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table in the love of order.” If so, “after a certain degree of evil nabits contracted, must they not become unconvertible and immutable in the hatred of order ?" And if Omnipotence cannot prevent the one, neither can it prevent the other. Page 343 : “No creature can suffer, but what has merited punish
This is not true; for the man Christ Jesus was a creature. But he suffered ; yet he had not merited punishment, unless our sins were imputed to him. But, if so, Adam's sin might be imputed to us ; and on that account even an infant may suffer,
Now, if these things are so, if a creature may suffer for the sin of another imputed to him, then the whole frame of reasoning for the preexistence of souls, raised from the contrary supposition, falls to the ground.
Page 347 : “ There are but three opinions concerning the transmission of original sin.” That is, there are but three ways of accounting how it is transmitted. I care not if there were none. The fact I know, both by Scripture and by experience. I know it is transmitted ; but how it is transmitted, I neither know nor desire to know.
Page 353 : " By this insensibility and spiritual lethargy in which all souls remain, ere they awake into mortal bodies, the habits of evil in some are totally extinguished.”
Then it seems there is a third possible way of curing moral evil. And why may not all souls be cured this way, without any pain or suffering at all?
“ If any impurity remains in them, it is destroyed in a middle state after death.” (İb.)
I read nothing of either of these purgations in the Bible. But it appears to me, from the whole tenor of his writings, that the Chevalier's notions are about one quarter Scriptural, one quarter Popish, and two quarters Mystic.
Page 360: “ God dissipated the chaos, introduced into the solar system by the fall of angels.” Does Sacred Writ affirm this? Where is it written, except in Jacob Behmen?
Page 366 : “ Physical evil is the only means of curing moral evil.” This is absolutely contrary both to Scripture, experience, and his own words, page 353. And “this great principle," as he terms it, is one of those fundamental mistakes which run through the whole Mystic divinity.
Almost all that is asserted in the following pages may likewise be confuted by simply denying it.
Page 378: “Hence we see the necessity of sufferings and expiatory pains in order to purify lapsed beings; the intrinsic efficacy of physical, to cure moral, evil.”
Expiatory pains is pure, unmixed Popery ; but they can have ne place in the Mystic scheme. This only asserts, “ the intrinsic efficacy of physical, to cure moral, evil, and the absolute necessity of sufferings to purify lapsed beings :" neither of which I can find in the Bible; though I really believe there is as much of the efficacy in sufferings, as in spiritual lethargy.
Page 374: " If beasts bave any souis, they are either material or
mmmaterial, to be annihilated after death ; or degraded intelligences.” No; they may be immaterial, and yet not to be annihilated.
If you ask, But how are they to subsist after death?" I answer, He that made them knows.
The sixth book, I fear, is more dangerously wrong than any of the preceding, as it effectually undermines the whole Scriptural account of God's reconciling the world unto himself, and turns the whole redemption of man by the blood of Christ into a mere metaphor. I doubt whether Jacob Behmen does not do the same. I am sure he does if Mr. Law understands him right.
I have not time to specify all the exceptionable passages : if I did, I must transcribe part of almost every page.
Page 393 : “ The Divinity is unsusceptible of anger.” I take this to be the wpwrov Lavdos [fundamental error] of all the Mystics. But I demand the proof. I take anger to have the same relation to justice, as love has to mercy.
But if we grant them this, then they will prove their point. For if God was never angry,
anger could never be appeased; and then we may safely adopt the very words of Socinus, Tota redemptionis nostræ per Christum metaphora ; [the whole of our redemption by Christ is a metaphor;] seeing Christ died only to “ show to all the celestial choirs God's infinite aversion to disorder.”
Page 394 : “He suffered, because of the sin of men, infinite agonies, as a tender father suffers to see the vices of his children. He felt all that lapsed angels and men should have suffered to all eternity. Without this sacrifice, celestial spirits could never have known the horrible deformity of vice. In this sense, he substituted himself as a victim to take away the sins of the world ; not to appease vindictive justice, but to show God's infinite love of justice.”
This is as broad Socinianism as can be imagined. Nay, it is more. It is not only denying the satisfaction of Christ, but supposing that he died for devils as much, and for the angels in heaven much more, than he did for man.
