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gelical axioms on which the gospel is founded ; (1.) “ All our salvation is of God by free grace, through the alone merits of Christ.” And (2.) “ All our damnation is of ourselves, through our avoidable unfaithfulness."
This second truth, as important, as one half of the Bible, on which it rests, has not only been fet aside as useless by thousands, but generally exploded as unfcriptural, dangerous, and subversive of true protestantism. Thus has the gospel-balance been broken, . and St. James's pure religion despised. What we owe to Truth in a state of opprefion, hath engaged me to cast two mites into the scale of truth, which Mr. W. has the courage to defend againit multitudes of good men, who keep one another in countenance,
under their common. mistake. I do not want his scale to preponderate to the disadvantage of free grace: If it did, far from rejoicing in it, I would instantly throw the insignificant weight of my pen into the other scale; being fully persuaded that Christ can never be so truly honored, nor fouls fo well edified, when we overdo on either side of the question, as when we fcripturally maintain the whole truth as it is in Jesus.
“. But are we not in as much danger from overdoing in pharisaic works,
Not at present: The stream runs too rapidly on the side of lawless faith, to leave any jaft room to fear we shall be immediately carried into excef. five working. There would be some ground for this objection; if we saw most professors of religion obftinately refusing to drink any thing but water, eat any thing but dry bread or cheap vegetables; fafting themselves into mere skeletons ; wearing fack-cloth instead of soft linen ; lying on the bare ground, with a stone for their pillow ;. imitating Origen, by literally making themselves Eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's Jake; turning,
hermits, spending whole nights in contemplation in churches and churchyards ; giving away all their goods, the necessaries of life not excepted ; allowing themselves only three or four hours Sleep, and even breaking that thort 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 limbs. But Iak. any unprejudiced person, who knows what is now called, ** gospel-liberty," whether we are in dan ger of being thus righteous over-much, or legal to luch 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 Immanuel'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 fide, 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 hottelt, 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 : 1 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 juftfiication by faith, under pretence of maintaining justification by works in the last day; or should they set us upon unnecessary, and unscriptural works, we fall be glad of your assistance to repel them also.
If you grant it us, and do not despise ours, the world Mali 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 fail safely through these opposite rocks, keeping at an equal distance from both, by taking Christ for our Pilot, and the Scripture for our Compass! So shall we enter full fail the double haven of present and eternal reft. Once we were in immediate danger of splitting upon Works, without faith ; now we are threatened with destruction from faith, without works : May the merciful Keeper of Israel save us from both, by a living faith, legally productive of all good works, or by good works, evangelically springing from a living faith!
Should the divine blessing upon these sheets, bring one fingle Reader a step towards that good old way, or only confirm one single believer in it, I shall be rewarded a hundred fold for this little labour of love; and I fall be even content to see it represented as the invidious labour of malice: for what is my reputation to the profit of one bloodbought soul !
Beseeching you, dear Sir, for whom these letters are first intended, to set me right where I am wrong; and not 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 fincere reípect,
Honored and Reverend Sir,
Your affectionate and obedient servant
in the practical gospel of Christ,
Since these Letters were sent to the press, I have feen a pamphlet, intitled, “ A Conversation between Richard Hill, Efq; the Rev. Mr. Madan, and Fa. ther Walsh,” a Monk at Paris, who condemned Mr. Welley's Minutes as 6 too near Pelagianism,” and 'the 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 Papift to reft upon, and supposes that Popery is about the mid-way betweer Protestantism and Mr. J. Wesley." I shall just make a few ftri&tures upon that performance.
(1.) If an Arian came to me, and said : You believe that Jesus Christ is God over all, blessed for
Pelagius, that heretic who was publicly excommunicated by the whole Catholic Church,” was of your sentiment; therefore you are a Pelagian; give up your herefy: Should I, upon such an affertion, give up the Godhead of our Saviour? Certainly no. And shall I, upon a similar argu. ment, 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 fuffrage of a Papilt is brought againil 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 raifed against the Bible itfelf!
(3.) So long as Christ, the Prophets, and A postles are for us, together with the multitude of the Puritan divines of the last century, we shallsmile at an army of Popish friars, The knotted
whips that hang by their fide, will no more frighten us from our Bibles, than the ipfe dixit of a Benedi&tine monk will make us explode, as heretical, propofitions which are demonstrated to be fcriptural.
(4.) An argument which has been frequently used of late against the Anticalvinift 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 conscience, than they are fill' to the word of God. It is proper therefore such 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 number of friars in the church of Rome are champions for Calvinism, and oppose St. Paul's doctrine, that the grace of God bringeth salva. tion, has appeared unto all men, as ftrenuously as fome real Protestants do among us.. Now, if good Father Walsh is 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 fynonimous terms, as some divines would make us. believe, many
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 Proteftants.
(5.) But whether the good friar is a hot Jansenist, or only a warm Thomist, (so they call the popith Cal. vinilts 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 experiences of regenerate fouls, and the writings of a cloud of Protestant divines ! No more than a grain of loose fand to the folid: rock on which the church is founded.