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8. Does not talking of a justified or a II. An account of the commendable desanctified Stute, tend to mislead men ? Al. sign of his minutes. most naturally leading them to trust, in what III. A vindication of the propositions was done in one moment? Whereas we are which they contain, by arguments taken every hour and every moment pleasing or from Scripture, Reason, and Experience, displeasing to God, according to our works. and by quotations from eminent calvinist According to the whole of our inward tem divines, who have said the same things in pers, and our outward behaviour.
And suppose you, yourself, Sir, in par
ticular, should appear to be a strong asserFirst Letter to the Rev. Mr. Shirley.
tor of the doctrines which you call a dreadHONOURED AND Rev. Sir,
ful heresy in Mr. W. I hope you will not BEFORE a Judge passes sentence refuse me leave to conclude by ex postulating upon a person accused of theft, he hears with you upen your conduct in this affair, what his neighbours have to say for his char- and recommending to you, and our other acter. Mr. Wesley, I zrant, is accused of christian friends, the forbearance which you what is worse than theft, dreadful heresy : recommend to others in one of your Sermons; and I know that whoever maintains " Why doth the narrow heart of man pursue dreadful heresy is a dreadful heretic, and with malice, or rashness, those who'presume that the church of Rome shows no mercy to to differ from him ?" Yea, and what is most such: but may not real Protestants indulge extraordinary, those who agree with him in with the privilege of a felon, one whom they all essential points ? so lately respected as a brother? And may I. When, in an intricate case, a prudenter not I, an old friend and acquaintance of his, judge is afraid to pass an unjust sentence, be permitted to speak a word in bis favour, he inquires, as I observed, into the general before he his branded in the forehead, as he conduet of the person accused, and by that has already been on the back?
means frequently finds out the truth which he This step, I fear, will cost me my reputa. investigates. As that method may be of ser. tion (if I have any) and involve me in the vice in The present case, permit me, Sir, to same condemnation with him whose cause, lay before you a general view of Mr. W's together with that of truth, I design to plead : doctrine, But when humanity prompts, when gratitude 1. For above these sixteen years I have calls, when friendship excites, when reason heard him frequently in his chapels, and invites, when justice demands, when truth .sometimes in my church; I have familiarly requires, and conscience summons; he does conversed and corresponded with him, and not deserve the name of a Christian friend, have often perused his numerous works in who, for any consideration, hesitates to vin- verse and prose : and I can truly say, that dicate what he esteems truth, and to stand during all that time I have heard him, upon by an aggrieved friend, brother, and father. every proper occasion, steadily maintain the Were I not, Sir, on such an occasion as this, total fall of man in Adam, and his utter inato step out of my beloved obscurity, you bility to recover himself, or take any one might deservedly reproach me as a dastardly step towards his recovery, “ without the wretch: Nay, you have already done it in grace of God preventing him that he may general terms in your excellent sermon on the have a good will, and working with him fear of man. “How often,” say you,“do men when he has that good will." sneakingly forsake their friends, instead of The deepest expressions that ever struck gloriously supporting them against a power- my ears, on the melancholy subject of our ful adversary, even when their cause is just, natural depravity and helplessness, are those for reasons nastily prudential, for fear of which dropped from his lips : and I have giving umbrage to a superior party or inter- ever observed that he constantly ascribes to
divine grace, not only the good works and These generous words of your's, Rev. Sir, holy tempers of believers, but all the good together with the leave you give both churché thoughts of upright Heathens, and the good men and dissenters, to direct to you their desires of those professors whom he sees begin answers to your circular Letter, are my ex- in the Spirit and end in the Aesh ; when, to cuse for intruding upon you by this epistle, my great surprise, some of those who accuse and my apology for begging your candid him of “ robbing God of the glory of his attention, while I attempt to convince you grace, and ascribing too much to man's pow. that my friend's principles and Minutes are er," directly or indirectly maintain, that Denot heretical : in order to this, I shall lay mas and his fellow apostates never had any before you, and the principal persons both grace; and that if once they went on far in Clergy and Laity, whom you have from the ways of God, it was merely by the force all parts of England and Wales convened at of fallen nature; a sentiment which Mr. W. Bristol by printed letters :
looks upon as diametrically opposite to the 1. A general view of the Rev. Mr. Wesley's humbling assertion of our Lord, Without doctrine.
