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To this therefore we shall now pay the first
I have long been convinced that we do not pay proper attention to the cautions, which God has mercifully given us, to be on our guard against the wiles of the devil. What a caution is this; "Be sober, be vigilant ; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist steadfast in the faith." 1 Pet. v. 8, 9. Paul exhorts the Corinthians to a certain duty, adding this as a motive, "Lest Satan get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices." In the 12th chapter of Revelation, Satan is described as one which deceiveth the whole world. And the effect of his being bound, is, that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years should be fulfilled. Those who are entangled with error are spoken of as in the snare of the devil."In meekness instructing them that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil." How forcible is the exhortation of the apostle, Eph. vi. 11, "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
As to the sarcastic remarks, which are contained in this, and indeed in all the Letters, I have nothing to do with them. I have no personal quarrel with my antagonist. If he views me as one of the ministers of Satan, it is his duty to warn his fellow men against being deceived by If he wiews all Calvinistic ministers, as the ministers of Satan, he will no doubt act consistently with his belief, in exposing them, with a view to prevent their destroying the souls of men. Whether the sermon on Satan's being transformed into an angel of light, was an attempt "to slander the ministers of Christ," by "( se. cret stabs under the garb of friendship," will be seen when the secrets of all hearts are disclosed. If it should appear, that in compassion for their souls a faithful warning had been given them, and they have turned a deaf ear to it, their blood will be upon their own heads.
No one will pretend but that Satan has his ministers, who are transformed into the ministers of Christ. And I think it will not be judged as foreign from my subject,
of light. attention.
that my hearers, in being warned against satanic wiles, were warned against his ministers. Some rules were laid down, by which to know his ministers. But previ. ously to these rules being given, it was observed: "No rules can be laid down, by which the hearers can, with certainty, distinguish between a sanctified, and an unsanctified minister." Sermons, p. 195. Mr. B. thinks there is a great contradiction between this observation, and my proceeding to lay down rules, by which to distinguish Satan's ministers. On this I would remark, 1. That an unsanctified minister and a minister of Satan, may not be precisely the same. Judas had a devil; and yet he was not properly the devil's minister. He was called and commissioned by Christ; he cast out devils in Christ's name, and preached his doctrine. Perhaps no one, who preaches the doctrines of truth, and who is regularly introduced into the ministry, is, in the most proper sense, a minister of Satan. If he be an unconverted man, he is in the sight of God a servant of the devil; but his open and visible character, may be that of a minister of Christ. And even if we could know, that his heart was not with Christ; yet if he preached the very preaching which Christ bids his ministers preach, it might not be proper to say, that he was one of the devil's preachers or ministers. To say so, would seem to carry the idea, that he preached on the same side which the devil would have him. Paul, in his epistle to the Philippians, speaks of some who preached Christ from bad motives, and yet tells us that he rejoiced, that even by their means Christ was preached. It appears from this, that he did not really consider them as the ministers of Satan, so as to warn the churches against them; as he did against those heretical teachers, whose word did eat like a canker : and yet he most pointedly condemned their character, because their motive was not good. It would seem that corruption in doctrine, and such corruption as is quite fundamental, is an essential ingredient in the character of a minister of the prince of darkness. To this however we add, that a wicked life is a practical heresy, and such as to stamp a public teacher with the peculiar mark of the kingdom to which he belongs.
What we have been observing, is not designed to represent a change of heart, as an unessential qualification in the gospel minister. For particular reasons, Christ saw fit to put one unconverted character among the twelve apostles; but it is undoubtedly the duty of every church, to seek a pastor after God's own heart. And it is the duty of those who are in the ministry, to commit this office and work to those only, who appear to be faithful men. I proceed to remark, 2. That if an unsanctified minister is the same, as a minister of Satan ; rules may be given which are of use to guard us against being imposed on; and yet it is true, that "no rules can be laid down, by which the hearers can with certainty distinguish between a sanctified, and an unsanctified minister." There is a difference between laying down rules to judge of our own hearts, and to judge of the hearts of our fellow men. There are rules by which we may know, with certainty, about our own hearts. A christian may have an assured hope about himself. He may make his own calling and election sure; but he cannot, by any rules laid down, have the same assurance of his christian brother, for he cannot see and know his heart. The rules of judging of the goodness of another's heart, amount only to probability. There may be such striking evidences of grace exhibited, as to take away all uncomfortable doubts and suspicions of the genuineness of his religion; and yet it would be invading the prerogative of the searcher of hearts, to say, We know that man's heart is right. We can say, He is a faithful brother as I suppose. See 1 Pet. v. 12..
