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these characters will apply to every kind of man, to bring his own designs to pass, and polite amusement or assembly in the king- restrains all that is not necessary to that dom.
end; blasting the best concerted enterprizes As to family connexions, I cannot think at one time, by means apparently slight, and we are bound to break or slight them. But altogether unexpected, and at other times as believers and their friends often live as it producing the most important events, from were in two elements, there is a mutual instruments and circumstances which are, awkwardness, which makes their interviews at first thought, too feeble and trivial to derather dry and tedious. But, upon that ac- serve notice. I should like to see a writer count, they are less frequent than they of Dr. Robertson's abilities give us a history would otherwise be, which seems an advan- upon this plan; but I think his reflections of tage. Both sides keep up returns of civility this sort are too general, too cold, and too and affection ; but as they cannot unite in few. What an empty phantom do the great sentiment and leading inclination, they will men of the world pursuè, while they wage not contrive to be very often together, ex war with the peace of mankind, and butcher, cept there is something considerable given in the course of their lives, perhaps hundreds up by one or the other; and I think chris- of thousands, to maintain the shadow of autians ought to be very cautious what conces- thority over distant nations, whom they can sions they make upon this account. But as reach with no other influence than that of I said at the beginning, no general positive oppression and devastation! But when we rules can be laid down.
consider those who are sacrificed to their I have simply given your Lordship such ambition, as justly suffering for their sins, thoughts as have occurred to me while writ- then heroes and conquerors appear in their ing, without study, and without coherence. proper light, and worthy to be classed with I dare not be dogmatical; but I think what earthquakes and pestilences, as instruments I have written is agreeable both to particu- of divine vengeance. So many cares, so lar texts, and to the general tenor of scrip- much pains, so many mischiefs, -merely to ture. I submit it to your judgment.--I support the idea a worm has formed of his
own grandeur, is a proof that man, by nature, is not only depraved, but infatuated.' Permit
me to present my thoughts to more advanLETTER XXVI.
tage in the words of M. Nicole:
“ Un grand dans son idée n'est pas un
July - 1777. seul homme; c'est un homme environ de MY LORD,-I owe your Lordship a quire tous ceux qui sont à lui, et qui s'imagine of letters for the favour and pleasure of your avoir autant de bras qu'ils en ont tous enlate visit; and therefore I must begin and semble, parce qu'il en dispose et qu'il les rewrite away.
Un general d'armée se represente I have lately read Robertson's History of toujours à luimême au milieu de tous ses Charles V., which, like most other histories, soldats. Ainsi chacun tâche d'occuper le I consider as a comment upon those passiges plus de place qu'il peut dans son imagination, of scripture which teach us the depravity of et l'on ne se pousse, et ne s'aggrandit dans nan, the deceitfulness of the heart, the ruin- le monde, que pour augmenter l'idée que ous effects of sin, and the powerful, though chacun se forme de soi-même. Voilà le but secret rule of divine providence, moving, di- de tous les desseins ambitieux des hommes ! recting, and controlling the designs and ac- Alexandre et Cesar n'ont point eu d'autre tions of men, with an unerring hand, to the vûe dans toutes leurs batailles que celle-là. accomplishment of his own purposes, both Et si l'on demande pourquoi le Grand Seigof mercy and juilgment. Without the clue neur a fait depuis peu perir cent mille honand the light which the word of God affords, mes devant Candie, on peut repondre surethe history of mankind, of any, of every age, ment, que ce n'est que pour attacher encore only presents to view a labyrinth and a à cette image interieure qu'il a de lui-même, chaos; a detail of wickedness and misery to le titre de conquerant. make us tremble, and a confused jumble of How awful is the case of those who live interfering incidents, as destitute of stability, and die in such a spirit, and who have multiconnexion, or order, as the clouds which fly plied miseries upon their fellow-creatures, in over our heads. In this view, Delirant order to support and feed it! Perhaps they reges, plectuntur Achivi, may serve as a may, upon their entrance on another state, motto to all the histories I have seen; but, be accosted by multitudes, to the purport of with the scripture key, all is plain, all is in- that sarcastical language in the prophet's structive. Then I see verily there is a God, sublime ode of triumph over the king of who governs the earth, who pours contempt Babylon, Is. xiv. 5–17. upon princes, takes the wise in their own craftiness, over-rules the wrath and pride of
* Essais de Morale, vol. i.
