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given himself for me, I expect every needful blessing; to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the one self-existent Jehovah, be all glory and honour for ever and ever.
I remain yours, with esteem, in the bond of peace,
Great St. Ann's street, Westminster,
Dec. 25, 1793.
To FEDDE FIXSEN.
I RECEIVED your kind letter, and bless God for condescending to make me useful to you, or to any other of his children. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.” The work is the Lord's, and he will work in whom and by whom he pleases. Every preacher that God sends has all his work lined out before him, and no man shall do it but the instrument that God has appointed. Peter must go to Cornelius, Paul to help them of Macedonia, and Philip to the Ethiopian; and perhaps he has appointed me to clear away a little of your rubbish, that you may make a better joint than you ever yet have done with the chief corner stone.
There are few of the Lord's chosen but who, at their first awakening, and when under legal convictions, wage war, and spend the shafts of their natural enmity and rebellion, at the doctrine of God's election, which is a terrible obstacle in the way of self-sufficiency and human consequence. It is a mountain of brass, Zech. vi. 1, which proud nature cannot submit to, which free-will cannot surmount, and which malice itself cannot remove. It divests poor mortals of all their supposed sovereignty, baffles free-agency itself, and renders the hand of the proud doer incapable of contributing the least mite to the work of the Most High, which from all eternity was finished in the decree and purpose of God, Heb. iv. 3. It tells us that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill: so far from it, it is the lame that take the prey, the weak are strong, and he that becomes a fool is wise. All which is contrary to reason, and is to them that perish foolishness. God will stain the pride of all human glory, by hiding his mysteries from the wise and prudent, that those who profess themselves wise may become fools, vain in their imaginations, until their foolish hearts are darkened.
Universal redemption must be held by those professors who are conscious to themselves that the redemption price has never been applied to them, or else they must exclude themselves from all redemption touching experience: which true and honest confession of exclusion would at once render their profession empty, and debase them to a level with the world; which those can never brook who are left to seek honour one of another; so far from it, they are almost ready to blaspheme the God of heaven, when he discovers the hypocrisy of their hearts, by shewing their wickedness openly before the congregation. Saul will call for honour before the people, even when given up of God to a reprobate mind, and to a fearful looking for of judgment; which shews that neither the invasions of wrath in this world, nor the torments of hell in the next, will ever humble proud nature; witness the pride and obstinacy of devils, who have been long disciplined with the cords of their sins and the terrors of God, which is the only experience of Arminians, and yet remain just the same, and ever will.
Working at the precepts of the law is the common task of us all, until the Lord begin to work in us, for by nature we know no other way of life. The way of faith is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close even from the fowls of heaven till God discovers it; of course the awakened mind will turn his feet to the testimonies, and make haste to keep the commandments. This is the only way that seemeth right unto a man till he is taught better. The law shews a man his sin, and works death in him by its own goodness; and, if he follows his work closely, it will, sooner or later, shew him his weakness, condemn him for his partial: performances, and there leave him: and numbers who stick here, and go no further, pass with many preachers in our days for humble souls, and blessed recipients of grace. Preachers, who have not the Spirit, must deal in the letter; and those, who cannot handle the mystery, must work at the precepts; which the unhumbled heart is fond of, as it does not, in the eyes of the blind, exclude boasting, which faith does. He that puts on the outside, the most shining varnish, is sure to tell his neighbour to stand by himself, for he is holier than he; and every one that can perform a double task of dead works is licensed, as he thinks, to have a throw at the publican. And this is easily accounted for, because to this day the vail is on the heart of all Moses's disciples; and, while they are kept looking through that curtain, darkness appears to be light, and light darkness; evil to be good, and good evil. Every thing on their own side of the vail is a prize, but every thing on the other side a blank. Peter says they cannot see afar off. They can see a mote in another, while they cannot see a beam in themselves; and strain their jaws at a gnat, yet swallow a camel imperceptibly. It was through this vail the Samaritans looked when they set up their own judgment, and called Simon Magus the great power of God. And the Jewish scribes did the same when they called the divine master Beelzebub, and a fellow; but themselves Moses's disciples: a sufficient proof that the vail hung heavy upon them; they were wise and pru
dent in their own eyes, but their foolish hearts were darkened. They knew not the day of their visitation, they could not discern the signs of the times; and so the mysteries of the kingdom, and the things which made for their peace, were hid from their eyes. And this is the case with too many in a profession in our day; a formal round of duties, a decent deportment, legal and partial obedience, and eye service, which are all dead works, are rested in, and trusted to, instead of the merits of Christ and the renewing operations of the Holy Ghost. But 0, sir, the wild olive branch must bear wild fruit until engrafted into the good olive tree; this branch can have neither life nor fruit till it partake of the goodness and fatness of the ever-blessed tree of oil. The soul that is delivered from the law, and united to Christ, who is under the dominion of grace, influenced and actuated by the Holy Spirit of promise, shall never be barren, nor fruitless; the faithfulness of God is engaged to keep his leaf green, and his soul shall never cease from yielding fruit.
That article of faith, called our Lord's descension into hell, never had any footing or foundation in God's book. The human nature dying in union with the Godhead, must answer every infinite demand, both of law and justice; the human nature of Christ being set up, in the purpose of God, from everlasting, and ordained to everlasting glory, and the union of it to eternal divinity in Christ's death, must be sufficient to redeem