The Funeral of Arminianism
(1745-1813) TO THE REVEREND WILLIAM HUNTINGTON,
The money enclosed is by way of subscription, to defray the expenses of publishing your sermon, preached this morning, which we would beg leave to call "The Funeral of Arminianism."
Requested by Yours sincerely, in the Cause of truth
Sunday Noon, March 13, 1791 Dear Friends, I AM willing to comply with your request: but, as the text never struck my mind till last night going to bed, it could not be supposed that I could be very concise in the delivery of so long a subject; nor can it be expected (as I could not sit down immediately to pen the subject while it was fresh on my mind, but was obliged to preach another discourse before I began to write this) that I can retain, by strength of memory, every particular of a discourse nearly two hours long, so as to express it verbatim as it was delivered. I believe you will have the substance of it, with a little more conciseness or method, and with a good deal less power. However, I shall confine myself as much as I possibly can to my text. I shall use plain dealing; and, such as it is, I hope you will receive it from one who serves you in Christ Jesus, with as much or more satisfaction than you can express yourselves to be served, by so unworthy a servant as,
TO THE READER.
If my reader inquires the reason of my preaching and publishing the Funeral of Arminianism while it is still alive in the world, and as likely to live as ever, &c., my answer is, I know that Arminianism must die, sooner or latter, to make way for the everlasting Gospel of Christ: and therefore I am come before-hand, not to anoint it to its burial, but to preach its funeral; for it is all the fashion, now-a-days, to preach funerals over great bodies, whether it be the body of the beast, or the body of Christ. The ancient Prophets were often beforehand with their funerals. The Prophet Isaiah preached the funeral-sermon of the King of Babylon some hundred years before he was born; you have his funeral discourse in his fourteenth chapter. The Prophet Nahum preached the funeral of Rabshakeh, the wicked counsellor; and of the King of Assyria, his master, and attended by prophecy even to his grave, Nahum, i. 14. Daniel preached the funeral of the Man of Sin, and of his mystical body of Papists, Dan. vii. 11. And the Lord Jesus Christ preached the funeral of all the Scribes, Pharisees, and Hypocrites; and he provided means for them to fill up their measure, declared they should never find him, and promised them the damnation of hell. And we know that all doctrinal lies, and all liars, must be buried, sooner or later; therefore any body may preach the funeral of a system of falsehood, if they do but stick close to the truth. I shall abide by my text; and I hope my reader will well weigh the subject. Thy faithful servant in the Gospel,
W M. Huntington
Winchester Row, Padington,
March 14, 1791. FUNERAL OF ARMINIANISM "The vile person shall no more be called liberal, nor the churl be said to be bountiful. For the vile person will speak villainy, and his heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord; to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail The instruments also of the churl are evil: he deviseth wicked devices, to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right. But the liberal deviseth liberal things, and by liberal things shall he stand," Isaiah, xxxii. 5, 6, 7, 8.
This chapter begins with the glorious reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. "Behold, a King shall reign in righteousness!" The word behold is affixed to it, which stands as a handpost to direct us to Him that is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The use that is made of it is, in the general, to point us to something of the greatest importance: as when the Saviour's Conception and Incarnation are mentioned, they are ushered in with a ?
"Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son!" When salvation from sin, by his Sacrifice, and the Blood of his Cross, is pointed at, it is with a ?
"Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!" At the first entrance of Divine Power into the heart of a sinner, or a backslidden saint, it is with?
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock! A King shall reign in righteousness." Jesus is King over all the earth. His reign of Providence is universal. He is heir of all things. All power is given to him. And he has power over all flesh; and for this end, "that he may give eternal life to as many as the Father has given him."
But, as King of Grace, he reigns only in Zion: that is his metropolis, the city of the Great King; and upon that holy hill it hath pleased God to set him.
He is a King that loves righteousness, and hates wickedness; and is sure to reward the former, and severely punish the latter. And, as he is a righteous King, so all his subjects are righteous persons: "Thy people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land for ever; the Branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified," lsa. Ix. 21. His kingdom is set up in the hearts of his people; and all his subjects are reconciled by his blood, justified by his righteousness, and renewed by his Spirit. Hence his kingdom is said to be in "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." It is the application and experience of these things that makes a man a loyal and a joyful subject of this King. Add to this, that he sets up an umpire of grace in the hearts of his people; which, by the will of God, and through the righteousness and obedience of himself, shall reign to eternal life, as sure as ever sin reigned unto death by the disobedience of Adam. To the fullness of grace in this King, my dear friends, we must look, whenever Satan tempts, or sin prevails.
"And princes shall rule in judgment," in allusion to the Seventy Elders in the Wilderness. The Lord Jesus appointed, once and again, seventy disciples, and sent them forth, two by two. And, in allusion to the Twelve Princes of the Twelve Tribes, he chose Twelve Apostles, who, under him, were to be the chief founders of, and rulers in, the Gospel Church. Not that the dignity of a prince is confined entirely to them: no; this honour have all his saints. This character is applicable to all the Saviour's seed, according to the promise, "Instead of thy fathers, shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make PRINCES in all he earth," Psalm xlv. 16. In ancient times, there was much said about the fathers of the Messiah: he was to be the son of Adam, of Noah, of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of Judah, of David, &c.; but after his incarnation,"instead of thy fathers, shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make Princes in all the earth." The title is applicable, therefore, to every poor sinner who is humbled in the dust, who supplicates a throne of grace by humble prayer, and obtains mercy from the God of our salvation. "He raiseth up out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory," 1 Sam. ii. 8.
"Such princes shall rule in judgment:" not in the world, but in the church, like the "princes of the sanctuary;" they being a "royal priesthood, or kings and priests." The ministers of the gospel are rulers over the household of faith, to give them a portion of meat in due season; and the members are to try lesser causes, and to judge between brother and brother, without going to law before the unbelievers. And this ruling is to be?
"In judgment," according to the sentence or judgment of God in his word; and by righteous persons, whose judgment is past, and who have gone from death to life, or passed from a condemned to a justified state by faith. And it is to be done under the influence of the Spirit, who is to guide into all truth, shew the sentence of scripture in the case, and so be "a Spirit of judgment to them that sit in judgment, as well as of strength to them that turn the battle to the gate."
"And a man shall be an hiding place from the wind:" which sometimes signifies war and commotions, which often fall upon a nation for the abuse of the gospel, and rejection of a Saviour; not to purify and try, as is sometimes the case, but to destroy. "A dry wind, neither to fan nor to cleanse." By wind, sometimes, error is meant?false gales, raised up by the devil, in order to blow the smoke of the bottomless pit into sinners' eyes, that they may not behold the way of the vineyards, nor find their way to the city. Hence the divine caution, "Be not blowed to and fro with every wind of doctrine;" for it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace. As false doctrines are compared to wind, the devil raises them, in imitation of the power of the Holy Ghost, which is compared to the blowing of the wind; and with a glorious rushing, like the wind, he descended on the day of Pentecost, when he filled the Apostles with his power and grace. This Power the devil tries to imitate. He gave the Pope not only his doctrines, and his seat, and great authority, but his power also, which was sufficient to puff up whole nations; it worked and fermented in the souls of the deluded like new wine, and made them so drunk, that they could not see where they were going; it blinded their eyes, and made them call evil good, and good evil; and, in the end, filled the kingdom of the Beast full of darkness. These false gales have caused wonderful operations and emotions among the Arminians. The preachers, under the influence of the Spirit of Error, with a blind zeal, and empty oratory, have so worked upon the passions of their audience, as to move the hair of their head, and make the blood rankle in their veins: some have rolled their eyes, others have cried out; some have kicked up, and others have tumbled over. These are commonly called good times; and those who can perform this sort of work are deemed powerful men, though, in an unconverted state, destitute of the grace of God, and enemies to the truth as it is in Jesus. From public calamities, and from these dangerous blasts and gusts of contrary winds, which, if it were possible, would deceive, blind, and mislead, the very elect, I know of no hiding-place but the Lord Jesus Christ; who is to be an hiding-place from the wind?
"And a covert from the tempest:" by which is meant the wrath of God, roused up and awaked by sin, and revealed in the law against it. At the giving of the law, clouds and darkness appeared, betokening hot displeasure against the works of darkness: the curses pronounced against transgressors were attended with rolling thunders; and the flashes of fire on the mount represented the divine vengeance against sin. Thus God answered Israel in the "secret place of thunder."
Upon the Lamb of God, our surety, this heavy storm fell with all its weight; after which the clouds cleared up, and the glory of a reconciled God shone forth in the face of Jesus Christ. We have no refuge from the Avenger of Blood, nor covert from the above storm, but the Saviour. When the law awakens and pursues the elect sinner, this Refuge is set before him; and hither he must fly, if he will escape, for his life, for he can never be safe till he arrives here. As the Lord Jesus is a covert from the tempest, so he is to be?
"As rivers of water in a dry place." The fiery law revives the fire of sin: the ashes of dead works, and the legal covering of the sinner, under which his sin lies hid from his eyes, blow away, and the whole frame of nature seems all on fire; at which times the fiery darts of Satan often fly thick and fast, which all together are ready to scorch the poor sinner up. Sinai stands in a barren wilderness; and the sinner finds himself in a dry land, where no water is, and he may go to the troughs of a hundred called shepherds before he find; any water. But God says, when the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongues fail for thirst, he will hear them: and, just as the rock was smitten in the wilderness to refresh Israel, so the Spirit points the poor sinner to the Rock of Ages for spiritual drink; or, as Hagar was directed to a well, where she filled her bottle to save her son from famishing by thirst, so the Spirit directs the sinner to the Well of Salvation, where he may drink and live for ever.
