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partly to the prevailing habits and manners of the world, and yet more perhaps to a principle within, or a wantonly indulged habit of thinking too congenial with the general weaknesses, or with, what you justly call, the depravity of mankind. There is propriety and force in much which you have said; and I am convinced that it is more agreeable than my inconsiderate position to the sense and instructions of our holy scripture. Be assured, sir, I shall not with our conversation relinquish the subject, and if, on farther impartial examination, I shall be induced to adopt your way of thinking, I shall not doubt your good wishes, that it may be followed by a competent reforination.
Eusebius. My dear sir, I honour your candid and well meant concessions. You will accordingly allow me to close this dialogue after the manner of St. Paul on a well known occasion: I would to God, that, in event of your proposed examination, you may become, not only almost, but altogether a christian.
OF APOSTATE ANGELS.
No. VI. It is not certain that the existence of evil spirits, in the usual acceptation of the word, was known either to the Greeks or the Romans. Their infernal deities, even their furies, were not supposed to possess degenerate natures, but to be divinities to whom were entrusted the punishment of wicked actions. It is the part of revelation alone to put us on our guard against a formidable enemy, and either to show what conduct exposes us to danger, or to secure us against every effort of hell to effect our ruin.
It is evident, that the enemy has great advantages against the irreligious.
Let a man habitually take God's name in vain; let him think contemptuously, and speak contemptuously of God's word and ordinances; let him throw off the restraints which the sabbath imposeth; deprived of God's grace, and left a prey to the enemy, he grows worse and worse, and the longer he lives, he is the more hostile to religion. In health, he says, there is no God; in sickness, he blasphemes; he discovers much of the temper, and familiarizes himself to the language of those who are in hell. I have known such to evince a bitterness against religion, which could hardly have been supposed to exist in human nature. A person of this character, reading the curses pronounced, in the book of DeuteroDomy, against the wicked, with the fury of an infernal, tore out
the leaf and committed it to the flames. Another, with a rashness quite in character, glossing falsely a command of scripture, cut off his right hand, and in the agony of despair, gave up the ghost. However lightly irreligious persons think of their courses, let them be assured, that these expose them to the attack of the roaring lion, and issue in death.
The worldly man is in danger from the enemy. Some, right or wrong, by justifiable or unjustifiable methods, must possess wealth, without any respect to God's providence, or dependence on his blessing. Such fall into temptations and snares; they err from the truth, and pierce themselves through with many sorrow's. Such practices cannot be too strongly reprobated. They disgraced the character of Judas. He attached himself to Jesus with worldly Fiews; to the world he sacrificed his soul. Many imitate Judas; every thought is absorbed in this one, how to get rich. I have known some bold enough to avow that this was all their aim, to which every consideration of a moral or religious nature was made to bend; and others, who have not the same degree of effrontery, discovering too plainly by their conduct, that they sacri, fice to Mammon cnly. Nothing so besots the mind. God will never dwell with such persons; he will withdraw, and permit those kindred spirits, whom they so much resemble, to tyrannize over them. Alas! alas! that men should so far forget the dignity of their natures, that they should be sa bent on their own destruction, and rush with a mad fury to the regions of despair,
The self-confident fall an easy prey to the enemy of souls. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. In us dwelleth no good thing. Should the will be good, in the performance we often fail. Ignorant of this, many boast with the champion of Israel, when weakened by his own folly, I will arise, as heretofore, and break loose from these Philistines; but God, his strength, was departed from him, and he became the slave and sport of these enemies, who lately dreaded his frown. None are in more danger than those who depend on their own strength. This temper brought Peter among shoals and rocks where he nearly suffered shipwreck. Be jealous of yourselves Happy is he who feareth always. By the grace of God you are what you are. Tremble at the thought of any conduct which might provoke him to leave you, assured that in such circumstances, the enemy shall prevail against you. Be stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; then evil spirits will have no power over you. They may devour others; God will secure his own fold. If at any time they be admitted within the enclosure, for the trial of your faith, or the correction of your folly, he, to whom you have committed the care of your soul, will most certainly rescue you from the mouth of the devouring lion.
ON THE EVIDENCE OF AN INTEREST IN CHRIST.
MY DEAR SON,
Your last was a letter of much consolation. It produced a very sensible and pleasing verification of that adage of Solomon, that “ a wise son maketh a glad father." Your general regularity indeed, and your apparent attention at times to “ the things which belong to your peace,” before you removed from your father's house, were to me very grateful and promising; yet they did not altogether prevent a degree of painful anxiety, lest, when involved, as you necessarily must be, in the more extensive commerce, multiplied cares, and promiscuous society of the world, your mind should be gradually warped and seduced, perhaps into certain indulgences, which I know you had seriously regretted, and with seeming resolution renounced. Blessed be God, who, in his sove. reign grace, has been pleased thus far to obviate the dangers I so much dreaded, and even more, as I trust, to give you part in that portion, which cannot be taken away from you. Would to heaven, I could say the same of your otherwise amiable brother. But he is indeed too giddy and wild. Our worthy pastor, however, often tells me I must not despair.
