Sun. 14. I preached in the morning at
and in the afternoon at the Savoy Chapel, free salvation by faith in the
blood of Christ. I was quickly apprised that at St. Ann ’s, likewise, I am to preach no more. St. Ann
So true did I find the words of a friend, wrote to my brother about this time:
I have seen upon this occasion, more than ever I could have imagined, how intolerable the doctrine of faith is to the mind of man, and how peculiarly intolerable to religious men. One may say the most unchristian things, even down to Deism; the most enthusiastic things, so they proceed but upon mental raptures, lights, and unions; the most severe things, even the whole rigour of ascetic mortification: all this will be forgiven. But if you speak of faith in such a manner as makes Christ a Saviour to the utmost, a most universal help and refuge; in such a manner as takes away glorying, but adds happiness to wretched man; as discovers a greater pollution in the best of us than we could before acknowledge, but brings a greater deliverance from it than we could before expect: if anyone offers to talk at this rate, he shall be heard with the same abhorrence as if he was going to rob mankind of their salvation, their Mediator, or their hopes of forgiveness. I am persuaded that a Montanist or a Novatian, who from the height of his purity should look down with contempt upon poor sinners, and exclude them from all mercy, would not be thought such an overthrower of the gospel as he who should learn from the Author of it to be a friend of publicans and sinners, and to sit down upon the level with them as soon as they begin to repent.
But this is not to be wondered at. For all religious people have such a quantity of righteousness, acquired by much painful exercise, and formed at last into current habits; which is their wealth, both for this world and the next. Now all other schemes of religion are either so complaisant as to tell them they are very rich, and have enough to triumph in; or else only a little rough, but friendly in the main, by telling them their riches are not yet sufficient, but by such arts of self-denial and mental refinement they may enlarge the stock. But the doctrine of faith is a downright robber. It takes away all this wealth, and only tells us it is deposited for us with somebody else, upon whose bounty we must live like mere beggars. Indeed they that are truly beggars, vile and filthy sinners till very lately, may stoop to live in the dependent condition: it suits them well enough. But they who have long distinguished themselves from the herd of vicious wretches, or have even gone beyond moral men; for them to be told that they are either not so well, or but the same needy, impotent, insignificant vessels of mercy with the others: this is more shocking to reason than transubstantiation. For reason had rather resign its pretensions to judge what is bread or flesh than have this honour wrested from it, to be the architect of virtue and righteousness. But where am I running? My design was only to give you warning that, wherever you go, ‘this foolishness of preaching’ will alienate hearts from you, and open mouths against you.