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sentence :-"Blessed was the son of Aaron, whom Moses anointed high priest, that he might have the right, (or, that he might have the privilege,) of entering once a year into the holy of holies." If those different expressions convey the same idea, your objection is frivolous, and Rev. xxii, 14, even according to your own translation, still evidently confirms the words of our Lord and his favourite disciple: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another."
2. The other text you touch upon is Matt. xii, 36, 37, "In the day of judgment, by thy wORDS shalt thou be justified." Page 10, you thus comment upon it: "Our Lord points out the danger of vain and idle words; and affirms, that as every tree is known by its fruit, so may the true state of the heart be known by the evil or good things which proceed out of the mouth; and having laid down this rule of judgment, he adds the words which you have so often cited in defence of your doctrine, By thy words thou shalt be justified,' &c, that is, as words and works are the streams which flow from the spring of the heart, so by these it will appear whether that spring was ever [I would say, with more propriety, is now] purified by grace; or whether it still remains in its natural corrupt state; the actions of a man being the declarative evidences, both here and at the great day, whether or no he was [I would say, he is] among the trees of righteousness which the Lord hath planted. This is the plain, easy sense of this passage."
Is it, indeed, honoured sir? Well then, I have the pleasure of informing you, that supposing you allow of my little alterations, we are exactly of the same sentiments; and I think that, upon second thoughts, you will not reject them; for it is evident, the actions of to-day show what a free agent is to-day, and not what he was yesterday, or he will be six months hence. By what argument will you prove, that because Lucifer was once a bright angel, and Adam a godlike creature, they continued such under all the horrors of their rebellion? Or that David's repentance after Nathan's expostulation, evidenced that he was a penitent before? In the last day the grand inquiry will not be, Whether Hymeneus, Philetus, and Demas, "were ever purified by grace;" but whether they were so at death. Because our last works will be admitted as the last, and consequently the most important and decisive evidences; for "as the tree falls, so it lies." Apostates, far from being justified for having been once "purified by grace," will be "counted worthy of a sorer punishment" for having "turned from the way of righteousness." Would not the world hiss a physician, who should publicly maintain, that by feeling people's pulse now, he can tell whether they were ever sick or well? Or that because one of his patients was alive ten years ago, he is alive now, though every symptom of death and corruption is actually upon him? And shall your hint, honoured sir, persuade your readers that what would be an imposition upon common sense in a gentleman of the faculty, is genuine orthodoxy in Mr. Hill?
But I have too high an opinion of your good sense and piety, dear sir, to think that you will persist in your inaccuracy, merely for the pleasure of maintaining the ridiculous perseverance of Antinomian
apostates, and contradicting the God of truth, who expressly mentions "the righteous turning from his righteousness, and dying in the sin that he has sinned." My hopes that you will give it up are the more sanguine, as it is rectified in the same page by two quotations which have the full stamp of your approbation.
"The judicious Dr. Guise," say you, "paraphrases thus on the place: Your words, as well as actions, shall be produced in evidence for or against you, to prove [not whether you ever were, but] whether you are a saint or a sinner, a true believer or not; and, according to their evidence, you shall be either publicly acquitted or condemned in the great day."" And as it is absurd to suppose that Christ shall inquire whether men are believers in the day of judgment, because faith will then be lost in sight; Mr. Wesley, whom you quote next, as if he contradicted me, wisely corrects the little inaccuracy of the doctor, and says, "Your words, as well as actions, shall be produced in evidence for or against you, to prove [not whether you are, but] whether you was a true believer or not, and according to their evidence you will either be acquitted or condemned in the great day." The very doctrine this which I have advanced at large in the Second Check.
However, triumphing as if you had won the day, you conclude by saying, "In the mouth of these two witnesses may THE TRUTH be firmly established." To this pious wish, honoured sir, my soul breathes out a cordial Amen! I rejoice to see that God has given you candour to the acknowledgment of THE TRUTH; and as it is firmly established in the mouth of Dr. Guise and Mr. Wesley, may it be for ever confirmed by this spontaneous testimony of Mr. Hill! But, in the name of brotherly love, if you thus hold THE TRUTH which I contend for; that is, justification by the evidence of works in the last day; why do you oppose me? Why do you represent my sentiment "as full of rottenness and deadly poison?" Till you solve this problem, permit me to vent my surprise by a sigh, and to say, Logica Genevensis!
