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“And would this do, it were indeed a very fine and subtile management of things, for thus we might have both the pleasure of being wicked and the hopes of being saved: we might spare ourselves all the trouble of religion, and yet not miss the reward of it; live all our life long without God in the world, and yet die at last in the Lord." *
The excellent author, from whom this and a former citation is extracted, furnishes a complete, though it may be an indirect refutation of the Methodistical doctrine, with respect to sudden conversions, particularly in the last hour. For if his reasoning be immediately applied to a death-bed repentance, it will apply at least as forcibly to a death-bed, without repentance. And it is very remarkable how exactly his allusion to the Roman Catholic usage tallies in this particular with the practice of the Methodists. "There is, indeed, another church in the world that can teach men to be saved on a death-bed, even without repentance, which hath found out ways to make it not only possible, but very easy for any ungodly wretch to secure himself from hell, at length, when he comes to die, by less than half an hour's work: but, we have not so learned Christ, nor dare we be so false to our trust, or to the souls of men, as to give them certain assurance of everlasting life on any other terms than a constant, habitual obedience to the
* Calamy's Sermon.
laws of the gospel. The only certain way to die well is to live well."*
One more passage from the same preacher, who may be truly called a preacher of righteousness, will not be unacceptable to any reader who "has renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully." "Nothing," he says, "hath done more mischief in the world, hath made Christians more lazy and secure, or given greater occasion to that prevailing religion without virtue amongst us, than this one principle that we are converted (as 'tis usually called) by those operations of God's spirit, wherein we are wholly passive; so that it is in vain to strive, contend, and labour for the making ourselves holy, as we must do for the attaining of any other perfections and accomplishments, since the habits of all goodness are supernaturally infused into us. But this is all but fancy and idle talk, for the spirit of God works not now-a-days but according to the methods of reason and discourse; assisting us, while we sincerely use such moral means, as religion teaches, or reason prescribes; and that with as much diligence, vigour, and constancy, as if we had no assistance at all, but were left wholly to ourselves; so that the way to recover ourselves to a christian temper of mind, after a vicious course of life, is in truth the very same
* Calamy's Sermon:-on a Death-bed Repentance. † 2 Cor. iv. 2.
by which a man recovers his health, after a long disease, viz. by God's blessing upon the diligent use of fit means; and any other way is now no more to be expected, than prophecy or mirácles."*
Were the arguments of this good and learned man, and the evangelical truths which they support, duly considered, the errors of enthusiasm would vanish away, as mists before the sun.
Tenth Sermon on Repentance.
METHODISTICAL DOCTRINES OBTRUDED ON THE SICK AND DYING. THEY SUPERSEDE A FINAL JUDGMENT. A REMARKABLE INSTANCE OF METHODISTICAL INFATUATION.-RELIGIOUS DUTIES ESTEEMED OF NO ACCOUNT.-PRACTICAL EVILS RESULTING FROM SUCH ERRONEOUS OPINIONS. SELF-EXAMINATION REPROBATED. PERCEPTIBLE ILLAPSE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.-ITS ABSOLUTE AND IMMEDIATE EFFECT,
IN CONVERTING SINNERS. REPENTANCE CONFOUNDED WITH REGENERATION.COMPULSORY GRACE. INFUSION OF THIS DOCTRINE INTO THE MINDS OF CHILDREN.-ITS PERNICIOUS INFLUENCE.
IT has been shewn in what manner and to what extent the ideas which the Methodists entertain of regenerating grace, militate against that reformation of life, which is the great end of true religion;-against that exhortation of the prophet, "Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin :"*—against the purport of the gospel which taught both Jews and Gentiles "that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance." They deem it necessary to characterize the lives, and even the exits of their deluded votaries, by marks which are at utter
* Ezekiel xviii. 30. /
variance with the principles of our holy faith. Hence, as we have seen, the sick chamber is disturbed, and the mind of its languishing inhabitant dejected with new terrors, or elated with groundless hopes. Into this sanctuary of pious grief and resignation, do these visionaries intrude, and suggest to the sick and dying their own fanciful ideas of grace and union with Christ. When the regular minister of the church has done his office, and has required the sick person" to examine himself and his estate, both towards God and man; so that accusing and condemning himself for his own faults, he may find mercy at our heavenly Father's hand, for Christ's sake:" and has given him this comfortable assurance:-" Know you certainly, that if you truly repent you of your sins, and bear your sickness patiently, trusting in God's mercy, for his dear son Jesus Christ's sake, and render unto him humble thanks for his fatherly visitation, submitting yourselves wholly unto his will, it shall turn to your profit, and help you forward in the right way that leadeth unto everlasting life."*
When this lesson of self-examination and reproof, of resignation, humility, and repentance, has been inculcated, and on these grounds, hope and confidence revived; the gospel-minister, as he chooses to call himself, not unfrequently gains admittance, and obliterates the impression of this
* Visitation of the Sick.