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lively, produce good works, their proper fruit ? - Why must the fruit' make the whole' of the tree ? Besides, works being the evidencing cause of our salvation, according to the gospel, you have no warrant fronı scripture to say, they must make the whole cause of it. They agree extremely well with faith, the instrumental cause with Christ's blood, the properly meritorious cause ; aud with God's mercy, the first moving cause. May I not affirm, that the motion of the fourth wheel of a clock is absolutely necessary to its pointing the hour, without supposing that such a wheel must make the whole of the wheel-work? O how have the lean kine, ascending out of the lake of Geneva, eaten those that fed so long near the river Cam !
But you add, (p. 30, “Sincere obedience as a condition will lead you unavoidably up to perfect obedience." And suppose it should, pray, where would be the misfortune ? Is it right to frighten the Christian world from sincere obedience, by holding out to their view Christian perfection, as if it were Medusa's fearful head? Are we not commanded to go on to perfection?' Was not this one of our Lord's complaints against the Church of Sardis, ' I have not found thy works perfect before God ?: Does not St. Paul sum up all the law, or all obedience, in love ? And does not St. John make honourable mention of perfect love, and excite those who are not made perfect in love, to have fellowship with him ;' and with those who could say, « Our love is made perfect ?” (1 Joho iv. 17.) Why then should the world be driven from sincere, by the fear of perfect obedience ? Especially as our Lord never required absolute perfection from archangels, much less from fallen man : The perfection which he kindly calls us to, being nothing but a faithful improvement of our talents, according to the proportion of the grace given us, and the standard of the dispensation we are under. So that, upou this footing, he whose one talent gains another, obeys as perfectly in his degree, as he whose five talents gain five more. Notwithstandiug all the insinuations of those 'fishers of men, who
beat the streams of truth, to drive the dishes from I Christian perfection into the Antinomian net; God is not an austere master, much less a foolish one. He does not expect to reap where he has not sown : Or tos reap wheat where he sows only barley. Those graa? cious words of our Lord, repeated four times in the gospel, might alone silence thein that discourage believers from going on to the perfection of obedience peculiar to their dispensation, “ To every one that hath to purpose, shall be given, and he shall have abundanee,' he shall attain the perfection of his dispensation; ' but from him that hath not,' because he buries his talent, under pretence that his Lord requires unattainix able obedience, shall be taken away even that which he hath.” (Compare Matt. xiii. 12, with Matt. xxv. 29, Mark iv. 24, and Luke viii. 18.)
The two last arguments of Mr. Berridge against sinA cere obedience may be retorted thus : (1.) If faith ist a condition (or term) in the gospel covenant, then faith must make the whole of it. But if this be true, what becomes of Christ's obedience unto death? Your reply, Faith necessarily supposes it. But you cannot escape : I follow you step by step, and say, The works I plead for, necessarily suppose not only our Lord's! obedience unto death, but faith, which you call the only term of all salvation.” (2.) You say, « Sincere obedience as a condition will lead you unavoidably up to perfect obedience.” And I retort: Faith unfeigned, as a term or condition, will lead you unavoidably up to perfect faith : For if the law of liberty' commands us to love God with all our soul,' it charges 'us also to believe in Christ with all our heart." (Acts viii. 37.) Should you reply, I am not afraid of being led up to perfect faith, I return the same answer with regard to perfect obedience.
This argument against sincere obedience, taken from the danger of going on to the perfection of it, much the more extraordinary, when dropping from Mr. Berridge's pen, as it is demolished by the words of his mouth, when he sings,
See A Collection of Divine Songs, by J. Berridge,M.A.,
&c., p. 178.
To conclude : Another argument is often urged by this pious author to render the doctrine of a believer's fjual justification by the evidence of works odious to humble souls. He takes it for granted that it encou. rages boasting ; still confounding the works of faith, which he at times recommends as well as I, with the Pharisaical works of unbelief, which I perpetually decry as well as he. But even this argument, (about which the Calvinists make so much noise, may be retorted, thus : There is as much danger of being proud of one's faith, as of one's works of faith : And if Mr. Berridge presses me with Rom. iii. 27, ‘Beasting is excluded by the law of faith ;' I reply, that the works I plead for being the works of faith, his argument makes as much for me as for him ; aud I press him in my turn with Rom. xi. 18, 20, ‘Boast not thyself against the branches. Thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear.' Which shews, it is as possible, to be proud of faith, as of the works of faith. Nor can a believer boast of the latter, unless his humble faith begius to degenerate into vain fancy.
Such are the capital objections, that Mr. Berridge, in his unguarded zeal for the first gospel axiom, has advanced against the secoud. Should he attempt to exculpate himself by saying, that all his arguments against sincere obedience are levelled at the hypocri.. tical obedience which Pharisaic boasters sometimes call sincere : I reply, (1.) It is a pity he never once told his readers so.- -(2.) It is surprising, that he who
unmasks the Christinn World, should so mask himself, as to say just the reverse of what he means.-(3.) If he really designs to attack insincere obedience, why does he not attack it as insincere? And why does he ad.. vance no arguments against it, but such as would give the deepest wound to truly sincere obedience, if they were conclusive ?-(4.) What would Mr. Berridge say of me, if I published an impious essay against divine worship in general, and, to vindicate my own conduct, gave it out, some months after, that I only meant to attack “ the worship of the host," which makes a part of what the Papists call “divine worship ?". Would so lame an excuse clear me before the unprejudiced world 2-But, (5.) The worst is, that if Calvinism is true, all Mr. Berridge's arguments are as conclusive against evangelical, sincere obedience, as against the hypocritical works of Pharisees : For, if Christians (who have time to add the works chiefly recommended by St. James, to the faith chiefly preached by St. Paul) have a full, inamissible title to final justifieation without those works, nay with the most horrid works, such as adultery and murder: Is it not evident that the passport of good works and sincere obedience, is as peedless to their eternal salvation, as a rotteu buttress, a paper kite, or a jack-o'-lantern ?”
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When Mr. Berridge grants, “ that our Damnation is
wholly from ourselves,” he grants that our Salvation is suspended upon some Term, which through Grace we have power to fulfil; and in this case, Uncondi- ' tional Reprobation, Absolute Election, and Finished Salvation, are false Doctrines ; and Calvin's whole System stands upon a sandy Foundation.
WHEN a man grants me two and two, he grants me four; he cannot help it. If he exclaims against me for drawing the necessary inference, he only exposes himself before men of sense.—Mr. Berridge, (p. 190,) fully grants the second gospel-axiom : “Our damnation,” says he, “is wholly from ourselves :" Nevertheless he declares, (p. 26,) that there is “ an absolute impossibility of being justified (or saved) in any manner by our works ;" and part of his book seems levelled at this proposition of the Minutes, “ Salvation not by the merit of works, but by works as a condition." Now, if I am not mistaken, by granting the abovementioned gospel-axiom, as all moderate Calvinists do, he grants me Mr. Wesley's proposition, together with the demolition of Calvinism. For,
1. If my dampation is wholly from myself,* it is not the necessary consequence of an absolute, efficacious decree of non-election, for then my damnation would be wholly from God. Nor is it the necessary consequence of the devil's temptation, for then it would be from the devil : Nor is it (upon the gospel plan) the necessary consequence of Adam's fall : Because, al
• By the word wholly, Mr. Berridge cannot mean that our damna tion may not have secondary causes, such as a tempting devil, an alluring world, wicked company, a bad book, &c. He is too wise to deny it. All I suppose he means, as well as myself, is, that every reprobate is the primary, meritorious cause of his damnation. Just as divine grace in Christ is the primary, meritorious cause of our salvation; although under that original, principal leading cause, there are inferior, instrumental, evidencing causes, such as Bibles, ministers, religious conversation, faith, good works, &c.