The Works of Augustus Toplady — Vol. 3.









VOL 3.


Contents of Vol. III.

Vol. 3.—Page 467.—Speech.—“Whether our good works will add to our degree of future glory?”

posted 14 May 2014, 17:10 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 14 May 2014, 17:10 ]



At the Queen’s Arms, Newgate-Street,

on the Following Question:

“Whether our good works will add to our degree of future glory?”

Mr. President,

From what I have the pleasure to know of the worthy gentleman, who is the father of the question, I have too great an opinion of his good sense, and of the deference he pays to divine revelation, to suppose he believes there is any soil of merit in human works. I dare say no person here need be acquainted, that to merit, properly signifies to earn; and, originally, the word was applied to soldiers, and other military persons, who, by their labours in the field, and by the various hardships they frequently underwent during the course of a campaign, as also by other services they might occasionally render to the commonwealth, were said merere stipendia, to merit, or earn their pay: which they might properly be said to do, because they yielded, in real service, an equivalent to the state, for the stipend they received; which was therefore due to them in justice. Hence I apprehend, we come at the true meaning of the word merit; from this view of the point, I think it is very clear, in the very nature of things, exclusive of scripture, that there can be no such thing as merit in our best obedience. One man may merit of another; but all mankind together cannot merit from the hand of God. If we advert to revelation, nothing can be [[468]] clearer than this important truth. Salvation, in all its various branches, is expressly declared to he “not of works,” and elsewhere “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us:” for which one of the reasons assigned is, “lest any man should boast:” which he would surely, and might justly do, if his works were meritorious of divine acceptance, could justify him in the sight of God, and entitle him to heaven. The law will admit of no righteousness, as a sufficient ground of justification, but such, and such a righteousness only, as in every respect whatever, and from first to last, comes up to the standard of that law: which no human righteousness, since the primitive transgression of Adam, ever did come up to, or ever will. Hence it follows, that all men being sinners, and of consequence not having a perfect righteousness to bring, cither the whole human race must be condemned, or those who are saved must be saved by a righteousness out of themselves, and to he had from another. Who this other is, in virtue of whose complete obedience the church of his elect are justified from all things, the scripture plainly declares, when it tells us, that “Christ is the end of the law, for righteousness, to every one that believes:” that the same blessed person, “who knew no sin, was made sin,” that is, a sin-bearer and a sin-offering, “for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him:” and, to mention no more passages, that, “as, by the disobedience of one, many were made, or constituted sinners; so, by the obedience of one, shall many be made and constituted righteous.” If, then, we are justified by the alone imputation of Christ’s righteousness, it more evidently follows, that good works on our part, are in no sense, meritorious of heaven: neither as causes, nor conditions; for, however plausible and innocent the word condition may sound; a condition is no more than a softer name for cause; [[409]] as being something, on account of which, something-else is given or done. And that works can he neither causes, nor (which amounts to the same thing) conditions of justification, is clear; because the performance of a condition necessarily precedes the reception of a benefit suspended on that condition; whereas, good works (and works are then only evangelically good, which proceed from the united principles of faith in Christ and love to God, which faith and love are the fruits of grace previously bestowed) do not go before, but follow after justification, which is the express doctrine both of scripture, and of the church of England, in her 12th and 13th articles, and throughout the whole book of homilies. Therefore, to put good works before justification, is making the effect prior to the cause; and representing the fountain as flowing from the stream, instead of deducing the stream from the fountain. I shall only add one observation more, on the head of merit. Whoever believes the scriptures, must admit, that whatever good is either wrought in man, or done by him, is the fruit of God’s effectual grace. Was it otherwise, it would follow, that God is not the source of all good: but that men. may be good, independently of the Creator; and of consequence, that there are some good and perfect gifts, which do not descend from the Father of lights. How rational this is in itself, and how honourable to the Deity, must be left to the judgment of those gentlemen, who think fit to depart from the doctrines of the Reformation, by espousing the system of Arminius. If therefore, the good we are enabled to do, is done in the strength of divine grace; it follows, not that the Deity is indebted to us, but that we are unspeakably indebted to him, for working in us both to will and to do the things that are well pleasing in his sight. “Are good works then, and moral obedience, unnecessary?” Quite the reverse. They are of indispensible necessity. They must and will be [[470]] wrought, by all who are born from above. They are the evidences of faith, and the necessary consequences of justification. Believe in Christ for justification, and lead a bad life if you can. It is impossible. They that are of God, will do the works of God.

I have been perhaps tedious; but what is said has a close connection with the question before us; which is, “Whether our good works, &c.” Here, I think, is room for a distinction. I am of opinion, that good works, extensive usefulness, and eminent sufferings for Christ, will in one respect, be followed by a proportionable degree of glory; and, in another, not. I am one of those old-fashioned people, Mr. President, who believe the doctrine of the millennium: and that there will be two distinct resurrections of the dead: 1st. of the just; and 2dly. of the unjust; which last resurrection, of the reprobate, will not commence till a thousand years after the resurrection of the elect. In this glorious interval of one thousand years, Christ, I apprehend, will reign in person over the kingdom of the just: and that during this dispensation, different degrees of glory will obtain; and “every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour.” This reward, though temporary, will surely be more than equivalent to any thing we can be enabled to do or suffer for God, during the short span of our present life. And yet, though the reward will vastly transcend the work; still, between temporal obedience, and this temporal recompence, there is some little proportion: whereas, between temporal obedience, and the eternal weight of glory, there is no proportion at all. And to me it seems very clear, that, whatever difference of bliss and honorary distinctions may obtain during the millenniary state; I am inclined to think, both by scripture and reason, that in the heavenly glory which will immediately succeed the other, all the saints will he exalted to an equality of happiness, and crowned alike, In the [[471]] course of the present argument, I have been forced to take the doctrine of the millennium for granted: time not allowing me to even intimate an hundredth part of the proof by which it is supported. I would only observe, to those who have not considered that subject, that it would be prudent in them to suspend their judgment about it, and not be too quick in determining against it, merely because it seems to be out of the common road. As doctrines of this kind should not be admitted hastily, so they should not be rejected prematurely. Upon the whole, I give it as my opinion,” that the reward of the saints, during the personal reign of Christ upon earth, will be greater or less in proportion to their respective labours, sufferings, and attainments: but that, seeing they are loved alike, with one and the same everlasting love of God the Father; that their names are in one and the same book of life; that they are all justified by the same perfect righteousness of Christ, redeemed and washed from all their sins in the blood of the same Saviour, regenerated by the same Spirit, made partakers of like precious faith, and will in the article of death be perfectly (and, of course, equally) sanctified by divine grace; for these, and other reasons that might be mentioned, I am clearly of opinion, that, in the state of ultimate glory, they will be on a perfectly equal footing with regard to final blessedness, both as to its nature and degree; and, as the parable expresses it, “receive every man his penny.”

Vol. 3.—Page 459.—Speech.—“Whether unnecessary cruelty to the Brute creation is not criminal?”

posted 14 May 2014, 17:08 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 14 May 2014, 17:12 ]



At the Queen’s Arms, Newgate-Street,

on the Following Question;

“Whether unnecessary cruelty to the Brute creation is not criminal?”

Mr. President,

The humane tendency of the question reflects great honour on the benevolence of the gentleman who proposed it; and the manner in which it has been discussed, since I came into the room, does equal credit to the gentlemen who have spoke to it. However, I must own my dissent, in some particulars, from the worthy gentleman who gave his sentiments last: and, as he thought proper to make very free with the gentleman who spoke before him, I hope he will excuse me, if I make modestly free with him. And though the observation, I intend to animadvert upon, was rather a deviation from the question; yet I shall follow him in the deviation, for a while: and the more willingly, as it may conduce, indirectly, to throw some light on the subject now under debate.

That gentleman asserted, peremptorily and absolutely, that “All things whatever, in and upon the terraqueous globe, were created purely and solely for the service of man.” Such an opinion may serve to gratify our vanity and sooth our pride: but, how far it is founded on reality, will appear from examining into matter of fact.

[[460]] We will suppose, that a ship, on a foreign voyage, drops anchor on a foreign coast. A poor sailor takes the opportunity of bathing in the sea. An hungry shark either scents or descries him; darts forward to the unhappy victim; snaps him in two, and swallows him at a couple of mouthfuls. I would ask; was the shark made for the use of that man? or was that man made for the use of the shark? So long, therefore, as there are not only useless creatures in the world, (useless, as to us, though they doubtless answer some valuable purpose in the great scheme of creation (but creatures apparently noxious, and fatal, sometimes, to our very lives; so long, I think, if demonstration carries any conviction, we must grant that there are some creatures not made for the service of men. But, to omit sharks, rattlesnakes, and crocodiles, let us descend to creatures of much lower class. Will that gentleman seriously say, for instance, that London bugs, fleas, and some other reptiles I could mention, are made for human benefit? Ask any mendicant in the streets, what he thinks; he will tell you, that they seem rather made to tire our patience, and to mortify our pride. I allow, indeed, that man is the centre, in which the generality of created good may be said to terminate: for winch we ought to be thankful to the most wise and gracious Creator of all things. But then it is, to me, equally evident, that the same adorable being consulted, and does consult, the happiness of every individual creature to which he has given life: else why such various, and so admirably adapted accommodations for their respective provision and welfare.

I now come directly to the question; and, without hesitation, or limitation, deliver it as my steadfast belief that all wanton exercise of power over, and all unnecessary cruelty to, the brute creation, is truly arid properly criminal. Several good reasons have been urged, in proof of this, by some gentlemen [[461]] who spoke before me: but I own, there is one argument, which has more weight with me than all that have been yet offered, and which I wonder no gentlemen has hitherto mentioned. I firmly believe, that beasts have souls; souls, truly and properly so called: which, if true, entitles them, not only to all due tenderness, but even to a higher degree of respect than is usually shown them.

I lay down two things, Mr. President, as data: 1. that mere matter is incapable of thinking; and, 2. that there is no medium between matter and spirit.

