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moved out of the way, except that which consists in the opposition of your own hearts; still this opposition will ruin you, if God, who is rich in mercy, do not quicken you while yon are yet dead in sin. If therefore God had done no more than to set open the door of mercy, and left it with you to enter, when you were disposer!, it is just as certain, that you would all go to hell, as ii" no Saviour had been provided. But unwilling and ungrateful as we rebels are, the Lord hath /mr/iosed that his Son shall have a. seed to serve him :—A glorious number of our lost race were given to our Redeemer: —these through grace will be made to come to him. They wiil be pricked in the heart, while t.'iey hear - their unholy character pourtrayed. They will look on him whom they hJve pierced, and mourn. Being born again, they will be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. In view of this free and gracious election, on the part of our offended Sovereign, we are encouraged to preach the gospel to you, and there is encouragement for you to hear it. For it pleases God, by, what the wise men of the world would call, the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe; and to bring the elect to obtain the salvation which there is in Christ Jesus.
Now, if we are correct in our views of depravity, as to the extent and tendency of it;—if men are as destitute of holiness, as a dead body is of life; so that it is proper on this account to say, that they are dead in sin; —if it is the nature and tendency of this totally depraved heart, to reject the most gracious offers of eternal life, and to continue to reject them forever; then it fs certain, that if God had not determined to conquer some by his grace, overcoming the opposition of their hearts, none would have accepted the offers of life. Wherever the purpose of election has gone forward, this effectual, overcoming grace will follow. The doctrine of election, instead of being a doctrine calculated to discourage, is quite the reverse. It is the foundation of en-? couragement. We do not mean to say that it is the foundation, in the same sense as the atonement is; but' it is the foundation of encouragement, that a glorious number of the ruined race of Adam will, notwithstand
ing their native opposition to the atonement, yet be brought to build all their hopes upon it. Truth is all jcalculated to do good ; and as we firmly believe in the doctrine of personal election, and personal reprobation, we have no doubt but that God will make use of the doctrine, to promote his holy cause. That the truth may be established in the heart of the writer, and in the heart of every reader, is an object greatly to be desired. I have now gone through with what I proposed on the doctrine of election; and I would now request every reader to search the scriptures,' that he may determine whether these things are so.
VINDICATION OF THIS DOCTRINAL PROPOSITION; "THAT GOOD MEN, WHILE THEY REMAIN ON EARTH" "ARE NEVER FREE FROM SINFUL IMPERFEC"TION;" BEING A REPLY TO SOME OBJECTIONS MADE AGAINST THIS DOCTRINE IN MR. BANGS* FOURTH LETTER.
Mr. BANGS' Fourth Letter was designed to detect and refute the errors contained in my Fourth Sermon. The text of this Sermon is Eccles. vii. 20: For there is not a just man ufion earth, that doeth good, andsinneth not. The doctrinal proposition which was supposed to be contained in the text is this ; "That good men, while they remain on the earth, are never free from sinful imperfection." In considering this doctrinal proposition, two things were attempted; I. To prove that good men are sinfully imperfect in this life; II. To show the consistency of this divine constitution of things, that it should be so.
To establish the point, that the saints are sinfully imperfect in this life, four arguments were introduced; 1. The religious experiences of the apostle Paul, who was one of the most eminent among the saint's, and not a whit behind the first of the apostles. 2. The account given of the christian warfare, as implying a strife between theflesh and the spirit; particularly as this warfare is described, Gal. v. 17. 3. The history of the saints, both as to their inward exercises, and their outward conduct. 4. It was attempted to be established by a few plain unequivocal passages of scripture.
In speaking of the consistency of this constitution of things, to wit, that the saints in this life should remain sinfully imperfect, it was shown, that this plan was calculated to make the saints eternally more penitent, humble, thankful, and every way meet for their heavenly inheritance; and also, that it was calculated to display the whole of the Redeemer's character to better advantage, and thus to make him more precious to them w;ho believe.
Mr. B. complains in' the beginning of this Letter, that I have misrepresented their sentiments on the subject of Perfection. If I have done it, I can say, with a good conscience, I did not design to do it. If they do hot hold to a tin/ess perfection in this life, I would ask; 'What did Mr. Bangs dispute about, on the 4th question in the public Debate? In my sermon on the sinful imperfection of the saints in this life, I have this Note in the 103d page: '^It has been doubted by some, whether the Methodists really hold to a sinless perfection in this life. But the matter is put beyond doubt, that they do hold to such a perfection in this life, by the argument, which they use in their book of Discipline, against the power of death to sanctify. By this argument, the words of which are not recollected, it appears, they do hold that saints in this life are as sinless as they will be in heaven." Mr. B. says, there is no sucb, thiftg in the book to which 1 refer. The book to which 1 meant to refer now lies before me, and is entitled, "The Doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America." I have just been looking Cver all which it contains on the subject of Christian Perfection, and am led to think, that it must have been some other book in which I found the argument referred to in the N*te; for it is pretty fresh in my recol-iection, that the argument was managed in this way; —-' That we cannot go to heaven without perfect sanctificatidr); but that as death is no sanctifier, we must be sanctified before death; and if it may be a minute before death, it may be an hour, a day, a year, or any other period.' And tho' I do not find this argument thus extended, in the book now before me ; yet the ar
gument is most evidently implied. In p. f09, Eighth Philadelphia Edition, the question is put; " What ii the point where we divide? An°. It is this: Should we expect to be saved from all sin before the article of death?" On tie next page, it is asked; "But how does it appear, that this is to be done before the article of death?" It then proceeds to give reasons to induce us to believe, that the love of God will fill all the hrarf, so that there can be no sin there, before the article of death—that is, while the saints live here in this world. Now I would ask, If the Methodists do not mean to teach, that the -saints do in this life arrive at the same .sinless perfection as in heaven, why do they state, that the point which divides them from their brethren is this: " Should we expect to be saved from all sin before the article of death I" Does not this most obviously imply, that they hold to the same perfection before death, which their brethren hold to after death? Where then is the misrepresentation of which I have been guilty? There are a number of questions in the 126th page, which show, that I have not misrepresented their sentiments, their book being judge. "Docs the soul's going out of the body effect its purification from indwelling sin?" This question must mean; Is not the soul as much freed from indwelling sin, before it leaves the body, as afterwards ?—i. e. Are not saints living in this world as free from indwelling sin, as they 'will be when they live in heaven ? If it does not mean this, it has no meaning at all which affects the controversy between us ; for they cannot suppose, that we hold that death has any power to sanctify. They must know that it is ourbelief, that it is the HolySfiirit who begins, carries on, and perfects the work of sanctification. The question is, when die Holy Spirit perfects this good work, so thatall indwelling sin is removed. There is nothing absurd in saying, that God has fixed upon the article of death, as the time to finish this work, any more than to suppose any other period fixed upon. The Methodists say, that sanctification becomes complete in this UJe. Would it be candid for me to assert, That the Methodists hold, that this life is a great sanctifier? Hut it would be as proper, as it is for them to represent our doctrine as making "death act as a puiifisr; and