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If atonement for actual sin be the proper object of our faith, it must be also the foundation of our hope and love, and indeed of all true religion. The whole springs from the atonement through the influence of faith; therefore to deny atonement for actual sins is to subvert the foundation of our religion.
That the atonement was made for actual sins appears from this also, that it is made the ground of our personal obligation, and the motive to glorify God. “ Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price : therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.” But how are we bought with a price, if Christ has not redeemed us from the curse which we had brought upon ourselves by our actual sins? The moment we limit the atonement to the sin of our first parents, we weaken, if we do not destroy this obligation and motive to glorify God. Atonement for one sin, or for the sin of two persons only, is, comparatively, a very diminutive thing, and a “ narrow covering.” Lying at such a distance, and having no immediate relation to us, personally, or to our sins, its practical influence must be very small.
Atonement for the actual sins of men is not only the “foundation which God has laid in Zion," but the "corner-stone” which unites and binds every part of the building. It connects equally with the
of God and the obedience of man. The grace of God could not flow to us, nor could our obedience be rendered possible or acceptable, without the atonement. God bestows every blessing upon us for Christ's sake; and we ask every blessing in Christ's name.
God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself; and we are in Christ reconciled unto God. Every thing is in, through, and for the sake of Christ, that is, on account of his death. This teaches us in what light to view the death of Christ, and the importance of it. Admit the doctrine of atonement and every thing is clear and consistent; take this away and the whole is thrown into obscurity, and we can assign no satisfactory reason why we should ask and receive in the name of Christ, or on his account.-Take this away and the gospel is so marred that it becomes “another gospel."
To deny atonement for actual sins is approximating much to the views of religion entertained by the Socinians of our day. They tell us there is no need of an atonement, that God can consistently pardon sin without it. And if we affirm that there is no atonement for actual sins, and that there is no need of any, 1 doubt whether we shall long think it worth our while to contend for it merely for the sin of our first parents.
But St. Paul was so far from thinking atonement for actual sins unnecessary, that he tells us "without shedding of blood there is no remission." It is true he said this with reference to the sacrifices under the law of Moses; but then as those sacrifices were an atonement for actual sins, and typical of the sacrifice of Christ, the argument is the same for atonement for actual sins by the death of Christ.
To conclude. This has been the doctrine of the great body of the church in all ages; it is expressly taught in our Articles and Communion Service; and what as Christians and as Methodists we are bound to contend for.
MEMOIR OF MRS, REBECCA PETERS.
BY MR. W. M. WILLETT. An outline of the life of our late sister PETERS, may be drawn 'within a narrow compass. She was born in Guilford, Connecticut: but when only nine years of age moved with her parents to Southold, where she continued to reside until the day of her death.
We meet with no event in her life, worthy of particular record in a sketch of this nature, until the year 1811, when she was married to Mr. HENRY PETERS. The marriage however terminated unhappily. This circumstance wholly marred every scheme which she may have formed of earthly happiness. But the poignant trials she was called to encounter (though her husband did not survive their union above three years) in consequence of this event, were sanctified. In the hour of affliction she was led to search the scriptures with an earnest solicitude to become acquainted with the truth as it is in Jesus. And though a considerable period elapsed from the time of her first conviction before she found peace through faith in her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, yet so soon as she was assured of the forgiveness of her sins, she resolutely determined, by divine aid, as she had received Christ Jesus the Lord so to walk in him.
After mature deliberation, she joined class in Southold town and was afterwards admitted in full membership; and, in process of time, by her uniform piety, and the unabated ardour she displayed, became not only a pillar to the church of which she was a member, but an ornament to the cause of religion generally.
Her life after she embraced religion may strictly be said to have been one of faith. Favoured at no period of her Christian pilgrimage with any very high degree of religious enjoyment, it might readily be gathered from her life and conversation, that she derived her principal support and her deepest consolation, from an application of the promises to her own peculiar feelings, trials and circumstances. They were like the bread which fell from heaven, and like the water which was stricken from the rock, to her hungry, thirsty soul. Hence the spontaneous language of her
“With simple faith on thee I call,
My light, my life, my Lord, my all."
Oftentimes in conversation with the writer, she would remark that it was her daily, fervent petition, to be able to adopt the language of the apostle, and say, "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.” And indeed it may truly be said, that, in a good degree, she attained this the highest object of her ambition. For what but a lively, constant exercise of faith upon the Son of God could have produced so serene a countenance, such an heavenly frame, a conversation so well adapted to minister grace unto the hearer, a life so blameless, such purity of heart, and aspirations after that mind which was in Christ, so intense and incessant!
Such a life of faith, we may conclude, did not fail to produce, joy and peace in the Holy Ghost. Thus, though her affections were rarely visible, even when in their fullest exercise, yet they were vigorous and rightly directed : and, resting at all times with implicit confidence on the promises, her peace though quiet, was deep and uniform.
The lively exercise of this faith not only produced “joy unspeakable," but likewise caused her “to abound in every good word and work.” She was " clad with zeal as with a cloak." Nay, so ardent, so unwearied a zeal did she evince that her friends were ready to say that she overstepped the limits which even duty itself prescribed. No great length of time after she attached herself to the society, she opened her house for the preaching of the gospel. In a time of reformation, her doors were almost literally never closed. Some there were who threatened to report her conduct to the public authorities. She, however, regarded not the evil sayings which were spread far and near: but went steadily onward in the discharge of her duty. As an individual she was considered as a nursing mother to the young converts; and as a comforter to mourners. And though the tongue of railing would sometimes be heard, she hesitated not to take up her cross in public in the way of prayer and exhortation; and God owned his hand-maiden. Many souls, some until this day residents in the place, others moved away, and a little few, we humbly trust, now rejoicing with her in the upper world, have been awakened and converted under her roof.
