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The covenantal quietism of Tobias Crisp (1).

As England's public upheavals of the mid-seventeenth century were turning ominous, the antinomian preacher Tobias Crisp set his own stamp upon tempestuous times. Christ Alone Exalted comprises a series of sermons that Crisp delivered, "in or neare London," in the early 1640s. The collection oozes discontent. Excrescences theological and devotional, Crisp had decided, needed to be removed, for they were imperiling vulnerable souls. Christian truths were now contending with "brethren" too smitten by the "righteousnesse of the Law" to stand in any but an adversarial relationship with "the free grace of God which is by faith." (2) Crisp offered a reparative blade. He repaired by cutting and thrusting, and in so doing sought to make amends for a host of puritan horrors. And for all the quietism that informed his alternative covenantal vision, Crisp did not operate softly. He had targets in his sights; he would dislodge from its place of security in the hearts and minds of the brethren a world of religious thought and action. The seethingly indignant responses of his critics testify to the bang with which Crisp had arrived. Crisp delivered a combustible mix of acrid polemic and nonconforming theology. He let it be known that an overly legalized soteriology had precipitated a pandemic of religious troubles; a desiccated, formulaic piety was smothering the spiritual life out of the gospel message. In short, Crisp was issuing a vigorous challenge to the legitimacy of a pietistic tradition that was overly elaborated and destructive of souls.

Crisp's was a powerful, audacious voice, though it remains a relatively disembodied one. Little is known of the antinomian incumbent of the Wiltshire living of Brinkworth, to which Crisp was presented in 1627. Theodore Dwight Bozeman positions Crisp among a group of "disillusioned veterans of godly religion," depicting a somewhat equivocal antinomian who nevertheless participated in the "antinomian backlash" against "precisianist" austerity. During the 1620s and 1630s, Crisp appears to have been involved in a widely spread though London-based "antinomian movement" that David Como describes, persuasively and in considerable detail, as a "subculture" of "mainstream puritanism." (3) The heavy hand of high ecclesiastical politics disrupted the movement's ways and scattered its personnel during the period of Laudian ascendancy. However, the Long Parliament (assembled in November 1640) had the Laudians in its sights, though the question of whether or not MPs had antinomians in their bellies can be, in the present state of knowledge, a matter for speculation only. (4) Nevertheless, the fall of Archbishop Laud carried antinomian consequences scarcely intended by architects of the fall. Voices of a puritan persuasion held the field now, and it is one of Como's important contributions to have portrayed the antinomian movement as a cultural phenomenon, as a multidimensional mutation of puritan intellectuality and sociability. Thus, if it was possible for William Prynne, having returned to London from Laudian exile in November 1640, freely to speak his mind in print, so too might puritan confreres, and puritan-minded rebutters of puritan malpractice, take to the presses in order to seize the day--a seizure, to be sure, that Prynne and his kind would bitterly regret for the erosion of moral and intellectual standards that could be considered its sordid sequel. As William Lamont notes, the cultural trope that was Abiezer Coppe--a midcentury Ranter, and a name designating antinomian excess in its repulsive plenum--was itself constructed by hostile minds from Crispian raw materials: "No Crisp," we might aphorize, "no Coppe." (5) But, viewed from 1642, the transgressions of Coppe were an as yet unassembled cautionary tale for puritans, though Crisp would shortly incite puritan opponents to begin the task of confecting the lineaments of the culture of "wantonnesse" that Coppe came so horribly to embody for puritans such as Richard Baxter. "Stricter godly control," for Lamont, was "the promise that stirred the puritan imagination." (6) Crisp and his spiritual offspring spiced the imagined promise with sharp urgency.

The London, then, in which Crisp was preaching in 1642, was energized by new opportunities for religious expression both dissonant and reactionary. With the dismantling of the mechanisms of ecclesiastical censorship during the early months of the Long Parliament, voices from Como's subculture were more able than ever before to be heard and read; and voices of puritan opponents were available, too, for the hearing and reading. Sophisticated ideologues were feeding the capital's appetite for religious discourse. Much of this discourse was necessarily apologetic and polemical, some of it intemperate and scabrous, even revolutionary, in intent and implication. The world of discourse and association that was emerging in Crisp's London was providing heresiographical opportunities for the likes of Samuel Rutherford and Thomas Edwards--members of the dominant puritan culture who knew their ways of mind, heart, and community to be under siege from an increasingly lurid subculture that could no longer be nurtured nor its faults gently corrected. (7) Crisp, indeed, joined John Eaton, Robert Towne, John Saltmarsh, and William Dell as a major figure, a prime contaminant, in presbyterian expositions of rampant antinomian heresy and blasphemy, of schism and libertinism.

For his part, Crisp was exercised by the pastoral malfeasance of practical puritanism. We catch glimpses from Crisp of the agitated tenor of the times. In diagnosing puritan ailments, Crisp proved himself a confronting spiritual physician. Puritan pastors had stretched out the long "day of extremitie" in prescribing introspective disciplines that shredded the fragile "wits" of assurance-seekers. "Many souls", he observes, are "extreamly puzzled ... and very much troubled"; disquieted selves are "bond-slaves" under the law of God. To those menaced in "this fearfull time" by puritan uses of the law--terrified by the din of "loud peals of curses"--Crisp would minister the free and unconditional "acquittal" secured by Christ. (8) The voice of Crisp is the voice of the subculture turning fiercely upon the cultural mainstream. As will be seen, Crisp's end was quietist, but his means were uncompromisingly polemical and pugnacious. His polemics, moreover, were deftly constructed; he cunningly unleashed puritan batteries upon puritan targets. In conducting his diagnosis and waging his war, he demonstrated--uncomfortably, for his opponents--the pliability of puritan discourse. Crisp turned upon the cultural mainstream, but he did so in a way that showed how the latter could be made to recoil, damagingly, upon itself. As his opponents recognized, Crisp's time in the sun was a point of emergency for the puritan way of piety.

Crisp dealt in complex ways with puritan divinity. In what follows, the covenant of grace will serve as the focal point for an examination of Crisp's engagement with puritanism. When puritans spoke of the covenant, they were concerning themselves with the ways in which God interacted with the human beneficiaries of His saving grace, and also with the ways in which graced souls returned thankfulness to Him in the form of the devotional works identified as the "fruits" of the gift of faith. One opponent censured Crisp for building "that unhappy structure which turneth the Grace of God into wantonness." (9) Crisp pursued quietist rather than wanton objectives, though he conceded, uneasily, that "wantonnesse" and "licencious undertaking" are perennially at the brink of issuing forth from quietist temperaments. (10) Consciousness of the abundance of grace carried this danger, though Crisp directed his detestation more at pious duties than wanton ways. Puritan heresy hunters might contend that disapprobation of duties led inevitably to wantonness, and that both were entailed by the repudiation of the law of God--the signature that underwrote all manifestations of antinomian license. Much was riding on conceptions of divine grace and human depravity, and on how the covenant managed the interactions between gracious creator and depraved creature.

Those interactions, for Crisp, were pursued within a "quiet" economy of unconditional grace. Crisp envisioned a Christ-enabled silencing of legalist "noise." Because Christ had satisfied divine justice and effected the "evaporation" of sin, (11) there was no need for the redeemed any longer to bear the penitential burdens that puritan pastors were disposed to lay upon their backs--it was one of Crisp's favorite sermonic tasks to elicit comfort from the strength of Christ's substitutionary, burden-bearing back. (12) Crisp, then, propounded a place of quiet repose. This place, the covenant of grace, is shaped profoundly by the Crucifixion, which, in turn, acquires its efficacy from God's "decree and election"--His "eternal act" or "fiat of the Lord from all eternitie," a heavenly "transaction" establishing Christ's sin-bearing office on behalf of the elect. (13) Time and eternity thus intersect in the blood of Christ, the principal gift of the covenant. The "perfection of what Christ did" is unilinear, moving without deflection from decretive beginning to blessed end; and though the fiat of the decree bespeaks an absence of temporal succession, the covenant discharges a "value" that pardons the sins of the elect from the Crucifixion back to Adam, and then onwards "until the end of the world." Christ wages war on sin, the "defeat" of which God "inflicts" on him, thus making the theater of operation--at least for the elect--a silent front. There would be no laboring for faith or working out of salvation in fear and trembling. "There is not," for the elect, "some new thing to bee done"; Christ has done all. (14)

Tobias Crisp articulated a style of piety that renounced all vestiges of application of human agency in the journey to salvation. The staging posts of Crisp's journey are utterly divine both in formulation and in execution: namely, an unconditional decree of election; a redemptive sacrifice grounded in an eternal decree; an attribution of justification that proceeds in the absence of "instrumental" faith; and a dispensation of covenantal grace that is unadulterated by conditions designed to solicit human inputs--and, collaterally, to engender the "fearfull time" of inner trauma for seekers after assurance. Soteriologically, Crisp's covenant channels the inimitable sacrifice of Christ and the unqualified love of God; polemically, it performs blade-work, excising the injurious superfluities of puritan "legalists."


