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May they all abound more and more in my heart and life! in the hearts and lives of all God's people!" Methinks that all the Church militant and triumphant, cry out, Amen! A divine power accompanies their general exclamation. The veil of prejudice begins to rend. Your honest heart relents. You acknowledge that Calvinism has deceived you. You retract your unguarded expressions, The Spirit of holiness whom you have grieved, returns. The heavenly light shines, The antinomian charm is broken. "Dross" is turned into fine gold; "dung" into savou ry meat, which every believer loveth next to the bread of life; and "filthy rags," into the fine linen white and clean, which is the righteousness of the saints, and the robe made white in the blood of the Lamb. Far from pouring contempt, through voluntary humility, upon this precious garment, you give praise to God, and in humble triumph, put it on, together with the Lord Jesus Christ.
In that glorious dress you walk with Christ in white, and in love with Mr. Wesley. Par is, and the convent of Benedictine monks, disappear. The New Jerusalem, and the Tabernacle of God, comes down from heaven. Leaving the things which are behind, you solemnly hasten unto the day of the Lord. Following peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord, you daily perfect it in the fear of the Lord. You feel the amazing difference there is be tween a real, and an imaginary imputation of righteousness. You tear away, with honest indignation, the pillow of finished salvation from under the head of Laodicean backsliders, who sleep in sin; and of bloody mur. derers, who defile their neighbour's bed. You set fire to the fatal canopy, under which you have inadvertently taught them to fancy, that the holy and righteous God calls them, My love! my undefiled! even while they wal low in the poisonous mire of the most atroci ous wickedness. And to undo the harm you have done, or remove the offence you have given by your letters, you shew yourself reconciled to St. James's pure religion; you openly give Mr. Wesley the right hand of fellowship, and gladly help him to provoke believers to uninterrupted love and good works, i. e. to CHRISTIAN PERFECTION.
Such is the delightful prospects which my imagination discovers through the clouds of our controversy; and such are the pleasing hopes, that sometimes soothe my polemical toil, and even now make me subscribe myself, with an additional pleasure, Honour. ed, and dear Sir, your affectionate and obedient Servant, in the bonds of a pure gospel, JOHN FLETCHER.
Letter IX. To Mr. Rowland Hill. HONOURED AND DEAR SIR,
YOUR uncommon zeal for God, so far as it is guided by knowledge, entitling you to the peculiar love and reverence of all that fear the Lord; I should be wanting in respect to you, if I took no notice of the arguments with which you are come from Cambridge to the help of your pious brother. In the FRIENDLY REMARKS that you have directed to me, you say with great truth, page 31, "The principal cause of controversy among us, is the doctrine of a second justification by works. Thus much you vindicate throughout, that a man is justified before the bar of God a second time by his own good works."
So I do, Sir; and I wonder how any Chris. tian can deny it, when Christ himself declares, "In the day of judgment by thy words shalt thou be justified," &c. Had he said, By my words imputed to thee thou shalt be justified, you might indeed complain. But now, what reason have you to assert, as you do, that I "have grossly misrepresented the scriptures," and "made universal havock of every truth of the gospel?" The first of these charges is heavy, the second dreadful let us see by what arguments they are supported.
After throwing away a good part of your book, in passing a long, Calvinian, juvenile, sentence upon my spirit as a writer, you come at last to the point, and attempt to explain some of the Scriptures which you suppose I have, "misrepresented."
I. Page 32, "Not every one that saith un. to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father, Matt. vii. 21. And what is this (say you) more than a description of those who are to be saved?"
What Sir, is it nothing but a description? Is it not a solemn declaration, that no practical antinomian shall be saved by faith in the last day? And that Christ is really the Lord, and a King, who has a Law, which he will see obeyed? Had he not just before, (verse 12.) admitted the Law and the Prophets into his gospel dispensation, saying, "All things which ye would that men should do unto you, do even so unto them, for this is the Law and the Prophets?" Are we not under this Law to him? And will he not command his subjects, who obstinately violate it, to be brought and slain before him.
Again, when he declares that they who "hate a brother, and call him, Thou Fool! are in danger of hell fire as murderers!" do we not expose his legislative wisdom, as well as his paternal goodness, by intimating, that, without having, an eye to the murder of the heart, or the tongue, he only describes certain wretches, whom he unconditionally designs for everlasting burnings?
