The following essays were published in 1810, in a pamphlet entitled “A BUDGET OF SCRAPS.” Several of the original essays are omitted for want of room.
THIS trite sentence is entitled to a good degree of credit, but is subject to many exceptions.
Infantus could count one hundred, but knew nothing more of arithmetic. His preceptor told him that ten times ten were one hundred: this the child could not understand, but placing ten grains of corn by themselves, in ten different places on the table, and counting them altogether, he found the total amount to be one hundred. The preceptor then told the lad, that ten times one hundred would make one thousand, on which the pupil reasoned as follows: “In the first instance, I know my master knew more than I did, and in the last, I have good reason to believe, that he knows more than I do.”
Servitus entered an apprentice to architecture. The master-builder prepared and framed each stick for the house, in a separate place, in the forest, and after collecting them together, reared up the house in regular squares and altitudes: at sight of which, the astonished Servitus exclaimed, “I know the master-builder knows more than I know.”
Neptunus resolved to try his fortune at sea, though ignorant of navigation; freighted a large ship for Canton, and committed himself to sea, at the direction of a pilot In the lapse of a few months, the ship doubled the cape of Good Hope, and came to her moorings before Canton. After Neptunus had adjusted his business in the East Indies, he returned a different route, but, at length, landed at the same port, whence he took his departure: on landing, he said, “My sense tells me that the pilot has more sense than I have.”
When Simplemus first read the prophetic calculations of Astronomous, respecting the eclipses of the sun and moon, he treated them as essays of chimerical folly, but when he saw them all accomplished, he radically changed his opinion, and now he believes all such prophecies, by a faith, grounded on reason: notwithstanding, he is still as ignorant of the science of eclipses, as he is of the first vital pulse of his heart. Simplemus has now adopted the maxim, that “it is reasonable to believe a fact, when supported by rational evidence, although the fact still continues to be inconceivable or incomprehensible.
As I am much pleased with the maxim of Simplemus, I wish to accommodate it to a theological use.
The incarnation of Christ – the personal union of the divine and human natures, commonly called the hypostatical union, is one of those facts which admits of rational evidence, yet is incomprehensible by men – by angels – by every being except Ubiquity, the great Eternal.
That Jesus Christ was properly and truly God, his names – his claims – his works, and the testimonials of inspired witnesses, all confirm.
His names are, King – King of kings – Lord – God – Everlasting Father, the First and the Last – the Beginning and the End – Alpha and Omega – the true God and Eternal Life – the Light of the world – the Life – the Creator and Upholder of all things, etc. Some of these names are given to angels and magistrates, it is true, but others of them are given alone to Jehovah.
It is moreover to be observed, that the Hebrew Adonia, or Jodhe vau he, which occurs more than six thousand times in the Old Testament, (translated Lord,) and which is a peculiar name of the Almighty, and never given to angels or kings, is frequently given to Christ, both by the apostles, who quote and apply such passages to him, and by the prophets when manifestly speaking of the Messiah.
His claims to Godhead are also manifest. Hear his words: “I and my Father are one; that all men should honor the Son as they do the Father, even so the Son quickeneth whomsoever he will; I am the resurrection and the life; he that seeth me seeth the Father also; I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you,” etc.
His works were many and marvellous. The prophets wrought miracles in the name of the God of Israel. The apostles wrought in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. If Jesus, in some instances, wrought by prayer to his Father, to establish his character as a prophet of the Lord, and set an example for the apostles, yet, for the most part, he spoke authoritatively, not in the name of another, but in his own name. In his casting out devils – controlling the winds and the waves, and raising the dead, very little doubt can remain, he wrought as an independent, self-sufficient God.
By Christ all things were created: he is the only Redeemer of men: by him all the dead will be raised. What works can evince godhead, if creation, redemption, and the resurrection do not? The two first of these works, however, have been done by Christ; the last, also, partially, and will be completed by the same hand, according to the Scriptures. Now, if Christ does all these works by a delegated power, which, as an exalted creature, he receives from God, what difference can we possibly conceive exists between the Creator and the creature? Has the Creator made a creature equal to himself? Or, are the works of creation, redemption, and the resurrection, no proof of Omnipotence?
The testimonials which Christ has received from Aspired witnesses are explicit, viz: “The word was God – all things were made by him – He thought it no robbery to be equal with God – the express image of his person and the brightness of his glory. Thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thins hands; they shall perish, and wax old and be changed, but thou remainest the same, and thy years fail not; this is the true God, and Eternal Life – the only wise God, our Saviour,” &c.
That Jesus Christ was real man, as well as truly God, is also evident. His flesh, bone and blood – his hungerings, thirstings and weariness –
His weeping, praying and sighing –
His groaning, bleeding and dying –
all unite to prove him human. But notwithstanding the whole force of evidence that is given to prove the fact of this hypostatical union of two natures in Christ, yet the fact itself, of God manifest in the flesh, is declared by Paul to be a great mystery, not to be controverted.
If I understand the import of enthusiasm, it consists in believing without evidence, but it is no part of enthusiasm to believe an article incomprehensible in its nature, when we have all the evidence of the truth of the article, that its nature admits of.
It is, therefore, my devotion, my joy and my glory, to adore an incarnate Jehovah. Should I refuse this adoration, I should act an unreasonable as well as a wicked part.
ELIJAH, the Tishbite, was very jealous for his God, but a man of passions like other saints. He was led, by the spirit, to pray for a sore judgment to fall on the people of Israel, that those who had despised the goodness of God, might be reclaimed by his severity. He prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth for the space of three years and six months. The drought was followed by a want of bread and water, and the prophet, who prayed for judgment, had, in common with his own countrymen, to combat the evils, which arose from the answer of his own prayer.
“And the word of the Lord came unto Elijah, saying, get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is beyond Jordan, and it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.”
In obedience to these orders, the prophet went and dwelt by the brook, which was one of the tributary streams of Jordan. And the ravens, that live upon prey, contrary to the laws of their nature, brought the lonely saint bread and flesh in the morning, and the same at evening, which, with the water of the brook, formed the sustenance of Elijah.
But in process of time, the brook dried up, and the ravens neglected their charge, which reduced the prophet to perfect want, without the least human appearance of relief: but “the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zerephath, which belongs to Zidon, and dwell there: be. hold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.” I do not send thee to king Ahab, nor any of the princes of Israel, for they are idolaters, and seek thy life: nor do I send thee unto the rich, who have wealth, but no hearts to communicate: I send thee not to any man or woman of Israel, for they are so self-conceited of their own advantages, and their preeminent virtue, above other nations, that they neglect all humane and benevolent actions: but to a widow woman of Zidon I send thee.
In compliance with those instructions, Elijah arose and came to Zerephath; and when he came to the gate of the city, behold! the widow woman was there, gathering sticks for oven wood, and he called to her, and said, fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. The woman (who had not been civilized to barbarity, nor gospelized to covetousness,) very courteously went to bring him the water for which he prayed: but as she was going, he called to her again, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.
The Lord had given commandment to the woman to sustain Elijah, but had not given him any legal orders on the woman; hence he prayed, both for water and bread. Water had not yet grown scarce in Zidon; with this request the woman could easily comply, but when a morsel of Bread was called for, it touched the tender feelings of her heart. “And she said, as the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruise, and behold I am gathering two sticks that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.”
The Zidonian woman swore by Elijah’s God, that her case was extremely pitiable and indigent, and we have every reason to believe her narrative was true. She had no prospect of any future supply, but expected that after herself and son had eaten one little cake more, they must both of them die.
And Elijah said unto her, “fear not; go and do as thou hast said, but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring unto me; and after make for thee and thy son.” How radically different is the doctrine of the text, from the conduct of most of the ancients and moderns! “Let me first get wealth, and then I will be liberal – first lay up enough for myself and my children, and then I will communicate to the servants of the Lord,” is the practical language of men and women in general; but the injunction of the text is, “Give the prophet of the Lord a little cake first, and then prepare for thy family.” This precept perfectly coincides with the instructions which Solomon has given us: “honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase.”
Some suppose the prophets of the Lord will perish, unless legal provision is made for them: this provision, however, was not made for Elijah.
Others imagine that when men are called to the holy and public service of the Lord, that the Almighty will support them by miracles. This is sometimes the case: by ravens, this same Elijah had lately been fed; but in the instance before us, the miracle was not wrought so much for the prophet, who received, as it was for the woman, who gave.
A certain class of men have strong faith, that God will provide for the laborers in the vineyard, and their good faith is all they have, for they never communicate; but in the case before us, the woman did not speak the language that many do in these days: “Never fear, Elijah, your God will feed and preserve you; for my own part, I should never be afraid to trust him: I have but a little, and that I need for myself and my son: no doubt but others will give you, and you will do well enough.” No, her languages her conduct was different. She reasoned thus: “I have a little meal and oil, and but a little; the Lord who gave me this little store, has a right to it. He now commands me to give a little out of my little, and I must obey: otherwise I should be worse than the ravens, who checked their own appetites, to bring bread and flesh to the prophet. Obedience is my work; events belong to God, who can make all grace abound. The Lord has not only commanded me to give a little cake first unto the prophet, but has also promised that my store shall not be exhausted. I will, therefore, trust his promise and obey his command. If my son should ever reproach me, for giving that to the prophet which was his patrimonial or matrimonial right, I will read him a lecture, of what befel old Eli for honoring his sons more than his God, and what judgments likewise fell on his sons.”
The widow, therefore, obeyed – made the cake first for the prophet and carried it to him – invited him into her house, and entertained him all the time of the drought, and the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruise of oil fail, according to the word of God, which he spake by Elijah.
In process of time, the son of the woman sickened and died. All the human prospect of succor in old age, was now taken away. How pitiable her state! yet she did not murmur, but acquiesced like a saint. She said art the prophet, “O, thou man of God! art thou come hither to call my sin to remembrance and to slay my son?”
It is supposable, but not certain, that this was an illegitimate son, and Slat shiv the Lord punished her for her former sin lay the death of her son, as in the case of David and Bathsheba. In either case, the woman viewed This stroke as a just punishment for her sins. Elijah was also extremely afflicted, that the woman who had been so hospitable to him, should be thus deprived of her only son. He, therefore, mourned and prayed to his God, until the soul of the child returned to its clay. The woman was now greatly comforted and confirmed in the word of the Lord, which was spoken by Elijah.
Here we see that the woman was supplied through a long famine, and had her son raised from the dead, because she gave the servant of the Lord a little cake first. Let others learn to do likewise. And let all the servants of the Lord learn from Elijah, to be not greedy of filthy lucre, but content themselves with a little cake.
How various are the opinions of men respecting the mode of supporting gospel ministers.
A thinks that preachers of the gospel should be qualified, inducted and supported, in a mode to be proscribed by the statute laws.
B is of opinion that-a preacher is not entitled to any compensation for his services, unless he is poor and shiftless, and cannot live without the alms of the people.
C says, that it takes him as long to go to meeting, and hear the preacher, as it does for the preacher to go and preach, and their obligations are there fore reciprocal.
D believes a rich preacher is as much entitled to a reward for his labor as if he was poor.
E believes that a preacher should give the whole of his time to reading, meditating, preaching, praying and visiting, and therefore he ought to be liberally supported; not in the light of alms, but in that of a gospel debt.
