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But as there are none at the present day, who pretend to balance the claims of these false apostles, against the claim of the great apostle of the Gentiles, which he made for himself and all the true ministers of the gospel, namely, that they had a right to a support from the carnal things of those, to whom they ministered in spiritual things; we should not imagine there would now be any call for ministers of the gospel, to decline receiving that support, which the Lord has ordained they shall be entitled to, for the sake of cutting off occasion from them which desire occasion. At least, I think, it must be manifest to all; that decrying salaries, and even preaching without any wages, is not, of itself, enough to rescue any one from the just imputation of being called a minister of Satan. The receiving of a salary, will not prove us to be Satan's ministers, and the not receiving of a salary, will not prove that we are not his ministers.*
* Mr. Bangs, in his concluding remarks, has this sentence: "Did we refuse to preach, until the people had stipulated to give us three, five, ten, or twenty hundred dollars annually, there might be some cause to suspect we were actuated by sinister motives, and that our ministry was founded in selfishness." pp. 294, 295. The Methodist minister receives a salary, how much I do not know: but I conclude that it is enough, together with the hospitality of those among whom he travels, to render him comfortable. If it be not enough, he surely ought to have more. The writer of this Vindication, is far from being chargeable with being a rich and affluent minister, as is well known to those who are acquainted with his circumstances. His people are punctual in affording him his stipulated support; but he is not by this means rising to affluence. The ministers in the ecclesiastical body, of which he is a member, are not rich; they are certainly not more than comfortable. This remark, without much alteration, it is thought will apply to the Congregational and Presbyterian ministers collectively, in this country. These things are not said in way of complaint; but as a reply to the insinuation, that we are hirelings, because we receive such extravagant salaries. We will not however, say, there is no fault in this thing. But this we are bold to say; That the chief Shepherd has ordained,—that his ministers should receive a temporal support for their spiritual services. 'Grant this,' some man may say, but why do you not relinquish your right, as Paul did his ?" Ans. There may be instances at the present day, where there is a call for this; but to suppose the call to the relinquishment of this right, to be
The making of converts, is not decisive proof, that any preacher is not in the service of the devil. We must examine into the character of those converts; into their views of divine truth, their spirit, and their practice. Ann Lee, whom the Shakers call the Elect Lady, made converts; and there seems to be a great plainness, and uniformity in their dress; and regularity, and apparent self-denial in their conduct: But are we therefore bound, without examining into their views of God's character, and their own; and without becoming acquainted with their spirit and temper, to conclude that they are real converts, and that their founder was a true prophetess, sent by the Lord Jesus to preach his gospel?
Soundness in doctrine is essential to the ministers of
Christ. It is an apostolic command; "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed." 2 John verse 10. We will not at present, say what doctrine the apostle meant; let it suffice, that the text proves that a preacher may be so deficient in doctrine, as to Jay a foundation for considering him as no minister of Christ, let his other claims be what they may. How forcibly is this idea expressed by the apostle Paul, Gal. i. 8: "But tho' we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Did not the apostle, in this declaration, make orthodoxy essential to the character of a gospel minister? Did he not do as much as to say; that a man cannot have so much sanctity in his deportment, or zeal in his preaching, as to claim to be heard, in the character of a gospel minister, if he do not preach the true gospel?
I have no doubt but that the preachers, who are in the Methodist connexion, think they are preaching the true gospel of Christ. We do not wish to have domin ion over their faith. But what we believe, that we must speak. If we believe, as we most assuredly do, that it is a doctrine of revelation, that the all-wise God
universal, would be the same as to suppose a want of wisdom in the Lord's ordaining, that they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
had from eternity a perfect plan, concerning the whole work of creation and providence, including every creture which should be made, and every event which should come to pass; and that this is that counsel of his will, according to which he worketh all things, and especially the calling and sanctification of that church, which was chosen in Christ before the foundation of world;-if we not only believe this to be true, but a glorious truth, which is interwoven with the whole system of christian doctrine; can we, consistently with this belief, think him to be a safe guide to souls, who says; 'If a man had set himself to work on purpose to blacken the character of God, by the most vile misre presentations, he could not have done it more effectually than it has been done in sermons, which were written in favor of Divine Decrees, and of Personal Election?' If we believe, as we certainly do, the total depravity of every unrenewed heart, and that every such heart is that carnal mind, which the scripture declares is enmity against God; it must appear to us no small error, to teach, that unrenewed men have much good in their hearts, and that they increase in goodness before they are born of the Spirit. If we believe, as we Xertainly do, that the best saints on earth are sinfully imperfect, and that an increase of grace makes this indwelling sin more apparent to those, who know their own hearts, as well as more loathsome; we cannot think it harmless to teach, that some have arrived to such a state of perfection, that there is no sin which dwelleth in them. If we believe, as we most assuredly do, that the covenant of grace is an everlasting covenant, confirmed in Christ with every believer, and ordered in all things and sure, so that, according to our views, it would be just as inconsistent, for the believer to be lost, as for Christ to fail, and lose his acceptableness before the mercy seat; it is not strange that we consider that a heresy, in which the immutability of this covenant is not only denied, but branded as a corrupt and pernicious doctrine.
