Imágenes de páginas

works:" By the manner of his speaking has reference to something in her history ; but we have no account in her history of any other justification of her but this. 4. If, notwithstanding, any choose to take justification in St. James's precisely as we do in Paul's epistles, for God's acceptance or approbation itself, and not any expression of that approbation ; what has been already said concerning the manner in which acts of evangelical obedience are concerned in the affair of our justification, affords a very easy, clear and full answer: For if we take works as acts or expressions of faiths they are not excluded ; so a man is not justified by faith only, but also by works; i.e. he is not justified only by faith as a principle in the heart, or in its first and more immanent acts, but also by the effective acts of it in life, which are the expressions of the life of faith, as the operations and actions of the body are of the life of that ; agreeable to verse 26. What has been said in answer to these objections, may also, I hope, abundantly serve for an answer to that objection, that is often made against this doctrine, viz. that it encourages licentiousness in life. For, from what has been said, we may see that the scripture doctrine of justification by faith alone, without any manner of goodness or excellency of ours, does in no wise diminish either the necessity or benefit of a sincere, evangelical, universal obedience : In that, man’s salvation is not only indissolubly connected with it, and damnation with the want of it, in these that have opportunity for it, but that it depends upon it in many respects; as it is the way to it, and the necessary preparation for it, and also as eternal blessings are bestowed in reward for it, and as our justification in our own consciences, and at the day of judgment, depends on it, as the proper evidence of our acceptable state ; and that, even in accepting us as entitled to life in our justification, God has respect to this, as that on which the fitness of such an act of justification depends : So that our salvation does as truly depend upon it, as if we were justified for the moral excellency of it. And besides all this, the degree of our happiness to all eternity is suspended on, and determined, by the degree of this. So that this gospel scheme of justifi

Acation is as far from encouraging licentiousness, and contains

as much to encourage and excite to strict and universal obedience, and the utmost possible eminency of holiness, as any

scheme that can be devised, and indeed unspeakably more.

I come now to the V. And last thing proposed, which is, to consider the * importance of this doctrine.” I know there are many that make as though this controveray was of no great importance ; that it is chiefly a matter af nice speculation, depending on certain subtle distinctions, which many that make use of them do not understand themselves ; and that the difference is not of such consequence as £o be worth the being zealous about ; and that more hurt is done by raising disputes about it than good. Indeed I am far from thinking that it is of absolute necessity that persons should understand, and be agreed upon, all the distinctions needful particularly to explain and defend this doctrine against all cavils and objections ; (though all Christians should strive after an increase of knowledge, and none should content themselves without some clear and distinct understanding in this point :) But that we should believe in the general, according to the clear and abundant revelations of God’s word, that it is none of our own excellency, virtue, or righteousness, that is the ground of our being received from a state of condemnation into a state of acceptance in God's sight, but only Jesus Christ, and his righteousness, and worthiness, received by faith. This I think to be of great importance, at least in application to qurselves; and that for the following reasons. 1. The Scripture treats of this doctrine, as a doctrine of very great importance. That there is a certain doctrine of justification by faith, in opposition to justification by the works of the law, that the Apostle Paul insists upon as of the greatest importance, none will deny ; because there is nothing in the Bible more apparent. The apostle, under the infallible conduct of the Spirit of God, thought it worth his most strenuous and zealous disputing about and defending. He speaks of the contrary doctrine as fatal and ruinous to the souls of

[ocr errors]

