Imágenes de páginas

be done to the church by the prosecution, was removed by sudden death. One of the witnesses, who lived at Cromish, was prevented by a violent disease, of which he afterwards died. Another of them fell down and broke his leg, and so was hindered. In short, of seven or eight persons engaged in this wicked design, there was but one left who was capable of appearing. He was a gardener, who had been frequently employed by Mr. Stennet at day-labour, but who had never been admitted in the meeting this man was expected to be a very material evidence, and was kept in liquor several days for that purpose. But coming to his reason just as the assizes drew on, he went about the town, exclaiming against himself for his ingratitude and perjury; and absolutely refused to go. So that when Mr. Stennet came to Newbury, neither prosecutor nor witness appearing against him, he was discharged of course.

It is a dangerous thing to obstruct the free course of the gospel, and oppose the ministers of it. Let persecutors remember the words of Jesus Christ,-"Saul! Saul! why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks" that is, it is as foolish and fruitless, wounding and destructive, as it would be to kick with your naked heel against briers and thorns, spurs and spears. [Ka] And let the preachers of the gospel take courage; for if Christ will work, who shall hinder it?


By the law of God, we may understand what it has pleased God at any time to reveal, as the rule of conduct for mankind; in distinction from what he has revealed for their encouragement in the performance of it. This is commonly called the Moral Law; but is not distinguished by that term, from what respects our conduct toward God; nor limited to what is commonly called Morality. Differences of opinion, and consequently disputes, have arisen among pious people concerning the design and proper use of this law. It may, therefore, be of considerable advantage, to consider with candour and simplicity, a subject so important in its nature, notwithstanding the frequency with which it may have been discussed.

The first design of the law of God, might be to make known his just and holy character. It is only so far as God is known, that his authority is likely to be revered, or his goodness to be prized. It is only so far as we obey what appears in our various circumstances, to be his will for our conduct, that we can reasonably regard ourselves as resembling God. Be ye holy," he has said," because (and as) I am holy."


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

A second view of the Lord's design in giving his law, is for our practical direction, how to promote his glory among our fellow-creatures. His glory appears, from the scriptures, to have been his design in all his works and ways. No other object was worthy of infinite perfection. But the knowledge of his perfections, as afforded by his holy, just, and perfect law, can only be carried into effect by us, so as to influence others, by a conformity to his precepts. We are therefore enjoined, whatsoever we do, to glorify God.

Our personal safety and happiness, is an object very inferior to the general advancement of the glory of God; but is inseparably united with it. It becomes us, therefore, to consider God as divulging his will for our conduct, with a view to our greatest honour and blessedness, here and hereafter. "In keeping his commandments, there is great reward."

But the law of God is not to be considered merely as a directory. Human laws are sanctioned by an authority which ensures the punishment of transgressors. How much more the divine law? Under the Mosiac dispensation, every outward commission of sin was requited with temporal penalties, and in various cases with death. In that more awful dispensation of the divine law, which is promulgated in the New Testament, the clearest and strongest denunciations are given of future and endless punishment for the sins of the heart. A further design of God's law, is therefore evidently to awaken the sinner's conscience to a sense both of his guilt and his danger, in having incurred the curse of him who destroys both soul and body, and casts them into Hell, as well as to deter from the practice of sin by the terrors of eternal judgment.

It is obvious, that a law worthy of God must exceed the capacity of a depraved creature to fulfil. To man in a fallen state, it therefore cannot be designed to make known a way of future happiness and glory; but it must be directed to the needful purpose of producing humiliation, self-despair, and carnest desire for a salvation suited to the extremity of his wants.

Hence, the law is adapted to prepare the sinner's mind for a cordial reception of the gospel of Jesus Christ; to rejoice that salvation is by grace, through faith, and that not of our selves, but the gift of God; and to flee to the Redeemer, as possessing every attribute of power and grace, that his guilt, pollution, and helplessness require.

The design of the law of God does not end where salvation begins: it is profitable for the instruction, the admonition, and the sanctification of the believer. He beholds with reverence and delight, what before was an object of terror and distress. He admires and he loves God's law. He discovers in it the beauty of holiness; and desires to contemplate it as perfectly exhibited in the pattern of Christ, and exalted in honour by his

[ocr errors]

work and sufferings, that he may be changed into the same image. The promise and the experience of the Holy Spirit, working in him to will and to do, with the certainty of acceptance through faith in the all-sufficient Mediator, render his yoke easy and his burden light; while a constant sense of short-comings overwhelms with holy shame, fills with gratitude for abounding grace, and prompts to ardent desire for the increase of God, and the everlasting fruition of his presence. RABKASHER.



