Forty Stripes Save None for Satan
THE DEVIL BEATEN WITH RODS.
"Now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments; For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods." Exo VII. 11, 12.
I THINK I may call Satan God's ape; for whatsoever the Almighty does from heaven above, the devil tries to imitate on earth beneath; only God intends our salvation, and Satan our destruction. If God send his angels as ministering spirits, to minister to them that are heirs of salvation, Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, to imitate them. God sent Moses and Aaron, Satan sent Jannes and Jambres to counterfeit their works. When God sent persons in the character of prophets into the world, Satan sent four hundred prophets to one. When God ordered Solomon to build him a temple, the devil strewed the heathen world with temples. When God sent priests, Satan sent Chemarims, Zeph. i. 4. 'When God ordered sacrifices for Israel, then the Gentiles were set to offer sacrifices to devils. When God sent the highest officers, called apostles, into the church, then Satan sent false apostles, transformed as the ministers of righteousness. And, soon after
-God had set his King upon his holy hill of Zion, the devil gave the pope his seat and great authority at Rome. If the Lord makes his ministers burning and shining lights, Satan sends others to counterfeit them with his rays. " Take heed," says the Lord, " that the light that is in thee be not darkness;" if it be, how great is that darkness! Luke xi. 35. If God blesses his children with the full assurance of faith. Satan sets the fool to rage and be confident, in imitation of them. And, if any be commissioned by the Lord to preach, to cast out devils, and work miracles, workers of iniquity plead that they have done the same. " Lords have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?" If love to the brethren constrains the primitive saints to sell all that they have to supply the needs of the righteous, Satan fills the heart of Annanias and Sapphira to imitate them, only to keep back part of the price. If God enables his servants to seal the truth that they have preached with their blood, it is allowed that a child of Satan may give all his goods to feed the poor, and his body to be burnt, and yet not have charity. If a servant of God is liberal to the poor, and a rebuker of iniquity, Satan's children are up with them; " To what purpose is this waste? why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?" If God orders lambs and kids for sacrifices, the devil orders children to be burnt alive to him; an infant being
a sweeter morsel to a devil than the firstling of the flock. They sacrificed their children to devils, Psalm cvi. 37; and made them pass through the fire to Moloch, Jer. xxxii. 3.. If God raises the widow's son, and the son of the Shunamite, the devil imitates him who is the resurrection and the life, and pretends to bring up Samuel. If God grants his children fellowship with himself and his dear Son, the lion of the bottomless pit ceases to rage and roar, and becomes a familiar spirit. If prophets predict future events by the Spirit of prophecy, Satan's children divine, and pretend to the same by enchantments, astrology, and conjuration. If God condescends to espouse souls to himself as a husband, Satan turns wooer and whoremonger; " And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring," Lev. xvii. 7. If God keeps that man in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon him, Satan keeps possession of his palace and his goods in peace also. If the children of God are joyful, the way-side hearers are the same. If a saint departs this life in freedom from fear and bondage, the offspring of Satan are up with him; The wicked have no bands in their death, their strength is firm, Psalm lxxiii. 4. If God orders Moses to smite the waters and turn them into blood, Satan orders his magicians to do the same, Exod. vii. 22. God calls for frogs, Satan's instruments imitate them, Exod. viii. 7. God orders dust to be turned into lice, and Satan tried to imitate that; but God put his hook in his jaws, and baffled the king of darkness and all his princes, in the open court of Egypt, by a louse.
Then my reader may say, What are we to do with this arch-hypocrite? Why, the Lord has promised to give us power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and that nothing shall by any means hurt us, Luke x. 19. Nevertheless, we must use Aaron's rod; it is still in the hand of our great High Priest, who is the hope of his people and the strength of the children of Israel. The rod of power, in the hand of Aaron, swallowed up all the rods of the magicians. And the rod of the Lord's strength, that was sent out of Zion, is the gospel, by which he rules in the midst of Jerusalem: this rod is the word of Jesus. " He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked."
Satan deceived the whole world with two lies, Ye shall not die, but be as gods. This entitled him to the honour of being the father of lies. And there is nothing Satan labours harder at than to get poor souls to trust in a lie; for God has declared that lie who goes down to the grave with a lie in his hand cannot deliver his soul; nor shall any thing enter into the heavenly Jerusalem that loveth and maketh a doctrinal lie. Hence the Saviour's caution, " Take heed what ye hear;" and his charge, " Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown;" and his promise,. " Because thou hast kept the word of my patience. I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." There is no playing at the hole of this asp, but in faith; nor any other way of belabouring Satan, but by the rod of truth; nor of being more than a conqueror, but by sovereign love. Hence you read, " They over came him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony;" and again, " We are more than conquerors through him that loved us." But we must be valiant for truth, and smite every liar with this rod as far as God is pleased by his Spirit to discover truth to us. The father of lies hates the truth, and the king of darkness hates divine light.
I have, in this little treatise, reader, been hunting an old heresy, with which I was pestered and tormented many years ago: the seeds of which have lately been revived; and some few, who are known to me, are secretly leavened with it. I call it a heresy, for such God discovered it to me long since. I have no other end in view, in this work, than to disentangle those that fear God, who may be caught in this snare: as to others, if God gives them up to a strong delusion, they are sure to be steadfast till they lift up their eyes beyond the grave. I have stuck as close to the scriptures as I could in pointing out the error, and have set truth against it as plainly, as clearly, and made the matter as intelligible, as God has been pleased to enable me; though I expect little else but reproach for my pains: nevertheless it is the truth, and God himself revealed it to me. And I will appeal to every Sabellian's conscience, that holds the lie, for confirmation of this truth; that they never got their doctrine from God upon their knees, as I got mine. They cannot say, with Paul, that their doctrine is not after men. " For I received it not of man, neither was I taught it but by the revelation of Jesus Christ; for it pleased God to reveal his Son in me," Gal. i. 12, 16. But, alas, alas! those that know not the profound deceits of the human heart, and the depths of Satan, believe every word; and no wonder, for they receive not the word at God's mouth.
Reader, carefully attend to what I have written; and beg earnestly of God, before thou read it, to shew thee whether I am right or wrong: then thou wilt act a safe part with thyself, and an honourable part with me. I am earnestly contending for the doctrine of the Trinity; the greatest and grandest article of the faith that was once delivered to the saints, and the most weighty and most dangerous matter to be trifled with in all the book of God. That to cause the simple soul to err in the fountain is the devil's masterpiece I know, by sad experience of the perpetual buffetings of Satan for some years; for which villany he is here beaten with rods.
Reader, that God would bless thee, and keep thee, cause his face to shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee, lift up the light of his countenance upon thee and give thee peace, is the prayer and desire of Thy willing servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,
Nov. 1792, W. H.
To W. a JOHNS,
And those in Connexion with him at Chatham, in Kent.
FEW days ago a letter was put into my hands, which had been sent to Mr. Main, Toyman, in Bond street, who stands in connexion with us, relative to the death of Mr. Vessey; and in which William Huntington stands highly reprehended. This letter, having been sent among many who attend on my ministry, has laid me under an obligation of taking public notice of it, and assigning what I think to be sufficient reasons for my conduct with respect to the deceased. The charges brought against me are the following
We now think it our indispensable duty to prove that Mr. Huntington's conduct, so far as it respects Mr. Vessey, is truly reprehensible. Dear sir, I shall refer you to the written word: Judge not, except it be righteous judgment. He never has yet judged righteously concerning him; he has been guided by, or has believed, the evidence of man, without examining of what spirit he was;
instead of adhering to the written word: " Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world," 1 John iv. 1- And in giving judgment, " he that trusts in his own heart is a fool." Mr. Huntington hath erred in judgment, he hath never taken counsel of the Wonderful Counsellor, who teacheth to profit. The word saith, He that offendeth one of these little ones offendeth me. If we know any thing of divine matters, he hath never had access at a throne of grace concerning the subject; yet, on the other hand, blessed be God, it has been a means of sending our dear brother Vessey many times to a throne of grace, where he has left his burdens; so if he was cast down, it was for our sakes.'
In the first place, the word saith, " Trust ye not a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide." Mr. Reed, when he joined Mr. Huntington's connection, cast off all correspondence with our departed friend, agreeable to his pastoral advice, and contrary to his experience. Time would fail to quote the various texts that would condemn their conduct. Dear sir, our aim in this epistle is to condemn their conduct, not to reprobate them as unbelievers, so far as it respects our departed friend. Our reason for this freedom with your address, was from the apprehension we had of Mr. Reed's misconstruing what is here wrote, through the darkness of his mind. If Mr. Huntington and Mr. Reed both see this epistle, we can testify
that these are the true sayings of God. We conclude with our affection and love to you, and to all that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity; and are,
Your brethren in Christ,
The Church in Best street, Chatham.
GEORGE DAVIS, senior, GEORGE DAVIS, junior.'
These are the charges which are brought against Mr. Huntington: to all which I shall reply, and appeal to Mr. Johns for his approbation.
But I shall first give a narrative of my knowledge of Mr. Vessey, and then assign the reasons for my conduct with him, which is so reprehensible.
And to begin: It is now about eleven or twelve years since I first went to preach at Sunbury, in Middlesex, where Mr. Vessey first came to hear me; who then worked as a carpenter at Lord Milsington's. After seeing his face a few times under my ministry, he came and caught me by the hand, and appeared filled with glee and raptures; and indeed I never once saw him in any other frame all the years that I knew him; which has not been the path in which the Almighty has thought proper to lead me; nor do I desire it, for
they that are not in the path of tribulation are out of the way, and they that have no changes fear not God.
During his attendance on my ministry in that place, he frequently came after service and spoke to me in the same light, trifling way, but not with the least appearance of seriousness; besides, in those days he had always a young woman by his side, a person without any appearance of religion, with whom, as I was informed, he always went home in the night; which is not one of the things that accompany salvation, or that always attend a penitent sinner at his first setting out in the ways of God.
After he had attended me for some considerable time at Sunbury, he came to hear me at Ditton and Richmond, and several times he took an opportunity of walking with me; at which times he asked me many questions about the sense of scrip_ tures, but never appeared to me to have the least sight or sense of sin, nor the least appearance of grace; nor did I then speak to him as to a child of God, but simply answered his questions, viewing him no more than a seeker. During this time he got acquainted with a Mr. Butler and a Mr Stephens, and another young man, all of whom attended me at times both at Ditton and Richmond.
This Mr. Butler had been in a profession, such an one as it was, before ever I knew any thing of the Lord, and before I knew him.. This man was
the most puzzling character in his profession that ever staggered or confounded me. His gifts and knowledge of the letter of scripture were such as I had never seen before. He would reprove and rebuke every ungodly wretch in the town, when I have been as a dumb man, in whose mouth are no reproofs; he would carry my field-pulpit after me, and set it up before a multitude of the most daring scoffers and persecutors, and at the same time, to all appearance, with the very joys of heaven in his face, while I have followed after him trembling like a criminal in chains. He would run over the scriptures by the hour, when I have not had a word of truth in all my thoughts. He was very conscientious, and esteemed for honesty wherever he worked; and, when his day's work was done, he would sit down and read and study the scriptures, chiefly the historical part. His garden lay up to the shoulders in weeds, seldom or never dug or planted; he would not spend any of his leisure time but in the word of God; and, if at any time he saw me in an evening planting my garden, he would give me a gentle reproof for it, though he fre quently sent to beg the produce of my garden. He would not so much as attend his master's pay-table at the week's end, because it was at a public house, but sent his daughter to receive his hire; nor would he take the trouble of keeping his money, but gave it all up to his wife, who frequently managed so badly as often to get in debt; which
debts the creditors generally threw in my teeth, as I stood in the front of the battle; and which, either by begging or out of my own pocket, I generally discharged. He that takes not care of his own house has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. Before this man I appeared for many years a poor dejected drone, or a mere idiot burdened with a daily cross, and the hourly buffetings of Satan, while this wonderful man appeared as if he was in the third heaven.
His highest comforts always succeeded some new discovery in the scriptures, or the application, as he called it, of some particular text or promise, none of which was ever fulfilled; and, when lie could find nothing new in the Bible, he was as a dead man, and at times impiously rebellious, even against God himself, for not indulging or gratifying his humour.
This man has at times so beat me about the head when I came down from the pulpit, in finding fault with my discourses, that I have sometimes said to the Almighty, Lord, if thou dost not pull this man down, where will he fly to?'
Whatever I attributed to the Spirit of God in my sermons respecting a work of grace on the heart, he always attributed to the word of God, which he said worked in every thing; and if I ever, in the course of my sermons, happened to mention the ever-blessed Trinity, he generally gave me a frown from his seat, and a stroke when I had done, telling me be wished that I would let
that alone; and, if I answered with any text from John or Paul, he replied, the vail was in part over them all, but in time God would take even that away:' intimating that future ages would see wherein the inspired writers had erred. These things staggered and perplexed me much, though I had but little time for dispute, for I was labouring hard in soul for three full years in making my calling clear to the ministry; for, although I saw evidently that God attended his word with power every Lord's day, and had at that time given me many seals to my ministry, yet I was generally laid in chains, and put into Satan's sieve, the greater part of the following week, begging God to pardon my presumption in attempting to run before I was sent. And the minister, who is a stranger to this call, is. not sent of God, let him be who he may.
The tenets of this man were, that there is but one person in the Godhead, which person he said is Christ; the other two persons are only names, or office-characters, concerning which, he said, the inspired penmen had not been clear; and whatever the scriptures attributed to the Spirit, as before observed, he always attributed to the word of scripture:
To the best of my knowledge, this man stood thus in his flaming profession near or quite ten years.
And as to Mr. Vessey, he was no more, when compared to this man for gifts, abilities, scriptureight, knowledge, argument, fluency, zeal, or cir-
cumspection in life, than I am to an angel. And, as for joys, such as they were, let Mr. Vessey be as joyful at his end as he might, this man exceeded him; and indeed he exceeded all that ever I saw. I have seen him on a sick-bed, and near death, and his joys were still the same; insomuch that I do believe, if he had died at that time, the whole neighbourhood would have been alarmed at his triumphant departure, and William Huntington would have been one of the first fools that would have proclaimed it, and would have sent him to heaven in a funeral sermon, as many are, who never went there in a fiery chariot; and no wonder; for, as hypocrites have not the rod of God upon them in life, so it is often seen, that they have no bands in their death, but their strength is firm. In short, I can now sec that all that Paul declares concerning the most accomplished hypocrite, in the epistle to the Hebrews, did conspicuously appear in that man.
