A CONFUTATION OF Some of the ERRORS OF Mr. Daniel Williams. By the Reverend Mr. Uincent Alsop. IN A LETTER To the Reverend Mr. Daniel Burgesse.

LONDON Printed for John Marshal, and Sold at the Bible in New­gate-street, and at the Bible in Grace Church street where is to be had the History of the Union between the Presby­terian and Congregational Ministers in and about London; And the Causes of the breach o [...] it. 1698.


THough, in the ensuing Letter the Re­verend Mr. Alsop is brought in Con­futing some of those Errors, which are in Mr. Williams's Writings, and have been Countenanced by his Subscription, and the Defence he has written for him; yet it ought not to surprize thee. For, it's Pro­bable, he may plead Prescription, and upon this Foundation lay a claim to the Privi­ledge of contradicting whatsoever himself saith, or doth. His subscription to the Testi­monial before Mr. Williams's Book, Intituled, Gospel Truth Stated, in these words, We [Page] Judge, that our Reverend Brother hath for the substance, Rightly Stated the Truth and Errors mentioned as such; then thus to it, that he hath in all that is Material, Rightly and Fully Stated them; And again his De­claration in the presence of Dr. Bates, Mr. How, and others, that he subscribed only to the Right stating of the Truths and Errors, thinking or believing, or not doubting, that there are Errors amongst what he calls Truth; and some Truths Represented by him to be Errors and yet an Error as well as a Truth may be rightly Stated; These contradictions, as well as his Approving and Recommend­ing the First Paper, then subscribing it, and yet with the greatest virulence exposing it; may serve instead of a Demonstration, that how surprizing soever they may be in ano­ther, they ought not to be so in him: And that his late seeming Tergiversations, Wind­ings and Turnings are not so much to be heeded, but that still his Judgment is to be [Page] measured by what he has in his Anti-Sozzo, and must be so, until he Retracts and An­swers it.

To which I will add, that I am of O­pinion, the Author of the Letter doth not urge Mr. Alsops Authority, but his Reasons, which are, it must be owned, a Solid Con­futation of those Errors, in Mr. Williams's, to which they are opposed. For Mr. Al­sops Acting the Part of a Fickle man in for­saking the Faith he once Preached, cannot in the least weaken those Arguments, whose strength lyeth in their Conformity unto, and Agreement with the sacred Text. But not­withstanding the many different shapes he seems to have assum'd, I'll hope the best of him, that he has not Abandoned those Prin­ciples so freely own'd and strenuously pro­ved by him, in his Anti-Sozzo, and that therefore the Letter is justly Stiled, A Con­futation of some of Mr. Williams's Errors by the Reverend Mr.



THE Author being perfectly unknown un­to me, I can give no other Character of him than what he has given of himself in this Letter, However, I must do him Justice in de­siring thee to Correct one considerable mistake in pag. 8. line 3. and for, [what hath Infa­tuated an Alsop,] read [what hath Influ­enced an Alsop.]

To the Reverend Mr. Daniel Burgesse.


