clergy, who felt enraged at the and convinced them that it was insinuations, which were thrown in vain to expect redress from out against them in the letter of Rome. It also contributed to the instructions from the Pope, read vigorous protest which they enby the nuncio next day. While tered against determining on the he called on the assembly to put merits of the Lutheran controthe edict of Worms in execution versy, till the meeting of a genagainst Luther, he accused the eral council. The diet was disprelates and the priests of occa- solved on the 6th of March, sioning the heresies of that re- 1523.* The event of this asformer, by their negligence, vo- sembly was thus most favourable luptuousness and profligacy. to the cause of the reformation. Though, therefore, the Elector Preachers were perınitted to deof Brandenburg and the greater clare the truth, without molestanumber of prelates wished to as- tion, and magistrates to protect sure the Pope that they would exe- them without criminality. Priests cute the edict of Worms, the other and monks, though married, conprinces and the rest of the clergytinued in their offices; and the opposed it as dangerous not only people who had seen the scandato Rome, but to the interests of lous effects of their celibacy, the Empire. They accordingly were edified by witnessing the informed the nuncio that the regularity and purity of their constate of Germany"would not allow duct. The suspension of the of the step which the Pope re- edict of Worms, made its injuscommended to be taken ; praised tice be discerned ; and the refer the Pontiff for the interest which ence of the controversy to the dehe took in their welfare, and be- cision of a council, showed that sought him to continue his plans the diet were not convinced that for the reformation of Aagrant Luther was altogether in the abuses. Though the nuncio was wrong, and that his greatest herbighly displeased at the tenor of esy, was his attack on the authortheir reply, the princes persisted ity of the Pope. In fine, the acin the sentiments which they had knowledgment which Adrian avowed; and to justify their con- made of the dreadful corraptions duct drew up a memorial of of the clergy and court of Rome, grievances, amounting to a hun- justified much of Luther's invece dred articles of specific charges tives against them, and gained against the corruptions of the him many new adherents, who church, which they earnestly could not but admire his courage entreated might be speedily re- and his zeal.t dressed. The nuncio, unwilling to receive such an insult as to be * Beausobre, tom. ii. p. 273.-320. charged with this memorial, left Seckend. 5S 140--147. the diet suddenly without taking † Beausob. ib. p. 322. leave of the princes. This step gave them the highest offence,

(7'o be continued.)


Religious Communications.



DIFFICULTIES ATTENDING THE Christianity indicates. But is not

THE SAINTS' this explanation inconsistent with PERSEVERANCE.

what follows ? « Abide in me,To the Editors. saith our Saviour, verse 4,“ and I Gentlemen,

will abide in you. As the branch PRESUMING that it is not less cannot bear fruit of itself, except congenial with your inclinations, it abide in the vine, no more can than consistent with the design ye, except ye abide in me.” Is not of your publication, to offer every the whole complexion of this assistance in your power to those, passage such as would naturally who meet with obstacles in their lead one to suppose, that the unsearch after truth, I take the lib- ion, here intended, was that spirerty to lay before you a number itual, vital union, of which true of difficulties, with respect to the faith, and holiness form the only doctrine of the saints' persever- cement? Let us suppose that a ance, resulting from what I sup- mere visible relation is intended, pose to be the meaning of certain and see what sort of notions the passages of Scripture. I shall words will convey. Ye are pure enter no farther into the argu- through the word, which I have ments, which may be drawn spoken unto you. Continue in from the several texts, tħan is your visible union with me, and I necessary in order to present a

will continue to dwell in you. full view of the difficulty, as it Would this promise have been appears to my own apprehension. made to such a perseverance ?

John xv. 2, our Saviour says, As the branch cannot bear fruit of Every branch in me, that bear. itself, except it abide in the vine, eth not fruit, he," that is, my Fa. RG more can ye, except ye contin. ther, “ taketh away.This text ue in your external relation to me. certainly seems, to my under. Does not such an interpretation standing, to convey this idea ; enervate the figure, and diminish that branches engrafted into the exceedingly the propriety of its Irue vine, may become unfruitful; application? The relation beand thus render it necessary for tween the vine and the branches the Lord of the vineyard to is beautifully illustrative of the prune them off, and use them relation between Christ and befor fuel. If this explication believers ; but not at all of that just, it only remains, in order to which subsists between Christ ascertain the sense of the pas- and those members of his visible sage, to determine the meaning church, who derive no spiritual of the phrase, in me, and discov- nourishment from him, and suser what sort of union it is design- tain no vital relation to him. Beed to express. It may be said, sides, it is expressly said, in the that it means nothing more than next verse, that he, that ABIDETH â visible relation, such as the in Christ, bringeth forth much.

external profession of fruit ; which cannot be true, if a

mere external union is intended. per, his salvation is secure, On the whole, I am compelled to though it were the first exercise believe, that being in Christ, of the kind he ever put forth. means a vital union with him. But the question is, whether, a The remaining question, there- person possessed of such a tem. fore, and that which involves the per, may not, in fact, be divested difficulty, is, whether the text of it? and whether the language imply, that it is possible for such of St. Paul, in the place referred to fall away ?

to, do not countenance such an 2. St. Paul, 1 Cor. ix. 27, as opinion? signs, as the reason of his care 3. That text, Heb. x. 38, Now and solicitude în subduing the the just shall live by faith ; but if vicious propensities of his body, any man draw back, my soul shall that having preached to others, he have no pleasure in him. This I might not himself prove a cast-de am altogether unable to under. way. But if the doctrine, we are stand in consistency with this considering, be true, does he not doctrine. assign that as a reason, which 4. Matt. xxiv. 12 and 13. Bes could not be the true reason? cause iniquity shall abound, the love We are not at liberty, I appre- of many shall war cold: but he hend, to suppose, that St. Paul that endureth to the end, the same was uncertain whether he were shall be saved. How could their the subject of gospel grace. But love be said to war cold, who if he were certain of this, then, if never had any ? as most certainly the doctrine of perseverance be none but renewed souls ever had. true, he was certain that he Besides, no distinction is intimat, should not prove a cast-away. ed, as to its nature, between the How then could he assign the love of the one class, and that of fear of what, he certainly knew, the other ; but only in regard to would never take place, as the its continuance. Does it not seem, motive of his constant care and therefore, that reference is here vigilance in the government of made to those, who were indeed his appetites and passions ? Be- the sincere disciples of Christ? sides, it is intimated by the apos. If so, what is meant by the love tle, that his final salvation was of such being said to war cold? suspended on the condition of his Is it not something, the effect of subduing his sinful inclinations, which will be their loss of salva. . or bringing his body into, sub- tion ? For, in its effects, it is di, jection. Does not this weaken rectly opposed to that enduring, the conclusion of those who are to which salvation is promised. gue the final perseverance of 5. Some passages occur, in saints from the nature of holi- Ezek. xviii. and xxiii, in which I ness; a single exercise of which, meet with very formidable difthcy say, gives an infallible tille ficulties.

These are so apparto everlasting salvation ? But if ent to all, who peruse the confinal salvation is suspended on texts, that it is needless to point the condition mentioned above, them out. this reasoning is inconclusive. 6. Hleb. vi. 4-6. For it is inia It is not doubted that if a person possible for those who were once die in the exercise of a holy tem- enlightened, and have tasted of the




heavenly gift, and were made par- the existence of a holy principle lakers of the Holy Ghost, and have in his heart ? tasted the good word of God, Thus I have endeavoured, and the powers of the world 10 as clearly and concisely as come ; if they shall fall away, to possible, to state the difficulties, renew them again to repentance ; of greatest weight, in my mind, seeing they crucify to themselves respecting the doctrine of final the Son of God afresh, and fut perseverance. To discover the him to an open shame. Respect- truth is, I hope, my only object. ing this passage, I would pro- Should you deem' it consistent pose these questions : Do the with the purposes of your unterms here used, necessarily im- dertaking, I request you to give ply, that those, to whom they these queries a place in the were applied, were regenerate Panoplist; in order that some persons? If so, do they contem- writer may have an opportunity plate the event spoken of, (the to attend to the difficulties propodefection of such) as possible ; or sed ; and to gratify me and the only affirm what would be their sit- public with such remarks as may uation, should such an event take appear to him pertinent and proplace ? If the latter, where is the per.

