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LETTER XI. Wherein the Moravian

and Antinomian Doctrine of Justification,
in some of its peculiar points, is considered
and refuted.

SIR,
IT is true, that I do agree with the Antinomians

and Moravians in this, that “ The righteous• ness of our Lord Jesus Christ is the alone matter “ of our justification before God.”

But I am, not. withstanding, very far from agreeing with them in the whole of their doctrine on that important article of a sinner's justification by faith in Christ. The person you have conversed with has imposed upon you, in pretending, that “they and we are "s of the fame sentiments with respect to the doc“ trine of justification."-In compliance with your demands, I shall therefore endeavour to fhew you, “ What is the difference between them and those “ of our profession, in this great point; and what

are the reasons of our differing from them.”-I presume, you do not expect from me a particular detection of all the Moravian and Antinomian errors; this would require a larger volume than I have lei. sure to write, or you would have patience to read. I shall therefore limit myself to the subject which you have proposed.

There are these two things, especially in the doctrine of our justification by faith, which are to be condemned as most dangerous errors in the sects you speak of. The first is, their notion of the nature of a saving faith. The second is, the part which they assign to faith in our justification. It is necessary, in order to set the affair in a proper light, that I be something particular upon each of these.

The

The first thing then to be considered is their notion of the nature of a saving faith: This they Tuppose to consist in a joyful persuasion of our interest in Christ, and of our title to his purchased fal. vation. And accordingly Count Zinzendorff frequently gives us this view of a saving faith. Bei lieve then (says he) that Jesus has atoned and paid a ransom for you all ; and that you may experience it this very moment ; and know that ye have been healed by his wounds and by his stripes *. ---And the Antinomians in general agree with him in this, that saving faith consists in a comfortable persuasion of our personal interest in the Lord Jesus Christ. But then, on the contrary, you may perceive, by what I have written to you on this subject, that I do not suppose this persuasion to enter into the de. finition of a saving faith ; nor to be any part of it. It is what a true believer may want; and an unbelieving and impenitent finner may entertain in an high degree.

This is an affair of vast consequence, and there. fore deserves a more distinct and particular consi. deration than I can now have opportunity for. I shall however attempt to set it in as plain and fami. liar a light as I In order to this, it will be proper (previous to my reasoning against this wild opinion) to premise these observations :

1. That believers may have good fatisfaction of their safe estate, and full persuasion of their intereit in Chrift, from their experience of a work of grace in their hearts; and from the fruits of faith in their affections and conversations. It is just reasoning, from the nature of the fruit, to the quality of the tree that bears it. If therefore a man finds in him. self an habitual, predominant defire after the Lord Jesus Christ, as the portion of his soul, and the

foundation * Discourses on the Redemption of Man, po 120.

can.

foundation of his hope ; if he feels his fins to be the burden of his soul, what he hates without reserve, what he strives, watches, and prays against, and never willingly and deliberately indulges; if he delights himself in the Lord, in near approaches to him, and communion with him in his ordinances; if he knows it to be the bent and disposition of his soul, to approve himself to God in a life of spiritualmindedness, and in all holy conversation and godli. ness, in self-denial, in piety towards God, in righteousness and charity towards men : Though he may yet groan under many disallowed imperfections, he nevertheless may be, and ought to be persuaded of his interest in Chrift; and give the praise and glory of these divine influences upon his soul to the blessed Author of them ; this is the or. dinary and standing evidence to the children of God, of the safety of their state.-By this they have a comfortable and joyful persuasion, that he who has begun a good work in them, will perform it to the day of Chrift.-By this the children of God are manifeft, both to themselves and others. In this fenfe, then, I do not deny to believers a per. suasion or manifestation of their own good estate. This persuasion is what they should by no means contentedly rest short of. It is greatly needful, not only to their comfort and hope, but to their serving God with the dispositions becoming children, with enlargement of soul, and with cheerfulness and delight.

But then you must remember, that this persuafion is not faith; but arises from the fruits and effects of faith upon the soul, and is what may (sometimes at least) be wanting in the best of the children of God.--I must still further observe,

2. That God is sometimes pleased, in a more Special and peculiar manner, to shed abroad his love in the hearts of believers, by his holy Spirit, with

such such superior light and evidence, that their gracious sincerity, so consequently their interest in Christ, and their title to the eternal inheritance, can at such times be nowise doubtful and questionable to them.-The Spirit of God witnesseth with their spirits; that they are his children; and they are sealed with the holy Spirit of promise.--In this case, as in the other before mentioned, their comfortable persua. fion of their interest in Chrift arises from an evident discovery of the exercise of the graces of his blessed Spirit. Herein this joyful persuasion in both cases agrees, that it is reasonable and well-grounded. The Spirit of God never persuades the foul to be. lieve a truth without its proper evidence ; nor causes the believer to rejoice without rational grounds and motives.-But then this latter persua. lion differs from that before mentioned, in these following respects : It is produced in the foul with an incomparably stronger and clearer light.-In the other case, satisfaction is obtained by a series of rea. soning, reflection, and self-examination, diftinctly considering the Scripture-rule, and comparing it, with the state, circumstances, and settled habit of the soul. Whereas, in this case, the foul has so clear a view, and consciousness of its present exercise of faith in Christ, and love to God, that all clouds are dispersed, all mists and darkness vanish; and there is no room left for doubts and misgiving thoughts : But the soul sees itself safe in the hands of Christ; and can rest there with the greatest alacrity and pleasure. --Moreover, as this persuasion, which I am now speaking of, makes its way into the soul with much greater light, so it has a much quicker and more sudden production. The soul is not exercised, in this case, for months or years to. gether, with difficult inquiries into its own state ; but at once, before it is aware, overcomes all its

fears,

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fears, by feeling the possession and influence of the graces and consolations of the Spirit of God.-I may yet add, that this persuasion is accompanied with such unspeakable joy, as those (even believers themselves) cannot have any idea of, who have not thus tasted that the Lord is gracious. The divine light shines into the soul with a transporting and ravishing energy, till it is as it were lost in a joyful astonishment. By this the world vanishes out of sight, and death itself loses its terrors; by this the martyrs have been enabled to sing in the flames, and most joyfully to triumph over all that is most frightful and distressing to nature. To which I may also add, that this joyful

. persuasion, of which I now {peak, has a transforming efficacy on the soul, who is the happy subject of it. It purifies the heart, and promotes conformity to God: It humbles thé foul to nothing in its own eyes ; bows it to an absolute subjection to the will of God, and excites in it the most vigorous exercise of the graces of the Spirit, and the duties of Christianity : Effects, which at least are not so sensibly produced, and in such a degree, by the satisfaction which the foul obtains of its own good ftate, in the method first mentioned.

I have insisted the longer upon these heads, to obviate all misapprehensions of what I have yet to offer : And to the fame purpofe I must add once more,

3. That we can have no other claim to accept-
ance with God, but by the righteousness of Christ
imputed to us, and received by faith ; and therefore,
that we can have no just persuasion of our being in
favour with God, but from our interest in, and de-
pendence upon, his righteousness, as the matter of
our justification. It is only on account of what

Christ has done and suffered for us that we are
justified before God, and intitled to eternal salva-

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