페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

instrumend, my. Os If

and he cannot expect any kind of applause, and he thanks God he does not desire it, from the present set of great and learned men. If you are doing right, you will certainly be censured ; and if you resolve to do right, you must learn to neglect censure; I have been prevailed on to neglect it by the earnest and daily repeated importunity of the hearers of these lectures, by whom I was determined to make them public. They are here laid before the world, as they were preached, without any. alteration; and if it please God to make them the instruments of doing some service to the souls of mankind, my loss of reputation as an author will be fully repaid. If but one single person should find reason to bless God for these lectures, I shall not lose my end ; although I hope they will be useful to many. And I pray the almighty God and Saviour of the world to send them out in his grace and strength, and to accompany them abundantly with his divine power, and then his glory will be the more displayed, if any mighty effects should be produced by such weak instruments.

Every minister of the gospel, who has any zeal for his master's honour, or love for the souls of men, ought to exert himself in these days of reproach and blasphemy: for we are sunk into the very dregs of the latter times, in which it was foretold that iniquity should abound. And does it not now abound? has not his majesty (king GEORGE the II.) complained more than once from the throne of its abounding ? has not the convocation at last (in the year 1755) seen it, and publicly confessed the abounding of iniquity?

and is it not obvious to every unprejudiced spectator, that our people, high and low, are totally corrupt, not only in morals, but also in principles ? for it is too evident a truth to be denied, that we are departed from the doctrines of the reformation, and yet we keep up our subscriptions to the articles and homilies then established, which are entirely founded upon the certainty of the fall of mankind in Adam, and of their recovery in Jesus Christ. We were wholly ruined by the one, and we are wholly saved by the other. The sin of the one was imputed to us, as the righteousness of the other is imputed to us. All the scripture is built upon these two truths, as well as the church of England. But no sooner does a clergyman venture to speak out upon these points, than he is immediately branded with the name of enthusiast, although he has declared, in the most solemn manner before God, his assent and consent to every thing contained in the articles and homilies upon the fall and redemption of mankind, and although the very persons, who abuse him, have done the same. Urge the plainest passages of scripture, appeal to your subscription, call upon reason, and summon matter of fact to bear testimony to the soberness of your faith, yet you cannot avoid an hard name. If you think of avoiding it, because you do not deserve it, you will find yourself mistaken. I made the same mistake, and fancied myself quite safe, while I had the scripture, and the church, on my side; until I found that a strong suspicion had gone out among some ministerial clergy, as if I was leaning a little matter, and in

clining as it were something towards enthusiasın, And they suspected this, because I did not lean and incline towards them or their doctrines and practices; which most certainly I did not. Instead of defending the Jew-bill, and the marriage-bill, I rather insisted upon the total corruption of mankind by the fall, and the freeness and fulness of redemption through Jesus Christ, and the necessity of the grace of the Holy Spirit, to change and renew our corrupt hearts, in order to dispose them to receive the benefits of Christ's redemption, and to enable them to live a holy and a Christian life. These doctrines are now dressed up by our great men in a bear-skin, and baited under the odious nick-name of Enthusiasm, and our people begin to join the cry, and to fancy, that a man must be a little tinctured with enthusiasm, before he will make himself so ridiculous, as to defend these exploded doctrines. But if others fear a nick-name from this quarter, I do not. The ministerial clergy are welcome to call me what they please. I honour their reproach: for I find myself in the best of company by leaving theirs. The whole church of God, in the Old Testament and the New, believed and acted upon the truth of the doctrines beforementioned. All the primitive fathers embraced them. The martyrs died, and sealed the belief of them with their blood. The protestant church has with one voice maintained them. And the church of England has made the acknowledgInent of them absolutely necessary for every one of her ministers, and therefore if it be enthusiasm to acknowledge what she has made necessary,

acquefore it may be doctrines stand, of enthusiasm.

then the church of England is turned enthusiast; and her best sons are the strongest enthusiasts. And what then are we to think of those court divines, who expose their brethren, and ridicule them under the disgraceful name of Enthusiasts, for no other reason, but because we make a conscience of our oaths and subscriptions, and dare not risk our eternal salvation for any present honour or preferment.

The generality of readers may not perhaps be acquainted with the true state of the case, and therefore it may be useful to them to shew upon what footing these doctrines stand, which are now exploded under the odious name of enthusiasm. I will carry my enquiry no higher up than the reformation of the church of England, and will endeavour to convince the reader, that if we are enthusiasts for abiding by the doctrines of the reformation, then these persons must be something much worse, who have subscribed to those doctrines, and yet have departed from them.

The fall of mankind in Adam, their corruption, their forfeiture through and in him are now openly denied. But hear what our church says upon these points. In the office for public baptism, we have these words, “ Forasmuch as all “ men are conceived and born in sin, and that “ our Saviour Christ saith, none can enter into “ the kingdom of God, except he be regenerate “ and born anew of water and of the Holy “ Ghost.” Mind, we are conceived in sin, and then born in sin, and it is necessary to be born anew of the Holy Spirit. The ninth article ex. plains the matter thus:

“ Original sin standeth not in the following of “ Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk) but it " is the fault and corruption of the nature of “ every man, that naturally is engendered of the “ offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far “ gone from original righteousness, and is of his 66 own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh “ lusteth always contrary to spirit.”

The homilies are full of the same doctrine. The second part of the sermon on the misery of man has these words: “ Thus we have heard, “ how evil we be of ourselves, who of ourselves, “ and by ourselves, we have no goodness, help, or “ salvation, but contrariwise, sin, damnation, and “ death everlasting: which, if we deeply weigh “ and consider, we shall the better understand “ the great mercy of God, and how our salvation “ cometh only by Christ: for in ourselves (as of “ ourselves) we find nothing whereby we may be “ delivered from this miserable captivity into the " which we are cast through the envy of the “ devil, by breaking of God's commandment in “ our first parent Adam. We are all become “ unclean, but we all are not able to cleanse our“ selves, nor make one another of us clean. We “ are, by nature the children of God's wrath, but “ we are not able to make ourselves the children “ and inheritors of God's glory. We are sheep 6 that run astray, but we cannot of our own “ power come again to the sheepfold, so great is “our imperfection and weakness.”

These words want no comment; they describe our natural corruption by the fall in such clear and express terms, that all the art of sophistry

« 이전계속 »