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« Good works,” say you,
are rewarded because God of his own mere favour, rich grace, and undeserved bounty, has promised that he will freely give such rewards to those whom he has chosen in his dear Son."—Now, Sir, simplify this sentence, and you tell us just that “ good works are rewarded, because God freely promised to reward them.”
And is this the East of my honoured opponent's ole thodoxy ? Surprising ! It just meets the West of Popish heterodoxy. You know, Sir, that Thomas Aquinas and Scotus are as great divines among the Romanists, as Calvin and Luther among the Protestants; and in fleeing from Mr. Wesley, you are just gone over to Scutus and Baxter ; for Scotus, and Clara, his disciple, maintain, that if God gives rewards to the godly, non oritur obligatio ex natura actus, sed ex suppositione decreti et promissi," the obligation does not arise from the nature of the action rewarded, but from the decree and free promise of the rewarder." Though so much be given in scripture to good works,” says Council of Trent, “yet far be it from a Christian to glory in himself, and not in the Lord, whose goodness is so great to all men, that he wills those things to be their inerits, which are His gifts." (Can. 16. de Justif.)
“ Most Protestants,” says Baxter, “will take merit to signify something which profiteth God, and which is our own, and not His gift and grace; but they are mistaken."
Some, however, are more candid : Bucer says, “If by meriting, the Holy Fathers and others mean nothing but to do in faith, by the grace God, good works, which the Lord has promised to reward, in this sense,' (which is that which Scotus, Baxter, and Mr. W. fix to merit,) “ we shall in no wise condemn that word.”
Hence it is, that whole congregations of real Protesta ants have not scrupled at times to use the word we merit, iu their humblest addresses to the throne of grace. Congregations of real Protestants !" says my honoured friend. Popery is about mid-way between Protestantism and such worshippers. Who are they?"
I aliswer, they are the orthodox opposers of the Minutes, the truly honourable the Countess of Huntingdon, the Rev. Mr. Shirley, the Rev. Mr. Madan, and all the cougregations that use their Hymus; for they all agree to sing,
Thou hast the righteousness supply'd,
By which we merit heaven. See Lady Huntingdon's Hymus, British edition, page 399; and the Rev. Mr. Madan's Collection, which you frequently use, Hymn xxv, page 27, last stanza. Come then, dear Sir, while Mr. M. shakes hands with his venerable father Mr. W., permit the Vindicator of the Minutes to do the same with the author of Pietas O.ro. niensis, and let us lovingly follow Scotus and Baxter, singing, “ Christ hath the righteousness supplied, by which we merit bearen."
If you say, “ True ; but it is of God's own mere favour, rich grace, and undeserved bounty in His dear Son;" I answer, We are agreed, and beforehand I subscribe an hundred such clauses, being fully persuaded of the truth of Mr. W.'s proposition when explained according to the analogy of faith, “ There is no original merit but in the blood and obedience of Christ; and no derived merit, or, (if you dislike that word out of the Lock-chapel,) no derived rercardableness, but that which we are supplied with through the Spirit of Christ, and the blood of His cross :" If Mr. W. meant any more by the saying you have quoted, he will permit me to use his own words, and say that he “ leaned too much towards Calvinism."
I cannot better close the subject of Merit, and requite your quotation from Dr. Willet, than by transcribing a third passage from the pious and judicious Mr. Baxter :
“ We are agreed on the negative: (1.) That no man or angel can merit of God in proper commutative justice, giving him somewhat for his benefits that shall profit him, or to which he had no absolute right.-(2.) No man can merit any thing of God upon the terms of the law of innocency, (but punishment.) -(3.) Nor can
he merit any thing of God by the law of grace, unless it be supposed first to be a free gift, and merited by Christ.
“And affirmatively we are, I think, agreed : (1.) That God governs us by a law of grace, which hath a promise, and gives by way of reward.—(2.) That God calls it His justice to reward men according to his law of grace. (Heb. vi. 10; 2 Tim. iv. 8.)-(3.) That this supposes, that such works as God rewards have a moral aptitude for that reward, which chiefly consists in these things, that they spring from the Spirit of God, that their faultiness is pardoned through the blood and merits of Christ, that they are doue in the love and to the glory of God, and that they are presented to God by Jesus Christ.-(4.) That this moral aptitude is called in scripture aţia, that is, worthiness or merit ; 90 that thus far worthiness or merit is a scripture phrase. -And, (5.) That this worthiness or merit is only in point of paternal governing justice, according to the las of grace, ordering that which in itself is a free merited by Christ.
