Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

hands upon them the Holy Ghost came on them and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

In such a church I should venerate the ceremony of ordination. Then the Holy Ghost said, separate me, Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them; and when they had fasted and prayed, they laid their hands on them. This was not an empty show, 2 Timothy, i. 6. “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance, that thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee, by the putting on of my hands.” Here one man, full of the Holy Ghost, laid his hands on another, and God owned the ordinance by giving his spirit upon the occasion. Surely, if the Holy Ghost be not present upon these occasions, nothing but the shadow remaineth to us; a body without a soul; the ordinance is not the same. In its first institution it was animated and blessed by the holy spirit of our God Now, but I forbear, and shall only observe, it would be difficult to point out any place or people, in which, or among whom, any one ordinance in the Old or New Testament, is even literally observed. Yet if God thought proper to continue those ordinances, they would be continued as in the first ages of christianity. We know that an Omnipotent God was able to give healing and complete restoration, even to a look upon the brazen serpent, not only to the days of Hezekiah, but to the coming of the Messiah, But did God do thus? Sir, you know he did not. The people however continued to look to this brazen serpent with devout admiration, until the time of Hezekiah, when the good and judicious king, aware that God had withdrawn his divine presence from this figure, thought proper to remove it from the people, and therefore destroyed it, giving it a most contemptuous title-a trifle of brass. Indeed, all things observed in a religious view, and not acknowledged by the Holy Spirit, are, in my opinion, dead bodies. Let me but see the presence and

power

of my God as the thing signified, in these outward and visible signs, and I will, with every faculty of my soul, advocate their observance. But as they are now made use of, they are hardly the shaclow of a shadow ; and I declare to you, I esteem what is generally called church discipline, to be a species of profanation. Yet, doubtless there are many serious well-disposed persons concerned therein, as there were among the Jews, and as there are among the Roman Catholicks at this day.

But let every one be persuaded in his own mind, we ought not, we cannot judge or determine for others. Shadows are sometimes

VOL. II.

27

pleasant, as they recal the memory of a beloved friend. A picture is acceptable in the absence of an individual endeared to our souls. This do in remembrance of me, will always be properly influential upon the mind of a Christian. The Christian man will eat bread and drink wine in grateful recollection of the character of his Redeemer, and of the immeasurable grace exhibited in the symbolic elements ; but he will receive those emblems as he conceives they were designed by the Redeemer.

On the whole, from a diligent and careful investigation of scripture records, it appears that the divine Being gave his disciples many rules and precepts, to which it is their interest, as well as duty, to attend ; and that as long as his spirit filled the disciples, and'accompanied the things they were commanded to observe, his divine precepts were followed both in letter, and in spirit-but no longer. No doubt God accompanied every regulation he had ordained, as long as he thought proper, and no doubt the end designed was fully answered. But when they were left by the spirit of God, they were assumed by the adversary, who, by his seducing spirit, misleads the soul, and frequently converts the best institutions to the worst of purposes. Witness the trifle of brass, reduced, by the pious monarch, to ashes. When we stop short of the substance, and worship the figure, it is full time such figure was brought to a period.

But many of the precepts of Emmanuel will continue in force, and be accompanied by his presence, until the earth and the visible heavens are no more.

God, in infinite mercy and great goodness, increase the number of faithful observers of these divine precepts; and may my venerable friend continue in the path of that just one which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

I am, with sincerity,
your faithfully affectionate friend and servant.

POSTSCRIPT. In giving the piece of paper pinned to your letter a second perusal, I observe you have made a small mistake relative to the manuscript to which you refer. .

Thus you express yourself, “ But when you speak of partaking the Lord's supper alone, without respect to any other, it appears to

[ocr errors]

destroy that representation of the Lord's body, that is to be discerned in a Christian church."

True, my venerable friend, were I to take this bread, and this wine, without respect to any other, I should certainly not discern the Lord's body. But were I to discern only the objects presented by my bodily eyes, in any single congregation, I should be nearly as far from discerning the Lord's body, as if I were in every sense alone. Rightly to discern the body of our Lord, is to consider him as the Shilo, unto whom is the gathering of the people, of all the people; and whenever, with an eye of faith, I behold the bread and wine, either alone, or associated with my Christian brethren, I discern the body of our Lord, in which I see ibe whole human family collected, and the fulness of Jew and Gentile reconciled in one body on the cross.

The apostles were sent forth, they were commanded to preach the gospel to every creature. This they certainly did, if they preached it at all, even although they had proclaimed it in the presence of a single individual; for whenever, or wherever, or to whomsoever they made a proclamation of the gospel, they proclaimed that abundant grace which bringeth salvation unto all men, thus preaching the gospel, which is the grace of God or glad tidings, to every creature. The Apostle, Colossians ii. 5, expressively says, “ For, although I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ."

When the depths enclosed Jonah, and the weeds were wrapped about his head, he says, “I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came in unto thee in thine holy temple.” Jonah ii. 7.

The just shall live by faith. “Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, ye can have no life in you. He that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life. John vi. 40."

Thus, you see it is impossible to believe on the Son of God, without eating his flesh and drinking his blood.

But a genuine believer may be banished to a desolate Island, where he may have neither bread nor wine, or where he may have both, and no human society, yet, in both cascs, he may be an obedient disciple.

LETTER XXXI.

To the Rev. James Relly, of the city of London, Great Britain,

FAITHFUL FRIEND,

FOR

OR as a faithful friend I inust continue to regard you, although your silence, your long silence, has given birth to a little world of conjectures. I yesterday saw a line from you to Mr. P. and I greatly rejoiced thereat, for I was fearful you were numbered with the dead. There is not in this world a person whom I am so desirous to see, or to hear from, as yourself. O, Sir! if you knew the state I am in, the numbers in this new world to whom I have preached Jesus; the many inveterate adversaries and deceitful friends who have mingled in the train o? my persecutors, while many have received the truth in the love of it, who are indeed of the true circumcision, worshipping God in the beauty of holiness that is in Christ Jesus, and having no confidence in the flesh to whom it is given in behalf of Christ, not only to believe but to suffer for his nanle, if you knew the difficulties I encounter of one kind and of another, the many disagreeable matters to which I submit, rather than injure the cause in which I have embarked, were you capable of forming any just idea of these things, I think you would hasten to my relief, or at least you would embrace every opportunity of strengthening my hands by your invaluable letters.

Pray, dear and honoured Sir, write to me frequently, and condescend to guide me by your counsel.

I have written you, some months past, a long letter; indeed I have often written to you, and I am determined to let no opportunity slip. It is true, I cannot write to please myself, and it would, therefore, be absurd to suppose I could give you pleasure; yet, viewing you as a faithful friend, I do not apprehend your censure,

But, upon what subject shall I write ? Not upon politics; we have nothing to do with politics. Let those whose kingdom is of this world, busy themselves about the things of this world; yet I cannot but acknowledge, I have had a strong propensity to take a part in the general confusion ; but I am at length convinced, that

I have nothing to do with any subject, save Jesus Christ and him crucified; and I have the heartfelt pleasure of seeing the word of my God take deep root downward, and bring forth inuch fruit upward, to the glory of his grace; thus am I soothed by the hope, that I have been the instrument of niuch consolation.

In the place of my present residence, the doctrines of God our Saviour have been openly embraced by the first characters. I pity our enemies upon this occasion, and when I recollect what I was with regard to you and your testimony, I discern the spirit which operates upon their hearts, to be precisely the same as that by which I was actuated. We are accused of publishing damnable doctrines, but with what propriety? Is salvation damnation ? Who will say that it is ? Surely we do not deny that the Lord hath bought the people : nay, we declare that he hath purchased the people with a price, all price beyond : not indeed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with his own precious blood, with that life which he hath given for the world. When I dare to tell the people this incontrovertible, this gospel truth, and attempt to prove it by a variety of corresponding scriptures, which either they have not heard, or hearing have not understood, the indignation which is excited against me is astonishing. No opportunity, either in public or in private, is neglected, of loading me with every epithet which can render both me and my testimony odious to their disciples; the consequence of which is, that I am frequently insulted as I pass the streets ; and I will confess to you, my dear Sir, that I am more hurt by this contumely than I have words to express : I condemn myself for this weakness, nor can I account for it, since it must be obvious that insults of this description, can only be offered by the lowest order of the people.

The severity with which I am reproached, has hitherto been proportioned to my success ; and I am of course, in this town, the object of inveterate hatred. But I arn about to commence a long journey, to visit many towns where I have many, or what is better, where my divine Master hath many friends. I shall proceed from to Philadelphia, passing a day or more where the providence of God may direct my steps. There are places where your writings have been my harbinger; and wherever they have been received, they have been greatly blessed. Were you sensible how many there are, who with their whole emancipated souls, bless the God of their salvation, for the instrument he hath employed to

« AnteriorContinuar »