« PreviousContinue »
For prevention of mistake, I request leave to apprize the reader,
1. That in the following Essay I use the words Calvinism and Calvinists merely in compliance with custom. The doctrinal system, established in England, which LUTHER and Calvin were the honoured instruments of retrieving, subsisted, from the beginning, in the faith of God's elect people, and in the sacred scriptures. But, “Dandum aliquid consuetudini."
2. I use the terms PELAGIANISM and ARMINIANISM in their literal and proper signification, as denoting the system originally fabricated by Pelagius, and afterwards rebuilt by ARMINIUS. Though in strictness of speech, that system should rather be denomi. nated, MORGANISM and Van HARMINISM ; the real name of Pelagius having been Morgan, as that of Arminius was Van HARMIN.
3. By the word METHODISTs, which likewise fre.. quently occurs, I mean the approvers, followers, and abettors of Mr. John WESLEY's principles and practices, and them only. If some folks, either through want of knowledge, or through want of candour, apply the name of METHODIST to such as agree in all points with the church of England, it cannot be
helped; nor have I the least objection to being involved under that title, in this sense of it: but I myself never use the term, except in the meaning above defined.
4. Mention is often made of the ANABAPTISTS, and of their theological enormities. Be it therefore observed, that the Anabaptists of the sixteenth century were a very different sort of people from the Baptists of the last century, and of the current: consequently, what is observed of the former, does by no means affect the latter.
5. I foresee one objection, in particular, to which the ensuing work is liable: viz. that the two PELAGIAN METHODISTS, namely, Mr. John WESLEY and Mr. WALTER SELLON, whose fraudulent perversions of truth, facts, and common sense, gave the first occasion to the present undertaking, “are not persons of sufficient consequence to merit so large and explicit a refutation.” I acknowledge the propriety and the force of this remark. It cannot be denied, that the church of England has seldom, if ever (at least since the civil wars,) been arraigned, tried, and condemned, by a pair of such insignificant adversaries. Yet, though the men themselves are of no importance, the church and her doctrines are of much.
Which consideration has weight enough with me, not only to warrant the design and extent of the following vindication, but also to justify any future attempts of the same kind, which the continued perverseness of the said discomfited METHODISTS may render needful. I mean, in case the united labours of that junto should be able to squeeze forth any thing which may carry a face of argument. For, otherwise, I have some thoughts of consigning them to the peaceable enjoyment of that contempt and neglect due to their malice and incapacity. Lord Bolingbroke somewhere observes, that “ To have the last word is the privilege of bad writers :" a privilege which I shall never envy them.
Mr. WESLEY and his subalterns are, in general, so excessively scurrilous and abusive, that contending with them resembles fighting with chimney-sweepers, or bathing in a mud-pool. So they can but raise a temporary mist before the eyes of their deluded adherents, they care not what they invent, nor whereof they affirm.
6. Let it not, however, be supposed, that I bear them the least degree of personal hatred; God forbid ; I have not so learned Christ. The very men, who have my opposition, have my prayers also. I dare address the Great Shepherd and Bishop of souls in those lines of the late Dr. Doddridge:
Hast thou a lamb, in all thy flock,
I would disdain to feed ?
But I likewise wish ever to add,
Hast thou a foe, before whose face
I fear thy cause to plead ? Grace, mercy, and peace, be to all who love, and who desire to love, our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.