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fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, long-fuffering, gentlenefs, goodnefs, faith, meeknefs, temperance, hereby you know that he abideth in you, by the Spirit which he hath given you, 1 John iii. 24. Labour likewife to clear up this difficulty, not only by the life, but by the growth of grace. If you grow more humble, felf abafing and felf-condemning: if you grow more penitent, and more paffionately groan under the burthen of, and mourn for deliverance from all your fins : if your love to God increafes, and you take more delight in him and in his ways ; or at leaft long after a life of nearer communion with him, with more ardent defire : if you are more fpiritual in your thoughts, meditations, and affećtions, more heavenly in your conversation; and more careful of your refpećtive duties both to God and man, then you may know that Christ abideth in you and you in him ; in that you bring forth much fruit, John xv. 5. If you get fatisfying evidences of your union to Christ, adore, admire, and praife the infinite condefcenfion, and the aftonishing love of the glorious Redeemer, in taking fuch duft and afhes, fuch fin and pollution, into union with himself. Contemplate the amazing tranfaction of love with admiration ; and let the love of Chrijf conftrain you, to live to the praife of the glory of that grace, by which you become accepted in the beloved. That Chrift may abide in you and you in him, that you may win Christ, and be found in him at his appearance and kingdom, and that you may reign with him for ever, is the prayer of, * |- - Sir, Yours, &c.
LETTER XVIII. Wherein fome ANTINoMIAN ABU sEs of the Doćirine of Believers union to Christ, or Pleas from it for LICENT Iouss Ess and SecURITY in finning, are con/idered and
obviated. SI R,
LLOW me the freedom to tell you, that the con- fequences you draw from the doćtrine of our - B b |
union to Chrift, as I have reprefented it, are without any foundation ; and that a just view of the cafe muft convince you, that this doćtrine gives no “ advantage to “ licentious and latitudinarian principles, but the direćt contrary. I shall therefore endeavour according to your defire, to confider the Antinomian principles you are pleafed to propofe; and fee whether they • naturally follow from what Itaught in my laft’ * You do not fee (you tell me) if the principles I teach are allowed, how the Antinomians can be charged with error, in fuppofing that the true believer has no cause to repent of his fins, or to entertain any difquietment of mind with refpećł to them, fince he is united to Christ, and all his fins are charged to Christ’s account, whereby he has fatisfied for them all. Why therefore should the believer be concerned about a debt, which is fully difcharged ? Justice is fatisfied with refpećt to him ; Christ delights in him, as a member of his own body : the Spirit of God dwells in him, notwithstanding any of his fins and imperfećtions. Why may he not therefore be perfestly easy with respećł to fin; and look upon it (as a modern Antinomian expreffes himself) unworthy of our leaft regards ?” To this I anfwer. |1. That no man who is praćtically conformed to this Antinomian principle, can know himself to be a believer ; and therefore there can be no foundation for this reafoning, in any perfon whatsoever. Were your arguing allowed to be juft, it can take place with none, but those who have infallible evidence of their union to Chrift ; which it is impossible any man fhould have, who is not burthened with his fins, who does not hate them, and groan after deliverance from them. Repentance is the genuine and neceffary fruit of a true faith. * They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, * and shall mourn, Zech. xii, 1o. “ That thou mayet * remember, and be confounded, and never open thy * mouth any more, becaufe of thy shame, when I am * pacified towards thee for all that thou haft done, faith « the Lord God,’ Ezek. xvi. 63. “ And ye shall be my * people, and I will be your God. Then shall ye re• member your own evil ways and your doings which
* were not good; and shall loathe yourfelves in your * own fight, for your iniquities and for your abomina* tions,” Ezek. xxxvi. 28. 31. It is the true believer, and he only, that is capable aright to mourn for fin, truly to haté it, and to groan under the burthen of it: Unbelievers may mourn under a fenfe of their guilt and . danger, but this is not to repent offin. It is the believer only, who forrows for fin as fin; who hates all fin ; who groans, being burthened, from a fenfe of his finfułnefs ; and who cries out with the apostle, O wretched man that I am, who/Hall deliver me from the body of this death / What room can there then be for thofe licenti ous conclufions you fpeak of? Who is the person that can thus rock his confcience to sleep, under the prevalence of his lufts, from the doĉtrine of our union to Chrift, as I have defcribed it ? Muft it be fupposed to be one who is united to Christ ? Or one who is not united to Christ ? Surely not the former; for how can he be indolent, careless and fecure in the commission of fin, from the doćtrine of our union to Christ, who has no evidence of this being his cafe; nor can have any fuch evidence, till he is poor in fpirit, and is thereby qualified for the kingdom ofheaven, Matth. v. 3. till he is one that mourns for his fins, and comes under the promife of comfort, ver. 4. and untill he is of a contrite and humble fpirit ; for with fuch, and only with fuch, has the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, promised to dwell ? Ifa. lvii. 15. And I think, I need notendeavour to prove, that he who is not united to Christ, has no fhadow ofa plea or pretence to make for careleffnefs and fecurity in fin, from the doćtrine before us. Whence it follows, that all pretences of this kind are without any rational foundation. They only proceed from men’s delight in fin, in a life offenfual eafe and carnal fecurity; and not at all from the precious truth before us. This facred truth may indeed be perverted and abufed; and fo may all the other doctrines of the Gofpel, 2 Pet. iii. 16. But they who thus turn the grace of Godinto wantonnef, do it at the peril of their fouls ; and will find but little comfort in it, when they come to make up their accounts. Whatever extravagant pretences men’s licentious difpofitions may prompt them to, they muft in the conclufion find it true, that
alife of continued repentance of fin, a life of continued felf abafement and felf-judging, and a life of repeated and renewed mourning after pardon of and vićtory over our remaining corruptions, is a neceffary fruit and evidence of our union to Christ ; and belongs to the way which leadeth to life eternal, and in which the faints walk to heaven. If therefore we would not too late be found with a lie in our right hand, we muft with Daniel, pray to the Lord, and make our confesion, Dan. ix. 4. We muft, with the church, acknowledge ourfelves as an unclean thing, Ifa. lxiv. 6. We muft, with Job, even abhor our/elves, and repent in digt and afbes, Job xlii. 6. We muft, with Ephraim, bemoan ourselves, Jer. xxxi. 18. And with David, have our hearts fail us, on account of the number and aggravations of our fins, Pfal. xl. I 2. For thefe are the charaĉters, thefe are the difpofitions offuch, who are indeed united to Christ. 2. There is greater guilt in the fins of believers than in the fins of others. They have therefore greater caufe to be humbled for them, and to lament them before God. They are indeed united to Christ, reconciled to God, freed from all condemnation, and made beirs according to the hope ofeternal life, the fatisfying evidences of which blefled state muft carry them above any tormenting fears of hell and eternal perdition ; and deliver them from that legal repentance, which is the product of defponding thoughts, and a fear of amazement. But is there no other motive to repentance, but flavifh fears of hell ? Does not a true repentance and a genuine forrow for fim always flow from an affećting fenfe of the contrariety of fin to the nature and will of God ; from a fenfe of the ingratitude there is in fin, to a bountiful benefaĉtor and a compaffionate Saviour ; and from a fenfe of the difhonour to God’s name, the violation of his law, the abufe of his mercy and love, the affront and provocation to his holy Spirit, the distance procured be, tween God and us; and the prejudice to others, as well as to our own fouls, occafioned by our finning againft God. Now in all thefe refpećts, the fins of believers are more aggravated than the fins of other men. They are diftinguished from the most of the world, by renewing and faving grace : and muft it not cut them to the heart, to think of their vile ingratitude to fuch an infinitely kind and beneficent friend ; and of their horrid abuse of fuch an unmerited mercy and love! They are united to Chrift, washed in his precious blood, and juftified by his righteoufnefs ; and can they be content to load him with indignities, who has not thought his own blood too dear a ranfom for their fouls; and who has by the power of his grace plucked them out of the guilt and danger of a perishing world, and made them heirs of the eternal inheritance ! They have felt the divine influences and confolations of the blefied Spirit ; and have tafted that the Lord is gracious, and shall they by their fins grieve the Spirit of God, provoke him to withdraw, and to with-hold his quickening and comforting influences from them ? They are the friends and children of God, the fworn fubjećts of the eternal majesty ; yea, even the fpoufe of Jesus Chrift. , And shall fuch make little account of fin ! Is this thy kindne/s to thy friend ? Is it a light thing for a child to rebel againit his compaffionate Father; for a fubjeổt to take up arms against his prince; or for a wife to violate her marriage vows ? Certainly the fins of believersare aggravated, in proportion to the various obligations they are under, and though they have no caufe of desponding and difcouraging fears, they have the greatest caufe to groan under the burden of their fins, and to groan after deliverance from them. Their union to Christis fo far fron extenuating their fins, that it renders them more heinous in the fight of God; and is the strongest reafon why they should watch against them, lament and hate them. For this. reafon, God may juftly expostulate with them upon their finning against him, .as in Deut. xxxii. 6. Do ye thus requite the Lord, 0 fooli/h people and unwife ? ls not he thy Father that hath bought thee? Hath he not made thee, and established thee ?
3. It is true of believers, as well as of others, that ex. cept they repent they /hall furely peri/b. They are indeed fafe in the hands of Christ ; and none /ball pluek them out of his hands : he will preferve them to his heavenly kingdom. But then, he will fave them in his own way, in the way of a repeated renewed exercife of re- B b 3