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awaits the Christian in another world. What greater motives can be conceived than these to holiness of heart and life? The divine hand is visible in all you have related. You were at first convinced that you were a sinner, and you did not wish that God should be your enemy : you therefore attempted to serve him with a self-righteous, self-dependent obedience ; but your devotion bore no re. semblance to true religion. God, in great mercy, and in faithfulness to your soul, laid the reins on your neck, and suffered you first to embrace Arianism, then Socinianism, and at last Deism. The whole of this procedure was in tended to humble you ; to remove every incentive to boast. ing; and to induce you to exalt the sovereign mercy of :? God, in saving and calling you with a holy calling, not according to your works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given you in Christ Jesus before the
world began. 1... I asked Mr. Clifford whether he had had any conversauon with his father on this subject. :)
He answered in the affirmative. But you well know, Madam, said he, that my father has long been destitute of the very form of godliness. I notwithstanding besought him to consider, that very soon, according to the course of nature, he must exchange time for eternity ; and I pointed out to him the blood of Christ as sufficient to cleanse the soul from sins of the deepest dye. It had however no effect. Every thing I said, whether concerning the joys of heaven, the torments of hell, the necessity of holiness, or the folly of a wicked life, were the objects of his derision. He said that I should soon be tired of my plaything, and should throw it away as other children do theirs.--Now I had known several instances of men who had made a very warm, not to say a very violent profession of religion, who yet after awhile grew cool, went back into the world, and became more remiss than they had been before. I therefore retired into my closet, and implored my heavenly Father that he would never suffer me to leave him. I earnestly desired that he would rather deprive me of my life, since nothing less than lifting up my eyes in hell could be more dreadful to me than the thoughts of relapsing into my former infidelity.
The fears of Christians, replied I, are given them for their security, and are a fulfilnient of the promise made by God concerning his children, I will put my fear in their hearts that they shall not depart from me. Other means of security had also been appointed. Christians ought not to pursue a solitary plan, and to have respect to no one's advantage but their own. On the contrary, being born of the same Spirit, and being children of the same family, and travellers to the same country, it is their duty to be united together in the fellowship of the gospel, to pray with and for each other, to hear the Scriptures read and explained, to remember the death of Christ by partaking of bread and wine in fellowship, and thus as a body to become the pillar and ground, or the support of the truth.
I acknowledge, Madam, answered he, that persons who are in the kingdom of Christ ought to conform to its laws: but to those who enter into a foreign country, time must be allowed for learning the laws of the country. I have conversed with several sincere friends of the Redeemer, who evidently appear to have the Spirit of Christ. One says to me, Mr. Clifford, as God has magnified his mercy in your conversion, I hope you will not leave the church of England, as too many in the same case do. God is evidently with us. A great number of gospel ministers have been sent to labour in this vineyard in the last fifty years; and if there are faults in the church, the dissenters are not perfect.-Another gentleman, who is a Baptist said to me lately as God appears to have given you a place among his children, it becomes you to prove your love to Christ by obeying his commandments, and to begin with putting on the Lord Jesus Christ by baptism. Examine, therefore, whether ye be not at present unbaptized. Another gentleman, a Pædobaptist, after some religious conversation that I had with him yesterday said to me--you must come, Sir, among us. You will never be happy in the church of England, which in fact, is no other than a popish church in some measure reformed. The church of Rome is un. der the direction of the pope and cardinals. The church of England is under the direction of the king, lords, and commons; and the bishops, (who are put into that office by the king,) and the inferior clergy in convocation as sembled, cannot alter one little of the creeds, articles, ceremonies, or prayers, without an act of parliament for that purpose. Although the great majority of the English clergy are Arminians, Arians, and Socinians, they subscribe articles which they do not pretend to believe; and many of them repeat every week prayers which in their opinion are blasphemous. They nevertheless cry up the excellence of the church, and are unwilling that a stone should be displaced or altered in this tottering fabric, lest the whole should fall into ruins : for they prudently consider that it keeps them warm and dry; and that if the cele lars and pantries, which are the most commodious parts of the building, were to be rebuilt, they could not be made better than they are. I replied to my friends who thus exo tolled their respective modes of religious worship, that I had infinite reason to be thankful that my eyes had been opened to behold the glory of God shining in the face of: the Redeemer; but that I knew at present very little more of Christianity than this, that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin ; and that I must walk with wary step, and read and pray over my Bible before I ventured to join myself to any society of Christians, because, notwithstanding there are good men in every society, yet Christians are too apt to overrate the comparative excel. lence of their own society, and to underrate that of other
I commended Mr. Clifford for his intention of learning the whole of his religion from the Scriptures, and particularly recommended the New Testament.
