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affectionate my mother has been to me and the rest of her children, and however careful of our well-being in the world, yet one thing is certain, she never was well affected to the TRUTH which we profess. Therefore, dear Father, I would have you reflect upon the first entrance of sin into the world, and see what God says to Adam, Gen. iii. 17. I am pretty sure my mother has not been without convictions now and then, and I am afraid your yielding the cause has served to harden her against the truth which we profess, and which she has had so much access to hear about. I have often been much concerned about my mother, and had reason, as she was very kind to me; but I have not the same handle to take hold of her conscience by that I have of yours; if she belongs to Jesus Christ HE will take care of her, and if it please him to give you repentance you will be the fittest hand to deal with her conscience. I know it is your natural temper to desire ease and quietness, and that you would rather submit in most cases, and suffer yourself to be driven aside from your purpose, than to be at the trouble of maintaining and pursuing it against any considerable opposition; and if you had nothing but the things of this life to be concerned about, I should not blame you much for this temper of mind, because it is a matter of no great moment whether a man obtains his purpose or be diverted from it as to all the short-lived enjoyments of this life. But, dear Father, consider that the matters of eternal life and death are not to be trifled with. If a man be in good earnest for eternal life, he will be at any rate like a wise merchant, he counts the cost becomes resolute and positive to part with everything else rather than lose the pearl of great price. He will rather disoblige and provoke all his nearest and dearest friends and relations, and part with his beloved ease and quiet, and everything that is dear to him in this world, than risk the losing of eternal life. The love of the truth gives resolution and boldness to men of the most timorous temper, and gives courage to suffer, though they should not be able to defend or contend for the same with the pen or tongue of Paul or Apollos; and Jesus Christ, in his invitation to sinners to follow him, speaks continually to this purpose, wanting none but such as were resolute for the kingdom of Heaven, and ready to run all hazards for it. He says, from this time the kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force; and he says, Luke, xiv. 26,“ If any man come unto me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren and sisters-yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple; and whosoever doth not bear the cross, and come after me, connot be my disciple ;" and, again, "Whoso putteth his hand to the plough, and looketh back, is not fit for the kingdom of Heaven."
Now, dear Father, having considered your way as narrowly as I could, I have laid all those things before you which I think endanger your eternal welfare in as plain language as I was able, under six heads, which I shall here tell you over again, and set before you in one view.
The first is, your being influenced in your religious concerns more by the authority and esteem of men noted for godliness, than by the authority and approbation of the living God in the Scriptures.
The second is, you have been joining the love of the world together with the profession of the name of Jesus.
The third is, your great and fatal mistake about what is the main thing in religion.
The fourth is, your endeavouring to discourage your children from following Christ according to his word.
The fifth is, your apostatizing from that holy profession which your conscience was once enlightened about, and joining with its enemies, and your persisting in this apostacy notwithstanding of frequent convictions.
The sixth and last is, your hearkening more to my mother than to Jesus Christ, and choosing rather to enjoy your own ease and quiet than to contend earnestly, as the apostle Jude says, for the faith once delivered to the Saints.
Now, dear Father, I earnestly entreat you to hearken to the words of Jesus Christ, which I have been laying before you, and let your conscience speak out freely, for I have not spoken these things to upbraid or provoke you, but to convict you. Beware, dear Father, of reasoning against any convictions you have, or of putting the blame from yourself upon others; for when Christ comes to judgment he will admit no excuses from any man for disobeying any of his words, and the Spirit of God strives with you for your good; remember it is very dangerous, as well as ungrateful, to resist his will. Wherefore, I entreat you again, dear Father, to bethink yourself, while God exercises his longsuffering patience towards you, and while there is yet a door open in the Gospel for repentance and the remission of sin; while the Father of mercies and the God of all grace is yet saying, Hosea, xiv. 4, I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely, for mine anger is turned away from him ;" even his beloved son Jesus Christ, who taketh away the iniquity and backslidings of all sorts of sinners upon himself, bearing them on his own body to the tree, and hath reconciled to God, by the sacrifice of himself, Rom. viii. 3. Beware then of blinding yourself, or of hiding or covering your sin by excuses or reasonings, for it will be happy for you that your iniquity be hid only under the covering of the precious blood of Christ, which is able to
present you without fault before God. Be not then ashamed to confess your sin freely, over the head of this true sacrifice. Let not the world, reproaching you for changeableness, hinder you from making another change yet, and returning to your duty.* It is much better to be disregarded by the world than to be put to shame at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, before whose judgment-seat we must all soon appear to give an account of the deeds done in the body, whether good or whether evil. The greatest ground of hope I have about you, dear Father, is, that you are under the censure of the church of Jesus Christ, which you left, as the last mean of his appointment for your recovery; and as the design of this letter is to refresh your memory, and bear home upon your mind the justness of this censure, so that it may prove effectual by the blessing of Jesus Christ, in whose name it was inflicted for your recovery, is the earnest wish and prayer of, dear Father,
Your affectionate son,
P.S.-Dear Father, as this is not the first time that you have apostatized from the Christian profession, though I am sorry to say it is by far the longest, I think it proper here, by way of postscript, to recall to your mind a confession you made of the sin of your apostacy upon a former occasion to the Church of Christ in Dundee. I have beside me that very letter which you sent to the church, subscribed with your own hand, and I shall here give you a copy of it word for word. It runs thus :—“ To the elders, deacons, &c., of the Church of Christ, assembling at Dundee. I intended to have come down myself, at this time, to the assembly of the church, and to have endeavoured to give satisfaction to the whole, elders and brethren, who are justly offended with me for sinfully withdrawing from the profession of Christianity among you, and to have desired access to the church again; but the state of my health, and the severity of the wea ther, make it impracticable for me to come at present; and, therefore, this serves to entreat you will, in my name, acquaint the church when assembled, that, if my heart deceives me not, I am sensible of, and desire to be grieved for my rash and sinful deserting of the profession of the faith and hope of the Gospel in that church of Christ whereof ye are the overseers, and I confess I have preferred the lusts of this world to the hope of the glory to be revealed when Christ appears, and I have highly dishonoured him and grieved and offended his disciples. My mind has often, since I went out, wrought in pride and enmity against the Christian profession and the members of the church who
* See Proverbs xxviii. 13.
