William Law.

A collection of letters on the most interesting and important subjects, and on several occasions. online

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living in him before he fell.

Little Children, faith St. ^obn, let no Man
deceive you ; [N. B.] He that doth Righteouf-
nefs, is righteous, [N. B.] even as he is righ-
teous. Therefore to expect, or truft to be
made righteous, by the Righteoufnefs of



another, only outwardly imputed to us, is,
according to the Apoftle, deceiving our-

Either Man, by the Mediation of Chrift,
is united again with God, or he is not ; if
he is not, then he has no more of the di-
vine Life in him, after his Redemption,
than he had before he was redeemed. But
if he is again united with God, as he was
at his Creation, then his Redemption muft
wholly Gonfift in the Birth of a divine Na-
ture and Spirit, effentially brought to Life
in him. — That which is Spirit in Man, muft
be godlike, before it can unite with that
Spirit, which is God. And was there not
a divine Spirit in Man, truly born of, and
proceeding from the Spirit of Godj as his
real Offspring, no Union of Will, liOve, or
Defire, could be between God and Man.
For this is a Truth, that extends itfelf
through all that is natural, or fupernatural,
that Like can only unite with Like, There is
no Separation between Things, but that
which is effected by Contrariety. If there-
fore nothing in Man was a Partaker of the
divine Nature, Man muft in his whole Na-
ture, be for ever feparated from God, and
ftand in the fame Impoftibility of being
united with him, that two the moft con-
trary Things, do to one another. — So fure



therefore, as the Mediation of Chrift, is by
himfelf declared to be for this End, viz.
that they all may be one^ as thou. Father, art
in me, and 1 in Thee, that they alfo may be
one in lis ; / in them, and thou in me, that
they may be made perje5i i?i one -, fo fure is it,
that an outwardly imputed Chrift, is as ab-
furd in itfelf, and as contrary to Scripture,
as an outwardly imputed God.



In Answer to a Scruple.

F^*^"^HAT you may have a full An-
^ T ^ fwer to your Scruple, concern-
^ fi ing thefe Words, the Folly of

k.^*^JM( Debtor and Creditor, in the fe-
cond Part of the Spirit of Love, I will fet
forth the Dodlrine from whence it is taken.

Great Part of that Book, is to clear up,

and affert the true Scripture Doctrine of the
Nature, Necejjity, and Merit of our Lord's
Sufferings and Death, as an Attonement, and



Satisfauiion before God, in the Work of
our Redemption. — No Point of Chriftianity
has been more miftaken, in our common
Syftems of GoiJDel DocSlrine^ or given greater
Offence than this, and yet nothing clearer,
or more reafonably to be believed, v/hen it
ftands in its own fcriptural Manifeftation.

Now the right Ground of underftanding
the true Meaning of every different Expreff-
ion, relating to Chrift, as our Saviour, or Sal-
vation, lies in thefe two Things : i. What
Chrifl is in himfelf. 2. What he does, or
intends to do for us.

The Scripture faith, God was ma?nfej}ed
in the Flejh ^ this defcribes his whole Na-
ture, what he was in himfelf, viz, the
Deity become Man. What he is, and does
in us, to uSj and for us, is expreffed in the
following Words, He was manifefced to de-
Jiroy the Works of the Devil -^ and again, as
i?i Adam all die, fo in Chrijl, JJ:all all be made

Now according to this Ground, every
Expreflion concerning our Saviour, is to
have its true infallible Meaning fixed. Every
thing that is faid of his Birth, his Life, his
Sufferings, his Death, his RefurreBion and
Afcejifion, are all of them, both with re-
fped: to God, and ourfelves, of one and the
fame Efficacy, full of one and the fame Me-


rity and all for o?ie and the fame Ejid^ viz,
to deftroy in Man the Works of the Devil,
and to make all that died in Adam, to be a^
live again in Chrijl,