Their doctrine of postlapsarian existence informed puritan divines that human souls were sites of total depravity. In presiding over an endless resurgence of sin, puritans lived the reality of their doctrine. The covenant of grace, as Perry Miller put it, maintained a corps of practitioners of "psychological vivisection," authors of a divinity that "tortured its votaries" (15) by requiring them ceaselessly to examine their innermost selves and to be ever ready to mourn over and offer repentance for the sins that lurked, ineradicably, there. Lacerated by remorse at the sight of sin, covenanted souls have been described as experiencing bouts of "therapeutic" misery that provoked them to excavate from their inner "qualifications" the "tokens" of the Spirit's work. (16) Tobias Crisp can be imagined wholeheartedly concurring with such assessments of puritan malady. The puritan problem, for Crisp, lay nestled in a betrayal of primary principles. Humanity was depraved: such was the Adamic bequest; free grace saved the depraved soul: such was the point of Christ's coming and suffering. The snake in the grass was a recrudescent Moses, who seduced puritans into breaching primary principles in the interest of self-cultivation of unattainable righteousness. It was a vanity to suppose that pietistic performances could answer the law. (17) Those who "run after Moses and the Law for their peace and satisfaction of spirit" were overlooking their depravity and running without grace; "where," Crisp enquired, "are your qualifications while there is no strength?" In the legalists' "sweat and toile and moile ... there is no strength to bring forth, because you go in your own strength, or the strength of the Creature, and not in the strength of the Lord Jesus." (18) Quietist questions and resolutions carried incendiary potential, as Crisp appreciated: the devaluation of "qualifications" might spawn an attitude of "farewell all obedience and performances," but this was a nonsense, for God "hath set up a course of uprightnesse." (19)

What mattered was the restoration of primary principles. Crisp cut through the delusions and fabrications of the law in order to re-couple the principle of total depravity with the principle of free grace. In so doing he salvaged the puritans' covenant of grace, but he set it on a noticeably quietist--for his puritan opponents, an alarmingly quietist--course. Crisp captured the ideological context: those whom the legalists "despised" were the proponents of "free grace," who "sit" rather than "run," since human legs lack "strength," and who therein "rest upon the promises of the Gospel, though they be themselves full of sin." (20)

Christ takes away sin. This was no platitude: to Crisp's mind, puritans--for all their irremediable anxiety at the consequences of sin--were running after Moses rather than resting upon the gospel. Puritans were insensitive to their own legalist stench, but the covenant of grace offered perceptual remedies. Christ brings sight of the "losse and dung" in human righteousness and so is given "for a covenant to the people, to open the blind eyes." He reveals the "filth" of legal doings, "wherby the sin appears clearly manifest to be out of measure sinfull and intolerably noisome, and gives to a man to smel his own stink." (21) The noise and stink were radiated by an apparatus of sanctimonious devotion: ecclesial "priviledges," penitential "self-denials," endlessly reiterated disciplines of "fasting, mourning, and praying in these times which I believe no former age could paralel." Legalists had so "over-exalted" the virtue of their regimen as to "suffocate" the souls who take the "poison" in which it consists. (22) More abominably, the legalists had proceeded even to "devour" and "disthrone" Christ himself. Crisp would exalt Christ in delivering a powerful message of sola gratia. His way of grace was quiet and still, diametrically opposed to that of the prevalent religious culture, which, in making salvation a matter of "debt" rather than grace, was all effort and stench and "hideous out cries for prayers, mournings, fastings, and such like." (23)

The "foul blur of Antinomianism" was a reproach to be deflected by iconoclasts of the "stumbling-block" and "idol" of "our righteousness." The latter, once "established" by the law, "encroaches upon the privileges and prerogatives" of divine righteousness; self blasphemously supersedes God. (24) There was work to be done in preparation for the reign of quietude; hence Crisp's reparative blade. With Paul, Crisp would "ruinate" and cast on a "dunghill" the "rotten materialls" of "legall blamelesnes" and "glittering workes" and "exactest obedience" in order to "exhibite" Christ as the "securest Citie or refuge"; he would silence the "rhetoricall commendations, and ascribing of virtue and efficacy" to "mans righteousnesse"; he would "renounce" human works for the sake of the Christ whom he had resolved to exalt. (25) Dichotomizing with a vengeance, Crisp would destroy the gaudy temple of the law in order to set sights on the Christic refuge.

The frequently upbeat Richard Sibbes--much given to the "joy and comfort" of spiritual life--recommended a "daily practice of abasing ourselves," the corollary being that sight of the "corruption" that "stained" the "graces in us" would "make us hunger and thirst after the sense and feeling of free pardon." We "enter deeper and deeper into ourselves," examining the heart for "some mark of regeneration" and "evidence that we are in a state of grace with God." (26) Crisp would warn of dangers incident to the febrile interrogation of "signes and marks." In this pursuit, grace is obscured by self-made coils of anxiety that grip self-intoxicated souls. To pietistic "performances," Crisp linked misadventures of "selfishnesse." The "fruites" and "graces of sanctification" amounted to the artificial harvest of a rigorism that "deceived" its "troubled" and "puzzled" devotees; in "culling out" from their tenterhooked selves the "dispositions and qualifications" that were expected to assemble at conversion, the searchers after "comfort" were tripping at a "stumbling blocke." (27) Puritan technologies of repentance impinged too obtrusively upon the assurance-seeking self, to which the clamorous traffic in "signes and marks" ministered too much law and scarcely a drop of grace. Penitential austerities were keyed to the law, which delivered not "peace" but a "curse." (28) Crisp spoke tendentiously of the puritan way, but his one-sidedness pulled nevertheless at genuine strings. He himself had despaired at the evanescence of penitential comfort: a "godly" but "melancholious" man, Crisp, according to the presbyterian Samuel Rutherford, had "builded much on qualifications and signes" before falling "to the other extremity of no signes of sanctification at all." (29)

Puritans wrestled with anxiety and corruption, with obedience that lacked stamina and assurance that lost its glow. In time of "desertion" or "despair," Sibbes admonished in a vivisectional moment, it was well to contemplate the "Father of mercies," which contemplation would take a course to imperatives concerning repentance and regeneration. Subjected to examination, the penitent soul yields knowledge of its cumulative "enrichment," of the infused qualities that become manifest in religious tasks: "some ornaments, some jewels some works of regeneration." (30) Appraisal of the heart motivates obedience to divine law, which, by degrees, liberates the soul from sin.

Penitential gatekeepers to their own selves, puritans resorted constantly to the law of God in order to discover, and cudgel, the many sins that populated the inventories of their intensive self-surveillance. Even in their obedience and devotion they knew themselves to be rebellious and impure; and yet knowledge so troubling witnessed to purification in progress, for a purifying soul will know itself to be troubled by residual blemishes. Trouble, then, fashions a tonic for itself. Herein lay a fine occasion for practical application of the dialectic of law and grace. The soul was saved by the grace of a merciful God, but the law revealed to it the remorselessness of its depravity; and the confrontation with depravity, in turn, inspired thankfulness for the sheer mercy of the grace that brings eternal blessedness to the unworthy.

And yet, paradoxically, the Christ who saves the puritan soul initiates an affair of destiny in which like unites with like in a bond of mutual attraction. Puritans could expand gorgeously upon the Pauline dictum of the saints' predestined "conformity" to the "image of the Son of God" and of their mystical incorporation into his body. John Preston was a master elaborator of this tale of the heart. "Faith," he insisted, "is not onely an act of the minde, to believe that God will pardon us; but of the Will and heart also, to take Christ for our Husband; so that all the parts of the heart are inclined and bent after him." (31) The puritan love match depends for its blessed outcome upon the forensic imputation of Christ's righteousness. "No flesh can be saved" were Christ's righteousness not available for the imputing. (32) Additionally, infusions of sanctifying righteousness adorn the conduct of the holy romance. "By faith we are engrafted into Christ, and made one with him, flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, lively members of that body, whereof he is the head: and by Christ wee are united unto God." So proclaimed John Ball, whose Pauline meditation switches deftly between the shield against punishment for sin and the curative economy that vanquishes sin's power, between justification and sanctification, between righteousness imputed and infused: "By faith wee are married unto Christ, and have communion with him in his death and resurrection, he and all his benefits are truly and verily made ours; his name is put upon ours, wee are justified from the guilt and punishment of sinne, we are clothed with his righteousnesse, wee are sanctified against the power of sinne, having our nature healed and our hearts purified: wee draw vertue from him to die to sinne, and to live to righteousnesse." (33)

Sibbes dealt likewise with Ephesians 5:30, pointing to a Christ-wrought freedom from the law's "condemnatory power" and to a Spirit-borne freedom from the "commanding power of sin." (34) "Dead to sin," the sanctified soul is responsive to divine direction, willing to have its conduct regulated by biblical protocol. The holy romance ensured that this need not be the dreary, grinding work of drudges and bondsmen, for Christ, as Preston put it, dispenses to "his members" a "living influence ... that workes upon their hearts and wils"; this force "insinuates itselfe from Christ unto them," and thus "moves them to obedience." (35) Sibbes declared, tapping the same numinous vein, that the Spirit "enricheth" Christ's "mystical members; ... there is in the mystical body but one Spirit quickening and enlivening, and moving the head and the members. He is a head of influence, as well as a head of eminence." Regenerate souls constitute "a voluntary people, and not compelled into Christ's service, otherwise than by the sweet constraint of love." (36)

The "mortification" and "vivification" in which puritans spoke of the "two parts of repentance"--the "slaying" of sin and the living unto righteousness--were matters of obedience to divine command; but the burdensomeness of the holy walk might be ameliorated by a Pauline affectivity: repentance vouchsafed opportunity to "feele the power of [Christ's] death, and the vertue of his resurrection; ... if you would have your sinnes mortified, you must by Faith draw Christ into your hearts." (37) The "must" is an imperative conditioned by the prior indwelling of the Spirit, (38) so Preston, here, is not telling saints to marshal an autonomous power in order to prevail forcibly upon Christ. Yet Preston--like other "Perkinsian" federalists, such as Richard Sibbes, John Ball, and William Perkins himself--maintained that human faculties, or "second causes," were not obliterated in the regenerative process. (39) The "necessity of infallibility" might not be resisted; nor might it do "violence" to the operation of human faculties upon which it worked. (40) Given the premise of total depravity, however, the faculties cannot be relied upon as they stand: operational rectitude will depend upon God's giving of "a new Heart; that is, a new Will to turne and love God." The renewal can be construed as a voluntary yet irresistible "inclination" to holiness: replenished with "new qualities and habits" and infused with "spirituall life," the soul will operate as rightly it should--in free and ready concurrence with God. The irresistibility of grace, then, implied no "force offered to the Will, which is repugnant to its nature, but onely an insuperable efficacy of Divine Grace, which inclines the Will sweetly and agreeably to its owne nature, but so certainly and necessarily ... that it cannot be put off by the Will." (41)

Such scholastic aridity was capable of hortatory articulation in the covenantal setting of the holy romance. The members of Preston's covenant of grace would have divine law written on their renewed hearts by the finger of God; each soul's "new disposition" would serve as a "stop" to the "passage of sinne." (42) With the covenant struck, the mystical transfusions of the Christic body could make of obedience to divine law a lovely and willingly pursued program for living:
 He that takes Christ, is subject to him; for so soone as there is an
 union made betweene the soule and Christ, so soone there is a power
 goes out from him, which bowes and fashions the heart, and makes
 it willing to keepe his Lawes, it causeth such a motion in the
 heart, as is in the members from the head: so soone as the will is
 willing to doe a thing, there is a readinesse also in the members,
 and the reason is this, because there is the same spirit that is in
 the head transfused into the members, and so here the same spirit is
 communicated from Christ by vertue of this union to the members, and
 as soone as that union shall be perfect, and the Spirit shall dwell
 in all fulnes in us, then we shall have a full readinesse to obey
 him. (43)

Puritans found in the covenant of grace a means of managing the imitatio Christi--a means that came stocked with a bounty of grace and a regulatory standard, a means that offered righteousness both imputative and infused, and that distributed a confluence of causes in a scheme that left all initiative with the Deity while respecting the subordinate causality of saintly hearts, minds, and wills. Pietistic and disciplinary commitments flowed forth, set to work by the Spirit. There was devotional sweat aplenty, here, but it was willingly shed, extracted by the "readinesse" that informs spiritual motion. And in their examinations of their Christ-like devotions, the saints were trekking a path to assurance.


