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originated in my mind the foregoing reflections. What may be the effect of my letter, I cannot say; one thing I know, we are brethren; we have one hope for ourselves; we have but one foundation; we are both builders, I trust, with the same materials; we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus; we preach the gospel.
But are our views of this gospel the same? Do we preach it to the same characters? Do we preach it at the same time? So short was my stay with you, while your visiting friend, that I had no opportunity of hearing you; I regret this circumstance. You heard me repeatedly, and in hearing me, you saw my heart; but you have since heard of me, and you compare the accounts you have heard of me, with what you have heard from me, and they do not correspond; neither did the accounts propagated of our fellowlabourer, (whose example I greatly admire, and from whose doctrines I think I have never deviated) correspond with his preaching or his writings. I am charged with heresy, so was he; and by the same characters, and for the same reasons. It was said that he taught men to do evil; even a fellow-labourer treated him unkindly, and in the presence of the Jews. Numbers who once believed the gospel he preached, turned away from him. He was abused by Jews, by Greeks, and by Christians, yet none of these things moved him; his soul was firm, for he was kept by the power of God. No man, of whom I have ever heard, since the days of this great Apostle, was ever more calumniated than myself; yet with him I am ready to own, that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing; that whatsoever I have received, I have received not by the will of the Aesh, nor by the will of man, but by the will of God: I can also say with Paul, I have laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but Christ Jesus who hath strengthened me.
I compare this greatly distinguished servant of our divine Master, who, I am free to own, hath left me a great way behind him, to such who are called preachers of the gospel in our day; they are as little like the man of Tarsus, as Calvin, Arminious, Doctor Gill, or Mr. Westley, from whom they generally take their principles, are like the teacher, who taught the Apostle to the Gentiles. Yet Paul was willing to become all things to all men, that he may win them to Christ; but nothing, I presume, to any man, that he did not think would have a tendency to win them to the
Redeemer. Sometimes, once at least, he went too far, when he purified himself and went into the temple.
There were, you know, many of the Jews who believed, and yet were advocates for the law; and the Apostle James observed to his brother Paul, that it was every where said of him, that he taught men to forsake the law of Moses, and the traditions of the Fathers. Such were the reports propagated of the Apostle Paul, and his reasons for preaching the gospel; and I am persuaded, in every age and in every place, every one found preaching the gospel, the same gospel, will fall under the same odium.
A doctrine may be preached under the name of the gospel, that will not subject the preachers thereof to reproach.
The Apostle himself speaks of another gospel, of which we have an account in the Acts, and there is in this our day another gospel. The first and genuine gospel was given by our divine Master to his apostles, and was fully expressed in the ministry of reconciliation. This gospel was not confounded with the law. Moses and Christ were not united in this gospel. The second gospel is a compound of law and gospel, where believe and be saved is tantamount to do this and live; here is only the Jews and Christians, or Moses and Christ. But there is yet another gospel, which may be called a third gospel, and this third gospel is generally adopted by the christian world. It is a compound of the Mosaic, Christian, and Heathen doctrines. It is a compound of law, philosophy, and christianity; but the last is the smallest ingredient in the composition; it may be considered nothing more than a garnish. In the midst of such a falling off, what are we to do? The sacred oracles of God still remain with us, to them we should do well at all times to apply; they are a light to our feet, and a lantern to our paths. But if the God of this world hath blinded our minds, of what use will be the light? Blessed, therefore, are the people who are enabled to see the salvation of God.
I have some time since written to you upon these important subjects, and ere this my letter may be before you-and in addition to that letter I will hazard the following queries:
What are we to understand by the law?
What are we to understand by the gospel?
Is it the duty of ministers of the gospel to preach the law? And to whom, and when?
Can it be a duty to believe the gospel?
Is it possible to believe it until it be known?
When it is known, is it possible to disbelieve it?
Does the belief of the gospel necessarily include obedience? Does it as necessarily preclude disobedience?
If so, why do the epistles abound with so many reproofs and exhortations?
Is God the author of every good gift?
Are faith and works both good gifts?
Can one or the other come from any but the Father of light?
Does not God know this, and can he expect these qualities where he has not given them? or if he did, would he not be disappointed? and if disappointed, would not this prove imperfection?
Can he avoid finding faith and works where he has given them? Is the punishment attendant upon disobedience, of the nature of Christ's sufferings?
