John Owen, A Vindication of some Passages in a Discourse concerning
Communion with God
    
    
    
    
A Vindication of some Passages in a Discourse concerning Communion
with God, from the Exceptions of William Sherlock, rector of St.
George, Botolph Lane
    
    
    
    
    
    
Prefatory Note.
    
    
    William Sherlock, father of Dr Thomas Sherlock, an eminent
bishop of London, was himself distinguished as an author, and
mingled deeply in the controversies of his day. His strictures on
Owen's work on Communion with God appeared in 1674, after that work
had been seventeen years before the public. It seems to have been
Sherlock's first appearance in authorship; and some of his
subsequent treatises such as those on Providence and on Death afford
a better specimen of his abilities. They are destitute of
evangelical principle and feeling, and imbued throughout with a
freezing rationalism of tone; but, nevertheless, contain some views
of the Divine administration, acutely conceived and ably stated. He
became rector of St George, Botolph Lane, received a prebend in St
Paul's, and was appointed Master of the Temple about 1684. His
conduct at the Revolution was not straightforward, and laid him open
to the reproaches of the Jacobites, who blamed him for deserting
their party. There was a controversy. of some importance between him
and Dr South. The latter, on the ground of some expressions in the
work by the former on the Trinity (1690), accused him of Tritheism.
Sherlock retorted by accusing his critic of Sabellianism. He died in
1707, at the acre of sixty-six.
    Sherlock's work against Owen was entitled, "A Discourse
concerning the Knowledge of Jesus Christ, and on Union and Communion
with Him," etc. Owen confines himself, in his reply, to an exposure
of the misrepresentations in which Sherlock had indulged. The
latter, for example, sought to fix on the Puritan divine the
doctrine, that the knowledge of divine things was to be obtained
from the person of Christ, apart from the truth as revealed in the
Scriptures. Our author successfully vindicates himself from this
charge, and repudiates other sentiments equally mystical, and
ascribed to him with equal injustice. The views of Sherlock, on the
points at issue, have been termed, "a confused mass of Socinianized
Arminianism." Owen evinces a strength of feeling, in some parts of
his "Vindication," which may be accounted for on the ground that he
resented the attack as part of a systematic effort made at this time
to destroy his standing and reputation as an author. In the main,
there is a dignity in his statements which contrasts well with the
wayward petulance of his antagonist; and occasionally the reader
will find a vein of quiet and skilful irony, in the way in which he
disposes of the crude views of Sherlock.
    Such was the beginning of the Communion Controversy, which soon
embraced a wider range of topics, and points of more importance,
than the merits of Owen's book. Besides the original disputants,
others entered the field. Robert Ferguson in 1675, wrote against
Sherlock a volume entitled, "The Interest of Reason in Religion,"
etc. Edward Polhill followed, in "An Answer to the Discourse of Mr
William Sherlock," etc. Vincent Alsop first displayed in this
controversy his powers of wit and acumen as an author, in his
"Antisozzo, or Sherlocismus Enervatus." Henry Hickman, a man of
considerable gifts, and pastor of an English congregation at Leaden,
wrote the "Speculum Sherlockianum," etc. Samuel Rolle, a
nonconformist, wrote the "Prodromus, or the Character of Mr
Sherlock's Books" and also, in the same controversy, "Justification
Justified." Thomas Danson, who had been ejected from Sibton, and
author of several works against the Quakers, wrote "The Friendly
Debate between Satan and Sherlock" and afterwards he published again
in defence of it. Sherlock, in 1675, replied to Owen and Ferguson in
his "Defence and Continuation of the Discourse concerning the
Knowledge of Jesus Christ." He was supported by Thomas Hotchkis,
Rector of Staunton, in a "Discourse concerning the Imputation of
Christ's Righteousness," etc. The singular diligence of Mr Orme has
compiled this full list of the works published in this controversy;
but he is not quite correct in affirming that it was closed by the
replies of Sherlock and Hotchkis in 1675. A second part of the work
by Hotchkis appeared in 1678, and Sherlock was the author of two
other works, "An Answer to Thomas Danson's scandalous pamphlet,
entitled 'A Friendly Conference,'" etc., which appeared in 1677, and
was followed by a "Vindication of Mr Sherlock against the Cavils of
Mr Danson." - ED.






A Vindication of some Passages in a Discourse concerning Communion
with God.


    
    It is now near twenty years since I wrote and published a
Discourse concerning Communion with God. Of what use and advantage
it has been to any, as to their furtherance in the design aimed at
therein, is left unto them to judge by whom it has been perused with
any candid diligence; and I do know that multitudes of persons
fearing God, and desiring to walk before him in sincerity, are
ready, if occasion require, to give testimony unto the benefit which
they have received thereby; - as I can also at any time produce the
testimonies of [as] learned and holy persons, it may be, as any I
know living, both in England and out of it, who, owning the truth
contained in it, have highly avowed its usefulness, and are ready
yet so to do. With all other persons, so far as ever I heard, it
passed at the rate of a tolerable acceptation with discourses of the
same kind and nature. And however any thing or passage in it might
not, possibly, suit the apprehensions of some, yet, being wholly
practical, designed for popular edification, without any direct
engagement into things controversial, I looked for no opposition
unto it or exception against it; but that it would at least be
suffered to pass at that rate of allowance which is universally
granted unto that sort of writings, both of ancient and modern
authors. Accordingly it so fell out, and continued for many years;
until some persons began to judge it their interest, and to make it
their business, to cavil at my writings, and to load my person with
reproaches. With what little success, as to their avowed designs,
they have laboured therein, - how openly their endeavours are sunk
into contempt with all sorts of persons pretending unto the least
sobriety or modesty, - I suppose they are not themselves altogether
insensible. Among the things which this sort of men sought to make
an advantage of against me, I found that two or three of them began
to reflect on that discourse; though it appeared they had not
satisfied themselves what as yet to fix upon, their nibbling cavils
being exceedingly ridiculous.
    But yet, from those intimations of some men's good-will towards
it, - sufficient to provoke the industry of such as either needed
their assistance or valued their favour, - I was in expectation that
one or other would possess that province, and attempt the whole
discourse or some parts of it. Nor was I dissatisfied in my
apprehensions of that design; for, being earnestly solicited to
suffer it to be reprinted, I was very willing to see what either
could or would be objected against it before it received another
impression. For whereas it was written now near twenty years ago,
when there was the deepest peace in the minds of all men about the
things treated of therein, and when I had no apprehension of any
dissent from the principal design, scope, and parts of it by any
called Christians in the world, the Socinians only excepted (whom I
had therein no regard unto), I thought it highly probable that some
things might have been so expressed as to render a review and
amendment to them more than ordinarily necessary. And I reckoned it
not improbable, but that from one malevolent adversary I might
receive a more instructive information of such escapes of diligence
than I could do in so long a time from all the more impartial
readers of it; for as unto the substance of the doctrine declared in
it, I was sufficiently secure, not only of its truth, but that it
would immovably endure the rudest assaults of such oppositions as I
did expect. I was therefore very well satisfied when I heard of the
publishing of this treatise of Mr Sherlock's, - which, as I was
informed, and since have found true, was principally intended
against myself, and that discourse (that is, that book), because I
was the author of it, which will at last prove it to be its only
guilt and crime; - for I thought I should be at once now satisfied,
both what it was which was so long contriving against it (whereof I
could give no conjecture), as also be directed unto any such
mistakes as might have befallen me in matter or manner of
expression, which I would or might rectify before the book received
another edition. But, upon a view and perusal of this discourse, I
found myself under a double surprisal. For, first, in reference to
my own, I could not find any thing, any doctrine, any expressions,
any words reflected on, which the exceptions of this man do give me
the least occasion to alter, or to desire that they had been
otherwise either expressed or delivered; - not any thing which now,
after near twenty years, I do not still equally approve of, and
which I am not yet ready to justify. The other part of my surprisal
was somewhat particular, though, in truth, it ought to have been
none at all; and this was with respect unto those doctrinal
principles which he manageth his oppositions upon. A surprisal they
were unto me, because wild, uncouth, extravagant, and contrary to
the common faith of Christians, - being all of them traduced, and
some of them transcribed, from the writings of the Socinians;
[while] yet [they] ought not to have been so, because I was assured
that an opposition unto that discourse could be managed on no other
[ground]. But, however, the doctrine maintained by this man, and
those opposed or scorned by him, are not my special concernment; for
what is it to me what the Rector of etc., preacheth or publisheth,
beyond my common interest in the truths of the gospel, with other
men as great strangers unto him as myself, who to my knowledge never
saw him, nor heard of his name till infamed by his book? Only, I
shall take leave to say, that the doctrine here published, and
licensed so to be, is either the doctrine of the present church of
England, or it is not. If it be so, I shall be forced to declare
that I neither have, nor will have, any communion therein; and that,
as for other reasons, so in particular, because I will not renounce
or depart from that which I know to be the true, ancient, and
catholic doctrine of this church. If it be not so, - as I am
assured, with respect unto many bishops and other learned men, that
it is not, - it is certainly the concernment of them who preside
therein to take care that such kind of discourses be not
countenanced with the stamp of their public authority, lest they and
the church be represented unto a great disadvantage with many.
    It was some months after the publishing of this discourse,
before I entertained any thoughts of taking the least notice of it,
- yea, I was resolved to the contrary, and declared those
resolutions as I had occasion; neither was it until very lately that
my second thoughts came to a compliance with the desires of some
others, to consider my own peculiar concernment therein. And this is
all which I now design; for the examination of the opinions which
this author has vented under the countenance of public license,
whatever they may think, I know to be more the concernment of other
men than mine. Nor yet do I enter into the consideration of what is
written by this author with the least respect unto myself, or my own
reputation, which I have the satisfaction to conceive not to be
prejudiced by such pitiful attempts; nor have I the least desire to
preserve it in the minds of such persons as wherein it can suffer on
this occasion. But the vindication of some sacred truths, petulantly
traduced by this author, seems to be cast on me in an especial
manner; because he has opposed them, and endeavoured to expose them
to scorn, as declared in my book; whence others, more meet for this
work, might think themselves discharged from taking notice of them.
Setting aside this consideration, I can freely give this sort of men
leave to go on with their revilings and scoffings until they are
weary or ashamed; which, as far as I can discern, upon consideration
of their ability for such a work, and their confidence therein, is
not like to be in haste; - at least, they can change their course,
and when they are out of breath in pursuit of one sort of calumnies,
retake themselves unto another. Witness the late malicious, and yet
withal ridiculous, reports that they have divulged concerning me,
even with respect unto civil affairs, and their industry therein;
for although they were such as had not any thing of the least
probability or likelihood to give them countenance, yet were they so
impetuously divulged, and so readily entertained by many, as made me
think there was more than the common artifices of calumny employed
in their raising and improvement, especially considering what
persons I can justly charge those reports upon. But in this course
they may proceed whilst they please and think convenient: I find
myself no more concerned in what they write or say of this nature
than if it were no more but, -
               epei ete kakoi out' afroni foti eoikas.
         Oule te, kai mega chaire, Theoi de toi oltia doien.
    It is the doctrine traduced only that I am concerned about, and
that as it has been the doctrine of the church of England.
    It may be it will be said (for there is no security against
confidence and immodesty, backed with secular advantages), that the
doctrinal principles asserted in this book are agreeable with the
doctrine of the church in former times; and therefore those opposed
in it, such as are condemned thereby. Hereabout I shall make no long
contest with them who once discover that their minds are by any
means emboldened to undertake the defence of such shameless
untruths; nor shall I multiply testimonies to prove the contrary,
which others are more concerned to do, if they intend not to betray
the religion of that church with whose preservation and defence they
are intrusted. Only, because there are ancient divines of this
church, who, I am persuaded, will be allowed with the most to have
known as well the doctrine of it, and as firmly to have adhered
thereunto, as this author, who have particularly spoken unto most of
the things which he has opposed, or rather reproached, I shall
transcribe the words of one of them, whereby he, and those who
employ him, may be minded with whom they have to do in those things.
For, as to the writers of the ancient church, there is herein no
regard had unto them. He whom I shall name is Mr. Hooker, and that
in his famous book of "Ecclesiastical Polity;" who, in the fifth
book thereof, and 56th paragraph, thus discourseth: -
    "We have hitherto spoken of the person and of the presence of
Christ. Participation is that mutual inward hold which Christ has of
us, and we of him, in such sort that each possesses other by way of
special interest, property, and inherent copulation." And after the
interposition of some things conceding the mutual in-being and love
of the Father and the Son, he thus proceedeth: - "We are by nature
the sons of Adam. When God created Adam, he created us; and as many
as are descended from Adam have in themselves the root out of which
they spring. The sons of God we neither are all nor any one of us,
otherwise than only by grace and favour. The sons of God have God's
own natural Son as a second Adam from heaven; whose race and progeny
they are by spiritual and heavenly birth. God therefore loving
eternally his Son, he must needs eternally in him have loved, and
preferred before all others, them which are spiritually since
descended and sprung out of him. These were in God as in their
Saviour, and not as in their Creator only. It was the purpose of his
saving goodness, his saving wisdom, and his saving power, which
inclined itself towards them. They which thus were in God eternally
by their intended admission to life, have, by vocation or adoption,
God actually now in them, as the artifices is in the work which his
hand does presently frame. Life, as all other gifts and benefits,
grows originally from the Father, and comes not to us but by the
Son, nor by the Son to any of us in particular, but through the
Spirit. For this cause the apostle wisheth to the church of Corinth,
'the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the
fellowship of the holy Ghost;' which three St Peter comprehendeth in
one, - the participation of the divine nature. We are, therefore, in
God through Christ eternally, according to that intent and purpose
whereby we are chosen to be made his in this present world before
the world itself was made. We are in God through the knowledge which
is had of us, and the love which is borne towards us from
everlasting; but in God we actually are no longer than only from the
time of our actual adoption into the body of his true church, into
the fellowship of his children. For his church he knoweth and
loveth; so that they which are in the church are thereby known to be
in him. Our being in Christ by eternal foreknowledge saveth us not,
without our actual and real adoption into the fellowship of his
saints in this present world. For in him we actually are by our
actual incorporation into that society which has him for their head,
and does make together with him one body (he and they in that
respect having one name); for which cause, by virtue of this
mystical conjunction, we are of him, and in him, even as though our
very flesh and bones should be made continuate with his. We are in
Christ, because he knoweth and loveth us, even as parts of himself.
No man is actually in him but they in whom he actually is; for he
which has not the Son of God has not life. 'I am the vine, ye are
the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth
forth much fruit;' but the branch severed from the vine withereth.
We are, therefore, adopted sons of God to eternal life by
participation of the only begotten Son of God, whose life is the
well-spring and cause of ours. It is too cold an interpretation,
whereby some men expound our being in Christ to import nothing else
but only that the self-same nature which maketh us to be men is in
him, and maketh him man as we are. For what man in the world is
there which has not so far forth communion with Jesus Christ? It is
not this that can sustain the weight of such sentences as speak of
the mystery of our coherence with Jesus Christ. The church is in
Christ, as Eve was in Adam. Yea, by grace we are every [one] of us
in Christ and in his church, as by nature we were in those, our
first parents. God made Eve of the rib of Adam; and his church he
frameth out of the very flesh, the very wounded and bleeding side,
of the Son of man. His body crucified, and his blood shed for the
life of the world, are the true elements of that heavenly being
which maketh us such as himself is of whom we come. For which cause
the words of Adam may be fitly the words of Christ concerning his
church, 'Flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bones;' - 'A true nature,
extract out of mine own body.' So that in him, even according to his
manhood, we, according to our heavenly being, are as branches in
that root out of which they grow. To all things he is life, and to
men light, as the Son of God; to the church, both life and light
eternal, by being made the Son of man for us, and by being in us a
Saviour, whether we respect him as God or as man. Adam is in us as
an original cause of our nature, and of that corruption of nature
which causeth death; Christ as the cause original of restoration to
life. The person of Adam is not in us, but his nature, and the
corruption of his nature, derived into all men by propagation.
Christ having Adam's nature, as we have, but incorrupt, deriveth not
nature but incorruption, and that immediately from his own person,
into all that belong unto him. As, therefore, we are really
partakers of the body of sin and death received from Adam; so,
except we be truly partakers of Christ, and as really possessed of
his Spirit, all we speak of eternal life is but a dream. That which
quickeneth us is the Spirit of the second Adam, and his flesh that
wherewith he quickeneth. That which in him made our nature incorrupt
was the union of his Deity with our nature. And in that respect the
sentence of death and condemnation, which only taketh hold upon
sinful flesh, could no way possibly extend unto him. This caused his
voluntary death for others to prevail with God, and to have the
force of an expiatory sacrifice. The blood of Christ, as the apostle
witnesseth, does, therefore, take away sin; because, 'Through the
eternal Spirit he offered himself unto God without spot.' That which
sanctified our nature in Christ, - that which made it a sacrifice
available to take away sin, is the same which quickened it, raised
it out of the grave after death, and exalted it unto glory. Seeing,
therefore, that Christ is in us a quickening Spirit, the first
degree of communion with Christ must needs consist in the
participation of his Spirit, which Cyprian in that respect terms
'germanissimam societatem,' - the highest and truest society that
can be between man and him, which is both God and man in one. These
things St Cyril duly considering, reproveth their speeches which
taught that only the Deity of Christ is the vine whereupon we by
faith do depend as branches, and that neither his flesh nor our
bodies are comprised in this resemblance. For does any man doubt but
that even from the flesh of Christ our very bodies do receive that
life which shall make them glorious at the latter day; and for which
they are already accounted parts of his blessed body? Our
corruptible bodies could never live the life they shall live, were
it not that here they are joined with his body, which is
incorruptible; and that his is in ours as a cause of immortality, -
a cause, by removing, through the death and merit of his own flesh,
that which hindered the life of ours. Christ is, therefore, both as
God and as man, that true vine whereof we both spiritually and
corporally are branches. The mixture of his bodily substance with
ours is a thing which the ancient fathers disclaim. Yet the mixture
of his flesh with ours they speak of, to signify what our very
bodies, through mystical conjunction, receive from that vital
efficacy which we know to be in his; and from bodily mixtures they
borrow divers similitudes, rather to declare the truth than the
manner of coherence between his sacred [body] and the sanctified
bodies of saints. Thus much no Christian man will deny, that when
Christ sanctified his own flesh, giving as God, and taking as man,
the Holy Ghost, he did not this for himself only, but for our sakes,
that the grace of sanctification and life, which was first received
in him, might pass from him to his whole race, as malediction came
from Adam into all mankind. Howbeit, because the work of his Spirit
to those effects is in us prevented by sin and death possessing us
before, it is of necessity that as well our present sanctification
into newness of life, as the future restoration of our bodies,
should presuppose a participation of the grace, efficacy, merit, or
virtue of his body and blood; - without which foundation first laid,
there is no place for those other operations of the Spirit of Christ
to ensue. So that Christ imparteth plainly himself by degrees. It
pleaseth him, in mercy, to account himself incomplete and maimed
without us. But most assured we are, that we all receive of his
fulness, because he is in us as a moving and working cause; from
which many blessed effects are really found to ensue, and that in
sundry both kinds and degrees, all tending to eternal happiness. It
must be confessed, that of Christ working as a creator and a
governor of the world, by providence all are partakers; - not all
partakers of that grace whereby he inhabiteth whom he saveth. Again:
as he dwelleth not by grace in all, so neither does he equally work
in all them in whom he dwelleth. 'Whence is it,' saith St Augustine,
'that some be holier than others are, but because God does dwell in
some more plentifully than in others?' And because the divine
substance of Christ is equally in all, his human substance equally
distant from all, it appeareth that the participation of Christ,
wherein there are many degrees and differences, must needs consist
in such effects as, being derived from both natures of Christ really
into us, are made our own: and we, by having them in us, are truly
said to have him from whom they come; Christ also, more or less, to
inhabit and impart himself, as the graces are fewer or more, greater
or smaller, which really flow into us from Christ. Christ is whole
with the whole church, and whole with every part of the church, as
touching his person, which can no way divide itself, or be possessed
by degrees and portions. But the participation of Christ importeth,
besides the presence of Christ's person, and besides the mystical
copulation thereof with the parts and members of his whole church, a
true actual influence of grace, whereby the life which we live
according to godliness is his; and from him we receive those
perfections wherein our eternal happiness consisteth. Thus we
participate Christ: - partly by imputation; as when those things
which he did and suffered for us are imputed unto us for
righteousness; partly by habitual and real infusion; as when grace
is inwardly bestowed while we are on earth; - and afterward more
fully, both our souls and bodies made like unto his in glory. The
first thing of his so infused into our hearts in this life is the
Spirit of Christ; whereupon, because the rest, of what kind soever,
do all both necessarily depend and infallibly also ensue, therefore
the apostles term it sometimes the seed of God, sometimes the pledge
of our heavenly inheritance, sometimes the hansel or earnest of that
which is to come. From whence it is that they which belong to the
mystical body of our Saviour Christ, and be in number as the stars
of heaven, - divided successively, by reason of their mortal
condition, into many generations, - are, notwithstanding, coupled
every one to Christ their head, and all unto every particular person
amongst themselves; inasmuch as the same Spirit which anointed the
blessed soul of our Saviour Christ does so formalise, unite, and
actuate his whole race, as if both he and they were so many limbs
compacted into one body, by being quickened all with one and the
same soul. That wherein we are partakers of Jesus Christ by
imputation, agreeth aqua]ly unto all what have it; for it consisteth
in such acts and deeds of his as could not have longer continuance
than while they were in doings nor at that very time belong unto any
other but to him from whom they come: and therefore, how men, either
then, or before, or since, should be made partakers of them, there
can be no way imagined but only by imputation. Again: a deed must
either not be imputed to any, but rest altogether in him whose it
is; or, if at all it be imputed, they which have it by imputation
must have it such as it is, - whole. So that degrees being neither
in the personal presence of Christ, nor in the participation of
those effects which are ours by imputation only, it resteth that we
wholly apply them to the participation of Christ's infused grace;
although, even in this kind also, the first beginning of life, the
seed of God, the first-fruits of Christ's Spirit, be without
latitude. For we have hereby only the being of the sons of God: in
which number, how far soever one may seem to excel another, yet
touching this, that all are sons, they are all equals; some,
happily, better sons than the rest are, but none any more a son than
another. Thus, therefore, we see how the Father is in the Son, and
the Son in the Father; how they both are in all things, and all
things in them: what communion Christ has with his church; how his
church, and every member thereof, is in him by original derivation,
and he personal]y in them, by way of mystical association, wrought
through the gift of the holy Ghost; which they that are his receive
from him, and, together with the same, what benefit soever the vital
force of his body and blood may yield; - yea, by steps and degrees
they receive the complete measure of all such divine grace as does
sanctify and save throughout, till the day of their final exaltation
to a state of fellowship in glory with him, whose partakers they are
now in those things that tend to glory."
    This one testimony ought to be enough unto this sort of men,
whilst they are at any consistency with their own reputation: for it
is evident that there is nothing concerning personal election,
effectual vocation, justification by the imputation of the
righteousness of Christ, participation of him, union of believers
unto and with his person, derivation of grace from him, etc., which
are so reproached by our present author, but they are asserted by
this great champion of the church of England, who undoubtedly knew
the doctrine which it owned, and in his days approved, and that in
such words and expressions, as remote from the sentiments, or at
least as unsavoury to the palates, of these men, as any they except
against in others.
    And what themselves so severely charge on us in point of
discipline, that nothing be spoken about it until all is answered
that is written by Mr Hooker in its defence, may, I hope, not
immodestly be so far returned, as to desire them that in point of
doctrine they will grant us truce, until they have moved out of the
way what is written to the same purpose by Mr Hooker. Why do not
they speak to him to leave fooling, and to speak sense, as they do
to others? But let these things be as they are; I have no especial
concernment in them, nor shall take any farther notice of them, but
only as they influence the exceptions which this author makes unto
some passages in that book of mine. And in what I shall do herein, I
shall take as little notice as may be of those scurrilous and
reproachful expressions, which either his inclination or his
circumstances induced him to make use of. If he be pleased with such
a course of procedure, I can only assure him, that as to my
concernment, I am not displeased; and so he is left unto his full
liberty for the future.
