« PreviousContinue »
Christians of every denomination do not generally agree; before I conclude, I will take leave to mention a few particulars, to which a large majority of religious professors unanimously consent, and in which I do most cordially unite with every child of God.
First, There is a God known to us as a Creator, as a Father, as a Lawgiver, as an inexorable Judge, by no means clearing the guilty.
Secondly, This God was manifested in the flesh, reconciling the world unto himself, suffering and doing all that was needful for the restoration of fallen sinners.
Thirdly, He is now as the spirit, taking of what he did in the character of Emmanuel and showing it to his people, to some as preachers, that they may make it known to the rest of mankind; to others as believers, that they may shew forth his praise.
Fourthly, That as many as believe on the Lord Jesus enter into rest, and are under obligations to live to him, who died for them; but if these children of God walk not in the statutes of the Lord, then will he visit their transgressions with a rod, and their iniquities with stripes; nevertheless, his loving kindness he will not utterly take away, nor suffer his faithfulness to fail.
Fifthly, The believer is, in death, peculiarly happy; he is then made perfect in holiness, and doth immediately pass into glory. He leaves every thing distressing behind, and enters into the glory of the Lord. Thus holy and thus blessed, he hath part in the first resurrection. The second death hath no power over him. He cometh not to the judgment; it is the world that will be judged. These having judged themselves, shall not be judged. These are not of the world, these were chosen out of the world. These rise to the resurrection of life; and instead of being judged, we are informed by an Apostle, that they shall judge angels.
The unbeliever is a wretched slave, first to the devil, secondly to sin, and thirdly to fear. Fear, we know, hath torment ;-he is like the prodigal feeding on husks. Has he hope? It is the hope of the hypocrite, which will make him ashamed; it will be as the giving up of the ghost.
The unbeliever is miserable in life, and in death, not crediting the gospel of God, our Saviour, which declareth that Jesus died for him death appeareth to him no shadow, it approacheth as a most formidable substance: it is the king of terrors. Not having put on the Lord Jesus, the unbeliever dies in his sins; and where Christ is, where is fulness of joy, he cannot come when he dies
he lies down in sorrow, he leaves all his happiness behind him. Death and the grave, darkness and hell, receive him; and when the trumpet, destined to raise the dead, shall be sounded, he will rise to the resurrection of damnation or condemnation: he will call upon the rocks and mountains to fall upon him, to hide him from the wrath of the Lamb. The books will be opened; he will be judged out of the things written in the books; he will be condemned or damned, which words are synonimous. Every man will be rewarded according to his works. To him who, by patient continuance in well doing, did the will of God, glory and honour; to him who was disobedient, tribulation and anguish. To the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.
For the Lord shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them who know not God, and who obey not the gospel, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. Then shall he say, bring forth these men who would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before me. Then shall a sword proceed from the mouth of him that sitteth on the white horse, with which he shall slay the nations. They shall be slain as Paul was slain when the commandment slew and he died; every mouth shall be stopped, all the world shall be guilty before God, confessedly guilty.
But, blessed be God, another book shall then be opened, and whosoever is found written in this book, shall be saved from the power of the adversary. But who are written in this book?
In thy book, saith the spirit, all my members are written, and the aggregate of the human family, make up the members of Christ's body. The Redeemer will then separate his redeemed, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; placing the fallen angels, who have still stimulated the race of Adam to every evil, and prevented them from every good-placing these fallen angels, whose names are not written in the Lamb's book of life, upon his left hand, while those who have been distressed and harrassed by their deceptions, thus separated from every evil, shall be placed on the right hand.
Thus will the one be taken and the other left; thus will the right hand and the left hand be given to those, for whom those seats were prepared; thus it is true that God killeth, and that he VOL. II.
also maketh alive, and thus shall all tears be ultimately wiped from every eye.
