A DEFENCE OF THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION, BY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST;
TRUE GOSPEL-HOLINESS FLOWS FROM THENCE; OR, MR. FOWLER'S PRETENDED DESIGN OF CHRISTIANITY, PROVED TO BE NOTHING MORE THAN TO TRAMPLE UNDER FOOT THE BLOOD OF THE SON OF GOD; AND THE IDOLIZING OF MAN'S OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS
HOW WHILE HE PRETENDS TO BE A MINISTER OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND, HE OVERTHROWETH THE WHOLESOME DOCTRINE CONTAINED IN THE 10TH, 11TH, AND 13TH, OF THE THIRTY-NINE ARTICLES OF THE SAME, AND THAT HE FALLETH IN WITH THE QUAKER AND ROMANIST, AGAINST THEM.
BY JOHN BUNYAN
'Disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious.'—1 Peter 2:4
Printed for Francis Smith, at the Elephant and Castle, without Temple Bar, 1672.
This is one of the least known but most deeply interesting productions of John Bunyan. It has never been reprinted in a separate form; and once only in any edition of his works—that with notes, by Mason and Ryland, and then with great carelessness, the errata remaining uncorrected, and one leaf being entirely omitted. This treatise was published to counteract the pernicious errors in a very popular volume called 'The Design of Christianity, by Edward Fowler, minister of God's Word at Northill, in Bedfordshire. Printed by the authority of the Bishop of London, April 17th, 1671'; an octavo volume of 308 pages. The whole object proposed by Mr. Fowler was to shew, that Christianity is intended merely to restore man to the original state which he enjoyed before the fall.
Bunyan was at that time suffering his tedious imprisonment for conscience sake in Bedford jail; and having refused to expatriate himself, was in daily fear lest his cruel sentence, 'you must stretch by the neck' for refusing to attend the church service, should be carried into execution.
The fame of Fowler's gross perversion of the design of Christ's gospel reached Bunyan in prison, and its popularity grieved his spirit. At length, on the 13th of the 11th Month (February), a copy of the book was brought to him; and in the almost incredible space of forty-two short days, on the 27th of the 12th Month (March) 1671-2, he had fully analysed 'The Design,' exposed the sophistry, and scripturally answered the gross errors which abound in every page of this learned and subtle piece of casuistry.
The display of Latin and Greek quotations from the heathens and fathers, those thunderbolts of scholastic warfare, dwindled into mere pop-gun weapons before the sword of the Spirit, which puts all such rabble to utter rout. Never was the homely proverb of Cobbler Howe more fully exemplified, than in this triumphant answer to the subtilities of a man deeply schooled in all human acquirements, by an unlettered mechanic, whose knowledge was drawn from one book, the inspired volume:—
'The Spirit's teaching in a cobbler's shop, Doth Oxford and Cambridge o'ertop.'
The Babel building of the learned clergyman could not withstand the attack of one who was armed with such irresistible weapons. His words burn 'like a fire,' and consume the wood, hay and stubble; while they fell with overpowering weight, as 'a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces' (Jer 23:29). So cunningly was 'the design' constructed, that nothing but the fire and hammer of God's word could have demolished it. Armed with such weapons, he fearlessly from his dungeon made the attack; and, encouraged by the Spirit which animated the prophet, he was not 'dismayed at their faces,' but became as 'a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land' (Jer 1:48).
Such internal and powerful support encouraged Bunyan to use the greatest plainness of speech. He as fully aware of his danger, and of the great influence of Mr. Fowler, but he had counted the cost of plain honest dealing, and was undaunted by the perils which surrounded him. With noble bearing, worthy the descendant of the apostles, he declares, 'As for your subtle and close incensing THE POWER to persecute Nonconformists, know that we are willing, God assisting, to overcome you with truth and patience; not sticking to sacrifice our lives, and dearest concerns in a faithful witness-bearing.' 'Wherefore, sir, laying aside all fear of men, not regarding what you may procure to be inflicted upon me, for this my plain dealing with you, I tell you again, that you are one of them that have closely, privily, and devilishly, by your book, turned the grace of our God into a lascivious doctrine.' Mr. Fowler's opinions were not only contrary to scripture, but to that which some esteem a more heinous offence, they opposed the thirty-nine articles; and the result was that Bunyan, who vindicated the scriptures and those articles, was kept in prison, while the clergyman who opposed them was soon after consecrated Bishop of Gloucester! It may lead some simple readers to wonder how it could be, that state religion thus made a mockery of itself. The reason is perfectly obvious; Fowler's religion was that of a statesman, which may be comprised in one word, expediency; and the man who could publish as truth, that religion consists in obeying the orders made therein by the state, deserved the primacy of the united churches of England and Ireland. His words are, speaking of religious observances, 'Whatsoever of such are commended by the custom of the places we live in, or commanded by superiors, or made by any circumstance convenient to be done; our Christian liberty consists in this, that we have leave to do them. And, indeed, it is so far from being a sin, that it would be so to refuse so to do.' Could the state have selected a fitter tool for their purposes?
Mr. Fowler is somewhat inconsistent with regard to persecution; in p. 266 he says, 'As for factious hypocrite, they would be with ease supprest'; in p. 262 he describes these factious hypocrites, 'Such as preach up free grace,—laying hold on Christ's righteousness and renouncing our own righteousness.' Such are to be suppressed, but for Roman catholics 'imposing their own sense upon the word of God, and their persecuting, burning, and damning men for not subscribing to theirs as to God's word can be no better than an act of devilish pride and barbarous cruelty,' p. 247. Does not the same pride and cruelty apply equally to the church of Bonner for burning Latimer, of Fowler, for the imprisonment of Bunyan; and of Philpot, for dragging his brother, Shore, from his family, and shutting him up in Exeter jail?
The admirers of Bunyan will feel surprised at his strictures upon persons calling themselves Quakers. In these severe remarks he does not refer to the Society of Friends; but to some unworthy individuals who assumed the name of Quakers. They will be equally surprised at his freedom of speech with one who he considered to be an enemy to his Lord. He calls Mr. Fowler 'a brutish, beastly man,' 'this thief,' 'a blasphemer,' 'horribly wicked,' 'a learned ignorant Nicodemus,' 'one that would fling heaven's gates off the hinges,' 'a bat,' 'an angel of darkness.' Such epithets sound strangely in our more refined age; but they were then considered essential to faithful dealing. The Bishop in his reply, called 'Dirt wiped off,' beat the tinker in abusive language; he calls Bunyan 'A wretched scribbler,' 'grossly ignorant,' 'most unchristian and wicked,' 'a piece of proud folly,' 'so very dirty a creature that he disdains to dirt his fingers with him,' 'Bunyan can no more disgrace him than a rude creature can eclipse the moon by barking at her; or make palaces contemptible by lifting up their legs against them,' 'a most black-mouthed calumniator,' 'infamous in Bedford for a pestilent schismatic,' and with a heart full of venom he called upon his majesty not to let such a firebrand, impudent, malicious schismatic to enjoy toleration, or go unpunished, lest he should subvert all government. Bunyan had then suffered nearly twelve years' incarceration in a miserable jail, and was more zealous and intrepid than ever: and yet this learned fanatic would have added to his privations, because he could not resist the arrows of truth with which this poor prisoner for Christ assailed him, drawn all burning from the furnace of God's holy word.
Bunyan's views of the kingly office of Christ are very striking: not only is he king over the church requiring personal obedience, but over the universe for the benefit of believers. 'Christ is as well a Lord for us, as to, or over us; and it highly concerneth the soul—when it believeth in, or trusteth to, the righteousness of Christ, for justification with God—to see that this righteousness lords it over death and sin, and the devil and hell for us.' 'He led captivity captive, that is, carried them prisoners, whose prisoners we were: He rode to heaven in triumph, having in chains the foes of believers.'
This compendious treatise is upon a most important subject, and detects dangerous errors enveloped in most insinuating sophistry. In preparing this edition for the press, the text has been carefully collated with the original, which is in the editor's possession. The quotations have been verified; those from Fowler by the first edition of his 'Design of Christianity,' 1671. The extracts from 'Penn's Sandy Foundation,' by the second edition, in the Friends' library, Devonshire House. Those from Campian have not been discovered; the author's being confined at Bedford, while his book was printing in London, occasioned numerous typographical errors which have been corrected, and all the obsolete words explained.
To assist the reader, a few leading words have been introduced in italics, and between brackets, to distinguish them from the text.
A PREMONITION TO THE READER
That thou mayest not be tired with longing to know what errors, and doctrines destructive to Christianity, Mr. Fowler in his feigned design of Christianity, hath presented the world withal; and that thou mayest even in the entry, see that which more fully is shewn in the house: namely, of the contradiction that is in his book, to the wholesome doctrine of the church of England, while he stands a minister of the same, I have thought convenient, instead of an epistle, to present thee with those doctrines contained in his; and that are refuted by the book that thou hast in thy hand. The which also, I hope, will be a sufficient apology for this my undertaking.
