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unlettered christian, when he finds this case brought up by the apostle, cannot but see that he did not understand the Hebrew word, in the sense given in the criticism: but that he understood the hardening of Pharaoh, to be in contrast with his cbtaining 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 back again, by discovering its intimate relation to the whole system of grace. Take for an illustration of this, the doctrine of total 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 flesh, 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 are represented as refusing to accept of gos. pel 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 of regeneration, or of a change of heart: But he sees, that if he gives up the doctrine of total depravity, he must also give up the doctrine of regeneration. Unless therefore the critic can take away all his foundation at once, it will be difficult to take from him any one of the fundamental doctrines of the gospel.
3. There is one other remark of such great importance, that dare not omit it. The remark is this: If the doctrines, which have been vindicated in the preceding work, are true, we have great reason to fear, that if we do not love them, it is because we are in a state of unregeneracy. 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 to 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 our own children; who have been instructed in nothing but the Calvinistic doctrines. Nay, we have made these very objections ourselves. We have seen our hearts rise in dreadful opposition against that Ged 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 laid in eternity. We have seen our
own hearts full of objections against totally depraved crea. tures' 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 intimately acquainted. But at the time, when we hope we passed from death unto life, we thought we became reconciled to these doctrines; and that we rejoiced in 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 apprebation 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 our hearts a sweet approbation of the doctrines advocated in this Vindication. We are well aware, that noattachment 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 convert. ed 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 Methodists, 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?
I am now 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. I have not knowingly uttered a word of reproach for the sake of reviling you, consider
ed as a people; or for the sake of injuring the feelings of your brother, who is my particular antagonist in this controHis 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 I close, without reminding you; 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 but say stand in doubt of you."
ON THE GOODNESS OF GOD, MANIFESTED IN GOVERNING THE HEARTS OF HIS ENEMIES.”
EZRA vii. 27.
Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, which hath fut 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 between the text and the context will come into view, under some of the following divisions of the subject. 1. 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 of Israel who put this thing into the king's heart. IV. It will then be proper to notice the feelings which Ezra entertained to-wards the God of his fathers, in view of the part which He acted in this important affair.
1. 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 doetrine; and as there are many among Calvinists, who do not appear to have equaily 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 the following Sermon to the preceding Vindication.
He was one of the kings of Persia. This was a heathen kingdom, and they doubtless had a heathen prince. I conclude that none of us has obtained an idea, that Artaxerxes was a man of grace. There is nothing in sacred or profane history, to lead to the conclusion, that he had been born of the Spirit. And if he was not born of the Spirit, he was never actuated by a holy motive in any thing which he ever did. If he was not a real saint, he was a real sinner. If he did not possess holy love to God, he must have been possessed of nothing better than a carnal mind, which is enmity against God. "They who are in the flesh," (i. e. in a state of unregeneracy)" cannot please God." "Without faith," (even that faith which worketh by love,) "it is impossible to please Him."
II. It will be shown what this Persian king did to beautify to house of the Lord at Jerusalem. The second temple had been finished, and dedicated in the reign of one of his predecessors; but it still needed much improving and beautifying. The Jews were still in a low and dejected state, and needed help. Artaxerxes helped them much. He turned his attention very directly to their religious state, and granted them such aid as they needed to enable them to maintain the worship of the God of heaven. More money was then needed, to set up and maintain divine worship, than under the present dispensation. And money for this object, was by this monarch very liberally bestowed. He threw open his treasuries to the subjugated and despised people of the God of Israel. He exempted all the ministers of the house of God from taxation. He furnished them with sacrifices and offerings in great abundance, for the temple worship. In addition to all this, he sent them the best man which he had in his kingdom-the man whom they most needed; and who mightily-helped forward the re-establishment of the captive church. I proceed
III. To show, that it was the God of Israel, who put this thing in the king's heart. So says the inspired scribe of the law of God: Blessed be the God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart. It is important that we carefully inquire what is to be understood by God's putting this thing in the