F joins with E, with this provision that the liberal support be averaged on all the members of the church, according to property and privilege.
G also agrees with E, provided the liberal support be raised by a free, public contribution, without any knowledge or examination what each individual does.
H chooses to tax himself, and constable his own money to his preacher, without consulting any other.
I loves the preachers, and pays them with blessings. but the sound of money, drives all good feelings from his heart.
When J hears a man preach that he does not believe is sent of God, he feels under no obligation to give him anything; and when he hears a preacher, that gives him evidence, that he is in the service of the Lord, and devoted to the work, he forms the conclusion, that the Lord pays the preacher well for his work as he goes along.
K likes preachers very well, but preaching rather better; he feels, therefore, best pleased, when the preacher falls coming, and a gap opens for himself; for he had rather work his passage, and take his turn at the helm, than pay a pilot.
L argues like a man, that the preacher ought to receive something handsome for his services, and laments that himself is in debt, and cannot communicate any thing, without defrauding his creditors: at the same time, he takes special care to keep always in debt for cheap farms, wild land, or some other articles of an increasing nature.
M is a man of a thousand. He argues that the mode of supporting ministers is left blank in the New Testament; because no one mode would be economical in all places; but that the deed itself is enjoined on all who are taught by an ordinance of heaven. If, therefore, a contribution is recommended, M will be foremost to the box. When a subscription is judged most advisable, his name will be first on the list. If averaging is considered most equitable, he will add a little to his bill, lest others should fail. And if no mode at all is agreed upon, still M, as an individual, will contribute by himself; for he reasons, that if others are remiss, it is neither precedent nor excuse for him. He does not give to be seen of men, but because his heart is in it; and these gospel debts (as he calls them) he pays with as much devotion, as he spreads his hands in prayer to God. The creed of his faith, which seems to be written on his heart, is " That, although all the money in the world cannot purchase pardon of sin, or the smiles of a reconciled God; yet religion always has cost money or worth, from Abel’s lamb to the present day. And that the man who will not part with a little money, for the sake of him who parted with his blood for sinners, is a wicked disciple."
N approves of the faith and profession of M, in every particular, but reduces nothing of it to practice.
O, like his make, believes nothing, does nothing, and is as near nothing as anything can be.
The Bible contains 66 books – 1,189 chapters – 31,114 verses. The name Lord is found 6,062 times in the Old Testament. The name God, 2,725 times. The name Jesus occurs 925 times, in the New Testament, and the name Christ, 555 times. The word Selah, is found 74 times in the Bible. The word Eternity, in only one place.
There are in the Old Testament, 607,207 words: in the New Testament, 179,476; which numbers, added together, make 786,683. In this enumeration, the titles of books and contents of chapters are excluded.
The head-pieces, however, prefixed to 115 of the Psalms, and the 22 words in the 119th Psalm, are included. The number was found out, by counting one by one, pointing every 100, and then adding up: which countings employed me 130 hours, and yet, after all the pains and care takes, some mistakes may have been made; but it is believed but small.
The Bible seems to be self-divided into six parts, viz:
The middle chapter in the Bible, is the 117th Psalm. The middle of the verses, is between the 102d and 103d Psalms. The middle word is in the 60th Psalm, the 4th verse: “To them that fear thee.”
The double asseveration, verily, verily, is found twenty-five times in John’s gospel, and no where else. The words, Lord, God, are not found in Esther, nor Solomon’s song; so, likewise, the names, Jesus, Christ, are not in the 3d epistle of John. The word baptism, with its relatives, is found one hundred times in the New Testament.
The Bible was more than sixteen hundred years in writing. It contains a history of the world’s whole age; partly in narrative, and partly in prophecy; yea, more, it assures us of some things which took place before the mountains were made, or the hills brought forth: it also reveals unto us many things that will take place after the world, and all its works are burnt up; and yet the whole reef it can be read over in sixty hours It is written in a style that no man on earth can imitate; which will forever keep it from being incorporated with human composition.
The Bible is in its parts, historical, poetical, allegorical, prophetic, recaptive, and promissory. It claim the merit of being a revelation from God unto man. 0f revelation, there are two kinds; oral, and written.
Oral revelation was first. In this, God revealed his will unto men; but as letters were not in use, men had no way of preserving those revelations, but by their memories; these records were so treacherous, that the revelations were greatly mutilated and perverted. It is from this source, however, that those nations, who are destitute of written revelation, got their belief of the future existence of departed souls; for I can see nothing in all the pages of nature, that proves that men have immortal souls, but what equally proves the same of beasts.
Whether the use of letters was taught at once, or whether the science was gradual, the result is equally amazing; that with twenty-two letters, all the thoughts of the human heart can be expressed. After letters came in use, the Almighty directed the hands of men to write down those revelations of his will, which he made known unto them; and such writings are called written revelations. These writings, collected together in one book, form the Bible, or Holy Scriptures.
About sixty years past, a very considerable revival of religion took place, on the east end of Long-Island. and some of the Indians of that place were made partakers of the grace of life. Several years afterwards, one of the natives gave the following account of himself, in his own way of speaking:
“When me first converted, me was a poor, vile, black Indian; but me love all the Christians, and all the ministers like my own soul. Afterwards me grow, grow, grow, but me no love Christians. Then me grow, grow, grow very big; then me no love ministers. But one day as I was in the swamp after broomsticks, I heard a voice saying, Indian, how comes it to pass, that you no love Christians and ministers? Me answer, because I know more than all of them. The voice say unto me again, Indian, you have lost your humble. Can this I began to look, and behold! my humble was gone. I then go back, back, back, but I no find my humble. Me then go back, back, back a great way, and then me find my humble; and when me find my humble, I was poor, vile, black Indian again. Then me love all the Christians and all the ministers, just as I love my own soul.”
