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Christ doth, and so we might be the faviours of the ele&, as
Christ is? Which is most absurd to imagine. And,
(4.) According to Antinomian principles, What need was there that we should be justified at all? or, What place is left for the justification of any sinner in the world? For, according to their opinion, the justification of the elect is an immanent act of God before the world was; and that eternal act of justification, making the elect as completely righteous as Christ himself, there could not possibly be any the least guilt in the elect to be pardoned; and consequently no place or room could be left for any justification in time. And then it mnst follow, that seeing Christ died in time for sin, according to the scriptures; it must be for his own fins that he died, and not for the sins of the elect; diametrically opposite to Rom. vt. 25. and the whole current of scripture, and faith of Christians.
It is therefore very unbecoming and unworthy of a justified person, after Christ hath taken all his guilt upon himself, and suffered all the punishment due thereunto in his place and room; instead of an humble and thankful admiration of his unparalleled grace therein, to throw more than the guilt and punishment of his sins upon Christ, even the transgression itself: and comparing his own righteousness with Christ's, to fay he is as completely righteous as Christ himself. This is, as if a company of bankrupt debtors, arrested for their own debts, ready to be cast into prison, and not having one farthing to fatisfy, after their debts have been freely and fully discharged by another, out of his immense treasure, should now compare with him, yea, and think they honour him, by telling him, that now they are as completely rich as himself.
I am well assured, no good man would embrace an opinion so derogatory to Christ's honour as this is: did he but fee the odious consequences of it, doubtless he would abhor them as much as we. And as for those now in heaven, who fell into such mistakes in the way thither, were they now acquainted with what is tranfacted here below, they would exceedingly rejoice in the detection of those mistakes, and bless God for the refutation of them,
Error 8. They affirm, That believer! need not fear their own fins, nor the fins of others ; forasmuch as neither their own, or others fins can do them any hurt, nor must they do any duty for their own goad or salvation, or for eternal rewards.
That we need sear no hurt from sin, or may not aim at our own good in duty, are two propositions that found harsh iu W>e ears 6f believers. I shall consider them severally, and refute them as briefly as I can.
Proposition 1. Believers need not fear their own sins, or the Jins of others ,• because neither our otun, er others sins can do Ut any hurt,
They seem to be induced into this error, by misunderstanding the apostle, in Rom. viii. 28 as if the scope of that text were to assert the benefits of sin to justified persons; whereas he speaks there of adversities and afflictions befalling the faints in this life. Univerfaiis reftringenda est admateriamsubjetlam, loquitur enim de affliclionibus piorum. The subject-matter (faith Paraeus on the place) restrains the univerlal expression of the apostle: for when he there faith, " All things shall work to"gether for good;" he principally intends the afflictions of the godly, of which he treats there in that context. It may be extended also to all providential events; Omnia quxeunque eis accedunt forinsecus, tam adversa, quam profpera: All adverse and prosperous events of things without us, as Estius upon the place notes. Nothing is spoken of sin in this text. And the apostle distributing this general into particulars, ver. 38. plainly slicws, what are the things he intended by his univerfal expression, ver. 28. as also in what respect no creature can do the faints any hurt, namely, that they shall never be able " to se"parate them from the love pf God, which is in Christ Jesus "•our Lord." And in this respect it is true, that the sins of the elect shall not hurt them, by frustrating the purpose of God concerning their eternal falvation; or totally, and finally to separate them from his love. This we grant, and yet we think it a very unwary and unsound expression, That believers need not fear their ovinfins, because they can do them no hurt: It is too general and unguarded a proposition to be received for truth. What if their sins cannot do them hurt, to frustrate the purpose of God, and damn them to eternity in the world to come? Can it therefore do them no hurt at all in their present state of conflict with it in this world? For my part, I think the greatest fear of caution is due to sin, the greatest evil; and that Chrysostome spake more like a Christian, when he faid, Nil nisi peccatunt timeo, I fear nothing but sin. Though sin cannot finally ruin the believer, yet it can many ways hurt and injure the believer, and therefore ought not to be misrepresented as such an innocent and harmless thing to them. In vain aie so many terrible threaten* ings in the scriptures against it, if it can do us no hurt; and it is certain nothing can do us good, but that which makes u?
Vot. IV. A a 4
better and more holy: But fin can never pretend to that of all things in the world. Bat to come to an issue, fin may be consi Jertd three ways.
1. Formally. 2. Effectively. 3.Reductively. First, formally, as a tranigiession of the preceptive part of the law of God, and under that considers jpn it is the most formidable evil in the whole world. The evil of evils, at which every gracious heart trembles, and ought rather to chuse banishment, prison and death itlelf in the most terrible form, than sin, or that which is most tempting in fin, the pleasures of it; as Moses did, Heb xi. 25.
