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err, that it is owing to a want of diligence, and impartiality, or to some such cause, which God forbid that I should ever vindicate by pronouncing it inno
If I am in an error in the sentiments here defended, it will be the part of candor in my opponents to allow ·
sentences which never proceeded from my pen. The former might be imputed to mistake; and if there had been only an instance or two of the latter, charity might have overlooked them; but the number of gross misrepresentations is such as admits of no such construction.
Not to mention his exclamations of "punishment without guilt”—of "unmerited damnation," (6, 7.) which seem to be his own sentiments rather than mine; as he believes, if I understand him, that men and devils will be eternally punished for that of which God is the author-(176 with 50, 55.) not to mention these, I say, what could he think of himself in taking such freedoms as the following? "You draw I know not what conclusions concerning faith. As though a generation of vipers had been perfectly holy, if the fulness of time had not given Jesus to his people (177, 178.)-What combinations of deformity and weakness occur in many pious attempts to spiritualize, AS YOU PHRAZE IT, the works of nature (63.)-To assert it to be the DUTY of all to believe that they are of the fold of the heavenly Shepherd is an impious absurdity (95, Note)-When you inform us that it is the duty of every man to believe that HE is of the remnant of salvation, you certainly are mistaken (151.)-Tremendous deformity of thought! TO PERISH IF WE DO BELIEVE A LIE, TO BE DAMNED IF WE DO NOT BELIEVE IT!!! (153.) "God cannot, you say, love any but his chosen, nor can omnipotence itself make any but his chosen love him" (97)-You say, "that omnipotence itself cannot make a man choose and delight in God." (81.)
I should be glad to be informed in what pages, and in what
that I sincerely believe what I write; but it would a spurious kind of candor to acquit me of all blame in the affair. If I have erred, either God hath not sufficiently revealed the thing in question, so as to make it level with my capacity; or else I have not searched after truth with that earnestness and impartiality which I ought.
lines the above passages are to be found, and what authority Dr. W. had for these imputations.
In the last instance, it is true, he has referred us to the page; and there are some of the words: but nothing of the meaning to be found in page 181. of my treatise. What is there said is, that "Omnipotence itself cannot make THE FLESH choose and delight in God;" and what is there meant by the term flesh, is sufficiently plain from page 182.
It is possible this gentleman may exclaim, and multiply words, and pretend to infer the above passages from what I have advanced. I do not believe that any one of them can be fairly inferred from any thing I have written. But suppose he thinks they can; in order to acquit himself of falsehood, it is not. enough, that, in his opinion, they may be inferred from what I have said, they must be proved, the chief of them, to be MY WORDS, and all of them, MY SENTIMENTS; and the places where they are to be found, particularly specified. Any thing short of this will amount to an acknowledgment of the charge; and will require no farther notice in a way of reply.
INTRODUCTION-GENERAL REMARKS, &c. &c.
WHEN the former treatise was published, I did not flatter myself with the thought of its meeting with no opposition. The sentiments there maintained I knew were different from those of many whose characters I sincerely respected. I also knew they had an equal right to examine as I had to advance. Any person, therefore, who might think me mistaken, and should be so disposed, was there invited to point out my mistakes; with the addition of only this single caution, that he would not barely call them mis takes, but prove them so.
Mr. BUTTON has accepted the invitation. He had a right to do so. He has "attempted, he says, not barely to call the sentiments he opposes by the name of mistakes; but to prove them such, by solid scriptural evidence." I have no objection to his attempt, but do not think he has succeeded in it. The leading sentiments in the former treatise, which are charged as "mistakes," still appear to me in the light of scriptural and important truths. In defending them against Mr. B.'s exceptions, I hope I shall give him no just cause of offence. I am sure it is
my desire to avoid every thing of a personal nature; and to attend simply to the enquiry, what is truth? Before we enter upon the subject, however, it will be proper to notice some other things. Although in writing the pamphlet on which Mr. B. hath animadverted, it was my study to avoid wounding the character, or misrepresenting the sentiments of any one, whether dead or living; yet if any thing therein be capable of such a construction, it becomes me to explain or retract it. Accordingly, I freely acknowledge the passage in the preface, page vii. if applied to the body of those from whom I differ, is too severe. I am happy to say, I consider neither Mr. B. on the one hand, nor Philanthropos on the other,* whatever be the tendency of their principles if pursued in their consequences, as deserving that censure. I did not mean it indiscriminately of all whose sentiments I opposed, and I suppose the world does not want evidence, by this time, that it is true of some of them. But there is a want of perspicuity in the passage; and I wish it had been omitted.
While truth and justice require the above acknowledgment, there are several other charges, to which they equally oblige me to plead Not guilty. I am accused (p. 4.) of having made a personal attack upon Mr. Brine; but I conceive without any reason. I do not think I remembered, at the time of writing, that Mr. Brine had used such a mode of expression: nor are they the express words of any
* Philanthropos also complained of this passage, page 9.
author, though it is a manner of speaking which hath been too frequently used. However, suppose I had it in recollection, and purposely omitted the mentioning of any name, surely a censure passed upon a certain mode of speaking, though exemplified nearly in the words of some one author, is yet far enough off from a personal attack; and I should suppose the omission of the name would render it farther.
Ought I to be accountable for it, if any persons have said, that "this book will cure some of their Gillism, and Brineism ?" (pref. p. v.) I have a high opinion of the respectable characters alluded to. At the same time the successors of those worthy men ought not to set them up as the standards of orthodoxy. In some things they differed from one another; and on this subject, from almost all who had gone before them, from hundreds of men whom they loved, and whom they knew to be their equals in piety and respectability. Yea, in some parts of this controversy they took different grounds. Though Mr. Brine maintained the argument from Adam's incapacity to believe, yet Dr. Gill, when contending with the Arminians, gave it up.* Bat they were great and upright men, and thought for themselves; and it is to be hoped others may do the same.
Mr. B. blames me for desiring people to read my book. (p. 6.) I only desired they would read it
* Cause of God and Truth, part iii. ch. 3. § 6.