« AnteriorContinuar »
ters to entertain, I have always charitably believed that they were generally actuated by a deep sense of religion, and a very Christian spirit; and am more inclined to prejudice in their favour than against them. But, as our Saviour has said, “By « this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, “if ye have love one to another," " I always must think those the best Christians who appear most endowed with this Christian love. But, besides this, the tendency of these rancorous disputes is abundantly evident. To those who are enemies to all religion, they are matter of diversion ; and give cause to malicious insinuations against the profession thus disgraced by its professors. To bigotted churchmen, who hate dissenters, they are matter of triumph: and they are ready enough
• Now that the church has, by a full toleration, cut off all pretext of quarrel with her, see how these contentious people fall out with one another, and are ready to tear out each other's eyes.' But to that Christian who, though zealous for his religion in general, is above those unessential distinctions which disunite its professors ; such a party spirit, such an asperity of language, and such a retorting of reproach, as, I am sorry to say, have disgraced both sides in this affair, are matter of deep concern; and it really grieves him to see the religion of the meek and holy Jesus made the pretext of men's gratifying their pride and malice.
In your extract last week, one disputant brought a text of scripture as a reproof to his opponent:
• John xui. 35,
be so impartial as to insert this letter and the following texts, as a reproof to both parties, or by way of remembrance to them; that they reflect seriously on their behaviour, and consider what spirit they are of. Have they, in this dispute, considered that “Christ left us an example that “ we should follow his steps ; who, when he was “ reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he “ threatened not, but committed himself to him “ that judgeth righteously?”? Have they fulfilled this precept, “ Let all bitterness, and wrath, and
anger, and clamour, and evil-speaking, be put away
from you, with all malice; and be ye kind « to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one “another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath
forgiven you ?”2 Have they considered St. Paul's caution : “ If ye bite and devour one
another, take heed lest ye be consumed one of “ another?" 3
I will not produce more, lest I be tedious. But can the warmest friends of either disputants, nay, can they themselves think that they have, in their treatment of each other, fulfilled that law of charity herein laid down? If, on serious reflection, they find they have not; having the best of the argument in an uncharitable contest will be a poor consolation to a true Christian.
I believe I may venture to add, that he will be thought the wisest man, and the best Christian, by all sober and pious persons, who first overcomes his own obstinacy, and drops this unprofitable and uncharitable contention; for the “ discretion of a man deferreth his anger, and it wis his glory to pass over a transgression.' I am, Sir, your constant reader,
"1 Pet. ii. 21, 23.
Eph. iv. 31, 32
3 Gal. v. 15.
FROM THE THEOLOGICAL MISCELLANY.
SOME QUESTIONS RELATIVE TO THE FINAL PERSE
VERANCE OF THE SAINTS.
The doctrine of Final Perseverance has been so repeatedly and amply proved to be true and important, from a vast number of express scripture testimonies ; from the divine character and
perfections ; from the nature of the whole scheme of salvation; and from the security of the covenant of grace; that it would be superfluous to add any thing to the evidence that has already been adduced.
Yet there are many persons that appear to be, and doubtless are, true Christians, who not only hesitate to embrace this truth, but have strong prejudices against it. This, I apprehend, frequently arises from the too common want of accuracy in our method of stating the doctrine; from the gross abuses of which it not only is supposed capable, but which are actually made of it,
in buoying up the vain confidence, and ministering to the unhallowed joys, of hypocritical professors; and from their not seeing how it can be guarded from such dishonourable perversions. To obviate therefore such objections, against a part of divine truth which is so useful for the peace and establishment of the humble Christian, and rescue it from those abuses which expose it to the scorn of pharisees and infidels, should be the uniform endeavour of every one who believes it, and finds spiritual advantage from it. I would therefore propose and attempt to answer a few plain questions relative to this doctrine.
1. Who are the persons that shall finally persevere ?
It is easy to answer in general, that all believers, children of God, or saints, shall finally persevere. But this leaves the matter where it was: to remove the difficulty we must enter more particularly into the subject.
No minister of the gospel by preaching this doctrine intends to convey the idea, that the whole company
persons who profess to believe this, or any other doctrine, or all the other doctrines of their system, shall finally be saved; or that the privilege of final perseverance is confined to those who make it an article of their creed. The belief of this doctrine may do the pious person important services; the rejection of it may be very prejudicial to him ; without being either the cause of perseverance on the one hand, or of apostacy on the other. Those hearers of the word, i all congregations, who receive the seed