« ForrigeFortsæt »
cessful preacher, says, in his Sure Guide to Heaven, or Alarm to the Unconverted, Lond. 1705, (p. 153, 154,) “ The terms of mercy,” (he should have said,) “The terms of eternal salvation are brought as low as possi.. ble to you. God has stooped as low to sinners as with honour he can. He will not be thought a fautor of sin, nor stain the glory of his holiness; and whither could he come lower than he hath, unless he should do this ? He has abated the impossible terms of the first covenant. (Acts xvi. 31; Prov. xxviii. 13.) He does not impose any thing unreasonable or impossible, as a condition of life."--Alleine should have said, as a condition of eternal life in glory; for God in Christ most freely gives us an initial life of grace, before he puts us upon performing any terms, in order to an eternal life of glory. “ Two things were necessary to be done by you according to the first covenant, &c, And for future obedience, here he is content to yield to your weakness and remit the rigour, He does not stand upon [legal] perfection, &c., but is conteut to accept of sincerity.” (Gen. xvii. 11.)
Matthew Mead, in his treatise on The Good, of Early Obedience, London, 1683, (p. 402,) says, “ It must be an upright and siucere obedience, before me, and be thou perfect.' (Gen. xvii. 1.) In the margent it is, sincere or upright. So that sincerity and uprightness is new covenant perfection. The persection of grace in heaven is glory ; but the per fection of grace on earth is sincerity.” Mr. Henry perfectly agrees with Mr. Mead, when he thus comments upon Gen. vi. 9 :
"Noah was a just man and perfect: He was perfect, not with a sinless perfection, according to the first covenant,) but a perfection of sincerity. And it is well for us, that, by virtue of the covenant of grace, upon the score o. Christ's righteousuess, sincerity is accepted as ou, gospel perfection !"--Hence it is that Dr. Owep says a believer, as such, shall be tried, judged, and justified
by his own personal sincere obedience.” (of Justification, p. 111.) By comparing these fair quotations
with Mr. Berridge's argument, my reader, without having the sagacity of " an old fox,” will see, that Antinom ianism has lost all deceucy in our days, and is not ashamed to call “ jack-o'-lantern," &c., what the sober Calvinists of the last century called gospel perfection. iblastly, To insinuate, as Mr. Berridge does, that ti Christ becomes a minister of sin with a witness, and must be ranked at the head of the Antinomian preachers ;" because he has substituted the law of Jiberty for the old Adamic covenant, is something so migrateful in a believer, so astonishing in a gospelminister, that--But I spare the pious Vicar of Everton, and rise against thee, O Crispianity! Thou hast seduced that man of God, aad upon thee I charge his dreadful mistake. However, he will permit me to éonclude this answer to his shrewd argument by the following query :
If “ Christ becomes a minister of sin, and must be rauked at the head of Antinomian pieachers," for placing us under the law of liberty, which curses a fallen believer that breaks it in one paint, (though it should be only by secretly harbouring malice or Inst in his heart,) what must we say of the divines, who give us to understand, that believers are not under the law preached by St. James, but muder directions or “ rules of life," which they may break unto adultery and murder, without ceasing to be God's pleasant children, and men after bis own heart? 24-Must these popular men be ranked at the head, or
at the tail of the Autinoinian preachers ? p. 24. Mr. Berridge advances another argument. ***Jf sincere obedience means any thing, it must sig. nify, either doing what you can, or doing what you will?"** apprehend it means neither the one nor the other, but doing with uprightness what we know God requires of us, according to the dispensation of grace which we are under; ' meekly lamenting our deficiencies, and aspiring at doing all better and better every alays. " So we are [not] got upon the old swampy ground again," but stand upon the Rock of Ages, and there defend the law of liberty against mistaken Solifidians.
P. 27. Mr. Berridge, instead of shewing that our obedience is insincere, if we live in sin, aud despise Christ's salvation, goes on mowing down all sincere obedience without distinction.“perceive," says he,
you are not yet disposed to renounce sincere obedi.. ence :" And, to engage us to it, he advances another argument, which, if it were sound, would demolish, not only “ sincere obedience,” but true repentance, faith unfeigned, and all Christianity. To answer it, therefore, I only need to produce it ; substituting the words true repentance, or faith unfeigned, for sincere obedience,” which Mr. Berridge ridicules, thus :
“You might have reason to complain, if God had made sincere obedience, [I say, true repentance, or faith unfeigned,] a condition of salvation : Much talk of it there is, like the good man in the moon, yet none could ever ken it. I dare defy the scribes to tell me truly what sincere (repentauce] is : Whether it means [leaving] half my sins, or one fiftieth, or one hundredth part; (shedding] half [a score of tears,] 'or fifty, or one huudred. I dare defy all the lawyers in the world to tell me, whether (faith unfeigned,] means [believing] half (the Bible] or three quarters, or one quarter, or one fiftieth, or one hundredth part; Or, whether it means [believing with*] half [a grain of the faith which removes a mountain load of guilt,] or one fiftieth, or one hundredth part [of a grain : Or whether it implies believing with all our hearts, Or with] half, or three quarters, or one quarter, &c. Where must we draw the line? It surely needs a magic wand to draw it." (See p. 27, &c.)
