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A VINDICATION OF Divers important Gospel-Doctrines, AND OF The Teachers and Professors of them: AGAINST The injurious Reflections & Misrepresentations CONTAINED In a late printed Discourse of the Rev. Mr. LEMUEL BRIANT's, Intitled, The Absurdity and Blasphemy of depreciating Moral Vertue.

Also a few Remarks are subjoined, on Mr. JOHN BASS'S late Narrative.

Published as his dying Testimony to the Cause of CHRIST, in the Protes­tant Churches, and particularly in New-England.

By SAMUEL NILES, Pastor of a Church in Braintree.

O formose Puer, nimiùm nè crede Colori. Virg.
Quid Romae faciam? Mentiri nescio.—Juven.
2 Pet. 1. 15, 16.

I will endeavour, that ye may be able after my Decease to have these Things always in Remembrance: For we have not followed cunningly devised Fables, when we made known unto you the Power and Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Chap. 3. 15, 16.—

Even as our beloved Brother Paul also, according to the Wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you: As also in all his Epistles, speaking in them of these Things, in which are some Things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own Destruction.

BOSTON: Printed and Sold by S. KNEELAND, opposite the Prison in Queen-Street. 1752.

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THE PREFACE

THE Remarks contained in the following Pages were, for the Sum and Scope of them, drawn up soon after the Discourse, to which they refer, was published, with an Intent then quickly to offer them to publick View. In doing of which, I had no Design to enter into a personal Contest with the Au­thor, or any others that may be Like-minded with him: but only to contend for the Faith, delivered to the Saints, in the Days of the Apostles, and primitive Times of Chris­tianity; which also has been handed down to the Churches of the Saints in New-England, by those eminent Worthies, that were Instruments in the Hand of Christ to spread the Knowledge of those important Doctrines revealed and strongly recommended in the Gospel, which have been ge­nerally received and professed, not in this Land only, but in all the Churches of the Reformation. However, my De­pendance is not upon human Tradition or Antiquity, with Respect to these Doctrines, that are now by some so much decryed and condemn'd, yea, even ridicul'd: But on the pure and unerring Word of GOD; as firmly believing them to be therein discovered, ratify'd and confirmed by Inspi­ration of the Holy Ghost.—My main Design in the Re­marks before us, is, by divine Assistance, (according to my Measure) to vindicate those Doctrines of our holy Religi­on, so misrepresented and treated with so much Contempt in the Discourse under our Examination; and to remove the groundless and injurious Reflections cast on the whole Body of excellent Protestant Expositors, Ministers, and Pro­fess [...]rs, in general, of the last and former Age; and also, if possible, to put a Stop to the prevailing Contagion of Ar­minian [Page 2] Errors and other loose Opinions among us, which threaten to banish vital Piety out of the Land.—Some worthy Gentlemen in the Ministry among us entering into the Controversy, and engaging (as I apprehend) on the Side of Truth, this occasioned my delaying to publish my Remarks; hoping, what was published by them, might lead our Opponent into a laudable Retracta [...]ion. But my Hopes in that Case soon vanished, upon his publishing a (pretended) Vindication of his Sentiments, not so much by fair Scripture-Argument (which, I suppose, he found im­possible) as by Banter, and by personal Reflection and In­vective, which doubtless he readily concluded to be much the easiest Method, and perhaps most agreeing to his Genius and Capacity.

The Time of this Delay gave me Opportunity to review what I had wrote, & to exhibit the same to the Publick with considerable Enlargement on several Heads of Remark; by which Means, this Work is much lengthier than I at first purposed: Yet I hope, it may not be the less useful, to such as have not fallen into the dangerous Scheme I am op­posing, and perhaps may minister some Caution to such as are in Danger to be led away by those Self-pleasing Notions, so industriously propagated in this Day of Degeneracy. The Prevalence of sundry pernicious Errors, tending to the Subversion of our holy Religion, is for a Lamentation, and shall be for a Lamentation, unto all the true Lovers of Zion, and Friends to the Churches of Christ in New-Eng­land. Truly sorrowful is the State of some of our Churches, who have Ministers set over them, that contest, and even deny, yea, I may say, deride some of the grand Articles of our holy Profession, as they are exhibited in the Assembly's Catechism (commonly so called) tho' the Doctrines con­tested are so plainly according to Scripture. Therefore it is, that some (we hope, not many) who have taken on them the pastoral Charge, do neglect the Lambs of those Flocks under their Care, by declining to instruct them in the private Way, by Catechising; and this in Places where the former Ministers were wont to make Conscience of at­tending this Work, as a Part of their ministerial Duty.[Page 3] This Practice has obtained not only here in New-England, but in all the reformed Churches abroad. Unto this lauda­ble, and necessary Practice (as I think it to be) I can give some Evidence. When I resided in this Town of Braintree at first, and was at School here, it was the known constant Method of the Rev. Mr. FISK, the then worthy Minister here, to appoint certain Times for the instructing the Children and Youth in the Catechism; the Benefit whereof I enjoy'd together with others.—And this religious and commendable Service was keptup by those worthy Ministers that succeeded him, the Rev. Mr. MARSH and Mr. HAN­cock. But now, I am informed, it is wholly laid aside; which must lie as a Reproach both upon Minister, and People, where it is indulged; as well as must be a dreadful Injury to the Souls of the poor Children, so shamefully and barbarously neglected.—Some Reasons of my Judg­ment I shall presently offer.—Another Instance or two I will mention of the like tender Care & Fidelity of godly Ministers, to the Souls of the Children and young People under their [...] Charge. When I was under the Tuition of the [...]ev. Mr. HOBART of Newtown, whose Memory and Character will ever be dear to me, which was when I was more capable of observing & making a Judg­ment on the Conduct of Ministers, in this Point of Catechising; his Method was to appoint a Time for the Children to attend this Service;&also for the young People, Males &Females, grown to Men's and Women's Estate. These, in their several Turns, all attended Catechising. Moreover, he was wont to explain and apply the Doctrines and Duties, held forth in the Catechism, at the same Time.—Another Instance of constant and indefatigable Care and Pains in Catechising, was my deservedly much honoured Father-in-Law, the Rev. Mr. THACHER of Milton; whose Example in this and all other Acts of Piety and Faithfulness, towards not only his own People, but the Indian Tribe, both young and old, at Punkapaug, and Packenee, as they were then called, now Stoug [...]ton,—I say, his Example, with that of the other venerable Fathers & memorable Brethren above mentioned, and the rest of Christ's Ministers among us, [Page 4] in general, is certainly worth the Notice & Imitation of their Successors, and of all that sustain the ministerial Character.—Nor wou'd I omit mentioning on this Occasion, the great Service done the World, by that excellent Minister of Jesus Christ, the Rev. Mr. WILLARD, in his elaborate Exposition on the Catechism: wherein all its Instructions are confirmed by Scripture-Proofs, and with nervous Ar­guments, sufficient for the Conviction of all Gainsayers.

But now, as my Sentiments in the Case I am upon, are not built on Tradition, or the Authority of our Fathers, I shall offer some of the Reasons of my Opinion. I ap­prehend it very obvious, what evil Consequences will neces­sarily follow the Omission of instructing Children, in the Ca­techism. It is well known, that Catechising has been of long and singular Use among us: the Advantages thereof Mul­titudes are ready from their own Experience to witness to. As it has ever been esteem'd by the Ministers in these Churches, a Part of their ministerial Work to Catechise the Children of their Congregations, as well as to instruct el­der Persons by publickly preaching the Word of God, they have grounded their Judgment partly on that solemn Charge our Saviour laid upon Peter as a leading Minister, and for a Test of his Love to Christ, (Joh. 21. 15 [...]) Feed my Lambs. These are a Part of the Flock: and it is to be noted, here the Lambs are set before the Sheep; which might be designed to shew the tender Care Christ had par­ticularly of Children and young People, who, to answer the Metaphor, must be principally intended by the Lambs of the Flock. Agreable to this is that Charge given to Mi­nisters, and usually laid on them at their Ordination, Feed the Flock of God which is among you; the young, as well as old, under your pastoral Care. See 1 Pet. 5. 2. Or as it is express't, Act. 20. 28. Take [...]eed unto your selves, and to all the Flock; of which the Children are a great, growing Part, and a hopeful Part, when well instructed in the Prin­ciples of Religion, by Catechising.—We may also see (to the Shame of such as habitually neglect this important Part of their Duty) how emphatically Christ, the Head-Shep­herd o [...] his Flock, both Sheep and Lambs, has answered [Page 5] his Character and Trust, and left an Example to all his Ministers or Under-Shepherds, in fulfilling so exactly in his personal Ministry on Earth, and leaving the same in Charge to his Ministers, what was predicted of old by the Prophet concerning him, Isai. 40. 11. He shall food [...]his Flock, like a Shepherd: He shall gather the Lambs with his Arm, and carry them in his Bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Ministers, Parents, or Tutors neglecting this Branch of their Duty is an inexpressible Injury to the Souls of the Youth thus neglected. That the Soul be without Knowledge, it is not good. And what better Expedient can be found, to promote the good Knowledge of God, in the Minds of young Ones, than the Means I am pleading for? How otherwise can the Lambs be said to feed after their Manner? (Isai. 5. 17.) Or, the Kids be said in a Scripture-Sense to feed beside the Shepherds Tents? (Cant. 1. 8.) Or can any sup­pose, that the Knowledge Timothy had of the Holy Scriptures, consisted only in a meer literal Knowledge, by the bare reading of them? and not rather, that he had been well in­structed from his Childhood, in the Contents of the Bible, especially the great Truths contained in the Holy Scriptures; and that those Doctrines were received by him and rested on by Faith? Otherwise they cou'd not have had such an happy Effect on him, as to make him wise unto Salvation. The Knowledge Timothy had in the holy Scriptures, we may justly conclude, was through the pious Care of his Parents, his Grand-mother Lois, and his Mother Eunice (2 Epi [...]t. 1. 5.) who are set as Examples, of carefully in­structing Children in Religion.

Moreover, an Omission of this Duty towards Children, will necessarily and by inevitable Consequence, not only be a Means to rase the Foundations of Zion, but tend to banish true Religion, and bring in Heathenism like a mighty Flood upon a People. For, it is beyond all Contradiction, I suppose, generally speaking, that many Parents, and such as are charged with the Education of Children, are too r [...]m [...]s [...] and negligent in teaching them the Knowledge of [...] the Scripture, and promoting them in learning their [Page 6] Catechism, for their early Acquaintance with the Things of God and the Religion of Jesus: And what a wonderful gratifying Indulgence must it be to such Parents and others, when their Minister tells them (practically at least, if not verbally) that the Catechism is corrupt, containing false Points of Doctrine (as some in this evil Day pretend) and that he dare not teach the Children what [...]e himself does not believe: Or else excuses himself from Catechising them, by a more plausible Pretence, That it is no Part of a Minister's Work!—These and such like Evasions in Mi­nisters, bear a near Resemblance with Jerob [...]am's carnal Policy to secure his Authority over the People; of whom it is said—Who sinned & made Israel to sin.—Such Ministers are in danger of the like Character with his, who is also said to [...]ive Israel to Sin, and from following the Lord. (2 Kin. 17. 21.) He perswades them, that it was too far for them to go up to Jerusalem, to worship after the Manner which God had appointed: therefore sets up Golden Calves, under a corrupt Pretence, that these were the Gods that brought them out of the Land of Egypt; and so drew the Body of that People into Idolatry, which probably he learnt in Egypt, when he fled thither for fear of Solomon. And this their Idolatry continued until God sent them into Captivity, for their Apostacy, in casting off and forsaking the true Wor­ship he had appointed, and setting up a Religion of their own [...]—The Example of Abraham, and the high Encomium God gives of him and his Conduct, respecting the Case I am upon, is worthy the Imitation of Parents, Ministers, and all others, to whom the Education of Children or In­struction of Youth is committed. See Gen. 18. 19. I know him, that he will command his Children and his Houshold after him, and they shall keep the Way of the Lord. Parents should train up their Children in the Way of Truth, if they wou'd not have them depart from it when they are old. (Prov [...] 22. 6.) They should labour to bring them up in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord. (Eph. 6. 4.) But how can Parents do thus, if by the Instigation of their Minister, by his Example, or by any other Means, they are led to neglect teaching their Children the very first Principles of [Page 7] the Oracles of God? Which are in an excellent Order and a clear compendious Manner exhibited in the Catechism, that has been mostly in Use among us, and highest in Esteem with the generality of Churches in New-England. Alas, what we read in Lam. 4. 3, 4. I think is applicable in the Case before us; Even the Sea-Monsters draw out the Breast, they give suck to their young Ones: the Daugh­ter of my People is become cruel, like the Ostriches in the Wil­derness.—The young Children ask Bread, and no Man break­eth it unto them.—This seems to be the lamentable Case with poor Children, when the Catechism is thrown out of its wonted commendable and necessary Improvement for Soul-advantage to Children. And what can be ex­pected to follow, but Vice, Ignorance & Atheism?—Thus Parents entail their Sin on their miserable Offspring: and give them Example, to do [...] to their Children. (Ezek. 16. 44.)

Before I dismiss this Point, I shall make one brief Ob­servation upon it, which I suppose few will deny to be just:—Had this Neglect of Catechising the Children been proved upon any Minister in these Churches, though under any Pretences whatsoever, before our venerable Fa­thers in the Ministry of the last Age, or their Predecessors, in New-England, when convened in Council, they would have thought it necessary immediately to dismiss such Mi­nister from his Pastoral Office: And supposing the Church he was set over, should refuse to concur with their Deter­minations in this Case, I believe, then such a Church wou'd be deem'd unworthy of Communion with the other Church­es, as having in Effect denied the Faith, and made them­selves accessary to the promoting of such Ignorance& Error, as I think to be inconsistent with and destructive of that vital Religion, for which our Ancestors were famous, and this People were once greatly renown'd. Certainly such an Omission must be judged by all sober and well Princi­pled Persons, not only irreligious in Ministers, &Parents, but even inhuman and barbarous, to the Souls of their Children! Who can account for it! How can it be excused! I truly think, Ministers, or Parents, or others that have the Care [Page 8] of educating Youth, if they habitually don't practise this Duty of Catechising, have no Cloke for their Sin. Neither can we rationally expect better Times, without a Reformation in this Matter.—I shall only add one Word further upon it, viz. If the Minister in any Place will not be persuaded to attend his Duty in this Point, Heads of Families will do well to take the more Pains in catechising their Children and Servants at Home; and in doing it, to make frequent Use of some familiar Exposition of the Catechism, for the safer and clearer explaining Things to them, as they go a­long. There are many Books of this Kind to be had; which might be of singular Service, if made more Use of, to spread the Knowledge of divine Things, among elder People, as well as young ones, and to secure them in the Belief of the Truth. For, if by such Helps they become well acquainted with the great Doctrines and Duties of Christianity, as they will the better understand the Ser­mons of their Minister on these Subjects, so they will be the more capable of distinguishing between Truth & Error; and if they should sometimes hear any Thing advanced in Discourses from the Pulpit, contrary to sound Doctrine, or leading to dangerous Errors, the well-instructed Youth would be less exposed to receive ill Impressions therefrom, or at least their more judicious and faithful Parents would be able to fortify and guard them, and I hope would take Care to do it seasonably and effectually, as knowing that they (as well as the Minister) must give Account.

It may not be altogether impertinent or unseasonable, if I now take Occasion to mention it as another dark Omen, and a Symptom of the declining State of Religion in this Land, that our wonted Lectures on Week-days are of late so much laid aside, or neglected, and practically despised among us. In some Places, perhaps the Minister may vo­luntarily omit them, either by Reason of his Support's be­ing too scanty to allow of the Expence usually arising on such Occasions, or because the Burden of Labour created hereby takes him too much off from other (as he thinks) more necessary Parts of his Ministry, or else because he is discouraged by the thin Appearance of Auditors, &c. [Page 9] And undoubtedly the People are very much to Blame▪ For eve [...]here the Minister is not at all in Fault, but re­solutely surmounting all Difficulties in his Way, as being chearfully willing to spend and be spent in the Cause of Christ and for the Good of Souls, diligently keeps up his stated [...]ec [...]re, yet how frequently do's he see it poorly at­tended, and finds herein a great Discouragement to his La­bours, as it soems a practical Contempt of the Means of Grace, and an Argument of a sad Prevalence of the Spirit of this World among his People? Indeed it must needs be a Sign of the sorrowful Change of State in Point of vi­sible Godliness thro' the Land, unto all those who are trem­bling for the Ark of God, and who have seen the crouded Assemblies for Worship on Lecture-days (as well as on Lord's-days) in former Times, now to see the Degeneracy this People are fallen into, by the general Neglect of such Opportunities for the Exercises of Religion and the Care of their Souls. Which Neglect shamefully prevails, not only in many Country-Towns, but even in our Me [...]ropolis also, the chief Place of Concourse; where tho' in a Judg­ment of Charity there be some Thousands of devout Souls, yet it was surprizing to me to behold (as I lately did) at their Thursday-Lecture, the Pews and Seats in a Manner empty; and this, notwithstanding some Pains have lately been taken (as I am informed) to revive that ancient Lectures, particularly by reprinting and dispersing an excellent Dis­course of the memorable and Rev.Mr. JOSHUA MOODEY'S on the choice Benefit of Communion with God in his House; thought to be very well calculated to that Purpose, and ac­companied with a recommendatory Preface, by sundry Re­verend and worthy Ministers of Boston, viz. Dr.Sewall, Mr. Prince, and the late Mr. Webb. Whose pathetick Wishes therein expressed, it is not unreasonable here to repeat, in their own Words, which are these. ‘May the Ministers of Christ be intreated to do their utmost to revive our first Love for the [...]ouse of God, by insisting on the great [...]ruths of the GOSPEL; such are, the Doctrines of the Divinity and saving Offices of our Lord JESUS, God-Man Mediator; concerning the Godhead and divine Operations [Page 10] of the HOLY SPIRIT, on which all the Success of the Gospel-Ministry depends: Such are, the Do [...]rines of Original Sin, and our lost and perishing State by the Fall; the Nature and Necessity of Regeneration by the Spirit of God; our Justification thro' the perfect Righ­teousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by Faith; the Nature and great Importance of Gospel-Obedience,&c. And may God's People shew their earnest Concern in this Matter, by a diligent constant Attendance on the Word and Ordinances, and by their Care to bear the Fruits of the Kingdom.’

On this Occasion, I would take the Liberty (which, I hope, I may do without Offence) humbly to suggest, that as there is a Charity-Lecture, annually at the Ministers Con­vention on the Day after the General Election, one View of which is to promote the Collection then expected, for the Support of some Ministers that have a difficult Situa­tion, but small Congregations and so but small Salaries, if our honoured Patriots at the Council-Board and in the House of Representatives, taking the Case into Consideration, would be pleased, as many of them as might be, to coun­tenance so useful a Charity by attending that Lecture in particular, and giving their Contribution, as several Mem­bers of that honourable Body and others of distinguish'd Character, I know, have sometimes done, and therein have not a little honoured themselves, this doubtless would be a Sacrifice well pleasing to God thro' Jesus Christ; and such a laudable Pattern in our civil Leaders and principal Gen­tlemen might happily be the Means of diffusing a Spirit of Liberality, and draw in many to imitate them, in honouring the Lord with their Substance on such Occasions; which would be Matter of abundant Thanksgivings to God, espe­cially from those who receive these yearly Benefactions.—I hope, it will be excused, if I take the Freedom to add here, that a Concio ad Clerum being partly the Design of this annual Lecture, I trust, it will from Time to Time be the Care of the Minister who preaches it, to exemplify and recommend on that Occasion the evangelical Preacher, and lay hold of that Opportunity for bearing his faithful Tes­timony, [Page 11] as in Behalf of the peculiar Doctrines and Duties of Christianity, which should chiefly fill our Pulpit-Discour­ses, so likewise against the growing Errors, Neglects, and Miscarriages of the Day, whether among Ministers or People.

But to return to the special Business of this Preface—

As the Growth of Armini [...]nism and loose Principles in Religion among us, tends to the utter Ruin of these Church­es, in Point of Faith, Worship, and vital Godliness, I have for my own Part determined, while Opportunity continues, to testify the Gospel of the Grace of God, according to the Ability which God giveth. And as I tho't Mr.BRIANT'S published Discourse manifestly level'd against some impor­tant Doctrines of the Gospel, and calculated to promote Error, to depreciate the sound Principles commonly re­ceived in the Churches of New-England, and among Pro­testants in general, and to reflect Disgrace on those that profess the same; I have been moved (however unfit for such a Task) to undertake an Examination of his Discourse, and to endeavour (after my Measure) the Defence of the Gospel, and herewith a Vindication of the many Expositors and Professors reflected upon by him with so much Severi­ty and Acrimony.

If in the Course of my Remarks it should happen, that I have taken Things any where otherwise than he intended, it is what I am not sensible of at present. If he should make such [...]an Objection, all I can now say to it, is, That to prevent Misunderstanding he should have forborn all ambiguous Expressions, and ought to have explained his Meaning better. I have taken Things as they stand in his Book, and am not at all conscious of wilfully pervert­ing his Sense.—If he is able to offer me better Light from Scripture, on any Argument before us, I am ready to re­ceive the same. But Sa [...]yr or Banter, sophistical Cavils, or evasive Replies, won't be worth my minding: And as for personal Reflections, Insults, and Abuses so familiar with him, I shall not value them a Rush.—

I see by his Management of the Dispute with Mr. POR­TER, that when he can't fairly grapple with an Argument, he knows how to shuffle and evade: And knows how to [Page 12] satyrise and reflect, when he can no longer reason in any plausible Manner. And tho' at first he sat out with some spe­cious Pretension of being a Calvinist; yet it seems▪ he has thought fit to drop it: And some think, after all his loud Noise, he has given up the Text it self, which he pretended to vindicate.—But perhaps I go t [...]o far, in touching on that Contro [...]ersy. Yet I had tho't it not improper for me to make some Remonstrances here against the many abu­sive Reflections, of a personal Aspect, which he has filled his published L [...]tters with. However, because I would not unreasonably swell this Preface, and because the wor­thy Gentlemen against whom he writes, are well able, if they think it worth while, to defend themselves, I for­bear.—Only I can't help taking Notice of a Paragraph in his second Letter, where he deals in Scandal at a strange Rate; not only aspersing the Character of the Living, but even throwing Dirt upon the Memory of the Dead. I think it truly a Master-Piece of De [...]amation, as black & deformed as almost ever I met with: And this, it seems, in Retaliation for a comparatively soft Reflection; which, however, had perhaps better have been omitted.—Perit judicium, cum Res transit in A [...]fectum.—But I dismiss the disagreable Subject; hoping, this Author, upon a calm Review of Things, will take Shame to himself for so unaccountable a Sally of vindictive Passion.

I shall only further observe, that what seems to have especially provoked him against his Opponents, is their be­ing instrumental to bring him under the Repute of an Ar­minian or worse, to the Publick. And all I shall say to this, is, That had not his printed Discourse previously laid him under such a Character, the Rev. Gentlemen he so loudly complains of, would (I confess) have acted an un­kind Part towards him: But as the Case really stood, I think his Offence groundless, and his Heat on this Occa­sion altogether unjustifiable. For he is himself the true (ex­emplifying) Author of this his Character, by his said Dis­course; as he has therein disavow'd the orthodox commonly received Notions, on the Head of the Divine Decrees, of Original Sin, o [...] [...]Grace, of imputed Righteousness, &c. [Page 13] To all which he discovers a strange Antipathy; and at the same Time, makes the whole Doctrine of Christ but a more refined System of Morality, and resolves the whole Duty of Man into the Practice of moral Vertue; declaring this to be the Basis and whole Superstructure of the Religion of JESUS, the very Sum and Substance of Christianity; af­firming, that Revelation every where suspends our whole Happiness on our personal good Behaviour, and constitutes this the Condition of all God's Favours; yea, that the grand Design of Christ's coming into the World was to be a Preacher of Righteousness, to set up the Christian Scheme, and propagate Truth and Vertue among Mankind; that to pro­mote moral Righteousness is the ultimate View of GOD in all his Dispensations; that moral Vertue is the supreme Dignity of GOD himself, the chief (if not only) Subject of proper Gospel-Preaching, &c. And in short, that by the com­monly received Principles, so inconsistent with his, the Chris­tian Religion is in many Places turned into an idle Specu­lation, a mysterious Faith, a senseless Superstition,& a ground­less Recumbency.—This is a true Breviate of his Discourse; and if his other Discourses from the Pulpit are analogous to this, or consistent with it, What other Denomination can such a Preacher expect to come under, among sober and judicious Christians, but that of an Arminian or worse? Certainly then he had no just Reason to reflect, as he has done, on Mr. Porter, or his Attestators. These Rev. Gen­tlemen's Testimony in that Case I think truly worthy of Imitation, as well as Commendation, by the faithful Mi­nisters of CHRIST thro' the Land, and all others who have at Heart Soundness of Doctrine and Purity of Religion: Especially as these Churches appear now, more than ever, in Danger of being corrupted by Arminian Errors, or worse, so industriously propagated by several, with the Author we have in View, lately introduced into the Pastoral Charge. One flagrant Instance I can't help taking a particular No­tice of; I mean, Mr. John Bass, who was not many Years ago settled in the Ministry, but has lately been dismiss'd, as hav­ing turned from Calvinism,&embraced the Arminian Scheme, by his own Account in his Narrative of the Affair. And I can­not [Page 14] help wishing, that every one of our Churches, which have been imposed upon by like Pretenders to Orthodoxy, would follow the laudable Example of the People of A [...]ford; & re­gularly labour to get free from the dangerous Contagion of a corrupt Ministry, such as disseminates Arminian Errors, and loose Opinions in Religion, that tend to subvert the Truth, and destroy vital Christianity among us. Nor can I forbear ex­pressing my Wishes, that in the Choice and the Ordination of Ministers for the future, more Care might be taken, by all concerned therein, to have sufficient Evidence of their being [...]ound in the Faith, and hopefully such as will bring the ever­lasting Gospel to their People; and not such as under Pre­tence of doing that, will only or mainly preach up moral Vertue, and this in such a Way as tends to destroy the Faith and vacate the Gospel of Salvation.

I hope, what I have here offered to the Publick may by the Blessing of God serve some valuable Ends; if not to convince & reduce such as are already engaged in the Arminian Scheme, yet to warn others of the Error and Danger of it, and to establish them in the Belief of the Truth, as it is in Jesus. I send forth this Essay with my hearty Prayers to the God of all Grace, that for Christ's sake he would own and bless what is here said agreable to his Mind and Will, for those happy Purposes: And that the Lord in Mercy would help his Ministers, like Paul, to fight the good Fight, and keep the Faith; and help his Churches in this Land, even unto the latest Generations, to hold fast the Form of sound Words, in Faith and Love, which is in Christ Jesus, to keep his Word and not deny his Name, but to hold fast that which they have, that no Man take their Crown from them.

And may I, who having obtained Help of God, do continue unto this Day (being in the 78th Year of my Age) obtain Mercy to be faithful even unto the Death, and then finish my Course with Joy,—and with the more Joy from a Prospect of this People's walking in the Truth and continuing in the Grace of God.

Now unto him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, be Glory in the Church by CHRIST JESUS, throughout all Ages, World without End. Amen.

SAMUEL NILES.

ERRATA.

PAge. 2. l. [...]. read, Gospel-Truth p. 16. l 23. r. and this p. 31. l. 18. r▪ calling p. 33, l. 18. r. [...]. I shall p. 41. l. 5. r. Action;—ibid. l. 24. r. According to what p. 42. l. 2. r. Interpretation p. 63. l. 29 r. Incon­sist [...]cy p. 80. l. 15. r. might pertinently p. 89. l. 4. r. Another p. [...]. Marg. l. 4. r. Doctrines; profes [...]ed p. 11 [...] l. 20. r can there

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A VINDICATION Of divers important Gospel-Doctrines, with the Preachers and Professors of them; Essayed in the Way of Remarks upon a Discourse (delivered Sermon-wise, and published, on ISAIAH 64. 6.) Intitled, The Absurdity and Blasphemy of depreciating moral Vertue.

IT is a memorable Observation, which some of our venerable Fathers in New-England once made by Way of Lamentation, very applicable to the present Day; viz. ‘It was one of the Songs (as the Jewish Masters tell us) in the Feast of Tabernacles▪—Blessed be our Youth, which have not made our old Men ashamed. But alas! we that are old Men, must confess ourselves ashamed, when we see how our Youth have expressed and behaved themselves; and with what Scoffs they have assaulted the Order of the Gospe [...] in some Things lately published & scattered about the Country.’ Now if in their Day Scoffers being found assaulting the Order of the Gospel was to them Matter of Lamentation, how much more lamentable is it, that there are to be found in our Day Scoffers among our Youths, scoffing at and assault­ing even the Doctrines of the Gospel, and some of the most [Page 2] important Points of Gospel-Truths, treating them with Ridicule, in Discourses printed and scattered about the Country! I am sorry to say it, I think we have a flagrant Instance in the Discourse (not to say Sermon) now to come under our Examination: Where it is very obvious, sun­dry great Doctrines of the Gospel are exploded and hissed at, the Characters of eminent Men, who have espoused them, are aspersed and contemptuously treated, and as I apprehend, some dangerous Errors asserted, in such a con­fident Manner, as if we were to be insulted or flouted out of our religious Principles;—as if truly these Churches in New-England had from the Beginning been settled on a wrong Bottom (so have their Religion still to seek) and as if this our Author must be the very Man to open our Eyes and illuminate the Country! Indeed if this Gen­tleman, or any others, were capable of giving us better Light into divine T [...]ths upon Scripture-Authority, I hope none of us would appear so prejudiced in Favour of our own private Sentiments, or of the commonly receiv­ed Opinions in Religion, as to shut our Eyes against it, or wilfully reject it: But I must freely say, I have little Expectation of that, from One whose first Attempt seems calculated to darken Counsel by Words without true Know­ledge, and scatter Darkness rather tha [...] Light; and tends to obscure, yea even to subvert the Gospel, rather than to establish and explain it; particularly in regard that the main and most essential End of Christ's coming into the World, viz. to make Expiation for Sin, and bring in ever­lasting Righteousness, is in Effect denied, by an abusive Representation of the grand Design of Christ' [...] mediato­rial Undertaking; as will be seen [...] its proper Place, in the Course of these Remarks.

