Memoir of the Rev. Samuel Green

1836

Memoir of the Rev. Samuel Green Storrs, Richard S. (Richard Salter), 1787-1873

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Storrs, Richard. Memoir of the Rev. Samuel Green, 129–39. Boston: Perkins & Marvin,1836.

MEMOIR OF THE REV. SAMUEL GREEN LATE PASTOR OF UNION CHURCH. BOSTON.

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BY REV. RICHARD S. STORRS.

——

BOSTON:

PUBLISHED BY PERKINS & MARVIN.

PHILADELPHIA: HENRY PERKINS

——

1836.

The following letter will show the vigilance and tenderness with which he followed the members of his flock into any of those by-paths, contrived by the adversary to decoy the disciples of Christ from the “narrow way,” and lead them “through a land of deserts and of pits, a land of drought and of the shadow of death,” downward to perdition. The delusions referred to are those of Mormonism. The influence of this communication on the individual addressed was kind and salutary, if not entirely convincing.

“Dear Madam,—I think it is nearly three years since God in his holy providence brought me acquainted with you and your dear husband. From that time I have felt a peculiar interest in you both; I have had great hope that God had marked you for his children, and that salvation was about to come to your house. I thought I perceived from the teachable state of your minds, and the attention you gave to God’s holy word, that the Holy Spirit was enlightening you and drawing you to the foot of the cross; and when I was informed, in a far distant land, by a letter from Dea. G., that your dear husband was decided for Christ, and propounded for the church, I blessed God in my soul and said, another of the beloved [129] sisters of my church has prevailed with God, and prayed her husband into the kingdom of his dear Son.

“Though the great Head of the church has seen fit to close my lips and lay me aside from the blessed employment of feeding his sheep and his lambs, as I formerly was permitted to do, and in which my soul found a heavenly delight; still my pastoral feelings are the same, and my solicitude to know that all the members of the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made me overseer, are walking in the faith and order of the Gospel. Be assured my hopes of you and Mr.—— are high; not only that you will have grace to train all the dear young immortals which the Lord has intrusted you with, but that you will be great blessings to the whole church, and spread far around you a wise and holy influence.

“Now, dear madam, I feel persuaded the Lord will enable you to take in good part and with much prayer, what I may communicate by letter, as he doth not allow me at present strength to converse with you face to face, which, indeed, if it were permitted, would give me great pleasure. I think I know something of the deceitful workings of my own heart and of the hearts of others, have not unfrequently been called to contend against the devices of Satan. Oh how many the ways he takes, and the forms he assumes, to lead the dear lambs of the flock away from the fold of Jesus! sometimes darkening their minds, distressing them with doubts, and plunging them into hopeless gloom; at other times assuming the garb of an angel of light, concealing for a time the plague of their own hearts, and raising their joys and hopes almost to the skies; and sometimes, as in the days of the apostles, weakening their faith in Scripture, and by various artifices turning their attention therefrom to those fables which administer any thing but humility and godly edification.

“I cannot believe, dear madam, that your covenant [130] Lord will suffer you to be led into erroneous views, to an extent which will materially endanger your soul, because I cannot but view you as one of our beloved sisters in Christ Jesus; and all such he has promised to ‘keep from the evil.’

“Yet, I must acknowledge to you, I feel greatly concerned on account of the new views I understand you have embraced. I doubt not you are very conscientious in them, and suppose yourself herein to have been led by the Spirit of God. But, my dear friend, we must not receive every spirit, but try the spirit, whether it be of God. How multiplied are the delusions of the heart, and of the world! Perhaps my experience is somewhat more extensive in these delusions than yours. The strongest minds may be carried away with them, for it is written, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

“I may not meet all your difficulties, as my account of them is probably imperfect; but as I have met with persons in various places where the Lord has led me in his holy providence, maintaining similar views to theirs who have made an impression on your mind, I trust God will enable me to suggest something which he will bless to your case.

“I will suppose they attempt to turn off your mind from the Bible, or any part of it, or to weaken your confidence in it. Then you may know they are not of God, and it will be fearfully displeasing to God to listen to them for a moment, however plausible they may appear, or whatever forms of sanctity they may assume. On this point, the authority of the great God is distinct and decisive. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. Shall we not reverence that which God has inspired? How did the Psalmist feel towards this holy book? ‘Oh, how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.’ When in the days of Isaiah, the people sought to them [131] who uttered pretended prophecies, that prophet sternly rebuked them, and said, ‘to the law and the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.’

(Isaiah viii. 20.)

“I will suppose that, in order to give a gloss to the new revelations which they bring, it is alleged that they do not contradict the Bible, but are in accordance with it. But are they in accordance with the Bible? Look well to that point. Does the Bible sanction ALL they teach?

