TO THE BIRMINGHAM DIALOGUE-WRITER, SECOND PART
UPON THE FOLLOWING SUBJECTS:
The Divinity Of Christ, Irresistible Grace, Election, Imputed Righteousness, Original Sin, Perseverance, Free-Will, Baptism.
THE Birmingham Dialogue-writer has, at length, thought fit to publish the second part of his Dialogue between a Baptist and a Churchman. Never was such a medley of things, such a parcel of rambling stuff, collected together; he is resolved to be voluminous at any rate: If he thus proceeds, we may indeed expect to see the works of the Consistent Christian in folio. I could wish he had answered to his motto in the title-page, taken from an apocryphal writer, (Ecclesiasticus 14:20) Blessed is the man that doth meditate honest (good) things by (in) his wisdom, and that reasoneth of holy things by his understanding; for the things he has meditated are neither good, nor honest, nor holy; unless things contrary to the divine perfections, to the honor and dignity of Christ, and the doctrine of the inspired writings; unless to misrepresent an argument, which he frequently does, and misquote an author, as he has Mr. Millar particularly, can be thought to be so. I shall not disturb him in his vain mirth, but let him have his laugh out, at the theatrical behavior, as he calls it, and gestures of preachers, and at mysteries in religion; only let him take care, lest he should find by experience the truth of that saying of the wise man, As the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity. (Eccl. 7:6) A man of no faith, or whose faith is worse than none, or good for nothing, may go on to despise Creeds, Catechisms, Confessions and Articles of Faith: the Right of private Judgment will not be disputed; both ministers and people have undoubtedly a liberty of speaking and writing what they believe to be truth, provided they do not abuse this liberty to the dishonor of God, the gratification of their own passions, and the injury of their neighbors.
What I shall attend unto, will be the following things; the Divinity of Christ, Election, Original Sin, Free-will, and Free grace, Imputed Righteousness, Perseverance, and Baptism; things that were the subjects of the former part, and are now brought on the carpet again, and re-considered in this. I begin,
I. With the Deity of Christ. This writer very wrongly distinguishes between true, real, and proper Deity, and absolutely supreme Deity; as if there could be true, real, and proper Deity, and yet that not be absolutely supreme; whereas Deity is either fictitious or true, nominal or real, proper or metaphorical. There are many who are called gods, that are not really so; there are such who by nature are no gods, fictitious deities, the idols of the heathens; and there are such who are so only in an improper sense, as civil magistrates: Now none of these are truly, really and properly gods; there is but one that is truly, really and properly God, and who is the only absolutely supreme God, Father, Son, and Spirit. To say, there are more gods than one, who are really, truly, and properly so, is to introduce the Polytheism of the Gentiles. To assert that the Father is the absolutely supreme God; that the Son is truly, really, and properly God, but not the absolutely supreme God; and that the holy Spirit is also really, truly, and properly God, but not the absolutely supreme God; is to assert one absolutely supreme God, and two subordinate Gods, who yet are truly really, and properly so. The arguments for and against the supreme Deity of Christ, and his equality with the Father, are as follow.
1. This writer having asserted in his first part, that Christ is God, or a God, because the Father hath given him divine perfections, the following argument was formed in answer to it: "If the Father has given to Christ divine perfections, for which reason he is God, or a God, he has either given him only some divine perfections, or all divine perfections; if he has only given him some divine perfections, then he is imperfectly God, or an imperfect one; if he has given him all divine perfections, then he must be equal to him." Now this was argumentum ad hominem, an argument formed on his own principles, and not mine, as anyone who has the least share of common sense and understanding will easily observe; and yet this man, either ignorantly or willfully represents it as an argument proceeding upon my own principles; whereas it is he, and not I, that says, the Father has given to Christ divine perfections. I affirm, that all the Father hath are his; he possesses and enjoys all divine perfections, not by gift, but in right, and by necessity of nature: that no divine perfection is given him as the Son of God; though all power, dominion, and authority to judge, are given him as the son of man. Hence the absurdity of communicating anything to the self-existent supreme God, and the self-contradiction of necessity and gift, are impertinently alleged, and the argument, as formed on his own principles, stands unanswered; which has brought him into a dilemma, out of which he knows not how to extricate himself: For if the Father has given him divine perfections, it must be either some, or all; if only some, then the fullness of the godhead does not dwell in him, nor can he be truly, really, and properly God; if all, and so no perfection of Deity is wanting in him, then he must be equal to the Father.
2. Another argument against the subordinate Deity of Christ, and in favor of his equality with the Father, is this: "If the Father only is the most high God, and Christ is a God, that is, a God inferior to him, whom he has commanded all men to worship; then there are two distinct Gods, objects of religious worship, directly contrary to the express words of the first command, Thou shalt have no other gods before me." This is an argument reducing to a manifest absurdity, and the Dialogue-writer's replies to it show him to be in the utmost distress; he is confounded, and knows not what to say. First, he says, that "if there be any absurdity, any contradiction here to the first command, it falls not directly on him, but on Christ and his gospel, from whence he borrowed these truths." But does Christ in his gospel ever teach, that the Father is the most high God, or even the only true God, distinct from, and exclusive of the Son; and that the Son of God is a God, inferior and subordinate to the Father? Next, he observes, that the first command speaks of one person only to be worshipped as God supreme, and not of more persons than one. Be it so. Since then, according to this man's principles, Christ is a God inferior and subordinate to the most high God, he must be a distinct person from him, and consequently stands excluded from divine worship by the first command; wherefore the gospel-doctrine of worshipping the Son, cannot be taken in consistency with that: and, on the other hand, if Christ, a subordinate God, is one person with the supreme God, this would destroy his subordination, and give him supremacy, contrary to this author's notions. If this will not do, he goes on and tells you, "You may suppose that God himself, in commanding men to honor his Son, has repealed so much of the first command as is inconsistent with the New-Testament-command to honor or worship his Son." This is cutting the Gordian knot indeed! This man, I suppose, would not care to be called an Antinomian; and yet the grossest Antinomian that ever lived upon the face of the earth, never ventured upon what this man does, namely, to assert, or suppose, that any law, or part of a law, relating to the object of religious worship, was ever repealed or abrogated. Lastly, He adds, "that in the honour paid to Jesus Christ, God the Father is ultimately honored, as this is paid to the glory of God the Father." Now not to take notice of the blunder, the nonsense of this passage, in talking of honor being paid to glory; if the Father is ultimately honored by that same honor which is given to the Son, as to himself, then I hope "the charge of robbing God the Father of his peerless majesty, or of ungodding him," by asserting the Son's equality to him, is weak and groundless.
