MOST of the following pieces, many of which consist of short unconnected fragments, were found in his portfolio after his death. I many of them, the periods when they were written cannot be ascertained. Under these circumstances, the arrangement will unavoidably be, in some measure, promiscuous.
The Atheist acknowledges no God but Nature. That there is a Divine being that presides over the events of life; or that there is a state of future rewards and punishments, he does not believe; this leads many to think that the testimony of an Atheist should not be admitted as good evidence before a court of justice; because, (believing as he does,) he would as freely and fearlessly lie; as speak the truth.
But how is the matter to be managed? He comes go flee stand before the court, and is asked, “Do you believe there is a Gods and a state of future rewards and punishments? He will answer yes or no as best suits him; but who will believe a word he says? If a hundred of his acquaintance appear and solemnly declare that they have often heard him say that there was no God, and no state of future rewards and punishments perhaps at every time he lied; not one of the hundred knows that he ever spoke the truth. It is from him, and him alone, that the court must get the information, and get it from him, they cannot, for they cannot tell whether he speaks true or false.
Must then the testimony of an Atheist be rejected in every case, and he himself consigned to social oblivion; or is there any remedy to be found? Proscriptions, fines, or corporeal punishments, might make him play the hypocrite, but would not cure him of his infidelity, or make him a better man.
Men are found with the natural right to use means to supply their own wants, and to defend themselves from the abuse of others. Hence the established saying, “self-preservation is natures first law.” From this natural right, an association may invest their agents with power to provide and compel. In political association, each individual becomes bound to contribute as much of himself as is necessary for the good of the whole. The agents of the whole body, therefore, can require each individual to co-operate and compel him to disclose conspiracies against the whole, and what he knows of any ill design of one citizen against the life, liberty, or property of another. Oaths, at first, were solemn promises, made by one, or between two individuals or parties, without any magistrate to administer them.
All nations have entertained a belief in a Supreme Deity, and that he would punish them, if they were perfidious. Having a consciousness of themselves, and evidence of others, that a great part of the conversation and promises was idle, deceptive, and false, whenever they made promises, treaties, or covenants, or gave testimony, in weighty concerns, they appealed to their God, believing that he would punish them if they were perfidious or false witnesses.
THE Deist, the Unitarian, the Anti.Trinitarian, the Arian, and Socinian, notwithstanding their difference of opinion in other things, all agree in this, that Jesus Christ was not Jehovah. The Deist forms his conclusion from reason and the fitness of things, to the jeopardy of the scripture. The others draw their opinion from the inspired volumes explained according to their views of reason and the fitness of things These last I address.
Sirs, you cannot believe that one is three and that three are but one; which you must do, if you believe in a trinity of persons in the divine essence; to escape which absurdity, you deny that Christ is God essential. Is it not equally absurd ti believe that one is two, and that two are but one? And yet you believe the last without hesitancy. “And God called their names Adam – they two shall be one – they are no more twain, but one flesh,”
You cannot believe that Jesus is Jehovah, because the union of two natures in one person, is inconceivable, inexplicable, and unreasonable, you nevertheless believe that; he was born of a woman who knew no man, which is equally inconceivable, inexplicable, and unreasonable, with the first.
You believe all the book of nature, but can you read the folded leaves? How can men hear, see, speak, or think? Why does the water run down hill? Whence cometh, or whither goeth, the wind? What occasions the involuntary motions of man? Should Mount Vesuvius leave its station, and leap to Etna, and settle upon its fiery top, you could account for it as well as you could for the voluntary motion of your hand from one knee to the other. Ten thousand times ten thousand things you believe, on rational evidence, which you can no more account for, than you can for the hypostatical union of Jesus Jehovah. Who doubts the complexity of man? and yet, who can draw the line with precision, that separates the rational and animal empires? Or who can describe the cord that binds spirit and matter together?
