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way to the kingdom; but I must tell you all, this sanctification of life is not a jot of the way of the justified person to heaven. To what purpose do we propose to ourselves the gaining of that by our labour and industry, that is already become ours before we do one jot?-Must they now labour to gain these things, as if it were referred to their well or evil walking: that as they shall walk so they shall speed. The Lord does nothing in his people upon conditions. The Lord intends not that by our obedience we shall gain something which in case of our failing we shall miscarry of. While you labour to get by duties, you provoke God as much as in you lies. We must work from life, and not for life. There is nothing you can do from whence you ought to expect any gain to yourselves. Love to the brethren, universal obedience, and all other inherent qualifica tions, are no signs by which we should judge of our state. Every elect vessel, from the first instant of his being, is as pure in the eyes of God from the charge of sin, as he shall be in glory. Though such persons do act re, bellion, yet the loathsomeness and hateful ness of this rebellion is laid on the back of Christ; he bears the sin, as well as the blame and shame. And God ean dwell with per sons that act the thing, because all the filthiness of it is translated from them upon the back of Christ. It is the voice of a lying spirit in your hearts that says, you that are believers (as David) have yet sin wasting your conscience. David indeed says, 'my sins are gone over my head,' but he speaks from himself, and all that he speaks from himself was not truth. There is as much ground to be confident of the pardon of sin to a believer, as soon as he committed it, as to believe it after he has performed all the humiliation in the world. A believer may be assured of pardon as soon as he commits any sin, even adultery and murder. There is not one fit of sadness in a believer but he is out of the way of Christ. God does no longer stand displeased though a believer do sin often. There is no sin that ever believers commit, that can possibly do them any hurt. Therefore, as their sins cannot hurt them, so their is no cause of fear in their sins committed. Sins are but scare-crows and bug-bears to fright ignorant children, but men of understanding see they are counterfeit things. Sin is dead, and there is no more terror in it, than in a dead lion. If we tell believers, except they walk thus and thus holily, and do these and those good works, God will be angry with them, we abuse the scriptures, undo what Christ has done, injure unbelievers, and tell God lies to his face. All our righteousness is filthy, full of menstruosity, the highest kind of filthiness; even what is the Spirit's, must be involved within that which is a man's own, under the general notion of dung. God has done every thing
in Christ, and taken away all things that can disturb our peace; but man will be mincing the truth, and tell you that if you keep close to God, and refrain from sin, God will love you. Christ does all his work for him as well as in him that believes. If persons are not united to Christ, and do not partake of justification before they do believe, there will be bringing to life again the covenant of works; you must of necessity press upon yourselves these terms, 'I must do, that I may have life in Christ: I must believe.' Now if there be believing first, then there is doing before living. To what purpose do we tell men of wrath and damnation? We had as good hold our tongues," &c. &c.
"I do observe," says my judicious Calvinist author "the pretence for these opinions is, that they exalt Christ and free grace. Under this shadow, Antinomianism set up in Germany. This was the great cry in England above fifty years since. The Synod of New England expose this as one of the speeches of them whom they call Antinomians: Here is a great stir about grace, and looking to hearts; but give me Christ: I seek not for graces, but for Christ; I seek not for sanctification, but for Christ. Tell me not of meditation and duties, but tell me of Christ.' Dr. Crisp very often bears upon this point, as if all he said was to advance Christ and Grace.
You will perhaps say that our gospel-ministers are far more guarded than the Doctor. But I would ask whether all his scheme is not collected, and made to center in the one fashionable expression of Finished Salvation? Which seems to be our Shibboleth.
If the salvation of the elect was finished upon the cross, then was their justification finished, their sanctification finished, their glorification finished: for justification, sanctification, and glorification finished, are but the various parts of our finished salvation. If our justification is finished, there is no need of believing in order to be justified. our sanctification is finished, there is no need of mortifying one sin, praying for one grace, taking up one cross, parting with either right eye or right hand, in order to perfecting holiness. Again,
Suppose our salvation is finished, it follows, Christ has done all, and we are to do nothing. Obedience and good works are no more necessary in order to it, than cutting and carrying stones are necessary to the completing of Westminster bridge. We are as perfect in Christ, as completely blameless and holy in the midst of all our sins, as ever we shall be in glory. In a word, if salvation is finished, well ordered in all things and sure, our sins cannot take any thing from it, nor our righteousness have any thing to do with it. The little flock of the elect shall be saved, nay, are fully saved now, do what they please; and the multitude of the reprobates shall be damned, do what they can.
Give me only the smooth ring of finished salvation, and without offering the least violence to common sense, I shall necessarily draw every link of Dr. Crisp's Antinomian chain.
I have often wondered, how so many excellent men can be so fond of an expression which is the stalking-horse of every wild ranter. Is it Scriptural? Which of the Prophets or Apostles ever used it on earth? Do even the Spirits of just men made perfect, ascribed finished salvation to the Lamb? If they did, would not their uncollected dust, and the souls crying under the altar, prove their praises premature? Will salvation be finished till the last enemy, death, is fully overcome by the general resurrection? Again, Is the expression of finished salvation consistent with the analogy of faith? Does it not supersede our Lord's intercession at the right hand of God? Whether he intercedes for the reprobate or the elect, acts he not a most unwise part? Is not he giving himself a needless trouble, whether he intercedes for the justification of those whom he has himself reprobated, or for the salvation of those whose salvation is finished? Is it right to offer an insult to our High Priest upon his mediatorial throne, under pretence of honouring him on the cross? And may not I say with judicious Baxter, "See what this over. doing tends to !" See what contempt it pours upon Him who is the brightness of his Father's glory!
If that favourite expression is neither Scriptural, nor agreeable to the analogy of faith, is it at least rational? I doubt it is not. Finished salvation implies both deliverance from bodily and spiritual evils, and a being made fully partaker of heavenly glory, in body and in soul. But waving the consideration of glory and heaven, and taking the word salvation in its negative and lower sense, I ask can it be said with any propriety that bodily salvation is finished, while innumerable pains and diseases surround us, to drag us to the grave, and deliver us to putrefaction? And is spiritual salvation finished? Is the body of sin destroyed? Do not those very Ministers who preach finished salvation with one breath, tell us with the next, "there is no deliverance, (that is, no finished salvation,) from sin in this life ?"
And what end does that expression answer? I know of none but that of spreading Dr. Crisp's doctrine, and making thousands of deluded souls talk as if the tower of their salvation was finished, when they have not so much as counted the cost; or when they have just laid the foundation.
Therefore, with all due deference to my brethren and fathers who preach finished salvation, I ask, would it not be better to drop that doctrine, with all the other dangerous refinements of Dr. Crisp, and preach a finishE
ed atonement, a present sovereign remedy, completely prepared to heal all our spiritual infirmities, assuage all our miseries, and fit us for finished salvation in glory? Would not this be as well at least, as to help our patients to compose themselves to sleep upon the pillow of Antinomianism; by making them believe the preparation of the remedy, and a complete cure are all one; so that now they have absolutely nothing to do in order to saving health, and as the Apostles concluded about Lazarus, if they sleep they shall do well? And should we not, even in speaking of Redemption, imitate the judicious Calvinists of the last century, who carefully distinguished between" redemption by the price of Jesus's blood, and redemption by the power of his Spirit?" "The former, said they, was finished upon the cross, but the latter is not so much as begun in thousands; even in all that are unborn or unconverted."
V. To speak the melancholy truth, how few individuals are free from practical Antinomianism? Setting aside their attendance on the ministry of the word, where is the material difference between several of our genteel believers and other people? Do not we see the sumptuous furniture in their apartments, and fashionable elegance in their dress? What sums of money do they frequently lay out in costly superfluities to adorn their persons, houses, and gardens?
Wise heathens, by the help of a little philosophy, saw the impropriety of having any useless, brittle vessels about them: They broke them on purpose that they might be consistent with the profession they made of seeking wisdom. But we, who profess to have found Christ the wisdom of God, purchase such vessels and toys at a high rate, and instead of hiding them for shame, as Rachel did her Teraphim for fear, we write our motto over against the candlestick of the plaister of the wall, and any man that fears the God of Daniel may, upon studying the Chinese characters, make out Antinomianism.
Our Lord, whose garment does not appear to have been cut in the height of the fashion as it was made without seam, infoms us that they who wear soft clothing, and splendid apparel, are in king's houses. But had he lived in our days, he might have found them in God's houses; in our fashionable churches or chapels. There you may tind people professing to believe the Bible, who so conform to this present world, as to wear goid, pearls, and precious stones, when no distinction of office or state obliges them to it; in direct opposition to the words of two Apostles: "Let not their adorning be, says St. Peter, that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel,"-" Let them adorn
themselves in modest apparel," adds St.Paul, "not with curled hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array."
Multitudes of professors, far from being convinced of their sin in this respect, ridicule Mr. Wesley, for bearing his testimony against it. The opposition he dares make to that growing branch of vanity, affords matter of pious mirth to a thousand Antinomians. Isaiah could openly reprove the "haughty daughters of Zion, who walked with stretched forth necks, wanton eyes, and tinkling feet: he could expose the bravery of their fashionable ornaments, their round tires like the moon, their chains, bracelets, headbands, rings, and ear-rings:" but some of our humble Christian ladies will not bear a reproof from Mr. W. on the head of dress. They even laugh at him, as a pitiful legalist; and yet, O the inconsistency of the Antinomian spirit! They call Isaiah the evangelical Prophet!
Finery is often attended with an expensive table, at least with such delicacies as our purse can reach. St. Paul kept his body under, and was in fastings often; and our Lord gives us directions about the proper manner of fasting. But the Apostle did not know the easy way to heaven taught by Dr. Crisp; and our Lord did not approve of it, or he would have saved himself the trouble of his directions. In general we look upon fasting, much as we do upon penitential flagellation. Both equally raise our pity: we leave them both to Popish devotees. Some of our good old Church people will yet fast on Good-Friday; but our fashionable believers begin to cast away that last scrap of selfdenial. Their faith, which should produce, animate, and regulate works of mortification, goes a shorter way to work; it explodes them all.
"But perhaps we wrestle not with flesh and blood because we are entirely taken up with wrestling against Principalities, Powers, and spiritual Wickednesses in high places."
Alas! I fear this is not the case. Few of us know what it is to cry out of the deep, to pray and believe, till in the Name of Jesus we force our way beyond flesh and blood, come within the reach of the internal world, conflict in an agony with the powers of darkness, vanquish Apollyon in all his attacks, and continue wrestling till the day of eternity break upon us, and the God of Jacob bless us with all spiritual benedictions in heavenly places. John Bunyan's Pilgrim, the old Puritans, and the first Quakers had such engagements, and gained such victories; but they soon got over the edge of internal activity, into the smooth easy path of Laodicean formality most of us called Methodists have already followed them; and when we are in that snare, Satan scorns to conflict with us,
puny flesh and blood are more than a match for us. We fall asleep under their betwitching power, and begin to dream strange dreams: “Our salvation is finished, we have got above legality, we live without frames and feelings, we have attained Christian liberty, we are perfect in Christ, we have nothing to do, our covenant is sure," &c. True! But unhappily it is a covenant with the flesh: Satan, who is too wise to break it by rousing us in the spirit, leaves us to our delusions, and we think ourselves in the kingdom of God, while we are only in a fool's paradise.
"At midnight, I will rise and praise thee," said once a pious Jew; but we pious Christians, who enjoy both health and strength, are imprisoned within our bed-curtains, long after the sun has called the diligent to their labour. When the fear of the Lord was in us the beginning of wisdom we durst not so confer with flesh and blood. We had then a little faith; and so far as it went, it shewed itself by our works. Then we could without hesitation, and from our hearts, pray, "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the Wills of thy faithful people; that they plenteously bringing forth the Fruit of good Works, may by Thee be plenteonsly rewarded, through Jesus Christ our Lord," (Collect for the last Sunday in Trinity.) We believed there was some truth in those words of our Lord : "Except a man forsake all he hath, deny himself, and take up his cross daily, he cannot be my Disciple. He that will save his life shall lose it, and he that will lose his life for my sake shall find it. If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: It is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell-fire. Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for I say unto you that many shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able;" because they will seek to enter in at the wide, rather than the strait gate, the Antinomian or Pharisaic, rather than the evangelically legal gate of salvation. know better, (say some of us,) we have got over our scruples and legality." We can conform to this present world; cleave to, instead of forsaking all we have, and even grasp what we have not. What a strange way this of growing in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ crucified!
Daniel informs us that he made his petition three times, and David that he offered up his praises seven times a day. Once also, like them, we had fixed hours for private prayer, and self-examination, for reading the Scriptures, and meditating upon them, perhaps upon our knees; but we thought this was legality too, and under the specious pretence of going beyond forms, and learning to pray always, we first threw away our form, and soon after our endeavours to watch unto prayer: Now we scarce ever, for any length
of time, solemnly bend the knee before our Father who sees in secret. And instead of leaning on Christ's bosom in all the means of grace, we take our graceless rest on the bosom of that painted Jezebel, Formality.
