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himself thus * : "That their hearts might be cotnforted, being knit together in love." The idea of being knit is extremely apt. Solomon, in his book of Proverbs, setteth' forth the nature of spiritual communion by a very striking idea : + " Iron sharpeneth iron,' &c. The word does not signify, in the original, to sharpen, — nor does iron sharpen iron: it signifies, to unite; which no metal will do besides iron, without it is melted. This may, by some, be understood as a moral hint or proverb; but I am sure it most beautifully illustrates the true effects of spiritual communion. Now I arjnie thus:—ff so much of the be
liever's happiness appears to be in the sweet fellowship saints have together on earth, while their love turns towards each other as the love of Christ spreads in their hearts, how much greater their happiness when their capacities will be refined, and the powers of reflection perfectly clear! Surely, if divine fellowship here, is the pledge of that fellowship saints will have in the immediate presence of a covenant God, it appears plain, that such as enjoyed sweet fellowship together here, will know one another in Heaven.
Sdly, 1 apprehend, another reason for this knowledge saints in Heaven have of each ether, is the answer of those prayers, "•r rather answers to those prayers, they did not live to see answered in this world. This thought to me, appears as rational as it is pleasing. Answers to the prayer of faith will aggrandize the joy of the saints in glory; they will illustrate the sovereignty of grace, the efficacy of the blood of the New Testament, and no less the wisdom of the adorable Trinity! The tender parent often wets his pillow with tears of love for a child of many prayers, in whom Christ seems not to dwell by his Spirit. Ah ! dear brother, many of the Lord's people have had no other distress upon their death-beds, than the consideration of their not having lived to see answers to their prayers for the conversion of their children; but after their bodies are locked up in the silence of the grave (perhaps many years after) those children, in answer to the cries of their parents faith, arc enabled to rejoice in the God of Abraham, and are made eminent iil the service of the Lord Jesus Christ!—Now, as with answers of prayer the glory and sovereignty of grace are connected in i\ very extraordinary manner, it appears to me evident, that in Heaven the saint will know him that stood in the relation of a child to him, for whom he hath wrestled with a prayerhearing God! O! such a meeting in Heaven speaks forth the grandeur of God's sovereign purpose, which he keeps secret from us till we get home!
4thly, 1 would mention some passages of Scripture, which make the point very plain to me. How we shall know one another is pot our enquiry, uor does Scripture afford us any
* a Col. ii, •}■ Prov. xxvii. 17.
light into it; we should be silent about what is not to be gathered from the written word. The glory of the bodv at the resurrection, is summed up in this, viz. That it will ba like Christ, immortal or incorruptible, Sec. Though we do not knovf how this knowledge is, it appears that they have it.. For instance *, you find the disciples, Peter, James, and John, knew Moses and Elias. How did they know it was Elias? It is very true, the disciples were overcome with the sight,—and no wonder; hut yet, in the body, in the weakness of the flesh, they, on this extraordinary occasion, were made to know these two witnesses of Messiah! If so, how reasonable to believe, our knowledge above will be suitable to such a description as this. .Again, f the apostle expresses thut joy and delight he would (with the ministers of Christ) have in the day of the Lord, when tlmse he had been instrumental of good to, should appear as monuments of the same grace. lie must then have some knowledge of them. Yea, some whom he never knew in the body, he will then be made to know as his own children! If so, with respect to ministers and their spiritual children, why not (for we may argue from the greater to the lesser) as we have before considered, with respect to such as have been instruments of good to each other, and helpers of each other's faith, &c. I believe one reason why Scripture does not often mention this knowledge is, that we may not become even carnal in our views and hopes of Heaven; because the (i(«l-m;ui is the center of glory and happiness above : and all that knowledge 6aints have of each other is, to increase their love to him, and (if I may so express myself) swell the notes of those two son^s which are sung in Heaven, that of Moses, and that of the Lamb- Once more, J John had a sight of such as came out of great tribulation. It appears, from that part of his vision, that he was entertained with company who once suffered together, and now, with their tears wived by the same hand, are joining their praises together! How far this text illustrates the point, I leave with you to judge.
Lastlv, 1 look upon Luke xvi. l[)—28. as n strong argument to mv purpose; because it illustrates (and illustration is the design of a parable) the assertion, that separate spirits know each oilier in the world to come :—if among the damned, certainly among the blessed! Now I ask, What made the rich man so desirous that one might testify unto his brethren, lest they also should come into that place of torment? Was it from brotherly love and affection? Was it because they should not be miserable i If so, a good principle, a good desire, is supposed to he in Hell ; which is :: paradox. The reason was, their coming would aggravate his torment, and increui>e the flame of his
• Mat. xvii. 4. f » The*, ii. 19, 20. J Rev vii. 14.
misery. This shews us. therefore, that the misery of the un« happy sinners who die out of Christ, is aggravated by each other's former acquaintance; and, having been temptations to each other in the ways of Satan, are tormentors of one an~ other. If so, how plain the reverse in the world of bliss!
SECOND LETTER FROM DR. FRANKLIN
Dear Sir, New York, July 2, 1756.
I Received your favour of the 24th of February with great pleasure, as it informed me of your welfare, and expressed jour continued regard for me. I thank you for the pamphlet you inclosed to me. As we had just observed a provincial fast on the same occasion, I thought it very seasonable to be published in Pennsylvania; and accordingly reprinted it immediately.
