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had from eternity a perfect plan, concerning the whole work of creation and providence, including every cre. ture which should be made, and every event which should come to pass; and that this is that counsel of his will, according to which he worketh all things, and especially the calling and sanctification of that church, which was chosen in Christ before the foundation of world;-if we not only believe this to be true, but a glorious truth, which is interwoven with the whole system of christian doctrine; can we, consistently with this belief, think him to be a safe guide to souls, who says; If a man had set himself to work on purpose to blacken the character of God, by the most vile misrepresentations, he could not have done it more effectually than it has been done in sermons, which were written in favor of Divine Decrees, and of Personal Election?' If we believe, as we certainly do, the total depravity of every unrenewed heart,—and that every such heart is that carnal mind, which the scripture declares is enmity against God; it must appear to us no small error, to teach, that unrenewed men have much good in their hearts, and that they increase in goodness before they are born of the Spirit. If we believe, as we certainly do, that the best saints on earth are sinfully imperfect, and that an increase of grace makes this indwelling sin more apparent to those, who know their own hearts, as well as more loathsome; we cannot think it harmless to teach, that some have arrived to such a state of perfection, that there is no sin which dwelleth in them. If we believe, as we most assuredly do, that the covenant of grace is an everlasting covenant, confirmed in Christ with every believer, and ordered in all things and sure, so that, according to our views, it would be just as inconsistent, for the believer to be lost, as for Christ to fail, and lose his acceptableness before the mercy seat; it is not strange that we consider that a heresy, in which the immutability of this covenant is not only denied, but branded as a corrupt and pernicious doctrine.
Let us for a moment suppose, that when Jesus Christ said, All the Father giveth me shall come to me, he actually meant what Calvinists believe he meant, namely, that some of the fallen race, even a precise
number, were given to him, as the reward of his sufferings, and that all this number will through grace come to him, and be saved: And in connexion with this, let us suppose, that one of the professed teachers of his religion, should say, This is "one of the most shocking ideas which can enter into the heart of man ;" -would Christ own such a man, as one of his ministers? Suppose it to be actually true, that the scriptures do teach, that God forms the characters of his creatures, as much as the potter forms his vessels :-Let us suppose that this is the very thing which the apostle, with so much solemnity, designs to teach us in the ninth chapter of Romans;-and what must we think of that christian teacher, who continually asserts, that if this be true, man is no more of a moral agent than the pen with which he writes, or the ships driven by fierce winds? Let us suppose, that when the apostle said, They that are in the flesh cannot please God, he meant to teach, that all sinners up to the moment of regeneration had not a spark of moral goodness in them, or any thing which could please a holy God; and must not the apostle have been grieved, if he had heard christian ministers say, that sinners gradually become good before they are regenerated that before they are regenerated they repent of their sins, even with that repentance which needeth not to be repented of? Let us suppose that when the good Shepherd said, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any fluck them out of my hand; that he actually meant to teach the impossibility of their losing their union to him; and what would he say to that minister of his, who taught that this union could be dissolved, and that it was much safer to preach that it could, than that it could not be dissolved? Let us suppose, that the Bible does in reality teach us, that if any man thinks he is pure from all sin, it proves him perverse,--what must we think of those who say that they are thus pure? Now, whether these doctrines, which the Arminians with so much zeal contend against, are contained in the Bible or not, this is certain, that we as much believe they are contained there, as we believe that we have a Bible; of
course, the Arminian must appear to us erroneous ; and as he opposes what we deem to be fundamental doctrines, his errors must appear to us, not like errors about meats and drinks, modes and forms, but fundamental errors; such errors as strike at the root of religion, and such therefore as must be very dangerous in their tendency.*
Mr. B. in behalf of the Methodists, disclaims their making dependence on dreams, smells, visionary appearances, applications of particular texts of scripture, &c. as evidence of conversion. If they do not make dependence on these things, we rejoice in it. In the course of my parochial and missionary labors, I have found a considerable number of those conversions, which may be termed of the visionary class. Having once, in my youth, made dependence on such things myself; and being most effectually convinced of their fallacy, and ruinous effect, I have felt it to be a duty incumbent on me, to warn my fellow sinners against these deceitful works of the devil To do this, was the particular object in view, in selecting the text of the 8th sermon; which I first preached among my
* The doctrines which are now called Arminian, and which are advocated by the Methodists, appear to be substantially the same, with those which were advanced by Pelagius, in the beginning of the 5th century. He appeared to deny the origi, nal depravity of infants, and the total depravity of the unrege nerate. He held to the independence and self determining power of the will, and of course, denied the necessity of divine grace, directly to incline the will to that which is good; and, of course, excluded predestination, except what is found. ed on the foreknowledge of men's faith and chedience. He also held to a sinless perfection in this life. [See Milner's Church Hist. Vol. 2.] These sentiments were then consider. ed by Augustine, and by the Church in general, not only as errors, but as very fuudamental errors, such as greatly tended to destroy the grace of God in our salvation. The sentiments now termed Calvinism, and Arminianish, have been all along the two leading systems of doctrine, which have stood opposed to each other. If one is true, the other is false; and the one which is false, must needs be a great falsehood in doctrine, because it takes the lead in opposing the truth; and other er rors seem to come in only as auxiliaries of this leading error. Which it is that we deem to be the true system, is known But let every one search the scriptures for himself.
