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1. Whatever doctrine cannot be supported and proved by the language of the sacred oracles, or of the authorized writings of our established church; but runs contrary to the general, if not universal arrangement of both ; cannot be the doctrine of the scriptures, or of our established church.
2. Forgiveness as preceding repentance cannot be thus supported or proved, either from the sacred oracles, or from the authorized writings of our established church; but runs contrary to the general, if not universal, arrangement of both.
3. Ergo, The doctrine of forgiveness preceding repentance cannot be the doctrine either of the scriptures or of the church of England.
Now your correspondent, ` Another Old Clergyman,' seems fully to concede the minor, in this syllogism; yet continues to reason against the major and the conclusion. He says, ' I readily 'admit, that in the sacred volume there are not, in so many words, these expressions, Repent,
because thy sins are forgiven thee. He should have allowed, that not a single text can be adduced, which by any fair construction will admit of this meaning, as well as have acknowledged that I have quoted numerous texts explicitly on the other side of the question. But let this pass. He also says, “As to my producing in my favour ‘ proofs from authorized writings, candour obliges
me to acknowledge, and I do with exceedingly great regret, that from this source I have 'nothing so explicit or decisive to afford as I
could wish.' • It is a decided protestant principle, that synods, councils, consistories have
'erred, and may err; and my divine Master has enjoined me, in matters of truth and duty, to call no man, Rabbi.'
This would come very properly froin persons of various descriptions; but I should not have mentioned our authorized books in such an argument as this, had not your correspondent signed himself a clergyman. As a clergyman, I profess cordially to approve the articles and liturgy of the church of England; and I constantly and most willingly officiate according to the letter. I have repeatedly subscribed the articles; and, as holding a living, I have assented and consented to the whole Common Prayer Book; and probably the other old clergyman' has done and does the same. All this is voluntary: but, should I hereafter decidedly disapprove, as erroneous doctrine, any part of these books, I do not see how it could be other than my duty, to recede from my present station, and to avow my reasons. Certainly it is no ' protestant principle,' to subscribe doctrines which we do not cordially approve;
or to officiate by a liturgy which runs counter to our sentiments : however we may grieve that the case is so, certainly our divine Master teaches us nothing of this kind, but the contrary.
I do not say, that any subscription or assent requires us to deem every expression the most appropriate that could be; or to put the whole on the same footing as the infallible word of God : yet, where the constant tenour of the authorized writings (as it appears by your correspondent's other concession,) in full agreement with the
sacred scriptures, runs counter to his favourite principle, it at least behoves him to pause and reconsider the subject. I must own, I should be extremely sorry for either our bishops, or the more unfriendly among the dissenters, to read from the pen of me, an old clergyman, any avowal to the same effect. Indeed, it much grieves me that any evangelical clergyman should give such specious occasion to the accusations which are brought against us, from both sides. I have no desire nor purpose to prolong the controversy; I should not have again taken up my pen, but to shew how very much my opponent has conceded, which some readers may not distinctly note. I shall not attempt to follow him through his reasonings, by which, notwithstanding these concessions, he attempts to maintain his point. Valeant quantum valere possunt. I perceive that, with many others, he confounds God's purpose and intention of forgiving, with the actual forgiveness granted in consequence of that intention. God indeed purposes to glorify all his elect, but he hath not yet received them all to glory.
If repentance be as much a gift of grace and mercy as even forgiveness itself, it may precede forgiveness, neither as a condition performed by us, nor as a qualification by which we entitle ourselves to forgiveness ; but as a preparation of heart from the Lord, rendering those willing to receive that free and gratuitious forgiveness, which every unhumbled and impenitent heart refuses ; and the very proposal of which is often deemed an affront by the self-righteous.
“ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their’s is the
kingdom of heaven.' Thou, Lord, hast “ heard the desire of the humble; thou wilt
prepare their heart, and wilt cause thine ear “to hear.”
ON THE BAPTIST IRYSH SOCIETY: A LETTER TO
JOSEPH BUTTERWORTH, ESQ.?
Aston Sandford, Nov. 4, 1816. DEAR SIR, I am so well pleased with the plans and proceedings of the Baptist Society for attempting the instruction of the Irish, especially the reading of the Scriptures in Irish, to those who understand no other language, that I wish to become a subscriber to it. I have always thought that the only effectual plan for civilizing that rude people was, to teach them Christianity, and bring them acquainted with the sacred scriptures; and that a number of zealous and simple teachers of the grand outlines of our common religion, if they could get access to the lower orders of the people, would
! Psalm. x. 17. Isaiah lvii. 15. lxvi. 2.
· Not a communication to the Christian Guardian, but probably extracted from the Society's Report.-J. S.
effect more than either acts of parliament, or the wisest plans of any other kind devised by the most sagacious politicians; and, though the present attempt be made by those from whom I differ in some points of inferior importance, yet it promises fair to lead the way to attempts of more extensive range, and of more enlarged success; and I wish therefore, to cast in my mite as an annual subscriber of one guinea. I wish I could do more with propriety
I remain, dear Sir,