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that the corrupt nature of man becomes in believers less and less corrupt, through the influence of divine grace aiding their exertions, till at length it becomes wholly good, persectly purified from all evil; and this of course instantaneously:—for as Mr. Wesley observes,
“ If sin cease before death, there must in the nature of the thing be an instantaneous change-there must be a last minute wherein it does exist, and a first minute wherein it does not." Ib. (Wesley's minutes) page 39. So that a man, under the work of grace, becomes first, in Mr. Fletcher's phraseology, a carnal penis tent, then a Christian believer, then a perfect Christian. (Flelcher's last check, page 115, 116.)
Very different, indeed, from the views which I have endeavoured to propose, are the views which you have been accustomed to receive, from many of Mr. Wesley's and most of Mr. Fletcher's writings.- Mr. W. tells you (Minutes, &c. ut supra, page 4, 39,) “that men are justified before they are sanctified”—that from the moment we are justified “there may be a gradual sanctification,” and that “there must be an instantaneous change,” in our life-time, through which sin shall cease to exist in us;—to which change indeed the term sanctification has been, for some time past, almost exclusively applied by you. This is your favorite system: and forgive me, brethren, when, in faithfulness and love to you, I avow my persuasion that it is a mass of the most dangerous errors.
Error being generally prolific, Mr. F. in defending this system, those controversial works of his, the study of which constitutes the education of a Methodist,—has indeed multiplied the errors of it awfully. I do consider that his polemic writings strike at every principle of divine truth: and are the more dangerous, on account of the vein of apparent piety and servent zeal, that runs through them; as well as on account of that logical subtlety which perrades them, and which—though easily detected by men accustomed to reason closely--must yet impose itself for argument on the generality of readers. I say nothing of the unchristian misrepresentation which fills his pages, of his aspersions and insinuations against those who opposed his errors, as if they were on that account adverse to the strictness of a life devoted to God;-aspersions and insinuations, conveyed so much in the language of humility and love, that the motto of his works might well be--" his words are smoother than oil, and yet be they very swords.” It is not in vindication of their character I write;-it is to warn you against his corruption of the word of God.
As a specimen of these corruptions, and as connected with the error I have been last combating, I call your attention to Mr. F.'s doctrine of an evangelical law, which he asserts his perfect Christian perfectly fulfils—while he is forced to acknowledge that the most
advanced Christian in the present state falls short of the obedience which the stricter inoral law of God required. The latter he calls
_" the Creator's anti-evangelical-paradisaical law of innocence,” and the former--"a milder law-adapted to our present state and circumstances,”—the evangelical, mediatorial, and remedying law of our Redeemer.” (Fletcher's last Check, &c. pag. 15, 16. & pas sim. London, printed by R. Hawes, 1775.) Now I am bold to says that this is the language of a man ignorant both of the divine lar and of the gospel, though it is a language perfectly corresponding with the popular divinity current in the world. Speak to the most openly carnal professor of Christianity, and you will find that, without ever having read Mr. F.'s works, his system is the same only in a less pious garb. He will admit that, according to the strict and perfect law of God, he is a sinner to be sure, like the rest of the world; and that judged by it he would be condemned;though he thinks it would be rather hard that he should be judged by so severe a rule. But he comforts himself with the consideration, that Christ has introduced “a milder law, adapted to our present state and circumstances;" and that, under this remedial law, his deviations from the former are rather to be reckoned innocent infirmities, than damning sins.
But be assured, Brethren, there never did, nor never will proceed from God, any moral law, but one which is immutable and perfect like himself, “holy, just and good.” However variously promulgated, the spirit of it has ever been comprized in these two pr ts, in which the Lord Jesus summed it up—-" Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
- Sin is the transgression of the law;" not, as Mr. Fletcher says, (Last Check, &c. p. 14.) of “a divine law,” -varying according to the various circumstances of men,
but of that one--unchangeable law of the one-unchangeable God, from the curse of which Christ has redeemed his people, and of which he is “ the end,” or accomplishment,
“ for righteousness to every one that believeth.”
But these are not the only moral laws, which Mr. F. has introduced. As his evangelical law is the standard to which a Christian is to be perfectly conformed in order to be his perfect Christian; so he has another, a yel milder law, which was the standard of a Jew's perfection; and another milder still, which is the standard of a Gentile's perfection. (See his last Check, page 67.) And why he should have stopped there, and left out Turks, Infidels and Heretics,-I cannot see. But indeed I view his system as such a corrupt jumble of Law and Gospel, as is neither Gospel or Law, but alike contrary to every essential principle of both; while it is so flattering to the carnal pride and self-righteousness of men, that I do not worder it has attracted so many followers.
