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gers to that holy calling of which the apostle spoke *? Whether there be not a dead faith as well as a living faith? Whether the former be not often more confident than the latter ? Whether there be not a groundless presumption, as well as a hope that maketh not ashamed ?" And whether an unholy faith and confidence can be sanctifying? It is true that several of the persons to whom these questions are proposed, are completely exculpated from all intention to loosen the believer's obligation to obedience: but good men may endorse and give currency to bad bills, and thus incautiously aid the dishonest to defraud their unsuspecting neighbours. Nor let it be forgotten, that we can only judge of the tendency of the doctrine, and are not at all required to decide on the intention of the teacher.

Shrewd men of corrupt minds, such “ as pri“ vily bring in damnable heresies," " teaching

things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's “ sake," or from ambition and love of popularity, will avail themselves of every expression in the works of respectable writers, which can be made to serve their pernicious purposes. They will detach them from their connexion, explain them in their own way, and draw such inferences from them, as the authors of them most heartily abhorred: and this especially after they are dead, and cannot explain themselves. And superficial readers or hearers, who want a cheap opiate to quiet conscience, will be emboldened, by a name of established reputation, to drink the fatal poiThe book whence the

is quoted, and which, if fairly consulted, would furnish an antidote, is meanwhile neglected; and thus “ satan, transformed into an angel of light," deceives the soul of the unwary,

passage

son.

# 2 Tim. i, 9.

• Even while the apostles were yet alive, it was needful to guard professed christians against being “ deceived by vain words :” nay, " men “ of perverse minds" distorted the very language of inspiration to bring on others and on them“ selves, swift destruction.” We ought therefore to be extremely circumspect, not “ to give occa“ sion to those that seek occasion :" and we are expressly commanded to gather up the stum"bling-blocks out of the way" of those who enquire after salvation. The enemy will if possible sow tares; he will do it while we sleep, by his own servants: but his triumph is in this respect complete, when he can prevail with the ministers of Christ to mix tares with the wheat, which they sow in their Master's field.

If it has then been proved that saving faith is a holy exercise of the soul, it is certainly of the greatest importance that this should be clearly understood and that the servants of the Lord should be fully aware of the consequences which result from a contrary representation, and even from incautious and unguarded expressions on the subject. Without embarrassing enquirers by distinctions which they cannot possibly understand, if a holy faith were constantly described in its nature and effects, and a holy salvation uniformly set before our auditories: and if men were earnestly cautioned to beware of counter feits, awakened persons would be far less liable to be deceived by a dead faith into vain confidence than they are when such precautions are neglected. Without directly adverting to their own case, they would thus be imperceptibly formed to an habitual conviction, that salvation from wrath is inseparably connected with salvation from sin; and that true faith receives Christ in his whole character, and in all his offices, with cordial approbation and gratitude: end ** these respects widely different from a mere assent of the understanding to the doctrines of the gospel.

IN II. We insist on this subject thus earnestly, for the sake of such as are without. If men take offence at the real gospel of Christ, they alone are answerable for it: but if we state things unscripturally, and so needlessly stumble and prejudice them, we become accessory to their destruction. Now, they that are without are liable to be stumbled in various ways by the subject before us. The doctrine of salvation of free grace, through faith alone, by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, and an interest in his atonement, and not in any sense by our own works, is sufficiently offensive to the pride and carnal enmity of man's heart, and entirely contrary to all his vain reasonings and imaginations. This cannot be avoided; and, we ought not to keep back, or modify, any part of the truth, to render it more palatable. But it must tend exceedingly to increase the prejudices of carnal men against the gospel (especially those of the more moral, sensible, and respectable among them) if we maintain that saving faith is not holy in its nature ; that it precedes repentance, and completely justifies the man, who to that moment has been destitute of godly sorrow for sin, and every degree of a disposition to amend his life; and that he is actually reconciled to God, as pardoned, accepted, and received to full favour, before he begins to repent or to do works meet for repentance! Yet all this and much more to the same purpose may be collected from the scattered passages, contained in the writings of those who have espoused this cause; and not merely inferred from their principles ! Worldly men will not annex our appropriate ideas to the expressions we use: but they will generally put the least favourable construction on them of which they are capable, and then draw their own conclusions. Indeed facts demonstrate that numbers, viewing Christianity onlyat a distance, are set against the gospel by those distorted representations of it, for which some pious men zealously contend ! Many know enough of the Scriptures to perceive, that the doctrines of Christianity are there stated very differently, from what they hear or read in the discourses of several among those, who almost exclusively assume the title of evangelical. And being satisfied that some of their sentiments are unscriptural, their dislike to the whole plan of the gospel shelters itself under that conviction : and supposing that they are only averse to the errors of the system, which in all respects they really dislike ; they adhere to their own forms and notions with more decided self-congratulation. Others, on the contrary, perceiving that the doctrines justly called evangelical, are certainly contained in the Scriptures, and hearing such exceptionable inferences drawn from them, hastily, conclude, according to the dictates of a proud and carnal heart, that Christianity is chargeable with the whole, and that such a religion cannot be from God! Thus they are prepared to hearken to the insinuations of infidels, who are more indebted for their success to the follies and vices of professed christians, than to the strength of their own arguments, or even zealous efforts to promote the desperate cause.

Some individuals who now preach the gospel, have declared, that after they had received serious impressions, they were long prejudiced by these things, and could not receive the doctrines of grace exactly as proposed, even by those of reputation among the evangelical people with whom they were acquainted. This has occasioned many doubts and delays, and exposed them to divers temptations; till a nearer view of the subject convinced them, that the opinions to which they objected had no foundation in Scripture, and were not in reality connected with the doctrines in question.

It would probably be found, upon careful enquiry, that this consideration has not its' due weight among us. In conversation one with another, we speak of the reception which our sentiments meet with among our friends and favourers, and the good supposed to be done: but do not enough consider what impression is made on occasional hearers, or readers, who are strangers to our system, or prejudiced against it. Perhaps, in some instances, thousands are rendered more determined in their aversion to the gospel, by the reverberated and enhanced report of some crude and unscriptural tenet, or some light and ludicrous expression, which injudicious friends most extravagantly applauded, and fancied very useful.

It has been above observed that when respectable persons adopt unscriptural sentiments, or use terms fairly capable of an ill construction, men of another character will

go

still further. They will leave the general doctrine unexplained and unguarded, or explain it in the worst sense: they will draw their own conclusions, and make their own use of it; and thus propagate a spurious gospel, by the authority of reputable names. In the mean time sensible and discerning men, who dislike the doctrines of grace, but take merely a distant and exterior view of the heterogenous multitude, which, in one form or other, profess them, have their prejudices exceedingly increased, and even justified to their own consciences, by the wild and extravagant sentiments thus disseminated in the church. And, as if this were only a small matter, too many, alas,

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