by Robert Traill
A VINDICATION OF THE PROTESTANT DOCTRINE CONCERNING JUSTIFICATION, AND OF ITS PREACHERS AND PROFESSORS, FROM THE UNJUST CHARGE OF ANTINOMIANISM. IN A LETTER FROM THE AUTHOR TO A MINISTER IN THE COUNTRY.
A middle way between the Arminians and the Orthodox had been espoused, and strenuously defended, and promoted by some Nonconformists of great note for piety and parts; and usually such men that are for middle ways in points of doctrine, have a greater kindness for that extreme they go half-way to, than for that which they go half-way from...The subject of the controversy is about the justifying grace of God in Jesus Christ. It is owned by both; and both fear it will be abused: either by turning it into wantonness — hence the noise about Antinomianism; or by corrupting it with the mixture of works — hence the fears on the other side, about Arminianism. Both parties disown the name cast upon them. The one will not be called Arminians: and the other hates both the name and the thing of Antinomianism truly so-called. Both sometimes say the same thing, and profess their assent to the doctrinal articles of the Church of England, to the Confession of Faith and Catechisms composed at Westminster, and to the Harmony of the Confessions of all the reformed churches, in these doctrines of grace. And, if both are candid in this profession, it is very strange that there should be any controversy among them.
Let us therefore, first, take a view of the parties themselves, and then of their principles. As to the party suspected of Antinomianism and Libertinism in this city, it is plain that the churches in which they are concerned, are more strict and exact in testing those who offer themselves to their communion (as to their faith and holiness) before admitting them; in the engagements laid on them at their admission, as to gospel-walking; and in their oversight of them afterwards. As to their conversations,1 they are generally of the more regular and exact frame; and the fruits of holiness in their lives, to the praise of God and honour of the gospel, cannot with modesty be denied. Is it not inexplicable to charge a people with licentiousness, when the chargers cannot deny, and some cannot well bear, the strictness of their walk? It is commonly said that it is only their principles, and their tendency to loose-walking, that they blame. But waving that at present, it does not seem fair to charge a people with licentious doctrines, when those who profess those doctrines are approved of for their godliness; and when they sincerely profess that their godliness began with, and is promoted by, the faith of their principles.