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Yes, friendship is changing, and friends are dying; but there is one friend who will die no more, and whose friendship will never change; and as man, like the tender vine, supported, lives, when what hath hitherto supported is taken away, we naturally look round for another prop, and if we are taught of God, we then return unto our rest, and resolve to come up the residue of our journey, leaning on the beloved. If we are enabled to execute this resolve, we can then experimentally say, it was good for us that we were afflicted. I do not recollect a single instance in the book of God, of any of God's people crying unto the Lord in prosperity; but in adversity, in affliction, in trouble, how loud, how repeated were their cries! In truth, we never turn to our strong hold, until we are driven out of every other; but even then, our gracious Father receives us without upbraiding, blots out our manifold offences, and remembers our sins no more. Some of the children of God will forgive, but they will not forget. They will not cast offences behind their backs, they will keep them in full view. Blessed, forever blessed, be that God whose ways are not as our ways, who is not only good to the good and the thankful, but to the evil and the unthankful; who has not only compassion on those who are in, but on those who are out of the way; and who, well knowing that no one can know the things of God, but by his own teaching spirit, hath compassion on the ignorant.
I am, my brother, free to write you all my mind. There are many of my brethren, who, I am persuaded, could not bear to be dealt with thus explicitly, and I would not willingly offend the weakest of my Father's children. Much malice, much hatred has been originated in the bosoms of religious professors, on account of disagreement in opinion, and those who are the most zealous have generally been the most mischievous. This intolerance, however, is coming to a period, and men, varying in sentiment, now value themselves on that liberality which forbids dissension.
Indeed it has for many years been to me matter of wonder, what the contending parties could find to contend about. They all appear to have the same sentiments of Deity, that he is no better than a Publican, and not to be compared to themselves for compassion, benevolence, &c. &c. They all agree, that God loves his friends and hates his enemies; that he is good unto the good, and unyielding to the evil; since, for the offences of one century, he will punish them through millions of millions of centuries; nay, that if we could even stretch our imagination to the close of such a period,
the punishment of offenders will then only be beginning to begin; and this too for offences, which his prescience and his omnipotence might have prevented! The righteous they proclaim the objects. of God's affection, and the subjects of his peace; but sinners are the objects of his hate, and the subjects of his wrath.
When I have seen these Christian professors persecuting and striving to devour each other, I have been ready to say to them, as Moses did upon a certain occasion, Sirs, why do ye thus? Are ye not brethren? But had I thus questioned, I should have expected no better treatment than the Hebrew questioner received.
One thing is surprising; these religious professors differ from themselves, nearly as much as they differ from each other! Of this I am confident, that the preaching and the writings of all those to whom I have attended, contain as palpable contradiction, as are to be found in the most dissimilar sects of Christians. The sum and substance of all is, God will, and he will not; man can, and he cannot. "I shall," (said a preacher, whom I not long since heard,) "consider my subject in the following order:
"First, We have a great work to do.
"Secondly, We have but little time to accomplish this great
"And thirdly, We can do nothing."
But the old doctrine brought into this country by the disciples of John Calvin, seems to be nearly obsolete; a Mr. B. lately from England, observed to me, that he could scarcely discern a vestige of genuine Calvinism. The prevailing doctrine seems to be, that the death of Jesus Christ hath put mankind upon the same ground, on which they stood previous to Adam's defection: that the wages of sin is death, and the offer of God, (not the gift) everlasting life, through obedience and faith. Some place faith before obedience and think much of this order, although they both agree, that each is essential to the giving the death of Christ any part in the salvation of any sinner; and while there are many shades of difference in this private opinion, not an individual seems to acknowledge the truth proclaimed by God himself, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and which hath been preached by all God's holy prophets ever since the world began. Far, very far from it; instead of believing that all the families of the earth are blessed in the seed of Abraham, which seed is Christ, I do not find a single idea of any family of the earth being blessed in that seed; they seem to have
some idea, of some individuals being blessed by, or through that seed, but not in Christ; those who are blessed by, or through him, must first help themselves, and their divine friend will love them the better.
