Imágenes de páginas

preacher of it to some brethren who were enquiring into the success of his ministry. "I have made (replied he) many proselytes, and have a very full congregation; but (continued the preacher) all the effect I have found is, that I have preached a congregation of Christians into a congregation of devils.”

I would not be understood as adopting all the harsh expressions that have been at different times made use of upon this subject; because, at any rate, the application of them does not belong to the wellmeaning among these mistaken people; but my object is to point out the general ill effect of the doctrine itself. And so long as it tends to cherish an idea, that salvation through Christ is a thing independent of the personal condition of the party; the foregoing language made use of by Erasmus, and the preacher, is not, so far as those persons are concerned in whose mind such an idea prevails, too 'strong for it. So long as it shall be maintained to be sound doctrine, that the true saints of God, as they are called, may commit horrible and crying sins, die without repentance, and yet be sure of salvation; we ministers are called upon by our office to say, that such a doctrine is not of God; because it teareth up the very foundation of religion, induceth all manner of profaneness in the world, and is expressly contrary to the whole current of scripture.*

One of the old independents of the last century said expressly, "Let any true saint of God be taken away in the very act of any known sin, before it is possible for him to repent, I make no doubt or * Vindiciæ, c. 7, p. 332.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

scruple of it, but he shall as surely be saved, as if he had lived to have repented of it; and he instances in David, in case he had been taken away before he had repented of his adultery and murder. That some modern teachers of this doctrine are not behind hand with the old independent just mentioned, there is but too much reason to fear.

The remark made, therefore, upon this subject by an eminent bishop* of our Church, is not so strictly confined to the wild schismatics of former days, as, for the credit of the present age, we could wish "The fanatical sects (said he) that



sprang up in abundance, amid the confusions of the last century, had so corrupted the word of God by their impure glosses on the Gospel doctrine of grace, that


age became immoral on principle, and under the name of saints, engendered a hateful brood of profligate Antinomians, i. e. a sort of Christians, if they may be so called, who turned the grace of God into licentiousness; and to magnify his goodness, very conscientiously transgressed his laws. In a word, they taught that the elect were above ordinances, and might be saved without, nay in defiance of, the moral law."

Upon examining the doctrine closely, the deformity of which is so striking, that it is a matter of astonishment how it has ever gained credit in the world, we shall find it to be less built upon the word of scripture, than upon the vain conceit of man; which renders him a mere passive being in the work of salvation; and means of grace, in a

great measure, useless institutions.

[ocr errors]

Bishop Hurd. Sermons at Lincoln's-Inn.

The first imagination that possesses the mind of an ignorant man upon the subject of the Divine decrees is, that in every thing relating to his salvation God must work in him both to will and to do, and therefore he must wait God's time. This idea, though true in its proper sense, is carried by him to that extreme, that if he be called upon to attend his Church, and put himself under the word; he will tell you, that means of grace can be of no use to him, till God shall be pleased to open his heart. Should he be reminded, that the Gospel condition upon which he must expect to receive, is, that he should ask; and that having the use of his legs, he is as able to walk to Church as to any other place: his answer is, that he does not feel the will to do it; and that God will make his people "willing in the day of his power. In this confidence he lives a heathenish life, without God in the world, waiting for that compulsive act of Divine power, by which he is to be brought into a state of salvation.

Feeling at some future period of his life, perhaps, some more than common impression made upon him by religious subjects, a second imagination takes possession of his mind. Considering this impression as the immediate operation of that Divine power which he has been waiting to experience, he now persuades himself that he is in the number of God's elect people, and that consequently his salvation is secure. Upon his being reminded, that he that "thinketh he standeth, must take heed lest he fall," his answer is, he cannot fall; for God will keep his elect from falling; He who has begun the * Ps. cx. 3.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

work in them, will complete it; so that the man who is once in a state of salvation, must be always in it. When the case of David, the man of God's own heart, is stated to him; or the text quoted, where that chosen vessel, St. Paul, expresses an apprehension, lest after all his preaching to others, he himself should be a cast-away;* he has a reply suited to the occasion; that upon the supposition that the elect may commit grievous sins, his comfort is, that their salvation cannot be endangered, because no act of man can render void the Divine purpose in his favour.

Thus then, under the impression of the first of these imaginations, the man neglects the use of the means of grace, upon the idea that his heart has not been opened by God to receive benefit from them; and because he has no power of himself to help himself, he cannot be persuaded to make use of that power which God has given him. Under the impression of the second, the means of grace are oft times considered by him to be of no consequence, from the conviction that his salvation is effectually secured.

I do not say that this doctrine is carried to the same extent by every professor of it. God forbid it should. For there are degrees of folly, as there are degrees of wisdom; and no extraordinary case can constitute a proper standard for general application. But there is one instance to be produced, which


here placed, with the view of guarding my reader my placing it in the light in which it is against it. One of my parishioners, who took his


* 1 Cor. ix. 27.



divinity, as perhaps many others may do, from some old puritanical writers of the last century, rather than from the Bible, mamtained, I am sorry to think, the above doctrine in its fullest extent. He has been heard to say, that should he kill a man to-day, he should certainly go to heaven to-morrow. His salvation, therefore, being, according to his own notion, perfectly secured, religious ordinances, as means of grace, to him were useless. He acted, therefore, but in consistence with his doctrine, when, instead of frequenting a place of public worship on Sundays, he was generally occupied in attending his farm. But on this head we shall only say with South, that "what is nonsense upon a principle of reason, will never be sense upon a principle of religion."

"An additional anecdote, which furnishes a most striking proof of the ill effects of this dangerous doctrine in another way, shall be mentioned; because it has fallen within my own knowledge.

Upon collecting through my parish, some time since, for the relief of the emigrant French priests, 'I found an almost general disinclination among the dissenters from the Church to contribute. At length 'one, more open than the rest, furnished the following reason for it; by telling me, that Christ never died for those priests; and therefore he had no feeling for them, or concern about them." Another, who had learnt his Christianity in the same school, upon my application to him on the same occasion, immediately exclaimed, What, Sir, to a Roman? "give to a Roman! one that lives in such errors if I had ten thousand guineas, I would not bestow a single mite upon him!" a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »