Sunday, August 19, 2012

Charles Simeon, Exhortation to Holiness not antithetical to the Gospel and Grace

Charles Simeon offers some sober warnings about a carelessness in how some preachers teach about the Gospel and grace, in relation to holiness and obedience.

How deluded they are who rest in Christian principles, without aspiring after Christian attainments— Such there have been in every age of the Church. Not that the Gospel has in itself any tendency to create such characters; but the corruption of men’s hearts will take occasion from the Gospel to foster sentiments, which are, in reality, subversive of its most fundamental truths. 

Many regard all exhortations to holiness as legal: yea, there are not wanting some who will maintain, that Christ, having fulfilled the law for us, has absolved us from all obligation to obey it in any of its commands. They affirm that it is cancelled, not only as a covenant of works, but as a rule of life. They profess, that the sanctification of Christ is imputed to us, precisely as his righteousness is; and that we need no personal holiness, because we have a sufficient holiness in him. 

Horrible beyond expression are such sentiments as these: and how repugnant they are to those contained in our text, it is needless to observe. That some who advance these sentiments are externally moral, and often benevolent, must be confessed: (if any be truly pious, it is not by means of these principles, but in spite of them:) but the great body of them, with, it is to be feared, but few exceptions, bear the stamp of their unchristian principles in their whole spirit and conduct. 

The whole family of them may be distinguished by the following marks. 

They are full of pride and conceit, imagining that none can understand the Gospel but themselves. Such is their confidence in their own opinions, that they seem to think it impossible that they should err. 

They are dogmatical in the extreme, laying down the law for every one, and expecting all to bow to their judgment: and so contemptuous are they, that they speak of all as blind and ignorant who presume to differ from them. 

Their irreverent manner of treating the great mysteries of our religion is also most offensive; they speak of them with a most unhallowed familiarity, as though they were common things: and so profane are they, that they hesitate not. to sneer at the very word of God itself, whenever it militates against their favourite opinions. “By these fruits ye shall know them;” and by these fruits ye may judge of their principles. 

True indeed, with their errors they bring forth much that is sound and good: but this only renders their errors the more palatable and the more delusive. They altogether vitiate the taste of the religious world, and indispose them for all practical instruction. They so exclusively set forth what may be called “the strong meat” of the Gospel, as to withhold all “milk” from the household of our God. In a word, they promote nothing but spiritual intoxication, and banish from the Church all spiritual sobriety.

1 comment:

Wesley said...

Great thoughts. Surely our sanctification is synergistic and not monergistic as our justification is.