« PreviousContinue »
ples, and Mr. Baxter among the Puritan divines, that is, the person peculiarly commissioned by the Bishop of souls, to defend the gospel against the encroachments of Antinomians,) aims at stemming the torrent of their delusions, and not at all at ". injuring the fundamental principles of Christianity,” or bringing a dreadful heresy into the church.”
You may reply, that you do not so much consider what he aims at doing, as what he has actually done. Nay, Sir, the intention is what a candid judge, (much more a loving brother,) should particularly consider. If aiming to kill a wild beast, that attacks my friend, I unfortunately stab him, it is a “ melancholy accident;" but he wrongs me much, who represents it as a dreadful barbarity.' In like manner, if Mr. W. has unhappily wounded the truth, in attempting to give the wolf in sheep's clothing a killing stroke, his mistake should rather be called “ well-meant legality" than dreadful heresy.
You possibly reply, “Let any one look at these Minutes, and say, whether all the unawakened clergy in the land would not approve and receive them.” And what, if they did ? Would the propositions be the worse, barely for this ? Is nothing gospel, but what directly shocks common sense ? And is the Apostles' Creed dreadfully heretical, because all the carnal clergy of the church of England, yea, and of the church of Rome, receive it? At this strange rate, we must give up the Bible itself, for all the Socinians receive it. Ashamed of taking further notice of an argument by which every Papist might attack the reasonable siinplicity of our communion-service, and defend the gross absurdity of transubstantiation, I come to an objectiou of greater weight :
“Mr. W. contradicts himself. He has hitherto s preached salvation by faith, and now he talks of sal“ vation by works, us a condition: He has a thousand “ times offered a free pardon to the worst of sinners, 66 and now he has the assurance to declare, that a man " is to do something in order to justification. Where will you "find such inconsistencies ?"-Where! In the Old and New Testament, and especially in the epistles of the great preacher of free justification, and salvation by faith. There you will see many such seeming inconsistencies as these :-Eternal life is the gift of God through our Lord Jesus Christ : ' Charge the rich to lay np in store for themselves a good foundation, that they may lay hold on eternal life : We are temperate, to obtain au incorruptible crown.'- By grace ye are saved through faith: 'In so doing thou shalt save thyself. Work out your own salvation.'—We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves : « The Gentiles do by nature the things contained in the law.'— God justifieth the ungodly and him that worketh not : • He shall render to every man according to his works, even eternal life to them who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory.”—God forbid that I should glory in any thing, save in the cross of Christ: “As the truth of God is in me, no man shall stop me of this glorying,' that I have kept myself from being burdensome.--I am the chief of sinners: I have lived in all good conscience before God, until this day.'—We rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh : * Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity we have had our conversation in the world.'- Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us : Not of works, lest any man should boast ; for if it be of works, then it is no more grace, other. wise work is no more work : I keep under my body, lest I myself should be a cast-away: Be not deceived; whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap : He that soweth little, shall reap little; he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.'- I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, neither things present nor things to come, 8c. shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus : Those that fall away' crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame: For the earth which beareth thorns and briars is rejccted, and is nigh
anto cursing, whose end is to be burned. Some of the branches were broken off by unbelief, thou standest by faith; be not high-minded, but fear; continue in God's goodness, otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.'
Now, Sir, permit me to beg you would lay your hand, upon your heart, and say, whether malicious infidels have not a fairer show of reason to raise wicked men against St. Paul, than you have to raise good men against Mr. W.? And whether a grain of the candour with which you would reconcile the seeming $ contradictions of the great apostle, would not be more than sufficient to reconcile the seeming inconsistencies of the great minister whom you have so warmly attacked ?