me ye can do nothing,” and which he can no faith, as may enable them continually to trimore admit than the rankest Pelagianism. umph in Christ, as being made to them of
2. I must likewise testify that he faith- God, sanctification, as well as righteousfally points out Christ as the only way of salvation; and strongly recommends faith as the It is, I grant, his misfortune (if indeed it only means of receiving him, and all the be- is one) to preach a fuller salvation than nefits of his righteous life and meritorious most professors expect to enjoy here; for he death: aud truth obliges me to declare, asserts that Jesus can make clean the inside, that he frequently expresses his detestation as well as the outside, of his vessels unto of ihe errors of modern Pharisees, who laugh honour ; that “ he hath power on earth to at Original sin, set up the powers of fallen save his people from their sins,” and that man, cry down the operations of God's Spirit, his blood cleanses from all sin, from the deny the absolute necessity of the blood and guilt and defilement both of original and acturighteousness of Christ, and refuse him the al corruption. He is bold enough to declare glory of all the good that may be found in with St. John, “ that if we say we have no Jew or Gentile. And you will not without sin," either by nature or practice, "we de. difficulty, Sir, find in England, and perhaps ceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us; in all the world, a minister who hath borne but if we confess our sins, God is faithful more frequent testimonies, either from the and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse pulpit or the press, against those dangerous us from all unrighteousness.” He is legal
All his works confirm my assertion, enough not to be ashamed of these words of especially his sermons on Original Sin, and Moses. 6. The Lord thy God will circumcise salvation by faith, and his masterly refuta- thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love tion of Dr. Taylor, the wisest Arian, Pela- the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with gian, and Socinian of our age. Nor am I all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” And he afraid to have this testimony confronted with dares to believe that the Lord can perform bis Minutes, being fully persuaded that, the words which he spoke by Ezekiel : “ I when they are candidly explained, they ra- will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you ther confirm than overthrow it.
shall be clean; from all your filthiness, His preaching of the fall and the l'ecovery and from all your idols will I cleanse you. is attended with a peculiar advantage, it is A new heart also will I give you; I will close and experimental : he not only points take away the stony heart out of your flesh, out the truth of those doctrines, but presses and I will give you an heart of flesh : and I his hearers to cry to God that they may feel will put my spirit within you, and cause you their weight upon their hearts. Some open to walk in my statutes; and ye shall keep my those great truths very clearly, but let their judgments and do them. I will also save congregations rest, like the stony ground you from all your uncleannesses." Hence it hearers, in the first emotions of sorrow and is that he constantly exhorts bis hearers to joy which the word frequently excites. Not grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our s0 Mr. Wesley; he will have true penitents Saviour; till by a strong and lively faith “ feel the plague of their own hearts, travail, they can continually “reckon themselves to be heavy laden, and receive the sentence of be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God death in themselves, according to the glorithrough Jesus Christ our Lord :" he tells them ous ministration of condemnation :" and " “that he who committeth sin is the servant cording to the spirit which exceeds in glory.” at sin.”—That “our old man is crucified with He insists upon true believers knowing for Christ, that the body of sin might be destroythemselves that Jesus hath power on earth to ed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” forgive sins, and asserts that they taste the That “if the Son shall make them free, they good word of God and the powers of the shall be free indeed.”—And that, although world to come, aud that they are made par- the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, takers of the Holy Ghost and the divine will not deliver them from the innocent infirnature; the Spirit itself bearing witness with mities incident to flesh and blood, it will netheir spirit that they are the children of God. vertheless make them free from the law of sin