In Christ Alone Exalted, Tobias Crisp propounded a very different covenantal agenda. For Crisp, the sinner might not legitimately entertain aspirations to Christ-likeness, for in this was displayed the sin of pride; nor might the covenant oversee the achievement of such mimetic dreams, for these were exploded by the puritan premise of total depravity. Puritan devotees of the imitatio, in Crisp's view, were failing to be true to puritan contemplators of the Adamic bequest--"that universall leprosie and loathsomnesse over-spreading man." (44) The bequest of depravity was not to be mitigated by the law's solicitation of "our righteousnesses." There should be no holy walk in the covenant, no pious passage to a goal of Christic mimesis. Crisp envisages not a Christ-patterned walk into a sanctified future, but rather a simple act of biblically informed remembrance, an easy, if humbling, mental backtrack to the cross--to the "comforting" sight of Christ's self-sacrifice. (45) To this the Holy Spirit, speaking to faith, would add an assuring message of particularized pardon.

Crisp recognized the need for obedience to God, but he suppressed the puritan sense of reciprocity that energized the rounds of penitential devotion. The circuitry of the puritan love match activates human agency, giving it a key role in the assemblage of assuring "evidence." This, to Crisp's mind, was to muddy the flow of free grace, the passage of which was uncompromisingly unilateral. Thus, the "supply" of "mortification" and of "duties of piety ... must come from Christ alone"; and a Christocentric affectivity that delights in the unconstrained rush of grace has Christ, abundantly hospitable, serving "flaggons" rather than "cups" or "half cups," and so "there is a kind of inebriating, whereby Christ doth in a spiritual sence, make Believers that keep him company, spiritually drunk." (46) Human causality becomes a casualty to the festive play of grace. But the core of Crispian grace resides more in Christ's substitutionary sacrifice than in his spiritual presence. The mortification of sin was a work of the cross--a discipline not for human agency, but for that of Christ, who "supplies" and "serves," whose blood releases a forensic grace that "cleanses" sin by "forgetting" its filth. Crisp treats sparingly of inner graces that mortify and vivify, for he is little interested in the "inherent" status of the soul, in conversionary experience; his obsession lies not in the sanctification of the "inward mail" (47) but in the "transaction" of the cross, wherein the sins of the elect were laid upon the redeemer's back, requiring him to suffer the pains of hell. (48)

So conceived, atonement gives shape to covenant. (49) Crisp magnifies the inimitability of Christ's obedience, and he fixes with occasional hyperbolic ostentation on the depravity and dependence of those for whom the inimitable blood has been shed. God, by virtue of Christ's singular self-oblation, "purges" the "filthinesse" of the elect, but He does so "by way of imputation, in [His] reckoning and account." (50) Forensic grace, unaccompanied by infused, secures salvation; and there remains nothing else to be done, other than the relatively minor matter--in the scheme of things--of Christ's distributing the gift of faith and releasing his Spirit to tell the faithful that their justification has already been clinched. Whereupon, in the wake of the Spirit's news, comfort and joy quietly abound.

Atonement, then, disqualifies the puritan praxis. The array of duties to be pursued in the puritan covenant takes on a "highly presumptive" dimension, (51) for such an array strikes at the efficacy of the atonement. The "plenary remission" that is unobtainable in the Edenic covenant of works and in the old priestly covenant--the latter dripping in the "blood of Bulls and Goats" (52)--is delivered in the "new" covenant on account of Christ's blood. One consequence is the deflation of the vivisectional impulse: since Christ has atoned for all of the sins of the elect--whether they be acts of harlotry, idolatry, or blasphemy, murders, rebellions, adulteries, and so on (53)--the assurance of "full discharge" should deflect soul-crushing worries about fruits of depravity. The coupling of depravity with free grace engendered liberation of the psyche, for, Crisp declaimed, "it is but the voice of a lying spirit in your own hearts, that saith, that you that are beleevers have yet sin wasting your consciences, and lying as a burthen too heavy for you to bear." The burden had been borne by Christ, whose blood issued in "acquittance" for sinners. Since sin had been "transacted" to Christ, there was no call for the self-lacerations of the mournful conscience: Christ "is come already: Therefore you may save all your pains, and care, and feare; ... the worke is done." (54)

A covenant that emanates from the cross does away with the guilt of sin; (55) ominously for legalists, it also renders superfluous the holy walk, which carries "vaine" penitential "conceits" into consciences in search of relief from the "burthen" of their sins. (56) It was usually Crisp's manner to be singing a "sweet song" of substitutionary atonement, (57) associating Christ's blood with benevolence and pardon, with a reservoir of free grace or "absolute and full discharge" for the elect; (58) but puritan sins occasioned a gathering of darker associations. For Crisp, puritans provoked the Lord by refusing to honor the inimitability of a sacrifice that made of the new covenant a "perfect" structure of grace. (59) Puritan deception would send God to the end of the tether of His patience, extracting from Crisp a brief reprobative register, or at least an unsustained discourse of doom. "If you think that this one sacrifice" of Christ "is not enough to serve your turne, but you will look to other sacrifices, services and rites," Crisp thundered,
 there remaines no more sacrifice for your sinne: as if the Apostle
 should say, you will but deceive your selves to looke for any other
 way for pardon: You may think such and such services of mine, my
 confessions, my Prayers, my Fastings, will doe something towards
 the remission of sins: But deceive not your selves in this, there
 remaines no more sacrifices for sin. Christ was but once offered; if
 you will not conclude to adhere to that one Sacrifice once offered
 ... you will certainly miscarry, there will be no other remedy,
 but indignation and wrath will fall upon you: everything else will
 faile, There remains no more sacrifice for sin. (60)

Before long, Crisp has ceased his imprecatory chant and is again singing sweetly, observing that "the Lord never poures out indignation and wrath as the desert of his people, he never looks to satisfie himselfe with any punishment of any member of Christ." (61) One surmises that the puritan "you" of the foregoing passage, absorbed in rites of confession, prayer, and fast, had never taken rank among the Lord's "people." Puritans were people of the law; it was against a legal standard that Crisp depicts them measuring their righteousness--which is to say, as Crisp would have it, their sins. Puritan sins, disregarding of Christ's sacrifice, will "multiply" the divine wrath. (62)

In the folds of his discourse of sin, Crisp wrapped an acidic caricature of puritan devotion. The effects of sin will be overcome by grace, not by the cultivation of further sin masquerading, at puritan direction, as godliness. Crisp's paired principles of total depravity and free grace liberate the saving covenant from sanctification's deadly "noise" and "glitter." In the context of the early 1640s, as antinomian excesses appeared to orthodox clergy to be getting out of hand, Crisp's quietism came explosively and menacingly upon the scene, offering a drama of salvation very unlike that elaborated in the puritan covenant.


A considerable scholarly literature has shown us that the covenant of grace was a fundamental component of puritan theology. (63) God established the covenant in order to bring the elect to Christ, ensuring that, through the gift of unfailing faith, they were united savingly with him. The covenant facilitates relationships; it opens reciprocal channels between its divine and human parties. Love, poured out from God in the form of gifts, would be returned by the faithful--willingly and lovingly--as acts of devotion. The covenant's treasure is the unconditionality of God's love for the elect. Faith is the principal condition of covenant entry, but divine love will ensure that faith is delivered as a pure gift to its intended recipients, who, in reciprocating God's favor, will engage their resources in the "act" of faith. The community of believers, further, will testify their thankfulness by making obedience to divine law the hallmark of their lives, by cultivating the "fruits" of faith; but this, too, is a reciprocal endeavor, for it is powered by a constantly released stream of grace that rectifies the minds, hearts, and wills of the faithful.

In a splendid delineation of the puritan art of self-disciplining, Theodore Dwight Bozeman lays bare the grind and grunt of a compelled and routinized holy walk in the covenant. (64) And yet accents of spontaneity, of inspirited "readinesse," of devotional "motions" and "doings" that arise mysteriously and without compulsion out of a conjugal "transfusion," of obedience performed lovingly by a "voluntary people" are also to be caught from the covenantal utterances of puritans. Tobias Crisp belongs, notionally, with Bozeman. Crisp strikingly registered his repulsion at the monstrosity of the holy walk. He shot sharp polemical arrows at the grind and felt unable to credit the "readinesse." His soteriology was determinedly unilinear: he stretched a line from decree to Christ, who gave "being" to an unconditional covenant, (65) and thence to a justification that was pronounced prior, and without reference, to the act of faith. In this keenly absolutist construal of grace, there was to be no dialectical zigzag between grace and law in an evangelically pietist frame. To the "holy walkings" of the precise, Crisp contrasts the "mercy" and "mere will" of God; "holy dispositions and actions" are only "improperly" to be called "grace," and Crisp's predilection, indeed, is to assimilate them to an antigracious legalism. Thus, he offers the lamentable sight of such as would "run to their inherent Righteousness, to their Qualifications, to their Prayers, to their Teares, to their Humiliations, and Sorrows, and Reformations, universal Obedience and the like. But is this to run to Free Grace, and Free Mercy in Christ? Nay, Christ alas, he is never thought of, Christ is clean forgotten, and wholly neglected." (66) "Running" and "doing" with Moses, Crisp's puritans were ministering a covenant of works. (67) We will not learn from Crisp the important lesson that puritans had more to offer their votaries than the relentless tortures of legalist penitence.

