« PreviousContinue »
extended to the breadth of Immanuel's land, until it reached even to the neck, where it stopped.
This figure appears to me perfect in all its parts-For Immanuel's land, I read human nature; and we know the head of human nature is Christ Jesus. The threatened destruction from the formidable foe, arose no farther than the neck.
This is indeed a most divine figure: do but consider its force. The spirituality of this figure gave utterance to a dying christian, who faithfully sung,
I would not, said the Apostle Paul, have you ignorant of this : Of what? that the head of every man is Christ, lest you should be wise in your own conceit. Now, if Jesus be the head, and the fulness of the nature he assumed, and we are his body, then the body is safe; for although the waters of the adversary ascended to the neck, they could reach no farther. It is notorious, that if the whole man be immersed in water, even to the neck, if the head be held above water, life is preserved. But reverse the figure, let the head be enveloped in water, and death is the certain consequence. Thus, blessed be God, Jesus is the life, is the head of every man, the life of the whole body: Your life is hid with Christ in God, saith the Apostle. He hath said, because I live, ye shall live also ; and when Christ who is our life shall appear, ye also shall appear with him in glory as one star differeth from another star in glory, so also shall be the resurrection, so also shall be the members of the body of our exalted head.
These are blessed considerations; eternal praises be to him who hath given us, in this weary land, such abundant consolation. Let us suffer how we may, while we sojourn in this wilderness, we shall rise superior to all the distresses under which we now groan, being burdened; and it should console to know that the calamities we may, in the present state of things, be called to endure, shall work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Yes, there is, for the thousandth time I repeat it, another and a better world, where sin and sorrow can never come, where nothing that defileth shall enter.
O, for faith and patience to enable us quietly to hope, and patiently to wait for the complete salvation of our God; assuredly our God is faithful, who hath promised!
Is it not easy with God to save us from sin. He, who in the day of his humiliation, could, and did say, I will, be thou clean, can in his state of exaltation say as much, and perform as much, for every member of his mysterious body: we therefore unite with our Apostle, and faithfully say, if we were saved by his death, much more being saved from wrath by him; or, more correctly, Romans, iv. 9, 10. "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him."
For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. But when floods arise the coward soul is too frequently appalled. When deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts; when all thy waves and thy billows pass over the affrighted spirit, even the royal Psalmist is dismayed: yet the Lord will command his loving kindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. I will say unto God my rock, why hast thou forgotten me; why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy, as with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me, while they say daily unto me, where is thy God? Why art thou cast down O, my soul; and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
Yes, we know who hath said, When thou passeth through the waters I will be with thee, so that, the floods shall not drown thee. They may, and as I said, often do terrify us; and when the river rises very high, even unto the neck, when we conceive ourselves absolutely sinking, we may with Peter cry out, Lord save us or we perish. But Jesus stretched forth his hand to the trembling disciple; he caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore dost thou doubt? And he conducted him into the ship, and the wind ceased. Thus did Jesus in the figure, and thus he will do in the substance. When the monsters of the deep, when the tyrants of this world rave and rage against us, even as the roaring of the sea, we know that even the winds and the sea obey him. He will say to the one, peace, to the other, be still; and observ
ance, strict observance will follow; a blessed calm will succeed. Assembled worlds will be filled with admiration, and exclaim with the astonished mariner of old, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and sea obey him?
I do not know that you will acknowledge the foregoing observations even as a sketch of what is contained in the text. But it is not necessary to inform you, that I cannot write as I can speak, and in the conclusion of this letter, I have not been indulged even with my accustomed freedom of ideas.
May the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, abide with you.-Farewell.
To a venerable Christian, upon Church government.
My honoured and very respectable friend will, I am apprehensive, accuse me of neglect in thus delaying to attend to those serious reflections which he thought proper to address to my consideration. I have, Sir, perused, and reperused your letter; and as I read, I became positive it ought not to be hastily answered. Yet, after much deliberation, when I have said all I can say, it is probable we shall continue to see things in a very different point of view.
