« PreviousContinue »
rate unions, yet that it was beyond a doubt, a variety of old, and young fools, at least somewhat like it, good-natured creatures, have lived very happy with each other.
Mr. Lovegood, lastly urged some very impressive ideas respecting the sad perturbation of mind, created among all those of every rank, whose tempers were completely contrary to the holy mind of Christ. That even heaven itself would bear a semblance of hell, could such minds surround the holy throne above: perfect holiness, and infinite happiness, are inseparably united.
Thus Mr. Lovegood went on well in moralising. So also my young readers would determine, had I time further to transcribe his wise, and good advice; and for their sakes, thus much is presented before them on this most important subject. There is something very engaging in the undisguised simplicity of unpolluted youth. Oh, that my dear young friends had the advice of a Lovegood always sounding in their ears; and the like grace, which is the delightful theme of his preaching, constantly dwelling
in their hearts ! Such will not only be graciously protected from the evils of life, but as mercifully directed into every path that is wise, and good. And under such regulations, how happy shall I be without fee or reward, so far as I can gain the permission of the Dolittles of the day, (while a denial from the Lovegoods is scarcely to be apprehended, to tie the bond of union that makes the parties so happy in each other.
BETWEEN MR. LOVEGOOD, MR. MERRYMAN, MR. SAVORY, HIS
COUSIN JOHN, AND MR. MALAPERT.
R. Lovegood receives the following letter from
MY DEAR SIR,
As you allow me to consult you without reserve, and under every difficulty ; I must inform you of some recent events, which have filled me with the most serious apprehensions ; lest the peace and prosperity which has hitherto so happily prevailed, should be interrupted by the vain janglings of some, who are attempting to make their inroads among us.
I am quite surprised, that no body of respectable dissenters, have found their way into the Town, while most of the inhabitants are in gross ignorance, excepting some Baptists, and a very few Quakers, of whom it seems there are but three families in the town. These collect together every Sunday morning, in a large room, contiguous to the house of one of them ; but as they seldom have any public speaking among them, very little is known concerning them; though I fear, they are but ill acquainted with the doctrine of the atonement, and reconciliation with God, through the sacrifice of Christ; yet I find them very kind, and innocent neighbours, and am happy to treat them in return, with all the civility and VOL. III.
attention in my power. On our evening lecture, some of them frequently steal into the Church, and affectionately acknowledge that they receive good from what they hear.
I wish I could speak as favourably of the Baptists ; for I fear the one depend too much on their sanctification, for their justification ; not a few of the others seem to deny the need of personal sanctification altogether; though I am happy to find some favourable exceptions to the general remark.
You know the character of their old minister, He has been ringing changes, these forty years, upon eternal justification, and what he calls imputed sanctification, and the perseverance of the saints; which seems little better, than a sort of inconsistent perseverance in laziness, and security; after they have persuaded themselves to rest in a self-conceited confidence, that they are right, without any evidence of the fact : while the practical, and preceptive parts of the scriptures are treated by them with strange neglect.
It seems this old man has Jately heard of some new seceders from the Church, with whom he is highly delighted, because they have adopted his sentiment about baptism, and have been rebaptised by immersion. One of these he has, unhappily for me, introduced into his pulpit, and curiosity has invited many to hear what this new light has to advance ; and alas ! I am sorry to say, that there are some, who are fascinated with something, they know not what; while many artful innuendos are introduced, that they now hear the gospel fully, which they never heard before ; intermixed at the same time, with such horrid insinuations, which are in my opinion, most intolerably profane ; that “the greatest sins we can commit, can never alter our state, as it respects the covenant of grace ;” and that “God can never be angry with his elect, even when they commit the worst of crimes." Are we then to suppose that we are in the covenant of grace, without the
grace of the covenant? and how can people in such a gracious state, be guilty of the worst of crimes? and can they imagine that the holy God, can so alter his nature, as to see sin, and not hate it if he finds it, even in an Angel ? Surely if he pardons the criminal, he hates the crime ; and can such pardoned sinners dare to "continue in sin, that grace may abound ?” must not every real Christian hate the thought? I trust the first moment I was convinced of sin, I began to dread the commission of it, worse than hell itself; what then can be the use of such strange, unwarrantable expressions, but to make loose minded people, looser still, and to cause the enemies of God to blaspheme the doctrine of our free forgiveness, through Jesus Christ?
Notwithstanding their doctrine is so disgusting, as well as dangerous, the bewitchery has actually succeeded upon the minds of some ; one positive old woman, whose tempers at all times are the most inconsistent, and unsubdued ; goes prating about the town, “ crying in the wretched cant of the party :" that she has found out, why she could never get any comfort to her soul, under my preaching, because I insisted upon it, that “ God's elect should be made more holy than he himself ever designed they should be," " and that as God has strengthened her faith, she shall never fear about her sins, and corruptions as she has done, that she is now sure she believes, and therefore she is safe, and nobody shall shake her confidence any more all her days;" while her husband says of her, that she is such an arrant termigant, that she ought to be ducked every day of her life for scolding. I am happy however to find, that two or three, of the most judicious and correct of the Baptists, begin to recoil at what they have lately heard, and are aware of the danger that arises from preaching the mere skeleton truths of the gospel, without their practical effects, and consequences on the heart; so that if a few of my congregation seem
to be fascinated by these vain disputants, others have left them and have forgotten the prejudices of their education, and mean to attend the Church till they can hear sounder truths at the meeting, where they have been accustomed to worship. And although I have cause to thank God that there is not much to be dreaded from these* schismatical efforts, yet still the plague is in a measure begun.
And as you well know how to controvert those different heresies that have been brought forward against the plain, simple truths of the gospel, I most fervently intreat you to come over and help us, and give us some sermons on these most important topics.
No one can be more respected, and revered among the people of this Town than yourself. Mr. Savory, and some others that have lately left the Baptist congregation, are quite as anxious to see you as myself. I am sure your fervent zeal against such most dangerous errors, will not allow you to put a negative on this my earnest request. Your most affectionate son in the Gospel,
Mr. Lovegood's answer to this letter, was replete with all that good sense ; containing at the same time such wise, and pious remarks, as might naturally have been expected from him, and though I am satisfied the good taste, and piety of my readers would be greatly gratified, were they to be presented with the whole of its contents : yet those parts which more immediately relate to the present point, shall alone be transcribed.
Mr. Lovegood observed, that whatever appearance of novelty might seems to attach itself to these new lights, it was nothing more than a revival of the same bad spirit, which in a measure prevailed in the earliest ages of the primitive Church. That the
* See note at the end of the Dialogue.