Restraining grace holds in the sinner, but it is renewing grace that changes his nature. Now many are held in by grace from being open sinners, that are not renewed by grace, and made true believers.Matthew Mead, The Almost Christian Discovered (New York: Sheldon, Blakeman & Co., 1856), 66.
Restraining grace may cause a moral change; but it is renewing grace that must cause a saving change. Now, many are under restraining grace, and so changed morally, that are not under the power of saving grace, and so changed savingly.Ibid., 89–90.
2. A man may have the Spirit, and yet not be born of the Spirit. Every true Christian is born of the Spirit. A hypocrite may have the gifts of the Spirit, but not the graces: the Spirit may be in him by the way of illumination, but not by way of sanctification; by way of conviction, but not by way of conversion. Though he may have much common grace for the good of others, yet he may have no special grace for the good of himself; though his profession be spiritual, yet his state and condition may be carnal.Ibid., 111.
Thirdly, Many deceive themselves with common grace instead of saving, through that resemblance that is between them. As many take counterfeit money for current coin, so do too many take common grace for true. Saul took the devil for Samuel, because he appeared in the mantle of Samuel: so many take common grace for saving, because it is like saving grace; a man may be under a supernatural work, and yet fall short of a saving work; the first raiseth nature, the second only reneweth nature: though every saving work of the Spirit be supernatural, yet every supernatural work of the Spirit is not saving; and hence many deceive their own souls, by taking a supernatural work for a saving work.Ibid., 173–174.
Some take common grace for saving; whereas, a man may believe all the truths of the gospel, all the promises, all the threatenings, all the articles of the creed, to be true, and yet perish for want of saving grace. Some take morality and restraining grace for piety and renewing grace; whereas it is common to have sin much restrained, where the heart is not renewed.Ibid., 187–188.
It is likeness which is the great ground of love; now there is the highest dissimilitude and unlikeness between an unregenerate sinner, and a child of God, and therefore a child of God cannot love a sinner as a sinner: "in whose eyes a vile person is contemned." He may love him as a creature; He may love his soul, or be may love him under some relation that he stands in to him. Thus God loves the damned spirits, as they are his creatures, but as fallen angels he hateth them with an infinite hatred. So to love a sinner quatenus a sinner, this a child of God cannot do; so neither can a sinner love a child of God as a child of God. That he may love a child of God, that I grant, but it is upon some other consideration; he may love a person that is holy, not the person for his holiness, but for some other respect.Ibid., 120–121.
Question. You say, "But how shall I come to know whether I am almost or altogether a Christian? If a man may go so far, and yet miscarry, how shall I know when my foundation is right—when I am a Christian indeed?"Ibid., 189–191.
Answer 1. The altogether Christian closes with, and accepts of Christ upon Gospel terms. True union makes a true Christian: many close with Christ, but it is upon their own terms; they take him and own him, but not as God offers him. The terms upon which God in the gospel offers Christ, are, that we shall accept of a broken Christ with a broken heart, and yet a whole Christ with the whole heart. A broken Christ with a broken heart, as a witness of our humility; a whole Christ with a whole heart, as a witness of our sincerity. A broken Christ respects his suffering for sin; a broken heart respects our sense of sin; a whole Christ includes all his offices; a whole heart includes all our faculties. Christ is a King, Priest, and Prophet, and all as Mediator. Without any one of these offices, the work of salvation could not have been completed. As a Priest, he redeems us; as a Prophet, he instructs us; as a King, he sanctifies and saves us. Therefore, the apostle says, "He is made to us a God of wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." Righteousness and redemption flow from him, as a Priest, wisdom, as a Prophet, sanctification, as a King.
Now many embrace Christ as a Priest, but yet they own him not as a King and Prophet; they like to share in his righteousness, but not to partake of his holiness; they would be redeemed by him, but they would not submit to him; they would be saved by his blood, but not submit to his power. Many love the privileges of the gospel, but not the duties of the gospel. Now these are but almost Christians, not withstanding their close with Christ; for it is upon their own terms, but not upon God's. The offices of Christ may be distinguished, but they can never be divided. But the true Christian owns Christ in all his offices: he doth not only close with him as Jesus, but as Lord Jesus: he says with Thomas, "My Lord, and my God." He doth not only believe in the merit of his death, but also conforms to the manner of his life. As he believes in him, so he lives to him: he takes him for his wisdom, as well as for his righteousness; for his sanctification, as well as his redemption.
"During the time of Oliver Cromwell's rule, Mead identified with the Independents. In 1658, Cromwell appointed Mead curate of Mew Chapel, Shadwell, near Stepney; however, Mead lost that position after the Restoration." Joel Beeke & Randall Pederson, Meet the Puritans, p. 444.
"In 1669, he formally became William Greenhill's assistant pastor at Stepney. Shortly after Greenhill's death in 1671, Mead was asked to succeed Greenhill as pastor. He was installed by John Owen on December 14." Ibid., 445.
"Mead succeeded Owen in 1683 as a Tuesday morning lecturer at Pinner's Hall, a position he held until his death. He wholeheartedly supported John Howe's attempt in 1690 to unite Presbyterians and Congregationalists. Mead was asked to preach for the service inaugurating "the Happy Union of Independents and Presbyterians" in Stepney on April 6, 1691." Ibid., 445.
"Mead died at the age of seventy on October 16, 1699. John Howe, who preached at Mead's funeral, called his friend a "very reverend and most laborious servant of Christ." Ibid., 446.