The Modern Plasterer Detected and His Untempered Mortar Discovered.
TO MR. HUNTINGTON, S.S.
NO. 29, WINCHESTER ROW, ST. MARY-LE-BONE.
REV. AND DEAR PASTOR,
HAVING been an eye and an ear witness to the success of your labours in the ministry; under the blessing of God having reaped much benefit from it myself, and being well acquainted with your doctrines and manner of life, I cannot but feel myself sensibly injured when I hear your ministry reproached and slighted. Contention, except for the truth's sake, is what I would ever wish to shun; but, when the truths of God and its advocates are hung up as the butts of envy and party rage, I think myself in duty bound to step forward and defend both it and them. It was with much regret that I heard the opposition there is making against you by a set of men who call themselves ministers; a great number of whom have entered into a connexion with the Rev. Mr. M. of Holywell Mount, or rather a combination, under the title of "The Evangelic Association." I hope by this they do not mean to insinuate there are no evangelists beside themselves; if they do, I am sorry to say the conduct of some among them is such as must lead many to suspect they have sadly mistaken the import of their title.
If laying aside the simplicity of the gospel and the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ; introducing questions from the forge of human brains, mixed with incoherent fragments of philosophy and vain deceit, and raising in the minds of people envying and strife, be doing the work of an evangelical society, they have not mistaken the term.
If assembling in vestries, to propose hard questions over soft bowls; traducing and reviling the characters of laborious, faithful, and successful ministers, by false insinuations to prejudice the minds of the godly; aiming at dominion over churches and ministers; conforming to the world; enrobing their persons; taking the uppermost seats in the synagogues; preferring titles, vestments, altars, organs, painted tables, pictures of angels, trumpets, crucifixes, and the insignias, or mark of the Romish host IHS, be the delight of evangelists, these certainly appear in character.
But, if levelling God's wholesome truths at the consciences of sinners; if plainness of apparel and appearance, and plainness of speech: if enforcing the power of religion, describing the Spirit's work, and insisting on the necessity of it; if informing people's judgments, and aiming to lead their souls into the liberty of the gospel, be doing the work of an evangelist; it is clear, both by their ministry and conduct, that they have entirely mistaken the term.
Being informed that the first discourse that was to be levelled against you was to be at Mr. T****end's meeting at Rotherhithe, out of love to you, to your hearers, and to the religious world, I thought it my duty to be present on the occasion. A party spirit was the subject of discussion; and I soon perceived you was the object shot at; on which occasion the gospel of Jesus Christ, and his efficacious Spirit, was left entirely out, to make room for the malignant spirit of the slanderer to shew itself. Much rhetoric, logic, and stone harpsichord music, was introduced, to shew what a party spirit was, where it originated, the consequences of it, and, lastly, how it might be cured. As the cure of this was what every sincere soul desired to be informed of, and waited anxiously for; behold, after much labour and many arguments, firm oppositions were advised, restraint on the passions recommended, &c. &c.
How astonishing, Sir, that men, who take to themselves the name and office of ministers, should spend their time in reviling the servants of God, rejecting the scriptures, and call a spouting-club by the venerable name of an Evangelical Association; and all under a pretence of solving hard questions, and censuring party spirits, when every schoolboy may learn from the Bible that there are but two party spirits in the world, Christ at the head of one, and the devil at the head of the other; for, as Christ is the head of every one blessed with the Spirit of truth, so Satan is the head of every hypocrite who is influenced by a railing, slandering, reviling, and ridiculing spirit.
Nothing but the Spirit of Christ can ever unite sinners to God, or mankind to one another; when that Spirit operates, then, but not till then, shall the wolf dwell with the lamb, the leopard lie down with the kid, and a little child shall lead them.
In this discourse, Sir, you was represented in a shocking point of view, as one of a blood-thirsty spirit, and accused of taking texts that wise men would shudder, and modest men blush at. Thus the scriptures did not escape the ridicule of that empty, graceless, unexperienced, and inconsistent philosopher.
At the conclusion of this convocation we were informed that another meeting was appointed to be held at a Mr. M's chapel in Artillery-lane, and the subject (or, if you please the text, if you can find such a one in the Bible) for their further debate was to be, 'Is the law now made void, and what sentiments may be termed Antinomian?' This was to be performed by one who was formerly by trade a plasterer, but is now a dauber with untempered mortar. It is a Mr. C. of the new chapel in Church Street, Mile End New Town. With some others, I attended the performance, and secured a few sheets of paper, all the artillery that was at your head; and have sent the miscellaneous body to you, Sir, to be dissected, anatomised and exhibited; for, as for this man, he has made void both law and gospel; therefore we desire you to tell us once more, from the press, whether you do make void the law through faith, or whether you establish the law. Your compliance will greatly oblige,
Rev. and Dear Sir,
A few lovers of the truth, and sincere lovers of you for the truth's sake.
THE MODERN PLASTERER DETECTED.
A Sermon delivered against Mr. HUNTINGTON, at Mr. M's Chapel in Artillery Lane, on Thursday the 16th of August 1787, by Sir HAM COTTISH, barren of light, and barren of life, beginning in manner and form following:
THE question assigned for me this evening to explain and enforce to you is, Whether is the moral law abolished or not? What obligations do we lie under to it? And what are those principles, or sentiments, which may properly be called Antinomianism? And, as the foundation of this subject, I would refer you to the third chapter of Paul's epistle to the Romans, thirty-first verse, "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law."
I am surprised, Sir, at the conduct of you and the rest of your Evangelical Association in not beginning with the word of God; he tells us to preach his word unto the people, whether they will hear or forbear. God's meaning in his word ought to be sought out and enforced; all matter should be drawn from thence, and applied to the people, with an honest appeal to God and conscience; and, when a man has done that, he has delivered his own soul. But I suppose you were conscious that there is not a text in God's word that would supply your malice with slanderous artillery against either my life or doctrine; you, therefore, chose to spin one out of your own brains, when they were properly stirred with a consecrated bowl of negus; and the word of God must be brought in as subservient to your wicked designs, and for a cloak of maliciousness; while you discover your ignorance, in levelling your malice at those that are more useful and successful than yourself, and dishonour the cause that refuses to honour you.
You open your battery thus: 'Brethren, I will not spend your time,' it should have been, I will not intrude upon or take up your time 'to-night with needless apologies; I am persuaded of your candour; but this I will say, that this subject is of infinite importance, and is of as great importance as any doctrine contained within the circle of Christianity; and that to oppose it is to sap the foundations of all religion, both moral and divine.'
These are home strokes. Such flourishes as these are as terrible as the brandished sword of Don Quixote, who, in his heroic frenzy, challenged even a windmill to a duel.
The moral law, you say, is the foundation of all religion, both moral and divine I read in my Bible, there is no other foundation that any man can lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ, who was laid in God's decree from all eternity, and therefore called an elect stone; and that from all eternity he was set up as the only head of influence, "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Yea, all the fullness of grace and eternal life is in him, and was given us of God in him, and in no other. And, if all spiritual life be in him, then it is from him, as the everlasting Father, that we receive it. If all spiritual blessings are given us of God in him, and are derived from him, then he is the fountain of them; and, if there is no other foundation that God has laid but him, then all our faith, hopes, and expectations, must be built on him; and, if so, he is the foundation of all religion. The law was added because of transgression, that sin by the law might become exceeding sinful; for we know, that where there is no law there is no transgression; "I had not known sin but by the law, for I had not known lust except the law had said thou shalt not covet." It is the ministration of death and condemnation to sinners. They that trust in Moses are accursed by him, for "as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse." If so, it is the foundation of every guilty sinner's eternal misery, ruin, and destruction, instead of religion; and so the hardened wretch will find that dies under the dreadful curse of that divine law; for, if there was no law, what has a sinner to fear? Where there is no law, there is no transgression. Sin is a transgression of the law; and, as all have sinned, all are condemned by the law. And the law gives sin its destroying venom, and death its sting; "The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law."
As to moral religion, distinct from divine, I do not understand it, nor you neither. If by the word 'moral' you mean the law, then all morality, or moral religion, must consist in obedience to that law. But, as the law is spiritual, and man is carnal, sold under sin; and as the law commands love to God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength; while man's carnal mind is enmity against God, not subject to his law, nor can be; then man can give the spiritual law no spiritual obedience, because he cannot love God; and on these two commandments, love to God and love to the neighbour, hang all the law and the prophets. If so, there is no morality, or moral religion, but in those happy souls who have the righteousness of Christ on them, and the love of God shed abroad in them. "The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in such, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit." But you go on, being first in your own cause to appear righteous, and I, your honest neighbour, come after to search you, whether you are so or not, Prov. xviii. 17.
'All I wish for is, that one more suitable to the task it had fallen to, to have discussed the same; but you will bear with me patiently, while I endeavour, after my best manner, to explain it to you.' It should have been worded thus: all that I wish for is, that this task had fallen to a more able hand.
This apology seems needless; for, however equal you may think yourself to this task, yet my thoughts are far otherwise; I think there is no man more proper to slander the servants of God, and their service, than such an one as yourself. A man that can desert the honest labour of the hod, trowel, brush, lime, and hair, and jump into a surplice, gown and cassock, read the established church service, without any call or ordination either from God or man, and run to Oxford or Cambridge for a few incoherent scraps of Greek, while unable to write common sense in his mother tongue; who hides his religion and profession, in order to skulk by stealth into the establishment, though God discover his hypocrisy, blast his measures, and resist his pride; is qualified for any thing but the ministry of God's word, and a profession of his name. Now comes your explanation, such an one as it is:
'When Moses smote the rock of old, water came forth, which followed Israel, and refreshed and comforted them in a weary land; and God of his infinite mercy grant that, while we are speaking concerning the law of the Lord, some refreshing comforts, some streams of happiness, may flow down to the refreshment of every mind in the presence of God to-night.'
If you smite the law in order to get refreshment, you had need to smite hard, for you will as soon get blood from a post as refreshment from the law. "He therefore that ministreth to you the spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doth he it by the [smiting] works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" Gal. iii. 5. That which refreshes a soul must quicken or nourish life; but there is no such thing in the law; "for, had there been a law given that could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law." "I do not frustrate the grace of God, for, if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain," Gal. iii. 5. However, if you have a mind to smite, you may. You may get fire from the law, though you cannot get the water of life. God says it is a fiery law, Deut. xxxiii. 2. And take heed, Sir, that it does not serve you as it did Israel of old; it set them on fire, but they knew it not; it burned them, but they laid it not to heart, Isaiah xlii. 25. God calls his wrath, revealed in his law against sin, a fire that is kindled in his anger, which shall burn to the lowest hell, Deut. xxxii. 22. If so, the damned are the best judges of its contents, and they get no refreshment from it; for Christ says that those smiters of the law have called even to beggars for a drop of water to cool their tongue, Luke vi. 24, which they had no call to do if the law was so fraught with refreshment as you pretend.
I wish, Sir, that you would desire your schoolmistress to set you a few more scripture lessons before you attempt to appear again in the office of an usher. Paul says that the rock which Moses smote was typical of Christ, who went in the cloud; if so, his smiting of it was typical of the Saviour's being smitten with the curse of the law, when he was made a curse for us, and died the just for the unjust. The water that refreshed Israel was figurative of the water and blood that ran from his side at his death. By his blood which cleanses from all sin, we are purified; and by the spirit, or water of life, we are renewed and made fruitful. This is the refreshment that satisfied Israel; "for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ," 1 Cor. x. 4.
This doctrine of yours, Sir, is Antinomianism; and the worst that ever was preached in the world. "Is the law against the promises of God? God forbid," Gal. iii. 21. If refreshment comes from the law, then life must come from the law; and, if so, righteousness must come from the law also, for they go hand in hand. By Christ we have justification unto life. "Had there been a law given that could have given life, righteousness should have come by the law;" and, if so, as before observed, then Christ is dead in vain. This doctrine sets aside the bounties of mercy and the benefits of the cross at once, for "if they that are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise of God of none effect." This is Antinomianism; and woe to such Antinomians as make void either the law of faith or the law of works. But you proceed in your arguments, and I after you to overturn them.
'The moral law stands distinguished from all other laws, and is properly called moral, as it has respect to its duties both unto God and unto man; our Lord distinguished it very plainly from the ceremonial law, and as plainly from the judicial law. The law of God appeared in very early times, and was written upon the heart of man in Paradise; this is called the law of nature, or the law of innocency.'
Instead of the moral law of God being distinguished from all other laws, I always thought it was the only basis and standard of all laws; and, instead of its being called moral, it ought to be called spiritual, holy, just, and good; and, instead of being called moral with respect to its duties, it ought to be called good with respect to the commands and requirements of it. Its being distinguished from the judicial law by the Saviour is a mystery to me; for I never knew that the Jews had any law to go by but the law of Moses, nor had they any authority to arraign or put any man to death but by that law; and, instead of the Saviour's distinguishing that from the judicial law of the Jews, he charges them with assuming Moses' chair, binding burdens on the people, robbing widows, and binding of consciences, by teaching for doctrines the commandments of men, and so making God's law of none effect by their traditions, and murdering the prophets of God by them, which the scriptures assert to be their pride, their hypocrisy, and their ruin. Had they believed Moses, they would have believed the Saviour, for he wrote of him; but, as they believed not Moses' writings, it was not likely they should believe his words.
