MODERN ANTINOMIANISM DEFENDED.
MANY, that call and account themselves Calvinists, or Calvinistic, are, in heart and understanding, if not avowedly, FREEWILLERS; squaring, as they seek to do, the testimony of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to the deductions of blinded human reason, and making a god for themselves, by blending shreds and patches of Scripture with shreds and hatches of their own imagination, instead of simply studying, lying at the feet of, and inhabiting, that Living and True One, whom the Bible has been written and published to make known." E. T. VAUGHAN.
My dear Onesimus,
AGAIN I take up my pen to address you on the subject of modern Antinomianism, and very justly so, considering the momentous nature of the subjects which it involves. I believe, from my very heart, that it consists of doctrines, founded exclusively on divine revelation, and on that account it cannot be made too public. But allowing, for argument sake, that, instead of modern Antinomianism being the true gospel of Christ, as I contend it is, that it should be the very reverse, in other words, that it should be "One of the worst heresies that ever infested the church of Christ," as says Agnostos;- "A system of subtle and specious impiety, in the room of Christianity," as says Mr. Hall;- "A plasphemous and atheistical insinuation, a lying, delusion, an impious compact between covetousness in the teacher and licentiousness in his disciples—a most deadly error," as says Mr. Chase;--"A mere system of selfishness, suited, not to the condition, but to the propensities; of fallen creatures," as says Mr. Fuller;--"An error, the most insidious in its operation, and the most antichristian in its effects," as says Mr. Giles. -- I say, supposing that, instead of modern Antinomianism being a doctrine according to godliness, it should be the hydra monster, already described by modern Calvinists; in either case, I think myself wisely and commendably employed, in giving it publicity. I shall proceed, therefore, in my undertaking; and, first of all, it may not be amiss to remark, that the points of distinguishing difference between the two isms, as inserted in my former letter, refer first, to the ETERNAL WILL, PURPOSE, Or DECREE OF GOD ; secondly, to the doctrine of election, as having respect to the objects elected, from the pure mass of creatureship; thirdly, to the doctrine of reprobation, as originating in the eternal and absolute decree of God; fourthly, in the death of Christ, as being insufficient for the salvation of the whole world; fifthly, on the justification of God's elect, as being from eternity, and not when they believe; sixthly, to the sentiment of sanctification in particular, as securing to the saints IN Christ, perfect and not partial holiness ; seventhly, to salvation, as being unconditional, and not suspended by terms, to be fulfilled, in order to its being obtained; eighthly, to the question, whether it is or is not the duty of natural men to perform spiritual acts, with a slight reference to the authority of the Sinai law, over the spirits and conduct of believers in Christ Jesus. The next thing, therefore, to which I might invite your attention, refers to the difference of opinion between modern Calvinists and modern Antinomians on the authority of gospel ministers to offer Christ to their hearers in opposition to making a simple proclamation of him, leaving the Holy Ghost to bless it to those for whom it is designed; also, whether it be scriptural for ministers to invite, indiscriminately, without respect to character, all their hearers to a participation of gospel blessings; and finally, whether faith is not an indispensable antecedent to repentance unto salvation; but, a minute examination of these points is not designed, at least formally, by my present undertaking, though not to be excluded therefrom. What, then, is my object on the present occasion? Why, it is to examine impartially, with a view to own as truth, or refute as error, the various indictments filed by modern Calvinists against the impregnable Colossus of modern Antinomianism, in favor of which, I am ready to hazard the loss of all things, believing. as I do, that it is neither more nor less than the knowledge of Jesus Christ. But, where shall I begin my examination of the accusations brought against the system of theology, designated Antinomian, and when I have begun, when and where shall I leave off; for, truly the scene, already presented to my view, is so decidedly mazy, that ancient Babel will never be extinct while modern Calvinism is extant. "In the first place, then, a sound Antinomian is a man, who has given up COMMON SENSE VIEWS of the word of divine revelation, not considering that the Bible is a gracious boon from heaven to mankind at large, and is designed to be understood in the same way as any other plain book, &c." So says the editor of the New Baptist Magazine; and so say I, as one, who on all occasions, would prefer to die, in defence of any statement of truth, than to live by adhering to that which is false. Is the above indictment, charged on Antinomians, designed to exhibit their shame? if so, then I greatly rejoice and will rejoice, for no development of character could possibly answer more fully to the character of the apostle Paul, than does this; wherefore, without stopping to entertain you with the pious editor's ludicrous description of a sound Antinomian, in opposition, as I should suppose, to a rotten one, I beg leave to insist, with impregnable inflexibility, on the Scripture orthodoxy of a "sound" Antinomian, in his giving up "common sense views of the word of divine revelation." What is common sense? Is it not that, with which every man is possessed by nature, though some men have more than others. It is by the rule of common sense, that all natural men view the word of divine revelation, and by which the word of divine revelation is regarded as foolishness. It was a common sense view of the divine testimony that made Nicodemus marvel, and exclaim, when the DIVINE WORD told him, "Ye must be born again. How can a man be born, when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?"
It was this evangelical editor's common sense view of the divine revelation, that made "The Jews murmur at Christ, because he said, I am, the bread which came down from heaven; and they said, (directed by common sense views of the word, &c.) Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph whose father and mother we know! how is it, then, that he saith, I came down from heaven." Yes, and it is the modern Calvinists' common sense views of the word, which make Socinians stumble and fall at the word which reveals Jesus as a divine person. It is a common sense view of the Scriptures by which the ancient Sabellians, of late years new modelled into high Unitarians, endeavour to raise superior to the vulgar blasphemies of Socinianism, and at the same time reject the doctrine of the Trinity, by explaining those Scriptures, which insist upon the man Jesus being very God, by contending, that the only sense in which Christ is God is deratively, by the consociation of the Father, who is exclusive Deity, with the Son, who is exclusively human, into one existence, by which common sense views of the Scriptures, we are taught to believe, that the Son is only God by the Deity of another, and on the same principle the FATHER is man, by union to the man Christ Jesus; a scheme, which both adds to the word of God and takes from it. Yes, and it is by this common sense view of the Scriptures, that the Holy Ghost is denied the honor of being personally God, in the place of which he is represented as a mere breath, an influence, &c. ; the same rule also directs Pre-existarians, in their condescension to the blasphemy of those who deny Christ's Godhead, by telling them how they may dispose of all those Scriptures which reveal the Son's existence, prior to his being born of a woman. These scriptures are to be explained away by the fleshly assumption, that half of Christ, as a man, pre-existed, some say, from eternity; others, from the beginning of time; and others, soon after time began: whereas, the other half of Christ did not come into existence till Mary's miraculous conception by the Holy Ghost; so that, when the Saviour says, "And no man bath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man, which is in heaven," yes, at the very time he spoke it, yet by the "common sense view," which modern Calvinists and pre-existarians take of the words of Christ, he is made to speak of the descent of his human soul into his body; and, as for his saying, that while he spake these words on earth, he was also in heaven, their sense had no reference to his Deity." The Son of Man, which is in heaven, &c." says Dr. More, "whose mind and conversation is there; as Grotius also interpreteth these last words, "It is by the common sense view of Holy Writ, abandoned by Antinomians, that the Papists interpret Scripture in their defence of transubstantiation; it is by the same rule, that Sandemanians expound the doctrine of faith in Christ unto salvation, to include nothing more "than a simple assent to the divine testimony," and that there is no difference between believing any common testimony, and believing the apostolic testimony. Yes, this is the common sense view which the editors of the New Baptist Magazine take of the Holy Scriptures. And what, I ask, is the view taken of the word of divine revelation, by all our Arminian freewillers ? is it not a common sense view in which they deny the glorious gospel of the blessed God, to the degrading of all that is glorious in the covenant characters of the Holy Trinity. By what other rule do modern Calvinists explain away the beauties of Christ's gospel, as distinguished from the covenant of works, by amalgamating them into one. I should like to know if modern Calvinists really believe, that the apostle Paul viewed the words of divine revelation in the same sense, after his conversion as he did before! and if not, what they conceive his views of Holy Writ were regulated by before his conversion? allowing, as they teach, that common sense was the standard for his interpreting Scripture after his conversion? Was the opinion of a modern Antinomian asked for on this subject, he would reply, that while Paul was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an injurious person, persecuting the way of faith all that time, he, like all other natural men, took a common sense view of the words of divine revelation; whereas, after his conversion, he, like the "sound Antinomian," gave up "common sense views of the words of divine revelation."
Having found out a more excellent way, which way is altogether out of the reach of common sense, it being a supernatural sense by which he that is spiritual discerneth spiritual things; surely the Greeks had common sense, as well as modern Calvinists, and yet such were their common sense views of the word of divine revelation, that it was regarded or viewed by them as abstract foolishness; yes, and Antinomians not only own themselves guilty of the sin laid to their charge by modern Calvinists, but glory in their shame, confessing that they are the heretics who have "given up common sense views of the word, &c." Prior to the disciples understanding or taking a just view of the Scriptures, I suppose they were not possessed of common sense, but when the Saviour empowered them to view the Scriptures correctly, then I suppose he bestowed upon them for the first time in their lives, common sense. And when David prayed to have his eyes opened that he might behold the wonders contained in the divine word, I suppose he prayed for common sense; it must have been so on the hypothesis advocated by those who are teachers in the schools of modern theology. But it is further alleged as a crime of no common hue, that Antinomians "do not consider that the Bible is a gracious boon from heaven to mankind at large," indeed we consider no such thing, for we know to the contrary, the Bible is family property; and though it may and does form a concatenation of incidents, lay in the way of the reprobate, and in which their own eternal destiny is revealed, they have no part or lot in the Bible, as a gracious boon from heaven. To this Antinomians will stand as stiffly as an heir at law would contend that the estate to which he is heir, is no part of it the property of his father's servants, whatever convenience they might derive therefrom by virtue of a local connexion with the property; nor will Antinomians flee from the charge of "not considering that the Bible is designed to be understood in the same way as any other plain book." So to consider would be to become infidel and deny the divinity of revelation. Books that are only human, however abstruse, may be understood by human diligence, but the Bible, which is from above, must be understood from the same source, nor can any one understand a single doctrine in the Bible, but as they are taught by the Holy Ghost. So taught good Luther, in opposition to his freewill antagonist Erasmus, "NOT ONE," says Luther, "discerns an iota of scripture, but he who has the spirit of God. All men have a darkened heart; so that even though they should repeat and be able to quote every passage of Scripture, they neither understand nor truly know any thing that is contained in these passages; nor do they believe there is a God; or that they are themselves God's creatures, or any thing else. For the spirit is necessary to the understanding of the whole of Scripture, and of any part of it." Surely if there ever was one Antinomian "sounder" than his brethren it was Luther, for he abuses and calls the fellow a skeptic who in his days "considered with modern Calvinists that the Bible was designed to be understood in the same way as any other plain book." I never yet met with an infidel who degraded the Bible so much as do the modern Calvinists, who teach their disciples that the Bible is to be understood in the same way as any other plain book, for though infidels deny that the Bible is of God, they generally allow that it is far superior to every other book, or it could not be a cunningly or wisely devised fable, on which account they allow that it carries all before it, except with a few whose penetration is equal to theirs who devised the Bible, which they never allow of books ill general.
SECONDLY. "The very stuff of which the thorough paced Antinomian makes his righteousness, is an unfounded assurance of his own safety, spiritual pride, and bitter malignity, and a few perverted evangelical phrases, often intermingled with low wit and scurrility." So reports the late Dr. Ryland, in his helping hand rendered to Mr. Fuller, on an occasion of the latter gentleman's undertaking to write a book on Antinomianism.
The late Dr. Hawker, (as we are informed by the editors of the N. B. Magazine) since the fall of W. Huntingdon stands foremost in the ranks, or rather sustains the character of being the prime leader of this unhallowed confederacy; --his word is law with his followers, and to hint they look up as to one gifted with the authority of an apostle. I have made this reference to Dr. Hawker, that this prime leader of unhallowed Antinomians may speak for himself and his followers, his word being a law to them, "LOOK," says that venerable divine, "to this one grand thing, that all thy confidence and all thy joy ariseth wholly from Jesus's person and righteousness; let Jesus have ALL thy confidence. Faith brings nothing, for it hath nothing: it casts itself wholly upon Jesus. Amidst all its guilt, and fear, and tears, it is Jesus only to whom faith looks, it is Jesus alone upon whom it depends. It bath nothing to do with self; neither our own feelings, nor the exercise of our graces."
O Sir, how I pity from my very heart those writers whose whole drift is to establish their own party existence, on the ruins of their fellows' reputation, without the least regard to truth, and yet awful to relate, such is the uniform meanness stooped to by almost every modern Calvinist, who has undertaken to attack the theology so urbanely contended for by the late Dr. Hawker.
"O ENVY! hide thy bosom, hide it deep;
A thousand snakes, with black envenomed mouths,
Nest there and hiss and feed through all thy heart."
A THIRD species of complaint lodged against the system I have undertaken to defend, is "that it is not embraced so much by the learned as by the illiterate part of professing Christians, it is especially calculated for the vulgar meridian." So says Mr. Fuller, and truly degrading is such a testimony (designed as an argument) to the memory of any author, calling himself a Christian; but in a tenfold sense is it disgraceful to the memory of Mr. Fuller. Well might his biographer affirm, which he did from dear bought experience, that "Mr. Fuller's mental and moral energies were allied to something like misanthropy, which in too many instances, produced rashness and dogmatism in the opinions he formed of others." Beside, Mr. Fuller of all men, ought to have been silent on the subject of "the vulgar meridian," himself being proverbially illiterate and disgustingly uncultivated in point of every thing that could render human nature acceptable in either human or Christian society, but this is not the worst of his consequence, his reflections are of the old leaven, which wrought hard on the fleshly feelings of those who showed the least disposition to follow Christ in the days of his flesh, by the hue and cry of, have any of the rulers believed on him? whereas it was the poor, designated by Mr. Fuller, " the vulgar meridian," that heard the Lord Jesus gladly. O, how different are Mr. Fuller's invectives against the illiterate Antinomian, to the high honor conferred on the same class of people by that exquisitely beautiful author and refined scholar, the Rev. James Hervey, who says, "The poor and unlearned generally understand the gospel better than the accomplished scholar."
And the truly refined gentleman and accomplished scholar, Dr. Hawker, defends the same generous sentiment, in honor of the Lord's family, as that of which Mr. Hervey was not ashamed. " A godly man," says the doctor, "of no great learning, became an instrument in the hand of God, of converting a learned philosopher, on whom the bishop's arguments had had no weight. The converted Christian gave this apology for himself—"Whilst you reasoned with me," said he, "against words, I opposed words; and what was spoken, I overthrew by the art of speaking; but, when, instead of words, power came out of the mouth of the speaker, words could no longer withstand truth, nor man resist the power of God."
In addition to this overthrow to Mr. Andrew's assumption, I might refer you to what is affirmed by Mr. Fuller's greatest advocates about Dr. Crisp, which is, that "He was the great champion of Hyper-calvinism," but, did the intended stigma of "the vulgar meridian," for which Antinomianism is exclusively calculated, belong to him. Mr. Fuller, moreover, remarks, that "few have cared to encounter them, (Antinomians) lest they should bring upon themselves a torrent of abuse." This, however, is too false to need refutation; the abuse being, if not exclusively, it is comparatively confined to the writings of modern Calvinists; for the truth of this I will stake my life, on comparing the controversies, conducted by each party. "But with regard to repentance," Mr. Fuller moreover affirms of Antinomianism "the system goes, in a great measure, to preclude it." I think it would be well for Mr. Fuller's surviving followers, if they would trouble themselves to consult the writings of Drs. Crisp and Hawker, for thereby they would find that they have been either wilfully, or ignorantly, misled on the subject. For proof of this, I cannot refrain from inserting an unrivalled testimony on the doctrine of gospel repentance, from the writings of Dr. Hawker, which will be the best refutation of Mr. Fuller's illiberal report. "I pass on" says the doctor, to another distinguishing property, whereby the operations of the Holy Ghost in the heart may be ascertained and known, namely, by effecting in the believer's mind, sincere and true repentance.
It was among, the first purposes of our blessed Lord, in his donations upon mankind, after his being exalted as a Prince and Saviour, to give "repentance to Israel and remission of sins." The principles of true and false repentance are so perfectly distinguishable from each other, and spring from sources so opposite, that a small attention is sufficient to discern them, by their respective qualities. In false repentance, there is no dislike to the past transgressions, but to their consequences. On the contrary, the must striking feature of that true repentance, which arises from the spirit of grace in the heart, is an irreconcilable hatred to sin, accompanied by the most poignant sorrow, for having offended so infinitely gracious and merciful a being as God." Now, my dear sir, compare this beautiful description of Evangelical repentance, from the pen of the prime leader of Antinomians, with the modern Calvinists' assumption, and you will not be at a loss to know on whose side is the truth.
FOURTHLY. " The spirit of Antinomianism is to fall out with the government of God; to raise objections against it as rigorous and cruel, to find excuses for sin committed against it, and to seize on every thing that affords the shadow of an argument for casting it off. The truth is, they have affixed such ideas to sin as to divest it of every thing criminal, blameworthy, or humiliating, to themselves." This is a fair sample of what Mr. Fuller set on foot among the Baptist churches, as a substitute for the old fashioned gospel, which teaches its votaries "To lay aside all malice and all guile, envies and evil speakings."
But what says the Antinomian, Hawker, whose word is a law with his followers. "He (Christ) was not only to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself, but he was to take away the love of sin, and the dominion of sin out of the minds of his redeemed, by forming within them a new nature. But, perhaps, it may be questioned, what! if the believer fall into transgression, will not the soul feel restraints in the exercise of those privileges? Yes, unquestionably a sense of guilt upon the mind will ever form a sad cloud of darkness, to intercept our view of the divine countenance. Believers well know what it is to groan under a body of sin and death, and for the burden of which they go heavily. And indeed the true believer, in whose heart the love of God hath been most fully manifested, will he most abundant in his sorrow." O, what a suitable refutation is this Antinomian testimony to that truly grievous falsehood previously inserted from the pen of Mr. Fuller.
FIFTHLY. " Antinomianism, according to the well known derivation of the tern, signifies that which stands opposed to the Holy LAW of God. It has its root in human depravity." So says Agnostos; in answer to which I would ask, does not the gospel of Christ, in all its features, stand opposed to the holy law of God? and undoubtedly it does, and will, while inflexible and unbending justice stands opposed to mercy and free grace, from which syllogism we are taught by Agnostos to affirm, that the gospel of Christ "has its root in human depravity. Its tendency," Agnostos further contends, is to subvert the foundation of all true religion." I thought Christ was the foundation of all true religion, but surely the faith of Antinomianism, which contends for the Gospel of Christ, in opposition to the law of Sinai, does not subvert, or, to use the apostle's words, "frustrate the grace of God." We know, and are sure, that the law, contended for by Agnostos, is not of faith, but in direct opposition thereto. The law came by Moses, but grace and truth by Jesus Christ; wherefore, if to preach, believe in, and contend for, grace and truth, in direct opposition to the law, is to subvert the foundation of all true religion, then, indeed we are guilty.
SIXTHLY. "The design of the gospel is, to conform us to the image of God, and to render us obedient to his will. But this, which is the chief end of the gospel, according to the apostles, finds no place in the gospel, according to the Antinomians; holiness and obedience making NO part of their system. "Libels," says Dr. Hawker, "of every kind, in my esteem, are best treated by silence; and libels which come from anonymous authors, certainly can have no higher pretensions, than to contempt." I know of no reward of which Agnostos is more worthy than contempt, for such aspersions; and as for his cowardice in concealing his name, after asserting such known falsehoods, I should be read to conceive that he was an editor to some evangelical Baptist, or particular Baptist Magazine; it being the privilege of editors to sell themselves to work evil, by maligning others with impunity, while they shelter themselves from personal disgrace, by calling themselves reviewers. Let Dr. Hawker (to whom I so frequently refer, on account of his being "the primer leader of unhallowed Antinomians,") speak for himself and his followers, in refutation of such unequalled slander. "Men of no real religion there may be, and men of no real religion there always will be, who mingle in the congregations where the truths of God are preached, as well as in others. But common candor, and common charity, would not surely make an estimate of true religion, from the characters of such false professors of it. There must be a new birth, as the foundation for new conduct. I contend that the inward operation of the Holy Ghost is equally carried on in the present moment in the heart of the true believer, as in former ages, where "the love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost," there will be a change of the whole character, not only in the more immediate seasons of devotion, but in all the departments both of social and active life; in all the transactions between man and man, as well as the duties towards God; a train of uniform behaviour, corresponding to that divine principle, will pervade and influence the whole man in his disposition and conduct." Surely, Sir, if modern Calvinists are capable of yielding to the truth only for a moment, the above extracts from the pen of Dr. Hawker will constrain them to acknowledge that Agnostos never could have disgraced his character as an author more than by saying, "Antinomians reject holiness and good works, under the pretense of honoring Christ, and magnifying the grace of God;" such a sentiment being as foreign from our belief, as holiness is opposed to sin.
I know, as our much loved Hawker elsewhere observes, that "sin is not rooted out; you see, you feel you faint under its baleful effects daily in the contest, by which the enemy harasseth you, your spirits are enfeebled; yourself too often led captive by him at his will. But tell me, my brother, are not these things furnishing continual sorrow and heaviness of heart? Do you not find your very soul humbled to the dust before God, by reason of this state." But does this acknowledged warfare between flesh and spirit, sin and holiness authorize such conclusions as those imputed to the more doctrinal opinions of Antinomians.
A SEVENTH falsehood, told by modern Calvinists, about Antinomians, is, that "they are strangers to self-examination, and their assurance is without evidence." For disproof of this compound falsehood, I might refer you to Dr. Hawker's Sermons on the Divinity and Operation.; of the Holy Ghost, in which yon will find more frequent mention made of the Christian's obligation to examine himself for evidence of assurance, than in any other volume of sermons of equal size." If there be one doctrine of the gospel more plainly revealed, and more forcibly insisted upon than another, it is that which the Son of God himself taught, namely, the regeneration of the heart." (Letter I. to a Barrister) And, in proof of the uniformity of that great man's belief, I will insert an extract from his Sermon on Acts 19, ii. "Have ye received the Holy Ghost, since ye believed." Has any change taken place in the disposition of our minds and the conduct of our life, since we entered into being; or, do we remain the same we ever were, with respect to the objects of our pursuits and affections. Have we the same tempers, the same habits, the same indifference, and inattention, to HOLY things, as distinguish men of the world from lovers of God; or, are we renewed in the spirit of our minds, &c. In your serious investigation of these points, let me caution you against resting satisfied with a superficial EXAMINATION. Imagine not that any and every alteration which may have taken place in your conduct, is an evidence of the new birth. Changes are perpetually occurring in the sentiments and manners of men of no religion, from the vicissitudes of life, from an alteration of time and circumstances, and from mere worldly and prudential motives; all which are perfectly distinct things from the spiritual operations of grace in the soul, and are the effects of very opposite causes. Shall I then once more intreat you, who read these lines, to examine yourself by these discriminating characters, on this grand point of inquiry, which every Christian should make, and the testimony he should give concerning himself; whether you have received the Holy Ghost since you believed. The evidences of it you ought not to be a stranger to."
Surely, Sir, a true delineation and defence of modern Antinomian principles, will be rendering to the church of Christ, not only a reasonable, but an acceptable service, especially considering that "ONE of the most awful consequences, resulting from Antinomian doctrines, is that of deluding the souls of men into a persuasion of their state on insufficient grounds," at least, so says Mr. Agnostos, and his trumpeters the reviewers of the New Baptist Magazine, &c. &c. To whom, however, we may say, " There are no such things done as thou sagest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart." For proof of which I cannot do better than by inscribing the following standard of evidences of a person having received the Holy Ghost, since he made a profession of religion.
I do not presume," says Dr. Hawker, " to describe the exact manner in which the work of the Holy Spirit is conducted in the soul of man. God is a sovereign agent, whose operations are neither confined to mode, nor circumscribed by form." The first evidence of the ministry of the blessed Spirit in the heart, is the conviction he produces of sin. The second evidence, is the pro-produce of "sincere and true repentance." The third evidence of a work of grace in the heart, is made manifest by the believer's entire confidence in Jesus, as the sole cause of salvation. A fourth evidence is founded in the love of the brethren." You must excuse this rough sketch, taken from the doctor's sermon, without the least regard to formality, with a view to brevity in particular, as my design is answered by adducing the most indisputable disproof of the falsehood of their testimony, who affirm that the "Antinomian assurance is assurance without evidence."
But we are told moreover, EIGHTHLY, that "Antinomians will insist upon it that obedience cannot be required of them, in their own persons, seeing it has been rendered for them in the person of their surety." To this vague and designedly sophisticated charge, I shall only reply, that when every modern Calvinist undertakes to refute the principles of Antinomianism, it would be well if he would first make himself acquainted with that which he sells himself to oppose, lest ignorantly he is found fighting against God's truth.-The obedience which Antinomians still insist, cannot be demanded of them, is the obedience of the Sinai law, that being already rendered to its fullest extent, and by every soul whose mercy it was to have been crucified in Christ. When Adam broke the law, all his posterity broke it quite as much as he did; and so when Christ fulfilled the law's demands, all his people fulfilled the same quite as much as Christ did; nor has the law of God, under which Christ was made any more demands on a believer on earth than it has on Christ in heaven. Wherefore there can be no obligation to obedience where there are no demands for it. But surely this belief does not exclude all obligation on the part of believers towards their God. Is there no such thing as "the obedience of faith," but is this the obedience which the elect rendered to God and his holy law in the person of his surety? I should think not; indeed the one was legal, the other is evangelical; and though Calvinists may not be capable of discerning between the two, the difference is not less discernible on that account.
NINTHLY. "With respect to the unregenerate, we are told, no obedience can be expected or even required of them, according to Antinomians; their inability to obey being considered as a sufficient excuse for their continuing to be disobedient." This is too palpably false-to need a reply; but, as this will be a subject of inquiry when I come upon the law, I shall now refer you to another statement, which is that "No such a word as DUTY is to be found in the Antinomians' vocabulary," I wonder, for my part, how men, calling themselves Christians, can sit down coolly, deliberately and dispassionately write such known lies. "Punish me, O my God, as often and as severely as thy mercy sees necessary, and my departure from DUTY requires; but let me not sleep over my offences, &c." Such, my dear Onesimus, was the language of the Antinomian Dr. Hawker, in reference to himself. Now, then, hear how he addresses his people, "In a word, are we followers of God, as dear children, &c. manifesting a spirit of grace in all the departments of DUTY." Again, in speaking of the Christian minister, he says, " How infinitely solemn must be his situation, superadded to the personal duties of the individual." And yet, in the face of all this evidence, which might be increased a hundredfold, from the writings of the most avowed Antinomians, modern Calvinists have the impious audacity to affirm, that "no such word as duty is to be found in the vocabulary of an Antinomian."
TENTHLY, "Antinomians," says Mr. Giles, "treat, as useless lumber, two thirds of the Bible." From the pen of this witness, I suppose modern Calvinists divide the Bible into three parts—the Decalogue, the ceremonial law, and the gospel. Now, shall Antinomians return Mr. Giles railing for railing, by pompously trumpeting abroad, that modern Calvinists "treat, as useless lumber, one third of the bible, and that they oppose those ministers, who faithfully declare the whole counsel of God," because, forsooth, they believe, "that one part of the Bible, the ceremonial law, is at an end, and has nothing to do with believers."
The eleventh complaint, designed to impeach the orthodoxy of Antinomians is, that Dr. Hawker, and of necessity "those with whom his word is law," evidently considers the elect as the children of God before they are born of the Holy Spirit, and have faith in the Son of God." How marvelously profane must this be, but if they are not the children of God before they are born of the Holy Spirit, and have faith in the Son of God, then I suppose it is their being born of the Holy Spirit, with their having faith in the Son of God, that constitutes them children of God. In case Mr. Birt is the father of any children, I wonder whether their being born or brought forth by their mother, constituted them their father’s children, or whether they were not as much his children while entombed in their "mother’s bowels," (Psa. lxxi. 6) as when sitting at their father’s table, or obeying his commands; if not, what were they, prior to their birth? Were they without father and mother till they were born? Let modern Calvinists apply this incident in nature to the theological point under consideration, and then read Romans v. 10, "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life;" and Gal. iv. 6, "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father."
The TWELFTH Antinomian dotage, to which I must refer you, is this, "Sin can do a believer no harm." Now, to what uses and ends, unregenerate professors, or even mistaken Christians may have reduced the belief of such a sentiment, or what misconstructions ill disposed persons choose to put upon it, concerns me not. Truth is truth, whatever use it may be made of, by either enemies or stupid friends; and, therefore, it is to be defended as such. Now, that "sin can do a believer no harm," I know, believe, and fearlessly affirm. If those, who think otherwise, wish to know on what my knowledge, belief, and affirmation is founded, I readily answer the Scriptures and matters of fact. First, then, I found this belief on, and therefore will undertake to defend it from the Holy Scriptures. The apostle Paul teaches that "ALL things work together for good tot hem that love God." "Yes," say modern Calvinists, (Dr. Williams against Crisp) "But he speaks of sufferings for Christ, not of sins against him." To this, however, I object, being persuaded in my own mind, that the all things referred to by the apostle, includes sin as one. Yea, a principal ingredient in the whole. If otherwise, how is it that afflictions, stupidly called unsanctified afflictions, as if the believer was ever the subject of an affliction that did not fully answer the end for which JEHOVAH designed it: how is it, I say, if Paul only refers to afflictions in the all things, mentioned by him, that afflictions themselves work sin in a believer. Now then, if afflictions work, to the exciting and calling into action sin in a believer, and that all afflictions work for good, then the sin produced in a believer, by the working of his afflictions, must be for the good of a believer, and if for his good, then not for his hurt; for both, it cannot be. Afflictions wrought sin in Job. All afflictions work for good to them that love God. Job loved God; therefore, the sin produced in him, by the working of his afflictions, did him no harm: for all afflictions work for the producing of good to them that love God. The same might be said of Asaph, see Psa. lxxiii. His afflictions wrought sin in him. All believers’ afflictions work for their good. Asaph was a believer; all his afflictions wrought for his good, though they wrought sin in him, on which account sin did him no harm. Jeremiah was a believer; all the afflictions of Jeremiah wrought good for him, his afflictions wrought to the producing of sin: the whole produce of a believer’s afflictions are for his good. Sin was a part of the produce of the prophet’s afflictions, but that did Jeremiah no harm; if otherwise, all his afflictions did not work together for his good. Modern Calvinists will allow, that "God may, and can overrule the sin of a believer afterwards to his benefit." "This I affirm," says Dr. Williams. But the question is not whether God may or can, but whether he actually does, or does not, overrule the sin of believers for their good. Let it be proved, in one single instance, that God does not overrule his people’s sin for their benefit, and I will immediately refer you to an instance, wherein sin has done a believer real harm; but I affirm, that God does invariably overrule the sins of them that love him for their real good; insomuch that, though sin is in itself a curse, "Our God turns the curse into a blessing." Sin in believers, is a weapon, by which the Devil designs the real harm of those that love God, but what saith the Lord to his people, "NO weapon formed against thee shall prosper." The utmost design of the believer’s great enemy is, to rob him of either possessed or attainable good, for (Satan is no such Arminian as to suppose, for a minute, that he shall ever get a believer to hell) with a view to do the believer real harm; but, let us suppose for a moment, that he succeeded, we must also, with the supposition, conclude that the weapon formed against the believer, had prospered, and in that case God’s truth, as believers are taught to regard the word of God, becomes demonstrative falsehood. "I do not know," says Williams against Crisp, "where God hath promised, that sin shall do us good." Probably not, doctor, but your ignorance does not prove truth a fiction. Doctor Taylor, of Norwich, once said to Mr. Newton, "Sir, I have collated every word in the Hebrew Scriptures seventeen times, and it is very strange that the doctrine of the atonement you hold, should not be found by me. "I am not surprised at this," said Mr. N. "I once went to light my candle with the extinguisher on it. Now, prejudices from education, learning, &c. often form an extinguisher." But supposing, for accommodation sake, (which by the by is not true) that we accede to the assumption, that God has no where promised that sin shall do us good; would that disprove the fact contended for by Dr. Crisp, viz. "There is not one sin, nor all the sins together, of any believer, can possibly do that believer any real harm." To this however, modern Calvinists will reply, that "Sin in its nature hath no aptness to good." Nor had Balaam’s ass an aptness in its nature to speak to his master; nor had the rock an aptness by nature to bring forth a profusion of water; nor hath the fire any aptness by nature not to burn, neither is there an aptness in that which is polluted to bring forth that which is undefiled; nor is there an aptness in a woman to bring forth a child without ever knowing a man; and yet all these have been effected: then, why reason and "be so invective," as says Mr. Crisp, "against Dr. Crisp’s saying sin will not do a believer hurt, so as never to have done with fighting against so