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Truth, like Moses's rod, is all of a piece ; and so is the Serpent, which Truth devours. Look at the tail of the error which we attack; and you will see the venomous, mortal sting of indwelling sin. Consider the but. end of the rod, with which we defend ourselves against that smooth, yet biting error, and you will find the pearl of great price, the invaluable diamond of Christian Perfection. In the very nature of things, therefore, our long controversial warfare must end in a close engagement for the preservation of the sting, or for the recovery of the jewel. If our adversaries can save indwelling sin, the deadly sting, Antinomianism has won the day: But if we can rescue Christian perfection, the precious jewel, then will perfect Christianity again dare to shew herself, without being attacked as a dangerous monster; or scoffed at as the base offspring of self-ignorance and Pharisaic pride. This remark on the Antinomianism of our opporents, is founded upon the following arguments :
1. All those who represent Christian believers as lawless, First, By denying that Christ's law is a rule of judgment, which absolutely requires our own personal obedience : Secondly, By representing this law as a mere rule of life; and, Thirdly, By insinuating that this rule of life is, after all, absolutely impracticable; that a personal fulfilment of it is not expected from any believer ; that there never was a Christian who lived one day without breaking it; and that believers shall be eternally saved, merely because Christ kept if for them :--All those, I say, who hold this Solifidiau doctrive concerning Christ's law, are Christian Antinomians with a witness; that is, they are luwless Christians in principle, if not in practice. Now, all those who attack the doctrine of constant obedience, and Christian perfection, which we maintain, are under this three-fold error concerning Christ's law; and therefore they are all Antinomians, that is, Christless, lawless in principle, though many of them, we are persuaded, are not so in practice; the fear of God causing in them a happy inconsistency, between their legal conduct, and their luwless tenets.
2. If those who plead for the breakiug of Christ's law, by the necessary indwelling of a revengeful thoughi, only for one week, or for one day, are bare-faced Antinomians; what shall we say of the men, who, on various pretences plead for the necessary indwelling of all manner of corruption, during the term of life ? Can it he said, with any propriety, that these men are free from the plague of Antinomiauisin ?
3. And lastly, when the reader comes to Section XVI, wherein I produce and answer the arguments, by which the ininisters of the imperfect gospel defend the continuance of indwelling sin in all believers till death, he will find that their strongest reasons for this continuance, are the very same which the most lawles3 apostates, and the most daring renegadoes daily produce, when they plead for their coutinuing in drunkenness, lying, fornication, and adultery: And if these immoral gospellers deserve the name of gross Antinomians ; why should not the mora)- men, who hold their loose principles, and publicly l'ecommend them as “ doctrines of grace" deserve the name of refined Antinomians ? May not a silk-weaver, who softly works a piece of taffeta, be as justly called a weaver, as the man who weaves the coarsest sackcloth ?
Through the force of these observations, after weighing my subject in the balances of meditation and prayer for some months, I am come to these alarming conclusions :-(1.) There is no mcdium between pleading for the continúance of indwelling sin, and pleading for the couticuance of heart-antimonianism.-And (2.) All who attack the doctrine of an evangelically sinless perfection, deserve, when they do it, (which I would hope is not often,) the name of advocates for sin, better than the name of Gospel Ministers and Preachers of Righteousness. I am conscious that this two-fold conclusion wounds, in the tenderest part, several of my dear, mistakeu brethren in the ministry, whom, on various accounts, I highly honour in the Lord. Nerertheless, I am obliged in conscieuce to publish it, lest any of my readers, or any of those whom they way l'ol. IV,
warn, should be misled into Antinomianism, through the mistakes of those popular preachers : For the interests of truth, the honour of Christ's holy religion, and the welfare of precious souls, are, and ought to be to me, and to every Christian, far dearer than the credit of some good, injudicious men, who inadvertently undermine the cause of godliness; thinking to do God service, by stretching forth a Solifidiar hand, to uphold the ark of gospel-truth. Thus much for the reasons which have engaged me to call this Essay, The last check to Antinomianism.
'If the reader desire to know, why I call it also A Polemical Essay, he is informed, that Richard Hill, Esq., (at the end of a pamphlet entitled, Three Letters written to the Rev. J. Fletcher, Vicar of Madeley,”) has published " A Creed for Arminians and Perfectionists." The ten first articles of this Creed, which respect the Armivians, I have already answered in The fictitious and genuine Creed; and the following sheets contain my reply to the last article, which entirely refers to the Perfectionists.
That gentleman introduces the whole of his fictitious Creed, by these lines : “ The following Confession of Faith, however shocking, not to say blas. phemous, it may appear to the humble Christian, must inevitably be adopted, if not in express words, yet in substance, by every Arminian and Perfectionist whatsoever ; though the last article of it chiefly eoncerns such as are ordained Ministers of the Church of England.”—The last article, which is the Creed I
ver here, runs thus : “Though I have solemnly subscribed to the Thirtynine Articles of the Church of England, and have afirmed that I believe them from my heart, yet I think our Reformers were profoundly ignorant of true Christianity, when they declared in the Ninth Article, that the ivfection of nature does reinain in them which are regenerate ;' and in the Fifteenth, that All we the rest (Christ only excepted) although baptized
and borr: again in Christ, yet offend in many things, 6 and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and
the truth is not in us.' This I totally deny, because it cuts up, root and branch, my favourite doctrine of Perfection: And therefore let Peter, Paul, James, and John, say what they will, and let the Reformers aud Martyrs join their Syren song, their eyes were at best but half opened, (for want of a little Foundry eye-salve,) therefore I cannot look upon them as adult believers in Jesus Christ,
“ J. È
These iuitial letters probably stand for John Fletcher, John Wesley, and Walter Sellon. As Mr. Hill seems to level his witty Creed at me first, I shall first make my observations upon it. The van, without the main body and the rear, may perhaps make a proper stand against that gentleman's mistake :-A dangerous mistake this, which is inseparably connected with the doctrine of a purgatory little better than that of the Papists ; it being evident, that if we cannot be purged from the remains of sin in this life, we must be purged from them in death, or after death ; or we must be banished from God's presence ; for Reason and Scripture jointly depose, that nothing unholy or unclean shall enter into the heavenly Jerusalem.'
If we understand by Purgatory, the manner in which souls, still polluted with the remains of sin, are, or inay be purged from these remains, that they may see a holy God, and dwell with him for ever; the question, Which is the true Purgatory ? is by no means frivolous : For it is the grand inquiry, How shall I be eternally saved ? proposed in differeut expressions.
There are four opinions concerning Purgatory, or the purgation of souls from the remains of siu.—The wildest is that of the Heathens, who supposed, “ that the souls, who depart this life with some moral filth cleaving to them, are purified by being hanged out to sharp, cutting winds; by being plunged into a deep, impetuous wbirlpool; or being thrown into a refining