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You are to be a pastor, not of beasts, but of reasonable creatures, framed after God's own image, and purchased with his blood. Having undertaken this charge, it is incumbent upon you to watch for those souls under your inspection, as one that must give an account; and what shall perish through your default, will be required at your hands. And that we may not be found betrayers of the great trust reposed in us, we must receive some satisfaction, how you stand qualified for the carrying on so great a work as you pretend to be now called unto.
And because it is to be suspected that he who hath been so regardless of his own soul, that he is not sensible of the work of grace in himself, will not be very zealous in his endeavours to procure it to be wrought in others; therefore let us be informed, in the first place, what assurance you have that you are in the state of grace.
TILENUS.- Sir, I trust, you shall find, that I am no Reprobate.
DR. CONFIDENCE.-Methinks you speak very doubtfully?
Til.-Sir, I humbly conceive, it becomes me not to be too confident, when the modesty of the great Apostle was content (upon occasion) with the very same expression which I used. (2 Cor. xiii, 6.)
EFFICAX.—But can you remember the time and place, when and where, that work of grace was wrought in you? By what means, and upon what occasion ?
Til.-I suppose they are violent and sudden changes only, (from one extreme to another,) that fall under such a punctual observation.—Had I, with Mary Magdalene, been so notoriously lewd as to make the city ring of my crimes :-Or had I travelled with a design of blood, as Paul did, and procured a commission to execute it upon the Church of Christ, my conversion, it sincere, in that case must needs have been very remarkable:Or had I committed adultery, and then tempted the injured party with so much artifice to cloak it, and because I could not with all the wicked charms of intemperance prevail to induce him to it, [had 1] deliberately contrived and commanded his murder :-Or had I (though upon a surprise,) so passionately denied and foresworn my Lord and Master, (as you very well remember who did,)—the solemnity requisite to attend repentance for such offences, would have made as deep an impression in my memory, as the frequent inundation of tears did in those
m him through farly care that I of infancy, the
transgressors cheeks, and there would have been no need of red letters in my calendar to render such a time observable with me. But, blessed be God !, by whose providence it was, that, being dedicated to the service of Christ in mine infancy, the piety of my parents took an early care that I should not be alienated from him through the allurements of the world, for want of a religious education; and from a child having been acquainted (as Timothy was) with the holy Scriptures, “which are able to make us wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus; herein I have exercised myself, through the assistance of his grace, to have always a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men.” ?
NARROWGRACE.—You speak as if regeneration came by nature and education.
Til.-No, Sir; to say “regeneration comes by nature,” were a contradiction.
Take-o'-TRUST.-Do you not remember what the Apostle saith ?, “We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. iii, 23.) And, “We are dead in trespasses and sins, and are by nature children of wrath.” (Ephes. ii, 1, 2.) Can there be so great a change wrought in a man, as is a change from death to life, and he have no apprehension or feeling when such a change is wrought in him?
Til.—When I reflect upon the exuberance of the Divine grace under the gospel, I persuade myself, there is some difference betwixt Christians, born of faithful and godly parents, and from their childhood educated and instructed in the ways of faith and piety ;-I say we must make a difference betwixt these, and those Jews and Gentiles of whom the Apostle speaks, before they were made Christians. I know you will not allow Heathens to stand in competition with the servants of Jesus, devoted to him from their very infancy: neither is the law and discipline of Moses an equal standard to measure the dispensations of the grace of Jesus Christ by; and yet, if you consider Zachary and Elizabeth, (who were trained up under the pedagogy of Moses,) and date their practice of piety from their youth, * (as you ought to do, -for why should we make an exception where God makes none?,) you will find, that “ being righteous before God, and walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless,” (Luke i, 6,) they were
* 1 Kings xviii, 12.
not capable of answering your question, When and where and how the work of grace was wrought in them. Now, if the ministration of Moses (which was, in comparison, “a ministration of death,”) “was thus glorious," how shall not “the ministration of Christ,” which is the ministration of the Spirit, “be rather glorious?" (2 Cor. iii.) Under the gospel that covenant is fully accomplished, wherein God bound himself to Abraham by the sacred tie of an oath, to grant us a power" to serve him in holiness, and righteousness, all the days of our life.” (Luke i, 74.) And the conveyances of this powerful grace being all put so freely into our hands, (this word and sacraments,) it is required of us as a duty, “to have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear :" (Hleb. xii, 28.) And doubtless it is only our own inexcusable fault if we have not; for indeed (be it spoken with holy reverence !) the administration of our sacred baptism were no better than a piece of solemn pageantry, if grace were not conferred upon us in receiving that sacrament; for therein are begged, on our behalf, the blessings of Christ,--grace and pardon, with the renewing and assistance of the Holy Spirit. The church by prayer seeks for these, on our behalf, by virtue of that cove. nant wherein God hath promised and engaged himself to bestow them; " which promise he for his part will most assure edly keep and perform.". Then upon this, we engage our vow, “ to forsake the devil and all his works, and to keep God's holy will and commandments.” Can we think, either that God, in goodness or justice, would require such an engagement at our hands, (under peril of a greater condemnation,) or that the church of God in prudence could oblige us to undertake it, without good assurance of sufficient assistance and power from his Gracious Spirit to enable us to perform it according to the tenor of the gospel ?
