« הקודםהמשך »
warrant would be signed. They passed the winter in tears and supplications, and just before the expiration of the appointed time, the woman obtained peace, where there was no peace, that is in herself. She delayed not to communicate the glad tidings to her minister, who confirmed her in the persuasion that she was a convert, and now a child of God, and that her efforts had secured an interest in Christ Jesus !
But the poor man continued in a state of reprobation, and with inexpressible horror of mind he completed his fortieth year. He attended a lecture, which about that time I delivered in this place, and it pleased God to show hin the truth as it is in Jesus; that the Redeemer died for his sins and rose again for his justification. He was in raptures, and eager to bring his companion, into an acquaintance with the same grace and truth, but she is impressed with an idea that he is given over to a reprobate mind, to strong delusions, that he may believe a lie, and that nothing but a miracle of divine grace can rescue him from everlasting damnation ; thus believing, she is of course wretched, and her misery is in exact proportion to the affection she bears her husband, while she is labouring by prayers and tears to produce the miracle which she hopes will effectuate his salvation.
We may lament, but we cannot alter. We, howerer, faithfully expect the coming of him, who shall rectify every disorder.
I find many heads of families in this place, in a situation similar to this gentleman. They are made unhappy, by those devout and honourable women, who are exceeding zealous in their opposition to truth.
I preached last evening to a large congregation, upon the first Psalm, and afterwards met a circle of worshippers, who assemble together in the spirit of the gospel; we were consoled and edified, and I had an opportunity of rectifying some errors, which hath insensibly mingled with the truth of God. The devices of the grand adversary are manifold. Blessed be God, they will finally turn upon his own head.
There are, as I said, a vast many serious inquirers in this place, and there is much to do here : I am, I assure you, constantly employed, and I greatly rejoice, that my Saviour is making use of me to open the understanding of those, who, as the election, are appointed to obtain, what, for wise reasons, is at present hidden from the rest of the world. Inquirers are frequently confounded, to find the objections which, in the language of revelation, they so exultingly propose, prove, upon investigation, positive evidences in our favour.
A clergyman has arrived from a neighbouring town, armed with pride, and prejudice, for the express purpose of silencing me. I expect him every moment. I am told I ought to prepare for much ill treatment. I hope I shall not be provoked to speak unadvisediy with my lips. 0! that on these occasions we could be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Apprized as I am, of the character of my opponent, I shall be unpardonable if I be not upon this occasion on my guard.
I confess I do not, on any occasion, wish to meet, or converse with any of these gentlemen ; few of them have exercised candour or good nature toward me; prejudice hath blinded them. But I pray God that the weapons of my warfare may be spiritual, not carnal; may I, upon all these occasions, never forget what I myself once was ; may I remember who hath compassion on the ignorant, and those who are out of the way. May I meet this gentleman, should he persist in his resolution, as a disciple of the meek and lowly Jesus.
My discourse upon the first Psalm has disappointed many; some are angry, that I did not preach my principles, that I described the blessed man precisely as other ministers would have done. But this they impute to my cunning; degrading phrase. Others say, that they heard me patiently, until I came to show that Christ Jesus was the alone blessed man; that it was he, and he only, who never had walked in the council of the ungodly, never had been found standing in the way of sinners, nor setting in the seat of the scornful; when they were exceeding mad, and departed in a great rage.
I am told great fears are now entertained relative to the prevalence of what they call heresy; formerly it was believed that it came into this country with me and would die with me. It is not wonderful they are thus alarmed; when I first came into America there was not a single preacher, hardly a hearer, who had any idea of the true Christ the Saviour of the world; now believers are multiplied and churches are founded : Yes, yes, the knowledge of the salvation of God will grow exceedingly.
This same clergyman has changed his purpose! Ever since I was last here he has been complaining that lie could not meet me. Wish
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ing for an opportunity, and declaring how readily he could confound me, he has entered the town ; but his heart failing him, he has returned as he came.
I think it will give you satisfaction to learn that I am diligently einployed in the service of my Divine Master; that I feel his presence; that I in some measure see the pleasure of the Lord prosper in my hands, and that my soul is satisfied therewith. It is in this confidence, that from time to time I inform you where and when I speak to the blood-bought inheritance in the name of their Redeemer; and it is for this reason I occasionally sketch for you my subject and its effect.