For puritan covenant theologians, the law discovers sinful motivations and helps to suppress their odious consequences; it also guides souls, in concert with regenerative grace, freely to obey God and to imitate the holy ways of Christ. The constraint that Christ "layeth upon his subjects is that of love," Sibbes announced; "we are made partakers of the divine nature, and then we are easily induced and led by Christ's Spirit to spiritual duties." (68) Similarly, Preston's converted man "is carried willingly to the waies of God"; "when he is marryed to Christ, then he ... doth every thing freely, hee doth it out of choice, he doth that which his owne spirit carries him to." (69) Prior to the managing of such "subsequent conditions" of the saving covenant, the law might have radiated its "terrors" in convincing the unconverted of their utter helplessness and of their need for a savior's grace. Thus, Preston enlisted the law into the valuable schoolmasterly task of hammering and humbling terrified souls and driving them to reliance on Christ: "come in to Christ; submit your selves to his yoke, to his teaching and discipline, to his rule and government which is so easie. But if you will not, hee will rule you with a rod of iron, and breake you in pieces like a Potters Vessell." (70) The taking of Christ, however, was purely a matter of applied grace: the gift of faith holding out its "instrumental" hand to receive the gift of the Son of God.

In operation is a schematic interlocking of law and grace, a dialectic that required penitential and obediential undertakings here, passive and receptive postures there. The puritan covenant of grace brings salvation to the penitent believer, who was by necessity--of infallibility, not of compulsion--a self-disciplined devotee of the law. God will pardon the sins only of the penitent--not because penitential works activate His mercy, but because the faithful, on account of the grace that sanctifies them, cannot but adorn the saving gift of faith with "voluntary" works of the law. John Ball's faithful, for example, "have bound themselves, by covenant and oath, to keepe the righteous judgements of the Lord," but then follows the switchback from law-induced sweat to grace-borne repose: "they came not to this covenant and oath, as trusting in their own strength, but in assurance of divine assistance." (71)

Faith was the principal "antecedent condition" of the puritan covenant of grace. If there was uncertainty written into the conditionality of the passage to salvation, this was mollified, for Ball, by an understanding that divine promises may also "be called absolute, because God giveth to the man in Covenant every thing necessary to Salvation." (72) Sibbes uttered likewise: promises are "propounded conditionally, but in the performance they are absolute, because God performs the covenant himself; he performs our part and his own too." (73) God "works our hearts" to "embrace" the promises, but this is not to obliterate the human response to covenantal condition. (74) Primary causality did not ride roughshod over secondary: the human capacity for religiously engaged action was to be summoned for duty, without occasioning harm to its voluntary springs, at the point of entry to the covenant.

Absolute grace, then, flowed in confluence with the condition-meeting acts of faith and repentance that it functioned to enable. Grace, Sibbes explained, "doth not take away or imprison nature, but lifts it up, and sets it at liberty." (75) The "power" of enablement is divine; the "act" in "motion" is human. John Ball dwelt upon the spiritual mechanics. Explaining that "faith is the motion of mans heart wrought in him by the Spirit of God," Ball proceeds to a more quotidian level of illustration, comparing the "action" of faith to a wheel that, "in being moved of another, doth move." Divine prevenience is such that "faith is nothing but the action of God in man"; yet the "act" of faith "is the act of man," for all that the believer, like the wheel, is incapable of autonomous motion. (76)

As puritans described it, the structure of the soul's covenantal passage was ingeniously layered; it was governed by the force of the absolute, ultimately grounded in a divine decree that paid no foresighted cognizance to the empirical strivings of its beneficiaries; (77) and yet the latter, drawn to a threshold of regeneration that propounded conditions of entry, could not but play their part in meeting the conditions. For puritan covenant theologians, the condition-meeting performances were nothing other than gifts--manifested in motion as human acts--of absolute grace. The law, then, operated on either side of puritan conversion, first driving the unconverted to Christ and then helping, along with sanctifying grace, to turn the converted into Christ's covenanted replicas. But the law withdrew at the point of evangelical conversion and covenant entry, for--from the divine side--absolute grace was the sole and efficacious enabler of the human passage to the saving covenant.


Whereas orthodox divines gloried in a structure whose action-provoking conditionality was not subverted by the absolute grace that energized it, Tobias Crisp knew the pietistic language of condition and human self-assertion to be incapable of sustaining the salvific truth that it had falsely arrogated. Crisp begged to differ with the puritans: where they cherished a confluence of grace and graced activity, Crisp condemned a composition that had been assembled by the law. Crisp was not assuaged by Prestonian "readinesse"; for Crisp, it was the Spirit's office to assure by speaking personally of justification, not to incite the wayfarer to further rounds of "evidentiary" obedience. Put off by the noisy motion of legalist discipline, Crisp took a quietist turn. The atonement, now, loomed large, the covenant was whittled down to its gracious core, and the noise and sweat of the law were shunted away. Crisp enunciated an arresting message about covenantal downsizing.

The conditional complexion of the saving covenant proved highly problematic for Tobias Crisp; it stirred in his mind presumptive thoughts of sin-suppression, satisfaction of divine justice--deeds of remission that Christ alone, in a once only sacrifice, could perform. In absolutizing the covenant--in removing the reciprocity built into the conditions--Crisp suppressed the relational basis of the puritan urge to responsible piety. Accepting the reality both of total depravity and of sola gratia, he reconfigured the covenantal romance, making the love one-sided. God might deal lovingly with humankind, but He would save unreconstructed sinners, not newly created and Christ-like performers of covenantal conditions. Crisp departed from Preston, Sibbes, and Ball in paying no mind to the conjugal duties of the members of Christ's mystical body. Doctrinal departure is also evident in a blunting of the operational dignity of second causes, which for Crisp were but triggers of sin. There is no longer a running together of hierarchized causes: "all the help that the creature doth receive," Crisp announced in defiance of the conditional covenant, "may appear to be of free grace of God merely, without the creatures concurrence in it." (78) Crisp cut away not only the Prestonian "readinesse" that issues in deeds, but also the concurrent resources themselves that the Spirit readies for action. Free grace has no need for the putrescent causality of such resources. The Father, Crisp remarked notoriously, "forces" Christ upon chosen recipients, operating like a physician who dispenses physic to a patient whose mouth has been opened involuntarily. Sheer compulsion prevails over the puritans' necessity of infallibility; the voluntary familiarities of the holy romance are eclipsed by sublime conquest. Thomas Bakewell observed the stark contrast between "our Christ," who is willingly "embraced" and received "gladly," and Crisp's Christ, who "comes violently against the will to justifie him." For Thomas Blake, Crisp had obliterated the "somewhat of efficiency" by virtue of which "mans concurrence by faith in Justification" is manifested. (79)

Christ Alone Exalted appeared in print in the turbulent, conflicted twilight of what Michael McGiffert has dubbed the "Perkinsian moment," and would seem to have played a part in the moment's fragmentation. Crisp challenged the structure of the double-covenant divinity articulated in the writings of William Perkins and his spiritual offspring. In particular, Crisp deplored the devotional imperatives of a system that not only assimilated law and curse in the covenant of works, but also--for the sake of ensuring that the fruits of faith were cultivated with due zeal--poured measures of law into the covenant of grace. Crisp swam with the "antinomian undercurrent" that surfaced when Perkinsians strove to insulate the gratuitousness of the gospel against legalist incursion. (80) He dissevered from its place in the order of salvation the preparatory tuition of the schoolmasterly law, and he had no palate for the Prestonian coincidence of the newly "fashioned" heart and the convert's incipient willingness to "keepe" Christ's "Lawes." He accented the salience of sin, homing in on its problematizing of assurance of salvation. He found in sin a sharp edge to thrust at the laws and conditions of the Perkinsian paradigm.

Perkinsians tended to call their confederate charges to gather assurance of their spiritual estate from the cumulative evidence of sanctified fruit. The Spirit might come, bearing "a secret manifestation made to the soule, whereby we are comforted and assured, that our sinnes are forgiven, and that Christ is willing to match with us." Here was a line from Preston for Crisp to reel in, but he would repudiate Preston's alternative to the Spirit's witness--a rehearsal of syllogistic normativity ligatured to the ordo salutis: "I finde in my selfe fruits and effects of sanctification," Preston begins, "and I am sure none are sanctified, but they are also justified, and they have received the Spirit of Christ, therefore I know that I am one that belongs to him." (81) The genuineness of justifying faith would express itself in the fruitfulness of its devotional persistence, for the sake of which the puritan covenant propounded the subsequent conditions of sanctification.

The conditions might be met, willingly, by a soul inspirited with "readinesse," devotedly applying itself in a holy future to pleasant duties undertaken in a bond of love with the redeemer. But this was not Crisp's experience. Poignant passages in Christ Alone Exalted are suggestive of a deep personal involvement with the failure of such piety, and Crisp dogmatized his liberation from the pietist malaise by draining value out of sanctification in preference for an "immanent" construal of justification. Crisp's religiosity took a reverse drift to cross and decree, and in the process of backtrack discarded puritan affiliations between regenerative grace, the fruits of faith, and the evidentiary purchase of such fruits. (82) "There was not an expectation of future expiation," for this was the gift of the sacred past--as well as the premise for a strike at superseded pieties: "the blood of Christ doth purge the conscience from dead works." (83) Disenchanted with a formula for assurance that depended upon "exact obedience to all the commandements of God," Crisp exited the land of the practical syllogism. (84) "The signes and marks drawn from the fruits of sanctification" seemed "at very best" to be "litigious and doubtfull evidences." (85) Whereas Preston and Sibbes delighted in the duty-promoting passage of the Spirit from Christic head to sanctified member, Crisp was ever aware of the latter's debility and corruption: he fixed his revulsion on the flesh that, "like the Vipers stomack, ... or like an ulcerous tumor," debases spiritual gifts, producing "poyson" and "rottenesse." (86) The danger of the puritan way lay in its insensitivity to the reality of the rot: its pieties were frauds; it exploited depravity in sponsoring well-packaged deceptions; in its evangelical affectations, it led benighted and credulous souls astray. (87)

Crisp sought to negate the disciplinary expanse of the puritan praxis pietatis, and in so doing he delimited the sphere of competence of the covenant of grace. The covenant, in Christ Alone Exalted, is shorn of its most visible appurtenances; its Perkinsian tensions and dualities are eradicated by a unilateralism anchored, as will be seen, in the sola gratia dimension of Perkinsianism itself. For Crisp, the toxic presence of sin remained a nonnegotiable given, but at least the particular, nastily delusional sins of practical puritanism could be stripped off. The fraudulent shows of sanctification were to be removed, along with the putatively "evidentiary" resonances they emitted.

