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east, and the most rigid, thorough-paced Antinomian in England, by going full west in the ways of error, meet at last face to face in the antipodes of truth. O may the shock caused by their unexpected encounter wake them both out of their fatal dreams, to call
Him, who “ takes the wise in their own craftiness,” imparts true wisdom to the simple, and crowns the humble with grace and glory.
As high Calvinism on the left hand falls in with fatalism, so on the right hand it runs into the wildest notions of some deluded mystics, and ranting Perfectionists. Judicious reader, you will be convinced of it by the following propositions, advanced by Molinos,* the father of the mystics and Perfectionists, who are known abroad under the name of Quietists. These positions, among many others, were condemned by the pope as “rash, offensive to pious ears, erroneous, scandalous," &c. I extract them from the bull of his holiness, given at Rome, 1687, and published by the archbishop of Cambray at the end of his book called Instruction Pastorale, printed at Amsterdam, 1698. (See page 192, &c.)
“ Velle operari active est Deum offendere, qui vult esse solus agens, &c. To be willing to be active and work, is to offend God, who will be the sole agent, &c. Our natural activity stands in the way and hinders the Divine operation and true perfection, quia Deus vult operari in nobis sine nobis, because God will work in us without us. The soul ought not to think upon rewards and punishments. We must leave to God the caring of all that concerns us, that he may do in us, without us, his Divine will. He that will be resigned to God's will, must not ask him any thing, because petitions savour of our own will, and therefore are imperfect,” or, to speak in the Calvinistic way, sinful.
Again : God, to humble and transform us, permits and wills that the devil should do violence to the bodies of some perfect souls, [i. e. established believers,] and should make them commit carnal actions against their will. God now sanctifies his saints by the ministry of devils, who, by causing in their flesh the above-mentioned violent impulses, makes them despise themselves the more, &c. St. Paul felt such violent impuises in his body: hence he wrote, • The good that I would, I do not : and the evil which I would not, I do.' These violent impulses are the best means to humble the soul to nothing, and to bring it to true holiness and the Divine union: there is no other way, et hæc est via facilior et tutior, and this is the easier and the safer way. David, &c, suffered such violent impulses to external impure actions,” &c.
Who does not see here some of the most absurd tenets or dangerous consequences of Calvinism? Man is a mere machine in the work of salvation. The body of holy Paul is sold under sin. David in Uriah's bed is complete and perfect in Christ. Actual adultery humbles believers, and is an excellent mean of sanctification, &c.
When we see Antinomianism thus defiling the sounder part of the Romish and Protestant Churches : when the god of this world avails himself of these “ Antinomian dotages” to confirm myriads of stiff Pharisees in their self-righteous delusions ; and when the bulk of men,
* He was a pious, but injudicious clergyman of the Church of Rome, who, in some of his works, spoiled the doctrine of grace by Calvinistic refinements; and that of Christian perfection by Antinomian rant.
shocked at the glaring errors of both, run for shelter to Deism and gross infidelity ; who would not desire to see the doctrines of faith and works, grace and obedience, so stated and reconciled, that men of reason might no longer be offended at Christianity ; nor men of religion one at another?
This is again attempted in the following discourse, the substance of which was committed to paper many years ago, to convince the Pharisees and Papists of my parish that there is no salvation by the faithless works of the law, but by a living faith in Jesus Christ. With shame I confess that I did not then see the need of guarding the doctrine of faith against the despisers of works. I was chiefly bent upon pulling up the tares of Pharisaism: those of Antinomianism were not yet sprung up in the field which I began to cultivate ; or my want of experience hindered me from discerning them. But since, what a crop of them have I perceived and bewailed!
Alas! they have in a great degree ruined the success of my ministry. I have seen numbers of lazy seekers enjoying the dull pleasures of sloth on the couch of wilful unbelief, under pretence that God was to do all in them without them. I have seen some lie flat in the mire of sin, absurdly boasting that they could not fall; and others make the means of grace, means of idle gossiping or sly courtship. I have seen some turn their religious profession into a way of gratifying covetousness or indolence; and others their skill in Church music, their knowledge and their zeal into various nets to catch esteem, admiration, and praise. Some have I seen making yesterday's faith a reason to laugh at the cross to-day; and others drawing from their misapprehensions of the atonement arguments to be less importunate in secret prayer, and more conformable to this evil world, than once they were. " Nay, I have seen some professing believers backward to do those works of mercy, which I have sometimes found persons, who made no professions of godliness, quite ready to perform. And O! tell it in Sion, that watchfulness may not be neglected by believers, that fearfulness may seize upon backsliders, and that trembling may break the bones of hypocrites and apostates; I have seen those who had equally shined by their gifts and graces strike the moral world with horror by the grossest Antinomianism; and disgrace the doctrine of salvation through faith by the deepest plunges into scandalous sin.
