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peace, and comfort, are in him; and without him we can de nothing.

I trust, my dear Sir, in expressing my own sentiments on this point, I express yours also. That Jesus, who was once a man of sorrows, who now reigns the Lord of glory in that nature in which he suffered, is your hope and your joy. Yes, the Lord who has given you many seeming advantages, as he did to St. Paul, has enabled you, like him, to sacrifice them at the foot of the cross, and to say, The things which were once gain to me, I count loss for Christ: yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus my Lord, &c. Phil. iii. 5-10. This is to build upon a rock, to build for eternity, to rest upon a plea which will over-rule every charge in life, at death and at judgment. They that put their trust in him shall be like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved. And other way of attaining stable peace, or receiving power to withstand and overcome the world, there is none.

Believe me to be, dear Sir,

Your obliged and affectionate humble servant,

LETTER IX.

MY DEAR SIR,

January 9, 1778.

I

You have put a happy end to our little controversy, by referring me to Dr. Franks' Nucleus, a book which I have read over and over with the greatest pleasure. I look upon Dr. Franks to have been a very eminent Christian; and if you account him a Mystic, I shall not differ with you about a term. do not find that he was an explicit Calvinist ; nor is that necessary to engage my hearty approbation, when I see a man bearing testimony to those great doctrines, the belief of which, I think, are essential to the character of a true Christian; when his zeal, humility, his love and faith, give the most admirable proofs that God is with him of a truth.

Your own sentiments, which you are pleased to favour me with, afford me likewise great satisfaction. The Lord, who has given you a heart to seek and follow him, will, I trust, lead you on from strength to strength; and if there is any thing yet remaining, the knowledge and experience of which would add to your comfort and progress in the divine life, he will show it you in his good time. He is the only effectual teacher; and he communicates instruction to those who simply seek him, at such seasons and in such degrees as he, in his sovereign wisdom, sees best. I

have too great a respect for your character and years, as well as too clear a sense of the little good that is done by controversy, to attempt to dispute with you. I shall be happy and honoured if I should ever drop a sentence that God may be pleased to make useful to you; and I hope I am equally desirous to learn of you, and profit by you. The Scripture warrants us both not to call any man master. Christ alone is the Lord of conscience; and no ipse dixit is to be regarded but his. Men are to be followed so far as we can see they speak by his authority; the best are defective; the wisest may be mistaken. Yet truth can be but one. The more uncertainty and division we find in the judgments of our fellow-creatures, the more need have we to rely upon the word and authority of the only infallible Judge. He permits those whom he loves to differ in some things, that there may be room for the exercise of love, meekness, mutual forbearance, and compassion; but when men presume to take his chair, to intrench upon his work, and think themselves qualified and authorized to enforce their own sentiments by noisy arguments, and to prescribe themselves as a standard to others, though they may mean well, they seldom do well: they set out (as they think) in the cause of God; but it is soon leavened by unsanctified tempers, and becomes their own cause; and they fight more for victory than for edification. When the Lord enables any to avoid these evils, and they can freely, simply, and in a spirit of love, open their minds to each other, then his blessing may be humbly hoped for.

I hope I love true candour; but there is a candour, falsely so called, which I pray the Lord to preserve me from I mean that which springs from an indifference to truth, and supposes that people who differ most widely in sentiment, may all be right in their several ways, because they seem to mean well. But the Gospel is a standard by which all men are to be tried, and a depositum which must not be given up as a point of indifference because many persons of respectable characters in other things, do not approve it. St. Paul observed no measures with those who would introduce another Gospel. There is a great difference between those who maintain erroneous system, and those who, though they are mistaken in some things, are faithful to the light they have already received, and are honestly seeking more from the Lord. To the latter I would show all possible candour; as to the former, candour, or rather Christian charity, requires me to be tender and compassionate to their persons, but to give no place to their principles, no, not for an hour. The question is not, what I should think or hope if left to my own judgment, but

what the unerring word of God determines. By this I must abide.

I remain, begging an interest in your prayers,
My dear Sir,

Your affectionate and obliged servant.

LETTER X.

MY DEAR SIR,

February 22, 1776.

I HAVE longed to tell you, that the prospect of our correspondence being revived gave me very great pleasure. I attributed its discontinuance sometimes to the gout, with which I knew you were often afflicted; then I began to think, perhaps you were removed to a better world; but when I understood you were still living, I apprehended you saw uo utility in the friendly debates we were formerly engaged in, and therefore chose to drop them. It was this suspicion that prevented me writing again ; for, had I been sure your silence was not owing to this cause, you would have heard from me again and again, for with you I should not have stood upon the terms of letter for letter.

I ought not, however, to have indulged such a suspicion, nor to have imputed your silence to a cause so contrary to the spirit of your letters; for in them you have always showed yourself gentle, candid, and patient, and not disposed to break of the intercourse merely for difference in sentiments. Some difference

in our sentiments there has seemed to be all along ; but I believe, with you, that we essentially agree, and I cordially join you in the hope and persuasion that the difference, whatever it may be, will not abate my respect and regard for you, nor your kindness

to me.

I desire to praise God in your behalf, that he hath graciously supported you under your long affliction and confinement, and now given you a prospect of going abroad again. It is the prayer of my heart, that all your crosses and comforts may be sanctified to you, and that you may suffer no more than a gracious God sees needful to answer his salutary purposes in favour of those who love him, to manifest, exercise, and strengthen your graces, and to give you an increasing sense that his power, wisdom, goodness, and faithfulness, are engaged to promote your best happiness, and to ripen you for his kingdom and glory.

My leading sentiment with respect to the divine life is, that it is founded in a new and supernatural birth. In this I doubt not we agree. Mankind are miserably divided and subdivided by sects,

parties, and opinions; but in the sight of God there are but two sorts of characters upon earth-the children of his kingdom, and the children of the wicked one. The criterion between them (infallibly known only to himself,) is, that the former are born from above, the other not. If a person be born again, notwithstanding any incidental mistakes or prejudices, from which, perhaps, no human mind in this imperfect state is wholly free, he is a child of God and an heir of glory. On the other hand, though his professed opinions be quite conformed to the Scriptures; though he be joined to the purest church; though he seem to have all gifts and all knowledge, the zeal of a martyr, and the powers of an angel; yet if he be not born of God, with all his splendid apparatus, he is but a tinkling, (or, as I should rather choose to render the word,) a stunning cymbal.

From this new birth, a new life, new perceptions, and new desires, take place in the soul; sin, which was once delighted in, becomes a burden and God, who before was little thought of, is sought after as our chief good. The need of his mercy is felt and acknowledged, and Jesus is approved and sought as the only way and author of salvation. These things I believe are never truly and experimentally known but by the teaching and operation of the Holy Spirit; and as he is God, and not man, unchangeable in purpose and almighty in power, I believe when he once begins his work, he will in his own time accomplish it. I believe hatred of sin, thirst after God, poverty of spirit, and dependence upon Christ, are sure tokens of salvation; and whoever have them I would esteem my brethren and my sisters, though they should be found among Arminians, Mystics, or Papists. Yet, I believe, some thus far wrought upon, may be, and are, entangled with errors dishonourable to the grace of God, and detrimental to their own peace. There is much remaining darkness upon the mind; many persons are greatly hindered by a reasoning spirit, and numbers are kept down by their attachment to a favourite system, sect, and author; so that perhaps they are long strangers to that steadfast hope and strong consolation which the Gospel-truth, when simply received, is designed to afford us, and which depends upon the sense we have that we are nothing, and that Christ is all in all, and that our best graces and services are, and always will be, in this life, defective and defiled, and that the sole, exclusive ground of our hope and rejoicing is Jesus Christ, as made unto us of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

I desire to be more a partaker with you in that sense which the Lord has given you of the deficiency you find in your own graces, dispositions, and tempers, and the want of due conformity to VOL. III.

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the mind that was in Christ. If you have cause of humiliation on these accounts, surely I have more. At the same time it is my prayer, that he may comfort you with those views of the freeness and riches of his grace, which enable me to maintain a hope in his mercy, notwithstanding I feel myself polluted and vile. For when my state and acceptance with God is the point in question, I am in a measure helped not to judge of it by what he has done in me, so much as by what he has done for me. I can find no peace but by resting in the blood of Jesus, his obedience to death, his intercession and fulness of grace; and so claiming salvation, under him, as my head, surety, and advocate, answer all objections which conscience or Satan interpose with the apostle's arguments in Rom. viii. 33, 34. Were I to hesitate in this important matter till I feel nothing contrary to that image to which I hope I thirst after, a growing conformity, I might wait dum defluat amnis-I should spend my life in perplexity, and at last should die in terror. But I believe I am already justified by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus.

That the Lord may be your guide and comforter, is the sincere prayer of,

Dear Sir,

Your affectionate and obliged servant.

LETTER XI.

MY DEAR SIR,

July 30, 1776.

As you agree with me in the main points of what I offered in my last, I should think myself to blame to weary you with debates on the single article of perseverance. Though I believe this sentiment to be true, I am persuaded a man may warmly fight for it, and yet himself fall short; and I trust you will attain the end of your hope, even the salvation of your soul, though you should continue to differ with me in judgment upon this head. I shall only say, The belief of it is essential to my peace. I cannot take upon me to judge of the heart and feelings of others; but, from the knowledge I have of my own, I am reduced by necessity to take refuge in a hope which, through mercy, I find strongly encouraged in the scripture, that Jesus to whom I have been led to commit myself, has engaged to save me absolutely, and from first to last. I think he has promised not only that he will not depart from me, but that he will put, keep, and maintain his fear in my heart, that I shall not depart from him : and if he does not, I have no security against my turning apostate.

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