BARBER'S BLOCK. One morning my master, going out upon business, left me alone in the shop. Soon after, Mr. Observation, my neighbor, came in; but seeing nobody within but himself, seemed to take no notice of me, and seated himself in a corner to wait my master's return. Soon after, a Methodist minister came in, who, in his usual jocular way of speech, addressed me in the following manner.
MINISTER. Good morning, Mr. Block. All alone! What has taken your master out this morning? You look very sober, and a little pensive today.
BARBER'S BLOCK. Good morning to you, Sir. My master, I judge, is gone to visit some of his out-customers this morning; and leaving me alone, I have had the opportunity of turning my thoughts upon religion: this is the reason, I judge, why you think I look so pensive. You know religion is a solemn subject, and I am very glad you have come in at so convenient a time, for I have heard of your being in these parts; I have also heard much about your preaching, and am informed you understand and can explain parables; and by so doing, refute the errors and misrepresentations of others. As such, perhaps, I may gain some instruction from you, as we have this opportunity now, in the absence of my master. I hope, Sir, you have no objection to give me your advice?
MINISTER. I think it my duty to give instruction, according to the best of my ability, to any who I think need or desire it; but I am somewhat surprised you should request such a favor, when I view your visage, and call to mind the many opportunities you have had of hearing almost all topics upon religion so ably handled by your master's customers; and especially when I consider how many wigs, from wise heads, have been put upon yours, while they received a dressing from your master. Therefore I wonder you have not received instruction from the one, or derived virtue from the other, to make you wiser than to need instruction from me.
BARBER'S BLOCK. True, Sir; yet you know that "great men are not always wise, neither do the aged understand judgment." The old proverb remains true, "We may live and learn."
MINISTER. Very true; I hope you will pardon my freedom; I meant no harm. But what is it that you wish to learn in matters of religion?
BARBER'S BLOCK. Indeed, many things; but this one in particular; and to be short, WHAT IS IT THAT SAVES A LOST SINNER FROM ETERNAL RUIN?
MINISTER. A good inquiry truly. It deserves the closest investigation, as it is of everlasting importance. But it is not one, but many things combining and uniting together, that saves the sinner.
BARBER'S BLOCK. Yes; I judge that it consists of various parts, and not one, or two, or more, separately or jointly, but all its parts uniting in one grand point, that perform the work. Will you then give me the liberty to ask your opinion of what I judge to be the chief parts?
MINISTER. Ask what you think proper that is likely to do you good, and you shall have my judgment upon it freely.
BARBER'S BLOCK. I thank you kindly. Then, do you suppose that the sovereign love of God to the sinner is the sole moving cause of all the blessings of salvation, and that from this cause, God elected and predestinated man to eternal life, by, or in, Christ Jesus?
MINISTER. As to the love of God being the cause of salvation, as it is the cause of all good, to that I have no objection; nor to election and predestination, if properly understood. But we are not to understand the decrees of God as absolute and unconditional, but as proceeding upon foresight; for God foresees all things, good or bad, from the beginning, and acts accordingly; and though it is said that the "children yet unborn, having done neither good nor evil, that the purpose of God, according to election might stand," it is not said that God did not foresee what they would do in time, and so choose or reject them accordingly. He sees from eternity, with one view, who, amongst the whole posterity of Adam, will perform the conditions of salvation, and who will not, and so elects, and predestinates to life all the obedient; and ordains to death the disobedient. This we call eternal election; and it is the sentiment of all our great and leading men in the Methodist connection, such as Mr. Wesley, Mr. Fletcher, etc., whose wisdom in religion, few in our days dispute. No, their doctrines are received as the undeniable standard of truth.
BARBER'S BLOCK. Well, in this I think I understand you pretty well. But are there not some who obtain grace to renew their hearts, have the Spirit, faith, repentance, etc., and are in the love of God, and yet fall away and perish? Now, did God act upon a foresight of the two states of such persons? He saw them perform the conditions, so far as to obtain his grace. He saw them afterwards reject them. Did he predestinate, first, to life on sight of the first, and then to death on sight of the last--elect and pass them by at the same time?
