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sooo brought to a better mine December 8, 1758. As I such a sense of eternity, a bonn of the dreadfulness of and horror of self-dece eternal wo, who once ref but now must see when , shuddered, and was the terrifying thought Whereupon, resolving t mined on a visit then again and again ; and glad to hear what po time to time, whic Three Dialogues; w
better mind; particularly in the evening of
As I was alone for secret prayer, I had mity, a boundless eternity, and such a view ness of eternal damnation; the amazement self-deceived hypocrites, opening their eyes in
once refused to see, while there was hope,
see when all hope is for ever gone; that I and was ready even to cry out with anguish at o thought of this being at last my dreadful lot! resolving to be honest at all adventures, 1 detervisit the next Monday evening. I went, I went again; and knowing my dear Aspasio would be car what passed, I wrote down the substance from time, which I now send enclosed, in the form of ialogues; which, when you have read, I am sure you my case And, O my Aspasio, cease not to pray for
will pily my case An
P. S. I expect no opportunity to write you again till early next spring; when you may look to hear further from your Theron, if on this side eternal burnings. God only knows how that will be. Adieu, my dear Aspasio.
On Monday evening, (Decem. 11,) I had the happiness to find Paulinus at home, alone in his study; he received me with all the politeness of a gentleman, and with all the undissembled goodness of a christian. After inquiring into the state of religion in Great-Britain, when I came from thence ; perceive ing by what was said, my acquaintance with Aspasio, he made some inquiries after him, and his sentiments of religion, and about a book be has lately so strongly recommended*. Which gave me an opportunity, without letting him into the state of my soul, a thing I was loath to do, to bring upon the board the topics I designed. Wherefore, I began.
Theron. Sir, may I know your sentiments relative to some points in these books?
Paulinus. I am willing you should know my sentiments on any of the doctrines of religion ; but should choose to say nothing of the sentiments of any particular author by name.
Ther. I am sensible this is not so desirable, nor should I ask it, but that I am not a little embarrassed between the scheme of religion advanced in president Edwards' Treatise on Religious Affections, and this advanced in these books. And I want to know, what may be said in answer to the particular arguments of these divines. And I shall consider all you say, how plain soever : for I desire you to use the greatest freedom, not in a personal light, as designed to reAect at all on these authors; but only as designed to give instruction to me. And if you could particularly answer several things I find in thein, it would give me much more satisfaction, than to hear your opinion in general. Besides, you know what authors publish to the world, they voluntary submit to the examination of all. And if the good of mankind, which all authors profess to seek, calls for a particular examination of any of their writings, they cannot consistently be displeased, if they are used with candour. These authors themselves have taken the greatest freedom to speak of the sentiments of divines, ancient and modern. And I know my dear Aspasio would be perfectly pleased to hear you, with the utmost freedom, make all your remarks and observations on his piece ; for he is one of the most candid, generous, good-natured gentlemen I ever saw : Pray, Sir, therefore make no excuses, nor be at all upon the reserve.
* Mr Marshal's Gospel-Mystery of Sanctification ; " which I shall not, (says Mr. Hervey,) recommend in the style of a critic, or like a reader of taste, but with all the simplicity of the weakest christian ; I mean from my own experience. It has been made one of the most useful books to my own soul ; I scarce ever fail to receive spiritual consolation and strength from the perusal of it. And was I to be banished into some desolate island, possessed only of two books besides my Bible, this should be one of the two, and perhaps the first that I would ehoose.” See Mr. Hervey's Dialogues, edit. 3. vol. III. p. 336.
N. B. This 3d edition of Mr. Hervey's Dial. is referred to in what follows; and the 6th edition of Mr. Marshal. D. shall stand for Mr. Hervey's Dialogues, vol. III. M. shall stand for Mr. Marshal's Cospel-mystery, &c. As both these books contain one complete system, so both shall be considered together.
Paul. What particular points, Sir, do you refer to ?
Ther. The nature of love to GOD, of jusTIFYING FAITH, and of ASSURANCE. To begin with love to God. I desire to know what is the primary and chief motive, which ought to induce me to love God? A view of the ineffable glories of the Deity, as he has manifested bimself in his word and in his works? Or a belief of his love to me in particular ?
Paul. Before we inquire into the original grounds of love to God, pray tell me, what in God are we to love? and how are we to love him?
