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A body of seven eminent divines, all friends, it seems, to Dr. Crisp, but enemies to his Antinomian dotages, charitably endeavour to apologise for him, at the same time that they recommend Flavel's treatise on Mental Errors in general, and on Antinomianism in particular, where Dr. Crisp is opposed by name. Having mentioned two similar propositions of his, viz. "Salvation is not the end of any thing we do,"-And, "We are to act from life, not for life," they bear this full testimony against the absurdity which they contain:
"[It were in effect to abandon human nature,] and to sin against a very fundamental law of our creation, not to intend our own felicity; it were to make our first and most deeply fundamental duty, in one great, essential branch of it, our sin, viz. To take the Lord for our God: For to take him for our God, most essentially includes our taking him for our Supreme Good, which we all know is included in the notion of the last end. It were to make it unlawful to strive against all sin, and particularly against sinful aversion from God, wherein lies the very death of the soul, or the sum of its misery; or to strive after perfect conformity to God in holiness, and the full fruition of him, wherein the soul's final blessedness does principally consist.
"[It were to teach us to violate the great precepts of the gospel,] Repent, that your sins may be blotted out'Strive to enter in at the strait gate-Work out your 6 own salvation with fear and trembling :'-To obliterate the patterns and precedents set before us in the gospel, We have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified-I keep under my body lest I should be a cast-away-That thou mayest save thyself, and 'them that hear thee.'
66 [It were to suppose us bound to do more for the salvation of others, than our own] salvation. We are required to save others with fear, plucking them out of the fire. Nay, we were not (by this rule strictly understood) so much as to pray for our own salvation, which is a doing somewhat; when, no doubt, we are to pray
for the success of the gospel, to this purpose, on behalf of other men.
"[It were to make all the threatenings of eternal death, and promises of eternal life, we find in the gospel of our blessed Lord, useless, as motives to shun the one, and obtain the other:] For they can be motives no way, but as the escaping of the former, and the attainment of the other, have with us the place and consideration of an end.
[It makes what is mentioned in the scripture, as the character and commendation of the most eminent saints, a fault,] as of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; that they sought the better and heavenly country;' and plainly declared that they did so, which necessarily implies their making it their end."
Now, honoured Sir, it lies upon you to prove, that because Mr. Williams and I have not produced all that makes against you, we are guilty of a "most notorious perversion" of the quotation. If you affirm, that the
Want of argument in a bad cause, which people will defend "at all events," (if I may use the words which Mr. Hill too hastily lends me in his book, but justly claims as his own in the "errata,") obliges them to fly to personal charges. Zelus arma ministrat. Their Diana is in danger. They must raise dust, and make a noise, to divert the attention of the reader from the point. Who knows but she may escape in the hurry? At the end of the above mentioned quotation, I had added three lines, to throw some light upon the last clause, which D. Williams had cut off too short. As I did not enclose them in commas, it never entered into my mind, that any body would charge me with presenting them as a quotation, nor do they in the least "misrepresent,' much less "pervert" the sense of the author. Upon this, however, my opponent brings me to a trial. But if, at p. 97, he lets me escape, without condemning me point-blank for "forging quotations;" he is not so mild. (p. 27.) I have observed in the Second Check, (Vol. i. p. 361,) that Mr. Wesley in his Minutes guards the foundation of the gospel by the two clauses, where he mentions the exclusion of the "merit of works" in point of salvation, and "believing in Christ." The two clauses I present in one point of view, in the very words of the Minutes, although not in the tense of the verb "believing," thus: "Not by the merit of works," but by "believing in Christ." My opponent is pleased here to overlook the commas, which show, that I produce two different places of the Minutes; and then he improves his own oversight thus: "Forgeries of this kind have long passed
perversion I am charged with, consists in saying, that the divines who wrote Flavel's Preface, were shocked at
for no crime with Mr. Wesley. I did not think you would have followed him in these ungenerous artifices, which must unavoidably sink the writer in our esteem. But I am sorry to say, Sir, that this is not the only stratagem of this sort, which you have made use of. Instance, your bringing in Mr. Whitefield, as a main tainer of a second justification by works," &c. &c.-The bare mention of such groundless accusations being a sufficient refutation of them, I shall close this note by observing, that the pure religion which I vindicate, is too well grounded on scripture, to need the support, either of the pretended forgeries which my opponent contrives for me, or of the blackening charges, which he is forced to produce for want of better arguments.
In almost any other but my pious opponent, I should think, that this severity proceeded from palpable disingenuity; but my respect for him does not permit me to entertain such a thought. I urge for his excuse the inconceivable strength of prejudice, and the fatal tendency of his favourite system. Yes, O Calvinism, upon thee I charge the mistakes of my worthy antagonist! If at any time his benevolent temper is soured, thy leaven has done it. It is by thy powerful influence that he discovers "a forgery," where there is not so much as the printer's omission of a comma to countenance his discovery. It is through the mists which thou raisest, that he sees in the Works of one of our most correct authors, nothing but "a regular series of inconsistencies, a wheel of contradiction running round and round again." Thou lendest him thy deceitful glass, when he looks at my Second Check, and cries out, "Base and shocking slander! Acrimonious, bitter, and low sneers! Horrid misrepresentations, and notorious A wretched spirit perversions! Abominable beyond all the rest! of low sarcasm and slanderous banter runs through the whole book," which contains "more than a hundred close pages, totally void of scriptural argument, as they are replete with "doctrine calumny, gross perversions, equivocations," - and a full of rottenness and deadly poison, the spurious offspring of the man of sin, begotten out of the scarlet whore."
I beg my readers would not think the worse of my opponent's candour, on account of these severe charges. In one sense they appear to me very moderate; for who can wonder, that a good, mistaken man, who finds Calvin's everlasting, absolute, and unconditional reprobation in the mild oracles of the God of love, should find "forgery, vile slander, calumny, horrid perversions, deadly poison," &c., in my sharp Checks; and perpetual contradictions in Mr. Wesley's Works? Are we not treated with remarkable kindness, in comparison of the merciful God whom we serve? Undoubtedly: for neither of us is yet so much as indirectly charged with contriving, in cool blood, the murder of "one" man; much less with forming, from all eternity, the
Dr. Crisp's doctrine, when they nevertheless apologize for his person: I reply, that their apology confirms my assertion, even more than their arguments; for they say, "it is likely the Doctor meant, [just what Mr. Wesley does,] that we shall not work FOR life ONLY, without aiming at working FROM life ALSO. For it is not tolerable charity to suppose, that one would deliberately say, that salvation is not the end of any good work we do, or that we are not to work for life in the rigid sense of the words." And they profess their hopes, that, " upon consideration, he would presently unsay it, [namely, the absurd proposition, We are not to work FOR life,] being calmly reasoned with."
Thus hoped those pious divines concerning Dr. Crisp : And thus I once hoped also concerning his admirers. But, alas ! experience has damped my hope; for, when they have been "calmly reasoned with," they have shown themselves much more ready to unsay what they had said right, than what the Doctor had said wrong; and to this day they publicly defend those Antinomian dotages, which the authors of Flavel's Preface could not believe Dr. Crisp could possibly mean, even when he preached and wrote them.
You express, honoured Sir, a most extraordinary wish, p. 94. Speaking of FLAVEL's Discourse upon Mental Errors, which is also called A Blow at the Root, you say, "I should have been glad, could I have transcribed the whole discourse." But as you have not done it, I shall give a blow at the root of your system, by presenting you with an extract of the second Appendix, which is a pretty large treatise full against Antinomianism.
"The design of the following sheets," says that great Puritan divine, in the Discourse you should be
evangelical plan to save unconditionally by "free grace" the little flock of the elect, and damn unconditionally by "free wrath" the immense herd of the reprobates! and with spending near six thousand years in bringing about an irresistible decree, that the one shall abso lutely go to heaven, let them do what they please to be damned; and that the other shall absolutely go to hell, and burn there to all eternity, let them do what they can to be saved!
glad wholly to transcribe," is to free the grace of God from the dangerous errors, which fight against it under its own colours; to prevent the seduction of some that stagger; and to vindicate my own doctrine. The scripture, foreseeing there would arise such a sort of men in the church, as would wax wanton against Christ, and turn his grace into lasciviousness, has not only precautioned us in general to beware of such opinions, as corrupt the doctrine of free grace: 'Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid :' But has marked those very opinions by which it would be abused, and made abundant provision against them. As namely, (1.) All vilifying expressions of God's holy law, Rom. vii.-(2.) All opinions inclining men to the neglect of the duties of obedience, under pretence of free grace and liberty by Christ, James ii. Matt. xxv.-(3.) All opinions neglecting sanctification as the evidence of justification, which is the principal scope of St. John's first epistle.
"Notwithstanding such is the wickedness of some, and weakness of others, that in all ages, (especially in the last and present,) men have notoriously corrupted the doctrine of free grace, to the great reproach of Christ, scandal of the world, and hardening of the enemies of the Reformation. Behold, (says Contzen the Jesuit,) the fruit of Protestantism, and their gospel preaching.'
"The gospel makes sin more odious than the law did, and discovers the punishment of it in a more dreadful manner. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every disobedience received a just recompence of reward, how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation? It shows us our encourage-ments to holiness greater than ever; and yet corrupt nature will still abuse it. The more luscious the food is, the more men are apt to surfeit upon it.
"This perversion of free grace is justly chargeable both upon wicked and good men. WICKED MEN corrupt it designedly, that, by entitling God to their sins, they might sin the more quietly. So the Nicolaitans,