V I N D I C A T I O N
Rev. Mr. Maxfield's Conduct,
In not continuing with the
Rev. Mr. John Wesley : And of his
Behavior Since That Time.
Rev. Mr. GEORGE WHITEFIELD.
I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because I shall answer for
myself this day before thee, touching all the things whereof I am accused
of the Jews. ACTS xxvi. 2.
L O N D O N
Printed : And fold by G. Keith, in Gracechurch-Street; Mrs. Danson's, on Windmill-Hill, Moorfields, and at her Shop, the corner of Gutter-Lane, Cheapfide; H.Heard, at the Philobiblian Library, Picadilly; and at Mr. MAXFIELD'S Chapel, in Ropemaker's Alley, Little-Moorfields.
Rev. Mr. George Whitefield.
Reverend and dear Sir,
The following Pages are chiefly a Vindication of my Conduct and Doctrine from the Aspersions of Mr. Wesley, and many of his Society. To many I owe this Account, but to none so much as you, whose Sermon first preached in the open Air, in Kingswood, was the Means, under GOD, of my Conversion : And, as you told me the last Time I saw you, I ought to do it, both to satisfy you, and the rest of my Fellow-Christians, and I have now undertaken it; though I had withstood many, very many earnest Intreaties before.
I think it incumbent upon me to vindicate my Conduct as well as my Doctrine, and to free it from the Clouds and Scandals that it hath been loaded with. I should have been always silent, but from your Conversation with me, I thought the Cause of Christ, that I am engaged in, called upon me to speak at last. And you having been present lately at several Meetings of Mr. John Wesley and Mr. Charles Wesley, was then a Witness of their Treatment. For though your Wounds are healed, which you received so many Years ago in the House of your Friends, you know that mine are still bleeding, therefore I humbly beg a kind Samaritan's Compassion.
I apprehend that it will appear by the following Account, that I have suffered wrongfully; nevertheless I was inclinable to come as the Offender; and would have done any Thing, except the giving up my Conscience and my Chapel. I would have made the greatest Submission to have brought about a Christian Reconciliation, but you know all was in vain. And feeling nothing could be done that Way, I think it my Duty to vindicate myself in this public Manner, and to leave the Matter to the Judgement of the Church of GOD.
Perhaps many great Words may be spoken against me in this Affair, but I hope I shall be enabled to possess my Soul in Patience, and both speak and forebear to speak, as my Conscience shall direct me.
I am satisfied that it is necessary to vindicate my Conduct, as well as my Doctrine; for it might be perhaps said, "Whatever he says as to his Doctrine, he cannot answer to the Things laid to his Charge, respecting his Life, Enthusiasm, etc." And to speak of my Conduct, and not to speak clearly of the Things that I am accused of, without regarding the Person of any Man, would not be doing Justice to my Christian Friends, and to myself.
I have a great Regard to Mr. Wesley's Character, but I ought to have a greater Regard to Truth, and the Cause of CHRIST. It is incumbant on me to mention all that I suspect to have occasioned these Reports, many of which you have heard; whereby my Christian Profession, Faith, and Life, have been called in question.
And as our Law judges no Man, unheard, I may expect, that neither you, nor any of my Christian Friends, will be displeased at the relating my own Case to the Public as it stands; for I am fully persuaded, that both you and they have a greater Esteem for Truth, Justice and Equity, than for any Parties, or Persons whatever.
May our dear Lord J E S U S bless you with all the Blessings of the
New Covenant, and make you more and more eminently useful in the Church
of GOD, and bless you with greater Degrees of Grace, till you are meet
to be transplanted into the Paradise above, is the Prayer of,
Reverend and dear Sir,
Your humble Servant,
In all the Bonds of Covenant Love,
T H O M A S M A X F I E L D.
L O N D O N:
V I N D I C A T I O N
Mr. Maxfield's Conduct, Etc.
A Good Name may be reckoned among the most valuable Blessings of Life, and, in Solomon's opinion was preferable to Riches: A just Attempt, therefore, to preserve it from the false Reports propogated in many Places by my Enemies, I humbly hope it cannot be justly censured by any.
These Reports, false as they are, would have probably remained for ever unanswered in this public Manner, notwithstanding the repeated Intreaties of many of my Friends who knew my Innocence, if my private Character had been only attacked; for I have been long taught both to bear and to forbear. But the Case being otherwise, and the Cause of Christ having suffered by these unjust Reports, which have tended greatly to cast an Odium upon my preaching the Gospel, though an unworthy Instrument, and to prevent my ordinary Usefulness, and to hinder the success of my Ministry, which God has been graciously pleased to bless for many Years past.
The Accusations against me are of a very hainous Nature; namely, Theft, Enthusiasm, and erroneous Principles : and Mr. John Wesley, in his Penny-History of Methodism, accuses me of Enthusiasm, and of bringing a Scandal upon the People of GOD; but he hath propogated the other Accusations only by verbal Assertions.
First, with respect to my Theft ; about two Months, or a little more, before Mr. Wesley dismissed me*(1), I was desired to go over to Southwark, to spend an Hour or two in the Company of some Christian Friends. One proposed our going to Snowsfield-Chapel, as there was no Service there that Evening : But while we were there another observed, that probably Mr. wesley would not be pleased; to which I returned Answer, (as my Intention was not to displease) I should omit to come there any more; and from that Time, till after Mr. Wesley intirely dismissed me, I never was within that Chapel.
