Images de page
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

again into the nominal religion, or no religion, that surrounds them. But how does this alter the case? What, if being jealous, lest any of their brethren should again be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, they should exhort one another, not only weekly, but daily, to cleave to God with full purpose of heart? Why might we not plead still, that these are not to “ be looked upon as any particular party, but as living witnesses, in and to every party, of that Christianity which we preach ?”

What Dr. E. says of the mischievousness of this, and with great plausibility, (p. 27,) depends upon an entire mistake, namely, that the leader of a class acts just like a Romish priest; and that the inquiries made in a class are of the same kind with those made in auricular confession. It all therefore falls to the ground at once, when it is observed, that there is no resemblance at all, either between the leader and the priest, or between the inquiries made by one and by the other.

It is true, that the leader “ sees each person once a week, to inquire how their souls prosper.” And that when they meet," the leader or teacher asks each a few questions relating to the present situation of their minds.” So then, that questions are actually asked, yea, and inquiries made, cannot be denied. But what kind of questions or inquiries ? None that

expose the answerer to any danger: none that they would scruple to answer before Dr. E. or any other person that fears God.

VII. “But you form' a church within a church, whose members in South Britain profess to belong to the Church of England, and those in North Britain to the Church of Scotland, while yet they are inspected and governed by teachers who are sent, continued, or removed by Mr. W.”

1

p. 3.

a

* All this is, in a certain sense, very true. But let us see what all this amounts to. You “ form a church within a church :" that is, you raise up and join together witnesses of real Christianity, not among Mahometans and Pagans, but within a church by law established. Certainly so. And

[ocr errors]

that church, if she knew her own interest, would see she is much obliged to us for so doing. “But the Methodists in South Britain profess to belong to the Church of England.” They profess the truth: for they do belong to it; that is, all who did so before the change was wrought, not in their external mode of worship, but in their tempers and lives. “Nay, but those in Scotland profess to belong to the Church of Scotland.” And they likewisc profess the truth. For they do belong to it as they did before. And is there any harm in this ?

“ But they are still inspected by Mr. W. and his preachers.' And they think this both their duty and their privilege: namely, to be still instructed, and built up in faith and love, by those who were the instruments, in God's hand, of bringing them from dead, formal religion, to righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.' But still those teachers are so careful, not to withdraw them from the church to which they belong, not to make any division, that they neither baptize, nor administer the Lord's Supper. If I were desirous to form a separate party, I should do both without delay.

VIII. I come now to add a few words, without any preface or ceremony, concerning myself.

Dr. E. affirms, first, That I am a very knave; and, secondly, That I am in a state of damnation. As to the first, he says, “ Truth and honesty choose to enter openly and undisguised. He that entereth not by the door of

• a plain, simple declaration of his sentiments, but insinuates himself by concealing his opinions, 'the same is a thief and a robber,

p. 5. We have more to the same purpose. “ Upon mature reflection, I saw no cause to flatter myself, that I could procure from him satisfaction as to what offended me. He had discovered himself no novice in the arts of subtlety and disguise," p. 24. Again, “ I find little else than that shifting at which Mr. W. is so singularly expert.” This is as genteel as to say, “Sir, you lie:” and it is just as strong an argument. It is indeed mere common

[ocr errors]

a

[ocr errors]

:

place, with which a man fond of such flowers may embellish his page on any occasion.

But what room is there for it on this occasion ? By God's help, I will sift this matter thoroughly. And I trust no gentleman or scholar, who weighs what I say, will throw this dirt in

my
face

any more. For several years I was moderator in the disputations which were held six times a week at Lincoln College in Oxford. I could not avoid acquiring hereby some degree of expertness in arguing: and especially in discerning and pointing out well-covered and plausible fallacies. I have since found abundant reason to praise God for giving me this honest art. By this, when men have hedged me in, by what they called demonstrations, I have been many times able to dash them in pieces : in spite of all its covers, to touch the very point where the fallacy lay: and it flew open in a moment. This is the art which I have used with Bishop Warburton, as well as in the preceding pages, When Dr. E. twisted truth and falsehood together, in many of his propositions, it was by this art I untwisted the one from the other, and shewed just how far each was true. At doing this, I bless God, I am expert : as those will find, who attack me without rhyme or reason. But shifting, subtlety, and disguise, I despise and abhor, fully as much as Dr. E. And if he cannot see, that I have answered Bishop Warburton plainly and directly, and so untwisted his arguments, that no man living will be able to piece them together, I believe all upprejudiced men can and are thoroughly convinced of it.

Let any candid man review the last article, and he will see another instance of this. Dr. E, had given us a long paragraph, about “ forming a church within a church.” It is to the same effect with the objection which the warm churchmen have often urged against the dissenters in Eng. land. It sounds extremely plausible, and the parts of it are carefully knit together. But it is not a gordian knot: a man moderately expert in arguing may untie it. And when the threads are separate, it plainly appears to have been fine, but not strong.

As to the Second point, I cannot at all complain of Dr. E.'s want of openness. He speaks plain and downright: “ Seeming strictness of behaviour will not justify those who forget”_" there is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof is the way of death,

(p. 46.)

Again. “ What claim can he have to genuine Christianity, whose professed experience gives God the lie .?” "Say I these things as a man, or saith not the law the same also ?" “ It is a deadly charity that flatters men with a persuasion that they are in the way of life, whom the Scripture pronounces in a way of destruction."

Dr. E.'s charity is of another kind! It is Mr. Sandiman's charity! It reminds me of the charity of an Antinomian in London, one, I mean, who was newly recovered from that delusion : “Sir, said she, last week, I would not have been content to kill you, if I could not have damned you too.” I pray God to deliver me from such charity! Cha

" rity, cruel as the grave!

But what right have I to complain of Dr. E. ? He has no obligation to me. My speaking of him every where as I have done, was a point of justice, not of friendship. I had only the desire, but not the power of doing him any kindness. I could not say to him, Nevertheless thou owest me thine own soul also.' I have it not under Dr. E.'s hand, as I have under Mr. Hervey's, "Shall I call

you my father, or my friend? You have been both to me. If those related to me by so near, so tender ties, thus furiously rise up against me, how much more may a stranger, one of another nation - 0 Absalom, my son, my son!'

POSTSCRIPT

IN his twenty-first page, Dr. E. says, “ How far Mr. Wesley's letter was an answer to any thing material in the

[ocr errors]

Preface, the reader will best judge by perusing it.” I have annexed it here, that the reader may judge, whether it is not an answer to one very material thing, namely, the charge of " concealing my sentiments,” for which Dr. E. condemns me in the keenest manner, and on which very account he makes no scruple to pronounce me a thief and a robber. I need only premise, that I wrote it not out of fear, (as perhaps Dr. E. thought,) neither in guile; but merely out of love to him, and concern for the cause of God. I desire no favour from him or any opponent: do me justice, and I ask no more.

EDINBURGH, APRIL 24, 1765. REV. SIR,

BETWEEN thirty and forty years I have had the world upon me, speaking all manner of evil. And I expected no less, as God had called me to testify that its deeds were evil.

But the children of God were not upon me; nor did I expect they would. I rather hoped they would take knowledge, that all my designs, and thought, and care, and labour, were directed to this one point, to advance the Kingdom of Christ upon earth. And so many of them did, however differing from me both in opinions and modes of worship. I have the pleasure to mention Dr. Doddridge, Dr. Watts, and Mr. Wardrobe, in particular. How then was I surprised, as well as concerned, that a child of the same Father, a servant of the same Lord, a member of the same family, and (as to the essence of it) a preacher of the same gospel, should, without any provocation that I know of, declare open war against me! I was the more surprised, because you had told me some months since, that you would favour me with a letter. And had this been done, I make no doubt but you would have received full satisfaction. Instead of this, you ushered into this part of the world, one of the most bitter libels that was ever written against me: written by a dying man, (so far as it was written by poor, well-meaning Mr. Hervey). with a trembling hand, just as he was tottering on the margin of the grave.

a

[ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »