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ral. Conviction of sin is prevented. The wicked, instead of being solemnly warned, are flattered with delusions, and so sleep, undisturbed, in an impenitent state. Go to the places, where the salutary truths of the gospel are withheld, and false theories, empty declamations, or cold moral essays are substituted in their place. Do you find sinners deeply impressed with the criminality of living without God in the world, and with the importance of a penitent, godly life? Do you hear them seriously proposing the question, What shall we do to be saved? a question, which the apostles always rejoiced to hear, and were ready to answer, but which many clergymen at this day totally discountenance, and treat with scorn. What a pestilence in the Christian world is the influence of such ministers. Even the most godly have their share of the injury. What edification can they derive from the instructions of God's house, when the most momentous truths are passed over in contemptuous silence? What a disturbance and grief must it be to them, if, when going to the temple of religion, they cannot know, but that in the place where the light of heaven should shine, they shall be overshadowed with the mists of error? Does not men's attendance upon the gospel ministry, as it is conducted in many parts of New England, instead of promoting their salvation through belief of the truth, tend to a contrary purpose?
Ministers, who are not established in the belief and love of the gospel, will not be faithful in Christ's cause. They will not
cultivate his vineyard, but leave it to be laid waste. They will resemble the shepherds so se. verely reproved by Ezekiel, who fed themselves and not the flock. The diseased ye have not strengthened, said God by the prophet, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost. They subject themselves to the fatal sentence of those, who daub with untempered mortar, who heal wounds slightly, and cry, Peace, peace, when there is no peace.
When, therefore, churches are negligent of the religious sentiments and the piety of their ministers, they show themselves wholly unconcerned respecting the effects of the gospel dispensa tion. In a degree they are responsible for all the mischief which is done by unqualified teachers. They are guilty of encouraging and supporting those, who not only refuse to go into the kingdom of heaven themselves, but, by the errors of their faith and the unholiness of their example, hinder others from entering. So that, if the woful. influence of erroneous teachers is seen in the corruption of the faith, the discipline, and the morality of the churches; if nominal Christians are loosed from the restraints of religion, and openly conformed to the world; if conviction of sin is prevented, and the impenitent are flattered and hardened; and if God's own people, instead of being edified and comforted, lose the sensible blessings of religion, pine for want of spiritual food, or are for a time carried away
with the current of popular error and vice; if these, and other like effects take place, they are in a considerable measure to be charged to the criminal negligence of the churches respecting the religious sentiments and the personal holiness of gospel ministers.
Fourthly. Negligence as to the sentiments, which ministers hold and propagate, is an implicit contempt of Christ and his gospel. Is it not his peculiar glory, that he is "full of grace and truth?" Is it not one great end of his coming into the world, that he might bear witness to the truth: that he might scatter the clouds which hang over the world, and enlighten mankind with spiritual knowledge? Is not the mission of the Holy Spirit to guide men into all the truth one great advantage of the gospel state? In short, are not the doctrines of religion the substance of the revelation, with which God hath blessed the world? And is it not through them, that God sanctifies his people? How impiously, then, do many churches undervalue the gospel of Christ, yea, with what contempt do they treat him, and the design of his labours, sufferings, and blood? To what a low ebb is religion reduced, how are the impressions of God our Saviour erased from the minds of his professed friends, when they can unconcernedly behold a flood of errors overwhelming the land; when they can carelessly see those, who are set for the defence of the gospel, breaking down all the boundaries of truth, and publicly disclaiming, treacherously undermining, or "subtilizing into an airy phantom," those ho
ly doctrines, which exalt Chris, tianity above the darkness of paganism. Must all these things be endured, as little differences of opinion, which should not lessen our esteem, nor interrupt Christian communion, and which do not unfit men for a church state, nor even for the sacred office? What a false moderation, what a mere show of candour would this be in the churches of Christ! What a forgetfulness of their obligations to him, and a betraying of his honour into the hands of infidels. At best, what an inglorious neutrality in a cause, which ought to be dearer than life!
