Imatges de pÓgina
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tual transgressions, the duties we owe to God, to ourselves, and to one another. Ver. 10. “ If we say, that we have «c not linned, we make him a liar, and his word is not «. in us.” If we say, that now we are light in the Lord, we have transgressed his precepts in no instance, in thought, word or deed; we hereby give God the lie, and prove

that we never felt the saving efficacy of his word.

Absolute freedom from sin is therefore never attained in this life; for if it ever was attained, a conscious. ness and acknowledgment of such attainment could not, in that instance, be inconsistent with grace. sibly a good man, while he feels and laments his own shortcomings, may rashly infer from the commands of being perfect, that even in this life one may cease to fin. However, from this passage it is clear, that the man who is so far gone in self-fattery, as to imagine that he him. self has attained a finless perfection, makes God a liar, re.. presents his law as less strict and holy than it really is, and evidences that God's word has never had any saving efficacy upon his soul. Such thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, is opposite to that poverty of spirit, without which there is no Christianity; and prevents daily penitent application to the blood of Jesus, a habitual watchfulness against the occasions of lin, and a tender pity for our offending brethren What then shall we think of Peter Bohler, who with three other Mora. vians testified to Mr Welley of their own personal experie ence, that a true living faith in Christ is inseparable from a senle of pardon for all past, and freedom from all prea sent fins *? What shall we think of those in the neigh• bourhood of Leeds, of whom Mr Wesley gives this ac. count in his Journal, from 17th June 1758, to 5th May 1760, p. 983.? “ Having desired' that as many as could of the neighbouring towns, who believed they were “ saved from fin, would meet me, I spent the greatest

part of this day in examining them one by one. The " testimony of some I could not receive: but concern« ing the far greatest part, it is plain, (unless it could be “ fupposed that they tell wilful and deliberate lies), at 1. That they feel no inward sin, and, to the best of their “ knowledge, commit no outward sin. 2. That they see « and love God every moment, and pray, rejoice, and give thanks evermore.” Or what of Mr Wesley himself? who says, “This I know, I have now peace with God: and I fin

* Wesley's Journal from 1st Feb. 1738, to his return from Germany, 2d edition, p. 29.

1. That * Ib. p. 31:

not to day, and Jesus my master has forbid me to take “ thought for the morrow *. And again," I have con« ftant peace, not one uneasy thought; and I have freedom « from sin, not one unholy desire t.” Nay, what shall we think of every one, who has thoroughly imbibed the system and spirit of Mr Wesley ? According to him,

none can have true faith, without knowing that he hath « it; for whosoever hath it, is freed from sin, the whole “ body of sin is destroyed in him ." Mr Wesley then acknowledges none for believers, fave such, who know they have faith, and know it from their freedom from fin; i, e. who know it from experiencing, what, according to scripture, none who are true believers can imagine they have experienced. If Mr Wesley declares in his cool judgment, and in the presence of the most high God, that he believes the mystic writers to be one great Antichrist, for so zealously inculcating a refined way of trusting to our own works and righteousness II: what claims can be have to genuine Christianity, whole professed experience gives God the lie! " Say I these things as a man, or faith

not the law the same also?" It is a deadly charity that flatters nien with a persuasion that they are in the way of life, whom scripture pronounces in the way of destruction. And neither Mr Wesley's seeming ftridness of behaviour, nor the miracles by which he alledges God has sometimes attested his million to will justify thofe

who

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+ Ib. p. 32•

Journal from his embarking for Georgia to his return to London, 2d edition, p. 70. 1 Journal from 1st Feb.pi27.

f Indeed he does it with no small caution and address. He observes, Letter to the Bishop of Gloucester, p. 78, that no wise man can defire or expect miracles, to prove doctrines that have been proved by scripture and reason; or facts that have been proved by teftimony; or these self-evident propositions, “ that S to change finners from darkness to light is the work of God " alone;" and “ that such a change wrought in so many noto

is rious

who forget the cautions of the wise man, Prov. xix. 27.* “ Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err “ from the words of knowledge," and Prov. xiv. 12.

6. There

" rious Ginners, in fo short a time, is a great and extraordinary “ work of God." Yet miracles, though unnecessary, he thinks have been wrought.

Ib. p. 65.-09. “But if miracles are not ceafed, why do you not. prove your mislion thereby?” As your Lordship has frequently spoke to this effect, I will now give a clear answer. And I purpose ly do it, in the same words which I published many years since.

1. I have in some measure explained myself on the head of miracles, in the third part of the Farther Appeal. But since you repeat the demand, (though without taking any notice of the arguments there advanced), I will endeavour once more to give you a distinct, full, and determinate answer. And, first, I acknow.. ledge, that I have seen with my eyes, and heard with my ears, several things, which, to the best of my judgment cannot be ac-' counted for, by the ordinary course of natural causes; and which, I therefore believe, ought to be ascribed to the extraordinary interposition of God. If any. ban chuse to style these miracles; I reclaim not. I have diligently inquired into the facts. I have wcighed the preceding and following circumstances. I have strove to account for them in a natural way, but could not, without doing violence to my reason. 'Not to go far back, I am.clearly pera fuaded, that the sudden deliverance of John Haydon, was one in-stance of this kind, and my own recovery on May the roth, another. I cannot account for either of these in a natural way; therefore I believe they were both fupernatural.

