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RULE AND THE RIDDLE;
BLIND WATCHMEN AND OLD WOMEN.
IN TWO PARTS.
AND IF BY GRACE, THEN IS IT NO MORE OF WORKS. ROM. XI. 6.
I RECEIVED my sister's kind epistle; and have considered her numberless complaints, and the difficulty of her way. " That which is crooked cannot be made straight, and that which is wanting cannot be numbered,” says Solomon. Every epistle comes with heavy tidings; and no wonder, for thou art compassing about the old mount, and hast got the veil on again; and thou wilt hold it fast enough, unless some evangelical watchman, or keeper of the walls, be sent to smite thee, wound thee, and take away thy veil from thee, Song v. 7. Thy poor husband must have need of patience now to bear with thee, for thy temper will try him to purpose. There is no living at peace where Hagar keeps house. Let the bondwoman once get between thee and the everlasting Father, and she will soon make you feel the difference between the yoke of a bondmistress and the freedom of a married wife. Hagar will soon
bear rule, entangle thee in the yoke of servile fear, and provoke thee to jealousy, till thy flesh be ready to crawl upon thy bones; and thou wilt become a burden to thyself, and to all about thee; and then it is well if thou dost not say, My wrong be upon thee. It is thy own foolishness that perverteth thy way, and thy heart fretteth against the Lord, Prov. xix. 3. Truth has told thee that Hagar is mount Sinai in the figure, and genders to bondage; but if the Lamb's wife sets no more store by her dignity and honour than to commit the management of her affairs to a bondservant, it is a pity but she should bear the yoke till she knows the worth of her liberty, honour, and privileges. Hagar was appointed to serve, not to bear rule. There are three things that disquiet the earth, yea four that it cannot bear; and the first is, “For a servant when he reigneth.” Thou art not to serve in the oldness of the letter; therefore cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the bondwoman must not govern the Lamb's wife, nor shall the bondchild be heir with the children of promise. This thing will not be grievous to the Father of the faithful concerning the bondwoman and her son; for he has told thee that the servant abideth not in the house for ever, but the son abideth ever; and those sons are free sons, who are delivered from the yoke of bondage, and stand fast in their liberty; and the free woman is one who cleaves to her royal husband, manages her house with discretion, and keeps her servants in their place.
Thou hadst not got this yoke on thy neck, nor this grave-cloth wrapped about thy head, when thou satest under what is now called Antinomianism: thy soul seemed then to be healthy, thy conversation savoury, and thy countenance comely ; thy heart was like the chariots of Amminadib, and thou didst run the race set before thee with delight. But where art thou now? They have driven thee with the law till thou art both blind and bound. “ They zealously affect you, but not well;" they that lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy path; thou art not now in Wisdom's pleasant ways, nor in the paths of peace.
Remember from whence thou art fallen; from thy first love, from heart-felt union and fellowship with Christ, from joy and peace in believing, and from the happy enjoyment of God's free Spirit! Thou didst then enjoy the liberty of the gospel; now thou feelest the bondage of the law. The Lord did attend the word with a marvellous power, and ministered the Spirit among you by the preaching of faith. Does he the same now by the works of the law? I trow not. Thou hast felt the Saviour's yoke to be easy, and his burden light; and thou never wast more holy nor happy within, nor more circumspect without, than thou wast then. I would have thee try and see what the law can do for thee: stick to it, and try what love, life, peace, and holiness, can be fetched from thence; and, when thou hast perfected the work of sanctification by that rule, then be so kind as to send