I do not remember to have seen that dwelleth in me, he doeth the brought forward in that portion of works. Believe me that I am in the Unitarian discussion which has fallen Father, and the Father in me: or else under my notice.

believe me for the very works' sake.” With all the reverence and serious. John xiv. 9-11. ness which the subject demands, if it See also John xiv. 20; John v. 17, may be allowed to compare things 19, 23, 26, 27. spiritual with temporal, may it not John xvii. 21; John xii. 44, 45, be urged that the title to sovereignty 49, 50 ; Matt. xxviii. 18, &c. and empire belongs as exclusively to Jehovah, as to an emperor or king, who appoints his prime minister, as

A Friendly Correspondence between God sent his beloved Son, to publish

an Unitarian and a Calvinist. his will and commands, which com

(Continued from p. 461.) mands are to be rendered effective by.

N to 1. the operation of an executive power,

16th October. vested in the several subordinate de

(F you understand that, when it is in prophets, apostles and numerous restored to their proper place, that ministers of the Divine government in proper place musi needs be heaven, the other, acting under sacred autho- although your people may think so, rity, and the influence of a loyal (or

we believe ourselves to be commanded holy) spirit, essential to the faithful by the word of God to think otherwise, discharge of their respective commis, although we have fully considered sions ? If peculiar royal or imperial your quotations. honours are exclusively due to an None of us know the evil of sin, or earthly monarch, surely, the distin. of the human heart in its best state, guishing and supreme honours of

by the fall. Blindness, misconception, Deity should be paid exclusively to hardness, enmity, unsearchable dethe only true God, the God and Fa: ceitfulness, &c. These are all scripther of our Lord Jesus Christ, and. ture terms, and applied to all men by the original Source from whom pro- nature. We shall see these things ceed all emanations of the holy spirit clearly in the future state. which he has been pleased to impart,

It is afflicting to find in others a in various degrees to Moses and his strong professed sense of the love of other messengers and faithful ser- God,"unaccompanied by proportionavants, but which, we are told;" was bly deep conviction of sin, contrition not given by measure” to his beloved and counpunction ; but much more so Son. This explains several passages to feel it in ourselves. May the Lord of scripture where Christ assimilates

save us from ourselves ! and identifies himself with his heavenly Father, from whom, he express, ly says, he received all the powers and

I to N. authority he possessed, and without whom he could of himself do nothing. Dear N.

17th October. It is now high time to inquire what

is the precise object of a correspon. “I and my Father are one." John dence which did not originate with

me, and which has involved a controthat ye may know, and be- versy on doctrinal points, which I had licve, that the Father is in me, and I not the least wish to agitate, from a in him.” John x. 38.

persuasion that it was not likely to “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been be conducted in that spirit of candour, so long time with you, and yet hast humility and child-like simplicity that thou not known me, Philip ? He that can alone lead to the knowledge of hath seen me hath seen the Father; truth. and how sayest thou then, Shew us We are too apt to place ourselves the Father? Believest thou not that in the situation of the Ruler of the I am in the Father, and the Father in Universe, to identify our own notions me? The words that I speak unto you with his word, and to regard opposiI speak not of myself: but the Father tion to those notions as opposition to


[ocr errors]

x. 30.


4 н

the Majesty of heaven. When this is answer the good purpose of exercising the case, it is utterly vain to expect our minds in researches which may that any impression can be made upon render us more familiar with the a mind thus clad in the armour of Sacred Writings. I also engage to infallibility, and, therefore, to attempt keep clear of the particular doctrine it is worse than useless. This leaven which we have been discussing, and of uncharitableness unhappily works to confine myself to experimental revery widely in the Christian world, ligion. and is by no means confined to the If, however, which I deem most Church of Rome, or indeed to any probable, you are indisposed to receive sect.

even the words of scripture through a There are, it must be admitted, medium so contaninated as you conconvictions so deep as to be incapable sider mine to be, I shall take what you of being removed or weakened by hu. give me, and keep my meditations to inan reasonings. We all have some myself. such convictions. You have yours- I do not see why personal interI have mine. But no personal ex- course should be suspended ;* for perience, whatever it may, teach as although I cannot submit my faith to to our own state and condition, can the dictation of any human authority, be urged upon another as conclusive I am far indeed from taking offence in respect to the decrees of the Al- at the endeavours of any man to cormighty with regard to the final state rect or instruct me; and I am willing of mankind. These decrees can only to suppose that this, and not a prurient be ascertained by a comparison of disposition to intermeddle, is the mospiritual things with spiritual, by tive by which you are actnated. reading, marking, learning, and in- We have lately adverted chiefly to wardly digesting the revealed will of points in regard to which our opinions God, in a temper of mind correspond- differ: it may, perhaps, be useful to ing with that of the Bereans, who ascertain wherein we coincide. were commended by a holy apostle, I firmly believe in the truth of the endowed with the gift of working Sacred Scriptures. miracles, for not receiving on trust, I esteem Jesus Christ as the unthe truths which he declared to them. speakable gift of God, and hold myself If such men as he disclaimed the bound to submit to his authority. right of lording it over the minds and I believe that true happiness in this consciences of God's heritage, let not life and eternal felicity result from a such pigmies as ourselves presume to knowledge of the only true God, and claini it.

