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helps which God has given them, by multitudes of conditional promises and threatenings, designed to work upon their hopes and fears. And, while it unnecessarily stumbles men of sense, and hardens infidels, it affords wicked men rational excuses to continue in their sins; and gives desperate offenders full room to charge, not only Adam, but God himself, with all their enormities.
I shall now be shorter in the review of the state of onr controversy. Free will to good is founded upon general free grace, and general free grace upon the perfect oblation which Christ made upon the cross for the sins of the whole world. General Redemption, therefore, I have endeavoured to establish upon a variety of arguments, which you decline answering.
Justification by (the evidence of) works in the last day, is the doctrine which you and your brother have most vehemently attacked. You have raised against it a great deal of dust, and some objections, which I hope you will find abundantly auswered in the three first letters of this Check, and in the ninth. But suppose I had not answered them at all, you could not have won the day ; because after all your joint opposition against our doctrine, both you and your brother bear your honest testimony to the indubitable truth of it, as our readers may see in our first, fifth, and ninth letters.
I need not remind you, Sir, that upon this capital doctrine, the Minutes in general stand as upon a rock. If you doubt it, I refer you to the fifth and sixth letters.
The doctrine of a fourfold justification appears monstrous to your orthodoxy. Both you and your brother, therefore, have endeavoured to overturn it.
But as you had neither scripture nor argument to attack it with, you have done it by some witticisms, which are answered in the tenth letter.
Calvinian everlasting love, according to which the elect were never children of wrath, and apostates may go any length in sin without displeasing God, is a
doctrine which I have attacked in all the Checks. You cannot defend it, and yet you will not give it up. You just intimate, that when the elect commit adultery and murder, they are in a sense penitent. This frivolous plea, this last shift, is exposed, Letter X.
Finished Salvation, which you call your “grand fortress," and which your brother styles, “ the foundation of the Calvinists,” you have endeavoured to support by a variety of arguments, answered, I trust, Letter VII, in such a manner, that our impartial readers will be convinced, your foundation is sandy, and your grand fortress by no means impregnable.
The oneness of speculative Antinomianism and of barefaced Calvinism, is the point in which our controversy insepsibly terminates. I will not say, that what we have advanced upon this subject is unanswerable ; but I shall wonder to see it answered to the satisfaction of unprejndiced readers. In the mean time, I confess, that I cannot cast my eyes upon the Calvinian Creed in the VIIth letter, and the gospel proclamation in the XIth, without being astonished at myself, for not seeing sooner, that there is no more difference between Calvinism and speculative Antinomianism, than there was between the disciple who betrayed our Lord, and Judas surnamed Iscariot.
Such, honoured Sir, is, I think, the present state of our controversy ; but what is that of our hearts ? Do we love one another the better, and pray for each other the oftener, on account of our theological contest? Alas! if we sell love to buy the truth, we shall be no gainers in the end ; witness those awful words of St. Paul, “ Though I have all knowledge, and all faith: If I have not charity, I am nothing but a tinkling cymbal.' 0 Sir, we stand in great danger of being carried away by our own spirits, beyond the sacred lines of truth and love, which should bound the field of Christian controversy. Permit me, theu, to propose to our common consider ation, and future imitation, the most perfect patterns in the world,
Let us consider Him first, 'who in all things has the pre-eminence.' With what wisdom and fortitude, with what a happy mixture of rational and scriptural arguments, does Christ carry on his important controversy with the Pharisees ! He stands firm as a rock against all the frothy billows of their cavils and invectives. With astonishing impartiality he persists in telling them the most galling truths : And condemning them out of their own mouths, consciences, and sacred records. In so doing, he loses indeed their love and applause ; but he maintains a good conscience, and secures the praise which comes frons God. Nor does he give over bearing his testimony against them by day, and praying for them by night, till they shed his ivnocent blood : And when they have done it, he revenges himself by sending them the first news of his pardoning love : 'Go,' says he, to the heralds of his grace, preach forgiveness of sins among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem,' the city of my murderers. O Sir, if the Lord of glory was so ready to forgive those, who, for want of better arguments, betook themselves first to pitiful sophisms, and groundless accusations, and then to the nails, the hammer, and the spear; how readily ought we to forgive each other the insignificant strokes of our pens !