J. C. force and propriety of the apostle's admonition? This must be the amount of his observations ; “I STATEMENT OF DIFFICULTIES. exhort you to diligence and assi- It cannot be urged as any obduity in studying the principles jection against the doctrine of of our holy religion, and to pro- the saints' perseverance, that gress in the knowledge of its hypocritical pretenders to relisublime, and glorious truths; gion have openly forsaken the and I sanction my exhortation cause of truth. Nor can it be with this alarming consideration, considered any proof of their real viz. That if you fail to do this, saintship, that, while they mainand thus for want of being rooted tained the appearance of religion, and grounded in the truth, suffer God in his word and providence yourselves to be shaken from treated them, as saints. Both your stedfastness,, and moved in his word and providence God from your faith in the gospel, it conducts towards men according will be impossible to recover you; to their visible character. He though at the same time, you does not expose them, except by very well know, that it is abso- giving them opportunity to exluiely certain this never will hap- pose themselves. Thus Judas, pen.

Simon Magus, and others have 7. With regard to the example been treated. The apostasy of of David I request an answer to such persons means no more, the two following questions : than a visible apostasy, or a fallWas David in a state of favour ing away from their standing in and acceptance with God previ- the visible church; which, in ously to his sin, in the matter of fact, implies no real alteration in Uriah? If so, were his flagrant, them, but only a manifestation and abominable crimes, of adulo of their true character. Such is iery and murder, compatible with the sentiment contained in the

[ocr errors]


apostle's words ; 1 John ii. 19. cy of God, which secure the final They went out from us, but they perseve

verance of all his chosen peowere not of us ; for if they had ple, are not in the least degree been of us, they would no doubt inconsistent with their moral agen, have continued with us ; but they cy. Innumerable examples went out, that they might be made might be produced, in which manifest that they were not all of God's purpose, promise, and

But while there are some, agency conspired 10 render an that is, false professors, who event certain ; and yet those, actually draw back to perdition ; who were concerned in its ac, there are others, that is, real complishment, were as free and saints, who do not. Thus the voluntary, as they could have apostle, speaking of real believ- been upon any supposition what. ers, says; we are not of them,

I might mention the who draw back to perdition, but death of Jesus, which was deof them who believe to the saving terinined before the foundation of the soul. Here the distince of the world, and was rendered tion is evidently marked between certain to the church by the those who are saints in reality, promise of God. Notwithstand, and those who are saints merely ing this, Jesus was perfectly un in appearance. Now whatever constrained in laying down his passages of scripture are design- life, and the murderous Jews ed to characterize false profes. were no less free and voluntary sors, have nothing to do with the in taking it from him. The subject before us.

same might be asserted of the It is granted, that most of the return of the Jews from the passages, which J. C. urges Babylonian captivity, of the con, against the doctrine of persever. version of the Gentiles, and of a ance, and other similar passages,

thousand other events. are descriptive of real Christians. Now if the purpose, the prom. The construction, which has of- ise, and the agency of God, ren, ten been put upon Heb. vi. 4,5, ap- dering the salvation of all believ. pears not well supported. There ers certain, leave them in the is scarcely in the Bible a higher unimpaired possession of their description of the regenerate.

moral freedom ; it is evidently In compliance with the re- suitable to address them, as free, quest of J. C. it is my design to

moral agents.

But in what offer what assistance I am able, manner is it suitable to address to the candid and inquisitive, in moral agents, who are probation, discerning the consistence be- ers for eternity, in order to per: tween the passages, which he suade them to virtuous conduct? quotes, and the gospel doctrine Infinite wisdom teaches, that it of the saints' perseverance. It is suitable to address them with must be remembered, that long motives ; to set life and death and minute investigation is not before them; to hold up the compatible with the brevity mercies and the terrors of the which is necessary in this reply. Lord. Thus has God dealt with

I desire it may be considered, mankind in all ages ; and what in the first place, that the gra- he has done is confessedly just, ciowe purpose, promise, and agere because mankind are intelligent

« VorigeDoorgaan »