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fure "more uncharitably than Dr. Stebbing. This is a fine Excuse for Mr. Whitefield, an admirable Vindication of his Innocence ; 'tis just as plausible aa Excuse as a Criminal would make in a Court of Justice, by laying he was not the only Offender. As for Mr. Whitefield's Assemblies, view them before and after the Harangue, and I fancy 'twould be no Slander to call them Tumultuous : But as most of his Audience, I persume, come out of Curiosity to hear a Man of Mr. Whitefield's Fame, that same Curiosity muft induce them to be Silent whilst the Speech lasts, otherwise they would be disappointed.
Concerning FASTING, I think, and I believe all the Minifters of the Church will allow, Dr. Stebbing we know does, that 'tis very Commendable, as far as 'tis a help to Devotion, and is consistent with our honest Concerns of Life; but 'tis no where enjoin'd as neceflary to Salvation. But by Mr. Whitefield's boasting of the frequent Observation of it in himself
, it seems as if he thought it so. And should People be perswaded to believe that a frequency of it, and such a constant heat of Devotion was necessary, 'tis hardly probable but that many Families must suffer by it. Mr.Whitefield, he tells us, "is as much for Rule and Order as Dr. Stebbing, “ but does not cant upon the common String of Priestly Authority,anduninterrupted Succession.” This is expresling Mr. Whilc field's Thoughts of Church Government in very light Terms, and seems very strongly to intimate, that he agrees with it whilft it is confiftent with his Humours and Notions, and no longer; and his Field Preaching, his Rambling like a Knight-Errant in queit of Adventures, his intruding into oher Mens Labours, as if they knew not how to preach the Golpel, does not express any great regard for Order, Rule, or Decency.
To his lait Objection I answer, That no Man of the Church of England imputes any Merit to human Actions, but nevertheless theyare indii. pensably necessary Conditions to Salvation. The Fountain of our Happiness is the Mercies of God; the Means by which it is deriv'd to us, the Sacrifice of Christ; the Condition on which we are finally to enjoy it, Faith. in every Person of the Holy Trinity, and every Article of Divine Revelation, with a pious and virtuous Practice built on such a Faith. He that is conscious to himself of Sincerity in this Faith and Practice, is in a State of Salvation, and cannot poslibly miss of it, if the Scriptures be true, tho? he does not sensibly feel the Motions of the Spirit within hin. To enter into a particular Proof of this, tho' to a reasonable Man I think it needs none, is more than my present Design will admit of; and indeed, Mr. Urban, I believe that what I have already wrote, will require more room in your Collection than you can well afford me: I therefore conclude myself your humble Servant,
Holderness, Sept. 24. 1739. A
S no Person has been more talked of here of late than Mr.Whitefield,
so there is no Person concerning whom People have been more divided in their Sentiments about him. From your Magazines * and his firit Journal (for I have not read his other Journals or his Sermons) I learn, that he is a Clergyman, educated in the University, that he was
Qrdainda * See Vol. IX. p. 233, &C
Ordaind by one of our Bishops, that he preach'd in many Pulpits in London with great Applause, and was much admired by serious People of all Denominations ; that he went to Georgia with a design to instruct, not only the Colony, bnt the native Indians, in the great Concerns of their Souls and Eternity; that while on Board he took uncommon Pains in Catechising, Praying, Preaching, Expounding, and visiting the Sick, without any prospeá of Reward ; that being return'd for Prielt's Orders, and deny'd the Pulpits in and about Town, he was forc'd to exercise the Gifts God had bestow'd on him for the good of Souls, in Church-yards, Fields or Commons; that he preaches no novel Doctrines, but such as are consonant to the Scriptures of Truth, and to the Articles of the Church of England; that the chief scope of his Preaching is to turn Men from a vicious course of Life, and to make them good and holy, telling his Hearers, that no Wboremongers, nor unclean Perfons, nor Drunkards, nor Thieves, nor Covetous, nor profane Swearers, nor Murderers, can be admitted into God's heavenly Kingdom ; but must, without a seasonable Repentance and Amendment, go to a Place a Court-Preacher dares not name, for fear of affrighting his Auditory, and being thought Unpolite and Ill-bred ; and that many vicious and profane Persons, by attending his Ministry, have been visibly reformd.
From this Account of Mr. Whitefield, I confess, I had entertained very favourable Thoughts of the Man, and was ready to bid him God speed. But of late your Magazines inform me, that most of the Clergy, both the Dignified and Inferior, violently oppose him, and agree to deny him their Pulpits; that they call him a Calvinist, an Enthusiast, and an Hypocrite ; that they reproach him with sometimes using extempore Prayers, like the Diffenters, with being Righteous over-much, and recommending both in his Preaching, and by his Èxample, Austerities which few caắ practise.
