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If the confessors were honest, and intended to answer all these questions according to truth, we presume that the most of them would prefer the Romon Catholic mode of confessing sins, that is, to have the priest alone, and have him bound under secrecy.
We do not pretend to charge the Methodist with all the grosser corruptions of popery ; but from the comparison we have had between the sentiments of the two churches, it is easy to be seen that the difference in these essential and distinguishing doctrines is not great. Mr. Wesley, in a letter to a papist priest, says, My dear friend, consider I am not persuading you to leave or change your religion.". And adds, "Let the points wherein we differ stand aside there are enough wherein we agree. O brethren, let us not still fall out by the way.
We do not make these remarks in order to ridicule or irritate any person; but we do it in order to let the unwary child of Protestant parents see where he may be led; neither do we as yet pretend to charge the Methodist with all the grosser corruptions of popery; but we wish to show the pious reader, that they have again laid the old foundation of that heresy, and are building upon it much faster than many of them are aware. Besides, the reader can perceive, from what has already been exhibited before him, that when the Methodists were about to choose a man to defend their doctrine * See Toplady.
in a public debate, it was not material to them whether he be a Methodist or a Roman Catholic; because, in all the points of doctrine about which we were to contend, those two churches are united in sentiment.
According to our proposal, we will now show the reader what were the sentiments of the Protestants on these points, in the days of the reformation. In order to do this, we will place before him some extracts taken from the Protestant confessions of faith, of the Dutch, French, English, and Episcopalian churches.
The General Conference themselves, in their book of doctrinal tracts, have made the extracts of the three churches first namedand we shall take them from that book. We may boldly call the adherents to these doctrines Protestants, because they have called them so themselves, in this book, and sometimes with an ill-natured cant: in one case accusing them of making the translation* of our English Bible to suit themselves. Whoever reads their book will readily perceive, that although Mr. Wesley declared he had no desire to persuade the Roman Catholics to change their religion, yet the General Conference have manifested a great desire to persuade us to change ours; besides, they seldom speak to us in such loving terms as Mr. Wesley did to the others.
But to the point. The General Conference say,t Agreeably hereto, in the Protestant
† Do. to page 106, &c.
confession of faith, drawn up at Paris in the year 1559, we have these words:
"We believe, that out of the general corruption and condemnation, in which all men are plunged, God draws those whom, in his eternal and unalterable counsel, he has elected, by his goodness and mercy, through our Lord Jesus Christ, without considering their works, leaving the others in the same corruption and condemnation.' "(Art. 12.)
"To the same effect speak the Dutch Divines, assembled at Dort, in the year 1618.Their words are:
"Whereas in process of time God bestowed faith on some, and not on others, this proceeds from his eternal decree--according to which he softens the heart of the elect, and leaveth them that are not elect in their wickedness and hardness.
"And herein is discovered the difference put between men equally lost-that is to say, the decree of election and reprobation. Election is, the unchangeable decree of God, by which, before the foundation of the world, he hath chosen in Christ unto salvation, a set number of men. This election is one and the same of all which are to be saved.
"Not all men are elected, but some are not elected; whom God, in his unchangeable good pleasure, hath decreed to leave in the common misery, and not to bestow saving faith
apon them: but leaving them in their own ways, at last to condemn and punish them everlastingly, for their unbelief, and also for their other sins.-And this is the decree of reprobation.'"-(Art. 6. et seq.)
Likewise, in the Confession of Faith, set forth by the assembly of English and Scotch divines, in the year 1646, are these words:/
"God, from all eternity, did unchangeably ordain whatsoever cometh to pass.
"By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others fore-ordained to everlasting death. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, without any foresight of faith or good works. The rest of mankind, God was pleased, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath.' "(Chap. 3.)
These extracts are exactly as the General Conference have made them in their book. We do not say but what they have left out some sentences, in order to make them appear more exceptionable to the wicked. In short,
we know that they have done so--and it had been a wonder if they had represented the protestant doctrine fairly. But according as they themselves have made the extracts, they are abundantly sufficient to show what were the sentiments of these protestants in the days of the reformation. In addition to this, we will transcribe some of the doctrines of the Episcopal church :
Article 17. Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, (whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid,) he hath constantly decreed, by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation, those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them, by Christ, to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore they, which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God's purpose, by his Spirit working in due season; they, through grace, obey the calling; they be justified freely; they be made sons of God by adoption; they be made like the image. of his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting life."*
Here all these distinguishing doctrines of the Protestant church are expressed in one article; and the other articles perfectly correspond with this.
* See the common prayer-book of the Episcopa Church-39 articles.