This simple narrative of the native, reminds me of the sayings of some of those illustrious worthies, whose names and characters shine with dazzling refulgence in the sacred volume.
Job was a perfect and upright man, who excelled all men on earth in his day; yet he experienced a great sight of affliction. In defending him;elf against the illiberal charges Or his three friends, he lost sight of his wretchedness before God. But, when the Almighty summoned his attention to behold the marvellous works of the Creator, and drew his mind near the immaculate throne of divine glory, he cried out: “behold! I am vile – I abhor myself, repenting in dust and ashes.”
When Isaiah, the sublime prophet, saw the Lord on a throne of glory, and the heavenly host adoring before him, from a deep sense of his own pollution, the pensive confession flowed from his lips: “wo is me, for I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips.”
The knowledge which St. Paul had in the mysteries of God, was exquisite – his labors in the ministry were abundant – his sufferings, for Christ’s sake, above measure – his tour to the third heavens, very friendly for the health of his soul – and yet, long after this, we hear him lamenting in piteous groans, “O, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I yet find a law in my members, bringing me into captivity, to the law of sin.”
How very different these confessions are, from the protestation of some in these days, who affirm that they live in such obedience to the laws of God, and walk so fully in the,divine light, that they have attained to the state of sinless perfection.
THE high claims of Jemima Wilkinson (that Christ has descended the second time, and dwells in her,) are generally known. Her place of residence is in the town of Jerusalem, Ontario county, and state of New York.
A few years past, a religious Indian paid her a visit, with intention to find out wherein her great strength lay. After discoursing with her some time, in English, he changed his dialect, and spake in his own mother tongue; to which Jemima replied, in her plain manner of speaking, “thee must not speak to me in Indian language, for I do not understand it.” “Ah!” said the Indian, “then I know you are not my Saviour; for my blessed Jesus understands poor Indians.” How significant the words, and how marvellous the idea of the Indian!
More than a thousand different dialects now exist, among the various nations of the earth, which bear so little affinity to each other, that the people who speak one of them understand little or nothing of another. Supposing a thousand congregations, belonging to a thousand distinct nations, should assemble in some spacious plain, and the whole number of individuals, in each congregation, should lift up their voices in prayer and praise to God; is it probable that Jesus would understand them all? Like the Indian, I believe he would. Should any individual, in the vast assembly, hear all the voices, what a din of confusion would assail his ears; but all would be order and significance with the dear Redeemer. If this conclusion is just, it is presumptive evidence that Jesus Christ is omniscient God. If it should be objected, however, that it is possible for Omnipotence to make a creature of such extensive faculties, that he can understand all that is said by all, it will not hastily be denied.
But, supposing the public worship of this great assembly should close, would Jesus then know the temper of each heart? Can an inarticulate prayer of the heart rise to God, through the mediation of Christ, and at the same time the Mediator know nothing of it? It cannot be admitted. He must then know the hearts of men.
When he was on earth he perceived the thoughts of the people, and knew what was in man. If we consider Solomon’s address to Israel’s God, “Thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of men,” it will be substantiated that Jesus, who knew the thoughts and hearts of men, is Israel’s Lord and Saviour; for it is not possible for Omnipotence to make a creature of co-omniscience with himself.
IN the year 1788, a term of great religious awakening in Virginia, a negro man, by the name of Peter, belonging to a Mr. Steward, of Culpepper county, came forward to declare the dealings of God with his soul, in order for baptism. As he had been imported from Africa, his language was very broken; but he gave a satisfactory account of himself, and appeared to be in the then present enjoyment of precious faith. Soon as he had finished his detail, he boldly broke out in whistling. The minister, who presided, asked him what he meant by whistling? To which Peter made answer, “let those sing the praises of Jesus who can; I cannot sing, but I can whistle for my blessed Jesus.”
Notwithstanding whistling is supposed to be the exercise of a thoughtless clown, yet, in the case of Peter, it naturally leads the mind to contemplate the various ways in which religious adoration is performed.
Prayer is made by crying, weeping, lifting up the eyes; groaning, sighing, panting, breathing, etc. Self-abasement is also expressed by veiling the face, rending the garments, kneeling and falling on the ground.
This again leads us to treat on falling religion, so common in these days. As I have lived among such exercises a considerable part of my life, I have formed a diffident opinion for myself.
Some take it for undeniable evidence, that a man is converted if he has fallen, by the slaying power of God, under the preaching of the word, singing or praying. Others seem as well convinced, that all such exercises are parts of hypocrisy.
When Paul and his company drew nigh to the gates of Damascus, a great light shone around them. If we examine the three accounts given of this vision, in the book of Acts, we shall find that they all saw the light, heard the voice, and fell to the earth; and yet there is no account that any of them received the grace of life but Paul alone. It is not absolutely certain, however, but what all of them received a heavenly blessing, though not recorded. But one thing is certain, viz., when the guard went to take Jesus, with Judas at their head, and heard the Saviour preach a sermon three words long – I AM HE – they went backward, and fell to the ground. That those who fell down at this time, received a gracious change, we have every reason to believe in the negative; for, as soon as they recovered strength to rise, with malevolent hands, and cruel bands, they bound the harmless Jesus, and led him away to the place of unhallowed judgment.
Making no strictures on those falling downs which are hypocritical, and others, which are evidently mechanical, performed on purpose to alarm and proselyte, it is rational to believe that men may be, and sometimes are, so much impressed with the majesty and truth of God, as to fall to the earth, and yet continue in their enmity to him. That this will be the case of all the wicked, at the last judgment, admits of very little doubt; and that it should be so, with some of them, in this life, will appear credible, when we consider the two systems in which God deals with the children of men.