That brutes think, can hardly, I imagine, be questioned by any thinking man. Their not being-able to carry their speculations so high as we do, is no objection to their cogitability. Even among men, some are more able reasoners than others. And we might perhaps, reason no better than the meanest animal that breathes, if our souls were shut up in bodies, no better organized than theirs. Nay, brutes not only think when they are awake, and their senses are in full exercise; but they frequently think, even in their sleep. A dog, as he lies extended by the fireside, will sometimes show, by the whining noise he makes, and by the catching motion of his feet, that he is enjoying an imaginary chace in a dream. A eat, dissolved in sleep, will often by various starts and agitation, convince any unprejudiced observer, that she fancies her prey full in view, and is preparing to seize it. I remember a cat of my own, who one evening enjoyed, for five or eight minutes, this pleasing illusion: until at last, her eagerness, agitation of spirits, and a spring she endeavoured to make, awoke her from her golden dream: upon which she showed as much concern and disappointment, as she could discover by disconsolate mewing. Now, there can be no imagination without thought: nay, these two are, perhaps, in fact, things synonymous: nor can there be thought, without some degree of reason: and that [[462]] which reasons, must be something superior to matter, however modified, and essentially different from it. I have not time to enter deep into the subject. I cannot, however, help giving it as my judgment, that, before a man can, coolly and deliberately, deny rationality to brutes, be must have renounced his own. And why that noble faculty, which, pro gradu, produces similar effects in us and them, should be called by a different name in them and us, I own myself quite at a loss to determine. If I can at all account for it, the pride of man is the only reason I am able to assign. We are, right or wrong, for monopolizing every excellence to ourselves, and for allowing little or none to other animals is forgetting, that inferior animals are not only our fellow-creatures, but (if it may be said without offence) our elder brethren: for their creation was previous to ours.—If, then, brutes reason; that in them which docs reason, must be spirit, or an immaterial principle: which principle, being immaterial, must be perfectly simple and uncompounded: if perfectly simple, it must be, in its own nature, incorruptible; and, if incorruptible, immortal. And I will honestly confess, that I never yet heard one single argument urged against the immortality of brutes; which, if admitted, would not, mutatis mutandis, be equally conclusive against the immortality of man.

What I have offered, may seem strange and surprising to those who have not viewed the subject on both sides of it. It would have seemed strange to myself, a few years ago.

I accounted for all the internal and external operations of brutes, upon the principles of mechanism. But I was soon driven from this absurdity, by dint of evidence. Was a cat a mere machine, she could not distinguish a mouse from a kitten; but would be equally indifferent to both. Was a dog a mere machine, he would not distinguish his master from a rabbit: much less would be pursue the latter, and [[463]] caress the former: any more than a clock can know its owner, or one statue can limit another.—I next had recourse to instinct. But I soon found, upon careful examination, that this is a mere term without an idea: a name, for we know not what: and he that would distinguish between instinct and reason (for, if instinct has any meaning at all, it must signify reason), must first find a medium between matter and spirit. But I am rather for expunging the word quite, as a term, which, in its present application at least, signifies just nothing: and, like all such unmeaning terms, either conduces to no end; or, at least, to a very bad one, as only tending to confuse and embarrass, and “darken counsel by words without knowledge.” By the way, this is not the only word, which, was I to unite an expurgatory index to our language, I would utterly proscribe. But, whatever I retain, chance, fortune, luck, and instinct, should have no quarter; because they are wells without water; terms without ideas; and words are only so far valuable, as they are the vehicles of meaning.

I cannot wholly dismiss the subject, without observing another particular, in favour of the spirituality of brutes: namely, what is commonly the facultas locomotiva, or power of voluntary motion from place to place. Motion itself, simply considered, is not always an indication of an intelligent agent within: but voluntary motion is, and must be such in the very nature of things. An inanimate body, set in motion by some exterior cause, would, as is universally allowed, go on, in a strait line, ad infinitum, if not obstructed in its course by the air or some other intervening body. All involuntary motion, therefore, being necessarily, and in its own nature, rectilinear; and the motions of beasts not being necessarily rectilinear, but in all directions, and in any direction, as occasion requires (for they, in their way, act as much pro re natà as we can do); it [[464]] follows, that every beast has something within, which judges, consults, and directs; which, as it cannot possibly be material, must be spiritual. If a dog was running, from this end of the room to the other, and one of the gentlemen, by the opposite chimney-piece was to stand up in a menacing posture, the animal would immediately cease to proceed in a right line, because he would know that would be the wrong one for his safety; he would turn back, and, if possible, escape at the door. What is this, but practical reason? and excellence, by the bye, in which many of those creatures surpass the generality of mankind. The language of such conduct is apparently this: “If I go forward, danger is before me: if I return, or go another way, I may, probably, escape this danger: ergo, I will do the latter.” Could we ourselves in similar circumstances, argue more justly, or act more wisely? From which, I conclude, that, as there is evidently something in every living creature, which discerns what is good, and puts him upon pursuing it; which likewise points out what is pernicious, and puts him upon avoiding; this discerning, reasoning, inclining principle must be essentially different from the mechanic system it actuates, and can be no other, in plain English, than an intelligent soul. Should it be objected, that “this intelligent principle docs not always produce these beneficial effects, witness the case of a dog who swallows poison under the apprehension of a dainty;” I answer, man himself is liable to deceptions of a similar kind. Yet he would be a disgrace to the name of man, who should, upon this account, question either the immateriality or immortality of his own soul.

I pay, likewise, great attention to another consideration. That beasts are possessed of the five senses we value ourselves upon (though, perhaps, after all, every one of those senses may, in reality, be reducible to one, via. feeling), in as great, and [[465]] sometimes much greater perfection than we; is a principle which I look upon as incontestable. Brutes are, if experience (which is practical demonstration) carries any authority, as sensible of pain and pleasure, as man. Rub a cat’s head and she will purr; pinch her tail, and she will spit. Now I would ask, what is it that feels? The body, the flesh, the blood, the nerves? No: for a dead animal has all these, and yet feels not. It is the soul, Mr. President, that feels and perceives, through the medium of the senses: for, what are the senses; but channels of conveyance, and a sort of mediators between outward objects and the mind? In what way matter acts upon spirit, is unknown: but that it does so, every day’s experience proves.

Memory likewise belongs to brutes. Memory is the power of recalling past ideas, and of recollecting past events. The person who denies that beasts remember, must either be a man of no observation, or have a very bad memory himself. Now there can be no memory without ideas: no ideas, without thinking (for, the forming, the comparison, and the combination of ideas are thought): no thinking, without some degree of reasoning: and no reasoning, without a reasonable soul. There may be thought, without memory: but memory there can be none, without thought. And the passions likewise are as strong in them, as in us.

