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ever, of which I have heard, were such as tended to the abolition of Christian mysteries.*
My dear Christian Brethren, the 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, if not the 5th grade of error, mentioned above, some of us formerly called Presbyterians, I fear have unhappily trodden; it evidently appears that the other steps are natural and easy; after these are gone over, it requires but little exertion to accomplish the rest. Shall I adaddress you on this subject, or shall I forbear? Shall I vent the anxious, mournful feelings of my heart? or shall I restrain them, and pour out my sorrows in the silent shades of retirement? Shall I retreat to some lonely cell, and hide myself from the church and the world, where I shall see and hear of their errors, their vices, and their miseries no more? and spend the small remnant of my days in endeavouring to converse only with God and my own heart! Have I so far lost the confidence of my Christian friends, as to be esteemed their
*I have frequently, in the course of this address, communicated the idea, that many things in the Christian system are mysterious, and lie in some measure beyond the comprehension of our present powers; I would not by this be understood to mean, that any thing in Christianity is, in the least degree, contradictory to reason, or absurd in its own
There is certainly a great difference between a proposition being absolutely beyond the powers of our present comprehension, and its being contrary to the first principles of reason. The proposition that the three angles of every triangle are equal to two right angles, is one absolutely beyond the comprehension of the illiterate hus. bandman; is it therefore not true? I am fully convinced, there is nothing in the Sacred Scriptures which is contrary to sound Philosophy. But I am equally convinced, that “Done by searching can find out God, nor can any know the Almighty unto perfection.”
enemy, because I tell them the truth? an enemy to the Church of Christ, because I labour toguard it against mistakes, and point out those things which threaten its de struction? Shall I be despised, because I mourn over the cause of Christ, when I see it bleeding at a thousand veins? Am I an opposer of a revival of religion, when
say. the jirks, dancing, &c. are not God's instituted means of Grace, nor Scriptural evidences of true religion? and that when they are voluntary, they are a corruption of God's worship? Should I say that enthusiasm and spiritual pride, a vain conceit, self-sufficiency; and-self-confidence, have evidently made their appearance among us, and are undoubtedly tarnishing the beauty of the religion of Jesus, which is modest, humble, teachable, meek, and lovely.. Shall I be counted an enemy to that Jesus, whose cause has been long dear to me, and which I hare endeavoured to exert my small abilities to support? Believe me to be your friend, believe me, though very unworthy and insufficient, to be
friend to, and an advocate for, the cause of Christianity. I now consider myself as standing on the verge of the gratë, my proper position; and a'in soon about to step into the presence of God, my Judge; and in this solemn posture, I humbly and earnestly beseech you, yea, I solemnly charge you in the presence of my Judge, seriously to pause, reflect and think. Examine your opinions and religious practices, by the written word of God; call in all the help you can, to understand and rightly apply the Scriptures; view and consider the steps that lead to Atheism, that bottomless gulph of mysteries; consider the steps others have taken, and where they have landed; avoid all Semipelagian, Arian and Socinian notions; see how directly they lead to infidelity. I beseech you by all the regard you have to the honour of God, to the virtue and happiness of your fellow citizens, to the interests of the Redeemer's kinga dom, to the happiness and comfort of many of your fellow Christians, and especially to the reforgation and salvation of a rising generation, and even generations yet unborn. By these regards, I say, I humbly and earnestly beseech you, seriously pause and think. Pause and think again. llave you not been led on nearly in the steps I have pointed out, and which I impeifectly pointed out to some leaders near a year and a half ago? Are you not now standing on ground, which you would at that time have shuddered at the thought of approaching? And can you tell me where you or your leaders will stop? Have you not been led from Calrinism to Arminianism ?—from Arminianism to Semipelagianism?- from that to Arianism?- from Arianism to Socioianism? Thus you have arriven to the 5tli grade in the road of error, which is five-eighths of the way to Atheism. Had the whole been discovered to you at first, you never could have been brought to the precipice on which you now stand. But you have been artfully prepared for each step, before you were inform. ed of what lay before you; your minds have been illuminated (if I may use such a contradiction) by the mists of darkness, artfully cast before you. I again beseech you, seriously pause and think. Pause and think again. I earnestly beseech you, for my heart is in it-Pause and think! pause and think again!!!-Be
not, led by your feelings, they are a fallacious guide, suffer not your judgments to be biassed by your love or dislike to any description of men. - I speak as unto wise
judge ye what I say. Now, my Christian friends, I do with a heart bleeding for Zion's wounds, with love and esteem for you, bid you an affectionate farewell.
A SECOND EPISTLE TO THE CITIZENS OF
KENTUCKY, PROFESSING THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO ARE, OR HAVE BEEN, DENOMINATED PRESBY. TERIANS.-By the Rev. David Rice. (First printed in 1808.)
There is reason to suppose that some of you are willing to know my opinion of the present state of religion in our country, probably thinking my knowledge of it more accurate than it really is. Be this as it may, my late tour through part of this state, and the information I have received from other parts, give me some idea of it, which I am willing to communicate. If my information should not be in all respects accurate, you will correct it by the best means in your possession.
The present state of religion in this land, I think. must appear truly distressing to every friend of Zion. The night, years ago predicted, is now come; the clouds of darkness, then collecting, have overspread our horizon.
Here, however, it is proper to observe, that a number of the professors of christianity better understand the great principles of the reformation than formerly, are more attached to them, and sensible of the danger of departing from them. This is one good effect produced, or rather occasioned, by the religious revolutions which have taken place in our country. In this respect we are much better prepared for a revival of religion than we were ten years ago.
Of those who formerly professed the doctrine of salvation by electing love and free sovereign grace, many seem now to abhor the doctrine of particular election. They must consequently conclude, that what distinguishes man, the good from the bad, the believer from the unbeliever, is their better improving a spark of 'grace given to every man by some exertion of their own will. The doctrine taught by such is, that now,
under the gospel, every man may be saved if he will. This proposition, rightly explained, is a precious truth of God's word; but as commonly used and understood, it leads into a fatal error. 7
The abettors of this doctrine of free will do not re alize that the chief difficulty, the main obstacle in the way of fallen man's salvation, is unwillingness: that man's depravity greatly consists in this: that until this is removed, nothing is, or can be, effectually done: that