By: Hermann Witsius (1636-1708)
The Antinomian-Neonomian controversy of the 17th century was initiated by the republication of a set of sermons by Tobias Crisp entitled "Christ alone exalted" which were accused of antinomianism by Richard Baxter who in turn was accused of 'neonomianism', "the idea that Christ has, by his atonement, so lowered the requirements of the law that mere endeavor is accepted in room of perfect obedience."
"The name antinomianism is a comparatively modern designation of several types of ethical thought in which hostility to the Mosaic law and to the principles therein embodied has led to immoral teaching and practise...1. That the Moral Law is of no use at all to a believer, nor a rule for him to walk in, nor to examine his life by, and that Christians are free from the mandatory power of it: whence one of them [Antinomians] cried out in the pulpit, "Away with the Law, which cuts off a mans legs and then bids him walk." 2. That it is as possible for Christ to sin as for a child of God to sin. 3. That the child of God need not nor ought not to ask pardon for sin, and that it is no less than blasphemy for him so to do. 4. That God doth not chasten any of his children for sin, nor is it for the sins of God's people that the land is punished. 5. That if a man know himself to be in a state of grace, though he be drunk, or commit murder, God sees no sin in him."
"The learned and orthodox Witsius undertook to review the sermons along with the books of other writers, with whom Dr Crisp had no connection; and he wrote an Irenicum, which may be fairly said to absolve him from all accusations, except as to what were called some paradoxical assertions concerning the utility of holiness and good works, which "appear with quite another face when the hideous vizard of the most rugged phrases is torn off". The Theology of Consolation, David Agnew
This led to the appeal made to him by London ministers some years afterwards, to arbitrate on the differences of doctrines... The result was the publication, in 1696, of the book known as Witsius' s Irenicum, which was received with gratitude and admiration by readers acquainted with Latin. It was not till the year 1807 that an English translation was published, the work of the late Rev. Thomas Bell of Glasgow, a minister of the Relief Synod. The title of the English work, which is a literal translation of the original, is "Conciliatory or Irenical Animadversions on the controversies agitated in Britain under the unhappy names of Antinomians and Neonomians." The Theology of Consolation, David Agnew