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Spirit, as it is maintained in the three Creeds, James ; and that if St, James had been in not being at all affected by any of his peculiar St. Paul's place, he would have preached it sentiments.
as freely as St. Paul; and I recollected that But you possibly imagine, Sir, that he has in some places St. Paul himself seems even lately changed his doctrine, and adopted a more legal than St. James. See Rom. ii. 7, new system. If you do, you are under a 10, 14. Gal. vi. 7, &c. and I Tim. vi. 19. very great mistake, and to convince you of These reflections made me not only suspend it, permit me to conclude this letter by a par. my judgment concerning Mr. W’s proposi. agraph of one which I received from him last tions, but consider what we may candidly spring.
suppose was his design in writing them for, “ I always did (for between these thirty and recommending them to, the preachers in and forty years) clearly assert the total fall connection with him. And I could not help of man, and his utter inability to do any good seeing, that it was only to guard them and of himself: the absolute necessity, of the their hearers against Antinomian principles grace and Spirit of God to raise even a good and practices, which spread like wild fire in thought or desire in our hearts: the Lord's some of his Societies; where persons who rewarding no work, and accepting of none, spoke in the most glorious manner of Christ, but so far as they proceed from his prevent- and their interest in his complete salvation, ing, convincing, and converting grace through have been found living in the greatest immothe beloved. The blood and righteousness of ralities, or indulging the most unchristian Christ being the sole meritorious cause of tempers. Nor need I go far for a proof of our salvation. And who is there in England this sad assertion. In one of his Societies that has asserted these things more strongly not many miles froni my parish, a married and steadily than I have done?” Leaving man, who professed being in a state of jusyou to answer this question, I remain with tification and sanctification, growing wise due respect, Hon, and Rev. Sir, your obe- above what is written, despised his brethren dient Servant, in the bonds of a peaceful gos- as legalists, and his teachers as persons not
clear in the gospel. He instilled his prin. J. FLETCHER. ciples into a serious young
and MADELY, July 29, 1771.
what was the consequence? Why, they tal
ked about “ finished salvation in Christ,” Second Letter to the Rev. Mr. Shirley.
and “the absurdity of perfection in the flesh,”
till a perfect child was conceived and born ; Hon. AND REV, SIR,
and to save appearances the mother swore it HAVING proved that Mr. W's to a travelling man that cannot be beard of. doctrine is not heretical, permit me to consi. Thus to avoid legality, they plunged into der the propositions which close the Minutes hypocrisy, fornication, adultery, perjury, of his last Conference, on which, it seems, and the depth of ranterism. Is it not hard your charge of dreadfui heresy is founded. that a minister should be traduced as guilty
They wear, I confess a new aspect, and of dreadful heresy for trying to put a stop to such is the force of prejudice and attachment such dreadful practices ? And is it not high to particular modes of expression, that at first time that he should cry to all that regard his they appeared to be very unguarded, if not warnings, take heed to your doctrine. As if altogether erroneous. But when the din of he had said, the severe epithets, bestowed upon them by " Avoid all extremes. While on the one sowe warm friends, was out of my ears; hand you kcep clear of the pharisaic delusion when I had prayed to the Father of lights for that slights Christ, and makes the pretended meekness of wisdom, and given place to calm merit of an imperfect obedience the procuring reflection, I saw them in quite a different cause of eternal life ; see that on the other light. Our Lord commands us “ Not to band you do not lean to the Antinomian error, judge according to the appearance, but to which under pretence of exalting Christ, judge righteous judgment;" appearances speaks contemptuously of obedience, and therefore did not seem to me sufficient to con- makes void the law through a faith that demn any man, much less an elder and such does not work by love. As there is but a step an elder as Mr. W. I considered besides, between bigb Arminianism and self-righteousthat the circumstances in which a minister
ness, so there is but one between high Cal. sometimes finds himself with respect to his vinism and Antinomianism, I charge you to hearers, and particular errors spreading shun both, especially the latter." among them, may oblige him to do or say “You know, by sad experience, that'at things, which though very right according this time we stand particularly in danger of to the time, place, persons, and junctures, splitting upon the Antinomian rock. Many may yet appear very wrong to those who do smatterers in Christian experience talk of not stand just where he does. I saw for exam. finished salvation in Christ, or boast of being ple, that if St. Paul had been in St. James's in a state of justification and sanctification, circumstances, he would have preached jus- wbile they know little of themselves and less tification in as guarded a manner' as St. of Christ. Their whole behaviour testifies
that their heart is void of humble love, and pray and sing with the tongues of
men and full of carnal eonfidence. They cry, Lord, angels; they even profess the faith that reLord, withi as much assurance, and as little moves mountains; and yet by and by, we right, as the foolish virgins. They pass for discover they stumble at every mole-hill ; sweet Christians, dear children of God, and every trifling temptation throws them into good believers ; but their secret reserves peevishness, fretfulness, impatience, ill huevidence them to be only such believers as mour, discontent, anger, and sometimes into Simon Magus, Ananias, and Sappbira.” loud passion."