MINISTER. We readily acknowledge that we both believe and preach that there are many in the love and favor of God, and have the Spirit, with all the graces you mention, yet who lose the whole, and are themselves lost at last; and I think Mr. Fletcher, in his "Genuine Creed," says, that God loves such according as he sees their obedience in becoming sheep; but as he also foresees that they will again change and turn into goats, he hates them. So he may predestinate to life or death the same person, according to his performance or non-performance, for anything that I can see. But this is not all that is necessary for salvation. There is redemption, regeneration, etc., before we can be saved.
BARBER'S BLOCK. Certainly, Sir; I was just going to ask your opinion upon redemption by Christ, and what you say it is?
MINISTER. Redemption is a work performed by Christ, in his life here on earth, by his death and resurrection from the grave, and is man's deliverance from evils thereby.
BARBER'S BLOCK. And from what is man redeemed by the work of Christ, in his life, death, and resurrection?
MINISTER. From the curse of the law, from deceit, from all iniquity; out of the hand of the terrible one, from death, from all enemies, from destruction, and to God. "Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood." This is the Scripture account of what they are redeemed from and to.
BARBER'S BLOCK. And a very pleasing account too; but what is the extent of this redemption? Does it reach to all or only a part of mankind?
MINISTER. To all and every individual of the human race. "He gave himself for all;" "was a ransom for all;" "died for the sins of the whole world;" "tasted death for every man," etc. as the Scriptures declare. I am not so narrow-spirited as to suppose that Christ died only from part of mankind, and left out the rest; but believe that he died alike for all.
BARBER'S BLOCK. I thank you for your remarks and plain assertions; I now think I can come at the thing I wish to know, and that is, how a sinner is saved? If Christ died for all, redeemed them from the curse and all iniquity, and to God, then surely this is salvation; and, in justice, all mankind will be saved.
MINISTER. Stop, Sir; do not draw your inferences so hastily. You seem to have forgotten the great gospel axiom, the conditions that are to be performed by men, in order to obtain redemption. It is the work of Christ, and in his hands, and men obtain it by the performance of the things required by God. Those who comply have redemption by Christ: those who do not, have it not. Do not let the conditions slip out of your mind; but keep them in view, and they will be your guide.
BARBER'S BLOCK. Sir, I will think of them. But when Christ undertook to redeem men, I suppose none will deny that he foresaw who would do those things, and who would not. He might have spared himself his agony and bloody sweat, his pangs on the cross, and the pains of hell that got hold of him, for all those that he saw would not be obedient; and only have suffered for those that he saw would perform the conditions. I cannot see what use it could be of for him to die for those whom he saw would not be benefited by it. Did not Christ so far die in vain?
MINISTER. No, he did not die in vain; for if he must not be glorified by their salvation, he will be so by their greater damnation. Awful will it be for those who are determined to wade through the blood of Christ to hell; it will increase their torments many folds.
BARBER'S BLOCK. Dreadful; indeed, to think of; but more so to experience. I have heard some of my master's customers say, they could not bear the thoughts of God passing by some, while he chose others, leaving the former to suffer for their sins as law-breakers, and, at the same time, saving others quite as unworthy; which they call the reprobation of the Calvinists, and think it very cruel indeed; but I must beg leave to say that I think this is much more so; that when Christ saw that they would not be saved by all that he could do, he would not pass them by, leaving them to suffer as law-breakers; but would himself be punished, that they might be punished many folds to eternity. From which it appears to me, that if Christ's death cannot procure salvation, it can procure damnation.
MINISTER. Yes; and don't you think that such as might have been saved if they would, and have complied with the easy terms of salvation, deserve it; those who would not hear the calls of God?
BARBER'S BLOCK. Yes; I acknowledge to obey is better than sacrifice; and by the hint given, you bring to my mind another thing that I wish to hear your opinion of; that is, the call of God.
MINISTER. You mean, God's calling men to repentance, faith, and obedience to his commands and appointments.
BARBER'S BLOCK. And by what does he call men to this work?