Soon after my departure from Ditton to London, Mr. Butler began industriously to preach publickly, and circulate privately, his tenets wherever he had an opportunity. A lady, now sitting with me, is one upon whose judgment he laboured hard to fix his damnable heresy, when at Sunbury in Middlesex; who informed me by letter of his proceedings, which cost me many tears several weeks together. I found that he had drawn several persons into the same snare with himself; and therefore one Lord's-day, at Rich-
mond, I preached on the subject of the glorious
Trinity; and, after I had done, desired them to
meet me in the vestry. Captain Duckett, Mr.
Hunter of the King's Observatory, and my dear
friend Mr. Chapman' of Petersham, all of whom
are now living and well known, were present. I
asked them if they could put any constructions upon the personal pronouns I," he,' and they,' which did not express persons? and whether they could be applied, without the greatest confusion, to names, offices, or characters? Moreover I asked them, if when Christ said, " I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me," it does not clearly point out two distinct witnesses? And it is as clear that the Holy Ghost is another distinct witness, " whom God hath given to them that obey him," Acts v. 32. And he that believeth hath this witness in himself. And these are the three persons that bear record in heaven: by the river Jordan God bore witness in speaking from heaven; Christ, the faithful and true Witness, was heard speaking on earth; and the Holy Ghost seen in a bodily shape, like a dove. Again, Christ says, " And I will pray the Father, and he shall send you another Comforter," John xiv. 16. Here is Christ, the consolation of Israel, praying; the Father of all mercies, and God of all comfort, prayed to; and another Comforter is promised.
And it is clear that God is called a person, of whom Christ is the express image, " being the
brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person," Heb. i. 3. And as God the Father is a person, so also is Christ; and so Paul calls him, " And, if I forgave any thing, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ." And such Pilate understood Christ to be, " I am innocent of the blood of this just person." And, if the Holy Ghost is nothing but a name, the blasphemer of him would not be threatened with eternal damnation. But the Holy Ghost is another distinct person; he that denies this, denies the testimony of the living God, the temple of the Holy Ghost, and he that dwelleth therein. However, we have fellowship with the Father, which no Sabellian ever had; and fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ, which no liar can have; and we feel and enjoy the fellowship of the Spirit.
The testimony of heaven comes from the Father to the Son, and from the Son to the Spirit, who is the speaker to all the churches, Rev. i. 11. There is he who sits upon the throne, the Lamb in the midst of it, and the seven spirits before it; or the Holy Ghost, who is perfect God, with his sevenfold gifts; who shall abide with the saints for ever; who shall lead them into all truth. And again, when the Holy Ghost said, " Separate me Barnabas and Saul to the work whereunto I have called them;" does it not imply that the Holy Ghost is a person? Dr. Priestley himself is so sensible of this, that, in his Funeral Sermon publishedon the death of Mr. Robinson, formerly of Cam-
bridge, in applying the words to Mr. Robinson, he has put them thus, over which he was made an overseer;' instead of, " over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers." I asked them, If, when Christ calls his Father another Witness, and the Holy Ghost another Comforter, whether it did not imply three distinct persons? And if you say, No, it implies names, offices, and characters;' then I ask, What use is a name, when there is no person of that name? and what use is an office, if there be no person to execute that office? or a character, if no person to fill that character? What can a name, an office, or a character, which are but nonentities, without a person, do for us? Can a name or office, without a person or being, comfort, support, and instruct us; qualify men for the ministry, appoint them to it, support them in it, dispossess devils, and convert souls by it? I asked further, If I had a thousand pounds to leave a child of mine by will, and I leave it worded thus, I William Huntington leave, give, and bequeath, so and so, and to so and so, &c.' this is my will; and an attorney insists upon it that there never was any such person as William Huntington, but the name and personal pronoun is no more than an office or a character; and by the same rule make my child to be nothing but a name or office also, how is that child to fare? and who is to have the money? Can a name execute an office, or fill a character? If such con-
structions as these are to be put upon words, nouns, and pronouns, it would be easy to strip every man in this world of all that was ever left him by will, or secured to him by deed. And is not this charging Him who made man's mouth, and who creates the fruit of the lip, with ignorance, and with speaking nonsense? And sure I am, that, if I had been permitted to put such constructions upon Dr. Priestly's bills of indictment which were found against the rioters at Birmingham, as he has put upon the scriptures of truth, he would never have recovered one farthing damages.
Paul never deserted his colours, even when he fought with beasts, because Paul's Christ was God, and always stood by him; but the Doctor has denied this Lord of hosts, and he has denied the Doctor, or else he would never have fled from Birmingham, nor have left his flock: it is the hireling that fleeth. Nor would the Doctor have gone to law before the unbelievers to recover his loss, if he had ever seen, known, felt, or enjoyed, Paul's Christ; but have said as Paul did, " I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ." So much for the Doctor.
I asked Mr. Butler further, If he did not, in reading the scriptures, often find his mind and thoughts run against many scriptures of truth which stumbled and staggered him, which he was obliged to wrest, misconstrue, or pass over, andcatch at those which were expressive of the unity of the Godhead? and whether he could peruse the word, or meditate therein, without stumbling at the word? and whether he found the highway cast up, and the stumblingblocks so taken out of the way, as for all the scriptures to harmonize so as for no text to run counter to his sentiments; but that his thoughts were all established, his judgment informed, his mind stayed and kept in peace; his views and ideas in harmony with the scriptures, and straight paths made for his feet?
To all which Mr. Butler confessed that he could not find things so in his mind, but the reverse; though he tried to defend himself; he was confounded, his countenance fell, and he appeared covered with shame and confusion. All this can be -witnessed by six persons now living.
About this time I sent Mr. Butler a letter, and I never repented but once for not keeping a copy of it; I have also asked him for a sight of it more than once, but never could obtain it; however, it was written under so much grief and soul concern, and attended with such energy, that I believe he will never forget it in this world, nor in the next: in which I appealed to his conscience, whether God has not blessed the doctrine that I preached to the conversion of many souls, which he was now labouring to seduce; and whether any blessing, or any converting work, or even reformation, had ever attended any of his reproofs, rebukes, sermons, or instructions, that ever he delivered in all the nine
or ten years that he had been labouring and toiling at it? I asked him, moreover, whether it was likely that a man, so infallible in his principles as he thought himself to be, would meet with no success or blessing from God in his labours, while the power of God so visibly attended my labours in the word and doctrine, which, according to his judgment, could be nothing but falsehood? or if he thought that glory could redound to God by my lies? To all which he made no reply. But soon after this he had a dream, or a vision, of the Trinity, as he acknowledged to me; and down went his sandy foundation, false hopes, false doctrines, and refuges of lies, altogether; and lie soon found himself in black despair, without God, and without hope in the world: he began to tear his hair from his head, and in little better than distraction came up to London to me. God at the
same time gave me many inward checks and cautions to have no more to do with him: but universal charity construed that as a suggestion from another quarter. I therefore took him into my house, and kept him in frosty weather for ten weeks; and, as he was much in debt, I gave him a few guineas to pay some of his debts off: and soon after I gave him sixteen guineas more, to pay off the rest. I made him one of my pew-openers, and got his family to town; gave his wife and himself ten guineas a year to clean the chapel; and, with the materials' eft of the chapel when it was built, I built him a little cottage,
which cost me ten pounds more. Thus much for universal charity. He being a bricklayer by trade, and a good workman at fixing coppers, grates, &c. I got him work; but so strangely did he behave, that if any gentleman was pleased with his work, and offered him five or six shillings for his job, his conscience would not let him take it, he would return half of it back to them again; and, when he wanted money, he would come and beg a guinea of me, when I had been obliged to borrow all that I had given him before.
When he was at my house, he used to get up in the night, and pray so loud that you might have heard him out in the street; and when at dinner, if I filled his plate, he would eat a mouthful or two, and then, with an air of disdain, push the plate back to me, and throw back his head, and look with all the envy of a Turk. When he was at the chapel, as soon as I had entered the place, I used to hear him praying so loud that you might hear him all over the place; and when I entered the vestry, he would come after me bellowing like a bull for me to pray for him: and at the same
time I used to go crying to God, till I was quite
worn out with this abominable hypocrite.
His daily practice was telling every body that came in his way what a profession he had made, and what a perilous state lie was in; by which he staggered and threw down many that were weak in faith, hardened many hypocrites, and opened the mouths of many of the ungodly to reproach the good
and left. In him I saw wretched rebellion, presumption, a sinning wilfully, and a falling away; and, after three years labour in praying for him and sympathizing with him, I found and sensibly felt the impossibility of renewing such an one again to repentance: which God had impressed my mind with soon after he fell, if I had understood it; but God speaks once, yea twice, but man perceiveth it not.
The things in which this man's fall established me are these:
1. That those who run unsent of God, let their gifts, abilities, life, and walk, be whatever they may, shall never profit God's people at all. They may convert men to themselves, but they never shall convert a soul to God; it being impossible that such should communicate the Spirit, grace, strength, or divine comfort, from the enjoyment of pardoning love, so as to say, with Paul, " thank my God that you are all partakers of my grace;" they being sensual men, and destitute of all these things. Nor was this man of the least use, in this sense, to any soul living, either professor or profane; he stumbled many, but seasoned none, for there was no salt in him.
2. I was established in this truth; that, whatever speculative knowledge a man may have, if he have not an unctuous experience of the power of God on the heart, his knowledge and gifts will only puff him up with pride, till he fall into the condemnation of the devil. " Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
3. That a seducer of the saints is the blackest character in this world, and the deepest sufferer in the next. Butler told me, with the sighs and I groans of the damned, that he knew that the heresy he had propagated was not given up by many that had embraced it. The blood of the slain will be required at the watchman's hand.
4. That there is no such way to heaven as those professors have cast up who are destitute of a spiritual birth, which is termed a being drawn by love, and having the heart opened like the heart of Lydia. Mr. Butler vas in this path; and, when lie heard me enforcing a sense of sin, and a spirit wounded under it, he said, He is got upon his own dunghill again; he thinks to bring them all his own way, but be never will.' However, I know that my way is the path of the just; and they that die out of it will be damned, die when they may; for none but the sick need the physician, none are called to repentance but sinners, none are sons but them that are chastened, and those that never were lost never were saved.
5. That to stumble and take offence at an essential truth is a certain prelude to a fearful fall, He stumbled and took offence at the doctrine of the Trinity, and at them that preached it; he was too wise in his own conceit to submit to divine revelation, and to an humble " acknowledg
ment of the mystery of God, and of the Father,
and of Christ," Col. ii. 2. And so it shall be; for many shall stumble, and fall, and be snared, and be broken, and be taken. To be wise above what is written, is to exceed the pride of a devil: and for a poor crawling worm, destitute of grace, to attempt to correct the revelation that the incomprehensible Jehovah hath given of himself; by correcting and contradicting God, turning per-
sons into nonentities, beings into empty names, and personal pronouns into office-characters; surely
he must needs be wise that thus teaches God knowledge. I knew a young man about the time of Mr. Butler's fall, or soon after, who belonged to us, and seemed a simple young man, but by some means stumbled into Mr. Butler's heresy; he then sent me a very long insolent letter of there being but one person in the Godhead, and quoted a number of passages from the scriptures expressive of the unity of God, but left out all those that mention a plurality of persons; and in this letter he returned his ticket, or token of admission among us, which was to let me know that lie had odlone with me, and with all such blind guides as he took me to be: and, indeed, his letter was pregnant with such ignorance and presumption as made me shudder. I sent him word that he was a Sabellian, and that this persuasion came not from him that called him, nor did he ever get it from God in answer to prayer: and so he soon found it, for he shortly fell into great distressand horror of soul. A person ran away likewise in his debt and brought him to beggary, and soon after he was struck blind; but after many long struggles and deep sufferings, he recovered with the loss of one of his eyes. And for some years past this gentleman, as well as Mr. Butler, has had work enough to buoy themselves up in the deep waters, without trifling with a consuming fire. However, I have some hope of the latter, but none of the former.
Mr. Butler got his notion from these words in Mr. Hart's Hymns, as he has informed me:
For all true Israelites adore
One God, Immanuel, and no more.
The observations that I made on his profession, after his fall, are the following:
He never appeared to be, as all God's elect are, crying day and night to God: if ever he was bowed down, it was when he was in debt and dunned for money, or else when he could not find. any fresh discovery in the Bible. They that have no changes fear not God.
He had no daily cross upon his back, nor the least appearance of an humble mind; no broken heart; no godly sorrow that worketh repentance, nor of that repentance that needed not to be repented of; without which there is no Christ in the heart, nor salvation applied; and without which, the higher the hypocrite flies the deeper he falls.
His prayers were singular, expressive of dictating to God; and often he was speaking to the people instead of God: they were always dry, barren, and empty, savouring of horrors, put up with trembling and in bondage; or else they savoured of unbecoming boldness and presumption: they were expressive of the greatest distance, destitute of all freedom, familiarity, nearness, access, union, communion, fellowship, or friendship; consequently there was no unction, savour, power, or feeling, in them.
