Page images

LETTER OF THE LATE S. T. COLERIDGE, Esq. The following letter of the late which learning and intellectual Mr. Coleridge, may assist sponsors power can bestow, and with all to promote the spiritual welfare of the experience that more than those whom they have attended to threescore years can give, I now, the baptismal font : at the same on the eve of my departure, declare time it shews that Mr. C. was not to you (and earnestly pray that one of those who regard every you may hereafter live and act on claim to personal assurance as the the conviction) that health is a result of fanaticism and presump- great blessing; competence, obtion.

V. R. tained by honourable industry, a

great blessing; and a great bles'TO ADAM STEINMETZ KINNAIRD. sing it is to have kind, faithful,

• MY DEAR GODCHILD,--I offer and loving friends and relatives up the same fervent prayer for but that the greatest of all bless. you now as I did kneeling before ings, as it is the most ennobling of the altar, when you were baptized all privileges, is to be indeed a into Christ, and solemnly received Christian. But I have been likeas a living member of his spiritual wise, through a large portion of body, the church. Years must my latter life, a sufferer, sorely pass before you will be able to afflicted with bodily pains, lanread with an understanding heart guor, and manifold infirmities; and what I now write. But I trust for the last three or four years have, that the all-gracious God, the with few and brief intervals, been Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, confined to a sick room, and at the Father of mercies, who by his this moment, in great weakness only-begotten Son, (all mercies in and heaviness, write from a sick one sovereign mercy!) has re- bed, hopeless of recovery, yet deemed you from the evil ground, without prospect of a speedy reand willed you to be born out of moval. And I thus, on the brink darkness, but into light; out of of the grave, solemnly bear witness death, but into life ; out of sin, to you, that the Almighty Rebut into righteousness; even into deemer, most gracious in his pro

Lord our righteousness ; " I mises to them that truly seek him, trust that he will graciously hear is faithful to perform what he prothe prayers your

dear parents, mised ; and has reserved, under all and be with you as the spirit of my infirmities, the inward peace health and growth in body and that passeth all understanding, with mind. My dear godchild! you the supporting assurance of a received from Christ's minister, at reconciled God, who will not withthe baptismal font, as your Chris- draw his Spirit from me in the tian name, the name of a most dear conflict, and in his own time will friend of your father's, and who deliver me from the evil one. Oh, was to me even as a son, the late my dear godchild ! eminently blesAdam Steinmetz ; whose frequent sed are they who begin early to aspirations and ever-paramount seek, fear, and love their God, aim, even from early youth, was trusting wholly in the righteousto be a Christian in thought, word, ness and mediation of their Lord, and deed; in will, mind, and Redeemer, Saviour, and everlastaffections.

ing High Priest, Jesus Christ. I too, your godfather, have Oh, preserve this as a legacy and known what the enjoyments and bequest from your unseen godfaadvantages of this life are, and ther and friend, what the more refined pleasures





" But ye have not so learned Christ."

The world in which we live law, who set up other gods before abounds with so many errors that him, who take his name in vain, it were not to be wondered if the break his sabbaths, and despise his child of God should too often ma- ordinances, can they possibly love nifest deplorable ignorance on some God in the sense in which his word points of Christian doctrine and commands ? What is there to make Christian practice. Mixing, ne- them love God? Will gratitude cessarily in every day life, with do it? It is certainly true that those, who if they have troubled gratitude for every blessing (but I themselves at all with the question must only name it in passing) of religious devotedness, have taken

ought to compel us to serve our extremely superficial views of its Maker in the true spirit of Chrisreal requirements, they are liable tian devotedness. But what is the to frequent backslidings in faith fact? Do we see that it does ; are and in the performance of known men rendered good and faithful duty. The mistakes which men servants to the God that made make concerning religion origi- them, and who is shewing mercy nating from one source, they have, to the most abandoned of his creain the end the same result on the tures : does the remembrance of heart and mind ; if not in the care of God's goodness make men love others within their influence, at God ? least they have that tendency as I fear, brethren, this is only one far as the individual himself is more of the mistakes to which we concerned. What are the motives are liable. The whole world is which prevail in society at large full of mercies, and yet men remain on the subject of man's duty to his obdurately fighting against God Maker ? Are they not made up

of instead of entering on his service various inconsistencies which re- with all their heart and soul, as is present the Most High as a dreaded their bounden duty and highest being who commands at the peril privilege too. Still it is the case, of eternal perdition obedience which (and how much longer it shall be man can never make good, and to so, who can say,) that the carnal which the motive of fear is the miod is enmity against God ; only incentive. The obedience of a

