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a particular case told Abraham, that he had made him a father of many nations, when he was not then the father of but one child ; and that one was not to be the one from which they were to arise. Query: How could the Lord then speak the truth? The apostle tells us it was so before God, who calleth things that are not, as though they were. God sees all eternity at one view, and has all power in his hands : there is nothing too hard for him, who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. Therefore he says 10 Abraham, “I have made thee a firm promise, which shall be fulfilled. It is my firm decree, that shall not pass ; and by that I have made thee a father of many nations. As I have purposed, so shall it stand.” And so have we seen it come to pass.
It is the same with the expression concerning Christ, who is called the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world : that is, it was so in God's appointment, which was unalterably fixed. Abraham. Isaac, and Jacob, and all the patriarchs and Old Testament saints, believed the promise, and lived by the faith. Accordingly this promise has since come to pass, in conformity to God's decree.
But Mr. Wesley argues, because the Lord hath established things so firmly by his decree, that he can, and does, call things that are not, as though they were, and afterwards brings them to pass just as he had before promised ; and because he hath exemplified this truth in the case of Abraham and Jesus Christ : therefore it cannot be possible that the Lord told the truth, or at least meant what he said, when he declared that some men were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy, or regenerated and saved. Or, because God has told the truth in these instances, it cannot be possible that he can deter. mine to create men, and in due tine, convict those men of their sin and danger, convert their souls, and take them to heaven.
We appeal to any impartial man of common sense, who has ever read Wesley's Discipline, if the above is not the amount of his reasoning.* He says,
in one of bis notes on the New Testament, that every unregenerated man, in spiritual things walketh in darkness ; that his. mind or understanding is veiled ; that the veil is not so much as folded back, so as to admit the ļeast ray of light. And well did Mr. Wes. ley know this to be a truth, or he never would have attempted to impose on them with such reasoning as this.
Secondly. But this is not all the sophistry ; there is more which is still worse. In the 13ti and 14th paragraphs of the same section, when Mr. Wesley found himself evidently teaching that salvation was of works, (a doctrine highly reprobated both by the Scriptures and by all Protestants,) he turns his logic, and makes a
* See Dis, section iii.
curious shift to get clear of the difficulty. He says :
“But here some may object, that I hold our faith and obedience to be the cause of God's electing us to glory. I answer-I do hold that faith in Christ is a cause without which God elects none to glory ; for we never read of God's electing to glory any who lived and died a disobedient unbeliever. But I do not hold, that it is the cause for which he elects any. The contrary is easily shown thus :
Suppose my obedience is the cause of my election to salvation—what is the cause of my obedience ?- Answer ; my love to Christ.
“ What is the cause of my love to Christ? Answer; my faith in Christ.
“ But what is the cause of my faith in Christ? -Answer; the preaching of the gospel of Christ,” &c.
At the bottom of the page he concludes in these words : “ Thus all men may see that I do not hold that God chose any man to life and salvation for any good which he had done, or for any which was in him before he put it
Throughout this section we shall be obliged to use great plainness of speech, that every reader
understand. We consider this necessary, because we deem many souls to be in jeopardy. Therefore, if the pious reader will bear with us, in view of this logic, we will relate an anecdote which much resembles Mr. Wesley's reasoping.
We remember to have heard of a man, (not famous for truth,) who was boasting of his art in building chimneys. He said, that the best chimney he ever built, he began at the top and built downwards. But, said a by-stander, upon what did you lay the first stone ? The other replied, I laid another under it. So Mr. Wesley has built a great fabric of salvation. But upon what does it all stand ? Upon our obedience. Yet in the same page he tells us, that no man has any obedience until God gives it to him. If so, God gives this obedience to one and not to another; and those that are lost, are left without this gift. Therefore obedience, faith, and all that belongs to salvation, must be founded upon the gift of God. In short, the explanation of the mason concerning his chimney, and Mr. Wesley of his doctrine, are much alike : they would be equally satisfactory to a man who did not reflect very far.
Again : observe his sophistry in saying, «I do hold that faith in Christ is a cause, without which God elects none to glory.” Here he jumbles the ideas of cause and effect together, as though he knew that most of his readers would not readily observe the difference ; and at the same time, he could carry a resemblance of truth, and the deception would not be readily discerned by the common reader: because it is agreed by us all, that no man ever went to heaven without faith and holiness. But Protestants say, that it is God who gives this faith and holiness, and gives it to whom he pleases. Therefore the Lord says, that he chose them from the beginning, that they should be holy. It is for that purpose that he awakens them at first, and causes them to seek salvation.
Thirdly. We find another inconsistency in the same section* of the Discipline. When Wesley was labouring to prove the doctrine of general atonement, or that Christ died for all men, he asserts that Christ did not die for the elect; and a little before he tells us, that all believers are the elect. According to him, Christ died for all men, but did not die for believers. Therefore, if any one desires to be benefited by the death of Christ, he must be careful not to become a believer ; because, according to Mr. Wesley's Discipline, then he will become one of the elect, and Christ did not die for them.
Besides, the whole of it is sophistry throughout. For he pretends to tell us, and founds his argument on the assertion, that the elect were not lost ; that they were not unjust ; that they were not dead in trespasses and sins, &c. But the word of God tells us, that they were by nature children of wrath, even as others.f And says again," you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.”| The apostle says, that the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus
* Gal. iii. 22.
+ Eph. ii. 3.
| Eph. ii, 1.