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gladdening wine; his righteousness alone being the blessed grapes, produced by the true vine; his divinely satisfying sufferings, the precious fruit of the fig tree; and it is when we are taught by this true spirit, that we shall set under our own vine, and our own fig tree, none making us afraid.
The spiritual task masters wonder they are not able to make us afraid; that when they thunder out the curses of the divine law, we do not tremble.
They know not that we are reposing under the shadow of our mighty rock, in this very weary land; and that our acquaintance with the perfect love of God, has most effectually cast out all our
I have been once more looking over your extract from Hervey's letters, "Sin," says he, "is a thing that is not, &c." What could be this honest philanthrophic man's reflection, when he penned this glorious truth? He could not possibly think as he spoke. The paragraph in which this sentence is found, contains as full a display of gospel grace as was ever written by Paul, or Relly, and yet Mr. Hervey speaks of sin as still in being, and as of eternal duration ! If the religious world were not fully convinced, that although hc frequently delivered sentiments perfectly in unison with Mr. Relly, yet neither his head, nor his heart, embraced those sentiments, they would not allow him the character of wise or good, they would not hold his writings in such high estimation. But they can bear with him, when he preaches the gospel, because they have the pleasure to think he does not believe it himself.
Application was once made by a gentleman of great respectability in the state of Rhode Island, to one of the rulers of a Presbyterian meeting-house, for permission to open it for me. "By no means," replied the elder. Why, Sir? "Because, Sir, he preaches false doctrine, and has so much devilish art in dressing it up, that multitudes are deceived by him."
Why, Sir, what docs he preach? "Preach, why, he says that Christ is all, and in all, Sc. &c." Well, my dear Sir, your own ministers make use of precisely the same language, you know they do. "Well, what then if they do, we know they do not believe it." Very true, Sir, we do know it; and if we were assured that Mr. Murray was equally false, equally faithless, we should find no difficulty in getting the house open for him upon any, and every occa; sion.
I am entirely of your opinion respecting Mr. Relly's Union, and am happy to find it has been greatly blest in this country. Our venerable friend, in one of his letters, informed me, if he were a younger man, he would join me in my mission in this country. In effect he has joined me; and although now dead, he yet speaketh, and he has effectuated more by his writings, than I could possibly do by my preaching: wherever these writings are known, they have been greatly blessed.
One part of your letter remains nanswered, and by way of response I have one more short conversation to transcribe; it was occasioned by the death of a malefactor, and handed me by a friend.
A. No, Sir, you have not taken the life of a fellow creature, but have you not murdered a reputation? It is true the laws of your country do not bring you to an ignominious death for this crime: but is not the weapon of the divine law equally pointed against you? The Psalmist says, "whoso slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off." And the apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans, chapter 1st, from the 28th verse to the close, thus associates the backbiter:
"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
"Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, coveteousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity: whisperers,
"Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
"Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.
"Who knowing the judgment of God, (that they which commit such things are worthy of death,) not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."
Thus we see in what a catalogue the backbiter and slanderer are found. Indeed it is a fact, that the law of God makes one crime as heinous as another, since they are all committed against the majesty of heaven, and equally merit the wrath, and curse of God. It is not said the soul that committeth murder shall die, exclusively, but simply, the soul that sinneth shall die; and an Apostle saith, "Know ye not, brethren, that he who keepeth the whole law, offending but in one point, is guilty of all." Why then should this poor unhappy sufferer, be in more danger than you?
B. But he did not repent; I believe he was a deist, nay, perhaps an atheist.
A. That I am sure was not the case, I can testify he would have given worlds he had not done this atrocious deed, and I am well persuaded he believed in Jesus Christ, or he could not have met his fate with so much meek composure.
B. O yes, he thought there would be no existence hereafter. A. Impossible; he could not have left the world with the blessed beam of hope irradiating his countenance, had he calculated upon annihilation. No idea is more abhorrent to human nature, than annihilation. But even now, you are as really breaking the commandI ment of your redeemer, as he who has so recently suffered for his transgression. You are judging, and the commandment expressly says, judge not. Truly, my friend, by the law of God we all deserve damnation, and if there be salvation for any, there must be for him. I supplicate Almighty God, that I may be forever preserved from the enormous crime he has committed, and the punishment he has endured; yet, I do say, I can conceive of no greater blessedness, this side heaven, than to die such a death as he died.