With respect to the moral and ceremonial laws, you might easily have brought them both to one point; for Christ is the end of the moral law, as you call it, for righteousness, and the truth of the ceremonial law as a priest and sacrifice.
As for the law of nature, and the law of innocency, these require a little defining. The law of God appears more or less on the thoughts and consciences of heathens; and heathens are said to be a law unto themselves: but the original copy of this is the law of God. And, if by the law of innocency you mean the law that God gave to Adam, it is the same: but, if you mean by the law of nature any law that nature, or natural men, have given, they have always been contrary to the law of God, and are therefore styled the traditions, commandments, and doctrines of men; such as are enforced by carnal power or policy, and by which the commandments of God are generally made of none effect. But you proceed on your journey, and I after your fast as I can.
'This is a law that is binding upon all mankind, as the apostle has reference to when speaking of the heathen world, who sinned without the written or revealed law, that these should be judged by the law of nature, which was written in every man's heart, or that law which is within excusing and accusing, according to the nature of every action.'
The law, whether written on paper or impressed on a sinner's conscience, is really binding, as you assert, for Paul says it genders to bondage, and bond slaves such must remain, unless the Son make them free. The ministration of death gives no hope of life; it keeps those that adhere to it for salvation through the fear of death all their lifetime subject to bondage. But Christ came to deliver his people from the bondage of death; and those that have the Saviour's easy yoke on their necks, or are enabled to look into the perfect law of liberty, will be blessed in their deeds; though not for them; and, feeling his love in their hearts, and being sensibly upheld with his free spirit, they will stand fast in the liberty wherewith he has made them free, and will not again be entangled with the yoke of bondage.
The law of heathens gives no hope. It is God's law, written on the sinner's heart by God's Spirit, that brings the sinner into covenant with God, in which he finds life and peace, by faith in Christ.
'The moral law is distinguished by its promise, its precept, and its punishment, and is divided thus into three parts.'
You should have worded it thus; its precepts, its promises, and its punishments. You should have set the precepts first, for it commands before it promises; and as it has got more precepts and punishments than one, they should have been expressed in the plural.
Its promises are these, both of which are preceded by the precepts; "Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land;" which is the first commandment, with promise; and David tells us what this promised blessing is; "the days of our years are threescore years and ten, and if by reason of strength, they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow." The next commandment, with promise, is this; "Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and judgments: which, if a man do, he shall live in them," Lev. xviii. 5. Here is doing first, and life for doing, you can bring no other promises from the law than these. But as no man can do, no man, by this law, can live; "for had there been a law given, that could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law." The law is a killing letter, and curses every sinner that is under it; and he that escapes its binding yoke, its killing power, and its dreadful curse, is the believer in Christ, and him only. The just man shall live by his faith; but the law is not of faith, nor is faith of the law, Gal. iii. 11, 12. We may say of you, as Paul did of himself when in a state of nature, you are alive without the law, for you never felt its killing power; but if the command was to come to you, as it did to Paul, your sin would revive, as Paul's did, and you would die to all hope in the law as well as he. No man that lies under the sentence of death would ever expect life from that sentence but you. But you go on.
'This law continues, and will continue when time is no more; for though it may, in this life, differ from what it may be found in the next life; it is certain, that, with some little difference, the moral law will pass into the heavens with us. And we do not err when we say, that God even governs angels round his throne with it; for if ever the highest angel there could for a moment cease to love God, and cease to love his fellow spirits, that moment would he transgress the holy law, and be like those bound in chains of darkness.'
Here you exercise yourself in high things, this wisdom is too wonderful for me, I cannot attain unto it; and you, with your Association, are wise above what is written in asserting it. Paul, who was caught up into Paradise, brought no such things as these down.
As to the law differing in the next life from what it is in this, is, what I will never grant. I believe the law to be like its Author, without difference, without variableness, or shadow of turning. This is the doctrine of a new board, or an old wife's fable revived; and instead of establishing the law, it is making it void; but "the legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools." If the law could be altered, there might be a mitigation of the sufferings of the damned; but as it will never alter, they have no ground to hope for ease; and as it will never be repealed, they have no ground to hope for a gaoldelivery.
As to the moral law passing into heaven with us, is strange talk. If you had said, that love to God, which the law of God commands, but gives not, which is shed abroad in the believer's heart by the Holy Ghost, will go into heaven with him, you would have said right; for charity never faileth, even though prophecy shall cease and knowledge vanish.
As to the angels round the throne being governed by the moral law, which you say that you and your combination do not err when they assert; I say, if you do not err, you talk without book; for I believe the moral law, as well as the gospel, was given to us, not to angels; "Unto you, 0 men, I call," says God, "and my voice is to the sons of men."
I read nothing about the law of God differing, nor about its passing with the saints into heaven, nor of God's governing angels about his throne with it: I read that the law was added because of transgression, but I never read that it was added because of perfection. It was given that sin by the law might become exceeding sinful, but not that glory in heaven might become exceeding illustrious. Glory is to be displayed in another glass. Nor does the law reveal the glory of God as the face of Christ does. The terrors of the law of works will be displayed in hell, but in heaven. God will display the riches of his grace in glory, not by the law, but by Christ Jesus.
This, Sir, is another branch of Antinomianism. For if you, and your Association, who are to take the law with you, as you suppose, into heaven, be heirs, "faith is made void, and the promise of God of none effect." He is an Antinomian, Sir, that makes void either the law of works, or the law of faith.
Your supposition of angels ceasing to love, and falling into endless darkness, is a doctrine that sprung from a bowl of negus. The angels stand on no such brittle foundations as you have laid for them. All things in heaven and earth are reconciled by Christ; He is therefore the head of all principality and power, Col. ii. 10. Angels are elected in Christ, and confirmed in him, 1 Tim. v. 21, that made them; therefore take away your glass stool, and shake not the foothold of angels with your electricity. Now we proceed again.
'What we shall then offer to establish the law, as being a perpetual obligation, will be founded, in the first place, upon the nature of God; the evidence we have from his word; the universal delight which all the saints of God take in him, and from the example of our blessed Jesus Christ; from the nature of God as the sovereign ruler over all; and from that relationship that is between us and him, as his rational creatures.'
You had better, Sir, have established or founded the law in the hand of justice; law, justice, and judgment, always go together: "If I whet my sword," says God, "and my hand take on judgment, I will render vengeance to mine and reward them that hate me." This and hater of God is every sinner in the world that is not reconciled by faith in Christ; "the carnal mind is enmity against God, it is not subject to his law, nor indeed can be." The law shews the infinite distance and disproportion there is between God and the sinner, by revealing the holiness of God and the vileness of the sinner, and will keep all that cleave to it for life at an infinite distance from God to all eternity, if they die under it.
The relationship that is between God and the saints is not brought about by the law, but by the Mediator, that stood in the gap between the Lawgiver and the rebel; by the glorious Daysman, who laid his hand upon both, was it brought about; He made peace by the blood of his cross;" and relationship is obtained by faith in the word of reconciliation; and all this is of grace, not of works; it comes from Christ, not from the law; the saints were predestinated to the adoption of sons before any law was ever published. Nor can this relationship, or union, take place between Christ and us, till we reckon ourselves dead to the law; then we may be married to another; to attempt the match before the law be dead is an act of adultery.
The relationship that stands between God and us, as rational creatures, affords but little comfort; but the relationship that takes place between God and us, by his everlasting love to us, and absolute choice of us in Jesus, by which he has made us accepted in the Beloved, is pregnant with infinite comfort and satisfaction. Now you and I will go on again, only you shall go foremost.
'God, as an infinite and universal sovereign, might have given to man what laws he pleased; he might have given to man such laws as would have been very hurtful, painful, and destructive. God might have done so, I say.'
God might have given; God has given such laws as he thought proper. As to his giving laws painful, hurtful, or destructive, we know the Judge of all the earth will surely do right; but as he is determined to stain the pride of all human glory, to humble the proud boaster, and entangle or catch such crafty wise gentlemen as you in their own craftiness; he has given statutes and judgments suitable for such a purpose, that their pride, their wisdom, and themselves, might perish together, for seeking life where he says it is not to be had; "Wherefore I gave them statutes also that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live, and I polluted them in their own gifts," Ezek. xx. 25, 26. Now we shall set off again.
'These laws were for the happiness of man, for they stand inseparable. The law of God stands inseparable to the happiness of mankind.'
God did not say to fallen Adam, when he called him, that his happiness stood inseparable to these words, "in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. "He pointed him to a seed that should destroy the devil, to a sacrifice also, and to a better covering than that of his own contriving. I will answer this by a simile: suppose a thief has met a gentleman on the road, and robbed him of a groat, by our law that thief is tried and condemned. By his own crime he has brought the sentence of death on himself, and therefore his destruction is owing to himself. This is the case with us sinners; God says, ye have robbed me, Mal. iii. 8. The groat shall represent the least sin; If thou keep the whole law, and offend in one point, thou art guilty of all, James ii. 10. And being out of Christ, thou art cast and condemned, both by law and conscience; "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him," John iii. 36. Then the case stands thus: O man, thou hast destroyed thyself, Hos. xiii. 9.
Go thou to the cells of Newgate, and say to that condemned thief, under the sentence of death, as you have said to poor sinners here, that his happiness stands inseparable to the law; and his answer will be this: the law is not made to condemn a righteous man, or a man that is obedient to the laws of his country, but I am a thief, I have broken the law, I have been fairly tried by it, and am justly condemned, and now lie under the sentence of it, and must die the death. This is just the sinner's case. The law is not made to condemn a righteous man, nor a soul that God has justified by faith; but God says, "there is none righteous [by nature], no not one," Rom. iii. 10. Then by the law every mouth is stopped, and the whole world become guilty before God, Rom. iii. 19; therefore telling the thief that his happiness stands inseparable to the law, will afford him but little comfort. He will tell you that the law is good, but that he is evil, and therefore the law hath wrought death in him, by that which is good, or by its own goodness, Rom. vii. l2, 13. He will own that the law was his adversary; it was that adversary, says he, that delivered me to the judge, and the judge passed the sentence of that law upon me, and then delivered me to the officer of Newgate, and he cast me into this prison, Luke xii. 58; where I am to lie till the day of execution, and then to hang by the neck till I am dead. Do you then tell the condemned thief, as you have told poor sinners in the beginning of this farrago, that you will smite the law, as Moses did the rock, and get him some refreshment from it? He will answer you, in the language of Paul, the law is the ministration of death and condemnation as a sinner; the judge has passed the sentence of the law on me, and it is not in the power of the law ever to take it off; that law can never be repealed. Therefore, sir, I can find no ground of hope in it, and by it a condemned criminal can never live; your pointing me therefore perpetually to the law is only rubbing fresh brine in my bleeding wounds, and sinking my burdened soul under that sentence, which I could wish might never enter my thoughts these few days that I have to live. And if he should add, sir, you know only the letter of the law; it never served its death warrant on you; you are alive without the law; a stranger to its spiritual meaning; a stranger to its intolerable sentence; you only expose your ignorance of the matter, and betray your foolishness; and when he has baffled your logic, exposed your ignorance, condemned you by your own arguments, and stopped your mouth, then tack about, and do the work of an evangelist.
Tell the condemned thief, that there is a Prince of peace at court, who is the king's own son, and has appeared for thousands as a surety, by obeying the law that they have broken, and by dying under the sentence that they have incurred, and is now a Mediator, an Advocate, and an Intercessor, and that every case he has in hand he has always carried with honour. Tell him, this is a new and living way; a way in which the king's pardon and the gift of eternal life has been conveyed to lions, and that all who are thus pardoned are adopted into the royal family; and then labour to persuade him into the faith of this; and if faith comes on the thief by his hearing you, as God says it shall, Rom. x. 17, it will shortly lighten the weight of the sentence, burst the bands of slavish fear, and cause a lively hope to rise, superior to the sentence of death. He will then look to the Prince of peace for salvation, as he is commanded to do; "look to me and be ye saved;" and when he obtains his pardon, he will love the Lawgiver for his clemency; the Prince for his wonderful undertaking; and he will love the law because it is good, and because he knows it cannot condemn one that is adopted into the royal family, and united to the Prince of peace. Then tell the adopted thief, that he must look to the law as his only rule, and he will tell you, that the love of his Prince, shed abroad in his heart, the law of love and gratitude within him, constrains to obedience more than all the written rules in the world. This is logic, sir, that will baffle all the dog Latin, or galipot Latin, that you are master of.
If you never felt the weight and terror of these things, you never was called to the ministry; and if you know not how to apply them, you have no more right to appear in a pulpit, than you have on the throne of Great Britain; and would cut a better figure with the pail of white-wash, the brush, and trowel, than you will at daubing the minds and consciences of poor sinners with such untempered mortar as this.
'God has made man a law, by which he will govern his actions, and by which man is to be accountable to him.'
It is true, with respect to all sinners out of Christ, and wo be to that man that is under this government; and wo be to that man that is to be accountable to God for all his actions under that law; for "as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse;" and, "by the deeds of the law shall no flesh living be justified." But the saints' comfort is, that they "are not under the law, but under grace;" and that God has justified them freely by faith, and declares that the just man shall live by his faith, Hab. ii. 4. This is the saints' blessing; they are justified from all things from which they never could be justified by the law of Moses. All that cleave to the law are without God, and without hope in the world; and although your Ishmaelitish race is more numerous than the free-born sons of Zion, yet God styles them all desolate; your mother has no husband, and your bond brethren have no father in heaven; you that feed on the law are but bastards at best, for your mother Hagar never was married; "more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord."
