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Condition they were in, and not call away their souls by false persuasions and vain considences.
Reason 3 This doctrine cannot be true, because it supposes every persuasion, or strong conceit of a man's own heart, to be as infallibly sore and certain, as the very fundamental doctrines of Christianity. No truth in the world can be surer than, thjs, that Jel'us Christ died for sinners. "This is a faithful fay•' ing, and worthy of all acceptation," 1 Tim. i. 15. This is a foundation-stone, a tried, precious corner-stone, a sure foundation laid by God himlelf, Isa. xxviii. 16. and shall the strong conceits and confidences of men's hearts vie and compare, in point of certainty, with it? As well may probable, and merely conjectural propositions, compare with axioms that are selfevident, or demonstrative arguments that leave no doubts behind them. Know we not, that the heart is deceitful above all things, the most notorious cheat and impoftor in the world, Jer. Xvii. 9. r Does it not deceive all the formal hypocrites in the world, in this very point? And shall every strong conceit and presumptuous confidence, begotten of Satan by a deceitful heart, and nursed up by self-love, pass without any examination or suspicion for as infallible and assured a truth, as that Jesus Christ came into the world to fave sinners? The Lord sweep that doctrine out of the world by reformation, which is like to sweep so many thoufand souls into hell by a remediless selfdeception.
Error, 4. The fourth Antinomian error before-mentioned, was this, That believers are not bound to consess their fins, '6r fray far the pardon of them; because their fins were pardoned before they .were committed •> and pardoned fin is no fin.
Refutation. If this be true doctrine, then it will justify and make good such conclusions and inferences as these, which necesfarily flow from it: via.
1. That there is no sin in believers.
2. Or if there be, the evil is very inconsiderable. Or,
3. Whatever evil is in it, it is not the will of God that they should either confess It, mourn over it, or pray for the remission of it; whatever he requires of others, yet they need take no notice of it, so as to afflict their hearts for it; God hath exempted them from such concernments: There's nothing but joy to a believer, faith Mr. Eia».But neither of these conclusions are either true or tolerable; therefore neither is the 'principle so which yieWcth them.
Vol. IV. Yy
either the intrinsic e vil of it, or the sad and dismal effects produced by it, are far from thinking it a light or inconsiderable svil. The sins, even of believers, greatly wrong and offend their God, Pial. li. 4. and is that a light thing with us? They interrupt and clog our communion with God, Rom. vii. 21. They grieve the good Spirit of God, Eph. iv. 30. Certainly these are no inconsiderable milchiefs.
(3.) Now if there be sin iu believers, and so much evil in their sins (neither of which any sober Christian will deny) then undoubtedly it is their duty to confess it freely, mourn for it bitterly, and pray for the pardon of it earnestly; unless God have any where discharged them from those duties, and told them these are none of their concernments, and that he expects not these things from justified persons; but that these are daties properly and only belonging to other men. But on the contrary, you find the whole current of scripture running strongly and constantly in direct opposition to such idle and sinful notions. For,
(1.) He hath plainly declared it to be his will, that his people should confess their sins before him, and strongly connected their confessions with their pardons, 1.John v. 9. and frequently suspends from them the comfortable sense of forgiveness, till their hearts be brought to this duty, Psal. xxxii. 5. compared with verse 3, 4. the more to engage them to this duty, by the sensible ease and comfort attending and following it.
• (2.) He also enjoins it upon them, Thar they mourn for their sins, Isa. xxii. 12. expresses his great delight in contrition and brokenness of spirit for sin; Isa. lxvi. 2. "To this man will I "look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit." Christ himself pronounces a blessing upon them that mourn, Mat. v. 4. Justified Paul mournfully confesses bis former blasphemies, persecutions, and injuries done against Christ, 1 Tim. i. 13. So did Ezra, Daniel, and other eximions saints.
ObjeEl. Yes, fay some, they did indeed confess their sins committed before their justification, but not their after-sins.
Reply. According to Antinomian principles, I would demand, "all the elect were justified from eternity, what sins any of them could confess which they had committed before their justification? Or, if they were justified from the time of Christ's death, what were the sins any of us have to confess who had not a being, and therefore had not actually sinned long after »« death of Christ? But I hope none will deny, that the mouruY y %
ful complaints the apostle makes for sin, Rom. vii. 23,24, were
after he was a sanctified and justified person.
