Page images

“ You have the word, and we have the sword,”. said the Popish Prolocutor Weston P, when he felt his inability to cope with the scriptural authorities, by which his Protestant opponents, , the Fathers of the English Church, supported their opinions. They had the sword; and they used it. The language of our accusers may warrant a wish, that the sword may never fall into their hands ; left a repetition of the scenes, which desolated the Church in a fomewhat later most melancholy and eventful period of our history, should convince us by fad experience, as the originals convinced our forefathers ; that bigotry and intolerance are not confined to the adherents of Popery; and that higher degrees of charity are not always found to accompany pretensions to superior purity of faith.

IV. It deserves to be remarked, that the charge is vague and undefined. Often indeed it is alleged by men, who have as indistinct a notion of the Gospel, as they have an imperfect acquaintance with the preaching of the clergy. But taking it in the most favourable light, as alleged by the more informed of our accusers, it is still of fo fluctuating an import, as to defy all attempts to satisfy it. That we do not preach the Gospel, is the charge ad

P Ridley's Life of Bp. Ridley, book vii. p. 488.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

vanced by our various eriemies; a charge, to appearance the same with all of them, but in substance irreconcilably different.

For let us reflect an instant on the persons, by whom it is advanced ; men, like Ephraim and Manasseh combined together against Judah ?, as widely at variance with each other, as either of them can be hoftile to us :-men, who have no other principle of harmony, than that which united Herod and Pontius Pilate in the perfecution of Christ :-men, who have expressly “accused each other, of preaching “ damnable and essentially erroneous doc“ trines, horrid blasphemies, another gospel, 6 and the like'.” What then is it possible that we can do, to 'silence the clamour of our accufers ? Shall we espouse the sentiments of the Wesleyan Methodist ? The charge will still be levelled against us by the Calvinist; and we may be rebuked in the language of Whitefield, when he told his rival in their schism, that " they preached two different gospels; and " therefore he not only would not join with, iss or give him the right hand of fellowship, “ but was resolved to preach against him and ** his brother, wheresoever he preached at all."

If. ix. 21.
" See Enthusiasm of Methodists, &c. part ï. Preface,

• Coke's Life of Welley, på 214.

P. xxi.

Shall we range ourselves under the banners of the Calvinist? This will hardly content the followers of Wesley, who declared, that'" he “ had an immediate call from God to publish “ to the world, that Mr. Whitefield's doctrine

was highly injurious to Christé." ? Or suppose that we could decide in favour of some great division of our accusers; the fame difficulty would' occur, as to the fubdivision, which we should adopt. Let us determine on the party of Wesley. Shall we then attach ourselves to those, who still take the lead in the regular connection; or to those, who have separated from it, by reason of a diversity of opinion on fome important doctrinal points, whereon they claim the fanction of the authority of the original Founder of the sect? Let us declare ourselves of the Calvinistic party. Shall we then maintain “ the rigours 6 of the system,” in conformity with its fundamental principles; and agreeably to the doctrines of Calvin, and of consistent Calvinists, and to the declarations of the Lambeth Articles: 'or shall we profefs ourselves the advocates of " a milder and more moderate Cal. * vinism,” and “absolutely disavow the doc« trine of absolute decrees and absolute repro

• Nott's Bampton Lectures, p. 248. note, Nightingale's Portraiture of Methodism," p. 409, 481.

" bation "," as an extravagant and frightful system?

Or suppose again, that this difficulty was surmounted; and that our election was made, not only of the fect but of the sectary, not only of the party but of the man, that Thall have dominion over our faith. Inconfiftent as our accufers are with themselves, as well as at variance with each other, by what rule fall we be guided in distinguishing between those opinions of the individual, which we shall efpouse, as of evangelical purity: and those, which we shall reject, as a departure from it ? Taking, for instance, the Apologist of moderate Calvinism for our guide, shall we with him alsert, that “the fundamental principles, on which " the Calvinistic system rests, are incontroverti“ ble;" or shall we unite with him in renouncing some of those principles, until we have stripped Calvinism of its characteristic features, as a system of faith; and made of it a mutilated structure, which its founder would have de, rided, as the edifice of childishness and folly ? Attaching ourselves to another celebrated champion of our self-denominated evangelical brethren, shall we teach our people that the salvation offered by the Gospel is “wholly un, “ conditional,” and irreversibly determined by

: Overton's True Churchmen, &c.

the absolute will of God; or shall we represent it, as depending upon men's improvement of the opportunity of grace offered y? With Whitefield, shall we preach universal, or partial, redemption ? the defectibility, or the indefectibility, of grace ? Shall we expoftulaté with our hearers for not choofing to be converted, or shall we tell them that their conversion is not of their own free will ? With Wesley shall we contend, that a man can “ have all the mind that was in Christ, and “ alway walk as he walked ;" or shall we deny that any man can be “ absolutely per6 feet?” Shall we affert, that a man cannot have living faith, without knowing that he hath it? or that he may be justified, that is, may have this living faith, yet not know it, till a long time after? Shall we affirm “ the « condition of our acceptance with God to be

not our holiness either of heart or life, but “ faith alone, faith as contradistinguished from “ holiness, as well as from good works ;" or fhaltwe contend for a “faith, which is ne. “ ceffarily inclusive of all good works and all “ holiness“;" or shall we maintain it as a po

y See Hawker's Prop against all Despair, p. 11. Mifericordia, p. 43, 65.

• See Tucker's History of the Principles of Methodism, p. 20, 92. * See Nott's Bampton Lectures, p. 246.

« PreviousContinue »