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That if the attack had been general, and not fo immediately and particularly upon that poft or quarter I was fet to defend, I fhould with Elihu, have modeftly waited till fome abler and more skilful hand had undertaken the defence of this caufe.
If ever I felt a temptation to envy the happiness of my brethren, it hath been whilft I faw them quietly feeding their flocks, and myfelf forced to spend fome part of my precious and most useful time (devoted to the fame fervice) in combating with unquiet and erring brethren: but I fee I must not be my own chufer. Notwithstanding, I hope, and am in fome measure perfuaded, that public benefit will redound to the church from this irkfome labour of mine. And that this ftrife will fpread no farther, but the malady be cured by an antidote growing in the very place where it began: and that the Chriftian camp will not take a general alarm from fuch a single duel.
The book now in thy hands confifteth of four parts, viz. 1. A general difcourfe of the caufes and cures of errors, very neceffary at all times (especially at this time) for the reduction and eftablishment of feduced and ftaggering Chriftians; and nothing of that nature having occurred to my obfervation among the manifold polemical tracts that are extant, I thought it might be of fome ufe to the churches of Chrift, in fuch a vertiginous age as we live in; and the bleffing of the Lord go forth with it for benefit and establishment.
2. Next, thou haft here the controverfies moved by my antagonist; first, about the Mofaic law, complexly taken, which he boldly pronounces to be an Adam's covenant of works. And fecondly, about God's covenant with Abraham, Gen. xvii. which he alfo makes the fame with that God made with Adam in paradife; and affirm circumcifion (exprefly called a feal of the righteousness of faith) to be the feal of the faid covenant of works firft made with Adam.
3. Finding my adverfary, in the pursuit of his defign, running into many Antinomian delirations, to the reproach and damage of the cause he contends for, I thought it necessary to take the principal errors of Antinomianifm into examination, especially at such a time as this, when they feem to spring afresh, to the hazard of God's truth, and the church's peace; wherein I have dealt with becoming modefty and plainnefs, if haply I might be any way inftrumental in my plain and home-way of argumentation, to detect the falfity and dangerous nature of thofe notions which fome good men have vented, and preferve VOL. IV. B b
the founder part of the church from fo dangerous a contagion.
4. In the next place, I think it neceffary to advertise the reader, That whereas, in my first appendix under that head of the conditionality of the new covenant, I have afserted faith to be the condition of it, and do acknowledge, that the word condition is variously ufed among Jurifts; yet I do not use it in any fenfe, which implies or infinuates, that there is any fuch condition in the new covenant, as that in Adam's covenant was, confifting inperfect, perfonal, and perpetual obedience or any thing in its own nature, meritorious of the benefits promised, or capable to be performed by us in our own ftrength; but plainly, that it be an act of ours (though done in God's ftrength) which must be neceffarily done before we can be actually justified or faved; and fo there is found in it the true fufpending nature of a condition; which is the thing I contend for, when I affirm, faith is the condition of the new
How many fenfes foever may be given of this word condition, this is the determinate fenfe in which I use it throughout this controverfy. And whofoever denies the fufpending nature. of faith, with refpect to actual juftification, pleads (according to my understanding) for the actual juftification of infidels. And thus I find a condition defined by Navar. Johan. Baptift. Petrus de Peruf. &c. Conditio eft fufpenfio alicujus difpofitionis tantifper dum aliquid futurum fiat. Condition is the fufpenfion of a grant until fomething future be done. And again, Conditio eft quidam futurus eventus, in quem difpofitio fufpenditur A condition is fome future event in which the fulfilling of a grant is fufpended.
Once more, my reader poffibly may be stumbled at my calling faith fometimes the inftrument, and fometimes the condition of our juftification, when there is fo great a controverfy depending among learned men, with refpect to the use of both thofe terms. I therefore defire the reader to take notice, that I dive not into that controverfy here, much lefs prefume to determine it; but finding both these notions equally opposed by our Antinomians, who reject our actual justification by faith either way, and allow to faith no other ufe, in our actual justification, but only to manifeft to us what was done from eternity; I do therefore ufe both those terms, viz. the conditionality and inftrumentality of faith, with respect unto our juftification, and fhew in what fense those terms are useful in this controverfy, and are accommodate enough to the defign and purpose for
which I use them; how repugnant foever they are in that particular, wherein the learned contend about the use and application of them.
To be plain, when I fay faith juftifieth us as an organ or infrument; my only meaning is, that it receives, or apprehends the righteoufnefs of Chrift, by which we are justified; and fo (peaking to the quomodo, or manner of our juftification, I fay, with the general fuffrage of divines, we are justified instrumentally by faith.
But in our controverfy with the Antinomians where another different question is moved about the quando, or time of our actual justification; there I affirm, that we are actually justified at the time of our believing, and not before; and this being the act upon which our juftification is fufpended, I call faith the condition of our juftification.
This, I defire may be observed, left, in my ufe of both these terms, my reader fhould think either that I am not aware of the controverfy depending about thofe terms; or, that I do herein manifeft the vacillancy of my judgment, as if I leaned sometime to one fide, and fometime to another. I fpeak not here ad idem, as they do in that conteft; but when I call it a condition of justification, my meaning is, that no man is justified until he believe. And when I call it an inftrument, my meaning is, that it is the righteoufnefs of Chrift, apprehended by faith, which doth justify us when we believe. And fo I find the generality of our divines calling faith sometimes a condition, and fometimes an inftrument of our juftification, as here I do.