Can we seriously survey New England churches, and compare their present state with their pristine purity, without grief and amazement of soul? What dis cerning man does not see, what feeling Christian does not bewail the apostasy of these latter times, and the fatal success with which the open and secret enemies of Christ have laboured to poison the souls of men, and to effect the destruction of truth and godliness? Can we be Christ's disciples indeed, and behold with unconcern, the darkness of error overclouding the light of the gospel, and veiling its divine beauty? Must not our hearts swell with sorrow, to see that men proudly dare to villify, or studiously to conceal the eternal truths, to which the Son of God bore witness; that so many, who know the joyful sound, should love darkness rather than light, and offer their deluded souls a sacrifice to infernal malice; and that any who profess to believe the Bible, should behave with such cold indifference
as if they were no wise concerned in the honour of the Redeemer; as if his cause might be innocently abandoned, and the treasures of wisdom in his gospel treated as empty speculations, or disputable, intricate points, and, as if it were a trifling, matter whether divine purity and light, or moral darkness possess our hearts, and prevail in the world. Is this the way, in which the friends, yea, the churches of God show their gratitude for the riches of his mercy? What perfidious treatment of that revelation, which his infinite love has bestowed! What an entertain ment is this of those important truths, which flow from the mouth of the greatest prophet, and are supported by the strongest and most moving arguments; truths, which bear the stamp of ineffable wisdom, and are brightened by the lustre of an eternal excellence. And what lamentation is added to our grief, when we consider, that these evils exist in New England, where God hath made the clearest discover ies of himself; where he planted his church a noble vine, and his mercy cultivated it and rendered it fruitful from age to age; in New England, for which God hath done so much in his providence, and which he hath honoured and blessed, as a theatre of his abounding grace; in New England, whose churches have been justly famed for the purity of their faith, the strictness of their discipline, and the influence of their piety, and whose saints God hath set up, as illustrious examples to future ages. Can they, who love the Saviour, and duly value his word, view the apostasy of New
England churches without blushing and amazement? And will they not seize every opportunity to show their adherence to the adorable mysteries of his gospel? What momentous arguments are these, friends of Immanuel, to raise your zeal, to add life and constancy to your endeavours and fervour to your prayers for the defence of the truth. The eternal love of God, who sent his Son to illuminate your souls with celestial knowledge; the wonders of the Saviour's grace; the native beauty, the divine simplicity of the gospel, surrounded with all the glories of redeeming love, recommended by every consideration of gratitude and duty, and testified by the loudest applauses of angelic hosts, furnish an endless train of irresistible motives, and conspire to animate your hearts with holy ardour in the cause of Zion. Lift up your eyes, and behold your exalted Lord. From his glorious throne he looks down to notice the order, the purity, and fidelity of his churches. He directs your eye to the scorn of the multitude, the hatred of the learned, the blindness and rage of rulers, and the furious efforts of infernal spirits, which afflicted him, but could never shake his resolution, or drive him from his cause. He points to the shame he despised, to purchase honour for you; to his torturing cross and dying blood, which saved you from everlasting death. He represents to you the alluring glories of a forgiving God, the pure joys of faith, and the eternal pleasures of the sanctuary above. He re-. minds you of what his almighty arm wrought for your forefathers, and shows the blessings,
which are deposited in this favoured land, as the goodly heritage of you and your children. And he waits to see what influence all these arguments will have upon you, and what return you will make for all this display of goodness. Will you, then, with an unfeeling heart, see him robbed of his majesty and glory, and his cause basely betrayed? Will you consider it, as a matter of indifference, whether his ministers preach, or his churches receive the distinguishing truths of his word? Can you, without emotion, see the dangers which beset unwary souls, and the approaching ruin of this declining age? Churches of New England, once comely and glorious, arise from your bed of sloth. Cast off the lukewarmness, which is so hated of God. Show your selves on the Redeemer's side. Sacrifice all other interests, however dear, to the interest of truth; all other passions, however strong, to the cause of Zion, and all other persons, however great and honourable, to the honour of Christ. Behold the grace of your exalted Saviour, and hear that voice of mingled love and terror, which once warned the lapsed Ephesian church, and now Warns you; Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do thy first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent. PASTOR.
