Page images
PDF
EPUB

shall be justified ;' the honest commeutator says, “The Jewish [Antinomian] doctors bolstered up their followers with an opinion, that all that were Jews, [the elect people of God,] how bad soever they lived, should have a glorious place in the world to come. This the apostle here opposes. It was a very great privilege that they had the law, but not a saving privilege, unless they lived up to the law they had. We may apply it to the gospel : It is not hearing, but doing that will save us. John xiii. 17 : James i. 22.”_Who does not perceive, that Mr. Henry saw the truth, and spoke it so far as he thought his Calvinistic readers could bear it ? Surely, if that good man dared to say so much, we, wl:o have “ done leaning too much towards Calvinism,” should be inexcusable if we did not say all.

IV. These testimonies will, I hope, make you weigh with an additional degree of candour the following arguments; which I shall produce as a Logician, lest any should be tempted to call me, a bold metaphysician, or almost a magician :

The voice that St. John heard in heaven, did not say, ' Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, for their FAITH follows them :' No, it is, their works. Faith is the hiddev root, hope the rising stalk, and love, together with good works, the nourishing corn: And as the kiug's agents, who fill a royal gravary, do not take in the roots and stalks, but the pure wheat alone ; so Christ takes neither faith nor hope into heaven, the former being gloriously absorbed in sight, and the latter in enjoyment.

If I may compare faith and hope to the chariot of Israel and the courser thereof,' they both bring believers to the everlasting doors of glory, but do not enter in themselves. Not so, love and good works; for love is both the nature and element of saints in glory; and good works necessarily follow them, both in the books of remembrance which shall then be opened, and in the objects and witnesses of those works, who shall then be all preseut; as it appears from the words of our Lord,

• You have done it,' or ' You have not done it, to one of the least of these my brethren ;' and those of St. Paul to his dear converts, “ You shall be my joy and my crown' iu that day.” Thus it is evident, that although faith is the temporary measure according to which God deals out His mercy and grace in this world, as we may gather from that sweet saying of our Lord, “Be it done to thee according to thy Faith ;' yet love and good works are the eternal measures, according to which he distributes justification and glory in the world to come. On these observations, I argue,

We shall be justified iu the last day, by the grace and evidences which shall then remain.

Love and good works, the fruits of faith, shall then remain.

Therefore we shall then be justified by love and good works, that is, not by faith, but by its fruits.

V. This doctrine, so agreeable to scripture, the sentiments of moderate Calvinists, and the dictates of reason, “recommends itself likewise to every man's conscience in the sight of God.' Who, but Dr. Crisp, could (after a calm “ review of the whole affair,”) affirm, that in the day of judgment, if I am accused of being actually an hypocrite, Christ's sincerity will justify me, whether it be found in me or not?

Again. Suppose I am charged with being a drunkard, a thief, a whoremonger, a covetous person ; or a fretful, impatient, ill-natured man; or, if you please, a proud bigot, an implacable zealot, a malicious persecutor, who, notwithstanding fair appearances of godliness, would raise disturbances even in heaven if I were admitted there : Will Christ's sobriety, honesty, chastity, generosity : Or will his gentleness, patience, and meekness, justify me from such dreadful charges ? Must not l be found really sober, honest, chaste, and charitable ? Must I not be inherently gentle, meek, and loving? Can we deny this, without flying in the face of common sense, breaking the strongest bars of scriptural truth, and

opening the flood. gates to the foulest waves of Antinomianism? If we grant it, do we not grant a second justification by works? And does not St. Paul grant, or rather insist upon as much, when he declares, that • Without holiness no man shall see the Lord ?'

VI. You will probably ask, what advantage the Churh will reap from this doctrine of a second justification by works ? I answer that, under God, it will rouse Antinomians ont of their carnal security, stir up believers to follow hard after holiness, and reconcile fatal differences among Christians, and seeming contradictions in the scripture.

1. It will RE-AWAKEN ANTINOMIANS,* who fancy there is no condemnation to them,' whether they walk after the Spirit' in love, or after the flesh' in malice ; whether they forsake all' to follow Christ, or like Judas

* I beg I may not be understood to level the following paragraphs, or any part of these letters, at my pious Calvinist brethren. God

nows how deeply I reverence many, who are immoveably fixed in what some call “the doctrines of grace ;" how gladly (as conscious of their genuine conversion and eminent usefulness) I would lie in the dust at their feet to honour our Lord in his dear members; and how often I have thought it a peculiar infelicity in any degree to dissent from such excellent men, with whom I wanted both to live and die, and with whom I hope soon to reign for ever!

As these real children of God lament the bad use Antinomians make of their principles, I hope they will not be offenıled if I bear my testimony against a growing evil, which they have frequently opposed themselves. While the Calvinists guard the Foundation against Pharisees, for which } return them my sincere thanks; they will, I hope, allow the Remonstrants to guard the Superstructure against Antinomia ns. If in doing those good offices to the church, we find ourselves obliged to bear a little hard upon the peculiar sentiments of our opposite friends, let us do it in such a manner as not to break the bonds of peace and brotherly kindness; so shall our honest re. proofs become matter of useful exercise to that love which thinketh no evil, hopeth all things, rejoiceth even in the galling truth, and is neither quenched by many waters,' nor damped by any opposi. tion.

I have long wished to see, on both sides the question, about which we unhappily divide, moderate men step out of the unthinking noisy crowd of their party, to look each other lovingly in the face, and to convince the world that with impartial zeal they will guard both the foundation and the superstructure against all adversaries, those of their own party not excepted. Whoever does this omne tulit and Sapphira 'keep back part of what should be the Lord's without reserve. Thousands boldly profess justifying faith, and perhaps eternal justification, who rererence the commandments of God just as much as they regard the scriptures quoted in Mr. Wesley's Minutes.

· Upon their doctrinal systems they raise a tower of presumption, whence they bid defiance both to the Law and Gospel of Jesus. His law says, 'Love God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself, that thou mayest live' in glory. If thou wilt enter into the life' (of glory,) ‘keep the commandments.' But this raises their pity, instead of commanding their respect, and exciting their diligence. “Moses is buried,” say they : “ We have nothing to do with the law! We are not « under the law to Christ! Jesus is not a Lawgirer to control, but a Redeemer to save us."

The gospel cries to them, “Repent and helieve!;' and just as if God was to be the penitent, believing sin- ' ner, they carelessly reply, “ The Lord must do all; “ repentance and faith are his works, and they will be “ done in the day of his power;" and so without resistance they decently follow the stream of worldly vanities and fleshly lusts.-St. Paul cries, 'If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die.' “ We know better,” answer they, " there are neither ifs nor conditions in all the gospel." - He adds, " This one thing I do, leaving the things that are behind, I press towards the mark, for the prize of my high calling in Christ Jesus-the crown of life: Be ye followers of me: Run also the race that is set before you.' “What !" say they, “would you have us « run and work for life? Will you always harp upon " that legal string Do! Do !, instead of telling us that

punctum, he is a real frienıl to both parties, and to the whole gospel ; for he cordially embraces all the people of God, and joins in one blessed medium the seemingly incompatible extremes of scriptural truth, Ve men of clear heads, honest hearts, and humble loving spirits, nature and grace have formed you on purpose to do the church this important service. Therefore, without regarding the bigots of your own party, in the name of the loving Jesus, and by his catholic Spirit, gives professors public lessons of moderation and consistency, and

pers mit me to learn those rare virtues with thousands at your feet..

“ we have nothing to do,' but to believe that all is done ?" St. James cries, “«Shew your faith by your works: Faith without works is dead already, much more that which is accompanied by bad works.” " What!" say they, “ do you think the lamp of faith can be put out as a " candle can be extinguished, by not being suffered to "shine ? We orthodox hold just the contrary : Wemain“ tain both that faith can never die, and that living “ faith is consistent not only with the omission of good works, but with the commission of the most horrid “crimes.”-St. Peter bids them "give all diligence to make their election sure, by adding to their faith virtue,' &c. “ Legal stuff!," say they, “ The covenant is well“ ordered in all things and sure: Neither will our virtue

save us, nor our sius damn us."'--St. John comes next and declares, 'He that sinneth is of the devil.' “ What!,” say they, do you think to make us con“ verts to Arminianism, by thus insinuating that a man

can be a child of God to-day, and a child of the “ devil to-morrow?"-St. Jude advances last, and charges them to keep themselves in the love of God;' and they supinely reply, “We can do vothing. Besides, “ we are as easy and as safe without a frame as with as one.”

With the seven-fold shield of the Antinomian faith they would fight the Twelve Apostles round, and come off, in their own imagination, more thon conquerors. Nay, were Christ himself to come to them incognito, as he did to the disciples that went to Emmaus, and say, • Beyeperfect, as your Father who is in heaven is perfect :'! It would be well if, while they measured him from head to foot with looks of pity or surprize, some were not bold enough to say with a sneer, “You are a Perfec“ tionist, it seems, a follower of poor John Wesley! " are you? For our part, we are for Christ and Free “ Grace, but John Wesley and you are for Perfection « and Free Will.”

Now, Sir, if any doctrine, humanly speaking, can rescue these mistaken persons out of so dreadful a snare, it is that which I contend for. Antinomian dreams

« PreviousContinue »