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members be considered instead of the head. I would raise a hue and cry, after every thought, word, or deed, that should rob my Saviour of his well-earned honour, and I am jealous of every
effort, which would lift the crown from the head of my Redeemer.
Yes, it is a fact, that while listening to the denunciations of this zealous, and uncandid man, while placed by him in the regions of darkness, my glowing bosom exulted in the assurance, and I rejoiced exceedingly in the reflection, that all judgment was not committed to man, that God was not man, that he is the same yesterday, to day, and forever. Well is it for the erring sons of mortality, that it is so, for it is therefore that the sons of Jacob, it is therefore that the children of men are not consumed.
Believe me, it was with a degree of secret transport, that I replied to my opponent on that day, of which you have so frequently solicited an account, and the joy of my soul was derived from an assurance, that he would one day know, as he was known. I felt, I assure you, more commiseration than resentment, while under the lash of his tongue, and I trust, if this child of God is still continued in this land of the dying, in this land of darkness, and should ever cast his eye on these pages, he will yield me credence while I say, that I most sincerely wish him the highest possible felicity. May the veil be withdrawn from his heart, and may he acknowledge the glory which is due to the Most High, in consequence of the peace and good will he hath given to the children of men.
What strange, what inconsistent beings are God's offspring, in their present bewildered state. But they shall not continue thus. The chaff will be removed from the harvest of the Lord, before it will be gathered into his garner.
Blessed forever be God, our Saviour, for this most holy truth.
I hope, my friend, I have answered your expectations : after the lapse of years, memory may not have been faithful to its office; but of this I am certain, the doctrinal points are correct, the leading propositions the same. If there be variations, they must be only in the arrangement or the language.
May you be with every blessing blest.-Farewell.
LETTER XVI. .
PROCEED to give you a detail of my conference with a very respectable clergyman. Connecticut is celebrated for hospitality, candour, and liberality; and yet, perhaps, this state does not contain a gentleman more humanely benevolent, more mild, and less bigoted than Mr. II. of
I was on my way from Philadelphia to Boston; notice was given by my friends as I passed, and a gentle man who had rendered himself respectable as a general officer in the revolutionary army, who was conversant with me while I officiated as chaplain to the Rhode Island brigade, and who had become venerable not only in virtue, but in years, accompanied by others of his friends, met me on my way, requesting that I would abide with them for a few days. I was lodged with the veteran soldier, and not only the duties, but the utmost kindness of hospitality was in full exercise toward me.
I was earnestly solicited to preach; and although circumscribed for time, yet both gratitude to them, and duty to my great Master, irresistibly urged my compliance, and I consented on condition 'that we might be accommodated with a suitable place, without giving offence to any one. The meeting-house was proposed. I started, taking it for granted, that it could not be obtained with the consent of the gentleman, who statedly preached there; and being, as you know, weary of contending either with ministers or people, I said, I will not give pain to your pastor. I know that the world never produced a more respectable circle of clergymen, according to their number, than is to be found in Connecticut; they are eminent for liberality : but I have never visited this place before, and there are occasions and circumstances, which may render it inconvenient, if not improper, to open a pulpit to a stranger. ! I was, however, silenced by an assurance that their minister was the kindest, and most liberal of men; that they were positive he would not urge a single objection, and an immediate application to him was proposed, which beirg agreed to, several gentle6 No,
men repaired without delay to the dwelling of the good and venerable divine, and speedily returned with an answer of peace. “ I consent cheerfully,” said he "order the bell to be rung
immediately, that the people may have notice; I will call on Mr. Murray directly; he is entitled to my respect.” Accordingly Mr. H. was with me almost immediately after the return of our committee; his countenance was benign, and his deportment gentlemanly ; he extended his hand as if in anity, assured me my coming had given him pleasure; that he felicitated himself on the prospect of hearing me preach: that report had rendered him familiar with my name and testimony, and that he had long been anxiously solicitous to hear, and judge for himself.
After passing some time in friendly converse, I observed that the hour was passed, on which the bell was to have rung. Şir," returned Mr. H.'“ I have given the sexton orders, he will be punctual, and I intend myself the pleasure of accompanying you to church.” Accordingly upon the ringing of the bell we sat forward together! at the door of the church we were met by a gentleman, who put into my hand a paper, containing a request that I would take for my subject the rich man and the beggar. I took it with me into the pulpit, and there gave it to Mr. H. who accompanied me thither, informing him if he wished me to select any other text, I would be guided by his preference. “No, Sir, I had rather hear you upon that passage, than any other.” . And I proceeded with great freedom to deliver my sentiments upon the subject selected for me, in its connexion. Upon the close of our sermon, Mr. H. informed me in a whisper, that a lecture preparatory to the communion, had been published for the ensuing evening., “Pray, Sir, give me leave to tell the people, that you will tarry and preach for us on that evening.” Conduct so new, both gratified and astonished me, and my feelings upon the occasion impelled a compliance with his wishes. My engagements were postponed, and the lecture was published.
