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proportionate statement of the doc- ance with the example, and opposed trines of election, predestination, and to the simplicity, of the unerring orathe decrees of God. To the cautious cles of truth ; and I must beg leave and scriptural statement of these to inform all who may be but sapermysterious truths, I make no objec- ficially acquainted with these subtion. I endeavour to do this myself jects, i hat the great body of pious mion all occasions which appear to me nisters and Christians in the Church, suitable. I am persuaded they tend and I believe also among the Dissengreatly to promote, as our Seven- ters, do most decidedly disapprove of teenth Article expresses it, our joy, such an injudicious mode of instrucand love, and thankfulness, and obe- tion, and aredesirous of doing all they dience, But I can conceive few properly can to discountenance it, things more dangerous than the both by the declaration of their senexcessive and somewhat irreverent timents, and by their own practice. manner in which they are occa- 2. The second topic is, the inculsionally treated. I have sometimes cation of the doctrines of the aconeheard language on these awful sub- ment and righteousness of Christ, to jects, not only divested of all that the exclusion of almost every other deep humility which should mark topic.-To“ know notbing but Jesus every statement relating to them, Christ and him crucified, was the but accompanied with a positiveness, apostle's determination, as it most and what appeared to me arrogance, be ours. But the apostle's own which really made me tremble. In conduct unquestionably shews that the holy Scriptures I see these doc. be comprehended in that brief detrines stated occasionally only and finition a vast variety of topics subbriefly, to churches established in servient to his main design. And I the faith, as the Ephesian, Colossian, conceive, we very inadequately ful. and Thessalonian, or in the due and fill the purport of the apostle's exnatural course of an argumentative pression, if we content ourselves exposition of the truth, as in the with a perpetual display of one or Epistle to the Romans. And I ob- two points in the comprehensive serve, that such doctrine is in every doctrine of the Cross, to the necase brought forward, not in an ab. glect or exclusion of those numestract metaphysical way, but for rous introductory or subordinate some directly holy purpose. The truths which are absolutely necesgeneral course of scriptural instruc- sary to a just exposition, a clear untion does not proceed on the basis derstanding, and a profitable appliof these awful and mysterious truths, cation of the whole subject. I know but on the plain and intelligible Tought to speak with caution, with ground of God's revealed will to peculiar caution, on this branch of man, as a fallen indeed, but rational our inquiry.
The distinguishing and accountable, creature. I appre- character of our ministry, should be hend, that for one verse referring to the doctrine of " reconciliation." the secret decrees of God, there are No other points should be so introan hundred which stand on the duced, as to afford room to any conbroad foundation of man's responsi- siderate hearer to compiain; that bility and duty. When, therefore, “ Christ crucified” is not the promiI listen to sermons conversa- nent figure on the canvas. But I tions which perpetually josist on cannot for a moment doubt ibat it these points, familiarly adopt terms is our bounden duty to insist, also, of very dubious meaning, and pro- on all those other' scriptural truths ceed throughout, not on the revealed which are necessary; in order to prewill of God, but on his inscrutable pare the heart for receiving aright purposes, I must be permitted to the doctrine of " Christ crucified;" consider such a course as a deflec- and which serve to trace that doc. tion from the right way, as at vario trine out into its consequences, and
to guard it against abuse and misap- inform the understanding, and to prehension. I must believe, while sway the heart. I have the Bible before me, that the 3. A further branch of this sys. being and attributes of God; the tem, is, the omitting directly to adevidences of Christianity; the rea- dress the unconverted, and to call them sonableness and responsibility of to repentance and faith. I am aware man; the spirituality and obligation that some excellent persons would of the holy law of God, its awful be unwilling to admit the truth of sanction and clernal authority; the this observation. They imagine offices of conscience ; the doctrine that they do preach to the inipeniof repentance and conversion to God; tent. But in what way? Do they