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2d, Several lucrative tenets in some established systems, which induce the suspicion of craft and design in the whole, such as purgatory, prayers for the dead, the efficacy of offerings and donations to the church.
3d, The placing Christianity on wrong foundations. Thus, the Quakers and Methodists refer you for the proof of Christianity to the notions and witnessings of the spirit in your own breast. Now, a man who hears this, and can feel no such motions, has nothing left for it but to turn INFIDEL."
"THE two leading tenets of METHODISM, and the most serious points of difference betwixt us and the METHODISTS, are
1st, That faith alone saves us; and
2d, The perceptible operations of the holy Spirit.
The first is founded on those passages of St. Paul, especially in the third chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, where he declares expressly, that by the deeds of the law, no flesh shall be justified, v. 20. ; and that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law, v. 28.
To which we answer,
That the justification here spoken of does not mean final salvation, but only what passed at their conversion, i. e. their deliverance from the desperate condition which they were in before: when, instead of being destroyed for their sins, as the old world was, people, upon their conversion to
or heart,' or showing a picture, says, 'this is my father,' &c. The words plainly signify, this represents my body, i. e. is a memorial or emblem of it, agreeable to the Jews' mode of metaphor. It is founded also on false philosophy, as it supposes in bodies a substance besides the quali ties underneath them, independent of them, and which may be changed, though the bodies continue the same.?
Christianity, had all their former sins forgiven, were putupon easy and gracious terms for the future, and furnished with new means, lights, and assistances for the government of their conduct. This was such a favour, such a change for the better in their spiritual condition, that they might properly be said to be delivered or justified, in the same sense that Rahab was justified when she was saved from the destruction of Jericho; that Noah was justified when he was saved from the flood; David when delivered from his enemies; Phinehas when the priesthood was given to him; or Abraham when his idolatry was pardoned and he was taken into the covenant; and that notwithstanding their being thus justified at their conversion, if they relapsed into, or continued in sin, (which St. Paul supposes possible by warning them against it,) they would finally perish.
In further proof of this interpretation, we add,
1st, That Christ himself studiously guarded against their falling into this errour, by insisting upon works accompanying their belief, and took, as it were, pains to have them understand, that hearing, believing, or calling upon him, without keeping his commandments, would be ineffectual. See Matt. vii. 21-29. John v. 29.
2d, That the Apostles in all their letters and speeches, (and none of them more than St. Paul) exhort to virtue and sanctity of life.
3d, That St. James has expressly combated the notion that faith without works was sufficient. James ii. 14-26. There is a seeming contradiction between St. James and St. Paul, in their both selecting the same example to prove contrary propositions; which is thus easily reconciled, that St. James speaks of final justification, St. Paul of conversion to Christianity.
4th, That above all, St. Paul himself tells the very people whom he had before pronounced justified by faith, that if they lived after the flesh, they should die. Rom. viii. 13.
5th, That all these strong expressions which have created the doubt, and this great stress, which is laid upon faith, would probably never have been heard of, had it not been for the dispute which arose with the Jews, and the engrossing temper of that people, who would not suffer the Gentiles (unless they would first become Jews,) to be admitted to an equality, or to be set upon a footing with themselves. To beat down this it became necessary to contend that their being admitted to a share of favour at all, or to stand upon any particular footing as God's people, was not on account of any prior merit, which the Jews would have laid hold of as peculiar to themselves, but simply and singly by faith, i. e. by believing and receiving the Christian religion,
Thus much, however, ought to be granted to the METHODISTS, that after all it is a dispute perhaps about words rather than things; certainly about abstract doctrine and not any practical question: for they do not pretend that a man who continues all his life a rogue or a cheat, or a whoremaster, or a drunkard, or in any habitual vice, will go to Heaven at last by his faith. They either say it is not a true faith, i. e. it is only in the mouth, not in the heart; that he does not really believe; or have constantly some other way of evading the conclusion.*
As to the perceptible operation of the spirit, we agree with them in believing that the spirit of God may, and does act upon men's minds, but we deny what they pretend, that these operations can be distinguished from the natural
See Halifax's three Sermons on Justification.
course of our own thoughts. A METHODIST will have it, that he can perceive the spirit moving within him, know every impulse, be sure that such and such thoughts are not the workings of his own mind, but come from God. He can tell, for instance, the time and place, the very hour and minute when he was illuminated, converted, born again, regenerated, elected, born of God; which is always with him instantaneous. He is assured by the spirit of his final salvation, knows when God accepts him or hears his prayers, when he has communion or communication with God,-when he struggles or wrestles with him.
We on the contrary say, that we perceive no such thing; that without some sure sign or token, either external, as a miracle, or internal, as that which accompanied inspiration, and which we allow that the prophets and apostles had, we neither can nor ought to pronounce with confidence, what is the acting of the holy spirit, and what is not.That, at any rate, people's telling us their feelings, their impulses and communications, without giving us any proof besides their bare words, can be no ground of assurance to us, whatever evidence they may have of it themselves.
That Christ did not call upon mankind to believe him, because he felt, or thought himself inspired, or because he was conscious of communications or intercourse with God, but for his works' sake, on account of the outward, visible, and publick proofs which he gave, the signs and wonders which he wrought before their eyes.
That it is enough, and all that we have to do, to pray for the assistance of God's holy spirit, and to encourage and avail ourselves of good resolutions and desires, when we feel them; that we be extremely afraid and cautious of counteracting or putting them off, lest they should proceed, as they certainly may do, and frequently in fact do,
from God's spirit, and so we be found fighting against God, and quenching, and stifling and grieving his holy spirit.”
"FOR the STUDY OF THE GOSPELS, read by way of introduction, Collyers's Sacred Interpreter, especially the former part of the second volume; Harwood's Introduction, volume i.; the Dissertations prefixed to Macknight's Harmony; Godwin's Jewish Antiquities; or rather Jennings' Lectures upon that work; and Law's Reflections on the Life and Character of Christ.
By way of commentators, furnish yourselves with Hammond by Le Clerc; Lightfoot's Works upon the respective Gospels, especially his Hora Hebraica; Bowyer's Conjectures on the New Testament; Jebb's, or any other Harmony; Wetstein's edition of the Greek Testament, 12mo, 1711; Parkhurst's Lexicon, and Clarke's Paraphrase.
Your method of studying the Gospels, for the first time of going over them, may be this. Read a passage of St. Matthew, for instance, in the English, with as little attention as may be to the division of chapter and verse, and break it with your pen, as you go on, into sections or paragraphs. Mark the words, expressions, connexions, and reasonings that appear to have any difficulty, and, at the same time, note down the best sense or explanation you can give them, however dubious and unsatisfactory. When you have thus gone through the paragraph, set about the clearing up of these difficulties, one by one, in their order; and then, in the first place, have recourse to the original Greek, with the assistance, if you want it, of Parkhurst's Lexicon, which will frequently clear up the doubt, without more to do. If not, consult the parallel passages in the other Gospels, which your Harmony points out; and if there be none, or if they afford no light, turn to the texts which