Candid reader, I need say no more to make thee sensible of the necessity of the additions and notes, by which I have strengthened and guarded my old discourse, that it might be an Equal Check to Pharisaism and Antinomianism, an equal prop to faith and works. If it afford thee any edification, give God the glory, and pray for the despised author. Ask, in the words of the good Bishop Hopkins, that I may so
BELIEVE, so rest on the merits of Christ, as if I had never wrought any thing; and withal so work, as if I were only to be saved by my own merits.” And O! ask it again and again, for I find it a difficult thing to give to each of these its due in my practice. It is the very depth and height of Christian perfection.
MADELEY, Jan. 10, 1774. ABOVE fifteen years ago I looked into Baxter's Aphorisms on Justification, and through prejudice or sloth I soon laid them down, as being too deep for me. But a few days since a friend having brought me Mr. Wesley's extract of them, I have read it with much satisfaction, and present my readers with a compendium of my discourse in the words of those two judicious and laborious divines.
“ As there are two covenants, with their distinct conditions, so there is a two-fold righteousness, and both of them absolutely necessary to salvation. Our righteousness of the first covenant is not personal, or consisteth not in any actions performed by us ; for we never personally satisfied the law, [of innocence,] but it is wholly without us in Christ. In this sense every Christian disclaimeth his own righteousness or his own works. Those only'shall be in Christ legally righteous who believe and obey the Gospel, and so are in themselves evangelically righteous. Though Christ performed the conditions of the law (of innocence) and satisfied for our non-performance, yet we ourselves must perform the conditions of the Gospel. These two [last] propositions seem to me so'clear, that I wonder any able divines should deny them. Methinks they should be articles of our creed, and a part of children's catechisms, To affirm that our evangelical or new-coveņant righteousness is in Christ, and not in ourselves, or performed by Christ, and not by our
elves, is sụch a monstrous piece of Antinomian doctrine as no man, who knows the nature and difference of the covenants, can possibly entertain.” (Bax. Aphor. Prop. 14–17.)
“Even so then, at this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace: and if by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace : but if it be of works, then it is no more grace; otherwise work is no more work."
INTRODUCTION AND DIVISION.
The apostle complains in the preceding chapter that Israel was blinded, and did not see the way of salvation : “I bear them record,” says he, Rom. x, 2, “ that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge; for being ignorant of God's righteousness,” i. e. of
God's way of saving sinners* merely through Jesus Christ ; " and going about to establish their own righteousness,” that is, endeavouring to save themselves by their own good works [so called, by works which, strictly speaking, deserve rather to be named Pharisaical than good ;] so they have not submitted to the righteousness of God :" to that faith in Christ which makes sinners righteous before God: “for Christ," adds he, “is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,” Rom. x, 4: that is, [since the fall,] it is the very design of the [Adamic] law, (the law of innocence given to sinless Adam; yea, and of the Mosaic law, when it is considered as “ written in stones,” and decorated with shadows or types of good things to come,] to bring men to believe in Christ for justification and salvation; as he alone gives that pardon and life which the law [of innocence] shows the want of, (and which the Mosaic law, abstracted from Gospel promises, points unto,] but cannot possibly bestow.
The apostle, resuming the same subject in the chapter out of which the text is taken, comforts himself by considering, that although Israel in general were blinded, yet all were not lost. Old Simeon and Anna had “ seen the salvation of God," and had “ departed in peace.” Nicodemus, a doctor in Israel, had received the doctrine of the new birth and salvation by faith. " Three thousand" Jews had been “pricked to the heart" by penitential sorrow, and “ filled with peace and joy by believing" in Jesus Christ. And“ even at this present time,” says apostle, “ there is a remnant [of my countrymen saved,] according to the election of grace :” that is, there are some of them, who, slike Nathanael and Nicodemus,] casting away their dependence on their own righteousness, [and trusting only in Christ's merits,] are numbered among the elect, according to that gracious decree of selection in Christ, which] God [has so clearly revealed,] in the covenant of grace, “ He that believeth shall be saved," &c, Mark xvi, 16.1
(1.) When I say that God saves sinners “merely” through Jesus Christ, I do not exclude our faith, the instrumental cause of our salvation; nor our works of faith, the evidencing cause of it, any more than I exclude Divine mercy. I only meant that Christ is the primary, meritorious cause of our justification; and that from him all secondary instrumental causes receive whatever influence they have toward our eternal salvation. Nor do I take away from the Redeemer's glory, when I affirm, with the Rev. Mr. Madan, that “we are justified instrumentally by faith, and declaratively by works;" or that faith is the instrumental, and works are the declarative cause of our complete justification. For as I speak of faith in Christ, “ the light of men and the Saviour of the world;" and as I mean the works of that faith, I secure bio mediatorial honours; such works being all wrought through his influence, perfumed with his merits, and accepted through his intercession. Christ is then all in all still; the primary and meritorious cause pass. ing through all the secondary and instrumental causes, as light does through our windows and eyes; food through our mouths and stomachs; and vital blood through our arteries and veins.
