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THERON, PAULINUS, AND ASPASIO,
LETTERS & DIALOGUES
UPON THE NATURE OF
LOVE TO GOD, FAITH IN CHRIST, ASSURANCE
TITLE TO ETERNAL LIFE
SOME REMARKS ON THE SENTIMENTS
THE REV. MESSIEURS HERVEY AND MARSHAL,
ON THESE SUBJECTS.
“ Amidst all the darkness and uncertainty which evidently run through “ the writings of the best of men, this is our unspeakable happiness, that
we have a more sure Word of Prophecy; to which we do well to take heed. “ As for offence, that cannot be given, and ought not to be taken, when all
we advance is strictly conformable to the unerring rule of truth. I have
nothing to do with the persons of men, but with the truths of the Gospel. “ Ouranius, though eminently devout, may be mistaken."
I: Paulinus' sentiments, finally embraced by Theron, and exhibited in the following Letters and Dialogues, are agreeable to the Holy Scriptures, there needs no apology for publishing them, at a time when the contrary errors so much prevail in the British dominions. And it is hoped, candid readers will easily excuse the mentioning by name some authors in the contrary scheme, as they seem to be esteemed the best on that side of the question. If his sentiments are wrong, let some man of a clear head and a friendly heart, set him right, from the sacred oracles of truth. And it will be accepted as well by him, as by the public, with the utmost gratitude. For these are points in which our dearest, our spiritual and eternal interest is greatest concerned. And it is even of infinite importance, that we know the truth before it is too late.
“ Should any thing be urged,” says Mr. Hervey, (in the preface to his Theron and Aspasio,)“ forcible enough to overthrow my arguments, or detect a mistake in my sentiments, the world may depend upon seeing a free and undissembled retraction. I shall look upon it as a duty, which I owe to my conscience, to my readers, and to my God, publicly to acknowledge the error." And indeed, we who claim to be the ministers of Christ, are quite insensible to the honour of God, and to our own eternal interest, as well as the eternal interest of our fellow-creatures ; if we are not conscientiously concerned to advance and maintain the truth, and nothing but the truth. Wherefore, to the above-recited declaration of Mr. Hervey, the publisher of these Letters and Dialogues, says Amen, with all his heart.
N. B. As Paulinus had some other books in view, besides the two chiefly referred to; so Theron has sometimes introduced a text of Scripture, an argument, &c. not contained in either of these books, and for which these two authors are not answerable,
POSTSCRIPT BY ANOTHER HAND.
As it appears by the conclusion of Theron's last letter, that he had not then received the inelancholy tidings of his dear friend Aspasio's death, no candid reader will object to him the absurdity of writing letters to the dead. And it will be an abuse upon the publisher of this piece, to suppose it is his intention to detract from the character of such worthy men as Mr. Hervey and Mr. Marshal, or to binder the perusal of their writings. In these, no doubt, he saw many excellencies; and was not insensible they might give a judicious reader not a little profitable entertainment, by the blessing of God. However, as he apprehended the truth, in some important cases, clouded by some unhappy mistakes, while he rejoiced in the former, he was willing to bear his testimony against the latter. And whatever honours are due to the memory of the just, if the doctrine of Christ, their Lord and ours, has suffered, or is liable to suffer in any measure, by means of their mistakes, that has an unquestionable claim to superior honours, and ought in all things to have the pre-eminence.
LETTERS AND DIALOGUES,
THERON TO ASPASIO.
New-Englund, Dec. 15, 1758. DEAR ASPASIO, News from your Theron, now in this remote corner of the earth, you will eagerly expect by every ship that sails from these parts. But what shall I write, O my friend! No pleasant walks, no beautiful gardens, no romantic mounts, my dear Aspasio, nor any other theme to entertain and to amuse, must you expect from me! Alas, I have been deceived ! My hopes, once high raised, are, I think, entirely gone. As the rush without mire, and the flag without water : so the hypocrite's hope shall perish*.
As I was walking in my garden, soon after our visit to Philenort, (which was, as I remember, about the middle of harvest, A. D. 1754,) musing on all your agreeable conversation, your fervent zeal, and how you urged me to believe. To believe what ? said I, to myself. To believe that Christ died for me. How, for me? thought I. Aspasio knows, I believe that Christ died for sinners. Yes, but he would have me apply that to my own soul; and believe Christ died for me. Aspasio knows, I believe that Christ died; that whosoever, according to the true sense of the gospel, believes in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. Is this believing in him? Is this justifying, saving faith? To believe I am one that he died for; one for whom he intended to pro
* Job viii. 11. 13. See Mr. Hervey's Dialogues, Vol. iii. p. 313. edit. i.-N. B. The first edition of Mr. Herv. Dial is referred to in this letter ; as Theron is supposed soon after the conversation at Philenor's, to bare experienced what follows.
Mr. Her rey's Dialogues, vol. iii. p. 262.