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HAVING animadverted on Mr. Hill's Finishing Stroke, I proceed to ward off the first blow which the Rev. Mr. Berridge has given to practical religion. But before I mention his mistakes, I must do justice to his person. It is by no means my design to represent him as a divine who either leads a loose life, or intends to hurt the Redeemer's interest. His conduct as a Christian is exemplary; his labours as a minister are great; and I am persuaded that the wrong touches which he gives to the ark of godliness are not only undesigned, but intended to do God service.
There are so many things commendable in the pious vicar of Everton, and so much truth in his Christian World Unmasked, that I find it a hardship to expose the unguarded parts of that performance. But the cause of this hardship is the ground of my apology. Mr. Berridge is a good, an excellent man, therefore the Antinomian errors, which go abroad into the world with his letters of recommendation, which speak in his evangelical strain, and are armed with the poignancy of his wit, cannot be too soon pointed out, and too carefully guarded against. I flatter myself that this consideration will procure me his pardon for taking the liberty of despatching his valiant "sergeant," with some doses of rational and Scriptural antidotes for those who have drunk into the pleasing mistakes of his book, and want his piety to hinder them from carrying speculative into practical Antinomianism
ONE of my opponents has justly observed, that "the principal cause of controversy among us" is the doctrine of our justification by the works of faith in the day of judgment. At this rampart of practical godliness Mr. Berridge levels such propositions as these, in his Chrislian World Unmasked: (second edition, pp. 170, 171 :) " Final justification by faith is the capital doctrine of the Gospel. Faith being the term of salvation, &c, must utterly exclude all justification by works." And, (p. 26,) we read of “an absolute impossibility of being justified in any manner by our works."
If these positions are true, say, reader, if St. James, St. Paul, and Jesus Christ, did not advance great untruths when they said: works a man is justified, and not by faith only," James ii, 24. By not the hearers of the law [of Christ] are just before God, but the "For doers shall be justified, &c, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ," Rom. ii, 13, 16. Lord, when speaking of the day of judgment) by thy words thou shalt "For (adds our be justified," &c, Matt. xii, 37. Christ and his apostles, or the late fellow of Clare Hall? Christian reader, say, who is mistaken,
Mr. Berridge goes farther still. Without ceremony he shuts the gate of heaven against every man who seeks to be justified by works, according to our Lord's and St. James' doctrine. For when he has assured us, (p. 171,) that faith must utterly exclude all justification by works, he immediately adds, " And the man who seeks to be justified by his passport of obedience, will find no passage through the city gates." Might not our author have unmasked Calvinism a little more, and told the Christian world that the man who minds what Christ says shall be turned into hell.
See the boldness of Solifidianism !* In our Lord's days believers were to keep their mouths as with a bridle, and to abstain from every idle word, lest in the day of judgment they should not be justified. In St. John's time they were to do Christ's commandments, that they might enter through the gates into the city, Rev. xxii, 14. But in our days, a Gospel minister assures us, (p. 171,) that the believer, who, according to our Lord's doctrine, seeks to be "justified by his passport of obedience, will find no passage through the city gates. He may talk of the tree of life, and soar up with his paper kile to the gates of paradise, but will find no entrance." I grant it, if an Antinomian pope has St. Peter's key; but so long as Christ has the key of David, so long as he opens, and no Solifidian shuts, the dutiful servant, instead of being sent flying to hell after the "paper kite" of obedience, will, through his Lord's merits, be honourably admitted into heaven by the passport of good works which he has about him. For though the remembrance of his sins, and the sight of his Saviour, will make him ashamed to produce it; yet he had rather die ten thousand deaths than be found without it. The celestial Porter, after having kindly opened it for him, will read it before an innumerable company of angels, and say, "Enter into the joy of thy Lord, for I was hungry and thou gavest me meat," &c, Matt. xxv, 35, &c.
If the vicar of Everton throws in an Antimomian caveat against this "passport of obedience,"† and ridicules it still as a paper kite," Isaiah and St. Paul will soon silence him. "Open ye the gates," says the evangelical prophet, "that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth [of the Gospel doctrines] may enter in :" for, adds the evangelical apostle, "Circumcision [including all professions of faith] is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. Yea, though I have all faith and no charity, I am nothing," Isa. xxvi, 2; 1 Cor. vii, 19; xiii, 2.
If I am at the city gates when Mr. Berridge will exclaim against the passport of obedience," I think I shall venture to check his imprudence by the following questions :-Can there be a medium between not having a passport of obedience, and having one of disobedience? Must a man, to the honour of free grace, take a passport of refractori
*Solifidianism is the doctrine of the Solifidians; and the Solifidians are men who, because sinners are justified (sola fide) by "sole faith" in the day of con version, infer, as Mr. Berridge, that "believing is the total term of all salvation," and conclude, as Mr. Hill, that the doctrine of final justification by the works of faith in the great day is "full of rottenness and deadly poison." It is a softer word for Antinomianism.