Permit me now to remonstrate with you briefly, on some of your errors (as I conceive) in the doctrine of a sinner's justification.The thing is of so great importance, that a misapplication of the word cannot but be attended with danger. According to your laoguage, we are to understand by the justification of a sinner, his obtaining a certain sudden feeling in his mind of divine peace and joy. Those who get this, you call justified; those who hare not got it you pronounce to be in an unjustified state. And if I ask most of you, upon what ground you think you are justified--that your sins are pardoned, and your persons accepted in the sight of God, you would tell me of a certain day, and hour, and moment, when (as you call it) you got the peace;—you would tell me of the distressing agonies which preceded it, of the joyful emotions which succeeded it, and of the words of scripture which accompanied it, as if spoken to you with an audible voice. Now I tell you freely that any of you, who possess no better nor surer ground for your confidence than this, are resting your confidence upon a ground, which is indeed most precarious and unscriptural. They who know any thing of the effects of imagination, must know that all this may be nothing more than the effects of an imagination, heated by the expectation of such a feeling, by the earnestness with which you are taught to lash your
minds up to the pursuit of it, and by the various accounts you have heard of similar instantaneous impulses on the minds of others. God forbid, therefore, that the Christian's hope and confidence should rest on a basis, so uncertain in its nature as this.
Some of you will be ready to conclude me an enemy to spiritual and experimental religion, because I oppose the favorite current in which your experience runs. But indeed they mistake. I am persuaded that there is no real Christianity, but what is the work of the spirit of God; and that work is certainly a matter of experience, from first to last. But you appear to me greatly to mistake the nature of the work of the Spirit, as described in the scriptures. It is 1 not a work by which any new revelation is now to be made to individuals; but a work by which they are made to discern, to believe, and to receive the revelation already made, and recorded in tbe word of God. Each of you is taught to look for a divine revelation to himself, of that which is no where declared in scripture,-that his sins are pardoned, that his person is accepted; and to build his persuasion of the truth of this, not upon any thing declared in scripture, but upon the strength of the sudden feeling with which it bas been impressed on his mind. Here is enthusiasm indeed.
[To be continued.)
FROM THE CALVINISTIC MAGAZINE, THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION. “ And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord : and as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed.” Acts xiii. 48.
Q. To what were these Gentiles ordained ?
A. From the foundalion of the world ; “ Known unto God arc all his works from the beginning.” Acts xv. 18.
Q. How came they to believe ?
A. No. “Some raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coast.”
Q. How many believed ?
“ But we are bound to give thanks unto God alway for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth.” II. Thess. ii. 13.
Q. Who had chosen these Thessalonians ?
A. “ Through the sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth.”
Q. When had he chosen them?
A. Far from it ; for, he felt “ bound to give thanks to God always because” of it.
“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up : and as his custom was he went into the synagogue on the sabhath-day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias : and, when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor ; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised ; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue, were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is the scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bear him witness, and wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, is not this Joseph's son? And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb,, Physician, heal thyself : whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, when great samine was throughout all the land : bat unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Serepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the syeagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill, whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. Luke iv. 16–29.
Q. Were these people pleased with the first part of this discourse of our Saviour?
A. They were very highly pleased. The eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.', 'And all bear him witness, and wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth.'
Q. What was it that displeased them so highly?
A. The news of the favours Christ had to bestow; relief for the broken-hearted, deliverance for the captive, sight for the blind, &e. The worst of men are willing to hear of favours to be bestowed on them.
Q. What works had Christ been performing in Capernaum?
A. He had healed the sick, and caused the lame to walk, the blind to sce, and the deaf to hear.
Q. What was implied in the language of these people of Nazareth, when they said to him, “Whatsoever things we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.”
A. Their meaning was this, · We have as much claim on you for miraculous favours, as the people of Capernaum had, and unless you do as much for us as you have done for them, your conduct will be partial and unjust.
Q. Had the people of Capernaum any claim on Christ for these favours ?
A. None; they had no more claim than the people of Nazareth. If Christ wrought miracles at either place, it was of his own self moving goodness, and not because the inhabitants had any right to demand them.
Q. How did he reply to their suggestion