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improvement of their arguments; but a simple inquiry into the nature of the things treated of, as revealed in the Scripture, and as evidencing themselves in their power and efficacy on the minds of believers. The practical direction of the consciences of inen in their application to God by Jesus Christ, for deliverance from the curse of the law and peace with him, together with the influence of the truth in universal evangelical obedience, is the single object to be aimed at in handling this doctrine : and therefore, whoever would treat of it in a proper manner, should weigh whatever he afferts, in his own mind and experience; and not dare to propose that to others, which he doth not himself abide by, in the most intimate recesses of his mind; in his nearest approaches to God; in his surprisals with danger; in deep afflictions; in his preparations for death; and most humble contemplations of the infinite distance between God and himself. Other notions and disputations about the doctrine of Justification, not seasoned with these ingredients, however suited to the palates of some, by skill and language, are infipid, and useless, immediately degenerating into an unprofitable strife of words.
3. I am aware that the doctrine for which we plead, is charged, by many, with an unfriendly aspect towards the necessity of holiness and good works ; yea, utterly destructive of it. So it was, at the first clear re velation of it, by the Apostle Paul, as he frequent
ly declares. But it is sufficiently evinced by him, to be the chief principle of, and inotive to, all acceptable obedience. It is admitted, that the ob. jective grace of the Gospel, in the doctrine of it, is liable to abuse, where there is nothing of the subjective grace of it in the heart. So it was charged by the Papists, at the Reformation : Yet, as it gave occasion to the Reformation itself, so was it that by which the souls of men being liberated from innumerable superstitious fears and observances, and directed into the way of peace with God, were made fruitful in real holiness, abounding in all those blersed effects of the life of God, which were never found among their adversaries.
The same charge was afterwards renewed by the Socinians, who still continue to make it. But I suppose that wise and impartial men will not lay much stress on their accusations, until they have manifested the efficacy of their contrary persuasion by better effects than they have hitherto produced *.
Whereas, therefore, the whole Gospel is “the truth which is after godliness,” declaring and exhibiting that “grace of God, which teacheth us to deny all ungodliness and wordly lusts, and to live soberly, and righteously, and godly, in this world;"
* The comparative tendency of Calvinistic and Socinian sentiments, has lately been considered in a masterly manner, by the Rev. Andrew Fuller, in a series of Letters addressed to the Friends of vital and practicaľ Religion, entitled, The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems examined and compared.
Sold by Button and Mathews, London, (Edit.)
we being fallen into those times, wherein, under great contests about opinions and practices in religion, there is a horrible decay of true gospel purity, and holiness of life, I shall readily grant that, retaining a due regard to the only standard of truth, a secondary trial of doctrines may, and ought to be made, by the walk and conversation of those who receive and profess them. And though we admit, that the doctrine we maintain is liable to abuse, as is the whole doctrine of the grace of God; and though the way and means of its influence into universal obedience, he not discernible without some beams of spiritual light; yet, if it cannot preserve its station in the Church by this rule, of its useful tendency to the promotion of godliness, I shall be content that it be exploded. Every thing else, which I conceive to be necessary to the right understanding and due improvement of the truth pleaded for, will be comprised in the following General Confiderations.
MAY 30, 1677
CO N T E N T S.
1. What is the proper relief of the conscience of a
finner, burdened with the guilt of sin
ness of our apoftasy from God; the depravity of
as to fin and righteousness, as represented in the
Reformation, and the influence which it had on
CH A P. I.
C H A P. 1.
mined-The continuation of Justification ; on what
tential Justification, or final judgment, and its re-
grounds of it. The nature of his suretifhip. Cau-
Christ and the church one