But why, Madam, cried he, the New Testament rather than the Old? Do they not both teach the same doctrine, hold forth the same atonement, and contain the same truths in every respect, except that the one was the shadow, and the other the reality? Were not the sacrifices offered un. der the law the gospel preached to the Israelites ? and was not Aaron in his royal and priestly vestments the type of our great High Priest ?
All chis, Sir, I grant, replied I; yet a bad use may be made of the best things. If, for instance, you were to ask the man of sin, arrayed in his royal and priestly robes, sito ting upon his throne in the temple of God, and showing
himself that he is God, or exercising power which God has delegated to no one, what scriptural authority he has for this, he would immediately cite the example of Aaron, the Levitical high priest. Paul saw that the tendency of Ju. : daizing in his day, was to make the cross of Christ of none effect; and yet at that early period, Judaizing Christians. had made but little progress. When that bitter plant had grown to his height, the man of sin had grown to his height also. And you may depend upon it, that lordly do. mination, enthroned bishops, Aaronical vestments, the sa. crifice of the mass, and altars resembling the altars under the law, will all fall together: yes, they will fall like a millstone into the sea, never to rise any more, to the great grief of those spiritual merchants who have long trafficked in the souls of men. : i
You have not mentioned tithes, Madam, said he.
Nor many other things, replied I. There being no command in the New Testament for the payment of tithes, when a proof of the divine right of tithes is required, they have recourse to the same authority as for the other fatal additions which have been made to Christianity.
Popery, Madam, said he, differs but little from paganism; and I thus account for it. When statesmen and bishops jointly undertook the work of conversion, and whole nations were at once to be made Christians, they found it necessary to consult the temper of the people, who had been accustomed to worship departed heroes, and to observe feats in commenioration of them, accompanied with divers sports and athletic exercises ; so that it is a matter of doubt whether the pagans were converted to Christianity, or the Christians to paganism. :
That Christianity has been exceedingly corrupted, replied I, is evident. To avoid the corruptions of it as much as possible, let us endeavour to follow the faith, the prac. tice, and the exhortations of the apostles, so far as God shall enlighten our understanding. If this determination be accompanied with prayer, and with a mind open to conviction, our errors will not be very pernicious. In things which are doubtful we must decide for ourselves in the best manner we are able, leaving others to do the same, without any breach of charity. Some indeed would extend
this charity to those who reject all the capital truths of the gospel, inferring from the doubtfulness of some things that nothing is certain. There are however, things certain, as well as things doubtful. It is certain, for instance, that the Messiah is the one Jehovah, and that beside him there is no God: but what it is which constitutes the specific dife ference between the Father, the Son, and the holy Spirit, is a matter of doubtful disputation. For my own part, I consider each of those sacred persons as the one Jehovah ; and in this my Bible abundantly confirms me. But when I attempt curiously to pry any further, I find many difficulties which I cannot solve. The same may be said concerning the prescience of God, his decrees, his permission of sin, and many other things, I do not perceive the im. propriety of investigating these things with reverence and humility, provided we do not make our own conjectures, articles of faith, and anathematize our brethren for not seeing with our eyes.
I should think, Madam, said Mr. Clifford, we have no right to anathematize any persons, how wrong soever they · may be; since to their own master they stand or fall.
True, Sir, answered I, we have not. But if God in his word pronounce an anathema against those who pervert the gospel, or who love not the Lord Jesus Christ, we ought to credit it: and where persons appear to us, upon serious reflection, to answer to these descriptions, we ought; on proper occasions, in love to their souls, to apprise them that they are in a state of imminent danger. This is not antichristian highchurch bigotry; it is not assuming a lord, ly domination over the faith of others; but it is charity, or love to the souls of men. It is endeavouring to save our. selves and those who hear us.
This, Sir, is the substance of our desultory conversation, and if there be any thing in it which will repay the trouble of reading it, I have my reward. It gave me pleasure; for next to my own salvation, nothing affords me greater satisfaction than to see a sinner rescued from everlasting destruction.
When you have leisure, I shall be glad to hear in what manner your conversion was effected. I am the more anxious to know this, because, by being sent into a popish