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Death prevailing again over the living seed, after it had been powerfully quickened, and burying it in fin and wickedness. This was the death of David during his apoftacy, and is still that of all who once be. lieved, but now live in Laodicean ease or Sardian pleafure. And (5.) the death of confirmed apoftates, who, by absolutely quenching the spirit of life in Christ Jefus the ad Adam, are fallen into the miserable state of nature and total helpleisness in which the first Adam was, when God preached to him the gospel of his quickening grace. These are faid by St. Jaines to be twice dead; dead by Adam's total apoftacy from God, and dead by their own personal and final apoltacy from the light of the world.
II. The foundation of the Crispian Babel is literally laid in confusion. When you
have confounded all the degrees of spiritual death, we may naturally expect to see you confound all the degrees of spiritual life, which our Lord meant when he faid, I ain come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." All that are quickened, do you say, are “ pardoned and justified.” As if a man could not be quickened to see his fins and reform, before he is quickened fo to believe in Christ as to receive the
pardon and justification mentioned Col. ii.. 539
and Rom. V, 1.
If you read the scriptures without prejudice, you will see that there are several degrees of spiritual life or quickening power. (1.) The living light which shines in the darkness of every man, during the day of his visitation. (2.) The life of the returning finner, whether he has always lived in open fin as the publican, or once walked in the ways of God as David. (3.) The life of the heathen, who like Cornelius fears God and works righteousness according to his light, and is accepted in his dispensation. (4.) The life of the pious Jew, who like Samuel fears God from his youth. This degree of life is far superior to the preceding, being cherished by the traditions of the patriarchs, the books of the old teftament, the facraments, priests, prophets, temple, fabbaths, facrifices, and other mean; of grace belonging to the Jewish aconomy: (5.) The life of the feeble Christian or disciple of John, who is baftized with water unto repentance for the remiffion of fins, and believing in the Lamb of God immediately pointed out to him enjoys the blessings of the primitive Christians before the day of Pentecoft. And (6.) The ftill more abundant life, the life of the adult or perfect Christian, imparted to him when the love of God, or power from on high, is plentifully shed abroad in his believing soul, on the day that Christ baptizes him with the Holy Ghost and urth fire, to fanatily him wholly and feal him unto the day of redemption.
III. When you have overlooked all the degrees of spiritual death and life, what wonder is it that
you fhould confound all the degrees of acceptance and divine favor, with which God blesses the children of men. Fermit ne honored Sir to bring also this article of the Christian faith out of the Calvinian tower of Babel, where it has too long been detained.
(1.) I have already proved, that, in consequence of the love of benevolence and pity, with which God loved the world, and through the propitiation which Christ made for the fins of the whole world, the free gift of an accepted time and a day of salvation came upon all
In this fenfe they are all accepted, and sent to work in the vineyard of their respective dispensations. This degree of acceptance, with the feed of light, life and power that accompanies it, is certainly p:evious to any work; and in virtue of it infants and compleat idiots go to heaven, for of fich is the kingdom of God. As they are not capable of burying or improving their talent of inferior acceptance, they are admitted with it to an inferior degree of glory.
(2.) While many abandoned Heathens, and those who follow their abominable ways bury their talent to the last, and fore it together with the degree of acceptance, they once enjoyed in or through the Be
loved; some, by improving it, are accepted in an higher manner, and like Cornelius receive tokens of increasing favor. The love of pity and benevolence which God bore them, is now mixed with fome love of complacence and delight.
(3.) Faithful Jews, or those who are under their dispensation, improving a superior number of talents, are accepted in a superior manner, and as a token of it they are made rulers over five cities, they partake of greater grace here, and greater glory hereafter.
(4.) John the Baptist and his disciples, I mean, Christians who have not yet been baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with fire, are yet more highly accepted ; for John, and the souls who live up to the height of his dispensation, are great in the fight and favor of the Lord. They exceed all those who attain only to the perfection of inferior economies.