His Doctrines are these:
1. That the first principles of morals, those first written in men's hearts, are the essentials, the indispensable, and fundamental points or doctrines of the gospel (p. 8, 281, 282). 2. That these first principles, are to be followed, principally, as they are made known to us, by the dictates of human nature: and that this obedience is the first, and best sort of obedience, we Christians can perform (p. 8, 9, 10). 3. That there is such a thing as a soundness of soul; and the purity of human nature in the world (p. 6). 4. That the law, in the first principles of it, is far beyond, and more obliging on the hearts of Christians, than is, that of coming to God by Christ (p. 7-10). 5. That the precept of coming to God by Christ, &c., is in its own nature, a thing indifferent, and absolutely considered neither good nor evil (p. 7, 8, 9). 6. That Christ's great errand, in coming into the world, was to put us again in possession of the holiness we had lost (p. 12). 7. That John the Baptist, the Angel that was sent to Zacharias, and Mary, preached this doctrine, and so also did Malachi the prophet (p. 13). 8. That Christ by saving us from sin, is meant, not first, his saving us from the punishment, but from the filth, and from the punishment, as a consequence of that (p. 14, 15). 9. That Christ's work, when he was come, was to establish ONLY an inward real righteousness (p. 16). 10. That Christ's fulfilling the law FOR US, was by giving more perfect, and lighter instances of moral duties, than were before expressly given (p. 17). 11. That Christ's doctrine, life, actions, miracles, death, resurrection, ascension, and coming again to judgment, is all preached to establish us in this righteousness (chap. 2-8). 12. That it is not possible a wicked man should have God's pardon (p. 119). 13. That it is impossible Christ's righteousness should be imputed to an unrighteous man (p. 120). 14. And that if it were, he boldly affirms, it would signify as little to his happiness, while he continueth so, as would a gorgeous and splendid garment, to one that is almost starved (p. 120). 15. For God to justify a wicked man, &c., would far more disparage his justice and holiness, than advance his grace and kindness (p. 130). 16. He saith, men are not capable of God's pardoning grace, till they have truly repented them of all their sins (p. 130). 17. The devils, saith he, have a large measure of these attributes of God; as his power, knowledge, &c. (p. 124). 18. That Christ did himself perform, as our example, whatever he required of us to do; yea, that he trod himself EVERY step of our way to heaven (p. 148). 19. The salvation of Christ, first, consists in curing our wounds (our filth) and secondarily, in freeing us from the smart (p. 216). 20. That pardon doth not so much consist in remission, as in healing; [to wit, our filth,] (p. 216). 21. Faith justifieth, as it includeth true holiness in the nature of it; it justifieth AS it doth so (p. 221). 22. That faith which entitles a sinner to so high a privilege as that of justification, must needs be such as complieth with all the purposes of Christ's coming into the world, &c. And it is no less necessary that it should justify as it doth this (p. 222). 23. He wonders that any worthy man should be so difficultly persuaded, to embrace THIS account of justifying faith (p. 222). 24. There can be no pretence for a man, to think that faith should be the condition or instrument of justification, as it complieth with, only the precept of relying on Christ's merits for the obtaining of it (p. 223). 25. It is, saith he, as clear as the sun at noon-day, that obedience to the other precepts must go before obedience to this (p. 223). 26. He shall be his Apollo, that can give him a sufficient reason, why justifying faith should consist in recumbence and reliance on Christ's merits for the pardon of sin (p. 224). 27. He will take the boldness to tell those who are displeased with this account of justifying faith, that in his opinion it is impossible they should ONCE think of any other (p. 225). 28. The imputation of Christ's righteousness, consisteth in dealing with sincerely righteous persons, as if they were perfectly so, &c. (p. 225). 29. The grand intent of the gospel is, to make us partakers of inward real righteousness; and it is but secondary, that we should be accepted as before (p. 226). 30. It is not possible (he saith) that any other notion of this doctrine should have truth in it (p. 226). 31. Whatsoever is commended by the customs of the place we live in, or commanded by superiors, or made by ANY circumstance convenient to be done, our Christian liberty consists in this that we have leave to do them (p. 242). 31. For our refusing to comply with these, can hardly proceed from any thing, than a proud affectation of singularity, or at best from superstitious scrupluosity (p. 242). 33. Those ministers hinder the design of Christianity, that preach up free grace, and Christian privileges, OTHER WAYS than as motives to obedience, and that scarce ever insist upon any other duties than those of believing, laying hold of Christ's righteousness, applying the promises, &c. (p. 262). 34. But to make the Christian duties to consist either wholly or mostly in these, &c., is the way effectually to harden hypocrites (p. 262). 35. Those ministers do nothing less than promote the design of Christianity, that are never in their element, but when they are talking of the irrespectiveness of God's decrees, the absolute [ness of his] promises, the utter disability, and perfect impotence of natural men, to do any thing towards their own conversion (p. 262). 36. He is the only child of Abraham, who in the purity of his heart obeyeth those substantial laws, that are by God imposed upon him (p. 283). 37. There is NO duty more affectionately commanded in the gospel, than that of almsgiving (p. 284). 38. It is impossible we should not have the design of Christianity accomplished in us, &c., if we make our Saviour's most excellent life, the pattern of our lives (p. 296). 39. To do well is better than believing (p. 299). 40. To be imitators of Christ's righteousness, even of the righteousness we should rely on, is counted by Mr. Fowler, more noble, than to rely thereon, or trust thereto (p. 300).
I have given thee here but a taste of these things; and by my book but a brief reply to the errors that he by his hath divulged to the world: Ay, though many more are by me reflected than the forty thou are here presented with.
God give thee eyes to see, and an heart to shun and escape all these things that may yet come to pass, for hurt, and to stand before the Son of Man.
Thus hoping that this short taste may make Mr. Fowler ashamed, and thee receive satisfaction, touching the truth and state of this man's spirit and principles; I rest,
Thine to serve thee in the gospel of Christ,
J. BUNYAN From Prison, the 27th of the 12th Month, 1671. [27th March, 1672]
1. Fowler's words, in place of, &c., are 'while he continues so (if it were possible for God to do it).'
2. Holiness is excepted!!
3. 'Recumbence,' depending upon.
4. Fowler adds, 'and not also in his power for the mortification of it.'
A DEFENCE OF THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST;
THAT GOSPEL-HOLINESS FLOWS FROM THENCE.
Having heard of your book, entitled, The Design of Christianity; and that in it was contained such principles as gave just offence to Christian ears; I was desirous of a view thereof, that from my sight of things I might be the better able to judge. But I could not obtain it till the 13th of this 11th month, which was too soon for you, Sir, a pretended minister of the word, so vilely to expose to public view the rottenness of your heart in principles diametrically opposite to the simplicity of the gospel of Christ. And had it not been for this consideration, that it is not too late to oppose open blasphemy (such as endangereth the souls of thousands) I had cast by this answer, as a thing out of season.
Two things are the design of your book.
1. To assert and justify a thing which you call inward, real righteousness and holiness.
2. To prove, That the whole, the grand, the only, and ultimate design of the gospel of Christ, is to begin and perfect this righteousness.
Into the truth, or untruth, of both these, as briefly as I may, I shall at this time inquire.
First, Therefore, a little to examine the nature of your holiness and righteousness, as yourself hath described the same.
'It is (say you) so sound a complexion of soul, as maintains in life and vigour, whatsoever is essential to it, and suffereth not anything unnatural to mix with that which is so; by the force and power whereof a man is enabled to behave himself as [becometh] a creature indued with a principle of reason, keeps his supreme faculty in its throne, brings into due subjection all his inferior ones, his sensual imagination, his brutish passions and affections.'
You add farther, 'It is the purity of the human nature, engaging those in whom it resides, to demean themselves suitably in that state in which God hath placed them, and not to act disbecomingly in any condition, circumstance or relation.'
You say, moreover, 'It is a divine, or God-like nature, causing an hearty approbation of, and an affectionate compliance with the eternal laws of righteousness; and a behaviour agreeable to the essential, and immutable differences of good and evil' (p. 6).
Farther, You call it a principle or habit of soul, 'originally dictates of human nature' (p.8).
'A disposition and temper of the inward man, as powerfully inclines it to regard, and attend to; affectionately to embrace and adhere to; to be actuated by, and under the government of, all those [good] practical principles, that are made known either by revelation, nature, or the use of reason' (p. 11). Which in conclusion you call that holiness which already we have lost (p. 12).
Thus, Sir, is your holiness, by you described; which holiness you aver is that, which is the great and only design of Christ to promote both by his life and glorious gospel.
To take therefore your description in pieces, if happily there may be found ought, but naught therein.
1. 'It is (say you) an healthful complexion of soul, the purity of the human nature,' &c.
