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that bought them, and put him to an open shame. -- And while the fourth makes even a Felix tremble, it causes believers to pass the time of their sojourning here in humble fear and chearful watchfulness.
Tho' all thele degrees of justification meet in glorified saints, we offer violence to scripture if we think with Dr. Crisp that they are inseparable. For all the wicked who quench the convincing Spirit, and are finally given up to a reprobate mind, fall from the first, as well as Pharaoh. All who receive the feed among thorns, all who do not forgive their fellow ler. vants, all who begin in the spirit and end in the flesh, and all who draw back and become fons or daughters of perdition, by falling from the third, lose the second, as Hymeneus, Philetus, and Demas. And none partake of the fourth but those who bear fruit unto perfection according to one or another of the divine dispensations; some producing thirty-feld like Heathens, forne fixty-fold like Jews, and some an hundred fold like Christians.
From the whole it appears that altho' we can ab. solutely do nothing towards our first justification, yet to say that neither faith nor works are required in order to the other three, is one of thie boldest, most unseriptural, and moft dangerous affertions in the world; which sets aside the best half of the scriptures, and lets grofs Antinornianism, come in fulltide upon the church.
Having thus taken a iew of the confusion in' which Calvin and Crisp have laid the foundation of their schemes, I return to the arguments by which you support their mistakes.
1. “ If you suppose, do you say, that there are any 6 conditional works before justification, these works 65 muft either be the works of one who is in a state 6 of nature, or in a state of grace, either condemn66 ed by the law or absolved by the gospel.”
A new sophism this! No works are previous to juftification from original fin, and to the quickning
light which enlightens every man that comes into the world. And the works that a penitent does in order to the subsequent justifications, such as cealing to do evil, learning to do well, repenting, believing, and perlevering in obedient faith, are all done in a state of initial, progressive, or perfected grace ; not under the Adainic law which did not admit of repentance, but under the gospel of Christ which says, Let the wicked forfake his way, and the unrighteous man his thou:hts, and let him return unto the Lord who will abundantly pardon his fins, cleanse him from all unrightecufness, and even fll him with the fulness of God.
II. You proceed: if a man in a state of nature does works in order to justification, they “ cannot please - God because he is in a state of utter enmity against 66 him.". What Sir, do you think, that a man a state of utter enmity against God” will do any thing in order to recover his favour ? When Adam was in that state, did he fo much as once ask pardon ? If he had, would he not have evidenced a desire of reconciliation, and consequently a degree of apoftacy short of what you call utter enmity ?
III. You quote scripture: “ He that does something in order to justification cannot please God, because he is alienat d from the life of God, thro' the ignorance that is in him, because of the blindness of his heart.” An unhappy quotation this: for the apostle did not speak these words of those honest Heathens, who, in obedience to the light of the world, did something in order to justification : but of those abandoned Pagans, who, as he observes in the next verse, bein past feelin, had giv'n themselves over unto laforoufnefs, to work ail u: eleannofs tinth reed: nefs. This to prove that men have not a talent of power to work the works of God, you produce men who have buried it, that they might work all uncleanness willout control, yea with greediefs.
You would have avoided thi mistake, if you had considered that the Heathens mentioned there by St.
Paul, were of the stamp of those whom he describes, Rom. i. and whom he represents as given up by God to a reprobite mind. Because when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, and did riot like to retain him in their knowledge. Here we may observe (!. that those reprobate Heathens had once some knowledge of God, and of course some life; for this is eternal 11FE to KNOW God. 2.) That if they were given up, 'BFCAUSE they did not use that talent of divine knowledge, it wa not because they were eternally and unconditionally reprobated; whence I beg leave to conclude, that if eternal unconditional reprobation is a mere chimera, fo is likewise eternal unconditional election.
