Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Against Popery, by Thomas Watson, pt. 3

Objection. But they say, God crowns our works, ergo they merit.
Answer. God (to speak after the manner of men) keeps two Courts, a Court of Justice, and a Court of Mercy: In his Court of Justice, nothing may come but Christ’s Merits; but in the Court of Mercy, our works may come. Nay, let me tell you, God in free grace crowns those works in the Court of Mercy, which he condemned in the Court of Justice. Now that we do not, nor cannot merit by our good works, I will prove by a threefold argument, and this threefold cord will not easily be broken.

First of all, (and I beseech you mind it) that which merits at God’s hand, must be a gift we give to him, and not a debt we owe to him. Now whatever we can do for, or give unto God, it is but a just and due debt.

2. He who would merit at God’s hand, must give God something overplus: But alas, if we cannot give God the principal, how shall we give him the interest? If we cannot give him his due, how can we give him overplus?

3. He who would merit any thing at God’s hand, must offer that to him that is perfect: But alas, can we give God any thing that is perfect? are not our best Offerings fly-blown with pride and corruption?

Beloved, Woe to the holiest man alive, if God weighs him in the Balance of the Sanctuary and do not allow him some grains. I conclude this with that saying of Ambrose, Good Works are the way to but not the cause of Salvation. Therefore when you have done all, say you are unprofitable servants. [Luke 17.10.]

There is no Angel can merit (for he chargeth them with folly [Job 4.18,]) much less vile and sinful man. Therefore count all your own Righteousness but as dung and dogs meat. In a word, rely not on your own merits, put the crown on the head of Free-grace. That’s the eighth.

Ninthly, The ninth Error in the Popish Religion is, the Doctrine of Purgatory. There is, say they, a middle and infernal place, called Purgatory. Now what is this but a subtle artifice and trick to get money? for when they (especially those that are rich) are about to die and make Wills, if so be they will give large sums of money, the Priests will pray for them that they go not into Purgatory; or if they do, that they may be quickly delivered out of it. How contrary and repugnant is this to Scripture, that holds forth no Middle place?

The wicked when they die, their Souls go immediately to Hell, Luke 16.23, The rich man was buried, and in hell he lift up his eyes.

’Tis true there is a Purgatory in this life, and that is the Blood of Christ, 1 John 1.17, If we are not purged by this blood, while we live, we shall never be purged after by fire. Wicked men, when they die, do not go into a fire of purgation but damnation.

And, on the other hand, Believers when they die pass immediately to Heaven, Luke 23.43, This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. Christ Jesus was now on the Cross, and was instantly to be in Heaven; and the penitent Thief was immediately to be with Christ: Here is no mention of any such place as Purgatory. The ancient and Orthodox Fathers were all against Purgatory; as Chrysostom, Cyprian, Augustine, Fulgentius.

Tenthly, A tenth Error is, the Invocation of Angels, a praying unto them. This is a certain rule, that Angel-worship is Will-worship, expressly forbidden in Scripture, Col. 2.18.

Their distinction of Mediators, of Redemption, and of Intercession, doth not help them; Though we pray (say they) to Angels as Mediators of Intercession, yet we pray to Christ as Mediator of Redemption.

Answer. Jesus Christ in Scripture is not only called a Redeemer, but also an Advocate: and it is a sin to make any our Intercessor but Jesus Christ. That it is sinful to pray to Angels, is clear from many Scriptures: See Rom. 5.10, How shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? Mark, we may not pray to any but them in whom we believe: But we cannot believe an Angel, therefore we must not pray to an Angel.1 So also in Heb. 10.17, Having therefore boldness to enter into the holiest by the Blood of Jesus; He only is to be prayed unto, by whom we have entrance into the Holiest: but it is by Jesus Christ that we enter into the holiest; therefore it is only Jesus Christ that we must pray unto. That is the tenth.

11ly. An eleventh Error is, Their Worshipping of Images; they burn {} Incense before the Image, which is a Divine worship unto the Image. Now this is directly contrary to the very letter of the Command, Exod. 20.4,5. Image-worship, and Idol-worship are terms synonimical. God saith of Idols, that they speak Vanity, Zach. 10.2. And is it not a vain thing to worship those things that are vain, and that speak vanities? None can draw the picture of a Spirit, who then [can] draw the Picture of him who is the Father of spirits? This Opinion of Image-worship hath been condemned and exploded by several Councils and Synods.

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