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God," why may, not a repetition of the same crimes be productive of similar effects ?
7. In the application of your discourse, in which you enumerate the utility of your doctrine, you conclude that your's is the only system which leads believers to trust in Jesus Christ for strength and support. Whereas we no more teach people to trust in any “ innate or imparted strength of our own, nor in" frames and feelings” for salvation, than Paul did when he said, “This is our rejoicing, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, we have had our conversation in the world.” A friend says to a drowning man, * Hold fast to my hand, and I will draw you from the water." Does the drowning man " save himself” in this instance, or does his friend deliver him? So the Lord Jesus saith to sinners, Repent, believe, love and obey, to the end of your pilgrimage, and you shall have everlasting life, I will give you a crown of life. To say that this doctrine leads to selfishness and to self-dependence, is to impeach the Lord Jesus, who is the author of it, with teaching mankind to trust in themselves. The scrip[ure doctrine of perseverance, which we advocate, asserts, that the grace of repentance, the power to believe, and the ability to love and obey, are all gratuitously bestowed upon man; so that, were they withheld, no one could make his calling and election suře. Every considerate mind will perceive that this doctrine secures to Jesus Christ the honour of giving eternal life to believers, and fixes
the shame of eternal death upon unbelievers themselves, which your new-fangled scheme charges upon God, which says, he fore-ordained their guilt and condemnation before the foundation of the world.
8. You likewise endeavour to shew the comfort which your doctrine affords to believers. And it is granted, that, if it presented any infallible marks by which a person might assure himself he is a true believer, he might derive some comfort from the consideration that he shall be finally happy. But if I mistake not, your doctrine affords no such evidence to the believing mind, except it be his doubts, fears, and sinfulness ; for you say, p. 117, "the holding out in a profession to the end of life, is no decided proof in our favour.” And in page 78, you suppose the penitent sinner to say, “ My conviction is no proof that I am to be converted.” Is this doctrine comforting? According to your “ view of the doctrine" of election and perseverance, no one can have any satisfactory evidence that he is a Christian this side the grave. For in order to know that he is one of the elect, he must first persevere to the end; because backsliding, or “ Not holding out to the end, in the profession of godliness, is a decided proof that he never knew the grace of God in truth," p. 117. And if a man does not know himself one of the elect, how can he take any comfort from the promises ? A reprobate certainly cannot derive solid comfort from the general promises of eternal life, even though he should believe him
self elected. According to your notion, therefore, all that the best can do in this life, is to conjecture. And is it comforting to have the soul continually harrassed with doubts and fears, and to be labouring under the galling yoke of sin all one's days? It is true you tell us that “ Christ's real friends love him, and keep his commandments ;'? but at another time you earnestly contend that no one does keep his commandments, but doth“ always sin in deed, word and thought.” From these contradictory assertions, what is the supposed Christian to conclude? He cannot believe in both propositions; and therefore it must be extremely difficult, if not utterly impossible, to determine whether he be a “real friend” to Christ, or only a boasting hypocrite.If he were to believe in the first, that he loves God, and keeps his commandments, he would no longer be a Hopkinsian ; and therefore, although he might enjoy comfort, it would not be in consequence of believing in your doctrine. If he believes in the latter, that he “ always sins,” he could have no just criterion to distinguish between his own character, and the character of a reprobate ; for the reprobate cannot do worse than sin " always in deed, word and thought.” So that, view your doctrine which way soever we may, it exhibits a dark and melancholy cloud to the human mind. Not so the true doctrines of Christianity. They declare that He that believeth hath the witness in himself-that, the Spirit itself beareth witness with their spirits, that they are the children of God--That they may know
they have passed
from death unto life, because they love the brethren. And if any should be sincerely mistaken respecting their present attainments, they are exhorted to search diligently into their own hearts, and never to rest satisfied until they have a satisfactory evidence of their acceptance in the belovedUntil they have an assurance of that peace of God which passeth all human understanding. They are authorised to believe, that Christ who is their life, is abundantly able, and willing to save them to the uttermost, even from all their sins, and to perfect them in love-That he is both able and willing to keep them from falling, (if they turn not again to folly) and to give them an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of God.
9. Your doctrine is as dangerous as it is comfortless. If the first act of divine grace is believed to be justification, and if, after a sinner has experienced light and conviction, he rests satisfied, believing he cannot so fall as to perish, and if he should be mistaken in his conclusion respecting his experience, (which I think you will allow is possible that he may be)-Admitting, I say, this to be the case, such a man is in iminent danger of eternal perdition. That your doctrine has this deceptive influence is evident; because you suppose all who are effectually called, are justified, and will be eventually glorified. But if you say it is not possible a man can be mistaken in regard to his call and experience, you thereby nulify all the cautions given in scripture against deception; and also overthrow all you have said respecting deceivers and being deceived. If a man then has one good desire after holiness, he is, according to your notion, sure of heaven. Is not this daubing sinners with untempered mortar, in the most important sense of the word? Moreover, by telling believers that they must live in sin all the days of their lives; that they may indulge in pride, impenitence, unbelief, or any other heart sin; or plunge into adultery, lying, and cheating, without endangering their salvation; and if after all, that doctrine should prove false, they are irretrievably gone. And the many serious cautions which are given in scripture against apostacy, renders it extremely probable, (and in my mind leaves no doubt) that one who is a believer now, may, through disobedience, so fall as to perish. So that there is not only a possibility, but a strong probability in favour of our sentiment. On this subject we may reason as Saurin does against infidelity. If there are five probabilities in favour of your sentiment, and only one in favour of ours, reason dictates that ours should be embraced; for if the one probability supposed to be in our favour should prove an impossibility; i. e. if our doctrine should be found erroneous, yours will hold us; but if your five probabilities should fail, while the believer is indulging in sin, according to the licence your doctrine gives him, he is gone forever. The reason of this will appear evident to every one who recollects, that we teach the necessity of justification by grace through faith