Some persons indeed complain aloud, that “ Mr. W. in his new scheme of salvation by works, as a condition, fairly renounces Christ's blood and righteousness." I grant that the words “ blood and righteousness” are not found in the Minutes, but “ acceptance by believing in Christ is found there; and he must be a caviller indeed who asserts, that he means a Christ without blood, or a Christ without righteousness. Besides, when he cuts off the merit of works from having any share in our salvation, far from forgetting the meritorious life and death of the Redeemer, he effectually guards them, and the Protestant ark, sprinkled with the atoning blood, from the rash touches of all merit-mongers.t Add to this, that Mr. W. has sufficiently declared his faith in the atouement, in thousands of sermons and hymus, some of which are continually sung both by him and the real Protestants, so that 'out of their own mouth' their groundless charge may be refuted.
Again, the doctrine of the atonement had been fully discussed in forıner Conferences and Minutes, and Mr. W. is too methodical to bring the same thing over and
§ Most of these seeming inconsistencies of St. Paul, and those which are charged upon Mr. W., will be reconciled with the greatest case, by considering the two axioms mentioned in my first letter. In the former part of the imaginary contradictions, those servants of God make use of the first gospel-axiom; in the latter part, they employ the second, and thus declare the whole counsel of God.
| The name that Bishop Latimer gives to the Papists.
over again ; nor is it reasonable to expect, it should be peculiarly insisted upon in a charge against Antinomians, who rather abuse than deny it. Once more, Mr. W.'s extract of the Minutes is a memorandum of what was said in the latter part of a Conference, or conversation ; and no unprejudiced person will maintain, that those who do not expressly mention the atonement in every conversation do actually renounce it.
To conclude, if the Author of the Minutes had advanced the following propositions which you have dropped in your Second Sermon, you might have had some reason to suspect his not doing the atonement justice : (page 36.) “Christ only did that to the huinau nature, which Adain (had he stood upright) would have done." What! Sir, would Adam have died for his posterity, or did not Christ die for them ? You add, “ See the true reason of his death; that he might subdue the earthly life in every sense.”—And page 45, “ He certainly died for no other end, but that we might receive the spirit of holiness.” Mr. W. is of a very different sentiment, Sir ; for, poor heretic !, he believes with the Papists, that “ Cbrist died to make an atouement for us ;” and with St. John, that he is the propitiation for our sins, and for the sins of the whole world. Nevertheless he will not cry out, Dreadful heresy !, thongh he will probably think, that you were once a little too deeply iu Mr. Law’s sentiments. Leaving you to think with how much justice I might descant here upon this line of the satiric poet,
Dat veniam corvis, vexat censura columbas :
HONOURED AND REVEREND SIR,
We have seen how exceedingly commendable was Mr. W.'s design in writing what yoy have extracted from his last Minutes; and how far from being unanswerable are the general objections, which some have moved against them. Let us now proceed to a candid inquiry into the true meaning of the propositions. They are thus prefaced :
“We said in 1744, We have leaned too much toward Calvinism. Wherein ?"
This single sentence is enough, I grant, to make some persons account Mr. W. an heretic. He is not a Calvinist! And what is still more dreadful, he has the assurance to say, that he has leaned too much towards Calvin. ism! This will sound like a double heresy in their ears ; but not in your's, Sir, who seem to carry your Anti-Calvinistical notions farther than Mr. W. himself.
He never spoke more clearly to the point of free grace than you do, page 85, of your Sermons : “ God," say you, “never left himself without witness, not only from the “ visible things of the creation, but likewise from the “ iuward witness, a spiritual seed of light sown in the • soul of every son of man, Jew, Turk, or Pagan, as “ well as Christians, whose kindly suscitations whoever “ follows, will gladly perceive increasing gleams still “ leading farther on to nearer and far brighter advances, « till at length a full and perfect day bursts forth upon “ his ravished eyes.”—In this single sentence, Sir, you bear the noblezt testimony to all the doctrines in which Mr. W. dissents from the Calvinists : You begin with GENERAL REDEMPTION, and end with PERFECTION ; : or, to use your own expression, you follow him“ from the spiritual seed of light in a Turk," quite to the “ full