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although no friend to our holy religion, pronounced this country the best in the world: "For there," said he, “in America, a man is indulged with the enjoyment of his own sentiments: nay, if he pleases, he may avow his opinions, none daring to make him afraid." We are not now trembling in dread either of priestly craft or kingly power, we can set under our own vine and fig-tree, none making us afraid. Indeed, indeed, this consideration swells my heart with love and gratitude to that good and gracious God, whose strong arm is my protection.
When this gentleman sung at me, and prayed at me, my bosom glowed with rapture, from the consoling consideration, that all power was not delivered unto him. But, what am I considered in my single self? To me, as an individual, I am not solicitous to draw your attention; 'tis to your redeeming God I supplicate you to look, and my astonishment is inexpressibly great, to hear a preacher of Christ Jesus, of him who died to save the people from their sins, positively assert, that God never loved any sinner before the sinner first loved him. Are there not many Christians in this congregation, who would gladly have accepted the challenge he so boldly gave, had they not been fearful of producing disorder? I sympathized with you at the moment, and I rejoice that we can now accept the challenge.
Yes, indeed, we can do more; we can produce not only a single instance, but a plurality of instances, to prove the love of the Creator prior to that of the creature. The Apostle affirms, "we love him, because he first loved us." We and us, signify more than one; he does not say, I love him, because he first loved me; neither doth he say, God loved us, because we first loved him.
If this reverend gentleman can prove that he first loved God, he will be entitled to the thanks of his Creator, for, saith the great Master, "if ye love them that love you, what thanks have you? Thus, I repeat, if he can make it appear to our God, that he first loved him, He, from whose judgment there is no appeal, will acknowledge him entitled to thanks. For my own part, assured as I am that I cannot be beforehand with my Creator in this respect, I am not entitled to his thanks; but being assured that he loved me before the foundation of the world, and that not in word only, he has my soul's unfeigned thanks, and I anticipate with holy rapture the felicity of that eternity, which I shall spend in praise and thanksgiving. Herein is the love of God, not that we loved
him, but that he loved us, and gave himself for us. And again, first general Epistle of John, iv. 10: "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Paul scems decided in his opinion, Romans v. 7, 8, he says, "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die : yet peradventure, for a good man, some would even dare to die.
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." O, how infinite is the love of God!
"O Love divine! O Love beyond degree!
The offended dies, to set the offenders free!"
Yes, indeed, and in truth, as the husbandman loves his harvest so well as to purify it, and gather it into his granary, and that for his own sake so, be it known to all whom it may concern, that not for your sakes do I do this, saith the Lord, but for mine own name sake, nor will I give my glory to another.
There is more in the name of God than imagination, in its utmost latitude, can conjecture. It is a name that contains salvation. God will do much for the honour of his name. I have this day been accused of blasphemy, merely for quoting a text of scripture. But, when my accuser assays to prove the eternity of hell-torments, from the consideration that those torments not only enhance, but constitute the joys of the blessed, I must be excused if I appeal to benevolence, to reason, to the heart of the genuine Christian, for a decision on the question to which of us the charge of blasphemy righteously belongs.
Suppose the family of some father to consist of six children; and suppose this father possessed the power to render them all lovely, amiable, good, and happy; yet, notwithstanding this his. acknowledged power, he not only allows in two of those children, a most malignant disposition, but he absolutely cultivates and cherishes it; and as he is sensible that the torture of their brethren, constitutes their greatest happiness, he indulges them by perpetually holding the whip in his hand, with which he constantly lashes he other four in a most unrelenting, barbarous manner; avowing his design to repeat his strokes, as long as he shall possess the power to afflict children, who derive their existence from him, after the same manner of their two malicious brethren!-would you not be ready to say, this same father would be more rationally employed in whipping the two, whose inclinations were so strangely depraved,
into a better temper of mind? But, I feel pleasure in the assurance, that the children of God, even in this imperfect state, are more benign in their dispositions. I have not the vanity to suppose the gentleman to whom we have been attending has a very great affection for your humble servant, and yet I do not believe it would add greatly to his happiness even in this present state, to see me tost by fiends, or struggling in a sea of liquid fire during the space of a single year.
But, if it be true, as our reverend preacher asserts, that the destruction of hell would be the destruction of heaven! his heaven, poor gentleman, is based on a very precarious foundation, for the God of truth hath declared in the prophecy of Isaiah, Death shall be swallowed up of victory. O, Death, saith the Lord, I will be thy plague! O Grave, or Hell, I will be thy destruction! Where, permit me to ask, is the perpetuity of this gentleman's heaven, and the heaven of the rest of the little flock, when, as in Revelations, xx. 14, “Death and hell shall be cast into the lake of fire?” If what he who sat on the throne said, be true, viz. “there shall be no more pain ;" then, it seems, there can be no more pleasure, for our preacher and the little flock with which he may be connected.
