Page images
PDF
EPUB

ing themselves only three or four hours' sleep, and even breaking that short rest to pray or praise ; overpowering their bodies the next day with hard labour, to keep them under; scourging their backs unto blood every day; or forgetting themselves in prayer for hours in the coldest weather, till they have almost lost the use of their Kimbs. But I ask any unprejudiced person, who knows what is now called “ gospel-liberty," whether we are in danger of being thus ' righteous over-much,' or legal to such an extreme ?

I grant, however, we are not absolutely safe from any quarter: Let us therefore continually stand on our guard. The right wing of Emmanuel's army, which defends living faith, is partly gone over to the enemy, and fights under 'the Nicolaitan banner. The left wing, which defends good works, is far from being out of the reach of those crafty adversaries. Therefore, as we are, or may be attacked on every side, let us faithfully use the word of truth, the power of God, and the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.' Let us gallantly fly where the attack is the hottest, which now, in the religious world, is evidently where gross CRISPIANITY (if I may use the word) is continually obtruded upon us as true Christianity : I say, in the religious world : For, in this controversy, 'what have I to do to judge them also that are without ? Do not ye judge them that are within,' and represent them as opposers of free grace ?

Should Pharisees, while we are engaged in repelling the Nicolaitans, try to rob us of present and free justification by faith, under pretence of maintaining justification by works in the last day; or should they set us upon unnecessary, and unscriptural works, we shall be glad of your assistance to repel them also.

If you grant it us, and do not despise ours, the world shall admire, in the Shulamite, (the church at unity in herself,) the company of two armies,' ready mutually to support each other against the opposite attacks of the Pharisees and the Nicolaitans ;-the Popish workers

who exclude the Gospel,-and the modern Gnostics, the Protestant Antinomians, who explode the law.

May the Lord God help us to sail safely through these opposite rocks, keeping at an equal distance frons both, by taking Christ for our pilot, and the scripture for our compass ! So shall we enter full sail the double haven of present and eternal rest. Once we were in immediate danger of splitting uponóworks, without faith :' Now we are threatened with destruction from faith 'without works :' Jlay the merciful Keeper of Israel save us from both, by a livi faith, legally productive of all good works, or hy good works, evangerically springing from a living faith !

Should the divine blessing upon these sheets, bring one single reader a step towards that good old way, or only coufirm one single believer in it, I shall be rewarded a hundred-fold' for this little « labour of love;' and I shall be even content to see it represented as the invidious labour of malice : For what is my reputation, to the profit of one blood-bought soul !

Beseeching you, dear Sir, for whom these letters are first intended, to set me right, where I am wrong; and pot to despise what may recommend itself in them to reason and conscience, on account of the blunt and Helvetic manner in which they are written, I remain, with sincere respect, Honoured and Reverend Sir,

Your affectionate and obedient Servant
in the practical Gospel of Christ,

J. FLETCHER.

POSTSCRIPT.

Since these Letters were sent to the press, I have seen a pamphlet, entitled, “A Conversation between Richard Hill, Esq., the Rev. Mr. Madan, and Father Walsh,” a Monk at Paris, who condemned Mr. Wesley's Minutes as too near Pelagianism," and the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

author as

a Pelagian;" adding, that their doctrine was a great deal nearer that of the Protestants." Hence the editor concludes, that “the principles in the extract of the Minutes are too rotten even for a Papist to rest upon; and supposes, that Popery is about the mid-way between Protestantism and Mr. J. Wesley." I shall just make a few strictures upon that performance.

1. If an Arian came to me, and said: “You believe, “ that ‘Jesus Christ is God over all blessed for ever!' Pelagius, that heretic who was publicly excommunicated by the whole Catholic Church, was of your sen“ timent; therefore you are a Pelagian ; give up your “ heresy :” Should I, upon such an assertion, give up the Godhead of our Saviour ? Certainly not. And shall I, upon a similar argument, advanced by the help of a French Monk, give up truths with which the practical gospel of Jesus Christ must stand or fall ? God forbid !

2. We desire to be confronted with all the pious Protestant divines, except those of Dr. Crisp's class, who are a party : But who would believe it? The suffrage of a Papist is brought against us! Astonishing ! That our opposers should think it worth their while to raise one recruit against us in the immense city of Paris, where fifty thousand might be raised against the Bible itself!

3. So long as Christ, the prophets, and apostles are for us, together with the multitude of the Puritan divines of the last century, we shall smile at an army of Popish friars. The knotted whips that hang by their sides, will no more frighten us from our Bibles, than the ipse dixit of a Benedictine Monk will make us explode, as heretical, propositions which are demonstrated to be scriptural.

4. An argument, which has been frequently used of late against the Anti-calvivist divines, is, “ This is downright Popery! This is worse than Popery itself!" And honest Protestants have been driven by it to embrace doctrines, which were once no less contrary to the dictates of their consciences, than they are still to the word

of God. It is proper, therefore, sach persons should be informed, that St. Augustin, the Calvin of the fourth century, is one of the saints whom the Popes have in the highest veneration ; and that a great pumber of friars in the Church of Rome are champions for Cal. vinism, and oppose St. Paul's doctrine, that the grace of God bringing salvation has appeared unto all men,' as strenuously as some “real Protestants” among us. Now, if good Father Walsh be one of that stamp, what wonder is it that he should so well agree with the gentlemen who consulted him! If Calvinism and Protestantism are synonimous terms, as some divines would make us believe, many monks may well say, that “ their doctrine is a great deal nearer that of the Protestants," than the Minutes; for they may even pass for “real Protestants."

4. But whether the good friar be a hot Jansepist, or only a warm Thomist, (so they call the Popish Calvinists in France,) we appeal from his bar to the tribunal of Jesus Christ, and from the published Conversation, 'to the law and the testimony.' What is the decision of a Popish monk to the express declarations of the scripture, the dictates of common sense, the experience of regenerate souls, and the writings of a cloud of Protestaut divines ? No more than a grain of loose sand to the solid rock on which the church is founded.

I hope the gentlemen concerned in the Conversation lately published, will excuse the liberty of this Postscript. I reverence their piety, rejoice in their labours, and honour their warm zeal for their Protestant cause. But that very zeal, if not accompanied with a close attention to every part of the gospel truth, may betray them into mistakes which may spread as far as their respectable names: I think it therefore my duty to publish these strictures, lest any of my readers should pay more regard to the good-vatured friar, who has been pressed into the service of Dr. Crisp, than to St. John, St. Paul, St. James, and Jesus Christ, on whose plain declarations I have shewn that the Minutes are founded.

A

THIRD CHECK

TO

Antinomianism:

IN A LETTER

TO THE

AUTHOR OF PIETAS OXONIENSIS.

BY THE

VINDICATOR

OF THE REV. MR. WESLEY'S MINUTES.

Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and (scriptural)

doctrine ; for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.

2 Tim. iv. 2, 3. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.

But let brotherly love continue. Tit. i. 13. Heb. xii. 1.

« PreviousContinue »