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cient, and fall very far short of the example set us by Christians who have preceded us. The fames of our forefathers were richly supplied with such works as I have just mentioned. They were not afraid to handle a quarto, nor apprehensive that they would know too much, if they studied a regular system of divinity. But we, their descendants, destitute of the taste for reading, and love of truth, by which they were distinguished, are unwilling to expend any part of our money in the purchase of books, or any portion of our time in reading them. To meet the first difficulty, and to render the expense of books as light a burden as possible, I have more than once suggested to you the plan of a congregational library. By very moderate contributions, from year to year, a congregation might thus, in a short time, put itself in possession of an invaluable treasure. Upon this plan, too, the selection of books, devolving upon the officers of the church, would probably be much more judicious than could be expected, if every family should make choice for itself. Certain it is, that every congregation ought to be supplied with a good collection of evangelical and practical works accessible to the poor, who have not the means to supply themselves as well as the rich, who would probably be the principal contributors to such an establishment.
I conclude these remarks with an extract from an address of Doctor John Ewin, and other eminent ministers of that day, in Philadelphia, prefixed to "Dickinson's letters."
"In this country (say they,) where opinions are everywhere freely circulated upon all subjects, and where there is a great diversity of sentiments respecting religion, it is of the utmost consequence to the cause of truth to promote a taste for reading the works of judicious and practical writers, upon the important doctrines of the gospel.
"Diligent inquiry and strict investigation into the principles of religion are ever favourable to its progress and power upon the mind. The gospel invites, nay demands examination; and the more we enquire into its evidences, and inform ourselves of its contents, with a conscientious design to practice its duties, the more shall we be confirmed in our belief of its divine original-and the more shall we feel its beneficial and meliorating effects upon our conduct in life. Hence it has often been found in experience, that, when a general attention to the searching of the Scriptures, and to the reading of those writings which are most evangelical in their spirit, has prevailed in various places-there living, practical religion, has been restored to a flourishing state: And again, where men have been most diligent in the exercise of the duties of piety, there a zeal and taste for pure and peculiarly evangelical principles has ever revived and prevailed. It would therefore give us great pleasure, as ministers of the gospel, and be a happy presage of the increase and stability of the church of Christ in this country, to see such a disposition generally prevail."
These are the means which to me appear best calculated to prove useful in the cultivation of religious knowledge. Such exertions, made in dependence on the blessing of Him, who has said that his disciples shall know the truth, cannot but be crowned with the most desirable success-making you wise unto salvation, through faith, which is in Christ Jesus; to whom be glory forever. Amen.
RATIFIED IN THE NATIONAL SYNOD OF THE
Held at Dordrecht, in the years 1618 and 1619.
First head of doctrine.-Of Divine Predestination.
ARTICLE I. As all men have sinned in Adam, lie under the curse, and are obnoxious to eternal death, God would have done no injustice by leaving them all to perish, and delivering them over to condemnation on account of sin, according to the words of the Apostle, Rom. iii. 19, "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." And verse 23," for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." And Rom. vi. 23, "for the wages of sin is death."
ART. II. But in this the love of God was manifested, that he sent his only begotten Son into the world, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 1 John iv. 9. John iii. 16.
ART. III. And that men may be brought to believe, God mercifully sends the messengers of these most joyful tidings, to whom he will, and at what time he pleaseth, by whose ministry men are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified. Rom. x. 14, 15. "How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent ?"
ART. IV. The wrath of God abideth upon those who believe not this gospel. But such as receive it, and embrace Jesus the Saviour by a true and
living faith, are by him delivered from the wrath of God, and from destruction, and have the gift of eternal life conferred upon them.
ART. V. The cause or guilt of this unbelief, as well as of all other sins, is no wise in God, but in man himself: Whereas faith in Jesus Christ, and salvation through him, is the free gift of God, as it is written, "By grace ye are saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." Eph. ii. 8. "And unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him," &c. Phil. i. 29.
ART. VI. That some receive the gift of faith from God, and others do not receive it, proceeds from God's eternal decree: "For known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." Acts xv. 18; Eph. i. 11. According to which de→ cree, he graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe; while he leaves the non-elect, in his just judgment, to their own wickedness and obduracy. And herein is especially displayed the profound, the merciful, and at the same time the righteous discrimination between men, equally involved in ruin; or that decree of election and reprobation, revealed in the word of God, which, though men of perverse, impure, and unstable minds, wrest to their own destruction, yet to holy and pious souls affords unspeakable consolation.
ART. VII. Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, he hath, out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his own will, chosen, from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom he from eternity appointed the Mediator and head of the elect, and the foundation of salvation.
This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than others, but with them involved in one common misery, God hath decreed to give to Christ, to be saved by him, and effectually to call and draw them to his communion by his word and Spirit, to bestow upon them true faith, justification, and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of his Son, finally to glorify them for the demonstration of his mercy, and for the praise of the riches of his glorious grace, as it is written: "According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame, before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." Eph. i. 4, 5, 6. And elsewhere, "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified." Rom. viii. 30.
ÅRT. VIII. There are not various decrees of election, but one and the same decree respecting all those who shall be saved, both under the old and new testament: since the Scripture declares the good pleasure, purpose, and counsel of the divine will to be one, according to which he hath chosen us from eternity both to grace and to glory-to salvation, and the way of salvation, which he hath ordained that we should walk therein.
ART. IX. This election was not founded upon foreseen faith, and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality or disposition in man, as the prerequisite, cause, or condition on which it depended; but men are chosen to faith, and to the obedience of faith, holiness, &c. Therefore election is the fountain of every saving good; from which proceed faith, holiness, and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as its fruits