Page images
PDF
EPUB

his imperfect performances.--He feels his corrupt affections, appetites and passions too strong for his good purposes and resolutions.--He is deeply senlible of fo much defect and impurity in the best of his religious duties, as render them utterly unwor. thy the acceptance of an infinitely pure and holy God.--He feels his heart so hard, and his affections fo dead and carnal, that nothing but an Almighty Power can quicken them. He knows by experience, that he lies at mercy; and that all his own refuges, and all the endeavours in his own strength, to relieve his distressed soul, are fruitless and vain. -He finds it indeed the case of fallen man, that nothing but coming to Christ, with faith in him, and dependence upon him for righteousness and strength, can give reft to his labouring and weary foul.--True it is, there are some convinced finners that wear off their religious impressions, and stop short of these effects which I have now described : But these confequences are always found in all those whose con. victions are abiding and effettual. By these they are always necessitated to fly for refuge to Christ, and look to him for that life and peace, which they can find no where else.-You will readily allow, that my station puts me under the advantage of a particular acquaintance with the circumstances of distressed fouls: And having conversed with very many under convictions, from time to time, I have always found the above observations exactly verified.

How surprising is the change made in convinced finners, when a ray of divine light shines into their souls, and enables them to act faith in Christ, and to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ! Now these mourners in Zion have appointed unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they may be called trees of righteousness. From

this time, they become indeed new creatures, in all spiritual respects.—Their discovery of the excellency and sufficiency of Christ, whereby they were enabled cheerfully to trust their eternal interests in his hands, proves a continual source of love to God and man, and a principle that constantly inclines them to live Soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. We see this experimentally true, as the Scriptures represent it, that their faith works by love, purifies their hearts, and overcomes the world. -There are indeed some hypocritical pretenders to faith in Christ, in whom we do not find these fruits and effects of it: But then there are through the goodness of God) numbers of others, the tenor of whose future lives does fully evidence, that their faith is fincere; and that it produces all the effects which the Scriptures ascribe to it.

There is no rooni to impute this work to the ir. regular fallies of an over-heated imagination, whe we see a thorough and lasting change both of heart and life.- 1 here is no room to suppose, that en. thusiasm or fanaticism can have any hand in this change, when we fee the blessed effects of faith in Christ every way anfwer the description given thereof in the gospel ; and when the believer visibly, and in reality, is become a new man, from the time of his receiving and relying upon the Lord Jesus. Christ for righteoufness and strength

And as bad as the times are; as ftupid'and' una believing as the world in general appears, we have yet repeated examples of the blessed effects of faith, which I have now described, and of the verification of that precious truth, that to as many as receive the Lord Jefus Christ, to them is given power to become the children of God, even to them who believe in bis Name.

And

[ocr errors]

G 3

1

$

And now, Sir, if you will review what has been faid, does it not evidently appear, that he who believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself, when he finds the same change of heart, the same spiritual conflicts, the fame joy, peace, and comfort of soul, and all these wrought in the very fame way and method, which the Scriptures fo plainly and particularly describe !--Can I doubt of the skill of that physician, or the efficacy of that medicine, whereby I am recovered from a dangerous disease, to health and comfort, exactly in the same method, and by the same sensible and progressive steps as was foretold me ?

And is not this truth made moft clearly evident, not only to the persons themselves, but to all diligent observers, when they find the fame experiencess reported by all true believers in Christ, and all the fame external and visible effects of their faith conspicuous and open to every one's observation, not in one or two instances only, but in thousands of those who profefs to have had these experiences ?

As we must necessarily acknowledge the skill of that physician, who effectually cures all that fubmit to his directions and applications, so are we con.. strained to acknowledge him for our Saviour, who,in the very same way and manner which he has proposed and promised, does actually and effectual.ly save all those who believe in him, and in the way. of his appointment trust to him for salvation. In my former letters I have laid before

you some of the external evidences of Christianity : In this I have give you a very brief sketch of those internal evidences, which serve to confirm and illustrate the fame important cause.--By the former, the truth of the Christian religion is laid open to the understanding : By the latter it is made matter of sensible experience in the heart.-That the glorious Re.

deemer.

deemer may enable you to feel the force of this reae soning, to your unspeakable comfort here, and happiness hereafter, is the prayer of,

SIR,

Your, &c.

LETTER VI. Wherein some Objections

against the internal Evidences of Christie anity are considered and answered.

[ocr errors]

SIR
Do not wonder to find you prejudiced against

“ the extravagant claim to extraordinary ex“periences in religion, lately made by some who

are evidently under enthusiastic heats and delu. 't fions ;' but I cannot see any force at all in your reasoning, that, “because there are many « eminent professors of late, who really have no. " thing in them but heat and fhew, and yet make “ as high pretenfions to the divine influences, and

to special experience of the operations of the “ Spirit of God in their hearts, as any others

can do ; therefore all pretences of that kind may “ juftly be fufpected to flow from the same cause, " and to be the offspring of a like irregular fan

cy, and heated imagination.”

Do not you indeed think it just arguing, because · fome men make vain and false fhews of what they really are not, that therefore all other professors of religion are hypocrites as well as they ?-Will it follow, because some men pretend to literature which they have not, that therefore there are no men of learning in the world ?-Your discovery of false pretenders to religious experiences does indeed give you just reason to presume, that some

others's them

-If you

others may, but no reason to conclude, that all others mut in the same manner impose upon the world by mere delusive appearances.have discovered any to be false and deceitful in their professions of religious experience, it must be because you see something in their conduct which contradicts their profession. But what reason does this give you, to suspect those in whose conduct you see nothing which contradicts their profession?

-If you have reason to conclude the hypocrisy of the former sort, from the evidences which appear against them, you have also reason to conclude the fincerity of the latter fort, from the e. vidences which appear in their favour, and which testify the reality of the change they profefs. If you have ground to suspect the careless, the loose, the sensual profeffor, because he is such ; by the same way of reasoning, you have ground to conclude in favour of the serious, the watchful, and mortified professor of religion, because he is fuch. If the licentious and profane, the frau.. dulent and unjust, the cenforious and unchari. table, the despisers and calumniators, or their brethren, are therefore to be suspected of a false pretence to the divine influences; by the same argument, they who are fo changed as to become remarkably holy and righteous, meek and humble, charitable, benevolent and beneficent, have a just claim to be esteemed sincere, and to be credited in their profession of religious experiences. There are (through the mercy of God) numbers of such yet among us, all of whom have this change in its visible effects obvious to the world ; and though fome of them may be doubtful of their own state, yet all of them declare, that they have received all their attainments from the Lord Jesus Christ; they have looked to him, and depended upon him for

« PreviousContinue »