Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

and school of Simon; "the Gnostics, in the very dawning of gospel light; and he that reads the Preface of learned Mr. Gataker's book, will find that some Antipomians of our days are not much behind the vilest of them. One of them cries out, “ Away with the law ! It cuts off a man's legs, and then bids him walk.' Another says, “That if a man, by the Spirit, know ' himself to be in a state of grace, though he commit 'murder,s God sees no sin in him.'

“ But otherst there are, whose judgments are 1101happily tainted with those loose doctrines; yet being, in the main GODLY PERSONS, they dare not take the liberty to siv, or live in the neglect of known duties, though their principles too much incline that way. But though they dare not, others will, who imbibe corrupt notions from them; and the renowned piety of the authors will be no antidote against the danger; but make the poison operate the more powerfully, by receiving it in such a vehicle. Now it is highly probable, these men were charmed into these opinions upon such accounts as these :

“ I. Some of them might have felt in themselves the anguish of a perplexed conscience under sin, and not being able to live under the terrors of the law, might too hastily snatch at such doctrines which promise them relief and ease. -(2.) Others have been induced to espouse these opinions, from the excess of their zeal against the errors of the Papists.—(3.) Others have been sucked into those quicksands of Antinomian errors, by fathering their own fancies upon the Holy Spirit.—(4.) And it is not unlike, but a comparative weakness of mind, meeting with a fervent zeal for Christ, may iudưce others to espouse such taking and plausible, though pernicious doctrines.

“Let all good men beware of such opinions and expressions, as give a handle to wicked me to abuse

$ This is, I fear, the very doctrine of your Fourth Letter, where 20 impenitent murderer is represented as complete in Christ, &c. Here my worthy opponent is exactly described by Flavel.

the grace of God, which haply the author himself dares not do, and inay strongly hope others may not do : But if the principle will yield it, it is in vain to think corrupt nature will not catch at it, and make a vile use, and dangerous improvement of it!

“ For example: If such a principle as this be asserted before the world, ' That men need not fear, that any, or all the sins they commit, shall do them any hurt :'* let the author warn and caution his readers, (as the Antinomiant author of that expression has done,] not to abuse this doctrine ; it is to no purpose, the doctrine itself is full of dangerous consequences, aud wicked men have the best skill to draw them forth to cherish their lusts. That which the author might design for the relief of the distressed, quickly turns into poison in the bowels of the wicked. Nor can we excuse it, by saying, any gospel truth may be thus abused : for this is none of that number, hut a principle that gives offence to the godly, and encouragement to the ungodly. And so much as to the rise and occasion of Antinomian errors.

“ II. Let us view next, some of the chief errors of Antinomians. (1.) Some make justification to be an eternal act of God, and affirm, that the elect were justified before the world had a being :-Others, that they were justified at the time of Christ's death : With these, Dr. Crisp's harmonises.—(2.) That justification by faith is no more than a manifestation to us, of what was done before we had a being.–(3.) That men ought not to question whether they believe or no. SALTMARSH On Free Grace, p. 92, 95.-(4.) That believers are not bound to mourn for sin, because it was pardoned before it was committed ; and pardoned sin is no sin. EATON'S Honeycomb of Justification, p. 446. imself dares jot do: But

* My worthy opponent has publicly advanced, not only that sin, even adultery and murder, does not hurt the pleasant children, but that it even works for their good.

| Dr. Crisp, who was publicly called an Antinomian by the Puritans, and his tenets, loose, corrupt, and pernicious doctrine ; Antinomian dotages, fc.

think cora vile use,

this be as.

fear, that

theni aliy aders, (as

s done.] "se, the

8, aud

Ith to

de

Ento

[ocr errors]

-(5.) That God sees no sin in believers, whatsoever sins they commit.—(6.) That God is not angry with the elect, and that to say he smites them for their sins, is an injurious reflection upon his justice. This is avouched generally in all their writings.—(7.) That by God's laying our iniquities upon Christ, he became as completely sinful as we, and we as completely righteous as Christ. Dr. Crisp, p. 270.-(8.) That no sin can do believers any hurt, nor must they do any duty for their own salvation.—(9.) That the new covenant is not made properly with us, but with Christ for us ; and that this covenant is all of it a promise, having no condition on our part. They do not absolutely deny, that faith, repentance, and obedience are conditions in the new covenant; but say, they are no conditions on oor side, but Christ's, and that he repented, believed, and

obeyed for us. SALTMARSH On Free Grace, p. 126.1:

(10.) They speak very slightingly of trying ourselves by warks and signs of grace ; Saltmarsh calls it 'a low, carnal way :' But the New-England Antinomians call it a fundamental error, to make sanctification an evidence of justification : They say, that the darker our sanctification is, the brighter is our justification.