Hic est, quem fuga, quem pavor
Lord of Hosts. Great and small are but Præcessit? hic, quem terricolis gravis
relative terms; and the passions of disconStrages secuta est, vastitasque? hic Attoniti spoliator orbis?
tent, pride, and envy, which, in the breast
of a potentate, are severely felt by one half But though the effects of this principle of of Europe, exert themselves with equal self are more extensive and calamitous, in strength in the heart of a peasant; though, proportion as those who are governed by it for want of materials and opportunities, are more elevated, the principle itself is deep their operations are confined within narrow rooted in every heart, and is the spring of bounds. We are fallen into a state of gross every action, till grace infuses a new prin- idolatry, and self is the idol we worship.-1 ciple, and self, like Dagon, falls before the am, &c.
THE REVEREND MR. S
method revealed in his word; tnat is, those
who are truly partakers of faith and holiness.
June 23, 1775. For as the religion of the New Testament DEAR SIR,- I have met with interruptions, ascribes all power to God, and considers all till now, or you would have heard from me goodness in us as the effect of his communicasooner. My thoughts have run much upon tion, we being by nature destitute of spiritual the subject of your last, because I perceive life or light, so those whom God himself is it has a near connexion with your peace. pleased to teach, will infallibly attain the Your integrity greatly pleases me; far be it knowledge of all that they are concerned to from me to shake the principle of your con- know. This teaching you are waiting for, duct, yet in the application I think there is a and it shall be given you; yea, the Lord, I possibility of carrying your exceptions too trust, has begun to teach you already; but far.
if you consider yourself as a learner, and From the account you give me of your sen- that it is possible, under the Spirit's increastiments, I cannot but wonder you find it so ing illumination, you may hereafter adopt difficult to accede to the Athanasian Creed, some things which at present you cannot apwhen it seems to me you believe and avow prove, I should think it too early as yet to what that Creed chiefly sets forth. The doc- prescribe to yourself rules and determinations trine of the Trinity, some explication of the for the government of your future life terms being subjoined, is the catholic faith, Should the will of God appoint you a new without the belief of which a man cannot be path for service, he may, sooner than you are saved. This damnatory clause seems to me aware, quiet your mind, and enable you to proved by Mark xvi. 16, “He that believeth subscribe with as full a persuasion of mind as shall be saved,” &c. The object of faith must you now object to subscription. If it debe truth. The doctrine of the deity of Christ, pended upon me, I could be content that the and of the Holy Spirit, in union with the Fa-Creed should rest at the bottom of the sea, tuer, so that they are not three Gods, but one rather than embarrass a single person of your God, is not merely a proposition expressed in disposition. Nor am I a warm stickler for words, to which our assent is required, but is subscription in itself; but something of this absolutely necessary to be known, since with- kind seems necessary, upon the supposition out it no one truth respecting salvation can of an establishment. be rightly understood, no one promise duly When I think of an inclosure, some hedge, believed, no one duty spiritually performed. wall, bank, ditch, &c. is of course included I take it for granted, that this doctrine must in my idea; for who can conceive of an inappear irrational and absurd in the eye of closure without a boundary? So, in a nareason, if. by reason we mean the reason of tional church, there must be, I apprehend, man in his fallen state, before it is corrected something marked out, the approbation or and enlightened by a heavenly teach No refusal of which will determine who do or do man can say Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy not belong to it; and for this purpose articles Ghost. I believe with you, that a man may of some kind seem not improper. You think be saved who never heard of the Creed, who it would be better to have these articles in never read any book but the New Testament scriptural expressions. But if it be lawful or perhaps a single Evangelist; but he must to endeavour to exclude from our pulpits be taught of God the things that accompany men who hold sentiments the most repugsalvation, or I do not think he can be saved. nant to the truth, I wish you to consider, The mercies of God in Christ will not save whether this can be in any measure secured any, as I apprehend, but according to the by articles in which the scripture-doctrines
are not explained and stated, as well as ex- | perhaps, they have a serious interval, or some pressed. This proposal is strenuously plead- comparative sobriety of character, they ground ed for by many in our day, upon views very their hopes upon their own doings, endeavours, different from yours. The Socinians, for in- or purposes; and treat the inexpressible love stance, would readily subscribe a scriptural of God revealed in Christ, and the gospel declaration of the high priesthood, atonement, method of salvation by faith in his name, with and intercession of Christ (while they are al neglect, often with contempt. They have lowed to put their own sense upon the terms,) preachers, whom perhaps they hear with some though the sense they maintain be utterly pleasure because they neither alarm their inconsistent with what those who are en-consciences by insisting on the spirituality and lightened by the Holy Spirit learn from the sanction of the divine law, nor offend their same expressions.
pride by publishing the humiliating doctrines I acknowledge, indeed, that the end is not of that gospel, which is the power of God answered by the present method; since there through faith unto salvation. Therefore are too many, like the person you mention, what they do speak, they speak in vain; the who would easily subscribe nine hundred ar- world grows worse and worse under their inticles, rather than baulk his preferment: yet structions; infidelity and profligacy abound the profligacy of some seems to be no just more and more; for God will own no other reason why the church, why any church, doctrine but what the apostle calls the truth should not be at liberty to define the terms as it is in Jesus; that doctrine which drives upon which they will accept members or the sinner from all his vain pleas, and points teachers, or why conscientious persons should out the Lord Jesus Christ as the only ground object to these terms (if they think them of hope, the supreme object of desire, as apagreeable to the truth,) merely because they pointed of God to be wisdom, righteousness, are not expressed in the precise words of sanctification, and redemption, to all who bescripture. If allowance may be made for lieve in his name. When ministers themhuman infirmity in the Liturgy, I see not selves are convinced of sin, and feel the newhy the Articles may not be entitled to the cessity of an almighty Saviour, they presame privilege. For it seems requisite that sently account their former gain but loss, and we should be as well satisfied with the ex- determine, with the apostle, to know nothing pressions we use with our lips, in frequent but Jesus Christ and him crucified. In prosolemn prayer to God, as in what we subscribe portion as they do this, they are sure to be with our hands. I am persuaded that the wondered at, laughed at, and railed at, if the leaders of the Association at the Feathers providence of God and the constitution of Tavern, some of them at least, though they their country, secure them from severer treatbegin with the affair of subscription, would ment. But they have this invaluable comnot (if they might have their wish) stop there, pensation, that they no longer speak without but would go on with their projected reform, effect. In a greater or less degree a change till they had overturned the Liturgy also, or takes place in their auditories; the blind reat least weeded it from every expression that ceive their sight, the deaf hear, the lepers are bears testimony to the deity of the Saviour, cleansed ;-sinners are turned from darkness and the efficacious influence of the Holy Spi- to light, and from the power of Satan to God; rit. I bless God that you are far otherwise -sinful practices are forsaken; and a new minded.
course of life in the converts, evidences that I hope, however, though you should not they have not followed cunningly-devised think yourself
at liberty to repeat your sub- fables, or taken up with uncertain notions; scription, the Lord will make you comforta- but that God has indeed quickened them by ble and useful in your present rank as a cu- his Spirit, and given them an understanding rate. Preferment is not necessary, either to to know him that is true. The preachers, our peace or usefulness. We may live and likewise, while they attempt to teach others, die contentedly, without the honours and are taught themselves: a blessing descends emoluments which aspiring men thirst atter, upon their studies and labours, upon their if he be pleased to honour us with a dispen- perusal of the scriptures, upon their attention sation to preach his gospel, and to crown our to what passes within them and around them. endeavours with a blessing. He that win- The events of every day contribute to throw neth souls is wise; wise in the choice of the light upon the word of God: their views of highest end he can propose to himself in this divine truth grow more enlarged, connected, life; wise in the improvement of the only and comprehensive; many difficulties which means by which this desirable end can be at- perplexed them at their first setting out, tained. Wherever we cast our eyes, the bulk trouble them no more; the God whom they of the people are ignorant, immoral, careless. serve, and on whom they wait, reveals to They live without God in the world;
they are them those great things, which, though neither awed by his authority, nor affected by plainly expressed in the letter of scripture, his goodness, nor enabled to trust to his pro- cannot be understood and realized without mises, nor disposed to aim at his glory. If, | divine teaching, I Cor. ii. 9 to 15. Thus
they go on from strength to strength; hard | Lord first finds us when we are thinking of things become easy, and a divine light shines something else, Isaiah lxv. 1; and then we upon their paths. Opposition from men per- begin to seek him in good earnest, and he haps may increase; they may expect to be has promised to be found of us.
