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out it, even although I should obtain "perfect love;" because, as long as I live, I shall be in danger of falling into sin. In order to obtain perfect love, I must pray for perfect conviction and grace to make due confession. I cannot do justice to God or to myself in this matter. I must pray the Lord to enlighten my eyes and search ny heart; and after I have felt what it is for the Lord "to kill," to be made to experience what it is for him to make alive." Conscience cries aloud, "Look to your own states." When matters are set right there, you will be better qualified to think and to feel with respect to the state of others. For whatever I may have said to you or others in an unbecoming manner, I ask pardon of God, of you and of all; although speaking angrily, I really wished for good in many instances. For this offence I am corrected when danger stares me in the face. If I was alarmed when danger was distant, how much more shall I be so, when it shall be said, "The hour is come"! N.
by the Spirit into all truth. The eyes of our understanding must be enlightened. We shall then see millions of sonl-destroying sins where we never suspected them. No human argument will do. Things must remain as they are until God the Holy Ghost gives light and works conviction. Therefore I know I shall not succeed till then, and do not look for it.
The best people whom I know, as far as I am enabled to judge, do acknowledge in their prayers that God might justly condemn them for ever. I find it hard to adopt that language unreservedly. If I did, I verily believe you would have less cause to complain of my temper and bondage and fears, which are increased in proportion as your sentiments enter into my experience. I expect that if I do not most faithfully and unreservedly make the confession afore-stated, God will oblige me to do so by making me feel the deprecated evil.'
As we cannot influence the state of the departed, matters must terminate in a treatment of the state of the living. You will agree, I trust, that our reasonings with ourselves, or with each other, or hearing or reading, will not avail without the influence of the Divine Spirit, and that we ought earnestly and incessantly to solicit the same, that we may have the true light and true feeling, and discover our state by nature, and be renewed, and make suitable confessions to God, and, by his enabling grace, do whatever we ought to do.
N to I.
1st October. Last night I read a passage in Heb. vi., with respect to falling away, which filled me with awe. This morning I observed, while reading in my usual course, Luke xiii., a passage bearing upon the question under consideration, "Lord, are there," &c. Our Lord's answer seemed to me to imply that it was most to our interest to attend to our own state, and to strive (agonize) (are we doing so?) to enter in at the strait gate. What follows seems eminently suited to excite fear; and, indeed, whatever may be said on that subject, I find so much in the Scripture avowedly intended to excite fear, that I do not think it safe to be with
I to N.
October 1st, 1823.
I am not at all surprised, nor disappointed, nor offended at the failure of my arguments, I will not say to change, but even to lead you to review the grounds of your opinions on the question at issue between us. A most awful and important question it is! It is no less than whether we have reason from Scripture to believe that the great mass of mankind are doomed to eternal perdition; and, consequently, whether the great Power which holds our fate at his disposal is malevolent or benevolent. "The orthodox Christians have drawn the picture of the devil, and have written underneath it-This is God"-so says a celebrated foreign writer.
It may, perhaps, be practicable for those who think themselves worthy to walk arm in arm with the Apostle Paul, and persuade themselves that their crown of righteousness is secured, to discharge from their minds a concern for the final happiness of the rest of mankind; but for those who cannot feel this security, or venture to hope that they may attain to it, it is quite impossible, if they think of futurity at all, that they should obtain any
cessation from horror, so long as they suspect that they may be liable to endure never-ending torment. Such an idea would disqualify a man of reflective habits from thinking or speaking of any thing else; and, if he were set at tolerable ease respecting his own soul, he would still be in constant terror in behalf of those who are near or dear to him. If Moses and Paul had entertained such an opinion of futurity, I am quite certain that the one never would have expressed his willingness to be blotted out of God's book, and the other to be accursed of Christ for the sake of their country men. The fact appears to be, that they would gladly have foregone the special privileges of elective grace, if, by such a sacrifice, they could have ensured the salvation of their people. The expression is no where censured, and yet for indulging a feeling far short of theirs, you regard me as in a dangerous state.
You tell me that I cannot be a judge of your experience: I grant it; but by the same rule you cannot judge of mine. We have each been conducted by different paths. I hope and trust they will eventually lead us to the desired end." If we confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus, and believe in our hearts that God hath raised him from the dead," (that is, so to believe as to submit to his authority, "we shall be saved." Let us not qualify the terms thus defined by an inspired apostle, but exercise charity towards each other. It is not the mere assertion that we are taught certain doctrines by the Holy Spirit, that will suffice to persuade others that what we believe is true. The Jewish Christians, Peter among the rest, could not, even after they had received the Holy Spirit, at the day of Pentecost, perceive the extent of the scheme of the gospel, without an express revelation. Our Lord told his disciples that he had many things to say to them, which their prejudiced minds were then incapable of receiving the extension of mercy to the Gentiles was probably one of those things. I consider modern professors as being much in the same condition of mind as the Jews were; and I will freely declare that I do clearly perceive in many, not to say the greater part of those with whom I am acquainted, strong indica
tions of spiritual pride under the garb of humble acknowledgments of their own unworthiness. In spite of all this exclusive feeling, however, they are compelled to act as though the gospel contained glad-tidings for all. This is as it should be, and I rejoice at it.
