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about his purposes. He has always the same thing in view, namely, his own glory and my salvation, together with that of the other elect. This Adam was accomplishing when he put the whole world under the curse; Onesimus when he robbed Philemon his master; Judah when he committed incest with Tamar; and David when he committed adultery with Bathsheba. How has many a poor, faithless soul even blessed God for Peter's denial! As for the incestuous Corinthian, the tenderness shown him after his crime, has raised many out of the mire, and caused them to recover their first love.

(2.) For my good. (Page 32.) God has promised to make all things work for good to me;' and if all things, then my very sins and corruptions are included in the royal promise. Should I be asked, What particular good sin will do me in time and in eternity? I answer : A grievous fall [suppose into adultery, murder, or incest] shall serve to make me know my place, to drive me nearer to Christ, to make me more dependent upon his strength, to keep me more watchful, to cause me to sympathize with the fallen, and to make me sing louder to the praise of free, sovereign, restoring grace, throughout all the ages of eternity. Thus, although I highly blame (p. 33,) those who roundly say, Let us sin that grace may abound,' I do not legalize the Gospel, but openly declare, (p. 27,) that if I commit adultery, murder, or incest, before or after my conversion, grace shall irresistibly and infallibly abound over these, and all my other sins, be they small or be they great, be they more or be they less. My foulest falls will only drive me nearer to Christ, and make me sing (p. 32) his praises louder than if I had not fallen. Thus [to say nothing of the sweetness and profit which may now arise from sin] adultery, incest, and murder shall, upon the whole, make me holier upon earth, and merrier in heaven."


I need not tell you, honoured sir, that I am indebted to you for all the doctrines, and most of the expressions of this dangerous confession of faith. If any one doubt of it, let him compare this creed and your Letters together. Some clauses and sentences I have added, not to "misrepresent and blacken," but to introduce, connect, and illustrate your sentiments. You speak, indeed, in the third person, and I in the first, but this alters not the doctrine. Beside, if the privileges of a lean believer belong to me as well as to David, I do not see why I should be debarred from the fat pastures you recommend, (p. 34,) which, I fear, are so very rich, that if the leanest sheep of Christ do but range, and take their fill in them, they will in a few days wax wanton against him, butt at the sheep which do not bleat to their satisfaction, attack the under shepherds, and grow so excessively fat as to outkick Jeshurun himself.

XVII. Some half-hearted Calvinists, who are ashamed of their principles, and desirous to conceal their Diana's deformity, will probably blame you for having uncovered the less frightful of her feet, and shown it naked to the wondering world. But to the apology which you have already made about it, I hope I may, without impertinence, add one or two remarks.

1. Whoever believes either the doctrine of unconditional election, or that of righteousness absolutely imputed to apostatizing believers,

or that of the infallible perseverance of all who were saints yesterday, and to-day commit adultery, murder, or incest; and, in a word, whoever believes the doctrine of finished salvation implicitly receives twothirds of the Antinomian creed which you have helped me to. And those who have so strong a faith, and so large a conscience, as to swallow so much, (together with the doctrine of finished damnation, eternal wrath flaming against myriads of unborn creatures, and everlasting fire prepared for millions of passive, sensible machines, which have only fulfilled God's secret and irresistible will,) might, one would think, receive the whole creed without any difficulty: for why should those who can swallow five or six camels as a glib morsel, strain at three or four gnats, as if they were going to be quite choked. Again:

2. If Calvinism is true, you are certainly, honoured sir, the honest and consistent Calvinist, so far as consistency is compatible with the most inconsistent of all schemes. Permit me to produce one instance, which I hope will abate the prejudices which some unsettled Calvinists have conceived against you for speaking quite out with respect to the excellent effects of sin in believers.

If man is not a free agent, (and undoubtedly he is not, if from all eternity he has been bound by ten thousand chains of irresistible and absolute decrees,) it follows, that he is but a curious machine, superior to a brute, as a brute is superior to a watch, and a watch to a wheelbarrow. Upon Calvin's principles this wonderful machine is as much guided by God's invisible hand, or rather by his absolute decrees, as a puppet by the unseen wire which causes its seemingly spontaneous motions. This being the case, it is evident that God is as much the author of our actions, good or bad, as a show-man is the author of the motions of his puppets, whether they turn to the right or to the left. Now as God is infinitely wise, and supremely good, he will set his machines upon doing nothing but what, upon the whole, is wisest and best. Hence it appears, that if the doctrine of absolute decrees, which is the fundamental principle of Calvinism, is true, whatever sin we commit, we only fulfil the absolute will of God, and do that which, upon the whole, is wisest and best; and therefore that you have not unadvisedly pleaded for Baal, but rationally spoken for God, when you have told us what great advantages result from the commission of the greatest crimes. In doing this strange work, then, you have acted only as a consistent predestinarian; and though some thoughtless Calvinists may, yet none that are judicious will blame you, for having spoken agreeably to the leading principle of "the doctrines of grace."

