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and methinks, I am not unreasonable in requesting you to pursue it, I doubt not but you will see sufficient reason, if not to unite with us in Christian fellowship, and assist us in our endeavours to reform the nation, and spread genuine, Scriptural Christianity through the land; yet, at least, to entertain a favourable opinion both of our principles and designs, and to wish us good luck in the name of the Lord. This, we certainly think, we are entitled to, conceiving our doctrine to be, in every point, the very doctrine of the New Testament, and of our church, and that whoever objects to it, must also object to that of the Scriptures and of the church of England.
If we are mistaken in these views, we shall be exceedingly obliged to any individual, or number of individuals, that will be at the trouble of showing us our mistake. For if we were convinced that our doctrine is unscriptural in any point, we certainly should alter it. And as to our practice, suffice it to say, that it is a first principle in our discipline, to admit into, and retain, in our societies, only such as attend to, at least, the three leading points contained in our Rules; 1st. To shun all known sin, especially the sins most commonly practised in the neighbourhood where they live; 2dly. To endeavour to do good to men's souls and bodies according to their abilities; and, 3dly. To attend upon all the ordinances of God, or means of grace, both public and private. If you say, "But this is your own account of yourselves. Would you have us to take all you are pleased to affirm for granted?" I answer, No I would not have you take any thing for granted. Only take the steps I have recommended, and you will see with your own eyes, and have all the evidence you can reasonably expect or desire, as to these points.
5. But, perhaps, you will say, Why do you come hither? Why do you intrude into our village? I answer, with the same views, and on the same design wherewith we go to other places, and wherewith our blessed Lord, his apostles, evangelists, and first disciples, went to different towns and villages, and that is, simply and only to spread true and genuine Christianity :-to promote, as far as we are able, the kingdom of God on earth, that kingdom, that vital and genuine religion, which is "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; or love, the end of the commandment, out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned." This, and only this is our object. Lesser matters, such as those which respect points of unessential doctrine, modes of worship, forms of church-government, and other circumstantials of religion,
are, with us, of little importance. But the Christianity described above appears to us of infinite moment, and therefore, we labour to diffuse it far and wide; and we doubt not but we shall be justified in so doing, and even commended by all that understand its nature, and are apprised of what infinite consequence it is to mankind. As to those in whose eyes it appears as a trivial and unimportant matter, and who, therefore, must consider our zeal in its service as enthusiasm, and our labours and sufferings to promote it, as folly and madness, we would recommend them to weigh well the following inquiry of the author of the epistle to the Hebrews: "If the word spoken by angels," the law delivered from Sinai, by their ministry, "was steadfast, and every transgression" of that law, and act of" disobedience" to it, "received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by those that heard him; God also bearing witness with signs, and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his will."
As for us, when we consider how much superior the Son of God, the immediate Author of the gospel, was to Moses, the giver of the law, and with how much greater apparatus of grace and mercy, and more illustrious displays of love and power, the Christian covenant was introduced, than those wherewith the Jewish was attended: When we reflect on the incarnation, life, and death; the dootrine and miracles, the resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus, and the astonishing effusion of his Spirit, in gifts and graces, on the first Christians, with the amazing displays of divine power for the propagation and defence of this religion in early ages, and the signal vengeance that came on the Jews and other nations that rejected or slighted it, we cannot but see that Christianity is infinitely dear to God, and that, speaking after the manner of men, he has its progress infinitely at heart. Whatever others do, therefore, we dare not think lightly of, or neglect it; we dare not prefer other things to it. We consider it as our indispensable and principal duty, and chief interest in life, to attend to it, and that above every thing else in the world, and to take care both that we be Christians ourselves, and that not in name only, but in deed and in truth, and also that we be "workers together with God," in endeavouring to make as many other Christians as possible. May the Lord grant that in this, as well as in every thing else that is excellent and praiseworthy, you may be like-minded with us, that when
THE PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE OF THE SECT, &c.
Christ" shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels," and shall recompense tribulation to such as trouble his people, he may impart to you, with us, and as many as are spoken against and troubled, rest in his eternal presence and kingdom!
PREACHED AT THE OPENING OF THE METHODIST CHAPEL,
We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 1 Cor. i. 23, 24.
1. IT is generally known, that both Jews and Gentiles were involved in a most deplorable state of ignorance and depravity, when the apostles and other messengers of the Lord Jesus, were first sent to publish to them the glad tidings of salvation. And it is acknowledged, that an amazing change took place among them, in consequence of the preaching of these divinely-commissioned servants of the Most High: that in a little time, the knowledge of the true God, and of his will, was diffused through the whole Roman empire, and even far beyond its utmost limits ; so that the minds of thousands and myriads of the lost race of Adam were effectually enlightened, their manners reformed, nay, and their souls renewed after the divine image. Now, when these things are considered, and when it is observed, withal, that human nature is the same in every age, and that it is probable the doctrine which is instrumental in enlightening, reforming, and renewing mankind in one age, must, if clearly and fully declared, and attended with the divine blessing, have a similar influence in every other; it surely must appear to be of the greatest importance to know the nature of that doctrine which was productive of such happy effects
in ancient times. For that, undoubtedly, is the doctrine which ought still to be preached in preference to all others.
2. Again: As it does not appear probable, considering that man is a free agent, endowed with liberty of choice and action, and capable of disobeying the heavenly call, that this doctrine would be received with equal credit and affection by all individuals to whom it was proposed; and as it is true, in fact, that it was not; but was opposed and ridiculed by many, while the abettors and propagators of it were persecuted, imprisoned, and put to death; it must appear to be of some moment to know the character of the persons who thus rejected the counsel of God against themselves, and ill-treated his servants; and on what ground, and under what pretence they pursued such a line of conduct. This, on the one hand, may operate as a caution and preservative to us, that we may not imitate their unbelief and sin, and so share in their punishment; and, on the other, may prevent the preachers and friends of the truth from being surprised, discouraged, or offended, when they find that their doctrine does not meet with the welcome reception they expected, but that, instead of being acknowledged and embraced as the truth of God, it is denied and persecuted as error and delusion.
3. Now, concerning all these things, my text, considered in connexion with the context, gives us sufficient information. Christ sent me not to baptize, says the apostle, verse 17. that is, not chiefly and primarily, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, "those philosophical niceties of expression," says Dr. Doddridge,* 46 or that laboured rhetoric, which many are so ready to esteem," lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect, should be "deprived of its just honours, and so be enervated." For the preaching of the cross, is to them that perish foolishness: "they think it a ridiculous and mean thing to expect salvation from one who seemed unable to save himself, and glory from one that expired in ignominy;" but unto us who are saved, who are delivered "from the contagion of so wicked an age, and are in the way to everlasting salvation," it is the power of God, is accompanied with a most illustrious display of his power, for "the noblest purposes our minds can conceive." For, (verse 21.) after that, in the wisdom, of God, discernible in his works of creation and providence, the world by wisdom knew not God, so as to glorify him as God, but "ran into the wildest, and most absurd sentiments that can be
* See his Family Expositor.