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To speak of an imperfect or defective state of justification, seems to be a most egregious trifling in this awful concern.
We either are justified, or we are not; either God does pronounce us righteous, or he does not. Now, if he does, we are free from guilt, and fully accepted of him; but if he does not, we are under guilt, and a sentence of condemnati
There can be no medium, no middle state be. tween that of juftification and that of condemnation. -However, were it even granted that we might be imperfectly justified, in proportion to our con. formity to this supposed new law, we must at the best live and die but imperfectly justified; and (as I before observed) mult appear at the bar of Christ in the fame state in which we die ; and consequently be but imperfectly justified for ever, without fome further remedy be provided beyond the grave. Thus, this doctrine of justification upon the foot of personal obedience to a new law, is better adapted to a Popish purgatory than to the Protestant profel.
I would again inquire, whether it be possible in: the nature of things, that we may have any sincere obedience to this new law of grace, before we are justified; and consequently whether it is potsible that we may be justified by fincere obedience, before we have any acting of gracious fincerity, or any true obedience at all? Faith indeed does precede our justification in order of nature, but not in tine. There is no moment of time wherein a man is a true believer, and yet not justified before God; and therefore, there cannot be a moment of time for faith to be operative, and bring forth the fruits of new obedience, prior to our justification.---The righteousness of God is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe, for there is no difference, Rom. iii. 22. This is the constant lan.
fion and hope.
guage of the Scripture, We are justified by faith; and he that believeth is not condemned. Therefore as there can be no condemned, no unjustified believer,
time whatsoever, nor any time at all for ei. ther legal or evangelical obedience, between the first act of faith and our passing out of a state of condemnation into a state of justification, hence our fincere obedience must be the consequence, and there. fure cannot be the condition of our justification.
Besides, as there can be no fincere obedience an. tecedent to our interest in Christ and union to him, it hence appears, that our sincere obedience must necellarily be the consequence of our justification, and therefore cannot be the condition of it. I think, every body will allow that man to be in a justified ftate who is interested in Christ, and united to him. Now, our Lord himself assures us, that we cannot bring forth the fruits of new obedience, till we are united to him. John xv. 4, 5. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine ; fo no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing : Or, as it may be rendered, severed from me je can bear none, can bring forth no fruit at all *. There cannot be a greater folecism, than to speak of a sincerely obedient chriftless finner; and there. fore there cannot be a greater inconsistency, than for that to be the condition of our justification, which is the fruit and effect of our interest in Christ, and íu the consequence of our justified state.
These, Sir, are some of the many inconvenien. cies that attend this your scheme ; which one would think thould awaken your attention, and make you look well about you, before you venture your eter
nal Cumpare the Original with John XX. 7. and Jam. jjj. 12.
nal interest upon such an unscriptural and inconsistent foundation.
I proceed now to offer fome other objections against the doctrine you propose. And here one obvious exception against this doctrine is, that it perverts the go pel of the grace of God, and makes it properly and stričtly a covenant of works.The condition of the covenant of works was this : The man that doth these things, mall live by them, Rom.
And the condition of our justification, according to this new scheme, is this : The man that doth these things (i. e. that performs sincere obedi. ence to this new law of grace) shall live by them. Where then is the difference between the old co. venant of works, and this new imaginary law of
denomination to the covenant of works, was, that it required works or obedience as the condition of it. And does not this pretended new law of grace require works or obedience as a covenant condition, and does it not therefore de. serve the denomination of a covenant of works, as much as the other? If we run a parallel between the first covenant and this imaginary new law of grace, they will be found in all things to agree, as a covenant of works. Thus the old covenant of works was a law with sanctions requiring obedience, as the matter of that righteousness by which man was to be justified. And this imaginary new covenant is likewise styled a law of grace, which requires fincere obedience as the condition of our justification.
- Juftification, according to the tenor of the old covenant of works, was of debt : And thus it is likewise according to the tenor of this pretended new law of grace. An obligation to give a reward for service performed, makes it a debt, upon the service being performed; and it can be claimed as such, whatever proportion there is between the reward,
and the service by which it becomes due.-The old covenant of works, when it exacted obedience, yet gave no new strength for the performance of it: And thus it is likewise in the present case. For unless we are united to Chrift, and interested in his righteousness, we can have no security of new sup. plies of grace and strength as we need them. Whatever pretences to gracious assistance the pa. trons of this new law of grace can make, they do not pretend, that God has by covenant secured to us fresh supplies of grace for persevering obedience. -According to the tenor of the old covenant of works, juftification was suspended, forfeited and loft, upon the non-performance of the required obedience: And just thus it is likewise according to the tenor of this pretended new law of grace.--I must therefore again demand, wherein this new law does any way differ from a proper covenant of works ?
If it be pretended, that the conditions of this new covenant are much easier than the conditions of the old covenant of works, which required perfect, and this but imperfect obedience, as the term of our ac. ceptance with God: I answer, This supposal would nothing alter the general nature of the covenant. Works are works, obedience is obedience, whether perfect or imperfect. The condition of each co. venant is works ; and works come into the very formal nature of each, as they are covenants; and therefore how the one can be either more or less a covenant of works, than the other, I know not. Besides, it is a great mistake, to suppose that the conditions of this imaginary new law or covenant are easier than the conditions of the old covenant of works. The case is much otherwise. He with whom the first covenant was made, had sufficient power and ability to fulfil all its conditions, and fully to come up to all its demands : But fallen crea. tures are utterly incapable to perform sincere, though imperfect obedience ; they have naturally no sincerity, no truth in the inward parts, no prin. ciple of new obedience ; nor does this pretended covenant supply thein with any, as before obser. ved. And therefore whatever pretences are made, that these conditions are easier, they are indeed ra. ther harder to be complied with, than the conditions of the first covenant. It is more difficult for a man without legs to walk, than for a perfect vigorous lively man to run.
If it be further pretended, that this law of grace differs from the covenant of works, in that faith is, according to this scheme, made the principal con. dition of the new covenant, this is but an empty pretence. For faith is here considered but as an act of obedience, and as being feminally or virtually all evangelical obedience, including the same in the nature of it; so that this faith is nothing else but a constitutive part and active principle of the works required, and not distinct from them in the office of justifying. And was not Adam as much obliged, by the covenant of works, to act faith in the condi. tional promise of life, and to fubject himself to the authority of the Legislator, as we can be by this new law of grace -Let the case therefore be looked upon in any view, in every view, and this pretended new law, or covenant, of mild and fa. vourable terms, will be found to be as truly a co. venant of works, as the first covenant made with Adam.-There will indeed appear fome circumftan. tial differences between that covenant and this. For instance, That covenant was appointed and enjoined by God as a Sovereign; whereas this (as is pretended) was purchased by the blood of Christ, and is the law of a Mediator.-Thar covenant ad. mitted no renovation when violated; but this leaves