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I have been greatly disappointed at church to day; notwithstanding the weather still continued wet and gloomy, a very large audience were collected, and they heard with fixed altention, while I preached on the 15th, 16th, and 17th verses of the 3d chapter of Matthew :
“ And Jesus answering, said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered
“ And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
“ And lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
I had great freedom of speech upon the above subject; I am not so vain as to suppose that I by my own power can enlighten any mind, but this I know, I see and feel the truth with much greater force at some times, than at others, and I am inclined to suppose, that on those happy occasions, I am better understood by my hearers.
But, be this as it may, I experience a secret satisfaction, originating in the consideration, of my having been once more indulged with an opportunity, of delivering, in this place, what I believe to be the truth as it is in Jesus.
I would give you the heads of my discourse, but I must make up this letter, and you will be at no loss to read the text as designed by the spirit of truth. I am, &c. &c.
As there appears to be so many inquirers in this town, I have determined to continue here a few days longer, and I am persuaded my friends will acquiesce. “Think not that I am come to send peace upon the earth; I come not to send peace, but a sword. “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and + the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. “And a man’s foes shall be those of his own household.” Thus saith our Saviour. Religious dissensions are truly inveterate. Dreadful are the ravages which have been made in France and England by men of A various religious sects, styling themselves Christians. Fagots have been lighted, the sword hath been drawn, and thousands ushered into eternity. Even in this new world, the spirit of persecution has been carried to astonishing lengths; especially when it is remembered, that the 1 fathers of this country fled from religious tyranny, from persecuting bigotry. A poor fellow has just left me, who is in the depths of distress from the domestic misery which has been occasioned by his embracing the truth as it is in Jesus; his wife is a religious adversary, and never will consent to his worshiping God in the way which she calls heresy. Can I, he exclaims, be unfaithful to my Saviour, and yet my beloved companion is dearer to me than my own soul. What renders this business more calamitous, is, an opinion expressed by their teacher, that no person who was not born again, before he was forty years of age, could ever see God. This sentiment was delivered in the autumn of the year, and on the following May, both the man and the woman would complete their fortieth year. The distress of the honest pair was beyond description; they could attend to no business, and considered themselves as wretches under sentence of death, and that with the coming spring their
warrant would be signed. They passed the winter in tears and supplications, and just before the expiration of the appointed time, the woman obtained peace, where there was no peace, that is in herself. She delayed not to communicate the glad tidings to her minister, who confirmed her in the persuasion that she was a convert, and now a child of God, and that her efforts had secured an interest in Christ Jesus / But the poor man continued in a state of reprobation, and with inexpressible horror of mind he completed his fortieth year. He attended a lecture, which about that time I delivered in this place, and it pleased God to show him the truth as it is in Jesus; that the Redcemer died for his sins and rose again for his justification. He was in raptures, and eager to bring his companion, into an acquaintance with the same grace and truth, but she is impressed with an idea that he is given over to a reprobate mind, to strong delusions, that he may believe a lie, and that nothing but a miracle of divine grace can rescue him from everlasting damnation; thus believing, she is of course wretched, and her misery is in exact proportion to the affection she bcars her husband, while she is labouring by prayers and tears to produce the miracle which she hopes will effectuate his salvation. We may lament, but we cannot alter. We, however, faithfully cxpect the coming of him, who shall rectify every disorder. I find many heads of families in this place, in a situation similar to this gentleman. They are made unhappy, by those devout and honourable women, who are exceeding zealous in their opposition to truth. I preached last evening to a large congregation, upon the first Psalm, and afterwards met a circle of worshippers, who assemble together in the spirit of the gospel; we were consoled and edified, and I had an opportunity of rectifying some errors, which hath insensibly mingled with the truth of God. The devices of the grand adversary are manifold. Blessed be God, they will finally turn upon his own head. There are, as I said, a vast many serious inquirers in this place, and there is much to do here : I am, I assure you, constantly employed, and I greatly rejoice, that my Saviour is making use of me to open the understanding of those, who, as the election, are appointed to obtain, what, for wise reasons, is at present hidden from the rest of the world. Inquirers are frequently confounded, to find
the objections which, in the language of revelation, they so exultingly propose, prove, upon investigation, positive evidences in our favour.
