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glory than that of the Lord of Hosts. It is good 'to be always zealously affected in a good thing; 'but we should take heed that our zeal do not de
generate into rancour; and that we do not vio'late the mild and benevolent spirit of the gospel, 'under the plausible pretence of zeal for the 'truths of it.'
There is nothing upon earth that staggers me more than the consciences of some professing men. Had I been left to myself to discover in the pulpit such malice and indignation against any man, that I believed in my conscience to be a child of God, as Mr. Evans did against me, I could no more have sent such a paragraph as this into the world, than I could have expected to be saved without pardon, or hope for heaven without grace. My conscience would have condemned me for hypocrisy in every line, and made me lay down my pen: and so would yours, if she had done her office; and, as she did not, these smooth things of yours betray no small degree of insensibility, distance from God, and hardness of heart. Did you remember the words of your divine Master? Did you know what spirit you were of? Was you not influenced by a spirit of pride and self-importance, like Jehu? Was not self at the bottom? And was not your zeal and malice for your own glory, instead of the glory of the Lord of Hosts, when you fell, like lightning from heaven, upon the person, ministry, and reputation, of the coalheaver? Do you not, Sir, condemn your conduct by your own
pen, and expose yourself to the judgment of the Lord out of your own mouth? For you can shew no just cause or impediment why I should fall under all your degenerate rancour, and be finally excluded from the mild and benevolent spirit of the gospel, that you contend for, under your plausible zeal for the truths of it.
'But oh! beware of the opposite fatal extreme of cold indifference. Let no pretence of charity 'betray you into an indifference to truth. Load 'not with anathemas those that differ from you about what is truth, but do not give them reason 'to despise you for your indifference to what you profess to receive as truth. Without pretending 'to judge the state of any individual who does not ' receive as truth that which you do, you cannot slight or be indifferent about truth itself, any 'one known truth, without offering the highest 'insult to the God of truth, and precluding your'selves from those important advantages which 'those who receive it in the love of it are sure to derive from it.'
It is a good thing, Sir, to guard the saints against a cold indifference; but the doctrine of this letter will never stir up the hallowed fire of a lukewarm professor. Nothing can warm a cold heart, rekindle an expiring spark, or inflame the smoking flax, but a spiritual union with him who is Israel's holy flame, and Zion's refiner's fire. All fire that is not fetched from this altar will prove but sparks of our own kindling. You en
force heat without union: "If two lie together, they have heat; but how can one be warm alone?" When Jesus communes with us by the way, and opens to us the Scriptures, then it is that our hearts burn within us: but you are calling for warmth without union, communion, or fellowship; and, to tell you the truth, reverend Sir, this letter yours is as much influenced by the climate of the frigid zone as any heart ever was in the Laodicean church of old. I would advise you, therefore, to procure a live coal from the altar first yourself: it is that which makes a minister a flaming fire; and, when a burning and a shining light is set on the candlestick, it will give a light to all that are in the house, and set the smoking flax in a flame. There is no communicating the sweet influences of Pleiades without removing the frozen bands of Orion, Job xxxviii. 31.
Seven times, in this short quotation, you enforce the word, truth. But pray, Sir, what is truth? A sevenfold knowledge, communicated by the promised light of seven days, Isa. xxx. 26, will keep a saint from indifference about the truth. The first is, a cordial reception, in meekness, of the ingrafted word of truth, with a persuasion that it is in deed and in truth the word of God; being attended with the spirit and power of truth, who sheds abroad in the heart the everlasting love of the God of truth, which sweetly draws the soul to him that is the way to the Father, the truth of the bible, and the life of the saint; and all this
accompanied with the true witness of the Spirit, in the court of conscience, that such a happy soul is justified, adopted, and sealed up by the Spirit of God to the day of eternal redemption; having the knowledge of the true God, which is eternal life. This is truth in the abstract, truth in the heart, and in the head; in the power of it, in the light of it, and in the experience of it, in the love of it, and in the enjoyment of it. If you do not discover and enforce the powerful application and operation of the Spirit of truth upon the hearts, minds, and consciences of men, as well as the word, how shall we know a true preacher of the kingdom of God, which is in power, from a mere pretender to it, who endeavours to make it stand in word? You know, reverend Sir, that Balaam prophesied truth, while he was united to the father of lies, in the very bond of iniquity: and others did the same in the apostles' days; on which account Paul calls, not for the speech of them that are puffed up, but the power; for the kingdom of God is not in word.
Is the gospel a faithful saying, and wor'thy of all acceptation, and shall we receive it 'as though it were of no importance whether we receive it or not? Shall we pretend to re'ceive it, and yet scarcely think it worthy an inquiry what it is, what truth it contains, what hopes it inspires, what prospects it opens? Are there heresies which, without rashly pronouning upon any individual who may fall into them,
are in their nature and general tendency de'structive, and shall we not be anxious to dis'cover and avoid them? Are there truths reveal'ed which are the wisdom of God, and the power ' of God unto salvation, and shall we not be desirous to know, embrace them, and feel the energy of them working in us?'
Shall we receive the gospel as though it were of no importance? &c. This Shall we, Shall we not, savours too much of the old cask. Arguments, bottomed on the old foundation, and enforced by the energy of free-will, never do any execution like those that are discharged from God's quiver. When you have spent all the forcible weapons of free-agency, then make use of a few from the sovereign and absolute will of God, and you will soon make way through the joints of the sinner's harness. A hardened sinner, or careless professor, will esteem such artillery as straw; and a brazen brow will repel them as rotten wood. If the reinforcements of free-agency had served you as they did Peter, we should have had a pure language from you, like that of the true circumcision, who rejoice in Christ, and have no confidence in the flesh. It is for want of being emptied from vessel to vessel that so much of the old lees appears in the cup: and for want of the springing well in the heart, the dregs of the old fountain make the streams run turbid: that which flows from the fountain of life through the throne of God and the Lamb, is clear as crystal,