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that we may be accepted of him--we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God*-we beseech you that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.t-Here is no appeal to passionate feelings as an earnest of the spirit, no assurance of our election arising from such feelings, no arbitrary choice of the objects of his favour, no intimation that it is confined to a few chosen vessels, or that it supersedes our own endeavours to make our calling sure. Quite the contrary; the apostle's argument is utterly inconsistent with the opinions which it is brought to support; and with all the wild and dangerous assumptions that are built upon them.
Mr. Burder argues on the same grounds, that religion, or, as he calls it, “ true-heart religion,” is not shewn by prayer, repentance, and good works, which he disparages as “ empty boasts.”—“Consider,” he says, “what your religion consists in, and what you depend upon. Is it that you were born and bred a Christian, that you were baptized, that you have gone to church or meeting, that you can say the creed, the Lord's prayer, and the ten commandments; that you have taken the sacrament, been sorry for your sins, and do to others as ye would be done unto-or that you have done your best, and put your trust in God? Are these your pleas, is this your religion? Then pardon me, if I speak the truth in love, and tell you plainly this will not do. These empty boasts prove that you are a stranger to true-heart religion. All these things you may imagine you have done; but if this be all, it is only crying, Lord, Lord! Had you gone much farther than this, and equalled the pharisees in their zeal and devotion, all would be insufficient without a conviction of your sin and misery; a heart humbled for your iniquities; a view of the only way of salvation, through Jesus Christ; and that faith in him, which purifies the heart, works by love, and overcomes the world. Be not deceived then, satisfy yourselves with nothing short of that which Christ will accept and approve: this is doing the will of God, which will, as you have now heard, requires in the first place believing in the Lord Jesus, coming to him as a guilty, helpless sinner, and receiving him as your wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Come, then, my fellow-sinner, to Jesus, beg of him to wash you in his blood, beg of him to give you his spirit,” * &c.
* 2 Cor. V. 4, 5, 6, 9, 20.
2 Cor. vi, 1.
This is the preacher's comment upon the text from Matthew, c. vii. v, 21, a text of which, by way of introducing his own exposition and inference, he has completely inverted the meaning. “ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Thus spoke Christ; but his expounder changes, by a stroke of his pen, doing
* Burder's Village Sermons, vol. ii. p. 22, 23.
into believing. “ This is doing the will of God, which, as you have now heard, requires in the first place believing in the Lord Jesus.”
No doubt. God requires faith as the foundation of all religion, but what has it to do with the text? Our Saviour is inculcating throughout the seventh, and the two preceding chapters of St. Matthew, the principles of practical Christianity. Accordingly he says, “ Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments,” viz. the mora) commandments in the law and the prophets, (see chap. v. v. 17,);“ and shall teach men só, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.”* These principles the new evangelist sweeps away at once, and tells us plainly this will not do, and intimates that Christ will not accept or approve our good works, which in the sixteenth verse of this chapter we are so emphac tically called on to exhibit. This is the way with these gifted teachers"; they first puzzle the plain sense of scripture, give a wrong clue to their followers, and then lead them blindfold through a maze of errors.
But what is most extraordinary, Mr. Burder supposes, in the passage above mentioned, every duty discharged which God enjoins, every act of faith which Christ appoints'; he supposes that a person has not only been educated in Christian principles, and observed the solemn ordinances of our holy religion, but that he is sorry for his
* Matt. v. 19.
sins, lives in charity, does his best, and trusts in God; and notwithstanding is void of that saving faith from which all these virtues flow. To the same purpose he repeats, “ Others think that because they belong to a good church, and have been baptized; and say their prayers, and take the sacrament, all is well with them; while they are strangers to heart-work in religion; were never alarmed on account of their sins; never humbled for their sins; never fled to Jesus for refuge from their sins; and never knew any thing of that great change of heart, called in scripture regeneration, or the new birth.”
Here the secret meaning of this declaimer against practical piety starts up in something like an intelligible shape. Heart-work in religion consists not, according to his doctrine, in faith, repentance, and good works, as those terms are commonly understood ; but in what he calls regeneration, which is not the regeneration of baptism, but an imaginary spiritual infusion, that changes the heart by an instantaneous motion, and is peculiarly entitled the new birth. .
These father's of the new faith admit that we may partake of the sacraments, believe the word, and obey the commands of Christ, and yet denty that we are Christians, renewed by the spirit of tokiness. They confound these evidences of our trust in the mercy of our redeemer, and of our devotion to his service, with pharisaical pride,
tell us that “ these are empty boasts ;” (we boast not of them,) “ and prove that we are strangers to true heart religion.”
Let them, however, inform us, by what species of casuistry we can communicate at the Lord's table, “ without flying to Jesus for refuge ;” or repeat those impassioned confessions : “ Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker of all things, judge of all men, we acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, &c. &c.” and again, “ We do not presume to come to this thy table, 0 merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies,” &c. without a “ conviction of our sin and misery; a heart humbled for our iniquities; a view of the only way of salvation through Jesus Christ.” Did they affirm that there are some formal hypocrites who pretend to be thus religious, we should lament, but not dispute the fact. But this is not their meaning ; they do not suppose any insincerity in the case ; but, on the contrary, that we are “ sorry for our sins, and have done our best,” and yet they exclude us from the privileges of the gospel covenant; they shut the door of salvation against all who have not felt as they feel, nor experienced what they experience. The deluded people who listen to them are taught to think that godliness is a sort of enthusiastic transport, which they are persuaded is an immediate operation of the spirit; that this is what Christ will accept and approve ; that this is