of Christ, and on faith in him; and whole chap-
ters upon a holy life and conversation: and if we
do not in the same manner proportion, guard, and
connect them, hypocrites will abuse them, infidels
will despise them, and the weak will be stumbled.
Indeed they are not at all proper subjects to insist
on, when we preach to sinners, to prejudiced
hearers, or newly-awakened persons; and are sel-
dom if ever found in Scripture explicitly thus ad-
dressed: yet a great part of our more publick mi-
nistry is exercised among such persons. Let it
not then be thought carnal policy to adapt our
discourses to the occasions and wants of the hear-
ers, while nothing inconsistent with truth is spo-
ken, nothing profitable kept back. Our Lord
himself says,
"I have yet many things to say
"unto you, but ye cannot bear them now:" and
Paul writes to some, who were prone to be
"wise in their own conceits." "I could not

speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto "carnal.-I have fed you with milk, and not with meat, for hitherto ye were not able to bear it; "neither yet are ye now able:" and he gives a reason for this conduct, which proves that many in most congregations are not able; namely the prevalence of strife and contention among them.'


[ocr errors]

2. God's secret purposes are consistent with his revealed declarations: let then no sinner vainly 11 Cor. iii. 1-4. 2 Peter iii. 16.

[ocr errors]

endeavour to excuse his sins, or quiet his conscience by an abuse of these doctrines. Though the. salvation of the righteous is wholly of the Lord, the damnation of the wicked is wholly of themselves: and if the lustre of these truths dazzles the eyes of some poor distressed souls, some weak believers or enquirers; let them turn their attention to another part of divine truth. Still, still this is true, "Every one that asketh receiveth, and "he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knock"eth it shall be opened.""

3. How careful should we be to ascertain the reality of our conversion, before we take the comfort of perseverance! An error in this matter proves fatal to thousands, who, mistaking some transient emotions and affections for a saving change, buoy up their hopes to the end by abusing these truths, and perish with " a lie in their right "hand." And let it be especially observed, that the scriptural way of making our calling and election sure, is, by giving all diligence, not only in the means of grace, but in following after holiness, and abounding in every good work,"

4. The native tendency of these doctrines, (as

'We must receive God's promises in such wise as they be ge'nerally set forth in holy Scripture: and in our doings the will

' of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto 'us in the word of God.'

(17th Article.) 2 Peter, i. 3—11.


completely excluding boasting, leading us to ascribe all the glory of contriving, preparing, revealing, and applying salvation wholly to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and thus producing deeper humiliation, and inspiring more lively gratitude, than any other scheme,) forms their chief excellency. Did we entirely and constantly live under their influence, we could never despise others, admire and prefer ourselves, or be angry with such as differed from us. We should "in meekness "instruct those who oppose themselves:" we should argue, persuade, and exhort them; because these are the means God hath appointed, and we may hope for his blessing on them. But "as the "wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of "God;" we certainly should never slander or revile others, or contend with acrimony; or hold up an opponent to derision and contempt, whilst with an air of conscious superiority (as if "we had "made ourselves to differ") we plumed ourselves and our party on pre-eminent discernment, if not integrity. These are none of the means God hath appointed, nor can we expect a blessing on them; nor can they do credit to any cause.

Take heed therefore, beloved, that your zeal for the doctrines do not lead you into a spirit and conduct diametrically opposite to that humility, compassion, meekness, and gentleness, which they are calculated to inspire.-If Calvinists dispute with acrimony; pass hard censures, spread slan

derous reports about others, judge another man's servants, and be quarrelsome and implacable; the doctrines they profess are not to blame, nor yet their belief of them. The unholy state of their hearts is the sole cause of the mischief. Yet the truth is disgraced through their misconduct and one moderate man, who loves and is kind to Christians without respect of party, and differs from his brethren peaceably and charitably, where constrained to differ; and who adorns his profession by a holy life and conversation, will do more even in bringing others cordially and intelligently to embrace his sentiments, than twenty angry disputants, who humour the pride and the malignant passions of their own party, but disgust and prejudice the minds of all who differ from them :--"Put on, therefore, as the Elect of God, holy and "beloved, bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness "of mind, meekness, long suffering; forbearing


one another, and forgiving one another, if any "man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."-Neither let it be inferred from your conduct, that the zeal of Calvinists is chiefly shewn in trying to proselyte others to their tenets; but that they are far less active in seeking the conversion and salvation of sinners, than their brethren whom they call Arminians. If indeed we are true believers, God hath made use of means and instruments to effect the purposes of his everlasting love towards us: and

[ocr errors]

what is there in our peculiar opinions, that should render us less desirous of being his instruments in communicating the same blessings to others, or less sanguine in our expectations of success while using his appointed means? And what other stimulus can we want to excite our most self-denying, perilous, and zealous endeavours to spread his Gospel, than the special distinguishing love of God our Saviour, so freely shewn in delivering us from the wrath to come, and calling us to his eternal glory, by Jesus Christ our Lord?

Finally, my Brethren, if you have attained to a scriptural assurance of your calling and election, give diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end remember from what a dreadful state you are so wonderfully delivered; how free to you this deliverance; what a price it cost your Redeemer; and what he hath done for you, and prepared for you, While you rejoice in the Lord, rejoice likewise in your tribulations, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, in all your conflicts and temptations: and let "the love of "Christ constrain you to live no longer to your"selves, but to him, who died for you, and rose again." "Be ye therefore stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; for"asmuch as ye know that your labour is not in "vain in the Lord."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


(Seeley, Printer, Buckingham.)

« VorigeDoorgaan »