THE Matters in Difference between Mr. Daniel Williams, and his Opposers, as we gather out of his Books, compared with what hath been Written against him, is not as has been Repre­sented to us, meerly about Words, and Different Modes of Expression; but about Things of the Nearest Concern­ment to our Salvation: And the Menage of the Contest, on our part, so odd, that unless our Brethren in the City, do Directly, and with Great Plainness, Testify against the Errors found in his Writings, the Scandal, under which we shall all fall, will, with its Consequences, be much greater than the Wisest of us can Foresee; Though, God knows, it is already such, as makes us sink in the Esteem of Men of Good Learning and Sobriety. For, Sir, the Errors he hath vented if they are not the same with, they are so like to the Impious Opinions of Socinus, in several Points, that the more Exact our Examination is, the more apt we are to take 'em for Socinian; or, at least, for what is Ad­justed to Prepare the Way for their more Kind Reception [Page 2] and Entertainment. And to speak Impartially, He hath, with an Industry Unparallel, and with all the Art and Cun­ning, together with an Heretical Freedom of Saying and Vnsaying; of Subscribing and Renouncing, as it is for his Purpose, one while appearing in the Light, and again ta­king his turns in the Darker Shades; Gained; he has, Isay, gain'd such an Interest amongst our Brethren in Bi­shops gate-street, as to Conciliate some to his Notions, o­thers to his Person, and all of 'em to Act, as if they were entirely of his Mind: And is it not wonderful to observe, how almost all of you are wheedled into a Silence, and Consequently into a Tacit Approval of what you Abhor, by a Man, that Exceeds not his Brethren, either in Learning, or Vertue, or any thing else that can, with­out a Blush, be so much as mentioned; and who is no more, nor no longer ours, than his Interest, which made him to be so, doth Influence; For He is as much, and no more a Presbyterian, than the Present Controversy is a­bout Church Discipline, which Representation, he has made of it, is as Remote from Truth, as his Heart was from Vni­on with the Congregational Brethren, when he declared, That whilst he Liv'd, he would have nothing to do with them. For, although he has got an Advantage from the Independents absenting themselves from the Monday-Veet­ing in Bishopsgate-street, which he has Improved to the Per­suading Divers of our Number to believe, that they have wickedly Designed, and are Craftily Endeavouring the Subversion of our Church-Government, yet it is as mani­fest as the Light at Noon, That He is most Incessant in his Labours to Possess us with an Opinion, That He is a Pres­byterian, for no other Ends than to take you off from a Se­vere Examination of his Writings, and from your giving a Just and Necessary Testimony against his Errors; where­in he hath been so successful as to Prevail with most of [Page 3] you to Joyn with him in the Cry, that the Differences a­mongst you, are only about some Late Invented Terms and Phrases, or Peculiar Modes of Expression, or Methods of Explaining the Truths, in which you are, as to the Sub­stance, Agreed; Or, at most, about Tything the Mint, Anise and Cummin of Religion, so Remote are they from affecting the weightier matters of Faith, whence it's com­monly Demanded, To what purpose is there so much Noise and Pother made? What hath Mr. Williams done? Of what Nature are the Errors, with which he is Charg­ed? Why are they not Assigned? They have been As­signed, first by six Independent Ministers in a Paper sent to your Meeting in Bishopsgate-street; Then by Mr Chaunc [...]y, in his Neonomianism Vnmask'd; Afterwards by Mr Lobb, in a Paper delivered to several of our Brethren, as in the late History of the Union, p. 28. But that you may see what provokes me, I will, without Exaggeration, set down some of his Erroneous Opinions, in his own words; Show their Agreement with the Tenets advanced by the Enemies to Christ's Truths, and how strenuously the Learned and Reverend Father Alsop, has, in his Answer to a Socinianizing Gentleman, I mean in his Anti-Sozzo, con­futed Mr. Williams.

Sect. I. About the Eternity of the Death threatned against Sin.

The Notion Mr. Williams hath Espoused about the Eter­nity of the Threatned Punishment, is such as the Disciples of Episcopius, and Men of the Racovian Twang, have, in their Attempts to subvert the Doctrine of Christ's Satis [...]action, Advanced. For, as these Gentlemen do make the Threat­ned Death, in its first Consideration to be Eternal, as such; so doth He; whence it follows, That Christ could not suf­fer [Page 4] the Punishment, we Deserved, because that was Eter­nal Death; and Christ's Sufferings were but for a Time. So Socinus, in Crellius, Id quod nos pati merebamur erat mors aeterna, quam Christus nec sustinuit, nec sustinere, Decreto Divino obstante Potuit. Crel. Respons. ad Grot. Cap. 9. Par­tic. 1. And Curcellaeus, Christus non est Passus mortem aeter­nam, quae erat Poena Peccato Debita. Nam paucis tantum horis in Cruce pependit, & tertia die Resurrexit ex mortuis, quod nullam cum aeternitate Proportionem habet. Relig. Chri­sto Instit. lib. 5. cap. 19. Sect. 16. And so,

Mr. Williams.

‘The Threatning of the Law was Eternal Death, as Eternal, Eternity was an Ingredient in the Misery of Every Sinner-Man made Right.’ p. 14.

Father Alsop.

‘Let none say, if Christ bore the Punishment due to sin, he must suffer Eternal Death, seeing no less was due to our Transgressions: For, (1.) The Eternity of Punish­ment, is only due to Sin by Accident, as it is found in a Finite Person, who being not able to bear at Once, or in the Longest time, that Wrath, which his Sins have Demeri­ted, Divine Justice Exacts of him an Eternity of Suffer­ing. (2.) Whereas sin is only Infinite, or of Infinite Demerit, Objective, as committed against an In­finite God: The Sufferings of Christ are also Infinite Sub­jective, being the Sufferings of that Person, who is God, tho not as God; and therefore Christ in a Finite Time, was Able to give Infinite Satisfaction.’ Anti-Sozzo, p. 596.

Sect. II. The Next Point is about a Change of the Penal Sanction of the Law.

