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whole law, and the voice of the gospel are exceedingly diftinét, and diametrically opposite; but they perfectly agree in this, the Jalvation of all men --The gospel is all grace, unsearchable riches of grace, from God to man, and the only way of salvation for loft men; but all men are justified, and saved on the covenant of works--The curse of the law, and every evil threatened to men, and all that men deferve, is inflicted on Christ; men suffer, how ever, the full desert of their fin, as fast as they become guilty The law cries out against eternal perdition, and pleads for the sal. vation of all; but this law every where denounces the infinite wrath of God, and endless misery to man. These glaring con. tradictions lie at the bottom of the Doctor's scheme. If this • diftinction of law and gospel is without foundation,' he says, • my whole argument falls to the ground. So does the whole of • divine revelation.'* Two principles, directly opposite to each other, cannot both be true. And a scheme built entirely with contradictions must fall to the ground. But we see what value Dr. H. puts upon revelation, when he will as readily renounce it wholly, as he will give up those arguments which will forever be jarring and warring together.
I am, &c. 37*
LETTER VIII. Dr. H's sentiment that believers have only negative virtue, compared to the chara&er he takes to himself.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
reduce believers much upon a level with unbelieveres. But would assume to themselves an eminent share of chriftian virtue; professing to abound in love for the happiness of their fellow-men.
Accordingly, Dr. H. says, “ Whatever difference there may be between the grace given to one and another, in this life, the character, temper and ways of all the human race agree in ma.
ny things more than they differ. Bring all the human race to.gether, and their disfimilitude will be very small, in comparison
to their general agreement. A present believer hath, indeed, ' something, which a present unbeliever hath not; and God knows what a little something it is.'t By the grace given to one and another, in this life,' the Doctor means that some degree of grace is given to all men. 'All men,' he says, ' are much the
. P. 191.
• better for Chrift, and on account of the influence he has on
their hearts.' This we have seen in Letter IV. The little Something of difference between believers aud infidels, he therefore gives off with an air of contempt. "God kuows what a • little something it is!'
Dr. H. says again, . When we focak of the good heart of be. • lievers, and of their good and holy lives; and when we find
these epithets in fcripture, thcy are never to be understood in “strial propriety of Speech, but only in a comparative sensei.e. lefs wicked, in the exercises of tireir hearts, as to the real matter of these exercises, than unbelievers are, or than they them. selves were, in a state of unregeneracy.
It is the same with re. 'gard to their good and holy lives: i.e. they are much less wick.
ed, as to the inatter of their conduct, than once they were, or * than unbelievers ordinarily are. But it is certain, that, in propriety and strictness of speech, no positive goodness belongs to any
human character on earth.'* Thus the Doctor blends both characters together, making no difference except in degrees of wickedness. The same may be said when we compare (inners together, one is more wicked, and another lefs wicked; but both having nothing but opposition of heart to holiness. So that the difference lies wholly in the degrees of this opposition. Dr. H. sometimes holds to total depravity, then again denies it, and pretends that all have some share of grace or virtue, as we have just jeen. But his object in the above passages is to make believers and unbelievers both one, excepting degrees of wickedness. The saine as when we compare one unbeliever with another, neither of them having the least. pofitive goodness,' though one has not so great strength of wickedness as the other. This Dr. H. further confirms, as in these words : ‘All may be in heaven
tosether in God's own time, with as great a distinction of reward • there, as of character here.'+ Allowing this of all mankind, as he here intends, and it is not possible there should be a differ. ence as to theie two characters, only as one may be lefs wicked than the other. All the goodness therefore, that Dr. H. afcribes to the believer, is only comparative or negative; the believer, in his sense, is not quite so bad as the unbeliever. This little Something also that makes them differ, he confiders as a little contemptible thing.
But the doctor will not allow such believers as hold to endless punithment. to be less wicked than unbelievers. He labours to imake his opponents more wicked than the whole race of heathen and infidels. He firit claffes them with the apollate Jews, then with Judas, then with the proudest of pharisees. And their good diftinctions of outward privileges, and means of grace, even of grace itself, only tend, he says, to stimulate them in pride, and to enclose themselves in palaces of distinction and honour;'and to look with
with + Ibid.
. p. 234
sovereign contempt upon all the world beside. This the Doctor says of all his opponents, making no exception, as was shown in Letter V.and because they so oppose universal sal. vation.
Now see the contraft. Speaking of himself, in the introduction of his book, the Doctor says, ' Being much disposed to a * ftudious life, and always delighting greatly in books, he spent much of his time in reading and enquiring, in the early periods of life. Amidst all the vanities and follies of youth, yet ac. quainting his heart with wisdom, even while he too much laid · hold on foily. Being also much favored, by a kind providence, * with regard to the best means of instruction, and a pious exam'ple from his parents in his early days, and afterwards with a . more public education; the disposition of his heart inclined him, ' in great preference to all other employments, to the fudy of di! vinity, and to become a preacher of the gospel.'* The Doctor has chosen some of the most decided words to denote true feat and love of God.— Acquainting his heart with wisdom.' Solomon uges the words in the fame manner, Eccl. ii. 3. and in another place says, “ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of • wisdom.'t Therefore, amidst all the follies of youth, with which he was surrounded, Dr. H. says he gave himself up to fear and love God. And being much disposed to a studious life, and always delighting greatly in books; and being under the beft means of instruction, and a pious example from his parents in his early days, he applied' his heart to know, and to "search, and to seek cut wisdom.'\ In his early days, it would Seem, he imitated if not exceeded, Solomon in his old age. This * dispofition of his heart inclined him, in great preference to all other employments, to the study of divinity, and to become a preacher of the gospel.' His mind was very ftrongly inclined, in great preference, and from the purest motives, to the most important, as well as self-denying work, in the redeemer's kingdom. Is not this something more than being less wicked ? Though he says, while'in early life,'Hetoo much laid hold onfol. ly,'yet he impliedly professes to have overcome, soon after, all the follies of youth, and allthe vanities of human nature; and to have given himself up wholly to his God. Thus he solemnly declares: "I am quite satisfied with what God has said in its plainest mean• ing; and as well satisfied with it, if it is above my reason, as it • it is otherwise. Yea, if wholly opposite to my best reasonings, I I only thence infer my own ignorance and weakness, and fully be.
ing; # Prov. 9. 10.
| Prov. 7. 25.
* P. 5
lieve and obey my God: even as I would have my little children • believe what I tell them, and do what I bid them.'* • I am edified,
and comforted by every serious, honest man, that I hear talk upon • his religion, whatever degrees of light God hath been pleased to 'give him, be they more or less. I am most edified where there is • most light; but truly the light is sweet, even in the least degrees of • it. I find something from God given to every seci, and party; and that gives me delight.'* • I am quite willing God should make me holy
and happy, for the glory of his own name, and all my fellow • finners without exception, if he please.' 1 . When I have the • deeped sense of these things, the world and creatures appear to me • as nothing, yea, less than nothing and vanity, and God allinall.' • The author,' mea», ng himself, is quite beyond a doubt, in his down mind, with regard to the solid truth of his leading princi.
ples and arguments. With respect to the due time of advanc. • ing this step forward, and so explicitly pouring in this addition. 6 allight, he is not so positive. There are, however, several con. • fiderations that have weight in my mind, to make the publica. . tion without further delay; such as these. I have spent more • than twenty years in the moft careful reading and attention to • every thing relating to this subject; and, I think, with a single . eye, and ardent desire to know the truth, and to avoid all falle
reasoning, and every groundless conclusion. I have no interes • but in the truth.'ll
How could the Doctor have given himself a better character? What words could he have used, more strongly to express a deep sense of divine things, as well as unfeigned love to his neighbour, and supreme love to God? He' is quite beyond a doubt' as to the truth of his own scheme, and so explicitly pouring into the world this additional light ; provided the due time for it be al. ready come. And the light of his own mind, with his singleness of heart, are the reasons why his book should be published with. out further delay. He is quite satisfied with all God has said in his word, whether it be wholly opposite to his own best reason. ings, or not. He fuily believes and obeys his God, just as he would have his little children believe and obey him: He is edi. fied by the religious conversation of all parties, and most edified where there is moft light. The world is to him less than nothing, and God all in all. To complete the whole, he profeffes to have, emphatically, no interest but in the truth. Thus when he comes
to I P. 291
SP. 315. 1 P. 19.
• P. 47.
+ P. 270
to speak of himself, instead of saying he has no positive good. Hejs, but is only less wicked; his words, to say the least, carry a strong aspect of sinless perfection .And after he has given the worst of characters to his opponents, and reduced all believers very much upon a level with unbelievers, this is the high char. acter he takes to himself.
To announce to the world his own extensive knowledge and admirabletalents he has made out the introduction to his essay, in such language as this: What now appears, is a small part of a Sys• TEM of DIVINITY, which the author has been meditating more • than twenty years. A critical view of the covenant people of • God, in every age, and in every part of the world, where divine ' revelation has been embraced ; and also of the mythology of all
the nations of the earth that have not been favoured with the • sacred oracles, fell naturally in the way of his contemplations, as . he was proceeding on a very extensive scale.'*
This vea ry extensive scale he explains, in these words : • It differs no more trom the doĉtrine of Calvin, Owen, and Edwards, and the great body of protestants,than a circle as large as the periphery • of the earth, differs from a circle of the diameter of one cubit.' The Doctor goes on to say, ' Innumerable criticisms on the 'original language in which the sacred oracles were first written,
are left out in this publication. Because the author did, and ' does ftill suppose, that such a number of criticisms, as he found • his own thoughts naturally led into, would, if inserted, much be. . wilder the minds of most of his readers. And lastly, this would * much swell the volume, and embarrass any printer in this coun• try, for want of proper types, and practice.'
The Doctor wrote the introduction to his esay, from which this last paragraph is taken, we may conclude, just before his death; and, directly after this, his book was printed. Several years before this date, Mr. Isaiah Thomas, a famous printer in Massachusetts, beside his periodical publications, a valt many pamphlets, several fets of history, &c. &c. printed the bible in two large folio volums, and in one large quarto volume; and executed the whole, it is said, with as much accuracy and neatness as if it had been done in Great Britain; and did it within about two or three years. The noted Voltaire is said to haveemployed eight or ten chofen writers, and feated them all at one table; while he, himself, dictated for each one what to write ; which was chiefly in extracting and compiling from other authors. This wonderful genius published, and left behind him, as many as forty or fifty large volumes. Notwithstanding, let Mr. Thomas and Com.
pany, * P. 170.
# P. 18.
* P. 27.