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An Antidote against a spreading Antinomian Principle. By the late Rev. John Brine. Palmer.
This is a most acceptable and needful reprint of a valuable treatise by the renowned John Brine. The Author's design can be expressed in no better terms than his own, with which the subject is commenced:—
"All, who acknowledge that man is a lapsed creature, confess, that it is not possible to obtain life, if a sinless and unerring obedience to the will of our Maker, is required of us to that end. But it is the opinion of many, that men are to acquire a right to life and happiness, by yielding obedience to a law less rigorous in its commands, than the law of innocency is, viz. the gospel. That is not, in the apprehension of multitudes, a gracious discovery of a right to impunity, and a title to life, by the blood and righteousness of Christ; but is only a proposal of lower terms of life, by a compliance with which we are to obtain for ourselves a right to both: and these terms are faith, repentance, and sincere obedience. Thi3 i3 the opinion of the Socinians. This is also the persuasion of the Arminians. And the Baxteriang assert the same. It is not the inseparable connection of faith and salvation which they intend, but they maintain that it is a proper condition of pardon and salvation; or, that faith, with its fruits, is the matter of our justifying righteousness before God, according to the gospel; and that is it, from which our right to eternal blessedness results; that, as Adam's right to a continual enjoyment of happiness would have arisen from his obedience to the old law, so our right to life arises from our obedience to this new, and (as it is called) remedial law."
He proceeds to consider a variety of arguments for and against the opinion here clearly stated; among those of the latter class are the following :—I. If the gospel is a law by which men are justified or condemned, it is very far from requiring a perfect obedience in order to acceptance. II. God cannot be the author of an imperfect law. III. Men are not meet subjects of a law in order to acceptance by the observation of it. IV. God is the author of all that is good and pleasing to him in men; and therefore the gospel cannot be a law. V. The gospel cannot be a law, because that would enervate the satisfaction of Christ, &c. &c.
Whatever impression the title may have made on the reader, previously unacquainted with the nature of the treatise, we have already proceeded with our analysis far enough to give a correct outline of his groundwork and object, and scarcely need observe that it is intended to expose the Baxterian error, which has so grievously abounded since the days of the eminent writer under consideration. While we are here presented with so excellent an opportunity of condensing our views on that point, we should be inexcusable in enlarging; and, probably, it will be required of us to go fully into the question very soon.
We give the following as a mere rough draft of the incomparable description by our excellent Author.
"The unregenerate mind is enmity against God; and it is impossible to cause it to love God, and become subject to his law. Every regenerate person hath within himself sad and full evidence of the truth of this. That which constantly lusteth against the Spirit, by reason of the contrariety of its nature, by no influence whatever can be brought to act as the Spirit does, even in spiritual persons, much less is this possible in minds wholly carnal. Until, therefore, it is proved, that grace as a principle, is not necessarily pre-requisite to gracious, spiritual acts, which yet has not been done, (and I am bold to say never will be) it must be concluded, that men are not meet subjects of a law, requiring faith, repentance, and holy obedience, as conditions of justification and everlasting salvation. If this is the fact, nothing Is more certain than their eternal ruin. The reason is, no helps and influences, which do not communicate a gracious principle, will ever be effectual to the production of spiritual acts in men, whether elect or non-elect; and, consequently, the salvation of no man is possible according to this scheme. Baxtenans, indeed, assert the certainty of the salvation of the elect; but, as they allow not of the infusion of gracious habits, they leave even the elect in a state of certain damnation. Men may talk, while they please, about grace sufficient as afforded to all, and of grace effectual being given to some; but, if grace doth not really produce a new principle of action, it is sufficient for no man, nor will ever be effectual m any man. They who are in the flesh, that is, in an unregenerate state, cannot please God. No assistance can enable them so to do. Nor can the natural man be enabled to know the things of the Spirit of God. He may by divine grace be made a spiritual man; but no influence upon him, while he is a natural man, will render him capable of understanding spiritual things. A man that is blind may have a visive power given him; but he cannot be made to see without such a power. And a man who is dead may be inspired with a principle of life; but it is impossible by any operation upon him to cause him to act while he is dead. Omnipotence can give being to intelligence where it is not; but infinite power cannot produce reasonable acts, withont a rational nature, for that implies a contradiction. And God can, and of his sovereign mercy doth, produce a principle of love in minds which are enmity against him; but he cannot cause enmity to love him and delight in his law."
