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mention of these grand doctrines, and leave our people in the dark as to their election of God. This would be a pretty way indeed, of stopping up the gap, Erasmus complains of! Instead of closing up the door of licentiousness, as is falsely pretended, it would be, in fact, opening a golf into the nethermost hell. Still you urge, Where is then either the necessity or utility of preaching predestination ? God himself teaches it, and commands us to teach it; and that is answer enough. We are not to arraign the Deity, and bring the motives of his will to the test of human scrutiny ; but simply to receive both him and it. I will venture to assign, over and above, two reasons why these doctrines should be publicly taught : 1. for the humiliation of our pride.
Wbilst a man is persuaded that he has it in his power to contribute any thing, be it ever so little, to his own salvation, he remains in carnal confidence. For the elect's sake, therefore, these doctrines are to be preached, that the chosen of God, be. ing humbled by the knowledge of his truths; self-emptied, and sunk, as it were, into nothing, in his presence, may be saved in Christ with eternal glory. 2. The nature of the Christian faith requires it. Faith has to do with things not seen ; and this is one of the highest degrees of faith, steadfastly to believe that God is infinitely merciful, though he saves (comparatively) but few, and condemns so many; and that he is strictly just, though of his own will, he
" It may
makes such numbers of mankind, necessarily liable to damnation,” &c.
On another occasion, Luther says, seem absurd to human wisdom, that God should harden, blind, and deliver up some men to a reprobate sense ; that he should first deliver them over to evil, and then condemn them for that evil; but the believing spiritual man sees no absurdity at all in this; knowing that God would be never a whit less good, even though he should destroy all men.” And again, he says, “ He (God) has neither superior nor equal ; and his will is the rule of all things. He did not, therefore, will such and such things, because they were in themselves right, and he was bound to will them ; but they are, therefore, equitable and right, because he wills them.”
These are the words of the great reformer, Martin Luther; through whose instrumentality the Lord wrought wonders in his church, in the days of the reformation. It is needless to add any thing more, in order to convice the reader wbat bis sentiments were on these doctrines, about which we are now contending. The humble inquirer can here see for himself, that John Calvin was not the inventor of these doctrines, as some would pretend: they were taught and believed by all the reformers, or the Lutheran conspiracy, as the papists called it, before ever he came on the stage.
Now let us draw a conclusion. We have shown clearly, that these doctrines of decrees
and election, &c. were the doctrines taught and believed by the French, Dutch, Scotch, and English Protestants, and also by the Episcopalians and Lutherans, at the time when their blood was flowing by the hands of the freewillers. It amounts to a certainty that Christians of all these denominations, suffered martyrdom at the stake, for believing and teaching these doctrines contained in their confessions, or articles of faith, which we have placed before the reader. Besides, it would be difficult to prove, that
any who believed the doctrine of free-will, were ever slain for their religion by the Roman Catholics.
But, say our readers, what is that to us? We answer, turn to the 17th chapter of Revelation, and we will show you. It reads thus,
so he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness; and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, baving seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones, and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication : and upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and abominations of the earth. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.”
This woman, here spoken of, it is agreed up. on all hands, and even by Mr. Wesley himself,* was none other than the Pope, whom the Scriptures elsewhere call Anti-Christ, the man of sin, the mystery of iniquity, &c. The saints and the martyrs of Jesus, with whose blood she was said to be drunk, cạn be no other than those protestants who were slain for their reli. gion, by the pope, in the days of the persecution. The word can rationally mean none others; because the pope never slew for their religion, any others that were called Christians, (that is, to any great amount,) except those protestants, whose doctrines we have briefly laid before the reader. In short, we believe it is agreed by all, who lay the least claim to protestantism, that these were the men meant in the text. The reader has seen some of the articles of their faith ; and these are the men whom the Holy Ghost hath honoured with the title of saints and martyrs of Jesus. Let him that readeth understand, and rest his soul for eternity upon what foundation he pleases.
Again, the General Conference have said, “ We may falsely call this doctrine a novelty, seeing in the first four hundred years after Christ, there is no mention made of it by any writer, great or small, in any part of the Chris. tian Church.”+ We doubt not but some one might have told them that this was the case, and they believed it. Or they might have thought so, because they did not see it in those authors where it is not to be found. But if they will examine Milner's Church History, he will point them to authors where it is to be found. Besides, Mr. Fletcher himself, (the great Methodist.) grants that the Vicar of Broad Hembury, has filled a section with proofs, that the early fathers were sound Calvinists.* These proofs consisted of quotations taken from their own writings, and we think that some of those expressions were very strong Calvinism. But, Mr. Fletcher, in order to confute this idea, says, that the expressions are not stronger to this effect than some of his own. We reply, that may be possible, provided he has written as strong Calvinism, as we have shown, in our last section, that Wesley and the General Conference have done, when they contradicted themselves. We presume, however, that there were no books written in direct opposition to the freewill scheme, during the first four centuries ; because we think the scheme did not openly exist in those early ages ; consequently there would be no need of opposing it. The reasons why we think so are, because when Pelagius and Celestius first began to teach it, in the beginning of the fifth century, it was with much difficulty that the clergy of that age were enabled to ascertain what the doctrine was :
* See Wesley's notes on this text.
* Tract 4, page 55.