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to insinuate that our Lord preached a " shocking, not to say blasphemous doctrine."
THE FICTITIOUS CREED.
“ I BELIEVe that Christ does not always give unto his sheep eternal life ; but that they often perish, and are by the power of Satan frequently plucked out of his hand."
THE GENUINE CREED.
We believe that Christ's sheep mentioned in Johu x. are obedient, persevering believers ; that is, as our Lord himself describes then, (John x. 4,5, 27,) persons that 'hear [i, e., obey] his voice,' and 'whom he knows ;' [i. e., approves ;] persons that' know [i. e., approve] his voice;'--that“ know not [i. e., do not approve] the voice of strangers ; '--and • flee from a stranger' instead of following him :-Jo a word, persons that actually ' follow the good Shepherd' in some of his folds or pastures. In this description of a sheep, every verb is put in the present tense, to shew us that the word sheep denotes a character, or persons actually possessed of such a character. So that the moment the character changes ; the moment a man who once left all to follow Christ, leaves Christ to follow a stranger, he has no more to do with the name and privileges of a sheep, than a deserter or a rebel has to do with the name and privileges of his majesty's soldiers or subjects,
According then to our doctrive, nosheep of Christ,' that is, no actual follower of the Redeemer, perishes. We think it is shocking to say, that any of them are plucked out of his hand. On the contrary, we frequently say, with St. Peter, - Who will harm you [much more, who will sepárate you from the love of Christ] if ye be followers of that which is good ? ;' i. e., if you be sheep; and we insist upon the veracity of our Lord's promise, 'He that endureth unto the end,' in the character of a sheep, i. e., in the way of faith and obedience, “the same shall be [eternally) saved.' And we maintain, that so long as a believer does not make shipwreck of the faith and of a good conscience; -so long as he continues a sheep, an harmless follower of the Lamb of God, he can no more perish than God's everlasting throne can be overturned. But what has this doctrine of our Lord to do with Calvinism ?
With regard to the sheep mentioned in Matt. xxv. 33, 34, whom our Lord calls. blessed of his Father,' we believe that they represent the multitude of obedient persevering believers, whom two apostles describe thus : • Blessed are they that do his (God's] commandments, that they may have right (or if Mr. Hill pleases, privilege] to the tree of life, and enter, &c., into the city.' (Rev. xxii, 14.)— Blessed is the man that endureth temptation ! for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.'-' And this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.' (James i. 12; 1 Joho v. 3.)-For such enduring, obedient believers a kingdom of glory' is prepared from the foundation of the world :' And to it they are and shall be judicially elected ; while the goats, i. e., unbelievers, or disobedient fallen believers, are and shall be judicially reprobated from it. Hence it is, that when our Lord accounts for his judicial election of the obedient, (whom he parabolically calls sheep,) he does not say, Inherit the kingdom,' &c.; for I absolutely finished your salvation : But he says, “Inherit the kingdom, for ye gave me meat,' &c., ye fed the hungry from a right motive, and what you did in that manner, I reward it as if you had done it to myself. In other terms, “ Ye heard my voice, and followed me,'in hearing the whis. pers of my grace, and following the light of your dis.. pensation ; and now I own you as my eternally-rewardable elect, my sheep, which have followed me without finally drawing back.
Again, when our Lord gives an account of the judicial reprobation of the finally disobedient, whom he parabolically calls goats, he dnes not say, ' Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for you from the foundation of the world,' for then I absolutely finished your eternal reprobation. No: This is the counterpart of the gospel of the day. But he says, ' Depart, &c,, for ye gave me no meat,' by feeding the hungry in your generation, &c. That is, ye did not believingly follow me in following your light and my precepts. Either you never began your course, or you drew back before you had finished it. Either you never voluntarily listed under my banner, or you deserted before you had fought the good fight' out; either
you never believed in me the light of the world, and your light; or, instead of keeping the faith, you voluntarily, avoidably, unnecessarily, and resolutely made shipwreck of it, and of a good conscience. And therefore your dampation is of yourselves. You have personally forfeited your conditional election to the rewards of persevering obedience, and personally made your conditional reprobation from those rewards sure by your final disobedience.