These two systems, some call law and grace; others term them the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. I am in the habit of treating them as the system of moral government, which God exercises over all rational beings, and the scheme of grace, through a Mediator. That God first treated man as a moral subject – allowing him the freedom of his will to act – at the same time accountable for the right use or abuse of his will – bound, by a law of perfect order, to do all that was commanded, and believe all that was revealed, to me appears evident; otherwise, it was not possible for sin ever to have entered the human world. And that he still treats with men in the same system, is also as evident; for, without it, sin could not be repeated, nor guilt exist.
Perfect obedience to this law, secured from blame, but did not entitle the obedient subject to any advanced station; nor was there any means provided in this system to expiate guilt, or regain lost favor.
The works of creation are so evincive of the natural perfections of Deity, that heathen have no excuse for worshipping any other being. But the ward and worship of God, which reveal his moral character, and the influence of his spirit, are clothed with solemn majesty.
It is not, therefore, to be wondered at, that guilty men, (still holden in the moral system,) not only by beholding the works of God, but by hearing his word dispensed in the power of the spirit – that word, which reveals the wrath of God against the wicked, and the sinner’s doom; it is not, I say, a wonder, that they should tremble, smite their knees, and fall to the ground. Let it rather be wondered at, that any sinner can hear and remain unshaken. Were not men hardened in unbelief, through the deceitfulness of sin, they could not endure what is command. ed them; no, this terrible sight would overcome their physical powers.
Balaam and Saul were black characters, yet both of them fell before the Lord or his angel; particularly Balaam, was taught much – saw much – fell into a trance, having his eyes open – and was greatly restrained by God; when, at the same time, he was so abandoned, that he wished to curse a whole nation, to get the money in Balak’s coffers.
In the system of which I am now treating, the Almighty works abundance in men, by men, and for men; all which works are distinct in their natures from the work of grace in the heart; there is no gradation from one to the other, nor any lock-link that unites them together.
The scheme of grace, through a Mediator, was not formed on sin, nor on a foreknowledge that sin would arise, but on eternal love, by infinite wisdom, to be accomplished by Omnipotent power, in a way of divine favor. Sin was not the cause of this scheme, nor can sin prevent it. It was formed to secure those who are included in it, and raise them to a higher station than they were placed in at first. All spiritual and eternal blessings are included in it, which are communicated to men by the Holy Ghost. Children may receive this grace before they are born of their mothers, like John the Baptist, or in their infantile days, when their capacities are so small that they cannot discover it; yet it lives and reigns in them.
When this grace (which is called incorruptible seed – an unction from the Holy One – Water of Life, &c.) is given to those who are grown to years of reflection, it discovers unto them the holy, just and gracious character of God – the propriety and extent of the holy law – the evil nature of sin – the insufficiency of all legal and ritual works to justify – the justice of God in the damnation of sinners – and the sufficiency of the blood and righteousness of Christ to atone for sin and secure the soul.
And as these things are discovered to the subject, so also his heart and disposition are new formed to love God – delight in his laws – hate sin – renounce his own righteousness – love that justice which condemns sinners, and heartily embrace the salvation of God, through the blood and righteousness of Christ.
Where these discoveries and dispositions are found in the heart they denominate a man a true Christian. But void of that spirit, which produces these views and inclinations, all the fears, horrors, visions, raptures and falling-downs that a man can experience; yea, all that God does in him, by him, or for him, are no evidences that he is a subject of that precious faith which saves the soul.
Philo. My dear brother Jubal, I have come to pay you a Christian visit this afternoon, and if you are not pre-engaged, I hope to spend the time in profitable conversation.
Jubal. I am glad to see you, my brother Philo. Please to take a seat, be at perfect ease, and all your wants be on me. Now, my brother, as time is precious, and should be put to the best possible use, I wish to know, in the first place, whether you come to talk to me, with me, or to hear me talk?
P. Why is my brother Jubal so particular in the first essay of the conference?
J. Because, if you come to talk to me, I will place myself in the attitude of hearing, and patiently receive all your discourses. But if you come to talk with me, I shall expect half the time, without interruptions On the other hand, if you wish to hear me discourse, I will entertain you as well as I can.
P. I perceive you are for rule in all things; but can it be disorder to break in upon a speaker, if he speaks wrong, too long, inexplicit, or with barbarous words?
J. Should I break in upon a speaker before he closes his sentence, I should talk into his mouth and not into his ears, (to use a vulgarism,) and should also trespass against the good rule, “Ye may all speak one by one.” – If anything be revealed unto another, let the first hold his peace, before the other speaks. If a speaker has anything to say worth hearing, give attention until he has done: if he has nothing worth hearing, let him hold his tongue voluntarily. If a speaker speaks wrong, it may be a comparetively harmless error; if, however, it is a malignant error, I am not obliged to receive it. When a man speaks too long, it is painful to a nimbler mind; but not so painful, to a man of delicacy, as it would be to check him. If, moreover, his discourse is destitute of explicit ideas, or clothed with barbarous words, it is quite enough to have one fool in the play; it would be barbarous to expose him; and if I interrupt him, while he is speaking, my words will certainly be inexplicit to him. What can be more supercilious! what can show more vanity, than for me to help the speaker to better language, or stop him, to show how well I can explain his ideas?
P. I can assure you, my good friend, that I came here to converse to you, with you, and to hear you discourse: nor have I any objection to the rules of conversation, which you have given: but knowing a little what I am, I fear I shall act like a ferryman. who looks one watt and rows another; or like a professor, who believes like a Christian and lives like a pagan; or like a Christian who has given all up to God, and would give the world if he had it, for Christ’s sake; yet never gave a dollar to the poor, nor a cent of what he really has, to forward the gospel among men.