It is not without much Reluctanc [...] I have [...] in this Affair, having waited some Time [...] h [...]p [...]s to hear of its being undertaken by some better [...]: but none ap­pearing (that I was apprized [...], [...] I had almost finished what I at first intended) to plead the Cause of Christ pub­lickly against what carries a threatning Aspect, if suffered [Page 3] to pass without Co [...]troul; therefore with a View to serve the Interest of Christianity in these Churches, and parti­cularly in the Society under my more immediate pastoral Care, by guarding it against the Infection of wild and dangerous Tenets▪ brought so near our Doors, I have thought it my Duty, to set upon a faithful Examination of the Author's Performance referred to.—In doing of which, depending upon divine Grace thro' Christ for Di­rection and Help, I have resolved to contend earnestly, tho' withal I hope scripturally, for the Faith once delivered to the Saints; even that Faith, which the Churches of the Saints in NEW-ENGLAND have been in the Possession and Profession of, now to the third Generation down from our renowned Ancestors, whom Christ in a distinguishing Manner honoured and made to be the happy Instruments of peopling this Wilderness, of settling Churches here in the true Faith and Order of the Gospel, and in Christian Fellowship together, and of erecting a College, when weak and in an Infant-State, for the educating of Youth in sound Principles and good Literature; that by the Smiles of Heaven on their Endeavours, there might come forth a Succession of learned and godly Ministers, furnish­ed and disposed to feed and lead the Generations rising up after them in the Ways of Truth, both in Doctrine and Worship, in Discipline and in Manners.—And shall we their Posterity, after all the Goodness of God so remarka­bly experienced for a Series of near a Century and half, give up that Cause, which is not so much our own as it is Christ's?—Surely, if it be given up, whether by Indo­lency or Treachery, we shall in that Case be justly look'd upon by the Eye of a jealous God, as shamefully degenerated, however noble and right a Seed we sprang from.—To pre­vent so dreadful a Consequence, I would contribute my best Endeavours; particularly in the present Essay, by way of Remarks (as before hinted) on the Discourse now in View.

In the Prosecution of which Purpose, I shall—

[Page 4]1. Consider the Words of the Text, as they stand con­nected with the Context; and likewise compare them with parallel Passages of Scripture, both in the old Testament and New.

2. Attempt to remove the Prejudic [...]s our Author would raise against many sound Protestant Expositors and others, by his harsh and unbecoming personal Reflections upon them, and by his abusive Representations of their Princi­ples, which I shall say something in Vindication of, as it falls in my Way.

3. Shew the Danger of substituting or setting up a Righteousness of our own in the Room or Stead of Christ's Righteousness;—and consider how far our Author is doctrinally faulty, on this Head, in his Discourse.

4. [...] whether there is not more of Absurdity and Blasphemy couched in disowning some of the main Ends of CHRIST'S coming into the World, than can be in the pretended Depreciation of moral Virtue.

5. Consider whether the severe Reflections on the Reli­gion of others, insinuated by this Author (particularly in Pages 7th & 8th of his Discourse) are not very justly ap­plicable to his own Religion, as exhibited therein to the World: And also whether the Objections raised in the Close of that Discourse, which he has framed and pre­tended to answer, do not appear a true and ample Descrip­tion of the whole of his Performance, notwithstanding all his laboured Solutions.

I. I am to consider the Words of his Text, particularly as they lie in Connection with the Context;—and to com­pare them with some parallel Passages in Scripture.

H [...]re, to be distinct,

(1.) I shall consider the Words themselves, and view them in their Relation to the Context; withal taking some Notice of what our Author has advanced in the Discourse before us.

The Text is that Clause in ISAIAH 64. 6.—All our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags.—Our Author, after run­ning thro' more [...] four Pages by Way of Introduction [Page 5] (on several Passages of which I shall take Occasion to make some Remarks, as they may properly fall in under one or other of▪ the Heads propos'd to Consideration) at length comes to his Text; which I shall first give you his Construction of in his own Words, with some Re­marks upon it; and then offer my Sentiments upon it, back'd with some Arguments, both from Reason and Revelation.

Our Author having made a long Harangue upon Pre­mises something foreign to the Purpose, at last recollects himself, and returns after a tedious Digression, to his Sub­ject; beginning thus (Page 9.) ‘And [not to forget my Text.]’—which peradventure he might have done for the whole Hour, and yet carried on his Discourse with near as much Perti [...]ence, and Propriety, as it now appears with.—However, let him go on in his own Way.—

He adds, ‘No Passage perhaps in the whole Book of God has been more shamefully perverted, than this I have now chosen to discourse upon: The Words, as they are commonly recei [...]ed, are a standing Reflection on all Virtue and good Manners; the most effectual Dis­couragement that could be gi [...]en to the Practice of Christian Morality, and consequently one of the most fatal Snares that could be laid for the Souls of Men.’

A wonderful Flight!—On which I observe, our Author's Design (it seems) being to enlighten the Christian World, and to correct and reform our vulgar Expositors & Prea­chers, might judge artfully enough, in beginning his At­tempt thus, with such swelling Words of Vanity, and of Re­proach upon "the Words of his Text as they are com­monly received."—And surely, if the Case be as he represents it, it can't be a venial Crime in any, after such fair Warn­ing from our Author, to presume ever again to apply the Words as they are "commonly received."

Now he tells us,—‘The common Notion of them is, that the Prophet is here giving a just and literal De­scription of the Righteousness of the Best; while he is only confessing and lamenting the aggravated Sins of [Page 6] the worst of Men.’—This his Representation of the Case seems exceptionable enough in both its Parts, as to the Manner of Expression at least: however, I shall not stand to criticize upon Language, or be nice about Words. He further amplifies in stating the Notion commonly re­ceived: But miserably misses it, when he says, The best Righteousness has been generally spoken of, as no better a Qualification,—than filtby Rags.—As I shall have Occasion to shew afterwards.

He comes at last (P. 10.) to give us his Judgment concerning the genuine meaning of the Text;—And with the highest Assurance tells us how it is to be understood; designing, it seems, to prevent Expositors and others, for the future, from so "shamefully perverting" this Passage of Scripture▪ and that the Words, as they are commonly received," may no longer be "a standing Reflection on all Virtue and good Manners," or "such a fatal Snare to the Souls of Men."—Thus he declares himself—‘The true Sense of the Words (as I trust will appear in the Pro­gress of this Discourse) is not, that their Righteousness would have been as filthy Rags, if they had really been a righteous People (the sacred Writer suggests no such thing)—It must therefore be a Matter of great Importance, a Design richly worth our Undertaking, to deliver the Text from this false Gloss, this horrid Abuse that has been put upon it.

But I doubt, our Author has sadly missed his Aim,—and instead of delivering his Text from a false Gloss, and horrid Abuse, has indeed rather put one upon it himself: as, I am perswaded, will appear in the Sequel of these Remarks.—Whereas this Gentleman has taken Pains to blacken the Character of the Jews, and set it in the most odious Light; I think this injuriously done, and but very little to the Purpose.—That the Jewish Nation, at the Time of Isaiah's Prophecy, had too generally fallen into a State of wosul Degeneracy, I con [...]ess, is sufficiently evident from Scripture: But that they were so universally ab [...]d [...]ned to such a Degree of Immorality and Wickedness, [Page 7] as they are represented by our Author, I believe wants Proof; and so does his Assertion, that ‘if they had really been a righteous People, their Righteousness would not have been as filthy Rags,—and that the sacred Writer suggests no such Thing. With as much of an Air of Infallibility as this Gentleman here delivers his Opinion, it may possibly before we have done with him, appear, he is under a very gross Mistake; and the Charge of put­ing a "false Gloss and horrid Abuse on the Text," returns on his own Head

The Decision of this Case is of great, and (as it ap­pears to me) of the last Importance. In order therefore to discover, on which Side of the Question the Truth lies, I shall proceed, as was proposed, to offer some Tho'ts on the Text, and shall soberly deliver my Opinion in the Case, submitting the same to the Correction of Men of better Judgment, than either our Author or I, inModesty can pretend to.

Now that we may come to a clear understanding of the Words of the Text,—All our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags,—It may be of use to premise the following Considerations:—Namely,

1. That GOD always had, and ever will have a Church in the World; it were easy to prove this: but I suppose it will not be disputed; therefore I need not labour the Point.

2. That the Church of God, under all it's Vicissitudes and Revolutions, in the several Periods of Time, whether under the Patriarchal, or Mosaical, or Christian Constitu­on, hath always had in it a Number of true Believers in God and in the Messiah.—Even in the darkest and most degenerate Age, there always has been a Remnant accord­ing to the Election of Grace, who were Fellow-Citizens with the Saints and of the Houshold of God; tho' sometimes it has been but a small Remnant, and like the Grape-gleanings of the Vintage, as it were one of a City and two of a Tribe: Nevertheless, God, who despises not the Day of small Things, has still owned them for his People, and not for­saken [Page 8] them.—The Name of the Church ever has been▪ and eve [...] will be that, JEHOVAH S [...]AMMAH, The Lord is there.—Which is a Consideration, sufficient, I think, to take off the Odium cast on the People of the Jews, by our Author, when he represents them as being in Isaiah's Day the worst of Men, and universally so; or else, he says, their Righteousnesses would not have had the odious Cha­racter of filthy Rags applied to them:—whereas, it is evi­dent, the Confession in this Text is the Church's Confession, and this the only Church God had then in the World,—which, as corrupt as the Times may be supposed to have been, yet were called the holy People, the redeemed of the Lord, a City not forsaken, Isai. 62. 12.—Certainly, there was a Number of precious Saints of the most High, then a­mong the Jews; and if so, this destroys the Author's Hypothesis concerning that People, that they were at this Time an abandoned People, ‘utterly destitute of true Righteousness, yea, as the worst of Men, given up to the most detestable Immoralities, and that the whole Design of the sacred Writer is to shew that they had no real true Righteousness.’—But to proceed, let it be considered,

3. That under the Church's legal and typical Admi­nistration, God put his Prophets, in the Times of their Prophe [...]ying, into a double Capacity and Trust, wherein they were eminent Types of the great Mediator between God and Men, the Man Christ Jesus, who both mediates with God for his People, and with his People for God. Thus were the Prophets appointed to be God's Mouth to his People, Jer. 15. 19. Thou shalt be my Mouth: and as such they came to the People in the Name of God, under his Authority, and under a like Promise as that made to Moses, Exod. 4. 12. Go, and I will be with thy Mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.—They were also the People's Mouth unto God, in a Manner as Aaron was Spokes-man to Moses, ibid. v. 16.—Now under this pub­lick Character we are to consider the Prophet Isaiah, ma­king the Confession in the Text, All our Righteousnesses [Page 9] are as fil [...]y Rags. The Prophet here is the Church's Mouth in Prayer; or the Church is by the Prophet offer­ing up her Prayer to God in Faith: petitioning for di­vine Help against her Adversaries.—It is the Church, I say, that makes this Prayer by the Mouth of the Prophet; and even then the only true Church of God, wherein it must in Reason be supposed, there were others besides the Prophet, and perhaps many, sincere in their Addresses to the Throne of Grace for Salvation in a Time of Need: it was the Prayer of the Upright, the Prayer of Faith; at least, on the Part of the Prophet and many others. Their Petition is urged and enforced by a variety of Pleas, par­ticularly from the Consideration of what God had already done for his People; and they proceed, in the lively Act­ings of Faith, to express their Acquiescence in God's Pro­mises, not only with Regard to what temporal Good he might in Mercy bestow upon them, but also to the in­conceivable Glory he had in Store, prepared for them that wait for him, (v. 4th of the Context) or as the Apostle expounds it, prepared for them that love him. (1 Cor. 29)—Then the Church goes on (v. 5.) to a farther Expression of her Faith, with Regard to the Constancy of God's Mercy—Thou meet [...]st, or as it may be read, Thou ownest and acceptest, him that rejoyceth and worketh Righteousness, i. e. the same as before described, such as wait for God, or love him; who delight themselves in the Lord, and delight in keeping his Commandments; who rejoyce not in Iniquity, but rejoyce in the Truth, and rejoyce in Hope, while through Faith they are enabled to work Righteousness; who experiencing the Joy [...] Faith, have Confidence toward God,—that they shall be saved; as the Church speaks in the Close of this 5th Verse. Never­theless the Church, as became her, makes a humble Con­fession of her own Unworthiness, (v. 6.) But we are all as an unclean Thing—How pertinent, seasonable and fit a Confession was this from the Church, when supplicating for Mercy and Grace to help her, when acknowledging former Merci [...]s, and when acting Faith and Hope in the [Page 10] Promise for further Mercies? On such an Occasion, how meet and becoming was it in the Church and People of God, thus to humble themselves in his Sight, un­der a Sense of their Uncleanness; and consequently their Unworthiness of the Blessings received or asked at the Hands of a holy God, who knew what sinful Creatures they were? And I would add, that the purest Church that ever was upon Earth, ought and might with the greatest Propriety, even in her purest Times, since Adam's Fall, as an indispensable Duty, confess with Lamentation in the Language of the Church here, We are all as an un­clean Thing.—Now if the Fountain be unclean, no Won­der if the Streams are so too. For who can bring a clean Thing out of an unclean? Not one.—How fitly therefore does the Church, conscious of the Imperfections & Cor­ruptions with which the best of her Performances, whe­ther Ceremonial or Moral, were stained, subjoin this fur­ther Confession—And all our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags! A Confession, which the purest Church on Earth may make, with Reference to their purest Righteousnesses, I think, without incurring the Imputation of Absurdity and Blasphemy, in depreciating moral Virtue, with which this Author reproaches such a Construction of the Text; which I think, none da [...] deny, except it be such as agree with our Author, who seems to place his whole Dependance on Morality; as will more fully appear, I presume, from the most candid Examination of his Discourse refer'd to.

By our Righteousnesses, we are to understand Works of Righteousness which we have done. The Expression is not to be construed as including that Righteousness which is ours by Imputation, and is the Righteousness of Christ sub­jectively, described by the Apostle, The Righteousness which is of God by Faith: But it means that Righteousness which is ours by Inherence; yet, as One faith, ‘It does no [...] mean Righteousness simply considered in the Ab­stract, but considered in its Subjects;—Creatures mo­rally imperfect, all whose Qualities consequently are [Page 11] so too: Nor does it mean the Principle of Righteousness as infused into Believers by the Holy Spirit, but the Exercise of it, or Works of Righteousness as done by us; and it respects all our own personal Acts of Obe­dience to God's Commandments, whether respecting Rituals or Morals,—yea, even Gospel-Duties of Faith and Repentance, considered as Actions performed by us.’All our Righteousnesses, the Church confesses, are as filthy Rags. ‘They are so in the Eye of the Law and Justice of God, as considered in themselves, separately from the Righteousness of Christ, which through Grace is im­puted to Believers, and in Vertue of which their sin­cere (tho' imperfect) Duties are acceptable to God.’All our Righteousnesses, viewed as they really be in them­selves, in Point of Conformity to the Law of God, are very defective, and in regard of intermixing Sins are much polluted.—The Church's Complaint in the preceeding Words was, We are all as a [...] unclean Thing;—alluding possibly to the Cry of the Leper under the Ceremonial Law, Unclean, Unclean! (Lev. 13. 45.) And then they further take Shame to themselves, from a Sense of their having nothing of their own that did or could hide their spiritual Nakedness and Uncleanness: Their very Righ­teousnesses themselves being all but as Rags, yea as filthy Rags. They may be called Rags, as they were so defi­cient, that they would by no Means serve for a Covering to hide the Shame of their spiritual Nakedness and Un­cleanness; scarce so well as the Aprons of Fig-Leaves, [...]hat Adam and Eve se [...]ed together, to cover the Shame of their bodily Nakedness. And they may be called filthy Rags in this Respect, that if Men essayed to cover them­selves with their own Righteousnesses, as these were so stained with Mixtures of Sin, they would rather increase their spiritual Uncleanness; at least, the applying them to such a Use, and trusting in them for a Cover to their Unclean­ness, would but so much the more contaminate or pol­lute them in the Sight of a holy God, who is always jea­lous for the Honour of his Grace, and for the Glory of [Page 12] the Redeem [...]r, in whom only [...]e maketh us accepted, and maketh us beautiful thro' his Comeliness put upon us: For it is written in the Prophet, By his Knowledge shall my righteous Serv [...]nt justify many.—And again, Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I Righteousness and Strength: Even to Him shall Men come—And in the Lord shall all the Seed of Israel be justified and shall glory—And so the A­postle, By the Obedience of One shall many be made righteous.—Even as David also describeth the Blessedness of the Man, to whom God imputeth Righteousness without Works,—saying, Blessed are they whose Iniquities are forgiven, and whose Sins are covered, i. e. hid from the Eye of vindictive Justice;—Not by the poor thin Webb of their own inherent Righ­teousness, but by the rich Robe of Christ's Righteousness, imputed and received by Faith.—Hence all our Righte­ousnesses may be said to be as filthy Rags (a most apt and pertinent Comparison) as it stands in Relation to the grand Affair of our Justification before God. Accord­ingly the Apostle Paul teaches us to reject all Pretences to Justification in God's Sight by our moral Virtues, or per­sonal Righteousnesses of any Kind; all which he exclud­eth from being the Matter or Ground of our Justification, when he represents every Mouth stopped by what the Law faith, and all the World as become guilty before God; and hence draws that Conclusion, Therefore by the Deeds of the Law there shall no Flesh be justified in his Sight; for by the Law is the Knowledge of Sin, Rom. 3. 19, 20. And then to shew us what it is, that is the true Ground or Matter of our Justification, and how it is to be obtained by us, he adds in the next Verses,—But now the Righte­ousness of God without the Law is manifested; being wit­nessed by the Law and the Prophets: even the Righteousness of God, which is by Faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe:—being justified freely by his Grace, through the Redemption that is in Christ Jesus,—thro' Faith in his Blood.—Therefore we conclude, that a Man is justified by Faith without the Deeds of the Law. So Chap. 5. 1.—Being justified by Faith, we have Peace with God through [Page 13] our Lord Jesus Christ.—It follows, v. [...]. Much more then being justified by his Blood, we shall be saved from Wrath through him.—And v. 17. For if by one Man's Offenc [...] Death reigned by One, much more they which receive a­bundance of Grace, and of the Gift of Righteousness, shall reign in Life by One, Jesus Christ. The plain Scope of the Apostle is to shew, that the whole and sole Matter of our Justification before God, or our only justifying Righ­teousness in his Sight, is the Righteousness of Christ, gra­ciously given to us in a Way of Imputation, and received by Faith alone. Hence he calls it the the Gift, the Gift by Grace, which is by one Man,—the free Gift unto Justi­fication, even Justification of Life.—Surely, this Justifica­tion is wholly of Grace, and not of Works. It's true, we are said to be justified through Faith, which is an operative Principle; but then it in thro' Faith as uniting us to Christ, and receiving the Atonement; not as working Righteous­ness, and producing good Works, but as receiving the Gift of Righteousness which is by one Man, Christ Jesus. It is by the Obedience of One, that many are made Righteous▪ It is the Righteousness of One, which is upon all them which be­lieve; and they believe thro' Grace; to them it is given to believe: By Grace ye are saved thro' Faith, and that not of your selves; it is the Gift of God: Not of Works, le [...]t any Man should boast.—So then it is not of him that willeth, no [...] of him that runneth; but of God that sheweth Mercy, and that in his infinite Grace, imputeth Righteousness without Works.—What are our best Works, if tried by the Law, which is holy & just, but such as cannot, shall not profit us, in Regard of Justification before God? Surely in com­pare with that Righteousness which the Law demands▪ All our Righteousnesses are but as filthy Rags.—They are such in compare with the Righteousness of Christ, who was holy, harmless, undefiled;—his Obedience was perfect and spotless, his Blood pure and untainted with Sin: whereas, Corruption cleaves to us, and to our best Performances; so that all our Righteousnesses, com­pared with Christ's Righteousness, deserve no better Cha­racter [Page 14] than this odious one in the Text.—Nay, in com­pare with the Righteousness of the Saints in Glory, the Righteousnesses of the best Men upon Earth, are but as filthy Rags.

This may suffice for the Illustration of the Text. I would now proceed something further, in viewing the Context.—That it was the Church, and the only one that God had in the World at that Day, which made the hum­ble Confession, we have been considering, may be demon­strated from the repeated Expressions of their Faith in God; not only in Passages preceeding the Text, but in several that follow it, v. 8 & 9. But now, O Lord, thou art our Father: we are the Clay, and thou our Potter, and we are all the Work of thy Hand.—Behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy People.—The Prophet here appears plainly addressing the Throne of Grace with a Prayer of Faith, in the Name and Behalf of the Church of God: Nor can it be suppos'd in Reason, but that there was a Remnant of faithful ones at that Day, if we consider that memorable Instance in the Time of Elijah, the Prophet, when the Ten Tribes had revolted to such a Degree, that he made Intercession to God against Israel, and complained as if he were left alone, in the true Worship and Fear of God: But what said the Answer of God unto him? I have reserved to my self sevenThousand Men, who have not bowed the Knee to Baal. (Compare 1 Kin. 19.& Rom. 11.) Now if there was such a Remnant according to the Election of Grace, in that Day of extream Degeneracy in Israel, when they had forsaken God's Covenant, thrown down his Altars, and killed his Prophets, insomuch that Elijah tho't he was the only Man left to serve God; we may reaso­nably conclude then, That in the Tribe of Judah, who had never been so wholly given to Idolatry, but had the Worship of God always in some Degree kept up a­mong them, there was at least a proportionable Number of sincere Worshippers of God still remaining in this Tribe, and in Isaiah's Time many such among this Peo­ple; tho' represented by our Author, as an abandoned [Page 15] People, the "worst of Men; wholly given up to the most detestable Wickedness."—But that this is an abusive and injurious Representation, besides what has been already said, I might argue from the Date of Isaiah's Prophecy; the latter Part of which (including the disputed Text) being in the Reign of Hezekiah King of Judah, a pious Prince and a great Reformer; when the good Knowledge of the Lord spread greatly in the Land, and God very sig­nally revived his Work, insomuch that divers even of the other Tribes, not included within Hezekiah's Dominions, we are told, humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem to keep the Passover, and to see [...] the Lord God of their Fa­thers; also in Judah the Hand of God was to give them one Heart to do the Commandment of the King, and of the Princes by the Word of the Lord. (2 Chron. 30. 11, 12.)—And tho' in this good King's Reign, Isaiah prophesied of the Babylonian Captivity, yet we read, Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, Good is the Word of the Lord which thou hast spoken: He said moreover, For there shall be Peace and Truth in my Days. (Isaiah 39. 8.)—And the Prophet's next Message, in the following Chapter, begins with Words of Conso­lation, Comfort ye, Comfort ye my People, saith the Lord, speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, &c.

I have insisted the longer on these Things, to shew, That our Author's Discourse was laid on a wrong Foun­dation; and, I think, has neither Scripture nor Reason to support the Representation therein made of the Jews, as a wholly abandoned People, at the Time when Isaiah made that Confession in the Text, All our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags: as also by Consequence to shew, this Character, odious as it is, is justly applicable to the Righ­teousnesses of the very best of Men, in the Respects which have been mentioned; since, in some such Respects, even the holy Prophet, and godly Hezekiah, and others of the Faithful, in whose Name he spake, did apply this Character to their own Righteousnesses. Upon the whole, I would add,—Was not the Confession in the Text dictated by the holy Spirit, and put into the Prophet's Mouth, by di­vine [Page 16] Inspiration, for the Church's Use? What Presump­tion then must it be in any, to find Fault with the Man­ner of Expression? or with that Construction of it, which supposes it adapted for the Church's Use; not excluding the best of Men from the Use of it? Would to God, there were found among us, even among us, many more, than its to be feared there are, spirited humbly to make this Confession in the Text; and like the Church on this Oc­casion, drawn off from Dependance on their moral Vertues; and brought to place their whole Confidence in Christ's Righteousness: yet, while renouncing their own Righte­ousness in the Affair of Justification, not at all abating of their Care to maintain good Works, but still diligently fol­lowing every good Work, strictly and constantly attending every Duty, whether religious or civil, personal or rela­tive!

(2.) I proceed now to the other Thing proposed under my first general Head of Remarks, which is to produce some parallel Texts of Scripture, and compare them with this Passage in the Prophet.—There are similar Passages enough, both in the Old and New-Testament, to prove, that the Church's Confession here has in Effect ever been, and gives us Reason to think it still is and ever will be, the Language of the Church of God,—All our Righte­ousnesses are as filthy Rags. And therefore that it's not a Confession peculiarly calculated for that Age wherein it was indited; nor to be confined to that People of the Jews only, as our Author suggests. Indeed I grant, this Confession is not to be found any where else in Scripture, expressed (totidem ver [...]is) just in so many Words; but it's sufficient if it be there (eodem sensu) implicitly and virtu­ally. It would be almost endless, to cite all the Sayings in the Bible, that carry much the same Sense as this Con­fession in the Text.—All those Passages may fairly be re­duced under this Head, where we find the Saints or Children of God renouncing their own Righteousness, as to any Claim founded upon it, when asking divine Benefits; and where we find them resolving all their Hopes into [Page 17] the Mercy of God; where we find them confessing their Unworthiness, pleading for Pardon of Sin, justifying Pro­vidence in afflictive Dispensations, magnifying the divine Grace towards them in favourable Events, deprecating God's entring into a judicial Process, &c.—I shall only mention a few out of the many Instances that might be alledg'd, to my Purpose.—Thus, when this very Prophet, the Penman of the Text, said as in Isai. 6. 5. Wo is me, for I am undone, because I am a Man of unclean Lips, and I dwell in the midst of a People of unclean Lips; for mine Eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts: What does this Confession import, less than that in the controverted Words, All our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags!—And what less than this does that of another Prophet amount to, who while he is personating & pleading for the Church, says, as in Dan. 9. 18. O my God, incli [...]e thine Ear,—for we do not present our Supplications before thee for our Righteousnesses, but for thy great Mercies! Her [...] we see, where the Force of the Church's Argument in the Mouth of the Prophet, lies, when instant in Prayer for divine Relief and Help, in their present Difficulties,—Not for our Righte­onsnesses, O our God, but for thy great Mercies, we present our Supplications before thee. The Sense is plainly this, ‘Thou art our Covenant-God, and we pray in Faith and Hope for thy Salvation: yet our only Plea at the Throne of Grace is thy Mercy, not our own Worthiness; for we can challenge nothing at thy Hands on the Account of our own Righteousnesses, which are even as filthy Rags, in the Sight of thine holy and all-seeing Eyes:—We therefore renounce all Dependance upon these for ob­taining thy Favour, and rely wholly upon thy Mercy, which is great towards thy People:’ For the Lord's sake, (v. 17.) for thy Name's sake which is in him, who is the expected Messiah, The Lord our Righteousness.—This Passage in the Prophet Daniel is the more to be noticed, as it is so parallel with the disputed Text, in Isaiah,—giving us a full and ample Explication of the Confession, All our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags: and what makes [Page 18] it the more emphatical, is, that the Phrase, our Righte­ousnesses (in the plural Number) is no where else to be found, that I know of, in the whole Bible, but in these two Passages of Isaiah and Daniel; and these two Pro­phets lived in different Periods of Time, near or quite a Century distant from one another; both used this Ex­pression in Prayer, and on the like Occasion, both plead­ing the Cause and being the Mouth of the Church and People of God: so that we have here the Church speak­ing the same Language in various remote Ages; and alike renouncing their own Righteousnesses even as filthy Rags, at one Time and another, in the most solemn Man­ner; not presuming to utter a Word in their own Justi­fication, not resting in the Law, nor drawing any Argu­ment from their moral Vertues, when pleading with God.

In the next Place, Let us take a View of Job's Exam­ple, a Man perfect and upright, beyond all in his Day, yet how full is he of Language equivalent to the Confession in the Text? Job 9. 2, 3. How should Man be just with God? (or before God) If he will contend with him, he can­not answer him one of a Thousand. v.15. Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but I would make Supplication to my Judge. v. 20. If I justify my self, my own Mouth shall condemn me. v. 30—32. If I wash my self with Snow-Water, and make my Hands never so clean, yet shalt thou plunge me in the Ditch, and mine own Cloaths shall abhor me. For he is not a Man, that I should answer him, and we should come together in Judgment. So Chap. 10. 15. If I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my Head. Chap. 13. 23. How many are mine Iniquities & Sins? Make me to know my Transgression and my Sins. Chap. 14. 4. Who can bring a clean Thing out of an unclean? not one.—Tho' Job in his Conferences often pleads his Integrity, in Opposition to the Censures of his uncharitable Friends; yet in his Addresses to God, his usual Manner was to hum­ble himself thus, and renounce all Confidence in his own Righteousness. And tho' sometimes in an Hour of Temp­tation, the good Man fell into some Expressions too im­patient [Page 19] patient and arrogant, and discovering the Remains of a Self-righteous Spirit in him; yet when recovered out of those ill Frames, and brought to himself, he returns to his Self-judging and Self-humbling Language. Chap 40. 3, 4, 5. Then Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold I am vile! what shall I answer thee? I will lay my Hand up­on my Mouth; once have I spoken, but I will not answer: yea, twice, but I will proceed no further. He here retracts (makes his Recantation) and calls back the querulous and vain glorious Expressions, that had dropt from him, when he spake unadvisedly with his Lips, by way of faulting of God, and exalting himself, and setting forth his own Righ­teousness.—God's Reply to him shews, that this Kind of Language was what Job had his Eye to. v. 7, 8. Gird up thy Loins now like a Man: I will demand of thee; and declare thou unto me. Wilt thou also disannul my Judgment? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayst be righteous?—And upon the whole, we find Job most intirely submitting to the Righteousness of God, and no longer daring to use any such Expression as might look as if he were going about to establish has own Righteousness. When Job answered the Lord, he concluded with saying, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the Ear, but now mine Eye [...]eeth thee; where­fore I abhor my self, and repent in Dust and Ashes.—What can this mean less than confessing that all his Righteousness was as filthy Rags?