3. A third argument, proving Christ to be the most high God, stands thus: "If the Most High over all the earth is he whose name alone is Jehovah, and Christ's name is Jehovah; if the same things which prove the Father to be the most high God, are said of the Son, as they are; why may he not be thought to be the most high God equally with the Father?" To which is replied, that when the Son personates Jehovah, he may be called Jehovah, as an angel that sometimes speaks in the person of God; it being usual for such as deliver messages from others, to speak after the same manner those persons would have done, in whose name they come: So that no argument can thence be drawn for his supreme Deity; since that name is given to an angel, when speaking in Jehovah's name. But it should be observed, that it cannot be proved that ever any created angel, speaking in the name of God, ever calls himself Jehovah, or is so called; all the places referred to by this writer, where an angel is called Jehovah, are to be understood of the uncreated angel, the Son of God, as will clearly appear at first fight, to any who will take the pains to inspect them. The passages are Genesis 18:13, and 19:24 and 22:15, 16, Exodus 23:20, 21, Isaiah 63:9, Malachi 3:1. All which are so many firm and standing proofs of the truth of the observation, that Christ is called Jehovah; a name peculiar to the most high God, Psalm 83:18, and therefore must conclude his supreme Deity, and the argument for it from hence, stands unshaken and unanswered. It may be usual with messengers to speak after the manner of the persons in whose name they come; but do they ever call themselves by their names? or are they ever so called by others? Did ever any ambassador of the king of Great Britain, when sent to a foreign court with an ambassy, stile himself the king of Great Britain? or call himself by the name of king George? or was he ever so called by others? The doctrine, "that Father, Son, and Spirit, are the one most high God, is charged, with being a contradiction to reason, to the whole Bible; to be a self-contradiction; yea, to have many contradictions in it." To which I answer: Though reason, unassisted by revelation, tells us there is but one self-existent, intelligent Creator and Ruler of the universe, the Bible makes a clearer and further discovery of this matter, and acquaints us that more than one person were concerned in creation and government. Let us make man, Genesis 1:26. Let us go down and confound their language, Genesis 11:7. Remember thy creators, Ecclesiastes 12:1. Thy makers are thy husbands, Isaiah 54:5. Revelation speaks of three persons as concerned herein; and of these, not as making one person, but as being one God. There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the holy Ghost, and these three are one, 1 John 5:7, that is, one God. Now if it is no contradiction to the Bible, which everywhere speaks conformable to the voice of right reason, to say that Father, Son and Spirit, are one God; then it is no contradiction to reason, or to the Bible, nor is it any self-contradiction, or big with others, to say, that Father, Son and Spirit, are the one most high God. But, in confutation of this, we are recommended,
4. To an argument which this writer has borrowed from another person, drawn up in the following form: "He who is alone the supreme governor of the universe, is alone the supreme God; but the Father is alone the supreme governor of the universe." This latter proposition proved. "He who never acts in subjection to the will of any other person, and every other person whatsoever always acts in subjection to his will, is alone the supreme governor of the universe: But the Father never acts in subjection to the will of another person, and every other person whatsoever always acts in subjection to his will; therefore the Father alone is the supreme governor of the universe." To which I answer, by denying the minor proposition, that the Father is alone the supreme governor of the universe; for the Son is with the Father the supreme governor of the world: the kingdom is the Lord's, that is, the Lord Christ's, for he is spoken of throughout that whole psalm; (Ps. 12:28) and he is the governor among the nations. My Father, says Christ, worketh hitherto; (John 5:17) that is, in the government of the universe, in the administration of providence: and I work; I am jointly concerned with him in these things: which made the Jews rightly conclude that he made himself equal with God, an equal governor of the universe with him. Hence it is clear, that the Father is not alone the supreme governor of the universe. Moreover, the minor proposition of the argument brought in proof of this, that the Father is alone the governor of the universe, must also be denied; I mean that part of it on which the proof depends, that "every other person whatsoever always acts in subjection to his, the Father's will:" For though the Son of God always acts in agreement, yet not always in subjection to his Father's will; though he always acted in subjection to his Father's will in the human nature, yet not in the divine nature; particularly in the works of creation and providence; in these there is an agreement with, but not a subjection to his Father's will; all things were made by him in agreement, but not in subjection to the will of the Father; by him all things consist, and he upholds all things by the word of his power; (John 1:3; Col. 1:16, 17; Heb. 1:3) agreeable to his Father's will, but not obliged as by any power or authority superior to him.
5. This writer, in his first part, argues against the supreme deity of Christ, in this manner: "Before the Lord Jesus Christ became man, he came from the Father, was sent and employed by him; therefore it is impossible he should be the supreme God." It is readily granted, that Christ before his incarnation came, though he is not expressly said to be sent, to redeem Israel, lead them through the Red Sea and wilderness, and bring them to Canaan. And it has been observed, that he appeared with full proof of his equality with the Father, since he calls himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and, I am that I am, Exodus 3:6, 14. And Jehovah says of him, My name is in him; and that he could, though he would not, pardon iniquity; all which this author takes no notice of, but catches at the phrases offending, and being sent, which he thinks suppose superiority and inferiority; though it has been observed to him, that of two equals, by agreement one may be sent by the other: But this he thinks, as applied to two persons, who are the one most high God, is chargeable with absurdity and blasphemy. Not with absurdity; for though he that is sent is not greater than he that sent him, (John 13:16) he may be equally as great. Nor did he appear at all inferior to the most high God when he came to redeem Israel; and even when he was sent to redeem mankind, though the glory of his Deity was greatly veiled and hid from the eyes of men in his state of humiliation, yet he did not lay aside his authority, or give up his supremacy and government; he was then in heaven, and as much one with the Father, and as greatly concerned with him in the government of the world, as before; see John 1:18, and 3:13, and 5:17. Nor is it chargeable with blasphemy; it is indeed great condescension, a wonderful stoop of Deity; and the higher the Deity of Christ is carried, the more wonderful his condescension appears, whether in coming to redeem Israel before his incarnation, or for the salvation of his people at it. And here give me leave to correct a mistake of this author's in another place, in which he represents us as supposing that Christ was begotten, sent, came forth from the Father as man, before he was man: Whereas, as man, he never was begotten at all; and might be said to be sent, and come before he was man, in order to be so, with respect to his office-capacity, which he voluntarily, and in the most condescending manner, took upon him for the good of men.
6. Whereas the equality of Christ with the Father is pleaded for, as being strongly asserted in Philippians 2:6, John 10:30, these passages are objected to. The first of these, at it stands in our Bibles, is so glaring a proof of the Son's equality with the Father, that the adversaries of it are not able to withstand it; wherefore they employ all their wit and learning to destroy the commonly received translation, and to establish another; and instead of thought it not robbery to be equal with God, render it, did not affect, greedily catch at, or assume divinity, or to appear like a God. The first after Arius, who embraced and contended for this version, was Enjedinus the Socinian; and most of those this author mentions as giving up our translation, are such who gave into the Arian or Socinian schemes, or were inclinable thereunto, contrary to the sense of the far greater number of learned writers, ancient and modern. I perceive this Dialogue-writer is acquainted with a book entitled Fortuita Sacra, written by a person of worth and learning; he would do well to consult that learned writer upon this passage, who has refuted the translation and sense this author seems fond of, and has established the commonly received one, in agreement with the context, where Christ is said to be in the form of God; which he shows to be the essential form of God, all that is great and glorious in him, his very nature and Deity, in which Christ existed, and therefore must be equal to him. This use of the word morfh, he proves from ancient writers. Nor is this sense of it contradictory to right reason; for since in nature a son may be equal to a father, why not in the divine essence, for anything this author has said to the contrary? Begotten, and not derived, is no contradiction, considered in different respects. Christ is begotten, as a Son, but underived, as God over all: He is not autouiov, Son of himself, though autoqeov, God of himself: He is Son of the Father, but God of himself; his personality and sonship he has of the Father, his being and perfections of himself: there is no foundation for a distinction between a begotten and unbegotten essence; not essence, but person is begotten: And false it is, to say that this is not taken notice of in the Answer to the Dialogue. Moreover, the sense of the passage before us we contend for, is no ways contrary to those scriptures which speak of Christ as commissioned by the Father, doing his will, and nothing of himself; as not knowing the day of judgment; and that the Father is greater than he, and he is glorified by him; since these are spoken of him in his office-capacity, and as man and mediator. This phrase, as man and mediator, is greatly found fault with by this writer, as having, by joining these words together, a mean fallacy in it, whereas the idea of a mediator comprehends the whole person of Christ as God-man, together with his office. But why may not these two be joined together without a fallacy, when the scripture says, that there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus? (1 Tim. 2:5) True indeed, Christ is mediator in both natures, human and divine, he having these united in one person as God-man; so that what is done in, or belongs to any of these natures, may, by virtue of this union, be predicated of his person; and yet these things must be attributed to the distinct natures to which they belong; as for instance, omnipotence and omniscience may be predicated of the person of Christ, and yet these belong only to him as considered in his divine nature: So doing nothing of himself, and not knowing the day of judgment, may be predicated of the Son, when these manifestly belong to him as considered in the human nature. This observation attended to, will unravel and destroy all that this author has wrote upon this head.
The passage in John 10:30, is a clear proof of the Son's equality with the Father; where Christ says, I and my Father are one; not one person, but one God, of one and the same nature: By which we mean the same divine essence and perfections; for the Son partakes of the same divine nature, and possesses the same divine perfections the Father does; he has all the fullness of the Godhead in him, and so is equal to him. In this sense the Jews understood him; upon which they charge him with blasphemy, because he made himself God; and to vindicate himself, he first argues from his inferior character, as being in office; that if magistrates without blasphemy might be called gods, much more might he, who was sanctified and sent into the world by the Father: But he does not let the stress of the proof of his deity rest here, but proceeds to prove that he was truly and properly God, by doing the same works his Father did. So that the Jews were not mistaken in his sense, nor did they belie him; though they wronged him, in charging him with blasphemy on this account. As for John 17:21, where Christ prays that believers may be one, as he and his Father are one, it is impertinently alleged, since the as there does not express equality, but likeness; for none will venture to say, not even this author himself, that believers are, or will be one with the Father and Son, in that self-same sense, as they are one with another; there is not the sameness of power, action or operation, which is acknowledged in the Father and the Son. Upon the whole, the text in John 10:3, stands fully against the subordination of the Son to the Father, and is a firm proof of his equality with him in nature and perfections; by which doctrine no dishonor is done to the Father, or affront given him; since no perfection of deity, or any branch of honor and worship, are denied him, or given to a creature; and since it is perfectly agreeable to him, that all men should honor the Son, as they honor the Father. I proceed,
II. To the doctrine of election and reprobation. The sum of the charge against this doctrine in the first part, is, that it is unmerciful, unjust, insincere, and uncomfortable; and this is the amount of the whole harangue upon it in this part. What I shall attend unto, will be the exceptions to what has been advanced, in order to clear it from this charge. And,
1. Whereas it is charged with cruelty and unmercifulness; it has been observed that it carries no marks of cruelty and unmercifulness in it to the elect, who are vessels of mercy afore prepared unto glory; which mercy this writer calls "unwise and partial mercy, such as we are sure, says he, God can never be guilty of." But pray, does not God say, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy? Upon which the apostle observes, So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.—Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. (Rom. 9:15, 16, 18) And will this man call this mercy, shown only to some, as influenced not by their will and works, but as arising from the sovereign will and pleasure of God, unwise and partial mercy? This man himself owns, that God's decreeing help for a few, is not an objection to the mercifulness of God; but the question is, he says, "where is the pity of God, his grace, the sounding of his bowels over them, for whom he decreed no help?" I answer, there is pity, mercy and goodness shown to these, in a general way of providence; and though none in a special way of grace, yet no cruelty, since God is not obliged to help them; and it is no cruelty in him to punish for sin. It has been further observed, in order to remove this charge, that if it was not acting the cruel and unmerciful part not to ordain help for any of the fallen angels, it would not have been acting such a part, had God resolved not to help any of the fallen race of Adam, much less to ordain help for some, when he could in justice have condemned all. This representation of the case is said to be unfair in itself, inconsistent with our principles, and the illustration of it evasive; and it is asked, "amongst the fallen angels did God shew mercy to some, everlasting mercy, while he decreed others to hell, who were no more guilty than the rest?" I answer, no; he showed mercy to none of them, but consigned them all over to ruin and destruction; and yet he is not chargeable with cruelty. But supposing he had shown mercy to some, and not to others, as in the case of man; would he have appeared less merciful, by showing of mercy to some, than by showing none to any? And as for all the other questions put, whether God sent a proclamation of pardon to them that were fore-ordained to misery, or offered one on conditions not to be complied with, or exhorted to accept a salvation never purchased for them, or condemned to a heavier damnation for not believing a falsehood, or for not doing an impossibility; there are all impertinent, and are no more applicable to men, upon our principles, than to angels. The fallen angels are, indeed, as is observed, personal, voluntary sinners, and are, and will be treated according to their own share of guilt; and so are all the adult posterity of Adam, who are and will be so treated either in themselves or surety; and, as many of them as will be condemned, will be condemned, not merely for the sin of Adam, and for their share of guilt therein, but for their own actual, personal, voluntary sins and transgressions; and as for the infant posterity of Adam, their case is a secret to us, and therefore, we choose to be silent about it.
Once more, it has been observed, that "the doctrine of election is more merciful than the contrary scheme, since it infallibly secures the salvation of some; whereas, the other does not ascertain the salvation of any single person, but leaves it uncertain, to the precarious and fickle will of man." The reply to this is by asking, which is more honorable to God, and more for the comfort of men? whereas the question is, which shows most mercy? Though one should think, that doctrine which ensures the salvation of some, should be more honorable to God, and more comfortable to man, than that which does not ascertain the salvation of any single man. This author does not attempt to disprove the doctrine of election infallibly securing the salvation of some; and, in a very feeble manner does he argue, for the ascertaining of salvation to man in the contrary doctrine; he asks, "is not the salvation of man sufficiently ascertained by the gospel's setting life and death before men, and offering them all needful assistance in the way of life?" he would have said, surely, by the law's setting life and death, since that is the proper business of the law, and not the gospel; can that be good news which sets death before men? But to leave this, Is moral suasion sufficient to ascertain man's salvation? Is the bare ministration even of the gospel itself, enough for this purpose? Is this the way God foresaw salvation would be ascertained to men, and the only one in which Christ and men could desire it should be ensured to them? when, where it is used in its utmost strength, it fails in innumerable instances, and was never sufficient, of itself, in one; and besides, is at most made use of but with a few, who are so in comparison of the far greater part of the world, who know nothing of the gospel, and the ministration of it: how then is salvation ascertained to them this way?
2. Another charge against this doctrine, is injustice, and that it represents God as an unrighteous Being: to which has been answered, that "the decree of election does no injustice either to the elect or non-elect; not to the former, since it secures to them both grace and glory; nor to the latter, since as God condemns no man but for sin, so he has decreed to condemn no man but for sin; and if it would have been no injustice in him, to have decreed to condemn all men for sin, it can be none to him, to decree to condemn some for sin." The reply to which is, that this answer is evasive and ambiguous, in regard it does not tell us, whether God condemns and decrees to condemn men for their own sin, or for the sin of Adam. But where is the evasion or shift in the answer? If it is for sin, and for sin only, with which men are chargeable, that God condemns, and has decreed to condemn, let it be what sin it will, the observation is full to the purpose, and sufficiently clears God from the charge of unrighteousness; nor is it ambiguous, since in a following paragraph it is plainly intimated and fully proved, that God condemns both for the sin of Adam, and for man's own personal iniquities; as the latter will not be denied, the former stands supported by those words of the apostle, By the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; (Rom. 5:18) which this writer takes no notice of, and makes no return unto; and yet the cry of unrighteousness entirely proceeds upon this point; though we do not say that any of the sons of Adam who live to adult age, are condemned only for the sin of Adam, but for their many actual sins and transgressions; and as for infants dying in infancy, it has been observed, their case is a secret to us; yet inasmuch as they come into the world children of wrath, should they go out as such, would there be any unrighteousness in God? All which, this author has passed over in silence: perhaps we may hear more of it under the article of Original Sin. This man has been told, that as God will not condemn the heathen for nor believing in Christ, of whom they never heard, so neither will he condemn such who have heard of him, for not believing spiritually and savingly in him, or that he died for them, or for not being converted: and yet he says, not a word is produced to vindicate God from the charge our scheme fixes upon him, of damning men for not believing falsehoods, and for not doing impossibilities. Men who have had the advantage of a divine revelation, may be condemned, not for not believing that Christ died for them, but for disbelieving that Jesus is the Messiah, and other things, which in the revelation are said of him; they may be condemned for their disobedience to the gospel, not for their being not converted by it, but for their contempt and rejection of it, as an imposture and a false report; and consequently, not for not believing falsehoods, and for not doing impossibilities.
