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AN EQUAL CHECK
PHARISAISM AND ANTINOMIANISM:
I. An Historical Essay on the Danger of Parting Faith and Works.
Church of Madeley, April 18, and May 9, 1773.
cording to the Covenant of Grace. IV. An Essay on Truth; or a Rational Vindication of the Doctrine of Saj.
vation by Faith, with a Dedicatory Epistle to the Right Hon. the Countess of Huntingdon.
BY THE AUTHOR OF THE
CHECKS TO ANTINOMÍANISM.
The armour of righteonsners on the right hand and on the left, 2 Cor. vi, 7.
PREFACE TO EQUAL CHECK.
1. The first piece of this Check was designed for a preface to the discourse that follows it: but as it swelled far beyond my intention, I present it to the reader under the name of An Historical Essay; which makes
for the tracts that follow, 2. With respect to the discourse, I must mention what engages me to publish it. In 1771, I saw the propositions called the Minutes.Their author invited me to “review the whole affair." I did and soon found that I had “ leaned too much toward Calvinism,” which, after mature consideration, appeared to me exactly to coincide with speculative Antinomianism; and the same year I publicly acknowledged my error in these words :
“ But whence springs this almost general Antinomianism of our congregations ? Shall I conceal the sore because it festers in my own breast? Shall I be partial? No: in the name of Him, who is no respecter of
persons, I will confess my sin, and that of many of my brethren, &c. Is not the Antinomianism of hearers fomented by that of preachers? Does it not become us to take the greatest part of the blame upon ourselves, according to the old adage, Like priest, like people? Is it surprising that some of us should have an Antinomian audience? Do we not make or keep it so? When did we preach such a practical sermon as that of our Lord on the mount? or write such close letters as the Epistles of St. John ?" (Second Check, p. 107, to the end of the paragraph.)
When I had thus openly confessed that I was involved in the guilt of “ many
,” and that I had so leaned toward speculative, as not to have made a proper stand against practical Antinomianism; who could have thought that one of my most formidable opponents would have attempted to screen his mistakes behind some passages of a manuscript sermon, which I preached twelve years ago, and of which, by some means or other, he has got a copy?
I am very far, however, from recanting that old discourse. I still think the doctrine it contains excellent in the main, and very proper to be enforced, (though in a more guarded manner,) in a congregation of hearers violently prejudiced against the first Gospel axiom. Therefore, out of regard for the grand leading truth of Christianity, and in compliance with Mr. Hill's earnest entreaty, (Finishing Stroke, p. 45,) I send my sermon into the world, upon the following reasonable con
ditions: (1.) That I shall be allowed to publish it, as I preached it a year ago in my church; namely, with additions in brackets, [ ] to make it at once a fuller check to Pharisaism, and a finishing check to Antinomianism. (2.) That the largest addition shall be in favoúr of
(3.) That nobody shall accuse me of forgery, for thus adding my present light to that which I had formerly; and for thus bringing out of my little treasure of experience things new and old.. (4.) That the press shall not groan with the charge of disingenuity, if I throw into notes some unguarded expressions, which I formerly used without scruple, and which my more enlightened conscience does not suffer me to use at present. (5.) That my oppenent's call to print my sermon will procure me the pardon of the public for presenting them with a plain, blunt discourse, composed for an audience chiefly made up of colliers and rustics. And lastly,) that, as I understand English a little better than I did twelve years ago, I shall be permitted to rectify a few French idioms, which I find in my old manuscript; and to connect my thoughts a little more like an Englishman, where I can do it without the least misrepresentation of the sense.
If these conditions appear unreasonable to those who will have heaven itself without any condition, I abolish the distinction between my old sermon and the additions that guard or strengthen it; and referring the reader to the title page, I publish my discourse on Rom. xi, 5, 6, as a guarded sermon delivered in my church on Sunday, April :18, &c, 1773, exactly eleven years after I had preached upon the same text a sermon useful upon the whole, but in some places unguarded, and deficient with respect to the variety of arguments and motives, by which the capital doctrines of free grace and Gospel obedience ought to be enforced.
3. With regard to the Scriptural Essay upon the rewardableness, or evangelical worthiness of works, I shall just observe that it attacks the grand mistake of the Solifidians, countenanced by three or four words of my old sermon. I pour a flood of scriptures upon it; and after receiving the fire of my objector, I return it in a variety of Scriptural and rational answers, about the solidity of which the public must decide.
4. The Essay on Truth will, I hope, reconcile judicious moralists to the doctrine of salvation by faith, and considerate Solifidiáns to the doctrine of salvation by the works of faith ; reason and Scripture concurring to show the constant dependence of works upon faith ; and the wonderful agreement of the doctrine of present salvation by TRUE faith; with the doctrine of eternal salvation by GOOD- works.
I hope that I do not dissent, in my observations upon faith, either from our Church, or approved Gospel ministers. In their highest definition of that grace, they consider it only according to the fulness
of the Christian dispensation : but my subject has obliged me to consider it also according to the dispensations of John the Baptist, Moses, and Noah. Belieyers, under these inferior dispensations, have not always assurance ; nor is the assurance they sometimes have so bright as that of adult Christians ; Matt. xi, 11. . But undoubtedly assurance is inseparably connected with the faith of the Christian dispensation, which was not fully opened till Christ opened' his glorious baptism on the day of pentecost, and till his spiritual kingdom was set up with power in the hearts of his people.' Nobody therefore can truly believe, according to this dispensation, without being immediately conscious both of the forgiveness of sins, and of peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. This is a most important truth, derided indeed by fallen Churchmen, and denied by Laodicean Dissenters; but of late years gloriously revived by Mr. Wesley and the ministers connected with him. A truth this, which cannot be too strongly, and yet too warily insisted upon in our lukewarm and speculative age: and as I'would not obscure it for the world, I particularly entreat the reader to mind the last erratunı ; without omitting the last but one, which guards the doctrine of initial salvation by absolute free grace.
I do not desire to provoke my able opponents ; but I must own, I should be glad to reap the benefit of my Checks, either by finding an increase of religious sobriety and mutual forbearance among those who make a peculiar profession of faith in Christ; or by seeing my mistakes (if I am mistaken) brought to light, that I might no longer recommend them as Gospel truths. With this view only I humbly entreat my brethren and fathers in the Church to point out by Scripture or argument the doctrinal, errors that may have crept into the Equal Check. But if, upon close examination, they should find that it holds'forth the two Gospel axioms in dųe conjunction; and marks out the evangelical mean with strict impartiality; I hope the moderate and judicious, in the Calvinistic and anti-Calvinistic party, will so far unite upon this plan, as to keep'on terms of reciprocal toleration and brotherly.kindness together; rising with redoubled indignation, not one against another, but against those pests of the religious world, prejudice and bigotry, the genuine parents of implacable fanaticism, and bloody persecution.
MADELEY, May 21, 1774.