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I trust you labour for God and fouls, not for praise and felf. When the latter are our aim, God, in mer. cy, blesses us with barrenness, that we may give up Barrabas, and release the humble Jesus, whom we crucify afresh by setting the thief on the throne, and the Lord of glory at our footstool : for fo do those who preach Christ out of contention, or that they inay have the praise of men. That God may bless you and your labours, is the prayer of your old brother, I. F.
Madeley, July 19th, 1785. James Ireland, Esq.
My dear friend,
BLESSED be God we are still alive, and, in the midst of many infirmities, we enjoy a degree of health fpiritual and bodily. O how good was the Lord, to come as Son of Man to live here for us, and to come in his Spirit to live in us for ever! This is a mystery of godlinefs : the Lord make us full witnesses of it!
A week ago, I was tried to the quick by a fever with which my dear wife was afflicted : two perfons whom she had visited having been carried off, within a pistol lot of our house, I dreaded her being the third. But the Lord hath heard prayer and the is fpared. Oh what is life! On what a flender thread hang everlasting things! My comfort however is, that this thread is as strong as the will of God, and the word of his grace which cannot be broken. That grace and peace, love and thankful joy may ever at. tend you, is the will of your most obliged friends, I. and M. F.
SON OF GOD.
I am not mad, most noble Festus ; but speak the
words of truth and soberness. Acts xxvi. 25. Wisdom is justified of her children. Matt. xi. 19.
WHEN I had the pleasure of feeing you last, you seemed surprised to hear me say, that the Son of God, for purposes worthy of his wisdom, manifests himself, sooner or later, to all bis sincere followers, in a spiritual manner, which the world knows not of. The affertion appeared to you unfcriptural, enthufi. astical, and dangerous. What I then advanced to prove, that it was fcriptural, rational, and of the greateft importance, made you defire I would write to you on the myfterious subject. I declined it, as being unequal to the task ; but having since considered, that a miltake here may endanger your foul or mine, I sit down - to comply with your request : And the end I propose by it is, either to give you a fair opportunity of pointing out my error, if I am wrong; or to engage you, if I am right, to seek what I esteem the most invaluable of all blessings, revelations of Christ to your own soul, productive of the experimental knowledge of him, and the present enjoyment of his falvation.
As an architect cannot build a palace, unless he is · allowed a proper spot to erect it upon, fo I fhall not be able to establish the do&trine I maintain, unless you allow me the existence of the proper fenfes, to which our Lord manifests himself. The manifestation I contend for, being of a spiritual nature, must be made to fpiritual senses ; and that such senses exist, and are opened in, and exercised by regenerate fouls, is what I design to prove in this letter, by the joint teftimony of scripture, our church, and realon.
I. The scriptures inform us, that Adam loft the experimental knowledge of God by the fall. His fool. ilh attempt to hide himself from his Creator, whose eyes are in every place, evidences the total blindnefs of his understanding. The same veil of unbelief, which hid God from his mind, was drawn over his heart and all his fpiritual senses. He died the death, the moral, fpiritual death, in consequence of which the corruptible body links into the grave, and the unregenerate foul into hell.
In this deplorable flate Adam begat his children. · We, like him are not only void of the life of God, but alienated froin it, through the ignorance that is in us. Hence it is, that though we are poffefsed of such an animal and rational life, as he retained after the commiffion of his fin, yet we are, by nature, utter strangers to the holiness and bliss he enjoyed in a state of innocence. Though we have, in common with beasts, bodily organs of light, hearing, tafting, smell. ing, and feeling, adapted to outward objects ; though we enjoy, in common with devils, the faculty of reasoning upon natural truths, and mathematical propositions, yet we do not understand supernatural and divive things. Notwithstanding all our speculations about them, we can neither see nor taste them truly, unless we are rifen with Christ, and taught of God. We may, indeed, speak and write about them, as the blind may speak of colours, and the deaf dispute of founds, but it is all guess-work, hear-fay, and mere conjecture. The things of the Spirit of God cannot be discovered, but by fpiritual, internal senses, which are, with regard to the spiritual world, what our bodily, external senses are with regard to the material world. They are the only mediuin, by which an in. tercourse between Christ and our souls can be opened and inaintained.'
The exercise of these fenfes is peculiar to those who are born of God. They belong to what the Apostles call the new man, the inward man, the new crea. ture, the hidden man of the heart. In believers, this. hidden man is awakened and raised from the dead, by the power of Christ's refurrection. Christ is his life, the Spirit of God is his fpirit, prayer or praise his