MINISTER. By his word and Spirit, which he giveth to every man to profit withal, Christian and Heathen, by one means or other.
BARBER'S BLOCK. And is this call of such power as to cause all men to comply and be obedient to the commands of God?
MINISTER. No; some, when they have considered what they hear, and begin to repent, and believe in Jesus Christ, become obedient, and perform the conditions by which they obtain more grace, and secure more talents from God; others harden themselves when called, and so remain in their sins.
BARBER'S BLOCK. And do those who believe and repent obtain true grace to save their souls?
MINISTER. Yes; they obtain a new heart and a right spirit, true faith to Christ, repentance towards God, redemption, pardon of all their sins, justification through his blood, and all spiritual blessings which they are blessed with in Christ Jesus.
BARBER'S BLOCK. I thank you; for surely here is that which I wanted to know, the manner of a sinner's acceptance with God. And if they have received all these glorious things they will be saved. They are those which I ought to seek for in myself, for if I happily find them I shall be safe.
MINISTER. You are right in part; that you should seek for, and attain to them, as they are great things. But then, in the other part of your observation, that you will be safe if you have them, in that you are wrong; for many have them, but do not keep them; and after they have had them for a time, set their faces and hearts against them, turn the whole of the blessing out of doors, and turn again to the world and sin, and perish at last.
BARBER'S BLOCK. I thank you, Sir, for your opinion on those points and doubt not that you have been both honest and sincere; yet, I must confess, such is my dullness, that I cannot yet see wherein the real matter of salvation lies, according to your statement.
Mr. OBSERVATION, you have been silent hitherto, and I doubt not your observation of what has passed. Will you have the goodness to favor us with your remarks upon it?
Mr. OBSERVATION. Yes, I have been silent, and have paid some attention to your discourse; but cannot find that salvation lieth in any of those things stated and defined by the minister: not in the predestination and election of God; for here, God proceeds not of his own will, but as he is influenced by the will and action of the creature; for if God foresees that man, in time, wills and performs good, then he wills his election to life; and if he see he wills not to perform good, then his will is moved to predestinate him to death: so that the will of man is the moving cause of election.
BARBER'S BLOCK. Yes, I suppose it to be so from the statement; and if it had not so happened that some men are better disposed than others, God could have elected none to eternal life, for want of man's obedience.
Mr. OBSERVATION. No; not one of the human race. I think it appears that the salvation of sinners no more lies in redemption by Christ, than in election; for our friend says, that all men are redeemed by Christ, from sin, Satan, the curse of the law, and death; yet many, so redeemed, are finally lost; and if so, salvation is not in redemption, otherwise they must be saved: but man's obtaining it is by what he performs. If he is obedient, he hath it; if not, he hath it not.
BARBER'S BLOCK. Yes; this appears very evident. But then, does not the sinner's salvation rest in the call of God to men, being the means which he has appointed?
Mr. OBSERVATION. Not according to the definition of that doctrine by the minister; for he says, God calls all men; and some, when they hear, believe, repent, etc., and by so doing obtain the grace and salvation of God; others who do the contrary, obtain nothing. In both cases, the call of God is the same. Then, this being the case, it cannot be in the call, but in the willingness of those who hear and obey.
BARBER'S BLOCK. Well; but those who do hear and obey obtain regeneration, faith in Christ, repentance towards God, and have the Spirit of the Lord; are pardoned, redeemed, and justified; in a word are really true Christians. Then, I should suppose their salvation rests in the power of the Spirit, together with their faith and repentance, which are the conditions required. This, I judge, must be the true cause of salvation.
Mr. OBSERVATION. Not so, either; for though they have performed the conditions, and have the Spirit, etc., and are at present in the love and favor of God, yet if at any time they degenerate and backslide, they turn out of doors the Spirit, their faith and repentance, the favor of God, and all the good they possessed, and go themselves into perdition at last. It is not, then, these things that can save them, for they were once possessed of them. So that not all that God the Father has done, in electing and predestinating them from foreknowledge of the good he saw in them; nor all that God the Son has done, in redeeming them; nor all that God the Spirit has done, in renewing their souls; nor their performance of the conditions: all these put together cannot save their souls; for all these things these apostates had once; and if they could have done the work, it would have been done; so that you must seek for salvation somewhere else, for these all say, "It is not with me."