J. Well, my dear Philo, I am anxious to hear; please to proceed.
P. My tutor, with whom I studied divinity, adopted the maxim, to “explain every passage of scripture literally, if the phraseology would anywise admit of it; and riveted in my mind, that the preacher who would allegorize narratives, and spiritualize moral precepts, would thereby prove anything and everything, and at the sands time prove nothing to the purpose. With the maxim of my master before me, and his just observations sounding in my ears, I have read the Bible ever since I left him; but until the present time, I am unable to give a literal exposition on many pas sages in the Bible. In the ninth chapter of the Revelations, the four angels were loosed to destroy the third part of mans and raised an army of two hundred thousand thousand. The earth never contains, at one time, more than a thousand millions of living souls: not more than one-fifth of them are soldiers. The army here spoken of, contained two hundred millions, which includes every soldier on earth. Now, if all the soldiers on earth were in this one army; who formed the other army, which was destroyed, called the third part of men? Also, in the 14th chapter, when the earth was reaped, and the vine of the earth was cast into the great wine-press; blood came out, it seems, in every direction, the distance of two hundred miles, as high as the horse-bridles. The lowest part of the bridle is four feet from the ground. Now here. is a blood-pond, spoken of, four hundred miles in diameter, and four feet deep; Which would contain 235,615,018,905,600; more than two hundred and thirty-five billions of cubical inches. Men in general are said to possess twenty-five pints of blood; which is about seven hundred cubical inches: making no deduction for children, who have less blood than men; all the blood of all the living would amount to 700,000,000,000 of cubical inches. Of course, it would take all the human blood of more than three hundred and thirty-six such worlds as this, to form the blood-pond spoken of.
I now wish, secondly, to converse with your my dear Jubal: and to lead on thereto, I ask, what allowances are we to make for the phraseology of the Bible, and yet hold it divinely authentic?
J. It is not likely that the original copies, written by the prophets and apostles are now in existence: the most, therefore, that any can boast, is transcription: and we, from transcription, have a translation. Our Bible was translated in the days of Prince James; when the English language, was differently spoken from what it is now. Of course, many passages will not admit of a grammatical construction. Prepositions, moods, tenses and numbers are used in a barbarous manner (according to modern taste) and yet a clue will be found, which unveils the meaning to the sincere seeker, in all essential cases. It was not written at first, nor has it been so wonderfully preserved since, in transcriptions and translations to teach men the arts and sciences; but to instruct them ill the will of God, respecting their duty and the ground of their hope.
P. Will you give an instance, wherein you take the liberty of changing mood and tense.
J. I will. Take your Bible and look over Acts iii. 19, 20, 21, and I will repeat it, as I think it is to be understood.
“Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out; for the times of refreshing are come from the presence of the Lord; and he has sent Jesus Christ, who before was preached unto you, by the prophets: whom the heavens did receive until these times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets since the world begun.”
P. You have taken great liberty, indeed, in this passage; much greater than I should dare to do, lest I should be guilty of adding to and taking from the sacred book.
J. I grant it. The context, however, seems to invite it; and if the text itself will not admit of the transposition which I have given; still, this new versification conveys no corrupt idea.
P. Well, my brother, in the third place, I wish to hear you converse.
J. I have been frequently called upon to give an exposition of Matt. v. 25, and will now avail myself of the auspicious moment, and do it. The text referred to, reads; “Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison: verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” Some, by the adversary, understand God – others the justice of God, or the law of God; which they suppose the sinner is to agree with. Others, again, are of opinion that the Devil is the adversary intended: But all these opinions seem to be utterly groundless. Those who apply it to the church discipline bid much fairer to be in the right; were it not applied to magistracy, by St. Luke. “When thou art in the way to the magistrate," &c. Now, as church discipline has no affinity with magistracy, the sense given cannot be admitted. The text is introduced thus: When thou bringest thy gift to the altar. The Jews brought their lambs and other offerings to the altar; and Christians bring their prayers, praises and gifts of improvement into the church and offer them before God. And there rememberest that thy brother bath aught against thee. Either a natural brother, national brother, spiritual brother, or human brother. When thou comest before the Lord with thy gift, and rememberest, that thou hast given any man just cause of offence, which is actionable by law, leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. This offended brother is the adversary; and I tell you my disciples, if you have given offense, make it your first business to eject a reconciliation. If your offence calls for confession, restitution or other costs, pay all immediately before a prosecution begins. If you do not, the adversary may, at any time bring you before the Judge; and being found guilty be fore him, he will deliver you to an executive officer, who will inflict on you such punishment as the law directs; and if your crime is debt or trespass, you will be cast into prison; and when once you are imprisoned, all your repentance, faith and prayer will not deliver you; for I came not to destroy civil law, or save men from these legal penalties which they have incurred: Of course, they must remain in prison, until they have paid debt and costs. The doctrine of this text, in part, is exemplified in the case of the dying thief. Our Lord forgave his sin; promised him admission into Paradise; but did not deliver him from the penalty of the law, but let him hang on the cross until he had paid the last farthing, with his life.
In the year 1785, there lived in the city of Richmond, (Vir.) a free negro woman, who by her parsimony obtained money enough to purchase her husband, who was a slave. The woman being a member of the Baptist church, in that city, was complained of before the church, for allowing of lewd conduct in her house. She did not deny the truth of the charge, but excused herself thus, “Pray, how can I help it? My husband is the head, and does as he pleases; and I, who am his wife, cannot help it.” At the same meeting, another charge was brought against her, for whip. ping her husband; to which she replied, “I bought him with my own money – he is my legal property, and he shall mind me; otherwise I will whip him.”
* * * * * * *
Excuse – the doctrine of the fall,
From Adam first we hear;
The roots are found within us all,
No mortal man is clear.
