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semane; as well as Christ making the multitudes sit down upon the grass to receive loaves and fishes, or promising thrones to his disciples ? Christ conftraining them to get into a ship, and toil in rowing all night with a contrary wind; as well as Chriit coming in the morning, and causing the livip to be immediately at the land whither they went ? Christ upon mount Calvary as well as Christ upon mount Tabor? In a word,, Who would find fault with them, if they would have Christ with his poverty and selfdenial, his reproach and cross, his spirit and graces, his prophets and apostles, his plain apparel and mean followers ?
But alas! It is not so. They will have what they please of Christ, and that too as they please. If he comes accompanied by legal Moses and honest Elijah, who talk of the crucifixion of the body and decease of the flesh, they can do very well without him. If he preaches free grace, free will, faithfulness, or heavenly-mindedness, fome turn to the right, some wheel about to the left, others go directly back, and all agree to say or think, î his is an hard saying, who can hear it?
They admire him in one chapter, and know not what to make of him in another. Some of his words they extol to the sky, and others they seem to be ashamed of. If he afferts his authority as a Lawgiver, they are ready to treat him with as little ceremony as they do Mofes. · If he says, Keep my commandments, I am a King : like the Jews of old they rise against the awful declaration; or they crown him as a surety, the better to set him at nought as a monarch. And if he adds to his ministers, I am the Prophet that was to come, go in my name and TEACH ALL nations to OBSERVE ALL THINGS what. Soever I have coMMANDED you; they complain, “ This is the law; give us the gospel, we can relish nothing but the gospel.”
They have no idea of eating the paschal lamb whole, his head with his legs, and the purtenance thereof; nor do they take care of not breaking his bons : They do not like him roojt with fire nei
ther; but raw, or fodden with water out of their own broken cisierns : If you present him to them as the type of the Lamb of God that taketh away the fin of the world, and maketh an end of it; their hearts heave, they say, Pray have me excused from thus feeding upon him; and though it is said, Ye mall let nothing of it remain until the morning, you shall eat it in haie, they postpone, they beg leave to keep it till the article of death : And if in the mean time you talk to them of bitter herbs, they marvel at your Jewish legal talte, and complain that you spoil the gospel feast.
They do not consider we must give every one his portion of meat, or proper medicine in due season ; and that sweet things are not always wholesome. They forget we must leave all antinomian refine
to follow Christ, who sometimes says decent pharisees, How can you escape the damnation of hell! And to a beloved disciple that shuns the cross, Satan! thou Javouresi not the things of God, but the things of men. They will have nothing but the atonement. Nor do they chuse to remember that St. Paul, who did not fun to declare the whole counsèl of God, preached Christ to Felix by reasoning of temperance, righteousness, and judgment to come.
Hence it is that fome preachers must chuse comfortable subjects to please their hearers; jult as those who make an entertainment for nice persons, are obliged to study what will suit their dificult taste. A multitude of important fcriptures can be produced, on which no miniiter, who is unwilling to lofe bis reputation as an evangelical preacher, must dare to ipeak in some pulpits, unless it is to expluin away or enervate their meaning: lake some instances.
The good old Calvinilts (Archbishop Leighton for one) questioned whether a man was truly converted who did not fincerely go on to perfeétion, and heartily endeavour to perfect holinejs in the fear of God: hut now if we only quote such passages with an emphasis, and ipforce their meaning with fome
degree of earnestness, the truth of our conversion is suspected: We even pass for enemies to Christ's righteousness.
If we have courage to handle fuch scriptures as these, To do good and to distribute forget not, for with such facrifices God is well pleased.-S.bew me thy
faith by thy works.-Was not Rahab justified by works ? By works was Abraham's faith made perfeet, &c. The bare giving out of our text prejudices our Antinomian hearers against us, and robs us of their candid attention ; unless they expect a Charity-Sermon: For on such an occasion they will yet allow us, at the close of our discourse, to speak honorably of good works: just as those who run to the opposite extreme, will yet, on some particular days, such as Christmas and Good-Friday, permit us to make honorable mention of Jesus Christ
Theevil would be tolerable, if we were only obliged to select smooth texts in order to gratify an Antinomian audience; but alas! it is grown fo desperate, that unless we adulterate the fincere milk of the word, many reject it as poison. It is a doubt whether we could preach in some celebrated pulpits on the good man, who is merciful and lendeth, who hash dispersed abroad and given to the poor, and whose righteousness remain'eth for ever,-or on breaking off our fins by righteousness, and our iniquities by sbewing mercy to the poor, ör on the righteousness which exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees,-or on the robes wasbed and müde white in the blood of the Lamb, without giving general disgust; unless, to keep in the good grace of our Nicolaitan hearers, we were to diffent from all sober commentators, and offer the greatest violence to the context, our own conscience, and common sense, by saying that the righteousness and robes' mentioned in those passages, are Christ's imputed, and not our performed obedience.
How few of our evangelical congregations would bear from the pulpit an honest explanation of what they allow us to read in the desk ! We
may open our service by saying, that when the wicked
man turneth away from his wickedness, and doth that which is lawful and right, he fall save his soul alive; but woe to us, if we handle that scripture in the pulpit, unless we wrest it by representing Chrift as the wicked man who does that which is lawful and right, to save our fouls alive, without any of our DOINGS,
Were we to preach upon these words of our Lord, This do and thou falt live, Luke x, 25; the sense of which is fixed by the 37th Ps. Go and do thou likewife; or only to handle without deceit those common words of the Lord's prayer, confirmed by a plain parable, Forgive us our trespasjes, as we forgive them that trespass againft us; our reputation as Protestants would be in as much danger from the bulk. of some congregations, as our persons from the fire of a whole regiment in the day of battle. How would such a discourse, and the poor, blind man that preached it, be privately exclaimed against; or publicly * exposed in a Magazine presented to the world under the sacred name of Gospel!
In short, whoever has courage enough to preach as St. Paul did at Athens, at Lystra, and before Felix, rebuking fin without respect of persons: whoever will imitate St. Peter, and exhort all his hearers to Save Themselves from this perverse generation, assuring them that the promise of the Holy Spirit is unto THEM, and their CHILDREN; muft expect to be looked upon as unfound, if not as an enemy to free grace, and a setter forth of Pelagian or Popish doctrines. Moderate Calvinifts themselves must run the gauntlet, if they preach free grace like St. Peter. A pious clergyman, noted for his strong attachment to what some call the do&trines of grace, was, to my knowledge, highly blamed by one part of his auditory, for having preached to the other repentance towards God, and exhorted them to call on him for mercy: And I remember he just saved his finking
• This was actually the case some months ago, with respect to a fermon preached by Mr. Welley.
reputation as a found divine, by pleading, that two Apoftles exhorted even Simon Magus to repent of bis wickedness, and pray to God, if perhaps the thought of his heart might be forgiven him.
When fach professors will not bear the plainest truth, from minifters whose sentiments agree with theirs; how will they rise against deeper truths advanced by those who are of a different opinion ! Some will even lose all decency. Observing, in preaching last summer, one of them remarkably busy in disturbing all around him, when the service was over I went up to him, and inquired into the cause of the dissatisfaction he had so indecently expressed. “ I am not afraid to tell it to your face, said he ; I do not like your doctrine: You are a free-willer.” If I have spoken evil, replied I, bear witness of the evil. He paused a while, and then charged me with praying before the sermon, as if all might be saved. That is false doctrine, added he, and if Christ himself came down from heaven to preach it, I would not believe him;"
I wondered at fort at the positiveness of my rigid objector; but upon second thoughts, I thought him modest, in comparison of those numbers of pro. fessors, who see that Christ actually came down from heaven, and preached the doctrine of per, fection in his sermon upon the mount, and yet will face us down that it is an Anti-Christian doctrine.
This Artinomian cavilling of hearers against preachers is deplorable; and the effects of it will be dreadful. If the Lord does not put a stop to this growing evil, we fall foon see every where, what we fee in too many places; self-conceited, unhumbled men, rising againit the truths and minite's of God,- men who are not meek doers of the law, but insolent judges, preposterously trying the law by which they shall soon be tried -- men, who instead of fitting as criminals before all the messengers of their Judge, with arrogancy invade the Judge's tribunal, and arraign even his most veneG 2