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LETTER XVI.

WHEREIN SOME ANTINOMIAN ABUSES OF THE DOCTRINE OF BELIEVERs' UNION TO CHRIST, OR PLEAS FROM IT Fort LICENTIOUSNESS AND SECURITY IN SINNING, ARE congid ERED AND OBVIATED.

SIR, ALLow me the freedom to tell you, that the consequences you draw from the doctrine of our union to Christ, as I have represented it, are without any foundation; and that a just view of the case must convince you, that this doctrine gives no “advantage to licentious and latitudinarian principles,” but the direct contrary. I shall therefore endeavour, according to your desire, to consider the antinomian principles you are pleased to propose, and see whether they “naturally follow from what I taught in my last.”

“You do not see” you tell me, “if the principles I teach are allowed, how the antinomians can be charged with error, in supposing that the true believer has no CauSe to o of his sins, or to entertain any disquietment of mind with respect to them, since he is united to Christ, and all his sins are charged to Christ's account, whereby he has satisfied for them all. Why, therefore, should the believer be concerned about a debt which is fully discharged? Justice is satisfied with respect to him; Christ delights in him, as a member of his own body; the Spirit of God dwells in him, notwithstanding any of his sins and imperfections. Why may he not therefore be perfectly easy with respect to o o look upon it (as a

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modern antinomian expresses himself) unworthy of our least regards?” To this I answer, 1. That no man, who is practically conformed to this antinomian principle, can know himself to be a believer; and therefore there can be no foundation for this reasoning, in any person whatsoever. Were your arguing allowed to be just, it can take place with none but those who have infallible evidence of their union to Christ; which it is impossible any man should have, who is not burdened with his sins, who does not hate them, and groan after deliverance from them. Repentance is the genuine and necessary fruit of a true faith. “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn,” Zech. xii. 10. “That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God,” Ezek. xvi. 63. “And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations,” Ezek. xxxvi. 28. 31. It is the true believer, and he only, that is capable aright to mourn for sin, truly to hate it, and to groan under the burden of it. Unbelievers may mourn under a sense of their guilt and danger, but this is not to repent of sin. It is the believer only who sorrows for sin as sin; who hates all sin; who groans, being burdened, from a sense of his sinfulness; and who cries out, with the apostle, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’” What room can there then be for those licentious conclusions you speak of 2 Who is the person that can thus rock his conscience to sleep, under the prevalence of his lusts, from the doctrine of our union to Christ, as I have described it? Must it be supposed to be one who is united to Christ, or one who is not united to Christ? Surely not the former; for how can he be indolent, careless, and secure, in the commission of sin, from the doctrine of our union to Christ, who has no evidence of this being his case; nor can have any such evidence, till he is poor in spirit, and is thereby qualified for the kingdom of heaven, Matt. v. 3; till he is one that mourns for his sins, and comes under the promise of comfort, verse 4; and until he is of a contrite and humble spirit; for with such, and only with such, has the high and lofty One, who inhabits eternity, promised to dwell? Isa. lvii. 15. And I think I need not endeavour to prove, that he, who is not united to Christ, has no shadow of a plea or pretence to make for carelessness and security in sin, from the doctrine before us. Whence it follows, that all pretences of this kind are without any rational foundation. They only proceed from men's delight in sin, in a life of sensual ease and carnal security, and not at all from the precious truth before us. This sacred truth may indeed be perverted and abused; and so may all the other doctrines of the gospel, 2 Pet. iii. 16. But they who thus turn the grace of God into wantonness, do it at the peril of their souls, and will find but little comfort in it, when they come to make up their accounts. Whatever extravagant pretences men's licentious dispositions may prompt them to, they must, in the conclusion, find it true, that a life of continued repentance for sin, a life of continued self-abasement and self-judging, and a life of repeated and renewed mourning after pardon of, and victory over our remaining corruptions, is a necessary fruit and evidence of our union to Christ; and belongs to the way which leadeth to life eternal, and in which the saints walk to heaven. If therefore we would not too late be found with a lie in our right hand, we must, with Daniel, ray to the Lord, and make our confession, Dan. ix.4. W. must, with the church, acknowledge ourselves as an unclean thing, Isa. lxiv. 6. We must, with Job, even abhor ourselves, and repent in dust and ashes, Job xlii. 6. We must, with Ephraim, bemoan ourselves, Jer. xxxi. 18. And with David, have our hearts fail us, on account of the number and aggravations of our sins, Psa. xl. 12. For these are the characters, these are the dispositions of such who are indeed united to Christ. 2. There is greater guilt in the sins of believers than in the sins of others. They have therefore greater cause to be humbled for them, and to lament them before God. They are indeed united to Christ, reconciled to God, freed from all condemnation, and made heirs according to the hope of eternal life; the satisfying evidences of which blessed state must carry them above any tormenting fears of hell and eternal perdition, and deliver them from that legal repentance, which is the product of desponding thoughts, and a fear of amazement. But is there no other motive to repentance but slavish fears of hell? Does not a true repentance, and a genuine sorrow for sin, always flow from an affecting sense of the contrariety of sin to the nature and will of God; from a sense of the ingratitude there is in sin, to a bountiful Benefactor and a compassionate Saviour; and from a sense of the dishonour to God's name, the violation of his law, the abuse of his mercy and love, the affront and provocation to his Holy Spirit, the distance procured between God and us, and the prejudice to others, as well as to our own souls, occasioned by our sinning against God? Now, in all these respects, the sins of believers are more aggravated than the sins of other men. They are distinguished from the most of the world, by renewing and saving grace; and must it not cut them to the heart, to think of their vile ingratitude to such an infinitely kind and beneficent Friend, and of their horrid abuse of such ummerited mercy and love? They are united to Christ, washed in his precious blood, and justified by his righteousness; and can they be content to load him with indignities, who has not thought his own blood too dear a ransom for their souls; and who has, by the power of his grace, plucked them out of the guilt and danger of a perishing world, and made them heirs of the eternal inheritance? They have felt the Divine influences and consolations of the blessed Spirit, and have tasted that the Lord is gracious; and shall they, by their sins, grieve the Spirit of God, provoke him to withdraw, and to withhold his quickening and comforting influences from them? They are the friends and children of God, the sworn subjects of the Eternal Majesty; yea, even the spouse of Jesus Christ; and shall such make little account of sin 2 Is this thy kindness to thy friend? Is it a light thing for a child to rebel against his compassionate father; for a subject to take up arms against his prince; or for a wife to violate her marriage vows? Certainly the sins of believers are aggravated, in proportion to the various obligations they are under; and though they have no cause of desponding and discouraging fears, they have the greatest cause to groan under the burden of their sins, and to long after deliverance from them. Their union to Christ is so far from extenuating their sins, that it renders them more heinous in the sight of God; and is the strongest reason why they should watch against them, lament and hate them. For this reason, God may justly expostulate with them upon

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