With regard to Mr. Arvin's taking the Leafe of the Chapel at first, Mr. Wesley refused to take it, when Mr. Arvin desired him: Mr. Wesley's demanding it, just at the Time he did. Mr. Arvin's refusing to let him have it, and Mr. Wesley's leaving the Chapel and People on that Account, is an Affair entirely between Mr. Wesley and Mr. Arvin, who was Lessee: I have nothing to do with that Matter, nor ever had.
Mr. Wesley having left the Chapel, it was shut up for some Time: Then when he dismissed *(2) me, and I had no Place to preach in, and that Chapel not being in Use, Mr. Arvin asked me to come there: I went; but soon after I began to preach there, Mr. Wesley told the People, wherever he preached, that a certain Person had took away his Goods, and that I used them; namely, the Books in the Chapel, the Linen for the Sacrament-Table, the Surplices, the Pewter Flagon, the two Pewter Cups, and the two little Brass Candlesticks.*(3) These he calls his Goods, and told Mr. Whitefield, before me a few Days ago, that "It was Highway-Work to keep them from him." But first, were they ever Mr. Wesley's, any more than the Things for the same Use in St. George's Church, are Dr. Howard's? Secondly, were they not the Society's? For their Money bought them all, except the two little Candlesticks that were given for the Use of that Place. Thirdly, Most of the same People, whose Money bought them, were then the Persons that had the Use of them; who would not have left Mr. Wesley, if he had not left them. Fourthly, all these Things, except the Brass and the Pewter, were so far worn, as to be worth very little, and would have been but a poor Reward for my many Years Labour. Fifthly, Mr. Wesley left the Chapel Ten Pounds Eleven Shillings and Three Pence in debt, for Rent, Candles, etc. as may be seen by the Book to this Day, which Sum was paid with the Money that was collected after I came there. This is the true State of the Affair, which, to this Day, Mr. Wesley calls Highway-Work! And if any one that wanted such Things, had given fifty Shillings for all that he called his own, they would have had a hard Bargain. Any one may go to Snowsfields, and upon Enquiry, will not be able to disprove any Thing that I have said.
But when Mr. Wesley had told the Public about it again and again in his Preaching, we sent several Messages to him, and to his Stewards to come and pay the Money they owed, and then they might take away all they called their own; and I believe they might have them to this Day, for there were others bought as soon as possible, and all the old Things put by for them, to take away whenever they would send for them; which I suppose they have not yet done.
But I am charged also with Spiritual Theft; namely, with stealing away their Children. But to speak in their Dialect, may I not say again, as I told Mr. Whitefield, that they detain Scores, if not Hundreds of mine from me to this Day, as also his from him? Nor will they let mine come once to hear me, nor his to hear him, if they can hinder them by any Means. And if the Providence of GOD would not suffer me to stay any longer with them, and permitted them to thrust me out, and they had kept from me all the souls that the Lord had been graciously pleased to bless under my Ministry; yet they might have put me away without setting me forth, to my Fellow-Christians and to the World, as though I was as wicked as the Highwayman : Is this the only Reward that I deserve from their Hands for my many Years Labour? But as I was neither bound to them for Life, nor they to me, either by the Laws of GOD or Man, why could we not have parted as Christians?
While I was with Mr. Wesley's, and preached with them, my Life, Character,
and Doctrine were entirely approved of; but upon my not continuing with
them, I was greatly reproached both as to my Life and Doctrine : and People
were every where warned against hearing me, and some of my only and dearest
Friends were desired not to let me come into their Houses, and those who
were blessed by my Preaching, must not afterwards come to hear me, till
they had obtained Leave from Mr. Wesley. And on the Supposition that Mr.
Wesley was the most able Minister in the Kingdom, and taught the way of
Righteousness most perfectly, he is generally for nine Months out of twelve,
from Town : And what must People do in his Absence? The Answer is, "They
must be obedient." It was acknowledged by them that GOD was pleased
to bless my Ministry when I preached in the Places belonging to Mr. Wesley
: And why may not the same Gospel be blessed when I preach in a Place that
doth not belong to him? I bless GOD that I am enabled to preach the Gospel,
though most unworthy, without Fee or Reward, either to myself or to my
Relations. I desire only to aim at GOD's Glory, and to have in view the
Salvation of my own Soul, and the Souls of those that hear me.
Secondly, With respect to my Entusiasm.
In a Pamphlet printed, and sold at the Foundery by the Rev. Mr. John Wesley (for it may be presumed, none else would dare to do it within that Jurisdiction) there are several Assertions, that are deficient in point of Truth; in the fourteenth Section; which the preceding thirteen Sections serve only to introduce a few Things the Public have been informed of several Times.
"In 1762, George Bell, and a few other Persons, began to speak great Words." Great Words indeed, and such as no judicious Person either would or could receive.
"Mr. Wesley, with whom they were then connected, withstood them both in Public and in Private." It may be suspected, by some Error in the Press, a Negative was inadvertently omitted in this Sentence; but if otherwise, the Fact is false, for when several judicious People, in the Society, desired their Meetings might be silenced, in November and December, 1762, Mr. Wesley would not permit it; and when I told him that Mr. Bell, and others, had said in my Hearing that GOD had done with all Preachings, Sacraments, etc. and was to be found no where but in their Meetings, he would not hear, but still encouraged them, saying, that though they might do some Harm, yet nevertheless they were productive of great Good : And continued so to do, until they left him in January following.
About this Time Mr. Wesley declared to several Persons, that he verily believed, and was convinced, that Mr. Bell had wrought several miraculous Cures by Prayer; and publicly testified at the Foundery, in the Presence of above a Thousand People, that when Mr. Bell threw up his Ticket, and broke off a Connection with the Society, that having a particular Respect for Mr. Bell, judging him to be a sensible Man, he took him aside, and in private Conference, intreated him still to continue with them; and afterwards wrote a Letter with his own Hand to Mr. Bell, requesting his Return : which Letter I suppose may still be seen. But why were these men published to the World so long after? Was it, that beneath their Shade Mr. Wesley might conceal his own Mistakes? If so, he has certainly chose a wrong Method, having nothing but groundless Assertions to assist him therein.
If Mr. Wesley did really think Mr. Bell an Enthusiast, and one who brought a Scandal upon Religion, why did he so earnestly solicit a Connection with him? But if otherwise, he judged him an upright sensible Man, with what Face can he justify himself before the World, for thus publicly defaming his Character? And how can Mr. Wesley reconcile these Contrarieties?
Mr. Wesley says that he withstood them, and adds, "This they would not endure : So in January and February, 1763, they separated from him in under the Care of Mr. Maxfield, one of Mr. Wesley's Preachers *(4).
This is also contrary to the Truth, Mr. Maxfield not being put away from Mr. Wesley till the latter End of April, about two Months after the 28th of February, when the Enthusiasm must have ceased, the Period being past ; which proves the above Assertion to be without Foundation. But lest the Reader should be misled by any Misrepresentations from Mr. Wesley of my being put away, it will be necessary here to assign the Cause.
Several disinterested Persons (that had no Connection with Mr. Bell,) could no longer suffer their Consciences to bow to Mr. Wesley's Yoke, and on that Account withdrew from the Society ; yet nevertheless, from a long Acquaintance, they respected me, and attended my Preaching and Exhortations. This stirred up a Spirit of Envy, that a good Opinion of me should be found among those People that had left their Society : Whereupon Mr. Wesley forbid my visiting of conversing with them as before, and told me he could not have Connection with any one who would not conform to his Rules*(5). This I refused to do, unwilling to bind my Conscience to what I believed so unjust a Demand *(6) ; for which Mr. Wesley and his Stewards would not permit me to preach any longer with them. I never knew but this was the whole Cause, till the other Morning at the Tabernacle, as recited in a Note, Page 8.
But if ever a Man's Conscience proved a faithful Monitor, Mr. Wesley's must strike him hard, when he reflects that he was so far from resisting Mr. Bell, that he defended him continually. But with regard to his Predictions I have often told Mr. Wesley, that I had withstood him again and again in private ; and never heard him mention any Thing of that Kind but once in public (as above) and then I set aside all that he had said. I have besought him for GOD's Sake and the People's Sake, to say no more about it; but all was in vain. But Mr. Wesley tells the World, that Mr. Bell, and the other Enthusiasts, separated under the Care of Mr. Maxfield ; he might as well have said under the care of Mr. Whitefield, who was then abroad.
The Public might observe, that all the Enthusiasm, Rant, Prophecies, and Irregularities of every Kind, were while they were with Mr. Wesley, and most of it under his Wing, in his Houses and Chapels, and, in all Respects, under his Care. Neither has Mr. Bell, or his Followers, given the Public any Offence of that Kind, since they left Mr. Wesley ; nor have they been under my Care, or any other's Care, since they were under Mr. Wesley's.
Again, Mr. Wesley says, in the 9th Page of his History, "But still Mr. Maxfield, and his Adherents, even the wildest Enthusiasts among them, go under the general name of Methodists, and so bring a Scandal upon those with whom they have no Connection." Boldly said, boldly indeed! It well deserves the Name ; because where there is Difficulty, there is certainly required Bravery to encounter. And Mr. Wesley will meet with some Difficulty to find Proofs by which he may support his Assertions. But does Mr. Wesley mean All or Part of Mr. Maxfield's Adherents to be the wildest Enthusiasts ? If Part, he should certainly have pointed out the Persons, and modestly have justified the rest. But whether All or Part, it would, no Doubt, have been received, in general, with an equal Degree of Probability, especially by his Society, who must be obedient to all that Mr. Wesley says, for he expects that all his Commands should be exactly obeyed.
But surely Mr. Wesley must be mistaken in the Case of Enthusiasm, for otherwise he would have perceived himself, and his, to be Enthusiasts. For Instance, a few Years ago, when we were alarmed from one end of the Land to the other with the Approach of a Comet, in the Year 1758, and to confirm the Testimony, he quotes the late ingenious and accurate Dr. Halley, who he says was never yet suspected of Enthusiasm, doubtless inferring from hence the Certainty of its Appearance. But suppose it should not appear, as it did not, if we understand Mr. Wesley aright, Dr. Halley must be an Enthusiast, by foretelling a Thing that did not come to pass, and consequently every one that adhered to it, must be dignified by the same Title *(7) : Among whom was Mr. Wesley, of whom we had the greatest Reason to think he believed from his very Heart the Things that he spoke about it; and that GOD required of him, as a faithful Watchman, as Noah did of old, to give the People Warning. This he did for a Time from one End of the Land to the other.
But Mr. Wesley will have no Hand in the Affair, and tells us (very prettily) by a Note, after he had seen his Error, in some Things that he had asserted in a Pamphlet, entitled, Serious Thoughts, occasioned by the Earthquake at Lisbon, "That upon the Christian Hypothesis there was abundant Certainty:" And of the Probability of its coming then ; "for the Scripture Prophecies are not yet fulfilled." As well knowing, that should he be mistaken in the Affair, after all he had said about its terrible Consequences, "of scorching and burning up all the Produce of the Earth, etc. Then lastly executing its grand Commission on the Globe itself, causing the Stars to fall from Heaven," he would undoubtedly be laughed at. But at the same Time, should it come to pass, his Sentiments of its Improbability would sink in Oblivion by the general Conflagration, and so escape the Shame for ever.
But why did Mr. Wesley say any Thing about it, if he had thought it was not coming? How could he answer it to GOD, who sent him to preach the Gospel; to preach of Things that were not true? And as the event proved, it was not ; so that Mr. Wesley has been as much mistaken in what he thought was the Will of GOD, when GOD required no such Service at his Hand, and guilty of as great and wild Enthusiasm as it was possible either for Mr. Bell or any one else to be.
But Mr. Bell has solemnly affirmed, that he left him, not for any of the Reasons that Mr. Wesley hath assigned, but for his double Dealings and unfaithful Proceedings.
"Mr. Maxfield and his Adherents go under the general name of Methodists, and so bring a Scandal upon those whom they have no Connection." How? When? Where? We wait for this Piece of Information, and so do the Public, to whom that hard Sentence is gone forth, before they have had one Thing set before them whereon the Scandal is grounded. Nevertheless, this we suppose will not be believed by All till the Causes of the Scandal are set forth, except it be by that Congregation that was called together at the Foundery for something very particular, the Circumstances of which are as follow : After preaching one Sunday Evening, the Society were desired to attend ; where after waiting some Time Mr. Wesley came into the Pulpit, and told them, after some other Things, that all the Good that had been done, either by Mr. Whitefield or Mr. Maxfield (for he had Letters in the House, where both Mr. Whitefield and I had subscribed ourselves his Sons in the Gospel) Mr. M- or any of the Preachers, etc. were all done by him, and complimented himself, on that Account, with the following Epitaph, of Philip of Macedon :
Here Philip lies, on the Dalmatian Shore,
Who did what Mortal never did before.
Yet if there's one who boasts he more hath done,
To me he owes it, for he was my Son.
O how unlike St. Paul is this, who affirms of himself, that neither he was any Thing, nor yet Apollos, but Ministers by whom many believed : Yet nevertheless, if Mr. Wesley is determined to appropriate all the Good, it is extremely just that all the bad, to the same Extent, be placed to his Account also ; among which we may find no small Part of the Enthusiasm that has been set forth these twenty five Years last past. O! when will the Bible Christians of our Times think themselves the least of all? The most unworthy of all? When will the Apostle's Exhortations take Place? When shall we be kindly affectionate one to another, walking with all Lowliness and Meekness? With Long-suffering, forbearing one another in Love? Putting away Bitterness, and Wrath, and Anger, and Clamour, and Evil-Speaking? O! when shall we above all Things put on Charity, and see the Day,
"When Names, and Sects, and Parties fall,
And Christ alone be All in All?"
Thirdly, What respects my Doctrine is principally as follows:
I. I believe that by Adam's Transgression all his Posterity are involved in Sin and Misery, and partake of his Spirit of Disobedience, having every thought of their Hearts only Evil continually, and having nothing in themselves to recommend them in the Favour of God.
II. That in the Fulness of Time JESUS CHRIST, very God, One with the Father, was made Flesh, and by perfect Obedience to the Law of God, and the Sacrifice of himself, obtained full Salvation for the poor helpless, lost Children of Men.
III. That this Salvation consists, first, in being justified by Faith through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST freely without any Works of our own, thereby being raised from a Death of Sin to a Life of Righteousness, and being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
The Nature of which Justification, and Sanctification, as well as the Efficacy and Power in the Soul, and how communicated, I humbly offer what I believe as follows.
Justification, according to the Scriptures, is that Act of GOD's Free-Grace to poor sinful, lost Mankind, in, and for the sake of JESUS CHRIST alone, whereby the Sinner is looked upon, or accounted just before an Holy GOD. GOD hath laid this Foundation by the Sufferings and Merits of JESUS CHRIST. The Voice is sent forth into the Wilderness into the Sinner's Heart, Prepare ye the Way of the LORD. The Blessing of the LORD accompanying the Preacher's Call, the Sinner sees himself lost, having sinned against Heaven, and in his Sight, and receives the Sentence of Death in himself, feels nothing in his Heart, but Condemnation ; and sees that was GOD to deal with him as he deserves, he could not stand one Moment before him, believing the Truth of that Word from his Heart, that in his Sight shall no Man living be justified, Psalm cxliii.2. And again, that by the Deeds of the Law no Flesh shall be justified in his Sight ; for by the Law is the Knowledge of Sin. Rom.iii.20. And being convinced that in his present State by Nature and Practice, he is only an Object of divine Displeasure, he is glad to believe, and receive the Promises of Peace and Pardon, as they are held forth in the Book of GOD. The Blessings of GOD attending the Word of Reconciliation by JESUS CHRIST, as well as that of Condemnation in himself; he sees, that now the Righteousness of GOD without the Law is manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets. Even the Righteousness of GOD which is by Faith in JESUS CHRIST, unto all, and upon all them that believe. Being justified freely by his Grace, through the Redemption that is in JESUS CHRIST : Whom GOD hath set forth to be a Propitiation, through Faith in his Blood, to declare his Righteousness, for the Remission of Sins, that are past, through the Forbearance of GOD. Rom.iii.21-25. Sinners believing these glad Tidings with their Hearts, see that these Blessings are all their own. And here this State of Justification is plainly opposed to the Sentence of Condemnation, Who then shall lay any Thing to the Charge of GOD's Elect? It is GOD that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? Rom.viii.33.
1. So these Sinners are justified, who come short of the Glory of GOD; they who had lost his Image; the Image of Holiness, and were not approved of by him : The Law condemned them, their Consciences condemned them, and they were without Strength : But JESUS CHRIST came into the World, to call Sinners to Repentance, to justify them, and to save them.
2. And the Justifier, or the efficient Cause, of Justification, is GOD, it is an Act of GOD's Free-Grace. It is GOD that justifieth.
3. GOD justifies Souls freely by his Grace, which is the moving Cause of our Justification. And this shows GOD's free undeserved Favour, in Oppositon to any Works of Righteousness; for by Grace are ye saved through Faith, and that not of yourselves : It is the Gift of GOD; not of Works, lest any Man should boast. Eph.ii.8,9.
4. GOD justifieth Sinners, through the Redemption that is in JESUS CHRIST, whom GOD hath set forth to be a Propitiation, through Faith in his Blood. This Propitiation hath appeased the Wrath of GOD; and obtained his Favour, and is the means of our Justification; as CHRIST by the Will of GOD, gave himself a Ransom for us, to redeem us from the Guilt and Power of Sin, and the Punishment due to it. And GOD was well pleased with the Offering that CHRIST has made of himself in the Sinner's stead; by which One Offering he hath perfected for ever them that are Sanctified, Heb.x.14. This Sacrifice remains for ever a sweet smelling Savour unto GOD; and the Sinner that believes, is interested and invested in it. But the Benefit of this Redemption cannot be enjoyed, but by those that are in CHRIST, and have CHRIST in them. And by a true Faith in CHRIST, wrought in the Heart by his Spirit, we are Partakers of this Redemption, and are interested in CHRIST's Righteousness, and the Sinner is freed from Condemnation by his being the Propitiation for all his Sins.
5. This Justification consists in the Remission of Sin, and as it is a Pardon grounded on Justice, it not only removes the Guilt and Punishment, but is the Cause of our being just, or justified before GOD. Through this Man is preached the Forgiveness of Sins : And by him, all that believe are justified from all Things, from which they could not be justified by the Law of Moses. Acts xiii.38,39.
6. And this Justification is received only by Faith, whereby the Blessing and Benefit thereof is made known to the Sinner's Heart, which Faith is called the instrumental Cause. We are justified by Faith in JESUS CHRIST. We have believed in JESUS CHRIST, that we may be justified by the Faith of CHRIST; and not by any Works of our own according to the Law. And this Faith is not a Work of Righteousness, by which we merit Justification; for this would be making Faith a Work of the Law; but it is the Hand or Instrument ordained of GOD, whereby we receive JESUS CHRIST, as he is made of GOD unto us, Righteousness, for our Justification. And hereby the Sinner is fully persuaded, that GOD does not impute his Sins unto him, no, not one Sin; but believes, with his Heart, that the Righteousness of JESUS CHRIST is imputed to him, as his Sins were imputed to CHRIST : And as CHRIST died on the account of his Sins being imputed to him : So he lives, having CHRIST's Righteousness, namely, his active and passive Obedience, imputed to him, and he receiving it into his Heart by Faith. O how precious must this make JESUS CHRIST to the believing Soul, setting him above all Things in Heaven and in Earth, and it will not have any Righteousness but his alone. And this Righteousness is the Righteousness of GOD : The Righteousness of CHRIST, namely, his Obedience and Sufferings, which is the End of the Law, and is called GOD's Righteousness: And is received by Faith. And this Righteousness which is in CHRIST JESUS is opposed to all other Righteousness whatever, either that of ourselves, or of the Law, or whatsoever else that can be called by that Name. This is the Wedding-Garment I hope to stand in before my Father's Face in that great Day. I totally renounce and disclaim all other Things.
7. And God has manifested forth his Glory in all this, that he may be just, and the Justifier of him that believeth in his Son JESUS CHRIST. And by this he has declared his Love and Good-will to Mankind; that he has found out a Way to save lost Sinners, not by our Righteousness, but by his own Righteousness, and has manifested Justice and Mercy, and made them embrace each other in our Salvation. And thus it appears, that CHRIST is the only Procurer of the whole of this Salvation, that we may glory in the Lord alone, and boast only in him.
Santification is that holy Disposition of Soul that is wrought in the justified Sinner by the Holy Spirit, whereby his Heart and Affections are sanctified and separated from the World, and Things of the World, and his only Holiness and Happiness are from his dwelling in JESUS CHRIST, and having him the one Object of all his Desires and Delights, or CHRIST formed in the Heart by Faith; and showing forth there both the Power of his Death and Resurrection; whereby we are united to Christ, and so made Partakers of his SPIRIT, as to be truly one with him, as our natural Corruption was originally in and received from the old Adam, so our new Nature or Regeneration, is all in CHRIST JESUS, and derived from him. It is not any Thing that we can obtain by any Practice or Dispositions, by walking in any Way of Righteousness, but what we must receive from CHRIST; being completely wrought out by, and treasured up in him for us. And it is not received as we might receive a Present from a Friend that is at a Distance from us, but by our Union with him through Faith. And by being in Fellowship with him, we are Partakers of that holy Frame of Nature, and of that Spirit that was originally in him. And what is required ofthe Sinner, is not to find or frame Santification in his own Heart, but to receive it out of CHRIST's Fulness by our being in CHRIST, and having CHRIST in us; and that not merely by his universal Presence, as being GOD, but by such a close Union as that we are one Spirit, and one Flesh, with him : One Spirit with him, as having received his Spirit; one Flesh with him, as his having taken our Flesh upon himself.
That this Holiness or Santification, when imparted, does not become inherent, or our own (as Adam's was in Paradise) but as the Sun is the Light and Life of this natural, so is CHRIST JESUS of the spiritual World; for it is only the Shining of his Spirit upon the Soul, that makes it friutful to every good Word and Work. Should he withdraw himself but for a Moment, we should be again involved in all our former Misery and Weakness, being as unable to stand against Sin, without that Union, as we should be to see without Light, or live without breathing. All that we have must come flowing afresh from him every Moment : So that there is no more Merit in the Sinner, as of himself, when he is made meet for Heaven, than when he was in his Sins. And as the Eye is prepared to receive the Light, and the Mouth to receive the Air, so Faith is the Instrument of receiving CHRIST JESUS into the Heart. And if the outward Light and Air were cut off, we could just as well see and breath, as we can live to GOD without that Fellowship which we have with CHRIST by Faith : And it is by that continued Union with him we are built up, until we become young Men and Fathers in CHRIST JESUS.
And Sanctification, as well as Justification, is all in CHRIST JESUS, and is to be continually received by Faith in him, as the Soul's Wants and Necessities require. And after all the Grace it has received, were the Light and Life of CHRIST JESUS, his Merits and Righteousness to be withdrawn, the Soul would be as dead and lifeless as ever.
I only desire my Portion below may be Grace always to depend upon JESUS CHRIST, his Merits and Righteousness alone, that his Will may be my Sanctification, and to renounce all other Righteousness whatever : And to say with the Church of God, In the LORD JESUS have I Righteousness and Strength: And in the LORD shall all Seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.
The Way by which God works upon the Soul is often mysterious, and in diverse Manners, according to his own good Will and Pleasure; and as the Case requires, either instantaneously or progressively. And though the Experiences of the Children of God may in various Circumstances differ one from another, yet they are substantially the same; all being convinced of the Evil of Sin, and their Danger, are glad to flee to JESUS CHRIST as their Refuge and Savior; and being Partakers of his Grace by Faith, the Work of Sanctification is carried on by the Spirit of GOD in the Soul, and by renewing them more and more after the Image of GOD, they die to Sin, and live to JESUS CHRIST in Righteousness and true Holiness.
But when the Kingdom of Heaven (Grace in the Heart) is first given and received, it is as a Grain of Mustard-Seed : In that State it is often very much attended with Doubts and Fears; but when it is grown up, and Faith and Love are increased, their Fears are lessened. But when Love is grown to that Degree that has cast off all Fear that has Torment, St.John calls it perfect Love : Then it is come to that Unity and Assurance of Faith, that it is delivered from all Fear
We may also observe, that Justification and Sanctification are Blessings that cannot be separated. And as Justification is GOD's ingraffing the wild Olive-Branch, the Sinner, into the heavenly Root JESUS CHRIST; so Sanctification is its taking Root downward and growing upward into a Likeness to CHRIST JESUS our living Head. And all that the Soul can enjoy of CHRIST must be by its abiding in him, as the Branch in the Vine. And as the Building cannot stand, but as it stands on the Foundation: nor the Child grow to the State of Manhood, without keeping the same Life that it brought into the World; neither can the Sinner grow up towards his heavenly Inheritance, but as he abides and increases in that spiritual Life that he received when he was first taken into the New Covenant; in which Covenant GOD has promised to remember our Sins and our Iniquities no more.
And as in this Covenant God will look upon us no more as Sinners under Condemnation, but as Sinners taken into his Favour; and all that is due to the Head of this New Covenant JESUS CHRIST is accounted ours, and we are Partakers of his Grace here by Faith, as an Earnest of his Glory in the World to come. He has also promised to teach us the Way of Righteousness, and to reveal unto us the Mystery of his Kingdom, and the Secrets of his Love. But these Things which are so highly prized in the Sight of GOD are only known and enjoyed by those who are truly and really in CHRIST and CHRIST in them. And while their Fellowship and Communion with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is continued, and the Soul sees that God has made JESUS CHRIST Wisdom and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption to it, some of the blessed Effects thereof are a Deliverance from the Love of the World, and the Things of the World; from the Lust of the Flesh, and the Evil thereof. And the Soul is also blessed with a Delight in the Enjoyment of GOD through CHRIST JESUS, and is humbled thereby before the LORD to the very Dust, while it sees itself unworthy of the least of his Mercies. And the Heart is also filled with a keen Sense of its own Sinfulness, Foolishness, Wretchedness, and Emptiness of all Good, and full of all Evil in our natural Selves, and clearly seeing, that if CHRIST was to withdraw what he had given, all these Evils would be found in the greatest Saint living on the Earth. Out of CHRIST, without his Merits and Righteousness, we are foolish, wretched, miserable, sinful Creatures : And consequently all the Good that is in us is CHRIST alone, not Ourselves, nor of Ourselves. And this tends also to beget in us such a Hungering and Thirsting of the Soul after Righteousness, after JESUS CHRIST, and after more and greater Degrees of Fellowship and Oneness of Heart with him, that it makes all that it has in Possession to appear as Nothing, and shows the Sinner what a poor, weak, helpless, sinful Worm he is; and is filled with Shame before JESUS CHRIST, that he has so little Love to him, after all the Tokens of Love he has received from him. All his past Experience only tends to shew him how poor and vile he is, and he sees by what little Knowledge he has, that he hardly knows any Thing yet as he ought to know, and wants to learn every Day that all his Dependence must be upon JESUS CHRIST alone, and not upon any past Experiences, which will neither afford him Life nor Love, but the chief End and only Object of his Delight is JESUS CHRIST. And all other Things in his Presense are lost, as the most shining Stars disappear in the Brightness of the Sun. To know that we know him as our GOD, our Savior, our great High Priest, our Friend, our All in All, is all which is necessary for us to know; this will supply the Want of all other Things; and the more we know of him, the more we shall hunger and thirst after him.
This longing, and going out of the Soul after JESUS CHRIST, as the Hart panteth after the Water-Brooks, will make the Believer, by Faith, overcome the World, the Flesh and the Devil. And while the Soul is thus employed, and pressing towards the Mark for the Prize of the high Calling of God which is in Christ Jesus, some of our Sins that we once delighted in, namely, the World, and the Things of the World, will die and vanish out of our Sight. And others of them, our Corruptions, Unbelief, and other Heart-Plagues, will be overcome with Ease, the Soul having joined itself to the Strength of Israel, will find by daily Experience, that he can conquer all in JESUS' Name, and overcome all by the Blood of the Lamb.
We may observe, that Sanctification, which is begun when the Sinner is justified, cannot be carried on in the Heart without the Soul's going out after JESUS CHRIST, according to its Measure of Faith, any more than our natural Life can exist without breathing in the outward Air. But from following thus after him, it will delight in him as the Head of the New Covenant, and there abide at his Feet, as a poor, blind, helpless Sinner, that has no Dependence but on the Merits and Righteousness of JESUS CHRIST, whose Heaven below is to hear his blessed Voice, and to have Communion with him.
And though the Sinner at Times enjoys great Peace and Assurance, a serene
Joy in the Holy Ghost, and a deep Consciousness that GOD is working all
his Works in and for him, and has a true Taste of the good Word of GOD,
and of the Powers of the World to come, and is so joined to JESUS CHRIST
by Faith, that he has a full Persuasion of the Evidence of Things not seen
and the Substance of Things hoped for. Yet he no more depends upon them
than if the were not, but gladly forgets these and all other Things that
are behind, that he may reach out to CHRIST the delightful Object of his
Soul; that he may more and more be one with him, one Spirit, one Flesh,
one Heart, and one Mind with him, and that he may love him with all the
Powers and Faculties of Body and Soul that he has bestowed upon him. And,
as this Knowledge of HIM increases, it is more and more attended with such
Poverty of Spirit, such abhorring ourselves in Dust and Ashes, and such
a Consciousness of our own Wretchedness and Vileness, and of not deserving
one Grain of Mercy from him either temporal or spiritual, that we shall
gladly ascribe from our Heart all to the Free-Grace of GOD in CHRIST, and
shall always count ourselves less than the least of all his Mercies, and
the most unprofitable Servants.
And now, my dear Reader, for thy own Soul's Sake, and for the Sake of HIM who died for thy Sins, do not dwell upon Speculations, do not be content with a Notion of Religion, do not be satisfied to worship in the outward Court that is to be troden under Foot by the Gentiles, do not be a Follower of the dear REDEEMER afar off : But take Knowledge of this, he receiveth Sinners to this Day, and none but Sinners. If thou seest thou wantest his pardoning Mercy, cry to him, and he will open thine Eyes, and thou shalt see all thy Sins nailed with his Body to the Cross. If thou feelest that thou wantest higher Degrees of Fellowship, and greater Degrees of Communion with him, let thine Eye be fixed upon him, and thy prayer come up before him, and he will supply all thy Wants with his Presence! He will do all for thee and in thee that thou standest in need of. But when thou comest to him, come as a poor, blind, helpless, sinful Creature, or thou canst not receive any Thing from him, and come relying by Faith on the Promises. Abraham considered not the Deadness of his own Body, nor all other Things that seemed to make against the Promise, but believed GOD, and therefore it was imputed to him for Righteousness. Walk thou in his Steps, of believing the Promises of GOD, and all the Merits and Righteousness of JESUS CHRIST shall be imputed to thee also. And St.Paul joyfully declared, "I have kept the Faith." Do as thou art commanded, believe, and keep believing, that thou mayest walk in St.Paul's Steps : Put thy Righteous-Self and thy Sinful-Self out of the Question, and out of thy Sight. Do not look at Thyself : Do not look at thy Leaness : Do not look at thy Short-Comings : Do not look at thine Attainments, or at thy Righteousness either of Heart or Life. All these make up no small Part of that Will-Worship and voluntary Humility St.Paul mentions in Col.ii.18,23. But look with all thy Soul to the lovely JESUS, to the Lamb of God that taketh away the Sins of the World. Look to the God-Man, the dear Redeemer, who hung upon the Cross, and is nearer to thy Spirit, to the believing Soul, than it can easily be conceived; for the Word of Faith is in thy Mouth, and in thy Heart. Do not let any Thing whatsoever turn thine Eye from beholding him, but wait by Faith to see him in all the Beauty of his Grace below, and in all the Glory of his Kingdom above.
But before I conclude, it may be necessary for me to observe, That it is reported of me with great Boldness by some, to this Day, that I both deny the Necessity of the imputed Righteousness of CHRIST, and of walking in all the Ways that he has commanded, namely, such as reading the Word, hearing it preached, private Prayer, watching and praying, receiving the Sacrament, Christian Conversation, etc. and that I also deny the Necessity of living at a Distance from all Sin. I am glad of this Opportunity to declare to all Men, that I believe from my Heart that whoever lives in any of the Things that GOD has forbidden, and in open and constant Neglect of what he has commanded, shall have no Part in his Kingdom of Grace here, nor of his Kingdom of Glory in the World to come. And this I have believed without Variation ever since I began to give myself to CHRIST JESUS, which is now between twenty-five and thirty Years ago. And I humbly hope that what I have said on the Righteousness of CHRIST being imputed to us, may satisfy the Reader : Or, if any should yet remain doubtful, I am willing to give all Satisfaction in my Power by private Conversation.
And as to Sanctification, I suppose all true Believers agree that there
is far more to be done in us than we have hitherto received; and that none
of these Blessings, either of Justificaton or Sanctification, will either
be given or continued to us by CHRIST, unless we walk in the Way of his
Appointment. And though all is to be received by Faith in his Name, yet
it is not the Faith of an Antinomian that gives the Soul any Licence to
live in the Breach of any of his Laws : But that Faith that purifies the
Heart and overcomes the World, and sets the Sinner at the greatest Distance
from Sin, yea the Sin that doth most easily beset him; and also begets
in the Heart such a Love and Delight in JESUS CHRIST, and his Ways, that
it often causes the Soul to cry out, Whom have I in Heaven but thee? and
there is none upon Earth that I desire in Comparison of thee. Then let
us all with one Heart and one Voice, go on to follow him more and more,
and desire to know nothing but JESUS CHRIST, and him crucified. And what
we know not, may he of his infinite Mercy and Grace show to us. And what
we have not, may he give to us for his Name's sake, that we may ascribe
to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, all Glory, and Honour,
and Praise, World without End. Amen.
T H E E N D .
1. *1 One Reason lately assigned by Mr. Wesley to Mr. Whitefield, for his dismissing me, was, "That my holding a Meeting in Snowfield's Chapel, while it was in his Hands, and while I was in Connection with him, (contrary to his Will) was the Cause of my being dismissed." But the Stewards who brought the Message from Mr. Wesley, told me, "If I would not give up my private Meetings
with my Christian Friends, and especially my Fellowship with those that did not belong to his Society; and would not conform to his Rules, I was to preach no more with him. But, if I would comply, Mr. Wesley would receive me, with open Arms." I answered, "I will neither give up my Conscience, nor my Christian Friends." They told me, that I was then to have no more Connection with Mr. Wesley, and that very Evening they sent to Westminster for Mr. Wesley, to preach that Night at the Foundery, in my Place. And thus I understood the Affair, till Mr. Wesley gave the above Account to Mr. Whitefield before me the other Day.
2. *2 About this Time there was an Outcry, publicly and privately, "That a lying Spirit was gone forth." And trueit was; for perhaps a worse has not gone forth from priests and people since Micah's Time, I Kings xxii. 22. And it would be well if he was returned to his own place.
3. *3 Observe, there was not one Pennyworth of Silver belonging to the Sacrament-Table, though Mr.Wesley reported, far and near, that I kept the Sacrament-P L A T E from him! And told the People publicly, that if they received the Sacrament from me, out of these his Things they were Partakers of the Theft, and guilty of SACRILEDGE ! Everyone will see the Reason of his saying this as soon as he reads it.
4. *4 And how Mr. Wesley could lay all this upon me, is strange; who never was in one of their Meetings, but two or three Times at Beach-Lane, and once at Wapping, and that with a Design to keep them within Bounds, and from prophecying. At Wapping Mr. Bell mentioned the Destruction that was to be on the 28th of February. As soon as he had done speaking, I stood up, and set aside all that he had said about it ; and went to the Foundery the next Morning, and told Mr. Wesley what I had done. I was never in any other of their Meetings, either at West-Street-Chapel, Snowsfield-Chapel, Zoar-Chapel, Westminster, or at the Foundery, and often desired him not to open the Chapels, etc. to them. I told him I saw such spiritual Pride in them (as saying, that God had done with all but themselves) that would destroy the Grace they had. And I call all the Congregations to witness, that I never spoke one Word in public in Commendation either of them or their Meetings : But Mr. Wesley has at all his preaching Places in this Town, at Bristol, and at many other Places. But when a Scandal arose, and it was thought our Legislators would take the Thing in Hand, Mr. Wesley could throw it all upon me. But had I continued with him, these Things would never have been placed to my Account. I leave the Reader to judge if this is doing as he would be done unto. For he told Mr. Whitefield when I was present the other Day, that just before I came away from him, he had almost persuaded those few of his People that never were my Friends to think well of me.
5. *5 If this was the Case with me, who had no Reward, but my Labour for my Pains, how must those poor Preachers Consciences be tied and bound, whose Wants and Succours depend altogehter on their Frowns and Smiles ?
6. *6 I have a Letter by me that Mr. Wesley wrote to me with his own Hand, near twelve Months before he turned me away ; wherein he more than half bids me go from him ; as well as calls me by hard
7. *7 But here I would observe, that at the Time when Mr. Wesley began to speak of the Comet in his Preaching, I desired him not to mention it any more ; he told me he should, and accordingly did. I then took Dr. Halley's Treatise on Comets to him, that he might see that the Dr. had not said any Thing about its Appearance. But Dr. Halley nor I had no more Success than I had with Mr. Bell. Now might not Mr. Wesley as well lay the Comet-Enthusiasm upon me, as that ofthe 28th of February? For I have been present when he has published it at the Foundery, at the Chapels, and at Bristol. Indeed I never undertook to gainsay him in public, though I did not believe one Word about it ; but I did oppose Mr. Bell that one Time I heard him mention the 28th of February. But is this any more a Proof that I was the Author or Believer of Mr. Bell's Enthusiasm, because I was present at three or four of their Meetings in my Life, and once when he mentioned it? than that I was the Author or Believer of the Comet Enthusiasm because I was present at all Mr. Wesley's Meetings, for so many Years ; and more than ten Times (at different Places) when he preached about the Comet? But this I can say, that I had some Difficulty with many People, to still their Doubts and Fears that arose from both the Prophecies, that of the Comet, And that of the 28th of February.