"Once more I ask, is it to the glory of God and the honour of Christ, to leave our salvation to rest on conditions impossible to be fulfilled? I suppose all will conclude it is not, and that supposition of it is most absurd. But some will say, why is this strange enquiry made? What foundation is there for it? I answer, however surprising and causeless this question may seem to many, there is sufficient ground for my putting it. For it is supposed, first, that the salvation of all depends on the performance of certain conditions, viz. faith, repentance, and persevering obedience. Farther, it is supposed that God does not give the grace of faith, &c. to any man; but only affords to men some help, whereby they may acquire it, which it is impossible for any man to do; because, without a principle of life and action, which gracious habits are to the soul of a poor sinner, no acts of faith, hope, and love, can possibly be produced in him. This must be granted, until it i3 proved that men are not dead in sin; which yet has not been proved, nor ever will be.
"Upon the whole, this conditional scheme is not calculated to bring glory to God, as it is far from securing salvation to men. On the contrary, an unconditional scheme of salvation enhances the glory of Father, Son, and Spirit. The grace of the Father illustriously shines in the free and sovereign election of men to eternal salvation. The compassion of the Son is incomparably displayed in the redemption of their persons by the invaluable price of his own blood. And the kindness of the Spirit, with amazing lustre, discovers itself in the regeneration, conversion, sanctification, and preservation of men. Farther, all the divine perfections in their full glory shine forth with an amazing and delightful refulgency in that scheme. Infinite wisdom hath eternal honours accruing to it, which contrived the happy method, so becoming God and so secure for men. Justice sparkles in its brightest rays, in our remission through the sacrifice of Christ. The riches of divine grace are opened to the transporting view of angels and men, in the gift of Christ to us and for us, in the donation of the Holy Spirit, and in the bestowment of grace upon us here, and of eternal glory hereafter. This pleasing view fills the minds of the saints with holy wonder, joy, and adoration now; and the clearer prospects thereof, in heaven, will eternally fill them with raptures unknown to us at present."
The Saints' Emancipation ; or, Believers exonerated from the Charge of Antinomianism: being a reply toE. G.'s Censures and Strictures on Christian Conduct, recently set forth in the Spiritual Magazine, for March, 1827. By Scrutator.
It is with considerable pleasure, in bringing out of obscurity this "Reply" and its anonymous writer, that we have an opportunity of appearing before our readers in defence of a long-tried and well known correspondent, whose communications to the Spiritual Magazine have without exception been approved by ourselves, and admired by all in connexion with this work for whose opinions we have any respect. But it will not suffice to inform those who may not read the pamphlet, that it consists of a mean and inefficient attempt to establish ' the great argument,' of which its unhappy author childishly prates, we therefore, in few words, come to the proof.
E. G.'s piece, " On the connexion of the doctrines with the precepts of the gospel," inserted p. 295, 9—vol. 3. contained many seasonable and scriptural reproofs of certain characters who, as some did in the apostle's days, preach the doctrines of the gospel, but neglect and despise its holy precepts,—who profess to be in the liberty of the gospel, and are not loosed from the bonds of their own corruptions. This writer's 'great argument' goes to prove that there are no .such characters now infesting the church. From our hearts we exclaim, would to God there were not! We are not so foolish as to gratify our anonymous opponent's wishes, by exposing such persons by name; but again and again we warn him and our readers of " wolves in sheep's clothing." "Try the spirits," says an apostle: and try the characters, say we, of all who assume the name of ministers of the gospel;—and let every man be persuaded in his own mind.
"In reading the account given us by E. G." says this sagacious penman, " one would be led to think that the characters held up to view, to ignominy and contempt, were of the most abandoned, profligate, and flagitious of all men." We beg to adopt the terms he has supplied, as suited to the characters exposed, though they exceed in force any we have yet used. And wherefore do we this? Because in proportion to the high station they place themselvs in, is the extent of the evil and the deplorable consequences of the example they set before their ignorant devotees. Nor has our observation been confined to the notoriously profligate, nor to those whose error, some say, is more of a negative than positive character; but we also mark with unceasing grief the conduct of those societies, of which we would hope well, whose entire neglect of gospel ordinances expose them to the just animadversions of their professed brethren and an ungodly world!
After all his strong arguments, we perceive this writer contending with a shadow, a mere ignus fatuus; for all his reasoning powers are engaged in proving that a true believer cannot subject himself to those accusations. How far a true believer may be suffered to lie under satanic influence, and prove himself worthy of such reproof, we pretend not to judge; yet we dare not assert, that they of whom we speak, are not vitally interested in the privileges they abuse! To be faithful to Scrutator—whoever he may be—we know not how it is possible that one pretending to be a judge in his brother's cause, and having though but a partial knowledge of the state of the church and of the world, should be uninformed of the circumstances alluded to, and which we have so often deplored!
To any who may be disposed by this notice to turn over our pages, for the re-perusal of E. G.'s communication, we advise that they first read the "Reply;" for in the former, we assure them they will meet with an answer to every objection urged in the latter. In fact, they will find the great " Goliah slain by his own Sword!"
The Life of the Rev William Romaine, M. A. late Rector of the United Parishes of St. Andrew by the\Wardrobe, and St. Ann's, Blachfriars; and Lecturer of St. Dunslan's in the West. By the Hon. and Rev. W. B. Cadogas. Palmer.
The Life of the Rev. William Romaine, can require no recommendation of our's, to those friends who may not be furnished with so great a treasure. We think it only necessary to state, that it is now re-published in a cheap form, and ought to be in the possession of all who revere his memory and admire his writings. The poor, who know the value of those detached pieces which may have come into their hands, have an opportunity of providing themselves with the above at a very moderate price.
Died, on Lord's Day Morning, September 9, 1827, Mr. WILLIAM CULVER, in the 83rd year of his age; who, for nearly thirty years preached the gospel of Christ with signal success in Enon Chapel, High Street, Woolwich: "A man of God and a man of truth j" who, by the integrity of his principles, the simplicity of his manners, the affection of his disposition, and the spirituality of his conversation, lived and died in the affection and esteem of all who knew him and the grace of God in truth.
On the following Lord's Day Afternoon, his sleeping ashes were conveyed to the " house appointed for all living," in the presence of an affected assembly. And in the Evening, Mr. W. B. Bowes, Mr. C.'s successor, preached the funeral sermon to a very attentive but crowded auditory.
ORDINATION.—The Rev. Jesse Hopwood was publicly ordained over the Independent Church assembling in Union Chapel, Sloane Street, Chelsea, on Wednesday, the 1st of August, 1827. The following Ministers took part in the services on the solemn and interesting ioccasion:—the Rev. W. Hopwood, the Rev. Joseph Irons, the Rev. W. Oates, the Rev. G. Comb, the Rev. J. Bunce, the Rev. E. Whitley, and the Rev. R. Luckin.
The statement of the Lord's providential leadings made by Mr. Hopwood, as well as his christian experience, belief of the truth, and call to the ministry, were highly interesting, and deeply affecting to the very large and attentive congregation, many of whom have since expressed their full conviction that the Lord's presence was extensively enjoyed throughout the sacred exercises, which lasted about four hours.
There is good reason to anticipate future prosperity in this part of the Lord's vineyard, from the signal honour which has already been conferred on the labours of this faithful young servant of the Lord Jesus, by which the whole church of God is encouraged to pray the Lord of the harvest to thrust out more faithful labourers into his vineyard.
SALVATION ALL OF THE LORD.
With terms and conditions I've nothing to do,
My Saviour's salvation is free;
There can be no merit in me.
But shall I hence-forward continue in sin?
Thy wounds, dear Immanuel! forbid!
The evils which caused Thee to bleed.
Not working for life, but from life I've received,
And thus make it manifest I have obtained,
Since unsought, and unasked, and unmerited too,
This treasure was given to me,
Because his salvation is free.
But whilst I maintain the grand doctrines of grace,
I its precepts a3 highly approve;
It cannot be said that I love.