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MADELEY, March 10, 1774.
YESTERDAY a friend lent me Mr. Baxter's Confession of Faith, printed in London, 1655. The third part of this valuable book extends through above one hundred and forty large pages, and the title of that long section runs thus :-"The Testimony of Reformed Divines, ascribing as much to Works as I; and many of them delivering the same Doctrine." are collective bodies, such as the assembly of divines, the compilers He produces a hundred witnesses, some of whom of the homilies of the Church of England, and even the synod of Dort. As the Antinomian spirit which flamed against Baxter's Works in the last century will probably sparkle against the preceding Essay, I beg leave to take shelter behind that great man, and a few of his numerous quotations. I shall cite only Baxter's page, to which I refer those who desire to see the original of his Latin quotations, together with the books, chapters, and pages of the various authors.
Page 322, he quotes the following words from Bishop Davenant :"As no man receiveth that general justification which dischargeth from the guilt of all foregoing sins, but on the concurrence of repentance, faith, a purpose of a new life, and other actions of the same kind; so no man retaineth a state free from guilt in respect of following sins, but by means of the same actions of believing in God, calling on God, mortifying the flesh, daily repenting and sorrowing for sins daily committed. The reason why all these are required on our part is this; because these cannot be still absent, but their opposites will be present, which are contrary to the nature of a justified man. the conservation of natural life it is necessarily required that a man carefully avoid fire, water, precipices, poisons, and other things deAs therefore to structive to the health of the body; so to the conserving of spiritual life, it is necessarily required that a man avoid incredulity, impenitency, and other things that are destructive and contrary to the salvation of souls; which cannot be avoided, unless the opposite and contrary actions be exercised. And these actions do not conserve the life of grace properly and of themselves, by touching the very effect of conservation; but improperly and by accident, by excluding and removing the cause of destruction."
Page 324, Baxter produces these words of the same pious bishop:"We do therefore fight against, not the bare name of merit, in a harmless sense frequently used of old by the fathers, but the proud and false opinion of merit of condignity, brought lately by the Papists into the Church of God."
And again, (page 325,) "The works of the regenerate have an ordination to the rewards of this life and that to come: (1.) Because God hath freely promised (according to the good pleasure of his will) the rewards of this life and that to come, to the good works of the faithful and regenerate," 1 Tim. iv, 8; Gal. vi, 8; Matt. xx, 8.
Page 328, he quotes the following passage from Dr. Twiss :-"It lieth on all the elect to seek salvation, not only by faith, but by works also, in that without doubt salvation is to be given by way of reward, whereby God will reward not only our faith, but also all our good works."
Pages 330 and 334, he quotes Melancthon thus :-" New obedience is necessary by necessity of order of the cause and effect; also by necessity of duty or command; also by necessity of retaining faith, and avoiding punishments, temporal and eternal. Cordatus stirreth up against me the city, and also the neighbour countries, and also the court itself, because, in explaining the controversy of justification, I said that new obedience is necessary to salvation."
Pages 360, 361, he quotes these words of Zanchius :-" Works are necessary, (1.) To justify our faith [coram Deo] before God, &c. (2.) They are necessary to the obtaining eternal life, &c. (3.) They are necessary to inherit justification as causes, &c. (4.) They are profitable to conserve the increase of faith; also to pro-merit of God, and obtain many good things, both spiritual and corporal, both in this life and in another." The words of Żanchius are, “ Opera utilia sunt, Sc, ad multa bona tum spiritualia tum corporalia, tum in hac vita tum in alia a Deo promerenda et obtinenda." (Zanch. Tom. 8, p. 787, loc. de Just. Fidei.) How much more tenderly did Mr. Wesley speak of merit than the orthodox Zanchius, whom Mr. Toplady has lately rendered famous among us! I hope that if this gentleman ever open his favourite book to the above-quoted page, he will drop his prejudices, and confess that his dear Zanchius himself nobly contends for the Wesleyan "heresy."
Page 462, Baxter concludes his book by praying for those who had misrepresented him to the world, and obliged him to spend so much time in vindicating his doctrine. I most heartily join him in the last paragraph of his prayer, in which I beg the reader would join us both: "The Lord illuminate and send forth some messenger that may acquaint the Churches with that true, middle, reconciling method of theological verities which must be the mean of healing our divisions. Let men be raised of greater sufficiency for this work, and of such blessed accomplishments as shall be fit to cope with the power of prejudice; and let the fury of blind contradiction be so calmed that TRUTH may have opportunity to do its work."
AN ESSAY ON TRUTH;
A RATIONAL VINDICATION
DOCTRINE OF SALVATION BY FAITH :
A DEDICATORY EPISTLE
RIGHT HON. THE COUNTESS OF HUNTINGDON.
Without faith it is impossible to please God, Heb. xi, 6.
Whatsoever is not of faith is sin, Rom. xiv, 23.
Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone, James ii, 17.
Good works spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith. (Twelfth Article.) In Christ Jesus, &c, nothing availeth but faith, which worketh by love, Gal. v, 6.
A DEDICATORY EPISTLE
RIGHT HON. THE COUNTESS OF HUNTINGDON.
MY LADY,-Because I think it my duty to defend the works of faith against the triumphant errors of the Solifidians, some of your ladyship's friends conclude that I am an enemy to the doctrine of salvation by faith, and their conclusion amounts to such exclamations as these: "How could a lady, so zealous for God's glory and the Redeemer's grace, commit the superintendency of a seminary of pious learning to a man that opposes the fundamental doctrine of Protestantism! How could she put her sheep under the care of such a wolf in sheep's clothing!" This conclusion, my lady, has grieved me for your sake; and to remove the blot that it indirectly fixes upon you, as well as to balance my Scriptural Essay on the Rewardableness of the Works of Faith, I publish, and humbly dedicate to your ladyship, this piece of my Equal Check to Pharisaism and Antinomianism. May the kindness which enabled you to bear for years with the coarseness of my ministrations, incline you favourably to receive this little token of my unfeigned attachment to Protestanism, and of my lasting respect for your ladyship!
Your aversion to all that looks like controversy can never make you think that an Equal Check to the two grand delusions, which have crept into the Church, is needless in our days. I flatter myself, therefore, that though you may blame my performance, you will approve of my design. And indeed what true Christian can be absolutely neuter in this controversy? If God has a controversy with all Pharisees and Antinomians, have not all God's children a controversy with Pharisaism and Antinomianism? Have you not for one, my lady? Do you not check in private, what I attempt to check in public? Does not the religious world know that you abhor, attack, and pursue Pharisaism in its most artful disguises? And have I not frequently heard you express, in the strongest terms, your detestation of Antinomianism, and lament the number of sleeping professors whom that Delilah robs of their strength? Nor would you, I am persuaded, my lady, have countenanced the opposition which was made against the Minutes, if your commendable, though (as it appears to me) at that time too precipitate zeal against Pharisaism had not prevented your seeing that they contain the Scripture truths which are most fit to stop the rapid progress of Antinomianism.
However, if you still think, my lady, that I mistake with respect to the importance of those propositions; you know I am not mistaken when I declare before the world that a powerful, practical, actually saving faith is the only faith I ever heard your ladyship recommend as worthy to be contended for. And so long as you plead only for such