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January 4, 1801.
WELL! let us bless the Lord together for what he has done for you, for me, and for many dear to us. None ever sought him in vain, or found him worse than his promise. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God. Then shall ye know, if ye follow on to know the Lord. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him! Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you." "Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye
to the waters."
My friend, did I say too much of this kind, compassionate, life-giving Saviour, or of the fulness and freeness of the gift of God? You have tasted it, you have witnessed it, you have seen a recent proof of it—you may trace mercy through all this dispensation; the lengthening out of his illness, the preservation of his judgment and strength of mind to the last, concurred to manifest to himself, to you, and to all who would look on the reality of the joy and peace, which are the fruit of believing and acquiescing in that remedy of God's own providing for poor wandering, miserable sinners. He had wandered from the Fountain of living waters; his broken cisterns could yield him no refreshment-like the poor starving prodigal, he desired to return to his father, and asked the way to Zion with his face thitherwards. Was not the sequel realized to him? His father met him, embraced him, brought him home, and filled his heart with peace and gladness. Is it not all of a piece with what he has revealed of his own name and character?
He has declared himself to be "the Lord, the Lord
God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, slow to anger, of great kindness, showing mercy to thousands, pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin-who will by no means clear the guilty;" seeing he has found a method of magnifying his own law, and justifying the ungodly, by substituting another in their room. God is merciful to all the extent he has said; but still it is by his own method: for he has declared, that "there is no other name given, by which men must be saved, but the name of Christ Jesus." But men, even such as are moral, benevolent, (good in the common acceptation of the word,) going about to establish their own righteousness, will not submit to the righteousness of God's own providing; this is the madness, this is the folly, this, I fear, is the ruin of thousands. Did I say, I fear? Dare I doubt? No, I dare not, for God has said it. O, my friend, let us cleave to the only Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus; and let us be jealous among those whom we love, and over whom we have influence, to bring them off from every sandy foundation, to the Rock, Christ. You say true, that I was interested personally, in this dear Brother: and never did mother watch over the darling of her heart, with more unwearied attention, than he did over my Jessy. He, by the blessing of God, restored her for a time-now they are met; soon shall we follow; many friends have gone before. O that every bereavement may be blessed to us, that we may be weaned from the things of time, and made familiar with the prospects held out to us beyond the grave!
TO MRS. JULIET S
Belleville, September 16, 1808.
My dear Juliet,
SINCE the hour I received your letter, you have been little out of my mind. You call upon me as mother, friend, counsellor. Shall conscious unworthiness, or weakness, or ignorance, prevent me from answering? No; for God often chooses weak instruments to bring to pass great ends. I have been once and again at a throne of grace, for wisdom to direct me, and grace to be faithful. If your desire after spiritual knowledge be sincere, and from the Spirit of God operating on your heart, you will bear searching.
You are a communicant, my Juliet: this presupposes that a very great, and an important change has taken place in your mind, that you have been made deeply sensible of what the word of God testifies of every son and daughter of Adam's race. Romans iii. 9. "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. Man is born as the wild ass's colt, going astray from the womb." Job. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; I the Lord search it. Having the understanding darkened, alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in us, because of the blindness of our hearts." Ephesians iv. 18. "Dead in trespasses and sins." Chapter ii. 1. This chapter may be addressed to you, Juliet, by name. "You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. Wherein in time past ye walked, according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation
in times past, in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh, and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love, wherewith he hath loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ. By grace are ye saved, through faith; not of works, lest any man should boast." Works there are, my Juliet, most assuredly; every quickened soul will live, and bring forth fruits of righteousness; but these works are not attainable, except in God's way and order. It follows, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them." My Juliet says, 'To you, then, I look up, to teach me.' Let me then bring you to the great Teacher and Prophet of the church, without whose teaching all human instruction will be ineffectual. We read of two amiable persons coming to Christ, professedly for instruction. The first you will find in Matthew, xix. 16. The young man asks him, "What good thing shall I do, that I may inherit eternal life?" Jesus answers him, by referring him to the moral law; the young man, not made acquainted by the Spirit of God, either with the extent or with the spirituality of that law, or of the depravity of his own nature, answers, as many in like circumstances still do: "All these things have I kept from my youth up." I do not suppose any one could contradict him. It is added that Jesus loved him, and he was a person of attractive character; but Jesus knew that the new principle was not there-supreme love to God, "with all the heart, with all the soul, with all the strength, and with all the mind:" therefore he gave him a test, which proved that the world was uppermost in his heart. He went away sorrowful, and we hear no more of him. Of the other
person, you read in that remarkable chapter, the third of John's Gospel-his name was Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, and also a teacher. Well he knew the law, as to the letter of it, both moral and ceremonial: he must also have been acquainted with all the Old Testament Scripture, types, and prophecies, it being his office to expound; and, no doubt, among others, he was looking for the promised Messiah. Jesus does not send him to either the law or the prophets. This ruler comes with a conviction and an acknowledgment, that Jesus himself was a Teacher immediately from God; and Jesus immediately takes upon himself his great office, and begins with urging that which is a sinner's first business: to know himself," what he is by nature, and the necessity of the new birth. Nicodemus, with all his learning, was a stranger to this doctrine: "How can a man be born when he is old?" Jesus repeats his doctrine: "He must be born of water and the Spirit. That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto you, Ye must be born again." Humble that proud reason, which will believe nothing but what it can understand. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit”— a mystery it is; nevertheless it is true. Follow out the chapter, my dear. Jesus preaches his own Gospel, and brings in that beautiful type the serpent, which He had commanded to be raised on a pole, that those who had been bitten with fiery serpents, whose bite was death, should look unto it and be healed. Read it in the 21st of Numbers. In reference to this, he himself says, "Look unto me, all ye ends of the earth, and be ye saved. Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."