3. This doctrine is farther charged with insincerity, or as representing God as an insincere and deceitful Being; since he offers to sinners a salvation never purchased for them, and on conditions not to be complied with. The answer to this is, that salvation is not offered at all by God, upon any condition whatsoever, to any of the sons of men, elect or non-elect; and therefore God, according to this doctrine, is not chargeable with insincerity and deceit. This occasions a terrible outcry of mystery of iniquity, an abominable tenet, horrid scheme, which has the image of the devil and the mark of the beast upon it, and other such like language, which breathe out the spirit, the very life and soul of modern charity, and is a true picture of it. This author owns, that hereby we are consistent, in preaching and writing, with ourselves and scheme, and so not chargeable with self-contradiction; and since it is of a piece with the rest of our tenets, and is likely to share the same fate with them, we need not be in much pain about the consequences of it. But this tenet, that there is no offer of salvation to men in the ministry of the gospel, is said to be inconsistent with all the dictates of reason, our ideas of God, and the whole system of the gospel: not surely with all the dictates of reason; for how irrational is it, for minister to stand offering Christ, and salvation by him to man, when, on the one hand, they have neither power nor right to give; and, on the other hand, the persons they offer to, have neither power nor will to receive? What this author's ideas of God are, I know not, but this I say, it is not consistent with our ideas of God, that he should send ministers to offer salvation to man, to whom he himself never intended to give it, which the ministers have not power to bestow, nor the men to receive: but, it seems, denying offers of salvation, is inconsistent with the whole system of the gospel; the Bible is hereby knocked down at once, and made to be the most delusive, and cheating book in the world; when the whole Bible is one standing offer of mercy to a guilty world. What! the whole Bible? the Bible maybe distinguished into these two parts, historical and doctrinal; the historical part of the Bible is surely no offer of mercy to a guilty world; the account of the creation of the heavens and the earth, in the first verse of it, can hardly be thought to be so. The doctrinal part of it may be distinguished into law and gospel; the law, which is the killing letter, and the ministration of condemnation and death to a guilty world, can be no standing offer of mercy to it: if any part of the Bible is so, it must be the gospel; but the gospel is a declaration of salvation already wrought out by Christ, and not an offer of it on conditions to be performed by man. The ministers of the gospel are sent to preach the gospel to every creature; (Mark 16:15) that is, not to offer, but to preach Christ, and salvation by him; to publish peace, and pardon as things already obtained by him. The ministers are khrukav, criers or heralds; their business is khrussein, to proclaim aloud, to publish facts, to declare things that are done, and not to offer them to be done on conditions; as when a peace is concluded and finished, the herald's business, and in which he is employed, is to proclaim the peace, and not to offer it; of this nature is the gospel, and the whole system of it; which preaches, not offers peace by Christ, who is Lord of all. As for the texts of scripture produced by this writer, several have nothing in them respecting pardon, life and salvation, and much less contain an offer of either; as I have shown at large in my first part of The Cause of God and Truth; whither I refer the reader; such as Genesis 4:7, Deuteronomy 5:29, Proverbs 1:23, Ezekiel 33:18, Acts 3:19, others are gracious invitations to the means of grace, and promises of pardon and grace to poor sensible sinners; as Isaiah 55:1, 7, Revelation 22:17, Acts 2:38, others, exhortations to duty with encouragements to it; as Psalm 50:23, Malachi 3:7, Matthew 6:5, 6, 15, and 7:21, 1 Timothy 4:8, 2 Corinthians 7:1, Revelation 22:14.
4. This doctrine is represented as a very uncomfortable one; since it makes it a hundred to one to a man that he is not elected, but must be forever damned. To which answer has been made, it is not such a chance matter, or uncertain thing to a man, as a hundred to one, whether he is elected or no; to whom the gospel is come, not in word only, but also in power and in the holy Ghost; who from hence may truly know, and be comfortably assured of his election of God. This man has now lowered his number, and made it ten to one, whether a man is elected or no, to whom the gospel is preached; but it is no odds at all to a man whether he is elected or no, to whom the gospel is preached; and to whom that is made the power of God unto salvation, or who is converted by it, which is the instance given. To which this writer replies, "then the gospel is glad tidings to no sinner in the world, unless he is actually converted." Why, truly, it is not glad tidings to such persons, nor is it judged so by them. It is so far from being good news to unconverted sinners, that it is disputed, despised, hated and abhorred by them; just as it is by this Dialogue-writer. There is no doctrine of the gospel that is really comfortable and truly delightful to a man in a state of nature: the doctrine of regeneration, delivered by Christ in these words, (John 3:3) except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God, can never be comfortable to an unregenerate man; nor can even any doctrine in which such as call themselves christians, are agreed; as for instance, the doctrine of an universal judgment, when all men must appear before God, and be accountable to him for the actions of their lives: this is a doctrine, to use this author's words, that all the world have reason to be affrighted at, and which no soul can possibly take any comfort from, till he does actually love God; and is irresistibly drawn to him; but it is not a whit the less true because it is uncomfortable to such persons, any more than the doctrine of election, which, however frightful it be to unconverted sinners, yields true peace and comfort to those who are born again, and have the faith of God's elect; though they take no pleasure in the rejection of others, but wisely leave it to the sovereignty of that God, who does whatsoever he pleases. Nor can the universal scheme afford such comfort to a converted man, as that of special grace does; since, according to the former, he may be lost and perish, when the latter secures certain salvation to him.
