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4. But did they, therefore, leave mankind without hope, and abandon them to destruction and despair? By no means. As they taught that God has a Son, an only Son, his eternal Word or Wisdom, who was in the beginning with him, by whom all things were made; and without whom was not any thing made that was made ;" so they taught, also, that God had "so loved the world as to give this his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life;" that although he was his own and only Son, the Father had “not withheld him, but freely delivered him up to become incarnate, to live and die for us all ;" "had wounded him for our transgressions, bruised him for our iniquities, and laid on him the chastisement of our peace :" had "made him to be sin," or a sin-offering for us, "that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," or might be justified and accounted, nay, and even constituted righteous, in and through faith in him.
5. Hence they preached justification and salvation, present and eternal, in his name, and through his mediation. "God," declared they, "is in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing men's trespasses to them, and hath committed unto" his servants "the word of reconciliation. Now, then," added they,
we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."
For,*" through this man is preached unto you the for iveness of sins, and by him all that believe, (that believe in, and rely on him, with a faith that worketh by love,'t that overcometh the world, and purifieth the heart,'§) are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses."
In the same way, through the same atonement and grace of Christ, they preached regeneration and entire sanctification, declaring, that "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saves us by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which God sheds on believers abundantly, that being justified by grace, they may be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." For,
6. They taught that God, who has a Son, has also a Spirit, often termed the Holy Ghost, as being infinitely holy in himself, and the one source of holiness to us: termed also the Spirit of truth, of life, and of grace, because it is his office to guide us into all necessary truth, to quicken our souls, which, by nature, are dead in trespasses and sins, to open the life of God within us, to create us anew
§ Acts xv. 9.
* Acts xiii. 38.
+ Gal. v. 6.
1 John v. 4, 5.
in Christ Jesus, and, (from day to day) to help our infirmities. He convinces, they assure us, of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment: and as a Spirit of adoption, "sent into the hearts of believers, crying, Abba, Father," "bears witness with their spirits that they are the children of God." He is, therefore, also a Comforter, being a never-failing source of consolation, as well as of purity to God's people, and producing love, joy, and peace in their souls, as well as all other fruits of righteousness. This Spirit, they bore testimony, must not only be believed in and acknowledged, but received, and when received, makes mankind the temples of God, or "an habitation of God through the Spirit" here, and prepares them to dwell with him hereafter. On the other hand, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ," they uniformly declared that such an one "is none of his," but is still in the flesh, that is, in a carnal and unregenerate state, and incapable of being admitted into the kingdom of heaven.
7. One thing more let me observe here. As they represented these blessings of justification, regeneration, and sanctification, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in his gifts and graces, as free for all, without exception, Christ having, as they testified, "given himself a ransom" absolutely "for all," and "tasted death for every man," without the exception of one: so they required nothing of mankind, in order to their partaking of this salvation in all these branches of it, but “ repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ," both which blessings, however, they represented as the gifts of God, which would certainly be conferred on all that sincerely, earnestly, and perseveringly sought them. "The kingdom of God is at hand," was their language, even that kingdom which is "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."*"Repent ye, and believe the gospel," as the way leading infallibly to it: "Repent and be baptized, in the name of the Lord Jesus," which certainly implied believing in his name, "for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, for the promise is unto you and to your children, and to those that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call:"Testifying," says St. Paul, "both to Jews and Greeks, repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ." They assured their hearers, however, that all genuine repentance would certainly be productive of fruits worthy of repentance, such ceasing to do evil, and learning to do well," in all known in
+ Acts ii. 38, 39.
Rom. xiv. 17.
Acts xx. 21.
stances; and that true faith in Christ and his gospel would infallibly produce love to God and man, and all those good works which they had ability and opportunity to perform, it being their avowed and constant doctrine, that "faith without works is dead."
Such, then, were the leading principles of the Sect which was every where spoken against: These were its chief doctrines. But,
2dly. What was the practice of its members? This, perhaps, is of more consequence even than the former.
