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SECT. III.

Some things imputed to Calvinists which are PECULIAR TO OTHER SECTS.

§ 1. To profess a state of sinless obedience and unspotted purity in this life, is peculiar in one sense, to Antinomians. § 2. In another, to Arminian Methodists. § 3-5. The Calvinistic view of Christian

perfection, explained.

6. To vindicate dreadful crimes, abominations, and reproaches, peculiar to the refuse of civil society. § 7. The representations of IRENÆUS, EPIPHANIUS, &c. probably overcharged. § 8. This probability increased by modern Facts. § 9. To profess private revelations, peculiar to Enthusiasts.

10. That a continual progress in obedience is not necessary on our part to secure salvation, peculiar to practical Antinomians.

That Calvinists endanger the established church, and § 11. That their doctrine is liable to abuse, examined. § 12, 13. That the greatest danger of the established church, is peculiar to itself.

1. UNDER this head of our Examination I shall consult brevity; yet as it is my design in this work not merely to shew that the Bishop's numerous charges against the modern Calvinists are unfounded, but also to explain our views of Christian doctrines, I shall dwell a little longer on some articles than otherwise would be necessary. For instance, his Lordship calls the notions of sinless obedience and unspotted

purity' Calvinistic. Here, in order to an answer sufficiently fair, I might content myself with denying the imputation, except he had brought proofs of it. He might suppose that the notion is of public notoriety; and I might assert with

confidence that the contrary is a fact of public notoriety. If any persons, preachers or authors, express themselves in similar terms, they belong to other denominations. Antinomians have said some crude things about the elect being sinless, as considered in Christ who is so, that Christ was made a sinner for us and that we are pure or without spot in him, &c. For my own part, I can give them credit, that their real design is far less exceptionable than their expressions, interpreted with rigour, would import. If it be urged that these may be termed Calvinists, because they hold many points in common with Calvin; his Lordship himself may be so termed. For what denomination of Christians is there that does not hold many points in common with Calvin?

§ 2. The Arminians also in connexion with Mr. JOHN WESLEY, at least many of them, have said much about Christian perfection' and 'sinless perfection.' And some of them have contended that the latter is attainable in this life; nay, that some characters have actually attained this exalted distinction. Independently of the notion being justifiable or unjustifiable, I appeal to any one who has an accurate and extensive acquaintance with the Calvinists, is there one to be found among them who makes this profession? I know not any. Is it fair, is

it accurate, to impute to one denomination that which is peculiar to another? But, as before hinted, I wish to explain, as well as to defend the sentiments of modern Calvinists; and I shall therefore attempt to put my readers in possession of their sentiments on the subject.

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§ 5. Absolute perfection belongs to God only. Compared with him, every creature is imperfect. "The heavens are not clean in his sight, and he chargeth his angels with folly," that is, comparatively speaking. And yet the apostle Paul speaks of Christians as perfect: St. John supposes "perfect love" may be in the disciples of Christ, "casting out fear:" Noah and Job are said to be "perfect;" and it is the declaration of Bildad that "God will not cast away a perfect man." Were we, therefore, to renounce every idea of perfection, as applied to Christians, who live under the most perfect dispensation of religion, we should be chargeable with a most notorious contradiction of God's word. What we maintain is this: First, that every true Christian has the perfect righteousness of Christ imputed to him. In this perfection he is so interested, as to be perfect or complete in the point of acceptance with God, since without such perfection and personal interest in it, we think it not conceivable how an imperfect creature could be accepted or

justified. Secondly, that every true Christian has a perfection of sincerity and aim for the very idea of sincerity, or a "single eye," excludes all imperfection of principle; imperfect sincerity being a contradiction in terms-no less so, than impure purity, or a feigned unfeignedness. Thirdly, that some Christians have a perfection of exercised graces, compared with others of lower attainments.

§ 4. Their knowledge of revealed truths, for example, is more clear and comprehensive: they have a more accurate acquaintance with the perfections and character of God, and with their own real state compared with him and his law their love to God and to the Saviour, is more steady, constant, and operative; they have that perfect love that casteth out fear: their faith is strong, giving glory to God, and rises to full assurance of the reality and importance of the things believed: their hope is more firm, and steadfast, under the various trials of life: they delight themselves in the Lord more constantly their confidence in God is less waver ing their affections are more set on things that are spiritual and heavenly they are more zealously affected in a good cause they more uninterruptedly cleave unto the Lord with full purpose; and follow him more fully. The kingdom of God is more powerfully set up in

their souls, consisting of righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Compared with others, they may be said to rejoice evermore, and to pray without ceasing. They are of a meek and quiet spirit, and are clothed with humility: they put on the whole armour of God, and stand in the evil day of temptation: they grow up more and more into the likeness of Christ, and inwardly but humbly triumph in expectation of the glory that is promised them. And, to crown all, they sink into their proper insignificancy and nothingness, that the Lord alone may be exalted, reckoning themselves. unprofitable servants.

§ 5. Though every true Christian therefore is equally perfect as interested in the perfection. of Christ, and equally perfect as to the reality and sincerity of grace, considered as a principle in the soul; yet, there is a great difference as to exercised graces. There are, in this respect, babes, young men, and fathers in Christ. Their actual attainments admit of a great difference, which may be compared to the blade, the ear, and the full corn in the ear. But those who are most perfect, in this comparative sense, do not pretend to sinless obedience and unspotted

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purity. Their best prayers and praises are defective; often "when they would do good, the evil is present with them, and how to perform

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