Re: Tobias Crisp
I myself never knew the man personally.
But he was known by many for his godly manner of life, his edifying method of preaching and his gracious hospitality.
His early preaching was highly legalistic, emphasizing good works as a means, rather than an outcome, of grace.
But as he delved into the Word to bring comfort to lost souls, his own soul lost the shackles of trust in his own righteousness and he was granted faith in the righteousness of Christ who bore away his sins.
Some of his contemporaries had these words to say in his defense:
"Antinomianism was the term applied to the teaching of Dr. Tobias Crisp... He was called an Antinomian, but the term was misapplied." (C.H. Spurgeon in The Sword and The Trowel)
"Never was there a sounder divine than Crisp, and never one who preached the gospel more fully to all under heaven." (From, The Reverend C. H. Spurgeon's Anecdotes and Stories)
"I look on Dr. Crisp, as by no means an Antinomian, but as a deeply convinced and holy divine, pressing after gospel light." (John Brown of Haddington)
"If I had only one hundred pounds in the world, and Dr. Crisp's book could not be procured for less than fifty, I would give that sum rather than be without it; I have found more satisfaction in it, than in all the books in the world, except the Bible." (Thomas Cole,1656)
"Do not harbor any fear, Madam, concerning the propriety of your sending Dr. Crisp's sermons to Mr. K__. They are the very discourses which he wants. Especially, if he is inclined to distress of conscience, on account of his spiritual state. I know not any treatises more proper, or more excellently calculated, to administer solid consolation. They are, under the divine influence, one of my first counselors, and principle comforters. They often drop manna and balm upon my fainting and sickly graces. The LORD JESUS CHRIST grant that your Ladyship may experience the soul-cheering, conscience-healing, heart-reviving power of these precious doctrines." (James Hervey Letter 43, Letters to the Right Honorable Lady Francis Shirley. (London, 1782)
Augustus Toplady also spoke in Crisp's defense calling him, "the holy and judicious Dr. Crisp" Page 370. The Complete Works of Augustus Toplady. 1 Volume Edition. (London, 1794).
"The most important of those mistakenly labeled 'Antinomian' was Tobias Crisp (1600-1643)... Crisp more than most of his time, strove to develop in greater fullness and clarity the precise sense in which the Mosaic Covenant had to be considered as a covenant of works." (The Westminster Theological Journal, Vol. 43, No. 1, Fall 1980)
And in his(Tobias Crisp)own words:
"In one word, beloved, mistake me not, I am far from imagining any believer is freed from acts of sin; he is freed only from the charge of sin; that is, from being a subject to be charged with sin; all his sins are charged upon Christ, he being made sin for him; yet Christ is not an actual sinner; but Christ is all the sinners in the world by imputation; and through this imputation all our sins are so done away from us, that we stand as Christs own person did stand, and doth stand in the sight of God (Colossians 2:10.). Now, had not Christ made a full satisfaction to the Father, he himself must have perished under those sins that he did bear; but in that he went through the thing, and paid the full price, as he carried them away from us, so he laid them down from himself. So that now Christ is freed from sin, and we are freed from sin in him; he was freed from sin imputed unto him and laid upon him, when he suffered; we were freed from sin as he takes it off from our shoulders, and hath carried it away; Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden. That is, with sin. And what follows? And I will give you rest. As long as the burthen is upon the shoulders, so long there is no rest. Therefore this doth necessarily import, that Christ must take away the burthen, that we may have rest." (Christ Alone Exalted, Volume 1, page 56)
"You know that text in Isaiah 53:6, He hath laid on him the iniquities of us all; and you know that place in 2 Corinthians 5:21, He was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Now I ask this question, Whose are the sins that believers commit? When Christ became their sin, are they not his? and if they are his, are they any longer theirs, that did commit them? 2 Corinthians 5:19, shews plainly, that the Lord reckons them no longer theirs, when he hath made them once to be Christs; God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; as much as to say, I will never reckon them thine any more; I will never impute them to thee; all that I look for in respect of thy sins, I look for at the hands of Christ; for he was made sin for us, saith the text." (Christ Alone Exalted, Volume 1, page 206)
"Christs being a Saviour; and, whereas wounds and stripes are the just wages of sin, this sinfulness of the creature must some way be on Christ, or else he might not in justice be wounded; punitive justice must first find a crime upon a man, before it can smite him; as for Christ, he himself never committed any fault, ver. 9, He did no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth, as the Lord himself says; therefore, it follows, that the sins of others must be charged to his account, and he must be responsible for them, before he can justly be wounded; hence, in my text, The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all. Now (as in suretyship) our debt becoming his, the execution goes justly out against him, and so God can give a just account of wounding him; and he being thus wounded, that, is, bearing the full indignation and wrath our sins deserve, and so ending all the quarrel God had against us." (Christ Alone Exalted, Volume 1, page 286)
