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If you want to recommend religion to those you converse with, and, in many instances, to pluck up offence by the root, let your heart lie where Mary's body did. Keep close to Jesus, be attentive to his still, small voice, and he will fill you with humble love, and such love will teach you, without any rule, as by the instinct of your new nature, to become all things to all men.
You ask what the apostle meant by that expression : it is certain he did not mean to overset his own pre. cept, Be not conformed to the world. I apprehend, that in every case wherein we might promote the fpi. ritual or temporal gocd of any one, by doing or fof. fering things of an indifferent nature, or even painful and disagreeable to us, we ought to be ready to be. come all things to all : provided the good we propose is superior to the inconveniences to which we submit. Here also we stand in need of humble love, and meek wisdom, that we may so weigh circumstances, as to form a right judgment in all things.
I am glad the Lord strips you: I wifh self may vever clothe you again. Beware of stiff singularity in things barely indifferent : it is felf in disguise ; and it is so much the more dangerous, as it comes recominended by a serious, felf-denying, religious appearance.
I hope the short comings of some about you will 'not prevent your eying the prize of a glorious colle formity to our blessed Head. It is to be feared, that not a few of those, who talk of having attained it have mistaken the way; they are still fomething, and I apprehend an important step towards that conformity, is to become nothing ; or rather to be, with St. Paul, to become in our own eyes the chief of finners, and the least of faints.
Mr. Harris seems to be one among ten thousand ; he has left a particular blessing behind him in this place _The God of peace give us all the blessings that the Messenger and the Mediator of the New Covenant brought with him, at this time, into the world ! May we fo receive him, that, by a blessed exchange, as he
is clad with our flesh, so we may put on him, and be covered with his righteoufness and filled with his Spirit! Salate the church in your house from your fervant, in the gospel, 1. F.
Madeley, Jan. 31st, 1765.
To Miss Hatton.
.. « YOU strive, pray, refift, but are little the bete ter;" yet pray, strive, and relift on. It is good to be tried, and to get a blessing in the very fire : we shall then know how to value it properly. But let me be free with you, Madam; do you pray, refift, and strive' against wanderings with any steadiness, and do you do it in cheerful hope to overcome through the blood of the Lamb ? When you have been unhinged from Christ, in mind or heart, do you with stronger indignation against wanderings, a calier expectation of the aslistance of the Spirit and a deeper agony of faith, seek to be avenged of your adversary? Do you imia, tate the importunate widow? If this be the case, you will not coinplain long; for whatsoever we thus alk in the name of Christ, we shall surely receive : And Mould the Lord for reasons best known to himself, try your faith and hope ; yet that longer trial will be found to praise and honour, in the end. Only faint not; and when you find yourself inclined to do fo, in all haste fly to the cordial of the promises, and determine to take nothing else, till your heart is revived and made strong again.
The faine power of God, througlı praying faith, is necessary to keep you from reasoning unprofitably. Whenever this arises to any height, there is one thing wanting, a steadily exerted will, never thus to reason. We cannot be fo easily betrayed, or file away into this snare of the devil so easily as into the other. I apprehend, that whosoever abides steadily purposed not to reason, shall not do it. The will starts aside first
the resolution of course followeth, and the tempter easily takes their place. Get willing, truly willing ung : der the cross, and keep there to keep your will, or you will beat the air,
Last Sunday I preached two sermons upon Heb. ll. and 1. I see so much in that faith of the apostle, that I can hardly pray for any thing besides that evi. dence of things not seen, that substance of things hoped for. To how many mistakes and fatal errors have we opened the door by varying from the apostle, and pretending to be wiser than the Holy Ghos! The Lord fill you and ycurs with that faith! Farewell. 1. F.
Madeley, June 2d, 1765.
I THANK you for the letter of your correspondent. What he says about luminous joy, may sometimes be the case in some of God's dear children ; but I apprehend, that God's design in withholding from them those gracious influences, which work upon and melt the sensitive, affectionate part in the soul, is to put us more upon using the nobler powers, the understanding and the will. These are always more in the reach of a child of God, while the others greatly depend upon the texture of the animal frame ; and if they are not stirred in a natural way, the Spirit of God can alone, without our concurrerice in general, excite them. Do you believe, love, take up your cross, and run after Jelus. ,
You must let friends and foes talk about your dress, while you mind only Jesus, his word, and your own conscience. You talk of hearing me soon I dare never invite any one to hear me, though I am glad to see my friends : but now I can invite you with pleafure to come and hear a preacher, who, under God, will inake you amends for the trouble of a journey to Madeley. His name is M. ; le may po slibly
stay a Sunday or two more with me; but Jefus bas promised to be always with his poor followers : To his merciful hands I commend both you and your unworthy friend, 1. F.
Madeley, Aug. 8th, 1765.
MR. M and I have considered your ob. jections to our little confefion of faith : be pleased to take the following short answers.
1. We do not forget, that God works all good in all inen : this is clearly implied in our first article ; but we do not believe, that his working is generally irresistible, or that it supersedes our being workers together with him.
II. Can any one work out his salvation, by a faith productive of sanctification, and yet neglect good works? Impossible !
ill. Obdurate finners, if their day of grace is not over, have always power to believe some legal truths at least, and to renounce some abominations in consequence of that belief: if they reliit the Spirit here, what wonder that he does not proceed any farther? Convictiops of fin, as well as of rightcousness, are not always so strong as to carry all before them. As the dew falls more frequently on the earth than hard showers, so more gentle, less observable, and more gradual droppings of grace descend upon earthly hearts, inore frequently than driving storms of fear, or strong transports of love : their effects may be as gracious, though less forcible, and God hath all the glory of the one as well as of the other.. (IV. “ Can convinced finners under the found of the gospel believe with the heart, &c?” Through the power of God, always more or less present, they can believe with the heart those truths, which are suited to their wants, and properly proposed to them. If they cannot, wly does God call upon them to believe, and fend them word, they shall be damned if they do not ?* As to your query “ Does not God sometimes delay to confer the power to believe, for a trial of the grace of conviction ?" We answer, that we see no such thing in the new testainent, and that the affertion seems to be a piece - of human wisdom. Why were not the convictions of the harlot, of the 3000, the 5000, the jailer, and others, tried by a refusal of the gift of faith? If, therefore, persons truly convinced of fin, do not believe 'to tlie comfort of their fouls, we apprehend the reason to be, their being kept in the dark as to the gospel way of salvation, their confounding faith and its fruits, their disregarding the one ta. lent, and despising the little leaven, and the faitli which is small as a grain of mustard seed : in short, their rejecting an inward Christ, because he does not make his appearance, at first, as a mighty, glorious conqueror, but as a weak, naked, crying babe, who wants both milk and swaddling clothes for his prefent sustenance.
" It is granted, that convinced people Mould be 66 pressed to make an effort to believe, not doubting of " the Lord's concurrence with their attempt." Here, we apprehend, you grant us what we contend for ; it being absurd to make any attempt towards what is totally impossible. If such people ought to attempt to ' believe now, and not to doubt of the Lord's concurrence with their atteinpt, it follows, that either you press then not to doubt of a lie, or that the Lord now helps thein to believe, if they will accept his help in the manner and way it is offered.
We cannot conceive what ingredient more you would require to make faith, than on the one fide, the promise of God and the gracious help of his Spirit, and on the other, genuine conviction and an humble attempt to call ourselves on the fidelity, mercy, and power of the Lord.
Mark xvi, and 16.