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but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord; and hence the Holy Spirit, with strict propriety, declares the Redeemer to be the life of the world. But in this same ever blessed Saviour, God hath given us what our adversary, either by working directly in our hearts, or through the instrumentality of his deceived agents, is continually teaching us to seek for in ourselves, and if we cannot find this good, where God, and the enlightened conscience, knows they never were, we fancy we prove our humility, and our piety, by our unbelief, and ungrateful murmurings.
The name whereby our Saviour shall be called is the Lord our righteousness, in whom, as the Lord our righteousness, we are wise, righteous, and holy. For of him, that is, of our faithful Creator, are ye in Christ Jesus, who is made of God unto us, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Were we to credit this divine report, we should not go mourning all our days.
You say, you fear you have, through life, been deceiving yourself. If you have been fancying yourself righteous, holy, just and good, you have assuredly been deceiving yourself, for there are none righteous, no, not one. No sinner can be holy. A holy sinner! what a solicism! It would not be more contradictory to speak of a dark sun, or a cold fire. Jesus only is holy; thou only art holy, thou only art the Lord. This Jesus is the Holy One of Israel. There is not a just man on earth, that liveth and sinneth not. Thus, if you have been all your lifetime fancying yourself possessed of these qualities, or imagining yourself capable of obtaining undeviating excellence in your individual character, either by your own will and power, or by the will and power of God, so that you may say, with the Pharisee of old, God, I 'thank thee I am not like other men. If such have been your expectations, you have indeed been egregiously deceiving yourself.
You say you often shudder at death; I wonder not at this, I am rather astonished that there are unbelievers, who do not shudder at death. You wish you could view death with as much pleasure as I do, and, upon this occasion, most sincerely do I adopt the language of the Apostle : I beseech you be as I am, for I am as you are, an offender against God, carnal, and sold under sin, so that when I would do good, evil is present with me, and, consequently, the good I would do, I do not, and the evil I would not do, that do I continually. Often am I tempted to exclaim, 0, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of sin and death. Thus far, I am as you are, but I thank God, who hath given me the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ. I beseech you be as
I am! a believer of God. I am persuaded our Saviour hath abolished death; the wages of sin was death, but Jesus having suffered this death, when he died for the sins of the world, when by the grace of God, he tasted death for every man, hath abolished, or entirely destroyed death. It is a firm belief of this glorious, consolatory truth, that enables me to look forward with pleasure, to a period of my present mode of existence. You assure me, if you could view death with calmness, the pains and penalties of your mortal career would set light upon you.
Here, again, you are very much deceived; you would feel pain as sensibly as you now do, and every other trouble would be grievous ; if it were not so, it would not be through much tribulation we should enter into the kingdom of heaven. We could not have much tribulation from what set lightly upon our minds.
You inform me, you read my letters with some satisfaction, as they help to confirm your mind in the belief of the scriptures, which teach us that God is love, and that, therefore, he cannot do other than view all the works of his hands with affection-But this, it seems, is not enough! You want to view the only true God as your Saviour; I wish I could know what were your ideas while penning this sentence. Did you then think that the Saviour was the only God, and did you think that he who declared himself the life of the world, the Saviour of all men, was true? And thus thinking, could you doubt of his love for you? And can you have any other idea of enjoying God as your Saviour, beside living by faith upon the Son of God, and so coming up from this wilderness, leaning upon the Beloved ? But I rather suppose you wish to have your heaven in the present state, to be without sin, and consequently, without sorrow? And I really believe if it had been the design of our heavenly Father, that this world should have been our eternal home, we should even now be delivered from sin and sorrow; but this is not our rest, it is defiled.
You say, it is your firm opinion, that all will finally be saved. This is said, by some, to be going a great wayand so indeed it is, considering the darkness which covers the earth, and the gross darkness which covers the people. But yet he cannot be said to be a believer of divine revelation, who does not believe that Jesus
is the Saviour of all men ; but he cannot be the Saviour of any who never will be saved.
You are at a loss to determine when this universal salvation will take place, so I believe is every created being; for the times and the seasons are not made known unto us. The day nor the hour, knoweth no man; but this we know, that when all rule, all power and authority, are brought into subjection, then shall this Son, this human nature, which hath been so prodigal of the portion of goods committed to his care, this Son himself shall be brought into subjection unto him that did put all things under him, that God may be all in all. It is written, they shall be all taught of God, when the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, when the face of the covering shall be taken from all people, and the veil from all nations, then the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of God. The Apostle Peter hath told us, that the heavens must contain the glorified body of our risen Saviour, until the times of the restitution of all things. But this second coming shall be without observation, like a thief in the night.
