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that lie in my way; that I may be crucified with Christ, and live a hidden life by faith in him who loved me, and gave himself for me.
August 31, 1757. I WISH you much of that spirit which was in the apostle, which made him content to become all things to all men, that he might gain some. I am persuaded, that love and humility are the highest attainments in the school of Christ, and the briglitest evidences that he is indeed our master.
should seem inclined to treat you with less regard, because you are or have been a Methodist teacher, you will find forbearance, meekness, and long-suffering, the most prevailing means to conquer their prejudices. Our Lord has not only taught us to expect persecution from the world, though · this alone is a trial too hard for flesh and blood; but we must look for what is much more grievous to a renewed mind, to be in some respects slighted, censured, and misunderstood, even by our Christian brethren ; and that, perhaps, in cases where we are really striving to promote the glory of God and the good of souls, and cannot, without the reproach of our consciences, alter our conduct, however glad we should be to have their approbation. Therefore we are required, not only to resist the world, the flesh, and the devil, but likewise to bear one another's burdens; which plainly intimates there will be something to be borne with on all hands;
and liappy indeed is he that is not offended. You
may observe what unjust reports and surmises were received, even at Jerusalem, concerning the apostle Paul; and it seems he was condemned unheard, and that by many thousands too, Acts, xxi. 20, 21.; but we do not find he was at all ruffled, or that he sought to retort any thing upon them, though doubtless, had he been so disposed, he might have found something to have charged them with in his turn; but he calmly and willingly complied with every thing in his power to soften and convince them. Let us be followers of this pattern, so far as he was a follower of Christ; for even Christ pleased not himself. How did he bear with the mistakes, weakness, intemperate zeal, and imprudent proposals, of his disciples while on earth; and how does he bear with the same things from you and me, and every one of his followers now? and do we, can we, think much to bear with each other for his sake? Have we all a full remission of ten thousand talents which we owed him, and were utterly unable to pay, and do we wrangle amongst ourselves for a few pence? God forbid!
If you should be numbered among the regular Independents, I advise you not to offend
you not to offend any of them by unnecessary singularities. I wish you not to part with any truth, or with any thing really expedient; but if the omitting any thing of an indifferent nature will obviate prejudices, and increase a mutual confidence, why should not so easy a sacrifice be made? Above all, my dear friend, let us keep close to the Lord in a way of prayer: he giveth wisdom that is profitable to direct; he is the wonderful counsellor; there is no teacher like him. Why do the living seek to the dead? why do we weary our friends and ourselves, in running up and
down, and turning over books for advice? If we shut our eyes upon the world and worldly things, and raise our thoughts upwards in humility and silence, should we not often hear the secret voice of the Spirit of God whispering to our hearts, and pointing out to us the way of truth and peace? Have we not often gone astray, and hurt either ourselves or our brethren, for want of attending to this divine instruction? Have we not sometimes mocked God, by pretending to ask direction from him, when we had fixed our determination beforehand ? It is a great blessing to know that we are sincere; and next to this, to be convinced of our insincerity, and to pray against it.
I am, &c.
November 21, 1757. CAN
you forgive so negligent a correspondent? I am indeed ashamed; hut (if that is any good excuse) I use you no worse than
other friends. Whenever I write, I am obliged to begin with an apology; for what with business, and the incidental duties of every day, my time is always mortgaged before it comes into my hands, especially as I have so little skill in redeeming and improving it. I long to hear from you, and I long to see you; and indeed, from the terms of
I expected you here before this ; which has been partly a cause of my delay. I have mislaid your letter, and cannot remember the particulars; in general, I remember you were well, and going on comfortably in your work; which was matter of joy to me; and my poor prayers are for you, that the Lord may own and prosper you more and more. The two great points we are called to pursue in this sinful divided world, are peace and holiness: I hope you are much in the study of them. These are the peculiar characteristics of a disciple of Jesus; they are the richest part of the enjoyments of heaven; and so far as they are received into the heart, they bring down heaven upon earth; and they are more inseparably connected between themselves than some of us are aware of. The longer I live, the more I see of the vanity and the sinfulness of our unchristian disputes: they eat up the very vitals of religion. I grieve to think how often I have lost my time and my temper that way, in presuming to regulate the vineyards of others, when I have neglected my own; when the beam in my own eye has so contracted my sight, that I could discern nothing but the mote in my neighbour's. I am now desirous to choose a better part. Could I speak the publican's words with a proper feeling, I wish not for the tongue of men or angels to fight about notions or sentiments. I allow that every branch of Gospel-truth is precious, that errors are abounding, and that it is our duty to bear an honest testimony to what the Lord has enabled us to find comfort in, and to instruct with meekness such as are willing to be instructed; but I cannot see it my duty, nay, I believe it would be my sin, to attempt to beat my
notions into other people's heads. Too often I have attempted it in time past; but I now judge, that both my zeal and my weapons were carnal. When our dear Lord
questioned Peter, after his fall and recovery, he said not, Art thou wise, learned, and eloquent? nay, he said not, Art thou clear, and sound, and orthodox ? but this
only, “Lovest thou me?” An answer to this was sufficient then, why not now? Any other answer we may believe would have been insufficient then. If Peter had made the most pompous confession of his faith and sentiments, still the first question would have recurred, “ Lovest thou me?” This is a Scripture-precedent. Happy the preacher, whoever he be, my heart and my prayers are with him, who can honestly and steadily appropriate Peter's answer! Such a man, I
I ready to hear, though he should be as much mistaken in some points as Peter afterwards appears to have been in others. What a pity it is, that Christians in succeeding ages should think the constraining force of the love of Christ too weak, and suppose the end better answer. ed by forms, subscriptions, and questions of their own devising! I cannot acquit even those churches who judge themselves nearest the primitive rule in this respect: alas! will-worship and presumption may creep into the best external forms. But the misfortune, both in churches and private Christians is, that we are too prone rather to compare ourselves with others, than to judge by the Scriptures; and while each can see that they give not into the errors and mistakes of the opposite party, both are ready to conclude that they are right: and thus it happens, that an attachment to a supposed Gospel-order will recommend a man sooner and farther to some churches, than an eminency of Gospel-practice. I hope you will beware of such a spirit whenever you publicly assume the Independent character: this, like a worm at the root, has nipt the graces, and hindered the usefulness, of many a valuable man; and those who change sides and opinions are the most liable to it. For the pride of our heart insensibly prompts us to cast about far and near for arguments to justify our own be