He could chatter away about the scriptures for hours together, just like Solomon's prating fool, or like Paul's instrument without life, giving sound: such viols being always in tune, and the bass-string sure to be nothing but self. After this long digression I must return to Mr. Vessey,
Who, soon after he had heard me, got intimately acquainted with Mr. Butler, and became one of his pupils; for he had so industriously circulated his heresy that several persons were leavened by it. Mr. Ridly for one, Mr. Stephens, and another young man, who is since become an awful apostate. Mr. Ridly, who was called under my ministry, was reclaimed, and is now with us Mr. Stephens, of Moulsy, in Surry, is, I have some reason to believe, still in the delusion; for Mr. Vessey desired that he might preach his funeral sermon, and on the last Lord's day he went down to perform it. He, has been preaching for some years, but never did any good, nor do I believe he
ever will. Soon after Mr. Vessey had been a little qualified at the foot of Mr.. Butler, he came to London, and joined a society that kept up a prayer meeting, where they prayed and expounded the scriptures. Mr. Vessey appeared among the speakers; and one night, in the hearing of my dear friend Mrs. Baker, he desired the people to stop: he wished to mention something of his state of mind to them, and began to inform them that he had some uneasiness, because he never had felt any thing of that inward distress that God's people speak of; intimating that he was a stranger to the plague of his own heart, to conviction by the Spirit, and to that soul-travail that attends all, more or less, who are born again of God; but the people got up and went out, not staying to hear it. About this time he did several jobs for my dear friend Mr. Baker, but always appeared in a light, vain, trifling spirit, and not with the least appearance of the grace of God. Soon after this he removed to Woolwich, where, in process of time, I heard that he had commenced preacher; at which I never was more surprised, for I should as soon have thought that my little girl was turned preacher. In process of time Mr. Barret and Mr. Olliff, who often preach for me, brought tidings of his wonderful gifts, knowledge, zeal, boldness, and success in making converts, and of his preaching out of doors and in doors. These tidings reaching my ears perpetually, and through much entreaty, I was prevailed on to go down
and open his new place, not knowing what God might have done, for him; but soon after I heard that he preached up that nothing was faith but full assurance, at which time I wrote my Cry of Little Faith. Some time after this I was prevailed on to let him preach at Providence Chapel: and once I heard him; and, hearing some things that I did not approve of, I never let him come there again. A few friends informed me also, that he had privately circulated it about, that I greatly erred in the doctrine of the Trinity, which confirmed me that he was deeply rooted in Mr. Butler's heresy; and Mr. Barret and Mr. 011iff told me that they began to discover him. Soon after which a letter was sent among some people in connection with me, which after some time fell into my hands. It was .a vindication of himself from the charge of Arianism, which he might easily do,. for he was a Sabellian. I sent him a line to inform him that his letter was not sound, and that I would print a dissection of it. He sent me a note, desiring me not to do it, for in a few days he should be in town, and he would call on me, which he never did.
At length a gentleman, a Mr. Davis, of Chatham, who I had known for some years, called on me, and informed me of Mr. Vessey's success at Chatham, of his soundness in the faith, of his usefulness, and of his being instrumental in calling his own son. Knowing this gentleman, and that he had stood many years in a profession; andviewing him a man capable of judging, I was persuaded that the various reports raised were false, and I was willing to hope the best: he told me, moreover, that they were going to build him a place, and he wished me much to come down to Chatham. I told the gentleman of the various reports I had heard; he affirmed that they were all false. I then asked how he came to write to my people and not to me? and why he promised to come to me and dispute the point, and did not? &c. Mr. Davis strongly defended and vindicated him, and told me that he should come to me. To which I replied, that, if the reports be false, he is an injured man; and, if so, and he goes on and prospers, I will come down to Chatham, and will assist him in any thing I can.
Some time after this a letter came. At the time of its coming I was not at home. My wife, having received it, laid it up for me, and forgeting to give it me, I knew nothing of the appointment; and so he came, in company with Mr. Davis, while I was gone to High Wycombe, where I had been previously engaged for a fortnight before, so that I saw him not. At my return my wife informed me who had been to see me, and gave me the letter he had sent. His coming I thought looked well: but I was soon informed, by 011iff
and Barret, that that I had formerly thought
)t the man and his doctrines was true; and others informed me that some persons who know me, but are no friends of mine, were secretly rejoicing;
saying, that Mr. Vessey would shortly take up his pen against me, and that I should have work enough to maintain my standing with such an antagonist. These various reports drove me to desire of his congregation at Woolwich an honest and punctual account of the doctrines that he preached, of the spirit that he discovered, of the effects of it upon them, and of the life that he lived; and such an account as they would give me leave to publish, with their names affixed to it. This request of mine was made in the month of May last; and in the month of June I received the following letter, signed by eleven persons; and, although there were several of his friends at the church-meeting who refused to sign it when it was read before them, yet every one of them acknowledged that the account was true.
To THE REV. MR. HUNTINGTON.
,Woolwich, June 14., 1792. DEAR SIR,
WE, the under-mentioned members of the church at Woolwich, who, through mercy, have experienced the goodness of our God and Saviour, in rending, by the effectual working of the Spirit, that vail of error from off our understandings which Satan and our deceitful hearts had drawn us under, through the instrumentality ofour late pastor, Mr. Vessey, having heard that he bath, by various means, both in word and letter, endeavoured to
extricate himself from under the charges brought against him by us, respecting the errors he advanced while at Woolwich, have judged it necessary to send you an account of his sentiments, which he publicly and privately taught amongst us, with the arguments he made use of to establish them: which, if you think proper, you are at liberty to publish, with our names unto it; seeing that many are staggered, and others blinded, through the feigned words he is spreading abroad as a cloak to cover over the hyprocrisy he is actuated with, lest the errors he taught amongst us should be made mannifest.
About two years, or upwards, before he withddrew himself from officiating amongst us, several circumstances took place, which were, in some measure, made a means of opening our eyes to a discovery of the hypocrisy of his conduct. The first of which arose from some charges brought against his wife respecting her outward walk; which, after examination into, and being satisfied therein, it was brought before the church, and stated unto them, the majority of which agreed with him to her being suspended, which was accordingly done; but, notwithstanding his thus agreeing to it, he told us before we parted, that he was firmly persuaded that she was innocent of that which was alleged against her. Some time after this one of the church raised a contention respecting the decrees -of God; on which account a church-meeting was called. During the interval
the man had a private conference with Mr. Vessey; the substance of which was, Whether God ordained every event that takes place in time, which arises through the entrance of sin into the world? Or whether he only foreknew that such events would happen, and therefore permitted them? Which last was the man's opinion. On the next evening, after preaching, having entered into conversation with Mr. Vessey respecting that which had passed between him and the man the night before, we found, to our astonishment, and contrary to that which lie had oftentimes preached, that he justified the man in what he had asserted, and declared that it was his sentiments; upon which one of the members, Mr. Short, asked him, Whether or not the means that were instrumental in the death of Christ were not absolutely determined as well as foreknown by God, the same as the death itself? To which, after sonic hesitation, he said, No: he believed they were only foreknown, and therefore permitted. To which reply it was answered, Then, if that be the case, the using, or not using, of these means must wholly depend upon the free-will of man, and therefore might be fulfilled, or not fulfilled; which was no better than Arminianism to suppose. On the Monday evening following we met together, with the rest of the church, to come to some settlement respecting the matter in hand. After prayer unto the Lord for direction therein, we called upon the man to give us an account of the error he believed we were in; the substance
of which was this: That to athrm every event was ordained of God, was a damnable error, and came from hell; for it made God the author of sin; and that those who held such doctrines could have no sorrow on the account of evil; for that, he said, would be rebelling against God; and contrary to that which we believed. To which Mr. Vessey
assented, and somewhat angrily said, at the conclusion of our meeting, that, if we opposed him thus in the aforesaid matter, a little thing would drive him away. The next evening following he took these words for his text, " And of some have compassion, making a difference," Jude. Which discourse he levelled at those of us who had opposed him the night before; wherein he endeavoured, though attended with a good deal of evident confusion, which we perceived him in, to separate the secret will of God into two distinct parts. The one he called his permissive will; which, he said, had to do with those events lie foreknew would terminate evil. The other he called his decretive will; which, he said, had to do with those events that were brought about through the immediate operation of his Spirit. The substance of the argument he drew up to support his idea of a permissive will in God, founded
upon his foreknowledge only, without any effectual determination, was, that many words were made use of which were agreeable to the scriptures, though they were not expressed together therein. Thus God is declared to be a sovereign, and grace
reign grace. From which argument, with several others of the like kind, from the fitness of words, he endeavoured to draw a line for the foundation of a permissive will. On the Sabbath-day following he preached wholly against what he had asserted on the Tuesday evening, declaring that every event was fore-ordained of God, and that it necessarily came to pass as it was thus ordained; which, when lie was told of it, he declared that he had been established in the above doctrine some years.
Query. Whether Mr. Vessey's judgment was not affected at times by the liquor he drank in the course of preaching through the day, which was half a pint of rum in water: this was his constant allowance every Sabbath lie preached, besides that which we used to give him to drink at his meals.
Some time after this, a person from Lewisham proposed himself to us for a member; and, after asking him some questions relative to his experience, we appointed a day for him to meet the church. In the interim between that and his coming, one of the members providentially heard that he lived in fornication, which we made known to our pastor: who, with an air of indifference, said that we should never go on, nor have any to join us in church-fellowship, while we gave heed to all the reports that went abroad: and made answer, that marriage was no more than a mere
coming we charged it home to him; which he, with some kind of confusion, denied. We then asked him, where it was that he was married? He said at London. Upon which, after having told him the necessity of having such a report cleared up before we could receive him, we asked him to give us a direction where it was performed; to which, after some hesitation, he said that lie thought it would be best to decline coming, seeing such a report had got abroad, and after that time came no more; which was a sufficient evidence to us that he was guilty, though Mr. Vessey would have received him in without any examination into it, seeing no harm in it, provided they abided to their agreement; for he told one of our members, Mr. Rogers, a few days after, who had some conversation with him on the subject, that he himself would not have submitted to the ordinance, had it not been to stop the mouths of the world.
This, Sir, is some account of a man who denies the name of an Antinomian.
When he first came to Woolwich his sentiments were, that there was no true faith short of assurance; which doctrine was received by some few that became acquainted with him before he began publicly to speak at Woolwich. After he began preaching he openly denied ever teaching that doctrine; and from that went into this�that it was impossible for a soul ever to doubt of his interest in Christ after he had once experienced
the efficacious virtue of his blood and righteousness; and positively asserted, that, where this was not the case, (that is, a confidence enjoyed within free from all doubting, as to spiritual things, at all times,) that soul had no assurance: through which some ofus were kept in bondage and suspense, not finding this criterion and our experience to agree together; others of us were drove On to a presumptuous faith, through our own feelings; for he used to deny that these misgivings of heart, which arose through the power of unbelief and other inbred corruptions, were doubts, except they proceeded from the lips, but only temptations to doubt. The passages he used to quote as a proof against the possibility of doubting after actual justification had taken place in the soul, were these; Isaiah xxxii. 17. 2 Cor. ii. and Eph. v. 6.
When speaking on the nature of regeneration, he used to assert that an elect vessel, after his spiritual birth, had two hearts, an old one and a new one, which consisted of two consciences, wills, understandings, and affections, both of which were complete. For a proof of the first, that is, the old one, he brought Rom. viii. 7, which he applied to a believer; and what the apostle terms the flesh in the seventh chapter of the same epistle, he said was the old heart, or the old conscience, will, understanding, and affections, which did nothing but sin. The other, that is, the new heart, was perfectly holy, even as God is holy, and wanted no renewing; which, he said, to affirm was Armipianism; and heart
perfectly holy, to prove which he brought the first epistle of John iii. 9. then what holiness can be added unto it? and if it is not perfectly holy, and wants renewing, then tell me how much I am to be renewed?
Thirdly, That the habit, or principle of grace, is not implanted in the heart when we are created anew in Christ Jesus; and that the faculty of the will, after being renewed, is not invariably to good from a principle of life within, but only as it is actuated by a power from without.
Fourthly, That sanctification is imputed the same as justification, or that Christ is our sanctification the same as he is our righteousness; that is, by the imputation of his merits unto us, which constitutes us all glorious within.
Fifthly, That there is no need of exhortations where the love of God is once shed abroad in the heart. And such language as this, " What manner of men ought ye to be?" he used to call legal; saying, Do not tell me about ought to be; if God's Spirit is within, you want none of these exhortations. Through which some were led to slight the exhortations of the word of the gospel to
gence and watchfulness, under a feigned pretence of waiting till the Spirit operated, which, he said, would spring up spontaneously. In respect of obedience to our superiors, that he .used to call the fear of man. Praying for our children, and in our families, before them that were carnal, was of
no use; for how did we know but they were reprobates? Self-examination he called legal; asserting that, where a soul had attained to a knowledge of his election, it was impossible for him to fall into error. As to his old heart, his expression was, when any were complaining of what they laboured under, that he let it work as it would, for what could he do with it? As to any acknowledgment or thanks to the instruments God in his providence raised up to supply his temporal needs, that he was ever above; asserting that it was .enough to return it unto God. Most of these things in this fifth charge he was moveable in, sometimes establishing of them, then confuting of them, and then establishing of them again.
Sixthly, That, when the Lord Jesus Christ gave up the kingdom unto the Father, then the Godhead would be separated from the manhood, and he would be divested of all power and authority; and so be subject unto God, the same as one of us, excepting being the elder brother of the family. This he used to insist upon whenever treating upon that subject; and positively declared, that it was because of our shallow conceptions that ,we could not receive it. When he was told that this idea led to Arianism, he replied, indifferently; 'Well! whether this be the case or not,' that is, of tile Godhead being separated from the manhood, we shall be with him, and see him as he is.'
Seventhly, That the idea of three distinct persons in the Godhead was not scriptural; 'for, though there were three that bare record in heaven, yet they were only there distinguished to set forth the work and operation of God, and therefore were no more than three personal characters, names, and office-titles, subsisting in the Godhead; and to describe them any other way, was to lead men's minds astray in their addresses to God, by setting before them three Beings or Essences, which was Tritheism. This was what he taught as a doctrinal explanation of the Trinity, which we have witness to prove from some who have no connection with us, but received it from sitting under his ministry. And once in particular, after preaching, Mr. Rogers and Mr. Short went into his house with him, where he took down from off his shelf a book, entitled The Faith and Hope of the Gospel,' anti read the following extract verbatim:
A person hath been defined, by some, a thing subsisting by itself, which is not part of another; and by others, the individual substance of a rational nature. And do not the words, Three Persons, naturally convey the ideas of three separate individuals? Are not many hereby led into wrong conceptions about God, as if the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, were and existed separately as three individual human persons? And is not this Tritheism? Do not the generality speak of the Father as if he existed separately and independently of, and was somehow greatly superior
to the Word and the Holy Ghost? And doth not this indicate as if they thought the Father to be the great God, and the Word and the Holy Ghost to be two demigods? How contrary is this to the solemn declaration of the Most high, " Hear, 0 Israel, Jehovah, our Aleim, is one Jehovah!" Is not such confusion the consequence of calling the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, three persons? But there are other men whoare clear of such confused ideas about the Godhead; and though in compliance to custom, they use the words, three persons,' which, by the way, Mr. Vessey never did while with us, unless it was to condemn it, yet they intend no more thereby than the distinction and the offices in the Godhead.' These Mr. Vessey declared to us were his sentiments, and the first author that he ever read who treated so clearly of it.
