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of works, obedience to the moral law, as constituting men relatively worthy ;' a fourth is blamed for “ urging the necessity of recommending our‘selves to the mercy of God, and rendering our
selves worthy the mediation of Jesus Christ by ' holiness of living and by an abhorrence of vice' ;' • a fifth is blamed for asserting that 'good works are the condition, but not the meritorious cause
of salvation ;' and a sixth is blamed for teaching * that, whatever our tenets may be, nothing can * afford us comfort at the hour of death, but the consciousness of having “done justice, loved mercy, and walked humbly with our God;” expressions taken from a well-known passage in ' the Old Testament.''
The expression," invidiously arrogate, &c,' might be noticed ; but the subject has already been considered.2 · The True Churchmen ascer'tained,' by Mr. Overton, is the only book of any living author, among the evangelical clergy, or the Calvinists, which his Lordship has noticed in his work: and in some respects it is entitled to this honourable distinction. For I must avow my decided opinion, that the arguments contained in it fully prove the proposition which he attempts to support; and have never been, and never can be fairly answered. Others must determine whether it was exactly the kind of publication which circumstances required : it appears however to me, that by bringing the subject on which it treats fairly and openly before the public, with no common measure of ability, it is calculated to answer most important purposes, and to excite a careful investigation of the subject, from which truth has never any reason to shrink. At the same time, I cannot but express my surprise that only a few sentences froin this publication are selected, with decided disapprobation; and, as if these were sufficient to support the heavy charges brought against the whole company of Calvinists, or evangelical clergy; and that none of the numerous quotations bearing directly on the very subjects which his Lordship is discussing, and shewing in what a particular and express manner some, at least, of the evangelical clergy inculcate every kind of practical instruction ; nor any of Mr. Overton's own statements; are at all noticed. Much of the present publication would have been superfluous, had these things, from "The True Church
' Ref. 174, 175.
? On Ref. 49.
men,' been fully adduced. I shall leave others to decide, whether it was best for Mr. O. to animadvert on the passages cited; but I cannot doubt that most, if not all of them, compared with the scriptures, and with our authorized books, are very exceptionable. Is it scriptural language, for a minister to tell his congregation, that he hopes
they will recommend themselves to the favour of • God, by a regular attendance upon divine ordi
nances, and an uniform practice of religious pre'
Is there any thing like this, in our liturgy, our articles, or our homilies ? Mr. Overton's objection lies, not against ministers exhorting their people to do these duties; but to their attempting to recommend themselves to God' by so doing : when the best of what the most eminent Christian can do, instead of recommending him
to the divine favour, needs washing in the blood of Christ, previously to its acceptance by a holy God. This his Lordship must perceive on a careful reading of the whole passage: yet the clause gives some plausibility to a disadvantageous insinuation against the whole body. Thus at least the reader may be led to conclude that evangelical preachers do not inculcate the duties here mentioned; because Mr. Overton objects to their being inculcated from such a motive as that of ' recommending ourselves to the favour of God.' But would this be a fair conclusion? Can it be a justifiable insinuation :—Certainly such language seems an exhortation to them to “go about to “ establish their own righteousness;" instead of warning them to “ submit to God's righteous
ness," and to trust wholly in his free mercy, through Christ for salvation.
· Dr. Hey, treating of the way, in which pardon of sin is obtained, says, “Repentance, I doubt ‘not, always avails something in the sight of • God.” Now the necessity of repentance in order to forgiveness Mr. Overton did not at all mean to deny ; but he objected to language which at least seems to ascribe that to repentance which should wholly be ascribed to the righteousness and atonement of Christ, in one view; and to faith, as receiving that righteousness and atonement, in another view. Nothing “ availeth in Christ Jesus, “ but faith which worketh by love.”
• We are often told, that repentance and reformation are ' sufficient to restore the most abandoned sinners 'to the favour of a just and merciful God, and to avert the punishment due to their offences. But what does the great herald and forerunner of • Christ say to this: He came professedly as a preacher of repentance. If then repentance • alone had sufficient efficacy for the expiation of
sin; surely we should have heard this from him ' who came on purpose to preach repentance ! But what is the case? Does he tell us that repentance alone will take away the guilt of our transgressions, and justify us in the eyes of our Maker? Quite the contrary. Notwithstanding the great 'stress which he justly lays on the indispensable
necessity of repentance, yet he tells his followers, ' at the same time, that it was to Christ only, that
they were to look for the pardon of their sins.' ““Behold,” says he, “ the Lamb of God, which • taketh away the sin of the world.” And again, 6“ He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not shall not see • life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." 'L Perhaps on an expression which, separated from its connexion, might not appear very obnoxious, it would have been better to say nothing, or to say more by way of explanation : but it is much easier to find fault than to avoid faults.
A third is blamed for talking of works as rendering men relatively worthy. - He talks of works, obedience to the moral law, as constituting men relatively worthy, and giving them, ' as he explains the latter of these scriptures, a
right of grace on the part of God; and of God • becoming their debtor. A right of grace, and • God man's debtor, (for this is what Mr. Daubeny
is enforcing,) is surely strange and incomprehensible doctrine! The apostle, however, is very
intelligible and express on the subject. “To him • that worketh” he allows, “ the reward not ‘reckoned of grace but of debt:” “ But if it be of works,” he adds, “then it is no more of
grace: and if by grace then it is no more by (works."'1 Now is there, either in the Bible or the Prayer Book, any thing like these words of Mr. Daubeny? In what indeed does his doctrine differ from that of the Papists, concerning works of condignity: Mr. Overton does not object to ministers inculcating obedience to the moral law; and urging the necessity of it as evidential of living faith, and for other important purposes : nay, on these topics he strongly insists, and adduces many quotations from the works of evangelical clergymen, in support and illustration of his views. He objects merely to the manner in which it thus is insisted on, and the claims with which it is connected; and these, I am bold to say, are wholly indefensible. It is with real pleasure that I refer the reader to his Lordship’s remark on the text, on which Mr. Daubeny grounds these exceptionable remarks, as giving, in my view, a scriptural statement of its real import. 2_“Blessed are they that do his command“ments, that they may have a right to the tree of “ life.”3 This is a right not founded in the real merit of men, but ' derived from the gracious
promise of God; not a claim upon God's justice, ' but a free gift of his mercy. In the text also,
'Rom. iv. 4. xi. 6. True Churchmen, p. 210, 211. 2 Ref. 170.
• Rev. xxii. 14.