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mankind. But Mr, Berridge's propositions are Antinomianism unmasked, if he extends their meaning (as his scheme does) to finished salvation, and to a life of glory, unconditionally bestowed upon adulterous backsliders : for sincere obedience, or the good works of faith, are a condition, (or, to use Mr. Berridge's word, “a term,”) indispensably required of all that stay long enough upon the stage of life to act as moral agents. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away,” John xv, 2. “Be not deceived: neither fornicators, &c, shall' inherit the kingdom of God," 1 Cor. vi, 9 : see Ezek. xviii, and xxxiii. “ If the penitent thief had lived, (says our Church,) and not regarded the works of faith, he should have lost his salvation again.” As for the argument taken from these words : “ He that believeth now with the heart unto righteousness, hath everlasting life,” (i. e. has a title to it, and a taste of a life of glory, and shall have the enjoyment of it, “ if he continues in the faith rooted and grounded,”) it is answered at large in the Fourth Check, p. 254.
Page 38, Mr. Berridge unmasks Antinomianism in the following · proposition :—“I have gathered up my ends, respecting this matter ; and I trust you see, at length, that sincere obedience is nothing but a Jack o’lantern, dancing here and there and every where: no man could ever catch him, but thousands have been lost by following him.”
If I mistake not, Mr. Berridge here exceeds Mr. Hill. The author of Pietas Oxoniensis only supposes that works have nothing to do before the Judge of all the earth in the matter of our eternal salvation, and that all believers shall “ sing louder” in heaven for all their crimes upon earth: but the vicar of Everton represents sincere obedience (which is a collection of all the good works of upright heathens, Jews, and Christians,) as “a Jack o'lantern ; and thousands,” says he, “ have been lost by following him.” Here is a blow at the root! What! thousands lost by following after sincere obedience to God's commands! Impossible! Our pious author, I hope, means insincere obedience; but if he stands to what he has written, he must not be surprised, if, with the "good folks cast in a Gospel foundry, I ring a fire bell,” and warn the Protestant world against so capital a mistake. That thousands have been lost by resting in faithless, superficial, hypocritical, insincere obedience, I grant: but thousands ! lost! by following after sincere obedience, i. e. after the obedience we uprightly perform according to the light we have! This is as impossible as that the Holy Spirit should lie when he testifies, “In every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him ;” according to one or another of the Divine dispensations : he is accepted as a converted heathen, Jew, or Christian.
Had I the voice of a trumpet, I would shout upon the walls of our Jerusalem : “ Let no man deceive you :" nobody was ever lost, but for not following after, or for starting from sincere obedience; Christian faith itself being nothing but sincere obedience to this grand Gospel precept: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.". between them both, than it is to me to believe, with the cardinal, that Christ has said, “ In the day of judgınent, by thy words thou shalt be justified :" for, as a diamond does not become a pebble upon the finger of a Papist, so truth does not become a lie under his pen.
“We have received apostleship," says St. Paul, jás for obedience to tho faith among all nations,” Rom. i, 5. No adult children of Adam were ever eternally saved, but such as followed after sincere obedience, at least from the time of their last conversion, if they once drew back toward perdition. For “ Christ,” says the apostle, " is the author of eternal salvation to them that obey him ;!and he undoubtedly means, that obey him sincerely. “ He will render eternal life to them who by patient continuance in well doing,” or by persevering in sincere 'obedience, “ seek for glory.” “ Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings,” says Samuel, “as in obeying [and I dare say he meant sincerely obeying) the voice of the Lord ? Behold! [whatever Solifidians may say] to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams: for rebellion (or disobedience] is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness as idolatry,” Heb. v, 9; Rom. ii, 7; , 1 Sam. XV, -22.
God, to show the high value he puts upon sincere obedience, sen', Jeremiah to the Rechabites with this message: “ Thus saith the Lorc of hosts, Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab, you: father, and kept all his precepts ; therefore Jonadab the son of Rechat shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.” His capital charge against Israel is that, of disobedience. St. Péter, who observes that: the believing Jews had purified their souls by obeying the truth, asks, “What shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel ?” And St. Paul answers, that “ Christ will come in flaming fire; taking vengeance on them,”—and that “God will render tribulation and wrath to them that do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness :” and even that famous passage, “ He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life,” John üü, 36, is in the original a rampart against Solifidianism; for in the last sentence of it, the word rendered - believeth not,” is not ou WISEUwv, in opposition to the first clause ; but amatwv, an expression which, by signifying equally " he who disobeyeth,” and “ he who believeth not,” guards the doctrine of obedience as strongly as that of faith.