innocent an expression, if taken in a right sense: I think it were as proper to have battered that great gospel truth, that all things shall work together for good, to those who love God." It is the wisdom of the world which teaches divines to reason against revelation, by talking about the natural aptness of things; but it is the wisdom of God, which turns the wisdom of the world upside down. Where any thing is designed by God to bring forth its like, there it shall act agreeable to its nature, which is the case with sin in the reprobate part of the world; but, where a thing is designed by God to produce the opposite of its nature; there the aptness of nature becomes a cipher. So it is with sin in the elect, for whom God designed, from the beginning, it should produce a real good; in which case the raven is made to feed the prophet, and Balaam to bless the children of Israel; whereas, according to the native aptness of things, the raven would have picked out the prophet’s eyes, and the churl would have cursed the people of God. But, it is useless to argue with divines, who forsake revelation to reason about "the fitness of things and the aptness of nature," in particular, as I design discussing, at an early period, the subject of God’s willing sin, I shall conclude these remarks, therefore, with the great and precious promise, defying the flesh, sin, and the Devil to do their work, assuring them, that "ALL things work together for good to them that love God." "And if they drink any deadly poison, it shall not HURT them."
But supposing, Sir, that we were to resolve, with a view to the proffered advantages constantly held out by modern Calvinist authorities to any hyper-Calvinist, who will consent to abandon his former principles, and become "Mr. Giles’ Antinomian Reclaimed." I say, let us suppose, for a moment, that we were agreed to adopt a step which suggests certain eligibility to popular applause; to which, I would ask of the "practical" preachers or writers among modern Calvinists, must we turn, and at whose feet among them shall we humbly places ourselves, with a view to receive the LAW at their mouths in hopes of obtaining a system of theology, in which the middle would not be in direct opposition to the beginning and the end of it, in direct opposition to both; to all of them, we must not, we dare not, look, except we design the strictest conformity to the system in which we must make up our minds, "to hold with the hare and run with the hounds;" for so truly discordant are the statements taught by modern Calvinist preachers with each other, and often with themselves, that they are more calculate, yea they have actually done more to furnish infidels with weapons of triumph over Christianity, than to afford direction to those who are seeking Zion with their faces thitherward.
An infidel once said to me, "A Calvinistic preacher is like a man who would first bind together the four legs of his horse, so that it is morally impossible for him to move, and then falls to whipping him, because he does not go where he directs him." Nor could I disprove the fact, indeed it was by this kind of preaching that I was first convinced that modern Calvinism, as a system, was in direct opposition, not only to itself, but to the Bible. I well recollect hearing the preacher, who was the instrument of my conviction. One Lord’s day evening he preached from Jude’s Epistle, verse the first, from which he advocated the doctrines of eternal election, union to, and preservation in Christ, with the work of effectual calling by the Holy Ghost, and that, in such a manner as to involve the absolute impossibility of any others being saved. The next Lord’s day, however, I heard him again, when he preached from Rev. iii. 20, from which words, he as positively insisted, as could the most ignorant Arminian, that the will and desire of Christ to save sinners was suspended, on their compliance with his will; he said, moreover, that there were many in hell, at whose hearts Christ had stood and knocked for entrance. Referring us to John v 40, he explained the same sentiment by telling his hearers, "there is the sun, but if you shut your eyes, it will afford you no benefit. There is the sea, but unless you wash yourselves in it, you must remain filthy." This he carried to Christ, as the sun; and to his blood as the sea; whose properties were suspended in the point of usefulness, on the creatures having, or not having, recourse to them. These discourses so effectually wrought in my mind a conviction that the system of theology, so opposed to itself, could not be from the Bible, that I resolved from that hour to seek for myself, so that modern Calvinists have to thank themselves for my being an Antinomian; no youth being more wedded to the ministry of the former than I was, till I discovered the flagrancy of that ministerial inconsistency, which, like the foolish woman, demolished with one hand what she had built with the other.
Mr. Hinton says, "our statements should be consisted with each other, and with every sound principle, &c." and, had Mr. Hinton succeeded in his "ATTEMPT TOWARDS A CONSISTENT VIEW OF THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD," he should have been the modern Calvinist, at whose feet I would have set, and from whose system I should have sought "a form of sound words; in doctrine, showing uncorruptness;" instead of which, after the closest investigations of all Mr. H’s. attempts after consistency, I find that his system is, without exaggeration, confusion confused; he is at war with himself, and oftentimes, with all his reverend brethren. "The directions and the hopes derived from one part" of his system, are "cancelled by another, and the perplexities of our condition increased by the professed kindness of our guide." Referring to persons who object to the modern Calvinists’ favorite theme of demanding spiritual performances from natural men, Mr. Hinton says, "When we urge them to penitence, they reply, ‘YOU have told us we cannot repent.’ They know, probably, that there is no validity in the objection, but, as it is drawn from our own discourses, it avails to silence us." But, how can this be? I would ask, if the objections, by which modern Calvinist ministers are silenced, are not valid, is it possible that a vain objection should avail to silence the mouth which teaches the wisdom of God. Rather let Mr. Hinton, with all the advocates for duty-faith, (with its carnal kindred) which enjoins spiritual repentance on natural men, acknowledge the fallacy of their system, which furnishes matter from one part of it to the destruction of the other. "To be susceptible of the attractions of what is good," says Mr. Hinton, "is to be a good man;" from which we are taught that all men are capable of being good men, if they will; for first, he says, "God requires us not only to do good, and to choose good, but TO BE good." Then he informs us, that "every man is ABLE to do all that God requires of him, he is able, in that very same sense to take care of his eternal, as of his temporal interests; being no more, nor otherwise, unable to love God, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, than he is to exercise prudence, patience, or diligence." Peter says, "if any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God." But how far Mr. Hinton, in his "ATTEMPT TOWARDS A CONSISTENT VIEW OF THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD," has acted according to this divinely inspired rule, must be left to the judgment of his deluded disciples. But let them read first the following declaration, "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help." Hosea xiii. 9. The editors of the Baptist Magazine, in reviewing this "miserably unsuccessful attempt" after consistency, did venture to say, "certainly, we are sufficiently authorized to declare that both ought not to have proceeded from the same pen," and then have been bound up together, in a work, entitled "An Attempt towards a Consistent View of the Whole Counsel of God." Though, after this, they "cordially hail the work," because, forsooth, it is "a well directed blow, aimed at the root of so deadly a delusion" as is the Antinomian dogmas, &c. Now, Sir, I will refer you to a description of the nature, from whence all this ability to do good, to choose good, and TO BE good, is to be derived, and by which it is to be performed; of human depravity, this consistent divine says, "Every man enters this world, with a depraved nature; a fact, of which, if it be necessary, proof may be given hereafter, we see no possibility of questioning the corrupt state of our nature as such; which, therefore, as a necessary consequence, we also hold to be total and universal." This, Sir, is modern Calvinism, compared with itself, wherein we are taught to believe, that, from this totally and universally depraved nature of man, as a sinner, God requires, and the subject of it "is able to do good, to choose good, and TO BE good."