Indeed, he calls Him an expiatory sacrifice, a propitiatory victim ; but remember it was only in this sense: for you are told again, (page 399,) “ See the deplorable ignorance of those who represent the expiatory sacrifice of Christ as destined to appease vindictive justice, and avert divine vengeance. It is by such frivolous and blasphemous notions that the Schoolmen have exposed this divine mystery.”
These “frivolous and blasphemous notions," do I receive as the precious truths of God. And so deplorable is my ignorance, that I verily believe all who deny them deny the Lord that bought them.
Page 400: “ The immediate, essential, necessary means of reuniting inen to God are prayer, mortification and self-denial.” No; the immediate, essential, necessary mean of reuniting me to God, is living faith; and that alone : Without this, I cannot be reunited to God; with this, I cannot but be reunited.
Prayer, mortification, and self-denial, are the fruits of faith, and the grand means of continuing and increasing it.
But I object to the account Mr. R., and all the Mystics, give of those. It is far too lax and general. And hence those who receive all he says will live just as they did before, in all the ease, pleasure, and state they can afford.
Page 403: “ Prayer, mortification, and self-denial, produce necessarily in the soul, faith, hope, and charity."
On the contrary, faith must necessarily precede both prayer, mortification, and self-denial, if we mean thereby, " adoring God in spirit and in truth, a continual death to all that is visible, and a constant, universal suppression and sacrifice of all the motions of false love." And the Chevalier talks of all these like a mere parrot, if he did not know and feel in his inmost soul, that it is absolutely false that any of these should subsist in our heart till we truly believe in the Son of God.
" True faith is a divine light in the soul that discovers the laws of eternal order, the all of God, and the nothingness of the creatures." It does; but it discovers first of all, that Christ loved me, and gave himself for me, and washes me from my sins in his own blood. I am, dear sir,
Your affectionate brother.
CLXVIII.-T. Mrs. Sarah Ryan. [Mr. Wesley's housekeeper* at
NEWBURT, November 8, 1757. My Dear Sister, In the hurry of business I had not time to write down what you desired,—the rules of our family. So I snatch a few minutes to do it now; and the more cheerfully, because I know you will observe them.
1. The family ises, part at four, part at half an hour after. 2. They breakfast at seven, dine at twelve, and sup at six.
3. They spend the hour from five to six in the evening (after a little joint prayer) in private.
4. They pray logether at nine, and then retire to their chambers; so that all are in bed before ten.
5. They observe all Fridays in the year as days of fasting, or abstinence.
You, in particular, I advise, -Suffer no impertinent visitant, no unprofitable conversation, in the house. It is a city set upon a hill; and all that is in it should be “holiness to the Lord."
On what a pinnacle do you stand! You are placed in the eye of all the world, friends and enemies. You have no experience of these things; no knowledge of the people; no advantages of education; not large natural abilities; and are but a novice, as it were, in the ways of God! It requires all the omnipotent love of God to preserve you in your present station.
Stand fast in the Lord, and in the power of his might! Show that nothing is too hard for him. Take to thee the
(* The office of "housekeepers,” in some of Mr. Wesley's societies at the time of the date of this letter, "was to reside in the houses built in several of the large towns, where both Mr. Wesley and the preachers took up their alvode during their stay. They were clderly and pious women, who, being once invested with an official cha. racter, extended it sometimes from the house to the church, to the occasional annoy. ance of the preachers. As married preachers began to occupy the houses, they were at length dispensed with."-See Watson's Life of Wesley, p. 174.]
whole armour of God; and do and suffer all things through Christ strengthening thee. If you continue teachable and advisable, I know nothing that shall be able to hurt you.
Your affectionate brother.
CLXIX.-To the Same.
NORWICH, November 22, 1757. My Dear SISTER,-May the peace and love of God spring up in your heart, as in time past, and more abundantly! You have refreshed my bowels in the Lord : I feel your words, and praised God on your behalf. I not only excuse but love your simplicity; and whatever free dom you use, it wil be welcome.