of Jesus Christ whom he has sent, But to recur to the inquiry pointed who died for our sins, and was raised at in the commencement of this pa- from the dead for our justification. per, I ask, what is your precise ob- I adınit that without holiness of ject? Is it to convince me of error heart no man can see God; that out in matters of faith, or is it to awaken of the heart are the issues of life; that ine to the importance of personal true faith worketh by love, and puriholiness ? If it be the former, you fies the heart; that the heart is demust proceed very differently from ceitful above all things ; and that few, what you have hitherto done, in order very few of us, are acquainted with to gain your end. If it be the latter, the actual state of our own hearts. I hope your endeavours will not be I regard sin to be the procuring altogether thrown away. But I must cause of all the evil and misery which say that, however unfashionable it have hitherto existed or way here. inay have become, I like very much after exist, although I cannot say to use the very words of scripture in that it is either infinite or unconquertrcating, of spiritual things, and if able by divine power. It reaches not you will take the trouble to select to God, who alone is infinite; if it did, such texts as contain the truths which it never could be blotted out. you wish to inculcate, they will have I admit that the Scriptures do atmore force with me than any other. tribute to the fall of Adam (the first form in which they could be expressed; and if you will permit me to This appears to refer to a request to take the same liberty with you, it will that effect nade by the other party.

federal head of our race) the evils which we inherit; but I hold that the Scriptures also disclose an ample remedy, whose operation began at the fall. Under the Mosaic dispensation God was made known as forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin. I am far, however, from considering the evil (whatever be its precise nature and extent) incident upon the fall of our first parent, as in the slightest degree affecting the justice and goodness of the Divine government. It has pleased him, for the wisest and best of purposes, to order things so as that the condition of men shall be influenced by the acts of their parents. If he has declared that he will visit the sins of the fathers upon the children to the third or fourth generation of them that hate him; he has also declared that he will shew mercy unto thousands of generations of them that love bim and keep his commandınents ; and if all die in Adain, all shall be made alive in Christ. But I am sliding into controversy, which it is now my wish to avoid.

In the last place, I would state it as my opinion that although the religion of Jesus Christ has, ever since its promulgation, been accompanied with a display of power to turn men from darkness to light, and has proved the support and consolation of true believers both in life and in the hour of death; there is, nevertheless, great reason to lament that this power is so feebly experienced by the majority of professors of every denoinination. For my own part I do not deem myself worthy of ranking with those who are renewed in the image of Christ; but I nevertheless know enough of his spirit to be enabled to judge of its fruits, and not to be imposed upon by any attempt to confound them with those tempers and dispositions which are sometimes manifested by persons who wish us to suppose that they are holier than the rest of mankind. We may deceive ourselves, but God will not be mocked, nor allow evil to be called good, without exposing the fraud.

I conclude with again requesting you to consider calmly and deliberately what precise object you have in view, and to shape your future communications accordingly: in so doing you will save yourself the trouble of perusing, and me the labour of writing, much that is wide of the mark.

Yours affectionately,

1. N.

1. 1. The nations of the world who 1. True. See the 2nd of Romans ; have not heard the gospel will be dealt also Peter's serion to Cornelius. with according to the knowledge they have. It is not argued that those who would have received the gospel, if offered to them, will be condemned for not having heard it. On the contrary, it is argued that these persons are saved in Christ, and will know it hereafter.

2. The gospel is, or is not, "worthy 2. Most undoubtedly it is worthy of all acceptation.". The primitive of all acceptation, because it is glad Christians received it joyfully, and tidings of great joy to all people. suffered death in its most terrifying The love of Christ is the most powforms in defence of it.

erful motive of human action. Many waters cannot quench love-neither can the floods drown it. I glory in the fact here alluded to. But is our love sufficiently strong to bear such a test? God knows.

3. If it is worthy of acceptation it 3. Those who truly apprehend the merits to be received without post- excellency of the gospel will not wish ponement. Where is the difference to postpone their acceptance of it. between postponement and rejection ? The Scripture does not appear to

make any.

[merged small][ocr errors]

4. If it is not worthy of acceptation, 4. There is such a thing as halting what need is there of postponement between two opinions. Why is it not rejected immediately?

