Collected Writings

Henry Denne

Originally Printed In 1640 - 1646

Posted On Dec. 24, 2016

Collected Writings of Henry Denne: Containing Grace, Mercy & Peace. 1640. Doctrine and Conversation of John the Baptist, Delivered in a Sermon. 1641. Seven Arguments to Prove, that in order of Working God doth justify his Elect before they do Actually Believe. 1643. Conference Between a Sick Man and a Minister of Christ. 1643. Man of Sin Discovered. 1646. By Henry Denne.

Denne was accused, along with Samuel Richardson, Tobias Crisp & Robert Towne of Antinomianism; chiefly on account of the fact that he contended most enthusiastically for the truth that Christ’s righteousness is made ours by God’s imputation “before the act of our Faith.” Faith or Repentance were not conditions of salvation or justification; as he maintained that “the act of our faith is a consequent of our justification,” and likewise that “remission of sins is even as ancient as satisfaction for sin and at what time Christ Jesus taketh our sins upon Himself, at the same time are the persons of God’s elect just before the Tribunal of Almighty God.” This is a collection of five of his earliest, and most substantial writings, along with a brief biographical sketch.

Two Excerpts: Thus you see the office of your faith and works. Because we say that God loves us as well before conversion as after, do we therefore make faith and works void? God forbid! Must I needs put out my fire, because I will not set it on the top of the house? No, I will keep it within the chimney, which is the proper place. Woe be to that City, where the fire shall overtop the houses, for fire is precious in the chimney, but dangerous elsewhere. Precious is the gift of faith, if kept within its own sphere; but if we shall begin to lift it up, and place it in the throne of Christ, what fire more dangerous to the soul? The Brazen Serpent was a great blessing so long as Israel looked at it by God's appointment, to be healed of the bites of the fiery serpents; but when once Israel shall burn incense unto it, let it be Nehushtan, a piece of old cankered brass. II Kings 18:4.

In the first place, we will observe the difference between the true religion and the false, from that which hath been spoken. There are many religions in the world, and it fareth with diversities of religions as with diversities of opinions; there is a possibility that they may be all false, but it is altogether impossible that they should be all true. There is but one true Religion, but there are many false; the false Religions seeming to differ exceedingly amongst themselves, in very many things even in the object of worship, and in the matter, and manner; yet be they never so different, there is one common foundation, wherein they do all agree, and wherein they differ from the true. The true Religion declares unto us a God in chief reconciled, pacified, pleased, a justice already satisfied, a propitiation made, sins taken away; and we have not one jot, not one apex in all the new Covenant to be found of reconciliation to God. The new Covenant manifesting unto us a God already reconciled to us, and the whole ministry of reconciliation propounding our reconciliation to God. Now this is the common character of all false religions of what sort whatsoever, Jews, Turks, Papists, Pharisaical Protestants, Heathen; yea all propound to some degree or other, an angry God, a deity not reconciled, and then prescribe certain means and services whereby to appease his wrath, and to quench his displeasure, and to obtain his love and favor. Man does not oftener seek after salvation, but he naturally stumbles upon this principle, “what shall I do to be saved?” The world would be saved by doing. Luther speaking of this difference, does more than once compare the false religions unto Sampson’s foxes, Judges 15:4; their heads looking divers ways, but they were all fastened together by the tails. This comparison we do embrace; yet I had rather compare them to gentlemen’s spaniels, which are fastened together by the necks, but loose at the tails. They differ indeed in some circumstances, but in the main substance they agree in one. Do we not see some men contending with the Papists, with wonderful eagerness? Do we not see others tugging, and halting, one this way, the other another, one for this ceremony, and another for that, as though there were a mortal difference between them; yea the difference so great, that it is sometimes the greatest reason for one side to refute this or that because the other uses it. Now he that shall search into the innermost secrets of these antagonists, shall find, them that so eagerly differ about circumstance, {who could have believed it,} to agree in substance. Like ships that sail in the sea a great way asunder, yet all tending to one haven. All tending to this end, to win or obtain the favor of an angry God. This that hath been spoken may prove a help to administer a spirit of discernment unto the simple, in these distracted times, wherein the Commonwealth is not more distracted than the Church. Now among so many diversities of opinions, how shall we know which is the old and the good way, that we may walk in it? One saith I am Christ, another nay, but I am Christ; for thy direction, search for that religion that abases man, that giveth the glory of grace to God; that propoundeth the free love of God in Jesus Christ, without mixture of anything in the creature, that is the true religion, all the rest are false; that is the true way, and strait line, all the rest are counterfeits, and crooked. This is the first application. The second application is to correct our idolatrous thoughts and judgments, that we have had of God. What foolish fancies have possessed our souls? How often have we thought God to be like unto ourselves? How many times have we imagined an angry God, a wrathful Majesty, and have sought to appease his indignation by fasting, by prayer, by alms, by tears, and such like things? Oh, foolish man! If God’s wrath should not be before appeased, what creature could stand in his sight? Do we not see when some lion-like man is incensed, the whole house trembles, not one servant, no not a son dares come into his presence, before his wrath be over? If we so fear the unjust wrath of man, how terrible would the just wrath of consuming fire be? What great presumption were it for the creature to come into his presence, if his wrath were not appeased? We complain of idolatry crept into our unhappy nation. We complain of bowing, of cringing, of crossing, and many such {Popish} fopperies. Search we, I beseech you, if idolatry have not hitherto crept into your hearts, if you have not set up a great idol, and bowed unto that image, with all it worships. Learn to make clean the inside as well as the outside of the cup. Learn to banish out of the soul those foolish and vain conceits; learn to see the glory of the face of God in Christ, and to worship him in spirit and in truth. There cannot be a greater idolatry committed than to conceive a possibility of gaining the love and favor of God, by works wrought in the creature. This is as great an idol as that which was set up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon, threescore cubits high. Daniel.3:1. This is the Beast that hath made the whole earth to partake of her fornications.