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has sealed some souls by the Holy Ghost, under his ministry, up to the day of redemption; which souls must be so many seals of the approbation of God, and of his mission and commission from him. Living epistles, who are quickened by the Spirit, on whose minds, and on the fleshy tables of whose hearts, God has written his laws of faith, truth, love, and liberty, by the ministry of any instrument, so as for these epistles to shine in life and conversation, even so as for persons to read in their life what God has written on their hearts, must be a proof that such are sent of God. Yea, this is a full proof that such a minister is blessed with a cloven tongue of fire; or that he is a minister of the Spirit, a vessel of honour, with the treasures of grace; a steward of the mysteries, and of the manifold grace of God. But then where are these evangelized souls, where are these seals and living epistles to be found, who are known and read of all men? There are none to be found in Woolwich, who have received the Spirit by him, among all the converts he made there; nor yet at Streatham or any other place in these parts: nor do I believe there is one at Chatham, or in all the world.
Let us now come to facts; facts are stubborn things. If there is such a living epistle at Chatham, he will be glad to tell others what God has done for his soul, and to give a reason of the hope that is in him, and of the experience that worketh hope. And I should be glad to see such a narrative, or to spend an hour in company with any one that has been evangelized by Mr. Vessey; for I think a real living epistle must greatly exceed Mr. Vessey himself, both in life and doctrine, if not the writer of this letter also. Besides, the space of six or seven months is not time sufficient to read a living epistle in, unless a man has a very extraordinary gift of discerning spirits; especially as such an one as Judas stood three years in his profession without being properly read by any one, except the Lord himself. If Mr. Johns will point out the brightest of Mr. Vessey's living epistles to me, I will go down, in company with a few friends, and visit him; or I will bear his expenses to and from London, if he will visit us. But this will never be complied with; for I am fully persuaded, by the Lord Jesus Christ, that God never did, and that he never will, set his seal to the work of an unexperienced man, involved in confusion and errors. I have watched this matter narrowly for these eighteen years past; but never saw it yet, nor shall I ever see it in Chatham. Neither Mr. Butler, nor any one of his pupils, all the years they have laboured and toiled, ever brought one soul to God; nor do I believe they ever had access to God themselves: there is neither proof nor sign of it, or of any thing like it. That a pharisee may compass sea and land to make a pharisaical proselyte; that an Arian may make a proselyte to Arianism; and a Sabellian make a proselyte to Sabellianism; I do not deny: but none of these ever were, nor do I believe such ever can be, instrumental, till purged from their errors, in the hand of God in begetting souls to Christ Jesus, nor of communicating the Spirit of God, which they never had themselves, to others. I have made many converts myself, and have often been deceived by them; of the goodness of whose state I have indulged many comfortable hopes: but time has always discovered a great difference between the converts that I made and those that God converted by my instrumentality.
Quot. He was the great power of God!
Answ. Persons, who can talk and write at this rate, do not appear to me to be properly acquainted either with God or themselves; consequently must be very improper judges either of doctrines or experience. Who is Paul, and who is Apollos? only earthefn vessels with the good treasures of grace in them, that the excellency and the power might be of God, and not of them. Indeed they preached Christ the wisdom of God and the power of God; and to him power is to be ascribed: but to call a poor crawling worm the great power of God, is insolence and blasphemy. Christ will never give his power and glory to another, nor his praise to graven images. Indeed the Samaritans, from the least to the greatest, gave heed to Simon Magus, saying, This man is the great power of God, Acts viii. 10. But then there is a reason assigned for it; which is, that he used sorcery, and bewitched the people. But it is no true sign that those are living epistles who thus copy after a people bewitched.
Quot. Our thoughts, therefore, are thus; that he believed there is not three Gods, but one undivided essence; yet three persons in office, name, and character, as far as with respect to the covenant of redemption: and not a trinity of substances, as some blindly affirm, acting by one divine essence; but a trinity of persons in one self-existent Jehovah. So that, when a believer, approaching a throne of grace, calls on God the Father, he calls on Jehovah the Father, Jehovah the Word, and Jehovah the Spirit also. Yet there are not three Jehovahs, but one Jehovah.
Answ. This quotation, and what follows, is not delivered as Mr. Vessey's doctrine, but as the church's thoughts; which errs as much in thinking, for the want of experience, as Mr. Vessey erred for the want of experience in doctrine. And I believe no person, really taught by the Spirit, ever believed there were three gods. It is not my faith, nor ever was. But I suppose this is obliquely thrown at me, as Mr. Vessey privately charged me with error, because I believed in three persons in the Godhead. You allow that there are three persons in office, name, and character, as far as with respect to the covenant of redemption. I believe, also, that there are three distinct persons in the Godhead; distinct in name, distinct in office, and distinct in their personal properties; and that each person is God in all glorious perfections. And this the scriptures witness: for omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence; life, light, love; wisdom, goodness, understanding; truth, grace, eternity, immensity; immortality, and immutability; are, in the scriptures of truth, ascribed and attributed equally to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. 'These three persons in office, name, and character, are three persons as far as with respect to the covenant of redemption.' I see no cause for limiting the existence of these three persons to the covenant of redemption; for the Bible informs me that they are three persons further a great deal. I believe they are distinct in the work of creation. At the creation of the world the Father said to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, "Let us make man in our own image." "When he appointed the foundations of the earth then was I by him", saith the Saviour, "as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight rejoicing always before him," Prov. viii. 29, 30. The Father spoke, and it was done; the Word went forth, and created; and the Spirit moved upon the face of the waters. Thus creation was a joint work: nor was there any thing made by either person to the exclusion of the other.