    The first thing he quarrels about, is my asserting the
necessity of acquaintance with the person of Christ; which
expression he frequently makes use of afterward in a way of
reproach. The use of the word "acquaintance," in this matter, is
warranted by our translation of the Scripture, and that properly,
where it is required of us to acquaint ourselves with God. And that
I intended nothing thereby but the knowledge of Jesus Christ, is
evident beyond any pretence to the contrary to be suggested by the
most subtle or inventive malice. The crime, therefore, wherewith I
am here charged, is my assertion that it is necessary that
Christians should know Jesus Christ; which I have afterward
increased, by affirming also that they ought to love him: for by
Jesus Christ all the world of Christians intend the person of
Christ; and the most of them, all of them, - the Socinians only
excepted, - by his person, "the Word made flesh," or the Son of God
incarnate, the mediator between God and man. For because the name
Christ is sometimes used metonymically, to conclude thence that
Jesus Christ is not Jesus Christ, or that it is not the person of
Christ that is firstly and properly intended by that name in the
gospel, is a lewd and impious imagination; and we may as well make
Christ to be only a light within us, as to be the doctrine of the
gospel without us. This knowledge of Jesus Christ I aver to be the
only fountain of all saving knowledge: which is farther reflected on
by this author; and he adds (no doubt out of respect unto me), "that
he will not envy the glory of this discovery unto its author;" and
therefore honestly confesseth that he met with it in my book. But
what does he intend? Whither will prejudice and corrupt designs
carry and transport the minds of men? Is it possible that he should
be ignorant that it is the duty of all Christians to know Jesus
Christ, to be acquainted with the person of Christ, and that this is
the fountain of all saving knowledge, until he met with it in my
book about communion with God; which I dare say he looked not into,
but only to find what he might except against? It is the Holy Ghost
himself that is the author of this discovery; and it is the great
fundamental principle of the gospel. Wherefore, surely, this cannot
be the man's intention; and therefore we must look a little farther,
to see what it is that he aimeth at. After, then, the repetition of
some words of mine, he adds, as his sense upon them, p. 39, "So that
it seems the gospel of Christ makes a very imperfect and obscure
discovery of the nature, attributes, and the will of God, and the
methods of our recovery. We may thoroughly understand whatever is
revealed in the gospel, and yet not have a clear and saving
knowledge of these things, until we get a more intimate acquaintance
with the person of Christ." And again, p. 40: "I shall show you what
additions these men make to the gospel of Christ by an acquaintance
with his person; and I confess I am very much beholden to this
author, for acknowledging whence they fetch all their orthodox and
gospel mysteries, for I had almost pored my eyes out with seeking
for them in the gospel, but could never find them; but I learn now,
that indeed they are not to be found there, unless we be first
acquainted with the person of Christ." So far as I can gather up the
sense of these loose expressions, it is, that I assert a knowledge
of the person of Jesus Christ which is not revealed in the gospel,
which is not taught us in the writings of Moses, the prophets, or
apostles, but must be had some other way. He tells me afterward, p.
41, that I put in a word fallaciously, which expresseth the
contrary; as though I intended another knowledge of Christ than what
is declared in the gospel. Now, he either thought that this was not
my design or intention, but would make use of a pretence of it for
his advantage unto an end aimed at (which what it was I know well
enough); or he thought, indeed, that I did assert and maintain such
a knowledge of the person of Christ as was not received by Scripture
revelation. If it was the first, we have an instance of that new
morality which these new doctrines are accompanied withal; if the
latter, he discovers how meet a person he is to treat of things of
this nature. Wherefore, to prevent such scandalous miscarriages, or
futilous imaginations for the future, I here tell him, that if he
can find in that book, or any other of my writings, any expression,
or word, or syllable, intimating any knowledge of Christ, or any
acquaintance with the person of Christ, but what is revealed and
declared in the gospel, in the writings of Moses, the prophets, and
apostles, and as it is so revealed and declared, and learned from
thence, I will publicly burn that book with my own hands, to give
him and all the world satisfaction. Nay, I say more: if an angel
from heaven pretend to give any other knowledge of the person of
Christ, but what is revealed in the gospel, let him be accursed. And
here I leave this author to consider with himself, what was the true
occasion why he should first thus represent himself unto the world
in print, by the avowing of so unworthy and notorious a calumny.
    Whereas, therefore, by an acquaintance with the person of
Christ, it is undeniably evident that I intended nothing but that
knowledge of Christ which it is the duty of every Christian to
labour after, - no other but what is revealed, declared, and
delivered in the Scripture, as almost every page of my book does
manifest where I treat of these things; I do here again, with the
good leave of this author, assert, that this knowledge of Christ is
very necessary unto Christians, and the fountain of all saving
knowledge whatever. And as he may, if he please, review the honesty
and truth of that passage, p. 38, "So that our acquaintance with
Christ's person, in this man's divinity, signifies such a knowledge
of what Christ is, has done, and suffered for us, from whence we may
learn those greater, deeper, and more saving mysteries of the
gospel, which Christ has not expressly revealed to us;" so I will
not so far suspect the Christianity of them with whom we have to do,
as to think it necessary to confirm by texts of Scripture either of
these assertions; which whoever denies is an open apostate from the
gospel.
    Having laid this foundation in an equal mixture of that truth
and sobriety wherewith sundry late writings of this nature and to
the same purpose have been stuffed, he proceeds to declare what
desperate consequences ensue upon the necessity of that knowledge of
Jesus Christ which I have asserted, addressing himself thereunto, p.
40.
    Many instances of such dealings will make me apt to think that
some men, whatever they pretend to the contrary, have but little
knowledge of Jesus Christ indeed. But whatever this man thinks of
him, an account must one day be given before and unto him of such
false calumnies as his lines are stuffed withal. Those who will
believe him, that he has almost "pored out his eyes" in reading the
gospel, with a design to find out mysteries that are not in it, are
left by me to their liberty; only I cannot but say, that his way of
expressing the study of the Scripture, is [not?] such as becometh a
man of his wisdom, gravity, and principles. He will, I hope, one day
be better acquainted with what belongs unto the due investigation of
sacred truth in the Scripture, than to suppose it represented by
such childish expressions. What he has learned from me I know not;
but that I have anywhere taught that there are mysteries of religion
that are not to be found in the gospel, unless we are first
acquainted with the person of Christ, is a frontless and impudent
falsehood. I own no other, never taught other knowledge of Christ,
or acquaintance with his person, but what is revealed and declared
in the gospel; and therefore, no mysteries of religion can be thence
known and received, before we are acquainted with the gospel itself.
Yet I will mind this author of that, whereof if he be ignorant, he
is unfit to be a teacher of others, and which if he deny, he is
unworthy the name of a Christian, - namely, that by the knowledge of
the person of Christ, the great mystery of God manifest in the
flesh, as revealed and declared in the gospel, we are led into a
clear and full understanding of many other mysteries of grace and
truth; which are all centred in his person, and without which we can
have no true nor sound understanding of them. I shall speak it yet
again, that this author, if it be possible, may understand it; or,
however, that he and his co-partners in design may know that I
neither am nor ever will be ashamed of it: - that without the
knowledge of the person of Christ, which is our acquaintance with
him (as we are commanded to acquaint ourselves with God) as he is
the eternal Son of God incarnate, the mediator between God and man,
with the mystery of the love, grace, and truth of God therein, as
revealed and declared in the Scripture, there is no true, useful,
saving knowledge of any other mysteries or truths of the gospel to
be attained. This being the substance of what is asserted in my
discourse, I challenge this man, or any to whose pleasure and favour
his endeavours in this kind are sacrificed, to assert and maintain
the contrary, if so be they are indeed armed with such a confidence
as to impugn the foundations of Christianity.
    But to evince his intention, he transcribeth the ensuing
passages out of my discourse: - P. 41, "The sum of all true wisdom
and knowledge may be reduced to these three heads: - 1. The
knowledge of God; his nature and properties. 2. The knowledge of
ourselves with reference to the will of God concerning us. 3. Skill
to walk in communion with God. In these three is summed up all true
wisdom and knowledge, and not any of them is to any purpose to be
obtained, or is manifested, but only in and by the Lord Christ."
    This whole passage I am far from disliking, upon this
representation of it, or any expression in it. Those who are not
pleased with this distribution of spiritual wisdom, may make use of
any such of their own wherewith they are better satisfied. This of
mine was sufficient unto my purpose. Hereon this censure is passed
by him: - "Where by is fallaciously added to include the revelations
Christ has made; whereas his first undertaking was, to show how
impossible it is to understand these things savingly and clearly,
notwithstanding all those revelations God has made of himself and
his will by Moses and the prophets, and by Christ himself, without
an acquaintance with his person." The fallacy pretended is merely of
his own coining; my words are plain, and suited unto my own purpose,
and to declare my mind in what I intend; which he openly corrupting,
or not at all understanding, frames an end never thought of by me,
and then feigns fallacious means of attaining it. The knowledge I
mean is to be learned by Christ; neither is any thing to be learned
in him but what is learned by him. I do say, indeed, now, whatever I
have said before, that it is impossible to understand any sacred
truth savingly and clearly, without the knowledge of the person of
Christ; and shall say so still, let this man and his companions say
what they will to the contrary: but that in my so saying I exclude
the consideration of the revelations which Christ has made, or that
God has made of himself by Moses and the prophets, and Christ
himself, the principal whereof concern his person, and whence alone
we come to know him, is an assertion becoming the modesty and
ingenuity of this author. But hereon he proceeds, and says, that as
to the first head he will take notice of those peculiar discoveries
of the nature of God of which the world was ignorant before, and of
which revelation is wholly silent, but are now clearly and savingly
learned from an acquaintance with Christ's person. But what, in the
meantime, is become of modesty, truth, and honesty? Do men reckon
that there is no account to be given of such falsifications? Is
there any one word or little in my discourse of any such knowledge
of the nature or properties of God as whereof revelation is wholly
silent? What does this man intend? Does he either not at all
understand what I say; or does he not care what he says himself?
What have I done to him? wherein have I injured him? how have I
provoked him, that he should sacrifice his conscience and reputation
unto such a revenge? Must he yet hear it again? I never thought, I
never owned, I never wrote, that there was any acquaintance to be
obtained with any property of the nature of God by the knowledge of
the person of Christ, but what is taught and revealed in the gospel;
from whence alone all knowledge of Christ, his person, and his
doctrine, is to be learned. And yet I will say again, if we learn
not thence to know the Lord Christ, - that is, his person, - we
shall never know any thing of God, ourselves, or our duty, clearly
and savingly (I use the words again, notwithstanding the reflections
on them, as more proper in this matter than any used by our author
in his eloquent discourse), and as we ought to do. From hence he
proceeds unto weak and confused discourses about the knowledge of
God and his properties without any knowledge of Christ; for he not
only tells us "what reason we had to believe such and such things of
God, if Christ had never appeared in the world," (take care, I pray,
that we be thought as little beholden to him as may be), "but that
God's readiness to pardon, and the like, are plainly revealed in the
Scripture, without any farther acquaintance with the person of
Christ," p. 43. What this farther acquaintance with the person of
Christ should mean, I do not well understand: it may be, any more
acquaintance with respect unto some that is necessary; - it may be,
without any more ado as to an acquaintance with him. And if this be
his intention, - as it must be, if there be sense in his words, -
that God's readiness to pardon sinners is revealed in the Scripture
without respect unto the person of Jesus Christ, it is a piece of
dull Socinianism; which, because I have sufficiently confuted else
where, I shall not here farther discover the folly of. [As] for a
knowledge of God's essential properties by the light of nature, it
was never denied by me; yea, I have written and contended for it in
another way than can be impeached by such trifling declamations. But
yet, with his good leave, I do believe that there is no saving
knowledge of, or acquaintance with God or his properties, to be
attained, but in and through Jesus Christ, as revealed unto us in
the gospel. And this I can confirm with testimonies of the
Scripture, fathers, schoolmen, and divines of all sorts, with
reasons and arguments, such as I know this author cannot answer. And
whatever great apprehensions he may have of his skill and abilities
to know God and his properties by the light of nature, now that he
neither knows nor is able to distinguish what he learns from thence,
and what he has imbibed in his education from an emanation of divine
revelation; yet I believe there were as wise men as himself amongst
those ancient philosophers, concerning whom and their inquiries into
the nature of God our apostle pronounces those censures, Rom. 1; 1
Cor. 1.
    But on this goodly foundation he proceeds unto a particular
inference, p. 44, saying, "And is not this a confident man, to tell
us that the love of God to sinners, and his pardoning mercy, could
never have entered into the heart of man but by Christ, when the
experience of the whole world confutes him? For, whatever becomes of
his new theories, both Jews and heathens, who understood nothing at
all of what Christ was to do in order to our recovery, did believe
God to be gracious and merciful to sinners, and had reason to do so;
because God himself had assured the Jews that he was a gracious and
merciful God, pardoning iniquity, transgressions, and sins. And
those natural notions heathens had of God, and all those discoveries
God had made of himself in the works of creation and providence, did
assure them that God is very good: and it is not possible to
understand what goodness is, without pardoning grace."
    I beg his excuse: truth and good company will give a modest man
a little confidence sometimes; and against his experience of the
whole world, falsely pretended, I can oppose the testimonies of the
Scripture, and all the ancient writers of the church, very few
excepted. We can know of God only what he has, one way or other,
revealed of himself, and nothing else; and I say again, that God has
not revealed his love unto sinners, and his pardoning mercy, any
other way but in and by Jesus Christ. For what he adds as to the
knowledge which the Jews had of these things by God's revelation in
the Scripture, when he can prove that all those revelations, or any
of them, had not respect unto the promised seed, - the Son of God, -
to be exhibited in the flesh to destroy the works of the devil, he
will speak somewhat unto his purpose. In the meantime, this
insertion of the consideration of them who enjoyed that revelation
of Christ which God was pleased to build his church upon under the
Old Testament, is weak and impertinent. Their apprehensions, I
acknowledge, concerning the person of Christ, and the speciality of
the work of his mediation, were dark and obscure; but so, also,
proportionally was their knowledge of all other sacred truths, which
yet with all diligence they inquired into. That which I intended is
expressed by the apostle, 1 Cor. 2: 9,10, "It is written, Eye has
not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man,
the things which God has prepared for them that love him. But God
has revealed them unto us by his Spirit." What a confident man was
this apostle, as to affirm that the things of the grace and mercy of
God did never enter into the heart of man to conceive, nor would so
have done, had they not been revealed by the Spirit of God in the
gospel through Jesus Christ!
    But this is only a transient charge. There ensues that which is
much more severe, p. 45; as, for instance, "He tells us, 'that in
Christ' (that is, in his death and sufferings for our sins) 'God has
manifested the naturalness of this righteousness' (that is,
vindictive justice in punishing sin), 'that it was impossible that
it should be diverted from sinners without the interposing of a
propitiation; that is, that God is so just and righteous, that he
cannot pardon sin without satisfaction to his justice.' Now, this
indeed is such a notion of justice as is perfectly new, which
neither Scripture nor nature acquaints us with; for all mankind have
accounted it an act of goodness, without the least suspicion of
injustice in it, to remit injuries and offences without exacting any
punishment, - that he is so far from being just, that he is cruel
and savage, who will remit no offence till he has satisfied his
revenge." The reader who is in any measure or degree acquainted with
these things, knows full well what is intended by that which I have
asserted. It is no more but this, - that such is the essential
holiness and righteousness of the nature of God, that, considering
him as the supreme governor and ruler of all mankind, it was
inconsistent with the holiness and rectitude of his rule, and the
glory of his government, to pass by sin absolutely, or to pardon it
without satisfaction, propitiation, or atonement. This, I said, was
made evident in the death and sufferings of Christ, wherein God made
all our iniquities to meet upon him, and spared him not, that we
might obtain mercy and grace. This is here now called out by our
author as a very dangerous or foolish passage in my discourse, which
he thought he might highly advantage his reputation by reflecting
upon. But as the orator said to his adversary, "Equidem vehementer
laetor sum esse me, in quem to cum cuperes, nullam contumeliam
jacere potueris, quae non ad maximam partem civium convenerit," - so
it is here fallen out. If this man knows not that this is the
judgement of the generality of the most learned divines of Europe
upon the matter, of all who have engaged with any success against
the Socinians, one or two only excepted, I can pity him, but not
relieve him in his unhappiness, unless he will be pleased to take
more pains in reading good books than as yet he appeareth to have
done. But for the thing itself, and his reflections upon it, I shall
observe yet some few things, and so pass on; - as first, the
opposition that he makes unto my position is nothing but a crude
assertion of one of the meanest and most absurd sophisms which the
Socinians use in this cause, - namely, that everyone may remit
injuries and offences as he pleaseth, without exacting any
punishment: which, as it is true in most cases of injuries and
offences against private persons, wherein no others are concerned
but themselves, nor are they obliged by any law of the community to
pursue their own right; so, with respect unto public rulers of the
community, and unto such injuries and offences as are done against
supreme rule, tending directly unto the dissolution of the society
centring in it, to suppose that such rulers are not obliged to
inflict those punishments which justice and the preservation of the
community does require, is a fond and ridiculous imagination, -
destructive, if pursued, unto all human society, and rendering
government a useless thing in the world. Therefore, what this author
(who seems to understand very little of these things) adds, "that
governors may spare or punish as they see reason for it;" if the
rule of that reason and judgement be not that justice which respects
the good and benefit of the society or community, they do amiss, and
sin, in sparing and punishing: which I suppose he will not ascribe
unto the government of God. But I have fully debated these things in
sundry writings against the Socinians; so that I will not again
enlarge upon them without a more important occasion. It is not
improbable but he knows where to find those discourses; and he may,
when he please, exercise his skill upon them. Again: I cannot but
remark upon the consequences that he chargeth this position withal;
and yet I cannot do it without begging pardon for repeating such
horrid and desperate blasphemies. P. 46, "The account," saith he,
"of this is very plain; because the justice of God has glutted
itself with revenge on sin in the death of Christ, and so hence
forward we may be sure he will be very kind, as a revengeful man is
when his passion is over." P. 47, "The sum of which is, that God is
all love and patience when he has taken his fill of revenge; as
others use to say that the devil is very good when he is pleased."
P. 59, "The justice and vengeance of God, having their acting
assigned them to the full, being glutted and satiated with the blood
of Christ, God may," etc. I desire the reader to remember that the
supposition whereon all these inferences are built, is only that of
the necessity of the satisfaction of Christ with respect unto the
holiness and righteousness of God as the author of the law, and the
supreme governor of mankind. And is this language becoming a son of
the church of England? Might it not be more justly expected from a
Jew or a Mohammedan, - from Servetus or Socinus, from whom it is
borrowed, - than from a son of this church, in a book published by
license and authority? But it is to no purpose to complain: those
who are pleased with these things, let them be so. But what if,
after all, these impious, blasphemous consequences do follow as much
upon this author's opinion as upon mine, and that with a greater
show of probability? and what if, forgetting himself, within a few
leaves he says the very same thing that I do, and casts himself
under his own severest condemnation?
    For the first: I presume he owns the satisfaction of Christ,
and I will suppose it until he directly denies it; therefore, also,
he owns and grants that God would not pardon any sin, but upon a
supposition of a previous satisfaction made by Jesus Christ. Here,
then, lies all the difference between us; - that I say God could
not, with respect unto his holiness and justice, as the author of
the law and governor of the world, pardon sin absolutely without
satisfaction: he says, that although he might have done so without
the least diminution of his glory, yet he would not, but would have
his Son by his death and suffering to make satisfaction for sin. I
leave it now, not only to every learned and impartial reader, but to
every man in his wits who understands common sense, whether the
blasphemous consequences, which I will not again defile ink and
paper with the expression of, do not seem to follow more directly
upon his opinion than mine. For whereas I say not that God requireth
any thing unto the exercise of grace and mercy, but what he grants
that he does so also; - only I say he does it because requisite unto
his justice; he, because he chose it by a free act of his will and
wisdom, when he might have done otherwise, without the least
disadvantage unto his righteousness or rule, or the least
impeachment to the glory of his holiness. The odious blasphemies
mentioned do apparently seem to make a nearer approach unto his
assertion than unto mine. I cannot proceed unto a farther
declaration of it, because I abhor the rehearsal of such horrid
profaneness. The truth is, they follow not in the least (if there be
any thing in them but odious satanical exprobrations of the truth of
the satisfaction of Christ) on either opinion; though I say this
author knows not well how to discharge himself of them.
    But what if he be all this while only roving in his discourse
about the things that he has no due comprehension of, merely out of
a transporting desire to gratify himself and others, in traducing
and making exceptions against my writings? What if, when he comes a
little to himself, and expresseth the notions that have been
instilled into him, be saith expressly as much as I do, or have done
in any place of my writings? It is plain he does so, p. 49, in these
words: - "As for sin, the gospel assures us that God is an
irreconcilable enemy to all wickedness, it being so contrary to his
own most holy nature, that if he have any love for himself, and any
esteem for his own perfections and works, he must hate sin, which is
so unlike himself, and which destroys the beauty and perfection of
his workmanship. For this end he sent his Son into the world to
destroy the works of the devil," etc. Here is the substance of what
at any time on this subject I have pleaded for: - "God is an
irreconcilable enemy to all wickedness," that it "is contrary to his
holy nature, so that he must hate it; and therefore sends his Son,"
etc. If sin be contrary to God's holy nature, - if he must hate it,
unless he will not love himself, nor value his own perfections, and
therefore sent his Son to make satisfaction, we are absolutely
agreed in this matter, and our author has lost "operam et oleum" in
his attempt. But for the matter itself, if he be able to come unto
any consistency in his thoughts, or to know what is his own mind
therein, I do hereby acquaint him that I have written one entire
discourse on that subject, and have lately reinforced the same
argument in my Exercitations on the Epistle to the Hebrews, wherein
my judgement on this point is declared and maintained. Let him
attempt an answer, if he please, unto them, or do it if he can. What
he farther discourseth on this subject, pp. 46, 47, consisteth only
in odious representations and vile reflections on the principal
doctrines of the gospel, not to be mentioned without offence and
horror. But as to me, he proceeds to except, after his scoffing
manner, against another passage, pp. 47, 48, - "But, however,
sinners have great reasons to rejoice in it, when they consider the
nature and end of God's patience and forbearance towards them, -
viz., That it is God's taking a course, in his infinite wisdom and
goodness, that we should not be destroyed notwithstanding our sins;
that as before, the least sin could not escape without punishment,
justice being so natural to God that he cannot forgive without
punishing; so the justice of God being now satisfied by the death of
Christ, the greatest sins can do us no hurt, but we shall escape
with a 'notwithstanding our sins.' This, it seems, we learn from an
acquaintance with Christ's person, though his gospel instructs us
otherwise, that 'without holiness no man shall see God."' But he is
here again at a loss, and understands not what he is about. That
whereof he was discoursing is the necessity of the satisfaction of
Christ, and that must be it which he maketh his inference from, but
the passage he insists on, he lays down as expressive of the end of
God's patience and forbearance towards sinners, which here is of no
place nor consideration. But so it falls out, that he is seldom at
any agreement with himself in any parts of his discourse; the reason
whereof I do somewhat more than guess at. However, for the passage
which he cites out of my discourse, I like it so well, as that I
shall not trouble myself to inquire whether it be there or no, or on
what occasion it is introduced. The words are, - "That God has, in
his justice, wisdom, and goodness, taken a course that we should not
be destroyed, notwithstanding our sins" (that is, to save sinners);
"for he that believeth, although he be a sinner, shall be saved; and
he that believeth not shall be damned," as one has assured us, whom
I desire to believe and trust unto. If this be not so, what will
become of this man and myself, with all our writings? for I know
that we are both simmers; and if God will not save us, or deliver us
from destruction, notwithstanding our sins, - that is, pardon them
through the bloodshedding of Jesus Christ, wherein we have
redemption, even the forgiveness of sins, - it had been better for
us that we had never been born. And I do yet again say, that God
does not, that he will not, pardon the least sin, without respect
unto the satisfaction of Christ, according as the apostle declares,
2 Cor. 5: 18-21; and the expression which must be set on the other
side, on the supposition whereof the greatest sin can do us no harm,
is this man's addition, which his usual respect unto truth has
produced. But, withal, I never said, I never wrote, that the only
supposition of the satisfaction of Christ is sufficient of itself to
free us from destruction by sin.
    There is, moreover, required on our part, faith and repentance;
without which we can have no advantage by it, or interest in it. But
he seems to understand by that expression, "notwithstanding our
sins," though we should live and die in our sins without faith,
repentance, or new obedience; for he supposeth it sufficient to
manifest the folly of this assertion, to mention that declaration of
the mind of Christ in the gospel, that "without holiness no man
shall see God." I wonder whether he thinks that those who believe
the satisfaction of Christ, and the necessity thereof, wherein God
"made him to be sin who knew no sin, that we might be made the
righteousness of God in him," do believe that the personal holiness
of men is [not] indispensably necessary unto the pleasing and
enjoyment of God. If he suppose that the satisfaction of Christ and
the necessity of our personal holiness are really inconsistent, he
must be treated in another manner: if he suppose that although they
are consistent, yet those whom he opposeth do so trust to the
satisfaction of Christ, as to judge that faith, repentance, and
holiness, are not indispensably necessary to salvation, he manifests
how well skilled he is in their principles and practices. I have
always looked on it as a piece of the highest disingenuity among the
Quakers, that when any one pleads for the satisfaction of Christ or
the imputation of his righteousness, they will clamorously cry out,
and hear nothing to the contrary, "Yea, you are for the saving of
polluted, defiled sinners; let men live in their sins and be all
foul within, it is no matter, so long as they have a righteousness
and a Christ without them." I have, I say, always looked upon it as
a most disingenuous procedure in them, seeing no one is catechised
amongst us, who knoweth not that we press a necessity of
sanctification and holiness, equal with that of justification and
righteousness. And yet this very course is here steered by this
author, contrary to the constant declaration of the judgements of
them with whom he has to do, - contrary to the common evidence of
their writings, preaching, praying, disputing unto another purpose;
and that without relieving or countenancing himself by any one word
or expression used or uttered by them. He chargeth [them] as though
they made holiness a very indifferent thing, and such as it does not
much concern any man whether he have an interest in or no; and I
know not whether is more marvellous unto me, that some men can so
far concoct all principles of conscience and modesty as to publish
such slanderous untruths, or that others can take contentment and
satisfaction therein, who cannot but understand their disingenuity
and falsehood.