However, in one thing we shall agree, and in my opinion there is little else worth contention. You join with me in declaring that there is no name, nor thing, which contains salvation, save Christ Jesus all things else are shadowy; this only is substantial. It is true I wish that as professors of faith in this complete Saviour, we could be of one mind and one spirit, and be enabled to view things precisely as they are then should we dwell together in the unity of the faith, and in the bond of peace; and thus agreeing, we should take sweet counsel together, and go on our way rejoicing.
I fully believe with you, "That every thing in the scripture which represents the children of men as disobedient and blame
worthy, may be imputed to their walking after the imaginations of their own hearts; and that the design of divine revelation is to lead our minds to that with which God is well pleased.
But while I grant this self-evident truth, I am naturally directed to inquire of the sacred oracles, with what our God is well pleased; and I learn upon inquiry, that he is well pleased with spiritual good in perfection, and moral good even in part. Indeed I might have commenced with natural good, but as I-conceive natural good to be wholly the work of God himself, whose works are always perfect, I conclude this is that spiritual good, which he beheld with ineffable delight, when he declared every thing which he had made very good.
We will then first of all attend to the consideration of the spiritual good (which must be as perfect as the natural good) with which God is well pleased. To lose sight of this spiritual, and follow after any thing else, as a spiritual good, is, I conceive, what the scripture calls walking after the imaginations of our own hearts.
Spiritual good can be nothing less than God himself. Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God. And as there is none good but one, so there is no true good but what is found in, or proceeds from this one only good, as this one can be none other than God manifest in the flesh, in whom it pleased the Father all fulness should dwell, we are bound to believe that no one beside him, was ever able to please God spiritually, by doing his will, in the only way that can be acceptable to him, that is in perfection; hence the propriety of our Saviour's command, Matthew, v. 48.
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Thus the Apostle, Hebrews x. 1, 2, 4, 7, 10, 14. "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect.
"For then, would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
"For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
"Then said I, Lo, I come, (in the volume of the book it is writ ten of me) to do thy will, O God.
"By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
"For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified."
Indeed every part of holy writ, which treats of salvation by Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, speaketh the same language. It is not, I humbly conceive, our wisdom, either in a natural or converted state, that can be called perfect wisdom, for we know but in part. It is not by the knowledge that we are made partakers of, that we can be justified, it is by his knowledge the many shall be justified; neither is it the righteousness found in the Pharisee or the Christian that can be pleasing to God, for all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; nor can it be our sanctification, or heart purity, or holiness, that can be pleasing to God, for we are all as an unclean thing. The heart is deceitful above all things. Who can understand his errors. Cleanse thou me from my secret faults. Thou only art holy.
It is not amongst men of any description, in any age of the world, we are to look for the good man, out of whose good heart proceedeth good things. Man in his best estate is vanity; from the heart proceedeth evil thoughts. In me, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing. Thus may every child of Adam with strict propriety, at all times say, It is not, I repeat, amongst men of any character, we are directed to look for that good tree, that bringeth not forth corrupt fruit. For the best of them is as a briar, and surely men do not gather grapes from thorns. Hence, there is great consolation in the words of our Saviour, when he says, I am the green fir-tree› from me is thy fruit found. I am the true vine, Sc. Whenever we are employed in searching for the living among the dead, for grapes on thorns, and figs on thistles; for new wine in old bottles, new cloth in old garments, sweet water in bitter fountains, true wisdom from ignorance, righteousness in law-breakers, and sanctification in corrupt hearts, I think we may be said, to walk after the imaginations of our own hearts.
Search the scriptures, said our Saviour, they testify of me. I am persuaded the Apostles laboured in all their preaching to make manifest, that every ceremony in the former, and every ordinance in the latter dispensation, which were stamped with the sanction of divine authority, were simply signs to direct the mind to this true spiritual good, and if any Jew or Gentile, should at any other time, VOL. II.