« AnteriorContinuar »
saries, which you speak of, I have no objection to having any one carry as much as he can, and not hinder him any on his journey; such a load as you have got, would weary and retard me; so, therefore, as I cannot enjoy them without, in a measure, sacrificing my better interests, I shall make shift to do without them, and endeavour to supply their place by contemplating the glorious termination of this short journey, and what I shall receive when I enter on that rich, that eternal inheritance, prepared for those who rightly travel this road. I am also much refreshed by reflecting on the excellent glories of our PRINCE ; so much so that I have not felt the need of any of those things which I left behind me. The leeks and the onions of Egypt have lost their flavor, and I think my soul loatheth such food.
F. M. If I am not mistaken, I have some of the same enjoyment myself which you speak of, and I do not mean to place confidence in these other things, as the source of true and real satisfaction ; but only to use them as auxiliaries.
P.T. But, my brother, when you first set out, you invited others to come and join us, and leave all things, without taking a single auxiliary. What may have taken place to change your mind in so short a time?
F. M. I conclude I had more zeal than knowledge, and thought I could get to heaven in a day, and so ran accordingly. But I soon grew fatigued, and thought it advisable to take a few things to support nature, and also to travel a little more leisurely.
P. T. Did you tell them any thing wrong at that time? If you did you ought to take it back, and tell them wherein you erred, and not leave them to make their own conclusions, lest they should become prejudiced against the way itself, by seeing those who travel on it say one thing and do another. When we tell men that there is no enjoyment in their pursuits, and that every real pleasure centres in this road, and then load ourselves with the same cares and perplexities, that they do, and also turn aside and unite with them in their revels, and feasting, and unprofitable conversation, vain talking and jesting, which are not convenient, they have good reason to suspect that we told them a falsehood, and they may well upbraid us, in the words of this book, “ what do ye more than others 23,
F. M. I did not “then think” I told them any thing wrong; nei. ther do I now think so. But it is easier to preach than to practice. When my soul was first delivered from the fears of the terrible destruction which threatened me, and I discovered the beauty of this path, and of him that provided it, I thought I should never have any further connection with any thing else. The brightness of this way obscured all things else; the world around me, the men in it, and all its toys falsely called pleasures, had no power to charm. But I have since found that I am in the world, and that I get along easier to conform a little, than to be too rigid.
P.T. It appears to me that you have altered your opinion more according to your own feelings, than in consequence of any light from the word of truth. I will take, for instance, the case of celebrating public festivals. Twelve months ago you utterly discarded the idea of uniting with the world in eating and drinking on any such occasiou, even the anniversary of our independence. You then thought, as I now think, that those who profess to be spiritually minded, should acknowledge God, and worship him, in spirit and in truth, and that a merry carousal was totally repugnant to the nature of that kingdom set up in the midst of other kingdoms, by the God of Heaven; you also reproved others for going to hear an oration on that day, and leaving a social prayer-meeting. And yet, if I am not mistaken, you can now go with the enemies of the cross, and eat, and drink to the manifest injury of the cause of our blessed Master, and the grief of your brother travellers.
F. M. You upbraid very sharply: But I was inexperienced at the time you speak of, and had but just sat out in the way; and had I followed that rigid mode of procedure, I should have greatly injured my usefulness in the world. For instance, the case you named, of our national festival; had no serious sober persons been there the others would have been under no restraint, and the natural consequence would have been excess, and riot; but on account of our presence they behaved in an orderly and sober manner-(comparatively speaking.) We ought to make ourselves useful in the world, and not shut ourselves up in secret. With regard to my scandalizing the cause of my Master, all I can say is, that I have not intended it. Jesus himself went to feasts when he was on earth; and as I did nothing immoral, I feel a clear conscience. Neither do I think it necessary for me to deprive myself of a rational enjoyment, to gratify the squeamish scruples of a weak and superstitious brother. Besides, it is a good thing to celebrate this anniversary in this way; for if it is not kept in this way it will not be kept at all; for the world will not unite with us to spend the day in fasting and prayer, or religious duties of any kind; and we know that some of their feelings were much hurt by only having a sermon preached on that day; so much so that they drank a toast of “ No fasts, no sermons," to shew their dislike to even that proceeding. It is, sir, a very delicate point, and the high toned feelings of our countrymen will not brook innovations. Furthermore, it tends to preserve the martial spirit, and keep alive the remembrance of our fathers, who fought and bled for our liberty, and achieved it, and have bequeathed it to us as our invaluable legacy, and we are bound to preserve it inviolate. Therefore, as we cannot pursuade them to join us, we ought to join them, and as far as in us lies, promote and preserve good order; and by our familiarity conciliate their affections and do them good when an opportunity occurs.
