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could give-but-but-no matter we shall learn much more by and by.
In the present scene, the ways of our God are in the great deep; he dwelleth in the thick darkness. Who by searching can find him out? Yet he doeth all things well. Hereafter, it my be we shall know the why, and the wherefore.
It may be foolishness in the extreme, to suppose business and christianity incompatible; and it is not wonderful to find you glorying in the capability of deriving your own support from your own industry. What can be so pleasing to a proud or a pious mind, as to have something we can strictly speaking, call our own; acknowledged to be our own by those from whom we obtain it: to be able to administer to the necessities of those who are not able to help themselves :-This is a blessing devoutly to be wished. You have no conception of the glooms attendant on a state of dependBut you will say we are all dependent upon the divine Being true, we are so; and were human beings as good as their Creator, who could complain of dependence? But if dependence be galling in the meridian of our days, it is terrible in prospect, when old age approaches and the rising generation may resemble the king, who knew not Joseph. The infirmities of body and mind, generally appendages to lengthened years, are naturally calculated to create disgust, even in those who are prejudiced in our favour-Dependance, in such a situation, how tremendous! But you will ask, where is your faith? I answer where it ought to be ; fixed on the word of promise; which so far from quieting my fears, rather strengthens despondency. Christians are no where assured they shall be exempted from the common calamities incident to humanity. The afflictions consequent on the life I live, or may live, may be mine. Some of the most faithful servants of the Redeemer have been called to encounter great trials, and why not I? I do not know of any promise respecting this life, except that of much tribulation; and I have faith to believe I shall have a plentiful share of this.
But you will say all these things shall work together for goodNo doubt they will: yet if this thought could always render us happy, where would be the tribulation which we are taught to expect? It may perhaps be supposed, that a person who believes and preaches the doctrine of Universal Redemption, should never be unhappy; and that if he be, he is a very inconsistent character.
I should indeed be a very inconsistent character if my unhappiness arose from the dread of future misery, either for myself or my connexions; or from an apprehension that I have not now in Christ Jesus, all spiritual blessings. But I say again, if my unhappiness respects only this world, where I am assured I shall have much tribulation, and where I know that the most uniform believers, the most faithful servants of my master have suffered hunger, nakedness, loss of friends, reproach, and every species of contumely; not one of which calamities can be considered joyous, but grievous if I say this prospect sometimes makes me melancholy, I do not see that I am inconsistent. Nay, I think I should be much more inconsistent if I felicitated myself in the expectation of peace or happiness in this present world.
It appears to me it would be quite as rational to expect a believer in, and a preacher of the gospel, to be entirely exempted from every bodily indisposition, as that he should never be tortured by mental pangs. But these reflections will never be made by those who understand the doctrines of the cross: such know it is not in this state we are promised happiness; that we are liable to suffer every species of calamity; and that knowing this, we may groan, being burdened with either present suffering, or the fear of what evils may take place during our mortal pilgrimage; and I am free to own that my future prospects appear so gloomy, as to induce me to tremble at the approach of that time of life, when I shall stand most in need of that assistance which I shall then have least reason to expect. Yet it is the desire of my soul to cast in this, and every other respect, my care upon him who careth for me.
I very much lament my present state of inaction. Flavel says, "souls are like tools, they rust if not used." How much more honourable to wear out than to rust out. Well, I will gird up my mind, and once more up, and be doing.
We have been expecting you a very long season, and we still hope you will join us on the anniversary of the birth of our, of the world's Saviour. I am fearful I shall have no voice on that day; the pressure on my lungs is so violent, that I speak with the greatest difficulty, and I think it is momently increasing; yet I still struggle to speak. How can any who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, be content without proclaiming his goodness?
My whole heart joins with you in praising the Preserver of men ; who, making the clouds his chariot, holds the reins of the whirlwind,
and directs the storm which calls home those who are appointed to die thus stamping an idea of his power and goodness on the minds of survivors. But even storms and tempests, how loud soever they may roar, do not always speak loud enough to be heard by the insensible children of men.
. You ask who shall doubt of the final preservation of your rescued son? I answer every one, who being under the law, hears only the letter which killeth, without attending to the spirit that giveth life; but all who see the truth, as it is in Jesus, will see his salvation in the Redeemer.