What I say of a punishment threatened, is equally true of a reward promised; as you may see by the following illustration of our controverted text. A General says to his sol diers, as he leads them to the field of battle, Not every one that calls me, Your honour, Your honour, shall be made a captain; but he that fights manfully for his king and country. You say, "What is this more than a description of those that shall be promoted?" And I reply, If war-like exploits have abso lutely nothing to do with their promotion, and if the General's declaration is only a description of some favourites, whom he is determined to raise at any rate; could he not as well have described them by the colour of their hair, or height of their stature? And does he not put a cheat upon all the soldiers, whom he is absolutely determined not to raise, when he excites them to quit themselves like men, by the fond hope of being raised? Apply this simile to the case in hand, and you will see, dear Sir, how frivolous, and injurious to our Lord, is your intimation, that one of his most awful royal proclamations is nothing but an empty description. O Calvinism! is this thy reverence for Jesus Christ? Hast thou no way of supporting thyself, but by turning the Lord of glory into a Virgil? The supreme Lawgiver of men and angels, into a maker of descriptions?
II. Much of the same nature is the observation which you make page 37, upon these words of our Lord, "They that have done good, shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting punishment." You say, "What does this text prove more than has been granted before? What does it more than characterize those that shall be saved ?" Nay,Sır, it undoubtedly characterizes also those that shall be damned, and this too by as essential a character, as that according to which the king would appoint some of his servants for a gracious re ward, and others for a capital punishment, if he said to them, They that serve me faith fully, shall be richly provided for; and they that rob me, shall be hanged. If such characterizing as this passes at Geneva for a bare description of persons, whom royal humour irrespectively singles out for a reward, I hope the time is coming when, at Cambridge, it will pass for a clear declaration, of the reason why some are rewarded, or punished, rather than others and for a proof that the king is no more a capricious dispenser of rewards, than a tyrannical inflicter of punishments.
tenth part of an ephah." Now, Sir, although I do not immediately rest the cause upon such Scriptures, I maintain, that they are much more to the purpose of our second justification by works, than Moses's definition of an omer.
III. Page 33, After mentioning these words of St. Paul," without holiness no man shall see the Lord;" and those words which St. James wrote to believers, "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves;" you say, "What is this to the purpose, respecting a second justification? Just about as much as, Now an omer is the
Will you dare to say, that impious Jezebel and unconverted Manasses were persons "Just about as" properly qualified for justification in the great day because they had an "omer" in their palace, as pious Deborah, and holy Samuel, who had holiness in their hearts, and were doers of the word in their lives? And when the apostle declares that "Christ is the author of eternal salvation to them that obey him," does he mean, that to obey is a thing just about as important to eternal salvation, as to know that a bushel holds four pecks, and an ephah ten omers? Were ever holiness and obedience inadvertently set in a more contemptible light? For my part, if" by our words we shall be justified in the day of judgment," I believe it shall be by our words springing from holiness of heart: and therefore I cannot but think that holiness will be more to the purpose of our justification by works in the great day, than all the omers and ephahs, with all the notions about imputed righteousness and fin ished salvation, in the world.
IV. Page 33, After quoting that capital passage, "Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers shall be justified," Rom. ii. 13, you say This certainly proves that the doers of the law shall be justified." Well then, it directly proves justification by works. But you immediately insinuate, the "impossibility of salvation by the law." I readily grant, that in the day of conversion, we are justified by faith, not only without the deeds of the ceremonial law, but even without a previous observance of the law of love: but the case is widely different in the day of judgment; for then," by thy words shalt thou be justified." Now, Sir, it remains for you to prove, that the apostle did not speak of the text under consideration, with an eye to our final justification by works.