So Job's Friends, tho' they did not always speak the Thing that is right, yet are judged to have been good Men, and in their Speeches discover much of a humble Spirit towards God, even while passing mistaken Cen­sures upon Job. Thus Eliphaz speaks, Chap. 15. 14,—16. What is Man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a Woman, that he should be righteous? Behold, he putteth no Trust in his Saints; yea, the Heavens are not clean in his Sight: How much more abominable and filthy is Man, which drinketh Iniquity like Water! So Bildad says, Chap. 25, 4. How then can Man be justified with God? or how can he be clean, that is born of a Woman: Behold even to the Moon, [Page 20] and it shineth not; yea, the Stars are not pure in his Sight: How much less Man, that is a Worm; and the Son of Man, that is a Worm! (v. 5,6.)—What is this, in true Con­struction, but pronouncing all our Righteousnesses to be as filthy Rags!

What short of this do Abraham's Words import? Gen. 18. 27. Behold now I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but Dust and Ashes!—Dust by Nature, and Ashes by Corruption (as some have glossed on the Place) such was the humble Sense that Abraham had of himself, and of his own Righteousness: but if Abraham were justified by Works, he had whereof to glory.—So Jacob, tho' he could plead his Righteousness, as answering for him, respecting his Dealings with Laban, yet when he has to do with GOD, he confesses himself less than the least of all his Mercies. (Gen. 32. 10.) And how then must his own Righteousness appear in his Eyes? Even as filthy Rags.—In like manner David, the Man after God's own Heart, tho' he could appeal to the supream Judge, in the Controversy between him and his Adversaries, and rely on God's Faithfulness to answer him in that Case, yet he saw at the same Time such Failures staining all his Righteousness in the Eyes of a Heart-searching God, and consequently such Grounds of God's entering into an angry Controversy with him, in which he could never stand, that he earnestly deprecates it. Psal. 143. 2. Enter not into Judgment with thy Servant; for in thy Sight shall no Man living be justified. And again, Psal. 130. 3. If thou, Lord, shouldst mark Iniquity, O Lord, who shal [...] stand! The Reason of this is suggested by Solomon in his Prayer, 2 Chron. 6. 36. For there is no Man which sinneth not. Which Consideration was doubtless one Motive to his using that Expression (v. 18.) But will God in very Deed dwell with Men on the Earth! Even good Men, the Saints in the Earth, tho' excellent comparatively with others, yet by Reason of Sin, that dwelleth in them, that often breaketh out, and taints all their Righteousnesses, have just Occasion to be astonished at God's Condescension in dwelling with [Page 21] them.—What but a Sense of his moral Imperfections, as well as intellectual, drew that Confession from Agur? Prov. 30. 2. Surely I am more brutish than any Man, and have not the understanding of a Man! Far from being pure in his own Eyes, or from not thinking his own Righ­teousness to be as filthy Rags.—Again, what but a Sense of his Sinfulness and the Imperfection of his own Righteousness put John the Baptist in such humble Con­fusion, when Jesus came to be baptized of him, and made him confess and wonder, saying, I have need to be bapti­zed of thee, and comest thou to me! Mat. 3. 14.—Again, had not the Apostle Peter some such humbling View of his Case, when he fell down at Jesus Knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful Man, O Lord! Luk. 5. 8.—Tho' as to the first Part of his Speech, it may be said of him, as on another Occasion, he spake this, not knowing what [...]e said; for he was astonished at the Miracle he saw: yet it's evident, he had at the same Time a very striking View and humbling Sense of his Sinfulness, which made him appear in his own Eyes very vile, and unworthy that Christ should honour him with his Presence. What then must be his Apprehensions of his own Righteousness?—And may we not well think the same View of himself was the Reason of Moses's Conduct, when God appeared to him in the burning Bush, of which we read, Exod. 3. 6. And Moses hid his Face; for he was afraid to look upon God. The practical Language of this is like that of Job, Behold I am vile; and that of Isaiah, Wo is me, for I am undone. He doubtless conceived of himself appearing in a dirty Hue (morally speaking) and utterly unworthy to approach the Presence of a holy God. He looked, in his own Apprehension, like one in filthy Rags; even like the high Priest we read of, Ze [...]h. 3. 3. Now Joshua was cloathed with filthy Garment [...], and stood before the An­gel. This Case was indeed typical, and Joshua's filthy Garments may be considered as emblematical of the for­did Figure or [...]pp [...]arance, that the Saints themselves and their Righteousnesses, if viewed in the Glass of the Law, [Page 22] must make before a holy God. Joshua's having his filthy Garments taken away, and Change of Raiment given him, typically represents the Need there is of our having the filthy Rags of our own Righteousness put away from before the Eye of vindictive Justice; and shews us, that we can appear with Safety before a holy God, only as cloath­ed with Change of Raiment, the Garment given us, even the Righteousness which is of Faith.

Indeed our Author (Page 16.) pretends, that the per­sonal Righteousness of the Saints is the fine Linnen, cl [...]n and white, spoken of by John, Rev. 19. 8. Now, tho' this were granted, yet if we consult the Context, it seems as if it were the Righteousness of Saints in their glorify'd State, who indeed walk with God in white, that is represented under this Similitude: and if the perfect Righteousness of the Saints in Light be repre­sented as such a Robe of Glory, this doth not infer, that the imperfect Righteousness of Saints in the Earth, ought to have the [...] Resemblance applied to it. This surely will not bear the Comparison: For the best Garment of personal Righteousness on Earth need [...] be washed, and can only be made white in the Blood of the Lamb.—Without being washed with the Blood of Christ, and as considered in themselves, compared to the Law to which they should be conformable, all our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags.—But the Righteousness of CHRIST is a spot­less Robe: And this has generally been thought to be the white Raiment (spoken of Rev. 3. 18.) which our Saviour counsels us to buy of him. The only Cloathing sufficient to hide the Shame of our Nakedness, to hide the Nakedness of our moral Vertues, as well as to cover our Sins, is that best Robe, the Robe of Christ's Righteousness, which is upon all them that believe.—Agreable to this, the Apostle Paul, tells us, he counted all Things but Loss and Dung, that he might win Christ, and be found in him, not having his own Righteousness which is of the Law, but that which is through Faith of Christ, the Righteousness which is of God by Faith, Phil. 3. 8,9.—This is the fine Linn [...]n, clean [Page 23] and white, with which Believers are arrayed, safe-guarded, and secured unto the Day of Judgment, and at last pre­sented spotless unto God.—This is the Wedding-Garment, in which all shall appear, that will be approved Guests, when the Marriage of the Lamb is come.—They will all pursuant to the Doctrine taught by Christ, say from first to last, We are unprofitable Servants.—Their everlasting Song will be in such Strains as these, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, who hath redeemed us to God by his Blood, who hath finished Transgression, made an End of Sin, and brought in an everlasting Righteousness.—They will eternally celebrate the Kindness and Love of God our Saviour, in some such Language as that of the A­postle, Tit. 3. 5,—7. Not by Works of Righteousness which we have done, but according to his Mercy [...]e saved us, by the washing of Regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his Grace, we should be Heirs according to the Hope of eternal Life.

To conclude this Head, we may observe, the Apostle having given us a Catalogue of many primit [...]e Saints, tells us,—These all died in Faith, Heb. 11. 13.—even as he had before remarked, Chap. 10. 38. The Just shall live by Faith,—in the Prophet's Words. Now it is of the very Nature of Faith to exclude boasting, and to renounce all Confidence in our own Righteousness.—Surely whether living or dying, we should make it our Concern, that we may be strong in Faith, giving Glory to God: yet it must be notic'd, where there is Faith un­feigned, this always purifieth the Heart, and influenceth to follow universal Holiness; and besure will not permit us to neglect the Duties of M [...]rality, or slight any of the social Vertues; for Faith worketh by Love, both towards God, and towards our Neighbour.—There is the Obedience of Faith, as well as the Dependance of Faith; and both are exemplified in the sound Believer.—Upon the whole, I must say, we under the Gospel have as little Foundation for boasting in our moral Attainments, as had the Jewish [Page 24] Church in the Days of the Prophets; and therefore should not be high-minded, but fear, tho' the God of all Grace has provided some better Things for us, than he did of old for them; fear, I say, left our superiour and singular Advan­tages should only serve to aggravate our Sins, in the Sight of that God, who is of purer Eyes than to behold Iniquity, tho' it were but the Iniquity of our holy Things, without Detestation, in whomsoever it be found. We should take heed, lest there be in any of us an evil Heart of Unbelief, in departing from the living God; and ought to fear, lest a Promise being left us of entring into his Rest, any of us should seem to come short of it. The Jewish Nation were at last broken off because of Unbelief; and we stand by Faith; we should therefore take Warning from their Sin and Ruin, and beware that we do not fall after the same Example of Unbelief.—And it is certain, that as the Jewish Church ever did, while standing by Faith, so the true Christian Church ever will, unite in this grand Article of Lamentation, and Self-abasing Confession before God, All our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags.—I have stayed the longer upon the Head of producing parallel Texts of Scripture with the Text insisted on, to shew, that as holy Men of God spake & wrote their Sentiments on the Case under present Examination, by the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit, their united Testimony sufficiently proves, in what Sense we are to understand the Words, and are of sufficient Force to put our Author and all Gain-sayers to Silence.—Thus much for the first general Head.

It was proposed in the next Place,

II. To attempt the Removal of those Prejudices, our Au­thor has taken Pains to raise against many sound & orthodox Protestant Expositors and others, by his harsh & unjust Reflections, of a personal Aspect, and by his unfair Repre­sentations of their Principles; some of which I shall men­tion, and endeavour a Vindication of.

In the Introduction to his Discourse, and elsewhere, this Gentleman exhibits very loud and bitter Complaints a­gainst certain Expositors, and others that join with them, [Page 25] as having wretchedly perverted & horribly abused his Text, All our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags; and as having advanced many Opinions in Religion, which he insinuates to be of a very bad Nature and dangerous Tendency.

Now in order to make the fairest and fullest Answer to these Complaints, I shall take this Method. (1.) Consider who are the Expositors and others here intended by the Author.—(2.) Repeat in his own Words some of the ind [...] ­cent and severe Reflections he has cast upon them, and hint at some of his Misrepresentations of their Opinions.—And (3.) Defend their Memory and Character against the In­justice done them; and withal attempt a brief Vindica­tion of their Principles, as it comes in my Way in the Course of these Remarks.

1. We are to consider who the Expositors and others are, that the Author had a View to in his Complaints and Censures.—Now this, I think, will sufficiently appear by the Description he has in Effect given of them, in remon­strating against many of their known Tenets, as well as their Opinion upon his Text. Tho' he has not, in several Instances, fairly stated those Doctrines of theirs, which he excepts against, but has represented them in Language designed, as it seems, to excite a Prejudice both against them and the Patrons and Abettors of them, in his less judicious and more unwary Readers: yet upon the whole, I think, he has left himself no Room for Evasion here, by pretending as tho' he had really no View to such Exposi­tors and their Adherents; for it is apparent, that our Au­thor's Eye was to such as held the Doctrines of personal Election, particular Redemption, original Sin, efficacious Grace, imputed Righteousness, Justification by Faith, the Saints final Perseverance,—and in a Word, God's Sovereignty in Man's Salvation.—All these Doctrines seem very plainly struck at, either directly or by Consequence, in his Discourse, and some of them treated with supercilious Disdain & Contempt.—In the general, he explodes them under the opp [...]brious Name of "Libertine Notions." P. 9, and he observes, that for the propagating them, viz. these [Page 26] Notions, ‘No Passage perhaps in the Book of God has been more shamefully perverted, than this which he has chosen to discourse upon: The Words (says he) as they are commonly received, are a standing Refl [...]ction on all Virtue.’ Hence we may with the highest Reason con­clude, our Author's Invectives are levelled against Protestant Expositors, and those in special of a Calvinistical Character and Per [...]wasion, and those that adhere to the like Princi­ples, which the Ministers in New-England generally have done, and with plain scriptural Gospel Warrant.—It is therefore strange and very lamentable, that any should be found among us in these Churches and in the Ministry too, venting such Indignation and Scorn at a Notion of his Text (by his own Confession) commonly received; yea, denying, and even deriding, and bantering those great and important Scripture-Doctrines, which it has been made use of to support, (with many other parallel Texts, above cited to, under the foregoing Head) which were so dear to our pious Predecessors, and which have hitherto been so commonly received in the whole Protestant World; as appears particularly by the publick Confessions of Faith, and Catechisms, as well as other Writings they have left us as Memorials of their Belief, and for Helps to us to un­derstand the Scriptures, and that our Faith may be fixed in the Doctrines contained in them. I think it no Trespass upon the Rules of Charity, to suppose our Author had some Reference to these, as they are commonly read and valued among us; and I look on the Assembly's Cate­chism in particular, as struck at in his Discourse, (and no Wonder, when he palpably denies it in some of its essen­tial Points, and declares (by credible Information) against instructing his own, or other [...]ildren of his Charge therein) Besure the distinguishing Principles of it are plainly level'd against.—But I pray God, that this excellent Catechism may still be had in Esteem and Use among us, even to the latest Posterity, notwithstanding the Attempts made to disparage it. O that all were suitably disposed to honour such valu [...] Remains of our worthy Ancestors, and to [Page 27] remember them which have spoken to us the good Word of God, and to follow their Faith, considering the End of their Conversation.—But I come, as was proposed,

2. To rehearse, in our Author's own Words, some of the many injurious Reflections, he has cast on those Expo­sitors and others, and hint at some of his Misrepresentati­ons of their Opinions.—By the Title of his Discourse, Protestant Expositors in general, with many Protestant Preachers and others, who understand his Text to intend the Saints acknowledgement of their own Righteousnesses to be as filthy Rags, all these (I say) stand expresly indited before the World, of Absurdity and Blasphemy in deprecia­ting moral Vertue; and he thus draws their black Cha­racter in the Discourse itself (Page 6.) ‘Certain it is, that the Word of God—has either thro' the Weakness, In­attention and Ignorance, or more criminal Designs of its Expositors, (by some such I say) in all Ages of the World been wretchedly abused, to serve the Purposes of Error, Superstition and Vice.—And perhaps nothing has had a more fatal Tendency to delude the Simple, and harden the Prophane, than judging of Scripture Doc­trines from particular Scraps of Scripture, and from the bare Jingle of Words, &c.’

And then this Gentleman (Page 7.) in enumerating the particular Opinions (concerning Election, original Sin—) held by these Expositors and others, tells us, ‘that for want of attending to the real Design and Drift of the Author, and to the whole current of Inspiration, as to the Point under Examination,’ it has come to pass that when they have met with this or the other historical Pas­sage in Scripture, (several of which he alludes to) "they have rashly concluded," this and the other Doctrine to be founded on the Word of God.—Then he goes on to say, ‘Thus stupified and bewildred with Sounds, without at­tending to the true Sense of Revelation, the pure and perfect Religion of Jesus—is in many Places turned into an idle Speculation, a mysterious Faith, a senseless Supersti­tion, and a groundless Recumbency; and in short, every [Page 28] Thing but what in Fact it is.’—And he observes (Page 8.) ‘The like Delusions, and by the same Means, have been introduced, in judging our spiritual Estate.’ ‘Here he mentions several Instances, and particularly observes how some imagine, God has from all Eternity set his Love up­on them‘Others (says he) you will find amusing themselves, because they have the perfect Righteousness of Christ imputed to them.—And he speaks of ‘their affected Sorrow and groaning for Sin, especially for the Sins of others they never had any Handin:’—which looks like a sarcastical Sneer at those that bewail and lament their own and others Sins and indwelling Corruptions. Perhaps he has not considered that remarkable Text, Ezek. 9. 2, 4. He that was cloathed in Linnen, with the Writer's Inkborn by his Side,—was commanded to go through the midst of the City, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a Mark upon the Foreheads of the Men that sigh and that cry for all the ABOMINATIONS, that be done in the midst thereof.—Our Author appears to be something upon his Guard here, and perhaps with a View to leaving open a Door for his Retreat, in Case his Dis­course should meet with Opposition, has thrust in qua­lifying Clauses, or restraining Phrases, not only in his Account of the Delusions he instances in, but also in his Description of the commonly received Doctrines, by which (as hinted before) he has not a little misrepresented them. For it is evident, by the general run of his Discourse, and by some pointed Passages in particular, that what he strikes at, is the commonly received Notion (as he phrases it) res­pecting one Doctrine & another. And if he really meant not so, but had his Eye to some singular Enthusiastical Delusions, or Antinomian Dotages, I must say, then he has been but beating the Air, and in a great Degree been impertinent. Whereas doubtless he intended the Principles of Calvinists, and has by his soul Misrepresentations thrown a great deal of Dirt upon their Character.

Before he has passed very severe Censures on the commonly received Notion of his Text, and so constructively and ob­liquely [Page 29] on all the Expositors and others that embrace that Meaning of the Text. He seems so offended and incen­sed at what he calls "this modern Stile of filthy Rags, as applied to the Vertues of good Men," that every Page al­most has Indications of his Displeasure at and Contempt for those who make this Application.—Thus he speaks (Page 18.)—‘Shall we call this, I say, filthy Rags?—God forbid! God forbid! Such a Thought should ever enter into our Hearts; and if thro' the Wickedness of them it should happen to steal in, let us look upon it as a greater Evil, and be more solicitous to cast it out, than if we were possessed with seven Devils.—It fol­lows then, according to our Author,—where such a Tho't (upon his Text) has been already admitted by Expositors or others,—and he himself owns it is the Notion commonly received, This must be imputed to the Wickedness of their Hearts, unless a profound Ignorance may afford them some Excuse. And if any will still harbour such a Thought, especially after being instructed and warned by our Author, he declares them to be in a worse Case, than if they were possessed even with seven Devils.—And truly, according to this Gentleman's Discourse, if it be consider­ed how many pernicious Doctrines and Delusions are so nearly connected with the common Notion of his Text, he must needs suppose us, to be in a worse Condition than the Gadarene we read of, Mark 5. who being asked What is thy Name? answered, My Name is Legion, for we are many.—Accordingly our Author (Page 23.) repre­sents this Thought, and the Doctrines commonly connected with it, as the ‘Fictions of weak or disordered Brains, every Article a down-right Affront to commonSense and doubtless referring to those who entertain the same, he there speaks of some ‘who by a few Rabble-charming Sounds are converted into such fi [...]ry Bigots, as to be rea­dy to die, in the Defence of Stupidity and Nonsense? Yea, ‘even to kill—(and that for the Glory of God) all that are so heretical & graceless as not to renounce their Reason in Complaisance to their sovereign Dictates[Page 30] These he describes as the ‘happy Few, that have Sense enough, and da [...]e trust their own Faculties, so far as to judge themselves what is right.—That by no Arts how Sanctimonious soever, can ever be brought to believe, and (much less profess when they don't believe) Things repugnant to the first Principles of Reason.’

Now these Encomiums are doubtless intended for such as join with him, in condemning the common Notion of his Text, and the other common Notions that usually bear it Company: but his foregoing Reflections are levelled a­gainst the Patrons and Abetters of the commonly received Construction of the Text, That our own Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags.—This was evidently his Design, by those Remarks of his, toward the close of the Head he is upon—Page 24.—‘But if this be Revelation and Grace, to vilify humane Nature, and disparage all our Improvements in divine Vertues,—so far, I say, as any take their Con­ceptions from such Corruptions of Christianity, they must necessarily be prejudiced against it. Thunder we ever so loud without previous Lightning, He that be­lieveth not shall be damned, it will signify nothing; for they will be damned, before they will believe.’—These closing Remarks sufficiently shew against whom his In­vectives are multiplied▪ as the Promoters of Libertine No­tions.—And he insinuates, that he himself (horrid to be spoken) will be damned before he will believe the Notion commonly received in these Matters.—Nor can this be wondered at, if it carries such a monstrous Guilt as he in­sinuates, by saying—Pa. 17.—‘Nor can this in Reason be tho't a common Reflection on the divine Being; because it is blaspheming of Him in his dearest Attri­butes.’—So in another Place, Pa. 19, 20.—He repre­sents the commonly received Notion of his Text, as bor­dering upon (if not being in Fact) the unpardonable Sin. His Words are,—‘Blaspheming the miraculous Powers of the Holy Ghost was formerly’ [why formerly? as if it were not also now]—‘called an unpardonable Sin; nor can any Reason be given (if it be done with equal Light [Page 31] and Malice) why reproaching his Fruits and Vertu [...]s▪ should be deemed less beinous, or meet with a less fatal Doom.’ Now, that our Author supposes these Expo­sitors and others, who deem their own Righteousnesses, and the Righteousnesses of the best Men upon Earth, to be as filthy Rags, (in the Sense I have shewn above in the fore­going Part of these Remarks) which he interprets a re­proaching the Fruits and Vertues of the Holy Spirit, are guilty of doing this against Light, if not with Malice, is very evident, from the gross Reflections he casts upon them, as having "shamefully perverted," as having "put a false Gloss and horrid Abuse on the Text, &c. Pa. 9, 10▪ But more clearly still from what he observes,—Pa. 22.—‘After all these recommending Characters (I say) of a truly good Man's own personal Righteousness, it would be too great a Reflection on your Understanding, to sup­pose, there is one Man that does not see the Injustice and Wickedness, the Impiety and Blasphemy, of caling this Righteousness filthy Rags. A great Complement verily this is to his Hearers Understanding: but a very base Reflection at the same Time, on the moral Character, as well as Understanding of all those learned & excellent Expositors and others, who have not, or do not abuse the Text, as I think he has done: this, it seems, has provoked him to a high Pitch of Resentment, so that he can scarce contain himself within any Bounds of Decency, or of com­mon Modesty.—Therefore (to mention another Passage) he breaks out in that rude, abrupt Exclamation—Pa. 19—"The very same Things—(O shocking Thought!) that are commonly stiled filthy Rags"—By this he would ex­press his Indignation and Amazement at the Stupidity and Impie [...]y of those old Protestants, and their Abettors and Followers, who have interpreted the Text, according [...]s what he calls the common Notion of it. "O shocking Thought!" as much as to say, O horrid Abuse of the sacred Text! the most stupid Nonsense! and equal Blasphemy [...] to indulge such a Thought, a greater Evil surely than if they were possessed with seven Devils! or in Virgil's Lan­guage, [Page 32] Monstram horrendum informe ingens cui Lumen a­demptum! O the unparallel'd Blindness! the deep deform­ed tremendous monstrous Darkness, which attends these Ex­positors, and their Followers! that such a Thought ever entred into their Hearts, it was because there was no Light in them! This is the plain Import of our Author's Parenthesis, "(O shocking THOUGHT!)"—

There's one Reflection more, I shall take some Notice of, (tho' of a different Nature from the rest) and that is the remarkable Fling he has at a common Usage we have a­mong us,—That of keeping publick Fasts.—He takes Occasion to say upon it,—Page 9.—‘The Solemnities of a Fast-Day—your Saints that depend on their devo­tional Exercises, not only prefer to all other Duties, but are ready to imagine they are a sufficient Atonement for all their past Vices, and of greater Account [...]'pro­cure the Blessing of Heaven, than all the heathenish Morality, the abominable good Works, that can be preach­ed by all your legal Self-righteous Men on Earth.’ How came our Author to pick out Fast-Days, and not Thanksgiving Days as well, to make them the Subject of his Banter and Derision, when these are some of our usual Solemnities also? I leave others to judge the Reason. But it seems our Author has a wonderful Power of Penetration into the Sentiments of your Saints (as he terms them) on Fast-Days. However, tho' there is Danger on all Hands, of People's falling into the Error hinted at, car­nal Confidence in Duties, yet I presume to say, those who extol personal Righteousness in the Manner our Author very apparently has done, to the Disregard of imputed Righteousness, and who so applaud moral Vertue, to the Neglect of Faith in the Blood of Atonement, seem to me to be of all Men most in Danger of depending on their own Duties, whether devotional Exercises, or vertuo [...]s Practi­ces, and of cherishing a vain Hope, as if those would sufficiently atone for their past Sins, or as if by Works of Righteousness which they have done, and not according to his Mercy, God should save them.

[Page 33]But I now dismiss this, and pass to the next Thing in order.—Which is,

3. To attempt the doing some Justice to the Memory and Character of these injured Expositors and others, on whom our Author has so liberally cast his Reflections and to offer something in Vindication of their Principles so misrepresented and reproached by him.

It would be almost an endless Task, to go over all the Ins [...]tances of Calumny and Satyr, that are of a personal Aspect, and to recite all the Misrepresentations &Abuses, in Relation to Principles, which are to be found in his Discourse, with a particular Reply to each distinctly. And as to some of them it may justly be said, Recitasse est resutasse—to recite them is a sufficient Refutation of them. I shall therefore content my self with the following Re­flections and Replies, which I think may suffice to my present Purpose.

I shall begin, as seems most natural, with some Remarks by Way of Vindication of those Expositors and others, against our Author's more general Reflections & Censures. The Scandal he has thrown out on this Occasion, falls heavy on the Character of many eminent Worthies, from the Re­formation, down to this Day, and of the Ministers in New-England in particular. It is a black Description in­deed he gives of them, while he represents them as weak, inattentive, ignorant, or led by wicked Designs, &c.—But surely if this Gentleman had duly considered his ju­venile Years, whereby he has had but little Opportunity for Inquiry;—And had he consulted that Scripture, 1 Tim. 5. 1. comparing it with Chap. 3. 6.—I think, the serious Meditation hereof must needs have laid him under some Restraint, and taught him a little more Modesty, than to spit in the Face of his Fathers, and stigmatize so many fa­mous Divines, and excellent Christians, as weak, inatten­tive, ignorant and wickedly designing Men,—only because their Exposition of his Text, and their Opinions concur­rent with it, don't agree with his Sen [...]ments.

[Page 34]Our Author appears by his Title-Page, to imagine he has full Warrant for what he has done, from that Charge of the Apostle to Timothy, 1 Epist. 4. 11, 12.—These Things command and teach—Let no Man despise thy Youth—His putting these Words in the Fronti [...]piece of his Dis­course, it seems, he expected would stop the Mouth of all Ob­jectors; but I presume, the Parallel will by no Means hold between the Evangelist, and this our young Preacher; ex­cept perhaps in Point of Age.—Timothy was the Apostle's own Son in the Faith,—Chap. 1. 2. It's well for our Au­thor if he be found deserving of that Character, and not rather an illegitimate Offspring, who concerning Faith has made Shipwreck,—as the Manner of some was even in the Apostle's Days, v. 19.—And if we consider the Words cited by him, in their Connection with what either goes before, or follows in the same Chapter, we shall possibly per­ceive they give no Countenance to our Author's petulant Censures and Reflections.—Let no Man despise thy Youth. It does not mean to flush the young Preacher with a vain-glorious Idea of his Authority, and to excite haughty Airs: but to impress him with a humble Sense of the pe­culiar Need he has to take Care, in such an Age of Life, so exposed to Vanity, Precipitancy, and the Disadvanta­ges arising from want of Experience and Observation, le [...]t he should in his publick Ministration or private Conver­sation behave amiss, or manage imprudently, so as to give just Occasion to others to despise his Youth.—That Timo­thy might know how he ought to behave himself in the House of God, the Apostle being such an one as Paul the Aged, sends him particular Directions, Cautions and Warnings.—He reminds him, v. 1 of the Predictions of the Spirit (alluding as some think to Dan. 11. 3 [...], 39.) speaking expresly, that in the latter Times some shall depart from the Faith, giving [...]eed to seducing Spirits: The for­midable Appearance of which predicted Event, seems too evident in our Day—Whilst some are so visibly fallen from the Truth, and others [...]ving [...]eed to Seducers. Alas! is it not too notorious to be denied, that with Respect to the [Page 35] Belief of the Truth, Gospel-Truth, or the Doctrine of Christ revealed in the holy Scriptures, there is a lamenta­ble Defection in these Times (which in Regard of Error, as well as Vice, are indeed perilous Times,) particularly as I apprehend, in our Author's Discourse.—The Apostle, we may further observe, proceeds, v.6. to tell Timothy, inCase he duly put the Brethren, his christian Hearers, in Remem­brance of what he himself had how been admonished of, and warned against, and if he nourished up himself and them in [...]ound Doctrine, such as Paul preached, and filled his Epistles with, and which the Scriptures lay so great Stress upon, that then he would approve himself a good Minister of Jesus Christ: but not else.—On the whole, I infer, That if young Ministers would avoid having their Youth despised, one of the best Methods they can take, and that on which their future Usefulness and Reputation, as good Ministers of Christ depend, is to look to it that they be not meer Teachers of the Law, or unskilful Preachers of Morality, but that they themselves, and others by their Means, be nourished up in the Words of Faith and sound Doctrine, established in the Faith, as it was once delivered to the Saints.—An another Expedient I may venture to suggest, as a good Preservative, to the young Minister in special, against being despised, is, in the Language of the same Apostle, Rom. 12. 3.—Not to think of himself more highly than be ought to think, but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every Man the Measure of Faith. It was then to be Timothy's Care, in his Conduct, to guard against every Thing that had a Tendency to blemish his Character, as a Christian and a Minister; which would sufficiently defend him from being despised, tho' but a Youth.

But to return,—The Expositors and others, tho' by our Author characterized as weak, inattentive, ignorant, or acting on more criminal Designs,—yet, for my Part, I can't conceive, what these Designs could be, unless they were the Designs of magnifying the Grace of GOD, of exalting the Redeemer, and of humbling vain Man.—These were their [Page 36] avowed Designs, and are consonant to the very Spirit and Scope of the Gospel-Doctrine, as is obvious from the whole Tenor of the sacred Writings: yet will our Author im­pute it to them as a Crime, or what they had a criminal Design in, that they did not with him cry up extrava­gantly the Dignity of human Nature, extol personal good Behaviour, or magnify their own and others moral Ver­tue, beyond all reasonable Bounds, and even set it up for their justifying Righteousness before God,—but rather on the contrary deplored the Weakness of the human Un­derstanding, and the Depravity of the human Will,—and freely confessed their own Weakness and Sinfulness, and Unworthiness in themselves of the divine Favour and Acceptance: grounding this humble Sense of their la­mentable Case on Scripture-Testimony, back'd by their own daily Experience, both which they found uniting to prove, That all their Righteousnesses were as filthy Rags! Or shall we suppose, that the great Disgust our Author has taken up against these Expositors, was from this,—That by the Construction they put on the Words of his Text, it gave Disturbance to the Pope and whole Conclave of Rome, whose Explication is so near of a Piece and the same Make with his. If then the criminal Designs, im­puted to these Expositors, lay in their so interpreting the Scripture as they did, with a View the more effectually to oppose the Popish Heresy, and maintain the Protestant Cause, their pretended Crime is their Glory; and in this they may well triumph, rejoycing in God, that thro▪ Grace they have been enabled to bear a faithful and pub­lick Testimony to the Truth, even as the Truth is in Je­sus;—and not a few of them have by suffering Martyr­dom, chearfully sealed their Doctrine with their very Blood.—Now, whatever the Author may, upon a seri­ous and calm Review of his Discourse, think of the severe Charges therein laid against so many excellent Men, Men of God, Men of Prayer, Men of Piety, Probity, Pene­tration and Learning, exemplary for the Practice of all moral Vertue and religious Duty, mighty in the Scrip­tures, [Page 37] studious (many of them to Admiration) to find out the Mind of God in his Word, faithful to declare it, and careful to transmit the same to Posterity; being truly burning and shining Lights in their several Stations, some (and not a few of them) appearing even as brazen Wall [...] or impregnable Bulwarks against the Here [...]ies of Rome, and Tyrannies of the Popis [...] Hierarchy, principal Founders under Christ of the Protestant Churches, and Pillars in the spiritual House of God, eminent Promoters of the Kingdom of Grace, which spread itself far and wide among the Na­tions, and at length reached these New-England Shores▪ where the God of all Grace in our Beginning-times furnished and adorned the Churches here with Ministers of the Word and Expounders of the Scripture, that were (at least many of them) endowed with uncommon Gifts and Graces Mi­nisterial, Men that had much Communion with God, much Insight into divine Things, and were deeply acquainted, by Study, Experience and Observation, with the Doctrine of Grace and Mystery of Godliness taught in the Gospel; Men, who after Paul's Example aimed principally to know and preach CHRIST and him crucified; whose Zeal to maintain the Faith and Order of the Gospel (now so ex­ploded and ridicul'd by some of their Successors) led them over into this remote and inhospitable Wilderness; where, we have no Reason to Doubt, they served their Genera­tion according to the Will of God, under next to insupe­rable Difficulties, and having fallen asleep, their precious Souls have been taken up to the World of Spirits, ap­pearing (we may venture to say) with Crowns very bright and weighty, in proportion to their arduous Labours of Faith and Patience in the Cause of Christ:—now, I say, that all these our pious Fore-fathers, all the godly Reformers, all Protestant Confessors, Expositors, Preachers, and Professors in general, from the Beginning of the Re­formation, that did not concur in Sentiment with our Author, should fall together under the Lash of this Gen­tleman's Pen, is truly surprizing! Had these Invectives and false Accusations (as I think I may term them without any [Page 38] Breach of good Manners) proceeded from some old hardned Papist, or from an avowed and inveterate Enemy to all Revelation, in that Case Allowances might reasonably be made.—But for a professed Protestant, for one sustaining the Character of a Minister, in a Protestant Church, and One but yet in his Youth, and but as it were of Yesterday, for such a One (I say) to take upon him to rebuke, not a single Elder, but many, and instead of entreating them as [...] thus to behave himself proudly against the Ancient; to traduce the Memory of the Dead, and asperse the Cha­racter of the Living, even of Multitudes of Christ's pre­cious Ministers and People,—This, I must confess, ap­pears to me next to a Prodigy; or, to speak in his own Language, an Instance of Stupidity & Nonsense. It is in­deed one of the greatest Absurdities in Conduct, equal at least to any in Opinion, which those that he speaks of as converted by Rabble-charming Sounds, into fiery Bigots, have been ready to die in the Defence of. But it seems ac­cording to this Writer's Insinuation, Pa. 6. these Expo­sitors criminal Designs respect the Scriptures being "wretchedly abused to serve the Purposes of Error, Super­stition and Vice," and being expounded so as to have had a fatal Tendency to "delude the Simple, and harden the Prophane." If this be not what he intends by the criminal Designs of the Expositors he speaks of, I am quite at a Loss about his meaning. And I must confess, if the Case be in Truth as he insinuates, they must be guilty of criminal Designs indeed, or at best of very perverse Management, and wretched Abuse of the Word of God: But I trust, the contrary has been sufficiently evinced alrea­dy, and may be confirmed in the Course of these Remarks.

Our Author in the next Place intimates (as I [...]uppose) what he thinks the Occasion of this wretched Abuse of God's Word,—that is, judging of Scripture-Doctrines from particular Scraps of Scripture, and from the bare Jingle of Words, without attending to the general Drift and Design of the Author, and the whole Current of Inspiration as to the Point under Examination. I think [Page 39] truly this Gentleman stands here condemned out of his own Mouth▪ and that of the Apostle, Rom. 2. 1. Thou art inexcusable, O Man that judgest—seems justly applica­ble to him, so far as it concerns his Discourse before us: For it must be evident to every observing Reader, how this very Way of judging of Scripture-Doctrines, which he has here censured, runs through the whole of his own Dis­course. His Text itself he has in a Manner treated as an in­dependent Sentence. And tho' he has hinted at one Verse of the Context, yet he has done nothing like analysing, or commenting on the whole, or considering what immediately goes before, or follows this disputed Text, in order to state it's true Meaning; so far from this, that he almost forgets its general Tenor and Form.—As to the Argu­ments all along advanced in his Discourse, they are most­ly enforced only by a single Text or two (without his ap­pearing to attend to their Coherence and Dependance) or in his own Phrase, by particular Scraps of Scripture; and these, many of them at least, seem to me, unjustifiably applied, contrary to the Analogy of Faith, or the Current of sacred Writ.—May he and I remem [...] [...]nd wisely apply those Scripture Caveats and Prohibitions, relating to diminishing from, or adding to the Words of God, Deut. 12. 32. Prov. 30, 5, 6. Rev. 22. 18, 19.—What must we then think of the Discourse under Examination? in which the Author has arbitrarily interpreted the Words of his Text, in a Sense so inconsistent with the Scope of nu­merous parallel or similar Texts, both in the old and new Testament, a few whereof have been produced, and many more might easily be added.—It must be with a very ill Grace that our Author charges that on Expositors which they are not chargeable with, viz. judging of Scripture­Doctrines from particular Scraps of Scripture, in which our Author has signalized himself far beyond any I have met with.—But he goes on—"And from the bare Jingle of Words, without attending to the general Drift and Design of the Author." Now as to the particular Occasion of this his Censure upon them, their expounding his Text con­trary [Page 40] to his Sentiments upon it, I would observe, that it being considered that the inspired Author, in his own and the Church's Name, made this Confession in a solemn Prayer to God, All our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags; had this Gentleman in any Measure attended to the gene­ral Design and Drift of the Prayer, I think he could not easily have missed the true Scope and Meaning of this Con­fession, in particular: And had he attended to this, answe­rably to the Seriousness of the Subject, to the Sacredness of the solemn Assembly, to the Holiness of the Sabbath, and to the Solemnity of the Humiliation-Day in the pre­ceeding Week, to which he speaks of having some Refe­rence, I presume, neither this Gingle of Words nor the Scraps of Scripture would have found a Place in his Discourse; and so his grave Audience had not been tempted to Levity by his using Phrases of so ludicrous a Sound, which run through his Performance in the several Parts of it. See Pag. 5, 9, 17, 23, 24, 25, 28, and elsewhere.—The Indec [...] ­rum of this Language is further aggravated, as it was pre­meditated, it seems, to fix a Blemish on the Expositors he had in view, and to cast an Odium on their Character.—At best it seems like a great Piece of Vanity, for this young Gentleman to stake his Authority and Credit against the Judgment and Reputation of the whole Body of Protestant Expositors in general, both Ancient and Modern, whose Works (many of them) as well as Lives, testify for them, That in Fact they did attend very strictly and conscien­tiously to the Mind of the Spirit, to the true Scope of this, as well as other of the Scripture-Texts, and the general Drift of the inspired Penmen; especially in Regard to the peculiar Doctrines of Christianity, and more particularly that grand Article of Justification by Faith, which they saw so much Stress laid upon in the holy Scriptures; insomuch that both in Principle and Practice these pious and worthy Men renounced all Self­Righteousness, the Idol so much admired by many at this Day;—and in their Preaching never fought to gratify their Hearers with Rabble-charming Sounds, or with Flesh­pleasing [Page 41] and great swelling Words of Vanity, such as we meet with in our Author's Discourse. For instance, "God's choosing, not particular Persons, but whole Nations, and that only to Privileges in this Life,—moral Agency, (or Free-Will)—the new Nature of right Action, the royal Robe of personal Righteousness,—moral Virtue, the Basis and whole Superstructure of the Religion of JESUS,—The moral Rectitude of his Creatures, God's ultimate View,—moral Vertue, the supream Dignity of GOD himself,—Preaching up moral Vertue, in the best Sense Preaching of CHRIST,&c▪ &c.—These are some of the Sounds we hear in our Au­thor's Discourse. But the Expositors he so much con­demns, never fought to tickle itching Ears, with Sounds so gratifying to Flesh and Blood, so pleasing to the Pride and Lusts of Men; they preached both the Law & Gospel, in their distinct Place & Order,& in such a Manner as tended to awaken secure Sinners by the dreadful Sound of the Curse denounced in the Law, and to win Souls to Christ by the joyful Sound of the Promise; proclaiming Christ the Lord our Righteousness & Strength; at the same Time perswading them which believed; to continue in the Grace of God, and to adorn the Doctrine of God their Saviour in all Things, by a Conversation becoming the Gospel. Ac­cordingly we find, Act. 2.42. They continued stedfastly in the Apostles Doctrine and Fellowship.—Now most surely in all this they followed the whole Current of Scripture­Doctrine, Precept, and Example, and were not led either by a bare Gingle of Words, or by mere Scraps of Scripture. But it will be found by an impartial Examination of our Author's Performance, that the heavy Reflections he has levelled at so many great and good Men, will fall upon himself with double Weight.

I have been the larger in Vindication of these Exposi­tors and others against his general Reflections; because I look upon the Truth espoused by them, as struck at, and affronted in the Persons of it's Patrons and Professors.—

I now proceed,

2. To vindicate those Expositors and others against [Page 42] our Author's Reflections and Misrepresentations with Regard to their Interpretations of the Words of his Text in particular, All our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags—These are scattered thro' his whole Discourse; some have (I think) been taken Notice of already, and others will come under Consideration in the Course of this Essay.—I shall therefore at present only single out a Passage or two, in which either wilfully or ignorantly he has misrepre­sented them.—Thus when he is reporting the common Notion of the Prophet's Words, he tells us, (Pa. 10.) ‘The best Righteousness of the most improved Christians has been generally spoken of, as no better a Qualification (even according to the merciful Tenor of the Gospel) to appear before God with Acceptance, than filthy Rags are to dress and adorn the Body for a Visit to the King and Court on Earth.’ But these Expositors and others, when they speak of personal Righteousness as filthy Rags, don't at all respect it under the Notion of a moral Qualification for future Happiness and final Acceptance▪ such constantly affirm the Necessity of inherent Righte­ousness, to make us (in the Gospel-Sense) meet to be Parta­kers of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light: and yet they constantly and consistently renounce it as filthy Rags in Point of Justification before God, being utterly insuffici­ent to answer the Demands of his Law, and procure us an Interest in his special Favour and Acceptance, therefore they conclude with the Apostle, Rom. 5. 2. We have Ac­cess by Faith into this Grace, thro' Jesus Christ: they place their Title to divine Acceptance wholly in Christ's Law fulfilling Righteousness, made their's by Imputation on God's Part, and by a believing Acceptation, or receiving it by Faith, on the Believer's Part, which yet is not of them selves, but of the Grace of God enabling them thereto. Christ (partly) came to call Sinners to Repentance; such as are weary and heavy laden with Sin, he invites to come to him: such as have the Eyes of their Understanding en­lightned to see and be convinced of their own Misery, and Inability to help or rescue themselves from the Force [Page 43] and Weight of the vindictive Justice of God, these and no others will fly to Christ, and lay hold of his Righteous­ness for Life and Salvation. The Expositors—ever re­buked the Spirit of the Covenant of Works, which makes Sinners imagine, it would be Presumption in them to come to Christ, unless they are to such or such a Degree prepa­red, or unless they can bring something valuable with them to recommend them to his Favour and Compassion, some laudable Contritions, Reformations, and moral Vertues. For any to suppose that meer moral Vertue and Self-Righte­ousness will recommend them to the Favour of God, is no better than for some high-handed Malefactor or Traytor to pretend to approach the Court or Presence of his Prince with­out a Pardon first obtained. Divine Pardon is obtained by the Righteousness of Christ, and not our own; because the Righteousness of the best Men living has so much of Imperfection and Pollution mixed with it, that Expositors and all others who duly consider the Case, must acknow­ledge with the Church by the Prophet in the Text, that all our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags. It must therefore be unreasonable, and I think, contrary to Scripture, for any to suppose, that such imperfect polluted sinful Crea­tures as the best of Men are in this Life, should obtain Favour with a just and holy God, without the perfect spot­less Righteousness of Christ imputed, and as has been said received by Faith: This, according to Scripture, and in the Sense of these Expositors, is the only justifying Righteous­ness, "even according to the merciful Tenor of the Gospel." Howbeit, at the same time they denied not, that where any have been sanctified thro' Faith which is in Christ, and so in some Measure have their Fruit unto Holiness, God is well pleased herewith, and accepts and rewards it: yet not for it's own Sake (it being very imperfect) but for Christ's Sake; and on the Account of his Righteousness: for in him only, as Mediator between God and Man, is God well­pleased, for in him the Rigour of the divine Law is taken away, and not by Works of Righteousness which we have done or can do.—This Gentleman's asserting, that per­sonal [Page 44] Righteousness hath been generally spoken of, as no better a Qualification in the spiritual Case, then filthy Rags are in the civil Case, This is a gross Misrepresentation of the common Notion of the Text, and tends both to mis­lead his unwary Readers, and disparage many sound Ex­positors, without any Colour of Reason.

But I proceed to take some Notice of another very ex­ceptionable Passage; I think it an Imposition on his Rea­ders, and a great Abuse upon these Expositors & others, to in [...]inuate, as he does, P [...]g. 25—That they (absolutely speaking & without any Manner of Caution or Restriction) ‘asperse moral Vertue as nothing worth in the Sight of God, no more than filthy Rags’! And that when "exhorting others to the Practice of Righteousness," they are nevertheless ‘constantly telling them perhaps in the same Breath, that all their Righteousness when they have obtained it, will be NOTHING BUT filthy Rags. This, I say, is a manifest Abuse; for no learned Calvinist Expositor or Preacher under the Sun, I presume, ever used such irrespective or unlimitted and unguarded Language, as our Author here pretends: I may with the utmost Safety, I think, challenge him to produce so much as a sin­gle Instance. It appears to me a very groundless Reflecti­on, if by moral Vertue he means true Gospel-Holiness, (in which Sense I think he can't be understood, by the whole Scope of his Discourse before us)—However, let him name the Man that ever asserted it as nothing worth in the Sight of God, speaking absolutely and without any Limitation or particular Respect: Let him name the Man who was constantly telling the People, All their Righteousness, when they have obtained it, will be nothing but filthy Rags, in every Sense, and in all Respects. And if he can't, or won't do this, what must we judge of his Misrepresenta­tion, but that it is wilful? and therefore must stand as a de­signed Reproach, with all unprejudiced Judges; and such as is very much aggravated in the Circumstances of it,—delivered on the Lord's Day,—Sermon-wise,—and level'd against many of his Fathers and Superiours; so is a Breach [Page 45] of a variety of Commandments in the moral Law!—However, I would not forget to Note by the Way, that amidst all his Exclamations against these Expositors and Preachers, for depreciating moral Vertue, our Author has seen fit here to make a Concession in their Favour; (tho' it be done in an ill Manner,—with a View, as it plainly appears, to make them guilty of a Self-Contradiction▪)—The Concession is implied in the Passage last refer'd to; which begins thus,—‘To speak freely, I never yet saw with what Face a Man can pretend to exhort others to the Practice of Righteousness, who is continually telling them’—(the rest you had before) It seems then that however this Gentleman is incensed against those Calvi­nistical Ministers, he here appears willing to grant, that they don't neglect exhorting others to the Practice of Righ­teousness; and certainly it were the highest Injustice to the Memory of the Dead, and to the Character of the Living, not to allow them the Repute of their exhorting to the Practice of Righteousness: so that, for ought I see, they still preserve some little Kindness for moral Vertue, after all that is pretended about their depreciating it, even their Enemies themselves being Judges.—Indeed such as our Author intends thus to fault, don't exhort to the Practice of Righteousness, just in such a Manner as perhaps he & some others may,—as if they look'd upon Righteousness to be meerly a Habit, acquired by repeated Acts: But are wont to exhort others as the Scriptures do, to seek first the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness, to seek to God in earnest Prayer, accompanied with the diligent Use of the Means of Grace, that he would put his Spirit within them, and purify their Hearts by Faith, and implant in them a Principle of Righteousness, and enable them by Strength derived from Christ thro' Faith to work Righteousness, and to shew their Faith by good Works, and Acts of moral Virtue.—Tho' they lay out much of their Ministry, it's true, in exhibiting a Redeemer, and preaching Salvation by Grace thro' Faith in him; yet agreable to the Charge given them Tit. 3. 8. one View they have in so constantly affirming [Page 46] these Things, is, That they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good Works.

However, I perceive our Author is stumbled at their Conduct; and the Mystery with him lies here,—that he does not know very well how to reconcile their Exhorta­tions to the Practice of Righteousness, with their Doctrine of Justification by imputed Righteousness, or (which comes to the same Thing) with their telling People, that in Relation to that Affair, All their Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags: and he says upon it, as is before hinted, "I never saw with what Face," they could thus exhort & thus teach at the same time. Doubtless he reckons it a very glaring Contradiction, and an odious Inconsistency, that requires a good Stock of Assurance in any to venture upon it.—But to speak freely also in my Turn, I note here, That it is not hard to discern what a Face our Author put on, when he gave himself such a Liberty, beyond all Bounds of Modesty, to cast (as doubtless he intended) Reproach on the Ministers and Preachers of the Gospel in general thro' the Land, not only such as are surviving at this Day in their Charges, but those also that are gone to Rest in the several past Generations: For it is well known, that the Ministers, mostly, and I may venture to say, near to a Man, were in their Principles Calvinistical, as now they are distinguished; which Note of Distinction has but late­ly arose among us, occasioned very much by the late Growth and Discovery of Arminianism, which has now made it's open and formidable Appearance in some of our Churches.

Our Author might perhaps offer this Flight of Re­flection on so many eminent Ministers of Jesus Christ, as supposing it to add a Grace to his Discourse, and be the more taking with the unthinking Part of his Audience (and Readers) and all that are prejudiced in Favour of the Errors he had advanced.

But let that be as it will, this I am sure of, If I may be allowed to depend upon my Bible, which tells me it plainly, That without Faith it is impossible to please God.—If so, I [Page 47] hope I may be allowed to say, without being branded with the Imputation of a Blasphemer for depreciating moral Vertue, that whatever Pretences are made to Religion, which are but meerly moral, the most refined Vertues, void of a saving Faith in Christ, and without his imputed Righte­ousness, will be but as filthy Rags,—and can give no more Title to final Justification in the Sight of God, than if a Man cut off a Dog's Neck, or offered Swines Blood in Sacrifice under the Law.

Our Author goes on in his Reflections upon these Ex­positors and Preachers. He represents them not only as telling People, that all their Righteousnesses are nothing but filthy Rags; but insinuates also, as if they were constantly telling them in the Words following, (Pa. 25) ‘God is already satisfyed in all his Demands, his Law, his Ho­nour, his rigorous relentless Justice, are all satisfyed, and there is no [...]hing left for Man to do, but to believe this undoubtingly, and—to rely upon it, that he is righ­teous, and shall finally be accepted as such.’—And then proceeds to say—‘The Believer indeed may, if he please, out of meer Generosity, add Works of Righteous­ness; but really there is no Need of it; for his main Interest is secure without it.’—All this, our Author insinuates, is the Language of those Preachers, that believe and preach the Doctrine of Christ's Satisfaction and parti­cular Redemption. But those that are thus free to offer their magisterial Censures, may do well to give heed to the Caution given, Jam. 3. 14, 15.—Lie not against the Truth,—This Wisdom is not from above.—Those Persons indeed that are prejudiced in their Minds against the Doctrine abovementioned, and other fundamental Doct­rines of Christianity, may with this Gentleman darken the Truth—and put Things under very wrong & disadvanta­gious Representations; which can't be help'd that I know of: but for One that wears the Character of a Minister, thus to reproach the Doctrines of Christ, and the Professors of them, who have been & are the Glory of this Land and of our Churches, as Assertors of the Truth as it is in Christ [Page 48] Jesus, I think is hard to be accounted for; especially when delivered in such a ludicrous Manner, tending to [...]xpose them to Ridicule & Contempt.—The Calvinists, against whom he designs his Reflections, distinguish be­tween the Purchase of Redemption, by the atoning Blood of Christ, and the Application of Redemption, which is made by the sanctifying Grace of Christ: so that altho' Christ has already satisfied the Law and Justice of God, by what he did in his Estate of Humiliation; yet that nothing further remains for him to do, in his Estate of Ex­altation, is denied; nor indeed can it be supposed, that there is nothing for Man to do, but to believe this undoubt­ingly:—For, the Faith of those our Author intends, is such as includes Consent, as well as Assent, and is a believing with the Heart, as well as with the Head: it is not meer­ly a Speculative believing the Doctrine of Christ's Satis­faction, tho' ever so undoubtingly; but implies an active receiving the Atonement, and laying hold on the Hope set be­fore us, and committing our Souls into the Redeemer's Hand, to be justified by his Blood, and sanctified by his Spirit, and kept by his Power unto eternal Salvation: This they look upon to be Faith unfeigned, the Faith of God's Elect. But do they, by all this, make void the Law thro' Faith? God forbid! yea, they establish the Law. They don't think the Law cancelled by the Blood of Christ, in Point of preceptive Force, or Obligation as a Rule of O­bedience, tho' they hold it to be so, in it penal Demands as a Covenant of Works; but assert the Believer's Obli­gation in Point of Duty, to be diligently following every good Work; and don't imagine this to be left to human Choice, as a Matter of Indifferency, or meer Generosity, as our Author insinuates; and they hold, that true Faith, wherever it is, will produce Obedience; and exhort to Obedience, as the true Fruit of that Faith; and they ex­hort Christians to be fruitful in good Works, that they may have Fruit abounding to their joyful Account at last: Yet caution Men, not at all to depend on their own per­sonal Righteousness, but have their entire Dependance on [Page 49] Christ's Righteousness imputed, as their only Title to Ac­ceptance with God, and to esteem all their own Righteous­ness to be but as filthy Rags, in Respect of Justification be­fore God, as has been said, and not trust in it as any Re­commendation of them to his pardoning and accepting Grace.—On the whole, I think▪ it sufficiently appears [...] very abusive Reflection this Author casts on those Mini­sters he points at in his Discourse, where he insinuates (Pa. 24, 25.) That according to their Notions of "Revela­tion and Grace," The most glorious Dispensation of the ‘Gospel is conceived of only as a Scheme calculated to allow Men the Practice of their Vices here, with Impu­nity herea [...]ter:’—That according to their Notion of his Text, ‘Purity of Heart and Sanctity of Manners will be of no Service to Men; and consequently this must lead Men into an utter Contempt of those Things that are of infinite Importance for them to esteem & practise.’ ‘Surely, says he, Men will never take much Pains for that, which will be of no Service to them when they have got it.’ Here also, as in the other Parts of his Dis­course, our Author too evidently aims at amusing the World, by blackening the Characters of faithful Ministers that pass under the Calvinistick Denomination, and there­by prejudicing the Minds of Men against the Doctrines they hold. For unless he or any others can prove from Scrip­ture-Testimony or Reason, that purity of Heart and sanctity of Manners are comprized in meer moral Vertue, or Self-Righteousness;—I say, unless this can be proved, the Argument can be of no Force.—But it is certain, that it is by Faith that the Heart is purified, thro' the Operation and Influence of the holy Spirit, and true sanctity of Manners proceeds from a Heart purified by this Faith, as the genuine Fruit and Effect of it. Now the short of the Argument, if I understand it, lies here—Either moral Vertue, i. e. a Man's own Self-Righteous­ness, will intitle him to Justification in the Sight of God, or it will not; and that it will not, I suppose, is sufficiently proved by what has been already said on this [Page 50] Head. Notwithstanding, true moral Vertues or good Works, are allowed by all sober Divines that I know of, to be good and profitable to Men, as well as honorary to God, and approved in Christ.—They are far from saying, that the Sanctity of regenerate Men will be of no Service to them: for Godliness is profitable unto all Things, having Promise of the Life that now is, and of that which is to come, 1 Tim. 4. 8.—And without Holiness no Man shall see the Lord, Heb. 12. 14.—Now the Godliness and Holiness spo­ken of here, is wrought in the Heart and Life of the truly Regenerate by the powerful Agency of the Spirit of God and of Christ; which all the mere Morality in the World, in its most [...]fi [...]ed Acceptation, can never reach to the least Degree of.—But assomething of this Kind has been spoken before, I shall proceed in the next Place,

3. To vindicate those Expositors and others, against some further Reflections and Misrepresentations of our Author, respecting sundry important Points of Doctrine, which are allied to the common Notion of his Text, and which he endeavours to expose to equal Ridicule.

It mayn't be amiss to premise here, that our Author has given us abundant Occasion to think of those Obser­vations of his, Pa. 22.—‘The most rational and divine Scheme of Religion may become despicable in the Eyes of the World, by Misrepresentations: even Christianity itself, tho' capable of a rational Defence, well attested by external Evidence, and when viewed in it's native Purity and Simplicity, void of all corrupt Glosses and human Additions, carrying in it the clearest internal Marks of it's divine Original; even this Religion, I say, may be so represented, as to render it ridiculous in the Opinion of sen [...]ible thinking Men.’—I am much mistaken if our Author has not furnished us with an Ex­ample of this in his own Discourse, which carries so much of Misrepresentation in it. I think, he has greatly misrepre­sented even Christianity itself, by his corrupt Glosses; if not by human Additions, which seem too evident, yet at least by Substractions.—He apparently disowns same great [Page 51] and important Doctrines of the Gospel, under Colour of rejecting the "Fictions of weak and disordered Brains," and because he ‘can never be brought to believe Things repugnant to the first Principles of Reason, and is there­fore naturally led to conclude that no Scheme can be right, no Doctrine from GOD, that abates the Mo­tives of Vertue, or discourages the Practice of any Duty.’ Well! But what is the Scheme, what are the Doctrines, he here has his Eye upon? This we may learn from the Instan­ces he has given us in the Introduction to his Discourse, Pa. 7 & 8.—Where having spoken concerning Exposi­tors ‘judging of Scripture-Doctrines from particular Scraps of Scripture, and from a mere Jingle of Words,’ he then proceeds to give a Specimen in several Particulars; by which it appears, it is the old Protestant Doctrines he strikes at, and endeavours to render them despicable in the Eyes of the World by Misrepresentations.

This may be considered in several of his Instances; and

1. In the Doctrine of Election. His Words are "Hence (i. e. by judging of Scripture-Doctrines from Scraps and Gingles, and for want of Attention—) ‘it has come to pass, that when Men read of God's choosing whole Nations to certain Privileges, (and those in this Life only) they have rashly concluded, that particular Persons are [...] conditionally chosen to eternal Life hereafter.’—This is a manifest Contempt designed to be cast on the Doct­rine of Election, and on all them that receive and profess it, and to harden Men's Minds against it:—and ther [...]re he proceeds to tax them of rashly drawing a Conclusion, in a Matter of Faith, respecting Eternity and the Souls of Men. If the Faith, professed by Protestants, of a per­sonal eternal Election of Grace, were founded on such a rash Conclusion as this Author insinuates, the World is bound to give him Thanks for the Discovery he has made of so gross an Error; but I suppose it will appear, that the Er­ror is on his Side.—For Election is a pure Act of sovereign Grace laid in the secret and eternal Counsel of God; and is therefore unconditional, as to Man, who then had no o­ther [Page 52] being but what was in God's Mind and Purpose, in Time to bring into being.—But as the Design plainly is, to fasten a Reproach on this Doctrine of Election, by insi­nuating, that they that believe this, preach and teach, th [...] if we are elected we have nothing to do, our Salvation is sure:—But wilt thou know, O vain Man, that Faith with­out Works is dead? He that has willed the End, wills also the Means leading to it; and so far as Holiness may be said to be Conditional of Happiness, as a necessary moral Disposition of the Subject, or in the Nature of a Means to the End, they are both included in the Idea, when Men are said to be chosen to Salvation; for Sanctification, is one Part of the Salvation they are chosen to.—The Reproach, which is intended against our holy Profession, we chuse to bear, rather than give heed to delusive Doctrines. We thank God, we have a more sure Word of Prophecy, to which we shall do well to take all diligent Heed; which will reflect greater and better Light, than is to be found in any of the best Productions, of fallible and uninspired Writers, not excepting the Discourse before us.—As to the particular Point now in View, I am perswaded, not­withstanding what this Gentleman has suggested, that every one who is in any Measure acquainted with the printed Labours of those who (by Way of Distinction) are called Predestinarians, knows, they do not, as our Author insinu­ates, ground their Opinion of an eternal personal Election merely on historical Passages in the Bibles relating to the Conduct of divine Providence towards Nations, tho' they are Gospeliz'd and in a Covenant-State, externally; but take their Principles from doctrinal Texts, which the Scripture abounds with, and which will admit of no other rational and consistent Sense. They find that the Scrip­tures, in setting forth the glorious Scheme of Man's Sal­vation by Jesus Christ, represent the Foundation of it as laid in the eternal Purpose of Grace, or the Counsel of God (as is before hinted) before the World was; and accord­ingly that they speak of the saved of the Lord as from the Beginning chosen to Salvation; as chosen in Christ before th [...] [Page 53] Foundation of the World, that they should be holy, (not as being chosen upon the Prevision of any Thing of moral Vertue, in and from themselves, moving God to elect them, but from mere free Grace, with a View that they should be holy) and as in Time called according to his Purpose,—called by his Grace—according to his Purpose which he purposed in himself.—We are also told by the un­erring Word of God, that as many as were ordained to eter­nal Life, believed: and as many as believed, are said to have believed thro' Grace; all which are said to be kept by the Power of God through Faith unto Salvation. And we are told, The Foundation of God standeth sure, having this Seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And these, tho' they are his, on the sure Foundation of his electing Love, yet are commanded to depart from Iniquity; whether the omission of Duty, or commission of Sin.—For, as the A­postle states the Case, Rom. 8. 29, 30. (representing the whole in one connected View) Whom be did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified. Here we have an inspired Writer drawing the admirable Plan of Man's Redemption: Where it is observable,—He first lays the Basis of it in Predestination, or eternal Election; and then carries the Execution of it thro' sundry Gradations in Time, and at length compleats it in future e [...]erlasting Glory; when the Top-Stone shall be brought forth with the Shoutings of Grace! Grace!—This small Sketch of the Scripture-Proof commonly brought by Protestants, to support their Tenet respecting personal eternal Election, is enough to shew, that they are not rash in their Conclusion in the Point of Election: but that our Author rather ap­pears rash in charging them as he does, in his fore-men­tioned Insinuation, as tho' this Doctrine of the Election of Grace, and Faith in it, lay merely in some historical Pas­sages of Scripture, referring to God's choosing whole Nations to certain Privileges, and those in this Life only. Here we find a farther Essay to prejudice People's Minds against this Doctrine, and a Proof also of the Author's denying it, without any Arguments to prove the contrary. [Page 54] So that the Rashness reflected on others, falls necessarily on himself.

He proceeds on the like Strain of Reflection, in a fol­lowing Paragraph, Pa. 8. ‘Some, and those not a few, are full of Hope in God; because, as they imagine, he has from all Eternity, and that not only without any Rea­son, but in direct Opposition to the very Nature & essen­tial Constitution of his moral Government, set his Love upon them.—The Doctrine of the Decrees, in common with every other Scripture-Doctrine, is liable to be abused to vile and pernicious Purposes; and it's readily granted, if a Man can give no other Reason of the Hope that is in him, but only that he imagines himself from all Eternity chosen to Salvation, such a Man has just Ground to fear, that he imagines a vain Thing, and that his Hope will make him ashamed.—The true Christian's hope of E­lection is built not upon mere Imagination, but upon Scrip­ture-Evidence of Sanctification, wrought in him by the Power of the Holy Spirit, together with his own Experi­ence, that thro' Grace, (and not by meer moral Duties) he is enabled more and more to die unto Sin, and live unto Righteousness.—If then we may lay Stress upon Scrip­ture-Testimony with Respect to the Doctrine of the De­crees, and consequently, that of the Election of Grace; the Insinuations of this Author, by way of Contempt there­on, are mere Amusements, and tend only to darken the Counsel of God; which I shall endeavour to prove, from plain Scripture-Evidence; and those that will not shut their Eyes against clear Gospel-Light, must, I think, own their Delusion, that plead the contrary. Let every one then diligently apply their Minds to the Scriptures above mentioned, and to such Texts, as I shall further produce. See Rom. 5. 8, 10. God commendeth his Love towards us, in that while we were yet Sinners, Christ died for us.—When we were Enemies, we were reconciled to God, by the Death of his Son.—Were they not all Sinners and Enemies, for whom Christ died? And was it not God's Love to them that lay in the Bottom of all? Was not this a Love ex­isting [Page 55] and operating, by way of Benevolence, in the Mind and Purpose of God, before Christ actually died for them? Yea, a Love which from the Beginning purposed their being reconciled to God by the Death of his Son? Are they not said to be redeemed by the precious Blood of Christ, Who verily was fore-ordained before the Founda­tion of the World, 1 Pet. 1. 20.—What other Date then could there be of God's electing Love, which was the Spring of their Salvation by Christ, but from all Eternity? Surely God hath loved his chosen People from Everlast­ing,—and if we love him, it is because he first loved us, 1 Joh. 4. 19—He loved us while we were yet Enemies. So that his first loving us was without any Reason, as there was no Motive on our Part, to engage his Love to us; and not only so, but it was in direct Opposition to the Letter of the Covenant of Works, that Law or Rule of Government, which God placed Man under originally, and to the Demands of his vindictive Justice, on his Trans­gression of it; yet the Wisdom of God contrived a won­derful Expedient for the Satisfaction of his violated Law and affronted Justice, in the Obedience and Sufferings of his own incarnate Son, who gave himself a Sacrifice for us; so that Sinners might reap the Benefit of electing Love, in a perfect Consistency with the Honour of his moral Government, without breaking in at all upon it's essential Constitution, or subverting its essential Designs: CHRIST having truly fulfilled all Righteousness, (agrea­ble to what we find, Eph. 3. 9,—11.) As his Peo­ple's Surety, and being the End of the Law for Righteous­ness unto every one that believeth.—And all that are given to Christ by the Father, shall come unto him.—Who shall dare to call God's Sovereignty into Question? It plain­ly appears, that it is sovereign Grace, which ordained them that believe unto eternal Life.—Therefore hath he Mercy on whom he will have Mercy.—Observe how the Apostle silences all Cavils upon this Head, Rom. 9. 20. Nay, but O Man, who art thou, that repliest against God!—Hath not the P [...]tter Power over the Clay &c. And hear what the [Page 56] Lord by a Voice from Heaven answered Joh, Chap.40.2.—Shall be that contendeth with the Almighty, instruct him! He that reproveth God (as, in any Case, upon the whole, either acting or purposing, not only without any Reason, but in direct Opposition to the Nature and essential Con­stitution of his moral Government) let him answer it.—Surely it well becomes us in every Case to revere & adore, rather than to contend and reprove. The Apostle has set us an Example, Rom. 11. 33,—36. O the Depth of the Riches both of the Wisdom and Knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his Judgments, & his Ways past finding out! for who hath known the Mind of the Lord? or who hath been his Counsellor? or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed to him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all Things: To whom be glory for ever. Amen.

I proceed now to another of our Author's Reflections.

2. Another Instance he brings, of Expositors rashly concluding—respects the Doctrine of original Sin.—He thus states the Case, Pa. 7. ‘That when they have laid before them the Character of a very loose and abandon­ed People, who by their own long practised Wickedness have rendered themselves the Children of Wrath, and fitted themselves for Destruction,—they are induced to vilify human Nature itself, with the same vicious Cha­racter.’—Here we have him insinuating again, as if Protestant Expositors, and such as join with them in the Point of Original Sin, had nothing to support or counte­nance their Opinion, but some Passages of historical Scripture grosly misapplied. He doubtless alludes to such Texts as these, Gen. 6. 5. Psal. 14. 1,—3. Eph. 2. 1,—3.—Which, I suppose, our Author would have considered only as spoken in Reference to the corrupt Condition of the Men of the old World,—the People of the Jews in some remarkable Season of epidemical prevailing Dege­neracy,—and the Citizens of Ephesus in their heathen State: and I suppose, he would have these Texts interpreted as only describing them (respectively) from the actual Wick­edness [Page 57] of their Lives, and not at all implying any Account of what they were by native Disposition.

But as to the first Text—Gen. 6. 5.—I think, this Gen­tleman must see his Mistake in such a Thought, if he will only compare the above-named first Text with Gen. 8. 21.—where it is declared by God himself, who knows the Hearts of Men, their State and Dispositions, that they were the same in the new World, viz. after the Flood, as they were in the Old before it: for God pronounces up­on all Men indefinitely, that the Imagination of their Heart is Evil from their Youth, and continually so, accord­ing to the natural Bent & Bias of the Mind. Now does God by this vilify human Nature! or do Expositors by believing what God has revealed Man to be by Nature, and teaching the Doctrine of original Sin, induce Men to vilify human Nature?—This Doctrine therefore is not received rashly, but upon divine Testimony. Let our Author then solemnly consider in the Fear of God, where his Reflection will at last terminate, unless he can prove the Case to be otherwise than it is here represented.

And as to the next Scripture mentioned above, Psal. 14. 1,—3. I desire this Gentleman to compare it with Rom. 3. 10,—12. where the Apostle Paul recites much of that Psalm, and applies it to prove, in Regard of Gentiles as well as Jews, that they are all under Sin: And what can this Author's sharp Reflection on Expositors and others be, but a tacit Reflection on the inspired Writer himself, who in the like Way applied Texts, even as he was mov­ed by the Holy Ghost?—And now as to the last mentioned Text, Eph. 2. 1,—3. It is plain that the Apostle did not design meerly to describe a State of Heathenism; but had in View the State of Nature, common to all Mankind.—For in his Description of the Ephesians, he not only speaks of their Conversation in Times past, but also points out the Source of their actual Wickedness, the Lusts of the Flesh, and Desires of the Mind; and accordingly declares it of them expresly, that they were by Nature Children of Wrath, even as others, whether Je [...] or Gentiles.—Nay, it's worthy [Page 58] of Observation, the Apostle not only mentions othe [...] indefinitely, but extends his Description universally unto all; and comprehends even himself in this whole Descrip­tion; saying, Among whom also WE ALL had OUR Conver­sation,—in the Lusts of OUR Flesh—and were (we were) by Nature Children of Wrath,—even when WE were dead in Sins (v. 5—)—Like as the Psalmist, when repenting of actual Sin, runs up to the Fountain-Head and Original of all, a corrupt Nature. Psal.51. 5. Behold, I was shapen in Iniquity, and in Sin did my Mother conceive me. Was this David's Case alone? No verily; we all, the whole Race of Adam, are, were, and shall be, conceived and shapen in like Manner.—For this we have also the Apostle's Testi­mony, tho' not in the same Words, but the like Meaning, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, before noted; and in his Epistle to the Romans he does the same, yet more re­markably: for there he not only represents Sin as Epi­demical and Native, but Hereditary; descending to Adam's Posterity throughout all Generations in Succession; pointing out the true Origin of this universal Corruption of human Nature, and resolving it into Adam's Fall.—He perempto­rily and repeatedly asserts, By ONE Man's Disobedience MANY were made Sinners.By ONE Man Sin enter'd into the World, and Death by Sin.—Therefore by the Offence of ONE—Judgment came upon ALL Men to Condemnation—Rom. 5. 12, 18, 19.—Such Texts as these, plainly of a doctrinal Aspect, are the principal Scripture-Proofs, relied on to support the Doctrine of original Sin, as commonly received by Protestant Expositors.—And now it may be supposed, our Author will excuse the Apostle from the Im­putation of Weakness and Rashness in his Conclusions▪ and under his Umbrage and Authority the poor Expositors—will(we hope) escape the hard Censures of this Author and others for the future,—for vilifying human Nature it self, as is pretended.

Many Things might be offered here for the further Confirmation of this weighty scriptural Doctrine; as, after what has been said, I may venture to call it.—But▪ I [Page 59] shall only add, That tho' all have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God, in one common Fall, yet there are some that by a wicked & profligate Life do indeed vilify human Nature, and make themselves more the Children of Wrath, than they were in their native State.—And tho▪ some are restrained by Grace, and others perhaps by the influence of a religious Education or otherwise, yet naturally all have in an evil Heart the Seeds or Principles of all that Wickedness, which is ever practised by the vilest and most abandoned Sinners under the Sun. So that in this Respect even Infants, in a State of Nature, are of a vicious Character, in the Sight of a holy and Heart-searching God; the very same Character, inKind, with that of the most dissolute and hardned in Wickedness.

It is undoubted, that Christ is a Saviour to Infants, as well as others, and he is a Saviour only to Sinners.—Ac­cordingly all that he died for, have this Character expresly ascribed to them in common. Rom. 5. 6, 8.—Christ died for the Ungodly—While we were yet Sinners, Christ died for us. And 1 Pet. 3. 18. Christ also hath once suffered for Sins, the Just for the Unjust.—So then, if Infants are included in the Number of them for whom Christ died, they are also in­cluded among those, who in the Account of Scripture sustain the Character of Sinners, Ungodly, Unjust.—And hence it appears, there is no specifical (but only a gradual) Difference, between the moral Character of an unregenerate Babe, and that of a Man long inured to Wickedness. Else, for ought I see, the Practice of Infant-Baptism must be gi­ven up.—If our Author denies original Sin, in the Sense I have shewn, I apprehend it proper for him to join himself to the Anabaptists, or some other such Sect, as unworthy of Fellowship with the Churches here, or with the established Church at Home, according to their primitive Profession and Constitution.

3. The next Instance of our Author's Reflections on these Expositors, that I shall take Notice of, is what respects the Doctrine of Efficacious Grace.—His Words are these▪ ‘That when they hear of our being saved by Grace, [Page 60] they conceive of it so as to destroy all moral Agency, and set themselves down with this vain Thought, that no­thing on their Part is necessary to Salvation, but if they are designed for it, they shall irresistably be driven into Heaven, whether they will, or not: And if they are [...]ot, no Prayers, or Endeavours will avail.’

The manifest Tendency (if not Design) of this Author's Discourse in this Place, and in other Parts of it, is, to ren­der the essential Doctrines profess'd in these Churches ge­nerally, as odious in the Eyes of People as possible: And he here strikes at our Doctrine of Conversion, insinuating, that People are lead hereby to draw corrupt Conclusions, viz. That if they are to be saved by Grace, then in Point of Means they have nothing required of them, but are ex­cused from all Duties and Endeavours on their Part, and as he represents it, If they are design'd for Heaven, they shall irresistably be driven into it, whether they will or not. We may observe, in what a scoffing and deriding Manner he treats the holy Things of God, and how he imposes on the Ignorant. This is the Fruit of his own Invention, however he may pretend to personate others in it,—and calculated exactly to the Genius of the profane and irre­ligious Part of Mankind. For I suppose, this Author or any other can't produce any single Instance, among such as are sober, religious and intelligent Christians (much less among learned Expositors and Preachers) holding this Doctrine I am speaking of, that will so much as think they have nothing at all to do: when they have so much Experience of the Remains of Corruption in them, through the Depravity of their Natures, that needs to be mortifi­ed and subdued, and therefore labour constantly, in the Use of God's appointed Means, to work out their Sal­vation with Fear and Trembling; And know, that if ever they expect to have an Entrance ministred to them into Heaven, they must use all Diligence to make their Calling and Election sure, and follow Holiness with unceasing De­ [...]ir [...]s and Endeavours to the last.

It is therefore but a meer Amusement and Reproach, [Page 61] for him to charge as he does, the Expositors and others I am labouring to vindicate, & the Doctrines taught by them. There are indeed many poor in considerate Souls, among the unthinking Multitude, that are ready to apply this Doctrine to such a perverse Purpose.—For there are none of the Doctrines of R [...]vel [...]tion, how plain, practical and important [...]oever, but what have sometimes and by some evil disposed Persons been wretchedly abused; nay, none of the first Principles of Reason, but what have often been shamefully pe [...]verted. Yet shall these, and the Preachers and Professors of them, be reproached on this Account!—The Apostle Paul in his Day complained of some, that altho' the Law was just and good, yet they did not use it lawfully; and that they perverted the Gospel of Christ.—The Apostle Peter also complains of some, that they wrested Paul's Epistles, as also they did the other Scriptures, to their own Destruction. No wonder then, if in our Day of evi­dent Declension, as we plainly find, there be some who even destroy the Faith, by their pretended rational S [...]hemes. There is, I think, equal Force and Pertinence in the Apostle's Language and Arguing, Rom. 6.—What shall we say then? Shall we continue in Sin, that Grace may a­bound? God forbid!—For ye are not under the Law, but under Grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the Law, but under Grace? God forbid! It seems, the Apostle's Doctrine of Grace was incident to the same Abuse, and probably there were some in that Day who made just the same malignant, but impotent Cavils against the apostolical Doctrine of Grace, as our Author has done against the professed Calvinistical Doctrine of Grace, which is but one and the same; pretending, that "it destroys all moral Agency." Now let this Gentleman try how he can fairly clear the Apostle's Doctrine from this Prejudice or Objection; which, I think, lies equally against both.—It seems by this Author, the Expositors or Ministers of the Word must never presume to talk of Persons being saved by Grace, through Faith,—le [...]t some perversly disposed should construe it as a destroying all moral Agency, or [Page 62] a teaching Men to neglect all Pr [...]rs and Endeavours and Concern in the Case.—I do not think, what this Author says in Banter on the Doctrine of Grace▪ worth any Notice,—only as he appears to ridicule that Doctrine of divine Revelation in Ep [...]. 2. 4▪—9▪—Which I wish he himself, with all of the li [...]e Mind, may d [...]ly [...] more maturely meditate on, les [...] they fight against God, in denying the Truths he has delivered to us in the s [...]cre [...] Oracles.

None, that I know of, deny Man to have in his Nature the moral Faculty, called Will; or deny, in every Sense, it's Freedom in acting.—But then, we are to distinguish between natural Liberty, and spiritual. This latter is the glorious Liberty of the Sons of God, and peculiar to the Regenerate.—And this is that with which they are made free by Christ: this he refers to in those Sayings of his,—Ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.—If the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed▪ Joh▪ 8, 32, 36.—Otherwise, whatever natural Freedom Sinners may be possessed of, they are in Fact but immoral moral Agents; and whatever moral Agency may be b [...]asted in their Case, I think, it is but moral Agency fal [...]ely so called: for indeed in the Exercise of their natural Free-will, they go on in the Indulgence of Sin voluntarily, & until they be saved by Grace, from the imperious Power of their own Lu [...]ts, they are all the while the Servants of Sin, and are in a scriptural Sense moral Agents, but in Con [...]radistinction to Bruits, that have no Understanding, or Power of rational Choice; such therefore are termed brutish, who pervert the Doctrine of Christ, speaking Evil of the Things they understand not, 2 Pet. 2. 12.—But what they know naturally, as bruit Beasts, in those Things they corrupt themselves, Jude 10.—And it is much more lamentable, when Ministers are thus cor­rupt in their Sentiments, and give themselves a Liberty to scoff at the Doctrines of Christ, when perhaps by Reason of their unexperienced Youth, or for want of a due Application of Thought, they are uncapable of passing a right Judg­ment on Things of such a sublime & spiritual Nature.— [Page 63] See the Complaint and Consequence s [...]mmed up together Jer. 10, 21. The Pastors are become brutish, and have not [...]ought the Lord; therefore they shall not prosper, and all their Flocks shall be scattered.—It is only the efficacious Grace of God in Regeneration, that is the Spring from whence a genuine and true moral Agency flows. This is that which turns the natural Liberty of the human Will (which is essential to a moral Agent) into its proper Chan­nel, directs it to its true Object and End, and carries it out in its right Manner of Exercise. By enlightening the Mind, and renewing the Will (in a Way not subversive of its essential natural Liberty) Grace works such a Change, that the Man that was before a [...]ad moral Agent (as all Men are by Nature) becomes a good moral Agent. So that the Doctrine, that teaches, Men are saved by Grace only, does neither vilify human Nature, nor destroy all moral Agency, (as is suggested by this Author) but refines both, and makes them subserve, in the most desirable Manner, the Glory of God, for which End they were bestowed; and tends to keep Men from glorying in their natural Powers, y [...]a even in their highest Attainments in moral Virtue.—What faith the Scripture in this Case? See Tit. 3. 5.—Not by Works of Righteousness which we (in a State of Nature, by any Principle of moral Agency, or Free-Will) have done, but according to his Mercy he saved us, by the washing of Regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.—This Au­thor tells us, Pag. 24, 25. That ‘The Existence of God is not more certain than this, that it must be [...] the grand Design, the ultimate V [...]ew of God, in all his Dispensations▪ to promote the moral Rectitude and Happiness of his Creatures.’—The strong Terms in which He here de­livers himself, may possibly be Matter of Amusement to the unthinking▪ Part of Mankind; but I suppose, it will make but little Impression on the Minds of such as are able in some Degree to determine, wherein Man's moral Recti­tude and Happiness consists. I have before noted, That it is not by Works of Righteousness we have done, or can do; that we are saved (according to the inspired Apostle) but [Page 64] by the renewing Work of the Spirit of Grace; which gives a Man true moral Rectitude, both of Mind and Action, and leads him to his highest Happiness: And hence the ulti­mate View of God, in the Dispensation of temporal and spiritual Blessings to his Creatures, is the Praise of the glory of his own Grace; and not as this Author insinuates, as if the blessed God, in dispensing his Benefits to Men, univer­sally took his Measures from their moral Agency; when we are plainly taught, the grand Rule of God's Dispensa­tions, particularly in the Point of converting Grace, which all saving Benefits depend upon, is according to the good Pleasure of his Will.

Nevertheless, this Doctrine of efficacious Grace has not the least Tendency to dispirit Men's Endeavours after Pu­rity of Manners, nor does it administer a just Occasion to any, as is insinuated, to "set themselves down" [i. e. in Sloth and Security] ‘with this vain Thought, that No­thing on their Part is necessary to Salvation.’—By what Objections there follow,—according to this Author's Manner of aspersing the Doctrine of sovereign Grace, and all in general that profess and teach it,—and by all that is offered by this Author under the Head we have been con­sidering, he has only shewn us, that he knows how Ludere cum Sacris, to mock and scoff, like those who (notwith­standing their moral Agency) will not endure [...]ound Doctrine.—However, I think, this Gentleman's abusive Represen­tation of the Doctrine of Grace, held by the Expositors he aims at, and his setting it forth in such Language of Flout and Disdain, does sufficiently prove his Contempt for the Protestant Doctrine of Grace, tho' so evidently founded on Scripture, the Rule of Faith and Standard of Orthodoxy.

4. Another of this Author's Reflections on these Exposi­tors & others, is in Relation to the Doctrine of the Saints final Perseverance. His Words are (Pag. 7.) ‘When they meditate on the constant unchangeable Affection God bears to good Men, they make this groundless Inference, from his Unchangeableness, that they are unchangeable also.’—This is but a groundless Reflection. Does [Page 65] their Doctrine thus indeed deify the Creature! No verily, they are far from any such Supposition, or Imagination, as if the Saints were unchangeable, like GOD himself: They are far from imagining them unchangeable, absolutely, in themselves. But what they assert, is, that according to the Tenor of divine Revelation, the spiritual State of good Men is unalterably safe; in this Respect, that GOD will never permit them to fall totally and finally from Grace. They know, that in themselves they are changeable Crea­tures, and if left to themselves, they shou'd soon fall from their own Stedfastness; but they know withal, that those whom God loves, he loves to the End.—And tho' they fre­quently fall into Sin, God proves his unchangeable Love, in their Recovery;—renewing them to Repentance, and exciting fresh Acts of unfeigned Faith in Christ, and Trust in God's Promise, that he will never leave nor forsake them, as in Josh. 1. 5. Nor do they dare to depend on God's Promises, without pleading them at the Throne of Grace, with Instancy in Prayer, with Humility of Soul, and with Endeavours to become more watchful over themselves and against Sin for the future.—Christ in his mediatory Prayer, Joh. 17. 24. faith, Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am. And him the Father heareth always. Joh. 11. 42. As sure then as Christ ever liveth to make Intercession for them, so sure is the final Perseverance of as many as the Father hath given him.—In a Word, the Immutability of God's Love and Faithfulness, who hath promised everlasting Life to sin­cere Believers, gives them abundant Security, that they shall not fail of the Grace of God, or come short of the Glory of God at last. See Rom. 8. latter End.—And Abundance more might here be offered from Scripture to the like Purpose; which may be seen, if the Reader will give himself Leisure to turn to these Texts, among others. 2 Thess. 3. 3.—Joh. 13. 1.—Rom. 11. 29.—

5. Another Reflection our Author has, respects the Doctrine of imputed Righteousness.—He mentions it under the Head of Delusions, in Men's judging of their spiritual [Page 66] State, in these Words, (Pag. 8.) ‘Others you will find amusing themselves with a vain and groundless (how­ever, no Matter since it is a strong) Perswasion, that there is no Need of their being Righteous themselves, because they have the perfect Righteousness of CHRIST imputed to them.’—To this I shall only say, that it appears but only a more covert Way of disparaging the Doctrine it self, under Colour of exploding a delusive Con­sequence, supposed to be drawn from it.—And I view in the same Light that Saying of his in Pag. 21. Where speaking of moral Vertue, he observes, that ‘without it, a Man could not be so well on't in Heaven, as on Earth, tho' he had the Righteousness of every other Being in the Universe imputed to him.’—Can any one rationally suppose, that there is any other Righteousness capable to be imputed to him, but Christ's? And does this Author no more believe Christ's Righteousness imputed to Believers, than he does the Righteousness, in common, of every other (or any other) Being in the Universe!—Here this Author has, it seems, given us his Opinion, about the Matter of our justifying Righteousness; and it appears, that Christ's Righteousness is but of little or no Account with him, at least in that View; but an inherent Righteousness, i. e. moral Vertue, seems to be all in all with him.—I may here allude to his Way of Reasoning in Pag. 26. and argue upon the Doctrine of imputed Righteousness in his Manner, with some Alteration of his Words. "The Truth of the Case is this: Either imputed Righteousness is of some Use and Significancy in the Affair of our Salvation, or it is not; Either it has some Connection with and Influence on our Happiness, or it is of no real Necessity to us. If the Lat­ter, then there is not one Word to be said in Favour of it; but the greatest Self-Justiciaries, yea, the most blasphemous D [...]riders of imputed Righteousness, may be the best Friends to Christianity, and those that are most righteous in their own Eyes may be the highest in the Grace of God.—But if the Former, then 'tis a sure Thing, that in Proportion to it's real Worth and relative Advantage, arises the [Page 67] [...]olly of those who neglect it, and the Strength of all our Arguments to recommend it to Mankind."—I shall only add, there's no such Thing existent among Men as true moral Righteousness, but what owes it's Original to the Righteousness which is of Faith; to the Righteousness of CHRIST, as the procuring Cause, and to Faith, as the spe­cial Means, under the Influence of the divine Sanctifier.—For we are sanctified by Faith which is in Christ. Acts 26. 18. And Faith in Christ eyes his Righteousness, or Obedience to the Death, as it's special Object. Rom. 3. 25.—Chap. 10. 3, 4. For they—(i. e. the Isr [...]elites, as v. 1. and with them may be join'd all that trust to their moral Vertue for Justification; they) being ignorant▪ of God's Righteousness, and going about to establish their own Righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the Righteousness of God.—For Christ is the End of the Law for Righteousness to every one that believeth.—To the same Purpose is that, Phil. 3. 9. And be found in him, not having mine own Righteousness which is of the Law, (viz. moral Vertue) but that which is through the Faith of Christ, the Righteousness which is of God by Faith.—Act. 5. 29. We ought to obey God, rather than Men: And especially such as scoff at the Doctrines of Christ. The Apostle faith (1 Joh. 5. 9, 10.) If we receive the Witness of Men, the Witness of God is greater.—He that believeth not God, hath made him a Liar; because he believeth not the Record that God gave of his Son—Who is declared to be LORD our RIGHTEOUSNESS; and by Faith in his Righteousness we are justified, and do glory: But not in meer moral Vertue; for to glory in this, is to glory after the Flesh, and not after the Spirit; 'tis to glory in a Thing of nought.

The next Thing I shall take Notice of, is that Reflec­tion this Gentleman casts on the Protestant Religion, pro­fessed by faithful Expositors, and Preachers of the Gospel, with others, from the Reformation, particularly in New­England.—He reflects in this Manner, (Pag. 7.) ‘Thus stupified and bewildered with Sounds, without attend­ing to the true Sense of Revelation, the pure & perfect [Page 68] Religion of Jesus,—is in many Places turned into an idle Speculation, a mysterious Faith, a senseless Super­stition, and a groundlessRecumbency: and in short, every Thing but what in Fact it is.’—If the Case be so as is here represented, then our FATHERS, where are they? Have they been such blind Guides? God forbid! We hope and believe better Things of them than are here reported, as they made the Word of God their Rule. And it were well, if some among us had followed their Example; and if our Author particularly had done so, for the Good of that Church and People he stands in a particular Relation to.—He also adds,—‘The pure and perfect Religion of JESUS, (which contains the most refined System of Morality the World was ever blessed with;’—) None [...] I know of, will deny, that the Religion of Jesus is pure and perfect, or that it contains the most refined System of Morality, incomparably excelling the best Pagan Phi­losophers Systems, and even those of the best uninspired Jewish Doctors.—The moral Law is delivered to us in the sacred Scriptures with the greatest Perfection and Pu­rity; and is there considered as of immutable and eternal Obligation. Our Saviour therefore declares, that it was not the End of his coming (as some might vainly imagine) to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it, Matth. 5. 17.—i. e. to fulfill the Law, in the Capacity of his People's Surety, for the Ends of making Satisfaction to divine Justice, and providing a justifying Righteousness for them, as well as to teach them the true Meaning of the Law, and set them an Example of Obedience for their Imitation. And tho' none are able to fulfill all Righteousness, as he did; yet as many as the Father hath given him, are predestinated to be conformed to the Image of the Son of God: Therefore we should be, in our Measure, in the World, as he was in the World; and should walk, even as he walked, who was the most illustrious Pattern of good Works, and followed ex­actly the Rules of true Morality. But for any to pretend, as this Author insinuates, that Christ came only to settle a [...] of Morality, and that this he taught principally, when [Page 69] he was in the World, tends to cast great Dishonour o [...] Christ, and to turn the trueChristian Religion into a meer Scheme of Morality, which savours much more of Paga­nism, than what Christ and his Apostles have taught us.—Therefore the Suggestion is to be rejected with Contempt and Defiance, as destructive to the great Ends of Christ's coming, and inglorious to that wonderful Work he has done for the Salvation of Souls: for which Saints do now, and for ever will adore and magnify the Riches of divine free sovereign Grace through JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.

However, notwithstanding all this, I wou'd by no Means be understood as designing to shut true Morality out of the Religion of Jesus, as tho' it had no proper Place there. For indeed we can never do Righteousness, without Mora­lity; nor can we shew our Faith in Christ, as we ought, without Works; nor have we sufficient Evidence of our vital Union to him, without a constant Care of Confor­mity to him in all the Instances of moral Duty. If this be wanting, it's a Sign, that our Faith is dead, and our Reli­gion vain: So our own Hearts will condemn us, and can never witness for us that we have Faith unfeigned. Nor can others, without beholding our good Conversation in Christ, have sufficient Grounds of a rational Charity for us, that we are sincere in the Profession of the Religion of Jesus, and have felt the Power of it in our Souls.—But after all that has been, or ever can be said in Favour of Morality, this Author's Insinuation (that the pure and perfect Reli­gion of Jesus consists only or principally in this refined System of Morality) is groundless, and founded on meer. Arminian Presumption: for neither Scripture nor Reason is produced, to prove this Assertion of his; nor indeed can be by any other: And I hope, none are so stupidly blind, as to go away satisfied with an Ipse dixit.

Before I come to the next general Head of Remarks, I shall take a little further Notice of this Author's Reflec­tion on the Religion mostly profess'd in these New-Eng­land Churches, and by the Ministers in them, that we ap­prehend to be [...]ound in the Faith which is in Christ Jesus. [Page 70] He [...] (as was before noted) the Religion of the Land ‘an idle Speculation, a mysterious Faith, a senseless Supersti­tion, and a groundless Rec [...]mben [...]y.—But pray, Sir, why must it be branded with such hard and reproachful Names; as if our Faith, and the Doctrines we profess, were not according to Scripture; but founded on meer [...]imerical delusive Imaginations? This seems to be done with a Design to turn the Minds of People from the Truth as it is in Jesus: And if so, they must believe a Lie. For all such as turn away from the Truth, will fall under the Charge of Falshood, in a less or a greater Degree. And I suppose, if our Author had duely consulted the Rules of his so much applauded Morality, he wou'd have found no Room for such abusive Invectives against us, whatever deep rooted Prejudice he may be under against the Faith we profess.

This Author insinuates, on the other Hand, that his refined System of Morality is ‘a Doctrine of Sobriety, Righ­teousness, and Piety. But, moral Piety, Sobriety and Righteousness, are these the only Lessons to be learned of Christianity! Are they so much as the first Principles of the Doctrine of CHRIST! Was not the Doctrine of Plato, Socrates, Cicero, Seneca and other moral Philosophers in the Pagan World, a Doctrine of Sobriety, Righteousness, & Piety? These Heathen Philosophers, taught they not the very same Scheme as this, in Sum and Substance? Only, it seems, their Ethicks, or Systems of moral Philosophy, were not so re [...]in'd, so pure, and perfect. Truly this Discourse of our Author's seems to be one incessant Cry in Praise of his idolized Morality; not altogether unlike that of the tumul­tuous Rout at Ephesus, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!"

Thus I have gone through what I proposed under the second general Head of Remarks, and have insisted the longer from the Importance of the Points in Debate.

The next Thing, in the order at first projected, is,

III. To consider the Danger of substituting a Righteous­ness of our own in the Room of Christ's Righteousness, with Relation to the Affair of our Justification before God; and [Page 71] ho [...] far our Author stands justly chargeable with (Doctri­nally) substituting personal Righteousness in the Room of imputed Righteousness.

It is evident, that the whole Tenor and Scope of this Author's Discourse we are upon, is, to disparage, and draw in as dark Colours as possible, the Doctrines we pro­fess, and indeed the whole of our Religion, tho' founded on the plain and unerring Authority of divine Revelation▪ To that End he brings it under the Odium of ‘an idle Speculation,—and a groundless Recumbancy: Which Passages have already had some Notice taken of them, and may perhaps fall under a further Consideration in the fol­lowing Remarks.

The constructive Language of his Discourse, from the Beginning to the End, is, ‘You have no Need at all to go beyond or without your selves for a Righteousness to justify you before God.’—Else, whence is it, that he casts so much Obloquy upon Expositors and others, that put a Sense on his Text different from the Notion he has taken up of it? Why is he so cautious of speaking any Thing in Favour of the Doctrine of imputed Righteousness? He is so far from this, that the whole Construction of his Discourse is rather calculated in full Opposition to this Pro­testant Doctrine: And numerous Passages in it, I appre­hend, are most plainly of an unfavourable Aspect. I will instance in a few, for a Specimen; and make some Re­marks upon them. Thus, in proposing the Point that he undertakes to demonstrate (Pag. 11th of his Discourse) he expresly professes to maintain, ‘That neither All nor any of our Righteousness, when true and genuine, sincere and universal, can possibly, consistent with Reason, Revelati­on, and even so much as common Sense, deserve this odi­ous Character of filthy Rags.—This Gentleman here, as in the other Parts of his Discourse, seems to deliver him­self in unusual Phrases, and a Manner of Expression which carrys much of Ambiguity in it, tending rather to amuse, than instruct People in general; without any Explanation of his Meaning, for the most Part; and destitute of Scrip­ture-Proof, [Page 72] as before hinted. However, I observe, this Author appears by the Epit [...]ets he has heaped up, to aim at expressing to us, what he calls (Pag. 15) ‘The most compleat Character of Spotless Vertue.—Now the Ques­tion is, Whether there is, or ever was, such a compleat Cha­racter of spotless Vertue, existent under the Sun; unless in the Case of the Holy JESUS, and of our first Parents be­fore the Fall? And it's readily granted, that the Righte­ousnesses in these two Cases are exempt: But among all the natural Race of apostate Adam, where was there at any Time, or in any Instance, found a compleat Character of spotless Vertue? What faith the Scripture? There is not a just Man upon Earth, that doeth good, and [...]inneth not. Eccl. 7. 20. Now so far as the just Man [...]inneth, he certainly stains his moral Character, and detracts from his personal Righteousness, or Conformity to the Law of God, the Rule of Righteousness; which, as it demands Perfection of O­bedience, can never in Reason be supposed to take up sa­tisfied with an imperfect and spotted Obedience. Therefore such an Obedience as is [...] with Sin, can never be sup­posed available to justify us, in a due Process of Law; one Jot or Tittle of which God will not suffer to pass away. Consequently we must conclude, that in Relation to our being justified before God, against the Challenges of his holy and indispensable Law, verily all our Righteousnesses are as filthy Rags.—It is a Matter worthy of strict Notice▪ that when we apply this diminutive Character of filthy Rags to personal Righteousness, it is considered as viewed existing in it's Subject, a morally imperfect Creature, and with Res­pect to the grand Affair of Justification before God. In this Regard, I think, all the Righteousnesses of ‘the most im­proved Christians’ may be fitly compared to filthy Rags (whatever this Author or any others may suggest to the contrary) without the least Inconsistency, either with Rea­son, Revelation, or commonSense. For (as was before shewn) it is Men's moral Vertues and personal Righteousnesses be­ing so highly applauded, and placed in the Room of the imputed Righteousness of Christ, that is here and by every [Page 37] one ought to be condemned, as erroneous and corrupt, whatever plausible Pretensions may be insinuated, to blind Men's Minds, and pervert their Judgments.—It is the plain, direct, and infallible Gospel-Rule, that the Faith of Confessors to the Truth, in this and other Lands, is built on: And this, I pray God, we may continue to adhere to, and defend, in Opposition to and open Defiance of all that either the Art of Man, or Powers below, can suggest with Respect to the Vertues of Morality or a personal Righte­ousness being a fit or sufficient Intitlement to Acceptance in the Sight of God, either here in our Acts of religious Worship, or hereafter in giving our Account at the Tri­bunal of Jesus Christ. The Scripture is plain, and I think, indisputable, That without Faith it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God, with Acceptance, must believe. Heb. 11. 6.—God impute [...]h Righteousness without Works. See Rom. 4. 6.

But again, this Author asserts, Pag. 15. ‘From the Beginning of the Bible to the End of it, you will never find any the least & most imperfect Degrees of real Good­ness branded with any such odious Character.’ To which I answer, Perhaps our Author will own, that Saul when he was a Pharis [...]e, had some Degree of real Goodness in him, being as touching the Righteousness which is in the Law, blameless: Yet Paul the Apostle throws Disgrace on all his former Jewish Religion, as comparatively but Loss & Dung, Phil. 3. 8. His moral Goodness, which was really good in it's Kind and Degree, yet he ca [...]ts Contempt upon it, in Compare with Christ's Righteousness imputed to him, that Royal Robe with which he was then adorned.—And if Multitudes of Protestants, Expositors and others, have not been strangely deceived, this same Scripture furnishes me with an undeniable Instance to my present Purpose; and may be very justly (as it frequently has been) parallel'd with our Author's Text, taken according to the common­ly received meaning. Paul, now a Christian and an A­postle, cured of his Pharisaical Dependance on his moral Vertues, says there concerning all Things, including his [Page 74] moral Attainments, present, as well as past, I do count them but Dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having my own Righteousness which is of the Law, but that which is thro' the Faith of Christ, the Righteousness which is of God by Faith. So we see the Apostle did not dare to approach the Presence of his final Judge, arrayed only with the self-pleasing Habit of his moral Vertues, the Dung-hill-Garment or filthy Rags of his own Righteousness; but with the rich and recommending Attire of Christ's Righ­teousness, the Righteousness which is of God by Faith.

Agreeable to the Drift of our Author's Discourse, I find him peremptorily asserting, Pag. 20. ‘It is the Righte­ousness of the Saints’ [meaning their own moral Righ­teousness, which he insists on all along] that renders them amiable in God's Sight, that is the Condition of all his Favours to them, and the sole Rule he will proceed by in judging them, and dispensing eternal Rewards to them. The Scriptures (says he) join with the natural Notions of our own Minds in all this, in the most plain and express Language imaginable.’—To which I say,—It is very probable, as all Men since the Fall are by Nature Men of corrupt Minds, that the natural Notions of such Minds may concur with our Author in all this; and strongly conceit, that their own personal Righteousness "renders them amiable in God's Sight," and powerfully attracts his kind Regards to them; that this is the Con­dition of all his Favours to them, &c.

But I think, enough has been said to confute such a dan­gerous Error; and establish our Souls in the contrary weighty Truth, that it is the Righteousness of Faith, and not our own moral Vertue, which renders us amiable in the Sight of God, according to Scripture and sound Reason.—That which renders acceptable in his Sight, is the Righteous­ness of God our Saviour, which is upon all them that believe, i. e. with Faith unfeigned; and the Scripture calls it precious Faith: And surely it is in God's Account so, especially as it pays peculiar Honour to his dear Son, and is the Means by his special Appointment to invest us with Christ's Righ­teousness, [Page 75] which covers our moral Nakedness from the Sight of his vindictive Justice (See Rev. 3. 18.) and indeed renders us pleasing Spectacles in the pure Eyes of his rectoral Holi­ness.—Not by Works of Righteousness which we have done, but according to his Mercy he saved us, by the washing of Re­generation, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, &c. Tit.3.5,—7. Here, we may observe, God's planting the vital Principle of Holiness in us, or purifying our Hearts by Faith (as well as his justifying us thro' Faith) is represented as an Act of his sovereign Grace and Mercy; independent of any antecedent moral Condition on our Part [...]; not at all respecting Works of Righteousness which we have done, and having no other Rule to direct it but his own Purpose and Grace, which (as it is express'd, 2 Tim. 1. 9.) was given us in Christ Jesus before the World began.—In short, by the whole Tenor of Scrip­ture-Language, it appears, that Justification (as well as Sanctification) is a present Benefit, actually existent in this Life, beginning with our very first becoming Believers, and not delayed 'till Works of Righteousness be done by us to procure it, much less adjourned to the Day of Judgment, as some pretend.

What this Author offers, to support his Scheme of Sal­vation by moral Vertue from Psal. 18 23. I was upright before him—Therefore hath the Lord rewarded me accord­ing to my Righteousness:—This, I think, is foreign from his Purpose, and therefore will in no Way answer the De­sign he is upon. For it's probable, the Psalmist in these Passages, as well as in many other of the Psalms he penned, speaks not of himself personally, but prophetically and ty­pically of the MESSIAH; who indeed acted in all that he did, in the Perfection of Uprightness or Righteousness, and therefore has an indisputable Right to plead the Merit of it.—Otherwise, David must be necessarily charged (at least) with gross Iuconsistency, or rather the Holy Spirit, by whom he spake; which would amount to such a Degree of Blas­phemy, as this Author doubtless is very unwilling to fall under the Imputation of, however freely he has charged it upon Expositors and others, in a Matter of much smalle [...] [Page 76] Consequence. To demonstrate that David spake not this of himself, but of CHRIST, and to clear him of Inconsistency, we need only turn our Eye to [...] Sam. 23. 2. Where he makes that Declaration, The Spirit of the Lord sp [...]ke by me, and his Word was in my Tongue. Now, as he was before under the immediate Influence of the Spirit, so here also▪ where (it's observable) he disclaim, pleading the Dignity of his own Righteousness, but flies to the Covenant God had made with him, as in v. 5. In which he must unavoid­ [...]bly have a direct Eye to, &Faith in Christ and his Righ­teousness; on which, it is evident, he placed all his Hopes: For he saith, Although my House be not so with God (and as [...]t follows by Way of Repetition in the close of the Verse, Although he make it not to grow) yet he hath, made with me [...] overlasting Covenant,—This is all my Salvation, and all my Desire. And, as he elsewhere expresses it, on the like Occasion, What can David say more?—This shews us, that it was not his Uprightness, or his own Righteousness, that he depended on, as the Ground or Reason of God's be­stowing his Rewards on him, or any other of his Saints, but he only looked herefor for the Sake of CHRIST and his Righ­teousness. And in the same Manner Paul expresses him­self,—That I may be found in Him, not having my own Righ­teousness.—The Righteousness of CHRIST, and not moral Vertue (as I have had Occasion frequently to mention) is that whereby true Believers will at last be found of their Judge in Peace, and be presented faultless before the Throne of his Glory with exceeding Joy.—Many other plain Texts might be produced to confute this Author's wild and dan­gerous Assertions, and Attempts to bring the whole of Re­ligion and Happiness under the Head of moral Vertue, and thrust out the Righteousness of Christ, and the Grace of the Spirit, as unnecessary in the Scheme of our Salvation; which is evident from what he says, Pag. 7. Revelation every where considers us as moral Agents, and suspends our whole Happiness upon our personal good Behaviour, and patient Continuance in Ways of well-doing.’—We have here a farther Proof of this Gentleman's Dependance [Page 77] on moral Vertue, as if it were the All of Religion; there is nothing all this While in his Discourse, so far as I have al­ready considered it, to be found of the Essentials of the true Gospel-Religion; not one Word of R [...]ation, or the Ne­cessity of being born again, as our Saviour has taught us, nothing of Faith and Repentance (till near the close of his Discourse, where by a seeming meer accident it was once thought of by him) nothing of Union to CHRIST, nor of Communion with Christ &c. Those Things were all, as it seems, aliene to his Purpose. But surely, these, & such li [...] Things, are by the Tenor of Scripture-R [...]v [...]lation requi­site, and leading to our final Happiness. The Case is not as this Author asserts, that ‘Revelation suspends the whole [...] of our Happiness on our personal good Behaviour.’

This indeed is necessary in a Professor of Christi­anity: but to say, or pretend, that the Scripture or Revelation every where suspends the whole of our Happi­ness on our personal good Behaviour, as this Author does, is a perverting the Scripture. In Truth, the perso­nal good Behaviour, mention'd by him, appears by the whole Tenor of this Discourse of his, from first to last, to be little more than what the Heathen have profess'd and built their Hopes on: but without Faith, these Duties of Morality reach no higher than what Persons may and do often arrive to by the common Helps of Nature. And tho' when done in Faith, they are good in their Place, and strictly to be pursued by all that profess Christianity▪ is undeniable; yet when depended on, they will be found to be a meer Delusion, if I know any Thing of the Mean­ing of the Scriptures, or the Mind of God in them. In short therefore, unless the Mercy of God through a Medi­ator be extended to us for our Salvation, and relied on by Faith, we must inevitably perish with the fallen Angels, notwithstanding all our Duties,& notwithstanding the con­current Help of all meer created Causes.—As to the Scrip­tures considering Men as moral Agents, I suppose, it must be granted, that the Angels which sinned, do still retain those natural Powers, which originally constituted them moral [Page 78] Agents; tho' under an irreversible Doom, without a Re­deemer: and the like, I suppose, may be said of the Spirits in Prison, the lost Souls of Men, passed out of a State of Trial, into a State of Retribution, that they are still moral Agents. But to what Purpose is all this? Man's moral Agency, as he is under the Power of Sin by Nature, through the Fall, is a moral Agency only free to moral Evil, and not to that which is spiritually Good.—The Spirit that is in us naturally lu [...]teth to Envy, and to that which is Evil. And Paul declares that in him, that is, in his Flesh, dwelt no good Thing. Rom. 7. 18.—According to our Author's Scheme of Divinity (or rather, I think, Heathen Morality) he tells [...]s, Pag. 21. ‘It is Demonstration, that the Foundation of final Happiness must be laid in every one's own Mind, in a personal good Turn, and rightness of Temper to relish celestial Joys.’—Truly it is Demonstration sufficient, I think, that it is but a meer Amusement, to tell of ‘a personal good Turn or rightness of Temper to relish celestial Joys,’ without previous Conversion, and some good Degree of a saving and experimental Acquaintance with divine Things. 1 Cor.2. 14. But the natural Man re­ceiveth not the Things of the Spirit of God: for they are Foo­lishness unto him; neither can be know them (and then cer­tainly can have no proper Relish of them) because they are spiritually discerned.—Surely such as trust to a moral Righ­teousness of their own, will find, as the Prophet speaks, The Bed is shorter than that a Man can stretch himself on it, and the Covering narrower, than that a Man can wrap himself in it; all our Righteousnesses being morally imperfect, and stained with moral Pollutions. For as the Apostle James observes, In many Things we all offend;—and whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one Point, he is guilty of all. Jam. 2. 10. & 3. 2.

In fine, if ever we obtain Salvation, and get to Heaven at last, we shall there, together with all Saints, cast down our Crowns at the Feet of GOD and the Lamb, and lie pro­strate before the Throne, in Acknowledgment of our own Unworthiness, and in Admiration of the exceeding Riches [Page 79] of divine Grace in the whole of our Salvation by Christ, even from Election to Glorification. And if it were possible that Shame cou'd find a Place in Heaven, we should look back with the most sensible Blushing and Self-Abhorance, on our very best Services here in this World; freely and humbly confessing, that all our Righteousnesses were as filthy Rags; and shall then resolve the whole of our Salvation, from Beginning to End, into the Riches of the free Grace of God; the Grace of the Father, in appointing us to ob­tain Salvation by Jesus Christ; the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, in purchasing Redemption for us; & the Grace of the Holy Spirit, in applying to us the purchased Redemption, by working in usunfeigned Faith, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our Effectual Calling; and keeping us by his Power thro' Faith unto eternal Salvation.—We shall take none of the Glory to our Selves; much less place the Crown on the Head of our moral Agency and personal good Behaviour, or our own Righteousness, exclusive of the Righteousness of Faith: we shall then feel the Love of Christ constraining us (in a most sweet and delightful Manner) to confess our selves saved by Grace through FAITH, and that not of our selves, but by the Gift of God.

I come now, in Prosecution of what was proposed un­der another general Head of Remarks,

IV. To inquire, whether there is not more of Absurdity and Blasphemy couched in a disowning some of the main Ends of Christ's coming into the World, and so depreci­ating the glorious Design of his mediatorial Undertaking, than there possibly can be in the pretended Depreciation of moral Vertue, which our Author so loudly complains of, and taxes many Expositors and others with.

The Body of Protestant Expositors and Preachers of the Gospel in general, stand strongly indicted by this Au­thor, of Blasphemy as well as Absurdity; in that as he pre­tends, they depreciate moral Vertue, by the Sense they put upon his Text, and by other commonly received Notions in near Alliance with that. On this Account, he freely char­ges [Page 80] them with Weakness, Inattention, and Ignorance, or more criminal Designs, as you have seen: But by what has been already offered in Reply to these Charges, I doubt not 'tis sufficiently manifest to intelligent and unbya [...]ed Rea­ders, that these reproachful Imputations want Truth to support them, and are unjustifiable either from Reason or Revelation. And I have before observed, that this Au­thor has in Fact disowned or depreciated the main Design, or some of the essential Ends of the Mediator's glorious Undertaking. Now that he has done this, at least virtu­ally and in Effect, I conclude, must be apparent to every judicious and unprejudic'd Reader; if he observes, what an universal Silence there is throughout his Discourse con­cerning some of the primary Ends of Christ's coming; which ought, and might have been taken special Notice of in Pag. 17, 18. as well as elsewhere.—But it seems, his Heart & Mind was taken up to such a Degree in Fa­vour of his so much admired moral Vertue, and Christ's settling the Scheme, and his Thoughts were so engrossed by this Self-pleasing Theme, as that he over-looks the great and ultimate Design of all, GOD's being glorified in the eternal Salvation of his Elect by Jesus Christ.—The Name of the incarnate Son of God was, by special Direction from Heaven, called Jesus on this Account, because he should save his People from their Sins. Matth. 1. 21. Luk. 2. 2 [...].—And this blessed Design he was to accomplish, both by Price and by Power, or by Merit and Efficiency, by the Purchase and the Application of Redemption, in the Exe­cution of his mediatorial Offices.—The Prophets there­fore predict these wonderful Ends of his Coming: but without a Word of his settling this Scheme of Morality, spo­ken by them; and indeed the Scripture is a Stranger to the Phrase, as it is not to be found there; thô according to the proper Sense and Use of it, it is included in Christ's Commission, and Example, who fulfilled the Law, as for other Ends, so for a Directory to us, with Respect to our moral Conduct in the World.—But let us see how wide our Author is from the Prophets, and how distant in his [Page 81] Sentiments from theirs, in this grand Article. He tells us after this Manner,—‘That for this End he [i. e. Christ] was born, and on this grand Design he came into the World, to set up the Christian Scheme in the World, to propagate Truth and Virtue among Mankind: as tho' this was all he had to do here! Nay, if we believe this Author's Insinuations, it was all that he did do, in a Man­ner: and to prove his Assertion, he instances in our Sa­viour's whole Sermon on the Mount, which he insinuates consists only of Instructions leading to Morality: tho' the Sermon it self contradicts this, in the beginning of Christ's Instructions there, and in many following Paragraphs, if I mistake not. However, as I have before sufficiently shew'n, there are none of the Expositors or others, I have met with, who are by this Author so unbecomingly re­flected on, but do declare the Necessity of the Practice of moral Duties, by all that profess themselves Christ's Fol­lowers, as the proper Fruit of a true and saving Faith, and the best Evidence of the sanctifying Work of the holy Spirit, witnessing for them to all that behold their good Conversation, that they are the Children of God.—But to return,—as I said, Let us see how distant this Gentle­man is, in his Sentiments of the End of Christ's being born, from what the Prophets testify concerning him, in their Predictions of him. I shall instance but in a few of them, among the many that might be produc'd to the same Pur­pose. The Prophets tell us, That the Messiah shou'd bear our Iniquities, be wounded for our Transgressions, and have the Chastisement of our Peace laid upon him; that he should finish Transgression, make an End of Sin, and bring in an everlasting Righteousness; that his Name shou'd be called The Lord our Righteousness; That in him shou'd all the Seed of Israel be justified, and shou'd glory,—saying, In him have I Righteousness and Strength; and in a Word; That by his Knowledge shou'd God's righteous Servant justify many.—Now it's evident, that Christ was born, and came into the World, for other and higher and more glorious Ends, than this Author does allow; which will prove it self, and [Page 82] discover his Weakness: If in this Case those celebrated Sayings are duely observed, namely, That the Spirit of the Prophets are subject to the Prophets—And they that speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no Light in them.—Here then the Conclusion is easily drawn from the Premises, and it plainly appears, that there is more of Absurdity and Blasphemy, in denying to CHRIST the Glory due to his Name, respecting the main and essential Ends of his coming into the World, than there can be in the pretended depreciating moral Vertue, so exclaimed against by our Antagonist. However, this is not [...] [...]or agreable to these Prophecies above-mentioned, if we consult the Writings of the New-Testament, we shall find CHRIST JESUS represented as being sent in the Likeness of sinful Flesh, and for Sin, i. e. to be a Sin-offering; as coming to fulfill the Law, and to take away Sin by the Sacrifice of himself; as being accordingly obedient unto Death, even the Death of the Cross; and as bearing our Sins in his own Body upon the Tree; as shedding his Blood for many, for the Remission of Sins; as laying down his Life a Ransom for many; as giving himself for us, an Offering and a Sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling Savour; and in a Word, as being made a Curse for us, that so the Blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gen­tiles thro' Jesus Christ.—These, and other Passages of Scripture of the like Import, that might be offered, plainly shew, that it is not our own personal good Behaviour, or strictest moral Vertue, on which the Scripture, in any Part, "suspends the whole of our Happiness,"—as is pretended: but upon the Mediation & Merit of Christ, and his Righte­ousness thro' Faith. Agreable to which I may add, 2 Cor. 5. 21. He (i. e. Christ) was made Sin for us, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in him.—God is represented as reconciling the World to himself, not imputing their Tres­passes; but imputing Righteousness without Works. And they that believe on the Son of God, are said to believe on him to Life everlasting; and consequently are delivered from the W [...]ath to come, from the Law, [...] the Power of [...] and Death. Now upon this Scripture Representation [Page 83] of Christ's Design (with its important Consequences) which is emphatically the mediatorial Design, on which Christ came into the World, I say, for any one openly to deny, or tacitly to disown, and treat with Neglect, such a funda­mental End of Christ's coming, which respects in a special Manner his Priestly Office, wherein also all his other high and distinguishing Characters are struck at, is in it's Na­ture and Consequence too nearly approaching to Blasphemy; and full freighted with Absurdity, yea, more than so, when done with Design, as seems to be the Case here in View,—by representing as if personal Righteousness were the only Thing that avails to obtain the Favour of God, and on which our whole Happiness is suspended; so making it properly our justifying Righteousness, and indeed our only Righteousness, in which to appear before God with Ac­ceptance.

Now, to set this in a true Light, I shall produce this Author's own Words. That he might fasten Reproach on the Expositors and Preachers, who have not the like ex­travagantly magnifying Thoughts of moral Vertue with himself (tho' they urge it, as necessary under it's proper scriptural Limitations) and probably to prejudice the Minds of his unwary unintelligent Readers, he thus censures their Notion of his Text, Pag. 17. ‘That it reflects Dishonour on Jesus Christ the Son of God, and on the whole Christian Scheme, which he came to set up in the World. Our Sa­viour was the great Preacher of Righteousness: For this End was he born, and on this grand Design came he into the World, to propagate Truth and Vertue among Mankind. It is this & only this Righteousness (that some are pleased to style Filthy Rags) which he preaches up through the whole of that divine Sermon on the Mount; which con­tains the Sum and Substance of his whole Doctrine.—To countenance which Assertion, [...]e cites Matth. 7.24.&c. But with what propriety, I leave to be determined by the more judicious.—

However▪ by what has been before offered, it is easy to judge, who it is tha [...] ‘reflects Dishonour on Jesus Christ [Page 84] the Son of God, and on the whole ChristianScheme.’—Surely, if our Author had had such a tender Regard (as is insinuated) for the Honour of Christ,& the Vitals of Christi­anity, he would not have presumed, I think, to overlook some of the main & essential Ends of Christ's coming, when enumerating them; nor to pretend, that the grandDesign was only to settle a Scheme of Morality, as a sufficient Righ­teousness; and so by a necessary Consequence (according to Him) it follows, that they who hear those Sayings of Christ, which he would have refer merely to Morality, and doeth them, are the only wise Men in the Earth, that have built their House upon a Rock, and are therefore in the saf­est and most happy State of all Mankind. But surely, the Rock here intended, is CHRIST; as the Apostle Paul ex­plains it, 1 Cor. 10. 4. in Allusion to Mo [...]es's smiting the Rock in the Wilderness, Num. 20. 11. And the smiting the Rock with a Rod is emblematical of Christ's Sufferings, without which no Streams of Grace could be conveyed to us. He is therefore said to be stricken and smitten of God, Isa. 53. 4, 5. Hence Christ, this spiritual Rock, being smit­ten of the Father, is become the Rock of our Salvation, and the Fountain of Life. From him, as the smitten Rock, flows living Water. Joh.4. 14. And them that thirst after Righteousness, he invites to come unto him and drink. Joh. 7. 37.—In vain will Men hew to themselves Cisterns of their own; they will prove as broken Cisterns, that can hold no Water. Their Hope will make them ashamed, who place their Dependance on moral Vertue; notwithstanding the highest possible Attainments in the Virtues of Morality, without a saving Faith in the Righteousness of Christ, which is the one Thing (and above all Things) needful.

Besides, if we consult Matth. 5. especially the third and sixth Verses, we shall find our Author greatly mistaken, in asserting, that it was this and only this moral Righteousness, which Christ preached up, in the whole of his divine Sermon on the Mount.—

Many Arguments might be drawn from these and o­ther Parts of that Sermon of Christ, to evidence, that it is [Page 85] Faith, even such a Faith as leads the Soul out of Self, to hunger and thirst after CHRIST and his Righteousness, un­der a Sense of our own spiritual Poverty, hath the Promise of being filled or satisfied. This carries in it the Sum and Substance, the Essentials of that pure and holy Religion of Jesus, which he has taught us in the Gospel; not exclud­ing, but drawing after it the Practice of moral Duties, which Christ has enjoined on all them that profess them­selves his Followers.—Our Author proceeds to say, Pag. 18. ‘In his Life and Practice he fulfilled all Righteousness, not to excuse us from, but set us an Example of, doing like­wise. Now, is that which the Son of God tho't worth his coming down from Heaven to establish on Earth, that which is the Basis and in short the whole Superstructure of this his divine Religion: To recommend which to Mankind, he both lived and preached it up, and sealed the Truth of his Doctrine with his most precious Blood, shall we call this, I say, Filthy Rags? God forbid! God forbid! such a Thought should ever enter into our Hearts,.’—And to give us a farther Specimen of the Odium he would cast on the Doctrine of the Expositors and Preachers, whom he aims at, he proceeds after this Manner,—‘But if ever such a Thought should enter into us, we should be more solicitous to cast it out, than if we were possessed with seven Devils.—However, as this appears to strain up moral Vertue to an undue and dangerous, if not to a blas­phemous Pitch, which I think enough has been said to de­tect and expose, therefore I shall further, under this Head of Remarks, only offer the following Considerations.

