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any of the popular doctrines, of faith independent of Christian works; or Calvinistic predeftination; or irresistible grace ; or the perceptỉble influence of the Holy Spirit ; or regenesation, distinguished from the inward fpiritual grace of baptism; or an instantaneous and fpecial conversion ; or a full and infallible affurance of salvation; or a linless perfection in the true Christian ; can in any way stand its test.
These are the points, upon which the charge, that we are not preachers of the Gospel, principally turns; and to which therefore your attention will be directed in the succeeding lectures. I am well aware, that most, if not all, of these subjects have been often and ably difcussed; and that the theological student, who wishes to investigate them thoroughly, must be referred to other sources for more ample satisfaction. Still to bring the subjects forward in something of a connected form, and for the specific purpose, which has been stated; thereby to direct the thoughts of the younger part of this assembly to the present state of religious opinions amongst us, on which, it is especially necessary that they should be informed; to apprize them of the pature of the objections, which are perpetually alledged against the great body of the national Clergy; and to furnish them, if it may be, with some leading principles, by which those objecmay be repelled; with the view, not of superseding, but of encouraging, more extenfive inquiries on the matters in debate; has appeared to me an attempt, calculated to promote the knowledge of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is with this design, that I have ventured to engage in my present undertaking : however weak and imperfect may be the execution in other respects, at least I trust, that it will not be disgraced by that intemperance of language, and that acrimony of invective, which fometimes mark the accusations, that have been levelled against us. To “speak the “ truth in love,” should be the resolution, under divine grace, of every follower, and much more of every minister of Christ. Zealous as we may, and ought to, be in the propagation of our religious opinions, it is our duty, as “ the servants of the Lord, to be gen“ tle unto all men, patient and forbearing, in “ meekness instructing those that oppose them“ felves 8.” And that man ftrangely mistakes the manner of spirit he is of, who knows not, that peaceableness, and gentleness, and mercy, as well as purity, are inseparable characteristics of - the wisdom that is from above h:” and that Christian charity ought never to be sacrificed even for the promotion of evangelical truth.
Now unto God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, three persons in the unity of one Godhead, be ascribed all might, majesty, and dominion, henceforth and for DISCOURSE II.
ΜATT. xix. 16, 17.
And behold, one came and said unto him, Good Mas
ter, what'good thing shall I do, that I may have
eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good ?
there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
THIS reply of our Lord is judged capable of two interpretations. By Calvin it is construed into an intimation, that eternal life is not to be attained by obedience to the laws of God'. As if Christ had said, If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments; but thou canst not keep the commandments; therefore thou canst do no good thing, that thou mayest have eternal life. The other interpretation is that which is fanctioned by our Church; who represents Christ as “ declaring by these words, , so that the laws of God be the very way, that
• Calv. Inft. lib. iji. cap. xviii. &. 9.
“ doth lead to everlasting life;" and accordingly pronounces, “ that this is to be taken for a “ most true lesson, taught by Christ's own
mouth, that the works of the moral com“ mandments of God, be the very true works u of faith, which lead to the blessed life to 66 comeb."
Of these two very different significations the former has nothing to recommend it, but the supposition, that the inquirer was desirous of establishing a presumptuous claim to falvation upon a fancied merit of his own righteoufnefs: a supposition, which seems to derive less support from the narrative of the sacred historian, than from the hypercritical refinement of the commentator. Of the latter, and, I think it may be safely added, the more obvious signification, the circumstances will warrant us in asserting, that it is more agreeable to the general tenour of our Lord's instructions; to the general frankness and fimplicity of his character; to the high esteem, which he uniformly expressed and encouraged for the moral law; and to the cheerfulness, and perfpicuity, with which he had communicated information in the great affair of man's happiness; than an interpretation which changes the
b Homilies; Second Part of the Sermon of Good Works, p. 41. Oxford edit.