Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

demnations,-False humility,Irritating spirit,-Proroking, uncharitable style --Continual sneers,—Most odious appellations, — Abusive words, — Notorious scandalizing,-Lines too dreadful to be transcribed, upworthy of an answer, beneath contempt,-Most indecent ridicule,-A wretched conclusion, as bitter as gall,-and, Slanders, which ought even to make a Turk blush.”

Ji thou canst not yet see, 'gentle reader, into the nature of Mr. Rowland Hill's Remarks, peruse the following friendly sentences : “In regard to the fopperies of religion, you certainly differ from the Popish priest of Madeley :-You have made universal havoc of every truth of the gospel :-You have invented dreadful slanders :-You plentifully stigmatise many with the most unkind language :-You have blackened our principles, and scandalized our practice :-You place us in a manner among murderers :-It shocks me to follow you :-Our characters lie bleeding under the cruelty of your pen, and complain loudly against your great injustice :-Blush for the characters you have injured by the rashness and bitterness of your pen :You have invented a set of monsters, ard raised a hideous ghost by your own spells, and incantations of banter and contempt :-Numberless sneers, taunts, and sarcasms dreadfully decorate the whole of your performance; they are nothing better than infernal terms of darkness, which it is hateful to transcribe :-Your Second Check, I fear, must prove the concluding bar of separation,” that is, of excommunication.

When I cast my eye upon this extract, I cannot help crying out, If this is my antagonist's friendliness, alas ! what will be his displeasure ? And what have 1 done to deserve these tokens of Calvinian benevolence ? Why are these flowers of Geneva rhetoric so plentifully heaped upon my head? And why-But I must not complain ; for my friendly opponent has patiently staid till the publication of the Second Check, to talk of a « concluding bar of separation :" But if I am a reprobate, upon his scheme of unconditional election,

con

and gratuitous reprobation, Calvin's God put “ the concluding bar of separation” between me and himself, not only before I wrote the Second Check, but thousands of years before I drew my first breath. When I consider this, far from feeling the least resentment against Mr. Hill, I see it my duty to thank him for shewing much greater patience towards me than the God whom he worships ; and I wonder, that his severe principles should not be productive of more unfriendly Remarks, than those which he is pleased to call friendly.

Yes, Sir, though I thought at first, that the title of your book was ironical, I now believe it literal, and am persuaded you really meant to shew me much friendliness. For a temporary excommunication,

yea, a cluding bar of separation," must appearan act of grace, to one who truly relishes the doctrines of limited grace and unprovoked wrath.

I do not hereby intimate, that I have done nothing displeasing to you. Far from insinuating it, I shall present my readers with a list of the manifold, but wellmeant provocations, which have procured me your public correspondence. I say well-meant provocations; for all I want to provoke any one to, is, love and good works. "And may not a minister use even the rod for that purpose? If you think not, please to inform me what the apostle meaut wheu he said, “What will ye? Shall I come unto you with the rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekuess ?'

1. I have writteni my Checks with the confidence with which the clear dictates of reason, and the full testimonies of scripture, usually inspire those who love what they esteem truth more than they do their dearest friends.

2. After speaking most honourably of many Calvinists, even of all that are pious, I have taken the liberty to insinuate, that the schemes of finished salvation, and imputed righteousness, will no more save a Calvinist guilty of practical Antinomianism, than the doctrine of general redemption will save an ungodly Remonstrant. Thus I have made no difference between

the backsliding elect of the Lock, and the apostates of the Foundery, when death overtakes them in their sins, and in their blood.

3. I have maintained, that our Lord did not speak an untruth, when he said, “In the day of judgment, by thy words shalt thou be justified ;' and that St. Paul did not propagate heresy, when he wrote,

6 Work out your own salvation !'

4. I have sprinkled with the salt of irony § yonr favourite doctrine, (Friendly Remarks, page 39,) “ Salvation wholly depends upon the purpose of God according to election, without any respect to what may be in them,” that is, the elect. Now, Sir, as by the doctrine of undeviable consequences, he who receives a guinea with the king's head on the one side, cannot but receive the lion's on the other side ; so he that admits the preceding proposition, cannot but admit the inseparable counterpart, namely, the following position, which every attentive and unprejudiced person sces written in blood upon that side of Calvin's standard which is generally kept out of sight, “ Damination wholly depends upon the purpose of God according to reprobation, without respect to what may