'The law still stands as an obligation binding upon men, and by which he will be accountable to God, as that law which is the instrument of Jehovah's government, and which is delivered to us for our instruction, and is food to our minds. It is very true that many will not grant what we here affirm.'
Whosoever denies your affirmation with respect to yourself is wrong; for a man that is hoodwinked and blinded by Moses' veil, as you are, stumbling on the dark mountains, a stranger to faith, smiting the law for comfort, and calling it the food of your mind, is under the binding power of the law, and its curse too. We know the law is a yoke of bondage to all such, which neither the apostles nor their fathers were able to bear while in a state of nature, as you are; in this sense it is binding indeed, and if you die under the bondage of it, and are accountable to God in the great day for every transgression thereof, according to your doctrine, you will be damned for ever; for it neither gives life, nor shews mercy. And though it is the food of your mind, yet it never was the food of God's saints; they fed upon Christ, the bread of life; but Moses gave them not that bread, but God our Father giveth us the true bread, that we might eat thereof and not die; he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever, John vi. 31?35. This is the spiritual meat that the Israelites of old fed on; they that were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness, Jer. xxxi. 2, and food too.
But you complain that some will not grant what we affirm; if you mean with respect to yourselves, you say false, for I do grant it; but if you mean, that the saints of God will not allow the law to be the food of their minds and the yoke of their necks, you say true; for there is not a penman in the Bible, nor a believer in all the world, that will grant that the food of eternal life can spring from the sentence of everlasting death and damnation. The bread of life, Christ says, is the gift of God, and is promised to faith; but the law is not of faith; the law gives neither life nor food; both are promised blessings of a covenant of grace. And though you, sir, and the rest of your combination, affirm to the contrary, Christ contradicts you all, and says, "Moses gave you not that bread from heaven;" they that ate of the manna, and they that fed on the law, are both dead together.
After I have shaved off your downy beards, and docked your skirts close by the buttocks, I hope you will tarry at Jericho till your beards be grown, before you return again, 2 Sam. x. 4, 5.
'Paul was aware of this, that men would be ready to charge him with delivering sentiments contrary to the law; so far from establishing the law, they would conclude that he rejected it. Paul states a question, and answers it, Do we then make void the law through faith? So far from it, I have endeavoured to establish it upon an immoveable footing, and to represent it to all men as a law of infinite importance, and of immutable obligation.'
I wish you would leave Paul out of your combination; for he never taught any man, or men, to bring a railing accusation against the just, nor to belie them that love and fear God, and walk upright before him. Paul says nothing about associations, evangelical societies, boards, benches, or combinations meeting together to foment each others malice, and provoke each others jealousy, in behalf of their own honour, against those that labour in the word and doctrine. Nor does he allow men to spin texts out of their own brains, and make God's truth a nose of wax to fit a fallen countenance, or raise a sinking reputation; nor yet to make it a cloak of maliciousness, to cover their villainy, while they are condemning the just by a perversion of the truth. Paul says, professors destitute of grace shall heap to themselves teachers, such as you, having itching ears; that their ears shall be turned from the truth to fables; and that men of corrupt minds shall start up, as you have done, speaking perverse things, to draw disciples after them: that novices will be lifted up with pride, and jump into fancied orders, or skulk to a college, until they fall into the condemnation of the devil; and that they will turn aside to vain jangling, desiring to be teachers of the law, as you do, knowing neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm; which is your case. Paul never tells young coxcombs to stuff their noddles with scraps of Greek, crumbs of Hebrew, and incoherent shreds of dog Latin; he tells us that such are barbarians to the people that men of fables, as well as old wives, shall both keep silence in the church; for our faith is not to stand in man's wisdom, but in God's power. Paul never told me to cringe to the heels of old widows, for the sake of a little short stuff to nurse my pride, and indulge my laziness; but bids me beware of that sort of men "which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
The irreverend Mr. Belly of Gravesend, in Kent, had no warrant from Paul, nor any other inspired penman, when he charged the word of God with impurity, and me with taking texts that a modest man would blush at. Paul says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine," &c. 2 Tim. iii. 16; if so, every word of God must be pure, Prov. xxx. 5. Paul never charges a man with endeavouring to swim a city with blood for adhering to, and attempting to declare, the whole counsel of God to sinners. Nor did he ever command the reverend Mr. Pinnersohall to call a saved sinner a balloon filled with inflammable air, that was shortly to burst to pieces, instead of the grace of God. Nor did he ever teach you, sir, to take my sermon to pieces, unless you were able to contradict it, or put a better one together.
As far as I am acquainted with Paul, he is together against your proceedings, and as opposite to these your doctrines as the Alcoran is to the Bible. He tells us, that all are in the flesh, and bond children, that are under the law; which you say is binding to you. He says that no flesh living shall be justified by the deeds of the law; by which you say you are all to be accountable to God in the great day. You get your food where Paul got his death. You say the law is the food of your minds; but Paul says, I, through the law's commanding and killing power, am dead to the law's empty promise, that I might live unto God, under the Spirit's influence. I am crucified with Christ, by his death in my stead; nevertheless I live, because Christ my life lives; yet not I, but Christ liveth in my heart by faith; "and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God; for, if righteousness came by the law, then Christ is dead in vain," Gal. ii. 20, 21. This is Paul's food, though it be not yours.
You establish the law, with all its binding power, upon your own necks, and say you are to be accountable to God by that, which if you are, I say you will be damned; for heaven and earth shall pass away before one jot or tittle of the law shall fail. But the saints of God, who are blessed with faithful Abraham, are not under the law, but under grace; and Paul declares of such as have God's love in their hearts, and the righteousness of God on them, that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in them, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit, Rom. viii. 1. Paul says that by faith the believer comes to Mount Zion, not to Sinai; to God the judge of all, and to the Mediator of the New Testament, where he is not with out the law of love to his reconciled Father, but under a magnified law to Christ, his surety and mediator.
Paul levels the whole contents of the law, as a covenant of works, at such gentlemen as you, who make it the food of your minds, and says, "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped," Rom. iii. 19; from boasting, if not with food. Paul knew that God wrought in the saints both to will and to do of his own good pleasure; and that the love of Christ constraineth those that are his, for they receive grace for obedience to the faith; and they find that the grace of God teaches them to deny ungodliness and worldly lust; and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this evil world. Grace destroys the dominion of sin; it reigns not in them, for they are not under the law, but under grace. But these, I find, are doctrines that you know nothing about. Solomon says, that a fool, while he holdeth his peace, shall be accounted a wise man. But you go on to open your mouth, and I after you to expose your foolishness.
The delight that the saints have always taken in the law of God confirms all that I have said. Job says, "it is sweeter than the honey and the honeycomb." Now when he speaks of the word you are not to suppose that he excludes the law; it would be false, and an antiscriptural idea for us to entertain in our minds. When he says it is sweeter than honey, and more desirable than his daily food, he includes the moral law. The Psalmist David frequently, and how high, does he extol and speak of this law of God? If any person reads the nineteenth Psalm, there David tells us that the law is perfect, converts the soul, that it enlightens the mind, that it rejoices the heart; I say, if any one reads the nineteenth Psalm, where David expresseth himself thus concerning the law, they would not only be filled with impiety, but blasphemy, to suppose that the law of God is of no use to us.
Having chased you out from under Paul's wings, I find you have now taken shelter under the patrimony of Job and David, where I must unkennel you again.
First, with respect to Job. Job knew where to find the law as his friend, which you never have yet. Job knew that the law was against him as a sinner; hence he says, "God hath sewed up mine iniquity in a bag. I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent;" which he could not be if he were accountable to God by the law; for he owned he had sinned, and therefore says, "How should man be just with God? If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand." "If I speak of strength, lo! he is strong; and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead?" Job saw contents of God's law, and says, "Put me in a surety with thee;" one that can deliver me from the law, and make peace between God and me; "Neither is there any Day'sman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both." From the curse of the law Job expected to be redeemed, and says, I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth." And by this Surety he expected redemption from the law; and that law, disarmed of its curse and condemning power, he expected to find in the heart of his Day'sman, as the law was put into the ark under the Mosaic economy: hence he calls the Saviour the-mercy-seat, where he knew he should be justified and delivered both from the curse of the law, and the vengeance of his Judge: "O that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat; I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments. There [namely at the mercy-seat] the righteous might dispute with him; so should I be delivered for ever from my Judge," Job xxiii. 7. But by your doctrine there is no deliverance; for you frustrate the grace of God, and make void the law of faith.
You say, that the saints are to be accountable to God by the law at the great day. If so, they must perish, for "by the deeds of the law shall no flesh living be justified." Nor will a saint's best days or best duties stand the scrutiny of the law, and so you will find it; for, if an angel in heaven, by ceasing to love, could become like them that are bound in chains of darkness, what will become of you by this doctrine, who art a composition of blindness, ignorance, and errors; filled with envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness? Job saw a way in which he says, "I know I shall be justified;" but I am sure you do not.
I come now to chase you out of the covert that you have taken to in David. The King of Zion is no protector of those that slander with their tongues, but declares "They that hate the righteous shall be desolate." David saw the dimensions of the law in the hands of a just God, which you never did, and says, "Fearfulness and trembling hath taken hold of me, and I am afraid of thy judgments." And with respect to his own scanty obedience, and the impossibility of being justified by it, you have these words, "I have seen an end of all perfection, but thy commandment is exceeding broad. Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord, for in thy sight shall no flesh living be justified." From this his eyes were turned to see the Saviour coming to stand in his law place. "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened; burnt offerings and sin offerings hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo! I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me; I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart," Psal. xl. 6-8. David, by the eye of faith, pursued his Saviour to the cross, where the law was to lose its curse, and death its sting; and from hence he received the disarmed of its curse, brought home to his heart by the Spirit of God, which proclaimed liberty to his soul from the bondage of the law; "Restore to me the joys of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free Spirit." "The law of his God is in his heart, none of his steps shall slide." Thus David got the law in his heart, but you have not got it either in heart or head. Now David goes on with his Saviour. "They pierced my hands and my feet; they parted my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture." By this he saw that the Saviour's blood could wash him from sin, and that his righteousness could cover his soul, if revealed to him by the Holy Ghost, which goodness of God so struck him, that he says, "I had utterly fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of God in the land of the living." Mark?it was his faith that kept him from sinking: God wrought a lively faith in him, and applied the Saviour's benefits to him, which made him rejoice after he had prayed, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." Then he begins to triumph; "I believed, and therefore have I spoken." Blessed is the man whose iniquities are forgiven, through Christ's blood; Blessed is the man whose sins are covered with Christ's robe; Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord will not impute sin, having imputed it unto the sinner's Surety; Blessed is the man in whose spirit there is no guile, being regenerated and renewed by the Holy Ghost, Psalm xxxii. 1, 2.
David, obtaining his justification this way, ever after calls the Saviour his Lord and King. "The Lord said unto my Lord." He knew that by the law he was a dead man, and by that law for ever lost: hence he calls himself a sinner saved, and a child begotten. "He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto God the Lord belong the issues from death;" which regenerated issues he calls the generation of God's children. After a little more labour and toil, running in and out, round about, up and down, to and again, I find you settling in this conclusion:
'Paul says that he delighted in the law after the inner man, though he felt in his members a warring against it, though his flesh was not pleased with it, because it led him to mortification, because it shewed him his errors,' &c. &c.
I could wish that you would let the inner man alone, for you are entire strangers to one another. You are ignorant of the Father of him, the conception of him, the formation of him, the nature of him, the features of him, the food of him, and the disposition of him; therefore have thou nothing to do with that just man. I have ever asserted, and will assert, that the man who is renewed in the spirit of his mind, blessed with peace, and in union with God, will ever love God's law, and be the most evangelical observer of it, and the most obedient to it.
I heartily wish that you would shew me, from the press, any one command in the law of God that will either justify you or your ministry; either your doctrines or your conduct.
As to the law leading Paul to mortification, I deny it; it led Paul to wrath, death, and enmity, and gave occasion to all manner of lasciviousness, to discover its cursed enmity against God. "I was alive without the law once; but, when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence; for without the law sin was dead. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me." Will you call this leading Paul to mortification? I trow not. The Holy Ghost led him to mortification, assisted him in it, and kept him at it; and he tells the saints that, if they through the Spirit, not through the law, do mortify the deeds of the body, they shall live, Rom. viii. 13. As, "the legs of the lame are not equal, so is a parable in the mouth of fools." Now we travel again.
'The appearance of Christ in the world, what he did in it, and his sufferings on the cross, do not a little contribute to shew how unchangeable and immutable it is in its vast demands, and its requirements; now when our Saviour appeared in the world, we are dull of understanding if we suppose his appearance was merely as a legislator or a lawgiver.'
The appearance of Christ in the world was to give the law a perfect obedience, as God's honourable servant; to reveal the mind and will of God, as a Prophet; to offer himself a sacrifice, as a Priest; and then to gather his subjects, and found his government, as a King.
I believe no wise man in the world ever dreamed of the law of God being changeable or mutable, as you phrase it, except yourself; where the word unchangeable is mentioned the word immutable is needless. Is this the Collegian that has so long boasted of his learning, and spent so much ridicule at my ignorance?