If we are backward in performing that leading work of PIETY, secret prayer; is it a wonder, if in general, we are averse to every work of MERCY that costs us something, besides a little of our superfluous money? And would to God some did not even grudge this, when it is pressed out of their purse, by the importunate addresses of those who beg for the poor! However we give yet at the door of a church, or at the communion, whether with indifference or joy, whether out of custom, shame, or love, we seldom examine. But that important branch of St. James's, pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father, which consists in visiting the fatherless and widows in their afflictions, is with many almost as much out of date as a pilgrimage to our Lady of Loretto.
Ö ye forsaken sons of poverty, and ancient daughters of sorrow, who pine away in your desolate garrets or cellars, without fire in winter, destitute of food, physic, or nurse in sickness: Raise a moment your emaciated bodies wrapt up in thread-bare blankets, if you are possessed of any such a covering; and tell me, tell the world, how many of our gay professors of Religion have sought and found you out in your deplorable circumstances! How many are come to visit, in you, and worship with you, the Man of Sorrows; who once lay on the cold ground in a bloody sweat? When did they make your bed in your sickness? When have they kindly inquired into all your wants, sympathized in all your temptations, supported your drooping heads in a fainting fit, revived your sinking spirits with suitable cordials, gently wiped your cold sweats, or mixed them with their tears of pity?
Alas! You sometimes find more compassion and assistance in your extremity, from those who never name the Name of Christ, than from our easy Antinomian Laodicean Believers. Their wants are richly supplied; that is enough: They do not inquire into yours, and you are ashamed or afraid to trouble them with the dismal story. Nor indeed would some of them understand you if you did. Their uninterrupted abundance makes them as incapable of feeling for you, as the warm inhabitants of Ethiopia are to feel for the frozen Icelanders.
While the table of some Believers (so called,) is alternately loaded with a variety of delicate meats, and rich wines, what have ye to sustain sinking nature? Alas! One can soon see your all of food and physic. A pitcher of water stands by your bed-side upon a stool, the only piece of furniture left in your wretched apartment. The Lord God bless
the poor widow that brought it you, with her two mites! Heaven reward a thousand- fold the loving creature that not only shares with you, but freely bestows upon you all her living, even all that she has; when they forget to inquire after you, and to send you something out of their luxurious abundance! The Son of Man, once forsaken by all the Disciples, and comforted by an angel, make her bed in the time of sickness! And a waiting band of celestial spirits carry her charitable soul into Lazarus's bosom in the awful hour of dissolution! I had rather be in her case, though she should not confidently profess the faith, than in yours, O ye caressed Believers, who let your affluence overflow to those that have more need to learn frugality in the school of scarceness, than to receive bounties which feed their sensuality, and indulge their pride.
And ye women professing godliness, who enjoy the comforts of health and abundance, in whose streets there is no complaining, no decay, whose daughters are as the polished corners of the temple; when did you ever want visitors? Alas! Ye have too many, for the good they do you, or that you do them. Does not your conversation, which begins with the love of Jesus, terminate in religious scandal; as naturally as your soul, which once began in the Spirit, ends now in the flesh? O that your visitors were as ready to attend work-houses, jails, infirmaries, and hospitals, as they are to wait upon you! O that at least, like the Dorcases, the Phebes, and Priscillas of old, you would teach them cheerfully to work for the poor, to be the free servants of the Church, and tender nurses of the sick! O that they saw in you all, how the holy women, the "widows who were widows indeed," formerly "entertained strangers, washed the saints' feet, instructed the younger women, and continued night and day in prayer!" But alas! the love of many, once warm as the smoking flax, is waxed cold, instead of taking fire, and flaming. They who once began to seek the profit of many, now seek their own ease, or interest; their own honour, or indulgence.
Almost all, when they come to the foot of the hill difficulty, take their leave of Jesus as a guide, because he leads on through spiritual death to the regeneration. Some dis. liking that door, like thieves and robbers climb up an easier way. And others leaving the high way of the cross, under the fair pretence that blind Papists walk therein, make for themselves and others broad and downward roads, to ascend the steep hill of Zion !
Those easy paths are innumerable, like the people that walk in them. O that my eyes like David's did run down like water, because men professing godliness keep not God's law, and are even offended at it? "Their mouth talketh of vanity, they dissem→
ble with their double heart, and their right hand is a right hand of sloth, or positive iniquity." O that I had the tenderness of St. Paul, to tell you even weeping, of those who mind earthly things; those who have sinned and have not repented; those who, while they boast they are made free by the Son of God, are brought under the power of many things; whom foolish desires, absurd fears, undue attachments, imported superfluities; and disagreeable habits, keep in the most ridiculous bondage!
