« PreviousContinue »
world to understand the clergy in general are employed in weaving, (but which does by no means contain a fair representation of the manner in which the Gospel is generally preached in the Church) is taken from an epistle of St. John, where the Apostle says, “ This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ."
By turning to the Bible you find that this quotation from the Apostle is a partial one, and contains only half the information which was designed to be conveyed on the occasion. The whole passage runs thus: “this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.” Here then we have two commandments delivered by the same authority; one relative to faith in Christ, the other enjoining the love of our neighbour, which is elsewhere called the fulfilling of the law. Mr. Wilberforce, by his manner of quoting the Apostle, gives his reader to understand, that to believe is the great New Testament command of God. It is 60; but the fallacy lies here, that it is not the only commandment to which the Christian is required to pay attention. And if the Christian reads the Gospel as Mr. Wilberforce quotes it upon this occasion, he will probably be a Christian by halves, instead of being that perfect character which the Apostle designed he should be, by recommending a faith which worketh by love. And that the first of these commandments respecting faith in Christ does not necessarily comprehend
* 1 John ïïi. 23.
the last, respecting man's fulfilment of the moral
necessary to make a separate mention of them
Give me leave to ask, why should pains be taken
grace of God, under the new covenant,
It ought, therefore, to be a primary object with every Christian, that the grace of God be not bestowed upon him in vain. Such is the manner in which the Gospel was preached by the Apostles: in the same manner it was preached by our reformers; and in no other manner can it be preached, to become effectual to salvation. “ For the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men; teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.” On this condition, the Christian may with confidence look.“ for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."! to
On which account I conceive, that the preaching of the Christian ministry must be, in this sense, that mingle mangle of law and Gospel, grace and works, of which the Apostles have given a striking specimen in their writings and he who attempts to preach the law unconnected with the Gospel, or the grace of the Gospel independent of obedience to the moral law, does equal injustice to the gra. cious, and at the same time righteous, plan of salvation by Jesus Christ; and frustrates the design of it, by placing himself under a dispensation essentially different from it. To understand properly the language of St. Paul and that of our reformers, two circumstances are necessary to be taken into our account. St. Paul, when writing against
Titus ii. 11, et seq.
works, did not mean the good works of a Christian,
It being my design not to enter further into your
to find out sentiments in which we agree, than to examine those in which '
we appear to differ. If I know myself, I can with truth say, with Hooker, that “ I have no joy in striving, I have not been nuzzled or trained up in it. I would to God that the purport of Christ's prayer for his disciples that they might remain undivided-might be realized throughout Christendom.” With this sentiment strongly impressed on my mind, I feel a satisfaction, after having travelled over many pages in which we appear to differ, to find one page (140) in which I perfectly concur with you ; " that this is a critical juncture, in which the clergy should do every thing in their power to stop that foaming torrent of irreligion, profaneness, and contempt of all order, good government, and subordination, which has for some time been coming in upon us like a flood; and I am certain they cannot do this more effectually than by diligently exerting themselves in the restoration of those pure principles, by which the Reformation was happily effected
You will give me leave only, as one of the clergy, to remind you, Sir, of what, it is presumed, has been proved in a former letter; that the doctrine of absolute unconditional election and justification of certain individuals, independent of the conduct of the party, was not the doctrine of the Reformation; and at the same time to suggest to your serious consideration, whether such a doctrine, with the consequences which have more or less been drawn at all times from it, is so well calculated to produce the desired effect, as that which the Church of England