BARBER'S BLOCK. Indeed, Sir, you almost drive me to despair; for whence shall I seek for, or expect to find salvation, if not in some, or all of these things? I think it is not to be had from the angels of God, though some have worshipped them; and fallen angels, if they had the power, have not the disposition, for they hate both God and man. To whom, then, shall I go? To the Holy Virgin? For I have heard some say, they believe the mother to be above the Son. Can I meet with salvation from her? Or to which of the saints shall I turn?
Mr. OBSERVATION. No, no; for according to the above doctrine, as stated by your friend, you need not be at so much pains, or go so far from home; you may find it in yourself, in what men call free-will, but what I call the will of the flesh; for what better than this is man possessed of while dead in trespasses and sins? And yet, when God inclines to choose and predestinate, he does it on foresight of what the will of the flesh will do. Christ redeemed, but it is the will of the flesh that must obtain, or the man must be lost; God calls, but it rests with the will of the flesh whether it shall be obeyed or rejected. And if the will of the flesh so far hear, and comply, and obtain the new birth, and all the before-mentioned blessings, yet it rests with the will of the flesh whether these things remain with them or be turned out. So here you find the very power and essence of salvation, and you are to look to this adorable and dignified thing, the will of the flesh.
MINISTER. Be not so hasty, Sir; you never heard any of us say that it was the will of the flesh that saved the sinner, either from the pulpit or press. No; but on the contrary, we affirm from both that man is a dead sinner, and can do nothing towards his salvation, as you may see in a sermon published by Mr. Charles Wesley. These are the words, (Eph. 5:14,) "That a dead sinner can do nothing towards his salvation, no more than one corporally dead can arise, and perform the functions of a living man." And Mr. Fletcher, in the first volume of his works, proves from the word of God, that man can do nothing to save the soul; but that it is of, and from, the grace of God, who giveth to every one, Jew or Gentile, Heathen or Christian, one or more talents of grace; and if he improve them according to the means that God favors him with, he shall thereby obtain more grace; but if not, he shall be damned; and this is the initiating grace of God, and man's ability; and not the will of the flesh, as you affirm.
Mr. OBSERVATION. It is true I never heard you say, either from the pulpit or the press, that it was the will of the flesh that saves; but I think it is your fault that you do not; for hereby you deceive the people, in preaching and publishing doctrines that center in the will of the flesh, and lead men to rest there. It must be so, according to your system. Not in the will and good pleasure of God, for you say he would save them if the will of man would comply; not in redemption by Christ, for he hath redeemed them, but they will not have it; not in the call, for many will not obey; not in that grace that any can receive, for the will of man turns out the Spirit of God with all his graces, and changes himself again from grace to nature, from peace to wrath, from love to hatred, from a sheep of Christ to a goat of Satan, from salvation to damnation. And what you bring forward to confute this truth, confirms it; that is, that God gives every man a talent of grace to improve; which, according as he improves, he wins or loses, is saved or lost. Now, had you said that God gave a talent of grace to improve the man, change his heart, and save his soul, I should have believed you: that grace would have saved the man. But you say, with Mr. Fletcher, that the man has to improve the talent, till by degrees he obtains salvation. Now, let me ask you, or Mr. Fletcher, what a man is, or what he has, before he receives the talent? Nothing, nothing at all, as confessed by you both, but a sinful fallen nature, the will of the flesh, to improve the talent with. So it comes to the same point, and confirms it. If the will of the flesh work well, and labor hard, he obtains; but should he prove idle, or despise the talent, and will not be up and be doing, he has no salvation; and if he cannot prove that man has not something more than the will of the flesh before he receives the talent, if it be improved at all, it must be that which does it, and on it your salvation depends. Would it not be safer for you to believe that the talent improves and saves the man, than that the man improves and saves, or keeps, the talent?
