VINDICIAE EVANGELII or A Vindication of the Gospel

Robert Lancaster

Originally Printed In 1694

Posted On Oct. 29, 2017

A Vindication of the Gospel, with the Establishment of the Law, being a reply to Mr. Steven Geree’s treatise entitled, the Doctrine of the Antinomians Confuted; wherein, he pretends to charge Divers Dangerous Doctrines on Doctor Crisp’s Sermons, as Anti-Evangelical and Antinomical.

When Tobias Crisp died of smallpox on Feb.27, 1643, at the early age of 42, his friend Robert Lancaster immediately published his sermons, which upon their arrival were soon met with fierce opposition by those who mingled Law with Gospel. Sadly, such a legalization of the Gospel, often weighing it down with diverse conditions and various pre-qualifications; in essence diluting the message of Grace, under a pretended or imaginary zeal for the ‘Reformers’ and their ‘Confessions,’ {which actually both sides laid claim to,} was met with little resistance, even amongst those who seemed to be ‘pillars’ in the ‘Church,’ eventually paving the way towards more rank Conditionalism, and ultimately Arminianism. In opposition to this, men like Lancaster, sought to rekindle in the ‘faithful’ a heightened sense of the pre-eminence of Christ, as the sum and substance of an accomplished redemption, for all for whom it was intended. To all such is this epistle addressed, Lancaster hoping thereby to set aright the understanding of those whose flawed notions had mistaken the sense in which a few of Crisp’s expressions where construed, whilst at the same time heralding a clear message of Gospel Truth. As another friend of Crisp exclaimed, “O ye that love the truth! Is it a small matter to you for Christ to be dishonored, and his truth condemned? Do ye not regard what violence is offered to the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice? If yea, why are ye so silent as if there were none to answer?”

An Extract: It is evident that Mr. Geree makes works not only evidences of our peace, but even peace-makers; which office we dare not to attribute to any, but to the Lord Jesus, who hath made peace only by the blood of his Cross. Col.1:20. For as we acknowledge but one Mediator between God and man, so but one Peace-maker; for that was his office to mediate and effect a peace. Reconciliation and peace-making is his own, his sole act. It is always in Scripture spoken of in reference to a sacrifice, Dan.9:24, II Cor.5:18, Heb.2:18, and that a sacrifice of propitiation of appeasement, which Christ only was able to offer. But the best of our works are aspersed with manifold defilements, they have need of an atonement to make peace for themselves, so far are they from making peace for others. But Mr. Geree seems to infer out of the place – Isaiah 1:16-19 – that we ourselves, and that by our own doings must make ourselves clean, must take away the evil of our doings, from before the eyes of God; must cease to do evil, and learn to do well; and all this while we are the enemies of God before our sins be forgiven. So the Papist, and others before him, have desired to infer from the place. And this the Lord requires. How then shall we answer to it? Sure our abilities are not the measure of God’s commands. Such passages as these may well show what is due unto God from man, not what man is able to pay unto God. Mr. Geree himself, if he would have taken notice of it, hath collected for us out of Mr. Pemble, a satisfactory answer hereunto in his preface, page 4, “the Law {saith he} was added because of transgressions; that is, to convince man of sin, that he might be put in remembrance what was his duty of old, and what was his present infirmity in doing of it, and what was God’s wrath against him for not doing it. That seeing how impossible it was to attain unto life by this old way of the Law, first appointed in Paradise, he might be humbled and driven to look after the new way, which God had since that time laid forth more heedfully, attending the promise, and seeking unto Christ, who is the end of the Law, unto every one that believes on him.” And thus our peace is made, we are washed, the evil of our doings is done away, out of the sight of God. And thus we cease to be evil doers, and become truly well doers, not in our own actions, but in him, who did all things well, and so for his sake, being joint heirs with him, we eat and enjoy the good of the Land of the living, we have a sure and unshaken interest, not only in Heaven, but in Earth also; so far as our Father’s infinite wisdom sees them good for us. Christ is exalted to be a Prince, and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel and remission of sins, Acts 5:31. Here Christ is plainly expressed, as a giver of Repentance and Forgiveness. In that of Isaiah it is barely required of them. I confess, it was Christ that gave Repentance, and Remission of Sins, in all ages of the Church of God; yet this was not so clearly manifested unto the people of the Old Testament, as it is to those of the New. The Old Testament is more frequent in requiring of Righteousness, {save only in those places where it speaks prophetically of the New,} than in manifesting the free gift of Righteousness. In the Old Testament it was, but my Salvation is near to come, and my Righteousness to be revealed, Isa. 56:1, but in the New Testament, the Righteousness of God is already revealed in the Gospel. Rom.1:17. The difference, so far as it concerns the present particular, is most remarkable in the Apostle’s citing, and inverting that place of Isaiah 59:20, “the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob,” which the Apostle citing, doth wonderfully invert after this manner, “the Deliverer shall come out of Zion, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” In that of the Prophet, turning from iniquity, seems to be pre-required to the coming of the Messiah, but by the Apostle, it is plainly revealed to be the effect of his coming, “he shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” Moreover, from the fore-cited place, and that in Luke 24:47, wherein Christ charges his Apostles to Preach Repentance, and Remission of Sins among all nations, Mr. Geree infers, mark, first Repentance, and then Remission of Sins. This {saith he} is Christ’s Order. What? That Repentance should go before Remission of Sins; surely such Repentance can be no better, than the Repentance of Cain and Judas in itself; for I speak not of the event. For what can the act of an enemy unto God be accounted to be, but fruits of enmity? The Protestants of old would say with Christ, that, first the tree must be made good by justification. Wherein is contained forgiveness of Sins before the fruit can be good, before we can do anything acceptable unto God. But repentance, you will say, is mentioned first. To this I answer with Calvin, that “whilst men stick in the order of letters and syllables, they do not mark the coherence of the sense.” {INSTITUTES Book 3, Chapter 3, Section 2} For as he saith there, “it is impossible that a man should seriously repent, unless he knows himself to savingly belong unto the Lord. But none is truly persuaded that he is God’s, but he who first hath apprehended his grace.” See Calvin further, there where he solidly proves, that faith, or the assurance of the forgiveness of sins, doth precede, and bring forth all true repentance, which is the general judgment of all Orthodox Protestants. For my own part, I conceive, that it is so frequently set before faith, and remission of sins, not because it self doth either in order of time or nature precede them; but because it relates properly unto that estate of unregeneracy, which both in order of time and nature, goes before conversion, and regeneration, whereunto faith doth properly refer. But still this must be firmly holden, that we love him because he loved us first, I Jn.4:19, that because many sins are forgiven us, therefore we love much, Lk.7:47, that with the Lord is propitiation, and therefore shall he be feared. Psal.130:4. And now I desire the Christian Reader, to set himself, as Calvin saith, not at ease, full of the works of his own hand, and of the applause of men, but seriously sensible of the dreadful terrors of the Lord, that not he that commendeth himself is approved, but he whom the Lord commendeth; and then let him say, whether he will lean unto such a peace as his works will be able to make, or that only which the great Peace Maker hath made by the Blood of his Cross. Col.1:20.