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houses: neither are we sanctified by knowing the names of" the christian doctrines; nor can we be sanctified by erroneous and false views of these doctrines. Such views of gospel doctrines are represented in the scriptures, as tending to corrupt the mind, and to produce a most pernicious effect on the heart and life. It is the very truth, which tends to make us free. It is by loving and obeying the truth, that our hearts are purified. The importance of clear, definite, and correct sentiments about the fundamental truths of the gospel, is very great. A child ought not to be destitute of this: But it is utterly inexcusable, for those who have come to mature age, and who live in this land of Bibles and of Sabbaths, to be ignorant of" the first principles of the doctrine of Christ." But it is most of all inexcusable, and criminal, in the teachers of tkis religion, to be either ignorant or erroneous.
". We would remark on the importance of the unlearned reader's being on his guard against receiving every learned criticism, on the mere credit of the critic. We would not despise all learned criticisms: but it would be very dangerous for the common reader to form his sentiments concerning any leading doctrine of the .gospel, on the mere authority of some learned critic, who is acquainted with the Hebrew and Gr««lf languages. Such a reader may generally satisfy himself concerning the correctness of a criticism, which affects a fundamental doctrine, without having recourse to any learned man, cr to any book but the English Bible. Let us take for example three different criticisms, which arc found in the book that has railed forth the preceding Vindication. The first is found in the Letters, p. 32. It is Mr. Bangs' own criticism on Luke xxii. 52. There needs nothing to relieve the mind of the meie English scholar, only to compare his criticism with the pasi ages in the other E\ angelists, where the same thing is brought into view. The second example which 1 sjiall introduce, is Mr. Fletcher's criticism on Acts iv. 27, ?&. It is found in the Letters, pp, 39, 40. This needs nothing to do away its force, only to be placed by the side of the second Psalm, from which 1 lie words in Acts were quoted. The third example shall be Dr. A. Clarke's criticism on Exod. iv. 21. This will be found in the Appendix to the Letters, pp. 30S—S06. The passage is concerning the Lord's hardening the heart of Pharaoh. Aiter making seme other observations on the text, Dr. C. says, "The verb ch'azak, which we translate harden, literally signifies to strengthen, confirm, make bold or courageous: and is often used in the sacred writings, to txciteto duty, perseverance, Crc." Now, tfto' the common reader cannot dispute the learned eiiiic, about the repeatedapplieation of this Hebrew w.urd to an excitement to do good; jet common tense, unaided b) literature, and unbiassed by pie.conceived opinions, ctnclearly discern, that the word is not used in such a it use in this place. All wfik'lj follows in the ten succeeding chapter's, is dirtctly -in opposition.t<i the force of ;ue criticism, Bistdes^be plain unlettered christian, when he finds this case brought up by the apostle, cannot but see that he did not understand ti e Hebrew word, in the sense given in the criticism: but that he understood the hardening of Pharaoh, to be in contrast with his obtaining. mercy. Rom.ix. 17, 18.
If the man of classical learning should by the force of criticism, take from his uneducated neighbor, all the texts which are considered as direct proof of any one of the essential doctrines of the gospel, the captive doctrine could be recovered bats again, by discovering its intimate relation to the whole system of grace. Take for an illustration of this, the doctrine of tota! depravity. If all the texts, which are considered as the most direct proof of this doctrine, (such as Gen. vi. 5; Psal. xiv. Rom. iii.) should be forced away by criticism, when no learned advocate for the doctrine is at hand to grant relief, the christian, who can read the scriptures only in his own tongue can himself rescue it from the hand of the enemy. He will remember it is said," They that are in the Mesh, cannot please God." From this he with certainty infers, that they who are in the flesh, have no holiness in them. He finds that all men in their natural state arc represented as refusing to accept of gospel offers. Hence he concludes, they are wholly opposed to God and holiness. He finds the promises of the gospel are made only to the converted, and yet that they are made to those who have love to God, repentance for sin, &c. without being limited by the degree of their strength. This reader, (we will suppose,) is fully established in a belief of the doctrine ef regenerateon, or of a change of heart: But he sees, that if he gives up the doctrine ot total depravity, he must also give up the doctrine of regeneration. Unless therefore the critic can take away all his foundation at enct, it will be difficult to take from him any one of the fundamental doctrines of the gospel.
