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Our friends in this place are like our friends with you; and the thorns and briars of worldly care seem to have the same effect upon them. In fact, we are getting into bad circumstances; these are really melancholy times; our prospects, as a people, are gloomy. But when the judgments which we dread are abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of our world will learn righteousness.
A challenge from parson A. to Dr. P.!! Simple man! Why a babe in the school in which Dr. P. has been taught would be more than a match for parson A. or any other parson in his temper and state of mind. I long to hear the result of this same challenge; you will have the goodness to transmit it as soon as possible. I am happy to find, that notwithstanding the opposition made by high and low priests, supported by the united force of bigots of every description, the truth, as it is in Jesus, is, however, gaining ground in W― and H. But, by your account of N————, I am fearful that I have laboured in vain in that place. Yet, let me not form so melancholy a conclusion; there are some in N who do not bow the knee to Baal; but it would give me heart-felt pleasure to learn, that those who drink into the same spirit of christianity, were bearing one another's burdens, and thus fulfilling the royal law of love. After all, my dear Sir, the hearts of the people are in the hand of God, and he turns them withersoever he will.
The opinions of people, however heterogenous, are merely opinions which you know are garret lumber; their seat is the head, not the heart; I wish they were in the heart or no where, then the people would be either cold or hot, and unbelievers would constrain professors of the gospel of God our Saviour, to decide for or against. Would to God our adherents discovered as much energy as our opponents. I admire your reasoning; were you, in the present situation of affairs, to insist on the union of our friends in the way to which you advert, it might defeat the purpose you wish to effectuate. No doubt the great Head of the church will do with, and by them and us, as seemeth good in his sight; and here, my valued friend and brother, we must, as becometh the Christian character, leave this and every other matter.
But the progress of the truth in W- gives the alarm to bigotry. No doubt of it; the increase of the knowledge of the gospel of God our Saviour has alarmed superstition and prejudice in every country, where it has been promulgated since its first appearance in our world; and thus it will continue to do, until nothing can be
obtained by opposition, and mankind see it more for their honour and interest to unite in its favour, than to attempt its destruction. But your fellow-servants have complained of you to their master; this is as I expected. The recent event to which you advert will strengthen their hands; opposition will be embodied, and their bands will be made strong; mutual aid and support will be afforded; the rays of their malignant fire will be collected, and pointed at every individual connected with, but in spirit differing from their order; and if they have not the power to make use of temporal fire, if they cannot consume you as a heretic, they will evince their disposition toward you, by consigning you to the pains and penalties of eternal fire. Depend on it, my brother, you will find no peace nor rest in your present connexion; they will hate you, they will say all manner of evil of you; and this they will be the more diligent in saying, because they cannot do all manner of evil unto you.
Our Saviour, in this age and country, has mercifully saved his servants from the power of wicked hands, but he has not in this, or any other age or country, saved them from the power of wicked tongues; these unruly members will have full play, nor is it in your power, by any thing you can say, to tame them. Nay, the more excellent your defence when you are brought before them, the more they will be exasperated; they will be cut to the heart, and in the bitterness of their rage they will say, Away with him, it is not fit that such a fellow should live.
Yes, I believe B. was sensible he gained no ground, but in proportion to this conviction you may rest assured that in his heart you lost ground; your conversation ended,, in appearance, amicably. How impenetrable are the folds in which, upon such occasions, the designing heart is enveloped, indeed we ought to calcu late upon duplicity. I think,however, the artful covering thrown over the latent design of B. in the request he made, was almost too thin to answer the design of a covering. You must give in writing to the convention the particulars in which you differ from the principles commonly held by your order; and this must be done in the language of God. They could not stand before this if they admitted its force, any more than Dagon could stand before the ark. But to give your principles in the language of scripture, would be saying nothing at all, as they have been accustomed to read scripture ; as they have been accustomed to treat the sacred testimony, giving it without ceremony whatsoever sense they pleased,
Do you not see the design of B. Do you not see that he wishes your accusation and condemnation to come from yourself. Pardon me, my dear Sir, if I say I cannot but wonder you should so readily comply with a request which you believed, and which I do not see how you, or any one else made acquainted with the matter, could avoid believing was a designing request, calculated to ensnare you. You add, however, a motive worthy of yourself, as an apology for your compliance. You think it may serve the cause of truth, so it may if properly handled; and I pray God to furnish you with ability, and with strength, proportioned to your day, that you may fight the good fight, that you may hold fast the profession of your faith without wavering, and come off more than conqueror through him who hath loved you.