If the Saviour's sufferings on the cross shew the immutable demands and requirements of the law, I wonder how you dare to take it upon your neck. God smote the Shepherd, that the sheep might be scattered from the stroke; but you are disobedient to this; you rush your guilty head under the sword. God says, that Christ shall be an hiding place from that storm, and a covert from that tempest; but you are determined to weather it. You have no notion of embracing the Rock for want of a shelter. Stand your ground then; God declares that an overflowing shower shall sweep away both the plasterer and his daubed wall, Ezek. xiii. 11, l2.
It appears to me scandalous to get up before an audience and accuse me of making the law mutable, which is what no wise man ever thought of till you mentioned it in this sermon; for you say that with a little alteration it shall go to heaven with us. This, sir, is Antinomianism. I have laboured to establish the law as immutable as its Author. It will never vary, change, nor admit of any alteration, though you wickedly assert it. You are a double-distilled Antinomian; for you make void both law and gospel. You found nothing of this in my sermon, that you bought at Mr. Terry's two days before this your attempt to ridicule it. But, alas! you do not understand it. You know neither law nor gospel. You are an entire stranger both to the knowledge of God, and to the ignorance of yourself. I therefore publicly defy you ever to overthrow, by the word of God, one paragraph of my sermon, or to establish either the law or the gospel, in your present state of ignorance. And, if you do not improve faster in your classical learning, you will never be capable of common sense, much less divinity.
As you appear in fancied orders, and use the Church of England service, I must recommend you to a share in her petitions, as an object of her pity, 'Forgive our persecutors and slanderers, and turn their hearts.' That this is needful will appear in your next paragraph, wherein you prove yourself to be one of that stamp; accuse yourself of slander and murder; and then ignorantly condemn both yourself and your sermon.
'I came not, says the Saviour, to repeal the law's authority, but to explain and enforce it; to move the false glosses the Pharisees have put upon it. I come to tell you, you must not be angry with your brother. I come to tell you its spirituality, that it reaches to the heart. You thought, if you had not committed murder and adultery you had complied with the law.'
I thought the Saviour came to obey the law, and to be the end of it for righteousness to every one that believeth. I thought he came to restore and renew us by grace. However, if this be the Saviour's doctrine, it is easily discerned what regard you pay to it; and how exactly you walk by that holy rule, who can get up into a pulpit, in the garb of an established divine, which is a mere deception, lampoon a sermon that you cannot contradict, and ridicule a servant of God, whom you never had any connexion with in the world, nor ever shall have, and slander a man, whose life or doctrine you cannot condemn. Is not this anger against a brother? I will not say a brother in the faith, for you know not the brotherly covenant; and, if such anger be murder, as the scriptures witness, then who is the murderer? But, alas! when God blasts the fleshly reputation of such aspiring gentlemen, they always level their venom at those whom God delights to own and honour.
I cannot but admire the wisdom of God, in taking you in your own craftiness, and overruling your speech so as to make you expose your foolishness to the congregation, and condemn both yourself and your folly, all the while you was holding me in the pillory; for you add:
'I tell you, if you are angry with your brother, if you ruin his reputation, you are guilty of a breach of the law of God as much as if you had taken away his life.'
Here my accuser has arraigned himself; proved himself a murderer; and owns that he has taken away my life. God grant that innocent blood be not laid to his charge. However, my enemy seems to have no conscience of this, for when Miss M. asked him, how he could abuse, in the public pulpit, those whose ministry God owned and blessed, and if he did not expect to be dealt with as he had dealt with others? He answered, 'To be sure;' and seemed as much pleased with his performance as Cain was when he went from the presence of God to build the city of Enoch. And how an evangelical association can sit under such slander as this; give their approbation by countenancing of it; thank God for it; and crave his blessing upon it, when God himself, according to my antagonist, calls it murder; is a mystery to me, and must rest with them. But we go on again.
'When Christ says that heaven and earth shall pass away before one jot or tittle of his word shall fail, keep it in your idea that the word includes the law: and we ought not to separate the law of God from the gospel, in as much as the law of God runs through the whole, and is blended with every part of the New Testament.'
If heaven and earth are both to pass away before one jot or tittle of the law can fail, which I really believe, then the law cannot be altered, or admit of that alteration, when it goes into heaven with you, as you formerly asserted. Your former established alteration is now overthrown, and I defy you ever to establish it on one gospel basis, if you preach for seven years. This is wild divinity, and worse affinity; a strange conjunction, where there is no connexion.
I always thought that the gospel the Saviour preached to the poor was opening the prison doors to those that were bound by the law; that his giving spiritual sight to the blind consisted in removing the veil that remained in reading the Old Testament; that in taking Christ's yoke upon us we got rid of that which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear.
We are not to separate the law from the gospel, say you. There is no need; God has done that ready to our hands. He has ordered the curse of the law to be pronounced on Mount Ebal, which Paul makes to be Mount Sinai, and in the figure Hagar, which includes all that are of the works of the law, for they are under the curse. And upon Mount Gerizim God orders the blessing; which, David says, is Mount Zion; "For there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." The sword of the Lord comes down on Idumea, the people of his curse, to judgment; while those that be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. The law is the ministration of death. The gospel brings life and immortality to light. The wages of sin is death to the legalist; the gift of God is eternal life to the believer. One covenant requires doing, the other receiving. One says, "Do, and live;" and the other says, "I will put my spirit upon them, and they shall live." One is called works, the other grace. If salvation be of works, it is no more of grace; if it be of grace, it is no more of works. Grace must withdraw and be no more grace, or works must withdraw and be no more works, Rom. xi. 6.
To be short, sir, if life be the gift of God to his adopted children, it cannot be called the wages of bond servants; and, if life be the wages that God as a master pays to his bond servants for their work, then it cannot be called the gift of God to his children. "To him that worketh [for life,] the reward is reckoned of debt;" he must keep the whole law or be damned; "but to him that worketh not [for life,] but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." He is a son of God by faith, and the son abides in the house or family of God for ever; but the servant, though he steal into it, as you have done, abideth not ever, John viii. 35; but is cast out, as the bondwoman and her son was, while the free woman and the heir of promise live, continue, and inherit all, Gal. iv. 30, 31.
This blending of yours, sir, breeds confusion, not harmony; it is not rightly dividing the word of truth. This is not the doctrine that was communicated under the influence of cloven tongues. This is not separating the vile from the precious. This is not explaining the two covenants; but is confusion?a jumbling of wrath and love, curses and blessings, death and life, servants and sons, commands and promises, wives and whores, bastards and heirs, the veil of ignorance and the light of knowledge, enmity and friendship, rebels and loyalists, servants of Mammon and servants of God, light and darkness, glory and damnation, all together. Sir, the word of God bears me out, chapter and verse, in all that I have said. I have not deviated either from the letter or the sense of scripture.
This blending of yours is what God calls untempered mortar; for you do not temper the mercy of God in harmony with justice, as it is held forth in his promise to the broken hearts of his children, in the law-obeying and justice-satisfying Saviour. Nor do you hold forth your knowledge of the terrors of God in his law, to persuade the bond children of the legal covenant to escape the curse of it. But you go on again to exalt yourself; and I after, to abase you.
Why did the Saviour lay himself down, that he might suffer in our stead? It was all done to magnify the law of God; it was done to fix it upon an immutable footing, and to render it eternally venerable, both in the sight of men and angels; and therefore we cannot have too high a respect to the law of God; for all the perfections of God shine forth here. It is a transcript of his mind and will. Here does his holiness appear; here does his truth appear; here does his justice appear; here does his eternity appear. Some will tell us it is done to introduce a better law; that they term a remedial law. A remedial law is to reduce the law to a covenant of works, and bring it down to terms, which they call faith and repentance, &c. which terms, as they tell us, God fixed. Salvation, in a remedial law, is that which fills the mind full of pride, and puffs it up against the law of God.
Here we are told that the sufferings of the Saviour were all done to magnify the law; but we are not told how; 'in laying himself down;' but not a word about his obedient life; to fix it upon an immutable footing, and to render it eternally venerable in the sight of men and angels. By the Saviour's obedient life the law was magnified and made honourable. By the Saviour's death God appeared just to his threatening, as well as the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. By the Saviour's death justice was satisfied, judgment executed, God appeased, and sinners ransomed. Justice being satisfied, and judgment executed, a throne of grace was raised. But what God had in view in all this, was that sinners might be redeemed, which you seem to have left quite out of the question.
All that you have observed about the perfections of God shining in the law you stole out of my sermon; they are all my own words, only you have not ranged them as I did, for fear of exposing your dishonesty, or for want of divine learning.
And all that you have said about a remedial law is to be found in one of the books that I have published; therefore I can say nothing against them, for I shall not contradict myself, though you do.
As for the Saviour's dying to make the law eternally venerable; I think that his unparalleled sufferings under the curse of it, as a covenant of works, makes it appear eternally terrible. And you would say so too, if you had felt the effects of it as Paul did; you would have been ready to conclude with him that the law is contrary to, and altogether against, man; and that the Lord Christ has slain the enmity, by "blotting out the handwriting of ordinances, that was against us, and contrary to us, and taking it out of the way, nailing it to his cross," Col. ii. 14; "having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; so making peace," Eph. ii. 15.
Paul, in his way of establishing the law, has set a task that you cannot learn; it is a path that no fowl knoweth; a path that you have never trod: and I am bold to tell you to your head, that you have not, in this sermon, established the law upon one of Paul's bases. This sermon is a wall of your own daubing altogether; the more you labour, the farther you get from Paul's point, and are sure to run foul either of the promise or the command every attempt you make. And woe be to that man for ever that makes void either the law of God, or the faith of Christ.
Sometimes you settle the law as binding, or as a yoke of bondage, upon every saint, which sets aside the freedom the Saviour promised, and the liberty of the Spirit. Sometimes as the government of angels; this sets aside their election and confirmation in Christ. Sometimes as the food of the saints; this sets aside the bread of heaven. And sometimes you smite it, in order to get refreshment from it; this is setting aside the water of life, instead of drinking of the Saviour's fullness; or getting virtue out of him by faith. Sometimes you render it as a law by which all the saints are to be accountable to God in the great day; this sets aside the book of life, the promise of life, the blessing of Abraham, the covenant of grace, the justification of the saints, the mercy of God, and the deliverance of a Surety; for "there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not:" and, if all are to be judged by the law, no flesh living can be justified. Paul never established the law on one of these bases: and, if you was to attempt it for seven years, as I told you before, you would never establish it, without running foul of the benefits of Christ, or the liberty of his children, because you know not the scriptures nor the power of God. All your labour and toil is only venting the spleen of your heart, acting the ape of a party, deceiving the souls of the simple, laying stumblingblocks in the way of the blind, injuring the cause of the Almighty, belying and censuring the just, condemning yourself by your own words, proclaiming your own foolishness; and consequently you expose yourself as a mere impostor, by coming to deliver a message as God's servant, in his name, while you are ignorant of his will, ridicule his ambassadors, contradict the laws of his realm, and traduce the privileges of his subjects. Not a word of the necessity or nature of faith; not a word about the Spirit or grace of God, that teacheth men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the world; this is never enforced; its operations never described; nor the blessed effects of it so much as hinted at, much less discovered.
Is this preaching Christ crucified? Is this being a good steward of the manifold grace of God? Is this holding forth the word of life? Is this doing the work of an evangelist?
If you are offended at my saying you have discovered yourself as an impostor, then contradict me. I tell you, and all your evangelical association, from the press, that you have not established the law on any gospel basis; nor have you set it in any one scriptural point of light; and, if you reply, I will, God willing, answer you when you have done. But you go on to make the best of a bad commodity; and I, as your honest market-man, follow you, crying out, "It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer."
'The law is given, not only to shew us what obligations we are under, but to shew us what is right and wrong from the heresies continually surrounding the same. Now the Lord points out, in his commandments, what he is in himself; that he is a Spirit, unchangeable and eternal; and how he is to be worshipped; that we are to worship God alone; that we are to put down all idols that may be set up in our affections in the room of the blessed God.'
By the law, you say, we get at the knowledge of God; but Paul says, by the law is the knowledge of sin." You say, we find God therein to be a Spirit; but Paul says that" Moses put a veil on his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: but their minds were blinded; for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which veil is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart," 2 Cor. iii. 13, 14, 15. And you proclaim this loud enough; for you are smitten "with madness and blindness; you grope at noon-day, as the blind gropeth in darkness, thou shalt not prosper in thy ways," Deut. xxviii. 28, 29.
Paul will have it that all saving knowledge of God is found in the Saviour's face, not in Moses' veil. "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," 2 Cor. iv. 6. This is Paul's doctrine, sir, though it is nothing like your's. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."
I am glad to find you assert, that the law is to throw down every idol that is set up in the affections in the room of the blessed God; for you know that covetousness is idolatry; and poor little Perkins, who is now a cobbler in Westminster, would be glad of a little of your idol: and, by the rules of scripture, he has a right, for he that sows ought to reap. For my part, I would ever wish to preach faith by my lips, and good works by my life; which is the Saviour's way. He tells us to let our light shine before men, that they may see, not hear of, our good works. But you go on.
'We do not say that the law of God, in its meaning as a schoolmaster, brings the sinner immediately to Jesus Christ, but remotely.'