“Some with Diotrephes “love to have the “ Relative duties are by many grossly neg; preeminence and prate malicious words, and lected : husbands slight their wives, or not content therewith, they do not themselves wives neglect, and plague their husbands : receive the brethren, and forbid them that Children are spoiled, parents disregarded, would, and even cast them out of the church' and masters disobeyed : Yea, so many are as heretics. Some have forsaken the right the complaints against servants professing way, and are gone astray, following the way godliness, on account of their unfaithfulness, of Balaam, who loved the wages of un- indolence, pert answering again, forgetful. righteousness; they are wells without water, ness of their menial condition, or insolent elouds without rain, and trees without fruit:' expectations, that some serious persons prewith Judas'they try to load themselves with fer those who have no knowledge of the thick clay, endeavour to lay up treasures on truth, to those who make a bigh profession earth, and make provision for the flesh to of it.” falfil the lusts thereof. Suae, with the in. “ Knowledge is certainly increased ; many cestuousCorinthian, are led captive by run to and fro after it, but it is seldom expefleshly lusts, and fall into the greatest enor- rimental ; the power of God is frequently mities. Others, with the language of the talked of, but rarely felt, and too often cried awakened publican in their mouths, are fast down under the despicable name of frames asleep in their spirits ; you hear them speak and feelings. Numbers seek by hearing a of the corruptions of their bearts, in as un- variety of gospel ministers, reading all the affected and airy a wanner, as if they talked religious books that are published, learning of freckles upon their faces: it seems they the best tunes for our bymps, disputing on run down their sinful nature, only to apolo- controverted points of doctrine, telling or gize for their sinful practices; or to appear hearing church-news, and listening to or great proficients in self-knowledge, and retailing spiritual scandal, But alas! few court the praise due to genuine humility," strive in pangs of heart-felt convictions, few
“Others quietly settled on the lees of the deny themselves and take up the cross daily; Laodicean state, by the whole tenor of their few take the kingdom of heaven by the holy
they are rich, and increased in violence of wrestling faith, and agonizing goods, and bave need of nothing ; utter prayer; few see, and fewer live in, the kingstrangers to hunger and thirst after righteous. doni of God, which is righteousness, peace, ness, they never importunately beg, never and joy in the Holy Ghost. In a word, many wrestle bard for the hidden manna: on the say, Lo! Christ is here; and lo! he is there; contrary, they sing, a requiem to their poor but few can consistently witness that the dead souls, and say, Soul, take thine ease, kingdom of heaven is within them.” thou hast goods laid up (in Christ) for many “ Many assert that the clothing of the years, yea for ever and ever;' and thus, king's daughter is of wrought gold, but few, like Demas, they go on talking of Christ and very few experience that she is all glorious heaven, but loving their ease, and enjoying within; and it is well if many are not bold this present world.'
enough to maintain that she is
« all full of “Yet many of these, like Herod, hear corruptions,' With more truth than ever we and entertain us gladly; but like bim also may say, they keep their beloved sin, pleading for it as a right eye, and saying it as a right hand. Ye different sects, who all declare To this day, their bosom corruption is not only
Lo! here is Christ, or Christ is there ;
Your stronger proofs divinely give alive, but indulged ; their treacherous Deli
And shew us where the Christians live: lah is hugged ; and their spiritual Agag walks Your claim alas! Ye cannot prove, delicately and boasts that the bitteruess of Ye want the genuine mark of love. death is past, and he shall never be hewed in pieces before the Lord : Nay, to dare so “The consequences of this bigh, and yet much as to talk of his dying before the body, lifeless profession, are as evident as they are becomes an almost unpardonable crime.” deplorable. Selfish views, sinister designs,
Forms and fair shows of godliness de inveterate prejudice, pitiful bigotry, party ceive us: many, whom our Lord might well spirit, self-sufficiency, contempt of others, compare to wbited sepulchres, look like envy, jealousy, making men offenders for a angels of light when they are abroad, and word,- possibly a scriptural word too, taking prove tormenting fiends at home. We see advantage of each other's infirmities, magnithein weep under sermons, we bear them fying innocent mistakes, putting the worst
construction upon each other's words, and is not faithful in the unrighteous mainton, actions, false accusations, backbiting, mam. God will not give bim the true riches."-The lice, revenge, persecution, and a hundred second being afraid to use the expression such evils prevail among religious people, to working for life ; although our bord who the great astonishment of the children of the must be allowed perfectly to understand bis world, and the unspeakable grief of the own gospel, uses it himself.“And the third, true Israélites that yet remain among us. granting without proper distinction, that a