On the second evening our congregation was enlarged, it was respectable and attentive, and their worthy pastor discharged to me, in every view, the whole duty of a Christian, combined with that genuine politeness, which distinguishes and is so truly ornamental to the gentleman. Passing from church, Mr. H. regretted the necessity I was under for so speedy a departure, and eamestly requested me before I left town, to grant him one half hour
at least, private conversation. I confess I was alarmed at the word private, having suffered so greatly from private interviews with religious professors; yet, on recurrence to his conduct toward me, I accused myself of injustice, and the conscious hue of self-reproach tinged my cheek.
I shall leave town on the ensuing day, Sir, but my morning shali be devoted to you.
“ Thank you, Sir ; I shall expect you with eagerness."
The morning came, and I repaired to the mansion of this reverend gentleman. I found him seated in his hall, with his Bible in his hand.
Mr. H. I rejoice to see you, Sir; I hope you have good health and spirits this morning.
Murray. Thank you, Sir, tolerable ; you look well, and I am happy to see you thus employed.
Mr. H. I have earnestly desired this interview, Sir, and my object is truth. I believe there is no person in the world, more earnestly desires the welfare of his species than myself: nor do I think there is an individual in existence, who would be more hap-. py to find your doctrine scripturally true. But, at present there are a number of scriptures, which appear to me point blank against it.
M. But, Sir, should we not receive one part of scripture as the word of God, as much as another? and if those testimonies which we denominate sacred, are indeed the word of God, must they not be consistent?
Mr. H. Undoubtedly they must, and undoubtedly they are ; and yet, do they not appear contradictory?
M. Not to me, Sir; if they did, I would reject the Bible altogether,
Mr. H. If you will permit me, I will just turn your attention to
a few passages.
M. Certainly, Sir, they shall have my most serious attention.
Mr. H. Well, Sir, what are we to understand by the tares and the wheat ? and the chaff and the wheat ?
M. Pray, Sir, let us attend to one scripture at a time, that we may
the better understand them; for I, my dear Sir, am as much interested in these scriptures as you are, and were I to find a single passage directly opposed to me, it would render me extremely unhappy. Yet, it would not be consistent with the character of
those who profess to search the scriptures, to pass over any of the words of our God, without diligent investigation. The parables no doubt contain much matter, and matter of infinite importance. The disciples, when they found their Master speaking to the multitude in an unknown tongue, anxiously enquired the reason : Why speakest thou to the people in parables ? and I have thought their astonishment must have been very great, when he replied: “ That they should not understand, lest they should be converted and healed.” This answer, I say, must have appeared exceeding strange to those, who supposed the sole purpose of his preaching was to give information. To you, said the blessed Saviour, it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but tu others I speak in parables that they may not know.
Had the Jews known what those parables contained, where would have been found a hand so wicked as to crucify the Son of God? how would the scriptures have been fulfilled, and how could he have made an end of sin? how could he have atoned or expiated ? but this, perhaps, is unnecessarily wandering from our purpose. Of the propriety of those arrangements, which are under the direction of infinite wisdom, there can be no doubt.
I will tell you, my dear Sir, how I used to conceive of the parable of the wheat and the tares. The tares I supposed emblematic of the sinners among mankind, and the wheat I regarded as figures of the righteous. Yet, there were times when I could not avoid thinking, although fearful to indulge my reflections. At length I was favoured with an explanation of this parable, by the greatest and best preacher I ever heard. This preacher, my dear Sir, assured me, that the tares and the wheat, although they grew together, had not the same origin, did not proceed from the same Father, and were not sown by the same seedsman; but, when the blade sprung up the tares also became visible, and the angels of God who sang together on the morning of creation, when their Creator pronounced the work of his hands very good, on observing these tares, and the grain producing such fruit as envy, hatred, malice, and finally murder, these angels, or servants of the household, said, Sir, didst thou not sow good seed? whence then hath it these tares ? Observe, and weigh well the reply of the Master, An enemy hath done this. Can we forbear taking this with us to the garden of Eden, and reflecting upon what was done there, and upon subsequent events ?