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predicted and threatened; which gave occasion to obviate their objections against God's dealings with them, and give them a just view of the true source and cause of their misery and ruin. That this was also the design of the 33rd chapter, is most evident from the express words of the context, as every one may see, that will read from the 26th to the 29th verse, where sword, famine, pestilence, and utter desolation, are expressly denounced and declared to be the evils referred to in this discourse. Now, what just argument can be drawn from hence? Will it follow, because God proportions his providential dispensations to the external conduct of his professing covenant people, that therefore we are justified by works, or that our eternal salvation is the immediate fruit of our own obedience? Will it follow, that because Ahab's threatened temporal destruction was prevented by his external reformation, that therefore he was justified and eternally saved upon the account of it? No, it is plain that all arguments to the present purpose, from these chapters, are altogether impertinent; and the pleas commonly taken from hence against perseverance in grace, because the righteous are represented as turning from their righteousness, are nothing at all to the purpose for which they are used.
But, after all, were it even supposed that these chapters referred to God's dispensations toward men in relation to their eternal state, how would they confirm the principles you are pleading for? They would indeed show us, that there is a necessary connexion between a life of obedience and our salvation, and between a life of disobedience and our perdition, which is a truth allowed on both sides of the present question. But as to the meritorious procuring, and entitling cause of our salvation, or the foundation of our
title to eternal life, there is nothing spoken in these chapters. If you would find these things explained by the prophet Ezekiel, read the 36th chapter of his prophecy, where the doctrine which you oppose is strongly asserted, and particularly illustrated. You will there find, it is God that takes away the heart of stone from his people, and gives them a heart of flesh; that causes them to walk in his statutes, and keep his judgments and do them; and that it is not for their sakes that he does this, but for his own name's sake: and that when this is done for them, they will have cause to be ashamed and confounded for their own ways; and to loathe themselves in their own sight, for their iniquities and abominations. You will there find, that though God will be inquired of by the house of Israel to do this for them, yet this is not the condition of their acceptance; he will bestow his special grace for his own name's sake, and not for their sakes. Now you will acknowledge, that the other chapters must be taken in the same view with this; and then, though it will appear that he who repenteth and continueth in obedience to the end, and none but he, shall obtain salvation at last; yet that this repentance and new obedience flows from God's sovereign grace, and is the fruit of a justified state. The same thing may be observed concerning any other texts of scripture which you can possibly cite to the like purpose. And I must here observe to you, it is a sure evidence of the weakness of that cause, that can be no better defended. There are multitudes of plain and positive texts of scripture, which ascribe our justification to faith, and to the righteousness of Christ alone; as I have had occasion to show you already. These must be interpreted away at any rate, because they do not agree with this scheme, which must by all means be
supported. But, then, what evidence have we from scripture for this doctrine, which is so strenuously contended for? None but this, that holiness and new obedience are necessary to salvation; which is just so much, and no more, to the purpose, as if you should attempt to prove your point from the first verse in Genesis.
You proceed to argue, that "Repentance for sin, which includes new obedience in the nature of it, is not only made absolutely necessary to salvation, but has the promise of pardon annexed to it, and is therefore plainly proposed in scripture as the condition of our justification.'
This is but a repetition of the former argument, in other words. The question before us is not, what is not necessary to our salvation; but what is the condition of our justification? It is not the question, whether pardon and salvation be necessarily connected to repentance and new obedience; but what it is that gives us a title to salvation; and whence it is that this repentance and new obedience flows, by which we are qualified to partake of saving benefits. The scriptures assure us, that this is the righteousness of Christ received by faith; and what you now offer is no ways inconsistent with the many declarations of this kind, throughout the whole word of God. If it were granted, that whatever are the requisites in them that shall be saved, and whatever qualifications have the promise of pardon and salvation annexed to them, are the conditions of our justification, it would then follow, that perseverance is a condition of our justification; and consequently, all dispute about being justified in this present life is at an end, as I have observed before. For the benefit is suspended, till the condition on which it depends is accomplished. Besides, I think, all men allow, that if repentance be the fruit and
consequence of our justification, it cannot be the condition of it. There can be nothing more preposterous, than to suppose an effect to be a condition of the cause producing it. And the scriptures assure us, that repentance is the fruit and consequence of our justification. Thus is it particularly represented to us, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. 28. 31. “A new heart also will I give you; and a new spirit will I put within you-and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings which were not good; and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations." Thus, likewise, Zech. xii. 10, "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born." In which texts you see, there is first a new heart and a new spirit; they are first in a justified state, they are God's people, and he is their God; they are first renewed, and have a spirit of grace and supplication; they have first the exercise of faith; they look upon him whom they have pierced; and then follows their repentance, as an immediate and necessary consequence of their regenerate justified state. This truth is most evident, not only from the scripture representation of this matter, but also from the nature of a true and sincere repentance. We must be united to Christ, and have a principle of life, before we can perform vital actions. We must have the dispositions of our souls renewed, before we can hate sin, and heartily mourn after a deliverance from what is naturally pleasant and delightful to us. We must first have faith in Christ's blood,
before we can repair to it for cleansing from pollution and guilt. We must first have a principle of love to holiness, before we can live a life of new obedience. The legal terrors, resolutions, and endeavours, which precede our justification, are very far short of true repentance, and therefore can have no promise of pardon or salvation made to them. It is therefore evident, that though an evangelical repentance does immediately succeed, and in its beginnings is even contemporary with a true justifying faith; yet it is in order of nature an effect and fruit of it, and consequently cannot be the condition of our justification.
And now I proceed to the consideration of your last argument, for the vindication of these principles. seems," you say, "that our obedience must be the condition of our justification, because the process of the final judgment will be put upon that issue, and every man will be judged in that awful day according to his works."
To which I answer, that I can see no manner of consequence in this reasoning; because God, of his infinite grace and bounty, will be pleased to reward the obedience of believers at the eternal judgment, that therefore our obedience is the condition of our present justification. You yourself, sir, have been so good to the young gentleman, your sister's son, as to take him out of prison, to pay his debts, to adopt him into your family, to call him by your own name, and to treat him as your own child; and I am told, that you intend to reward his dutifulness to you, by giving him the preference to your daughters, and by making him the heir your solid estate. If it should be so, would it from thence appear, that his dutiful behaviour was the condition of your taking him out of prison, and adopting him into your family? No, sir; you know that this