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* If he be told, that he has only to cherish faith in his mind, and he will be eternally happy, he will be apt to persuade himself that he has this ' faith, while he is guilty of every vice within his means, to which he feels any temptation. He
will remember that the preacher only told him * to have faith, and that he did not enjoin him to abstain from lying, drunkenness, theft, and fornication. He believes that Christ died for the sins of men, and is convinced, upon the authority of his minister, that this faith is all which is required for
pardon and salvation. Whoever knows any thing ‘of the common people, cannot but know that this
mode of reasoning, easily suggested by the corrupt nature of man, is very likely to take place.''
This passage describes a style of preaching which I trust is wholly ideal: at least it has never fallen under my notice. Disproportionate statements, as to the different parts of divine truth; a far too general way of treating on practical subjects ; many unguarded expressions, and methods of exhibiting the grand doctrines of the gospel, which might be perverted by a carnal heart to an antinomian meaning ; I have heard and lamented, and protested against : but never, even from those who are justly considered as Antinomians, any thing so grossly abominable as that which is here described. At present, I am persuaded that the evangelical clergy, with but few exceptions, are very careful to caution their congregations against every antinomian perversion of the doctrine of grace: and I
am fully assured that there are very few in their congregations, who are not deeply convinced that
lying, drunkenness, theft, and fornication,' and every other instance of immorality or profaneness will, unless repented of, forsaken, and abhorred, terminate in their everlasting damnation, whatever doctrines they may assent to, or whatever confidence they may express; nay, that the very circumstance of encouraging themselves in sin, by perverting the doctrine of salvation by grace, will exceedingly enhance their guilt and condemnation. If there be any clergyman who teaches his congregation, that “ faith is all which is required for par'don and salvation, and does not enjoin them to abstain from lying, drunkenness, theft, and for
nication ;' and shew the nature and effects of “ faith which worketh by love,” as distinguished from a faith consistent with such abominable wickedness; it will rejoice me, and, I will answer for it, most of my brethren, to see episcopal authority exercised in silencing him ; as well as in silencing many others, who in different ways corrupt the gospel of Christ, or disgrace it by their example. -We are fully aware that this mode of reasoning,
easily suggested by the corrupt nature of man, is likely to take place, both among the common
people, and also among their superiors : and, if we give any occasion to it, nay, if we do not fully warn our congregations against it, we deserve not only the censure of our diocesans, but the awful wrath of our holy God; and shall experience it, except we“ repent, and do works meet for repen
tance ,” how evangelical soever our creed may be.
· Whoever has lived in the neighbourhood of ' certain preachers, will testify that it has taken place.'1
Who these “ certain preachers' are we are not told: but this I can confidently say, that I have witnessed, in the places where the evangelical clergy are stationed, a degree of morality, even in those who did not fully enter into their views, beyond what I ever saw in any other places. It is true, that many learn from the preachers evangelical notions, and make a temporary profession of religion, who at length return,“ like the sow “ that is washed to her wallowing in the mire ;" and “ the last state" of these men is "worse than “ the first." But, if they are to be considered as specimens of the company which they have renounced, or from which they have been excluded; while all those, who,“ taught by the saving grace “ of God, that, denying ungodliness and worldly “lusts, they should lead sober, righteous, and
godly lives," are quite overlooked : prejudice may easily bring in a verdict against the whole body. Thus Judas, Ananias, Sapphira, and Simon Magus might have been considered as specimens of the character of Christians, in the primitive times; and those of whom Paul“ spake, even “weeping,”? of all the converts made by his ministry.
In populous places also, where in this land preachers of every kind are at present found, there will, no doubt, be men who adopt the wildest notions, and disgrace the truths which they profess
with the vilest conduct. They who pay sufficient attention to the subject will find, that this is the grief and distress of numbers, and especially of ministers; who, agreeing in some points of doctrine with these enthusiasts and Antinomians, (for we cannot give up truth because professed and perverted by wicked men,) are by superficial observers, and such as only behold the company from a distance, classed with the very persons whom they mourn over, and protest against, and oppose by every scriptural method in their power.
But, after every deduction, it may confidently be averred, that the stated congregations, and especially the communicants, at those churches, or chapels, in which the evangelical clergy officiate, are by far the most strictly moral part of the established church, in respect of exemption from gross vices ; and, further, that they exert themselves in endeavouring to relieve the distresses of the poor, to instruct their children, and to forward every good work, with more decided diligence, earnestness, and liberality, than are generally manifested among their opponents. And I appeal to every candid observer, who differs from me in religious sentiments, but who has carefully compared our parishes and congregations with other parishes and congregations, whether this be not true and indisputable.
· The doctrine of salvation through faith, if rightly understood, is strictly scriptural; and I 'do not mean to say that any bad effects are in(tended by insisting solely or principally upon 'this one point. But I think that this style of
preaching is imperfect and dangerous; and in
support of my opinion I will venture to affirm, that the New Testament does not furnish one • discourse of our Saviour, one sermon of any of ‘his apostles, or one epistle, in which there is not
an exhortation to the practice of moral virtue, or ‘in which a reward is not promised to holiness of * life. Let the preachers, to whom I allude, read • the conclusions of those very epistles, upon par'ticular passages of which they lay so much stress,
and they will find the most earnest injunctions to the performance of the relative duties, and a va* riety of declarations and precepts all tending to
encourage the cultivation of practical virtue. * Let them constantly bear in mind the solemn di
rection given by St. Paul to Titus, whom he had • appointed a preacher of the gospel, and let them observe that it immediately follows the assertion, that we “are justified by grace.” “ This is a ' faithful saying, and these things I will that thou
affirm constantly, that they which have believed ' in God might be careful to maintain good works:
these things are good and profitable unto men.” ? Justification therefore by grace, so far from ren
dering good works unnecessary, is the ground upon which they are to be enforced by a Chris* tian minister ; "they are,' says Dr. Doddridge, o'to be the darling topics of your preaching, as ' you
desire the edification and salvation of your hearers.' The instructions indeed, which St. • Paul gave to Timothy and Titus for preaching
the gospel, related principally to practical subjects, that their hearers might “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things." Surely