Ans. These are but words; there is no such thing as the purity of our nature, abstract and distinct from the sinful pollution that dwelleth in us (Rom 7:24). It is true, a man may talk of, and by argument distinguish between nature and sin; but that there is such a principle in man (since Adam's fall) a principle by which he may act, or that Christ's whole gospel-design is, the helping forward such a principle, is altogether without scripture or reason. There is no man by nature, that hath any soundness in him (Isa 1:6), no, neither in soul or body; his understanding is darkened, his mind and conscience is defiled (Titus 1:15), his will is perverted and obstinate (Eph 4:18). 'There is no judgment in his goings' (Isa 59:6-10). Where now is the sound and healthful complexion of soul? Let the best come to the best, when we have mustered up all the excellences of the soul of man, as man, shall nought we find there, but the lame, the blind, the defiled, the obstinate and misled faculties thereof. And never think to evade me by saying, the graces of the Spirit of God are pure: for with them you have nothing to do; your doctrine is of the sound complexion of soul, the purity of the human nature, a habit of soul, and the holiness we lost in Adam, things a great way off from the spirit of grace, or the gracious workings of the spirit. You talk indeed of a divine or godlike nature, but this is still the same with your pure human nature, or with your sound complexion, or habit of soul; and so must either respect man, as he was created in the image or likeness of God, or else you have palpable contradiction in this your description. But it must be concluded, that the divine nature you talk of, is that, and no other than the dictates of the human nature, or your feigned purity thereof; because you make it by your words the self same; it is the purity of the human nature, it is a divine or Godlike nature.
2. But you proceed to tell us of a degree, it is so sound and healthful a complexion or temperature of the faculties, qualities, or virtues of soul, 'as maintains in life and vigour whatsoever is essential to it, and suffereth not anything unnatural to mix with that which is so.'
Ans. If, as was said before, there is no soundness of soul in man, as man, and no such thing as a purity of our nature, abstract from that which is sin; then where shall we find so healthful a complexion, or temperature of soul, as to maintain in life and vigour whatsoever is essential to it, and that suffereth not any thing unnatural to mix with that which is so?
But let us take Paul's definition of a man; 'There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes' (Rom 3). I the rather give you this of Paul, than any of my own; because it is the soundest complexion of soul, that the Holy Ghost himself could draw. Here is now no purity of the human nature, nor such sound complexion of soul as can keep itself from mixing with that which is contrary to itself. And note, that this is the state of all men, and that as they stand in themselves before God: wherefore together, even altogether, all the men in the world, take them in their most pure naturals, or with all the purity of humanity, which they can make, and together, they still will be unprofitable, and so much come short of doing good, 'that every mouth might be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God' (v 19).
3. But proceeding, you say, that this complexion is so forcible as to 'keep his supreme faculty (I suppose you mean the conscience) in its throne, (and that) brings into due subjection all his inferior ones, (as namely) his sensual imagination, brutish passions and affections.'
Ans. These words suppose that it is within the power of a man's own soul, always to keep sin out of itself, and so guilt out of the conscience; albeit the scripture saith, that both the mind and it are defiled with the filth of sin, in all whoever do not believe the gospel, with which belief this description meddleth not (Titus 1:15).
They suppose that this conscience is perfectly clear and light, when the scriptures say they have the understanding darkened; yea and farther, in despite of these your sayings of the sound complexion of soul, of the purity of human nature, and of this supreme faculty, the scriptures teach, that man in his best estate is altogether vanity, that they are darkness and night, &c. (Eph 4:18,19; 1 Thess 5; Psa 39:5).
'Yea, (say you) this sound complexion brings into due subjection all his inferior ones.'
Ans. Here seems to be a contradiction to the former part of this description, yea, to the nature of the soul itself; for you say before, it suffereth not any thing unnatural to mix itself therewith, when yet here you seem to suggest that part, I say, even part of itself is disobedient and rebellious, 'it brings into subjection all his inferior ones.'
'It brings into due subjection.'
Ans. Due subjection is such as is everlasting, universal, perfect in nature, kind, and manner, such as the most righteous, perfect, comprehensive law, or commandment cannot object against, or find fault therewith. Here's a soul! here's a pure human nature! here are pure dictates of a brutish beastly man, that neither knows himself nor one title of the word of God. But 'There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet are not washed from their filthiness' (Prov 30:12).
'It is the purity of the human nature, engaging those in whom it resides,' &c.
Ans. That is, verily in none at all; for there is no such thing in any man in this world, as a purity of human nature: 'we are all as an unclean thing' (Isa 64:6) and 'Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one' (Job 14:4). Again,
'What is man, that he should be clean? or he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?' (Job 15:14). These are therefore expressions without the testimony of the word, arising from your own phantasy.
'It is a divine, or Godlike nature.'
Ans. This you seem also to fetch from the similitude or likeness of God that was in us at our first creation, before we sinned; but that similitude being at best but created, and since most unspeakably defiled, defaced and polluted with sin; there is now, no not in the best of men, as men, any sinless likeness, and similitude of God to be found, no such petty divine, or Godlike nature to be found, as you imagine.
But having thus stated your holiness in its nature and essence, you come in the next place to tell us, under what considerations it moveth a person to act, also by what rules and laws it squareth its acts and doings.
FIRST, By or under what considerations it acts, and these you scatter here and there in your description of holiness, under these heads. I. To act 'as becomes a creature endued with a principle of reason,' eyeing the state or place in which God hath set him; approving of, affecting and complying with the eternal laws of righteousness (p. 6), which eternal laws in page 8 you call 'divine moral laws,' those that were first written in the hearts of men, 'and originally dictates of human nature,' &c. II. 'To do these, from truly generous motives and principles' (p. 7). Such as these, 1. Because 'it is most highly becoming all reasonable creatures (you might also have added, and those unreasonable) to obey God in everything; (within their spheres) and as much disbecoming them, to disobey him' (p. 8). 2. 'Because it is a base thing to do unjustly' (p. 11).
Now a little to touch upon all these, and then to proceed to what is behind.
I. To act and do the things of the moral law, but as 'creatures endued with a principle of reason,' is but to do things in our sphere as men, as the beast, the hog or horse doth things in his, as a beast; which is at best, if it could be attained, to act but as pure naturals, which state of man is of at infinite distance from that, in which it is by God expected the man must act, that doth ought that is pleasing in his sight. For,
1. The qualification and consideration by you propounded, is that which is in all men, in men simply as men, they being reasonable creatures, and somewhat, though but somewhat capable of acting as such.
2. This qualification is not only in, but of men; reason is of the man himself, even that which is as essential to him, as is that of his being created or made.
3. The law also, which you call divine, moral, and eternal, is that which is naturally seated in the heart, and as you yourself express it, is originally the dictates of human nature, or that which mankind doth naturally assent to (p. 11).
Now I say, that a man cannot by these principles, and these qualifications, please the God of heaven, is apparent. (1.) Because none of these are faith, 'But without faith it is impossible to please him' (Heb 11:6). (2.) Because none of these are of the Holy Ghost, but there is nothing accepted of God, under a New Testament consideration, but those which are the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-24). (3.) The man and principles you have stated, may be such as are utterly ignorant of Jesus Christ, and of all his New Testament things, as such: 'But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: [the things of his New Testament] for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned' (1 Col 2:14). (4.) Your qualifications and considerations, know nothing at all of the adoption of sons, and of our acting and doing our duty as such. You only content yourself to rest within the confines of the human nature, acts of reason, as men or creatures only, or in their supposed pure, natural principles.
And Sir, a little by way of digression; I will tell you also of our truly Christian righteousness, both as to its original or first principle; and also how, or under what capacity, it puts the person that is acted by it.
First, The principle which is laid within us, it is not the purity of the human nature, but of the Holy Ghost itself, which we have of God received, by believing in the Son of God, a principle as far above yours of humanity, as is the heavens above the earth; yours being but like those of the first Adam, but ours truly those of the second (1 Col 6:19). 'As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly' (1 Cor 15:48).
Now whosoever hath not this principle, although he be a creature, and also have the dictates of the human nature, yea, and also follows them, yet he is not Christ's: 'If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his' (Rom 8:9). Thus therefore is the Christian principle another from, and far above, your heathenish Pagan one. By this Spirit is the Christian qualified with principles, not natural, but spiritual, such as faith, hope, joy, peace, &c. all which are the fruits of the revelation of the forgiveness of sins, freely by grace (Gal 5:25), 'through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ' (Rom 3:24). In this spirit and faith we walk, by this spirit we are led (Rom 8:14), even into the joy and peace of the New Testament of our Lord; wherefore our holy actions are the fruits of righteousness, that is by Jesus Christ, not by our human nature, or the purity of it in us; yea, they are the fruits of the Spirit of God, the qualifications that attend the new covenant, and those that by the work of regeneration are brought within the bounds and privileges thereof. Wherefore,
Second, The capacity that we are in, who act and do from the heavenly principle; it is that of sons, the sons of God by adoption, as the apostle said, 'Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father' (Gal 4:6). And again, 'As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God' (Rom 8:14). This is a far other than is your human description of acting as a creature, endued with a principle of reason; for here is a man acts as a son, endued with the Holy Spirit of God, who hath, before the world was, predestinated him to this estate, by Jesus Christ, to himself (Eph 1:4, 4:6). As a son therefore, the Christian acts and does, because he is endued with that high and heavenly principle mentioned before; by which principle this man hath received a new heart, a new spirit, a new understanding, a good conscience, so made by 'faith in the blood of the Lord Jesus' (Heb 10). Thus being made again anew and another man, he acts from a new and another principle than yours; a principle as far beyond and above you, as is a man above a brute, and as is grace above nature (2 Col 5:14-16).
