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An appendix upon occasion of a late book published by Mr Joshua Sprigge,4242 Mr Sprigge, after having been educated at Oxford, took the degree of M. A. at Edinburgh. He became a preacher at St Mary, Aldermanbury, and subsequently at St Pancras, London. After the Restoration he purchased an estate, Crayford, in Kent, and lived there in retirement. He married in 1673, Frances, the daughter of Lord Wimbledon, and widow of Lord Say. He returned to London and died at Highgate. He was the author of some political works, “Anglia Rediviva,” a folio volume, containing the history of the army under Fairfax, and published in 1647; and “Certain Considerations tendered to the Consideration of the High Court of Justice for Trial of the King,” 1648. His theological works are chiefly sermons. It is rather strange that Owen never indicates the title of the work by Sprigge on which he is animadverting; and Mr Orme mentions that he had not ascertained to which of Sprigge’s works our author refers. It was, however, a collection of five sermons which Sprigge had delivered at St Pancras, and which were published under the title of, “A Testimony to Approaching Glory.” Anthony Wood affirms that they contained “several blasphemies;” and they drew forth some pamphlets, besides this Appendix of Owen, in exposure of their errors. Two of these pamphlets, published in 1652, bore the titles, “The Beacons Quenched,” and “The Beacons Flaming.” — Ed. containing erroneous doctrine.
I do earnestly entreat thy serious perusal of this short appendix. The total finishing and printing, not only of the body of the discourse, but also the preface, before occasion was given to those thoughts which I now desire to communicate, is the rise of this ataxy. This, being irrecoverable, will admit of no farther apology. In the third division of this treatise there are sundry chapters, namely, vii.–ix., etc., about the satisfaction of Christ, in which the doctrine is cleared and vindicated from the objections of some. The first aim I had therein was, to show the inconsistency of that with the general ransom, principally now opposed. In handling of it my eye was chiefly on the Socinians, the noted known opposers of the person, grace, and merit of Christ, the most wretched prevaricators in Christian religion which any age ever yet produced. In the manner of asserting it, I looked not beside the scriptural proposal of it, nor turned to any controversials, but only for the remarking some παρορᾶματα and (I fear wilful) failings and mistakes of Grotius,4343 Lib. de Satisfac. Christi. Vos. Def. Grot. alii. in stating this business. His wretched apostasy into the very dregs of the error by himself (in the judgment of some) strongly opposed, sufficiently authorizeth any to lay open his treacherous dealing in his first undertaking. If any doubt of this, let him but compare the exposition of sundry texts of Scripture in that book against Socinus with those which the same person hath since given in his so much admired (indeed, in very many things, so much to be abhorred) Annotations on the Bible; and, by their inconsistency he will quickly perceive the steadfastness of that man to his first principles. Great as he was, he was not big enough to contend with truth. Moreover, I had it in my thoughts to endeavour the removal of (as I then thought) a scruple from the minds of some well-meaning persons, who weakly apprehend that the eternal love of God to his elect was inconsistent with the satisfaction of Christ, and therefore began to apprehend, and instantly to divulge abroad (for that is the manner of our days, for every one to cast upon others the crudities of their own stomach, and scatter abroad undigested conceptions, waiting for some to lick their deformed issues, and to see what other 426capricious brains can make of that which themselves know not how to improve) that Christ came only to declare the love of the Father, and to make it manifest to us, that we, in the apprehension thereof, might be drawn to him; so that as for satisfaction and merit, they are but empty names, obscuring the gospel, which holds out no such things. Now, concerning this I know, —
1. That this new-named free grace, this glorious height and attainment, this varnished deity, was at first in its original “truncus ficulnus,” — an old, rotten, overworn, Arminian objection, raised out of the obs. and sols. of the old schoolmen, to oppose the doctrine of effectual redemption by Christ, or else to overthrow the doctrine of eternal election; for they framed it to look both ways (either we are not so chosen, or not so redeemed), not caring which part of their work it did, so it were in any measure useful. This was the birth and rise of this glorious discovery.
2. That of its own accord it tends to the very bottom of Socinian folly, yea, indeed, is the very same opinion, for substance, with that whereby they have so long vexed the churches of God, and are themselves deservedly by them all esteemed accursed, for preaching another gospel. Doth not the sum of this discovery come hither, that there is no vindicative justice in God, no wrath or anger against sin, nothing requiring satisfaction for it; that Christ came to declare this, and to make known the way of going to the Father? And is not this that very Helena for which the Socinians have, with so much fraud and subtlety, with so many Sinonian arts, so long contended?