Suppofe now, any one of thefe to be
wanting, and the fame will follow from
it, as if they were all wanting. Had his
Birth been otherwife than it was^ not God
as well as Man, He could have made no
Beginning of a divine Life in us. Had not
his Life been without Sin^ his Death upon the
Crofs could have done us no Good, nor
could he have been the one Mediator be-
tween God and Jinful Man. Had his Suf -
ferings been lefs than they were, had theic
been any Evil, Trial, or Temptation, which
had not attacked him, through the whole
Courfe of his Life, with all its Force, he
could not have been faid, to have over-
come them. So fure therefore as Chrift, as
a Son of Man was to overcome all that the
World, the Flefh, and the Devil, could do
to fallen Man; fo fure is it, that all the
Evils, which they could poffibly bring upon
fallen Man, were to be felt, and fiiffered
by him, as abfolutely neceflary in the Na-
ture of the Thing, to prove his vidtorious
Superiority over them. Had he not given
up his Body to an ignominious Death, in
all the Horrors of a Soul, that had lojl its



God: He could not have fufFered Tto in,
and for Man, which every Man muft hav^e
fuftered, who had died in his fallen State,
— But Chrill: dying, and facrificing him-
felf, as he did, in and through that hor-
rible Death, which was fallen Man's Gate
to eternal Mifery, and conquering this State
of Man, as he had every evil Power of
the World, the Flefh, and the Devil, then
it was, that he couid fay to thofe, who
were all their Life in Fear of this Deaths
be of good Comfort, I have overcome this
Death, and that upon the fame Ground,
as he faid to his Followers, under a Senfe
of worldly Tribulations, be of good Comfort^
I have overcome the World. And thus his
Death, had no other Nature, with reipedl
to us, than every other Part of his Pro-
cefs, that was antecedent to it, only as it
was the laft, and greateft, and finijhing
Part of that redeeming Work, which was
begun by his divine Birth, and carried on
in, and through his fmlefs, perfed: Life.
And as I faid, that the Death of Man un-
redeemed, w^as his Gate into an eternal &-
peration from God, fo Chrift's Entrance in-
to this Gate of DamJiation, and pouring
out his Blood, thus forfaken of God, had
a Suffering in it, that Thoughts can no
more conceive, than Words exprefs.



Hence it is, by way of Eminence, juftly
faid, to be the higheft Price, that he paid
for us y and that by his Blood it is that we
are wafhed, and redeemed, not only becaufe
of its Greatnefs in itfelf, but becaufe it ii-
niihed, and for ever completed the whole
redeeming Work, which he had to do for
us in the Flefh. — Hence it was, that through
the Old Teftament, this Sacrifice of his
Death, is the great Thing m.oflly pointed at
in all its Sacrifices, Types, and Figures j
hence aifo is all the Eoaft of it in the Gof-
peL Well therefore may the Church,
through all Ages, have afcribed fo much to
the Merit of his Blood flied for us ; well
may it have been celebrated, as the one great
Price, by which we are ranfomed from the
Power of Death and Hell -, becaufe, though
all that he was, and did, antecedently to it,
was equally ?2ecejfary to our Salvation, yet all
had been without any efFedl, unlefs by his
fo dying, this damnable Death had been
fw allowed up in Vidiory,

In fhort, had not Chrift been real God,
as well as real Man, he could have made no
Beginning in the Work of our Salvation,
and had he not ended his Life in fuch a.
Sacrifice, as he did, he could never have
faid, it is finijhed. — He therefore, who dc-
nieth the Truth, the Certainty, and abfo-

F lute


lute NecelTity of thefe two eflential Points,
is in the Abomination of Socmiajtifm^ and is
tliat very Liar and Antichrijl defcribed by
St. "john in his firll Epiftle.

Again, though Chrift's Death was thus
abfolutely neceffary in the very Nature of
the Thing, thus great in its Merits and Ef-
fects, yet \xv\di!^\{\%RcfurreBmi had followed,
we had been yet in our Sins, nor could he,
till rifen from the Grave, have purchafed a
Refurredion for us. Lajlly^ had he not
ajcended into Heaven, he could not have had
the Power of drawings as he faid, all Men
to himfelf. — Every Part therefore of our
Saviour's Character, or Procefs, has its full
and equal Share in all that, which is faid of
him, as our Peace with God, our Righteouf-
nefsy our Jii/liJicafio72, our Ra?ifom, our At^
to?ieme72ty our SatisfaSlion^ our Life and
new Birth ^ for all thefe different Expref-
iions, have no Difference in Dodrine, but
whether feperately, or jointly taken, fignify
noticing elfe, but this one Thing, that he
was the true and full Dcflroycr of all the
Works of the Devil in Man, and the true
Raifer of a divine Life^ iti all that died ijt

