Isaac Watts excerpts


“But what shall we say to those who take the venerable names of the sacred writers, and charge them with the same scandalous practice? There is one Momus, who is well known in the world for a person that is ready to find fault with the best of men, and the best of things, if he can suspect any thing which he imagines worthy of blame in them. This man rather than not vindicate himself from the charge of uncharitableness, he will bring even the apostles themselves into the accusation, particularly St. Paul and St. John. Paul, says he, must be a very uncharitable man.”

Regarding a demonstration that the sacred writers of Holy Scripture are to be judged as “uncharitable”: The onus is on Momus. Of course, Momus judges by his own standard (himself) what is and what is not, charitable.

St. Paul also is charged with high uncharitableness by this Momus for what he says; Gal. i. 8, 9. If any man preach any other gospel to you than that ye have received, let him be accursed, and yet he owns (verse 7), that it is not another gospel, but merely a perversion of the gospel of Christ; and is this enough to be accursed for?

Momus sounds kind of like Piper et al, doesn’t he? You see, it’s not actually a false gospel that brings everlasting damnation upon the one preaching it (Galatians 1:8-9); rather, it’s merely a muddled and perplexing distortion of the true gospel.

Answer. Let Momus consider how grossly the gospel must be perverted, when it is turned into such a sense as the Galatians seem to have been taught by these troublers of their church, verse 7. it is such an error as would have carried them again into Judaism, with all its yokes of bondage, would have obliged them to be circumcised and to observe the jewish festival days, months and years; Gal. iv. 10. chapter v. 2. Such an error as shews them to have run back to the ceremonies of the jewish law of justification and acceptance with God, verse 4. Such an error as gave occasion to the apostle to charge them, if ye pursue it ye are fallen from grace, that is, from the gospel of grace: And that Christ would profit them nothing, would become of no effect to them, verses 2, 4.

And after all it must be said these are the words of scripture, and of the Spirit of God, and not merely of St. Paul himself as a private writer; and will the man deal thus with scripture? You see to what lengths this temper will carry a man. But still he pursues his accusation against the apostles, and makes St. John to be grossly guilty of want of charity in his second epistle, verses 10, 11. If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, that is, the doctrine of Christ mentioned in the foregoing verse, receive him not into your house nor bid him Godspeed; for he that biddeth him God speed, is partaker of his evil deeds.

Now to answer the unreasonable censure of this Momus, let us enquire what this doctrine of Christ is; and where should we find the most important parts of it but in the same writer ? chapter i. verse 7. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin; chapter ii. verse 2. Jesus Christ, the righteous, is not only our advocate with the Father, but he is also the propitiation for our sins. Chapter iv. verse 10. God loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins, and that every true christian is born of God, chapter v. 1.4. that is, as other verses of this holy writer in his gospel explain it, lie is born of the Spirit of God ; John i. 13. and iii. 5, 6. It ‘appears then that the errors of such whom the apostle would here exclude from our friendship, are such as do not acknowledge Jesus Christ to be the Messiah, or not to be a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of men, nor allow that every true Christian is regenerated and born of God, or of His Spirit, that is, by the powerful renewing and sanctifying influences thereof, as other scriptures explain it, particularly John i. 12, 13. John iii. 3. 5. and as St. Paul expresses it; Eph. i. 19, 20. By such a mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead.

Can’t think of anything to add here, other than that those who believe Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception, deny that Christ’s blood actually propitiates the wrath of God of itself apart from the self-righteous efforts of the sinner.

There must be some measures and bounds set to every general virtue, and even to christian charity itself. This does not extend to infidels in the same sense. Surely, there must be due limits set to every thing of this kind: They can scarce be justly called christians, and treated as such, let their profession be what it will, who renounce Jesus Christ in his chief design of coming into the world, as a propitiation for sin, and who renounce the Spirit of God as the effectual spring of our regeneration and holiness. If all deists and infidels may be received into the christian church, into our good esteem and friendship, those may also be our fellow-christians who deny the most important principles of christianity: But let us take heed that we do not give that which is holy to such who have no claim to it; Matt. vii. 6. and give charity and christian friendship to those, who seem, according to the word of God, to have no pretence to it.

There must be measures and bounds to true Christian charity. Yes, indeed! And certainly those — let their profession be what it will — who believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception (in any sense) have renounced Jesus Christ in His chief design of coming into the world to make propitiation for the sins of His people.