Some affirm, that the sinners among mankind must suffer after the second coming of the Son of God; but such are not acquainted with the apostolic mystery. Behold, saith the Apostle, I show unto you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incor. ruptible, and we shall be changed; then shall be brought to pass the saying, which is written, Death is swallowed up of victory.
The passages you have selected, are, by many, supposed to point to this last great day of the Lord. But a very slender acquaintance with the divine word of our God, will fully evince the improbability of this idea. Parables, in which language our Saviour spake, were not intelligible to the people. To them, however, who are taught of God, it is given to know what they contain, If my memory does not deceive me, the printed letter which I forwarded to you, contains some ideas upon these subjects. But as you wish me to attend to these passages, I will just observe, that in my humble opinion, they point out the state of Jew and Gentile, immediately after the resurrection of our Lord from the dead; and that, at the first coming of our Saviour, the midnight cry was made by him, who was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord. The wise and foolish virgins were those who believed, and those who did not ; and the only thing in which they differed, was the one having oil in their lamps, and the others being destitute. Now, we know, oil in a lamp is as a candle to a candlestick; it is light. The Jews were virgins belonging to the same Father; the foolish virgins made a part of the kingdom of heaven, and these foolish virgins once had oil in their lamps, but their lamps were gone out, they were shut up in darkness, while, by the word of salvation sent to them, the Gentiles were enlightened, and they entered into rest by believing
Again, The Jews sought after righteousness, but they obtained it not; because they sought it, as it were, by the works of the law. They sought admission by personal obedience. We ate and drank in thy presence, (alluding to their temple worship,) and in thy name did
wonderful works. Mind, they spake of themselves as doing these wonderful works. But our Saviour, having before testified of them that their works were evil, could not now acknowledge them in the characters of well doing, deserving claimants; as such meritorious characters, he knew them not ; and, therefore, he says, Depart from me, I know ye not, ye are workers of iniquity. In this state of darkness, and consequent fear and torment, these Jews are doomed to remain until the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob, and so all Israel shall be saved. All then that these passages contain respect time. In eternity there can be no darkness, for the tabernacle of God shall be with men; and every eye shall
and the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
But after all, secret things belong to God; and things revealed, to us and to our children. It is revealed to us, thạt we have sinned, that the wages of sin is death, that Jesus suffered this death once for all, and that by his submitting to this death, we are, every one of us, redeemed therefrom; that the gift of God is everlasting life;
, that in this world we shall have tribulation, but that in him we shall have peace; that Jesus was manifested to take away our sin, and that he shall thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into his garner, burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire; that is, in other words, he is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, beside which, nothing more is necessary to render every creature completely happy.
These are the true sayings of God. Let us then look unto the Lord, and learn of Abraham, not to stagger at the promises through unbelief; but judging him faithful who hath promised, let the
; strength of our faith render glory unto him who is worthy; and, permit me to observe, this is the most effectual method of serving God; for this is the work of God, that you believe in him, whom he hath sent. They cannot be said to serve God, who are by unbelief continually making him a liar. Mankind are very much deceived respecting the service of God; they often conceit they are serving God, when they are merely promoting themselves; indeed, some are so much deceived as to believe they are serving God, when they are, and in the most essential manner, serving the adversary. Our Saviour informed his disciples, that some should imagine they did God service by committing murder! They shall think they do God service in killing you. The service of God is perfect freedom; his ways are ways of pleasantness, and all his paths are peace. Take, said the blessed Redeemer, my yoke upon you, for it is easy, and my burden, for it is light.
I am now, I bless God, as well as I have any reason to think I ever shall be. I suffer some pain, and some pain I shall, no doubt, continue to suffer, until I am admitted an inhabitant of that country, where the inhabitants never say, I am sick; and in the streets of which, there is no complaining. There, I am assured, I shall meet my kindred and friends, not from any distinguishing merit in them, but for his sake in whom I am, with sincere affection,
Am now on my passage to N. P. I could wish I had commenced my journey earlier in the season; you see I have not yet done wishing. Yet I believe the way of man is not in himself, and that God's works of providence are his most holy, wise, and pow
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