People may, represented, as those who turn the world by industry and natural abilities, make themupside down; the cry, uyudan Aptimos, will selves masters of the external evidences of be raised against them, the gates of the tem- christianity, and have much to say for and ple of preferment will be seldom open to against different schemes and systems of them; but they will have the unspeakable sentiments; but all this while the heart reconsolation of applying to themselves those mains untouched. True religion is not a lively words of the apostle, es du Toupe Evos, azo do science of the head, so much as an inward Zusetites, 5 110X06, sondous de 710050 Çortis, ws pandise and heartfelt perception, which casts down *%**T!), **• **412*Arixortas. It is the strain of evident sincerity which itself in the mind, and brings every thought
imaginations, and every uit when that exalteth runs through your letters, that gives me a into a sweet and willing subjection to Christ pleasing confidence the Lord is with you. by faith. Here the learned have no real adA disinterested desire of knowing the truth, vantage above the ignorant; both see when with a willingness to follow it through all the eyes of the understanding are enlightdisadvantages, is a preparation of the heart ened; till then both are equally blind. And which only God can give. He has directed the first lesson in the school of Christ is to you to the right method, searching the scrip- become a little child, sitting simply at his tures, with prayer.
feet, that we may be made wise unto salvablessing attend you. You may see, from
tion. what I have written above, what is the de
I was not only prevented beginning my sire of my heart for you. But I am not im- letter so soon as I wished, but have been unpatient. Follow your heavenly leader, and usually interrupted since I began it. Often, in his own time and manner he will make
as soon as I could well take the pen in hand, your way plain. I have travelled the path I have been called a way to attend company before you, I see what you yet want; I can- and intervening business
. Though I pernot impart it to you, but he can, and I trust suade myself, after what I have formerly he will. It will rejoice my soul to be any said, you will put a favourable construction way assistant to you; but I am afraid I should not afford you much, either profit or upon my delay, yet it has given me some
pain. I set a great value upon your offer of satistaction, by entering upon a dry defence friendship, which, I trust
, will not be interof creeds and articles. The truths of' scripture are not like mathe- rupted on either side by the freedom with
which we mutually express our difference of matical theorems, which present exactly the sentiments, when we are constrained to differ. same ideas to every person who understands You please me with entrusting me with the the terms. The word of God is compared first rough draught of your thoughts; and to a mirror, 2 Cor. iii. 18: but it is a mirror
you may easily perceive by my manner of in which the longer we look the inore we see; the view will be still growing upon us ; your candour. I shall be glad to exchange
writing, that I place equal contidence in and still we shall see but in part while on letters as often as it suits us, without conthis side eternity. When our Lord nounced Peter blessed, declaring he had who is always present wiih our hearts make
pro straint, ceremony, or apology; and may he learnt that which flesh and blood could not have taught him, yet Peter was at that time our correspondence useful. I pray God to be
your sun and shield, your light and strength, much in the dark. The sufferings and death of Jesus, though the only and necessary with his gracious presence in your own
to guide you with his eye, to comfort you means of his salvation, were an offence to soul, and to make you a happy instrument him. But he lived to glory in what he once of comforting many.— I am, &c. could not bear to hear of. Peter had received grace to love the Lord Jesus, to follow hiin, to venture all, and to forsake all for him; these first good dispositions were of
LETTER II. God, and they led to turther advances. So it is still. By nature, self rules in the heart:
July 14, 1775. when this idol is brought low, and we are
MY DEAR FRIEND,- I gladly adopt your truly willing to be the Lord's, and to apply address, and can assure you that the interto him for strength and direction, that we change of every letter unites my heart more may serve him, the good work is begun ; for closely to you. I am glad to tind that your it is a truth that upholds universally and views of articles and creeds are not likely to without exception, a man can receive noth- hinder you from going forward in your preing except it be given him from heaven. The
sent situation; and if, without contracting Great is Diana.
† 2 Cor. vi. 10. your usefulness, they only prove a bar to