"The Godhead, it is true, is incapable to bear iniquity, and the human nature is as incapable of bearing it to any purpose. Should iniquity be laid upon the human nature, and the divine nature not support it, it would have sunk under sin, as a mere human creature: He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh; in respect of flesh it was the same, in respect of sin he was like it: he did not sin, yet he bore it, by the imputation of it, upon him; what now could this mere creature, do? and how could it be strengthened enough to bear that weight that would crush a mere creature to dust and powder! But now, if the humanity bear sin, and the divinity bears it up in suffering, this gives such infinite validity to the obedience of Christ, both active and passive, that it becomes effectual to the purging away of sin." (Christ Alone Exalted, Volume 2, page 13)
"You, know, here is none in the world, nay, all the world together, is nothing so dear in the eyes of God, as his Son; and if it had been possible that sin could have been connived at, it would have been upon his Son, being his only by imputation: a fond father may possibly wink at a fault in a son, which he will not pass by in a slave; but when a father falls foul upon a dear child, upon whom a fault is found, and the fire of indignation restrains his affection, this argues the extremity of the rage of the father, and the heinousness of the crime that incenseth it." (Christ Alone Exalted, Volume 2, page 33)
"Here are two immutable witnesses from God that cannot lie, that the sin-offering is most holy, in [Lev.4:18,25] ver. 18, and this 25th, but still it is called only sin, as Christ was made sin; but it is wonderful in our eyes, that God should condescend so much toward easing, acquitting, and quieting the sinners conscience, as to call his offering his sin, as here he doth again in this 25th verse, This is the law of the sin; in the place where the burnt-offering is killed, the sin shall be killed; holiness of holinesses it (is). Our Jesus, we see here, was never the less holy because he was made sin, no more than his type here which, though called sin, and offered as sin, and for sin, being made sin, yet is it with the same breath called holiness of holinesses; as also is our blessed Jesus, Holy, holy, holy Lord of hosts; not only when he appeared to the prophet Isaiah, but when he was upon the cross, made sin for us, witness his crying out, My God, my God and Father, into thine hands I commit my spirit; which he could not have done, if he had not been most holy, notwithstanding his being made sin, which (though a stupendous mystery to be believed, though not comprehended) yet may have this said of it, He was most holy in his personal capacity, incapable of the least stain or sin in his soul or body, as the actor of any; yet he was made sin, as a common head of all the elect, that is, of all his members, who were in him in his sufferings; and he being charged with their sins, and they lying upon him, and he bearing them till he had done them away, he on that account is made sin for them, and yet still without sin in himself; which heaven alone will afford a full understanding of, together with the mystery of God the Word made flesh; but because we cannot comprehend how the most holy one Jesus, should be made sin, and yet be innocent; shall we therefore charge those that assert these gospel assertions with horrid names, as if they made Christ the actual sinner in his own person, and actual murderer, instead of David, whose sin and murder he bare, and acquitted David from? This God will not take well at their hands that do so, when they know, and may see in the writings of those they traduce, that those that insist most on Christs being made sin for us, and so in that respect is their sin: they still look upon Christ, own Christ, declare Christ to be in his own person, as to any act, word, or thought of our Lord Christ to be perfectly free from sin." (Christ Made Sin, pages 82-83)
But some will say, By this it seems we take away all endeavours and employment from believers, the free-men of Christ. Doth Christ do every thing for them? Do they stand righteous before God, in respect of what he hath done for them? Then they may sit still: they may do what they list.
I answer, Will you deny this, that we are righteous with God, and that we are righteous with God by the righteousness of Christ? Or is it by our own righteousness? Then mark what the apostle saith, Rom 10:3, 4, They (saith he, speaking of the Jews), going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God, for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth. Either you must disclaim Christs righteousness, or you must disclaim your own; for, if the gift of God be of grace, then it is not of works, else work is no more work; and, if it be of works, it is no more of grace otherwise grace is no more grace, Rom 11:6.
But you will say further to me (for, except a man be a mere Papist, I am sure he cannot deny but that the righteousness by which I stand righteous before GOD, is the righteousness Christ doth for me, and not that I do for myself, you will ask me, I say, Doth not this take off all manner of obedience and all manner of holiness?
I answer, and thus much I say, It takes them off from those ends which they aim at in their obedience: namely, The end for which Christs obedience served: as much as to say, Our standing righteousness, by what Christ hath done for us, concerns us in point of justification, consolation, and salvation. We have our justification, our peace, our salvation, only by the righteousness Christ hath done for us: but this doth not take away our obedience, nor our services, in respect of those ends for which such are now required of believers. We have yet several ends for duties and obedience, namely, That they may glorify God, and evidence our thankfulness, that they may be profitable to men, that they may be ordinances wherein to meet with God, to make good what he hath promised. So far we are called out to services, and walking uprightly, sincerely, exactly, and strictly, according to the good pleasure of God; and, in regard of such ends, there is a gracious freedom that the free-men of Christ have by him; that is, so far forth as services and obediences are expected at the free-mans hand, for the ends that I have named, there is Christ, by his Spirit, present with those that are free-men, to help them in all such kind of services, so that they become strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, to do the will of God. Mark what the apostle speaks: I am able to do all things through Christ that strengthens me. Of myself (saith he) I am able to do nothing; but with Christ, and through him that strengthens me, I am able to do all things. He that is Christs free-man hath always the strength of Christ present, answerable to that weight and burthen of employment God calls him forth unto. My grace (saith Christ) shall be sufficient for thee, and my strength shall be made perfect in weakness. As you are free-men of Christ, you may confidently rest upon it, that he will never fail you, nor forsake you, when he calls you forth into employments. But you that are under the law, there is much required of you, and imposed upon you, but no help to be expected. You must do all by your own strength; the whole tale of brick shall be exacted of you, but no straw shall be given you. But you, that are free-men of Christ, he will help you: he will oil your wheels, fill your sails, and carry you upon eagles wings, that you shall run and not be weary, walk and not faint. So, then, the free-men of Christ, having him and his Spirit for their life and strength, may go infinitely beyond the exactest legalist in the world, in more cheerful obedience than they can perform. He that walks in his own strength can never steer his business so well and so quickly, as he that hath the arms, the strength, and the principles of the great God of heaven and earth; as he that hath this great Supporter, this wise Director, this mighty Assister, to be continually by him. There is no burthen, you shall bear, but, by this freedom you have him to put his own shoulder to it to bear it up.
We do not perform Christian duties in order to our being delivered from wrath; but we perform them because we are delivered. A man will work for Christ who has tasted of Christs loving-kindness: he stands ready to shew forth the praise of that glorious grace which hath so freely saved him. Such a man is as glad to work for Christs sake, as if he was to work for his own salvation. There are many ingenious persons in the world, who will be more ready to serve a friend that has already raised them; than to serve a master, that they may be raised. This is the true service of a believer. His eye is to the glory of Christ, in regard to what Christ hath already done for him: and not in expectation of anything Christ hath yet to do. He looks upon all, as perfectly done for him in the hand of Christ, and ready to be delivered out to him as his occasions may require. The work of salvation being thus completed by Christ and not to be mended by the creature; the believer having now nothing to do for himself, all he doth, he doth for Christ. . . . Salvation itself, therefore, is not the end proposed in any good work we do. The ends of our good works are, the manifestation of our obedience and subjection; the setting forth the praise of Gods grace and thereby glorifying him in the world; the doing, good to others with a view to their profit; and the meeting the Lord Jesus Christ in the performance of duty, where he will be found, according to his promise: these are some of the special ends, for which obedience is ordained, salvation being settled firm before.
There is no believer who hath received Christ but he is created in him unto good works, that he should walk in them. He that sprinkleth clean water upon them, that they become clean from all their filthiness, puts also a new spirit within them, and doth cause them to walk in his statutes and testimonies. So I say that sanctification of life is an inseparable companion with the justification of a person by the free grace of Christ. But I must withal tell you that all this sanctification of life is not a jot of the way of that justified person unto heaven. It is the business a man hath to do in his Way, Christ.
While his slanderers were accusing one of the greatest preachers of righteousness of all time of Antinomianism they were openly bearing false witness themselves.
I myself never knew the man personally...but his words are very convincing to me that he was no antinomian.
Would to God that I knew more men like him.