IN an age like the present, when great exertions are made to meliorate the condition, and improve the mind of the human family, we feel it an imperious duty to contribute our aid for the promotion of the piety, peace, and happiness of mankind. And as it appears to us that there are a number of vices, that none of the societies have undertaken to withstand, we hereby enter our protest against those vices, and pledge ourselves to show and avoid them, and use our best endeavors to eradicate them from among men.
1st. We enter our solemn protest against falsehood, and every species of deception. The tongue, which is the glory of man, is often used, with the aid of the press, for the vilest of purposes. Our avocations are various, our standing in society diverse. As sellers, we will not extol our articles for sale, beyond our best judgment, nor bide their defects for the sake of advantage, nor in any way seek to deceive the ignorant, nor extort from the needy.
As purchasers, we will not, for the sake of our own interest, run down the articles of sale below the common price, or deceive the seller, by telling him how much cheaper the articles can be obtained in another place; but every one of us will speak the truth to his neighbor. We, moreover, will not purchase on credit, without a reasonable prospect that we can meet our engagements; and when we have engaged, we will be punctual and honest, that we may owe no man any thing.
As mechanics, we will be faithful in materials, and workmanship, not covering either of them to deceive, by paint, putty, or lavish applause; taking no advantage of the ignorant.
As day-laborers, we will be trusty and industrious, that the employer may have full tale of profit for the wages he gives.
As employers, we will not require an over rate of labor, keep back the waged pay with offal, nor in any way grind the poor, but pay them full measure, running over.
THE want of truth in communication, and the want of punctually in promises, are religious and national evils, which bring great calamities on church and state. What is the reason, when so many societies are formed to effect a moral reform, that truth and punctuality should be neglected? Is the answer given in sacred style, “Being convicted by their own conscience, they went out one by one, beginning at the eldest even unto the last,” or what is the cause? If the forming of societies to effect are form, in word and deed, is not acceded to, let individuals, each for himself, bend their necks to the yoke. In the pulpit, in the hall of legislation, in the range of commerce, in the public prints, at the fireside, and at all other places truth, without addition or diminution, should be regarded more than wealth, rank, or any thing that can be named. In this day of boasted benevolent institutions, which cost hard labor, and millions of dollars to support, (called the morning of the Millennium,) but little reliance can be placed on the words of the seller, and less on the promise of the buyer. My brethren, these things ought not to be. Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor, and pay your vows. Owe no man any thing.
 If, as many think, the principle of forming societies of mixed characters, distinct from churches, for the ostensible design of the suppression of vice and the spread of the gospel, has no scriptural support; but if the natural tendency of it is to unite the church with the world – make striped-pig moralists – lucrative preachers, and pharesaical proselytes to Christianity; yet the self-dedication of individuals to God, to worship him in spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, is essential to salvation.
A short comment on 2 Corinthians, i. 17, 20.
WHEN I therefore, teas thus minded, that you should have a second benefit and had sent on anointment to be with you, did I use lightness, as if it was a trifling matter whether I came or not? Or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh? as some do, making their ministerial engagements subservient to their own ease and gain; failing in their promises, when a punctual compliance would be contrary to their fleshy schemes. That with me there should be yea, yea, and nay, nay? That I should promise again and again, and fail as often, having no sacred regard for my appointments and promises. But as God is true, and cannot lie, and never fails in his promises, so our word toward you was not yea and nay. Our promises we punctually performed – our conversation was true, and our preaching simple, without contradiction. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me, Silvanus and Timotheous, was not yea and nay, but in him waas yea. However others may have preached among you, that the Son of God failed in his promises, and from that view of Christ, were led to imitate him, with a yea for a promise, and a nay for accomplishment; yet with US it was the reverse. For all the promises of God in him, are yea, and in him amen. God made many promises to the nation of Israel, to individuals, and Gen. tile nations, (see Jer. 18,) on conditions. If those conditions were not performed, the promises, on God's part, failed; but the promise of the new covenant, made to Christ, and to men in Christ, all of them will be accomplished; not to the support of licentiousness, but to the glory of God.