When God commands him to appear,
And answer to his case –
Just nineteen words from him we hear,
Instead of saying yes.
* * * * * * *
Now Naaman, captain of the King of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable; because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valor; BUT he was a leper. Dr. Ashly is an accomplished divine, BUT he cannot admit of an equal. Rev. Mr. Benson is an excellent preacher; BUT his discourses are more declamatory than sentimental. IF he was as full of ideas as he is of words, he would shine like a star of the first magnitude. Elder C – , is a good preacher, BUT he is too often telling of what great things he has done. “I had three thousand hearers – I baptized forty in a day – I was moderator of the council,” &c. Elder D – , is a man of talents, BUT, like Caesar, he had rather be the first man in a village than the second man in Rome. IF he was not so much like Diotrephus; IF he was willing that other preach ers should have more praise and fame than himself, he would much more resemble the chief Shepherd. IF the writer of this number did not partake of a large share of the vices of these Rev. gentlemen, and but a small part of their virtues, he would be a better man than he is; BUT he is a chip of the old block – a degenerate plant of a strange vine – a bottle in the smoke.
* * * * * * *
The virtues of the low we tell,
With elevated strings;
But those we fear will us excel –
We strive to clip their wings.
Once there was a precious season,
When my Saviour smiled on me;
Ev’ry groan his grace did sweeten,
Ev’ry bond his love act free.
Patient, I could bear affliction,
Never murmur at the pain;
Just conception, resignation,
Cheerfully did me sustain.
Joyfully I heard his preaching,
Read his word with vast delight,
While his spirit, gently teaching,
Was my comfort day and night.
Sweet was Christian conversation,
Christ and grace was all my theme;
Oh! these days of consolation!
How delighted I have been!
Had I guarded every passion,
Watching daily unto prayer,
Of each sin made just confession,
I had never felt this snare;
Now my Saviour’s smiles are wanting,
Now my groans perpetual rise;
Ev’ry hope of joy is falling,
Now I vent my fruitless cries.
Just conception, resignation,
From my breast are far removed;
Now I murmur at affliction,
Doubting whether e’er I loved.
Oft I hear the gospel sounded,
Oft I rend my Saviour’s name;
Yet my heart, most deeply wounded,
Still remains unmov’d, the same.
Now I’ve fearful apprehension,
Whether Christ I ever knew;
Tho’ I made & great profession,
Yet ‘twas rather false than true.
Oh! that Jesus was my saviour!
This is all my soul’s desire!
A portion, Lord, within thy favor,
Tho’ I enter here thro’ fire!
COLONEL SAMUEL HARRISS, of Pittsylvania, Virginia, was converted, and called to preach, about the year 1758; on which he quitted all his honorary and lucrative offices, and applied himself to the work of an evangelist. A train of seriousness followed him; and, for a number of years, he was more blessed of God than any man in the southern states. His preaching was not much fraught with the wisdom of man, but so full of simplicity, zeal and the Holy Ghost, that judgment and eternity would seem to be present before himself and hearers. His heart was so full of burning love to the souls of men? that his domestic concerns fell into derangement, while he was seeking to pluck them as brands out of the fire. Finding, at length, the absolute need of providing more grain for his family than his plantation had produced, he went to a man (whose name I do not retain) who owed him a sum of money, and ad. dressed him thus:
Harriss. Sir, I should be very glad if you would let me have a little money.
Man. Mr. Harriss, I have no money by me, and, therefore, cannot oblige you.
H. I want the money to purchase wheat for my family; and, as you have raised a good crop of wheat, I will take that article of you, instead of money, at a current price.
M. I have another use for my wheat, and cannot let you have it.
N. What will you do?
M. I never intend to pay you until you sue me, and, therefore, you may begin your suit as soon as you please.
H. To himself, “good God, what shall I do? shall I leave preaching for a vexatious law-suit? Perhaps a thousand souls will perish in the time. I will not. Well, what will you do, Harriss? This I will do: I will sue the man at the court of heaven.”
Having resolved what to do, the colonel retired into the woods, and, falling on his knees before the Lord, opened his mouth to this effect: “Lord Jesus, thou hast redeemed my soul from hell and sin, and thou hast called me to preach faith and repentance to my fellow men; but, while I am doing it, my family is like to suffer. Blessed Jesus, a man owes me, and will not pay me unless I sue him. I am in a great strait – O, Lord, teach me what to do.”
In this address, the colonel had such nearness to God, that (to use his own words) Jesus said unto him: “Sam, I will enter bondsman for the man – you keep on preaching, and omit the law-suit – I will take care of you, and see that you have your pay.” Mr. Harris felt well satisfied with his security; but thought it would be unjust to hold the man a debtor, when Jesus had assumed payment. He, therefore, wrote a receipt in full of all accounts which he had against the man; and, dating it in the woods, where Jesus entered bail, he signed it with his own name. Going the next day by the man’s house to attend a meeting, he called a little negro to the gate, gave him the receipt, and bid him deliver it to his Master. On returning from meeting, the man hailed him, and said –
M. Mr. Harriss, what did you mean by the receipt which you sent me by the boy?
H. I mean just as I wrote.
M. You know, sir, I have never paid you.
N. Yes, sir, I know it. I know, moreover, that you said you never would, except I sued you. But, sir, I sued you at the court of heaven, and Jesus entered bail for you; and I thought it would be unjust to hold you in debt, when I had got so good security, and, therefore, I sent you that receipt.
M. I insist upon it, it shall not close in this manner.
H. I am well satisfied – Jesus will not fail me. Farewell.
A few days after this, the man loaded his wagon with wheat, and carried it to Mr. Harriss.
