A Feeble Dispute with a Wise and Learned Man
TO THE READER.
As Mr. Bramah asserts that my letter to him is no less than a disgrace to myself, and a publication of my own shame; and that many of my friends, to whom he has shewn it, are of the same opinion which letter, God knows, I wrote from principles of conscience; I find myself under the necessity of publishing the same, together with his excellent answer, and the whole of the correspondence that has Since passed between us. And I think there is nothing in my letters to displease a conscientious friend of Christ, or to disgrace a faithful and zealous minister of the New Testament, who is unwilling to be brought under the power of any.
As Mr. Bramah promises to print my illiterate letter verbatim as it stands, I have, in return, desired my printer to do the same justice by his proper and formal answers, that the wisdom and learning therein displayed may not be altogether lost to the world.
Church street, Paddington.
The Feeble Dispute, &c.
To MR. BRAMAH, PICCADILLY.
I WAS surprised at the eight-pound draft that you sent me, as I had made up my mind, and likewise charged Mr. and Mrs. Baker never to take a mite of you towards the house of God, because I always judged your religion to be unsavoury.
The foundation on which I build, the king of Zion whom I serve, the God that revealed himself to me and saved my soul, is not a created spirit, nor a demi-god, nor a god by office, nor a subordinate Jehovah, nor yet a creating instrument, nor a human soul pre-existing; but a divine He, that took a whole human nature on him, and made his soul, an offering for sin; who in his divine nature is the first and the last, the Almighty. If this article is lacking in your faith, your faith is vain, and you are yet in your sins; for, "If ye believe not," saith the Saviour, "that I AM, ye shall die in your sins." All God's children are taught of him; but these are none of his lessons. You got none of these instructions on your knees. This wisdom is not from above; nor do such persuasions come from him that called me. You got all these fables from men of corrupt minds; men with a bridle in their jaws, causing them to err; men given up to strong delusions, that they might believe a lie, and be damned; men before of old ordained to this condemnation, and ordained to deceive others; deceiving and being deceived. Before you occupy the seat of the scornful too long, let us have some account of Christ's teaching you, of his renewing you, of his cleansing you, of his healing you, proclaiming absolution to you, speaking peace to you, and taking possession of your hearts; shining into it, and filling it with life, light, and love. While you are a stranger to these things you art not a subject of the kingdom of God, for that stands in power; not in lies, nor yet in confusion. And until you are born again you cannot see this kingdom; and without an experience of the above things you will, you must, and you shall err, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God. And, if ever a divine power should reach your heart, you will not ascribe the glory to a phantom, much less to a vain imagination, or high thought of your own brain, that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God. Whenever the arrows of God's quiver enter a sinner's heart they bring all these high things down, and every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Then you will own, but not till then, that He, who rides in the chariot from conquering to conquer, is the Most Mighty, both in glory and in majesty. And, if you never acknowledge this in time, you shall in eternity, when his enemies shall lick the dust. If you choose to become an antagonist, you know where I live. My Master stands in no need of help from an enemy.
I have returned your draft, not daring to put it among the offerings of those who minister to Jesus of their substance; for men who offer must submit themselves to the Lord first, and then bring their offering, not to a human Saviour, but to the Lord of the whole earth. See Psalm lxviii. 30; Micah iv. 13. For my part, I love honesty; and. I cannot conceive how a man of such consummate wisdom as Mr. Bramah could send eight pounds to support a place and a preacher, whose religion and doctrine are nothing but deception, and serve him for nothing but ridicule; and, as it is plain that I have sowed no spirituals in his heart, I choose to reap no carnals from his pocket. Those that are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity, are not to be received in God's house, nor yet to be deprived of their property, because their money is to perish with them.
Your's in faithfulness,
truth, and honesty
To MR. HUNTINGTON.
I HAVE at last found leisure to inform you, that this day fortnight I received a very extraordinary Letter; it was not attended with either date or place of abode, and I assure you, sir, had it been without a signature too, the unequalled rarity of its contents would have been fully sufficient to have directed me to its author.
I must, sir, in the first place ask you, what authority you had for offering me such an uncommon, and unwarrantable insult, which you certainly must allow you have, and that without assigning any specific cause for so doing.