Having seen how fully and particularly you have granted the fundamental doctrine of the book, to which you was to give "a full and particular answer," namely, that our final justification will turn upon the evidence of works in the last day; I go back to page 4, where, to my utter astonishment, you affirm, "that as this doctrine has no existence in the word of God, so neither in any Protestant Church unchurch under heaven!" Thus, to unchurch Mr. Wesley and me, you Dr. Guise and yourself!
To support your assertion you quote Bishop Cowper, Dr. Fulke, and Mr. Hervey, who agree to maintain, that "justification is one As neither you single act, and must therefore be done or undone." nor they have supported this proposition by one single argument, I shall just observe, that a thousand bishops and doctors are lighter than vanity, when weighed in the balance against the authority of Christ and his apostles.
However, if you forget your proofs, I shall produce mine; and by the following syllogism I demonstrate that justification in the day of our conversion, and justification in the last day, are no more "one single act," than the day of the sinner's conversion and that of judgment are one single day.
53 Two acts, which differ as to time, place, persons, witnesses, and circumstances, &c, cannot be "one single act;" (the one may be done when the other remains undone.) But our first justification at conversion thus differs from our second in the great day. Therefore our first and second* justification cannot be one single act, &c.
The second proposition, which alone is disputable, may be thus abundantly proved. Our first and second justification differ, (1.) With respect to time: the time of the one is the hour of conversion; and the time of the other the day of judgment. (2.) With respect to place: the place of the former is this earth; and the place of the latter the awful spot, in the new heaven or on the new earth, where the tribunal of Christ shall be erected. (3.) With respect to the witnesses: the witnesses of the former are the Spirit of God and our own conscience; or, to speak in Scripture language, "The Spirit bearing witness with our spirits that we are the children of God:" but the witnesses of the latter will be the countless myriads of men and angels assembled before Christ. (4.) With respect to the Justifier: in the former justification "one God justifies the circumcision and the uncircumcision ;" and in the latter, "one Mediator between God and man, even the man Christ Jesus," will pronounce the sentence: for, "the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son." (5.). With respect to the justified: in the day of conversion, a penitent sinner is justified; in the day of judgment, a persevering saint. (6.) With respect to the article upon which justification will turn: although the meritorious cause of both our justifications is the same, that is, the blood and righteousness of Christ, yet the instrumental cause is very different; by FAITH we obtain (not purchase) the first, and by WORKS the second. (7.) With respect to the act of the Justifier: at our conversion God covers and pardons our sins; but in the day of judgment Christ uncovers and approves our righteousness. And, (lastly,) with regard to the consequences of both at the first justification we are enlisted by the Friend of sinners to " fight the good fight of faith" in the Church militant; and at the second we are admitted by the righteous Judge to "receive a crown of righteousness, and shine like the sun" in the Church triumphant.
Is it not strange that the enchanting power of Calvinian logic should have detained us so long in Babel, where things so vastly different are perpetually confounded? Is it not deplorable that when Mr. Wesley has the courage to call us out of mystic Geneva, so many tongues and pens should be sharpened against him? Shall foreign logic for ever prevail over English good sense, and Christian brotherly kindness? Have we so "leaned toward Calvinism" as to be totally past recovery? And is the balance between St. Paul's and St. James' justification lost among pious Protestants for ever? O ye regenerate Britons, who have unhappily fallen in love with the Genevan Delilah, "awake! awake! put on strength," and leap out of the arms of that enchantress! If she rocks you asleep in her bosom, it is only to bind you fast with cords of Antinomian errors, and deliver you up to the horrors of Antinomian
I still call them first and second, not only to accommodate myself to the Rev. Mr. Shirley's expression in his Narrative, but because they may with propriety be thus distinguished, when considered with respect to each other.
practices. Has she not already cut off the locks, and put out the eyes of thousands? And does not Samson publicly grind for the Philistine? Have we not seen Mr. Hill himself tell the world that "all sins work for good to the pleasant children," who go on frowardly from adultery to treachery, and from treachery to murder?
But you have an answer ready. Page 6, you insinuate that it is I who have erected a Babel, by denying that the two above-described justifications are one and the same. And, to prove it, you advance a dilemma which is already obviated in the Third Check, p. 161. We readily grant you, honoured sir, that, if a man dies the moment he is justified by faith, the inward labour of his love, (for living faith always works by love,) will justify him in the day of judgment. But you must also grant us, that if he lives, and "turns from his righteousness;" or which is the same, if his faith, instead of working by love and obedience, works by lust and malice, by adultery and murder, it is no longer a living faith; it is a dead faith, of which St. James says, "What does it profit, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can that faith save him? Faith, if it hath not works, is dead." You see, then, how that, in what you call "the intermediate state," as well as in the last day, "by works a man is justified, and not by faith only," James ii.
