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and then shall the end come,” Matt. xxiv. 14. I believe, if you and I were to travel throughout the heathen world, where they are destitute of the word of God, we should never be able to find a soul converted to Christ; nor do I read that Paul found one in all his travels.
Ahimaaz. I think that in some things thou art rather too contracted, my brother; for my part, I would wish ever to possess an open and catholic spirit. I have observed many things in thy conversation that discover an unbecoming narrowness.
Paul tells us that we should not be straitened in our bowels; and he speaks unto us as to his children, that we should be enlarged, 2 Cor. vi. 12, 13. It was a sweet spirit that God gave Solomon; it is said that he gave him “ largeness of heart, as the sand that is upon the sea shore,” i Kings iv. 29. And this is what Jabez, that eminent saint of God, prayed for; that God would bless him indeed, and enlarge his coast, 1 Chron. iv. 10; and I hope God will favour thee with the same, my brother, for indeed a narrow, contracted, bigoted spirit is a very bad one.
Cushi. I am much obliged to thee; but there are several expressions of thine which I object to. I have often thought that Moses himself
, if he was upon earth in our day, would be accused of a narrow spirit; for he declares to an audience of six hundred thousand souls, “ Ye have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land; the great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles; yet the Lord hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear,
unto this day. And I have led you forty years in the wilderness,” Deut. xxix. 2-5. : This part of Moses's doctrine would be censured in the present day as the effects of a contracted spirit; and certainly it differed much from the universal spirit of Korah, Abiram, and Dathan; for though Moses declared Israel to be blind, ignorant, and insensible, yet they declared them all sanctified in the presence of God, and warmly rebuked the bigotry of Moses and Aaron: for " they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them; wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord ?". Numb. xvi. 3. The contracted sermon of Moses differs widely from the declaration of this catholic company. Moses declares them blind and insensible these declare them all holy, and God's presence among them: but it happened with them according to the wise man's saying, “ There is a just man (as they supposed themselves to be) that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man (as they supposed Moses) that prolongeth his life in his wickedness, Eccles. vii. 15; and so it happened here; for Moses outlived Korah and all his company. They perished from the congregation with all their candour; they went into the pit alive with all that they had; while Moses, with his contracted spirit, died at the mouth of the Almighty; or, as it might be rendered, without offering any violence to the text, God kissed him to death.
Jesus Christ himself was viewed as one of a contracted spirit, when he told the Nazarenes that“ many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, but to none of them was Elias sent but to Sarepla, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them were cleansed, saving. Naaman the Syrian. These sovereign and discriminating acts of God appeared to the Saviour's audience as the effects of a contracted spirit, and therefore they were determined to break his neck: “ And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong,” Luke iv. 25-29. But the. Scribes and Pharisees were of a more catholic spirit; for they excommunicated none unless he confessed the true faith of Christ : “For the Jews had agreed already that, if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue,” John ix. 22. Nor did the Pharisees presume to anathematize any but the real elect of God: “ This people that know not the law are cursed, John vii. 49. You see these open catholic clergy admitted all to their communion except the Saviour and his few chosen followers. So the devil had full possession of the synagogues, while the rulers and scribes defended their sire, and stuck to his counsel : “ Have
of the rulers believed on him?" John vii. 48. No, they adhered to their own progenitor; and it was not without cause that the Saviour said unto them, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father
will do,” John viii. 44. Ahimaaz. You are got quite into irony, my brother; there was no call for such a tart reply. I only meant that Christians should judge charitably,
and not entertain too contracted an opinion of a very few being saved; and by an open and catholic spirit I mean that we should love all ranks of professing people, though they differ from us in doctrines and worship: we should spread a mantle of love over their errors where we have reason to believe that the root of the matter is in them.
Cushi. I desire to love all that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth. This is the love that Paul possessed; he loved all that loved our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth; and if they love Christ sincerely, the root of the matter is in them; and if they love him in truth, then they will not differ from us in doctrine. The soul that loves Christ in truth will not stand in need of thy mantle to cover his errors, for love is the root of all real evangelical obedience; while, on the other hand, enmity is the root of all rebellion; and, although a young believer cannot see eye to eye with an old one, yet he will not fight against any truth that is brought from the word of God: love will produce the obedience of faith: “ Charity believeth all things.” The soul that opposes any plain truth does not love Christ in truth, nor in sincerity, because he is not obedient. The new creation is full as uniform as the the old; God did not send man into the world to walk about without a head; nor does he create a soul anew without giving him an understanding: “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding," i John v. 20. God has not only promised the spirit of love, but he has promised the spirit of a sound mind also. I have heard people talk of persons being evangelists in heart, though legal in judgment; but Christ tells us that
I am a
we are to know the heart by that which proceeds from it; if so, an erroneous judgment proves a rotten heart.
My reason for answering thee so sharply is, because I have heard so much of late about an open catholic spirit, that it seems to be a cant word, that stands for any thing or nothing. We have many
in our days who seem to be very open in their sermons, crying out, 'Come all; Jesus stands with open arms to receive you; roll yourselves upon him; my soul for yours if he casts you out.'
And yet the men who preach this universal gospel are so incensed at the cordial reception of a returning prodigal, that they would rob him of his kid, and stop his mouth from declaring what God has done for his soul. living witness of this truth, and so are thousands more, Their resentment has run so high, that the entreaties of the Father of all mercies is not sufficient to bring them into an acquiescence with his sovereign display of discriminating grace. It appears as if they would have been better pleased if he had perished in his own deceivings, than they are at the Father's receiving him safe and sound.
Now Moses was of a different spirit from these; for, although his doctrine was nothing like theirs in latitude, yet his heart was as wide as their sermons. When a young man ran and told Moses, saying, « Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camps, and Joshua said, My lord Moses, forbid them;" his open reply was, “ Enviest thou for my sake? I would to God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that he would put his Spirit upon them,” Numb. xi. 27—29. If this be an open spirit in reality, how