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of such impulses ; it is all mere fiction, invention, presumption, exceedingly dangerous in its issue or tendency.* For by that blind rule, a man may very easily mistake the suggestions of Satan for divine impulses; therefore, if they do indeed feel any emotions extraordinary, the first and most important inquiry is, whether these emotions are not really Satan's illusions, rather than divine impressions; or, whether they are not rather marks of possession, than inspiration ? Confidence is no argument in a dark affair.” There is but one certain rule whereby we know when we are led by the spirit; and that is the rule of God's commandments. When we so think and so do, as the spirit of God has directed in God's holy word, then and then only are we sure, that we are led by the spirit, or born of the spirit.” + St. John has said all in a very few words :
* Speaking of the inward light to which some Methodists pretended, Johnson said, “ It was a principle utterly incompatible with social or civil security.- If a man pretends to a principle of action of which I can know nothing, nay not so much as that he has it, but only that he pretends to it, how can I tell what that person may be prompted to do? When a person professes to be governed by a written ascertained law, I can then know where to find him."-Boswell's Life of Johnson, p. 343, 4to. edition.
† “ You have two ways,” says Bishop Sherlock, with his usual perspicuity, “ of judging yourselves, which must both concur. You have inward and outward signs of grace: the inward signs are, a pure conscience, a sincere love for God and religion, and whatever tends to the glory and honour of your Maker; the outward signs are, acts of obedience conformable to the inward purity and love of your mind. These are fruits “ Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin;"* that is, doth not allow himself in any known sinful practices. There is the mark, and the only true mark of regeneration, and the spiritual life. Let every man examine himself by this rule ; and when they can, upon sure grounds, speak peace to their own consciences, then let them attribute the glory of it to God's holy spirit, for that is right; but let them not blaze it out to the world, however certain they are of it; for that will be seeking honour of men, and endeavouring to share with the holy spirit in that glory, which belongs to him only; and it will be forfeiting the favour of that very spirit whereof they so proudly boast.
I am well aware that the false pretenders to the spirit have often laid hold on that text of
by which you may judge yourselves. Our Saviour tells us, “ that we may know men by their fruits :" much rather may we know ourselves by our own fruits ; especially when we may know the stock too from whence they grow, the motions and workings of our own heart.
“ Hence, it appears, that the evidence of the spirit is not any secret inspiration, or any assurance conveyed to the mind of the faithful; but it is the evidence of works, such as by the spirit we perform; and therefore the only sign of sanctification is holiness, and the only mark of grace is to obey from the heart the word of God: and therefore they err, not kyowing the scriptures, who from this or the like passages, imagine, that the spirit ever gives, or was ever designed to give, inward assurance or certainty to men of their future state.”—Discourse viii, on Romans viii. 16.— The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.'
* 1 John üi. 9.
St. John, warping it unnaturally, so as to draw it to favour their own fond delusions. They first take it for granted that they are born of God; (which is their fond presumption,) and then, they conclude that they are without sin. This is vilely perverting, and abusing the text: for they ought first to know that their ways are right, and then to draw their conclusion ; and not vainly presume that they have the spirit, and then from thence to conclude that their ways are right.
But such has often been the self-delusive method of vain pretenders; and they have sometimes carried it so far as to argue, that since they are saints, and born of God, (that is, in their own fond imaginations) they cannot be guilty of sin: but let them do what they please, the spirit is to warrant and sanctify all; for God sees no sin in his saints. How dangerous a principle this is; how productive of all ungodliness, and of the most shocking impieties, was too sadly seen in the last century, and stands upon record in histories of those distracted times." *
The whole discourse, from which this large extract has been made, well deserves the attention of those who would adopt a correct standard of judging on this fundamental point of religion; the error against which, we contend, . cannot be more clearly stated, or more justly reproved.
* Waterland's Serm, on 1 Jolin iv. 1.
THE METHODISTICAL DOCTRINE OF REGENERATION AND GRACE TENDS TO DISCOURAGE GOOD RESOLUTIONS AND VIRTUOUS ENDEAVOURS, AND TO CREATE VAIN CONFIDENCE AND VAGUE PRESUMPTIONS. VARIOUS INSTANCES OF ITS EFFECTS. - INFATUATION OF METHODISTS EXEMPLIFIED IN THEIR SUBSTITUTION OF FEELING FOR REPENTANCE. THE WICKED RELEASED BY THIS DELUSION FROM THE FEAR OF FUTURE PUNISHMENT.
THE opinions which are maintained by the Methodists, tend most evidently to undermine the foundation of true religion, by discouraging all virtuous endeavours, and assuring unconditional forgiveness to the worst of men, as the immediate effect of their regeneration : yet Mr. Styles has ventured to say, in his Letter to a Barrister, “I challenge you to produce, from any accredited writer on the side of evangelical truth, a single sentence, which by any ingenuity of interpretation can be made to favour the sentiment, that
the atonement of Christ alters the nature of ::. sin, annuls the solemn declaration of God, that
in a future life he will render to every man according to his works; or that is in any way opposed to the doctrine or repentance, or refor
mation of life.'”* This is a bold challenge, and may be fairly met.
Sir Richard Hill, a gentleman possessed of some learning, and liberally educated, insists on absolute, controlling grace, in a manner which is wholly irreconcileable with “ the solemn declaration of God, that in a future life he will render to every, man according to his works.” This author, we may presume, is an accredited writer' † with those of the same persuasion, and his decision is therefore entitled to the more consideration.
He thus addresses Mr. Daubeny: “ The utmost you will allow Christ to have done for sinners is, that he has obtained for them a possibility of salvation ; but their being made partakers of that salvation, and being brought to the possession of it, depends upon themselves; a very pleasing, pride-soothing conceit,” &c., “A possibility of salvation must end in an impossibility of salvation.”_" The first covenant was all of works, the second all of grace; but there never was a third covenant between the two, or patched up by faith and works joined together :
* Styles's Vindication of Evangelical Preaching, &c. p. 82.
+ It is extremely difficult to ascertain what writers on the side of evangelical truth are accredited; but the author of Willat's Apology, speaking of Sir Richard Hill's publication, says, “the whole of which, I conceive, is most satisfactory, interesting, and evangelical.” This testimony, we presume, will not be disputed by the advocates of evangelical truth.