« הקודםהמשך »
How much to be admired is the providence of our God! Shall I ever hesitate to own that his hand is with me in all my ways, that he guides me by his counsel, and that my way is in him, and not in myself? I may as well doubt whether he will ever receive me into his glorious presence; but how many times will the wonderworking God display his wisdom and power, before unbelief is done
I have accompanied my kind host and hostess to their place of worship, and heard their preacher declaim on the words of our Saviour: “ But I say unto you, love your enemies, do good to them that hate
pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you." This he assured his audience was the duty of Chris. tians, and if they did not thus do, they had no right to expect any thing but that the dreadful sentence should be pronounced upon them, which was most tremendous even in prospect.
Thus, if we do not prove ourselves friends of God, by doing all that he commanded, he will neither love nor pray for us, but despitefully use, and persecute us; and yet his precept is at variance with his example, for he enjoins on us, lost, depraved sinners, a contrary mode of conduct, actions worthy of a God and which asks the attributes of perfection. Thus the people are taught, and thus they believe.
I have by request preached on the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew, in the meeting in which the minister usually preaches, who treated me in so serpentine a manner on Friday evening last. The concurrence of the committee was obtained, and a vast multitude of people assembled, listening with fixed attention, to what I was enabled to say upon the subject pointed out to me. You will recollect what passed between the minister of the meeting and myself, on this twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew; he had himself taken hold of this chapter, and represented my ideas in a very ridiculous point of view, never calculating that I should have an opportunity of preaching to the same people, upon the same subject; and least of all, did he expect I should preach in the same pulpit, on the same subject, to the same hearers, so very soon after he had delivered his distorted misrepresentations of me, and my exposition. He came into the meting-house, not into the pulpit nor into his own family pew, but into a pew directly before me, where he could look me full in the face, and this he did not fail to do. It
appears he calculated upon looking me out of countenance, but he ! did not succeed.
I confess when I discovered his design, I very sincerely wished him out of the house. But I soon felt, as if he had not been present, which was what I ardently desired; there is no pleasure in cherishing resentment against a fellow creature. And God was, upon this occasion graciously pleased to give me great self-command, my mind was calm, and unruffled, my ideas clear, my utterance free, the subject glorious, the people silent, and my spirits uncommonly elevated. I sometimes glanced my eye on my enemy, but it was only a glance. I beheld him agitated and pale, but this afforded me no pleasure ; I said nothing with an intention of adding to his sufferings, and I had the satisfaction to anticipate the era, when, separated from every evil, we should together worship him, who should pronounce us the blessed of his Father.
This city will no doubt be this day in an uproar; these things are so new to the people of this place, there will be for, and against, and no doubt much confusion. Well, so it was in the beginning, and so it must be, wherever the truth is proclaimed. I am, however, persuaded, there will be a considerable number in this city, who will see the truth as it is in Jesus, and opposition will never retard the growth of divine knowledge. Many are earnest to, know all that can be said in favour of a testimony, which they do mie the honour to designate as mine. They will not be under the dominion of any man ; they will be free ; and some, no doubt, will obtain emancipation, but much the greater number will still love darkness rather than light, and will hate to come into the light, lest their deeds should be reproved.
I was so long engaged in my exposition of this oft cited chapter, that I had not sufficient light to read the last hymn; I regretted that I had not, it was a hyinn from Doctor Watts, and as much to the purpose, as if written for the occasion. It is the 96th hymn of the 2d part. How very pertinent the ad verse :
“Down from the top of earthly bliss,
We sang the first and second part of the 98th Psalm. How strong the third verse of the second Psalm :
“No more let sins nor sorrows grow,
And the next verse :
“He rules the world with truth and grace,
But the people can sing these songs of praise with safety, well knowing, or at least confidently believing, the poet himself did not believe what he penned.
