« AnteriorContinuar »
foolish virgins were those who believed, and those who did not; and the only thing in which they differed, was the one having oil in their lamps, and the others being destitute. Now, we know, oil in a lamp is as a candle to a candlestick; it is light. The Jews were virgins belonging to the same Father; the foolish virgins made a part of the kingdom of heaven, and these foolish virgins once had oil in their lamps, but their lamps were gone out, they were shut up in darkness, while, by the word of salvation sent to them, the Gentiles were enlightened, and they entered into rest by believing.
Again, The Jews sought after righteousness, but they obtained it not; because they sought it, as it were, by the works of the law. They sought admission by personal obedience. We ate and drank in thy presence, (alluding to their temple worship,) and in thy name did many wonderful works. Mind, they spake of themselves as doing these wonderful works. But our Saviour, having before testified of them that their works were evil, could not now acknowledge them in the characters of well doing, deserving claimants; as such meritorious characters, he knew them not; and, therefore, he says, Depart from me, I know ye not, ye are workers of iniquity. In this state of darkness, and consequent fear and torment, these Jews are doomed to remain until the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob, and so all Israel shall be saved. All then that these passages contain respect time. In eternity there can be no darkness, for the tabernacle of God shall be with men; and every eye shall see, and the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
But after all, secret things belong to God; and things revealed, to us and to our children. It is revealed to us, that we have sinned, that the wages of sin is death, that Jesus suffered this death once for all, and that by his submitting to this death, we are, every one of us, redeemed therefrom; that the gift of God is everlasting life; that in this world we shall have tribulation, but that in him we shall have peace; that Jesus was manifested to take away our sin, and that he shall thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into his garner, burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire; that is, in other words, he is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, beside which, nothing more is necessary to render every creature completely happy.
These are the true sayings of God. Let us then look unto the Lord, and learn of Abraham, not to stagger at the promises through unbelief; but judging him faithful who hath promised, let the strength of our faith render glory unto him who is worthy; and, permit me to observe, this is the most effectual method of serving God; for this is the work of God, that you believe in him, whom he hath sent. They cannot be said to serve God, who are by unbelief continually making him a liar. Mankind are very much deceived respecting the service of God; they often conceit they are serving God, when they are merely promoting themselves; indeed, some are so much deceived as to believe they are serving God, when they are, and in the most essential manner, serving the adversary. Our Saviour informed his disciples, that some should imagine they did God service by committing murder! They shall think they do God service in killing you. The service of God is perfect freedom; his ways are ways of pleasantness, and all his paths are peace. Take, said the blessed Redeemer, my yoke upon you, for it is easy, and my burden, for it is light.
I am now, I bless God, as well as I have any reason to think I ever shall be. I suffer some pain, and some pain I shall, no doubt, continue to suffer, until I am admitted an inhabitant that country, where the inhabitants never say, I am sick; and in the streets of which, there is no complaining. There, I am assured, I shall meet my kindred and friends, not from any distinguishing merit in them, but for his sake in whom I am, with sincere affection, yours, &c. &c.
To Mr. P. of J.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I Aм now on my passage to N. P. I could wish I had commenced my journey earlier in the season; you see I have not yet done wishing. Yet I believe the way of man is not in himself, and that God's works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powVOL. II.
erful, preserving and governing, all his creatures, and all their actions. How true it is that we believe but in part, and what a small part of what we profess to believe, do we in reality believe. Often, too often, do I perform the part proper only to the infidel, inconsistently murmuring at his ways which my faith acknowledgeth perfect; and yet for this I am not arraigned by my fellow men, nor doth reflection upon this evil fill my own bosom with so much sorrow as crimes of an inferior nature. From whence proceeds the great sin of unbelief? Is it, that the plague of the heart is epedemical, and that all mankind being more or less infidels, we instinctively hesitate at condemning what is so prevalent, not only in our own bosoms, but universally in every mind?