Now I must confess, Mr. Urban, I was sorry to find these things laid to the Charge of a Man I was ready to think was designed by Providence for a publick Blessing. Is there any dangerous Error which he holds, or any secret Vice which he indulges, tho' not yet publish'd to the World, that is the Cause of that violent Opposition he meets with from Persons devoted to the same holy Ministry with himself? I have waited, Month after Month, to see something of this kind charged upon him : But the Silence of his Enemies upon these Heads is a sufficient Vindication both of his Orthodoxy and his Moral Life.
Surely Perfons that have taken upon them the holy ministerial Ofice, can't be suppos'd to envy his great Success in his Master's Work! Doe's his Self-denial, his unwearied Labours for the good of Souls, make those Blush who indulge themselves in Luxury and Idleness? Charity wou'd hope there are not many of this number, - not many who are afraid of being Righteous over-much.
But to come to the Accusations brought against Mr. Whitefield: As to his being an Hypocrite, that I am no Judge of; but God is, who will judge both him and those who accuse him. And when I hear of his dancing a long Attendance, bowing and cringing at a great Man's Leves, until he has got some fat Preserment in the Church, then putting in a aeedy Curate to perform all his Duties in his fead, and starving him by
whose Labours his Grandeur and Luxury are maintain'd, it may then be foon enough to call in question his Integrity.
As for his preaching in the fields, and using extempore Prayer, if they admit him into their Churches again, perhaps he will leave them off.
Does he enjoin a too great Strictness and Self-denial? That is so rare an Error in our Days, that a moderate share of Charity may cover it. Few Auditories live up to what they hear; therefore if his fall a little short, they may make excellent Christians. When the bent of the Nation is to too much Looseness, bending Men a little the other way may be a means to make them ftrait.
I shall not contend with the Disputers of this World, whether Mr. Whitefield be justly chargeable with Enthusiasm or not; but am afraid that the Deists of the present Age may make a bad use of such a Charge, and be ready to call that noble Spirit which influenced the primitive Christians to deny themselves, to devote their Lives to painful and useful Services, to bear up bravely under Reproaches and Sufferings, and to despise Death itself, a Spirit of Enthusiasm.
Do our Clergy acknowledge that it was by a supernatural and divine Afiftance St. Paul and the other Apostles were carried through their painful Labours, and bore up under their heavy Sufferings ? And do they own that Mr. Whitefield denies himself of Ease, and Rett, and Pleasure; that he is Sober, Chaste, and Temperate; that his Life is exemplarily Pious ; that he is abundant in Labours for the good of Souls; that he has despised Dangers, travelled into distant Climates, and exposed his Life among savage Indians for the sake of saving their Souls ? And will they say that he has been influenced to all this by a Spirit of Enthusiasm? Wou'd to God there were more of the same Enthusiasm in all the Clergy sound about us! we fou'd not then see them so oft in Taverns or Ale. houses, at Horse Races, at Gaming Tables, or spending whole Nights at Cards. Then they would not content themselves with coldly reading once a week only a inoral Lecture of 15 Minutes long, without speaking one Word of God or another World, from Sunday to Sunday. But we should find them, more like the primitive Clergy, frequent in Prayer, pathetick in Preaching, grave in their Behaviour, sober in Life, and pious and exemplary in the whole of their Conversations.
I wish, Mr. Urban, there were more of this Enthufiasın in me and youz it wou'd make me a better Man, and you a better Author ; your monthly Performances would be Magazines of Loyalty, Truth, Virtue, and Goodpess. – I thank
many things of this kind. These in the review will afford you the greatest Satisfaction.
In short, Mr. Urban, I cannot but think (until I see something more prov'd against him than I have yet met with) that Mr.Whitefield is an honest Man, influenc'd by a commendable Zeal for the Honour of his great Maiter, and a benevolent defire to serve Men in their best Interelts, and is prepared to meet any Şufferings in so good a Cause. He may have his Mistakes and Infirmities, which is only laying, in other words, He is a Man. Has Mr. Wbitefield his Fauks ? Lei bim that is without throw the forf Stone at him. But that mut be neither you nor I, Mr. Urbar. But whatever Reproaches those who are zealous for God and Religion may meet with in this world, blessed be God! there is a Day and a World approaching, when good Men shall be dealt with, not according to the
Censures of partial and unjust Men, nor according to their unwilling Mistakes, but according to the Integrity of their hearts, and the UprightBess of their Intentions !,
A Vindication of God's Prescience concerning buman Ations.
man's Magazine (Vid. Vol. 8. P. 188, 189.) signed Philaletbes, containing several Remarks on mine printed in the Magazine for July 1737, upon the careful perusal of which, as I did not think the Author's Argu. ments and Criticilms contain'd any thing either new or much to the pure poje, I therefore laid aside the thoughts of making any Reply to them : But since that time several Gentlemen have express'd their delire and expectation to have my Thoughts of the said Letter publishd; in compliance with whom I have once more undertaken to vindicate the Prescience of God concerning human Actions, and in this I hope the Publick will indulge me, for I promise it shall be the last time of my appearing on the Subject : Not that I am any more wearied out by my Adversaries, than our Readers; but I think the continuance of the Debate is likely to answer no good Use or Purpose, till the Managers of it have used themselves to more Reflection and Reading.
