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glory; is it right, sir, to despise it as some do, or to expose it as you have so frequently done?
Should you apologize for your conduct, by saying, "I have only treated YOUR perfection as you have treated OUR finished salvation, and our imputed righteousness:" I reply, The case is widely different. I hope I have made it appear, that you have not one single text in all the Bible to prove that a bloody adulterer (in flagrante delicto) stands complete in imputed righteousness; or that the salvation of idolatrous and incestuous apostates, who now work out their damnation with both hands, is actually finished, in the full extent of the expression. The whole stream of God's word runs counter to these "Antinomian dotages." Nor are they less repugnant to conscience and common sense, than to the law and the prophets. But you cannot find one word in all the Scriptures against the pure love of God and our neighbour, against perfect love, which is all the perfection we encourage believers to press after. The law and the Gospel, the Old and the New Testament, are equally for it. All who are "filled with the Spirit," sweetly experience it. A heathen, that fears God and regards man, cannot speak evil of it, but through misapprehension. And even while, through the amazing force of prejudice, you write against it with so much severity, it recommends itself to your own reason, and conscience. Are you not then, dear sir, under a mistake, when you think you may take the same liberty with God's undeniable truth, which I have taken with Dr. Crisp's indefensible error?
Permit me to state the case more fully still. Mr. Wesley cries to believers: "It is your privilege so to believe in Christ, and receive the Spirit, as to love God with all your hearts, and your neighbours as yourselves.' 779 And you say to them: "Mr. Wesley is blinder than a Papist, regard not his heretical words. Your salvation is finished. Whatever lengths you go in sin, you are as sure of heaven as if you were already there. It is your privilege to commit adultery, murder, and incest, not only without fearing that the Lord will be displeased with you; but conscious that, black as ye are in yourselves by the actual commission of these crimes, through Christ's comeliness put upon you, God can address each of you with, Thou art all fair, my love, my undefiled, there is no spot in thee!" (Five Letters, p. 28.) Now, sir, are you not a partial judge, when, by way of retaliation, you serve the holy doctrine maintained by Mr. Wesley, as I have served the unholy tenet propagated by Calvin and yourself?
Think you, really, that because a judge, after a fair trial, justly condemns a notorious robber to be hanged; another judge, to retaliate, has a right to quarter a good man, after a mock trial, or rather without any trial at all? And do you suppose, that because Jehu deservedly made "the house of Baal a draught house;" or because Josiah burned dead men's bones upon the unhallowed "altar in Bethel," to render it detestable to idolaters, Antiochus had a right to turn the temple of the Lord into a stye, and to pollute "the altar of incense," by burning "dung and filthy rags" upon it, that true worshippers might abominate the offering of the Lord, and loathe the holy of holies? Thus, howhave you (inadvertently I hope) treated good works and Christian perfection, which are ten thousand times more sacred and precious in
the sight of God than the holy, and the most holy place in the temple of Jerusalem.
And now, dear sir, please to look at the preceding list of the good works, which adorn the Christian's breast, or blazon his shining character; and tell us if there is one, which, upon second thoughts, you object against as a nuisance: one, which you would put away like "dross;" one, which you would have carried out of his apartment as
dung," or remove from his pious breast as a "filthy rag."
Methinks I hear you answer, " Not one. May they all abound more and more in my heart and life, and in the hearts and lives of all God's people!" Methinks that all the Church militant and triumphant cry out, "Amen!" A Divine power accompanies their general exclamation. The veil of prejudice begins to rend. Your honest heart relents. You acknowledge that Calvinism has deceived you. You retract your unguarded expressions. The Spirit of holiness, whom you have grieved, returns. The heavenly light shines. The Antinomian charm is broken. "Dross" is turned into fine gold; 66 ung" into savoury meat, which every believer loveth next to the bread of life; and “ filthy rags," into the "linen, fine and white, which is the righteousness of the saints, and the robe made white in the blood of the Lamb." Far from pouring contempt, through voluntary humility, upon this precious garment, you give praise to God, and in humble triumph put it on, together with the Lord Jesus Christ.
