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cent country. So little doth the wrath of man understand the human heart.
It is really astonishing. The gentleman at whose house I abide was totally ignorant of the gospel plan, until being ill used by some of the brethren of the church to which he belonged, he set about searching the scriptures for some passages with which to condemn them, and in thus seeking for their condemation, his own stared him in the face. In real distress of mind, he pursued his search for something to justify and console himself, when, to his unspeakable joy, he found not only his own, but the salvation of his fellow How unsearchable are God's judgments, and his ways past finding out! From this period he has been an advocate for the truth as it is in Jesus. At first he was considered as a madman even by his own family. But God gave him much to say; his life was exemplary, and his testimony consistent and unvarying. Many, strong in opposition, listened from curiosity, and were convinced. The union made its appearance among them: great was the power of truth, and numbers have associated, setting their seals to that sacred word which testifieth of Jesus and the great redemption. Nothing could exceed the good gentleman's rapture at my appearance in his house: my visit was in consequence of his solicitation; but it had been so long delayed, that he had began to despair. "Is it possible," he exclaimed, "that I am so blessed? God be praised, God be praised. Since I first beheld my Saviour, my own and the world's Saviour, I have never experienced such heart-felt happiness."
Never did I listen to more delightful music than is produced by the choir in this town. There is not, I believe, any thing equal to it in this country; at least I have never heard music since I left London, that deserves a comparison with my musical friends in this town. The circular gallery presents, first, ten men who sing bass; secondly, ten who sing tenor; thirdly, fifteen young ladies, with three lads, who sing counter; fourthly, sixteen misses who sing treble. But what renders this music nearly divine, is its softness. The notes, mellow and blending, seem to mingle and soothe like the sweet sounds of the Eolian harp. The musicians in this place have attained a perfectly correct idea of music; and I prefer, greatly prefer listening to them, to any instrumental music I ever heard. Whence is it, that vocal musicians in general are so injudicious as to think loud music good music? Singers who perform
without violent exertion, might continue many hours in this delightful employment, without injury to their voices or lungs.
O, for that happy period, when the redeemed of the Lord shall form one grand choir, one universal band of music! Then we shall not be hearers only, of what at best, in this imperfect state, must of necessity be imperfect; but we shall ourselves become performers, hymning the praises of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, not only with spirit and understanding, but with all that glowing rapture, which holy gratitude and a never ending sense of the most important and enduring benefits can inspire.
Having a convenient opportunity, I shall make up this letter; I thank you for your answer to my clerical querist. I am not absolutely determined to send your letter. I rather suspect the questions were mischievously, if not ludicrously proposed; and if so, silence is as much as the inquirer ought to expect. Accept, however, my utmost gratitude. Farewell.
I HAVE SO long delayed the narration of my visit to that I am fearful it will be now but an imperfect attempt. It shall however be the best which my memory can render.
When the convention of preachers, called Universalists, assembled at ——, application was made to the Selectmen of the town, for the use of their meeting-house, which was cheerfully and politely granted.
The officiating minister of that house, and the neighbouring clergy, collected for the purpose of devising means to prevent my delivering my message among them, or being heard, if I did.
One gentleman, as I am told, proposed that I should be interrupted in my discourse, while engaged in preaching, by some question which it was believed I should not be able to answer. But this was opposed, on the supposition that I should think myself entitled to ask questions in my turn; and after much deliberation it was concluded, it would be best to let me proceed to a close, and then
to select the most able of their association, who should be prepared with a short discourse, pertinent to the occasion, and thus obtaining the last words, there would be more probability of producing, upon the minds of the people, a lasting impression.
Accordingly they made their election, agreeably to the above plan, which taking wind, the congregation was very large, and the important period being arrived, I ascended the desk. You will find my subject in St. Matthew's gospel, iii. 12:
"Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into his garner: but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
I commenced, by observing, that as I was by the good providence of God, on this occasion, called upon to preach the gospel to husbandmen, I could not do better than to select my subject from objects which were daily passing under their observation. I persuaded myself, my hearers would find no difficulty in acknowledging the propriety of the mode of expression adopted in the passage I had read.
You will observe, my friends, said I, that our God, as a faithful Creator, is represented by the Baptist, as a husbandman collecting the fruits of his labour, upon the floor of his granary, that he may winnow and purify it. The husbandman soweth his wheat free from chaff, but when he reaps it, every grain is coated with a substance, which it seems to have received in its contact with the earth, and without this coat of chaff no grain was ever yet found.