You,my friend,say you are a believer with Pool,with Paul,and with Jesus Christ. I really think there were some particulars, in which each of the characters you mention agreed; but allow me to point out one or two particulars, in which Jesus Christ and Paul did not agree with Pool. First, Jesus Christ declared himself the life of the world, the possessor of all which had belonged to the Father, and the keeper of all that he possessed; and, referring to those who could not believe this truth, the Redeemer saith, If any man hear my word, and believe it not, I judge him not, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The Apostle follows, and with holy zeal opens and expatiates upon the doctrines of the cross. As by the offence of one, saith Paul, judgment came upon all men, so by the righteousness of God, the free gift came upon all men to justification of life. Moreover, the law entered that the offence might abound, but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto life eternal, by Jesus Christ our Lord; for God hath concluded them all in unbelief. For what purpose? That he might have mercy upon all. This respects the Jews who were cut off; but God was able to graff them in again, for the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob; and so all Israel shall be saved. For Christ having tasted death for every man, is the Saviour of all men, to be testified in due time. In one word, Paul believed that Jesus was the Saviour of all men, and that grace abounded much more than sin.
Pool believed that Jesus was not the Saviour of all men, and that sin was much more abundant than grace, and consequently, that many more would be made miserable to all eternity by sin, than would be rendered happy by grace.
Thus, I am persuaded, he who was a murderer from the beginning, would have it; but so, I bless God, the faithful Creator, whose thoughts from everlasting were thoughts of peace and not of evil, would not have it.
Do you ask how I know this? Sir, my God hath told me so himself; he hath declared unto me by his spirit, that he willeth
that all men should be saved and come unto the knowledge of his truth.
You mention the sheep and the goats. The idea embraced by mankind respecting these figures, sheep and goats, is a strong evidence of the force of those prejudices, which we derive from education. A person acquainted with the language of revelation, and uninfluenced by corrupt tradition, would plainly read sheep for the figure of fallen man, of all fallen men; for all we like sheep have gone astray; and the goat was designed a figure of the fallen angels, who also kept not their first estate, but are reserved under chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
In the lots which were drawn respecting the two goats, one was for the Lord and the other for Azazel. The literal signification of this name, Azazel, is the devil; and the first goat was offered for sin, and atoned for the people, dying to seal its atonement, that the people thus atoned for, may be brought home to God. Thus, immediately upon the atonement being made in figure, the people, as originating from God, are restored unto him; and that the figure might be perfect in all its parts, as the iniquities of the people are transferred to him, with whom they originated, to the scape-goat, to Azazel, or the devil, who is let go into the wilderness; a fit place for the residence of this adversary of social virtue; and whence he issued to essay his skill at tempting the second Adam, who was led thither by the Spirit, strong to defend, and fully qualified for victory.
This restoration of the sins of the people, after the atonement to this figure of the devil, seems to correspond with the doctrine of the restoration of all things. It is a rendering to Cæsar, the things which are Cæsar's; and to God, the things which are God's,
The idea of separating Christ with their sins from the people, and losing both in the wilderness, is horrid! But the view authorized by the word of God, of losing the seed sown by the enemy, with the enemy who sowed it, is worthy of God, and worthy the acceptance of all his people; because it describes in figure the complete salvation of all men; the redemption of every man from sin; and its diabolical author from the tempter and temptation, from the devil and all his works; both of which, Christ Jesus was manifested to destroy.
No, assuredly, Jesus did not lay down his life for goats, when he died for the sins of the whole world; he took not on him the
nature of angels. God's people, we are told, sacrificed unto devils. Deuteronomy xxxii. 17, “They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not." Psalm, cvi. 37, "Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils." Learned commentators assure us, that the Hebrew word rendered devils, is literally goats; either because the goats were worshipped by the Egyptians, (as Herodotus, Strabo, and others observe,) or that many of their idols were in that form.
Now as the learned know that goats are figurative of fallen angels, who are denominated devils, and as they know the devil was worshipped under the figure of a goat, why are they not faithful enough to communicate it to the people?
Sir, I am astonished to see you adopting the vulgar error, respecting the word all; and I am beyond measure surprised to hear you say, "All, does not mean every individual, but in a very few places; and never, where the Holy Spirit is speaking of redemp tion" ! ! ! !
I presume you will admit that we have redemption in the beloved, and in no other name. But God so loved the world, he gave them his Son; and he gave his life for the world, and became the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; and he gave himself a ransom for all, and died for all; and when all things shall be subdued, then shall the Son himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. Mr. Cruden in his concordance informs us, the word redemption signifies deliverance both from the guilt and power of sin; and expresses the whole work of the sinner's salvation, comprehending all things that belong thereto. Hebrews ix. 12, 13, 14: "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
"For if the blood of bulls, and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the Acsh;
"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God?"
It is plain from scripture testimony, that when our Saviour came to seek and to save that which was lost, he came to be the complete Saviour of the world, of all men, both from the guilt and power of