THE kingdom of ME, is occupied partly by ignorant, ambitious, bragadocios, and partly by wise, prudent, and humble men. The first are lavish in telling what they know, what they have done, and what they can do. The last know their own ignorance, feel their weakness, see errors in what they have done, and find veritas in puteo, (truth lies in a well,) and is difficult to acquire. And when any popular or profitable act results, they will be more ready to give the praise to others, than to themselves.
To fill a discourse with “I said,” and “I did,” is considered pedantic among the fashionable. But this rule has undeniable exceptions. The character of David is given in glowing language: – “David is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of wart and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the Lord is with him.” Yet this very man who was raised to high degrees, and was a man after God's own heart, was full of I-otism. In the book of Psalms, the pronominal I, is found almost eight hundred times.
PAUL, the chief apostle of the Gentiles, who had much wisdom given him, like David, speaks in his epistles, abundantly in the first person. In two chapters only, Rom. vii., and 1 Cor. ix., the I is found more than sixty times, yet neither David nor Paul can be justly reproached as coxcombs, or superanuated egotists. Neither of them speak in the first person to aggrandize ME.
Logical and metaphysical reasoning often lead the mind (through its weakness) astray. Time and close observation on the tendency and result of opinions and measures, will correct those hasty mistakes: the man therefore, whose mind has grown mellow, by seeing, hearing, and observing, will express himself, “What I have seen, what I have heard, wherein I have been deceived, how I was delivered, and what I now believe,” with. out any desire of vain glory.
While I am writing, my thoughts are running. I have been preaching sixty-five years, and upon the closest examination, I find that I have studied more to be acceptable unto men, than to be approved unto God, (lamentable truth!) The ears and thoughts of others have governed me too much, and pressed me unto the kingdom of ME. Often, when I am preaching, the question will rise in my mind, How does my preaching sound in the ears of the hearers? What thoughts have they of me? Do they esteem me a man of talents or not? Do they think me a great divine, and very pious, or what do they think of ME? (Proofs of moral pollution!)
I was once in company with a brother preacher, whose claim to holiness, and having the spirit of prophecy was high. As we preached in Co., he generally obtained (what he ever deserved the premium of being the best preacher, which he bore with graceful modesty. In rare instances, however, the people, (for want of judgment and taste,) would give the premium to me. When that was the ease, I Judged by his symptoms, he felt as I have, when I have just caught a glimpse of a red apple slyly going by me, and dropped into the hands of one more esteemed. My conclusion was, that until I loved my neighbor as myself, and esteemed others better than myself, I should not think myself so far removed from the kingdom of ME, but that I could feel the force of its winds.
“BELOVED, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world. But there were false prophets among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you.”
It is supposed that there are (among the many sects of Christians nearly half a million of teachers: that many of them are false prophets, the texts quoted give reason to fear. Instead of condemning others, whose hearts and motives I do not know, I have great searchings of heart lest I am one of the false teachers and deceitful workers. Lord is I? Have I been preaching sixty-five years to be noted – to escape hard labor – for honor – to head a party – for filthy lucre – or any other motive except obedience to God, being constrained by the love of Christ? If so, though I may have confidence at lest to say, Lord, Lord, open to me, and tell what wonderful works I have done, the denunciation will Allow. “I Depart from me, for I never knew you.”
I am conscious that abundance of selfishness and imperfection has afflicted me through all my exertions, and that all my works, as well as my soul, need washing in the blood of the Lamb; yet, amidst all, I have a faint hope that the efficient spring in my heart is, love to God – love to the gospel – and love to the souls of men. As far as I can know myself, if money was to lose all its value, it would not stop me from preaching; and if all the fruits of the earth were cut off, like Habakkuk, I would rejoice in the Lord. But I judge not myself; he that judgeth me, is the Lord.