Many old watering-places are now become dry; the Philistines have stopped up almost all the wells that our blessed Isaac opened; and we have too many who set themselves to dig wells without proper staves, and without any direction from the Lawgiver, so that nothing springs up nor flows out. Many who began with the name of Christ, without the spring of the Spirit in their hearts, begin now to put even the common notions of him and his doctrines out of their heads: his name is sometimes dropped from their mouth, and that is all, which shews that even his name is kept at the threshold; and matters will get worse and worse. We are going into one of the darkest nights that ever overwhelmed the Christian world since the Sun of Righteousness first rose upon it, and are got a great many years into it; the cloudy and dark day gathers thicker and thicker, and a most dismal night is coming on. But Christ will make a way to his own, and Faith will find her way to him; he has promised that he will not suffer the souls of the righteous to famish. He is the Well of Salvation, and?
"As the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Great struggles will be made by the Man of Sin to regain his lost territories in Great Britain; which work has long since been begun. The Arminian Sister, as some call her, is an handmaid to the Whore of Babylon, and the harbinger of Popery; they are united in the foundation, and self-righteousness is the chief corner-stone in which they both unite; and, as to other trifles, such as dolls and beads, jumble them together with classes and perfect bands, and they will agree and unite from the foundation to the top-stone, and so escape the violent storm that will fall upon Zion and her witnesses, Rev. xi. 7, 8. But there is another storm impending, that shall most surely overtake them; especially apostates, impostors, and hypocrites; for it shall only "hurt those men who have not the seal of God in their foreheads," Rev. ix. 4. This appears to be the time when "they shall wear out the saints of the Most High:" and, as the greatest part of the saints are in this land, it bids fair to become "a weary land;" but Christ will be "the shadow of a great, rock in it." He is great and immovable; and it is against him that such persons level their united force, against whom we are sure they will dash themselves to pieces; for this Shadow shall afford his people a place of retreat, if not screen them from the dreadful violence.
The Prophet having given an account of what Christ is to the coming sinner, and to the tried saint, now proceeds to shew the work of grace upon the hearts of those who fly to this Covert from the storm.
"The eyes of them that see shall not be dim." They shall see sin in the light of the law, and salvation in the light of the gospel. They shall see their lost estate, and the suitableness of the Saviour. They shall see law from gospel, and a blind guide from a shining light.
"And the ears of them that hear shall hearken." The deaf ears shall be unstopped: and they shall hear the word, and feel the power of him that speaks it; and be brought to try the word, as the mouth tastes the meat. They shall know the joy and sound, and distinguish it from an uncertain one. And, above all, such souls, shall take heed how they hear, and beware of the leaven of the self-righteous Pharisees; which, of all characters, are the most arch deceivers, and their doctrine is the most opposite to Christ and the grace of God. The Sadducees were a most wretched set of beings, who denied the existence of angels and souls departed, the resurrection of the dead, anti future rewards and punishments; consequently denied the Bible, and, in fact, made the Author of it a liar?yet even against these Christ never inveighed in so dreadful a manner as against the self-righteous, hypocritical Pharisees, on whom he pronounced more woes in one chapter, than there are against the devil himself in the whole Bible.
"The heart also of the rash" [or hasty] "shall understand knowledge." The rash seems to be such of God's elect who, through a blind zeal, violently oppose the gospel; as Paul did ignorantly, in unbelief; or as the Ephesians opposed Paul in behalf of Diana; who where counselled to do nothing rashly, as Paul and his companions were neither robbers of churches nor blasphemers of their goddess. It is the heart, not the head, of the rash, that shall understand knowledge. Experimental knowledge by the Spirit, not knowledge in the theory, is what is meant: and this understanding of knowledge is to understand the knowledge of' God. Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, nor the strong in his strength, nor the rich in his riches: "But let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me; that I exercise righteousness, loving kindness, and tender mercies, in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord." Which knowledge, in brief, consists in an experience of his powerful arm, in being quickened by his powerful voice, knowing his salvation by the pardon of sin, and his goodness in Christ by the sense of his love.
"And the tongue of the stammerer shall be ready to speak plainly," or elegantly. This stammerer, as I conceive, is not one who stutters or stammers literally. I do not recollect that the Lord healed any of these, though he opened the mouth of the dumb, and the eyes of the blind; but rather poor, troubled, trembling sinners, who are in the dark, and in much doubt about their state, whose muddy language is neither pure nor plain. These, when their eyes see clearly, and their ears hear to profit, shall, under the influence of the Spirit, who creates the fruit of the lips, and speaks by them, be ready to speak plainly about the safety of their state: they shall be at a point, speak with confidence and boldness, and use great plainness of speech, about a work of grace out hem, and the great truths of the Gospel revealed to them. And these plain speakers are opposed to those who conceal their inward thoughts and secret bane under their tongue, and mutter in evasive and equivocal terms, so as to be construed to any thing, and understood any how. When they lie in wait to deceive and beguile the simple and unwary, God's servants shall use plain speaking, and nothing of his counsel shall be kept back; but the whole shall be declared, and that without shunning, or "keeping back part of the price."
In this my introduction, we have the saint and the servant of God fully described, and their characters fairly drawn. In their dignified character, they are princes, the offspring of the King of Zion: persons who rule in the church of God in judgment, as persons in a justified state. Being in Christ, they are secured from the errors of men, and the storm of wrath. Christ is the fountain that supplies them, and the rock that screens them. They are neither blind nor dim-sighted; they have eyes to see a blind guide, and ears to hear and distinguish between the oracles of truth and a false director: they are not sportsmen of the field, but men of the tent; not "cunning hunters, but plain dealers, who use great plainness of speech," and declare plainly what they were by nature, and what they are by grace, and who it was that made them to differ.
Having now seen what Christ is to them, and what he has done for them, we have in my text, which next follows, the use they make of their enlightened eyes and circumcised ears. They are to use their knowledge aright; and not to judge according to personal appearance, nor according to the sway of corrupt affections, but to "judge righteous judgment;" to take the state of a person's heart by what proceeds from his mouth, and so judge of the influence he is under by the truth or falsehood that he utters; for "by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned," Matthew, xii. 37. Hence these princes are to call men and things by their proper names; not to call darkness light, nor light darkness; nor to call evil good, nor good evil; nor to put sweet for bitter, nor bitter for sweet; nor to call holiness sin, nor sin holiness. They are not to call a false spirit a good one, nor a true spirit a bad one; nor to say to a wicked man, "Thou art righteous;" nor to say to these princes, "Ye are ungodly." They are not to condemn the just, nor to justify the wicked?for they that do either, are an abomination to God?much less to call Christ Beelzebub, and Simon Magus the Great Power of God. Men and things are to bear, and be called by, their proper names; so that the infants and unstable in Zion may not be left to halt between two opinions, but go by Zion's judgment. So says my text?
"The vile person shall no more be called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful. For the vile person will speak villainy, and his heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord; to make empty the soul of the hungry; and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail. The instruments, also, of the churl, are evil: he deviseth wicked devices, to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right. But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand, or be established."
In handling these words, I am determined, by the help of God, to be particular upon every point.
- To give you a description of a "vile person," who is to go by his proper name, "and not to be called liberal."
- Of "the churl," who is not to be palmed with the name "Bountiful."
- That a vile person is to be known by his vile doctrine?the vile person "will speak villainy."
- All that proceeds from his mouth, springs from the irreconcilable enmity of his heart against the Lord Jesus. "His heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord."
- His drift, in all this, is, "to make empty the soul of the hungry; and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail."
- We will consider the instruments that he uses in the mischief, and the quality of them?" The instruments of the churl are evil."
- The ultimate end he aims at is the eternal ruin of the just, even against their own testimony. "He deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right."
- We will consider the character of a prince, or one of a princely spirit, who rules in judgment. "He deviseth liberal things."
- His firm standing, or establishment, in his liberal device. "By liberal things shall he stand."
And, lastly, draw a few inferences from the whole.
First, then, I am to give you a description of a vile person. who is to go by his proper name, and not to be called liberal. I am sensible that all men are by natural corruptions vile; but my text speaks only of professors in religion. Saints and hypocrites, ministers of Christ, and ministers of Satan, are the only characters here meant. Hence one sort are called "Princes that rule in judgment;" the others are "persons that practise hypocrisy." The one "deviseth liberal things, and speaks plainly;" the other "works iniquity, and speaks villainy." The King of Zion is the grand subject of debate in my text; and it is plain that there are no neutrals where he comes: men must be for him, or against him; they must gather with him, or scatter abroad; love him, or hate him. Here are some princes, and some vile ones: some are ruling in judgment under him; others uttering errors against him. The one feeds liberally; the other makes empty the soul of the hungry. The one instructs the poor, and teaches him to speak truth; the other "destroys him with lying words, even when he speaks right." The vile person, therefore, is an unrenewed, unconverted, uninspired preacher, who is in his sin, and under the influence of Satan; one whom the devil uses in his interest to deceive the simple, by perverting the word of God, and in leading sinners into rebellion against Christ, and against the grace of Christ, which alone can save them from sin, and from the punishment due to it. Hence they are said first to creep into houses, and then to pervert whole houses, in order to lead captive silly women laden with sins, and with divers lusts and pleasures, ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Such were Eli's sons; they were vile persons; sons of Belial: they knew not the Lord. Hence the heavy charge?" For I have told Eli, saith the Lord, that I will judge his house for ever, for the iniquity which he knoweth: because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not he purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever," I Samuel, iii. 13, 14. The Lord told Jeremiah, "If thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth," Jer. xv. 19. And we find the vile persons that the prophet had to deal with, and to separate the precious from, were in particular the false prophets; "who told false dreams, and comforted in vain;" who told the people" they should have peace, and made them trust in a lie;" who broke the yokes of wood, and made them yokes of iron; who opposed the prophet Jeremiah in almost every message, smote him, and put him in the stocks, Jer. xx. 3. They withstood him to the face, and contradicted him and his message both, with a "Thus saith the Lord, within three years will I break the yoke of the King of Babylon;" when it was decreed and declared, that seventy years were to be the time of their captivity; and, even in Babylon, they went on with the same practice of hypocrisy; and wrote to Shemaiah, in the priest's office at Jerusalem, that God had appointed him an officer in the house of the Lord, "to put every person that was mad, and made himself a prophet, into the prison, and into the stocks;" and charged him with not executing his office, because he had not reproved Jeremiah, or laid him by the heels, Jer. xxlx. 26. Hence it appears, that these vile persons are lying prophets, forgers of false doctrines, and deceivers of the people; and as they are vile in heart, and speak villainy, vile they shall be in their end. "I will make thy grave (says God), for thou art vile," Nahum, i. 14.
