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BETWEEN MR. LOVEGOOD, MR. MERRYMAN, MR. SAVORY, HIS
COUSIN JOHN, AND MR. MALAPERT.
MR. (R. Lovegood receives the following letter from Mr.
MY DEAR SIR: As
you allow me to consult you without reserve, and under every difficulty, I must inform you of some recent events which have filled me with the most serious apprehensions ; lest the peace and prosperity which have hitherto so happily prevailed, should be interrupted by the vain janglings of some who are attempting to make their inroads among us.
I am quite surprised, that no body of respectable dissenters have found their way into the town, while most of the inhabitants are in gross ignorance, excepting some Baptists, and a very few Quakers, of whom it seems there are but three families in the town. These collect together every Sunday morning, in a large room, contiguous to the house of one of them ; but as they seldom have any public speaking among them, very little is known concerning them; though I fear, they are but ill acquainted with the doctrine of the atonement, and reconciliation with God, through the sacrifice of Christ; yet I find them very kind, and innocent neighbours, and am happy to treat them in return with all the civility and attention in my power. On our evening lecture, some of them frequently steal into the Church, and affectionately acknowledge that they receive good from what they hear.
I wish I could speak as favourably of the Baptists ; for I fear the one depend too much on their sanctifi. cation, for their justification ; not a few of the others seem to deny the need of personal sanctification altogether; though I am happy to find many favourable exceptions to the general remark.
You know the character of their old minister. He has been ringing changes, these forty years, upon eternal justification, and what he calls imputed sanctification, and the perseverance of the saints; which seems little better than a sort of inconsistent perseverance in lazi. ness and security; after they have persuaded themselves to rest in a self-conceited confidence, that they are right, without any evidence of the fact: while the practical, and preceptive parts of the scriptures are treated by them with strange neglect.
It seems this old man has lately heard of some new seceders from the Church, with whom he is highly delighted, because they have adopted his sentiment about baptism, and have been rebaptised by immersion. One of these he has, unhappily for me, introduced into his pulpit, and curiosity has invited many to hear what this new light has to advance; and alas ! I am sorry to say, there are some, who are fascinated with they know not what; while many artful inuendoes are introduced that they now hear the gospel fully, which was not the case before ; intermixed at the same time, with such horrid insinuations, as are in my opinion, most intolerably profane; that “ the greatest sins we can commit, can never alter our state, as it respects the covenant of grace ;" and that “God can never be angry with his elect, even when they commit the worst of crimes." Are we then to suppose that we are in the covenant of
grace, without the grace of the covenant ? and how can people in such a gracious state, be guilty of the worst of crimes ? and can they imagine the holy God can so alter bis nature, as to see sin and not hate it, if he finds it even in an angel? Surely, if he pardon the criminal, he hates the crime; and can such pardoned sinners dare to "continue in sin, that grace may abound ?" must not every real Christian hate the thought? I trust the first moment I was convinced of sin, I began to dread the commission of it worse than hell itself; what then can be the use of such strange, unwarranta ble expressions, but to make loose minded people looser still, and to cause the enemies of God to blaspheme the doctrine of our free forgiveness, through Jesus Christ.
Notwithstanding their doctrine is so disgusting, as well as dangerous, the bewitchery has actually succeeded
upon the minds of some; one positive old woman, whose tempers at all times are the most inconsistent and unsubdued goes, prating about the town, “crying in the wretched cant of the party,” that she has found out why she could never get any comfort to her soul under my preaching, because I insisted upon it, that “God's elect should be made more holy than he himself ever designed they should be," " and that as God has strengthened her faith, she shall never fear about her sins and corruptions as she has done, that she is now sure she belieces, and therefore she is safe, and nobody shall shake her confidence any more all her days ;" while her hussays
of her, that she is such an arrant termagant, that she ought to be ducked every day of her life for
I am happy however to find, that two or three of the most judicious and correct of the Baptists, begin to recoil at what they have lately heard, and are aware of the danger that arises from preaching the mere skeleton truths of the gospel, without their practical effects and consequences on the heart! so that if a few
And as you
of my congregation seem to be fascinated by these vain disputants, others have left them and have forgotten the prejudices of their education, and mean to attend the Church till they can hear sounder truths at the meeting, where they have been accustomed to worship. And although I have cause to thank God that there is not much to be dreaded from these schismatical* efforts, yet still the plague is in a measure begun. well know how to controvert those different heresies that have been brought forward against the plain, simple truths of the gospel, I most fervently intreat you to come over and help us, and give us some sermons 'on these most important topics,
No one can be more respected and revered among the people of this town than yourself. Mr. Savory and some others that have lately left the Baptist congregation, are quite as anxious to see you as myself. I am sure your fervent zeal' against such most dangerous errors, will not allow you to put a negative on this my earnest request. Your most affectionate son in the Gospel,
Mr. Lovegood's answer to this letter was replete with all that good sense, containing at the same time such wise and pious remarks, as might naturally have been expected from him ; and though I am satisfied the good taste and piety of my readers would be greatly gratified were they to be presented with the whole of its
Mr. Merryman is perfectly correct in his application of the words heresy and schism. Αιρεσις from Αιρεω, or from Αιρω to take up, to remove, or to take away, describe a sort of spiritual sheepstealers : so schism from Exioua a rent, a division, or separation. The evil is not in any persons following their own judgment, in what they think preferable ; but among those who possess an angry, contentious spirit, so contrary to that spirit of candour and for. hearance, that Christians should manifest towards each other.
contents ; yet those parts which more immediately relate to the present point, shall alone be transcribed.
Mr. Lovegood observed, that whatever appearance of novelty might seem to attach itself to these new lights, it was nothing more than a revival of the same bad spirit which in a measure prevailed in the earliest
ages of the primitive Church. That the apostle Paul foresaw the evil, and forewarned the elders of Ephesus of it, in this strong language: “For I know that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock," and that these their outward enemies, would not be their worst enemies ; for that “ also among their own selves, should certain men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” That this is awfully and notoriously the case with the present set. That they regard not into what Christian societies they enter ; nor yet lament, or even make it a matter of consideration, how far they may break the peace and harmony that subsist among them, by the introduction of their unjust insinuations and dogmatic assertions, if thereby they may, out of other churches, make a little party for themselves; while, like Ishmael of old, their hands are against every man, while every man's hand in self-defence must be against them in return.
He further observed what St. Jude mentioned, concerning some of the same spirit, that though some may go further in these abominable ways than others, yet the core of the evil is still the same in all and among all parties, who separate themselves, not having the Spirit, and that it is peculiarly applicable to the present set; since as far as he could learn, all of them were of one mind respecting the operations of the Spirit ; and that whatever some such as these might have to say, respecting the correctness of their own outward conduct and moral deportment, yet the slightest inattention to what St. Jude further said, “ Building up yourselves on