A and B began the world on a level – they enjoyed equal health and freedom from adversity thirty years; yet A grew rich, while B was very poor. B wished A to tell him the cause of it: A replied, the cause is found in two words, “come and go.” When I have work on hand, or business to transact, I say to others, “come.” I lead in the business, and never quit until all is well done. I take the negro's remark for my guide, “Where massa go, all go.” But when you have work on hand, you are not ready, and say to others, “go.” As you stay behind, the others loiter. Night comes on, and the work is not finished, and thereby the profits are generally diminished. Your accounts and settlements are put off for more convenience, and thereby become questionable and contentious. Losses or law suite follow, and poverty becomes unavoidable.
C was a preacher, but in the spirit was in the back ground; very orthodox in sentiment, but barren of holy zeal. Let him use what words he would, his soul was not in the work of the Lord. He would often say, “go to Christ,” but to his hearers he appeared like a way-board, to point the way, but not walk in it. D had but a small head of water, but was stationed on a living stream. The love of Christ so constrained him that he waited not for invitations or stipulated proposals, but went forth preaching, “Repent and believe the gospel – I pray you, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God,” etc. Having the love of Christ and being in Christ, his language was, “COME to Christ, and taste and see how good the Lord is.”
THE BOOK OF JOB.
IN what age of the world Job lived, is hard to tell. As his sons were housekeepers, before his afflictions began, we will allow him to have been sixty years old; after this he lived one hundred and forty years; by this rule, he was two hundred years old when he died; from which one might conclude that he was contemporaneous with, or before Abraham: but he did not live until after government was established that punished men for idolatry and adultery; and after the arts of printing, engraving and book. keeping were understood in the world: see chap. xxxi., 11, 28, and xix., 23, 24. From this it looks as if he did not live until after Moses. But in whatever age of the world he lived, he was the richest man in the east, and the best man on earth. Yet, neither his wealth nor his piety secured him from the most excruciating afflictions. The loss of his property and family he bore with saint~like fortitude and acquiescence, to a degree that has gained him the title of the most patient man that ever lived. “In all this, Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” He was next attacked with personal affliction – smitten with sore biles from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head; but still he retained his integrity and sinned not with his lips.
On hearing of his calamity, his three old friends, Eliphas, Bildad and Zophar, made an agreement to visit him in his distress, and bemoan and comfort him. They were accompanied by young Elihu, who, in the event, acted as stenographer. When they beheld his great distress, they gave full vent to their sympathy and sat down with him on the ground, and watched in painful silence seven days. Job then broke silencer and opened his mouth, and cursed the day of his birth, and spake unadvisedly with his lips. This speech caused a long debate between him and his friends. The question in debate was on sovereignty and contingency. Job maintained that God afflicted him, when he had been guilty of no specific crime. His friends contended, that God was righteous and would not afflict without cause; and, therefore, that Job must have been guilty of some enormous wickedness, which brought the heavy curse upon him; but could not specify what wickedness he had done, and support the charge. Had the friends of Job heard what God said to Satan, “although thou movest me against him to destroy him without cause,” perhaps they would have been less censorious.
The book of Job is a true Journal of the debate between Job and his three Fiends. The truth of the journal is no proof that all or any of the speeches were true. The debate was conducted partly by interrogations, and partly by bold assertions, and in both of which much satire and hard bearing/on character is seen. Conquer a man by bold assertions and you kill him, but conquer him by asking questions, and you make him kill himself. As Job was but one to three, it reminds us of Patrick Henry, in the Virginia legislature and convention, combatting the great Dons of that state. The speakers borrowed similes from all creation – used all the figures of rhetoric – enlisted all the passions of the mind, and spoke with all the pomp of diction that the eastern world afforded. Their speeches were awfully sublime, covered with a little obsenity, like the effusions of John Randolph. When they introduce any creature or thing to elucidate their arguments, they would treat of it in all its qualities and ramifications, and seem to forget the object before them, like an old man telling a story; so many circumstances occur, that he loses the track.