5. Shall a man say, If I thought the 5. Shall we continue in sin that consequences of hardening my heart grace may abound? God forbid ! and not obediently hearing the voice Sin and misery are inseparably united. of God to-day, woul be irremedia is an evil and a bitter thing to sin ble hereafter, I would immediately against God. close with the offer made me: but Those who profess to believe in presuming that the offer will be re- endless punishments, nevertheless depeated in a future state, I will defer fer repentance. Be assured that doethe acceptance of it, and go on sinning trine tends to harden the heart. Sin against God till then? Do not men and terror do but harden all the while practically say so? Does the rich man they work alone; but a sense, &c. in the gospel appear to expect such You allude to a parable : Dives ad. offers ? Why is the gulph that inter. dressed Abraham as his father; and venes between him and paradise said Abraham spoke in kind terms to the to be impassable? How can it be sufferer. said of any man who is to be blessed Whither shall I go from thy preto all eternity-It would have been sence? If I make my bed in hell, thou good for him if he had never been art there ! God is love; God can born?

pass the gulph, and eventually destroy it. This will be done when he wbo sitteth on the throne shall create all

things new. 6. If the gospel is duly received, 6. The saints to enjoy heaven on future punishment is done away with the condition of witnessing the irrealtogether.

mediable misery of their fellow-creatures, must have the heart of flesh

replaced by a heart of stone. 7. A certain person, who is now on 7. I profess not to define the du. a very long voyage, manifested asto- ration of future punishment. It is nishment on being told that his tutor enough for me to know that it will professed to believe that the finally not in any instance endure one moimpenitent would suffer in hell-fire for ment longer than may be necessary to a succession of ages, although not in- convince men of the folly of sin, and terminably. None of the brothers to prepare them to receive the grace appear to have any definite belief in of God. Let us rejoice then in hope future punishment, and some of them of his mercy and goodness. If Paul avowedly disbelieve it altogether. was misunderstood or misrepresented,

no wonder that so weak an instrument

as I am should be so. 8. As respects awakening, accord- 8. Those who profess to believe in ing to the scripture account of things, eternal misery, falsify their creed by not one of us is a thousandth part their daily practice. If they really awakened, nor convinced of his sinful believed it, there could be no place in state by nature, nor the spirituality of their minds for any other thought. If the law of God. Jer. xvii. 9.

I firmly believed that I stood a chance

This was a Jewish proverb. Job wished he never had been born. Let us not attempt to place such equivocal phrases as these in opposition to fundamental religious truths. Let us not forget that we are part of a great whole, and that we cannot possibly be perfectly happy so long as a single particle is miserable. There is a constant accession of joy in heaven over every addition to the number of the saved. Every new triumph of grace occasions a shout of joy.

of suffering the pain of burning for ten years only, it would effectually destroy all the comfort of my intermediate life. I could not talk of any thing else. And yet how light and trifling is the conversation of these very men! The fact is, that the goodness of God is continually undermining the unischief of erroneous creeds.

And I feel truly thankful to him for having provided this remedy for systems which, if systematically operative, would drive men mad.

9. Love of God to be genuine, must 9. There is nothing infinite but make us feel proportionably the infi- God; the doctrine of infinite evil is nite evil and bitterness of sin, in our- a Heathen doctrine ; namely, that of selves and those we care for.

the ancient Persians, adopted by the Manicheans.

The love of God and the love of man are inseparably united, and what God has joined together, let not man put asunder.

N. to I.

19th October, 1823. As respects your doctrine I see and feel increasing danger. I wish that these points may not be mentioned in conversation. Earnest prayer to God for thorough convictions will succeed better than discussion. You have admitted the doctrine of the unsearchable deceitfulness of the human heart. Your resource and mine, therefore, is in prayer to God.

23rd October. “A testimony for its proper season." Then it must be improper to bring forward the doctrine prematurely, when it is capable of being abused.

Let the Supreme Judge of the quick and the dead solve these questions.

Ist. When the designation of the rejectors of the gospel was made, and the nature and duration of their pupishment set forth, were not terms made use of capable of the most extended meaning; as, for instance, the never-ending duration of the blessedness of the righteous, and punishment of the wicked, being expressed in the same terms ?

2dly. Was it not intended that sinful man should apprehend interminable displeasure as the consequence of a wilful rejection of the offers of Divine Inercy?

3rd. Do the professors of your doctrine feel the evil of sin so much as the genuine, deep-taught scripture Calvinists do?

4th. Do not the genuine Calvinists offer the gospel freely to every one that is willing to receive it, and assert that such a one, so willing, will be saved ?

5th. Are not all men disposed to overrate the evil of suffering, and to underrate the evil of sin, through ignorance of the holiness of God's law ?

6th. Does not the last verse of Isa. Ixvi. afford an answer to your question How could I be happy in a state of blessedness, with such a scene of suffering before me?” The import of those words let God determine. Whether it be not this ? “ Do not disapprove the suffering of the sufferers, but look on the sufferers with abhorrence, because they have sinned against me.” Their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched (however the duration may be interpreted). Is not abhorrence substituted for pity?

7th. Does not this rule apply to the parents who, under Moses or in the time of Zechariah, were commanded to kill their own children in certain cases of transgression ?


« VorigeDoorgaan »