An Error of such a Nature, as hath a Fatal Influence on our Ministry, and the Lives and Con­versations of Men. For, if the Penal Sanction of the Law be changed for another, an Evangelical, and less Severe Threatning, then it must unavoidably Follow, that the New Threatning cannot be against any but such as are Transgres­sors of that Law, to which it is Annexed, and the Eternal Curse only against them, who do not so far Obey it, as to get a Right and Title unto Glory; so that Original Sin, which was committed Antecedently to the giving of this Law, falls not under its Lash, and the Old Sanction being Vacated, we who are only under the New, not a Man of us is lyable unto wrath upon it's Account; Nor doth any other Sin but Final Impenitence, Regnant Hypocrisie and Vnbelief expose the Soul to Gods Curse. The Drunkenness, the A­dultery, the Murder of a David, the Hypocrisie, the Lying, the Perjury, the Envy, the Malice, and what sin soever else is, in Mr. Williams's Opinion, consistent with the Truth of Grace, tho in the Lowest Degree, falls not under the Curse of the Gospel. If these Abominations are Commit­ted by some of his Saints, they cannot make 'em liable to Gods Wrath, nor to any Curse at all, if what he saith be true. For the Preaching of the Old Law, for Conviction of sin, is a Crime; As if the Apostle Paul, when he said, Cursed is every one, that continueth not in all things, which are Written in the Book of the Law, to do them, Gal. 3. 10. And when he Cryed out, Rom. 7. 9. I was alive without the Law once, but when the Commandment came Sin Re­viv'd and I Dy'd; had been at that time, under the Old Jewish Dispensation; For we have, with Mr. Williams, no other Law to Preach for Conviction of sin, but the New Gospel Law.

[Page 6] Sir, that I abuse not this Haughty Leader of our Bre­thren, I will Prove, that Crellius, and He are one in this O­pinion; and that he differs from Father Alsop.

Crellius, Mr. Williams.

I. Crellius, That under the Gospel there are Abatements of Gods Anger against sin, that most direful Sanction, Cursed is every one that continueth not to do all things, as in Gal. 3. 10. Deut. 27. 26. Is taken away, and that softer one, He that Believeth not, shall be Damned, set up in its Place Sub Evangelio sustulit severissimam illam Legis, Mosaicae sanctionem, Maledictus omnis, &c. Gal. 3. 10. &c. Deut. 27. 26. Loco ejus hanc Reponens, qui non credit, &c. Mar. 16. 16. John 3. 18, 36. Crel. de Deo Lib. 1. Cat. 23. But secondly, Mr. Williams expresseth himself as cleverly in his Pref. to Gospel Truth Stated. ‘The Gospel hath another Sanction to the Preceptive Part of the Law, than the Covenant of works had. Tho nothing be Abated in the Rule of Sin, and Duty, yet Blessings are Pro­mised to Lower Degrees of Duty.’ He also tells us, that the Threatning is not against Every Degree of Sin; so in the De­fence of Gospel Truth, p. 30. The Gospel Law doth not De­nounce Death for the same sins, as Adams Law did; That Law threatned Death for the least sin, yea, for one sin. But the Gospel Threatens Death not for every sin—Most of the threatnings in the Bible, that refer to the State of Souls are Evangelical threatnings. They are not by the Sanction of the Law of Innocence, but of Gospel Grace—Every Threatning used by God as an Argument to Conversion, is a Gospel Threatning. Gospel Truth, p. 133, 134. There is a Legal Preaching, which is opposed to the Gospel; and this indeed is a Crime; And to that this Chapter Refers—Then he sets it down as a Truth, ‘That the Legal Preaching, [Page 7] which is a Crime, is to Preach the Law as a Covenant of In­nocency, or Works’—The Real Difference between Do­ctor Cr. and himself, is, ‘Whether it be Legal (in the Culpa­ble Sense) to threaten such Penalties, as are short of Dam­nation, against such Offences as are Consistent with Sincerity, and yet avoidable by Serious Care and Diligence. This he denies. It is not Legal Preaching (saith he) in a Culpable Sense, to threaten such Penalties, as are short of Damnation, against such Offences as are Consistent with Sincerity. But to Threaten these Sins with Damnation, that is Legal Prea­ching, which must not be endured; And why must not the Sins which a Believer, consistently with Sincerity, commits, be threatned with Damnation? The Reason is Manifest. The Sanction of the Law of Innocence, which did threaten the least Sin, Every Sin with Damnation, is vacated, and made void: And the Gospel threatens Damnation against none but them who Die in Final Vnbelief, and Impenitence. But what Sins are, or rather, what Sins (doth he think) are not consistent with Sincerity? I presume he can't be of Opini­on, that Lying, or False Accusing, Reviling, or Reproaching his Innocent Brethren, or acting the Part of a Delator, or I­rish Evidence, are inconsistent with Sincerity; and therefore it must be a Sin to threaten Damnation against these Harm­less Abominations, if committed by himself.

