Page images
PDF
EPUB

quires; that they cannot place him in a state of Christian perfection, but that he can achieve a great deal toward this end; and that something must be first done by him, in the work of conversion and falvation, is most strenuously infifted upon. Sometimes they suppose him capable of performing such good works as naturally make him inclined to embrace the gospel ; at others, such as may recommend him to God; and at others, such as render him worthy of the Divine favour and election : Our church teaches, that he has no power to do what is really good; that without Chrift he can do nothing in the work of his falvation ; that of himself he is unable even to think a good thought; that he cannot make himself righteous either in the whole or in part; that he cannot even prepare himself to faith, &c.; that his best natural works neither render him meet to receive grace, nor deserving of it, nor are pleasing to God, but are, in fact, themselves fins.

This then is the agreement with our Articles, Liturgy, and Homilies, of which these Churchmen boast! In this manner do they teach the doctrines contained in these formularies as they were first delivered by our Reformers!

But there is another affertion in the propofition under discussion equally well grounded. We, they say, " teach MORE than these doctrines h."

We answer then in respect to the present subject, Is the thing possible? Is it possible to use stronger language upon it, than what has been produced from the authentic writings of the church, and her chief founders ? We can only teach, that every man who is born, considered independent of the grace of God, and in respect to fpiritual concerns, is wholly corrupt, utterly impotent, under the wrath of God, and liable to everlasting torments; all which in the very fullest manner is done here. This charge, how

[blocks in formation]

158

THE TRUE

THE TRUE CHURCHMEN ASCERTAINED,

CHMEN ASCERTAINED

ever, it will be remembered, includes thofe who only proceed Arminian lengthsi. It shall be admitted that the language of the church which has been adduced is popular; that the paffages have been selected from other language which appears to qualify and foften them; and that fome of them are the exaggerated expressions of penitence. But who needs reminding, that whatever allowances may, and ought to be made on these, and such like considerations, are equaily applicable to what is quoted from our writers ? But by what evidence is the accusation supported ? From what part of a late popular Workk, againfi which it is made with so much confidence, can a single shadow of this evidence be produced? We hear much of its “superabundance of orthodoxyd;" of its “ going beyond the creed of the church of England m;" of its “ tendency to a particular fpecies of enthusiasm ;" of its “ bias toward a fanatical secto;" and of certain parts of it being “ more favourable to enthusiasm than to practical Christianity?:" In what part of it then, we ask, is there a single sentence or expreffion that exceeds the language of the church on the present subject? We defy the united body of these divines and critics to show: We defy Mr. Ludlam to show any such excess in the immediate subjects of his attack, the “ Scripture Characters,” and the Works of Mr. Milner: We defy Dr. Croft, Dr. Paley, Mr. Daubeny, Mr. Polwhele, and the whole host of our opponents to substantiate their charge in respect to this doctrine, from the Works of any Author within the limits of our apology.

Is it not then, fo far, pretty clear to whom the charge of “grofs misrepresentation” belongs ? Nay, were that com

(i) Abové, p. 97.

(k) Mr Wilberforce's Practical View. · (I) Critical Review of ditto, June, 1797. (m) Ibid. Review of

Wakefield's answer. (n) British Critic for September, 1797, (0) Ibid. ' (p) Daubeny's Guide, p. 313..

patible with the doctrines of our church, might we not almost be indignant at these Gentlemen? How can they come forward, in the grave character of divines, to criminate others who are innocent, upon the very points in which they are so notoriously guilty themselves ? If this has not been proved with regard to the present doctrine, how shall we be able to prove any thing? And if it has, it will be easy to prove the same concerning any other fundamental doctrine of the church; they will all necessarily take their different complexions according to our different ideas here,

CHAP. V.

The investigation continued with respect to the doctrine of

REPENTANCE.

O UR next particular examination of these different claims of adherence to the genuine tenets of the Church of England, shall respect the important doctrine of REPENTANCE. It is indeed an obvious consequence, that the differs ence of opinion on this head will be proportionable to that on the preceding doctrine. In proportion to men's ideas of the extent, the evil nature, and evil consequences, of their depravity, will, of course, be their solicitude respecting it, and their notions of conversion from it. A few particulars shall however be noticed relating to this point.

Our ideas then are, that a feeling and practical conviction of human depravity is effential in Christianity. This convi&tion, we think, may justly excite unfeigned forrow, and deep anxiety in the foul. And, it is our opinion, that in order to falvation, a chunge of mind, of views and disposition, must be effected in every person, wherever born, however educated, or of whaterer external conduct. Is it said, this change is effected at our baptism? We answer; Have you then indeed kept your baptismal vow? Have you in the uniform and habitual tenour of your life been « renouncing fin, the world, and the Devil; following the example of our Saviour Christ; and daily becoming more like unto him?" Have you indeed experienced the inward and spiritual grace, of which “ the washing of water” is the external emblem, “ a death unto fin, and a new

birth unto righteousness = ?” And, are your views, tempers, and pursuits indeed such, as in scripture every where characterize the regenerate children of God b?,

If so, it is well: But if not; remember, we add, the Apostle's reasoning respecting circumcision, that " if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcifiont:" See the account he gives of the utter inefficacy of that person's religion who was only “ a Jew outwardly d :" Hear him affirm, that “ In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature e.” Consider also, we proceed, upon what high authority it is declared, that “ if the root is made holy, the branches will be holy f;" that “ a good tree CANNOT bring forth evil fruit,” but that “ evil fruit” is a certain proof of "ó a corrupt tree;" and that an evil conduct can only proceed from an 66 evil heart 8:” Compare all this, with the conduct of the bulk of those who have been baptized, and then say whether they have not, in the scripture sense of the words, evil and corrupt hearts; whether many of them are any more than Christians “ outwardly;" for, that such persons live in the habitual practice of what the word of God deems evil, it is impossible to deny.

This distinction between a mere nominal, hereditary, external religion, and real, practical, internal Christianity; between the mere form of Godliness, and the power of it, we cannot relinquish. All therefore who possess only the former, have need, we apprehend, to lay anew the very foundation of the doctrine of Chrifth. Such persons we therefore exhort in the language of scripture, to “ repent and be converted i ;” to “ make the tree good” in order that the fruit may be good.

(a) See our Baptismal Service, and Catechism.

(b) see amongst other scriptures, 1 John, Chapters iii, v.; Rom. viii Gal. v. (c) Rom. ii. 25. (d) Ibid. ver. 25-29. (e) Gal. vi. 15. (f) Rom. xi. 16.

(g) See Matt. vii. 17-19; xii. 33-35; Luke vi. 44. 45. (h) See Heb. vi. 1; and v. 12. (i) Acts üi. 19.

« PreviousContinue »