still men " walk as Gentiles, bondslave to an all-powerful task- (v. 18.) in the vanity of their mind, master is that which is set forth as having the understanding darkened, the great requirement. It is only being alienated from the life of natural that so it should be; the God. It is not the truth that a mistake is only to be corrected by sense of gratitude has that influence an understanding of the truth on the stubborn heart of man. as it is in Jesus." Out of Christ Naturally, indeed, he might be a man must ever find a broken law susceptible of that feeling as far as that worketh wrath; must ever a creature, sent as he is, may be find the great God who made concerned; but he wants faith to him, and who

who still upholds be able to raise his thoughts to the him, a consuming fire. It is per- High and Holy One who being a fectly consonant with what we read Spirit must be worshipped in in God's word, that men should spirit and in truth. In telling him so dread God in a way that pre

therefore to let gratitude prompt cludes any better spirit. Can men him to obedience, you bid him do who are open violaters of God's that which is morally impossible. DECEMBER 1838.

3 M

Men may

You might as well think that the obedience must be rendered as the Ethiopian can change his skin, as criterion of any one loving God. suppose it possible that man by But since men have already vionature can love God. Can he love lated the law, their future obediholiness when he delights in sin, ence must be null and void, were and is held by it-can he love the it ever so perfect. Justice requires law that condemns him-can he that the law, from the time of its inlove the lawgiver that threatens fringement shall work wrath ; which him and frowns him from his pre- in fact is the origin of all the evil sence ?

that presents itself either felt or And yet it is absolutely neces- witnessed ; it is all the result of a sary that man must learn this violated law. Christ, it is true, temper if he is to dwell beyond the became a curse for us, in one sense ; skies after death; he must learn to but it is equally true, that we live love God then. There are not a in a world under condemnation,few who know this truth and value as every world, how fair soever, it beyond all price; and it is very

must be that "lieth in wickedevident that all who would be ness." The world generally, has happy must seek to know it in been penetrated with light; but time. How shall we get this light if not improved, adds to the knowledge, how shall we learn a curse under which unbelievers lie, better spirit than that which leaves when they will not come unto us only more wretched than before? Christ to have life. Can it be that our Maker denies it perish, and alas are perishing in to any of his creatures, seeing that unnumbered thousands in the midst it is not in one of us by nature ? of light, sinning against light, conCan he and will he bestow it, demned because they had light; though we have never yet served and were not the better for light: him aright, never yet manifested “ this is the condemnation,-men any better temper than that of loved darkness better than light, bondage ? If we are in earnest, because their works were evil.” this should be the frame of mind And thus we have another inin which we seek some method of stance of man's miraculous misreceiving a blessing. But where take; thus we learn that knowis it to be sought and how ? In

ledge of duty is not the same as the first place do we understand the performance, or in any way what we want. Do we wish for connected intimately with it: the some motives to obedience. If we regeneration of individuals, like do, then we must seek them, not that of our species, in the aggrein ourselves, but in him who re- gate, is nothing forwarded by quires that implicit obedience. civilization, without religious moThere is no pretence that the law tives and religious influence. is not to be satisfied. Christ came In the case of these Ephesian not to destroy, but to fulfil the converts, it was necessary that law. “ If ye love me,” said they should be reminded to walk the Saviour whom Moses typi- worthy of the vocation wherewith fied when the law was given on they were called-worthy of the Sinai, “if ye love me, ye will teaching which they had received. keep my commandments.” Now They, in their life and conduct his word expressly declares, “ that were to present a contrast to other he is the same yesterday, to- Gentiles who walked in the vanity day, and for ever.”

And again

of their mind, aliens from the life we read, “I am the Lord, [ of God. They had not so learned change not,” and yet further -- Christ. They had been taught “ He abideth faithful;

their need of Him by the law which served to give the knowledge hearts. It was a deliverance; beof sin : The law was a school- cause if left alone, they would master, to bring them to Christ.” have continued as the other GenIt was not in themselves to seek tiles, God only making them to Him ; it was not in themselves to differ. It was a deliverance, because learn of Him. There is that over- if not preserved by grace omnipowhelming blindness in the natural tent, they would have returned in heart, that keeps men ignorant heart to Egypt, and the house of though Christ is an all-sufficient spiritual bondage. It was a deTeacher. Light is come into the liverance, because they were not world ; but men are blinded, so as abandoned to the curse of a violated to glory in their ignorance of reve- law which worketh wrath. It was lation because it only condemns a deliverance, because they had them,--Christ being the way, the not received the spirit of bondage, truth, and the life, pre-eminently, which compelled them to fear, and solely :if men reject Him, they when they had it once-not that wander, are deceived, and perish. again. They had been brought He that rejects Christ shall not into the glorious liberty of the see life," the wrath of God children of God-not a liberty abideth on him.” But the Apostle which allows sin, but liberty which declares of those to whom he admits of holiness, and renders it wrote, that they had been taught possible of all attainment. If Adam by him. Therefore their hearts before the fall was free to do good, had been softened ; stubborn pride -the second Adam was undeniahad been dishonoured; unbelief bly so; and if our great surety, had been exchanged for humble pattern and guide were free to do resolute faith ; many a mountain good, -it follows that His people obstacle had been removed ; and when the glorious work is perit might seem a thing easy of per- fected in them are free also, and formance that the old man, which in this sense servants-not to sinis corrupt according to deceitful but to holiness, We need not lusts should be put off, and that trouble ourselves with the question they being renewed in the spirit of of man's free agency in the abstract. their mind, might put on the new Enough for us, that the Apostle man, which after God is created exhorts those to whom he writes, (by power more than natural,) in as if they were free to "put away righteousness and true holiness. lying” (as in the verse following) By whatever means, in whatever and to speak every man truth with way, all this was to be brought his neighbour ; free to abstain from about, it was absolutely, indispen- stealing,-free to work the thing sably necessary. Other blessings which is good, and to give to him connected with conversion might that needeth,-free to abstain from follow, and doubtless would follow, corrupt communications,-- free to