Third, As the Christian acts and does from a better principle, and under a better capacity or consideration than that you have described; so (to allude to your own notion) the first principles by which they receive this spirit and adoption, are not those principles of morals, or those originally dictates of human nature; but it is through the hearing of faith (Gal 3:1-3), by which we understand, that the Son of God became a man, died for our sins, hath saved us from the curse of God, and accounted us to be the righteousness of God in him; this being heard with the gospel, and a New Testament hearing, the Holy Ghost forthwith possesseth us, by the glorious working whereof we are helped, through the Son, to call the God of heaven, our Father.
Now thus being made free from sin, by the only faith of Jesus Christ, 'we have our fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life' (Rom 6:22).
And here come in those reasonable conclusions, which you would make the very radicals of Christianity, they being only remote, and after conclusions, drawn from the fore-mentioned mercy of God, viz., from predestination, calling, adoption, and justification by Christ's blood, while we in ourselves are sinners. I say these are the things which Paul endeavoured to provoke the Romans, Philippians, and Colossians, to an holy conversation by.
To the Romans, 'I beseech you therefore,' saith he, 'by the mercies of God, (What mercies? Why those of election, redemption, calling, justification, and adoption, mentioned in the foregoing chapters) that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service' (Rom 12:1).
To the Philippians, 'If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like minded' (Phil 2:1,2).
To the Colossians, 'If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God; set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth; for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory' (Col 3:1-4). Now mark; mortify therefore, therefore! wherefore? why, because they were risen with Christ; because they should appear at the end of this world with Christ himself in glory; therefore mortify the deeds of the body, or our members that are upon the earth.
These Sir, are the motives by which we Christians act; because we are forgiven, because we are sons, and if sons, then heirs, and so we act; but to speak to this more anon.
Perhaps you will say I deal not fairly with you, because you treat, as of moral, so of gospel or New Testament laws.
But to that I will answer at present, that in this description of your holy principle, which is the foundation of your book, whether the laws be natural or spiritual, moral or of grace, the principle by which you do them, is no other than the principle of nature, the dictates of the human nature; and so such as can by no means reach the doctrines of the gospel any farther than to make a judgment of them, by that wisdom which is 'enmity with God,' as will farther be seen in my progress through your book.
Indeed you make mention of divine laws, and that under two heads. 1. Such as are of an indispensable and eternal obligation, as those purely moral. 2. Such which you call positive precepts, in themselves of an indifferent nature, and absolutely considered, are neither good nor evil. Of those of this kind that we have under the gospel, you say you know but three, viz., That of coming to God by Christ, and the institutions of baptism, and the Lord's supper.
So then, although you talk of gospel positive laws, and particularly that of coming to God by Christ; yet those which you call first principles of morals, are of higher concern with you, and more indispensable by far than this, this being a thing of an indifferent nature, and in itself absolutely considered, is neither good nor evil; but the other is the life of the matter. But a little to gather you up.
The morals, say you, are indispensable, and good in themselves, but that of coming to God by Christ, a thing indifferent, and in itself neither good nor evil. Wherefore though in this your description, you talk of conforming to all those good and practical principles, that are made known either by revelation, nature, or the use of reason, yet in this your obedience you reckon coming to God by Christ, but an act of a very indifferent nature, a thing if done not good in itself, neither evil in itself, should a man leave it undone; and so consequently a man may have in him the ground and essentials of Christianity without it, may be saved, and go to heaven without it: for this I say, whatsoever is of an indifferent nature in itself, is not essential to the Christian religion; but may or may not be done without the hazard of eternal salvation; but say you, this of coming to God by Christ, is one of the positive precepts, which are in themselves things indifferent, and neither good nor evil: therefore not of the substance of Christianity.
But, Sir, where learned you this new doctrine, as to reckon coming to God by Christ, a thing of so indifferent a nature, a thing not good in itself, but with respect to certain circumstances. Had you said this of baptism and the Supper of the Lord, I could with some allowance have borne your words, but to count coming to God by Christ a thing indifferent in itself, is a blasphemy that may not be borne by Christians, it being too high a contempt of the blood, and too great a disgrace to the person of the Lord, the king of glory; of which more hereafter, but to return.
II. The intent of this your description is to set before us these two things.
(1.) What are the essentials of the rule of that holiness, which by the gospel we are immediately obliged to, if we would be justified in the sight of God.
(2.) What are the principles by which we act, when we do these works aright.
1. For the first you tell us, 'they are the first principles of morals, such as are self-evident, and therefore not capable of being properly demonstrated; as being no less knowable, and easily assented to, than any proposition that may be brought for the proof of them.' Such as are self-evident or evident of themselves; to what? To us as men that know the principles of reason, and that are as easily assented to as any proposition; why said you not such as may be as easily known, as we know there is a day or night, winter and summer, or any other thing that may be brought for the proof of them. This law therefore is none other than that mentioned in Romans 2:14, 15 which is the law of our nature, or that which was implanted in us in the day of our creation, and therefore is said to be ourselves, even nature itself (1 Cor 11:14).
2. The principle, say you, by which we act, and in the strength of which we do this law, it is the principle of reason, or a reasonable compliance with this law written in our hearts, and originally dictates of human nature, &c. which certain principle, say you, is this, to count it 'most highly becoming all reasonable creatures, to obey God in every thing; and as much disbecoming them, in any thing to disobey him.'
The sum is; this your holiness both in root and act is not other than what is common to all the men on earth; I mean so common as that for the first, is in their nature, as the second is also part of themselves, they being creatures whose prime or principal distinction from other, consisteth more in that they are reasonable, and such as have reason as a thing essential to them; wherefore the excellency that you have discoursed of, is none other than the excellency and goodness that is of this world, such as in the first principles of it, is common to Heathens, Pagans, Turks, Infidels: and that as evidently dictates to those that have not heard the gospel (I mean as to the nature the good and evil) as it doth in them that sit under the sound thereof; and is the self-same which our late ungodly heretics the Quakers have made such a stir to promote and exalt, only in the description thereof you seem more ingenious than they: for whereas they erroneously call it Christ, the light of Christ, faith, grace, hope, the spirit, the word that is nigh, &c. you give it the names due thereto, viz. A complexion or complication and combination of all the virtue of the soul, the human nature, the dictates of it, the principles of reason, such as are self-evident, than which there is nothing mankind doth naturally assent to (p. 6-11). Only here, as I have said, you glorify your errors also, with names and titles that are not to be found, but in your own deluded brains: as that the virtues of the souls can keep themselves incommixed, that there is yet in us the purity of the humane nature, or such a disposition, that can both by light and power give a man to see, and powerfully incline him to, and bring him under the government of all those good and practical principles, that are made known either by revelation, nature, or the use of reason.
But I say, these principles thus stated by you, being the principles, and the goodness of this world, and such as have not faith, but the law; not the Holy Ghost, but humane nature in them; they cannot be those which you affirm, was or is the design, the great, the only, and ultimate design of Christ, or his gospel to promote, and propagate in the world; neither with respect to our justification before God from the curse; neither with respect to the workings of his Spirit, and the faith of Jesus in our hearts, the true gospel or evangelical holiness.
First, It is not the righteousness that justifieth us before God from the curse; because it is that which is properly our own; and acted and managed by principles of our own, arising originally in the roots of it, from our own. There is the righteousness of men, and the righteousness of God: that which is the righteousness of men, is that which we do work from matter and principles of our own; but that which is the righteousness of God, is that which is wrought from matter and principles purely divine, and of the nature of God. Again, that which is our own righteousness, is that which is wrought in and by our own persons as men; but that which is the righteousness of God, is that which is wrought in and by the second person in the Trinity, as God and man in one person; and that resideth only in that person of the Son. I speak now of the righteousness by which we stand just before God, from the curse of the law. Now this righteousness of ours, our own righteousness, the apostle always opposeth to the righteousness of God, saying, 'They going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God' (Rom 9:3). Father, This righteousness of our own, Paul counts loss and dog's-meat, in comparison of that other, far more glorious righteousness, which he calleth as it is in truth, the righteousness of God (Phil 3:7-9), which as I said but now, resideth in the person of the Son. Therefore (saith Paul) I cast away my own righteousness, and do count it loss, and 'but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.' The righteousness therefore, that is our own, that ariseth from matter and principles of our own (such as that which you have described) justifieth us not before God from the curse.
