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boasting. Since if they be gifted in as great a degree as the first converts to christianity, still they may “ do wrong,” and he wanting in that charity which is the condition of their obtaining mercy; and although bought with an inestimable price, yet even they may “perish for whom Christ died.” viii. 11.
Our Saviour * hath said indeed, “ All that the Father giveth me, shall come unto me;" + and again, “ No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him :"and it is well known to what purpose these texts have been perverted : but whatever countenance they have been considered as affording to the Methodistical doctrine of the new birth and irrespective grace, the many clear and decisive assertions .of the same divine teacher, in other places, which entirely overthrow it, clearly prove that no such article of faith was intended here. The passages above cited, are moreover perfectly accordant with those numerous texts of scripture which are altogether irreconcileable with the favourite dogma of the new evangelists. St. Paul illustrates the meaning of our Lord,
*“ No man,” saith our Lord, “ cometh unto the Father but by me.” St. John xiv. 6. As by faith in Christ, we are led to God, so by the testimony which the Father hath given of the Son's divine mission and authority, are we led to Christ. It is very injurious to the cause of truth, to strain the terms in which it is conveyed beyond their proper meaning. . † John vi. 37.
when he says, “ As many as 'are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God;"* and we are assured by the highest of all authorities, that “ he giveth his spirit to them that ask him." t
God is undoubtedly the author of every good and perfect gift : to him, therefore, be the glory. The means of grace and salvation, and every faculty we possess, are equally derived from him ; and all who make a right use of these blessings, will embrace and ever hold fast the hope of everlasting life, revealed by Jesus Christ: and being thus redeemed from death, are given to him by God the Father both now and for evermore. There is one infallible rule laid down by our Saviour, which, if observed, would prevent all misapprehension. ." He that is of God, heareth God's word;"I and “ he that keepeth my saying shall never see death."$ God has graciously vouchsafed to “ draw all men unto him,” through the atonement of Christ, who was “ lifted up,"|| as he himself also assures us, for that very purpose, and those only that “ resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” The 39th and 40th verses of the 6th chapter of St. John's gospel throw light upon each other. “ This is the Father's will; that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day: and this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”* So that, “ all which the Father hath given me, is equivalent to this expression, “ Every one that seeth. the Son, and believeth on him ;" for the same thing is predicated of both. The just conclusion therefore is, that instead of testifying the new birth by any sensible and immediate infusion of the holy spirit ; and instead of limiting it to a few persons arbitrarily chosen by God, the gospel has extended this grace, and salvation consequent upon it, to all christians whatsoever. “ He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved.” † And our Saviour's expression implies the unbounded efficacy of bis merciful dispensation. Der ó adwor for o Marne. I “ All,"$ without restriction, and without exception, “ all that the father giveth me:", that is, according to the context, “ Every one which seeth the Son and believeth on him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”* He shall partake of a joyful resurrection ; but on this condition, “ that he have done good," † for otherwise, “ he will come forth to the resurrection of damnation.” .
|| John xi. 32.
* Rom. viii. 14.
I John vüi. 47.
* John vi. 40. + Mark xvi. 16. John vi. 37.
3 Bishop Latimer, in his Sermon on Matt. xxii. 2, says, “ The promises of Christ our Saviour are general ; he made a general proclamation, saying, “Whosoever believeth in me hath everlasting life.' He saith, Come to me all ye that labour, and are laden, and I will ease you.' Mark, here he saith, · Come all ye;' wherefore then should any man despair, or shut himself out from the promises of Christ, which be general, and pertain to the whole world ? He that leaveth his wickedness and sin, and is content to mend his life, and then believing in Christ, seeketh salvation and everlasting life by him, no doubt that man or woman, whosoever they be, shall be saved." Yet this the Methodists would persuade us is a novel doctrine, and taunt us with the title of Universalists ; of which more hereafter.
Regeneration, as we have before stated, in its strict and primary sense, takes place in the sacrament of baptism, when we are born of water and the spirit, and become new creatures, the adopted children of God through Christ; when we are admitted into the christian covenant, renounce the devil and all his works, and are spiritually transferred from the fellowship of the world into the communion of saints : qualified to exercise the same holiness in this life ; and if we do so, entitled to the same happiness in that which is to come. This is so great a change, so complete a transformation from a carnal to a spiritual, from an earthly to a heavenly state, that it might justly be called regeneration, or a new birth.
But it is not denied, that those who having been thus made '“members of Christ, and children of God," and having afterwards lived in wilful negligence of the gospel, or in disobedience to its laws, are 'recalled from a course of sin, and renewed in the spirit of their minds : It is not
+ John v. 29.
denied that such persons are converted, restored to the principles and practice of Christianity, and to all the privileges of the gospel covenant. If it be the pleasure of certain professors of that gospel to call this reformation a new birth, let them employ that term, but let them not attach to it a meaning and an application which the scriptures never warrant.
“ Except ye be converted,” says our Lord, s and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” *
Lowliness and meekness, humility and innocence, are the best proofs of a regenerated mind. But these endowments are not the effect of an involuntary and overruling impulse. Neither conversion from Judaism and Heathenism to Christianity, from unbelief to faith, nor from a vicious to a virtuous propensity, is any where declared in scripture to be the immediate work of the holy spirit, without the concurrence and co-operation of man.
“ There have been many,” says Dr. Waterland, “ both in former and latter times, who have laid great stress upon I know not what sensible emotions or violent impulses coming upon them at times, which they boldly and rashly impute to the holy spirit : presuming also to date their conversion or new birth, (as they call it) from such fanciful impressions. There is not one syllable in sacred writ to countenance the notion
* Matthew xviii. 3.