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Jesus of Nazareth, were yet strongly possessed with the fond prospect of a flourishing and prevailing Messiah. And we should wrong them much, if we did not suppose them equally capable as our moderns, of embellishing that prospect with all the grand ideas of judgment running down as a stream, righteousness and piety overspreading the earth, &c.--On this head, it may suffice to add, that Jesus perceiving one of his most zealous disciples tainted with the leading sentiment of his countrymen, severely rebuked him, as influenced by Satan in that sentiment, as an offence to him, and as savouring, not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

It has already been noticed, that the scope of these letters has been pretty generally understood. The writer has likewise had access to observe his reflections, on the aspect the religious world bears to the apostolic gospel, notably confirmed. In both these respects, the general conduct and language of his readers serve greatly to keep him in countenance. While he perceives his notion of the apostolic gospel opposed by the same temper and dispositions, that opposed that gospel when first preached, he finds, at one view, both that his design is understood, and that his reflections are verified. And thus he is furnished with fresh evidence, serving to confirm in the persuasion, that his notion of the gospel is a just and true one.

The remarks of his readers generally concur in this, that his scheme will never take. Thus it appears, they understand as much about it, as to perceive wherein it differs from every scheme fitted to flourish and prevail in the world. And to understand that such a scheme will never take, is, with the bulk of the people, found a sufficient reason to reject it, either as false or foolish. To this way of thinking they are accustomed, by having frequent occasion to perceive the manifest absurdity of adopting any political scheme, which yields no prospect of its ever succeeding or prevailing. Besides, as to religion, we may easily perceive numbers of people, having no great taste for it at present, who yet show a readiness to disclose their zeal for it, so soon as it shall be in a more flourishing condition ; that is, so soon as the reasons of their present coolness are removed, and the endearing motives in prospect have begun to exert their influence. To this observable disposition in mankind, we may, in a great measure, attribute the success which many preachers have had in awakening an occasional fondness for religion among the inhabitants of whole regions, while they have been exerting their eloquence to give them a prelilation of happier times.

To the same purpuse with what is above noted, it has been

observed, that the strain of writing in these letters can never serve to promote the interest of religion. This observation likewise deserves the attention of the reader: and it readily calls to mind the reason why the Jews were so averse to the claim of Jesus to be the Messiah. The whole tenor of his language, temper, and conduct, appeared to them so much the reverse of being fit to promote the interest of religion, that, for the sake of that very interest, they conspired against him; as they did afterward, on the same account, against his apostles. Nor did the Christian cause begin to flourish and prevail in the world till the Christian leaders began to be more concerned about the interest of religion, than about the truth of the gospel in its native simplicity; yea, in our own country, matters have proceeded so far, that many zealous Protestants, moved with the deepest concern for the interest of religion, have bound themselves by oath, to extirpate such as maintained the heavenly nature of Christ's kingdom, and the ancient Christian order.—But more particularly.

The writer has had the satisfaction to find, that he has been pretty generally understood on the d ctrine of faith. The ferment of the religious keeps him in countenance here.-. Here is a book, says one, writto decry all practical godliness ; another, he gives a very lame account of faith; a third, he makes nothing at all of faith, he makes it a mere non-entity; a fourth, the faith of devils ! Hence it appears, that the writer's doctrine has been as well understood as the gospel can well be supposed to be by those who dislike it. As his obvious and often declared aim, was, to transfer the whole stress commonly laid on faith and its actings, in the matter of justification, to the simple truth known or believed, even that same truth which is the object of envy, and source of torment to devils; how could his opponents

, or those who impugn the all-sufficiency of the bare truth, to justify and give peace of conscience, more clearly have shown their apprehension of his meaning? As for those who incline to wink hard, lest they should see too much, and, for want of a better way of showing their dislike, still affect to say, they do not understand him, 'tis presumed they might learn to express their meaning more properly, from the vulgar story of the Quaker's reply to his creditor, who, meeting him at unawares, complained he could not find him at home, when he formerly came in quest of him. The reply was, I did see thee, but I did not love thee." However, allowing them to use their own style, we are commonly at no great loss to guess his meaning, who has no other reply to give his neighbour, urging upon him a mortifying truth, than, "Sir, I don't understand you."

A cry has been raised against these letters, as if they meant to determine the future state of some persons whose doctrine is censured in them. Though the writer is sensible, that none but the more weak and foolish can seriously hearken to such a cry; yet he is likewise sensible that the wise, for their own ends, often indulge and encourage the foolish, in believing what they themselves see no foundation for: therefore, as he is persuaded, that the latter have as much concern with the gospel as the former, he thinks it proper to inform them, that when once men have wrote books, so acquired an existence as authors, they never die in that capacity, till their books are forgot, or have lost all influence; consequently, till that happen, they lie equally exposed to every one's censure or applause, as public edifices, statues, or pictures. The zealous cry in favour of the dead, in this case, is well known, by all people of middling reflection, to have no force, no pertinent meaning in it, farther than as it resents an insult shown to the reigning taste of the living. All such likewise know, that the names of authors and public speakers, dead or living, are, on all hands, conveniently used, as the readiest index to various points of doctrine, and particular branches of the public taste, when there is not the reinotest intention to determine about any man's future state.— Yea, the writer is so far from having any occasion to stand upon the defensive here, that he has in readiness enough, and more than enough, to put all his opponents to the blush, if they are capable of it. He has warmly opposed, with arguments hitherto unanswered, all those eminent preachers, who grudge mercy to the greatest sinners, even at the last hour : and though he has reason to conclude enemies to mercy to be none of the least sinners; yet he has no. where grudged, but, on the contrary, expressly maintained the freedom of mercy, even to them at the close of life. The open state of the fact, then, supports him in affirming, that he has shown a more benevolent temper to such preachers, than they to their fellow creatures. But what avails it to the reader, what sort of men are either they or the writer ? The great question that concerns the reader is, what is Divine truth? If he has found that, he may boldly say, Let God be true, and every man a liar.”—But to proceed:

If the writer, when he composed his letters, needed any farther evidence to support the vehemence of his style against the teachers and people most exposed to his censure, he has got it abundantly now. The main force of his censure turned upon this, that he considered them as enemies to his notion of the gospel, or of what saves men: and now, since his book was published, he has got manifold recept proofs of their

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enmity to that notion; and what is remarkable in this case is, that those same people who avowedly oppose that notion, complain loudly, as if their favourite authors were highly injured, by being charged as opposers of that same notion. Thus their opposition to the doctrine maintained in the letters, while it operates in such indirect ways, bears the manifest badge of opposition to truth. Now, though some diligent observer should be able to make it appear, that the writer has mistaken any one or all of their favourite authors, in supposing their notion of the gospel, or of faith, differed from his; yet still it remains clear as sunshine, that such people act an absurd part, in calling it injurious to censure such authors, yea, to censure them severely, if it be true, that there is but one faith that saves men. Yea, farther, though the writer bimself should, upon more careful inquiry, find that those authors agree with his own notion of faith, still he would have reason to reject them as the favourite authors of such people; or, in other words, he would have reason to reject them in the sense wherein they are at bottom understood and admired by such people. The writer professes to agree with the apostles, so do these people, so also do Roman Catholics and Scotch Covenanters; but when they and he come to explain themselves, they differ about the sense of almost every notable expression in the apostolic writings: yea, the apostles themselves are considered by some people as so many popes or cardinals, or rather as so many deities and by others as so many political projectors of plans for national churches, and the dominion of the clergy; while the writer considers them only as so many self-denied witnesses for a truth, which neither flatters the pride of any man, nor yet yields any prospect of its ever prevailing in the world.- The like turn of reflection may easily be extended to the different notions men have of the character of the Messiah.

Remarkable has been the zeal for piety and holiness which the doctrine exhibited in these letters has awakened in the minds of the religious. The doctrine of unlimited mercy, scorning all the boasted distinctions among men, seldom or never fails to move the spleen of those who plume themselves most on their devout character, and have the words piety, holiness, and the like, most familiar in their mouths. The zeal of the most forward of this class, however much restrained in this land of liberty, does yet sufficiently show itself to be of the same nature with the vaunted holiness of those who said, “For a good work we stone thee not," but--for what? in one word, for iinpiety.

The writer has of late got many recent proofs, clearly

showing, how much our modern Pharisees reverence their renowned rabbies above the Scriptures. He has got abundant reason to conclude, that they would easily have indulged him in using great freedom with the gospel, had he only shown greater deference to the revered names of the demi-gods of his country. Moreover, by the general stupid surprise which they have openly avowed at the notion of a devout path to hell, they have shown themselves no less inattentive to the New Testament, than their ancestors were to the Old, who had the assurance to say, Search, and look, for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet; though their own Scriptures showed not only that the great light was to shine in Galilee, but also that the first prophet who preached repentance to the Gentiles, (even Jonah, whom Christ referred to as his corresponding sign,) was a Galilean. As to the notion of a devout path to hell

, the passages ascertaining and describing such a notion are too numerous to be quoted here. But if any of our modern Pharisees should think the inquiry worth their while they may consult a concordance, at the word HELL. He who has not a concordance, may read the 23d chapter of Matthew's gospel.

The writer has no reason to be chagrined at his readers. He is sensible, he is by far too small an object for the resentment they have shown. That which provokes them is well able to bear all the weight of their resentment. The cause is far from being his. He was never worthy to stand among the meanest retainers to it; nor would it suffer any

loss by the want of him; he only would be the loser.—He is likewise sensible, it would be very foolish in him, to attempt, by any reconciling methods, to soothe or allay that resentment; being persuaded, that the voice of him, who, at the beginning of the world, ranging mankind into two classes, said, I WILL PUT ENMITY, &c., will as certainly have its constant effect to the end of it, as the word which at first separated the waters from the dry land.—And though the cause of the disallowed Messiah* will never prevail in this mortal state,

* It may not be improper here to take some notice of a memorable saying used by Christ for the instruction of his disciples, when they were anxious about how and where his kingdom was to appear, and after he had given them various cautions against imposition on that head. The saying runs thus, “Wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” Nothing could be more fitly chosen, than this similitude, to show his disciples, how he would always be disallowed of men, yet precious to them that believe. What more nauseous to men, and what inore inviting to eagles, than an exposed carcass ? the latter are led, by the rich savour of the most delicious food, to resort with pleasure to that wherein the former can perceive nothing but what is dispiriting and

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