There is a sense in which Crisp appears a diffident federalist in these sermons, cognizant of the displeasure that his covenantal negations would cause the orthodox. Denial of the covenant's conditionality; removal of faith's "instrumental" role in the justification of the sinner; refusal of any evidentiary function for the works of the covenanted life--these were provocative negations, and Crisp acknowledged that he was going "against the strain of some." (88) Doubtless well aware of Perkinsian switchbacks--between law and grace and works and faith, between a saving covenant conceived both in conditional and in unconditional terms, between the witness of the Holy Spirit and the witness of moral striving--Crisp needed to revise the covenant's structure and nature. He identified two covenants of grace, the "old" and the "new," the latter mediated by Christ (as against "the Priests of the old law") and "established upon better promises." Present, here, are two irreducibly separate covenants of grace--the remission available in both setting them fundamentally apart from the curse-ridden covenant of works struck in Eden. The old and new covenants "are two distinct covenants of grace. They are not one and the same covenant diversly administred, but they are two distinct covenants." The repetition, though assertive, betrays the defensiveness written into a challenge to a venerable commonplace concerning covenantal architecture. Crisp wants to keep the "old" priestly law and its "trivial Observations" well and truly out of the "new" covenant. (89) He splits the covenant of grace in order to shore up sola gratia against the ambiguous drifts of Perkinsian colleagues.

Another point of revision served to clarify the nature of the new covenant's grace. Crisp's covenantal idiom flourishes on the discrimination between God's absolute efficacy and humankind's unqualified impotence. "Man" is "infected with the plague and leprosie of sin," and so must be "purged" and "purified" imputatively. To these puritan conventions Crisp subjoins a magnification of the all-sufficiency of imputative righteousness, which at a stroke severs the Perkinsian regime of preparatory works. Christ's blood reconciles "enemies," pardons the "ungodly"; and while the gospel can speak in active strains of God's mercy for those who can "come" to Christ and "commit" to him, the comers and committers are conspicuously unregenerate in deportment: we see a "traytor" coming to Christ, accompanied by "thieves and murtherers." (90) The point about a sinner s "coming" to Christ is that it consists, precisely, in an abandonment of agency, a suspension of "doing." Christ, not the sinner, is the doer. Crisp wields the commonplace that justification proceeds "without the workes of the Law" in order to cut a swath through the large field of pietistic responsibility: "there is nothing to be done by man, to be a preparation to his Justification." (91) A conditional covenant bespeaks the defective way of "debt," the exchange of work for reward. Contingent on human agency, this cannot but end in "miscarriage" and "frustration." (92) Hebraic "antecedent conditions" were all cost and effort, and the Perkinsian way besmirched sola tides by stressing the condition-fulfilling office of a faith that, in its very conditionality, was drenched in law. Crisp's new covenant vouchsafes a wholly different way of experiencing the Deity's beneficence:
 there is no antecedent condition at all; but the whole grace is
 communicated and poured out before ever the person doth any thing
 towards it; ... wee need not be at the cost of a sacrifice, Christ
 is at that cost himselfe: we need not bring a Christ, Christ brings
 himselfe; we need not offer a Christ, Christ offers himselfe: Nay,
 our confession of sin is not an antecedent to the forgivenesse of
 sin; remission doth not depend upon our confession, but onely upon
 the grace of God.... There is no antecedent doing before the
 participation of the covenant; ... even true faith it selfe is no
 condition of this covenant, neither is it required as an antecedent
 to the covenant, forgivenesse, or remission: true faith indeed is
 the evidence of things not seen; we know not that sin is pardoned
 till we believe, because then [prior to faith] our pardon is hid in
 the breast of God, or rather vailed in the Gospel under general
 termes. (93)

Faith particularizes the gospel's generality, but it does not do this by way of interrogation of pietist fruits. Rather, the covenant's unconditionality is the measure of its quietist trajectory. In asserting its unconditionality, Crisp tends to show how the new covenant of grace is more an absence than a presence in Christian lives: Christ justifies the unrighteous, which he does by answering covenantal conditions on their behalf, leaving them, in turn, blessedly bereft of covenantal obligation. What is "not seen" is revealed in the gift of faith, an intervention of absolute grace; certainly, it was much to Crisp's purpose to insist that the "conveyance of the pardon" will not acquire visibility through the surveillance of covenantal conditions, whether antecedent or subsequent. Christ "doth every thing in the covenant"; "God requires nothing of man," who is "too full of sin" to play a condition-meeting part. (94) Nevertheless, the Crisp who is rapidly delivering himself from the duties of the covenant is also the Crisp who stands in the motionless rapture of assurance---the very gift toward which federalists were always motioning but to which their devotional motors, Crisp insisted, could not carry them. Crisp will happily accept what the covenant offers as its end but will not abide the Hebraic efflorescence of its means (as conventionally described by federal divines): hence the division of old and new covenants of grace.

Crispian raptures, then, are not structured by protocols and observances formulated covenantally. Crisp gives the impression of one who has survived a toxic (or diabolic) dustbowl: Satan, he remarked, "hath raised a foul dust to mis-guid poor wretches." (95) It is as though the dustbowl carries a corrosive mist of the micro-detritus of orthodox piety, the effect of which is to compromise the defensive apparatus even of the Holy Spirit, whose "pure motions" have their "property" altered by the venom of the puritan culture of "doing." (96) Behavior, given Crisp's premise of total depravity, should not affect destiny, and for the likes of rebels and harlots it does not. "The Lord," Crisp averred, "doth give Christ, and portion in Christ, without any regard in the world to anything that a man doth." (97) This gives the lie to the ordo salutis and the extrapolation of assurance from the "signes and marks" of piety. But why do puritan sins stand out as signposts of God's refusal to forgive? Why, if the ordo salutis is to be overturned on the premise that behavior counts for nothing in God's sights, should puritan behavior effectively populate an ordo damnationis? As Crisp maintains, "Zealots and Pharisees are shut out" of the kingdom of heaven. (98) Crisp neutralizes the evidentiary value of rebellion and whoredom, but he refuses to shift his forbearance to "fastings and prayers and teares." As a veteran of the "legalist" inside, (99) having betaken himself to a less toilsome outside, Crisp can ruminate upon the bitterness of his erstwhile rigorism, knowing its duplicities to be the most soul-"suffocating" arts of human agency. (100)

Given the negating task that Crisp issued himself, why persist with the covenant of grace? The covenant shone brilliantly in the disciplinary firmament, its "preparations" calling newfound saints to wrestle with the sins that invade their consciousness and to look beyond themselves for a savior, its "antecedent conditions" obliging them to apply faith's "instrumental" causality in order to appropriate Christ and in some cases also to march in penitential step, and its "subsequent conditions" stretching to the full their resources of repentance, obedience, Christ-likeness, and self-interrogation. Crisp accepted none of the foregoing. To be circumscribed by condition was to be required to act or work, and therefore to sin. (101) The puritan covenant of grace stage-managed a soul-mangling accumulation of sin by obliging its observant members to apply the sinful repertoire of legalist devotion in an effort to set to rights their own sinfulness. For Crisp, the covenant authorizes penitential swellings that feed the constellation of sin.

So why tolerate the covenantal axis of puritan deception? Why not scrap the condition-strewn foundation of a way of life that Crisp has enlisted into an ordo damnationis? Because the covenant of grace offered rudiments of the absolutist and unilateral way that Crisp embraced. So conceived, the covenant is truly free--it promulgates no requisites for entry; it abandons negotiation with the poisonous output of conditioned agency; and, deploying the Spirit as witness-bearer, it offers imperturbable assurance of salvation. The covenant gave Crisp an avenue for articulating the necessity of the Spirit-borne "vessel" of faith while--and this is the point of the withdrawal of conditionality--enabling him in the same breath to eliminate any trace of the contribution of works, given his insistence that a human "act," no matter the degree of its grounding in grace, was but a "work." Crisp derived no comfort from the Perkinsian integration of the absolute and the conditional, which maintained that God had decided, unconditionally, to meet the covenantal condition by infusing the "habit" of faith, thereby ensuring that human parties to the covenant were sufficiently gifted to meet their obligation in the "act" of faith that would necessarily follow. The faith-centered meeting of the condition, for Crisp, spoiled the key doctrine of absolute grace by needlessly soliciting a human "work" in order to attempt something that only a divine work--that of Christ--could do. Faith, for Crisp, is a covenantal gift, and its role is to receive from the Spirit the assuring message that Christ has paid the covenant's cost in blood, thus releasing sinners from obligations to act. In their acts, Perkinsian puritans are more becomings than beings, locked in a condition-directed process of holy-walking transit, perennially motioning ahead to meet the serial obligations of the covenant that stretch into their holy futures. By contrast, Crispian individuals are "restful" if putridly subsistent beings, their liberation from conditions bespeaking both their lack of soteriological autonomy and their deliverance from the need to peregrinate, along the road to salvation, from one stage of potential being to another.