The serious reader probably wonders at the pious vicar of Everton and asks, if he supports his assertions against sincere obedience by arguments? Yes, he does, and some of them are so plausible' that the simple can hardly avoid being deceived by them; nay, and some of the judicious too: for asking, last summer, a sensible clergyman what part of Mr. Berridge's book he admired most, he convinced me of the seasonableness of this publication, by replying, “I think him most excellent upon sincere. obedience.” A glaring proof this, that the impossibility of deceiving the very elect is not absolute, and that our Lörd did not give them an impertinent caution, when he said, “ Take liced that no man deceive you." But. let us hear Mr. Berridge :
Page 24. “ Perhaps you think that Christ came to shorten man's duty, and make it more feasible by shoving a commandment out of Moses' tables, as the Papists have done; or by clipping and paring all the commandments, as the moralists do. Thus sincere obedience, instead of perfect, is now considered as the law of works. But if Jesus Christ came to shorten man's duty, he came'to give us a license to sin. For duty cannot be shortened without breaking commandments. And thus Christ becomes a' minister of sin with a witness, and must be ranked-at the head of Antinomian preachers.” To this specious argu-' ment I reply :
(1.) After the fall, Christ was given in the promise to mankind as a Mediator ; and “help was laid upon him” to make man's duty (as a redeemed sinner) feasible. To deny it, is to deny man's redemption. At that first promulgation of the Gospel, what St. Paul calls - the law of faith,” and St. James, “ the law of liberty,” took place. This gracious law has been in force under all the dispensations of the everlasting Gospel ever since. And according to its tenor, in the day of judgment, we shall be justified or condemned,” Matt. xii, 37. (2.) To assert that “ the law of liberty,” or “ the law of faith,” requires of us paradisiacal. innocence, and such a perfection of bodily and rational
powers as Adam had before the fall, is to set Christ's mediation aside : and to suppose that it leaves us just where it found us, that is, under the old Adamic. covenant. (3.) “ The law of liberty” “ neither shoves out, -pares, nor clips” any moral commandment ; for it condemns a. man for the adultery of the eye, as well as for gross fornication; and for the murder of the tongue or heart, as well as for manual assassination; and it requires us to “ love God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves,” according to the light of our dispensation, and the talent of power we have received from above. He that “keeps this whole law, and breaks it in one point,” (as Saul did in the matter of Agag David in the matter of Uriah, Judas in the matter of Mammon, some Corinthians and Galatians in biting one another, and some of the Christians, to whom St. James wrote, in despising the poor, and showing a mean partiality to the rich,) he, I say, that knowingly and wilfully “ breaks this law in one point, is guilty of all;" and he remains under the curse of it, till he has repented, and resumed the obedience of faith. Therefore, when our Lord substituted the law of liberty for the law of innocence, he neither "gave us a license to sin,” nor 66 became a minister of sin with a witness," as Mr. Berridge rashly affirms. (4.) The fourth Mosaic commandment allows “no manner of 'work,” but the last edition of the law of liberty allows all manner of works of necessity and mercy to be done on the Sabbath. Our Lord, therefore, dispenses with the uncommon rigour with which the Jews observed the sacred day: and if Mr. Berridge will call that indulgence “ clipping, paring,” or altering the fourth commandment, he is at liberty ; but if we break a commandment in availing ourselves of our Lord's gracious dispensation, why does Mr. Berridge allow his man servant, his maid servant, or his, horse to work on the Saturday? Why does he not keep the seventh day holy, “ like the circumcised race ?"
(5.) Innocent man, with unimpaired powers, could yield perfect obedience to the law of innocence; therefore that law made no allow.
ance, no provision, for any deficiency in duty. Not so " the law of liberty;" for although it allows no wilful sin, yet it does not reject sprinkled, though as yet imperfect, obedience. Nor does it, as some divines would persuade the world, curse the bud because it is not yet the blossom, nor the blossom because it is not yet the fruit, nor the fruit because it is not yet ripe ; provided it tends to maturity, and harbours not insincerity, the worm that destroys evangelical obedience. It declares that our works of faith are accepted according to what we have, and not according to what we have not. It graciously receives from a heathen the obedience of a heathen, and from a babe in Christ the obedience of a babe: and instead of sentencing to hell the man, whose pound has only gained five pounds, and in whom the seed of the word has only produced thirty fold, it kindly allows him half the reward of him whose pound has gained ten pounds, or in whom the seed has brought forth sixty fold. But it shows no mercy to the unprofitable servant, who buries his talent; and it threatens with sorer punishment the wicked servant who “ turns the grace of God into lasciviousness.”