1. If the Errand Christ came into the World upon, was in Fact as this Author represents it, then it appears a just Inference, That both CHRIST himself & his Apostles (not to mention the Prophets, who testified beforehand concerning it) must needs have been Impostors, either wilfully misrepre­senting the Case, or else greatly misunderstanding it.—For Christ saith of himself, Matth. 18▪ 11. The Son of Man is come to save that which was lost.—Was it to save Souls from a lost perishing State in Sin? Or was it only to save [Page 86] Men from a blind Pagan State, from Heathen Ignorance and Idolatry, and to bring them into the Knowledge and Practice of Morality? According to our Author it must be the latter, and not the former, that's intended, as the End of Christ's coming. But certainly such a Thought wou'd be very absurd and blasphemous. And God forbid! that any such mean and vile Apprehension of the End of Christ's coming should enter into our Hearts. God▪ forbid, that we should suppose, this was the only or the main End of it!—It was therefore to save Souls from Sin and Misery, that he came; as is before proved. And Christ testifies that he came to give his Life a Ransom for many, Matth. 20. 28. Which he needed not to have done, if it were only to settle a Scheme of Morality. But the Scriptures teach us better Things concerning the Redeemer of Souls. See 1 Joh. 3. 5. He was manifested to take away our Sins. So Chap. 4. 9, 10. & 1 Tim. 1. 15.—And in this View the Baptist beheld Christ, when he said, Behold the Lamb of God! Joh. 1. 29.

2. According to this Author's Representation of the End of Christ's coming, the Commission he gave to his Dis­ciples, and the Errand he sent them upon, was superior to his own; which would be an Absurdity to suppose, and Blasphemous in a high Degree.—Christ's Commission was prior and superior to that of his Disciples; and it was fore­to [...]d long before he appeared in his Humanity, Isai. 61. 1, 2, 3. Christ is there described as anointed of God, and sent, to preach good Tidings to the Meek, to bind up the bro­ken-hearted, to proclaim Liberty to the Captives, and the open­ing of the Prison-Doors to them that are bound; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them Beauty for Ashes, &c.—Agreeably to this his Commission he begins his Sermon in the Mount: Tho' our Author pretends it is made wholly up of moral Instruction, which does not reach to the binding up the broken-hearted, nor does Morality set at Liberty those that are led Captive by Sin & Satan.—Christ himself notes, that in him was fulfilled the Prophet's Pre­diction, which was concerning him, Luk. 4. 18. And how [Page 87] aptly he proves it, and acts up to his Commission, is wor­thy of our Observation, even in the Beginning of his Ser­mon on the Mount. There we see, he binds up the broken­hearted, brings good Tidings to the Meek, supports the Poor in Spirit with the Promise of the Kingdom of Heaven, and comforts them that are Mourners in Zion for their Sins, and opens the Prison-Doors to them that are bound, and sets the Captives under Satan's Power at Liberty, and promises the Benefit of his Righteousness to all that hunger and thirst af­ter it. Christ here, in Part, fulfills his Commission, by pro­nouncing a Blessing on all that sustain these distinguishing Characters, as we find Matth. 5. 3, 4, 5, 6.—We may further note it as a strong Proof and undeniable Evidence of his Mission and Commission from the Father, as the true Messiah and Redeemer of Souls, we find him saying in his Answer to John's Messengers, Matth. 11. 5. and Lu [...]. 7. 22. The Blind see, the Lame walk, the Lepers are cleansed, &c. Now, tho' these Things were actually done on the Bodies of Men, yet they had a spiritual and mystical Meaning, to prove Christ's Sufficiency and Power to mi­nister Healing to the Souls of all tha [...] came or should come to Him, by Faith in his Righteousness and mediatorial Fulness.—What I have here offered is to shew the high Commission Christ came into the World invested with, as the Mediator between God and Man; and how punctually he has fulfilled the Business of it on the Earth; not meerly by preaching up Morality, and setting up that refined Scheme of moral Vertue, as our Author suggests, but by establishing the more refined & excellent Scheme of Man's Recovery from his fallen State in Adam, and from all his contracted Guilt and Misery by actual Transgression: for which, Christ has made sufficient Provision, in coming up fully to the Terms of his Commission, by answering both the preceptive and penal Demands of the Law.—And now, that Christ might still prosecute the Trust committed to him, tho' advanc'd to the heavenly Glory, he authorizes his Disciples on Earth to carry on the Work given them to do in subordination to him, and puts them under Com­mission, [Page 88] as having all Power committed to him. Therefore says he to them, As my Father sent me, even so send I you. Joh. 20. 21.—And what they were commanded to do, we find by Matth. 10. 7, 8.—They were to preach the Gospel, to heal the Sick, cleanse the Lepers, raise the Dead, cast out Devils, &c. A Work subservient to what Christ came upon, must be carried on by his Disciples, according to the extraordinary Measures of Grace, bestowed on them by Christ.—Indeed the Disciples preached up moral Du­ties, (yet under a Limitation, different from our Author) as we find in the Acts of the Apostles, and in their several Epistles; urging Christians to maintain good Works, in or­der to maintain their Christian Character, as having believed in God our Saviour, and thereby demonstrate the Sincerity of their Faith: whose pious Example in pressing moral Duties, hath been, is, and ever will be, followed by all Christ's faithful Embassadors, to the End of the World. But still, neither the Disciples, nor their Followers hinted at, ever presum'd to confine their Instructions to moral Vertue, or Duties of Morality. For to them was committed the Word of Reconciliation, by Christ; in whom God is said to be reconciling the World to himself, 2 Cor. 5. 19. They therefore preach'd the glad Tidings of Peace, and the gra­cious Terms of Reconciliation, namely, Repentance toward God and Faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 20. 21. Eminently they preach'd up Faith in the Incarnate Son of God, who for our Sake was obedient unto Death, who suf­fered for Sins, the Just for the Unjust, who was delivered for our Offences, and raised again for our Justification.—These are some of the essential Ends of Christ's coming into the World, which the primitive Preachers insisted on. Which shews, that Christ came for higher and more excel­lent Ends, than meerly to ‘set up a Scheme of (even Chris­tian) Morality among Mankind.’ Whereas if our Au­thor's Account of Christ's coming were true (as represented in his Discourse) then the Commission he gave to his Dis­ciples, must be superior even to his own; but the contrary has been proved. And I farther observe, that in Propor­tion, [Page 89] as any deny or obscure the main Design of Christ's coming into the World, so far (I say) as this is done by any, it must appear equally blasphemous and absurd.

3. Aother Argument is,—That if Christ was born and came into the World only to settle the Scheme so highly applauded by our Author, then his Work is already finished, and he has Nothing further to act on Man's Behalf. For having once settled this Scheme, it seems according to our Author, Christ had Nothing more to do. But we have a more sure Word, than this Author's Credit will reach, in this Case. The Scriptures plainly tell us, The Man Christ Jesus is Mediator between God and Man; and as Media­tor he sustained a three-fold Office when on Earth, viz. the Office of a Prophet, and of a Priest, and of a King: which Offices he continues still, tho' in Heaven, to execute in the Earth, not personally, but by his Agents and In­struments. He still executes his pr [...]phetick Office; and this he does by his Spirit enlightening us, by his Word instructing us, and by his Ministers dispensing the Word and Ordinances.—Christ also still executes his Kingly Of­fice, in common Providence, in his Church, and in the Hearts of Believers. C [...]ist by his Kingly Power restrains (as he pleases) the Sons of Men, both Saints and Sinners, from the open as well as secret Wickedness they are natu­rally inclined to. He restrains by his Power the Perse­cutors of his Church and People: He makes the Wrath of Man to praise him, and the Remainder of Wrath he restrains. He subdues by his Power the Stubbornness of Men's Wills, and brings them into Subjection to his holy Law: and as he has led Captivity Captive, He rescues Souls from the Power of Satan, and translates them into his own Kingdom, the Church militant here below, by converting Grace, re­newing them in the Spirit of their Minds, sanctifying and fit­ing them for triumphal Glory; so that where he is, there all that are given to him by the Father, in the Covenant of redeeming Grace, shall be also in due Time, in Answer to his mediatory Prayer, Joh. 17. 24.—Thus we see, Christ had other and higher Motives in View, when he [Page 90] came into the World, than to meerly settle a Scheme of Morality.—But then by Way of Eminency, we are to consider Christ as sustaining the Office of a Priest; wherein the Redemption of Sinners is in a more special and primary Manner concerned: And his Priesthood is an everlasting Priesthood. He has once offered up himself a lasting Sa­crifice, acceptable to God, for the Expiation of Sin. Therefore it is said, With his Stripes we are healed: And that, because the Chastisement of our Peace was upon him. Isai. 53. 5.—Agreable to which the Apostle Paul remarks, that we have Redemption through his Blood, even the For­giveness of Sins. Eph. 1. 7.—The same Thing he repeats in Col. 1. 14.—See also Heb. 5. 7.—And the Apostle having proved the Insignificancy of legal Sacrifices, in Point of spiritual Purification, or to cleanse the Soul from Sin, Heb. 9 13. he proceeds, v. 14. to say, How much more shall the Blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without Spot to God, purge your Consciences from dead Works to serve the living God?—Christ is therefore said to be consecrated for evermore. Heb. 7. 28.—

Having thus hinted at some of the Ends and Designs of Christ's coming into the World, and what he did when here below, superiour to that of settling a Scheme of moral Virtue; I proceed to shew, That notwithstanding all that he did in establishing, as well as refining this Scheme, and what he has done in his higher and more excellent Acts relating to his glorifying God in the Work of Man's Re­demption, which was the principal Thing aimed at in the Father's anointing and sending him, and Christ's volun­tarily engaging in the great and difficult Service of a Me­diator, his Work is not wholly done (as before has been noted with Regard to his Prophetick and Kingly Offices) but this of his Priestly Office he continues still in the Exer­cise and Execution of.—He is said to be our Fore-runner, entred into Heaven, (Heb. 6. 20.) to appear in the Presence of God for us. (Heb. 9. 24.)—And he appears before God as our Advocate. (1 Joh. 2. 1)—And this our blessed Ad­vocate with the Father is able also to save even to the utter­most [Page 91] all that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make Intercession for them. (Heb. 7. 25.)—It plainly ap­pears then, from what has been said under this Head, that neither Moses, nor the Prophets, any of them, that testified before-hand of Christ's coming, nor Christ himself, nor his Apostles, are Vouchers for our Author: but unite in witnessing against his Sentiments, that the End of Christ's being born and coming into the World was to settle a Scheme of Morality, either exclusive or transcendent to all those wonderful Designs, I have refer'd to above, that ac­cording to the Scripture Christ came for and partly effect­ed when here on the Earth, and is now carrying on in Heaven, by Vertue of his mediatorial Authority, Suffici­ency, and boundless Grace.—Unhappy it is, that these great Things concerning Christ should be [...], and as it seems, with Design, by our Author, to magni [...]ie moral Virtue, whatever becomes of the Essentials of Chris­tianity.—Now, what the Apostle Peter awfully speaks concerning false Teachers, I am afraid is like to be the de­plorable State of poor New-England, and the Churches here, if the Errors advanced by some among us are suffer­ed to prevail. See 2 Pet. 2. 1, 2. There were false Pro­phets also among the People, even as there shall be false Teach­ers among you, who—shall bring in—Heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift Destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious Ways, by Reason of whom the Way of Truth shall be evil spoken of. Now they deny the Lord Jesus, who deny the Divinity of his Person, and his Satisfaction; and who deny any of the Fundamentals of the Doctrine of Christ; either the Doctrine which he himself taught in his personal Ministry, or which his Apostles by Commission from him, and under the Inspiration of his Spirit, t [...]ght after his Ascen­sion. Such may well be ranked under the Character of them that are ashamed of Christ and of his Words, or that deny the Lord which bought us, who reject the Doctrine delivered by his Apostles in his Name, under whatever Pretence. Christ and his Apostles harmonized in their Doctrine: [Page 92] And the Apostles fully agreed among themselves. Hence they sometimes bore Testimony to one another's Doctrine. 2 Pet. 3. 15.—Even as our beloved Brother Paul also, ac­cording to the Wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you; as also in all his Epistles, speaking in them of these Things: in which are some Things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned & unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scrip­tures, unto their own Destruction. Now, on this Text I ground an Argument, to prove the divine Authority of the Doctrine of Election, of Original Sin, of imputed Righteousness, and o­ther Doctrines contained in the Scriptures, particularly in Paul▪s Epistles, which protestant Expositors and Preachers in general have held, and for which this Author so strong­ly condemns them. The Argument for Proof of these Doc­trines which Paul preach'd, lies here. As Peter was one of Christ's Apostles, sent by a special and immediate Com­mission, and under the special Direction and Influence of the Holy Spirit, to preach the Gospel, to disciple all Na­tions, baptising them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all Things, whatsoever Christ had commanded them; hence in this Way of teaching and observing all Things which Christ had commanded, that Promise was his, Lo, I am with you alway, even to the End of the World. Matth. 28. 19, 20.—If Paul therefore, in any of his Epistle's, had delivered Doctrines contrary to the Mind of Christ, which Peter had a personal and very particular Knowledge of, it must be supposed he would in Faithfulness have corrected Paul's Error in that Case. But Peter, we see, justifies and confirms those Doctrines Paul had delivered in his Epistles; yea, tho' some of them were hard to be understood, and so (like some of the Para­bles and Sayings of Christ) required a close Application of Mind to know then Meaning. On which we may note, That it is for Want of a mature and deliberate Conside­ration, and Inquiry into the Nature and Authority, as well as Grounds of these and some other Scripture-Doctrines, that some [...] the Apostle's Words) who are unlearned and unstable, wre [...]t Paul's [...], even as they do also the [Page 93] other Scriptures, unto their own Destruction.—If then, di­vine Inspiration and the Testimony of the Spirit, by which these Apostles spake, has any Weight with us, we must conclude, these Doctrines (however contested and ridicul'd by some at this Day) yet being taught in Paul' [...] Epistles, they are according to the Mind of Christ; and those that deny his Truths, however hard to be understood, I think, may justly be said to deny Christ, and may fear that he will deny them before his Father which is in Heaven, according to Matth. 10. 33.

But I have yet something farther to add on Christ's Be­half, and in Vindication, as of the Doctrines we are here treating of, so of those that profess them.

It is worthy of our Observation, to whom the Apostle Peter writes his Epistles. The first of them he superscribes thus,—To the Strangers scattered throughout Pontus, &c. ELECT according to the fore-knowledge of God the Father. His second Epistle is thus directed, To them that have ob­tained like precious Faith with us, through the Righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Those he wrote to, were Christians in the Apostle's Eye and Opinion, that had been instructed in the Doctrines which Peter, and Paul, and other Apostles preached, and had believed and pro­fessed the same. Now, if we compare these Characters of those he wrote to, with the Apostle's Words in 2 Pet. 3. 17. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these Things before, be­ware lest ye also being led away with the Error of the Wicked, fall from your own Stedfastness: What other, or stronger Evidence do we need, to confirm our Faith in these Doc­trines, taught in Paul's Epistles, and in other Parts of Scripture? It is plain, they whom the Apostle wrote to, had known these Doctrines, had been thoro'ly instructed in them, and were not Strangers to them: However he cau­tions them, in a Day of Temptation, to beware lest they being led away with the Error of the Wicked (viz. whom he had before described the unlearned and unstable, i. e. Men that were willingly ignorant of these Things, and of an un­ [...]ound Mind, who perverted the Scriptures, to invalidate the [Page 94] Doctrines contained therein, and make them, if possible, serve to promote Error) fall from their own Stedfastness. It seems, they had been taught these, and other Gospel-Doc­trines, from their first Acquainta [...]ce with, and Profession of Christianity, and were in some Measure establish'd in them; yet, were not so out of all Danger by Seducers, but that they had need be upon their Guard.—It is beyond all Contradiction then, I presume, that the Apostles, in these and all other Points, harmonized with their Lord and Master Jesus Christ; as by the Power and Influence of his Spirit, and in his Name and under his Authority, they spake, and delivered these Things to us. And we have the Testimony even of Devils, confirming it by one of their officious Agents, who followed Paul and the other Ministers that accompanied him, and who contrary to her own and her Master's Gains was constrained to cry out, and say, These Men are the Servants of the Most High God, which shew unto us the Way of Salvation. (Act. 16. 17.) Now, the Method they took in shewing Men the Way of Salvati­on, was, by preaching CHRIST, and the Doctrines he had directed them to preach; particularly, the Doctrine of a personal and eternal Election of Grace, the Doctrine of Ori­ginal Sin, of Redemption by the Blood of Christ, of Justifi­cation by Faith, of imputed Righteousness, of efficacious Grace, &c. which have been considered in the foregoing Part of these Remarks. They also preached, both to the Jews and also to the Greeks, Repentance toward God, and Faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ; and testify'd to Believers the Necessity of a holy Practice, pres [...]ing on them the Duties of the Chris­tian Life, in a plain and powerful Manner.—It may be proper now to look a little into Paul's Testimony concern­ing himself, and see what he says in his own Behalf, and in Respect of the Doctrines he had preach'd. He makes that solemn Asseveration (Act. 20. 20, 27.) I kept back nothing that was profitable to you—For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the Counsel of God.—Now if these Doctrines I have treated of, are not really a Part of God's Counsel, or are not truly profitable to Men, Paul, and the other Apostles and [Page 95] Preachers of the Gospel, in the Infant-State of Christianity, must be deemed great Impostors, and designing to deceive the World to a monstrous Degree. But, how horrid is this for any to imagine! Tho' perhaps there be some of Paul's Directors among us, and Pretenders to correct the Scrip­tures, who may think it high Time to blot some Texts out of the Bible, as they have declared for erasing these Doctrines out of our excellent Assembly's Catechism.

I hope, the candid Reader will excuse this long Excur­sion, occasioned by a Pamphlet's coming to my Hand as I was transcribing my Papers, intitled, "A Narrative of an unhappy Contention in the Church at Ashford in Connec­ticut, &c. published by their late Pastor:" In which are sundry gross Arminian Errors, or worse, as I apprehend, calculated to destroy the Faith, and subvert the Religion professed in these Churches. *

[Page 96]But to return to the Point in Hand, To deny the Doc­trines of Christ, is to deny CHRIST: and to deny the great Ends of his coming into the World, as our Author in the Discourse under Examination has done, must reflect Dis­grace [Page 97] and Contempt upon him: it truly reflects Dishonour upon the Son of God, and upon the whole Scheme of Redemption [Page 98] by him; and so upon the Wisdom of God in a Mystery, even the hidden Wisdom which God ordained before the World unto [Page 99] our Glory. 1 Cor. 2. 7. Do's it not most evidently dishonour CHRIST, to represent him only as a Preacher and Pattern of moral Righteousness; and at the same Time to conceal that great Gospel-Truth, our being by his Obedience made Righteous? nor so much as hinting, as if Men were natu­rally destitute of true moral Vertue; when in Fact the De­pravity contracted by the Fall, has spread it self in its sorrowful Effects on all Mankind, and brought an uni­versal Darkness and spiritual Death on all the Faculties of humanNature; so that now Men's moral Agency naturally leads them only to Evil, and not to that which is Good, as has been before observed. And yet our Author re­duces the Religion of JESUS to a meer refined System of mo­ral Vertue, or the Religion of Nature; which appears the worse, when it's considered withal, how superlatively this natural Religion or moral Vertue is dignified and exalted by him, in his representing it, not only as "the new Nature of right Action, which good Men are said to put on," but as "the ultimate View of GOD in all his Dispensations," yea, as "the supreme Dignity of GOD himself."—Let every one now judge, whether there is not a greater Appearance of Absurdity and Blasphemy in what this Author has dis­coursed in undue Applause of Morality, to the Disparage­ment of the Mediator and his Design, than there possibly can be in our (pretended)depreciating of moral Vertue, or the Righteousnesses of the very best Men upon Earth; always to be understood with the Limitations and Restrictions that have been offered, and not in an absolute Sense, as this Author vainly insinuates, and wou'd have the World believe, contrary to known Fact, and without the least Co­lour of Reason.

I come now to the last general Head of Remarks pro­posed, which was,

V. To resolve these two Inquiries; (1.) Whether our Author's reproachful Description of the Religion of Prote­stants opposed by him, (particularly as expressed in the 7th [...]nd 8th Pages of his Discourse) be not fairly applicable [...] to his own Religion, so far as we have it exhibited in [Page 100] this his Discourse?—And then (2.) Whether the Objec­tions which he has framed and pretended to Answer, in Re­lation to his Discourse (at the Close of it) do not really stand good, and contain a true & just Description of it, in it's Nature, and Tendency, notwithstanding his laboured Solutions?

I. The first Inquiry is, Whether the Author's Invectives, or the reproachful Description he has given of the Religion of Protestants opposed by him, in his Discourse (particularly his Reflections in Pag. 7th & 8th) be not fairly applicable rather to the Religion pleaded for and recommended by himself in this his Discourse?

He represents the pure and perfect Religion of JESUS, as by Means of the Principles which he opposes, turn'd in many Places into an idle Speculation, a mysterious Faith, a senseless Superstition, and a groundless Recumbency. Now the Question is, Whether these dark Characters do not more properly belong to the Religion our Author pleads for, than that he inveighs against? And I shall freely offer my Sentiments on this Point, however disagreable they may be to him, or others: Not with a Design to preju­dice the Minds of any against his Person, or injure his Name, but to convince him (if possible) of the pernicious Tendency of his Discourse, and to warn others against the dangerous Tenets he there espouses and urges.

(1.) As to idle Speculation, his Discourse seems evidently to abound with it. For such, it plainly appears (I think)the darling Sentiments of this Author are, viz. That the grand Design of Christ's coming into the World was only to set up the Christian Scheme; and that this in Sum and Substance is but a more refined System of Morality, enforced by [...]me peculiar Motives: nor is his Pretence, that ‘our [...] Happiness is suspended on moral Virtue, [...] our [...] good Behaviour,’ any other than a meer idle Speculation▪ If we receive these Principles of his, our [...] for Justification in the Sight of God must be [...] Righteousness which is of God by Faith, but o [...] [...] which is of the L [...]w. Whereas divine Revelation assures us, that Christ is become of none [...] unto you, [...] of you are [Page 101] justified by the Law; and that as many as are of the Law, are under the Curse. Gal. 2. 10. & 5 4.—Such therefore can obtain only an imaginary Justification, and so no better than an imaginary Title to Happiness. What then must these Pretences of this Author be, more than idle Speculations? The main Principles he holds and advances in his Dis­course, appear to me at best but idle Theory, speculative Absurdity, without any solid Foundation in "Scripture, or Reason, or even common Sense."—And,

2. As to mysterious Faith, which our Author adds to his idle Speculation, how aptly (tho' perhaps inadvertently) hath he given us a further Description of his own Religi­on? Delineating to the Life, what that is by his own Confession and publick Declaration, That ‘to set up the Christian Scheme, the most refined System of moral Ver­tue that ever the World was blessed with, was the grand Design of CHRIST'S coming into the World;’ and that this moral Vertue is the "Basis, and whole Superstructure of the Christian Religion"; and that "the whole of Man's Happiness is suspended on his personal good Behaviour"; and that "this is the Condition of all God's Favours to us," &c. Consequently, that our whole Happiness is with­in the Compass of our own Power; which must imply a mighty Opinion of our Self-Sufficiency, and the certain Va­lidity of Self-Righteousness. To believe all which, is to believe Things in their own Nature incredible, contradic­tory to the general Current of Revelation, and repugnant even to the Dictates of enlighten'd Reason and Conscience: therefore it may justly be called a mysterious Faith indeed. But surely this is not according to the Faith of God's Elect, and an acknowledging the Truth which is after Godliness, in Hope of eternal Life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the World began. (Tit. 1. 1, 2.) Such as disown the Doctrine of Election, of the Covenant of Redemption▪ of Original Sin, of effi [...]cious Grace, and in a Word, of its being the grand Design of the Mediator, to atone for Sin, and [...] in everlasting Righteousness, and justify Many; as h [...]ld forth in the Scriptures, are in Danger [...] not come to [Page 102] that Length already) of denying the Lord that purchased his Church with his own Blood, of renouncing the Doctrine of the ever blessed TRINITY, and exploding what is without Controversy the great Mystery of Godliness, God manifest in the Flesh.—The Faith that this Author professes, in the Discourse before us, is not that Faith which the Apostles preached, lived by, and kept unto the Death. (See Gal. 1. 23. & 2. 16,—20. & 2 Tim. 4. 7) The Apostle declares he had kept the Faith, the same Faith he had preached, respecting the fundamental Doctrines of Christianity, as set forth in his Epistles: and the same Faith has been re­ceived and kept, in general, also by Protestant Expositors and Preachers of the Gospel. But the Faith of our Au­thor is a mysterious Faith, truly; not founded in right Rea­son, nor taught in the Scriptures, which is the Rule and Standard of Faith, "teaching what Man is to believe concerning God, and what Duty God requires of Man."

This Author's Faith may rather be traced by turning our Eye to the Romish Church; where it may be found without much Difficulty, I apprehend, if it be not the very Essence of the Romish Faith, lying at the Bottom of that Mystery of Iniquity, which now is and for a long Time hath been working in the World. It certainly bears so near a Resemblance to it, that it is hard to distinguish them one from the other, or to say wherein there appears any im­portant Difference.

The Romish Church leads all in her Communion off from the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, from his Merits and Satisfaction, and from the supernatural Energy of his Spirit. Tho' they speak of his Merits (as do's our Au­thor also) yet they look to their own Works, their moral Agency, and place their Dependance on their personal good Behaviour, with him, or rather he with them. They say, as he does, that personal good Behaviour is that on which is suspended the whole of our Happiness: but to say, as he doth, that Revelation or the Scripture every where thus suspends it, is to raise a false Report of the Scripture, in my Opinion; and they that do so, are in Danger of [...] [Page 103] it to their own Destruction. And tho' he occasionally speaks of our Forgiveness and Acceptance through the Merits of Christ, so do they of the Romish Church, while yet they build all upon Works. Our Author indeed once mentions Faith & Repentance, but they are bro't in as it were acciden­tally, and spoken of by the by, seemingly with an indifferent Air, as if these were Things comparatively but of little Moment; and he lays the chief Stress on moral Vertue. Just so do the Papists. They glory in their Ab [...]tinences, Pilgrimages, and Visits to the Shrines of their canonized Saints: and to atone for former Sins, and obtain Favour with God, they have their Works of Supererogation, which they depend on as meritorious. What can our Author's "whole Happiness suspended on his personal good Behaviour," or "good Living" (another of his Phrases) intend less than what I have mentioned concerning the Papists Depen­dance on their own Merits, or their good Works? What do his Words imply, but that a good Life is the antecedent Condition of Forgiveness, and that we are justified by Works of Righteousness which we have done? or what is it better, than to believe with the Papists, that CHRIST has merited that we may merit? Mysterious Faith indeed!

I would lead this Author to a further Parallel of his mysterious Faith, founded on moral Vertue, or Duties of Morality, in the received Sentiments of the Savage and Unciviliz'd Heathen, and the Dependance they have on moral Vertue. Generally they have a Faith (such as it is) of some superintendent Deity, and of a future State, where every one shall be happy or miserable, according to their personal good or ill Behaviour here,—i. e. according to the Rules of Morality among them. Such as have lived mo­rally, are (as they imagine) at Death to go to the South­ward, and enjoy much Pleasure in a warm Climate and temperate Air: but such as have been corrupt & immoral in Life according to them, they assign to the Northern and frigid Parts of the World, to be afflicted with Cold. So that their Hopes for Futurity are built on moral Vertue; on which this Author also places such a Dependance.

[Page 104]I suppose now, the Reader may easily determine, by what has been said, To whom the Charge of holding a mysterious (stupid) Faith is justly to be applied. For tho' it's designed by him, to cast open Contempt on the Faith professed in these Churches and by their Teachers in general, so plainly founded in Scripture; yet the Reproach must lie upon this Author, whose Faith, as professed by him in his Discourse, so nearly resembles, or is rather of the sameCast with that of the Papists, or the Heathens, particularly in Point of Justification by Works.. Therefore to prevent turning back again to Popery, or Heathenism, from which we and our Fathers, and the Protestant Churches have been so happily delivered, it concerns every one to take Heed to themselves, that they be not carried about with a strange Wind of Doctrine, or entertain such a Faith as the Scripture has not taught us, but is the meer Invention of crafty Seducers, who have manifestly departed from the Truth as it is in JESUS, and espoused such Errors, as tend to the Overthr [...] of that pure Religion, which has thus long been the Glory and Renown of these Churches, and of the Protestant Churches in general.

I shall dismiss this Head, which relates to our Author's mysterious Faith, with reminding my Reader, of the Cau­tion given to us, in the 2d Epistle of Joh. v. 8, 9, 10, 11. Look to your selves, that we lose not those Things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full Reward.—Whoso­ever transgresseth, and abideth not in the Doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the Doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.—If there come any unto you, and bring not this Doctrine, receive him not into your House, neither bid him God Speed.—For he that biddeth him God Speed, is partaker of his evil Deeds.—Only give me Leave to add one Remark here, in a Word: The Doctrine of Christ, as above-mentioned, must intend the Doctrine delivered by Christ and his Apostles, contained in the Gos­pel, particularly respecting his Person and Mediation:—And for any one to overlook the great Work of the Re­deemer, the Satisfaction he has made for Sin, and assign [Page 105] it as the only End or grand Design of our Saviour's coming into the World, to settle [...] Scheme of M [...]r [...]lity and appear in Quality of a Preacher and a Pattern of moral Vertue,—as I think our Author has done—This, I say, is by a just Interpretation to deny Christ some of the essential Glories of his Mediation;—'tis in Effect or in Part (at least) to deny his Incarnation, or coming in the Flesh, and so far, not to confess him: and he who denies that, the Apostle tells us, in a Deceiver.

