« PrécédentContinuer »
brained enthusiast. These epithets I am sensible are now bestowed upon me behind my back, nay, very often to my face: I bless God however, this doth not move me; but I can heartily thank him, that I am counted worthy to suffer shame for his sake. When however I saw the trial approaching, it appeared very formidable; and
formidable; and I can truly affirm, that nothing but the fullest conviction that the cause in which I was embarking was the cause of God; nothing, but not daring to act contrary to the plain dictates of my conscience, could have influenced me to make this sacrifice of my character, and bring upon myself so much scorn and contempt.
5. To reason with our despisers upon their own principles : If I am now fallen into enthusiasm, mistake, and strong delusion; I certainly was, when I first set out in this enquiry, a v likely person so to do. My leading resolve was to search for the truth diligently, and to embrace it wherever I found it, and whatever it might cost. No sooner had I begun the enquiry, than I was called upon to give proof of the sincerity of this resolution; and, from a principle of conscience, though a mistaken one, I renounced my prospect of an immediate preferment. Since that time I have also deliberately sacrificed my character, and hazarded the loss of all my former friends. Giving these proofs of integrity, I set off in dependence on those plain promises which I have mentioned
I have sought this desired knowledge of the truth chiefly in reading the holy Scriptures, and by prayer for the promised teaching of the Holy Ghost, in the manner which has been related ; and I am now led to conclusions diametrically opposite to what I expected !--Now lay all these things together, and attentively consider them; and then let your own consciences determine how far it is probable, that a person, in this manner seeking for the truth, shoạld be given over to a strong delusion to believe a pernicious lie.—“If a son shall ask “ bread of any of you that is a father, will he give " him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish
give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, “ will he give him a scorpion ? If ye then, being “ evil, know how to give good gifts unto your “ children; how much more shall your heavenly • Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask “ him?” Can any man suppose, that after such repeated and continued pleadings of the express promises of the Lord to this effect, in earnest prayer, according to his appointment, I should be delivered
up to the teaching of the father of lies ? Can any one make this conclusion without an evident insinuation that God hath broken his
promise ? In short, you may make a jest of the narrative ; you may throw by the book without giving any attention to an argument of this kind ; you may say, what you never can prove, that it is all a contrived story; or you may argue, that these promises, though contained in the Bible, are not to be depended on by us, which is to give up the Scriptures to bę scoffed at by Infidels and Atheists, and to render them useless to the humble anxious enquirer after truth and salvation : but by no other means, I am assured, can you account for this single circumstance, without allowing, that the substance of those, doctrines which I have now embraced, is indeed contained in the word of God; that they comprise the truth as it is in Jesus, and are not corrupted with any such delusion as can hazard the salvation of
my soul, or the souls of those who by my ministry receive them.—On this supposition all difficulties vanish. The Lord had given me a sincere desire to know the saving doctrine of the gospel ; and, though I was exceedingly ignorant, obstinate, and prejudiced; yet this desire having, according to his directions, led me to the word of God, and influenced me to seek his teaching by prayer, he was faithful to his own promises, and it was an example of his own words, “ Every one that asketh “ receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth.” My evident sincerity in seeking the truth was sufficient to convince any person, conversant and experienced in the things of God, that, as my friend foretold, thither would all my enquiries lead me, in that would they all finally centre, And could I be assured, beloved reader, whoever thou art, that thou wast as sincerely desirous to know the truth as I then was, and as heartily resolved to embrace it wherever thou miglitest find it, and whatever it should cost thee; had I also assurance, that in a believing dependence on these promises, thou wast diligently, and from day to day, in the study of the word of God and prayer, seeking the accomplishment of them: I would as confidently foretel, that, as to those things which I now regard as essential to salvation, and, if thou hast the souls of others committed to thee, as to what is needful for thy usefulness in the ministry, thou wouldst be brought in time to these same conclusions, whatever thy present religious sentiments may be. May the Lord give thee true sincerity, and incline thine heart to try the experiment !
I am aware that many will object to what I have argued on this head, as being too confident; and as what is urged by men of contrary religious sentiments, each in behalf of his own system: and, as I would not leave any material and plausible objection in force against what I have advanced, I hope the reader will excuse my obviating this beforehand. I would therefore intreat those, who object to the confidence with which this argument is brought forward, impartially and carefully to consider the limitations with which on every hand it is guarded: and then to enquire whether in any other way, than that which has been mentioned, they can account for the fact. That is, supposing this narrative true, (for which the appeal is to the heart-searching God;) and supposing the promises mentioned to be proposed to us, that we might embrace them, depend on them, and plead them in prayer, considering the glory of the divine veracity as concerned in their accomplishment to every believer ; let them try whether they can possibly evade one of these conclusions:-either God had failed of his promise ;--ol he hath in the main, and as far as is expressed, led the author by bis Holy Spirit to the knowledge and belief of the truth.--As to the confidence of men of opposite sentiments, I observe, that many who speak in high terms concerning sincerity and candour, will without hesitation condemn, as enthusiastical, such a reliance on the promises, and this way
of searching for truth: and they cannot be supposed to seek truth in that manner which they condemn in others. Many perhaps slightly mention these matters, but will not endure to be closely questioned: for, being conscious that they have not sought the truth in this manner, they evade such discourse as personal. Again, the writings of inany professed enquirers after truth, evidently shew that they expect to find it, not by “trust“ing the Lord with all their heart,” or seeking it from the Scriptures and by earnest prayer for the teaching of the Holy Spirit; but by “leaning to “their own understanding,” resting the argument on philosophical reasonings, and the authority