By Ralph Erskine
Arguments and encouragements to Gospel Ministers to avoid a legal strain of doctrine, and endeavour the sinner’s match with CHRIST by gospel-means.
SECTION I. – A legal SPIRIT the root of damnable Errors.
YE heralds great, that blow in name of God
The silver trump of gospel-grace abroad;
And sound by warrant from the great I AM,
The nuptial treaty with the worthy Lamb,
Might ye but stoop th' unpolish'd muse to brook,
And from a shrub an wholesome berry pluck;
Ye’d take encouragement from what is said,
By gospel-means to make the marriage-bed,
And to your glorious Lord a virgin chaste to wed.
The more proud nature bears a legal sway,
The more should preachers bend the gospel-way:
Oft in the church arise destructive schisms
From anti-evangelic aphorisms;
A legal spirit may be justly nam'd
The fertile womb of ev'ry error damn'd.
Hence Pop'ry, so connat'ral since the fall,
Makes legal works like saviours merit all;
Yea, more than merit on their shoulder loads,
To supererogate like demi-gods.
Hence proud Socinians seat their reason high
‘Bove ev’ry precious gospel mystery,
Its divine Author stab, and without fear
The purple covert of his chariot tear.
With these run Arian monsters in a line,
All gospel-truth at once to undermine!
To darken and delete, like hellish foes,
The brightest colour of the Sharon Rose.
At best its human red they but decry
That blot the divine white, the native dye.
Hence dare Arminians too, with brazen face,
Give man’s free will the throne of God’s free grace;
Whose self-exalting tenets clearly shew
Great ignorance of law and gospel too.
Hence Neonomians spring, as sundry call
The new law-makers to redress our fall.
The law of works, into repentance, faith,
Is chang’d, as their Baxterian bible saith.
Shaping the gospel to an easy law,
They build their tott’ring house with hay and straw;
Yet hide, like Rachel’s idols in the stuff,
Their legal hands within a gospel muff.
Yea, hence springs Antinomian vile refuse,
Whose gross abettors gospel grace abuse;
Unskill’d how grace’s silken latchet binds
Her captives to the law with willing minds.