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gifts and grace, betwixt a vain presumptuous confidence and that faith which is of the operation of the Spirit of God, which purifies the heart, and works by love to God and our neighbour; betwixt a man speaking with the tongue of men or angels and the tongue of the wise, which I have proved, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, to be health to my soul; betwixt that knowledge which puffeth up, and that knowledge of the true God and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, which is declared to be eternal life; betwixt a well-furnished head, and a heart rooted and grounded in the love of God; betwixt the flaming zeal of an hypocrite, supported by the love of popular applause, and that zeal which is according to knowledge, or that love of Christ which constrains a man to endure all things for the elect's sake: and, lastly, that abominable error, denying the three persons in the Godhead.
The first time I ever heard Mr. V. open his mouth in public was in a room pertaining to his father-in-law. The subject was concerning the decrees of God. And he introduced himself to his audience thus; Don't you be afraid,' says he, 'that I shall soar too high, or lose my wings in my flight, for I shall surely find my way down again.' And then followed an harangue concerning the power, omniscience, and omnipresence of God; that not a single atom that floated in the air, nor a single blade of grass that clothes the field, but what were all directed by his hand. But before this he said, I know that the elect can stand these
things, and, as for the others, I care nothing about them.' But such another dry morsel surely never was set before perishing sinners.
After his chapel was opened the chief thing he seemed to aim at was to open the dark and mysterious passages of scripture, whereby a deal of light was communicated to the hearers, but I cannot say grace. As for my part, before this I was almost totally blind to those dark sayings and metaphorical expressions which he seemed to explain; but, after I had got a little understanding in these things, it was my chief study to follow after them more than after righteousness, faith, charity, and holiness; without which, the apostle declares, no man shall see the Lord. I took more delight in this than in keeping up communion and fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ: more in this than in taking heed to my ways, or making straight paths for my feet. So that I know, from experience, if a man understand all mysteries, and lack charity, the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost, he is but as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. But this false and delusive light served at once to puff up my mind and nurse my pride; the result of which was, a vain and presumptuous confidence, a hard : heart, a blinded mind, and a contempt of every one who did not possess this new light; although, in scripture language, it is properly called darkness. And I have often wondered, since I have
been convinced of these things, that God had not consigned me over to the condemnation of the devil: but his mercy endureth, and Jesus hath said that none shall pluck his people out of his hands. Again, when preaching concerning the believer's interest in Christ, he declared that, from the time a Christian had believed with the heart unto righteousness, no one could ever more doubt of his interest. He said he might be tempted to doubts, but not to give way to them. “I myself,; said he, have been above eight years in the ways of God, and have never had a single doubt concerning my interest in Christ.' Again, when preaching from these words: “ And be made partakers of the fellowship of his sufferings;” which,' says he, 'is to believe in his death and sufferings; thus it is a precious thing to have fellowship with him in his sufferings.' This, I believe, is not the apostle's meaning in that passage. But again, he preached a whole sermon in order to overthrow the doctrine of the Trinity; and declared that there were not. three persons, but one God in three different characters, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. What he said to prove this error I cannot remember; but, upon serious reflection, I can now discern his preaching was with a great degree of pride, presumption, and arrogance. Though, as I then thought, he was clear in many of the doctrines of the gospel; such as election, his favourite topic, repentance, the new birth, the necessity of effectual calling, the sovereign grace of God, the imputation
of Christ's righteousness, his atoning blood to purge the conscience from the guilt of sin, &c.
Now, sir, I shall give you a short account of my happy deliverance from the aforesaid error respecting the Trinity. About three years and four months ago I came to hear you at Providence Chapel. In the course of your sermon you was led to speak against Arianism, and clearly proved the personality of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; which at once cut up all the false notions I had imbibed concerning the Trinity. I went away, much distressed in mind, to pray for forgiveness; but could not, as it seemed to me to be unpardonable. I continued so for some time, during which period my airy notions, high thoughts, and exalted imaginations, began to come down. I still continued to hear you; but had neither a hand to reach, nor teeth to chew, those precious things that were held forth and set before me: so that I well understood that passage, which often followed me; “ Bread of deceit is sweet to a man, but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.” According to the good pleasure of God, who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, I heard you one Lord's day describing how bent the children of God were to backslide, both in heart, practice, and judgment. And you was shewing how far some of them had gone in each of those particulars; but more especially concerning errors in judgment: and you pointed out what gross ideas some had imbibed concerning the Trinity; and had been
convinced of it, and reclainied. And you confirmed it with this scripture; “They that murmured shall learn doctrine, and they that erred in spirit shall come to understanding. I believe in my heart most of that discourse was intended for me; because the Lord broke the snare, set my soul at liberty, and filled me with godiv sorrow, gratitude, and thankfulness to God for his long-suffering mercy and faithfulness, in waiting to be gracious to such a rebel. When the sermon was over, I went to the vestry door, in order to tell you of my happy deliverance; but my heart and eyes were both so full, that I was obliged to retreat. Ever since this, you and your doctrine too have had a place in my heart and affections, and I believe ever will; though I have had many sharp rebukes and reproofs from you for what has been amiss, and many a comfortable word when dejected and cast down.
I saw three friends from Woolwich yesterday, and asked one of them, who had been a deacon of his, if Mr. Vessey did not preach thus concerning the Trinity? His answer was, “He did, and I received it from him too.' .
Pray, sir, excuse this scrawl, as I have but little time to spare. I beseech you to remember me at a throne of grace, as I labour under a heavy cross at present.
I remain your friend in the perfect bond of everlasting love,
British Museum, Nov. 26, 1792. John Hogg.