(3.) It is not the will of Christ to exempt any justified person upon earth, from the duty of praying frequently and fervently for the remission of his lins. This the most eminent saints upon earth have done. The greatest favourites of heaven have freely confessed, and heartUy prayed for the remission of sin, Dan. ix. 4, 19. And that the gospel gives us no exemprion from this duty, appears by Christ's injunction of it upon all his people, Mat. vi. 12
Error 5. To give countenance to the former error, they fay, That God sees no sin in believers, whatsoever sins they commit; and seek a covert for this error from Numb, xxiii. 21. and Jer. ). 20. In the former place it is said by Balaam, "He hath not "beheld iniquity in Jacob, nor seen perverseucss in Israel." And in the other place it is faid, "In those days, and in that rime, "faith tht Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and
there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall "not be found: for I will pardon them, whom 1 reserve."
Refutation. Now that this opinion of the Antinomians is erroneous, will appear four ways.
1. By its repugnancy to God's omniscience,
2. By its inconsistency with his dispensations,
3. By its want of a scripture-foundation.
4. By its contradictoriness to their other principles.
It is true, and we thankfully acknowlege it, that God seel no sin in believers, as a judge fees guilt in a malefactor, to con,' demn him for it; that is a sure and comfortable truth for us; but to fay he fees no sin in his children, as a displeased father, «o correct and chasten them for it, is an assertion repugnant to scripture, and very injurious to God. For,
(1.) It is injurious to God's omniscience, Psal, cxxxix. 2, *' Thou, (faith holy David,) knowest my down-sitting, and ** my up-rising, and understandest my thoughts afar off, and '.' art acquainted with all my ways." Job xxviii. 24. "to *' looketb to the ends of the earth, and feeth under the whole "heavens." Prov. xv. 3, " The eyes of the Lord are in era? *' place, beholding the evil and the good." Pfal. xxxiii. 14, 15. '* From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the *' inhabitants of the earth; he fashioneth their hearts alike, b *' considereth all their works." He that denies that God feeth his most secret sins, therein, consequentially, denies him to be God.
(2.) This assertion is inconsistent with God's providential dispenfations to his people. When David, a justified believer bad sinned against him in the matter of Uriah, it is faid, 2 Sam. xi. 27. "the thing that David had done dipleased the Lord:" and, as the effect of that displeasure, it is faid, chap. xii. 15. "The Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto Da"vid, and it was very sick." Among the Corinthians some that should not be condemned with the world, were judged and chastened of the Lord for their undue approaches to his table, 1 Cor. xi. 32. Now, I would ask the Antinomians these two questions. Quest. 1. Whether it can be denied, that David, under the Old Testament, and these Corinthians under the New, were justified persons; and yet the former stricken by God in his child, with its sickness and death; and the latter in like manner smitten by God in their own persons; and both for their respective sins committed against God; and yet God faw no sin in them? Did God' smite them for fin, and yet beheld no sin in them? Beware lest in ascribing such strokes to God, you strike at once both at his omnisciency and justice. Quest. 2. How God, upon confession and repentance, can be faid to put away his peoples sins (as Nathan there assures David he had done) when in the mean time he faw no sin in him, either to chastise him for, or to pardon in him? Do you think that God's asflictions, or pardons, are blindfold acts, done at random? How inconsistent is this with divine dispenfations.
(3.) This opinion is altogether destitute of a scripture-foundation; it is evident it hath none in the only places alledged for it. It hath no footing at all in Numb, xxiii. 21. Grave and learned Gataker hath learnedly and industriously vindicated that scripture from this abuse of it by Antinomians, in his treatise upon that text, entitled, Cod's eye upon his Israel 1 where, after a lf-arned and critical search of the text, he telleth us, it soundeth word for word thus from the originial; "He hath *' not beheld wrong against Jacob, nor hath he seen grievance "against Israel." So that the meaning is not, that God did not fee sin in Israel, but that he beheld not with approbation the wrongs and injuries done by others against his Israel; and shews at large, by divers solid reasons, why the Antinomian fense cannot be the proper sense of that place, it being cross to the main tenor of the story, and truth of God's word; which shews, that God often complained of their sins, often threatened to avenge them; yea, did actually avenge them, by destroying them in the wilderness; nay, Balaam himself, who uttered these words unto Balak, did not so understand them, as appears by the advice he gave to Balak, to draw them into sin, that