FRYBABE.-It seems you are for universal grace, and you hold, that all the children of the faithful, (dying in their infancy, and before they have the use of reason,) are saved by virtue of that covenant* (made with us in the blood of Christ,) into which they are consigned at their baptism; as if all such were invested with some privilege to exempt them from the absolute decree of reprobation!
* Isa. xlix, 8.-Heb. xiii, 20.
beine eneration, "The short is, thength of ou
1 Til.-This, Sir, is the faith into which I have been baptized and catechised; for I am taught to profess, that, in my baptism, “I was made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.” · KnowLITTLE.—But you know, that “without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb. xii, 14.)
Til.--That I very well remember : but withal I consider, that, besides that federal holiness which removes all obstacles in the children of the faithful, and renders them recipients duly qualified for the sacrament, I am instructed in my creed to believe in God the Holy Ghost who sanctifieth me,” (that is, if I do not resist his work and quench his motions,) and am further directed to beg “ by diligent prayer his special grace” to enable me to discharge my duty to God and my neighbour ; of which grace (if I be not wanting to my duty,) I have reason to assure myself, upon the strength of our Saviour's promise, (Luke xi, 13.)-The short is, baptism being styled “the laver of regeneration,” (Tit. iii, 5, 6.) and the children of the faithful being in no capacity of putting a bar against the efficacy of it, the learned Davenant (one of the Divines of the Synod of Dort,) concludes, that therein they are truly justified, regenerated, and adopted; and, by this means, a state of salvation is conferred upon them suitable to the condition of their infancy; and, arriving to the use of reason, if they walk in the strength of Divine grace, under the command and conduct of the Holy Spirit, and fight under Christ's banner, as generous soldiers should do, [who are] engaged by solemn covenant and armed with assistance from above to that purpose,-we are assured, that “ sin shall not get the dominion over them;" (Rom. vi, 14.) “ for he is greater that is (engaged) in them (for their assistance) than he that is in the world,” (against them.) (1 John iv, 4.). Whereupon the same Apostle is confident to conclude, “We know that whosoever is born of God, sinneth not: but he that is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” (v, 18.) .
KNOWLITTLE.—You speak as if a man might live without sin, and so be saved without Christ.
Til.-Sir, I believe it is the duty of the children of God, and therefore possible, “ to be blameless and harmless, without rebuke, shining as lights, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation,” (Phil ii, 15.) “that at Christ's coming they may be
found of him in peace, without spot and blameless.” (2 Pet.iii, 14.) But this is done, not without Christ, but through the power of his grace, rescuing them from the pollutions that are in the world through lust, and from all the carnal invitations that do so earnestly solicit them. Yet this is not, to live without sin; for there are sins of ignorance and inadvertency, which, many times, through the levity of the matter, insensibly steal from us ; sins of infirmity, wherein we are surprised on a sudden ; and sins wherein we are overtaken through the daily incursion and tiresome importunity of temptations: But these, upon a general humiliation and petition, being put upon the accounts of Christ's cross, and pardoned (as it were) of course to the regenerate, do not interrupt his estate, nor impeach his interest in God's favour: And hereupon such men are reckoned by our Saviour in the accounts of “just persons which need no repentance," * (Luke xv, 7,) or ( need ] no more washing, save of their feet, +
* The reader is desired to advert to the introduetory remarks, at the beginning of this pamphlet. But since the reasoning of the assumed Tilenus in this place may be mistaken by the unlearned, it seems requisite to state, that his application of the phrase,“ just persons which need no repentance," is sufficiently explained by the sentence immediately preceding, in wbich the same persons have all the marks of true penitents ascribed to them by the author. His words are, “ But these [sins], upon a general humiliation and petition, being put upon the accounts of Christ's cross, and pardoned,"&c. Without some such necessary qualification as this, the phrase in its common acceptation can never be applicable to any man living, as long as the following passages, and others of like import, remain constituent parts of the revealed will of heaven :-" But sow God commandeth all men every where to repent.There is no difference : For, All have siuned and come short of the glory of God.” (Acts xvii, 30.-Rom. iii, 23.) .
No employment can be more inconsistent with the principles of the man who espouses the benevolent and scriptural doctrines of General Redemption, than that of endeavouring to narrow the evangelical obligation, which is binding alike on all men, to repentance, faith, and holiness. Yet there are individuals, who, while they would shudder to set bounds to the illimitable mercy of God, can deliberately fritter away by their carnal comments the essence and glory of the gospel, and reduce it frum its Divine and powerful elevation to as low and inefficient a condition as that of a system merely ethical. Such a course of conduct is only another proof of the great obliquity of which the human intellect is occasionally seen to be capable. But Bishop Womack was too wise a master-builder in Israel, to engage in such a desecrating occupation; and accordingly, in the very passage which has elicited these observations, he carefully guards against any popular misapprehension of his meaning, while he states the advantages of baptism and of a religious education in as strong and pointed a manner as the scope of his argument required.
+ John xiii, 10.