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It certainly can do no one any hurt to believe it; but may be f great service, if rightly improved; and the contrary error, I beieve to be of a very bad tendency. Suffer me to illustrate this, in
A denial of this truth, and most of the arguments to support such lenial, do misrepresent the nature of disinterested benevolence, and are really a denial of the existence of any such thing: And it is sapposed that selfishness is justifiable, and not opposed by real christianity; but that christians are warranted to act, and must act from selfish principles. This, I think, is evident, from what has been said on this subject, and most of the objections you have made. This tends to give a wrong idea of true religion, and to encourage professed christians in the indulgence of a selfish spirit; and to think themselves christians, while their feelings and exercises are in direct opposition to true christianity: And this way of thinking, as I think, discovers a contractedness of mind, so it tends to contract it more and more, and to sink it down to a narrow and low way of thinking and acting, contrary to that enlargedness of mind and nobleness of soul, with which real christianity inspires, and which is implied in disinterested benevolence.
And it is implicitly a denial of the eternal damnation of any of mankind. For, as has been observed, if we love our neighbor as ourselves, which is necessarily implied in true holiness, and we are unwilling to be damned ourselves, when this is necessary to answer the same ends, to answer which they are damned; then we cannot acquiesce in their damnation; nor ought any in heaven or earth to be willing that there should be any such thing as damnation. Consequently, there can be no such thing, consistently with the inclination of any holy being. But if this unwillingness to be damned ourselves, when this is as necessary for the glory of God and the general good, as that any of our fellow men should be damned, is owing to selfishness, and an exercise of that affection which is contrary to loving God supremely, and our reighbor as ourselves; then this justifies selfishness, as bas been observed, and justifies the christian in a rowing it, as a good and holy principle; by which be is willing others should suffer that for the glory of God, which he is not willing to suffer were it necessary to answer the same end: And, in short, cares not what becomes of his fellow men, or of God's honor, if he can but be safe and happy. Surely that doctrine which embraces and supports one of these alternatives, and does really avow the latter, and justifies all the selfishness in the world, and supposes there is no such thing as disinterested benevolence, is a very dangerous and hurtful doctrine, and tends to root all true religion out of the world.
On the other hand, the doctrine which I have endeavored to erplain and vindicate, tends to the advantage of christians many ways, which advantages naturally come into view, by attending to what bas been said, of the evil consequences of the opposite doctrine.
It is suited to enlarge the mind of the christian, and to extend
his ideas and thoughts to objects which are great and immense, and to wake up the feelings and exercises of disinterested benerolence, of supreme love to God, and regard to the general good, which swallows up and forgets his own personal interest, as nothing, in comparison with these grand objects. This will help bin, in the best and easiest manner to distinguish between true religion and false: and to obtain, and maintain the evidence in his owo mind, that he is a friend to God, and bas that benevolence in which holiness does summarily consist.
This will prepare him to acquiesce in the eternal destruction of those who perish, and even to rejoice in it, as necessary for the glory of God, and the greatest good of the whole, in the exercise of that disinterested benevolence, which makes him to be willing to be one of that sinful, wretched number, were this necessary to answer these ends.
This will prevent his preaching, or talking in tbat selfish way about religion, which too many ministers, and others do; or indulging selfish affections, under the notion of their being the exercise of true religion.
A belief of this doctrine, and exercises answerable, will bring and keep in view, true, unreserved resignation to the will of God, and prevent one's deceiving himself, with an imagined resignation which is not true resignation, but the exercise of wicked selfishness, and impiety; and with which many are deceiving themselves. For instance, when a parent loses a dear and only child, he is resig ned, and willing his child should be taken from him by death, if God will make it happy forever. This condition spoils the resignation, and it expresses no true regard to God, but only a regard to his child: which the most selfish parent has, as well as the most benevolent. So one who thinks himself a christian, is willing to be poor and despised, to be sick and suffer great pain, if il may work for his good, and God will make him eternally happy at lost; and thinks this true resignation, and that in a high and uncommon degree. Whereas this is not real resignation to the will of God, and expresses nothing but selfishness, in making God 'a tool to answer our own sellish ends. He will consent that God should make him happy, and answer bis ends, and is willing to be in his hands on no other condition. This expresses no true regard to God, or the general good. To conclude, the christian who believes this truth, and has feelings and exercises answerable to it, with pleasure gives himself into the hands of God, and rejoices that he and all things are in his hands, and that he will glorily himself by all men either in their salvation or damnation, and says to God, “ if it be most for thy glory that I should be cast off, thy will be done, “ Father glorify thy name.” I have no condition to make, let God be glorited, and his kingdom be most happy and glorious, whatever becomes of me." And the stronger and more clear these exercises are, the greater evidence he will have, when he reflects upon them; that he is a true friend to God, and that it is most for his glory, and for the greatest general good, that he should be perseetly holy and happy in his kingdom forever.
From the New-York Erangelist,
METHODISTIC INSTRUCTIONS. Mr. Editor- The terms mourn and mourning, are never applied in the bible to convicted sinners, nor are they used in any instances, so far as I bave examined, to express that distress which is felt under conviction, or to any manifestation of it. They are applied to persons who have been afflicted with the loss of friends -to the distress of christians, who mourn the billigs of God's face-to pious persons, who suffer under some persecutions--to those faithful friends of Zion, who mourn over her languishing state, and in view of the blindness, sin and danger of lost soulsto the distress of the wicked in hell, and to the truly christian penitent. When the bible says, “Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting and with weeping and with mourning: and rend your hearts and not your garments”--it commands unfeigned, genuine, unreserved repentance. But to do this is to be a christian. When the apostle James says,
hands ye sinners and purify your hearts ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning” --he commands that, which if performed, would render any and every person a genuine christian. To be a real mourner for sin, therefore, is to be a real and humble christian.