    His proceed in the same page is to except against that
revelation of the wisdom of God which I affirm to have been made in
the person and sufferings of Christ, which I thought I might have
asserted without offence. But this man will have it, that "there is
no wisdom therein, if justice be so natural to God, that nothing
could satisfy him but the death of his own Son." That any thing else
could satisfy divine justice but the sufferings and death of the Son
of God, so far as I know, he is the first that found out or
discovered, if he has yet found it out. Some have imagined that God
will pardon sin, and does so, without any satisfaction at all; and
some have thought that other ways of the reparation of lost mankind
were possible, without this satisfaction of divine justice, which
yet God in his wisdom determined on; but that satisfaction could be
any otherwise made to divine justice, but by the death of the Son of
God incarnate, none have used to say who know what they say in these
things. "But wisdom," he saith, "consists in the choice of the best
and fittest means to attain an end, when there were more ways than
one of doing it; but it requires no great wisdom to choose when
there is but one possible way." Yea, this it is to measure God, -
things infinite and divine, by ourselves. Does this man think that
God's ends, as ours, have an existence in themselves out of him,
antecedent unto any acts of his divine wisdom? Does he imagine that
he balanceth probable means for the attaining of an end, choosing
some and rejecting others? Does he surmise that the acts of divine
wisdom with respect unto the end and means are so really distinct,
as the one to have a priority in time before the others? Alas, that
men should have the confidence to publish such slight and crude
imaginations! Again: the Scripture, which so often expresseth the
incarnation of the Son of God, and the whole work of his mediation
thereon, as the effect of the infinite wisdom of God, - as that
wherein the stores, riches, and treasures of it are laid forth, -
does nowhere so speak of it in comparison with other means not so
suited unto the same end, but absolutely, and as it is in its own
nature; unless it be when it is compared with those typical
institutions which, being appointed to resemble it, some did rest
in. And lastly, whereas there was but this one way for the
redemption of mankind, and the restoration of the honour of God's
justice and holiness, as he is the supreme lawgiver and governor of
the universe; and whereas this one way was not in the least pervious
unto any created understanding, angelical or human, nor could the
least of its concerns have ever entered into the hearts of any (nor,
it may be, shall they ever know or be able to find it out unto
perfection, but it will be left the object of their admiration unto
eternity); - if this author can see no wisdom, or no great wisdom,
in the finding out and appointing of this way, who can help it? I
wish he would more diligently attend unto their teachings who are
able to instruct him better; and from whom, as having no prejudice
against them, he may be willing to learn.
    But this is the least part of what this worthy censurer of
theological discourses rebukes and corrects. For whereas I had said,
that we "might learn our disability to answer the mind and will of
God in all or any part of the obedience he requireth," that is,
without Christ or out of him; he adds, "That is, that it is
impossible for us to do any thing that is good, but we must be
acted, like machines, by an external force, - by the irresistible
power of the grace and Spirit of God. This, I am sure, is a new
discovery; we learn no such thing from the gospel, and I do not see
how he proves it from an acquaintance with Christ." But if he
intends what he speaks, "we can do no good, but must be acted, like
machines, by an external force," and chargeth this on me, it is a
false accusation, proceeding from malice or ignorance, or a mixture
of both. If he intend, that we can of ourselves do any thing that is
spiritually good and acceptable before God, without the efficacious
work of the Spirit and grace of God in us, which I only deny, he is
a Pelagian, and stands anathematised by many councils of the ancient
church. And [as] for what is my judgement about the impotency that
is in us by nature unto any spiritual good, - the necessity of the
effectual operation of the Spirit of God in and to our conversion,
with his aids and assistance of actual grace in our whole course of
obedience, which is no other but that of the ancient church, the
most learned fathers, and the church of England itself in former
days, - I have now sufficiently declared and confirmed it in another
discourse; whither this author is remitted, either to learn to speak
honestly of what he opposeth, or to understand it better, or answer
it if he can.
    He adds, "But still there is a more glorious discovery than
this behind; and that is, the glorious end whereunto sin is
appointed and ordained (I suppose he means by God) is discovered in
Christ, - namely, for the demonstration of God's vindictive justice,
in measuring out to it a meet recompense of reward, and for the
praise of God's glorious grace in the pardon and forgiveness of it;
- that is, that it could not be known how just and severe God is,
but by punishing sin, nor how good and gracious God is, but by
pardoning of it; and, therefore, lest his justice and mercy should
never be known to the world, he appoints and ordains sin to this
end, - that is, decrees that men shall sin that he may make some of
them the vessels of his wrath, and the examples of his fierce
vengeance and displeasure, and others the vessels of his mercy, to
the praise and glory of his free grace in Christ. This, indeed, is
such a discovery as nature and revelation could not make," p. 51;
which, in the next page, he calls God's "trickling and bartering
with sin and the devil for his glory."
    Although there is nothing in the words here reported as mine
which is not capable of a fair defence, seeing it is expressly
affirmed that "God set forth his Son to be a propitiation to declare
his righteousness," yet I know not how it came to pass that I had a
mind to turn unto the passage itself in my discourse, which I had
not done before on any occasion, as not supposing that he would
falsify my words, with whom it was so easy to pervert my meaning at
any time, and to reproach what he could not confute. But, that I may
give a specimen of this man's honesty and ingenuity, I shall
transcribe the passage which he excepts against, because I confess
it gave me some surprisal upon its first perusal. My words are
these: "There is a glorious end whereunto sin is appointed and
ordained discovered in Christ, that others are unacquainted withal.
Sin, in its own nature, tends merely to the dishonour of God, the
debasement of his majesty, and the ruin of the creature in whom it
is. Hell itself is but the filling of wretched creatures with the
fruit of their own devices. The combinations and threats of God in
the law do manifest one other end of it, - even the demonstration of
the vindicative justice of God in measuring out unto it a meet
recompense of reward. But here the law stays, and with it all other
light, and discovers no other use or end of it at all. In the Lord
Jesus Christ there is the manifestation of another and more glorious
end, to wit, the praise of God's glorious grace in the pardon and
forgiveness of it; - God having taken order in Christ, that that
thing which tended merely to his dishonour should be managed to his
infinite glory, and that which of all things he desired to exalt, -
even that he may be known and believed to be a God pardoning
iniquity, transgressions, and sin." Such was my ignorance, that I
did not think that any Christian, unless he were a professed
Socinian, would ever have made exceptions against any thing in this
discourse; the whole of it being openly proclaimed in the gospel,
and confirmed in the particulars by sundry texts of Scripture,
quoted in the margin of my book, which this man took no notice of.
For the advantage he would make from the expression about the end
whereunto sin is appointed and ordained, it is childish and
ridiculous; for every one who is not wilfully blind must see, that,
by "ordained," I intended, not any ordination as to the futurition
of sin, but to the disposal of sin to its proper end being
committed, or to ordain it unto its end upon a supposition of its
being; which quite spoils this author's ensuing harangue. But my
judgement in this matter is better expressed by another than I am
able to do it myself, and, therefore, in his words I shall represent
it. It is Augustine: saith he, "Saluberrime confitemur quod
rectissime credimus, Deum Dominumque rerum omnium qui creavit omnia
bona valde, et mala ex bonis exortura esse praescivit, et scivit
magis ad suam omnipotentissimam bonitaten pertinere, etiam de malis
benefacere, quam mala esse non sinere; sic ordinasse angelorum et
hominum vitam, ut in ea prius ostenderet quid posset eorum liberum
arbitrium, deinde quid posset quae gratiae beneficium, justitiaeque
judicium."
    This, our author would have to be God's "bartering with sin and
the devil for his glory;" the bold impiety of which expression,
among many others, for whose necessary repetition I crave pardon,
manifests with what frame of spirit, with what reverence of God
himself and all holy things, this discourse is managed.
    But it seems I add, that "the demonstration of God's justice in
measuring out unto sin a meet recompense of reward is discovered in
Christ, as this author says." Let him read again, "The combinations
and threatening of God in the law," etc. If this man were acquainted
with Christ, he could not but learn somewhat more of truth and
modesty, unless he be wilfully stupid. But what is the crime of this
paragraph? That which it teacheth is, that sin, in its own nature,
has no end but the dishonour of God and the eternal ruin of the
sinner; that, by the sentence and curse of the law, God has
manifested that he will glorify his justice in the punishing of it;
as also, that, in and through Jesus Christ, he will glorify grace
and mercy in its pardon, on the terms of the gospel. What would he
be at? If he have a mind to quarrel with the Bible, and to conflict
the fundamental principles of Christianity, to what purpose does he
cavil at my obscure discourses, when the proper object of his
displeasure lies plainly before him?
    Let us proceed yet a little farther with our author, although I
confess myself to be already utterly wearied with the perusal of
such vain and frivolous imaginations. Yet thus he goes on, p. 53,
"Thus much for the knowledge of ourselves with respect to sin, which
is hid only in the Lord Christ. But then we learn what our
righteousness is, wherewith we must appear before God, from an
acquaintance with Christ. We have already learned how unable we are
to make atonement for our sins, without which they can never be
forgiven, and how unable we are to do any thing that is good; - and
yet nothing can deliver us from the justice and wrath of God, but a
full satisfaction for our sins; and nothing can give us a title to a
reward, but a perfect and unsinning righteousness. What should we do
in this case? How shall we escape hell, or get to heaven, when we
can neither expiate for our past sins, nor do any good for the time
to come? Why, here we are relieved again by an acquaintance with
Christ. His death expiates former iniquities, and removes the whole
guilt of sin. But this is not enough, that we are not guilty, we
must also be actually righteous; not only all sin is to be answered
for, but all righteousness is to be fulfilled. Now, this
righteousness we find only in Christ; we are reconciled to God by
his death, and saved by his life. That actual obedience he yielded
to the whole law of God, is that righteousness whereby we are saved;
we are innocent by virtue of his sacrifice and expiation, and
righteous with his righteousness."
    What is here interposed, - that we cannot do any good for the
time to come, - must be interpreted of ourselves, without the aid or
assistance of the grace of God. And the things here reported by this
author, are so expressed and represented, to expose them to reproach
and scorn, to have them esteemed not only false, but ridiculous. But
whether he be in his wits or no, or what he intends, so to traduce
and scoff at the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, I profess I
know not. What is it he would deny? what is it he would assert? Are
we able to make an atonement for our sins? Can we be forgiven
without an atonement? Can we of ourselves do any good without the
aid and assistance of grace? Can any thing we do be a full
satisfaction for our sins, or deliver us from the wrath of God; that
is, the punishment due to our sins? Does not the death of Christ
expiate former iniquities, and remove the whole guilt of sin? Is the
contrary to these things the doctrine of the church of England? Is
this the religion which is authorised to be preached? and are these
the opinions that are licensed to be published unto all the world?
But, as I observed before, these things are other men's concernment
more than mine, and with them I leave them. But I have said, as he
quotes the place, "that we are reconciled to God by the death of
Christ, and saved by his life, that actual obedience which he
yielded to the whole law of God." As the former part of these words
are expressly the apostle's, Rom. 5: 10, and so produced by me; so
the next words I add are these of the same apostle, "If so be we are
found in him, not having on our own righteousness which is of the
law, but the righteousness which is of God by faith;" which he may
do well to consider, and answer when he can.
    Once more, and I shall be beholden to this author for a little
respite of severity, whilst he diverts to the magisterial reproof of
some other persons. Thus, then, he proceeds, p. 55: - "The third
part of our wisdom is, to walk with God: and to that is required
agreement, acquaintance, a way, strength, boldness, and aiming at
the same end; and all these, with the wisdom of them, are hid in
Jesus Christ." So far are my words, to which he adds: "The sum of
which, in short, is this: - that Christ having expiated our sins,
and fulfilled all righteousness for us, though we have no personal
righteousness of our own, but are as contrary unto God as darkness
is to light, and death to life, and a universal pollution and
defilement to a universal and glorious holiness, and hatred to love;
yet the righteousness of Christ is a sufficient, nay, the only
foundation of our agreement, and, upon that, of our walking with
God: though St John tells us, 'If we say that we have fellowship
with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; but if
we walk in the light, as God is in the light, we have fellowship one
with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us
from all sin,' 1 John 1: 6, 7. And our only acquaintance with God
and knowledge of him is hid in Christ, which his word and works
could not discover, as you heard above. And he is the only way
wherein we must walk with God; and we receive all our strength from
him; and he makes us bold and confident too, having removed the
guilt of sin, so that now we may look justice in the face, and whet
our knife at the counter door, all our debts being discharged by
Christ, as these bold acquaintances and familiars of Christ use to
speak. And in Christ we design the same end that God does, which is
the advancement of his own glory; that is, I suppose, by trusting
unto the expiation and righteousness of Christ for salvation,
without doing any thing ourselves, we take care that God shall not
be wronged of the glory of his free grace, by a competition of any
merits and deserts of our own."
    What the author affirms to be the sum of my discourse in that
place, which, indeed, he does not transcribe, is, as to his
affirmation of it, as contrary to God as darkness is to light, or
death to life, or falsehood to the truth; that is, it is
flagitiously false. That there is any agreement with God, or walking
with God, for any men who have no personal righteousness of their
own, but are contrary to God, etc., I never thought, I never wrote,
nor any thing that should give the least countenance unto a
suspicion to that purpose. The necessity of an habitual and actual
personal, inherent righteousness, of sanctification and holiness, of
gospel obedience, of fruitfulness in good works, unto all who intend
to walk with God, or come to the enjoyment of him, I have asserted
and proved, with other manner of arguments than this author is
acquainted withal. The remainder of his discourse in this place is
composed of immorality and profaneness. To the first I must refer
his charge, that "our only acquaintance with God and knowledge of
him is hid in Christ, which his word could not discover," as he
again expresseth it, pp. 98, 99, "But that the reverend doctor
confessed the plain truth, that their religion is wholly owing to an
acquaintance with the person of Christ, and could never have been
clearly and savingly learned from his gospel had they not first
grown acquainted with his person;" which is plainly false. I own no
knowledge of God, nor of Christ, but what is revealed in the word,
as was before declared. And unto the other head belongs the most of
what ensues; for what is the intendment of those reproaches which
are cast on my supposed assertions? Christ is the only way wherein
or whereby we must walk with God. Yes, so he says, "I am the way;"
"There is no coming to God but by me;" he having consecrated for us
in himself "a new and living way" of drawing nigh to God. We receive
all our strength from him; yes, for he says, "Without me ye can do
nothing." He makes us bold and confident also, having removed the
guilt of sin. So the apostle tells us, Heb. 10: 19-22. What then
what follows upon these plain, positive, divine assertions of the
Scriptures. Why, then "we may look justice in the face, and whet our
knife at the counter door." Goodly son of the church of England! Not
that I impute these profane scoffings unto the church itself, -
which I shall never do until it be discovered that the rulers of it
do give approbation to such abominations; but I would mind the man
of his relation to that church, which, to my knowledge, teacheth
better learning and manners.
    From p. 57 to the end of his second section, p. 75, he giveth
us a scheme of religion, which, in his scoffing language, he says,
"men learn from an acquaintance with the person of Christ; and
affirms, "that there needs no more to expose it to scorn with
considering men than his proposal of it;" which therein he owns to
be his design. I know not any peculiar concernment of mine therein,
until he comes towards the close of it; which I shall particularly
consider. But the substance of the religion which he thus avowedly
attempts to expose to scorn, is the doctrine of God's eternal
election; - of his infinite wisdom in sending his Son to declare his
righteousness for the forgiveness of sins, or in satisfying his
justice, that sin might be pardoned, to the praise of the glory of
his grace; - of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto
them that do believe; - of a sense of sin, humiliation for it,
looking unto Christ for life and salvation, as the Israelites looked
up to the brazen serpent in the wilderness; - of going to Christ by
faith for healing our natures and cleansing our sins; with some
other doctrines of the same importance. These are the principles
which, according to his ability, he sarcastically traduceth and
endeavoureth to reflect scorn upon, by the false representation of
some of them, and debasing others with an intermixture of vile and
profane expressions. It is not impossible but that some or other may
judge it their duty to rebuke this horrible (and yet were it not for
the ignorance and profaneness of some men's minds, every way
contemptible) petulancy. For my part I have other things to do, and
shall only add, that I know no other Christian state in the world
wherein such discourses would be allowed to pass under the signature
of public authority. Only I wish the author more modesty and
sobriety than to attempt, or suppose he shall succeed, in exposing
to scorn the avowed doctrine in general of the church wherein he
lives; and which has in the parts of it been asserted and defended
by the greatest and most learned prelates thereof in the foregoing
ages, such as Jewell, Whitgift, Abbot, Morton, Usher, Hall,
Davenant, Prideaux, etc., with the most learned persons of its
communion, as Reynolds, Whitaker, Hooker, Sutcliffe, etc., and
others innumerable; testified unto in the name of this church by the
divines, sent by public authority to the synod of Dort; - taught by
the principal practical divines of this nation; and maintained by
the most learned at the dignified clergy at this day. He is no doubt
at liberty to dissent from the doctrine of the church, and of all
the learned men thereof; but for a young man to suppose that, with a
few loose, idle words, he shall expose to scorn that doctrine which
the persons mentioned, and others innumerable, have not only
explained, confirmed, and defended, with pains indefatigable, all
kind of learning and skill, ecclesiastical, philosophical, and
theological, in books and volumes, which the Christian world as yet
knoweth, peruseth, and priseth, but also lived long in fervent
prayers to God for the revelation of his mind and truth unto them,
and in the holy practice of obedience suited unto the doctrines they
professed, - is somewhat remote from that Christian humility which
he ought not only to exercise in himself, but to give an example of
unto others. But if this be the fruit of despising the knowledge of
the person of Christ, - of the necessity of his satisfaction, of the
imputation of his righteousness, of union unto his person as our
head, - of a sense of the displeasure of God due to sin, - of the
spirit of bondage and adoption, - of the corruption of nature, and
one disability to do any thing that is spiritually good without the
effectual aids of grace; - if these, I say, and the like issues of
appearing pride and elation of mind, be the fruit and consequent of
rejecting these principles of the doctrine of the gospel, it
manifests that there is, and will be, a proportion between the
errors of men's minds and the depravation of their affections. It
were a most easy task to go over all the particulars mentioned by
him, and to manifest how foully he has prevaricated in their
representation, - how he has cast contempt on some duties of
religion indispensably necessary unto salvation; and brought in the
very words of the Scripture, - and that in the true proper sense and
intendment of them, according to the judgement of all Christians,
ancient and modern (as that of looking to Christ, as the Israelites
looked to the brazen serpent in the wilderness), - to bear a share
and part in his scorn and contempt: as also, to defend and
vindicate, not his odious, disingenuous expressions, but what he
invidiously designeth to expose, beyond his ability to gainsay, or
with any pretence of sober learning to reply unto. But I give it up
into the hands of those who are more concerned in the chastisement
of such imaginations. Only, I cannot but tell this author what I
have learned by long observation, - namely, that those who, in
opposing others, make it their design to [publish] and place their
confidence in false representations, and invidious expressions of
their judgements and opinions, waiving a true stating of the things
in difference, and weighing of the arguments wherewith they are
confirmed, - whatever pretence they may make of confidence, and
contempt of them with whom they have to do, yet this way of writing
proceeds from a secret sense of their disability to maintain their
own opinions, or to reply to the seasonings of their adversaries in
a fair and lawful disputation; or from such depraved affections as
are sufficient to deter any sober person from the least
communication in those principles which are so pleaded for. And the
same I must say of that kind of writing (which in some late authors
fills up almost every page in their books which, beyond a design to
load the persons of men with reproaches and calumnies, consists only
in the collecting of passages here and there, up and down, out of
the writings of others; which, as cut off from the body of their
discourses, and design of the places which they belong unto, may,
with a little artifice, either of addition or detraction, with some
false glosses, whereof we shall have an immediate instance, be
represented weak, or untrue, or improper, or some way or other
obnoxious to censure. When diligence, modesty, love of truth,
sobriety, true use of learning, shall again visit the world in a
more plentiful manner; though differences should continue amongst
us, yet men will be enabled to manage them honestly, without
contracting so much guilt on themselves, or giving such fearful
offence and scandal unto others. But I return.
    That wherein I am particularly concerned, is the close
wherewith he winds up this candid, ingenious discourse, p. 74. He
quotes my words, "That 'the soul consents to take Christ on his own
terms, to save him in his own way; and saith, Lord, I would have had
thee and salvation in my way, that it might have been partly of mine
endeavours, and as it were by the works of the law' (that is, by
obeying the laws of the gospel); 'but I am now willing to receive
thee, and to be saved in thy way, merely by grace' (that is, without
doing any thing, without obeying thee). The most contented spouse,
certainly, that ever was in the world, to submit to such hard
conditions as to be saved for nothing. But what a pretty compliment
does the soul make to Christ after all this, when she adds, 'And
though I would have walked according to my own mind, yet now I
wholly give up myself to be ruled by thy Spirit.'"
    If the reader will be at the pains to look on the discourse
whence these passages are taken, I shall desire no more of his
favour but that he profess himself to be a Christian, and then let
him freely pronounce whether he find any thing in it obnoxious to
censure. Or, I desire that any man, who has not forfeited all reason
and ingenuity unto faction and party, if he differ from me, truly to
state wherein, and oppose what I have said with an answer unto the
testimonies wherewith it is confirmed, referred unto in the margin
of my discourse. But the way of this author's proceeding, if there
be no plea to be made for it from his ignorance and unacquaintedness
not only with the person of Christ, but with most of the other
things he undertakes to write about, is altogether inexcusable. The
way whereby I have expressed the consent of the soul in the
receiving of Jesus Christ, to be justified, sanctified, saved by
him, I still avow, as suited unto the mind of the Holy Ghost, and
the experience of them that really believe. And whereas I added,
that before believing, the soul did seek for salvation by the works
of the law, as it is natural unto all, and as the Holy Ghost affirms
of some (whose words alone I used, and expressly quoted that place
from whence I took them, - namely, Rom. 9: 31, this man adds, as an
exposition of that expression, "That is, by obeying the laws of the
gospel." But he knew that these were the words of the apostle, or he
did not; if he did not, nor would take notice of them so to be,
although directed to the place from whence they are taken, it is
evident how meet he is to debate matters of this nature and
concernment, and how far he is yet from being in danger to "pore out
his eyes" in reading the Scripture, as he pretends. If he did know
them to be his words, why does he put such a sense upon them as, in
his own apprehension, is derogatory to gospel obedience? Whatever he
thought of beforehand, it is likely he will now say that it is my
sense, and not the apostle's, which he intends. But how will he
prove that I intended any other sense than that of the apostle? how
should this appear? Let him, if he can, produce any word in my whole
discourse intimating any other sense. Nay, it is evident that I had
no other intention but only to refer unto that place of the apostle,
and the proper sense of it; which is to express the mind and acting
of those who, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, go about
to establish their own righteousness; as he farther explains
himself, Rom. 10: 3, 4. That I could not intend obedience unto the
laws of the gospel is so evident, that nothing but abominable
prejudice or ignorance could hinder any man from discerning it. For
that faith which I expressed by the soul's consent to take Christ as
a saviour and a ruler, is the very first act of obedience unto the
gospel: so that therein or thereon to exclude obedience unto the
gospel, is to deny what I assert; which, under the favour of this
author, I understand myself better than to do. And as to all other
acts of obedience unto the laws of the gospel, following and
proceeding from sincere believing, it is openly evident that I could
not understand them when I spake only of what was antecedent unto
them. And if this man knows not what transactions are in the minds
of many before they do come unto the acceptance of Christ on his own
terms, or believe in him according to the tenor of the gospel, there
is reason to pity the people that are committed unto his care and
instruction, what regard soever ought to be had unto himself. And
his pitiful trifling in the exposition he adds of this passage, "To
be saved without doing any thing, without obeying thee, and the
law," does but increase the guilt of his prevarications; for the
words immediately added in my discourse are, - "And although I have
walked according unto mine own mind, yet now I wholly give up myself
to be ruled by thy Spirit;" which, unto the understanding of all men
who understand any thing in these matters, signify no less than an
engagement unto the universal relinquishment of sin, and entire
obedience unto Jesus Christ in all things. "But this," saith he, "is
a pretty compliment that the soul makes to Christ after all." But
why is this to be esteemed only a "pretty compliment?" It is spoken
at the same time, and, as it were, with the same breath, there being
in the discourse no period between this passage and that before; and
why must it be esteemed quite of another nature, so that herein the
soul should only compliment, and be real in what is before
expressed? What if one should say, it was real only in this latter
expression and engagement, that the former was only a "pretty
compliment?" May it not, with respect unto my sense and intention
(from any thing in my words, or that can be gathered from them, or
any circumstances of the place), be spoken with as much regard unto
truth and honesty? What religion these men are of I know not. If it
be such as teacheth them these practices, and countenanceth them in
them, I openly declare that I am not of it, nor would be so for all
that this world can afford. I shall have done, when I have desired
him to take notice, that I not only believe and maintain the
necessity of obedience unto all the laws, precepts, commands, and
institutions of the gospel, - of universal holiness, the
mortification of all sin, fruitfulness in good works, in all that
intend or design salvation by Jesus Christ; but also have proved and
confirmed my persuasion and assertions by better and more cogent
arguments than any which, by his writings, he seems as yet to be
acquainted withal. And unless he can prove that I have spoken or
written any thing to the contrary, or he can disprove the arguments
whereby I have confirmed it, I do here declare him a person
altogether unfit to be dealt withal about things of this nature, his
ignorance or malice being invincible; nor shall I, on any
provocation, ever hereafter take notice of him until he has mended
his manners.
