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DETWEEN MR. LOVEGOOD, MR. MERRYMAN, MR. SAVO
RY, HIS COUSIN JOHN, AND MR. MALAPERT.
R. Lovegood receives the following letter from
without reserve, and under every difficulty: I must inform you of some recent events, which have filled me with the most serious apprehensions ; lest the peace and prosperity which has hitherto so happily prevailed, should be interrupted by the vain janglings of some, who are attempting to make their inroads among us.
I am quite surprised, that no body of respectable dissenters, have found their way into the Town, while most of the inhabitants are in gross ignorance, excepting some Baptists, and a very few Quakers, of whom it seems there are but three families in the town. These collect together every Sunday morning, in a large room, contiguous to the house of one of them ; but as they seldom have any public speaking among them, very little is known concerning them; though I fear, they are but ill acquainted with the doctrine of the atonement, and reconciliation with God, through the sacrifice of Christ ; yet I find them very kind, and innocent neighbours, and am happy to treat them in return, with all the civility and attention in my power
On our evening lecture, some of them frequently steal into the Church, and affectionately acknowledge that they receive good from what they hear.
I wish I could speak as favorably of the Baptists ; for I fear the one depend too much on their sanctification, for their justification, not a few of the others seem to deny the need of personal sanc afication altogether ; though I am happy to find some favorable exceptions to the general remark.
You know the character of their old minister. He has been ringing changes, these forty years, upon eternal justification, and what he calls imputed sanctification, and the perseverance of the saints; which seems little better, than a sort of inconsistent perseverance in laziness, and security, after they have persuaded themselves to rest in a self-conceited confidence, that they are right, without any evidence of the fact: while the practical, and preceptive parts of the scriptures are treated by them with strange neglect.
It seems this old man has lately heard of some new seceders from the Church, with whom he is highly delighted, because they have adopted his sentiment about baptism, and have been rebaptised by immersion. One of these he has, unhappily for me, introduced into his pulpit, and curiosity has invited many to hear what this new light has to advance; and alas ! I am sorry to say, that there are some, who are fascinated with something, they know not what; while many artful innuendoes are introduced, that they now hear the.gospel fully, which they never heard before ; intermixed at the same time, with such borrid insinuations, which are in my opinion, most intolerably profane; that “the greatest sins we can commit, can never alter our state, as it respects the covenant of grace;" and that “God can never be angry with his elect, even when they commit the worst of crimes." Are we then to suppose that we are in the covenant of grace,
without the grace of the covenant ? and how can people in such a gracious state, be guilty of the worst of crimes? and can they imagine the holy God, can so alter his nature, as to see sin, and not hate it if he finds it, even in an Angel ? Surely if he pardons the criminal, he hates the crime; and can such pardoned sinners dare to “ continue in sin, that grace may abound ?” must not every real Christian hate the thought? I trust the first moment I was convinced of sin, I began to dread the commission of it, worse than hell itself; what then can be the use of such strange, unwarrantable expressions, but to make loose minded people, looser still, and to cause the enemies of God to blaspheme the doctrine of our free forgiveness, through Jesus Christ.
Notwithstanding their doctrine is so disgusting, as well as dangerous, the bewitchery has actually succeeded upon the minds of some; one positive old woman, whose tempers at all times are the most inconsistent, and unsubdued ; goes prating about the town, "crying in the wretched cant of the party :" that she has found out, why she could never get any comfort to her soul, under my preaching, because I insisted upon
it, that “God's elect should be made more holy than he himself ever designed they should be," "and that as God has strengthened her faith, she shall never fear about her sins, and corruptions as she has done, that she is now sure she believes, and therefore she is safe, and nobody shall shake her confidence any more all her days;" while her husband says of her, that she is such an arrant termigant, that she ought to be ducked every day of her life for scolding. I am happy however to find, that two, or three of the most judicious and correct of the Baptists, begin to recoil at what they have lately heard, and are aware of the danger that arises from preaching the mere skeleton truths of the gospel, without their practical effects, and consequences on the heart; so that if a few of my congregation seem to be fascinated by these vain disputants, others have left them and have forgotten the prejudices of their education, and mean to attend the Church till they can hear sounder truths at the
meeting, where they have been accustomed to worship. And although I have cause to thank God that there is not much to be dreaded from these* schis. matical efforts, yet still the plague is in a measure begun. And as you well know how to controvert those different heresies that have been brought forward against the plain, simple truths of the gospel, I most fervently intreat you to come overand help us, and give us some sermons on these most important topics.
No one can be more respected, and revered among the people of this Town than yourself. Mr. Savory, and some others that have lately left the Baptist congregation, are quite as anxious to see you as myself. I am sure your fervent zeal against such most dangerous errors, will not allow you to put a negative on tbis my earnest request. Your most affectionate son in the Gospel,
Mr. Lovegood's answer to this letter, was replete with all that good sense ; containing at the same time such wise, and pious remarks, as might naturally have been expected from him, and though I am satisfied the good taste, and piety of my readers would be greatly gratified, were they to be presented with the whole of its contents : yet those parts which more immediately relate to the present point, shall alone be transcribed.
Mr. Lovegood observed, that whatever appearance af novelty might seems to attach itself to these new lights, it was nothing more than a revival of the same bad spirit, which in a measure prevailed in the earliest ages of the primitive Church. That the apostle Paul foresaw the evil, and forewarned the elders of Ephesus of it, in this strong language. “For I know that after my departing, shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock," and that these their outward enemies, would not be their vors: enemies ; for that “ also among their own selves
* See note at the end of the Dialogue.
should certain men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” That this is awfully and notoriously the case with the present set. That they regard not into what Christian societies they enter ; nor yet lament, or even make it a matter of consideration, how far they may break the peace, and harmony that subsist among them, by the introduction of their unjust insinuations, and dogmatic assertions, if thereby, they may out of other Churches, make a little party for themselves ; while like Ishmael of old, their hands are against every man, while every man's hand in self-defence, must be against them in return.
He further observed what St. Jude mentioned, concerning some of the same spirit, that though sone may go further in these abominable ways than others, yet the core of the evil is still the same in all; and among all parties, who "separate themselves, not having the Spirit,” and that it is peculiarly applicable to the present set; since as far as he could learn, all of them were of one mind, respecting the operations of the Spirit; and that whatever some such as these might have to say, respecting the correctness of their own outward conduct and moral deportment, yet the slightest inattention to what St. Jude further said, “ Building up yourselvos on your most holy faith ; praying in the Holy Ghost; and keeping yourselves in the love of God;" would prove a most criminal neglect: and that any disregard to such practical passages as these, especially where progressive sanctification, or a growth in grace, like the carrying on of a building &c. were to be met with, could not but prove of the most dangerous consequences to the souls of men.
He next observed, that such spirits, while they cannot“ please God, because they are contrary to all men,” have in general, in them, such a share of positivity, and self-conceit, that it were hardly possible to do them any good ; and that therefore the Apostle's advice was the wisest, to “ mark such as caused divi