Also, why did he tell the clerk, Richard Pankhurst, to leave the words, three persons,' out in singing the hymns? And why did he, after he had Wrote a letter on the Trinity by the desire of Mr. Olliff and Mr. Main (which, we believe, was to stop the inquiry into that which he had before held, that he might not be discovered), change his former sentiments of three personal characters, names, and office-titles, into persons and subsistences, and tell Mr. Short, who went to him on hearing the report, that he did not altogether like the words persons and subsistences, that he had there asserted? Why did he say that Mr Huntington and the minister of Blackfriars were not clear in respect to the Trinity; and that Mr. R�e had given the late Mr. Elliot, the Arian, sufficient ground to charge him with Tritheism? These are stubborn facts, which he cannot deny any other way but by presumptuously calling the Holy Ghost to witness that they are false, as he hath done in his letter to you respecting Arianism; which is not to be wondered at, when he could, while with us, with levity dare God to his face to damn him; making use of these words, when speaking of the stability of the covenant�that he cannot do it if he would.
After Mr. Vessey had for some time gone to Chatham occasionally, the Lord was pleased to open the eyes of one and another of us to some discovery of his doctrine, and the effects it had produced amongst us; which, upon Mr. Smith's coming. was fastened home under the word, with power, on several of our hearts. Upon which, five of us went to Mr. Vessey to have some conversation respecting the state of the church. At which time we asked him, Whether he had any discovery given him of the cause of such a declension amongst us? He said that many things had Occurred to his mind; but he did not think it would be profitable to enter into discourse about it. To which we made answer, That it was for that purpose we came unto him, as we had reason to believe that it was through his doctrine the Church was brought into the present situation,
which was that of antinomianism. To which he replied, That lie believed great part of the people was in that error; but wholly denied himself to be the instrument of bringing them there; making answer, That!what he had preached had never taken that effect with him. A few days after, one of the members positively telling him that he was the means of drawing us aside, he sent the following letter
To the Deacons and other Members of the Church
of Christ in Caliss's Alley.
As a period seems to be put to my usefulness among you as a minister, and as you look upon me as the ringleader of your souls in that truly awful error, of sinning that grace may abound; you should have ere now dismissed me as a servant, and have also cut me off from church communion with you as a brother.' You will observe that this was impracticable, as the majority was wholly against us. But, as this hath not been done, I have deemed it necessary to acquaint you of my fixed intentions on this present occasion. I inntend then, from henceforth, to withdraw myself peaceably from you, and totally to desist from any further labouring amongst you in the work of the ministry. How far this conduct is justifiable or condemnable, the Searcher of hearts will make manifest in some future period.
Finally, brethren, farewell; be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
And now, whatever hard thoughts any of you may harbour in your breasts concerning my everlasting welfare, or otherwise, yet persuaded I am, that I shall sit down in the kingdom of God with many of you. Therefore give me leave, this once, to subscribe myself your brother in the threefold bond of eternal love,'
Thus, sir, we have given you as brief an account as possible of the things that Mr. Iressey endeavours to appear a total stranger to; the effects of which are increasingly making manifest in most part of those who are said to be called under him; the whole of which, excepting two, have separated themselves from us.
We remain, Sir, with due respect,
Your wellwishers in the furtherance of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,
THOMAS MITCHEL, WILLIAM WILDISH,
JOHN ROGERS, JAMES MA RDEN,
SEARL SHORT, WILLIAM WOART,
DAVID MALLACK, THOMAS LAMB, RICHARD PANKHURST, JOSEPH FULLER. RICHARD WELLBORN,
After I had received this letter, I was sufficiently confirmed in my judgment respecting the man and his doctrine. It is now about ten years since Mr. Vessey first imbibed the doctrine of Sabellianism; for, about that time, he joined with Mr. Butler in attempting to make a proselyte of a certain lady, who is at this time in my house; Mr. Stephens consenting to the doctrine, though Vessey and Butler were the chief speakers. After the reception of this letter from Woolwich, I made diligent inquiry to know if there ever was one soul converted to God by Mr. Vessey's ministry; for it hath long been an established point with me, that no man, let his gifts be what they may, unless he was born again of the Holy Ghost, can be a minister of the Spirit to another. And upon inquiry, I found that there was not one soul at Woolwich converted to God by him. He converted several to his notions; but they are never the better for that. There is one at Streatham also that I have known for several years, whom Mr. Vessey called his firstborn son, his might, and the beginning of his strength; but there is nothing in him; he is neither all glorious within, nor all glorious without. That he was called by Mr. Vessey I do not deny; but he was never called of God, nor does he know any thing of him. Nor do I believe that there is one soul that was ever converted to the faith of Christ by Mr Vessey at Chatham, nor any where else; if there is, let them send me an account of it, and refute me. I have
heard lately of two persons at Maidstone, that were his offspring, and began to preach in the high town, till a mob drove them from their high station; which was nothing else but a being buf feted for their faults.
It was my intention to have published the letter from Woolwich soon after the reception of it; but a deal of labour, and being twice in the country, prevented it. And when I beard of his death, I intended it should have been for ever buried in silence, till the letter from Chatham, which had been circulated among my friends, fell into my hands, in which I am so highly reprehended; and, as I am certain the publication of this cannot alter the state of the deceased, but may open the eyes of some who are in his damnable delusion, and undeceive others who may be led to cleave to his heresy by the report of his end, I think myself justifiable in publishing the same. If he made a joyful and triumphant end, he died as he lived. He was joyful and triumphing all the ten years that I knew him I never once saw him in any other frame. And, as he himself owned that he never had experienced any change of heart, it is not likely that any changes should appear in his frames. But to have no changes is not the criterion of a saint, but of a sinner; and to have no bands in death is not called the end of the just, but of the hypocrite; and to escape the path of tribulation is not following them that are in glory, but those that were at ease in Zion. W
know that a delusion is strong, and it is a damna ble delusion that he was in. And, if the strong man armed keep the palace, his goods are in peace, whether in life or death; unless the eye of Justice awaken the conscience. Some are awakened in this world, and others lift up their eyes in the next. I knew Mr. Vessey upwards of ten years: but the real ballast of a vessel of mercy, which is the forgiveness of sins, access to God, union with Christ, a broken heart, and a daily cross, never appeared in him, nor the least symptom of them; and, without which, popular applause and pride are sure to fill the sails, and make shipwreck of the brightest profession, either in this world, or in the
I confess that Mr. Butler greatly staggered and perplexed my mind fur many months, and sent me with many petitions to God, who one day sent me this promise, Call upon me in the time of trouble, and I will show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not;' in fulfilling which, he gave me a vision on Riply Common, in the day-time, which established my soul; for I was not fighting against the glorious doctrine of the Trinity, but the hand of my faith was beaten off, and my mind perpetually staggered by this man's damnable sophistry; therefore this vision was sent to settle and establish me. And it was a vision of the Trinity that Butler saw, which drowned him in despair; and no wonder, for he was fighting against it. Thus God's hand wasknown toward his servant, and his indignation toward his enemy.
John saw the right-hand of the Father holding forth a book, and at the same time, saw the Lamb take the book, Rev. v. 1. 6. 7. And he had a vision of the seven spirits which are before his throne, Rev. i. 4.; denoting, by the number seven, that the Holy Ghost is perfect God, who communicates to the churches his perfect, or sevenfold gifts, " dividing to every man severally as he will,"
Vessey's damnable delusion is this; That there is but one person in the Godhead, which is Christ, who acts in three different characters. So that, when the Prince of Life offered himself in sacrifice, it was not to God the Father as another distinct person, but to himself in another office-character. What wretched confusion does this make where there is the greatest harmony! However, this I know, that those who have got the Anointing in them, who leads them into all truth, know what .Paul means by the fellowship of the Spirit; and what John means by our having fellowship with the Father, .and with his Son Christ Jesus. Such souls have got the love of God the Father, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the testimony of the Holy Ghost, in their own hearts. The ever-blessed Trinity dwell in such humble and contrite souls, agreeable to the promise; " And Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love roe, he will keep my words; and my father will
love him, and we [which means no less than a plurality of persons] will come unto him, and make our abode with him," John xiv. 23. But Mr. Vessey knew nothing of these things, he had no experience; he owned his heart was never changed; he was a real antinomian in spirit, a Sabellian in principle, and a libertine in practice. This is confirmed by the testimony of eleven men; nor did I ever see any thing to contradict it in all the ten years that I knew him, but rather to confirm it. And if such sensual, uninspired men, so involved in damnable delusions, who can preach against the divine revelation that God has given of himself, and boast of the full assurance of faith, while they deny the personality of God, the giver of faith, and the personality of Christ, the author and finisher of faith, and the personality of the Holy Ghost, who is the Spirit of faith: I say, if such men as these are in the way to heaven, we may say that the Bible has deceived us all. But the scriptures of truth cannot be broken; as it is written, "Let God be true, but every man a liar." Nor do I believe that Mr. Vessey ever had what is called, in the strictest sense, a spiritual gift; for, if the Spirit bestows a gift of knowledge and a gift of utterance on a graceless man, I believe that such a knowledge is tolerably sound in the letter, and the speech is often seen to be such as cannot easily be condemned, whatever it may degenerate to afterwards, when God puts a bridle in their jaws, causing them to err, Isaiah xxx. 28. But Mr,
Vessey set off into his profession with vain confidence in his heart, and an arrant lie in his mouth. And, if he was the same at his end as he was in his race, it is clear that he never recanted his error, nor repented of it.
When I had received the letter from Woolwich containing Vessey's life and doctrine, and had made strict inquiry concerning his converts, I was satisfied that he was the same in his ministry as he was in his profession. And, as he never was in connection with me, nor in church-fellowship with us, I was determined never to have any thing to do with him, notwithstanding Mr. Davis gave me such a wonderful account of him; for we arc not to receive into our houses him that brings not the doctrines of Christ. To countenance such, and to bid them God speed, is to share with them in all the mischief they do. And, if I am highly reprehensible for this, it is neither matter of grief nor discredit tome.
Several persons, who found out that Mr. Vessey was in errors, reported to me that he was an Arian, not knowing what his heresy was. From this charge he endeavoured to vindicate himself by several letters sent to several persons who favoured him. And from this charge he might clear himself, for he was not an Arian, but a Sabellian; he. did not deny the Godhead of Christ, but the Godhead of the Father and the Spirit; he denied the existence and distinct personality of God the Father, and of God the Holy Ghost. When I was informed
that he was an Arian, I wondered at it, knowing that his tutor was an obstinate Sabellian. And I told Mr. Davis that I had heard that he was charged with Arianism; which charge he denied, as well he might. However, the heresy that he held is as damnable and as dangerous as the other; and this Butler knows now to his sorrow.
All the time that Mr. Vessey was at Woolwich, I never once heard that he laid a claim to me as his spiritual father. But, when he was settled at Chatham, this report was brought to me; and sure I am, that he never got one notion that he held from me. But he found out that I was well known in Kent, and therefore this hopeless son intended to ride out on his supposed father's shoulders. And he did go into the Wealds of Kent, and had gone to my native place, if I had not sounded an alarm, and prevented it, and informed the people that I intended shortly to publish the charges brought against him, which my long journey into the country at that time prevented.
He declared, from 1 Cor. xv. 24, 28, 'That, at the delivery of the kingdom up to the Father, then the Saviour's reign would have an end; and that the Godhead of Christ would then leave the manhood: and that Christ, as man, would be on a level with a common believer, only with this difference, he would be the elder brother.' Which is a most daring, dangerous, and damnable con- struction put upon the text. For, touching the manhood of Christ, and his birth of the virgin, be
is not the elder brother, for Abel was born near four thousand years before him; and, setting aside the antediluvian world, there were no less than forty-two generations that had passed away from, Abraham to Christ, all which were before the birth of Jesus. And he is expressly called the son of Abraham, and the son of David; therefore his birth of a woman was not before them, but long after. Christ being the firstborn of every creature, is what Mr. Vessey does not understand. Nor does the brotherhood that subsists between Christ and the elect rise merely from his assumption of human nature, by which he became flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone, consequently a brother according to the flesh; for, in this sense, he might be called a brother to all mankind: such, I think, the scriptures intimate, when those mockers, who have no part in him, are charged with speaking against their brother, and with slandering their own mother's son, Psalm 1. 20. But Christ is a son in a higher sense than by his own incarnation; and we are his brethren by our adoption, and by being partakers of the divine nature, as well as by his assumption of the human nature; we are begotten of God, regenerated and born of God; this makes us brethren in a higher sense than all mankind
For the sake of some poor weak souls who may have stumbled at the construction that Mr. Vessey has put upon that text, I will offer a few thoughts upon it, which I hope will not be contrary to the
scriptures of truth. " Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all," 1 Cor. xv.
" Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom," &c. This text is not the only one that speaks of an end of the kingdom; there is a text somewhat like it in Daniel: " His kingdom is that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end."
But this kingdom and dominion, which is to be delivered up to the Father at the end, is, as I conceive, the empire or reign of grace; which Christ, as man, received from the Father by a delegated right.
The human nature that Christ assumed, is called a body that the Father prepared: " A body hast thou prepared me; then, lo, I come to do thy will, O God!" Heb. x. 5, 7.
And as the Father prepared that body for him, so he anointed him in that nature to his kingly office: "Thou lowest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."
The Father not only anointed him, but he crowned him also: " A crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering, and to conquer," Rev. vi. And again, " Thus saith the Lord God,
Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same; exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it, and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him."
And, as the Father gave him the crown, so also he gave him the kingdom. " I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him."
And, as the Father gave him a kingdom, so he also enthroned him. " I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion."
1. Thus God the Father prepared the body for him, Heb. x. 5.
2. And with all the fulness of the Holy Ghost he anointed him, Acts x. 38.
3. With glory and honour he crowned him, Psalm viii. 5.
4. A kingdom and dominion he gave unto him Dan. vii. 14.
5. And upon his holy hill of Zion he set him, Psalm ii. 6.
And, when the Father had thus done, he put all things under his feet: " Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet." Nothing excepted, but God himself; as it is written; " But,
when he saith all things are put under him, it i manifest that He is excepted which did put all things under him."
And when he was thus crowned a revelation was given unto him, a book sealed with seven seals; in allusion to the testimony given to the kings of Israel at their coronation, 2 Kings xi. 12. Which sealed book or testimony, is the book of the Revelation; and those who are enlightened into it may easily see his reign, both in providence and in grace.
This middle, or mediatorial, reign of Christ, is twofold. He is King of Zion, and King of nations; King of the church, and King of the world " Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." He keeps his throne of grace in Zion, and his throne of majesty in the world; for he (loth not only reign in Zion, but from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.