Indeed I am more and more convinced that to persuade men to believe on the name of the Son of God, is the work of God. I conceive it would be much easier to bring individuals to consent to go on foot to Rome, or to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, to do or suffer any thing that could be done or suffered, than by mere human power, to prevail on them to believe what God has said; and thus believing, to enter into rest. It is so natural to look to the things that are seen, which are temporal, that it must be a supernatural effort that will ever lead us by faith to look to the things that are not seen, which are spiritual; and how is it possible while looking to the things which are seen, to have any other than a polluted conscience? You would know why men are so opposed to the doctrine of the restitution of all things? I answer; first, men in general are by nature unbelievers; secondly, there is a class of men in every age, place, and denomination, who are interested to prevent mankind from receiving the truth; and, thirdly, the grand adversary of souls is busy in blinding the children of men. All, however, acknowledge there is room enough in the fold, and sufficient power in the shepherd. But religious people are so regular in acknowledging and denying the same fact, that patience is exhausted while attending to their inconsistencies. The, Baptist with whom you have recently conversed, is an epitome of the religious world, and indeed of the whole world; and it must be confessed, as you justly observe, their language is so much like the serpent in the garden of Eden, that we need no other proof of their being under the influence of the same spirit which beguiled Eve. However, this man of sin will not eternally sit in the temple of God, showing himself as a God, and opposing himself to all that is called God, or worshipped. This man of sin shall be revealed, not by the power of the flesh, nor by the power of the creature, but by the breath of that
mouth which hath spoken these gracious words. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. Behold the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, and his own strong arm shall rule for him; behold his reward is with him, and his work before him.
What have we then to do, but as far as we are able, in patience to possess our souls? It is good that we both quietly hope, and patiently wait for the salvation of God.
I have had a conversation, which lasted many hours, with a respectable clergyman. He acknowledged he was one with me in every thing, the universality of the redemption I advocated, excepted.
Murray. But by what means have you learned that Jesus was the Saviour of any individual, Sir?
Clergyman. By the word of God."
M. Then how comes it to pass that this same word has so much weight with you respecting the few, and is so impotent with regard to the many. Sir, the word of God is as full and plain, respecting all and every one, as it is respecting any one. For example, "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world" He is the propitiation for our sins; that you will acknowledge plain, but is it more so than what followsAnd not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world?
Cler. Why, I believe the one part to be true, literally true, because he that believeth shall be saved; I cannot believe the other part to be literally true, because he that believeth not shall be damned, and these shall go away into everlasting fire, but the righteous into life eternal, and if you die in your sins, where I am ye cannot come, with many other scriptures to the same effect.
M. Please to mention them, Sir, because I intend, with your leave, to speak to them separately, and to show that they are all literally true, that there is in them not even the shadow of contradiction, but that they are all yea and amen, in the salvation of every child of Adam.
Cler. Well, Sir, if you can prove the salvation of every child of Adam, from the texts I have mentioned, I am satisfied.
I then took the passages he had cited, one by one, and spoke to each of them as you would upon a like occasion, even to the conclusion of the matter. I conversed with him through the day, and when he could produce no more passages which appeared contra
dictory to the law or to the testimony. I produced some vouchers in behalf of God, as a universal Saviour, to which he had not attended; he seemed much softened: first silenced, and then pleased, and we parted with the appearance of mutual kindness.
I do assure you, my friend, I believe there are very few who understand the doctrines we preach, although no language can be plainer than that of which we make use. How can we account for this? Is it not one thing to receive, and another to understand a testimony?
Yes, our valued friend gave me an account of your little tour, and I am exceedingly pleased with it. Do you not see the advantages that may be derived from writing on the best of subjects.
The friends whom we address will show our letters to their friends, and those friends to theirs, and so on. In preaching, and in conversation, what we say frequently passes like a ship through the ocean, leaving no trace behind, or if remembered by those who wish to`narrate what they hear, it is very rare we are favoured with the privilege of pouring instruction into the ear of any person, capable of giving a faithful relation of what they hear; our remarks will suffer either in matter or manner. But when we write to an individual, we, in some sense, leave ourselves, and often our best selves with him; and we forcibly, if not irresistably allure him to attention. Much more might be said on this subject, to induce you to commit your ideas to paper, but your own good sense will dictate more than I have leisure to say.
I am not very sanguine in my expectations of any good this side home; yet I cannot but hope, that life and immortality will be more and more illustrated by a preached gospel. But, of the gentleman to whom you advert, it may be well to suspend our decision, and even our judgment; we are shortly to see and hear him more fully in his own cause. Yet, from all terrestrial objects, I am prepared for disappointments; nothing at present surrounds me, but scenes of melancholy, gloomy troubles of mind, body, and estate, present evils, and dread of future; and although I may stand exempted, at least for the present, in my own individual person, yet my sympathies are powerfully excited; there is a chord in my bosom which vibrates to distress; and I cannot be happy while witnessing the sufferings of my fellow men.
Farewell May the peace of God abide with you.