“Bat this is not all. Some of our hearer's man is to do nothing in order to justification, doʻnot even keep to the great outlines of than which, says he nothing can be more false ; Heathen morality ; not satisfied practically as common sense dictates that a rebel must to reject Christ's declaration, that it is more lay“ down his arms before he can receive a biessed to give than to receité, they proceed to pardon from his prince, the pitch of covetousness and daring injus- This being premised, Mr. W. invites bis tice, as not to pay their just debts ; yea and fellow.labourers to review the whole affair ; to cheat and to extort, whenever they have a and while he does it he saps the foundations fair opportunity. How few of our Societies of the babels built by those who call Christ, are there where this, or some other evit has not Lord ! Lord ! without departing from ini. broken out, and given such shakes to the quitý. Who among Christians, says he is Ark of the Gospel, that had not the Lord now accepted of God? Not be that like wonderfully interposed, it must long ago bave Hyıneneus formerly believed, and concerning been overset ? And you koow how to this faith hath now made shipwreck :--Nor he that, day the name and truth of God are openly like Simon' Magus, actually believes with a blasphemed among the baptized Heathen, speculative, Antinomian faith ; but “ he through the Antinomian lives of many, who that now believes in Christ wiih a loving and say they are Jews when they are bot, but by obedient heart," or, as our Lord and St. their works declare they are of the Synas Paúl express it, he whose “ faith works by gogue of Satan. Ar your peril therefore my love, and whose love keeps God's commandBrethren, countenance theni not: I ktow ments." This must at once overthrow the you would not do it designedly, but you may pretensions of those whose feigned faith, indo it unawares; therefore take heed ;-more stead of producing a change in their hearts, than ever take heed to your doctrine. Let it only adds positiveness to their self-conceit, be scripturally evangelical : give not the chil- bitterness to their bad tempers, and perhaps dren's bread unto doğs: comfort not people licentiousness to their worldly lives. ibat do not mourn. When you should give Still carrying on his point be observes next, emetics do not administèr cordials, and by to the shame of loose Christians, that none are that means strengthen the hands of the accepted of God even among the Heathens, Hothful and unprofitable servantI repeat it but those that fear him and work righteousonce more, warp not to Antinomianism, and ness.” Nor is his observation improper (you, in order to this, • Take heed, 0 !.Take heed Sir, being judge,) for you tell us in your to your doctrine.”
fifth sermon, page 84,* that " Cornelius was Surely, Sir, there is no harm in this word a man of singular probity, humanity, and of exhortation; it is scriptural, and Mr. W's morality, and that a view of his character pen cannot make it heretical. Take we then may perhaps convince some who consider heed to the design of the directions which themselves as Christians, how far short they follow,
are even of his in perfect righteousness.” It is evident that, in order to keep his fel- This leads him, No. 3.
to touch upon low labourers clear from Antinomianism, he an important objection, that will naturally directs them first not to lean too much toward occur to the mind of a Protestant, and he Calvinism : and secondly not to talk of a jus: answers it by standing for the necessity of tified and sanctified Staté so ungardedly as works as firmly as he does against their merit in some, even Arminians, do; which tends to point of salvation ; thus cutting down with one misleud men, and relax their watchful atten- truly evangelical stroke, the arrogancy of tion to their internal and external works, that self-righteous Papists, and the delusion of is, to the whole of their inward tempers and licentious Protestants. And lest Antinooutward behaviour. See No. 8.
mians should, from the Protestant doctrine He produces three particulars, wherein he that good works have absolutely no merit in thinks that both he and his assistants in the point of salvation, take occasion to slight Lord's vineyard, having leaned too much to- them and live in sin, be very properly obwards Calvinism, each of wbich has a natu- serves, No. 6, that believers shall be rewurdral and strong tendency to countenance the ed in heaven, and are even often rewarded Antinomian delusion. The first, being afraid on earth, becuuse of their works, and accordor ashamed to maintain that every man is ing to their works, which he apprehends does fuit hfully to employ his every talent, though not so widely difier from secundum merita our Lord himself goes so far in maintaining operum, as Protestants, in in the heat of their this doctrine as to declare that "if any man
* Londont reprinted for J. Johnson, 1762.
