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which removes a monntain-load of guilt, or, 'one fiftieth, or one hundredth part' of a grain: Or whether it implies believing with all our hearts, or with half, or three quarters, or one quarter,' &c. Where must we draw the line? It surely needs a magic wand to draw it.' See p. 27, &c.
Mr. Berridge turns his flaming argument against sincere obedience, like the cherub's sword every way.
Take two more instances
of his skill: still giving me leave to level at faith unfeigned, "the total term of all salvation," what he says, against sincere obedience.-P. 18. If God has made sincere obedience' [I retort faith unfeigned] the CONDITION' [or term] 'of salvation, he would certainly have drawn the line, and marked out the boundary precisely, because our life depended on it.'-P. 28. Sincere obedience' [I continue to say, faith unfeigned] 'is called a condition' [or a term] and no one knows what it is, &e. O fine condition! Surely satan was the author of it.'
P. 24, It is Satan's catch-word for the gospel,-P. 38. It is 'nothing but a jack-o' lanthorn, dancing here and there and every where,' &c. For p. 29, 'If God has drawn no boundary, man must draw it, and will draw it where he pleaseth. Sincere obedience' [I still retort, sincere repentance, or true faith] thus becomes a nose of wax, and is so figured as to fit exactly every human face. I look upon this doctrine, as the devil's masterpiece,' &c.
And I look upon these assertions, as the master-piece of antinomiaa rashness, and Geneva logic in the mouth of the pious Vicar of Everton. Is it not surprising, that he who unmasks the Christian world, should be so hood-winked by Calvinism, as not to see that there are as many false professors of SINCERE repentance and TRUE faith, as there are of sincere obedience; that even the Turks call themselves mussulmen, or true believers; and that he has full as much reason to call sincere repentance, or true faith, a rotten buttress, a nose of wax, a paper-kite, a jacko'-lanthorn, &c, as sincere obedience?
What a touch has this learned divine given here to the Ark of God, in order to prop up that of Calin? And how happy is it for religion, that this grand argument against obedience, repentance, and faith, is founded upon an hypothetical proposition, p. 29. 1, 8, "If God has drawn no boundary?" This supposition Mr. B. takes for granted, though it is evidently false; the boundaries of sincere obedience being full as clearly drawn in the Scriptures as those of true repentance, and faith unfeigned.
xv. Ezek. xviii, and Mic. vi. 8. The line of Christian obedience is exactly drawn all over the New Testament, and most particularly in our Lord's sermon upon the mount. And the line of Heathen faith and obedience is, without the Scripture, drawn in every breast, by the gracious light, that enlightens every man who comes into the world. Through this light even Mahometans and Heathens may BELIEVE that God is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and by this FAITH they may work righteousness, do to others as they would be done by, and so fulfil the law of liberty, according to their dispensation: and that some do is evident from these words of the apostle: "When the gentiles, who have not the (written) law, do by nature (in its present state of initial restoration, without any other assistance than that which divine grace vouchsafes to all men universally) the things contained in the law; these having no (written) law, are a law unto themselves, and shew the work (or precepts) of the law written in their hearts; their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts accusing or excusing one another," Rom. ii. 14, 15. Therefore, the dreadful blow, inadvertently struck at all religion through the side of sincere obedience, is happily given with a broken reed: Christianity stands: The important term of sincere obedience, with respect to adult persons, has not Satan, but God for its author; and Antinomianism is more and more unmasked."
But these are not all Mr. Berridge's objections against sincere obedience. For, p. 30, he says, "If works are a condition in the gospel covenant, then works must make the WHOLE of it." Why so? May not faith and repentance, so long as they continue true and 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 from 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: and 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 wheelwork? 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 yon unavoidably up to perfect obedience." And suppose it should, pray where would be the misfortune? Is it right to frighten the christian world from sin cere obedience, by holding out to their view christian perfection, as if it were Medusa's fearful head? Are we not commanded to go
an 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 John 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 upon this footing, he whose one talent gains another, obeys as perfectly in his degree, as he whose five talents gain five more. Notwithstanding all the insinuations of those fishers of men, who beat the streams of truth, to drive the fishes from 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 to reap wheat where he sows only barley. Those gracious words of our Lord, repeated four times in the gospel, might alone silence them 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 abundance, 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 unattainable 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 sincere obedience may be retorted thus. 1. If faith is a condition (or term) in the gospel covenant, then (faith) must make the whole of it. But if this is true, what becomes of Christ's obedience unto death? You 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 hearts, 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, is so much the more extraordinary, when dropping from Mr. Berridge's pen, as it is demolished by the words of his mouth, when he sings,
"Thee we would be always blessing,
Finish then thy new creation:
Pure and spotless may we be!
Perfectly restored by thee!''
See A Collection of divine Sougs, by J. Berridge, M. 4. &c. p. 178.