But, blessed be God, this consideration will not then, even to the little flock, be productive of pain; for there shall be no more pain. Misery and destruction will not then be in their paths, they will then know the way of peace, they will then see in reality what John saw in vision: "Every creature in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, yea, all of them, saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever."
Surely it will be acknowledged, that more credence is due to him who sat on the throne, than to the testimony of any subordinate being.
Permit me again to ask, why is our preacher so greatly shocked by passages of scripture? and why am I made a blasphemer, for quoting the sayings which are to be found in the word of our God? I have, I repeat, said no more than what the Apostles have said before me; I have not only given their ideas, but their language. Little did our Apostle conceive, that in after times there should arise a sect of Christians who should style him a holy Apostle, and after that pronounce what he declared to the people unto whom he preached, to be blasphemy! I really felt for a clergyman so little
acquainted with holy writ, as to be able to challenge an assembly of Christians to produce a single instance from the book of God, in which Christ Jesus was said to be cursed for sinners! Who could accuse his fellow mortal of blasphemy, of horrid blasphemy, for thus asserting?
An honest disciple of our common Lord rose at the moment, to set the preacher right, but, to prevent confusion, I prevailed upon him to relinquish his purpose.
Yet, we will now take leave to set him right, that if he should in future undertake to become a champion in behalf of unbelievers, he may, previous thereto, carefully examine Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, where, in chap. iii. 13, he will find the blasphemous declaration, which sounded so horrid in his ears. He will hear the Apostle declaring the same blasphemy. Thus it is worded:
"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on on a tree."
But, this gentleman seems to speak as if admitting the fulness, and freeness of the salvation preached, but pronounces us very erroneous in not recurring to the conditions!! Freeness and fulness, and yet clogged with conditions!! May not this be considered as a solecism in speech? It is true that peace into which every individual of the human family shall ultimately enter, consequent upon the perfect righteousness, finished, atonement, and complete redemption, exemplified, wrought out, and rendered in, by the head of every man, depends upon a condition. We must become believers, before we can enter into rest; until this period we are condemned or damned; the law condemns us, our own sense of right and wrong, or in other words, our own conscience condemns us; from all which we are saved by believing: but as every be liever was once an unbeliever, so every unbeliever will finally enter into the knowledge of that truth which bringeth salvation.
The good and sensible chief magistrate, who filled the governmental chair in this state, at the period adverted to, would have disdained a proclamation of the description to which we have attended. He well knew that no man by taking thought could add one cubit to his stature; he was aware that no man, by any exertion he could make, was capable of changing the colour of a single hair, and he strikingly evinced his philanthropy by his reply to the military, who solicited for some pieces of artillery, to take with
them to the scene of action-"I will grant them," said he, "but on one condition, that they shall not be used for the destruction of our fellow-men." No, certainly, the then Governor would not have issued a proclamation which should have demanded impossibilities, which should have required men to have transformed themselves from black to white, or white to black, to add an inch to their height, or to change the contour of their features; and yet, a man can as easily make himself six feet high, turn his light or auburn hair to black, and new cast his nose in the Roman mould, as he can perform the conditions upon which salvation in his own right depends. Nor is this an irrational assertion; for surely we can more easily change the body, which is momently subjected to our observation, than the soul, which eludes our most diligent research. Indeed, we are assured by our most orthodox divines, that it is not in man to will, nor to do; nay, could we both will and do, what would it avail, when after all, we are taught to say we are unprofitable servants ?
But, blessed be God, there never was any such condition annexed to the gospel declaration; we are not authorized, while preaching the gospel, to propose terms to helpless man. The gospel is a proclamation of glad tidings, of good things to every sinner. If the sinner believes, his felicity is unspeakable; if he does not, he remains in darkness, condemnation, damnation; but the truth of God remains a truth, whether he believes it or not. It does not depend upon his belief, it is firm, and unchangeble as its omnipotent Author: and, as we have repeatedly said, a period shall arrive, when every individual taught of God shall of necessity believe. Did our ultimate felicity depend upon ourselves, we should indeed be wretched. Divines of the last century positively asserted, that if a single good thought could purchase heaven, that single good thought we could not command. When people talk of conditions, gospel conditions, I conceive they need the teachings of that spirit, which taketh of the things of Jesus and sheweth them unto the soul.
I regret the necessity there seems to be of trespassing upon the patience of this very respectable audience; yet, circumstanced as I am, can I hear myself thus publicly denounced, without at least attempting an answer? I am styled an impostor, a deceiver; I have been assigned a place in the infernal regions, and my howlings in that abode of wretchedness has been anticipated: yet, this were a trifle, if the testimony of the world's Saviour were not traduced.