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shiners dare to say who have made their election sure, and who have not, when probably our first mistake is, about ourselves? All this may be prevented by a single text from St. Paul, "Judge nothing before the "time, until the Loan come, who both will bring to "light the hidden things of darkness, and will make "manifest the counsels of the hearts, and then shall £: every man have praise of God." Till we shall obtain that praise, let us forbear to depend upon our own, which will only render us suspected by those who know how to distinguish. In the mean time we may know with absolute certainty that no election will save us, but that which teaches us to work out our oxen salvation with j'ear and trembling. Poor iself-condemning mourners, who lament their own sins, and those of the church to which they belong*, are in a much safer way, than those who are confident and self-witnessed: and th&y have a blessing on their side; "Blessed are they that mourn (especially for sin) for "they shall be comforted."
If; after all I have said, .there should still remain ia any man a desire to be assured, whether God hath actually adopted him for one of his own children, I will satisfy him as soon as I can.
It is a rule in Scripture, to which I believe there never was, nor will be, any exception, that "whom "the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every "son whom he receiveth; and that if we are without "chastisement, then arc we basTards and not sons." lie who can see the hand of God, through the course of his life, correcting him for his soul's heaith, and leading him into crosses, sufferings, and persecutions
* See Ezekiel ix. 4.
from the world; that man has the best of all evidence that he is the child of God, and that he is intended to be an heir of salvation. The man who sees and knows this will be thankful for his troubles, and would not be without them for all the world. When God was pleased to chuse the blessed Paul, He did not tell him what inward testimonies of his own election he should feel, nor did he teach him any of the heavenly uses of false doctrine; his promise runs in a different strain; "He is a chosen vessel unto me, for I will shew him "how great things he must suffer for my name's sake." And the same must be the rule with all other Christians; the best proof they can have in this world of their final election to glory, is their suffering upon earth for the truth's sake. What could support the Martyrs of the Christian Church, but this one consideration, that if God called upon 'them to suffer, he called upon them to be saved, according to that faithful saying, that "if we suffer, we shall also reign with him r" But that a man, with blood-guiltiness upon his head, and that of the worst sort, unrepented of, should be an heir of salvation, and find himself in the sure way to heaven, is a dream fit only for a deluded Christian of the last days to believe; if there ever was one person so deluded, the case would make us for ever afraid of this doctrine; whereas history assures us there have been many, and that in this kingdom.
Upon the whole, Christianity is a religion which does not busy itself about decrees never to be known nor understood *; but which believes promises, rejoices in hope, acts with tharity, and suffers with patience.
♦ See Note 1, p. 32<?.
It does not send a man to heaven by the short soft tray of sweet meditation and self-complacency; but it sends him first to Calvary to carry a cross after Jesus Christ; to bear some trifling affliction, some burden of sorrow, which God lays upon him; he may then think himself a true child of God, and in the right way to make big calling and election
OR that sense of election which I allow and rejoice in I have two excellent authorities, Bishop Aadrexcs and Bishop Jeremy Taylor; the former of which has these words in one of the forms of prayer in his daily devotions: "Let my faith in the Church "entitle me to a part in its calling and election." (Andrews' Devot. p. 36. Bishop Home's edition,) Bishop Andrews is right in ascribing salvation.jftrrf to the Church, and from the Church to its members; for thus we are taught to argue from the figure of Noah's ark: to be 6aved by voter was, a property original to the ark; and salvation was derived from the ark to those wjjo were taken into it: so election belongs first to the Church, the prototype of the ark. Such as were to be saved when the world was drowned were taken into the ark. Such as shall be saved when the world shall be again destroyed are added to the Church. The Church, we graut, may be much degenerated; but so long as it is a Church, the promises of God must remain with it. If its privilege of bringing children to a state of salvation is lost, how and when did it lose it r Time might possibly produce a leak in the ark, yet certainly none of such consequence as to change its nature, and prevent its usefulness. The Christian Church, by reason of its connection with this world, has fallen into many mistakes and irregularities, which piety will lament and correct as tar as it can, instead of triumphing in them as an occasion for mockery and insult against God and his institutions.. Difficult cases must occur from the commerce between the Church and the world, too great' for us to resolve 5 and we mti6t leave them to the. judgment of the great day; as we ought also to leave those mysterious characters, in which we fiud such a mixture of godliness and prophaneness as to our judgment is utterly unaccouutable.
In a prayer to be used on his birth-day, Bishop Taylor speaks thus: "I give thee glory that thy hand sustained and brought me "to the illumination of baptism with thy grace preventing my "election, by an artificial necessity and holy prevention engaging "nie to the profession and practices of Christianity." (See Holy Living, p. 3lrJ.) I cannot stop without shewing bow differently election is spoken of by a great predestinarian, and of what sort his proof is: "let it suffice," saith he, " that we feci it;" but this, we affirm, is thevery thing that will not suffice; because our Saviour hath expressly cautioned us against it upon more occasions than one. He commands us to judge their feeliugs by their fruits; • and not as they themselves do, their fruits by their feelmgs. We have seen how lamentably many have been deceived, and how they have deceived others: but hear how this predestinarian Cobeludes, " and let them perish with their errors that cast away a "doctrine of such heavenly use." (See Bishop Babington's Sermon, p. 35, in Sir Hichaid Hill's Apology for Brotherly Love): that is, let them perish who do not receive our election with its self-evidenxe of feelings, which our Saviour'would not admit in favour of himself; " if 1 bear witness of myself, my witness is not true." Who then shall insist upon our receiving their own witness, And tell us it is sufficient for them, when it was not sufficient for Jesus Christ? They must think themselves in this respect more sufficient than Lie. He appeals to that second greater witness, "The works which my Father giveth me to finish bear witness of "me."
Thus must it be in our case; to visible works we must at last appeal; and we shall be confident the rule is right, though predestinarians go on. to the end of the world wishing that we may perish for insisting upon it. Miserable it is to see what self-conceit and unmerciful judging of others this doctrine produces in the hearts of Christians, This uncharitableness to fellow-Christians is sufficient witness against it, and proves it to be worth nothing: yet if we were to believe some writers, it is the first and greatest of incentives to brotherly love: but if you will examine it, you will find it to be of a very spurious sort; it embraces Schismatics, but cannot endure a Churchman. If it be thus unmerciful to men's souis, and consigns them so easily to perdition, who can wonder that iu (lie last age it spared neither men's bodies uor estates i