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claims against :- And (7.) Whether the Solifidians do not set up the 'abomination of desolation in the hois place,' when they directly or * indirectly teach, that all believers may go any length in sin, without losing their heavenly thrones, or the divine favour : That a man may have the justifying, saving, operative faith, which your Ladyship pleads for, while he adds idola. try to incontinence, murder to adultery, and curses to the repeated denial of Jesus Christ: That fallen believers, who have returned to their sins as a sow that is washed does to her wallowing in the mire,' stand immaculate before God in a robe of imputed righteousness, even while they turn God's grace into lasciviousness, and commit all uncleanness with greediness :' That they shall all infallibly sing in heaven in consequence of their most grievous falls on earth; and that a kind of hypocritical, lying free grace is to be preached to all siuners, which necessarily shuts up most of them under the absolute free wrath of a God ever merciless towards the majority of mankind.
Now, my Lady, as I am persuaded that you do not admire such an immoral and narrow gospel: As I believe, that if at any time it creeps into your chapels, it is without your approbation, under the mask of decency, and only by the means of the specious phrases of free gospel, electing, everlasting love, finished salvation, and free distinguishing grace, which, according to the analogy of the modish faith, sweetly make way for the inseparable and bitter doctrines of a confined gospel of everlasting hate, reprobating unmer. cifulness, finished damnation, and free distinguishing wrath ; and as I do your Ladyship the justice to acknowledge, that your most earnest desire is to support what appears to you a free and holy gospel, at the expence of your fortune, life, and character ; I
* Mr. Hill has done it “ directly" in the fourth of the Five Letters which he has inscribed to me, and all the Solifidians do it “indirectly,"
beg, my Lady, you will also do me the justice to believe, that if I oppose the Solifidiau-gospel of the day, it is only because it appears to me a confined and unholy gospel, calculated to foster the Antinomianism of Laodicean believers, and to render Christ's undefiled religion contemptible to the RATIONAL, and execrable to the MORAL world. If you grant me this request, I shall only trouble you with one more, which is, to believe, that, notwithstanding the part I have taken in the present controversy, I remain, with my former respect and devotedness,
Servant in the Gospel,
MADELEY, March 12, 1774.
ESSAY ON TRUTH, &c.
EXCEEDINGLY sorry should I be, if the testimony which I have borne to the necessity of good works caused any of my readers to do the worst of bad works, that is, to neglect believing, and to depend upon some of the external, faithless performances which conceited Pharisees call “good works ;” and by which they absurdly think to make amends for their sins, to purchase the Divine favour, to set aside God's mercy, and to supersede Christ's atoning blood, Therefore, lest some unwary souls, going from one estreme to the other, should so unfortunately avoid Antinomianism, as to run upon the rocks, which are rendered famous by the destruction of the Pharisees, I shall once more vindicate the fundamental, Anti.. pharisaic doctrine of salvation by faith : I say once more, because I have already done it in my guarded sermon. And to the Scriptures, Articles, and Arguments produced in that piece, I shall now add rational and yet scriptural observations, which together with appeals to matter of fact will, I hope, soften the prejudices of judicious moralists against the doctrine of faith, and reconcile considerate Solifidians to the doctrine of works. In order to this, I design in general to prove, that true faith is the only plant, which can possibly bear good works; that it loses its ope. rative nature, and dies, when it produces them not ; and that it as much surpasses good works in importance. as the motion of the heart does all other bodily motions. Inquire we first into the nature and ground of savin: faith.
A Plain Definition of Saving Faith, how Believing i
the Gift of God, and whether it is in our power to believe.
What is Faith? It is believing heartily. What is saving faith? I dare not say, that it is “ belierina heartily, my sins are forgiven me for Christ's sake;" for if I live in sin, that belief is a destructive couceit, and not saving faith. Neither dare I say, that “ saving faith is only a sure trust and confidence that Christ loved me, and gave himself for me ;"!| for, if I did, I should damn almost all mankind for 4000 years. Such definitions of saving faith are, I fear, too narrow to be just, and too unguarded to keep out Solifidianism, A comparison may convince my readers of it. If they desired me to define man, and I said, “Man is a rational animal that lives in France in the year 1774 ;" would they not ask me, whether I
all the rational animals that lived on this side the English Channel in 1773, were brutes ? And if you desired to know what I mean by saving faith, and I replied : It is a supernatural belief, that Christ has actually atoned
|| When the Church of England, and Mr. Wesley give us particular definitions of faith, it is plain, that they consider it according to the Christian dispensation, the privileges of which must be principally insisted upon among Christians ; and that our Church and Mr. Wesley guard faith against Antinomianism, is evident from their maintaining, as well as St. Paul, that by bad works we lose a good conscience, and * make shipwreck of the faith.'