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my signs and
16 I will harden Pharaoh's heart,* and multiply
my wonders in the land of Egypt; but Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt,” &c.f Neither Abraham nor Pharaoh knew the final determination of God antil it came to pass, nor had they any right to know it; they both knew his commandments, and the one proved himself to be a good man by his obedience and the other proved himself to be a bad man by his disobe, dience.
Further : every king or general of an army who has any government over men, has his secret plans, which he does not reveal to his servants ; because, if he did, his enemies would know them, and take the advantage of him in those designs. In short, there is no man who tells all his secret plans, except he be a fool. A wise king will keep his secret counsels to himself, and give his commands to his subjects: these they know, and if they break them, they may expect to endure the penalty. If the king chooses to pardon any of them, they will know his intentions when he gives the pardon, and not before they have committed the crime. Neither will he give them power to accept of pardon when they please.
* By this we understand, that God would give Pharaoh up to the lusts of his own heart; or, permit Satan to entice, deceive, and blind him; or, God, in his providence, would remove those restraints which would have prevented him from his wickedness. Aod because God had this agency in the business, the expression “ I will harden,” &c. is literally true. And this, we presame, God determined, in his own mind, from eternity. † Exod. yii. 3, 4.
But if this explanation is not satisfactory, we would inquire of the objectors when the millennium, which is promised, will commence ? or, if God has no secret will, let them tell us when the day of judgment will come-or what will be the state of the church fifty years bence ? what good men will live in it ? at what time of life they will be converted ? how long they will live--and when they will die ? these things will undoubtedly come to pass by the will of God; and when they can answer all these questions, and ten thousand more of the same kind, then we will believe that God has no secret will.
But after all the reasoning and scriptures which can be produced, yea, if an angel were to speak from heaven, carnal, unrenewed men would still say these are iron doctrines indeed they are hard-we cannot believe them. bere human nature rises against us.
Therefore, the pious reader may perceive that we have a powerful enemy to contend against. But yet the Lord is with us ; and although these doctrines have ever been opposed by a wicked world, and are in opposition to every feeling of the carnal hearts of men, yet the Lord hath made them stand through every age. They have passed the fiery trial in the days of the persecution, and still maintain their ground. A set of doctrines, so opposed to the views of a rebellious world, if they were not of God, would long since have been trodden to the dust. Seeing then the Lord is with us, we shall not shun to declare his truth, trusting bim to bless it, for the everlasting benefit of dying men.
In this section we intend to show that these doctrines, for which we contend, were the religious sentiments of all the Protestants in the days of the reformation. And we will show that God has honoured these Protestants who maintained these doctrines, with the title of saints and martys of Jesus.
We have already shown the reader, by a few extracts, taken from Roman Catholic and Methodist writers, that their ideas are nearly the same on these important doctrines. They appear to have the same sentiments concerning freewill, inherent grace, and a light given to every man, which he is to improve for his salvation. The pope's idea of election, and Wesley's, (as he hath expressed it in his discipline,) are not only the same in substance, but they are expressed in nearly the same words; and, indeed, in every point, which we have yet examined, they do not differ; although in all these points, the protestants differ with them very materially.
But we will here show that there is an ac. cordance in sentiment between them, in more doctrines than these.
Wesley says, “on this authority I believe a saint may fall away ; that one who is holy and righteous in the judgment of God himself, may nevertheless so fall from God, as to perish everlastingly."*
Pope says, “ But, if on the contrary, you are guilty of one mortal sin, although you had been before the greatest saint in the world, you are lost without remedy."
Again, if “ David, after having lost the grace of God by sin, was so sensibly affected,” &c.
The Roman Catholic catechism says : • Q. What is mortal sin ?
"A. That which kills the soul, and deserves hell.
“Q. How does mortal sin kill the soul ?
" A. By destroying the life of the soul, which is the grace of God.”I
The Methodists have the same doctrine in substance, although it wants the name. They say that God has given to every man a measure of light and saving grace; and that by this grace, given to him by the promise of a Saviour, he
* Section 4, paragraph 5.
† Man's only affair, p. 58. # Ditto to 93.
has power to accept of proffered salvation. But, say they, this power to accept of salvation may be taken from him ; he may lose it in consequence of great sin, then his day of grace is past, and he has no longer power to accept of this salvavation.* Now this iniquity, which has provoked God to take from this man the power to accept of salvation, you may call mortal sin, or whatever else you please ; it is that, which, according to their doctrine, has killed the life of the soul, which, they say, was the grace of God, and enabled them to accept of proffered salvation,
Again : Many of them confess that they do sometimes sin : but they do not fall from grace for every sin. Therefore the sins by which they fall from grace must be mortal ones, and the others venial.
Once more: we find by their discipline, that one of their leaders is required to ask their members the following questions :
1. What sins have you committed since our last meeting?
2. What particular temptations have you met with ? 3. How were you
delivered ? 4. What have you thought, said, or done, of which you are in doubt whether it be sin or not?
* See Mr. K's. answer to question 17.