But as the wheat, in order to its being rendered useful, must be brought into the same state, in which it was when committed to the earth; that the husbandman may not lose his labour, he must separate between the precious and the vile; therefore, the owner collects it in the chaff in which it grew, and placing it in his fan, waving it with his hand against the wind, while thus winnowing it, the chaff being light as vanity flies off and the wind blows it away, while the wheat, more weighty, rests on the floor of the granary.
The chaff, collected in a heap without the door, being altogether unprofitable, is burned up; and the separation thus made, what was sowed, is thoroughly purged, and gathered home, as pure as when it left the hand of the proprietor.
Thus the figure is strikingly grand. But, observe, the floor is thoroughly purged, not a single particle of chaff remains, and, as I said, it is clean as the labours of the husbandman can render it.
The grand object of the spirit of truth is to lead us into all truth, and following this divine guide, we will enquire,
First, What we are to understand by the wheat? and,
1st. What by the wheat. The wheat is undoubtedly a figure of the human race, which, when first planted in the earth, we are assured was planted upright. The lip of truth pronounced the nature he had formed very good. But it continued not in honour. It soon acquired its coat of chaff, although made upright, in the image of its Creator. Our general mother was beguiled by the subtlety of the serpent. Adam, although he sinned, was not deceived, but designed as a figure of him who was to come, of him who styles himself the husband of the human nature, he put himself in her condition. "The woman that thou gavest to be with me, she gave to me, and I did eat.” Thus was the coat of chaff acquired.
2dly. Of what is this chaff a figure, or what are we to understand thereby? All those impurities which cleaveth to humanity, from which every individual must eventually be purged, whatever is extraneous, or was not a part of the nature, when it passed from the hands of its great Proprietor. The Almighty husbandman sowed it in honour, but in this crust of mortality it soon became enwrapped, and as long as the grain is growing, so long the chaff grows with it; but, in the harvest, when the grain is gathered in, then will the separation be made, every particle of wheat thoroughly purged, for his fan is in his hand, and he will gather his wheat spotless, and unmingled with every thing that can injure, into his garner, while the chaff that once adhered thereto shall be consumed. Thus saith a Christian poet :
"On Grace's door this motto's graved,
The destruction of the chaff is the salvation of the wheat. The wheat could never separate itself, having neither will nor power thus to do; but the husbandman knew, before he committed it to the earth, what would be its condition, and his plans were laid according to his foreknowledge: so God, the great husbandman, knew, before he sowed his seed, what would be the issue, and his eternal purposes were, like his blessed self, firm and unchangeable. This omnipotent proprietor of the harvest determined he would appoint a day, in the which he would gather all things into one, and
then, and there, beholding his harvest complete, thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat, thus purified, into his garner, and burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
How strong is the delusion of that man who supposes that by any exertion of his own, he can convert or transform chaff into wheat! Let the attempt be made; let philosophy tax its utmost powers; let the chymist prepare his crucibles, bring every faculty of the soul, combine the efforts of every individual, from Adam to his youngest son, and examine the result. What is it, pray? Why, definitions have been given, they have discriminated, in some instances, perhaps, accurately; they have composed and decomposed, designed and separated, combined and disjoined; but, tell me, if in any instance, they have absolutely and physically changed one substance into another? if they have ever turned chaff into wheat?
Again, let me entreat those, who believe the chaff emblematic of sinners, to investigate more closely. See, every grain of wheat is encompassed with its chaff, and they grow together. Thus the whole world layeth in wickedness. But in the commonly received view, every good man or saint should be wrapped about with a wicked man or sinner. Will the figure hold, thus distorted? But the advocates for the final destruction of a large proportion of their species do not admit the ultimate felicity of more than one in ten of the human family; I believe not so many: but it is my wish to keep within compass. Yet in this figure, there are as many coats of chaff as grains of wheat. Is it not then more rational, as well as scriptural, to suppose the wheat, that seed which God hath sown, sown in human earth, sown originally free from spot or blemish, but accumulating, as it grows, numerous impurities, from which, when separated, agreeably to the doctrine of the restitution of all things preached by all God's holy prophets, it shall be gathered into the garner of its God? 1
Such, trust me, my hearers, is the consolatory truth, plainly taught by the teaching spirit of God. This holy spirit, which taketh of the things of Jesus, and sheweth them unto us, assures us upon the authority of the sacred Majesty of heaven, that when the Redeemer bowed the heavens, and descended to earth, he came to destroy not his own works, but the works of the adversary.
But the adversary is not the creator of either the bodies or souls of men; these are not the works of the adversary; these are the works of the Redeemer. What then are the works of the adversa