Second, The righteousness that you have described, justifieth us not, as before, because it is the righteousness which is of the moral law, that is, it is wrought by us, as walking in the law. Now it mattereth not, whether you respect the law in its first principles, or as it is revealed in the table of the ten commandments, they are in nature but one and the same, and their substance and matter is written in our hearts, as we are men. Now this righteousness, the apostle casteth away, as was shewn before; 'Not having mine own righteousness (saith he) which is of the law'; why? Because the righteousness that saveth us from the wrath of God, is the righteousness of God; and so a righteousness that is without the law. 'But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe' (Rom 3:21,22). The righteousness of God without the law; the righteousness of Christ who is naturally God; wherefore such a righteousness as was accomplished by him that was Lord, and the very God of the law; whose nature was infinite, and not that which the law could command or condemn; neither was the command of the law, the great and principal argument with him, no, not in its first and highest principles, to do or continue to do it; but even that which the law commanded of us, that he did, not by the law, but by that spirit of life, that eternal spirit, and Godhead, which was essential to his very being: He did naturally and infinitely that which the law required of us, from higher, and more mighty principles than the law could require of him: for I should reckon it a piece of prodigious blasphemy to say, that the law could command his God; the creature, his Lord and Creator: but this Lord God, Jesus Christ, even he hath accomplished righteousness, even righteousness that is without, that is above, higher, and better than that of the law; and that is the righteousness that is given to, and put upon all them that believe. Wherefore the Lord Jesus Christ, in his most blessed life, was neither prompted to actions of holiness, nor managed in them, by the purity of humane nature, or those you call first principles of morals, or as he was simply a reasonable creature; but being the natural Son of God, truly, and essentially, eternal as the Father; by the eternal Spirit, his Godhead, was his manhood governed, and acted, and spirited to do and suffer. 'He through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God' (Heb 9:14); which offering respects not only his act of dying, but also that by which he was capacitated to die without spot in his sight; which was the infinite dignity, and sinlessness of his person; and the perfect justice of his actions. Now this person, thus acting, is approved of, or justified by the law to be good: for if the righteousness of the law be good, which law is but a creature, the righteousness of the Lord, the God of this law, must needs be much more good; wherefore here is the law, and its perfection swallowed up, even as the light of a candle, or star is swallowed up by the light of the sun. Thus then is the believer made, not the righteousness of the law, 'but the righteousness of God in Christ' (2 Cor 5:21), because Christ Jesus, who is the righteousness of the Christian, did walk in this world, in, and under the law; not by legal and humane principles, which are the excellences of men, but in, and by those that are divine, even such as were, and are of his own nature, and the essence of his eternal Godhead. This is the righteousness without the law, accomplished by a person and principles, far otherwise, than is he, or those you make description of; and therefore yours cannot be that, by which we stand just before the justice of God without the law. Now if it be a righteousness without the law, then it is a righteousness without men, a righteousness that cannot be found in the world; for take away the law, the rule, and you take away, not only the righteousness, but that by which men, as men, work righteousness in the world: 'Mine own righteousness which is of the law.' The righteousness then by which a man must stand just in the sight of God from the curse, is not to be found in men, nor in the law, but in him, and him only, who is greater, and also, without the law; for albeit, for our sakes he became under the law, even to the curse and displeasure of God; yet the principles by which he walked in the world to Godward, they were neither humane, nor legal, but heavenly, and done in the Spirit of the Son. Wherefore it is not the righteousness you have described, by which we stand just before God.
Third, The righteousness you have described, cannot be that which justifieth us before God, because of its imperfections, and that both with respect to the principle, and the power with which it is managed: for though you have talked of a sound complexion of soul, the purity of the humane nature, and that with this addition of power, as to be able to keep itself incommixt with that which is not of itself; yet we Christians know, and that by the words of God, that there is in man, as man, now no soundness at all, but from the crown of the head, to the sole of the foot, botches and boils, putrefactions and sores (Isa 1:6). We are ALL an unclean thing, and our righteousness as filthy ulcerous rags (Isa 64:6). 'If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law' (Gal 3:21). Could a man perform the law to the liking of the justice of the eternal majesty, then would the law give life to that man; but because of the perfection of an infinite justice, and the weakness and unprofitableness of the law through our flesh (Rom 8:3), therefore, though you speak yet farther of the excellency of your sound complexion, and of the purity of the human nature, you must fly from yourself, to another righteousness for life, or at the last stick in the jaws of death and everlasting desperation. 'For by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified' (Gal 2:16).
It is therefore no better than error, thus to ascribe to poor man, 'that hath drank iniquity like water,' a soundness of soul, a purity of human nature. Wherefore Jude saith of you, and of all such naturalists, 'That even in the things that you know naturally, as the brute, in them you corrupt yourselves' (Jude 10), even in the very principles, the first or original dictates of your nature or humanity. There is none that understandeth or is good, therefore there is none that doth good, no not one: that is, none as continuing in a natural state; none by the power or principles of nature; for he meaneth here, in your own sense, as men by natural principles have to do with the justice of the law.
Fourth, The righteousness which you have described cannot be that which justifieth us before God, because it is that which is not of faith. 'The law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them' (Gal 3:12). The apostle also in the 10th chapter of the Romans tells us, that the righteousness that is completed by doing the law is one, and another besides the righteousness of faith. For faith in the justification of a sinner from the curse and wrath of God, respecteth only the mercy of God, and forgiveness of sins for the sake of Christ. 'God for Christ's sake hath forgiven him that is enabled to believe, that is, trust to, and venture the eternal concern of his soul upon the righteousness that is no where to be found, but in the person of the Son of God.' For there is justice more than answerable to all the demands of the law, and equal to the requirements of the eternal justice of God, and he is our justice; he is made unto us of God, righteousness, or justice; that is, the righteousness or justice that is in him, is by God accounted the man's that shall accept thereof by faith, that he might be made the justice or righteousness of God in him. For the righteousness that saveth a sinner from damnation must be equal to that in the eternal Deity: But where can that be found but in him that is naturally God, as is indeed the Son of the Father; in him, therefore, and not in the law, there is a righteousness fit for faith to apply to. Besides, the law is not, neither can be, the object of faith to men; for that which is the object of faith (I speak now as to justifying righteousness) it must be a righteousness already completed, and as I said, a righteousness to be received and accepted, being now perfected and offered, and given to us by the kindness and mercy of God; but a man may believe long enough in the law, before that performs for him a perfect righteousness. The law can work nothing unless it be wrath. 'No thou must work by, and not believe in, the law' (Rom 4). Besides, all that cometh out of the mouth of the law is, 'Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them' (Gal 3:10), which no man is capable of doing, so as to escape the curse by doing, that hath once, or first transgressed the same. Wherefore it is a vain thing, yea an horrible wickedness in you, thus to abuse the law, and the weakness of man, by suggesting that the only, the ultimate, or grand design of Christ Jesus was, or is, the promoting of a righteousness by the law, that is performed by humane principles in us.
I could double, yea ten times double the number of these arguments against you, but I will pass from this to the second thing. 'The righteousness you have described, is not the true gospel inward holiness.'
I told you before, that the principles which you have described, are not evangelical principles; and now I will add, that as they are not such in themselves, so neither do they fetch in, or obtain by our adhering to them, those things which alone can make, or work in the soul, those truly gospel inward acts of holiness.
[Things essential to inward gospel holiness.]
There are three things which are essential to the inward gospel holiness; of which as your description is utterly destitute, so neither can they by that be obtained, or come into the heart. 1. The Holy Ghost. 2. Faith in Christ. 3. A new heart, and a new spirit.
Without these three, there is no such thing as gospel holiness in man, as before I have also hinted at. But now as there are none of these three found in your description of inward holiness; so neither can you, or others, by all your inclinations, either to those you call first principles of natural reason, or the dictates of human nature, obtain or fetch into the soul the least dram of that which is essential, to that which is indeed according to the gospel description of inward gospel holiness, as will further be manifest in this that followeth.
1. The Holy Ghost is not obtained by your description, that consisting only in principles of nature, and in putting forth itself in acts of civility and morality. When the apostle would convince the bewitched Galatians, that your doctrine which was also the doctrine of the false apostles, was that, which instead of helping forward, did hinder, and pervert the gospel of Christ; he applieth himself to them in this manner. 'This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?' (Gal 3:2) By the works of the law, that is, by putting of your principles into practice. Nay, may I not add, by putting of your principles into practice, by a more bright and clear rule, than in the beginning of your description is inserted by you; for the law as written and engraven in stones, with the addition of all the Mosaical precepts, was a more ample, and full discovery of the mind of God, than can be obtained by your virtues of soul, your purity of human nature, or the first principles of morals, as they are written in the heart of man; and originally dictates of human nature (Rom 3:1-3). Yet by these, by following these, by labouring to live up to the light of these, their own experience told them, that they neither could, nor did obtain the enjoyment of the Holy Ghost; but that rather their now declining the word of faith, by which indeed they receive it at first (whatever pretences of holiness, and godliness were the arguments to prevail with them so to do) was in truth none other but the very witchcraft, and enchantments of the devil.
