« ПредишнаНапред »
shall insist upon our receiving their own witness, and tell us it is sufficient for them, when it was not sufficient for Jesus Christ? They must think themselves in this respect more sufficient than He. He appeals to that second greater witness, “ The works which my Father giveth me to finish “ bear witness of me."
Thus must it be in our case; to visible works we must at last appeal; and we shall be confident the rule is right, though predestinarians go on to the end of the world wishing that we may perish for insisting upon it. Miserable it is to see what self conceit and unmerciful judging of others this doctrine produces in the hearts of Christians. This uncharitableness to fellow. Christians is sufficient witness against it, and proves it to be worth nothing: yet if we were to believe some writers, it is the first and greatest of incentives to brotherly love; but if you will examine it, you will find it to be of a very spurious sort; it embraces Schismatics, but cannot endure a Churchman. If it be thus unmerciful to nien's souls, and consigns them so easily to perdition, who can wonder that in the last age it spared peither men's bodies nor estates?
NOTE 2. On the XVIIth Artieli. BY the adversaries of the Church of England, who take Calvin for their guide, it has been boasted that the 17th article is calvinistical : but this our best divines never allowed; they say the times required that the article should be neutral. So the fact appears to be; and the article may be retained, as far as it goes; for it teaches us to receive the promises of God, and to act according to his will, as it is expreszly declared. His will we do know; and his promises we know; his decrees relating to particular persons, we do not know; and therefore we cannot set up his de.
crees against his promises. The article tells us, the elect are taken out of mankind; this we allow; but the spurious predestinarian holds, that Christians are elected out of Chris'tians; which doctrine is to be found neither in the Scripture nor in the article; though we apprehend, less than this will not come up to the wishes of the Calvinists. They preach to us, that the unknown decrees of God, and thic use they make of them, are necessary to be admitted by all true Christians; warning us, that we are under strong temptation not to admit them, because they humble our pride; and is there not enough to do it without them? and wishing that all may perish who do not admit them. But how then does it happen, that neither St. Peter nor any of the Apostles ever published this docirine as a foundation for Christians to build upon? When the new converts on the day of Pentecost asked Pi ter and the rest of the Apostles what they should do, he does not bid them believe the allsufficient doctrine of predestination for the remission of sins; but commands them to “ repert and be baptized, every one of them, for the remission of sins, and they should receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,"
St. Paul, having a knowledge of the secret decrees of God by revelation, argues from them to reconcile the Jews to the election of heathens ; but never makes them articles of faith, or principles of action : and from the great stress laid upon them in these latter days, a snake in the grass is to be feared ; and he that knows the history of predestinarion must have discovered, that this doctrine hath been and is the strong hold of schism : therefore I take St. Peter's old doctrine rather than this new; and I would advise all Christians to do the same. If it should be said, that baptism is it now what it was in St. Peter's time, what is it but to
us, that we have lost the promises of God, and have ::0 Church. This will be a pleasant hearing to the
a Catholics, who have been telling us the same thing since the Reformation.
The Necessity and Advantages of Prayer: with an find a Method of praying always. 9.5813
1 HE man who does not pray, does not live ; he may walk about, and seem to be alive, but he does not live, in the christian sense of the word; for as the natural breath is a proof that the body is alive, so the breath of prayer is a proof that religion is alive in the heart. When the body ceases to breathe perceptibly, in that case its life becomes doubtful, and it may be actually dead; even so that faith, which does not breathe in prayer to God, may be dead past recovery; at least, there may be great danger
that it will never come to a state of life and godliness. Many considerations naturally arise from this likeness between breath and prayer; for, is it easy to breathe ? it must also be easy to pray. If the body be alive and well, it breathes of itself, without pain or difficulty : and prayer will in like manner be a thing of course, if faith be alive in the heart. Is it necessary to breathe ? so necessary, that life cannot long continue without it? It is equally necessary to pray ; for the spiritual life of the soul cannot possibly be preserved without it. There is something always at hand, which will never fail to destroy it; of this our Saviour gave norice on a certain occasion to his disciples : pray, said he, that ye enter not into temptation. Temptation would destroy us all: and, if we enter into it, we shall, without God's grace, fall under it. It was this, that first brought death into the world ; and is now the great danger of man. The first evil did not arise from man's own nature, but from the suggestion of the devil; who first taught man to disobey his Maker, and which it is ever at hand to teach the same lesson at this hour: and his mancrop of teaching is different from what it was at
he taught evil to our first parents by. a h from without ; hę now teaches from
within us: he gets into our hearts and affections, and worketh in the children of disobedience ; it is therefore a petition in the Lord's Prayer, that our heavenly Father would not lead us into temptation. This is one of the reasons why we ought to pray: if we would know them all, we must find them in the Lord'a Prayer: because the petitions of it shew us what are the duties, the wants, and the danĝers of man. They shew us, why we ought to pray; why we must pray; and what will certainly happen to us if we do not pray. They direct us to the first object of our thoughts; even to the great God that made us; the Father of our being, the Author of our faculties. He is the great object of our worship; and the man who is made by him, and does not worship him, differs in nothing from a beast, but in his ingratitude; the basest of all sins, and such as beasts are seldom guilty of: for the or knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib. Even the dog is mindful of him that. feedeth him. What must the man be then, who makes no return of worship to God, who feedeth the creation? Can any man consider the greatness of his kingdom, without raising his voice, and lifting up his heart, to promote the glory and honour of it? Every christian