3. The next fundamental doctrine in and death, and enable them to say with holy Christianity, is that of Holiness of heart and triumph, “ How shall we that are dead to life ; and no one can here accuse Mr. W. of sin live any longer therein ?" In a word, be leaning to the Antinomian delusion, which thinks that God can so shed abroad his love makes void the law through a speculative in our bearts by the Holy Ghost given unto and barren faith. On the contrary, he ap- us, as to sanctify us wholly, soul, body,'and pears to be peculiarly set for the defence of spirit ; and enable us to rejoice evermore, practical religion ; for, instead of represente pray without ceasing, and in every thing give ing Christ as the minister of sin, with Ran. thanks. And he is persuaded that he whi. ters, to the great grief and offence of many, can do far exceeding abundantly above all he sets him forth as a complete Saviour from that we can ask or think, is able to fill us sin. Not satisfied to preach holiness begun, with the perfect love which casts out fear; he preaches finished holiness and calis be- that we, being delivered out of the hands of lievers to such a degree of heart-purifying our enenies, may have the mind that was in
Christ, be righteous as the man Jesus' was
quences, which some account dreadful heresies. righteous, walk as he also walked; and be He asserts with St. Paul, “ that Christ, by in our measure as he was in the world; he the grace of God, tasted death for every man ; as the stock of the tree of righteousness, and and this grace he calls free, as extending it. we as the branches, having our fruit froin self freely to all. Nor can he help expreshim unto holiness, and serving God without sing his surprise at those pious ministers, fear in true righteousness all the days of our who maintain that the Saviour keeps his life.
grace, as they suppose he keeps his blood, This he sometimes calls full Sanctification, from the greatest part of mankind, and yet the state of fathers in Christ, or the glorious engross to themselves the title of preuchers of liberty of the children of God; sometimes, a free grace! being strengthened, stablished, and settled
i He frequently observes with the same or being rooted and grounded in love : þut Apostle, that " Christ is the Saviour of all most commonly he calls it Christian Perfec. men, but especially of them that believe ;" tion ; a word which though used by the apos. and that“ God will have all men to be saved," tles in the same sense, cannot be used by him consistently with their moral agency, and without raising the pity or indigoation of one the tenor of his gospel. half of the religious world ; some making it With St. John he maintains, that “ God is the subject of their pious sneers, and godly Love," and that “ Christ is the propitiation lampoons ; while others tell you roundly not only for our sins, but also for the sins of
they abhor it above every thiug in the crea- the whole world;" with David he affirms, tion." Tantawene animis cælestibus iro. that “God's mercy is over all bis works :"
On account of tbis doctrine it is that he is and with St. Peter, that “the Lord is not traduced as a Pharisee, a Papist, an Anti, willing that any should perish, but that all christ; some of his opposers taking it for should come to repentance;" yea, that God, granted that he makes void the priestly of, w without hypocrisy,
6 commandeth all men, fice of Christ, by affirming that his blood every where, to repent.”. Accordingly he says can so completely wash us,
here from our with the Son of God, “Whosoever will, let sins, that at death we shall be found of hin him come and take of the water of life freely, in peace, without spot, wrinkle, or any such and after his blessed example, as well as by thing; while others, to colour their opposi, his gracious command, he “preaches the tion to the many scriptures which he brings gospel to every creature ;" which he appreto support this unfashionable doctrine, give bends would be inconsistent with common it out that he only wants the old man so re, honesty, if there was not a gospel for every fined in all his lempers, and regulated in all creature. Nor can he doubt of it in the least his outward behaviour, as to appear perfect when he considers that Christ is a king as in the flesh; or, in other terms, that he sets well as a priest, that we are under a law to up pharisaic self, instead of Christ complete. Him, that those men who will not have him ly formed in us as the full hope of glory. to reign over them, shall be brought and But I must (for one) do him the justice to slain before him; yea, that He will judge the say he is misapprehended, and that what he secrets of men, according to St. Paul's gos calls perfection, is nothing but the rich clus. pel, and take vengeance of all thein that ter of all the spiritual blessings promised to obey not his own gospel, and be the author believers in the gospel; and, among the rest, of eternal salvation to none but them that a continual sense of the virtue of Christ's obey him. With this principle, as with a atoning and purifying blood, preventing, both key given us by God bimself, he opens those old guilt from returning, and new guilt frong things which are hard to be understood in the fastening upon
the conscience; together epistles of St. Paul, and which they that are with the deepest consciousness of our help- unlearned add unstable wrest, as they do lessness and nothingness in our best estate, some other scriptures, if not to their own the most endearing discoveries of the Re- destruction, at least to the overthrowing of deemer's love, and the most humbling and the faith of some weak Cbristians, and the yet ravisbing views of his glorious fuiness: bardening of many, very many infidels. witness these lines which conclude one of his As a true Son of the Church of England, favourite hymns on that subject.
