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tion, He does not wish should take place. The absurdity of such a supposition, which makes the GOD of truth contradict himself, need not be pointed out.

Once again; our Saviour, to the question put to him, “ LORD, are there few that be saved?” returned the following answer: "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."* On this head common sense teaches us to reason thus. Upon the supposition that there was an arbitrary decree of God, ascertaining the number, and determining individually the persons, who shall be saved; this direction of our SAVIOUR was both vain and useless; because no striving of man could, in this case, produce any alteration in his condition. To direct a man to strive, when, in consequence of his fate being determined by an over-ruling power, striving could answer no pur. pose, would be something like locking a man up in prison, and calling upon him to come forth, while

kept the key of the prison-door in your pocket. But if we read the whole of our SAVIOUR's an. fwer on this occasion, we shall be convinced that the inability of the parties to enter in at the strait gate, did not arise from any decree of God against them, but from defect in themselves. They had refused to enter in till the gate was shut; or fought to enter in, without having gained the victory over their spiritual enemies.* No grace of God was wanting in this case, but holiness in man. The parties excluded might have entered in, had they been qualified for admission; but they were, as we read v. 27, “ work. ers of iniquity.”

* Luke xiii. 24,

To enter at large into the confutation of a doctrine which carries its own condemnation upon the face of it, would be a waste of time. ' Upon this idea wę decline a particular confideration of those texts, which have been at different times fo grossly misapplied to this subject; choosing rather to build what may be faid upon it, on the general design of the Gospel revelation ; from the consideration, that where that is

* The original word bere made use of by the Evangelist, shews that it requires great constancy, diligence, and courage; a sharp conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil, to succeed in entering through the strait gate into life eternal. The word fignifies to strive to agony, with the utmost resolution, and with every faculty of body and mind. From whence we conclude, that something is left for man to do in this case. The gate of eternal life is opened to him by Christ, but the Christian must so strive as to become qualified for admission into it; otherwise, though he should seek to enter, he shall not be able."

once understood, the meaning of particular passages in it will be less liable to doubtful interpretation.' And though this method does not give an answer to every cavil and objection, which enthusiasm and error have brought forward; yet it furnishes the considerate Christian with that standard of judgment, by which every doctrine belonging to the religious system may be so measured, as to enable him to build his conclulion upon it on the most rational foundation.

The grace of God to man in the Gospel revelation, teaches him to

deny ungodliness and wordly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.” Whatever man, therefore, has received the Gospel in the truth and spirit of it, must manifeft its effects in his life and conversation; from whence the following axiom is deducible, that no found member of the church can be a bad member of society. A doctrine, then, which tends to weaken the obligation to repentance and newness of life; which supports the finner with a false hope, or lulls him into a fatal security; which proves destructive of one great end of CHRIST's death unto fin, namely, the reformation of the finner; thereby counteracting one great object of the Gospel revelation ;-cannot be a doctrine that cometh from God.

That the doctrine of absolute decrees produces this effect is certain, from the conclusion too generally drawn from it; the professors of it for the most part depending for salvation through Christ upon the strength of a positive and irrevocable decree in their favour, antecedent to their birth, and not dependent on their actions; the too general consequence of which has been, that instead of adorning the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things, which Christians are called upon to do, many have been led to disgrace it.

The remark of ERASMUS, the strenuous and unanswerable opposer of this doctrine, was this; “ Of old (faid he) the Gospel made men better; but the new pretended gospel made them much worse." And in another epistle upon the fame subject he wrote still more strongly: « This new gospel (says he) founded upon the doctrine of absolute decrees, has produced a new generation of obstinate, impudent, hypocritical people, who are revilers, liars, deceivers; and who do not agree among themselves, and are very uneasy to others; who are seditious, furious, given to cavilling; and with whom I am so much diffatisfied, that if I knew any town where none of them were, I would go thither, and choose to live in it,”

This decisive judgment of Erasmus upon the effects produced by the doctrine here alluded to, brings to my mind the answer 'made by an eminent preacher of it to fome brethren who were enquiring into the success of his ministry. “ I have made (replied he) many proselytes, and have a very full congregation; but (continued the preacher) all the effect I have found is, that I have preached a congregation of Christians into a congregation of devils."

I would not be understood as adopting all the harsh expressions that have been at different times made use of upon this subject; because, at any rate, the application of them does not belong to the wellmeaning among

these mistaken people; but my object is to point out the general ill effect of the doctrine itself. And so long as it tends to cherish an idea, that falvation through Christ is a thing independent of the personal condition of the party; the fore. going language made use of by Erasmus, and the preacher, is not, so far as those persons are concerned, in whose mind such an idea prevails, too strong for it. So long as it shall be maintained to be found doctrine, that the true faints of God, as they are called, may commit horrible and crying fins, die without repen. tance, and yet be sure of salvation; we ministers are

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