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It is your own observation, that God does all in wisdom; in his wisdom he is pleased to lengthen your day of affliction. Sin, my darling, is the cause of all suffering; but it is not always the immediatè cause. Beside particular chastisement for particular sins, there are afflictions to be filled up in the body of Christ (his church), a measure of which, in kind and degree, is appointed, by unerring wisdom, to each individual member. Col. i. 24. These sufferings bear no part in atoning for sin, nor in redeeming our forfeited inheritance. Christ "trod the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none to help him." "He was made Sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him; who, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." Heb. i. 3. Again, chapter x. 11. “And every Priest" (in the Levitical law) "standing daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God: for, by one offering, he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified, whereof the Holy Ghost is also a witness to us; for, after he had said before,” (see from verse 5,) "This is the covenant which I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord-I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin." Paul says, the "Holy Ghost" is a Witness, because he copies from the ancient Scriptures the prophecies of Jeremiah, chap. xxxi. 31. and Ezek. xxxvi. 25. and from the Psalms, lx. 7. Your mother will read to you also the 8th chapter of Hebrews, containing the same things, the new covenant, in consequence of Christ, as the
Surety of sinners, having made full atonement, magnified the law, and made it honourable; therefore "there is now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus." It has pleased God, my darling, in the adorable plan of reconciling sinners to himself by Jesus Christ, to perfect at once a justifying righteousness for them, and to bestow it upon them as a free gift. "This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." 1 John v. 11. But it has not pleased him to deliver us at once from depravity.: provision is made for final deliverance by the same covenant, and effected by the same power, but in this believers are called to work. It is evident from Scripture, and the experience of Christians answers to it, that in the hour of believing, they pass from death to life, considered as a state. This is the hour of the new birth-they then receive life for the time, and it is their privilege, by the constitution of the new covenant, to ask and receive, from day to day, grace to help in every time of need. To them, and not to the unregenerate, the exhortation is addressed: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do, of his good pleasure." The means are of God's appointing, in the diligent use of which they go from strength to strength. The grand mean is faith in God's promises, of which there are very many in the Scripture. Believers are to put forth their own exertions, as the children of Israel were called to go out against their enemies, in the faith that God would give them victory, and lead them to the promised rest. The battle was the Lord's, and he fought for them; but the means were, their exertions. Believers are God's workmanship; but this work he carries on by exercising their natural powers, which he sanctifies to a different end from
that to which they were formerly by their own spirit directed. Still the Scripture testifies, that "if any man say he has no sin, he deceives himself, and the truth is not in him ;" and, while sin remains, its consequence, that is, suffering, must. The judgments of God, as the moral Governor of the world, are denounced against, and executed upon, the workers of iniquity. The children of God experience personal chastisements for personal sins, as a provision of the covenant. Psalm lxxxix. 30. And, if I mistake not, there are afflictions experienced by individuals, as members of Christ's body, in which God does not bring into view the personal sins of the sufferer. In this sense, I read Paul's Epistle to the Colossians i. 24."Who now rejoice in my sufferings, and fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ in my flesh, for his body's sake, which is the church." 1 Thess. iii. 3. "I sent Timotheus, to establish you, and to comfort you, concerning your faith, that no man should be moved by these afflictions, for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto." Phil. ii. 7. "Yea, if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with all; you for the same cause do ye joy and rejoice with me." 2 Cor. i. 6. "And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; and whether we be comforted, it is for your salvation and consolation." There is no conscious personal sin expressed in these sufferings ; on the contrary, Paul says, (verse 12,) "For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to youward."
Most of the prophets and the apostles suffered martyrdom. They, indeed, sustained public characters; but the
beggar Lazarus, who, in addition to poverty, was full of sores, was carried by the angels from the rich man's gate to Abraham's bosom. And thousands and tens of thousands of redeemed and sanctified men have suffered lengthened martyrdom, and perished with hunger, in holes and caves of the earth, unknown in history, except in groups-unseen at the time except by the eye of the omniscient Jehovah, by whom the hairs of their head are numbered; their tears are in his bottle; nor shall one sigh nor one groan perish without its result.
O, my Eliza, what delightful wonders shall open to our view, when delivered from these prison-holds of earth!
I have finished one sheet, my dear Eliza; I fear it is too much, and may prove too fatiguing, especially as there are many references requiring a stretch of attention. I have been reading the Epistle to the Hebrews, and you have naturally got my thoughts on part of it.
I once heard you complain that you had made small progress in knowledge, in comparison of a young person that had just left you; but you checked yourself, and said, 'The Lord has given me faith, let me be thankful.' I at that time considered your departure as very near, and advised you to keep your eye fixed on Christ, as your Redeemer and Saviour, who had performed all things for you and would perfect all that concerned you; and added, 'One hour in heaven will make you wiser than the most enlightened saint on earth.' Since that, it has pleased your Lord to add many days to your life. He has mitigated your pain, and given you some intervals of ease and composure, and our dear Eliza has grown in that time. Should it please God to spare you for a yet longer season, and continue your intervals of ease, no subject can be so profitable; and I hope your Lord will make it pleasant as
that of the contents of the New Testament which your Saviour bequeathed to you, sealed and ratified in his blood. There is a vast variety of precious promises contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, which are all yours with Christ; for as a member of his body, "you are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone." And now I commend you to your own covenant God, who does and will support you through life and through death, to that happy land, where we shall all meet and remember, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things he hath prepared for them that love him."
I am, with much love and affection,
TO MR. JAMES TODD, NEW YORK.
Rockaway, L. I.
My dear James,
THIS will probably be handed you by our mutual friend, Mrs. C- - The thought of her being with you, makes me part with her with less reluctance. You have not been forgotten by either; we have talked much of you, and have united in prayer to your and our God, that he may manifest himself unto you as your reconciled Father in Christ Jesus! and give you "joy and peace in believing" that he may give you patience in suffering, and entire resignation to his most holy will. It has, my dear young friend, been my earnest inquiry, especially of late