You might have objected with much more plausibility, that when the Ephesians were in the flesh they were without hope, without Chrift, and without God in the world: And if you had, I would have replied that these words cannot be taken in their full latitude, for the following reasons, which appear to me unanswerable. (1.) The Ephesians before their converfion were not totally without hope, but without a good hope. They probably had a presumptuous a hope as David in Uriah's bed, or Agag when he thought the bitterness of death was past. (2.) They were without Christ, just as a man who has buried his talent is without it. But as he may dig it up, and use it, if he fees his folly in time; fo could, and fo did the Ephesians. (3.) If they were in every senle without Chrift, wliat becomes of the doctrine maintained in your fourth letter, that they were for ever and for ever compleat in Christ ?" (4.) They were not entirely without God; for in him they lived, moved, and had their being; nor were they without him as absolute reprobates, for they knew the day of their visitation before it was over. It remains then that they were without God, as the prodigal son was without his father, when he fed swine in the far country; and that they could and did return to their heavenly Father as ell as he
IV. You go on: “ He who does fomething in " order to justification, not being grafted in Chrift " the true vine, cannot bring forth any good fruit; “ he can do nothing at all.” I beg, Sir, you would produce one, man, who has not finned the fin unto death, ihat can absolutely do nothing, that cannot cease froma one fin, and take up the practice of one duty. You will as foon find a saint in hell as such a man upon carth. Even those who in their voluntary humility say perpetually, that "they can do nothing," refute their own do&rine by their very confessions; for he who consesses his helplessness, undoubtedly does something, unless by some new rule in logic it can be demonstrated, that confefsing our impotence, and com. plaining of our misery, is doing nothing.”
When our Lord says, Without me ye can do nothing, does he say that we are totally without him? When he declares that no man cometh unto him unless the Father draw him, does he insinuate that the Father does not draw all & or that he draws all irrefiftably? or that those who are drawn at one time may not draw back at any other? Is it right to press scripture into the service of a system, by straining its meaning so far beyond the import of the words?
Again, though a man may not be “grafted in Christ” according to the Jewish or Chriftian difpenfation; may he not partake of his quickening fap, according to the more general dispensation of that saving grace, which has appeared to all men? May not the branches in which that saving grace appears, have some connexion with Christ the heavenly vine, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, as well as Job and his friends, Melchisedec, Plato, the wise men, Cornelius, some of his soldiers, and many more who brought forth fruits according to their dispensation ? Does not the first general justification fo graft all men in him, that if they bear not fruit during their accepted time, they are justly taken away, call forth, and burned as barren branches ?
V. Your knowledge of the scripture made you fore: see this answer, and to obviate it
you say: “ tell me that I mistake, that although we must ceafo “ from evil, repent, &c. yet you are far from fup
posing we can perform these things in our own na“ tural strength, I ask then, in whose strength are " they performed ? You say, in the strength of Christ, " and by the power of the Holy Ghost, according to “these scriptures, I can do all things through Christ strengthening me, being strengthened with might in the
Permit me to tell you, honored Sir, that I do not admire your quoting scripture for me. You take care to keep out of sight the passages. I have quoted, and to produce those which are foreign to the question. To fhew that even a sinful Heathen may work for, as well as from life, I could never be so destitute of common sense as to urge the experience of St. Paul, a father in Chrift: and that of the Ephesians, who were Christians sealed unto the day of redemption.
To do justice to free grace, instead of the above mentioned improper scriptures, you should have produced those which I have quoted in the vindicationChrist is the light of the world, which enlightens every man that cometh into the world -I am come that they mighet have life-Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life. The grace of God which bringeth falvation hath appeared unto all men, God's spirit ftrives with man, even with those who perish. He commands all men every where to repent ; nor does he desire to reap where he has not fown.
VI. Such scriptures as these would have been to the purpose; but I excuse your producing ctlers; for if these had appeared, you would have raifed more » dust in six lines, than you could have laid in 60 , pages; and every attentive reader would have de: tečted the fallacy of your grand argument: as .foon
may we expect living actions from a dead corpse ; 66. light out of darkness; fight out of blindness ; love