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upon these doctrines; a much larger proportion upon the person, love, and sufferings of Christ, and on faith in him; and whole chapters upon a holy life and conversation: and, if we do not in the same manner, proportion, guard, and connect these doctrines, hypocrites will pervert them, infidels will despise them, and the weak will be stumbled by them. Indeed they are 'not at all proper subjects for addresses to sinners, to prejudiced hearers, or to newly-awakened persons; and are seldom, if ever, found in scripture explicitly thus addressed but a great part of our more public ministry is exercised among such persons. Let it not then be thought carnal policy to adapt our discourses to the occasions and wants of the hearers, while nothing inconsistent with truth is spoken, nothing profitable kept back. Our Lord himself says, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now:" and Paul writes to some, who had as good an opinion of themselves, as numbers now have, and with almost as little reason, "I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat, for hi"therto ye were not able to bear it; neither yet
now are ye able:" and he gives a reason for this conduct, which proves that many in our congregations are "not able;" namely the prevalence of strife and contention among them.*
The truth is, many persons would scarcely hear any thing except these doctrines: but, though I firmly believe them, and should be glad
* 1 Cor. iii. 2 Peter iii. 16.
for all real Christians to have the comfort of them; yet, when they are disjointed from their practical influence, they form in my judgment a very small part of Christianity. If God be pleased to bless the word in bringing men to repentance, faith, and holiness, to a Christian hope, temper, and conduct; we shall in general find it no hard matter to convince them that this is the fruit of electing love, and the sure earnest of eternal glory. And, if a few do not see their privilege here, they will eternally rejoice in it hereafter.
II. God's secret purposes are consistent with his revealed declarations. Let then no sinner vainly endeavour to excuse his sins, or quiet his conscience, by a perversion of these doctrines. Though "the salvation of the righteous is wholly "of the LORD;" the damnation of the wicked is wholly of themselves: and, if the lustre of these truths dazzles the eyes of some poor distressed souls, some weak believers or inquirers; let them turn their attention to another part of divine truth. Still, still this is true, "Every one that asketh "receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to "him that knocketh it shall be opened." *
III. How careful should we be to ascertain the reality of our conversion, before we take the comfort of perseverance! An error in this matter proves fatal to thousands, who, mistaking some transient emotions and affections for a saving change, buoy up their hopes to the end by per
* We must receive God's promises in such wise as they be 'generally set forth in holy scripture and in our doings that will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the word of God.' (17th Art.)
verting these truths, and perish with a lie in their right hand. And let it be especially observed, that the scriptural way of "making our calling "and election sure," is, " by giving all diligence," not only in the means of grace, but in following after holiness, and abounding in every good work.*
IV. The genuine tendency of these doctrines (as completely excluding boasting, leading us to ascribe all the glory of contriving, preparing, revealing, and applying salvation, wholly to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and thus producing deeper humiliation, and inspiring more lively gratitude, than any other system;) forms the chief excellency. Did we entirely and constantly live under their influence, we could never despise others, admire and prefer ourselves, or be angry with such as differed from us. We should "in meekness instruct those who oppose themselves:" we should argue, persuade, and exhort them; because these are the means which God has appointed, and we may hope for his blessing on them. But," as the wrath of man worketh not the
righteousness of God," we certainly should never slander, or revile others, or contend with acrimony; or hold up an opponent to derision and contempt, whilst, with an air of conscious superiority, as if" we had made ourselves to differ," we plume ourselves and our party, on pre-eminent discernment, if not integrity. These are none of the means which God has appointed; we cannot expect a blessing on them; nor can they do any credit to the cause.
* 2 Peter i. 3-11.
Take heed, therefore, beloved, that your zeal for the doctrine do not lead you into a spirit and conduct, diametrically opposite to that humility, compassion, meekness, and gentleness, which it is calculated to inspire. If Calvinists dispute with acrimony, pass hard censures, spread slanderous reports about others, judge another man's servants, and be quarrelsome and implacable; the doctrines which they profess are not to blame, nor yet their belief of them; but their want of more inward holiness, if indeed they be not wholly unsanctified. Yet the cause suffers, and the truth is disgraced, through their misconduct: and one moderate man, who loves and is kind to Christians, without respect to party; and who differs from his brethren peaceably and charitably, where constrained to differ; and adorns his profession by a holy life and conversation; will do more even in bringing others cordially and intelligently to embrace his sentiments, than twenty angry disputants who humour the pride and malignant passions of their own party, but disgust and prejudice the minds of all who differ from them— "Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness "of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing "one another, and forgiving one another, if any "man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ
forgave you, so also do ye." Neither let it be inferred from your conduct, that, amidst the zeal of Calvinists for proselyting others to their tenets, they are less active in seeking the conversion and salvation of sinners, than their brethren whom they call Arminians. If indeed we are true bc
lievers, God hath made use of means and instruments to effect the secret purposes of his everlasting love towards us: and what is there in our peculiar opinions, that should render us less desirous of being his instruments in communicating the same blessings to others; or less sanguine in our expectations of success while using his appointed means? And what other stimulus can we want to excite our most self-denying, perilous, and zealous endeavours to spread the gospel, than the special distinguishing love of God our Saviour, so freely shewn in "delivering us from the wrath to come," and "calling us to his eternal glory, by Jesus "Christ our Lord?"
V. Finally, my Brethren, if you have attained to a scriptural assurance of your calling and election, "give diligence to the full assurance of hope "unto the end:" remember from what a dreadful state you are so wonderfully delivered; how free to you was this deliverance; what a price it cost your Redeemer; and what he has done and what prepared for you. While you "rejoice in the "Lord," rejoice likewise "in your tribulations," and rejoice" in the hope of the glory of God," in all your conflicts and temptations: and let "the love of Christ constrain you to live no lon
ger to yourselves, but to him, who died for you, "and rose again." "Be ye therefore, steadfast, "unmovable, always abounding in the work of "the Lord; forasmuch as ye know that your "labour is not in vain in the Lord."