Surely God will never suffer me to be ashamed of my confidence in you. I have been censured for it by some of your nearest friends; but I cannot repent of it. Will not you put forth all your strength, (which indeed is not yours; it is the Spirit of the Father which now worketh in you,) 1. In managing all things pertaining to the house, so as to adorn the Gospel of God our Saviour? 2. In feeding the sheep he has committed to your immediate care, and carrying the weak and sickly in your bosom? 3. In assisting, quickening, and directing the family at Kingswood, whom I trust you will always bear upon your heart? 4. In reproving, stirring up, or confirming all whom the providence of God shall put into your hands ? And, lastly, in watching over, and helping forward in the ways of God, one who has more need of help than all the rest; and who is always willing to receive it from you, because you always speak the truth in love ?
Do you find no interruption or abatement at any time of your joy in the Lord ? Do you continually see God; and that without any cloud, or darkness, or mist between? Do you pray without ceasing, without ever being diverted from it by any thing inward or outward ? Are you never hindered by any person or thing? by the power or subtlety of Satan, or by the weakness or disorders of the body, pressing down the soul? Can you be thankful for every thing without exception? And do you feel all working together for good ? Do you do nothing, great or small, merely to please yourself? Do you feel no touch of any desire or affection but what springs from the pure love of God? Do you speak no words but from a principle of love, and under the guidance of his Spirit? O how I long to find you unblamable in all things, and holy as He that hath called you is holy!
I am yours, &c. CLXX.- To the Same.
Londox, November 30, 1757. My Dear SISTER,—Your letter came in a seasonable time, as rain in a time of drought. How fain would we excuse those we love! I would gladly acquit those who severely condemn each other. The wrong to myself is not worth a thought; it gives me not a moment's uneasiness. But I am pained for others, who, if they do not sin against God, yet give great occasion to the enemy to blaspheme. You
may learn an excellent lesson herefrom. Suppose you are saved from sin, it is certain that you are not saved from a possibility of mistake. On this side, therefore, Satan may assault you; you may be deceived either as to persons or things. You may think better, or (which is fat more strange) you may think worse of them, than they deserve. And hence words or actions may spring, which, if not sinful in you, are certainly wrong in themselves; and which will and must appear sinful to those who cannot read your heart. What grievous inconvenience would ensue! How would the good that is in you be evil spoken of! How would the great gift of God be doubted of, if not disbelieved and denied, for your cause! Therefore, in the name of God I exhort you, keep close every moment to the unction of the Holy One! Attend to the still, small voice! Beware of hearkening to the voice of a stranger! My eyes ache, my head aches, my heart aches. And yet I know not when to have done. O speak nothing, act nothing, think nothing, but as you are taught of God!
Still may he with your weakness stay,
Nor for a moment's space depart;
And keep your hand, your tongue, your heart.
Your affectionate brother.
CLXXI.-To the Same.
DECEMBER 14, 1757. My Dear Sister,-I find by Mr. P-n's last letter, that he is deeply offended; that his former affection (so he speaks) is degenerated into a cold esteem, and that he no longer regards me as a dear friend, but as an austere master. Has he not a little affected you? He does not speak with passion; but his words distil as the dew. The God whom you serve send forth his light and his truth, and direct you
every thought !
Do you never find any wandering thoughts in prayer, or useless thoughts at other seasons ? Does the corruptible body never press down the soul, and make it muse about useless things ? Have you so great a command over your imagination, as to keep out all unprofitable images ? at least to banish them the moment they appear, so that they neither trouble nor sully your soul ? Do you find every reasoning brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ? Is there no vanity or folly in your dreams? no temptation that almost overcomes you? And are you then as sensible of the presence of God, and as full of prayer, as when you are waking?
I can hardly avoid trembling for you still : upon what a pinnacle do you stand! Perhaps few persons in England have been in so dangerous a situation as you are now. I know not whether any other was ever so regarded both by my brother and me at the same time. What can I do to help you? The Father of mercies help you, and with his favourable kindness surround you on every side! May the eternal Spirit help you in every thought, word, and work, to serve the living God! I am
Your affectionate brother.
CLXXII.-To the Same.
· JANUARY 20, 1758. My Dear Sister,—How did you feel yourself under your late trial ? Did you find no stirring of resentment; no remains of your own will ;