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this, imagining that this takes away all obligation and encouragement to embrace the gospel and work out your own salvation. Both of these delusions equally lead to destruction, * May you realize the infinitely evil and dangerous state in which you are, and be excited to fly from the wrath to come, by laying hold of the hope set before you, knowing that falvation is freely offered to you, and heaven stands open for you, and you are invited to run for this prize, having at the same time the offer and promise of the Holy Spirit, and of all the affistance you want, if you will fo far trust in God as to ask him for all this. O finners, why will ye die !
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1800.
Romans iii. 27. Where is boasting then? It is excluded.
By what law? Of works? Nay; but by the law of faith. THE Apostle Paul does in this epistle particularly
ftate and explain the way in which sinners may obtain the favour of God, and eternal falvation, which is opened by the gospel. There are but two possible ways of obtaining the favour of God and eternal life, which he mentions, viz. by the works of the law, or obedience to the law of God, and by faith in Jesus. Christ. The former way he says is impossible to sinners, and if it were possible, it would be highly improper, and attended with evil consequences. Having proved that all men are finners and guilty before God, he says, “ Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his fight: for by the law is the knowledge
of sin. Because the law worketh wrath; and the salvation of finners is not of works, left any man should boast." The latter therefore he establishes as the only proper, wise and possible way in which sinners may be justified and saved, and says, “ Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law : and it is of faith, that it might be by grace, by which boasting is wholly excluded.
In attending to these words of the text, it will be at. tempted to explain them by showing what is meant by the law of works, and what by the law of faith, and why boasting is excluded, not by the former, but by the latter ; and then improve the subject in some useful remarks and inferences from it.
By the law of works is meant the original law or conItitution, which requires perfect, persevering obedience, in order to have and continue to enjoy the favour and blessing of God, and which pronounces him accursed who is guilty of disobedience in one and the least poflible instance. This law every rational creature is under obligation to obey. The holy angels were made under this law, and, by a sinless, perfect obedience to it, during the whole time of their probation, they have obtained and enjoy the divine approbation, and the reward of eternal life. This is the constitution under which Adam and all his posterity were made ; this is the law of works. Had the father of the human race continued perfectly to obey this law to the end of his time of trial, he would by these his works have obtained eternal life for himself and his children too; but, by transgressing this law of works, he fell under the curse of it, and laid the foundation of the ruin of all his children, by their falling into the same state, as their sinning was, by divine constitution, connected with his transgression.
And many of the sinful children of Adam have and do, through their pride and ignorance of themselves, and of the nature, extent and design of the divine law, seek and attempt to become righteous, and obtain pardon and falvation, by the works of the law--their own obedience. Most of the Jews did so in the days of the Apoftles. They fought righteoufness as it were by the works of the law, and went about to establish their own righteousness; and in this way they failed of obtaining righteousness, and remained as much under the curse of this law of works as if they had attempted no obedience to it: for all who in this way are of the works of the law, are under the curse of it'; for it is written, Curfed is every one who continueth not in all the things which are written in the book of the law to do them. This way to life is forever fhut against all the fons of Adam ; for they have all tranfgrefled it, and by this have rendered it forever impossible to obtain the righteousness of it by their own works and obedience. It is natural, however; for fallen man, Gentiles as well as Jews, to seek a righteoufness by their obedience to this law, and to gratify their pride and disposition to trust and boast in themselves and their own righteousness; and numbers beyond our calculation in the Christian world have taken and are still taking this fure road to destruction, rather than to give up and renounce that boasting, which muft be effectually destroyed in order to embrace the gospel
By the law of faith, is meant the gospel institution and dispensation, in which provision is made for the pardon, juftification and falvation of finners who are under the condemnation and curse of the law ; not by any works of righteousness which they have done or can do, to take off the curse of the law, or to recom. mend themselves to this favour and blessing, but purely on the account of the atonement, righteousness and worthiness of Christ, in which they become interested fo as to avail, on their behalf, to deliver from all the evil they deserve; and procure all the good they want, by faith in him, or believing on his name.
It being of great importance that all should have right and clear conceptions of this subject, it is proper and useful to give a more particular description of these two laws, the law of works and the law of faith. This inay
be done to the best advantage, perhaps, by considering wherein they agree with each other, and in what refpects there is a difference and opposition of one to the other; and how not the former, but the latter, excludes boasting
First. It is to be considered and shewn wherein there is an agreement between these two laws, and what is as true of one as of the other, and is common to them both.
1. Holiness or obedience is necessarily implied and exercised in compliance with each and either of these laws, and in order to be interested in the promises and blessings which they contain.
The law of works requires perfect and persevering holiness and obedience, in order to enjoy the blessings of it. The least fin cuts a person off from all the promifed good of this law, and subjects him to the curse of it, without any possible remedy by that law, as has been before obferved.
And a compliance with the law of faith, or the cove. nant of grace, which is the fame, implies holy exercise or true obedience; and this is absolutely necefsary in order to be interested in the promises and blessings of this law and covenant.
That faith from which this law or covenant has its denomination, and in the exercise of which this law is complied with and fulfilled, and to which all the promises it contains are made, implies holiness of heart, and is itself a holy exercise. This being an important point, and denied by many, so much evidence of it from scripture and reason will here be produced, as it is hoped will be sufficient to establish the truth of it to the conviction of every unprejudiced mind,
That faith which discerns and believes the truth of the gospel from a view of the moral excellence and wife dom of it, and fees the character of Christ to be divinely excellent and beautiful, is not a mere fpeculative faith, confined to the understanding, exclusive of taste and exercise of heart, and cordial approbation. Moral K k
excellence and beauty is not, and cannot be, the object of mere intellect, as distinguished from taste and discerning of heart; therefore a real fight of moral excellence and beauty, or loveliness, necessarily implies love of that excellence and beauty, and these cannot be distinguished or separated one from the other ; for they are really one and the same thing. Hence it is demonstrably certain, that the faith which discerns the gospel to be true and excellent, or that internal evidence which renders it most worthy of belief, implies a discerning, taste and relish of divine excellence and beauty, which is a virtu. ous disposition and exercise of heart; and is real holiness of heart, if there be in nature any such thing.
But that saving faith implies and essentially confifts in a holy exercise of heart, in embracing the gospel as excellent and holy, and worthy of all acceptation, a cordial approbation of Christ and his character, and trusting in him, is abundantly evident from the scripture, as well as from the reason and nature of the case.
The following passages, among many others which might be mentioned, afford an undeniable proof of this.
Believing on Christ and receiving him is mentioned as one and the same.
“ But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the fons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Coming to Christ and believing on him is mentioned as the same thing.
Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath faid, out of his belly shall flow living waters.”. Receiving Christ and coming to him are holy exercises of heart; for the character of Christ is so perfectly holy, that it is impossible that an unholy heart should be pleased with it; and none can cordially come to him and receive him but in the exercise of ho. ly love to him. Christ said to the Jews, “ This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent;" and proceeds to speak of coming to him, and eating his flesh and drinking his blood, as being the fame with believing on him : [John vi. 29–58.] He