But when it was said, “No rules can be laid down by which the hearer can with certainty distinguish between a sanctified, and an unsanctified minister," it was not meant there were no unsanctified ministers which could be distinguished and pointed out as such. Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment. A good heart will never take corrupt doctrines, and a wicked life, for a mask; but a wicked heart sometimes plays the hypocrite. Men may conduct so, that we may perceive that they are in the gall of bitterness. Thus, if a man habitually use profane language, we decide with certainty; that if he be a professor, his religion is vain : But if he use no such language, and even regularly at
tend religious duties, we dare not decide with the same certainty, that his religion is not vain. It was my object in the Sermon, to law down rules how to know those ministers, who were on the wrong side, and were in reality destroying, instead of building up, the christian faith; rather that to enable us to pronounce positively concerning any one, that he was a sanctified minister. To know those, who under the name of Christ's ministers, are opposing Christ, and whose word is eating like a canker, is a matter which deeply concerns all, who have souls capable of being saved or lost. But to be able to determine concerning the best minister of our acquaintance, that he is already a child of God, is not a matter of consequence.
As to the Methodist ministers, I am not disposed to impeach their moral character. All the charge which I shall bring against them, is what they will not deny : -I charge them with espousing, and propagating the Arminian doctrines; or the doctrines which are held forth in Mr. B's. Letters. In their view, I know that this is no fault; but in our view, it is one of no small magnitude. The things, which Mr. B has said in favor of their ministers, will not prove with certainty, that they are not the ministers of Satan transformed into the apostles of Christ. Their zeal to make converts, will not prove it. We know who it was that said, "Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him two-fold more the child of hell than yourselves." Mat. xxiii. 15. This passage is introduced merely to show it is possible, that a fire which is not kindled from the altar of God, should burn with vehement flame. We see from the case stated by our Saviour, (who knew what was in man,) that men who have never drunk into the spirit of his gospel, but are perfect strangers to it, may nevertheless be zealous in religion, and in spreading it abroad, and in making converts to it.
Ministers' having but a small temporal support, and their preaching against other ministers' receiving wages for their labor, does not prove that they are not in the service of the prince of darkness. To enter the gospel ministry, for the sake of the temporal support connect
ed with it, is a great sin. To glorify God, and be use. ful to men, should be the ultimate end. No one should seek to enter the ministry, unless he thinks it to be the work for which he is, or for which he can be qualified; unless he has reason to think, that it is the work to which God, by his providence and grace, is calling him. I am far from wishing to see the ministers of the Lord Jesus made affluent by their salaries, and converted into "lords spiritual," and even "lords temporal." But the opposite extreme of this lordly affluence is, that they shall have nothing. Who can help but see, that the matter is established by divine authority, That the ministers of the gospel shall have a temporal support? In the 9th chapter of the 1st Corinthians, the apostle argues this matter at full length. He reasons from a divine establishment, for the temporal support of the priests and Levites under the law. After he had used this and other arguments, he adds; "Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."
The apostle, in his 2nd epistle to the Corinthians, says; "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service and in all things have I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so will I keep myself. Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion, that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." 2 Cor. xi. 8-14. From this passage we learn, that Satan's ministers made their boast of preaching the gospel for nothing, that is, without receiving wages; and that this is the thing which St. Paul has most directly under his eye, when he calls them false apostles and deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And their preaching against ministers' receiving wages, and stigmatizing the true ministers of Christ for doing so, is given by the apostle as the reason, why he was determined to take no wages of the church at Corinth, and of other churches in the regions of Achaia.