I am not able by any means to find out, nor am I willing to allow, that I have given you, by any of my conduct, any affront, either directly or indirectly, which can possibly justify your behaviour in committing such an enormous depredation on good manners, and the most necessary obligations which constitute society: nay, I will say further,
Your Letter is the most hostile, and most monstrous attack, ever fabricated by any person, except yourself, on a fellow creature, circumstanced as I am, in the whole world; or perhaps, on the annals of time itself.
And I am certain no man of sense, candour, truth, honesty or liberality, can for a moment be of a contrary opinion; I have showed it to sundry of my friends, and several of your's; who think with me to the uttermost in their conclusions.
And I assure you, sir, the aggregate opinion is, that you must, most certainly, have been either intoxicated, mad, or under the influence of Lucifer, when you took your pen to disgrace yourself; and your profession in such an unhandsome, unjust, untrue, and unaccountable way; and I do give you notice, that except you immediately make a suitable apology for having done so, I will certainly expose you as you deserve. I do not mean here to enter into any investigation or comment on the unmannerly, absurd, and illiterate contents of your epistle, but shall reserve that to a future time; when it shall, God willing, be done in a proper and formal manner, and I trust more to the honour of both God and man, than the example alluded to.
And you may take it for granted that I will not make my God, should he be a demi-god; into a common stalking horse, to my pride, and virulence of ill temper, as you do on all occasions; nor do I mean to skip about the scriptures like a cunning player on an instrument, or a Nimrod, to make God's word into weapons of scurrility; nor the abettors of a base and malicious spirit, in strewing firebrands of calumny and discord, as you are so very apt to do, both in and out of your pulpit. I have ordered your Letter to be printed verbatim as it stands, and as you have challenged me, to become your antagonist, I cannot desist, therefore mean to print and publish my answer; and you may depend on candour, truth, honesty, as you say, and a sacred attention to God's word: and I subscribe myself; a past, a present, and a future friend and lover of Joseph your steward, but never was, nor am, nor will be to King Pharaoh; and an admirer of truth.
[The following Letter was enclosed in the above.]
Piccadilly, 16th Nov. 1793, MR. HUNTINGTON,
HE that judgeth in a matter before he heareth it cannot be wise, therefore the Lord judge between thee and me; and the Lord avenge me of thee.
Wherefore dost thou devise mischief against thy brother, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee?
If I have done thee any wrong, let me be heard in the presence of two witnesses, that every word may be established.
Wherefore hearest thou men's words, saying Behold David seeketh thy hurt?
Wherefore doth my Lord thus pursue after his servant? for what have I done? or what evil is there in mine hand?
Now therefore, hear the words of thy servant; If the Lord hath stirred thee up against me, let him accept an offering: but if they be the children of men, Cursed be they before the Lord; for they have driven me out this day, from abiding in the inheritance of the Lord, saying, go serve other Gods. Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth before the face of the Lord: for the King of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains.
I have said in my heart, when Mr. Huntington's great swelling words reached me, that I must certainly perish one day or other by the hands of this great man; but I was soon revived by a still small voice, saying, fear not, for as the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle and perish.
The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth my hand against thee, as thou hast done against me without a cause.
Thou hast driven me from the habitations of peace, by rewarding me evil for my good, and for this wickedness I pray God thou mayest not have dimness of sight in thy latter end.
Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent man;
Which imagine mischiefs in their hearts; continually are they gathered together for war. The proud have laid a snare for me, and cords: but grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked; further not his wicked devices; and let the mischief of his own lips cover him.
Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth: evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him.
Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.
Mr. Huntington, it is an easy matter for a man to be clean in his own eyesight; but remember the Lord weigheth the spirits. And also that every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to him that seeth in secret. And although hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.
It is by mercy and truth that iniquity is purged, and not by flouncing about, and bolting out high sentences, which are by no means to the point in hand; for my own part, I wish first to understand and practise small things before I climb up to your height: and as you say about a bridle in the jaws, I wish that my mouth may always be kept in with a bit, that I may not offend with my tongue, rather than give that very mischievous member the liberty you too frequently do. You know, sir, that a divine sentence must always be in the mouth of a king, and when so, his mouth transgresseth not in judgment. The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out; and the lips of the righteous knoweth what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.
