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why go we back to such distant eras? Speak, Languedoc, speak and tell, if thou canst, how many Protestant ministers have been lately executed; how many more of their hearers have been dragooned and sent to the gallies; and how many hundreds are now, in consequence of the above mentioned edict, lying in prisons, and fast bound in misery and iron, for no other crime than that unpardonable one in the Romish church; I mean, hearing and preaching the pure gospel of the meek and lowly Jesus.
And think you, my dear countrymen, that Rome, glutted as it were with Protestant blood, will now rest satisfied, and say, “ I have enough ?" No, on the contrary, having, through the good hand of God upon us, been kept so long fasting, we may reasonably suppose, that the popish priests have only grown more voracious, and, (like so many hungry and ravenous wolves pursuing the harmless and innocent flocks of sheep) with double eagerness will pursue after, seize upon, and devour their wished for Protestant prey; and, attended with their bloody red-coats, those Gallic instruments of reformation, who know they must either fight or die, will necessarily breathe out nothing but threatening and slaughter, and carry along with them desolation and destruction in all its various shapes and tortures, go where they will.
But I humbly hope, vile as we are, a gracious, long-suffering and merciful God will not suffer us to fall into their bloodthirsty and cruel hands. He hath formerly most remarkably interposed in England's favor; and why should we in the least doubt but that he will again reveal his Omnipotent arm, and make our extremity to be his opportunity, to help and defend us against such threatening and unjust invaders? Invincible as the Spanish armada was supposed to be, and all powerful as the pope, under whose broad seal they acted, might boast he was in heaven or hell, it is plain he had no power over the water. For thou didst blow, O Lord, with thy wind, and the enemy were scattered. And is not this God the same now as he was yesterday? And will he not continue the same for ever? Of whom then should the inhabitants of Great Britain be afraid ? Blessed be God, if we look to second causes, we have a glorious fleet, brave admirals, a well disciplined army, experienced officers, and, if occasion should require, thousands and thousands of hearty volunteers, with a royal hero, who hath once been made happily instrumental to save his country from impending ruin, if not majesty itself prepared to head them. And if by fasting from as well as for sin, and by flying, through a living faith, to the merits of a dying, rising, ascending, and interceding Mediator we can but make God our friend, we
need not fear what France, and Rome, and hell, with all its united force, can do unto, or plot against us. The way of duty is the way of safety. And if we are but found in the due use of proper means, we may confidently leave the issue and event of things with God. Be that event what it will, (and I trust it will be a prosperous one,) we have a divine authority to say unto the righteous, it shall be well with them. God's own people, amidst all the wars and rumors of wars, may rest secure; for they not only dwell under the shadow of the Most High, but have his own royal word for it, that all things shall work together for their good. And not only so, but they may also be fully assured that all the malicious efforts and designs of men and devils shall be so far from obstructing, that, on the contrary, through the sure, though secret hand of an ever watchful, overruling, and onnipotent Providence, they shall at present, (how beit they think not so be made not only to subserve the present further enlargement of his interests, who, in spite of all the strivings of the potsherds of the earth, will hold the balance of universal monarchy in his own hands; but at last shall terminate in the full and complete establishment and perfection of “that blessed kingdom, whose law is truth, whose king is love, and whose duration is eternity.” Fiat ! Fiat !
A LETTER FROM THE REV. GEORGE WHITEFIELD
TO THE REV. JOHN WESLEY.
BETHESDA, GEORGIA, Dec. 24, 1740. Reverend, and very Dear Brother.
God only knows what unspeakable sorrow of heart I have felt on your account, since I left England last. Whether it be my infirmity or not, I frankly confess, that Jonah could not go with more reluctance against Nineveh, than I now take pen in hand to write against you. Were nature to speak, I had rather die than do it; and yet, if I am faithful to God and to my own and others' souls, I must not stand neuter any longer. I am very apprehensive that our common adversaries will rejoice to see us differing among ourselves. But what can I say? The children of God are in danger of falling into error. Nay, numbers have been misled, whom God has been pleased to work upon by my ministry, and a greater number are still calling aloud upon me to show my opinion. I must then show,
that I know no man after the flesh; and that I have no respect to persons, any farther than is consistent with my duty to my Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.
This letter no doubt will lose me many friends. And for this cause, perhaps, God has laid this difficult task upon me, even to see whether I am willing to forsake all for him, or not. From such considerations as these, I think it my duty to bear an humble testimony, and earnestly plead for the truths which, I am convinced, are clearly revealed in the word of God. In the defense whereof I must use great plainness of speech, and treat my dearest friends upon earth with the greatest simplicity, faithfulness, and freedom, leaving the consequences of all to God.
For some time before, and especially since my last departure from England, both in public and private, by preaching and printing, you have been propagating the doctrine of Universal Redemption. And when I remember how Paul reproved Peter for his dissimulation, I fear I have been sinfully silent too long. Oh! then, be not angry with me, dear and honored sir, if now I deliver my soul, by telling you, that I think, in this, you greatly err. It is not my design to enter into a long debate on God's DE
I refer you to Dr. Edward's Veritas Redux, which, I think, is unanswerable, except in a certain point, concerning a middle sort between elect and reprobate, which he himself in effect afterwards condemns.
