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baving rejected the Gospel, and their being dispersed everywhere; I concede, I say, that the Jews of this earth may be looked upon as the shadow of those who are spoken of in the Bible ; (no more than a sbadow I should surmise, and not a true emblem of them, since it cannot be proved that the great circumstances that happen inwardly to the Scriptural Jews, from the moment that Moses is sent to them, and under his successors, have ever occurred outwardly to the ancestors of our Jews;) but I could never admit that they have been the real people and the Sons of God, because, as I have already expressed, I believe it is not possible to reconcile such a notion with the tenour of the Sacred History. If the old Jews had been such, it would seem to me, from Rom. 11, that their now-existing posterity would be that people still, though in a degraded condition. Should that be denied of them on any grounds, then those who would dispute it must grant either that there has been no such thing as a people of God for the last seventeen or eighteen centuries; or that the whole of the denominated Christians has been that people, (as the whole of the Jews is supposed to have been); or only a part of them, according to the opinion of some.
Allow me, Theopbila, to ask you whether there is anywhere a circumstantial, authentic account of a society having existed in ancient or modern times, that had received a full intelligence of Christ's doctrine, and wbose faith and works were quite in conformity with it, and where are now the men of whom it might be justly said, these are the people of God; these are become the Sons of God, by receiving Christ into their heart, and believing on his name; these are born of the water and of the Spirit; these are the true disciples of Christ; the faithful and persevering followers of his doctrine; these serve not two masters; they are no longer the slaves of the spirit of the world; their souls are subjects, and kingdoms, and temples, only of God? Where is the society called Christian that has not many institutions that tend to promote vanity and pride, and that are in absolute contradiction with the simple and bumble spirit of the Nazarene who is entirely consecrated to God? Where is to be found the man of whom it can be said, with undeniable propriety, this is a Christian indeed, one who is led only by the Spirit of God, bearing witness that he is one of the children of God, (Rom.8. 14,) and producing in him fruits of holiness, and by him miracles that testify that the Holy Ghost is descended upon bim, as well as on Christ's Apostles? I imagine that you will be surprised at my doubt that a real Christian could be met with among us; but let any one who thinks himself such, and whose most sincere wish and intention are to obey Christ; let him enter his closet, and, the door being shut, let him take the Gospel, with the humility of a person who is willing to present himself before that judgement-seat of Christ, and to try himself by it; let him open it anywhere, and read with attention and reflection, what will happen to be before his eyes; let bim privately examine himself about it with impartiality, and ask himself, do I believe this? (2 Cor. 13. 5.) Do I believe it enough to conform my conduct to it, as a true Christian ought to do? Do I not rather excuse myself from following it strictly, under some pretence or other? Do I not lean in preference towards the notions of this world that are more indulgent to my passions, and do not oppose and condemn me in many things, as the Gospel does? Do I, in obedience to it, observe but the will of God? And I suspect, if he has any candour, that he will confess within bimself that he is not, as a Christian ought to be, led entirely by the spirit Christ; no more than the souls of our Jews are guided by either of the spirits Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Judges, David, Solomon, Prophets ; and that he has not the faith of a real Christian, though he may be accounted a good Catholic, Protestant, &c. a well-meaning, religious, most respectable man, according to this world. I surmise also that he will perceive that, in thinking himself so great a personage as a Christian, I mean an enlightened spiritual philosopher, in whom the spiritual mind and the human mind, or the spirit and the flesh, are by Christ's doctrine reconciled and united together (Eph. 2. 15, 16), and with one accord work for the glory of God and the good of the neighbour; he will perceive, I say, that he is as much deluded as the Jews of old were, when they imagined that they were the peculiar people of God: though they never had in themselves any of the superior spirits that alone can constitute and manifest that great people. Then with the eyes opened on the condition of his soul, let him part with the specious opinions and systems of this world that had misled him in the way of salvation ; let him resolve to take the Scripture for his only guide ; let him follow, the best he can, Christ's precepts ; praying for assistance, and for the intelligence of them : and I have no doubt that the more he will do it, the more he will learn of the truth, and will be convinced that before he had been erroneously informed, and that he was not a worthy Christian. I hope also that he will see that it could not be otherwise, since he had not been gradually brought up to the understanding of the Gospel, and to faith in it, by the instructions contained in the Old Testament (Gal. 3. 24), which he will perceive to be, unless of an extraordinary favour from above, Acts, 2. 17.-4. 31.-9. 3.-10. 44.-19. 6. an indispensable step and preparation to the intelligence of the New : so much so, that without it, nobody can, I believe, thoroughly understand and receive the whole of the New. But though none of the systems that are called Christian appears to me to be positively the púre religion of Christ, and though they seem to me, from their being partly founded on a literal understanding of the Sacred Books, so imperfect that no man has any chance of becoming a thorough Christian by them, still I think that they are eminently advantageous to us in our present condition; and that, in their acknowledging Christ as the Light of the world, they are exceedingly preferable to those that reject his heavenly doctrine, and aim not at his holiness, virtues, and perfections.*
* It appears to me, from the New Testament, that none are made Christians, but Jews and Gentiles : from which I am inclined to conclude, that it is absolutely necessary to be either, before one can become a Christian. By Jews I mean the Scripture Jews, or the people of God, those who will receive a new life from Abraham's philosophical and righteous knowledge united with Sarah's spiritual knowledge, which I look upon as being an emblem of the spirit of the New Covenant, Gal. 4. 22, &c. Those whom I should consider as imperfect spiritual philosophers, of various degrees ; as persons who have cir. cumcised or stript themselves of some of the vanities of the world, and
I have been told that there are persons who, having meditated on the recent and present state of this world,
are partly led by faith in God, and still partly trusting in human works, more than in the goodness of the Omnipotent; philosophers, who have, more or less, of the spiritual and of the philosophical knowledge ; and who, in their study of good and of evil, will give the preference to the knowledge of good over that of evil. By the Gen. tiles mentioned in the Holy Writ, I understand the great, but only human, nation, (Gen. 17. 20,) that will come from Abraham's philosophy, and that called Agar, or that which is to be learned from the first covenant, I understand, I say, the worldly philosophers, who will be unacquainted with the circumcision of the heart, and careless about it; who will be uninstructed in the spirit of the law, (Rom. 2. 13, 14,) the mere children of the flesh or of humanity; (8.5.-9. 8) which follow not after righteousness ; (9. 30. Eph. 4. 17,) who will be acquainted only with the knowledge of good and evil, and deeper in that which is apt to gender pride, and to prompt one to judge the defects of others, in preference to condemning one's own; deeper, I say, in it than in that wherein there is simplicity and humility; phi. losophers, whose confidence will seem to be entirely in the unfruitful works of darkness, (Eph. 6. 11); but, however, who will be partly prepared for the reception of Christ's high, eternal doctrine, by what they will have acquired of Abraham's philosophical knowledge ; and who will be by it in the way of becoming, with further instructions, Christian philosophers, dead to the pride and vanity of the world; whose regenerate faith and hope are but in God, and whose works, both in spirituality and in humanity, are according to Christ's precepts. Besides Ismael's sons, (Gen. 25. 13, 14, 15, 16,) I take for Gentiles also the souls whose knowledge will proceed from Keturah's human knowledge, (Gen. 25. 2, 3, 4,) and from the generations of the mundane spirit Esau, (ch. 36.) I think that, before their conversion, they will be, from want of the right faith, very inferior to the real Jews, but in point of philosophical knowledge far above the children of chaos, whose present diversity of opinion respecting good and evil, may be looked upon as a proof that in their discernment between right and wrong, they are not guided by any correct information, any steady principle, any well-settled rule, but rather by the prejudices of the