Page 6, you assert, that my "favourite scheme is rather overthrown than supported by the instance of the collier," on whose evidence I supposed myself acquitted in a court of judicature. "His testimony," say you, "proves indeed your innocence, but it does in no degree constitute that innocence." Are then, "to justify a man," and "to constitute him innocent," expressions of the same import? Nay, some believe that when God justifies returning prodigals at their conversion, he does not constitute them innocent, but for Christ's sake mercifully pardons their manifold sins, and graciously accepts their guilty persons; and that when Christ shall justify persevering saints in the last day, he will not constitute them innocent, but only declare, upon the evidence of their last works, that they are "pure in heart," and therefore qualified "to see God, and worthy to obtain that world, where the children of the resurrection are equal to angels."
To show that the instance of the grafted tree overthrows also the doctrine of a two-fold justification, you quote that great and good man, Mr. Hervey. But you forget that his bare assertion is no better than your own. I appeal from both your assertions to the common sense of any impartial man, whether there is not a material difference between declaring that a crab stock is properly grafted, and pronouncing that an apple tree is not cankered and barren, but sound and fruitful. Mr. Hervey's mistake appears to me so much the more surprising, as the distinction which he explodes is every where obvious.
Look into our orchards, and you will see some trees that were once properly grafted, but are now blasted, dead, rotten, and perhaps torn up by the roots. Consider our congregations, and you will cry out, as the pious divine* under whose ministry you sit at present, "O what sad instances does the present state of the Church afford us of
*The Rev. Mr. De Courcy, in his "Delineation of true and false Zeal," a little edifying tract, which does justice to St. James' "pure religion," and shows, that some pious Calvinists clearly see the growth, and honestly check the progress of Antinomianism, so far as their principles will allow.
who set out with the most vehement zeal at the beginning, seemed to promise great things, and to carry all before them, who are now like the snuff of an extinguished taper, devoid of any apparent life! We swarm with slumbering virgins on the right hand and on the left. The Delilah of this world has shorn their locks, their former strength is gone, their frame is totally enervated, and the Philistines are upon them."
But, above all, search the oracles of God, and there you will see various descriptions of apostates, that is, of men who, to the last, "tread under foot the Son of God, and account the blood of the covenant wherewith they were sanctified," and consequently justified, "a common, despicable thing." These, in a dying hour, have no right to say, "I have kept the faith;" for, alas! by "putting away a good conscience, concerning faith they have made shipwreck." These, like "withered branches" of the heavenly Vine, in which they once blossomed, shall be "taken away, cast forth, and burned," in the last day, together with the chaff, for not "bearing fruit, and ending in the flesh;" agreeable to that awful clause in the Gospel charter, "The works of the flesh are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, idolatry, hatred, variance, wrath, strife, envying, murder, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I tell you, [justified believers,] as I have told you in time past, that they who Do such things SHALL NOT inherit the kingdom of heaven." Thus the numerous tribe of apostates, after having been "justified by FAITH" in the day of their conversion, shall be condemned by WORKS in the day of judgment. So real, so important is the distinction, which Mr. Hervey looks upon as needless, and you, sir, as "full of deadly poison!"
However, says Bishop Cowper, "This distinction confounds two benefits, justification and sanctification." To this assertion, which, according to a grand rule of your logic, is also to pass for proof, I answer, that our sanctification will no more be confounded with our justification in the last day, than our faith is confounded with our acceptance in the day of our conversion. When you shall demonstrate that the witnesses, upon whose testimony a criminal is absolved, are the same thing as the sentence of absolution pronounced by the judge, you will be able to make it appear, that sanctification is the same thing as justification in the last day; or, which is all one, that there is no difference between an instrumental cause and its proper effect. May both our hearts lie open to the bright beams of convincing truth! And may you believe that my pen expresses the feelings of my heart, when I subscribe myself, honoured and dear sir, your most obedient servant in Him who will justify us by our words, JOHN FLETCHER.
To Richard Hill, Esq.
HONOURED AND DEAR SIR,-An assertion of yours seems to me of greater moment than the quotation from Bishop Cowper, which I answered in my last. You maintain, (p. 11,) " that the doctrine of a two-fold justification is not to be found in any part of the liturgy of our Church."
1. Not to mention again the latter part of St. Athanasius' creed;