where he has not given them ? or if he did, would he not be disappointed ? and if disappointed, would not this prove imperfection ?

Can he avoid finding faith and works where he has given them?

Is the punishment attendant upon disobedience, of the nature of Christ's sufferings?

Does the declaration respecting the rewarding every man according to his works, apply to believers as well as to unbelievers ?

Can our everlasting Father have any purpose in the sufferings of the children of men, except their reformation ?

If reformation be his purpose, will it not be answered ?
Does election necessarily imply reprobation?

If any be reprobated, consigned over to everlasting death by divine appointment, could they have any interest in Christ or his atoning blood ?

If they leave not, ought they to believe they have ?

If they should believe they had an interest in the Redeemer, would they not believe a lie ?

Could believing a lie save them ?

Are not those who are elected to everlasting life interested in the atonement ?

Can they lose their interest by unbelief?

Yet, was there not a time they did not believe? and were they 20t then damned ? Can

any who are elected die in unbelief? and if they do, do they not die in their sins? and does not their Saviour then say to them, as he said to the Jews, Where I am ye cannot come ?

But are not some infants elected, and do not all infants who die in the cradle, leave the world in unbelief?

Is not unbelief and damnation, strictly speaking, to be considered as cause and effect?

Is not belief and salvation also a cause and effect?

Can we, by belief, pass from a state of damnation to a state of salvation ?

And can we not by unbelief pass from a state of salvation to a state of damnation ?

But can unbelief continue longer than until the day of the Lord ?

I will proceed no further in the language of interrogation ; I well know that it is much easier to ask than to answer questions. May the spirit of God lead us into all truth.-- Farewell.

LETTER XXXIV.

To the same.

I WILL not attempt to give you any idea of, my feelings on the receipt of your letter; I conclude, however, that your own heart will describe to you what must have been my sensations. I bless God for this mode of holding converse with you ; since I can have no other, this is a blessed substitute, and I am truly grateful. I am glad my letters have reached you; they have told you

the truth, when they told you that I was-thankful to my Father, and to those of his children whom he was pleased to make use of, to slope for me the downhill path of life. You still remain to contribute to my happiness, and I indulge a hope, you will continue in this distempered state as long as I shall abide on this globe. This, how.ever, is no evidence of my affection for you, but it is an evidence of my affection for myself, and for your dear connexions.

Yet, I cannot forbear rejoicing, when I reflect that yet a very little season, and we shall be placed together in our Father's house. Eternal praises be to him who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we may live together with him.

We shall live because he died; we shall live together, not separate from each other; we shall live together with him who loved us, and gave himself for us. Transporting thought! how delight

1

[ocr errors]

ful the sensations attendant thereon! I do assure you, my friend, that frequently when reflecting upon a future state, and the society I am to meet in that state, I am impatient to be gone; I frequently loathe the present life. I would not live always. But it is good that we both hope, and quietly wait for the salvation of God.

It is true, and I should be most ungrateful if I denied it, that no individual of Adam's race can be more indebted to the Creator of men, than I myself am. His goodness to me hath indeed been incalculable ; but I am tormented with the plague of my own heart; and I long to put off this house of my earthly tabernacle, not that I wish to be unclothed, but clothed upon

with
my

house which is from heaven. It is now an old house, a tenement battered and decayed. But it lets in new light through chinks which time has made."

I have a letter from our mutual friend H. this afflicted man is another witness to prove that opulence and felicity do not always grow. upon the same stem. I am happy in the assurance that he is still your friend, and that he retains his attachment to me. I still see my Cornwall friends as I saw them when in England, and they exhibit a pleasing view. I shall retain this view of them, until I meet them on the farther shore, when they will appear still more pleasing. But is it not strange that among my numerous Cornwall friends, you and Mr. H. are my only correspondents ? Well, if so the Saviour wills, it is so best.

I feel sensibly for you, upon the loss of your lovely daughter. But how irrational to mourn when a daughter is rescued from peril; when she is snatched from the snares too often laid for innocence; when she is snatched from earth to heaven. I am astonished at myself when my little girl is sick, to find that I am absolutely afraid she is going to heaven; thus doth self predominate even in the bosom of a father! I yesterday witnessed a scene of heart-rending sorrow—the only daughter of a widowed lady ; I never saw a greater treasure; the young lady had nearly completed her twenty-first year; a lingering decay was her passport to blessedness; she suffered much, but her faith and patience surpassed her sufferings ! Her sorrowing mother was most blest, and will be again, for she will meet her child where pain and sep. . aration shall no more afflict; and when she comes to the period of her journey, she will rejoice that a daughter waits to greet her welcome to her native skies. . VOL. II. 30

Yes, friendship is changing, and friends are dying; but there is one friend who will die no more, and whose friendship will never change ; and as man, like the tender vine, supported, lives, when what hath hitherto supported is taken away, we naturally look round for another prop, and if we are taught of God, we then return unto our rest, and resolve to come up the residue of our journey, leaning on the beloved. If we are enabled to execute this resolve, we can then experimentally say, it was good for us that we were afllicted. I do not recollect a single instance in the book of God, of any of God's people crying unto the Lord in prosperity; but in adversity, in affliction, in trouble, how loud, how repeated were their cries! In truth, we never turn to our strong hold, until we are driven out of every other; but even then, our gracious Father receives us without upbraiding, blots out our manifold offences, and remembers our sins no more. Some of the children of God will forgive, but they will not forget. They will not cast offences behind their backs, they will keep them in full view. Blessed, forever blessed, be that God whose ways are not as our ways, who is not only good to the good and the thankful, but to the evil and the unthankful ; who has not only compassion on those who are in, but on those who are out of the way; and who, well knowing that no one can know the things of God, but by his own teaching spirit, hath compassion on the ignorant.

I am, my brother, free to write you all my mind. There are many

of

my brethren, who, I am persuaded, could not bear to be dealt with-thus explicitly, and I would not willingly offend the weakest of my Father's children. Much malice, much hatred has been originated in the bosoms of religious professors, on account of disagreement in opinion, and those who are the most zealous have generally been the most mischievous. This intolerance, however, is coming to a period, and men, varying in sentiment, now value themselves on that liberality which forbids dissension.

Indeed it has for many years been to me matter of wonder, what the contending parties could find to contend about. They all appear to have the same sentiments of Deity, that he is no better than a Publican, and not to be compared to themselves for compassion, benevolence, &c. &c. They all agree, that God loves his friends and hates his enemies; that he is good unto the good, and unyielding to the evil; since, for the offences of one century, he will punish them through millions of millions of centuries; nay, that if we could even stretch our imagination to the close of such a period,

the punishment of offenders will then only be beginning to begin; and this too for offences, which his prescience and his omnipotence might have prevented! The righteous they proclaim the objects of God's affection, and the subjects of his peace; but sinners are the objects of his hate, and the subjects of his wrath.

When I have seen these Christian professors persecuting and striving to devour each other, I have been ready to say to them, as Moses did upon a certain occasion, Sirs, why do ye thus ? Are ye not brethren ? But had I thus questioned, I should have expected no better treatment than the Hebrew questioner received.

One thing is surprising ; these religious professors differ from themselves, nearly as much as they differ from each other! Of this I am confident, that the preaching and the writings of all those to whom I have attended, contain as palpable contradiction, as are to be found in the most dissimilar sects of Christians. The sum and substance of all is, God will, and he will not; man can, and he cannot. “ I shall,” (said a preacher, whom I not long since heard,) “consider my subject in the following order :

“First, We have a great work to do.

“Secondly, We have but little time to accomplish this great work.

" And thirdly, We can do nothing."

But the old doctrine brought into this country by the disciples of John Calvin, seems to be nearly obsolete ; a Mr. B. lately from England, observed to me, that he could scarcely discern a vestige of genuine Calvinism. The prevailing doctrine seems to be, that the death of Jesus Christ hath put mankind upon the same ground, on which they stood previous to Adam's defection : that the wages of sin is death, and the offer of God, (not the gift) everlasting life, through obedience and faith. Some place faith before obedience and think much of this order, although they both agree, that each is essential to the giving the death of Christ any part in the salvation of any sinner; and while there are many shades of difference in this private opinion, not an individual seems to acknowledge the truth proclaimed by God himself, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and which hath been preached by all God's holy proph, ets ever since the world began. Far, very far from it; instead of believing that all the families of thc earth are blessed in the seed of Abraham, which seed is Christ, I do not find a single idea of any family of the earth being blessed in that seed; they seem to have

« PreviousContinue »