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as did the elder fon : and yet their love and friendship was exercised and exprefled in very different and oppofite ways, according to their different and opposite state and circumstances.
But the difference and opposition between these two laws of works and faith in other respects, which are implied in or do arise from that already mentioned, though not so great and important, yet must be noticed, as necessary in order fully to understand the subject to which we are attending.
2. None can be justified and obtain eternal life by the law of works, unless he is perfectly obedient and holy, without the least fin or defect.
But by the law of faith the least degree of holiness exercised by a finner, in believing in Chrift, and coming to him, and trusting in him for pardon and salvation, obtains justification and the promise of eternal life, while he is yet attended with a great degree of unholiness and fin. The reason of this difference is, because by the law of works a creature is justified by his own works or holiness, which therefore must be perfect ; for by the least fin he falls under the curse of the law, and can never after obtain any bleffing by it: 6 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curfe ; for it is written, Curfed is every one that continueth not in all the things which are written in the book of the law to do them.". But by the law of faith the finner is not justified by his own works or holiness, but wholly by the merit and righteousness of Christ. The least exerçise of holiness by which a finner accepts of Christ offering himself to him, and comes to him for pardon, righteousness and complete redemption, interests him in all the blessings Christ has obtained for finners, and in all the promises of the covenant of grace.
" He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life. Verily, verily I fay unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him who fent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life;":
This leads to observe another difference between these two laws.
3. By the law of works a creature cannot be justified until he has persevered in perfect obedience to the end of the time of his probation : but by the law of faith the finner is justified, and interested in all the promises of the gospel, and made an heir of eternal life, upon the first act of faith in Christ. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; he shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life.” Saving faith is indeed a persevering faith, so that he who once believes will continue to believe to the end of life. His faith shall never fail; not because it is in its own nature à persevering faith, or from the power and sufficiency of the believer, but because God has promised, in the covenant of grace, that he who once believes, to whom he has given faith to lay hold of and embrace this covenant by believing on Christ, shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto falvation. The first act of faith being in this sense and manner a persevering faith, the promise is made to believing, even the very first act of it, and it is proper that this should bring into a state of justification, and give a title to eternal life, as the first act of faith is the beginning of an everlafting union to Christ, in whom the believer has everlasting righteousness and strength.
4. Though the holiness of the law of works and the law of faith be the same in nature and kind, consisting in obedience to the fame, and conformable to the revealed will of God; yet, owing to the state and circumstances of the finner, and the different way and manner of obtaining justification by the exercise of holiness, which has been described, there is a real and great, though circumftantial, difference in the exercise of the same holiness. The finner, infinitely guilty, ill-deserving and wretched, exercises his love to God and his law, and to Christ the mediator, in coming to and trusting in Chrift, and receiving from him deliverance from the infinite evil he deserves, and from all fin, and accepting of all
the good he wants and is capable of enjoying to all eternity, as a free, undeserved gift. He has a greater sense of the infinite goodness and free grace of God, and feels more dependent on this, and more indebted to God, and under greater obligations to him, than the holy angels who have never sinned can; and consequent. ly the redeemed exercise a greater degree of humility, and a more ardent and sweet love of gratitude, and ren. der a higher tribute of praise to God, their Redeemer and Saviour, than they are capable of who have never finned. Therefore the redeemed from among men are represented as singing a new song before the throne of God, which none but they could learn.,
Thirdly. It is to be considered how and why all boasting is excluded by the law of faith, as it has been explained.
It is not implied in this, that the law of works, when rightly understood and perfectly obeyed, affords any ground of boasting in a bad fense, or of sinful boasting, which is meant here. The holy angels, who are justili
. ed, and have obtained the reward of eternal life by the law of works, have no ground for boasting. They have no pride, and do not glory in themselves, in their own obedience and works, but in the Lord, in his munificence and glorious character. But this law of works is not suited to the sinner, to obtain justification and life by it; for he has fallen under the curfe of it, and is forever excluded from the righteousness of it in his own person ; and to-fuppose a sinner can be justified by any obedience or works he can perform, is to let him infinite ly higher than the place and state he is in, and to dishonour and degrade the law ; and for a finner to at. tempt this, is a most daring instance of pride and selfconfident boasting. And were it poflible that a finner could obtain the favour of God, and justification, by any obedience or holiness of his own, and out of respect to the worth and amiableness of that, this would please and fatter his pride, and nothing could prevent his haughty boasting of himself and his own good works.
And this fuits the heart of proud man ; he naturally feeks to be justified by his own works, if he seeks it at all, that he may have something to boast of, by recommending himself to the favour of God by his own good deeds, being ignorant of himself, of his own character, and of God and his law.
Thus the Jews rejected the law of faith, and followed after righteoufness, and obtained it not, becaufe they fought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. They, being ignorant of God's righteousness, went about, or attempted, to establish their own righteousnefs. And many thousands and millions of Gentiles in the Christian world have ftumbled at that stumbling stone, the law of faith, which excludes boasting, and have fought and are now seeking to be faved by the law of works ; how many millions none can tell ! And perhaps there is not, nor ever has been, one of the fons or daughters of Adam who has enjoyed the light of divine revelation, and has in any meafure or way fought to be faved, who has not in a greater or less de. gree made this wicked and dangerous attempt. Happy are they who have been cured of boasting by embracing the law of faith.
What has been said in describing the law of faith is fufficient to show that it excludes all boasting. The finner in this way is received to favour, is justified and saved, not on account of any works he has done, or ever will do, and is not recommended to favour by any worthiness or holiness he has, but is considered as in himself, as poor and naked, wretched and miserable, infinitely guilty, and deserving to be cast into hell forever, and all the favour he receives is a free, undeserved gift and bounty, yea, bounty to the most ill-deserving. Where is boasting then ? What has he to boast of but guilt, ill-defert, poverty and wretchednefs ?
And all this is not only true, and he is viewed in this light by God, agreeable to his holy law; but the finner is made to feel and acknowledge this, and cannot believe on Christ and come to him by faith, unless he has a clear conviction of his own vile, odious character, and feels that he has no worthiness to recommend him to the least favour, but is infinitely far from it ; that he is so unworthy and infinitely guilty and ill-deserving, that he may be justly hated by God, and cast into endless destruction, Thus the finner, in complying with the law of faith, even in the first and every act of faith in Christ, humbles himself in the fight of God, while he is made in a sense ta annihilate himself before God, yea, to feel that he is infinitely worse than nothing. And all his holiness, and every right exercise of mind, consists in a hearty acknowledgement of this, and thus humbling himfelf, and approving of the character of Christ, and the
of juftification and falvation by him, which is the law of faith, and in views and exercises which are implied in this. Thus all pride and disposition to boast is counteracted and destroyed, the sinner abases himself, and rejoices to exalt free, sovereign grace, when and so far as he believes in Christ, and is pleased with the law of faith : and the more holy and obedient he is, in conforming to this law, the more humble he is, and farther from all disposition to boast. Thus all boasting is en. tirely and forever excluded by the law of faith,
Romans iii. 27. Where is boasting then? It is excludeda
By what law ? Of works? Nay; but by the law of faith.
IMPROVEMENT. I. E learn from what has been observed on this
subject, that they make a great mistake, and have espoused a dangerous and hurtful error, who believe and assert that if faith or believing in Christ, in order to justification, is a virtuous or holy act, or im,