Secondly, bin may be considered effectively, with respect to the manifold mischiess and calamities it produceth in the world, and the spiritual and corporeal evils it infers upon believers , themselves: Though it cannot damn their souls, yet it makes war against their fouls, and brings them into miserable bondage and captivity, Rom. vii. 23. It wounds their souls, under which wounds they are feeble and fore broken; yea, they roar by reason of the disquietness of their hearts, Pfal. xxxviii. 5, 8. Is war, captivity, festering, painful wounds, causing them to roar, no hurt to believers? It breaks their very bones, Pfil. li. 8. And is that no hurt? It draws of their minds from God, interrupts their prayers and meditations, Rom. vii.,itf, 19,20, 21. And is there no hurt in that? It causeth their graces to decline, wither, and languish to that degree.'.that the things which are in them are ready to die, Rev. iii. 1. and Rev. ii. 4. And is the loss of grace and spiritual strength, no hurt to a believer? It hides the face of God from them, Isa. lix. 2» And is there no hurt in spiritual withdrawmenrsof God from their souls? Why then do deserted saints so bitterly lament and bemoan it? Ii provokes innumerable afflictions and miseries, which fall upon our bodies, relations, esta tes; and if sin be the cause of all these inward and outward miseries to the people of God, sure then there is some hurt in sin, for which the faints ought to be afraid of it
Thirdly, Sin may be considered redtictivcly, as it is over-ruled, reduced, and finally issued by the covenant of grace. Under this consideration of sin, which rather respects the future, than present slate, the Antinomians only respect the hurt or evil of it; overlooking both the former considerations of fin, which concern the present state of believers, and so rashly pronounce, Sin can do believers no hurt; an assertion tending to a great deal of looseness and licentiousness. A man drinks deadly poison, and is, after many months, recovered by the skill of an excellent physician; shall we fay, There was no hurt In it, because the man died not of it? Sure, those fearful twinges he felt, his loss of strength and stomach were hurtful to him, tho' he escaped with life, and got this advantage by it to be more, wary for ever after. Tantum religic< potuitsuadere mahrum.
And then, for other mens sins, (which, they ssy, we need not fear), it is an assertion against all the laws of charity; for the fins of wicked men eternally damn them, disturb the peace, and order of the world, draw down national judgments upon the whole community, cause wars, plagues, persecutions, 6r. which considerations of the sins of others opened fountains of tears in David's eyes, Plal. cxix. 136. caused horror to take hold upon him, ver. 53. and yet, if you will believe the Antinomian doctrine, believers have no need to fear, much less to be in horror (which is the extremity of fear} for other mens sins. How is Satan gratified, and temptations to sin strengthened, upon the fouls of men, by such indistinct, unwary, and dangerous expressions as these are? A good intention can be no sufficient falve for such assertions as these.
Secondly, They tell us, • That as the faints need fear no sin 'for any hurt it can do them, so they must do no duty for their 'own good ,. or with an eye to their own falvation, or eternal 'rewards in heaven.'
Refutation. This, as the former, is too generally and indistinctly delivered. He thai distinguisheth well, teacheth well. The confounding of things which ought to be distinguished, easily runs men into the bogs of errors. Two things ought to have been distinguished here:
1. Ends in duties.
2. Self-ends in duties.
First, Ends in duties; There are two ends in duties, one/uptemt and ultimate, viz. the glorifying of God, which must, and ought to take the first place of all other ends: Another secondary sad subordinate, viz. the good and benefit ot ourselves. To invert these, and place our own good in the room of God's glory, is sinful and unjustifiable; and he that aims only at himself in religion, is justly censured as a mercenary servant, especially, if it be any external good he aims at; but spiritual good, especially the enjoyment of God, is so involved in the other, viz. the glory of God, that no man can rightly take the Lord for his God, but he must take him for his supreme good, and, consequently, therein may, and must have a due respect to his own happiness.
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Secondly, Self.ends mull always be distinguished Into.
i. Corrupt, or carnal self-ends.
2 Pure, and spiritual selt-cnds.
As to carnal and corrupt ltlf-ends, inviting and moving men to the performance of religious duties; when these are the only ends men aim at, they bewray the hypociiiy of the heart, and, accordingly, God charges hypocrisy upon such persons. Hos. vii. 14. " They have not cried unto me with their heart, when *: they howled upon their beds; They assemble themselves for "corn, and wine," ac. God reckons not the most solemn duties animated by such ends, to be done unto him. Zech. vii. 5. "Did ye at all fast unto me?"
But,, beside these, man hath a best self, a spiritual self, to regard in duty, viz. The conformity of bis sonl to God in holiueis, and the perfect fruition of God in glory. Such holy selfends as these, are often commended, but no where condemned in scripture. 'Twat the encomium of Moses, that " he had re"spect unto the recompense of reward," Heb. xi. 26. These ordinate inspects to our spiritual, best self, are so far from being our sin, that God both appoints, and allows them for great oses, and advantages to his people, in their way to glory. They are, (1.) Singular encouragements to the faints under persecutions, straits, and distresses, Heb. x. 34. and to that end Christ proposcs,them, Luke xii. 32. and lo the best of faints have made use of them, 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18. (2.) They are motives, and incentives to praise, and thankfulness, 1 Pet. i. 3, 4. Col i. 12. (3.) They stir up the faints to chearful, and vigorous industry for God, Col. iii. 23, 24. 1 Cor. xv. 58.
Now to cut off from religion all these spiritual, and excellent self-respects, and to make them our fins, and marks of our hypocrisy, is an error very injurious to the gospel, and to the souls of men. For, (1.) It crosses the strain of the gospel, which commnnd* us to strive for pur falvation, Luke xiii. 24, 25, Phil ii. 12. 1 Tim. iv. 16. (2.) It blames that in the faints as sinful, which the scripture notes as their excellency, and records to their praise, Heb. xi. 26. . (3.) It makes the laws of Christi* anity to thwart, and cross the very fundamental law of onr creation, which inclines, and 'obliges all men to intend their own felicity: And on this account, not only our Antinomians are blame-worthy, but others also, who are far enough from their opinion, who urge humiliation for fin beyond the staple; teaching men, they are not humbled enough, till they be content to be damned. (4.) It unreasonably supposes a Christian may not do that for his own foul, which he daily doth, and is