Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Answer. “ Trust or confidence is not always in « scripture taken in the same sense. First, it is some“ times put for the object of confidence or the thing « trusted in, Job xviii. 14. His confidence shall be rooted *36 'out of his tabernacle : that is, his children or wealth. “ Secondly, it is put for fiducial assent or persuasion, “ as in 2 Corinth. i. 15. In this confidence, that is, being « persuaded. Heb. xiii. 18. We trust we have a good * conscience, that is, we are persuaded. Thirdly, some“ times it is put for the comfortable sense of security « or freedom from danger, which is the effect of per

suasion. Job xi. 18. Thou shalt be secure. The ori“ ginal word signifies, Thou shalt trust, or, as the Ges neva translation has it, Thou shalt be full of confidence. « Confidence belongs to the essence of faith in the se“ cond sense, or, as signifying a persuasion, that God “ makes us a grant of Christ and of eternal life in him. “ In the third sense, the word confidence seems to be “ used in "Ephes. iii. 12. as signifying that composed rest and establishment of mind, which is the imme“ diate effect of faith, according to its measure; and " which is manifested by what is there called boldness, « or liberty of speech, in drawing near to God. But if it “ be considered, that this security is the effect, not only " of our reflection upon the direct act of faith, but of

that act itself; (we have boldness and confidence, it is u not said by the knowledge or consciousness of our 6 faith, but by our faith itself;) we will find here a con“ vincing proof, that faith discerns Christ, not only as “ a Mediator in general, but as a Mediator for us in par“ ticular, procuring for us peace with God and intro“ duction into his gracious presence ; for no other faith s can produce this boldness and confidence.".

LETTER VII.
On the Gospel-revelation of God as reeon-

ciled in Christ.

CHRISTIAN BRETHREN,

ARMINIUS and his followers, whose peculiar tenets' were justly condemned in the celebrated synod which met at Dort in the year 1618, represented this as the whole immediate effect of the death of Christ, that, justice being satisfied, God might, consistently with his honour, grant pardon and reconciliation on such terms, as he should see fit ; and that it might be possible for God, either to detain the captives or to set them at liberty. By the death of Christ, said they, God is reconcileable to all men, but reconciled to none*,

* Morte Christi, ait Arminius, factum est, ut Deus jam possit, justitia non obstante, hominibus peccatoribus peccata remittere, et Spiritum gratiæ largiri. Interea jus suum inte, grum manet, illa bona, illis quibus visum, et istis conditionibus quas præscribere volet, impartiri.

It is pity to see some, who profess adherence to the evange. lical doctrine of the Reformation, warping so much to the Arminian scheme on this head. Some have taught, that God might, in strict justice, withhold grace and glory from those for whom Christ died. How can this opinion consist with what the scripture teaches about Christ's giving himself a ransom for enany, and laying down his life for the sheep, as their Surety? Matth. xi. 28 John x. 11, 15. Heb. vii. 22. When an adequate satisfaction is once given by the Surety, the persons, on whose behalf it is given, are, in strict justice acquitted: grace and glory are theirs, in strict justice, as merited by that satisfaction: because he and they are one, in the eye of the law.

Would it be a sufficient declaration of the truth in this matter, to say, that the satisfaction or righteousness of Jesus Christ opens the way for the exercise of mercy in such methods as the wisdom of God sees fit to adopt?

By no means. Were the righteousness of Christ no more than a satisfaction to the penalty of the broken law, there might

[ocr errors]

in a similar manner, Mr. Bellamy speaks of God's willingness to be reconciled upon their return to him. “ The gospel,” according to him, “is glad tidings, that, skl. through Christ, God is ready to be reconciled to the * returning penitentt.” “God” says he in another

† Dialogue p. 110.

be some pretence for saying, that it only opened the way for „exercise of mercy by the removal of the curse. But his right

eousness is also a compleat fulfilment of the precept, considered as the condition of eternal life, in the stead of his people. In this view, it is called, his obedience; and gives them legal security for all the blessings of that life, Rom. v. 19.

This is more evident by considering, that, in point of merit, the obedience of Christ is infinitely superior to that of man before the fall. The merit of the first Adam was only improper merit; as, if he had continued upright, his title to eternal life . would have risen, not from the worth of his obedience, but fram

the promise of the covenant of works. Whereas the merit of the second Adam's obedience is most proper, its intrinsick value being such as entitles 'to eternal life, according to strict justice. , Hence his blood is called precious blood; the blood and righteousness of God; that is, a righteousness wrought out in our nature by him who is the true God, whose name alone is Jeho. val, 1 Pet. i. 19. Acts xx. 28. Rom. ii. 22. And will any Christian deny that grace and glory are due, in strict justice, to this astonishing righteousness ?

