« السابقةمتابعة »
fhewing the unreasonableness of pretending to any fignificancy in excommunication, because we difregarded the excommunication of the church of Rome, does not prove it as unreasonable to infift upon the neceffity of any faith, or any facraments, or any canonical books, because we denied the Romish creed, the Romish facraments, and canon of Scripture?
For our reformers no more intended to fhew that excommunication was a dream and trifle, because they difregarded the excommunication of the church of Rome; than they intended to fhew that all facraments, all faith, and all Scripture, were dreams and trifles, by their not owning either the facraments, or the creed, or the canon of the church of Rome. And, my lord, what a worthy defender of Christianity and the Reformation would he be, who should ask us what we mean by the neceffity of facraments, or faith, or Scripture, fince we have not allowed the neceffity either of the Romish facraments, faith, or Scripture? Yet fuch a defender is your lordship, who contends that we ought to reject excommunication as a trifle and a dream, because we disregarded the excommunication of the church of Rome.
I have now gone as far in the examination of your doctrines as my prefent defign will allow me, and am apt to think that in this and my former letters, I have gone fo far as to fhew, that a few more fuch defences of Chriftianity and the Reformation, as you have given us, would compleat their ruin, as far as human writings can compleat it.
And had you meant ever fo much harm to Christianity and the Reformation, I believe no one who wishes their confufion, would have thought you could have taken a better way to obtain that end, than by writing as you have lately written.
For he must be a very bitter enemy to them both, who would not think it fufficient, to fet Chriftianity and Mahometanism, the Reformation and Quakerifm upon the fame foot.
And he must be very flow of apprehenfion, who does not fee that to be plainly done, by refolving all into private persuasion, and making fincerity in every religion, whether true or false, the fame title to the fame degrees of God's favour.
I fhall not with your lordship make any declarations about my own fincerity; I am content to leave that to God, and to let all the world pass what judgment they please about it.
I am your lordship's
Moft humble fervant,
POSTS CRIP T.
HE learned Committee obferved to your lordship, that " an erroneous conscience was never, till now, allowed wholly to justify men in their errors."
This obfervation I have fhewn to be true and juft, as it implies that though fincerity in an erroneous way of worship should in fome degree or other recommend men to the favour or mercy of God; yet it is not that entire recommendation to his favour, which is effected by our fincere obedience in the true way of falvation: that is, though it should justify them in fome degree, yet it cannot justify them in that degree, in which they are justified, who fincerely ferve God, in that true religion which he himself has inftituted.
Now our juftification, as it is effected by the merits of Christ, is in one and the fame degree; but as our juftification is effected by our own behaviour, it is as capable of different degrees, as our virtue and holiness is capable of different degrees; and it is also neceffary that our juftification be more or lefs, according as our holiness is more or less.
Yet in anfwer to this obfervation of the learned Committee, you fay," it must either justify them, or not justify them; it must either justify them wholly, or not justify them at all." This, my lord, is as contrary to the Scripture, as it is to the observation of the Committee. For our bleffed Saviour, fpeaking of the publican, fays, "I tell you, this man went down to his house juftified, rather than the other *.”
Here, my lord, is as plain a declaration of degrees in justification, as can well be made, so far as juftification can be effected by our own behaviour.
For, it is plain, the publican was not wholly justified, because then there would be no need of his embracing Christianity; it is also plain, that he was juftified in part, or else he could not be faid to be justified rather than the Pharifee.
If therefore your anfwer confutes the obfervation of the learned Committee, it must also confute this paffage of Scripture.
* Luke xviii. 10, &c.
I fhall only add one word in relation to another point. I have already fhewn the falfenefs and evil tendency of your argument against excommunication, which you afferted to be a dream and trifle, without any effect, because it is our own behaviour alone which can fignify any thing to us with regard to the favour of God. Now, my lord, this philofophy ftrikes at the very vitals of the Chriftian religion: for, if this sentence can have no effect, if it is a dream and trifle, because it is our behaviour alone on which the favour of God depends; then how fhall we account for thefe paffages of Scripture, which attribute our juftification to the merits and death of Chrift? As thus;
"Jefus Chrift, who gave himself for our fins *." "In whom we have redemption, through his blood t.” "Being juftified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath ‡." It is the conftant uniform doctrine of Scripture, that our reconciliation and peace with God, our juftification and fanctification. before God, is owing to the merits and death of Chrift. But if what you have faid be true, that it is our behaviour alone, which procures the favour of God, then, the blood of Chrift must be as truly without any effect, as excommunication is without any effect. For if the favour of God depends entirely upon our behaviour alone, then it can depend upon nothing else; and if it depend upon nothing else, then every thing else is equally trifling and without any effect as to that purpofe; and confequently every paf fage in Scripture which ascribes our acceptance with God to the merits and blood of Chrift, is as much condemned by your doctrine, as the effects of excommunication are condemned by it.
Whether your lordship did not perceive the inconsistency of this doctrine with that fatisfaction and redemption which the Scriptures teach; or whether you knowingly intended to oppofe this doctrine, is what I shall leave to every one's own judgment. Thus much I fhall only say, that as you have here directly contradicted the first principle of the Chriftian religion, if it is not what you intended, I hope you will, for the fake of Christianity, venture to declare, that though you have afferted, that it is our behaviour alone, yet it is not our behaviour alone, but more particularly the merits and death of Chrift which recommends us to the favour of God.
* Gal. i, 3.
+ Ephef. i. 7.
END OF VOL. I.
Rom. v. 9.