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will lead to a disregard of its laws.
$ 17. “Calvinistic ministers,' we are informed, • with all their zeal to support the doctrine of * salvation through faith alone, and all their
anxiety to depreciate the importance of moral ' virtue, cannot avoid the inconsistency of allow
ing that “good works will in any sense be " rewarded." '* Salvation, we all know, is a relative term, implying some evil or danger from which a person is saved. Now, is there any other way, his Lordship being judge, of being saved from condemnation, but." through faith alone?" If this be not a doctrine taught by the formularies of the Church of England, it is difficult to know what they teach. Again, • depreciation denotes a comparative idea. The same thing may be highly valued on account, and yet ought to be depreciated on another. Gold may be highly valued as a medium of commerce, and in many other respects; but gold formed into an idol, and set in competition with the true God, ought to be depreciated.' That glorious luminary the sun, is highly and justly valued, as the source of light and the attracting centre of our system; but when a Persian, exalts it into competition
* Refut. p. 182.
with its maker, and claims for it religious adoration, it ought to be depreciated.' . Thus, also, good works and moral virtue, though truly valuable in their proper place, yet when they are produced in order to save us from condemnation, or procure our justification before God, ought to be depreciated.' But there are other things from which we have need to be saved beside condemnation for a breach of law and covenant. For instance, we have need to be saved from a charge of being destitute of moral virtue, and good works, which are due to God from all his rational creatures; and I know of no salvation or deliverance from this charge but by being actually virtuous, and by actual good works. Now whạt “inconsistency' is there between depreciating inoral virtue and good works in one case, and highly esteeming them in another. Is the Sun of no value because he is not a proper object of religious confidence?
Some things imputed to Calvinists which are PECULIAR
TO OTHER Sects.
$1. To'profess a state of sinless obedience and unspotted purity in tbis
life, is peculiar in one sense, to Antinomians, $ 2. In another, to Arminian Methodists. § 3-5. The Calvinistic view of Christian
perfection, explained. 19 6. To vindicate dreadful crimes, abominations, and reproaches, pecu
liar to the refuse of civil society. 57. The representations of IRENÆUS, EPIPHANIUS, &c. probably overcharged. $ 8. This probability increased by modern Facts. $ 9. To profess private
revelations, peculiar to Enthusiasts. f 10. That a continual progress in obedience is not necessary on our
part to secure salvation, peculiar to practical Antinomians. That Calvinists endanger the established church, and § 11. That their
doctrine is liable to abuse, examined. $ 12, 13. That the greatest danger of the established church, is peculiar to itself.
$ 1. UNDER this head of our. Examination I shall consult brevity; yet as it is my design in this work not merely to shew that the Bishop's numerous charges against the modern Calvinists are unfounded, but also to explain our views of Christian doctrines, I shall dwell a little longer on some articles than otherwise would be necessary. For instance, his Lordship calls the notions of "sinless obedience and unspotted • purity' Calvinistic. Here, in order to an answer sufficiently fair, I might content myself with denying the imputation, except he had brought proofs of it. He might suppose that the notion is of public notoriety; and I might assert with
confidence that the contrary is a fact of public notoriety. If any persons, preachers or authors, express themselves in similar terms, they belong to other denominations. Antinomians have said some crude things about the elect being sinless, as considered in Christ who is so, that Christ was made a sinner for us and that we are pure or without spot in him, &c. For my own part, I can give them credit, that their real design is far less exceptionable than their expressions, interpreted with rigour, would import. If it be urged that these may be termed Calvinists, because they hold many points in common with Calvin; his Lordship himself may be so termed. For what denomination of Chris. tians is there that does not hold many points in common with Calvin?
§ 2. The-Arminians also in connexion with Mr. John WESLEY, at least many of them, have said much about ! Christian perfection' and " sinless perfection.' And some of them have contended that the latter is attainable in this life; nay, that some characters have actually attained this exalted distinction. Independently of the notion being justifiable or unjustifiable, I appeal to any one who has an accurate and extensive acquaintance with the Calvinists, is there one to be found among them who makes this profession? I know not any. Is it fair, is
it accurate, to impute to one denomination that which is peculiar to another? But, as before hinted, I wish to explain, as well as to defend the sentiments of modern Calvinists; and I shall therefore attempt to put my readers in possession of their sentiments on the subject.
r $ 3. Absolute perfection belongs to God
only. Compared with him, every creature is imperfect. “ The heavens are not clean in his sight, and he chargeth his angels with folly," that is, comparatively speaking. And yet the apostle Paul speaks of Christians as perfect : St. John supposes “perfect love” may be in the disciples of Christ, “ casting out fear :" Noah and Job are said to be “perfect;" and it is the declaration of Bildad that “ God will not cast away a perfect man.” Were we, therefore, to renounce every idea of perfection, as applied to Christians, who live under the most perfect dispensation of religion, we should be chargeable with a most notorious contradiction of God's word. What we maintain is this: First, that every true Christian has the perfect righteouspess of Christ imputed to him. In this perfection he is so interested, as to be perfect or complete in the point of acceptance with God, since without such perfection and personal interest in it, we think it not conceivable how an imperfect creature could be accepted or