« AnteriorContinuar »
fied Christ, appeared to me to be persons of similar characters.
I then asked M. de Bethune, whether there had not been a visible church of Christ in all ages. Not visible, answered he, to the world. The world saw the men, but did not know the dignity of their charatter. And I must continue to maintain, that except a man be born again, he is an utier stranger to the church of Christ in general, and to every member of it in particular. Our Lord promised that the gates of hell should not prevail against his church; but I think, Ser, you find, both in England and France, that the gates of hell do prevail against the majority of men called Christians, whatever be their denominations. The church of Christ; therefore, if he has a church upon earth, must be sought for, like any thing else that is hidden, or out of sight, until it be found.
These sentiments were new to me. If my hope of eternal life was weak before, it now entirely vanished. I had been educated in a belief that the church of Rome, was the only true church of Christ, and that, all the pro. mises of God being made to that church, I was safe in its bosom. The church of England, I knew, acknowledged the church of Rome to be a true church: and I thought that she could not separate herself from a true church without committing schism, and that therefore all her members were in a state of condemnation. Upon reading, however, Fox's Acts and Monuments, I admired the disposition of the martyrs ; and when I read the Lives of the Puritans, I perceived in them a spirit which I was desirous of possessing. I sometimes thought that I could gladly · have changed situation with them. These things oc.curred to my remembrance when I was conversing with M. de Bethune. .
I asked him where I must look for the church he had been speaking of. If, Sir, answered he, you have eyes you need not ask this question ; and if you are blind, it is in vain to ask it. Still keep in mind the words of the Redeemer, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God ; and again, Except a man be born of wa. ter and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingr'om of God.
These words were arrows that pierced deeply into my soul. My grief, in spite of my endeavours to suppress it, vented itself in a flood of tears. At length I said, Pray, my dear Sir, what would you have me do? I can only, replied he, give the same answer which Paul gave to the Philippian jailor, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. Be so kind, Sir, said I, as to inform me what your reason is for supposing me to be an unbe. liever. They who are born again, answered he, not only see the kingdom of God, but also, in general, discern who are not the subjects of that kingdom. I saw in you, when we first met, much that I approved, but lamented that I did not also see the Christian. I perceived by your an. swers to several of my questions, that your hope of eternal life was built upon your own righteousness. Man. kind may be classed under two grand divisions, the regenerate and the unregenerate. The latter of these may be subdivided into the publicans, or the profane; and the Pharisees, or the self-dependent. The former, or those who are born of God, are composed of babes, young men, and fathers in Christ. The difference between these different classes of the regenerate consists not in the foun. dation of their hope of eternal life, for that is the same in all, but in their different degrees of knowledge. Will it be an improper question, Sir, said I, if I ask upon what your hope of eternal life is founded ? By no means, replied he. My hope is the same as Peter's when he said, we believe that ihrough the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved. The, soul of the Messiah was made an offering for sin. A Christian is distinguished from all . other men by his embracing this truth, which is the great subject of divine revelation. Every man in a state of unregeneracy substitutes something in its room, as I per. ceive you have done. It signifies not what this something is, whether prayers or alms, vows of poverty, or vows of celibacy, fasting, or the mortifying of the body in any other manner, none of these things being of divine appointe. ment. No name under heaven is given by which salvation can be obtained but the name of Jesus, nor any works beside his works, nor any sufferings beside his sufferings. This is the Christianity of the Bible, and it is written as
with a sunbeam. But the god of this world hath blinded the niinds of them who believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. The same blindness of heart which hinders the world from seeing the church of Christ, prevents their seeing the gospel of Christ. Books written in defence of Christianity may have their use with the divine blessing; but Christianity cannot be taught like geography or astronomy. He who commanded the light to Shine out of darkness, must shine in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