so that

-but this was a blessing which cherish the opposite graces,-free cast all others into the shade; to abstain from grieving the Holy withoutit man had better never have Spirit, -- free to put away all bitbeen born, than live unchanged, terness, and wrath, and anger, and and come to an accursed end ; with- clamour, and evil speaking, with out it, eternal life would

prove all malice, and to be kind, tenderbut eternal anguish. Having this hearted, forgiving one another, even blessing they had escaped that as God for Christ's sake had forperil; being taught of Christ they given them. If the renewed man were not left in the darkness of has not this freedom, neither are antheir understandings; they were gels free; they serve God in that delivered from the blindness of their perfection of holiness which the great and good Creator intended ty—to endeavour to answer it with when He made them; in the other all patience; not even to rest satiscase there is a righteousness im- fied then, but if we find it with us puted to the believer, and a strength otherwise than we could wish, we made perfect in weakness. If it ought to desire the mighty change, be said that the apostle Paul ex- as that which alone marks us out claims against the “ body of death" as those who have learnt Christ. as if he were not delivered from it; That sire ought to arrest all our it should be remembered that he faculties ; it ought to summon all subsequently declares that the our efforts ; it ought to keep alive law of the Spirit of life in Christ from time to time our relaxing Jesus (Rom. vii, viii.) had made energies. It is not enough that we him free. And in what did that are called by the name of Christ ; freedom consist ? Was he not we might as well to all intents and free from the law of sin and

purposes be called by the name of death ? (v. 2.) For, he goes on to Mahommed unless, Christ being say,

" for what the law could not formed in us the hope of glory, we do, in that it was weak through are cultivating the spirit of Christ. the flesh, God sending his own If any man have it not,

« He is Son in the likeness of sinful none of His ;” because if Christ flesh, and for sin condemned be our great Teacher, that man sin in the flesh." And for what has never learnt of Him-has purpose ? " That the righteousness never yet been taught what the of the law might be fulfilled, (not law requires : Christ in his gospel obviated,) in us who walk not after alone can teach it, and in that the flesh, but after the Spirit.” sense he is alive without the law. Now all this is perfectly consistent It may be in his possession, it may with what our Lord himself

says be mastered by the understanding ; concerning the power of the truth, but it has been a dead letter to in other words His own infallible which the heart has been a stranteaching : " the truth shall make ger. And yet that man professes

to have learnt Christ, calls himWe may take it therefore as a self his disciple, owns his ignocriterion, whether or not any one rance of many things, and acknowhas been taught of Christ : is he ledges that Christ is an all-sufficient still in bondage to the beggarly Teacher. How is it that he is elements, which the child of God still in darkness ? Has he not put must not make the ground of his himself in the way of getting light hope, or is he the servant of holi- poured upon his understanding? ness, being free from sin ? Is the Brethren, if we make a difficulty spirit of bondage still prevailing of this, every thing which we and keeping him an alien from the witness in the experience of divine commonwealth of Israel; per

of Israel; per- things, will seem anomaly plexing him with the knowledge equally as striking. Is it not what of religious duties, without motive

we see every day exemplified ? to the performance, save

those Has not sin such power, and our which are unworthy of one who nature such frailty, that unnumbears the name of Christ; or in bered circumstances such as this the place of this temper has he

our ? We know hat received the spirit of adoption. outward observances often find And since the question is one of their votaries among those who moment, one in which we never think of inward devotedness. all interested, it becomes us to It is so in society at large, it is so in propose it to our own hearts and that narrower circle in which reconsciences, with all possible fideli- ligion is more openly professed

[ocr errors]

you free."


may be


« EelmineJätka »