3. Another Article of Charge, which this Author brings against Orthodox Expositors, and Preachers, who hold the commonly received Opinions in Divinity, is, that by their Means "the Religion of JESUS is in many Places turned into a senseless Superstition." Which must, I think, refer either to their Doctrine of Conviction, Terror, and Humiliation, preparatory to closing with Christ by Faith; or to the laudable Practice among us, of keeping Days of Fasting and Prayer, as well as publick Thanksgiving (if intended in this View, it must reflect on publick Authority prima­rily, for those Appointments) or to the Churches being scru­pulous of admitting human Inventions into the Worship of God; or else to our coming to God in the Name of the Mediator, depending on his Righteousness, and not on our own moral Vertue, or personal Righteousness, for Accep­tance▪ with God, and obtaining his Favour; or lastly, to our being unwilling to make Morality the whole Sum and Substance of Christianity. And taken with this Reference, it may intend, that whatsoever any pretend to in Religion more than only moral Vertue, or any Thing beyond a Righ­teousness of their own, is but a senseless Superstition: And this is truly according to his own declared Sentiment, by representing moral Vertue (to use his own Phrase) as the very "Basi [...] & whole Superstructure of Religion." But if so, then indeed there needs much less Spirituality in Worship, and in the Hearts and Lives of Christians: Then there is no Need of Regeneration, no Need of Faith in the Blood of Christ, no Need of Humiliation and Soul-Compunction for indwelling Sin,&c. If moral Vertue is all that we have [Page 106] to seek after, and if it were true (as he says) that ‘our whole Happiness depends on our personal good Behavi­our; if this were all that God requires of us, then any Thing farther pretended to, might be esteemed Superflu­ous in the Service of God. But this is disclaimed by those that this Reproach is designed against (by the Author of it) who are careful to profess nothing as Matter of Faith, but what God has revealed, and nothing as Acts of Reli­gion and the Worship of God, but what he has appointed in his Word.—But then, what shall be said of them that are unsound in the Faith, to that Degree, as to teach for Doc­trine the vainImaginations of their own dark and becloud­ed Reason; and who act under the Influence perhaps of a corrupted Judgment and misguided Conscience? For if Persons are unsound in the Faith, this will lead them into Corruptions and Innovations in Worship, and even to set aside the Scriptures as useless, which are the only true Rule and Standard of both.—The reproachful Charge, of a senseless Superstition, must then fall upon this Author him­self.—I shall further here only mention the Observation some have made, That it is impossible for such as profess Arminianism, in it's full Latitude, to make a Prayer to God, consistent with their own Principles.—To this I may add, Such especially as have run the Length of this Author, in that unhappy and dangerous Scheme, if their Devotions are conformable to what are common among us, must needs, so far as herein they don't conform to their avow'd Principles, be guilty of senseless Superstition.

4. His last Article of Reflection or Charge, on Protes­tant Expositors, Preachers, and others, is, That by Means of their Sentiments in Divinity, "the pure and perfect Reli­gion of JESUS is in many Places turned into a groundless Re­cumbancy." Now that this groundless Recumbency, as well as his other Instances of the bad Effects of the commonly received Protestant Doctrine, is unjustly applied, and ra­ther concerns himself, is my Business to shew; which when I have done, the whole Charge (I apprehend) will [...]all in full Weight on the misguided Author, as the natural Re­sult [Page 107] from what he calls "The pure and perfect Religion of JESUS," viz. a refin'd System of Morality.—For any Man to place his Hope of Happiness on that which comes with­in the Reach of his own natural Ability, with the Aid of common Grace, as personal good Behaviour does, this is un­doubtedly a groundless Recumbency; it will prove as a bro­ken Staff to him that lean [...] on it, or as a Foot out of Joint. That Word of the Apostle to the Colossians, CHRIST in you the Hope of Glory, is sufficient to shew the falseness of the unregenerate Moralist's Hope; this is built on the Sand; it has no sure Foundation for it's Support, neither in Scrip­ture nor right Reason. Nothing short of the Righteous­ness which is of God, wrought out by Christ, and made our's by a gracious Imputation and a believing Accep­tance, is a sufficient Ground of Justification of Life, or a proper Object of our Confidence and Reliance. It is but a vain Confidence in the Flesh, that depends on meer moral Vertue, and not on the Righteousness of Faith

Thus, I think, it plainly appears, that the idle Specula­tion, the mysterious Faith, the senseless Superstition, and the groundless Recumbancy, which this Author charges on o­thers, do all lie on himself: And the whole serves to shew of what Make his Religion is, together with all others who profess moral Vertue to be the Sum and Substance of Christianity, the Basis and whole Superstructure of the Reli­gion of JESUS; and accordingly suppose the whole of their Happiness to be suspended on their personal good Behaviour.

Now, is it not beyond all Account strange, and indeed Matter of Amazement, that one under the Character of a Minister and but in his Youth, should give himself the Li­berty thus to revile and vilify our Religion, so firmly founded on Scripture, and the many Thousand excellently pious Professors of it? And to enforce his Reproaches, should espouse the Language of the most inveterate Haters of every Thing that is Religious, or that carries the Ap­pearance of it! What can Infidels say more to prejudice the Minds of People against the Doctrines of the Gospel, and those that profess them, many of whom have suffered [Page 108] in the Defence of them? What can easily be said more in Contempt of genuine Christianity, and the Essentials of our Religion? It is rare to find any [...]o open and bold as to ridicule our sacred Profession to the like Degree, among prophane Swea [...]ers, Drunkards, Sabb [...]th breakers, Ishmaelitish Scoffers, and Despisers of all that is Good, or that tends to the Good of Souls!

If the Case were as he has represented it in his virulent Invective, what a wretched Condition must our Fore-fathers the Planters of New-England have been in, who lived and died in the Profession of that Faith and Religion which he so condemns and contemns?

When we reflect on the Generations past, and take an impartial View of the many eminent Reformers Abroad, and of the many Ministers of Jesus Christ in this Land, who were faithful and unwearied in their Day, to build up his Kingdom, and establish Truth & Holiness in the Churches, not by Tradition from the Fathers, but from the unerring Oracles of God, and we trust, under the Direction and some good Degrees of the Influence of the Holy Spirit; Whose Doctrine and Example of Life loudly testified for them; I think this a sufficient Testimony for them in the Consci­ences of their Posterity, which should constrain us to ac­knowledge. That God was with them of a very Truth.—But alas! what a gloomy and dismal Scene now appears on the Stage, Tragical indeed to behold! Some, and this Author in particular, using their utmost Efforts to overthrow the very Foundation of these Churches, and turn their Glory into Shame? What may we expect as the Issue of such Attempts! unless GOD by his alwise, powerful, and gracious, over-ruling Providence interposes for our Help.—And I think it proper in this Day of Assault upon the Ark of God, to renew that Exclamation—Who is on the Lord's Side? Who? (with a Reduplication)—And may all that have the Interest of Christ at Pleart, and that are jealous for his Son-ship, for the Glory of his Mediation, and Work of Redemption, unite with instant Prayer to God for the pouring down of his Spirit upon us, to establish Gospel­Truth [Page 109] and Holiness in the midst of us, and to def [...]t the Counsels of all the Troublers of our Israel.

I come now to consider,

2. The second Inquiry proposed, viz. Whether the true Nature and Tendency of this Author's Discourse is not fairly represented in the Objections, which he himself has raised and pretended to answer, in the Conclusion of it? And so, whether these Objections don't abide in full Force against it, notwithstanding all his laboured Solutions, and pre­tended Vindications of himself?

1. He says, Pag. 28.—‘I expect by this Time, some are ready to break forth,—Ah! all this directly tends to build People up in their own Righteousness.—Truly our Author appears a Man of some Fore-sight, and to have a Talent at Conjecture. For surely his Performance has very plainly that, and no other Aspect; and every well principle'd and experienc'd Christian would naturally be led to make such a Judgment upon it. He that runs may read this to be the Scope and Drift [...], from Beginning to End. And what is the Author's Reply? a meer Evasion▪ He beats the Air, and raises a Dust, to blind the Eyes of unwary Readers, and amuse the more Intelligent: While yet, if the Case be duly weighed, his Answer serves not to remove the Objection, but rather confirms and strength­ens it. For he acknowledges, ‘If by his Discourse's building People up in their own Righteousness be meant, that it recommends Hypocrisy and counterfeit Vertue, that it places Religion in any external Duties, separate from a corresponding good Temper within, or in short, in any Righteousness of our own contriving & not taught of God, or in any Thing but what the Bible makes the Substance of our present Duty and the Condition of our future Happiness; if this be the Force of the Objection, He tells us, he ‘has no other Answer to make, but to leave every one to judge for himself, how groundless it is.’—Now, if this be all the Answer he has to make, in Defence of his Discourse, truly I think it but a meer Trifling in a Matter of such Moment; and that the [Page 110] Charge in the Objection is no Ways removed, but fixed and corroborated by this his Reply. For what can tend more to recommend Hypocrisy and counterfeit Vertue, than to ex­ [...]or [...] Men to the Practice of Righteousness, without consi­dering them as fallen Creatures, destitute of a vital Prin­ciple of Holiness, and without first laying the Foundation of Repentance toward God, and Faith toward our Lord Je­sus Christ? According to Paul's Example (Act. 20. 21.) who must be own'd a most con [...]mmate Preacher and As­serter of Truth and Vertue, even beyond our Author him­self, notwithstanding all his specious Appearances in Be­half of moral Vertue: The Obligation whereto none of our Orthodox Expositors or Preachers, that I know of, deny; but own it to be of Necessity in the Christian Life. Yet to pretend, as our Author doth; that it is the Basis and whole Superstructure of Religion, is but a windy and vain Imagination. For certainly where there is no true Contri­tion of Heart for Sin, nor unfeigned Faith in the Blood of of Christ, and consequently no Love in Sincerity towards God or Man, how can these at best be any Thing better than unregenerate Morality, or (in our Author's Phrase) Counterfeit Vertue? And while Men attend the Externals of divine Worship, how can there possibly be a correspond­ing good Temper within, without humble Faith in the Media­tor, teaching them to do all in HIS Name, with intire Depen­dance on his Righteousness and Strength? But how can there be this Faith in Christ, where Men only depend on their moral Agency under the Aids of meer common Grace, and trust to their own Righteousness for Acceptance with God? Alas, what spiritual Pride and Vanity is it in any, to imagine that by their own Sufficiency they are able to do all required of them, both toward God and toward their fellow Creatures, and to trust in their personal good Beha­viour, to recommend them to the divine Mercy!—Yet af­ter all, what can we conceive of this Author's corres­ponding good Temper within, but that it means somewhat carrying a Correspondence with (or perhaps the very same Thing with) what others depend much on, under the Name [Page 111] of The Light within, and moral Honesty, even so as to re­nounce Scripture-Revelation, especially in the Letter of it, [...]s of a killing and destructive Quality?—. And this looks the more likely, as such are Enemies to the Doctrine of Ori­ginal Sin, and of imputed Righteousness, and disown even Christ's Satisfaction or Atonement: And in this Regard shew a Temper within corresponding with that shewn in [...]ut Author's Discourse.

In the Conclusion of his Answer to the present Objec­tion, he do's but still confirm it, while he owns ‘his Rejoyc­ing in the least Tendency his Discourse has, to build People up in their own Righteousness, if by this be designed, it is any Ways calculated to encourage personal Goodness, and promote the Practice of moral and Christian Vertue in the World. Which is to be understood, according to the Run of his whole Performance, as intending only the Prac­tice of the Duties of Morality, without justifying Faith and a regenerating Change on the Heart [...] and how dan­gerous it is to rest in this, every one may easily judge.

We find him indeed confessing ‘his greatest Concern, up­on a Review of his Discourse, That so good a Design I [...] so poorly served.—For this, I think truly he had just Reason, since it so evidently disowns those peculiar Doc­trines of the Gospel, which under the Influence of the Spi­rit of Grace, have the most powerful Efficacy to promote genuine Christian Vertue; and since it rather explodes, than recommends that Faith in CHRIST, which is the grand Principle of true and acceptable Obedience. For, where he once speaks of ‘Reliance on the Merit & Intercession of Christ,’ 'tis not in Language of Recommendation, but rather with Marks of Depreciation, and a visible Air of Contempt.

2. Another Objection which he mentions and pretends to Answer (Pag. 29.) is this.—Not one Word of Christ, nor the least Savour of true Gospel Soul saving Preaching in all this Discourse.—Upon which I must observe, 'tis lamentable, that one who sustains the Character of a Mi­nister of Christ, and a Preacher of the Gospel, and pretends [Page 112] to regard the saving of Souls, shou'd allow himself, in stat­ing this Objection, to use such an Air of Levity & Banter, as is apparent here.

It may be readily granted, as to the first Part of the Objection, he might have done himself the Justice, to reply, that he had spoken more than one Word of Christ, in his Discourse; that he had named him, and that he had talked of him: But then it's proper to inquire, after what Man­ner and to what Purpose he has done this? To which it can only be answered, that he has named him indeed, but under a comparatively diminutive Character, as the great Preacher of Righteousness, who came to set up the Chris­an Scheme in the World, and by his Doctrine and Example to propagate Truth and Vertue.—But then not a single Word of CHRIST, as the great High-Priest of our Pro­fession; not one Word of CHRIST, as the Propitiation for our Sins; not a Word of CHRIST, as the Lord our Righ­teousness; not a Word of CHRIST, as having purchased his Church with his own Blood; not a Word of the Righteousness which is of God by Faith in CHRIST; and in Effect, nothing of the main Contents of the Gospel of Peace, as such. Nor can I discern the least Savour of true Evangelical Preaching in all this Discourse of his.

But let us attend our Author's Answer to this Objection. ‘The Difficulty (he thinks) will intirely vanish, when we come to adjust our Notions of the Thing.’ Which he attempts mainly in the Language and under the Counte­nance of one whom he calls "a late elegant Writer"▪ who tells us, "To preach CHRIST is universally acknow­ledged to be the Duty of every Christian Minister."—But what's the Ground of this Limitation? Why is the Christian Minister singled out? For if Morality be the Sum & Substance of Christianity (as we have all along heard) and if to preach Christ means to preach moral Vertue (as likewise we have heard) surely then the Duty extends to the Jewish Mini­ster, to the Mahometan, yea and to the Pagan,—as well as the Christian Minister.—But this Writer tells us, first, what is not meant by preaching CHRIST. ‘It is not (says [Page 113] he) to use his Name as a Charm, to work up our Hearers to a warm Pitch of Enthusiasm; without any Founda­tion in Reason to support it.’ Well, by this, I suppose, we may learn what is one of those "Rabble-Charming Sounds" our Author speaks of (Pag. 23.) as "converting some into such fiery Bigots, that they are ready to die in the Defence of Stupidity and Nonsense." Perhaps he looks upon that Sermon as truly deserving no better Character than this, where the Name of CHRIST is frequently repeat­ed, even tho' the Subject naturally leads to it, as being some Doctrine or Duty relating to Christ immediately. But verily to them which believe, CHRIST is precious, and his Name is as Oyntment poured forth. The Apostle Paul has set us an Example, who appears far from being shy of mentioning the Name of CHRIST; [...]ay, he rather seems to delight in often repeating it; insomuch that he names the Name of CHRIST on some Occasions, no less than ten Times in just so many Verses (1 Cor. 1.) and no less than seventeen or eighteen Times in one Chapter, as in Phil. 1. Where, by the Way, the Apostle expresly speaks of preaching CHRIST, v 15, 16, 18.—And if our Author, or the Writer he so highly commends and takes Sanctuary under, can reconcile what the inspired Writer says there, about preaching CHRIST, with their Notion of it's being to preach moral Vertue, the Controversy perhaps may soon be ended: but 'till then, let this Writer be who he will, I think it my Duty, not to forego a Certainty for an Uncertainty, and therefore choose rather to take my Measures from, and submit my Judgment to the Sentiments of this inspired Writer, Paul, than to our Author's elegant Writer, or any others whose Faith and Hope reach no farther than his seems to do, but terminate in Morality. It is the undoubted Duty of those who are Embassadors for CHRIST, to make frequent men­tion of his Name, both in their Sermons and Prayers; especially as it is expresly required of us, that whatever we do in Word or Deed, we should do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving Thanks to God and the Father by him. Col. 3. 17.—For Ministers to omit naming the Name of CHRIST in their Discourses, under a Pretext of Caution, left [Page 114] they should "Charm their Hearers, and work them up to a warm Pitch of Enthusiasm," appears to me a senseless Super­stition indeed, of human and modern Invention, having no Foundation in Scripture-Precept or Example, nor counte­nanced by the primitive Christian Preachers.—Certainly as our Lord Jesus observes, Out of the Abundance of the Heart the Mouth speaketh; and accordingly, I cannot but think, where Ministers have received the Love of the Truth, and have CHRIST much upon their Hearts, he will be much in their Mouths, nor will they scruple the explicit mention­ing of his Name frequently in their Praying & Preaching; tho' in this, as in all other Cases, Wisdom is profitable to direct. Nor wou'd I be understood to lay so much Stress on the meer naming of CHRIST; but rather on the Pur­poses for which we name him, and the Representations we make of his Person and Character, Offices and Benefits, Doc­trine and Religion.—I shall not spend more Time at pre­sent, nor trouble my Reader any further with this elegant Writer's Sentiments, (on which our Author, it seems, places such a mighty Dependance,) as he has delivered himself in such ambiguous Terms, and so exceptionably in general. Only I will take some Notice of his Manner of Expression, when he tells us positively his own Sense of what it is to preach CHRIST. It is, says he, ‘to represent him as a Law­giver, as well as a Saviour, as a Preacher of Righteousness, as one who hath given us a most noble & compleat System of Morality, enforced by the most substantial & worthy Motives.’—To what End, can we conceive, do's our Author introduce this his elegant Writer, as he stiles him? The Author is here pretending to vindicate his own Dis­course, and obviate an Objection he supposes made against it: but what do's this Quotation avail to his Purpose? Unless he might imagine (as probably he did) that this elegant Writer's Authority wou'd bear an equal Sway on the Judgment of others, as it did upon his own. Whereas truly all the Service it has done him, that I can find, is only to conform the Objection; and prove, that his Writer and Himself together are little better than Pelagian Mora­ [...], as there is much [...] said of Faith in the Blood of Christ, [Page 115] nothing of the Righteousness which is of God by Faith, nor of the other peculiar Doctrines of Christianity; only as they are spoken of mostly in a Way of Banter & Contempt.—As for "the most substantial and worthy Motives," this elegant Writer speaks of, these doubtless in his Opinion are those taken from the intrinsick Beauty and Excellency of Vertue, it's Advantages to Society, it's recommending us to God's Mercy, intitling us to Happiness, &c. according to the Strain of our Author. But I think, the Vertue acquired only by such Motives as these, however commendable it may appear in the Eyes of Men, yet in the Sight of the Heart-searching God will never stand approved for true Christian Vertue. While Men are destitute of the Faith of God's Elect, and without a vital Principle of Grace in the Heart, which is absolutely needful to govern their moral Actions, and lead them to the chief and ultimate End, they will, at best, but make a fair Shew in the Flesh, and will finally be found but as a sounding Brass, or a tinkling Cymbal.

But possibly our Author might perceive himself under a Necessity here to correct his elegant Writer, on a review of the Sentiments he had offered; and finding that they no Way served his Purpose, so as to remove the Objection, therefore he hath interpolated his Quotation, by inserting the following Parenthesis, containing perhaps the best Sentence in all his Discourse, if it had been introduced in it's proper Time and Place.—He thus breaks in upon his Writer, and after the Word Motives, says ‘(among which I may venture to mention as one of the most powerful, The Certainty of Forgiveness of Sins, and final Acceptance with the Father, through the Merits of the Son, upon the Condition of Faith, Repentance and Good-living.)’—But it looks very strange, that our Author, who had been all along in his Discourse pleading up moral Vertue, as the Basis and whole Superstructure of Religion, and as that on which our wh [...]le Happiness is suspended, &c. should now [...] last [...] in Faith and Repentance, and croud them in th [...], out of Place; where his [...] Business was▪ if he knew [...] [Page 116] had raised; without doing which, doubtless he was well aware, it wou'd unavoidably fall under the just Censure of every judicious & cautious Reader. But it's odd in him now, instead of defending his Discourse, to fall to mending of it, by diverting to what seems to carry with it something of an Evangelical Aspect. Yet it in no Wise answers his pre­tended Purpose; the Objection stands in it's full Form and Force against him. And it is yet farther evident, that the Author has no great Regard to Faith and Repentance: for, as we find in the Close of all, he sums up the Whole or Main of our Saviour's Preaching in moral Vertue. Our Author's Words are, ‘To preach up chiefly what CHRIST himself laid the chiefest Stress upon (and whether this was not moral Vertue, let every one judge from his Discourses) must certainly, in the Opinion of all sober Men, be called truly and properly, and in the best Sense preaching of CHRIST.’—The Ambiguity of Expression here may be design'd, as in some other Parts of this Author's Performance, for an Evasion. However, it shews us the little Regard he has for Faith and Repentance, or indeed for the Honour of CHRIST, that he has so soon lost the Impression of these evangelical Words, and instantly returns again to his beloved Morality: and he visibly puts Contempt on CHRIST, by representing him as laying the chiefest Stress on moral Ver­tue, in his Preaching. Which I apprehend may be easily disproved. It is granted, Christ did preach up moral Ver­tue, rightly understood. As he came not to destroy, but to fulfill the Law, so he saw fit to explain and inculcate it on his Hearers: he saw meet, for the detection of Hypocrites, and awakening of Sinners, as well as for the Direction of his Disciples moral Conduct, to preach the Law, or lay before them "the eternal Rules of Morality." Yet notwithstanding▪ it is Fact, that he began, continued and ended his Ministry with preaching the Gospel, and inculcating chiefly the Doctrines of Faith and Repentance. Christ began his publick Ministry on Earth with preach­ing up Faith and Repentance. See Ma [...]. 1. 15.—The great and [...] [...] by Christ, were made [...] [...] and [...] Name.—The mira­culous [Page 117] Cures Christ wrought, are not ascribed to Men's moral Vertue, but to their Faith. It was a Word often used by Christ, Thy FAITH hath saved thee: Or, Thy FAITH hath made thee Whole.—These wonderful Works were emblematical of the Wonders of recovering and renewing Grace wrought on the Souls of Men; brought about by Faith & Repentance instrumentally, as the Means in Christ's Hand to effect the spiritual Cure, without which there can be no Hope of Salvation. By Grace ye are saved thro' Faith, this is the practical Language of Christ's Miracles. Christ preached Faith, when he said, Ye believe in God, Believe also in me. Joh. 14. 1.—The Parables of Christ were evidently calculated chiefly to recommend Faith: And if Christ in his Discourses laid the chief Stress on moral Vertue, there must then be a wide Difference of Meaning between his Discourses and his Parables; which it would be Profanity to imagine.—Christ also finished his personal Ministry with preaching Faith and Repentance.(Mar. 16. 16. &Luk. 24. 46, 47.) It may be added, he directed his Apostles, and in them all his Ministers in Succession for ever, to preach up Faith & Repentance; tho' not exclusively of good Works, as their proper Fruits, and the Evidences of their Sinceri­ty.—It is strange therefore, with what Face this Author (or his elegant Writer) could assert, or so much as insinu­ate, that CHRIST laid the chief Stress on moral Vertue!—How inconsistent is this Hypothesis with Revelation, with Reason, and even with common Sense! Therefore to be de­tested by every one, that so much as pretends to Religion, or to found their Belief on the Doctrine of CHRIST in the Gospel.—Certainly the Apostles understood the Mind of CHRIST in this Case, better than our Author, or the Writer he so much glories in: And if we trace the sacred Records of their Preaching, together with their Epistles, we shall find these Holy Men, as they were moved by the holy Ghost, preach­ing chiefly Faith and Repentance, and not laying Stress on moral Vertue, otherwise than as resulting from these [...] Principles.

[...], this Gentleman has the Satisfaction to think, [...] [...] Men must certainly approve of his Sentiments [Page 118] delivered in his Discourse: and possibly he is the more strengthen'd in his erroneous and unscriptural Way of Writing, by the Quotation he produces from that elegant Writer he speaks of. But I must assure him, I have not so learned CHRIST, as to treat his Person, Name, Offices, Miracles, and Preaching, with such dareing Marks of Con­tempt, or to detract from CHRIST the Glory of his Mission, Negociations, and Instructions, when here in the World.

Remarkable is the Confidence, with which our Author expresses his Sentiments, concerning ‘what must cer­tainly be called truly and properly, and in the best Sense Preaching of CHRIST,’ viz. the preaching up moral Vertue; & this to be understood, with a common Neglect of Faith in Christ, and the Righteousness which is of Faith: He doubtless intended this Observation as a Point of Doctrine, enforced by his own and his elegant Writer's Au­thority. He must mean it, I think, as an Instruction to others, as well as a Vindication of his Discourse. If only to take off the Objection laid against this, was his De­sign, he has strangely miss'd his Aim: For he has strongly confirmed it, by telling us, That preaching up moral Ver­tue, is truly and properly and in the best Sense preaching CHRIST.—But probably he design'd this for a standing Rule, to direct Ministers how to preach CHRIST, in the Pro­perest and best Manner: And he might intend his Discourse to be a Model or Pattern for them to Copy after.—How­ever, as I trust, there are few of the Ministers in these New-England Churches, led away from the Truth, to that De­gree, as to e [...]ertain their Hearers with such idle Specula­tions, and jejune Harangues on Morality: So I would hope, none of the Candidates for the Pulpit will receive his Arbitrary Dictates in his present Discourse. The moral Vertue our Author has discoursed of, is not that true Holiness, which CHRIST commends to us in the Gospel: but rather is like the Righteousness of the unbelieving Scribes and Pharis [...]es, on which our Lord did manifestly cast Con­tempt, and therefore could not lay the chiefest Stress upon it.—Paul testified both to the Jews and Greeks, Repentance toward God▪ and Faith [...] [...] Jesus Christ. It was [Page 119] these Graces that Paul chiefly preach'd up, to which he was inspir'd; and moral Vertue, only as the Fruit and Evidence of those Graces.—Consistent with this, he determined not to know any Thing, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Upon the whole, whether our Author will look upon me among the Number of sober M [...]n or not, I cannot but bear my publick Testimony against this unjustifiable Discourse of his, which I have been remarking upon. And I can truly say, it is with much Grief of Mind, and as Mat­ter of deep Humiliation of Soul in the Sight of God, that I find in this Author (and the Gentleman, whose Narrative I have taken some Notice of before; with some others that have lately been set up in the Ministry) corrupt Senti­ments in Religion, and such Notions about Gospel-Doc­trines, as must, I think, appear to the generality of sober Men to be of a really bad and dangerous Tendency, and of a Latitudinarian and unscriptural Aspect, tending to subvert the Gospel of the Grace of God; to destroy the Faith, once delivered to the Saints, and generally professed by Protes­tants, in these and other Parts of the reformed World; to pluck up the true Basis, and to pull down the whole Super­structure of the Religion of JESUS; to substitute Men's moral Attainments in the Room of the Righteousness of God, by Faith in Jesus Christ.—Indeed this Discourse I have taken thus under Consideration, seems calculated to suit the false Relish of Deists and Libertines, rather than to edify or gra­tify any truly sober sincere Christian. And as one that is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, I can't but own my self greatly ashamed and grieved, that any who bear the Cha­racter of sober Men, and have been trained up in the Prin­ciples of our holy Religion, by their being catechised and other Ways instructed therein, shou'd notwithstanding be so ignorant, as not to see, or so prejudiced and partial, as not to confess, the Absurdity and the blasphemous Tendency of such a Discourse, as this of our Author appears in my Eyes manifestly to be.

Accordingly my serious and hearty Wi [...]h for this Au­thor and the [...] of his Performances (this & others offered to publick View, is, That God may give them Re­pentance, [Page 120] to the acknowledgment of the Truth: even that Truth in Doc­trine and Practice I am contending for, and labouring to defend, which is founded on the Mind of God revealed in the Scriptures of Truth; there­fore not dependent on human Reasonings, much less on the crafty Insinu­ations of such as lie in wait to deceive; whose Delusions are always to be guarded against, whether we Eye them in their Intention, or their di­rect Tendency and necessary Consequences.—And as my sincere Aims have been and are, I trust, to plead for the Truth as it is in JESUS, and only testify against Error, I shall stand open to Light from any, who may give me a clearer Understanding in those Things of which I have treat­ed, and produce better Arguments, supported by the Scripture. But I shall slight the Scoffs and Invectives of those whose main Talent and Genius▪ leads them mostly to banter and ridicule Things sacred and spiritual, and whose Endeavours are to overthrow the pure Religion of JESUS, as taught and professed in these Churches of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, by corrupt Tenets, and innovated Methods of Conduct, destruc­tive of our Holy Profession and most valuable Privileges, and beyond Expression wounding to the South of the rising Generation.—And here I may subjoin, not unfitly or unseasonably, what the Apostle Paul writes to the Church of CHRIST in Thessalonic [...], (2 Epist. 3. 6, 14.) Now we command you, Brethren, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw your selves from every Brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the Tradition ye received of us.—And if any Man obey not our Word by this Epistle, note that Man, and have no Company with him, that he may be ashamed.—The Application I leave.

I shall conclude this Essay with a remarkable Passage, not foreign to the Purpose of these Remarks, out of the Reverend and famous Mr. SHEPARD's Select Cases; which in the Contents is stiled, ‘A sound Confutation of that heretical Arminian Tenet, That the Strength of Grace is to be got rather by Argumentation, than inward Communication and Influence arising from Union with Christ.’—The Passage is this; ‘As the old sinful Nature is communicated from Adam the first unto us, without any Argumentation: So the new Nature, which is the Seed, Foundation, and Plot of all Grace, is diffused into us by the second Adam, when we are united to him, without Argumentation; it is only by Divine Operation.—And he closes with this short, but compre­hensive Prayer, ‘The Lord leave not me, nor any Friend I have, to a naked Arminian Illumination and Perswasion.’—AMEN.

FINIS.

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