3. That it is extremely to the dishonour of Jesus Christ, destructive to the gospel faith and all solid consolation, and forces men either to a familistical contempt or sophistical corrupting of the word of God in its defence.
Upon these and the like considerations and apprehensions, I deemed it might not be in vain to disprove the main assertion, as also to manifest the miserable inconsequence, from the asserting of God’s eternal love to the denial of satisfaction; which in what manner the Lord enabled me to perform, you must know, reader, in the place above mentioned. At that time I had only had one conference with one about it; and for books I had only seen some few, and those so exceedingly inconsiderable, and so fully familistical, forced with so much contempt of the word, that I was not willing to cast away the least moment on them.
But now, some few days ago (to come to the occasion of this appendix), there came to my hands a book written by Mr Sprigge who, both in his preface to the reader and in divers passages in the treatise itself, labours to commend to the world this glorious discovery, that Christ did not purchase, but only preach, peace unto us; that he came only to reveal and declare the love of God, not to procure it; that we only are reconciled to God by him, which he proves from Rom. v. 11; that no reconciliation with God is procured; that this discovery, and the like, are that which we have prayed for all this while. — Preface to the Reader. So also in many places of the treatise itself, pp. 65, 101. Indeed, everywhere it is his main scope. He bids us not think the heart of God was set upon the having a little blood (see Eph. v. 2) for the sins of his people, p. 59. These things are but pleasant tales and childish things to allure us withal, p. 46. In short, one main aim of the book is to make the whole ministration of Christ to be the discovery of a mystery nowhere revealed in the word.
It is not my purpose here to view the whole, or to separate the chaff from the wheat in it, to distinguish between the spiritual truths and smoky vapours that are interwoven in it, but only to cautionate the reader a little about that one thing I before intimated, with some brief expostulations about it.
Only let me inform thee a little, also, that my motive hereunto is not only from the book itself, but also from the pretended “imprimatur” annexed to it. The truth itself, in opposition to this dangerous notion (with a discovery of the whole 427fallacy), thou wilt find sufficiently confirmed from the Scripture in the foregoing treatise; and Christians will not easily, I hope, be shaken from the truth of the word by any pretended revelations whatsoever. Only, whereas 4444 The reverend licenser being informed of this book of Mr Sprigge, disclaimeth the licensing of any more thereof than that Sermon on Cant. i. 1.tantum nomen (as is that of the reverend and learned licenser) is (I know not whether duly) affixed to the treatise I speak of, until he shall have vindicated himself, lest it should insinuate itself by the help of his name into others (as upon that score, without farther view, it was left with commendation by myself in the hand wherein I first saw it), I desire to give thee these few observations here as a foretaste, reserving thee for full satisfaction unto what is held out from the word herein in the foregoing treatise.
First, then, observe that that absurd consequence, deduced from this position, that Christ is not the cause but the effect of love, — namely, ergo, he did not purchase life, peace, and salvation for us, — flows merely from ignorance of the love of God, and confounding those things which ought to be distinguished. Some look upon love in God as an unchangeable affection, when the truth is, as an affection or passion, it hath no place in God at all. All agree that love in spirits, yea partly in men, is in appetitu intellectivo, in the will, the intellectual appetite; and there defined to be θέλειν τινὶ τὸ ἀγαθόν, “to will good to any one.” Certainly, then, in God his love is but a pure act of his will. That love which was the cause of sending his Son is, I say, an act of his will, his good pleasure, — not a natural affection to the creature. No such affection is there in God, as I have abundantly proved in this treatise. Now, this love, this act of God’s will, was not purchased, not procured by Christ. Very true; who ever was so mad as to affirm it? Can a temporal thing be the cause of that which is eternal? This is not at all the sense of them who affirm that Christ procured the love of his Father for us. No; but the effects of this purpose, the fruits of this love, commonly called in the Scripture love, as affections are ascribed to God in respect of their effects. Now, that Christ purchased these for us, see afterward. This eternal act of God’s will, this love, which was the rise of sending Jesus Christ, tended to his glory in these two acts:— first, The removing of wrath, death, curse, guilt, from them for whom he was sent, by satisfaction to his vindicative justice; secondly, The actual procuring of grace and glory for them, by merit and impetration. These things, though they are not the love of God, which is immanent in himself, yet they are those alone whereby we enjoy his love, and are purchased by Christ; which here I must not prove, lest I should actum agere.
Secondly, An eternal act of God’s will, immanent in himself, puts no change of condition into the creature. See what the Scripture says of the elect notwithstanding this, Eph. ii. 3; John iii. 36. Let not the word be despised nor corrupted. Be not wise above what is written. “Though an angel,” etc., Gal. i. 8. Until he draws us, the fruit of his death is kept for us in the justice and fidelity of God.
Thirdly, These things being premised, to clear the truth in this point, I desire a fair and candid answer to these queries:—
First, What is the meaning of that phrase, Heb. ii. 17, Εἰς τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ λαοῦ, “To make reconciliation for the sins of the people,” and this being done as a priest towards God, Heb. v. 1, — whether the meaning of it be declared love from God to man?
Secondly, Is not the end of sundry typical sacrifices to make an atonement with God on their behalf for whom they were sacrifices? Exod. xxix. 33, 36, xxx. 10, 15, 16; Lev. vi. 7; Numb. xvi. 46, and very many other places; — and whether this were to turn away the wrath of God, or to reconcile men to him?
Thirdly, Is not the death of Christ a proper sacrifice? Eph. v. 2; Heb. ix. 26, 28; John i. 29; the antitype of all sacrifices, in which they have their accomplishment? 428And did it not really effect what they carnally and typically figured? Heb. ix. 11–14, etc., x. 1–7, etc. And was it not offered to God?
Fourthly, Was not Jesus Christ a priest for his people, in their behalf to deal with God, Heb. ii. 17, v. 1, 2, vii. 26, 27; as well as a prophet, to deal with them in the behalf of God? and whether the acts of his priestly office do not all of them immediately tend towards God for the procuring good things for those in whose behalf he is a priest?
Sixthly, Did not Christ, by and in the oblation of himself, through the eternal Spirit, pay a ransom, or valuable price of redemption, into the hand of his Father for the sins of the people? Matt. xxvi. 28; Mark x. 45; 1 Tim. ii. 6; Eph. v. 2; Job xxxiii. 24. And whether a ransom be a price of deliverance, arguing a commutation? Exod. xxi. 30, xxx. 12. Or whether Christ paid a ransom to his Father for the souls and sins of his people, thereby to declare to his people that there was no need of any such thing? And what think you of the old saying of Tertullian, “Omnia in imagines vertunt, imaginarii ipsi Christiani?”
Seventhly, Did not Christ in his death bear our sins? John i. 29; 1 Pet. ii. 24; Isa. liii. 6, 11; 2 Cor. v. 21. And whether to bear sin in the Scripture be not to bear the punishment due to sin? Lev. v. 1, etc. And is not to undergo the punishment due to sin, to make satisfaction for sin?
Eighthly, Did not Christ, as our surety, undergo all that is anywhere threatened against sin, and by the justice of God is due unto it? Heb. vii. 22, iv. 15; Gal. iii. 13; 2 Cor. v. 21; Heb. v. 7; Luke xxii. 44, etc.
Tenthly, Seeing that place of Rom. v. 11, “By whom we have now received the atonement,” is urged to disprove the purchase of peace and reconciliation with God for us, whether by “the atonement” there be meant our reconciliation to God? and whether it be proper to say we have received or accepted of our conversion or reconciliation?
Eleventhly, Whether to affirm that all that was done in and by Christ was but a sign and representation of what is done spiritually in us, be not to overthrow the first promise, Gen. iii. 15, yea, the whole gospel, and to make it, as it is called, a “childish thing?”
Twelfthly, Whether it be fair and allowable, for men professing the name of Christ, in the trial of truth, to decline the word of God? And whether such declension be not an invincible demonstration of a guilt of falsehood? Deut. iv. 2, xii. 32; Josh. i. 7; Ps. xix. 7; Prov. xxx. 6; Isa. viii. 20; Luke i. 4, xvi. 29; John v. 39, xx. 30, 31; Gal. i. 8, 9; 2 Thess. ii. 2; 1 Tim. vi. 20; 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17; 2 Pet. i. 19, etc.
Thus much, courteous reader, I thought good to premise unto thee, though something out of order, upon the discovery of a new opposition made to a precious truth of God, which thou wilt find explained and asserted in the foregoing treatise; and this liberty I hope I have assumed without the offence of any. It is not about trifles that I contend (I abhor such ways), but for the faith once delivered to the saints. Now, “Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.”
Coggeshall, April 25, 1648.
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