It is not, sir, your skipping about the bible for high words, about the divine He, the eternal Jehovah, and the like stuff; which will not at all convince me of the reality of your being one whom God has chosen to be his minister, nor even that you in any wise understand, in the smallest degree, those very mysterious but necessary points of Christianity, but should it be even in the affirmative, there is no room on that account for boasting, for what hast thou even then which thou hast not received? and if received, why boast as though thou hadst not received? who made thee to differ?
I know that fools' bolts are always ready, and soon shot, and his wrath is presently known, but a prudent man covereth shame.
Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.
A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the very heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness. People who would convince others that they are right in matters where revelation has left room for doubt, should always be careful to confirm, by practice in their own conduct, the principles they inculcate to others in theory: for I never could believe for my own part, that the golden pipes which convey the golden oil from the olive branch could properly be made the common drains of a dunghill, nor the loathsome spout of peevish rancour, persecution, and raillery, which I am extremely sorry to say, is too often the features of your pulpit. Does the Holy Ghost direct both blessing and cursing in one breath? No, says James, these things certainly ought not so to be: all the vessels of the sanctuary should be holy; and when these bursts of calumny and streams of petulance, and dregs of an unhallowed mind, do break loose, I think then is the time for a bridle to be put in the jaws.
It certainly never can be seemly for a teacher of the eternal word, and minister of the true sanctuary, to adopt a line of deportment in his pulpit, which would be a disgrace to him in his ordinary functions of life out doors.
I have ever thought it the duty of a shepherd of God's fold, to be feeding his own flock, and that with knowledge and understanding. And to be building up a people, such as God would accept, and such as with whom he himself would wish to spend an eternity with, when the strife of this vain world will be no more.
If this is your case, well, if not, God send it may be.
I remain, yours &c.
To Mr. BRAMAH.
I RECEIVED your kind epistle, in which you inform me that my letter to you is to be printed, with a suitable answer. I take the earliest opportunity of informing you that my letter is already in the printer's hands; which, with your answer, shall be printed at my own expense, and sent to you free of all charges.
To MR. HUNTINGTON.
Fellow Servants, or Brethren in Egypt,
IF Joseph is at home, pray let him read the contents of the enclosed to King Pharaoh; but if not, let it wait unread, till he, if he be yet alive in Egypt, return.
I am your's in peace and love
Canaan, just returned from Babel's captivity. Liberty the first year of.
[The following was enclosed in the above.]
God is love, Christ is peace, to be quarrelsome is none of the spots of God's children.
Piccadilly, 17th Nov. 1793,
I WAS duly honoured last night with your answer to my Letter; and I humbly thank you for your early attention to it. I assure you, kind sir, this is a mark of regard or of favour, I could not have by any means expected, much less merited from so great a man as Mr. Huntington.
But I am rather of opinion that this indulgence was more my chance than my fate; and that I am more indebted to Joseph the steward, than great King Pharaoh, for such kindness.
I confess, I expected that when Jehudi, or Jehu had read the roll, that the penknife and the fire would have been its fate, as it was with that of poor Jeremiah's. However, the king's fire on the hearth perhaps was not burning, or his knife not in his hand: but be this as it may, my letter has escaped the doom of many which has lately been received by this great king; this is known by his honest confession. Thus far, sir, I humbly thank you for this kind preference.
You inform me in the first place that you have ordered the letter, sent to me, to be printed: this is fully as wise a step, and will undoubtedly be as much to your credit as it was to write such a letter to a person you know so little of.
You are also extremely judicious in making yourself the plaintiff as it is always best so in a bad cause; but remember, sir, that in all courts of law, and more especially in equity, it is required, not only to make your declaration, but you must also state your case, produce your evidence, and prove your facts, or the facts you have complained of in such declaration: this, honest sir, I give you by way of friendly hint, or a caution that you may be on your guard, and not give direction to your printer to publish your own shame. For consider, sir, great things will certainly be expected from a person in your eminent situation, much more just things; and as I mean to do you all possible justice, both I, and the court in which this cause will appear, will no doubt expect the same, before you will be entitled to a verdict.
You are like most men who are fond of lawsuits and sending challenges, always conclude you shall come off victorious; but pray, good sir, be not too hasty in these matters, for your trial is not yet before the court of men, although it is before the court of heaven, which court is that to which I have made my appeal in this matter.
If your printer is your friend and an honest man, he will advise you as I have done, first to state, then to prove, and then direct him to publish to the world and to God, what were the real reasons or facts, on which you ground the accusations in your infamous letter of date. I think, sir, it would have been well for you, if you had sent me a sheet of paper all blank, rather than what you did send.
I am, Sir,
still your well-wisher,
P. S. You acquainted me likewise that you will answer all my letters if I write 10000. I pray sir, let these answers be such as will not wound God's cause, and disgrace you as your first has done; and I tell you again you had better feed your flock with the bread of life.
You say also, that you are not ashamed of your gospel; nor yet a shame to it: you did well in calling it your gospel, for I am certain was it the gospel of God, of peace, or of Christ, it would be much ashamed of this your conduct, and reprove you for it. I say again as a friend, be cautious what you both write and print, for your own, and God's sake, as you have not a novice to do with.
To MR. BRAMAH.
I HAVE received your extraordinary answer to my extraordinary letter. As to the date and place being omitted in mine, is of no consequence; my name is enough, with the contents of the letter, to convince Mr. Bramah who sent it.
You have long heard me in public insist that that ever blessed Immanuel, who manifested himself to me, and brought life and immortality to light in my soul, is, from everlasting to everlasting, God, in every sense of that great and terrible word, or name; which glorious doctrine, by God's help, I hope ever to defend to the utmost of my abilities.
You ask by what authority I have given you such an unwarrantable insult.
I have, sir, a commission to write in defence of truth; and if that be an insult, my authority and warrant are, First, from my Divine Master; Secondly, from the scriptures of truth; Thirdly, from the laws of my country, which give me a toleration; and Fourthly, from the articles of the national church, to which I subscribed. All these authorize me to contend for the faith of the saints to defend truth, and to stop the mouth of a gain-
As for such a Saviour as the Arians and Socinians talk about, I know nothing of. There is no such Messiah in heaven, nor yet in the bible; nor did any of the prophets ever preach such an one; nor did any of the righteous Jews ever expect such an one to come. The glorious God that appeared to Adam in Eden, to Abraham on the plains of Mamre, to Jacob at Bethel, to Moses in the bush, and to Isaiah on his throne, appeared to me also, as the searcher of hearts and trier of reins; and gave me the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of my sins. This ever blessed God and Saviour we know; but, as for all other saviours talked of by Arians and Socinians, we know not whence they be; nor do we believe that they have, or ever had, any existence but in the heads of unconverted men.
You have given me, sir, no personal affront. I know nothing of your character or conduct in life; and, as you stand not in church fellowship with us, I have nothing to do with these things. But, as you have twice mentioned a desire to join us in church fellowship, I was very observant, when in your company, of your conversation; and, upon the whole, found nothing of repentance, or that savoured of humbling grace. You had plenty of words, but they were not seasoned with salt; much talk, but little to the purpose; no experience, no power; consequently I found no union, and was determined in my own mind not to receive you into church communion with us, without some better discovery of a work of grace, or what the scriptures call a reason of the hope that is in them.
While doing the work of the chapel, you insinuated that you should give something towards the alteration, and would deduct it out of the bill when paid. This I endeavoured to prevent, by discharging your bill of eighty-two pounds at the time it was sent, and by desiring my dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Baker, not to receive a mite from you on that account. And for this reason; as I did not think I had ever sowed any spiritual things in your heart, I had no right to reap your carnal things. However, you afterwards called twice at Mr. Baker's, offering money; which was refused, agreeable to my desire. You then sent me a polite letter, with a draft for eight pounds enclosed; which I laid by, determining not to use it; for, as I disliked your religion, so I was resolved not to keep your money, or to lay myself under any obligation to you on that account. I therefore returned it, that you might receive damage by us in nothing.
You tell me that you have ordered my letter to be printed verbatim, which you intimate will appear to my shame. I would wish Mr. Bramah in this matter to please himself, only granting me the same liberty with his answers; which must, no doubt, do him much honour, they are so nervous, so correct, so pointed, so convincing, so establishing, so consistent, and so conclusive!
You say that, when I wrote to you, I was either intoxicated or mad, or under the influence of Lucifer. There is nothing in my letter that comes up to this evil report, nor do I believe it contains any thing but scriptural truth. But supposing it to be the effect of madness, then pray under what influence did Mr. Bramah write the following lofy expressions in answer : It is not, sir, your skipping about the bible for high words about the divine He, the eternal Jehovah, and the like stuff, that will not at all convince me,' &c. &c. If this is stuff, the bible is full of it. Let Mr. Bramah take care how he draws out a wide mouth and sports here; this is a dangerous ground for contempt. Is my asserting that Christ is a divine person, and the eternal Jehovah, the effect of madness or intoxication? If he is not God, what is to become of Mr. Bramah? No man can redeem his brother; no man can pay to God a ransom for him; no man can quicken his own soul; nor are we to trust in an arm of flesh, or in the son of man, in whom there is no help; vain is the salvation of man. The scriptures declare that the great Redeemer, who laid down his life a ransom for many; who quickens and raises dead sinners to life; who is the object of all the saints' hope, confidence, and trust; and who is the object of angels' and of Zion's worship, is God over all and blessed for evermore.
I struck at nothing in my letter to you but what I believe to be errors against Christ. I therein insisted that he is, touching his Godhead, a divine person, and the eternal Jehovah; which in your answer you daringly and impiously call stuff: I bless my God that there is not one farthing of Mr. Bramah's money in our subscription, that I am not one farthing in his debt, and that he is not in church fellowship with us; for sure I am that that man must be in the gall of bitterness who can lightly speak evil of the Godhead of Christ.
You inform me that you shall, at some future time, investigate and comment on my letter in a proper and formal manner, and that you mean to print and publish your answer. By which formal and proper investigation you seem tacitly to confess that the letters you have already sent me are not very proper and formal. Perhaps you may think them too improper to appear in print. However, as they are the only answers I have as yet received, I herewith present them to the public verbatim as they stand, leaving Mr. Bramah to publish my letters whenever he may please. In which I have only vindicated what I believe to be one of the greatest mysteries, and one of the greatest and most fundamental truths, in all the bible. I have not called Mr. Bramah a drunkard, a madman, nor yet 'one influenced by Lucifer'. I have not styled him a skipper about the bible, though there is a great deal of skipping in his letter; nor have I called him a cunning player, a Nimrod, a Pharaoh, a fool, or a man of a base spirit. All which epithets he has plentifully conferred upon me. And he is welcome to call me what he pleases; I shall never sue him at the law; being fully persuaded he knows not what he does, what he says, nor what he means. It is all done, I would willingly hope, in ignorance and in unbelief; otherwise he surely never could call the incommunicable name of the eternal Jehovah, stuff. Poor man! He makes a good patent lock, but cuts a sad figure with the keys of the kingdom of heaven. I mean the key of knowledge, or an experimental acquaintance with the Lord Jesus Christ; without faith in whom there is no coming to the Father.
You say that divine revelation leaves room for doubts! I always thought that divine revelation was intended to solve doubts, and that doubts about the greatest mysteries of God spring from man's ignorance, or the native blindness of his heart; and not from divine revelation. For sure I am, that if God, as Paul says, reveals his Son in a man, as he did in Paul, he will acknowledge, as Paul did, that Christ is the eternal Jehovah. Doubts, therefore, rise not from the room that divine revelation leaves; but from the blindness of the man to whom nothing has been revealed. And this Mr. Bramah will acknowledge, should God ever take the scales from his eyes. Furthermore, as the priests' lips are to preserve knowledge, and the people are to require the law at the mouth of such [and blessed be God, London is not destitute of such, if I am not one,] he would have acted the part of an inquirer in the way to Zion, had he tried this experiment; and it would better have become him than cavilling at my doctrines, and suffering his porter to do the same. All things are possible with God; and it is possible for God to use the weakest of his servants to solve the doubts of an honest and sincere inquirer.
The many scriptures you have quoted are so full to the point in hand that they will speak for themselves; only that the title of the King of Israel is by no means applicable to me, nor did I ever think that Mr, Bramah, who tells me that I have not a novice to do with, is a flea. Nor is there any danger of his blood falling by my hands; nor do I think that God will smite me for preaching what in my conscience I believe to be truth; nor that I shall descend into the battle and perish, seeing I am not in a military capacity, and aim at nothing but setting the minds of men right with respect to the great things of God, and the worship that he requires; and to separate the chaff from the wheat, the vile from the precious, and the poor earthworm from the heaven-born soul.
What Mr. Bramah is, with respect to his character or conduct in life, as a man, a tradesman, a neighbour, a gentleman, a husband, friend, master, or subject, I know not. In all these characters he may shine as a comet for aught I know; but he appears to be as far from any resemblance to a poor penitent, or broken-hearted sinner, as Jannes, Jambres, or Alexander the coppersmith.
You say that many of my friends, to whom you have shewn my letter, judge of it as you do; and that it was written under the influence of intoxication, or of Lucifer. Be it so, I am willing to bear that weight. But I humbly hope they will not judge so uncharitably of Mr. Bramah's kind answer to it; which expresses so high a regard to me for my work's sake. I thank you, kind sir, for all the cautions you have given me touching law, human courts, states, and proofs; especially for informing me that I have not a novice to do with; which is a thought that never entered my mind; for a novice, in scripture, is a young, green, raw, disciple of Christ; or an infant in grace, knowledge, or understanding: from all which charges I am in conscience bound to vindicate and for ever clear my friend Bramah; as I never thought him a disciple either of Christ or of Moses, nor yet instructed in any other wisdom than that of Egypt, or in the rudiments of this world, which are not after Christ, but Mammon.
You offer to give me a reason of your hope. I am fully satisfied about Mr. Bramah's religion without any such reason. In God's elect there must be an internal conversion; which will ever be attended with an external reformation, and a withering to the spirit and riches of this world; and where this inward change is wanting there can be no hope. Therefore I shall never require of Mr. Bramah such an impossible task; and, as he intimates that the gospel I preach is neither the gospel of Christ nor of peace, I think this assertion infers that I am by no means a proper person to judge of the hope he possesses and enjoys; to which I readily agree and subscribe, referring the decision to Samuel Buck.
To MR. HUNTINGTON. SIR,
I expected that your cooler reflections, with the advice of some of the wisest of your friends, would have produced a handsome and Christian-like apology for the affront you so rashly offered me in your Letter when you returned my draft. And, I assure you, had this been the case, no man on earth would have been more ready to have forgiven what might have been the result of hasty thought or the effect of misinformation. But I am very sorry to find, that you are so far from retracting, that you are making the rent worse by employing the choicest of your satellites in order to justify your bad behaviour, to circulate a report that I am swerved to Arian principles, &c. &c.
To this charge, sir, I know not how to plead, either guilty, or not guilty, being a total stranger to the word, and much more to the tenets of that sect, if there be such a sect. This being the case, I must beg as a particular favour that you will oblige me, previous to my entering into my defence, with a full description of the Arian system; and also your scripture authority for your very strenuous rejection of this doctrine. I will particularly thank you for this information, as it may serve to set me right, and rescue me from such a dangerous and fatal error as you seem to think it.
This, sir, as a lover of souls, I flatter myself you will readily comply with. And I must give you to understand, that I am far from judging myself capable of steering in this important course without a guide; but at the same time hope that my God will never suffer me to be led or driven out of the way of life by any false or blind one: therefore must hear your sentiments on the subject, previous to my drawing any conclusions, for the government of my future conduct.
If you wish to know on what foundation I build, as you say, I am ready to give a reason of the hope that is in me whenever you think proper to write me a letter which will admit of a pertinent answer.
But the incongruity of your present or first one, totally puts it out of my power to give you any specific answer, touching my principles of religion, notwithstanding I am, in my leisure moments, preparing, as you say, such an answer as it calls for.
