Vindiciae legis, or, A vindication of the morall law and the covenants, from the errours of Papists, Arminians, Socinians, and more especially, Antinomians in XXX lectures, preached at Laurence-Jury, London
Burgess, Anthony, d. 1664.
Page  29


1 TIM. 1. 8, 9.
Knowing the Law is good, if a man use it lawfully.

IT is my intent, after the cleare proofe of Justification by the grace of God, and not of works, to shew how corrupt the Antinomian is in his inferences hence-from; and, this being done, I shall shew you the necessity of holy and good works notwithstanding.

But before I come to handle some of their dangerous errours in this point, let me premise something, As,

1. How cautelous and wary the Ministers of God ought to be in this*matter, so to set forth grace, as not to give just exception to the popish caviller; and so to defend holy works, as not to give the Antinomian cause of insultation. While our Protestant authors were diligent in digging out that precious gold of justification by free-grace, out of the mine of the Scripture; see what Canons the Councell of Trent made against them, as Antinomian: Can. 19. If any man shall say, The ten Precepts belong nothing at all to Christians, let him be accursed, Decem praecepta nihil ad Christianos pertinere, anathema sit. Again, Can. 20. If any man shall hold, that a justi∣fied person is not bound to the observation of the Commande∣ments, but only to believe, let him be accursed. Si quis dixerit hominem justificatum non teneri ad observantiam mandatorum, sed tantùm ad credendum, anathema sit. Again, Can. 21. If any shall hold Christ Jesus to be given unto men, as a Redeemer in whom they are to trust, but not as a Law-giver, whom they are to obey, let him be accursed. Si quis dixerit Christum Jesum datum fuisse hominibus ut redemptorem cui fidant, non autem ut legislatorem cui obediant, anathema sit. You may gather by these their Canons, that we hold such opinions as, indeed, the Antinomian-doth: but our Writers answer, Here they grossely mistake us; and, if Page  30 this were all the controversie, we should quickly agree. It is no wonder then if it be so hard to preach free-grace, and not pro∣voke the Papist; or, on the other side, to preach good works of the Law, and not offend the Antinomian.

2. There have been dangerous assertions about good works, even by those that were no Antinomians, out of a great zeale for the grace of God against Papists. These indeed, for ought I can learn, did no wayes joyn with the Antinomians: but in this point there is too much affinity. There were rigid Lutherans called Flacians, who as they did goe too far, at least in their expressions, about originall corruption (for there are those that doe excuse them;) so also they went too high against good works: Therefore in stead of that position, maintained by the Orthodox, Good works are necessary to salvation, Bona opera sunt necessaria ad salutem; they held, Good works are pernicious to salvation, Bona opera sunt perniciosa ad salutem. The occasion of this divi∣sion was the book called, The Interim, which Charles the Empe∣rour would have brought into the Germane Churches. In that book was this passage, Good works are necessary to salvation: to which Melancthon and others assented (not understanding a necessity of merit, or efficiency, but of presence;) but Flacius Illyricus and his followers would not, taking many high expressions out of Luther (even as the Antinomians doe) for their ground. Hence also Zanchy, because in his writings he had such passages as these, No man grown up can be saved, unlesse he give himself to good works, and walk in them: One Hinckellman, a Lutheran, doth endeavour, by a troop of nine Arguments, to tread downe this assertion of Zanchy, which he calls Calviniana〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as a most manifest errour. Now, if all this were spoken to take men off from that generall secret sin of putting confidence in the good works we doe, it were more tolerable: in which sense we applaud that of Luther, Take heed not only of evil works, but of good, Cave non tantùm ab operibus malis, sed etiam à bonis; and that of another man, who said, he got more good by his sins, then his graces: But these speeches must be soundly understood. We also love that of Austin, All the Commands are accounted as if thou hadst done them, when what is not done, is forgiven, Omnia mandata tua facta deputantur, quando quicquid non fit, ignoscitur.

