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BELOVED, WHEN I GAVE ALL DILIGENCE TO WRITE UNTO YOU OF THE COMMON SALVATION, IT WAS NEEDFUL FOR ME TO WRITE UNTO YOU, AND EXHORT YOU THAT YE SHOULD EARNESTLY CONTEND FOR THE FAITH, WHICH WAS ONCE DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS.
By the faith once delivered to the saints, is to be understood the doctrines of the gospel. These were delivered to the saints by holy men, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. The saints to whom they were delivered, were those who constituted the church under the Old dispensation, and the New.
The exhortation to contend for them earnestly, supposes that they would be powerfully assailed; and, yet, that they might be known and defended.
It is proposed, in this discourse, to give an epitome of what is supposed to be the faith delivered to the saints;-to state the reasons for believing it such;-and to point out the manner, in which it becomes the churches of our Lord to contend for it.
The faith once delivered to the saints included, it is believed, among other doctrines, the following:
That men are free agents; in the possession of such facilties, and placed in such circumstances, as render it practicable for them to do whatever God requires; reasonable tha he should require it; and fit that he should inflict, literally, the entire penalty of disobedience-such ability is here intended, as lays a perfect foundation for government by law, and for rewards and punishments according to deeds.
That the law of God requires love to God with all the heart, and impartial love for men; together with certain overt duties to God and men, by which this love is to be expressed; and that this law is supported by the sanctions of eternal life and eternal death.
That the ancestors of our race violated this law; that, in some way, as a consequence of their apostacy, all men, as soon as they become capable of accountable action, do, of their own accord, most freely, and most wickedly, withhold from God the supreme love and from man the impartial love which the law requires, beside violating many of its practical precepts: and that the obedience of the heart, which the law requires, has ceased entirely from the whole race of
That, according to the principles of moral government, obedience, either antecedent to transgression or subsequent, cannot avert the penalty of law; and that pardon, upon condition of repentance merely, would destroy the efficacy of moral government.
That an atonement has been made for sin by Jesus Christ; with reference to which God can maintain the influence of his law and forgive sin, upon condition of repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ:-that all men are invited sincerely, in this way to return to God, with an assurance of pardon and eternal life if they comply.
That a compliance with these conditions, is practicable, in the regular exercise of the powers and faculties given to man as an accountable creature; and is prevented only by the exercise of a voluntary, criminal aversion to God so inflexibly obstinate, that by motives merely men are never persuaded to repent and believe.
That God is able, by his Spirit, to make to the mind of man such an exhibition of the truth, as shall unfailingly convince him of sin, render him willing to obey the gospel, and actually and joyfully obedient.
That this special influence of the Holy Spirit is given according to the supreme discretion or good pleasure of God; and yet, ordinarily, is so inseparably associated with the use