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Enemy; but this man conquered all. Others only hope to conquer while they live: but this man conquered most gloriously when he died. Death to him was but passing from a conflict to a crown. The victory of others gains but a mite, and lasts but for a moment; but this man won a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory: 2 Cor. iv. 17.
Before I conclude this letter, and as I never may have an opportunity of speaking to you again, I beseech you seriously to reflect that God has now brought that truth to your mind, by which you must one day stand or fall before his bar: I mean that important truth which I wish you to be convinced of before it is too late ; namely, that you are a perishing sinner on the brink of Eternity--that your help is not in yourself, but in Christ, to whom I have been directing you for pardon, peace; and complete Salvation. He alone can give you a new heart and a right spirit, that you may henceforth live like a Christian, and no more return to folly. Whoever carries the truth to a man, it is God that sent it. And the truth that does not save a man, will be a witness against him.
But,” say you, can such a man as I hope to obtain the same victory ?"
Why not ?—The same friend by which the men I have been telling you of, gained their victory, is now calling you to look unto him and be saved : Is. xlv. 22.
Every one of them that are saved was as far from salvation once as you can be now. But it began with a SERIOUS THOUGHT ;
as, " What am I about ?-What shall I do in the end thereof?-How shall I meet death ?-How shall I stand in judgment ?-How shall I endure the sentence, 'Gc ye cursed into everlasting fire ?!”
This went on to a HOLY DÉSIRE ;
"0 wretched man ! who shall deliver me? Oh that I could return to that God whom I have offended-Oh that I might have his favour !"
It then proceeded to a SECRET PRAYER; such as, "God be merciful to me a sinner-Teach me thy way, O Lord !
And all the rest, which you have heard of, followed in them as a fruitful tree rises up from a little seed, or as a Church begins with a single stone.
The man, that looks to Heaven for help, should despair of nothing. The battle then “is not ours, but God's: 2 Chron. xx. 15, being confident of this very thing, that he, which hath begun a good work, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Phil. i. 6.
Go forth then, Soldier, in the strength of the Lord, and in the power of his might; and you shall join those conquerors who are now singing an eternal song of Victory. In the mean time I will leave you a verse or two of the cxlivth Psalm ;
God the Holy Spirit enable you to sing it with grace in your heart !
For ever blessed be the Lord,
When Sin and Hell their force unite,
A FRIEND and Helper so divine,
REASONS FOR REPOSE,
ADDRESSED TO A CHRISTIAN SUBJECT TO TEMPORARY ALARMS
RESPECTING THE TRUTH OF THE SCRIPTURES.
Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.
1 Pet. jii. 15.
Feb. 18, 1804. DEAR MADAM:
I SUSPECT that much of the depression which you mentioned to me lately, proceeds from the present relaxing season. You are nervous; and have been of late much confined to your house. Solitude, also, as well as society, has its peculiar temptations. Probably Mr. - professionally engaged with his wonted energy, would smile at the apprehensions which disturb his wife, though he feels equally interested in the subject before us. But, certainly, there is something more than nerves and seasons to be considered, with respect to the minds of pious persons occasionally harassed with infidel objections. I spoke, indeed, only what occurred at the moment, in reply to your difficulty: yet, as you tell me that you received benefit from my observations, and now wish for the substance on paper, I will endeavour to recollect what I then said.
I remember to have begun by remarking, that the religious world has not been sufficiently instructed in the Evidences of Revelation; or, as to the ground on which thinking men receive the Bible as the Word of God. Young converts are so affected with the discovery of their lost condition, of the importance of salva
tion, and of the Scriptures as their only rule, that they are for proceeding as soon and as fast as possible. If they can but build rightly on the foundation, they have no question as to the foundation itself. And, indeed, if this foundation should never be called in question afterwards, all would be well; but I feel convinced that something more than an implicit faith is necessary here: a merely traditional adherenre to Scripture lies too much exposed to assaults, especially in such an age as this—an age, in which one can scarcely take up a daily print, or pass an hour in company, without meeting some remark which has a tendency, more or less, to sap the ground on which we stand.
I myself was once a professed infidel : that is, one who, carried away first by the love of sin, hoped the Bible might not be true. I then listened to such as were hardened enough to assert that it was not true : till, at length, I believed my own lie ; and the vanity of appearing something like a philosopher, who had thrown off the traditions of the nursery, set me on propagating that lie. But when, like the prodigal, 'I came to myself,' I had many painful steps to tread back, and many difficult and intricate paths to retrace. I now wished that the Bible might be true, and was glad to receive help from any able guide who had written on its evidences. Grotius, Bishop Butler, and many others helped me to see, that he, who is acquainted with the evidence which God has annexed to his word, has not only every thing he can reasonably require, but that, as Mr. Soame Jenyns has remarked, he will find it requires more faith to be a consistent Infidel than to be a Christian.
But you ask, “Do you never seel a shake after all this inquiry and experience ?" I answer, Now and then an unexpected and malignant blast meets my
mind, and obliges me to have recourse to my usual method. Perhaps, after what I have known and felt, I ought to repel it instantly as a temptation. Perhaps, at my standing, I ought not to honour such an assault with any examination at all. But I am not telling you what may be my duty, but what is my practice. Moreover, such is the frame of my mind, that I fear no other method than that which I take would satisfy it. As soon, then, as an alarm is given, I cast the eye of my mind over the leading evidences of the Scriptures, of which I have an habitual recollection, and which I need not particularize in their order to you. I likewise contemplate fucts and experience, and soon obtain repose. Like a man who is told that the foundation of his house is in danger, I call for the kcy of the vaults on which my dwelling stands. I light a candle, walk down stairs, and pass very deliberately through the arches : I examine very particularly the arch suspected; and, after having satisfied myself that the foundation remains perfectly safe, I walk up again, lock the door, hang up the key, put out the candle, and quietly go about my business, saying as I go, “ They may raise an alarn, but I find ALL IS SAFE.”
“ Have you had occasion," say you, “often thus to go down ?" Not very often. "Did you always return satisfied ?" Always. “Then be so kind as to mention some part of that train of thinking from which this satisfaction arises."
Were I, Madam, conversing with an avowed Infidel, it would be proper to bring forward a regular statement of the evidences of Revelation : but this will not be necessary here; especially as your present request respects only those considerations which generally satisfy my own mind.
I shall begin with informing you, that I cannot look