Farther, The apostle sets this your spirit and principles, and that which indeed is the Spirit of God, in a line diametrically opposite one against another; yea the receiving of the one, opposeth the receiving of the other. 'Now we have received, [saith he] not the spirit of the world,' (that is, your spirit, and principles of humanity) to walk by it, or live in it; 'but the Spirit which is of God; that we may know the things that are freely given to us of God' (1 Cor 2:12). But what is the spirit of the world? He tells us in the verse before, it is the spirit of a man; which Solomon calls, 'the candle of the Lord; searching all the inward parts of the belly' (Prov 20:27), by human principles, good motions to moral duties, workings of reason, dictates of nature to obey God as Creator. These things flow from the spirit of a man, which is the spirit of all the world. They that preach, or speak by this spirit, they preach or speak of the world, of the virtues of the world; and the world, 'the whole world heareth them,' or know in themselves what they say (1 John 4:5).
Now when this spirit is received, embraced, and followed, as the spirit that is of God, then it must be branded with the mark of the spirit of error, and of antichrist; because the act in so doing, is most wicked; yea, and Christ himself is made head against, by it.
But I say, the Holy Ghost is not obtained by these principles, nor by the pursuit of them.
2. Faith is not obtained by the pursuit of your principles, but by hearing of another doctrine; he that presseth men to look to, and live by the purity of human nature, principles of natural reason, or by the law, as written in the heart, or bible; he sets the word of faith out of the world; for these doctrines are as opposite, as the spirits I spake of before; 'For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.' Now he that receiveth this law, to do, and live by; he hath set up, and is in pursuit of a doctrine of another nature, than that which is called the righteousness of faith; that being such, as for justification, and deliverance from the curse, maketh no mention at all of hearing the law, or of doing good works; but of hearing of the mercy of God, as extended to sinners; and of its coming to us through the death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. 'The righteousness which is of faith, speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? [that is, to bring Christ down from above:] or, Who shall descend into the deep? [that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead]. But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved' (Rom 10:5,9). This then is the doctrine of faith, or the righteousness with which faith hath to do. Now as old covenant-works are begotten in men by the doctrine of works; so faith is begotten by the doctrine of faith. Therefore after he had said, 'faith cometh by hearing'; he insinuates it to be the hearing the preaching of the gospel of peace (peace by the blood of the cross) and the glad tidings of good things (vv 14-17), of good things promised for the sake of the Lord Jesus; not for the sake of good deeds done of us, by human principles, or the dictates of our nature.
Faith, Then the second essential, comes into the heart, not by the preaching, or the practice of your principles; but by another, a higher, and far more heavenly doctrine. And hence the apostle completely puts the difference betwixt the worker of good works in the spirit of the law, and the believer that taketh hold of grace by Christ, that he may be saved thereby. The one he calls 'Them that are of the works of the law'; the other, 'They which are of faith' (Gal 3). This being done, he tells us, that as they differ in the principles, to wit, of faith and works, so they shall differ in conclusion: 'For the law is not of faith, the promise is only made to faith; therefore, they only that are of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham.'
3. The third essential is, a new heart, and a new spirit or mind; and this also comes not by your principle, that being but the old covenant that gendereth to bondage, and that holds its Ishmaels under the curse for ever: there comes no new heart by the law, nor new spirit. It is by the new covenant, even the gospel, that all things are made new (Jer 31:33; Eze 36; Heb 8:8; 2 Cor 5:17-19).
The apostle, after a large discourse of the two ministrations, and their excellencies (2 Cor 3), tells us that the heart is nothing changed, so long as it abideth in the works of the law, but remaineth blind and ignorant: 'Nevertheless [saith he] when it shall turn [from the law] to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.' But what is it to turn from the law to the Lord? Why, even to leave and forsake your spirit and principles, and works from those principles, and fly to the grace and merits; 'the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.' Now when the heart is turned to Christ, then the vail of Moses is taken off; wherefore then the soul 'with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, is changed—from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord' (2 Cor 3:14,18).
Objection. But it seems a paradox to many, that a man should live to the law, that is, devote himself to the works of the ten commandments, the most perfect rule of life; and yet not be counted one changed, or new.
Answer. Though it seemeth an untruth, yet it is most true, that by the works of the law, no heart is made new, no man made new. A man from principle of nature and reason, (which principles are of himself, and as old) may give up himself to the goodness of the law: yet these principles are so far off from being new, that they are as old as Adam in Paradise; and come into the world with all the children of men. To which principles the law, or the first principles of morals, so equally suit, that, as you have said (p. 8), 'they are self-evident, than which there is nothing mankind doth more naturally assent to' (p. 11). Now nature is no new principle, but an old: even our own, and of ourselves. The law is no new principle, but old, and one with ourselves (as also you well have called it) 'first written in men's hearts, and originally dictates of human nature.' Let a man then be as devout, as is possible for the law, and the holiness of the law. Yet if the principles from which he acts, be but the habit of soul, the purity (as he feigns) of his own nature; principles of natural reason, or the dictates of human nature; all this is nothing else but the old gentleman in his holiday clothes: the old heart, the old spirit, the spirit of the man, not the spirit of Christ, is here.
And hence the apostle, when he would shew us a man alive, or made a new man indeed; as he talketh of the Holy Ghost and faith, so he tells us such are dead to the law, to the law, as a law of works; to the law as to principles of nature. 'Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law [the moral law, and the ceremonial law] by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another [another than the law] even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God' (Rom 7:4).
Ye are become dead to the law. Dead to the law! Why? That you should be married to another. Married to another! Why? 'That you should bring forth fruit unto God.' But doth not a man bring forth fruit unto God, that walketh orderly according to the ten commandments? No, if he do it before faith make this in the spirit of a man, by the dictates of human nature, respecting the law, as that, by the obeying of which, he must obtain acceptance with God. This is bringing forth fruit unto himself; for all that he doth, he doth it as a man, as a creature, from principles natural, and of himself, his own, and for none other than himself; and therefore he serveth in an old spirit, the oldness of the letter, and for himself. But now (that is, ye being dead to the law, and married to Christ) that (the law) being dead; by which (while in ourselves) we were held; now we are delivered from that law, both as to its curse and impositions, as it stands a law of works in the heart of the world; we serve in newness of the spirit, 'and not in the oldness of the letter' (v 6). A man must first then be dead to your principles, both of nature and the law; if he will serve in a new spirit, if he would bring forth fruit unto God. Wherefore your description of the principle of holiness in man, and also the principles by which this holiness is put forth by him into righteous nets; they are such as are altogether void of the true essentials of inward gospel-holiness and righteousness.
[FOWLER'S ASSERTION THAT THE GRAND, THE ONLY AND ULTIMATE DESIGN OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST IS TO RE-PRODUCE MAN'S ORIGINAL RIGHTEOUSNESS EXAMINED AND CONFUTED.]
But there is one thing more in this description, or rather effect thereof, which I shall also inquire into: and that is your saying, 'As it was the errand of Christ to effect our deliverance out of that sinful state we had brought ourselves into: so to put us again into possession of that holiness which we had lost' (p. 12). The proof of this position is now your next business; that is, if I understand your learning, the remaining part of your book, which consisteth of well nigh 300 pages, is spent for proof thereof; which I doubt not but effectually to confute with less than 300 lines. Only first by the way, I would have my reader to take notice that in this last clause, (to put us again into possession of that holiness which we had lost) is the sum of all this large description of his holiness in the foregoing pages; that is, the holiness and righteousness that Mr. Fowler hath been describing; and adds, that Christ's whole business when he came into the world was, as to effect our deliverance from sin; 'so to put us again in possession of that holiness which we had lost.' The holiness therefore that here he contendeth for, is that, and only that which was in Adam before the fall, which he lost by transgression; and we by transgressing in him. A little therefore to inquire into this, if perhaps his reader and mine may come to a right understanding of things.