(5.) But those Christians, who live in the kingdom of God, which was opened to believers on the day of pentecost
, whose heart burns with his love, and flames with his glory, are accepted in a still higher degree; for our Lord informs us, that great as John himself was, the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he, and as a token of superior acceptance he shall be made ruler over ten cities : he shall enter more deeply into the joy and glory of his Lord. Altho' concurrence with
is necessary in order to these four last degrees of acceptance, none enjoys them but in and thro' the beloved; for as his blood is the meritorious spring of all our pardons, so his Spirit is the inexhaustible fountain of all our graces. Nor are we lefs indebted to him for power to be workers together with God in the great business of our salvation, than for all the other wonders of his unmerited goodness and redeeming love.
Let no body say that the doctrine of these degrees of acceptance is founded upon metaphysical distinctions, and exceeds the capacity of simple Christians ; for a child ten years old understands that he may be
accepted to run a race, before he is accepted to re ceive the prize; and that a man may be accepted as a day-labourer, and not as a fervant; be as a steward, and not as a child, as a friend and not as a spouse. All these degrees of acceptance are very distinct, and the confusion of them evidently belongs to the Calvinian Babel.
IV. As we have considered three of the walls of your tower; it will not be amiss to cast a look
upon the fourth, which is the utterly confounding of the four degrees that make up a glorified saint's eternal juftification. (1.) That which paffes upon all infants universally, and is thus described by St. Paul, As by the offence of one judgment came upon All men to condemnation ; even fo by the righteousness
, of one, the free gift came upon All men, unto present justification from original sin, and future juftifcation of life upon their repenting, and believing in the light, during the day their visitation. In consequence of this degree of jultification we may, without impeaching the veracity of God, say to every creature, God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten fon, to reconcile them unto himself, not imputing to them original sin unto eternal death, and blotting out their personal transgressions in the moment they believe with the heart unto rigirteousnes.
(2.) The justification consequent upon such believing, is thus described by St. Paul. This blessing of faith imputed for righteousness shall be ours, if we believe on him that was raised from the dead for our jnftifcation. We have believed in Fefus Christ; that we might le JUSTIFIED by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law.--Therefore being JUSTITIFD by faith we have peace with God thro' onr Lord Jefus Christ, &c.
(3.) The justification consequent upon bringing forth the fruit of a lively faith in the truths that belong to our dispensation ; this justification is thus mentioned by St. James. Rahab the harlot was justified by works.----Abraham our father was justified by works.
Ye fee then how by works a man is justified and not by faith only.
And (4.) final justification thus afferted by our Lord and St. Paul. In the day of judgment by thy words fhalt thou be juftihed, and by thy words fralt thou be condemned. Circumcifon and uncircumcifion avail nothing, but the keeping of the commandments, for the doers of the law fhall be juftined.
All these degrees of justification are equally merited by Christ. We do nothing in order to the first, because it fods us in a state of total death. Towards the fecond we believe by the power freely given us in the frist, and by the additional help of Christ's word and the Spirit's agency. We work by faith in order to the third. And we continue believing in Christ and working together with God, as we have opportunity, in order to the fourth.
The preaching diftin&ly these four degrees of a glorified saint's eternal justification is attended with peculiar advantages. The first justification engages the finner's attention, encourages his hope, and draws his heart by love. –The second wounds the self-righteous Pharifee, who works without believ. ing, while it binds up the heart of the returning pubtican, who has no plea but God be merciful to me a finner.--The third detects the hypocrisy and blasts the vain hopes of all Antinomians, who instead of Thew. ing their faith by their works, deny in works the Lord
+ These four degrees of a glorified saint's eternal justification are mentioned in the preceding Checks, tho' not so distinctly as they are here. If treating of our present justification by faith, and of justifi. cation by works in the day of judgment, I have called them our “ first and second justification," it was not to exclude the other two, but to attack gradually reigning prejudice, and accommodate myself to the language of my honored opponent, who called justifie "cution in the day of judgment a second justification. I should have been more exact at first; but I was fo intent in demonstrating the thing, that I did not think then of contending for the most proper name. Nor did I see then of what iinportance it is, to drag the monster error out of the den of confusion in which he hides hinself.