    His third section, p. 76, consists of three parts: - First,
"That some" (wherein it is apparent that I am chiefly, if not only,
intended) "do found a religion upon a pretended acquaintance with
Christ's person, without and besides the gospel;" whereunto he
opposeth his running title of "No acquaintance with Christ but by
revelation." Secondly, A supposition of a scheme of religion drawn
from the knowledge of Christ's person; whereunto he opposeth
another, which he judgeth better. Thirdly, An essay to draw up the
whole plot and design of Christianity, with the method of the
recovery of sinners unto God. In the first of these, I suppose that
I am, if not solely, yet principally, intended; especially
considering what he affirms, pp. 98, 99, namely, that "I plainly
confess our religion is wholly owing unto acquaintance with the
person of Christ, and could never have been clearly and savingly
learned from the gospel, had we not first grown acquainted with his
person." Now, herein there is an especial instance of that truth and
honesty wherewith my writings are entertained by this sort of men.
It is true, I have asserted that it is necessary for Christians to
know Jesus Christ, - to be acquainted with his person that is (as I
have fully and largely declared it in the discourse excepted
against), the glory of his divine nature, the purity of his human,
the infinite condescension of his person in the assumption of our
nature, his love and grace, etc., as is at large there declared: and
now I add, that he by whom this is denied is no Christian. Secondly,
I have taught, that by this knowledge of the person of Christ, or an
understanding of the great mystery of godliness, God manifested in
the flesh, which we ought to pray for and labour after, we come more
fully and clearly to understand sundry other important mysteries of
heavenly truth; which without the knowledge of Christ we cannot
attain unto. And how impertinent this man's exceptions are against
this assertion, we have seen already. But, thirdly, that this
knowledge of Christ, or acquaintance with him, is to be attained
before we come to know the gospel, or by any other means than the
gospel, or is any other but the declaration that is made thereof in
and by the gospel, was never thought, spoken, or written by me, and
is here falsely supposed by this author, as elsewhere falsely
charged on me. And I again challenge him to produce any one letter
or tittle out of any of my writings to give countenance unto this
frostless calumny. And therefore, although I do not like his
expression, p. 77, "Whoever would understand the religion of our
Saviour, must learn it from his doctrine, and not from his person,"
for many reasons I could give; yet I believe no less than he, that
the efficacy of Christ's mediation depending on God's appointment
can be known only by revelation, and that no man can draw any one
conclusion from the person of Christ which the gospel has not
expressly taught; because we can know no more of its excellency,
worth, and works, than what is there revealed: whereby he may see
how miserably ill-will, malice, or ignorance has betrayed him into
the futilous pains of writing this section upon a contrary
supposition falsely imputed unto me. And as for his drawing schemes
of religion, I must tell him, and let him disprove it if he be able,
I own no religion, no article of faith, but what is taught expressly
in the Scripture, mostly confirmed by the ancient general councils
of the primitive church, and the writings of the most learned
fathers, against all sorts of heretics, especially the Gnostics,
Photinians, and Pelagians, consonant to the articles of the church
of England, and the doctrine of all the reformed churches of Europe.
And if in the exposition of any place of Scripture I dissent from
any that, for the substance of it, own the religion I do, I do it
not without cogent reasons from the Scripture itself; and where, in
any opinions which learned men have (and, it may be, always had)
different apprehensions about, which has not been thought to
prejudice the unity of faith amongst them, I hope I do endeavour to
manage that dissent with that modesty and sobriety which becometh
me. And as for the schemes, plots, or designs of religion or
Christianity, given us by this author and owned by him (it being
taken pretendedly from the person of Christ, when it is hoped that
he may have a better to give us from the gospel, seeing he has told
us we must learn our religion from his doctrine and not from his
person); besides that it is liable unto innumerable exceptions in
particular, which may easily be given in against it by such as have
nothing else to do, whereas it makes no mention of the effectual
grace of Christ and the gospel for the conversion and sanctification
of sinners, and the necessity thereof unto all acts of holy
obedience, - it is merely Pelagianism, and stands anathematised by
sundry councils of the ancient church. I shall not, therefore,
concern myself farther in any passages of this section, most of them
wherein it reflects on others standing in competition for truth and
ingenuity with the foundation and design of the whole; only I shall
say, that the passage of pp. 88, 89, - "This made the divine
goodness so restlessly zealous and concerned for the recovery of
mankind; various ways he attempted in former ages, but with little
success, as I observed before; but at last God sent his Son, our
Lord Jesus Christ, into the world," without a very cautious
explanation and charitable construction, is false, scandalous, and
blasphemous. For allow this author, who contends so severely for
propriety of expressions, against allusions and metaphors, to say
that the divine goodness was "restlessly zealous and concerned"
(for, indeed, such is our weakness, that, whether we will or no, we
must sometimes learn and teach divine things in such words as are
suited to convey an apprehension of them unto our minds, though, in
their application unto the divine nature, they are incapable of
being understood in the propriety of their signification, though
this be as untowardly expressed as any thing I have of late met
withal); yet what colour can be put upon, what excuse can be made
for, this doctrine, that "God in former ages, by various ways,
attempted the recovery of mankind, but with little success," I know
not. Various attempts in God for any end without success, do not
lead the mind into right notions of his infinite wisdom and
omnipotence; and that God, by any way, at any time, attempted the
recovery of mankind distinctly and separately from the sending of
his Son, is lewdly false.
    In the greatest part of his fourth section, entitled, "How men
pervert the Scripture to make it comply with their fancy," I am not
much concerned; save that the foundation of the whole, and that
which animates his discourse from first to last, is laid in an
impudent calumny, - namely, that I declare that "our religion is
wholly owing to an acquaintance with the person of Christ, and could
never have been clearly and savingly learned from his gospel, had we
not first grown acquainted with his person." This shameless
falsehood is that alone whence he takes occasion and confidence, to
reproach myself and others, to condemn the doctrine of all the
reformed churches and openly to traduce and vilify the Scripture
itself. I shall only briefly touch on some of the impotent dictates
of this great corrector of divinity and religion. His discourse of
accommodating Scripture expressions to men's own dreams, pp. 99-101,
being such as any man may use concerning any other men on the like
occasion, if they have a mind unto it, and intend to have no more
regard to their consciences than some others seem to have, may be
passed by. P. 102, he falls upon the ways of expounding Scripture
among those whom he sets himself against, and positively affirms,
"that there are two ways of it in great vogue among them: - First,
By the sound and clink of the words and phrases; which, as he says,
is all some men understand by keeping a form of sound words.
Secondly, When this will not do, they reason about the sense of them
from their own preconceived notions and opinions, and prove that
this must be the meaning of Scripture, because otherwise it is not
reconcilable to their dreams; which is called expounding Scripture
by the analogy of faith."
    Thus far he; and yet we shall have the same man not long hence
pleading for the necessity of holiness. But I wish, for my part, he
would take notice that I despise that holiness, and the principles
of it, which will allow men to coin, invent, and publish such
notorious untruths against any sort of men whatever. And whereas, by
what immediately follows, I seem to be principally intended in this
charge, as I know the untruth of it, so I have published some
expositions on some parts of the Scripture to the judgement of the
Christian world; to which I appeal from the censures of this man and
his companions, as also for those which, if I live and God will, I
shall yet publish; and do declare, that, for reasons very
satisfactory to my mind, I will not come to him nor them to learn
how to expound the Scripture.
    But he will justify his charge by particular instances, telling
us, p. 102, "Thus when men are possessed with a fancy of an
acquaintance with Christ's person, then to know Christ can signify
nothing else but to know his person and all his personal
excellencies, and beauties, fulness, and preciousness, etc. And when
Christ is said to be made wisdom to us, this is a plain proof that
we must learn all our spiritual wisdom from an acquaintance with his
person; though some duller men can understand no more by it than the
wisdom of those revelations Christ has made of God's will to the
world." I would beg of this man, that if he has any regard unto the
honour of Christian religion, or care of his own soul, he would be
tender in this matter, and not reflect with his usual disdain upon
the knowledge of the person of Christ. I must tell him again, what
all Christians believe, - Jesus Christ is Jesus Christ, the eternal
Son of God incarnate. The person of Christ is Christ himself, and
nothing else; his personal excellencies are the properties of his
person, as his two natures are united therein, and as he was thereby
made meet to be the mediator between God and man. To know Christ in
the language of the Scripture, [of] the whole church of God ancient
and present, in common sense and understanding, is to know the
person of Christ as revealed and declared in the gospel, with
respect unto the ends for which he is proposed and made known
therein. And this knowledge of him, as it is accompanied with, and
cannot be without, the knowledge of his mind and will, declared in
his precepts, promises, and institutions, is effectual to work and
produce, in the souls of them who so know him, that faith in him,
and obedience unto him, which he does require. And what would this
man have? He who is otherwise minded has renounced his Christianity,
if ever he had any; and if he be thus persuaded, to what purpose is
it to set up and combat the mormos and chimeras of his own
imagination? Well, then, I do maintain, that to know Christ
according to the gospel, is to know the person of Christ; for Christ
and his person are the same. Would he now have me to prove this by
testimonies or arguments, or the consent of the ancient church? I
must beg his excuse at present; and so for the future, unless I have
occasion to deal with Gnostics, Familists, or Quakers. And as for
the latter clause, wherein Christ is said to be made wisdom unto us,
he says, "Some duller men can understand no more by it than the
wisdom of those revelations Christ has made of God's will to the
world," - who are dull men indeed, and so let them pass.
    His ensuing discourses, in pp. 103-105, contain the boldest
reflections on, and openest derisions of, the expressions and way of
teaching spiritual things warranted in and by the Scripture, that to
my knowledge I ever read in a book licensed to be printed by public
authority: as, in particular, the expressions of faith in Christ, by
"coming unto him," and "receiving of him," - which are the words of
the Holy Ghost, and used by him in his wisdom to instruct us in the
nature of this duty, - are, amongst others, the subjects of his
scorn. The first part of it, though I remember not to have given any
occasion to be particularly concerned in it, I shall briefly
consider. P. 103, "Thus when men have first learned, from an
acquaintance with Christ, to place all their hopes of salvation in a
personal union with Christ, from whom they receive the free
communications of pardon and grace, righteousness and salvation,
what more plain proof can any man who is resolved to believe this,
desire of it, than 1 John 5: 12, 'He that has the Son has life, and
he that has not the Son has not life?' And what can having the Son
signify, but having an interest in him, being made one with him?
though some will be so perverse as to understand it of believing,
and having his gospel. But the phrase of 'having the Son,' confutes
that dull and moral interpretation, especially when we remember it
is called, 'being in Christ, and abiding in him;' which must signify
a very near union between Christ's person and us."
    I suppose that expression of "personal union" sprung out of
design, and not out of ignorance; for, if I mistake not, he does
somewhere in his book take notice that it is disclaimed, and only a
union of believers with or unto the person of Christ asserted; or,
if it be his mistake, all comes to the same issue. Personal, or
hypostatical union, is that of different natures in the same person,
giving them the same singular subsistence. This none pretend unto
with Jesus Christ. But it is the union of believers unto the person
of Christ which is spiritual and mystical, whereby they are in him
and he in them, and so are one with him, their head, as members of
his mystical body, which is pleaded for herein, with the free
communications of grace, righteousness, and salvation, in the
several and distinct ways whereby we are capable to receive them
from him, or be made partakers of them; [in this] we place all hopes
of salvation. And we do judge, moreover, that he who is otherwise
minded must retake himself unto another gospel; for he completely
renounceth that in our Bibles. Is this our crime, - that which we
are thus charged with, and traduced for? Is the contrary hereunto
the doctrine that the present church of England approveth and
instructs her children in? Or does any man think that we will be
scared from our faith and hope by such weak and frivolous attempts
against them? Yea, but it may be it is not so much the thing itself,
as the miserable proof which we produce from the Scripture in the
confirmation of it; for we do it from that of the apostle, 1 John 5:
12. If he think that we prove these things only by this testimony,
he is mistaken at his wonted rate. Our faith herein is built upon
innumerable express testimonies of the Scripture, - indeed the whole
revelation of the will of God and the way of salvation by Jesus
Christ in the gospel. Those who prove it, also, from this text, have
sufficient ground and reason for what they plead. And,
notwithstanding the pleasant scoffing humour of this author, we yet
say that it is perverse folly for any one to say that the having of
the Son or Christ expressed in the text, does intend either the
having an interest in him and union with him, or the obeying of his
gospel, exclusively to the other, - these being inseparable, and
included in the same expression. And as to what he adds about being
in Christ, and abiding in him, - which are the greatest privileges
of believers, and that as expressed in words taught by the Holy
Ghost, - it is of the same strain of profaneness with much of what
ensues; which I shall not farther inquire into.
    I find not myself concerned in his ensuing talk, but only in
one reflection on the words of the Scripture, and the repetition of
his old, putid, and shameless calumny, p. 108, until we come to p.
126, where he arraigns an occasional discourse of mine about the
necessity of holiness and good works; wherein he has only filched
out of the whole what he thought he could wrest unto his end, and
scoffingly descant upon. I shall, therefore, for once, transcribe
the whole passage as it lies in my book, and refer it to the
judgement of the reader, p, 206: -
    "2. The second objection is, "That if the righteousness and
obedience of Christ to the law be imputed unto us, then what need we
yield obedience ourselves?" To this, also, I shall return answer as
briefly as I can in the ensuing observations: -
    "(1.) The placing of our gospel obedience on the right foot of
account (that it may neither be exalted into a state, condition,
use, or end, not given it of God; nor any reason, cause, motive,
end, necessity of it, on the other hand, taken away, weakened, or
impaired), is a matter of great importance. Some make our obedience,
the works of faith, our works, the matter or cause of our
justification; some, the condition of the imputation of the
righteousness of Christ; some, the qualification of the person
justified, on the one hand; some exclude all the necessity of them,
and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness, on the other. To
debate these differences is not my present business; only, I say, on
this and other accounts, the right stating of our obedience is of
great importance as to our walking with God.
    "(2.) We do by no means assign the same place, condition,
state, and use to the obedience of Christ imputed to us, and our
obedience performed to God. If we did, they were really
inconsistent. And therefore those who affirm that our obedience is
the condition or cause of our justification, do all of them deny the
imputation of the obedience of Christ unto us. The righteousness of
Christ is imputed to us, as that on the account whereof we are
accepted and esteemed righteous before God, and are really so,
though not inherently. We are as truly righteous with the obedience
of Christ imputed to us as Adam was, or could have been, by a
complete righteousness of his own performance. So Rom. 5: 18, by his
obedience we are made righteous, - made so truly, and so accepted;
as by the disobedience of Adam we are truly made trespassers, and so
accounted. And this is that which the apostle desires to be found
in, in opposition to his own righteousness, Phil 3: 9. But our own
obedience is not the righteousness whereupon we are accepted and
justified before God; although it be acceptable to God that we
should abound therein. And this distinction the apostle does
evidently deliver and confirm, so as nothing can be more clearly
revealed: Eph. 2: 8-10, "For by grace are ye saved through faith:
and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works,
lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in
Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has prepared that we should
walk in them." We are saved, or justified (for that it is whereof
the apostle treats), "by grace through faith," which receives Jesus
Christ and his obedience; "not of works, lest any man should boast."
"But what works are they that the apostle intends?" The works of
believers, as in the very beginning of the next words is manifest:
"'For we are,' we believers, with our obedience and our works, of
whom I speak." "Yea; but what need, then, of works?" Need still
there is: "We are his workmanship," etc.
    "Two things the apostle intimates in these words: -
    "[1.] A reason why we cannot be saved by works, - namely,
because we do them not in or by our own strength; which is necessary
we should do, if we will be saved by them, or justified by them.
"But this is not so," saith the apostle; "for we are the workmanship
of God," etc.; - all our works are wrought in us, by full and
effectual undeserved grace.
    "[2.] An assertion of the necessity of good works,
notwithstanding that we are not saved by them; and that is, that God
has ordained that we shall walk in them: which is a sufficient
ground of our obedience, whatever be the use of it.
    "If you will say then, "What are the true and proper gospel
grounds, reasons, uses, and motives of our obedience; whence the
necessity thereof may be demonstrated, and our souls be stirred up
to abound and be fruitful therein?" I say, they are so many, and lie
so deep in the mystery of the gospel and dispensation of grace,
spread themselves so throughout the whole revelation of the will of
God unto us, that to handle them fully and distinctly, and to give
them their due weight, is a thing that I cannot engage in, lest I
should be turned aside from what I principally intend. I shall only
give you some brief heads of what might at large be insisted on: -
    "1st. Our universal obedience and good works are indispensably
necessary, from the sovereign appointment and will of God; Father,
Son, and Holy Ghost.
    "In general "This is the will of God, even your
sanctification," or holiness, 1 Thess. 4: 3. This is that which God
wills, which he requires of us, - that we be holy, that we be
obedient, that we do his will as the angels do in heaven. The
equity, necessity, profit, and advantage of this ground of our
obedience might at large be insisted on; and, were there no more,
this might suffice alone, - if it be the will of God, it is our
duty: -
    "(1st.) The Father has ordained or appointed it. It is the will
of the Father, Eph 2: 10. The Father is spoken of personally, Christ
being mentioned as mediator.
    "(2dly.) The Son has ordained and appointed it as mediator.
John 15: 16, "'I have ordained you, that ye should bring forth
fruit' of obedience, and that it should remain." And, -
    "(3dly.) The holy Ghost appoints and ordains believers to works
of obedience and holiness, and to work holiness in others. So, in
particular, Acts 13: 2, he appoints and designs men to the great
work of obedience in preaching the gospel. And in sinning, men sin
against him.
    "2dly. Our holiness, our obedience, work of righteousness, is
one eminent and especial end of the peculiar dispensation of Father,
Son, and Spirit, in the business of exalting the glory of God in our
salvation, - of the electing love of the Father, the purchasing love
of the Son, and the operative love of the Spirit: -
    "(1st.) It is a peculiar end of the electing love of the
Father, Eph 1: 4, "He has chosen us, that we should be holy and
without blame." So Isa. 4: 3, 4. His aim and design in choosing of
us was, that we should be holy and unblamable before him in love.
This he is to accomplish, and will bring about in them that are his.
"He chooses us to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit,
and belief of the truth," 2 Thess. 2: 13. This the Father designed
as the first and immediate end of electing love; and proposes the
consideration of that love as a motive to holiness, 1 John 4: 8-10.
    "(2dly.) It is so also of the exceeding love of the Son;
whereof the testimonies are innumerable. I shall give but one or
two: - Tit. 2: 14, "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us
from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people,
zealous of good works." This was his aim, his design, in giving
himself for us; as Eph. 5: 25-27, "Christ loved the church, and gave
himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the
washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a
glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but
that it should be holy, and without blemish" 2 Cor. 5: 15; Rom. 6:
11.
    "(3dly.) It is the very work of the love of the Holy Ghost. His
whole work upon us, in us, for us, consists in preparing of us for
obedience; enabling of us thereunto, and bringing forth the fruits
of it in us. And this he does in opposition to a righteousness of
our own, either before it or to be made up by it, Tit. 3: 5. I need
not insist on this. The fruits of the Spirit in us are known, Gal.
5: 22, 23.
    "And thus have we a twofold bottom of the necessity of our
obedience and personal holiness: - God has appointed it, he requires
it; and it is an eminent immediate end of the distinct dispensation
of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the work of our salvation. If
God's sovereignty over us is to be owned, if his love towards us be
to be regarded, if the whole work of the ever-blessed Trinity, for
us, in us, be of any moment, our obedience is necessary.
    "3dly. It is necessary in respect of the end thereof; and that
whether you consider God, ourselves, or the world: -
    "(1st.) The end of our obedience, in respect of God, is, his
glory and honour, Mal. 1: 6. This is God's honour, - all that we
give him. It is true, he will take his honour from the stoutest and
proudest rebel in the world; but all we give him is in our
obedience. The glorifying of God by our obedience is all that we are
or can be. Particularly, -
    "[1st.] It is the glory of the Father. Matt. 5: 16, "Let your
light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and
glorify your Father which is in heaven." By our walking in the light
of faith does glory arise to the Father. The fruits of his love, of
his grace, of his kindness, are seen upon us; and God is glorified
in our behalf. And, -
    "[2dly.] The Son is gloried thereby. It is the will of God that
as all men honour the Father, so should they honour the Son, John 5:
23. And how is this done? By believing in him, John 14: l; obeying
of him. Hence, John 17: 10, he says he is glorified in believers;
and prays for an increase of grace and union for them, that he may
yet be more glorified, and all might know that, as mediator, he was
sent of God.
    "[3dly.] The Spirit is gloried also by it. He is grieved by our
disobedience, Eph. 4: 30; and therefore his glory is in our bringing
forth fruit. He dwells in us, as in his temple; which is not to be
defiled. Holiness becometh his habitation for ever.
    "Now, if this that has been said be not sufficient to evince a
necessity of our obedience, we must suppose ourselves to speak with
a sort of men who regard neither the sovereignty, nor love, nor
glory of God, Father, Son, or Holy Ghost. Let men say what they
please, though our obedience should be all lost, and never regarded
(which is impossible, for God is not unjust, to forget our labour of
love), yet here is a sufficient bottom, ground, and reason of
yielding more obedience unto God than ever we shall do whilst we
live in this world. I speak also only of gospel grounds of
obedience, and not of those that are natural and legal, which are
indispensable to all mankind.
    "(2dly.) The end in respect of ourselves immediately is
threefold: - [1st.] Honour. [2dly.] Peace. [3dly.] Usefulness.
    "[1st.] Honour. It is by holiness that we are made like unto
God, and his image is renewed again in us. This was our honour at
our creation, this exalted us above all our fellow-creatures here
below, - we were made in the image of God. This we lost by sin, and
became like the beasts that perish. To this honour, of conformity to
God, of bearing his image, are we exalted again by holiness alone.
"Be ye holy," says God, "for I am holy," 1 Pet. 1: 16; and, "Be ye
perfect" (that is, in doing good), "even as your Father which is in
heaven is perfect," Matt. 5: 48, - in a likeness and conformity to
him. And herein is the image of God renewed; Eph. 4: 23, 24, therein
we "put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness
and holiness of truth." This was that which originally was attended
with power and dominion; - is still all that is beautiful or comely
in the world. How it makes men honourable and precious in the sight
of God, of angels, of men; how alone it is that which is not
despised, which is of price before the Lord; what contempt and scorn
he has of them in whom it is not, - in what abomination he has them
and all their ways, - might easily be evinced.
    "[2dly.] Peace. By it we have communion with God, wherein peace
alone is to be enjoyed. "The wicked are like the troubled sea, that
cannot rest;" and, "There is no peace" to them, "saith my God," Isa.
57: 20; 2]. There is no peace, rest, or quietness, in a distance,
separation, or alienation from God. He is the rest of our souls. In
the light of his countenance is life and peace. Now, "if we walk in
the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with
another," 1 John 1: 7; "and truly our fellowship is with the Father,
and with his Son Jesus Christ," verse 3. He that walks in the light
of new obedience, he has communion with God, and in his presence is
fulness of joy for ever; without it, there is nothing but darkness,
and wandering, and confusion.
    "[3dly.] Usefulness. A man without holiness is good for
nothing. "Ephraim," says the prophet, "is an empty vine, that brings
forth fruit to itself" And what is such a vine good for? Nothing.
Saith another prophet, "A man cannot make so much as a pin of it, to
hang a vessel on." A barren tree is good for nothing, but to be cut
down for the fire. Notwithstanding the seeming usefulness of men who
serve the providence of God in their generations, I could easily
manifest that the world and the church might want them, and that,
indeed, in themselves they are good for nothing. Only the holy man
is commune bonum.
    "(3dly.) The end of it in respect of others in the world is
manifold: -
    "[1st.] It serves to the conviction and stopping the mouths of
some of the enemies of God, both here and hereafter: - 1. Here. 1
Pet. 3: 16, "Having a good conscience; that, wherein they speak evil
of you, as of evil-doers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse
your good conversation in Christ." By our keeping of a good
conscience men will be made ashamed of their false accusations; that
whereas their malice and hatred of the ways of God has provoked them
to speak all manner of evil of the profession of them, by the
holiness and righteousness of the saints, they are convinced and
made ashamed, as a thief is when he is taken, and be driven to
acknowledge that God is amongst them, and that they are wicked
themselves, John 17: 23. 2. Hereafter. It is said that the saints
shall judge the world. It is on this, as well as upon other
considerations: their good works, their righteousness, their
holiness, shall be brought forth, and manifested to all the world;
and the righteousness of God's judgements against wicked men be
thence evinced. "See," says Christ, "these are they that I own, whom
you so despised and abhorred; and see their works following them:
this and that they have done, when you wallowed in your
abominations," Matt. 25: 42, 43.
    "[2dly.] The conversion of others. 1 Pet. 2: 12, "Having your
conversation honest among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak
against you as evil-doers, they may, by your good works, which they
shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation," Matt. 5: 16.
Even revilers, persecutors, evil-speakers, have been overcome by the
constant holy walking of professors; and when their day of
visitation has come, have glorified God on that account, 1 Pet. 3:
1, 2.
    "[3dly.] The benefit of all; partly in keeping off judgements
from the residue of men, as ten good men would have preserved Sodom:
partly by their real communication of good to them with whom they
have to do in their generation. Holiness makes a man a good man,
useful to all; and others eat of the fruits of the Spirit that he
brings forth continually.
