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in extravagant zeal, to any one of now able:" and he gives a reason greater moderation, "If you really for this conduct, which proves that believe these doctrines, why do you many in our congregations are not preach them so sparingly, cau- able: namely, the prevalence of tiously, and practically?" I would strife and contention among them. desire such a man carefully to study Cor. ii. 2 Peter, iii. 16.
even Paul's Epistles, and to answer The truth is, many persons would the objection himself. Perhaps he scarcely hear any thing except these may thus find, that there is not a doctrines! but though I firmly beless proportion on such subjects in lieve them, and should be glad for our sermons and publications, than all real Christians to have the comin his writings: and that he as fort of them; yet, when they are carefully guards them from perver-disjointed from their practical influsion, and connects them as much ence, they form in my judgment a with holy practice, as we can do. very small part of Christianity. If We generally meet with a few verses God be pleased to bless the word in in an Epistle, upon the doctrines in bringing men to repentance, faith, question; a much larger proportion and holiness, to a Christian hope, upon the person, love; and suffer- temper, and conduct; we shall in ings of Christ, and on faith in him; general find it no hard matter to and whole chapters upon a holy life convince them that this is the fruit and conversation: and if we do not of electing love, and the sure earnest in the same manner, proportion, of eternal glory. And if a few do guard, and connect these doctrines, not see their privilege here, they hypocrites will pervert them, infi- will eternally rejoice in it hereafter. dels will despise them, and the 2. God's secret purposes are conweak will be stumbled by them. sistent with his revealed declaraIndeed they are not at all proper tions. Let then no sinner vainly subjects for addresses to sinners, to endeavour to excuse his sins, or prejudiced hearers, or to newly-quiet his conscience, by a perversion awakened persons; and are seldom, of these doctrines. Though "the if ever, found in Scripture explicitly salvation of the righteous is wholly thus addressed: but a great part of of the Lord;" the damnation of the our more public ministry is exer- wicked is wholly of themselves: and cised among such persons. Let it if the lustre of these truths dazzles not then be thought carnal policy the eyes of some poor distressed to adapt our discourses to the occa- souls, some weak believers or insions and wants of the hearers, while quirers; let them turn their attennothing inconsistent with truth is tion to another part of divine truth. spoken, nothing profitable kept back. Still, still this is true, "Every one Our Lord himself says, "I have yet that asketh receiveth, and he that many things to say unto you, but ye seeketh findeth, and to him that cannot bear them now:" and Paul knocketh it shall be opened*." writes to some, who had as good an opinion of themselves, as numbers now have, and with almost as little reason," I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat, for hitherto ye were not able to bear it; neither yet are ye
S. How careful should we be to ascertain the reality of our conversion, before we take the comfort of
"We must receive God's promises in such wise as they be generally set forth in holy Scripture; and in our doings the will of God is to be followed, which we have God." (17th Art.) expressly declared unto us in the word of
perseverance! An error in this mat- that your zeal for the doctrine do ter proves fatal to thousands, who, not lead you into a spirit and conmistaking some transient emotions duct, diametrically opposite to that and affections for a saving change, humility, compassion, meekness, and buoy up their hopes to the end by gentleness, which it is calculated to perverting these truths, and perish inspire. If Calvinists dispute with with a lie in their right hand. And acrimony, pass hard censures, spread let it be especially observed, that slanderous reports about others, the scriptural way of "making our judge another man's servants, and calling and election sure," is, by