MINISTER. You may say what you please; but we believe that God has provided salvation for every man upon his obedience, and has sent us, his ministers, to call him to the performance of the conditions, and to make every man an offer of the grace of God, on his compliance with the terms; and to assure them that God has done his part, and if they will do theirs they shall be saved.
Mr. OBSERVATION. Yes; I readily grant that what you have said is the manner of your ministry, at which I have often been astonished, and have never been able to reconcile one part of your exercises with another. In your prayers to God, you set out with requesting him to give his grace to sinners, that thereby he may change their hearts: to give them the grace of faith and repentance; grace to pardon, justify, sanctify, and save them. All this you ask God to bestow, and communicate unto them; then, in the space of forty minutes after, you are offering and tendering grace and salvation to every one there before God. When I hear all this, I wonder how it is! For in your prayer you seem to convey this idea, that it is the prerogative of the Lord only to give; and now, in this short space of time, you speak as if you were the tenderers of it to the people, if they are willing to receive it. Now, though many are not, yet I think in most congregations there are some who are wishing to have grace and salvation. Suppose one of these were to stand up, and say to you, "I am desirous to receive, and you are ready to give; will you have the goodness to give me the grace of faith, and the grace of pardon, of justification, sanctification, and salvation?" Would you not be under the necessity of answering the petitioner in the language of the wise virgins to the foolish, "'Not so, lest there be not enough for you and me;' for I have no more of this grace than will save myself, if so much?" Would you not have to send the poor petitioner to some other fountain for grace? Would you not be obliged to send him to Christ, in whom it is, and out of whose fullness only it can be received; and tell him to make his requests known to God, and wait there at his throne, till he is pleased to hear and give? Would not the man be obliged to return from you greatly disappointed, and you be compelled to sit down covered with shame? And would it be going too far, were the people to exclaim, "This man is a mocker; he offers grace and salvation, and when any one desires it, he has none to give or make a present of?" Let me advise you to lay aside such mockery, and send the people to God, in whom grace is, and who alone can bestow it; for he will not entrust it with you, nor give you the honor of disposing of it to any. No; it is his own prerogative, and his own glory, to have mercy on whom he will, and give his grace to whom, and when, he pleaseth.
MINISTER. I think I begin to perceive you are what we call a Calvinist in sentiment, and I should not wonder if an Antinomian too, who believes that whatsoever comes to pass in time was decreed and appointed of God from eternity,--a doctrine I most abominably hate, though I think neither you, nor any other man, has any right to blame us, or any others, according to this doctrine, on account of what we preach or do; for if all things were ordained of God, and must come to pass in that way, then it was ordained that we should believe, preach, and practice as we do; and we, as well as others, are fulfulling the purposes of God. It cannot be wrong to fulfill his counsel. So that after all, if you be right, we cannot be right, we cannot be wrong; this may yield us some consolation.