In order to this, page 33, you appeal to "The place which this text stands in, and the connexion in which the words are found." I answer,
1. This text stands in the epistle to the Romans, to whom the apostle says, "Love is the fulfilling of the law :- He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law," Rom. xiii. 8, 10. Now, if he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law, you must shew, that it is impossible to love another; or acknowledge, that there are persons who fulfil the law: and consequently persons, who can be justified as doers of the law. Nay, in the very chapter, such persons are thus mentioned, "If the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, and fulfil the law, shall it not judge thee who
dost transgress the law?" That is, Shall not a Cornelius, an honest heathen that fears God and works righteousness, rise in judgment against thee who committest adultery; vainly supposing that Abraham's chastity is imputed to thee? Rom. ii. 22, 27. But,
2. Going back to the beginning of the chapter where our controverted text stands, I affirm that" the connexion in which it is found" establishes also justification by works in the great day: and to prove it, I only lay the apostle's words before my judicious readers. "Thou art inexcusable, O Jew, whosoever thou art that judgest,or condemnest the heathens who do such things, and doest them thyself. The judgment of God is according to truth," and not according to thy Antinomian notions, that thou wast unconditionally elected in Abraham; that thou standest complete in his righteousness; and that thy salvation was finished when he had offered up Isaac. Be not "God will render deceived, to every man according to his deeds, [and not according to his notions:] To them, who by patient continance in well doing, seek for immortality, he will render eternal life: anguish to every man that worketh evil: -for not the hearers of the law are just before God,but the doers of the law shall be justified, in the day when he shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel," Rom. ii. 1, 16. Now, Sir, is it not evident from "the connexion" to which you appeal, that Mr. Henry did not pervert the text, when he had the courage to say upon it, "It is not hearing but doing that will save us" in the great day? Hearing, mixt with faith, saves us indeed instrumentally in the day of conversion; but in the day of judgment, neither hearing nor faith will do it; but patient continuance in well-doing, from the principle of a living faith in Christ, will have that honour.
V. Page 35, after criticising in the same frivolous manner as your brother, on Rev. xxii. 14, "Blessed are they that keep his commandments, &c." you add, "This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and omitting what immediately follows," and love one ano. ther, as he gave us commandment;" you ask, "What then is the conclusion? To believe is the great New Testament command of God." No, Sir, according to 1 John iii 23, the text you have quoted by halves, that commandment is to believe and to love, or to believe ·with a faith working by love. Our Lord informs us, that "on the grand commandment of love, hang all the law and the prophets." St. Paul says, "Though I have all faith, yet if I have not love, I'am nothing.' Devils be lieve, says St. James. To believe then, without loving, is not doing God's commandments, but doing the devil's work. Because the word commandments being in the plural num
ber, denotes more than one, and therefore is
To add, as you do, "They that believe will
It follows then still from Rev. xxii. 14, that although "upon believing, not for obeying, we are initiated into all the new covenant blessings" in the day of conversion; yet in the great day, only upon persevering in faith and obedience shall we have right, or, if you please, "privilege, power, and authority, through our Surety, to partake of the tree of life." For, he that endureth unto the end, the same shall be saved;" and "Christ is the author of eternal salvation to none but them that obey him."
VI. Page 36. "You quote against yourself, Rev. xiv. 13. "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord. Their blessedness arises from their dying in the Lord." Granted. But how shall it be known they died in the Lord? The Spirit says, "Their works [not their faith do follow them," namely, in order to their final justification. To this you reply, "Their works do not go before them,but follow after, to prove that they were in the Lord, whose prerogative alone is to justify the ungodly." I answer,
1. When you grant, that works prove that we are in the Lord if they are good, or in the wicked one if they are evil, you give up the point.
2. Do you not confound truth and error? Because in the day of conversion God justifies the ungodly, who renounces his ungodliness to believe in Jesus, does it follow, that Jesus will justify the ungodly in the day of judgment? Is not the insinuation as unscriptural as it is dangerous? Does not our Lord himself say, that far from justifying then, he will bid them depart from him into everlasting fire?
3. Your observation, that works follow the righteous, and "do not go before them" is frivolous: for what matters it, whether the witnesses, by whose evidence a prisoner is to be acquitted, follow him to the bar, or are there before him? Is their following him a proof that he is not justified by their instrumentality? To support your cause by such arguments, will do it no service.
VII. Page 37, you think to set aside these
you leap over fifty pages of my book, to blame me (p. 55.) for saying after St. Peter, Acts ii. 40,"Save yourselves from this untoward generation!"
words of Solomon, Keep God's command ments, for this is the whole [duty] of man; for God shall bring every work into judgment whether it be good or bad," by just saying, "This passage asserts, that we are to be accountable for our actions." Then it asserts the very thing for which it was produced: for how can those be really accountable for their actions, who can never be justified or condemned by their words, never be rewarded or punished according to their works? Here then again you grant what we contend for.