The covenant, then, is no longer an unequal confederation of contributory agencies, a mechanism channeling prevenient divine action and reciprocating human re-action, a tiered confluence of primary and secondary causalities. Accordingly, nothing is offered from the human side, and happily so, since even faith, when Crisp views it from the human side, is merely a work; and how was a blazing (if quietist) evangelical to require a work to enable access to a covenant that designated itself in unconditional strains, as "most absolute, compleat, and perfect"? (102) From the human side, Crispian faith is an act, to be sure, but an act that distinguishes itself in "receptive" nonperformance, in an absence of instrumentality; from the divine side it is very much a patient, to be acted upon, to be given by Christ and spoken to by the Spirit, the latter revealing that Christ has borne the sins of believers and already secured their justification. (103) Faith's affinity with the covenant of grace was salvageable, for Crisp, only on the dual bases of its utter passivity and of the covenant's liberating consanguinity with the Christ who cancels conditions, including the condition of faith, by doing everything himself. And assurance comes from the voice of the Spirit, speaking "personally" and "immediately" to faith, no longer from the panoply of "subsequent conditions" of the covenant into which the pietists invested their tarnished energies. (104)

Crisp's God had laid all "punishment" and "affliction" upon Christ, who bore every iniquity for each member of the elect. The very moment of Christ's suffering brings forensic justification to the elect soul, whose act of faith is not to be construed as the answer to a covenantal condition, since Christ himself performs all obligations that radiate from the covenant of grace. The justified soul enjoys a sweetrepose, lying "upon Christ as a buckler that can defend off every blow." (105) Resting with Christ obviates the need to run with Moses; what is also obviated here is the requirement to imitate Christ. Putrescent sin is purified forensically, in God's "reckoning"; its grip on human lives, nevertheless, is wretchedly persistent. Accordingly, the covenant could no longer sponsor the imitatio Christi. The forgiven are "malefactors," for Christ pardons sinners, not replicas of himself. Crisp's covenant is no place for "handsome" souls. (106) We see nothing here of the Sibbesian "true convert's" wearing a "likeness" and "conformity" to Christ, delighting in experiencing a "transformation unto him"--a creature "hewed" and "prepared," or "disposed" and "fitted" for heaven as one who, in the presence of "some great person," has altered his "attire" and fashioned "his carriage and deportment" as befits the occasion. (107) Crisp is at one with Sibbes in yearning for Spirit-borne "joy and comfort," and capitalizes on Sibbesian tendencies to resort contemplatively to Christ's blood and to listen attentively to the Spirit's witness. But Crisp retreats from like-attracting-like soteriology, from the notion of the soul as a "delectable" being in which Christ and Spirit "lodge as in a garden of spices." (108) The Spirit's "stamping the likeness of Christ upon us" is a prospect that does not survive the deluge of Crisp's consciousness of the toxicity of sin. Sibbes could "find somewhat contrary to corruption in me, I carry the image of the 'second Adam' about me now," (109) whereas Crisp repudiated infusions of mimetic righteousness for the sake of a singly imputative benefit. For Crisp, the atonement was the key to a quietist repose: Christ's sacrifice is sufficient of itself to remove human sin from the divine memory, there being no need for penitential returns in the form of "duties" and "qualifications," for such byproducts of the law function as "a thick film" that obstructs sight of Christ's "worth." (110)

Sibbes had warned of puritan-sounding erasures of puritan piety: antinomians transgressed abominably in decoupling imputative grace from inherent. The Spirit of Christ works faith and repentance, according to Sibbes's frequent rehearsal of the absolutist principle, which was as much as to say that Christ himself "performed" the covenantal condition. Sibbes took care, though, to balance the ledger of causalities, lest antinomian indifference and fleshliness emerge from the disposition to totalize or absolutize the divine causality. "A fantastic conceit of faith in their justification" engendered in the fleshly a winding out of "all tasks of religion," a neglect of "sanctification and mortification of lusts, and beautifying the image of God in them." (111) Sibbes's warning was borne out in Crisp, who determinedly shied away from the penitential/regenerative course, since the stain of sin would not be mitigated by graces that opened themselves to mixture with the pietist "self." (112) Crisp would not be edified by religious tasks or assured by self-reflexive exercises. Like John Eaton, he saw "filthy rags" and "menstrous cloth" when he inspected saintly ornaments; (113) he was not in the business of beautifying the unbeautifiable. In such a scenario, Christ looks compassionately upon the polluted and rebellious; he "did not observe any difference," Crisp remarks, "as if one man were more lovely" than another. (114) The miracle of grace, for Crisp, was its unconditional acceptance of the barefaced ugly.

Crisp's covenant, then, is a putrid place; but it proclaims the efficacy of imputative righteousness, singly considered. Covenanted sights are turned backwards to the cross, not forwards into the awaiting harvest of sanctification. There need be no fretting over the unreliable evidences of behavioral futures: "poor souls" are destroyed by building upon their "own" righteousness. (115) Which is not to say, as Crisp put it in anticipation of orthodox rejoinder, that the redeemed are at liberty to cultivate "all manner" of "licentiousnesse" or "idlenesse." Those who know that Christ has obtained pardon on their behalf will serve God "without fear." Accordingly, "a glorious sanctified life" is a certainty. Crisp had resolved to tear down the priestly temple, though he stopped short of demolishing the discipline of good works. Nevertheless, the Crispian "walk" is more "upright" than "holy"; spiritual assurance will "ease" the doing of "duties of religion," but in no respect do upright walkers "move God to shew mercy to them." (116)

Works, for Crisp, are sociologically rather than soteriologically oriented. "Though good works done by us, are but dung in themselves, and in Gods eye; yet," Crisp cautioned the potentially licentious or idle, "must we be carefull to maintain good workes, for that they are profitable to men." (117) But as a means of acquiring "enjoyment of Christ," works "overthrow" grace. (118) Absent from Crisp's discourse is the puritan caesura between unregenerate complicity in sin and regenerate freedom from its "commanding power"; election and justification together make regeneration superfluous:
 the Lord hath no more to lay to the charge of an elect person, yet
 in the heigth [sic] of iniquity, and in the excesse of riot, and
 committing all the abominations that can be committed, I say, even
 then, when an elect person runs such a course the Lord hath no more
 to lay to that persons charge then God hath to lay to the charge of
 a believer, nay God hath no more to lay to the charge of such a
 person, then he hath to lay to the charge of a Saint triumphant in
 glory. (119)

Thus did Crisp couple total depravity with unconditional grace. In consequence of the coupling, the infused "signes and marks" of sanctification get squeezed out of the passage to salvation--permitting Crisp to prognosticate a dark end for puritans. (120) Meanwhile, the covenantal love match proceeds by way of God's "transacting" or "laying" upon Christ the transgressions that He has "passed off" from their human authors. (121) This runs its decretive course in an eternal court of record (122)--an austere place for the intimacies of spiritual romance, far removed from Sibbes's "garden of spices" or Preston's conjugal site of "transfusion." Crisp shared lineaments of a spirituality with Sibbes and Preston. But the Crispian Christ is less "husband" than "rock" of alien righteousness, and the incentive to action that the Spirit afforded Sibbes and Preston is cut away by Crisp's vivid awareness of human "rottennesse, loathsomnesse, and filthinesse." (123) Among antinomians, it is more Eaton than Crisp who assimilates the flowings forth of conjugal spirituality. (124)

But, with Eaton, Crisp severely diminished the profile of "the righteousnesse of Sanctification and holy walking," for in the sights 0 God the sanctified would not "be found righteous." (125) Crisp removed a plenitude of interactions between Christ and saints. He reinstated Christ at the very core of an absolutized covenant of grace--where he belonged and whence, Crisp insisted, the disciplinarians had dislodged him. The conditionality of the covenant can be heard, at times like an incantation, in the embittered discourses of respondents to Crisp. (126) They saw the significance of Crisp's downsized covenant: in its unconcealed suspicion of the law, in its frontal assault upon the values of sanctification, in the breathtaking scope of its challenge to the "signes and marks" of responsible religiosity--all conducted in the name of the redeemer--Crisp's new-modeled covenant performed the wickedness of dignifying and sanctioning a fast-spreading contagion of irreligion)27 His enemies knew that Crisp's faulty doctrine would drive a profound erosion of moral standards. Crisp had disjoined law from grace, and sanctification from justification, therein making the redeemed unregenerable, a company of "grosse and graceless sinners"; and for all the "comfort" that he had taught, he had also disdained "duty," and so, as Anthony Burgess put it, turned "the grace of God into licentiousnesse." (128)


Crisp's puritan opponents hurried their rebuttals into print in the 1640s; they needed to, for Crisp was cunningly making off with--and reshaping here, and abandoning there--the contours of their own provenance. Crisp was a nuanced perpetuator as well as a bold subverter of puritan divinity. He disassembled puritan discourse and conjured from its resources an idiomatic fluidity that outraged his puritan opponents. The puritan chain of salvation carried too many links for Crisp's liking; it was overly articulated, and it drew pious attentions away from Christ. Crisp pulled the chain apart and opened up possibilities for the free flow of grace that the fully linked chain had inhibited; his audacity is measured by his sensitivity to the unconstricted play of free and imputative grace. Thus, forensic justification need not be coupled with evidentiary sanctification; election need not bear a mimetic charge such that the regenerate are refashioned, by way of "predestined conformity," to the image of the Son of God; conversionary experiences might be thinned to barest essentials, allowing for little more than the Spirit's "immediate" revelation that all salvific actions had already been performed by Christ. Breaks in the chain such as these proclaim the spontaneous dispensation of divine favor. If, to the antinomian, the law occluded grace, so was the ministry of grace constricted by the elaborations of soteriological schemata.

Crisp's puritan credentials, then, were subjected to considerable pressure in Christ Alone Exalted, but they remain visible nonetheless. They are to be seen in his doctrinal retentions, such as the grounding of salvation in a decree of election; the stress on the forensic mercy that emanates from the cross; the identification of faith as a gift distributed by Christ and spoken to by the Spirit; the proclivity to invoke the covenant as a promissory instrument, facilitating the convergence of decree, atonement, mercy, and faith. Sola gratia--unconditional in application, forensic in disposition, and administered through a covenant by the redeemer--is Crisp's puritan answer to the puritan problem of total depravity.

Crisp's puritan retentions were sufficiently theocentric to render explicable his repudiation of other links in the puritan chain of salvation. And the vehemence with which he renounced his puritan credentials has the collateral effect of drawing particular attention to them. For Crisp, the process of salvation is utterly unilateral in orientation: the predicament of total depravity entails the need for total reliance on grace. Consequently, Christ is no longer paradigmatically obedient: Christ offers no imitatio for saintly sights; Christ-like holiness is pointedly disregarded. A string of puritan casualties can be said to follow from Crisp's appreciation of the inimitability of Christ's self-sacrifice. Witness the utter trumping of infused grace by imputed, graphically demonstrated in God's favoring the egregiously sinful over the sanctimoniously pious; the massive privileging of forensic justification over evidentiary sanctification, and the assimilation of the latter to the routine of legalistic works--the "rotten materialls" of sin; the disallowance of human agency (faith's "instrumental" causality) in the justifying of the sinner; the negation of the saving covenant's conditions and of its accommodation of the law as a devotional standard against which covenanted souls gained assurance of salvation; the confinement of the Spirit to the role of envoy and comforter, no longer the motor of the assuring fruits of mortification and vivification.

The Perkinsian covenant of grace is both emblem and occasion of Crisp's critical engagement with puritan pietism. Crisp contracts the orbit of the covenant, releasing it from the oversight of "conditions," "infusions," and "transfusions" in order to honor the forensic ministry of free grace, which alone brings liberation from the "bondage" of the law. For the covenant's members, there are no pietistic hoops to be jumped through. The covenant commands no programmatic ensemble of deeds, enjoins no saintly meeting of conditions, sustains no series of mutually accommodating interactions between God and soul, requires no effortful mortification of sin, fashions no output of righteous endeavor that can be scrutinized for evidentiary purposes, commissions no drama of mimesis that transforms the chosen soul into the image of Christ. Rather, it applies forensic grace to squalid sinners who do nothing of value, but who, by divinely determined turns, rejoice in the Spirit-borne news that Christ has secured their pardon, that his blood has packed off their sins to "a land of forget-fulnesse." (129)

In rendering utterly unconditional God's dealings with humankind, Tobias Crisp yanked the holy walk out of the passage to salvation. A quietist covenant almost dissolves the continuum linking puritan to antinomian. The puritans' beloved fruits of sanctification have become, for Crisp, the "poisonous" objects of "hideous out cries." As against the "intolerably noisome" way of the puritans, Crisp recommended a reign of quietude. "Christ," he remarked, "is a quiet way." (130) The covenant of grace, in Christ Alone Exalted, rings the unutterable sound of the Spirit's "hidden voyce," (131) and orchestrates no other noise at all.

(1.) It is a pleasure to acknowledge the guidance of Michael McGiffert, who read a draft of this article--having planted its seed in my head--and offered encouragement and detailed commentary.

(2.) Tobias Crisp, Christ Alone Exalted; in Seventeene Sermons: Preached in or neare London, by the Late Reverend Tobias Crisp Doctor in Divinity, and Faithful Pastor of Brinkworth in Wiltshire (London: n.p., 1643), 455 (Hereafter cited as Christ Alone, with occasional irregular pagination silently corrected).

(3.) Theodore Dwight Bozeman, The Precisianist Strain: Disciplinary Religion and Antinomian Backlash in Puritanism to 1638 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 198, 204-5; David R. Como, Blown by the Spirit: Puritanism and the Emergence of an Antinomian Underground in Pre-Civil-War England (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2004), 63-64, 70, 445-46, and passim. See also Christopher Hill, Collected Essays (Sussex: Harvester, 1986), vol. 2, chap. 9.

(4.) On bellies bearing antinomians (as well as popes), see Anthony Burgess, Vindiciae Legis: Or, a Vindication of the Morall Law and the Covenants from the Errours of Papists, Arminians, Socinians, and More Especially, Antinomians (London: Thomas Underhill, 1647), 48; also quoted in Michael McGiffert, "The Perkinsian Moment of Federal Theology," Calvin Theological Journal 29 (1994): 134.

(5.) Crisp, as Lamont put it, "provided the intellectual crutch for a Coppe." William M. Lamont, Richard Baxter and the Millennium: Protestant Imperialism in the English Revolution (London: Croom Helm, 1979), 135, also 140. For a sensitive rehabilitation of Coppe, see J. C. Davis, Fear, Myth and History: The Ranters and the Historians (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), esp. 48-57. And for Coppe as antinomian illuminist, see Nigel Smith, Perfection Proclaimed: Language and Literature in English Radical Religion 1640-1660 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), esp. 54-65, 90-91.

(6.) William Lamont, "Pamphleteering, the Protestant Consensus and the English Revolution," in Freedom and the English Revolution: Essays in History and Literature, ed. R. C. Richardson and G. M. Ridden (Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 1986), 79.

(7.) Important studies of Rutherford and Edwards are John Coffey, Politics, Religion and the British Revolutions: The Mind of Samuel Rutherford (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997); Ann Hughes, Gangraena and the Struggle for the English Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

(8.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 382, 449; Tobias Crisp, Christ Alone Exalted: Being the Compleat Works of Tobias Crisp, D.D. Containing XLII. Sermons, on Several Select Texts of Scriptures: Which Were Formerly Printed in Three Small Volumes, by That Late Eminent and Faithful Dispenser of God's Word: Who Was Sometime Minister at Brinkworth in Wiltshire; and Afterward Many of the Sermons Were Preached in and about London (London: William Marshal, 1690), 116, 118, 122 (Hereafter cited as Compleat Works).

(9.) Thomas Bedford, An Examination of the Chief Points of Antinomianism (London: Philemon Stephens, 1647), 33.

(10.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 522-23; Crisp, Compleat Works, 115, 557-58.

(11.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 273.

(12.) See, for example, ibid., 328-31.

(13.) Ibid., 245-54, and also, on the "elect" status of the redeemed and the prevenient divine action that election enables, see 64, 78, 97-100, 111, 213, 258-59, 267, 270, 272-77, 293-94, 328-31.

(14.) Ibid., 64, 78, 98, 251-55, 258-59.

(15.) Perry Miller, The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1939; repr., 1954), 55-56.

(16.) Peter Iver Kaufman, Prayer, Despair, and Drama: Elizabethan Introspection (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996), 21, 41, 121-22.

(17.) Crisp, Compleat Works, 132.

(18.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 455, 423; Crisp, Compleat Works, 108, 126. John Eaton drew out the affront that a Mosaic renaissance was posing to "the voice of the Gospel": "Moses with his Law is a severe exactor, requiring of us by feare, and hope of reward, what we should work, and that we should give: briefly it requireth by precepts, and exacteth threatenings: Contrariwise, the Gospel giveth freely, and requireth of us nothing else, but to hold out our hands, and to take that which is offered." Eaton, The Honey-Combe of Free Justification by Christ Alone (London: Robert Lancaster, 1642), 83.

(19.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 185.

(20.) Ibid., 455. Crisp could be quite explicit about the need for fidelity to principles: "All men receive this principle, that the promises of the Gospel are the objects or grounds of mens believing, and the promises of the Gospell are nothing else but the free grant of God to men, of his own accord, for his own sake; now to turne the free grace of God granted unto men into the righteousnesse we performe in ourselves ... the ground of our faith, what is this but to destroy the life of our faith, and so it must needs bee a faith indeed?" ibid., 521.

(21.) Ibid., 29-30; Crisp, Compleat Works, 6, 13, 23-24, 34, 50, 96, 104, 108, 137.

(22.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 4, 26-27, 435.

(23.) Ibid., 421, 24; Crisp, Compleat Works, 84, 91.

(24.) Crisp, Compleat Works, 134-35.

(25.) Crisp, Christ Alone, sermon 1, passim.

(26.) Richard Sibbes, Works, ed. Alexander Grosart (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1862-64), 3:18-19.

(27.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 493-94, 403-4, 431, 449, 455, also 386-87, 391-92, 394, 409-10, sermon 15, passim, 490-91, 513; Crisp, Compleat Works, 129-35, 140, 146.

(28.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 460-63; Crisp, Compleat Works, 4, 13-14, 116-23, 153-54.

(29.) Samuel Rutherford, A Survey of the Spirituall Antichrist (London: Andrew Crooke, 1648), pt. 1, 193.

(30.) Sibbes, Works, 3:37-39, 19.

(31.) John Preston, A Heavenly Treatise of the Divine Love of Christ (London: n.p., 1646), 9.

(32.) John Preston, The Saints Qualification (London: N. Bourne, 1633), 3; John Preston, The New Covenant, or, the Saints Portion (1st ed. 1629; London: Nicolas Bourn, 1655), 166.

(33.) John Ball, A Treatise of Faith (London: E. Brewster, 1637), 132.

(34.) Sibbes, Works, 5:243.

(35.) John Preston, The Churches Carriage or Duty (London: N. Bourne, 1638), 139.

(36.) Sibbes, Works, 3:443; 1:87.

(37.) John Preston, Sins Overthrow: Or, a Godly and Learned Treatise of Mortification (London: A. Crooke, 1633), 6, 39; John Preston, An Abridgement of Dr. Preston's Works (London: Nicholas Bourn, 1648), 700; Sibbes, Works, 5:368-69; William Perkins, The Works of that Famous Worthie Minister of Christ, in the Universitie of Cambridge, M. W. Perkins (Cambridge: University of Cambridge, 1608), 1:84.

(38.) Preston, Sins Overthrow, 38; Preston, New Covenant, 189, 286-87, 294; Preston, Abridgement, 741; John Preston, The New Creature: Or a Tratise [sic] of Sanctification (London: N. Bourne, 1633), 6-7; John Preston, Remaines of that Reverend and Learned Divine, John Preston (London: A. Crooke, 1637), 146-48.

(39.) See, for identification and analysis of Perkinsian federalism, McGiffert, "Perkinsian Moment," 117-48. On regeneration and the nonviolation of faculties, see, for example, Sibbes, Works, 1:87; 2:332; 4:224-27; Ball, Treatise of Faith, 11-12, 16, 137-38; Perkins, Works, 1:15, 551, 653, 703-4, 715-21; 2:353, 704-7; 3:210-11.

(40.) Preston, New Covenant, 103.

(41.) John Preston, The Position of John Preston Concerning the Irresistiblenesse of Converting Grace (London: Nath. Webb and Will. Grantham, 1654), 11, 13; Preston, New Creature, 32, 61-62; Preston, Remaines, 148; Preston, Abridgement, 692-93; Preston, New Covenant, 276-78, 286-87; John Preston, The Breast-Plate of Faith and Love (London: N. Bourne, 1630), 27, 40.

(42.) Preston, Sins Overthrow, 5-6, 40; Preston, Breast-Plate of Faith and Love, 38.

(43.) Preston, Churches Carriage, 76-77.

(44.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 1, 380; Crisp, Compleat Works, 137.

(45.) For "comfort" and "joy," see, for example, Crisp, Christ Alone, 233, 284, 292, 308, 338, 359, 381-89; Crisp, Compleat Works, 27, 51-52, 124.

(46.) Crisp, Compleat Works, 65, 25, 53.

(47.) Though see ibid., 12-13, 46, 82.

(48.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 98, and throughout Crisp's sermons.

(49.) Ibid., 291, 414-18.

(50.) Ibid., 280; Crisp, Compleat Works, 5-11, 83, 97.

(51.) See David Parnham, "The Humbling of 'High Presumption': Tobias Crisp Dismantles the Puritan Ordo Salutis," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 56 (2005): 50-74.

(52.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 50, 324.

(53.) Ibid., 88-89, 360-61,399, 410-12, 422-24, 426; Crisp, Compleat Works, 33, 43-44, 95-96, 103, 106, 122-23, 166.

(54.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 113-14, 141, 149, 286-87, 411-12.

(55.) Ibid., 207.

(56.) Ibid., 219.

(57.) Ibid., 99, 384.

(58.) Ibid., 137, 141.

(59.) Ibid., 50, 52; Crisp, Compleat Works, 73.

(60.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 57-58.

(61.) Ibid., 66.

(62.) Ibid., 22.

(63.) See, esp., McGiffert, "Perkinsian Moment," and the following articles by him: "The Problem of the Covenant in Puritan Thought: Peter Bulkeley's Gospel-Covenant," New England Historical and Genealogical Register 130 (1976): 107-29; "Grace and Works: The Rise and Division of Covenant Divinity in Elizabethan Puritanism," Harvard Theological Review 75 (1982): 463-502; "From Moses to Adam: The Making of the Covenant of Works," Sixteenth Century Journal 19 (1988): 129-55; Richard L. Greaves, "The Origins and Early Development of English Covenant Thought," The Historian 31 (1968): 21-35; John S. Coolidge, The Pauline Renaissance in England: Puritanism and the Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970); William K. B. Stoever, "A Faire and Easie Way to Heaven": Covenant Theology and Antinomianism in Early Massachusetts (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1978); John von Rohr, The Covenant of Grace in Puritan Thought (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars, 1986); Charles Lloyd Cohen, God's Caress: The Psychology of Puritan Religious Experience (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986); Theodore Dwight Bozeman, "Federal Theology and the 'National Covenant': An Elizabethan Presbyterian Case Study," Church History 61 (1992): 394-407; Janice Knight, Orthodoxies in Massachusetts: Rereading American Puritanism (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994). Still to be read with profit are Perry Miller's seminal writings on covenant theology.

(64.) Bozeman, Precisianist Strain. Como's puritans, too, are cut from preponderantly rigorist Mosaic/Pauline cloth: Blown by the Spirit, esp. 117-37. See also Theodore Dwight Bozeman, "The Glory of the 'Third Time': John Eaton as Contra-Puritan," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 47 (1996): 638-54; Michael P. Winship, "Weak Christians, Backsliders, and Carnal Gospelers: Assurance of Salvation and the Pastoral Origins of Puritan Practical Divinity in the 1580s," Church History 70 (2001): 462-81.

(65.) Crisp, Compleat Works, 87.

(66.) Ibid., 35, 21-22, 108.

(67.) Crisp tended to shift the covenant of works back to Eden, but its polemical salience was not easily resistible by a dichotomizing mind: "Either we are the Ministers and Messengers of Christ, or the Ministers of Moses; we are either the Ministers of the Covenant of Works, or the Messengers of the Covenant of Grace": ibid., 155.

(68.) Sibbes, Works, 1:79-80.

(69.) Preston, New Covenant, 103; John Preston, The Churches Marriage; or, Dignitie (London: N. Bourne, 1639), 34.

(70.) John Preston, The Doctrine of the Saints Infirmities (London: H. Taunton, 1638), 56. See also Cohen, God's Caress, 78.

(71.) Ball, Treatise of Faith, 375.

(72.) John Ball, A Treatise of the Covenant of Grace (London: Edward Brewster, 1645), 155.

(73.) Sibbes, Works, 3:394, also 1:58; 3:17, 433, 442, 521; 4:122; 5:18, 342, 347; 6:4, 19, 542; 7:483.

(74.) Ibid., 3:442.

(75.) Ibid., 2:332.

(76.) Ball, Treatise of Faith, 12.

(77.) As Perkins announced, faith and good works are not the causes, but rather "the fruites and effects of Gods election. Paul saith, he hath chosen us, not because hee did foresee that we would become holy, but that we might be holy." Perkins, Works, 1:287.

(78.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 189.

(79.) Crisp, Compleat Works, 98-99, 612-13; Thomas Bakewell, The Antinomians Christ Confounded, and the Lords Christ Exalted (London: Thomas Bankes, 1644), 35; Thomas Blake, The Covenant Sealed (London: Abel Roper, 1655), 447. See also Burgess, Vindiciae Legis, 84, 100; Stephen Geree, The Doctrine of the Antinomians by Evidence of Gods Truth, Plainely Confuted (London: H. Blunden, 1644), 107-10; Thomas Blake, Vindiciae Foederis (London: Abel Roper, 1653), 87; Stoever, "Faire and Easie Way," 144-45; von Rohr, Covenant of Grace, 135-37.

(80.) McGiffert, "Perkinsian Moment," 135-36.

(81.) Preston, Churches Marriage, 11.

(82.) See Parnham, "Humbling."

(83.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 63, 65.

(84.) Ibid., 443, 431-32.

(85.) Ibid., 460, also 490.

(86.) Ibid., 15.

(87.) See, for example, ibid., 236-37.

(88.) Crisp, Compleat Works, 81.

(89.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 45, and sermon 2, passim.

(90.) Ibid., 380, 423-27. Crisp cites Revelation 22:17 and John 6:37.

(91.) Ibid., 420.

(92.) Crisp, Compleat Works, 38-39, 81-84, 136.

(93.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 58-60, also 199, 291, 476; Crisp, Compleat Works, sermons 6-7, passim.

(94.) Crisp, Compleat Works, 42, 82-83, 86-87, 90.

(95.) Crisp, Christ Along 236. See also 64-65, on the "bitternesse" and "disquieting" that the "dust of sinne" occasions Perkinsian spirits and consciences.

(96.) Ibid., 14.

(97.) Ibid., 419; Crisp, Compleat Works, 94.

(98.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 399; Crisp, Compleat Works, 43.

(99.) Crisp's assimilation of gratuitous and covenantal themes bears out his puritan credentials, and the vehemence of his hostility to rigorist ways suggests a rejection of core values that he had long carried with him--a repudiation of an ideological provenance in which he himself had been shaped. Crisp illustrates McGiffert's observation that antinomianism flowed from the puritan heart "as its characteristic and defining heresy": McGiffert, "Perkinsian Moment," 131. Como places Crisp within an antinomian network that he shows, brilliantly and exhaustively, to have emanated from the culture of early Stuart puritanism (see note 3 above).

(100.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 27, 435.

(101.) Crisp, Compleat Works, 54: "there is not one work [a man] doth, but he commits sin in it."

(102.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 52, 198; Crisp, Compleat Works, 84. This is where Bozeman seems to misrepresent Crisp. If, as Bozeman suggests, Crispian faith is a "medium of certainty" by virtue of its capacity to "join to Christ" (Precisianist Strain, 269), it would follow that the subject of that faith was discharging the secondary, instrumental causality in a condition-meeting scenario that Crisp was interested only in abandoning.

(103.) See, for example, Crisp, Christ Alone, 266-67, 497, 506, 514-15.

(104.) Ibid., 466, 475, also 457-522; Crisp, Compleat Works, 169, 578.

(105.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 394-95.

(106.) Ibid., 61.

(107.) Sibbes, Works, 3:470, 472-73.

(108.) Ibid., 3:444; 4:130.

(109.) Ibid., 4:135.

(110.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 6.

(111.) Sibbes, Works, 2:316-17.

(112.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 16-17, 390-94, 446-47, 452, 493-94.

(113.) Ibid., 8, 11, 16, 187, 369; Crisp, Compleat Works, 92, 96, 137; Eaton, Honey-Combe, 10, 17, 47, 77, 87, 154, 323-24, 349, 371-72, 374-75, 405, 447, 468.

(114.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 79.

(115.) Crisp, Compleat Works, 57.

(116.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 185, 159-60, 394-96, 523; Crisp, Compleat Works, 44-46, 114-15, 557-58. For some examples of the puritan understanding of the ability of prayers and tears to solicit God's favor, to "bring downe all mercies" and "stay" the divine "hand," see John K. Graham, "'Independent' and 'Presbyterian': A Study of Religious and Political Language and the Politics of Words During the English Civil War, c. 1640-1646" (Ph.D. diss., Washington University, 1978), 1:104, n. 51.

(117.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 17, 4-23, 29-30, 370-71,442-43; Crisp, Compleat Works, 46, 73, 125.

(118.) Crisp, Compleat Works, 95.

(119.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 272.

(120.) Ibid., 10: the pietist is presented as an agent of "pride," a man who, on account of the sin of his "best work," forfeits earthly and heavenly "blisse" and finds himself cast "into utter darknesse."

(121.) Ibid., 88: this is the "sweet song" that consumes Crisp's voice throughout the bulk of the collection.

(122.) Crisp exhibits an unflagging stamina in developing the theme of Christ's forensic advocacy on behalf of his sinful "clients."

(123.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 310-14, 338, 399, 520, also 367, 371; Crisp, Compleat Works, 50, 70, 558. Even when the "husband" does appear, he is "rock"-like: more agent of forensic righteousness than intimate spiritual companion and source of infused habits and qualities. See Crisp, Christ Alone, 380-81.

(124.) See, for example, Eaton, Honey-Combe, 429-44.

(125.) Ibid., 78.

(126.) See, for example, Geree, Doctrine of the Antinomians, 69-84, 103; Rutherford, Survey, part 2, 39-40, 171.

(127.) On the puritan response to Crisp, see Parnham, "Humbling."

(128.) Geree, Doctrine of the Antinomians, Epistle to the Reader; Burgess, Vindiciae Legis, 15, 48.

(129.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 100, 118, 317, 381; Crisp, Compleat Works, 158, 169, 623.

(130.) Crisp, Compleat Works, 58.

(131.) Crisp, Christ Alone, 500.

David Parnham is an independent scholar in Australia.
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