be quarrelsome and implacable; the giving all diligence, not only in the doctrines which they profess are not means of grace, but in following to blame, nor yet their belief of after holiness, and abounding in them; but their want of more inevery good work. 2 Peter i. 3-11. ward holiness, if indeed they be not 4. The genuine tendency of these wholly unsanctified. Yet the cause doctrines, (as completely excluding suffers, and the truth is disgraced, boasting, leading us to ascribe all through their misconduct: and one the glory of contriving, preparing, moderate man, who loves and is revealing, and applying salvation, kind to Christians, without respect wholly to God the Father, Son, and of party, and who differs from his Holy Ghost; and thus producing brethren peaceably and charitably, deeper humiliation, and inspiring where constrained to differ; and more lively gratitude, than any adorns his profession by a holy life other system,) forms their chief ex- and conversation, will do more even cellency. Did we entirely and con- in bringing others, cordially and stantly live under their influence, intelligently to embrace his sentiwe could never despise others, ad- ments, than twenty angry disputants mire and prefer ourselves, or be who humour the pride and maligangry with such as differed from nant passions of their own party, us. We should "in meekness in- but disgust and prejudice the minds struct those who oppose them- of all who differ from them-" Put selves:" we should argue, persuade, on, therefore, as the elect of God, and exhort them; because these are holy and beloved, bowels of mercy, the means which God hath appoint- kindness, humbleness of mind, meeked, and we may hope for his blessing ness, long-suffering; forbearing one on them. But, "as the wrath of another, and forgiving one another, man worketh not the righteousness if any man have a quarrel against of God," we certainly should never any; even as Christ forgave you, so slander or revile others, or contend also do ye." Neither let it be inwith acrimony; or hold up an oppo-ferred from your conduct, that nent to derision and contempt, amidst the zeal of Calvinists for whilst, with an air of conscious su- proselyting others to their tenets, periority, as if "we had made our- they are less active in seeking the selves to differ," we plume ourselves conversion and salvation of sinners, and our party, on preeminent dis- than their brethren whom they call cernment, if not integrity. These are Arminians. If indeed we are true none of the means which God hath believers, God hath made use of appointed; we cannot expect a means and instruments to effect the seblessing on them, nor can they do any credit to the cause.
Take heed, therefore, beloved,
cret purposes of his everlasting love towards us: and what is there in our peculiar opinions, that should render
ON ELECTION AND FINAL PERSEVERANCE.
us less desirous of being his instru- what a dreadful state you are so ments in communicating the same wonderfully delivered; how free to blessing to others; or less sanguine you this deliverance; what a price in our expectations of success while it cost your Redeemer; and what using his appointed means? And he hath done for you, and prepared what other stimulus can we want for you. While you rejoice in the to excite our most self-denying, pe- Lord, rejoice likewise in your triburilous, and zealous endeavours to lations, and rejoice in the hope of spread his Gospel, than the special the glory of God, in all your condistinguishing love of God our Sa- flicts and temptations: and let "the viour, so freely shown in "deliver-love of Christ constrain you to live ing us from the wrath to come," no longer to yourselves, but to him, and" calling us to his eternal glory, who died for you, and rose again.” by Jesus Christ our Lord ?" "Be ye therefore steadfast, unmoveFinally, my Brethren, if you have able, always abounding in the work attained to a scriptural assurance of of the Lord; forasmuch as ye know your calling and election, "give di- that your labour is not in vain in ligence to the full assurance of hope the Lord."
unto the end: "remember from
MOST IMPORTANT SUBJECTS IN RELIGION.
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.-Isaiah, viii. 20.
