Imagens das páginas

other will be told of nothing out works. But the sound believer is for a faith that works righteousness.

"Faith unfeigned" and " obedient love," are of equal importance to the true Christian. Those precious graces, which answer to the Gospel axioms, like a well-proportioned pair of heavenly steeds, mutually draw the steady chariot of his profession across the valleys of discouragement, and over the hills of difficulty which he meets with in his way to heaven. If I might carry on the allegory, I would observe that all the advantage which the right hand steed has over the other, is, that it is first put in the traces; but this is no proof of his superiority, for he will be taken off at the gate of heaven; and "obedient love" alone shall have the honour of drawing the Christian's triumphal car through the realms of glory.

Reader, if in the theory and practice you maintain both Gospel axioms; if, instead of setting up the one in opposition to the other, you stand upon the Scriptural line in which they harmonize; you have surmounted the greatest difficulty there is in the Christian religion: you "hold the faith once delivered unto the saints." And now prepare to contend for it: arm yourself for the fight; for Antinomian believers will attack you on the left hand, and Pharisaic unbelievers on the right. But be not afraid of their number; patiently receive their double fire. They may gall one another, but they cannot hurt you.

Truth is great, and love powerful: if you fight under their glorious banners, though the arrows of contempt, and the brands of calumny, will fly thick around you, you shall not be dangerously wounded. Only "take the shield of faith," with this motto, "By grace I am saved through faith;" and quench with it the fiery darts of self-conceited legalists. "Put on the breastplate of righteousness," with this inscription, "Faith works by righteous love, the mother of good works:" this piece of celestial armour will keep off the heaviest stroke of self-humbled gospellers. And animated by the Captain of your salvation, through the opposite forces of those adversaries, urge your evangelically-legal way, till you exchange "the sword of the Spirit" for a "golden harp," and your daily cross for a heavenly crown.

Such is the happy medium that the author of this book desires to recommend. Some time ago he thought himself obliged to oppose good mistaken men, who, in their zeal for the first Gospel axiom, wanted to represent the second as a " dreadful heresy." And now he lets these papers see the light, not only to prove to the free thinkers of his parish that the first axiom is highly rational, but to convince the enemies of the second axiom, that, though he has exposed their mistakes with regard to works, he receives the genuine doctrines of grace as cordially as they; and is ready Scripturally and rationally to defend salvation by faith, against the most plausible objections of self-righteous moralists.

He just begs leave to observe,-that the preceding pages guard the first Gospel axiom; that the Four Checks to Antinomianism guard chiefly the second: that the Equal Check to Pharisaism and Antinomianism guards both at once; and that those tracts contain a little system of practical and polemical divinity, which, it is hoped, stands at an equal distance from the errors of moral disbelievers, and immoral believers.

This book is chiefly recommended to disbelieving moralists, who do

ride the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in the day of conversion, merely because they are not properly acquainted with our fallen and lost estate. And the Checks are chiefly designed for disbelieving Antinomians, who rise against the doctrine of a believer's salvation by grace through the works of faith in the great day, merely because they do not consider the indispensable necessity of evangelical obedience, and the nature of the day of judgment.

In the Appeal, the careless, self-conceited sinner is awakened and humbled. In the Address, the serious, humbled sinner is raised up and comforted. And in the Checks, the foolish virgin is reawakened, the Laodicean believer reproved, the prodigal son lashed back to his father's house, and the upright believer animated to mend his pace in the way of "faith working by love," and "to perfect holiness in the fear of God."










[ocr errors]


1. IT seems necessary, here, to acquaint the reader that, as Dr. Priestley had asserted the doctrine of the trinity to be irrational, and that of our Lord's divinity to have no foundation either in the Old Testament or the New; Mr. Fletcher, in opposition to these assertions, had intended this work to consist of three parts; the first containing a Rational Defence of the Cdtholic FaiGi, respecting the trinity and the divinity of our Lord; and the two last, a Vindication of the.Prophets and Apostles, "from the antichristian service, (as Mr. Fletcher's phrase is,) to which the doctor had pressed them." But being unexpectedly called to his reward, he left them all in a very imperfect state. Even of this first part (which indeed seems to have been begun after the others) he had only written the introduction, the first letter, and four chapters; and of these the third and fourth seem not to have been quite finished.

2. I was in doubt, for some time, whether it would not be best just to correct the manuscripts and give them to the public in their unfinished state; especially as I could not learn, cither from\any hints left in writing, or from any thing he had said to Mrs. Fletcher or any one else, what plan Mr. Fletcher intended to have pursued in the farther prosecution of the subject. But after more maturely considering the matter, it appeared that this would by no means answer the end the pious author had in view in beginning this work, as he did not seem to have proceeded far enough to have formed what could be called a proper vindication of the doctrine of Christ's divinity. It was judged necessary therefore to carry the argument at least a little farther, in order that the work might, in some tolerable degree, be complete. In doing this, as I could form no judgment concerning Mr. Fletcher's intentions, I have been under the necessity of pursuing that plan which seemed most likely to answer the end proposed; endeavouring, however, to preserve such a connection between the part I have added and that which Mr. Fletcher had written, that the whole might appear one continued treatise, and not a kind of patchwork.

3. As to the style, indeed, the reader will doubtless observe a material difference between that which is Mr. Fletcher's and what I have composed; and will regret that (with respect to this first part) he must take leave of so entertaining as well as instructive a writer as the ingenious author of the Checks, so early as at the conclusion of the fourth chapter,

« AnteriorContinuar »