First then, Adam before the fall, even in his best and most sinless state, was but a pure natural man, consisting of body and soul; these, to use your own terms, were his pure essentials: (p. 11) in this man's heart, God also did write the law; that is, as you term them, the first principles of morals (p. 8). This then was the state of Adam, he was a pure natural man; made by God sinless; all the faculties of his soul and members of his body were clean. 'God made man upright' (Eccl 7:29). But he made him not then a spiritual man; 'the first Adam was made a living soul,' 'howbeit that was not first which is spiritual; but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual: The first man is of the earth, earthy' (1 Cor 15:45-47). A living soul he was; yet but a natural man, even in his first and best estate; but earthly, when compared with Christ, or with them that believe in Christ. So then, the holiness of Adam in his best estate, even that which he lost, and we in him, it was none other, than that which was natural, even the sinless state of a natural man. This holiness then was not of the nature of that, which hath for its root the Holy Ghost; for of that we read not at all in him, he only was indued with a living soul; his holiness then could not be gospel, nor that which is a branch of the second covenant: his acts of righteousness, were not by the operations of the Spirit of grace, but the dictates of the law in his own natural heart. But the apostle when he treateth of the christian inherent holiness; first excluding that in Adam, as earthly; he tells us, it is such as is in Christ: 'As is the earthy, such are they that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they that are heavenly.' Let then those that are the sons of Adam, in the state of nature as he, though not so pure, and spotless as he, be reckoned to bear his image and similitude: but let them that are the children of Christ, though not so pure as he, bear the image and similitude of Christ: 'for they are conformable to the image of the Son of God' (Rom 8:29). The holiness therefore that was in Adam, being but that which was natural, earthly, and not of the Holy Ghost, cannot be that which Christ came into the world to give us possession of.
Second, Adam in his best, and most sinless state, was but a type or figure: 'The figure of him that was to come' (Rom 5:14). A type in what? A type or figure doubtless, in his sinless and holy estate, a type and figure of the holiness of Christ: But if Christ should come from heaven, to put us in possession of this sinless holiness that was in Adam, or that we lost in him: to what more would his work amount, than to put us into the possession of a natural, figurative, shadowish righteousness or holiness. But this he never intended; therefore it is not the possessing of his people with that holiness, that was the great errand Christ came into the world upon.
Third, The holiness and righteousness that was in, and that we lost by, Adam before the fall; was such as stood in, and was to be managed by his natural perfect compliance with a covenant of works. For, 'Do this sin and die,' were the terms that was from God to Adam. But Christ at his coming brings in another, a better, a blessed covenant of grace; and likewise possesseth his children, with the holiness, and privileges of that covenant; not with Adam's heart nor Adam's mind; but a new heart, a new spirit, a new principle to act by, and walk in a new covenant. Therefore the holiness that was in Adam before, or that we lost in him by the fall, could not be the holiness that Christ at his coming made it his great or only business to put us in possession of.
Fourth, The holiness that was in Adam before, and that we lost in him by the fall, was such as might stand with perfect ignorance of the mediation of Jesus Christ: for Christ was not made known to Adam as a Saviour, before that Adam was a sinner; neither needed he at all to know him to be his Mediator, before he knew he had offended (Gen 3). But Christ did not come into the world to establish us in, or give us possession of such holiness as might stand with perfect ignorance of his Mediatorship. No; the holiness that we believers have, and the righteous acts that we fulfil, they come to us, and are done by us, through the knowledge of the Lord Jesus, and of his being the Messias promised (Eph 4:21,22; 2 Peter 1:3).
Fifth, The holiness that was in Adam, was neither given him through the promise, neither encouraged by the promise. Adam had no promise to possess him with a principle of holiness; it came to him by creation; neither had he any promise to strengthen or encourage him in holiness. All he had was instructions concerning his duty, and death threatened if he did it not (Gen 2:15-17). But Christ came not to give us possession of an holiness or righteousness, that came to us by our creation, without a promise; and that hath no promise to encourage us to continue therein; but of an holiness that comes to us by the best of promises, and that we are encouraged to by the best of promises. Therefore it was not his great errand when he came from heaven to earth, to put us in possession of that promiseless holiness that Adam had before, and that was lost in him by the fall.
Lastly, In a word; the holiness that Adam had before, and that we lost in him by the fall; it was a natural shadowish old covenant, promiseless holiness; such as stood and might be walked in, while he stood perfectly ignorant of the Mediator Christ. Wherefore it is rather the design of your Apollo the devil, whom in p. 101 you bring forth to applaud your righteousness; I say, it is rather his design than Christ's, to put men upon an endeavour after a possession of that: for that which is truly evangelical, is the spiritual, substantial, new covenant promised holiness; that which cometh to us by, and standeth in the Spirit, faith and knowledge of the Son of God, not that which we lost in Adam. Wherefore the song which there you learnt of the devil, is true, in the sense he made it, and in the sense for which you bring it; which is, to beget in men, the highest esteem of their own human nature; and to set up this natural, shadowish, promiseless, ignorant holiness, in opposition to that which is truly Christ's.
To dwell in heaven doth not more please him, than Within the souls of pious mortal men.
This is the song; but you find it not in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, but among the heathens who were his disciples, and who were wont to inquire at his mouth, and learn of him.
Thus have I razed the foundation of your book, even by overthrowing the holiness, and righteousness, which by you is set up, as that which is the only true gospel, and evangelical. Wherefore it remaineth, that the rest of your book, viz. whatever therein is brought, and urged for the proof of this your description of holiness, &c. it is but the abuse of Christ, of scripture, and reason; it is but a wresting and corrupting the word of God, both to your own destruction, and them that believe you.
[Fowler's insidious errors routed.]
But to pass this, and to come to some other passages in your book; and first to that in p. 5 where you say,
'The holiness, which is the design of the religion of Christ Jesus,—is not such as is subjected in any thing without us, or is made ours by a mere external application,' &c.
Answer. 1. These words secretly smite at the justification that comes by the imputation of that most glorious righteousness that alone resideth in the person of the Lord Jesus; and that is made ours by an act of eternal grace, we resting upon it by the faith of Jesus.
2. But if the holiness of which you speak, be not subjected in any thing without us; then it is not of all that fulness which it pleased the Father should dwell in Christ: for the holiness and righteousness, even the inward holiness that is in saints, it is none other than that which dwelleth in the person of the Son of God in heaven: neither doth any man partake of, or enjoy the least measure thereof, but as he is united by faith to this Son of God, the thing is as true in him as in us; in him as the head, and without measure (1 John 2:8); and is originally seated in him, not in us. 'Of his fulness have all we [saints] received, and grace for grace' (John 1:16). Wherefore the holiness that hath its original from us, from the purity of the human nature (which is the thing you aim at) and that originally, as you term it, is the dictates thereof, is the religion of the Socinians, Quakers, &c., and not the religion of Jesus Christ.
And now I will come to your indifferent things, viz., those which you call 'positive precepts'; things, say you, 'of an indifferent nature; and absolutely considered, are neither good, nor evil;—but are capable of becoming so; only by reason of certain circumstances': of these positive indifferent precepts, you say, you know but three in the gospel; but three, that are purely so, viz., 'That of going to God by Christ, and the institutions of baptism, and the Lord's Supper.' This we have in p. 7 and 9.
Answer. These words, as I hinted before, are highly derogatory to the Lord, the King of glory; and trample as much upon the blood of the Son of God, as words can likely do. For,
1. If going to God by Christ, be in itself but an indifferent thing, then, as I also hinted before, it is not of the substance of Christianity; but a man may be truly a Christian without it; may be saved, and go to heaven without it; this is in truth the consequence of your words: for things purely of an indifferent nature, do not in themselves either make or mar the righteousness that justifieth us from the curse before God. Wherefore, by your argument, if a man remain ignorant of that positive precept, of 'coming to God by Christ'; he remaineth ignorant but of an indifferent thing, a thing that in itself is neither good nor evil, and therefore not essentially material to his faith or justifying righteousness.
2. An indifferent thing in itself is next to nothing, neither good nor evil then, but a thing betwixt them both.
Then is the blood of the Lord Jesus, in itself, of no value at all; nor faith in him, of itself, any more than a thing of nought; their virtue and goodness only dependeth upon certain circumstances that make them so. For the indifferency of the thing lieth not simply in coming to God, but in coming to him by Christ: coming otherwise to God, even in this man's eyes, being the all in all; but in this coming, in coming to him by Christ, there lieth the indifferency. I marvel what injury the Lord Jesus hath done this man, that he should have such indifferent thoughts of coming to God by him?
But hath he no better thoughts of his own good deeds, which are by the law? Yes, doubtless, for those (saith he) 'are of an indispensable, and eternal obligation, which were first written in men's hearts, and originally dictates of human nature' (p. 8). Mark, not a dictate of human nature, or necessary conclusion or deduction from it, is of an indifferent, but of an indispensable; not of a transient, but of an eternal obligation. It is only going to God by Christ, and two other things that he findeth in the gospel, that of themselves are of an indifferent nature.
But how indifferent? Even as indifferent in itself as the blood of a silly sheep, or the ashes of an heifer; for these are his very words. 'SUCH [that is, such ordinances as in themselves are of an indifferent nature] were all the injunctions and prohibitions of the ceremonial law; and some few such we have under the gospel' (p. 7). Then, in p. 9 he tells you what these positive precepts under the gospel, or things indifferent, are: 'THAT of going to God by Christ, is one; and the other two, are the institutions of baptism, and the Lord's supper.' Such therefore as were the ceremonies of the law, such, even such, saith he, is that of going to God by Christ, &c.
