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REV. JOHN FLETCHER,
Vicar of Madeley, Shropshire.
PUBLISHED AND SOLD BY S. THORNE,
PROSPECT-PLACE, SHEBBEAR, NEAR HATHERLEIGH; ALSO BY ALL THE ITIN-
BY J. STEPHENS, 153, FLEET STREET, AND A. NORTHCROFT, 96,
AN EQUAL CHECK
PHARISAISM AND ANTINOMIANISM CONTINUED:
BEING THE FIRST PART OF THE
To weigh the Gold of Gospel-Truth;-To balance a multitude of opposite Scriptures;-To prove the Gospel-Marriage of FREE-GRACE and FREEWILL:-And restore primitive Harmony to the Gospel of the day. WITH A PREFACE,
Containing some Strictures upon the Three Letters of Richard Hill, Esq., which have been lately Published.
BY A LOVER OF THE WHOLE TRUTH AS IT IS IN JESUS.
"How is the most fine Gold changed!-Take heed that ye be not deceived: For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ" doctrinal: "I am Christ," moral:-But, “To the Law, and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no Light in them," [or at least because] their "Wine is mixed with water, and their Silver is, [partly] become dross."-BIBLE.
Ir is the Author's desire, that the following pages should be considered as written for all those whom they exactly suit. And in order to this, he informs the reader, that in general,
Zelotes,-represents any zealous solifidian, who, through prejudice, looks upon
the doctrine of Free-will as heretical.
Honestus,―any zealous moralist, who, through prejudice also, looks upon the doctrine of Free-grace, as enthusiastical.
Lorenzo,―any man of sense, yet unsettled in his religious principles.
Candidus, any unprejudiced enquirer after Truth, who hates bigotry, and would be glad to see the differences among Protestants settled upon rational and scriptural terms.
A Solifidian is one who maintains that we are completely and eternally saved [sola fide] by sole faith,―by faith alone; and who does it in so unscriptural a manner as to make good works unnecessary to eternal salvation; representing the Law of Christ as a mere rule of life: and calling Legalists, Pharisees, or Heretics, all those who consider that law as a Rule of Judgment,
THE Author of the Checks has promised to his readers an answer to the Rev. Mr. Toplady's piece, entitled, More Work for John Wesley. His reason for postponing the finishing of that part of his Logica Genevensis, was the importance of the Equal Check, which closes the controversy with Mr. Hill. He saw life so uncertain, that, of two things which he was obliged to do, he thought it his duty to set about that which appeared to him the more useful. He considered also, that it was proper to have quite done with Mr. Hill, before he faced so able a writer as Mr. Toplady. And he hoped, that to lay before the judicious a complete system of truth, which like the sun, recommends itself by its own lustre, was perhaps the best method to prove that error, which shines only as a meteor, is nothing but a mock-sun: However he fully designs to perform his engagement in a short time, if his life be spared.
Madeley, November 12th, 1774.
A PREFATORY EPISTLE, &c.
TO THE TRUE PROTESTANTS
IN GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND.
Containing some remarks upon the distinguish ing character of the true Protestants, and upon the contrary disposition.-True Protes tants are chosen judges of the Doctrines advanced in this book.-A sketch of the Author's Plan.-Observations upon the manner in which it is executed.-General directions to the Reader.-True Protestants are encouraged to protest against religious absurdities, and unscriptural impositions: The Author enters a double protest against the Antinomian and Pharisaic gospels of the day;and continues to express his love and esteem for the good men, who, through the force of prejudice, espouse and defend those partial gospels.
BRETHREN AND FATHERS,
YE know how hard the Romanists fought for their errors at the time of the Reformation. They pleaded, that antiquity, synods, councils, fathers, canons, traditions, and the church were on their side: And they so obscured the truth by urging scripture-metaphors, and by quoting unguarded passages from the writings of the fathers, that thousands of simple souls knew not which of the contending parties had the truth on its side. The great question debated in those days was, whether the host, that is the bread consecrated by the priest in the Lord's supper, was to be worshipped as the identical body of our Lord. The Romanists produced Christ's own words, Take and eat, this is my body :-This is my blood; drink of it.-Except you eat my flesh and drink my blood, ye have no life in you. The Reform ers answered, That those expressions being figurative, it was absurd to take them in a literal sense; and they proved that assertion by appeals to reason, and to the scriptures, where the consecrated bread is plainly called bread. The Romanists replied, that in mat ters of faith we must set aside reason: And some of them actually decried it as the greatest enemy to faith; while others continued to produce crude quotations from all the
injudicious, inconsistent, over-doing fathers. The Reformers seeing, that at this rate, there would be no end of the controversy, protested three things in general: 1. That right reason has an important place in matters of faith: 2. That all matters of faith may, and must be decided by scripture, understood reasonably and consistently with the context: And, 3. That antiquity and fathers, traditions and councils, canons and the churches, lose their authority, when they depart from sober reason and plain scripture. These three general Protests are the very ground of our religion, when it is contradistinguished from Popery. They who stand to them deserve, in my humble opinion, the title of true Protestants: They are, at least, the only persons to whom this Epistle is inscribed.
If the preceding account is just, true Protestants are all candid; christian candour being nothing but a readiness to hear right Reason and plain Scripture. Sincerely desirous to prove all things, to hold fast that which is good, and to approve things which are excellent.
Protestants then are never afraid to bring their creed to a reasonable and scriptural test. And, conscious that the mines of natural and revealed religion are not yet exhausted, they think with the Apostle, that if any man supposes he has learned all that he should know, "he is vainly puffed up in his fleshly mind, and knows nothing yet as he ought to know."
Hence it is, that of all the tempers which true Protestants abhor, none seems to them more detestable than that of those Gnostics; those pretenders to superior illumination, who under the common pretence of orthodoxy or infallibility, shut their eyes against the light, think plain scripture beneath their notice, enter their protest against reason, steel their breast against conviction, and are so rooted in blind obstinacy, that they had rather hug Error in an old fantastic dress, than embrace the naked Truth, newly emerg. ing from under the streams of prejudice :impetuous streams these, which the dragon casts out of his mouth, that he may cause the celestial virgin, to be carried away by the flood, Rev. xii. 15. Alas! how many professors are there, who like St. Stephen's opponents, are both judges, and executioners, although neither able to resist, nor willing to admit the truth; who make their defence by stopping their ears, and crying out, the