In that glorious dress you "walk with Christ in white," and in love with Mr. Wesley. Paris, and the convent of Benedictine monks, disappear. The "New Jerusalem," and "the tabernacle of God, come down from heaven. Leaving the things that are behind, you solemnly hasten unto the day of the Lord. Following peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord, you daily perfect it in the fear of God." You feel the amazing difference there is between a real and an imaginary imputation of righteousness. You tear away with honest indignation the pillow of finished salvation from under the head of Laodicean backsliders, who sleep in sin; and of bloody murderers, who defile their neighbour's bed. You set fire to the fatal canopy, under which you have inadvertently taught them to fancy that the holy and righteous God calls them "My love, my undefiled!" even while they wallow in the poisonous mire of the most atrocious wickedness. And to undo the harm you have done, or remove the offence you have given by your letters, you show yourself reconciled to St. James' pure religion; you openly give Mr. Wesley the right hand of fellowship, and gladly help him" to provoke" believers to uninterrupted "love and good works," that is, to Christian perfection.
Such is the delightful prospect which my imagination discovers through the clouds of our controversy; and such are the pleasing hopes that sometimes soothe my polemical toil, and even now make me subscribe myself, with an additional pleasure, honoured and dear sir, your affectionate brother and obedient servant, in the bonds of a pure Gospel, JOHN FLETCHER.
To Mr. Rowland Hill.
DEAR SIR,-Your uncommon zeal for God, so far as it is guided by knowledge, entitling you to the peculiar love and reverence of all that fear the Lord; I should be wanting in respect to you, if I took no notice of the arguments with which you are come from Cambridge to the help of your pious brother. In the Friendly Remarks that you have directed to me, you say with great truth, (page 31,) "the principal cause of controversy among us is the doctrine of a second justification by works. Thus much you indicate throughout, that a man is justified before the bar of God a second time by his own good works."
So I do, dear sir; and I wonder how any Christian can deny it, when Christ himself declares, " In the day of judgment, by thy words shalt thou be justified," &c. Had he said " By my words imputed to thee thou shalt be justified," you might indeed complain. But now, what reason have you to assert, as you do, that I have grossly misrepresented the Scriptures," and "made universal havoc of every truth of the Gospel?" The first of these charges is heavy, the second dreadful. Let us see by what arguments they are supported.
After throwing away a good part of your book in passing a long, Calvinian, juvenile sentence upon my spirit as a writer, you come at last to the point, and attempt to explain some of the scriptures, which you suppose I have "misrepresented."
I. Page 32, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father,'" Matt. vii, 21. "And what is this (say you) more than a description of those who are to be saved?"
What, sir, is it nothing but a description? Is it not a solemn declaration, that no practical Antinomian shall be saved by faith in the last day? And that Christ is really a Lord and a King, who has a law, which he will see obeyed? Had he not just before, (verse 12,) admitted the law and the prophets into his Gospel dispensation, saying, "All things which ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them, for this is the law and the prophets?" Are we not under this law to him? And will he not command his subjects, who obstinately violate it, to be brought and slain before him?
Again when he declares that they who "hate a brother, and call him, Thou fool! are in danger of hell fire as murderers!" do we not expose his legislative wisdom, as well as his paternal goodness, by. intimating, that, without having an eye to the murder of the heart or the tongue, he only describes certain wretches whom he unconditionally designs for everlasting burnings?
What I say of a punishment threatened is equally true of a reward promised, as you may see by the following illustration of our controverted text. A general says to his soldiers, as he leads them to the field of battle, "Not every one that calls me, Your honour, your ho nour, shall be made a captain; but he that fights manfully for his king VOL. I.
and country." You say, "What is this more than a description of those that shall be promoted?" And I reply, If warlike exploits have absolutely nothing to do with their promotion; and if the general's declaration is only a description of some favourites, whom he is determined to raise at any rate; could he not as well have described them by the colour of their hair, or height of their stature? And does he not put a cheat upon all the soldiers, whom he is absolutely determined not to raise; when he excites them to quit themselves like men, by the fond hope of being raised? Apply this simile to the case in hand, and you will see, dear sir, how frivolous, and injurious to our Lord is your intimation, that one of his most awful royal proclamations is nothing but an empty description. O Calvinism! is this thy reverence for Jesus Christ? Hast thou no way of supporting thyself but by turning the Lord of glory into a Virgil? The supreme Lawgiver of men and angels into a maker of descriptions?
