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works, (of which he can have none till he is called; being in the Ltate of an unborn infant) and brought into God's Church, where he is in a state of salvation. But he may fall from this state, or be cast out of it by the authority which brought him into it, and forfeit all the privileges of his election; therefore the Apostle gives us this warning: let him that thinketh he standeth^ take heed lest he fall: and St. Peter bids us give diligence to make our calling and election sure. How can that be, if we are elected to salvation, by an irreversible decree? We need take no pains to make that sure, which in its nature is irreversible. Paul was a vessel chosen of God; and yet this same Paul supposes it possible for him to fall from the grace of God, and become amstaway*. Election, therefore, as it is spoken of in the Scripture, hath been grossly misunderstood: for there is no such thing there F F 4 as,
» Another proof of this argument may be found in i Cor. 8r c. *i. "Through thy knowledge shall the weak biother ftr'uh for luham Christ died?" The true notion of predestination is to be met with in Eph. i, c. xi. xii. where those are said to be predestinated to the praise of God's glory who trustedia Christ. Our attainment of eternal happiness is the consequence of our belief in Christ, and the irreversible decree of God is, that those that believe in him should not perish, and this is probably the only sense in which the doctrine of predestination and election can be maintained from Scripture.
as any election of individuals to final salvation, independent of the ordinances of the Church. Election is an inward and spiritual grace; but there is no such thing administered to man without some outward sign. A man might tell us that he is ordained to preach the gospel: but we know this can never be without the laying on of hatids. He may tell us he is one of God's elect; and if the reality of his election were to depend upon his own report, how should we confute him, although he were guilty of all manner of wickedness? If we believe him on his own authority, we may be tempted to be as wicked as he is: and multitudes have, by this doctrine, corrupted one another, and fallen into what is called Antinomianism; a neglect of God's commandments, as not necessary to those who are elected independent of works and sacraments. To secure us from all such delusions, God hath affixed some outward sign or pledge to all his inward gifts, to assure us of their reality, and prevent imposture. Therefore, where there is an inward calling, there is an outward calling with it; where there is regeneration, there is the sacrament of baptism; and the gospel knows of no regeneration without it. I might shew how this doctrine of absolute election is dishonourable to God, and contrary tq his most express declarations. How it encourages some to presumption, pride, and ungodlyliving*; and how it drives others to despair and distraction f, who have not, nor can bring themselves to an assurance of their own personal election to the favour of God: but my business in this place is only to remark, how convenient this doctrine is to all those who do not come to God in the ordinary way of his institutions, nor can prove themselves to be members of his Church.
* I remember a woman in a country parish, who used to boast much of her own experiences, and insult the people of the church as reprobates; gtats who were to be placed on the left hand, at the day of judgment; while she and her party were the true elect, the sheep who were to be placed on the right hand. Such was the usual strain of herconversa^ tion. But after a time, I heard that this elect lady was gone off with the husband of another woman. She was a severe critic on the Clergyman of the parish, as one who had many Popish actions, because he made a practise of turning to the East when he repeated the Creed; and though he was much attended to as a preacher, she said it all signified no more than the barking of a dog.
+ When Dr. Sparrow was Bishop of Exeter, there rarely passed a day without a note or notes brought to Priest, Vicar, or Reader, for the prayers of the congregation, for persons troubled in mind or posses'td; which, as some judicious persons conjectured, was occasioned by the frequent preaching up of the rigid Predestination doctrines in some places in that city. Preface to the Fitvi of the limes.
A second doctrine, on the ground of which men place themselves above the Church, is that of immediate inspiration. For if men are now receiving new direction from Heaven, and God speaks in them as he did in Moses, and the Prophets, and the Apostles, they have no need to consult either the Scriptures or the Church: for they are independent of both, and have an higher rule. This is the reason why no impression can ever be made upon a Quaker, by arguments from the Scripture. He answers, that the Scriptures (as applied by us who do not understand them) cannot be brought in evidence against him; because (to speak in the Quaker language) he has within himself the same spirit that gave forth the Scriptures; and the Revelation which has past must give place to that which is present. Nothing blinds the eyes of men so effectually as pride; whence he who is vain enough to believe, that he is under the direction of immediate inspiration, must believe many other strange things. Such people therefore never fail to despise the ministry and worship of the Church, and make light of all its institutions. The Apostles of Jesus Christ foreseeing by a true revelation, that there would be false pretentions to inspiration in' the Christian Church,, as there were false
prophets prophets among the people of the Jews, give us warning not to believe every spirit, (that is, not to believe all those who pretend to speak by the spirit) but to try them whether thef speak by the spirit of truth, or the spirit of error. There are many good rules to direct us on this occasion: but there is one which eyerjr body can understand. The spirit of truth is the spirit of love, and peace, and unity: the spirit of error is the spirit of hatred, and con* tention, arid discord. The former tends trj unite men into one body; the latter sets them at variance, and divides them into parties. Beloved, saithSt. John, let us love one another; for every one that loveth is born of God, and ktwweth God. He that loveth not knoiceth not God. When the great rule of Charity is broken, and men lay claim to the spirit of God while they have no title to it, then they are open to the delusions of evil spirits: and accordingly many have uttered hideous blasphemies, under a persuasion that they are speaking by the spirit of God. Some have proceeded so far as to personate God himself*. Certain it is,