Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

Too much of that impatience which you speak of,

towards those who differ from us in some religious sentiments, is observable on all sides. I do not consider it as the fault of a few individuals, or of this or that party, so much as the effect of that inherent imperfection which is common to our whole race. Anger and scorn are equally unbecoming in those who profess to be followers of the meek and lowly Jesus, and who acknowledge themselves to be both sinful and fallible; but too often something of this leaven will be found cleaving to the best characters, and mixed with honest endeavours to serve the best cause. But thus it was from the beginning; and we have reason to confess that we are no better than the apostles were, who, though they meant well, manifested once and again a wrong spirit in their zeal; Luke ix. 54. Observation and experience contribute, by the grace of God, gradually to soften and sweeten our spirits; but then there will always be ground for mutual forbearance and mutual forgiveness on this head. However, so far as I may judge of myself, I think this hastiness is not my most easy besetting sin. I am not indeed an advocate for that indifference and lukewarmness to the truths of God, which seem to constitute the candour many plead for in the present day.

[ocr errors]

urs, the ices of hu be right; no ferences be and know the

hem to see with he truth of Joh

man can receiv
heaven." I we

edge I have ob
en owing to m
iness, Nor di
to exercise muc
for about twenty
a desire of lear
ly accommodate
my mistakes, an
judices, which, bu
enable hindrances
impatient, or cen
ch to learn, and ar

to know I a
and desire to choos

Mary's part,
And blessed

him, I am f

whom

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

by ti

S.

stimony to what I have am properly called to it. ne accounted evangelical nfined themselves to a few

I think this a fault; and ntly so, the auditories are detion and pleasure, which they Bore judicious and comprehensive cripture, as it consists of histories, es, precepts, promises, exhortations, ragements, and reproofs, is the proGospel-ministry; and every part should course be attended to; yet so as that, partment we exhibit, Jesus should be the e; in whom the prophecies are fuifilled, the ablished; to whom, in a way of type and ..most important parts of Scripture-history ss reference; and from whom alone we at life, strength, and encouragement, which >> make obedience either pleasing or prachere there is true spiritual faith in the ercise, I believe á person will not so il of what he is to practise, as to be ss without it. Our Saviour's comand clear in themselves; and that om faith is the best casuist and and enforce them.

"Forgive me if I transgress; n I stand is holy ground." dear Madam, that were I,

e

importance, you would

y controverting any of ingly,) which I am

But while I desire to hold fast the sound doctrines of the Gospel towards the persons of my fellow-creatures, I wish to exercise all moderation and benevolence :Protestants or Papists, Socinians or Deists, Jews, Samaritans, or Mahometans, all are my neighbours, they have all a claim upon me for the common offices of humanity. As to religion, they cannot all be right; nor may I compliment them by allowing the differences between us are but trivial, when I believe and know they are important; but I am not to expect them to see with my eyes. I am deeply convinced of the truth of John "A man can receive Baptist's aphorism, John iii. 27: "nothing, except it be given him from heaven." I well know, that the little measure of knowledge I have obtained in the things of God has not been owing to my own wisdom and docility, but to his goodness. Nor did I get it all at once: he has been pleased to exercise much patience and long-suffering towards me, for about twentyseven years past, since he first gave me a desire of learning from himself. He has graciously accommodated himself to my weakness, borne with my mistakes, and helped me through innumerable prejudices, which, but for his mercy, would have been insuperable hindrances : I have therefore no right to be angry, impatient, or censorious, especially as I have still much to learn, and am so poorly influenced by what I seem to know. I am weary of controversies and disputes, and desire to choose for myself, and to point out to others, Mary's part, to sit at Jesus' feet, and to hear his words. And blessed be his name! so far as I have learned from him, I am favoured with a comfortable certainty; I know whom I have believed, and am no longer tossed about by the various winds and tides of opinions, by which I see many are dashed one against the other. But I cannot, I must

not, I dare not, contend; only, as a witness for God, I am ready to bear my simple testimony to what I have known of his truth, whenever I am properly called to it.

I agree with you, that some accounted evangelical teachers have too much confined themselves to a few leading and favourite topics. I think this a fault; and believe, when it is constantly so, the auditories are deprived of much edification and pleasure, which they might receive from a more judicious and comprehensive plan. The whole Scripture, as it consists of histories, prophecies, doctrines, precepts, promises, exhortations, admonitions, encouragements, and reproofs, is the propersubject of the Gospel-ministry; and every part should in its place and course be attended to; yet so as that, in every compartment we exhibit, Jesus should be the capital figure; in whom the prophecies are fuifilled, the promises established; to whom, in a way of type and emblem, the most important parts of Scripture-history have an express reference; and from whom alone we can receive that life, strength, and encouragement, which are necessary to make obedience either pleasing or practicable. And where there is true spiritual faith in the heart, and in exercise, I believe a person will not so much need a detail of what he is to practise, as to be often greatly at a loss without it. Our Saviour's commandments are plain and clear in themselves; and that love which springs from faith is the best casuist and commentator to apply and enforce them.

.

You are pleased to say, "Forgive me if I transgress; "I know the place whereon I stand is holy ground." Permit me to assure you, my dear Madam, that were I, which I am not, a person of some importance, you would run no hazard of offending me by controverting any of my sentiments: I hold none, (knowingly,) which I am

« AnteriorContinua »