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the gospel before I went to hear the gospel at all; and from this consideration I am warmly attached to the blessed tuition of that great prophet of the church, Christ Jesus my Lord; and do most heartily acquiesce with pious Job, in his confession and question, “ Behold, God exalteth by his power; who teacheth like him?” Job xxxvi. 22.
Some may say, it is presumptuous in such a babe as myself to take so capital an error by the collar. To which I answer, God sometimes, out of the mouth of babes and sucklings, ordains strength to perfect praise, that he
still the enemy and the avenger, Psalm viii.2; Matt. xxi. 16. But
perhaps my reader is one of that stamp that has a hope of all the world being saved, whether they hold the truth or a lie. If thy faith is thus founded, its basis is nothing but falsehood, and God will sweep away the refuges of lies, and the waters shall overflow such hiding-places, Isa. xxviii. 17. Take heed, therefore, lest thou shouldest be drowned in destruction and perdition. Such a false hope, and such a gospel, is all thine own; it never came from God. If thy soul had suffered under the severity of the law, as some have, and thy deliverance from guilt and wrath had come to thy heart by faith in Christ's atonement, the same Spirit that wrought faith in thee would have led thee into the truth of God's election, that God might have all the glory, and boasting be excluded. If this be thy blessed experience, thou wilt be valiant for the truth, and, as a good soldier of Christ, fight the good fight of faith, and contend for that faith which was once delivered to the saints. But, if thy religion be taken up upon trust only, and it is a matter of indifference with thee what thou art established in, truth or error, thy religion has no root at all in Christ; thou wouldest sell all for less than thirty pieces of silver; yea, for one morsel of bread thou wouldest transgress; for thy faith stands in the wisdom of men, not in the power of God; ; and therefore thy faith cannot be genuine, nor its basis firm.
Every essential truth that we part with is an infinite loss; and we daily see an awful departure from the doctrines of the gospel. Errors gain ground; and champions for the truth are but few in number when compared to the other host. If thou art a child of God by faith, see to the groundwork of it. Hast thou the faith of God's elect? let election be its basis. Hast thou a justifying faith? let imputed righteousness be its basis. Hast thou a victorious faith? thy victory lies in a Saviour's arm.
Hast thou a purifying faith? then faith fetches its purifying efficacy from a Saviour's blood. Give up none of these truths; for, if we think truth is not worth contending for, we may expect the Spirit to clap his wings and take his flight from us. You read of a bird of the air carrying a voice, and of that which hath wings declaring a matter; and woe to our souls when God departs from us. But, if thou canst not digest the doctrinęs herein contained, thou must wait till the day of doom, when the gospel net will be drawn to the end of time, its last shore; and then thou shalt see all Adam's offspring assembled in a valley called the valley of decision; perhaps so called, because the Lord will decide the long controversy between the children of God and the children of the flesh, about the doctrines of sovereign grace and those of fallen nature. “ Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe; come, get you down, for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision,” Joel iii. 13, 14. I know a controversial writer is always deemed to be in his own spirit: however, God hath a controversy with the nations, Jer. xxv. 31; and his ministers shall teach his people the difference between the holy and the profane: and in controversy they shall stand in judgment, Ezek. xliv. 23, 24. God's decrees shall not always be called horrible, nor an everlasting righteousness be called imputed nonsense. Vindictive justice shall avenge the quarrel of sovereign mercy, so soon as old Time shall bring on “ the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of reco.npences for the controversy of Zion,” Isa. xxxiv, 8. What thou hast to say against the truths herein contained will cause but little trouble to me; God's approbation, and the testimony of a good conscience, are sufficient to support any faithful servant of the Lord under the
tology in my book, which is easily accounted for; because, when I have been indulged with a great flow of matter, I have been obliged so often to stop the spring, in order to study a discourse; and preaching six, seven, or eight times a week; and my places lying wide apart, have been an impediment in my way. For, when I came to sit down again, I had forgotten what I had gone through; and it was some time before I could get my cruse to spring again. I have had many visitors also to hinder me, and many letters to write; together with a deal of sickness in my family, which has sometimes obliged me to sit up all night to write. I believe this work will be very offensive to the devil, because I have been often violently tempted since I have been at it; but those that honour God, God will honour. I also think it will be a comfort to some, because at times I have been much comforted myself. And I hope it will not be altogether without power; because I got most of it on my knees, in answer to prayer; and we all know that God never gives a stone for bread, nor a serpent for a fish.
I have more works on the wheels, and as soon as possible will mould them together, and work them off; and they shall inform the world what God has done for my soul. All the errors that thou findest in this book I acknowledge to be my own; what is truth I hope never to give up. If thou get either edification or comfort, thou art indebted to grace for it; when it is well with thee, remember Joseph, Do not condemn it until thou hast read it through; and then, if thou canst prove the devil to have influenced the author of it, I wish thou and all the Christian world would take up their pens against it: but, if it be of God, none can overthrow it. If thou thinkest I have darkened counsel by words without knowledge, may God incline thine heart to sit down and write a treatise better and brighter: I will readily become a subscriber, and use every effort in my power to circulate the work. For why should truth fall in the streets, before the doctrines of devils, while her advocates, like Manoah and his wife, are only lookers-on?
To expect salvation from truth only for ourselves, without any regard to the rising generation, is to be like Ephraim-empty vines, and to bring forth fruit only to ourselves. But, if God give us enlargement of heart, as he did to Solomon, compared to the sand on the sea-shore, we shall take all the elect into our hearts, down to the end of time; the uttermost shore of this confused and sindisordered world: therefore we ought to contend for God's truth, and to leave our testimonies on record, that others, who come after us, may tread in our steps; and not leave volumes of freeagency, human merit, and a pack of nonsense, be
may be sure they will bring enough of this trash in their hearts when they come into this world, therefore we need not add to their abundance. I doubt not but many of the rising generation, when they come to be called by grace,