and be happy; and some of them
On the Divine Inspiration of the entertained hopes that such an inestimable favour would at length be vouchsafed. Indeed confused Ir is manifest to all, who seriously expectations of this kind have been reflect on the powers and propen- common in the world; as is manisities of human nature, that we are fest from the reception that hath formed capable of religion, and have been given to pretended revelaan inward consciousness that we tions, which otherwise could not ought to worship some superior have obtained credit and currency. Being, on whom our safety and Various impositions, in this mathappiness depend: but, at the same ter, have been detected by a careful time, the state of the world, in all investigation; and there is but one places where the Bible has not been book in the world, which so much known, unanswerably proves, that as appears to be a revelation from we are incapable of discovering for God. This has stood the test of ourselves, a religion which is worthy ages, and undergone the most seof God, suited to our wants, and vere scrutiny; and the more it has conducive to our true interest. The been examined by serious inquirers, shortness of life also, and the rea- the fuller conviction have they obsonable persuasion that men in ge- tained of its authenticity. No one neral entertain of a future state, now ventures forth as an avowed concur to show that our grand con- adversary, to dispute its claim in cern lies in another world. Yet the open field of fair argument: uncertainty and perplexity, nay, yet few in comparison are practipalpable error and absurdity, have cally convinced, that it is the unever encumbered men's reasonings erring word of God; and an inand conjectures on these important creasing number of objectors perplex subjects. Even at Athens, Jeho- themselves and others, by discovervah was "the unknown God," Acts, ing supposed inconsistencies, or unxvii. 23; and all beyond the grave important difficulties; or by setting was an unknown world. up their own reasonings and ima
The wisest of the pagans, there- ginations in opposition to its docfore, considered a revelation from trines, and making that disagreethe Deity as exceedingly desirable, ment a ground of hesitation or in order that bewildered mortals rejection. So that scepticism, or might learn the way in which they a partial, frivolous, disingenuous, could worship him with acceptance, carping infidelity, have become
exceedingly common; the minds cording to philosophical exactness, of young persons especially are or in the style that was used in the poisoned by them; great pains are schools of the learned, during the taken to disseminate these cavils ages in which they lived. Supand objections (though they have posed, or unimportant errors, or been solidly answered again and inaccuracies of expression in such again); and those persons are treat- things, are not in the least inconed as weak enthusiasts, or irrational sistent with that entire divine inbigots, who simply believe the spiration of which we speak; for Scriptures as the sure testimony of the Scriptures were not written to God. render us exact philosophers, or to
It may, therefore, be seasonable instruct us in ancient history and to state, with all possible brevity, geography, but to make us wise some of the most conclusive reasons, unto salvation. Nor do the few by which reflecting men have been immaterial mistakes, which in a induced to submit to the authority long course of years have crept in, of the Bible, and to believe, that it through the errors of transcribers, is a revelation from the God of create any difficulty or uncertainty Truth. By the divine inspiration to the humble and teachable inof the Holy Scriptures I mean, such quirer; though they may give ocan immediate and complete dis-casion to the self-sufficient to cavil covery, by the Holy Spirit to the and object; for the "Lord taketh minds of the sacred penmen, of the wise in their own craftiness." those things which could not have Moreover, it is futile and absurd been otherwise known, and such an for any man to dispute against pareffectual superintendency as to those ticular doctrines, as unreasonable, matters which they might be in- to disallow any facts as incredible, formed of by other means, as en- or to quarrel with any divine distirely to preserve them from all pensations as unrighteous, when he error, in every particular, which finds himself unable to answer the could in the least affect any of the plain arguments, which are adduced doctrines or commandments_con- to prove the whole to be the word tained in their writings. Every of God. If our premises be undeproposition, therefore, is to be con- niable, and our deductions unavoidsidered as the sure testimony of able, obstinacy and self-conceit alone God, in that sense, according to will persist in incredulity; and ridiwhich the sacred penmen proposed cule, reviling, subtile insinuations, it as truth. Thus facts occurred, or witty sarcasms, are, in such a and words were spoken, as they case, certain indications of a proud stand recorded in the Scripture, as and bitter enmity to the truth itself. to the import of them, and the in- If, then, the arguments that shall struction to be deduced from them: be adduced, be sufficient to prove but we must judge of those facts, the Bible to be the word of God, I or discourses, by the doctrinal and hope the reader will recollect, that preceptive parts of the Scriptures as a reasonable man, he is bound nor does it at all invalidate the to study, believe, and obey it, as complete inspiration of the sacred the rule and standard of all his writers to allow, that they expressed principles, affections, and conduct. themselves in common language, These things having been premised, and wrote of things as men gene- I observe
rally spoke of them, rather than ac- I. That vast numbers of wise and