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God and be happy in his love, and have the pardon of your sins, you have little reason to reject him that cometh to procure, reveal, and communicate that love and pardon, which must win your hearts to the love of God. And if you would not die in desperation, but have the hopes and foresight of a better life, you have little reason to quarrel with a messenger from heaven, which bringeth life and immortality to light. As bad as Christians are, if personal quarrels and malignity blind you not, and if you will not take the enemies and persecutors of Christianity for Christians, merely because they assume the name, you may easily see that serious Christians, who live according to their profession, are persons of another kind of excellency than all the unbelieving world.
I know that from some self-conceited, ignorant, well-meaning persons, I must look to be reviled and called a betrayer of Christianity, because I plead not for it in their way, and give you any other answer to your objections, than That when God giveth you the Spirit, you shall know that the Scripture hath no contradictions, and that Christianity is the true religion: till then you cannot know it, nor must I give you reasons for it. But I do my work, and let who will wrangle and revile.
How far the sayings of some are true or false, That the Scripture is the only means of faith, or saving knowledge of God; that it is principium indemonstrabile, as first principles of knowledge are in nature; that (as others say) it hath evidence of credibility, but not evidence of certainty, as if evidence of divine credibility or faith, were not evidence of certainty; that faith hath not evidence, but evidence evacuateth faith, or the merits of it,' with such like, a man of understanding may gather from what is said: and I must not be so tedious as par→ ticularly here to resolve them, having done it in preface to the second part of the Saint's Rest, edit. 2, &c., long ago. And though I have written nothing here which some men cannot make an ill use of, and some men will not turn to matter of cavil and reproach, I will not therefore leave it out whilst I expect that the good, which truth is fitted to, is greater than the evil, which by accident and abuse will follow it.
And because you seem confident, and think me bound to answer you, and consequently all others, not knowing how many hundreds may trouble me in the like kind, I send you this in print, that other men's mistakes and infidelity also may have
the same remedies. But I shall conceal your name and dwelling, lest the shame of your sin should hinder your patient application of the remedy, save only by telling you that it is long ago since I read a noble and learned lord, who in a Latin book De Veritate (contra Veritatem) said much against the certainty of faith: but it was all but learned froth and vanity. I rest
A servant of Christ,
And desirer of your faith and salvation,
December 28th, 1671.
SOME ANIMADVERSIONS ON THE FORESAID TREATISE, DE VERITATE, RESOLVING SEVERAL QUESTIONS THERE INCLUDED OR IMPLIED.
HAVING let fall the mention of that noble author's Treatise, it came into my mind, that it, having never been answered, might be thought unanswerable, and so the more considerable. Therefore I adjoin so much of my animadversion, as the case in hand requireth.
And, first, I must give the author the honour of his great learning and strength of wit. Secondly, I must confess that the teachers of the church have been too often such, as have given him the scandal which he so often expresseth, as more regarding their interest than truth, and not making clear the truth which they have taught, and often wronging it by their omissions, or additions, or unsound explications. Thirdly, I confess the body of his Treatise containeth many very considerable things, in order to the disquisition of truth; especially about the suitableness of the faculties to the object, the conditions requisite to a true apprehension, and somewhat about the nature of truth itself; though that which he calleth veritas apparentiæ, I had rather call evidentia veritatis rei. And I am not willing to think that I have as many different faculties as there are different plants in my garden, or books in my study, or sentences in those books; and in several things I miss that accurateness which he pretendeth to: but these I shall pass by.
