« PreviousContinue »
their promoting, by any means the happiness of human nature. So far are they from the smallest exertions in our favour, that when the children of philanthropy would feed the hungry, or give drink to the thirsty; when they would send garments to the naked, or visit the sick and imprisoned; when they would bring home the stranger to their houses, these evil spirits are ever with them to prevent them, by producing in their hearts opposition to every correct and humane sentiment.
Yes, truly these fallen spirits, these goals, may with propriety be considered as adversaries to every human being, even to the least in the kingdom of heaven. Therefore will the head of every man say to these foes of every man, “ Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels." And these shall go away into everlasting fire; but the human nature no longer operated upon by evil spirits, clothed with the garments of salvation, and covered with the robe of righteousness, even the righteousness of God, which is upon all, and filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea : these ransomed of the Lord, ascending with the God who made them, with the God man who redeemed them, with Jesus who saved them from their sins: the whole posterity of Adam complete, shall inherit the kingdom; shall enter into life eternal.
Thus, my dear Sir, you see that the whole is consistent.
Stranger. I do, I do; I have not, I cannot have any thing to object : while I live I shall bless the instrument who hath thrown aside the veil, that until this hour was drawn over my heart. Yes, I see the good and consistent words of my God, and my happiness is ineffable.
This same 25th of Matthew, as I before observed to you, is upon every occasion brought forward. I acknowledge my views of this subject are dissimilar from any preacher or writer, who hath indulged us with their sentiments upon this passage. In this particular I am not in unison even with Mr. Relly; and yet it is exceeding strange, for really it appears to me, there is not in the whole book of God a more lucid passage. But, like many other passages equally unequivocal, it is encrusted, rendered obscure by confused expositions, or perverted views of those sacred testimonies which are recorded for our consolation. But all these perversions arise from unbelief. The sufferings of Christ Jesus are supposed insufficient, and therefore there are a class, even of Universalists, who suppose that pain and sorrow must be extended to some unknown period, beyond the general judgment, in order that indi
dividuals may pay the mighty debt, which our Surety has left unpaid; while the advocate for eternal misery, pronounces positively that this debt can never be paid, and that God Almighty was well apprized of this awful truth, when he sent the souls which he breathed into the children of men, which souls were consequently his own breath, into prison for the ostensible purpose of discharging to divine justice their full arrears! But, says the unbelieving Universalist, they can and will pay to the uttermost farthing, and when they do God will be satisfied. Thus it is not the sufferings of the Saviour which are accepted as satisfactory, although never sorrow was like unto his sorrow, and it is therefore that the sorrows and sufferings of the sinner must be added !
I will give you a specimen of a conversation handed me, one hour since, between a Priest and a Layman; it is the reverse of the dialogue contained in these sheets, but it is a short sketch of the manner in which I am judged by my opponents.
Priest. Have you been to hear this strange preacher, Sir ?
L. Why really, Sir, I cannot say but I liked to hear him very much; I think he is a very extraordinary preacher indeed.
P. So do I, I think he is a very extraordinary preacher indeed.
L. I thought you had, Sir, by your saying he was so very extraordinary.
P. No, Sir, it would be much out of character for me to hear such a preacher.
L. I wish, Sir, you had heard him last evening, I am sure you would have liked him.
P. I am sure I should not.
P. How, Sir, nothing dangerous in him! nothing dangerous in a man who preaches Universal Salvation?
L. Sir, I heard him declare nothing contrary to the word of God.
P. May be not, in one discourse. But indeed, Sir, it is dangerous to go upon the Devil's ground.
L. The Devil's ground, Sir! the Baptist meeting, “the Devil's ground?”
P. Sir, I did not mean the Baptist meeting; I meant the false and dangerous doctrines that man holds up.
L. I repeat, I heard him say nothing that was false.
L. Perhaps not. I wish you had been there, you would have understood him, and you could have communicated to me your knowledge.
P. Sir, you may depend upon it I will never hear him.
L. Well, Sir, I think with submission you ought to hear him, that you may be able to point out his errors.
P. Sir, I can point out his errors without hearing him ; I say he preaches false doctrine, and that is enough.
1.. But, Sir, you never heard him preach false doctrine.
