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MR. HORNE'S PREFACE.
The name of the venerable Mr. FLETCHER, in. scribed on this volume, will introduce it to the perusal of many ; and its own intrinsic worth will, I flatter my. self, entitle it to the approbation of proper judges. Thus I am relieved from the pain of soliciting for it the notice of the Public, and giving it that commendation which will better become any other person than the Editor. It may, however, be expected that I should give some account of my Book, and I conform the more cheerfully to general custom, as it affords me an opportunity of conciliating the candour of the Reader.
This book is truly Mr. FLETCHER's. A large part of the Letters is transcribed from the originals, others from authentic copies, and some from a small Collection of Letters, published a few years ago in Dublin. For the Letters on the Manifestation of Christ, and the Fragments, I am obliged to Mrs. Fietcher : The first are in the author's own manuscript, the last copied by Mrs. Fletcher from some of his old pocket-books. The Pastoral and Familiar Letters, are written from the period of Mr. FLETCHER's conversion, to within a few days of his decease. When the Letters on the Manifestation were written, or to whom they are addressed, I cannot learn; but from the beginning of the first letter, the decayed state of the manuscript, and the extreme smallness of the character (which could scarcely have been legible to the author in his latter years) I judge them to have been the first essay of a genius afterwards so much admired. The fragments, of which some appear as the thoughts of the day, others as notes of sermons, bear date the first few years of his ministry.
If, therefore, any part of this volume, however excel. lent, be deemed inferior to the more mature productions of the same admirable pen, it is hoped that candour will have at least as much weight as criticism.
The Reader is farther requested, to remember that the pious author wrote only for himself and his friends ; that these sheets want his perfecting hand; and that the Editor thought himself entitled to take no liberties.
It is not ected that Mr. FLETCHER's reputation as a writer, will receive new lustre from these Post. humous Pieces : But, if the many friends, who revere his memory, find edification and delight in perusing his apostolic letters; if any whose opposition of sentiment would not allow them to converse with him as a polemic Divine, shall now receive him to their breasts as a Christian brother; if any who have not reaped the rich harvest of his former writings, are benefited by the gleanings of the field ; and if the world in general is made better acquainted with the virtues of this excellent man; all the ends proposed by their publication will be obtained, and the Editor will think himself justified in giving them to the press.
That the benediction of the Almighty may attend these last labours of his servant, that the reader may imbibe the spirit of the author, and that myself and all my fellow-labourers in the Gospel, may emulate his faith and work in the Lord, is the earnest desire of
When I had the pleasure of seeing you last, you seemed surprised to hear me say, that the Son of God, for purposes worthy of his wisdom, manifests himself, sooner or later, to all his sincere followers, in a spiritual manner, which the world kuows not of. The assertion appeared to you unscriptural, enthusiastical, and danger
What I then advanced to prove that it was scriptural, rational, and of the greatest importance, made you desire I would write to you on the mysterious subject. ' I declined it, as being unequal to the task; but having since considered, that a mistake here may endanger your soul and mine, I sit down to comply with your request: And the end I propose by it, is either to give you a fair opportunity of pointing out my error, if I am wrong; or to engage you, if I am right, to seek what I esteem the most valuable of all blessingsrevelations of Christ to your own soul, productive of the experimental knowledge of him, and the present enjoyment of his salvation.
As an architect cannot build a palace, unless he be al. lowed a proper spot to erect it upon, so I shall not be able to establish the doctrine I maintain, unless you allow me the existence of the proper senses, to which our Lord manifests himself. The manifestation I contend for, being of a spiritual nature, must be made to spiritual senses ; and that such senses exist, and are opened in, and exercised by regenerate souls, is what I design to prove in this letter, by the joint testimony of scripture, our church, and reason.
I. The scriptures inform us, that Adam lost the ex. perimental knowledge of God by the fall. His foolish attempt to hide hin self from his Creator whose eyes are in every place, evidences the total blindness of his understanding. The same veil of unbelief, which hid God from his mind, was drawn over his heart and all his spiritual senses. He died the death, the moral, spiritual death, in consequence of which the corruptible body sinks into the grave, and the unregenerate soul into hell.
In this deplorable state Adam begat his children. We, like him, are not only void of the life of God, but alienated from it through the ignorance that is in us. Hence it is, that though we are possessed of such'an animal and rational life, as he retained after the com. mission of his sin, yet we are, by nature, utter strangers to the holiness and bliss he enjoyed in a state of inno. cence. Though we have in common with beasts, bodily organs of sight, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling, adapted to outward objects ; though we enjoy, in com. mon with devils, the faculty of reasoning upon natural truths, and mathematical propositions, yet we do not understand supernatural and divine things. Notwith. standing all our speculations about them, we can neither sec nor taste them truly, unless we are “risen with Christ and taught of God.' We may, indeed, speak and write about them, as the blind may speak of colours,
and the deaf dispute of sounds, but it is all guess-work, hear-say, and mere conjecture. The things of the Spirit of God cannot be discovered, but by spiritual internal senses, which are, with regard to the spiritual world, what our bodily external senses are with regard to the material world. They are the only medium by which an intercourse between Christ and our souls can be opened and maintained.
The exercise of these senses is peculiar to those who are born of God. They belong to what the apostles call the new man, the inward man, the new creature, the hidden man of the heart.' In believers, this hidden man is awakened and raised from the dead, by the power of Christ's resurrection. Christ is his life, the Spirit of God is his spirit, prayer or praise his breath, holiness his health, and love his element: We read of his hunger and thirst, food and drink, garment and habitation, armour and conflicts, pain and pleasure, fainting and reviving, growing, walking, and working. All this supposes senses, and the more these senses are quickened by God, and exercised by the new-born soul, the clearer and stronger is his perception of divine things.
On the other hand, in unbelievers, the inward man is deaf, blind, naked, asleep, past feeling ; yea, dead in trespasses and sins; and of course, as incapable of perceiving spiritual things, as a person in a deep sleep, or a dead man, of discovering outward objects. St. Paul's language to him, is, “Awake thou that sleepest, arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.' He *calls him a natural man, one who hath no higher life than his parents conveyed to him by natural generation -one who follows the dictates of his own sensual soul, and is neither born of God, nor led by the Spirit of God.
The natural man,' says the apostle, “receiveth not the things of the Spirit, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiri. tually discerned.' He has no sense properly exercised for this kind of discernment, “his eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into his heart,