It seems improper to speak of the righteousness of Christ as opening the way for some other methods which God may adopt of exercising his mercy; a mode of expression borrowed from the Arminians, implying that we have ground to expect that God will adopt some other methods of exercising mercy as additional to that of exercising it through the blood of Christ'; or rather that this is only an introduction to those other methods. · Mercy is exercised through the blood of Christ in the pardon of sin, Ephes. 1. 7. in the adopting of poor sinners into the family of God, Gal. iv. 5. in their sanctification, 1 Pet. ii. 24. in bringing thein at last to the full enjoyment of eternal life, Rom. v. 21. The Bible knows no other method, nor gives us ground to expect that any other will ever be adopted. The Arminian method for which, they say, the blood of Christ opened the way, is a new law or covenant of works, directly opposite to God's method of exercising mercy, Rom. iji. 27, 28. iv. 5. xi. 6. , ,

But it is said, that the salvation of sinners is not a cominer cial transactions that sin is not a debt, but a crime.,

place,“ to testify his approbation and infinite delight in “the obedience and sacrifice of his Son, becomes, reaá dy to be reconciled to any how vile soever, who repent « and returnt.” On the contrary, the Divines whom

Essay on the nature, &c.

Sin is called in scripture a debt and sinners debtors ; designations, which may be of much use in directing us to right apprehensions of Christ's suretyship and satisfaction. To say that Christ paid our debt, when he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, 18 sound speech, that cannot be condemned. Nor is it any way inconsistent with our doctrine on this head, that some things may be said of a private debt, that would not correspond with what we believe concerning the punishment of sin. A creditor may dispense with the payment of such a debt. But the holiness and justice of God, and the honour of his moral government of the world, render the punishment of sin indis. pensably necessary. For he cannot deny himself. But this only tends to the fuller establishment of our doctrine ; as it shews, 'that no other righteousness could be accepted of God, as the ground of our justification, but such as, in strict justice, would entitle us to that and all the other blessings of grace and glory. Our salvation, through such a righteousness, is not only in some way consistent with the justice of God, but, as the apostle says, · Rom. ii. 25. declares it, glorifies and sets it in the most con.

spicuous and illustrious point of view. . But how is this righteousness of Christ peculiar to the elect,

since it is as sufficient for others as for them; and as suitable to the case of other sinners as to theirs ?

The sufficiency and the suitableness of this righteousness, together with the free offer or grant of it to sinners of mankind indefinitely, are the grounds upon which tbe hearers of the gos. pel are called to believe in it for their salvation. But this setting forth of Christ and his righteousness to these hearers, whilst it is not embraced by faith, is no evidence of their belonging to the number of those for whom Christ died : for they only are of that number, who are in him as their federal head an in-being in him, which is an impenetrable secret; till it be inanifested by the Holy Spirit working faith in their hearts, and thereby vitally uniting them to him in their effectual calling,

But it is said, that in this case there will be no room for free rmission with respect to the Father.

Here we may observe a difference between pecuniary debts and tire debt of punishment. In the former case, the payment of a debt by a surety, or one that gives bail, is agreeable to the letter of the law, as well as the payment of it by the debtor bino

Mr. Bellamy opposes, teach, that God is revealed in the gospel as reconciled in Christ. By this expression it is not meant, that any change takes place in the Dature or will of God, but only that the infinite justice,''

self; it being all one to the creditor. But as to punishment, the law in its rigor, says, the same person that sinned should saffer. Here then the grace of the Father is manifested, in his not insisting upon the terms of the law, that sinners should suflor, the punishment of their own sin ; but admitting it to be trans. ferred to the person of Christ, or condescending to consider Christ and the elect as one, and to regard them as suffering and satisfying offended justice in him. Thus the grace of the Fa. ther appears in admitting, and also in providing a Surety for poor sinners. But the Surety being once admitted, and his satisfaction being adequate, he having suffered the whole punish- : ment due to the sins of his people, the remission of sin, is, with regard to him, a matter of strict justice; whilst it is to us altogether, of free grace. These two are still represented as barmonizing in the forgiveness of our sins through the satisfac. tion of Christ, 1 John i. 8. Rom. iii. 26. Besides, all the grace manifested by the Son in the remission of sin, is also the grace ; of the Father; for he and the Father are one.

The covenant of grace having been made from eternity among the persons of the Godhead, and the Son having, accor- ! ding to his undertaking, perfectly fulfilled the condition of that ; covenant, the accomplishment of all the promises, is due to him, in strict justice, according to that blessed council of peace.

Nothing is added or given to the perfection of the Divine Being by the righteousness of Christ: nor is any change ascribed to God by what is now said concerning the effect of that righteousness; the change is only in the relation of the creature to God.

But if grace and glory be due, in strict justice, to Christ; on account of his law-magnifying righteousness, and to liis people in him, how is their faith still necessary?

We answer, faith is an eminent fruit of this righteousness, and the mean of our possessing it to our actual justification, terminating on the conscience : it is also an eminent accom- . plishment of the promise, and the mean by which we embrace all the promises as yea' and amen in Christ. It is the spiritual? organ by which Christ and the good of the promise in him are received and enjoyed, while we are in the present imperfect state. Without faith and the fruits of it, we have no evidence of our being among those for whom Christ died and rose : again.

« AnteriorContinuar »