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And this you amazingly improve into a fault; construe into a proof of dishonesty. You likewise charge me with holding unfound principles, and with saying, “ Right opi-nions are (sometimes) no part of religion."
The last charge I have answered over and over, and very lately to Bp Warburton. Certainly had you read that single tract, you would never have repeated that stale objection.
As to my principles, everyone knows, or may know, that I believe the thirty-first article of the church of England. But can none be saved who believe this? I know you will not say fo. Meantime, in the main point, justification by faith, I have not wavered a moment for these seven and twenty years. And I allow all which Mr Hervey himself contends for, in his entrance upon the subject, “Come to Jesus as a needy beggar: hang upon him as a devoted penfioner." And whoever does this, I will be bold to say, shall not perish everlastingly.
As to your main objection, convince me that it is my duty to preach on controverted subjects, predestination in particular, and I will do it. At prefent, I think it would be a sin, I think, it would create still more divisions. And are there not enough already? I have feen a book wrote by one who stiles himself, Ecclefia Scotica direptæ et gementis Presbyter. Shall I tear ecclefiam direptam et gementem? God forbid ! No; I will, fo far as I can, heal her breaches. And if you really love her, (as I doubt not you do), why should you hinder me from so doing? Has she so many friends and helpers left, that you should Itrive to lessen their number? Would you wish to turn any of her friends, even though weak and mistaken, into enemies? If you must contend, have you not Arians, Socinians, fe. ceders, infidels, to contend with? to say nothing of whoremongers, adulterers, fabbath-breakers, drunkards, common Twearers! O ecclefia gemens! And will you pass by all these, and single out me to fight with? Nay, but I will
I do and will fight with all these, but not with you. I cannot : I dare not. You are the son of
; my fellow-labourer in the gospel of his dear Son. I love your perfon : I love your character : I love the work wherein you are engaged. And if you will still shoot at me, (be
cause Mr Hervey has painted me as a monster), even with arrows drawn from Bishop Warburton's quiver, (how unfit for Mr -'s hand!) I can only say, as I always did before, the Lord Jesus bless you in your soul, in your body, in your relations, in your work, in whatever tends to his own glory! I am,
JOHN WESLEY. Mr Wesley has thought it his duty to write against the doctrine of the Westminster Confession, as to predestination, justification, bc, looking upon it as fatal to precious souls. Where-ever therefore he observes plants growing up, that to him appear so poisonous, true benevolence must needs prompt him to endeavour the rooting them out. In Scotland, as well as in England, these doctrines are preached; and if human nature is the same in North as in South Britain, immoral and licentious opinions must in both have the same effects. If therefore the Methodist preachers in Scotland have not attacked these doctrines, and if Mr Wesley approves their conduct, no reasonable account of this can be given, unless that they prudently conclude, a precipitate attack might alarm many of their new proselytes, occasion their forsaking them, and thus prevent that success, which might probably be secured by delay, till they gain a fuller ascendant over their followers.
This was the light in which I viewed and still view Mr Wesley's conduct, and therefore thought it no way inconlistent with Christian charity, to warn those who as yet believe the doctrines of the Westminster confession, not to put themselves under the inspection of a teacher whose principles must oblige him to undermine, if possible, that belief. I once intended to have writ Mr Wesley; and the only time I ever talked with him, signified to him that intention. But, upon mature reflection, I saw no cause to flatter myself, either that I could procure from him fatisfaction as to what offended me in his writings and conduct, or that I could convince him he was in the wrong. He had, in my apprehension, discovered himself no novice in the arts of lubtilty and disguise. This discouraged me
from a correspondence, which might more probably answer a bad purpose than a good one. A public warning against the growth of Methodism was judged necessary. Those better qualified declining the talk, I was at length prevailed upon to undertake it.
Mr Wesley's catholic charity has not restrained him from declaring his resolution to fight with Seceders, nay, from ranking them with Arians and Socinians *. Their peculiar opinions and practices are much less important than the doctrinal articles in which he differs from the church of Scotland. Why then deems he it uncharitable in a member of that church, to contend with one, who, in the keenest manner, has contended against these doctrinal ar. ticles ?