Such persons are not to be called Liberal, lest, by perverting their names, we betray the simple into their hands to be zealously affected by them, and so be misled by them, and destroyed. This command to call these persons by their proper names, is not given to the children of the world, nor to hypocrites, or to the children of falsehood. These will speak of false preachers, as their fathers did of false prophets. The world loves its own; and there is a woe to the preacher when all men speak well of him. A good name from the world is a sure sign of a false teacher: hence the woe is entailed on all preachers that obtain the world's good report. This command, to call the vile person by his proper name, is given to the princes who rules in judgment, and to the household of faith, ruled by them; who, as soon as they hear this "vile person utter error against the Lord," or "speak villainy," are to mark him and call him a vile person from the villainy that he speaks, and detest and contemn him as such: "For by his words he shall be condemned." Nor can they be called true citizens of Zion, or loyal subjects and faithful rulers under Zion's King, except they do. "He that abides in the Lord's Tabernacle, and dwells in his Holy Hill, is one that walks uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned, but he honoureth them that fear the Lord," Psalm xv. The second branch of this first head is?
He is not to be called liberal. God, who has fixed his name, calls him a vile person; and we are to know him to be such an one by his doctrine, and to call him by his proper name as soon as we hear him speak, or publish his villainy. Not but that a false preacher may be as profuse with his lies as a prince is with the truth: yea, and more so; for good seedsmen sometimes "sleep while the devil, by these men, is busy sowing tares;" and the more they labour, the heavier their punishment.
Liberal, in my text, implies free. A liberal soul is one renewed and upheld by a free Spirit; who, in my text, is a spiritual prince, the son of a King, and of a queen, by adoption and grace; a free-born son by a spiritual birth; a son of a free woman; a free citizen, made free by the truth, whose heart is enlarged by divine love. But this vile person is not renewed by the Spirit, but under the influence of Satan. He that utters error against the Lord, cannot be made free by the truth. "The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that waters shall be watered also himself." But a false witness is a cloud without rain, a well without water: his end is to deceive, beguile, starve, and destroy the souls of the poor with lying words, or by speaking villainy, and uttering error against the Lord; and, as he "makes empty the soul of the hungry, and causes the drink of the thirsty to fail," it is perverting his name to call him liberal. Nor is the distribution of the alms of such a deceiver to be called liberality. Sinners love sinners; the deceiver loves the deceived. All he aims at, in his alms, is to gain a good name, or human applause; or as a bribe to obtain heaven; or to open a way to enthrone himself in the affections of the poor, that he may circulate his errors among them, and betray their souls into the hand of the father of lies. "God loves a cheerful giver:" but this vile person is not an object of his love; nor can he be the cheerful giver that God approves, because he is an enemy to him, and utters error against him. A vile person God calls him; and says, he shall not be called liberal.
Secondly, We were to consider "the churl," who is not to be dignified with the name Bountiful."
I believe this account to be taken from the affair of Nabal and David. When David sent his servants to greet Nabal, in his name, at the time of sheepshearing, when himself and his men were in great distress and want, he railed on them asking them, "Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants who break away from their masters now-a-days. Shall I then take my meat and my drink, that I have prepared for my shearers, and give them to men whom I know not whence they are?" This was the return David met with for guarding his flock with his soldiers from thieves and wild beasts; and for being a wall to the shepherds, and to the sheep, by night and by day David was to be the father of Christ, and was one of the greatest types of him in all the Bible. His followers, who joined themselves to him, consisting of such as were in distress, discontented, and in debt, were emblematical of the poor, to whom the gospel is preached; and of troubled, distressed, and discontented souls, who are deeply in arrears both to the precept and penalty of the law; who betake themselves to the King of Zion, who becomes the Captain of Salvation over them. And, just as churlish Nabal railed on David, calling him the son of Jesse, so this vile person, this churl in my text, rails at Zion's King; he speaks villainy, and "utters error against him." And as Nabal, by refusing sustenance to David and his troops, endeavoured to starve them all together; so these vile ones refuse to submit to, or honour, the King of Zion: they bring no presents to him; they neither feed Christ, by ascribing glory to him, nor his members themselves with the word of truth, but aim at starving them both; or, as my text says, "they utter error against the Lord, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and to cause the drink of the thirsty to fail:" they rob Christ of his glory, and his people of their bread. A churl, literally, is an unpolished countryman??and so the churl in my text is unpolished, unrenewed by grace, a countryman; not of the heavenly country, not a citizen of Zion. He is in the flesh, not in the Spirit. No scholar: he is not taught of God; he is destitute of divine tuition, which is true learning and polite literature in the best sense. The churl is a selfish niggard. And so is the churl in my text. He is self-willed, and a cursed child. Self is his god; self is his righteousness, his first cause, and last end. He is born of the flesh, and ends in the flesh. He loves himself above God; and seeks the honour for himself that is due to God, and to him only. He sets up his wisdom above the word of God, by" uttering error against him." He enthrones himself in the consciences of poor weak people, which is the sole prerogative of God; and speaks villainy, and practises hypocrisy, to do it. And he claims the honour and praise of his people, which is due to none but the Most High; and makes use (as my text says) of evil instruments, to get it.
As Nabal was in the holy land, and among God's professing Israel; so this Nabal is in the professing world. And as Nabal is called a son of Belial, so this false teacher is called, in God's word, a child of the devil, and a minister of Satan. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him; and he is as drunk with the wine of spiritual fornication, as Nabal, of old, was with liquor, and such vile persons shall die as insensible in their errors, as he died stupid in his drunkenness.
This churl shall not be palmed with the name "Bountiful." God has not given him a bountiful heart, nor a bountiful eye. His heart is deceitful; he practises hypocrisy. His eye is evil, it is set against the Lord, and against the poor; and though he crouches and humbles himself, it is that the poor may fall by his strong ones, by the devils that help him; for "he seeks to destroy the poor with lying words (with doctrines of the devil), even when the needy speaketh right." He hates the Lord, and the poor in spirit; he has nothing for these; no honour for God, nor food for his people; his bounty never reaches to the poor and needy. Nabal's feasts were for his drunken companions; so this churl triumphs with them, made drunk with error. His food was prepared for his shearers; so this churl hates all but those who aim to starve the Lord's flock, and to strip his sheep of their beautiful clothing: the everlasting righteousness of Jesus imputed to them, and which is upon all the Lord's saints, and which this churl knows, and it makes him desperate. He shall not be called "Bountiful:" his soul has not returned to its rest, nor has God dealt bountifully with him; he has not committed to his trust the true riches, treasures of grace, the precious promises, the benefits of the cross, and the glorious truths of the gospel. The doctrines of God are not put into his earthen vessel, therefore he cannot have perfect charity. He has not received the gift; therefore he cannot minister the same, as a good steward of the manifold grace of God. A man that utters error against the Lord, who makes empty the soul of the hungry, and seeks to destroy the poor with lying words, shall not be called "Bountiful." A Churl, Nabal, a Son of Belial, or a Child of Folly, are his proper names, and by these he shall be called.
