« AnteriorContinuar »
affairs mix together in blind confusion and rude disorder, yet God sees and knows the concatena. tion of all causes and effects; and so governs them, that he makes a perfect harmony out of all these seeming jarrings and discords.—The proceedings in divine providence are all regular and orderly to his own ends, in all the thwartings and contrarie. ties of second causes.—Once more: with respect to God there is nothing casual or contingent in the world: a thing may be casual in respect of particular causes; but, in respect of the universal or first cause, nothing is so.-If a master send a servant to a certain place, and command him to stay there till such a time, and presently after should send another servant to the same, the meeting of these two is wholly casual in respect of themselves, but ordained and foreseen by the master who sent them. So it is in all fortuitous events here below; they fall out unexpectedly to us, but not so as to God, for he sees and he appoints all the vicissitudes of things."
With this soul-establishing doctrine dwelling in my reader's mind, and I hope richly in his faith and affections also, I shall proceed to give him the narrative of my becoming acquainted with the person who was the occasion of the following letters.—After having been in London about eight years, I purposed visiting my native country and my father's house, at Lazonby in Cumberland. A young man who resided in the city, and with whom I became acquainted froin the circumstance
of his attending the ministry of our late honoured Pastor, understanding that I had an intention of visiting the North, committed to my care some letters for his father; which my reader will bear in mind, as the first link of that chain of circumstances that connected me with Mr.
S n . I left London July 27, 1800, on board the Britannia for Leith, where I arrived in safety, after a prosperous voyage, by the will of God, in seven days; from Edinburgh I went to Glasgow, and from thence to Carlisle. Upon any arrival I delivered the letters that were intrusted to my care; but upon calling I did not make myself known. The same day I arrived at my father's house at Lazonby, about fourteen miles from Carlisle. On Friday, August 15, a relation of mine, a professor of religion, called upon me with a mes. sage from the young man's father, that he would be at Mr. S-n's, at F- , in the afternoon, and wished to see me. I at first objected, but afterwards followed, and overtook my cousin, when we both went to Mr. S-n's, about four miles from Lazonby. Upon our arrival at his homely cottage we were received in a very kind and friendly manner, but the young man's father was not come. To my surprise I met there two ministers; one of whom I knew, but the other was a stranger, who was appointed to preach in Mr. S-n's house. Being there some considerable time before service began, we drank tea, and very shortly, in conversation, Mr. Huntington's name
was introduceri, probably on purpose, it being known that I was one of his people. Our party, if I recollect right, consisted of about eight persons; and the conversation turned upon the noral law being the believer's only rule of life; which I opposed to the best of my ability, proving it to be the servant's rule, not the son's. During this dispute, which was principally kept up between the two ministers and myself, I observed Mr. S-n, who sat upon a stool at the side of the fire-place, without his coat, just as he came out of the harvest field, with his elbows upon his knees, and his head between his hands; and I believe he never once spoke or looked up, but was all ear, while we were all tongue.
Within about half an hour of the time of service we all retired, except the stranger, who was to preach, and walked together into the corn field adjoining the house. I found my heart a little warm with love and zeal for God's honour and truth, and my mouth in some measure opened, and therefore continued in conversation about different things in religion; all which time Mr. S-n kept close by me, and several times I well remember that he made remarks, expressing his approbation at what was spoken, and never left me å moment. · We returned to the house, and heard a discourse from these words,“ Christ died for the ungodly.” After service, when it was quite dark, we departed for our different homes; and, just as I had left Mr. S-n's, came the gentleman
to whom I had brought the letters, who walked a few hundred yards with me, and all he had to say was simply to remember him to his son. So that I perceived God sent me to meet Mr. S-n, rather than that gentleman. I left Mr. S-n two books, “ Toplady on Predestination," and Mr. Huntington's Sermon, called “ The Funeral of Arminianism."
After my return to London, sending some copies of Mr. Huntington's “ Loss and Restoration of the Image of God in Man,”I enclosed one for Mr.S-n, with a note, thanking him for his civility and attention to me, a stranger, while at his house; and in return I received a letter from him, giving me an account of his experience, and requesting my opinion respecting it. Upon reading it over, I found some particular impressions upon my mind, which led me to be perfectly satisfied that there was a great deal kept back, and that his experience corresponded very much with my own. Under this impression I wrote him the first letter, in a very pointed manner asking a number of questions, and appealing to God and conscience that he would say nothing but what they could put their amen to. This led to his second letter, which brought all his experience forth, as I have related in my answer to it.-He was wrought upon, both wounded and healed, in private; for there were no means of God's appointment that he could find, though he searched after them with diligence, as we see by his going forty miles on
foot to hear a Calvinist minister, and remaining with him two days; though neither by preaching nor conversation could he describe his case. He experienced the truth of what the Lord says to all under such circumstances; “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Jacob will not forsake them;" Isai. xli. 17.4" For the needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever;" Psalm ix, 18.-" He shall deliver the needy when he crieth, the poor also, and him that hath no helper; he shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy; he shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence, and precious shall their blood be in his sight;" Psalm lxxii. 12–14. Compare also Psalm xii. 5.
After the Lord was pleased to work out his happy deliverance, as related in the second letter, and had for a very unusual period indulged him with comforts and consolations, then the adversary was permitted to tempt and harass him by his evil suggestions, and was allowed so to foil and bewilder him for the trial of his faith, hope, and love, that when I was brought into his company he was just ready, in his own apprehensions, to cast away his confidence; to write such bitter things against himself, as to think all his former experience a delusion, and that he was deceived, and had committed the unpardonable sin. Here