Sir, This is such a Peice of Antinomianism, a Doctrine so Licentious and vile, yea, such a Consecration of the most Villanous Practices, that it Amazes the most Solid and Grave Divines amongst us, to understand, that not a man of you hath the Courage to Witness against this Mans Abominations. What! when the Foundations are struck at? To look on, be silent and revile them, who are hardy enough to write a­gainst this Man! What can the Orthodox Divines of the Church of England, Scotland, and beyond the Seas, or what [Page 8] will Posterity think of these things? What is it that shuts up the Mouths of our Grandee's, of a Bates, a Howe, a Veal, a Glascock? And what is it that hath Infatuated an Alsop, together with the whole Assembly in Bishopsgate-street, that they must become Advocates for a Man who Publisheth such Licentious and Libertine Principles as these? No won­der our Ministry is no more successful, when we make the Preaching of the Law void; I mean, the Old Law, under whose Curse all that Remain in unbelief, still are; and which makes the Sins of the best on Earth to be Obnoxi­ous to Damnation. Upon which Account we may, yea, we must threaten the sins of Believers themselves with Damnation, assuring them, that unless, when they sin they Flee to Christ, their sin will be their Ruine. For there is no change of its Threatnings, no Mitigation, or Abate­ments. The least sin is as much of a Damning Nature as e­ver, which makes it necessary for him, who commits the sin, Exercise Repentance towards God and Faith in our Lord Jesus for Pardon. The [Do this and Live; Sin and Dye] is so much in Force, that without a full satisfaction to the Threatning Part of the Law, and a Righteousness fully Answering the [Do this] there can be no Life attain'd un­to by any of us, and it is our Duty to Preach the Law of Innocency, and Denounce its Curse against all that abide in Unbelief, and against the Sins of Believers themselves. This is the Doctrine of Protestants, of the Fathers and Blessed Apostles. But I will go on to show the difference there is between Mr. Williams, and Father Alsop Distinct­ly, in these Points.

Mr. Williams.

‘The threatning of the Law was Eternal Death, as Eternal. Eternity was an Ingredient into the misery of [Page 9] every Sinner, and can be removed by nothing but the Lawgivers Dispensing therewith; upon Considerations equal­ly Vindicating the G [...]ory, as this Eternity of Sinners Tor­ments would do.’ Man made Right. p 14.

Note, the Dispensation is of the Penalty to be suffered, and not only as to the Person suffering.

Father Alsop.

‘I would observe, That he supposeth God to have Dis­pensed with the Moral Law: which is News to me, and I confess I do not believe it, nor shall I, till I have it con­firm'd. Some Errors, though Speculative, are Damna­ble, and such may this Prove: For, if we, like Fo [...]ls, Gog­gled in with the Rhetorical Divinity of this Age, should Trust to Gods Abatements of bis Law; and at last it should Prove, That God Loved Righteousness, and Hated Iniquity, as such, we were in a most Wretched, Misera­ble and Undone Condition▪ meerly by Trusting to Indul­gence—How much of this Law God will Dispense with, what Part of it, or what Degrees of the Violation of it, is to me unknown; and i [...] with any, whether he may not Possibly Dispence with the whole by the same Reason, is more than our Author's Principles can inform me. He that may Dispense with One Part of it, may with an other, and so of the Rest. For, where to stop, or put Bounds to such a Dispensation as comes from the Grace of God, is very Impossible to Determine, unless we knew the true Bounds of God's Grace.’ Anti Sozzo, p. 687, 688.

Mr. Williams.

‘Though Nothing be Abated, in the Rule of Sin, and Duty, yet Blessings are promised to Lower Degrees of Duty. Pref. to Gosp. Tr. p. 6.

Father Alsop.
[Page 10]

I do not find that God has Abated any thing of his Law, but is as Peremptory as ever; For, [Do this and Live.] Nothing will p [...]ease God, less than Exact and Perfect Obe­dience; tho in the Covenant of Grace, He is pleased to ad­mit another, a Mediator to do it for Believers: I would rather he would hear the Reverend and Learned Bishop Reynolds, upon Psal. 110. p. 492. In point of Validity, or Invalid [...]ty, there can be but and five things said of the Law. 1 Either it must be Obeyed, and that it is not Rom. 3. 23. Or, 2. It must be Executed upon Men, or the Curse, and Pe­nalty thereof be inflicted; and that it is not neither, Rom. 8 1. Or, 3. It must be Abrogated, or Extinguished; and that it is not neither, for Heaven and Earth shall sooner pass away.—Or, 4 It must be Moderated, and that it cannot be neither; For, it's Inflexible, and one Jot, or Tit­tle m [...]st n [...]t be Abated Or, Lastly, The Law it self Remaining; the Ob [...]igation th [...]reof notwithstanding, m [...]st towards such, or such P [...]rsons, be so far forth Dispensed withal as that a Surety sh [...]ll b [...] Admitted — both to Do all the Duties, and to Suffer all the Curses of the Law, in behalf of that P [...]son, who in Rigor should have done, or suffered [...]ll; so that [...]he Law, not One Jot, or Tittle there­of is abrogated in regard of the Obligation, therein con­tained but they are a [...] Reconciled in Christ. Thus far Father Alsop in his Anti Sozzo, p. 216, 217 who hath c [...]e [...] ­red it, t [...]at there are no Abatements in the Law, no Dispensing, either with the Commandment, or with the Penal [...]y, but only as to the Person. And Grotius has Evinced, That though i [...] be [...]ss [...]ntial unto Punishment, that it be for Sin, yet is it not Essential unto it, that it be on the Person, that sinned; and the Learned Bishop adds (as I have it, page [Page 11] 396, 397.) That in the First Covenant we were to do it in our own Persons; in the Second Christ is appointed, a [...]d al­lowed to do it for us. He [...]ullfilled All the Obligations of the Law; the Duties thereof by Active Obedienc [...], in his Life, and the Curses thereof by Passive Obedience in his Death. One more, Father Alsop. Though God hath not Abated of his Law, yet he hath Admitted a Surety, called, therefore the Surety of the Covenant.’ Anti-Soz. p. 699.

