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Thirdly, I would cultivate an unceasing solicitude relative to my own conduct, endeavouring by every action of my life, to give an example of the lessons which I would constantly deliver: I would avoid, as much as possible, that trifling levity of character, which ranks the Christian with the buffoon; and I would lead the people, wherever I may be, to the throne of their heavenly Father. It is of incalculable advantage to the soul, to hold communion with God in prayer.
There never was a child of God under the influence of the Spirit's teaching, who did not hold communion with God in prayer: and much, very much, both negatively and positively is gained thereby. A Christian without prayer is like a body without a soul. Sin is called the plague of the heart ; Jesus is called the physician of value; the sick need a physician; and is not such a physician as the world's Saviour worth inquiring after?
How glorious soever that truth which assures us, Jesus put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, we know this truth is the truth as it is in Jesus. In us, in our individual selves, we still find the plague of the heart so prevalent, that when we would do good, evil is present with us; and it is our interest to cry to God continually, to save us from this evil.
We have been too inattentive to these things, and I tremble lest this lax and careless conduct should arrest the progress of truth. Let me then recommend to you, my brother, (and I do it with the greatest sincerity,) to hold constant communion with your God in prayer; in private, in your family, in every family where you may occasionally sojourn, and let them know you do not thus conduct in conformity to custom, but from an expectation of the advantages to be derived therefrom. Let it not be said, that the Methodists take delight in addressing their God in prayer, but the Universalists do not. God knows there is no religious sect that hath so much need of prayer; there is none that hath so many opposers, and our sense of obligation to him who is the only wise God our Saviour, is, or ought to be, greater than that of any other description among mankind.
It is said, the prayer of the righteous man availeth much in the sight of the Lord; and because there is but one who is perfectly righteous, it is therefore thought by some, that only this one perfect character ought to pray. Why then do preachers pray in their pulpits? But so far is this mode of reasoning from being
conclusive against prayer, that it furnishes the strongest argument for prayer. But in prayer we are admonished to ask in the name of the Redeemer, to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, to stand in the name and character of our elder brother. Sir, I would endeavour by all means to encourage a spirit of prayer among my hearers and friends. Praying, said a devout spirit, will oblige us to leave sinning, and sinning will oblige us to leave praying. For God's sake, for your own sake, for the sake of the people among whom you labour, for the sake of your little family, be instant in prayer; and let me, I entreat you, obtain an interest in your prayers. Let your orisons ascend unto the Father, our Emmanuel, in my behalf, that God would enable me both by precept and example, to be useful in my day, and more so in the evening than in the morning of my life.
I pray God to be with you when you associate with your brethren; I pray that you may pass your time with pleasure and profit, and may the hearts of your hearers be affected. Enforce, I again beseech you, the necessity of supplicating, of continually supplicating the Father of mercies. May you be drawn together by ardent sincerity, may religion be the business of your lives, and may you find your Saviour ever with you.
For me, I trust I shall soon have my discharge from this world of pain, of sin, and of sorrow; and my last prayer to almighty God shall be, that they who may come after me, may be careful to add to their faith, virtue, adorning in all things the doctrine of God our Saviour-Farewell.
Your obliging favour is in my hand ; what would I not give to have you at this moment seated at my elbow. In such circumstances, I could a tale unfold, which, or I am greatly mistaken
in your character, would make you keenly feel. You expressed great pleasure on seeing me at Convention. I believe you are my friend; I believe you are a friend to the family of man; and I think that I myself am attached to my species; and I am right happy whenever my Saviour gives me an opportunity of contributing to the welfare of any human being.
My purpose in meeting with the Convention was to impart unto my fellow-men some spiritual gift, such as, through the sacred oracles, I have received of the Lord. I was pleased with the attention bestowed upon me by my brethren, and yet I will confess, my pleasure was not unmixed. But from an individual, a Mr. —-, then received into our brotherhood and fellowship, I have since suffered much. Visiting Boston, he associated with many of my friends; some were made unhappy, and many strange reports reached my ears; he addressed me by letter, and in a manner strongly resembling insult. I sought him out, took him home with me to dinner, after which, we retired into my study, when, conversing with him as one friend converseth with another, I informed him I had been told he believed the first Adam was Christ Jesus, with the same breath assuring him, that I did not admit the truth of the report, that I regarded it as a calumny of the same description of those with which I myself had been so frequently tortured. Certainly, my dear Sir, I added, we have only to read i Cor. xv. 46, 47, to determine this matter.
