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jection against him that he delivered it without book. But the way proposed by Archbishop Secker seems far preferable, on account of the unnecessary increase of labour to the minister, and because the repeating of a sermon will most generally appear, as the Archbishop justly expresses it, like “the saying of a lesson.” Many other authorities of the greatest note might be adduced (as thuse of Bp. Wilkins, Bp. Burnet, Abp. of Cambray, &c.) if it were the Author's wish to vindicate this mode of preaching: but he is far from thinking it proper for all persons, or in all places. He considers it however as extremely useful, where a minister's talents will admit of it. But, after all, the great concern both of Ministers and private Christians is, to enjoy the blessing of God upon their own souls. In whatever manner the truth may be delivered, whether from a written discourse or memoriter, or from a welldigested plan, they may expect that God will accompany it with a divine energy, if they be looking up to Him in the exercise of faith and prayer. In this hope the following Sermon, and the Skeletons annexed to it, are sent forth into the world: and if, by means of them, the excellency of the Gospel may be more clearly seeni, its importance more deeply felt, and its strengthening, comforting, sanctifying efficacy more richly experienced, the Author's labours will be abundantly repaid.
IV. The Sentiments and Doctrines contained in them.
IN the discussion of so many subjects, it cannot fail but that every doctrine of our holy religion must be more or less canvassed. On every point the Author has spoken freely, and without reserve. As for names and parties in religion, he equally disclaims them all: he takes his reli. gion from the Bible; and endeavours, as much as possible, to speak as that speaks. Hence, as in the Scrip
h If in any thing he grounded his sentiments upon human au. thority, it would not be on the dogmas of Calvin or Arminius, but on the Articles and Homilies of the Church of England. He has the happiness to say, that he does ex animo, from his inmost soul, believe the doctrines to which he has subscribed: but the reason of his believing them is not, that they are made the Creed of the established Churcli, but, that he finds them manifestly contained in the sacred Oracles.
tures themselves, so also in this work, there will be found sentiments, not really opposite, but apparently of an opposite tendency, according to the subject that is under
discussion. In writing, for instance, on John v. 40. * "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have ife,” he does
not hesitate to lay the whole blame of men's condemnation on the obstinacy of their own depraved will: nor does he think it at all necessary to weaken the subject by nice distinctions, in order to support a system. On the contrary, when he preaches on John vi. 44. "No man can come unto me, except the Father who hath sent me draw him,' he does not scruple to state in the fullest manner he is able, that “ We have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will:"i nor does he judge it expedient on any account to soften, and palliate, and fritter away this important truth. While too many set these passages at variance, and espouse the one in opposition to the other, he dwells with equal pleasure on them both; and thinks it, on the whole, better to state these apparently opposite truths in the plain and unsophisticated manner of the Scriptures, than to enter into scholastic subtleties, that have been invented for the upholding of human systems. He is aware, that they who are warm advocates for this or that system of religion, will be ready to condemn him as inconsistent: but, if he speak in exact conformity with the Scriptures, he shall rest the vindication of his conduct simply on the authority and example of the Inspired Writers. He has no desire to be wise above what is written, nor any conceit that he can teach the Apostles to speak with more propriety and correctness than they have spoken.
It may be asked perhaps, How do you reconcile these doctrines, which you believe to be of equal authority and equal importance? But what right has any man to impose this task on the preachers of God's word? God has not required it of them; nor is the truth or falshood of any doctrine to be determined absolutely by this criterion. It is presumed, that every one will acknowledge
i The Tenth Article.
the holiness of God, and the existence of sin; but will any one undertake to reconcile them? or does any one consider the inability of man to reconcile them, as a sufficient ground for denying either the one or the other of these truths? If then neither of these points are doubted, notwithstanding they cannot be reconciled by us, why should other points, equally obvious in some respects, yet equally difficult to be reconciled in others, be incompatible, merely because we, with our limited capacity, cannot perfectly discern their harmony and agreement?
But perhaps these points, which have been such a fruit-, ful source of contention in the church, are not so opposite to each other as some imagine: and it is possible, that the truth, may lie, not exclusively in either, nor yet in a confused mixture of both, but in the proper
and seasonable application of them both; or, to use the language of St. Paul, “ in rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Here the Author desires to speak with trembling. He is aware that he is treading upon slippery ground; and that he has but little prospect of satisfying any who have decidedly ranged themselves under the standard either of Calvin or Arminius. But he wishes to be understood: he is not solicitous to bring any man to pronounce his Shibboleth; much less has he any design to maintain a controversy in support of it: he merely offers an apology for the sentiments contained in his publication, and, with much deference, submits to the Public his views of scrip. ture truth: and, whether they be perfectly approved or not, this he hopes to gain from all parties, a favourable acceptance of what they do approve, and a candid forbearance in the points they disapprove.
