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By the same supreme authority it is likewise enacted that all the laws shall continue in force against foreigners, [i. e. reprobates,] whom the king and the prince hate with everlasting hatred, and to whom they have agreed never to show mercy: that, accordingly, they shall be prosecuted to the utmost rigour of every statute, till they are all hanged or burned out of the way: and that, supposing no personal offence can be proved against them, it shall be lawful to hang them in chains for the crime of one of their forefathers, to set forth the king's wonderful justice, display his glorious sovereignty, and make his chosen people relish the better their sweet distinguishing privileges as Englishmen.
"Moreover his majesty, who loves order and harmony, charges his loving subjects to consider still the statutes of England, which are in force against foreigners, as very good rules of life for the English, which they shall do well to follow, but better to break; because every breach of those rules will work for their good, and make them sing louder the faithfulness of the king, the goodness of the prince, and the sweetness of this Gospel proclamation.
Again as nothing is so displeasing to the king as legality, which he hates even more than extortion and whoredom, lest any of his dear people, who have acted the part of a strumpet, robber, murderer, or traitor, should, through the remains of their inbred corruption, and ridiculous legality, mourn too deeply for breaking some of their rules of life, our gracious monarch solemnly assures them, that though he highly disapproves of adultery and murder, yet these breaches of rules are not worse in his sight than a wandering thought in speaking to him, or a moment's dulness in his service: that robbers, therefore, and traitors, adulterers, and murderers, who are free-born Englishmen, need not at all be uneasy about losing his royal favour; this being utterly impossible, because they always stand complete in the honesty, loyalty, chastity, and charity of the prince.
"Moreover, because the king changes not, whatever lengths the English go on in immorality, he will always look upon them as his pleasant children, his dear people, and men after his own heart;' and that, on the other hand, whatsoever lengths foreigners go in pious morality, his gracious majesty is determined still to consider them as 'hypocrites, vessels of wrath,' and 'cursed children, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever;' because he always views them as completely guilty, and absolutely condemned in a certain robe of unrighteousness, woven thousands of years ago by one of their ancestors. This dreadful sanbenetto* his majesty hath thought fit to put upon them by imputation; and in it it is his good pleasure that they shall hang in adamantine chains, or burn in fire unquenchable.
"Finally, as foreigners are dangerous people, and may stir up his majesty's subjects to rebellion, the English are informed, that if any one of them, were he to come over from Geneva itself, shall dare to insinuate that his most gracious Gospel proclamation is not according to equity, morality, and godliness, the first Englishman that meets him shall have full leave to brand him as a Papist, without judge or jury, A frock, painted with flames and devils, in which heretics are burned by the
in the forehead or on the back, as he thinks best; and that, till he is farther proceeded with according to the utmost severity of the law, the chosen people shall be informed, in the Gospel Magazine, to beware of him, as a man who scatters firebrands, arrows, and deaths,' and makes universal havoc of every article of this sweet Gospel procla
"Given at Geneva, and signed by four of his majesty's principal secretaries of state for the predestinarian department.
"THE AUTHOR OF P. O.
What would wise men think of such a manifesto? Who does not see, his majesty might as well have informed us at once that all the laws of the land are now repealed; that instead of being laws, they shall be only moral finger posts, directing men in the narrow way of righteousness, or in the broad way of iniquity, if the one pleases them better than the other?
Suppose a courtier asserted, That we are still under the laws of the land as rules of life; would not thinking men answer, No: we are now absolutely lawless: for statutes, according to which no Englishman can be prosecuted, much less executed, are no laws at all for Englishmen ; they are only directions, which every one is at full liberty to follow or not, as he pleases. It is not less absurd to give the name of laws to rules, which are not enforced with the sanction of proper rewards or penalties, than to call Baxter's Directory a code of laws, because it contains excellent rules of life.
O ye abettors of Dr. Crisp's mistakes, how long will you regard vain words, and inadvertently pour contempt upon the King of kings? How long will you rashly charge us with robbing him of his glory, because we cannot join you, when, under the plausible pretence of advancing the honour of his priesthood, you explain away the most awful protestations which he made as a prophet, and rob him of the royal glory of punishing his rebellious, and rewarding his faithful subjects, according to law, as a righteous King?
