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his own.

attempted to rise; but happening to be dead, he was not able fully to rise up and come forth, till he got more power than

Now the preacher makes the atmost use of his authority; and as he rises in dignity, he stoops in condescension, and encourages the devout hearer to cheapen his offer still lower and lower, till he come as low as can well be imagined, even to what is the very next to nothing. “You can complain that you are dead, that you have not the least spark of spiritual life in you: if you be but groaning under a sense of

your deadness, it is a sign of some life; for the dead use not to tell such tales of themselves. You say you want power. Do not say so; for all the power of Heaven is ready for your use, and ready to do all, only put to thy hand. Though you want power, have you but the will ? Christ will accept the will for the deed. It is true, you cannot come; are you willing then to be drawn ?-You complain you want the will too.-Perhaps your will is only impotent. It is well if it be not obstinate.—Are you willing then to have your

will bended? There are promises at hand to make you willing.--Well, then, put your unwilling will into Christ's hand, and leave him to do all;—and the work is done."

The devout hearer, by this time, finding some motion in his heart, corresponding, in some measure, with one or other of the terms proposed by the preacher, begins to hear some spirit secretly whispering to him, that his state and condition is changed ; that he is now removed from a state of nature to a state of grace; in short, that he is a gracious person.

Now the preacher, well knowing the common effects of his doctrine, and the spirit which attends it, exerts himself with all boldness and freedom of speech, to second and enforce the secret whisper of the private spirit, which the devout, hearer entertains at first with some degree of timidity and he sitation : "Why, then, it is to be hoped, that the good work is begun in you, which will be perfected at last. You have been favoured with the heavenly visit

. Many perplexities: may befal you afterward: but one such visit secures your state for ever. Be thankful to him who hath made such a difference betwixt

you and others; and when you behold the sins of others, from which you are restrained, let it be matter of joy to you, when you are helped to say thankfully, what the Pharisee said boastingly, · The Lord be thanked that I am not as other men.' You may indeed. fall into many sad miso carriages, failings, and shortcomings; but your faults shall never properly deserve the name of damnable sins, or sins

exposing you to the curse of God's law, and the fear of his wrath. Such a fear would be unsuitable to your state, and behooved to proceed upon an allowed act of unbelief

, calling it in question, if God be your God, and ye his children. This would be razing the foundations. Therefore such fear, as being unsuitable to the grace we have, cannot enter into the notion of the reverence and godly fear whereby we serve God acceptably; for not our God in Christ, but a God out of Christ is a consuming fire to all the workers of iniquity; that is, to those who are not like us converted, and brought into a state of grace.” See the two last verses of Heb. xii.

But to have a more full view of the above-mentioned concurrence, it must be noticed that the chief season, or day of power, or time of the agency of, what I call the private spirit, is while the preachers are declaiming with greatest fervour. If Christ be compared to a fruit-tree, now is the time of the shaking of the tree and the distribution of the fruit ;

if to Noah's ark, the preachers open the doors and usher in the people; if to a dove-cote, and the people to doves, the preachers open the windows. If the communication of the divine love be spoken of, the preachers are the earthen vessels into which it is poured, in order to be conveyed to the people. In short, they are commissioned to bring Christ near to sinners, and sinners near to Christ. So that if they are so modest as to decline the title, they effectually assume the character and work of mediators betwixt God and the people. The title of ambassadois is that which they use the greatest freedom with, and they no doubt reckon that they put considerable honour upon Christ, while they call him God's AMBASSADOR EXTRAORDINARY.

It must likewise be noticed, that the popular doctrine is so contrived, as to keep the people in constant dependance on the preachers, for their comfort, and in continual expectation of the season of power in giving heed to them. In allusion to the impotent man, who, indeed, according to the sacred text, laboured under an infirmity for thirty-eight years, and who, according to their imagination, lay so long at the pool; some exercised souls may be occupied so many years in fruitless essays and attempts. However, the preacher encourages them to wait and persist in their attempts, assuring them of success at last: and for their comfort in the meantime, he will not scruple to pervert the Serintovana in crder to pronounce them all blessed who are thus waiting. Again, in like manner, in allusion to Jacob, they who have been favoured with the season of power, and have enjoyed the wished-for visit, may remain unvisited for twenty years, be

twixt one Bethel-visit and another, or perhaps all their lifetime. However, though it be still held true, that one visit secures their state forever, they are not to content themselves with a reflex act; that is, with the remembrance of their first visit, and its attendant impressions; but they must be still endeavouring to obtain a new visit, by attempting again to put forth, as at the first, what they call a direct act of faith. In short, the frequent repetition of these attempts, or the straining hard to obtain some motion, or feel some impression on their hearts, is the great thing in religion, that first and last must employ the most serious moments of their lives. And herein it is imagined, the exercise of godliness consists. And however much the people may be thus kept in bondage for lifetime, groaning after some inward feeling or impression, yet both the unconverted, and those said to be in a converted state, provided they attend on the preacher, and continue waiting and essaying, are encouraged to consider themselves as in a blessed state; as being distinguished from the ungodly and profane, under the character of serious exercised souls.

