LETTER - TO THE SAME.
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My dear L.,
You have communicated to me several letters, that you have written to your friends, and I much approve of the spirit in which you have written them. Only I must repeat, what I have often said, have a care of too much eagerness to set other people right, lest it lead you too far from home, or too much exhaust that breath, which is to keep up the strength of your own inward life. I believe you understand me.
You want a remedy, to prevent the growth of suicide, and madness. They are not to be remedied by an new way of setting forth the folly, and extravagancy of them. When the fruit is evil, there is no remedy, but in putting the root of the tree in a better state.
Pride, is the father and mother of suicide and madness. Would you have a share in removing these evils, you must not cast about for high speculations, there is but one step to be taken, and that is, to show the necessity of dying to pride, and seeking for salvation only in humility. JESUS CHRIST is the only peace, and rest, and satisfaction of human life.
This is absolute, and admits of no exception. St. John the Baptist was the true preparer of the way toCHRIST; if you think of any other way, it is labor lost. This point is absolutely determined whereCHRIST says, “They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them. If they believe not Moses, nor the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one arose from the dead.”
Miracles and demonstrations, you see, are in vain, till Moses, and the prophets are believed.
Now Moses is sin, made known by the Law, and the prophets, are faith and hope in God. And these two things must have their state, and work in the soul, before it can have any benefit fromCHRIST and his miracles. If you would therefore give some check to the growth of suicide and madness, it cannot be by attacking them in themselves, or speaking to the unreasonableness of their particular nature, this is as useless, as a miracle to him, that heareth neither Moses, nor the prophets.
And this proves the truth, of what has been so often asserted, of the importance of apprehending the fall of man, in its true and full depth. For to hear Moses and the prophets is in reality only this, viz., man become truly sensible of his impure, and fallen nature, and looking up to God to be delivered from it. Then, whether he has, or has not, ever seen the Bible, he is a true believer of Moses and the prophets, is that lost sheep, that is sure of being found, that weary and heavy laden, that must find rest and refreshment inCHRIST.
It matters not therefore, my friend, what you are upon, whether you would save a man from deism, debauchery, or suicide, you must begin in the same place, from one and the same ground, and this as unavoidably, as every fruit must have its beginning from the root, and from the root in its right state.
The amiableness of any virtue, or the horrid nature of any vice, whilst only considered as in themselves, are but as pictures set before our eyes, and have no other effect upon us. And this is the unprofitableness of all moral instructions, whether heathen, or Christian.
If you can help a man to seek, and find, and know himself, and his real relation to God; to know that he has neither inward, nor outward evil, but because he has lost his true state, and place in God; and that therefore nothing can be his peace and happiness, but his first divine life, or nature quickened again in him, then you have done all that you can for him, whatever his malady is. But enough of this.
Dear Soul, Adieu.
Aug. 4, 1753.