You do me the honour to request my assistance upon this occasion, and wish me to help you by furnishing you with, and directing you how to use weapons, with which I am not myself acquainted. I am so used to speak of things as the true sayings of God, that I know not how to convey my ideas in any other language. Besides, to know wherein we differ from your order, I should know what your order hold. But this I am not able positively to determine. I think they hold that all have sinned, that death, the death of the soul is the wages of sin, that Jesus died this death for all men. That he made by himself, once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world. All this I think your church professes to believe, and all this we really believe. But they believe that no one will ever finally enter into the rest which remaineth for the people of God, until they believe these sacred truths, and are made holy in themselves. This, also, we do most solemnly believe.
But here perhaps we part. They believe that all God's people are made holy and righteous in the present state, and that it is their becoming thus holy and righteous which constitutes them the people of God.
We believe that in the present state, none are righteous, no, not one; but that all mankind have gone astray like lost sheep, every one to his own way, but that they are, however, the beloved of God so much beloved of him, that he gave them his Son, and laid upon the Son the iniquities of them all, insomuch that he might with equity and strict justice die for the sins of the whole world; and this we believe he did so effectually that every man was considered
as dead according to the sentence passed by divine truth, when he said, The soul that sinneth shall die. But the grace of God brought salvation to all men, when by his grace Jesus tasted death for every man. So that now the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that as one died for all, then were all dead. But the sentence being thus executed upon all men, in the head of every man which is Christ, he who was mighty to save, hath abolished death, and having once died for all, he dieth no more. Justice hath no further demand; and thus having suffered once for all, he became the real, unequivocal, complete, and eternal Saviour of all men, which could not be true, if all men were not completely and eternally saved.
But again, he bear our sins in his own body on the tree, not only that he might,with equity and strict justice, suffer the righteous sentence denounced against the sinning soul, but that he also might put away our sins by the sacrifice of himself, and so when he was the Lamb slain, he was the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world; and this sin of the world was the sin he appeared the second time without, when in the morning of the resurrection he arose, greatly triumphant over sin, death, hell, and the grand adversary, presenting the human nature in himself, as his fulness before God, without spot, and blameless in love.
Consequent on this sublime, God-honouring, and man-restoring transaction, the messengers of peace are sent forth to preach glad tidings to every creature. They are to assure the world that God was in Christ, reconciling them unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses. And this is an eternal truth whether believed by the world or not.
But as many as believe this divine declaration have peace and joy in believing, and are saved from the power of the adversary, and from the deceptive wiles of his emissaries. Should the adversary perform great signs and wonders in preaching a false Christ, those who believe the divine report are saved from his delusions. They are saved from that tormenting fear of death to which the world who lieth in the wicked one, shut up in unbelief, are all their life time in bondage.
Again, we believe that all mankind will be ultimately taught of God, and that when thus taught, they will all believe, and that all believers will be saved, not only in the Lord with an everlasting salvation, which, in the divine mind and purpose, they were before the
world was, and which in the fulness of the time, when Jesus suffered for their sins, and rose again for their justification, was effectuated in his person. But we believe they will be saved in themselves also, saved individually from sin, for he shall thoroughly purge his floor, he will burn up the chaff and tares with unquenchable fire and gather his wheat into his garner. They will be saved individually from darkness, for every eye shall see, darkness shall no longer cover the earth, nor gross darkness the people; for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. They will be saved individually from sorrow, for sorrow and sighing shall be done away, and there shall be no more pain, and the Lord God shall wipe away all tears from off all faces, &c. &c. They shall be saved individually from death, and from hell, for death and hell shall be cast into the lake of fire. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. (! death, I will be thy plague; O! grave, I will be thy destruction; repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
Thus are we taught, and thus do we testify that we know, and to speak in language the most simple, instructed in divine revelation by the Holy Ghost; we believe God to be the Maker of all things; we believe he is the Father of our spirits; the Father of mankind in every age and place; the eternal, unchangeable lover and friend of every man; that all men have sinned; that the wages of sin is death; that Jesus, by the grace of God, hath redeemed all men from sin and death; that whatever punishment individuals may suffer, in or out of the body, is either the natural consequence of their folly, or the effect of divine, paternal affection; and with respect to every individual of the human family, will ultimately terminate in the good of the creature, and the glory of God.
We believe that wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and that all her paths are peace; and we know that it is every man's interest to walk therein; but mankind are blind to their own interest, and have greatly erred; have all gone out of the way; but God hath compassion on the ignorant, and such as are out of the way. With respect to those who believe not, although they are consequently under condemnation, yet God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
But surely, my friend, you did not need my aid in this business, you who have entered so deeply into the subject, and written sa clearly upon it. I think, however, had I seen you previous to your promise made to B. I should have ventured to give advice, that