A clergyman has arrived from a neighbouring town, armed with! pride, and prejudice, for the express purpose of silencing me. I expect him every moment. I am told I ought to prepare for much ill treatment.
I hope I shall not be provoked to speak unadvisediy with my lips. O! that on these occasions we could be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Apprized as I am, of the character of my opponent, I shall be unpardonable if I be not upon this occasion on my guard.
I confess I do not, on any occasion, wish to meet, or converse with any of these gentlemen ; few of them have exercised candour or good nature toward me; prejudice hath blinded them. But I pray God that the weapons of my warfare may be spiritual, not carnal; may I, upon all these occasions, never forget what I myself once was ; may I remember who hath compassion on the ignorant, and those who are out of the way. May I meet this gentleman, should he persist in his resolution, as a disciple of the meek and lowly Jesus.
My discourse upon the first Psalm has disappointed many; some are angry, that I «lid not preach my principles, that I described the blessed man precisely as other ministers would have done. But this they impute to my cunning ; degrading phrase. Others say, that they heard me patiently, until I came to show that Christ Jesus was the alone blessed man; that it was he, and he only, who never had walked in the council of the ungodly, never had been found standing in the way of sinners, nor setting in the seat of the scornful; when they were exceeding mad, and departed in a great rage.
I am told great fears are now entertained relative to the prevalence of what they call heresy; formerly it was believed that it came into this country with me and would die with me. It is not wonderful they are thus alarmcd ; when I first came into America there was not a single preacher, hardly a hearer, who had any idea of the true Christ the Saviour of the world; now believers are multiplied and churches are founded: Yes, yes, the knowledge of the salvation of God will grow exceedingly.
This same clergyman has changed his purpose! Ever since I was last here he has been complaining that he could not meet me. Wish
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ing for an opportunity, and declaring how readily he could confound me, he has entered the town; but his heart failing him, he has returned as he came. I think it will give you satisfaction to learn that I am diligently employed in the service of my Divine Master; that I feel his presence; that I in some measure see the pleasure of the Lord prosper in my hands, and that my soul is satisfied there with. It is in this confidence, that from time to time I inform you where and when I speak to the blood-bought inheritance in the name of their Redeemer; and it is for this reason I occasionally sketch for you my subject and its effect. I finished last evening the subject I began the day before, and the congregation was as usual large and attentive. After meeting a respectable company assembled at my lodgings, before whom, agreeably to their desire, I dwelt upon the hatred of God to one brother and his love to the other; and upon that passage which declares some shall rise to the resurrection of life, and some to the resurrection of damnation. An inquirer also introduced that remarkable portion of sacred writ, where our Lord expressly says, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me before men, of him will I be ashamed before my Father and his holy angels.” I endeavoured, according to the small acquaintance our Saviour was pleased to give me with his divine word, to illumine and satisfy the minds of my friends with respect to each of these particulars; and I believe they were generally satisfied. A Mr. F , however, asked the following question. Mr. F. Pray, Sir, does the Bible contain a single text, which justifies the idea of any person quitting this world in a state of unbelief, and becoming a believer in the next? M. Did you never read any such text in the Bible, Sir? Mr. F. No ; I declare I never did. M. Did you never read—“I said you shall die in your sins, and if you die in your sins, where I am you cannot come 2" Mr. F. O yes; and many more passages to the same purpose. M. What greaterproof can you require that mankind will hereafter know, and knowing believe, what they neither know, nor believe in the present state; seeing it is written, they shall all know me from the least to the greatest; and to know God is life eternal Again, they shall all be taught of God, and all who learneth of the Father cometh unto me. However, if these passages be not sufficiently direct, let us inquire of the Psalmist. Psalm xxii. 27, 28, 29: