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The momentary glories waste,
And where are you then? Does your soul disperse and dissolve into common air? Or does it share the fate of its former companion, and moulder into dust? Or does it remain conscious of its own existence, in some distant, unknown world? It is all unknown! A black, dreary, melancholy scene! Clouds and darkness rest upon it.
But the case is far otherwise with a Christian. To him life and immortality are brought to light. His eye pierces through the vale of the shadow of death, and sees into the glories of eternity. His view doth not terminate on that black line, "The verge 'twixt mortal and immortal being," but extends beyond the bounds of time and place, to the "house of God eternal in the heavens." Hence he is so far from looking upon death as an enemy, that he longs to feel his welcome embrace. He groans (but they are pleasing groans) to have mortality swallowed up of life.
Perhaps you will say, "But this is all a dream. He is only in a fool's paradise?" Supposing he be, it is a pleasing dream. Maneat mentis gratissimus error! If he is only in a fool's paradise, yet it is a paradise, while you are wandering in a wide, weary, barren world. Be it folly: his folly gives him that present happiness, which all your wisdom cannot find. So that he may now turn tables upon you and say,
"Whoe'er can ease by folly get,
The wretched, unenjoying wit,
Such unspeakable advantage (even if there is none beyond death) has a Christian over an Infidel! It is true, he has given up some pleasures before he could attain to this. But what pleasures? That of eating till he is sick: till he weakens a strong, or quite destroys a weak constitution. He has given up the pleasure of drinking a man into a beast, and that of ranging from one worthless creature to another, till he brings a canker upon his estate, and perhaps
rottenness into his bones: But in lieu of these, he has now (whatever may be hereafter) a continual serenity of mind, a constant evenness and composure of temper, a peace which passeth all understanding. He has learned in every state wherein he is, therewith to be content: nay, to give thanks, as being clearly persuaded, it is better for him than any other. He feels continual gratitude to his Supreme Benefactor, Father of Spirits, Parent of Good: and tender, disinterested benevolence to all the children of this common Father. May the Father of your spirit, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, make you such a Christian! May he work in your soul a divine conviction of things not discerned by eyes of flesh and blood! May he give you to see him that is invisible, and to taste of the powers of the world to come; may he fill you with all peace and joy in believing, that you may be happy in life, in death, in eternity!
OCCASIONED BY A PAMPHLET INTITLED, “A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PRINCIPLES OF METHODISM."
TO THE READER.
1. I HAVE often written on controverted points before; but not with an eye to any particular person. So that this is the first time that I have appeared in controversy, properly so called. Indeed I have not wanted occasion to do it before. Particularly when, after many stabs in the dark, I was publickly attacked, not by an open enemy, but by my own familiar friend. But I could not answer him. I could only cover my face and say, Και συ εν εκείνων : Και συ, τεκνον. Art thou also among them? Art thou, my son?
2. I now tread an untried path with fear and trembling: fear, not of my adversary, but of myself. I fear my own spirit, lest I "fall, where many mightier have been slain." I never knew one man (or but one) write controversy, with what I thought a right spirit. Every disputant seems to think, (as every soldier) that he may hurt his opponent as much as he can; nay, that he ought to do his worst to him, or he cannot make the best of his own cause: that, so he do not belie or wilfully misrepresent him, he must expose him as far as he is able. It is enough, we suppose, if we do not shew heat or passion against our adversary. But, not to despise him, or endeavour to make others do So, ́is quite a work of supererogation.
3. But ought these things to be so? (I speak on the
Christian scheme:) Ought we not to love our neighbour as ourselves? And does a man cease to be our neighbour, because he is of a different opinion? Nay, and declares himself so to be? Ought we not, for all this, to do to him, as we would he should do to us? But do we ourselves love to be exposed, or set in the worst light? Would we willingly be treated with contempt? If not, why do we treat others thus? And yet, who scruples it? Who does not hit every blow he can, however foreign to the merits of the cause? Who, in controversy, casts the mantle of love over the nakedness of his brother? Who keeps steadily and uniformly to the question, without ever striking at the person? Who shews in every sentence, that he loves his brother, only less than the truth?
4. I have made a little faint essay toward this. I have a brother, who is as my own soul. My desire is, in every word I say, to look upon Mr. Tucker as in his place, and to speak no tittle concerning the one, in any other spirit than I would speak concerning the other. But whether I have attained this or not, I know not; for my heart is deceitful, and desperately wicked. If I have spoken any thing in another spirit, I pray God it may not be laid to my charge; and that it may not condemn me in that day, when the secrets of all hearts shall be made manifest! Meanwhile, my heart's desire and prayer to God is, that both I, and all who think it their duty to oppose me, may put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven us.
1. THERE has lately appeared in the world, a Tract intitled, A brief History of the Principles of Methodism. I doubt not but the writer's design was good, and believe he has a real desire to know the truth. And the manner wherein he pursues that design is, generally, calm and dispassionate. He is indeed in several mistakes; but as many
of these are either of small consequence in themselves, or do not immediately relate to me, it is not my concern to mention them. All of any consequence which relates to me, I think falls under three heads:
First, That I believe Justification by Faith alone. Secondly, That I believe Sinless Perfection; and, Thirdly, That I believe Inconsistencies.-Of each of these, I will speak as plainly as I can.
2. First, That I believe Justification by Faith alone. This I allow for I am firmly persuaded, "That every man of the offspring of Adam is very far gone from original righteousness, and is, of his own nature, inclined to evil:" That this corruption of our nature, in every person born into the world, deserves God's wrath and damnation: that therefore if ever we receive the remission of our sins, and are accounted righteous before God, it must be only for the merits of Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings of any kind. Nay, I am persuaded, That all works done before Justification, have in them the nature of sin; and that, consequently, till he is justified, a man has no power to do any work, which is pleasing and acceptable to God.
3. To express my meaning a little more at large.
I believe, Three things must go together in our Justification: upon God's part, his great mercy and grace; upon Christ's part, the satisfaction of God's Justice, by the offering his body, and shedding his blood, and fulfilling the law of God perfectly; and upon our part, true and living faith in the merits of Jesus Christ. So that in our Justification there is not only God's mercy and grace, but his justice also. And so the grace of God does not shut out the righteousness of God in our Justification, but only shuts out the righteousness of man, that is, the righteousness of our works.
4. And therefore St. Paul requires nothing on the part of man, but only a true and living Faith. Yet this Faith does not shut out Repentance, Hope, and Love, which are joined with Faith in every man that is justified. But it