I have observed, that speculative Antinomianism, or barefaced Calvinism, stalks along upon the doctrine of finished salvation, and finished damnation, which we may consider as the two feet of your great Diana; and the preceding creed, which is drawn up for an elect, uncovers only her handsome foot, finished salvation. To do my subject justice, I should now make an open show of her cloven foot, by giving the world the creed of a reprobate, according to the dreadful doctrine of finished damnation. But as I flatter myself that my readers are already as tired of Calvinism as myself, I think it needless to raise their detestation of it, by drawing before their eyes a long chain of blasphemous positions, capable of making the hair of their heads stand up with horror.

I shall, therefore, with all wise Calvinists, draw a veil over the hideous sight, and conclude by assuring you, few people more heartily wish you delivered from speculative Antinomianism, and possessed of salvation truly finished in glory, than, honoured and dear sir, your affectionate and obedient servant, in the bonds of what you call the " legalized Gospel," JOHN FLETCHER.


To Richard Hill, Esq.

HON. AND DEAR SIR,-Having endeavoured, in my last, to convince you out of your own mouth, that undisguised Calvinism and speculative Antinomianism exactly coincide, before I turn from you to face your brother, I beg leave to vindicate good works from an aspersion, which zealous Calvinists perpetually cast upon them. For as practical Antinomianism destroys the fruits of righteousness, as a wild boar does the fruit of the vine; so speculative Antinomianism besprinkles them with filth, as an unclean bird does the produce of our orchards.


Hence it is, that you charge me (Review, p. 69,) with “vile slander," for insinuating that our free-grace preachers do not "raise the superstructure in good works." Page 41, as if you wanted to demonstrate the truth of my vile slander," you say, Though we render the words zaλa spya, 'good works,' yet the exact translation is 'ornamental works;' and truly, when brought to the strictness of the law, they do not deserve the name of 'good.' But, however grating the expression may sound to those who hope to gain a second justification by their works, yet we have Scripture authority to call them dung, dross, and filthy rags."

Now, sir, if Scripture authorizes us to call them thus, they are undoubtedly very useless, loathsome, and abominable; and the Minutes, which highly recommend them, are certainly dreadfully heretical. must then lose all my controversial labour, or once more take up the shield of truth, and quench this fiery (should I not say, this " filthy") dart, which you have thrown at St. James' undefiled religion: I begin with your criticism.

I. "Though we render the words xaλa spya, good works, yet the exact translation is ornamental works." I apprehend, sir, you are mistaken. The Greek word xaλog exactly answers to the Hebrew (,) which conveys the joint ideas of goodness and beauty. Before there was any "filthy rag" in the world, "God saw every thing that he had made; and behold it was (ND) very good," which the Septuagint very exactly renders xaλa av. Fully to overthrow your criticism, I need only to observe, that good works are called good, with the very same word by which the goodness of the law, and the excellence of the lawgiver are expressed. For St. Paul, speaking of the law, Rom. vii, 16, says that it is xaλos, "good ;" and our Lord, speaking of himself, says "I am o wojny o xaλos, the coop Shepherd."

Now, sir, as you are too pious to infer from the word xaλos, that neither the law nor Christ" deserved to be called good," I hope you will be candid enough to give up your similar inference concerning good works.