“Now these pretended revelations and visions are either true or false. If false, then those who believe them as revelations, build upon the sand; in the words of the Bible, ‘they believe a lie,’ and what will be the awful consequence? But if it be said, they are true, and as much visions and revelations from God, as those contained in the Scriptures; then demand the evidence. That God who hath said, ‘ try the spirit,’ ‘be not deceived,’ commands you to look for decisive proof before you receive any thing as a revelation from heaven. And this proof, must be nothing short of a plain and decisive miracle, if you would not greatly offend God, and deceive you own soul.

“Neither you nor I can receive any new revelation, without clear miraculous proof.

Moses, Elijah, Elisha, as well as Christ and his apostles, all wrought wonderful miracles, which were open to the inspection of many witnesses, and by which they confirmed their divine messages. And Christ plainly informs us, that his inspired followers should confirm their doctrines by even greater miracles than he himself wrought. See John xiv. 12; also Mark xvi. 17, 18. Say then, to these pretenders, Where is your miracle? What dead man raised to life? What sick restored by a word? &c. You bring us your vision, your revelation, but I see not the seal of [132] my God upon it. For my soul I dare not receive a word of it. Do they tell you that your happy feelings, and the belief of your entire sanctification, which these new revelations have imparted, are proof? Does God rest his eternal truth on such an unstable foundation? Is it an evidence of God’s truth that it teaches guilty man to believe himself perfectly holy? that it exalts man with an imaginary notion of his own goodness? Oh, can such fruits be the seal of God’s testimony?

“But I have another objection, the express authority of God. Says, John (2 epistle, verses 10, 11.) ‘If there come any unto you,’ no matter with what pretensions to piety, ‘If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.’ Mark,—it is this doctrine, which the apostles taught: if they brought any other, any additional doctrine, (for if additional, it was another,) they must not be countenanced for a moment.

“And Paul is still more solemn in his warnings, for he says, ‘If we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed.’ Yes, let him be accursed who brings ANY OTHER gospel, though he comes clothed with the appearance of an angel of light.

Observe these words well. God has himself pronounced the sacred canon complete, and where is the presumptuous mortal that shall dare to gainsay the words of the everlasting God. The Holy Ghost, by the mouth of John, closes up the sacred canon, and seals it with these awful words:

‘For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him of the plagues that are written in this book.’ I do not know, my dear friend, how words could be more express. Those who bring any additional revelation, do certainly pretend to [133] add to the words of God. If they deny the charge, they do but attempt to deceive you with vain words.

“Again, I will suppose they attempt to evade the charge of this awful presumption, by alleging that certain portions of the Bible have been lost or expunged by the Papists. This pretext is without the least foundation, and no man, possessing the slightest acquaintance with ecclesiastical history, would make it. If any man should assert such suppression or loss of any material portion of holy Scripture as a pretext for some new revelation which he had found or received, I should know him, from this fact alone, were there no other means of detecting him, to be a gross imposter. And for the following reason. There were numerous and full copies of the Bible, with precisely the same books and parts which our Bible contains, translated into a great variety of languages, within the four or five first centuries of the Christian church; and these were read in churches thousands of miles beyond the power and influence of the church of Rome. The pope did not come into power till about the sixth century. All the Greek church, which embraces, besides Greece, all the great Russian empire, and is older than the Roman, has ever protested against many of the errors of the Roman church, and has never come under the authority of the pope; so that it has ever been utterly out of his power to alter their copies of the Bible. The same may be said of Armenian church, planted in the heart of Asia as early as the third century. So of the Coptic church in Egypt, the Abyssinian church in the north-eastern part of Africa, and of some others. When, in the eleventh century, the pope sent the Jesuits to explore and convert the Abyssinians to the papal religion, they drove them from their country, and have not allowed a papal emissary to enter from that day to this.

“Now, all these have their distinct and entire copies [134] of the holy Scriptures, delivered to them by the apostles or early Christians; copies, which you readily see, the pope has never had power to mutilate or touch. Most of these churches have very ancient manuscripts sacredly preserved. There is now a manuscript of the whole Bible in the royal library of London, procured a few years since from the Coptic church at Alexandria, believed to have been written as early as the third century. Dr. Buchanan, in his eastern researches, found one in the Syriac language nearly as old. Our Bible has been compared, and recompared, with these various manuscripts and copies, and found to exactly agree in all material points; indeed the correspondence of all these manuscripts brought from distant portions of the globe, and in different languages, is truly wonderful. These things, dear madam, I know to be facts, and I praise God for condescending to give us such overwhelming testimony to the integrity of this blessed book, the light of the world.

“God did, therefore, at a very early period, so distribute abroad over the face of the earth, and place in the hands of distant and opposing divisions of his nominal church, and in some cases, in the hands of his enemies, complete copies of his holy word, that any material corruption or loss, without immediate detection, was rendered absolutely impossible.