II. Much of the same nature is the observation which you make (p. 37) upon these words of our Lord. They that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil into everlasting punishment." You say "What does this text prove more than has been granted before? What does it more than characterize those that shall be saved?" Nay, sir, it undoubtedly characterizes all those that shall be damned; and this too by as essential a character, as that according to which the king would appoint some of his servants for a gracious reward, and others for a capital punishment, if he said to them, "They that serve me faithfully shall be richly provided for; and they that rob me shall be hanged." If such characterizing as this passes at Geneva for a bare description of persons whom royal humour irrespectively singles out for reward, I hope the time is coming when at Cambridge it will pass for a clear declaration of the reason why some are rewarded, or punished, rather than others; and for a proof that the king is no more a capricious dispenser of rewards, than a tyrannical inflicter of punishments.
III. Page 33. After mentioning these words of St. Paul, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord ;" and those words which St. James wrote to believers, "Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves;" you say, "What is this to the purpose respecting a second justification? Just about as much as, Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah."" Now, sir, although I do not immediately rest the cause upon such scriptures, I maintain, that they` are much more to the purpose of our second justification by works than Moses' definition of an omer.
Will you dare to say, dear sir, that impious Jezebel, and unconverted Manasses, were persons "just about as" properly qualified for justification in the great day, because they had an omer in their palace, as pious Deborah, and holy Samuel, who had holiness in their hearts, and were doers of the word in their lives? And when the apostle declares that "Christ is the author of eternal salvation to them that obey him," does he mean, that to obey is a thing just about as important to eternal salvation, as to know that a bushel holds four pecks, and an ephah ten omers? Were ever holiness and obedience inadvertently set in a more contemptible light? For my part, if " by our words we
shall be justified in the day of judgment," I believe it shall be by our words springing from holiness of heart; and therefore I cannot but think that holiness will be more to the purpose of our justification by works in the great day, than all the omers and ephahs, with all the notions about imputed righteousness and finished salvation, in the world.
IV. Page 33. After quoting that capital passage, “Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers shall be justified," Rom. ii, 13, you say, "This certainly proves that the doers of the law shall be justified." Well, then, it directly proves a justification by works. But you immediately insinuate the "impossibility of salvation by the law." I readily grant, that in the day of conversion, we are "justified by faith," not only "without the deeds of the ceremonial law," but even without a previous observance of the law of love. But the case is widely different in the day of judgment; for then " by thy words shalt thou be justified." Now, sir, it remains for you to prove, that the apostle did not speak of the text under consideration, with an eye to our final justification by works.
In order to this, (p. 33,) you appeal to "the place which this text stands in, and the connection in which the words are found." I answer,
1. This text stands in the Epistle to the Romans, to whom the apostle says, "Love is the fulfilling of the law: he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law," Rom. xiii, 8, 10. Now, if "he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law," you must show that it is impossible to "love another," or acknowledge that there are persons who "fulfil the law;" and consequently persons who can be justified as "doers of the law." Nay, in the very chapter such persons are thus mentioned, "If the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, and fulfil the law, shall it not judge thee who dost transgress the law?" That is, shall not a Cornelius, an honest heathen, that "fears God and works rightcousness," rise in judgment against thee who "committest adultery;" vainly supposing that Abraham's chastity is imputed to thee? Rom ii, 22, 27. But,
2. Going back to the beginning of the chapter where our controverted text stands, I affirm that "the connection in which it is found" establishes also justification by works in the great day: and to prove it I only lay the apostle's words before my judicious readers. "Thou art inexcusable, O Jew, whosoever thou art that judgest, or condemnest the heathens, who do such things, and doest them thyself. The judgment of God is according to truth," and not according to thy Antinomian notions, that thou wast unconditionally elected in Abraham; that thou standest complete in his righteousness; and that thy salvation was finished when he had offered up Isaac. Be not deceived, "God will render to every man according to his deeds: [and not according to his notions] to them who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for immortality, he will render eternal life: anguish to every man that doeth evil; but glory to every man that worketh good for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified-in the day when he shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my Gospel," Rom. ii, 1–16.
Now, sir, is it not evident from "the connection" to which you appeal, that Mr. Henry did not pervert the text, when he had the cour