And here, Sir, you are well to obferve,
that all that Chrift was, did, fuffered, and
obtained, was purely and folely on the Ac-


count, and for the fake of alto'^ing, or re-
moving that which was wrong, evil, and
miferable in Man, or in Scripture Words,
God was in Chrifl jfefuSy reconciling the World
to himfelfy that is, taking away from Man
every Property, or Power of Evil, that kept
him in a State of Separation from God.
Thus it was, and to this End, that Godwas
in Chrift J ejus in his whole Procefs.

Unreafonably therefore have our fcholaf-
tic Syflems of the Gofpel, feparated the
Sacrifice of Chrift's Death, from the other
Parts of his Procefs, and confidered it as
fomething chiefly done with regard to God,
to alter, or attone an infinite Wrath, that
was raifed in God againft fallen Man, which
Infinity of juft Vengeance, or vindictive
Juftice, mull; have devoured the Sinner, un-
lefs an infinite Satisfaction had been made
to it, by the Death of Chrifl.

x^ll this, is in the grofleft Ignorance of
God^ of the Reafon and Ground, and Ef-
fects of Chrift's Death, and in full Con-
tradi(5lion to the exprefs Letter of Scripture.
For there we are told, that God is Love, and
that the Infinity of his Love was that alone,
which fhewed itfelf towards fallen Man,
and wanted to have SatisfaBion done to it ;
which Love-defire could not be fulfilled,
could not be fatisfied with any thing lefs
than Man's full Deliverance from all the

F 2 Evil

68 L E T T E R IV.

Evil of his fallen State. That Love, which
has the Infinity of God, nay, w^hich is
God himfelf, was fo immutably great to-
wards Man, though fallen from him, that
he /pared not his only begottejt Son ; and why
did He not fpare him ? It was becaufe no-
thing but the incarnate Life of his eternal
Son, paffing through ail the miferable States
of loft Man, could regenerate his iirft divine
Life in him. Can you poflibly be told this,
in ftronger Words than thefe, God Jo loved the
Worlds that he gave his only begotten Son ^ how
did He give him ? V/hy, in his whole Procefs.
And to what end did He give him ? Why,
that all it'ho believe in him^ might not perijhy
but have everlojling Life. — Away then with
the fuperftitious Dream, of an infinite Wrath
in God towards poor fallen Man, which
could never ccafe, till an infinite Satisfia^ion
was made to it. All Scripture denies it,
and the Light of Nature abhors it. — The
Birth^ the Lifie^ the Death of Chrift, tuough
fo different Things, have but one and the
fame Operation, and that Operation is folely
in Man^ to drive all Evil out of his fallen
Nature, and deli(;i;ht the Heart of God, that
defires liis Salvation. — God is Love, and has
no other Will towards Man, but the Will
of Love. That Love, which from itfelf
began the Creation of an holy Adum^ from
itfelf began the Redemption of a fallen



Adam. — The Death of Chrift was a Sacri-
fice from the Love of God the Son towards
Man, to overcome therjby that damnable
Death, which, otherwife, every Son of A-
dam mufi: have died 5 it was a Sacrifice of-
fered to the fame Love, in God the Father ;
a Sacrifice, equally loved and defired by both
of them, becaufe, in the Nature of the
Thing, as abfolutely neceflary to alter and
overcome that Evil, which belonged to
Man's State of Death, as the Incarnation
of the Word, was abfolutely necelfary in
the Nature of the Thing, to make Man to
be alive again in God.

This is the one only true, and full Con-
futation of Socinianifm.