In Zion he governs by his power, his spirit, his gospel, and his grace; by his ministers and other officers, by the ministry of his word, by his ordinances, and by his glorious presence.
In the world he governs by kings, and by princes, &c. As it is written, " By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth." For lie is King of kings, and Lord of lords.
This middle, or mediatorial reign in the hand of Christ is to continue till he " shall have put61
put down all rule, and all authority, and power; for he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." When the end comes, Satan and all devils subject to him; sin, and all the train of its provocations; death, and all its spoils; wicked kings, princes, judges, and nobles; shall be all put down: and all sinners shall then be arraigned, condemned, damned, and destroyed. And, when the earth and all her works, devils and all sinners, are destroyed, all rule, authority, and power, will be put down, and an end put to his government as King of nations; for there will be no nations to govern.
So, likewise, when all the elect of God, the beloved Zion whom he hath chosen, all the general assembly, will be raised from their graves, and be united to their souls, and their vile bodies changed and fashioned like unto the glorious body of Christ; then shall all the subjects of grace be brought, in a glorified state, even to God the Father, from whom Christ received them; and shall be delivered up in full tale, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, As a shepherd, he delivers up his flock; as a minister of the sanctuary, he delivers up his charge; and as king of Zion, he delivers up" the kingdom. The militant church is now the triumphant one; grace is now displayed in everlasting glory; the gospel of truth is settled in heaven. Mercy is built up for ever, and faithfulness established in the very heavens. Mount Zion is now
become the heavenly Jerusalem. Preaching and hearing the gospel will be no more. His reign of grace, his middle reign, as King of Zion, will now have an end. His regal sceptre will be laid aside, or cease to be what it now is. Christ has been subject to the Father all along: and this seems to be the last act of subjection touching the empire of grace. For so it is written, " Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God:" then, at that time, and in that act, shall the Son also himself be subject unto him. From the Father he received his kingdom and his chosen subjects, and to God he is accountable both for his reign and for them; and, being accountable and subjected to give up his accounts, be delivers up the kingdom of grace to the Father of glory.
But what then? Does his Godhead leave the human nature that he assumed? No; the word that was with God, and that was God, and that was made flesh, and dwelt among us, will abide so for ever. The child born, the son given, is an everlasting Father, Isaiah ix. 6. " He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days," Isaiah liii. 10, longer than Adam or Methuselah either, even to all eternity; the world and all her works shall be destroyed: " But thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail," Heb. i. 12; shall never cease to be. In and through the glorified humanity will the Godhead of Christ dwell, and shine to all eternity.
But is there now an end put to the Saviour's
reign? Yes; an end is put to his reign of grace, as man and mediator; but not to his reign of glory, as over all, God blessed for evermore. Christ is King of glory in heaven, as well as king of Zion on earth: the former he has by right of nature, the latter by the gift of the Father. " Lift up your heads, 0 ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory." And this God of armies, as a King of glory, shall ever reign. For, though a throne of grace will not be needed as now, yet Christ's throne of glory shall still remain; for his subjects of grace shall then be subjects of glory, over whom Christ, as King of glory in his glorified humanity, shall reign to all eternity; and his reign of glory shall never have an end. And so it is written, " His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away; and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." Again, " In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever: the dream is certain, and the interpretation sure." And again, " The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and lie shall reign for ever and ever," Rev. xi. 15. When all the wicked are in hell, and all the saints in glory, as King of glory Christ shall ever reign
" The Lord is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land." Again, " He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." Again, " Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end." All these scriptures which respect Christ as God, and as king of glory, declare that his reign of glory shall never have an end; and this is confirmed by what the Father said to him: " But unto the Son he saith, Thy Throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the works of thine hands. They shall perish; but thou remainest
and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail." In the above texts it is clear to be seen that the Saviour's reign of grace and reign of glory are interwoven together: the one hath an end, the other has none. The last text quoted shews, that he created the heavens and all their hosts, the earth and all her inhabitants; and, when the latter is destroyed, he will reign in the former. He made his angels spirits; they are the work of his hands, which he has a right to govern, being the head of all principalities, and of
all power. And, touching his assumption of hu-
man nature, angels, and authorities, and powers,
are made subject unto him, 1 Pet. iii. 22. The latter
he received; it was included in the Father's gift;
" Let all the angels of God worship him;" the former he holds as God, by right of nature; and this will never be given up. I conclude this head; that the Saviour, as King of glory, will reign over glorified saints and angels to all eternity; nor will devils and damned souls be left without an eternal sense of his terrible majesty. Those who are so highly favoured as to ascend up into heaven, will find him there; and those who make their bed in hell, will find him there also, Psal. cxxxix. 8.
Having given my humble opinion of the end spoken of in the text, and of delivering up the kingdom to the Father, and of the Son being subject to him, I will now drop a few thoughts upon the last clause of the text; which is, " that God may be all in all." This cannot mean, as Mr. Vessey describes it, that the human nature of Christ is to be left by the Godhead; because in that nature he declares that he is alive for evermore, Amen, Rev. i. 18. In that nature he is an everlasting Father, Isaiah ix. 6. God declares that he is a Priest for ever and ever: the word of the oath maketh the Son a priest, who is consecrated for evermore, Heb. vii. 28. And again,
He ever liveth to make intercession for us." 'Therefore this cannot be the sense of the text.
And as to the notion of the Father and the
Holy Ghost being nothing but names, or office-characters, which characters will then subside, and Christ's divine nature being the only person or personality in the Godhead, being all in all, cannot be the sense neither; for God is three persons: " There are three that bear record in heaven,, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one." And again, " I and my Father are one." He doth not mean that I, and my Father, are two names and but one person;. for the Father is a person, Heb. i. 3; and the Son is another person, 2 Coy. ii. 10.. Therefore the Lord's meaning is, I and my Father, though two distinct persons, are one God; but not to the exclusion of the Holy Ghost, who is another Comforter, and consequently another person, in the Godhead.. Christ was a distinct person from the Father, and equal in glory and majesty with him, before the world was made. " And now, 0 Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." This glory here prayed for was the glory promised to his manhood, which was to be crowned with glory and honour. And here is a glory that Christ bad with the Father before the world was, a glory with him as an equal to him, and not of him, as a dependant on him.. The words plainly imply that the Father and the Son were two distinct persons in glory before the world was made; and that Christ is equal to the Father the scriptures witness " Awake, 0 sword, against my Shepherd,
and against the man that is my fellow, saith the
Lord of hosts." And again, " Who being in the
form of God, thought it not robbery to be' equal
with God." And again, " That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father." Here are two distinct persons existing, equal in glory from eternity; and they are to have equal honour from all the saints, even to eternity. As it is written, " And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever," Rev. v. 13 It is clear that these glorified souls which are in heaven are not Sabellians, and it is as clear that they are not Arians; and yet, as they are now made perfect, and perfect in knowledge, it is not to be doubted but they are as wise in heaven as ever Mr. Vessey was when upon earth: and it is clear that they see not, nor ,do they know, any thing of the Godhead of CChrist forsaking his manhood, and the manhood being on a level with common believers; for they ascribe equal blessing, equal honour, equal glory, and equal power, to the
ever. Hence it follows that, if Christ be not God, Lamb, as unto the Father, and that for ever and
worship is idolatry; and, if he be nothing but an office-character, their anthem is folly, for it is ascribing omnipotent power to a nonentity; and, if there be not two distinct persons, it will
not be an easy matter to make common sense of the song; and, if Christ's reign of glory hath an end, they must err, who ascribe blessing, and glory, and honour, and power, to him for ever and ever; for the Lamb must include his manhood.
Furthermore, the Holy Ghost is essentially God.
Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" " Now the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." Now, as the Spirit is God, and the church the temple of God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifies it and dwells in it, and which Spirit shall, in the last day, quicken our mortal bodies, and fashion them like unto the glorious body of Christ, even then he will dwell in the church when in her glorified states and that for ever. He will, I say, dwell in the church, and be a well of living water in it, and a Comforter to it, for ever. " He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever,". John xiv. 16. And thus runs the tenor of the covenant, " My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever." Hence it is clear that the Holy Ghost is God, and that he is an eternal Comforter, and that he will never depart from the church, nor cease to dwell in it for ever; this is secured by a covenant that cannot be broken. Thus blessing, glory, honour, and power, are ascribed
to -God and the Lamb for ever and ever; and the Holy Ghost abides in the church for ever and ever. And as to the human nature of Christ, in that he is alive for evermore, Amen; in it he is a priest for ever and ever; in it he is consecrated for evermore, and ever lives to make intercession for us, though not then as now.
Hence it appears that the Arians' damnable heresy is refuted concerning a created God, or God by office, set up from everlasting. " I am the First, and I am the Last," saith the Saviour, Isaiah xliv. 6. "Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me," Isaiah xliii. 10. "Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and besidesme there is no God." Here the Saviour declares that there is no God to the exclusion of him. And, as the kingdom is to be delivered up to the Father, and blessing and honour, and glory, and power, arc ascribed to him for ever and ever, there can be no God to the exclusion of the Father, nor to the exclusion of the Holy Ghost, who will be a Comforter in the church for ever. And, as for the humanity of Christ, he will, in his human nature, be the eternal light of the saints; as it is written, "Anti the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it" Paul's meaning, therefore, must be this; we
have now, while in a militant state, a mercy-seat, a throne of grace to approach, a mercy-door to knock at, and have access to the Father by the faith of Christ; we have one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus; and through the vail of his flesh a way is opened to the Father: but, when we are all brought to glory, the mercy-seat, the throne of grace, will then appear a throne of glory; and when we have all entere dthe vail of his flesh into the holy of holies, we shall see God. Christ will then shew us plainly of the Father; the middle reign of grace will have an end, and the reign of glory will then appear wonderful to us all. And, though now we have known Christ after the flesh, henceforth know we him so no more; but God�Father, Son, and Spirit, . shall be all in all: all to us, and all in us. Hence, I conclude, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, these three are one, 1 John v. 7. And the saints shall all then be made perfect in one, John xvii. 23.
Mr. Vessey was in damnable errors. And, if God sends a man a strong delusion that he may believe a lie, it is no wonder that he pretend to a full assurance of faith. Solomon's fool rages, and is confident; but it is but the faith of a lie, and the confidence of a fool, at best. Nor does the triumphant departure of a man with a lie in his hand, and intoxicated with the wine of error, now stumble me. Mary Queen of Scots went to the block with as much fortitude in the principles of71
popery, as Mr. Vessey met death with in the principles of Sabellianism. But what of all this? Paul says that a man may be enlightened, as Balaam was when he saw the visions of God, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open. Yea, he may have tasted of the heavenly gift; that is, he may ,receive a spiritual gift, and feel a deal of joy, zeal, and energy, with it; as well as Alexander and Demas: the former stood heavy persecution, and the latter saluted the churches much. He may be a partaker of the Holy Ghost, as Saul was, and appear quite another man; and yet be nothing. He may taste the good word of God, as the thorny and stony ground hearers did, who heard it, and -anon with joy received it. Yea, and taste the powers of the world to come; they may feel joy, they may feel a delight, they may feel energy and power, until Christ takes the talent away, and then they wither away, having no deepness of earth, no brokenness of heart, nor contrition of spirit: having o root in themselves.; or as Christ says, "I know hat you have not the love of God in you:" and hey wither for lack of moisture:; that is, the well of living water, which springs up into everlasting life, is not in them, which is the cause of their withering or falling away. Paul, in the above lace, is speaking of gifts, and not of the grace of od. Nor does lie call this enlightening, this tasting the word of God, &c. and being partakers f the Holy Ghost, the things that accompany salvation, No; he tells the Hebrews that these
things were found in apostates that fell away so as not to be renewed again unto repentance. But, says Paul, we are persuaded better things of you; things that attend the salvation of the soul; things that attend a real work of grace; that you have tasted that the Lord is gracious; that your souls have got a savoury unctions experience of the pardoning love of Cod. And, indeed, I cannot find those things that accompany salvation in all that catalogue of gifts. There is mention made of being partakers of the Holy Ghost; but nothing of being born again of the Spirit, nor of grace and supplication by the Spirit. lie gave them great spiritual gifts: and in this sense he came upon seventy elders at once in the wilderness; and so he has come upon many who will never be saved. Paul says nothing, in all that catalogue of the hypocrite's attainments, about the forgiveness of their sins, nor of repentance unto life; nothing about a broken heart, conversion to God, or of regeneration: no_ thing of justification unto life, nor of liberty by the Spirit; nor of Christ in the heart the hope of glory; nor of being sealed to the day of redemption; nor of union with the living Vine, of access to God, or of fellowship with the Father and the Son; nor of being in covenant with God, or being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.
Read the following covenant blessings, and see if they are to be found in the catalogue of the hypocrite's attainments; which are things that always accompany salvation. " I will put my laws into
their mind, and write them in their hearts: I will be merciful. to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more," Neb. viii. 10, 12. " Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you [but it is one thing for the Spirit to come upon a man, and it is another for the Spirit to be a well of eternal life in a man]: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh; [this makes the saint to differ from the stony-ground hearer] and I Will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. I also will save you from all your uncleannesses. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations." These are the things that accompany salvation; but they are not to be found among the hypocrite's attainments; nor is there any of the things which Christ spoke when he opened his commission. In Paul's catalogue of the hypocrite's gifts there are no good tidings to the meek; nor of binding up the broken-hearted; nor of liberty proclaimed to captives; nor of opening the prison doors to them that are bound; nor of the acceptable year of the Lord; nothing of comfort-
ing them that mourn; � no beauty for ashes; no oil of joy for mourning; no garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, Isaiah lxi. 1-3. There is no poverty of spirit; no meekness or contrition; no hunger nor thirst after righteousness.; no purity of heart. All these, reader, are things that accompany salvation, such as no hypocrite ever had. Paul, in the sixth chapter of the Hebrews, is describing some of the most accomplished hypocrites, who are not chosen vessels, but reprobates; and to me they seem to be preachers. And Paul gives us a description, first, of their high attainments; secondly, of their fearful fall; and, thirdly, their dreadful end.