Mr. Williams.

‘The Gospel-Law doth not Denounce Death for the same Sins as Adam's Law did, that Law threatned Death [...]or the Least Sin, yea, for One Sin; but the Gospel threatens Death, not for Every Sin. Def of Gospel-Truth, p. 30

Well then, seeing the Gospel-Law doth not threaten Death against E­very Sin, and the threatning of Adam's Law is v [...]cated, or at least Dispensed with, Every Sin deserves not Death. For though the Des [...]t of, and Obligation to Punishment, are Distinct; and the Obligation may be [...] there is no Desert, yet wherever the D [...]sert is there th [...] Punishment is due, and the Pe [...]son obliged to undergo it till by an Ap [...]li­cation of Christ's Blood, that Obligation be D [...]ss [...]lv'd. [...]he Sins which are Committed, and Deserve Punishment, if they Oblige not thereunto, there is no need, if t [...]ere is no R [...]m for Pardon, which lyeth in a Dissolving the Obliga­tion, For, where there is no Obligation, there can be no Dissolving it; and where no [...]hreatning, there no Obligati­on; for an Obligation to Punishment, is by Vertue of the Threatning of the Law. Thus, he must hold That no Sins but Final Vnb [...]lief, and Impenitence, falling under the Threatnings of the Gospel-Law, can need a Pardon; and these he allows shall never be Pardoned, or at least those Sins, which are consistent with Sincerity, or the Imperfe­ctions [Page 12] of our Faith, Repentance and Obedience, need not a Pardon, because they fall under no Law. Threatning, against which Notion I may Justly set down what hath been Asser­ted by,

Father Alsop.

‘God is by Nature a Holy God; as he is Governour of the World, he is a Righteous Judge. Sin is both contrary to his Holy Nature, and his Holy Law; And therefore as a Holy God he cannot but hate Sin; as a Righteous Judge he cannot but Punish Sin: And because this Sin is Inherent in, and Committed by Man, God hates the Sinner upon the account of his Sin; his Person, and his Best Services are an Abomination to the Lord. From Hence it follows, That Sin being a Transgression of the Law, in its Preceptive Part, renders the Sinner Guilty, that is, Obnoxious, and Liable to the Law in its Sanction, to the Punishment. Now this Righteous Judge will certainly Charge the Guilty Sinner with the Penalty due to his Sin: But there is a way found out, That he may not Impute to Sin­ners their Traspasses,—which is by Christ; and, as he adds, by his being made Sin for us. Anti-Sozzo, p. 631.

Mr. Williams.

‘That Legal Preaching, which is a Crime, is to Preach the Law as a Covenant of Innocency, or Works—E­very Threatning used by God to Conversion is a Gospel Threatning.’ Gospel Truth stated, p. 222, and 133, 134. So that it's sinful to endeavour to Convince Men of their Sin and Misery, by Preaching to them the Law of Works, that is to say, Adam's Law; but we must confine our selves [Page 13] wholly unto the Gospel Law, the very Error held by Agrico­la Islebius, the Antinomian, and Confuted by Luther.

Father Alsop.

‘The Law is God's Law, and when it witnesses to a sin­ner, it witnesses home, convinces him of the Perfect Ho­liness of that God, who gave the Law; of the Peremp­toriness of God, in not Abating One Jot, or Tittle of the Law; of the sinners utter Inability to come up to the De­mands of the Law, and therefore the utter Impossibility of being Justified by the Law; of the Severity of God's Justice in Punishing the Violaters of his Law; and there­fore unless he can find another Righteousness, he must ut­terly perish. 'Tis true, the Law speaks its Old Language still, Do this, aud live? but then it speaks it only to those who are upon the Bottom of Innocency; for to a Trans­gresser, its Language is, Cursed is every one that conti­nueth not in all things, Anti-Sozzo, p. 544 In Rom. 7. 13. it's said, I had not known sin, exc [...]pt the Law had said, thou shalt not covet. From whence I Argue: By that Law, which says, Thou shalt not covet, comes the Know­ledge of sin; Therefore by the Moral Law comes the Knowledge of sin. The Major is the Apostle's own, in the place last Quoted; The Minor needs no Proof, but that a Man be able to Read the Ten Commandments, which is the Summ of the Moral Law, the Tenth whereof is, Thou shalt not covet. Anti-Sozzo, p. 538.