If the law does bring the sinner to Jesus Christ, one would think that you must have been brought; but it is clear you have not; for, if Christ had been in your heart, he would have spoken by you, which he has not; for this harangue is not the Shepherd's voice. We know it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaketh.
I read that sinners are drawn to Christ by the Father; and that he who cometh, cometh by faith; for the scriptures assert that "he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek him." But the law is not of faith, but of works; it neither gives faith nor love, which are the things that bring us to God, and unite us to him, and the things that accompany salvation.
What you mean by the law's bringing a sinner to Jesus. Christ remotely I know not, nor you neither. As the law arms justice with a flaming sword, and that sword keeps the way of the tree of life, it must keep the sinner remote, or at a distance, instead of bringing him to life. When the law was given a man was in danger of losing his life if he did but attempt to gaze, much more so if he approached; and a bound was fixed round the Mount, to keep the sinner at his distance, instead of drawing him nigh. Your talking of the law's bringing the sinner to Christ remotely, is like talking of painting white with charcoal, or enlightening a room by stopping up the windows with lime and hair. We now travel on again to another mountain, which, by God's help, I hope to make a plain, if possible.
'The believer, instead of looking to the law as brought down to him, looks to himself through Christ as brought to the law; so that, by the obedience of Christ Jesus, he renders to the law, through Christ, a perfect obedience.'
This is darkening counsel by words without knowledge; this man is filling his belly with the east wind. The believer ought to look to the law, for it was brought down to him, and home to him also, before ever he was a believer; for he has no warrant to be married to the Saviour till his first husband be dead.
And you say that the believer looks to himself, through Christ, as brought to the law. However, Paul expresses it otherwise; he found the condemning power of the law first; and when that had killed him it pleased God to reveal his Son in him, and he was brought nigh to God by the blood of Christ. But my enemy says that the believer looks to himself, through Christ, as brought to the law; so that by the obedience of Christ, he [that is, the believer] renders to the law a perfect obedience. O rare believer! James says, "In many things we offend all." Where is his perfection then? The Saviour's obedience is perfect, but the believer's is never so. Instead of saying that the believer looks to himself, through Christ, as brought to the law, he should have said, "I, through the law, am dead to the law, that I might live unto God." "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live," and look from myself to Jesus, as the only hope set before me. But we must set off again.
'The believer is delivered from the irritating power of the law; nor does he count the yoke of the Lord hard, but easy, and his burden light. And, as it has not an irritating power unto him, so no more has it a condemning authority over him.'
Believers are not delivered from the irritating power of the law altogether, for the law often finds them out. The best saints in the world have gone at times bound in the spirit; and, when they have lost sight of the covenant Head and a sense of their liberty, they have, like the Galatians, been again entangled with the yoke of bondage. If you, sir, are a stranger to this, the children of God are not. I say, the real believer is delivered from the commanding power of the law, as a covenant of works, to do for life; and he is delivered from the curse of it, as the ministration of eternal death and damnation. And, if you deny this, you give God the lie; being ignorant of the letter of the law, of its killing power, and of the spiritual service of God; "For when we were in the flesh the motions of sin, which were by the law [stirred up,] did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held, that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." It is the commanding power of the law to do for life; that is the unbearable yoke. The damning power of the law is a yoke that is worn by those in hell.
None but the devil ever sent such men as you into a pulpit, to tempt the Spirit of God, by putting a yoke upon the disciples' necks which you never felt the weight of; and, as for your life and conduct, God forbid that I should ever copy after it. I wish the next time you would preach from this text; "Forasmuch as we have heard that certain, which went out from us, have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law; to whom we gave no such commandment; it seemeth good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that ye abstain from" worldly pollution and vanity, and cleave to Christ; "from which if ye keep yourselves ye shall do well. Fare ye well," Acts xv. 24, 28, 29. Now we go on again.
What are those sentiments that may in a particular manner be styled Antinomianism? We begin with this idea; that whatsoever is a deviation from the moral law of God is an opposition to that law, whether in principle or practice, and may be considered as Antinomianism; for this heresy, that greatly abounds, is derived from the Greek word Antinomos.'
Then Mr. Ignoramus, according to dog Latin, is the Antinomos, according to the Greek; for I insist upon it that he has made void both law and gospel.
'Whatsoever is a deviation from the moral law is an opposition to that law, whether in principle or practice, and may be considered as Antinomianism.' Then you may call the whole gospel Antinomianism. The law says, "The soul that sinneth shall die." The gospel says, "He that believeth shall never die." The law says, "I will by no means clear the guilty." The gospel says, "I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed." This, sir, according to your account, is Antinomianism; for both these assertions are opposite to the law, as a covenant of works; yet they sweetly harmonize with the law, as magnified, made honourable, and placed in the heart of a Surety, "who is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
A man that treats the law and the gospel as you have done is an Antinomian in principle. And stealing into the church while ignorant both of God and of yourself, and slandering those that God has sent to preach his word, is Antinomianism in practice. And, as Nathan said to David, "Thou art the man."
I will not believe that any man can prove his mission or commission from God, to preach his word, until he be made a partaker of the Holy Ghost. Christ's ministers are ministers of the Spirit, not of the letter; "for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life." "All scripture is given by inspiration of God." And the Saviour sent the same Spirit of inspiration upon his apostles before he sent them out to preach his gospel to every creature. It is true, we have schools that furnish and send out a great number; but, if the Spirit of God be not in them, the children of God are sure to forsake them as soon as God discovers what they are; for such generally ridicule the Spirit's works. However, "there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding;" and without this they never can describe the experience of the just, nor understand the spiritual meaning of God's word. A school may teach human wisdom, the wisdom of the world, and every maxim of a worldly spirit; but cannot give inspiration; "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him," 1 Cor. ii. 12, 14; and so they are to you, sir.
And, when such graceless macaronies as you mount a rostrum, you cannot keep your reputation from sinking before simple people, unless you blind their eyes, obscure the gospel, and ridicule the spiritual labourers in it; and, being destitute of the Spirit, you are obliged to cry out, 'Beware of spiritualizing and allegorizing the scriptures.'
Reader, "all scripture is given by inspiration of God." "My word," says the Saviour, "is spirit and life;" and if it were not it could not feed the souls of the saints, for they are spiritual. The church of God in the liberty of the gospel, and the children of the flesh in the bondage of the law, are set forth by two allegories. Therefore, whenever you hear a man crying out against these things, you may call him Ignoramus, or Antinovice, and have done with him, for he knows nothing of the matter.
Who the author of that book is, that you produced in the pulpit, and have quoted so long paragraph from, I know not. It is no book of mine; therefore I shall leave the ridiculed author to defend his own testimony, as I am determined to do mine.
For my part, I think it would become better to have entered the list, and detected the man froth the press; and so have left the church of God at large to judge of the matter; which a better way than culling out a few unconnected sentences, and putting your own constructions on them. For a man that can hide his profession as a methodist priest, in order to creep into the establishment in disguise, is a man that would do or say any thing; this is not giving one's self to the ministry of the word and prayer; "Wherein man is called, therein let him abide with God," says Paul, not run away.
Our Saviour and his disciples never went to the schools of the doctors for human scraps; nor to the high priest for their credentials. They stood for their privileges as Jews; used the temple and the synagogues till they were turned out; and then they preached wherever an opportunity offered, and a door was opened, and opposed everyone that opposed the truth. If you have abilities to overthrow that author's arguments, do as the apostles did, confute and expose him, for the good of the church; and let his folly be made manifest, as the folly of Jannes and Jambres was. If you do not, I shall think that you have belied him, and therefore are afraid to face him. Your conclusion from this authors whomsoever he be, is this:
'So that good works are totally unnecessary, though the Lord has so highly expressed himself upon the subject with respect to the obedience of his people, with respect to their holiness, with respect to their life and conversation. We are informed that Enoch was pleasing to his God; that in his generation he was a perfect man; that he walked with God, and was not, for God took him. We are informed that, with respect to our obedience, it is that which brings peace and comfort to our souls; for what rejoicing can any man have but from God?'
If this author has declared from the press that good works are totally unnecessary, he is no more a minister of Jesus Christ than you are, who talk so much about good works, but never perform any. He by words, and you by deeds, have both contradicted the word of God, and the testimony that I have received from him. The scriptures declare that a believer is God's workmanship, "created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them." That the scriptures are given to influence the man of God, and furnish him unto all good works.
A minister of Christ is to affirm constantly, "that they which have believed in God be careful to maintain good works: these things are good and profitable unto men." And again, "Let ours, says God, that is, let our family "also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful," Tit. iii. 8. 14. Here let it be observed: First, That a believer is created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works. Secondly, That the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, teacheth men to deny ungodliness and worldly lust, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the world. Thirdly, That ministers are to enforce these things, for they are good and profitable unto men. And, Fourthly, God says, "Let them maintain good works for necessary uses."
Thus all good works spring from grace and a new creation in Christ Jesus; they are profitable unto men, and they are to be performed for necessary uses. These uses, in my judgment, are these; First, To prove to the world that a man's faith is of a genuine, purifying quality; "I will shew thee my faith by my works." Secondly, To convince and stop the mouths of gainsayers; "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works." Thirdly, They are profitable unto men; acts of charity relieve their wants, and sometimes convince them of the error of their ways. Fourthly, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bring forth much fruit." And, lastly, The wicked will be condemned at the great day by the fruits of faith; as Noah, by the obedience of faith, condemned the old world: "I was an hungered, and ye fed me; thirsty, and ye gave me drink; a stranger, and ye took me in," &c. &c. These shall go away into everlasting life, and the wicked into everlasting punishment.
The man that denies these things is no minister of Jesus Christ. For my part, I can truly say, it is a grief to me to see evil workers get up into a pulpit, and blind people's eyes with a loud cry about good works, while they only use the words as a cloak to their villainy, under which they contradict the gospel, and communicate that envy and prejudice to the souls of the simple which Solomon says "slays the silly one." This is conveying death under the word, good; God tells us to walk in good works, not in slander: but you say and do not; for I think I may defy you to prove, or bring one living witness who can, that any good works have ever been performed by you.
Creeping to the heels, and skulking into the pockets, of old widows, is no part of the ministry that I have received. "It is not expedient doubtless for me to glory;" but, as Paul says, "if any are bold, I am bold also." I have no objection to be weighed in an even balance, not only with you, but with all the evangelical combination who have set themselves against me.
Paul brought forth to his opposers his trials, his revelations, his success, and disinterestedness; and I give you the same challenge. For the gospel's sake I have suffered distress in family, temptations, and persecutions, and am not a whit behind you all in experience, judgment or understanding; nor in usefulness or success in the ministry; nor with respect to circumspection in life, or liberality, according to my ability. In defence of these things I will never refuse to face any of you, who sit so often in judgment upon me; nor any accuser that shall speak to the contrary. I will not believe that any man who can conform to the fashions of the world; appear in the cottishness of a miss in her teens; stuffed with pride, arrogance, ignorance, covetousness, malice, and slander can ever perform a good work; the tree must be made good, and then the fruit will be good. You proceed.
'We are informed that, with respect to our obedience, it is that which brings peace and comfort to our souls.'
Who your informer was that told you so I know not. But I will be bold to tell him, as John did, that "he is a liar, and the truth is not in him." Neither peace nor comfort are the rewards of our obedience. Peace is the grand ordinance of God, a blessing of the covenant of grace; Christ made peace by the blood of his cross; and it is a free gift to the saints; "My peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you." Instead of our obedience bringing peace, God sends peace to bring us to obedience. Christ shall speak peace to the heathen, and "as soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me." All men are rebels; and Christ received gifts for the rebellious, and peace is one of them; "Into whatsoever house ye enter, say, Peace be to this house; and, if the Son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it." And when a man is reconciled to God, and at peace with him, he will both love and obey him, but not till then.
Your doctrine, sir, sets aside the council of the Trinity, and a blessing of the covenant of peace, and makes it no longer a legacy; in plain English, it is false doctrine, and in the language of the schools Antinomianism; but in the Greek it is Antinomos; and as it makes faith void, and the promises of God of none effect, it certainly springs from one, "whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon," Rev. ix. 11.
You say that our obedience brings comfort. I deny it. The Comforter is the gift of God; the promise of the Father; the sent of the Saviour; and the root, spring, spirit, life, and author, of all evangelical obedience, and of every good word and work that ever was or will be performed in any of the children of God. But you proceed to prove that "the way of a fool is right in his own eyes;" and I go after you, insisting upon it that "he that hearkeneth to counsel is wise," Prov. xii. 15. You say,
'There is no true joy in the heart of any one, but what spring from love to God and our obedience to his divine authority and commands.'
If you had said, there is no true joy in the heart of any man but what springs from God's everlasting love to him in Christ Jesus; and that there is not one pure act of obedience to the law of God produced but what springs from the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost, you would have spoken the language of God. You go on.
We are informed by this same author, (but who that author is you take care to conceal) that an assurance of our salvation by Jesus Christ is all that is necessary for us to have, though we are of the vilest stamp.
If by the vilest stamp you mean that Jesus Christ came into the world to save the chief of sinners, it is a truth, of which I think Mary Magdalen and Paul were living witnesses; for, as the first had much forgiven, and the same loved much; so the other, being a great opposer of the gospel, was shewn how great things he should suffer for the name of Christ. And I think the life and conduct of both Mary and Paul are sufficient to stop the mouths of such false accusers as you, who attempt to charge the grace of God with licentiousness; his ministers with the ministration of sin; make his gospel of none effect; and the obedience of his people the procuring cause of their peace and comfort, instead of making the grace of God the cause of all their evangelical obedience.