Any one who has heard the preachers I have been speaking of, or read their printed sermons, may easily see, that the short sketch I have given of their doctrine, might be supported by numerous quotations; and that I have even retained their principal phrases as nearly as the gravity of the subject, and the shortness of this abstract, would allow. I know their doctrine appears ridiculous in the eyes of many who aim at muchșthe same end with them at bottom, but who think to gain it by a shorter and easier course ;, yea, they are laughed at by many who, at the same time, laugh at Christianity. This is what I can easily account for. But that any one who has learned his religion from the New Testament, should mistake their doctrine for the Christian, is indeed astonishing! If we should be so easily imposed upon, how could we rank with those whom the Apostle John once addressed in this manner, I have not written unto you, because ye know not the truth; but because ye know it, and that nolie is of the truth ?-—But it would require a treatise by itself, to lay open the many

deceits by which these men change the truth of God into n lic.

I might now consider, how the doctrine which thus teaches men to look on themselves as the favourites of Heaven, is subservient to several purposes, extremely foreign to the design of the gospel. But this may partly appear from what has been said, and may occasionally appear more fully as we go along; a particular consideration of this would open too large a field for me at present. I behooved to notice, first, the design

and tendency of the gospel, as illustrated by the real effects it had on them who first believed it; and then show how different these effects were from those commonly produced on the minds of the people, by the doctrine of the most zealous popular preachers.--Yea, I behooved to notice the difference between the God of these last, and the God whose character is drawn in the New Testament:- betwixt their Christ and the Christ preached by the apostles ;-betwixt their spirit and the Spirit which breathed in the lives and writings of the apostles ;-in short, betwixt their sense of the words grace, conversion, regeneration, holiness, charity, church, kingdom of God, &c., and the sense given of them in the New Testament. Nor need the extent of these differences he wondered at; for if a man differ from the apostles, how little soever, how covertly soever, upon the point of acceptance with God, that difference will be found, inore or less, to affect his every religious sentiment.

Having now taken a general view of some of Aspasio's principal friends, I will be at liberty to pay a more close attention to himself in my next.

I am, &c.

LETTER III.

DEAR SIR,

As the controversy we have entered upon, is of such a nature as it can be decided only by the Scriptures, it gives me no small encouragement to proceed, that I have one to deal with, who manifests a very uncommon esteem for these writings.

No question has been agitated with greater warmth, among men, than that about acceptance with God. And indeed, no other question can claim the precedence in point of importance. Yea, the importance of every other question must be rated according to the connection it has with this.

Yet we may well say, how rarely is that question stated upon the same footing whereon it stood betwixt Christ, and his few disciples on the one hand, and all the world beside on the other; but more especially the Jews, who maintained the opposition on more advantageous ground than any other people, then, or since, could do, and so gave the best handle for the fullest discussion of that question ? Amidst a multitude of disputes about the Christian religion, that have employed the mind of men, the capital question has been “much mistaken, and almost forgotten."

The greater part of the reasoners about acceptance with God, have generally made the question to run thus, How are we to be exercised, and under what influence, prompting or seconding? What shall we do, or endeavour? What shall we feel? or, What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us for sin ? Whereas, the first question ought to be, Can any doing, feeling, endeavouring, any exercise of the soul, either prompted or seconded, be of any avail to us in this matter ! or, Whether or not did Christ finish upon the cross, all that God requires, every requisite, without exception, to procure acceptance for, and give relief to the guilty conscience of the most profane wretch that lives? For I need not add, that it must be the very same thing which placates divine justice, or which fully expresses the necessary opposition of infinite goodness to evil or sin, that can relieve the sinner from the sentence of condemnation, which is no other than the voice of God, naturally residing in his conscience. We must not go to borrow distinctions from the schools, and say, What Christ hath done is indeed the only meritorious cause of our acceptance, and that our assisted or prompted endeavours, are to co-operate by way of some subordinate cause, under whatever name. No; we must either take the one side or the other of the first and main question: "No trimming, no reconciling expedient," must take place here.

My plea with Aspasio then proceeds upon this cardinal question, What is the turning point from despair toward good hope? The hinge of the hope of mankind is the hinge of our controversy

In this controversy, then, I have this advantage, that I have only one object, one single point to keep in view. I have it to maintain upon all occasions, that one thing is needful. My chief labour and care again must lie in this, that I do not suffer the change to be put upon me by means of any distinction,

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