P. I have been told he preaches Universal Salvation, which is certainly false doctrine.
L. Sir, he defends what he teaches by scripture vouchers.
L. Well, Sir, and should the Devil himself mention scripture I should believe it.
P. But you would not think he intended to make a good use of the scriptures he might mention?
L. I should not, Sir, but it is judging rather severely to suppose this man has no better design, than would in like circumstances be evinced by Devils.
But enough of this.
How malignant are my opposers. Occurrences of this description render me unhappy; they originate murmuring and discontent, and frequently produce something like the following dialogue with myself.
I am sick of this bad world.
No, positively, the disease is incurable ; I shall never be separated therefrom, while I am clothed in mortality. There is nothing below the sky that can tend to remove my disgust. But every thing in its nature tends to increase my aversion from iny present mode of existence.
Are you not ungrateful ? look round, and behold if you be not encompassed about by a variety of mercies ; nor are those mercies always in disguise. Is it not inconsistent for a preacher of glad tidings, whose future prospects are so unclouded, to be thus fre
quently complaining of his accommodations on the journey through life, especially as he knows it is no more than a journey, short, when the longest ; and while he sees so many of his fellow vellers, in circumstances much worse than his own.
Glad of the opportunity, I hastily reply. This last consideration is so far from contributing to my pleasure, that it is rather an aggravation. I feel in a great ineasure all the miseries I see; and this is one capital evil which serves to embitter my life.
But certainly you will not say, that there are not many things which serve as sweeteners of life? have you not the light of life as a lantern to your paths ?
Yes; but give me leave to say, this serves to make the darkness visible.
But you are thereby able to walk through the darkness.
Your friends are near, and industriously contributing to your happiness.
My enemies, although at a distance, are ever shooting at me their envenomed arrows, and sometimes they take such aim, as effectually to transfix my peace.
You have pleasure in reading the works of well instructed scribes,
Yes; but I read as a glutton eats, till I lose my appetite, and spoil my digestion.
You have pleasure in sentimental conversation with Christian friends.
But I sometimes make them angry, and that makes me angry, first with them, and afterwards with myself.
How great must be your happiness when offended friends kindly forgive your petulances.
How great must be my pain when I cannot forgive myself.
The attachment of your friends, and their reluctance to part with you, should be a source of consolation.
And how miserable to be necessitated to leave such friends.
What, when this meeting will be only a prelude to another parting?
You should reflect you will in no long time meet to part no more for ever.
Yes; but how many days of misery may first revolve, and how much of previous sufferings may I yet endure.
Then I suppose you are solicitous for a garden without weeds, a meadow without snakes, summer without heat, winter without cold, or, to present the sum total at once, you languish for a new heaven in the old earth.
Such are, I had almost said the impious repinings, which too frequently triumph over my more correct judgment. Would to God I were in possession of that uniform and calm resignation, so proper to the character I have to support. That I were content to go just where the spirit of truth shall point my path; a cheerful labourer in the vineyard of my Master-But O! this self ! this God dishonouring self! But can this same self the Almighty's will control? Can I take a step counter to his pleasure? O no, the supposition is replete with absurdity. If here, or there, still I am his creature, the creature of unerring Deity, and he will make such use of me as he pleases: and, gracious Father, let thy arrangements produce in thy wayward child cheerful obedience; give me to join the general choir of never ending praise. Shall I, because I have not every wish, unthankful feel? Shall I, so greatly blest abroad, at home, with friends, with friendship, precious gifts of heaven, unthankfully repine at heaven's high will, thus forfeiting the blessings I possess ? Shall I be thus indulged, the care of Providence, and yet complain my mercies are so few? Forbid it, heaven, that my tongue should thus speak, while mercies, clustering mercies, compass me about. | Give me, great God, with every other gift, that best of all thy gifts, a grateful heart; it is this alone which gives a zest to every other enjoyment. With this I'll patient wait thy gracious nod, and live or die, just as thy wisdom points. Let no rebellious muttering pass my heart. Give me in patience to possess my soul.
I am this day by appointinent to minister at the altar of my God. Divine Author of my existence, vouchsafe this day thy gracious presence. Give to my labouring bosom firm composure. Enable me, precious Redeemer of men, to stay myself on thee the God of my salvation, that I may calmly say to the acrimonious spirit of re