These truths entered into my soul; I knew and felt their force. I acknowledged this to my friend. But, alas, Sir, said I, I am a guilty sinner. It is true, replied he ; for under the Christian name, you have been rejecting the Redeemer as the only Saviour of sinners. When you substituted other things in the room of that one oblation, you thought that you did right. Saul also thought the same, when he did many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth, and when he dragged men and women to prison. Christians have been thus persecuted both by catholics and protestants ; for every man is by nature an enemy to the Christ of the Scriptures. If he call himself a Christian, he has substituted a false Christ in the room of the true, and his religion is the reverse of Chris
I ingenuously told M. de Bethune, that it was impossible for me to be more convinced than I was of the truth of what he had said. I desired him to pray for me. O my friend, said he, most gladly; I trust I shall ever pray for you. We are going to worship God in my family ; will you join with us? To this I assented. Bibles being brought, his eldest daughter, who was about thirteen; read the twenty-second chapter of Genesis, which contains an account of Abraham's offering up his son My dear, said M. de Bethune, what do you think this chapter teaches? The divine intention, answered she, to provide a better sacri. ficé than Isaac, which intention Abraham prophatically intimated, when he said, My son, Gou will provide himself a lamb. True, my dear, said he. It also contains a pro
'mise, that in his seed should all the nations of the earth be blessed. This seed promised to our first parents under the name of the seed of the woman, is the Saviour of sinners. The blood shed under the Mosaic dispensation, was the Gospel preached to that people. If it be asked why God could not pardon sin without an atonement of infinite value, I answer, It is sufficient for us that he has informed us of its impossibility. If said the apostle, there had been e law given which could have given life, verily righteous. ness should have been by the law. Sinners cannot yield a perfect obedience to a perfect law; and a holy God cannot be pleased with imperfect obedience, or with obedience to an imperfect law. Salvation, therefore, must be by mere mercy, or not at all; and yet it could not have been by mercy at the expense of justice. God, in saving sinners, has magnified his justice as well as his mercy, and has shown to angels and men the dreadful nature of sin by his detes. tation of it. And it is more than probable, that this display of its dire malignity will be instrumental in securing the everlasting obedience of many millions of creatures. Eve. ry attempt to save ourselves is not only an act of rebellion against the most High, and a contempt of the mediation of the Son of God, but' resembles an attempt to wash the Ethiopian white, or to take from the leopard his spots.
The youngest daughter, who was about ten, having read the second chapter of Ephesians, and his son, a boy about nine, having read the second psalm, he kneeled down and prayed. I shall never forget with what fervour, accompanied by many tears, he recommended my case to God, pleading what Jesus Christ had done and suffered, and what he had promised to them who come to him for mercy. It was such a display of unaffected piety, and divine eloquence, as I had never before been witness to. I seemed to myself to be in a new world. I had once thought myself something, but now I saw that I was nothing. O my God, cried I, I am nothing but guilt and - pollution in my own eyes : what then must I be in thine, who seest not as man seeth! Wash me, I humbly beseech thee, in the blood of Jesus Christ, and I shall be clean. This I believe was the first real prayer I had ever uttered. I had said many prayers, but had never prayed in this
manner. My God heard in heaven his dwelling place, and sent from above, and took me, and drew me out of many waters.
M. de Bethune and his obliging and happy family elltreated me to sleep at their house. The day being closed, I gladly accepted the invitation, as the gates probably would have been shut before I could have arrived at St.
Omer's. :: I had many interviews with this truly Christian family,
and would gladly have accompanied them to America ; but my love to my parent and sisters would not permit me ' to gratify this desire.
My dearest Miranda joins with me in the most affection. ate esteem.
I am, dear Madam,
Your's very sincerely,
IAM very glad that I mentioned to you my bad state of health. I am now much better. Indeed I felt better the day after I began to follow your advice. I sleep well and my mind is more composed.
I thought before that I was very temperate, and so I was, if compared with many others, but not sufficiently so for a person in trouble. About eleven o'clock I generally found myself sinking, and ate a slice of ham or other meat to remove my faintness. I dined at three, drank tea at six, and supped at ten. I ate meat both at dinner and supper.
: I now take about eleven o'clock a small tumbler of red port and water warm, with a slice of toasted bread, and hope to leave this off when my stomach is strengthened