P. T. Really, I believe you have given the enemy more than he would have had confidence to ask for. Let us look a moment at your argument. Must we break the commands of our Lord to extend our usefulness? To be sure, if we had any power of being useful in ourselves considered, we might say something ; but, as all our labors will be utterly in vain, unless the Lord assist ; and as he will not assist us in the use of any means which he has not appointed, we may safely conclude that our usefulness depends wholly on our obedience. But the effect you have proposed to yourself does not follow. You say they were more sober and orderly. They in, return say you were more merry and vain, and they cast it in the teeth of your brethren who attempt to reprove them, that you were worse than they were. They glory in your shame, and say, “ Aha, this is as we would have it." Your testimony is lost. How can you reprove vain talking and jesting when you remember that day? You say our Lord went to feasts; so he did. And by his holy conversation made himself as manifest there as in any place whatever. He reproved the conduct of his host, and was reproached by him. He was invited that he might be ensnared; and when the wisdom of his answers, and conduct, confounded his enemies, they insulted him. If you will go as he went, and reprove sin as he reproved it, I say go, with all my heart. I mean not to upbraid you, but I wish you to examine the subject, with prayerful attention. I do not charge you with meaning to injure the cause of Christ, but our intentions are but one part. It is our duty to know the will of God, and act as we learn from his word. Our intentions, separate from a knowledge of his will, would form but an indifferent rule of duty. Paul verily thought he ought to do many things contrary to Jesus of Nazareth ; but he was mistaken, and so shall we be, when we follow the dictates of our carnal feelings, contrary to divine rule. Your argument in favour of observing the day in such a way is wholly unscriptural. If the man of the world will not join us to worship God, we must join him to worship Satan. I hardly think you will be willing to admit this principle when you see its full bearing. As to our liberties being in our hands, you are much mistaken. They are in the hands of a Holy God; and he can take them from us as he gave them to us; and if we would dwell long in the land which he hath given us, we must acknowledge him. I think I can heartily rejoice that our lines are fallen to us in so goodly a place, where we can enjoy so many privileges. But when I take into consideration the awful expense of blood shed on the occasion, I question whether our fathers will stand justified before God in the transaction. Whether the awful responsibility incurred by pronouncing the word, which sent two hundred thousand men prematurely into the presence of the Judge of quick and dead, was counterbalanced by the consideration of the right of taxation, is a question which that Judge alone must determine. But I confess I should not like to take the consequences, as I think it possible that when the secrets of all hearts are brought to light, and tried by the standard of eternal justice, things will appear differently to our eyes from what they now do.
[Here F. M. interrupted him by a question on the subject of war generally, which, together with P. T's. answer, will be given in some future number.]
F. M. You go so fast that I cannot keep pace with you. The road is of the two rather narrow. It appears to me if I had the care of it, I would turnpike it a little, for the ease and convenience of travellers. The other* road, which we past when we came into
this, had the appearance of being a turnpike altogether ; besides, on that was a hand-rail,* running the whole length, which made it much easier to walk in. I am almost tempted to believe that the best road.
P. T. The great difficulty which was in the way then, is in the way now, which was, a doubt whether the path extended quite across the swamp. If it should reach part of the way only, and we should be benighted at the end of it, our destruction would be inevitable.
