To Richard Morgan [2]

March 15, 1734.

SIR, -- A journey which I was obliged to begin very soon after the receipt of yours was the occasion of my delaying so long to answer it, which I should otherwise have done imme­diately. I am satisfied you never designed to give me any uneasiness, either by your last or any of your preceding letters, and am very sensible that the freedom you used therein pro­ceeded from a much kinder intention. And should you ever say anything which I could not approve of, I should as soon as possible mention it to you as the only sure way either to prevent any misunderstanding between us, or at least to hinder its long continuance.

As to your son's being a member of our little Society, I once more assure you with all plainness that, were you as much for it as you appear to be against it, I should think it my duty to oppose it to the utmost. I do not conceive him to be any ways qualified for it, and would as soon advise one of his dispositions to go and convert the Indies as to minister to his fellow Christians in the manner wherein my dear friends by the grace of God endeavor to do.

I have over and over pressed him to cultivate his acquaint­ance with Mr. Batteley, [See letter of Jan. 31.] and several other gentlemen of Christ Church, whose characters I am well acquainted with, though little or not at all with their persons. I have seen an answer from Mr. Hulton of Chester to his letter concerning the greyhound, which I hope we shall very shortly have an oppor­tunity of returning to him. Mr. Morgan constantly attends public prayers, nor do I know that he omits private, or willfully runs into any known sins of commission; and I trust he never will.

Whether a person who goes thus far, who uses public and private prayer and avoids sins of commission, be a good Christian, is a question which you beg we may drop for the future, because it is not your province to determine it. Alas, sir, you ask what I have no power to grant. When both the glory of my Savior and the safety of your soul so loudly require me to speak, I may not, I dare not, I cannot be silent, especially when I consider the reason you give for my being so--viz. that it is not your province to manage this point of controversy. No! Are you not, then, in covenant with Christ? And is it not your province to know the terms of that covenant? 'This do, and thou shalt live,' saith the Lord of life. Is it not your business to understand what this is? Though you are no divine, is it not your concern to be assured what it is to be a Christian? If on this very point depends your title either to life or death eternal, how shall I avoid giving you what light I can therein without the deepest wound to my own conscience, the basest ingratitude to my friend, and the blackest treachery to my Master?

The question, then, must be determined some way; and for an infallible determination of it, to the law and to the testimony we appeal: at that tribunal we ought to be judged; if the oracles of God are still open to us, by them must every doubt be decided. And should all men contradict them, we could only say, ' Let God be true, and every man a liar.' We can never enough reverence those of the Episcopal Order. They are the angels of the Church, the stars in the right hand of God. Only let us remember he was greater than those who said, ' Though I or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel than that ye have received, let him be accursed.'

Now, the gospel we have received does in no wise allow him to be a follower of Christ, to do his duty to God and man, who is constant in public and private prayer and avoids sins of commission. It supposes there are such things as sins of omission too. Nay, it is notoriously evident that in our Lord's account of His own proceedings at the Great Day there is no mention of any other. It is for what they have not done that the unprofitable servants are condemned to utter dark­ness. O sir, what would it avail in that day could you con­front our Lord with five thousand of His own ambassadors protesting with one voice against His sentence, and declaring to those on the left hand that He had never said any such thing: that He condemned them for omitting what He had nowhere required them to do; that they were faithful be­cause they were only unprofitable servants; that they ought to be ranked in the class of good Christians because they had only broken all the positive laws of Christ; that they had done their duty both to God and man, for they had prayed to God and done neither good nor harm to their neighbor. For God's sake, sir, consider, how would this plea sound? Would it really be received in arrest of judgment? or would the Judge reply, ' Out of thy own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked and slothful servant! Did I require nothing to be done, as well as to be avoided? Was an eternal reward promised to no-work? Were My positive laws no laws at all? Was the pattern I set thee negative only? But thou hast done thy duty to God at least, for thou hast prayed to Him! What didst thou pray for? For My Spirit to help thy infirmities? For strength to tread in My steps? For power, not only to avoid all sin, but to fulfill all righteousness? Didst thou pray that thy righteousness might exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees? -- might not rest in externals, but be an inward vital principle? Didst thou pray for a clean heart? for the renewal of thy mind? for a right spirit duly conformed to My image? Didst thou pray for a soul continually ardent to do My will on earth as it is done in heaven? If thou prayedst for anything short of this, or if praying for this thy heart went not along with thy lips, thou prayedst as a fool or an heathen prayed; and thy prayer itself was the greatest of thy abominations. If thou didst pray for this power which I had promised not to any particular order but to every one of My disciples earnestly desiring it, why went not thy endeavor along with thy prayer? Be­cause great men, the chief priests and eiders, said it need not? Whom, then, oughtest thou to have believed, Me or them? Behold, I had told thee before: obey God rather than men. Thy blood be on thy own head.'

Whether divines and bishops will agree to this I know not; but this I know, it is the plain word of God. God everywhere declares (x) that without doing good as well as avoiding evil shall no flesh living be justified; (2) that as good prayers without good works attending them are no better than a solemn mockery of God, so are good works themselves with­out those tempers of heart from their subserviency to which they derive their whole value; (3) that those tempers which alone are acceptable to God, and to procure acceptance for which our Redeemer lived and died, are (i) Faith, without which it is still impossible either to please Him or to overcome the world; (if) Hope, without which we are alienated from the life of God and strangers to the covenant of promise; and (iii) Love of God and our neighbor for His sake, without which, though we should give all our goods to feed the poor, yea and our bodies to be burned, if we will believe God, it profiteth us nothing.

I need say no more to show with what true respect and sincerity I am, dear sir,

Your most obliged and ever obedient servant.

[This closes the important Morgan correspondence. It is pleasant to add that after a time Richard Morgan was led to take a different view of religious matters. John Gumbold says James Hervey's easy and engaging conversation gained the young man's heart to the best purpose. Charles Wesley tells his brother Samuel on July 31, 1734: ' Mr. Morgan is in a fairer way of becoming a Christian than we ever yet knew him ' (Priestley's Letters, p. 16). When the Wesleys sailed for Georgia, Morgan bade them good-bye at Gravesend and helped to carry on their work at Oxford. He wrote to Wesley in i735 expressing an earnest desire to go to Georgia, but returned to Ireland, where he married Miss Dorothy Mellor, and settled in Dublin, He was called to the Bar, and was associated with his father in the office of Second Remembrancer of the Court of Exchequer, which became his exclusively on his father's death in 1752. Wesley visited his ' old friend' on July 15, 1769. See Journal, viii. 264, 268; Crookshank's Methodism in Ireland, i. 12; W.H.S. iii. 49; and letter of April 28, 1775.]

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