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from that eternal reprobation which has been established as an article of faith by Calvin and his followers, on the authority of the great apostle. For, “ since in all other cases it is allowed to be one most reasonable and just method of interpretation, (if not the only one,) to explain such passages of any author as are obscure and difficult, by such other passages in the works of the same author as are more clear and perspicuous :"* Surely in this case, where a divine revelation is unfolded, where such high and mysterious matters as the being and attributes of God, his will and providence, are the subject matter of discourse ; where thus the infinite perfections of the creator are laid open to his imperfect creatures, so far as human language will permit; (and how inadequate is it to so great a work !) surely in this case, with humble reverence, and conscious ignorance, we should modestly receive the clear enunciations of our heavenly teacher, acknowledge their authority and truth; and from their unclouded lustre, attempt to derive a light which may elucidate more abstruse and darker intimations. Surely we shall not presume to oppose our notions on peculiar points of doctrine, to the evident manifestations of his will; nor pass over with negligence the most positive commands, while we insist only on those intricate matters,
* Bundy's Sermons, vol. ii. p. 443.
which neither engage us to lead a holy life, nor prepare us to die in the Lord.
That the express declarations of Christ and his apostles, which enforce the indispensable necessity of moral goodness, founded on the principle of Christian faith, in order to the attainment of salvation, carry with them an infallible assurance of the divine will, is generally admitted. It might be hoped then, that their authority would be deemed sufficient, and the conclusions thence arising completely satisfactory. That whoever receives them as the oracles of truth, would be steadfast and immoveable in the persuasion which they inculcate, that the unlearned in particular, who are ignorant of many things which are requisite for the solution of scriptural difficuties, would rest and confide in the plain rule of faith and practice, established by the gospel, and depend on the promise of Christ, that “ his words will not pass away.” When any passage occurs of which the meaning is less obvious, their own incapacity might be reasonably acknowledged, as the cause of such obscurity. And should any text that is more abstruse, seem irreconcileable with those which convey one clear, direct, indisputable sense, their belief in the unchangeable will, and unerring word of God, might convince them that the difference is not real, but apparent only ; and they might well tremble at the thought of attributing a diversity of doctrines to their divine instructor, being assured, that “ as God is true, his word toward them was not yea and nay; but that all the promises of God, in him are yea, and in him. Amen, unto the glory of God.” *
Were this principle of faith, humility, and piety, impressed on the professors of religious truth, they would no longer perplex their minds with things that exceed their comprehension ; but would " receive with meekness the ingrafted word, which is able to save their souls.”
The preceding observations may not appear inapplicable to the purpose designed in this humble attempt, to contrast the fundamental doctrines of christianity, delivered by Christ and his apostles, with those which are maintained by many modern teachers-self-entitled evangelical. Such a comparison will enable us to decide whether the tenets peculiar to those teachers be the gospel of Christ or not; and if they appear repugnant to it, there will be no difficulty in deciding which is false ;-a criterion that has the advantage of being level to every capacity. Nor is it unreasonable to expect, that those opinions, however authoritatively urged, which oppose the doctrine of sound words contained in the gospel, would be retracted as untenable and false ; and that those Christians who mistakingly pervert it, would
* 2 Cor. i. 18, 20.
acknowledge their own error, and the infallible veracity of their divine master ;-that touched, like Satan, by Ithuriel's spear,
“for no falsehood can endure Touch of celestial temper, (they would) start, Discovered and surprized.” * or if their own prejudices are incurable, at least, that their unscriptural preaching would no longer lead astray a multitude of followers.
* Milton's Paradise Lost, book iv.
THE SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE OF REGENERATION AND GRACE CONTRASTED WITH THE OPINIONS OF METHODISTS.THEIR PRIMARY ERROR IN CONSIDERING FEELING AND EXPERIENCE AS AN EVIDENCE OF THEIR CONVERSION.-THE ABSURDITY AND CONTRADICTION WHICH ARE CONSEQUENT ON THIS DELUSION.—THE DIFFUSION OF ITS PERNICIOUS INFLUENCE.
In order to reduce this subject into some order and method, (for it is impossible to follow the incoherent tenets of the Methodists through all the wilderness of their opinions,) it may be proper to discuss the points in question distinctly; and they naturally fall under these several heads, viz. regeneration and grace ; foreknowledge and free will; predestination and election; justification, faith, and good works. These are indeed weighty matters, to which we approach with humility and diffidence. But they have been lately expounded with so much clearness and ability by an eminent and learned prelate, that the difficulties attending them are obviated; and the true doctrine contained in those comprehensive terms is so fully established, that it can no longer be mistaken or misapplied by the candid and unprejudiced christian. Still as they