Let us for a moment suppose, that when Jesus Christ said, All the Father giveth me shall come to me, he actually meant what Calvinists believe he meant, namely, that some of the fallen race, even a precise
number, were given to him, as the reward of his sufferings, and that all this number will through grace come to him, and be saved: And in connexion with this, let us suppose, that one of the professed teachers of his religion, should say, This is "one of the most shocking ideas which can enter into the heart of man ;" --would Christ own such a man, as one of his minis ters? Suppose it to be actually true, that the scriptures do teach, that God forms the characters of his creatures, as much as the potter forms his vessels :-Let us suppose that this is the very thing which the apostle, with so much solemnity, designs to teach us in the ninth chapter of Romans;-and what must we think of that christian teacher, who continually asserts, that if this be true, man is no more of a moral agent than the pen with which he writes, or the ships driven by fierce winds ? Let us suppose, that when the apostle said, They that are in the flesh cannot please God, he meant to teach, that all sinners up to the moment of regeneration had not a spark of moral goodness in them, or any thing which could please a holy God; and must not the apostle have been grieved, if he had heard christian ministers say, that sinners gradually become good before they are regenerated-that before they are regenerated they repent of their sins, even with that repentance which needeth not to be repented of? Let us suppose that when the good Shepherd said, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me ; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any filuck them out of my hand; that he actually meant to teach the im possibility of their losing their union to him; and what would he say to that minister of his, who taught that this union could be dissolved, and that it was much safer to preach that it could, than that it could not be dissolved? Let us suppose, that the Bible does in reality teach us, that if any man thinks he is pure from all sin, it proves him perverse,--what must we think of those who say that they are thus pure? Now, whether these doctrines, which the Arminians with so much zeal contend against, are contained in the Bible or not, this is certain, that we as much believe they are contained there, as we believe that we have a Bible; of
course, the Arminian must appear to us erroneous ; and as he opposes what we deem to be fundamental doctrines, his errors must appear to us, not like errors about meats and drinks, modes and forms, but fundamental errors; such errors as strike at the root of religion, and such therefore as must be very dangerous in their tendency.*
Mr. B. in behalf of the Methodists, disclaims their making dependence on dreams, smells, visionary appearances, applications of particular texts of scripture, &c. as evidence of conversion. If they do not make dependence on these things, we rejoice in it. In the course of my parochial and missionary labors, I have found a considerable number of those conversions, which may be termed of the visionary class. Having once, in my youth, made dependence on such things myself; and being most effectually convinced of their fallacy, and ruinous effect, I have felt it to be a duty incumbent on me, to warn my fellow sinners against these deceitful works of the devil To do this, was the particular object in view, in. selecting the text of the 8th sermon; which I first preached among my
* The dostrines which are now called Arminian, and which are advocated by the Methodists, appear to be substantially the same, with those which were advanced by Pelagius, in the beginning of the 5th century. He appeared to deny the origi nal depravity of infants, and the total depravity of the unregenerate. He held to the independence and self-determining power of the will, and of course, denied the necessity of divine grace, directly to incline the will to that which is good; and, of course, excluded predestination, except what is found. ed on the foreknowledge of men's faith and obedience. He also held to a sinless perfection in this life. [See Milner's Church Hist. Vol. 2.] These sentiments were then consider. ed by Augustine, and by the Church in general, not only as errors, but as very fuudamental errors, such as greatly tended to destroy the grace of God in our salvation. The sentiments now termed Calvinism, and Arminianism, have been all along the two leading systems of doctrine, which have stood opposed to each other. If one is true, the other is false; and the one which is false, must needs be a great falsehood in doctrine, because it takes the lead in opposing the truth; and other errors seem to come in only as auxiliaries of this leading error. Which it is that we deem to be the true system, is known. But let every one search the scriptures for himself.