have disowned and forsaken any intimacy with me, even when my conscience was convinced they were obeying the word of God in shunning my company for my conviction. I likewise own that the word of God has often struck my conscience, and filled my mind with terror for my apostacy from the profession I once made amongst you and I see from that word that I cannot have access and liberty to obey Jesus Christ the Lord, but in such a church as you are; and therefore my earnest request is, that the church will show forth the bowels of sympathy of the merciful High Priest in ardent prayer to the God of all grace to pardon me, the chief of sinners, and that I may have ground to hope, that, upon my coming up to your assembly, you will pity and give me access again to serve the Lord Jesus as a member of the church. I also beg your sympathy, with my distressed family, and hope Mr. Glas, and such of the brethren I have conversed with more fully, will lay my case before the church; and that the Lord our righteousness may bless his churches, and advance his kingdom is the prayer of 'yours, affectionately, "16th March, 1733.
In consequence of your letter, the elders, in behalf of the church in Dundee, returned the following answer :
“ DEAR BROTHER,
“ Dundee, 19th March, 1733.
"We received and communicated your penitential letter to the church last Sunday, and having considered the grounds of your desire to be again received, and the things represented to Mr. Glas, William Morrison, and George Miller, who testified to them of the belief of the sincerity of your confession, in your letter, the church unanimously declared their satisfaction; and, therefore, by solemn prayer the church received you in the name of Jesus Christ as a member thereof, so that you now again stand in the open profession of that blessed name, and you are by the church recommended to the work of his grace, hoping he will enable you to adorn the doctrine of his Gospel by a willing subjection to his laws; and that having your eye fixed on the Lord your righteousness, you will zealously appear in the concerns of his glory, and the rather that the sovereignty of his mercy and his bowels of compassion may be opened to you, who have dishonoured him, offended his little ones, and hardened the world by your apostacy. That his grace may be with you, is the prayer of the church and of the elders."
Dear Father, how happy for you, and your sons, would it be to see an event like this happen again!
ON READING THE BIBLE.
[From the Christian Baptist, Vol. III.]
There is, perhaps, no book read more than the Bible, and it appears as though no book generally read was less understood. This, no doubt, has arisen from a combination of causes which exists in relation to no other book in the world. If any other book in the English language had as many commentaries written upon it, had as many systems predicated upon it, or upon particular constructions of it; if any other book were exhibited in the same dislocated and distracted light, had as many debates about its meaning, and as many different senses attributed to its words; if any other book were read as the Scriptures are commonly read, in the same broken, disconnected, and careless manner, with the same stock of prejudices and preconceived opinions, there is every reason to believe that it would be as unintelligible and as little understood as the Bible appears to be. We often wonder at the stupidity of the Jews in our Saviour's time in relation to his pretensions and claims, and no doubt posterity will wonder at our stupidity and ignorance of a book which we read so often and profess to venerate so highly. There is a greater similarity in the causes and reasons of their and our indocility than we are aware of. The evil one has the same interest in obscuring this volume, which he had in obscuring the evidences of his mission; and the vitiosity of man, both natural and acquired, exhibits itself in the same aspect towards the Bible as it did in reference to the person concerning whom it was all written.
But among the myriads who religiously read the Bible, why is it that so little of the spirit of it seems to be caught, possessed, and exhibited? I will give one reason, and those more wise may add to it others. Many read the Bible to have a general idea of what it contains, as a necessary part of a polite education; many read it to attain the means of proving the dogmas which they already profess; many read it with a design of being extremely wise in its contents; many read it that they may be able to explain it to others; and, alas! but few appear to read it supremely and exclusively that they may practise it; that they may be conformed to it, not only in their outward deportment, but in the spirit and temper of their minds. This is the only reading of it which is really profitable unto men, which rewards us for our pains, which consoles us now, and which will be remembered for ages to come with inexpressible delight. In this way, and in this way only, the spirit of it is caught, retained, and exhibited. Some such readers seem to be enrapt or inspired with its contents. Every sentiment and feeling which it imparts seem to be the sentiments and feeling of their hearts; and the