On the whole, needless cruelty to beasts is highly criminal. Especially if we take in these two additional observations; 1. that the same Deity, who has made them what they are, might have made us what they arc: i.e. he might have imprisoned our spirits in their bodies, had it been his pleasure. And though I look upon the Pythagorean doctrine of transmigration to be in itself both groundless and absurd; yet its tendency was certainly a very good one, as it necessarily induced men to be tender of the lives and happiness, the being and the well-being of [[466]] the animal creation. 2. As another very cogent motive to this benevolence of disposition and behaviour, let us never forget, that all the miseries and hardships under which the brute creation labour, together with mortality itself to which they are liable, are primarily owing to the sin of man: which reflection must influence every considerate and truly ingenious mind, to treat them with the greatest lenity upon that very account. Nor can I omit just mentioning an argument, which may be deduced from the care of providence. If God hath respect to the meanest of his creatures, and despises not the workmanship of his own hands; let us, whose supreme glory it is to resemble deity, imitate him in these amiable and graceful views. As Dr. Young truly and nobly observes, “There is not a fly, but infinite wisdom is concerned both in its structure and its destination.” How dare we then be destroyers of their ease, which we ought to promote; or wantonly deprive them of that life, which we cannot restore?

Vol. 3.—Page 456.—Speech.—“Whether the world is to be destroyed, and what are the approaching symptoms of its dissolution?”

posted 14 May 2014, 17:07 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 14 May 2014, 17:11 ]


Delivered at the Queen’s Arms, Newgate-Street, on the following Question:

“Whether the world is to be destroyed, and what are the approaching symptoms of its dissolution?

Mr. President,

“When this question was debated at a former meeting, an ingenious gentleman then present observed, very truly, that the decision of it in this assembly, depends entirely on the principles of the respective speakers. Every person here, either believes revelation, or not. Those who, unhappily, reject that divine light, cannot possibly come to any degree of certainty, as to the enquiry, now depending: to them, there is a wide field left open, of conjecture ad infinitum: they may, to their Jives end, blunder on in the dark; and debate how the world is to he destroyed, whether by water, an universal earthquake, &c. or even whether it will ever he destroyed at all. But to them who believe the scripture, the point is quite plain and clear. The Bible cuts short the matter at once, and leaves no room for doubt. We are there positively told, that the terraqueous globe will be destroyed, and destroyed by fire. “The earth, and all the. works that are therein, shall be burnt up:” and again, “the heavens and the earth, which now are, are kept in store, and reserved unto fire:” meaning the globe on which we live, and the atmosphere that surrounds it equally every way. These, the same inestimable book [[457]] informs us, will not he so destroyed, as to he either annihilated, or rendered unfit, for subsequent habitation: but so destroyed, as to rise (like the fabled phoenix) from its ashes, and become eventually such as it was at its first creation, before moral evil entered, and ever natural evil took place. As to the manner in which this great event is to he effected, revelation, so far as I can perceive, has not discovered. Whether it will be by God’s omnipotently counteracting the centrifugal power of the earth, by which it is at present kept at a due distance from the sun; or by the fall of one or more of the heavenly bodies, which may kindle the earth in their passage; or by the approximation of a comet; or, which seems most probable to me, by the bursting forth of the subterraneous fire, which is justly believed to he imprisoned within the cavities of the earth, near the centre, and which is supposed to act in concert with the sun-beams in temperating the coldness of the air, and occasioning the fruitfulness of the earth; but which probably continues, insensibly, to increase with time, and will at the destined season, burst the womb in which it is confined, and render the whole earth and sea one undistinguished mass of fluid fire.

I come now to the other branch of the question, respecting the approaching symptoms, which will precede this general dissolution. As to those recorded in the xxivth of St. Matthew, and in the xxist of St. Luke, the signs, prelusive to the destruction of Jerusalem, are so blended and interwoven with those that shall introduce Christ’s second coming; and it requires so large an induction of historical particulars, as well as so much caution and critical exactness to assign each circumstance to its respective period of accomplishment; that I shall not (as a very worthy gentleman has ventured to do) repeat any of the symptoms predicted in those two chapters; but confine myself to one or two plain and [[458]] express signals, mentioned in other parts of holy writ. 1. The utter abolition and destruction of both the eastern and western antichrist, will prepare the way for Christ’s appearance, and the world’s dissolution. This yet remains to be effected; but will most surely he brought about, in God’s appointed time. And the people of God, who shall be alive at that period, may, when they see the total extermination of Mahometanism and Popery, lift up their heads with joy, knowing that the Judge is at the door, and that their redemption draweth nigh. 2. The calling in of the Jews, when a nation shall be born in a day, and they shall unanimously believe in him whom their fathers have pierced; will be another event, preparatory to the consummation of all things. So will, 3. the universal conversion of the whole Gentile world; when Christ will take all the heathen as the right of his inheritance.

Vol. 3.—Page 452.—Thoughts on the Assurance of Faith.

posted 14 May 2014, 17:05 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 14 May 2014, 17:05 ]

Thoughts on the Assurance of Faith.

The deep things, which relate to persona] experience of the holy Spirit’s dealing with the soul, ought to be matters of prayer, not of disputation.

It has long been a settled point with me, that the scriptures make a wide distinction, between faith, the assurance of faith, and the full assurance of faith.

1. Faith is the hand, by which we embrace, or touch, or reach toward, the garment of Christ’s righteousness, for our own justification.—Such a soul is, undoubtedly, safe.