If you mean, that an assurance of our salvation by Jesus Christ is that which is necessary to satisfy us that we are in the bond of the covenant, you speak the language of scripture, which declares, that whosoever believeth in Christ, however vile he may have been, shall be saved; all manner of sins shall be forgiven him. "He that believeth shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned." But, if you mean that a man who boasts of the assurance of his salvation by Jesus Christ while he lives in avowed sin, or continues one of the vilest stamp, as you express it, has got the faith that is necessary, God says that that man has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. I have no more opinion of his faith, and the state of his soul, than I have of the heart-holiness and good works of you, and the reverend Mr. Belly of Gravesend; who I believe are just as much converted to God, and commissioned to preach his gospel, as Simon Magus, or Alexander the coppersmith; whom the devil raised up and sent out to ridicule the apostles, and bring the grace of God into contempt.
I hope, sir, you will not be offended at this; for I believe the devil to be the first master of arts in the world; and it is clear from scripture that he has instructed and sent out more preachers than ever God did; which is not to be wondered at, for he is a better Hebraist, Grecian, and Latinist, than you are, or ever will be; he is the first master of languages in the world, as well as the god of it. He has tempted every sinner capable of action, more or less, and is sure to do it in the sinner's own language, or mother-tongue. He was the first that ever took a text, as may be seen in his discourse with Eve; and, as he was the first quoter of scripture, so was he the first perverter of it; whose copy you follow. The devil was the first that ever set up a form of religion without the heart, as may be seen in the devotion of Cain, who was of that wicked one the devil, when he brought his offering, and persecuted him that offered in faith and worshipped God in the Spirit. You are no stranger to this, sir; for it is well known that you are dotingly fond of a form of godliness by the apish appearance you have made, and by your vigorous attempts to appear in it without being charged with the slanderous titles of an impostor or a mimic. I have no call to prove you one of his formalists, and a hater of spiritual men and spiritual, devotion; what I have quoted from this mixed medley is quite sufficient for that purpose.
I now find you coming upon me; which I suppose would have been done before, had you not seen some people ready to take your slander down in black and white, which muzzled you for a time.
'But we have no need to trace past ages to find out persons of this horrid and destructive sentiment; we find too many in our day. A Modern Antinomian, I were going to call him, I mean one that sets himself up in a measure against the law of God.'
Had you brought these assertions against yourself you would have done right, for you have opposed the law of God, and brought in a new one, that is, to admit of an alteration, which I deny; and you have brought in a number of new arguments to establish it.
First, You tell us that the law is binding on all the saints. Then I ask, What is meant by their liberty, or deliverance from it?
2. That all the saints are to be accountable in the great day for every transgression of the law. Then I ask, What becomes of the righteousness of Christ, and of the promised blessing and inheritance that God gave to Abraham?
3. You tell us that the law shall admit of some alteration. Then I ask, Where is the immutable and eternal footing that you speak of?
4. That this law is to pass into heaven with the saints. Then I ask, What becomes of their faith, of their promised portion or inheritance, and of that charity that never faileth? The law is not of faith, nor does the law give love.
5. You tell us that the believer is delivered from the irritating power of the law. Then I ask, From whence arise his cogitations, which he severely feels for the least offence? This must be a stripe for the transgression of some law.
6. You say the law is the food of your mind. Then I ask, What need was there for God to give us the bread of life?
7. You say that the law affords refreshment. Then I ask, What is meant by the Comforter's being called the promise of the Father, and his gift?
8. You tell us that the angels of God are governed by the law; and that, if they could cease to love, they would be like those bound in chains of darkness. Then I ask, Where is their election and confirmation in Christ?
9. You say that a believer is brought through Christ to the law. Then I ask, How the law can be a schoolmaster to bring him to Christ?
10. You say that a believer through Christ gives a perfect obedience to the law. Then I ask, What becomes of the saint's long catalogue of imperfections?
11. You tell us that the law reveals God as a Spirit, and discovers every heresy. Then I ask, What reason was there for the Saviour to come from the Father's bosom to make him known, and to establish a spiritual worship to the ever adorable Trinity? If the first covenant had been faultless, where was room for a second?
12. You tell us that every man that holds any thing contrary to the law of God is Antinomos. Then I ask, What right has the awakened sinner to fly from the wrath revealed in the law, and take refuge in Christ as the only hope set before him? The law says it shall be our righteousness if we continue to do: and "cursed is he that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law." Running away cannot be called continuing.
13. You tell us that the Saviour's death was to render the law eternally venerable. Then I ask, Why is it called a yoke of bondage? and why are they threatened with an exclusion from grace, and all the benefits of Christ, who are entangled with it again?
14. You tell us that the saints of God have ever taken a pleasure in the law; which, according to your account, is binding, for they are to be accountable to God in the great day by that. Then I ask, What was that the Israelites desired to hear no more of? for it is said "they could not endure that which was spoken." And, if God's voice in that binding law had been sufficient, why has he "in these last days spoken to us by his Son?"
And, lastly, if such a slandering combination as yours be a society of evangelists, how come you to preach, and they to countenance and approve, of such a scandalous harangue as this? in which there is neither the letter of the law, nor the language of the gospel; but a jumble of nonsense, just sufficient to proclaim to every wise man that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.
I shall now enforce the old commandment, which, according to the Medes and Persians, alters not, and leave you to apply it as you think proper: "Now therefore Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shether-boznai, and your companions, the Apharsachites, which are beyond the river; be ye far from thence; let the work of this house of God alone, let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place," which is Mount Zion, not Sinai, nor Holywell Mount; therefore be ye far from thence.
I have, whether right or wrong, declared to the world publicly that the law of God is like its Author; that it never will admit of any alteration, mitigation, period, or repeal. "Heaven and earth shall pass away before one jot or tittle of the law shall fail."
I have declared that the holiness, justice, goodness, faithfulness, truth, and eternity, of God appear in the law; which you have stolen as so many feathers out of my plume, to put in your own cap; while you ridiculed the author of that very sermon which you have plundered for matter.
I have established the law in full force, in the hand of justice, both in its commanding and condemning power, against every such trunkmaker you, who ridicule the grace of God, prate about the works of the law, and live in the pride of the devil. I have endeavoured to establish the law in all its condemning power, in the hand of vengeance, as executed on all the damned. The wrath of God is revealed in the law; it is a fire kindled, that shall burn unto the lowest hell. Unto God belongeth vengeance, saith the Psalmist. And, as a God of vengeance, "if I make my bed in hell, thou art there."
I have asserted, whether right or wrong, that the law fell with all its weight on Christ the Surety, who was "born of a woman, born under the law:" that he took both the commandment and the sentence, or the commanding and condemning power of the law, when he said, "Thy law is within my heart;" "then, lo! I come to do thy will, O God;" and that by his obedient life he delivered me from the precept of the law, which is, "Do and live;" and by his death he redeemed me from the curse of the law, by being made a curse for me.
If I am not delivered from the commanding power of the law, to do for life, then I ask, Of what use is the Saviour's obedience, by which many are to be made righteous? If I am not delivered from the command for life as well as the curse, then the debt of active obedience, which the Surety paid to the law, is all in vain. Take away either of these, and you take away all. By the first you take away the doctrine of imputed righteousness, and by the latter you remove the doctrine of redemption; so leaving me under the command of what Paul calls a killing letter, and consequently under every curse of the law and the wrath of God: and then Christ is become of none effect to me.
If I am under the commanding power of the law for lift, I do to live; I seek the justification unto life by the works of the law. Then, says God, as many of you as seek to be justified by the works of the law, ye are fallen from grace; "Christ shall profit you nothing." Thus you tumble me into the very vengeance of God. And, as for the life which God gives me in Christ; which Christ bestows, the gospel offers, and the Holy Ghost applies; it is all made void.
Is this the work of an evangelical society? If it be, faith is made void, the law is against the promises of God; and the promised blessing to Abraham made of none effect. This doctrine justifies Hagar in her rebellion, gives her and her bond child full possession of the tent, and kicks Sarah and the heir of promise quite out of the inheritance; reprobates the free woman, the heavenly Jerusalem, the wife of God that is above, and brings in every bastard that he has cursed as the rightful heir of the kingdom of heaven; for, if they of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise that makes them such of none effect. Who is this "that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?" I will shew you the Saviour's suretiship by a simile:
Suppose I owe a man five hundred pounds, and my creditor insists upon it that I shall pay the whole sum, or go to prison, and there lie till I die and rot. The language of the law to me is, Pay thy creditor. And, in case of failure, it allows the creditor to take body and goods. Now we will suppose that my creditor sincerely loves me; but, having declared that he will be paid, for his word's sake he is determined to have the whole sum, or imprison me. His bowels yearn over me; but his word and honour are at stake. He represents my wretched case to a friend of his; who, to gratify the affection of my creditor, delivers me from a prison; and, to lay me under an eternal obligation, both to my creditor and to himself, he steps forth and becomes my surety. This is an act of clemency in every sense; no law compels a creditor to find his debtor a surety, nor is a man bound by any law to become surety for another. This man, by his own act and deed, stands in my law-place. Then the command of the law, Pay thy creditor; and the demand of the creditor, "Pay me that thou owest;" both fall on the surety by his own act and deed. The surety pays the whole sum, gets a receipt from my creditor in full of all demands, and gives that receipt to me, which is my discharge. I am then delivered from the command of that law, and from the demand of my creditor. I am no longer dejected and bowed down under that command, nor harassed with my creditor; so far from it, I am constrained by all the laws of God, and every law of nature, to love my creditor; and my love to him springs from his love to me, who gave me such a proof of it by procuring a surety for me. I am likewise an eternal debtor to the unmerited favour of my surety. And is not my creditor better off with my surety's money than he would have been with my death in a gaol? Lying in prison, you know, pays no debts.
The case between God and the sinner is precisely thus. We owe to every precept of the law a spiritual, perfect, and perpetual obedience; but we have all transgressed this law. God demands the debt of obedience. "Now to him that worketh is the reward reckoned of debt." But we cannot pay the debt. Then the case stands thus: "A certain creditor had two debtors, the one owed him five hundred pence, and the other fifty, and they had nothing to pay." The creditor, hearing this, commands him "to be sold, and his wife, and his children, and all that he had, and payment to be made;" and, in case of failure or insufficiency, he orders him to be cast into prison, and not to come out from thence till he has paid the very last mite. The poor distressed debtor, knowing, that his creditor is positive, and will stand to his word, becomes an humble suppliant, and puts up this moving petition, "Put me in a surety with thee." The creditor is moved with pity, and appoints his dear son to the office, anti says, "I have laid help upon one that is mighty." The Saviour steps forth, saying The debtor is a stranger to me, and "he that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it, and he that hateth suretiship is sure." Nevertheless, I will become a surety for this servant for good. The bargain was struck, the debt was to be exacted, restitution was to be made, and the creditor and debtor were to be amicably settled in eternal friendship. This council of peace was between them both. The creditor said also, He is man that hath contracted the debt, and he must become man, in man's stead, that pays it; and I will prepare a body for thee; thou must give to my law a perfect obedience, and so magnify it, and make it honourable. I will also accept the debtor in thine obedience, or be well pleased with him for thy righteousness sake. I shall lay upon thee the iniquity of them all; and through thy name shall their pardon be proclaimed. Thou must be made of a woman; made under the law, to redeem them that are under the law. Thou must take the whole law into thine own heart. Thou must take both the precept and the penalty. By thy obedience to the precept shall many be made righteous; and with thy stripes from the sentence shall many be healed. Thy righteousness will I impute to all that believe. And I have sworn that, in a vindictive way, I will never be wroth with, nor rebuke those for whom thou shalt die. Magnify my law and make it honourable; and by thy knowledge shalt thou, my righteous servant, justify many. Redeem them from death, and ransom them from the grave; and I will give them everlasting life in thee. Redeem them from among men; and they shall receive the adoption of sons. I have appointed and anointed thee to be their surety, to pay their debts, and bring them out of the prison house; and it shall be my good pleasure to give them the kingdom of heaven.
My law is weak through the flesh; man cannot keep it, and therefore cannot live by it; but I will give him eternal life through thee. I have commanded the children of men to love me: but their mind is enmity against me, not subject to my law, nor can be, therefore they cannot please me. I will therefore circumcise their hearts, and they shall love me, that they may live. In short, I will give them that life in thee which my law promises in vain: thy obedience shall be on them. The love which my law demands of them shall reflect from my everlasting love to them, which I will shed abroad in their hearts by my Holy Spirit. Thus shall the righteousness of my spiritual law be fulfilled in them who walk not after the flesh, but after my Spirit. By this act of grace shall all their boasting be excluded. They shall own that they have not loved their God, but that I have loved them. So shall they be delivered from the command to do for life, for the just man shall live by his faith; which act shall be receiving life instead of performing dead works.
'All these spiritual blessings, with which I have blessed them in thee, shall be deeply impressed on their minds by my Spirit; and this bargain of ours shall be called a new covenant with them. I will write my laws of faith and love on their hearts, and in their minds will I put them. I will give them a new heart and a new spirit, Ezek. xxxvi. 26; Jer. xxxi. :31?33. My laws shall be in their hearts; they shall not be without the law of love to me, nor shall they be disobedient to their surety. They shall love me, and I will not take my lovingkindness from them; and they shall obey thee, for I will make them willing in the day of my power. Thus they shall not be without law to their God, but under the law to thee, my Christ.
