Page images
PDF
EPUB

Should you constantly affirm that our Saviour will act agreeably to the import of his name, that he will save all men from their sins, you must expect the consequences. Those, who believe that the greater part of God's offspring will be eternally lost in their sins, will say all manner of evil of you. I humbly hope and trust, however, that they will say this evil falsely. I trust that the same love of God which constrains you to proclaim these glad tidings to every creature, because you judge that if one died for all, then were all dead, will also constrain you, both by precept and example, to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

I have, my brother, been longer engaged in the ministry of reconciliation than yourself; and have therefore, perhaps, acquired more knowledge of Satan's devices. , One capital device I will beg leave to mention. He will employ some of his emissaries to converse with you, under pretence of seeking after light; but those who are thus employed, by such an eịnployer, are wolves in sheep's clothing ; their purpose is to entangle you in your talk, that they may have whereof to accuse you. It would, upon these occasions, be well if we could attend carefully to the direction of the great Master, who hath said, Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. God's messengers are more generally the latter than the former. Artless themselves, they suspect no art; and are, therefore, frequently perplexed and embarrassed by these self-righteous, insidious characters, who act under the influence of that arch deceiver, who was from the beginning the accuser of the brethren.

Another devise, to which they frequently resort, is attempting to irritate by taunting expressions; and while engaged in disputation, we are too frequently pressed by pride, lest our own reputation should suffer ; and thus, while acting under the influence of the same spirit which operates upon our bigoted opponents, it is not matter of wonder, that we discover the same diabolical temper. Nothing gratifies the grand adversary more than to ensnare a disciple of the meek and lowly Jesus, by drawing him into a passionate contest, I have suffered much in this way myself, and I there, fore beg leave to caution

you.

It is best we obtain a victory over ourselves, before we attempt to gain an advantage over another, But it any honest, inquiring individual wishes you to give a reason for the hope that is within you, give it with meekness and fear.

You have, no doubt, adopted the scriptures of the Old and NewTestament, as your only safe, directing guide ; they are able to

make us wise unto salvation. According to these scriptures, you will preach the gospel. You will prove from the sacred volume, that Christ Jesus died for our sins. This will indeed be glad tidings to all those who are in bondage to the fear of death; and as this fear hath torment, the belief of these glad tidings will save every tormented soul from these tormențing fears; so that ever after, they will be able to serve their merciful God, their redeeming God, without fear; in newness of life. The heart of man is, by nature, prone to discredit this divine report ; and as those very scriptures, through which you prove the truth of the gospel, are made use of by unbelievers, to prove this gospel false, consequent upon the perversion of God's word, as the gospel hath been served by Christians, precisely as the Jews served the law; as it has been made void by their traditions, your business, and the business of every servant of Christ Jesus is, to prove that the sacred records, from beginning even unto the end, are all yea, and amen, to the glory of God. Yet while we uniformly declare the freeness and fulness of the gospel, of the grace of God our Saviour, for the purpose of persuading all men to believe, first making them acquainted with the truth, which they ought to believe, we should carefully and constantly exhort all those who have believed, to maintain good works; for although those good works cannot advance the interest of an omnipotent God, they are, nevertheless, well pleasing to him, in consequence of their being profitable unto men. But on this subject, it is unnecessary to add, as the printed letter which I take the liberty to enclose, will give my sentiments in this respect.

Permit me to request your serious attention to this printed letter; if your heart be as mine, it may be of some service to you and

friends. Although of a sect that was, is, and will continue to be, every where spoken against, even until the times of the restitution of all things ; yet light is encreasing, and many are daily added to the church, even such as shall be saved from the evil that is in the world : and the gospel of God our Saviour will grow,

it will spread far and wide, notwithstanding the rage of men, notwithstanding the rage of devils.

Of its increase, there will be no end, until the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord.

I congratulate you on being called as a witness for God to this truth. I pray God you may prove yourself a workman that needeth not to be ashamed. May you, and the few individuals who unite

to your

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

with you, setting your seals to the truth of the divine testimony, let your light so shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, may be constrained to glorify our Father, who is in heaven. Beware, I conjure you, of false brethren, of men who profess themselves servants of God, but in works deny him ; such professing friends are our worst enemies.-Farewell. I am, in our dear Lord and Master, your friend and brother, &c. &c.

LETTER LXVIII.

To an Inquirer.

