Imatges de pÓgina


ance in the covenant of grace experience as many conversions, even at those seasons, when his as they have terms of sinning. exercises are perfectly sinful, Every time they sin, their exerstill by this extraordinary use of cises, in which it is said that sin the term, the force of many pas- and holiness consist, are perfect. sages of scripture hitherto used ly sinful. They become preciseto prove the perseverance of ly the kind of men they were saints would, as it respects this previously to conversion : it cerobject, be entirely destroyed. tainly follows, that on recovery Jer. xxxii. 40. And they shall not they experience the depart from me. But the doc- change, as they did experience trine under consideration asserts, at conversion. It is to be prethat the saints do in the highest sumed likewise, that subsequent sense depart from God. Mat. conversions, being precisely the xxiv. 24. If it were possible they same change, will be equally obshall deceive the very elect. The vious with the first. elect are not only deceived, ac- 5. The doctrine under considcording to this doctrine, but are eration accords very ill with brought into the same moral those passages of scripture, state, as the unregenerate.

1 which represent the believer as John iii. 9. Whosoever is born of engaged m a warfare. If all God doth not commit sin, for his holiness consists in exercises, seed remaineth in him, What and a Christian's exercises are seed remaineth in him ? And perfectly holy, what internal enhow is it true that he cannot sin, emy is there, against whoin this who actually does sin precisely holy Christian can maintain war? as he did before conversion ? Again; when the Christian's 1 John ii. 19. They went out from exercises are perfectly sinful, us, but were not of us ; for if they what internal enemy can there had been of us, they doubtless be, against whom this sinful would have remained with us, Christian can maintain war? A Whatever this proves against the combatant cannot fight with an remonstrants, it proves against enemy which does not exist ; the new doctrine.

and it would, at least, be as diffia 3. If the doctrine in question cult for an enemy not in existe be true, no present iniquity of ence to fight with a combatant life can be sufficient evidence, that does exist. that a man is not regenerate.

It avails nothing to say, that For if a converted person may these opposite exercises foilow be perfectly sinful for a time, each other in rapid succession. why may he not, during that If a thing can either oppose', or time, commit as great sin, as he be opposed, one moment before did previously to conversion ? If its existence, it may oppose or he have the same wickedness of be opposed a thousand years bts heart, as before conversion, why fore its existence. I can no may he not in the same way and more fight this moment with a by the same actions express that man that will begin to exist the wickedness?

next, than I can fight with a 4. It would be a consequence man who will not exist till after of the doctrine, that Christians a thousand years. Yet St. Paul



said, “When I would do good Should it be said, that had he liv. evil is present with me :" where- ed, he would have had peras had he designed to speak con- fectly sinful exercises, that is formably to the doctrine under not to the purpose. I only ask, consideration, he would have in what state he was when he said, “ When I have left off do- died. Surely it will not be deniing good evil is present with ed, that Adam was in a state of me ;” or else, When I would perfect holiness three minutes not do good, evil is present with before his apostacy, because at

the conclusion of that time he 6. From the doctrine it fol. had sinful exercises. Had Adam lows not only that saints may be died three minutes after he be. perfect, but that they actually gan to exist a moral agent, are so : not only that some are would he not have died in a state perfect, but that all are so at the of perfection ? moment of their regeneration. Further : It is allowed by If all holiness consists in exer- those whose opinions we are cises, he who has perfectly holy considering, that no exercises exercises is perfectly holy. The are in any sense holy, which are believer at the instant of regen- not perfectly so. Now if holy eration has perfectly holy exer- exercises constitute personal ho. cises, saith the doctrine. The liness, for the time being, the inference is undeniable. Should same exercises being perfect, any person observe in reply, must constitute personal perfecthat the doctrine does neither tion for the time being. Beprove nor admit holiness of char- tween the opinion of Mr. Wesacter, he either designs to be ley on saints' perfection, and the ambiguous, or to deny, that the opinion of those on the same doctrine implies the believer's subject, who hold the doctrine, long continuance in a perfect of which we are treating, there state. Now as it is not asserted can be no other difference than in the preceding observations, what relates to the time, for that the believer's long continu- which they imagine perfection ance in a perfect state results endures. Mr. Wesley's opinfrom the doctrine, it is not in- ion is, that some saints are with cumbent on the writer of these out sin a good while, he knows remarks to notice this reply. It not how long : The opinion of may be inexpedient however to the other divines is, that all pass it over without some atten- saints are free from sin very fretion.

