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is not one line of sound divinity in it; and this either personally or by letter, which you please; and I will subinit to the judgment of any you choose. But as your judgment is rotten, and your eye evil, it proves, that the greater part of the body you minister to at Sunbury, agreeably to scripture, is full of darkness; and if the whole body be darkness in a gospel profession, then, says Christ, how great is that darkness which keeps its veil in an enlightened age, and under one called a gospel minister! You inform us, that you are not for rendering railing for railing, but blessing for cursing. I suppose the railer is myself; and you the blesser. But let me tell you, it is better to rail against a fellow creature for his faults, than to corrupt the word of God, or deal deceitfully in the covenant: for the oracles of God say, that if a man sins against another, the judges shall plead for him : but if a man sin against God, as Eli's sons did, who were false priests, who shall plead for him? Railing may wound a man in his reputation, but dealing hypocritically in the word of God, damns the soul, “My people perish for lack of knowledge,” and a blind guide leads many to the ditch; therefore, God says, “cursed is he that causeth the blind to wander out of his
way.” You own yourself to be the Jonah that has occasioned this storm, and I believe you are; because you have in your ministry fled from the presence of Go:l, and have not preached that doctrine which the oracles of God bid you; and as you
confess yourself willing to be thrown overboard, that there may be a calm, my soul's desire is, that you may occupy a little business in deep waters, and not come up again, till you can say of your errors as Jonah did of his, namely, “
they that observe lying vanities, forsake their own mercies.” When this is the case, you will own, as he did, that salvation is all of the Lord. But I suppose you are desirous of going overboard, because the mariners have cast the lot on you. One word in your letter I like much; that is, you call yourself an unprofitable servant; God grant the Judge may not bind you both hand and foot, and cast you, as such, into utter darkness. I must, by your leave, go on to inform you
of my writing about
doctrine. When I was at Barnet, they told me, that they would be glad of a change of preachers, if I could get any. I mentioned you, as Mr. Ruff had given me such a wonderful account of you, and told them I had no doubt but you would please them, if I could prevail on you to come and preach to them. I therefore prevailed, and gotøyou to go. The last time I was there, they told me, that when they heard you, they concluded among themselves that you were not the man I had recommended, but some person you had got in your room; till by inquiring they found your name to be Rhine, agreeable to the name I promised to send. Then they asked if you were a Lutheran, and told me that you were not a Calvinist, or in other words a sound scripturalist. You owned you were a Lutheran, though at the same time you said, Calvin was of the best spirit. I asked the man all the particulars about it, who I believe to be as sound a man, as experimental, as zealous, and as circumspect, as any I ever met with; and he told me you was within one step of rank arminianism. One of them came to me before, and desired me to let you come there no more, and asked me if I had ever heard you ; I said, No, I had not; but some friends had spoken very highly of you. And indeed I have been sorely displeased with some who have spoken lightly of your doctrine to me; and as Mr. Ruff, the last time he went with me to Woking, wished me to hear you; saying you trod in the same steps with me, and that you spake the same things, I was determined last Lord's day to hear you myself; and as I had heard various reports, you must needs think I came with all the ears of a critic: at the same time I prayed God to be with you, and convince me from your own mouth what you really was; that I might either justify or censure you, as.every faithful minister ought to do. I therefore did as you do, when you come to hear me, that is, I stood incog. that I might not intimidate you, nor draw any thing out of your mouth contrary to the usual stream. .
And now give me leave to correct some of your unwarrantable assertions. I shall be glad to inform your judgment, and I will be open to conviction, if you can object, agreeable to scripture. Your text was, “I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.” Your first work was, to contradict yourself; You took a text, and then exclaimed against taking texts.
You said, the prophets never used any such methods, nor the apostles; they made the whole scriptures their texts. I believe I can prove several sermons left on record in the bible, that were preached from a single text, that is, The promise made to Abraham. And the first sermon that Christ ever preached in the flesh, was from a text in Isaiah, and he stuck to his text, and told them it was fulfilled in their ears; then closed the book, and said no more. The last chapter of Habakkuk is a sermon from one text out of Deuteronomy. And when Christ sent out his twelve apostles, he sent them with one text, which is this, “ The kingdom of heaven is come , nigh unto you.” But you affirm, that taking texts was by many wire-drawing the scriptures ; that is not speaking as the oracles of God. I do not read that divinity is compared to bellwire, to be played with. You said many brought more out of their text than there was in it: but I believe no man can dive to the bottom of any one text in the bible. Paul only knew in part, and prophesied in part; therefore left a part unprophesied or unpreached. However, you did not run to the extreme of bringing more out than there was in ; for you never explained a word of your text, nor did you bring out one word of real experience, nor apply a word to conscience. You drew the bow at a venture indeed, for you aimed at nothing. David's saying, “By thee I have been holden up from the womb;" you said he meant the womb of spiritual conversion : but read the whole verse, and there he tells you,
God took him out of his mother's bowels, Psalm lxxi. 6. The womb of God's secret decree, and my mother's bowels, are different things: my mother's womb is an unclean thing; but that which is born of God, sinneth not. You said, “David could not mean a natural birth, for the elect were children of wrath, even as others. But David tells
in God's book were all his members written, when as yet there were none of them; and God's
did see his substance : and Jude saith, We are preserved in Christ Jesus and called, that is, called after we were preserved, and preserved in our calling, and after being called; and though many are called and few chosen, yet only the chosen are said to be preserved in Christ Jesus.
You say, the saints did not trust in persons or things, but in the word. I wish all the saints to trust in the persons of the ever-blessed Trinity; and this is brought to pass by the things which belong to a sound experience. Your main drift is to lead people to trust in the written word, and those whose trust stands in the letter, will be sadly foiled when the bibles are burnt up: the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. The word must come to the heart with power, and in the Holy