2. Assurance I consider as the ring, which God puts upon faith’s finger.—Such a soul is not only safe, but also comfortable, and happy.

Nevertheless, as a ringer may exist, without wearing a ring; so faith may be real, without the superadded gift of assurance. We must cither admit this, or set down the late excellent Sir. Hervey (among a multitude of others) for an unbeliever. No man perhaps ever contended more earnestly, for the doctrine of assurance, than he; and yet, I find him expressly declaring as follows: “What I wrote concerning a firm faith in God’s most precious promises, and an humble trust that we are the objects of his tender love; is what I desire to feel, rather than what I actually experience.” The truth is, as another good man expresses it, “A weak hand may tie the [[453]] marriage-knot: and a feeble faith may lay hold on a strong Christ.

Moreover: assurance, after it has been vouchsafed to the soul, may he lost. Peter, no doubt, lost his assurance, and sinned it away, when he denied Christ. He did not, however, lose the principle of faith; for Christ had beforehand, prayed, concerning him, that his faith itself might not fail: and Christ could not possibly pray in vain.—A wife may lose her wedding-ring, lint that does not dissolve her marriage relation. She continues a lawful wife still. And yet, she is not easy, until she find her ring again.

3. Full assurance I consider as the brilliant, or cluster of brilliants, which adorns the ring, and renders it incomparably more beautiful and valuable. Where the diamond of full assurance is thus set in the gold of faith, it diffuses its rays of love, joy, peace, and holiness, with a lustre which leaves no room for doubt or darkness.—While these high and unclouded consolations remain, the believer’s felicity is only inferior to that of angels, or of saints made perfect above.

4. After all, I apprehend that the very essence of assurance lies in communion with God. While we feel the sweetness of his inward presence, we cannot doubt of our interest in his tender mercies. So long as the Lord speaks comfortably to our hearts, our affections are on fire, our views are clear, and our faces shine. It is when we come down from the mount, and when we mix with the world again, that we are in danger of losing that precious sense of his love, which is the strength of saints militant, and the joy of souls triumphant.

But let not trembling believers forget, that faith, strictly so called, is neither more nor less than a receiving of Christ, for ourselves in particular, as our only possible propitiation, righteousness, and Saviour, John i. 12.—Hast thou so received Christ? Thou [[454]] art a believer, to all the purposes of safety.—And it deserves special notice, that our Lord calls the centurion’s faith, “great faith;” though it rose no higher than to make him say, “Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.” Mat. viii. 8. 10.

The case likewise, of the Canaanitish woman is
full to the present point. Her cry was, “Have
mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David!” And,
a little after, “Lord, help me!” Jesus, at first,
gave her a seeming repulse: but her importunity
continued; and she requested only the privilege of
a dog, viz. to eat of the crumbs which fell from
the master’s table. What were our Saviour’s answer, and our Saviour’s remark? An answer and a
remark, which ought to make every broken sinner
take down his harp from the willows:— “O woman, great is thy faith.” Matt. x. 22-28.

5. The graces, which the blessed Spirit implants in our hearts (and the grace of faith, among the rest), resemble a sun-dial; which is of little service, except when the sun shines upon it. The Holy Ghost must shine upon the graces he has given, or they will leave us at a loss (in point of spiritual comfort), and be unable to tell us whereabouts we are. May he, day by day, rise upon our souls, with healing in his beams! Then shall we be filled with all joy and peace in believing, and abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Rom. xv. 13.

6. Are there any weak in faith, who come under the denomination of bruised reeds, and smoking flax? Let them know, that God will take care of them. The former will not be broken: the latter shall not be quenched. Bless God, for any degree of faith; even though, it he as the smallest of all seeds, sooner or later, it will surely expand into a large and fruitful tree.—However, stop not here; but, [[455]] as the apostle advises, covet earnestly the best gifts: and the gift of assurance, yea, of fullest assurance, among the rest. The stronger you are in faith, the more glory will you give to God, both in lip and life. Lord, increase our faith! Amen.

Vol. 3.—Page 450.—Reflections for the beginning of the Year 1776.

posted 14 May 2014, 17:02 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 14 May 2014, 17:02 ]

Reflections for the beginning of the Year 1776.

1. Our highest acknowledgments are due to him, whose mercy endureth for ever. To him who crowns each revolving year with the blessings of his goodness, who holds our souls in life, and suffers not our feet to be moved. He alone is worthy to receive the love of our hearts, the tribute of our lips, and the obedience of our hands, even to him be praise and dominion for ever. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things.

2. If we ought to kindle into gratitude, under the sense of his increasing mercies; it is no less our duty, and our desire, to acknowledge, and deplore, the accumulating sinfulness, which augments with every moment that swells our aggregate of time, who can tell, how oft he offendeth.

3. Rut if we are great debtors, we have also a still greater pay-master. His infinite atonement has discharged the whole. While therefore we remember, and feel our unworthiness, let it answer every purpose of humiliation, but not cherish the poisonous root of unbelief. Be the free grace of the Father, the redeeming merit of Jesus, and the sanctifying omnipotence of the Holy Ghost, our sovereign preservatives from distrust, the subjects of our song, and the strength of our joy, all through the allotted paths of our earthly pilgrimage.

