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plead. Can this tend to licentiousness ? Nor does the doctrine of perseverance clash with the duty of persevering. It is through faith, an habitual realizing of things invisible, a constant dependance on divine aid and all-sufficiency, and especially a reliance on the grace of the Redeemer, upon whom we depend for strength as well as righteousness, that we persevere. We do not maintain the perseverance of every plausible professor, or every one who thinks himself converted, or presumes that he is elected ; but of true believers, of real saints. God forbid that we should tack together a beginning and end, and leave the devil to fill up the middle. (I use strong language to show how strenuously we oppose those who would abuse our principles.) Our doctrine is as old as the days of Job. The righteous shall hold on his way,” not that he shall get to the end, let him go which way he will : “and he that hath clean hands shall grow stronger and stronger.” Can this be an encouragement to turn aside from God's way, and to defile our hands with iniquity ? It is acknowledged, that true believers have turned aside for a time, and some eminent saints have even fallen into gross sin ; but in this case, they have lost "the joys of God's salvation,” and fallen under his fatherly correction; who hath promised to “visit their transgression with a rod, and their iniquity with stripes;" though he has added, “Nevertheless, my loving kindness will I not utterly take away, nor suffer my

faithfulness to fail.” Though a real Christian may possibly fall into sin after his conversion, of a more heinous nature than any he committed in his unregenerate state, yet he cannot continue in a course of sin ;, and he can have no well founded comfort until he is renewed again unto repentance.

Our opinion is, that there is always equal ground for the assurance of faith, founded on the immutable testimony of the divine word, that there is forgiveness with God; though exercised in such a way as to increase our reverence and godly fear, inasmuch as it is granted only through the mediation and vicarious sufferings of the Son of God: but even a Christian, when in a backsliding state, has not always ground for the assurance of hope, or for confidence of a

personal interest in Christ's salvation. We must show diligence in the work and labor of love, or this assurance will be lost.

Our best divines insist strenuously on this. “It is as impossible, in the nature of things, that a holy and Christian hope should be kept alive, (when believers are in a dead and carnal frame, and have no sensible experience of the exercise of grace, but, on the contrary, are very much under the prevalence of their lusts, and an unchristian spirit) as it is to keep the light in the room, when the candle is put out; or to maintain the bright sunshine in the air, when the sun is gone down. Distant experiences, when darkened by present prevailing lust and corruption, will never keep alive a gracious confidence and assurance; but that sickens and decays upon it, as necessarily as a little child by repeated blows on the head with a hammer. Nor is it at all to be lamented that persons should doubt of their state in such circumstances; but on the contrary, it is desirable, and every way best, that they should.”

See much more to the same purpose in Jonathan Edwards's Treatise on Religious Affections. p. 82, 83.

Dr. Owen often expresses himself in the same strain. “Some would very desirously have evangelical joy, peace, and assurance, to countenance them in their evil frames and careless walking. And some have attempted to reconcile these things, unto the ruin of their souls. But it will not be. Without the diligent exercise of the grace of obedience, we shall never enjoy the grace of consolation." Owen's Meditations on the Glory of Christ. p. 168.

" Peace in a spiritually decaying condition, is a soulruining security ; better be under terror, on account of surprizal into some sin, than be in peace under evident decays of spiritual life.”

In his Treatise on Spiritual Mindedness, Dr. Owen thus writes: “ This I say–Under an habitual declension, or decay of grace, in the spirituality of our affections, no man can keep or maintain a gracious sense of the love of God, or of peace with him." p. 278.

And again, “ Nothing would be so ruinous to our pro

p. 216.

fession, as once to suppose it an easy matter; a thing of course to maintain our peace with God. God forbid, but that our utmost diligence and continued endeavors to thrive in every grace should be required thereunto.” Ibid.

I add one more specimen of Calvinistic impiety, on this point, from Richard Alleine's* Vindiciæ Pietatis, Part III. p. 299. “ Look not that your Lord should so far countenance your declinings to a more fleshly careless state, as to smile upon you in such a frame. God will not be an abettor to sin. Count upon it, that your grace and peace, your duty and your comfort, will rise and fall together. Suspect those comforts that accompany you into the tents of wickedness, and that forsake you not when you forsake your God.”

I can scarcely forbear remarking, that I never saw so many expressions of incautious confidence, in any Calvinistic Hymn-book, and that even in respect of the future, as well as the present, as in Mr. Wesley's Collection. And I may add, at the same time, that endeavoring to judge impartially, as to the state of religion, in his connexion, many of whose ministers and followers I highly esteem, it seems to me, that the greatest danger to which many persons are exposed among them, is that of their being led to indulge a groundless confidence of safety, too often founded on impressions on the imagination, suggesting to the mind, .Now you are justified, or sanctified, or made perfect in love.' And I confess, I have been induced to apprehend, that the doctrine of falling from grace does an essential injury, among good people of this denomination, inasmuch as, that notion prevents them from learning wisdom from experience. If they believed that all true converts would persevere, they must be induced, by finding that so many of whom they hoped well do not actually endure to the end, to be more cautious in deciding who is converted. But when they have given their opinion, that a man has received grace, this idea of falling away solves the difficulty, so that many of them are as ready, upon too superficial evidence, to pronounce a man in a state

* Ejected from Batcombe, Somersetshire. Jos. Alleine of Taunton, married his daughter.

of salvation, as they were previous to their meeting with these disappointments. Connecting the doctrine of general redemption, or that the Saviour, in laying down his life a ransom for

many, had no more intention of saving one than another, with that notion of faith, which was one hundred and fifty years ago considered as an essential branch of Antinomianism, viz. that it consists in an immediade persuasion that Christ died for me ; which he must necessarily have done, if he did equally for every man ; they assume that such a person is safe; he now has grace, though he may fall from it to-morrow.

Very many Arminians, I am satisfied, would utterly reprobate the impiety of Mr. Thompson, one of the first partizans of Arminianism in England, who would sometimes indulge himself in criminal excesses, and then say, 'It is true, I am a child of the devil to-day; but I have free will, and can make myself a child of God to-morrow. For such a man, we would by no means make pious Arminian accountable ; nor ought we to be made answerable, for those miserable men, who pervert what are called Calvinistic principles : but God is our witness, that we are therefore attached to what we call the doctrines of grace, because we believe and feel, that they are doctrines according to godliness.

Oh! that Bishop Watson had given as decided evidence of his piety, as Calvin and Beza, Usher and Leighton, Owen and Edwards, Newton and Scott, and thousands more, whom he thus ventures to charge implicitly with impiety.



THE doctrine of the Trinity taken by itself, as detached from other doctrines of scripture, might seem an unprofitable speculation, of little importance whether it be true or false : but viewed in connexion with the whole plan of human redemption, its importance appears to be very great.

They who reject the doctrine of the Trinity, must, and actually do reject the divinity and incarnation of Christ, the need and efficacy of his atonement, and, in short, all that constitutes the gospel, or glad tidings of salvation to the lost and guilty. They must indeed, in full contradiction to the whole tenor of scripture, deny that men are lost and guilty, deserving to be made the objects of the divine displeasure.

They must also lose sight of the extent and spirituality of the divine law; and entertain very different ideas of the moral government and moral attributes of God, from those which are evidently taught in the Holy Scriptures.

The fact is, that the law and the gospel must stand or fall together. If we lower the dignity of the Saviour, we must proportionably lower the dignity of the Lawgiver also. If we are sensible of the perfection of the law, we must admit and admire the grace and the wisdom of the gospel ; and be sensible, that God, in the exercise of his grace, has abounded in all wisdom and prudence.

“ No man can entertain right ideas of God and his moral perfections, without acknowledging his infinite amiableness ; no one can discern the absolute perfection and infinite love

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