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into Scotland, and warmly recommended. Why have you done this ? “Because you have concealed your principles, which is palpably dishonesty."
When I was first invited into Scotland, (about fourteen years ago) Mr. Whitefield told me, “You have no business there: for your principles are so well known, that if you spoke like an angel, none would hear you. And if they did, you would have nothing to do but to dispute with one and another from morning to night.'
I answered, “If God sends me, people will hear. And I will give them no provocation to dispute : for I will studiously avoid controverted points, and keep to the fundamental truths of Christianity. And if any still begin to dispute, they may: but I will not dispute with them.' I came. Hundreds and thousands flocked to hear.
But I was enabled to keep my word. I avoided whatever might engender strife, and insisted upon the grand points, the religion of the heart, and salvation by faith, at all times, and in all places. And by this means, I have cut off all occasion of dispute, from the first day to this very hour.
hour. And this you amazingly improve into a fault: construe into a proof of dishonesty. You likewise charge me with holding unsound principles, and with saying, “right opinions are (sometimes) no part of religion.'
The last charge l' have answered over and over, and very lately to Bishop Warburton. Certainly had you read that single tract, yout would never have repeated that stale objection.
As to my principles, every one knows, or may know, that I believe the thirty-first article of the Church of England. But can none be saved who believe this? I know you will not say so. Meantime. in the main point, justification by faith, I have not wavered a moment for these seven and twenty years.
And I allow all which Mr. Hervey himself contends for, in his entrance upon the subject, “Come to Jesus as a needy beggar: hang upon him as a devoted pensioner." And whoever does this, I will be bold to say, shall not perish everlastingly.
As to your main objection, convince me that it is my duty to preach on controverted subjects, predestination in particular, and I will do it. At present, I think it would be a sin. I think it would create still more divisions. And are there not enough already! I have seen a book, written by one who styles himself Eçclesiæ direptæ er gementis Presbyter. Shall I tear ecclesiam direptam et gementem? God forbid ! No; I will, so far as I can, heal her breaches. And if you really love her, (as I doubt not you do) why should you hinder me from so doing? Has she so many friends and helpers left, that you should strive to lessen their number ? Would you wish to turn any of her friends, even though weak and mistaken, into enemies? If you must contend, have you not Arians, Socinians, Seceders, Infidels, to contend with ? To say nothing of whoremongers, adultercrs, sabbath-breakers, drunkards, common swearers! O ecclesia gemens ! And will you pass by all these, and single out me to fight with?
Nay, but I will not. I do and will fight with all these, but not wit]ı you. I cannot: I dare not. You are the son of my Father; my fellow-labourer in the gospel of his dear Son. I love your person : I love your character: I love the work wherein you are engaged. And if you will still shoot at me, (because Mr. Hervey has painted me as a monster) even with arrows drawn from Bishop Warburton's quiver, (how unfit for Mr. —'s hand !) I can only say, as I always did before, the Lord Jesus bless you in your soul, in your body, in your relations, in your work, in whatever tends to his own glory!
I am, dear Sir,
March 28, 1768 REV. SIR,
1. 1. YOUR charges, published five years ago, I did not see till yesterday. In the fourth I am unconcerned. The three former I purpose now to consider: and I do it the more cheerfully, because they are written with such seriousness as becomes the importance of the subject, and with less tartness than I am accustomed to expect from opponents of every kind.
2. But before I enter on the subject, suffer me to remove a stumbling-block or two out of the way. You frequently charge me with evasion : and others have brought the same charge. The plain case is this: I have written on various heads, and always as clearly as I could. Yet many have misunderstood my words, and raised abun. dance of objections. I answered them, by explaining myself, show. ing what I did not mean, and what I did. One and another of the objectors stretched his throat, and cried out, “Evasion ! Evasion!" And what does all this outcry amount to ? Why exactly thus much. They imagined they had tied me so fast, that it was impossible for me to escape. But presently the cobwebs were swept away, and I was quite at liberty. And I bless God I can unravel truth and falsehood, although artfully twisted together. Of such evasion, I am not ashamed. Let them be ashamed who constrain me to use it.
3. You charge me likewise, and that more than once or twice, with maintaining contradictions. I answer, 1. If all my sentiments were compared together, from the year 1725 to 1768, there would
be truth in the charge: for during the latter part of this period, I have relinquished several of my former sentiments. 2. During these last thirty years, I may have varied in some of my sentiments or expressions without observing it. 3. I will not undertake to defend all the expressions which I have occasionally used during this time : but must desire men of candour to make allowance for those,
Quas aut incuria fudit,
Aut humana parum cavit natura. 4. It is not strange if among these inaccurate expressions, there are some seeming contradictions : especially considering I was answering so many different objectors, frequently attacking me at once: and one pushing this way, another that, with all the violence they were able. Nevertheless, 5. I believe there will be found few, il any, real contradictions, in what I have published for near thirty years.
5. I come now to your particular objections. I begin with the subject of your third charge, Assurances : because what I have to say upon this head, will be comprised in few words. Some are fond of the expression, I am not : 1 hardly ever use it.
But I will simply declare (having neither leisure nor inclination to draw the sword of controversy concerning it) what are my present sentiments with regard to the thing, which is usually meant thereby.
I believe a few, but very few Christians have an assurance from God of everlasting salvation : and that is the thing which the apostle terms the plerophory, or full assurance of hope.
I believe more have such an assurance of being now in the favour of God, as excludes all doubt and fear. And this, if I do not mistake, the apostle means by the plerophory, or full assurance of faith.
I believe a consciousness of being in the favour of God, (which I do not term plerophory, or full assurance, since it is frequently weakened, nay, perhaps interrupted, by returns of doubt or fear,) is the common privilege of Christians, fearing God and working righteous
Yet I do not afirm, there are no exceptions to this general rule. Possibly some may be in the favour of God, and yet go mourning all the day long. (But I believe this is usually owing either to disorder of body, or ignorance of the gospel promises.)
