« PoprzedniaDalej »
dispense with them, but do the most horrid works. Yea, "the wheel of" adultery, treachery, and murder, may "run round and round again," for ten months, without interrupting the finished salvation of the elect; any more than praying, weeping, and reforming for ten years will prevent the finished damnation of the reprobates.
But, lest you should say I "blind the eyes of the readers with deceitful dust," I meet you on the solid ground where St. James stood, when he opposed the primitive Antinomians; and, taking that holy apostle's Gospel trump, I sound an alarm in Laodicea, and cry out to the drowsy world of Nicolaitan professors, whether they hear the word at the Lock chapel, or at the Foundery, "Awake, ye that sleep, and arise from the dead. Show your faith by your works. Know ye not, O vain men, that faith without works is dead," that it is a putrefying, ill-smelling corpse? Help, ye men of God, help us to bury it out of the way of good works. Let frighted morality dig a grave; let indignant piety cast the horrid nuisance into it. And, while we commit it to hell, whence it came, while the devils who believe feed upon the noisome carcass, let Bishop Cowper himself, attended by the author of Pietas Oxoniensis, say over the grave, "Justifying faith, whereby we are saved, cannot be without good works. Dead and damnable is the And let all the faith which is consistent with adultery and murder." Church say, Amen," and contend for "the faith of God's elect," the faith maintained by St. Paul and St. James, the faith recommended in Mr. Wesley's Minutes, the living faith that works by obedient love.
VII. Page 10. In defence of your cause you produce those words of our Lord to the proud Pharisees, " Publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of heaven before you." Surely, sir, you would not insinuate that God takes extortioners and strumpets into heaven as such, and that adultery and whoredom are a ready way to glory! I know you start from the horrid insinuation: and, nevertheless, I fear this doctrine naturally flows from the manner in which the passage is quoted. I always thought those words of our Lord meant, that publicans and harlots could sooner be reclaimed from their execrable courses of life than self-hardened Pharisees from their diabolical pride; and that while Christ would admit a penitent Magdalene into heaven, he would thrust an impenitent Pharisee into hell. But what is this to the purpose? Does this make the case of David or any other sinner better while they remain in a state of impenitency?
VIII. Page 9. You have answered this question: Uriah's bed," you say, "in a sense was not impenitent. The grace of repentance, &c, did lie like a spark covered with ashes." To this I reply:
1. If by a spark or seed of repentance, you understand a ray of that quickening "light, which enlightens every man who comes into the world," and endues him with a gracious capacity of repenting during the day of salvation, we are agreed; supposing you grant us, that while Clodius defiled his neighbour's bed in Rome, he was such a penitent as David when he committed the same crime in Jerusalem.
2. We deny, that a capacity of repentance is in a sense repentance, any more than a capacity of obeying is in a sense obedience. cording to your idea of that sort of repentance, which David had when
he committed murder, the most abandoned profligates, who have not yet filled up the measure of their iniquities, are all in a sort penitent; and Adam when he ate the forbidden fruit was in a sort obedient.
3. Your assertion is unscriptural. You cannot produce one passage to prove that a murderer, or an adulterer, in flagrante delicto, is a penitent in any sense. If David was a penitent, because repentance lay in his heart as a spark buried under ashes; I may say, in direct opposition to the words of our Lord, that "the wicked and slothful servant" was, in some sense, good and diligent, because his master's talent lay buried in his napkin.
4. You insinuate that the ashes which covered the spark of David's repentance were "his sin." The comparison is not very fortunate; for ashes frequently preserve the spark which they cover; but the commission of murder always tends to quench the Spirit. If you say, "that David repented" in some sort while he sinned, because he undoubtedly sinned with remorse of conscience, I reply, (1.) That he seems to have enjoyed his crimes at least with as much carnal security as Clodius could possibly do. (2.) If remorse is confounded with repentance, hell is filled with penitents; and most drunkards and murderers are in a sort penitent; for when they sin, they do it frequently with much reluctance.
5. This scheme of a sort of repentance, covered as a spark in the heart of those whose eyes are full of adultery, and hands full of blood, is attended with the most fatal consequences. It tends to breed negligence in the hearts of believers, and carnal security in the breasts of apostates; for how can the former be careful not to lose what is inamissible? And how can the latter endeavour to recover what they have not lost? Again: it supersedes the distinction there is between the righteous and the wicked, and opens the door to the most horrid confusion in the moral world. Has not a traitor as much right to plead the spark of loyalty, a drunkard the spark of sobriety, and a highwayman the spark of honesty, covered under the ashes of his sin, as you have to plead the spark of repentance, chastity, and brotherly love, that lay covered in the heart of David during his long apostasy?