"O that my head were waters, and my eyes fountains of tears," to deplore with Jeremiah" the slain of the daughter of God's people," who live in pleasure, and are dead while they live!" And to lament over spiritual Pharisees of every sort; those who say, "Stand by, I am holier than thou;" and those who fix the names of poor creatures! blind and carnal! upon every publican they see in the temple; and boldly placing themselves among the elect, "thank God they are not as other men," and in particular as the reprobates!
Who can number the adulterers and adulteresses: Who "know not that the friendship of the world is enmity against God?" The concealed idolators, who have their chambers of imagery within, and set up their idols in their hearts? The envious Cains, who carry murder in their breasts! The profane Esaus, who give up their birthright for a sensual gratification; and Covetous Judases, who sell the truth which they should buy, and part with Christ for filthy lucre's sake? "The sons of God, who look at the fair daughters of men, and take to themselves wives of all which they choose?" The gay Dinahs who visit the daughters of the land, and come home polluted in body or in soul: The filthy Onans, who defile the temple of God: The Prophets of Bethel, who deceive the Prophets of Judah, intice them out of the way of self-denial, and bring the roaring lion, and death upon them? The sickly Marcuses, who depart when they should go to the work: The self-made prophets, who run before they are sent, and scatter instead of profiting the people? The spiritual Absaloms, who rise against their fathers in the gospel; and in order to reign without them, raise a rebellion against them? The furious Zedekiahs, who make themselves horns of iron to push the true servants of the Lord, because they will not prophesy smooth things and deceit, as they do?
Who can count the fretful Jonahs, who are angry to death when the worm of disappointment smites the gourd of their creature happiness? The weak Aarons who dare not resist a multitude, and are carried by the stream into the greatest absurdities? The zealous Miriams, who rise against the Minis. ters that God honours? The crafty Zibas,
who calumniate and supplant their brethren. The treacherous Joabs, who kiss them, to get an opportunity of stabbing them under the fifth rib? The busy sons of Zerniah, who perpetually stir up resentment and wrath? The mischievous Doegs, who carry about poisonous scandal and blow up the fire of discord? The hypocritical Gehazis, who look like saints before their masters and ministers, and yet can impudently lie, and impiously cheat? The Gibeonites, always busy in hewing wood and drawing water, in going through the drudgery of outward services, without ever aspiring at the adoption of sons? The halting Naamans, who serve the Lord, and bow to Rimmon: The backsliding Solomons, who once chose wisdom but now pursue folly in her most extravagant and impious forms? The apostatizing Alexanders, who "tread under foot the Son of God, and count the blood of the covenant wherewith they were sanctified, an unholy thing?" And, to include multitudes in one class, the Samaritans, who, by a common mixture of truth and error, of heavenly and earthly mindedness, worship the Lord, and their gods; are one day for God, and the next for mammon: Or the thousands in 1srael who halt between two opinions, crying out when Elijah prevails, "The Lord, He is the God!" and when Jezebel triumphs, returning to the old song, "O Baal, save us!" O Trinity of the world, money, pleasure, and honour, make us happy!
VI. Time would fail to describe the innumerable branches of Antinomianism, with all the fruits they bear. It may be compared to the astonishing tree, which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his mysterious dream: "A strong tree, set in the midst of the Church: the height thereof reaches unto heaven, and the sight thereof unto the ends of the earth. Its leaves are fair, and its fruits much." Thousands sleep under its fatal shadow, and myriads feed upon its pernicious fruit. Ata distance it looks like the tree of life planted in the midst of Paradise; but it only proves the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The woman (the Antinomian Church,) is deceived by the appearance. "She sees that it is good for food, pleasant to the eye, and desirable to make one wise:" She eats to the full, and flushed with fond hopes of heaven, nay, fancying herself as God, she presents of the poisonous fruit that intoxicates her to the nobler part of the Church, the obedient members of the second Adam.
Oye sons of God, and daughters of Abraham, who, in compliance with the insinuation of this deceived Eve, have already stretched forth your hands to receive her fatal present, instantly draw them back, for eternal death is in the fruit. Fly from the tree on which she banquets, to the tree of life, the despised cross of Jesus; and there feed on him cruci