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for it appears from history, that these men were afraid to be honest in declaring their sentiments. All this would not have been the case, provided this system of doctrine had been common, or even known in the cburch before that time.
Besides, when their sentiments were dis. covered, they were condemned for heresy. And then it was that Augustine (as the Methodists say) “let fall some expressions which some have unhappily gleaned up for the establishing of this error. We answer ; he did indeed let fall some expressions on these points. Let any man read them for himself, and he will find them similar to those which we have extracted already from the Protestant Articles of Faith. Because they were gleaned up by the reformers, and used as an engine against the Roman Catholics in the time of the Reformation ; in order to prove the antiquity of their doctrine, and that the freewill scheme had been a novelty in the church in its early ages. Although we doubt not but that there are many expressions to be found in the writings of the early fathers, which may be so construed, as to appear to favour this doctrine. Neither do we doubt but what there were ungodly men, and even Ministers in the church at that time, who were Arminians in heart; which all men are, until they are truly born of God. But although there were many errors taught in those early ages, yet, from all the testimony to be ga.
thered on both sides, we doubt the existence of any Christian sect, who openly taught the freewill scheme of salvation, until the days of Pelagius. But if it were otherwise, it would pot alter the Bible. Once more.
It is pretended by some, that the great modern reformer, George Whitfield, was a Methodist. We answer; he was called so by some, and sometimes calls himself so ; because most evangelical Calvinists, at that day, were called by that name in England. But his letter to Wesley abundantly proves that he was far from being such a Methodist as he was. Seeing it is lengthy, we will present the reader with only some extracts of it, that he may judge for himself.
It appears that Mr. Wesley cast lots, or threw a shilling, in order to determine whether he should be an Armenian or a Calvinist. This he has been charged with in two public letters, written to himself, while he was yet living, by two different respectable divines ;* and we have never heard of his attempting to deny the charge. After having thus cast lots, and it fell for him to be an Armenian, he then wrote and published a Sermon, containing his sentiments on these points.
To which Whitfield replies : “God only knows what unspeakable sorrow of heart I have felt on your account, since I left England last. * Jonah could not go with greater reluctance against Nineveh, than I now take my pen in hand to write against you. But what can I say? The children of God are in danger of falling into error. Nay, numbers bave been misled, whom God has been pleased to work upon by my ministry.
* Whitfield and Toplady.
The case (you know) stands thus : When you was at Bristol, I think you received a letter from a private hand, charging you with not preaching the gospel, because you did not preach up election. Upon this you drew a lot; and the answer was, preach and print. I have often questioned, as I do now, whether, in so doing, you did not tempt the Lord. A due exercise of religious prudence, without a lot, would have directed you in this matter. Besides, I never heard that you inquired of God whether or not election was a gospel doctrine. But I fear, taking it for granted that it was not, you only inquired whether you should be silent, or preach and print against it. However this be, the lot came out, preach and print : accordingly, you preached and printed against election. I am apt to think one reason why God should suffer you to be deceived, was, that thereby a special obligation might be laid upon me, faithfully to declare the scripture doctrine of election.” He reminds Wesley, that he had
* Omissions in the letter will be marked with an el lipsis.
before cast a lot in an important matter; and says,
“ You had a wrong lot given you here, and justly, because you tempted God in drawing one ; and thus I believe it is in the present case.” Whitfield says much to him on the impropriety of casting lots in such matters; and, as a proof that Wesley had done so, he reminds him of his own letters written to himself. Whitfield then proceeds to notice the Sermon itself, and says,
" I shall not mention how illo. gically you have proceeded. Had you wrote clearly, honoured Sir, you should first have proven your proposition, that God's grace is free for all; and then, by way of inference, exclaimed against what you call the horrible decree. But you knew people (because Arminianism, of late, has so much abounded among us) were generally. prejudiced against the doctrine of reprobation, and therefore thought that if you kept up their dislike of that, you could overthrow the doctrine of election entirely ; for without doubt, the doctrine of election and reprobation must stand or fall together.
“But passing by this, as also your equivocal definition of the word
false definition of the word free ; and, that I may be as short as possible, I frankly acknowledge 1 believe the doctrine of reprobation ; that God intended to give saving grace, through Jesus Christ only, to a certain number; and that the rest of mankind, after the fall of Adam, being
stly left of God to continue in sin, will at last suffer that eternal death which is its proper wages. This is the established doctrine of Scripture, and acknowledged as'such by the 17th article of the Church of England.”
These are the words of Whitfield to Wesley, and clearly show his sentiments on these doctrines. It would be useless to proceed any farther with his letter, if it were not that Wesley, in this Sermon which he had published, (after determining his doctrine, not by the Bible, but by a lot, had used many of the sophistical arguments which are now practised by his sons. To each of which the reader can see Whitfield's reply.
Wesley had argued, that if election were true, it was needless to preach the gospel.
Whitfield replies: “Oh, dear Sir, what kind of reasoning, or rather sophistry, is this ! Hath not God, who hath appointed salvation for a certain number, appointed also the preaching of the word as a means to bring them to it? Does any one hold election in any other sense ?"
Wesley had contended, that election destroyed all motive to obedience.
Whitfield replies : “ I thought one that carries perfection to such an exalted pitch as dear Mr. Wesley does, would know that a true lover of the Lord Jesus Christ would stri to be holy for the sake of being holy; and work for Christ out of love and gratitude, without any regard to the rewards of heaven, or the fear of hell."