VIII. Page 38, 1 Cor. vii. 19. "Circum cision is nothing-but the keeping the commandments of God." "This passage (say you) would equally as well prove the supre. macy of the Pope, as your doctrine of a se cond justification by works."
I answer, 1. If you compare this text with Eccl. xii. 13, 14. Rev. xxii. 14. and Matt. xii. 37. you will see it is very much to the purpose. 2. "Love is keeping of the command ments." If I have not love, which is the keeping of the commandments, I am only a "tinkling cymbal." Now, Sir, you must prove that God will justify tinkling cymbals by imputed righteousness in the great day; or ac knowledge, that the keeping of the commandments, or, which is the same, love, makes more towards our final justification, than towards placing his Holiness the Pope in the pretended chair of St. Peter.
3. If the doers of the law shall be finally justified, and none but they; and if keeping the commandments is the same thing as being a doer of the law; you boldly hoist the Geneva flag, when you insinuate, that the keep ing of the commandments has no more to do with our final justification, than with the supremacy of the Pope. Lastly, if keeping the commandments will have nothing to do with our justification in the last day, by a parity of reason, breaking of them will have nothing to do with our condemnation. Thus we are insensibly come to the dreadful counterpart of your comfortable doctrine, that is, absolute reprobation, free-wrath, and finished damnation. And when the Apostle says, shall judge the world in righteousness," should he not rather, according to your plan, have said, in unrighteousness?
IX. Instead of answering such passages as these, "Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to every man as his work shall be:-He that knoweth the heart, shall render to every man according to his works. We shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad-The Father, without respect of persons, judgeth according to every man's work: The dead were judged out of the things written in the books, according to their works." Instead, I say, of answering such passages,
Granting you, Sir, that the Greek word means literally, Be ye saved; yet you wrong our translation, when you say that its lan guage is "glaringly inconsistent." The words that immediately precede, "He exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves," &c. convinced our translators of the absurdity of exhorting people to be saved, that could absolutely do nothing in order to salvation. you make Calvinism ridiculous before all Cambridge, when (p 36.) you make owŷŋre, Be ye saved, or when spoken in a way of exhortation, Save yourselves, to mean, "Know that ye cannot save yourselves."
P. 35, you say, "Let the context illustrate this: "Thousands were pricked to the heart; they ask, what they shall do, doubtless meaning, to be saved. The Apostle directs them immediately to Jesus for salvation." What! Without doing any thing towards it! No such thing. To the overthrow of your criticism, and of Calvinism, he sets them immediately upon doing. Their question was, "What shall we do to be saved?" and the immediate answer is, "Repent and be baptized." Just as if he had said, Be ye saved, or save yourselves by repenting and coming to Christ. Or, to use the words of Christ to the people of Capernaum, and those of St. Paul to the jailor of Philippi, "Do the work of God" i. e. the work which God first calls for: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved."
You add, "This language" [Save yourselves] "ill becomes the mouth of inspiration." I am sorry, Sir, you should be so exceedingly positive. I rather think, that your language ill becomes the mouth of modesty. Does not St. Jude say, "Save some with fear?" Does not St. Paul mention his endeavours to "Save some of his own flesh," Rom. xi. 14, and his "becoming al things to all men, that he might save some," 1 Cor. ix. 22?
Does he not speak of a husband saving his wife, and of a wife saving her husband, 1 Cor. vii. 16? Does he not write to the Philippians, "Work out your own salvation ?” and to Timothy, "In doing this thou shalt save thyself, and them that hear thee?" 1 Tim. iv. 10. You are too good a scholar, Sir, to say, that owoes oεavrov "is passive;" and too modest a divine to insinuate, upon second thoughts, that St. Paul speaks like a heretic, and you like an apostle.
X. After opposing our doctrine of justifica tion by the evidence of works in the last day, as warmly as your pious brother; you give your public assent to it as well as he. Page 34, speaking of the day that shall declare every man's work, and the fire that shall try
of what sort it is, you say, "Who that reads the Bible denies, that every man's works shall be examined as a proof of his faith, and that upon their evidence the Judge will pass sentence?" Undoubtedly you mean, sentence of absolution or condemnation, according to our Lord's words, "By thy words shalt thou be justified or condemned," Matt. xii. 37.
