Extracts from a Letter written to my Son William
settled at Illinois -- dated Nov. 1826.
With reference to the peculiarities
of the different religious sects mentioned in your letter, I am not ingnorant.
The Methodists are arminians in doctrine, but
in their prayers & much of their christian experience, they seem to
be evangelical & approaching to calvinism. Their error concerning
doctrines arises from their notion of moral freedom. They contend
that it consists in possessing a self-determining power to originate their
own actions (a power that none but Deity possesses); while Clavinists
hold that it consists in doing as we please in a state of dependence on
God, who worketh in us both to will & to do. This notion of self-determining
power inclines them to reject the doctrines of election & perseverance.
So far as their error is of the head & not of the heart,
they may be sincere christians notwithstanding: & it is charitably
hoped the bulk of them are. But their system seems to impel them to walk
more by sensible feeling, than by faith in the promises.
With respect to the Baptists,
the difference is not essential so far as relates merely to the ordinance,
it being equally valid, whether administered by immersion or sprinkling.*
Our Saviour's baptism, whatever it was, & however administered, we
think could not be christian baptism, or a model for our imitation. He
had no sins to confess or wash away, & he could not be baptized in
his own name. It was probably his public consecration to office,
as Aaron was washed at the door of the tabernacle before he was clothed
with the pontifical garments. He was a minister of the circumcision
& christian baptism was not instituted till after his resurrection.