Knowledge of our Interest in Christ

William Cudworth

Originally Printed In 1745

Posted On May 27, 2018

Some Reasons against making the use of Marks and Evidences, in order to attain the Knowledge of our Interest in Christ.

It would appear from his own brief biographical account published in 1754, that Mr. Cudworth having spent his youth popping in and out of various stages of impressionable sentiments that would suggest that the Lord was inclining his affections towards the truths of the Gospel, would in his nineteenth year happen upon a book by Thomas Shepard, entitled the Sincere Convert, which seemed to be an instrument in the hand of the Lord to bring him to a measure of perception regarding the free grace of God, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. He says, “I never ‘till now saw any need of the Righteousness of Christ, nor did I understand anything about it; I used to say, through Christ, at end of my prayers, but without any meaning at all.” After visiting various Meeting Houses, where the Gospel of Grace & Christ were allegedly being preached, he was brought to the conclusion that “I had quite another sense of things than I could find amongst any that I conversed with, or could gather from any sermon that I had heard.” Continuing in the way his thoughts were beginning to be more and more engaged in heavenly truths, “whereas before I had no religious taste, now I had a taste for nothing else; the hopes and belief I had, that the Lord had begun this good work, would unquestionably carry it on.” After four or five years thus spent in various stages of rest and unrest, and finding his spiritual state rather made worse than better, he resolved in this extremity to hear the Calvinistic Methodist John Cennick who was preaching at Whitefield’s Tabernacle in Moorfields from the words of Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” He relates how he became “convinced under the Word that there was some very great defect in my Experience, but could not tell wherein, until I was coming home, when, in a moment, God, who commanded the Light to shine out of darkness, shinned in my heart in the discovery of free salvation, and I perceived as clearly, as ever I did the Sun at Noon-Day, that until that moment I had never come to Christ by a direct Act of Faith, that I had never took believing, for believing, but rather a compound of good qualifications, which I called by the name of Faith, and under the specious pretense of seeking for Faith, I always sought to establish a righteousness of my own, which I called by the name of Faith, that I had accounted real Faith Presumption, and neglected Receiving and Resting upon Jesus Christ alone for Salvation, as he was declared to me in the Gospel. Now I was convinced by the Spirit {the Comforter} of Sin, because I had not believed on Christ, whereas before I was only convinced of Sin on other accounts, and I rather judged unbelief as humility, and my duty rather than my Sin; and the consequence was, I believed, and the God of Hope filled me with all Joy and Peace in believing.” In another place he reflects upon this time, in the following words, “after four or five years spent in seeking the salvation of God, I was persuaded and enabled by the Spirit of God to come to Christ, by a direct act of Faith, as a lost sinner; and that the God of hope filled me with all joy and peace in believing, that the effect was answerable to the Faith, and proved itself to be of God; that I found it correspond with the Scripture descriptions and declarations concerning Faith; and that I found it gave the greatest glory to God, as well as brought the most comfort and strength to my own soul, of anything I had hitherto experienced.” After many trials and not a few difficulties, he was fitted for the ministry of the Gospel, and commenced preaching to a little flock at Grey Eagle Street Chapel in Spitalfields, London, where soon thereafter he met with that manner of opposition which becometh every faithful minister of Christ, being accused, amongst other things, of harboring sentiments which tended towards Antinomianism. He states, “Mr. Whitefield being gone to Georgia, the storm that was gathering broke out upon me. I was informed, one Monday afternoon, that I was that night to be turned out of the Conference for an Antinomian in doctrine. When all the Conference were assembled, I was accused by one or two, but as they were puzzled how to lay a charge against me, I proposed to make a frank confession of all my particular sentiments, and if they adjudged any of them to be Antinomianism, they should write it down in the paper, pin it on my back, and I would go forth from them all, thankful, that I was counted worthy to suffer for the Truth’s sake. I accordingly made my confession, and as particular as possible, for my heart was then filled with zeal for God and his Truth. As soon as I had finished, Mr. Cennick with uncommon energy declared that what I said was the Truth, and he would seal it with his own blood; and as he was of the same mind, he looked upon these proceedings to be as much leveled against himself as me. This sudden turn put all the Conference in a consternation!” The end of his days were spent between London and Norwich, ministering to a small flock gathered there, they having further proof of the soundness of his doctrine, and the blessing which attended the word. To them he appealed, “together with the flock at London, as the most proper witnesses of these things, against all gainsayers,” to the soundness of his ministry in Christ.

During his lifetime he wrote and extracted a few of the following works: Some Observations Concerning a Church of Christ --- Some Reasons against Making Use of Marks and Evidences, &c., in order to attain our knowledge of an interest in Christ --- Truth Defended, and Cleared from Mistakes and Misrepresentations, &c. --- A Dialogue between a Preacher of God’s Righteousness, and a Preacher of Inherent Righteousness. --- A Second Dialogue between a Preacher of God’s Righteousness, and a Preacher of Inherent Righteousness. --- A Copy of a Letter Sent to One Under Sentence of Death. --- Man’s Righteousness No Cause or Part of his Justification. --- Salvation Only by God’s Grace, being an extract from the writings of John Simpson. --- Salvation Only by Believing, being another extract from the writings of John Simpson. --- Justification by Christ Alone, extracted from the writings of Samuel Richardson. --- The Discovery of the Most Dangerous Dead Faith, extracted from the writings of John Eaton. --- Abraham’s Steps of Faith, wherein is set forth the true faith of the children of God, extracted from the writings of John Eaton.