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hope my readers will find, that such terms as misrepresentation, calumny, forgery, &c. are used by me, only when the charges implied in those epithets are fully substantiated,-—But why use such epithets at all ? -Answer-Because I wish to call things by their proper names. I do not wish to call evil good, and good evil. I do not wish by soft names to reconcile men's minds to errors or to vices--a practice quite fashionable indeed, but fraught with consequences the most baneful and pernicious. Towards those learned, and highly respectable Divines, on whose writings I animadvert, I am conscious of nu feelings but those of kindness and benevolence. Should any of my expressions appear too strong, or be regarded as personal, I shall feel much mortified; for, I can assure my readers, that, if I know any thing of my own heart, it was errors, not men, I meant to attack.
My “ Refutation" is a work entirely argumentative. Against such books I know there is a prejudice-a prejudice, as I conceive, highly unreasonable. Reasoning and argument characterised the first propagation of Christianity. The founder of our religion reasoned and argued: when only twelve years of age, he disputed with the Doctors. During the whole period of his public ministry we find him addressing the understandings of men—reasoning with the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Scribes and the Lawyers detecting their impostures, and exposing their corruptions, refuting their errors and putting them to silence. Imitating their Divine Master, the Apostles and Evangelists reasoned and argued. In the synagogues of the Jews, the Apostle Paul reasoned every Sabbath. In the school of Tyrannus he disputed daily. The Epicurean and Stoic Philosophers, the Jewish Rabbin, and the learned counsellors of Mars-hill, he encountered by reasoning and confounded by argument. The proto-martyr Stephen reasoned down the “ Libertines, “the Cyrenians, and Alexandrians--they were not “ able to resist the wisdom and spirit by which he
spake.” Luther, Calvin, Zuinglius, and all the fathers of the Reformation, reasoned and argued. By reasoning and by argument the strong holds of the “man of sin" were stormed, and a spiritual emancipation gloriously effected. Nor need we anticipate a victory over the many-headed monster ERROR, if we refuse to wield those spiritual weapons. Impressed with this conviction, I have humbly attempted to defend by argument what I regard as the great fundamental truths of Christianity. I have addressed myself, not to the feelings, the passions, or the prejudices, but to the understandings of my readers. .
In replying to the polemical sermons of the Rev. Dr. Bruce, I have endeavoured to meet every argument which I considered material. The only subject which I have not discussed, is the eternity of punishment. The Doctor's idea, that the wicked will be punished in hell for a certain period of time, and then annihilated, being a completely gratuitous assumption, and having no countenance from either Scripture or reason, I considered unworthy of a refutation. What reason to believe, that the happiness of the righteous will be everlasting, and the misery of the wicked only temporary, when, in the very same passage, * the very same word in the original is employed to designate the duration of both ? With regard to the wicked, our Saviour assures us, that “ their worm dies not, and the
* Matt. xxy. 45.
„fire is not quenched.” Now, if the Doctor's idea be correct, the Redeemer's declaration is not true : for surely the worm of conscience will die, when the subject is annihilated—surely the fire of misery will be quenched, when the unhappy victims are all reduced to nothing! Those who wish to see a triumphant defence of the eternity of future punishment, may consult“ Edwards against Chauncey,” and President Edwards' “ Remarks."
Doctor B., in his preface, boasts of the progress of Arian principles, particularly in the Synod of Ulster. I am happy, however, to find, that the Synod has denied the truth of the charge, and very properly repelled it by a counter-declaration. The truth is, that in the Synod of Ulster, Arianism seems to be in the last stage of a consumption. When an Arian minister dies, he is almost uniformly succeeded by one of orthodox principles. Of the Synod of Munster there is no room for boasting: that body appears to be reduced to a skeleton, and Arianism to be dying a natural death. That Arian principles have obtained the ascendency in Geneva, I believe is true; but the tide is turned, and the Arians are endeavouring to stem it by persecution. The attempt however is vain : those who have drank the new wine of Arianism are turning from it with disgust, exclaiming, as they embrace their ancient principles, “ The old is better !"!
The reader of the following treatise will not suppose, that I mean to condemn every thing contained in the Doctor's sermons; nor that I approve of all those sentiments which I have not opposed. The sermons reviewed contain many things which I not only approve but admire ; particularly on the intercession of Christ and the doctrine of repentance. They also
contain many things which I disapprove, but on which my limits would not allow me to animadvert. Should the Doctor himself, or any of his friends, think proper to stand forward in defence of his principles, I may then have an opportunity .of extending my animadversions. In the mean while, it is my heart's desire and prayer to God that he would render my humble exertions instrumental in arresting the progress of error, and extending the triumphs of truth. “ Arise, - O God, plead thine own cause.”
absurd things found jo their writings during a period of three
OBJECT. V.-He has not studied, and he does not understand, the
* See Chapter II. p. 48.