Assuredly infidelity of any description is more reprehensible in me, than in any individual of whom I have any knowledge. I, who have repeated proofs of the truth of sacred testimonies, and who, for the establishment of others, am so often called to dwell upon the perfect arrangements of my God, how dreadful that a doubt of his goodness, even in the midst of calamity, should ever assail my heart. But why should I not doubt? Are any more undeserving than myself? Worse and worse, undeserving indeed! Good God, what has my deserts to do with the matter in question? What has merit to do with faith? How dare we look to ourselves,when we talk of believing? Of believing on that Jesus, who saveth his people from their sins, who is the Saviour of sinners; in that God who says, Be it known unto you, not for your sakes do I do this, but for my own name sake? Surely, surely, there is no cause for doubting, until that name fails whereby we are called. And how great is the magnitude of that name- -It is a name which is above every name; it is a name which includes every name; that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, whether they be things in heaven, or things on earth, or things under the earth. It is in him we live, move, and have our being. Shall I have my being in God here, and hell hereafter? Is not a being in God connected with safety? Can I have a being in God at one time, and not at another? Will not whatever is now included in himself, always be included in himself? Else, how is he the same yesterday, to-day, and forever? Let us then look to him, and not to ourselves-Did I say not to ourselves? O, yes, let us look to ourselves likewise, that we may be thus able to form some idea of the magnitude of that mercy, to which we are indebted for every good we at present
enjoy; and through which, we are encouraged to hope, in future worlds, a state of never-ending felicity. In this blissful state, I humbly trust you will meet and recognize your ever grateful, ever affectionate, &c. &c.
To Mr. S. of N--.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
It is long since I have heard from any one in your city, even from you; and yet, I am told you are my friend; nay, I do not doubt this information, for, verily, you must be a friend to every individual whom you suppose the Redeemer hath sent forth, to proclaim his grace to the children of men. I rejoiced much to see our friend R.; he did us the favour to preach for us; he is an honest soul, and we all love him. But so long has he dwelt among those, who are, as yet, unacquainted with God, as manifested in the flesh, that although this God, in his abundant mercy, hath at length manifested himself to his soul, he can yet hardly speak the language of heaven. If he could conceive more readily, and utter himself with less rapidity, he would be abundantly more useful. But his own soul is greatly refreshed, and whenever he can get the better of himself, in word as well as in deed, he will be better calculated to hold forth the words of life.
He informs me, you still preserve your place; but you will lose that, or something better. Ah, my friend, all the disciples of Christ are under the sentence of death, from the moment they commence his followers, and they must assuredly lose their lives, or their title: nor will they ever find that life they cannot lose, until they lose their own lives.
I have long since lost my life, and my enemies have done their worst. But, thanks be to God, I have found a better life, an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off forever. My kind regards to your family and friends. I shall always be your affectionate servant and friend.-Farewell.
I THANK you for the subscriptions you have procured; they are not as many as I could wish, but they are more than I expected. To reprint the union, would assuredly give me much pleasure; but I am fearful a sufficient number of subscribers will not be obtained; my endeavours, however, shall not be wanting.
It is very pleasing to me to learn, that I am often mentioned in such a eircle, and with so much affection. I hope I shall not be disappointed respecting the pleasure I expect in visiting such worthy friends, in the course of the ensuing autumn.
You condescend to request my sentiments on a few points; I can hardly think it possible the request can proceed from your own desire of information, especially as you do me the justice to believe I am an honest man; and you have repeatedly heard me deliver my sentiments on these very points; as a man of sense, you must have comprehended me; and your opinion of me, will not permit you to believe I should vary in my testimony.
However, as you have added the request of some friends, who, you say, are to be gratified by my answers given in writing, I will, according to the best of my ability, prepare myself for full, free, and unqualified obedience.
First, I believe Christ Jesus is the complete Saviour of all men; that by the grace of God, he tasted death for every man; that he gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time; that it is the will of God that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth; that God willeth not the death of a sinner, and that, therefore, he sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world, to be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; that he was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses; but when all like sheep went astray, every one to his own way, the Lord laid on Jesus the in