I finished last evening the subject I began the day before, and the congregation was as usual large and attentive. After meeting a respectable company assembled at my lodgings, before whom, agrecably to their desire, I dwelt upon the hatred of God to one brother and his love to the other; and upon that passage which declares some shall rise to the resurrection of life, and some to the resurrection of damnation. An inquirer also introduced that remarkable portion of sacred writ, where our Lord expressly says, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me before men, of him will I be ashamed before my Father and his holy angels."
I endeavoured, according to the small acquaintance our Saviour was pleased to give me with his divine word, to illumine and satisfy the minds of my friends with respect to each of these particulars; and I believe they were generally satisfied.
A Mr. F-, however, asked the following question.
Mr. F. Pray, Sir, does the Bible contain a single text, which justifies the idea of any person quitting this world in a state of unbelief, and becoming a believer in the next?
11. Did you never read any such text in the Bible, Sir? Mr. F. No; I declare I never did.
M. Did you never read—“I said you shall die in your sins, and if you die in your sins, where I am you cannot come ?"
Mr. F. O yes; and many more passages to the same purpose.
M. What greater proof can you require that mankind will hereafter know, and knowing believe, what they neither know, nor believe in the present state ; seeing it is written, they shall all know me from the least to the greatest ; and to know God is life eternal ? Again, they shall all be taught of God, and all who learneth of the Father cometh unto me. However, if these passages be not sufficiently direct, let us inquire of the Psalmist. Psalm xxii. 27, 28, 29:
“ All the ends of the world shall remember, and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
“For the kingdom is the Lord's: and he is the Governor among the nations.
“All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him.”
But in the present state the nations forget God, they have not the knowledge of God in all their ways, they do not worship before God while here; and if we know they do not do it here, and believe that they will not, they cannot hereafter; then it follows, that we know and are persuaded God can lie !! But, again, 1 Peter, iii. 18, 19, 20:
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit:
“ By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison ;,
“Which sometimes were disobedient, when once the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing."
Here was a whole world of unbelievers, who not only went out of the world in a state of unbelief, but were imprisoned in the same state for upwards of two thousand years. But, although the preaching of Noah could not convert them while in the body, the preaching of the spirit of Jesus could when out of the body.
If it were necessary to add any thing by way of proof or illustration, to testimonies so very clear and full as the foregoing, I should beg your attention to the words of our Saviour, when he says, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
I am aware that there are some, who under the influence of the spirit of the arch-deceiver, believe there are infants consigned to eternal torment; yet I never heard of any individual who had the boldness to affirm, that every infant must be eternally damned. Yet, if no human being can obtain life eternal without the knowl. edge of God, and if all these little human beings have not the knowl. edge of God in the present state, as it is notorious they have not the knowledge either of good or evil; and if there be no knowledge of God, save what is communicated to the soul while in the body, then not some infants only, but every infant and ideot that ever came into this world, with almost all the rest of the human race, from the beginning of the world, will be banished from the presence
of the Father of their spirits, and bestowed upon that malignant adversary of God and man, who was a murderer from the beginning, making use of every device to destroy the creature which the faithful Creator made for his glory, and that creature's good.
But, if nothing more be necessary to complete the eternal damnation of individuals of the human family, than to usher them into the world and let them pass out again without that knowledge, which none but God can communicate, then I think it is quite unnecessary for the adversary to go about like a roaring lion seeking to destroy, since God himself will do his work by leaving the much greater part, almost the whole of the human race in possession of this arch-fiend, when only by discovering himself to the soul, that breath of life, which is an emanation from his blessed self, he might secure the felicity of the being, confessedly created body and soul by himself. But of such a faith as this, surely none but the infernal foe of God and man could be the author.
I waited some time for a reply, but received none; and we concluded the evening with a song of praise to the Saviour of the world, and an earnest address to him in behalf of all mankind.
Ever since breakfast I have been engaged with a grey-headed gentleman, who came twelve miles to hear, and see, and converse with me: as he appeared very sincere, I could not refuse to gratify him as far as I was able ; but I am really weary.
I preached last night on the last verse of the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah :
“ Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors: and he bare the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
After lecture, numbers assembled at the house of Mr. P; I was much exhausted, and fearful that more questions would be put than I should have strength of lungs 10 answer: but I was happily relieved by a Mr. I, a member of the General Court, who took up a considerable portion of time, in narrating his experiences. Thus he began :
Mr. L. Well, Sir, I have heard you this evening with inexpres sible pleasure'; but what shall we do when you are gone?