ORDER OF GRACE
HOW A SOUL MAY BE BROUGHT FROM SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS,
TO A KNOWLEDGE OF ITS SINFUL MISERY; AND THEREUPON
LED TO THE WOUNDS OF JESUS; AND IN THIS
MANNER, THROUGH FAITH, TO THE FORGIVENESS
OF SINS, AND A PIOUS LIFE.
IN FOUR DIALOGUES.
BY DAVID HOLLAZ
Minister Of The Gospel In Gunthersberg In Upper Pomerania.
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN
BY CHARLES ERDMANN,
CHARLESTON, (S. C.)
PRINTED BY J. HOFF, NO.6, BROAD-STREET.
HAVING been requested, to give my opinion of this truly edifying book, of which another new edition is about to be published, and to point out at the same time, how far superior this privileged edition is to that spurious one, printed at Erfurth; I praise and glorify God with all my heart for the blessing which he has bestowed upon this book (according to the Postscript to this revised edition, and other testimonies;) and I wish with equal sincerity, that our gracious and merciful Lord will further manifest himself in the souls of all attentive readers; and I do not doubt in the least of the continued efforts of divine mercy, in those who pay proper attention to the instructive directions of the first editor of this amended edition, how to read this book for the greatest benefit. Amongst the many wholesome proposals contained in these directions, the 6th, in my opinion is of particular consequence, according to which, each yet unconverted reader, must count himself sincerely, and with all his heart, among the principal sinners, and deem himself in his unconverted state, as lost and damned. “For this purpose,” it is said there,“The 1st, Dialogue will give sufficient instructions.” I will by no means deny this altogether. But nevertheless it seems to me, that it would be well done, and would have been as necessary and as useful to certain very numerous class of men, if it had pleased the author of this book, to have enforced at the very beginning, the highly necessary knowledge of sin, and of the divine wrath on account thereof, a little more circumstantially; and likewise to have given directions, how, by the law, we can obtain such knowledge. It is true, he mentions in his Introduction, that his book is not properly intended for very wicked sinners, and thinks with them there is no great occasion, as all the subterfuges and excuses of such sinners have been already sufficiently refuted in many writings. It were to be wished that all such obstacles to the conversion of such sinners were removed thereby entirely! But how many wicked sinners, do not see even the strongest instances of their sinful corruption, in all their hideousness, and the certainty of damnation connected therewith! True as it is, as is mentioned at the close of the said Introduction, that the most wicked man has sometimes something of own justice in him, upon which he depends; so true, it is likewise, that the self-righteous has not only sometimes, but almost always something, and frequently a great deal of the public works of the flesh in him, which can, and ought to be represented and brought to mind to them, if they shall not persist therein, and their repentance prevented thereby. A short representation thereof, according to the ten commandments, is to be found, page 13. — But according to my feeble judgment, it is too short and dressed in too many figurative words, that a raw, blinded sinner, should thereby obtain a sufficient knowledge of the deformity of his sin, and be convinced of the damnation he has subjected himself to. If you say to such a sinner, “Thou committest idolatry by thy love for the creature, yea, thou art thy own idol, offering incense to thy own snare,” &c. The most open sinner and idolater, for instance a miser, will not be convinced of his idolatry, if it is not plainly shown to him in what manner he does not love and fear God above all things, nor confide in him with all his heart; but on the contrary cleaves with his heart more to worldly things and himself, than to God. It requires certainly a great conviction, to convince a great sinner of such his idolatry. And so it is with other sins, according to the other commandments of the Lord. Yet do I believe that it is easier to convince a flagrant sinner, and generally an unconverted sinner, of his flagrant works of the flesh, and their sinfulness, and likewise of the damnation he has incurred thereby, by means of the divine law, than by means of the gospel, which page 14, is proposed to the sinner, as a means to learn the misery of his sin; — Will or can the unconverted believe, that he has scourged Jesus, that he has driven nails through his hands, &c. as long as he has no faith in the gospel? The law and its principal claims, God has written in the heart of every man. When, therefore, these claims are earnestly and plainly represented, and the works of the flesh militating against them; accusing reflections of conscience will be roused even in the most abandoned of sinners. But you may represent to them the most lamentable picture of the Lamb of God, immolated for the sins of the world, in the most heart-rending and moving manner, and they will not in the least be affected thereby, as long as the word of the cross of Christ is a folly to them, and is rejected by them, in their unbelief, as totally false and fictitious. Where sinners are already touched, where they have been brought already to some knowledge of their sins, and of the divine wrath on account of the same, and thereby drawn towards Christ, and have likewise already obtained a beginning of faith in them from the gospel, to such sinners, but who cannot be called wholly unconverted, but who are rather to be considered as convertants, or as such who may be converted; and also, to really converted sinners, who walk in the daily exercise of penitence, representations taken from the gospel of the torments which Christ had to suffer for the sins of all the world, may produce a deeper insight into their sinful state and corruption, and an inward sorrow for the same, than could have, been, done by the law. But with the totally unconverted, the glorious gospel of Christ, is in my opinion, used in vain for that purpose, without a previous reduction of the heart by the hammer of the law, and even against the intention of the gospel, which has ordered not to bring hardened, secure, and bold sinners to a knowledge of their sins, but to comfort hearts already softened and downcast, troubled and burdened. Likewise the apparently virtuous amongst the sinners, who have never experienced and felt anything of the great misery of their souls, and nothing of the working and wrestling for mercy, as they are described in the 2nd page, will never be brought to see their desperate condition without representations from the law, and to seek salvation in the wounds of Christ. It is a necessary as well as wholesome advice, that every one who wants to know the full extent of his sinful wretchedness, accord ing to page 16, should not stop at the breaking forth of the sin, but should properly learn to know the inborn wickedness of the heart, and spend whole days to observe the motions thereof. But how can this be done, and a proper judgment formed of thoughts, desires, inclinations, and passions, if the law of God as the judge of the thoughts and senses of the heart be not consulted? Even St. Paul, had not known lust, or hereditary sin, except the law had said thou shalt not covet. Or how can a slave of Satan observe, according to page 20, that if satan even loosens him of six chains, he holds him yet as captive by the seventh, unless he has a knowledge of the different works and snares of the devil from the law, and knows at the same time that every sin, in and by itself deserves and draws upon it eternal damnation? I fully agree to the paragraph page 23, “In the law is said thou shalt, that we may thereby be convinced of our total inability, and may say to Jesus, O Lord I cannot, help thou me!” But I conclude from thence, that it is highly necessary, that we should be convinced by the law of our total inability of true sanctity, if we want to come to Christ and believe in him. And who can deny, that to arrive at the knowledge of such total inability, requires likewise in the grosses sinner, a strong conviction. The most flagrant supposes himself certainly possessed of the power to perform a really good action, although he neither shows nor feels an inclination to do so.
This is what I have thought proper to observe upon the first dialogue of this book, on the second perusal thereof.
In the 2nd Dialogue, at the proposition page 63, “That the assurance belongs to justification, and must like that precede sanctification.” I find no sufficient proof, that this is actually fact, for the alledged words of Jesus, Thy sins are forgiven, prove clearly, that to the penitent and faithful, their sins are certainly forgiven before God in Heaven, but not that the assurance thereof always precedes sanctification. Would it not appear from the words of Jesus concerning the great sinner, “Her sins which are many are forgiven; for she loved much,” Luke vii. 47, whereby Jesus gave her most certainly the assurance, that her sins were forgiven her, that it might be supposed with truth, that her sanctification did indeed not precede her justification, but that it nevertheless preceded the assurance thereof, which she received from the mouth of Jesus.
In the 3rd Dialogue, the place cited page 78, from Pretorius’s writings, requires this short observation. Moses is properly by no means an enemy of faith, but he is only in that case looked upon as such, if you let him come, as Luther (see 2nd vol. of his works, Halle edition, page 1706) expresses himself, to fearful and weak sheep, that is to say, to frighten consciences already terrified, more still by the curse of the law. Else we know, and the author of this work testifies it, page 100, that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully — l Tim. i. 8. For by the law is the knowledge of sin — Rom. iii. 30. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ — Gal. iii. 24 — and also, before the souls come to faith, and remain yet in a state of repentance, they remain under the law, and shut up under the fear of the law — Gal. iii, 23, that they shall not turn again to wickedness and the world.
What else may yet be necessary and advisable to observe, at some places of this edifying work, will be found in the short annotations annexed thereto.
That finally this privileged edition is far preferable to the spurious one of Erfurth, appears first, by the clean and correct print, and good paper. Besides this, the preface which was prefixed to this amended edition of 1742, written by the Rev. Mr. Kramsch, and by him greatly augmented three years afterwards, has been even printed in the spurious Erfurth edition, not according to the last, but according to the first edition, consequently, all what the author of said preface has, after mature consideration thought proper, partly to alter and amend, and partly to add, is not to be found in said spurious edition. Then there has been added to said preface, an observation, it is true, but which contains nothing particular, and being written in a very obscure style, might be well dispensed with. The same may be said of some short observations upon the Order of Grace itself, one only excepted, which concerns the above mentioned assertion, respecting the assurance of forgiveness of sins, and which states that the said assurance as a fruit of justification, lies, as it were, concealed under the leaves of the tree, and cannot always be found, (should be, perhaps, felt) in the hour of tribulation. Besides this, not to mention the many typographical errors, where whole words, and even half lines are omitted in some places, and words exchanged, there is in the first line of the 82nd page, the word only inserted after signs of sanctification, and in order to justify this insertion, the following note is added: “For the trial of our faith a (should be and) assurance of our state of grace, as well when we are first converted in (instead of to) God, as also when we are under tribulation, these signs of sanctification are certainly likewise necessary.” If we take the words of the recited piece, in their whole connection, and consider in particular, the limitation contained in the words, in your present state, the insertion of the word only, as well as the observation made, seem to be unnecessary and useless.
The God of peace sanctify all readers of this book thoroughly, and may their spirit, together with soul and body, be preserved irreproachable, until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. To him be glory to all eternity — Amen.
CHRISTOPH HAYMANN, M. A.
Meissen, 1st June, 1761.