But, is this system of palpable contradictions peculiar to Mr. Hinton? Indeed, it is not; for, in fact, Mr. Hinton is not writing as a private, but as a public character; yea, as the representative, at least, of two thirds of the Baptist denomination; this, I am authorized to conclude from his being, to use his own words, so "warmly solicited to print" his work on "Completeness of Ministerial Qualifications;" and that, by the friends, both of the Stepney and Bradford Baptist Academies, at their respective anniversaries; which, to me, is a glaring proof that the sentiments contended for therein, must have inculcated such doctrines as the ministers, doctors, and supporters, of those institutions, wished their students to "learn."
And, though the editors of the Baptist Magazine pretend to dissent from the more palpable contradictions contained in Mr. Hinton’s theology, they have, and do, constantly recommend, in language of unqualified commendation, works equally Arminian. For proof of this, Sir, you have only to read their review of "Pollock’s Course of Time," a book, on which they have passed the highest encomiums of praise, as consisting of the highest style of poetry, united with the purest sentiments of religion. Nor, is the latter made subservient to the former; it assumes, in these pages, its legitimate, its only appropriate situation of supreme place and influence. It appears as a pillar of truth, on which the poet has hung the beauteous ornaments and fragrant roses of poetry.
Now, Sir, being enthusiastically enslaved, as a reader, to the beauties of poetry, and earnestly desirous of meeting the bard, whose talents were consecrated to the shrine of TRUTH, I readily seized the anticipated privilege of perusing "the most needful truths of the gospel, enforced by one, whom we," said the editors, "may not inaptly call a poetic preacher;" but how was I disappointed, not to say mortified, when for "the most needful truths of the gospel," I found first on the doctrine of redemption, in answer to the belief that "all were redeemed," the following "TRUTHS OF THE GOSPEL;"—
"Not all, or thou hadst heart
No human voice in hell, many refused,
Although beseeched, REFUSED TO BE REDEEMED,
Redeemed from death to life, from woe to bliss."
The second "most touching, most animating most TRUE," religious sentiment, blazoned by Mr. Pollock, and canonized by these evangelical editors, is on salvation.
"Free was the offer, free to all of life,
And of salvation; but the proud of heart
Because ‘twas free, would not accept, &c.
They scorned the goodly bark, whose wings, the breath
Of God’s eternal spirit filled for heaven,
That STOPPED to take them in; and so were lost."
These, sir, are Mr. Pollock’s "purest sentiments of religion, the most needful truths of the gospel," in which the DEAD
"Although beseeched refused to be redeemed,
Redeemed from DEATH to life."
With what propriety might Mr. Hinton assert, on behalf of himself and his friends, by whom he was so warmly solicited to print his "Nature’s Divinity," including the reviewers of Pollock’s "Course of Time," that "it must be obvious to a discerning reader, that WE are not HIGH CALVINISTS, we own no sympathy wit ht eh notion, that the church existed in Christ from all eternity, was elected in that state of original purity, was deposited in Adam, and fell in him, retaining, through all the iniquities of the individuals who compose it, the complacency of eternal love; nor with the idea that the whole work of redemption is founded upon the exercise of electing grace." This being the case, it will be our wisdom, and greatly to our advantage, to hold fast the things which we have been taught as modern Antinomians, the latter system being as much superior to the former as an unconditional covenant of free grace blessings surpasses a covenant founded on terms and conditions to be fulfilled by creatures, incapable of thinking a good thought. Nor is this the only reason to be assigned for my objecting to become an "Antinomian reclaimed." Let us consult, for a minute, the character of religion amongst the churches, adhering to these say and unsay sentiments; and, though we shall see the profession of religion extending on the right hand and on the left by their means, we shall find ourselves most sadly disappointed, if we expect to find anything like spirituality of conversation, in either ministers or people, and as for fellowship among them, it has no reference to either Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, or to those things which are freely given the church in Christ, the whole of their intercourse amongst each other begins, centres and ends in the creature. What benefit has resulted from the hue and cry, made during the past year, about "revivals, revivals!!"
"Of revivals they would tell
While their sermons they could sell,
But since then we’ve never heard
Of revivals scarce a word."
Nor are the contradictions characteristic of Modern Calvinist writings on the subject of Antinomian character less inconsistent, and therefore, less objectionable than are their opinions of Antinomian doctrines. "If we were to judge of the test given us of Christ himself, ‘By their fruits ye shall know them,’ we should suppose these persons (Antinomians) were led by some other spirit, rather than that of God." This is the judgment passed upon modern Antinomians, by the editors of the N.B. Magazine, from which their leaders are taught to believe, that modern Antinomians are led by the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience, there being only two spirits to which human spirits are in subjection, the spirit of God, and the spirit of Satan; this is too plain to admit of contradiction; so much therefore for the spirit of the pious editors. How strikingly has the poet described the spirit of modern Calvinism in the following lines on bigotry.
Begot, her daughter, persecution walked
The earth, from age to age, and drank the blood
Of saints, with horrid relish drank the blood
Of God’s peculiar children, and was drunk,
And in her drunkenness dreamed of doing good."
