Imatges de pÓgina
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ANSWER

TO THE

BISHOP of LONDON's

LAST

PASTORAL LETTE R.

My Lord,

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Need make no apology for troubling your Lordthip with this. As your Lordship was pleased to make me the chief fubject matter of your laft Paftoral Letter, I think it my duty to answer in the best manner I can.

Your Lordship is highly to be commended, for the care you have taken in watching over the fouls of those, who are committed to your Lordship's charge. Lukewarmness and enthusiasm, are the two rocks against which even well-meaning people are in danger of splitting. All ought to be thankful to that pilot, who will teach them to steer a safe and middle course. I would gladly hope, that "a zeal for God in the discharge of your duty, and a hearty concern for the fafety of fouls," moved your Lordship to write. These are the principles, I truft, which now excite me, to direct this answer to your Lordship. And, bleffed be God, that I can write with fomewhat of that love and meekness, which be comes a difciple of JESUS CHRIST, and with all that humi lity and reverence, which is due from a prefbyter to a bishop of the church of God.

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Lukewarmnefs and enthufiafm, my Lord, are certainly the bane of true chriftianity. I thank your Lordship again for your kind cautions against them. The only query is, "Whether there was any occafion for your Lordship's warning the people of your diocefe, against running into either of thefe extremes, upon account of any thing, I have either spoken. or written?" Your Lordship thinks there was, and quotes paffages out of my Journal to prove it; if it can be proved, I will ask public pardon, both of your Lordship and them, with all my heart.

As for your Lordship's cautions against lukewarmness, I am not much concerned in them. You do not feem to point at me in particular; unless it is, where your Lordship (pag. 10.) informs your people, "That a diligent attendance on the, duties of the ftation wherein Providence has placed them, is, in the ftricteft fenfe, the ferving of GOD." None but thofe, who condemn me unheard, can justly charge me with affirming to the contrary.

However, I beg leave to obferve, that your Lordship, (p. 8.) calls that a very imperfect ftate of chriftianity, which is no ftate of chriftianity at all. St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, 2 Cor. chap. xiii. ver. 5, fays, "Examine yourfelves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your ownfelves." And that they might have a certain rule, whereby to judge whether they were in the faith, truly fo called, or not; he immediately adds, "Know ye not your ownfelves, how that CHRIST JESUS is in you, except ye be reprobates?" So that, according to St. Paul's rule," He that finds, he has hitherto contented himfelf with a bare bodily attendance upon the public worship of GOD, and with following his daily employment on other days, and with abstaining from the more grofs and notorious acts of fin, and from doing any hurt or injury to his neighbour, and has refted finally upon thefe, as the whole of what christianity requires of him;" is so far from being in a very imperfect ftate, as your Lordship is pleased to affirm, pag. 8. that he is in no state of christianity at all. No, my Lord, he is a reprobate, or, one who at present is out of a ftate of falvation, nor can he ever have any affurance that he is in a ftate of falvation, till he knows that JESUS CHRIST is in him, by the indwelling of his Holy Spirit. If

I have mistaken your Lordship's expreffion, I will freely beg your Lordship's pardon.

Another thing, my Lord, to me feems darkly expressed, in pag. 18. (let not your Lordship be angry, for indeed I will endeavour to speak with all gentleness and humility): your Lordship's words are thefe: "Nor need they any other evidence befides thofe good difpofitions they find in their hearts, that the Holy Spirit of GOD co-operates with their honeft endeavours to fubdue fin and grow in goodness." If by good difpofitions, your Lordship only means good inclinations of defires, I deny that to be a fufficient evidence, that the Spitit of GOD co-operates with their honeft endeavours to fubdue fin and grow in goodness. For there is a great difference between good defires and good habits: many have one, who never attain the other. Many have good defires to fubdue fing and yet, refting in those good defires, fin has always had dominion over them. A perfon fick of a fever may defire to bet in health, but that defire is not health itfelf. In like manner, many have good difpofitions, or defires to be good, but that is not goodness itself. And confequently men need more evidence than good difpofitions, to prove to themselves or others, "that the Holy Spirit of GOD co-operates with their honest endeavours to fubdue fin." If by good difpofitions, your Lordship means good habits wrought in the heart by the Spirit of GOD, fuch as peace, love, joy, long-fuffering, goodness, truth, &c. I then agree a man needs no other evidence: for these are the proper and genuine fruits of the Spirit itself.

Your Lordship immediately adds, "Nor that, perfevering in their course, and praying to GOD for his affiftance, and relying upon the merits of CHRIST for the pardon of all fuch fins, failings, and imperfections, as are more or less unavoidable in this mortal fate." I beg leave to ask your Lordship, whether this does not favour too much of the common divinity, That we are to do fomething for ourfelves: or, in other words, that we have partly a righteousness of our own, and that JESUS CHRIST is to make up the deficiencies of that righteoufnefs? What elfe can your Lordship mean, by faying, That we must rely on the merits of CHRIST for the pardon of all fuch fins as are more or lefs unavoidable in this mortal ftate?" Did JESUS CHRIST Come into the world,

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my Lord, only to fave us from the guilt of fuch fins, as are more or lefs unavoidable in this mortal ftate? The fcriptures every where affirm, that man hath no righteoufness of his own, "That there is none righteous, no not one ;-that all our righteousness is as filthy rags;" and that JESUS CHRIST died, not only to fave us from the guilt of all fuch fins, failings, and infirmities, as are more or lefs unavoidable in this mortal ftate, but from all wilful fins, and alfo from that original corruption, which every man naturally engendered of the offspring of Adam, brings into the world with him. I hope I have not misunderstood, or overstrained your Lordship's expreffion.

I come now to your Lordship's caution against enthufiafm. For that, I fuppofe, your Lordship intended more particularly against me.

And here, my Lord, I beg leave to obferve, That, in my opinion, your Lordship has by no means been clear enough in your definition of the word enthusiasm.

According to the fair rules of writing, was it not first incumbent on your Lordship to fhew, that the word enthufiaft had a good as well as a bad meaning: that it fignifies no more than a perfon in God, and confequently every chriftian, in the proper fenfe of the word, is an enthufiaft? For St. Peter writes, "That to us are given exceeding great and precious promises, that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature."

And our church fays, "If we receive the facrament worthily, we are one with CHRIST, and CHRIST with us: we dwell in CHRIST, and CHRIST in us." For which he has fufficient warrant from our LORD's prayer, John xvii. 20, &c. "Neither pray I for thefe alone, but for them also which fhall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, I in them, and they in me, that they may be made perfect in one: that the love wherewith thou haft loved me, may be in them, and I in them."

But indeed your Lordship's definition of enthusiasm, when examined, does not convey any ill idea at all. "Enthufiafm, is a strong perfuafion on the mind, that they are guided in an extraordinary manner, by immediate impulfes

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