To conclude: Another argument is often urged by this pious author to render the doctrine of a believer's final justification by the evidence of works, odious to humble souls. He takes it for granted that it encourages 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, "Boasting 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; and 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 begins 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 second. Should he attempt to exculpate himself by saying, that all his arguments against sincere obedience are levelled at the hypocritical obedience which pharisaic boasters sometimes call sincere: I reply, 1. It is pity he never once told his readers so. 2. It is surprising that he, who unmasks the Christian 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 advance 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 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? But, 5. the worst is, that if Calvinism, is true, all Mr. Berridge's argu. ments 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 justification 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 needless to their eternal salvation, as a rotten buttress, a paper kite, or a jack-o
SECT. IV. When Mr. Berridge grants, that "our damnation is wholly from our selves," he grants that our salvation is suspended upon some term, which through grace we have power to fulfil; and in this case, unconditional 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 neces sary inference, he only exposes himself be fore men of sense.-Mr. Berridge p. 190, fully grants the second gospel-axiom: "Our damnation," says he, "is wholly from our selves:" 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 above-mentioned gospel-axiom, as all moderate Calvinists do, he grants me Mr. Wesley's proposition, together with the demolition of Calvinism! For,
1. If my damnation 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, although I fell semi
By the word wholly, Mr. Berridge cannot mean that our damnation 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,
nally into a state of damnation in the loins of Adam, yet the free gift came seminally upon me, as well as upon all men, unto initial justification; for I was no less in Adam, when God raised him up by the true promise of a Mediator, than when he fell by the lying promise of the tempter.
Now, if my damnation is neither from any unconditional decree of reprobation, nor from the fall of Adam, what becomes of Apollyon and his sister the great Diana? What becomes of absolute reprobation, and its inseperable companion, unconditional election? What becomes of all the horrors that St. Paul is supposed to father upon the God of love, Rom. ix? In a word, what becomes of Calvinism?
Again. If "my damnation is wholly from myself," the just Judge of all the earth must damn me personally for something, which he had put it in my power personally to do or to leave undone. My damnation then, and consequently my salvation, is necessarily suspended on some term or condition, the performance or non-performance of which, is at my option. Nor is light more contrary to darkness, than these two propositions of Mr. Berridge are to each other, "our damnation is wholly from ourselves:" And, "St. Paul plainly shuts out all works of sincere obedience, as a CONDITION" of eternal salvation. On the first, stand the Minutes and the Checks; on the Second, Calvinism and Antinomianism. And as some of Mr. Berridge's readers cannot receive two incompatible propositions, they desire to know which of them we must give to the winds, with the paperkite of sincere obedience?
I hope that gentleman will not endeavour to screen Calvinism by saying, that the reprobates are damned merely for their personal sins, and therefore their damnation is wholly from themselves. An illustration will easily shew the fallacy of this argument, by which Calvinism is frequently kept in countenance.
A Monarch, in whose dominions all children are naturally born lame, makes a law, that all who shall not walk straight before a certain day, shall be cast into a fiery furnace. The terrible day comes, and myriads of lame culprits stand before him. His anger smokes against them, and with a stretched out arm he thunders: Depart from me, ye cursed, into that place of torment prepared for obstinate offenders: for when I bid you walk upright, ye persisted to go lame. Go, burn to all eternity, and as ye burn, clear my justice; and remember, that your misery is WHOLLY from YOURSELVES.
WHOLLY from OURSELVES! they reply with one voice: Was it ever in our power not to be born lame; or to walk upright in our crippled condition? Wast not thou acquainted with our natural misfortune? When
a wonderful man came into thy kingdom, to heal the lame, didst thou not order that he should pass us by? If he and his servants have tantalized us with general offers of a free cure, dost thou not know, they were complimental, lying offers? Hast thou forgotten, how thou orderest the loving Physician who wept over us, never to prepare one drop of his purple tincture for us? And how thy "secret will" bound us with the invisible chains of an efficacious decree of preterition, that we might never come at that precious remedy? In a word, was it not from the beginning thy fixt determination, that as we were born lame and helpless subjects to thy crown; so we should remain the lame and remediless victims of thy wrath? If therefore thou wilt shew the boundless extent of thy grim sovereignty, by casting us into that flaming abyss, do it; for we cannot resist thee! but do not pretend that we have pulled down thy wrath upon us. Rob, O rob us not of the only alleviation, that our deplorable case can admit of, viz. the comfort of think ing, that our destruction is not from ourselves. If thou wilt be fierce as a lion, at least be not hypocritical as a crocodile.