But pray who are these sorry Antinomians, be they who they may, these very same editors have told the world, that since the death of William Huntingdon, Dr. Hawker has been the leader of this "unhallowed confederacy," from this we may infer, that in him were to be found the first fruits of the spirit, by which Antinomians are led. "Pure religion, says the Bible, and undefiled before God and the Father, is this, to visit the fatherless and the widows in affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." Now, then, what were the fruits of Antinomianism, as developed in the life and practice of Antinomians’ prime leader, Dr. Hawker, our enemies, themselves being judges, shall answer. "His private character was amiable; none can deny him the praise of warm and active benevolence. The poor, the sick, the aged, and the young alike attracted his notice, his heart could feel for their wants and distresses, and to relieve them his purse was open, and his influence indefatigably exerted; He manifested also much solicitude for the spiritual welfare of others." So were the editors of the Baptist Magazine compelled to testify in their report of the doctor’s death, in atonement, as I suppose, for their deportment toward his religious sentiments while he was livings, so that it may be said of this Antinomian apostle, as it was said of Luther, "The life of the man is extolled even by those who cannot bear his doctrines." But I suppose these Antinomian writers concluded, that the youth among modern Antinomians were such moon-eyed dolts as to be incapable of deciding either for or against the goodness of the Antinomian cause, although the witnesses employed to bring down the Antinomian from this orthodox excellency were as much opposed to each other as were the purchased murderers of the Antinomian’s LORD, but such is not the case, nor are we to be moved from our steadfastness, by the assumed distinction, made by some modern Calvinists, between what they call doctrinal Antinomians and practical Antinomians; we believe that the religious sentiments of a man’s heart, be they vile or godly, will be to his head, his hands, his feet, and all his voluntary movements, what the works of a watch are to the hands, one will be regulated by the other. [Lest any modern Calvinists should carp at the word "voluntary", it will be as well to tell such, that the Antinomians do not believe in free will, nor did the apostle Paul, who said he did things he hated and could not do the things he had a desire to do.] "I know that error in principle will be productive of error in practice; and will be attended with as awfully fatal consequences" [So said Mr. Tucker, on which principle how "awfully fatal" must have been the "consequences" accruing from the repeatedly erroneous principles, held and taught by the late Dr. Hawker, as "the prime leader of the unhallowed confederacy" of the "SECT EVERY WEHRE SPOKEN AGAINST" as ANTINOMIANS.]; so that it is a more religious farce, in which Mr. JOHN STEVENS and others, with their characteristic bombast, have indulged themselves, at the expense of literal truth, when they have undertaken to excuse themselves for railing at Dr. Hawker and other Antinomians, by saying, "it never was our intention to fix on him the stigma of practical Antinomian." Would it not be of essential service to their readers, if Mr. John Stevens would inform his readers, whether his is a practical or only doctrinal Pre-existarian, and might not the editors of the New Baptist Magazine, with equal propriety, inform their readers, whether they are practical or only doctrinal Sandemanians, in conformity to whose example the editors of the Baptist Magazine would let us know whether they are practical or only doctrinal Fullerites, when no doubt the editors of the Evangelical Magazine will announce to the world whether they are practical or only doctrinal Baxterians; on the subject of distinction between doctrinal and practical Antinomians, all modern Calvinists are not agreed, it is the opinion of Mr. Hinton, as it is of Antinomians, that "Truth was intended to exercise a practical influence; and the sentiments we entertain, whether true or false, really do so." What stuff it is, then, for Dr. Williams, after attempting to render Dr. Crisp obnoxious to public scorn, by representing him as the most incorrigible teacher and defender of doctrines, including the grossest Antinomianism, insomuch, that when Dr. Crisp’s works were republished, some of Dr. Williams’s reverend brethren raved most vehemently, exclaiming, "What, hang out a sign to show were Jezebel dewells" and yet, after all, this "Jezebel Antinomians" is acknowledged by Dr. Williams to be a "holy man," which did Dr. Williams, (considering unholy doctrines which he affirmed Dr. Crisp taught) as much credit, as if he had said, "I believe that wicked woman Jezebel to be a holy woman." It is said of Augustine, that "it was Pelagianism which made him understand what he did of predestination"; and I may say, that it is modern Calvinism that has made me understand what I do of modern Antinomianism, for I had never read the writings of Dr. Crisp, Huntingdon, and Hawker, as I have, had it not been for the bellowings of those mock Christians, whose say and unsay testimonies led me to suspect that they were the persons "desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm"; and in this I was the more confirmed, when, by examining and comparing the two systems with the Holy Scriptures, I found that the controversy was no new thing, but the very same with that which occupied the attention of the apostle Paul, when he wrote against those, who having begun in the spirit were seeking to be perfected by the works of the law.
Indeed, Onesimus, it was not my intention to have detained your attention so long on the subject under consideration, but even now I have not gone into it to the extent that I could have desired; allow me, however, to assure you, that such is the increased conviction in my mind, of the orthodoxy of the sentiments, that I have been defending, yea, such is the felicity which my own soul now enjoys from the belief of the doctrines called Antinomian, that were I called upon this moment to leave my dear family and friends to appear before God, to give a reason for my so believing, and so writing, I should call upon my soul and all that is within me to bless the Lord’s holy name, for an honor so great conferred on a wretch so vile; well I thank my God, that the time, at longest, is not far distant, when I shall be called to the full enjoyment of that gospel truth which it is now my mercy, my honor, and my ambition to define and defend, as a MODERN ANTINOMIAN, and as to you Onesiums, and to every Christian brother and sister with whom I have the honor of communing, I would say, in the language of that able and blessed divine Dr. Hawker, "No longer shrink from the charge of Antinomianism. To be an Antinomian, upon true gospel principles is a badge of peculiar honor in the PRESENT AWFUL DAY OF REBUKE AND BLASPHEMY."
I subscribe myself
Your obedient Servant,
Judge now, ye wise, from Great Jehovah’s word,
(The only rule and test of "what is truth")
And say, are Antinomians right or wrong?
Was Christ the Lord, while here upon the earth,
A modern Calvinist? Was Paul an advocate
For creature holiness, and such stuff?
Were early saints such lovers of that law
Which slew their Lord by its inflexibility?
Methinks, indeed, were Paul, and his colleagues
On earth again; to share the din of war,
They’d wield the two-edged sword, with double force,
Against such impious preaching of their Lord.
They’d tell them too, as they have done before,
That sin, though vile, and woeful to the saint,
Can never, never prove his final harm:
Because his Lord, who manages his foes,
Makes that to serve him most, which most he hates."