1st. Then, they were, in general, an innocent and harmless people. They injured no man in his character, property, or person. And no wonder, for it was their constant care, as they were taught and commanded, both by Christ, and by his apostles and evangelists, to imitate their Master, whom none could ever convince of sin, "who did,” nay, "who knew no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth" "who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners," and whom his enemies, even Pilate, who condemned him, owned to be "an innocent and just man." Indeed, if they had not been innocent and harmless, at least in outward things, as they were continually and earnestly exhorted by the apostles and their other teachers to be,* they could not have been continued in the society of Christians, but must have been expelled from it. This appears from sundry passages of the New Testament, in which the Christians are exhorted and required to "look diligently lest any of them should fail of," or fall from, "the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness should spring up, and trouble them, and thereby others should be defiled; lest there should be among them any fornicator or profane person, such as Esau." They are required to
purge out the old leaven, that they might be a new lump," and to deliver the offending brother, that would not be reproved and reformed, by a solemn act of excommunication to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, that," being brought to repentance by the grace of God sanctifying the afflictions wherewith he was visited, "his spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." Nay, they were required to have "no fellowship with the unfruitful works," or workers "of darkness, but rather to reprove them." "I wrote to you," says St. Paul, "not to keep company with fornicators: yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world:" As if he had said; They surround
*Phil. ii. 15.
4. Is this same Messiah the Mighty God? Then let us reverence and fear him, worship and serve him as such. Let us not dare to neglect, disobey, or reject him. Although he is our Redeemer and Saviour, yet we must recollect, he is also our Lawgiver and our Judge, and it is a "fearful thing to fall into the hands of” his righteous indignation and wrath. Let us take care, then, that "we refuse not him that speaketh. For, if they escaped not that turned away from Moses, that spake on earth, much less shall we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven; whose voice" on Sinai, "shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, yet once more I shake not the earth only, but heaven also. Wherefore, we receiving a kingdom" from this King of saints, whom the Father hath set upon his holy hill of Sion: "let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear, for our God is a consuming fire."
4. Is this Mighty God, also, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace? Then let us take care that while we are his children, being begotten by his gospel, and while we confide in him with filial love and affection, we also manifest that we are in all proper and orderly subjection to him as our sovereign Lord and King. And as he is King of Peace, as well as Righteousness, while through him being justified by faith, we have peace with God, and peace of conscience, let us demonstrate also by our peaceable disposition, by our living in love and harmony with the people of God, and as much as in us lieth, by our " following peace with all men," that we are, indeed, his genuine subjects, that his kingdom of righteousness and peace is in our hearts, and that we are in the highway to his kingdom of everlasting peace and felicity. AMEN.
THE PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE OF THE SECT EVERY WHERE SPOKEN AGAINST, IMPARTIALLY CONSIDERED, IN A DISCOURSE DELIVERED AT THE OPENING OF THE METHODIST CHAPEL AT TWICK ENHAM, DEC. 14, 1800.
We desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: For as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against. xxviii. 22.
1. SUCH was the just and reasonable language of some of the inhabitants of the greatest city in the world, to a poor, despised, and persecuted disciple of Jesus Christ, who appeared among them with every disadvantage, having been sent to Rome a prisoner, and being, at this very time, bound with a chain. It is true, they were not native Romans, as it appears, but Jews, who spake thus. But this very circumstance, one would have supposed, might have increased their prejudices against him, as he was known to be an abettor of the cause which their countrymen and the chiefs of their nation in Judea had condemned; and a disciple of the man whom the rulers of their people had lately executed as a malefactor upon a cross. Nevertheless, although appearances were so much against him, and although there were so many reasons why they should give him no countenance, but despise and persecute him, their friends in Jerusalem had done; they had so far imbibed the fair and equitable principles of the imperial city where they resided, that they determined to check every rising prejudice, and give him a patient hearing, judging it unjust to condemn a man, or a party, or a cause, unheard. "We desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest, for, as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against."