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However men may admire the sagacity of these expositors, it certainly shews a very lamentable state of the organs of sight, when a man can see nothing obvious, useful, real, and capable of being pointed out to others for their benefit; but, when blind to these things, he sees every thing through a different medium than others, and in such a manner as can furnish only amusement instead of information. It is very improperly called spiritually explaining the scripture. The spiritual meaning, is the meaning of the Spirit of God, which is generally simple, and obvious to the humble enquirer. Opposite to this is the fanciful meaning, which always appears forced and unnatural to sober minds; diverse and opposite to men of opposite parties and lively imaginations; and only excites admiration by being surprising and unexpected.
We have abundance of plain scriptures from which every doctrine may be proved and elucidated. The types of the Old Testament, and the parables of the New corroborate the proof, and illustrate the explanation. Though even in these, sobriety and sound judgment should check the sallies of fancy; that the similitude may rather appear striking in the grand outlines, than strained for the sake of minute resemblance. But when the grand design of scripture is practical or cautionary; to slip over the obvious meaning, and impose another, is not interpreting but perverting
scripture, not instructing but misleading the ple. Could we find the whole gospel in the passage before us, we may ask, Cui bono? They, who believe these doctrines before hand, need not this evidence; and others will never be convinced by it.
Thus the parable of the good Samaritan is evidently intended to explain and enforce the great commandment of loving our neighbour as ourselves, by shewing, in a lively example, how every personal and party consideration is to be overlooked; and safety, ease, interest, and indulgence hazarded or renounced, to rescue a fellow-creature, though an enemy or stranger, in the hour of disChrist indeed, having in his life and death perfectly fulfilled this law, and far exceeded all that can possibly be required of any other person, because of his peculiar character, circumstances, and suretyship engagements, hath inexpressibly out-done the good Samaritan. But even this is accomodation; and the practical inference, “Go "thou and do likewise," demands our peculiar attention. But now, if ingenuity and imagination are employed to bend every circumstance of this parable to the situation of fallen man, and the love of Christ, and this is given as the primary, or only meaning, whilst the practical instruction is kept back; the reader or hearer may be amused or disgusted, as he favours or dislikes the doctrines of grace; but whatever edification he may re
ceive, he has no hat, which our Lord principally intended by the parable.
As I am unacquainted both with the querist, and his sentiments upon the scripture proposed; I hope he will do me the justice to admit that I have no reference to him in this paper; but only took occasion, from the question, to communicate my sentiments upon a subject of considerable importance; and to bear testimony against an evil, which appears of dangerous tendency. My idea of the interpretation of this text, was not conjecturally drawn from any thing in the query; but from what I have seen and heard advanced upon it: I can assure the reader, not only that I most firmly believe the doctrines known by most readers of "the Theological Miscellany," under the title of the doctrines of grace, but also that real regard to these doctrines inspires my zeal against such things as deform their beauty, or weaken their evidence.
Some Questions relative to the final Perseverance of the Saints.
THE doctrine of Final Perseverance has been so repeatedly and amply proved to be true and important from a vast number of express scripture testimonies; from the divine character and perfections; from the nature of the whole scheme of salvation, and from the security of the covenant of grace, that it would be superfluous to add any thing to the evidence that hath already been adduced.
Yet there are many persons that appear to be, and doubtless are, true christians, who not only hesitate to embrace this truth, but have strong prejudices against it. This, I apprehend, frequently arises from the too common want of accuracy in our method of stating the doctrine; from the gross abuses of which it not only is supposed capable, but which are actually made of it, in buoying up the vain confidence, and ministering to the unhallowed joys of hypocritical professors; and from their not seeing how it can be guarded from such dishonourable perversions. To obviate therefore such objections against a part of divine truth, which is so useful for the peace and establishment of the humble christian, and rescue it
from those abuses which expose it to the scorn of pharisees and infidels, should be the uniform endeavour of every one who believes and finds spiritual advantage from it. I would therefore propose and attempt to answer a few plain questions relative thereto.
1. Who are the persons that shall finally persevere ?
It is easy to answer in general, that all believers, children of God, or saints, shall finally persevere; but this leaves the matter where it was; to remove the difficulty we must enter more particularly into the subject.
No minister of the gospel by preaching this doctrine intends to convey the idea, that the whole company of persons who profess to believe this, or any other doctrine, or all the other doctrines of their system, shall finally be saved; or that the privilege of final perseverance is confined to those who make it an article of their creed, The belief of this doctrine may do the pious person important services; the rejection of it may be very prejudicial to him, without being either the cause of perseverance on the one hand, or of apostacy on the other. Those hearers of the word, in all congregations, who receive the seed by the way side, which, taken away by Satan, does not strike root: Those who received it in stony ground, an unhumbled heart, whose temporary