The Knowledge of Sin being by the Law, which saith, Thou shalt not covet, and which saith, The Man that conti­nueth not in all things is Accursed: That we may Convince Men of their Sin, and Misery, and of the Necessity of Be­lieving in the Lord Jesus, that they may, by his Righteous­ness, Receiv'd by Faith, be Justify'd; We must Preach to [Page 14] them this Law, and Denounce the Threatned Curse there­of. This is the Doctrine of Protestants, this the Doctrine Taught us by the Holy Apostles. On the other hand, if with Mr. Williams, we must confine our selves in our At­tempts to convince sinners unto the Gospel Law, how can we charge them with the Guilt of Original Sin, or Threat­en Death against them, for any other sins, than their Un­belief and Impenitence? An Error so Gross, so Absurd and Pernicious to the Souls of Men, that it becomes Every Good Man to Express his Abhorrence of it.

But, as if the Design was, That Men of our Way may Deservedly fail under the Reproach and Scandal of Shelter­ing, supporting, Aiding and Abetting a Real Antinomian, who, that he may cover his mischievous Purposes, makes a frightful Out-cry against Antinomianism, not a Man of our Number but your self, that I know, Opposes them, so far as to lie under the Rage of these snarling Scriblers.

Sect. III. Of Procuring and Purchasing the Covenant of Grace.

One Great Point in Controversie between the Reformed Churches, and the Remonstrants, was, Whether Christ by his Death did Procure, Purchase and Merit a New Covenant of Grace? The Remonstrants Positively Affirm'd, That Christ did by the Merit of his Death, and Satisfaction, Procure and Enact a Covenant of Grace with sinners. The Reformed Churches, in Opposition unto them, were as Express, ‘That Christ did not Merit the New Covenant of Grace, but that he was the chief Blessing of this Covenant, Promised in Gen. 3. 15. from whom all other Covenant Blessings, such as Reconciliation with God, Remission of Sins, and Eternal Life did as from their Fountain flow; That God in Renew­ing this Covenant with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and [Page 15] the other Patriarchs and Prophets, in the Old Testament, did first make mention of Christ, as the Seed, in whom their Posterity, together with all Nations, are Blessed. That in regard hereunto it is, that Christ is called a Mediator of the New Covenant, Heb. 8. 6. ch. 9. 15. ch. 12. 24. For the Mediator of the New Testament, and the Promise of this Mediator, must belong to the New Covenant of Grace.’ Judic. Theol. Exteror, de quin (que) Artic. Synod. Dordrech. Exhib. an. 1619. pag. 117, 118.

Now it must be yeilded, That a Great Deal turns on this Point; for from this Notion of the Remonstrants, it doth, saith the Learned Voetius (Select. Disp. Theol. Par. 2. (not pag. 133. as Mr. Lobb, in his Defence, p. 23. cites it) but pag. 233, &c. follow, ‘That Christ was not truly our Sponsor; That he did not suffer in our Place and Stead; nor did he in a proper sense Purchase, Merit, or Procure any Blessings for us:’ which, is, we know, Socinianism all over; notwithstanding which Mr. Williams falls in entirely with it; but Father Alsop as bravely Opposes it.

Mr. Williams.

‘Still remember, that the Merits of Christ are the Cause of this Gospel Ordination; [viz. of this Covenant of Grace] Pref. to Gosp. Tr. stat. p. 9. Christ by his Righteousness did not only Purchase a Conditional Grant of the Saving Ef­fects; (viz.) that Proposition, He that believes shall be saved. Gospel-Truth, p. 39. And, in his Man made Righteous, p. 103. Christ by His Blood Purchased the better Covenant with all its benefits.’

Father Alsop.
[Page 16]

‘We have heard of Procuring, Meriting, Founding a Co­venant, but not a Syllable of Evidence. Anti Sozzo, p. 716. I find frequent Assertions of this Doctrine. That the Co­venant of Grace is Owing to, Procured by, Founded on the Obedience of Christ's Life, and the Sacrifice of his Death:— and yet I cannot find any Proof; and therefore (till I see E­vidence to the contrary) I shall take it for granted that the Covenant of Grace is owing to, founded on, and given forth by that Free Grace of God, from which it is Justly Denominat­ed a Covenant of Grace, though the Intervention of a Medi­ator, such a Mediator, was Absolutely necessary to put us in­to the Actual Possession of those Rich Mercies Designed for us by God in the Covenant; which Mediator himself is owing to, founded on that Covenant of Grace; and therefore the Covenant of Grace is not founded upon him.’ Auti-Sozzo, p. 586. See Page 705, from line 15, &c. And p. 718. ‘Christ cannot be the Foundation of the Covenant, because Christ himself is Promised in the Covenant, as the Great Compre­hensive Blessing of the Covenant. Esa 49. 8. 9. He tells us, That God for Christs sake has entred into a Covenant, made a Covenant, his Righteousness and Obedience have procured a Covenant, are the Meritorious cause of a Cove­nant; when the total Summ of all is no more than this, that God has Promised to Pardon, and save us if we believe and obey the Gospel, tho we obey not Perfectly, p. 695.