4. Through the good hand of God upon us, another year dawns on the present generation. Time is now 5779 years old; and hastens to that grand period, when, like a drop that has been severed from the [[451]] ocean, it shall again be absorbed in that eternity, out of which it was taken. Amidst the omnium rerum vicissitudines, or the incessant changes, incident to men and things, previous to the final death of time; we rejoice, that the Saviour of sinners and the blessings of his cross, continue immutably the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever. Not less than 800 years before his incarnation, he thus addressed his believing people, by the mouth of his sublimest prophet, Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath! For the heavens shall vanish away, like smoke; and the earth shall wax old, like a garment; and they that dwell therein, shall die in like manner, but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished, Isa. li. 6. A sheet anchor, in every possible storm!

5. What numbers were transmitted to their eternal homes in the course of the year now closed!

“How many sleep, who kept the world awake
With lustre and with noise! Has death proclaim’d
A truce, and hung his sated lance on high?
‘Tis brandish’d still, nor shall the present year
Be more tenacious of her human leaves,
Or spread of feeble life a thinner fall.”

Many a lofty head will be laid low before the expiration of 1770. The sad ravages of civil war will, too probably, people the regions of the grave with additional thousands, over and above the myriads, who never fail to swell the ordinary bills of mortality.—But providence, unerring providence, governs all events, Dan. iv. 35. And grace, unchangeable grace, is faithful to its purpose, Rom. viii. 28. May we live by faith on both.

Vol. 3.—Page 447.—On Sacred Poetry.

posted 14 May 2014, 17:00 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 14 May 2014, 17:00 ]

On Sacred Poetry.

God is the God of truth, of holiness, and of elegance. Whoever, therefore, has the honour to compose, or to compile, any thing that may constitute a part of his worship, should keep those three particulars constantly in view.

As we cannot pray, without the exciting and enabling grace of the Holy Ghost (Rom. viii. 26; Jude 20.); so neither can we sing, spiritually, acceptably, and profitably, without the presence and inspiration of the same condescending and most adorable person (1 Cor. xiv. 15. Eph. v. 18, 19). The reason is evident. For, what is a psalm, or hymn, strictly taken, but prayer, or praise, in verse?

The original difference (if any specific difference there originally was) between psalms and hymns, seems to have lain in this: that, anciently, a psalm Mas actually set to instrumental music, and usually accompanied by it at the time of singing (Psa. lxxxi. 2). A similar, or even the self-same composition, simply sung without the aid of musical instruments, was perhaps the primitive definition of an hymn (Matt. xvi. 30). By degrees, the word psalm became appropriated, for respectful distinction’s sake, to the inspired songs of David, and others, recorded in scripture: while succeeding pieces, formed on those elevated models, but written, from time to time, as occasion served, by inferior believers, obtained the appellation of hymns.

St. Paul (in Eph. v. 19. and Col. iii. 16.) mentions a species of sacred poetry, which he terms ᾠδαί ηνευμματικαι?, i.e. “spiritual odes.” These, [[448]] likewise, I take to have been, what are usually called, human compositions: as much so, as the hymns of Prudentius, Beza, Grotius, Witsius, Villa, Dr. Watts, Miss Steele, or Mr. Hart, Such devout productions may be denominated odes, or songs at large, because (like many of the Psalms themselves) they admit of much latitude and variety: being not strictly limited to absolute prayer and praise, but occasionally fraught with doctrine, exhortation, and instruction in righteousness; tending, as the apostle expresses it in the passage last cited, to “teach,” to “admonish,” and to build up one another on our most holy faith.—The “odes,” which St. Paul recommends, “are termed spiritual” ones, because they relate to spiritual things; are written by spiritual persons, under the impressions of spiritual influence; and, if the good Spirit of God shine upon us at the time, are a most spiritual branch of divine worship: conducing to spiritualize the heart, wing the affections to heaven, and give us a blessed foretaste of the employment and the felicity of elect angels, and of elect souls delivered from the prison of the flesh.

Some worthy persons have been of opinion, (and what absurdity is there, for which some well-meaning people have not contended?) that it is “unlawful to sing human compositions in the house of God.” But, by the same rule, it must be equally unlawful to preach, or publicly to pray, except in the very words of scripture. Not to observe, that many of the best and greatest men, that ever lived, have, both in ancient and modern times, been hymn-writers; and that there is the strongest reason to believe, that the best Christians, in all ages, have been hymn-singers. Moreover, the singing of hymns is an ordinance, to which God has repeatedly set the seal of his own presence and power; and which he deigns eminently to bless, at this very day. It has proved a converting ordinance, to some of his people; a recovering ordinance, to others: a comforting [[449]] ordinance to them all; and one of the divinest mediums of communion with God, which his gracious benignity has vouchsafed to his church below. But remember, reader, that “none can,” truly and savingly, “learn the song of the Lamb,” who are not “redeemed from the earth” by his most precious blood: (Rev. xiv. 3.)—Pray, therefore, for the effectual operation of the Holy Ghost on thy heart, to apply and make known to thee thy personal interest in the Father’s election and in the Son’s redemption. So wilt thou not only sing with understanding, but with the spirit also beaming upon thy soul; and be able experimentally to say,

As from the lute soft music flows,
Obedient to the skilful hand!
So, tuned by thee, my spirit owes
Her harmony to thy command.

Touched by the finger of thy love,
Sweet melody of praise I bring;
Join the enraptured choirs above,
And feel the bliss that makes them sing.

Vol. 3.—Page 443.—Cursory Review of Valour, Patriotism, and Friendship, Occasioned by A Late Celebrated Author excluding them from the List of Virtues.

posted 14 May 2014, 16:56 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 14 May 2014, 16:58 ]

Cursory Review of Valour, Patriotism, and Friendship, 
Occasioned by A Late Celebrated Author[1] excluding them from the List of Virtues.


Let what will become of prowess, considered, merely, in a military view, there certainly is a species of it, by no means incompatible either with the letter or spirit of the gospel, but warranted by both. Valour, properly understood, does not consist in cutting throats with insensibility, nor yet in plundering the weak, trampling on the humble, oppressing the innocent, or doing mischief, only because it may be in our power. This is a very unjust definition of the quality in question: true valour is but another word for strength of mind, and is not always constitutional; but sometimes the gift of divine grace, and sometimes the acquired result of reason and reflection. Rash, unjust, and wanton exertions of power differ as much from valour, as insolence and pride differ from real dignity, or as lawless lust differs from virtuous love. Valour, or firmness of soul, may he distinguished in active and passive. The former meets just and [[414]] necessary dangers with decent intrepidity, as David encountered the Philistine of Gath. The latter sustains incumbent evils, with fortitude and composure, and its language is that of St. Paul, and of the whole army of martyrs. None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself; I am ready, not only to he hound, but also to die at Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts xx. 24. and Acts xxi. 13.

“Be strong, and of a good courage,” said the Deity to Joshua, “he not afraid, neither he thou dismayed,” Josh. i. 9. The promise to obedient Israel was, five of you shall chase an hundred; and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword, Lev. xxvi. 8. It even seems probable, that something analogous to war, was carried on, literally, for a short time, in heaven itself, antecedently to the expulsion of the apostate angels, who can hardly he supposed to have quitted the seats of blessedness, without force on one part, and unavailing resistance on theirs. It moreover deserves remembrance, that it was among our Lord’s last directions to his disciples, He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one, Luke xxii. 36. Now, a sword is both an offensive and defensive weapon. The evident purport, therefore, of the injunction is, that emergency may arise, wherein it is lawful for Christians to defend themselves by a resolute resistance, and to annoy their enemies by a vigorous assault.


The prophet Jeremiah was a patriot, or most ardent lover of his country, else he would hardly have deplored its calamities, in strains so pathetic as these: For the hurt of the daughters of my people [[445]] am I hurt; I am black, astonishment hath taken hold upon me, Jer. viii. 21. A very considerable part of his prophecy, and almost the whole of his book of Lamentations, are the sympathetic complaints of a religious patriot, weeping over the sins, and the distresses of his country. Read the 137th Psalm. What is it, but the warmest effusions of a patriotic muse, glowing (and under the influence of divine inspiration too, glowing I say) with the most exalted and uneradicable love of its country. If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her skill in music: if I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth. If I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy, that is, as dearly as I love to join in the public and private worship of God; may my hand never be able to touch the harp to his praise, nor my tongue to sing hymns to the glory of his name; if Judea and her capital are not dearer to me than any other country, and than any other temporal consideration whatever. But what must set the point beyond all farther dispute, is the example of Christ himself. If he was a patriot, patriotism must be a virtue. And, that he was such, appears from his weeping over the approaching calamities of his country; the tears which, as man, he shed on that occasion, were tears of patriotism.


A most tender and peculiar friendship subsisted between Jonathan and David, that Timothy and Philemon were amongst the most intimate and confidential friends of St. Paul, and (what must decisively turn the scale is) that our Lord himself honoured Lazarus and his two sisters, and also the evangelist John, with such a share of his adorable intimacy and friendship, as the rest of his disciples, [[446]] much less the world at large, were by no means admitted to. And that the tears he poured at the tomb of Lazarus, were tears of friendship: we should distinguish sufficiently between friendship and benevolence. The latter, according to the amiable genius of Christianity, should extend to all mankind. The former may, without any wrong to others, be lawfully and reasonably restrained to a few.


[1] Soame Jenyns, Esq.

Vol. 3.—Page 441.—Query, Concerning A Passage in the Marriage Ceremony, Stated and Resolved.

posted 14 May 2014, 16:48 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 14 May 2014, 16:49 ]

Query, Concerning

A Passage in the Marriage Ceremony, Stated and Resolved.

In what sense are we to understand that declaration of the husband to his bride, ““With my body I thee worship?”

The word worship, in ancient English, signifies neither more nor less, than that honour, attention, and respect, which are due to worthship, i.e. to distinguished excellence. The church of England, taking it for granted that a man has a very high opinion of the woman he marries, enjoins him to testify that good opinion; and in such terms, as are equivalent to a solemn promise of treating her tenderly and respectfully: or, as the apostle Peter expresses it, of giving honour to the wife, as to ἀσθενὲς ἐρῶ σκενει, the less robust vessel of the two, 1 Pet. iii. 7.

A late very sensible writer [1] supposes, agreeably to the venerable Hooker’s comment on the phrase, that the design of the above stipulation is, “To express, that the woman, by virtue of this marriage, has a share in all the titles and honours, which are due or belong to the person of her husband[2].” He also observes, that Martin Bucer, who lived at the very time when our liturgy was composed, translated the passage in question, by cum corpore meo te honoro, i.e. “with my body I thee honour:” and that the learned Mr. Selden renders it corpore [[442]] meo te dignor.—” It is true,” adds Mr. Wheatly, “the modern sense of the word is [or, rather, seems] somewhat different: for which reason, at the review of our liturgy, after the restoration of king Charles II. the word worship was promised to he changed for that of honour. How the alteration came to be omitted, I cannot discover. But, so long as the old word is explained in the sense here given, one would think no objection could be urged against the using of it.”


[1] Viz. Mr. Wheatly, in his Rationale of the Book of Common Prayer, p. 440. Edit. 1722, octavo.

[2] See Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity, book v. sect. 73.