(6.) 6. Thus sincere obedience is now considered as the law of works." Not so: but it is considered, even by judicious Calvinists, as that obedience which the law of liberty accepts of, by which it is fulfilled, and through which believers shall be justified in the great day. I might fill a volume with quotations from their writings; but three or four will sufficiently prove my assertion. Joseph Alleine, that zealous and successful preacher, says, in his Sure Guide to Heaven, or Alarm to the Unconverted, Lond. 1705, (pp. 153, 154,) « The terms of mercy,” (he should have said,) “ The terms of eternal salvation are brought as low as possible to you. God has stooped as low to sinners as with honour he can. He will not be thought a fautor of sin, nor stain the glory of his holiness; and whither could he come lower than he hath, unless he should do this? He has abated the impossible terms of the first covenant, Acts xvi, 31 ; Prov. xxviii, 13. He does not impose any thing unreasonable or impossible, as a condition of life.” Alleine should have said, as a condition of eternal life in glory; for God in Christ most freely gives us an inilial life of grace before he puts us upon performing any terms, in order to an eternal life of glory. " Two things were necessary to be done by you according to the first covenant, &c. And for future obedience, here he is content to yield to your weakness and remit the rigour. He does not stand upon [lega!? perfection, &c, but is content to accept of sincerity," Gen. xvii, 11.
Matthew Mead, in his treatise on The Good of Early Obedience, London, 1683, (p. 402,) says: “It must be an upright and sincere obedience. • Walk before me, and be thou perfect, Gen. xvii, 1. In the margin it is sincere or upright. So that sincerity and uprightness is new covenant perfection. The perfection of grace in heaven is glory; but the perfection of grace on earth is sincerity.” Mr. Henry perfectly agrees with Mr. Mead when he thus comments upon Gen.
“6 Noah was a just man and perfect :' he was perfect, not with a sinless perfection, (according to the first covenant,) but a perfection of sincerity. And it is well for us, that, by virtue of the covenant of
vi, 9 :
grace, upon the score of Christ's righteousness, sincerity is accepted as our Gospel perfection!” Hence it is that Dr. Owen says, a believer as such shall be tried, judged, and justified " by his own personal sincere obedience." (Of Justification, p. 111.) By comparing these fair quotations with Mr. Berridge's argument, my reader, without having the sagacity of “ an old fox,” will see that Antinomianism has lost all decency in our days, and is not ashamed to call “ Jack o’lantern,” &c, what the sober Calvinists of the last century called Gospel perfection.
Lastly: to insinuate, as Mr. Berridge does, that “ Christ becomes a minister of sin with a witness, and must be ranked at the head of the Antinomian preachers,” because he has substituted the law of liberty for the old Adamic covenant, is something so ungrateful in a believer, so astonishing in a Gospel minister, that—but I spare the pious vicar of Everton, and rise against thee, O Crispianity ! Thou hast seduced that m of God, and upon thee I charge his dreadful mistake. However, he will permit me to conclude this answer to his shrewd argument by the following query :— If “ Christ becomes a minister of sin, and must be ranked at the head of Antinomian preachers,”! for placing us under the law of liberty, which curses a fallen believer that breaks it in one point, (though it should be only by secretly harbouring malice or lust in his heart,) what must we say of the divines, who give us to understand that believers are not under the law preached by St. James, but under directions, or “ rules of life,” which they may break unto adultery and murder, without ceasing to be God's pleasant children, and men after his own heart? Must these popular men be ranked at the head, or at the tail of the Antinomian preachers ? Page 24. Mr. Berridge advances another argument:
66 If sincere obedience means any thing, it must signify either doing what you can, or doing what you will." I apprehend it means neither the one nor the other, but doing with uprightness what we know God requires of us, according to the dispensation of grace which we are under; meekly lamenting our deficiencies, and aspiring at doing all better and better every day.
“So we are [not] got upon the old swampy ground again,” but stand upon the Rock of Ages, and there defend the law of liberty against mistaken Solifidians.
Page 27. Mr. Berridge, instead of showing that our obedience is insincere, if we live in sin, and despise Christ's salvation, goes on mowing down all sincere obedience without distinction. “I perceive,” says he, “ you are not yet disposed to renounce sincere obedience.” And, to engage us to it, he advances another argument, which, if it were sound, would demolish, not only “ sincere obedience,” but true repentance, faith unfeigned, and all Christianity. To answer it, therefore, I only need to produce it; substituting the words true repentance, or faith unfeigned, for “ sincere obedience,” which Mr. Berridge ridicules, thus:
“ You might have reason to complain, if God had made sincere obedience, [I say, true repentance, or faith unfeigned,] a condition of salvation. Much talk of it there is, like the good man in the moon, yet none could ever ken it. I dare defy the scribes to tell me truly what sincere [repentance] is : whether it means [leaving] half my