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1. Where the church of Christ was before Lutheri
2. Which of all the numerous sects of Protestants is the true church?
3. Whether a center of unity is not wanting among Protestants?
4. Whether to prevent confusion, public interpreters of Scripture be not necessary? especially as the apostle St. Peter tells us, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any, private interpretation.
My friend has answered these questions several times, and it is possible very properly; but old prejudices, he observes, are rooted up with great difficulty; and I have reason to believe it. However, I would not on any account leave the religion of my ancestors entirely, without the most undoubted proof that it is the divine will that I should do so. But should it ever appear plain to me, that 1 must cither abandon the church of Rome, and submit to be abhorred by my friends, and to be turned into the wide world, or displease my Lord and Saviour, I pray that I may not be so far lost to a just sense of my true interest, as to require a moment's consideration which to prefer. But I dare not confide in my own strength. I remember St. Peter's confidence, as well as his fall, which naturally succeeded it. Indeed, my dear friends, I am many times distressed with fears, lest when it comes to the trial, I should imitate those persons who went away, and walked no more with the Redeemer.
Apprehensions also of a more alarming nature, if possible, frequently distress me, namely, lest the word of God. should be a cunningly devised fable. When such horrid temptations have invaded my mind, my only relief has been to pour out my soul in prayer to God. Tranquillity, and a well-grounded hope of the truth of the Scriptures, have generally ensued: but new storms have frequently succeeded these calms.
I am greatly obliged to you, Madam, for your kind invitation. I should have no doubt of being happy in such agreeable company; but my father, and sister, and father Albino our priest, set out this morning for Bath, where I expect them to stay six weeks or two months; so that I only am left to keep house.
Wheri 1 write to either of my friends, they must consiJer it as to both. Pray give my kind love to my dear Miss Barnwell, and accept the same from, dear Madam, Your much obliged friend,
And very humble servant,
From Mre. Worthington to Mies Eusebia Neville.
MT DEAR YOUNG LADY,
The glorious views you have of the felicity which awaits the friends of the Redeemer, cannot be indifferent to them who also hope to enjoy those blessings, which no eye hath seen nor heart conceived, except in a partial and inadequate manner. The love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and the pleasure we derive from obedience to his commands, are an earnest of our inheritance, and a foretaste of the happiness of that kingdom where our work will be our reward.
I pray for you, my dear friend, that you may never do any thing deliberately to dishonour the cause of Christ. Having put your hand to the gospel plough, you cannot look .back but at your peril. Remember Lot's wife. We are embarked in a good cause: and although, from the violence of the winds and waves, we may apprehend that ourselves and our cause are sinking, there is one with us in the vessel who can again say, Peace, be still. Your fear that you should go from Christ, and walk no more with him, God has put into your heart, lest you should depart from him. It operates like the fear of the disciples, who said, Lord save us, we perish. Every thing is a blessing, however painful it may be, which leads us to a throne of grace. Were it not for our calamities, God would•have much less of our company.
The dreadful suggestions of Satan, that the Scriptures may prove a fable, are very distressing. But console yourself with reflecting, that they are not only more or less experienced by Christians in general, but that they are among the all-things that work together for their good. Many have been induced, and even compelled, through such temptations, to be fervent in prayer, and diligent in searching the Scriptures, which have never sustained any dishonour from an impartial and judicious examination. Speculative unbelievers are far less numerous than practical: the transition, however, is easy from one to the other. Every unregenerate man is an unbeliever; but the strong man armed seldom disturbs his subjects with doubts concerning the truth of a religion which has no practiccl influence upon them. When inquisitive unbelievers search the Scriptures, they do it, either in hopes of proving them to be entirely false, or with a determination to reject such doctrines as are contrary to unsanctified reason: and the god of this world blinds their minds, lest the light of the gospel should shine unto them.
The Old Testament is the foundation on which the New is built; and they will stand or fall together. To-morrow is the thirtieth of January, a day observed with much solemnity by many persons in the church of England. Should this service continue for a hundred ages, it would be a proof of the existence and sufferings of Charles I. Do not the Passover, and other Jewish festivals, equally prove the truth of the historical faits to which they owed their origin? The Jews in every country continue to commemorate those facts ; and as well might we deny the gunpowder-plot, an annual commemoration of which is maintained throughout England, as dispute those divine deliverances which are annually and universally celebrated by the descendants of Jacob. The Lord's supper also is »' standing proof, not merely that he was crucified, but likewise that he foretold his crucifixion, and appointed this ordinance as a memorial of it. When our Lord died, the number of his disciples was about a hundred and twenty. It is incredible that so many men should have agreed to commemorate frequently the crucifixion of their Lord, in professed obedience to his command, if such a command had never been given.
Please to give my kind love to Thomas Livingstone and his wife. I shall inclose something in this letter to alleviate their sufferings in this inclement season.
That God may strengthen and support you to bear every thing which he shall permit you to suffer for his name, is the prayer of, my dear young Lady, Youv sincere friend,
From Miss BarnweU to Miss Eusebia Ntvilie.
MY DEAR EUSEBIA,. . ,,,
My aunt, who has a very great regard for you, desired me to answer that part of your letter which contains your doubts, whether you ought or ought not to leave the church of Rome. This was doing me very little honour, since she told me there was no difficulty attending it. For, said she, they must be very indifferent scholars indeed in the school of Christ, who cannot demonstrate that national churches are in their own nature unfriendly to Christianity
The good confession which our Lord witnessed before Pontius Pilate was this, My kingdo7n is not of this world. His church, which is his kingdom, he has upholden in the midst of the nations, as he supported the children of Israel in the wilderness; his servants have always dwelt alone, and will never be reckoned among the nations.
I. You ask, Where the church of Christ was before Luther? I ask, in return, where is it now? And I answer myself, that there are three members of this church at Thornton: Miss Eusebia Neville, and our good friends Thomas Livingstone and his wife. The Redeemer has many thousands scattered over Great-Britain and Ireland, and the neighbouring nations, known by various names of reproach, who are marked with his seal, supported by his arms, and kept as the apple of his eye; and, however they may be reviled and hated by the world, not a hair of their heads will perish. My friend, I dare say, has heard of those heretics, the Hussites in Germany, the Waldenses and Albigenses in the vallies of Piedmont and the south of France, and the WicklifRtes in England. We have reason to believe, that all the persecuted professors in those times, with very few exceptions, were real Christians: for hypocrites, in general, leave the profession of religion, when there is neither personal safety, nor ease, nor honour, nor riches attending it.—Your next question is,
2 Which of all the numerous sects of Protestants is the true church? In answer, I need only ask you, which of the seven churches of the lesser Asia was the true church? You will reply, that most, if not ail of them, were both praiseworthy and blameworthy. And so it is with regard to the churches of Christ in these kingdoms; though I fear too many of them are like the Laodiceans, who said they were rich and increased with goods, and had need of nothing, and knew not that they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and. blind, and naked. The case is this: the church of Christ in these nations has long had peace; professors are in a sleepy frame; the enemy has sowed tares among the wheat; and there are many hypocrites in Zion. This is the calamity of God's children in this day; for they must have a cross to carry of some kind or other. That society of Christians, there