Let St. Paul be our pattern next to Jesus Christ. Consider we with what undaunted courage, and unwearied patience, he encounters his brethren the Jews, who engrossed the election to themselves, and threw dust into the air, when they heard that there was salvation for the Gentiles. In every city, he mightily convinces them out of the scriptures. They revile him, and he entreats them ; they cast him out of the temple, and he wishes himself ' accursed from Christ for their sake.' And yet, when they charge him with crimes of which he is perfectly innocent, he scruples not to appeal to the Gentiles from whose candour he expected more justice than from their bigotry.
Fix we our eyes also upon the two greatest apostles, encountering each other in the field of controrersy. Because St. Peter is to blame, St. Paul withstands him to the face,' with all the boldness that belongs to truth. He does not give himn place for a moment, although Peter is his superior in many respects; and he sends to the churches of Galatia, for their editiration, a public account of his elder brother's mistakes. But does Peter resent it? Does he write disrespectfully of his opponent ? Does he not, on the contrary, call him his beloved brother Paul,' and make honourable mention of his wisdon ?
When I behold these great patterns of Christian moderation and brotherly love, I rejoice to have another opportunity of recommending, to the love and esteem of my readers, the two pious brothers, whom I vow encounter, and all those who were more or less concerned in the circular letter; in particular, our Christian Deborah, the Countes3 of Huntingdoll, and my former opponent, the Rev. Mr. Shirley, who are far less honourable and right honourable by the noble blood that flows in their veins, than by the love of Christ which glows in their hearts, and the zeal for God's glory which burns in their breasts : Being persuaded, that their hasty step was intended to defend the first gospel-axiom, which, for waut of proper attention to every part of the gospel, they imagined Mr. Wesley had a mind to set aside, when he only wanted to secure the second gospel. axiom.
Once more, I profess also my sincere love and unfeigued respect for all pious Calvinists ; protesting, I had a thousand times rather be an inconsistent Antinomian with them, than an inconsistent Legalist with many, who hold the truth in practical unrighteous.
I abhor, therefore, the very idea of “ dressing them up in devils' clothes, as the Papists did John Huss; and burning them for heretics in the flames of hell.” (Review, p. 92.) If I have represented an Antinomian in practice, as stavding on the left hand with wicked Arminians; it was not to conVOL. II.
demn the mistaken persons who lead truly Christian lives, though their heads are full of Antinomian opinions ; but to convince my readers, that it is much better to be really a sheep, than to have barely a sheep's clothing; and that our Lord will not be deceived, either by a goat, who imputes to himself the clothe ing of a sheep; or by a wolf, who tries to make his escape, by insolently wrapping himself up in the shepherd's
s garment. Should it be objected, that, after all the severe things which I have said against the sentiments of the Calvinists, my professions of love and respect for them cannot possibly be sincere : I answer, that although we cannot in conscience make a differeuce between a man and his actions, candour and brotherly kindness allow and command us to make a difference between a man and his opinions, especially when his exemplary conduct is a full refutation of his erroneous sentiments.
This, I apprehend, is the case with all pious Calvinists. They talk much, I graut, abuut finished salvation ; but consider them with attention, and you will find a happy inconsistency between their words and their actions; for they still work out their own salration with fear and trembling.' Again, they make much ado about a robe of imputed righteousness : But still they go on 'washing their own robes, aud making them white in the blood of the Lamb.' Therefore, their errors,
which they practically rennunce, do not endanger their salvation: And it would be the highest degree of injustice to confound them with abandoned Nicolaitans.
Fantasticus tells you, he is possessed of an immense estate in the territories of Geneva ; where, by the hy, he has not an inch of ground. But though he talks much about his fine estate abroad, he wisely considers, that he stands in need of food and raiment; that he cannot live upon a chimera : And that he must work or starre at home. To work therefore he goes, though much against his will. In a little time, by the divine