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called upon by our office to fay, that fuch a doctrine is not of God; because it teareth up the very foun dation of religion, induceth all manner of profanenefs in the world, and is exprefsly contrary to the whole current of scripture.

One of the old independents of the last century faid exprefsly," Let any true faint of GOD be taken away in the very act of any known fin, before it is poffible for him to repent, I make no doubt or fcruple of it, but he fhall as furely be faved, as if he had lived to have repented of it;" and he inftances in DAVID, in cafe he had been taken away, before he had repented of his adultery and murder. That fome modern teachers of this doctrine are not behind hand with the old independent just mentioned, there is but too much reason to fear.

The remark made, therefore, upon this fubject by an eminent bishop of our church, is not fo strictly confined to the wild fchifmatics of former days, as, for the credit of the prefent age, we could wish it was. "The fanatical fects (faid he) that sprang up in abundance, amid the confufions of the last century, had fo corrupted the word of God by their impure gloffes on

Bishop HURD. Sermons at Lincoln's-Inn.

the Gospel doctrine of grace, that the age became immoral on principle, and under the name of faints, engendered a hateful brood of profligate Antinomians, i. e. a fort of Chriftians, if they may be fo called, who turned the grace of GoD into licentiousness; and to magnify his goodnefs, very confcientiously tranfgreffed his laws. In a word, they taught that the elect were above ordinances, and might be faved without, nay in defiance of, the moral law."

Upon examining this doctrine clofely, the defor mity of which is fo ftriking, that it is a matter of aftonishment how it has ever gained credit in the world, we shall find it to be lefs built upon the word of fcripture, than upon the vain conceit of man; which renders him a mere paffive being in the work of falvation, and means of grace in a great measure useless institutions.

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The first imagination that poffeffes the mind of an ignorant man upon the fubject of the Divine decrees is, that in every thing relating to his falvation Gop muft work in him both to will and to do, and therefore he must wait GOD's time. This idea, though true in its proper fenfe, is carried by him to that extreme, that if he be called upon to attend his church, and put himself under the word; he will tell

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you, that means of grace can be of no ufe to him, till God fhail be pleased to open his heart. Should he be reminded, that the Gospel condition upon which he must expect to receive is, that he fhould afk; and that having the ufe of his legs, he is as able to walk to church as to any other place: his anfwer is, that he does not feel the will to do it; and that GOD will make " his people willing in the day of his power." Pf. cx. 3. In this confidence he lives an heathenish life, without GOD in the world, waiting for that compulfive act of Divine power, by which he is to be brought into a state of falvation.

Feeling at fome future period of his life, perhaps, fome more than common impreffion made upon him by religious fubjects, a fecond imagination takes poffeffion of his mind. Confidering this impreffion as the immediate operation of that Divine power, which he has been waiting to experience, he now perfuades himself that he is in the number of GOD's elect people, and that confequently his falvation is fecure. Upon his being reminded, that he that "thinketh he ftandeth, must take heed left he fall," his answer is, he cannot fall; for GOD will keep his elect from falling; He who has begun the work in them, will

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complete it; fo that the man who is once in a flate.

of falvation, must be always in it. When the cafe of DAVID, the man of God's own heart, is ftated to him; or the text quoted, where that chofen vessel ST. PAUL expreffes an apprehenfion, left " after all his preaching to others, he himself fhould be a caftaway," he has a reply fuited to the occafion; that upon the fuppofition that the elect may commit grievous fins, his comfort is, that their falvation cannot be endangered, because no act of man can render void the Divine purpose in his favour.

Thus then, under the impreffion of the first of thefe imaginations, the man neglects the use of the means of grace, upon the idea that his heart has not been opened by GOD to receive benefit from them; and because he has no power of himself to help himself, he cannot be perfuaded to make ufe of that power which God has given him. Under the impreffion of the second, the means of grace are oft times confidered by him to be of no confequence, from the conviction that his falvation is effectually secured.

I do not say that this doctrine is carried to the fame extent by every profeffor of it. Gop forbid it fhould. For there are degrees of folly, as there are degrees of wifdom; and no extraordinary cafe can

conftitute a proper ftandard for general application. But there is one inftance to be produced, which authorises my placing it in the light in which it is here placed, with the view of guarding my reader against it. One of my parishioners, who took his divinity, as many others perhaps may do, from fome old puritancal writers of the last century, rather than from the Bible, maintained, I am forry to think, the above doctrine in its fullest extent. He has been heard to fay, that should he kill a man to-day, he fhould certainly go to heaven to-morrow. His falvation, therefore, being, according to his own notion, perfectly fecured, religious ordinances, as means of grace, to him were useless. He acted, therefore, but in confiftence with his doctrine, when, instead of frequenting a place of public worship on Sundays, he was generally occu pied in attending his farm. But on this head we fhall only fay with SOUTH, that "what is nonsense upon a principle of reafon, will never be fense upon a principle of religion."

An additional anecdote, which furnishes a moft ftriking proof of the ill effect of this dangerous doctrine in another way, fhall be mentioned; because it has fallen within my own knowledge.

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