F. M. But that had the appearance of going the same way with this, and is much more travelled ; besides, I could in that path have rode in my carriage, and not been necessitated to carry all this baggage on my back. And the guide there told of hundreds that had gone that way to one this, so we should probably have had more company. However, I think this to be the safest on the whole.
P.T. It does not prove the thing to be valid because a great many believe it. Was this the case, purgatory would stand on a strong foundation. As to your burden, you might have carried that with much more ease in that path than this. But as it respects company, those travellers who choose to ride in carriages, are very little company for those who are obliged to walk.
Now I saw in my dream, that as they walked on, Fickle-Mind, in his zeal to preserve his goods, suffered his white garment to be soiled in various places, and he was much troubled, and perplexed, in trying to save the appearances of both. While he was hindered by these difficulties, his companion left him behind and walked on, looking on his book, on which the rays of light fell with peculiar brightness, rendering his way more and more comfortable as he drew near the close of it. But, alas for poor Fickle-Mind! while he was endeavouring to adjust his various concerns, he had the misfortune to drop his basket and bottle, and in making an exertion to recover them, he slipped into the mire, his beautiful garment was rent in a deplorable manner, and covered with the filth of the quagmire, and his various plans for extensive usefulness met a very untimely interruption." While he was wallowing there, a thick mist began to rise from the bog, which so obscured the light, that it was very difficult to see the way, and required from one who had not fallen more circumspection, if possible, than before. But my attention was speedily called to another place. In a thicket, at no great distance, was the Prince of the Power of the Air. He was exulting in the fall of our unfortunate traveller, but, being at a distance, I could not hear all his soliloquy; some sentences, however, I heard, and they were as follows :-" This man, who has fallen, will probably be a stumbling-stone to those who come after him. But these are trifles. I perceive that my time is drawing to a close; the hour is near at hand when I must be chained down in everlasting darkness(Some say that everlasting is not eternal :- They will have an opportunity to try it shortly. From the signs of the times, I know the millennial day is drawing nigh. One satisfaction alone remains: I shall not sink alone. The judgment day will witness a countless
throng, which no man can number, who will hear the awful sentence addressed to themselves, “ Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.” What a day it will be then! Did they know as much about it as I know, and could they feel the wrath of God as I feel it, they would not wait the consequences, but would turn to the only hope. It shall be my business, however, to prevent that; and now for the best method. I have lost more subjects within two years than in ten before: Revival has followed revival about the country, in all directions: It has been as bad as the old new-light stir in Whitefield's day. I wish they would let preaching be confined to regular ministers, and not set every boy about streets to exhorting. I have but one way to do: I must endeavour to puff up the preachers with spiritual pride. If I can once get that into their bosoms, they may bid farewell to usefulness. Amongst private christians the most successful of all the means I have ever tried to stupify the mind, is to convince them, that God's time has not come to work. Then they remain in a state of stupid inactivity, tolerably contented; and it is harder to awaken them from this, than from any other state they get into, for they charge their stupidity on God. Another thing :- I must make business better. Business has been so dull of late, that folks have had nothing to do but turn christians :Religious people have had access to them, and a good many have been scared at the idea of hell, [and well they may be.] and have made good their escape from wrath to come. Now I must so contrive it as to entangle both saints, and sinners, in the world, so that neither of them can attend meetings, evening conferences in particular. Their minds must be so clogged that the one can get no time to speak, or the other to hear. On these two things hang the chief weight of my power. I must lull christians into stupidity and enlangle them in the world, and keep the wicked as they are; and then, as auxiliaries, add as many false doctrines as possible. But there are a few who yet maintain the life, and power, of godliness. These must be plied with every art my long experience will furnish. I'll just recollect their names, for they require immediate attention. In * * * * * * * *
How much more of his infernal plan the Prince of Darkness would have revealed, or who he would have named as most obnoxious to his wrath, I am unable to say; for, just as he was about to pronounce their names, I awoke in great agitation, for I felt a consciousness, that I had not done much of late to excite his indignation. Possibly some of my brethren may have the same feelings. Let us therefore not sleep, as do others, but be sober and watch unto prayer, lest we enter into temptation, and give occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.