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the acorn virtually not formally contains the oak; as, well as, the oak, when grown, virtually contains other acorns, and future oaks. On such subjects men may speculate in philosophy; but acorns will not answer the purpose of oaks, notwithstanding their virtually containing each other. Nor will obedience answer the purpose of faith as to justification. We agree, however, that we cannot be either justified now, or saved at last, by that faith, which does not produce in us 6 a sincere obedience to the laws of Christ.'
P. clxiv. 1. 9. 'If a, &c." If a minister, either in country-church, or in any other place, or before any congregation, learned or unlearned, should preach in the manner here described; he would prove, that he was wholly unfit for his important office; and would certainly be more likely to corrupt the principles, than to improve, the morals of his audience;' and to propagate antinomianism, instead of christianity. Much caution therefore is needful, on this side, as well as on the other; and much heavenly wisdom and faithfulness; which can only be obtained by constant, fervent, prayer to “ the Giver of every good and perfect gift.” P. clxiv. 1. 20. ' An illiterate, &c.'? In what
1. If a minister should, in a country-church, tell his parishoners, that they will be saved if they have faith in Jesus Christ, • without explaining to them what he means by faith ; or even • if, with explaining to them the true sense of the word, he makes « this doctrine the constant subject of his discourses, and does not • frequently inculcate the personal and social duties separately as
essential parts of the character of a true christian, and as an indispensable proof of his possessing a lively faith, he will be very far from improving the morality of his audience.'
An illiterate person, and the bulk of country congregations
sense is the declaration here quoted, ' a rule of life?' This expression is used in different senses. signify a rule, by which a man should regulate his conduct: and every prohibition of lying and drunkenness, and other vices, as well as every command given to love God and our neighbour ; in short, the whole moral law of God, as explained in the New Testament, by our Lord and his apostles, is in this sense 'a rule of life,' or 'a rule of duty;" which I hope few of the evangelical clergy neglect frequently to set before their hearers, with suitable warnings and exhortations. But, by 'a rule of life' may be meant, a rule, by observing which eternal life may be obtained ; “What good thing shall I do, " that I may inherit eternal life?” In this sense no prohibition, or precept, except, “ Believe in the Lord " Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” can, to a sinner, be a rule of life: because none of our obedience can entitle us to eternal life, which is “ the
gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” But it is seriously to be feared, that multitudes expect, by abstaining from gross vices, and practising some outward duties, to obtain eternal life, though destitute of true repentance, living faith, and inward holiness; and that the religious instructions, which they receive, do not tend to undeceive them: though this sentiment at once renders void the whole gospel.
• consists of persons of that description, if he be told, that lying
and drunkenness are forbidden by the laws of God, and that one of Christ's apostles has declared that no liar or drunkard
shall inherit the kingdom of God, will see in this plaid prohi! þition and declaration a rule of life.'
P. clxv. 1. 5. If he, &c." This passage describes a style of preaching, which I trust is wholly ideal: at least it has never fallen under my notice. Disproportionate statements, as to the different parts of divine truth; a far too general way of treating on practical subjects; many unguarded expressions, and methods of exhibiting the grand doctrines of the gospel, which might be perverted by a carnal heart to an antinomian meaning, I have heard and lamented, and have protested against : but never, even froin those, who are justly considered as antinomians, any thing so grossly abominable, as that which is here described. At present, I am persuaded, that the evangelical clergy in general are very careful to caution their congregations against every antinomian perversion of the doctrine of grace: and I am fully assured, that there are very few in their congregations, who are not quite convinced, that lying, drunkenness, theft, and fornication, and every other instance of immorality, or profaneness, will, unless repented of, forsaken, and abhorred,
*! If he be told, that he has only to cherish faith in his mind, and he will be eternally happy, he will be apt to persuade hini
self that he has this faith, while he is guilty of every vice within • bis means, to which he feels any temptation. He will remember
that the preacher only told him to have faith, and that he did • not enjoin him to abstain from lying, drunkenness, theft, and • fornication. He believes that Christ died for the sins of men,
and is convinced, upon the authority of his minister, that this « faith is all which is required for pardon and salvation. Who
ever knows any thing of the common people, cannot but know " that this mode of reasoning, easily suggested by the corrupt
nature of man, is very likely to take place."
terminate in their everlasting damnation, whatever doctrines they assent to, or whatever confidence they may express ; nay, that the very circumstance of encouraging themselves in sin, by perverting the doctrine of salvation by grace, will exceed,
. ingly enhance their guilt and condemnation. If there be any clergyman, who teaches his congrega. tion, that · faith is all which is required for pardon and salvation, and does 'not enjoin them to abstain from lying, drunkenness, theft, and fornica
tion; and shew the nature and effects of " faith “ which worketh by love,” as distinguished froin a faith consistent with such abominable wickedness; it would rejoice me, and I will answer for it; most of my brethren, to see episcopal authority exercised, in silencing him; as well as in silencing many others, who, in different ways corrupt the gospel of Christ, or disgrace it by their example. We are fully aware that this mode of reasoning, easily
suggested by the corrupt nature of man,' is likely to take place, both among “the common people, and their superiors: and if we give any occasion to it, nay, if we do not fully warn our congregations against it, we deserve not only the censure of our diocesans, but the awful wrath of our holy God; and shall experience it, except we “repent, and do “works meet for repentance;" how evangelical soever our creed may be.
P. clxy. 1. 20. "Whoever, &c.'? Who these
1. Whoever has lived in the neighbourhood of certain preachers, will testify that it has taken place.'
certain preachers' are, we are not told: but this I can confidently say, that I have witnessed, in the places, where the evangelical clergy are stationed, a degree of morality, even in those, who did not fully enter into their views; beyond what I ever saw in any other places. It is true, that many learn from the preachers, evangelical notions, and make a temporary profession of religion; who, at length return, “ like the sow that is washed to her wallowing in the “ mire;” and “the last state" of these men is “ worse than the first." But if they are to be considered as specimens of the company, which they have renounced, or from which they have been excluded; while all those, who,“ taught by the saving sé grace of God, that, denying ungodliness and worldly " lusts, they should lead sober, righteous, and godly, “ lives,” are quite overlooked: prejudice may easily bring in a verdict against the whole body. Thus Judas, Ananias, Sapphira, and Simon Magus, might þave been considered as specimens of the character of Christians, in the primitive times; and those, of whom Paul spake, even weeping,' of all the converts made by his ministry.
In populous places also, 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 ;
Phil, ïïi. 18, 19,