This leads me to consider my third head, which is to shew? That a vile person is to be known by his vile doctrine. The vile person will speak villainy. My text does not describe this vile person by any outward, atrocious crimes, such as open profanity or immorality; the devil would be divided against himself, if this were the case: the unclean spirit goes out here?he is described and called a vile person, from his speaking villainy; and a churl, by his being in the flesh, trusting in himself, and being a self-seeker. His heart is said to work iniquity, which is to be concluded from his practising hypocrisy; and that which describes his soul, and completes his character, is his "uttering error against the Lord;" by which he makes "empty the soul of the hungry, causes the drink of the thirsty to fail, and aims to destroy the poor with lying words." Hence it appears, that a good man is to be known by the good things which proceed out of the good treasure of his heart; as the evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart, is said to bring forth evil things: which the Lord's question confirms, "How can ye, being evil, speak good things?" And, indeed, if the heart be made good by grace, the conversation and life must be good also; for a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, nor can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Hence it appears, that a gracious heart is to be known by gracious words, which minister grace; a good heart, by the good and wholesome truths of the Spirit; a true heart, by the words of truth and soberness; and a sound heart, by sound doctrine and sound speech, that cannot be condemned. A spiritual man is to be known by his being a minister of the Spirit, by whom God communicates the Spirit of grace to others, which is God's seal to the commission of the man, and a sure sign of himself being sealed. A man in Christ is to be known by his good conversation in Christ. A whited wall, a painted sepulchre, the prudent in their own sight, the pure in their own eyes, a grave that appears not what it is, a platter clean on the outside, an outward appearance of righteousness, a form of godliness, blind zeal, neglecting of the body, voluntary humility, will-worship, and straining at gnats, are all to be found on the Pharisee, who is farther from the kingdom of God than publicans or harlot's. He may use fair speeches; but, if he does, it is to make merchandize of souls: he may honour God with his lips in prayer, and other ways, but his heart is far from him: he may walk circumspectly in appearance, but it is in craftiness; and say?"Stand by; I am holier than thou!" and yet be a smoke in God's nose: and he may handle the word of God, but it is deceitfully; yea, be rebuked for declaring God's statutes, and taking his covenant in his mouth, because he hates instruction, and casts his word of truth behind his back. When he uses fair speeches, it is not his natural conversation; it is not according to, nor consistent with, the inward state of his soul, the bent of his will, and the principles of his heart. The habitual, the accustomary, the native language, of a vile person, is villainy, lying words and uttering error against the Lord; and all that he aims at is his own applause, and the damnation of God's elect; or, as my text says, to "destroy the poor with lying words." A man in the flesh must send forth a stinking savour: his scent remains in him, he is upon his lees, his "scent is not changed," Jer. xlviii. 11. He cannot savour the things that are of God, but those that are of men: he cannot make manifest the savour of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. Christ is not all in all with him, self is so far from being denied, that self-will, self-righteousness, and self-seeking, are all in all.
Self-willed are they (says God), cursed children;" and by such vile persons the sovereign and good will of God in Christ Jesus is opposed, while the self-will of man, or free agency, is exalted. This is a damnable error uttered against the Lord. The self-willed are the self-sufficient and self-righteous, who trust in themselves that they are righteous, and despise others that Christ has made so; and who appear outwardly righteous before men, but God knows their hearts: and such persons ridicule the perfect obedience of Christ, call it imputed nonsense, and set up their own dead works, performed under the sentence of death and damnation, in opposition to it; and so Israel of old sought righteousness, and failed, while the elect attained to it.
Thus a vile person is to be known by his villainy; an enemy to God, by the error that he utters against him; his hatred to the King of Zion, by his opposition to his reign; his living in the flesh, by his fleshly savour; his being a self-willed, cursed child, by his doctrines of free-agency; his being a self-righteous Pharisee, by his debasing the righteousness of the Lord, and exalting his own; and his hatred to God's elect, by his trying to destroy them, not with carnal weapons, but with false doctrine; or, as my text says, with "lying words," even when the "needy speaketh right." They speak right in opposing his errors and villainy, and by calling upon him, as he calls himself a preacher, for the pure gospel to feed their needy souls with, which is the provision of God's house, and what he has provided for the poor and needy. The gospel, and the promises of it, are the breasts that the free mother is always to suckle her children with.
This vile person often deceives by a counterfeit experience. Being a bond-child under the law, he calls his legal bondage a work of special grace; and sometimes he will talk about being "shook over hell," but can never describe salvation from it, nor his being shook out of his lies and self-righteousness. The motions of sin which are by the law, and which work in his members to bring forth fruit unto death, are called the plague of the human heart. The perpetual lashes that conscience gives him for his villainy, or errors against the Lord, are termed the law in the members warring against the law of the mind. When there is a cessation for a while from the rebukes of Heaven, and the accusations of conscience, then this vile one is perfect in the flesh, has obtained the second blessing, and "walks in the peaceable paths of wisdom." When he feels himself in the arms of the devil, and the wrath of God at his heels, this is the fight of faith with Satan, and the "hiding of God's countenance." If the poor and needy bear their testimony against him, this is the contradiction of sinners, and a "taking up and bearing the cross;" and when he is justly buffeted for his faults, or rebuked by the just for his lies, this is called "suffering persecution for righteousness' sake." Thus he denies, and is an enemy to, all righteousness, but his own. Resisting the truth, is called opposing errors; and setting himself against the testimony of the just, in behalf of his own falsehood, is called "contending for the faith once delivered unto the saints." When the affections of nature are stirred, or the passions moved, this is called the operations of the Spirit. If the wrath of God flashes in his face, this is called knowing the terrors of the Lord, which drives him to persuade men; and when he can represent glorified saints in the great day, with all their present passions, weeping over their lost children and friends, till the audience cry out?"This is powerful preaching!" and when conscience confounds him for his villainy, it is called strong oppositions against the good work he is engaged in. And when God sensibly fetters his soul, as he did Balaam's, it is called the oppositions of the flesh; which lead him to enforce the doctrines of mortification, by abstaining from meat every Wednesday and Friday, at least. Thus the vile person is to be known by the doctrine that he advances: his habitual, his accustomary, his native language, is villainy. This leads me to my fourth head; which is to shew that all?
Which proceeds from his mouth springs from the irreconcilable enmity of his heart against the Lord Jesus Christ. "His heart (saith my text) will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord." Here we have?
- The inward labour of his heart; it works iniquity.
- The production hammered in that forge is practised in hypocrisy. And,
- What is prepared in the heart, and practised by the tongue, is levelled at the King of Zion; "he utters error against the Lord." I shall begin?
I. With the workings of his heart. That which leads him first into a profession, as a hypocrite and a false teacher, is?He perceives that a child of Zion's King is a prince; and that he "rules in judgment" in his royal, venerable, and ever adorable Father's household. He sees that the eyes of these princes are not dim: hence he is pleased with them, he follows them, and at times rejoices in their light; but it is only for a season. He admires the fluency of speech, and plain speaking, which these princes use, who, in my text are said to speak plainly, or "elegantly;" and finding that these princes are had in honour, he aims at the honour of their office, which is double honour; feigns to be one of the family; and, like Simon Magus, would buy the Holy Ghost, in order to cut a figure, by commanding the Power of Heaven to work miracles to gratify his humour, that he might gain a name, by running away with the glory of the power, which is due to God only. In process of time, he finds that the gospel system levels the sinner in the dust, and keeps him there; that it excludes all boasting; that the greatest labourer is nothing; that free grace must have the honour of all that is done in these princes, or done by them; that those who honour Christ, he will honour, and none else; that the mean man must be bowed down, the haughty humbled, and the Lord of Hosts only exalted; that the wise man must become a fool; that the weak are to say, "I am strong;" that the perishing, self-condemned sinner, is nighest the gate of life, and the most self-righteous Pharisee the farthest off, and that a humble and meek soul comparable to a little child, is greatest in the kingdom of heaven, while he that makes flesh his arms is cursed of God, and lighter than vanity; that the last are the first, and the first last; and that many be called who were never chosen at all; and he that thinks himself to be something, is nothing in God's account, but only deceives his own heart, and his religion is vain. This dispensation he finds, of all under heaven, is the least calculated to gratify, feed, or humour a carnal, ambitious, and aspiring mind. Hence he begins, at times, to shift his mask, and utter a little of his inward iniquity; or (to keep to my text), he begins to practise the iniquity that his heart works?which the Royal Family begin to perceive, and reject, being jealous of their heavenly Father's honour, and wishing themselves to be nothing, so that the King may be all in all But the hypocrites in Zion, which often are the majority, appear to approve and applaud the bane, or, as my text says, the lying words that he speaks. Hence he proceeds with caution, till the princes appear quite obstinate, and the contrary party call out for Barabbas. Now the net that has been spread has caught the fish, and the end is answered. Zion's King allows of no rival, his doctrines admit of no boasting; therefore hostilities must be commenced against Jesus. His decrees, sovereignty, his discriminating grace, his particular redemption, his resisting the proud and favouring the humble, gall the soul, chafe his mind, and work him up to desperate rage. Now violence must be offered to his doctrine, and a company of rebels must be mustered together against his princes, in order to oppose their testimony, and so to pave a way for the exaltation of flesh and blood, and carry on the war begun between Cain and Abel, renewed between Hagar and Sarah, revived between the Pharisees and Apostles, and which will be finished by Christ himself.
This churl is conscious that the Lord has done nothing for him, nor wrought any glory in him. And Satan knows it too; therefore the unclean spirit goes out of the man; he willingly withdraws, that the churl may garnish his own house; and put a glory upon himself, by sweeping and decorating the clay cottage, and by white-washing the walls of it. His heart having thus worked iniquity, he now begins?
2. "To practise hypocrisy." First, he reprobates the princes of Zion; who are grieved at him, discover him, see through him, oppose him, resist him, and bear their testimony against him; by which testimony, according to my text, "the needy are said to declare the truth, or to speak right," even when he aims to "destroy the poor with lying words." This open rebellion of his alienates the hearts of the Royal Family from him. At which the curious worldling begins to admire him; the bond-children approve and applaud him; the hypocrites in Zion stick close to him; and, at last, the bastard calvinist, lean towards him, and gradually follow the greater multitude, and the voice of fame, and at last go over to him. He being destitute of all spiritual power, endeavours to make up that deficiency by an external order of his own devising, which secures the honour to himself, and keeps his slaves in subjection; and having no inward glory from the Saviour, he makes a splendid external show. All internal glory is God's own work, and bears the image of God; but the external decorations of a graceless man is the work of his own arm, performed, after file devil is gone out of the house, and it bears the image of man. This is the vitals, the liver, the bowels, the heart, the spring and rise of "Arminianism." He now finds that his followers and admirers require something new in order to entertain them. Having never tasted the old wine, new must be had: and fearing they will depart or go over to the sanctuary service, he sets up his "calves at Bethel and Dan;" and knowing that the gospel secures the whole glory of salvation to the King of Zion, he is obliged to oppose Christ's person publicly, and oppose his own lies to his doctrine, as an Arminian of old did, by declaring to professing Israel, that his calves were the gods that brought them out of the land of Egypt. Hence it appears, that the practice of hypocrisy must end, according to my text, in the third particular, which is in?
"Uttering error against the Lord." The Lord must give way, in order for this vile person, this churl, this practiser of hypocrisy, to enthrone himself; which my text says is done by "lying words," and "speaking villainy." This sovereignty of the Lord is the first thing struck at; for, while that stands, man can be nothing but a mere subject: and, while the Lord does as he pleases with his own, human merit has neither room to challenge, nor ground for boasting; free-will can lay no claim, nor urge a plea. It is necessary, therefore, that the vile person in my text utter something against this formidable obstacle: for, while the Lord God of Israel is one Lord, who works all in all, there is neither room for a co-worker, nor for co-works. Besides, this declaration of divine sovereignty makes human activity and strength nothing at all; it cuts off both feet and hands, and renders man as helpless as clay in the hand of the potter. It declares, that the heavenly race is not to the swift, nor the victory of faith to the strong, nor heavenly wisdom to men of skill, nor the bread of life to men of understanding. In order to make a way for the wisdom, activity, and skill, of Nature, to stir her powers, shake her limbs, and act her part, something of villainy must be uttered against this self-abasing, this soul-humbling attribute. Hence the Most High, in the display of his sovereign grace, is charged with tyranny; and what is said of God's purpose of election is unparalleled?
could (good God!) I could believe
The horrible decree!" In this quotation, the author owns that he never had the "faith of God's elect;" and that God never enabled him to believe in sovereign grace: which is really true. This decree of Heaven, which God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, have published and declared in the Divine Oracles, and which is the secret that was revealed to the hearts of his prophets in all ages, and which secret is with the righteous, is here called the Devil's Law. If this decree be the devil's law, it is easy to see where the reproach falls, and to what this vile speaker has compared his Maker. "Out of thy own mouth," says the Saviour, "will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." The feel is to be condemned for his folly; and the wise child, for his wisdom, is to be justified.
In the above quotation, the reader may see what is meant in my text by a vile person, who speaks villainy, whose heart works iniquity, who practises hypocrisy, and who utters error against the Lord, to destroy the poor with lying words, or frighten them from hearing of sovereign grace, from making their calling and election sure, and from rejoicing because their names are written in heaven, by hearing this vile person call these doctrines the Devil's Law.
In this my text we see the embryo, conception, formation, birth, maturity, public appearance, and open rebellion, of Arminianism. The next thing that stands in the way is particular Redemption, which is a clear truth of the everlasting Gospel. God has chosen Zion, not the world; and says, "Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness:" and none of these shall ever perish; it is not their Heavenly Father's will that they should; he has sworn that he will not be wroth with them, nor rebuke them. They are redeemed from under the law, and from wrath to come, and shall never be damned. "Deliver him from going down to the pit," says God, "for I have found a Ransom." They are ransomed from the power of the grave, and redeemed from death. Christ says?" I lay down my life for my sheep." But to some he said?" You are not of my sheep: you believe not, because ye are not of my sheep." These are redeemed ones, called the first fruits unto God, not the vintage of the wicked: they are redeemed from among men. All men are not redeemed; they are sheep, not goats. None could learn that glorious song of redemption but those redeemed, and called out of the nations. "Thou hast redeemed us out of every nation, kindred, people, and tongue, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth." This is the redemption that the Bible reveals, and the redemption that all the prophets, apostles, and servants of Jesus Christ, ever preached; and this vile speaker, in my text, calls them all?prophets, apostles, and all? children of the devil that advance it.
"Hear the old hellish Murderer roar?
'For all, the Saviour did not die,
For only you, and not one more,
My children, who believe my lye!'
His children answer to his call,
And shout? 'Christ did not die for all!'" How can a faithful servant say, that all are delivered from going down into the pit, when Christ says, the gate that leads to destruction receives many? And how can they say, that all are redeemed from death, when the Lord says, they are but few who find the gate that leads to life? And how can they say, as this vile speaker does, that "many are in hell for whom Christ died," when the scriptures declare, that "the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their head;" and that they shall obtain joy and gladness, and that sorrow and sighing shall flee away? which, according to common sense, is so contrary to weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, lamentation, mourning, and woe. This I will say, that those who are among the spirits of just men made perfect, hold particular redemption; for they say?" Thou hast redeemed us from among men;" and will sing this song in the new heaven and in the new earth. Whereas universal redemption was never believed, even in hell; can you make them believe that they are redeemed from death, and ransomed from the pit, who are already in it, and enduring the sentence of eternal death? Never! Till this vile person in my text can bring them all to Zion with songs; which will at once remove the gulph fixed, and cause everlasting torments and everlasting destruction to have an end. In this doctrine of theirs, the price is paid for all, but sure to none.
Thus, reader, the sovereignty of Jehovah is charged with tyranny; and the free-will of man, with his lenity, is exalted. His absolute choice of his people is called the devil's lie, and a horrible decree. The perfect righteousness which is the Surety wrought out, and which our Great Creditor accepts and imputes to the debtor, is styled imputed nonsense. Predestination to adoption and future glory is no security; for we may be "children of God to-day, and children of the devil to-morrow." This vile speaking reflects upon the invariableness of God, the immutability of his counsel, the eternity of his love, the stability of his covenant, and the veracity of his oath and promise; and reflects the same upon the atonement of Christ, the sufficiency of his sacrifice, the value of his intercession, and upon the whole work of the Spirit of God. Thus the vile person in my text works iniquity, practises hypocrisy, speaks villainy, and utters error against the Lord: which leads me to consider?
Fifthly, His drift in all this. "It is to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail." The things which the hungry soul hungers after are?
1. Righteousness, which the Spirit convinces him of, and which he makes him feel the need of, both from the sentence of the law, and from the accusations of his own conscience. An unrighteous man is condemned by the law, an unrighteous man is condemned by his conscience, an unrighteous man cannot face his Judge, an unrighteous man cannot stand in the judgment, an unrighteous man cannot stand in the congregation of the just, an unrighteous man cannot enter the kingdom of God; and by nature, God says, "there is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that doeth good." The awakened sinner sees and feels this; and, therefore, hungers and thirsts after righteousness; and the Saviour says, "Blessed are such, for they shall be filled."
2. He hungers after Christ, the bread of life; and that which sharpens has appetite is the fear of death, and dread of damnation; the fear of perishing in his sins, and the fear of eternal banishment from the presence of God, and the glory of his power. Such poor awakened souls have sometimes a beam of light darting in, and a gleam of hope starting up; but these often soon withdraw again, and all is dismal. Such an one runs from place to place; crying in his heart, "Who will shew us any good?" These vile persons in my text often get hold of such; and, instead of preaching Christ, they tell him to work out his salvation; but do not tell him, that God works in him either to will or to do. They bid him arise, and shake himself from the dust; but do not enforce the promised arm of the Lord. They bid him up, and be doing; but deny that God works all our works in us. They tell him to set in as a co-worker with the Spirit; but what is a poor wretch, who is covered with sin, and destitute of power, to do, or to get, from such doctrine as this! How can the prodigal be received, but in the best robe, which is not brought forth! How can he be fed, unless the fatted calf be set forth as killed before him, or unless satisfaction for sin by the sacrifice of Christ be described and enforced! How can he be wedded without the ring of eternal love! Or how can he sit as an approved guest at the marriage-feast, without a wedding-garment! And how is he to make his calling and election sure, if the whole counsel of God is kept back! In short, how can a soul be brought nigh to God, to love God, or even to entertain a thought worthy of him, under a man whose heart works iniquity, whose tongue practises hypocrisy, and who speaks villainy, utters error against the Lord, and seeks to destroy the poor with lying words! So far is such a vile person from feeding the hungry, that he robs, plunders, and takes away, the very food from those that are fed; or, as my text says, he makes empty the soul of the hungry; that is, he strips him of what he has got; he plunders him, blinds him, staggers him, stumbles him, confounds him, embitters him; and brings him into bondage to the law, to the flesh, to sin, and to the accusations of Satan; and sets him down, like the prodigal, with the swine, or the wild asses in the wilderness: and, if he can zealously affect such a hungry soul, he will lead him in his chains wherever he pleases, until such time as the Spirit of God operates upon his heart; then he bursts his bonds, and knows, by sad experience, what it is "for the Philistines to be upon him." This churl will not only make empty the soul of the hungry, but?
