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I may chance to be in, when I am engaged in writing; and if my frame and my feelings are as changeful as the weather, it would not be matter of wonder, that I am sometimes clear and sometimes cloudy.
I sigh for the appearance of that morning without a cloud, for which we are taught to look, agreeably to the gracious words spoken unto us, by that consoling Spirit which taketh of the things of salvation, shewing them unto us; 0, for faith and patience! How often are we constrained to repeat, if in this life only we have hope, we are of all men the most miserable. Often am I induced to breathe forth the sighs and wishes of the prophet: “Would I had in the wilderness the lodging place of a way-faring man, that I may leave my people, that I may leave this bad world.” I do not pretend to say, that this wish is not as much a proof of evil in myself, as in my associates ; indeed, I know none of those among whom I sojourn, who are as bad as myself. But the plague of the heart, wherever it originates, must always be vexatious. O this pride, this busy sin, how it spoils our best attempts! Yes, I repeat, I am never so happy as when engaged in the work of my divine Master. Pity I cannot always be thus engaged; I ought to be so. Preaching is not the only work he has sent me to do. Who does our Saviour mean when he says, " Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing?"
The grace contained in the gospel is more and more precious in my sight. Merciful God, how much am I indebted for the unspeakable gift of thy Son! Is it to be wondered at, that I should determine to know nothing, either in my public or private character, but Christ Jesus, and him crucified ? Take away my Saviour, and you leave me nothing; but how soon is attention fatigued by this subject, and how much are professors in general, like the people of Israel ; how soon do even the followers of the Lamb grow weary of this manna! this bread of God, which cometh down from heaven. “ Nothing," said the murmuring ingrates, “ Nothing but this manna!"
I was pleased with your exposition of the cleansing of the leper, and your answer to judge H. on the doctrine of free will; it was like every other truth, simple and self-evident. There is inexpressible pleasure in the first discovery of truth. Why does it not continue ? But in heaven we shall find a song which will never tire, which will be forever new.
VOL. II. 17
I have in many places on my journey, discovered an ardent desire to hear : a spirit of inquiry is gone forth, and knowledge, even the knowledge of the true God and our Saviour is increasing. I stopped at S, where I could not be prevailed on to preach; but where I preached all the time, in a way I have frequently thought best calculated to convey useful information, I was engaged in open, ing the scriptures as God enabled me, by answering the interrogations of serious inquirers, and I have reason to hope, that I left some individuals in the kingdom of God's dear Son, who were on my arrival at S-, in the kingdom of darkness. From SI passed on to T. where I was assisted both by friends and enemies. The parish minister knowing I had been summoned thither, had been long engaged in preparing my way, and so strongly had he warned the people, that they became impatient for my arrival, and no sooner did I makė my appearance, than by previous desire intelligence was sent to the neighbouring towns, ten or twelve miles round the country. At then I preached to large and attentive congregations ; from whence I proceeded to D—, where I had an opportunity of delivering my message to multitudes collected from six different towns, and where, I am sure, salvation was brought, at least to onc family; you would have been delighted to have seen the light of life, dawning upon the benighted mind. From D-I journeyed to promulgating what I hold to be the truth of God; and taking B in my way I came on to P, where I have often been, but never, as I am persuaded, to so much purpose. Bigoted religionists have been thrusting out the disciples of our Lord, and have by that mean helped the cause of the Redeemer. The excommunicated members are acknowledged the best characters in the church of which they were members, or in the town of P-- they are extolled for sobriety and morality, and until they believed God, they were considered as excelling in piety.
Governor W. of S, earnestly solicited me to visit him on my way to N. I did so, and proclaimed there the words of grace and truth; two gentlemen engaged in the work of the ministry were among my congregation, determined to withstand me to my face, but I am persuaded one of those gentleman, the Governor thinks both, are now with us; they tarried with me, as did many of their hearers, until midnight.
The people in this city, N—, are as usual, anxious to hear and thirsting for a preached gospel. I never had better health, nor was my way ever more prosperous.
I am with great affection, your friend and brother.
To the same.
AM sorry, my dear Sir, you are so much alone ; I hope the Lord of the harvest will send forth faithful labourers into his , vineyard. The increase of your hearers must give you pleasure ; may your felicities of every description continually augment. Poor heart; there is need sufficient for this petition. My heart sinks aš I look over the next paragraph in your letter. It may, and no doubt it is, good for us to be afflicted; but yet it is very grievous: however, I bless God you have not yet lost your anchor; you still hope, and in this particular you are as rich as your brethren, for what would individuals in the most eligible circumstances be, if they had nothing in reversion ?