Our Methodist brethren look upon those persons, whom they call mourners, to be christians, or they do not. If they are not christians, it is because they cannot be such, or because they will not. If they cannot be christians, they are certainly not to blame, and may mourn that they have to deal with a God, who commands what we are incapable of performing. If they can and will not become the hearty and humble followers of Jesus Christ, then they are not mourners, unless it be in the same sense in which the damned in hell are mourners. They may lament that they cannot bring God to their terms—that the terms of the gospel are such as they hate, and call God cruel and vindictive, that he will not give them religion, peace and comfort, while they cherish their idols celf righteousness and self complacency, or in other words their rebellion.
Should a christian parent undertake to humble and correct with the rod a disobedient and stubborn child, what should we think of the other children, or members of the family, should they stand by and pity the unyielding rebellious son, calling him a poor mourner and a poor penitent? What should we think, if they should interfere and beg of him to desist, assigning as reasons that the child had shed so many tears—uttered so many groans, and been so long under eorrection—the child all the while condemning the father as wrong, and justifying himself as right? Would not such interference strengthen the child in his wicked opinions and impressions—would it not sustain the child in his resistance, and oppose or overthrow the father's object? Would it not be taking part with the child against the father? Certainly it would. All the father asks is his submission; and would it not be more diffcult to obtain his submission in this case, than it would be, should they take part with the father? The application of this simile, to the condition of those convicted sinners, who are pilied as mourners and penitents, is easy-they are perfectly parallel cases.
Why the Methodists, in the revivals in the region of the country where I labor, oppose immediate submission, or the doctrine of immediate repentance and reconciliation to God, is to be accounted for on the ground of their mourning and seeking system. Tbat all Methodists deny the doctrine of immediate submission is not true; and I am pleased in stating the fact. But hundreds of witnesses can testify, that they have positively asserted from the pulpit, that sinners could not repent and become christians now if they would, and have openly contradicted those ministers who asserted the contrary. And I can name instances and places, where revivals have been broken up by their opposition to this doctrine, and by their joining with antinomian Baptists in preaching against it.
The very nature of repentance shows that it is instantaneous in its commencement, God commands all men to repent now, or immediately. The case of the thief on the cross exemplifies this. So does the instance of the three thousand on the day of Pentecost-the five thousand the same afternoon or the next day-and the jailor, who the same hour of the night was awakened, convicted, converted and baptized.
The bible says, “Submit yourselves to God.” How long time does a child need to submit to its parent? But a moment. The bible says, '"Acquaint now thyself with God and be at peace.”— Can we become acquainted with God experimentally, and be at peace with him now? “Now is the accepted time, and now is the day of salvation.” Can we be accepted now, and can this present moment be the period of salvation? Is God willing it should be? Then is the seeking system a delusion.
The phrase seeking religion is an absurdity. To seek the Lord, and the kingdom of God and his righteousness, is commanded, and can be done; but the other cannot be, unless we consider the words Lord and religion synonymous. Seeking the Lord is religion itself. Seeking the kingdom of God is being religious; for certainly religion and the “kingdom of God” does not mean the same thing. As our Methodist brethren do not believe in imputed righteousness, I suppose they will not contend, that in seeking God's righteousness, we aim at any transfer of moral character but merely to be like God, and to obtain salvation according to his method, and on bis terms. But to seek these is to serve God -is to be religious—to love and to exercise religion. To apply the texts, "Blessed are they that mourn, Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness,” to convicted sinners, I believe is a perversion of the word of God; and the phrase "unconverted penitents” is a contradiction in terms. Mourners in Zion, according to the bible, are trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord and not convicted siopers.
I am acquainted with instances, where the mourners or seekers have been called to the altar, and requested to kneel to be prayed for; and were told when they obtained peace to rise from their knees and take their seats. After being on their knees until they were almost ready to faint, they would retire to their seats, while there names were taken as converts, and they were solicited to join the class. These are facts, and the names of persons, places, dates, &c. can all be given.
That many good Methodists would condemn such things, I have no doubt; while others, rather than say that Methodists ever erred, would deny or justify them. It may be said in this case, as in another similar one, “The leaders of this people cause them to err, and they that are led of them are destroyed,” which I have no doubt is true in many instances. Yours,
A TRAVELING PREACHER.
THE SUPPOSED BURNING OF THE WORLD. (We copy the following from the N. Y. Evangelist, to excite enquiry, and elicit remarks from our correspondents. At present, we hazard no opinion of our own upon the subject.]
Mr. Editor-I am often surprised to see with what confidence men speak of a time when the earth is to be burned
many, perhaps all other worlds and suns destroyed. In my humble estimation God has predicted no such thing. The passages from which the notion of such destruction is derived seem merely illustrations -figurative predictions of moral changes. None of them are in the least degree stronger than others, respecting wliose application to moral and political changes there can be no dispute. Jehovah says, by the mouth of Isaiah, “Behold I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." Isaiah ixv. 17. But here the introduction of the christian dispensation is evidently intended, as any one may see from the context. The 22d verse of the following chapter declares the permanence of the new heavens and earth, and if interpreted as are the passages quoted in support of the sentiment under discussion, would directly overthrow it.
The Prophet Nahum says of God, (chap. i. 5,) "The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea the world and all that dwell therein." This passage is unquestionably figurative. It illustrates the mighty power and awful holiness of God, but refers to no effect upon the material earth. Specimens of similar language used figuratively might be quoted to any extent.
The third chapter of the second epistle of Peter contains the strongest passages in support of the sentiment which I am considering. But they are evidently figurative. The thing taught is,