And that I may be enabled in the attempt to keep under my Pharaoh is the humble prayer of your obedient servant and no enemy,
Piccadilly 27th Nov. 1793,173
To MR. BRAMAH.
I HAVE received your very candid epistle with all its honourable proposals: but must tell you that neither scripture nor conscience will suffer me to accept of them. I find neither precept nor precedent to authorise or compel a servant of Christ to apologize for preaching against a damnable heresy, or for rebuking a scorner in his chair, even though he should get to himself a blot by so doing. He that has God's word must speak it faithfully; "What is the chaff to the wheat?" Yea, he must take forth the vile from the precious, or he cannot be as God's mouth, nor speak as his oracles. Neither the wisest counsels nor the coolest reflections are to bring the righteous to fall down before the wicked. This, saith the wise man, is a troubled fountain and a corrupt spring, Prov.
Your demand, of a handsome and Christian-like apology for sending back your draft, appears to me unreasonable. Every man is at liberty to receive or to refuse a present when offered, especially a believer in Christ, who is taught that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Besides, "The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination, how much more when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?" Abraham made no apology to the king for refusing the spoils of Sodom. He did it to cut off occasion from him that sought occasion, that he might not say, I have made Abraham rich. Nor did Peter make an apology to Simon Magus for refusing his kind offer; for Peter well knew what Gehazi got by making a penny of his master's miracles. That no man upon earth is more ready to forgive than Mr. Bramah, is an assertion I can by no means disprove, though I am too slow of heart to believe one word of it. Besides, sir, I crave no forgiveness, knowing that God has put enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent: between the children of the flesh and the children of God. Nor did Christ come to send peace here, but rather division; yea, a sword and a fire; and what will he do in the end, if it be already kindled? The sinner that God chooses out of the world is to be hated of the world; yea, hated of all men for the Lord's sake. Here can be no real love, no real fellowship, nor union, between these parties. Where God has put enmity, who can make reconciliation? and where he has declared war, who can make peace? It is a truth, found both in scripture and experience, that "an unjust man is an abomination to the just; and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked."
I cannot, without deceit, say that I condole you in your third assertion: that you are very sorry to find me so far from retracting, that I am making the rent worse, by employing the choicest of my satellites, in order to justify my bad behaviour. As for retracting, I believe there is not one word contrary to the scriptures in all my letter, therefore I cannot retract, nor act so base a part as to betray the Lord's flock into the hands of a wolf, or into the grin or gin of a lie.
You tell me, in your former epistle, that the contents of my letter are absurd and illiterate; which I cannot deny; especially when I have to deal with so learned, so wise, and so judicious a penman. For what you can mean by making the rent worse, where there never was either union, harmony, or friendship, I cannot understand. But that which puzzles my best judgment, confounds all my senses, and at once destroys all my vain notions of human learning, is to know what you mean by my employing my choicest satellites in order to justify my bad behaviour. I have heard that there are four little diminutive stars, called satellites, which always attend the planet Jupiter in his wonderful revolutions; and that there are five satellites, which revolve in consort round the planet Saturn in the same manner. But then this knowledge is too high and too wonderful for me. I have no life guards, no stars, nor the brilliant attendants of planets, in my service, nor to be employed by me. God has made every thing beautiful in its season; and every thing shines brightest when it moves in its own sphere, and in its own order. God made the sun to rule the day, the moon and stars to rule the night; and he makes choice of the foolish among men to confound the wise; and I believe the foolish of this world, and not a star, sufficient, under God, to entangle the wise in his own craftiness, and to bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent; especially such as Mr. Bramah, who, it is to be feared, is wise above what is written.