To close this head; it seems, according to this writer, that as the nation of the Jews are called God's elect, in like manner, the kingdom of Christ, converted ones, have the same title applied to them, not in their personal, but social capacity, as christian churches: so the whole church at Thessalonica are called God's elect, not with respect to single persons, but on the account of their being called by the gospel. But, surely, the calling of the Thessalonians by the gospel, must be personal, and not social, or as a Christian church; and therefore their election must be personal too, of which their calling was an effect, fruit and evidence. And though the nation of the Jews are called God's elect, or chosen, as such, and were distinguished by many favors, as a nation, from the rest of the world; yet there was a special, personal and particular election among them, a remnant, according to the election of grace: (Rom. 9:6, 7, 8, 27, 29, and 11:5, 7) nor are all that bare that name under the gospel, or in the kingdom of the Messiah, churches, but particular persons: the few, Christ said, were chosen, when many were externally called by the gospel, were persons, and not nations or churches; these are the elect, for whose sake the days of tribulation will be shortened, whom false prophets cannot deceive, and whom the angels will gather from the four winds: not churches, nor all the members of churches, are the poor of this world, whom God has chosen, and made rich in faith, and heirs of a kingdom: the elect Lady, and her sister, and Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and the elect strangers, were persons chosen before the foundation of the world in Christ, to be holy and happy. (Matthew 20:16 and 24:22, 24, 31; James 2:5; 2 John 1:13; Rom. 16:13; 1 Peter 1:1, 2; Eph. 1:4) I go on to consider,
III. The doctrine of Adam's fall, and original sin. Under this head our author endeavors,
1. To prove the entire innocence of infants from scripture. The passages he produces or refers to, are Jeremiah 2:30 and 19:4, Matthew 18:3, 4, the two first of these seem rather to be understood of the prophets, as they are by several expositors, than of infants; the former of them has no apparent reference to children, and the latter of them distinguishes innocents from the sons, or the children that were burnt with fire, for burnt-offerings to Baal; and both seem rather to regard the prophets; who, though not free from sin, yet were innocent as to any crime for which they suffered, and their blood was shed. And supposing infants were intended, they are only called so in a comparative sense, in comparison of others, who have added to their original guilt and corruption many actual sins and transgressions; and as for the words of our Lord in Matthew 18:3, 4, the meaning is not, that men must be perfect1y innocent, and entirely free from sin, or there can be no expectation of entering the kingdom of heaven; for then no man could hope to enter there; but that men must be born again, and appear to be so, and, in a comparative sense, must be holy, and harmless, free from pride, ambition, malice and envy. And even his learned Cicero, to whom he has recourse, helps him off but very lamely; for in the very citation he makes from him, he says, "We are no sooner born, but we fall into a wretched depravity and corruption of manners and opinions; so that we seem almost to suck in error with our mother's milk."
2. This writer endeavors to set aside the proof of the imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity, and the corruption of human nature by it, taken from Psalm 51:5, Romans 5:19. Ephesians 2:3, by giving different turns to, and false glosses on these passages. As to Psalm 51:5, he insinuates, that David might be base born, or unlawfully begotten, and so shapen in iniquity; and asks, is this a proof that other men are so, or that all men are so? This is a gloss which is formed at the expense of the characters of David's parents, of whom there is not the least suggestion of this nature in the word of God, but the reverse; for they are represented as holy and religious persons: this sense of them makes David illegitimate, who, therefore, must have been excluded from the congregation of Israel; whereas we have no intimation of any such exclusion; but, on the contrary, that he frequently went into the house of God with company; besides, he is not speaking of any sin his parents were guilty of, when he was conceived and shapen, but of sin and iniquity, in which he was conceived and shapen; nor would it have been agreeable to his design and view, to expose the sins of his parents, whilst he was lamenting his own. Our sense of Romans 5:19. that all mankind are made sinners by the imputation of Adam's disobedience, is said to be "contrary to reason, to the context, to known truths, to other more plain scriptures, to be in injurious to God, and abusive to mankind." It is not contrary to reason; imputation is not used by us in a moral sense, as when a man's own personal action, good or bad, is accounted to himself, but in a forensic sense, as when the debts of one man are, in a legal way, transferred and placed to the account of another; which is neither contrary to reason, nor the practice of men: nor is it contrary to the context, which, this writer says, leads us, by sinners to understand sufferers, mortal men liable to die, as verse 12, etc. but this is to make the apostle a most miserable reasoner, and guilty of proving the same thing by the same; the sense of whose words, death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned, must be, according to this interpretation, all men die because they die, or all men are sufferers because they are sufferers; whereas the apostle in these words, and throughout the context, shows, why death passed on all men, why many were dead, why death reigned as it did, why judgment came upon all men to condemnation; because all sinned in Adam, and by his disobedience were made, reckoned, and accounted sinners. Nor is this sense contrary to known truths, and other more plain scriptures; as to the latter, this author does not pretend to mention any to which it is contrary; and as for the former, though nothing can act personally before it has an actual personal being; yet as men may have a representative being, before they have an actual one, so they may act in their representative, as Levi paid tithes in Abraham before he was born; and though sin is a personal act, and a transgression of a law, yet it may be transferred to another, by imputation, not in a moral way, but in a judicial one: nor is our sense injurious to God, his being and perfections, or contrary to his methods of proceeding, who, in many cases, has visited the iniquities of the fathers upon the children: nor does it abuse mankind, but only represents how mankind are abused by sin; to which is owing all the miseries and calamities endured by man in this, or the other world. On the whole, our sense of the passage before us stands firm, without giving up any plain rule of interpretation of scripture, and which is further confirmed by the other clause in the text; for as men are made righteous in a forensic sense, or are justified, and have a right to life, through the righteousness or obedience of Christ, which this author owns, so they are made sinners in a forensic sense, by the disobedience of Adam, that is, by imputation; and this gives light to another passage of the apostle's, (1 Cor. 15:20) in Adam all die; and shows a reason for it, because all sinned in him, or were made sinners by his disobedience. The text in Ephesians 2:3. And were by nature children of wrath, even as others; is not forgotten by us to be understood of God's elect; who, consistent with their being beloved in Christ with an everlasting love, may, considered as the guilty and polluted descendents of Adam, be called children of wrath; that is, deserving of it; for so they are by nature, guilty through the imputation of sin unto them, being the natural posterity of Adam, and filthy through a corrupt depraved nature, propagated and communicated to them by natural generation; for whatsoever is born of the flesh is flesh, carnal and corrupt, and not by custom or habits of sin, which become second nature.
3. We are called upon to prove that God made a covenant with Adam and all his posterity, which is the ground of his imputing sin unto them. That there was a covenant made with Adam, I suppose, will not be denied, since a promise of life was made to him upon his obedience, and death was threatened in case of disobedience, to which he agreed in his state of innocence; all which formally constitutes a covenant, and is so called, Hosea 6:7. They, like men, or Adam, have transgressed the covenant. That this covenant was made with Adam and his posterity, in which he was their federal head and representative, appears from his being called the figure of him that was to come; (Rom. 5:14) which is to be understood either of all mankind, who were to spring from him, or of the Lord Jesus Christ, who was to come in the fullness of time; if of the former, it proves that Adam was a type or figure of all his posterity, that he personated them all, and that they were all represented in him and by him, which is the very thing it is brought to prove; if of the latter, that is, of Christ, Adam could only be a type or figure of him, as a public person and a covenant-head; and the parallel between them, as such, is clearly run by the apostle in the context, and in another place; (1 Cor. 15) showing that as the one conveys sin and death in all his posterity, the other conveys grace, righteousness and life to all his. Without allowing such a covenant made with Adam and his posterity, in which they were to stand or fall with him; and without considering him as a covenant-head, and representative of them, in whom they sinned and fell, it cannot be accounted for, how Adam's sin should "bring death on many, or render them liable to be treated as sinners, or make them more liable to both sin and death, or that they should share in the fatal consequences of his disobedience;" all which is acknowledged by this writer.
IV. Free grace and free-will come next into debate.
1. This man's notion of free grace is, that it is free and common to all men; upon which scheme he is asked, what grace is that in God to decree to save all men conditionally, to send his Son to redeem all mankind; and yet to whole nations, and that for many hundred years together, does not so much as afford the means of grace, of the knowledge of salvation, nor vouchsafes his Spirit to make application of it to them, but leaves them in their sin, and eternally damns them? To which he answers, "When we are upon the nature of the gospel and the universality of its offers, there is no need to evade the argument, by transferring the scene to the heathen world." I am at a loss to know what argument is evaded by putting the question; for, if grace is free and common to all men, if God's decree of salvation is universal, and reaches to all the individuals of mankind, and Christ has died for them all, then, surely, the heathen world has a concern in these things; and it must seem strange, if all this is true, that the knowledge of salvation, and the means of it, should not be afforded them, and they left in their sins to perish without law. Where is the grace of this scheme? What is now become of free, common, and universal grace? And an idle thing it is, to talk of the universality of the offers of the gospel, when the gospel is not preached to a tenth part of the world, nor anything like it; when multitudes, millions, whole nations know nothing of it. What this man means by saying that this is equally a difficulty against God's government of the world, I know not; since this argument does not concern God's government of the world, but the administration of his grace to the sons of men.
2. That there is a free-will in man, and that man is a free agent, is not denied by us; the natural liberty of the will, and the power of man to perform the natural and civil actions of life, and the external parts of religion, are owned by us. We assert, indeed, that there is no free-will in man of himself to do that which is spiritually good, nor any power in him to perform it. This is the account of free-will which we have already given, though this author suggests, that we have given no other than he has done, and dare not define it: he thinks that man cannot be free who is under a necessitating decree to sin; and, that if man has no power to do anything spiritually good, and yet obliged to do it, then he is obliged to impossibilities, and damned for not performing them. To which may be replied, that whatever concern the decree of God has in the sins of men, it does not necessitate or force them to do them; it does not at all infringe the freedom of their will, or destroy their free agency; as appears in the cases of Joseph's being sold into Egypt, and the crucifixion of Christ; which were both according to the decree and counsel of God; and yet Joseph's brethren and the crucifiers of Christ, acted as free agents, and with the full liberty of their wills. The things spiritually good which man cannot do, have been instanced in; as to convert and regenerate himself, to believe in Christ, and to repent of sin in an evangelical manner; and these are things which he is not obliged to do of himself, and will not be damned for not performing of them. There are indeed things which man is obliged to, which he now cannot do, as to keep the whole law; which impotency of his is owing to his sin and fall, by which we mean the sin and fall of Adam, and of all mankind in him; and this author may make what use he pleases of it.
3. An O yes is cried, and all men are desired to attend; to what? to this; "Writers on your side have not the courage and honesty plainly to deny that that men are in a state of trial, though a consequence of their principles; yet now and then they craftily insinuate this article of their dark and hideous scheme." That the saints whilst in this life, are in a state of trial, that is of their graces by afflictions, temptations, etc. is readily owned; but then all mankind are not in such a state, only converted persons, who only have grace to be tried; but if by a state of trial is meant, as I suppose it is, that men are upon probation of their good or ill behavior towards God, according to which their state will be fixed as to happiness or misery, that being as yet unfixed, so that whilst this life last it is uncertain whether they will be saved or lost: if this, I say is meant, I have had courage and honesty, as this man calls it, plainly to deny it years ago, and have published my arguments and reasons against it, which this writer, if he pleases, may try if he can answer.
4. This writer thinks that the drawings of God are necessary to conversion; but that these are only by moral suasion, and not by any powerful influence of divine grace, and so not irresistible. He owns irresistible evidence, illuminations and convictions; but such as may be resisted, and stifled, and come to nothing: how then are they irresistible? To use his own words, "If they may be resisted, then they are not irresistible." We own, indeed, that the grace of God may be resisted, but not so as to be stifled, and come to nothing, to be overcome, and entirely frustrated. The instances given of God's grace being frustrated, and of resisting internal operations, are not at all to the purpose; since the passages alleged, Hosea 7:1, Luke 13:34 and 19:42, Acts 28:24-27, regard not special grace, and internal operations, but external, temporal things, or the outward ministry of the word. It has been urged, that if no man can come to Christ unless irresistible grace draw him, then there can be no fault in not turning to him. To which it has been answered, that "to live in sin, is blame-worthy; and though man, by sinning, has involved himself in a state out of which he cannot extricate himself, yet is he not the less culpable on that score, for living in it:" which answer stands good, for anything this man has replied to it; since men are involved in this state not merely by another's, but by their own sin, and their continuance in it is of their own freewill. The argument from the offer of help has been set aside already, by denying there is any. The instance of a man's drinking himself into a fever, and continuing in it, notwithstanding commands of recovery, and offers of remedy, is stupidly impertinent; since not continuing in a fever, the consequence of his drinking, but in the sin itself, of which such an habit may be acquired he cannot break, can only have any show of agreement with the case before us. We readily allow, that no internal operations are employed, as to thousand who hear the gospel. But then, says this writer, such cannot believe and obey, and therefore cannot be justly punished for not believing and obeying. I reply, that such indeed cannot believe with the faith which is of the operation of God, nor perform new and spiritual obedience, to which the Spirit of God is necessary, and for which he is promised in the covenant, and therefore will never be punished for not believing and obeying, in this sense: but then, without internal operations, or special grace, such as are favored with an external revelation, are capable of believing the outward report of the gospel, and of yielding obedience to it; that is, of attending on the ministry of the word, and performing the external parts of religion; and in failure of these, may be justly punished for their unbelief and disobedience. I take no notice of our scheme being called by this man Antichristian and Diabolical; I am now pretty well used to such language, and indeed expect no other from men of modern charity.
V. The doctrine of justification, by the imputed righteousness of Christ, comes next under consideration. And,
1. Some passages of scripture, as Isaiah 64:6, Philippians 3:9, which represent the insufficiency of man's righteousness to justify him before God, are brought under examination. As to Isaiah 64:6, our author seems to be at a loss whether he should follow the interpretation of Grotius, or Henry. However, that the prophet speaks of a hypocritical people, he thinks is a clear point, for this wise reason; because it is said, at the end of the verse, we all do fade as a leaf, and our iniquities like the wind have taken us away: whereas hypocrites are not so free to own their declensions and transgressions, and to confess the impurity of their hearts, and the imperfection of their obedience; they generally make the least of their sins, and the most they can of their righteousness: So that these words are a reason against, and not for, his sense of the passage. St. Paul, in Philippians 3:8, 9, he says, only renounced his ceremonial, not his moral righteousness. But it is not the righteousness of the ceremonial, but of the moral law, which the apostle continually opposes to the righteousness of faith; see Romans 3:20-22, and 4:13, and 9:30, 31, and 10:5, 6. And when we say, that he renounced this righteousness, he knows very well our meaning is, not that he renounced doing it, or objected to the performance of it; but that he disclaimed all dependence upon it for justification before God; and, in respect to that, desired only to be found in Christ: which is not to represent the apostle falsely and absurdly, but perfectly agreeable with himself, and his principles.
2. This man has no other notion of imputation, but of accounting that to a man which is done by himself, and not what may be done, or contracted by another; contrary to the apostle's sentiments, Romans 4:6, 11, 23, 24, Philemon verse 18. He argues against the imputation of Christ's righteousness in this manner; if no one single act of the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, then the whole of it is not. Very right; for how indeed should the whole be imputed, if no one part of it is? But what are the particular acts of Christ's righteousness? His Incarnation, Baptism, Poverty, Fasting, his Victory over Satan, Preaching, Miracles, his Confession before Pilate, Obedience to death, giving a Commission to his apostles, his Intercession, and governing and judging the World. All false. Not these, but the several acts of his obedience to the moral law, are the righteousness of Christ, by which men are made righteous, and by which they can only be made so, by he imputation of it to them; the ground of which imputation is Christ's being their head, surety, and representative; so that the righteousness of the law being fulfilled by him, in their room and stead, it is all one as if it was fulfilled by them, and is said indeed to be fulfilled in them: which does not exempt them from service to God, or obedience to his law, but lays them under greater obligation in point of gratitude to an observance of it, though not in order to justification by it.