This being premised, he will proceed to state the manner in which these apparently opposite tenets may, in his judgment, be profitably insisted on.
It is supposed by many, that the doctrines of grace are incompatible with the doctrine of man's free-will
; and that therefore the one or the other must be false. But why so? Can any man doubt one moment whether he be a free-agent or not? he may as well doubt his own existence. On the other hand, will any man who has the smallest spark of humility, affirm, that he has “made himself to differ; and that he bas something which he has
not received” from a superior power?" Will any one refuse to say with the apostle, “By the grace of God I am what I am?"
Again; as men differ with respect to the first beginnings of a work of grace, so do they also with respect to the manner in which it must be carried on; some affirming, that God has engaged to “perfect that which concerneth us;” and others, that even St. Paul had reason to fear "lest he himself should become a cast-away.” But why should these things be deemed incompatible?" Does not every man feel within himself a liableness, yea, a proneness to fall? Does not every man feel, that there is corruption enough within him to drive him to the commission of the greatest enormities, and eternally to destroy his soul? He can have but little knowledge of his own heart who will deny this. On the other hand, who that is holding on in the ways of righteousness, does not daily ascribe his stedfastness to the influence of that grace, which he receives from God; and look daily to God for more grace, in order that he may be kept by his power through faith unto salvation?" No man can in any mea. sure resemble the scripture saints, unless he be of this disposition. Why then must these things be put in opposition to each other, so that every advocate for one of these points must of necessity controvert and explode the other? Only let any pious person, whether Calvinist or Arminian, examine the language of his prayers after he has been devoutly pouring out his soul before God, and he will find his own words almost in perfect consonance with the foregoing statement. The Calvinist will be confessing the extreme depravity of his nature, together with his liability and proneness to fall; and the Arminian will be glorifying God for all that is good within him, and will commit his
ki Cor. iv. 7.
11 Cor. xv. 10. - Benhadad might have recovered from his disease, though God bad decreed that, by Hazael's device, he should die of it (2 Kings viii
. 10.) So we may (for aught that there is in us) die in our sins, though God has decreed that he will save us from death. In both cases the decree of God stands; but the possibility of the event, as considered in itself, remains unaltered. Neither our liableness to perish prevents the execution of God's decree; nor does his decree alter our liableness (in ourselves) to perish.
ni Pet. i. 5. Vol. I.
soul to God, in order that “ He who has laid the foundation of his own spiritual temple, may also finish it.”'
Doubtless either of these points may be injudiciously stated, or improperly applied. If the doctrines of Election and Predestination be so stated as to destroy man's free agency, and make him merely passive in the work of salvation, they are not stated as they are in the Articles and Homilies of our Church, or as they are in the Holy Scriptures. On the other hand, if the doctrines of freewill and liableness to final apostasy be so stated as to rob
o Zech. iv. 9.
A circumstance within the Author's knowledge reflects so much light upon this subject, that he trusts he shall be pardoned for re. lating it.
A young Minister, about three or four years after he was ordained, had an opportunity of conversing familiarly with the great and venerable leader of the Arminians in this kingdom; and, wishing to improve the occasion to the uttermost, he addressed him nearly in the following words : “ Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to be. gin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions, not from impertinent curiosity, but for real instruction." Permission being very readily and kindly granted, the young Minister proceeded to ask, “ Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved, that you would never have thought of turning unto God, if God had not first put it into your heart?"_" Yes, says the veteran, I do indeed.”—“And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by any thing that you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?”. “ Yes, solely through Christ.”—“ But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?"_“No; I must be saved by Christ from first to last.”—“Allowing then that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?"-"No."-" What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother's arms?”—“ Yes; altogether.”—“And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto his heavenly kingdom?”—“ Yes; I have no hope, but in him."-" Then, Sir, with your leave, I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, ny final perseverance: it is, in substance, all that I hold, and as I hold it: and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree.”
The Arminian leader was so pleased with the conversation, that he made particular mention of it in his journals; and notwithstanding there never afterwards was any connexion between the parties, he retained an unfeigned regard for his young inquirer to the hour of his death.