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened," as Balaam was; " and have tasted the heavenly gift," as Alexander and Demas did; " and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost;" so was Saul, 1 Sam. x. 10. So was i3alaam, Num. xxiv. 2. "Arid the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they prophesied:' " And he sent other messengers, and they prophesied.. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also." Paul goes on;
" And have tasted the good word of God," as Balaam did when God put a word in his mouth; and as the thorny and stony ground hearers did, who heard the word, and anon with joy received it; who for a while believed, but in temptation fell away, having no root in themselves; and as Judas, who took part of this ministry, the word,75
and a gift to preach it, and to do miracles. Yea, they may have all knowledge, and understand all mysteries, and speak with the tongue both of men and angels, and yet be nothing in God's account.
And [taste] the powers of the world to come." Paul adds
If by the powers of the world to come be meant the gospel, they taste a joy and a delight in it; and if by the powers of the world to come be meant the power of working miracles, as is most likely, then many have had this. " Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; .depart from me, ye that work iniquity." In which they tasted joy, zeal, and delight; which always lift such men up with pride, till they fall into the condemnation of the devil. And so it follows,
" If they shall fall away, to- renew them again unto repentance." And what is to hinder their falling away, seeing tile things that accompany salvation are not in them? And seeing, also, that.
" They crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." In their apostasy they shew themselves to be of the same spirit as tile Jews, who crucified Jesus through envy, and tried to put him to shame by a crown of thorns and, a mock sceptre; and they deal with his cause, and his body mystical, as they did with
Christ personal. And such hypocrites, when their reprobation is made manifest to themselves and others, are the most desperate enemies to Christ and his people. Paul goes on to touch upon God's husbandry.
" For the earth, which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God." Here is the good ground, the honest and good heart, upon which Christ comes down as showers upon the mown grass, and as rain that waters the earth: tins cloth not wither for want of moisture, but it brings forth herbs, Prov. xxvii. 25, meet for the Trinity; by whom it is dressed. This, says Paul,
Receives blessing from God. This soil is blessed of God, and cannot wither, nor fall away, nor be cursed, nor be burnt, as the other barren soil is. As it follows
" But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected." These are the thorny-ground hearers, in whom, Christ says, the word that they tasted is choked by riches, wordly cares, and the lust of other things, Mark iv. 19. But God's elect are not briers and thorns, but fir-trees and myrtles. " Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree, [and these shall neither be cursed nor burnt,] and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign, that shall not be cut off," Isaiah lv. 13,77
But that which beareth briers and thorns is re-
It is a full and an undoubted evidence of their reprobation. " Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord hath rejected them." By which it is easy to see that Paul says nothing of these hypocrites but what Moses and the prophets have said. God says, men shall call them reprobates, for the Lord hath rejected them; and Paul says, that which beareth briers and thorns is rejected: and adds,
" And is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned." Some people pervert this passage of holy writ, and say that this hypocrite, in his great accomplishments, is a real child of God; and that it is impossible for him to fall away. But I say it is impossible for him to stand. For, let him have what gifts he may, they must all be taken front him in the year of jubilee, or in the gospel day, Ezek. xlvi. 16, 17. He that hath not grace, but a gift, it shall be taken away, even that which he hath, Mark iv. 25.
They are nigh unto cursing. They are under the curse of the law, and never were delivered from it, but they are nigh unto it: nigh unto the execution of God's most dreadful curse, which they arc ripening apace for, and arc nigh unto, by crucifying the Son of God afresh, and by their being reprobates, not elect souls; rejected, not chosen in Christ; nigh unto cursing; never blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Whose end is to be burned. Whose decreed end is to be burned, body and soul, in hell fire; they being rejected, or reprobated, 'of God. And if this is the state of a child of God; then wo be to such a child! Any body is welcome to take up the pen and prove me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth, if they can: I have not a single doubt but God will enable me to defend it; and, if God spare my life, I will defend it. Prophecy abounds with the destruction of these briers and
thorns. Read Isaiah ix. 1S. x. 17. xxvii. xxxii,
13. These hypocrites went far enough beyondIr.
Vessey: but these accomplished hypocrites, described by Paul, are no other than the house in the Saviour's parable, which Satan deserted till it was empty, swept, and garnished, and then he repossessed it; till the last state of that man was worse than the first. Peter's dog that returned to his vomit belongs to the same select band, whose last end was worse than the beginning. But Paul goes on,
" But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous, to forget your work and labour of love which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister." Here Paul harps upon the bond of the covenant; the better things that accompany salvation arc the work and labour of love: this is charity, which Paul calls the more excellent way; and without7g
which, let a man have what gifts he may, he la nothing. In short, a man must be regenerated, born again, and renewed, before he can have any real appetite or relish for those spiritual things that accompany salvation. It is the new-born babe, and not the unregenerate, that desires the sincere milk, or comforting nourishment, of the word of God. Hypocrites may covet and relish spiritual gifts, because of the double honour that attends a good minister of Jesus: and many covet them for filthy lucre, and others because they are too idle to work for their bread. Yea, many of the basest characters have coveted this highest station, who were never worthy of the lowest room. Simon Magus offered large money for the power of being a minister of the Spirit; or of communicating the Holy Ghost to whomsoever he would, by the laying on of his hands; who, at the same time, was in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity, Acts viii. 23. But not so the soul that God has formed for himself The new man has a spiritual palate, a spiritual appetite, and a spiritual belly, John vii. 38. He tastes and sees that the Lord is good; " Blessed is the man that trusteth in him," Psalm xxxiv. S. Here is a man blessed of God; and, if so, his soul is blessed with eternal life, for that is God's blessing as it:is written, Upon mount Zion hath God commanded the blessing, even life for evermore, Psalm cxxxiii. 3. This man trusts, or believes, in the Lord; and he tastes and sees that the Lord is
good: his eyes see and his bands handle the incarnate Word; and therefore the Lord must dwell in that soul, or lie could not taste or relish the Lord's goodness to him.
But Paul's accomplished hypocrite, or false preacher, has no goodness in him, for he bears briers and thorns; nor does he stand by faith, but falls away; nor is he blessed, but nigh unto cursing; nor does he trust in the Lord, but in himself; nor does he taste of the Lord's goodness, but of the word of God, and the power of working miracles, or the power of the Spirit; as Saul, his messengers, and Balaam, did; which are called the powers of, the world to come. For the unregenerate soul's taste is vitiated by sin; he never relishes God's grace, nor his goodness. Peter will agree with me, that a soul can have no true relish for God's grace till it be born again.
As new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby, if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house," 1 Pet. ii. 2-5. These souls were new-born; they had relished and tasted the grace of God; they were come to the foundation that God had laid; bad received eternal life; and, as lively stones, they were built up a spiritual house: but Paul's hypocrite was not upon the foundation, nor built up of God; for he fell away: and Christ says that the ruin of such a house is great, Luke vi. 49.
Peter gives quite a different account of the hy-
pocrite, or unrenewed teacher. He calls him a
well without water, the spring of eternal life is
not in his heart; a cloud, but not belonging to
the cloud of God's witnesses, for he had no rain
in his soul; a speaker of great swelling words of
vanity; without power, without savour, without
life, and without salt. They promised liberty, while
themselves were servants of corruption; they
pretended to the glorious liberty of the children of
God, while themselves were drudges and slaves to
the corruption of their own hearts' lusts. They had
escaped the pollutions of the world at their first
setting off in a profession, which was their exter-
nal reformation: but though they had escaped the pollutions of the world by a reformation, yet they had not escaped the corruptions of their hearts by regeneration, for they were still servants to them. The holy commandment was delivered to them, as it was to Judas when he was sent forth, with the rest of the apostles, to preach; he had the office and the commandment of an apostle; and thus took part of the ministry with them. But Judas, as well as Peter's hypocrite, both turned from the holy commandment delivered unto them; and so it happened, according to the true proverb, that the dog returned to his own vomit again.
I have led thee this roundabout track, reader, that thou mayest be enabled to distinguish between grace and gifts. Christ has various gifts to bestow on the children of men. To Judas, with.
the rest of the apostles, he gave commandment to preach, to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out devils, Matt. x. 4-8. To others he gives knowledge, understanding, the speech of men and angels, faith to remove mountains, and yet not charity. To others he gives riches and honours, which are in the left-hand of Wisdom. And all these things have been given to men whose hearts were never established with grace; that is, their hearts were never settled with believing, pardoning, repenting, justifying, regenerating, reconciling, renewing, soul-humbling, self-abasing, sin-subduing, heart-comforting, and soul-reviving grace. The broken and contrite heart, that trembles at God's word, is a million leagues nearer the third heaven than the most accomplished hypocrite, garnished with all the above-mentioned gifts, tastes, attainments, or accomplishments. And all these, in gifts and appearance, went far beyond Mr. Vessey.
I know some will say that such preaching and writing as this cuts off nine professors out of ten throughout the whole church. To which I answer; the Lord Jesus Christ, in his sermon in the sixth chapter of John, out of five thousand followers, cut. off all but twelve; and there was one devil left even then. Others, who are of opinion that Paul's hypocrite, in the sixth of the Hebrews, is a real saint, and one that cannot fall away, will not relish this doctrine of mine. But, if they cannot taste any sweetness in my insisting on an ex-83
perience of the goodness and grace of God in the heart, I can appeal to them for a confirmation of this truth; that tasting those gifts comes far short of the new-born babe's tasting that the Lord is gracious; because they have a greater relish for the attainments of a hypocrite, as described in the word of God, than for the unction of a saint, therein described. However, God has given me eyes to see, and I trust no man will be able to put them out, that plastering, bolstering, daubing, and varnishing the hypocrite, ill becomes a minister of Jesus. Those who heal the wound slightly, crying Peace, peace, when God has not spoken to the conscience, are no ministers of God, but menpleasers: and they that please men cannot be the
servants of Christ.
I shall now make a few remarks on the letter from Chatham.
Quotation. Since we have had him in our church, either occasionally or as a settled minister, we have not been able to lay any thing to his charge, either in point of doctrine or Christian experience.
Answer. If the five persons who have signed this letter, and who have known Mr. Vessey only so short a time, could not charge him with error, eleven persons, who sat under him for several years, could, and have charged him with damnable errors. I say damnable; for all that are saved must be taught of the Father, be drawn to the Saviour, and be born again of the Spirit. And
the authors of this letter from Chatham can assign no reason why the testimony of eleven persons should not be as valuable as their's, seeing they own that he was in Chatham but a short time; nor why the witness of the greater cloud, who knew him for seven years, should not counterbalance the lesser, who, knew him as a settled minister only since lastApril, especially considering how apt people are to be ravished with novelty. I myself know that he was a Sabellian for many years; nor do I believe he was ever otherwise: for even this letter, now under consideration, savours a little of that heresy, and so I shall make it appear. As to their not being able to charge him with any thing touching Christian experience, this is not to be wondered at, having himself acknowledged that he never had any: he never had experienced a change of heart; and therefore no charge could be brought against him on that point, unless it was for the want of it.
Quot. But, as a minister of Jehovah Jesus, he has performed the part of an evangelist, and given full proof of his ministry, as there are his living epistles, known and read of all men, many, very many, considering the small space of time he has been in these parts.
Answ. If he has performed the part of an evangelist, some souls must have been evangelized by him. And, if he has made full proof that he is a minister of the Spirit, then, doubtless, God must have ministered the Spirit by his preaching; and85
has sealed some souls by the Holy Ghost, under his ministry, up to the day of redemption; which souls must be so many seals of the approbation of God, and of his mission and commission from him. Living epistles, who are quickened by the Spirit, on whose minds, and on the fleshy tables of whose hearts, God has written his laws of faith, truth, love, and liberty, by the ministry of any instrument, so as for these epistles to shine in life and conversation, even so as for persons to read in their life what God has written on their hearts, must be a proof that such are sent of God. Yea, this is a full proof that such a minister is blessed with a cloven tongue of fire; or that he is a minister of the Spirit, a vessel of honour, with the treasures of grace; a steward of the mysteries, and of the manifold grace of God. But then where are these evangelized souls, where are these seals and living epistles to be found, who are known and read of all men? There are none to be found in 'Woolwich, who have received the Spirit by him, among all the converts he made there; nor yet at Streatham, or any other place in these parts: nor do I believe there is one at Chatham, or in all the world.
Let us now come to facts; facts are stubborn things. If there is such a living epistle at Chatham, he will be glad to tell others what God has done for his sou], and to give a reason of the hope that is in him, and of the experience that worketh hope. And I should be glad to see such a narrative, or to spend an hour in company with any
and the Holy Ghost very and eternal God; yet in essence, being, or existence, they are but one only indivisible and eternal Jehovah. But to be more explicit; though the Father is not the Word nor the Holy Ghost, but distinct from them both; though the Word is not the Father nor the Holy Ghost, but distinct from them both; and, likewise, though the Holy Ghost is not the Father nor the Word, but also distinct from them both in personality, name, office, and operation; yet they do not exist distinctly, individually, and independently, from and of each other,' but are to be considered as existing in one incomprehensible essence or Godhead. " Hear, 0 Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord."
As touching this oneness of essence in the Godhead, he is frequently spoken of in his word in the singular number; as in the following; " I am that I am. " Again, " I am the Lord thy God." Again, " I am God, and beside me there is none else," with numerous others of the like import. But, when the triune God speaks of himself personally, he doth it in the plural number; as for instance, " And God said, Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness." Again, " And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, knowing good and evil." And again, " And the Lord said, Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language." And again, "Who will go for us?" And, furthermore, to confirm this doctrine, Jehovah frequently assumes three117
distinct personal forms; sometimes of men, at other times of angels. In these forms he appeared unto our father Abraham, to give him the promise of a seed in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed. These Abraham offered sacrifices to, worshipping and addressing as Lord; and no doubt but in one of these he clearly saw the Father of mercies in choosing and electing, setting apart, and confirming in his dear Son, every vessel of mercy; in another lie saw the promised seed, which was to bruise the serpent's head, and to bring life and immortality to light by the gospel, and who, according to the flesh, was to spring from his own loins; and in the other he saw the Spirit of truth, whose work is to convince of sin, of an imputed righteousness, and of judgment; and to seal every elect sinner unto the day of redemption.' " Thus Abraham," saith Jesus, " rejoiced to see my day; lie saw it, and was glad."
Furthermore, the inseparable union of the divine essence is set forth unto us in the following scriptures. " In the beginning was the Word," viz.
in the beginning of the creation was Jehovah the Word made manifest, as the great Creator and Upholder of all things, and also as the Redeemer and Deliverer of the elect,' " and the Word was with God," mark the union, " and the Word was God." The same Jehovah Jesus " was in the beginning with God," John i. 1, 2. Again, Jehovah the word speaketh of himself, as touching this mysterious union, on this wise; " I came forth from the
Father, and am come into the world; again I leave the world, and go to the Father." Again he saith, " No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him," John i. 18. Hence observe, although the Word was personally incarnate and on earth, yet, as to his oneness of essence with the Father and the Holy Ghost, he was then in God and with God.
Sometimes we find that the whole Godhead is comprised under the appellation of Father, to shew them ysterious union and oneness thereof': as you read, " Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us?" Mal. ii. 10. Again, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from [Jehovah the Father, Word, and Holy Ghost] the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning," James i. 17. Again, when a disciple of our Lord requested him to shew unto him the Father, he receives this reply; "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me [i. e. by the eye of faith, which always views the Godhead in him] hath seen the Father. Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The Father that dwelled' in me he doeth the works," John xiv. 8, &c. Here we are not to understand the Redeemer as speaking in reference to the person of the Father, as it would not only be erroneous, but also absurd, to say that God in the person of the Father was119
incarnate, it being the Word who was made flesh therefore I understand it thus; that whoever, by the operations of the Holy Ghost, hath seen Jehovah the Word in human flesh, hath, as to his oneness of essence with the Father and theHoly Ghost, seen the whole Godhead in him; for as touching the unity of the divine Three, we are told that in that human nature, which was mysteriously begotten and conceived in the womb of the Virgin, dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily;' not personally, but essentially. With respect also of the Holy Ghost; though, as was before hinted, he is distinct from the Father and the Son, as to personality-, name, office, and operation,' yet in essence he likewise is one with them; as we read: " But, when the Comforter is come," saith Jesus, " whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeded' from the Father, he shall testify of me."
Moreover, in speaking of the distinct personalities in the Godhead, and their oneness of essence, we consider it in the following light. The Father from all eternity sanctified or set apart his elect to everlasting life in Jesus Christ. He gave them, in the bond of an unalterable covenant, to his dear Son, that he might purchase them of incensed and injured justice by the price of his precious blood, and rescue and redeem them by power out of the hands of all their numerous and potent enemies, by whom they were taken captive; as he saith, "Thine they were, and thou gayest them to me."
From everlasting also Jehovah the Word undertook our cause, became our Surety and federal head, and covenanted to perform all the conditions requisite to our complete salvation in our room and stead; as he saith, " I will redeem them' from death; I will ransom them from the power of the grave," Hosea xiii. 14. Jehovah the Holy Ghost also undertook to make known unto those objects of eternal love these secret and wonderful designs, by quickening their dead souls, and sealing thereon the electing love of the Father and the complete salvation of the Son.' Thus the Spirit, speaking by David, saith, will declare the decree;" and again, " I will be as the dew unto Israel; he shall grow as the lily." And it was this Spirit who, at sundry times, and in divers manners spake by the prophets unto the elect, who testified and foretold beforehand of the sufferings of Jesus, and of the glory which should afterwards be revealed. Thus these three bear each his record in heaven, by the which an everlasting covenant is ratified and made sure to all the chosen seed; for out of the mouth of these three infallible witnesses is every word thereof established.'
In this eternal counsel, purpose, and decree, of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is manifested his discriminating love to poor sinners, which is spoken of distinctly, in reference to each personality in the Godhead.' Thus the Father's love is spoken of on this wise; " God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son," &c. Again,121
the love of Jehovah the Word, who was made flesh, is distinctly spoken of thus; "To him [Christ] that hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood," &c. Also the love of God the Holy Ghost in condescending to dwell in the bodies of the elect, as the Spirit of love, of power, and of a sound mind, is as distinctly spoken of in these words.' "Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake." This
free and unchangeable love of our triune God is the threefold cord which can never be broken, and that binds every elect vessel with himself together in the bundle of life.
Now, from what has been last hinted at, the following inferences may be drawn. It would be very erroneous and absurd to bind together into one these three distinct personalities in the Godhead, because the very nature of a covenant carries in it this idea, that more than one must be engaged in the making thereof; and that each one concerned therein must necessarily execute his different office assigned him, agreeable to the conditions thereof: even so also it would be equally erroneous and absurd to imagine that three essences or deities individually sat in council, to agree upon these weighty concerns of our redemption,' the same as three individuals presiding over a nation might convene together in order to enter into certain agreements relative to the welfare of their subjects; as this would be launching into Tritheism on the one hand, whilst the
former would be launching into Sabellianism, or Antitrinitarianism, on the other; both which ought to be carefully avoided, as it is affecting to be wise above what is written, which is a snare of the devil, by which many are entrapped. Therefore the unity, or oneness of essence, of the sacred Three, respecting their purpose of love and grace towards the elect, is clearly pointed out in the following scriptures,' " The Lord [Father, Word, and Spirit,] hath appeared of old [from eternity] unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have 1 [Jehovah the Holy Ghost] drawn thee," Jer. xxxi. 3. Again, " Having made known unto us the mystery of his will," viz. the secret purpose of the undivided Three touching the salvation of the elect, "according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in himself," Eph. i. 9. Furthermore, when the apostle of us Gentiles is treating concerning the unsearchable depths of Jehovah's councils respecting election and reprobation, he speaketh on this wise, " 0! the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his judgments, &c." Rom. xi. 33. Here he sheweth the oneness of the mysterious three; but in touching upon the selfsame point in another place, he speaks of the three distinct persons in the mysterious one; thus, " That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the
Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." " Hear, 0 Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord."
Lastly, with respect to the work performed in the hearts of the elect; the scriptures every where speak of this as wholly the work and office of Jehovah in the person of the Holy Ghost, as we read,' " When he [the Comforter] is come, he shall reprove [or convince] the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment," John xvi. 8. ' Hence observe, that in this, and every other part of the scriptures, the work of conviction is attributed to the Holy Ghost: therefore to say that God in
the person of the Father, or of the Word, executeth this office, would be repugnant to the plain testimony thereof; yet, nevertheless, in setting forth the indivisible unity of the divine essence in this respect, as in every other, it is clear they do not operate individually or separately from each other; but that whatsoever the Father cloth, even that doth the- Word, and the Holy Ghost; and that whatsoever the Word cloth, even that doth the
� Father and the Holy Ghost; and also, that whatsoever the Holy Ghost doth, even that doth the Father and the Word;' all conjointly as respecting their essence, though not their persons. Hence it is the office of the Holy Ghost to lead or draw sinners to Christ. " As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." The Father is also said to perform this work. " No man can come unto me, except the Father which bath
sent me draw him." This is also attributed to the Son; as he saith, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." 'Furthermore, faith, which worketh by love, is wrought in the elect by the conjoint operations of the triune God in the person of the Holy Ghost.' Hence he is emphatically styled The Spirit of faith, and, as considered personally, is the giver thereof; as we read, " For to one is given, by the same Spirit, the word of wisdom," &c. " to another faith by the same Spirit." This is also spoken of respecting the Father and the Son. When Peter confessed his faith in and concerning the Lord Jesus, he receives this reply, " Blessed art thou, Simon Bar Jonah, for flesh and blood hath not revealed this [mystery of faith] unto thee; but my Father which is in heaven." We are also exhorted to look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Lastly, the bodies of the elect are said to be the temples of the Holy Ghost: and where this heavenly guest resides there is no less than the whole Trinity. Hence we are said to be an habitation of God through the Spirit. For God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, hath said, " I will dwell in them and walk in them." Again, "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will
shall now conclude with a few remarks upon the come unto him and make our abode with him." I r
It is plain. from what has been already hinted,125
and from the whole tenor of divine revelation, that there is in the incomprehensible Godhead a plurality or trinity of subsistences or persons, though not a plurality or trinity of deities or essences.' How these exist in three and yet one, and how they exist in one and yet three, is a profound mystery, and known only unto God; this being one of the secret things which alone belong unto him. And whoever attempts, through a vain curiosity, for it is nothing else, to pry into this bottomless and shoreless ocean, in order to explore the reasonableness and propriety of such a system, or the way and manner of the mysterious existence of the triune Diety, are rashly endeavouring to break through the limits that God has set around his holy mount;' and such will find, sooner or later, that the Lord will break through upon them, and destroy if not their souls, yet all the wood, hay, and stubble, of fleshly wisdom, carnal reasonings, aspiring thoughts, and vain imaginations, which they have been so busy in building up; for who ever fought against God and prospered? None. For whoever are engaged in this perilous work, or any other of the like import, are strangers to soul-prosperity; and are full of jargons, contradictions, strifes, contentions, confusions, and darkness: and well they may; for who by searching can find out God, as to the nature of his being and existence? Who by searching can find out the Almighty to perfection, even respecting his common dispensations of providence and grace? " It is high as
heaven, what canst thou do? Deeper than hell, what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea," Job. xi. 7, 8. For my own part, I never more desire to make an attempt of diving into this immense abyss, but to stand at a proper distance, and, with pleasing wonder and admiration, sing with an inspired apostle, " 0! the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor? or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed to him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever. Amen."
When I have had occasion to treat of this subject, in public or private, I have generally been led to enforce more the necessity of an heart-felt experience of this mystery, than a scientific knowledge thereof in the judgment; for I doubt not but you will readily agree with me, that they are the best Trinitarians, who are savingly acquainted with the Father's electing love, the Son's redeeming grace, and the heart-cheering companion of the Holy Ghost; without which a man, with all his accumulated knowledge, is no more than sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. I must confess that I am not very fond of the terms persons or subsistences, being rather ambiguous, because they seem to carry in them an idea of a127
plurality of gods;' by which weak minds, through misconstruing and wrongly applying them, have been much perplexed and tried thereupon. And not only so, but it often gives room for sceptics to cavil and contend against those truths we are endeavouring to advance by such and such particular terms and phrases, which, were they omitted, or more seldom used, and the plain text more adhered to, those difficulties might perhaps be obviated in some measure. However, it appears to me that we are not condemnable in making use of any term or phrase whatever, admitting that the doctrines which they are meant to establish, and the idea by them which we mean to convey, are wholly agreeable to the divine oracles; and whenever I find a person raising contentions about words and phrases, (which, though they may not immediately occur in the scriptures, yet the sum and substance of their meaning are contained therein,) I generally take it for granted, that such manifest thereby a dissatisfaction to, and a deep-rooted enmity against, not the words merely, but the very doctrines themselves, which we mean to establish thereby. Therefore I very frequently make use of the terms above mentioned, as they appear to me to be sound and good, so far as they are restrained to the personal distinctions in the Godhead; but have ever exploded them, as respecting the oneness of the divine essence; the last of which, peradventure, may have given rise to the late reports.
As I firmly believe that the whole fulness of the Godhead is in the Father, the same in the Son, and the same in the Holy Ghost, I am led to worship them at times distinctly and separately, by praise, supplication, and thanksgiving, to each, according to the various dispensations I pass under; and am persuaded that I have felt the Lord's sensible approbation therein: this several can testify, if they pleased, both here and elsewhere, who have attended my ministry; which I never could or should have done, had I, as hath been reported, held that there is but one person in the Godhead, or at least that the divine Three are but names, as manifestations, office-characters, or nominal distinctions; for to address a mere name, office-character, nominal distinction, or manifestation, appears to be nothing more than refined idolary, and rank nonsense.' " For it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." I have ever manifested a disapprobation to that, too much adopted, method of making use of earthly similes to represent, or rather to define, this unfathomable mystery of the Trinity; which conduct I deem to be unscriptural, and consequently unwarrantable, since Jehovah has given this challenge; " To whom then Will you liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto me?" Isaiah xl. 18. It is true the inspired writers have been led to ransack, as it were, the whole creation for similitudes to represent the various operations of the Spirit of grace, the different dispen129
sations of God in the world and in the church, as also the person and work of Jesus, and the beauty and excellency of his beloved spouse, &c. yet there is not a patriarch, prophet, or apostle, throughout the whole volume of revelation, who have attempted, by any-simile, metaphor, allegory, or figure whatever, to set forth the way and manner of the being or existence of the triune Deity. Therefore the report that I should use the similitude of three candles, whose light terminates in one effulgence, or any other figure or metaphor whatever, is wholly groundless and false.
I must confess, also, that I frequently adventured to deviate a little from the too much frequented path of human tradition, respecting the sonship of Christ; wherein he is generally held forth as begotten by the Father, as touching simply his deity: which idea appears to me very unscriptural, and also derogatory to the majesty and glory of his essential divinity. Therefore the doctrine of a begotten God I should ever wish to treat with contempt '
If we trace the scriptures upon this last mentioned head, we shall soon perceive that, where-ever Jesus is spoken of therein as being begotten, or respecting his being a son, they either allude to his incarnation, his manhood alone, or his resurrection from the dead. Hence he is called the only begotten of the Father, e. as to his manhood, which alone was begotten in so miraculous and mysterious a manner; for this was the pro-
noise to his virgin mother, " The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing [the immaculate humanity of the Saviour] which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God," Luke i. 35. Furthermore, when Jehovah the Word took our nature upon himself, thereby the two natures entering into a mysterious conjunction, and appearing in one complete Saviour, he is spoken of on this wise, " Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten the." Again, " When he bringeth the first-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." Thus as all the glory of the invisible Godhead appeared conspicuous in the person and work of the manhood, as also in all the miracles he wrought, and in every word he spake; he is therefore said to be the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person; which cannot allude to his Godhead simply, but to the manhood in union therewith. For, however near an image or likeness may resemble the original, yet it cannot be the original itself. Therefore in this respect the Father is greater than him; but, as touching his divinity, he thinks it no robbery to be equal with God. Furthermore, as to his being begotten; it is written in a certain Psalm, " Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee;" which passage is cited in the Acts as alluding to the Saviour's resurrection, as we read, " And we declare unto you glad tidings; how that the promise, which was
made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." He is therefore called the first-begotten from the dead. From all which it is evident that Jesus Christ, as to his incarnation, mere manhood, and resurrection from the dead, was really and verily begotten and born; consequently, in these respects he is a Son; but, in respect of his essential divinity, simply considered as such, he is the untreated, unbegotten, undivided, and unoriginated, source of eternal power, might, majesty, and glory, the same as and with the Father and the Holy Ghost; to whom be equal and undistinguished glory by ail the church, throughout all ages, and world without end. Amen.
Thus have I undisguisedly, and without reserve, briefly given you my thoughts upon this much controverted point of doctrine; and do positively affirm, that these are the things I have invariably taught, in all places whithersoever God in his providence has called me to speak in his name. Whether they are from heaven or from man,
now leave you to judge, " For he that is spiritual judgeth all things."
