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AVING had the happiness of hearing, and fince of reading, your two Difcourfes, Of the Infufficiency of Natural Religion; I cannot but exprefs a fatisfaction with your method of treating the argument; nor would you have heard from me in this public manner, had you not, in your performance, fallen foul on fome of your friends, whilst you was engaging with the common adversary.

When I heard your first discourse on this fubject, I obferved a paragraph which gave me some uneafinefs. I determined to take notice of it to you, as I had opportunity; and knowing I fhould be prefent when you condefcended to fubmit your discourses to the correction of fome friends, I purpofed humbly to offer fome reafons for either dropping or altering the paragraph; but, to my great fatisfaction, I found myself under no neceffity of doing it. The paffage I refer to being omitted in reading, I concluded from hence, that upon a revifal of your discourses, you had seen reason in your own mind to ftrike it out: but, fince reading your fermons, now made public, I find, it ftands, and, if I mistake not, with fome additional keenness and severity: your reason for this you best know. Your words are these.

a A Defence of fome important Doctrines of the Gofpel, by feveral Minifters, vol. I. p. 48. VOL. III. B b

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"It has been faid, that during the times of our civil commotions, there was "little preached up but faith in Chrift; and that the duties of morality were "little infifted on: it is certain that fome ignorant enthusiastic preachers "infifted then much on eternal union with Chrift, and that fin could do a "believer no harm; but all wife and thoughtful men abhorred fuch immoral " conceits."

What I have to complain of in this paffage, is as follows:

I. The lameness and impertinence of it. You obferve "It has been said, "that during the times of our civil commotions, there was little preached up but "faith in Chrift, and that the duties of morality were little infifted on." One would have expected that you would have given an answer to this charge, and it looks as if you had defigned it, by your making mention of it, but you neither grant nor deny it; and, instead of doing either, as you ought to have done, you put off the objection, by faying, "that fome ignorant enthusiastic "preachers infifted then much on eternal union with Chrift, and that fin "could do a believer no harm." Things which are not in the charge, and no way to your purpose to make mention of. Without taking upon me to be a dictator to you, you might have with truth allowed, that during those times, faith in Christ was very much preached up, though not to the exclusion of moral duties; and, with a great deal of juftness, you might have obferved, that the power of godliness very much prevailed; that the duties of religion were much practifed; that the Lord's day was strictly and religiously observed; that focial worship was attended on constantly; that family and closet-devotion were kept up with much strictness; and that morality, in all its branches, was in a very flourishing condition in those times, when faith in Chrift was fo much infifted on. This, I am very sensible, you were capable of observing; but you chofe rather to fling at the doctrine of eternal union with Chrift, and to introduce that in an aukward way, and by joining it with a disagreeable notion of fin's doing a believer no harm, to draw an odium upon some good men in those times, whom you call "ignorant enthusiastic preachers,” and through them to strike at fome who are now in being.

II. It does not appear to me matter of fact, that in thofe times eternal union with Chrift, and that fin could do a believer no harm, were much infifted on, as you fay. I know not, indeed, what acquaintance you may have with the pulpit performances of thofe times. For my own part, I can only judge of their preaching by what they have printed; and, I prefume, that if


thefe doctrines are any where to be met with, they are to be found in the writings of fuch, who, in thofe times, were branded for Antinomians; fuch as Eaton, Saltmarsh, Simpĵon, Town, Richardson, and Crifp; whose writings I have carefully perused, and find no reason to conclude that thofe doctrines were much infifted on, as you fay. By reading the works of these authors, I have been confirmed in the truth of an observation made fome years ago, by the learned Hoornbeeck: "For I perceive, fays he, while heads of doctrine are "made up by the adverfaries, rather than the authors themselves, out of their differtations, books, and fermons, that fometimes their fenfe is not fufficiently taken, nor happily expreffed; and that both here and there a great "deal, indeed, is faid, but not much to the purpofe; and that they either do "not understand, or mistake the thing in difpute." As to the doctrine of eternal union with Christ, however confiftent it may be with fome principles of theirs, I do not perceive that they take any notice of it; and fome of them seem to have no notion of it, but tread in the common beaten path of union by the Spirit of Chrift, and faith in Chrift.

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Eaton, in his Honey-Comb of Free Juftification, has these words: "Chrift "will have no foul leprous members united and made one with him; and "therefore he first washeth us in his own blood, and makes us clean from all "our fins, and then knits and unites us as fit members into his ownself. The "order also and natural dependence of these benefits (that is, justification and union) upon one another, confirm the fame; for we cannot be knit into "Chrift before we have the Holy Ghoft dwelling in us: the Holy Ghost "comes not to dwell in us before we be reconciled to God; and we are not "reconciled to God before we have all our fins abolished out of God's fight; "but when all our fins are abolished, and we made perfectly holy and righte"ous, from all spot of fin in the fight of God freely, then the Holy Ghost "comes and dwells in us, and knits and unites us, as fit members, into the "bleffed body of Jefus Chrift; then we are, by the wedding garment alone "of Christ's righteousness, made, above our sense and feeling, fit brides for so "glorious a Bridegroom." And in another place, he has these words": "This union and conjunction then is the cause that I am feparated from "myself, and tranflated into Chrift and his kingdom, which is a kingdom "of grace, righteoufnefs, peace, joy, life, falvation, and glory; yea, by this "infeparable

B b 2

Namque video, dum ex integris ipforum differtationibus, libellis & concionibus theses conficiuntur per fcriptores adverfarios magis quam per auctores ipfos, nonnumquam haud fatis feliciter illorum fenfus capi & exprimi, & tum hinc tum inde multa quidem dici, at non multum, & vel non intelligi vel non peti rò xgivóμevor. Hoornbeeck, Summ. Controv. 1. X. de Browniftis, p. 701, 702.

