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He cannot do it. How vilely he has murdered that hymn; weakening the sense, as well as marring the poetry !" But how was I afterward surprised to hear it was not Mr. Whitefield, but Mr. B.! In very deed, it is not easy to mend his hymns, any more than to imitate them. Has not this aptness to find fault frequently shown itself, in abundance of other instances ? sometimes with regard to Mr. Parker, or Mr. Hicks ; sometimes with regard to me? And this may be one reason why you take one step which was scarce ever before taken in Christendom : I mean, the discouraging the new converts from reading; at least, from reading any thing but the Bible. Nay, but get off the consequence who can: if they ought to read nothing but the Bible, they ought to hear nothing but the Bible ; so away with sermons, whether spoken or written! I can hardly imagine that you discourage reading even our little tracts, out of jealousy lest we should undermine you, or steal away the affections of the people. I think you cannot easily suspect this. I myself did not desire to come among them; but you desired me to come. I should not have obtruded myself either upon them or you; for I have really work enough; full as much as either my body or mind is able to go through: and I have, blessed be God, friends enough; I mean, as many as I have time to converse with ; nevertheless, I never repented of that I spent at Everton; and I trust it was not spent in vain.* I have not time to throw these thoughts into a smoother form ; so I give you them just as they occur. May the God whom you serve give you to form a right judgment concerning them, and give a blessing to the rough sincerity of, dear sir,
Your affectionate servant.
CLXXXVI.-To Miss Elizabeth Hardy.
DECEMBER 26, 1761. DEAR Sister,—The path of controversy is a rough path. But it seems smoother while I am walking with you: so that I could follow you through all its windings; only my time will not permit.
The plain fact is this: I know many who love God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. He is their one desire, their one delight, and they are continually happy in him. They love their neighbour as themselves. They feel as sincere, fervent, constant a desire for the happiness of every man, good or bad, friend or enemy, as for their own. They “ rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and in every thing give thanks.” Their souls are continually streaming up to God in holy joy, prayer, and praise. This is plain, sound, Scriptural experience and of this we have more and more living witnesses.
But these souls dwell in a shattered, corruptible body, and are so pressed down thereby, that they cannot exert their love as they would, by always thinking, speaking, and acting precisely right. For want of better bodily organs, they sometimes inevitably think, speak, or act wrong. Yet I think they need the advocacy of Christ, even for these involuntary defects; although they do not imply a defect of love, but of understanding. However that be, I cannot doubt the fact. They are
* From several expressions in this letter, it appears to have linen addressed to the Rev. John Berridge, vicar of Everton. Epit. VOL. VL
all love ; yet they cannot walk as they desire. But are they all love while they grieve the Holy Spirit ?" No, surely; they are then fallen from their steadfastness; and this they may do even after they are sealed. So that, even to such, strong cautions are needful. After the heart is cleansed from pride, anger, and desire, it may suffer them to reenter: therefore, I have long thought some expressions in the hymns are abundantly too strong ; as I cannot perceive any state mentioned in Scripture from which we may not (in a measure, at least,) fall.
Persons who talked of being emptied before they were filled, were, for some time, a great stumbling block to me too : but I have since considered it thus: The great point in question is, Can we be saved from all sin, or not? Now, it may please God to act in that uncommon manner, purposely to clear this point : to satisfy those persons that they are saved from all sin, before he goes on in his work.
Forgive me, dear Miss Hardy, that I do but just touch upon the heads of your letter. Indeed, this defect does not spring from the want of love, but only from want of time. I should not wonder if your soul was one of the next that was filled with pure love. Receive it freely, thou poor bruised reed! It is able to make the stand. I am
Your affectionate friend and brother.
March 18, 1760. My Lady,-It was impossible to see the distress into which your ladyship was thrown by the late unhappy affair, without bearing a part of it, without sympathizing with you. But may we not see God therein ? May we not both hear and understand his voice? We must allow, it is generally “ small and still ;" yet he speaks sometimes in the whirlwind. Permit me to speak to your ladyship with all freedom; not as to a person of quality, but as to a creature whom the Almighty made for himself, and one that is in a few days to appear before him.