Therefore I have not for many years thought a consciousness of acceptance to be essential to justifying faith.
And after I have thus explained myself, once for all, I think without any evasion or ambiguity, I am sure without any self-contradiction, I hope all reasonable men will be satisfied. And whoever will still dispute with me on this head, must do it for disputing's sake.
II. 1. In your first charge you undertake to prove, that “Christianity does not reject the aid of human learning." p. 1.
B - thinks it does. But I am not accountable for him, from whom in this I totally differ. Yet you certainly include me when you say, “These new reformers maintain, that every believer who has the gift of utterance, is qualified to preach the gospel,” (p.
2.) I never maintained this. On many occasions I have maintained quite the contrary. I never said, “Human learning is an impediment to a divine, which will keep him from the knowledge of the truth,” (p. 3.) When, therefore, you say, “ The contempt with: which these men treat human learning,” (ib.) you do me much injustice: as likewise when you say, “ They agree that human learning is of no use at all to a preacher of the gospel.” I do not agree with any who speak thus. Yet you cite my own writings to prove it. (Farther Appeal, Part III.) If 'I say any such thing either there or any where else, let me bear the blame for ever.
2. For my deliberate thoughts on human learning, I appeal to my Serious Address to the Clergy. I there lay down ex professo the qualifications, the learning in particular, which (as I apprehend) overy clergyman who can have, ought to have. And if any who are educated at the university have it not, they are inexcusable before God and man.
To put this matter beyond dispute, I appeal to something more than words. Can any man seriously think, I despise learning, who has ever heard of the school at Kingswood ? Especially if he knows. with how much care, and expense, and labour, I have kept it on foo: for these twenty years ? Let him but read the Rules of Kingswood School,” and he will urge this objection no more.
3. But you “employ illiterate preachers.” I cannot answer this better, than by transcribing the very page to which you refer.
* • It will easily be observed, that I do not depreciate learning ot any kind. The knowledge of the languages is a valuable talent; 50 is the knowledge of the arts and sciences. Both the one and the other may be employed to the glory of God, and the good of men. But yet I ask, Where hath God declared in his word, that he cannot, or will not make use of men that have it not ? Has Moses, 01 any of the prophets affirmed this? Or our Lord, or any of his apostles? You are sensible, all these are against you. You know the apostles themselves, all except St. Paul, were aropes ayemuus et xet ir wtal, common, unphilosophical, unlettered men.'
4. Suffer me to add that paragraph, from which you strangely in. ter, that I hold learning to be of “no use at all to a preacher.”
I am bold to affirm, that these unlettered men have help front God for that great work, the saving souls from death ; seeing he hath enabled, and doth enable them still, to turn many to righteousness Thus hath he destroyed the wisdom of the wise, and brought to naught the understanding of the prudent. When they imagined the
ad effectually shut the door, and blocked up every passage, whereby any help could come to two or three preachers, weak in body as well as soul; who, they might reasonably believe would, humanlı speaking, wear themselves out in a short time : when they had gained their point, by securing (as they supposed) all the men of learning in the nation; he that sitteth in heaven laughed them to scorn, and
* My words are marked with single commas.
came upon them by a way they thought not of. Out of the stones he raised up those who should beget children to Abraham. We had no more foresight of this than you. Nay, we had the deepest prejudices against it: until we could not but own, that God gave wisdom from above to these unlearned and ignorant men; so that the work of the Lord prospered in their hand, and sinners were daily converted to God.
• Indeed, in the one thing which they profess to know, they are not ignorant men. I trust there is not one of them who is not able to go through such an examination, in substantial, practical, experimnental divinity, as few of our candidates for holy orders, even in the university, (I speak it with sorrow and shame, and in tender love,) are able to do. But, oh! what manner of exanıination do most of those candidates go through? And what prooi are the testimonials commonly brought, (as solemn as the form is wherein they run,) either of the piety or knowledge of those to whom are intrusted those sheep which God hath purchased with his own blood ?
5. Yet you cite this very paragraph to prove that I “ intimate the help which these illiterate men receive from God, is such as will enable them to preach Christ's gospel, without reading the Scriptures.' (p. 9.) Adding, “St. Paul's command to Timothy is a sufficient confutation of this groundless, or rather impious pretence.” I cannot: conceive, how you could imagine those words to intimate any such thing. Be this pretence whose it will, it is none of mine ; it never entered into my thoughts.
6. But there are in the Scriptures things hard to be understood.' And is every unlettered mechanic able to explain them?” (p. 11.) No surely. But may we not likewise ask, Is every clergyman able to explain them? You will not affirm it. However, " they are the safest guides, who from their childhood have known the holy Scriptures, and have diligently and faithfully made use of all the helps to understand them, which a liberal education has put into their hands; who have given attendance to reading, have meditated on those things, and have given themselves wholly to them,” p. 11.
Certainly these are the safest guides. But how many, Sir, do you know of these? Suppose there are thirty thousand clergyman in England, can you vouch this for ten thousand of them? I remember his late Grace of Canterbury (I mean Archbishop Potter) was occasionally saying, that on searching the records, he could find only three hundred of the clergy who stood out against popery in queen Mary's reign. Do you think the other twenty-nine thousand seven hundred were “the safest guides ?" I hope indeed things are mended
I see no reason to doubt, but there are among the present clergy a far greater number both of learned and pious men. And yet I fear, we cannot count many thousands now, that answer your strong description. May our good Lord increase their number, how many soever they be!
7. Now I beg leave to ask a question in my turn. Which do you think is the safest guide, a cursing, swearing, drinking clergyman,