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TO MR. JAMES RHINE.
Winchester Row, 4th June, 1784.
letter is brought to me, and indeed it should have been sent to me at first, as I was the person who wrote the letter concerning you. But perhaps you had your private reasons for this step:
You begin your letter thus: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God, that God in all things may be glorified.” I will in this letter prove to you, that
do not speak as the oracles of God; consequently he is not glorified. You say, you are called upon to give an answer of the reason of the hope that is in you. If any man gives a reason of the hope that is in him, he should tell us how this hope held him up, as an anchor through all the storms of life, and give an account of the quickening power of the Spirit, who formed Christ in his heart, as a lively hope of glory. The joy likewise that attends this hope; “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God," saith Paul. To give a reason of a man's hope, is to tell how he came by it, and what the experience was, that wrought this hope in him; for it is experience that worketh hope;" also who the object is that he hopes in, and what the truths are that he grounds his hope upon. Christ formed in the heart is a hope of glory within, and through the mediator they hope in the Father. They shall set their hope in God, says David, for he is the object of hope. “Remember thy word unto thy servant,” says David,
upon which thou hast caused me to hope:” there is the foundation of his hope. And now, sir, give me leave to refer you to the 26th chapter of the Acts, where Paul gives a reason of the hope that was in him. You will not be displeased at this, because your letter expresses, that a man ought to speak as the oracles of God, that God may be glorified. In Acts the 26th, Paul says, “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our Fathers; for which hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.” Here Paul is accused for his hope; and he stands to be judged for his hope; and now his business is, to give a reason of the hope that is in him; and let us see how he does it. First, Paul tells them what a sinner he was by nature, and how he persecuted the preachers of the gospel, and did things contrary to the name of Jesus. Secondly, He tells them how he was enlightened by Christ the true light, and thus delivered from darkness. Thirdly, How the word of Christ came with power to his heart. Fourthly, How Jesus appeared to him, to make him a minister, and a witness of all that he had seen, mark that; he was to be a minister of the things which he had seen. Fifthly, He obtains a promise that Christ would appear to him again, and that Paul should be a witness, and a minister of the things which Christ would reveal, when he appeared again. Sixthly, He receives a promise of Christ's protecting and delivering grace. Seventhly, He is to preach that glorious change, which was wrought in his own heart, and no other. I send thee to open blind eyes, says Christ, as I have caused the scales to drop from your's; to turn people from darkness to light, as I have turned you; and from the power of Satan unto God, as Christ had turned him : that they might receive an inheritance among them that are pardoned, and sanctified, by faith that is in Christ. Thus Paul gave a reason of the hope that was in him mark that, that was in him. And then he goes on to the warranted foundation of this hope within him; which is, the hope or testimony experienced, and left upon record by Moses and the Prophets. “Having therefore,” said he, “obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets did say should come; that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead;
and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles,” Acts xxvi. 9–13.
But perhaps you may object, and say, all are not taught as Paul was. To which I answer, they must all be enlightened as well as Paul: “Whoso believeth on me,” says the Saviour,“ shall not abide in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” All must hear Christ's voice as well as Paul; "My sheep,” says Christ, “hear my voice, and they follow me.” They must all be taught of Jesus as well as Paul. It is written, “All thy children sliall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be their peace.” All must see Jesus, as well as Paul; “ And he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him ; we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” Thus, sir, I have shewed you what it is to give a reason of the hope that is in a man, and of God's word, as a warrant for faith, and a foundation for hope, upon which we build our expectations of heaven and glory. And now I am willing to appeal to any righteous man, or even to your own conscience, in God's sight, whether or not I have spoken in this letter agreeable to the oracles of God.
Now, sir, you call yourself a child of God, as well as Paul. You appear in the character of a gospel minister, as well as be: you say in your letter, God is your reward and rewarder; and that you are called upon to give a reason of the hope your let
that is in you, as well as Paul. If you read the 29th chapter of Isaiah, and 16th verse, you will find, turning things upside down is esteemed of God as potter's clay; and afterwards the prophet goes on to shew what experience the righteous have, which begetteth hope within them. The deaf shall hear, the blind shall see, the meek shall increase their joy, and rejoice in the Holy One of Israel, ver 18, 19. Now, I think you, in ter, have begun where the apostle Paul left off; and thus your house stands on the chimney: this is turning things upside down indeed! and I think, sir, if you will compare your letter to God's word, you will be humble enough to own, that you have not given a reason of a good hope within you, nor even how you came by it; nor have you
have any hope at all. Your hope seems to be without, even in the bible only, but not in the heart, as an anchor of the soul. Surely you cannot call this, speaking as the oracles of God, or giving a reason of your hope, as God's witnesses have done, and as all his witnesses ought to do. Give me leave to recite the reason which you have given of your hope within; and I think you begin thus: 'I am called upon to give an answer of the reason of the hope that is in me.' Now, let us see how you answer your call. Then you go on; 'I therefore tell you, that it was not from either Luther or Calvin.' That is, you did not receive your hope from either of these men,