he believes that Christ redeemed hinu and alí
mankind; that for us men, and not merely Confound, o'erpower me with thy grace;
for the elect, “ he came dowu from heaven, I would be by myself abhor'd:
and made upon the cross, a full, perfect, and (All might, all majesty, all praise, All glory be to Christ my Lord.).
sufficient sacritice, oblation, and satisfaction,
for the sins of the whole world.” Now let ine gain perfectioii's height, Now let me in to nothing fall..
honest man, and yet a man of sense, he so Be less than nothing in my sight,
şubscribed the 17th Article as not to reject And feel that Christ is all in all,
the 31st, which he thinks of equal force, and
much more explicit: and therefore, as the 4. But this is not all: he holds also a Ge. 17th, Article authorises him, he “ receives neral Redemption, and its necessary consea God's promises in such wise as they are
jecting, after the example of our Governors any
edification in the entiese be debes ont see that in Church and State the Lambeth Articles, Testament, ever used it, he is afraid to be in which the doctrine of absolute, unconditionhumble and wise above what is written, lest voal election and reprobation was mantained, luntary humility should introduce refined pride and which some Calvinist Divines in the before he is aware. Doubting therefore days of Queen Elizabeth, vainly attempted to whether he can say, Why me? Why me? impose upon these kingdoms, by adding them without the self-pleasing
idea of his being
sal , :
neral Redemption, Mr. W. lays down two axi-
of God's gracious offers, refuse to occupy,
, and act the part of the sloth-
, the freedom of our choice; and he has saved.”-No man cometh unto me except the
he And the second axiom he founds upon such
'Quench not the Spirit.”—“My Spirit shall bad man without free-will.
not always strive with man.”—“ Turn why Nor will I conceal that I never heard him will ye die !”-“ Kiss the son lest ye use that favourite expression of some good perish."-" I gave Jezebel time to repent, men, Why me? Why me? Though he is not and she repented not.”—“ The goodness of at all against their using it, if they can do it God leads, N. B. not drags, thee to repent
ance, who after thy hardness and impenitent now ready;" but with him he adds also acheart treasurest up wrath unto thyself.”— cording to the second, Come, lest you never “ Their eyes have they closed lest they taste the gospel feast. Thinking it extremely should see and be converted, and I should dangerous not to divide the word of God heal them.”_" See that ye refuse not him aright, be endeavours to give to every one the that speaketh from heaven.”—“I set before portion of it that suits him, cutting according you life and death, choose life !”—“ Ye will to times, persons, and circumstances, either not come unto me that ye might have life.”- with the smooth or the rough edge of his two“I would have gathered you, and ye would edged sword. Therefore when he addresses not.” &c. &c.