men, in the latter end of the ninth chapter of Romans, and beginning of the tenth. He speaks of it as subversive of the gospel of Christ, and calls it another gospel, and says concerning it, if any one, “though an angel, from heaven, preach it, let him be accursed ;” Gal. i. 6....9 compared with the following part of the epistle. Certainly we must allow the apostles to be good judges of the importance and tendency of doctrines; at least the Holy Ghost in them. And doubtless we are safe, and in no danger of harshness and censoriousness, if we only follow him, and keep close to his express teachings, in what we believe and say of the hurtful and pernicious tendency of any error. Why are we to blame, or to be cried out of, for saying what the Bible has taught us to say, or for believing what the Holy Ghost has taught us to that end that we might believe it : 2. The adverse scheme lays another foundation of man's salvation than God hath laid. I do not now speak of that inef. fectual redemption that they suppose to be universal, and what all mankind are equally the subjects of ; but I say, it lays entirely another foundation of man's actual, discriminating salvation, or that salvation, wherein true Christians differ from wicked men. We suppose the foundation of this to be Christ’s worthiness and righteousness: On the contrary, that scheme supposes it to be men’s own virtue ; even so, that this is the ground of a saving interest in Christ itself. It takes away Christ out of the place of the bottom stone, and puts in men's own virtue in the room of him : So that Christ himself in the affair of distinguishing, actual salvation, is laid upon this foundation. And the foundation being so different, I leave it to every one to judge whether the difference between the two schemes consists only in punctilios of small consequence. The foundations being contrary, makes the whole scheme exceeding diverse and opposite; the one is a gospel scheme, the other a legal one. 3. It is in this doctrine that the most essential difference lies between the covenant of grace and the first covenant. The adverse scheme of justification supposes that we are justified by our works, in the very same sense wherein man was to. have been justified by his works under the first covenant. By that covenant our first parents were not to have had eternal life given them for any proper merit in their obedience ; because their perfect obedience was a debt that they owed God : Nor was it to be bestowed for any proportion between the dignity of their obedience, and the value of the reward ; but only it was to be bestowed from a regard to a moral fitness in the virtue of their obedience, to the reward of God's favor; and a title to eternal life was to be given them, as a testimony of God’s pleasedness with their works, or his regard to the inherent beauty of their virtue. And so it is the very same way that those in the adverse scheme suppose that we are received into God's special favor now, and to those saving benefits that are the testimonies of it. I am sensible the divines of that side entirely disclaim the Popish doctrine of merit; and are free to speak of our utter unworthiness, and the great imperfection of all our services : But after all, it is our virtue, imperfect as it is, that recommends men to God, by which good men come to have a saving interest in Christ, and God's favor, rather than others; and these things are bestowed in testimony of God’s respect to their goodness. So that whether they will allow the term merit or no, yet they hold, that we are accepted by our own merit, in the same sense though not in the same degree as under the first covenant. But the great and most distinguishing difference between that covenant and the covenant of grace is, that by the covenant of grace we are not thus justified by our own works, but only by faith in Jesus Christ. It is on this account chiefly that the new covenant deserves the name of a covenant of grace, as is evident by Rom. iv. 16. “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace.” And chap. iii. 20, 24. “Therefore by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight—Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.” And chap. xi. 6. “And if by grace, then it is no more of works ; otherwise grace is no more grace : But if it be of works ; then it is no more grace ; otherwise work is no more work.” Gal. v. 4. “Whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from "race " And therefore the apostle when in the same eos... to the Gulatians, he speaks of the doctrine of justification by works as another gospel, he adds, “which is not another,” chop i, verse 6, 7 It is no gospel at all ; it is law : It is no covenant of groce, but of works : It is not an evangelical, but a legal doctrine, tent inly that doctrine whereit, consists the greatest and most essential difference between the covenant of grace and the first covenant, must be a doctrine of great importance That doctrine of the gospel by which above all others it is worthy of the name gospel, is doubtless a very important doctrine of the gospel. 4 This is the main thing that fallen men stood in need of divine revelation for, to teach us how we that have sinncol may come to be again accepted of God; or, which is the same thing, how the sinner may be justified Something beyond the light of nature is necessary to salvation chiefly on this account. Mere natural reason afforded no means by which we could come to the knowledge of this, it depending on the sovereign pleasure of the Being that we had offended by sin. This seems to be the great drift of that revelation that God has given, and of all those mysteries it reveals, all those great doctrines that are peculiarly doctrines of revelation, and above the light of nature. It seems to have been very much on this account, that it was requisite that the doctrine of the Trinity itself should be revealed to us; that by a discovery of the concern of the several divine persons in the great affair of our salvation, we might the better understand and see how all our dependence in this affair is on God, and our sufficiency all in him, and not in ourselves ; that he is all in ali in this business, agreeable to that in 1 Cor. i. 29.31 : “That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made untous wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption : That according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” What is the gospel, but only the glad tidings of a new way of acceptance with God unto life, a way wherein si.ners may come to be free from the guilt of sin, and obtain a title to eternal lite : And if, when this way is revealed,

« AnteriorContinuar »