August, 1806, page 107, commenced some remarks, under the signature of J. C. on the difficulties supposed by the writer to be involved in the doctrine of saints' perseverance. Subjoined to these are some observations by another hand,* avowedly in reply to the former, and designed to elucidate the doctrine, and remove the difficulties suggested. The writer of the former remarks has no wish, nor design, to enter into a public discussion of the doctrine in question. The difficulties proposed were obvious. It was certainly desirable, that, if capable of a Satisfactory explanation, they should receive it. These observations explain the motives of his first publication. He is about again to trespass on the patience of the public; and they may again demand his reasons. They will be found in what follows.
THE reader doubtless recollects, that in the Panoplist for
He acknowledges, with pleasure, the spirit of candour, which apparently dictated the observations of LUTHER. He acknowledges, likewise, the force and pertinency of many of his observations. If we are to view the arguments of LUTHER as intended to defend this doctrine upon the ancient, Calvinistic ground, it is readily conceded, that many of them are by no means destitute of force and ingenuity. But were they intended to defend it on this ground? We certainly conceive they were We may have mistaken the design of the writer. If so, we assure him the mistake is in
ON THE DOCTRINE OF PERSE- Voluntary. The opinion of ancient Calvinists was, that the re
generate do ever, and at all times, retain some moral qualities, which distinguish them from the unregenerate; that, in the language of the apostle, they cannot sin, unto death, because their seed remaineth in them. But this opinion, to our apprehension, is not the foundation, on which Luther's arguments rest. For, in answer to the question of LC. What would have become of David, had he died in the midst of his crimes? LUTHER replies, "If he had died impenitent, he would have been lost." Here, it is conceived, the author fairly concedes, that, in his opinion, David did totally apostatize from God and holiness; that he fell, for a time, into precisely the same moral state, in which he was previously to his conversion. What LUTHER believes concerning David, he doubtless believes concerning other good men. He believes, that they are sometimes entirely holy, and sometimes entirely sinful. He not only believes, with the disciples of Mr. WESLEY, that there are some instances, in which saints fall from holiness; but, that they frequently do this; indeed, that the life of every Christian is little else, than an alternate rising into holiness, and sinking into sin. But though he agrees with the disciples of WESLEY, in believing that saints fall from holiness, he does not believe, with them, that any regenerate person will finally perish. He supposes, that the covenant of grace, though it does not prevent those who embrace it from becoming just as sinful as they were before, does, however, secure them from eternal perdition. Vol. II. No. 5.
On supposition that J. C. agreed with the Methodists, as to the final defectibility of saints, what would LUTHER have him do? Would he have him believe, with Calvinists, that those who are born of God are always distinguished, by the temper of their hearts, from the unrenewed? No: he would have him believe no such thing. He is to meet the common opinion of Calvinists only half way; he must embrace their belief of the final salvation of the regenerate, but reject their belief that the regenerate always continue possessed of a holy principle.
If these be indeed the sentiments of LUTHER, it is impossible for us to perceive the pertinency or propriety of his remarks. On the ground, which he occupies, unless we have mistaken that ground, we conceive it impossible to defend the doctrine which he advocates. This is the reason of our again requesting the attention of LuTHER and the public to our remarks; because his arguments, however clear and forcible, in themselves, yet, resting, as we conceive, on an unstable foundation, have no tendency to obviate the difficulties we before suggested. Consistently enough with his scheme, God may be said to persevere in his determination to glorify the saints; but with no propriety can the saints be said to persevere, unless persevering, and not persevering, are terms of the same import.
Nor is it true, according to this theory, that God perseveres in his love to saints. If they be, at times, destitute of every moral quality to distinguish them from the unregenerate, he cannot, at