But you charge me with making choice of my satellites to circulate a report that you are swerved to Arian principles. God forbid that I should ever presume or attempt to command or employ the attendance either of Jupiter or Saturn in any such business. And so far am I from charging Mr. Bramah with swerving from any religious principle, that I never perceived, when in his company, nor did I ever hear by report, nor did the thought or idea ever enter my mind, that one real religious sentiment, notion, opinion, Or principle, ever inhabited either the thought, head, or heart of Mr. Bramah, since he has been in this world. And on this account, sir, I charged my invaluable and, ever-beloved friends, Mr. and Mrs. Baker, never to take a mite of you towards the expense of the alteration of the chapel, even should you offer fifty pounds. Therefore let not Mr. Bramah impute this iniquity, of circulating a report that he has changed his religious principles, to me, as I never conceived that he possessed any such thing. I therefore utterly deny this charge. But this assertion of mine you frankly acknowledge, for you tell me that to this charge you know not whether to plead guilty or not guilty, being a total stranger to the word, and much more to the tenets of this sect. This honest confession, sir, I really believe; and shall never attempt to refute it. That you are an utter stranger to Arianism, Socinianism, and Sabellianism, I doubt not; and so are all who hold such tenets; and so I think you are to an application, to an unctuous experience, to a clear view, to the divine power, to the happy enjoyment, and to the actuating influence and sin-subduing energy, of every truth of the everlasting gospel.
But to comply with your request, that I should give you a particular description of the Arian system, and also my scripture authority for so strenuously rejecting that doctrine, is what divine revelation lays me under no obligation to do. I shall leave the devil to do his own drudgery, unless you choose to assist him. If Mr. Bramah would know the depths of Satan, he must go to the minister of Satan, false doctrines are to be had of false prophets: besides, he is acquainted, I have been informed, with a certain prophet of the grove, who, it seems, has predicted a millennium that is to commence in three years, and such a millennium as never had, nor will have, any existence but in his brains. To the venerable Samuel Buck I would recommend friend Bramah; for he must be deeply skilled, or he would not be able to ridicule almost very doctrine I have advanced.
As to rescuing Mr. Bramah from error, it is a work not to be effected by me. If God gives a man up to a strong delusion, there is no rescuing him. God shuts up a man, and there can be no opening. Nor can I indulge the least hope of that man's salvation who can trifle with any of the glorious persons of the ever adorable Trinity, or call such things, stuff. Such must be carnal men indeed, having not the Spirit; knowing nothing but what they know naturally, and therefore speak evil of the things they understand not. Natural men, and men of the world, can know nothing savingly of any one of these three persons. "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee." And the Saviour declares that the world sees him no more, but the saints see him, and because he lives they shall live also. And of the Holy Ghost, the world cannot receive him, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but the saints know him, for he dwelleth with them and shall be in them. I must beg of Mr. Bramah not to call these things, stuff, as he has in a former letter. Men of the world, who are buried in it, and who are heaping up a portion in this life, can know nothing experimentally of God. If a man loves the world, or the things of the world, how dwelleth the love of God in him? Is not the friendship of this world enmity with God? He that is a friend of the world is the enemy of God. There is no serving God and mammon. They that will be rich fall into divers temptations; into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition." Vital godliness, and an insatiable thirst for worldly riches, never can dwell together in one heart; for where a man's treasure is there will his heart be also. Can he have his heart in heaven, and his treasure among the true riches there, who is scraping so many thousands together here? "What shall it profit a man, could he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" A man who is immensely rich, and still labouring after more; a man who thus loads himself with thick clay; is an Arian in every sense; for though he profess to know God, yet by his worldlymindedness he denies him. Christ has declared, and the scriptures cannot be broken, that, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." When salvation comes with power to a sinner's heart, as it did to Zaccheus, the love of money is cast out, and he is taught to covet earnestly the best gifts, and be contented with food and raiment. But perhaps friend Bramah overlooks these scriptures now, which on a death-bed he may more perfectly consider.
You tell me you are preparing such an answer to my letter as it calls for. You are welcome, sir, to prepare and publish what you please concerning me. I shall take no offence at it. When it is seen that Mr. Bramah is redeemed from among men; when he is chosen out of the world, and separated from it; when he ceases to be actuated and influenced by the spirit of it; when he is crucified to it, and that to him; then, but never till then, will it appear that the grace of God reigns in him. May God grant that this may be the case. Amen.
Church street, Paddington,
I0 Dec. 1793.
P. S. If you publish 10,000 letters, I will answer them, if God permit.