Sect. IV. Of the Nature of the Covenant of Grace.

Mr. Williams, tho he hath suck'd in Arminian Notions, could never possess himself of Arminian Accuracy and Learning, and tho he was given to Books ever since he was five Years Old, [Page 17] and Regularly Admitted into the Ministry at eighteen, so Great his Proficiency in Divinity as not only to Attone for what would have been in another an Irregularity, but to make it very Regular, yet it must be acknowledged that, in his hast to the Theological English System, he skip'd over his Logick, as is manifest from the Description he hath given of the Covenant of Grace, which he doth with a great Deal of Formality, and Pomp. For Placing himself in his Do­ctors Chair, He very Gravely Asks;

Q. What is the Covenant of Grace? And in Answer he saith, ‘By Covenant of Grace I mean, the Way that God hath Ordained to Apply to Sinners that Salvation, which is Prepared by Christ, and which he wil [...] Enable the Elect to Comply with; which being to the Question Qaid Sit. one might reasonably Expect to find in it somewhat of the Nature of a Covenant in General, and what doth in special constitute it a Covenant of Grace. But not a word of these things; not a word of the Genus of the thing defined; nor of it's Specifick Difference, or of what is Proper and Peculiar to the Covenant of Grace, Distinguishing it from other Covenants. ‘It is (saith he) a way Ordained of God to Apply Salvation unto Sinners. But doth the Word [Way] denote to us any thing of the Nature of a Covenant, or what word in the whole Answer Import what is Peculiar to a Covenant of any kind or sort? Here is a Covenant, which, so far as we can Judge of it, is without any Par­ties Covenanting, yea, without any Pact, or Agreement, or Terms and Conditions; and may as aptly Contain in it the Nature of what is Distinct from a Covenant of Grace, as well as the Nature of such a Covenant. And if I Guess Right, the Account he gives of the Covenant of Grace in Particular is much the same with what the Gentlemen at Racow, give of Religion in General, which is in these [Page 18] words, Religio Christiana est Uia a Deo per Jesum Christum Monstrata, vitamaeternam Consequendi, and who can with any tolerable Appearance of Reason say that the Christian Religion is not the Way, that God hath ordained to Apply to Sinners that Salvation, which is Prepared by Christ; and which he will Enable the Elect to Comply with? The same may be said of Preaching the Word, of Faith in Christ, of the Blessed Sacraments, and the like things of another kind. For, these are ways, Ordained of God to Apply sal­vation unto Sinners, and according to this Definition (seeing cui convenit Definitio, ei Convenit et Definitum) they must all of them be Covenants of Grace. Now, if Faith be the Covenant of Grace, what is it's Condition? If the Sacraments be the Covenant of Grace, what are it's Seales? This is one Specimen amongst many of Mr. Williams his Pro­found skill in Logick; I say amongst many other which in Faithfull Rebuke's, High Applauses of the man, and Rude Demands, may Provoke some one or other to expose; and and the rather, if Possible, to Provoke the more Learned and Grave Fathers of our way, to Consider what manner of man it is, to whose Conduct they have tamely submitted themselves.

But to make the most of what he saith of the Gospel Cove­nant in this chapter, it amounts to no more than that the Remission of Sins is Promised to Faith and Repentance; or that the Benefits of the Covenant are Promis [...]d to all that submit to the Terms of it. Gospel Truth. p. 68, 69. That the use and Interest of Gospel Conditions is, but in a Degree from the conformity of them to the Praeceptive Part of the Law, but chiefly from their Conformity to the Rule of the Grace of the Promise, p. 58.

How to Explain this Distinction between the Rule yf the Precept; and the Rule of the Grace of the Promise, I cannot [Page 19] see how it can be done better than it is by Wolzogenius, one of the Fratres Poloni, who hath very exactly Deliver­ed the Socinian (which I take to be Mr. Williams his) Sense, to this Effect. ‘In every well constituted Govern­ment there are Laws, or Rules of Two sorts. The First are such as show the Subjects Duty, what he must do, and what he must not do.—Then there are Rules, by which Rewards are Proposed for the Encouragement of Obedience.—Haec duo Legum genere reperiuntur etiam in Regni Christi—For Christ (saith he) is our King, but so that he is at the same time our Father and Faithful Pastor. His Promises are Limited by certain Conditi­ons; and yet these Conditions are not over-rigidly insisted on in those Cases, where somewhat of Ignorance, or other Infirmities intervenes. The Promise of Eternal Life Re­quires an Observation of his Commands; but he knowing our Frailties will not Impute to us our Daily Sins, if so be there Remain in us a Sincere and Upright Heart, True Repentance, and a Certain Purpose of Amendment. Wolzog. Instruct, ad Util. Lect. lib. N. T. cap. 4. & 6.