Philalethes has not attempted to answer any one of my Arguments, but only to throw Dust and Confusion upon them, which I shall endeavour to wipe off as decently as I can. A Man or Agent would go to the Rightband, and yet he might not for bad the Power not to have gone to the Right-baxd. This to me seems a very posible Cafe, but Philalethes says « it allerts two contradictory Properties of the same thing at the same time" which is a Discovery beyond my Penetration. He indeed has put a new Syllogism, which I grant involves a Contradiction ; but that Mr. P. T.'s does equally so, is what I cannot allow ; for Philalethes in the minor Proposition plainly allerts the possibility of a Case, which the major makes Imposible; whereas P.T.'s does no such matter. And as to his Explanation of P. T's Propofition, instead of making it plainer, to me it makes it quite dark and confused : for I know not what can be meant by the exisience of an Action to happen 100 Years hence being now an eternal Truth: This is like saying, It is now always a Truthi which I think is meer Jargon. A Nov'eternal is as unintelligible to me as an eternal Now. And as to the existence of a future Action being now a Truth, (or that it was always a Truth ) I hope he does not mean by it, that it is now true (and was always true) a future Action exists, or that it did always exist ; and if he only means, that it is now true and was eternally so, that an Action will be, or an Agent will act 100 Years hence, tho' the same Agent will then ( viz. 100 Years hence) have a Power not to act, or to hinder the existence of the Action; this is only to darken Knowledge with many Words, and comes at last, when reduced to Sense and Meaning, to this plain lort Propofition, An Agent will aft, and yet will have the power not to act. Which is so far from making Truth to be Falihood, that it is impoflible for the Case to be otherwise : That which has not the power to hinder Action is no Agent; and consequently
neither will nor can do any thing at all, neither now nor 100 Years hence. If Philalethes, or any body else, can thew, that because an Agent will not act, that therefore the Agent cannot but act, then indeed I will grant Truth may be hindered from being, or Truth may be Falfhood, or any other Absurdity he shall please to assert; but till then I shall believe, that to say an Agent will act, and yet may not act, (i. l. will have a Power to refrain ačting ) is very consistent Language, and clearly a possible Case: And to fay an Agent will act, and yet may not act (i.c. will have a Power not to act) is not to assert, that in the first part to be unalterable, which in the second part is asserted alterable; let Philalethes think as much to tbe contrary as he pleases.
Philalethes says, “ what is true is necessarily true, and cannot but be '" true.” This I deny, and he ought to have prov'd it; for it is a bold Assertion, and the Consequences of it are highly important. What cannot but be true is physically necessary, and to say this of all Truth is to introduce an unaccountable and blind Fate, and robs the Deity of all moral Attributes ; for instance, If it is necessarily true that God will reward every one according to his Works, and cannot but be true, the moral Character of God's Justice is destroy'd; here is a sovereign Fate and Neceflity introduc'd, not only to direct but oblige the Deity, from which he cannot swerve. The administration of Rewards and Punishments is Action, and if God cannot but perform this Action (i. e. if he is physically obliged to it, without which it is physically posible he may not perform it) then 'he is over-ruled, bound down, and reduced into an Instrument and meer Machine; which does not yet appear to be any thing like the truth of the Case; and therefore Philaletbes's Syllogism built on this Affertion is of no Consequence, nor needs any Examination.
Philalet bes maintains, and I oppose, an absolute Uncertainty in Nature I wish he had takey notice of the distinction which I made between phyfical and moral Truth and Certainty ; but he seems purposely to have evaded this, for what reasons he knows best. However, to support, or rather illustrate his Opinion, he supposes a Case of Life and Death to be determin’d by the Lot of iwo Tickets thrown into a Bag, and then one of them drawn by a Person who can have no reason, from the nature of Things, for chusing one rather than the other. Now in this Cale, cho' Philalethes fuppoies an absolute Uncertainty, he is as far from proving his Point as he was at first, his bare Word for it is as much a Demonstration as this Instance, or as that which follows about the piece of Money hid under a Candleltick; all that can be inferr'd from a hundred such Suppofitions, is only, That Men are Agents, and cana exert their active Principle without motive or foundation of Choice; for all Effects depend upon Causes adequate to their existence, and where an Action is perform'd by a Person without any moving Reason to determine his Will about it, his Agency is alone a sufficient Cause to account for that Action; and tho the nature and modus of this Cause, viz. Activity, or the human active Principle is quite unknown to us, yet it is certainly comprehended and throughly known to the Author of our Nature and Being : The Divine Mind is uncapable of being impair'd or improv'd, He is unbounded and perfect, and therefore all Things are at all Times equally Objects of his View and Knowledge, how utterly foever we may be ignorant of them.