N. B. The parts of this discourse, which are enclosed in brackets, [ ] are the additions that guard or strengthen the old sermon which my opponent calls for; and the parts contained between the two hands, IT are the passages which he has extracted from it, and published at the end of his Finishing Stroke.
† (2.) My sentiment concerning election is thus expressed by a great Calvinist minister: In the written word a decree of God is found, which shows who are the chosen and the saved people : «He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.' The chosen people therefore are a race of true believers, convinced by God's Spirit of their ruined estate, endowed with Divine faith, by which they seek
From thence the apostle takes occasion to show, that pardon and salvation are not, in whole or in part, attained by [the covenant of] works, but merely by [the covenant of] grace.
A remnant of those self-righteous Pharisees is saved, [not indeed by their self righteousness,] but by [the covenant of] grace, according to which we must equally part with our self righteousness and our sins. " And if by [the covenant of ] grace," then“ it is no more [by that] of works,” whether of the ceremonial law [of Moses,] or of the moral law (of innocence perverted to Pharisaic purposes;] “else [the] grace [of Christ] is no longer grace" (bestowed upon a criminal : ] the very nature of [Gospel grace*] is lost. “. And if it be [by the covenant) of works, then it is no more [by Gospel] grace: else work is no longer [the] work” [of a sinless creature,] but the very nature of it is destroyed [according to the first covenant, which requires perfect conformity to the law in the work, and perfect innocence in the worker.]
As if the apostle had said, There is something so absolutely inconsistent between being saved by [the covenant of] grace, and being saved by [that of ] works, that if you suppose either, you of necessity exclude the other : for what is given to works [upon the footing of the first covenant) is improperly speaking] the payment of a debt (which God, by his gracious promise, contracted with innocent mankind without the interposition of a Mediator :) whereas (Gospel] grace implies [not only] a favour (strictly speaking) unmerited [by us; but also an atoning sacrifice on the Redeemer's part, and a damnable demerit on
to Christ for help; and seeking do obtain pardon, peace, and holiness.” (The Christian World Unmasked, second edition, p. 186.) Judicious Christians will probably agree here with this pious divine, if he does not deny, (1.) That in the Divine decree of election the word “believeth” excludes from the election those who "have cast off their faith,” or “have made shipwreck of the faith.” And (2.) That the word “is baptized,” implies “professing the faith in word and work ;" or making and standing to the baptismal vow, which respects not only the believing the articles of the Christian faith, but also keeping God's holy will and commandments.
*.(3.) I say Gospel grace, because it is that which the apostle means. It may with propriety be distinguished from the original grace which Adam had before the fall, and which Deists and Pharisees still suppose themselves possessed of. Some people imagine, that if our first parents had well acquitted themselves in the trial of their faithfulness, their reward would not have been of grace; they would (strictly speaking) have merited heaven. But this is a mistake. From the Creator to the creature, all blessings are, and must for ever be of grace, of mere grace. Gabriel himself enjoys heaven through free grace. Unless some gracious promise interposes, God may this instant put an end, without injustice, not only to his glory, but to his very existence. Should you ask what difference there is between original and Gospel grace; I answer, that original, Adamic grace naturally flowed from God, as Creator and Preserver, to innocent, happy creatures : but Gospel grace, that for which St. Paul so strenuously contends in my text, supernaturally flows from God, as Redeemer and Comforter, to guilty, wretched mankind : and here let us take notice of the opposition there is be. tween Pharisaic and evangelical obedience, between the works of the law and the works of faith. The former are done with a proud conceit of the natural strength which man lost by the fall; and the latter with an humble dependence on Divine mercy through the Redeemer's merits, and on the supernatural power
lost mankind for his sake. When St. Paul decries the works of the law, it is merely to recommend the works of faith : and yet, O'the dreadful effects of confusion! In Babel people suppose that he pours equal contempt