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take them up in a speculative and unscriptural manner, and not experimentally and practically.
“The perversion of its tenets has in former ' times been made, by wicked and designing men,
the instrument of great mischief ; and I fear 'that at the present moment the interests of real
Christianity suffer not a little, and that the estab- lished church is in no small danger, from the
active hostility of those who profess Calvinistic • doctrines.'1
“The perversion of these doctrines has been, and will be made the instruments of great mis• chief, by wicked and designing men ;' and so will be every tenet of Christianity, when perverted. . But I apprehend that the established church is at present as much in danger from the active hostility of men professing Anticalvinistic doctrines, as from Calvinists. The Socinian and Arian dissenters are zealous for the dissenting interest, and comprehend a large number ; the Wesleyan Methodists, that very numerous body, are Anticalvinists; and the success of the Calvinistic dissenters is not owing to their principles on these subjects, but to their evangelical doctrines in other respects, and their zeal in promoting them, along with their peculiar opinions concerning church-government, and against all establishments. This is fully known to those who are well acquainted with facts : for they who are the most systematical Calvinists are far from being the most zealous persons, either in promoting village-preaching, or in the other means, by which
numbers are drawn off from the established church. Indeed they who are decidedly Calvinists in judgment seldom introduce their principles very prominently, except ‘among such as are already gained to their side: for if, going into villages, and among those who are strangers to the peculiar doctrines of Calvinism, instead of shewing men their need of repentance, faith, renewing grace, forgiveness, in short, of the salvation of Christ, and urgently pressing them to accept of it; they should begin with predestination, election, nonelection, and topics of this kind; they would not only act unscripturally, but would be left in empty rooms. Since those whom they proselyte, by preaching familiarly and zealously the simpler parts of Christianity, could not at present receive these doctrines, and would almost universally revolt against them. How far the general interests of real Christianity suffer by this, I am not prepared to say; but the church of England is in no small danger, not so much from the active hostility of Calvinists, as from the zealous exertions and evangelical tenets of men who, however they may be thought inferior in all other respects, are certainly more earnest and active and intent in preaching, and in “teaching from house to house,” than the parochial clergy in general are; and from these exertions being left to their full scope by the negligence of the clergy.
‘Let the parochial clergy, by persevering zeal, combined with knowledge, and tempered by cha‘rity, be instant in their endeavours to heal the • divisions which rend the church of Christ. Let
*them labour to understand and set forth the
gospel in its original purity; not by dwelling 'on a few detached passages, which have been, and ever will be, the subjects of controversy, when considered without reference to the general tenor of scripture, or the peculiar circum
stances and opinions to which they allude: but, 'guided by the light afforded them by our truly venerable reformers, in the Articles, the Liturgy, and the Homilies of our church, let them take a comprehensive view of the whole of scripture; and,“ rightly dividing the word of truth,” let 'them explain its doctrines and enforce its pre‘cepts in a manner consistent with the general design of Christianity, and the known attributes of God. Let them, while they exhort men to * remember that schism is not become the less * criminal from its being more common, exert
themselves to check its progress, by a diligent * discharge of the various duties belonging to their
several stations; and, conformably with that spi‘rit of forbearance, by which our church is so
especially distinguished, and which so clearly appears in the declaration prefixed to our Arti*cles, let not those, who are of one mind respect
ing the fundamental principles of our faith, suffer • differences upon certain curious points' to break “the bonds of peace and unity, so necessary, in
this hour of common danger, for the preservation of true religion in these dominions. Thus by ' temperate zeal, sound knowledge, persevering * diligence, and fervent charity, they will best
evince themselves genuine members of a church, * founded upon apostolical authority. Thus, “shew
‘ing their faith by their works,” according to an apostle's injunction, they will most effectually reprove gainsayers, recal wanderers, and prepare themselves, “ in this day of trial which is come upon all the earth,” to give account of their stewardship when summoned before their Judge.''
I most earnestly pray God, by his special grace, to incline the hearts of the parochial clergy, yea of all the clergy without exception, to follow the excellent advice contained in this conclusion of the chapter. The substance of it is so excellent, that I have no disposition to except to any particular expressions, which may not exactly accord to my own sentiments. By zealously and steadily attending to these counsels, and by no other means without this, the parochial clergy may recover, and establish, that preponderance over the dissenting teachers, which is so much desired by them. It may, however, be foreseen, that, if only a part of them do this, so that the total number forms by far the minority among the whole company, they will soon either be classed with the evangelical clergy, so called, or will receive some other name of opprobrious distinction, from the majority which continues to neglect the advice.
ON FINAL PERSEVERANCE, OR THE GIFT OF PERSE
Our views on this subject are generally and most grievously misunderstood: and it must candidly be acknowledged, that very many crude and unscriptural things have been delivered and published respecting them, which have given too much occasion for these misapprehensions. But I trust that in the following positions I shall deliver the sentiments of many among the more Calvinistic part of the evangelical clergy, as well as my own.
1. We do not hold that all, whom the most discerning Christian or minister considers as true Christians, will be “ kept by the power of God “ through faith unto salvation :" for God alone can search the heart; and he may see that to be a dead and temporary faith, which we, in the judgment of charity, think living and permanent.
2. Much less do we think that all, who contend for the doctrine of final perseverance, will be thus preserved : for, alas! many of them have nothing but notions, formality, hypocrisy, enthusiasm, and presumption, in which to persevere.
3. Nor do we confine the benefit, of what the learned and pious Witsius calls conservation, ex
· The latter part of this title is taken from St. Augustine, who wrote De dono' Perseverantiæ; which the Author in the first edition notices as well describing the doctrine intended.—J.S.