Does the declaration respecting the rewarding every man according to his works, apply to believers as well as to unbelievers? Can our everlasting Father have any purpose in the sufferings of the children of men, except their reformation?
If reformation be his purpose, will it not be answered?
If any be reprobated, consigned over to everlasting death by divine appointment, could they have any interest in Christ or his atoning blood?
If they have not, ought they to believe they have?
If they should believe they had an interest in the Redeemer, would they not believe a lie?
Could believing a lie save them?
Are not those who are elected to everlasting life interested in the atonement?
Can they lose their interest by unbelief?
Yet, was there not a time they did not believe? and were they not then damned?
Can any who are elected die in unbelief? and if they do, do they not die in their sins? and does not their Saviour then say to them, as he said to the Jews, Where I am ye cannot come ?
But are not some infants elected, and do not all infants who die in the cradle, leave the world in unbelief?
Is not unbelief and damnation, strictly speaking, to be consid ered as cause and effect?
Is not belief and salvation also a cause and effect?
Can we, by belief, pass from a state of damnation to a state of salvation?
And can we not by unbelief pass from a state of salvation to a state of damnation ?
But can unbelief continue longer than until the day of the Lord? I will proceed no further in the language of interrogation; I well know that it is much easier to ask than to answer questions. May the spirit of God lead us into all truth.-Farewell.
To the same.
I WILL not attempt to give you any idea of my feelings on the receipt of your letter; I conclude, however, that your own heart will describe to you what must have been my sensations. I bless God for this mode of holding converse with you; since I can have no other, this is a blessed substitute, and I am truly grateful.
I am glad my letters have reached you; they have told you the truth, when they told you that I was thankful to my Father, and to those of his children whom he was pleased to make use of, to slope for me the downhill path of life. You still remain to contribute to my happiness, and I indulge a hope, you will continue in this distempered state as long as I shall abide on this globe. This, however, is no evidence of my affection for you, but it is an evidence my affection for myself, and for your dear connexions.
Yet, I cannot forbear rejoicing, when I reflect that yet a very little season, and we shall be placed together in our Father's house. Eternal praises be to him who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we may live together with him.
We shall live because he died; we shall live together, not separate from each other; we shall live together with him who loved us, and gave himself for us. Transporting thought! how delight
ful the sensations attendant thereon! I do assure you, my friend, that frequently when reflecting upon a future state, and the society I am to meet in that state, I am impatient to be gone; I frequently loathe the present life. I would not live always. But it is good that we both hope, and quietly wait for the salvation of God.
It is truc, and I should be most ungrateful if I denied it, that no individual of Adam's race can be more indebted to the Creator of men, than I myself am. His goodness to me hath indeed been incalculable; but I am tormented with the plague of my own heart; and I long to put off this house of my earthly tabernacle, not that I wish. to be unclothed, but clothed upon with my house which is from heaven. It is now an old house, a "tenement battered and decayed. But it lets in new light through chinks which time has made."
I have a letter from our mutual friend H. this afflicted man is another witness to prove that opulence and felicity do not always grow upon the same stem. I am happy in the assurance that he is still your friend, and that he retains his attachment to me. I still see my Cornwall friends as I saw them when in England, and they exhibit a pleasing view. I shall retain this view of them, until I meet them on the farther shore, when they will appear still more pleasing. But is it not strange that among my numerous Cornwall friends, you and Mr. H. are my only correspondents? Well, if so the Saviour wills, it is so best.
I feel sensibly for you, upon the loss of your lovely daughter. But how irrational to mourn when a daughter is rescued from peril; when she is snatched from the snares too often laid for innocence; when she is snatched from earth to heaven. I am astonished at myself when my little girl is sick, to find that I am absolutely afraid she is going to heaven; thus doth self predominate even in the bosom of a father! I yesterday witnessed a scene of heart-rending sorrow-the only daughter of a widowed lady; I never saw a greater treasure; the young lady had nearly completed her twenty-first year; a lingering decay was her passport to blessedness; she suffered much, but her faith and patience surpassed her sufferings! Her sorrowing mother was most blest, and will be again, for she will meet her child where pain and separation shall no more afflict; and when she comes to the period of her journey, she will rejoice that a daughter waits to greet her welcome to her native skies.