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brethren, deserves to be called “the best robe," because it is really better than the robes of righteousness and true holiness,' which we recommend : 'Or only because it is best calculated to pervert the gospel, dishonour Christ, disgrace undefiled religion, throw a decent cloak over the works of darkness, render Antinomianism respectable to injudicious Protestants, and frighten moral men from Christianity, as from the most immoral system of religion in the world.
By this time, honoured Sir, you are, perhaps, ready to turn objector yourself, and say, “ You slander our principles. “The doctrines of grace' are doctrines according to godliness. Far from opposing inherent righteousness in its place, we follow after it ourselves, and frequently recommend it to others. Imputed righteousness is highly consistent with personal holi
To this I answer : I know a mistaker man, who believes, that he has a right to all his neighbour's property, because St. Paul says, “ All things are yours;' and nevertheless he is so honest, that you may trust him with untold gold. Just so it is with you, dear Sir. You not only believe, but publicly maiptain, that an elect who seduces his neighbour's wife, “ stands complete in the everlasting, personal chastity of Christ;" and that a fall into adultery will work for his good :* And yet, I am persuaded that, if you were married, you would be as true to your wife, as Adam was to Eve before the fall. But can you in conscience apologize for your errors, and desire us to embrace them, merely because your conduct is better than your bad principles ?
Again, “You frequently recommend holiness;" and perhaps give it out, that the shortest way to it, is to believe your doctrines of imputed righteousness, and finished salvation. But this, far from mending the matter, makes it worse. As fishes would hardly swallow the hook, if a tempting bait did not cover it, and entice them : So the honest hearts of the simple
would hardly jump at imputed righteousness, if they were not deceived by fair speeches about personal holiness : Thus good food makes way for poison, and the right robe decently wraps fig-leaves and cobwebs.
Once more : Every body knows, that bad guineas are never so successfully put off, as when they are mixed with a great deal of good gold : But suppose I made it my business to pass them, either ignorantly or on purpose, would not the public be my dupes, if they suffered me to carry on that dangerous trade, upon such a plea as this, “ I am not against good gold : I pass a great deal of it myself. I have even some about
I frequently recommend it to others; neither did I ever decry his majesty's coin?" Would not every body see through such a poor defence as this ? And yet, poor as it is, you could not, with any show of truth, urge the last plea: For, in order to pass your notions about imputed righteousness, you have publicly spoken against inherent righteousness, and all its fruits. In the face of the whole world, you have decried the coin, that bears the genuine stamp of the Lord's goodness : You have called good works, " dung, dross, and filthy rags ;" and what is still worse, you have given it out, that you had “ scripture authority" so to do.
Should you, to the preceding objection, add the following question : “ If you were now dying, in which robe would you desire to appear before God? That of Christ's personal righteousness imputed to you, without any of your good works ? Or, that of your own selfrighteousness and good works, without the blood and righteousness of Christ ?" My answer is ready.
I would be found in neither, because both would be equally fatal to me: For the robe of an Antinomian is not better than that of a Pharisee; and all are foolish virgins who stand only in the one or in the other. Were I then come to the awful moment you speak of, I would beg of God to keep me from all delusions, and to strengthen my heart-felt faith in Christ; that I might be found clothed, like a wise virgin, with a robe washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb;' that is, with the righteousness of a living faith working by love : For such a faith is the blessed reality that stands at an equal distance from the Antinomian and Pharisaic delusion. And, I say it again, $ this righteousness of faith includes, (1.) A pardon through the blood and righteousness of Christ : (2.) Acceptance in the Beloved : And (3.) An universal principle of inherent righteousness : For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, much less whim and delusion ; but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.' But perhaps you ask :
“ Which would you depend upon for pardon and acceptance in a dying hour: Your own inherent righteousness of faith, or the atoning blood and meritorious righteousness of Jesus Christ ?" If this is your question, I reply, that it carries its own answer along with it. For if I have the inherent righteousness of a living faith, and if the very nature of such a faith is (as I have already observed) to depend upon nothing but Christ for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption ;' is it not absurd to ask, Whether I would depend on any thing else ? Suppose I have faith working by humble love, do not I know, that the moment I rely upon myself, or niy works, as
$ I have on purpose been guilty of several such repetitions, not only because the same answers solve frequently different objections; but because I should be glad to stop the mouths of some of my readers, if I may give that name to prejudiced persons, who cast a careless, and perhaps a malignant look over here and there a page; and without one grain of candour condemn me for not saying in one Letter, what I have perhaps already said in half a dozen. In these perilous times we must run the risk of passing for fools with men of unbiassed judgment, that we may not pass for heretics with some of our brethren. And it is well if, after all our repetitions, we are not still charged with not holding what we have so frequently asserted. For, alas! what repetitions, what scriptures, what expostulations can reach breasts covered with a shield of prejudice, which bears such a common motto as this,
Non persuadebis etiamsi persuaseris ?" I could wish, that such readers as will not do justice to the arguments of our opponents, as well as to our own, would never trouble themselves with our books.
the meritorious cause of my acceptance, I put off the robe made white in the blood of the Lamb,' and put on the spotted robe of a proud Pharisee?
However, it is by self-contradictory objections, and false dilemmas, that the hearts of the simple are daily deceived: As well as by fair speeches, which carry an appearance of great self-abasement, and of a peculiar regard for the Redeemer's glory. Who can tell how many pious souls are driven by the tempter upon one rock, through an excessive fear of dashiug against the other ? Every judicious, moderate man,
Auream quisquis mediocritatem
sees their well. meant error, and can say to each of them
Lest you should be found in the odious apparel of a Pharisee, you put on, unawares, the modish dress of an Antinomian.
But, O thou man of God, whosoever thou art, have vothing to do with the one or the other ; except it be to decry and tear them both. In the mean time, be thou reallyó fonnd in Christ, not having thine own Pharisaic righteousness, which is of the letter of the law ;' nor yet notions about righteousness imputed to thee in the Antinomian way; but the substantial, evangelical righteousness which is through the faith of Christ ;-the righteousness which is of God by faith ;--the true armour of righteousness,' with which St. Paul cnt in pieces the forces of Pharisaism on the right hand, and St. James those of Antinomianism on the left.'
Rejoicing, dear Sir, that if our arguments should strip you of what appears to us an imaginary garment, you shall not be found naked ; and thanking “ the God of all grace,' for giving you, and thousands of pious Cal
FOURTH CHECK TO ANTINOMIANISM.
vinists, a more substantial robe than that for which you so zealously plead ; in the midst of chimerical imputations of “ calumny," I remain, with personal and inherent truth, honoured and dear Sir, your affectionate brother, and obedient servant in our common Lord,