3. It is still insisted on, that there is no text of scripture to be found, proving the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. As for Romans 4:3, he stands to it, that it must be understood of Abraham's faithful obedience, or obeying faith, and not the object of it; which, he says, was the promise of God that he should have a son, that was imputed to him for righteousness. Now whatever may be said for the imputation of Abraham's act of faith to himself for righteousness, nothing can be said in favor of the imputation of the act of faith, that he should have a son, to us, for righteousness, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; where the apostle clearly asserts that that it, which was imputed to Abraham for righteousness, is also imputed to all them that believe. To which this man makes no reply. Nor does he take any notice of Romans 4:6, 1 Corinthians 1:30, 2 Corinthians 5:21, which were produced as proofs of the imputation of Christ's righteousness to his people. He allows that we are made righteous by the obedience of Christ, in the same sense we are made sinners by the disobedience of Adam; and since he owns before, that we are made righteous by the obedience of Christ, in a forensic sense, it must be by the imputation of it to us.
4. This author having suggested that the doctrine of imputed righteousness was a poisonous one, and tended to licentiousness; the contrary was proved from Romans 3:31, Titus 2:11, 12, and 3:7, 8, which he has passed in silence; and instead of offering anything in support of his former suggestion, he runs to the doctrine of Reprobation, of God's seeing no sin in his elect, and of irresistible grace; to which he adds a testimony of Bishop Burnet's, concerning some persons in King Edward the VIth's time, who made an ill use of the doctrine of predestination. This is no new thing with this writer; nothing is more common with him, than to jumble doctrines together; never was such a lumbering, immethodical piece of work published to the world. It would be easy to exculpate the above doctrines, as well as this of justification, from the charge of licentiousness; and I have done it already, to which I refer the reader. I go on to consider,
VI. The doctrine of the saints perseverance. Under which article,
1. Some passages of scripture, made use of in favor of this doctrine, are represented as a sandy foundation to build it upon. It seems that Job 17:9, is not a promise of God, but only the sentiment of Job. Be it so: Since it is a good one, and God has testified of him that he spoke the thing that was right, it should be abode by. Moreover, since Job spake under divine inspiration, why should not these words be esteemed a promise of God by the mouth of Job? The good work, mentioned in Philippians 1:6, which the apostle was confidently persuaded, not barely hoped, would be performed until the day of Christ, he intimates, was either planting the church at Philippi, or an inclination to liberality; he does not know which. What should induce him to propose the latter sense, I cannot imagine; since there is not the least hint, in the text or context, of the liberality of these persons: And as for the former, that can never be intended; since planting of a church was a good work external and visible among them, and not a good work begun in them, in their hearts, and that in each of them singly and separately, as this was; for the apostle says, even as it is meet for me to think this of you all. The everlasting righteousness, said to be brought in by Christ, Daniel 9:24, is suggested to be a covenant, whose terms of acceptance are unalterable. But the covenant of grace never goes by this name; and was it so called, it must be with respect to the everlasting righteousness of Christ, which always continues a justifying one to those interested in it; and therefore they shall never enter into condemnation, or finally and totally perish. Besides, the covenant confirmed by Christ, is spoken of verse 26, as distinct from this righteousness. Once more: If the justification and glorification of converted Gentiles are inseparably connected together, Romans 8:30, then those who are truly converted, and are justified by the righteousness of Christ, shall certainly be saved; and which is a doctrine to be defended, without establishing the principle of fatality, or stoical enthusiasm. The prophetic texts in Isaiah 54:10, and 59:21, Jeremiah 32:38-40, Hosea 2:19, in favor of the saints final perseverance, are left untouched, and are not meddled with by this writer.
2. Such passages of scripture as seem to militate against the perseverance of the saints, are brought upon the carpet; particularly, we are charged with giving an absurd and contradictory turn to Ezekiel 18:24-26, in supposing that the prophet, by a righteous man's turning from his righteousness, means a hypocrite's turning from his hypocrisy, from his feigned righteousness. But this is to give a perverse turn to our words and sense; for we say not, that the prophet means an hypocrite turning from a counterfeit and hypocritical righteousness to a real one, but a man's turning from an external moral righteousness to an open, shameful course of sinning: All mere outward righteousness is not hypocrisy, as the case of Paul before conversion shows, Acts 23:1, Philippians 3:6, which a man may have, destitute of the true grace of God, and may turn from into open sin; and is no instance of the apostacy of a real saint, or a truly just man; which this man is not said to be, in the passage referred to; and is elsewhere described as one that trusts to his own righteousness, and committeth iniquity. (Ezek. 33:13) The text in Hebrews 6:4-6, is only transcribed at large, and the reader left to judge of the meaning of it. The spiritual meat and drink, 1 Corinthians 10:3-5, the Israelites partook of in the wilderness, were the typical manna, and the water out of the rock; which they might do, and not partake of the spiritual blessings of grace signified by them: though, no doubt, many of them did; for the temporal calamities that befell them in the wilderness, are no proofs that they perished eternally. See Psalm 99:8. To persevere in grace and holiness, is a blessing of grace bellowed upon truly converted persons; to make use of means of enjoying this blessing, is a duty, such as to be strong in the Lord, to watch in prayer, etc. Ephesians 6:10, 19, and which the apostle Paul himself made use of: Though, when he says, Lest I myself should be a cast-away, (1 Cor. 9:27) the word adokimov, which he uses, does not signify a reprobate, or one rejected of God, but one rejected and disapproved of by men; his concern was not lest he should fall from the divine favor, or come short of happiness, of both which he was fully persuaded, Romans 8:38, 39, 2 Timothy 1:12, which persuasion was not built upon his own resolution and watchfulness, but upon the nature of God's love, and the power of Christ; but lest by any conduct of his, his ministry should be rendered useless among men. The instances of David and Peter are no proofs of the final and total apostasy of saints, since they were both recovered from their falls by divine grace. Judas, indeed, fell from his election to an office, but not from election to grace and glory, in which he never had any interest; and also from his ministry and apostleship, which is never denied to be an outward favor, though no inward special grace, and so nothing to the purpose. The chapters referred to, 1 Corinthians 10, Hebrews 6 and 10, Revelation 2 and 3, Ezekiel 18, 2 Peter 2. I have largely considered elsewhere, and have shown that they have nothing in them repugnant to the saints final perseverance; where I have also considered the several cautions and exhortations given to the saints respecting this matter; and have shown the nature and use of them; to which I refer the reader.
3. Under this head is again introduced the doctrine of God's seeing no sin in his people. In order to set this doctrine in a proper light, we distinguish between God's eye of omniscience and of justice; with the one he does, and with the other he does not behold the sins of his people, being justified by the righteousness of his Son: we also distinguish between the correction or chastisement of a father, and the punishment of a judge; which distinction we think might be allowed, and thought sufficient to keep the door shut, and not to open it to all manner and degrees of immorality, falsehood and lewdness, as this man suggests; though we do not distinguish, as he foolishly insinuates, between being chastened and punished in hell fire: who ever talked of fatherly chastisements in hell? The text in Numbers 23:21. He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, etc. he says, is spoken of the whole body of Israel, all the posterity of Jacob, who apostatized, rebelled, fell, and were cut off through unbelief, and so no ways serves our cause. I answer, that that whole body of people were a typical people, typical of all God's elect, or his spiritual Israel, and what is spoken typically of them, is really true of the other; and as all that people were, on the day of atonement, typically cleansed from all their sins and transgressions, hence God, in respect to that, beheld no iniquity in them; so the whole spiritual Israel of God, or all God's elect, being cleansed from their sins, and having them all really expiated by the blood and sacrifice of Christ, God sees no iniquity in them to take vengeance on them for it. But if this will not do, this man has more to say, and that is, that learned men say, for he is no judge himself, that the Hebrew original will justify another reading, namely, he doth not approve of outrage against the posterity of Jacob, nor vexation against Israel. I reply, that as our version agrees with the context and design of the writer, so it entirely accords with the original Hebrew, and much more so than this other reading does; and is confirmed by the Samaritan, Syriac and Arabic versions, and by such learned men as Vatablus, Pagnine, Arias Montanus, Junius and Tremellius, Drusius, Fagius, Ainsworth, etc. and could this new translation, though it is wholly borrowed from Gataker be justified, it would be so far from militating against, that it would rather establish the doctrine we contend for; for, if God disapproves of outrage and vexation against his people by others, he himself will give them none; or, in other words, he sees no sin in them so as to punish them himself: moreover, if this text was out of the question, the doctrine we plead for will stand its ground, we are not in such poverty and distress; for besides Jeremiah 50:20, which has been produced already, though this writer takes no notice of it, we have many others which contain the same truth (see Ps. 32:1, 85:2, 50:2, 51:7; 1 John 1:7; Song 4:7; Ezek. 16:14; Isa. 43:25, 44:22; Col. 1:21, 22, 2:10; Rev. 3:18, 14:5).