Wherefore, he that shall lay no more stress upon the Lord Jesus to come to God by, than this man doth, would lay as much, were the old ceremonies in force, upon a silly sheep, as upon the Christ of God. For these are all alike positive precepts, such as were the ceremonies of the law, things in themselves neither good nor evil, but absolutely considered of an indifferent nature.
So that to come to God by Christ, is reckoned, of itself, by him, a thing of a very indifferent nature, and therefore this man cannot do it, but with a very indifferent heart; his great, and most substantial coming to God, must needs be by some other way (John 10:1). But why should this THIEF love thus to clamber, and seek to go to God by other means; such which he reckoneth of a more indispensable nature, and eternal; seeing Christ only, as indifferent as he is, is the only way to the Father. 'I am the way, [saith he] the truth and the life; no man cometh to the Father but by me.' If he be the only way, then there is none other; if he be thus the truth, then is all other the lie; and if he be here the life, then is all other the death; let him call them indispensable and eternal never so often.
So then, how far off this man's doctrine is, of sinning against the Holy Ghost, let him that is wise consider it. For if coming to God by Christ, be in itself but a thing indifferent, and only made a duty upon the account of certain circumstances; then, to come to God by Christ, is a duty incumbent upon us only by reason of certain circumstances; not that the thing in itself is good, or that the nature of sin, and the justice of God, layeth a necessity on us so to do. But what be these certain circumstances? For it is because of these, if you will believe him, that God the Father, yea, the whole Trinity, did consult in eternity, and consent, that Christ should be the way to life: now, I say, it is partly because by him was the greatest safety, he being naturally the justice, wisdom, and power of God; and partly, because it would, we having sinned, be utterly impossible we should come to God by other means and live. He that will call these circumstances, that is, things over and above besides the substantials of the gospel, will but discover his unbelief and ignorance, &c.
As for your saying, that Calvin, Peter Martyr, Musculus, Zanchy, and others, did not question, but that God could have pardoned sin, without any other satisfaction, than the repentance of the sinner (p. 84). It matters nothing to me, I have neither made my creed out of them, nor other, than the holy scriptures of God.
But if Christ was from before all worlds ordained to be the Saviour, then was he from all eternity so appointed and prepared to be. And if God be, as you say, infinitely (p. 136), and I will add, eternally just; how can he pardon without he be presented with that satisfaction for sin, that to all points of the highest perfection doth answer the demands of this infinite, and eternal justice? Unless you will say, that the repentance of a sinner is sufficient to answer whatever could be justly demanded as a satisfaction thereto; which if you should, you would in consequence say, that man is, or may be in himself, just, that is, equal with God; or that the sin of man was not a transgression of the law that was given, and a procurer of the punishment that is threatened, by that eternal God that gave it. (But let me give you a caution, take heed that you belie not these men) Christ cries, 'If it be possible let this cup pass from me' (Matt 26:39). If what be possible? Why, that sinners should be saved without his blood (Heb 9:22; Luke 24:26; Acts 17:3). 'Ought not Christ to have suffered?' 'Christ must needs have suffered,' not because of some certain circumstances, but because the eternal justice of God, could not consent to the salvation of the sinner, without a satisfaction for the sin committed. Of which, more in the next, if you shall think good to reply.
Now, that my reader may see that I have not abused you in this reply to your sayings, I will repeat your words at large, and leave them upon you to answer it.
You say, 'Actions may become duties or sins these two ways; first, as they are compliances with, or transgressions of, divine positive precepts: These are the declarations of the arbitrary will of God, whereby he restrains our liberty, for great and wise reasons, in things that are of an indifferent nature, and absolutely considered are neither good nor evil; and so makes things not good in themselves [and capable of becoming so only by reason of certain circumstances] duties, and things not evil in themselves, sins. Such were all the injunctions and prohibitions of the ceremonial law, and some few such we have under the gospel' (p. 7). Then p. 9 you tell us, that 'the reasons of the positive laws [that is, concerning things in themselves indifferent] contained in the gospel are declared; of which [say you] I know not above three that are purely so, viz. That of going to God by Christ, and the institutions of baptism, and the Lord's Supper.'
Here now let the reader note, That the positive precepts, declarations of the arbitrary will of God, in things of an indifferent nature, being such, as absolutely considered, are neither good nor evil; some few SUCH, say you, we have under the gospel, namely, that of coming to God by Christ, &c. I am the more punctual in this thing, because you have confounded your weak reader with a crooked parenthesis in the midst of the paragraph, and also by deferring to spit your intended venom at Christ, till again you had puzzled him, with your mathematics and metaphysics, &c., putting in another page, betwixt the beginning and the end of your blasphemy.
Indeed, in the seventh chapter of your book, you make a great noise of the effects and consequences of the death of Christ, as that it was a sacrifice for sin, an expiatory, and propitiatory sacrifice (p. 83). Yet, he that well shall weight you, and compare you with yourself, shall find that words and sense, with you are two things; and also, that you have learned of your brethren of old, to dissemble with words, that thereby your own heart-errors, and the snake that lieth in your bosom, may yet there abide the more undiscovered. For in the conclusion of that very chapter, even in and by a word or two, you take away that glory, that of right belongeth to the death and blood of Christ, and lay it upon other things.
For you say, 'The scriptures that frequently affirm, that the end of Christ's death was the forgiveness of our sins, and the reconciling of us to his Father, we are not so to understand, [those places where this is expressed] as if these blessings were absolutely thereby procured for us any otherwise, than upon condition of our effectual believing' (p. 91).
I answer, By the death of Christ was the forgiveness of sins effectually obtained for all that shall be saved, and they, even while yet enemies, by that were reconciled unto God. So that, as to forgiveness from God, it is purely upon the account of grace in Christ; 'We are justified by his blood, we are reconciled to God by the death of his Son' (Rom 5:9,10). Yea peace is made by the blood of his cross (Cor 1:20), and God for Christ's sake hath forgiven us (Eph 4:32). So then, our effectual believing is not a procuring cause in the sight of God, or a condition of ours foreseen by God, and the motive that prevaileth with him to forgive us our manifold transgressions: Believing being rather that which makes application of that forgiveness, and that possesseth the soul with that peace that already is made for us with God, by the blood of his Son Christ Jesus; 'Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ' (Rom 5:1). The peace and comfort of it cometh not to the soul, but by believing. Yet the work is finished, pardon procured, justice being satisfied already, or before, by the precious blood of Christ.
Observe, I am commanded to believe, but what should I believe? Or what should be the object of my faith in the matter of my justification with God? Why, I am to believe in Christ, I am to have faith in his blood? But what is it to believe in Christ: and what to have faith in his blood? Verily, To believe that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, that even then, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son: To believe that there is a righteousness already for us completed.
I had as good give you the apostle's argument and conclusion in his own language. 'But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him' (Rom 5:8,9). And note that the word NOW respects the same time with YET that went before. 'For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life,' or intercession (Rom 5:10).
Believing then, as to the business of my deliverance from the curse before God, is an accepting of (1 Tim 1:15), a trusting to (Eph 1:12,13), or a receiving (John 1:12), the benefit that Christ hath already obtained for me; by which act of faith, I see my interest in that peace that is made before with God by the blood of his cross: For if peace be made already by his blood, then is the curse taken away from his sight; if the curse be taken away from his sight, then there is no sin with the curse of it to be charged from God by the law, for so long as sin is charged by the law, with the curse thereto belonging, the curse, and so the wrath of God remaineth.
'But [say you] Christ died to put us into a capacity of pardon' (p. 91).
Answer. True; but that is not all. He died to put us into the personal possession of pardon: Yea, to put us into a personal possession of it, and that before we know it.
'But [say you] the actual removing of our guilt is not the necessary and immediate result of his death' (p. 91).
Answer. Yea, but it is from before the face of God, and from the judgment and curse of the law; for before God the guilt is taken away, by the death and blood of his Son, immediately, for all them that shall be saved; else how can it be said we are justified by his blood; he hath made peace by his blood. 'He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood' (Rev 1:5), and that we are reconciled to God by the death of his Son; which can by no means be; if, notwithstanding his death and blood, sin in the guilt, and consequently the curse that is due thereto, should yet remain in the sight of God. But what saith the apostle? 'God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them' (2 Cor 5:19). Those that are but reconciling, are not yet reconciled: I mean, as Paul, not yet come aright over in their own souls by faith; yet to these he imputeth not their trespasses: Wherefore? because they have none: or because he forgiveth them as they believe and work: Neither of both; but because he hath first made his Son to be sin for them, and laid all the guilt and curse of their sin upon him, that they might be made the righteousness of God in him. Therefore even because by him their sin and curse is taken off, from before the law of God; therefore, God for the sake of Christ, seeketh for, and beseecheth the sinner to be reconciled; that is, to believe in, and embrace his majesty.