If you wish to convince me of error in point of doctrine, you must go through the process of examining all the texts which bear upon the subject in dispute; and you must manifest a disposition to part with even longcherished errors, if they will not stand the test of such an examination. Un less a man shall become as a little child, he cannot go through such a process with any chance of profit. I do not require you to submit to it. It is quite foreign from your habits to read controversial divinity; and it is now too late perhaps to begin. I come, therefore, to this conclusion, that we shall do well to leave each other to learn from the great Teacher what are the stupendous heights and unfathomable depths of his love to his creatures, and content ourselves, if we enter at all upon the subject of religion, with provoking each other to love and to good works. Fear is, no doubt, salutary, so long as sin has any place in us; but although it may serve to quicken our steps in running from evil, it is not favourable to clearsightedness. It led the disciples to mistake their Lord and Master for a spectre; and we must not be too lavish in our praise of a feeling of mind which belongs to an unregenerate state. The fearful are classed sometimes with the unbelieving. The Lord loveth those that put their trust in him. May you and I attain to that state in which we may say with David, "We will not fear though the earth be moved, and the mountains be cast into the depths of the sea"! "They," says he, "who know thy name” (i. e. thy true character,) "will put their trust in thee." I profess not to have realized this happy feeling, but, nevertheless, I will not therefore deny that it does not properly belong to the righteous.
And now, I will freely confess, that talking upon the grandest and most vital questions does not tend to edification, unless the heart be suitably affected. I never will allow, for an instant, that a deep-seated concern for
the character of our heavenly Father,
[To be continued.]
at the present day amongst his coun trymen. But I was rather surprised that the authority of Josephus was appealed to, when a much better was at hand. For the writers of the New Testament, in their quotations from the Old, never use the hallowed name, but substitute for it the terms, the Lord-God-or the Lord God. And our Saviour himself, when he quotes the very words of the first commandment, uses the terms, the Lord thy God, and not the word by which the hallowed name is expressed.
The custom then prevailed in our Saviour's time, and I cannot apply the word superstition to any thing which he thought worthy to adopt. I am inclined to believe that some good reasons might be found for this practice, whose origin is perhaps too remote from our times for us at the present day to assign the true cause.
This veneration of the chosen people for the sacred name of the Supreme, forms a striking contrast to the very frequent abuse of it in our nation, by which it is disgraced above all the other countries in Europe, For we cannot walk our streets without frequently hearing this holy name applied by the speaker to the most horrid imprecations on himself, his limbs, his friends and his enemies.
It is said of a great philosopher of our country, that whenever he used this holy name he made a pause in his speech; and I cannot look upon the practice as by any means superstitious; and if it were generally adopted by those who have a regard for religion, it would tend in a great degree to discountenance the odious practice, which is by no means peculiar to the lower classes.
But I carry my ideas still farther. There is an unhallowed name by which Christians address the Supreme Being, a name unknown to our Saviour and his apostles, adopted from a barbarous Latin word, and associated with notions too gross to be repeated. With the same attention paid in former ages to the hallowed name of the Supreme, would I regard this invention of inan; but instead of veneration I hear it with very different emotions, and I should be happy to find that the use of it was exploded in our places of worship. I would never have it used or alluded to; or if it should
be thought requisite to allude to it, it should be under its appropriate epithet, the unhallowed name, as it is not hallowed by any mention of it in any parts of Scripture.
they did, their faith did not grow out of their reasonings, but their reasons were laboriously sought for, to uphold a preconceived opinion." What it was, however, other than reason, which produced this preconceived opinion in their minds, Mr. Cogan has omitted to inform us; and without his assistance, I confess myself unable to account for it, otherwise than by supposing that it was the effect of the reasonings of superior minds, on the perfections of God the Creator, and on the nature and circumstances of man his creature. That the ancients, at least, whatever may be fancied of those of later times, did not derive unity
These hints I take the liberty of throwing out to those who are accustomed to use the unhallowed name in their discussions, either by the press or in the pulpit, and I am sure they will be of some use, if attended to, in private families.
of nature, is so frequently manifested, and in a way so obvious and glaring, that it can hardly escape the notice of any person at all accustomed to theological inquiries. I am far from supposing that these gentlemen pursue this course from any dishonest motive; on the contrary, I am persuaded they fancy that they thereby do honour to Christianity; while, on the other hand, I have no hesitation in professing my firm conviction, that the RELIGION OF NATURE is the rock on which Christianity is founded; and that he who aims at supporting the latter by undermining the former, does, in fact, though unconsciously, all that one man can do, to destroy both. Happily for us all, they are both indestructible.