6. But this is not all. If your doctrine is true, that of Christ and his apostles is evidently false. For St. Paul says to the Corinthians, "Examine yourselves whether you are in the faith." And he gives them this rule of examination, "Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor adulterers, &c, have any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ.” Now, if a man who commits adultery and murder may have a spark of grace and repentance, which actually constitutes him a pleasant child of God, how can he know by the apostle's rule whether he is in the faith or not? St. John says, with apostolic bluntness, "He that committeth sin is of the devil." Yes, in Rome, replies one who is versed in your divinity; but in Jerusalem, he that committeth adultery and murder may be in a sort penitent, consequently a man after God's own heart. Again: "By their fruits ye shall know them," says our Lord, when he speaks of wolves in sheep's clothing. Now, it is clear, that if your doctrine is true even when they commit adultery and murder, it cannot be known whether they are wolves, because the spark of chastity and charity that constituted David a pleasant child during
his dreadful fall may be concealed under their debaucheries and barbarities.
IX. (Page 13.) To enforce your doctrine of a two-fold, and, as it appears to me, Jesuitical will in God, you again produce God's forbidding murder to free agents: and to this prohibition you oppose the murder which the Jews committed as free agents, when "by wicked hands they crucified Christ, who was delivered to them by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." I hope, sir, you would not insinuate that God solemnly forbids murder by his revealed, and forcibly enjoins it by his secret will! To what I have already said on the point in the Third Check, (p. 186,) I now add, (1.) God never instigated the Jews to murder Christ. On the contrary, he frequently restrained them from the commission of their intended crime. "Ye seek to kill me," said Jesus to them many months before they actually did it. They even made open attempts to stone him, and cast him down a precipice, before the time foretold. (2.) When that time was come, God being about to give his Son a ransom for the many, "by his determinate counsel," that one should die for all; and seeing "by his foreknowledge," that the Jews, who thirsted for his blood, would put him to death, he no longer hindered them from taking him. Thus Jesus went to meet their malicious band in the garden of Gethsemane, and said, "I am he whom ye seek." (3.) This only shows that Divine Providence sometimes suffers moral agents to commit outwardly the sins which they have already committed in their own breasts; and he suffers it that they may come to condign punishment, or that other wicked men may be punished. Sometimes also that good men may be tried, hypocrites detected, and the godly made perfect by sufferings, like their Lord.
X. (Page 13.) In support of the same mistake you add, "You believe it to be God's revealed will that every man should love his brother as himself; yet it was certainly according to the secret will of God, that Joseph's brethren should sell [why do you not say, should hate] him, and that he should go into Egypt; otherwise Joseph must have told a gross untruth, when he said, God did send me to preserve life :—it was not you that sent me hither, but God.'"
To vindicate what I beg leave to call God's honesty, permit me to observe, (1.) That I had rather believe Joseph told once a gross untruth, than suppose that God perpetually equivocates. (2.) You must not raise a doctrine upon two sentences which Joseph spake as a fond brother, rather than as a judicious divine. When he saw his brethren confounded, and when, in a cordial embrace, he mixed his tears of joy with their tears of shame and repentance, how natural was it for him to draw a veil over their crime, and to comfort them, by observing with what providential wisdom God had overruled a circumstance which attended their sin? (3.) All that you can therefore infer from Joseph's case is, that God would have his brothers love him as free agents; and that when, as free agents, they chose to hate and murder him, the Lord, to save his life and bring about his deep designs, excited some compassion in their breasts: hence they thought it less cruel, while the providential appearance of the Ishmaelites made it appear more profitable, to sell him as a slave, than to starve him to death in a pit. Thus God,
contrary to their intention, but not contrary to his own law, sent him ? Was into Egypt to preserve life. But what is this to the purpose it God's secret, effectual will, that Joseph's brothers snod hate him, while his revealed will commanded them to love him under pain of eternal damnation? Before you can establish this doctrine, you must prove that man is a mere machine, and God a mere Moloch.
XI. But to excuse yourself, you ask, (p. 12,) " By speaking of the secret and revealed will of God, do I suppose that God has two contrary wills?" Undoubtedly you do, honoured sir, if you are consistent. God's revealed will, for example, is, that "all the families of the earth should be blessed in Christ" with "the grace that bringeth salvation to all men;" but by his secret will, if we may believe Calvin, most families of the earth are absolutely cursed: a decree of preterition etemally excludes them from an interest in Christ, and from the least degree of saving grace.
Again: it is God's revealed will, that "all men every where should repent," under penalty of destruction: but upon your plan of doctrine, it is his secret, effectual will, that most men, even all the reprobates, shall never repent. And, indeed, how should they, if he hardens them either from their mother's womb, or from the loins of their first parent? Once more it is God's revealed will, that all men should believe the Gospel, and be saved as free agents, if they submit to his gracious and easy terms: but, according to your scheme, it is his secret, indefectible will, either that there shall be no Gospel, or only a lying gospel for most men; and that there shall be no conditions or terms in the Gospel. Hence we are openly told, that God does not treat with the sons of men in a way of condition; his language being absolute, like himself, ye believe "I WILL and you SHALL :" that is, "Ye elect, I will that and be saved, and you shall believe and be saved: and ye reprobates, I will that you sin and be damned, and you shall sin and be damned." If you do not hold those propositions, you are with reason ashamed of Calvinism; if you hold them, you certainly maintain that there are two contrary wills in God, whether you suppose that you do so or not.
XII. One more observation and I have done. In your Five Letters you have opposed this proposition," Believing is previous to justification," and said, "I deny that believing precedes justification" in the day of conversion. I have observed, in my reply, that this assertion sets aside justification by faith; because, if believing does not precede justification, there is no need of believing in order to be justified. "This is disingenuous: (say you, Remarks, p. 10:) where do I assert that justification precedes believing? I believe that true faith and justification are as inseparable as fire and heat."
Fire is not the To this I answer, (1.) Your comparison is not just. instrument by which heat is apprehended, but the fountain of heat itself: whereas faith justifies, not as being the very fountain of justification, but merely as an instrument that apprehends the truth of Him "who justifies the ungodly" that believes in Jesus. Here, then, you indirectly give to justifying faith the honour due to none but the heavenly Justifier.
(2.) We grant you, that as, in the very instant in which we open our eyes, we receive the light, and see: so in the very moment in which
we believe, we receive Christ the truth, and are justified. But still you must grant us, that believing is as much previous to justification, as hate opening the yes is previous to seeing. We are justified by faith, and der par common sense dictates, that the instrument by which a thing is appre, you hended, must exist before it can be apprehended.
Having thus endeavoured to follow you in your retreat, to cut you kingoff from your various subterfuges; and having exposed, with my usual bluntness, the hard shifts you have been obliged to make, in order to Consis keep your doctrine the least in countenance, permit me to assure you thee that I still remain, with brotherly love and respect, gentlemen, your obedient servant in the whole Gospel of Christ,
of ation Ost far
here of doc repre
To Mr. Richard and Mr. Rowland Hill.
HONOURED AND DEAR SIRS,-Having answered the arguments which each of you has advanced against the doctrine of justification by works in the great day, permit me to consider what may farther be advanced against it.
I. We cry to sinners, "By grace shall ye be saved through faith," in the day of your conversion; but to believers we say, By grace shall eye be saved, through works, in the day of judgment. Turn, therefore, ye sinners; and ye saints, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
"Saved by grace, through works, in the day of judgment! What a farrago of Popery and Gospel! Faith and works; what a shocking mixture! Geminantur tigribus agni. You have undoubtedly the full consent of Bellarmine and the scarlet whore for such a match. But with what detestation would St. Paul enter his protest against it! Does he not declare, that faith and works reciprocally exclude each other? Says he not, If by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace; but if it be of works, then it is no more grace, otherwise work is no more work. If Abraham was justified by works he hath whereof to glory; for to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace but of debt: but Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness: and David also describeth the blessedness of the man to whom God imputeth righteousness without works.' Hence the apostle concludes, By grace ye are saved, through faith: not of works, lest any man should boast.' And again: 'Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but of his mercy he saved us,' &c. Now, how does this doctrine of justification and salvation without works agree with your doctrine of justification or salvation by works in the last day; and how can you reconcile St. Paul with Bellarmine, Mr. Wesley, and yourself?"
ANSWER 1. Should you not rather ask, how we can reconcile St. Paul with Jesus Christ, St. James, and himself? Is not the second chapter to the Romans as strong for works as the Minutes, the Epistle