Hear, ye heavens, replies the absolute monarch, give ear, O Earth, and judge of the justice of my proceedings against these lame culprits. In consequence of a permissive, efficacious decree of mine five or six thousand years ago, one of their ancestors brought lameness upon himself and upon them: therefore their necessary lameness and the fearful destruction with which I am going to punish their lame steps, are wholly from themselves. Are not my ways equal, and theirs unequal? And far from being a crocodile towards them, am I not a lamb in whose mouth is no guile! Or at least a lion, who like that of the tribe of Judah, use my sovereign power only ac cording to the clearest dictates of justice and equity?—Out of thine own mouth, reply the wretched culprits, the world of rational beings will condemn thee, thou true king of terrors! Thou acknowledgest that thousands of years before we were born, one of our ancestors brought upon us the necessary lameness, in consequence of which we must be cast into that fiery furnace, without having ever had it in our power to take one straight step; and yet thou sayest that our destruction is wholly from ourselves! If thou wert not lost to all sense of equity and regard for truth, thou wouldst say, that our condemnation is not from ourselves, but wholly from a man whom most of us never heard of: unless thou wast the grand contriver of the fall, which brought on his lameness and ours; and in that case our destruction is far less from him than from thyself. Besides, thou hast published a decree, in which thou declarest, "They shall say no more, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on
edge: but every one shall die for his own iniquity, Behold all souls are mine, as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: The soul that sinneth it shall die," the death thou designest us. Now iniquity that we could never personally help, an iniquity caused by one of our ancestors, can never be our own iniquity, contradistinguished from that of our fathers. If thou didst cast all the asses of thy kingdom into thy fiery furnace, because they do not bray as melodiously as the nightingale sings; or all the ravens, because they are not white as swans; couldest thou with any truth say, Their torments are wholly from themselves? And hast thou any more reason to say that our perdition is from ourselves, when thou burnest us merely for our natural, necessary lameness, and for the lame steps that it has naturally and necessarily occasioned?
The judicious reader will enter into this Illustration, without being presented with a key of my own making; and trusting his candour and good sense with that business, I draw the following inferences from the second gospel-axiom, which Mr. Berridge has explicitly granted. 1. God does not prevaricate, but speaks a melancholy truth when he says, "O Israel thou hast destroyed thyself.". 2. Every reprobate is his own destroyer, not only because be has wilfully sinned away the justification mentioned Rom. v. 18, by which all infants are entitled to the kingdom of heaven, but also because he wilfully rejects the salvation really prepared for, and sincerely offered to him in Christ. 3. According to the second covenant, we are never in a state of personal damnation, till we have personally buried the talent of that grace which bringeth salvation, and hath appeared to all men. 4. Calvinism, which teaches the reprobates fully to exculpate themselves, and justly to charge God with shuffling, lying, injustice, cruelty, and hypocrisy, is a system that does the reprobates infinite honour, and the divine perfections unspeakable injury. And, 5. When Mr. Berridge maintains, that "our damnation is wholly from ourselves," he maintains indirectly, that the Minutes and Checks, which necessarily stand or fall with that gospelaxiom, are truly scriptural. Thus like other pious Calvinists,* he gives us an excellent
The warm author of a pamphlet entitled, "Dr. Crisp's Ghost; or a Check upon Checks: Being a Bridle for Antinomians, and a Whip for Pelagian and Arminian Methodists," with this motto, Without are dogs, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie; designed, it seems, to whip the Arminian dogs, and to prove that Flavel, Baxter, Williams, and 1, make a lie, when we represent Crisp as an abettor of Antinomian dotages." This warm author I say, informs us, that even Crisp, overcome by the glaring evidence of truth, once said:" I must read the fearful doom of godliness] and are not yet taught it of God, &c. They all, who have not not learned this lesson [denying unare yet in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of
dose of antidote to expel antinomian poison. But who shall recommend it to the Calvinisiniquity, and have not their part in this matter. I say, as yet, this is their fearful doom, and if they continue thus untaught their lesson, there can be no salvation by grace for them. Not every one that says, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven, &c. Some licentious, ungodly wretches, I know, reply, though to their own ruin, &c. that Christ justifies the ungodly, and we are saved by faith without works; but ala! they observe not how cunningly the devil equivocates to lull them asleep in their ungodly practices. It is true indeed that Christ justifies the ungodly, that is, he finds them ungodly when he imputes his righteousness to them: but he does not leave them ungodly after he has inspired them; he teacheth them to deny ungodliness. He affords no cloak to perseverance in ungodliness, but will come in flaming fire, with his mighty angels, to render vengeance unto such. He that denies not ungodliness, him will Christ deny before his Father which is in heaven. Why then wilt thou be deluded with gross Sophistry, in so clear a sunshine of the gospel? Is not the light so bright that thine own heart
checks thee? And if thine heart condemns thee, God is greater, and searches all things."
