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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 justification by faith, under pretence of maintaining justification by works, in the last day or should they set us upon unnecessary and unscriptural works, we shall be glad of your assistance to repel them also.
If you grant it us, and do not despise ours, the world shall 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 sail 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 sail the double haven of present and eternal rest. 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 single reader a step toward 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 shall be even content to see it represented as the invidious labour of malice: for what is my reputation to the profit of one blood-bought 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 sincere respect, honoured and reverend sir, your affectionate and obedient serJ. FLETCHER. vant in the practical Gospel of Christ,
SINCE these Letters were sent to the press, I have seen a pamphlet, entitled, "A Conversation between Richard Hill, Esq., the Rev. Mr. Madan, and Father Walsh," a monk at Paris, who condemned Mr. Wesley's Minutes as "too near Pelagianism," and the author as 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 Papist to rest upon; and supposes that Popery is about the midway between Protestantism and Mr. J. Wesley." I shall just make a few strictures upon that performance.
1. If an Arian came to me, and said, “You believe that Jesus Christ is God over all, blessed for ever! Pelagius, that heretic who was publicly excommunicated by the whole Catholic Church, was of your sentiment, therefore you are a Pelagian; give up your heresy."
Should I, upon such an assertion, give up the Godhead of our Saviour? Certainly not. And shall I, upon a similar argument, 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 suffrage of a Papist is brought against 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 raised against the Bible itself!
3. So long as Christ, the prophets, and apostles are for us, together with the multitude of the Puritan divines of the last century, we shall smile at an army of Popish friars. The knotted whips that hang by their sides will no more frighten us from our Bibles than the ipse dixit of a Benedictine monk will make us explode, as heretical, propositions which are demonstrated to be Scriptural.
4. An argument, which has been frequently used of late against the anti-calvinist 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 consciences than they are still 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 bringing salvation has appeared unto all men," as strenuously as some "real Protestants" among Now, if good father Walsh be 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 synonymous terms, as some divines would make us believe, many monks 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 Protestants."
5. But whether the good friar be a hot Jansenist, or only a warm Thomist, (so they call the Popish Calvinists 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 experience of regenerate souls, and the writings of a cloud of Protestant divines? No more than a grain of loose sand to the solid rock on which the Church is founded.
I hope the gentlemen concerned in the Conversation lately published, will excuse the liberty of this postscript. I reverence their piety, rejoice in their labours, and honour their warm zeal for their Protestant cause. But that very zeal, if not accompanied with a close attention to every part of the Gospel truth, may betray them into mistakes which may spread as far as their respectable names: I think it therefore my duty to publish these strictures, lest any of my readers should pay more regard to the good-natured friar, who has been pressed into the service of Dr. Crisp, than to St. John, St. Paul, St. James, and Jesus Christ, on whose plain declarations I have shown that the Minutes are founded.
THIRD CHECK TO ANTINOMIANISM;
IN A LETTER
AUTHOR OF PIETAS OXONIENSIS.
BY THE VINDICATOR OF THE REV. MR. WESLEY'S MINUTES.
Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and (Scriptural) doctrine; for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, 2 Tim. iv, 2, 3.
Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith. But let brotherly love continue, Tit. i, 13; Heb. xiii, 1.
THIRD CHECK TO ANTINOMIANISM.
HONOURED AND DEAR SIR,-Accept my sincere thanks for the Christian courtesy with which you treat me in your Five Letters. The title page informs me, that a concern for "mourning backsliders, and such as have been distressed by reading Mr. Wesley's Minutes, or the Vindication of them," has procured me the honour of being called to a public correspondence with you. Permit me, dear sir, to inform you, in my turn, that a fear lest Dr. Crisp's balm should be applied, instead of the Balm of Gilead, to Laodicean loiterers, who may haply have been brought to penitential distress, obliges me to answer you in the same public manner in which you have addressed me.
Some of our friends will undoubtedly blame us for not yet dropping the contested point. But others will candidly consider, that controversy, though not desirable in itself, yet, properly managed, has a hundred times rescued truth, groaning under the lash of triumphant error. We are indebted to our Lord's controversies with the Pharisees and scribes for a considerable part of the four Gospels. And, to the end of the world, the Church will bless God for the spirited manner in which St. Paul, in his Epistles to the Romans and Galatians, defended the controverted point of a believer's present justification by faith; as well as for the steadiness with which St. James, St. John, St. Peter, and St. Jude carried on their important controversy with the Nicolaitans, who abused St. Paul's doctrine to Antinomian purposes.
Had it not been for controversy, Romish priests would to this day have fed us with Latin masses and a wafer god. Some bold propositions, advanced by Luther against the doctrine of indulgences, unexpectedly brought on the reformation. They were so irrationally attacked by the infatuated Papists, and so Scripturally defended by the resolute Protestants, that these kingdoms opened their eyes, and saw thousands of images and errors fall before the ark of evangelical truth.
From what I have advanced in my Second Check, it appears, if I am not mistaken, that we stand now as much in need of a reformation from Antinomianism as our ancestors did of a reformation from Popery; and I am not without hope that the extraordinary attack which has lately been made on Mr. Wesley's anti-Crispian propositions, and the manner in which they are defended, will open the eyes of many, and check the rapid progress of so enchanting and pernicious an evil. This hope inspires me with fresh courage; and turning from the Hon. and Rev. Mr. Shirley, I presume to face (I trust in the spirit of love and meekness) my new respectable opponent.
I. I thank you, sir, for doing Mr. Wesley the justice in your first letter of acknowledging, that "man's faithfulness is an expression which may be used in a sober, Gospel sense of the words." It is just in such a sense we use it; nor have you advanced any proof to the contrary.
We never supposed that "the faithfulness of God, and the stability of the covenant of grace, are affected by the unfaithfulness of man."