the influences of the Holy Spirit; fully set before them the offers of the necessity of regeneration; the mercy in Christ Jesus, and urge effects of faith in purifying the them by every argument to accept heart and overcoming the world; of those offers? Do they explain the the properties of gratitude, love, nature, and press upon them the joy, and peace; the nature of prayer duty, of true repentance? Do they and communion with God; together address men as reasonable creatures, with a variety of similar points, are with the same earnestness and imessential, thougb subordinate, parts portunity on the subject of religion, of that pregnant expression, “ Jesus as they would on any point wbich Christ and him crucified ;” and are, affected their temporal interests ? Do like the shades or the grouping of they employ the doctrine of the the figures in a painting, absolately fall of man, and of his consequent necessary to the illustration of the inability to do any thing spiritually main subject of the piece. In fact, good, as the means of exciting him it bas often appeared to me (for í to pray to God for those sacred incannot be silent where I conceive fluences of his Spirit by which alone truth to be concerned), that a pere he can be enabled sincerely to repetual and somewhat wearisome re- pent and believe the Gospel ? Do petition of a few topics, conveyed they display to their hearers the chiefly in certain, current, but not willingness of God to bestow his very perspicuous, phrases, is a very Holy Spirit on them that ask him, inadequate way of giving instruc- as an inducement to enter seriously tion even on the exclusive points on the work of religion? Do they which are thus insisted on. The unfold the holy law of God, for the method pursued in the apostolic wric purpose of leading them to form just tings, is that to which I would ever views of their own character, and adhere. There I observe simplieity of their need of repentance and and grandeur united in exhibiting the faith? Do they thus “commend doctrine of a Saviour. There I see themselves to every man's conno unmeaning repetitions, no decla- science in the sight of God?” I matory efforts; but the great and fear, that by the persons who have mysterious subject is unfolded in all imbibed the general views I am now its bearings; is accompanied with considering, few, if any, of these pressing exhortations to obedience; points are attended to, except in a is relieved by all those numerous to very slight and cursory manner; and pics with which it stands connected; that they not only in practice omit is placed in its just light, and guardo all direct addresses to the uogodly, ed against the misapprehensions of but in theory condemn such exhor the ignorant and licentious. When tations as unscriptural. They are, I compare with this method, the without doubt, glad that the unconjejune theology of which I now verted should hear their sermons on complain, I do not for an instant the grace and love of Christ; they doubt which is best calculated to judge it expedient to denounce upon them the awful sentence of the vio. those who are considered as sincere lated law; they will offer up sincere Christians.--That consolation is a and fervent prayers for their salva. most important part of the effect tion, but they do not, at least they which Christian doctrine ought to do not frequently and fully, entreat produce, I most readily admit. The men, with St. Paul, “ to be recon- character of our Lord was eminent ciled to God;" they do not directly for tenderness. The spirit of St. exhort inen, as St. Peter did Simon Paul was as compassionate as it was Magus, to " repent of their wicked- elevated. The Comforter, is the ness;” they do not in their Master's distinguishing name of the blessed name " command” men to “ re- Spirit of God. But I object to the pent, and corn to God, and do works theology which I am now reviewing, meet for repentance;" they do not that it aims to administer comfort in call on men to " strive to enter in what appears to me an unsafe and at the strait gate;” they do not unscriptual manner. Its tendency say, " Awake, thou that sleepest, is, to make joy and confidence the and arise from the dead." I cannot almost exclusive test of a right state imagine a more material defect than of mind. It proposes topics of conthis, in the discharge of the high solation far too indiscriminately, and office of “ the ministry of reconci- often to many, very many persons, Jiation;" – a ministry which has wbo are least of all entitled to confor its design, its principal design, to solation. It appears to forget, that treat with rebel nian, with a view to there are occasions when contrition his return to God in Christ Jesus. I