I look upon such doctrines to be of a very dangerous nature; and their malignity and contagion would certainly spread much farther than it does, had not God provided two powerful antidotes :

1. The scope and current of the scriptures. They speak of the elect as children of wrath' during their unregenerate state. They frequently discover God's anger, and tell us, his castigatory rods are laid upon them for their sius. They represent sin as the greatest evil ; most opposite to the glory of God and good of his saints. They call the saints to mourn for their sins, tc. They put the people of God to the trial of their nterest in Christ, by signs and marks from the divers ranches of sanctification. They infer duties from ivileges ; and therefore the Antinomian dialect is a ld note, which the generality of serious Christians

easily distinguish from the scripture language. -- 2. The experience and practice of the saints greatly secure us from the spreading malignity of Antinomianism. They acknowledge, that before their con. version they were equal in sin and misery with the vilest wretches in the world. They fear nothing more than sin. They are not only sensible that God sees sin in them, but they admire his patience, that they are not consumed for it. They urge his commands and threatenings, as well as promises, upon their own hearts to promote sanctification. They excite themselves to duty and watchfulness against sin. They encourage themselves by the rewards of obedience, knowing their labour is not in vain in the Lord,' And he that shall tell them, their sins can do them no hurt, or their duties no good, speaks to them not only as a barbarian, but in such a language as their souls abhor. The zeal and love of Christ being kindled in their souls, they have no patience to hear such doctrines as so greatly derogate from his glory, under a pretence of honouring and exalting him. It wounds and grieves their very hearts to see the world hardened in their prejudices against reformation, and a gap-opened to all licentiousness. But notwithstanding this double anti. dote, we find, by daily experience, such doctrines too much obtaining in the professing world, Tantum religio suadere malorum.

“For any own part, He that searcheth my heart is witness, I would rather choose to have my right hand wither, and my tongue rot within my mouth, than to speak one word, or write one line, to cloud the free grace of God. Let it arise and shine in its meridian glory. None owes more to it, or expects more from it thau 1 do; and what I write in this controversy is to vindicate it from those opinions, which, under pretence of exalting it, do really militate against it."

Then follows a prolix refutation of the above-mentioned Antinomian errors, most of which necessarily flow from your Second and Fourth Letters. When our pious author attacks them as a disciple of St. James, he carries all before him : But when he encounters them as an admirer of Calvin, his hands hang down, Amalek prevails, and a shrewd logician

ignity of Anti

fore their cop

sery with the

fothing more God sees sin hat they are mands and their own te them They en

know und be hurl, as a

201.

could, without any magical power, force him to confess, that most of the errors which he so justly opposes, are the natural consequences of unconditional election, particular redemption, irresistible grace, Calvinian imputation of righteousness to impenitent murderers, the infallible perseverance of believers, who defile their fathers' beds, and in a word, Salvation finished for all the "pleasant children,” who go on frowardly in the way of their own heart. Thus it wúuld appear that Calvinism is “the wpwrov yeudos," to use Mr. Flavel's words, the radical and prolific error from which most of the rest are spawned.

He concludes his Anti-Crispian treatise by the following truly Christian paragraph : “I call the Searcher

of hearts to witness, that I have not intermeddled Is,

with this controversy of Antinomianism, out of any delight I take in polemic studies, or an unpeaceable contradicting humour, but out of pure zeal for the glory and truths of God, for the vindicatlon and defence whereof, I have been necessarily engaged therein. And having discharged my duty thus far, I now resolve to return, if God permit me, to my much more agreeable studies : Still maintaining my Christian charity for those whom I oppose; not doubting but I shall meet those in hearen, from whom I am forced in lesser things to dissent upon earth."

While my heart is warnied by the love which breathes through the last words of Mr. Flavel's book, permit me to tell you, that I cordially adopt them with respect to dear Mr. Shirley and yourself, hoping that if you think yourself obliged “ to cut off all intercourse and friendship with me” upon earth, on account of what ou are pleased to call my“ disingenuity and gross erversions,” you will gladly ascribe to the Lamb of od a common salvation truly finished in heaven, gether with, Honoured and dear Sir,

Your most obedient Servant,
In the pure Gospel of St. James,

JOHN FLETCHER.

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »