Billeder på siden

they see, that those, who pretend to exalt thee' most, are of all Protestants the most ready to disarm thy gospel of its sanctions; to turn thy judicial sentences into frivolous descriptions; to overlook the dictates of reason and good nature ; and to make the press groan under illogical assertions, and personal abuse !

“Let thy servant speak once more : Thou knowest, O Lord, that thy power being my helper, I would choose to die rather than wilfully to depreciate that grace, that free grace of thine which has so long kept me out of hell, and daily gives me sweet foretastes of heaven. And now, let not readers of a Pharisaic turn, mistake what I have advanced iu honour of the works of faith, and by that mean build themselves up in their self-righteous delusion, and destructive contempt of thy merits : Help them to consider, t..... if our works are rewardable, it is because thy free grace makes them so; thy Father having mercifully accepted our persons for thy sake, thy Holy Spirit having gently helped our infirmities, thy precious blood having fully atoned for our sins and imperfections, thy incessant intercession still keeping the way to the throne of grace open for 115, and our poor performances. Suffer not one of the sons of virtuous pride, into whose hands these sheets may fall, to forget that thou hast annexed the reward of the inheritance to the assemblage of the works of faith, or to patient continuance in well-doing,' and not to one or two splendid works of hypocrisy done just to serve a worldly turn, or to bribe a disturbed clamorous conscience; and enable them so to feel the need of thy pardon for past transgression, and of thy power for future obedience, that, as the chased hart panteth after the water-brooks, so their awakened souls may long after Christ, in whom the penitent find inexhaustible springs of righteousness and strength ; and to whom, with thee and thy eternal Spirit, be for ever ascribed praise, honour, and glory, both in heaven and upon earth-praise, for the wonders of general redemption, and for the innumerable displays of thy free grace unstained by free wrath-honour, for bestowing the gracious reward of an heavenly salvation upon all believers, that make their election sure ' by patient continuance in well doing'~and glory for inflicting the just punishment of internal damnation upon all that neglect so great salvation, and to the end of the accepted time dare thy vengeance by obstinate continuance in ill-doing.”


MADELEY, March 10, 1774.

YESTERDAY a friend lent mc Mr. Baxter's Confession of Faith, printed in London, 1655. The third part of this valuable book extends through above 140 large pages, and the title of that long section runs thus :“ The Testimony of Reformed Divines, ascribing as much to Works as I; and many of them delivering the same Doctrine.” He produces an hundred witnesses, some of whom are collective bodies, such as the Assembly of Divines, the compilers of the Homilies of the Church of England, and even the Synod of Dort. As the Antinomian spirit which Aamed against Baxter's Works in the last century, will probably sparkle against the preceding Essay, I beg leave to take shelter behind that great man, and a few of his numerous quotations. I shall cite only Baxter's page, to which I refer those who desire to see the original of his Latin quotations, together with the books, chapters, and pages of the various authors.

Page 322, he quotes the following words from Bishop Davenant : As no man receiveth that general justification which dischargeth from the guilt of all foregoing sins, but on the concurrence of repentance, faith, a purpose of a new life, and other actions of the same kind; so no man retaineth a state free from guilt in respect of following sins, but by means of the same actions of believing in God, calling on God, mortifying the flesh, daily repenting and sorrowing for sins daily

[ocr errors]

committed. The reason why all these are required on our part, is this ; because these cannot be still absent, but their opposites will be present, which are contrary to the nature of a justified man.--As therefore to the conservation of natural life it is necessarily required, that a man carefully avoid fire, water, precipices, poisons, and other things destructive to the health of the body; so to the conserving of spiritual life, it is neces. sarily required that a man avoid incredulity, impenitency, and other things that are destructive and contrary to the salvation of souls ; which canuot be avoided, unless the opposite and contrary actions be exercised. And these actions do not conserve the life of grace properly and of themselves, by touching the very effect of conservation ; bus improperly and by accident, by excluding and removing the cause of destruction."

Page 324, Baxter produces these words of the same pious Bishop : “We do therefore fight against, not the bare name of merit, in a harmless sense frequently used of old by the Fathers, but the proud and false opinion of merit of condignity, brought lately by the Papists into the Church of God.”

And again, (page 325,) “ The works of the regenerate have an ordination to the rewards of this life and that to come. (1.) Because God hath freely promised (according to the good pleasure of his will) the rewards of this life and that to come, to the good works of the faithful and regenerate.” (1 Tim. iv. 8; Gal. vi. 8; Matt. xx. 8.)

Page 328, he quotes the following passage from Dr. Twiss, “ It lieth on all the elect to seek salvation, not only by faith, but by works also, in that without doubt salvation is to be given by way of reward, whereby God will reward not only our faith, but also all our good works.”

Page 330 and 334, he quotes Melancthon thus :“ New obedience is necessary by necessity of order of the cause and effect, also by necessity of duty or command, also by necessity of retaining faith, and avoiding punishments temporal and eternal.—Cordatus stirreth up against me the city, and also the neighbour countries, and also the court itself, because in explaining the controversy of justification I said, that new obedience is necessary to salvation."

Page 360, 361, he quotes these words of Zanchius : “Works are necessary, (1.) To justify our faith (coram Deo] before God, &c.—(2.) They are necessary to the obtaiuing eternal life, &c.—(3.) They are necessary to inherit justification as causes, &c.—(4.) They are profitable to conserve the increase of faith ; also to promerit of God, and obtain many good things both spiritual and corporal, both in this life and in another." The words of Zanchius, are “ Opera utilia sunt, &c. ad multa bona tum spiritualia tum corporalia, tum in hac vita tum in alia a Deo promerenda et obtinenda.Zanch. Tom. 8, p. 787. loc. de Just. Fidei. How much more tenderly did Mr. Wesley speak of merit than the orthodox Zanchius, whom Mr. Toplady has lately rendered famous among us! I hope, that if this gentleman ever open his favourite book to the abovequoted page, he will drop his prejudices, and confess, that his dear Zanchius himself nobly contends for the Wesleyan “heresy."

Page 462, Baxter concludes his book by praying for those, who had misrepresented him to the world, and obliged him to spend so much time in vindicating his doctrine. I most heartily join him in the last paragraph of his prayer, in which I beg the reader would join us both. “The Lord illuminate and send forth some messenger, that may acquaint the churches with that true, middle, reconciling method of theological verities, which must be the mean of healing our divisions. Let me be raised of greater sufficiency for this work, and of such blessed accomplishments as shall be fit to cope with the power of prejudice ; and let the fury of blind contradiction be so calmed, that TRUTH may have oppor. tunity to do its work."

« ForrigeFortsæt »