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SUGGESTIONS

FOR RECONCILING THE

ARMINIAN

AND CALVINIST.

I have received much pleasure from the attempts which have been lately made by Mr. Cooper, in his excellent volume of Letters, as well as in your Review of that work, and by your Correspondent INGENUUS, to conciliate those pious persons, who, agreeing in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, still maintain some degree of hostility as Calvinists and Arminians. That the Christians who choose to adopt these titles of distinction, should be brought to a uniformity of sentiment, respecting those doctrines on which they now differ, is not to be expected. But that the animosity,

a

which has been too often excited by their difference, may be abated, or entirely removed, is not beyond the bounds of probability, where a moderate degree of christian candour possesses the heart of each.

Your Correspondent Ingenuus having invited any friend of the Christian Observer to point out terms of amity, that are “ fair, easy, and practicable,” I shall beg leave to offer a view of the subject, which has completely tranquillized my own mind, and which may tend to produce the same happy effect upon the minds of others.

The relief I have obtained with respect to the discordancy that appears in many passages of Scripture has been obtained, by considering the Bible in its doctrinal, no less than its preceptive part, as a PRACTICAL BOOK, and claiming for every doctrine it contains a corresponding state of heart and conduct in the receiver of that doctrine. And if we diligently attend to the instruction which each passage conveys, we shall find that those parts of Scripture which appear irreconcileable in theory, are yet perfectly reconcileable with respect to the practical effect which they are designed to produce upon our minds. Though often set in hostile array against each other by controversial combatants, it will not be

denied by either party that an obedient regard to both becomes necessary to constitute the christian character.

The Scriptures abound with passages which represent religion as the effect of a divine agency upon the heart; yet, at the same time, command us to “ cleanse ourselves from all

6 filthiness of flesh and spirit.” An exclusive attention to either of these representations, would produce in us erroneous sentiments as to doctrine, and defective conduct respecting our practice. Yet, as both are taught by the same authority, they have an equal claim upon our attention. Passages of the former kind teach us our depraved condition by nature, and urge us to implore the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, to renew our hearts in righteousness and to strengthen every holy desire already wrought in us. They teach us also to give all the glory to God, for those holy desires or tempers of which we are conscious; and considering ourselves as mere recipients of his bounty, to arrogate nothing that is good to ourselves ; while passages of the latter kind tend to produce a holy shame and deep remorse for the unholiness which yet remains in our hearts, and for which we are considered to be strictly responsible.

The sacred writers see no opposition in those passages

which

persons engaged in angry controversy on the subjects now under consideration have produced against each other: and whosoever seeks for the practical directions which the respective passages convey, will perceive that his religion would be defective, if either series of texts were suffered to produce a neglect of the others.

• Work out your own salvation,” says the Apostle, “ with fear and trembling: for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians ii. 12, 13. How beautifully is the christian character described in the two distinct parts of this passage! The true believer in Christ labours with the most serious concern to avoid every thing that would endanger his salvation, and to perform every act of obedience with the same care that would be required if salvation were attainable merely by his own efforts; while at the same time he is conscious of his utter inability to maintain even a good thought, without the sanctifying operation of the Holy Spirit; and continually approaches the throne of grace, that he may

, be enabled to do those things which God has commanded.

When our Saviour says, (John vi. 37 ;) “ All

that the Father giveth me shall come to me;' or, as it is expressed in verse 44, “ No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him ;” and adds, (verse 37,) “ And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” How forcibly are we urged

. to supplicate those influences of the Holy Spirit, which, though absolutely necessary to our coming to the Redeemer, are represented as flowing only from the sovereign good pleasure of God; while at the same time all doubt is removed of a favourable reception, which there is no secret decree to prevent, if we truly come to Christ as the only Mediator betwixt God and man!

If difficulties remain in the Scriptures, as is, certainly the case, they remain as tests of our humility, and demonstrations of our sincerity, whilst we pay a strict regard to all that is plainly revealed.

God hath declared in his holy word, that he “ will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth ;" (1 Timothy ii. 4;) and also, " that there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, but the name of Jesus Christ.” Acts iv. 12. Yet he hath not as yet seen fit to make this name known to all men. Millions of our fellow-creatures, to whom he

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