VII. We are now come to the last thing in the debate, the ordinance of Baptism. What is said upon this point may be reduced to these two heads, the subjects and the mode.
1. The subjects. The probability of the Jews baptizing the children of Gentile proselytes; of the apostles understanding and executing their commission, in conformity to their Jewish notions and customs; and of the early baptism of infants in the christian church, this writer thinks is ground sufficient for the practice, that is, of infant-baptism. But is it probable that there was such a practice among the Jews, before the coming of Christ, to baptize their proselytes and their children? since there is not the least hint of it, nor any allusion to it in the writings of the Old Testament, in which dispensation this practice is said to obtain; nor in the apocryphal writings of the Jews; nor in the writings of the New Testament; nor in those of Philo and Josephus, both Jews, and well versed in the customs of their nation; nor even in the Misna itself, a collection of their traditions; the authors and compilers of that have not the least syllable of this practice in it. This man, therefore, has either mistook his authors, or they have misled him: the truth of the matter is, this rite is first mentioned, not in the Misna, but the Gemara, a work later than the other, of some hundred years after Christ: and was this custom probable, is the probability of it a sufficient ground to establish such a practice upon, as a New-Testament-ordinance? Is it probable that the apostles understood and executed their commission according to their Jewish notions and customs, though it does not appear, nor is it probable that they had any such as this; and not rather according to the plain mind and meaning of their Lord and Master, who by his example and doctrine had taught them both how, or in what manner, and whom they should baptize? what probability is there of the early baptism of infants in the christian church? and, if there was, is that a sufficient foundation? Should there not be a plain proof for what claims the name of an ordinance, a positive institution, a part of religious worship? does it appear that any one infant was baptized by John, by Christ, or his orders, or by his apostles, or in the two first centuries? There was a talk about infant-baptism in the third century, but it will be difficult to prove a single fact, even in that; and if it could be proved, would this justify a practice that has neither precept nor precedent in the word of God? But it seems it was agreeable to the Jewish customs, to admit proselytes and their children by circumcision, and as soon as capable, to instruct them in religion; and that the Jewish children were entered into their church by circumcision, and so baptism is the only sign of admission into the christian church. To which I answer, as to Jewish customs, we have seen already what foundation there is for them, or probability of them; and as for the Jewish church, it was national, and the children of the Jews, as soon as born, before they were circumcised, belonged unto it, and therefore were not entered by circumcision. The instance produced by this man clearly proves it; for the little children represented in Deuteronomy 29:11, 12, as entering into God's covenant, and belonging to the congregation of Israel, were not as yet circumcised, see Joshua 5:5, and consequently could not be entered this way. Nor is baptism any admission, or a sign of admission of persons, infants, or adult, into a visible church of Christ; persons may be baptized, and yet not admitted into a church: what visible church of Christ was the eunuch admitted into, when he was baptized, or his baptism a sign of his admission into?
2. The mode of it. That there is any efficacy in baptism, to regenerate persons, take away sin, or make men more holy, is what is never asserted by us; nor do we think that a quantity of water is of any consequence on that account: we affirm it to be declarative and significative of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; for which reason we contend for the mode of immersion, as being so, and only so. The washing a part, the principal part of the body, this author thinks may stand for the whole. The instance with which he supports this, is in Exodus 24:8. His sense of that passage is, that not the people, but the pillars were sprinkled; which, he imagines, must appear to every man in his senses: though, according to his own account, it did not so appear to some, who thought the twelve young men were sprinkled, instead of the people; and though rejected by the learned Rivet, and others; yea, though Moses, and the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, say not a word of sprinkling the pillars, but affirm that the people were sprinkled. And if this man was in his senses, he would have seen which of these senses would have served his purpose best; for if not the people, but the pillars were sprinkled in their stead, then not a part, a principal part, nor any part of them, were sprinkled; and so no instance of sprinkling or washing a part of the body for the whole. He is now brought to allow that sprinkling, or washing the face, does not signify the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; though dipping the face or head in water, may do it. But why not go further, and rather say, dipping the whole body in water does it? since we are said to be buried with Christ in baptism, Romans 6:1, Colossians 2:12, which men of sense and learning allow to refer to the ancient mode of baptizing by immersion. Baptism is never called circumcision; nor are persons in baptism said to be crucified with Christ, but to be baptized into his death, and to be buried with him; and which can be represented by no other mode than that of immersion, or covering the whole body in water. But, after all, this way must still be insinuated to be unsafe, and indecent; and the old rant and calumny continued, against the clearest evidence, and fullest convictions to the contrary.
Thus have I considered and replied to the material things objected to the doctrines before in debate. One might have expected, that, in this Second Part, the author would have proceeded on some new subjects. This, to be sure, cannot be the Second Part he formerly intended. Perhaps his long harangue on the freedom of speech, and liberty of writing, is to pave the way for what he has farther to communicate. I am very desirous he should speak out freely, and write all he has to say. What it is he has farther in design, does not yet appear: we must wait patiently, and in the mean time bid him adieu, until he obliges us with his Third Part.
Dialogue p. 12.
Dialogue, p. 16.
Ibid. p. 7.
Dialogue, p. 8,9.
Dialogue, p. 11.
Dialogue, p. 11.
Ibid. p. 12.
Dialogue, p. 6, 7.
Ibid. p. 16.
Ibid. p. 12, 13.
Dialogue, p. 13.
Dialogue, p. 14.
Dialogue, p. 15.
Ibid. p. 15.
Ibid. p. 19, 20.
Dialogue, p. 17.
Ibid. p. 18-20.
Ibid. p. 19.
Ibid. p. 21.
Dialogue, p. 19, 22, 23.
Dialogue, p. 22, 23.
Dialogue, p. 26, 27.
Ibid. p. 24.
Discourse of Election, p. 79. Ed. 2. 78.
Dialogue, p. 24.
Dialogue, p. 24.
Dialogue, p. 25..33
Discourse of Election, p. 85. Ed. 2. 84.
Dialogue, p. 25.
Dialogue, p. 24.
Ibid. p. 28.
Ibid. p. 29, 30.
Dialogue, p. 31.
Discourse of Election, p. 260, 261. Ed. 2. 252.
Dialogue, p. 32.
Discourse of Election, p. 204, 477. Ed. 2. 199, 457.
Dialogue, p. 33.
Ibid. p. 34, 35.
Dialogue, p. 35.
Dialogue, p. 35.
Dialogue, p. 34, 35.
Dialogue, p. 36.
Dialogue, p. 36, 37.
Ibid. p. 37.
Dialogue, p. 41.