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who-ate the leaders of such bigoted people are, in the general, people lightly esteemed, much despised, yea, and stoutly withstood, by the great, wise, and learned of the world. Sixthly, That the doctrine of election leaves wife, family, friends, yea, and perhaps all that are near or dear in the ties of affinity or blood, out of the number saved. Seventhly, the plaintiff sheweth that the best of friends and benefactors, as well as the majority of the whole world, are averse to it, and incensed against it. Eighthly, That the Most High might have prevented the fall of men and devils if he would. Ninthly, that all domestic comforts in wife, family, food, and pleasure, must be foregone if divine impressions were lasting, conscience kept tender, and the daily cross continued. Tenthly, That fasting, prayer, self-denial, and hourly abstinence, must be rigidly pursued, or else all would fall to ruin at last, and hell would be the hotter for such a barren profession. Eleventhly, That Cain, Judas, Esau, and Sapphira, fell after all their profession; and were worse than those who never made any; for where little was given little would be required; and therefore the more ignorant the more safe. Twelfthly, That the path to heaven was strait and narrow, and people that would be singular in religion were exposed to all the shafts of men and devils; and that Christ was an austere and rigid master: that there would be nothing but cross upon cross, as we see in Job; and stripe upon stripe, as in Ephraim; even to the end of the journey. Thirteenthly, That the conjugal enjoyment of a wife, an affectionate indulgence of a child, a jocose word, an innocent smile, or even a genteel suit of apparel, would be “an iniquity to be punished by the Judge;" the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is so jealous a God.
The plaintiff further shewed that the Bible was a doubtful revelation; many obscure phrases, and seeming contradictions, appeared palpable in it: and that many of the learned and wise had examined, arraigned, and condemned it; and had set up their own unbiassed and unerring reason as the only lord paramount, deemed capable of censuring and determining every matter in debate relative to heaven, earth, or hell.
The plaintiff further shewed that the continual cross which generally attended those of this singular way of religion was, that there would be an heart to love, and an eye to pity, the poor; which would be crossed with a beggar's pocket: that there would be an uncommonly bigotted spirit to the singular party in religion, and a great anxiety to make proselytes, which would be crossed with a heavy persecution. Spending time in this service, and neglecting other business, had brought, and would again bring, many “to suffer hunger, cold, and nakedness." Besides, people of this strange way make the path to heaven much more difficult than it really is: they are “ righteous overmuch," and ready to destroy themselves at it: they talk of being “ partakers of the divine nature," and keep pressing after such a degree of holiness by the Spirit, as they call it, that their sin is not unlike Adam's, who wanted to be like God.
And, lastly, the plaintiff added, that the things which he had mentioned were consonant, and not repugnant, to some of the plain parts of what is called scripture; where God (if he be the author of the book) says, “ Let us reason together,” Isa. i. 18.
Ahimaaz. Why then the devil is an excellent pleader.
Cushi. In one sense he is, but not in another: he can plead against us; but he is too proud to plead guilty before God, too vile to plead innocent, and without a foundation to plead for mercy. The devil brought all these things to Prodigalis, in order to prejudice his mind against the truth of God, that he might raise rebellion in his heart. Nor was Satan's attempt without effect; for Prodigalis did not expect a temptation with so mild a bait: he expected that every appearance of Satan would be in a storm, and therefore he listened to him: carnal reason approved of the suggestions; flesh and blood also gave into it; and, by the assistance of unbelief, Satan carried all before him.
Now was Prodigalis filled with carnal reasonings about the sovereign grace of his Maker; the perilous path to heaven; and the few, the very few, that seemed to be travelling on that singular way. He soon found the government of the world, and the salvation of all the human race, to lie with an intolerable weight upon his shoulders; and he was impiously led to infringe upon the prerogative of his Lord, whose undoubted right it is to do as he will with his own, (Matt. xx. 15) without giving an "account of any of his matters,' Job xxxiii. 13.
Ahimaaz. There is one thing in Satan's plea that I am amazed at; which is, that those who were singular in their religion were exposed to all the shafts of men and devils. Can Satan speak against himself?
Cushi. Satan is not divided against himself in the management of his kingdom; if he was, how could his
kingdom stand? But he can speak against, deny, and rebuke himself, when such things will serve his turn. He speaks against himself in every false prophet that rebukes sin; he denies himself in every deist who denies the being or existence of fallen angels; and he rebuked himself when some of his own children in mockery of Paul) were commanding an evil spirit to leave the heart of a sinner; whose answer was, I know, but who art thou?" and then “overcame them, and sent them out of the house naked and wounded,” Acts xix. 16,
Poor Prodigalis began to be timorous about the difficult way to the kingdom; he yielded to the carnal fear of man, and trembled at persecution; flesh and blood was consulted about the doctrine of particular redemption; and carnal reason bore violently against the doctrines of election and predestination; which influenced Prodigalis with a spirit of murmuring and rebellion against the discriminating grace of his God. But he soon found, like Paul, that it was “hard work to kick against the pricks:” he found his mind began to be confused; fear and horror laid a fresh hold of his conscience; peace of mind was not enjoyed; his mouth at a throne of grace was stopped; a sense of the divine favour was sensibly suspended; and shame and confusion covered his face. And, as the state of his own soul began to be perilous, he was obliged to employ the powers of his mind nearer home, and leave the salvation and management of the world to God; whose infinite wisdom needs no counsel of ours, nor will his supreme power and absolute prerogative ever be yielded or given up to us. el Ahimaaz. How subtle an adversary is Satan!
who would have thought that such an one as Prodigalis, a man so wonderfully delivered, and who had experienced such superabounding grace, could be so easily led from an humble submission to the will of God, even to rebel in his heart against him, and against those very truths that made him free? But, alas, what is man if left to himself! Pray how was he delivered out of that snare?
Cushi. As he was one day reasoning and disputing in his heart against the doctrines of election and particular redemption, and impiously censuring the sovereignty of his Maker, these words. came to his mind with power, and full fraught with divine reproof: “ Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob,” Isa. xli. 21. This made Prodigalis tremble; he thought within himself that, if he justified all the world, it would be of no force against the judgment of God; and, if he held the whole system of natural religion, that would afford him no salvation below the
grave; for, if God was his enemy, who could be his friend in eternity! He went at last with an humble confession of his folly to his Lord, and entreated him to undertake for him, and extricate him out of this puzzling, this soul-distressing labyrinth of confusion; and the blessed Saviour was entreated of him, and gave him a wonderful deliverance; he sent such light and comfort into his soul as he thought he never had experienced before; the darkness and confusion of his troubled heart, and his carnal reasonings against the sovereign will of his Lord, vanished, and his love and zeal burned stronger for truth than ever.
Ahimaaz. I evidently see that there is no growth