" I must, secondly, observe, that the truth of these facts is supported by the same kind of proof, as that of all other facts is wont to be, namely, the testimony of competent witnesses; and that the testimony here, is in as high a degree as any reasonable man can desire. Those witnesses were many in number : they could not be deceived themselves; for the fact in question they saw with their own eyes, and heard with their own ears. Nor is it credible, that fo many of them would combine together with a view of deceiving others; the greater part being men who feared God, as appeared by the general tenor of their lives. Thus in the case of Jo. Haydon : this thing was not contrived and executed in a corner, and in the presence of his own family only, or three or four persons prepared for the purpose. No; it was in an open street in the city of Bristol, at one or two in the afternoon. And the doors being open from the beginning, not only many of the neighbours, from every Gide, but several others (indeed whosoever defired it) went in, till the house could contain no more. Nor yet does the account of my own illness and recovery depend, as you suppose, on my bare word. There were many witnesses both of my disorder on Friday and Saturday,

and

" There is a way which seemeth right unto à man; but “ the end thereof are the ways of death.”

If

and my lying down most part of Sunday, (a thing they were well satisfied could not be the effect of a slight indisposition); and all who saw me that evening, plainly discerned (what I could not wholly conceal) that I was in pain : about two hundred of whom were present, when I was seized with the cough, which cut me short, so that I could speak no more ; till I cried aloud, “ Lord, increase my faith: Lord, confirm the word of thy grace." The fame persons saw and heard, that at that inftant I changed my posture, and broke out into thanksgiving: that quickly after I food upright, (which I could not before, and liewed no sign either of fickness or pain.

" Yet I muft defire you well to observe, thirdly, that my will, or choice, or defire, had oo place either in this, or any case of this kiod, that has ever fallen under my notice. Five minutes before I had no thought of :his. I expected nothing less. I was willing to wait for a gradual recovery, in the ordinary use of outward means. I did not look for any other cure, till the moment before I found it. And it is my belief, that the case was always the same with regard to the most real and undoubted miracles. I believe God neyer interposed his miraculous power, but according to his own sovereign will: not according to the will of man; neither of him by whom he wrought, nor of any other man whatsoever. The wisdom, as well as the power, are his : nor can I find that ever, from the beginning of the world, he lodged this power in any mere man, to be used whenever that man faw good. Suppose, therefore, there was a man now upon carth, who did work real and undoubted miracles; I would ak, by whose power doth he work these and at whose pleasure ? His own, or God's? Not his own; but God's. But if so, then your demand is made oot on man, but on God. I cannot say it is modest, thus to challenge God; or well-suiting the relation of a creature to his Creator.

2. However, I cannot but think, there have been already so many interpofitions of divine power, as will shortly leave you without excuse, if you either deny or despise them. We defire no favour ; but the justice that diligent inquiry may be made concerning them. We are ready to name the persons on whom the power was fhewn, which belongeth to none but God, (not one or two, or ten or twelve only); to point out their places of abode : and we engage, they shall answer every pertinent question, fairly and directly; and, if required, shall give all these answers upon oath, before any who are impowered to receive them. It is our particular request, that the circumftances which went before, which accompanied, and which followed after the facts under consideration, may be throughly examined, and punctually noted down. Let but this be done, (and is it not highly needful it should, at least by those who would form an exact judgment?),

and

If any suspect that I have given unfair extracts or a. bridgments of Mr Wesley's writings, they may, at a very small expence of time and money, compare my references

with and we have no fear that any reasonable man should scruple to say, This hath God wrought.

“ As there have been already so many instances of this kind, far beyond what we dared to ask, or think, I cannot take upon me to say, whether or no it will please God to add to their number. I have not herein known the mind of the Lord, neither am I his couno sellor. He may, or he may not; I cannot affirm or deny. I have no light, and I have no desire either way. It is tbe Lord: let him do what seemeth him good. I defire only to be as clay in his hand."

Bishop Warburton's Do&trine of Grace, and Mr Wesley's Letter to the Bishop, refer to many passages in Mr Wesley's Journals concerning his alledged miracles

I find no instances among them of raising the dead, giving sight to those born blind, dr. And though there are many accounts of remarkable recoveries from sickness, extraordinary deliverances, judgments on scoffers or apoftates, and pretended dispoffedion of devils ; yet the circumstances of some of these accouets do not exclude a possibility of imposture, and the rest may be fairly ascribed to Providence, not miraculously exerted to attest the truth of a doctrine, but cooperating with ordinary, natural, or moral causes. God's approbation or disapprobation cannot be safely concluded from extraordinary deliverances, or sudden and unusual calamities. These things come alike to all men.

Besides a party may be justly cenfurable, though judgments fall on men who scoff at it, or forsake it, for appearances of piety and strictness, and not for any thing really amiss.

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There is cause to suspect Mr Wesley may have exaggerated facts that tend to the honour of his party, from his rathners in asserting falsehoods to the disparagement of others. Journal from 16th Feb. 1755, to 16th June 1758, p. 17, speaking of the causes why the religious concern in Scotland and New England has been of Norter continuance than that in England under the Methodist teachers, he says " It docs not become us to judge peremptorily : but perhaps some of them may be these. 1. Many of them became wife in their own eyes. They seemed to think they were the men, and there were none like them: and hence they refused God the liberty of sending

by whom lie would send, and required him to work by men of learning, or not at all.

Many of them were bigots, immoderately attached either to their own opinions or modes of worship. Mr Edwards himself was not clear of chis. But the Scotch bigots were beyond all .others ; placing Arminianisın (so called) on a level with Deism, and the church of England with that of Rome. Hence they not only suffered in themselves and their brethren a bitter zeal, but applauded themselves therein, in thewing the same fpirit agaipit all who differed from them, as the Papists did against our

forefathers,

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