« PreviousContinue »
we preach unto them. Because Jesus Christ hath died to redeem them; because the Lamb of God hath taken away the sin of the world: it is therefore we are solicitous to make it known unto them. If we did not believe it true, we would impose upon ourselves eternal silence. Or if we conceived death put all men upon a level, we would cease to trouble them. We would not submit to all manner of evil, we would not suffer contumely and every species of indignity, did our testimony affect only the comparatively momentary interval between the cradle and the grave.
But we are persuaded that a very large proportion of those persons who pass out of time, ignorant of God their Saviour, will remain in this state of darkness, and consequent suffering, until the elucidating morning of the resurrection; and how many ages may revolve before that period, none but God can tell. We know that God worketh by instruments. We know that faith cometh by hearing, and being thus persuaded, and believing also that a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto us, wo be unto us if we preach not the gospel.
We believe that the whole Bible exhibiteth one consistent plan, that every ceremony, every figure, every prophecy, and every precept, every narration, and every exhortation, every parable, and every miracle, all either directly or indirectly point to one grand catastrophe, which catastrophe will promote the glory of the Creator, and establish the happiness of every human being, upon a stable, enduring, and never-failing foundation. Thus thinking, thus believing, to promulgate the glad tidings of the gospel constitutes our highest felicity.
For myself, while life, strength, and reason combine to give me ability, I will be instant in season, and out of season, to proclaim abroad to my fellow men, what God hath done for their souls, I will fervently conjure them to receive my report, to believe on the Son of God. Yea, I will call upon men every where, to believe on the Son of God, and to add to their faith virtue, to their virtue brotherly kindness, and to their brotherly kindness devotional piety toward that God, in whom they live, move, and have their being.
It seems as if I had lived centuries. I am however advancing toward my native home, and I can look back upon many heart-rending scenes of sorrow, which I have left behind ; blessed be God, they are left behind. I shall not again be called to pace over the gloomy.
the dangerous way. I may truly say, few, and evil have beers the days of my pilgrimage ; but, blessed be God, I cannot say, what multitudes of our fellow travellers frequently say, Would to God I had never been born. It is truly wonderful, that the knowledge of our destination, to what we are born, for what we are made, and of what we are heirs, the positive assurance that we cannot be wretched hereafter, does not more considerably augment our felicity here!
There was a time when I firmly believed, that if I could but attain to the assurance of future happiness, I should have little regard to the sufferings of time. However, this confidence did but evince a want of reflection; for it must of necessity always be true, that no affliction can for the time being be joyous, but grievous, although every calamity shall eventually advance our enjoyments.
I have thought it would be well if we dwelt less frequently upon our sufferings, if we did not so deeply reflect upon those days of adversity, we are called to endure; if we were less communicative of grief, and made the mercies, the enduring mercies of our God, more frequently the theme of our discourse. · Yet I know that while it is an indubitable truth, that some minds are more prone to complaint than others, the sorrows of all must have vent.
I am this evening to preach, by appointment, in the meeting-house of and our morning gave as fair a promise of a serene evening, as I have ever known. But how surprisingly altered! the serene aspect of the sky is changed to gloomy, angry threatening clouds. The cheerful sun hath withdrawn his light, and having just looked forth from his chambers, hath in all probability stepped aside for the day ; clouds and storms seem to be gathering around us, and our expectation of a numerous audience, will no doubt be followed by disappointment. But so it ought to be, if so it should be. Why should I complain, if on some account or other, not an individual should attend? the hearts of all are in the hand of God. He in a single instant could open them to receive the word of truth, and if it were best it should be so, his hand would be stretched forth. If it were right they should hear, he would make them willing; this would be the day of his power. If then they be not willing, it is not yet the day on which he chooses to call into exercise his irresistible power: for my people, says he, shall be willing in the day of my power. Why then, it will be again asked, preach at all? And I again repeat my answer, because I believe I am commissioned by my God to preach the gospel to every creature : and it is not for me to determine when will be the precise time, in which Jehovah will choose to manifest his power.
Fond of indulging myself with peace and quietness, I received my commission with reluctance, and for a long season struggled against its necessity. But, in my opinion, there is hardly a more self-evident truth, than that advanced by the prophet Jeremiah, “ It is not in man, who walketh, to direct his steps."
For myself, “ in all my wanderings, and I have had my share," I still proceed through life as if acted upon, and whatever my reasonings may be, they end with the present moment; it is reserved for the next to prove the futility of my best arrangements. I may be, and I frequently am unable to account for my
conduct in life, how I became what I am, wherefore I wander from place to place, why I sometimes feel most unhappy in circumstances the most eligible, and why I so eagerly undertake that, from which as an individual I expect to reap no pleasure. The fact is, I am frequently bewildered; but still I go on either against or in conformity to the will of him who made me. Yet I have pleasure in the knowledge, that it is impossible I can counteract the will of God. If the hearts of all are in the hands of God, then my heart is also in his hands; and I supplicate my Creator to direct me whither he will. I do not say I am more immediately under the power, the controling power of Omnipotence than others ; but I certainly am not less.
One thing gives me satisfaction, I am at length reconciled to my office, I am no where so sensible of the importance, the blessing of existence, as in the pulpit. I am no where so happy ; I delight to be about my master's business. It greatly augments my happiness to know, and be assured, that I am the servant of the Redeemer, a labourer in his vineyard; that he hath sent me from place to place, on an errand of peace. The belief of this sweetens my toils, and gives a zest to all my enjoyments. Were I robbed of this consolatory persuasion, and continued in my present character, I should indeed be wretched.
But the church bell summons me, I must go forth, and deliver my message. O, that I may feel I am commissioned by my Saviour, to speak in the great congregation of the glories of the great salvation.
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 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 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