There is a young gentleman in the house, of the true Pharisaic character; he is a son of Yale College, pious to a proverb, and a candidate for heaven in his own right. I resided here many days before he would open his lips to me 'at all. But yesterday, with tremulous voice, and much agitation, he drew from his pocket a piece of paper, on which was written many passages of scripture
-“ What, Sir, can you make of this, and this, and this?" I spoke to this young man with great tenderness; he was timid and fearful. But I conceive my efforts produced little or no effect. I left him, I believe, nearly as blind as I found him. How frequently does the following passage of scripture recur with great force to my mind : “No man can know the things of God but by the spirit of God.”
This young gentleman was succeeded by another, also a son of Yale College, and now a resident graduate, studying Divinity under the wing of his Alma mater. He wished to converse with me in a friendly manner, and seemed quite conscious of his importance as a student of Divinity.
Student. I have called upon you, Mr. Murray, to obtain light.
S. Will you indulge me with the privilege of mentioning a passage or two of scripture?
M. Assuredly, Sir.
S. I read, Sir, in the 17th chapter of John, that Jesus Christ prayed not for the world, and he says, “Of all that thou hast given
me I have lost none, save the son of perdition."
What do you think of these passages, Sir?
M. I will tell you, young man, what I think of those passages, and of you. I think the 17th chapter of John is the word of God, and I think it contains salvation. But you, Sir, being blinded by the God of this world, and looking only for damnation, do not see it. If you did, you would know that our Saviour's receiving from God the son of perdition, and losing him, was the salvation of all mankind.
S. But, Sir, how could the eternal damnation of Judas, be the salvation of all mankind ?
M. It could not ; nor were the scriptures fulfilled in the loss of Judas ; but the sacred promises which make so large a part of scripture are gloriously fulfilled in the loss of the son of perdition.
S. Was not Judas the son of perdition ?
M. If you ask the apostle Paul, he will inform you who the son of perdition is.
S. I can ask his master, and he will tell me, that it had been better for that man he had never been born.
M. And do you really think the master is in opposition to the servant ? No, Sir, they both spake the words of truth and sober.
you do not yield credit to either. S. Yes, I do; I confidently believe, that it would have been better for that man that he had never been born, which if he could ever have had an interest in Christ Jesus, could not truly have been said.
M. You say, Sir, you believe Christ Jesus. Suffer me to put your belief to the test. Do you think that such as he hath chosen out of the many who are called, will be saved ?
S. Yes, Sir.
M. Do you think that such whose names are written in heaven will be everlastingly saved ?
S. Yes, Sir.
M. Do you think that they who shall be seated on thrones judge ing the twelve tribes of Israel will be saved ?
11. When you said that Judas was eternally lost, that he never could be saved.
S. I say so still, Sir.
M. That you do not believe God. For God our Saviour declares, that he had chosen the twelve, and that they should set on thrones judging Israel, that their names were written in heaven, and that the blood of the covenant was shed for them, for all of them. Now if you
believe what God said, that it had been better for that man he had never been born, how is it you do not believe that he shall set on a throne, and that his name is written in heaven?
S. Why, Sir, this is a proof that it cannot be true; for if it would have been better for him that he had never been born, he cannot be seated on a throne, nor his name written in heaven; as in that case, it would have been better he should have been born.
M. What, Sir, do you prove Jesus Christ a liar, and that it is impossible he can speak truth in both places ?
S. Why, Sir, I cannot see what you can make of it?
M. I can prove my Saviour to be the God of truth, Sir; and if you will reflect, you will know, that all that God asserts must of necessity be true. You will know that the purchase of his blood may, and can be saved, without being born.
S. Ha! ha! ha!
M. Sir, these are inquiries which ought not to excite ridicule ; your youth and inexperience, however, entitle you to allowance, to commiseration, yet I would advise you to give to subjects so important your most serious consideration.
I am interrupted. A letter* is put into my hand from the clergyman, with whom I conversed on Friday evening, containing a number of passages from the sacred oracles. The words of my Creator will never appal my soul. I am in the good hands of this Divine Creator, and I have had opportunities enough to know, that God's ways are not as my ways, but as much better, as the heavens are higher than the earth. I inclose the above mentioned letter, you will read it here, and then the following copy of my answer:
* The letter itself was inclosed to my correspondent; it is now lost, and if it were to be found perhaps we should not be justified in publishing it. Its contents may be gathered from the answer.