Now, Sir, this is the very doctrine which we maintain, as you may see Second Check, p. 21. and 29,-the very doctrine for which you represent me to the world as a Papist, and a tierce enemy to the gospel. Gentle reader take notice of my capital crime. I have dared to vindicate a truth, which [my opponent himself being judge]" no man that reads the Bible denies." Is this a dreadful heresy! O Sir, when this shall be known in our Universities, will not Oxford cry to Cambridge, and Cambridge echo back to Oxford, the substance of your book, and the title of mine? Logica Genevensis!
XI. Now that you have granted the doctrine of justification by the evidence of works in the day of judgment; let us see how you endeavour to keep your system in countenance. Page 34, you say, contrary to your own concession, "Though works have not the least to do in justifying our persons, yet they will appear to the justifying of that faith, as sound, by which alone we are to be saved."
To cut you off from this last subterfuge, I observe, 1. That works will have as much "to do" in justifying our persons in the last day, as faith in justifying them at our conversion. 2. This doctrine, of faith being justi fied by works in the day of judgment is irrational: for faith shall then be no more; and common sense dictates, that Christ, the wis dom of God, will not lose time in justifying or condemning a grace which shall not exist. 3. It is quite unscriptural: our Lord says, By thy words shalt thou [not thy faith] be justified." St. Paul says, "The doers of the law [not their faith] shall be justified. And St. James declares, that "Rahab [not her faith] and Abraham [not his faith] were justified by works" in the day of trial. 4. Your scheme fathers nonsense upon that Apostle; for if faith is justified by works, and not a man, it follows, that when St. James says, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only," it is just as if he said, "Ye see then how that by works faith is justified, and not by faith only." 5. If the believer's faith is justified in the last day, and not the believer himself; by a parity of reason, the unbeliever's unbelief, will be condemned, and not the unbeliever himself. 6. We have as good ground to assert, that the faith of believers shall be saved in the last day, and not their persons; as you to maintain, that the faith of believers shall be justified, and not their persons. Thus, ac.
cording to your curious doctrine, Faith, not Believers, shall go to heaven; and Unbelief, not Unbelievers, shall depart into hell. Lastly, "if "works have not the least to do in justifying" our persons in the great day; it follows, they will not have the least to do in condemning them. Thus are we come again to the doctrine of finished damnation; and thus you point-blank contradict your own scriptural concession, "Upon the evidence of works the Judge will pass sentence."
From the preceding pages it appears, (if I am not mistaken) that justification by works i.e. by the works of faith in the last day, is a solid anvil, which the twelve strokes of your hammer have settled more than ever upon its firm basis, "The word of God that abideth for ever." To this anvil I shall by and by, bring Calvinian Antinomianism, and endeavour to work it, in meekness of wisdom, with a hammer, I hope, a little heavier than your
Having answered your objections to what you justly call "the principal cause of controversy among us," I may make one or two observations upon the friendliness of your Friendly Remarks.
Candid reader, if thou hast read my Checks without prejudice, and attentively compared them with the word of God; wouldst thou ever think, that the following lines contain an extract from the friendly sentence, which my young opponent passes upon them? "Hard names,-Banter,-Sarcasm,-Sneer-Abuse, -Bravado,-Low arts of slander, Slanderous accusations,-Opprobrious names,-Ill-natu red satire,―Odious, deformed, detestable colours,-Unfair and ungenerous treatment,Terms void of truth,-Unmerciful condemnations,-False humility,-Irritating_spirit,Provoking, uncharitable style,-Continual sneers,-Most odious appellations,-Abusive words,-Notorious scandalizing,-Lines too dreadful to be transcribed, unworthy of an an swer, beneath contempt, Most indecent ridicule, - A wretched conclusior, as bitter as gall,-and Slanders which ought even to make a Turk blush."
If thou canst not yet see, gentle reader, into the nature of Mr. Rowland Hill's Remarks, peruse the following friendly sentences. "In regard to the fopperies of religion, you certainly differ from the popish priest of Madeley:-You have made universal havock of every truth of the gospel :-You have invent. ed dreadful slanders-You plentifully stig. matize many with the most unkind language: You have blackened our principles, and scandalized our practice:-You place us in a manner among murderers.-It shocks me to follow you :-Our characters lie bleeding under the cruelty of your pen, and complain