Alas! even while you seem zealous for God's sovereignty, do you not unawares represent Jesus as the weakest of princes, or fiercest of tyrants? Do you not inadvertently, (for I know you would not do it deliberately for the world,) do you not, I say, inadvertently crown him with the sharpest thorns that ever grew in the territory of mystic Geneva? Instead of the "sceptre of his kingdom," which is "a right sceptre," do you not at one time put in his hand a reed, which the Antinomian elect may insult with more impunity than the frogs in the fable did the royal log sent by Jupiter to reign over them? And, at another time, while you give him Nimrod's iron sceptre, do you not put upon him Nero's purple robe; and even slip into his loving bosom a black book of horrible decrees, more full of the names of unborn reprobates than the Emperor Domitian's fatal pocket book was full of the names of the poor wretches to whom, in a gloomy day, he took an unaccountable dislike, and whom, on this account, as well as to maintain his dreadful sovereignty, he tyrannically appointed for the slaughter? Never, no never, shall you be able to do justice to the Scripture, and
our Lord's kingly office, till you allow that, agreeably to his evangelical law, he will one day "reward every man according to his works ;" and the moment you allow this, you give up what you unhappily call your foundation, that is, unconditional election and finished salvation: in a word, you allow justification by works in the great day, and are as heretical (should I not say as orthodox?) as ourselves. I am, honoured and dear sirs, yours, &c,
To Richard Hill, Esq.
HON. AND DEAR SIR,-Although I reserve for two separate tracts my answer to your objections against "the monstrous doctrine of perfection," and my reply to the argument which you draw from our seventeenth article, in favour the doctrine of unconditional election; the already exorbitant length of this Check calls for a speedy conclusion; and I hasten toward it, by laying before my readers the present state of our controversy, enlarging chieffy upon imputed righteousness and free will, two points which I have not yet particularly discussed in this piece.
Imputed righteousness, as it is held by the Calvinists, I have endeavoured to expose in the Second Check, by the most absurd, and yet (upon your plan) most reasonable plea of a bare-faced Antinomian, who expects to be justified in the great day by Christ's imputed righteousness without works. To this you have answered, (Review, p. 68, &c,) by exclaiming, "Shocking slander, slanderous banter," &c, and I might reply only by crying out, Logica Genevensis! But, as honest inquirers after the truth would not be benefited, for their sakes I shall in this letter show how far we agree, wherein we disagree, and what makes us dissent from you, about the doctrine of imputed righteousness.
We agree that all the righteousness which is in the spiritual world is as much Christ's righteousness, as all the light that shines in the natural world at noon is the light of the sun. And we equally assert that, when God justifies a sinner who believes in Christ, he freely pardons his past sins, graciously accounts him righteous, and, as such, admits him to his favour, only through faith in the Redeemer's meritorious blood and personal righteousness.
To see clearly wherein we disagree, let us consider both your doctrine and ours; touching, as we go along, upon the capital arguments by which they are supported.
Consistent Calvinists believe, that if a man is elected, God absolutely imputes to him Christ's personal righteousness, that is, the perfect obedience unto death which Christ performed upon earth. This is reckoned to him for obedience and righteousness, even while he is actually disobedient, and before he has a grain of inherent righteousness. They consider this imputation as an unconditional and eternal act of grace, by which, not only a sinner's past sins, but his crimes present and to come, be they more or be they less, be they small or be they great, are for ever and for ever covered. He is eternally "justi
fied from all things." And therefore, under this imputation, he is perfectly righteous before God, even while he commits adultery and murder. Or, to use your own expressions, whatever lengths he runs, whatever depths he falls into, "he always stands absolved, always complete in the everlasting righteousness of the Redeemer." (Five Letters, pp. 26, 27, 29.) In point of justification, therefore, it matters not how unrighteous a believer actually is in himself; because the robe of Christ's personal righteousness, which, at his peril, he must not attempt to patch up with any personal righteousness of his own, is more than sufficient to adorn him from head to foot; and he must be sure to appear before God in no other. In this rich garment of finished salvation, the greatest apostates shine brighter than angels, though they are "in themselves black" as the old murderer, and filthy as the brute that actually wallows in the mire. This "best robe," as it is called, is full trimmed with such phylacteries as these, "Once in grace, always in grace: once justified, eternally justified: once washed, always fair, undefiled, and without spot." And so great are the privileges of those who have it on, that they can range through all the bogs of sin, wade through all the puddles of iniquity, and roll themselves in the thickest mire of wickedness without contracting the least spot of guilt, or speck of defilement.
This scheme of imputation is supported, 1. By Scriptural metaphors, understood in a forced, unscriptural sense. Thus when a sound Calvinist reads about "the breastplate of righteousness," and "the garment of salvation;" or about "putting on Christ, walking in him, being in him, being found in him, or being clothed with righteousness," his prepossessed mind directly runs upon his imputation. And if he reads in the Psalms, "I will make mention of thy righteousness, and thine only," he immediately concludes that the psalmist meant the personal righteousness of the man Christ: as if David really made mention of no other righteousness but that in all the Psalms! or God had had no righteousness, before the Virgin Mary "brought forth her first-born Son!"
2. By the parable of the man who "was bound hand and foot, and cast into outer darkness, because he had not on a wedding garment;" that is, upon your scheme, because Christ's personal righteousness was not imputed to him: as if the Prince of Peace, the mild Jesus, who says, "Learn of me, for I am meek," had kindly invited a man to the feast, and then commanded him to be thrust into hell, merely because he had not on a garment which he never could procure; a robe which none but God could clothe him with; and which God determined should never be for him, when he decreed that Christ should never work out an inch of righteousness for one single reprobate. Does not this exceed Ovid's description of the iron age? Non hospes ab hospite tutus. The bare mention of such a dreadful reflection cast upon God's goodness, and our Lord's hospitality, will amount to a strong argument against your imputation, with those who are yet concerned for God's adorable perfections, and our Lord's amiable character.
3. By the parable of the prodigal son, who, it is supposed, was clothed with the "best robe" of Christ's personal righteousness. But this notion is overturned by the context itself: for the father had met, forgiven, and embraced his returning son in his own ragged garment,
before the "best robe" was called for, and put upon him. Whence it would follow, that a sinner may be forgiven without the garment of righteousness; and as completely accepted out of Christ, as the prodigal was without the "best robe."
4. By the goodly raiment of Esau, in which Jacob got his father's blessing. But Moses' account of the cheat put upon the short-sighted Isaac, entirely overthrows the scheme of the Calvinists. The robe which they recommend is made of Christ's complete and personal righteousness; it is long and wide enough perfectly to cover even a giant in sin; nor must it be patched with any thing else. But Jacob's dress, far from being all of a-piece, was a mongrel sort of human and beastly garment. For, when Rebekah had clothed his body with Esau's raiment, "she put goat skins upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck," to make them feel like Esau's hairy hands and shaggy neck. And the worst is, that the goat skins, and not Esau's borrowed dress, deceived the aged patriarch, and got the blessing. Hear the historian. "Jacob went near to his father, and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau; and he discerned him not because his hands were hairy; so he blessed him," Gen. xxxvii, 22. Thus the skin of a goat, the emblem of a reprobate, unfortunately comes in to patch up your best robe. And I doubt not but, as the typical garment was too scanty to cover Jacob's hands and neck; so the fancied antitype will prove too short to cover the hands of those, who, like "Onesimus, rob their masters ;" and the neck and heels of those, who, like David, are "swift to shed blood," and climb up into their neighbours' bed; if they do not get a more substantial righteousness than that in which you suppose they stand complete, while they commit their enormous crimes.
5. Plain Scripture is also brought to support this imputation. David says, "Blessed is he whose sin is covered: blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity," Psalm xxxii, 1, 2. But, alas for your scheme! it is thrown down by the very next words, " And in whose spirit there is no guile." Thus, although you would make us believe the contrary, David's own doctrine shows that he was not the "blessed man whose sins are covered by non-imputation of iniquity," when his spirit was full of guile, adultery, and murder. And, indeed, he tells us so himself in this very Psalm: "When I kept silence," says he, when I harboured guile and impenitency, "day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: but when I acknowledged my sin unto thee," when I parted with my guile, " thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin."
6. However, if David's words are flatly against your imputation, it is supposed, that as prefaced by St. Paul, they make greatly for it: "David describeth the blessedness of the man to whom God imputeth righteousness without works," Rom. iv, 6. I have already observed, that as the apostle cannot contradict David and himself, he only means without the works of the law, as opposed to faith and to the work of faith. That this is the true meaning of St. Paul's words, is evident by those which introduce them: "To him that worketh not, but believeth, his faith is counted for righteousness." Who does not see here, that believing, which is the good work that begets all others, is opposed to the faithless works, about which the Pharisees made so much ado to VOL. I. 20