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that the roots may strike deep in their proper soil, and the fruits be matured without prejudice to each other, that every precept and every doctrine may be established in the heart, and the analogy of the whole Christian dispensation may be seen in a life of consistent obedience.
The error which is in opposition to this wholesome practice of the 'skilful teacher is foretold by St. Paul in his address to the elders of the Church of Ephesus: “ I have “ not shunned to declare unto you all the “ counsel of God. Take heed therefore “ unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over “ the which the Holy Ghost hath made you “ overseers, to feed the Church of God, “ which he hath purchased with his own “ blood. For after my departing, I know “ that grievous wolves shall enter in among “you, not sparing the flock. Also of your “ own selves shall men arise, speaking per'“ verse things, to draw away disciples after " themd.” The offence of these men who should arise from their body, and draw
d Acts xx. 27-30.
away disciples after them, was not the denial of any Christian truth, or the introduction of any peculiar heresy, but the os speaking perverse things,” things perverted from their natural, their plain and direct sense and interpretation. This prophecy may have been in the course of fulfilment when Timothy was appointed to the superintendence of the Church of Ephesus, that he might charge some e not to teach doctrine strange or foreign to that of the Apostles. The offender is thus described'. If any man deliver strange doctrine, and “ consent not to wholesome “ words, even the words of our Lord Jesus “ Christ, and to the doctrine which is ac“cording to godliness; he is proud, know“ ing nothing, but doting about questions “ and strifes of words.” This offence of perverting the truth is also insisted on by Saint Peter, in whose time it had probably spread widely in the Church, and who, in speaking of the subjects discussed
fi Tim. vi. 3, 4. El
ci Tim. i. 3. un ētego&IDAD XANEIV. TIS ÉTegodidao xahel.
in the Epistles of Saint Paul, says, that in them “ are some things hard to be under“ stood, which they that are unlearned and “ unstable wrest,” or break as a limb upon a wheel, “ as they do also the other Scrip“ tures, to their own destruction.” The remedy which he prescribes for this practice is this : “ Ye therefore, beloved, seeing “ that ye know these things before, be“ ware lest ye also, being led away by “s the error of the wicked, fall from your “ own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and “ in the knowledge of our Lord and Saso viour Jesus Christg.”
From the descriptions which the Apostles have given of these men, whose offence they foretold and lived to censure, it appears, that they were themselves members of the Church, that they were under the control of the governors of the Church, and that in this capacity they nevertheless laboured to draw away disciples after them. Their offence was, that they uttered perverse things, that they wrested the Scriptures from their natural meaning, and that in this manner they especially treated the things hard to be understood in the Epistles of Saint Paul. What were the things hard to be understood, or to which of the Epistles allusion is principally made, it is vain to conjecture; but on a reference to the Epistle to the Ephesians, to whose perverting elders the prophecy was originally addressed, it is impossible to overlook the doctrines of Predestination and Election", of the common condition of all men by nature as the children of wrath', of their regeneration, or being quickened together with Christ, and of the salvation which is by grace through faitht. From the earn: estness with which the Apostle insists upon these doctrines it may be inferred, that they were especially liable to be perverted by the Ephesians; and it may have been one of the objects of his addressing this Epistle to them, to correct their misapprehension, and to communicate to them sound
8 2 Peter iii. 16-18.
h Ephes. i. 4,5,6. i Ibid. ii. 3. k Ibid. ïi. 5. 'Ibid. m Appeal to Men of Wisdom and Candour, by the Rev. C. Simeon, p. 17.
knowledge and instruction on these articles of their Christian faith.
It will not be denied, that these doctrines are hard to be understood, that they have often been perverted, and that whenever they are made to rest on a scriptural foundation, they are enforced almost exclusively on the authority of Saint Paul. In comparing with the general tenor of the Scriptures the doctrines of Original Sin, of Free-will, Regeneration, Salvation by Faith through grace, Election, and Predestination, as they are maintained by their advocates in the present day, it will appear, that they are appropriately designated in the Apostle's prophecy, as doctrines strange, and perverted from his meaning.
I. Of these principles, which are supposed to be “ of primary and fundamental “ importance",” the first in order is “the « universal and extreme sinfulness"," " the “ universally guilty, depraved, condemned,
n Some Account of the Rev. Tho. Robinson, by the Rev. E. T. Vaughan, p. 64. :