But to have Recourfe to a fuppofed Wrath^
or vindiSiive Jujlicey in a God incenfed to-
wards fallen Man, in order to confute the
Socinia72, who denies the Neceility, and Ef-
fects of Chrift's Death, is only oppofing one
great Falfity with another. — For Wrath has
no more Place in God, than Love has in the
Devil. Wrath began with Devils, Hell,
and fallen Nature, and can have no poliible
Exiftence any where, or in any Thing, but
where Devils, Hell, and fallen Nature, have
their Power of working.

Do not, my Friend, be here fo furious,
as t o fay, that if it was ftridly true, that
there was no Wrath in God^ you would burn

F 3 your

70 L E T T E R IV.

your Bible : For if it was not flrid:ly true,
you would never have had a Bible to burn ;
nor any more Meflages from Heaven about
Man's Salvation, than from Hell. — For if
you v/ill have V/rath in the moft high God,
you can have no other, or better a God,
than that which the atheiftical Spinoza in-

For if Wrath is in the Supreme God,
then Nature is in God, and if fo, then God
is Nature, and nothing elfe ^ for Nature can-
not be above itfelf. Therefore if Nature
is in the moft high God, then the low eft
Working of Nature, is the true Supreme
God. — And fo inftead of 'di fiipernatural God,
who created Heaven and Earth, Heaven and
Earth, and all Things €ik^ are the only God.

This is the atheiftical Abfurdity, that ne-
ceflarily follows from the iuppofing a IVt^ath
in God 'y for Wrath can no more be any
where, but in Nature^ than Storms and
Tempejis can be, where there is nothing that

Let me here. Sir, obferve to you the bare-
faced Calumny, that Dr. Warburfon has
ventured to caft upon me, in charging my
Writings with Spinozijm^ though all that I
have wrote for thefe laft twenty Years, has
been fuch a full Confutation of it, as is not
to be found in any Book, that has been pur-
pofely wrote againft it. Had I only proved.


as I have done, by a Variety of Proofs, that
Wrath cannot poffibly be in the true God, I
had fufficiently confuted Spinozifm 3 for if not
Wrath, then nothing of Nature is in God.
But I have gone much farther, and have, in
my Appeal^ the Book of Regeneration^ the
Spirit of Prayer^ the Spirit of Love, and
and the JVay to Divi?ie Knowledge^ opened
the true Ground of the unchaiWeable Dif-
tindlion between God and Nature, making
all Nature, whether temporal or eternal, its
own Proof, that it is not, cannot be God,
but purely and folely the Want of God,
and can be nothing elfe in itfelf but a refl-
lefs, painful Want, till a fupernatiiral God
manifefls himfelf in it.- — This is a Doctrine,
which the Learned of all Agres have known
nothing of ; not a Book antient or modern
in all our Libraries, has fo much as at-
tempted to open the Ground of Nature, to
fhew its Birth and State^ and its effential
unalterable Diftind.ion from the one abyjjal^
fiipernatural God \ and how all the Glories,
Powers, and Perfections of the hidden, un-
approachable God, have their wonderful
Manifeftation in Nature and Creature. This
is a Bleffing referved by God for thefe lall
Times, to be opened in his chofen Inflru-
ment, the poor, illiterate Behmen. And
this I will venture to fay, that He who will
declare War againft him, has no Choice of

F 4 any


any other Weapons, but Raillery and Re-
proach. To call the bleffed Man, ^ pojfejed
Coblery will be doing fomething 5 to call his
Writings, fenfelefs Jargon^ may ftand his
learned Adverfary in great llead ; but if he
tries to overcome him any other Way, his
Succefs will be like his, who knocks his Head
againft a Poft. — But no more of this here.

And now. Sir, what fhall I fay of my
learned, accufing Docftor ? Why only this,
that if he knows how to forgive himfelf,
then there will be one Thing at leaf!:, in
M'hich we are both of us like-minded.

A Word or two now to yourfelf and
Friends, who are fo loath to own a God
who is all Love : Let me tell you, if you
wdli have Wrath in the Supreme God, you
muft have a God, in whom is Selfiflmefs,
Envy, and Pride, with all the Properties of
fallen Nature. For as it is impoffible for
one of thefe to be without the other in the
Creature, fo if any one of them was in
God, all the other muft be there. They are
the four effential Elements of Hell, or fallen
Nature, which mutually beget, and are be-
gotten of one another ^ where one is, there
are all of them, and where all are not, there
cannot be one of them. Every Pride con-
fifts of three Things, Selfiflmefs, Envy,
and Wrath. And fo of every one of them,
{.ake which you will, it confifts of the other



three, fo that to fepar^te them, is to feparate
a Thing from itfelf.

Divine Love is juft as contrary to them,
as God is to the Devil 5 and where Love
is not, there God is not, and where the
Work is not wholly the Working of Love,
it is no Work of God, but the felfi/h, wrath-
ful, proud enfuious Working of the diabo-
lical . Nature, fallen from its firft blefTed
Siibjedfion to, and Union v/ith the fuper-
natural God of Love.

To talk (as fome do) of a good Wrath
in God, which is only fo called, becaufe
it has a Likenefs to, and Produces like Ef-
fedls to thofe that come from Wrath in
the Creature, is but calling that a good
Wrath, which is like a bad Wrath, and
is no better, no wifer, than to talk of a
good Envy, a good Pride in God, which
are only fo called, becaufe they have a
Likenefs to that, which is a bad Pride, and
a bad Envy in the Creature. Can any
Thing be more profanely abfurd than this ?
Which yet is the beft that can be faid
by thofe, who will have it the Glory of
God, to be wrathful, who think all is
loft, that the gofpel Salvation is blaf-
phemed, if the fame Love that created
Man in Glory, fhould be his only Re-
deemer, when he had fallen from it. Not



confidering, that Salvation could never have
come into the World, but becaulc, all that
Good and Bleffing, which Love can be,
and do to the Creature, muft be done,
and doing for ever and ever, by that lirll
creating God, whole Name and Nature,
whofe Will and Working, is Love, the
fame Yefterday, to Day, and for ever.

And now. Sir, need I fay much more,
to remove your Scruple about the follow-
ing Paffage in the Spirit of Love^ '' No
'^ Wrath in God, no riditious Atonement,
*^ no Folly of Debtor and Creditor, no
^' Suffering for Suffering's fake, but a Chrift
*^ fuffering and dying, as his Jame ViBory
" over Death and Hell, as when he rofe
" from the Dead and ajcended into Hea-
c< ven*/*

I faid Folly of Debtor and Creditor^ becaufe
Chrift's overcoming Man's damnable Deaths
by his victorious Paffage through it, has
nothing in it that has any Likenefs to the
Tranfad:ion of a Debtor paying his Cre-
ditor 'y nothing was done in it by way of
Pay?ne72t of a Debt, any more than Chrift
paid a Debt for Lazarus^ when he raifed
him from the Dead, or paid a Debt tor
the Man born Blind, v/hcm he helped to
feeing Eyes. For the Good that is done

* Spirit of Love, Part. IT, p. 131,

L E T T E R IV. 75

us by the Death of Chrift, is a Good
that relates folely to ourfeives. Nothino-
in it, is given to, or received but by our-
feives y it overcomes, and faves us from
our own Evil of Death, juil as that, which
Chrift did to Lazarus, and the blind Man,
overcame the Death that v^^as i?i the one,
and the Darknefs that v^'as in the other.

You appeal to a Parable of our Lord's,
which has no more Relation to the Na-
tiire and Efficacy of Chrift's Death, than the
Parable of the Tares of the Field, St. Peter
faith, how off fhall jny Brother fn againfl me^
and I forgive him, till feven Times ? Chrift
anfwereth, not untill feven Times, but imtill
feventy Times feven. And then he fets forth
this Doftrine of continual Forgivenefs in
the following Parable.