"He will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail." The drink of the thirsty soul is the efficacy of the Saviour's blood, or the atonement of Christ received and enjoyed under the operations of the Spirit of grace. The water of life is the quickening energy of the Spirit; and the river of God's pleasure is the love of God in Christ Jesus, which is felt under the influence of God's Spirit, and which fills the soul with joy, peace, and divine consolation, in believing. But as pardon and eternal peace with God, through the blood of the Lamb, are denied by this vile person; and as the everlasting inhabitation of the Spirit is opposed and denied also; and the doctrine of the eternal love of God reprobated; and the gift of eternal life exploded, by asserting that all these things may be forfeited and lost?the dreadful consequences attending such errors must be, that divine refreshment, the pure stream of life and peace, will be rarely found; the Spirit is grieved, and ceases to operate. Such persons, speaking evil of the truths and ways of God; hypocrites increasing; the world applauding the candour and lenity of vile men; weak souls halting between two opinions, or between right and wrong; bastard Calvinists, who formerly favoured such, but recanted, and bore a testimony against them, returning like the dog, and licking up the old vomit; losing their legal zeal and all their eye-sight; appearing afresh to favour Cain's old cause, and beginning to bring forth their strong reasons against the King of Jacob, and going gradually over to the children of the flesh. And, on the other hand, those who bear their steadfast testimony against their lying words; being reproached with rancour, spleen, a bad spirit, and the want of charity. Times will get worse and worse; the light will gradually withdraw; the sun will go down over the prophets; the shadows of the evening will stretch out; grievous wolves will creep forth, who will not spare the stock; the truths of everlasting gospel, by the villainy of these men, will be brought into contempt; and the inhabitants of two cities may, and will, ere long, go to a third city, to drink water, and not find a pure spring when they come there. All that these vile persons aim at, is to conceal the bread of life, and to obscure the pure light of the gospel (which is a perfect glass, and in which we discover what they are), and so to bring on a "famine, not of bread, nor of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord." When God is insulted, the Saviour opposed, and the Spirit grieved, the life and power of the gospel will be insensibly withdrawn, and a minister of the Spirit scarcely found. However, "when the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst; I," saith the Lord, "will hear them; and I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them." We come now?
Sixthly, To consider the instruments used in this mischief, and the quality of them. "The instruments of the churl are evil." The instruments of a good minister are?
- The Shepherd's crook; commission, power, and authority, from Christ, and the arm of the Lord attending the shepherd in his work; which serves to catch and hold fast the lost sheep of the house of Israel; and to take hold of and bring back strayed ones which are gone from the fold.
- A wholesome tongue seasoned with salt, which serves to communicate the words of grace: which tongue is a member of the body, and in the Lord's service; it is an instrument of righteousness.
- The weapons of our warfare, or spiritual instruments of war; such as, the helmet of a good hope, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit, the breast-plate of righteousness, the girdle of truth, &c. &c.
- A set of warm, zealous, lively members of the church; who are sound in faith, of a sound mind, and sound in the truth; who win others by their good conversation in Christ, hold forth the word of life, are instrumental in bringing sinners to the knowledge of the truth.
"But the instruments of this churl are evil." He was never converted to God, never born of God, nor commissioned or authorised by God. It was pride that puffed him up into the pulpit; and the father of lies furnishes him for it, and keeps him at it. He divines by a lying spirit; and holds his goats in the bands that holds him, namely, the cords of his sins. An arrogated office, an assumed authority, the influence of a spirit of deception, and his artful bonds of classes and bands, are the "instruments of this foolish shepherd" (Zech. xi. 15), by which he rules. The joints and bands that hold Christ's body together, and all the body to the Covenant Head, are spiritual, and not carnal, and such bands as this vile speaker absolutely denies. His evil tongue is the sharp razor by which he works deceitfully; or, as my text says, with which he speaks his villainy, and utters error against the Lord. The instruments, or weapons, of his warfare, are, first, a "brazen brow;" that is the helmet of this hypocrite. Self-righteousness, and a seared conscience, are his breastplate; confidence in the flesh is his shield, and the bond of iniquity his girdle. His deceitful tongue is his bent bow for lies; and his vile speeches, or bitter words against God, am his arrows. The last sort of tools, or instruments, are such as are under the same spirit of deception; who are armed with prejudice against the truths of God; who will see with no other eyes but his; and who will sacrifice both conscience and common sense, rather than incur the displeasure of this "anointed bramble, who is to be the only shadow of all the trees in Shechem," Judges, ix. 15. Which leads me,
Seventhly. To consider the end he aims at. It is the ruin of the just, even against their own testimony; or, as my text says, "to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right." Hence we may see, that uttering error against the Lord, speaking villainy, and lying words, are the ruin and destruction of souls. "The leaders of this people," says God, "cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed." Such are led to make lies their refuge; to take shelter under a misrepresented God; who, as they say, is no Sovereign; who is mutable, and changes according to the lazy or working frame of the fallen creature; who chooses and refuses the sinner, according to the worthiness or worthlessness of him; who is so fickle in his love, as that he may be in his favour to-day, and be drowned in perdition to-morrow; who can save from hell without full satisfaction made to offended Justice; and who can justify a man by an imperfect obedience. Thus he thinks God is just such an one as himself; and under such deceptive conceptions of the Most High he takes his refuge.
Christ is falsely represented?As, that satisfaction made to Justice, by his sacrifice, is not an eternal security from vindictive wrath; that his active obedience, which he calls nonsense, is useless and needless, and can justify none; that his Spirit wants a co-worker; and that his omnipotent hand is not a safe and an eternal hold. Thus by setting forth a false Christ, whose satisfaction is invalid, whose righteousness is useless, whose grace is insufficient, who is mutable in his mind, changeable in his will, weak in his government, wavering in his counsel, and fickle in his love, he hides himself under falsehood; and, by exalting fallen man, he brings the sinner to trust in another lie. "Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie," Psal. lxii. 9. In exalting the freedom of man's will, the sufficiency of his own obedience, the power of his own arm, his capability of attaining to perfection, and making his salvation to depend on, and his standing to consist in, certain conditions, which were never contained in the Scriptures of Truth, and which in the Gospel he could never point out?This is his attempting to destroy the poor with lying words: which shews us, that forgers of doctrinal lies, those who trust in a lie, and all who make lies their refuge, and who under falsehood hide themselves, are, as well as the Pharisees of old, of their father the devil, and will perish in their own deceivings. For "into the heavenly Jerusalem shall nothing enter that loveth and maketh a lie;" yea, all sorcerers, whore-mongers, and liars, shall have their portion in the lake of fire. These are some of his wicked devices?
To destroy the "poor with lying words." The spiritually poor are such as cannot pay their own debts, and so fly to the Surety; who can have no confidence in the flesh, nor find a home in themselves, and so embrace the Rock, for want of a shelter; who cannot work out a righteousness of their own, and so fly" to Grace and the gift of Righteousness," Rom. v. 17; who are humbled to beg the bread of life at Mercy's door; and who live dependent on the gracious bounty of their God for ever), supply, who of his unmerited goodness has provided for the poor. These are the poor persons that he aims to destroy with lying words, even against their true testimony; or, as my text says, "even when the needy speaketh right." The needy are such as depend on the Lord for wisdom, strength, and direction; for supporting, quickening, comforting grace; and for every promised supply of help and strength, to enable them to live to God, to discharge every duty, and to perform every good work. This serves to shew us, that such are not trusted with a stock in hand, nor left to stand or fall by the improvement of their own talents.
These needy ones speak right, when they tell others what God has done for them, revealed to them, and wrought in them; and so contradict his lying words by their own testimony. They speak right, when they tell such vile persons that God never sent them; that they are deceivers, and are deceiving themselves and others; and that they are trying to starve or destroy God's poor and needy. And they speak right, when they call for, and demand, the sincere milk of the word, the pure bread of life, the wholesome truths of the gospel, and to be fed with knowledge and understanding. And if he does not, cannot feed the sheep, he is an hireling, or a thief, and ought to be put out of the fold; but, if the goats keep him in, let the sheep come from them. "He that does not believe, ought not to speak:" he that is not in the covenant, should not take it in his mouth. What has he to do to declare God's statutes, who has no law in his heart?
Which brings me to consider the Prince that rules in judgment, whose eyes are not dim, and whose circumcised ears hear the Lord's voice, and who hearkens to the joyful sound; who understands knowledge, and whose tongue speaks plainly all the sentiments of his heart: who conceals no part of the counsel of God; who is at a certainty about the state of his soul, and at a point in his doctrine; who speaks in faith, and with confidence; and who declares the whole counsel of God. Or,
Eighthly. According to his last character drawn in my text, he is one of a liberal device. The liberal soul deviseth liberal things. As the son of a King, he has a tincture of divine royalty in him; as a prince, he is one of a princely spirit: he is a noble, and has a nobleness of mind; a ruler, and rules in judgment, magnifying his office, and living up to his royal character. He receives every good and perfect gift from the King of heaven, who gives liberally, and unbraideth not. And, therefore, he keeps public days, a good table, and an open house, to all comers and goers, and all at the sole cost and charge of his royal Father and Sovereign, who is heir of all things, and who detests a niggard, a miser, a covetous servant, a contracted spirit, and a narrow heart, in his household. "He is a liberal soul, and is made fat; and as he waters, he is watered also himself. Freely he receives, and he freely gives." He endures all for the elect's sake; he spends all he has for the good of his fellow-citizens, and would spend more, if he had it: he would gladly spend, and be spent, for the good of others, 2 Cor. xii. 15. He does not spin out his text on a wheel, for fear of wanting Cordage for the tabernacle; nor refuse to pursue his melody, fearing a future want of wire for his harp. A perpetual spring is a perpetual supply. He shall not be care fill in the year of drought; nor shall he know when heat cometh. He deals not out his matter by the ounce; nor watches the clock like the hireling that waits for the shadow. He speaks fully upon each subject; and, if his incomes are great, he continues his speech till midnight, and after this breaks bread, and talks till break of day, and trusts in his Father for a fresh supply. While the cruse springs, he pours away till the vessels are full, and the oil stays, without any reserve for a rainy day, or without any fear of standing still for the want of provision, or of shutting up house for the want of remittances: He gives a portion to seven, and also to eight, without considering the evil of famine or war that may in future be in the earth. The independant, who keeps house at his own expense, or is at board-wages, must proceed with caution, and not live beyond his income; but the Heir of Promise lives at the expense of the Giver of all things; and the more he spends, the more he has. "He that scatters shall get increase; and he that withholds more than is meet, it tendeth to poverty."