3. There is one other remark cf such great importance, that 1 dare not omit it. The remark is this: If the doctrines, which have been vindicated in the preceding viori, are true, vie have great reason to fear3 that if vie do net love thein, it is because vie are in a state of unregentracy. They are either essential doctrines,or they are capital errors. If they are true, they are doctrines, which it must be very unsafe to reject. And yet they are doctrines, which we are greatly exposed te reject, because they are naturally unpalatable. This we know, without going from home to learn it. The same objections which we find in Mr." Bangs' book, and in other Arminian writings, we frequently hear from our neighbors, and from cur own children; who have been instructed in nothing but the Calvinistic doctrines. Kay, we have made these very objections ourselves. " We have seen our hearts rise in dreadful opposition against that God who made, and who governs the world according to his own pleasure, and for his own glory ; and that according to an unalterable plan, which he iaid in eternity. We have seen our
own hearts full of objections against totally depraved creatures' being required to perform holy actions, and that under the pain of eternal death. Our hearts have said, He that requires this, is a hard master, reaping where he has not sown. Our hearts have quarrelled with sovereign distinguishing grace, manifested in renewing one sinner in distinction from another: and our enmity has been drawn forth with peculiar strength, by a belief, that the distinction which is now made between sinners of the same character, was made in the purpose of God, before the foundation of the world We ourselves are that clay, which has replied against the Potter, " Why hast thou made me thus?" "Why doth he yet find fault, for who hath resisted his will .'" These objections against our own doctrines, are things with which we are but too in*.imattlv acquainted. But at the time, when we hope we passed from death unto life, we thought we became recorxiledl.o these doctrines ; and that we rejoicedin them, as clearly exhibiting the glory of God: and the Strength of the hope which we have since entertained, of our having known the grace of God in truth, has been in proportion to the cordiality of our approbation of these views of God and divine things, in connexion with our external obedience. With our present views of christian doctrine, we should not entertain charity for ourselves, tho' our external attention to the duties of morality and piety were increased, if we did not at the same time think, that we could discover in ou» hearts a swaet approbation of the doctrines adiocated in this Vindication. We are well aware, that no attachment to a system of doctrines, which does not lead to holy practice, is to be depended on : nor dare we make dependence on any external obedience, however strict, which does not flow from an inward love of the truth.
Here is a fact which ought to be seriously considered — The unconverted of our own congregations, evidently incline to Arminian sentiments: but when they appear to be converted from prayerless men, into men of serious godliness, it is a common thing for them, to embrace Calvinistic sentiments, acknowledging-that all their former ground of opposition to them, was a proud and wicked heart. I would now ask, whether it be a common thing for the children of Methodistrt and other Arminians, to incline to Calvinistic sentiments before their conversion > Is there not in this respect a manifest difference? And is not this a thing, which ought to arrest the attention, and excite the deepest thought in the minds of those who are our opponents in this controversy 1
1 am no#vv just about to drop my pen and close the present work. But before I do this, I feel constrained to address a word to my readers of the Methodist connexion, if any such readers I shall have. I know, the Searcher of hearts has been a witness of all that I have written. 1 have not knowingly uttered a word of reproach for the sake of reviling you, considered as a people ; or for the sake of injuring the feelings of your brother, who is my particular antagonist in this controversy. His salvation and yours are of great worth, and ought to lie near my heart, like my own salvation, and that of my own people. And how can 1 close, without reminding you i that if you were of our own denomination, and of our own families, and made such opposition to what we esteem to be fundamental truths of the gospel, we could not hot say "we stand in doubt of you."
ON THE GOODNESS OF GOD, MANIFESTED ltf GOVERNING THE HEARTS OF HIS ENEMIES *
Ezra vii. 27.
blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, which hathput such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.
THESE are the words of Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven. The connexion be* tween the text and the context will come into view, under some of the. following divisions of the subject. I. We shall inquire into the character of this king. II It will be shown what he did to beautify the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. III. It will be next in order, to show that it was the God oi Israel who put this thing into the king's heart. IV. It will then be proper to notice the feelings which Ezra entertained towards the God of his fathers, in view of the part which lit acted in this important affair.
I. Our first inquiry is concerning the character of the king, who is spoken of in the text. The name Which the inspired writer gives to this king, is Artax
* This subject is touched upon in the first section of the preceding work: but as Mr. B. made the matter concerning divine efficiency, a very capital objection to our scheme of doctrine; and as there are many among Cahiuisli, who do not appear to have equatty clear views on this, as on other points of doctrine, it was thought it would not be improper, and that it might be subservient to the cause of truth, to subjoin fhfr following Sermon to the preceding Vindication.