The Kingdom of God is likened to a certain
Kij2g, who would take Account of his Ser-
vantSy &c. Read the whole Parable, and
you will be forced to fee, that nothing
elfe is intended to be taught by it, but
that one Conclufion, which Chrift draws
from it : So likewife jl:all my heavenly Father
do unto you, if ye from your Hearts, forgive
not every one his Brother their TrefpaJJes, All
that the Parable faith, is neither more nor
lefs, than is faid in thefe other Words,
Be ye Mercifid^ as your Father which is in



Heaven is merciful: Again y the Dodlrinc
of this Parable, quite overthrows that^
which fyftematic Dod;ors, intend by Debtor
and Creditor ; for their Dod:rine is, that the
injured Authority of God rnujl have full
Satisfa5tio7i made to it, and thence it is,
that they ground the Neceffity of fo great
a Payment, as Chrift made to it. Whereas
this Parable of the Kino-dom of God, fets
forth a King, [N. B.] frankly forgiving^
and not requiring any Payment at all, ei-
ther from the Debtor himfelf, or from
any one elfe for him. — Can there there-
fore be a greater Folly, than to appeal to
this, and the like Scriptures, to make God
a Creditor^ whofe vindicative Wrath againft
his Debtor^ will not be appeafed, till jull
'Payment is made to it ? And what a blind
Perfifting is it in the fame Folly, to urge
the Petition in the Lord's Prayer, forgive
tis our DebtSy as we forgive our Debtors, as
another Proof, that God is that Creditor,
who will be fully paid the Debts, that
are due to him? For furely, if God re-
quires us to expedl, and pray for the For-
givenefs of our Debts, it is badly concluded
from thence, that therefore full Payment
of them, muil be made. — The Truth is,
this Petition teaches the fame frank For-
^ivenefsy as the foregoing Parable, and is



utterly inconfiftent with the Dodlrine of
an infinite SatisfaBion^ neceflary to be made :
For if fo, then the Petition ought to have
been thus, forgive us our Debts^ as we for-
give our Debtors, [N. B.] when full Pay-
meiit is made, either by themfelves, or by
fome one elfe for them.

In a Word, a vindiBive Wrath in God,
that will not forgive, till a Satisfadion
equal to the Offence, is made to it, fets
the Goodnefs of God in a lower State,
than that which has been found in Thou-
fands of Mankind. The Truth of the
Matter, is this, the Divinity of Chrift, and
his whole Procefs through Life and Death,
was abfoiutely neceffary in the Nature of the
Thing, to raife Man out of the Death of
Sin, into a ^heavenly Birth of Li^e. And
the Neceflity of all this, is grounded upon
the Certainty of Man's Fall, from a di-
vine, into a beaftial Life of this World.
The focinian Blafphemy coniiils in the
Denial of thefe Points, the Deity of Chrift,
and the Fall of Man, and the Neceflity of

Chrift's Death. Our fcholaftic Dodtors,

own the Fall of Man, but know, or own
Nothing of the true Nature and Depth
of it. They own the Truth of Chrifl's
Divinity, and the Neceflity of his Suffer-
ings ; they plead for the Certainty of thefe



Things from fcripture Words, but fee not
into the Ground of thein, or in what, the
abjolute Necejjity of them conlifts. — Hence
it is, that when oppofed hy foci ni an Rea-
foning, they are at a Lofs how to fup-
port thefe great Truths, and are forced
to hufnanize the Matter, and to fuppofe fuch
a 'uindidiive Wrath in God, as ufually breaks
forth in great Princes, when a Revolt is
made, againft their fovereign Authority.

What a paltry Logic, to fay, God is
Highteoiifnefs and Jtijiicej as well as Love^
and therefore his Love cannot help, or
forgive the Sinner, till his Juftice, or righ-
teous Wrath has Satisfaction ? — Every Word
here, is in full Ignorance of the Things
fpoken of. For what is Love in God, but
his Will to all Goodnefs ? What is Righ^
teoiifnefs in God, but his unchangeable Love
of his own Good?iefSy his ImpoJJibility of lo-
ving any thing elfe but it, his Impoffibi-
lity of fuffering any thing that is Un-
righteous, to have any Communion with
him ? What is God's forgivifig finful Man ?
It is nothing elfe in its whole Nature, but
God's making him Righteous again. There
is no other Forgivenefs of Sin, but being
made free from it. Therefore the com-
paffionate Lovo of God, that forgives Sin,
is no other, than God's Love of his own

Righ -

L E T T E R IV. 70

Righteouf?iefs, for the Sake of which, and

Online LibraryWilliam LawA collection of letters on the most interesting and important subjects, and on several occasions. → online text (page 4 of 24)