Vol. 3.—Page 438.—Concise History.—Apostle’s Creed, of the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Te Deum.

posted 14 May 2014, 16:46 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 14 May 2014, 16:46 ]

Concise History.

Apostle’s Creed, of the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Te Deum.

I.—That excellent and ancient formulary, commonly called the Apostle’s Creed, was so named, not as if it were written by those illustrious disciples of Christ, but because it contains a general summary, or outline, of the apostolic doctrines.

Some weak and superstitious people, however, have aimed at reducing it to twelve articles (though it really consists of twenty), in order to have it believed that this creed was drawn up by the twelve apostles, and that each apostle clubbed an article. But let it be observed, (1.) that this tradition was never heard of, so far as appears, for almost four hundred years after Christ. (2.) Rufinus, one of the first asserters of it, is, on all hands, acknowledged to he an author, whose integrity was none of the Best. (3.) Neither St. Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles; (4.) nor any of the primitive councils or synods; nor, (5.) any of the more ancient fathers, say one word about the mailer: St. Ambrose being the first writer, who ascribed this creed to the apostles, as their composition.

Nevertheless, it is a valuable compendium of the Christian faith; and truly apostolical, though not framed by the apostles. It is quite uncertain, who were the penmen of it, and when it was penned. But this is no impeachment of its worth, respectability, or usefulness. It seems to have obtained in the eh are!;, about A. D. 300.

[[439]] II.—The Nicene Creed is a most admirable form
of sound words, drawn up by the first general council, convened at Nice, A. D. 305.

This celebrated council, which assembled in the great hall of the emperor Constantine’s palace, at Nice, in Bythinia, consisted, at a medium, of about three hundred bishops, and a vast multitude of inferior clergymen. Its grand object was, to counteract the progress of the Arian heresy, then growing-rampant: in opposition to which, the creed here framed, asserts the eternal generation of the Son of God, and (which are the necessary consequences of that) his co-essentially and co-equality with the Father. Arius himself, from motives of worldly prudence, subscribed this famous creed; but with most wicked and treacherous mental reservations; just as too many, who enter into orders in the church of England, at this very day, subscribe this very creed, without believing the eternal generation, and the absolute divinity, of God the Son; any more than they believe the doctrine of absolute predestination, to which they likewise most solemnly set their hands.

III.—The Athanasian Creed chiefly respects the
doctrine of the Trinity; the eternal generation, and
the miraculous incarnation, of the second person in
the Godhead. It is called, St. Athanasius’ Creed;
not because it was syllabically composed by him,
but because it so perfectly accords with the system
which that great and good man drew from the
scriptures, and which (at a time when the Arian
faction were endeavouring to persecute truth out of
the world) he underwent so many dangers, difficulties, and sufferings to defend.

Dr. Waterland, “who has professedly written a learned and masterly history of the Athanasian Creed, supposes, with the utmost probability, that it was drawn up by Hilary, bishop of Aries, about A. D. 430.

[[440]] Archbishop Tillotson expressed an impious wish, “That the church of England was fairly rid of the Athanasian Creed.” And why not, by the same rule, wish her to be fairly rid of a certain troublesome volume (no less galling to Arians and Arminians, than the Athanasian Creed and the Thirty-nine Articles can be), viz. that two-edged sword of the Spirit, commonly called the Old and New Testaments?

IV.—The seraphic hymn, entitled, Te Deum, seems to have been collected from some devotional passages in the writings of St. Ambrose and of St. Austin. Dr. Cave, however, thinks it probable, that St. Ambrose alone, had the honour of composing this divine and almost unequalled song, by way of general antidote against the Arian poison. St. Ambrose died, A. D. 397. St. Austin not until 480.

Vol. 3.—Page 436.—Meditations on the Collect for the First Sunday in Advent.

posted 14 May 2014, 16:44 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 14 May 2014, 16:44 ]

Meditations on the Collect for the First Sunday in Advent.

“Almighty God,” Sec.—Advent signifies, the act of approaching, or of coming. The members of Christ’s mystic body, the church, however they may differ in external and non-essential points; yet, are they all firmly united in this faith, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; and, consequently, very God, of very God:—that he came to visit us, in great humility:—that he will come again, in the last day, to judge both the quick and the dead:—and that life immortal is obtained for us, and shall be enjoyed by us, through him only.

These are the doctrines, upon which this collect is founded; and which are confessed in it. In the firm belief of these, looking hack to Christ’s first coming, and forward to his second advent, every believing soul is and will be concerned, to cast away the works of darkness: i.e. the evil actings of his corrupt nature; a nature compounded of the pride of the devil, and the lust of the beast. And, 2. to put on the whole armour of God, brought to light, and presented to him by the gospel: even the girdle of truth, the breast-plate of Christ’s righteousness, the preparation of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (Eph. v. 14, &c.) And seeing the absolute necessity of easting away the former, and of putting on the latter, believers use all prayer, to the God of all grace, for his Spirit, to enable them to do both; knowing, that, without Cod’s effectual grace, they can do neither.

[[437]] Hence observe, that this collect breathes a spirit, rpiite contrary, both to Antinomian licentiousness, and to Arminian pride. These are of the works of darkness, enemies to the church of Christ; and are alike, therefore, to be detested and cast otf. The former brings a reproach on the purity of the gospel: the latter perverts the gracious glad tidings of it. That we may avoid the one, and cast oif the other, let us ever remember, that all good works are necessary to adorn our holy profession; but that, as the church of England elsewhere speaks, we have no power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God, by Christ preventing us (or being beforehand with us), that we may have a good will; and working with us, when we have that good will. Article X.

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