George Ella on Doctrinal Matters

Antinomianism And The Righteousness Of The Law

Most readers are familiar with the Calvinist-Arminian controversy of the 18th century in which free-grace, championed by Whitefield, Toplady and Romaine was set against free-will, maintained by Fletcher, Sellon and Wesley. The controversy dealt with whether salvation was made possible by Christ, depending on man’s acceptance of it, or whether Christ secured His Church’s salvation by His atoning death. At the same time, a similar controversy was raging on a closely related topic. “Is the Mosaic Law God’s eternal standard or has it become irrelevant to unbeliever and believer alike as a Covenant of Works and as a yardstick of sanctification?”

The leading contestants in the Calvinistic-Arminian controversy were mainly Oxford and Cambridge dons and men of a first class education. The opposite was the case in the bitter debate concerning the Law which came to be referred to as the Antinomian Controversy. William Huntington (1745-1813), who took the side of the Law as God’s eternal standard, had a mere few months’ schooling and before becoming a pastor, was a coalman’s labourer. Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) who took up the cudgels for an abolition of the Covenant of Works and a Law emptied of its condemning and commanding power, was raised on a farm, received very little education and became a well-known pugilist before his days as a controvercialist.

Unlike in the Calvinistic-Arminian debate, both sides in the Antinomian Controversy professed to be Calvinists. Huntington held four-square to the doctrines of the Reformation regarding the Gospel and the Law whereas Fuller called himself an ‘evangelical Calvinist’ and reacted strongly against what he called Hyper-Calvinism.. He said of the Church before he left traditional Calvinism, “When I first published my treatise on the nature of faith, and the duty of all men who hear the gospel to believe it, the Christian profession had sunk into contempt amongst us; insomuch that had matters gone on but a few years longer, the Baptists would have become a perfect dunghill in society.” His aim in life was thus plain, “to rescue the Christian profession from being contemptible and save the Baptists from being a dunghill in society.”

The word ‘Antinomian’ was not coined by these two men but had been in circulation for many years. The term means principally ‘one who is against the law’ and Pharisees of all kinds have often used the term, or similar meaning words to describe Christians who emphasise that the just shall live by faith. The most famous Christian to be accused of Antinomianism in this sense was the Apostle Paul who maintained in Romans 3 “that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Those Christian Pharisees who taught that the Christian, Jew or gentile should keep all requirements of the Mosaic law, including circumcision, as a necessary basis for faith (Acts 15:5) were quick to accuse Paul of making the law void. Paul, knowing that Christ was the end of the law, answered his critics with the words, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

The Antinomian debate in the 18th century centred around that tiny word ‘end’. Did Christ come to put an end to the works of the law (in the sense of annulling the law) in exchange for a life of faith, or was the supreme end of the law (in the sense of purpose, aim and intention) its fulfilment in Christ who was to enable the new man in Christ to live according to this eternal standard? The latter position was held by Huntington. Fuller chose to combine the two after modifying the latter. He argued that the ‘fiery law’, which brought a curse with it, has been rejected by man and by God. It is now a changed law, the ‘law of love’. It does not expect of man what he cannot give but invites man to make use of his inborn sense of duty to love God and enjoy Him for ever. The changed law is now seen by Fuller as the moral law which is the Christian’s sole rule of conduct in a life of faith. Huntington argued that the whole revelation of God in both Testaments was the rule of life for Christians. Both these men regarded each other’s teaching as ‘Antinomian’.

Historically speaking the word ‘Antinomian’ was first coined in the disputations between Luther, represented by Melanchthon and Johann Agricola. Melanchthon taught that the moral law was necessary to promote a conviction of sin and repentance, whereas Agricola (termed an Antinomian by Luther) believed that repentance came by the working of the Holy Spirit in the sinner and is thus the fruit not of the Law but of the Gospel. Fuller adopted Agricola’s view and believed that sinners repent on hearing the gospel and then they need the (weakened) law to teach them the way of righteousness. Huntington, however, combined both Melanchthon’s and Agricola’s teachings and believed both were essential features of the true gospel way. The law was necessary to show a man that he had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It showed man that he was accursed and a child of wrath. The work of the Holy Spirit was to create a new man in the believer and write the law of God on his heart.

What had happened since the days of the Reformers and Puritans to cause such a difference in understanding between professing Christians? The answer is found partly in the so-called Restoration period of English history. During Charles’ II play-boy reign, literature and language became completely debased as the language of Gentlemen was exchanged for the language of the sink and the gutter. George Colman, the famous dramatist and critic said that the quickest way to turn a man’s daughter into a harlot was to allow her to read the books of a public lending library. Samuel Richardson’s novels, which upheld Christian virtues, were widely denounced as they did not have a sot or a rake for their heroes.

The Church of England, to counteract this movement, began to stress good manners and gentleman-like behaviour. Christian duties to God and society were emphasised to the detriment of sound doctrine. One of the books that influenced this movement the most was an anonymous work entitled The Whole Duty of Man which Whitefield termed critically ‘England’s greatest favourite’ and Cowper, the poet, called ‘that repository of self-righteousness and pharisaical lumber”. Following the example of this book produced a self-righteous man of manners and morals who believed in keeping a stiff upper lip, ‘playing the game’ and doing his duty to God and society. It is interesting to note, that it was Fuller’s intention to make Christians ‘respectable’ that influenced his theology so much.

A second trend which influenced the theology of the day was the rationalism of the so-called Enlightenment. This movement, according to one of its pioneers, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, taught that God works in man through his reason and through the correct training of this reason man can evolve to be as the gods. It laid great stress on natural revelation and on the theory that man was not totally fallen but had the ability to aspire to the greatest heights. This philosophy became popular in the 18th century through the writings of Thomas Paine and Joseph Priestly, two men who had an enormous influence on the thinking of the Dissenting Churches. All those who accused Huntington of being an Antinomian, in spite of their otherwise faithful stance for the truth, stood very near to Paine’s revolutionary movement. Evangelical Paneites who demanded the ‘Rights of Man’ and an ‘Age of Reason’ in the same breath as they preached the gospel, had too high a view of man to place him under the curse of the law. Huntington criticised the Fullerites for putting reason on too high a footing and making ‘a point of thought’ a ‘point of faith’.

Huntington and Fuller had different views of man, God and the atonement. Man in his fallen state, according to Huntington, is incapable of discerning anything spiritual. He has no saving knowledge of God and, of himself, cannot acquire knowledge of Him. He is completely without hope and trust and knows of no way out of his situation. The Scriptures say of fallen man that he “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (I Cor. 2:14.” Huntington, when preaching, often used the picture of Lazarus in the grave. He was dead and stunk – until Christ came and revived Him with His commanding word “Lazarus! Come forth!” This is the position of the sinner who is dead in tresspasses and sins. If he is to be saved, it can only be when Christ comes and revives him, and enables him to put off his grave-clothes and live. Huntington could argue in this way because he believed that though man had opted out of his covenant with God regarding the law which declared “Do this and live. Break this and die”, God still upheld His side of the Covenant and still demanded absolute obedience and sanctification from fallen man. This could only be made possible if God made the sinner a new man in Christ who has fulfilled every jot and tittle of the Law and imputes His righteousness to His elect.

Fuller was of quite a different opinion. He totally denied that Huntington’s picture of Lazarus applied in any way to the sinner and his view of man was a total revolt against I Cor. 2:14-16. Fallen man had unilaterally opted out of his covenant with God and thus set God free to opt out of His obligations. This God did in order to assist sinful man. He then removed the condemning and commanding nature of the law and make it easier for a man to get right with Him. God could not do this by holding up the high standards of the Mosaic law, even though it was robbed of its condemning power. “Naturally,” said Huntington, “because man cannot and will not keep it.” “Wrong”, said Fuller, “because we cannot expect God to demand of man what he cannot do. If man does not obey the moral law, it is because he will not, not because he cannot.” Fuller argues in this way by a strange method of logic. Man cannot be both unable and unwilling to serve God at the same time. This would mean that if he wanted to love God, he still could not. God would be demanding from Him obedience which, even if he wanted to, he could not give. Fuller stressed time and time again that as God demands that the sinner believes the Gospel, it must be because the sinner is able to believe.

Fuller, of course, did not find this doctrine in Scripture but resorted to a rational doctrine of natural theology to prove his point. The Bible, he tells us in The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, points to a revelation from God in nature. The usual interpretation of Psalm 19 and Paul’s words in Romans 1 is that mankind can recognise a creator’s work in the patterns of nature but re-creation’s work is the fallen sinner’s life is an action of Christ in His atonement. Not so Fuller. He argues,

“To suppose that we are obliged to love God as manifesting himself in the works of creation and providence, but not in the work of redemption, is to suppose that in the highest and most glorious display he deserves no regard. The same perfections which appear in all his other works, and render him lovely, appear in this with a ten-fold lustre; to be obliged to love him on account of the one, and not the other, is not a little extraordinary.”

Fuller is speaking here of what the sinner has a duty to see “notwithstanding the depravity of his nature”! He argues further, quoting ‘an able author’ “If a sinner, therefore, who hears the gospel have these suitable affections of love to God and hatred of sin, to which he is obliged by the laws of natural religion, these things cannot be separated from a real complacency in that redemption and grace which are proposed in revealed religion.”

Fuller can argue in this way because he believes that fallen man is by nature both aware of God and his inborn duty to accept the Gospel. The Gospel which Fuller presents to him, however, is as watered down as the law. He argues of the unregenerate,

“As unbelievers are not under the covenant of works, it is improper to say that whatever is required of them in the Scriptures is required by that covenant, and as a term of life. God requires nothing of fallen creatures as a term of life. He requires them to love him with all their hearts, the same as if they had never apostatised.”

Fuller argues in this way because he does not believe that the Covenant of Works (which he relates to the moral law) was a Covenant of Life. He finds that the Law never orders the sinner to “Do this and Live”. Both Exodus and Deuteronomy, however, are clear in this teaching. Clearer still are the words of our Lord in Luke 10:25-28:

“He (Jesus) said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.”

It thus follows that Fuller has not only a faulty view of the law but also a completely wrong view of the gospel and its relation to the law. He makes the rule of conduct for sinner and saint alike a law void of all justice and grace. Void of justice as it no longer condemned sin and void of grace because it did not distinguish between the son and the bondservant. Both were not bound by the law in any way and had to merely show love “as if they had never apostatised.” How a sinner or saint can do this without grace and Christ’s imputed righteousness is left unanswered in Fuller’s theology. Huntington was quick to spot this inconsistency in Fuller’s teaching and argued that he confused the children of Hagar with those of Sarah. He maintained with Scripture that bondservants have neither the duties nor the freedom of those who have received the adoption of sons and been made free from sin to become servants of righteousness . In putting his finger on this sensitive spot, Huntington revealed how far from the Biblical teaching of the law and gospel Fuller stood.

Fuller, however, persisted in attributing Christian virtues to sinners for the rest of his life. He became to speak of the sinners’ ‘Christian duty’ and a ‘universal holiness’. The publication of Fuller’s views in his The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation in 1786 caused a great protest amongst Reformed circles. So great were the number of pamphlets published against it and letters of protest sent to Fuller that he was compelled to add over 150 pages to his next edition, dealing with the complaints. In most of these appendices, Fuller merely repeated himself or added further arguments from reason. One of these was his metaphor of the family. No one would deny, he argues, that children have a known duty to obey their parents. Thus we can logically believe that it is every man’s known duty to obey his Creator. It is as if Fuller had never read Galatians 4 which clearly states that bondmen to the law and heirs to grace are alike under the law until redemption in Christ comes and determines who are the true sons in God’s family.

In defending a member of Dr John Ryland’s church who was excommunicated for maintaining traditional Reformed doctrines, Huntington criticised Ryland for giving up the Reformed faith and turning to Fullerism and thus breaking his pastoral vows to promote ‘the doctrines of grace’. Concerning the Fullerites’ teaching of a weakened law and God’s appeal to man’s sense of duty in salvation, Huntington argues:

1. This doctrine can never be established by the practice or example of Jesus: for though he called all that laboured and were heavy laden to come to him, and those that were sick, that were hungry, and thirsty, &c. yet it is clear that he always sent the curious, the pharisaical, and the whole-hearted inquirer; to the law. “What is written in the law? how readest thou? This do, and thou shalt live.” “If thou wilt enter in. to life, keep the commandments.” And, if they asked Which? he replied, “Do not kill, do not steal, do not commit adultery; and Honour thy father and mother.” This sending them to the law to work, is a sufficient proof that Christ made not his gospel the rule of these men’s duty. Mr. Ryland and Mr. Fuller act contrary to Christ, who is the best example; for it is clear that the Saviour went a different way from them, in making the two tables of the law, not the gospel, the rule of these men’s obedience.

2. I think, with respect to the unconverted, sir, that you begin at the wrong end. You tell them, it is the duty of all men to believe; but, as faith is produced in the soul by the Spirit, and is brought forth into exercise by a spiritual birth, I think you should tell the unconverted, that it is their duty first to beget themselves; then to quicken their own souls; then to make a new heart and a new spirit; and then by perfect love, to cast out fear from their hearts; and then their faith would work by their love. A child cannot walk before it is born, nor can any man walk by faith till he is born again. Marvel not at this: before a man can believe, he must be born again.

3. This extorting evangelical obedience to the faith from infidels shut up in unbelief, is a doctrine that cannot meet with the approbation, nor be attended with the impression, of the Holy Ghost; for he is the Spirit of faith, and produces faith: but, by this doctrine the unconverted are set to perform what none but the Spirit of God can effect. A man receives grace for the obedience of faith; but that which is produced by the Spirit’s energy, is here made the carnal man’s duty. Man is made the agent, where the Spirit is the efficient; and, can it be expected that the Spirit will attend with his seal a doctrine that brings no honour to him? He will not give his glory to another, nor his praise to the unconverted. This doctrine will never add one soul to the household of faith.

4. If it is the duty of all men to believe, they must believe that Jesus died far all men; that he will pardon all men, and save all men. If they believe not this, their faith is vain, and they are yet in their sins; and if all men do believe this, they believe a lie, for the bible affords no such warrant for the universal faith of these unconverted legions. ” I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” Were I to go to the condemned criminals in the cells of Newgate, and tell them, it is their duty, one and all, to believe; that the king will pardon them at the gallows, and that he will save them from death: should I succeed with this doctrine, and bring them all to believe the report, I should think that I had acted as the false prophets did in the days of Jeremiah, make this people to trust in a lie; and, when the rope came to be put round their necks, they would have just cause to curse my false doctrine, and me also as an impostor and a deceiver. And if all men believe Mr. Ryland’s doctrine, they will go down to the grave with a lie in their hand; and he will appear but little better in their sight, when they lift up their eyes in hell, than I should in the eyes of the above criminals, when cast off at Tyburn .”

Summing up the Fullerite’s doctrine of the law, Huntington states in reply to attacks by John Ryland Sen. (who lived to alter his views positively) and his ghost-writer Maria de Fleury:

“I read that the old veil of ignorance is done away in Christ; but I never read that the law was done away. Christ came to fulfil it; the apostles preached to establish it. Christ is a just God and a Saviour; and all Adam’s race, saints and sinners, must and shall appear before the judgement-seat of Christ. And he will appear as a just God with the book of the law, and pronounce the curse from thence upon the bondservant, for it is a covenant of works to him. And he will appear with the book of life as a Saviour, and pronounce the blessing of life from that, as a covenant of grace. Thus the pharisee and the believer will both be judged according to their works. He that is of the works of the law will be tried by the book of the law; and he that is of the works of faith will be tried by the law of faith, and be proclaimed a good and faithful servant…The law is not done away as a covenant of works; it will entangle a foolish Galatian still: and the weak believer, when deceived by these vain janglers, finds, to his sorrow, that the law is a covenant of works still; and genders to bondage still, for it binds him hand and foot, as sure as ever he goes to work by that rule, unless he perfect task, which he never can; for, while he seeks to the law to be made perfect by the flesh, Christ profits him nothing; and without Christ he can do nothing .”

Fuller’s picture of God is as faulty as his picture of reprobate man. He robs God of His eternal justice and makes Him satisfied with offers of love from a sinner who has the power, fallen though he may be, to refuse God even though he has received enlightenment to believe Him. Fuller has made man too big for his boots and confronts Him with a God cut down to size. No longer will God have the books of the law opened at the day of judgement and His everlasting standard of righteousness will be applied to the reprobate and saints and bondservants of the law will be separated from heirs in Christ their righteousness.

Fuller limits the sovereignty of God in election. His emphasis centres on man’s responsibility over God’s availability. His theory allows for a universal atonement but, as a second thought, a particular application. This was how it came about. God originally intended to save the whole world and thus planned for His son to die for every man’s sins. On looking forward into time, God saw the day when His free invitation would go out to all mankind and all would be requested to partake of His salvation. Once accepted, salvation would be theirs. Everything, however, did not go according to plan. God had not reckoned with man’s disinterest. Nobody accepted the invitation. This was not because they could not accept the invitation but plainly and simply because they did not want to. Thy knew deep down inside them that it was really their duty to accept; but duty be blowed! The marriage feast of the Lamb was did not tempt them in the least. God had now to re-think. He thus decided to put special pressure on some people so they, at least, would come. Here, at last, Fuller had to resort to God’s sovereignty at last as no one would have been saved if they were not influenced to come. Why could he not accept from the start the fact that God elected a Church for which Christ offered Himself to procure and secure their justification and sanctification? Why must he insult God by declaring openly that God failed in His plan of election? In effect Fuller sets God and Christ at logger-heads. Christ died for all men but His Father determines to save only a few.

As Fuller has a faulty view of man and of God, it will come as no surprise to find that he has a completely faulty view of justification and sanctification through the atoning death of Christ. Fuller is clearly embarrassed by the Biblical accounts of the atonement and imputed righteousness of Christ and seeks to rob them of their literal content. What he cannot accept is what he calls the ‘commercial language’ of the Biblical accounts. In his Dialogues Fuller argues that “it would be improper to represent the great work of redemption as a kind of commercial transaction betwixt a creditor and his debter”. To Fuller any reference to debts being paid or salvation being bought are ‘metaphorical’ and he argues that “Neither sin nor righteousness are in themselves transferrable.” The object of the atonement is not to appease God’s wrath but show His feeling of ‘displeasure’ which He exhibits based on moral principles “in a way adapted to make as strong an impression upon all concerned, as if the law had taken its course”.

In his The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation he deepens this argument, saying:

“Objections to the foregoing principles (Fuller’s theory of the duty of every man to believe), from the doctrine of election, are generally united with those from particular redemption; and, indeed, they are so connected that the validity of the one stands or falls with that of the other.

To ascertain the force of the objection, it is proper to inquire wherein the peculiarity of redemption consists. If the atonement of Christ were considered as the literal payment of a debt—if the measure of his sufferings were according to the number of those for whom he died, and to the degree of their guilt, in such a manner as that if more had been saved, or if those who are saved had been more guilty, his sorrows must have been proportionally increased—it might, for aught I know, be inconsistent with indefinite invitations. But it would be equally inconsistent with the free forgiveness of sin, and with sinners being directed to apply for mercy as supplicants, other than as claimants. I conclude, therefore, that an hypothesis which in so many important points is manifestly inconsistent with the Scriptures cannot be true.

On the other hand, if the atonement of Christ proceed not on the principle of commercial, but of moral justice, or justice as it relates to crime—if its grand object were to express the Divine displeasure against sin, (Rom. viii.3,) and so render the exercise of mercy, in all the ways wherein sovereign wisdom should determine to apply it, consistent with righteousness (Rom. iii.25) – if it be in itself equal to the salvation of the whole world, were the whole world to embrace it – and if the peculiarity which attends it consists not in its insufficiency to save more than are saved, but in the sovereignty of its application – no such inconsistency can justly be ascribed to it .”

The inconsistencies here are entirely of Fuller’s making. The traditional ‘commercial’ interpretation of the atonement is in keeping with the commercial language the Bible uses and is in no way reflected in Fuller’s caricature of it. Fuller, himself, calls Christ the Redeemer i.e. One who purchases from captivity. The Biblical use of the word ‘redeem’ in keeping with classical usage concerning a slave being bought out and adopted as a son, but Fuller does not see this distinction between bondmen and heirs in the Bible. The blood of Christ is clearly seen in the Bible as the price Christ had to pay for the redemption of His ‘fellow-heirs. This is all a metaphor in Fuller’s terminology but his view of “moral justice” is scarcely a more ‘literal’ or ‘actual’ explanation and is in itself a mere ‘metaphor’ to Fuller, expressing merely God’s displeasure at sin.

Through explaining away the purchasing power of our Redeemer’s blood, Fuller leaves us with a redemption which does not really redeem and an atonement which does not really atone. Telling the repentant sinner that Christ gained a moral victory on the cross rather than a redeeming victory can hardly secure for him a lifting of the real penalty of death which is on him for really breaking the law. Futhermore the Bible in no way teaches that Christ’s atonement was relative to the number of sins committed by every fallen man. This is merely Fuller’s caricature of his opponents’ more Biblical conception. Christ bore the sins of His flock and those only. His atonement was particular. Nor was Christ’s atonement relative to the degrees of guilt amongst his subjects. There is only one judgement for all degrees of sin – death. This judgement Christ took upon him, not metaphorically speaking but really and truly. Nor did Christ’s atonement work out a different ransom for the different stages in his subjects’ holiness. They had no holiness. The same degree of righteousness – Christ’s total righteousness – was imputed to all the elect. Thus the elect is clothed in Christ’s righteousness and not their own. This is the teaching which rids the confused mind of ‘inconsistencies’ and not Fuller’s teaching of ‘moral justice’ which is totally ‘inconsistent’ with God’s holiness and sovereignty and Christ’s redeeming love for His flock of whom He loses none. In his writings against Thomas Paine, Fuller argues that there is a big difference between him and the famous revolutionist. Paine sees hope for mankind as Fuller, but without a Mediator. The two are really not so far apart as Fuller’s doctrine of Christ as Mediator does not take into account Christ’s true mediating powers.

In Huntington’s first prose publication, The Arminian Skeleton, a work against Antinomians, duty-believers and free-willers of all descriptions, he writes,

“Every essential truth that we part with is an infinite loss; and we daily see an awful departure from the doctrines of the gospel. Errors gain ground; and champions for the truth are but few in number when compared to the other host. If thou art a child of God by Faith, see to the ground-work of it. Hast thou the faith of God’s elect? let election be its basis. Hast thou a justifying faith? let imputed righteousness be its basis. Hast thou a victorious faith? thy victory lies in a Saviour’s arms. Hast thou a purifying faith? then faith fetches its purifying efficacy from a Saviour’s blood. Give up none of these truths; for, if we think truth is not worth contending for, we may expect the Spirit to clap his wings, and take flight from us.”

Huntington argued in this way as he taught that the old man in Adam was cursed by the Mosaic law but the new man in Christ, had the redeemer’s righteousness imputed to him so that he could say with Paul in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” This new man serves the law of God with his mind and walks in the Spirit though his old man serves the law of sin and walks in the flesh. Such a teaching as outlined in Romans 7 and 8 is not understood by Fullerites who do not believe in a literal indwelling of Christ our Righteousness in the new man. Just as they deny any true imputation of sin to Christ when he ‘became sin’, so they deny any true imputation of righteousness when he is ‘made righteous’. The new man, to them, is merely the old man with a new aim in life. Thus Fullerites teach openly that the new man can be captivated by sin. Thus Huntington’s view of a Fullerite treatise he read was:

“I will not say that the authors of this book are antinomians; but this I will say, that the book contains the worst antinomianism that I ever read; and is a vile and damnable harangue, both against the law, the gospel, and the grace of God. Against the law, because it declares, the law has ceased to exist, and is done away, as a covenant of works. Against the gospel, because it is no rule of right or wrong . And against the grace of God, by declaring that the new man is taken captive by sin .”

In a scurrilous attack on Huntington, Fuller asserted that his self-chosen foe had ‘not a Christian grace’ in him and was completely void of ‘true religion’ as his preaching merely entailed a good use of a concordance and a display of personal emotion. He was, in truth, a ‘lover of his own self’ and thus not allowed by the Scriptures to understand or believe the truth. Whatever Huntington preached, it was tainted to the bone and marrow with lies and false doctrine and his one aim in life was to exhibit himself. Fuller concludes that Huntington would have been better off if he had remained a day-labourer and not become a preacher. Only in a very indirect way does Fuller reveal why he hates Huntington so much. Huntington will not accept Fuller’s watered down law as a duty of sinner and believer alike. Because of this, he did not hesitate to call Huntington an Antinomian. Huntington never stooped to this kind of muck-slinging but nobody ever got the better of him in controversy. He always defended the law and the gospel in their entirety, seeing them both as God’s rule of life for the believer. Of scoffers of Fuller’s ilk he said, putting his finger on their Arminian, Amyraldian and Neonomian fallacies:

“A real Antinomian, in the sight of God, is one who “holds the truth in unrighteousness;” who has gospel notions in his head, but no grace in his heart. He is one that makes a profession of Christ Jesus, but was never purged by his blood, renewed by his Spirit, nor saved by his power. With him carnal ease passes for gospel peace; a natural assent of the mind for faith; insensibility for liberty; and daring presumption for the grace of assurance. He is alive without the law, the sentence of the ‘moral law’ having never been sent home to him. The ‘law of faith’ was never sealed on him, the ‘law of truth’ was never received by him, nor the ‘law of liberty’ proclaimed to him. He was never arraigned at, nor taken from, the ‘throne of judgement’. He was never justified at the ‘throne of grace’, nor acquitted at the ‘bar of equity’. The tremendous attribute of righteousness was never seen or felt by him. The righteousness of the law was never fulfilled by him; the righteousness of faith was never imputed to him; nor the fruits of righteousness brought forth by him. He is an enemy to the power of God, to the experience of the just, and to every minister of the Spirit; and is in union with none but hypocrites, whose uniting ties are ‘the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity’. He is one that often changes his opinion, but was never changed in heart. He turns to many sects and parties, but never turns to God. In word he is false to Satan, in heart he is false to God; false to Satan by uttering truth, and false to God by a false profession. He is a false reprover in the world, and in the household of faith a false brother. He is a child of Satan in the congregation of dissemblers, and a bastard in the congregation of the righteous. By mouth he contends for a covenant that cannot save him, and in heart he hates the covenant that can. His head is at Mount Calvary, his heart and soul at Mount Sinai. he is a Pharisee at Horeb, and a hypocrite in Zion. He is a transgressor of the law of works, and a rebel to the law of faith; a sinner by the ministry of the letter, and an unbeliever by the ministry of the Spirit. As a wicked servant, he is cursed by the eternal law; and, as an infidel, he is damned by the everlasting gospel. And this is a real Antinomian in the sight of God .”

George Ella


George M. Ella is a historian, author and biographer. His writings may be accessed at the online archived, ”Biographia Evangelica”.

George M. Ella, born February 1939 in Yorkshire, England, has lived most of his life on the European Continent. He is a retired Senior Civil Servant formerly employed in teaching, post-graduate teacher-training, chairing examination boards and curricula work. He holds degrees from London, Hull, Uppsala, Essen, Duisburg and Marburg universities with doctorates in English Literature and Theology. Dr. Ella has written regularly since the seventies for a number of magazines and newspapers and published numerous books on Church History, including biographies of William Cowper, William Huntington, James Hervey, John Gill, Augustus Montague Toplady, Isaac McCoy and Henry Bullinger besides works on doctrine and education. He is currently finishing the third volume of his series 'Mountain Movers'; a biography of John Durie; a work on Law and Gospel and further study material for the Martin Bucer Seminar. Dr. Ella is still internationally active as a lecturer and is a Vice-President of the Protestant Reformation Society. He is keenly interested in missionary work and has written on the spread of the Gospel amongst the Same people of Lapland, the people of India and the Native Americans. This present volume follows Dr. Ella's 'The Covenant of Grace and Christian Baptism', also published by the Martin Bucer Seminar. George Ella is married to Erika Ella, nee Fleischman, a former government administrator, and they have two sons Mark (41), Director of a Polytechnic College in Bremerhaven and Robin (39), Leading Senior Physician in a newly-built Geriatric and Psychiatric clinic in Dessau.

George Ella on Doctrinal Matters
George Ella's Biographical Sketches