He saith, (p. 217,) "An vero aliud (præter pœnitentiam) et quidem convenientius detur medium, unde justitiæ divinæ fit factum satis non est hic in animo exponere,-Hoc solummodo dicimus, (quicquid in adversam partem à quibusdam sug
geratur) quod nisi sola pœnitentia et fide in Deum, vitia et scelera quæcunque eliminari possint, et justitiæ divinæ bonitas divina adeo sit λúrpov ut non sit ulterius quo provocetur, nullum universale ita patere, vel olim patuisse remedium, ut fuerit quo confugeret misera ex peccati sensu languentium turba, vel haberet unde gratiam et pacem illam internam conciliaret; et tandem in id deveniendum sit, ut quosdam, immo longe majorem hominum partem inscios nedum invitos, et creaverit et damnaverit Deus Opt. Max. Quod adeo horrendum, et providentiæ, bonitati immo et justitiæ divinæ incongruum sonat, ut mitiori immo et æquiori sententia dicendum sit, totum humanum genus ex pœnitentia semper habuisse media unde Deo acceptum esse potuit ; quibus si exciderit, non jam ex Dei bene placito, sed ex proprio hominum peccato, perditionem uniuscujusque extitisse nec per Deum stetisse quo minus salvi fierent." The first question then is,
Quest. 1. Whether, if Christ, and not only our repentance and belief in God, be taken for a sacrifice, and price given to God for man's redemption, it will follow, that most of the world are damned by God's will, without any remedy to which they could have recourse for salvation?
Answ. First, It is strange that men should be left remediless, if Christ, and not only their repentance, be the remedy. Surely if Christ had given sinners nothing, yet he hath taken nothing from them.
Secondly, We all confess the universal necessity of repentance; but this is partly co-ordinate, as the end, and partly subordinate, as an effect, and therefore not contrary to the necessity of a Redeemer. Repentance is our conversion, and our begun recovery from sin; and will it follow that the physician is unnecessary, because health and recovery are necessary? yea, and sufficient in their kind.
Thirdly, How doth it follow that the remedy was not universal, when redemption by Christ was universal? Christ so far died for all men, as by his death he procured them any grace. But he procured grace, though not equal grace, for all: you confess an universal grace, and yet an inequality of benefits: we say, that grace was procured by Christ: do we narrow it at all, by saying Christ procured it?
Fourthly, I perceive some men's misexplication of these things was your snare and scandal. First, We distinguish between Christ's procurement of our pardon and salvation by his sacrifice
and merit with God, and Christ as the object of man's faith, or as believed in by man. We do not make the latter so universally necessary as the former. For we hold that infants are saved, that believe not. But we hold, that no one is saved for whom Christ did not satisfy God's justice, and merit salvation. Secondly, And that thus much causelessly offend you not, we say, that this satisfaction and merit consisteth not in an identity or gradual proportion of Christ's pains or sufferings to all mankind, but in an aptitude of his sacrifice and righteousness to attain the ends of God, the Sovereign of the world, the demonstration of his truth, holiness, and righteousness, together with triumphant love and mercy, better than the remediless damnation of all the sinning world would have done. Read but Mr. Truman's 'Great Propitiation,' which showeth you the true ends of the sacrifice of Christ, and this unjust offence will vanish. Thirdly, And we maintain, as is said, that the merit and propitiation wrought by Christ, is not to make our repentance needless, but to procure it, and to make it effectual to its ends. He giveth us repentance, and remission of sins. You confess that we may and must make a new covenant with God upon our repentance in that covenant God promiseth us grace, as we consent to be his servants and children. Now if Christ did procure, and, as God's general Administrator, give us that promise of pardon and salvation to the truly penitent, doth not this more oblige us to repentance, and not less? And the merit of repentance, if you will so call it with the ancients, is quite of another order, rank, and nature, than the merit of Christ. It is one thing for the innocent Son of God to merit repentance and pardon to all that will repent, and another thing by repenting, through his grace, to perform the condition of the further grace of pardon or salvation. Fourthly, And yet further to heal your unjust offence, we do not hold that Christ maketh God more merciful than he was, or that his redemption is the first cause of our recovery and salvation, causing God to be willing, who was unwilling before; but that God's love and mercy and his own good will is the first cause, which gave us Christ for a Redeemer as a second cause, an effect of his love, and the head of all the means of our recovery; and the true meriting cause of that grace and salvation which God will give us. Nor so meriting as to change God, but so meriting as to remove the impediments of his grace as to the communication, and as to become the fittest instrument of the Father's love and mercy,