and sorrow should penetrate the consider, this as a most important, heart. The consequence is, that and even vital question. If this that species of instruction which fatal misapprehension should un- would lead to a careful scrutiny of happily spread, the effects will soon the heart and life, is almost entirely becone too visible in the state of overlooked, and the whole system our families, and our parishes. Sure- seems framed for producing ease of ly, if there be any one point, which mind at almost any rate. A caumore clearly ihan another may be rjous train of scriptural evidence inferred from the obvious and uni- with respect to our state and cbaform tenor of holy Scripture, it is racter, is but lille inculcated, and this ; that man, though a fallen crea- the perpetual endeavour seems to be ture, is to be addressed directly and to excite joy, by excluding topics importunately on all the high du. of anxiety, and by violently urging ties of religion. The whole Bible on the attention, the promises and is hortatory. And those who so es. privileges of true Christians. This pound the truths which relate to the method, I cannot consider as either inability of man, and the power of wise or necessary, Comfort thus Divine grace, as to lead them to injudiciously administered, is like a relax in their efforts to arouse and cordial, which may for a time exhialarm simpenitent sinners, and to en- larate the spirits, but which infalli. treat agd urge them to fly for refuge bly injures the general habit, and to the hope of mercy in Christ prepares the way for proportionate Jesus, appear to me greatly to mis- depression. True and abiding peace understand the whole subject. How is of another character, more slove in such ministers cap flatter themselves its growth, indeed, but more valuathat they shall escape the-doom of ble in its properties, and more holy the unfaithful watchman, (Ezek. in its effects. It is like health in the xxxiii. 7-9), I know not, and natural body, wbich may be consi
4. The fourth particular L-men- dered as the effect which arises tioned was, an excesside endeavour to from every part of the frame reguproduce comfort in the minds of larly discharging its proper func tions, and not as the disorderly and tendency on the hearts of others. fitful produce of a stimulating ap. The defect in their system appears plication. If, indeed, all those to to me to be this, tfiat they do not whom sources of consolation are thus follow the Scripiure into the detail perpetually proposed were hamble, of Christian duties. They are satisfiwatchful, and obedient believers in ed with general and very partial views the Son of God, my present objec. of sanctification. They do not insist tion would have less weight; but on the regulation of the temper, and when we recollect that these conso. the government of the passions. They latory topics are most eagerly re. do not descend, with ihe Apostle, to ceived by the young, the worldly, the special duties of every relation minded, the inconstant, the disobe- of life, and enforce on the husband dient, the presumptuous, I may leave and wife, the father and child, the it to your reflecting readers to judge master and servant, the governor and of the mischief which must follow. subject, the appropriate injunctions I have been much grieved to hear of the sacred Scriptures. The practhe language which private Chris- tical part of the Bible is a field tians as well as ministers occasion, which they do not cultivate. The ally use, in their endeavours to com- consequence is, that the understandfort those whom they admit to have ings of many Christians are not committed great sin's. But I will adequately informed on these subnot trust myself to speak on this jects, nor their consciences directed. subject. I hope I may have mis. I need not say what most, in spite taken their meaning.
of the best principles and feelings, I shall have said enough on this be the effects on their tempers and branch of my inquiry, if I am dis- lives. It has always appeared to tinctly understood to object, not to me, that if a minister is to amplify topics of consolation when soberly the doctrinal parts of the word of treated, nor even to strenuous and God, he is likewise to unfold the animated endeavours to cheer the practical: that if he bestow five or fainting Christian, when circum- six sermons on each of the three stances appear to require them, but first chapters of the Epistle to the to the perpetual and indiscriminate Ephesians, he should bestow as effort to produce consolation, and many on each of the three tast: confidence, and joy in almost every that if it be Gorl's appointed means variety of character and situation. of producing faith and love to ex.