How long the war of words lasted, is uncertain. Job made eight speeches, Eliphas three, Beldad three, and Zophar two. They all appear to have been men of great research and eloquence, but they ended as they began, without a reconciliation in sentiment. What appeared to the others clear as sunshine, to Job looked as dark as midnight, and vice versa.
The error of Job appears to be this: he was so zealous to clear himself from the false charges of his friends, that he lost sight of his own blindness and pollution in the sight of a wise and holy God. His three friends ceased their replications, seeing him so righteous in his own eyes. During the debate, young Elihu sat by, a close observer, and probably kept a record of their speeches: but when the debate ended,. he was much displeased with Job for justifying himself rather than God, and as much with the others, for accusing Job of defects which they failed to substantiate. He was determined, therefore, to show his opinion. His fervency at the beginning reminds us of M’Duffie in his exordiums, but as he claimed inspiration of God, by which he was made perfect in knowledge, and spake by the movings of the spirit, our thoughts turn to Fisher Ames, who in his celebrated speech in Congress, said he was unwell, but trusted the Lord would strengthen him. Elihu was a handsome speaker, like Mr. Wirt, but did not dress his speeches with fine clothes so much that the body could not be seen. But his inspired eloquence, (as he is not implicated with the others, we are willing to acknowledge his claims,) did no more to humble Job, and cause him to repent in dust and ashes, than the human eloquence of the others.
God, who spake to the fathers in divers manners, now appeared to Job in a whirlwind, and spake out of it, in n manner that Job understood, convincing him that although he was clear of what his friends had accused him oft he was a weak, ignorant, polluted sinner, darkening counsel by words without knowledge. And Job confessed that he had uttered things which he knew not, and repented, in dust and ashes, for his vileness.
“I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee,” the language here used would justify the belief that God revealed himself to the eye of Job, in a human form, as he did to Abraham, Jacob, and others; in this view of the subject, what he heard in the whirlwind began, and what he saw with his eye, completed his humiliation.
How pitiable the case of Job! Stripped of all his property – deprived of his family – smitten with sore biles – sitting on ashes – tantalized by his friends – reproved by Elihu – and now called upon by God himself, to answer to him for what he had said.
Before honor is humility. As soon as Job was properly humbled, the Lord honored him. His friends were made to succumb, and bring their offering, and the prayer of Job for them was accepted, and their folly, in Dot speaking of God the things that were right, as Job had done, was forgiven. Yet Job had not always spoken right: God accused him of darkening counsel by words without knowledge, and he confessed it; but, on the whole, he had spoken better than his friends.
After his afflictions, the Lord greatly blessed his latter end; he lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his posterity to the fourth generation
How Long the debate lasted between Job and his three friends, together with the remarks of Elihu, and the solemn declaration of the Almighty out of the whirlwind, is not known but the history of it is not as long as some of the speeches made in Congress by individuals, and yet there are seven, if not seventy times seven more ideas in it, than in one of the best speeches ever delivered on the floor of Congress; which shows that the hand of God was in it, notwithstanding Job was sometimes presumptuous, and his three friends were guilty of folly.
Granting that Elihu was the writer of this book, (for it cannot be proved,) we may suppose that he kept a record of what each one said, together with a minute of his own speech, and after the death of Job, he finished the book. It is difficult to decide whether any of them heard what God said to Job, together with what Job replied, but Job himself. If not, the Lord must have revealed it to Elihu, at that time, or when he wrote the book. The book contains forty-two chapters, including 17,985 words. No man's memory would be a safe depository for all this, one hundred and forty years, or one hour. The inspiration and superintendence of God must be recognized in the whole affair, whether written by Elihu or any other man.
To this I add, there is one of the clearest proofs of the resurrection of the body given in this book, that is to be found in the Old Testament.
Elder John Leland
The Writings of the Late Elder John Leland
Pages 700 – 709