Hail! Crisp. Far from checking my Checks, and whipping the Arminian dog, in a happy moment thou manfully fightest St, James's battle; thou callest the doctrine of the Checks "sunshine;" and whippest thine own speculative error out of the church as "gross
Dr. Crisp [as quoted by his opponent] almost discovered once the important difference between the salvation of a sinner previous to works; and the salvation of a believer, consequent upon works. His excellent words run thus. are saved by faith without works, but here also Satan "It is true also, we equivocates as grossly as in the other case; for though faith only saves without works efficiently, yet not consequentially, as I said before: that is, though faith only saves, yet that faith must not be alone that saves, but must be attended with its fruit to wit, denying ungodliness; else it is so far from saving, that it is but a dead faith, and he is but a vain man that has no better, as St. James well affirins. The person believing must deny ungodliness, though this denial works not his salvation."-[this is very true, if it is understood either of initial salvation, or of the primary cause of eternal salvation.] "Our Saviour speaks to the same purpose, A good tree bringeth forth good fruit: He does not say the fruit makes it a good tree, yet the good fruit is inseparable. I speak not of quantities or degrees, &c. but of the truth, to wit, a real and sincere denial of ungodliness."-Excellent! To whip the dogs, the Rev, Mr. P-1 needs only prove, that when David robbed Uriah of the ewe-lamb that lay in his bosom, tried to kill his soul with drunkenness, and treacherously killed his body with the sword of the Ammonites, he "really and sincerely denied ungodliness." And that his faith produced the good fruit, which is inseparable from saving faith. The moment this is done, 1 promise the public to clear pions Calvinists in general from the charge of speculative Antinomianism, Dr. Crisp in particular from that of glaring contradiction, and his zealous second, who accuses me with "gross falsities," from Calvinistic rashness.
We can no more exculpate warm Calvinists, when they betray holiness into the bands of practical Antinomians, because they now and then speak honourably of good works; than we can clear Pontius Pilate, from the guilt of delivering the Messiah to the Jews, because he once solemnly took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, 1 find no fault in this just person; I am innocent of his blood: See ye to it." If the author of the Whip for the Arminians considers this, or if he turns to Check Fourth, p. 40, where I produce D. Williams' observation concerning Crisp's inconsistency, he will be probably less forward in checking Checks, that he has not candidly considered and in making whips for the backs of his honest neighbours, lest some of them should take them from him to lash his mistakes and chastise his precipitation.
tic world? Mr. Wesley they will not hear: My Checks they will not read. Go then, "valiant Sergeant IF." Thou comest from Everton, therefore thou shalt be welcome. Thou knowest the way to the closets of Solifidians; nay, thou art there already with "The Christian World Unmasked."
SECT. V. Mr. Berridge candidly grants the conditionality of Perseverance, and consequently of Election, by showing much respect to "Sergeant IF," who "guards the camp of Jesus:" But soon picking a quarrel, with the valiant Sergeant he discharges him as a Jew, opens the camp to the Antinomians, by opposing to them only a sham centinel, and shows the foundation of Calvinism in a most striking light.
The pious author of " the Christian World unmasked," speaking of the Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional perseverance, which he confounds with the evangelical doctrine of conditional perseverance, p, 194, says with great truth, provided he had spoken of the latter: Itaffords a stable prop to upright minds, yet lends no wanton cloak to corrupt hearts. It brings a cordial to revive the faint, and keeps a guard to Check the forward. The guard attending on this doctrine, is Sergeant IF; low in stature, but lofthough a monosyllable. Kind notice has ty in significance; a very valiant guard, been taken of the Sergeant by Jesus Christ and his apostles, and much respect is due unto him, from all the Lord's recruting officers, and every soldier in his army. Pray listen to the Sergeant's speech: IF ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, John vili. 31. IF ye do these things, ye shall never fall, 2 Pet. i. 10. IF what ye have heard shall abide in you, ye shall continue in the Son and in the Father, 1 John ii. 24. We are made partakers of Christ, IF we hold steadfast unto the end, Heb. iii. 14. Whoso looketh and continueth (that is, IF he that looketh doth contiuue) in the perfect law of liberty, that man shall be blessed in his deed, James i. 15."-And
again, p. 194," IF backsliders fancy, they must all be restored by repentance, because David was restored, and Peter was; they might as well suppose, they must all be translated into Heaven without dying, because Enoch and Elijah were." p. 199, 1. 17th.
Upon this plan of doctrine, we are ready to lay by our controversial pens, and shake hands with our Calvinistic brethren. All that we desire of them, in order to a lasting agreement is,-1. To consider what is implied in the
*Here Mr. Berridge in a fit of legality, far exceeds the limits of the truth which I maintain in the Checks; For he insinuates, that the recovery of backsliders is as improbable as their bodily translation into heaven. For my part, severe as I am represented to backsliders, I believe their retu.n is ten thousand times more probable than their going to heaven as Enoch and Elijah did.