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In offering these Letters to “ the Members” of a particular church of certain peculiar professing Christians, it may be queried, why I prefer a public to a private address. My answer is, that I consider my remarks of some consequence, not only to the welfare of that society of whom I could scarcely hope that they would meet any attention, if privately. conveyed, as I have reason to believe a former epistle of mine, somé three or four years ago, never did); but the subjects discussed in these letters are of a public nature, and concern many or all of the inhabitants of Liverpool:-yea, all Christendom.
It is too truly observed by one, that “the disposition of the ministers and active members of the Society of Friends is extremely averse to any thing at all tending to militate against certain rules and maxims, considered by them as indisputable : and if I judge right, reformation must begin at the fountain."-Rather with the fountain of knowledge and wisdom which cometh from above; and which is revealed to us in the scriptures of truth. The still voice of the gospel -the peaceable and patient, and in some measure the long-suffering doctrine of the word and sayings of JESUS CHRIST, accompanied by the divine illuminating Spirit, is that which will reform not only “ the V e r and Heads of Houses," or heads of families, and of societies, but will reform all the families of the earth-of every language, tongue, and nation! Yes, whether “the Heads, or principal leading men of the universities,” or the houses called. “ Lords and Commons," " Council of Five Hundred," “ Diet,” “ Congress,” or “ Senate House,” matters not ; ALL must bow, sooner or later, to that Great Head, the Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, and of his gov- , ernment there shall be no end."
I agree with most teachers and leaders of professing Christians, that “nothing is more manifest than that misery abounds in the world. And the scriptures inform us that the cause of this is the sinfulness of mankind. And while sin continues unatoned for, all
expectation of happiness or reformation is but vain and presumptuous.”
“ Some consider the testimony of Jesus merely as an encouragement to them to attempt to procure the favour of God by their own endeavours. They strive to reform, they make many resolutions to grow better, and either sink into the awful delusion that they are now proper objects of the divine favour, or are driven into despair to exclaim, there is no mercy for them. The self-righteousness of the human heart exerts itself under various forms; sometimes it leads men to endeavour to purchase heaven with money by acts of charity; others, by mortification; as if God delighted in our sufferings, and grudged the enjoyment of the bounties of his providence.” But the testimonies of Jesus Christ are sure,-a foundation which cannot be moved.
Various indeed are the buildings which are raised on this foundation; and even on a contradictory ground. Some have for its object, “ something within them ;" some, if they cannot say they are perfectly sinless, they think themselves at least excusable, or even worthy, when compared with others; others, if they have been licentious, excuse themselves by saying
they have also relieved the poor ; others think them
selves religious; the system which their fathers professed is still observed by them ; although it is evident they have only the form of godliness!” And some, alas ! “build wood, hay, straw, and stubble.” But every man's works, it is said, shall be proved," “ tried by fire!" Amidst all its forms, the principle is still the same. Pride of the human heart rejects a free salvation. It is dissatisfaction with God's foundation, and an endeavour to substitute something of its own. It is true that Christ is in words acknowledged as the only Saviour, but the nature of his salvation is misunderstood. “ Surely they err.”. And some đo err, “not knowing the scriptures." “ Shew Judah her sins, and Israel their transgressions," said the Spirit to the prophet.
These reflections lead me to “ the scriptures," as the only authentic source of information : and there it is written, “ God will lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation, and he that believeth shall not make haste,">or, as some translators have it shall not be confounded.” Isa. xxviii. 16. And while I lay before the reader the grounds of “hope” revealed in the gospel, I shall point out also some of its properties, principles, and practices, as the effects, if not “ the essential requisites” to salvation. For there also it is written, that“ faith without works is dead.” Although we may have all spiritual gifts, knowledge, and speak with the eloquence of men and of angels, if we have not charity,Ớ“LOVE God with all our hearts, and our neighbour as ourselves,”—we are as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.”
To convince men of “ the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and “ to persuade men” to be " renewed in their minds," – not to be conformed to this world," but to aceept of this true reconciliation,-is the design of this work. Reformation must be individual. “Every one must reform one,” is a good maxim. But the converting power of the Holy Spirit is not confined to number or place: yea, “a nation shall be born at once.!"
Let us hear what the voice of this great reforming Spirit of Truth said to his immediate disciples. “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you ; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he comes
he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness,