« AnteriorContinuar »
As it regards him that is quickened, renewed in the spirit of his mind, old things pass away, and all things become new: new principles, new desires, new pleasures, new ends. The work is God's. The whole plan of redemption is his, from first to last. It is clearly revealed in Scripture, and there is no dispute among Christians concerning it. The fall of man, his corruption and depravity, his state under the curse of a broken covenant, and his exposure to eternal misery, his helplessness, and total inability to return to God, his ignorance of his situation-" dead in trespasses and sins, without God, and without hope in the world:" these are affecting subjects, but there is good news proclaimed, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to become the surety of lost sinners." He took our nature upon him, our sins upon him, our duties upon him ; he was placed in our room and stead: he sustained the penalty of the broken law; fulfilled its utmost demands; "redeemed" us; gave us a new covenant, of which himself is the Surety and there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. The merits of Christ, exclusively of any thing of ours, are the sole foundation of our hope. Christ is set forth in Scripture, as the Atonement, the Propitiation for sins, the one Sacrifice for sin; Christ is the End of the law for righteousness: all is made ours by free gift. 1 John v. 11. All is ready: justice satisfied, God reconciled, peace proclaimed. But what is all this to a thoughtless world, insensible of their situation, danger, and need? It is an awful saying, but it is of the Holy Ghost
-"If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world hath blinded their minds, and darkened their understandings, and hardened their hearts." Therefore the application of this grace is also of God: it is all within his plan. He has appointed means, and com
manded our diligence in the use of them. We have his Bible in our hands: and his ministers in our churches, who are also pastors and teachers, if we apply for their aid in private we have a throne of grace to go to, and many great and precious promises held up in God's word for us to embrace and plead for Christ's sake: we have many prayers in the Scriptures, which we may adopt with the confidence of being heard.
I acknowledge that we are still dependant for the effect: that must be from God himself. But he honours his own ordinances. He puts forth his power, and convinces of sin: this is his first work; the soul is awakened, aroused, convinced of sin and misery; sins of the heart, sins of the tongue, sins of the life, press upon the conscience, which never disturbed before-mis-spent time, wasted talents, lost opportunities, neglect of God's word and ordinances, so that the soul cannot rest. O, my Juliet, this is a hopeful case. I hope you have experienced something of it. It is one of the surest marks of the operation of the Spirit of God, and a prelude to the new birth. It never takes place without it; for "the whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." Only the weary and heavy laden will prize rest; and Christ is the rest they need; only a convinced sinner will or can prize the Saviour; and now the Lord opens his mind to understand the Scriptures! He sees the provision which God has made for ruined sinners, by sending a Substitute to stand in his room: he perceives how God can be just, and yet justify the sinner who takes shelter in Jesus; he falls in with God's gracious plan; receives the Lord Jesus as God's gift to sinners; trusts entirely in his merit for pardon, peace, reconciliation, and eternal life; resigns his soul into the hands of his Saviour, in the faith that he will save it; and devotes him
self unreservedly to his service, in the faith that he will give him grace to live to him in all holy obedience. Now, and not till now, according to God's promise, he receives power to become his child: this is God's order. John i. 12. Now he receives life, and begins to live; but there is yet a great work before him. It has pleased God, in his plan, to finish at once a justifying righteousness; it is his own work, and was finished in that awful hour when he announced it as his last words on the cross. John xix. 31. To this nothing of ours is to be added-with this nothing of ours mixt; it is for ever perfect-it is God's gift, made ours by imputation in the hour when we first "believe, receive it, and rest our souls upon it." But it has not pleased God, in this plan, to deliver the believer at once from in-dwelling sin. This is the subject of the Christian “warfare," the "race," the "good fight." Now the believer receives life, and is called to work: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do." All the promises in this blessed Bible are his-they are Yea and Amen in Christ; Christ himself is his; his spirit dwells in him. The believer is united to Jesus by as real a union as the branch to the vine, the members to the head, the building to the foundation. Yet sin dwells in him, and is to be subdued by constant applications to Christ in prayer -by means of watching, striving, fighting; fighting under his banners. In his blessed word we are informed where our strength lies, what are our weapons, what our armour. But what can I say on these subjects? The whole word of God is on the subject of redemption; to this refer the whole labours of Christ's ministers, and the whole dispensation of God's providence. Are these things so? My Juliet, this is not the doctrine of any one church. About
these subjects there is no dispute; Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Baptists, Independents, all agree in these great things. And are these things so indeed? O, my Juliet, where is the time to be spared for plays, assemblies, and such numerous idle parties of various descriptions? I must stop the subject is great, and we have many excellent treatises on the various parts of it, written by able pious men. It would be improper to crowd it thus into a letter, unless to instigate to further investigation.
Farewell! I ever am, my dear Juliet, yours affectionately,
TO MISS VAN WYCK, NEW YORK.
My dear, my beloved Eliza,
Mr. and Mrs. B. are here on a visit for one night. I did not expect to see them so soon, or I would have had a letter ready. I expect another opportunity in the course of a few days, when I will send you a long letter, from my heart; and, I hope, dictated by your and my Teacher.
I learn, by my children, that you continue much in the same way in which I left you. It is your own God who mixes your cup, and it is to you a cup of blessing; there is no curse in it. Your Jesus drank that cup to the very dregs, that bitter as well as sweet might be to you a cup of blessing. O, then, my darling, hold fast by your Redeemer. He is the Lord your Righteousness, and the Lord your Strength. He connects your profit with his
own glory. You shall in this protracted affliction manifest it, and hold out the word of life to those around you.* You shall witness for him, that He is the Lord, and besides him there is no Saviour-that "he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them in his bosom," that he is to them " a Hiding-place from the wind, and a Covert from the tempest,❞—as "rivers of water in a dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land;" that it is he that teaches them to profit, and leads them by the way that they should go; and that in due time he will perfect all that concerns them. Farewell!
Yours with affection,
TO THE SAME.
Rockaway, Sabbath, 1810.
My dear, my beloved Eliza,
I WROTE you a few lines yesterday by Mr. B. I now propose to fulfil my promise. I expect an opportunity tomorrow, or next day, for I saw a great many carriages pass this way to the tavern, as I suppose from New York. It is a common thing with some to come hither on Saturday, and return on Monday, to spend this blessed day in pastime. You would not, I know, exchange situations with them; you would rather be suffering than sinning.
* This prediction was remarkably fulfilled in the experience of this dear young saint; an interesting account of whose illness and death has been published in the Christian's Magazine.