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and read some of their fathers treatises about freeagency and sinless perfection, will cry out, as the Gentiles did in the days of old, "Surely our fathers have inherited lies," Jer. xvi. 19.
It is doubtless our duty to pray for the increase of Christ's kingdom, and for more light and knowledge of the truth; to labour day and night in God's vineyard, and to be charitable to the necessitous to the uttermost of our power; but never to strive against God's decrees in order to please rebels, or make the Bible comport with the pride of wretched and depraved nature: the man that doth this is allied to Satan, and engaged in the war of devils. "Let not him that girdeth on the harness boast himself as he that putteth it off," 1 Kings 'xx. 11. I know some of you, among whom I labour, are much tinctured with that abominable doctrine called free-agency; and your life and walk proclaim it as loud as your tongues; for it is visible that the world loves her own, and that you love it: being crafty, I have caught some of you who are of this stamp with guile. To talk of freeagency and good works, while the feet run to evil, is nothing but sounding the trumpet of an hypocrite. I am sure you never learnt this satanic trick from my mouth, nor from my life.
I think it my duty, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance, lest ye be led away with the errors of the wicked; and so fall from your own stedfastness,
If God of his infinite mercy keep you from Arminianism, Arianism, and Antinomianism, I shall think you are Christians indeed. I rank the errors of Arminianism at the front, because the others are not so well masqued. While the Arminian is robbing you of the doctrines of sovereign grace, he puts the fable of sinless perfection into your hand, as a rattle to amuse you, while he robs and plunders your conscience; and, while he is teaching you to resist the sovereign will of God, he endeavours to charm your ears with free-agency. But the Arian is more open; he proclaims to every one that goes by that he is a fool. However, they are all three agreed against Christ: the Arminian cries down his merit; the Arian cries down his divinity; and the Antinomian cries down the revelation of him to the heart. May God turn their hearts to the truth, and keep your souls from turning to their errors!
Fret not yourselves about my creating to myself enemies; it is better to be hated by all the world, for the truth's sake, than to lie one week under the dreadful apprehensions of God's wrath, and the severe lashes of a guilty conscience. When God gives peace, who can create trouble? A man's spirit will sustain any outward affliction; but a wounded spirit none can bear.
I must beg leave to inform my reader that I have thought proper to make an alteration in this second edition of this work. The letters which lately were sent out in conjunction with it, relative
to ministerial abilities, I thought proper to sever from it, as they had but little connexion with it. But I will correct them, and send them out by themselves, if there should be a call for them, as I think they are more proper to bind up with the Epistles of Faith, than with this work. Having got rid of the Epistles, I have in their room brought in a few more witnesses against Universal Charity, or natural affections, influenced by a spirit of rebellion against the God of sovereign love.
The sovereignty of divine grace, displayed in the revelation of Christ to my soul, was the first saving truth that ever God made known to me: and, as I could not find one person in a thousand that had ever seen or felt the same power, it confirmed me still more that what God had done for me was a sovereign act. I have since been more confirmed in it, because it was revealed to me who never expected it, and is withheld from thousands who are working hard to get it. These things led me to see that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but that both the prize and the victory is of God who sheweth mercy. This, and the other connected doctrines, being revealed by God himself to my soul, I think I am in duty bound to enforce and defend, with such abilities as God has, or shall think proper to furnish me with.
To my own Master I expect to stand or fall; and, if this my testimony in behalf of his sovereignty be a false one, he has wisdom enough to
overthrow it, and power sufficient to punish me for it. But I know it is the testimony that he revealed to me; the testimony impressed on my conscience; the testimony of his own word and Spirit; the testimony that himself bore; the testimony that God will ever honour; and the testimony that he never did, nor ever will, disdain to own.
Arminianism at present sadly obscures the truth of God. Popery and that system will one day unite under one displayed banner, and out of each host the elect of God will one day be called; and a light sufficient will be given them to discover the enemies of their liberties, to which, by a covenant of sovereign grace, they were predestinated. These things considered, have led me to exclude the former letters, and to bring in a few more witnesses against Universal Charity, in order to push the sentence a little more home into the compassionate bowels of rebellious nature.
If my reader be inquisitive to know what I mean by the term Universal Charity? be it known to him that I do not mean that love and liberality that is required by the second table of the moral law; far from it. For I know that in this sense a man is to love his neighbour as himself; and, if he be able, he is to shew it by a generous relief of him in his necessities. According to my ability, I have no objection to be weighed in an even balance with any accuser that I have in the world, with respect to this commodity.
Nor do I mean that affection which every con
verted soul should shew to his neighbour, in rëproving him, exhorting him, praying for him, or holding forth the word of life to him, which (if blessed by God to his conversion) is that charity which covereth a multitude of sins. In this respect I could spend and be spent for my neighbour; and have laboured as hard, and suffered as much, in behalf of their souls, as those who have pretended to exceed the bowels of God himself in the behalf of sinners. But the universal charity aimed at in this work is that pretended love of erroneous professors, who are contending for the salvation of all the world, and disputing against the sovereignty of God, and against his word in the behalf of them. Surely, if this spirit came from God, it would never cavil against his sovereign will.
The Saviour rebuked this in Peter, as coming from the devil, "Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offence unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men," Matt. xvi. 23. Thus the Saviour shews that every spirit which takes the part of flesh and blood, and rebels against the will of God, is from the devil himself.
Men of this temper seem to measure God by themselves; because they pretend to shew so much love to apostate rebels, and to those that bear the condemned image of Adam; they think that God's everlasting love must run in this their pretended channel; they think that God is altogether such an one as themselves; for which wretched comparison