From all, and every consideration, Christians mutually agree in acknowledging the necessity of believing, and if all agree in this necessity, how explicit and unequivocal should be the testimony of the preacher, respecting the truth to be believed. For how can they believe what they do not hear. If there be no one to give them a testimony immutable, altogether independent of their belief, no one to sound the gospel trumpet with a certain sound, how can they believe? How can they believe what they do not hear; and how can they hear, if there be no preacher? I know that faith is the gift of God, yet this gift cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
For myself, I will give you my character at once. As a preacher, I would know nothing but Christ, and him crucified: I would call upon every sinner, of every description, descended from the first dwellers in paradise, to believe on the Lord Jesus: I would not tell them that Christ was their Saviour if they believed, for consider, my dear Sir, how absurd is the idea. Before the foundation of the world, a great, a sublime plan is laid-And, thus laid, after the revolution of centuries, it is executed. It was laid and it is executed by an omnipotent Being; and yet, after all, its veracity or effect rests wholly upon the reception given it by the creature of a day, which creature has neither the will nor the power to do any thing for himself; and did he possess worlds, with those worlds he could not purchase a single good thought. In this representation, the unhappy man will not, cannot believe. It either is, or it is not, and as I believe it is; I will therefore tell the world, that Christ died for them, that he hath ransomed them from the power of the devil, that he is their Saviour, that he died to save them from their sins, and that, having died for them, and for this purpose, they are bound to live, not unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again.
As a private Christian, I would come up from the wilderness, leaning upon the beloved, casting all my care on that God who careth for me, both for life and for godliness, for time and for eternity.
As a member of the Christian church, I would adorn the doctrine, the testimony, of God my Saviour, in all things; not seeking my own, but becoming all things to all men, that can have a tendency to win them to Christ.
Recurring once more to your truly friendly, and invaluable letter, I am reminded of your question relative to devils or fallen angels, to which I answer; our Saviour took not on him the nature of angels: all I know of them is, that they kept not their first estate, that they fell from their habitation in the highest heavens, that from the beginning they have sought the destruction of mankind, that they are reserved under chains of darkness, to the judgment of the great day, when they will be separated from our nature, in which they now have, in a great measure, their residence, and be sent into that fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels.
I am not sent to preach the gospel to devils, I know of no gospel for devils, the real Universalists say they do. But with those devils, I have nothing to do. They have however a great deal to do with me; they work in the hearts of the children of disobedience, to lay many things to my charge, of which I am entirely ignorant.
However, while I am enabled to abide by the divine testimony, faithfully declaring the whole counsel of God, I shall not be afraid what men or devils can do unto me, for my confidence, my unwavering confidence, is in him who hath said, Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.
I am, dear and reverend Sir, with love and true affection,
To the same.
LET me, my valued, my greatly valued friend, converse with you, as one friend converseth with another. Let me find in you, what I find in my own soul for you, love without dissimulation. Do not I entreat you, give ear to the whisperer that separateth between choice friends. I do not mean to draw you into a contentious disputation. I hate disputes, they generally gender
strife, especially among religious professors. If then you should consider me weak in the faith, I beseech you receive me, but not to doubtful disputation; remember who hath compassion upon the ignorant, and upon such who are out of the way. If God so loved us, ought we not also to love one another? Christ hath left us an example, that we should follow his steps. Learn of me, saith Jesus, for I am meek, and lowly of heart.
I think I have not found, in the circle of my clerical acquaintance, an individual who possesses more of the temper proper to designate the disciples of our great Master, than the much loved friend to whom I am writing. Very true, I may be mistaken Something just then whispered me, Trust ye not in man, put no confidence in a guide. Again, you may for a time, be all, I think; but man is mutable, no matter; I will enjoy the pleasures of Christian friendship while I may, I will hope while I am able, I will not, how often soever I may have been deceived, let dark suspicion cloud the sunshine of promised friendship. I will indulge the pleasing expectation, that I have commenced a kind of sentimental commerce, that will not only be lucrative, but durable; that will only end with our present mode of existence. End with our present mode of existence did I say? Should it accompany us to the end of our journey, it will be so far from ending then, that it will only be beginning to begin. This state, as Doctor Young very justly observes, is but the dim dawn of our being. But if only the dim dawn of our being, with respect to our mere existence, it is abundantly more so with respect to our well being as Christians, and as friends. In the present world, friendship is an exotic, and it is often nipt by chilling blasts; it is in our native soil, in the garden of our God, that this celestial plant will obtain its pristine vigor, and flourish with unfading verdure. Yet exotics may be kept alive, even here; O, may no killing blasts from the northern regions, where the arch adversary in figure fixes his throne. Isaiah xiv. 13. "For thou hast said in thy heaft, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will set also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north," May no killing blast, I say, from this northern region, ever be suffered to blow upon our tender plants, and make their verdure languish
Thinking this morning of you, and of your friendship, of the letter received from you, and of the reply I ventured to make,