From these evangelical descriptions of the sheep and the goats, mentioned in John X., and Matt. xxv., it appears to us indubitable: (1.) That these sheep, [i. e. obedient persevering believers] ' shall never perish, although they might have perished, if they had brought upon themselves swift destruction by denying the Lord that bought them :' (2.) That they shall be eterually saved, although they might have missed eternal salvation, if they had finally disregarded our Lord's declaration, 'He that endureth unto the end, the same shall be (finally) saved.'—(3.) That the good Shepherd peculiarly laid down his life for the eternal redemption of obedient, persevering believers; and that these believe VOL. II,
ers are sometimes eminently called God's elect, because they make their conditional calling to the rewards of perseverance sure, by actually persevering in the obedience of faith.-(4.) That the peculiarity of the eterual redemption of Christ's persevering followers, far from being connected with the absolute reprobation of the rest of mankind, stands in perfect agreement with the doctrines of a general, temporary redemption, and a general initial salvation ; and with the doctrines of a gratuitous election to the blessings of one or another dispensation of God's saving grace ;-and of a conditional election to the rewards of voluntary, uunecessitated obedience.-(5.) That our opponents give the truth as it is in Jesus two desperate stabs, when they secure the peculiar eternal redemption of finally disobedient believers, and comfort mourning backsliders in so unhappy a manner, as to overthrow the general, temprorury redemption of all maukind, and to encourage or countenance the present disobedience of Laodiceau belierers.--(6.) That the Calvinian doctrines of grace, which do this double mischief under such fair pretences, are, of all the tares which the enemy sows, those which come nearest to the wheat, and of consequence those by which he can best feed his immoral goats, deceive simple souls, set Christ's moral sheep at perpetual variance, turn the fruitful field of the church into a barren field of controversy, and make a deistical world think that faith is enthusiastical fancy ; that orthodoxy is immoral nonsense; and that rerelation is nothing but an apple of discord.—(7.) And lastly, that the doctrines of grace which we maintain, do equal justice to the divine attributes ;-defend faith, without wounding obedience
;-oppose Pharisaism, without recommend. ing Antinomianism ;-assert the truth of God's promises, without representing his most awful threatenings as words without meaning ;-reconcile the scriptures, without wounding conscience and reason;-exalt the gracious wonders of the day of atonement, without setting aside the righteous terrors of the great day of
retribution ;--extol our heavenly Priest, without pouring contempt upon our divine Prophet zand celebrate the honours of his cross without turning his sceptre of righteousness into a Solifidian reed, his royal crown into a crown of thorns, and his law of liberty into a rule. of life, by which his subjects càu no more stapd or fall in judgment, than an Englishman can stand or fall by the rules of civility followed at the French court,
To the best of my knowledge, Reader, thou hast been led into the depth of our doctrines of grace. I have opened to thee the mysteries of the evangelical system, which Mr. Hill attacks as the heresy of Arminians. And now let Impartiality hand thee up to the judgment-seat. Let Reason and Revelation hold out to thee their consentaneous light. Pray that the Spirit of Truth' may help thine infirmities ; Turn Prejudice out of the court : And let Cundour pronounce the sentence and say, whether our principles or those of Mr. Hill « ' inevitably" draw after them" shocking, not to say blasphemous” consequences ?
I shall close this answer to the Creed which that gentle. man has composed for Arminiaus, by an observation which is not entirely foreign to our controversy. In one of the Three Letters which introduce the Fictitious Creed, Mr. Hill says, “ Controversy, I am persuaded, has not done me any good;" and he exhorts me to examine closely whether I cannot make the same confession. I own that it would have done me harm, if I had blindly contended for ny opinions. Nay, if I had shut my eyes against the light of truth ;-if I had set the plainest scriptures aside, as if they were not worth my notice ;-if I had overlooked the strongest argu. ments of my opponents ;-if I had advanced groundless charges against them ;-if I had refused to do justice to their good meaning or piety ;-and, above all, if I had taken my leave of them by injuring their moral character, by publishing over and over again arguments which they had properly answered, without taking the least notice of their answers ;--if I had made a solemn promise not