Inconsistency is the badge of error. You give us, if I mistake not, a proof of it, by telling us with one breath that "good works do not deserve the name of good," but that of" ornamental ;" and, with the next, that Scripture authorizes us to call them "dung, dross, and filthy rags." Are then dung, dross, and filthy rags ornamental things? or did you try to render Geneva criticism as famous as Geneva logic? But,

II. You have recourse to divinity as well as to criticism: for you say, "When good works are brought to the strictness of the law, they do not deserve the name of good." I answer: If our Lord himself called them good, it does not become us to insinuate that in so doing he passed a wrong judgment, and countenanced "proud justiciars" in their legal error. With respect to the "strictness of the law," which you so frequently urge, your frightful notions about it cannot drive us into Antinomianism; because we think that Christ and St. Paul were better acquainted with the law than Calvin and yourself. If "all the law and the prophets hang on the grand commandment of love," as our Lord informs us; and if " he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law," as the apostle declares, we see no reason to believe that the law condemns as "dung" the labour of that love by which it is fulfilled, and rejects as "filthy rags" works which Christ himself promises to crown with eternal rewards. You probably reply:

III. "Many Pharisees go to church without devotion, and many fornicators give alms without charity, fancying that such good works make amends for their sins, and merit heaven." Good works, do you call them? The Scriptures never gave them that honourable name. They are the hypocritical righteousness of unbelief, and not "works meet for repentance," or "the fruits of the righteousness of faith." Treat them as you please, but spare good works. It is as unjust to asperse good works on their account, as to hang the honest men who duly carry on the king's coinage at the mint, because the villains who counterfeit his majesty's coin evidently deserve the gallows.

IV. Should you object that "the best works have flaws, blemishes, and imperfections; and therefore may properly be called dung, dross, and filthy rags," I deny the consequence. The best guineas may have their flaws: nay, some dust or dirt may accidentally cleave to them; but this does not turn them into dross. As therefore a good guinea is gold, and not dross, though it has some accidental blemishes; so, God himself being judge, a good work is a good work, and not a filthy rag, though it is not free from all imperfections.

V. Not so, do you say?"We have Scripture authority to call good works filthy rags." You build, it seems, your mistakes upon Isaiah lxiv, 6," All our righteousness are as filthy rags:" a passage which, upon mature consideration, I beg leave to rescue from the hands of the Calvinists. The Jews were extremely corrupted in the days of Isaiah hence he opens his prophecy by calling the rich, "Ye rulers of Sodom," and the poor, " Ye people of Gomorrah." And what says


he to them? "How is the faithful city become a harlot! Righteousness lodged in it, but now murderers!" Yet these murderers hypocritically went on keeping their Sabbaths and new moons. They "fasted," but it was "for strife," and "to smite with the fist of wickedness." They "made many prayers," and offered multitudes of sacrifices, but "their hands were full of blood." Nor did they consider that he who, under these circumstances, "sacrifices an ox, is as if he slew a man.”

This corruption of the Jews, though general, was not universal: for the Lord of hosts had left to them a remnant, though very small. Now Isaiah, one of that very little flock, being humbled at the sight of the general wickedness of his people, confesses it in the first person (we) as ministers always do on such occasions; and he uses the word all, because the small remnant of the righteous was as lost in the multitude of the wicked. The verse, taken in connection with the context, runs thus: "Thou meetest him that rejoiceth, and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways." But, alas! we are not the people." Behold, thou art wroth, for we have sinned. We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." Therefore, instead of meeting us, as thou dost the righteous, thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us because of our iniquities. "We all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away:" so far are we from resembling the righteous, who are like a tree planted by the water side, whose leaf does not wither." Who does not see that the prophet here opposes the happiness of the righteous to the misery of the wicked? And that it is the hypocritical righteousness of the ungodly, and not the precious obedience of believers, which he compares to filthy rags?


VI. However, "We have Scripture authority to call good works dross." Your mind, I suppose, runs upon Isaiah i, 22, 25, where God expostulates with the obstinate Jews, by saying, "Thy silver is become dross," thy righteousness is all hypocrisy: yet, if thou returnest, "I will purge away thy dross," I will make thee truly righteous. Is it not evident, that it is hypocrisy and bad works, not good works, which God here calls dross? Will he, think you, purge away good works from his people? Is it not enough that armies of Antinomians do the devil that service? Must we also suppose that God promises to be his drudge?

VII. But, "we have Scripture authority to call good works dung." Not at all for the two passages you probably think of, are against you. In the first, God speaks to the disobedient Jews, and says, "If ye will not hear, and give glory unto my name, I will send a curse upon you: yea, I have cursed your blessings already. Behold, I will spread upon your faces the dung of your solemn feasts," Mal. ii, 2, 3. Now, sir, who does not see by the context that festivals kept by cursed hypocrites are called dung, and not the solemn worship performed by penitent believers?


If you quote Phil. iii, 8, it will be to as little purpose. Do you rightly understand that passage? "I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of

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