HAVING heard more than three hundred preachers exhibit in my life, and some of them a great number of times – without ill will or vanity, (for pray, who will own himself wrong?) I have noticed that the most brilliant, as well as the most obscure, have their hobby-horses – I mean words or sentences, which they use, in preaching, to great disadvantage. If these by words or sentences, were used only in rare instances, they would not only be appropriate, but harmonious; but when they are repeated again and again, without thought, and, indeed, in many instances, to supply the lack of ideas, no apology can be admitted, on the principle of ingenuity.
Mr. Y. was a good man, and felt the importance of the doctrine which he preached; on account of which, he contracted the habit of saying depend upon it; which sentence would not only be heard in a great part of the observations through his sermon, but would sometimes mingle in his prayer. The writer once saw him on his knees at prayer, at the close of a meeting, and heard the following words flow from his lips: “O. Lord! look down in mercy on these poor sinners, and convince them that if they are not converted, they must be damned, depend upon it.”
Mr. B. is a good divine, and an excellent preacher, but he has so much apostolical benevolence, that he not only introduces every section with, My dearly beloved brethren, but often uses the address in the middle of a sentence. He was once observed to use his favoritism more than two hundred times in one sermon.
In one section of the United States, a great part of the preachers were exceedingly fond of the note of similitude, as it were. The note frequently occurs in the New Testament. But among these preachers, the note was used so much in course, that it lost all comparison, and was made to substantiate facts. Without holiness, no flesh shall see the Lord, as it were.
But, among all the vulgarisms that find the way into the desks of learned and polite preachers, none appears more clownish than the old adage, I’ve often thought. When we meet a farmer in the road, we expect his first remarks will be on the weather, or, if we see a merchant, we calculate to hear the din, hard times and little money. But when we hear preach. era, who are in the habit of composition, telling us so often what they have thought, it naturally makes us wish that they would think a little better.
But surely, a man guilty of all of these errors, and seven times as many more, ought to be careful of casting stones, and withhold his criticisms, till he first caste the beam out of his own eye.
The little epistle to Philemon is fraught with good things. In composition, it exceeds all the efforts of the learned. Simplicity and benevolence are its characteristics The tragic scene, therein contained, is drawn with more than human pencil.
The cause of the epistle follows:
Philemon was the disciple of Paul, and owed himself to him as the instrument of his salvation. Philemon had a servant, Onesimus. This Onesimus, not liking his religious master, instead of paying him a debt which he owed, wronged him still more, by pilfering his property, and then running away. Making his way to Rome, where Paul was prisoner, he fell in with the apostle, at his own hired house, which stood within the limits of the prison, where Paul was preaching the gospel with all readiness, and receiving all that came unto him. Here the preaching of Paul arrested the conscience of Onesimus; and the prisoner Paul begat the fugitive servant, by the word of truth to a lively hope.
Onesimus, on this change of character, gave Paul a true account of his conduct towards his master; on which information, Paul wrote the epistle to Philemon, and sent it by Onesimus to his master, lo effect a reconciliation between them. So intent was Paul to gain his point, that he wrote a bond and signed it with his own hand, to make good to Philemon, what. ever injury he had sustained by Onesimus. His words are—
“For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him forever. Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more to thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord. If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. If he bath wronged thee or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account. I, Paul, have written it with mine own hand – I will repay it: albeit, I do not say unto thee, how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides. Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.”
When Onesimus returned to his master, by his own confession of his error and the letter of Paul, a reconciliation was soon effected between the returning servant and his pious master. Philemon frankly forgave him all that he owed; and in addition thereto sent him back to Paul with a liberal offering to supply the necessities of the prison. After which Onesimus tendered his services to Paul, to bear the epistle from Rome to the Colossians; and some say that he became a preacher of the gospel thereafter.
Query. If the great apostle Paul wrote and signed a bond, that he would pay an unknown sum to Philemon, can any man be scrupulous of signing a subscription to pay money for religious uses?
Of all the villains that haunt the world, not one of them is more mischievous than Old They. He is generally treated as a noun of multitude, followed by a single verb, (They say) which makes it exceedingly difficult to identify the vagrant. Whether he is an individual, bearing as many titles as a Spanish Don, or a monster, having as many heads as a Hydra, is hard to ascertain.
If a man wishes to spread a false report, to injure his ruler, priest or neighbor, he has nothing to do, but to add, They say so, and all passes currently.
If any, however, are incredulous, and back the evil report, after passing many hands, which gave the report publicity, and drawing the ideal residence of They, he then plays the game of a talisman before them, or dissolves himself in air.
Others, who have been often foiled in their pursuits after the fugitive, and yet are in the habit of believing that They has said so, instead of fixing the blame on the infamous taller, who is retailing the slander, conjecture a substitute for They, and ever afterwards consider the substitute as an enemy, Whelan at the same titled the poor suspected man, knows not for what. If it will not be considered too dictatorial, I will here suggest a Salutary expedient.
When a man begins to retail the libellous reports of others, or vend his own choleric manufacture, on the credit of, They say so, if he will not identify his author, hold the man responsible for all he says, and let Old They shift for himself.
Levi, the son of Melchi, married a woman and begat Matthat. He then died, and Eleazar married the same woman and begat Matthan.
Matthat married a woman, who bare him Heli; then dying, Matthan married the widow and begat Jacob.
Heli married a wife, but dying childless, Jacob married the same woman, and begat Joseph (the husband of Mary) who succeeded to Heli; according to Deut. 25, 5, 6. Agreeable, therefore, to St. Matthew’s account, Eleazar begat Matthan, and Matthan begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Joseph. And according to St. Luke, Joseph was the (ceded) son of Heli, Eeli was the don of Matthat, and Matthat was the son of Levi.
Elder John Leland
Published in 1810
The Writings of the Late Elder John Leland
Pages 330 – 352