The things which his heart devises to bring forth, are, the free and unconditional promises of the Gospel; the free gifts and blessings of the Covenant of Grace; the promised Spirit, which is freely promised and freely given; a free salvation and justification, freely by the grace of God; freedom and liberty from the Law; freedom from the destroying power of sin, from Satan, from death, from wrath, from hell and damnation; and freedom of access to God, freedom and boldness with Him, and a full and free welcome to him, to Christ, and to the waters of life; to take all freely, without money and without price. When he deals in these things, he knows what he says, and whereof he affirms; for all these things are the liberal gifts of God. These are the inward devices of a prince that deviseth liberal things; who is of a free spirit, and blessed with an enlarged heart; who receives freely, and preaches free Grace, and is a minister of the Spirit, and a good steward of the manifold grace of God: while the churl is close-fisted, narrow-hearted, mealy-mouthed, and wholly shut up: especially, if any of these princes are present; crying out?" We are not all of a colour! there are enemies here!" his heart is never enlarged, nor his mouth opened, unless his audience consists of the blind, the ignorant, pharisaical, and the hypocritical. To these Ziphites, to Doeg the Edomite, or to the Witch of Endor, Saul's heart is enlarged, and his mouth is opened; but to David and his friends it is always closed, even to his own son Jonathan, and to his daughter Michal, if either of them favour the cause or person of the son of Jesse.
This Liberality in my text is not temporal liberality: for a man may give away all his goods, and yet be nothing; nor is a prince or a ruler established by that, though it is a good knit. But?to return to the Churl?Indeed, he has no liberal things in his heart; and, therefore, cannot devise to bring such things forth. They deal in If's and But's; in free-will, moral righteousness, human perfection, casual grace, uncertain vocation, and precarious redemption: all of satanic original and human device, contrived and opposed to the counsel and will of God. But the latter will stand when the former gives way. There are many devices in a man's heart; but the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand. Such poor churls have the old vail on their mind, and the legal yoke on their neck; the shackles of guilt on their spirit, and the fear of death in their heart; while God rebukes them, and resists them, for their pride and presumption; and they oppose God for their rebukes. Not so the Prince: he digs into the mines of the glorious mystery; and, when he finds a vein of Gospel truths, all linked together with the chain of?I will; and, 'You shall; Yea, yea; and, Amen?here he knows what he says, and whereof he affirms: he finds firm standing himself, and sure ground for others; he preaches the Gospel according to the Divine command, does the work of an evangelist, and makes full proof of his ministry.
Having considered the liberal things of this prince, I come now?
Ninthly. To treat of his foot-hold, his standing, or establishment. "By liberal things shall he stand:" which shews, that the vile person who utters errors, and speaks villainy, shall not stand in his own righteousness; he falls at the feast, for want of a wedding garment. He that makes flesh his arm is cursed of God, and shall not stand in the judgment. The house built on the sand shall not stand. Those that build a tower, without counting the cost, will find their language confounded and their building demolished: but the liberal, by liberal things, shall stand. God chose him in Christ, called him to Christ, and he preaches Christ; and, as the dearly beloved of God, he shall stand fast in Christ. He is a partaker of grace; has been a good steward of the manifold grace of God; and has access into this grace wherein he stands, and must stand. He is a justified person, and shall stand in the judgment; and, as a righteous person, he shall stand in the general assembly, in the great congregation of the righteous; he shall see God for himself, and not for another: and stand in his own testimony, and not in the testimony of another. He has been made free by the truth, and has preached the truth as it is in Jesus; "and the gates shall be opened, that the righteous nation, and all that keep the truth, may enter in."
"As he is to stand by liberal things," it implies that, by the liberal gifts of God, by his free grace in Christ Jesus, he shall stand or be established; and not by his own works, however many; nor by his own fruits, however good; how much less by the works of the law, or his observations of it! nor by the conditional promises of that covenant which establishes nothing but the perfection of its author, and the eternal punishment of the transgressor. The preachers of it know not what they say, or whereof they affirm; and, if they cannot establish their own doctrine by it, it is not likely that themselves should be established by it. By faith the prince stands in this world; and, by the riches of grace in glory by Christ Jesus, shall he stand in the next. It is God that founded Zion, not man; and the Highest himself shall establish her, and all her princes too, not the creature.
You have heard, in this subject, what God says of false teachers. He has here given us an account of their inward workings, and outward practice; of their hatred to him, and their aim at the ruin of us. The inward working of their hearts is iniquity. Their open practice is hypocrisy. The object of their hatred, God; they utter error against him. The ruin of the saints: they "destroy the poor with lying words;" which shews that false doctrine destroys souls. Their proper names, according to my text, are?Vile persons; erroneous men. Churls; enemies to Christ, who speak against him. And liars, who speak lying words. They are not to be called liberal, nor bountiful. Their doctrine is called iniquity, villainy, hypocrisy, errors, and lies. To starve the just, and to quench the Spirit, are to be the dreadful effects of their cursed deception: "They make empty the soul of the hungry, and cause the drink of the thirsty to fail."
My dear friends, "I am jealous over you with godly jealousy. I have espoused you to a good husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ, by adhering to them that preach another Jesus, for if ye receive another Spirit that ye have not received, or another gospel that ye have not accepted, ye may well bear with such." Dear friends, beware of these papists in disguise; beware of these Arminians; beware of these Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; and beware of the leaven, of the candid leaven of them, which is hypocrisy.
Nor let the voice of fame, the applause of the world, in the least sway you. The hypocrites admire false teachers, as the Saviour tells you: they will speak well of them; so did their fathers of the false prophets. These vile persons, as my text calls them, are generally styled, by worldlings and hypocrites, men of candour; men of liberal sentiments; men of moderate principles; men of philanthropy, of charitable judgments; men open, and of generous minds. But God, who is the best judge of their hearts, gives them other names: and the children of Zion are not to call them, nor yet their sentiments, liberal.
The Pope has obtained as many good names as the Arminian. He is called Papa, Universal Bishop, Head of the Church, Key-keeper of Heaven, Our Lord, his Holiness, Christ's Vicar on Earth, Peter's Successor, &c. &c. But he is nothing the better for all these?-he is the man of sin, the mystery of iniquity, still. The Church of Rome is called the Holy See, the Holy Church, the Holy Mother, the Bride, the Lady of Kingdoms, the Queen of Nations?but she is not one morsel the better than her Arminian sister, who justifies herself as much as she; and who justifies her, by building upon the same foundation. The former canonize those that are the most profound in deception, as the latter perfect the selected or perfect band.
My text tells you, my friends, that vile persons are to be known by their villainous speeches, and lying words which is, uttering error against the Lord. If the Arminians have a will of their own to choose Christ, let them describe the Christ that they have chosen! and, if he be not a Sovereign, and the Lord our Righteousness, it is an idol of their own imagination. If the Free-agent has a power to come to the Lord, let him point out one that ever came by this power, without being drawn by the Father. If salvation be not wholly of free grace, let him show us one that ever was saved any other way: and, if salvation be conditional, let him show us what the condition is, and where it is. If human works have ever saved any, either in whole or in part, then it is of him that willeth, and of him that runneth: and let him show us who this wilier and runner is, that got the prize. If imputed righteousness be not the only justifying righteousness of all God's saints, let them show us one that ever got to heaven without it. And, if their fleshly works are sufficient, or must be added, let them tell us who they were that obtained righteousness as it were by the works of the law, and did not stumble at that stumbling stone. And, if redemption by Christ, which is redemption from death and the pit, be universal, let them prove that the gate which leads to destruction has admitted none. And, if Christ laid down his life for any more but the sheep, let them point out the redemption of the goats. And, if falling from grace be true, let them show "when the righteous were forsaken." Psalm xxxvii. 25, "and where the righteous were cut off," Job xxix. 19. And, if they are perfect in the flesh, how they come to die the common death of all men: or, "who ever perished, being innocent," Job xxix. 19. And, if they deny that they hold any such doctrine, then let them inform us upon what foundation their perfect band has stood for so many years. And, if all these doctrines are not doctrines of devils, lying words, the practice of hypocrisy, errors against the Lord, and intending to destroy the poor and needy; then let them prove me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth.
Some of you will say, "This close preaching, this harsh dealing will never do. Prophesy smooth things, prophesy deceits. A little more candour: you will drive away half your congregation." As the Lord liveth, my greatest fear is, that I shall not drive away the rotten-hearted, the Bastard Calvinists, from among you! I would sooner preach to fifty pious souls, than to ten thousand hypocrites, whose faith is vain, and who are yet in their sins, though I had a thousand pounds yearly for so doing. I want none in communion with us, who do not love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and in truth: nor shall I ever be "as the Lord's mouth, unless I take forth the vile from the precious." and if honest and faithful dealings; if declaring, without shunning, the whole counsel of God, will do it; I am determined (God helping me) to effect it.
Our Arminian swears, that he is moved by the Holy Ghost, and subscribes the same articles that I did. Let us compare them with his doctrine.
Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians so vainly talk), but is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, &c. &c. This is an article which the Arminian subscribes. How does this agree with the doctrine of Perfection, or the basis of the Perfect Band?
The condition of man, after the fall of Adam, is such, that he cannot turn, and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God, &c. This article the Arminian subscribes. How does this agree with Free-will and human Power to choose or refuse, come to Christ, or stay away?
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort. This is another article which the Arminians subscribe. How does this agree with what the vile person in my text calls "imputed nonsense?"
Predestination to life, is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. This article the Arminian subscribes; and what a conscience must men have, to swear in God's name, and subscribe with their hands, to this article, and never believe in it! yea, call it the devil's law, and a horrible decree! And, if this decree "brings men by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour, then where is the doctrine of falling from grace?of being children of God to-day, and children of the devil to-morrow?and of many being in hell for whom Christ died?"
The vile person in my text obscures the justice, truth, holiness and immutability of God, and misrepresents him. He sets forth a false Christ, who is not a Sovereign in his reign; who is not the everlasting Righteousness of his people, as a Surety; who is not immutable in his love, as God; and as having not perfected, for ever, them that are sanctified by his blood, as a Priest; and as not being victorious over Satan and sin, as a King. He pretends to the Spirit of Truth while he speaks lies; he mimics and counterfeits the operations and joys of the Holy Ghost; he opposes every truth essential to salvation, subscribes the above articles, and swears he is moved by the Spirit; he gives his hand and his oath against his own soul, swears falsely, and becomes a perjured person against the Holy Ghost: thus making himself one of the worst of liars, by subscribing, and then denying, the truths of the everlasting Covenant; and all to gain a name, and set up a party, by uttering errors against the Lord, and to destroy his own followers, and, if it were possible, the very elect also, with lying words. This is the character of a vile person, whom the hypocrites call a Man of candour, and of liberal sentiment. "O my soul! come not thou into their secret! Unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united!"
My dear friends, when you hear the Bastard Calvinists, whose heads are at Zion, and their hearts at Horeb, crying out?" Such live Arminians, but do not die Arminians!" then let them shew their repentance, and works meet to prove it to be genuine. Peter's repentance, and David's repentance, shall be as conspicuous as their sins. The Arminian, or, as my text says, the "vile person," if ever he be saved, his recantation shall be as public as his desperate rebellion in uttering errors against the Lord; and his repentance as public as his public stubbornness and obstinacy. If any of God's people err, they must be restored and reclaimed, before they go hence. "They that erred in spirit shall come to understanding; and they that murmured shall learn doctrine." They must be converted from the error of their way, or die in their deception. Those that practise hypocrisy, and utter errors against the Lord, to destroy the poor with lying words, dying so, they go down into the grave with a lie in their hand. "A deceived heart has turned such aside, and they cannot deliver their souls," Isa. xliv. 20. Into the heavenly Jerusalem shall nothing enter that loveth and maketh a lie: and if he that loves and makes a lie is shut out, then what is to become of them whose whole practice is hypocrisy, and speaking villainy, to destroy the poor with lying words, even when they speak right? "All liars," says God, "shall have their portion in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, where the Beast and false Prophets are." The Scriptures, my friends, cannot be broken: the counsel of the Lord shall stand firm, his word shall abide for ever. It is Yea, and Amen; not a jot of it shall fail; it shall never pass away, but stand fast to a thousand generations. Let God be true, but every man a liar.
Again; when you hear it reported that such men make a comfortable and glorious exit, examine their writings, and inquire for their public repentance: and, if you find lies in the former, and no account of the latter, my text says they are vile persons; enemies to Christ, by uttering errors against him; and enemies to the saints, by seeking to destroy them with lying words. And when they tell you that such persons depart in peace, let them shew you that such made their calling and election sure; that they were called of God, pardoned by blood, and justified by imputed righteousness, and made sound in the truth. The elect are sons of peace, and so peace comes upon them. Such are called to peace in Christ, who receive pardon, and go in peace; who are justified by faith, and so have peace with God. The elect of righteousness is peace. Righteousness and peace must kiss each other; and peace always goes with truth, but never with lies. He that hates the truth, never knew the way or' peace. "Love the truth and peace," says God. "Good is the word of the Lord. Peace and truth shall be in my days," says Hezekiah. But a vile person, a worker of iniquity, a practiser of hypocrisy, an utterer of error against the Lord, a destroyer of the poor with lying words, shall such have peace? "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." Can persons who live and die drunk with errors, with the wine of spiritual fornication, be blessed? Take heed, "lest there be among you man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood, to go and serve other gods of these nations. And it shall come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst; the Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses of this book shall be upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven," Duet. xxix. 18, 19, 2.0. And, pray, is not that man's heart turned away from the Lord, who utters error against him? And he that makes flesh his arm, and trusts in himself that he is righteous, is he not an adorer of strange gods? And, surely, he has got a root that bears gall and wormwood, "whose heart works iniquity, to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speak right."
I know what Arminianism is: I have felt the bane, the leaven, the desperate rebellion, the cursed workings, and the horrid enmity of it against God, and his Word too. If ally leaders of the Arminian class had found me when I was burdened with sin, and filled with wrath; under the fears of death, and at the gates of hell; murmuring and fretting against God, and fighting against the doctrine of election; washing myself with nitre, making my heart clean, working out my own salvation, and bringing in my Maker debtor, to save me for my dead works' sake; I should have been admitted into their society at the first word; and, if they could have seared my conscience, I should soon have become a leader of a class, if not a Boanerges in the pulpit.
Again, my dear friends, when you hear any bills or papers of Grub Street proclaimed, and sold about the streets, describing the triumphant death of such characters as my text describes; or any avowals, signed by never so many persons; or elegies, or funeral sermons, preached and published on such occasions; if you buy them, this do?Sit down, and take your pen and draw it through all the fair glosses, through all the varnish, that they have cast upon the narrative, and you will see what is left. Then compare that with the doctrines they have published, and both with the Scriptures of truth, and you will soon see how they stand together. If any of God's elect get into Arminianism, they must be converted therefrom, ere they go hence. Peter himself, notwithstanding his confession of faith, must be converted from his fleshly confidence, before he was fit to strengthen his brethren, much less to depart this life in peace. There will be some of God's elect even among the Papists; but God calls to them; and all shall partake of her plagues that are not called from out of her arms.
But my friends may say?" If the testimony of God in your text, concerning every false teacher, be true, and that the Arminian is one of those false teachers; then how comes it to pass, that such characters, such unconverted men, who never were converted to God, who never could, who never did, publish their conversion, how is it that such come to be canonized at their death, justified in their falsehood and wickedness, and that by men falsely called Orthodox, who must betray the simple into their hands, and be partakers themselves of their evil deeds? And how is it that pulpits, which once did ring with the truth, now hang in sackcloth, at the departure of the worst of liars, persons who have left upon record volumes of lies against their own souls?"
To which I answer?The merchants, traders, traffickers, and all that have ships, will cast dust upon their heads, weep, wall, and lament, as much at the burning of Rome, as these do at the death of the head of the Arminian synagogue; when the heavens, the apostles, and prophets of the Lord, will be commanded to rejoice over her. Besides, they are not all converted men that are called Gospel Ministers, nor yet one in twenty: they may begin in the Spirit, when the Spirit never begun in them: the commandment may be delivered to them from the pulpit, or by the Presbytery, when it never was written on the fleshly tables of their hearts by the Spirit of the living God. If damnable blasphemy, lies, and villainy, uttered and left upon record, against God; if swearing falsely that they are moved by the Holy Ghost, when the devil, and none but the devil, moved them; if subscribing to doctrinal articles, and then reprobating every one of them, if these are the things that complete the character of a man of God; if these are the things that accompany salvation, that bring men to a peaceable end, and to the crown of glory, the Arminian bids fair for the prize. Nor can the Jewish Pharisees, the murderers of our Lord; the synagogue of Satan, the Pope, Papists, Mahometans, Infidels, or Cannibals, have any thing to fear. For what is there in any Popish writings, or in the Alcoran, comparable to what is to be found in Mr. Wesley's hymns, or in his sermon of what he calls Free Grace, preached at Bristol? Can the devil himself, or did the devil ever, utter any thing worse, or so bad, as to call the Sovereign Disposer of all things A hellish God, Moloch, &c. &c., and to declare that the Law of Moses is God's decree of Predestination? The decree, he says, is this?" I set before thee life and death."
Reader, these children of the flesh are not the children of God, but the children of the Promise are accounted for the seed; and the salvation of these is Faith, that it might be by Grace, to the end that the Promise might be sure to them all. Stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved; lest, being led away by the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own steadfastness. The man that dies in his errors, must be damned, if God be true: and he that errs from the truth, must be converted from the error of his way, before his soul can be saved from death, or the multitude of his sins can be covered, James, v. 19, 20.
In short, our present mongrel Watchmen, who are partly Hebrew, and partly Ashdod; who were the followers of the orthodox Mr. Whitefield, &c., but are now the advocates of Mr. Wesley, &c., give their followers to understand, that the ancient enmity between the Seed of the woman and the Serpent has now subsided, and that peace is proclaimed; that the testimony of Mr. Whitefield, and all the orthodox, are now invalid; that the breach between lies and falsehood is now closed; and that they themselves have been all this time imposing on their numerous followers, by receiving One Hundred Pounds per annum for their pretending to preach the Doctrinal Articles of the church; when their audience might have been furnished with Ministers, of the same hearts and sentiments with themselves, at Twelve Pounds a year.