From the account which you appear to have so candidly and unreservedly given, of the recently renewed exercises of your mind, it is evident, that the good Spirit of God has been very impressively dealing with you. And I cannot but presume, that he has led you into such views of yourself, of your need of Christ, and of the freeness, riches, and power of his grace, as to induce you to make an entire surrender of yourself unto him, and to resolve in good faith, that, through his grace enabling you, you will henceforth, as a true disciple, “ deny yourself, and take up your cross and follow him.” For your years, (though your good sense, united with uncommon filial respect, prevented you from the excesses of many others) you had known enough of the ways of vanity and the world. I hope you have now attained to some experimental knowledge of the difference between their pleasures, and those of that wisdom, whose ways" are ways of pleasantness, and all whose paths are peace."
Your question I have considered with a good deal of attention; and regret that my improvement in divine knowledge is so inadequate to the answer I wish you to receive. You have expressed it in terms very usual with persons exercised as you have been: that is, “ How shall I attain to a satisfactory knowledge of my interest in Christ?” I rejoice in it, my dear son, as a glorious truth, that all mankind have an interest in him, or in what he has done and provided for them, though all are not, as for distinction's sake I may express it, specially and experimentally interested in him. He has made, if I understand the christian doctrine aright, a deed of gift as it were, of himself and his purchased benefits to all indiscriminately; with this reasonable and necessary article, however, annexed, that to be enjoyed, it must be acceded to on our part, and its benefits cordially desired and embraced; otherwise he can never be essentially beneficial to any of us. As in the case of an estate, by a like instrument made over to me, and requiring my personal acceptance and possession of it, though at any time I may consider myself as having an interest in it, yet before such acceptance and possession on my part, it can be of no material advantage to me. Imagining I can do well enough without it, as the unbelieving world do in reference to Christ and his salvation, I may perish in want, notwithstanding the abundance I might enjoy, would I but possess myself of the bounty so provided.
Your question, at the first view, seemed to amount to this: By what means shall I know, whether I have really so embraced Christ and his benefits, as to be in a state of special grace, and secure, according to the tenor of the gospel, of the special favour and love of God? To the question, thus understood, a general answer immediately occurs: that is, The more heartily and entirely... you embrace the Saviour in your faith and affection; the more you love him, his precepts, his ordinances, and his ways; the more you confide in him, and desire to please him, and to enjoy him, the more clear, distinct, and forcible, will be the evidence that you do so: and as his special favour is inseparably connected with this disposition and character, so you will have proportionable reason to infer, that you are really the object of it. If then, my dear son, you would be ascertained of a special interest in the redemption by Jesus Christ, the means, generally considered, lie plainly before you. Endeavour to attain to yet clearer, more comprehensive, and more impressive conceptions of the wisdom, truth, and grace of the wonderful plan of redemption by bim; of its suitableness in every respect to your guilty, depraved and helpless condition; of his complete sufficiency for your salvation,
as to his person, his ofñces, his character, and his works of righteousness and atonement: and this, to the intent that you may more fully and firmly confide in him; that you may more unreservedly, satisfactorily, and absolutely give yourself up to him, to be saved in his own most wise and holy way; and that you may more determinately and entirely yield yourself to God in and through him, as a devoted thing, set apart, and consecrated to his use and service, and his alone forever. Whoever is possessed of thesc, which I call spiritual views of Christ, and of the divine and heart-affecting things of the gospel, and is the subject of their corresponding and inseparable effects in his heart and practice, has a real and special interest in Christ; and in proportion to their amount and his consciousness of it will be his evidence of that interest.
But your question may have a more particular reference: that is, What judgment may you safely form of your character and state, from the change which seems to have already taken place in you? Under this view the answer is not a little difficult. To yourself, with all the knowledge you have of the past exer: cises, or present frame of your mind, it is difficult. How much more so must it be to me, who with all the representation you have so intelligently, as well as candidly given, must know so much less about them. The heart is a deep and dark place; “deceitful above all things; who can know it?” Without descending therefore into particulars, and making a variety of suppositions respecting the scriptural forms, and spirituality of the several ex. ercises, desires and inclinations you describe, I will direct your attention to one or two general characteristics of christian piety. The first is, Sincerity.
This is an essential character of real goodness. For, although the Deity does not demand absolute perfection from imperfect creatures, and although, in our lapsed condition, he expects neither infallibility in our moral determinations, nor indefective exo actness in our conduct, yet he requires the pure, upright, and faithful services of our hearts. He commands us to “ serve him in sincerity and truth.” Josh. xxiv. 14. In a moral estimate every action must be placed to the account of that principle from which it is derived. Interested motives and wordly views reduce and sink the worth of the best actions; and, on the other hand, & right intention gives value even to the meanest. It turns every thing, I may say, into goodness, specifically at least. When wordly views are prevalent and habitual, there can be no red religion. Our actions, so principled, are at best but prudentia