I shall only make a few remarks upon your sermon, entitled Free Grace. And before I enter upon the discourse itself, give me leave to take a little notice of what, in your preface, you term an indispensable obligation to make it public to all the world. I must own, that I always thought you were quite mistaken upon that head. The case (you know) stands thus: when you were at Bristol, I think you received a letter from a private hand, charging you with not preaching the gospel, because you did not preach up election. Upon this you drew a lot. The answer was-preach and print. I have often questioned, as I do now, whether, in so doing, you did not tempt the Lord. A due exercise of religious prudence, without a lot, would have directed you in that matter. Besides I never heard that you inquired of God, whether or not election was a gospel doctrine. But I fear, taking it for granted it was not, you only inquired whether you should be silent, or preach and print against it? However this be, the lot came out-preach and print; accordingly, you preached and printed against election. At my desire, you suppressed the publishing the sermon while I was in England ! but soon sent it into the world after my
departure. Oh, that you had kept it in! However, if that ser
mon was printed in answer to a lot, I am apt to think, one reason why God should suffer you to be deceived was, that hereby a special obligation might be laid upon me faithfully to declare the scripture doctrine of election, that thus the Lord might give me a fresh opportunity of seeing what was in my heart, and whether I would be true to his cause or not; as you could not but grant, he did once before, by giving you such another lot at Deal. The morning I sailed from Deal to Gibraltar, you arrived from Georgia. Instead of giving me an opportunity to converse with you, though the ship was not far off the shore, you drew a lot, and immediately set forward to London. You left a letter behind you, in which were words to this effect“When I saw God by the wind which was carrying you out, brought me in, I asked counsel of God. His answer you have enclosed.” This was a piece of paper, in which was written these words——“Let him return to London."
When I received this, I was somewhat surprised. Here was a good man telling me he had cast a lot, and God would have me return to London. On the other hand, I knew my call was to Georgia, and that I had taken leave of London, and could not justly go from the soldiers who were committed to my charge. I betook myself with a friend to prayer. That passage in the first book of Kings, chap. xiii., where we are told—“That the prophet was slain by a lion, that was tempted to go back contrary to God's express order, upon another prophet's telling him God would have him do so :"—this passage, I say, was power. fully impressed upon my soul. I wrote you word that I could not return to London. We sailed immediately. Some months after, I received a letter from you at Georgia, wherein you wrote words to this effect—" Though God never before gave me a wrong lot, yet perhaps he suffered me to have such a lot at that time, to try what was in your heart." I should never have published this private transaction to the world, did not the glory of God call me to it. It is plain you had a wrong lot given you here; and justly, because you tempted God in drawing one. And thus I believe it is in the present case. And if
let not the children of God, who are mine and your intimate friends, and advocates for Universal Redemption, think that doctrine true, because you preached it up in compliance with a lot given out from God.
This, I think, may serve as an answer to that part of the preface to your printed sermon, wherein you say—“Nothing but the strongest conviction, not only that what is here advanced is the truth as it is in Jesus, but also that I am indispensably obliged to declare this truth to all the world." That you believe what you have wrote to be truth, and that
you honestly aimed at God's glory in writing, I do not in the least doubt. But then, honored sir, I cannot but think you have been much mistaken in imagining that your tempting God, by casting a lot in the manner you did, could lay you under an indispensable obligation to any action, much less to publish your sermon against the doctrine of predestination to life.
I must next observe, that as you have been unhappy in printing at all, upon such an imaginary warrant, so you have been as unhappy in the choice of your text. Honored sir, how could it enter into your heart to choose a text to disprove the doctrine of election, out of the eighth of Romans; where this doctrine is so plainly asserted, that once talking with a quaker upon this subject, he had no other way of evading the force of the apostle's assertion, than by saying—“I believe Paul was in the wrong.” And another friend lately, who was once highly prejudiced against election, ingenuously confessed, that he used to think St. Paul himself was mistaken, or that he was not truly translated.
Indeed, honored sir, it is plain beyond all contradiction, that St. Paul, through the whole eighth of Romans, is speaking of the privileges of those only who are really in Christ. And let any unprejudiced person read what goes before, and what follows your text, and he must confess the word all only signifies those that are in Christ; and the latter part of the text plainly proves what, I find, dear Mr. Wesley will by no means grant; I mean, the final perseverance of the children of God_“He that spared not his own Son, but freely gave him for us all, (i. e. all saints,) how shall he not, with him also freely give us all things?” Grace, in particular, to enable us to persevere, and every thing else necessary to carry us home to our Father's heavenly kingdom.
Had any one a mind to prove the doctrine of election, as well as of final perseverance, he could hardly wish for a text more fit to his purpose than that which you have chosen to disprove it. One that does not know you, would suspect that you yourself were sensible of this : for after the first paragraph, Í scarcely know whether you have mentioned it so much as once through your whole sermon.
But your discourse, in my opinion, is as little to the purpose as your text; and, instead of warping, does but more and more confirm me in the belief of the doctrine of God's eternal election.
I shall not mention how illogically you have proceeded. Had you written clearly, you should first, honored sir, have proved your proposition ; “That God's grace is free to all;" and then, by way of inference, exclaimed against what you call the horrible decree. But you knew people (because Armi