those that are steady, and partakers of the As to the Moral Agency of man, Mr. W. gospel grace from the first day until now, as thinks it cannot be denied upon the princi- the Philippians, he makes use of the first ples of common sense, and civil government, principle, and testifies his confidence that he much less upon those of natural and reveal. who hath begun a good work in them will ed religion; as nothing would be more abe perform it until the day of Christ. But surd than to bind us by laws of a civil or spi- when he expostulates with persons that ran ritual nature ; nothing more foolish than to well, and do not now obey the truth, accord. propose to us punishments and rewards; and ing to his second axiom, he says to them, as nothing more capricious than to inflict the St. Paul did to the Galatians," I stand in one or bestow the other upon us; if we were doubt of you ; ye are fallen from grace.” not Moral Agenls.
In short, he would think that be mangled He is therefore persuaded the most com- the gospel, and forgot part of his awful complete system of divinity is that in which nei- mission, if when he has declared that he who ther of those two axioms is superseded : it is believeth shall be saved, he did not also add, bold and unscriptural to set up the ove at the that he who believeth not shall be damned ; expense of the other ; the Prophets, the or, which is the same, that none perish merely Apostles and Jesus Christ left us no such pre- for Adam's sin, but for their own unbelief, cedent;, and to avoid what is termed legality, and wilful rejection of the Saviour's grace, we must not run into refinements which they Thus he advances God's glory every way, knew nothing of, and make them perpetually entirely ascribing to his mercy and grace all contradict themselves : nor can we without the salvation of the elect, and completely an open violation of the laws of candour and freeing him from the blame of directly or incriticism, lay a greater stress upon a few ob- directly hanging the mill-stone of damnation scure and controverted passages, than upon about the neck of the reprobate. And this be an hundred plain and irrefragable scripture effectually does by showing that the former proofs. He therefore supposes that those owe all they are, and all they have to create persons are under a capital mistake, who ing, preserving, and redeeming love, whose maintain only the first Gospel-axiom, and innumerable bounties they freely and continunder pretence of securing to God all the glo- ually receive; and that the rejection of the ry of the salvation of one elect, give to per. latter has absolutely no cause but their obstihaps twenty reprobates full room to lay all nate rejecting of that astonishing mercy the blame of their damnation, either upon which wept over Jerusalem ; and prayed, their first parents, or their Creator. This and bled even for those that shed the atoning way of making twenty real holes, in order to blood ;-the blood that expiated all sin but stop a supposed one, he cannot see consistent that of final unbelief. either with wisdom or scripture.
I have now finished my sketch of Mr. W's Thinking it therefore safest not to put doctrine, so far as it has fallen under my obasunder the truths which God has joined servation during above sixteen years particu. together, he makes all extremes meet in one lar acquaintance with bim and his works ; it blessed scriptural medium. With the Anti- is not my design, Sir, to inquire into the nomian he preaches, “ God worketh in you truth of his sentiments, much less shall I both to will and to do of bis good pleasure ;" attempt to prove them orthodox, according and with the Legalist he cries, “ Work out to the ideas that some real Protestants entertherefore your own salvation with fear and tain of orthodoxy. This only I beg leave to trembling ;” and thus he has all St. Paul's observe, suppose he is mistaken in all the doctrine. With the Ranter be says, “God scriptures on which he founds his doctrine of has chosen you, you are elect ;” but as it is Christian Perfection and General Redemption,
through sanctification of the Spirit, and be- yet his mistakes seem rather to arise from a lief of the truth," with the disciples of regard for Christ's glory, than from enmity to Moses he ipfers, “Make your calling and his offices; and altogether do not amount to election sure, for if ye do these things ye any heresy at all; the fundamental doctrines shall never fall.” Thus he presents his of christianity, namely, the fall of man, jushearers with all St. Peter's system of truth, tification by the merits of Christ, sanctitica. which the others had rent in pieces.
tion by the agency of the Holy Spirit, and Again, according to the first axiom he says the worship of the one true God'i with the perfect preacher. “ All things are terious distinction of Father, Son, and Holy