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the throne and presence of the Eternal for every sincere penitent. "Through him we have access by one spirit to the Father.”
Nor is this introduction to the state of salvation so exclusively of mercy and grace, as to require no concurrence on the part of man. He is not saved against his will, nor without his consent. He is not placed in this state of security without thought, inquiry, or solicitude. Mercy awakens him to behold his danger and his disgrace ; leads him by the hand to the cross, that he may there learn the way of escape from hell to heaven ; and then influences him to shed the tears of penitence, to lift the imploring eye to him who is able to save, and to lay hold, with firm and tenacious grasp, of that cross whence only his life and help can come. He believes in Jesus—he trusts in his merits, his power, and his grace, and finds relief, safety, and peace. “Ye are saved by grace, through faith ; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” “We have access by faith into this grace, wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
This faith is not a meritorious deed, but God's gift : it is an indispensable qualification for the state of grace, as well as a means of introduction into it: by its influence the privileges of that state are fully realized, and the suitable preparation for its coming and unending felicities is enjoyed.
It is not the least excellence of this state of grace, that it is permanent and unchanging. In it the believer “stands” firm and immovable. He who enjoys the high and ineffable honour of being saved by grace is saved for ever. “The Lord God is a sun and shield ; he will give grace and glory,”—grace the commencement and pledge of glory. The certainty of salvation results from its being of grace, and of grace only; if it were of works, it might be endangered—would always be doubtful. Supposed safety to-day would afford no security for tomorrow. Uncertainty, perplexity, fear, would constantly disturb the peace and happiness of the penitent. But whom God loves, he loves eternally: whom he converts, he converts for eternity. His “gifts and calling are without repentance.” “I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish.” “He that hath begun the good work will perform it, until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Although the doctrine of the perseverance of saints is true, and the fact, that the true convert never perishes is indisputable, yet there is sufficient reason for watchfulness, and prayer, and diligence, on the part of all who profess to believe in Jesus. The doctrine is true, but it may not be so certain that I am in a state of grace, or that I have been really converted to God. I am not infallible: I may be deceived : I may be deceiving myself. No revelation from heaven has assured me of my absolute safety. Hope animates me—“the full assurance of hope" sustains me amidst the depressing influences of the world, and of sin, but still, like the apostle, I have need “to keep my body in
subjection,” and my soul with care, “lest after all I should be a castaway.” The only evidence of grace which can afford me satisfaction, is the continuous exercise of faith, the humble, earnest desire after holiness and peace, the constant endeavour to honour and glorify Him from whom all my salvation comes.
Possessing and constantly exhibiting this evidence, I may safely “ rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” No doubt need then becloud my mind, no fear alarm my soul. I máy then aclopt the language of the apostle, and exclaim, “I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day.” I may feel assured that no temptation shall be successful; that no enemy “shall triumph over me." Upheld by divine grace, “my footsteps shall not slide :" with steady pace and courageous heart I may even advance to the conflict with death, confident that, though I shall fall in “mortal combat," my spirit shall rise to the full enjoyment of that glory of which the grace bestowed was at once the earnest, the foretaste, and the blessed preparative. “Grace” shall indeed “reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
THE ANTI-SLAVERY QUESTION AT BRISTOL.
TO THE EDITOR. MY DEAR SIR, I observe in your last number, that my name has been connected with a discussion on the important subject of Slavery, at a meeting of the Congregational Union, held at Bristol.* In my constrained absence, I am grateful to my brethren for assuming that the power of vindication was in my hand : I am only surprised, that it. should be thought necessary to use it. However, it is expected, it would appear, and I supply it; although it is painful to deal with a great question only in a personal relation.
The first resolutions, condemnatory of Slavery, as a sin, passed at the board of Congregational ministers, were drawn up and proposed by myself, and supported by Dr. Halley, at a time when there was far less light and conviction than now on the subject. When our Missionary Society was exposed to convulsion on this question, I felt it to be my duty to bear a decided part in the discussion; and it is not too much to say, that it involved some moral courage, and a great sacrifice of personal feeling. From my known sentiments on this, as well as other subjects, I was urged to be one of a deputation to America. I went, but without instructions or pledges of any kind. So soon as I arrived, I accepted an invitation to the meeting of the Anti-slavery Society, and was prevented from being present only by illness. I was eager to offer compensation for this; and, I think, within three days, at the largest
* Vide Cong. Mag. Dec. 1840, pp. 886-890.
meeting held at that period in New York—the Missionary Society, I denounced slavery as a sin and a curse ; and appealed to the multitade present to follow in the course on which British Christians had been too slow to enter. I travelled across the slave states, (what I believe no other deputy or agent has done,) for the purpose of acquainting myself with the question. Every where, I sought to raise occasions for discussing it; and never did I plead for less than its utter condemnation. I arrived at Cincinnati when the question was critical. I took a decided part in it; and left with the hope that I had succeeded in preventing measures which I foresaw would break up the college. I hastened to Boston, chiefly for the purpose of meeting some select friends, at the head of whom was J. Tappan, esq., on the question ; and these conferences led to the formation of an Anti-slavery Society, which, I believe, was the first that had existence in that city. On returning home, I first made a verbal report to my brethren, and afterwards placed my opinions distinctly on record in two chapters devoted to that subject, to which I may still refer, and which, I think, gave full satisfaction.* The Union, at its next annual sitting, passed an unanimous vote of thanks to the deputation for the manner in which they had fulfilled their commission. And now that I am called to review the past, of nothing am I more conscious, than that if every other object had failed, the service rendered to this vital question was a sufficient return for our trouble and sacrifice. Can it be, that nearly seven years afterwards, in the same Union, a vindication is thought necessary ? Still, I will candidly admit that I am not the advocate of all the measures which the Anti-Slavery Societies have adopted, in seeking the utter annihilation of slavery. I have lamented, and do now lament, over some of them, as, in my best judgment, unfavourable to the object proposed. I think, for instance, it is a great mistake to have two societies in this country, as it fosters jealousies, perplexes the common mind, and prevents that consolidation of power, which would be felt by the government of this and of other countries. I question, if there was to be a convention, the propriety of lady-delegates being deputed, with a claim to speak and vote. I think it alike unwise to refuse to consider the questions of compensation and of time; and to insist on the question of amalgamation. I demur to the course of denouncing all slave-owners as “ thieves, blood-hounds, infidels, and traitors," as not very likely to expedite their conversion, and not quite Christian. I condemn the assertion, which lately has been so often repeated over the length and breadth of the land, that no man who holds a slave can be a Christian, as monstrous and false. I know I should unchristianize better men than myself if I adopted it. I object to the policy and the right of making the slave question a test and term of christian communion. If a slave-pledge is to be adopted, why not a peace-pledge, and
* Vide Narrative of a visit to the American Churches, vol. ii. Letters 41, 42.EDITOR
a temperance-pledge, and a host of other "pledges. This is not the apostolic method. I disown and denounce all terms of communion but the one term of our salvation-faith in Christ. These, and similar extravagancies, I am satisfied, have obstructed our course in pursuing the one object which we are so anxious to secure. I speak advisedly when I say, that there is good reason to conclude, that two, if not three, slave states in America, would by this time have become free, if the measures adopted had been as well chosen as they were certainly wellintentioned. This would have given a majority to the free states in congress ; and that alone would have operated mightily on the question.
If it is alleged, that when so many exceptions exist, they must generate some degree of lukewarmness to the object, my conscience gives a decided negative to that allegation. I should, indeed, rejoice to see the machinery for effecting so great and difficult a work, approach as near to perfection as may be ; but I would zealously work, to the best of my power, with such as exists, till we can obtain better. The cause, in my judgment, is too sacred, too urgent, too mighty, to allow of fastidiousness or delay. If my heart has long bled for the condition of the slave, it bleeds more freely now that all the horrors of slavery are increased after the labours and prayers of half a century! If there is any service in which I could freely offer up life itself, it is in that service which professes to find its consummation and reward in the rupture of the last fetter of the last slave; that all men may be alike free, and for ever free! Hackney, Dec. 10, 1840.
REV. J. J. FREEMAN ON THE PERSECUTION IN
MADAGASCAR. MR. EDITOR, I have some fear that the note which you have attached to the review of “ Narrative of Persecutions in Madagascar,” in the last number of the Congregational Magazine, may produce an erroneous impression on the minds of your readers. You intimate that Mr. Johns' benevolent efforts to rescue the suffering Christians have not been successful. This is certainly true with regard to those who have already suffered death. Mr. Johns did not sail from England till 4th of August, and the martyrdom occurred on the 9th of July.
But there are still many Christians left in the island ; and on behalf of whom I trust Mr. Johns' exertions will be successful. He is being urged, and will be urged, by letters, to redouble his efforts, if possible. Some may be saved, before they also become victims to the ferocity of the government.
I am anxious to have all this distinctly understood, lest friends who have contributed should think they have aided the object in vain ; or lest others should be deterred from rendering assistance. My conviction is, that the larger the number of Christians the queen destroys, the more prompt should we be in seeking to rescue the rest, though it may involve a large cost.
Dear Sir, yours most truly, Walthamstow, Dec. 18, 1840.
Justification as revealed in Scripture, in opposition to the Council of
Trent, and Mr. Newman's Lectures by James Bennett, D.D. London, Hamilton, Adams, and Co. 1840, pp. 418.
The Primitive Doctrine of Justification investigated, relatively to the
sereral Definitions of the Church of Rome, and the Church of England; and with a special reference to the opinions of the late Mr. Knox, as published in his Remains, by George Stanley Faber, B.D., Master of Sherburn Hospital, and Prebendary of Salisbury. Second Edition, with an Appendix, containing, among other matters, a notice of Mr. Newman's Lectures on Justification. London, Seeley and Burnside. 1839. pp. 514.
We have often wished that, as Congregationalists, we could form some society or institution, or do something for opposing popery, without infringing on the religious liberty of papists. We know nothing that would promote our views more effectively than that our Congregational pastors would make the subject of justification by faith to be more frequently the theme of their pulpit ministrations. We are almost prepared to hail any circumstance that would bring about an event so desirable. By this means, Paul destroyed the law of ceremonies, as a ground of acceptance with God; Luther sheared popery of its greatest strength; and President Edwards produced, in America, one of the most pleasing revivals of religion since the day of Pentecost.
We have invariably defended the right of the Roman Christians to think for themselves, and to worship God according to their own consciences. In doing so, we felt calmly conscious that we were acting out our own noble principles, were performing a righteous and an honourable duty, and were doing to others as we would wish others to do unto us. By such a conduct, we thought we were imitating the method which the Lord of conscience himself observes towards papists; namely, condemning unequivocally their doctrine, but neither fining, nor imprisoning, much less burning, its adherents. We are aware, that by our firmly and perseveringly promoting the religious liberty of all religious thinkers, and therefore of popish thinkers, we have appeared in the eyes of some Christians of the English church, and also of some continental divines, to be occupying a very unfavourable position, as if we were really, and at heart, abettors of popery. On this subject, however, we are not afraid of speaking out, and to assure all our readers, that in our coolest judgment all popery is a grievous and wicked error : that doctrinal popery is a mass of heresies, that