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If it should be imagined that the case of St. Paul is an exception to this rule, we have no hesitation in affirming, that it is a remarkable confirmation of it. “ He obtained mercy,” he says, “ in that he did it,” viz. opposed the gospel“ ignorantly, in unbelief,''* " concerning zeal, persecuting the church ; touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless." of When he was chosen by God to know his will, and to be his witness unto all men, the secret motives and intents of his heart were regarded by the great searcher of hearts; and in this as well as in other respects, he was a “ pattern to them, which should hereafter believe on Christ, to life everlasting.” I
St. Paul was actuated by an honest, though mistaken zeal, in resisting the truth; he had 5 lived in all good conscience before God," during his devotion to the Jewish law; and after liis conversion, the same earnest desire of doing God service, (for it was still the same in principle,) was applied to the propagation of the glorious gospel committed to his trust. Hence, su hie laboured more abundantly 'than all the apostles, and was at last justified in saying, with ardent and pious exultation, “ I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith: hence forth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day.”
* 1 Tim. i. 13. + Philip iii. 6. 11 Tim. i. 16. $2 Tim. iv.7, 8. The " grace of God given to St. Paul, and the spirit of wisdom and revelation, with which he preached among the gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ, by the effectual working of his power,” is an instance therefore of divine mercy, bestowed on a devout, sincere, and conscientious man. It is an apt illustration of that saying of our blessed Lord, which refers the knowledge of divine truth to the previous dispo, sition of the heart: “ If any man will (Juan, i. e. desires, or chooses to) do his will, he shall know my doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”* He shall possess that wisdom which will lead him into all the truth;. save him from error, if he will learn it; and from condemnation, if he will obey it. This, indeed, is the tenor of our Lord's repeated declarations. “Take heed," he says, “ how ye hear, for whosoever hath, to him shall be given.”+ Care on our part, and a prudent use of the means already vouchsafed to us, will procure for us a more enlarged assistance, according to the testimony of St. John.“ As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” I And this is perfectly agreeable to the divine justice, since good and bad men, seek or refuse the truth, even as they are disposed to observe or disobey it. “ Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved: but he that doeth truth, cometh to the light.”*
In the introduction to the sermon on the mount, what is assigned as the occasion of blessedness, but the right disposition of the heart? “ Blessed are the poor in spirit,” &c. And pardon is promised to us on this single condition :“ If ye forgive men their trespasses.” Thus did he, who brought life and immortality to light, explain the means of grace, and salvation : yet, if we so preach, and persuade others so to believe, we are accused of apostasy to Christ, and of substituting a “ heathenish morality” for the vital spirit of the gospel. Our Saviour indeed supports us by his authoritative assurance. “My words, they are spirit, and they are life:" and however we may be traduced, we feel it our duty to obey him rather than man; for we know that “ his words will not pass away.”
The censorious and uncharitable manner in which the advocates of Methodism decry the preaching of the clergy, in general, or at least, that sound part of them who deny that the doctrines of Methodism are the doctrines of the church of England; and the church of Christ is clearly exemplified in a pamphlet † noticed above, which undertakes the defence of them, as if they were one and the same..
The writer of this work boldly assumes, that the preachers who enforce practical virtue as * John iii. 20, 21.
+ Willat's Apology.
the great object of Christianity, are apostates from the true faith; mere moralists in doctrine, and infidels in opinion. In confirmation of this sentiment, he adds the following note to his fourth letter :—“ I am surprized that in this enlightened age, people are so blind as to affirm, that the doctrines of the gospel, are new doctrines, and that those which moralists hold out, are the original; but notwithstanding the doctrines of the gospel are now charged with enthusiasm and fanaticism, yet at the Reformation, in the times of Queen Elizabeth and James I. there were no other doctrines generally heard or approved of; but the spirit of innovation crept in afterwards, and in a great measure supplanted the gospel of Christ in the church. But it is remarkable, that no operation of God's holy spirit, no good effects have appeared to attend the new mode of preaching, while that which I seriously apprehend to be the true gospel of Christ, is mighty indeed in operation, and testifies by its beneficial consequences, that its author is divine.
This is the strongest proof, that the moral preaching is a novel system of theology; for as we can only know a good tree by its fruit, so we can only know true religion by the effects it has on the hearts and lives of men; and if the effects are the same as they were in the apostle's days, as to the common operations of the spirit, it must be concluded that this is the gospel of Christ, and not the other."'* “
It is obvious to remark on this passage, that the question is begged in principio. . The first sentence is a fallacy: it is taken for granted that the doctrines of Methodism are the doctrines of the gospel, and then surprise is expressed that they should be called new doctrines. But the wonder is misplaced, it lies all on the other side; for it is astonishing indeed, that “in this enlightened age" people should be so blind as to affirm that these “ new doctrines are the word of Christ.”
Nor is it true, that " at the Reformation, in the times of Queen Elizabeth and James I. there were no other doctrines generally heard and approved of.” Our liturgy and articles demonstrate this assertion to be false. To enter deeply into this subject is foreign to our present purpose; and the controversy in which it is involved has been brought to so complete an issue by the late publication of a learned prelatert that it might be deemed superfluous to mention it. But since this objection, however groundless, is per* P. 44.
+ Refutation of Calvinism by the Bishop of Lincoln. The Dean of Peterborough, Dr. Kipling, in his " Articles of the Church of England, not Calvinistical,” has also contributed so materially to the vindication of scriptural faith, as it is pro: fessed in our liturgy, and preached in our pulpits, that he deserves to be noticed with particular esteem.