And now may " the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost;" even all the unmerited blessings of the glorious and ever-adorable Trinity, Israel's one
God; " be with you, and the whole household of faith, now and for evermore. Amen."
Even so prayeth your unworthy brother in the Lord, and willing servant for Christ's sake,
WILLIAM VESSEY. Woolwich, December 1790.
Ans. In this letter, reader, you have an acknowledgement of his confusion and ignorance, and of the way in which he stumbled and blundered on; and of his own blind reason being his only guide while prying into that glorious mystery, and that his notions were nothing but his own whims and fancies.
2. He informs you that he was both an eye and ear witness of the dreadful fall of that presumptuous wretch Butler, mentioned by me in the former part of my narrative.
3. And still his old heresy appears; for his notions of three persons in the Godhead are confined to personality, name, office, and operation.
4. That Jehovah frequently assumes three distinct personal forms; which are made out to be two, that of men, and of angels. In these forms he appeared unto Abraham. These Abraham offered sacrifices to, worshipping and adoring as Lord.' Whereas no man hath seen God at any time. Some have heard his voice, but none have seen his shape. Nor did Abraham worship the three men that appeared to him. One was our Lord, the other two were angels. Nor did God133
the Father, or God the Holy Ghost, ever assume the form of men or angels. But Vessey says, in one of these forms Abraham saw the Father of mercies, in choosing and electing, setting apart, and confirming in his dear Son, every vessel of mercy. In another human form, he saw the promised Seed, and in another form he saw the Spirit of truth. This is Mr. Vessey's description of a trinity of human and angelic forms, and Abraham's view of them. What arrogance, confusion, and presumption, are here!
5. ' In the beginning of the creation was Jehovah the Word made manifest as the great Creator and Upholder of all things, and also as the Redeemer and Deliverer of the elect.' Whereas at the beginning of the creation there was none of the elect to manifest himself to.
6. He contradicts the notion of the Trinity appearing in three human forms to Abraham, by asserting, that " No man hath seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, which is in the Father, he hath declared him."
7. All the three persons are comprised under the appellation of Father, the first person in order, in the Trinity.
8. By the text which expresses all the fulness of the Godhead dwelling bodily in Christ, he does not understand it of the fulness of every attribute or perfection of Deity dwelling in the person of Christ, but of the whole Trinity dwelling in the human nature of Christ. In short, while he la-
bours to shun the error of dividing the substance, he does nothing but confound the persons, in the Godhead, throughout the whole letter.
9. You have . again mention made of three distinct persons, as to personality, name, and office; and of its being erroneous and absurd to bind together into one these three distinct personalities. What strange and awful language is this! And how has the Almighty baffled and confounded this arrogant fool, who, in the pride of the devil, is finding out to perfection the existence of his Maker!
10. We are informed that it would be erroneous and absurd to imagine, that three essences, or deities, individually sat in council to agree upon the weighty concern of our redemption. He cannot see three persons in the scriptures without three essences or deities; which three persons did sit in council about the work of creation, and redemption too. " Let us make man in our own image." And again, " And the counsel of peace shall be between them both," Zech. vi. 13. Which does not exclude the Holy Ghost, who reveals the peace that the Father ordained us to, and which the Son made by the blood of his cross, and who is the Spirit of love and peace in all the churches.
11. Quot. Therefore the unity or oneness of essence of the sacred Three, respecting their purpose of love and grace towards the elect, is clearly pointed out in the following scriptures.135
" The Lord [Father, Word, and Spirit] hath appeared of old [from eternity] unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I [Jehovah the Holy Ghost] drawn thee," Jer. xxxi. 3.
In this quotation, reader, you have one Lord, Father, Word, and Spirit, appearing, from eternity, to another person, called me, saying, " Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting loves therefore with lovingkindness have I [Jehovah the Holy Ghost] drawn thee." This account amounts to five persons: and what the church says of herself; and of God's drawing her in time, is applied to the Saviour, as done to him from eternity.
12. Quot. Lastly, with respect to the work performed in the hearts of the elect. The scriptures every where speak of this as wholly the work and office of Jehovah, in the person of the Holy Ghost.
Here the work of grace is ascribed wholly to the Spirit! Though it is the Father that draws us to Christ, it is Christ that cleanses and receives us; and it is the Spirit that regenerates and renews us. But Vessey says, This is wholly the work and office of Jehovah, in the person of the Holy Ghost,' By which he means that there is but one person in the Godhead, which is Jehovah the Saviour, who works in the person of the Holy Ghost; which he views as no more than a person in name. Take it which way you
will, it is absurdity and nonsense. And indeed I never read such daring presumptuous insolence in all my life before. His being permitted to continue for ten years offering such affronts to God, and insulting the Almighty in so awful a manner, is a proof, with a witness, of God's being what he has revealed himself to be; " The Lord God, slow to anger, and abundant in goodness and truth," &c. &c.
13. The above quotation is all contradicted in the next page: for although he says, The whole work of grace is performed by the Spirit; and the work of conviction, in every part of the scriptures, is attributed to the Holy Ghost; therefore to say that God in the person of the Father, or the Word, executeth this office, would be repugnant to the plain testimony thereof;' yet he has contradicted this, by asserting, that what, soever the Father cloth, even that cloth the Word, and the Holy Ghost.' Nor do the scriptures attribute the work of conviction altogether to the Holy Ghost; the law is preached to convict and condemn the whole world, that they may all become guilty before God. And " every one that hath learned of the Father cometh unto me," saith the Saviour. But bringing souls to Christ is attributed to the Spirit, by perverting this text, as he words it; Hence it is the office of the Holy Ghost to lead or draw sinners to Christ.' " As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." This shews that Mr. Vessey sees no dif137
ference between the Father sending the law home with power to revive sin and slay the sinner, and then leading the poor condemned criminal to the Saviour, and the Spirit, who sweetly leads us into all truth, and into every holy and right path, after we are born again. The Father draws us, as criminals, to his dear Son; and the Holy Ghost leads us, as sons, in the paths of truth and peace.
Quot. Furthermore, faith, which worketh by love, is wrought in the elect by the conjoint operations of the triune God, in the person of the Holy Ghost.
Here, reader, is four persons; the triune God, which is three persons in one God, operates in the person of the Holy Ghost; which must be another person, and which is another branch of his abominable heresy; that, though there are three persons in name or office, &c. yet the triune God, or trinity of names, works only in one person. The mystery and work of faith is jumbled together in the same confused way.
15. The Most High is called a system. He likewise cautions others to keep their proper distance; while, at the same time, he is attempting to describe the glorious mystery without one beam of light, truth, or consistency.
16. He tells us that he endeavoured to enforce an heart-felt experience of this great mystery upon the minds of his audience; whereas he
never had any experience of it himself: if he had, the Almighty would not have resisted him, and confounded him for his pride, as he has done, which is visible in every part of his letter.
17. He is not fond of the terms persons or subsistences; which he says are ambiguous ones, and seem to convey an idea of a plurality of gods. He still keeps barking at the mystery, Satan driving him on to it, and God confounding the fool while he is at it; for a trinity of persons subsisting in the Godhead is clearly revealed in the scriptures, and without any ambiguity at all.
18. After having confessed his Sabellianism in the former part of his letter, he here denies that ever he held any such principles; for to address a mere name, or office, is idolatry!' This contradicts all his confessions.
19. He rejects making use of any simile touching the mystery of the Trinity; which he deems unscriptural; though the Almighty himself makes use of the emblems of wind, water, and fire.
20. He has a stroke at the sonship of the Saviour; whereby he has accepted the challenge given to all the world; " Who shall declare his generation?" Isa. liii. 8; and has presumed to treat it with contempt.
21. Christ being called the first-begotten Son, is all applied by Mr. Vessey to his incarnation, or to his manhood, which never was begotten at all, but made. He was made flesh, made of a woman, made of the seed of David, made under the law.139
And, as touching his manhood, he is withoutfather; and, as touching his Godhead, without mother.
Thus, reader, you have seen the darkness, ignorance, confusion, and presumption, of a man who has tumbled and stumbled upon the dark mountains for ten years, without a beam of light into any one text that he has quoted. You have seen, in the first part of his letter, a confession of his heresy; and, in the latter part, an absolute denial of it. For my part, such arrogance and presumption I never read before, and wish never to read the like again. However, he is dead; and it was a kind providence that God removed him out of the world, that he might do no more mischief. But the worst of it is, his heresy did not expire with him; for many in London are leavened with it, which nothing but the grace and Spirit of God can eradicate. Another letter, from one who has been brought out of this snare of the devil, follows, and then I have done.
AGREEABLE to your request I proceed to give you an account of the doctrines preached by Mr. V. during my abode in Woolwich. But, had I not been convinced by the Holy Ghost under your ministry of the following things, I never could have been prevailed upon to produce a single testimony against Mr. V. as I was so zealously affected by him. The things, then, which I have before alluded to, are these; the difference betwixt
gifts and grace, betwixt a vain presumptuous confidence and that faith which is of the operation of the Spirit of God, which purifies the heart, and works by love to God and our neighbour; betwixt a man speaking with the tongue of men or angels and the tongue of the wise, which I have proved, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, to be health to my soul; betwixt that knowledge which puffeth up, and that knowledge of the true God and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, which is declared to be eternal life; betwixt a well-furnished head, and a heart rooted and grounded in the love of God; betwixt the flaming zeal of an hypocrite, supported by the love of popular applause, and that zeal which is according to knowledge, or that love of Christ which constrains a man to endure all things for the elect's sake: and, lastly, that abominable error, denying the three persons in the Godhead.
The first time I ever heard Mr. V. open his mouth in public was in a room pertaining to his father-in-law. The subject was concerning the decrees of God. And he introduced himself to his audience thus; Don't you be afraid,' says he,
that I shall soar too high, or lose my wings in my flight, for I shall surely find my way down again.' And then followed an harangue concerning the power, omniscience, and omnipresence of God; that not a single atom that floated in the air, nor a single blade of grass that clothes the field, but what were all directed by his hand. But before this he said, I know that the elect can stand these141
things, and, as for the others, I care nothing about them.' But such another dry morsel surely never was set before perishing sinners.
After his chapel was opened the chief thing he seemed to aim at was to open the dark and mysterious passages of scripture, whereby a deal of light was communicated to the hearers, but I cannot say grace. As for my part, before this I was almost totally blind to those dark sayings and metaphorical expressions which he seemed to explain; but, after I had got a little understanding in these things, it was my chief study to follow after them more than after righteousness, faith, charity, and holiness; without which, the apostle declares, no man shall see the Lord. I took more delight in this than in keeping up communion and fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ: more in this than in taking heed to my ways, or making straight paths for my feet. So that I know, from experience, if a man understand all mysteries, and lack charity, the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost, he is but as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. But this false and delusive light served at once to puff up my mind and nurse my pride; the result of which was, a vain and presumptuous confidence, a hard heart, a blinded mind, and a contempt of every one who did not possess this new light; although, in scripture language, it is properly called darkness. And I have often wondered, since I have
been convinced of these things, that God had not consigned me over to the condemnation of the devil: but his mercy endureth, and Jesus hath said that none shall pluck his people out of his hands. Again, when preaching concerning the believer's interest in Christ, he declared that, from the time a Christian had believed with the heart unto righteousness, no one could ever more doubt of his interest. He said he might be tempted to doubts, but not to give way to them. I myself,' said he, have been above eight years in the ways of God, and have never had a single doubt concerning my interest in Christ.' Again, when preaching from these words: " And be made partakers of the fellowship of his sufferings; " which,' says he, 'is to believe in his death and sufferings; thus it is a precious thing to have fellowship with him in his sufferings.' This, I believe, is not the apostle's meaning in that passage. But again, he preached a whole sermon in order to overthrow the doctrine of the Trinity; and declared that there were not three persons, but one God in three different characters, as Father, Son, and holy Ghost. What he said to prove this error I cannot remember; but, upon serious reflection, I can now discern his preaching was with a great degree of pride, presumption, and arrogance. Though, as I then thought, he was clear in many of the doctrines of the gospel; such as election, his favourite topic, repentance, the new birth, the necessity of effectual calling, the sovereign grace of God, the imputation143
of Christ's righteousness, his atoning blood to purge the conscience from the guilt of sin, &c.
Now, sir, I shall give you a short account of my happy deliverance from the aforesaid error respecting the Trinity. About three years and four months ago I came to hear you at Providence Chapel. In the course of your sermon you was led to speak against Arianism, and clearly proved the personality of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; which at once cut up all the false notions I had imbibed concerning the Trinity. I went away, much distressed in mind, to pray for forgiveness; but could not, as it seemed to me to be unpardonable. I continued so for some time, during which period my airy notions, high thoughts, and exalted imaginations, began to come down. I still continued to hear you; but had neither a hand to reach, nor teeth to chew, those precious things that were held forth and set before me: so that I well understood that passage, which often followed me; " Bread of deceit is sweet to a man, but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel." According to the good pleasure of God, who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, I heard you one Lord's day describing how bent the children of God were to backslide, both in heart, practice, and judgment. And you was chewing how far some of them had gone in each of those particulars; but more especially concerning errors in judgment: and you pointed out what gross ideas some had imbibed concerning the Trinity; and had been
convinced of it, and reclaimed. And you confirmed it with this scripture; "They that murmured shall learn doctrine, and they that erred in spirit shall come to understanding." I believe in my heart most of that discourse was intended for me; because the Lord broke the snare, set my soul at liberty, and filled me with godly sorrow, gratitude, and thankfulness to God for his long-suffering mercy and faithfulness, in waiting to be gracious to such a rebel. When the sermon was over, I went to the vestry door, in order to tell you of my happy deliverance; but my heart and eyes were both so full, that I was obliged to retreat. Ever since this, you and your doctrine too have had a place in my heart and affections, and I believe ever will; though I have had many sharp rebukes and reproofs from you for what has been amiss, and many a comfortable word when dejected and cast down.
I saw three friends from Woolwich yesterday, and asked one of them, who had been a deacon of his, if Mr. Vessey did not preach thus concerning the Trinity? His answer was, He did, and I received it from him too.'
Pray, sir, excuse this scrawl, as I have but little time to spare. I beseech you to remember me at a throne of grace, as I labour under a heavy cross at present.
I remain your friend in the perfect bond of everlasting love,
British Muleum, Nov. 26, 1792. JOHN HOGG,