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Wesley says, “ This doctrine tends to destroy the comfort of religion and the happiness of Christians.”
Whitfield replies : “ But how does Mr. Wesley know this, who
never believed election ?” Wesley says, “ This is evident as to all those who believe themselves to be reprobates, or only suspect or fear it: all the great and precious promises are lost to them ; they afford them no ray of corpfort."
Whitfield replies : “ In answer to this let me observe, that none living, especially none who are desirous of salvation, can know that they are not among the number of God's elect. None but the unconverted can have any just reason so much as to fear it. And would dear Mr. Wesley give comfort, or dare you apply the precious promises of the gospel (being children's bread) to men in a natural state, while they continue so ? God forbid ! What if the doctrine of election and reprobation does put, some upon doubting? So does the doctrine of regeneration. This is one
reason, among others, why I admire the doctrine of election, and am convinced that it should have a place in the gospel ministry, and should be insisted on with faithfulness and care."
Wesley says, “ The witness of the Spirit, experience shows to be much obstructed by this doctrine."
Whitfield replies: “But, dear Sir, whose
experience? Not your own. And perhaps you may say, that Luther and Arnelt were no Christians, at least very weak ones.
I know you think meanly of Abrabam, though he was eminently called the friend of God; and I believe also of David, the man after God's own heart. No wonder, tberefore, that in a letter you sent to me not long since, you should tell me, that no Baptist or Presbyterian writers whom you have read, krew any thing of the liberties of Christ. What! neither Bunyan, Henry, Flavel, Holberton, or none of the New England and Scotch divines! See, dear Sir, what narrow spiritedness and want of charity arises from your principles; and then do not cry out against election any more, on account of its being destructive of meekness and love.” |
Wesley says, “ How uncomfortable a thought is this, that thousands and millions of men, without any preceding offence or fault of theirs, were unchangeably doomed to everlasting burnings !"
Whitfield replies, “ But who ever asserted that thousands and millions of men, without any preceding fault of theirs, were unchangeably doomed to everlasting burnings? Do not they who believe God's dooming men to ever
The reader will remember, that Mr. Wesley never believed it.
# If this great and good man had lived to see their ook of Doctrinal Tracts, he would have hart nove rea5011 to speak thus.
Jasting burnings, also believe that God looked upon them as men fallen in Adam ?" [And he might have added, as actual and wilful sinners."] Wesley says,
" This doctrine has a direct tendency to overthrow the whole Christian religion. For, say you,) supposing that unchangeable decree, one part of mankind must be saved, though the Christian religion were not in being."
Whitfield replied, • Dear sir, how does that follow, since it is only by the Christian revelation that we are acquainted with God's design of saving his church by the death of his son? Yea, it is settled in the everlasting covenant, that this salvation shall be applied to the elect through the knowledge and faith of him ; as the prophet says, “by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many.” How then has the doctrine of election a direct tendency to overthrow the whole Christian revelation ? Who ever thought that God's declaring to Noah that seed-time and harvest should never cease, could afford an argument for the neglect of ploughing and sowing? Or, that the unchangeable purpose of God, that harvest should not fail, rendered the heat of the sun, or the influence of the heavenly bodies, necessary to produce it? No more does God's absolute purpose of saving his chosen, preclude, the necessity of the gospel revelation ; or the use of any of the means through which He has
deterinined the decree shall take effect.--How then, in holding this doctrine, do we join with modern unbelievers in making the Christian revelation unnecessary ? No, sir, you mistake. Infidels of all kinds are on your side of the question. Deists, Arians, Socinians, arraign God's sovereignty, and stand up for universal redemption.
I pray God, dear Mr. Wesley's sermon, as it has grieved the hearts : of many of God's children, may not also strengthen the hands of his avowed enemies ! Here I could almost lie down and weep! 0, tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice ; lest the sons of falsehood should triumph!”
In addition to all the other evidence, we have now given the reader the opinion of a great man, whom the Lord delighted to honour, and whom the Methodists pretend to claim. In the close of his argument against Mr. Wesley, he brings the matter to a point, and unfolds the true cause of men's objestions to these doctrines. Their objections arise not from the want of sufficient evidence to prove them, nor altogether for the want of an intellect to understand theın, but from the opposition of the unrenewed heart.
We are aware that the natural man recciveth not the things of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto himn; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.* But yet the light of a natural understanding, we think, might easily enable any man to see clearly, that these doctrines of grace must be true. The only difficulty or mystery in the whole chain, is, bow can God decree all future events wi a certainty, and yet, men who are the instruments in bringing them to pass, be free and voluntary in their actions. In answer to this difficulty, the reader can see our answer given to the 18th question in the debate. If that is not satisfactory, let him remember, the Bible hath taught us that both are facts.t And if he should say that he cannot comprehend them, or perceive how they unite; therefore he will not believe. Then let him cast about in his mind, and see how many things there are around him, which are self-evident facts, and are the works of God-but to man they are incomprehensible. Let this unbeliever try to comprehend the secret union of his soul and body; how he lifts his hand, or utters intelligent sounds, at the impulse of his will ; or, how a grain of corn, after being buried in the eartb, vegetates, grows, and produces an hun. dred more like itself. In short, wherever we cast our eyes, there are things to be seen which are more mysterious and incomprehensible than any thing contained in this system of trutb which God hath taught in the Bible.