This was not the end of her labour of love. Her habitation was a home for the preachers. There was a secret and almost indefinable charm hanging around it; which made the sight of it peculiarly welcome to these wayfaring pilgrims. In this abode of piety and peace, they were assured of a sincere, hearty reception. The hand of a friend was stretched forth ; and the kind accent of love bade them welcome. Whatever might tend to contribute to their comfort, is within her power to procure, they failed not to receive. When sick, she would minister unto their necessities with the most patient attention and affectionate sympathy. And indeed, so thoroughly conversant was she with their very thoughts and feelings, that when their souls were cast down and disquieted, she was enabled every now and then to drop a word in season to comfort and encourage them.
Perhaps the digression will be pardoned, if the writer in this place, takes the liberty of adding his own private testimony to the truth of what hath been just written. Previously to the death of our late sister, her house was his home. Just entering upon the ministry, but little acquainted with the trials or labours of a circuit, a mere youth, it seemed to him as if a kind Providence had raised at the same time a home and a friend as anxious for his welfare nearly as a mother. For her house was truly a home; and with much solicitude did she counsel, watch over, sympathize with, provide for, comfort, and encourage him, until sickness hindered-until death stopped her earthly career. Well then may her memory be dear to him; and incite him to make mention of her name and of her acts ! Well may the strong feeling of sorrow rise within his bosom at the recollection even of his own loss: but more especially of the loss which her family, the church, and society at large, have sustained by her death!
Neither is this all. She stretched out her hand to the poor: yea, she reached forth her hands to the needy, Prov. xxxi. 20. The writer of this sketch has seen the aged, way-faring man, friendless, pennyless, stop at the door of her house : she has welcomed him in ; seated him at a table spread with her hands : attended to his wants; and upon his departure, he has seen her fill his wallet with a small stock for a future tiine of need. Indeed upon all occasions, she was as eyes to the blind, and as feet to the lame, so far as her ability extended.
This ardent zeal in the cause of her Lord and Master, was continued so long as she enjoyed health and strength. Thus, one of the last public acts in which she engaged was aiding in the establishing of a Sabbath School in Southold.
Following our lamented sister in this way, through a course of fervent piety to God, and unremitting disinterested zeal in his service, it will not excite an emotion of surprise to learn, that she departed this life in the full assurance of faith.
In the month of September last, she was brought upon a bed of sickness. After a short but severe attack she seemed to be recovering when she was again brought very low. So she continued, for the space of two months to recover and to relapse, until at length repeated and violent attacks reduced her to a state of great debility : afterward she grew weaker and weaker, until toward the close of her life she lost the use of her limbs and became as helpless as an infant.
Throughout her long, tedious, and distressing illness, she exhibited a bright example of suffering patience and cheerful resignation.
Though the disease was of such a nature, as in a measure to
stupify her senses, and benumb her faculties, yet in a conversation with the writer about two weeks before her death, she mentioned that her faith was still strong in the Lord: her peace of mind deep and steady, and her evidence unclouded. In the midst of all her pain and weakness, she would kiss the hand which was heavy upon her : 0, she would exclaim, how good the Lord has been to me during all my sickness! Though from time to time she was flattered with the prospect of recovery, yet when she relapsed her patience did not fail. All such as waited upon her in her sickness, remarked that she was a pattern of patience. 'In patience did she possess her soul.'
We are aware that numbers who have had no experimental knowledge of Christ have borne affliction with patience : but she went a step farther : she blessed the name of Him who thus counted her worthy to be tried in the furnace of affliction ; and thus she glorified God in the fire.
From the beginning of her sickness she seemed to entertain an idea that she should recover. Upon this subject, the following conversation passed between her and a sister who sat up with her a few nights before her death. Upon the sister's asking her whether she considered her end as nigh at hand, she replied, if the Lord has a work for me to do, he will raise me up; and I believe he has. If I am to be taken away by this sickness, she continued, it is bidden from me. Upon this the sister replied, that the physician and her friends had almost renounced all hope. Well, then, she said, I shall the sooner be done with a world of pain and sorrow: for I know that when the earthly house of my tabernacle dissolveth, I shall have a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Yes, she added with strong emphasis, yes, I know it. Your confidence then, continued the friend, is still unshaken. Yes! was the answer: my heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. In my Father's house are many mansions; and Jesus has a mansion for me. Yes, I know he has.
In this strain she discoursed for a long while, leaving behind in her dying testimony a strong evidence that her hope was as a sure anchor to her frail bark cast within the veil; and not to be moved, even by the storm of death. And indeed this was the sum of her experience in every place and under all circumstances, from the beginning to the conclusion of her Christian race; at all times, by her life and conversation, clearly manifesting, That her life was hid with Christ in God.
She continued in a state of perfect weakness; and in the latter part of her sickness, occasionally unsettled in mind, until between one and two o'clock in the morning, Dec. 24, 1823, when, as easily and as placidly as an infant, she fell asleep on the bosom of Jesus. Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.