Mr. OBSERVATION. If you know me to be a Calvinist, you know more of me than I know of myself, for I never saw or read any of that great reformer's works, except one page; and I am sure we differed as far in sentiment on the subject he was treating, as two persons could do; yet in others we may be agreed, for anything I know. But it is not men however noted, neither Calvin, Luther, Wesley, nor Fletcher, that I wish to follow in my faith, but the pure word of prophecy, the Scriptures of truth; and am not ashamed to own that I believe God fixed, settled, and decreed all things from eternity; yes, and that you, and all others, are fulfilling the decrees of God; and yet, notwithstanding that, many will be found wrong! So that this watch-word of yours, "If they be right, we cannot be wrong," so common in the mouths of the Methodists, will not yield you so much consolation as you may be dreaming of; and if I understand your meaning right, it is this, that if God decreed all things that men do, they cannot be culpable; they are fulfilling his counsels; so they are right; they cannot be wrong. But did not God decree to suffer angels and men to break his holy law, when he had power to put a stop unto it, had it been his will? God made man and angels upright: he foresaw they would find out many evil inventions, and transact them too, if he did not prevent it. When he foresaw it, he must come to some determination in his own mind, whether he would permit or prevent. But we are bound to believe this undeniable fact, that as he did not prevent it, he decreed to permit it; and he permits it still, when he could put a stop to it at any moment; and when man sins of his own accord, God, supporting his life providentially, permits the opportunities for him so to do. Shall men say to God, "Because thou hast decreed to continue life and health, or to suffer us to act with our own hearts, etc. etc., therefore we cannot be wrong?" Men, I know, will shift off their own sins to some others, if they can; and blame God himself, rather than acknowledge a crime, or plead guilty. Adam was ready to say, "The woman thou gavest to be with me, she gave me;" and the woman, "The serpent beguiled me," etc. But we do not hear either of these say, "Thou permittedst Satan to find us out, to tempt us, and us to fall thereby; all which thou couldst have prevented: but if thou hast decreed to permit this temptation, and we to comply with it, we cannot be wrong in performing it." But they were not arrived at such a pitch of wickedness. Shimei cursed David. Then said Abishai to David, "Let me go over and take off his head?" "No," says David, "the Lord hath bidden him curse." Now, had any blamed Shimei for cursing the Lord's anointed, or said he was blame-worthy in doing so, he might have replied, "God decreed to permit me to curse David, yea more, he hath bidden me; and what! Is it a sin to do what God has appointed and bids me do? If God be right in the appointment, I cannot be wrong in the execution." Yet we do not read that Shimei was got so far, in charging his wickedness on God's permission. The apostle Peter, speaking to those who had crucified Christ, tells them, that he was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, whom they with wicked hands had taken, and crucified, and slain; and this was what God's hand and counsel had determined to be done. Did Peter tell them they were fulfilling the decrees of God in murdering the Lord of glory? Then might they not have replied, "Peter, if thou be right, we cannot be wrong; these hands were appointed to do it, or the purpose of God could not be fulfilled?" But though we read that the Jews contradicted and blasphemed the gospel, when preached by Paul and others, yet we do not read that they were arrived at such a degree of blasphemy as to say, "If you be right, we cannot be wrong." We read of an evil spirit having permission from God to go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of the false prophets, to deceive Ahab, and that he prevailed. Yet, we believe the wicked spirit will be found wrong in his request, and that those whom he influenced will be found so, in acting after his devices. We read that Satan, by permission, transforms himself into an angel of light, in order to deceive; and that his ministers are transformed into ministers of righteousness, for the same purpose: yet, we believe both Satan and his ministers will be found wrong at last. We believe that in the last days mockers shall come, walking after their own lusts; men shall bring in damnable heresies, and many shall follow their pernicious ways, by whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of; that men shall be lovers of themselves, high-minded, etc. Now, if God had not fixed that all these things should be, he could not have told us in his word, but must have waited until he had settled it in his mind; and as he, eighteen hundred years ago, declared it should be, so it must be, or those parts of his word must fall to the ground unfulfilled; and then, who can depend upon any part of it? But it is the unerring word of truth, and must be right; and all the above-mentioned things are evils, which we think will be found wrong. I confess, that if I be one of the above characters, I shall undoubtedly be wrong. But if you think otherwise, and can brave it out before God, you are welcome to believe it, if you think it will stand the trial. But, "O man! Who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say unto him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus?"
MINISTER. Indeed, Sir, I fear you are like the general part of your brethren, got seated in an easy chair; but take care that you do not sit still until the devil pull you out, or you will then see what the decrees of God will do for you; and while you have such faith as this, you will be up and doing; for, while you believe that God will save so many by his sovereign grace, you will say, "If God will have me, he will fetch me; if not, he will not save me, do all I can." Such doctrine can have no other tendency than to harden men in sin. No wonder that you Calvinists have black hearts.