“I might speak of the claims to Christian perfection, which are sometimes made by such men, and into the fancied attainment of which they flatter their followers. But I cannot think that any person, taught the plague of his own heart by the Holy Ghost, and who considers the feelings of holy Job, after being purified in the furnace of affliction, when he exclaimed, ‘I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee, wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes;’ [135] of Isaiah, when God’s purity was revealed, and he said, ‘Wo is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips!’ of Paul, when he said, ‘Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’—can dare to fancy himself other than a poor polluted sinner before a holy and heart-searching God. Dare any of us presume to be better than Job, Isaiah, and Paul? Oh no; the more grace, the more knowledge of our sinful hearts we have, the more shall we feel humility and self-abasement. ‘If any man saith he hath no sin, he deceiveth himself, and there is no truth in him;’ is the testimony of him who knows what is in man.

“Should I learn, my dear friend, that you had been so far deluded and led away from scriptural views of your own heart; as to fancy yourself entirely sanctified, and so already arrived at higher attainments in grace, than prophets, apostles, and martyrs, I should be alarmed and distressed beyond measure. I should ask, Is it possible that the work of delusion and self-deception in dear Mrs.——, has gone so far already! I should lift up an agonized cry to my God and say, Oh, rend the veil from her deceived heart! Awake her from these self-flattering dreams!

Rescue her from the hands of these dangerous foes, lest she go on not knowing it is for her life, till a dart pierce through her soul!

“I could say much more, my dear friend, on these and other points, if health permitted. I pray God to make these few suggestions, written under bodily infirmity, profitable to your soul, and promotive of your eternal good. The divine Spirit alone can relieve our minds from confusion, and open them to feel the power and loveliness of truth. Be assured this pretending to have received messages direct from heaven, and this persuading people that they are free from sin, and so puffing them up with their fancied attainments till they feel raptures of joy, is an old [136] device, practised hundreds of times since apostolic days, both in Europe and America, to the confusion, ultimately, of those who were deceived thereby. Our Lord warned his followers against false Christs and false prophets, who should come with lying wonders, and all deceivableness of unrighteousness. The church has ever been tried with false pretenders rising up here and there. It has not fallen in your way to see but a small part of what the providence of God has brought to my knowledge respecting such men. I could tell you many things in relation to such deceivers which would startle you. (See 2 Cor. ii. 13—15.)

“And now, I pray you to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free, and be not entangled in any yoke of bondage. If you do, I am confident you will mourn over it in the end. Remember it is comparatively but a little while since you commenced the Christian race.

Will you forsake your pastor and those dear Christian friends who have borne the burden and heat of the day; who love you, and have long prayed for and with you?—For whom? Persons about whose character you can know but little. Will you forsake the ‘sure word of prophecy’ to which God says, you ‘do well to take heed,’ to follow that which bears not the seal of heaven?

Ah, it is by the Bible the BIBLE, that we are to be judged at the great day.

“ ‘We ought, therefore,’ says the apostle to the Hebrews, ‘to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest by any means we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation? which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him, God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and divers [137] miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost.’ (Heb. ii. 2—4.) You will observe from this passage also, that God bears MIRACULOUS testimony to all those whom he sends with express revelation from heaven, he ‘bears them witness’ with ‘DIVERS MIRACLES,’ &c.

“And let me beg of you, not to place too much confidence in your frames and feelings; these must not be substituted for a moment, as evidence in place of the Bible. The Holy Spirit teaches us not to measure ourselves by ourselves, or by others, but by God’s eternal standard. I never dare to place confidence in feelings of great peace and joy, without looking to their foundation and fruits. Are they accompanied with deep self-abasement, and entire reliance on the blood of Christ for pardon, as an unworthy sinner; and does my joy lead me to bind the Bible closer to my heart, to love the sanctuary, prayer, and the dear children of God? If not, away with it, the sooner destroyed the better; it is false, and will end in bitterness and death.

“I must again assure you that I write these things to you in love to yourself and your dear husband and children. I entreat you as an old friend, as your pastor, and in the name of that God before whom we must both shortly appear, to put away all these notions which bear not the touchstone of divine truth. By my infirmities the Lord has called me, during the year past, to converse much with eternity; I hope it may be his good pleasure to permit me again to preach his glorious gospel; but were I never to preach again, and were these my last words to you, I would warn you to turn your back on all these temptations and delusions. In the end you will most assuredly find them the troublers of your soul, and like those, who, in the days of the prophets, cried, ‘Thus saith the Lord, when the Lord had not sent them, neither came it into his mind.

Return and inquire where are [138] the old paths and the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest to your souls.’ We all stand with open arms to welcome you back. Your dear brothers and sisters of the church, with whom you took sweet counsel and walked to the house of God and the meeting of prayer, in company, still remember you in their prayers, beseeching the Lord to preserve you in this day of your trial, shine into your soul, and bring you to enjoy with them again the sweets of holy Christian intercourse.

“I am, dear madam, your pastor and sincere friend in Christ Jesus our Lord, S. GREEN.”

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