This conviction, which has been growing and strengthening in my mind for the last forty years, is not in the least degree weakened by the letter of your highly-respectable correspondent, the Rev. Mr. Cogan, inserted in your publication of this day, (pp. 11-14,) the leading object of which, according to his own statement, is to illustrate the evidences of Christianity; but in which he more than insinuates, that what is called the religion of nature is of little or no value; that "they who contend for the unity and perfections of God, the doctrine of a universal providence, and the future existence and immortality of man, as inculcated by nature, have derived their conviction of them from Christianity, and from Christianity alone;" and that "the ancients, who endeavoured to establish the doctrine of a future life, did not themselves believe it; and if
versality of the Divine Government, and of a future state of existence, from Christianity alone, or from Christianity at all, is quite clear, from the fact of their having recorded their opinions before Christianity existed; and it is undeniable that some of them expressed their conviction of these truths, in nearly as plain terms as any Christian can do at this day. What, for instance, can be a stronger expression of belief in the being and government of One Supreme God, than the following passage of_Cicero? [de Nat. Deor. Lib. ii. Cap. ii.] "Quid potest esse tam apertum, tamque perspicuum, cum cœlum suspiximus, cœlestiaque contemplati sumus, quam esse aliquod numen præstantissimæ mentis, quo hæc regantur?" When we lift our eyes to the heavens, and contemplate the celestial bodies, what can be more clearly evident, than the existence of some superior being of consummate wisdom, by whom they are governed? Or in what words could this illustrious man have expressed more plainly his expectation of existence after death, than in the following? [de Senect. 21.] Quid multa? Sic mihi persuasi, sic sentio, cum tanta celeritas animorum sit, tanta memoria præteritorum, futurorumque prudentia, tot artes, tantæ scientiæ, tot inventa, non posse eam naturam, quæ res eas contineat esse mortalem." This, in short, is my settled conviction, this is my judgment, on reviewing the faculties of the mind, its wonderful activity, its memory of the past, and foresight of the future, and its discoveries and attainments in arts and science, that
it is impossible that a being to whom such powers belong, can be perishable. In the course of his attempt to run down and bring into contempt the religion of nature, Mr. Cogan, the last man in the world to be suspected of any disingenuous intention, seems to me to have been betrayed by the warmth of his zeal, into an error, not uncommon with disputants, especially those who have the misfortune to be engaged in supporting a bad cause; I mean that of misstating and caricaturing the opinions of those from whom he differs. He says, "If we are to believe what we are sometimes told concerning it, [the religion of nature,] its truths are emblazoned in the heavens in characters which all can read and which none can misunderstand." Will Mr. C. be so good as to inform us by whom we are told any thing so strange and absurd. For myself, I can say, that though I have read with great attention, and in many instances with great pleasure, the writings of Christian philosophers, who were believers in the religion of nature, and have also occasionally looked into the writings of a few Deists, and conversed with others, it has never happened to me to meet with this extravagant position. I have always understood, that whatever valuable truths the book of nature may contain, though it may be written in characters which are indelible and unchangeable, though it may be unincumbered with various readings and interpolated texts; yet that it is so far like the New Testament that it cannot be read to advantage, except by those who have taken some pains to learn the language in which it is written. Indeed, if it were otherwise, it would have greatly the advantage of the Bible, which is universally admitted to contain numerous passages which set at naught all human power of interpretation. Mr. Cogan will, therefore, I am sure, oblige many of your readers by informing them who they are that have given this extraordinary character of the religion of nature. I am sorry to be obliged to call upon him to do this, because I am inclined to think he will find it a task of some difficulty.
ther there is reason to think that without a divine interposition, these superstitions [of Pagan Idolatry] could have been banished from the world, and a purer religion substituted in their place." Now from this language, would it not be perfectly natural to conclude, that with a divine interposition, this happy state of things has been effected, that superstition has actually been banished from the world, and a pure religion established in its stead? Yet strange to tell, he soon after assures us, that "little of the knowledge that enlightens the more intelligent members of a community ever makes its way to the vulgar," and speaks of "the pertinacity with which the most gross corruptions of Christianity have been retained for ages, and are still retained, by the great majority of its professors"! He might have added, with great truth, though, to be sure, it would not have quite suited the object of his letter, that many of these gross corruptions have been so gross, as never to have been exceeded in absurdity and folly by the popular fictions of ancient Greece or Rome. It may be replied that these abominable corruptions are not to be charged on the Christian religion, of which they are in reality no part, but the dreams of ignorant, or the inventions of designing men. This I most readily grant, because it is most certainly true. But, on the other hand, I expect it to be granted to me, because it is equally true, that the popular superstitions of ancient Greece and Rome were no part of the religion of nature, because they were contrary to reason, and were accordingly disapproved of, by the wisest and best men of the times in which they prevailed.
In a note, Mr. Cogan admits without hesitation as true, what he imagines may be offered in the shape of an objection by an unbeliever, namely, that." the great majority of mankind, being altogether incompetent to judge of the evidences of revelation, must admit a future life upon authority alone;" and he adds, " It is not the evidence of a doctrine, but the belief of it that is practically useful." This language from the pen of a liberal Dissenting minister, is surely very singular and extraordinary. For any man to receive a doctrine, as in
In the commencement of his letter, the worthy writer states the question which arose in his mind to be" whe