“ All orthodox Christians hold the fore-described doctrine of merit in sense, though not in words : For they that deny merit, confess the rewardableness of our obedience, and acknowledge that the scripture useth the term worthy, and that ačios and ašia, may be trauslated meriting and merit, as well as worthy and worthiness. This is the same thing, in other words, which the ancient Christians meant by merit. When godly persons earnestly extol holiness, saying that the right. eous is more excellent than his neighbour,' and yet deny all merit, reviling all that assert it, they do but shew that they understand not the word, and think others also misunderstand it: And so we are reproaching one another, where we are agreed, and know it not; like the woman who 'turned away her servant upon the controversy, Whether the house should be swept with a besom, or with a broom:
“The partial teachers are the cause of this, while, instead of opening the doctrine, and shewing in what
sense we have or have not any worthiness or merit, they without distinction cry down merit, and reproach those that do otherwise. And if they do but say, “Such a man speaks for merit and free-will,' they think that they sufficiently render him odious to their followers; when yet all sober Christians in all ages have been for merit and free will in a sound sense. And is not this to be adversaries to truth, and love, and peace ?
“ I formerly thought, that though we agree in the thing, it is best to omit the name, because the Papists have abused it : Aud I think so still in such companies, where the use of it, not understood, will scandalize men, aod do more harm than good. But in other cases, I now think it better 2 keep the word, (1.) Lest we seem to the ignorant, to be of another religion than: all the ancient churches were.
:-(2.) Lest we harden the Papists, Greeks and others, by denying the sound doctrine in terms, which they will think we deny in sense.-And, (3.) Because our pepury of words is such, that for my part I remember no other word so fit to substitute instead of merit, desert, or worthiness. The word rewardableness is long and harsh. But it is no. thing else that we mean."-BAXTER's End of Doctrinal Controversies, page 294.
REMARKS ON MR, HILL'S FOURTH LETTER, I am glad that my honoured opponent, in the beginning of his Fourth Letter, does Mr. W. the justice to admit of the explanation I have given of that misunder. stood assertion, “ All who are convinced of sin undervalue themselves.” Had you done otherwise, Sir, you would have shewn judgment without mercy.' Nevertheless, you still think that explanation forced; while many believe it not only natural, and agreeable to Mr. $ " It is a great advantage to the Papists," says our judicious author, " that many Protestants wholly disclaim the word merit, and simply deny the merit of gospel-obedience. For hereupon the teachers shew their scholars, that all the Fathers speak for merit, and do tell them, that the Protestant doctrine is new and heretical, as being contrary to all the ancient doctors; and when their scholars see it with their eyes, no wonder if they believe it, to our dishonour."
W.'s whole plan of doctrine, but so solid that no arguments can overthrow it. If you turn to the Second Check, (Vol. i, pages 358, 359,) you will see more clearly, that you do Mr. W. no favour in “ dismissing this article of the Minutes."
But you prepare to attack the next with the utmost vigour. A part of the Minutes which you esteem most contrary to sound doctrine, is, say you, that “ We are every hour and every moment pleasing, or displeasing to God, according to the whole of our inward tempers and outward behaviour," &c. And it is, I own, diametrically opposite to the favourite sentiment which you
“ Though I believe that David's sin displeased the Lord, must I therefore believe that David's Person was under the curse of the law ?" (I suppose you mean under God's displeasure, for of this Mr. W. speaks ; ñor does he mention the curse of the law in all the Minutes.) You boldly answer, Surely no.-Like Ephraim, he was still a pleasant child : Though he went on frowardly," in adultery and murder, “ he did not lose the character of the man after God's own heart." You inight as well have advanced at once that unguarded proposition of Dr. Crisp, “God does no longer stand displeased, though a believer do sin often : No sin can possibly do him any hurt.” Is this what you call sound doctriue?' Avd is that the worst part of the Minutes, which opposes such a dangerous tenet? Then how excellent must the other parts be! Indeed, Sir, their Vindicator could say nothing stronger to demonstrate their soundness, seasonableness, and importance. But let us consider your arguments; and that with such care as the importance of the subject requires,
1. “ David's sin displeased the Lord,” but not “his PERSON.” This is what you must mean, if you oppose Mr. W.'s proposition. I like your shifting the terms; it is a sign that you are a little ashamed the world should see the goud Doctor's scheme without some covering. Erubuisti, salva res est.-(1.) Your iutimation, that