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his doctrinea They either plausibly explained away the obvious meaning of the many passages of Scripture which opposed their hypothesis, or they at once rejected them as interpolations; and I as readily embraced a scheme, which lowered down to almost nothing a religion that I had the greatest reason to believe was not very favourable to me. After this I met with a gentleman who endeavoured to set aside the divinity of Christ in a summary way, namely, by attempting to prove that the far greatest part of the New Testament is spurious.
To have done his work effectually, interrupted I, he should have proved that the greatest part of the Old Tes. tament is spurious likewise ; since the deity of the Messiab is as much the subject of the prophetic writings, as of the apostolic. When you were making such progress, I doubt not but you soon arrived at the end of your journey.
Indeed, Madam, I did, answered Mr. Clifford : I presently fled from an accusing conscience, by giving up the whole as a volume contrived by priests for the purpose of keeping the ignorant multitude in awe, and of picking their pockets.
It has indeed, said I, been used to accomplish those purposes. A far nobler purpose, however, has been unremittingly pursued by its great Author. Not that its perversion has been without its, use. Almost the whole of the book of Revelation is a prophetic description of the corruption of Christianity by its being made a state religion. This corruption of Christianity, therefore, is a proof of its truth, and such a proof as the first Christians could not possibly possess. But, Sir, how did you go on after
had silenced the Old and New Testament?
Alas, Madam, cried he, I can testify to the truth of what is asserted in divine revelation, that there is no peace to the wicked. From that moment I would thankfully have changed condition with my dog or my horse. Every step to this state of unbelief and uncertainty was from bad to worse, till I plunged headlong into that gulf from which nothing but an almighty arm could extricate me.
Did you never, said I, pray all this while?
I thought, replied he, that if I had attempted to pray, the earth would have opened, and swallowed me up. Yet, I remember that I stopped short once as I was walking, and, looking up to heaven, cried out, o God, if thou wilt save me, thou mayest; but I dare not ask it. I endeavoured by travelling and company to sooth my melancholy, and sometimes succeeded. I endeavoured to fortify myself in unbelief by the consideration, that a great part of the wise and learned, both at home and abroad, have long viewed it as a proposition already demonstrated, and needing no farther proof, that the Scriptures are calculated only for the meridian of the vulgar. I also looked upon Christians as far worse than Mahometans or pagans, and as answerable for all the blood which has been spilt on a religious account. I think I know, Sir, said I, who confuted you
when you advanced these sentiments.
Yes, Madam, replied he, it was one too good for this world, and who has therefore been called to the abodes of the blessed. That night is a night never to be forgotten. It was late when I reached home. Sitting down in the apartment of our steward, who is a pious man, I carelessly opened a book which lay there, and finding it to contain some sermons by Mr. Whitefield, determined to read a discourse upon Eccles. vii. 16, Be not righteous overmuch, &c. I said to myself, I am certain that I am righteous little enough; and I was so ignorant as to suppose that it was a dissuasive from over-strictness in religion. Upon reading it, I for the first time had a view of salvation by Jesus Christ; and an affecting view it was. It was too much for me to bear. I saw that every divine perfection centers in the Redeemer, and that he is the great atoning Sacrifice prefigured by all the sacrifices under the law. I was convinced that all my former attempts to please God were strange fire, idolatry, and self-dependence, and were not commanded in the oracles of truth. The glory that I saw in Christ left me no choice whether I would or would
not trust in him. He appeared to me a precious Saviour, and the only physician of my soul. I prayed for the first time, in short and broken sentences, but with floods of tears; and my God heard, and delivered me out of the prison of Satan, out of the pit where there was no water, from the confines of hell. I bless God that he has hitherto preserved me from relapsing into my former infidelity, which of all evils I the most feared.