    "[4thly.] It is necessary in respect of the state and condition
of justified persons; and that whether you consider their relative
state of acceptation, or their state of sanctification: -
    "First. They are accepted and received into friendship with a
holy God, - a God of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, - who hates
every unclean thing. And is it not necessary that they should be
holy who are admitted into his presence, walk in his sight, - yea,
lie in his bosom? Should they not with all diligence cleanse
themselves from all pollution of flesh and spirit, and perfect
holiness in the fear of the Lord?
    "Secondly. In respect of sanctification. We have in us a new
creature, 2 Cor. 5: 17. This new creature is fed, cherished,
nourished, kept alive, by the fruits of holiness. To what end has
God given us new hearts, and new natures? Is it that we should kill
them? stifle the creature that is found in us in the womb? that we
should give him to the old man to be devoured?
    "[5thly.] It is necessary in respect of the proper place of
holiness in the new covenant; and that is twofold: -
    "First. Of the means unto the end. God has appointed that
holiness shall be the means, the way to that eternal life, which, as
in itself and originally [it] is his gift by Jesus Christ, so, with
regard to his constitution of our obedience, as the means of
attaining it, [it] is a reward, and God in bestowing of it a
rewarder. Though it be neither the cause, matter, nor condition of
our justification, yet it is the way appointed of God for us to walk
in for the obtaining of salvation. And therefore, he that has hope
of eternal life purifies himself, as he is pure: and none shall ever
come to that end who walketh not in that way; for without holiness
it is impossible to see God.
    "Secondly. It is a testimony and pledge of adoption, - a sign
and evidence of grace; that is, of acceptation with God. And, -
    "Thirdly. The whole expression of our thankfulness.
    "Now, there is not one of all these causes and reasons of the
necessity, the indispensable necessity of our obedience, good works,
and personal righteousness, but would require a more large discourse
to unfold and explain than I have allotted to the proposal of them
all; and innumerable others there are of the same import, that I
cannot name. He that upon these accounts does not think universal
holiness and obedience to be of indispensable necessity, unless also
it be exalted into the room of the obedience and righteousness of
Christ, let him be filthy still."
    I confess this whole discourse proceedeth on the supposition of
the imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto us for our
justification. And herein I have as good company as the prelacy and
whole church of England can afford; sundry from among them having
written large discourses in its confirmation, and the rest having,
till of late, approved of it in others. I wish this man, or any of
his companions in design, would undertake the answering of Bishop
Downham on this subject. No man ever carried this matter higher than
Luther; nor did he, in all his writings, more positively and plainly
contend for it than in his comment on the Epistle to the Galatians;
- yet was that book translated into English by the approbation of
the then bishop of London, who also prefixed himself a commendatory
epistle unto it. The judgement of Hooker we have heard before. But
what need I mention in particular any of the rest of those great and
learned names who have made famous the profession of the church of
England by their writings throughout the world? Had this man, in
their days, treated this doctrine with his present scoffing
petulancy, he had scarce been rector of St George, Botolph Lane,
much less filled with such hopes and expectations of future
advancements, as it is not impossible that he is now possessed with,
upon his memorable achievements. But, on this supposition, I do,
first, appeal to the judgement of the church of England itself as to
the truth of the doctrine delivered in my discourse, and the
principles which this man proceedeth on in his exceptions against
it. 2. Though it be but a part of a popular discourse, and never
intended for scholastic accuracy, yet, as to the assertions
contained in it, I challenge this author to take and allow the
ordinary, usual sense of the words, with the open design of them,
and to answer them when he can. And, 3. In the meantime I appeal
unto every indifferent reader whether the mere perusal of this whole
passage do not cast this man's futilous cavils out of all
consideration? So that I shall only content myself with very few
remarks upon them: -
    1. Upon my asserting the necessity of good works, he adds, "A
very suspicious word; which, methinks, these men should be afraid to
name." And why so? We do acknowledge that we do not seek for
righteousness by the works of the law; we design not our personal
justification by them, nor to merit life or salvation; but retake
ourselves unto what even Bellarmine himself came to at last as the
safest retreat, - namely, the merits and righteousness of Christ:
but for attendance unto them, performance of them, and fruitfulness
in them, we are not afraid nor ashamed at any time to enter into
judgement with them by whom we are traduced. And as I have nothing
to say unto this author, who is known unto me only by that
portraiture and character which he has given of himself in this
book; which I could have wished, for his own sake, had been drawn
with a mixture of more lines of truth and modesty: so I know there
are not a few who, in the course of a vain, worldly conversation,
whilst there is scarce a back or belly of a disciple of Christ that
blesseth God upon the account of their bounty or charity (the
footsteps of levity, vanity, scurrility, and profaneness, being,
moreover, left upon all the paths of their haunt), are wont to
declaim about holiness, good works, and justification by them; which
is a ready way to instruct men to atheism, or the scorn of every
thing that is professed in religion. But yet, 2. He shows how
impotent and impertinent our arguments are for the proof of the
necessity of holiness. And as to the first of them, from the
commands of God, he saith, "That if, after all these commands, God
has left it indifferent whether we obey him or no, I hope such
commands cannot make obedience necessary." Wonderful divinity! A man
must needs be well acquainted with God and himself who can suppose
that any of his commands shall leave it indifferent, whether we will
obey them or no. Yea, "But will he damn men if they do not obey his
commands for holiness?" Yes, yes; no doubt he will do so. Yea, "But
we may be, notwithstanding this command, justified and saved without
this holiness." False and impertinent: we are neither justified nor
saved without them, though we are not justified by them, nor saved
for them.
    Unto my enforcement of the necessity of holiness from the ends
of God in election and redemption, he replies, p. 127, "The Father
has elected us to be holy, and the Son redeemed us to be holy; but
will the Father elect and the Son redeem none but those who are
holy, and reject and reprobate all others? Does this election and
redemption suppose holiness in us, or is it without any regard to
it? For if we be elected and redeemed without any regard unto our
own being holy, our election and redemption is secure, whether we be
holy or not." Wonderful divinity again! Election and redemption
suppose holiness in us! We are elected and redeemed with regard unto
our own holiness that is, antecedently unto our election and
redemption; for holiness being the effect and fruit of them, is that
which he opposeth. Not many pages after this, he falls into a great
admiration of the catechism of the church of England, which none
blamed that I know of, as to what is contained in it. But it were to
be wished that he had been well instructed in some others, that he
might not have divulged and obtruded on the world such crude and
palpable mistakes. For this respect of redemption, at least, unto an
antecedent holiness in us (that is, antecedent unto it), is such a
piece of foppery in religion, as a man would wonder how any one
could be guilty of, who has almost "pored out his eyes" in reading
the Scripture. All the remaining cavils of this chapter are but the
effects of the like fulsome ignorance; for out of some passages,
scraped together from several parts of my discourse (and those not
only cut off from their proper scope and end, which is not mentioned
by him at all, but also mangled in their representation), he would
frame the appearance of a contradiction between what I say on the
one hand, that there is no peace with God to be obtained by and for
sinners but by the atonement that is made for them in the blood of
Jesus Christ, with the remission of sin and justification by faith
which ensue thereon (which I hope I shall not live to hear denied by
the church of England), and the necessity of holiness and
fruitfulness in obedience, to maintain in our own souls a sense of
that peace with God which we have, being justified by faith. And he
who understands not the consistency of those things, has little
reason to despise good catechisms, whatever thoughts he has had of
his own sufficiency.
    The whole design of what remains of this section, is to
insinuate that there can be no necessity of holiness or obedience
unto God, unless we are justified and saved thereby; which I knew
not before to have been, nor indeed do yet know it to be, the
doctrine of the church of England. But be it whose it will, I am
sure it is not that of the Scripture, and I have so disproved it in
other discourses, which this man may now see if he please, as that I
shall not here again reassume the same argument; and although I am
weary of consulting this woeful mixture of disingenuity and
ignorance, yet I shall remark somewhat on one or two passages more,
and leave him, if he please, unto a due apprehension, that what
remains is unanswerable scoffing.
    The first is that of p. 131. "But, however, holiness is
necessary with respect to sanctification: 'We have in us a new
creature, 2 Cor. 5: 17. This new creature is fed, cherished,
nourished, and kept alive, by the fruits of holiness. To what end
has God given us new hearts, and new natures? Is it that we should
kill them, stifle the creature that is found in us in the womb? that
we should give him to the old man to be devoured?' The phrase of
this is admirable, and the reasoning unanswerable; for if men be new
creatures, they will certainly live new lives, and this makes
holiness absolutely necessary, by the same reason that every thing
necessarily is what it is: but still we inquire after a necessary
obligation to the practice of holiness, and that we cannot yet
discover."
    The reader will see easily how this is picked out of the whole
discourse, as that which he imagined would yield some advantage to
reflect upon; for, let him pretend what he please to the contrary,
he has laid this end too open to be denied; and I am no way
solicitous what will be his success therein. Had he aimed at the
discovery of truth, he ought to have examined the whole of the
discourse, and not thus have rent one piece of it from the other. As
to the phrase of speech which I use, it is, I acknowledge,
metaphorical; but yet, being used only in a popular way of
instruction, is sufficiently warranted from the Scripture, which
administers occasion and gives countenance unto every expression in
it, the whole being full well understood by those who are exercised
in the life of God. And for the reasoning of it, it is such as I
know this man cannot answer: for the new creature, however he may
fancy, is not a new conversation, nor a living homily; but it is the
principle, and spiritual ability, produced in believers by the power
and grace of the Holy Ghost, enabling them to walk in newness of
life and holiness of conversation. And this principle being bestowed
on us, wrought in us, for that very end, it is necessary for us,
unless we will neglect and despise the grace which we have received,
that we walk in holiness, and abound in the fruits of righteousness,
whereunto it leads and tends. Let him answer this if he can, and
when he has done so, answer the apostle in like manner; or scoff not
only at me, but at him also.
    The last passage I shall remark upon in this section is what he
gives us as the sum of the whole. P. 135, "The sum of all is, that
to know Christ is not to be thus acquainted with his person, but to
understand his gospel in its full latitude and extent; it is not the
person, but the gospel of Christ which is the way, the truth, and
the life, which directs us in the way to life and happiness. And
again, this acquaintance with Christ's person, which these men
pretend to, is only a work of fancy, and teaches men the arts of
hypocrisy," etc.
    I do not know that ever I met with any thing thus crudely
asserted among the Quakers, in contempt of the person of Christ; for
whereas he says of himself expressly, "I am the way, the truth, and
the life," to say he is not so (for Jesus Christ is his person, and
nothing else), carries in it a bold contradiction, both parts of
which cannot be true. When the subject of a proposition is owned,
there may be great controversy about the sense of the predicate; as
when Christ says he is the vine: there may be so also about the
subject of a proposition, when the expression is of a third thing,
and dubious; as where Christ says, "This is my body:" but when the
person speaking is the subject, and speaks of himself, to deny what
he says, is to give him the lie. "I am the way, the truth, and the
life," saith Christ; - "He is not," saith our author, "but the
gospel is so." If he had allowed our Lord Jesus Christ to have
spoken the truth, but only to have added, "Though he was so, yet he
was so no otherwise but by the gospel," there had been somewhat of
modesty in the expression; but this saying, that the "person of
Christ is not, - the gospel is so," is intolerable. It is so,
however, that this young man, without consulting or despising the
exposition of all divines, ancient or modern, and the common sense
of all Christians, should dare to obtrude his crude and undigested
conceptions upon so great a word of Christ himself, countenanced
only by the corrupt and false glosses of some obscure Socinians:
which some or other may possibly in due time mind him of; I have
other work to do.
    But according to his exposition of this heavenly oracle, what
shall any one imagine to be the sense of the context, where "I," and
"me," spoken of Christ, do so often occur? Suppose that the words of
that whole verse, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man
comes to the Father but by me," have this sense, - not Christ
himself is the way, the truth, and the life, but the gospel; "No man
comes to the Father but by me;" that is, not by me, but by "the
gospel," must not all the expressions of the same nature in the
context have the same exposition? as namely, verse 1, "Ye believe in
God, believe also in me;" that is, not in me but in "the gospel;" -
"I go to prepare a place for you;" that is, not I do so, but "the
gospel;" verse 3, "I will come again and receive you to myself;"
that is, not I, but "the gospel" will do so; and so of all other
things which Christ in that place seems to speak of himself. If this
be his way of interpreting Scripture, I wonder not that he blames
others for their defect and miscarriages therein.
    When I first considered these two last sections, I did not
suspect but that he had at least truly represented my words, which
he thought meet to reflect upon and scoff at; as knowing how easy it
was for any one whose conscience would give him a dispensation for
such an undertaking, to pick out sayings and expressions from the
most innocent discourse, and odiously to propose them, as cut off
from their proper coherence, and under a concealment of the end and
the principal sense designed in them. Wherefore I did not so much as
read over the discourse excepted against; only, once or twice
observing my words, as quoted by him, not directly to comply with
what I knew to be my sense and intention, I turned unto the
particular places to discover his prevarication. But having gone
through this ungrateful task, I took the pains to read over the
whole digression in my book, which his exceptions are levelled
against; and, upon my review of it, my admiration of his dealing was
not a little increased. I cannot, therefore, but desire of the most
partial adherers unto this censurer of other men's labours,
judgements, and expressions, but once to read over that discourse,
and if they own themselves to be Christians, I shall submit the
whole of it, with the consideration of his reflections upon it, unto
their judgements. If they refuse so to do, I let them know I despise
their censures, and do look on the satisfaction they take in this
man's scoffing reflections as the laughter of fools, or the
crackling of thorns under a pot. For those who will be at so much
pains to undeceive themselves, they will find that that expression
of the "person of Christ" is but once or twice used in all that long
discourse, and that occasionally; which, by the outcries here made
against it, any one would suppose to have filled up almost all the
pages of it. He will find, also, that I have owned and declared the
revelation that God has made of himself, the properties of his
nature, and his will, in his works of creation and providence, in
its full extent and efficacy; and that by the knowledge of God in
Christ, which I so much insist upon, I openly, plainly, and
declaredly, intend nothing but the declaration that God has made of
himself in Jesus Christ by the gospel: whereof the knowledge of his
person, the great mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh,
with what he did and suffered as the mediator between God and man,
is the chiefest instance; in which knowledge consisteth all our
wisdom of living unto God. Hereon I have no more to add, but that he
by whom these things are denied or derided, does openly renounce his
Christianity. And that I do not lay this unto the charge of this
doughty writer, is because I am satisfied that he has not done it
out of any such design, but partly out of ignorance of the things
which he undertakes to write about, and partly to satisfy the
malevolence of himself and some others against my person: which sort
of depraved affections, where men give up themselves unto their
prevalence, will blind the eyes and pervert the judgements of
persons as wise as he.
    In the first section of his fourth chapter I am not
particularly concerned; and whilst he only vents his own conceits,
be they never so idle or atheological, I shall never trouble myself,
either with their examination or confutation. So many as he can
persuade to be of his mind, - that we have no union with Christ but
by virtue of union with the church (the contrary whereof is
absolutely true); that Christ is so a head of rule and government
unto the church, as that he is not a head of influence and supplies
of spiritual life (contrary to the faith of the catholic church in
all ages); that these assertions of his have any countenance from
antiquity, or the least from the passages quoted out of Chrysostom
by himself; that his glosses upon many texts of Scripture (which
have an admirable coincidence with those of two other persons whom I
shall name when occasion requires it) are sufficient to affix upon
them the sense which he pleads for, will many other things of an
equal falsehood and impertinency wherewith this section is stuffed,
- shall, without any farther trouble from me, be left to follow
their own inclinations. But yet, not withstanding all the great
pains he has taken to instruct us in the nature of the union between
Christ and believers, I shall take leave to prefer that given by Mr
Hooker before it, not only as more true and agreeable unto the
Scripture, but also as better expressing the doctrine of the church
of England in this matter. And if these things please the present
rulers of the church, - wherein upon the matter Christ is shuffled
off, and the whole of our spiritual union is resolved into the
doctrine of the gospel, and the rule of the church by bishops and
pastors, let it imply what contradiction it will, as it does the
highest, seeing it is by the doctrine of the gospel that we are
taught our union will Christ, and his rule of the church by his laws
and Spirit, - I have only the advantage to know somewhat more than I
did formerly, though not much to my satisfaction.
    But he that shall consider what reflections are cast in this
discourse on the necessity of satisfaction to be made unto divine
justice, and from whom they are borrowed; the miserable, weak
attempt that is made therein to reduce all Christ's mediatory acting
unto his kingly office, and, in particular, his intercession; the
faint mention that is made of the satisfaction of Christ, clogged
with the addition of ignorance of the philosophy of it, as it is
called, well enough complying with them who grant that the Lord
Christ did what God was satisfied withal, with sundry other things
of the like nature; will not be to seek whence these things come,
nor whither they are going, nor to whom our author is beholden for
most of his rare notions; which it is an easy thing at any time to
acquaint him withal.
    The second section of this chapter is filled principally with
exceptions against my discourse about the personal excellencies of
Christ as mediator; if I may not rather say, with the reflections on
the glory of Christ himself. [As] for my own discourse upon it, I
acknowledge it to be weak, and not only inconceivably beneath the
dignity and merit of the subject, but also far short of what is
taught and delivered by many ancient writers of the church unto that
purpose; and [as] for his exceptions, they are such a composition of
ignorance and spite as is hardly to be paralleled. His entrance upon
his work is (p. 200) as followeth: - "Secondly, Let us inquire what
they mean by the person of Christ, to which believers must be
united. And here they have outdone all the metaphysical subtilties
of Suarez, and have found out a person for Christ distinct from his
Godhead and manhood; for there can he no other sense made of what Dr
Owen tells us, - that by the 'graces of his person' he does not mean
the 'glorious excellencies of his Deity considered in itself,
abstracting from the office which for us, as God and man, he
undertook; nor the outward appearance of his human nature, when he
conversed here on earth, nor yet as now exalted in glory: but the
graces of the person of Christ, as he is vested with the office of
mediation, - his spiritual eminency, comeliness, beauty, as
appointed and anointed by the Father unto that great work of
bringing home all his elect into his bosom.' Now, unless the person
of Christ as mediator be distinct from his person as God-man, all
this is idle talk; for what personal graces are there in Christ as
mediator which do not belong to him either as God or man? There are
some things, indeed, which our Saviour did and suffered, which he
was not obliged to, either as God or man, but as mediator; but
surely he will not call the peculiar duties and actions of an office
personal graces."
    I have now learned not to trust unto the honesty and ingenuity
of our author, as to his quotations out of my book; which I find
that he has here mangled and altered, as in other places, and shall
therefore transcribe the whole passage in my own words, p. 51: "It
is Christ as mediator of whom we speak; and therefore, by the 'grace
of his person,' I understand not, first, The glorious excellencies
of his Deity considered in itself, abstracting from the office which
for us, as God and man, he undertook; nor, secondly, The outward
appearance of his human nature, neither when he conversed here on
earth, bearing our infirmities (whereof, by reason of the charge
that was laid upon him, the prophet gives quite another character,
Isa. 52: 14), concerning which some of the ancients are very
poetical in their expressions; nor yet as now exalted in glory; - a
vain imagination whereof makes many bear a false, a corrupted
respect unto Christ, even upon carnal apprehensions of the mighty
exaltation of the human nature; which is but to 'know Christ after
the flesh,' - a mischief much improved by the abomination of foolish
imagery. But this is that which I intend, - the graces of the person
of Christ as he is vested with the office of mediation, his
spiritual eminency, comeliness, and beauty, etc. Now, in this
respect the Scripture describes him as exceeding excellent, comely,
and desirable, - far above comparison with the chiefest, choicest
created good, or any endearment imaginable;" which I prove at large
from Ps. 45: 2; Isa. 4: 2; Cant. 5: 9, adding an explanation of the
whole.
    In the digression, some passages whereof he carps at in this
section, my design was to declare, as was said, somewhat of the
glory of the person of Christ. To this end I considered both the
glory of his divine and the many excellencies of his human nature;
but that which I principally insisted on was the excellency of his
person as God and man in one, whereby he was meet and able to be the
mediator between God and man, and to effect all the great and
blessed ends of his mediation. That our Lord Jesus Christ was God,
and that there were, on that account, in his person the essential
excellencies and properties of the divine nature, I suppose he will
not deny; nor will he do so that he was truly man, and that his
human nature was endowed with many glorious graces and excellencies
which are peculiar thereunto. That there is a distinct consideration
of his person as both these natures are united therein, is that
which he seems to have a mind to except against. And is it meet that
any one who has aught else to do should spend any moments of that
time which he knows how better to improve, in the pursuit of a man's
impertinencies, who is so bewildered in his own ignorance and
confidence, that he knows neither where he is nor what he says? Did
not the Son of God, by assuming our human nature, continuing what he
was, become what he was not? Was not the person of Christ, by the
communication of the properties of each nature in it and to it, a
principle of such operations as he could not have wrought either as
God or mere, separately considered? How else did God "redeem his
church with his own blood?" or how is that true which he says, John
3: 13, "And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down
from heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven?" Was not the
union of the two natures in the same person (which was a property
neither of the divine nor human nature, but a distinct ineffable
effect of divine condescension, wisdom, and grace, which the
ancients unanimously call the "grace of union," whose subject is the
person of Christ) that whereby he was fit, meet, and able, for all
the works of his mediation? Does not the Scripture, moreover,
propose unto our faith and consolation the glory, power, and grace
of the person of Christ as he is "God over all, blessed for ever;"
and his love, sympathy, care and compassion as man; yet all acting
themselves in the one and self same person of the Son of God? Let
him read the first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and see
what account he can give thereof. And are not these such principles
of Christian religion as no man ought to be ignorant of, or can
deny, without the guilt of the heresies condemned in the first
general councils? And they are no other principles which my whole
discourse excepted against does proceed upon. But saith our author,
"Unless the person of Christ as mediator be distinct from his person
as God-man, all this is idle talk." Very good! and why so? Why,
"What personal graces are there in Christ as mediator, which do not
belong unto him either as God or man?" But is he not ashamed of this
ignorance? Is it not a personal grace and excellency that he is God
and man in one person? which belongs not to him either as God or
man. And are there not personal operations innumerable depending
hereon, which could not have been wrought by him either as God or
man; as raising himself from the dead by his own power, and
redeeming the church with his blood? Are not most of the
descriptions that are given us of Christ in the Scripture, most of
the operations which are assigned unto him, such as neither belong
unto nor proceed from the divine or human nature, separately
considered, but from the person of Christ, as both these natures are
united in it? That which seems to have led him into the maze wherein
he is bewildered in his ensuing discourse, is, that considering
there are but two natures in Christ, the divine and the human, - and
nature is the principle of all operations, - he supposed that
nothing could be said of Christ, nothing ascribed to his person, but
what was directly, formally predicated of one of his natures,
distinctly considered. But he might have easily inquired of himself,
- that seeing all the properties and acts of the divine nature are
absolutely divine, and all those of the human nature absolutely
human, whence it came to pass that all the operations and works of
Christ, as mediator, are theandrical? Although there be nothing in
the person of Christ but his divine and human nature, yet the person
of Christ is neither his divine nature nor his human; for the human
nature is, and ever was, of itself, "anupostatos"; and the divine,
to the complete constitution of the person of the Mediator, in and
unto its own hypostasis assumed the human: so that, although every
energy or operation be "drastike tes fuseos kinesis", and so the
distinct natures are distinct principles of Christ's operations, yet
his person is the principal or only agent; which being God-man, all
the actions thereof, by virtue of the communication of the
properties of both natures therein, are theandrical. And the
excellency of this person of Christ, wherein he was every way fitted
for the work of mediation, I call sometimes his personal grace, and
will not go to him to learn to speak and express myself in these
things. And it is most false which he affirms, p. 203, "That I
distinguish the graces of Christ's person as mediator from the
graces of his person as God and man." Neither could any man have run
into such an imagination who had competently understood the things
which he speaks about; and the bare proposal of these things is
enough to defeat the design of all his ensuing cavils and
exceptions.
    And as to what he closets withal, that "Surely I will not call
the peculiar duties and actions of an office personal graces;" I
suppose that he knoweth not well what he intends thereby. Whatever
he has fancied about Christ being the name of an office, Jesus
Christ, of whom we speak, is a person, and not an office; and there
are no such things in rerum natura as the actions of an office. And
if by them he intends the actions of a person in the discharge of an
office, whatever he calls them, I will call the habits in Christ,
from whence all his actions in the performance of his office do
proceed, "personal graces," and that whether he will or no. So he is
a "merciful, faithful, and compassionate high priest," Heb. 2: 17,
4: 15, 5: 2. And all his actions, in the discharge of his office of
priesthood, being principled and regulated by those qualifications,
I do call them his personal graces, and do hope that, for the
future, I may obtain his leave so to do. The like may be said of his
other offices.