You mention your frequent wish that you were a chaplain to an American army. I sometimes wish that you and I were jointly employed by the crown to settle a colony on the Ohio. I imagine that we could do it effectually, and without putting the nation to much expence;—but I fear we shall never be called upon for such a service. What a glorious thing it would be, to settle in that fine country a large, strong body of religions and industrious people! What a security to the other colonies, and advantage to Britain, by increasing her people, territory, strength, and commerce! Might it not greatly facilitate the introduction of pure religion among the heathen, if we could, by such a colony, shew them a better sample of Christians than they commonly see in our Indian traders? the most vicious and abandoned wretches of our nation! Life, like a dramatic piece, should not only be conducted with regularity, but, niethinks, it should finish handsomely. Being now in the last act, I begin to cast about for something fit to end with. Or, if mine be more properly compared to an epigram, as some of its lines are but barely tolerable, I am very desirous of concluding with a bright point. In such an cnterprize 1 could spend the remainder of life with pleasure: and 1 firmly believe God would bless us with success, if we undertook it with a sincere regard to his honour, the service of our gracious king, and, (which is the same thing) the public good.
I thank you cordially for your generous benefaction to the German schools. They go on pretty well; and will do better, when Mr. Smith, who has at present the principal care of them, shall learn to mind party-writing and party-politics less, and his proper business more; which, I hope, time, will bjiug about.
I thank you for your good wishes and prayers; and am* with the greatest esteem and affection, •
B. Franklini .
ON THE PROPER IMPROVEMENT OF
Sir, To the Editor.
It has often, and, I think, very justly, been said, that prayer is the breath of spiritual life. ISo time is so important as that which is spent in intercourse with God : in no other engagement is the manner in which our minds are employed of equal consequence. It is necessary to keep this in remembrance, when we converse in secret with our heavenly Father; it is not less so, when we join with fellow Christians in public^ domestic, or occasional devotion. A great majority of your readers, I trust, are often called to unite in that kind of worship which is conducted by one among them for the profit of the rest. Those of them who, in public prayer, are accustomed to the form of sound words prescribed by the religious establishment of this country, are nevertheless, probably, used, in familyworship, to follow the effusions of the heart, offered up by those who are charged, not only with supplying their temporal wants, but likewise, in a great measure, with the care of their souls. Many of your readers are, doubtless, almost strangers to any other social prayer than that which is conducted, without a pre-* meditated form, by one person, in the name of others present.
Beiwg myself favoured with frequent opportunities, both of leading and of following others in united prayer, I have been convinced, by experience, that it is far more difficult to worship spiritually in the latter case, than in the former. When speaking in prayer, the necessity of fixed and connected thought affords a help to deyotion; for want of which, the: mind, when committed to the guidance of another, is often wandering or listless. In conversation with friends^ I have learned that this was their experience also; and such a degree of observation, as cannot easily be avoided in dissenting congregations, is sufficient to excite an apprehension, that the deject is too general. However spiritual and well qualified the minister may fc for conducting the devotions of an assembly, it is obvious, that miny present are rath«r inattentive hearers titan fervent fellow-worshippers*
Ihave never mot with a publication in which the spiritual improvement of social worship is more profitably treated, than one on public prayer, published by Buckland in \~Gfi; which is now,.I believe, very scarce. A portion of it, which relates to .the proper actings or' the soul in those who join public prayer, lias been peculiarly useful to mc, and to' others with whom 1 have conversed on the subject. At the desire of one of those friends, who hoped it might be of general benefit, [ inclose to you the following extracts. The authors (for 1 understand it to have been the joint composition of two respectable ministers) recommend,
"1st, To fix or engage our thoughts in such a manner, as to go along with the prayer of the common speaker. A roving miild, or fancy, in full"cbace after vain and carnal things, utterly mars the best worded prayer; yea, renders it a heap of shameful absurdities and prophnneness in the eye and esteem of the heart-searching God."—Some instances are then produced, of the manner in which a rambling imagination may distort and pervert a leading expression of the speaker, bv connecting it with worldly and trifling objects; and the writer proceeds, " What a ridiculous profane medley is prayer, when intermingled with such carnal thoughts as these! Who durst offer up such a piaycr to God, if the whole of it were clothed in words r But docs-not every carnal worshipper bring as absurd a medley-offering as this before God, in almost every prayer he joins in? God grant this familiar representation may. make us ashamed oi' every thing iike it, and for ever deter us from it!
"But how much sooner may an evil of this sort be seen and disapproved, than redressed! iti nothing is the corruption ami weakness of the human nature more lamentably experienced, than in depravity aud ungovernableness of the thoughts in devotional exercises. When the soul should rise to God in prayer, how often doth it stud forth swarms of vain thoughts, which, like locusts out of Use bottomless pit, hang in clusters upon each praying request! To expel them effectually, is a more difficult task than Abraham undertook, in driving away those numerous flocks of prey which darted down upon his sacrifices; but it must be done, if we would not have those holy offerings which we bring to God's altar devoured, before our very faces, by these vermin oil'spriug of the heart. Let our Christian /wal, therefore, arm itself will) the utmost resolution and watchfulness against these sacrilegious enemies, which would at once rob God of his due, aud our own souls of all edification and benefit by prayer. \\ hen we find our heaJfc overpowered bv these iniiudci*, Ictus lilt up a secret cry to Heaven, and dill Omnipotence to our help :—" O Lord, 1 am oppressed; midertr.kc for me 1"