+13 Mr. Berridge turns his flaming argument against sin. cere obedience, like the cherub's sword, every way.' Take two more instances of his skill: Still giving me leave to level at faith unfeigned, “ the total term of all salvation," what he says, against sincere obedience.P. 28. “ If God has made sincere obedience [I retort, faith unfeigned] the condition (or term] of salvation, he would certainly have drawn the line, and marked out the boundary precisely, because our life depended on it."-P. 28. “Sincere obedience [I continue to say, faith unfeigoed] is called a condition (or a term] and no one knows what it is, &c. O fine condition ! Surely Satan was the author of it."
* Mr. Berridge invites me thus to retort his bad argument against sincere obedience : (p. 94, 1. 18 :) " I have been praying fifteen years for faith with some earnestness, and am not yet possest of more than half a grain-Jesus assures you that a single grain, &c., would remove a mountain load of guilt from the conscience," &c.
P. 24. “ It is Satan's catch-word for the gospel."P. 38. It is “ nothing but a Jack o' Lantern, dancing here and there and every where," &c. For, p. 29, “If God has drawn no boundary, man must draw it, and will draw it where he pleaseth. Sincere obedience [I still retort, sincere repentance, or true faith] thus becomes a nose of wax, and is so fingered as to fit exactly every humau face. I look upon this doctrine as the devil's masterpiece,” &c.
And I look upon these assertions, as the masterpiece of Antinomian rashness, and Geneva logic in the mouth of the pious Vicar of Everton. Is it not surprising, that he who unmasks the Christian World, should be so hood-winked by Calvinism, as not to see, that there are as many false professors of sincere repentance and true faith, as there are of sincere obedience ; that even the Turks call themselves Mussulmen, or true believers ; and that he has full as much reason to call sincere repentance, or true faith,“ a rotten buttress, a nose of wax, a paper-kite, a Jack o' Lantern," &c., as sincere obedience ?
What a touch has this learned divine given here to the Ark of God, in order to prop up that of Calvin ? And how happy is it for religion, that this grand argument against obedience, repentance, and faith, is founded upon an hypothetical proposition, (p. 29, 1. 8,) Jf God has drawn no borindary !" This supposition Mr. B. takes for granted, though it is evidently false ; the boundaries of sincere obedience being full
as clearly drawn in the scriptures, as those of true repentance, and faith unfeigned.
God himself, without“ a magic wand,” has“ drawn the line,” both in every man's conscience, and in his written word. The line of Jewish obedience is drawn all over the Old Testament, especially Exod. xx. Ps. XV. Ezek. xviii. and Mic. vi. 8. The line of Christian obedience is exactly drawn all over the New Testament, and most particularly in our Lord's Sermon on the Mount: And the line of Heathen faith and obedience is, without the scripture, drawn in every breast, by the gracious light that enlightens every man who comes into the world. Through this light even Mahometans and Heathens may believe that God is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him ;' and by this faith they may' work righteousness,' do to others as they would be done by, and so 'fulfil the law of liberty,' according to their dispensation : And that some do, is evident from these words of the apostle : 'When the Gentiles, who have not the [written] law, do by nature [in its present state of initial restoration, without any other assistance than that which divine grace vouchsafes to all men universally] the things contained in the law : These having BO (written] law, are a law unto themselves, and shew the 'work [or precepts] of the law written in their hearts; their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts accusing or excusing one another.' (Rom. ii. 14, 15.) Therefore, the dreadful blow, inadvertently struck at all religion through the side of sincere obedience, is happily given with a broken. reed : Christianity stands : The important term of sincere obedience, with respect to adult persons, has not Satan, but God for its author ; and Antinomianism is more aud more " unmasked.”
But these are not all Mr. Berridge's objections against sincere obedience : For, (p. 30,) he says, “18 works are a condition in the gospel-covevant, then works must make the whole of it.” Why so ? May not faith and repentance, so long as they continue true and