« הקודםהמשך »
in the original dignity of the Son of God, in his Satisfaction to the justice of his Father, for our sins, by bearing the punishment of them on his own body; and yet considers this infinite sacrifice as intended to deliver us from that subjection to God, as the Governor of the Universe, which is equally the duty and the happiness of all created intelligences, has united in his creed the greatest possible contradictions.
As we cannot suppose that blessed angels, or the redeemed saints of God, can ever be independent of their Creator, we cannot suppose that they will ever be exempted from his moral government, or ever be without law. Their blessedness and their holiness will, to eternity, consist in perfect obedience to his laws. The sum of the moral law is the supreme love of God, and the love of our neighbours, as of ourselves. The man who supposes that the Redemption of the Gospel sets aside either the one, or both of these two great commands, blasphemes the grace of God, by making Christ the minister of iniquity.
An abuse of the Gospel seems early to have taken place in the Christian Church, and to have led to Antinomianism various professors of the Gospel. This fact appears evidently from the Epistle of St. James. In his days men had arisen who advanced a claim to faith, and who were satisfied with a faith that he pronounced to be dead, and unavailing. One of Luther's disciples, Agricola, pleaded that Christians are not subject to the moral law, as a rule of obedience; but under the Gospel as a dispensation of faith, working by love. He was opposed and confuted by his master. From him the term Antinomian was applied to those who adopted his sentiments. It is composed of two Greek Words, signifying against
the law. Labadie, who was a Jesuit in France, and afterwards became a Protestant, and a Minister at Middleburgh, in Zealand, adopted the doctrines of Antinomianism. He was deposed by the synod of Dort, in 1669. His followers were called Labadists. They contended vehemently, that all morality should be banished from sermons. During the Usurpation of Cromwell, Antinomianism is said to have had many disciples, whose system and manners were equally licentious. They are said to have maintained, that when men are justified they are wholly sanctified. lo other words, while some merge Justification in Sanctification, these, on the other hand, lost Sanctification in Justification. They are also said to have taught that a believer has do inherent righteousness; that God will save us to the uttermost without any holiness of our own; that no action done by a believer, though it be contrary to the moral law, is sinful; and that he is neither required to confess his sins, to repent of them, nor to forsake them ; with many other blasphemous and abominable sayings. Rutherford, and many other pious men, have written against them. He was answered by Dr. Crisp, who was first an Arminian, and afterwards an Antinomian ; but though the doctrines he embraced were licentious, he is said not to have been licentious in his life. He is understood to have been a man of large estate, and of a beneficent disposition. He died in 1641. Mr. John Saltmarsh, of Magdalen College, is another Antinomian writer. Mr. Neale represents him as a man of fine active fancy, a good preacher, and a chaplain to the Parliamentary army.
Whatever apology may be made for the man, the cause will admit of none. Doctrines which set men at liberty from obedi
ence to the laws of God, are, above all others, dishonouring to God, and destructive to the souls of men.
Though it is to be hoped that few teachers in our days venture to lay down positions so absurd and immoral as those which we have mentioned, it cannot be denied that instances of extravagant doctrine, and which seem to look toward Antinomianism, are sometimes found to oc
Some ministers have affirmed that the whole work of man's salvation was finished by Jesus Christ on the cross. That the price of our redemption was fully paid there, is certainly a glorious truth; but as our salvation necessarily includes our complete sanctification, it cannot be complete till Christians be presented without spot or blemish before the throne of God.-The love of paradox, and an ambition to say things uncommon and new, have often diverted men whose imagination was stronger than their judgment, from that sobriety of doctrine which, though it dazzles less, more confirms and invigorates the faith and hope of Christians. Among those who, in our days, have been charged, and not unjustly charged, with Antinomianism, none have arisen whose progress has been so rapid as that of Mr. Huntington. From a coal-heaver, who could not read his Bible, within a few years he advanced to be a preacher, followed by thousands. Being a man of genius, and possessing a vigorous mind, he attained, with fewer faults than could have been expected, the knowledge of the art of composition, superior even to some who enjoyed a liberal education. His Bank of Faith, Arminian Skeleton, &c. &c. display a wonderful acquaintance with Scripture, and the last particularly, a luxuriancy of fancy very uncommon. All his performances exhibit marks of a mind active and ardent, but extremely addicted to extravagance. The opposition he met from
some parts of the religious world with whom he came in contact, from the circumstance of having changed his name, and some other instances of his conduct when he made no profession of religion, was certainly unreasonable, and probably contributed not a little to form that disposition to satire, which is always incongruous with the temper of a Christian minister. Fondness for novelty, and the desire of forcing a passage through regions untrodden before, perhaps more than any hostility to practical religion, seem to have fixed upon him the name of Antinomian. Many of his comments on particular texts of Scripture, were, to the last degree, whimsical and absurd.
Of Antinomians there is a particular kind who are frequently to be found, and who severely, and justly, cen. sure speculative Antinomianism; never reflecting that they themselves are practically, and in conduct, what, in sentiment and in system, they condemn in others. Such are all those who, on questions of morality between man and man, are rigid interpreters of the social virtues; but who with respect to the personal duties of sobriety and chastity, and with respect to the Divine virtues of secret, family, and public devotion, the consecration of the Lord's day, and the punctual celebration of the insti. tutions of the Gospel, claim great indulgences from the considerations of God's being merciful, and of the Atonenent made by Christ for the sins of men, These are Antinomians of the worst kind, who encourage themselves in the neglect, or in the transgression, of the most sacred laws of moral obligation, by abusing the doctrines of natural, or of revealed religion. In short, all hopes of salvation without holiness, and all attempts to calculate with how little purity of heart and life a man may hope to escape hell, and to get possession of heaven, are Anti
nomian abominations, and their tendency will ever be found to be of the most destructive kind to the souls of
ON CHURCH GOVERNMENT.
The end of Civil Society being the protection of the liberty, property, and lives of its members, government of some kind or other is absolutely necessary to the obtaining of it. Laws must not only be made, but executed, and consequently a legislative is not more necessary than an executive power. The end of Religious Society being the glory of God, and the present purity and the eternal happiness of men, these are to be secured in the Church of Christ by committing the execution of the laws of the Gospel, to persons who are qualified to discharge that sacred trust; that thus the Church may preserve that purity of doctrine, that correctness of manners, and that order and harmony which Christianity inculcates. The first question that requires our consideration here is, Has the Saviour appointed any particular form of Church Government: or, has he left the particular form to be determined by the local opinions and circumstances, prevalent in those places in which Christian Churches should be planted ? Some contend, that to suppose our Saviour to have left his Church without prescribing the mode of its government, is to suppose him inferior in fidelity to Moses, the prophet of the Jewish dispensation. To this others reply, that the sup