Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

In some few places however, the terms Calvinist and Calvinism, Arminian and Arminiunism, are retained ; not as invidious distinctions, but for convenience, and to prevent circumlocution. It is a great mistake to suppose, that self-righteous pride is peculiar to Arminians, or Antinomian laxity to Calvinists. Pride and dislike to the holy law of God are congenial to our fallen nature: so that every man is radically of himself both self-righteous and antinomian. No creed, as such, will cure either of these distempers; but regeneration renders us convalescent. Yet even true christians frequently hold and contend for doctrines, which very inadequately infuence their own hearts and lives; nay, they often maintain errors, without being proportionably injured by then. Hence many Calvinists are prone to pride and self-preference; and many Arminians peculiarly humble, modest, and unassuming. But the christian temper, wherever found, is vastly more valuable, than the inost exact notions without “ the “ mind which was in Christ Jesus.” On the other hand, the Arminian is not at all secured from Antinomianism, nor the Calvinist exposed to it, by their several tenets: seeing both of thein are Antinomian just as far as they are unsanctified, and no farther; “ because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not “ subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be.” Perhaps speculating Antinomians abound most among professed Calvinists ; but Antinomians, 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 commandinents, what they think of predestination and election, and he will speedily be convinced, that it is undeniably true: for all these, in various ways take occasion, from the mercy of God, to encourage themselves in impenitent wickedness. It would there. fore be unspeakably better, for all parties to examine these subjects, with impartiality, meekness, and brotherly love; than reciprocally to censure, despise, and condemn one another.

May ?, 1798.

SERMON, &c.

John vi. 37–40.

All that the Father giveth me, shall come unto me:

and him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, - but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's wilt which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

The holy Scriptures, being the Word of God, are doubtless perfectly consistent. Moses and Samuel, David and Isaiah, Paul and James, being merely the penmen of the Holy Spirit, must perfectly harmonize in the truths which they inculcate. Precepts, threatenings, warnings, judgments, counsels, exhortations, invitations, promises, privileges, histories, examples, types, and

parables, in divers methods coincide in forwarding our instruction. They all display and illustrate the same character of God and of man; and impress the same ideas of sin and of holiness, of time and of eternity, of happiness and of misery. They all concur in displaying the glory of the divine perfections by the dispensations of Providence in this world, and the final distribution of rewards and punishments in the world to come. And though these constituent parts of holy writ do not in all respects answer the same purposes, each has its distinct important use, in the accomplishment of one vast and uniform design.

But though the Scriptures are in themselves completely harmonious; yet men do not readily perceive this harmony. Numbers imagine they see in them numerous inconsistencies and contradictions: others, judging it impracticable to reconcile the sacred writers, give a partial preference to one above another, and set them in opposition to each other, according to their several opinions. The various sects and parties, professing Christianity, appeal to Scripture in proof of their discordant tenets; and multitudes, content with those passages which seem to speak the language of some favourite system, pass over all the rest as if nothing to the purpose, or nothing to them, a meré caput mortuum' in divinity.

numero

• The insipid mass, that remains when the spirits are all dran'n off by distillation; or the mere dross left in refining metals.

n

These things are notorious; but whence do they arise? We allow, that the vastness of the design revealed in Scripture, which has relation to things unseen and eternal, and to the perfections of the incomprehensible God, must very far exceed the capacity of our narrow minds, and cannot enter the understanding at once, nor be apprehended at one glance; and when viewed in parts, the unity is broken and the harmony obscured: insomuch that we may justly question, whether any creature can perfectly comprehend the consistency of the glorious plan, “ which angels desire to look into.” -But other reasons concur in producing this discordancy of sentiment. The Bible is a revelation from God to sinners: and it seems an apparent intention of the Holy Spirit, so to arrange and constitute this revelation, as to make trial of men's hearts; and to distinguish betwixt the humble teachable enquirer after salvation, and those who read the Scriptures with captious self-sufliciency in order to start objections, with attachment to a party for weapons of angry controversy, or with a worldly and sensual mind to find excuse for their sins. “The way-faring men, though fools, “shall not err therein.” But “the Lord taketh " the wise in their own craftiness :” “Because “ they received not the love of the truth, that they “ might be saved; and for this cause God shall “ send them strong delusion, that they should be“lieve a lie; that they might all be damned, who Vol. II.

Pp

« IndietroContinua »