“ Howbeit, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterwards that which is spiritual.
“ The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.”
Sir, I have affirmed this report concerning you cannot be true.
“ But I really did say, and I really do think, however it may affect you, that the first Adam was Jesus Christ. I call no man master, Sir, one is my master, who is in heaven.”
I was going to give you our conversation, but I have neither leisure nor patience. I mentioned to him the scape goat; two goats were selected, one for the Lord, and the other for the devil, or Azazel, literally translated devil. These were exhibited as types, the one of the Lord, and the other of the adversary. The goat, on which the Lord's lot fell, was made a sacrifice for sin, this is strikingly figurative of the Redeemer; but after the sacrifice, after the atonement, the sins of the people were separated from them, and
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restored to him, from whom those sins originated, to the scape goat, to Azazel or the devil, after which ceremony, this scape goat was sent into a land of forgetfulness, into the wilderness, whence he was not to return, thus being rendered an expressive type of the adversary.
He assured me his views were totally dissimilar, that his opinions were the reverse, he did not believe there was any such being as the devil, and that, therefore, of course, all evil originating from God, this immaculate Being inust assuredly be the only sinner in the universe ! ! God was the sinning Adam, and it seems he made a mistake when he said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this thou art cursed. Horrible! inost horrible! what heart is not appalled at such blasphemy! this bewildered man asserted, that as I made the scape goat a figure of the devil, he should in future declare, that I supposed the devil the Saviour of the world! !! I was thunderstruck; every faculty of my soul was agonized. Sir, had he taken a pistol from his pocket, threatening to blow my brains out, if I did not deliver my purse, I should not have been more surprised, more completely terrified. I censured myself for conversing with him without witnesses; you can have no idea of the anguish of my soul upon this occasion !!
Permit me, Sir, to ask, and I entreat, I beseech you to answer me, do the associated preachers of Universalism adopt such principles as this gentleman avows? Do they really affirm there is no devil, and of course no works of the devil? What then did the Redeemer descend from the highest heavens to destroy? Doth not the sacred text declare that Christ Jesus was manifested to abolish death, and him who had the power of death, that is, the devil? But if there be no fallen angels, then all evil, moral and natural, originates from God! and there can be but one sinner in the creation, but one sinner in the aniverse; or there never was any sin, any transgression! What then becomes of the Bible? My soul sickens, and my limbs tremble, while penning such impious, such profane conclusions, as are inevitably involved in such God-dishonouring principles. Once more I pray you tell me whether all your associated preachers thus think, thus speak? or if happily there be exceptions, for the love of heaven, name them to me; I am pierced to the soul. Hasten to me your answer; hasten your presence, and accept lodgings in the house of your friend and brother.-Farewell.
To Mr. M. of Pennsylvania.
MY GREATLY VALUED FRIEND,
You have received so kindly the feeble efforts made in my last letter, that almost in the moment after perusing your responses, I am seated for the purpose of replying.
I am, my much loved friend, exceedingly pleased to learn that the assurance of the affection of my whole self is so pleasing to you; in this communication I read an assurance of your affection for us, which is to each of us a source of much satisfaction.
I hardly ever recur to my friend M. without pleasure mingled with pain. Pleasure, that we have at last met as friends, and pain, that our meeting in this character has been so long delayed. However, we will not look backward with regret, but forward with pleasing hope.
Our mutual friends in your city have given you a pleasing account of our journey, but should I ever live to see you again, you shall have a more pleasing, because a more circumstantial account, in a series of letters penned by our mutual friend to her parents, while on her journey. I am happy that the account you received was delivered with warmth of affection, both to her and to me, and that I can trace this affection to its source, the invigorating fire of divine love. This fire of divine love may be removed, but it can never be extinguished; and it is no doubt of the same quality with that fire which shall burn as an oven, until every particle of the chaff of God's harvest shall be consumed.
Well, therefore, do you observe, that “this prepared day of the Lord is a day, in the which, all who know the Lord may
with propriety rejoice, and make melody.” Yes, I am well persuaded that the day of vengeance of our God will not close, before all that mourn are comforted. Isaiah Ixi. 2.
I thank you for your consoling observations on the affection of my brethren ; such reflections are worthy of the friend, and of the Christian ; they give pleasure, and they lead to peace. We ought