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of none effect!" In talking of them, we do not of necessity deny the free gift you insist upon. We admit it as readily as you can do: but we speak of the conditions upon which it is to be retained : and as those conditions can, in our opinion, be but imperfectly fulfilled, we allow that after all we have but the mercy of our Master to trust to. We either have free-will or we have it not. If we have it, though we fully acknowledge the necessity of the promised assistance of the Holy Spirit, we must dispose ourselves to co-operate with it, or we cannot expect it. If we have not free-will, then fate is all in all, and we have but to sit still, and wait the event which we cannot control.-But Heaven preserve us from any such belief! !
To Mr. WILBERFORCE.
CHAP. III. S t. 8vo. edit. p. 99.
Some practical Consequences of the prevailing fundamental Misconception of the Scheme and essential Principle of the Gospel.
SIR, HAVING, in my last Letter, endeavoured to show you that our opinions, even in the form you have chosen to put them, are by no means adverse to your own, I now come to what you term some practical consequences of the errors you have noticed :" errors, which if error there be, I trust I have reduced to one, namely, our different mode of stating our belief. That practical evils may arise from the abuse of our mode, as from any other, we do not deny ; from its use we do. But would no practical evils result from an abuse of yours? You do not deny it; but describe them as well and as truly as we could do. Bụt then, we contend that the practical evils arising from the abuse of our mode, are, beyond comparison, less formidable than those which are the result of the abuse of your's, and our mode itself far less likely to be abused. Before you can fix your charges upon us, you must prove that we deny our state of sin, and the necessity of Christ to our salvation; that we deny God to be the Giver of victory, because we ourselves must strive for it, or that every good gift is from God. As for gratitude, have we, by our own showing, no cause for gratitude ? Do we deny the mercy of God in having borne with us, and even fostered us during our rebellion ? Do we deny his mercy in the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ? Have we no cause of gratitude to a Saviour, who not only died but lived for us, performing the whole law, an example of its realities, teaching us the true distinction between good and evil, and dying, the spotless sacrifice, for our sanctification ? Indeed, we may rather retort upon you, in a charge of absorbing the merits of a life of benefit in the single fact of death. You complain that we look upon Christianity as a contract, (p. 99). If we do so, it is referable to what I have before explained of primary reconciliation and ultimate acceptance. I dare say you would not quarrel with the term covenant ; and this, as we understand it, is a mere synonym with contract. I must here notice a remarkable sentence in your book, (p. 100), which, after your indignant denial in your second section of this chapter, (p. 70), I must presume to have popped out unawares. You blame us, saying, that we “are little apt to kindle at our Saviour's name, or, like the apostles, (the apostles are much obliged to you), to be betrayed by our fervour, into what may be almost an untimely descant on the riches of his unutterable mercy,
" (p. 100). Now, Sir, in sober earnest, what do
you mean by this ? Any where else than in an accusation, I should have passed it over as a harmless bit of scriptural declamation, all very pretty, and very proper in its place—but how comes it here? Do you, or do you not, mean to assert, by inuendo, that “ religious affections are, after all, to be chiefly estimated by animal fervour, ardours, rhapsodies, &c. &c. &c. ? You next say, that we “ rather advise sinners to amend their ways, as a preparation for their coming to Christ, than exhort them to throw themselves, with deep prostration, at the foot of the cross,” (p. 100). If we do, it is no more than John the Baptist did before us : Prepare ye the way
of the Lord, make his paths straight !" But is this fairly put ? Who are the sinners in contemplation ? Are they supposed to be Christians or infidels? You will hardly deny that you are speaking of professed Christians, in whom the real sense of that which you assume as your method, and put as a contrast, is of course implied: and here it is that our advice breaks in-Where the
Christian truant, awakened to the sense of his danger, asks our advice, and that advice is there no longer irreconcileable with yours, but merely a continuation or exposition of it. “Repent,” “produce works meet for repentance !” The sinner must prove his penitence by breaking short off his course of sin, or I cannot understand what this
deep prostration” is good for. Without this, it would be but mere mockery and insult to his Redeemer, and, like Judas, he had better throw himself from the beam of the gallows than at the foot of the cross! If he will not invoke the Spirit by actions as well as words, the Spirit will not come ! It is really very hard, that if you can but imagine us to omit even a favourite bit of phraseology of your's, that you should immediately endeavour to make a contrast, treating us as if we thereby denied the indisputable doctrines of Scripture! Now I would ask you, Has Christianity an object on earth, or has it none? If it has, what is it? To furnish a subject for raving and declamation, or to civilize a world, by teaching men, both by precept and example, the essential differences between good and evil, and revealing to them the true attributes, and the gracious dispensations, of the Deity it bids them to adore ?
For the next three pages (p. 101, 2, 3), you preach entirely our doctrine, very much what you