I speak only of the obedience of faith. It is only for that obedience, and for the works of faith, that St. James pleads in his epistle, Mr. Wesley in the Minutes, and I in the Checks. All other obedience is insincere; all other works Pharisaical.
ness along with him? Must he bring a certificate of adultery and murder to be welcome into the New Jerusalem? I am persuaded that, with the utmost abhorrence, Mr. Berridge answers, "No!" But his great Diana speaks louder than he, and says, before all the world: "There is no need that he should have a testimonium of adultery and murder, but he may if he pleases. Nay, if he is so inclined, he may get a diploma of treachery and incest; it will never invalidate his title to glory; for, if David and the incestuous Corinthian had saving faith, inamissible, eternal life, and finished salvation, when they committed their crimes; and if faith or believing (as Mr. Berridge affirms, p. 168,) be the total term of all salvation," why might not every Christian, if he is so minded, murder his neighbour, worship idols, and gratify even incestuous lusts, as well as primitive backsliders, without risking his finished salvation! Upon this Antinomian axiom, advanced by Mr. Berridge, "believing is the total term of all salvation," I lay my engine, a grain of reason, and ask every unprejudiced person who is able to conclude that two and two make four, whether we may not, without any magical power, heave morality out of the world, or Calvinism out of the Church?
If Mr. Berridge pleads, that, when he says, (p. 168,) "Believing is the total term of all salvation," he means a faith "including and producing all obedience," I reply, Then he gives up Solifidianism; he means the very faith which I contend for in the Checks; and pressing him with his own definition of faith, I ask, How can a "faith including all obedience," include murder, as in the case of David; idolatry, as in the case of Solomon; lying, cursing, and denying Christ, as in the case of Peter; and even incest, as in the case of the apostate Corinthian? Are murder, idolatry, cursing, and incest, "all obedience ?" If Mr. Berridge replies, "No:" then David, Solomon, &c, lost the justifying faith of St. Paul when they lost the justifying works of St. James; and so Mr. Berridge gives up the point together with Calvinism. If he says, " Yes:" he not only gives up St. James' justification, but quite unmasks Antinomianism: and the rational world, who come and peep," may see that his doctrine of grace is not a chaste virgin, but a great Diana, who pays as little regard to decency as she does to Scripture.
If this is a sophism, I humbly entreat the learned fellow of Clare Hall to convince the world of it, by showing where the fallacy lies. He can do it, if it can be done, "having consumed a deal of candle at a noted hall at Cambridge in lighting up a good understanding," even after he was declared master of the art of logic. But if the dilemma is forcible, and grinds Calvinism as between an upper and nether mill stone, I hope that he will no longer oppose the dictates of reason, merely to pour contempt upon our Lord's doctrine of a believer's jusification by the works of faith; and to sport himself with obedience, rendered as ridiculous as Samson was when the Philistines treated nim as a blind mill horse.
We have already seen how Mr. Berridge gives "the passport of obedience" to the winds, as a boyish trumpery. To render the "paper kite" more contemptible, (p. 145,) he ties to it, instead of a tail, " spruce new set of duties half a yard long, called legally evangelical and evangelically legal, unknown to Christ and his apostles, but discovered lately by some ingenious gentlemen." Just as if I, who have ventured upon those expressions, to indicate the harmony that subsists between the promises of the Gospel and the duties of the law of liberty, and Mr. Wesley, who has let those compounded words pass in the Second Check, were the first men who have taught that believers "are not without law to God, but under a law to Christ," 1 Cor. ix, 21. Just as if nobody had said before us, "Do we make void the law through faith," or through the Gospel? "God forbid! Yea, we establish the law," Rom. iii, 31: that is, by preaching "a faith that worketh by love," we establish the moral law; for "love is the fulfilling of it, and he that loveth another has fulfilled the law," Rom. xiii, 8, 10. Not indeed the ceremonial law of Moses, for ceremonies and love are not the same thing; nor yet the Adamic law of innocence, for if the apostle had spoken of that law, he would have said, "He that has always loved another with perfect love has fulfilled the law." Therefore he evidently speaks of the evangelical law preached thus by St. James to believers: "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty," James ii, 12. A law which is so called, not because it gives us the least liberty to sin; but because, during the day of salvation, it indulges us with the precious liberty to repent of our former sins, and come to Christ for pardon, and for stronger supplies of sanctifying grace.
However, Mr. Berridge, as if the Antinomians had already burned St. James' Epistle, says, (p. 144,) after speaking of the law of innocence given to Adam before the fall, "All other laws [and consequently the law of liberty] are cobwebs of a human brain." What, sir, do you think that Moses was a spiritual spider, when he wove the ceremonial law? Can you possibly imagine that David's "blessed man, whose delight is in the law of the Lord, meditates day and night in a law" which bids him "stand upon his own legs," and absolutely despair of mercy upon "a single trip?" Would you, on second thoughts, say that St. Paul and St. James weave "cobwebs" in the brains of mankind, when they declare that "the end of the commandment [or of Christ's law] is charity, from a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned;" when they speak of fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself:" or when they assure us, "that he who loveth another hath fulfilled it;" and exhort us to "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ?" See 1 Tim. i, 5; James ii, 8; Gal. v, 13, and vi, 2.
I shall not borrow here the rash expression which Mr. Berridge uses when he confounds original worthiness and derived merit, and reflects upon Christ, who evidently attributes the latter to believers :