Thus I have answered what is material in Mr Wesley's letter, except his reference to his letter to the Bishop of Gloucester, which will afterwards fall in my way,
Mr Wesley had faid, Prefergative, p. 192. " We be« lieve that in the moment Adam fell he had no freedom « of will left; but that God, when, of his
grace, " he gave the promise of a Saviour to him and his poite“ rity, graciously restored to mankind a liberty and power " to accept of proffered salvation.” Mr Kershaw alks, p. 80, 81. “ Did the editor insert this paragraph to defeat « his intention, and confute the whole vindication ? Did
ever an Arminian in the world declare, I believe that in " the moment Adam fell he had no freedom of will left ?" I did not charge this paragraph with Arminianism ; nay, I think the first part of it verges to the opposite extreme. The will is endued with that natural liberty, that it is neither forced, nor by an absolute necessity determined to do good or evil. This holds good even with respect not only to the most depraved of mankind, but to devils themselves; otherwise they would cease to be the subjects of God's government, and could not as moral agents be punished for their bad tempers and conduct. You will perhaps plead, that Mr Wesley did not mean to deny man's natural but
* It would be wrong to conclude from this, that Mr Wesley has no charity for Seceders: for Michael Servetus, one of the wildest Antitrinitarians that ever appeared, has been pronounced by him a wife and holy man. C
his moral ability. This laft was undoubtedly toft by the fall: but then, if this is his meaning, he errs in afferting, chat God hath restored to mankind a moral power to ao cept of proffered falvation. A moral power and an inclination is the same thing. If mankind in general were in. clined to accept the proffered salvation, all to whom it is proffered would in fact accept it, as want of jaclination can be the only hinderance of such acceptance. In a word, man by the fall lost not his natural powers, and to man. kind in general moral powers are not restored.
I fee no force in what Mr Kershaw has said to vindicate the Methodists from the charge of forming a church within a church, and leave it without remark. I thank him for correcting my mistake, “ that the Methodist teachers
are fent, continued, or removed, at the pleasure of Mr 4 Wesley," by obferving, p.84.“ Mr Wesley is not without coadjutors, who act in concert with him ; and what is done, is usually done by consent of the whole.”
P.85.-97. Mr Kershaw criticises the editor for saying, “ Could not the Methodists be witnefses to Christianity, “ without that inquiry into one another's religious expe« riences, which Christ has no where enjoined, either as a “ moral duty, or a mean of grace ?” Most of what he says is wide of the point. The lawfulness of religious fo. cieties for prayer, praise, and Christian conference, I never denied; though I think when such focieties meet frequent. ly, and are long together, they are an obstruction to fami. ly and private devotion, and breach of the precept,“ Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work.” Neither did I question the happiness of finding a Christian friend to whom we may freely impart our fpiritual comforts or diAtresses; though I think too, there are cases in which the heart alone should know its own bitterness, and a stranger, however dear to us, should not intermeddle with its joy. What I find fault with, I shall state as briefly as possible.
It appears from p. 88. of the Earnest Appeal, that the re'igious experiences inquired into include all things felt in the minds of religious people, whatever God does for their precious souls, whatever temptations or buffettings they may
feel from Satan, whatever strugglings and workings from a corrupt nature, and all those temptations and con.
ficts in the minds of the religious, arising from the world in its various appearances, connections, or relations, or the providential dispensations by which God proves their virtue, and exercises their patience.
The Methodists conduct their inquiries into religious experiences in this extensive sense of the word: 1. More privately. “There are" (lays, Mr Wesley, Nature, design, and general rules of the united societies, p. 4.) “about " twelve persons in every class, one of whom is styled the " leader.
It is his business to fee each person in his class, once a week at the least, in order to inquire how their “ souls profper, 6c,” 2. More publicly in the meetings of their classes. Earnest Appeal, p. 89. “ The leader or “ teacher alks every one a few questions relating to the « present situation of their minds, in order that he may “ the better speak to their edification."
The church of Rome maiotain, that in the sacrament of penance, it is jure divino necessary to the remission of lins, to confess all and eyery mortal fin, even the most secret, which can with diligent premeditation be called to mind, together with the circumstances which change the kind of fin; and the prieit is directed to afk prudent questions, where the penitent does not exprefs the namber, the kinds, and the necessary circumstances of his fins. Against this, it has been justly objected, that there is the utmost danger of violating modefty, by putting questions, under pretence of searching fio to the bottom, wbich shall fuggest wicked thoughts to the minds of young and upexperienced persons, such as otherwise would never have entered there: and that auricular confession, if it is made a point of conscience to confess the most secret fins, leaves the reputation, and, in fome cases, the life of the laity at the mercy of the clergy, not only by divulging what is confessed, but by improving their knowledge of mens weaknesses, inclinations, 66. to gain an ascendant over them, and to reduce them to fube serve their mercenary or licentious designs. A leader of a class inquiring at the eleven under his charge, what temptations of Satan, what workings of corrupt nature, or conflicts from his worldly circumstances he has encounter. ed, is liable to the very fame abuses. If inquiries are honestly answered, the rest of the class are at the mercy of