Mr. OBSERVATION. If to believe the decrees of God, and that he works all things after the counsel of his own will, is being seated in an easy chair, I confess I am set there, and am likely to remain for anything you have advanced to refute my faith. Whatever may pull me out I know not; and that God must come and fetch me, if ever I get to heaven, is a truth. I am sure he has fetched many already from earth to heaven. He promised his disciples that if he went away, he would come again and receive them to himself; that where he was, there they should be also. And if we are found in the situation of him that fell amongst the thieves, wounded and helpless; and if you working priests and Levites pass us by on every side, looking on, but affording no relief; if we are not able to help ourselves or arise at your call, pity us, rather than despise and reproach us! And if the God of all grace should send the good Samaritan; and should he, in great mercy, pour out the wine and oil of grace into our wounds, bind them up, set us on his own beast, carry us to the inn, pay the cost, order the host to take care of us, and promise to be at the whole charge for us; do not begrudge his free bounty, we cannot be happy or saved without it. But if you are whole and not wounded; or if you can cure yourself, or walk to the inn; or, when you get there, if you can take care of yourself, or pay the cost, you have your liberty, and do the best you can. We confess that we can do nothing, no, not even when convinced of our lost state, but smite upon our breasts, and cry, "God be merciful to us, sinners!" Or, "Save, Lord, or we perish!" As to our doctrine having a tendency to sin, it is a very old charge, brought against Paul and others in their day by those who affirmed that they said, "Let us do evil that good may come." We rejoice to be ranked with such honorable company as the apostles. If we have our principles from the same fountain, are called by the same Lord, have our eyes opened by the same hand, and our heart changed by the same power, we certainly must, in degree, be as deserving of slander and reproach as these good men were from the world, and the opponents of our Lord Jesus Christ, for giving the glory of man's salvation to him alone, not presuming to join the filthy rags of our righteousness to that great name, to whom be honor and glory, for ever and ever! If we be in this situation, we have reason, indeed, to rejoice and be exceeding glad, when men shall say all manner of evil against us for his sake. But we believe that you ought to be ashamed of being ranked with those who brought the charge: and as to the blackness of our hearts, we know they are so; yes, we are vile sinners, and no better; evil is present with us; we cannot find any perfection, either in or about us. Yet we will not despair; we know that sinners can be saved without the deeds of the law. The blood of Christ and the Spirit of truth are able to cleanse us from all sin: and in the day of his power we shall be a willing people, to obey and serve God in the way of his own appointments. We seek and look for salvation in his righteousness alone; for we know that in us, that is, in our flesh, dwelleth no good thing.
MINISTER. I find, then, you will abide by your own system, let the consequences be what they may. Take a fool and bray him in a mortar with a pestle among wheat, yet his foolishness will not depart from him! I find my words have no effect on Mr. Observation. But what think you of these things, Mr. Block? You have heard my faith, and his remarks upon it; to which side do you feel your mind inclined?
BARBER'S BLOCK. Well; to speak according to the inclination of my mind, I believe Mr. Observation to be on the better side of the question, if I be any judge of these things; for he has shown, that according to your doctrine, salvation lies not in the will of God; for you affirm that he wills the salvation of all men, but cannot effect it, because the creature is not willing too. You say that Christ has redeemed all men, but this does not save them, because they will not perform the conditions to obtain it. You believe that God calls every one, but many will not obey. You say he gives to every one a talent or talents of grace, and some men, being more obedient than others, improve their talents, believe and repent, have their hearts renewed, and are pardoned of God; yet many of these turn their blessings out, come under condemnation, and are finally lost. Therefore, none of the before-mentioned things can possibly be that which saves lost sinners; that is to say, not in God willing their salvation, though you say he does will it, yet they are not saved by it; nor in redemption by Christ, for you say he has redeemed all men, yet many of those are finally lost; nor God's call, or talent given; this you say they have also; nor regeneration; nor the Spirit of God; nor faith in Christ; nor repentance towards God; nor their being once pardoned and justified; for many, you assert, have had all these things in possession, yet are not saved by them all put together. And what, besides these, does man possess but the will of the flesh? And you seem unwilling to admit that that should save him. Will you have the goodness then, to describe unto me what is it which does this great work, and whence I am to seek for it?
MINISTER. That, indeed, will be no very hard task; but I beg to be excused for the present, as business calls me away.