Chap. 15. P. 437, 438.

& Page 443.

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infeparable union and conjunction, which is through faith, Chrift and I are "made, as it were, one body in spirit."

Simpson, another of thofe men who were called Antinomians in those times, expreffes himself on the fubject of union after this manner, when he is speaking of the ufe of faith in juftification: "So that by faith, fays he, though "we are affured of God's love in the first place, yet we are not only affured, "but likewise Chrift is applied unto us; we are united unto him, and do "enjoy all things in him, and receive all good things from him." And in another place'; "A believing man is bone of the bone, and flesh of the flesli, "and one spirit with the Lord Jefus : there is a close and near union and "application of Chrift to the foul by faith."

Saltmarsh fays nothing in what I have seen of his, concerning eternal union; and what he says of union itself, is not very intelligible; yet it feems as though he had no other notion of being in Chrift, or of being united to Chrift, but by faith. He obferves: "That the pure fpiritual and myftical fountain of the "mortification of fin, is the being planted together in the likeness of Christ's “death, our old man being crucified with him, Rom. vi. 6. Our union with "Chrift, our Head, our Righteousness, our Vine." And, a little after, he has these words: "Now that power wherein we are perfectly mortified, is "our union with Chrift, our being planted in the fellowship of his death, "&c. and that wherein we are imperfectly, or in part mortified, is in that "transformed nature, or spiritual nature, the body of fin being in a believer, "more or less, till he lay down this body and take it up a more glorious one; "fo as a believer is to confider himself dead to fin, only in the fellowship of "Chrift's death myftically, and to confider himself only dying to fin in "his own nature spiritually: fo as in Chrift he is only compleat, and in him"felf imperfect at the beft. We are compleat in him, faith the apostle, Col. "ii. 10. yet there is fuch a power and efficacy, and mighty working in this "mystical union and fellowship with Chrift, that he fhall find fin dying in "him from this, the Spirit working most in the virtue of this." And, in another place, he fays"; "A believer hath a twofold condition, in Christ, in "himself; yet he ought ever to confider himself in Chrift by faith, not in "himself." And elsewhere he obferves': "The word fays, that we are

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1 Ibid. p. 156, 157. I have feen two other pieces of Saltmarfh's; one is called, Shadows flying away, being a Reply to Gataker; the other, The Smoke in the Temple, and chiefly refpects church government; nor is there any thing in either of them concerning union with Christ.

"compleat in Chrift, and righteous in Chrift; but when I repent, or love, or "obey, I believe, I am in Chrift; and therefore my love, and repentance, " and obedience, is fuch as I may believe, though not in themselves, yet in "him to be good and fpiritual."


Town, another writer of thofe times, who was much charged with Antinomianifm, says nothing of eternal union, but has many expreffions in his writings, which fhew that he had no other notion of union, but by the Spirit of God, and by the grace of faith. In one of his books he has thefe words *: "The righteousness of faith unites them, that is, the faints, to Christ, their "Lord, Head and Governor, that so henceforth they may be led by his free Spirit and fwayed by the scepter of his kingdom." And, in the fame treatise, he afks', "Where doth the law speak a fyllable of our conjunction "and union with Chrift through faith, whereby Chrift and the believer become "one body in fpirit?" And in another place"; "By faith we being united " and married to Chrift, do by him bring forth fruits to God, even perfect. "obedience imputatively, and inchoative holiness through the operation of "his Spirit, received by the miniftry and doctrine of faith, and not of the "law." Though, in another paffage in the fame book", he makes the ordinance of water baptifm to be the faints union with, and infition into Chrift. His words are thefe: "That ordinance, fpeaking of baptifm, is a true, fpi"ritual, and real ingrafting of them into Chrift, 1 Cor. xii. 13. fo that faith "is but the revelation of what was fecret and hid before, or an evident tefti"mony, and lively and comfortable apprehenfion and application in the "confcience of the perfon of what was conferred and made his before;" that is, if I understand him, in baptism. In another of his books, he has these expreffions: "Let the poor finful, miferable, and loft foul, first be united " and married to him, in whom dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead, and in whom he is then compleat, wanting nothing, Col. ii. 9, 10. then tell of "duties." Again", "If you do truly good works, you do them in Chrift, "abiding in him, John xv. 4. in whom you are alive, and walk continually by "faith. Now the foul cannot walk in Chrift, nor have union with him, fave

by faith." Once more, "Can man's nature be changed, says he, till he be "united and ingrafted into Christ, the true Vine? And doth not virtue come "by that infition and union?" And, in fome pages after', "It is Spirit that the foul cometh to union with Chrift." And, in another of his

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A Page 11, 12

• Ibid. p. 105.

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