I rejoice with you, Sir, said I, that God has delivered you from that dreadful state. Having received much mercy, I hope you will be enabled to love much, and to manifest your gratitude by an obediential regard to the revealed will of God. You will remember the great price that was paid for your redemption, and the felicity which awaits the Christian in another world. What greater motives can be conceived than these to holiness of heart and life? The divine hand is visible in all you have related. You were at first convinced that you were a sioner, and you did not wish that God should be your enemy: you therefore attempted to serve him with a self-righteous, self-dependent obedience; but your devotion bore no resemblance to true religion. God, in great mercy, and in faithfulness to your soul, laid the reins on your neck, and suffered you first to embrace Arianism, then Socinianism, and at last Deism. The whole of this procedure was intended to bumble you; to remove every incentive to boasting; and to induce you to exalt the sovereign mercy God, in saving and calling you with a holy calling, not aecording to your works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given you in Christ Jesus before the world began.
I asked Mr. Clifford whether he had had any conversation with his father on this subject.
He answered in the affirmative. But you well know, Madam, said he, that my father has long been destitute of the very form of godliness. I notwithstanding besvught him to consider, that very soon, according to the course of nature, he must exchavge time for eternity; and I pointed out to him the blood of Christ as sufficient to cleanse the soul from sins of the deepest dye.' It had however no effect. Every thing I said, whether concern. ing the joys of heaven, the torments of hell, the necessity of holiness, or the folly of a wicked life,' were the objects of his derision. He said that I should soon be tired of my plaything, and should throw it away as other children do tbeirs.-Now I had known several instances of men who had made a very warm, not to say a very violent profession of religion, who yet after a while grew cool, went back into the world, and became more remiss than they had been before. I therefore retired into my closet, and implored my heavenly Father that he'would never suffer me to leave him. I earnestly desired that he would rather deprive me of my life, since nothing less than lifting up my eyes in hell could be more dreadful to me than the thoughts of relapsing into my former infidelity..
The fears of Christians, replied I, are given them for their security, and are a fulfilment of the promise'made by God concerning his children, I will put my féar in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. Other means of security have also been appointed. Christians ought not to pursue a solitary plan, and to have respect to no one's advantage but their own. On the contrary, being born of the same Spirit, and being children of the same family, and travellers to the same country, it is their duty to be united together in the fellowship of the gospel, to pray with and for each other, to hear the Scripture's read and explained, to remember the death of Christ by partaking of bread and wine in fellowship, and thus as a body to become the pillar and ground, or the support of the truth.
I acknowledge, Madam, answered he, that persons who are in the kingdom of Christ ought to 'conform to its laws : but to those who enter into a foreign country, uime must be allowed for learning the laws of the country I have conversed with several sincere friends of the Redeemer, who evidently appear to have the Spirit of Christ. One says to me, Mr. Clifford, as God has magnified his mercy in your conversion, I hope you will not leave the church of England, as too many in the same case do. God is evidently with us. A great number of gospel ministers have been sent to labour in this vineyard in the last fifty years; and if there are faults in the church, the dissenters are not perfect.-Another gentleman, who is a Baptist, said to me lately-as God appears to have given you a place among his children, it becomes you to prove your love to Christ by obeying his commandments, and to begin with putting on the Lord Jesus Christ by baptism. Examine, therefore, whether ye be not at present unbaptized.-Another gentleman, a Pædobaptist, after some religious conversation that I had with him yesterday said to me-you must come, Sir, among us. You will never be happy in the church of England, which in fact, is no other than a popish church in some measure reformed. The church of Rome is under the direction of the pope and cardinals. The church of England is under the direction of the king, lords, and commons; and the bishops, (who are put into that office by the king,) and the inferior clergy in convocation as. sembled, cannot alter one tittle of the creeds, articles, ceremonies, or prayers, without an act of parliament for that purpose. Although the great majority of the English clergy are Arminians, Arians, and Socinians, they subscribe articles which they do not pretend to believe ; and many of them repeat every week prayers which in their. opinion are blasphemous. They nevertheless cry up the excellence of the church, and are unwilling that a stone should be displaced or altered in this tottering fabric, lestthe whole should fall into ruins : for they prudently consi. der that it keeps them warm and dry ; and that if the cele lars and pantries, which are the most commodious parts of the building, were to be rebuilt, they could not be niade better than they are.--I replied to my friends who thus extolled their respective modes of religious worship, that I had infinite reason to be thankful that my eyes had been opened to behold the glory of God shining in the face of :