    The discourse which he thus raves against is didactical, and
accommodated unto a popular way of instruction; and it has been
hitherto the common ingenuity of all learned men to give an
allowance unto such discourses, so as not to exact from them an
accuracy and propriety in expressions, such as is required in those
that are scholastical or polemical. It is that which, by common
consent, is allowed to the tractates of the ancients of that nature,
- especially where nothing is taught but what, for the substance of
it, is consonant unto the truth. But this man attempts not only a
severity in nibbling at all expressions which he fancieth liable
unto his censures, but, with a disingenuous artifice, waiving the
tenor and process of the discourse, which I presume he found not
himself able to oppose, he takes out, sometimes here, sometimes
there, up and down, backward and forward, at his pleasure, what he
will, to put, if it be possible, an ill sense upon the whole. And,
if he have not hereby given a sufficient discovery of his good-will
towards the doing of somewhat to my disadvantage, he has failed in
his whole endeavour; for there is no expression which he has fixed
on as the subject of his reflections, which is truly mine, but that
as it is used by me, and with respect unto its end, I will defend it
against him and all his co-partners, whilst the Scripture may be
allowed to be the rule and measure of our conceptions and
expressions about sacred things. And although at present I am
utterly wearied with the consideration of such sad trifling, I shall
accept from him the kindness of an obligation to so much patience as
is necessary unto the perusal of the ensuing leaves, wherein I am
concerned.
    First, p. 202, he would pick something, if he knew what, out of
my quotations of Cant. 5: 9, to express or illustrate the excellency
of Christ; which first he calls an "excellent proof," by way of
scorn. But as it is far from being the only proof produced in the
confirmation of the same truth, and is applied rather to illustrate
what was spoken, than to prove it, yet, by his favour, I shall make
bold to continue my apprehensions of the occasional exposition of
the words which I have given in that place, until he is pleased to
acquaint me with a better; which, I suppose, will be long enough.
For what he adds, - "But, however, white and ruddy belong to his
divine and human nature, and that without regard to his mediatory
office; for he had been white in the glory of his Deity, and ruddy
with the red earth of his humanity, whether he had been considered
as mediator or not," - it comes from the same spring of skill and
benevolence with those store. For what wise talk is it, of Christ's
being God and man, without the consideration of his being mediator!
as though he were ever, or ever should have been, God and man, but
with respect unto his mediation? His scoff at the red earth of
Christ's humanity, represented as my words, is grounded upon a
palpable falsification; for my words are, "He was also ruddy in the
beauty of his humanity. Man was called Adam, from the red earth
whereof he was made. The word here used points him out as the second
Adam, partaker of flesh and blood, because the children also partook
of the same." And if he be displeased with these expressions, let
him take his own time to be pleased again; it is that wherein I am
not concerned. But my fault, which so highly deserved his
correction, is, that I apply that to the person of Christ which
belongs unto his natures. But what if I say no such thing, or had no
such design in that place? For although I do maintain a distinct
consideration of the excellency of Christ's person, as comprising
both his natures united, - though every real thing in his person
belongs forma]ly and radically unto one [or other] of the natures
(those other excellencies being the exurgency of their union),
whereby his person was fitted and suited unto his mediatory
operations, which in neither nature, singly considered, he could
have performed, - and shall continue to maintain it against
whosoever dares directly to oppose it; yet in this place I intended
it not, which this man knew well enough, - the very next words unto
what he pretends to prove it [by], being, "The beauty and comeliness
of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the union of both these in one person,
shall afterward be declared." And so we have an equality in
judgement and ingenuity throughout this censure.
    Hence he leaps to p. 64 of my book, thence backwards to p. 53,
and then up and down, I know not how nor whither. He begins with p.
64 - "And in his first digression concerning the excellency of
Christ Jesus, to invite us to communion with him in a conjugal
relation, he tells us that Christ is exceeding excellent and
desirable in his Deity, and the glory thereof; he is desirable and
worthy our acceptation as considered in his humanity, in his freedom
from sin, fulness of grace, etc. Now, though this looks very like a
contradiction, that by the graces of his person, he meant neither
the excellencies of his divine nor human nature; yet he has a salvo
which will deliver him both from contradiction and from nonsense, -
that he does not consider these excellencies of his Deity or
humanity as abstracted from his office of mediator, though he might
if he pleased: for he considers those excellencies which are not
peculiar to the office of mediation, but which would have belonged
unto him as God and man, whether he had been mediator or not. But
what becomes of his distinction of the graces of Christ's person as
mediator from the graces of his person as God and man, when there
are no personal graces in Christ but what belong to his Deity or his
humanity?"
    I am sufficiently satisfied that he neither knows where he is
nor what he does, or has no due comprehension of the things he
treats about. That which he opposeth, if he intend to oppose any
thing by me asserted, is, that whereas Christ is God, the essential
properties of his divine nature are to be considered as the formal
motive unto, and object of, faith, love, and obedience; and whereas
he is man also, his excellencies, in the glorious endowment of his
human nature, with his alliance unto us therein, and his furniture
of grace for the discharge of his office, are proposed unto our
faith and love in the Scripture. And of these things we ought to
take a distinct consideration; our faith concerning them being not
only taught in the Scripture, but fully confirmed in the confessions
and determinations of the primitive church. But the person of
Christ, wherein these two natures are united, is of another distinct
consideration; and such things are spoken thereof as cannot, under
any single enunciation, be ascribed unto either nature, though
nothing be so but what formally belongs unto one of them, or is the
necessary consequent and exurgency of their union. See Isa. 9: 6; 1
Tim. 3: 16; John 1: 14. It is of the "glory of the Word of God made
flesh" that I discourse. But this man talks of what would have
belonged to Christ as God-man, whether he had been mediator or not;
as though the Son of God either was, or was ever designed to be, or
can be, considered as God-man, and not as mediator. And thence he
would relieve himself by the calumny of assigning a distinction unto
me between the graces of Christ's person as mediator, and the graces
of his person as God and man (that is, one person); which is a mere
figment of his own misunderstanding. Upon the whole, he comes to
that accurate thesis of his own, - that there are no personal graces
in Christ but what belong to his Deity or humanity. Personal graces
belonging unto the humanity, or human nature of Christ, - that
nature being "anupostatos", or such as has no personal subsistence
of its own, - is a notion that those may thank him for who have a
mind to do it. And he may do well to consider what his thoughts are
of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, mentioned Phil. 2: 6-11.
    But he will now discover the design of all these things, and
afterward make it good by quotations out of my book. The first he
does, p. 203, and onwards: "But whatever becomes of the sense of the
distinction, there is a very deep fetch in it, the observing of
which will discover the whole mystery of the person of Christ and
our union to him. For these men consider that Christ saves us as he
is our mediator, and not merely considered as God or man; and they
imagine that we receive grace and salvation from Christ's person
just as we do water out of a conduit, or a gift and largess from a
prince, - that it flows to us from our union to his person; and
therefore they dress up the person of the Mediator with all those
personal excellencies and graces which may make him a fit Saviour,
that those who are thus united to his person (of which more in the
next section) need not fear missing of salvation. Hence they ransack
all the boundless perfections of the Deity, and whatever they can
find or fancy speaks any comfort to sinners, this is presently a
personal grace of the Mediator; - they consider all the glorious
effects of his mediation; and whatever great things are spoken of
his gospel, or religion, or intercession for us, these serve as
personal graces: so that all our hopes may be built, not on the
gospel covenant, but on the person of Christ. So that the dispute
now lies between the person of Christ and his gospel, - which must
be the foundation of our hope, - which is the way to life and
happiness"
    First, We do consider and believe that Christ saves as a
mediator; that is, as God and man in one person, exercising the
office of a mediator, and not merely as God or man. This we believe
with all the catholic church of Christ, and can with boldness say,
He that does not so, let him be anathema maran-atha. Secondly, We do
not imagine, but believe from the Scripture, and with the whole
church of God, that we receive grace and salvation from the person
of Christ in those distinct ways wherein they are capable of being
received; and let him be anathema who believes otherwise. Only,
whether his putting of grace and salvation into the same way of
reception belong unto his accuracy in expressing his own sentiments,
or his ingenuity in the representation of other men's words, I leave
undetermined. The similitudes he useth to express our faith in these
things, show his good-will towards scoffing and profaneness. We say,
there is real communication of grace from the person of Christ, as
the head of the church, unto all the members of his mystical body by
his Spirit, whereby they are quickened, sanctified, and enabled unto
all holy obedience: and, if it be denied by him, he stands
anathematised by sundry councils of the ancient church. We say not,
that we receive it as "water out of a conduit," which is of a
limited, determined capacity; whereas we say, the person of Christ,
by reason of his Deity, is an immense, eternal, living spring or
fountain of all grace. And when God calls himself a "fountain of
living water;" and the Lord Christ calls his Spirit communicated to
believers "living water" (under which appellation he was frequently
promised in the Old Testament); as also the grace and mercy of the
gospel, the "water of life," inviting us to receive them, and to
drink of them, this author may be advised to take heed of profane
scoffing at these things. Whether any have said, that we receive
grace and salvation from Christ, as "a gift or largess from a
prince," I know not; if they have, the sole defect therein is, that
the allusion does no way sufficiently set forth the freedom and
bounty of Christ in the communication of them unto sinners; and
wherein else it offends, let him soberly declare, if he can. This is
the charge upon us in point of faith and judgement; which, in one
word, amounts to no more but this, - that we are Christians: and so,
by the grace of God, we intend to continue, let this man deride us
whilst he pleaseth. Thirdly, His next charge concerns our practice
in the pursuit of these dreadful principles, which, by their
repetition, he has exposed to scorn: "And therefore they dress up,"
etc. What does this poor man intend? what is the design of all this
profaneness? The declaration of the natures and person of Christ, -
of his grace and work, - the ascribing unto him what is directly and
expressly in terms ascribed unto him in the Scripture, or relating,
as we are able, the description it gives of him, - is here called,
"Dressing up the person of the Mediator with all those personal
graces that may make him a fit Saviour." The preparation of the
person of Christ to be a fit and meet Saviour for sinners, which he
profanely compares to the dressing up of -, is the greatest, most
glorious, and admirable effect that ever infinite wisdom, goodness,
power, and love wrought and produced, or will do so unto eternity.
And those on whom he reflects design nothing, do nothing in this
matter, but only endeavour, according to the measure of the gift of
Christ which they have received, to declare and explain what is
revealed and taught in the Scripture thereof; and those who exceed
the bounds of Scripture revelation herein (if any do so) we do
abhor. And as for those who are united unto Christ, although we say
not that they need not fear missing of salvation, seeing they are to
be brought unto it, not only through the exercise of all graces,
whereof fear is one, but also through such trials and temptations as
will always give them a fear of heed and diligence, and sometimes
such a fear of the event of things as shall combat their faith, and
shake its firmest resolves; yet we fear not to say, that those who
are really united unto Jesus Christ shall be assuredly saved; which
I have proved elsewhere beyond the fear of any opposition from this
author, or others like minded. Fourthly, He adds "Hence they
ransack," etc. But what is the meaning of these expressions? Does
not the Scripture declare that Christ is God as well as man? Does it
not build all our faith, obedience, and salvation on that
consideration? Are not the properties of the divine nature
everywhere in the Scripture declared and proposed unto us for the in
generating and establishing faith in us, and to be the object of,
and exercise of, all grace and obedience? And is it now become a
crime that any should seek to declare and instruct others in these
things from the Scripture, and to the same end for which they are
therein revealed? Is this, with any evidence of sobriety, to be
traduced as a "ransacking the boundless perfections of the divine
nature, to dress up the person of the Mediator"? Is he a Christian,
or does he deserve that name, who condemns or despiseth the
consideration of the properties of the divine nature in the person
of Christ (see Isa. 6: 1-4; John 12: 41; Isa. 9: 6; John 1: 14;
Phil. 2: 6, etc.), or shall think that the grace or excellencies of
his person do not principally consist in them, as the human nature
is united thereunto? Fifthly, "They consider all the glorious
effects of his mediation." All the effects of Christ's mediation, -
all the things that are spoken of the gospel, etc., do all of them
declare the excellency of the person of Christ, as effects declare
their cause, and may and ought to be considered unto that end, as
occasion does require; and no otherwise are they considered by those
whom he does oppose. Sixthly, But the end of these strange
principles and practices, he tells us, is, "That all our hopes may
be built, not on the gospel covenant, but on the person of Christ."
But I say again, What is it that this man intends? What is become of
a common regard to God and man? Who do so build their hopes on
Christ as to reject or despise the gospel covenant, as he calls it?
- though I am afraid, should he come to explain himself, he will be
at a loss about the true nature of the gospel covenant, as I find
him to be about the person and grace of Christ. He telleth us,
indeed, that "Not the person of Christ, but the gospel, is the way."
Did we ever say, "Not the covenant of grace, but the person of
Christ is all we regard?" But whence comes this causeless fear and
jealousy, - or rather, this evil surmise, that if any endeavour to
exalt the person of Christ, immediately the covenant of the gospel
(that is, in truth, the covenant which is declared in the gospel)
must be discarded? Is there an inconsistency between Christ and the
covenant? I never met with any who was so fearful and jealous lest
too much should be ascribed in the matter of our salvation to Jesus
Christ; and when there is no more so, but what the Scripture does
expressly and in words assign unto him and affirm of him, instantly
we have an outcry that the gospel and the covenant are rejected, and
that a "dispute lies between the person of Christ and his gospel."
But let him not trouble himself; for as he cannot, and as he knows
he cannot, produce any one word or one syllable out of any writings
of mine, that should derogate any thing from the excellency, nature,
necessity, or use of the new covenant; so, though it may be he do
not, and does therefore fancy and dream of disputes between Christ
and the gospel, we do know how to respect both the person of Christ
and the covenant, - both Jesus Christ and the gospel, in their
proper places. And in particular, we do know, that as it is the
person of Christ who is the author of the gospel, and who as
mediator in his work of mediation gives life, and efficacy, and
establishment unto the covenant of grace; so both the gospel and
that covenant do declare the glory and design the exaltation of
Jesus Christ himself. Speaking, therefore, comparatively, all our
hopes are built on Jesus Christ, who alone fills all things; yet
also we have our hopes in God, through the covenant declared in the
gospel, as the way designing the rule of our obedience, securing our
acceptance and reward. And to deal as gently as I can warrant myself
to do with this writer, the dispute he mentions between the person
of Christ and the gospel, which shall be the foundation of our hope,
is only in his own fond imagination, distempered by disingenuity and
malevolence. For, if I should charge what the appearance of his
expressions will well bear, what he says seems to be out of a
design, influenced by ignorance or heresy, to exclude Jesus Christ,
God and man, from being the principal foundation of the church, and
which all its hopes are built upon. This being the sum of his
charge, I hope he will fully prove it in the quotations from my
discourse, which he now sets himself to produce; assuring him that
if he do not, but come short therein, setting aside his odious and
foppish profane deductions, I do aver them all in plain terms, that
he may, on his next occasion of writing, save his labour in
searching after what he may oppose. Thus, therefore, he proceeds, p.
205: -
    "To make this appear, I shall consider that account which Dr
Owen gives us of the personal graces and excellencies of Christ,
which in general consist in three things: - First, His fitness to
save, from the grace of union, and the proper and necessary effects
thereof. Secondly, His fulness to save, from the grace of communion,
or the free consequences of the grace of union. And, thirdly, His
excellency to endear, from his complete suitableness to all the
wants of the souls of men. First, That he is fit to be a Saviour,
from the grace of union. And if you will understand what this
strange grace of union is, it is the uniting the nature of God and
man in one person, which makes him fit to be a Saviour to the
uttermost. He lays his hand upon God, by partaking of his nature;
and he lays his hand on us, by partaking of our nature: and so
becomes a days-man or umpire between both. Now, though this be a
great truth, that the union of the divine and human nature in Christ
did excellently qualify him for the office of a mediator, yet this
is the unhappiest man in expressing and proving it that I have met
with. For what an untoward representation is this of Christ's
mediation, that he came to make peace by laying his hands on God and
men, as if he came to part a fray or scuffle: and he might as well
have named Gen. 1: 1, or Matt. 1: 1, or any other place of
Scripture, for the proof of it, as those he mentions."
    To what end it is that he cites these passages out of my
discourse is somewhat difficult to divine. Himself confesseth that
what is asserted (at least in one of them) is a great truth, only, I
am "the unhappiest man in expressing and proving it that ever he met
with." It is evident enough to me, that he has not met with many who
have treated of this subject, or has little understood those he has
met withal; so that there may be yet some behind as unhappy as
myself. And seeing he has so good a leisure from other occasions, as
to spend his time in telling the world how unhappy I am in my
proving and expressing of what himself acknowledgeth to be true, he
may be pleased to take notice, that I am now sensible of my own
unhappiness also, in having fallen under a diversion from better
employments by such sad and woeful impertinencies. But being at once
charged with both these misadventures, - untowardness in expression,
and weakness in the proof of a plain truth, I shall willingly admit
of information, to mend my way of writing for the future. And the
first reflection he casts on my expressions, is my calling the union
of the two natures in Christ in the same person, the "grace of
union;" for so he says, "If you would understand what this strange
grace of union is." But I crave his pardon in not complying with his
directions, for my company's sake. No man, who has once consulted
the writings of the ancients on this subject, can be a stranger unto
"charis henoseos", and "gratia unionis," they so continually occur
in the writings of all sorts of divines, both ancient and modern.
Yea but there is yet worse behind; for, "What an untoward
representation is this of Christ's mediation, that he came to make
peace by laying his hands on God and men, as if he came to part a
fray or scuffle." My words are, "The uniting of the natures of God
and man in one person, made him fit to be a Saviour to the
uttermost. He laid his hand upon God, by partaking of his nature,
Zech. 13: 7; and he lays his hand upon us, by partaking of our
nature, Heb 2: 14, 16: and so becomes a days-man or umpire between
both." See what it is to be adventurous. I doubt not but that he
thought that I had invented that expression, or at least, that I was
the first who ever applied it unto this interposition of Christ
between God and man; but as I took the words, and so my warranty for
the expression from the Scripture, Job 9: 33, so it has commonly
been applied by divines in the same manner, particularly by Bishop
Usher (in his "Emmanuel," pp. 8, 9, as I remember); whose
unhappiness in expressing himself in divinity this man needs not
much to bewail. But let my expressions be what they will, I shall
not escape the unhappiness and weakness of my proofs; for "I might,"
he says, "as well have quoted Gen. 1: 1, and Matt. 1: 1, for the
proof of the unity of the divine and human nature in the person of
Christ, and his fitness thence to be a Saviour, as those I named,"
namely, Zech. 13: 7; Heb. 2: 14, 16. Say you so? Why, then, I do
here undertake to maintain the personal union, and the fitness of
Christ from thence to be a Saviour, from these two texts, against
this man and all his fraternity in design. And at present I cannot
but wonder at his confidence, seeing I am sure he cannot be ignorant
that one of these places, at least, - namely, that of Heb. 2: 16, -
is as much, as frequently, as vehemently pleaded by all sorts of
divines, ancient and modern, to prove the assumption of our human
nature into personal subsistence with the Son of God, that so he
might be "hikanos" (fit and able to save us), as any one testimony
in the whole Scripture. And the same truth is as evidently contained
and expressed in the former, seeing no man could be the "fellow of
the LORD of hosts" but he that was partaker of the same nature with
him; and no one could have the sword of God upon him to smite him,
which was needful unto our salvation, but he that was partaker of
our nature, or man also. And the mere recital of these testimonies
was sufficient unto my purpose in that place, where I designed only
to declare, and not dispute the truth. If he yet think that I cannot
prove what I assert from these testimonies, let him consult my
"Vindicae Evangelicae," where, according as that work required, I
have directly pleaded these scriptures to the same purpose,
insisting at large on the vindication of one of them; and let him
answer what I have there pleaded, if he be able. And I shall allow
him to make his advantage unto that purpose, if he please, of
whatever evasions the Socinians have found out to escape the force
of that testimony. For there is none of them of any note but have
attempted by various artifices to shield their opinion, in denying
the assumption of our human nature into personal union with the Son
of God, and wherewithal his pre-existence unto his nativity of the
blessed Virgin, from the divine evidence given against it in that
place of Heb. 2: 16; which yet, if this author may be believed, does
make no more against them than Gen. 1: 1. Wherefore, this severe
censure, together with the modesty of the expression, wherein Christ
making peace between God and man is compared to the parting of a
fray or scuffle, may pass at the same rate and value with those
which are gone before.
    His ensuing pages are taken up, for the most part, with the
transcription of passages out of my discourse, raked together from
several places at his pleasure. I shall not impose the needless
labour on the reader of a third perusal of them: nor shall I take
the pains to restore the several passages to their proper place and
coherence, which he has rent them from, to try his skill and
strength upon them separately and apart; for I see not that they
stand in need of using the least of their own circumstantial
evidence in their vindication. I shall therefore only take notice of
his exceptions against them. And, p. 207, whereas I had said on some
occasion, that on such a supposition we could have supplies of grace
only in a moral way, it falls under his derision in his parenthesis;
and that is a very pitiful way indeed. But I must yet tell him, by
the way, that if he allow of no supplies of grace but in a moral
way, he is a Pelagian, and as such, stands condemned by the catholic
church. And when his occasions will permit it, I desire he would
answer what is written by myself in another discourse, in the
refutation of this sole moral operation of grace, and the assertion
of another way of the communication of it unto us. Leave fooling,
and "the unhappiest man in expressing himself that ever I met with"
will not do it; he must retake himself to another course, if he
intend to engage into the handling of things of this nature. He
adds, whereas I had said, "'The grace of the promises' (of the
person of Christ you mean):" I know well enough what I mean; but the
truth is, I know not well what he means; nor whether it be out of
ignorance that he does indeed fancy an opposition between Christ and
the promises, that what is ascribed unto the one must needs be
derogated from the other, when the promise is but the means and
instrument of conveying the grace of Christ unto us; or whether it
proceeds from a real dislike that the person of Christ - that is,
Jesus Christ himself - should be esteemed of any use or
consideration in religion, that he talks at this rate. But from
whence ever it proceeds, this cavilling humour is unworthy of any
man of ingenuity or learning. By his following parenthesis ("a world
of sin is something") I suppose I have somewhere used that
expression, whence it is reflected on; but he quotes not the place,
and I cannot find it. I shall therefore only at present tell him, as
(if I remember alight) I have done already, that I will not come to
him nor any of his companions to learn to express myself in these
things; and, moreover, that I despise their censures. The discourses
he is carping at in particular in this place are neither doctrinal
nor argumentative, but consist in the application of truths before
proved unto the minds and affections of men. And, as I said, I will
not come to him nor his fraternity to learn how to manage such a
subject, much less a logical and argumentative way of reasoning; nor
have I any inducement whereunto from any thing that as yet I have
seen in their writings. It also troubles him, p. 208, that whereas I
know how unsuited the best and most accurate of our expressions are
unto the true nature and being of divine things, as they are in
themselves, and what need we have to make use of allusions, and
sometimes less proper expressions, to convey a sense of them unto
the minds and affections of men, I had once or twice used that
"epanortosis", "if I may so say;" which yet if he had not known used
in other good authors, treating of things of the same nature, he
knew I could take protection against his severity under the example
of the apostle, using words to the same purpose upon an alike
occasion, Heb. 7. But at length he intends to be serious, and from
those words of mine, "Here is mercy enough for the greatest, the
oldest, the stubbornest transgressor;" he adds, "Enough, in all
reason, this: what a comfort is it to sinners to have such a God for
their Saviour, whose grace is boundless and bottomless, and exceeds
the largest dimensions of their sins, though there be a world of sin
in them. But what, now, if the divine nature itself have not such an
endless, boundless, bottomless grace and compassion as the doctor
now talks of? For at other times, when it serves his turn better, we
can hear nothing from him but the 'naturalness of God's vindictive
justice.' Though God be rich in mercy, he never told us that his
mercy was so boundless and bottomless; he had given a great many
demonstrations of the severity of his anger against sinners, who
could not be much worse than the 'greatest, the oldest, and the
stubbornest transgressors.'"
    Let the reader take notice, that I propose no grace in Christ
unto or for such sinners, but only that which may invite all sorts
of them, though under the most discouraging qualifications, to come
unto him for grace and mercy by faith and repentance. And on
supposition that this was my sense, as he cannot deny it to be, I
add only, in answer, that this his profane scoffing at it, is that
which reflects on Christ and his gospel, and God himself and his
word; which must be accounted for. See Isa 55: 7. Secondly, For the
opposition which he childishly frames between God's vindictive
justice and his mercy and grace, it is answered already. Thirdly, It
is false that God has not told us that his grace is boundless and
bottomless, in the sense wherein I use those words, sufficient to
pardon the greatest, the oldest, the stubbornest of sinners, -
namely, that turn unto him by faith and repentance; and he who knows
not how this consists with severity and anger against impenitent
sinners, is yet to learn his catechism. But yet he adds farther, pp.
208, 209, "Supposing the divine nature were such a bottomless
fountain of grace, how comes this to be a personal grace of the
Mediator? For a mediator, as mediator, ought not to be considered as
the fountain, but as the minister of grace. God the Father certainly
ought to come in for a share, at least, in being the fountain of
grace, though the doctor is pleased to take no notice of him. But
how excellent is the grace of Christ's person above the grace of the
gospel; for that is a bounded and limited thing, a strait gate and
narrow way, that leadeth unto life. There is no such boundless mercy
as all the sins in the world cannot equal its dimensions, as will
save the greatest, the oldest, and the stubbornest transgressors."