Page  31 3. That is the incommodious, yea and erroneous passages in Anti∣nomian Authors, were used for some reasons hereafter to be mentio∣ned, it were the more tolerable: but that seems not to be. There is more poison then can be concocted in them. But if this were their ground of many unsavory assertions among them, meerly their want of clear judgement to expresse themselves, so that they think more orthodoxly then they write; then they might be excused, as being in a logomachy: but with this proviso, as Austine said of them that used the word fatum in a good sense, Let them hold their opinion, but correct their expressions, Mentem teneant, sed linguam corrigant. Now, that there may be injudiciousnesse in them, as a cause in part of some of their erroneous passages, will appeare in that they frequently speake contradictions. This is a passage often, but very dangerous, that, Let a man be a wicked man, even as high as enmity it self can make a man, yet while he is thus wicked, and while he is no better, his sins are pardoned, and he justified. Yet now in other passages, Though a man be never so wicked, yet if he come to Christ, if he will take Christ, his sinnes are pardoned: now what a contradiction is here, To be wicked and, while he is wicked, and, while he is no better, and yet to take Christ, unlesse they hold that, to take Christ, or, to come to him, be no good thing at all? But happily more of their con∣tradictions hereafter. Their injudiciousnesse and weaknesse doth also appear, that when they have laid down such a truth as every godly Author hath, they have so many words about it, and doe so commend it, as if they had found a Philosophers Stone, or a Phenix; as if the Reader should presently cry out and say, Behold a greater then Solomon is here: and yet it is but that which every Writer almost hath. Again, their injudiciousnesse doth appeare, in that they minde only the promissory part of the Scripture, and doe stand very little upon the mandatory part. There are five or six places, such as, Christ came to save that which was lost, and, He hath laid on him the iniquities of us all, &c. these are over and over again: But you shall seldome or never have these places urged, Make your calling and election sure. Work out your salva∣tion with feare and trembling; whereas all Scripture is given for our use. Therefore, 1. If weaknesse were all the ground of this con∣troversie, the danger were not so great. Or, 2ly, If the end and Page  32 aime they had, were only to put men off from glorying in themselves, to deny the concurrence of works to the act of justification. If their desire were that men should not (as Michal) put an image in Davids roome, so neither that Christians should put their works in Christs stead, thus farre it might be excusable: but then their books, and their aimes cannot be reconciled. Or, If, 3ly, their maine drift was only to shew that good works follow a justified person, and that they doe not antecede; here would be no opposition: but they deny the presence of them in time. Or, 4ly, If the question were about preparatory works to justification and conversion; though (for my part) I think there are such, with those limitations that hereafter may be given to them: this also were not so hainous. Or fifthly, If the dispute were onely upon the space of time between a profane mans profanenesse, and his justification, or the quantity of his sorrow; these things were of another debate. I do acknowledge, that the Christian Religion was matter of offence to the Heathens, in that they taught, Though a man had never been so wicked, yet, if he did receive Christ, he should be pardoned; and how soon this may be done, it is as God pleaseth: but there is an alteration of the mans nature at that time also; and Chrysostome, indeed, hath such a passage upon that Scripture, The righteous shall live by faith, Rom. 1. by faith onely a man hath remission of sins; Now (saith he) this is a Paradox to humane reason, that he who was an adulterer, a murderer, should present∣ly be accounted righteous, if he doe beleeve in Christ: but this differs from the Antinomian assertion, as much as heaven from hell. So it's related in Ecclesiasticall history of Constantine the Great, that when he had killed many of his kindred, yea and was counselled also to murder his own son, repenting of these hainous crimes, askt Sopater the Philosopher, who succeeded Plotinus in teaching him, Whether there could be any expiation for those sins? The Philosopher said, No: afterwards he asked the Christian Bishops, and they said, I, if he would beleeve in Christ. This was feigned, to make our Religion odious. Or sixthly, If it were to shew, that there cannot be assurance before justi∣fication, or that to relye upon Christ for pardon, it is not necessary I should know whether I have truly repented, or no; This were also of another nature.

