(Enclosed in the former.)
March 17, 1800.
GRACE and peace be multiplied to thee through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. I am very sorry to hear that the adversary of God and man has gained such an advantage over you. Satan is old in devices, and thou art but a young soldier; and I have no doubt but thou wilt see in time that the whole 'of this bustle at G. is his work. God is not the author of confusion. "This wisdom cometh not from above, but is earthly, sensual, and devilish; for where envying and strife is, there is confusion, and every evil work." James iii. 15, 16.
Your conduct with Mr. B. is unwarrantable by the word of God, and I hope that the Lord will let you see it. If brothers have a private wrong or injury in debate among them, they are in private to settle it; if they cannot, two or three more are to be called in; if these cannot, the church is to be informed of it; and he that neglects to hear the whole body is to be deemed an heathen. But nothing of all this is to be done from the pulpit. If a man get into heresy, he is to be rejected after the second admonition; and, if a member of a church sins openly, brings a public scandal upon the cause, and gives an occasion to the adversaries to speak reproachfully, he is to be rebuked before all, that others may fear.
I do not find any charge of error or immorality laid to Mr. B. and yet he has been pointed at from the pulpit. As to Mr. A. I think his conduct towards his friend has been scandalous: "He that has a friend must shew himself friendly; but he that renders evil for good, evil shall never depart from his house." I think Mr. B. is as far before him as Paul was before me; for never sure was any man more blind, nor more filled with legal bondage, than poor A. for he has leaven enough in him to leaven the whole lump, or to bring a whole church into perpetual bondage. Nor can there be a worse influence than the sour, bitter, swelling fermentation of pharisaic leaven. Our Lord cautioned his disciples against it; and well he might; fox no peace, rest, love, joy, gratitude, praise, or thankfulness to God, can live where that spirit reigns. It is a composition of guilt, wrath, fear, bondage, death, hardness of heart, pride, and unbelief; and these are all the ingredients that a soul in chains can communicate, and are all opposite to every branch of spiritual service, which are called "the works of faith, the labours of love, and the patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ: " and without charity (or love) a man is nothing but a tinkling cymbal.
Is it possible, friend L. that any man under heaven could be so blinded by Satan as to say that "the old man loves private prayer?" Do you know what the old man is? Adam's transgression is five times called the offence. Read Rom. v. God was offended with man for his disobedience, and, God resenting it, man became offended with God. The enmity of the mind is the main branch of the old man, even as love includes the whole of the new man. Read 1 Cor. xiii. And dare you or A. to say that enmity loves to commune with God? Your preaching and railing against private prayer is speaking evil . of the covenant of God, wherein he promises renewing grace and temporal supplies; but not one thing promised will he give us without prayer be used to bring it in. Read Ezek. xxxvi. 24-37.
To speak against prayer is to rail against the Holy Ghost, who is a Spirit of supplication. Under the law incense was to be offered morning and evening perpetually, Exod. xxx. 7, 8; and among the gentiles, under the gospel, "In every place (says God) incense shall be offered unto my name," Mal. i. 11. Not literal incense; for he that offers that is as abominable as he that blesseth an idol, Isa. lxvi. 3. Private prayer is meant.
The following assertion from your own pen is awful; I think it borders upon the great transgression. "And what do you think that barrenness consists of? It consists of all the works and labour of the flesh; such as prayer, reading, hearing, talking, thinking, wishing, longing, to be nothing but emptiness and without profit." I have obtained more from God by prayer in one hour than you have gotten from him in all your days. As to reading - it is Christ's command to "search the scriptures;" and "blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear, the words of the prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein," Rev. i. 8. And, as to hearing - "they that are of God hear God's word, and they that hear it not are not of God." And sure I am that some hundreds have been brought to Christ, and have had their pardon sealed, even by hearing me; and three thousand at one time by hearing Peter; so that there is profit in that, yea, great gain: and so there is in talking - for they that fear God speak often one to another, and God hears it, and remembers it, and says they shall be his "when he makes up his jewels." And so there is in thinking - "In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul," says David. And so there is in wishing - Elihu was, according to Job's wish, in God' stead. And so there is in longing - for God "satisfieth the longing soul, and replenisheth the sorrowful." To palm these things upon the flesh is awful. You confound things, and "darken counsel by words without knowledge."
Your letters to Miss B. are sad confusion; and stirring her up to be faithful to her brother (as you call it) is scandalous; it is sowing discord, and separating very friends, which God hates. Besides, I think Mr. B. is far before you, and A. too, according to your present conduct. Nor will God suffer such things as you advance to enter the hearts of them that fear God; they will never work effectually only in them that perish: those who love God will soon shun you, while such as are rotten at heart will cleave to you; and it must be so; for" those that wander out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead "not the living. I am afraid that God is discovering you, and A. too, and, before ever you are aware, you will both walk naked, and others will see your shame. "The works of the flesh are adultery, fornication, uncleanliness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance," &c. Gal. v. 19; and not reading and praying.
Your insisting that the closet is the heart, and faith the door, is not our Lord's meaning; a man cannot walk into his own heart; prayercomes out of the heart, and by prayer a man draws near to God. Christ is opposing the . proud scribes, who prayed in the corners of the streets to be seen of men; to which he opposes the secret closet, where none can see but God: and, as the world's applause rewards the former, God's grace shall reward the latter. The heart is called a palace, but never a closet. Nor have you any warrant from God to say that not all Mr. B.'s family, or any other family, shall be saved. The family of Lazarus, and I believe that of Philip, were all saved. When God says he "will take one of a city, and two of a family," the Israelites are meant, and not, a household; for a city consists of many hundred families, or households: but by family he meant a tribe, for one tribe had many cities.
Your conduct has caused me much grief, as it will open the mouths of all the enemies of God's power. I am sick of preachers. The Lord teach you better, is the prayer of