You were not only a nominal, but a real, Christian. You tasted of the powers of the worid to come. You knew God the Father had accepted you, through his eternal Son; and God the Spirit bore witness with your spirit, that you were a child of God.
But you fell among thieves, and such as were peculiarly qualified to rob you of your God. Two of these in particular were sensible, learned, well-bred, well-natured, moral men. These did not assault you in a rough, abrupt, offensive manner. No; you would then have armed yourself against them, and have repelled all their attacks. But by soft, delicate, unobserved touches, by pleasing strokes of raillery, by insinuations, rather than surly arguments, they, by little and little, sapped the foundation of your faith ; perhaps not only of your living faith, your "evidence of things not seen;" but even of your notional. It is well if they left you so much as an assent to the Bible, or a belief that Christ is God over all! And what was the consequence of this? Did not your love of God grow cold? Did not you
Measure back your steps to earth again? Did not your love of the world revive? even of those poor, low trifles, which, in your very childhood, you utterly despised?
Where are you now? full of faith? looking into the holiest, and seeing Him that is invisible ? Does your heart now glow with love to him, who is daily pouring his benefits upon you? Do you now even desire it? Do you now say, (as you did almost twenty years ago,) —
“Keep me dead to all below,
Seeking all my bliss in thee ?" Is your taste now for heavenly things ? Are not you a lover of pleasure, more than a lover of God? And Ö what pleasure! What is the pleasure of visiting? Of modern conversation? Is there any more reason than religion in it? I wonder, what rational appetite does it gratify? Setting religion quite out of the question, I cannot conceive how a woman of sense can
in-relish, should I say? no, but suffer, so insipid an entertainment.
O that the time past may suffice! Is it not now high time that you should awake out of sleep? Now God calls aloud! My dear Lady, now hear the voice of the Son of God, and live! The trouble in which your tender parent is now involved may restore all that reverence for her which could not but be a little impaired while you supposed she was " righteous overmuch.” Ohow admirably does God lay hold of and strengthen the things that remain" in you! your gratitude, your humane temper, your generosity, your filial tenderness! And why is this, but to improve every right temper; to free you from all that is irrational or unholy; to make you all that you were, yea, all that you should be ; to restore you to the whole image of God? I am, my Lady,
CLXXXVIII.--To Mr. Hosmer.
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, June 7, 1761. My Dear BROTHER, I apprehend, if you will give another careful reading to those four pages, 244-247, you will find all your objections anticipated or answered. However, I do not think much of answering them over again. Your words are,
“ You say, “A mistake is not a sin, if love is the sole principle of action; yet it is a transgression of the perfect law :' therefore, perfect love is not the perfect law!" Most sure: for by the perfect law, I mean that given to Adam at his creation. But the loving God with all his heart was not the whole of that law : it implied abundantly more; even thinking, speaking, and acting right in every instance, which he was then able, and therefore obliged, to do. But none of his descendants are able to do this ; therefore love is the fulfilling of their law.
Perhaps you had not adverted to this. The law of love, which is the whole law given to us, is only one branch of that perfect law which was given to Adam in the beginning. His law was far wider than ours, as his faculties were more extensive. Consequently, many things might be transgressions of the latter, which were not of the former.
“ But if ignorance be a transgression of the perfect iaw"—Whoever said or thought so? Ignorance is not; but mistake is. And this Adam was able to avoid ; that kind of ignorance which was in him not constraining him to mistake, as ours frequently does.
“ But is • a voluntary transgression of a known law' a proper definition of sin ?" I think it is of all such sin as is imputed to our condemnation. And it is a definition which has passed uncensured in the Church for at least fifteen hundred years.
To propose any objections that naturally arise, is right; but beware you do not seek objections. If you once begin this, you will never have done. Indeed, this whole affair is a strife of words. The thing is plain. All in the body are liable to mistakes, practical as well as speculative. Shall we call them sins or no? I answer again and again, Call them just what you please.
CLXXXIX.-To Mr. Alexander Coates.
OTLEY, July 7, 1761. MY DEAR BROTHER, -The perfection I teach is perfect love; loving God with all the heart; receiving Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King, to reign alone over all our thoughts, words, and actions.