Page  33 Therefore let us see what prejudiciall inferences they gather from this doctrine of Justification. I know, the proper place of handling this will come, when we speak of that point; but yet, to give some antidote against their errours, I will name some few: as, 1. Denying them to be a way to heaven. Thus one ex∣presly * (Sect. 4. on Christ being a way, pag. 68.) It is a received con∣ceit among many persons, that our obedience is a way to heaven; though it be not causa, yet it's via ad regnum: Now this he la∣bours to confute. As for the speech it self, Divines have it out of Bernard, where, among other encomium's of good works, cal∣ling them Seeds of hope, incentives of love, signes of hidden Pre∣destination, and presages of future happinesse, Spei quaedam semi∣naria, charitatis incentiva, occultae Praedestinationis indicia, futurae felicitatis praesagia, he addeth this, The way to the Kingdome, not the cause of reigning, Via regni, non causa regnandi. Now it's true, that they are not a way in that sense that Christ is called a Way, no more then the spirituall life of a Christian is life in that sense Christ stileth himself Life; for, here he understands it of himself, as the causall and meritorious way: Therefore there are Articles added to every one, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and that which followeth makes it cleare, No man can come to the Father, but by me.

Object. Oh, but say they, our works are our businesse and im∣ployment, not our way.

Sol. I answer, when we call them a way, it's a metaphor, and such a metaphor, that the Scripture doth often delight in: Thus the wayes of God are said to be perfect, Deut. 32. that is, the works of the Lord; and thus, when it's applyed to men, if signifieth any religion, doctrine, manners, actions, or course of life, 2 Pet. 2. 2, 15, 21. So that good works are both our way, and imployment; for an imployment and way in this sense are all one. Thus Matth. 7. 17. Strait is the way that leadeth to life: What is this, but the work of grace and godlinesse? for, as for that exposition of the same author, to understand it of Christ, as if he were strait, because men do account him so, and therefore would adde works to him, this is to compell Scripture to go two miles with us, that would not go one; and then, by the opposition, not wickedness, but the devil himself would be the broad way.

Page  34 2. Denying the presence of them in the person justified. And truly, * this is so dangerous, that I know not how charity can excuse it: It is such a naevus, that ubera charitatis cannot tegere, cover it. For, thus saith the Authour expresly, speaking of that of Paul, Therefore we conclude, a man is justified without the deeds of the Law: Here (saith he) the Apostle doth not only exclude works from having any power operative to concurre in the laying iniquities upon Christ, but excludes all manner of works men can doe, to be pre∣sent and existent in persons, when God doth justifie them. And he in∣stanceth of a generall pardon for theeves and traitors: Now (saith he) one may take the pardon as well as another. And so speak∣ing upon that place [He hath received gifts for men, even for the rebellious.] he concludes, that therefore though a man doe rebell actually from time to time, and doe practise this rebellion; yet, though this person do thus, the hatefulnesse thereof is laid upon Christ: Is not this such a doctrine that must needs please an ungodly heart?

3. In the denying of gaining any thing by them, even any peace of heart, or losing it by them. Now this goeth contrary to Scripture. * Thus page 139. (the Antinomian saith) The businesse we are to do is this, that though there be sinnes committed, yet there is no peace bro∣ken, because the breach of peace is satisfied in Christ; there is a reparation of the damage before the damage it self be committed. And again, page 241. If God come to reckon with beleevers for sinne, either he must aske something of them, or not; If not, why are they troubled? If so, then God cannot bring a new reckoning. And in other places, If a man look to get any thing by his graces, he will have nothing but knocks. To answer these, it is true, if a man should look by any repentance or grace to have Heaven and pardon, as a cause or merit, this were to be ignorant of the imperfection of all our graces, and the glorious greatnesse of those mercies: What proportion hath our faith, or godly sorrow with the everlasting favour and good pleasure of God? But first, the Scripture useth severe and sharp threatnings even unto the godly, where they neglect to repent, or goe on in sin, Rom. 8. 13. If ye live after the flesh, you shall die: especially consi∣der that place, Hebr. 12. two last verses; the Apostle alludeth to that place, Deut. 4. and he saith, Our God (as well as the God Page  35 of the Jewes, who appeared in terrour) is a consuming fire: Now then, if the Scripture threatens thus to men living in sin, if they doe not, they may finde comfort. Secondly, Our holy duties, they have a promise of pardon, and eternall life, though not because of their worth, yet to their presence: and there∣fore may the godly rejoyce when they finde them in themselves. Lastly, their ground is still upon that false bottome, Be∣cause our sinnes are laid upon Christ. What then? they may be laid upon us in other respects, to heale us, to know how bitter a thing it is to sinne against God. God doth here, as Joseph with his brethren; he caused them to be bound, and to be put in gaoles, as if now they were to smart for their former impiety.

4. In denying them to be signes and testimonies of grace, or Christ*dwelling in us. And here, indeed, one would wonder to see how laborious an Author is to prove, that no inherent graces can be signes: and he selects three instances, Of universality of obedi∣ence, Of sincerity, and love to the brethren; concluding, that there are two evidences only; one revealing, which is the Spirit of God immediately; the other receiving, and that is faith. Now, in answering of this, we may shew briefly how many weak props this discourse leaneth upon:

1. In confounding the instrumentall evidencing with the effi∣cient; Not holy works (say they) but the Spirit: Here he doth oppose subordinates; Subordinata non sunt opponenda, sed componenda. As if a man should say, We see not by the beames, or reflection of the Sun, but the Sun. Certainly, every man is in darknesse, and, like Hagar, seeth not a fountaine, though neare her, till her eyes be opened. Thus it is in grace.

2. We say, that a Christian, in time of darknesse and tempta∣tion, is not to go by signes and marks, but obedientially to trust in God, as David calls upon his soul often; and the word is emphaticall, signifying such a relying or holding, as a man doth that is falling down into a pit irrecoverably.

3. His Arguments, against sincerity, and universality of obe∣dience, goe upon two false grounds: 1. That a man cannot distinguish himself from hypocrites; which is contrary to the Scriptures exhortation. 2. That there can be no assurance, but Page  36 upon a full and compleat work of godlinesse. All which are po∣pish arguments.

4. All those arguments will hold as strongly against faith; for, Are there not many beleevers for a season? Is there not a faith that indureth but for a while? May not then a man as soon know the sincerity of his heart, as the truth of his faith?

Now let us consider their grounds for this strange assertion, 1. Because, Roman. 4. it is said, that God justifieth the ungodly.* Now this hath a two-fold answer; 1. That which our Divines doe commonly give, that these words are not to be understood in sensu composito but diviso, and antecedenter: he that was ungod∣ly, is, being justified, made godly also, though that godlinesse doe not justifie him. Therefore they compare these passages with those of making the blinde to see, and deafe to heare; not that they did see while they were blind, but those that were blind doe now see: and this is true and good. But I shall, secondly, answer it, with some learned men, that ungodly there is meant of such, who are so in their nature considered, having not an absolute righteousnesse, yet at the same time beleevers, even as Abraham was; and faith of the ungodly man is accounted to him for righteousnesse: So then, the subject of justification is a sinner, yet a beleever. Now it's impossible that a man should be a beleever, and his heart not purified, Acts 15. for whole Christ is the object of his faith, who is received not onely to justifie, but to sanctifie. Hence Rom. 8. where the Apostle seem∣eth to make an exact order, he begins with Prescience, (that is approbative and complacentiall, n•• in a Popish or Arminian sense) then Predestination, then Calling, then Justification, then Glorification. I will not trouble you with the dispute, in which place Sanctification is meant. Now the Antinomian, he goeth upon that as true, which the Papist would calumniate us with, That a profane ungodly man, if beleeving, shall be justified: We say, this proposition supposeth an impossibility, that faith in Christ, or closing with him, can stand with those sins, because faith pu∣rifieth the heart; By faith Christ dwells in our hearts, Ephes. 3. Therefore those expressions of the Antinomians are very dange∣rous and unsound, and doe indeed confirme the Papists calum∣nies.

Page  37 Another place they much stand upon is Rom. 5. Christ dyed for us while we were enemies, while we were sinners: But, 1. if Christ dyed for us while we were enemies, why doe they say, That if a man be as great an enemy as enmity it selfe can make a man, if he be willing to take Christ, and to close with Christ, he shall be pardoned? (which, we say, is a contradiction.) For, how can an enemy to Christ, close with Christ? So that this would prove more then in some places they would seem to allow.

Besides, Christ dyed not only to justifie, but save us: now will they hence therefore inferre, that profane men, living so, and dying so, shall be saved? And indeed the grand principle, That Christ hath purchased and obtained all graces antecedently to us, in their sense, will as necessarily inferre, that a drunkard, abiding a drunkard, shall be saved, as well as justified.

But, thirdly, to answer that place, When it is said, that Christ dyed, and rose again for sinners, you must know, that this is the meritorious cause of our pardon and salvation; but, besides this cause, there are other causes instrumentall, that go to the whole work of Justification: Therefore some Divines, as they speak of a conversion passive and active, so also of a justification active and passive; and passive they call, when not onely the meritorious cause, but the instrument applying is also present, then the per∣son is justified. Now these speak of Christs death as an universall meritorious cause, without any application of Christs death un∣to this or that soule: Therefore still you must carry this along with you, that, to that grand mercy of justification, something is requisite as the efficient, viz. the grace of God; something as me∣ritorious, viz. Christs suffering; something as instrumentall, viz. faith; and one is as necessary as the other.

I will but mention one place more, and that is Psal. 68. 18. Thou hast received gifts even for the rebellious also, that the Lord God may dwell among them. Here they insist much upon this, yea for the rebellious; and saith the Author, pag. 411. Seeing God can∣not dwell where iniquity is, Christ received gifts for men, that the Lord God might dwell among the rebellious; and by this meanes, God can dwell with those persons that doe act the rebellion, because all the hate∣fulnesse of it is transacted from those persons upon the back of Christ. And, saith the same Author, pag. 412. The holy Ghost doth not say, Page  38 that the Lord takes rebellious persons and gifts, and prepares them, and then will come and dwell with them; but even then, while they are re∣bellious, without any stop, the Lord Christ hath received gifts for them, that the Lord God may dwell among them. Is not all this strange? Though the same Authour presse sanctification never so much in other places, yet certainly such principles as these overthrow it.

But as for this place, it will be the greatest adversary they have against them, if you consider the scope of it; for, there the Psalmist speaks of the fruit and power of Christs Ascension, as appeareth Ephes. 3. whereby gifts were given to men, that so even the most rebellious might be converted, and changed by this mi∣nistery; so that this is clean contrary: And besides, those words, with them, or among them, are not in the Hebrew; therefore some referre them to the rebellious, and make Jah in the Hebrew, and Elohim, in the Vocative case, even for the rebellious (O Lord God) to inhabit; as that of Esay, The Wolfe and the Lamb shall dwell together: Some referre it to Gods dwelling, yet doe not understand it of his dwelling with them, but of his dwelling, i. e. fixing the Arke after the enemies are subdued. But take our Edition to be the best (as it seemeth to be) yet it must be meant of rebels changed by his Spirit; for the Scripture useth 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 of Gods dwelling in men, but still con∣verted, Rom. 8. 11. Ephes. 3. 12. 2 Cor. 6. 16.