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has placed all men in a capacity to be saved; and that, by his Spirit and Power in our hearts, He is offering us complete Redemption and Salvation; I have considered it improper to pry into the secret counsels of Almighty God-and pretend to tell why and how, He prepared the means of Redemption which He appointed.
These reasons I hope will satisfy the candid, enquiring mind, that does not desire to push its enquiries beyond what God is pleased to reveal.
I cheerfully subscribe to the belief, that true piety and acceptance with God, are not confined to any name or profession of religion; and it would be very far from my intention, to wound the feelings of any of those pious Christians, who are to be found under different denominations. I wish however, to invite their attention, impartially, to the doctrines on which we differ.
We, as intelligent and accountable beings, are placed here in a state of probation for a few fleeting days. The great object is, to please God, and obtain an inheritance among them that are sanctified. We are therefore bound to examine ourselves, and the principles by which we are governed; for we shall all and individually, be judg ed according to our works, and the means of improvement bestowed upon us.
But, after all, if the zealous of other denominations should still believe, that they derive comfort and advantage from the use of certain ceremonies, which we have believed it right to avoid; as these ceremonies are regarded, by those who use them, as instrumental means, and not as the only media through which the various operations of Grace are experienced; it is reasonable to hope they will conclude, that these operations are not less efficacious, when carried on by the immediate "power of an
Endless Life," (Heb. vii. 16.) than by any feelings or affections which can be excited by instrumental means. The apostle says; "The love of God was shed abroad in their hearts, by the Holy Ghost which was given them." Rom. v. 5. And if this love is brought into its just pre-eminence in us, it can be no objection that it is by the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit.
There are some practices, however, among the professors of Christianity which we decline, that do not come under the character of ceremonies. Such, for instance, are the practices of War and Slavery. And if those whose education has reconciled them to these things, before their judgments were sufficiently matured to draw correct conclusions, should not find their own minds prepared to abandon them-will they not be so charitable, or rather, so candid, as to agree that our principles and practice, in relation to these subjects, are not without foundation ?
The Society, of which I am a member, has strong claims on my solicitude. "When it pleased Almighty God to open the understandings of our forefathers, and call them to be a separate people,” He permitted their faith to be proved by persecution, and by many sore trials. Yet his arm of power was underneath and round about them; and no weapon formed against them could prosper. To them was fulfilled the promise that "all things work together for good;" Rom. viii. 28: for the very means which were taken to crush them, being overruled by Him who has all power, not only contributed to bind this persecuted little band together, furnishing occasions for the exercise of the most tender sympathy and brotherly affection, but even became subservient to the spreading of the Gospel. But now, the storm of
persecution is over. The profession involves, comparatively, very little sacrifice. But still we have to contend with the same unwearied enemy; and the warning given to Peter, seems to be applicable in the present day: "Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat." Luke xxii. 31. In the time of suffering and distress, there was much to arrest the mind in its pursuit of perishable objects, and drive it to seek for refuge in that "Strong Tower" into which the righteous run and find safety. Prov. xviii. 10. But in the sunshine of prosperity, when every thing is smiling around us, there is peculiar danger of being lulled into a state of security, and of being separated from that preserving Power, by which alone we can stand against the secret wiles or open assaults of the enemy. The relief from persecution, and the outward prosperity we now enjoy, are among the *favours of our Heavenly Father. If, in the possession of these multiplied blessings, our hearts should become alienated from Him who gave them-if we should worship and serve the creature more than the Creator, the consequences must be of an awful nature. By the deceitful objects around us, we may be drawn from that state of watchfulness, which our Lord enjoined upon 'all," Mark xiii. 37; and thus lose that deep and humbling sense of our dependence upon Him, and that feeling of His love, which constitute the safety and the enjoyment of the true Christian. Thus separated from the only source of preservation, we become exposed to dangers on every hand. Let us therefore keep close to first principles, and build on that Foundation, on which the prophets, apostles, and our worthy predecessors were established, and against which every storm, through past ages, has beaten in vain.
The testimony of the apostle will remain true through all succeeding generations: "God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all." And "if we walk in the Light, as He is in the Light, we have fellowship one. with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." 1 John i. 5, 7. Thus may we stand in this fellowship, "as a building fitly framed together." Eph. ii. 21. But it is only as we walk in the Light, that the fellowship of the Gospel can be known. And those who walk not in this Light, will become obnoxious to that sentence; "I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel!" Gen. xlix. 7.
For those who have received a dispensation of the Gospel to preach to others, I feel an earnest desire, that they keep under that humbling influence which will preserve them in humility, as well as in dedication to the cause of truth and righteousness in the earth. "Without Me," said our blessed Lord, "ye can do nothing;" John xv. 5; and the more we are brought into an experimental knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which the apostle declares to be "the Power of God to salvation," Rom. i. 16, the more we shall be sensible of our own weakness, and of the necessity of a constant dependence upon that Power.
The admonitions of the apostle Paul to Timothy and Titus, two ministers of the Gospel, are very emphatic. To the former he says: "This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy,......that thou mightest war a good warfare; holding faith and a good conscience, which some having put away, concerning faith have made shipwreck." 1 Tim. i. 18, 19. "Take heed unto thyself and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." iv. 16,
And again, in his second epistle, he charges him; "Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus." 2 Tim. i. 13. "But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes." ii. 23. "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned, and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them." iii. 14. And finally, in the last chapter of the second epistle, under the immediate sense of his own departure being near at hand, he addressed this solemn language to him; "I charge thee therefore, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing, and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the Truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things; endure afflictions ; do the work of an evangelist; make full proof of thy ministry." iv. 1—5.
Very similar are the charges which he gave to Titus ; admonishing him to "speak the things that became sound doctrine." ii. 1. And these several charges apply to all who enter into the same sacred office. As we have fully acknowledged the obligation of the apostolical injunction to rest upon us-"If any man speak, let him speak as the Oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giv eth," 1 Pet. iv. 11,-it would be, in any of us, a high offence, to attempt to minister from any other source or authority, than the pure spring of the Gospel. This