own people, without any expectation of its ever being published. To warn them against such delusions, was thought to be both needful and safe. I did not think such mistaken notions of conversion were, by any means, confined to our own communion; or that they were more common among us than among others. If I may be the means of undeceiving the deceived, which are found in other communions, I hope it will not be considered as acting an unfriendly part towards them. I have not now time to repeat the things which are contained in the sermon, on the subject of false conversions; but I would request the reader most carefully and prayerfully to attend to the things which are there suggested, if he can get access to the sermon. If he should consider the doctrinal sermons in that volume, as dangerous; he will not perhaps consider it as dangerous, to hear what can be suggested concerning the variety of ways in which we may be deceived with a vain hope. A vain hope-how dreadful the thought!
It is objected by Mr. B. that I have represented Satan as transforming himself into an angel of love, and that I have said, he can counterfeit love as well as other graces. He then adds, as a refutation of this sentiment, "Does not St. John say, God is love; and they that dwell in love dwell in God, and God in them? Is not love therefore one of the brightest traits of the divine image? And if Satan can counterfeit love, I see no reason why he may not counterfeit holiness also." p. 266. I answer, he can counterfeit holiness, for holiness is love: It seems strange, that Mr. B. should have read this sermon, and not have learnt what was nieant by Satan's transformation; and by Satan's counterfeiting good things. By his transformation into a benevolent creature, or angel of love, the apostle did not surely mean, that the devil had become a good being; that he was actually changed back into an angel of light. But if he meant any thing, he must have meant, that he did assume this good character for this end, that he might the more successfully deceive and destroy the souls of men. And when we said, that Satan could counterfeit love, did we say that he could produce love, the same love, which is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy
Ghost? What is meant by counterfeiting a thing? Does it mean making the very thing, which is valuable? or does it not rather mean, that we make something which has no real value, in imitation of that which has value, with a view to deceive the incautious? When silver and gold are counterfeited, base metals are taken, which resemble silver and gold, and they are glossed over and stamped as though they were true coin. When Bank notes are counterfeited, some dishonest knave puts to the note, resembling the true bills, the names of the officers, and then seeks to put it off, as if it were, in reality, a note issued by the Bank. If I should say, There is no bill but what knaves can counterfeit, it would not be saying that there was not a difference, and to good judges a perceivable difference, between the counterfeit and the true bills, even in every instance. But our saying, that every bill can be counterfeited, if it should be believed, would make people examine all the money which they take. Now let us suppose; that it should be given out, and be universally believed, that there was a particular bill, (we will say a twenty dollar note,) which nobody could imitate or counterfeit, would it not have a tendency to make us take all notes of this sort, without the least examination concerning their genuineness? Let this be applied to the case before us. If this should be a generally received sentiment in Chrisendom, that Satan cannot counterfeit love, then whenever we feel any love in our hearts, we shall, without examining into its nature, immediately conclude that we are born of God. And this sentiment will give our adversary great advantage; for it is evident, that all the affectionate and loving feelings of our hearts, are no more holy love, than all our sorrow, is godly sorrow; or than all our gladness, is holy joy and thankfulness: If men will still believe, that Satan cannot counterfeit love, they will give a most amazing advantage to him who walketh about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour; and who to effect this, transforms himself into an angel of light,
On the subject of the wiles of the devil, in deceiving us with religious experiences, which are radically defective, and which, of consequence, are not supported by the word of God, I would intreat my reader to con