contentions with the Papists, have been apt good foundation, that they may lay hold on to conclude. No. 7. he starts another objec. eternal life; we are temperate, to obtain an tion which Antinomians will naturally make incorruptible crown.-By grace ye 'are saved to St Peter's declaration, that God accepts through faith. In so doing thou shalt save those who fear him and work righteousness. thyself. Work out your own salvation. We
And now, Hon. Sir, reserving for another are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing place the consideration of his answer, let me as of ourselves. The Gentiles do by nature appeal to your candour. From the general the things contained in the law.—God justifitenor of these propositions, is it not evident, eth the ungodly and him that workelh not. He that Mr. W. (who is now among gospel-min. shall render to every man according to his isters what St. James formerly was among works, even eternal life to them who by patient the disciples, and Mr. Baxter among the pu- continuance in well doing seek for glory.-ritan divines, that is, the person peculiarly God forbid that I should glory in any thing commissioned by the bishop of souls, to de. save in the cross of Christ. As the truth of fend the gospel against the encroachments of God is in me, no man shall stop me of this Antinomians) aims at stemming the torrent of glorying, that I have kept myself from being their delusions, and not at all at injuring the burdensome.--I am the chief of sinners. very fundamental principles of Christianity, or have lived in all good conscience before God bringing " a dreadful heresy into the church.” until this day. We rejoice in Christ Jesus You may reply, that you do not so much and have no confidence in the flesh.
Our reconsider what he aims at doing, as what he joicing is this, the testimony of our consci. has actually done. Nay, Sir, the intention ence, that in simplicity and godly sincerity is what a candid judge (much more a loving we have had our conversation in the world. brother) should particularly consider. If Not by works of righteousness that we have aiming to kill a wild beast that attacks my done, but according to his mercy he sared us : friend, I unfortunately stab him, it is a Not of works lest any man should boast ; for if it “ melancholy accident;" but he wrongs me is of works, then it is no more grace, otherwise much, who represents it as a “ dreadful bar- work is no more work. I keep under my body barity.” In like manner, if Mr. W. has un. lest I inyself should be cast away. Be not dehappily wounded the truth, in attempting to ceived, whatsoever a man soweth that shall give the wolf in sheep's clothing a killing he also reap ; be that soweth little shall reap stroke, his mistake should rather be called little ; he that soweth to the spirit shall of “well meant legality” than dreadful heresy. the spirit reap life everlasting.--I am per
You possibly reply : “Let any one look suaded that neither death, nor life, neither at these Minutes, and say whether all the things present, nor things to come, &c. shall unawakened clergy in the land would not be able to separate us from the iove of God approve and receive them.” And what if which is in Christ Jesus. Those that fall away they did ? Would the propositions be the crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, worse barely for this ? Is nothing gospel but and put him to an open shame ; for the earth what directly shocks common sense ? And which beareth thorps and briars, is rejected, is the Apostle's Creed dreadfully heretical, and is nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be because all the carnal clergy of the church of burned. Some of the branches were broken off England, yea and of the church of Rome re. because of unbelief; thou standest by faith; be ceive it? At this strange rate we must give not high-minded but fear; continue in God's up the Bible itself, for all the Socinians re- goodness, otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. ceive it. Ashamed of taking farther notice Now, Sir, permit me to beg you would lay of an argument by which every Papist might your hand upon your heart, and say whether attack the reasonable simplicity of our com
malicious intidels bave not a fairer show of munion service, and defend the gross absur- reason to raise wicked men against St. Paul, dity of transubstantiation, I come to an ob- than you have to raise good men against Mr. jection of greater weight.
W.? And whether a grain of candour with “ Mr. W. contradicts himself. He has which you would reconcile the seeming* hitherto preached salvation by faith, and contradictions of the great apostle, would not now he talks of salvation by works us a con
be more than sufficient to reconcile the seein. dition : be bas a thousand times offered a free ing inconsistencies of the great minister pardon to the worst of sinners, and now he whom you have so warmly attacked ? bas the assurance to declare, that a man is to Some persons indeed complain aloud that do something in order to justification. Where “Mr. W. in his new scheme of salvation by will you find such inconsistencies?” Where! works, as a condition, fairly renounces In the Old and New Testament, and especi. ally in the epistles of the great Preachers of * Most of these seeming inconsistencies of St. Paul free justification, and salvation by faith.
and those which are charged upon Mr. W. will be re
conciled with the greatest ease, by considering the two There you will see many such seeming incon- axioms mentioned in my first letter. lu the former sistencies as these.-Eternal life is the gift of part of the imaginary contradictions, those servants of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Charge God make use of the first gospel-axiom, in the latter
part they employ the second, and thus declare the the rich to lay up in store for themselves a whole counsel of God.
Christ's blood and righteousness." J grant Third Letter to the Rev. Mr. Shirley.
HONOURED AND Rev. Sir,
We have seen how exceedingly com-
Again the doctrine of the atonement had resy in their ear; but not in your's, Sir, you
seem to carry your anti-calvinistical notions
ther on to nearer and far brighter advances,
“Christ only did that to the hu- general redemption, and end with perfection,
of dreadful heresy does not rest upon these
words, “ We have leaned too much towards
Calvinism.” Pass we then to the next, in
which Mr. W. begins to show wherein he
1. “ With regard to man's faithfulness. The name that Bishop Latimer gives to the Papists. Our Lord himself taught us to use the expres