B. Then you think he had true repentance.
A. I think he had a true Saviour. It is not repentance that taketh away the sins of the world: it is the Lamb of God.
B. But could he, or any one else, be saved without faith and repentance?
A. No, nor with faith, and repentance, except they had it as perfect as the law of God requires, which perfection every lost sinner hath, as the free gift of God, in Jesus Christ.
B. Ay, that is Murray's doctrine.
A. You pay Mr. Murray a very great compliment, Sir, for assured
ly it is the doctrine which is found in the Bible.
B. No, it is the doctrine of Universal Salvation.
A. Universal Salvation clearly points out the merits of the life, death, and sufferings of the Saviour.
B. It is a very dangerous doctrine, Sir, I am sorry you have attended to such a preacher; you would do well not to attempt defending either him, or his principle.
A. I do not contemplate defending either. I am not skilled in disputation; I wish Mr. Murray was here, he would be able to defend himself. But if what you have advanced be a fact, that the doctrine delivered by that gentleman, is that Christ hath wrought
out a robe of righteousness for lost sinners, this doctrine will, I am convinced, defend itself.
B. Sir, it is a doctrine that leads to licentiousness.
A. Not a thousandth part so much as the doctrine of Calvin, which involves the idea of nearly universal damnation. Without love to God, and love to man, there can be no obedience at all, and what so likely to make us love God, as the assurance, that while we were yet sinners, he loved us, and gave himself for us?
What will so certainly attach us to our fellow men, as the knowledge that they were created and ransomed, and that they are still preserved, by the same Omnipotent Power, which upholdeth us, and that we are destined to spend an eternity together?
On the contrary, what doctrine is so likely to promote licentiousness, and enmity both against God and man, as that which teaches me I was probably destined by the powerful Being who created me, destined, even from the foundation of the world, to everlasting burnings? If God hateth a very large proportion of those individuals whom he hath called into existence, if it be true that he hath for his own pleasure elected but a small number to eternal life, consigning the rest to perdition; what reasoning can condemn me for setting at nought those whom God hath appointed to destruction ?
B. But is not the doctrine of election a scripture doctrine?
A. Assuredly, some are elected to the knowledge of the truth at one period, some at another; some are ordained messengers of glad tidings; these are the sealed, and the chosen, but afterwards, we hear of an innumerable company, and we are told that the promise is not only to the chosen, but to the called, even to as many as the Lord our God shall call. Yes, God electeth witnesses for himself. But the doctrine of election is perfectly consistent with the Saviour's tasting death for every man. The doctrine of election is one thing, it is assuredly a scripture doctrine, and the doctrine of reprobation is another. I do not believe the doctrine of reprobation to be a scripture doctrine. However, I confess I am not fully acquainted with the gospel system. I think, that Christ Jesus is a complete Saviour; this is all I know, and this is enough for me to know.
B. Aye, he is a complete Saviour to all who see their need of him. A. And most undoubtedly every individual in the world, will, sooner or later, see their need of this all-sufficient Saviour.
B. Aye, Murray's doctrine again.
A. Why, you will absolutely give that gentleman the credit of promulgating whatever may be denominated glad tidings. He is certainly very much obliged to you, Sir. Thus ended the confab.
And here, I think, I ought to end this tedious letter. It is not because I love writing, that I have thus enlarged, but I wish to converse with you, and I love to cultivate the acquaintance of real christian friends. Such, blessed be God, I have found not only here, but in that city, which I confess, is very dear to my heart.
I cannot for my soul, divest myself of local prejudices, and I am of course happy in being still able to number some christian friends in London.
I regret that while I had it in my power, I did not cultivate a personal acquaintance with those, who by the grace of God, had drank deep into the spirit of the gospel; but these opportunities are forever lost! and it only remains that I accept as a substitute, the letters of those friends: which solace, I humbly hope, I shall not be deprived of, while yet I am permitted to labour in the vineyard of my Saviour. As your heart pants for the success of the gospel of God the Redeemer, you will kindly continue to feel for, and refresh me by your consolatory communications, and in this cheering hope I will conclude, only requesting you to present my grateful acknowledgements, for their kind remembrance, to your lady and daughter.
I am, with unfeigned affection,
Your obliged friend, &c. &c.