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that we are justified by a penitential reliance on his blood and righteousness. In rejecting the most fundamental doctrine of the gospel, the vicarious sacrifice of Christ, they appear to me to deny the very essence of christianity. Their system is naturalism, not the evangelical system; and therefore, much as I esteem many individuals among them, I feel myself necessitated to look upon them in the same state, with respect to salvation, as professed infidels.
I am concerned, truly concerned, to find you speaking in terms so extremely disproportioned to my merits. While I feel myself gratified by the esteem of the pious and the able, praise so intemperate, I must confess, brings to my mind most forcibly the mortifying recollection of my own deficiencies. I remain, with much esteem, Your obliged Friend and Servant,
Leicester, April 10, 1816. My esteem for your character is such, that it is impossible for me to differ from you in opinion, or decline complying with your wishes, without considerable pain. I feel that pain on the present occasion. I am truly concerned to find your purpose is to
form an auxiliary society at Bristol, to have public days, &c. &c.; being deeply convinced of the truth of that axiom of our Lord's, that “ the kingdom of God cometh not with observation;" or, as Campbell translates it, “ is not ushered in with parade.” The Baptist Society has prospered abundantly, with the blessing of God, under a different management; and the unobtrusive modesty of its operations has been one of its strongest recommendations. That society has done much, and said little; it has shewn itself in its effects, not in its preparations. I am much grieved that it is about to relinquish that praise, and to vie with [others] in the noise and ostentation of its proceedings. It reminds me of the fable of the frog and the ox. * * * * *
Why should we at last imitate what we have so long condemned? Why should we attempt a competition in a point of view in which we are sure to appear to a disadvantage ? The expense of collecting ministers from remote places is not small; and, supposing their expenses to be borne out of the public fund, (and the situation of few allows them to travel at their own expense, it will, I fear, more than counterbalance the pecuniary advantages resulting from the efforts at publicity. I have serious apprehensions that the ostentatious spirit which is fast pervading all denominations of Christians, in the present times, in the concerns of religion, will draw down the frown of the Great Head of the Church, whose distinguishing characteristic was humility. He did “not strive, nor cry, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.” I am persuaded nothing can be more opposite to your own disposition than such a mode of proceeding, on which account I am the more surprised you should be induced to lend it your sanction. There appears to me a very simple and efficacious mode of supporting the Baptist Mission, without noisy appeals to the public. Let every baptist minister make an annual collection in his congregation, and apply to his more opulent members and hearers besides, for their annual subscriptions; and all the money will be raised which ought to be raised by our denomination. With respect to others, the success of the mission, attested by its periodical reports, will not fail to make the right impression. The best auxiliary societies, in my humble opinion, that can be devised, are already prepared to our hands in regular, organized churches, and in the certainty of meeting some hundreds of professing christians every sabbath-day. I hope, my dear brother, you will not be offended with the freedom of these remarks. Were I to consult my inclinations, an excursion, in the pleasant month of July, to Bristol and to Wales, would be highly gratifying; but, from the consideration I have suggested, I must beg leave absolutely to decline your kind invitation. I do exceedingly deprecate the precedent about to be set at Bristol.
Your advice respecting my intended publication came too late. It was already in the press. I hope it will do no harm, if it does no good. I think the question of very considerable importance, and the abettors of free communion have been too languid in their exertions. I intend, my dear Sir, no personal reflection; but mention it as a general remark.
Leicester, May 27, 1816. -- I read the letters of Mr. Fuller, on Robinsonianism, with much delight and approbation on the whole; but I think he has, as he was rather prone, carried the matter too far. For my part, I am far from believing the innocence of mental error on the one hand, or the sinfulness of every particular error on the other. I suspect that there are religious mistakes, which result from the circumstances and the imperfections of the present state, for which many good [men] will never be called to account; though I am far from supposing this extends to a denial of the great distinguishing principles of the gospel. On this occasion, I am disposed to adopt the old adage, In medio tutissimus ibis. The letters are admirable for their piety, and their masculine vein of reasoning.
With respect to Scotland, I must absolutely decline it. I have been already five weeks absent from my pulpit, on account of illness; and it would be extremely injurious to my congregation,
to incur so long an additional absence. In truth, I am little fitted for distant excursions, on account of my liability to be attacked with such violent pain, which renders me a burden to myself and to all about me.
TO DR. RYLAND. (EXTRACT.)
June 19, 1816.
- I sympathize, most sincerely, in the joy you must feel, as a parent, from the baptism of your daughter. I hope and pray you will ultimately have the pleasure of seeing all your children walking in the truth. I already begin to feel the spiritual interests of my dear children a frequent source of painful solicitude. Let me beg an interest in your prayers, for their conversion.
TO THE REV. JAMES PHILLIPS.
My dear friend Phillips, Leicester, May 12, 1816.
It is long, very long, since I had the pleasure of seeing or hearing from you. For the latter I can account, in some measure, from the displeasure you conceived at my treatment of your servant, who, at your request, called upon me in the way to Harborough. I do freely confess myself