- If I make us of irony in my Checks, I can assure thee, reader, it is not from “spleen,” but reason. It appears to me, that the subject requires it, and that ridiculous error is to be turned out of the temple of Truth, not only with scriptural argument, which is the sword of the Spirit,' but also with mild irony, which is a proper scourge for a glaring and obstinate mistake. I have already observed, that our Lord himself used it with his apostles, when he came out of his agony and bloody sweat. Some other remarkable instances of it we find in scripture, 1 Kings xxii. 15. Micaialı, a prophet of the Lord, being requested by King Ahab, and pious king Jehoshaphat, to tell them, whether Israel should go against Ramoth Gilead to battle: he ironically answered, 'Go and prosper ; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hands of the king.' Well known is that solemn, though ironical, or, as Mr. Hill would call it, sarcastic reproof of Solomon to a young prodigal, • Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, let thine heart cheer thee, and walk in the way of thy heart, and in the sight of thy eyes.' (Eccl. xi. 9.) From these examples I conclude, that an irony dictated by love not only is no sign of " a bad spirit,” but is an useful figure of speech, especially where the rapid pregress of a preposterous error calls for the sharp rebukes mentioned by St. Paul in my motto.

be in the reprobates.” Here is no “inventing a monstrous creed,” but merely turning the leaf of your own, aud reading what is written there, namely, Damnation finished, evidently answering to fiuished salvation.

5. You have done more, says my opponent, (p. 47,) “ You scarce write a page without unjust reflections : To follow you through all your accusations would be eudless. One passage, however, which seems to me to shine conspicuous among the rest for calumny and falsehood, as the moon does among the stars, shall be the last we will notice."

I say, in the Second Cheek, “ How many intimate, that Christ has fulfilled all righteousness, that we might be the children of God with hearts full of unrighteousness !" And you reply, “How many? There are a generation it seems of these black blasphemers : [I would say, of these mistaken Calvinists.] Produce but a few of them."

Well, Sir, I produce first the author of Pietas Oxoniensis, next yourself, and then all the Calvinists who admire your brother's Fourth Letter, where he not only insinuates, but openly attempts to prove, that David was a man after God's own heart,' a' pleasant child' of God, and that he stood absolved and complete in the everlasting righteousness of Christ, while his eyes were full of adultery, and his hands full of blood : Consequently, while his heart was full of all unrighteousness. Now if this was the case of David, it may not only be that of many,

but of all the elect. They may all be the children of God, not only with hearts full of unriglite. ousness, but even while they cloak adultery with deliberate murder.

Now, pray, Sir, do you not shew yourself completely master of Geneva Logic, when you assert that what is so abundantly demonstrated by your brother's Letters, and the well-known principles of all sound Calvinists, is a calumny and a falsehood as conspicuous as the luminary that rules the night? This imaginary moon of calumny, which you discorer through the telescope of Calvinian prejudice, will help my ju

[ocr errors]

dicious readers to guess at the magnitude of the stars of falsehood, with which, you say, almost all the pages of my book are bespangled.

I conclude, by entreating you not to put any longer a wrong construction upon the Helvetic bluntness, with which I continue to expose barefaced Antinomianism. Do not account me an enemy, because I tell you the truth as it is in the Epistle of St. James : And deprive me not of an interest in your valuable friendship, merely because I follow the word of God, and the dictates of my conscience.

I can with truth assure you, dear Sir, that your groundless charges of “calumny, falsehood, bitterness, injustice,” &c., instead of putting “a concluding bar of separation” between us, only give me an opportunity of fulfilling delightfully that precept of the evangelical law, according to which we shall be justified in the great day, “Forgive one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.' I confirm my love towards you, by rejoicing in all your pious labours, and sincerely wishing you the most unbounded success, whenever you do not give up the right “ foundation," or substitute Dr. Crisp to St. James, and Calvin's narrow election to the free gospel of Jesus Christ. And if I may trust the feelings of my own heart, which continues quite open towards you, I remain just as if you were not my opponent, dear Sir, Your affectionate Friend, and obedient Servant, in a pure Gospel,

JOHN FLETCHER.

« ForrigeFortsæt »