« הקודםהמשך »
paper, here printed, might, when taken alone, have merited such a distinction ; but I do trust that, viewed altogether, the contents of the volume will be found both interesting and useful, and in many parts highly valuable.
In the arrangement of the letters I have had respect to two points : 1. Preserving the series of communications to each correspondent unbroken and, 2. Observing the order of time. It is obvious that some sacrifice of one of these objects to the other would occasionally be unavoidable : but they have both been secured as far as was practicable. In one instance only the letters to the same person have been divided into two series, that the course of events might not be unduly anticipated.
In some cases, not many in number, I have thought it needful or expedient to supply a few words, which were either implied, though not expressed, by the writer, or which seemed requisite more fully to bring out his meaning. Where these at all affect the sense they are inclosed in brackets.
Many persons having expressed a wish for a reduced copy of the larger and more finished portrait which had been published of the Author, that wish hàs here been complied with.
Before I close these prefatory remarks I would advert to å subject of somewhat greater import
I am aware of one and only one use, or rather perversion, which has been made of my Father's Life, that gives me any concern.
It has been adduced, by writers not very correct, indeed, or careful in what they advance, as furnishing proof positive of the immoral tendency of evangelical or Calvinistic doctrines, (for the terms seem now to be used promiscuously,) and of the antinomian character, generally, of those who are called professors of evangelical religion. “We have here,” it has been said, “ the testimony of the greatest saint in their calendar against themselves.” And it may be the more proper briefly to notice the subject in this place, because the present work may perhaps be considered as adding to that testimony.
That my Father was of opinion that much antinomian practice, in a sense which was with some care explained in his Life, and many sentiments tending to antinomianism, were found among the evangelical body, is readily admitted and openly avowed. But, to avail for the purpose desired, this charge, thus professedly brought on his authority, ought to mean, that this description of persons is more antinomian than other classes of professed Christians; and in fact that their antinomianism arises from the legitimate use, and not from the abuse, of what are called evangelical doctrines, properly stated. But neither of these positions is supported by his evidence. That the latter of them is directly contrary to the truth, it was the employment of his life to demonstrate. And that the former was by no means his intention was sufficiently pointed out in the Life itself, for the satisfaction of the candid and careful reader. “ His complaint,” it was there expressly observed, “ was not that persons embracing these doctrines were worse than others, but that many of them were found by no means so much better than others, as he was convinced their principles ought to have made them.” 1
1 See pp. 205, 667, 668. (210, 685.)
In short it may be justly said that he had respect to the rule implied in the interrogatories of the Apostle, What have I to do to judge them that are without ? Do not ye judge them that are within ? He spoke openly and honestly of the faults of those with whom he was more immediately connected, in Christian charity seeking their improvement: and in this particular view he concerned not himself with others. If therefore we would ascertain the comparative character of that class of persons, and the tendency and effect of their principles upon the whole, according to his judgment, we should inquire, in connexion with what he has written concerning them, How would such a man-one of so high and holy views, and of such keen discernment of errorof its causes and its consequences—have spoken, had he been called to report on the state of the anti-evangelical world ?—that part of it, I especially mean, which brings such charges as we are considering. And I cannot hesitate to answer, that he would have said, “ Ye have utterly taken away the key of knowledge of the just knowledge of God's holiness-of man's real condition and of what is required of him. Ye have made the law of God of none effect through your relaxed interpretations. Ye have removed the true standard of duty, and substituted for it an infinitely lower and looser rule. Ye are to be numbered therefore among the abettors of the most widespread, though least suspected, of all species of antinomianism." That these would have corresponded with his actual sentiments will appear from a few extracts, which I shall subjoin, in which he declares what he really thought of the evangelical body as compared with other professed Christians: whereas, in the passages of which advantage has been taken, he was speaking of them as compared with the purity of genuine Christianity in principle and practice.
1 Life, p. 204. (210.)
In a quotation, inserted in the Life,' from probably the most studied of all his printed sermons, he says, “ Perhaps speculating antinomians abound most among professed Calvinists, but antinomians
1 Page 204. (209.)
whose sentiments influence their practice, are innumerable among Arminians. Does the reader doubt this ? Let him ask any of those multitudes who trample on God's commandments, what they think of” Calvinistic doctrines," and he will find that this is undeniably true : for all these, in various ways, take occasion from the
of God to encourage themselves in impenitent wickedness ”—which is the very essence of antinomianism.
The following passages are from his answer to the “ Refutation of Calvinism."
“ In populous places, where in this land preachers of every kind are at present found, there will, no doubt, be men who adopt the wildest notions, and disgrace the truths which they profess, with the vilest conduct. They who pay sufficient attention to the subject will find, that this is the grief and distress of numbers, and especially of ministers, who, agreeing in some points of doctrine with these enthusiasts and antinomians, (for we cannot give up truth, because professed and perverted by wicked men,) are by superficial observers, and such as only behold the company from a distance, classed with the very persons whom they mourn over, and protest against, and oppose by every scriptural method in their power. . -But, after every deduction, it may confidently be averred, that the stated congregations, and especially the communicants, at those churches