    I beg the reader to believe that I am now so utterly weary with
the repetition of these impertinencies, that I can hardly prevail
with myself to fill my pen once more with ink about them; and I see
no reason now to go on, but only that I have begun; and, on all
accounts, I shall be as brief as possible. I say, then, first, I did
not consider this boundless grace in Christ as mediator, but
considered it as in him who is mediator; and so the divine nature,
with all its properties, are greatly to be considered in him, if the
gospel be true. But, secondly, It is untrue that Christ, as
mediator, is only the minister of grace, and not the fountain of it;
for he is mediator as God and man in one person. Thirdly, To suppose
an exemption of the person of the Father from being the fountain of
grace absolutely, in the order of the divine subsistence of the
persons in the Trinity, and of their operations suited thereunto,
upon the ascription of it unto the Son, is a fond imagination, which
could befall no man who understands any thing of things of this
nature. It does as well follow, that if the Son created the world,
the Father did not; if the Son uphold all things by the word of his
power, the Father does not; - that is, that the Son is not in the
Father, nor the Father in the Son. The acts, indeed, of Christ's
mediation respect the ministration of grace, being the procuring and
communicating causes thereof; but the person of Christ the mediator
is the fountain of grace. So they thought who beheld his glory, -
"The glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and
truth". But the especial relation of grace unto the Father, as
sending the Son; unto the Son, as sent by him and incarnate; and
unto the Holy Spirit, as proceeding from and sent by them both, I
have elsewhere fully declared, and shall not in this place (which,
indeed, will scarce give admittance unto any thing of so serious a
nature) again insist thereon. Fourthly, The opposition which he
would again set between Christ and the gospel is impious in itself;
and, if he thinks to charge it on me, openly false. I challenge him
and all his accomplices to produce any one word out of any writing
of mine that, from a plea or pretence of grace in Christ, should
give countenance unto any in the neglect of the least precept given
or duty required in the gospel. And notwithstanding all that I have
said or taught concerning the boundless, bottomless grace and mercy
of Christ towards believing, humble, penitent sinners, I do believe
the way of gospel obedience, indispensably required to be walked in
by all that will come to the enjoyment of God, to be so narrow, that
no revilers, nor false accusers, nor scoffers, nor despisers of
gospel mysteries, continuing so to be, can walk therein; - but that
there is not grace and mercy declared and tendered in the gospel
also unto all sorts of sinners, under any qualifications whatever,
who upon its invitation, will come to God through Jesus Christ by
faith and repentance, is an impious imagination.
    A discourse much of the same nature follows, concerning the
love of Christ, after he has treated his person and grace at his
pleasure. And this he takes occasion for from some passages in my
book (as formerly), scraped together from several places, so as he
thought fit and convenient unto his purpose. P. 209, "Thus the love
of Christ is an eternal love, because his divine nature is eternal;
and it is an unchangeable love, because his divine nature is
unchangeable; and his love is fruitful, for it being the love of
God, it must be effectual and fruitful in producing all the things
which he willeth unto his beloved. He loves life, grace, holiness
into us, loves us into covenant, loves us into heaven. This is an
excellent love, indeed, which does all for us, and leaves nothing
for us to do. We owe this discovery to an acquaintance with Christ's
person, or rather with his divine nature; for the gospel is very
silent in this matter. All that the gospel tells us is, that Christ
loveth sinners, so as to die for them; that he loves good men, who
believe and obey his gospel, so as to save them; that he continues
to love them while they continue to be good, but hates them when
they return to their old vices: and therefore, I say, there is great
reason for sinners to fetch their comforts not from the gospel, but
from the person of Christ, which as far excels the gospel as the
gospel excels the law."
    I do suppose the expressions mentioned are, for the substance
of them, in my book; and shall, therefore, only inquire what it is
in them which he excepteth against, and for which I am reproached,
as one that has an acquaintance with Christ's person; which is now
grown so common and trite an expression, that were it not condited
unto some men's palates by its profaneness, it would argue a great
barrenness in this author's invention, that can vary no more in the
topic of reviling. It had been well if his licenser had accommodated
him with some part of his talent herein. But what is it that is
excepted against? Is it that the love of Christ, as he is God, is
eternal? or is it that it is unchangeable? or is it that it is
fruitful or effective of good things unto the persons beloved? The
philosopher tells us, that to [have] love for any one, is,
"Boulestai tini ha oietai agata, kai to kata dunamin praktikon einai
touton". It is this efficacy of the love of Christ which must bear
all the present charge. The meaning of my words, therefore, is, that
the love of Christ is unto us the cause of life, grace, holiness,
and the reward of heaven. And because it is in the nature of love to
be effective, according unto the ability of the person loving, of
the good which it wills unto the object beloved, I expressed it as I
thought meet, by loving these things to us. And I am so far on this
occasion, and [on account of] the severe reflection on me for an
acquaintance with Christ, from altering my thoughts, that I say
still with confidence, he who is otherwise minded is no Christian.
And if this man knows not how the love of Christ is the cause of
grace and glory, how it is effective of them, and that in a perfect
consistency with all other causes and means of them, and the
necessity of our obedience, he may do well to abstain a little from
writing, until he is better informed. But saith he, "This is an
excellent love, indeed, which does all for us, and leaves us nothing
to do." But who told him so? who ever said so? Does he think that if
our life, grace, holiness, glory, be from the love of Christ
originally causally, by virtue of his divine, gracious operations in
us and towards us, that there is no duty incumbent on them who would
be made partakers of them, or use or improve them unto their proper
ends? Shall we, then, to please him, say that we have neither life,
nor grace, nor holiness, nor glory, from the love of Christ; but
whereas most of them are our own duties, we have them wholly from
ourselves? Let them do so who have a mind to renounce Christ and his
gospel; I shall come into no partnership with them. [As] for what he
adds "All that the gospel teaches us," etc., he should have done
well to have said, as far as he knows; which is a limitation with a
witness. If this be all the gospel which the man knows and preaches,
I pity them whom he has taken under his instruction. Does Christ in
his love do nothing unto the quickening and conversion of men?
nothing to the purification and sanctification of believers? nothing
as to their consolation and establishment? nothing as to the
administration of strength against temptations? nothing as to
supplies of grace, in the increase of faith, love, and obedience,
etc.? This ignorance or profaneness is greatly to be bewailed, as
his ensuing scoff, repeated now usque ad nauseam, about an
opposition between Christ and his gospel, is to be despised. And if
the Lord Christ has no other love but what this man will allow, the
state of the church in this world depends on every slender thread.
But attempts of this nature will fall short enough of prevailing
with sober Christians to forego their faith and persuasion, - that
it is from the love of Christ that believers are preserved in that
condition wherein he does and will approve of them. Yea, to suppose
that this is all the grace of the gospel, that whilst men are good
Christ loves them, and when they are bad he hates them (both which
are true); and farther, that he does by his grace neither make them
good, nor preserve them that are so made, - is to renounce all that
is properly so called.
    He yet proceeds, first to evert this love which I asserted, and
then to declare his own apprehensions concerning the love of Christ.
The first in the ensuing words, p. 210, "But, methinks this is a
very odd way of arguing from the divine nature; for if the love of
Christ as God be so infinite, eternal, unchangeable, fruitful, I
would willingly understand how sin, death, and misery came into the
world. For if this love be so eternal and unchangeable, because the
divine nature is so, then it was always so; for God always was what
he is, and that which is eternal could never be other than it is
now: and why could not this eternal, and unchangeable, and fruitful
love, as well preserve us from falling into sin, and misery, and
death, as love life and holiness into us? For it is a little odd,
first to love us into sin and death, that then he may love us into
life and holiness: which, indeed, could not be, if this love of God
were always so unchangeable and fruitful as this author persuades us
it is now; for if this love had always loved life and holiness into
us, I cannot conceive how it should happen that we should sin and
die."
    It is well if he know what it is that he aims at in these
words; I am sure what he says does not in the least impeach the
truth which he designs to oppose. The name and nature of God are
everywhere in the Scripture proposed unto us as the object of, and
encouragement unto, our faith, and his love in particular is therein
represented unchangeable, because he himself is so; but it does not
hence follow that God loveth any one naturally, or necessarily. His
love is a free act of his will; and therefore, though it be like
himself, such as becomes his nature, yet it is not necessarily
determined on any object, nor limited as unto the nature, degrees,
and effects of it. He loves whom he pleaseth, and as unto what end
he pleaseth. Jacob he loved, and Esau he hated; and those effects
which, from his love or out of it, he will communicate unto them,
are various, according to the counsel of his will. Some he loves
only as to temporal and common mercies, some as to spiritual grace
and glory; for he has mercy on whom he will have mercy. Wherefore it
is no way contrary unto, and inconsistent with, the eternity, the
immutability, and fruitfulness of the love of God, that he suffered
sin to enter into the world, or that he does dispense more grace in
Jesus Christ under the New Testament than he did under the Old. God
is always the same that he was; love in God is always of the same
nature that it was; but the objects, acts, and effects of this love,
with the measures and degrees of them, are the issues of the counsel
or free purposes of his will. Want of the understanding hereof makes
this man imagine, that if God's love in Christ, wherewith he loveth
us, be eternal and fruitful, then must God necessarily always - in
or out of Christ, under the old or new covenant - love all persons,
elect or not elect, with the same love as to the effects and fruits
of it; which is a wondrous profound apprehension. The reader,
therefore, if he please, may take notice, that the love which I
intend, and whereunto I ascribe those properties, is the especial
love of God in Christ unto the elect. Concerning this himself says,
that he loves them with an everlasting love, and therefore "draws
them with loving-kindness," Jer. 31: 3; which love, I shall be bold
to say, is eternal and fruitful. And hence, as he changeth not,
whereon the sons of Jacob are not consumed, Mal. 3: 6, there being
with him "neither variableness, nor shadow of turning," James 1: 17;
so accordingly he has in this matter, by his promise and oath,
declared the immutability of his counsel, Heb. 6: 17, 18, - which
seems to intimate that his love is unchangeable. And whereas this
eternal love is in Christ Jesus as the way and means of making it
certain in all its effects, and with respect unto its whole design,
it is fruitful in all grace and glory, Eph. 1: 3-5. And if he cannot
understand how, notwithstanding all this, sin so entered into the
world under the law of creation and the first covenant as to defeat
in us all the benefits thereof, at present I cannot help him; for,
as I am sure enough he would scorn to learn any thing of me, so I am
not at leisure to put it to the trial.
    His own account of the love of God succeeds. P. 211, "Not that
I deny that the love of God is eternal, unchangeable, fruitful; that
is, that God was always good, and always continues good, and
manifesteth his love and goodness in such ways as are suitable to
his nature, which is the fruitfulness of it: but then, the
unchangeableness of God's love does not consist in being always
determined to the same object, but that he always loves for the same
reason; that is, that he always loves true virtue and goodness,
wherever he sees it, and never ceases to love any person till he
ceases to be good: and then the immutability of his love is the
reason why he loves no longer; for should he love a wicked man, the
reason and nature of his love would change. And the fruitfulness of
God's love, with respect to the methods of his grace and providence,
does not consist in procuring what he loves by an omnipotent and
irresistible power; for then sin and death could never have entered
into the world: but he governs and does good to his creatures, in
such ways as are most suitable to their natures. He governs
reasonable creatures by principles of reason, as he does the
material world by the necessary laws of matter, and brute creatures
by the instincts and propensities of nature."
    This may pass for a system of his divinity, which how he will
reconcile unto the doctrine of the church of England in her
articles, she and he may do well to consider. But, whatever he means
by the love of God always determined unto the same object, it were
an easy thing to prove, beyond the reach of his contradiction, that
persons are the objects of God's eternal love, as well as things and
qualifications are of his approbation; or, that he loves some
persons with an everlasting and unchangeable love, so as to preserve
them from all ruining evils, and so as they may be always meet
objects of his approving love, unto his glory: and whereas these
things have been debated and disputed on all hands with much
learning and diligence, our author is a very happy man if, with a
few such loose expressions as these repeated, he thinks to determine
all the controversies about election and effectual grace, with
perseverance, on the Pelagian side. The hypothesis here maintained,
that because God always and unchangeably approves of what is good in
any, or of the obedience of his creatures, and disapproves or hates
sin, condemning it in his law, [and] that therefore he may love the
same person one day and hate him another, notwithstanding his
pretences that he is constant unto the reason of his love, will
inevitably fall into one of these conclusions: - either, that God
indeed never loveth any man, be he who he will; or, that he is
changeable in his love, upon outward, external reasons, as we are:
and let him choose which he will own. In the meantime, such a love
of God towards believers as shall always effectually preserve them
meet objects of his love and approbation, is not to be baffled by
such trifling impertinencies. His next reflection is on the manner
of God's operations in the communication of grace and holiness;
which, he says, is "not by omnipotent and irresistible power," -
confirming his assertion by that consideration, that then sin and
death could never have entered into the world; which is resolved
into another sweet supposition, that God must needs act the same
power of grace towards all men, at all times, under each covenant,
whether he will or no. But this it is to be a happy disputant, - all
things succeed well with such persons which they undertake. And as
to the manner of the operation of grace, how far grace itself may be
said to he omnipotent, and in its operations irresistible, I have
fully declared there; where he may oppose and refute it, if he have
any mind thereunto. His present attempt against it in those words,
that God "governs reasonable creatures by principles of reason," is
so weak in this case, and impertinent, that it deserves no
consideration; for all the operations of divine grace are suited
unto the rational constitution of our beings, neither was ever man
so wild as to fancy any of them such as are inconsistent with, or do
offer force unto, the faculties of our souls in their operations.
Yea, that which elevates, aids, and assists our rational faculties
in their operations on and towards their proper objects, which is
the work of efficacious grace, is the principal preservative of
their power and liberty, and can be no way to their prejudice. And
we do, moreover, acknowledge that those proposals which are made in
the gospel unto our reason, are eminently suited to excite and
prevail with it unto its proper use and exercise in compliance with
them. Hence, although the habit of faith, or power of believing, be
wrought in us by the Holy Ghost, yet the word of the gospel is the
cause and means of all its acts, and the whole obedience which it
produceth. But if by "governing reasonable creatures by principles
of reason," he intends that God deals no otherwise by his grace with
the souls of men, but only by proposing objective arguments and
motives unto a compliance with his will, without internal aids and
assistance of grace, it is a gross piece of Pelagianism, destructive
of the gospel, sufficiently confuted elsewhere; and he may explain
himself as he pleaseth.
    His proceed is, to transcribe some other passages, taken out of
my book here and there, in whose repetition he inserts some
impertinent exceptions; but the design of the whole is to "state a
controversy," as he calls it, between us and them, or those whom he
calleth "they" and "we," whoever they be. And this, upon the
occasion of my mentioning the fulness of grace, life, and
righteousness that is in Christ, he does in these words: - P. 215,
"They say that these are the personal graces of Christ as mediator,
which are inherent in him, and must be derived from his person; we
say, they signify the perfection and excellency of his religion, as
being the most perfect and complete declaration of the will of God,
and the most powerful method of the divine wisdom for the reforming
of the world, as it prescribes the only righteousness which is
acceptable to God, and directs us in the only way to life and
immortality."
    I shall not absolutely accept of the terms of this controversy,
as to the state of it on our part, proposed by him; and yet I shall
not much vary from them. We say, therefore, that "Jesus Christ being
full of all grace, excellencies, and perfections, he communicates
them unto us in that degree as is necessary for us, and in
proportion unto his abundant charity and goodness towards us; and we
Christians, as his body, or fellow-members of his human nature,
receive grace and mercy, flowing from him to us." This state of the
controversy on our side I suppose he will not refuse, nor the terms
of it; but will own them to be ours, though he will not, it may be,
allow some of them to be proper or convenient. And that he may know
who his "they" are, who are at this end of the difference, he may be
p]eased to take notice that these words are the whole and entire
paraphrase of Dr Hammond on John 1: 16; the first testimony he
undertakes to answer. And when this author has replied to Mr Hooker,
Dr Jackson, and him, and such other pillars of the church of England
as concur with them, it will be time enough for me to consider how I
shall defend myself against him. Or, if he will take the controversy
on our part in terms more directly expressive of my mind, it is the
person of Christ is the fountain of all grace to the church (as he
well observes my judgement to be), and that from him all grace and
mercy is derived unto us; and then I do maintain, that the "they"
whom he opposeth, are not only the church of England, but the whole
catholic church in all ages. Who the "we" are, on the other hand,
who reject this assertion, and believe that all the testimonies
concerning the fulness of grace in Christ, and the communication
thereof unto us, do only declare the excellency of his religion, is
not easy to be conjectured; - for unless it be the people of Racow,
I know not who are his associates. And let him but name three
divines of any reputation in the church of England since the
Reformation, who have given the least countenance unto his
assertions, negative or positive, and I will acknowledge that he has
better associates in his profession than as yet I believe he has.
But that Jesus Christ himself, God and man in one person, the
mediator between God and man, is not a fountain of grace and mercy
to his church; that there is no real internal grace communicated by
him, or derived from him unto his mystical body; that the fulness
which is in him, or said to be in him, of grace and truth, of
unsearchable riches of grace, etc., is nothing but the doctrine
which he taught, as the most complete and perfect declaration of the
will of God, - are opinions that cannot be divulged, under pretence
of authority, without the most pernicious scandal to the present
church of England. And if this be the man's religion, that this is
all the fulness we receive from Christ, - "a perfect revelation of
the divine will concerning the salvation of mankind; which contains
so many excellent promises that it may well be called 'grace;' and
prescribes such a plain and simple religion, so agreeable to the
natural notions of good and evil, that it may well be called
'truth;'" - and complying with its doctrine, or yielding obedience
unto its precepts and believing the promises which it gives, in our
own strength, without any real aid, assistance, or communication of
internal saving grace from the person of Jesus Christ, is our
righteousness before God, whereon and for which we are justified, -
I know as well as he whence it came, and perhaps better than he
whither it will go.
    The remaining discourse of this chapter consisteth of two
parts: - First, An attempt to disprove any communication of real
internal grace from the Lord Christ unto believers for their
sanctification; Secondly, An endeavour to refute the imputation of
his righteousness unto us for our justification. In the first he
contends that all the fulness of grace and truth said to be in
Christ consists either in the doctrine of the gospel or in the
largeness of his church. In the latter, that faith in Christ is
nothing but believing the gospel, and the authority of Christ who
revealed it; and by yielding obedience thereunto, we are justified
before God, on the account of an internal inherent righteousness in
ourselves. Now, these are no small undertakings; the first of them
being expressly contrary to the sense of the catholic church in all
ages (for the Pelagians and the Socinians are by common agreement
excluded from an interest therein); and the latter of them, contrary
to the plain confessions of all the reformed churches, with the
constant doctrine of this church of England: and therefore we may
justly expect that they should be managed with much strength of
argument, and evident demonstration. But the unhappiness of it is (I
will not say his, but ours), that these are not things which our
author as yet has accustomed himself unto; and I cannot but say,
that to my knowledge I never read a more weak, loose, and
impertinent discourse, upon so weighty subjects, in my whole life
before: he must have little to do, who can afford to spend his time
in a particular examination of it, unless it be in the exposition of
those places which are almost verbatim transcribed out of
Schlichtingius. Besides, for the first truth which he opposeth, I
have confirmed it in a discourse which I suppose may be made public
before this come to view, beyond what I expect any sober reply unto
from him. Some texts of Scripture that mention a fulness in Christ
he chooseth out, to manifest (to speak a word by the way) that
indeed they do not intend any such fulness in Christ himself. And
the first is John 1: 16; the exposition whereof which he gives is
that of Schlichtingius, who yet extends the import of the words
beyond what he will allow. The enforcement which he gives unto his
exposition, by comparing the 14th and 17th verses with the 16th, is
both weak and contradictory of itself; for the words of the 14th
verse are, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we
beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father),
full of grace and truth." It is evident beyond contradiction, that
the expression, "full of grace and truth," is exegetical of his
glory as the only begotten of the Father, which was the glory of his
person, and not the doctrine of the gospel. And for the opposition
that is made between the law given by Moses, and the grace and truth
which came by Jesus Christ, I shall yet rather adhere to the sense
of the ancient church, and the most eminent doctors of it, which, if
he knows not it to be concerning the effectual communication of
real, renewing, sanctifying grace by Jesus Christ, there are snow
who can inform him; rather than that woeful gloss upon them, - "His
doctrine is called 'grace,' because accompanied with such excellent
promises; and may well be called 'truth,' because so agreeable to
the natural notions of good and evil," which is the confession of
the Pelagian unbelief: but these things are not my present
concernment. For the latter part of his discourse, in his opposition
unto the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, as he does not
go about once to state or declare the sense wherein it is pleaded
for, nor produceth any one of the arguments wherewith it is
confirmed, and omitteth the mention of most of the particular
testimonies which declare and establish it; so, as unto those few
which he takes notice of, he expressly founds his answers unto them
on that woeful subterfuge, that if they are capable of another
interpretation, or having another sense given unto them, then
nothing can be concluded from them to that purpose, - by which the
Socinians seek to shelter themselves from all the testimonies that
are given to his Deity and satisfaction. But I have no concernment,
as I said, either in his opinions or his way of reasoning; and do
know that those who have so, need not desire a better cause nor an
easier adversary to deal withal.
    In his third section, p. 279, he enters upon his exceptions
unto the union of believers unto Jesus Christ, and with great
modesty, at the entrance of his discourse, tells us, first, "how
these men," with whom he has to do, "have fitted the person of
Christ unto all the wants and necessities of the sinner;" which yet,
if he denies God himself to have done, he is openly injurious unto
his wisdom and grace. The very first promise that was given
concerning him was, that he should save sinners from all their
wants, evils, and miseries, that might, did, or could befall them by
the entrance of sin. But thus it falls out, when men will be talking
of what they do not understand. Again, he adds how he has "explained
the Scripture metaphors whereby the union between Christ and
Christians is represented; but that these men, instead of explaining
of those metaphors, turn all religion into an allegory." But what if
one should now tell him, that his explanation of these metaphors is
the most absurd and irrational, and argues the most fulsome
ignorance of the mystery of the gospel, that can be imagined; and
that, on the other side, those whom he traduceth do explain them
unto the understanding and experience of all that believe, and that
in a way suited and directed unto by the Holy Ghost himself, to
farther their faith, obedience, and consolation? As far as I
perceive, he would be at no small loss how to relieve himself under
this censure. The first thing he begins withal, and wherein, in the
first place, I fall under his displeasure, is about the conjugal
relation between Christ and believers, which he treats of, p. 280.
"As for example," saith he, "Christ is called a husband, the church
his spouse; and now all the invitations of the gospel are Christ's
wooing and making love to his spouse; - and what other men call
believing the gospel of Christ, whereby we devote ourselves to his
service, these men call that consent and contract, which make up the
marriage betwixt Christ and believers. Christ takes us for his
spouse, and we take Christ for our husband, and that with all the
solemnities of marriage, except the ring, which is left out as an
antichristian ceremony; Christ saying thus, 'This is that we will
consent unto, that I will be for thee, and thou shalt be for me, and
not for another.' Christ gives himself to the soul with all his
excellencies, righteousness, preciousness, graces, and eminencies,
to be its saviour, head, and husband, - to dwell with it in this
holy relation; and the soul likes Christ for his excellencies,
graces, suitableness, far above all other beloveds whatsoever, and
accepts of Christ by the will for its husband, Lord, and saviour.
And thus the marriage is completed; and this is the day of Christ's
espousals, and of the gladness of his heart. And now follow all
mutual conjugal affections; which, on Christ's part, consist in
delight, valuation, pity, compassion, bounty; on the saints' part,
in delight, valuation, chastity, duty. But I have already corrected
this fooling with Scripture metaphors and phrases."
    It might, perhaps, not unbecome this author to be a little more
sparing of his correction, unless his authority were more than it
is, and his skill, also, in the management of it; for at present
those whom he attempts upon are altogether insensible of any effects
of his severity. But whereas he seems much at a loss how to evidence
his own wisdom any other way than by calling them fools with whom he
has to do, it is sufficient to plead his excuse. But what is it that
he is here so displeased at, as unfit for a man of his wisdom to
bear withal, and therefore calls it "fooling?" Is it that there is a
conjugal relation between Christ and the church? - that he is the
bridegroom and husband of the church, and that the church is his
bride and spouse? - that he becomes so unto it by a voluntarily,
gracious act of his love, and that the church enters into that
relation with him by their acceptance of him in that relation, and
voluntarily giving up themselves unto him in faith, love, and
obedience, suited thereunto? Is it that he loveth his church and
cherisheth it as a husband, or that the church gives up itself in
chaste and holy obedience unto him as her spouse? or is it my way
and manner of expressing these things wherewith he is so provoked?
If it be the latter, I desire he would, for his own satisfaction,
take notice that I condemn his censures, and appeal to the judgement
of those who have more understanding and experience in these things
than, for aught I can discern by his writings, he has yet attained
unto. If it be the former, they are all of them so proved and
confirmed from the Scripture in that very discourse which he
excepteth against, as that he is not able to answer or reply one
serious word thereunto. Indeed, to deny it, is to renounce the
gospel and the catholic faith. It is, therefore, to no purpose for
me here to go over again the nature of this relation between Christ
and the church, - wherein really and truly it does consist; what it
is the Scripture instructeth us in thereby; what is that love, care,
and tenderness of Christ, which it would have us thence to learn;
and what is our own duty with respect thereunto, together with the
consolation thence arising: the whole of this work is already
discharged in that discourse which these impertinent cavils are
raised against, and that suitably to the sense of the church in all
ages, and of all sound expositors of those very many places of
Scripture which I have urged and insisted on to that purpose. Let
him, if he please, a little lay aside the severity of his
corrections and befouling of men, and answer any material passage in
the whole discourse, if he be able; or discover any thing in it not
agreeable to the analogy of faith, or the sense of the ancient
church, if he can. And though he seem, both here and in some of his
ensuing pages, to have a particular contempt of what is cited or
improved out of the book of Canticles to this purpose; yet, if he
either deny that that whole book does mystically express the
conjugal relation that is between Christ and his church, with their
mutual affections and delight in each other, or that the places
particularly insisted on by me are not duly applied unto their
proper intention, I can, at least, confirm them both by the
authority of such persons as whose antiquity and learning will
exercise the utmost of his confidence in calling them fools for
their pains.
    From hence for sundry pages he is pleased to give me a little
respite, whilst he diverts his severity unto another; unto whose
will and choice what to do in it I shall leave his peculiar concern,
as knowing full well how easy it is for him to vindicate what he has
written on this subject from his impertinent exceptions, if he
please. In the meantime, if this author supposeth to add unto the
reputation of his ingenuity and modesty by assaulting with a few
pitiful cavils a book written with so much learning, judgement, and
moderation, as that is which he excepts against, not daring in the
meantime to contend with it in any thing of the expository or the
argumentative part of it, but only to discover a malevolent desire
to obstruct the use which it has been of, and may yet farther be, to
the church of God, - I hope he will not find many rivals in such a
design. For my part, I do suppose it more becoming Christian modesty
and sobriety, where men have laboured according to their ability in
the explication of the mysteries of Christian religion, and that
with an avowed intention to promote holiness and gospel obedience,
to accept of what they have attained, wherein we can come unto a
compliance with them; than, passing by whatever we cannot but
approve of, or are not able to disprove, to make it our business to
cavil at such expressions as either we do not like, or hope to
pervert and abuse to their disadvantage.
    P. 296, he returns again to my discourse, and fiercely pursues
it for sundry leaves, in such a manner as becomes him, and is usual
with him. That part of my book which he deals withal, is from p. 176
unto p. 187; and if any person of ingenuity and judgement will be
pleased but to peruse it, and to compare it with this man's
exceptions, I am secure it will need no farther vindication. But as
it is represented in his cavilling way, it is impossible for any man
either to conceive what is the true design of my discourse, or what
the arguments wherewith what I assert is confirmed; which he does
most unduly pretend to give an account of: for he so chops, and
changes, and alters at his pleasure, going backwards and forwards,
and that from one thing to another, without any regard unto a
scholastic or ingenuous debate of any thing that might be called a
controversy, merely to seek out an appearance of advantage to vent
his cavilling exceptions, as no judgement can rationally be made of
his whole discourse, but only that he had a mind to have cast
aspersions on mine, if he had known how. But such stuff as it is, we
must now take the measure of it, and consider of what use it may be.
And first he quotes those words from my book, "That Christ fulfilled
all righteousness as he was mediator; and that whatever he did as
mediator, he did it for them whose mediator he was, or in whose
stead and for whose good he executed the office of a mediator before
God: and hence it is that his complete and perfect obedience to the
law is reckoned to us." He adds, "This is well said, if it were as
well proved. And because this is a matter of great consequence, I
shall first examine those reasons the doctor alleges to prove that
Christ fulfilled all righteousness, as he was mediator, in their
stead whose mediator he was."
    These assertions are gathered up from several places in my
discourse, though p. 182 is cited for them all. And if any one find
himself concerned in these things, I may demand of him the labour of
their perusal in my book itself; and for those who shall refuse a
compliance with so reasonable a request, I do not esteem myself
obliged to tender them any farther satisfaction. However, I say
again, that the Lord Christ fulfilled all righteousness as mediator;
and that what he did as mediator, he did it for them whose mediator
he was, or in whose stead and for whose good he executed the office
of a mediator before God. He says, "It is well said, if it were as
well proved." I say, it is all proved in the places where it is
asserted, and that with such testimonies and arguments as he dares
not touch upon. And although he pretends to examine the reasons that
I allege to prove that Christ fulfilled all righteousness, as he was
mediator, in their stead whose mediator he was, yet indeed he does
not do so. For, first, I say no such thing as he here feigns me to
say, - namely, that "Christ as mediator fulfilled all righteousness
in our stead;" but only, that "Christ being the mediator, in our
stead fulfilled all righteousness:" which is another thing, though
perhaps he understands not the difference. Nor does he so much as
take notice of that testimony which is immediately subjoined unto
the words he cites in the confirmation of them; but he will disprove
this assertion or at least manifest that it cannot be proved. And
this he enters upon, p 297, "As for the first, we have some reason
to require good proof of this, since the notion of a mediator
includes no such thing. A mediator is one who interposeth between
two differing parties, to accommodate the difference; but it was
never heard of yet, that it was the office of a mediator to perform
the terms and conditions himself. Moses was the mediator of the
first covenant, Gal. 3: 19; and his office was to receive the law
from God, to deliver it to the people, to command them to observe
those rites, and sacrifices, and expiations which God had ordained:
but he was not to fulfil the righteousness of the law for the whose
congregation. Thus Christ is now the mediator of a better covenant;
and his office required that he should preach the gospel, which
contains the terms of peace and reconciliation between God and men;
and since God would not enter into covenant with sinners without the
intervention of a sacrifice, he dies too, as a sacrifice and
propitiation for the sins of the world."
    I yet suppose that he observed not the inconsistencies of this
discourse, and therefore shall a little mind him of them, although I
am no way concerned in it or them. For, first, He tells us, that "a
mediator is one who interposeth between two differing parties, to
accommodate the difference;" and then gives us an instance in Moses,
who is called a mediator in receiving the law, but did therein no
way interpose himself between differing parties, to reconcile them.
Secondly, From the nature of the mediation of Moses, he would
describe the nature of the mediation of Christ; which Socinian
fiction I could direct him to a sufficient confutation of, but that,
thirdly, He rejects it himself in his next words, - that Christ as a
mediator was to die as a sacrifice and propitiation for the sins of
the world; which renders his mediation utterly of another kind and
nature than that of Moses. The mistake of this discourse is, that he
supposeth that men do argue from the general nature of the office of
a mediator the work of mediation in this matter; when that which
they do intend hence to prove, and what he intends to oppose, is the
special nature of the mediatory office and work of Christ; which is
peculiar, and has sundry things essential]ly belonging unto it, that
belong not unto any other kind of mediation whatever; whereof
himself gives one signal instance.
    In his ensuing pages he wonderfully perplexeth himself in
gathering up sayings, backward and forward in my discourse, to make
some advantage to his purpose, and hopes that he is arrived at no
less success than a discovery of I know not what contradictions in
what I have asserted. As I said before, so I say again, that I refer
the determination and judgement of this whole matter unto any one
who will but once read over the discourse excepted against. But for
his part, I greatly pity him, as really supposing him at a loss in
the sense of what is yet plainly delivered; and I had rather
continue to think so, than to be relieved by supposing him guilty of
such gross prevarications as he must be if he understands what he
treats about. Plainly, I have showed that there was an especial law
of mediation, which Christ was subject unto, at the commandment of
the Father: that he should be incarnate; that he should be the king,
priest, and prophet of his church; that he should bear our
iniquities, make his soul an offering for sin, and give his life a
ransom for many, were the principal parts of this law. The whole of
it I have lately explained, in my exercitations unto the second part
of the Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews; whereon, if he
please, he may exercise and try his skill in a way of opposition.
This law our Lord Jesus Christ did not yield obedience to in our
stead, as though we had been obliged originally unto the duties of
it, which we neither were nor could be; although what he suffered
penally in any of them was in our stead; without which consideration
he could not have righteously suffered in any kind. And the
following trivial exception of this author, about the obligation on
us to lay down our lives for the brethren, is meet for him to put
in, seeing we are not obliged so to die for any one as Christ died
for us. Was Paul crucified for you? But, secondly, Christ our
mediator, and as mediator, was obliged unto all that obedience unto
the moral, and all other laws of God, that the church was obliged
unto; and that which I have asserted hereon is, that the effects of
the former obedience of Christ are communicated unto us, but the
latter obedience itself is imputed unto us; and [I] have proved it
by those arguments which this man does not touch upon. All this is
more fully, clearly, and plainly declared in the discourse itself;
and I have only represented so much of it here again, that it might
be evident unto all how frivolous are his exceptions. It is
therefore to no purpose for me to transcribe again the quotations
out of my book which he fills up his pages with, seeing it is but
little in them which he excepteth against; and whoever pleaseth, may
consult them at large in the places from whence they are taken; or,
because it is not easy to find them out singly, they are so picked
up and down, backwards and forwards, curtailed and added to at
pleasure, any one may, in a very little space of time, read over the
whole unto his full satisfaction. I shall, therefore, only consider
his exceptions, and haste unto an end of this fruitless trouble,
wherein I am most unwillingly engaged by this man's unsuspected
disingenuity and ignorance.
    After the citation of some passages, he adds, p. 301, "This,
methinks, is very strange, that what he did as mediator is not
imputed unto us; but what he did, not as our mediator, but as a man
subject to the law, that is imputed to us, and reckoned as if we had
done it, by reason of his being our mediator. And it is as strange
to the full, that Christ should do whatever was required of us by
virtue of any law, when he was neither husband, nor wife, nor
father, merchant nor tradesman, seaman nor soldier, captain nor
lieutenant, much less a temporal prince and monarch. And how he
should discharge the duties of these relations for us, which are
required of us by certain laws, when he never was in any of these
relations, and could not possibly be in all, is an argument which
may exercise the subtilty of school men, and to them I leave it."
    It were greatly to be desired that he would be a little more
heedful, and with attention read the writings of other men, that he
might understand them before he comes to make such a bluster in his
opposition to them: for I had told him plainly, that though there
was a peculiar law of mediation, whose acts and duties we had no
obligation unto, yet the Lord Christ, even as mediator, was obliged
unto, and did personally perform, all the duties of obedience unto
the law of God whereunto we were subject and obliged, p. 181,' sec.
14. And it is strange to apprehend how he came to imagine that I
said he did it not as our mediator, but as a private man. That
which, possibly, might cast his thoughts into this disorder was,
that he knew not that Christ was made a private man as mediator;
which yet the Scripture is sufficiently express in. [As] for the
following objections, that the Lord Christ was neither "husband nor
wife, father nor tradesman," etc. (wherein yet possibly he is out in
his account), I have frequently smiled at it when I have met with it
in the Socinians, who are perking with it at every turn; but here it
ought to be admired. But yet, without troubling those bugbears the
school men, he may be pleased to take notice, that the grace of duty
and obedience in all relations is the same, - the relations
administering only an external occasion unto its peculiar exercise;
and what our Lord Jesus Christ did in the fulfilling of all
righteousness in the circumstances and relations wherein he stood,
may be imputed to us for our righteousness in all our relations,
every act of duty and sin in them respecting the same law and
principle. And hereon all his following exceptions for sundry pages,
wherein he seems much to have pleased himself, do fall to nothing,
as being resolved into his own mistakes, if he does not prevaricate
against his science and conscience; for the sum of them all he gives
us in these words, p. 204, "That Christ did those things as mediator
which did not belong to the laws of his mediation;" which, in what
sense he did so, is fully explained in my discourse. And I am apt to
guess, that either he is deceived or does design to deceive, in
expressing it by the "laws of his mediation;" which may comprise all
the laws which as mediator he was subject unto. And so it is most
true, that he did nothing as mediator but what belonged unto the
laws of his mediation; but most false, that I have affirmed that he
did: for I did distinguish between that peculiar law which required
the public acts of his mediation, and those other laws which, as
mediator, he was made subject unto. And if he neither does nor will
understand these things when he is told them, and they are proved
unto him beyond what he can contradict, I know no reason why I
should trouble myself with one that contends with his own mormos,
though he never so lewdly or loudly call my name upon them. And
whereas I know myself sufficiently subject unto mistakes and slips,
so when I actually fall into them, as I shall not desire this man's
forgiveness, but leave him to exercise the utmost of his severity,
so I despise his ridiculous attempts to represent contradictions in
my discourse, p 306; all pretences whereunto are taken from his own
ignorance, or feigned in his imagination. Of the like nature are all
his ensuing cavils. I desire no more of any reader, but to peruse
the places in my discourse which he carps at, and if he be a person
of ordinary understanding in these things, I declare that I will
stand to his censure and judgement, without giving him the least
farther intimation of the sense and intendment of what I have
written, or vindication of its truth. Thus, whereas I had plainly
declared that the way whereby the Lord Christ, in his own person,
became obnoxious and subject unto the law of creation, was by his
own voluntary antecedent choice, otherwise than it is with those who
are inevitably subject unto it by natural generation under it; as
also, that the hypostatical union, in the first instant whereof the
human nature was fitted for glory, might have exempted him from the
obligation of any outward law whatever, - whence it appears that his
consequential obedience, though necessary to himself, when he had
submitted himself unto the law (as, "Lo, I come to do thy will, O
God"), was designedly for us; - he miserably perplexeth himself to
abuse his credulous readers with an apprehension that I had talked,
like himself, at such a rate of nonsense as any one in his wits must
needs despise. The meaning and sum of my discourse he would have to
be this, p. 308, "That Christ had not been bound to live like a man,
had he not been a man," with I know not what futilous cavils of the
like nature; when all that I insisted on was the reason why Christ
would be a man, and live like a man; which was, that we might
receive the benefit and profit of his obedience, as he was our
mediator. So in the close of the same wise harangue, from my saying,
"That the Lord Christ, by virtue of the hypostatical union, might be
exempted, as it were, and lifted above the law, which yet he
willingly submitted unto, and in the same instant wherein he was
made of a woman, was made also under the law, whence obedience unto
it became necessary unto him," - the man feigns I know not what
contradictions in his fancy, whereof there is not the least
appearance in the words unto any one who understands the matter
expressed in them. And that the assumption of the human nature into
union with the Son of God, with submission unto the law thereon to
be performed in that nature, are distinct parts of the humiliation
of Christ, I shall prove when more serious occasion is administered
unto me.
    In like manner he proceeds to put in his exceptions unto what I
discoursed about the laws that an innocent man is liable unto. For I
said, that God never gave any other law to an innocent person, but
only the law of his creation, with such symbolical precepts as might
be instances of his obedience thereunto. Something he would find
fault with, but knows not well what; and therefore turmoils himself
to give countenance unto a putid cavil. He tells us, "That it is a
great favour that I acknowledge, p. 310, that God might add what
symbols he pleased unto the law of creation." But the childishness
of these impertinencies is shameful. To whom, I pray, is it a
favour, or what does the man intend by such a senseless scoff? Is
there any word in my whole discourse intimating that God might not
in a state of innocence give what positive laws he pleased unto
innocent persons, as means and ways to express that obedience which
they owed into the law of creation? The task wherein I am engaged is
so fruitless, so barren of any good use, in contending with such
impertinent effects of malice and ignorance, that I am weary of
every word I am forced to add in the pursuit of it; but he will yet
have it, that "an innocent person, such as Christ was absolutely,
may be obliged for his own sake to the observation of such laws and
institutions as were introduced by the occasion of sin, and
respected all of them the personal sins of them that were obliged by
them;" which if he can believe, he is at liberty, for me, to
persuade as many as he can to be of his mind, whilst I may be left
unto my own liberty and choice, yea, to the necessity of my mind, in
not believing contradictions. And for what he adds, that I "know
those who conceit themselves above all forms of external worship," I
must say to him that at present personally I know none that do so,
but fear that some such there are; as also others who, despising not
only the ways of external worship appointed by God himself, but also
the laws of internal faith and grace, do satisfy themselves in a
customary observance of forms of worship of their own devising.
    In his next attempt he had been singular, and had spoken
something which had looked like an answer to an argument, had he
well laid the foundation of his procedure: for that position which
he designeth the confutation of is thus laid down by him as mine,
"There can be no reason assigned of Christ's obedience unto the law,
but only this, that he did it in our stead;" whereas my words are,
"That the end of the active obedience of Christ cannot be assigned
to be that he might be fit for his death and oblation." And hereon
what is afterward said against this particular end, he interprets as
spoken against all other ends whatever, instancing in such as are
every way consistent with the imputation of his obedience unto us;
which could not be, had the only end of it been for himself, to fit
him for his death and oblation. And this wilful mistake is
sufficient to give occasion to combat his own imaginations for two
or three pages together. P. 314, he pretends unto the recital of an
argument of mine for the imputation of the righteousness of Christ,
with the like pretence of attempting an answer unto it; but his
design is not to manage any controversy with me, or against me, but,
as he phraseth it, to expose my mistakes. I cannot, therefore,
justly expect from him so much as common honesty will require, in
case the real handling of a controversy in religion had been
intended. But his way of procedure, so far as I know and understand,
may be best suited unto his design. In this place, he does neither
fairly nor truly report my words, nor take the least notice of the
confirmation of my argument by the removal of objections whereunto
it seemed liable, nor of the reasons and testimonies whereby it is
farther proved; but, taking out of my discourse what expressions he
pleaseth, putting them together with the same rule, he thinks he has
sufficiently exposed my mistakes, - the thing he aimed at. I have no
more concernment in this matter but to refer both him and the reader
to the places in my discourse reflected on; - him, truly to report
and answer my arguments, if he be able; and the reader, to judge as
he pleaseth between us. And I would for this once desire of him,
that if he indeed be concerned in these things, he would peruse my
discourse here raved at, and determine in his own mind whether I
confidently affirm what is in dispute, (that is, what I had then in
dispute; for who could divine so long ago what a doughty disputant
this author would by this time sprout up into?) and that this goes
for an argument, or that he impudently affirms me so to do, contrary
unto his science and conscience, if he had not quite "pored out his
eyes" before he came to the end of a page or two in my book. And for
the state of the question here proposed by him, let none expect that
upon so slight an occasion I shall divert unto the discussion of it.
When this author, or any of his consorts in design, shall soberly
and candidly, without scoffing or railing, in a way of argument or
reasoning, becoming divines and men of learning, answer any of those
many writings which are extant against that Socinian justification
which he here approves and contends for, or those written by the
divines of the church of England on the same subject, in the proof
of what he denies, and confutation of what he affirms, they may
deserve to be taken notice of in the same rank and order with those
with whom they associate themselves. And yet I will not say but that
these cavilling exceptions, giving a sufficient intimation of what
some men would be at, if ability and opportunity did occur, may give
occasion also unto a renewed vindication of the truths opposed by
them, in a way suited unto the use and edification of the church, in
due time and season.
    From p. 185 of my book he retires, upon his new triumph, unto
p. 176, as hoping to hook something from thence that might
contribute unto the furtherance of his ingenious design, although my
discourse in that place have no concernment in what he treateth
about. But let him be heard to what purpose he pleaseth. Thus,
therefore, he proceeds, p. 315, "The doctor makes a great flourish
with some Scripture phrases, that there is almost nothing that
Christ has done but what we are said to do it with him; we are
crucified with him, we are dead with him, buried with him, quickened
together with him. In the acting of Christ there is, by virtue of
the compact between him, as mediator, and the Father, such an
assured foundation laid, that by communication of the fruit of these
acting unto those in whose stead he performed them, they are said,
in the participation of these fruits, to have done the same things
with him. But he is quite out in the reason of these expressions,
which is not that we are accounted to do the same things which
Christ did, - for the things here mentioned belong to the peculiar
office of his mediation, which he told us before were not reckoned
as done by us, - but because we do some things like them. Our dying
to sin is a conformity to the death of Christ; and our walking in
newness of life is our conformity to his resurrection: and the
consideration of the death and resurrection of Christ is very
powerful to engage us to die to sin, and to rise unto a new life.
And this is the true reason of these phrases."
    Any man may perceive, from what he is pleased here himself to
report of my words, that I was not treating about the imputation of
the righteousness of Christ, which he is now inveighing against; and
it will be much more evident unto every one that shall cast an eye
on that discourse. But the design of this confused rambling I have
been forced now frequently to give an account of, and shall, if it
be possible, trouble the reader with it no more. The present
difference between us, which he was ambitious to represent, is only
this, that whereas it seems he will allow that those expressions of
our being "crucified with Christ, dead with him, buried with him,
quickened with him," do intend nothing but only our doing of
something like unto that which Christ did; I do add, moreover, that
we do those things by the virtue and efficacy of the grace which is
communicated unto us from what the Lord Christ so did and acted for
us, as the mediator of the new covenant, whereby alone we partake of
their power, communicate in their virtue, and are conformed unto him
as our head; wherein I know I have, as the testimony of the
Scripture, so the judgement of the catholic church of Christ on my
side, and am very little concerned in the censure of this person,
that I am "quite out in the reason of these expressions."
    For what remains of his discourse, so far as I am concerned in
it, it is made up of such expositions of some texts of Scripture as
issue, for the most part, in a direct contradiction to the text
itself, or some express passages of the context. So does that of
Gal. 4: 4, 5, which he first undertakes to speak unto, giving us
nothing but what was first invented by Crellius, in his book against
Grotius, and is almost translated verbatim out of the comment of
Schlichtingius upon the place; the remainder of them corruptly
Socinianizing against the sense of the church of God. Hereunto are
added such pitiful mistakes, with reflections on me for
distinguishing between obeying and suffering (which conceit he most
profoundly disproves by showing that one may obey in suffering, and
that Christ did so, against him who has written more about the
obedience of Christ in dying, or laying down his life for us, than
he seems to have read on the same subject, as also concerning the
ends and uses of his death; which I challenge him and all his
companions to answer and disprove, if they can), as I cannot satisfy
myself in the farther consideration of; no, not with that speed and
haste of writing now used: which nothing could give countenance unto
but the meanness of the occasion, and unprofitableness of the
argument in hand. Wherefore, this being the manner of the man, I am
not able to give an account unto myself or the reader of the
misspense of more time in the review of such impertinencies. I shall
add a few things, and conclude.
    First. I desire to know whether this author will abide by what
he asserts, as his own judgement, in opposition unto what he puts in
his exception against in my discourse: - P. 320, "All the influence
which the sacrifice of Christ's death, and the righteousness of his
life have, that I can find in the Scripture, is, that to this we owe
the covenant of grace;" that is, as he afterward explains himself,
"That God would for the sake of Christ enter into a new covenant
with mankind, wherein he promiseth pardon of sin and eternal life to
them that believe and obey the gospel." I leave him herein to his
second thoughts; for as he has now expressed himself, there is no
reconciliation of his assertion to common sense, or the fundamental
principles of Christian religion. That God entered into the new
covenant originally only for the sake of those things whereby that
covenant was ratified and confirmed, and that Christ was so the
mediator of the new covenant, that he died not for the redemption of
transgressions under the first covenant, whereby the whole
consideration of his satisfaction and of redemption, properly so
called, is excluded; that there is no consideration to be had of his
purchase of the inheritance of grace and glory, with many other
things of the same importance; and that the gospel, or the doctrine
of the gospel, is the new covenant (which is only a perspicuous
declaration of it), are things that may become these new sons of the
church of England, which the elder church would not have borne
withal.
    Secondly. The reader may take notice, that in some other
discourses of mine now published, which were all of them finished
before I had the advantage to peruse the friendly and judicious
animadversions of this author, he will find most of the matters
which he excepts against both cleared, proved, and vindicated, and
that those principles which he directs his opposition against are so
established, as that I neither expect nor fear any such assault upon
them, from this sort of men, as becometh a serious debate on things
of this nature.
    Thirdly. That I have confined myself, in the consideration of
this author's discourse, unto what I was personally concerned in,
without looking at or accepting of the advantages which offered
themselves of reflecting upon him, either as unto the matter of his
discourse, or unto the manner of expressing himself in its delivery.
For, besides that I have no mind, and that for many reasons, to
enter voluntarily into any contest with this man, the mistakes which
he has apparently been led into by ignorance or prejudice, his
fulsome errors against the Scripture, the doctrine of the ancient
church, and the church of England, are so multiplied and scattered
throughout the whole, that a discovery and confutation of them will
scarce deserve the expense of time that must be wasted therein,
until a more plausible countenance or strenuous defence be given
unto them. And as for what he aimeth at, I know well enough where to
find the whole of it, handled with more civility and appearance of
reason; and therefore, when I am free, or resolved to treat
concerning them, I shall do so in the consideration of what is
taught by his authors and masters, and not of what he has borrowed
from them.
    Fourthly. I shall assure the reader, that as a thousand of such
trifling cavillers or revilers, as I have had some to deal withal,
shall neither discourage nor hinder me in the remaining service
which I may have yet to fulfil, in the patience of God, for the
church of Christ and truth of the gospel; nor, it may be, occasion
me any more to divert in the least unto the consideration of what
they whisper or glamour, unless they are able to retake themselves
unto a more sober and Christian way of handling things in
controversy: so if they will not, or dare not, forego this supposed
advantage of reproaching the doctrine of nonconformists (under which
pretence they openly, and as yet securely, scorn and deride them,
when they are all of them the avowed doctrines of all the reformed
churches, and of this of England in particular); and if they think
it not meet to oppose themselves and endeavours unto those writings
which have been composed and published professedly in the
declaration and defence of the truth scoffed at and impugned by
them, but choose rather to exercise their skill and anger on
passages rent out of practical discourses, accommodated in the
manner of their delivery unto the capacity of the community of
believers, as it is fit they should be; I do suppose that, at one
time or other, from one hand or another, they may meet with some
such discourse, concerning justification and the imputation of the
righteousness of Christ, as may give them occasion to be quiet, or
to exercise the best of their skill and industry in an opposition
unto it, - as many such there are already extant, which they wisely
take no notice of, but only rave against occasional passages in
discourses of another nature, - unless they resolve on no occasion
to forego the shelter they have betaken themselves unto.
    
    
    
    End.