Epistola Ad Rusticum Apologetica -- By: Leonard Withington

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 018:70 (Apr 1861)
Article: Epistola Ad Rusticum Apologetica
Author: Leonard Withington


Epistola Ad Rusticum Apologetica

Rev. Leonard Withington

“They feared as they entered into the cloud.” — Luke 9:34.

You ask, my dear Rusticus, how the preacher’s life appears in retrospection. You are curious to know, how the creed we have chosen in youth is sanctioned by the aged memory that reviews it; you have mentioned it rather as an unhappiness that the ministers of the gospel are obliged to adopt their principles before they have been tried by experience; and that, in youth, they must take the vast responsibility of forming the systems which they may be compelled to disapprove when enlightened by age. You put the question to me, and ask me, how the two views harmonize: the view, with which I began the work of a minister; and the view with which I close it? You put to me a difficult question; but you shall be gratified. I will attempt to answer. I shall suppose myself to be asked three questions:

I. Why are you a Christian?

II. Why are you a Calvinist?

III. Why are you a moderate Calvinist?

As to the first question, I confess I cannot answer, with the

Rev. John Clarke, of Boston, “Not because I was born in a Christian country and educated in Christian principles; not because I find the illustrious Bacon, Boyle, Locke, Clarke, and Newton among the professors and defenders of Christianity; nor merely because the system itself is so calculated to mend and exalt human nature; but because the evidence accompanying the gospel has convinced me of its truth.”1 It is not the accompanying evidence that convinces me, so much as the intrinsic light of the gospel itself. Nor can I say that my being born in a Christian country has had no weight, or being educated in Christian principles. I look back with the deepest affection on the influence of Christianity which lay around the sunlight of my infancy. It made an impression on my heart which I do not wish to efface. Nor am I sure that it is not a legitimate argument. We judge of the divinity of the flower by its fragrance and beauty.

The gospel, to me, has been its own witness. The sun, when he arises, discharges two offices: first, to show his own glorious existence; and then, to enlighten and fertilize the world. So I see the proof of the gospel in its nature and use. The nature of the medicine is seen in its healing power. Certain passages of scripture have made a great impression on me, particularly Rom. 8:22–23, For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain...

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