Rev. Sir, and much honoured Father in Christ,

I AM ambitious of obeying your kind desire (by my mother) of writing to you, though I am sensible of my utter anworthiness of speaking to any of God's people; yet, when I consider the relation dear Mr. Whitefield stands in to me, I mean that of a spiritual father, if I am born again of God (which my proneness to evil, and backwardness to the things of God, often makes me doubt) under soul troubles, had I access, I should naturally flee to him for direction. Permit me, Sir, to inform you, it is now six years ago, since Curiosity first drew me to hear you. I confess, it was to spy the nakedness of the land I came,-to pity the folly of the preacher, the infatuation of the hearers, and to abhor the doctrine. But, ab Sir, God arose, and "had mercy upon Zion; for the time to favour her, yea, the set time was come." The text you took was, "O, generation of vipers! who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" Instead of hearing for others, as I intended, I was enabled to hear for myself, and to discover what a deplorable situation my soul was in. I went pitying the poor deluded Methodists; but came away envying their happiness. I thought the calm of their faces bespoke a serenity of mind, to which I was a stranger; and which, I thought, did I possess, I could look persecution in the face, and say, "The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage!" But here lay the cause of my sorrow:- I constantly attended the Tabernacle for two years and seven months; cut down for sin, groaning for deliverance, and yet dare not say, Christ was mine! Alas! thought I, to be despised by all my friends here, and then lost at last, O how hard is my lot! I thought then the Lord had dealt very bitterly with me; though since, I find it was all in mercy. At the end of that time the Lord was graciously pleased to let me experimentally know the happiness of that person whose iniquities were covered, and to whom the


Lord will not impnte sin. Since that time, I have sometimes sunshiny, sometimes cloudy and dark days to my soul; but all my satisfaction is this, "The foundation of God standeth sure;" and, I believe, when he brings his people from this dark Egyptian world to Heaven, he will not leave a hoof behind; but of all that are given Christ, he will lose nothing. O, my soul exults in the faithfulness of God! and when my heart is overwhelmed within me, it is my desire to be led to the Rock that is higher than I am. O, my dear Sir, how many additional trials have I met with, since God has called me to prophecy to his people Israel! I can feelingly say, what was said of the Israelites, "The soul of the people was much discouraged, because of the way." A sight of my ignorance in judgment, my coldness in affection; my life so little agreeable to that dear pattern whom I love, though I cannot imitate as I would; the worth of people's souls, the necessity of earnestness and seriousness in soul-affairs, and my insufficiency for these things, discourage me yet I dare not say, "The Lord has been a barren wilderness to me;" though I have been a barren tree to him, year after year. I trust, Sir, the fields are white, ready to harvest; and O! what an honour it is to hear God "Put in say, the sickle, the harvest is come." How often do I tremble, fest I should run before I am sent! yet I dare not say the Lord has left me without witness; multitudes of people come to hear the word, both in Norwich and the country; and the Lord is searching his sheep by the word, and causing many to come forth from darkness to light. O, Sir, one shout of a king among us, what work it does! Many people would rejoice to see you, Sir, in this city; and we solicit our Lord for it, and trust, in his due time, to see you. Dear Sir, don't forget poor Norwich at the throne of grace. The cause of God is Low here; and though God gives us a little reviving again now, yet my soul is pierced through with many sorrows, to see the present situation of affairs. Dear Sir, help us, by your prayers, that pure and undefiled religion may gain ground again, and the things that remain, and are ready to die, be strengthened. I hope, Sir, you will excuse my long letter; and interpret the freedom I take, as flowing from that sincere love in my heart, which, as my spiritual father, I must bear towards you. I trust, you will look on me as one of your children, surrounded here with trials; and favour me with a line or two of instruction, reproof, correction, or what you think proper: and now, Sir, wishing you prosperity, to be an instrument of bringing many sons to glory, I beg leave to subscribe myself your very affectionate,

though most unworthy, son and servant,


Norwich, May 10, 1758..

[ocr errors]



My dear Child,

This day was designed for other employment than this; but the severity of the weather has confined me to my fire-side, and afforded me an agreeable opportunity of conversing an hour or two in this manner with my child. I thank my God that he was pleased to refresh your soul with his divine grace; and, for a few days at least, to enable my child, as it were, to see his God, tho' it was at a distance. How my heart rejoiced to find such an acknowledgment from yourself! Oh! there are blessed things laid up for you. Rich mercy! Plenteous redemption will be yours! It is not far off, and it is sure. If I judge from my own heart, you will be pleased to hear from me; and the very thought of affording you one drop of comfort, though it were but for a moment, made my heart burn within me for an opportunity of writing.

My dear young man, I love you; and though you know it as well as I do, yet it pleases me to tell you I love you. I love you in the bowels of my dear and blessed Master;-I love you, because he loved you, and bought you with his blood; - I love you, because you love him, and are one of his dear children; and I love you, because he has been graciously pleased to make you one of mine. Again, I thank him, because you had liberty to thank him. Oh that the blessing may be bestowed on you again! and it will, and I know it will, abound in you more and more. Oh! why does my child yet complain? If you cannot rejoice in possession, rejoice in hope; "the Strength of Israel cannot lie." But you want faith; and what then? Look and see, whose is the gift of faith. Is it not God's? Yet you are out of the way. Never keep sorrowing because you want faith; but go to him, that you may have it. You know how earnestly he inculcated it upon his disciples: "Where is your faith" "O ye of little faith!" And if you remember, he, in like manner, in his word, calls us to repentance, to love, and obedience; none of which graces we can possibly exercise till he giveth us the power. In full trust then upon his faithful word, let us venture into his presence, that he may help our unbelief; that he may grant us repentance unto life; that he may shed abroad his love in our hearts, which alone can kindle ours; that he may sanctify our hearts, and enable us to bring forth fruit unto holiness; that our end may be everlasting life.

My dear young man, in the ever blessed Jesus you will find a supply for all your wants! yes, even for your want of faith! Trust and try therefore,-trust and pray; pray, that you

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »