« AnteriorContinuar »
by company, elated with the love of singularity, moved by anger, and allured by concupiscence.
3. By these, and such like passions and affections, is the human heart continually agitated, as a ship by contrary winds, cannot attain unto the haven of rest. For scarcely is there a day or night, an hour or a minute, but one or other of the above-mentioned temptations is ready to molest our peace, and lead us into sins either of omission or commission. This makes it necessary for us to pray with out ceasing, that the thoughts of our hearts, the words of our lips, and the works of our hands may be forgiven us. And because not one of us can say, I am pure from ini quity, therefore we must immediately have recourse to the remedy of confession and repentance; we must watch the more diligently against evil thoughts, for the time to come. Experience teacheth us, that the heart of man is never at rest, but always occupied either in good or evil; and our hatred of the latter is proportionable to our love of the former, as contraries destroy each other. He only seeketh and findeth peace, who seeketh and findeth Gor, and who maketh the creature a means to conduct him to the Creator.
4. Hearken therefore to my voice, Oye sons of men, and seek now the holy JESUS in his great humility, that hereafter ye may be counted worthy to find him in bis glorious Majesty. Seek after his grace in this present life with strong crying and tears, that ye may behold his face with joy in the life to come. Seek him on earth under the veil of the law and the Prophets, that in heaven ye may see him as he is. But who is he that shall attain to so much honour, and felicity? The man unfeignedly humble, meek and patient; the man that mourneth for his sins, resisteth temptations, and despiseth the world; the man that is indifferent about earthly, but fervent in his desires after heavenly things; gentle to others, severe upon himself; quick to forgive, and slow to provoke: ever watchful over his heart, and a lover of solitude. Blessed is he who ponders these things, or delights himself in holy meditation thereupon. Blessed is he who suffers not pride or concupiscence to enter into his heart, or if they do enter, presently expels them again. Blessed is be who knoweth much, and doeth it all; for then he shall possess peace, and inherit glory, when CARIST shall appear, and the world vanish away.
is neither my intention nor wish to revive the controversy respecting the genuineness of part of this and the following verse, convinced in my own mind as I am, from its being quoted by St. Cyprian, and by Tertulliant, that the disputed words formed originally part of the sacred text, and were left out by the carelessness of the transcriber, deceived by the quota, I am willing that all other persons should retain their respective opi
But I cannot forbear expressing the surprise I lately felt when, reading the excellent Bishop Beveridge's exposition of the xxxix Articles, I found him say, speaking of this text, "Though this place of Scripture be not extant in many ancient manuscripts, nor indeed in many ancient translations, yet in the days of Arius the great oppugner of this Truth, about 330 years after Christ, it was never so much as questioned, and many of the ancient Fathers quote it, which plainly shews, that it was then received as Canonical Scripture, and therefore not to be questioned by us now." Art. I. p. 48. 8vo. 1716.
As this pious prelate was admirably versed in the writings of the primitive Fathers, I could have wished that he had referred to those of their works, during the Arian controversy, where this text was quoted: as I always thought the strongest argument brought by those who insist upon the spuriousness of this text was, that it was never quoted during that period.
Bishop Burnet, who, although in other points he might be inferior to Bishop Beveridge, certainly was not so in ecclesiastical and scholastic history, says expressly, speaking of this passage, "I do not insist on that contested passage of St. John's epistle there are great doubtings made about it: the main ground of doubting being the silence of the Fathers, who never made use of it in the disputes with the Arians and Macedonians." Art. I. p. 49. 8vo. 1796.
Dr. N. Marshall also, who was deeply read in the Fathers, allows, though he is an advocate for the genuineness † Adversus Praxean.
* De Unitate Ecclesiæ.
of this verse, that "the total silence of all the Greek fa"thers, before and a good while after the Nicene council, is doubtless a prejudice against it, some of them had occasion enough to quote it, had they known of it." Sermons, vol. I. Serm. 12, p. 282.
I should feel myself much obliged to any of your learned correspondents whose communications adorn your useful work, and whose higher attainments and abilities "allow them an opportunity of deciding, to inform me whether Bishop Beveridge is correct in his assertion, or whether we may consider him as unintentionally mistak ing.
With the best wishes for the success of your labour of love, I remain,
Your obedient servant,
London July 1, 1805.
ON THE LEADING ERRORS OF METHODISM.
[An esteemed Correspondent has favoured us with the following excellent Letter written by the late Rev. THOMAS COMBER, A. M. to a Clergyman who seems deeply to have imbibed those delusive tenets which certain writers now attempt to impose upon us as the essential doctrines of the Church of England. On account of the seasonableness of the article we have preferred the insertion of it at length in one number, to the weakening of its force by a division.]
HE letter you sent in October last to my worthy neighbour the Rev. Mr. D having been shewn to me, partly I suppose because at its close you pay your respects to me, and partly because I was present at a conference betwixt you and Mr. D about the main subject of it; when I perceived that he declined giving you an answer, I resolved to give one, for these reasons, viz. that you might not on the one hand conclude from the silence of us both we thought your letter unanswerable, and be thereby confirmed in notions which we be lieve to have no foundation in reason or scripture; nor, on the other, that either with carnal or spiritual pride, we de
spise you so much as not to vouchsafe an answer. This latter reason has more weight with me, because you express in your letter an apprehension of disregard, on account of your inferiority in birth, years, and education to the gentleman to whom it is addressed; and to prevent such disregard, refer him to Job, xxxii, v, 7, 8, 9I will readily grant, that "great men are not always wise; neither do the aged always understand judgment; but cannot so readily admit another part of this quota tion in the sense you seem to take it, viz. "There is a spirit in men, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding." Now Sir, since through the main part of your letter, you contend for the "immediate, sensible inspiration of God's Holy Spirit on the soul of every Christian," it is reasonable to suppose that yoù understand and apply this text of Job in this sense. Butit seems highly probable, that Elihu the speaker of it, in reference to the account given of the Creation in the Book of Genesis, only meant that "the spirit or sout of man was breathed into, or sent into his body by God;" and therefore every man ought to be listened unto, when he speaks concerning the things of God, who is the author of his soul." If then, Sir, you apply these words only in this latter and apparently true sense, neither Mr. Dmyself, nor any reasonable man, will deny your use of them. But if you understand them as expressive of immediate sensible inspiration, the consequence must be either that we must pay disregard to this text thus by you applied, or we must pay disregard to every thing but your assertions. The point in dispute between you and us is, "whether or no, all Christians in this age have immediate sensible inspiration of God's Holy Spirit on their souls" This point must be proved either by miracles wrought and prophecies pronounced and fulfilled by you, or by reasonings on the nature of things and the word of God. The former method of proof I dare say you dont pretend to. The latter then being the only one, it seems quite improper in order to prevent disregard to your reasonings on the subject, to begin with a confident assumption of the point in question, This will rather prejudice a reasonable man against your subsequent reasonings than the contrary. For, while contradictory opinions are unexamined, a reasonable presumption lies in favour of that which is maintained by men of more years and better education; and the most prudent of the younger and less instructed disputants, is by
modesty to raise a favourable attention to their opinions, not by a positive claim of inspiration to preclude all future dispute. For my own part, however, I have given,' and will give as much regard to your explanation of scripture on this important point, as I would if the same were alleged by one not only my equal, but superior in birth, years, and education.
I dare not say positively with you, Sir, "the treasures of the Indies could not prevail upon me to resign my principles:" (by which phrase I candidly suppose you to mean "the profession of your principles;") but I will say I hope they could not; I am sure they ought not."
I must, Sir, premise one thing to this amicable conference by letter, viz. that in all disputes betwixt divines about the Word of God, neither party should refer to any articles of any church as equivalent to it. The authority of these is grounded only on the text of God's word. Let that genuine text then be produced, examined and explained.
I shall, therefore, take no notice of your reference to the articles of our church, but confine myself to examine holy scripture by you alleged.
We agree, Sir, in the point whence you fairly set out, viz. "all [men] have sinned and come short of the glory of God," Rom. iii. v. 23. We agree also "that no man gains Salvation by the law either ceremonial or moral;" and that as our acceptance to eternal life must be owing to the mercy of God; it is very properly called God's gift. We agree
also, that "justification is in several parts of the new Testament ascribed to Faith."
You now go on, Sir, to ask questions and give answers in the following strain: "Is Redemption wrought out for' us, without our being workers together with him? Is there nothing on our part? Yes certainly! 'Tis ASSUREDLY CONDITIONAL. Repentance towards God, and Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, are conditions on our part which, unperformed render the merits of Christ of none effect to
"I scorn, Sir, to cavil at the impropriety of your expression here, when your sense is not only very intelligible but unexceptionable.
Since you write, Sir, from the head quarters of Methodism, and must be supposed to know the sentiments of its authors, I am glad to find, there is no more than a verbal difference about faith and works betwixt them and preachers of the established church, whom they have Vol. IX. Churchm. Mag. July 1805. D long