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so that if that grace and love, which before all worlds gave Christ for sinners, do not also give Christ to sinners, by working in them that true justifying faith, through which alonė they become one with him, and have close union with him, they must for ever remain at a distance from him, and strangers to all hopes of happiness by him:”* thus confounding causal and final justification, and renouncing works, which although they have no efficacy with regard to the first, which is entirely gratuitous, are yet positively enjoined as necessary towards the last, which is conditional; this writer “ does annul the solemn declaration of God, that in a future life he will render to every man according to his works.", He adds a new article, that God must give Christ to sinners, in order to their election ; it is not enough that he gave himself for our sins.” (Galat. i. 4.) • There must be, according to the methodistical doctrine, a special gift, a personal gift, superadded to that “ full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, which Christ made upon the cross, for the sins of the whole world ;” otherwise there is no union with him : and “ that professor in religion,” says Dr. Hawker, “ who is unconnected by any vital union to the t person of the Lord Jesus, stands in the
* Sir Richard Hill's Apology, p. 40, 41.
† Why a personal union should be insisted on by these writers, when a spiritual union with Christ is all which the
church's garden but as a stick, supporting in. deed, (if it can be called support) the tender plant of the gospel with his unmeaning hand.” *
Now, were this intended to import the same meaning as that declaration in our communion service, “ If with a true penitent heart, and lively' faith, we receive the holy sacrament, we are one with Christ, and Christ with us ;” the doctrine would be unexceptionable: but this does not come up to Sir Richard Hill's sense of a “real union or fellowship with Jesus Christ; an experience of being born again of the spirit.”+ No: there must be feeling, sympathy; a perceptible impulse, an overpowering act of grace: that, and that alone, will be sufficient. “I can form no idea of grace,” he says, “ but as it conquers whatever opposes its progress; if it do not, then grace is no more grace; and the power of nature in man overmatches the power of God
language of scripture suggests, it would be difficult to say, did not the doctrine, which that expression is intended to support, explain it. Enthusiastic and mystical opinions must be couched in new-fangled phrases, or they will not obtain currency: and nothing is more observable than the perversion of scriptural terms, and the use of words in a sense unwarranted by holy writ, to which the Methodists have had recourse, in order to convey their strange notions of regeneration and grace. Numberless instances of this will be recollected by any one who is familiar with their works. We admit a 'spi- . ritual union with our blessed Lord in the fullest sense; but what a vital union to his person means, we confess ourselves unable to comprehend. * Union with Christ, p. 10. † Apology, p. 134.
in willing a conversion which he cannot effect, and is therefore obliged to give up in disappointment.” *
This language is as extraordinary as the sentiment it expresses ; a text or two from scripture will shew that both are alike unwarranted by holy writ.† “ Thy will be done,” says Christ;
* Preface to Babington's Sermons, annexed to the Apology,
† It is astonishing, that any one who has read the Bible, should not perceive and acknowledge, that the whole code of the divine laws is in direct contradiction to the dogma of irresistible grace, and founded entirely on the principle of freedom and volition in man. .“ Now, therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me.” Exodus xix. 5. This is the condition of reward; “ Because I called, and ye refused.” Prov. i. 24.
This is the just cause of punishment, held forth alike to Jew and Christian. The disciples of Christ “received grace for obedience to the faith,” Rom. i. 5. but this obedience was free, and if it were refused, then they “received the grace of God in vain.” And this rendered the sinner inexcusable, because he would “not obey the truth,” when every motive that could influence a free, rational, and accountable agent was proposed to his choice, his understanding, and his conscience. Yet the power of God was not overmatched by the power of man; nor was the Almighty obliged to give up his purpose in disappointment. What profanation does the supposition carry with it!
The distinction between that divine power, which absolutely controls all nature, and that gracious purpose which ordained that rational creatures should be free agents, the Calvinists will not see nor apprehend. It is clearly stated by Archbishop Secker, whose explanation of it is well worthy their consi deration.
plainly intimating that it may not be done. “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost,” says St. Stephen; “ as your fathers did, so do ye.”*
The strangest point of all, however, is, that the advocate of controlling grace should deny that it is perfect. He does not hesitate to say, . that " grace, as well as nature, is liable to mistakes in 'conduct.” † This wonderful assertion is occasioned by his zeal to excuse the errors of his brethren; some of whom “may, in the juvenile warmth of their hearts, and in the fervour of their first love and religious affections, have fallen into imprudencies,” &c. Here was a dilemma. The propagators of Methodism were certainly actuated by grace; that could by no means be given up; yet they had acted wrong: how then does their advocate extricate himself from this embarrassment? By transferring the fault from them to divine grace! the blasphemous tendency of which it is needless to remark; the passage itself will prove to what shockingly profane expedients the defence of a favourite opinion will reduce even a religious mind.
“What God wills to do himself, that he doth accordingly, both in the army of heaven, and amongst the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand. But what he wills us to do, that he only requires of us, as we value his favour, or fear his displeasure; leaving us designedly that power of not doing what he bids us, without which doing it were no virtue, Lecture XXXI. on the Church Catechism.
* Acts vii. 51. † Apology, p. 206. Id. id.
« Grace, as well as nature, is liable to mistakes in conduct; and it would be hard indeed to make no allowances for, but to punish with rigour the actings of the former, and to palliate or pass over unrebuked the follies or even the vices of the latter.” · This is a strain of reasoning that could scarcely have been expected from one who had said, “ God is jealous of his own honour and sovereignty, and the Redeemer will not suffer the jewels to be plucked from his crown of grace, and placed on the sinner's head."*
Could it have been imagined, then, that not only a jewel of grace should be placed on the sinner's head, but that' a debased jewel should be placed there by Him, who is the sole author of every good and perfect gift? That he should bestow a defective, insufficient grace, liable to mistakes in conduct, nay, as liable as our frail nature is, which it was especially designed to correct and amend, and lead into the way of truth; or, according to Sir Richard Hill, to control by an invincible necessity ? Where is the holy reverence, where the humble faith of this pious writer? for pious undoubtedly he was. Yet his own argument might lead us to a different conclusion, and might induce us to exclaim with unaffected sorrow and amazement, ' . . Heu pietas, heu prisca fides ?'"
* Apology, p. 80: