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An Apologetical Reply to the slanderous charge given in against
me, to some of the London Ministers, by that malecontent party which schismatically separated from the church in C. whereof I was the then lawful pastor.
The charge was, that I was a man of an independent judgment, a great enemy to Mr. Baxter, declaring that Mr. Baxter is damned in hell; a man who openly declared, that Christ hath but two or three true and faithful ministers, in and about London, who preach Christ in truth; and who bid a public challenge to Mr. Williams, and all the Baxterians, to dispute certain positions held and asserted by Mr. Baxter, and such as go his way; and, to add no more, one who is an universal decryer of all the duties of holiness in a christian's life and conversation, crying out, in the pulpit, Away with your
holiness ! to hell with your duties and personal qualifications !
This charge consists of five branches, or parts, to each of which I will speak as distinctly as I can, and that with as great seriousness and regard to conscience, as if I were to make the present defence at the bar of the Great Judge.
I begin with the first, viz. my being an independent. I have this to say for myself, first, the congregational way of church government is the principle which, according to my present light, I apprehend to be nearest to the platform of gospel churches, planted by the apostles, which, to own
a church way,
and practise, I am fully convinced, is my duty; for which, I humbly hope and charitably believe, none of my brethren of the Presbyterian persuasion dare to censure or blame me, until I can see that I am herein mistaken and out of the way.
Secondly, As touching my judgment herein, I do affirm, and that in truth, God knows I lie not, I honestly and fairly acquainted my now reproachers, what I was in my judgment, as to this very point, when they first discovered an inclination to call me to take the pastoral charge of their souls: about this, they and I had several occasional discourses pro and con. for and against it; and, in conclusion, they, with the rest of the covenanters with God, in
did own themselves fully convinced, that the congregational way of church government was most certainly the way of the gospel; and as such, they freely closed with me. If what I have now asserted be denied, I shall, by authentic testimonies, make the same good to their faces.
I come to the second branch of the charge, viz. my being a great enemy to Mr. Baxter, &c.
In answer whereto, I positively affirm, that I never in my life had any prejudice against Mr. Baxter, save only to dislike and caution
flock against some notions of his, wherein I conceived him to be heterodox in the foundation principle of justification. I told my auditory, as plainly as I could speak, that, in mentioning Mr. Baxter's name, my design was not to meddle in judging him, as touching his eternal state; only what of corrup
tion I found in his books, I judged it my duty to take notice thereof, and to caution my hearers, who had his books, to beware of such notions. And what I did herein, I did it, God and my conscience know, in faithfulness to Christ, and the souls of those committed to my pastoral charge by the great Shepherd of the sheep.
But to say that Mr. Baxter was damned in hell, I abhor the very hearing or thoughts of such a thing; neither dares any one living, except a cauterized and brazen-faced sinner, to charge such a slander on me: so far was I from uttering such an uncharitable, I may say infernal expression, that Į plainly spoke the contrary as my judgment of him, declaring, that I hoped Mr. Baxter was with Christ in glory, and that I dare to think no otherwise. As for what of corruption which is mixed with his writings, I told my auditory, I looked on that as a part of the wood, hay, and stubble, intended by the apostle in 1 Cor. iii. 12, of which Mr. Baxter will, I doubt not, suffer the loss in the great day, though he himself be saved; he holding Christ the foundation firm and stedfast to the end, as in charity I hope he did.
The third branch of the charge is, that I affirmed, that Christ had but two or three right gospel ministers, who preach Christ truly, in and about London.
To this I answer in the negative, viz. that I never thought or spoke such a thing, either in or out of the pulpit, in all my life.
The occasion of this slander was this: I was, in a sermon, bewailing the small number of right gospel preachers; at which time, and on which occasion, I said, that a great many preached up the pope, that ó avhpwos ons diuaprias, that man of sin. Others, said I, preach up the national hierarchy, and its interest, instead of the kingdom of Christ. Others there be, said I, who preach up Moses, and obedience to his Do, and live, in the room of Christ's mediatorial spotless righteousness, for justification and life; so that, in comparison, it is undeniably true, that Christ hath but few who preach him and his immaculate righteousness, as the only merito rious and procuring cause of justification and salvation. This is what I said then, and truly I see but small reason to think or say otherwise. I question not but the orthodox in and about London will readily harmonize with me herein : but that I did limit the true ministers of Christ to any, certain definite number; or that I mentioned any ministers names, by way of distinction, I utterly deny. And I have very good reason to judge it no breach of the law of charity, to believe that the secret design of the reporters hereof, was to incense and provoke the spirits of godly ministers, and their respective congregations, against me.
And hereby to prepare them for a more facile and ready reception of the other black and scandalous reproaches which were to be brought on the stage on purpose to do my business; as one of their confederates was heard to say he would do.
I come to the fourth branch of the charge, which is, that I should bid a public challenge to Mr. Williams, and the rest of Mr. Baxter's followers, to dispute certain positions held and asserted by Mr. Baxter, and those who
way. To which I reply, that this is as true as the rest, and did, I am very sure, proceed from the same lying spirit which coined and forged their other lying stories against me; the design whereof was not only to corroborate that their design in its foundation, but also to draw over Mr. Williams and others, whom they knew to be impatient to hear any opposition given to any notions of Mr. Baxter's, to them; to help and encourage them to break that church whereof themselves were an essential part, and to force my flight from my station in C. to which their own electing voice called me.
The occasion of this slander was thus : I did, one day, in preaching, lay down this position, viz. that an elect sinper is, in effectual calling, freely justified from all charge of sin, both original and actual, by the alone mediatorial righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, freely imputed by God; and that without any regard had to any conditions
performed by, or qualifications inhering in, the person of the sinner, as con-causes with Christ in justification. This, "said I, is a truth so clearly laid down and asserted in the gospel, and so backed with the witness of God's spirit in the hearts of all assured believers, that all the disputers in the world, who oppose the same, will never be able to overthrow it,