'All this is my will; and to the objects of my choice shall it be revealed, but to none else; for "none of the wicked shall understand." But this law shall be bound up among thy disciples, whom I will teach; and to me they shall hearken; for they shall be a people that shall know righteousness, a "people in whose heart is my law." Thus shall a pure obedience spring from my Spirit of love in them, which alienated and depraved nature can never produce. The soul that feels my love shall dwell in me; and love shall be the fulfilling of the law in him. And in keeping this commandment, in its spiritual meaning, there shall be great reward in the end, and safety in the way. The law of their God shall be in their heart, and none of their steps shall slide, Psalm xxxvii. 31.
'Thus shall they escape their bondage; for the law of the spirit of life in thee, my Christ, shall make them free from the law of sin and death, Rom. viii. 2. Whosoever, therefore, shall look into this perfect law of liberty, and continue therein, "he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed," James i. 25.
Then says wisdom, "I delight to do thy will." I, the second Adam, will become their quickening spirit; and they shall as surely find life in the second fountain as ever they lost it in the first. I will take the law of death and the promise of life both in my heart, and become the woman's seed; the son of man for man. The law of death on me shall feed, and man by me shall live. In me shall he find both life and rule. I will be his surety, his life, and his pattern. He shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house, and with thee, the fountain of life. And thy law of love in my heart shall be a law of life to them. This "law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death."
The Saviour agreed to the terms, saying, "I will become a surety of this better testament established upon better promises; I will take on me the seed of Abraham; I will assume the body prepared; I will take thy law in my heart; I will perform thy will; "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death; O death! I will be thy plague; O grave! I will be thy destruction; repentance shall be hid from mine eyes." Let this be recorded in the rolls of eternity, and stand fast in divine veracity, and the whole shall be performed; "Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared me; then said I, Lo! I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me; to do thy will, O God. By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
These, sir, are the doctrines I hold, and this is the way that I establish the law, by preaching the faith; and I think these are the real truths of the gospel, the doctrines recorded by the Holy Ghost; and, if he that preaches them be an Antinomos, I shall leave you to guess where your scandal falls. However, you and your association, according to these incoherent fragments of yours, make void both law and gospel; you use the tongue of the crafty; speak wickedly for God, and talk deceitfully for him, by uttering vain knowledge; reasoning with unprofitable talk, and with speeches wherewith thou canst do no good, Job xv. 2, 3, 5. But you go on, in order to get the garland; and I come after, to catch you by the heel, Hos. xii. 3.
'After a number of arguments he brings, in order to establish a new law, says he, A rule signifies government; now the rule, the commandment of God, does not govern the believer; for a rule is that by which we are to square our actions; and I shall presently shew whether the actions of the old or new church can be squared by this rule. Abraham went to rescue Lot from the kings of Sodom, and he destroyed many. Now how does that agree with, Thou shalt not slay? He goes on to say, Thou shalt not covet. Jacob prevailed upon Esau to sell his birthright. Again, the Israelites were commanded to borrow of the Egyptians jewels of silver and gold, and they spoiled the Egyptians. How does this agree with the rule? And thus he plays with what he calls arguments. But you may plainly see the sophistry and cunning of such a man; and frequently they will talk about the original.'
Any body that has read my sermon must know how fairly you have quoted me, and how well acquainted you are with the scriptures, to talk of the kings of Sodom, when Sodom never had but one king at a time; and he, with the other four kings of the plain, were routed and put to flight in the vale of Siddem, and were all hid in the slime pits before Sodom was plundered, or Lot taken captive. Nor did Abraham rescue Lot from the king of Sodom, for Lot was his subject; but from Chedorlaomer, Tidal, Amraphel, and Arioch, Gen. xiv. 9.
However, I shall set my former assertions upon their own basis again; and there, they shall stand till you can produce better arguments than these to raze them.
It is well known that a good old gentleman in the city, one of the Cloth, gave himself a great deal of trouble about me and my doctrine. It is true he had no business with me; but you know there are others that love to be meddling as well as you. This good man and I had a little dispute about the believer's rule; and, according to his judgment, the believer's rule is the ten commandments which he asserted, but I find has since denied it, from a consciousness, I suppose, of his rule being too contracted. However, as God would have it, there were three gentlemen in company who heard our debate, and are ready to prove to his face what he asserted of the ten commandments being the only rule that the believer has to go by, which rule lies in the following words: I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt make no graven image, nor bow down to any. Thou shalt not take my name in vain. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Honour thy father and mother. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Thou shalt not covet, Exod. xx.
In consequence of our debate, I was desired to publish my sermon on that subject; in which I endeavoured to prove that the whole revealed will of God is the believer's rule, and not a part of the same; or, in other words, the whole Bible, instead of seventeen verses of one chapter. And this I endeavoured to prove, by shewing that God, as a sovereign, had willed many things, and their obedience had been approved, though it lay not in the ten commandments. And who is he that will prove me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth?
When the apostles give the believer his rule, they make it to be chiefly the will of God in the gospel of Christ; which is a spiritual rule for spiritual men. The apostles make a difference between the letter and the spirit; the impression on the tables of stones, and the writing of the Spirit on the heart; between the law in the hand of justice, and the law in the heart of a surety. Nor does any penman in all God's book call the ten commandments the believer's only rule.
I have said that Abraham was blessed in the name of God when he returned from the slaughter of the kings; that Jacob got Esau's blessing by subtilty; and, although God did not command Jacob to make use of such means, but requited him for it, in the matter of Leah instead of Rachel, yet God willed Jacob the blessing before he was born, and confirmed it after he had got it.
I have asserted that God, who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, did command Israel to borrow the Egyptians' jewels, and spoil them, as they had dealt subtilely with Israel, and spoiled them of their male infants; "for the Lord God of recompense will surely requite."
I have also said that God commanded Moses to make two cherubims, though the law says, "Thou shalt make no graven image, the likeness of any thing in heaven above, or in the earth beneath," to bow down thereto. These things God commanded, though they are not found in the Pentateuch.
God ordered Abraham to offer up his son; approved of his servant's obedience; and received his son in a figure; though the law says, "Thou shalt not kill." And God approved of the pious zeal of his servant Phineas, in the destruction of the adulterer and adultress, notwithstanding the law that says, "Thou shalt do no murder."
The Pentateuch knows nothing of repentance; it neither gives nor accepts it; yet God has commanded men every where to repent, and has exalted a Saviour to give repentance to Israel. We are commanded to fly from the wrath to come; which wrath is revealed in the law, though the law says, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law." Flying from it is not continuing in it.
The law is not of faith, says Paul, yet we are commanded to believe on the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of sins; and the Author of faith is appointed to give remission.
I have declared, sir, that the whole revealed will of God is the believer's rule. I endeavour to preach this, and I endeavour to live up to it; and I wish you did. For my part, I cannot tie the believer up to a single chapter for his rule, nor will my conscience let me live as you do. I desire to enforce the whole counsel of God from the pulpit, and to preach up good works by my life as far as grace shall enable me.
And, seeing these things cannot be spoken against, you ought to be quiet, and do nothing rashly, especially as you have asserted the very same things in the next head of this wonderful performance that I have to consider. Sometimes indeed you make the Pentateuch all in all, and leave the gospel quite out of the question; and then again you bring in the whole word, and seem to agree with me; but this is not to be wondered at, for Paul says that men who turn aside to vain jangling, and desire to be teachers of the law, know neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm, 1 Tim. i. 6.
However, as you make the law your food, your refreshment, your remote teacher, your yoke, your rule, and expect to take it into heaven with you, and, as the instrument of Jehovah's government, to be for ever under it, I shall serve you as you have served my sermon. You have laid me and my sermon to your rule of judgment; and, according to that, I am a sophist, and my discourse is Antinomianism. Now I shall make bold to lay you and your conduct to your own rule, and see how straight you lie with it.
Suppose I was to many two or three old widows, for the sake of a little money and a lazy life; you know a lover of money is a servant of Mammon; a covetous man is an idolater; With such an one, says God, let not the saint eat. If money be an idol, and a covetous man an idolater, how does this square with God's law, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me?" If a man chooses a widow with a rich pocket before a virgin with a gracious heart, has he not got another god before the true one? You have liberty to apply it where you please; I say it is a breach of the first commandment.
A man that conforms to the fashions of the world; aims at worldly titles, worldly preferments, human wisdom, vain oratory, and wants to cut a figure as a rector or a vicar; has got high thoughts and towering imaginations, that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, which are to be cast down by spiritual weapons, 2 Cor. x. 4, 5. This, sir, is as bad as making a graven image; for all idolatry is conceived and formed in the minds of those sort of men, who are said to be vain in their imaginations, whose foolish hearts are darkened, Rom. i. 21. Hence man is accused of setting up an idol in his heart. This, sir, is a breach of the second table. He that exalts himself is the worst idolater.
Your asserting that God's law is the food of his people, and that by which he will judge them in the great day, and by which they are to be ruled in heaven, is setting aside the book of life, speaking wickedly for God, and telling lies in his name, which is a breach of the third commandment; "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain."
I do not think you stand fair before the fourth commandment. You have jumped into fancied orders, and crept into God's church, as God's servant, and taken the oversight of his people; and it is well known that you have accumulated two fortunes since you have been in orders, if not by your orders. Now, as your present profession procured you your present possessions, when you was wed at the communion-table of the established church, you ought not to deny nor obscure so profitable a calling at a college, in order to get into a church pulpit. You ought to attend to the charge you have taken. I do not say that God set you at this work, for I am fully persuaded he never did. Yet spending your wives' money on a curate to do your work, while you are loitering about on the Sabbath, and trifling your time away after a few scraps of Greek, instead of reading your Bible, and preaching to the people, is a breach of the Sabbath. "Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day."
In one part of your sermon you call yourself a believer, ranking yourself with God's family. It is well known that God is the father, and Mount Zion, or the heavenly Jerusalem, is the free woman, and the mother of all the freeborn heirs of promise. But you have dishonoured God the Father, by telling lies in his name; and you have dishonoured our mother, by declaring that the binding yoke of the law is upon her neck; debasing her to the servitude and drudgery of Hagar the bondwoman, who never was married. You are to honour your father and mother, but you dishonour both.
You own, in this sermon of yours, that the man who injures his brother's reputation, or hurts his character, is a murderer, because he is angry with his brother; and I am sure you are angry with me without a cause. You charge me with sophistry, cunning, and Antinomianism, when you cannot overthrow one truth that I preach, nor bring any just charge against my life or walk, unless you look for perfection in the flesh, to which I never expect to attain. I believe in my heart that you and your combination are in arms against me, from no other motive than in behalf of your own honour, and because you evidently see that God blesses my labours without the assistance of connexions, pompous appearances, and the political schemes that you make use of. This, according to your sermon, is murder, and you know the law says, "Thou shalt not kill."
You speak, in some parts of your sermon, as if your soul was espoused to Christ, for you talk about faith and love, though you know nothing about either. It is well known that faith leads to Christ, that love unites with him; and that souls thus united are married to the Saviour. But your first husband is not dead, for you say the law is your delight and your food. If so, you are not dead to it, nor is it dead to you, therefore you have no right to marry another. "Know ye not, brethren (for I speak to them that know the law), how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then, if while her husband liveth she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but, if her husband be dead, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress though she be married to another man. Wherefore ye are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." But you are not dead to the law, for you get food from it; nor is the law become dead to you, for you smite it, and get refreshment; and, as you are alive to it, it has dominion over you; this power it holds as long as a man liveth, or is alive to it; to talk therefore of faith in Christ, while your first husband liveth, is adultery. "Thou shalt not commit adultery."
You have stolen a great part of my sermon, and preached as your own doctrine, even while you was preaching against it, and against me, the author of it. The law says, "Thou shalt not steal." "Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words, every one from his neighbour."
And, having accused me of preaching false doctrines, bringing in a new law, acting the part of a sophist, and deceiving people by cunning, thereby injuring my ministry, and rendering it contemptible to the people, while you know that your whole charge is palpable falsehood, you are guilty of a breach of the ninth commandment, because you have deceitfully and wickedly borne false witness against your neighbour.
In short, coveting after money, the gown and cassock, the appearance of a dignified minister, together with human wisdom, and a rectory or a vicarage, makes you at once lie counter to the whole law; nor will your doctrine or your conduct lie straight with any other rule in God's book.
Your running away from your lawful calling, without any call to the ministry, or qualifications for it, and at a time too when so many new buildings are going on, and plasterers are so much wanted, is another act of your disobedience; "Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work." God says, If any man will not work, neither shall he eat, 2 Thess. iii. 10. But you have another throw at me for mentioning the word original.
