« ÖncekiDevam »
N O T E S.
NOTE 1.- Page 323..
FOR that sense of election which I allow and rejoice in I have two excellent authorities, Bishop Andrews and Bishop Jeremy T'aylor; the former of which has these words in one of the forms of prayer in his daily devotions : “ Let my faith in the Church *" entitle me to a part in its calling and election.” (Andrews'
Devot. p. 36. Bishop Horne's edition,) Bishop Andrews is right in ascribing salvation first to the Church, and from the Church to its members; for thus we are taught to argue from the figure of Noah's ark : to be saved by water was, a property original to the ark; and salvation was derived from the ark to those wbo were taken into it: so election belongs first to the Church, the prototype of the ark. Such as were to be saved whey the world was drowned were taken into the ark. Such as shall be saved when the world shall be again destroyed are added to the Church. The Church, we graut, may be much degenerated; but so long as it is a Church, the promises of God must remain with it. vilege of bringing children to a state of salvation is lost, how and when did it lose it? 'Time might possibly produce a leak in the ark, yet certainly none of such consequence as to change its nature, and prevent its usefulness. The Christian Church, by reason of its connection with this world, has fallen into many mistakes and irregularities, which piety will lament and correct as far as it can, instead of triumphing in them as an occasion for inockery and insuli against God and bis institutions., Dificult cases must occur from the commerce between the Church and the world, too great' for us to resolve; and we must leave them to the judgment of the great day; as we ought also to Icave those mysterious characters, in which we find such a mixture of godliness and prophaneness as to our judgment is utterly unaccountable.
If its pri
In a prayer to be used on his birth-day, Bishop Taylor speaks thus: “I give thee glory that thy band sustained and brought me “ to the illumination of baptism with thy grace preventing my “ election, by an artificial necessity and holy prevention engaging “me to the profession and practices of Christianity." (See Holy Living, p. 316.) I cannot stop without shewing buw differently election is spoken of by a great predestinarian, and of what sort his proof is : “ let it suffice," saith he, “ that we feel it ;" but this, we affirm, is the very thing that will not suffice; because our Saviour bath expressly cautioned us agaiust it upon more occasions
He commands us to judge their feelings hy their fruits; *ard not as they themselves do, their fruits by their feelings. We have seen bow lamentably many have been deceived, and how they have deceived others : but hear how this predestinarian concludes, " and let them perish with their errors that cast away a “ doctrine of such heavenly use." (See Bishop Babington's Ser. mon, p. 35, in Sir Richard Hill's Apology for Brotherly Love): that is, let them perish who do not receive our election with its self-evidence of feelings, which our Saviour' would not admit in favour of himself; “ if I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.” Who then shall insist upon our receiving their own witness, and tell us it is sufficient for then, when it was not sufficient for Jesus Christ? They must think themselves in this respect more sufficient than lle. He appeals to that second greater witness, “ The works which my Father giveth me to finish bear witness of
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 unnierciful 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 helieye 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 men's souls, and consigns them so easily to perdition, who can wonder that in the last age it spared neither men's bodies por estates?
NOTE 2. On the XVIIth Article. By the adversaries of the Church of England, who take Calvin for their guide, it has been hoasted that the 17th article is calvin istical: 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 expressly 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 predesti. narian holds, that Christians are elected out of Christians : which doctrine is to be found neither in the Scripture por 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 the use they make of them, are necessary to be ad. miltted by all true Christians; warning us, that we areunder strong temptation not to admit them, because they humble our pride; and is there not enough to do it without them ? and wish. ing that all may perish who do not admit them. But how then does it bappen, that neither St. Peter nor any of the Apostles ever published this doctrine as a foundation for Christians to build upon ? When the new converts on the day of Pentecost asked Peter and the rest of the Apostles what they should do, le does not bid them believe the all-sufficient doctrine of predestination for the reipission of sins: but commands them to “repent 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 predestination must have discovered, that this doctrine hath been and is the strong hold of schism : therefore I take St. Peter's old doctrine ratber than this new; and I would advise all Christians to do the same. If it should be said, that baptism is not now what it was in St. Peter's time, what is it but to tell us, that we have lost the promsies of God, and have now 110 Church? This will be a pleasant hearing to the Roman Catholics, who have heen telling us the same thing ever since the Retornation.
The man who does not pray, does not live; he may walk about, and seem to be alive, but he does not lire, 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
to he th
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 notice 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 manner of teaching is different from what it was at first; he taught evil to our first parents by a speech from without; he 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's Prayer: because the petitions of it shew us what are the duties, the wants, and the dangers 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 inan who is made by him, and does not worship him, differs in nothing from a beast, but in his in. gratitude; 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