The Papists neither teach nor believe this: give even the devil his due. They teach, there is no perfection here which is not consistent with venial sins; and among venial sins they commonly reckon simple fornication. Now, I think this is so far from the perfection I teach, that it does not come up to any but Mr. Relly's perfection. To say, Christ will not reign alone in our hearts in this life; will not enable us to give him all our hearts; this, in my judgment, is making him a half Saviour: he can be no more, if he does not quite save us from our sins. I pray, then, be not quite so peremptory.
Who exalts Christ most? those who call on him to be the sole monarch of the heart; or those who allow him only to share the power, and to govern most of the thoughts and tempers? Who honour him most? those who believe he heals all our sickness, takes away all our ungodliness; or those who say, He heals only the greater part of it, till death does what he cannot do? I know no creature (of us) who says, “Part of our salvation belongs to Christ, and part to us.” No; we all say, Christ alone saves us from all sin ; and your question is not about the Author, but the measure of salvation. Both agree, it is all Christ; but is it all salvation, or only half salvation, he will give ? Who was Pelagius? By all I can pick up from ancient authors, I guess he was both a wise and a holy man. But we know nothing but his name; for his writings are all destroyed; not one line of them left. But, brother Coates, this way of talking is highly offensive. I advise you, 1. If you are willing to labour with us, preach no doctrine contrary to ours. I have preached twenty years in some of Mr. Whitefield's societies; yel, to this day, I never contradicted him among his own people. I did not think it honest, neither necessary at all. I could preach salvation by faith, and leave all controversy untouched. I advise you, 2. Avoid all those strong rhetorical exclamations, “ O horrid! 0 dreadful!" and the like; unless when you are strongly exhorting sinners to renounce the devil and all his works. 3. Acquaint yourself better with the doctrine we preach, and you will find it not dreadful, but altogether lovely. 4. Observe, that if forty persons think and speak wrong, either about justification or sanctification, and perhaps fancy they have attained both, this is no objection to the doctrines themselves. They
must bear their own burden. But this does not at all affect the point in question. 5. Remember, as sure as you are, that “ believers cannot fall from grace,” others (wise and holy men too) are equally sure they can; and you are as much obliged to bear with them as they are to bear with you. 6. Abstain from all controversy in public. Indeed, you have not a talent for it. You have an honest heart, but not a clear head. Practical religion is your point ; therefore, 7. Keep to this: Repentance toward God, faith in Christ, holiness of heart and life, a growing in grace and in the knowledge of Christ, the continual need of his atoning blood, a constant confidence in him, and all these every moment to our life's end. In none of these will any of our preachers contradict you, or you them.
When you leave this plain path, and get into controversy, then they think you " invade the glories of our adorable King, and the unspeakable rights, and privileges, and comforts of his children;" and can they then " tamely hold their peace ?" O Sander, know the value of peace and love! I am
Your affectionate brother.
CXC.- To Mr. S. F.
Bristol, October 13, 1762. My Dear BROTHER,-In general, when I apprehend, “Certainly this is a contradiction;" if I find other persons of equal sagacity with myself, of equal natural and acquired abilities, apprehend it is not; I immediately suspect my own judgment; and the more so, because I remember I have been many times full as sure as I am now; and yet afterward I found myself mistaken.
As to this particular question, I believe I am able to answer every objection which can be made. But I am not able to do it without expending much time, which may be better employed. For this reason I am persuaded, it is so far from being my duty to enter into a formal controversy about it, that it would be a wilful sin ; it would be employing my short residue of life in a less profitable way than it may be employed.
The proposition which I will hold is this : “A person may be cleansed from all sinful tempers, and yet need the atoning blood.” For what? For “negligences and ignorances;" for both words and actions, (as well as omissions,) which are, in a sense, transgressions of the perfect law. And I believe no one is clear of these till he lays down this corruptible body.
Now, Sammy, dropping the point of contradiction, tell me simply what you would have more. Do
you believe evil tempers remain till death? all or some? if some only, which?
I love truth wherever I find it; so, if you can help me to a little more of it, you will oblige, dear Sammy,
JULY 26, 1764. My LORD,-Upon an attentive consideration, it will appear to every impartial person, that the uniting of the serious clergy in the manner I