5. I come now to the fifth point pound the one, it is equally his apwhich I have laid down -a merely pointed means of producing holy slight and general explication of the obedience to enforce the other. I duties of obedience. Those whose am aware that it is far more difficult minds are tinged with the errors ! to compose a sermon on a particular have detailed, uniformly fail here. topic of daty, sincerity for instance, I do not charge ibem with directly or the forgiveness of injuries, than đenying the obligation of the moral on the general doctrines of the law on Christians as a rule of life. grace of God; nor am I ignorant, I do not charge them with inten- that such discourses would be contionally separating the holiness of sidered by the disciples of the the Gospel from its privileges. I school on which I am now animad. believe they are free from these se: verting, as dry and legal; but sure. rious imputations. I know, in many ly, these considerations should have cases, that an eminently holy sym- no weight with any one, who re. pathy is propagated by their instruc- members aright, that, “ if he yet rions both in public and private. pleases men, he is not the servant They feel the purifying tendency of of Christ." The case is, in my view, the doctrines they love in their own so perfectly plain, that it is unneceshearts, and wish to promote that sary to say another word upon it. CHRIST. OBSERY. No, 154.
6. I pass on to the next point on may depart from God, you will be which I am to louch--un unscriptural brooght back again;" is something and highly dangerous view of the doc- more than indefensible: it is, in my trine of final perseverance, — This lan- judgment, persecily frightful. Such guage is strong, but I think not statements appear entirely to overstronger than the occasion requires. look the important consideration, The doctrine of final perseverance I that even supposing each of them am inclined to believe, not because I to be in itself true, their just use is find it very broadly laid down in the connected with the previous quesholy Scriptures, but because I am tion, whether we are really believers of opinion that it may be fairly de- in Christ; and that this previous duced from the declarations and pro. question involves an investigation mises of the Gospel; from the lenor of our whole character and conduct. of the covenant of grace; from the What then can be more pernicious examples of the saints in holy writ; than a perpetual detail of proposiand from the whole scbeme and tions, easily remembered and greebearing of Divine truth. I know, dily retained, which are dependent Mr. Editor, that you profess 10 stand for their truih on nany most imon neutral ground on this and one or portant and difficult antecedent intwo other topics on which I have quiries; especially if, whilst these expressed my sentiments in this apothegms are familiarly, and even paper; and I trust, any language I sometimes, as I think, flippantly ut. may use will not be considered as tered, much of the cautionary and at all entrenching on the general alarming language of Scripture is principles of your work. I must be either wholly omitted, or feebly enpermitted, then, to concede to the forced? Surely, a scriptural view of persons whose system I ain now con- this doctrine must be consistent with sidering, the truth of this doctrine. all the other parts of the Sacred VoBui is it, therefore, lo be perpetually lume from which it is deduced. and rashiy propounded? Is it to be Surely every warning, every threat. abstractedly and coldly assumed as ening, all the exhortations to an axium ? Is it to be stripped of watchfulness, all the denunciations all the circumstances in wbich it is on those who draw back unto perclothed in the holy Scriptures, and dition, all the dangers from the taken out, naked and unguarded, to world and the flesh, all the details of be exposed to the gaze of every the Christian conflici, all the fearful bebolder? Is there any one doc- examples of those wbo have departtrine of the Bible which may not ed from the faith, are as much to become suspicious and even dan. find a place in our instructions, as gerous, if it be separated from all those particular promises on which ihe other doctrines with which it the hope of our perseverance tests, stands connected ? I must confess, Without this, it is easy to see that that I think inimense mischief will the complexion of the doctrine, as it be done, if the crude and intempe. stands in the holy Scripture, may rate views of this doctrine, which I be totally different from what it is know are taken by some very pious as exhibited by its interpreter. This persons,
should unhappily gain will appear in a stronger light if we ground. To hear such unwarranted consider that it is by salutary fear, and unqualified declarations as holy self-distrust, eager vigilance, these : One spark of grace can continual self-examination, and by never be lost ;" * if we once be the influence of all those principles lieve, we are safe for eternity ; which are calculaled to move a crea
God may leave his people to ture like man' in a state of probation, fall foully, (t use the ternis I that it pleases God to accomplish his have myself beard adopted), " but own purposes in the salvation of his not bnally ;' " however far you faithlul people. To omit, therefore,