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concur in producing this discordancy of sentiment. The Bible is a revelation from God to sinners and it seems an apparent intention of the Holy Spirit, so to arrange and constitute this revelation, as to make trial of men's hearts; and to distinguish between the humble teachable inquirer after the way of salvation, and those who read the scriptures with captious self-sufficiency in order to start objections; with attachment to a party, for weapons of angry controversy; or with a worldly and sensual mind, to find excuse for their sins. "The way-faring men, though fools, shall not err therein." "But the Lord "taketh the wise in their own craftiness:" "They "received not the love of the truth, that they
might be saved: and for this cause God shall "send them strong delusion, that they should "believe a lie; that they might all be damned, "who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in
unrighteousness."*"Unto you," saith our Lord to his inquiring disciples, "it is given to know "the mystery of the kingdom of God: but, unto "them that are without, all these things are done "in parables; that seeing they may see and not "perceive, and hearing they may hear and not
understand, lest at any time they should be "converted, and their sins should be forgiven "them." My brethren, let us pray for a humble teachable spirit, which will avail us far more in undesrtanding the scriptures to the good of our own souls, than all the acuteness and learning in
2 Thess. ii. 10-12. + Is. vi. 9,
10. Matt. xiii. 11-15. Mark, iv. 11, 12. Luke, viii. 9, 10. John, vii. 39, 41. Acts, xxviii. 25—27.
the world. In proportion as we possess this temper, and really love truth and holiness, we shall escape these dangers, and more and more perceive the consistency of the word of God.
But, as this disposition is imperfect, and counteracted by remaining prejudice and corruption, in the best of men; so none of us perceive all that consistency which really subsists in divine revelation. A satisfactory discovery, however, of the harmony of scripture is doubtless a good test of the degree in which we really understand divine things; and, ever since the Bible became my peculiar study, this discovery has been my invariable object. No arguments could procure my assent even to the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone; until I was satisfied of its perfect agreement with the hononr of the divine law, and the indispensable necessity of personal holiness, and fruitfulness in good works; which I was sure were every where insisted on in the sacred volume. In like manner, my objections to the doctrines of personal election and final perseverance were insuperable, till I was fully satisfied of their consistency with exhortations, warnings, invitations, and persuasions, on the minister's part; and with diligence, watchfulness, and strenuous exertions, on that of the people; which are far more spoken of in scripture than these doctrines are. At that time I was almost entirely ignorant of the sentiments of modern Calvinists : and I am not sensible that any material alteration has since taken place in my views of these doctrines, by all I have seen, or heard, or read.
What those views arc, I feel myself called upon
more fully to declare from the pulpit and the press: that is, I consider it my duty at present, to lay before you and the public the substance of the doctrine I have preached, and probably shall preach as long as the providence of God continues me among you. I say probably: for I trust I am open to conviction and desirous of instruction; and possibly some persons may point out erroneous and unscriptural tenets in this statement of my sentiments: and whether he do it publicly or privately, as a friend or as an enemy, provided he convinces my judgment that I have been mistaken, he shall certainly have my thanks and acknowledgments for so doing.
I have in this view chosen a very copious text: but I neither intend to enter particularly into the minutiæ of explanation, nor to confine myself closely to it; but, according to a very simple plan and method, to advert to a variety of other scriptures as we proceed with the subject. I shall, therefore, take occasion from the text to observe,
I. That Christ came down from heaven to execute the Father's commission:
II. That this commission has a special reference to those "whom the Father hath given him :' III. That all these, and none else, will "come to "Christ:".
IV. That he will most certainly "receive all "that do come to him:"
V. That his commission extends to the infallible and everlasting salvation of the body and soul of every one, who is thus " given to him" and "comes to him;" or who "sees him, believes in
him," and depends on him for salvation :
VI. That all these observations are perfectly consistent with many things, which some professed Calvinists object to as Arminianism. This will naturally lead me to close with a brief application. And may God the Spirit open all our understandings and hearts to understand and receive his truth; and bless this design to the edification and establishment of many souls, and the promoting of true godliness within us, among us, and around us!
I. Christ came down from heaven to execute the Father's commission. "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will "of him that sent me.”—It might have been supposed that this expression, "I came down from "heaven," would create considerable difficulty to such as look upon Christ as a mere man, who never was in heaven before his ascension: but criticism, in the hands of an ingenious man, is a magic wand, and nothing can stand before it! It is, however, greatly to be wished, that these modes of interpretation had been conceded, as a kind of monopoly, to the Socinians, and had never disgraced the writings of those who call Jesus their "Lord and God," and who profess to trust in him alone for salvation. Oh! when will men shew due reverence to the oracles of God, and suppose that the Holy Spirit dictates proper language, which needs not be tortured from its plain meaning, in the cause of truth, whatever the interest of a party may require?
But let this hint suffice: we are, I trust, otherwise minded as to the divinity of Christ. We profess at least to believe, that, "being in the
"form of God, he thought it not robbery to be
equal with God: nevertheless he made himself "of no reputation, and took upon him the form "of a servant, and was made in the likeness of "man." Originally he was no servant, and therefore no creature; for all holy creatures must be the servants of God: but he condescended to assume that character along with human nature. In this character he acted on earth, and does and will act in heaven till the day of judgment, by commission, and according to instructions. "He came not to do his own will, but the will "of him that sent him;" in which he not only is our Saviour, but "hath left us an example that "we should follow his steps."
We must not, however, suppose that there is any opposition between the will of the Father, and that of the Son. He appeared on earth as man; and by such language he intimated that he acted not by human partiality, but according to the counsel of God. It is likewise an accommodation to our infirmities, and serves to obviate our misapprehensions.
But what is the general purport of this commission? Let us hear the word of God: "This "is a faithful saying, and worthy of all accepta"tion, that Christ Jesus came into the world to "save sinners." "God so loved the world, that " he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever "believeth in him, should not perish, but have "everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into "the world to condemn the world, but that the "world through him might be saved." "His blood "is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours