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self in the context, that he means every unregenerated man ; and says, in the same epistle,
every one that loveth, is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God."* Therefore, from the testimony of the Bible it is plain that the light of the glorious gospel of ist is hid fr them that be lost ; that God hath blinded the minds and hardened the hearts of at least one whole nation ; and that all unregenerated men walk in dark
We could multiply proof on this point ; but it is needless to produce any more. Whoso readeth, let him understand, if he can understand our meaning, and the meaning of others, by our words ; let him understand the inspired writers, by the same rule.
Dear reader, the freewill scheme of salvation, which basʼlong been taught by the Pope and some others, we deem to be dangerous. God in his word, (as protestants think) hath called it the mystery of iniquity; and the Pope, who taught it, the man ef sin. Therefore, in order to prevent the humble inquirer from being deceived by it, you can see for yourself, that the Lord by his word, hath kindly branded it for heresy on every corner, that every troubled traveller of Zion may know for himself that this is not the way.
Objections : This doctrine is also another fundamental point in the freewill scheme, intimately connected with the others. But they
Besty 1 John iv. 7.
have attempted to bring some scripture texts in support of this lust point; we will therefore examine these texts.
But before we examine these scriptures we would premise, that it is a well known fact that, in all languages there are many words and sentences which logicians call equivocal, and which are capable of being understood in different senses.
In order that the plain common reader may understand and know that this is the case in language, we will give a few examples. For . instance, I say of my neighbour, “ he is a sound
From this expression alone, who can tell whether I mean, that he is sound in judgment, sound in principle, or sound in body? The subject on which I am speaking, or the general connexion of my discourse, will easily determine my meaning. Or, I say of my neighbour, " he is active, and no doubt, will do all he can ;" who would tell from this sentence, whether I mean that the man will do all the good, or all the evil he can ?
These, and a multitude of similar expressions, are common in the English language, and in other languages. This must necessarily be the case, because language is too barren to express all the various images of the mind. If the plaip, honest reader, will only attentively observe the common expressions both of him. self and his neighbours, he will readily perceive this to be a fact.' Mapy dishonest men in the world have seen it, and have often attempted to avail themselves of an advantage, which they supposed could be taken of these equivocal words and sentences, in order to deceive their neighbours ; but if the matter be brought before a learned court, which understands the above facts, those quibbles do not answer the purpose that these men intended.
This observation we wish the humble inquirer ever to bear in mind, because it is of infinite importance to the right understanding of the Bible. In this book, God hath given a revelation of his mind and will to man. This he hath done by words and sentences, many of which are capable of being literally understood in at least two or three different senses, as we have shown is generally the case in languages. But, in order to remedy this difficulty in a matter of such vast importance, the Lord hath given us line upon line, and precept upon precept.* Therefore, it becomes an invariable rule of duty, both to God and ourselves, in reading the scriptures, to compare one passage with another, and understand them, so that one text does not contradict another, and that every expression is literally true. Otherwise (with reverence let us speak) we will array the scriptures against themselves, and make God a liar.
Almost all protestant denominations of Christians observe this rule. Accordingly, those
* Isa. xxviii. 10.
who preach the gospel, and live by the gospel, * agreeably to the directions of the Bible, give themselves wholly to the work of the ministry, andwith much study meditate upon these things.t They are careful to compare scripture with scripture, that they may find the true meaning of the Holy Ghost, before they undertake to teach others. Hence it is, that by observing this rule, we find that the P'resbyterians, the Congregationalists, Reformed Dutch, Covenanters, and many other Protestant churches, notwithstanding they are independent of each other, and some of them even speak different languages; yet, by starching the same Bible, they are found to agree in all the leading doctrines of the Gospel.
But on the contrary, therė are many who conceive a doctrine in their mind :, it is the offspring of their own carnal reason, and it suits the feelings of their unregenerated hearts. If they can believe it to be true, it will give an immediate ease to their troubled conscience. Therefore, they hastily catch up the Bible, and read a little ; they find some of those equivocal phrases which can be bent to suit their scheme. Here they settle down, with a prejudice that their plan must be right : they will look no further, let the word of God contradict them as much as it may.
These texts, say they, are the word of God, and prove just what we want to be true. Thus the doctrine is made before
* 1 Cor. ix. 14. + 1 Tim. iv. 5, &c.
the Bible comes. O obstinate reader ; we fear that when you come to the court of heaven, the Judge of all hearts will tell you, that you were not ignorantly, but wilfully deceived !". If you had been willing to look, with reverence, a little further into my word, you would have that you
did not understand me aright, and would not have given a false peace to your conscience! I gave you precept upon precept, and line upon line, that you might have a fair opportunity to understand my true meaning.'
2dly. But for the sake of the humble inquirer, we will lay down one more general rule for understanding the scripture. It is this : always keep the attributes of God in view. Some, in order to suit their interest and feelings, view him as a God of all mercy. His justice and power they keep out of sight, because those attributes are not so agreeable to the wicked, as the first. But let it be remembered, that it must be acknowledged by us all, that he is a Gud of infinite power, who says he is the Lord Almighty, and there is nothing too hard for him. *
If we read any human composition which we wish to understand, it is ever necessary to keep the character of the writer in view, as well as. the subject on which he is writing. For instance, if you were to receive a letter from a man in Europe, who was writing to you concerning the melancholy state of your friend,
* Jer, xxxii. 17.