That this is Mr. William's Sense appears clearly on an Observing how much he Insists on the Rule of the Grace of the Promise, as it accepts of our Faith, Repentance, and sin­cere Obedience for the sake of Christ, notwithstanding our many Frailties, Failings and Infirmities.

Mr. Williams.

‘The main of our Ministry consists in pressing Men to Answer the Rule of the Gospel, &c. Pref. to Gosp. Tr. p. 9. The Blessings promised on the Conditions of the Covenant of Grace, are meerly of Grace: They be for another's sake, and not our own, p. 57. The Gospel [Page 20] Promise being the Way which Christ Appoints to Dis­pence Saving Benefits to Sinners, must have the same Rules with the Covenant of Grace:—This Gos­pel promiseth its Benefit to such as do Believe—It Invests Believers in those Saving Benefits.—p. 65, &c. This Convenant is the War, &c.’

Father Alsop.

‘His Description of the Covenant is this; A Promise of the Pardon of Sin, and Eternal Life to those, who be­lieve, and obey the Gospel. [A more full Description than Mr. Williams gives in his Answer to the Question, What is the Covenant of Grace? yet saith Father Alsop] ‘A De­scription so liable to Exceptions, that it Describes neither the whole of the Covenant, nor a New Covenant, nor (upon the matter) any Covenant at all.’

1. This Description gives us little, very little of the True Covenant of Grace: For, (1.) Tho he thinks to put us o [...]t with a Promise of Pardon, and Life to those, who believe and obey, the true Covenant of Grace, hath given us a Promise of that Faith, whereby we may be­lieve, and of that New Heart, whereby we are Enabled to obey the Gospel. And first we have a Promise of the Right Faith, made to us in the True Covenant, John 6. 37. Eph. 2. 8.—We have a Direct and Ex­press Promise too of the New Heart, Ezek. 36. Heb. 8. 10.—

2. As it Describes not the whole of the Covenant, so it Describes not the Nature of a New Covenant, &c.

[Page 21] 3. Upon the matter it's no Covenant of Grace at all. For, (1.) A Promise of Pardon and Life upon Condition of Believing and Obeying, is neither better, nor worse than a Threatning of Condemnation and Death, to them who Believe not, and Obey not. It may with equal right be called a Threatning of Death; as a Promise of Life: It's no more a Covenant of Grace, than a Covenant of Wrath. Anti-Sozzo. p. 580, 581, &c.

There are other Notions in the Writings of Mr. Willi­ams confuted by what is in Father Alsop's Anti-Sozzo, which at this time I Forbeare to mention, tho a Small Invitation will draw them out, and a great deale more in Some Points of weight wherein he Differs from the most Emiment Reformers; under whose shaddow according to his Deceit­full ways he Endeavours to shelter himself, whilst it is his Vnwearyed Labour to subvert the common Faith of Protestants. In the mean time I do solemnly Protest (to use Father Alsop's own words) That as I have no Personal Quarrel with this Gentleman, so I have not willingly wronged his Discourse in the smallest In­stance: The worst I wish him, is, That he may Seasona­bly Repent of his Injurious Dealing, and his Unworthy Treatment of those Persons, who have Deserved well of Religion and the Commonwealth of Learning, and not ill of himself, particularly of his Ungenteel, not to say Unkind and Unchristian Carriage towards that Learned, that Ho­ly, that Modest and Humble Mr. Sylvester, between whom and Mr. Baxter he Sneakingly, and with Unmanly Flatte­ry, worm'd himself into the Good Old Gentleman's Opi­nion, and by unwearied Begging, Prevail'd to be the Man to supply his Absence at Pinners-Hall Lecture, to the End he might make his way the more Plain and Easy for the [Page 22] thrusting himself into the same Lecture on the Decease of that Great and Good Man, and have the better opportu­nity to play those Pranks he has since done, to the break­ing once an Hopeful Union; and according to his Irish Pra­ctices, cause Divisions amongst you to the great Dishonour of God, the Reproach of Religion, the Ruine of Mens Souls, as well as to the Grief of the most Godly, and Tri­umph of the Wicked and Profane.

All that remains, were to do Right to your Merit, and to Testify the Esteem I have for your Learning and Piety, tho wholly unknown to you, but that I am informed there is a Person, who hath out of Duty to God, Veneration for Holy Ministers, and Kindness to the Generation of the Righteous, undertaken it; and who I doubt not will ex­press the same concern for the Vindication of your Pastoral Wi [...]dom and Conduct, as might be expected from,

Your Vnworthy Brother, and Servant.

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