SIR,

You ask an account of the ceremony I have originated, instead of infant sprinkling. On my

first
appearance

in this coun try, during my residence in the State of New-Jersey, I was requested, as the phrase is, to christen the children of my hearers. I asked them what was their design in making such a proposal to me? When they replied, they only wished to do their duty. How, my friends, returned I, came you to believe infant sprinkling a duty ? “ Why, is it not the command of God to sprinkle infants ?” If you will, from scripture authority, produce any warrant sufficient to authorise me to baptize children, I will immediately, as in duty bound, submit thereto. Our Saviour sprinkled no infant with water: those who were baptized by his harbinger, plunged into the river Jordan, which plunging was figurative of the ablution by which we are cleansed in the blood of our Saviour-But infants are not plunged in a river,

Paul declares he was not sent to baptize, and he thanks God that he had baptized so few : nor does it appear

that
among

those few, there were any infants. It is not a solitary instance, to find a whole household without a babe. The Eunuch cenceived it necessary there should be much water for the performance of the rites of baptism : all this seems to preclude the idea of sprinkling and of the infant baptisın : and it is said, that whole centuries passed by,

after the commencement of the Christian era, before the sprinkling of a single infant. I am; however, commencing a long journey many months will elapse before my return. I pray you to search the scriptures, during my absence ; and if, when we meet again, you can point out the chapter and verse, wherein my God has commanded his ministers to sprinkle infants, I will immediately prepare myself to yield an unhesitating obedience. I pursued my journey-- returned to New-Jersey, my then home--but no authority could be produced, from the sacred writings, for infant sprinkling. Still, however, religious parents were uneasy, and piously anxious to give testimony, public testimony of their reliance upon, and confidence in the God of their salvation. Many, perhaps, were influenced by the fashion of this world; but some; I trust, by considerations of a higher origin.

I united with my friends in acknowledging that when God had blessed them by putting into their hands, and under their care, one of the members of his body' which he had purchased with his precious blood, it seemed proper and reasonable, that they sliould present the infant to the God who gave it, asking his aid in the important duty, which had devolved upon them, and religiously confessing by this act, their obligation to, and dependance on the Father of all worlds. Yet we could not call an act of this kind baptism ; we believe there is but one baptism ; and this, because the Spirit of God asserts, by the Apostle Paul, that there is but one baptism, and the idea of this single baptism is corroborated by the class in which we find it placed. One Lord, one faith, oné baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Ephesians iv. 5, 6. After much deliberation I proposed, and many of my hearers have adopted the following mode: The parent or parents, (I am always best pleased when both parents unite,) bring their children into the great congregation, and standing in the broad aisle, in the presence of the worshippers of God. The Father receiving the babe from the arms of the mother, presents it to the servant of God, who statedly ministers at his altar. The ambassador of Christ receives it in his arms, deriving his authority for this practice, from the example of the Redeemer, who says, Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. The minister, therefore, taking the infant from its Father, who gives him, as he presents it, the name of the child, proclaims aloud, John or Mary, we receive thee as a member of the mystical body of him, who is

Vol. II.. 47

the second Adam, the Redeemer of men, the Lord from heaven. We dedicate thee to him, to whom thou properly belongest, to be baptized with his own baptism, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and we pronounce upon thee that blessing, which he commanded his ministers, Moses, Aaron, and his sons, to pronounce upon his people, saying,

The Lord bless thee and keep thee;
The Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto

[ocr errors]

thee;

The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. For this procedure we have the command, the express

command of God. Our reason and our religion concur to approve the solemnity, and our hearts are at peace.

The Lord, we repeat, hath commanded us to bless the people ; God himself pronounced this blessing upon all the people, in the first Adam, when he placed him in the garden of Eden, and blessing and cursing came not from the same mouth, upon the same characters. God, our God, is the ever blessing God; nor are blessings given only to the deserving. The blessings of providence, and of grace, are freely bestowed upon the evil and the unthankful; and when the evil and the unthankful obtain the knowledge of this truth, they earnestly sigh to be good, to be grateful.

But the ever blessed God, not only blessed the people in their first general head, but in that seed, which is Christ. In thy seed, said the Lord Jehovah, shall the families, all the families of the earth be blessed. This was a royal grant. We are not, in general, sufficiently attentive to this particular. It is common to talk of being blessed by, and, some say, through Christ, but few, very few, ever think of being blessed in Christ.

Secondly, You ask, if I am without fear? Respecting my standing in a future world, certainly yes.' A good tree bringeth not forth evil fruit; a sweet fountain never sendeth forth bitter waters. It is life eternal to know God. Why? Because God is, indeed, and in truth, the life of the world. I am not, said the God-man,who spake as never man spake, I am not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil them. Had I no other scripture than this, I could not fear; I never could be disquieted in the dread of future misery. God is manifested in the flesh, and, thus manifested, he is, indeed, and in truth, the life of the world, so that it is impossible to know God, and not to know my life. Moreover, I have life pre

7

« PreviousContinue »