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excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ, and be found in him!" Acts xxvi. 9. Phil. iii. 8, 9.
Brethren, farewell! I shall have to trouble you but with few more, if any, of my addresses. The hour glass of my life is nearly run out, and the last sand will shortly fall but through grace, my warmest and most earnest prayers, as now, will be then, for the prosperity of the Lord's chosen. Those divine words are in my heart, and will hang on my lips with my latest breath, "Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion; build thou the walls of Jerusalem !" Ps. li. 18.
Your's in Christ,
Plymouth, Sept 19, 1825.
ON THE STATE OF THE CHURCH. A LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF THE GOSPEL MAGAZINE.
A correspondent of your's, under the signature of ' J. R.' and who dates his letter from Shepton Beauchamp, hath made a request to me so personally and with so much courtesy, that, independent of higher motives, I cannot but feel constrained to make answer to it. And though, I confess, it is not congenial to my feelings to notice any of the controversial writings of the present day, yet sometimes there is a needs-be for engagements in things not very pleasurable. I am in a great measure now retired from the bustle of active life, and got into winter quarters: and I am too old, and too much worn out, to enter upon a new campaign. I can, therefore, look on to the several parties that are using the saw of contention on each
other, and say in the words of the prophet, "Behold! is it not of the Lord of Hosts, that the people labour in the very fire; and the people weary themselves for very vanity!" Habak. ii. 13. And what is it but both labour and vanity, the hope to persuade natural, unrenewed men to believe those divine truths, which the Holy Ghost declares can only be "spiritually discerned?" 1 Cor. ii. 14. Moreover, the apostle had it in command to tell the church, that " if any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words: from such withdraw thyself," 1 Tim. vi. 3—5. And add to these, and above all, the infinite resources which the faithful in Christ Jesus have in a throne of grace, when, leaving "the profane and vain babblings of men," they draw nigh to God. Here may be found a requiem from all the contests of the world. While sitting at the feet of Jesus we hear not the clamours of the distant multitude; or, if hearing, regard them not but as the noise in which we have no concern. When we can and do leave all with the Lord, we may "be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving make our requests known unto God; and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus," Phil. iv. 6, 7.
Your correspondent, Mr. Editor, it should seem by the nature of his request, hath taken a more than ordinary alarm at one symptom of disease threatening the church with infection, while overlooking the gangrene, which, by its pestilential effluvia, appears about to pervade the whole body. The professing church, under the cover of what is called evangelical piety, is content with a name to live, while in reality respecting vital godliness is dead before God. Like the church of
Laodicea, as stated by our Lord himself, she saith, "I am rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing; and knoweth not that she is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked," Rev. iii. 17.
I have now on my table before me several curious specimens, in confirmation of the awful state of religion in the present day, all of them sprouting from one and the same root; and, like a polypus, sending out branches to spread in every direction to bring forth a like deadly fruit. There have been such things in every age of the church; but those are peculiarly characteristic of the nineteenth century. One of them hath come forward to public view, and by way of attracting the greater attention, hath assumed the appellation of 'THE CHRISTIAN EVIDENCE SOCIETY.' And it appears from the statement given, that a meeting was to have been held about the middle of the last month, for the discussion of the doctrine of the Resurrection of Christ.' And the secretary of the society, with a modesty peculiarly his own, proposed on this occasion to repeat an oration, which had been delivered by him before; and which, he said, had carried the almost unanimous verdict of a full and respectable assembly that such an event had never happened.'
Another paper is also on my table full of many sugary things, of the capability of raising human nature to a dignified situation in society: for which purpose, an Infantine School is to be established through the land, with the intent of taking very little children, before that they have received any impressions of evil, and by nurturing them in temper and disposition, in their latter lives they may be ripened into every virtue which adorns human nature. Had Pelagius been alive, he would have been an admirable president for this institution; for, as he totally denied original sin, this would have corresponded to the forming the infant
mind, by its purity and pliability to every thing good; and, as Pelagius declared that as mankind are bound to God for nothing by reason of it, all the harm that Adam did was by example;' this early prevention, according to this plan, would have removed at once the effect of imitation. One of the advocates, at the meeting of this society, professed himself a friend to the institution on account of the liberal principles in which it was to be conducted. The conductors (he said) had that day, he understood, given a pledge (here one of them bowed assent) that while the children sent to those schools were to be educated religiously, they should not be taught any particular catechism or creed.' This speech, it is said, was received with great cheerings. 'I anticipate (said another at the meeting) an elevation of the human character and condition solely through these extensive changes.'
But a yet more extraordinary sample of the state of religion in the present day I have on my table, wherein two high in rank in the establishment, fellows of college in one of the universities, have proposed, yea, and contended for the propriety of the measure, that the Apocrypha should be printed in our bibles. They are supported in this decision with the signatures of twenty-four others, Masters of Arts, and most of them possessing benefices in the church. Under the hope of proselyting the world they have asserted, that the bible can never circulate freely over the continent, without this fabulous mixture with the word of God. And thus in human policy they hope to accomplish divine ends; and by inverting the order of things, and in open contradiction to the holy scriptures themselves, they would make man the first mover and God the last.
You have another specimen, Mr. Editor, of the present state of things in religion, in your own Magazine for the last month, in the instance of a Mr. William Brown, a class leader, as he designates himself, of some
society at Manchester. It is impossible to define the line of sanity, or to mark the precise boundary where an aberration from it begins; but with all christian charity, we would hope that some direliction on this man's mind hath given birth to the awful statement which he hath made of himself, and the twenty-seven men and women of the same complexion in the society to which he belongs; for otherwise, he is in the state of the "strong delusions" spoken of by the apostle, 2 Thess. ii. 11. According to the account of himself and them, he hath not committed a single sin in thought, word, or deed for four years.'-Whereas, the Holy Ghost saith by Solomon, that "there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not," Eccles. vii. 20. Mr. Brown adds, 'I am as holy now as God himself.' Whereas the holy scripture statement is, "there is none holy as the Lord, for there is none beside," 1 Sam. ii. 2. 'Christ cannot make intercession for me now,' saith Mr. B. thus contradicting God who declared the priesthood of Christ to be an everlasting priesthood, Ps. cx. 4.
But while these, and many others of a like nature, are among the portentous signs of the present times, your correspondent hath passed them all by in attending to the one on which he founds his request to me, namely, "of the indwelling of God in his saints as he doth in Christ." That Jehovah, in his Trinity of Persons, dwells in his people as they are in Christ, by his gracious divine manifestations otherwise than he doeth to the world, is among the most precious and blessed truths of the gospel; but, that God (if by God be meant the Father) dwells in his people as he does in Christ, is a direct contradiction to the declaration of Christ himself, whose express words are, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me," John xiv. 6. The contrary assertion, of manifestation from or communion with the Father,