Thèr. “ The Lord is not at all loved with that love that is due to him as Lord of all, if he be not loved with all our heart and spirit, and might. And we are to love every thing in him, his justice, holiness, sovereign authority, all-seeing eye, and all his decrees, commands, judgments, and all his doings*.»
Paul. Who are under obligations thus to love God? saints, or sinners? Christians, or heathens? Some, or all of mankind ?
Ther. All mankind. Even the heathen, who are withont
* M. p. 2.
any written law or supenatural revelation, are obliged by the light of nature to love God with all their hearts; and that under the penalty of God's everlasting wrath*.
Paul. If all mankind, even the heathen world not excepted, are thus under infinite obligations to love God with all their hearts, and to glorify God as God, (to use the apostle's expres-, sions, Rom. i. 21.) it must needs be that there is a ground and reason of love to God antecedent to a consideration of his being our reconciled Father and friend in Jesus Christ. For the heathen, millions of them, never heard of Jesus Christ. And there are great multitudes in the Christian world, who live and die without an interest in God's fatherly love in Christ. And yet you say, all these are under such obligations to love God with all their hearts, that they will deserve his eternal wrath for the least neglect. And indeed the holy: Scriptures most expressly assert the same thing, Rom. i. 18— 21. Gal iji. 10.
Ther. But, Sir, is it not impossible + we should love God. before we see that he is our reconciled Father and friend in
Jesus Christ ? We must know that our sins are forgiven, and be well persuaded that God is reconciled to us, before we can love him. ;. · Paul. God never manifests himself as a reconciled God and Father, to any of the children of men, until they are first reconciled to him, and love him. John xiv. 21. Acts ii. 19. Their first love to God, therefore, must of necessity begin on some other foundation, from some other inducement; or they never can begin to love him at all.
* M. p. 4, 5.
† Should a lying fellow bring tidings to an impenitent prisoner justly condemna ed to die for murder, assuring him of a pardon from his judge ; the deluded mur. derer might be full of love to his judge, and greatly extol his justice, as well as goodness, and pour out floods of tears : but on discerning his mistake, he would soon return to his former temper. God's nature and law are just the same before he forgives us as after ; and as worthy to be loved. But it is easier for an impenitent sinner to commend God's law, in a firm belief he is delivered from the curse, than to love it as being in its own nature holy, just, and good. Satan knows, it is no evidence of uprightness in God's account, that a man is very religious, if all his religion arises merely from selfish considerations.'' Job i. 8, 9, 10, 11.
M. p. 21. 25.
Ther. But what is there in God, that can induce us to love him, unless we first know that he loves us? I appeal to the experience of all the true saints, as inconsistent with your supposition*.
Paul. This is the language of God's law, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. Pray, what reasons and grounds are there for this law ? Answer my question first, and then I will answer your's. Tell me the grounds and reasons of this law, and I will tell you what there is to induce us to love God before we know that he loves us.
Ther. The law teaches us, first to believe that God is our God, our reconciled Father and Friend : Thou shalt love the Lord thy Gopt.
Paul. God is our God, the God of the whole human race, as he is our Creator, our Preserver, our rightful Lord and Sovereign, who has an entire and absolute authority over us: but he is not a reconciled Father and Friend to all the human . race. Rather the whole world lipth in wickedness. 1 Jobn v. 19. And the greatest part of mankind are under the divine wrath. John iii. 36. And God is angry with them every day; his soul hates them, and he is whetting his sword for their destruction, if they repent not. Psalm vii. 11, 12. xi. 5. And yet even while in such a state, you grant, they are under infinite obligations to love God with all their hearts ; and that the least defect exposes them to eternal damnation. Nor have you granted any more than St. Paul expressly asserts, Gal. iii. 10. Now, pray tell me, is this a reasonable law?
Ther. I grant this law is holy, just, and goodt.
Paul. But then it will follow, that there are reasons and grounds why God should be thus loved, antecedent to a consideration of his being our reconciled Father and Friend. Reasons and grounds which are sufficient; which really oblige us in point of duty : and therefore ought to influence us in practice. And if we are not influenced by them, we are to blame. Yea, so much to blame, you say, as to deserve God's eternal wrath,
Ther. It is certain, that all the perfection, goodness, and
* M. p. 25.
† M. p. 28.
$ M. p. 4.