quently for a little while, they If a person at conversion be- know not how long. coines perfectly holy in his excr- If the doctrine of sinless per. cises for the time then being, it fection existing even for a time, will not be denied, I suppose, be true, what a world of self that he may continue so for the loathing and humiliation might space of three or four minutes. have been spared among the Should he die at the conclusion most devout believers, who have of that time, could it possibly lamented the sins and imperfecbe asserted that he did not die tions of their best moments ! in a state of perfect holiness? Mr. Samuel Pearce says, “ I

[ocr errors]

know that the Being whom I Christ is preached when any love best always sees something gospel doctrine is illustrated in me, which he infinitely and enforced ; any Christian virhates."* Not so, says the more tue inculcated on gospel princi.enlightened divine. At the first ples and motives ; any vice remoment of your conversion, and proved by the consideration all the time since, when you that by continuing in sin men have not been perfectly sinful, trample him under foot. He God has seen nothing in you, is preached when the imitabut perfect holiness.

tion of his perfect example is Does this doctrine correspond recommended; when the gloriwith the feelings of Christians ous dignity of his person, or any in general ? Do they feel, that, part of his mediatorial work, or part of the time, they are per- the nature of his kingdom, or the fectly holy ; that they love God proofs of his religion, or his as much as he deserves their promises, or second and glorilove, and that there is no sinful

appearance, are properly imperfection, with which they treated. His religion is able to are chargeable ? Surely those make men wise unto salvation. who feel thus, are, for the time, It is profitable for doctrine, for happy believers indeed.

reproof, for correction, for inA Friend to Old Divinity. Struction in righteousness : prof

itable to convert wanderers from The foregoing treatise on perse, the truth ; detect the false hope verance is not published with partial feelings. A well written defence of of the hypocrite ; heal the brokthe theory, which is here opposed, en-hearted; correct the mistakes, will be treated with equal candour. and chasten the passions and de


clensions of believers unto life; resolve their doubts, confirm

their faith, and help their joy. ADDRESS TO MINISTERS.

It proclaims salvation to the

chief of sinners, and is mighty Those to whom the minis. to pull down strong holds. The try of reconciliation is commit- command to preach and hear the ted are ambassadors for Christ. gospel proceeds on this ground, An ambassador speaks the lan- Faith cometh by hearing, and guage of the prince who sends hearing by the word of God. him. The King of kings em- There are ployeth his servants to teach all They have been ordained in wisthings whatsoever he hath com- dom. A preached gospel is the manded them. They may not power of God to salvation. teach the doctrines and com- All religion, since man's aposmandments of men. Add thou tacy, has turned upon this quesnot unto his words, lest he re- tion, Will God pardon sin? The prove thee, and thou be found a question cannot be determined liar. Take thou not from his but by a revelation. If he hath words, lest thou forfeit a part in said that he will pardon, we may the book of life.

neither object to it, nor assume

to investigate the reasons. “Our • Sec Fuller's Life of Pearca. faith could never be established


of grace.

on sure grounds, if it were to de- salvation. This is to assume the pend solely on the reasonings of authority of the Head of the men.” It must stand in the wis. church. Let him in all things have dom and testimony of God. the pre-eminence. "1 he presumption of examining The poor have

