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happy subjećts of God’s converting grace. This has been
faith in him, and dependance upon him for righteouf: nefs and strength, can give rest to his labouring and weary foul. True it is, there are fome convinced finners that wear off their religious impressions, and stop fhort of thefe effećłs, which I have now described : but these confequences are always found in all those whose convićtions are abiding and effeếtual. By these they are always necesfitated to fly for refuge to Christ, and to look to him for that life and peace, which they can find no where elfe. You will readily allow that my station puts me under the advantage : a particular acquaintance with the circumftances of distreffed fouls : and having converfed with very many under convićtions, from time to time, I have always found the above observations exaĉtly verified. \How furprifing is the change, made in convinced finners, when a ray of divine light fhines into their fouls ; and enables them to aćt faith in Christ, and to behold the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ / Now thefe mourners in Zion have appointed unto them beauty for afbes, the oyl of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heavine/, that they may be called trees of righteoufneß. From this time, they become indeed new creatures, in all spiritual refpećts. Their difcovery of the excellency and fufficiency of Christ, whereby they were enabled chearfully to truft their eternal interests in his hands, proves a continued fource of love to God and man, and a principle that constantly inclines them to live foberly, righteou/y, and godly in this present world. We fee this experimentally true, as the fcriptures represent it, that their faith works by love, purifies their hearts, and overcomes the world. There are indeed fome hypocritical pretenders to faith in Christ, in whom we do not find thefe fruits and effećts of it: but then there are (thro' the goodnefs of God) numbers of others, the tenor of whose future lives does fully evidence, that their faith is fincere; and that it produces all the effects which the fcriptures afcribe to it. . There is no room to impute this work to the irregular fallies of an over-heated imagination, when we fee a tho
rough and lating change both of heart and life. There - F 3 - |is no room to fuppofe, that enthufiafm or fanaticism can have any hand in this change, when we fee the blefiedeffećts of faith in Christ every way anfwer the defcription given thereof in the gofpel; and when the believer vifibly and in reality is become a new man, from the time of his receiving and relying upon the Lord Jefus Christ, for righteoufness and frength. . And as bad as the times are, as ftupid and unbelieving as the world in general appears, we have yet repeated examples of the blefsed effećts of faith, which I have now defcribed; and of the verification of that precious truth, that to as many as receive the Lord 7efus Christ, to them is given power to become the children of God, even #o them who believe in his name. And now, Sir, if you'll review what has been faid, don’t it evidently appear, that he who believeth on the Son of God, hath the witnefs in himfelf, when he finds the fame change of heart, the fame fpiritual conflicts, the fame joy, peace, and comfort of foul, and all thefe wrought in the very fame way and method, which the fcriptures fo plainly and particularly defcribe? Can I doubt of the skill of that phyfician, or the efficacy of that medicine, whereby I am recovered from a dangerous difeafe, to health and comfort, exaćtly in the fame method, and by the fame fensible and progreffive steps,as was foretold me ? And is not this truth made most clearly evident, not only to the perfons themfelves, but to all diligent obfervers, when they find the fame experiences reported by all true believers in Chrift, and all the fame external and vifible effećts of their faith, conspicuous and open to every one’s obfervation, not in one or two inflances only, but in thousands of thofe who profefs to have had thefe experiences ? As we muft necessarily acknowledge the ikill of that phyfician, who effećtually eures all that fubmit to his direćtions and applications : fo are we conítrained to acknowledge him for our Saviour, who in the very fame way and manner, which he has proposed and promifed, does astually and effectually fave all those wha believe in him, and in the way of his appointments truft to him for falvation. In my former letters, I have laid before you fome af the external evidences of Christianity : in this I have given you a very brief sketch of thofe internal evidences, which ferve to confirm and illuftrate the fame important cause. By the former, the truth of the Christian religion is laid open to the understanding: by the latter it is made matter of fenfible experience in the heart. That the glorious redeemer may enable you to feel the force of this reafoning to your unfpeakable comfort here, and happiness hereafter, is the prayer of, II's Yours, ở c.
LETTER VI. Wherein fome Objections against the INTERNAL. EvIDENces of CHRIsTIANITY are considered and answered.
Do not wonder to find you prejudiced against ‘ the o extravagant claim to extraordinary experiences in * religion, lately made by fome who are evidently under * enthufiastick heats and delusions.’ But I cannot fee any force at all in your reafoning, that, “ becaufe there * are many eminent professors of late, who really have nothing in them but heat and fhew, and yet make as high pretenfions to the divine influences, and to fpecial experience of the operations of the Spirit of God in their hearts, as any others can do: therefore all pretences of that kind may juftly be fufpećted to flow from the fame caufe, and to be the offspring of a like irregular fancy and imagination.” Do you indeed think it juft arguing, becaufe fome men make vain and falle fhews of what they really are not, that therefore all other professors of religion are hypocrites, as well as they ? Will it follow, becaufe fome men pretend to literature which they have not, that therefore there are no men of learning in the world ? Your difcovery of falfe pretenders to religious experiences, does indeed give you juft teafon to presume, that fome others may, but no reafon to conclude, that all o. thers mist, in the fame manner impose upon the world,
by mere delufive appearances. If you have discovered any to be falfe and deceitful, in their profeffion of religious experiences, it must be becaufe you fee fomething in their condućt, which contradićts their profeffion. But what reafon does this give you, to fufpe&t thofe in whofe condućt you fee nothing which contradićts their profeffion. If you have reafon to conclude the hypocrify of the former fort from the evidences which appear against them; you have alfo reafon to conclude the fincerity of the latter fort, from the evidences which appear in their favour, and which testify the reality of the change they profefs. If you have ground to fufpećł the careless, the loofe, the fensual profeffor, because he is fuch : by the fame way of reafoning, you have ground to conclude in favour of the ferious, the watchful, and mortified profeffor of religion, becaufe he is fuch. If the licentious and prophane, the fraudulent and unjuft, the cenforious and uncharitable, the defpifers and calumniators of their brethren, are thereforeto be fufpe&ted of a falfe pretence to the divine influences : by the fame argument, they who are fo changed as to become remarkably holy and righteous, meek and humble, charitable, benevolent, and beneficent, have a just claim to be esteemed fincere, and to be credited in their profession of religious experiences. There are (through the mercy of God) numbers of fuch yet among us, all of whom have this change in its vifible effećt obvious to the world : and though fome of them may be doubtful of their own ftate, yet al! of thern declare that they have received all their attainments from the Lord Jefus Christ ; they have looked to him, and depended upon him for themall; and have always found, that their progrefs in piety towards God, and injustice, kindness, and charity towards men, has borne proportion to their chearful dependance, upon Christ for righteoufness and strength. If fome men are liars, yet others are credible, and may be trusted, especially when they give us undoubted evidençês of their truth and fidelity. Even fo in the present cafe, if fome men are hypocrites, and evidence themfelvesto be fuch, we have no reafon from thence to fufpećt the truth of oers profession and experiences, whose wonderfulgbange