'But you may plainly see the sophistry and cunning of such a man; and frequently they (he it should have been, according to the nominative case) talk about the original, which puts me in mind of a young man, of whom I have heard, who was an infidel, and was sporting in company at the expense of the sacred truths of God. It should have been worded thus, who was sporting with the sacred truths of God, at the peril of his soul. On a sudden he says, I will prove that Jesus Christ was an impostor; for he tells us, in one of his gospels, with respect to bottles, that the new is better than the old; Now pray where is the difference? Is not one as good as the other? And he thought that he had carried his point by the pleasure that appeared on the countenances of the company. But a grave divine, who happened to be present, says, Do you understand the Greek, sir? The Greek, sir! No, says he, every body knows a bottle is a bottle all the world over. But, sir, says the divine, the original means leather or skin bottles; and, in this point of view, the one must be better than the other; for it was a custom in those days to put their liquors into those bottles. So there the original was of use. And we find that criticisms go a great way to explain sacred truths, when all the circumstances are taken into consideration, such as when and where spoken, and such like.'
In this paragraph I find criticisms go a great way toward explaining the sacred truths of God; therefore I shall make use of them, in order to pull off the false gloss that you have cast upon the parable of the bottles.
You give me a throw for mentioning the word original, which to me appears no crime, for I believe an experienced Christian, who is under the divine tuition of God's Spirit, is, in the best sense of the word, an original, for he learns the first good lesson and the best that ever was taught. And, as God says that all his children shall be taught of him, who is the first and the best teacher, accord to Job, "God exalteth by his power; Who teacheth like him?" I think such a pupil may boast of antiquity, or talk about the original, without sin, seeing God is the Ancient of days.
I see no cause why the word original should be confined to a man that has picked up a few odds and ends of Greek; especially if we consider that God's divine teaching was in the world above two thousand years before he smote any tongue of the presumptuous Babel-builders with the dialect of Greece. And who could ever have thought that the effects of God's displeasure against a combined company of rebels, which was intended to scatter the proud in the imaginations of their hearts; to blast their measures, confound their wisdom, discover their presumption, and leave them exposed to eternal contempt and ridicule; for Christ says that in the great day many shall "mock, saying, This man began to build, but was not able to finish:" I say, who could have thought that the effects of God's anger should ever have been the cause of so many carnal fools' triumph, and the only qualifications for so many blind guides to steal, like the devil, into God's fold.
It was the literal Babel-builders who were first confounded and routed by God's smiting their tongues with various languages; and to the mystical Babel-builders the Saviour applies both their scorn and confusion; and by this your sermon it appears as if your combination were determined to keep the charter.
I suppose you have your answer ready; Paul thanked God that he spake with tongues more than they all. Yet I take him in a spiritual point of light; that by his own experience, and the Spirit's teaching, he was enabled to come home to every sinner's conscience in the sight of God, and to lay open the hypocrisy of the sinner's heart, which all the Greek and Hebrew in the world will never enable a man to do, if he be destitute of divine inspiration. This may be easily gathered from Paul's caution against building on human wisdom. "He that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man," says Paul. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." God hides his mysteries from the wise and prudent, and reveals them unto babes.
I declare I have had several gentlemen of family and learning, that have come to hear me out of curiosity, who have behaved with decency, and spoke of me with honesty; and have rather wished me success in the work than otherwise; and, to the best of my remembrance, not one of this stamp ever treated me with contempt or ridicule; while such as you, who are almost as ignorant of English grammar as myself, have been hunting me with slander ever since God sent me out.
We come now to the mystery of the bottles; and, as you have brought this in to answer various purposes; namely, to justify your conduct in running to a college; to render those incapable of God's work who are not masters of the original languages; and to exalt yourself as a scholar; I shall criticize both your Greek and the mystery of the bottles; and endeavour to settle these things on their own bases, according to the original text.
With respect to bottles, or vessels; for the original does not confine us any more to the word bottle than it does to the word cask; it is clear that the Israelites had glass among them even in the days of Moses; for the inside of the laver, which was covered with brass, and had brazen feet, was made of the women's looking-glasses, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle to give their offering, Exod. xxxviii. 8. We read also of potters' vessels, or bottles, Jer. xix. 1; and of wooden vessels, 2 Tim. ii. 20. And I believe of leather bottles, or vessels; because it is said of the Gibeonites that "they took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old and rent, and bound up," Josh. ix. 4.
But those to which the Saviour had reference might just as well be wooden vessels as leather; for an old wooden cask is no more fit for new wine than an old one made of leather. However, according to the Greek text that you refer us to, where the parable of the vessels is mentioned, I think you rather take an advantage of us poor illiterate people; which to me appears no better than turning the blind out of his way. The Saviour mentions vessels, but says nothing about what sort, whether square, round, or bellied; whether they were bottles or casks, nor whether they were made of wood, skin, glass, or leather; for the text that you allude to has neither the word skin nor leather in it.
Nor do they pour wine new into vessels old.
I shall endeavour to explain the text in the spiritual meaning, and leave you to judge of the matter.
The original text, which the Saviour quoted at the beginning of the parable, was taken from the evangelical speech of Elihu to Job. "And Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine opinion. I said, day's should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom. But there is a spirit in man; and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. Great men are not always wise; neither do the aged understand judgment. They were amazed; they answered no more; they left off speaking. I said, I will answer also my part; I also will shew mine opinion. For I am full of matter: the spirit within me constraineth me. Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles," Job xxvii. 6, 7, 8, 9, 15, 17, 18, 19.
In this wonderful speech of Elihu, he speaks of God's Spirit in man, which he calls the inspiration of the Almighty, that giveth men understanding. This spirit of inspiration he calls matter, or a constraining power, which, for the want of vent, he compares to wine; "My belly," or heart, "is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles."
The Saviour takes two texts from this speech; the first is this, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the spirit, which they that believe on him should receive." Here the Saviour quotes from Elihu; "Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent." Elihu's saying, "I will speak, that I may be refreshed," or eased, the Saviour calls living water flowing out.
The reason of the Saviour's bringing in the other text was on account of the Pharisees, who found fault with his eating with publicans and sinners; to which the Saviour answers, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?" The Saviour answers, "Can the children of the bride-chamber mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?" My Spirit and my presence is both their joy and their food. "But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast." No man putteth new cloth on an old garment; nor do they pour wine new into vessels old, Matth. ix. 16, 17.
What Elihu calls the Spirit, the inspiration of the Almighty, and constraining matter, the Saviour here calls new wine; and, as Elihu compared his belly, or his heart, to bottles; and, being filled with inspiration, to wine which wanted vent; the Saviour intimates, that the believer shall become a new creature, by being born again, and shall be blessed with a new spirit, which, on the account of his enlivening comforting operations, he compares to new wine.
A man transformed by the renewing of his mind, and filled with the spirit of love, joy, and peace, is thus spoken of in scripture; "This people have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise." Again, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels." A soul blessed with inspiration is called a vessel of mercy.
Again, a heart filled with the Spirit is compared to "a well of living water, springing up into everlasting life." And in the above text he is compared to a new vessel filled with new wine, which in reality is what God has promised; "I will give them a new heart," there is the vessel; and "a new spirit," there is the wine. But, if a man be not created anew, as Balaam and Saul were not, though the Spirit, or the new wine, be said to come upon them; yet the wine ran out, the Spirit left them, and both those bottles, or vessels, perished?Balaam by the sword of Israel, and Saul by his own sword.
Had I been in company with that young gentleman who was sporting with the word of God, instead of the grave Divine you speak of, I should have addressed him in the following manner: 'Young man, "all scripture is given by inspiration of God;" and "a natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." You must know, young man, that God speaks to us by similitudes, because of our shallow comprehensions. Sometimes in scripture an honest heart is compared to good ground, God's word and Spirit to good seed, and a holy life to a flourishing crop of corn. Sometimes a man is called a vessel of mercy. Sometimes a good heart is compared to the vessel of a lamp, and God's spirit to oil in it. Sometimes a good heart is compared to a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. And sometimes it is compared to a new vessel filled with new wine. And spiritual conversation from such a good heart is said to refresh and comfort others. While, on the other hand, such a heart as yours is compared to stony and thorny ground, that bears nothing but thorns, whose end is to be cursed, Heb. vi. 8. Your heart is compared to a vessel without oil; to a well without water; to a vessel of wrath. You are an old bottle, not created anew in Christ, or new born, but in your old fleshly state; and are therefore compared to an old stinking vessel or bottle, fit for nothing but to be broken and destroyed. "Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel; therefore his taste remaineth in him, and his scent is not changed. The days come, saith the Lord, that I will send him wanderers, that shall cause him to wander, and shall empty his vessels and break their bottles," Jer. xlviii. 11, l2. Thus, young man, thou art a bottle, to be broken to pieces like a potter's vessel, if you die in your present state; and, as there is nothing in your heart but confusion and rebellion against God, you are justly compared to a bottle of smoke, Psalm cxix. 83; which it is to be feared will end at last in the fire of eternal wrath.'
Had the grave Divine adopted this method he would have stopped his mouth, and exposed his ignorance full as well, if not better, and in a more becoming manner, than telling a lie in Greek.
I shall quote no more of your performance, as you are drawing to a conclusion, and only rehearsing the old story over again; which, for want of matter, is repeated no less than six or seven times. Men that can preach such stuff as this, and those that can recommend it in prayer to the people, and beg God's blessing on it, are strangers to the teaching that I am under.
Mr. Belly, who charged God's word with impurity, and Mr. Holywell-Mount, who called the discourse superlatively excellent, know nothing savingly of God neither of them. To use the form of prayer, and mimic the appearance of ministers of the establishment, are things that my conscience could never brook; nor do I think it any part of the ministry to preach or to dress in robes to please men, much less a set of selfrighteous Pharisees, or dead formalists. Mimicking the orator; adapting the attitudes, actions, or manner of others; aiming at great swelling words; and attempting to affect the tender feelings or soft, passions of depraved nature, my soul hates.
Pompous appearances, and public parading, to assemble and excite the curiosity of a multitude, with the assistance of an organ, and such trumpery rattle traps, may serve to charm fallen nature, lay carnal prejudice in a trance, and fill a house with hypocrites; but conversion to God is another thing. Religion goes best on her own wheels. Leave truth to gain ground by her own evidence, and esteem by her naked simplicity. She wants no varnish; human craft may obscure her beauty, but will never add to her lustre.
For my part, I believe the whole revealed will of God to be the believer's rule. The New Testament, as well as the Old, is a revelation of God's will; and God's will is the believer's rule. These assertions neither make the law void, nor injure it; and I think it is a better way of speaking, than to be crying out the law is the only rule, because it has a tendency to seduce the mind of a weak believer from the Saviour; and we know that, as soon as the covenant of works and he meet together, they fall to hugging one another, till bondage be gendered, Gal. iv. 24; and, as soon as the mind is veiled and fettered, then the carnal enmity shews itself. Then he gets to striving and struggling, but gains no ground; he fights, but only beats the air; for sin takes occasion by the commandment, and it is impossible the law should subdue it; this is the foolishness of him that "perverteth his way, and his heart fretteth against the Lord," Prov. xix. 3. And how should it be otherwise, when the law worketh wrath? Rom. iv. 15. The believer is commanded to love God and his neighbour; and he is under the highest obligation to it, because God has loved him, and circumcised his heart that he might love his God again. This is the old commandment, and includes the new one; and in keeping these there is great reward; for a sense of divine love is present pay, and an everlasting portion. The pleasing law of love is in the believer's heart; and that law is the most preveiling with him, as it constrains to obedience.
Thus he is not without law to God, but under the law to Christ. Enforcing the Spirit's work, a spiritual walk, and a union with the living vine, is the best way to obtain fruit; the branch cannot bear it of itself. But to expect spiritual fruits by enforcing legal principles is like washing the Ethiopian white, Jer. xiii. 23; or braying the fool in a mortar, Prov. xxvii, 22. "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh."
If these doctrines are Antinomianism, I have no objection to the name they entitle me to. I thank God that he owns and blesses them, in bringing many sinners to Christ Jesus; and I much question if he has not done as much of his work by the instrumentality of your despised air balloon, as one of your company styles me, as he has by some societies who style themselves evangelical. For I am fully persuaded that God will never set his seal to such doctrines as yours. And, as for the success of your ministry, you can say but little about that; nor do I see how you should; for, if people run before they are sent, God says they shall not profit the people at all.
That is the most profitable doctrine which God owns and blesses the most, in turning sinners from darkness to light, and from the power of sin and Satan to God, Acts xxvi. 18; from the commanding power of the law to do for life, as a covenant of works, and from the condemning power of the same, the believer is delivered. Deny either of these, "then is the offence of the cross ceased." And you may as well preach up circumcision; "Circumcision and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God" for life, 1 Cor. vii. 19. "He that is circumcised is a debtor to do the whole law." And, as you preach up the binding power of the law over all the saints, you ought to preface your doctrine with the old text: "Except ye be circumcised, and keep the law of Moses, ye cannot be saved."
I conclude, begging no favours, craving no quarters, scraping no acquaintance, desiring no connexion, expecting no thanks, for the pains that I have taken in this work. But I shall submit to the decision of the great Judge, before whom we shall all shortly appear; and then it will be known that "not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth."
For the present I shall pursue my old method, that is if I hear of any new preacher, or new publication, or new combinations, that make a great stir in the world, I shall watch the hand and approbation of God; and, if he countenance them with his presence, and the power of his seal, I shall judge it to be of God; and shall ever love those in my heart that have success in the work of the Lord. But when I find preachers, books, or combinations, that exalt fallen nature, nurse human pride, countenance conformity to the world, charm Pharisees, encourage hypocrites, and disgust the children of God, I shall ever believe the devil to have the chief hand in that preacher, that book, or that combination.