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Mr. Hill intimates that the Apostles were Imperfection
ists—St. Peter and St. James, far from pleading for a Death-purgatory, stand up for Christian Perfection.
WHEN Mr. Hill has so unadvisedly brought the Church of England against us, it is not surprising to see him press four apostles, “ Peter, Paul, James, and John," into the field to “ cut up," (as he calls it,) “ root and branch, my favourite doctrine of perfection.” Never were these holy men set upon a more unholy piece of work. Methinks I hear them say, Let Mr. Hill rank us with the Gibeonites : Let him make us ' hewers of wood' to the congregation for
But let him not set uş upon cutting up root and branch the lovely and fruitful tree of Christian Perfection.-Happily for that rare tree, Mr. Hill only produces the names of the apostolic woodmen, while we produce their axe, and shew that they lay it at the root of Antivomianism ;-a deadly tree this, which is, to our favourite tree, what the fatal tree in Paradise was to the tree of life. Mr. Hill appeals first to Peter; let then Peter first answer for himself.
1. Where does that apostle plead for Christian Imperfection, and a Death-purgatory? Is it where he says ? ' As He, who has called you is holy: So he ye HOLY IN ALL manner of conversation :-Seeing you have purified your souls, &c., love one another with a PURE HEART FERVENTLY :-Christ left us an example, that ye should follow his steps; who did no sinwho bare our sins, that we, being DEAD TO SIN, should live to righteousvess : Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same mind; for he that hath suffered in the flesh, hath ceased from sin.-The God of all grace, &c., after that ye have suffered awhile, make you PERFECT.' Had Peter been against our doctrine, is it probable that he VOL. IV.
would thus have excited believers to attain Perfection ; wishing it them, as we wish our flocks the peace of God which passes all understanding ?'
If that apostle pleads not. for the necessary In.. dwelling of Sin in his first Epistle, doth he do it in the second? Is it where he says, that · Exceeding great aud precious promises are given us, that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the pollution that is in the world ugh lust?' Is there Indwelling Sin in the Divine Nature ? And can those people, whose hearts are still full of sin and indwelling corruption, be said to have escaped the pollution that is in the world through lust ?' Might not a man whose lungs are still full of dangerous ulcers, be said with as much propriety to have escaped thre misery that is in the world through consuniptions Is it where St. Peter describes Christian Perfection, and exhorts believers to attain it, or to rise higher in it, hy adding with al} diligence to faith, virtue-to virtue, knowledge, temperance-patience-godlinessbrotherly kindness—and charity,' the key of the arch, and the bond of perfection ?-Is it where he states the difference between Fallen Believers, Weak Believers, and Perfect Christians ; hinting, that the First 'LACK these things,' i. e., Christian graces; that'these things are in' the Second : And that they ' ABOUND' in the Third ? Or is it where he bids 'us be diligent that we may be found of God in
peace, and blameless ?' For my part, I do not see here the shadow of a plea for the root of every evil in the hearts of believers till they die, any more than for the fruit of adultery, murder, and incest, in their lives till they go hence.
But what principally strikes us in Mr. Hill's appeal to St. Peter is, that although Peter was natnrally led by his subject to speak of the necessary indwelling of sin in our hearts during the term of life, if that doctrine had been true ; yet he does not so much as one hint about it. The design of his First Epistle was, mudoubtedly, to confirm believers, under the fiery trials
which their faith meets with. “You are kept,' says he, * by the power of God, through [obedient] faith unto salvation, wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season (if need be) ye are in heaviness, through manifold temptations. What a fair opportunity had Peter to say here, without an if need be, “You MUST be in heaviness, not only through manifold temptations, but also through the remaining corruptions of your hearts: The Cavaanites and wild beasts must still dwell in the land, to be goads in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, or you would grow proud and careless ; your heart-leprosy must cleave to you, as Gehazi's leprosy cleaved to him. Death radically cured him, and nothing but death can radically cure you. Till then, your heads must remain full of imputed righteous.. ness, and your hearts full of indwelling sin."-But, happily for the honour of Christianity, this Antinomian, this impure gospel, has not the least countenance from St. Peter; and he cuts up the very roots of it where he says-Who shall harm you, if you be fol-lowers of that which is good ?-Commit the keeping of your souls unto God in well-doing. [The very reverse of sinning.]—You are his daughters, (the daughters of him to whom God said, Walk before me, and be thou perfect,] so long as ye do well, and are not AFRAID with any amazement,' that is, so long as your conduct and tempers become the gospel. Avd every body knows, that a man's tempers are always as his heart; and that, if his heart be full of evil,' his tempers cannot be full of goodness.' (Rom. xv. 14.)
II. If St. Peter, the first of Mr. Hill's witnesses, does not say one word to countenance Autinomianism, and to recommend Christian Imperfection ; let us see if St. James pleads for Baal in the hearts, any more than for Baal in the lives of perfect believers. Turn to his Epistle, () ye that thirst after holiness! To your comfort you will find, that in the first chapter he shews himself a bold assertor of Christian Perfection. patience,' says he, have her perfect work, that ye
He may be perfect, and entire, wanting nothing.'
speaks the same language in other places : "Whoso looketh into the Perfect law of liberty, and CONTINUETH THEREIN, he, being a doer of the work, shall be blessed in his deed.'-And again :- If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man,' Nor is it difficult to demonstrate from his second chapter, that established believers, or perfect Christians, keep the royal, perfect law of liberty ;' and that those who « break it in one int are' in a deplorable case.
If Mr. Wesley had written an epistle to Antinomian believers, to make them go on to Christian perfectiou, could he have expressed himself in a stronger nianner than St. James does in the following passages ? • Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned (or damned.] (James v. 9.) Speak uot evil one of another, brethren. He that judgeth his brother, judgeth the law. But if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy,' [those believers, who keep or break his royal law.] (James iv, 11, 12.)—Again : 'If ye FULFIL THE ROYAL LAW, according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye Do WELL : But [if ye do not fulfil it,] if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend [i. e., commit sin) in one point, he is guilty of all, &c. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.' (James ii. 8, &c.)
What follows demonstrates, that fallen believers, if they do not repent and rise to the state of Christian Perfection, will be condemned for one sin. St. James properly instances in the sin of uncharitableness, because it is directly contrary to our Lord's new commandment of loving one another as he has loved us, and because charity is the fulfilling of the royal law, and the hond of perfection.'—'Can faith save him' (the uncharitable believer,]? says St. James.-" If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you [believers] say, Be ye warmed and filled, notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful
to the body, what doth it profit? Even so, faith, if it hath not works, [and of consequence, the fallen believer, if he has sin unrepented of,] is dead.' Such a one'is of the devil, for he committeth sin, and sin is the transgression of the law of liberty, by which he shall be judged, yea, by which he shall have judgment without mercy, that has (thus) shewed no mercy;'—whether he sinned negatively by not relieving his poor brother in deed, though he gave him good words; or whether he did it positively, by having respect to persons, or by grudging against his brother.' Compare James ii. 13, &c. with 1 John iii. 4, &c. to the end of both chapters, which are two strong batteries raised on purpose to defend the doctrine of Christian Perfection, and to deniolish the doctrine of Christian Imperfection, which is all one with Antinomianism.
Should it be objected, that, " at this rate, no Christian believer is safe, till he has obtained Christian Perfection :" We reply, that all Christian believers are safe, who either stand in it, or press after it. And if they do neither, we are ready to prove, that they rank among fallen believers, and are in as imminent danger of being
spewed out of Christ's mouth,' as the Laodiceans were. Let Mr. Hill candidly read the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Secood Epistle of St. Peter, and the First of St. John, and let him doubt of it if he can.
Should Mr. Hill object, that“ St. James himself says, In many things we offend all; and that this one saying abundantly proves, that he was a strong imperfectionist;" I beg leave to involve my honoured opponent in the following dilemma : Are the offences, of which St. James speaks, involuntary ? Or are they voluntary? If Mr. Hill says, “ They are involuntary,” I answer, Then they are not proper breaches of the law of liberty,' which St. James preaches; because that law curses us for no involuntary offences; and therefore, such offences, (like St. Paul's reproving of the High Priest more sharply than he would have done, had he knowu what high diguity his unjust judge was invested with,) such offences, I say,