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hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Ye who sometimes were afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ. The salvation of a people, in so corrupt, and helpless, and hopeless a state, in so short a time, could not have been of themselves; nor of works. The assumption of such a proposition would have shocked reason, especially, if contrasted with the following character of the salvation. Sealed with the holy spirit of promise, the earnest of the eternal inheritance. The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye might know what is the hope of his calling. What the exceeding greatness of his power. We both have access by one spirit unto the father; builded together for a habitation of God through the spirit; strengthened with might by his spirit in the inner man; rooted and grounded in love-walking with all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering, forbearing one another in love, speaking the truth in love, &c.
Suppose then, that the apostle had said; it is now but a short time since I found you, O ye Ephesians, in such a state of sin; and in so short a time, ye have made yourselves so holy, and happy, of yourselves, and of your works, without the grace of God, without faith, and without the gift of God; you may well therefore boast, for surely no men could have greater cause of boasting. Suppose the apostle had said thus, would he not have shocked all reason?
It may confidently be affirmed, that effects do not spring from causes, before the causes exist. Grace as a cause of salvation precedes it.
Christianity was a new religion. It was new to Paul, and he was a new minister of it; the effects of his preaching were also
But Paul was not converted from atheism, or infidelity. He had been very religious, in the popular meaning of the term. From being one of the strictest, of the most strict sect of the Jews, a conscientious and zealous pharisee, he became a christian, and an apostle. And he acknowledges, that Judaism, in any sense of the word, had no influence in his salvation. He parted with all in opinion, and in fact to win Christ; and he did win him, with the loss of all things. He was found in Christ.
Whoever claims to have saved himself by his works, may be fairly asked, when? When did you do it? Before you were a christian, or afterwards? If before, were you a Jew, or a Gentile? In either case you may boast. If afterwards, how many years did it take you to save yourself by your works?
Let us apply our reasons by analogy. Is church government, in any form necessary to salvation? Is government grace, or is it works? To which class does it belong ? Is church government necessary to the awakening, and conversion of sinners, or to the commencement of a new church? Men are, and may be saved, before they become members of a church at all.
The necessity of church government, is urged, in almost every instance against new churches, as though there were no such text in the New Testament, as “By grace, through faith.” The objection does not assume, that a church cannot continue under all circumstances, without some government; but that it cannot begin to be, as though government “lies against” newly saved, or converted persons, who continue in their first love. Is not the looking for a model of church government in a primitive church, in some respects, like looking for salvation by works in it? Or like looking for examples of feeding on strong meat, among babes, who are fed on milk only?
It is of the utmost importance, that not only the fact of the existence of the first church should be settled, but the cause also. Was the cause divine? or was it human? or was it so far unknown, as to appear accidental? The answer is, it was grace, and faith; by grace, through faith: the gift of God; not human agency, or accident. To all the members of the first church, when it first began, the whole must have appeared new. They remembered the time when the church was not. The apostles too were the newest of all preachers.
We may begin in this country with the last edition of the discipline of the Methodist Episcopal church, and go back in a chronological order, to the conversion of Mr. Wesley; and by applying to every change or addition of the discipline the universal principle or rule, that no cause can follow an effect; cut off all boasted causes of salvation one by one, or compel their advocates to deny the salvation of all, before the date of those assumed causes. Thus the episcopacy was introduced in 1784. Not a soul waš saved by it, before it was brought into operation, and so of every case. do not contend, that lay representation is necessary to salvation; for if we did we must deny our own salvation ; but we do contend, that it will not necessarily prevent salvation. It does not destroy nor adulterate any truth, as it is in Jesus. It takes no jewel out of the Saviour's crown.
It does not frustrate the grace of God. To say that the friends of lay representation cannot be saved, or be a church, must mean or imply, that God will not give
his grace to them, or that the principle and practice are displeasing to God. To be saved by grace, through faith, accords with the axiom ‘God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.'
Almost all my reputation as a preacher, was derived from themes and subjects of grace and faith, which either sprung from, or led to the idea of lay representation. Several of these discourses have been admired by travelling preachers. Their effects upon myself have often been great. My plan has been to publish a second volume of miscellaneous essays, and a third volume, exclusively religious or theological. Either of the volumes might thus be read by itself, though the others might not please, or be regarded with indifference.
NICHOLAS SNETHEN. Baltimore, Sept. 15th, 1835.
Note.—The original overran the calculation. The remaining essays in the “Inteligencer” are omitted, as they would have made the volume disproportionately thick.
Electing Local Preachers, manner of,
Letters to a Young Preacher,
do to Friends and Patrons, 194, 197, 200, 202, 205, 207
Memorial to Members of the Preachers Annual Conference, 91
Methodist E. Church,
Neal's History of the Puritans,