When I have the pleasure of seeing you, I shall accompany you on a visit to friend P. who will communicate to you, what our God has discovered to his soul; I do assure you; I have been very much entertained, nay more, I have been very much edified by the conversation of this gentleman; pity he hath not greater freedom of speech, but we know that from the same Spirit are derived diversity of gifts. I think friend P. has the gift (f discerning spirits; I once thought every Christian had this gift, but I now believe a man may be a Christisn, without being so blessed. Indeed, the Apostle indicates as much when he says, “ Beloved, believe not every spirit but try the spirits whether they be of God.” I think a man, indulged with this gift, is no longer under the power of the deceiver ; the man of sin can no more impose upon him, by showing himself that he is God, and as he himself cannot do this, it is impossible that any of his instruments can be more successful. Such a man need not,
that any should teach him; he having the unction from the HolyOne, can judge spiritually. How quietly such a man can stand, and how patiently hope for the salvation of God!
And yet; while sojourning in this vale of tears, we are not, we cannot be invulnerable to the shafts of affliction ; for myself I suffer much from different descriptions of Universalists. I have heretofore mentioned to you this source of inquietude, but the evil, as I fear, is a growing evil, and it is miné to lament its progress.
One class of Universalists come forward, blasphemously affirming, that all those types and figures, which are intended to exhibit the grand adversary of souls, were designed to designate the Redeemer of the world! Hence they insist he is the scape goat, Pharaoh, Lucifer, Achan, the man without the wedding garment, the tares of the field, &c. &c. &c.!!!
This same class, uniting with the Saducees of old, declare there is neither angel per devil, atonement nor future judgment. These ideas are to be traced to the works, or rather the ravings of Richard Coppin, where their system is regularly delineated, and which receives among them honours little short of divine.
Thus the grand adversary finding it impossible to prevent the progress of divine light and truth, will endeavour, under the name of gospel or universal redemption, to propagate more than the truth, uniformly continuing to sow his tares among the wheat, to the destruction, as far as may
be in his
of rectitude and peace. A second class of Universalists insist on purgatorial satisfaction, according to which, every man must finally become his own Saviour ; For, if I must suffer as much in my own person, as will satisfy divine justice, how is, or how can Jesus Christ be my Saviour ?
If this purgatorial doctrine be true, the ministryof reconciliation, committed to the apostles, must be false—To wit, God was in Christ reconciling the world upto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses. In fact, I know no description of people farther from christianity, true christianity, than such Universalians. 0, my friend, how exceeding difficult it is to keep in the narrow way! How much like a broken bow, is the human heart! How very ready to start aside! As I descend into the vale of life, these discoveries give me a taste of sorrow, and I anticipate a harvest of evil. But I know what you, and every wise man will say upon this occasion ; you will dwell upon the folly of anticipating future misery; nay, the wisest teacher who ever taught, informs me that
Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof: but while my judgment keeps pace with reason, nature appalled by fear, shrinks far behind. Well, I will endeavour to console myself by the consideration, that whatever unhappiness I may experience will finally redound to my advantage ; that if the love of many wax cold, a season of amity will follow; that if infidelity should prevail immediately on the dawn of the gospel day, all things change, light will prevail in its turn; ånd that, in the darkest times, the election will obtain the knowledge of truth, and the rest will be blinded. But blessed be God, the Redeemer of the whole human family, will finally lead the blind in a way which they have not known. A person writing to me from B-, is terrified at the rapid growth of Arianism or Socinianism, and wonders that so many clerical gentlemen should seem so very forward in promoting the prevalence of tenets so erroneous, and he asks if our boasted liberty will not be attended with tremendous consequences?
For my own part I cannot conceive that the liberty which conduces to a free inquiry, will ever make a single infidel. It may indeed embolden the infidel to throw off the mask of bypocrisy, which, either through fear or shame, he has so long worn.
It is indeed a fact, that no description of men in that part of the world called Christendom, can be more opposed in heart to the worship of the true God and our Saviour, or our Saviour, as the truc God, than the Socinian clergymen. Will not all this terminate in the establishment of Deism?
I always admired Captain M. but much more now, than before. What a feeling heart! we visited Madam E. who is on the threshold of another world, but the dear lady spoke so sensibly of tiine, of her departure, and of her future prospects—she conversed so much like a christian, like a prisoner of hope, who expected in a short time to be set at liberty, and to be permitted to take up her resi. dence in the house of her royal Father, that the heart of Captain M. was melted, and the tear of melancholy pleasure bedewed his cheek.
To be able thus to meet death with more than composure, to take our leave of this sublunary world, with hardly a regretting sigh, to be in our last moments strong in faith, and to finish our course giving glory to God. O, it is indeed “a consummation devoutly to be wished.” Here we may truly say with the Poet,