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On the Plea advanced by SEPARATISTS from
the Church, that the Gospel is not preached in it.
A FURTHER plea commonly advanced by Se;
paratists is, that the Gospel is not preached in our Church. Had it been said, that the Gospel of J. Calvin was not preached there, we should readily have pleaded guilty to the charge; but that the Gospel of JESUS CHRist is preached there, we certainly maintain, upon the authority of those. Scriptures from which it has been received.
The leading doctrine of Christ's Gospel, in the judgment of fome Christians, is, that it holds
out falvation to certain chofen individuals, exclusive of the general bulk of mankind. The doctrine of our church upon the subject is, that Christ died to pur, chase salvation for all men; all men, consequently, are interested in that great event, though all men will not be in a condition to be benefited by it. The notion of partial salvation is founded upon certain
supposed absolute decrees; of which some preachers talk much, but confessedly know nothing. The doctrine of general salvation, by which we mean salvation attainable by all men upon certain conditions, is founded upon the general scope and tenour of the holy writings, supported by particular passages direct to this purpose.
ST. JOHN, speaking of Jesus Christ the rightedus, stiles him “ the propitiation fof dut fins; and fiot för burs only, but also for the fins of the whole world. 1 John ii. 2. It was the observation of St. Peter, upon his eyes being opened tô the general design of the Gospel dispensation, “ That Göd is ha respecter of person's: blat in every hátich, he that fear: eth Him, and worketh rightedufress; is accepted with Him.” Acts x. 34. But the doctrine of J. CALVIN makes God the greatest respecter of persons; and thật in a matter of the most effential importance.
In another part of the facred writings, we are told by God himself, that'" He has no pleasure in the death of liim that dieth, but that he should return from his evil way, and live.” Eżek. xvii. 32.
But according to J. CALVIN, God has defér. mined, by an absolute decree, an event, which at the fame time, in conformity with the foregoing declara
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 tliere few that be saved?” re. turned the following answer: “ Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many will seek to enter in, and fhall not be able."*, On this head common sense teaches us to reason thus. Upon the supposition that there was an arbitrary decree of God, ascertain ing 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 pura pose, would be something like locking a man up
in prison, and calling upon him to come forth, while you kept the key of the prison-door in your pocket.
But if we read the whole of our SAVIOUR's answer on this occasion, we shall be convinced that the inability of the parties to enter in at the strait gate,
* Luke xiii. 24.
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, “ workers of iniquity.”
• 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 we decline a particular consideration of those texts, which have been at different times so grossly 'misapplied to this subject; choosing rather to build what may be said upon it, on the general design of the Gospel revelation;
from the consideration, that where that is
* The original word here made use of by the Evangelist, shews that it requires great conftancy, 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 Gignifies 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.”'