And if there be any expreffion my reader fhall meet with, which is lefs accurate, and may be capable of another sense; I crave that candour from him, that he interpret it according to this my declared intention.
5. Laftly, I have added to the former, a fhort, plain, practical fermon, to promote the peace and unity of the churches of Chrift, and to prevent their relapse into past follies.
In all the parts of this difcourfe, I have fincerely aimed at the purity and peace of the church of God; and he greatly mistakes, that takes me for a man of contention. It is true, I am here contending with my brethren, but pure neceffity brought me in, and an unpleafing irkfomness hath attended me through it; and an hearty defire, and ferious motion for peace, amongst all the profeffed members of Chrift, fhall clofe and finish it. Let all litigations of this nature (at leaft in this critical juncture) be fufpended by common confent, fince they waste our time,
hinder our communion, imbitter our spirits, impoverish practical godliness, grieve the fpirit of God, and good men, make sport for our common enemies, who warm their own fingers at the fire of our contentions; and place more truft in our dividing lufts, than they do in their own feeble arguments, or caftrated penal laws, to effect our ruin.
It is my grief (the Lord knows) to fee the delightful communion the faints once enjoyed, whilft they walked together under the fame ordinances of God, now diffolved in fuch a fad and fcandalous degree, by the impreffions of erroneous opinions, made both upon their heads and hearts. I do therefore hearti ly join with Budaeus in his pious wifh*, "That God would "give his people as much conftancy in retaining the truths they once received, as they had joy and comfort at their firft reception of them." I muft, on this occafion, declare my just jealoufy that the non-improvement of our baptifmal covenant unto the great and folemn ends thereof, in our mortification, vivification, and regular communion with the church of Christ, into which fociety we were matriculated by it, is, at this day, punished upon profeffors in thote fiery heats, and fierce oppofitions, unto which God feemeth to have penally delivered us at this day.
For my own part, it is my fixed refolution to provoke no good man if I can help it. But if their own intemperate zeal fhall provoke them, in purfuit of their errors, to deftroy the very nature of God's covenant of grace with Abraham, and his feed, and I have a plain call (as here I had) at once to defend God's truths, and my people's foul against them, I will earnestly contend in the cause of truth, whilft I can move my tongue, or make ufe of the pen of the fcribe.
Reader, I fhall appeal to thee, if thou be wife and impartial, Whether any man that understands the covenant of God renewed with Abraham, (which is the grand charter, by which we and our children hold and enjoy the most invaluable privileges) can endure to fee it diffolved and utterly deftroyed, by making it an abolishing Adam's covenant of works; and stand by as an uncon cerned fpectator, when challenged and provoked to fpeak in defence thereof.
Is there any thing found in God's covenant with Abraham, Gen. xvii. to made it an abolished covenant of works, which
* Utinam tam confertis manibus compertam comprehenfamque veritatem femel retinere poffemus quam protinus agnitam feftivis o culis hilares exofculamur.
doth not as injuriously bear upon, and ftrike at the very life of the covenant of grace, in the laft and beft edition of it, under which the whole church of God now ftands? What is that thing (I would fain know) in God's covenant with Abraham? Is it the promiffory part of it, "I will be a God unto thee, and to "thy feed after thee?" Gen. xvii. 7. God forbid: for the effential and sweetest part of the new covenant is contained in that promile, Jer. xxxi. 33. Heb. viii. 10. Yet thou wilt find my Antagonist here forced to affert, God may become a people's God in special manner, by virtue of the abolished covenant of works; and fuch he makes this covenant to be.
Or does the reftipulation Abraham and his were here requir ed to make unto God, even to walk before him, and be perfect, doth this make it an Adam's covenant of works? Surely no. For as God there requires perfection of Abraham, fo Chrift requires the fame perfection of all new covenant-federates now, Matth. v. 48. "Be ye perfect, as your Father which is in heaven is perfect;" which is altogether as much as ever God required of Abraham and his, in Gen. xvii. 1. Take perfection in what fenfe you will, either for a pofitive perfection, confifting in truth and fincerity; or a comparative perfection, confifting in the growth and more eminent degrees of grace; or a Superlative perfection, which all new-covenant-federates ftrive after here, Phil. iii. 12, 13. and fhall certainly attain in heaven, Heb. xii. 23. In this also the covenant with Abraham, and with us, are truly and substantially one and the fame.
Or doth my mistaken friend imagine, that God required this perfection of Abraham, and his, as in the first covenant he required it from Adam and all his? viz. to be performed and maintained in his own ftrength, under penalty of the curfe. But now, though Chrift command perfection, yet what duty lies in any command, anfwerable ftrength for it lies in the promife? Very well, and was it not fo then? Compare the command, Deut. x. 16. "Circumcife therefore the fore-fkins of your hearts," with the answerable gracious promife to enable them fo to do, Deut. xxx. 6. "The Lord thy God will cir"cumcife thy heart, and the heart of thy feed, to love the "Lord thy God."
Or laftly, Did circumcifion, the fign and feal added to Abraham's covenant, make it an Adam's covenant of works? That's equally impoffible with the former: for no man, but fuch a daring man as I am concerned with, will dare to fay, that a feal of the righteousness of faith (as circumcifion was, Rom. iv. 11.) can make the covenant, to which it is affixed (and which I have