By: Edward Fisher
The gospel method of sanctification, as well as of justification, lies so far out of the understanding of natural reason, that if all the rationalists in the world, philosophers and divines, had consulted together to lay down a plan, for repairing the lost image of God in man, they had never hit upon that which the divine wisdom had pitched upon, viz., That sinners should be sanctified in Christ Jesus, 1 Cor. 1:2, by faith in him, Acts 26:18. Nay, being laid before them, they would have rejected it with disdain as foolishness, 1 Cor. 1:23.
In all views which fallen man has, towards the means of his own recovery, the natural bent is to the way of the covenant of works. This is evident in the case of the vast multitudes throughout the world. All these agree in this one principle, "That it is by doing men must live," though they hugely differ as to the things to be done for life.
The book is in Dialogue form, and is divided into two parts. In the first, which deals with the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, the dialogue is conducted by Evangelista, a Minister of the Gospel; Nomista, a Legalist; Antinomista, an Antinomian; and Neophytus, a young Christian. The second part, touching the most plain, pithy, and spiritual exposition of the Ten Commandments, is carried on by Evangelista and Neophytus together with Nomologista, a prattler about the Law.
The writer, who gives his own views through Evangelista, was said to be an Oxford graduate of good social position but no ecclesiastical standing, who lived the life of a recluse among his books, and had won a reputation for Patristic lore and skill in Hebrew and New Testament Greek. Those who disliked the book and its teaching, and desired to suppress it, attempted to raise a feeling of prejudice against it by representing the author as a tool in the hands of the Independents against Presbyterianism, and a person of mean origin and occupation to wit, a barber, who, dissatisfied with the position in which Providence had placed him, aspired to that of an Independent minister.
Hervey calls it "a book designed to guard equally against Antinomian licentiousness and legal bondage. The thoughts are just and striking ; the arguments solid and convincing ; the diction is familiar yet perspicuous; and the doctrine exceedingly comfortable because truly evangelical. . . . Perhaps I may venture to say that this little treatise pours as much light upon the gospel and grace of Christ and . . . affords as many important distinctions in divinity as any book of its size whatever." - Summary by Thomas Boston in the Preface and Henry F Henderson in The Religious Controversies of Scotland
Antinomista: KHandEvangelista: InTheDesertNeophitus: Larry WilsonNomista & Nomologista: TriciaG