the gospel the secret things of God without preached unto them. The greatthe power of such examination, est part of the hearers occupy the is apt to mislead” the friends of rooi of the unlearned. To such, revelation ; and is similar to the abstruse speculations and refinepresumption of its enemies, who ments are unadapted. When the reject the gospel because they preacher's mind is properly im. do not find in it the wisdom they pressed with the dignity and imseek for. Those who exclude a portance of his subject, he will Mediator, and those who attempt endeavour to instruct and edify, to explain the reasons which rather than to appear learned and guided the divine counsel in the eloquent. A reputation for skill appointment of the Mediator be- in abstract reasoning, or in the tween God and men, presume art of speaking, will be a small that the designs of the infinite thing with him. He will address mind may be known without be- the hearers in the fulness of the ing revealed, or further than they blessing of the gospel, esteeming are revealed. “ Our duty is to all things loss for the excellency adore, with the lowest submission of the knowledge of Christ crucifiof our hearts and minds, things ed; seeking by manifestation of which pass all understanding.” his truth, to be commended of evThe gospel was not designed to ery man's conscience in the sight inform us what God mighe possio of God. bly have done ; it only informs By a perspicuous statement of us what he hath done. All things, the doctrines, duties, privileges which do not imply a contradic- and hopes of the gospel ; by keeption, are possible with God. But ing one leading point in view in shall we undertake to say, in all every discourse, the preacher cases, what things do or do not may best preserve that just disimply a contradiction? God hath tinction on the various branches made him, who knew no sin, to of Christian divinity, which be a sin-oftering for us, that we marks a scribe instructed unmight be made the righteousness to the kingdom of heaven. I will of God in him. This it high- hazard a thought, that were the ly concerns us most seriously to sacred oracles studied and comconsider ; and it is all which it pared more, godly edification concerns us to know on this sub- would be better consulted. ject.

The preacher who has a clear On the deep things of God, we view of his subject, will find no know not how to order our speech. difficulty in the arrangement, or Human theories and deductions in expressing his thoughts with may never be substituted for the precision. Loose declamation, doctrine of Christ and the apos- florid and sonorous language, aftles. We shut the kingdom against fected oratory, warm extemporamen, when we would impose any neous effusions, may afford a human system as essential to momentary gratification to light

minds : But religion is a reason. will avail himself: When his able service. Shall the passion's weapon is ready to be wrested usurp the throne, and keep rea- from him, he will take entire son at their footstool?

possession of it under another Paul's manner was to reason shape. He who engages in conwith his hearers : with the Jews troversy will find himself surout of their scriptures.* With rounded in a net, where, though the heathen he appealed to the he may think it easy to break works of nature and providence;$ each single thread; yet it will and to the law written in their prove an endless labour to break hearts. With both he appealed them all ; and whilst he is thus

; to the miraculous confirmation engaged, his opponent, if skilof the gospel. His preaching ful, will not forget to weave the indeed was pungent as well as web anew."* rational. No one ever learnt The gospel exhibits no such from him a frigid, unanimated idea of God's grace, as precludes address to men on immortal con. the atonement, and the necessity cerns.

of the operation of the Spirit; The design of preaching is to nor such an idea of atonement, shew fallen creatures their pover- as enervates our obligations to ty, misery, blindness and naked- the grace which provided it, or Dess; and, by proclaiming the denies the necessity of the renunsearchable riches of Christ, to ovation of the Holy Ghost ; nor persuade them to buy of him re- such an idea of the Spirit's enfined gold, and white raiment. ergy, as implies that the subject How remote from this design are of it may plead his own perfecdiscourses which are merely cal- tion, and therefore needs neither culated to gratify an Athenian cu- a ransom nor grace to justify riosity; or to please a few who him. The first would be to rehave a taste for fine speculations ; ly on grace in contempt of the or to exhibit the preacher as a plan through which it superachampion, in religious controver- bounds. The second denies the

honour due to the Father of A clear manifestation of

mercies, who first loved us; and, the truth, as it is in Jesus, is as the highest instance of love, a more sure as well, as more eli- gave his only begotten Son to be gible course to maintain and the propitiation for our sins. spread his cause, than a direct The last is to say that we have and formal refutation of error. no sin ; which is to make God “Error,” it is observed, “posses- a liar. The grace of God found ses a wide domain ; and he who



for rebels against undertakes the conquest of the heaven. The voluntary sacrifice whole, undertakes a labour that of Christ is the purchase of is almost infinite. Error is va- their pardon. The sanctificarious and changeable, a circum- tion of the Spirit unto obedience stance of which a skilful hand is the

the qualification of the gospel.

These distinguishing • Acts xvii. 2, 3. Acts v. 22-31. xxiv. 25. Rom. ii. 14, 15.

Christian Observer, vol. I. p. 601. Vol. I. No. 7.



« AnteriorContinua »